Tuesday, August 28, 2012

A sad story.

It's really sad when you see people you knew make stupid mistakes.  It's jarring to see my old classmates framed in mug-shot fashion in a news article like this.  It's also jarring that they're possibly going to spend some years in prison.

I knew Justin better than Zach.  He played the saxophone in the band that met at the same high school he broke into.  Wow.


Listening to:  The entire "North" album by Matchbox Twenty.  Streaming on itunes!
Things going on today:  First Tuesday of the semester.  Singers auditions.
Blessings:  No class.  Computer labs at work.
Learned:  The various facets of the human voice.

Saturday, August 25, 2012

A profound statement about what makes an "American"

In 1937 the anthropologist Ralph Linton published an article entitled "One-Hundred Percent American."  "There can be no question about the average American's Americanism or his desire to preserve his precious heritage at all costs," wrote Linton.  "Nevertheless, some insidious foreign ideas have already wormed their way into his civilization without his realizing what was going on."  These "insidious ideas" -- derived from the cultures of Asia, the Near East, Europe, Africa, and native America -- include pajamas, the toilet, soap, the toothbrush, the chair, shoes, the mirror, coffee, fermented and distilled drinks, the cigar, and even the newspaper.  On the train to work, Linton's "average American" reads the news of the day, imprinted in characters invented by the ancient Semites by a process invented in Germany on a material invented in China.  as he scans the latest editorial pointing out the dire results to our institutions of accepting foreign ideas, he thanks a Hebrew God in an Indo-European language that he is 100 percent (decimal system invented by the Greeks) american (from Americus Vespucci, Italian geographer).

--Larry Starr, Christopher Waterman
American Popular Music Second Edition 2007

Listening to:  Dolly Parton's "Coat of Many Colors"
Learned:  The Japanese have a tradition where they make art out of food.  This technique is called Bento.  Google it.  It's like amped-up school lunch!
Blessings:  Cool roommates.  A sister.  A bank.
Things going on today:  Bought a wig.  Paid for Gas.  Didn't find a Charles Schwab bank.

Heart Of Darkness: A quick, yet confusing read.

If you didn't get my hint, that was a photo still from the movie Apocalypse Now.  I had to watch that movie back in my senior year, and while there are parts I wish I could forget, I remember enough of that movie to be able to compare it to the book upon which it is based:  Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad.

The book and the movie are not very similar.  Even the very settings in which they are placed are strikingly different.  Heart of Darkness is set in Imperialist-era Africa, while Apocalypse Now takes place in Vietnam during America's controversial involvement there back in the 70's.  The character Marlow remains the ultimate perspective for both stories, but Apocalypse Now seemed like a more life-altering and disillusioning experience than what Marlow saw in the novel.  Heart of Darkness was rather dry.  Most of it was talking and observing simple natural phenomenon as Marlow travels to meet the man named Kurtz, who is present in both stories.  There were some parts where I wondered exactly who was speaking at one time.  Very few characters are brought into the limelight enough for me to recognize them as they perform various plot tasks. Perhaps this was what Conrad's intention, but it was difficult for me to follow the different personalities and to gauge their importance in the entire plot.

Simply put, this book probably was made cooler by the movie.  This doesn't make my favorites list, but maybe if I read it again, it would make more sense.

Listening to:  Big Bang Theory
Blessings:  Blankets, Saturdays.
Learned:  That there is more than one day to fix an 80's speaker system.
Things Going On Today:  Work.  Tried to try out for Staheli's choir, but he never opened his door.

Saturday, August 11, 2012

My Next Literary Adventure...

My next read:

Here's a hint.  Hopefully someone understands this reference.

Listening to:  Officer Jenny, "I saw the sky collapse."
Things going on today:  Olympics.  Missionaries over for breakfast.
Learned:  A little about the Relay races at the Olympics.
Blessings:  Mirrors.  Matching dress sizes.  Grandmas.

Portrait of a Lady

Finished Henry James' Portrait of a Lady this week.  Not my favorite book ever, but it had its good points.  I guess the best part about the book is the independent women.  Isabel Archer Osmond, while not the best example because she does end up marrying a misogynistic scum-bag, is a fiery character with lots of great ideas for herself and her future.  I may be wrong, but I think most women during that day and age were not given many opportunities to express their opinions or do what they wanted to do, so in a way this lifestyle is pretty revolutionary for its time.  Isabel wouldn't just marry the first rich guy to cross her path.  She sort of rejects three guys before she settles down.  But, UNfortunately, she is still sort of used and abused by society and ends up getting pushed into an "arranged" marriage after all. And in this marriage, she is stripped of a lot of her agency as a woman. So, like I said, she's not the best example.
But there are others.  Look at Herietta Stackpole, for example.  She not only gets married until the end of the book, but she's a business woman!  She writes!  How often do you see one of THOSE in nineteenth-century novels.  A woman of letters!  In the book, lots of people don't have a lot of respect for her.  She's intimidating and modern.  But I appreciate her spunk and her willingness to just do what she wants and serve those she loves.
My favorite character in the book is Ralph Touchett.  He's the most loyal, sweet, and wise person in the book.  The one who's always there, always willing to forgive, even if you make the stupid choice.  I'm glad Isabel learns to really appreciate him in the end.
 Something I learned from this book that I want to take with me into my own relationships:  First impressions can be very deceiving.  When you are dating someone, try to get to know the ENTIRE person before you decide to settle down with them.  Isabel thought she knew her husband Gilbert really well, but it turns out that he was not only a sour, somewhat emotionally abusive codger, but he was in some pretty big scandals in his younger years.  No wife ever wants to find out what Isabel finds out about Gilbert.  So watch out!  Demand honesty in a relationship.  Settle for nothing less than someone who loves you entirely.  Someone who will put you first and respect your opinions, not wish you didn't have any.  Sure, people make mistakes and they deserve a second chance, but keeping it a secret is not the way you go about deserving that second chance.  I never liked Gilbert Osmond from the start.  But more and more he is reminding me of some people I've seen in my life that I invested too much in.  They always end up disappointing you, but it's hard to leave them once you've started.  The very end of this book reflects that truth.

Listening to:  Officer Jenny's Album, "Grape Crayons."  It's super indie.
Things Going On Today:  Ran errands with dad.  Grocery shopping with mom.  It's good to be home.
Blessings:  Home.  Cars.  Coupons.
Learned:  How to change the oil in a car.