Tuesday, May 31, 2011

"Use the curtains if you must, but clothe this enormous girl!"

I have been bored with the internet lately. I've barely been online to check my email since last Wednesday (although it mayn't have seemed that way since I've posted a few times since then, but the sneaky thing is that those posts were scheduled in advance). Maybe it's because I've been having too much fun with my family.

Last week Mike and I babysat little Liron for almost an entire week while Miki and Ed were in San Fransisco. It was such a tiring week, since we were (obviously) still working at all our various jobs in addition to taking care of him, but we had a lot of fun.

Brandon went to Canada for a few days for business, so Dafni came to stay at my parents' house from Wednesday to Friday of last week. Then, when he came home, they ended up staying until Sunday afternoon, and we had fun times for several days. Friday we went to Whole Foods in Allen to eat hot dogs and amazing grilled corn on the patio. Saturday we had a lovely picnic in the backyard, which could only have been better if it hadn't included poor Goose getting stung by wasps (and if Beni had been there instead of at work).

On Monday we went to a pool party (my first in... years) at Claire and Greg's house in Plano, and had a great time with Meredith, Zach, Lori, Christian, and the pool duck. We went to Half Price Books, where I bought books; then we went to Old Navy, where I bought two shirts for a total of $6. (Thank you, Memorial Day.)

We've been vaguely sick for the past few days, Mike a little worse than me. He stayed home today to recover, and when I got off work we decided to watch movies for the rest of the night. It's been lovely. When I can get this sore throat to go away for good, it will be lovelier.

And that is all for now. Hopefully I can soon find something to get me interested in the interwebs again.

Goodbye, sweet hat.

Monday, May 30, 2011

Philosophy Series: National Security

My Stance:
I don't actually know.


My Thought Process, in No Particular Order:
I can't help thinking that trying to distinguish between torture and "enhanced interrogation" is a kind of pathetic attempt to justify behavior that people know instinctively is wrong.


I think Guantanamo Bay needs to be shut down, and I am very disappointed in President Obama for going back on his promise to do that. I am pretty skeptical when I read things like George W. Bush's description of how lovely Guantanamo is.


I can't help thinking that people in the CIA, the FBI, and other similar organizations are people who are a little ridiculous in how seriously they take themselves. Although their general purpose is admirable, I can't help suspecting that they do a lot we don't know about and would not be okay with if we did. Maybe I've seen too many movies, but I don't trust them, and everything I learn about them makes me trust them less. 


I can't help thinking that we entered a war on terror a little bit cavalierly considering the fact that it is a war that can never end; or rather, without considering it, since I don't get the feeling that we fully grasp that idea. But think about it--how can such a war end? Ever?


I see warning flags when I read that "the choice between security and values was real" (p. 169 of Decision Points). On the one hand, I know the president is under intense pressure to protect American citizens. I know that he would be absolutely crucified if something bad happened and he could have done something to prevent it. I know that basically, he was in a lose-lose situation. 


But I also know that I don't feel okay about choosing security over values. The whole point of values is that you don't just toss them out the window when a scary situation comes along. That's really my main issue with the national security question: I can't help thinking that it's just plain wrong to accept injustice because we're scared--especially because that injustice is so often perpetrated against others, not ourselves. It's amazing how easily we're willing to sacrifice other people's rights when we're afraid of them (think internment camps, racial profiling, etc.) regardless of whether or not that fear is even rational. 

“It is not fair to ask of others what you are unwilling to do yourself.” — Eleanor Roosevelt


See what I mean? On the one hand, I think the pursuit of national security pretty much inevitably leads to unethical behavior and infringement on people's so-called inalienable rights, and I think that is wrong. On the other hand, I don't see how the president could ever be expected to not act unethically in those situations. I am stumped.

Friday, May 27, 2011

Birthday List: Final Edition!

Same list I've posted before, but with a few additions. My birthday is in one week! That is weird.


This journal! Oh, I want this journal. It is a journal of lists. Countries I want to go to. Future Halloween costume ideas. Good deeds to perform. Events to time-travel to. I make lists like this all the time anyway, but now I will have somewhere official to put them! It is a list-maker's dream.


Also this Music Listography journal, which I did see at BN, but isn't on their website. Love. 


Mike owned this before we got married, but the CD itself has disappeared and left us with only the case.







I love this movie for many reasons, but lately I think the best is that Christian Bale does not play someone creepy or deranged. It's lovely to return to simpler times, isn't it?




Oh man, these. Especially A Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist, Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, Dracula, Cranford, and The Woman in White. I must have them all eventually, but since I suspect most of you probably aren't going to buy me the whole set at once, I thought it wise to give you a starting point.



I am completely in love with the music from this movie. (I'm completely in love with the movie itself, too. It just speaks to me, I guess--I can't watch it without getting on Facebook afterward and rhapsodizing about how incredible it is. I just listened to a preview of some of the tracks on Amazon, and I'm already swooning.)



This journal is ridiculously beautiful. I have long had a thing for journals like this, but have yet to actually buy one. 










<-- Obviously need to own this ASAP!

I still really want this book, but I've been torn between this version and the one that goes up through 2009. I think, though, that since they don't have a more recently updated one, I may as well stick with 2008, because I always prefer silver to gold. Nothing that interesting happened in 2009 anyway, right?




I still love dear Anne, and still have not bought this DVD. So this is on the list until further notice.


Possibly my favorite movie of 2010...










John Williams, Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, and one of my favorite movies based on one of my favorite books. Yes please.




And now the point where I am getting lazy... 

  • Pushing Daisies, any season
  • Cougar Town season 1 (I want season 2 but it's not out on DVD until August... boo.)
  • Parks and Recreation season 1 (Yes, I need to finally check it out.)
  • Several books that I've seen around the bookstores: Pearl of China, by Anchee Min; Song of the Silk Road, by Mingmei Yip; Dreams of Joy, by Lisa See; Norwegian Wood, Kafka on the Shore, After Dark, Sputnik Sweetheart, or pretty much anything else by Haruki Murakami (except The Wind-Up Bird Chronicle, which I already have). And don't forget--always paperback. I don't like hardcover books pretty unless the book is really big.

The end. Don't I have fantastic taste?

Thursday, May 26, 2011

Battle Hymn of the Tiger Mother, Amy Chua--8/10

When Mike saw that I had checked this out, he asked me what I thought about the Chinese style of parenting, and if I agreed with it. I told him absolutely not, but I thought the book would be really interesting to read. It was--and even more interestingly, I found that there are some aspects of Chinese parenting I do agree with. 


This book is the story of the author and how she raised her two daughters, Sophia and Lulu, while also teaching law at Yale. On the back of the book, and in the first chapter, there is a list of things that her girls (like most Chinese American children) were not allowed to do:

  • attend a sleepover
  • have a playdate
  • be in a school play
  • complain about not being in a school play 
  • watch TV or play computer games
  • choose their own extracurricular activities
  • get any grade less than an A
  • not be the #1 student in every subject except gym and drama
  • play any instrument other than the piano or violin
  • not play the piano or violin.

If we're talking specific techniques, there aren't very many Chinese practices that I would consider adopting with my own children--from that list, for example, I disagree with almost everything. The only ones I partially agree with are the sleepovers and TV/gaming. (In case you're wondering, the reason they can't have playdates is because they are literally too busy; their days are scheduled hour by hour, and are completely full with school, practicing violin or piano for at least two or three hours, doing homework, and family activities--optional, depending on whether or not they finished their practicing.)

As a general philosophy, though, there are points that I do agree with. For one thing, Chinese parenting assumes strength rather than assuming fragility (which, according to Amy Chua, is something that Western parenting has a tendency to do). Rather than always worrying about a child's self-esteem and whether some kind of discipline is going to damage it, a Chinese parent knows that their child is strong and teaches them how to handle things. 

This is why they freak out when a child comes home with a bad grade; what the parent is teaching them is that they got a bad grade only because they didn't work hard enough, and that they are fully capable of excelling in everything they do. Then the parent makes the child practice over and over again, so the next time they go back to school, they are ready to do things the right way. Again, in specific techniques, I would do it differently--I would never tell my child that he or she was a "disgrace" for getting an A- on an assignment. But I think the principle is a great one.

As far as the instruments and extracurricular activities go, I have mixed thoughts. On the one hand, I think it's ridiculous to make those choices for your children (to that intense extent, anyway). I think it's important to let children try different things, find out what they like, and have lots of different experiences. But on the other hand, I think it's often a good idea for parents to force their children on some things, like taking music lessons, which they might not want to do as a kid. If a parent gives a child the choice to quit those lessons, the child almost always chooses to quit--and as an adult, almost always regrets that choice. (I really regret quitting the violin in fourth grade.) To me, this is one of those situations where the parent obviously knows better than the child, and sometimes it's just necessary to make a child do something they don't want to do. From Amy Chua's interview with NPR, a section I liked: 

I've seen this track where people will start with a hard instrument, and three months later maybe one will say, oh gosh, the violin was hard, I'm switching to the oboe. But three months later you'll discover the oboe's hard, too, so I'm going to the guitar. And sometimes I just worry that what we're calling, oh, it's my child's choices, is really just kind of letting them take the easy way out.
Once when my daughter Lulu did poorly on a math test, I think she was about 10, she came home and she said, I hate math, I'm bad at math. Well, I went the quote-unquote "Chinese way," I made tons of practice tests. We drilled. I had a stopwatch. And guess what? A week later she did really well on her math test and she came home and she liked math. So I think in some ways a part of the parent's job is to help their child see what they're capable of.

This philosophy makes a lot of sense to me. There is so much more I want to talk about, but there's just far too much in this book for me to address it all in this post. I absolutely recommend reading it (and if you do, we can talk more about it in the comments!). Even if you sit there the whole time thinking "Wow, what a lunatic"--which I did plenty of the time--Amy Chua brings up a lot of really excellent questions to think about. It was so interesting to me that I ended up reading the whole book in about four hours, most of it in one sitting. I hope you get as much out of it.

Wednesday, May 25, 2011

Okay for Now, by Gary D. Schmidt--9/10

I am thinking that Gary Schmidt is a pretty fabulous writer. I've only read three of his books, but two of those have been absolute smash hits (and the third was also good). I adored The Wednesday Wars, and I think I like Okay for Now even better.

It's sort of a sequel to The Wednesday Wars, but more like a cousin--related because it's about a character who was in the first book, but not a book where you'll be confused if you haven't read the predecessor. It's a spinoff. As usual, I don't want to tell you much about the plot; the protagonist is Doug Swieteck, whose family moves away to tiny Marysville and has to start a new life. The pain in Doug's family kind of kills you--he has a horrible abusive father and two older brothers who are not that much better, one of whom is off fighting in Vietnam. But believe me when I tell you that you will feel good about the way this family's story develops.


Like the works of Shakespeare in The Wednesday Wars, the paintings of John James Audubon are a theme throughout the book--and if you just clicked on that link and got totally turned off to it, don't worry, because they're not something that would have interested me either, but they actually form a really beautiful part of the story. The focus isn't on the paintings themselves but on how Doug reacts to them, how they relate to his feelings and the events in his life, and that part is really lovely. 


This is the kind of book that, for me, completely justifies the reading of YA and young reader books by adults. Its target age group is 9-12, but it has more emotional depth and excellent writing than many adult novels do, and I think any adult would find it fulfilling to read. 

Monday, May 23, 2011

Philosophy Series: Guns

My Stance:
Frankly, I do not believe it is a right to own a gun, and ideally I think they should be illegal. My (slightly) more realistic preference is that all guns be illegal except small pistols and hunting rifles, for those who have a hunting license (although I also think only people who eat what they kill should hunt... but that's a different issue). There should be heavy and strictly-enforced restrictions on buying, selling, carrying, and storing guns.


Why:
In the first place, I simply believe that it is wrong to kill.


I understand that people want to feel safe, and that many people own guns for the sake of protecting their families. I fully, absolutely support protecting your family--but a gun is not necessary to do it. There are many non-lethal ways to defend yourself. 


In the second place, I am horrified by the idea of children having access to guns because their parents or neighbors own them. This may not be a problem if everyone were responsible and took appropriate precautions, but the fact is that they aren't and they don't, and children end up getting hurt. Gun ownership must be conditional--if you can't do it responsibly, then you don't get to own a gun. 


In the third place, I believe that the second amendment is being misinterpreted. It was written in a time when the people were asserting their rights to defend themselves, as a group, against the organized armies of a tyrannical government. The text of the amendment specifically refers to a militia. However, this is actually a moot point, because even if I did think that's what the text meant, I would think it was wrong to say it.


And finally, in reference to the oft-used argument that "the bad guys will still find ways to get them": Yes, they probably will. That is scary, but it doesn't change anything for the rest of us. We don't have control over what other people do, and we are not justified in doing something wrong just because they do. There are countless ways to protect yourself that don't involve a lethal weapon, so I don't feel that there is any justification for having one.


"A weapon does not decide whether or not to kill. A weapon is a manifestation of a decision that has already been made." 
— Steven Galloway (The Cellist of Sarajevo)

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Sarah Dessen

Along the same lines as my last post, today we met Sarah Dessen. We bought tickets a few days ago when we heard she'd be speaking at the DMoA, and this afternoon we rode the Dart train (Mike's first time) and took both the books we own (Just Listen and The Truth About Forever) to get them signed. It was mostly what you'd expect--she's fun and normal and pretty much seems like she could be any girl you know, more like 25 years old than 40--and when we got to the table where she was signing, she told Mike it was great to get some testosterone every once in a while. She talked a lot about This Lullaby and said it's one of her favorites, so I'm thinking I'll have to get to that one soon; I've had it on my iPod for about a year and have been meaning to listen to it. 


There's a (free!) festival at the museum in June at which we will be able to meet Rick Riordan, Laurie Halse Anderson, Norton Juster, and others, and Mike is also really excited about seeing Chuck Palahniuk in October. I am very much a fan of this new hobby of ours, and I think we will keep it up. 

Saturday, May 21, 2011

Have fun having a baby at your prom.

After we got off work yesterday, we ran home to change clothes and then headed to the Dallas Museum of Art to see Gary Shteyngart speak. I am in the middle of Super Sad True Love Story, his most recent book, and he talked about how he was really proud of the cover because his dachshund could play Twister on it. He started out with some fairly standard cheesy jokes about having become a "Facebooking twit" ever since his acquisition of an "iTelephone," but the jokes got better as he went on. He seems like a pretty friendly guy--moreso than you might expect from an author of scathing social satire--and danced when someone's cell phone went off:
I think my favorite part was when he said he needed to dispel a vicious rumor that had begun circulating around the "intertube" saying that he was in fact born in the United States, and not in Leningrad. To disabuse us of this notion, he produced his long-form birth certificate--and this little medal, because apparently the Soviet Union gave out medals for being born:

I really enjoyed hearing him speak, and after he read a passage from his book, Mike said he wanted to read it too. We decided to leave early because Meredith had invited us to go to a movie, and although I was reluctant to miss the rest of it, we were excited to see friends (and watch Bridesmaids again, because it is ridiculously funny).

So we drove to McKinney, grabbing the fastest food we could find on the way (and dropping beans on my collar so that I smelled like them the rest of the night), and watched the movie for the second time this week. Mike and I were both exhausted, but Kristen Wiig is worth it. (I'm not gonna lie, I could do without some of the raunchiness--I am never a fan of poop humor--but that is how good she is; I still end up feeling it's amazing.)

We didn't get to sleep in nearly long enough this morning to make up for it, but it was still a fantastic night.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Did You Know This??

Because I did not.


ARTICLE 11.

As the government of the United States of America is not in any sense founded on the Christian Religion,-as it has in itself no character of enmity against the laws, religion or tranquility of Musselmen,-and as the said States never have entered into any war or act of hostility against any Mehomitan nation, it is declared by the parties that no pretext arising from religious opinions shall ever produce an interruption of the harmony existing between the two countries.


Apparently, in 1796 the U.S. signed a treaty with "the Bey and Subjects of Tripoli of Barbary," and in that treaty made very clear that the government of the United States was not founded or based on the Christian religion. Quite surprising, considering.

The Green Glass Sea, by Ellen Klages--7/10

This was a truly lovely book. I don't think I've ever read anything about the Manhattan Project before, and the history involved was really fascinating; besides that, the characters are well-written and very likeable, and the story (not just the historical story, but the parts of the plot that are fiction) is easy to get engaged in. I would definitely recommend it for anyone, young adult or regular one. 


Dewey and Suze are the two main characters; both are young girls who live at Los Alamos, where their scientist parents are working on something they know only as "the gadget"--which we know is the atomic bomb. Dewey is a very clever girl who's fascinated by mechanics and building things. Suze reads comic books and wants to be friends with the girly girls, but doesn't fit in with them because she's too adventurous. I don't want to tell you any more about the story, so I will just say that it was done very well, and I really liked how all the elements--the families, the girls' relationships, the war--came together. 

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Top Ten Minor Characters

Getting sucked into defining levels of prominence makes this list impossible to write, so I'm going to interpret this like the Oscars do with movies--these are supporting characters, meaning any characters who aren't the main characters. 


And I think I'm going to try and make myself do it without including Harry Potter characters, because let's be honest, Harry Potter kind of tends to take over my favorites lists.

  • Mr. Big Bucks Ballard--Okay for Now, Gary D. Schmidt
  • Bill, Charlie's English teacher--The Perks of Being a Wallflower, Stephen Chbosky
  • Marilla and Matthew Cuthbert--Anne of Green Gables, L.M. Montgomery
  • Dawsey Adams--The Guernsey Literary and Potato Peel Pie Society, Mary Anne Shaffer and Annie Barrows
  • Verin Mathwin--The Wheel of Time series, Robert Jordan
  • Sebastian Rogers--The Peach Keeper, Sarah Addison Allen
  • Dogberry--Much Ado About Nothing, Shakespeare
  • Mameha--Memoirs of a Geisha, Arthur Golden
  • Mrs. Whatsit, Mrs. Who, and Mrs. Which--A Wrinkle in Time, Madeline L'Engle
  • Libby--The Confessions of Georgia Nicolson, Louise Rennison

I decided to leave Dave the Laugh off the list for the same reason as the Harry Potter characters--just too obvious. 

Monday, May 16, 2011

Philosophy Series: Immigration

My Stance: 
Ideally, I think everyone's borders should be completely open. Realistically, I think citizenship and naturalization need to be much, much easier to get. All potential immigrants should be welcome, not just ones with skills the U.S. wants. And no matter what, if you are born in the United States, you are an American citizen.


Why:
I just believe that no one deserves to be here any less than someone else does, and that people have the right to go wherever they will be happiest. 


I don't care much for all the separation between countries, the intensity of nationalism and "patriotism," and the desire to keep "others" out. I don't like claiming that one country is better than another, which seems to be the real point of what most people call "patriotism," or the anti-foreigner sentiment that is pretty common in America (at least the parts where I've lived). I believe that we are all brothers and sisters, and I just don't see what that kind of separatist attitude benefits anyone. (Yeah, I know I'm a hippie. Mike tells me all the time. :) )


I think the focus should be on legalization, not deportation. No, I don't understand all the economic issues; I'll admit that right now. But I do know that American companies thrive on the exploitation of immigrant workers, driving down wages for others and undercutting honest companies. That exploitation needs to stop, and those people need to have the same shot as everyone else at that "American dream" everyone's always on about. I also know that there's all that business about making America competitive with other countries, and although you're probably not surprised that this argument doesn't mean much to me, you know it means something big to most other people. Basically, our economy isn't helped by trying to keep other people down. 


America is a country of immigrants. It was built by immigrants. Almost every single citizen in this country is either recently descended from immigrants or an immigrant themselves, so I can't see where the justification for the desire to keep out other immigrants comes from. But I believe that the desire itself comes from fear, and that it's wrong to indulge that fear.

Sunday, May 15, 2011

I'm Going to Be 26

My birthday's in three weeks. That's kind of weird. And I'm going to be 26, which is not that weird, because sometimes I kind of forget how old I am so I think I've been thinking that I was 26 already. Also, at this point I am not afraid of turning 30--which is funny because when I turned 25, I was. 

Friday, May 13, 2011

Favorite Book Quotes

Back to the Broke and the Bookish top ten lists that I haven't done in a while, and I'm going to split this one in half because these are the five I can think of right now:


"Conventionality is not morality. Self-righteousness is not religion. To attack the first is not to assail the last."
--from the preface of Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte


"The virtue in most request is conformity. Self-reliance is its aversion. It loves not realities and creators, but names and customs. Whoso would be a man must be a nonconformist. He who would gather immortal palms must not be hindered by the name of goodness, but must explore if it be goodness."
--Self-Reliance and Other Essays, Ralph Waldo Emerson (emphasis added)


"Have you ever heard the wonderful silence just before the dawn? Or the quiet and calm just as a storm ends? Or perhaps you know the silence when you haven't the answer to a question you've been asked, or the hush of a country road at night, or the expectant pause of a room full of people when someone is just about to speak, or, most beautiful of all, the moment after the door closes and you're alone in the whole house? Each one is different, you know, and all very beautiful if you listen carefully."
--The Phantom Tollbooth, Norton Juster


"Prejudices, it is well known, are most difficult to eradicate from the heart whose soil has never been loosened or fertilised by education: they grow there, firm as weeds among stones."
--Jane Eyre, Charlotte Bronte

"Matter of fact, I watch tons of tube, but I also read tons of books so I can figure out what's true and what's fake, which isn't always easy. Books are like truth serum--if you don't read, you can't figure out what's real."
--Freak the Mighty, Rodman Philbrick

Thursday, May 12, 2011

Norwegian Wood, by Haruki Murakami--9/10

It's hard to say, but I think I love this book even more than I loved After Dark. Haruki Murakami's writing is like music to me, and I loved the characters and the setting and the feel of Norwegian Wood so much that I just wanted to stay in the book forever. 


I always forget to do summaries and I'm trying to remember to include them more, although for some reason they're hard for me to write after I've read a book, especially if I really loved it. So, in the briefest way possible: Norwegian Wood is about a Japanese college student named Toru Watanabe and his relationships with two women--Naoko, the emotionally fragile former girlfriend of his best friend in high school who committed suicide when they were all seventeen, and Midori, an outgoing, free-spirited girl who's in some of his classes in college. Naoko is in a sanatorium for much of the book, and they communicate through letters and Toru's occasional trips to visit her.


Haruki Murakami's characters are people I want to know in my life--flawed and hurt, but aware of it, honest about it; even when they lack self-confidence, even when they feel like they need to apologize for themselves, they don't pretend to be something they're not; and they accept other people who are flawed without judging them or condemning them for it. They don't play games with each other, they don't put up facades; they're real and beautiful even in their pain. It's amazing, and I can't wait to read the next of his books.

Wednesday, May 11, 2011

The Unfinished Angel, by Sharon Creech--7.5/10

This book was kind of adorable. I have yet to strike out with Sharon Creech--Love that Dog, Hate that Cat, and Walk Two Moons, which I can't remember except that I know I loved it when I read it in elementary school, are all fantastic--and The Unfinished Angel is no exception. 


The main character is an unnamed angel who isn't sure if she (or he) is a boy or girl angel (although in my head, the angel always sounded like a girl). The angel lives in a tower in the Swiss Alps, where people apparently speak Italian, and watches over a quiet little village where nothing much happens, until the day Zola arrives. Zola is a young American girl who wears three layers of clothes at once, all in different colors, and she has a mission.


I just read a lot of reviews that were kind of disappointed with this book, so I don't know, maybe super Sharon Creech lovers should set their expectations a little lower before reading? I didn't have any of the issues the other readers seemed to have. And I loved the angel, who gets words confused and sometimes combines them together, so you get things like "fidgetated," "contentful," "peoples," "crankiful," "surprisement," and--one of my favorites--"dimputer" instead of computer. 


The story is sweet, the writing is clever and funny, and the grumpy but kind-hearted angel was easy for me to like. I would wholeheartedly recommend it to anyone.

Tuesday, May 10, 2011

Birthday List: Slightly Updated

Same list I posted last month, but with a couple additions at the end:


This journal! Oh, I want this journal. It is a journal of lists. Countries I want to go to. Future Halloween costume ideas. Good deeds to perform. Events to time-travel to. I make lists like this all the time anyway, but now I will have somewhere official to put them! It is a list-maker's dream.


Also this Music Listography journal, which I did see at BN, but isn't on their website. Love. 


Mike owned this before we got married, but the CD itself has disappeared and left us with only the case.







I love this movie for many reasons, but lately I think the best is that Christian Bale does not play someone creepy or deranged. It's lovely to return to simpler times, isn't it?




Oh man, these. Especially A Christmas Carol, Oliver Twist, Wuthering Heights, Jane Eyre, and Cranford, The Woman in White. I must have them all eventually, but since I suspect most of you probably aren't going to buy me the whole set at once, I thought it wise to give you a starting point.



I am completely in love with the music from this movie. (I'm completely in love with the movie itself, too. It just speaks to me, I guess--I can't watch it without getting on Facebook afterward and rhapsodizing about how incredible it is. I just listened to a preview of some of the tracks on Amazon, and I'm already swooning.)



This journal is ridiculously beautiful. I have long had a thing for journals like this, but have yet to actually buy one. 










<-- Obviously need to own this ASAP!

I still really want this book, but I've been torn between this version and the one that goes up through 2009. I think, though, that since they don't have a more recently updated one, I would like to stick with 2008, because I always prefer silver to gold. Nothing that interesting happened in 2009 anyway, right?




I still love dear Anne, and still have not bought this DVD. So this is on the list until further notice.


Possibly my favorite movie of 2010...










And finally... John Williams, Yo-Yo Ma, Itzhak Perlman, and one of my favorite movies based on one of my favorite books. Yes please.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Philosophy Series: Abortion

My Stance:
I believe that abortion should be legal, and hopefully rare.  


Why:
In almost all cases, I would advocate adoption over abortion. But I strongly believe that absolutely no one has the right to tell a woman that she is legally obligated to carry and deliver a child. Even in the case of rape, if it's possible, I would prefer adoption to abortion; but that is not the issue. The issue is that it is absolutely none of the government's business either way. 


I have only recently had a pretty big realization about the abortion debate in this country, and how we think that a person is either pro-life or pro-choice. The thing is, the pro-life/pro-choice question isn't even real--that debate is a false dichotomy created by politics. The question at hand in the abortion debate is not whether babies have the right to life or women have the right to choose; the question is whether the government has the right to make the decision for people. The false dichotomy exists in the idea that being pro-life and pro-choice are mutually exclusive, and that is because "pro-life" is a deceptive term which implies that you're either for life or against it. If you're pro-choice it's not because you are anti-life--it's because you think the government does not have the right to make the decision on this issue. This is a ridiculously important difference that is not being recognized; basically, we think pro-life and pro-choice are opposite sides of an argument when in fact they aren't even having the same conversation.


I have heard some politicians specifically say that they would like to make all abortion illegal, even in cases of rape and incest, and I have to say that this makes me a little bit sick. I cannot comprehend how someone who believes in "smaller government" could dare to suggest that the government be given power in such a private, painfully intimate situation. A woman who has been raped has already gone through serious physical and emotional trauma; pregnancy is another physical and emotional trauma, and I feel really strongly that politicians simply do not have the right to force a woman to do it. (Again, like I said--if the woman is capable of doing it, I think adoption is preferable. I just do not think it's okay to require, by law, that she do it. We simply don't have the right to make that choice for people.)


Many people talk about abortion as murder, and try to make it that simple. I wish it were that simple, but it isn't, and there's one reason why: This is a life that exists inside another human being's body. With that one fact it becomes impossible to make this a black and white issue, and that's why other people just don't have the right to make a blanket decision for everyone.


Incidentally, I also oppose making abortion illegal on practical grounds, because I do care about the welfare of babies. (This is incidental not because it's less important, but because it's about logistics rather than the principle of the thing.) Just like every single other thing that is illegal in our country, abortions would still happen if they were made illegal, and they would probably end up being done in horrible ways that are even less safe and less humane. I don't want that to happen. If caring about the life of the unborn child is our motivation, then making abortion illegal is counterproductive. 

Saturday, May 7, 2011

Celebrity High School

Oh, it's weird. I don't know why this thought came into my head, but it did. 


Backstory. I was reading a post on a random blog I stumbled across in an image search or something; that post referenced other posts; I clicked on those posts, which took me to this site. And when I was at that site, for some reason, it became very weird for me to think about the fact that many of those celebrities would have been in my class in high school if we'd lived in the same place. 


I am the same age as Lady Gaga, Amanda Bynes, Megan Fox, and the Olsen twins. Anne Hathaway and Prince William would have been seniors when I was a freshman; Mila Kunis and Amy Winehouse would have been juniors. Scarlett Johansson, Avril Lavigne, and Katy Perry would have been in my class, too, although they're all several months older than me. Lindsay Lohan and Heidi Montag would've been in my sister Talia's class, freshmen when I was a sophomore (although I think that sadly, with all that weird plastic surgery, Heidi Montag looks exactly like she could be Ashley Tisdale's mom). Incidentally, Ashley would also have been in my class; her birthday turns out to be the day before Lori's (meaning she's older than Heidi! Awkward).


Is it just me, or is that weird? Can you imagine going to school with those people? And is it also weird that this is now becoming really fun, and I want to branch out and see who else would have been in high school at the time that I was?


Oh dear, I should have expected this--I think Zac Efron would have been a freshman when I was a senior. (He was born in '87, but late '87, past what I think is the cutoff date for school years.) Michael Cera, too. Ellen Page would've been a sophomore.


When I was a freshman:
Seniors: Seth Rogen, Anne Hathaway, Prince William, Kirsten Dunst, Jessica Biel, Beyonce
Juniors: Jonah Hill (YIKES, that combo), Andrew Garfield, Mila Kunis, Emily Blunt, Amy Winehouse
Sophomores: Mandy Moore, Prince Harry, America Ferrera


My class: Keira Knightley, Amanda Seyfried, Frankie Muniz (!), Bug Hall (!!), Scarlett Johansson, Avril Lavigne, Katy Perry, Amanda Bynes, Lady Gaga, Mary Kate and Ashley, Megan Fox, Ashley Tisdale, Jena Malone, Carey Mulligan, Bruno Mars


When we were seniors:


Juniors: Lindsay Lohan, Shia LaBeouf, Robert Pattinson, Heidi Montag, Lauren Conrad
Sophomores: Ellen Page, Hilary Duff, Blake Lively, Ashley Greene, Paolo Nutini
Freshmen: Zac Efron, Michael Cera, Rupert Grint


Weird. Even weirder is how bloody much time I ended up spending doing this. Yes, there were distractions along the way. But good criminy, it is almost 1:30. I think this is officially more time spent looking at celebrities online than I have spent in the last year. It's time to sleep now.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Secrets

Today I found a PostSecret that could have been mine. 


I often read secrets and empathize with the person, think "yeah I know what they mean," that kind of thing. Those are for things that are kind of annoying (like worrying about grabbing a bowl from the top shelf and finding a spider in it) or something silly (like wearing cool socks and hoping someone will see them).


I don't have very many real secrets... But this was one of them. Exactly. It was a pretty big surprise; it probably shouldn't have been, if I'd ever thought about it, but the fact is I never have thought about anyone else having that same secret. It was both comforting and saddening to know that I'm not the only one.


I wish I could post it here, but it's not a secret I'm ready to share. And I'm not going to tell you where I saw it, because I think some of you would be able to figure it out if you knew where to look. :)

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

Haiku: An Anthology of Japanese Poems, by Stephen Addiss, Fumiko Yamamoto, and Akira Yamamoto--8/10

I have never cared much for poetry, but wow. It turns out that I looooove Japanese haiku. (I think if I'd known that haiku are usually about the seasons and nature, I might have gotten interested sooner.) These poems are so simple and beautiful. Since they're only three short lines, they're very much like snapshots, and the scene that pops into your head is as much a part of the poem as the actual words. Just gorgeous. Here are a few of my favorites:


Dragonfly on a rock—
absorbed in
a daydream
Santōka            

An old well—
falling into its darkness
a camellia
Buson            

Early autumn—
peering through willows
the morning sun
Seibi            

Pear blossoms—
a woman reads a letter
by moonlight
Buson            

Sharing the same blood
but we’re not related—
            the hateful mosquito!
Jōsō