24 December 2006
I've got two main things to talk about tonight and one of them kind of leads into the other so here it goes. I went to church with my grandparents today because I'm staying with them (and the rest of my family) until just after new years. Coming from a student ward in general it's a bit of a shock to the system-much more noisy. My grandma's ward is in two extremes: there are the really young new families and the really old couples. Discussion in relief society was pretty non existent and (I'll be honest), I wasn't paying much attention to it. The discussion was something about how we need to be disciples of Christ and what that means. Everyone was giving the standard "do your visiting teaching" "do your best" kind of answers so I kind of tuned it out in favor of this adorable baby a row across from me who kept making cute faces. Near the end of the lesson (or was it the end of Gospel Doctrine? Shows how much I was paying attention), the speaker made reference to a quote (Maxwell?) about how we will some day have to answer the question about what Christ means to us. So in light of the Christmas season, I'll propose that we all think a little more about what the Savior means to us as individuals.
Personally, I started thinking about why we celebrate Christmas at all. Not to be cynical-I love Christmas as much as the next person-but we place so much (albeit, commercial) importance on Christmas, and virtually none on the events surrounding Easter. After thinking about it for a while I thought about how glad I was that Easter isn't as commercialized. Wouldn't it be terrible if the focus of the holiday was put on more than just a bunch of jelly beans? Back to Christmas-I started thinking about A Christmas Carol after that and why it's a Christmas story at all beyond the fact that it takes place at Christmas. Now, I'm sure many have had this thought before me but it really hit me today in light of the question that was asked in church that the reason we celebrate Christmas is because the birth of the Savior was the dawn of a new brightness of hope in a world that had none. The birth of Christ led to the death of Christ, and the resurrection of Christ after that. There is a reason why Christmas is such a joyful time of the year. It is because it is a celebration of life, and hope of better days to come through His light.
This optimistic thought in mind, I really enjoyed the rest of today. We had a lovely family dinner and watched a movie together and just enjoyed one another's company. Later after most of the kids were off either in bed or watching a movie in the den, we started as adults (ha! I call myself an adult. Well-I'm not a kid) to talk about the past year and eventually got on the subject of how sad it is that schools aren't allowed to celebrate Christmas any more. There's a school district in Minnesota that doesn't allow kids to wear red or green during the month of December, for example. My elementary school at home can't have a Christmas program any more, they have a "winter" program, even though the school is at least 90% Christian. In light of that and several other things that have come up in the last year (a co-ed sleep over in my brother's show choir, for example), my dad has become fairly pessimistic about the condition of the world, especially for teenagers. And who could really blame him? There is so much evil in the world. It is available everywhere we turn. One need only open a newspaper and read the front page to see it. Turn on the internet or open a magazine and all you see is scantily clad celebrities with insane love lives. And these are the role models for youth? Even at my apartment complex-a place that is sponsored by BYU-we hear loud parties every night with at least 90% of the songs about sex and drugs. The 13th Article of Faith talks about finding things that are virtuous, lovely, of good report and praiseworthy-but finding such things in the world is hard. I'm not saying it's impossible. Anyone who knows me really well will know that the absurdity of my movie knowledge knows very few bounds. I'm just commenting for the sake of conversation that the world is bleak. Teens are presented with options for little outside of sex and drugs (and usually both).
However terrible the world is-I refuse to lose sight of my optimism. President Hinkley is one of the most optimistic men on this earth, and one of the very few men on earth who is able to comprehend the evil in the world. We are told that men are that they might have joy. I was watching Lord of the Rings the other day and thinking about Sam's quote about why they are still fighting to destroy the ring when Middle Earth is full of such evil-he says it is because there *is* still good in the world, and that good is worth fighting for. The way I see it (and the way Sean Astin sees it too if you watch the commentary), the word fighting should be in quotes. Fighting doesn't necessarily mean through violence. I see it as men striving to do good in a world that may reject it no matter what the odds are.
Throughout history there are examples of men who made a difference as an individual. Hitler, for example, was able to pull an entire nation down because he was a terrible, selfish leader. On the other hand, men like Gandhi were able to pull thousands of people out of despair and into a better life. No matter how evil the world is, it will never be so evil that we should stop looking for the joy in it. There are so many good people left in the world. I will not give up. God has promised that he will not remove the church from the earth again. If I have the gospel in my life, then I have hope. And if I have hope, then I truly can find happiness in a world that lives in a state of misery (whether they know it or not). Tolkien really did have it right-the good that is left in this world is worth fighting for, even if we are fighting a losing battle.
The great thing there, of course, is that we know we'll win the war, so losing all the battles doesn't matter all that much in the great scheme of things. All the best wars were like that (Revolutionary War, for example)...
Merry Christmas everyone! I hope that you are able to find joy no matter the circumstances.
13 December 2006
So today has definitely been the complete reverse of a Jonah Day. Not only did I finally manage an A on a Brit Lit 291 test (her tests are beastly), but I finished my last paper/project for British Lit, I attended my last American Lit class (thank heaven), and I got officially accepted to my study abroad program. Could more things go right?! I suppose I could meet the man of my dreams but I think I'll be alright settling for a nap that I'm going to take later today when I get home from work. Furthermore-I'm not setting my alarm. I'm going to get up when I darn well please tonight. Talk about victory!
Alright, now on to business. My latest rant. Oh boy!
We were talking in (what else but my British Lit class) about the different kinds of love (again) in respect to Sense and Sensibility by Jane Austen. I have a fair amount of Marianne in me-anyone who has known me long enough would know this-but when it comes to love I am definitely more Elinor. I dream like Marianne, my reality is Elinor. Anyway-we were talking about how the book never really comes to a consensus on what kind of love (sensible, platonic love or romantic love with lots of feeling) is better. The novel clearly favors Elinor over Marianne, but in the end it is Marianne who marries the real hero (Brandon). Both girls have to take on the characteristics of each other in order to find their matches. In the end, I kind of came to the conclusion that the book promotes sense in order to fall in love (Elinor and Edward at the beginning of the book and Marianne's epiphany later), and sensibility in order to stay in love (the scene where Elinor reveals her love for Edward and the comment about Marianne never loving by halves). Whether or not there is any real truth to that, I don't know (having very little experience myself. And by very little I mean none). But I can see the merit in the idea-we need to have a bit of logic when it comes to choosing a partner. We can't not think about the important things (shared value system, for example) in favor of a spur of the moment romance. But romantic love is important too-it's what keeps a relationship full of the respect, admiration, and service needed to maintain a love.
Anyway. There it is. I'm off to go do something exciting and thoroughly NON school related to celebrate my end of term catharsis!
20 November 2006
There was a time when American's produced shows like this. Great, (usually western) shows that promoted good values and had horse riding and sweeping landscapes and beautiful music scores. And then the WB (now CW) phenomenon took over and we were treated to shows with different family values. Shows like 7th Heaven where every week there was a new boyfriend (the girls were about 13), or a new drug addiction. Gilmore Girls and Smallville which (I admit) to watching until recently when all of the fun turned to sex and drugs and dark themes and arguing nonstop. Or crap like That 70s Show. And these are the shows American's watch. Soap operas and crime investigation and hospital dramas and American Idol.
Whatever happened to clean, good natured sitcoms like Dr. Quinn Medicine Woman?! Now, I know that those kinds of shows aren't everyones cup of tea. However, it would be (in my opinion anyway), hard to deny that finding decent, family entertainment on TV is hard any more. There just aren't many options. You can watch the never ending drama of reality TV where the "bad" guys usually win (see Survivor) and the cut-throat and dishonest people win the million, or you can watch sex-driven trash.
This is where something remarkable happens-the BBC! I love the British. Granted-not all of their shows are that good either. In fact, most of British television is worse. But the BBC (thankfully) still manages to produce nice little TV shows and Robin Hood is one of them. The plots are fairly contrived, the humor is usually too cheesy to be true, but none of that really matters. The point-is that (like the other Robin's that have gone before), the good side does win. (With a bit of arrogance, it's true-Robin is flawed), but for the last few days I have enjoyed watching that show a great deal. Regardless of dorky plots and the occasional historical error (Marian's clothes are sometimes quite modern-and did they even have the word 'strike' in reference to the work force?) the show is great fun.
So all you poor, sad, unfortunate souls who have not yet been graced by the presence of Robin of Locksley, shoot me an email and we'll watch them.
Going along with the Robin theme, I really enjoy they way they portray Marian in the show. The basic premise of the series is what happens after Robin comes home from fighting in The Holy Land for five years. He and Marian had been childhood sweethearts but he left, and the Sheriff of Nottingham changed from Marian's father to the icon we all know of, and now she's bitter. But beyond that, she's doing something about it. Her storyline is almost more interesting to me than Robin's, because everyone knows what will happen with Robin. He'll come off on top because he's Robin Hood! He has to! But Marian isn't (exactly) a damsel in distress. She is a damsel, and she is occasionally in distress, but by the time Robin comes back she's already up to her ears in her own plans to stop the Sheriff. Fast forward a few episodes and she's in very deep. Unfortunately I still have to wait until the next episode to find out what happens...*grumble*, but...anyway. I'm rambling a bit now.
All I have to say, is that if you can get your hands on it, do. It's nice, good fun.
Have a wonderful Thanksgiving!
17 November 2006
I had my performances of The Importance of Being Earnest yesterday. I have a call back for another show on Saturday. And as a result, I've been thinking of my "career" as an actress. It's been going on for as long as I can remember, and I've been trying to figure out why exactly I do what I do-why do I put myself through hellish auditions and sleepless nights? What do I get out of it? Do I perform for recognition? Or for some other reason? So this will be an entry run primarily on stream of conscious thought-work with me here.
My first real play was when I was five. I was always a performer though. Ask my mother. I would act out TV shows in my living room. I had
Of course, I also have occasional flops. Or not even flops-but moments of failure. I have been thoroughly torn apart at auditions. I have let my hopes get so high at times, that not getting a part crushes me. Last year at Thanksgiving. A month later. I auditioned for four shows last year, and I made two. One of which doesn't count, because it was a High School production that everyone was cast in. This year, I was put through five hours of a call back for A Christmas Carol before I was sent home hoop-skirtless. It is a hard business. Hard because at least 75% of the time, whether or not you get cast depends on how you look. Or how the other people who audition look. Directors don't cast individuals, they cast ensembles. Everyone has to be able to work together at a similar level. It's hard. People who don't handle failure and disappointment well should never be in theater. It would crush them.
So why do I do it? Why do I subject myself to it? I think-for me anyway-it goes back to a nature/nurture debate. Was I just born this way? Was I-for whatever reason-predestined to stage-work? That's something I'll have to get back to you on after I die. I would imagine that I was though-in a way. Because working on stage has, over the years, given me confidence that I need to handle speaking in church, for example (though I've never really been afraid of that). Speaking in public in any venue then. I don't get afraid of speaking in front of people.
Taking on different roles also helps me change and evolve. There are bits of me in every character I've played. Not all of me-I'm not Polish, or mad, or a professor, or a pig. But I do like to take charge. I enjoy loud spurts of laughter. I'm aspiring to be a teacher, and sometimes I'm too innocent and naive for my own good. When I find parts of me in the characters I've played-I learn something about myself. For me-it's a process of refinement. I question who I am and see how I can alter my flaws or enhance my strong points to become a better me. There are ways to do this outside of theater-but theater is where I have grown.
Then of course, there is the highly superficial part of me that loves the costumes. And the recognition. There are very few professions where you get almost instantaneous responses to a job well done. In live theater-you will know if an audience liked a show. You will know because you will see it in their faces when they leave. You'll hear the laughter or feel the sadness or sense any other emotion that will let you know after two hours of work that you did something good. (Or bad). I love that feeling. I love knowing that for two hours I have given someone something to smile about, or cry about, or feel something for a while.
I do theater because I love going to theater as much as I love doing it. I understand what kind of work goes into making a show successful, so I love imagining the evolution of a show I never saw. The boring first-read of a script...blocking and re-blocking...costume day (which can be very frightening if you have a bad costumer...)...I appreciate it all a little more than those who come and don't think about the time that was put into the show. I love observing a show that can move me just as much as I like performing in one that would move others.
You know...none of this is very clear. I don't think I could pin point exactly why it is that I overload myself with stress. I don't know why I feel desperate and almost more stressed when I'm not in a show. I'm not sure there's an answer at all. But-there you have it. My eclectic attempt to describe why it is that I love theater.
06 November 2006
03 November 2006
One reason is that I'm just not competitive enough. I like competition-sure. Ask anyone who has ever played me in a game of Harry Potter trivia. I'm a menace. But stuff like that (I can't believe I'm saying this!), doesn't really matter. Out trivia-ing someone doesn't really make a difference in the universe and politics can. I'm competitive, but only in things that don't really matter.
Going along with that is my desire to see both sides of an argument. This happens when you're an English major. You're taught to see both sides of an argument so that you can successfully crush your opponent to dust in a debate or a paper, etc. My problem for major arguments is that I can see that both sides have a valid point and I can't pick which one is better. (Guess this means I couldn't be a lawyer too). I end up using the typical "it depends on the circumstances" routine (which I guess would make me a decent modern politician, wouldn't it?) Either way-I'm not very decisive. I take the middle ground more often than not and I don't think I really want to be adopted into either party because of the extremes.
The last, and probably biggest reason is one that everyone knows about-the mud slinging campaigns that have become the trend. I find it so ironic that politicians spend so much time attacking the character of the opponent. Shouldn't a viewer of a commercial/ad/whatever find it funny? I do. Politicians are, essentially, making themselves seem petty while they try and make their opponents look that way too. (Or at least their campaign managers are). How often do we hear politicians discuss actual issues without pointing fingers? It's ridiculous. And most people agree on this, but no one is really willing to change it so my soap box here is completely wasted. I do think, however, that it is unfortunate.
And I'll keep you updated on the report I'm doing. I think it could be kind of interesting. I may have to modify my comments afterwards...
25 October 2006
Today (once again in my Brit Lit class), we took a break from 17th century lit to discuss what it is, exactly, that a good education should consist of. We talked about class sizes, and about how we shouldn't have one specific major but be able to focus on lots of different things and see the connections, and lots of other things that make me want to go to Oxford (though I never thought I'd say that). Then someone mentioned the importance of free time, and we got into a fairly interesting discussion that I thought I'd write about here for my topic of the day.
First of all-America is a work-a-holic nation. There's a phrase we use here that says we are "working like dogs". Well, in all of Europe, they say "working like an American". We are work obsessed. Most of our education is geared towards getting a job. Going to school isn't a luxury any more-it's almost a necessity in American society if you intend to make money. And there is some merit to that-but think about this:
In Europe, (England in particular, for the point of my discussion), workers are only allowed to work a certain amount of hours/drive a certain amount of kilometers/whatever their job requires. It's limited. And if a manager thinks they are working too hard, they can send them home. They have required vacation days. American's are always wishing for free time but, honestly-what do we do with our free time? Most of us are so work obsessed that when we get free time we don't know what to do with it. Rather than take time off from work to learn something, or go to a museum, or experience life in some way, we sit around at home and wait for ...whatever we're waiting for.
There was a study done in Europe of couples that were filing for divorce a while ago. These were couples who weren't just thinking about divorce, they were set on it. They had filed the papers and were ready to call it quits when the governments of these countries kind of pooled together in a study of divorcing couples. They offered to pay them if they would help with an experiment for six months. The first third of the people were put through traditional marriage counseling-and about 20% decided not to get divorced. Another third was given money to cover any financial struggles they were having, and a little more than 20% of that group decided not to go through with the divorce. The last third-and this is crazy- were paid to spend time together for six months. They had to be with each other on paid leave of work and everything else for six months. 96% of those couples decided not to get divorced. Just because of time.
So now I've started thinking-I'm always complaining that I don't have enough time in the day. I spend all day trying to get through class, and work, and rehearsal, and homework, and I talk about how there aren't enough hours in the day, and my roommates do it too, but what if we're spending more time doing homework, for example (I can't exactly cut back on work hours or class hours), because we don't take time to do something to enrich our minds away from schoolwork. Something besides sleeping (though that can also help).
I've started a list. I have books I want to read, things I want to do, movies I want to see, poems I'd like to write-I even (get this, Liz), have considered going online and finding a bunch of math problems to solve just for the sake of doing something with my time that can be more beneficial to me in the long run.
I'll get back to you on how it goes-but I'll bet something good comes of it. Because education shouldn't be divided into subjects that never touch each other. Education should be about finding connections between things you never thought possible. Subjects that aren't divided into water-tight bulkheads (see Dorothy Sayers' article The Lost Tools of Learning, available online), but should be like a river, moving forwards and mixing together into something that feeds the land around it.
18 October 2006
For those of you who don't regularly read old English literature, the premise (of the first part of Paradise Lost, anyway), is describing the fall of Satan from Satan's perspective. It's interesting. CS Lewis does it in a way in Screwtape Letters, which I love, so the idea isn't new to me. What was frustrating was the way Satan is described as a fallen hero. This semester I have read an *insane* amount of old texts and they've all started to blend together because Satan is described in virtually the same terms as many other fallen heroes in Greek lit and Roman lit and even American lit. He is described as a man (well, man-ish), who was suppressed by an angry monarch for using his words against the power of that monarch.
Isn't that pretty much what America did to gain independence? Comparing Satan to a fallen hero bothers me because, from a literary standpoint, he is. Something in my psyche really wants to argue against that, but I can't do it.
In reference to this, we talked in class about the quality different actions or feelings. Milton believed quite firmly that in order to know good, you must know evil. Mormons understand this. Most of the people in Milton's time didn't quite get it. (Heck, lots of people now don't get it as evidenced by all the "Adam and Eve are evil" backlash). The way Milton saw it, a quality has a good side, and a bad side. The bad side isn't the opposite of the good side, necessarily. For instance, the quality of generosity. The bad quality of generosity isn't selfishness, it's giving so much that you have no time for yourself. It's giving so much that you spend more than you make. It's giving for the recognition. You're still giving in all of these, but for bad reasons. Milton believed that the most dangerous form of evil wasn't exactly pure evil or even just the absence of good: it is the perverse version of an otherwise virtuous quality. The thing that seduces someone the most is being faced with the dark side of something virtuous. Look at the religious zealots, for example, who see the dark side of faith. Or what about the good side of lust? Aren't we supposed to be physically attracted to the people we marry? I know I want to be. I don't think I could spend the rest of my life (not to mention eternity) with someone I didn't find attractive.
This professor is always going on about how she wants us to be scholars and not just students and today I feel like a scholar. This is definitely something to think about.
16 October 2006
Last Friday I was walking towards the HFAC past the library on my way to rehearsal for The Importance of Being Earnest. It was about four thirty so most people were in class and campus was pretty empty. I passed a girl leaving the library who (believe it or not, and cover your ears if you get offended)-she swore. Oh my gosh. I almost laughed out loud. It wasn't a bad swear word (in comparison). One of those "in the Bible" words that some people "Mormonize" even in the Book of Mormon. But oh it was funny. I don't even know why it was funny exactly. It's not like I've never heard the word before, it just took me by surprise. Not that I condone bad language, but it was a nice ice-breaker of sorts. Because, face it: most of us have moments where we just want to let it out...
The other funny thing I saw was when I was leaving the HFAC after rehearsal was over. I was walking by a practice room when I saw a kid rocking out to a ukelele. I didn't even know you could rock to a ukelele. But this kid was really into it. Hard core ukelele-ist. Now I've seen it all.
So to anyone who says that BYU isn't diverse-remember: we have people that swear. And play the ukelele. And maybe at the same time! *Gasp*
11 October 2006
Ok. It's not that bad. No matter how bad things are, they can always get worse (isn't that a comforting thought). But my last few days have been pretty terrible and I've thought about some things that I thought I'd post about.
First, let me explain the situation. I auditioned for A Christmas Carol at the Hale in Orem last week. I did the show last year so I wasn't so worried about getting cast. I was looking forward to it (was-note the past tense. Can you see where this is going?). Last year I was a member of the choir. This year I thought it would be fun to be part of the cast, so instead of going directly to the choir call back that I was invited to, I auditioned for the main show as well. My reading went really well (the directors raved about it), and the song went well too. Long story short, I wasn't called back for the cast. Ok. No big deal-I was in the choir last year and had lots of fun. So I went to the choir call back.
I was there for five hours. Five! I had been hoping to be out of there in no more than three so that I could go home and study for a test I had to take. And after all that pain: I wasn't cast. The new choir consists of about three people who have done it before. There are at least four of us who have done the show before that were cut, including one family who have been in the choir for about ten years, and my friend who has done Christmas Carol for about four years. Needless to say: we were pretty upset. My friend called the director yesterday to thank her for the opportunity and ask her about what happened (the girls that were chosen, and some of the boys were not exactly consistent vocally), and the director told her that both of us (meaning myself and my friend), were perfect. We couldn't have done anything else to get in. We didn't do anything wrong. She just felt inspired to cast other people this year.
I hate that.
Not inspiration, exactly. I mean, it's wonderful. But for one second (or maybe a little longer) I had the thought "this never would have happened at home". Theater politics gain almost an entire level of annoyance in Utah that they don't most other places because the directors are biased two times over-one in prior relationships, and two in inspiration. Bah.
I'm not nearly as bitter about it now as I was yesterday morning. You've seen my posts on how busy I am. God knows I have enough to do this semester. But a conversation I had with my friend on the way home got me thinking. She said that maybe this time the people who were cast needed to be there, and that next time things would be more in our favor. But I don't know that I believe that.
Here comes my theory. There is a line in The Princess Bride that says "who says life is fair, where is that written?". I like that line. No. Life isn't fair. But God is. It's one of the parts about His character that makes Him God. I don't believe that God would bless these other people and say "oops...sorry Joni. I'm going to leave you out in the cold for a second and I'll be back. Hang on". He doesn't work like that. One of the most complex, and incredible parts of his plan is that no matter what happens, everyone benefits. What happens to one person will, or at least can influence another person for the better also (even if it's not obvious). Everything happens for a reason. God doesn't forget one person to help another.
So while I hate that I don't get my fabulous shoes and hoop-skirt this year, and I still wish that things would have turned out in my favor-I know that whatever I want for myself isn't as good as what God wants for me. And while it may be hard right now, I know that when doors close, windows open. Maria had it right in The Sound of Music-there is another way. A better way. So now that I've had my cry-I'm not going to turn my back on the world, I'm going to face whatever comes as a chance for a new adventure. Besides-if I got everything I auditioned for, I wouldn't appreciate theater. It would become something I do, instead of something I love.
05 October 2006
I dreamed that I was on some kind of cruise line that decided to build a bunch of ships that would give passengers the ultimate experience. Titanic. That's right. I dreamed that I was on a ship that re-enacted Titanic. Every bit of it. The sinking, the dead people, the iceberg, everything. Yeah. That's right. I dreamed about Titanic. Where that came from-who knows. But the details are pretty interesting.
Now, I'm not sure if the cruise line got volunteers to play the dead people (or did they actually die?), or if they were 'I'm dying of hypothermia' dummies or if people were picked at random, but I knew that the ship would sink, because my stateroom or cabin or whatever it was (it was like a third class room until I went back to go get my books and then it looked like a first class room) was under water at some point.
Rest assured-I don't think any cruise line is about to start giving passengers THIS kind of ultimate experience. Most cruise lines settle for midnight chocolate bars and all you can eat any time of the day buffets. The closest most of these ships will come to sinking is if passengers start gaining too much weight (though I guess even that isn't possible since the food would have already been on the ship in the first place). Either way though, it was a great "what the heck" kind of moment when I woke up.
The only connection I can work out is this: I had been talking with my mom that day about Pride and Prejudice, written by Jane Austen, who also wrote Sense and Sensibility, which was made into a movie with Kate Winslet in it, who is in the movie Titanic. So...there you go.
Have at it Freud.
04 October 2006
I had a conversation with two people from one of my English classes today while on campus that frustrated me. (Not offended, frustrated. There's a difference). One of the girls was saying that every actor or actress is a prostitute because all of them are selling something. (I assume she means their bodies). I pointed out that I'm an actress (or claim to be one, I've done enough theater to deserve the title, I think), and that I don't agree with her. I said that while there are plenty of very public people out there that have certainly given off the impression that they want to be selling themselves to...whatever (the name that comes to mind for me is Lindsey Lohan). But I would hardly say that all actors and actresses both on and off the stage are selling themselves.
She went on to say that people who play bad characters are selling something. She said that people sympathize with the bad characters. Fantine, in Les Miz for example. She said that Fantine does bad things (prostitution) to save her daughter and that she's glorified as a heroine for her prostitution.
This reminds me of most of the Banned Books Week type arguments we read about as English majors. Parents wanting to keep their kids from books that deal with death or with really evil characters or subjects because it could teach their kids to glorify evil. Books like Huck Finn, or (my personal favorite), Harry Potter. Or Catch 22. The Bible (*gasp*!) . It gets pretty ridiculous.
Pulls out the blogging soap box.
I don't want my kids to be evil. Who does?! What parent decides to raise their kid to be the next Hitler? No parent I want to know of. But sheltering your kids from the extreme evils of the world aren't going to make them go away. Hiding from 'questionable' material isn't going to stop it from spreading. And I mean this within reason. We shouldn't go and watch porn-films just so we know what goes on in them so we know what to avoid. That's not my point. My point is this: Shouldn't these books/plays/movies teach us to sympathize with the evil characters of the world? Or the characters that aren't so virtuous? What is so wrong with that?
Fantine for example. She does something evil to bring about good. She sells herself to prostitution (knowing that it's wrong), in order to save her child. She decends below all to save the life of another. Are we seeing a metaphor here? I hope so. What mother wouldn't do that for her child? Wouldn't it be more selfish for her to sit around? Knowing the conditions of France at the time Les Miz takes place, and knowing the options for single women...there really wasn't much else she could do.
I feel bad for Voldemort in Harry Potter. I feel bad for Javert in Les Miz. I feel badly for them because I see what has happened to them. They end up alone, and miserable in spite of their power. Does that mean I'm going to join ranks with them (even though they are fictional-work with me), to empathize with them a bit more? No. But we need oposition. The scriptures make that clear all over the place. There must be extreme evil so that there is a chance for extreme good. I don't want to read a book about a hero who isn't flawed. That's boring! I don't want to see a play where all the characters sit around singing "Sunshine Day" and talking about happy religious things. That's not life. I can't relate to that. There needs to be a struggle.
I don't think that writing this will accomplish much. To be honest, my friends that read this and any other random people out there that read this will probably agree with me. Mostly because I've spoken with the people who read this, and I've already talked with them about this. And writing letters of protest to the world about why banning Harry Potter is the most ridiculous thing I've ever heard of will not change the fact that parents out there are worried about their kids turning into mini witches and wizards overnight because of a fantasy book.
So in response to my classmate-I'm sorry you feel that way. Really sorry. Because in spite of the terrible shows that are out there, and the horrible literature, and the pornographic films that really are selling something-there are still good, virtuous kinds of media out there. I'm sorry that there are people out there who take advantage of the bodies they are given to present themselves in terrible ways, but I cannot agree that all films/books/plays are evil. We need evil characters or there won't be good characters. If I choose to portray a character in a play that is bad, or even evil, I hope that I would do so in order to make the real hero that much more heroic. So stop being offended and realize that for every bad film, there are several more good ones out there that can uplift and inspire.
And...just for her information-I'm pretty sure President Hinkley said that his favorite book (outside of scripture) was Les Miz. Oh...and read up on Elder Bednar's talk from the last conference for more information on being offended.
Soap box over. I'm off to go read something evil.
26 September 2006
I'm going to take a small moment while I'm here to rant on grammar. I spent about 50 minutes of a 2 hour class today listening to a professor teach half of the class (the freshman academy part) what a noun is, and what a verb is and...Bleh. What a bloody waste of time. I know-everyone has to start somewhere. But shouldn't they have started a long time ago? Good gravy. One girl asked if the professor wanted us to use the word 'whom' in our papers. *headdesk*. You shouldn't toss words around in a paper because they make you sound smart. You should use words because they are either the correct word grammatically, or because that particular word describes what you want to describe in the best way.
That being said, I'm sure I'll get lots of nasty comments on my grammar. I know it isn't perfect! But this is a place for creative discussion, right? So I'll excuse myself and point out that at least I know how to use 'you/your/you're' and 'their/there/they're' etc. Give me some credit.
25 September 2006
In defense of myself (sorry Liz!), people have a different definition of what constitutes as 'busy', or 'too busy' or whatever. And for me, when it's been a long night and a boring class, doing anything outside of reading a book that I want to read or taking a nap is too busy. So for those of you (two! That's exciting) who bothered to read my last post, sorry for the tirade. Every once in a while all of us have fits of pessimism, and my last post was one of mine. And, like Ben said in the comments, sometimes it helps. For me anyway, sending out my frustration into a "void" (so to speak) helps me feel like I've at least done something with my frustration. I've turned it into something productive. Now, however, you'll be pleased to hear that I'm better. I'm not so depressed. I'm still exhausted (who isn't), but I'm feeling better about life in general.
I've got two things to discuss today. Ahem. The first one involves something important and the second one is probably only important to people like me and Liz who obsess over that marvelous book series (you know the one!)-Harry Potter.
I didn't have room in my schedule to take a religion class this semester (well, I did, but I'd be even more insane if I tried to manage school, work, play, and social life along with an extra two credit hours). So I've been doing a self guided study the past few weeks with CS Lewis as my guide. I've got a couple of books on the list to read in the next couple of months, starting with Screwtape Letters. Can I start by stating the obvious? Ok. The man is a genius. How can anyone so brilliant not have found the gospel? It's hard to find a page in my book right now where I haven't starred or underlined or made references to. His insight on temptation is incredible. I've found myself walking around in thought (something more people should do) thinking about where I am with my life and what it is that makes me tick. What about me is vulnerable to temptation? I'd say one thing would probably be my tendency to be a bit too serious with myself. I have issues relaxing. Anyway, if you haven't read CS Lewis (outside of Narnia), do it. He's on the top of my list of 'people I can't wait to talk to after I die'.
I have a theory about book to movie translations that I think should be commented on. I have a pretty good selection of DVD's. Ask my roommates. They fall into two categories (for the most part) : Book-movie, chick flick (and a few classics). Let's just say that if I didn't like my books made into movie films, my DVD collection would be pretty shallow. That being said, I think that people are too harsh on book-movie translations. And I'm sick of it. Let me explain how you should watch those movies...
1. Go in with the attitude that you're going to have a good time and be entertained. That's what movies are for, right? Why would we pay $8 to see something we thought we were going to hate? Just because all of your friends are going to see it, doesn't mean you have to. And if you do go, don't be negative the whole time.
2. Keep in mind that books and movies are entirely different genres. There are some things that just cannot work in a book that work in movies (and vice versa). For example: a good portion of most novels that have a narrator centered around the point of view of one character have a good deal of thinking. Inner monologues are a great way for an author to relay information to a reader either about a character, or about another character (that can be either honest or a kind of red herring). Inner monologues simply do not work in films. Then there is the issue of length: movies have about two-three (if you're Lord of the Rings) hours to present material to an audience. If everything from a book was translated directly into film, then we'd be there forever. Don't get me wrong, I'd love to see everything from Harry Potter put to film, but the book on tape for Harry 5, for example, is 27 hours long.
3. This one is very important, so if you're one of the people who complains about book-movie translations, then listen up. I'm going to state the obvious here, but some people miss it. Are you ready? Movies don't erase books. I know! It's amazing. I mean, the text of the missing/'messed up' scenes might be a little faded when you look in the book again, but it will still be there! Isn't that great?! So what if your favorite line of a book isn't in the movie? So what if the lead isn't like you imagined him/her? So what if they've taken away characters or added different scenes/or messed up the scenery/or whatever else they could do? You still, believe it or not, have the book. The book is still there. If you lose it, you can go to your local bookstore (I use Barns and Noble), to buy a new copy. I hate when people complain about how a movie "ruined" the book. That's stupid. Movies can't ruin books. They don't have that kind of power. Furthermore, movies can't kill your imagination, where how you imagined a book can always be there.
4. The purpose of book-movie translations should be to supplement what's already there. It shouldn't take away from the book (see above), it should just add an extra level of entertainment. It's just one person's view of how a book should look on the silver screen. It doesn't necessarily make them right and you wrong, it's just an idea.
5. When you critique book-movie translations, critique the movie. Don't critique the movie in relation to the book unless it's relevant. Don't critique minor things like hair style, or a specific color of red, unless it's crucial to the plot. Or at least don't let it ruin your movie going experience. Using the Harry Potter example, I would like for the movies to use Ron more like the book: Ron in the book is the relayer of information in the wizarding world. In the movie that role is given to Hermione and Ron is reduced to witty sidekick. A comment like that is relevant to the movie because it deals with characterization flaw. Another comment about Harry Potter that I could make is that I don't really like Emma Watson's acting as Hermione. I think the way she is directed is a bit obnoxious at times, and I don't really prefer the way she acts most of the time. Note though: I don't let these flaws ruin the movie for me. And I'm not trying to limit free speech-if you don't like a movie, you don't like a movie, but at least give a valid reason for it other than "it wasn't like the book" because that's stupid. Of course it's not like the book. It's a movie.
So, go into the world, watch movies, and become educated viewers. It makes it better, I promise. And if you still don't agree with me (a few of my roommates *cough*), then don't come whining to me about it any more, because "such and such a movie ruined the book" isn't a valid argument.
22 September 2006
I'm tired. I'm completely and utterly exhausted. To be totally honest it's a miracle I got up this morning. I am at the end of my rope. You know the point. It's when you are so exhausted that your body feels like it's asleep when you're sitting or standing in one place for so long. And you would think that you would be asleep too except you have a headache and you're forcing yourself to keep your eyes open and just keep moving. Keep going through the motions. Wake up. Get ready. Make lunch. Walk to class. Sit in class and look interested. Maybe say something profound if you can think enough. Leave class. Go to next class. Same thing. Go to work. Go home. Do lots of homework. Hopefully get to bed by 12:30. Wake up...Start over.
If I were more awake and more aware right now, I would be really frustrated. Well, maybe not right this minute. I'm really writing this in the middle of an American Lit class and trying to catch some of the lecture on Puritan culture (which I already know most of because of other classes). But if I weren't in American Lit, and I were more awake, I'd be frustrated. I'd be frustrated because there hasn't been one point this semester where I have felt like I've been on top of things. I've always been just barely hanging on. Or not hanging on at all just letting the wind or the tornado or whatever kind of propel me towards things. It's annoying. I love all my classes. (Well...Maybe not American Lit as much as the rest, but most of that is because I just don't like American Lit). Either way though, I've got so much to do, and so much to take care of and not enough me to do it with.
This isn't unique. This happens to every college student. I don't think I know one (or at least not many-I've got a roommate who always manages to be in bed by 11:00 and still get incredible grades), but between working 16 hours a week and taking classes I don't quite know how I'm going to manage life. Let's just say that I literally cannot wait for the weekend.
Small tirade inserted here: My parents keep asking me about whether or not I'm dating. *drops to the floor*. There are not enough hours in the day for me to go to class, do my homework, go to work (so that I can go on a study abroad), and do Christmas Carol (I hope) in a day. Much less date. To be totally honest, I'm amazed (and a little confused) at how in the world people manage to date and go to school at the same time. Who has the time?! I know that we're supposed to use college to grow as a person and get out and whatever else, but what if I really want to focus on school? Sigh. This is where it starts to get absurd. I can't run faster than I'm able but I'm expected to be educated, experience the world, volunteer, have a church calling, and go out and make a boy date me so that I can get married!? Right. I'm sorry. That just isn't humanly possible. Not right now anyway. Not for me.
Besides- One of my roommates said that she heard someone say once that marriage is just a byproduct of living a righteous life. It shouldn't be the end all-be all of our existence. It's important, yes. But at this point when I don't have anyone to date, or anyone I want to date, I'm not going to run at it.
Good gravy, I just did another entry on dating. I'm sorry. I totally didn't expect it to go that way. I guess it's official-BYU has corrupted me.
Oh, and Liz? You'll excuse me for not publishing more often. I haven't had much time lately.
08 September 2006
Since I was a Freshman in High School, the drama department has done a grand total of 5 plays on tolerance. Our drama teacher is kind of stuck on the "accepting people who are different" rant. Which is fine and great, but after a while you get sick of all the same, downer play where half the people end up dead and or maimed. This years play is no different. My high school is going to put on The Laramie Project. For those of you who are ignorant about the play, I'll explain. The play is made up of monologues from interviews with people who were involved with the murder of Matthew Shepherd, a gay college student in Wyoming. The play contains more than eight "F" words and several other four letter obscenities, not to mention the graphic descriptions of sex and...well, you get the picture. It's not appropriate for high school. There's been a huge amount of uproar about it because the parents are upset. The administration has offered to remove the curse words, but the content is still there.
I could go into a rant about how terrible I think The Laramie Project is, but that's not my point.
I'm getting there, hold on.
Today in my American Lit class we had a discussion about the evolution about what is considered canon, and how that has changed over the years from just the old white guys to include black/Latino/Chinese/women writers etc. Discussions such as that one frustrate me. In my opinion, literature should be color/gender blind. Anthologies shouldn't include writers of a different race/gender/whatever because they are different, they should include the literature itself because it is good. No more should they include the old white guys because they've always been included before. On a very biased note, I'd take out all Hawthorne because I hate his writing, but that's me. My point is: we should read good literature because it's good literature, not because it's old and cliche (Tom Sawyer, for example. Or the Raven), or because it's new and controversial.
All of this fuss, to me, is just another case of the minority taking over the majority. This gets to being a bit of a hairy topic. I'm not saying that the minority shouldn't be heard. It would be a great loss if we didn't have some of the writings, or movies, or whatever from minorities. But at the same time, the majority is being compromised simply because they are a majority. This is why elementary schools in my home town had winter programs about Hanukkah and Kwanza but not Christmas. The majority is so afraid of offending the minority that the majority no longer has an equal shot. A middle class white person is, in many cases, just out of luck. Applying for scholarships is a nightmare, for example. We have become so obsessed with recognizing the new traditions that we have ignored the old ones. Christmas is still a huge part of American tradition whether you choose to celebrate it religiously or not.
This is the problem my parents are running into in protesting The Laramie Project. The majority of parents at home are conservative, but when they speak out against the content of the play, they are called bigots and closed minded.
I don't have a solution to this problem. I can see how both sides would be frustrated. It isn't fair that the majority is the majority. It makes it harder for the minority to get ahead. But it's also not fair for the minority to gain special privileges over the majority. It gets complicated. It's easy for me to say-I've always been told to treat people equally regardless of skin color or gender, or whatever, but this problem is bigger than me. It goes back hundreds of years.
So I guess I'll end with a quote from one of my favorite movies: "Who said life was fair? Where is that written?" It's certainly true. I would just like to know how a race/gender/sexual oriented nation will ever be able to establish what it is attempting to do while it remains obsessed.
27 August 2006
Here it goes:
I have pretty much sold my soul to working this summer. I've worked two jobs, six days a week with the ultimate goal of making enough money to get me on the road to the study abroad I want to go on next summer.
Maybe I should paint the picture a little more clearly so you can understand the depth of my frustration. This isn't just any study abroad. This is the study abroad of all study abroads. It is the England and Literature, spring 2007 study abroad that BYU offers. This means flying into Edinburgh next April, and walking to London, stopping in places like Oxford and the Lake District along the way to learn about different authors in context of where they wrote. Sound too good to be true? Well-it's starting to look like too expensive to be true.
Our whole lives revolve around money. Why do we go to school? People can give glorified answers about bettering themselves and wanting to learn, but ultimately, when it comes down to it, you can do all of that on your own. I can buy a Norton Anthology and make up my own essays and have friends grade them if I want to. Why does anyone go to college? To make money. To get a job, to make money, to support a family, who will grow up, and go to college, to make money...etc. etc. etc. The very cynical part of me is saying that The Lion King has it all wrong. Maybe African lions have this glorified, soundtrack-accompanied circle of life, but the modern day American circle of life revolves around money. Without money, we can't survive. We have to pay for literally everything. Nothing is, as they say, free. And there's nothing, in a way, wrong with that. Money is what keeps people in check, I suppose, from turning into a bunch of African lions. But from where I'm sitting right now, I'd throw the entire system out.
Back to where I started. I have worked all summer, sacrificing time with friends and family to earn money. Almost four months later, and I still can't afford the tuition for London-much less the plane ticket out there and money for food while I'm there. Not to mention the t-shirt to prove I've been there. And looking at my finances and thinking about that just makes me so blazing mad. It feels like all I've worked for has been for nothing. Why even try? Half of the money I earned this summer is going to go down the drain paying for food, and books, and gas, and all that. Maybe even more than half. By this time next year, I'll be even worse off than I am now. I feel like my time has been completely wasted. I have all the qualifications I need to be accepted to the program. I have the grade point, I have the right major-I know I have what it takes to be accepted-but because my parents make enough money, I can't get federal aid. And because I can't get federal aid, I'm living on this borrowed dream of seeing the world before I settle down and get strapped to one place by a husband and kids.
I will never have an opportunity like this again. Ever. I can travel, sure. I'm not afraid that I'll never go to London, but that's not the point. I will never again have this chance. To study with people who are there for the same reasons I am. To discuss authors and see the countryside and...now I'm just getting riled up again.
Well, for those of you still reading, don't think I'm a snob. I am blessed. I know that. I have clothes on my back, and plenty of food, and everything I need to live. I have made in one summer more money than some people will ever see in a lifetime. I have no right whatsoever to complain about not being able to go on a study abroad when I have everything I need and then some, but there it is.
If anyone has extra cash laying around, I'll be on the street peddling for loose change.
20 August 2006
For various reasons (none of which include my undying love for the testing center and midterms). The one that I've been thinking about recently involves one of my least favorite topics in the world-dating.
I'm not saying dating is a bad thing, I'm just here to explain that dating while in a family ward is terrible.
I have a friend who got home from his mission a few weeks ago. Since he's been back we've spent quite a bit of time together getting re-acquainted with each other and figuring out where we stand relationship wise. Part of this excess of time together is because there isn't anyone else around. Of our old "group" all the girls are either engaged or married, and the boys are either on missions or in other states. So we don't have any other options. And part of it is from just enjoying one another's company.
My problem with dating while in a family ward starts in the home. More specifically, mine. I love my family. But when I don't date, they tease me and pester me about getting out more and the importance of dating and all that. And now that I have been, I'm getting teased about whether or not I like him, and I can't get married yet, and make sure you go to your ward at BYU and he goes to his and...etc. etc. etc. It's one of those damned if you do, damned if you don't kinds of things. I hate it. I hate it.
Dating is something that doesn't come easily to me. This is hard for most people to understand, especially after looking over my book and movie collection, but it is. I don't know why, exactly, and the 'why' is, in any case, too personal for me to share in a public setting. Suffice it to say that I am really having to work at telling myself that dating is ok, when what I really want to do is put up walls and run. None of this is because he has done anything wrong-it's just me being me. I hate that my family-specifically my dad and siblings- pokes fun at me for this. It's hard for me. It's really hard for me to put my feelings at risk in a relationship. It's why I've never had one. And now, when I am finally trying to get past this fear, I am being teased by my family. I know they don't mean to hurt me, but it does. It hurts.
The other part of dating that I hate in a family ward, is that a ward is like a small town. Everyone loves to be part of everyone's business, at least in the Relief Society end of things. I don't know about the men. But I am so sick of hearing "are you dating anyone" or "when are you getting married", etc. I get the feeling that "when are you going to have kids" is probably going to go on that list too when I actually do get married. I don't know what makes people think that these questions are in any way appropriate. They can really touch nerves with some people. Is it really any of their business whether or not I'm dating someone?! If I was getting married, wouldn't I have some kind of rock to show for it? It's such a dreadful part of Mormon culture. You don't see that anywhere else, because Mormon's tend to marry younger than most others (no thanks to common law relationships and the like).
So for the sake of my sanity-I'm excited to be back in a singles ward where "who's dating who" isn't such a big deal. When *everyone* is having at that market, then whether or not I'm dating anyone won't matter so much.
14 August 2006
I work at a bookstore. Two years ago a new Barnes and Noble was built in my area and I got hired. I spend most of my time in the children's section because that's where I'm comfortable. I know the area like the back of my hand (though the new head of the children's department would probably disagree. She always catches me looking up a book that she knows. It's a bit embarrassing). Working in the children's section, books are often out of order. Mostly because kids pull books off the shelves and look at them, and leave them where they looked at them. Stuffed animals are always on the floor, chairs are always turned upside-down, but that's just part of the business. It makes it fun-trying to hunt down a fiction novel that somehow ended up in the middle of the science fiction section when a parent tries to reshelve something quickly so they can leave.
In all honesty, I would rather parents let their children leave books on the tables. It's not good store etiquette, sure, but it's easier for me to put them back where they belong than to try and find them in the far reaches of the store. The part of the store that eats books like washing machines eat socks.
Last Saturday, a mother and her two children managed to pull 27 books off the shelf. 27! While their mother was looking at this month's enlightening magazines (People, US, Life and Style...Etc. All the ones that are obsessed with the Cruise/Holmes lack of baby), her children managed to do what no two children have ever managed before. Now, normally when kids pull books off shelves and they get left, I can understand. Shopping with children is hard. Parents often just don't notice. But this mother sat for about a half an hour reading through magazines while her kids did this, then left the five or six magazines on the chair and all 27 books on the table and left.
My point here is this: Whatever happened to parents teaching their kids manners in public places? I'm not talking just bookstores. Like I said earlier, I'd rather clean up after them then try to find where all 27 books went. But shouldn't she have made sure that it was only two books? Maybe four? I see parents letting their children boss them around, I see kids yelling and throwing fits when they don't get what they want. I see so many displays of bad manners everywhere I shop that it's starting to tick me off. I hear of parents letting their kids decide when they go to bed. Three year olds deciding on a bedtime? Ten year olds with cell phones? I guess this is my non-sequitur way of saying that our 'free thinking' society has gone mad. Traditional family units are out of date and values that were once considered essential are completely gone. I don't have time to go into a huge lecture about every flaw of American society right now-so I'll just settle for my original point. I'm not sure if I ever got there, but I was intending to point out that parents should take more interest in the upbringing of their children.
"And now for something completely different."
I spent most of my time at the bookstore last Saturday shelving books. It's not uncommon for me to stop and take a quick second to read the synopsis. Sometimes it's out of curiosity because the book looks mildly interesting, and sometimes it's because I wonder how certain books got published in the first place. Maybe I was reading more covers than normal, but I must have seen at least five books where a reviewer had compared a science fiction/fantasy type book to Harry Potter or used JK Rowling to praise the book. I'm only annoyed with one of these. Jo can review the books she likes-I trust her judgment.
What bothers me are the people who compare their books to Harry Potter by shoving a review on the back that says something like "read this while waiting for Potter" or "better than Harry Potter" or "the Harry Potter for grown ups!". It's like those people in high school who try and gain popularity by saying something like "I'm related to (insert movie star here)".
If a book deserved to be compared to Harry Potter, then it wouldn't bother me. But none of them do. They are poorly written and constructed, they have boring, simplified plotlines and flat, unoriginal characters that are extremely predictable. It's like a bad combover. The publishers try to give the appearance of hair (comparing the book to Potter), but really, the book is just bald (unable to do anything of merit on it's own, so it resorts to appealing to a phenomenon). It's ridiculous.
On a more positive note, Muggle Net has published the first picture of Tonks for Harry 5! I'm loving the purple hair.
10 August 2006
Along with this reflecting on why I haven't written anything interesting lately, comes the realization that I don't know if I can honestly call myself a bookworm any longer. I think I can blame college for that. Every day this summer I have gone to work at 7, come home at 4 and gone to rehearsal for Footloose or a performance. And now that Footloose is over I come home and nap. Or watch TV. Or any number of completely useless, brain cell killing activities. Whatever happened to my desire to read? I remember summers when I would plow through two novels a week. I remember staying up late at night to re-read my favorite books over again. And now I come home and sleep?! Whatever happened to my worm? I want him back. Next to my bed right now I have about five books piled up that I meant to read this summer. Sense and Sensibility...Ender's Shadow...The Voyage of the Dawn Treader...A Heartbreaking Work of Staggering Genius...among others. I'm about four chapters in on Ender's Shadow. A little bit farther in Sense and Sensibility (but the chapters are shorter so it doesn't count). I wish I had that drive back. Maybe someday I won't be so tired. Every time I've tried to read I've ended up taking a nap because I'm so tired.
Which brings me not so gracefully to my third (and final) point for the evening. This summer saw the dawn of a new Superman to the masses. Superman has always been my favorite hero. Not that I could really pinpoint why. I remember loving Superman as a kid but I didn't know anything about him. All the characters and plot points were completely lost on me (except for Lois and Jimmy-I knew who they were). But all I really knew about Superman was about his different powers. And I think I managed to pinpoint why exactly I love(d) him. It's the same reason I love Peter Pan: both of them can fly. I don't know what it is exactly about flying that makes me hate gravity so much, but something about the thought of feeling so free just gets to me. If and when I ever pass the test and make it to the Celestial Kingdom, I'm going to ask for permission to fly. Just once-to feel what it's like. It's got to be incredible.