June 2010

Some awesome pictures for today.  I’ve recently been hit by a bout of mild food poisoning, so I find myself not performing at my best and most productive and also over my head when it comes to reading all my assignments.  This will have to do for now, in the spirit of my friends, and especially Emili.

Oh, and “live every day” doesn’t mean investing tons of money into war technology and systematically risking your life, in case you were wondering…


In the spirit of the wonderful new film, Toy Story 3, my roommate and I had a long discussion over dinner one night about toys we played with and toys the current generation has.  I remember having a large, blue, plastic Fisher Price easel, which helped to train me as the best artist in my first and second grade classes.  (Sadly, the artistic ability and perfectionism ruined any future career plans in that field.)  I had actual wooden blocks, Legos which were not from special $200 sets that boxed one into building one particular thing, Barbies, My Little Ponies, a plethora of stuffed animals, an American Girl doll with furniture made by my grandfather, honest-to-God real Golden Books, and King’s Quest games which required my dad to type instructions instead of pointlessly pointing and clicking.  Ryan also had many of the toys listed above, including a few race cars and action figures.  These toys fueled our imaginations, and enabled us to spend hours and hours by ourselves, creating new worlds and fantastic relationships among our toys.  Who says a teddy bear and a Barbie can’t date?  What do you mean that a Lego house can’t live inside the plastic refrigerator?  Why can’t Kirsten be the shepherdess of the ponies?

Kirsten, my American Girl Doll

High Flier, my favorite My Little Pony of all time

Now, the world seems to be filled with cheap imitations of the toys I remember.  I’m hard-pressed to find a quality kickball or set of blocks in this day and age; believe me, I’ve tried.  Everything seems to either run on batteries, talk, or need a television.  What happened to quality counting for something?  Despite the feminists’ understandable rage against Barbie, and I’m including myself in that group most of the time, Barbie is an excellent role model.  Her multitude of career paths foster creative thinking and problem solving, as well as show young girls that women can be astronauts, military personnel, and doctors.  Sure, there are the usual cheerleaders, teachers, and fashion models, but there’s a good balance of “independent” and “strong” female careers and supposed Barbie personas which blend in with the “soft” and “feminine” options.  I am going towards a career as a teacher, myself, which fits right into that stereotypical female career range, but for a time during my childhood, I could imagine myself as a politician, a firefighter, and a CEO through my Barbies.  Not to mention, they had fabulous clothes and furniture.  My allowance usually went into acquiring new clothes and pieces for the house I’d create under my mom’s desk.  I even set up a “shop” in one of Barbie’s cases, creating the hangers out of pipecleaners and tags out of small, cut pieces of tape.  (Of course, I stopped playing with Barbies by 1996, so I don’t think any of the scandalous costumes had surfaced yet.  And Bratz?  Don’t get me started…)

Australian Barbie, my first "nice" doll in my copious collection and an example of the kinds of Barbies I chose and played with as a child

I’ve made the decision to limit my future children’s exposure to commercial Dora video games and dumbed-down versions of the toys I once had.  Nothing I buy or create for my child will be a cut-and-paste scenario; the fun in being a child and in playtime is that anything is possible.  I wouldn’t have been the person I am today without such a wonderful, creative childhood, and I am determined to forbid any toys from boxing in my children.

Bridal Beauty My Little Pony, my second favorite MLP, often cast as High Flier's mommy

Long live playtime, and thanks to all the dedicated toymakers out there who understand the importance of a well-crafted and simple toy.

Or play with a toy...

I have more books, except this time I actually am reading them at a break-neck pace.  I’m in two A-term courses at the U, after dropping two insanely early, boring classes that were on opposite sides of the campus.  This means I’ll have more time during B-term, when I’m packing and getting ready to move, but it also means I have almost no time now.  I’m in medieval lit (a general survey course, but a course in which we’re covering texts I’ve analyzed in history classes or read on my own) and late medieval history with the prof I really like.  I’m hoping for Shakespeare After 1603 for B term, as well as a guided reading with one of my friends and my history professor on medieval England.  It’s refreshing to get to know a medievalist who believes in the cooperation between history and literature, and understands the two fields are not mutually exclusive.  For example, our main texts for this late medieval class are the Inferno, the Canterbury Tales, The Prince, and a book on the Hundred Years War.  Three-quarters of our materials are borrowed from the lit critics, which I think is wonderful!

Hence the long time between posts.  A-term is a 10-week course shoved into 4 1/2 weeks.

While I was reading Dante’s Inferno, I watched the latest Top Chef and Work of Art episodes online.  On WOA, the artists had to design book covers for various classics: Pride and Prejudice, Frankenstein, The Time Machine, Alice in Wonderland, and Dracula.  Surprisingly, two out of three of the bottom artists had P&P, while the top honor went to someone designing The Time Machine.  I actually really liked the third bottom artist, who also had The Time Machine.  Her wallpaper-influenced design had an interesting pattern and design, and intricate wallpaper-like designs are usually my favorites in books, like these:

Penguin Classics

Dover Thrift P&P

U Star P&P (British)

Inferno (Italian)

The winning design was great; it was colorful, simple, and pleasing to the eye.  However, if Penguin and the judges of Work of Art want to select a cover for devout readers out there, I don’t know if they can beat a simple and elegant design like these.  Congrats to John, the winner, and to the P&P artists: 1) please remember it’s “Jane AustEn,” and 2) treat the text with some respect, okay?  I’m not sure a semi-nude photo or backwards text is being very thoughtful of the content.  This book is many readers’ baby, so play nice!

More than simply catching a potential reader’s attention, a book cover should be something one is proud to display on his or her shelf.  I know I gravitate towards more elegant designs which have a timeless quality instead of overly flashy, sexualized, or text-happy covers.

Complete and total side note that is slightly related to the topic: Miles is amazing.  He has fantastic knowledge of many different mediums and understands how to translate his feelings and ideas into good and thought-provoking art.  (Are you listening, Judith?)  He read Frankenstein in four hours so he could do a good book cover, is brilliant, and is adorable.  Can I pinch his cheeks?  Please?

My personal reading list at the moment?  The History of Love and Doctor Zhivago.

Today I flew back to Washington from Oklahoma, with a connection in Denver.  The trip was fairly uneventful (as opposed to the trip in May), except for several minutes’ delay on both flights.  I sat next to a nice, if very talkative and, erm, open woman on the way to Denver.  She was going to visit her best friend who lives in Denver and who has a house in Las Vegas and who was her best friend since they were 12 (she’s 57) because it’s a short trip and her husband is on a transplant list and so can’t travel but who does support her going back to school and who had gone to Oahu and Cancun with her.  (Yes, this is what the plane ride was like.  Now back to your regularly scheduled grammar rules.  But, really, I could have had someone like this.)  I felt sorry for several people on the second flight who had been on standby.  They were seated and ready to go, but the plane was refueled, meaning it was overweight.  So the United staffers pulled these standby passengers off the plane.  I can’t even imagine that.  I think I’ve been on standby once, and I was a mess.  I went around tracking down another flight because my initial one had been oversold.  How cruel to yank someone out of a plane they’d already settled into!  Is there really that big of a weight difference between a mostly full flight and an actually full flight?  Jonah Hill was on Leno the other night, and pointed out that he can’t see the difference between a slightly inclined seat and an upright seat or between having an iPod on and having it off.  He’s right; would one of these minor changes really make a difference?  If they do, we have a larger problem to worry about if iPods can bring down the plane.  (Video of this coming potentially soon.  Or whenever I can find it on YouTube.)

The real highlight of my trip was probably the Sketch to Screen exhibit at the Oklahoma City Museum of Art.  I went with my friend, Grace.  It was an amazing collection of movie memorabilia.  The green dress, the green dress from Atonement, the flying dress and dinner dress from Titanic, Maximus’ armor from Gladiator, Queen Elizabeth’s purple gown from Elizabeth: The Golden Age, the drapes dress from Gone with the Wind, Atticus Finch’s glasses and briefcase from To Kill a Mockingbird, and Wolverine’s outfit from X-Men, among others.  I loved the dress from Queen Christine (must rent that, for the Swede in me) and those Titanic dresses.  Titanic was the film that made me fall in love with films.  I think it was the first movie to be covered in depth by the press when I was old enough to appreciate it.  I remember thick articles about filming in Newsweek and Time, along with my girlie magazine of choice at the time, Seventeen.

"I saw it in the window, and I just had to have it."

I may not have the talent to design gowns or to paint pictures, but I think I have an appreciation for art and workmanship.  Costumes help to create the mise-en-scene for a film, especially a period film, and say so much about each character.  In Shakespeare in Love, for example, Viola wears several amazing costumes for each type of occasion: wedding, Greenwich, church, ball, and everyday, not to mention her cross-dressing outfit for Thomas Kent.  Shakespeare has one deep teal outfit for the duration of the film, with one change when he plays Romeo.

This exhibit reminded me why I love films, and especially why I love period films.  Seeing firsthand how and why something was made for a particular film, actor, and scene enhances my awe for the industry.  For a good article on the best film costumes, check out Time here.

Now to bed.  I’ve gotten into two novels, and I’d like to finish at least The History of Love before classes resume on Monday.  Woo-hoo…  5AM wake-ups!  Or something.

Finish every day and be done with it.
You have done what you could.
Some blunders and absurdities
no doubt have crept in;
forget them as soon as you can.
Tomorrow is a new day;
begin it well and serenely
and with too high a spirit
to be cumbered with
your old nonsense.
This day is all that is
good and fair.
It is too dear,
with its hopes and invitations,
to waste a moment on yesterdays.

Ralph Waldo Emerson

I was supposed to see my knee doctor this morning, but if you’ve seen the Weather Channel or the local news in Oklahoma City, you know that we’ve had a bit of a problem with flooding today.

I tired three roads from my neighborhood to I-35 and to the west, but all three roads were impassable.  The creek (Harrison Creek, I believe) had overflowed at Sooner and Hefner, and there was probably 5 or 6 feet of water rushing down the street at the intersection.  It’s right near Oakdale School, the same school that was almost completely destroyed in a tornado a few years ago.  Britton Road had a chunk missing:

and Wilshire was too flooded for Mom’s Explorer to pass through.  I got back home and checked the weather on the local news, and over a 6-8 hour period, over 10 inches of rain has fallen.  My parents had three streams running through their yard earlier, and one of the fence gates was knocked out due to the rushing water.

It’s absolutely insane!  A semi was overturned by the water on the street north of Hefner, at the Sooner intersection.  The Harrison Creek overflowed by 30 feet, and people are being evacuated from their homes by police and firepeople in rafts.  I’ve never seen anything like it, except on CNN and the Weather Channel after hurricanes or tsunamis.  Oklahoma is just not equipped for this much rain in such a short time.

I think things like this, plus the house-shaking thunder, are what have caused my fear of thunderstorms.  In Bellevue, I think we’ve had one clap of thunder during the time I’ve been there.  My roommate and I spent a significant amount of time debating whether it was a car or thunder before coming to the conclusion that the sound was too deep to have been caused by a car.  Here in Oklahoma, as well as in Texas, thunderstorms, tornados, power outages, and flooding go hand-in-hand, and it’s taken me a long time to separate those weather events from one another.  In Washington and Minnesota, rain is calming and rarely a sign of dangerous weather.

Rain is a rejuvenating force, but in areas like this, it’s also destructive.  I can’t wait for this storm to be completely past, and to get back to appreciating rain.  Fog, umbrellas, galoshes, puddles, and the calming drip, drip, drip of a light summer rain.  Ahhh…  Yes, let’s go back to that kind of rain.

And when it rains on your parade, look up rather than down. Without the rain, there would be no rainbow.
– Gilbert K. Chesterton

For me, a page of good prose is where one hears the rain and the noise of battle. It has the power to give grief or universality that lends it a youthful beauty.
– John Cheever

Let the rain kiss you.  Let the rain beat upon your head with silver liquid drops.  Let the rain sing you a lullaby.
– Langston Hughes

Weather is a great metaphor for life – sometimes it’s good, sometimes it’s bad, and there’s nothing much you can do about it but carry an umbrella.
– Terri Guillemets

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