StumbleUpon Sunday (14)

StumbleUpon is a great way to lose hours of your life.  Luckily, I braved the Internet vortex so you don’t have to.  This week I found these especially interesting websites:

  1. 15 Animals That Aren’t Dogs, But Totally Want to be Man’s Best Friend
    This kind of content is exactly what the Internet is for.
  2. Man Walks All Day to Create Massive Snow Patterns
    I love when artists create something beautiful knowing that it will be transient and unseen.
  3. 13 Life-Changing Beauty Hacks Using Vaseline
    “Life-changing” might be strong, but these vaseline-inspired tips are definitely useful!
  4. Maps of War: Middle East
    WOW.  This 90-second video zips through history, showing all the empires and kingdoms who have taken over the Middle East, starting with Egypt and ending with national independence.  Never has this made so much sense.
  5. 18 Spectacular and Bizarre Airbnb Rentals
    Someone give me all the money!  I need to stay in every single one of these.
  6. This Man Found a SECRET Tunnel in His House
    An underground city 18 stories deep!?  With shops, tombs, livestock and individual quarters?  I want that at my house!
  7. 18 Irritatingly Bothersome Movie Plot Holes
    I’m going to try to forget these as quickly as possible, because they are so right.
  8. 17 Diagrams That Will Help You Draw (Almost) Anything
    Some are useful, some are funny.  Like the Internet.
  9. Six Before and After Pictures That Show Why You Should Adopt a Shelter Dog
  10. 23 Super Creative Repurposed Items
    These are so cool!  I want the card catalogue mini bar and globe bowl.  And suitcase chair!

The Giver: Book vs. Movie

Ithe-giver-first-look-jeff-bridges-brenton-thwaites recently reread The Giver and watched the movie for the first time.  It’s fairly obvious that the book is infinitely better than its film adaptation, but it was, I think, worth watching.

But first, what I didn’t like.

The movie moves too quickly, speeding through explanations and experiences where the book lingers.  The Community is hastily shown to us, whereas the book spends long chapters introducing us to their society, only slowly revealing how ominous their rules truly are.

The movie lacks a cohesive logic.  In the book, Jonas and the Giver are the only two people capable of deep emotion.  The actions and apathy of the other characters are seen as tragic and maddening, but we understand that without memories and emotions, they cannot help themselves.  They are little more than robots.

In the film, however, characters act on emotion when they have no ability to do so.  Lily looks sad at Gabe’s release, although in the book she happily agrees with her father that they did all they could for the child.  Asher hints at jealousy when Jonas and Fiona start pairing off, and later he saves Jonas’s life out of what can only be loyalty–an emotion he ought not to have.  And Fiona.  Ugh, Fiona.

the-giver-brenton-thwaites-babyI loved her in the book.  She (and Jonas’s father) are our most intimate windows into the tragedy of the Community.  Although Jonas’s feelings for her mature and grow passionate, hers remain simple and naive.  When Jonas rails against his father after learning the true meaning of “release,” he takes comfort in the fact that Fiona would never do such a thing.  That is, until the Giver tells him that she is already being trained to release people.  She stands in stark contrast to what we expect, allowing us to see the necessity of the memories Jonas is inheriting.  She’s a good person; we like her.  Yet because she does not have the empathy born of emotion, she will unwittingly do horrible things.

But in the movie, she fights alongside Jonas.  After mere hours of being without her injections against the “stirrings,” she accepts a kiss and soon helps him escape.  I understand that they are implying the power of love, but really?  It cheapens Jonas’s journey and the importance of a shared history.  If all it takes to buck the system is hormones coursing through their veins, a much simpler plan would be to get everyone to stop taking their injections for a day rather than attempting a dangerous escape.  Plus, it turns the whole story into a romance, and come on.  Don’t we have enough of those?  I liked the plot much better when it was a boy’s love for an infant that spurred him into action rather than a pretty girl.  Romantic love is an inspiration, but it is not the only emotion that encourages bravery and self-sacrifice.

enhanced-buzz-wide-10061-1405372530-18And the Chief Elder!  In her (admittedly brilliant) argument with the Giver at the end of the film, it seems like she has had just as much access to the memories as the Giver himself.  If so, what is the point of his station?  And again, this cheapens the tragedy of the book, where we see the elders deliberately avoiding any knowledge of the memories, wanting only the Giver’s advice out of context.

Whew.  Okay.  Apparently there were more things I disliked than I realized.  HOWEVER, I stand by my earlier statement that the movie is worth watching, and for one simple reason.  The memories.  The first time Jonas sees full color, transported to the view of a dramatic sunset on the ocean, waves turned red in the waning light, my eyes filled with tears.  The beauty was overwhelming after so much grey scale.  I was moved to emotion again when the Giver transferred memories of courage to Jonas, of people parachuting, riding rapids, protesting, standing firm in front of tanks.  And again at the end, when all the memories return to the people of the Community, and they see tornados, babies, concerts, lights, tears, running, praying, sunlight, death, pregnancy, and rain.

The movie is at its best when it takes on the role of Giver, filling our minds with memories and emotions, reminding us of the beauty, pain, and intensity that comes with being human.

The Giver:  Do you know what that’s like?  To love someone?  I do.  I’ve cried, felt sorrow.  Love, song, dance.  Felt real joy.
Chief Elder:  Then you should know better than anyone.  You have seen children starve.  You’ve seen people stand on each other’s necks, just for the view.  You know what it feels like when men blow each other up over a simple line in the sand.
The Giver:  Yes, I do, I do.
Chief Elder:  And yet–and yet!  You and Jonas want to open that door again, bring all that back.
The Giver:  If you could only see the possibility of love.  With love comes faith, comes hope!
Chief Elder:  Love is just passion that can turn.  It turns into contempt and murder.
The Giver:  We could choose better.
Chief Elder:  People are weak.  People are selfish.  When people have the freedom to choose, they choose wrong.  Every single time.
The Giver:  Loss, pain, music, joy–the raw, beautiful, impossible feeling of love.  We are living a life of shadows, of echoes, of faint distant whispers of what once made us real.

StumbleUpon Sunday (9)

StumbleUpon is a giant collection of the best pages on the Internet.

StumbleUpon is a great way to lose hours of your life.  Luckily, I braved the Internet vortex so you don’t have to.  This week I found these especially interesting websites:

  1. The ULTIMATE Braingasm Gallery: 100 of the Most Satisfying GIFs You’ll Ever See
    It’s like listening to beautiful background music…but for your eyes.  So soothing.
  2. Your Morning Commute Just Got Awesomed
    Pictures of strange cars/sights while driving–weird people are endlessly entertaining.
  3. Cheeky Cheetah Goes Face-to-Face with with Tourist in Safari Jeep
  4. New Expressive Dog Portraits by Elke Vogelsang
    So much nose!
  5. 8 Movies My Past Girlfriends Forced Me to Watch That Made Me Who I Am Today
    I love the humility of this post, that even movie buffs can learn from and love something unexpected, thanks to the suggestion of someone trusted!

StumbleUpon Sunday (8)

StumbleUpon is a giant collection of the best pages on the Internet.

StumbleUpon is a great way to lose hours of your life.  Luckily, I braved the Internet vortex so you don’t have to.  This week I found these especially interesting websites:

  1. Down the Rabbit Hole We Go! 300+ Mind Expanding Documentaries
    I’m not nearly as into documentaries as I should be, but this list includes links to view these films for free, so…maybe this is my time!
  2. The 5 Craziest Ways Famous Actors Got Into Character
    This Cracked article is fascinating and hilarious, covering Tom Cruise to Robert De Niro.
  3. Decoding Food Expiration Dates
    Via video or text, this site has a few simple tips and examples on how to know when your perishable foods are spoiled.
  4. Drawing Between the Lines
    Clever drawings of characters escaping their notebook-lined prisons.
  5. Painting Timelapse Collaboration with a Toddler
    I love these videos of toddler scribbles transforming into artwork with the help of a painter’s touch.
  6. You Fell Asleep Watching a DVD
    Hahaha!  This is genius!
  7. The ‘Man Who Flies for Free’ Says These are the 3 Best Websites for Airline Deals
    I bookmarked this so hard….I hope he’s right!
  8. Disney Princesses in Accurate Period Costume
    Sleeping Beauty’s is my favorite.
  9. The 50 Best Kids’ Movies to Watch as a Family
    Self-explanatory and handy!
  10. Perfectly Timed Picture of My Firework
    A week late, but wow!  What a cool picture of a firework’s trail as it leaves the ground.

StumbleUpon Sunday (5)

StumbleUpon is a giant collection of the best pages on the Internet.

StumbleUpon is a great way to lose hours of your life.  Luckily, I braved the Internet vortex so you don’t have to.  This week I found these especially interesting websites:

  1. Clever Illustrations Reveal the Two Kinds of People There Are in the World
    Well, I’m definitely the neat freak.
  2. 30 Places You’d Rather be Sitting Right Now
    A great way to feel worse about your desk/couch/location.
  3. Powerful Illustrations Show Women How to Fight Gender PrejudicesFor example:  “Rebecca had depression, and only after many months she was able to wear clothes that revealed the scars left on her body.  Rebecca, these marks are a reminder of how brave you have had to be!  Psychological pain is also human, and suffering it does not make you any less of a person.”
  4. Pudding the Fox is Too Friendly to Go Free
    I know he says he doesn’t support keeping foxes as pets, but with a name like Pudding?  Give me one!
  5. When Their Trailer is Transformed Into a House, Everyone is Left Completely Amazed
    This amazing camper has all the clever hacks that has made me love tiny houses.
  6. This Artist Doesn’t Just Drink Coffee, She Also Makes Incredible Portraits With It!
    Yoda!  Mario!  Daenerys!
  7. This Sentence Has Five Words
    Incredible writing advice given in an incredible format.
  8. The 30 Best Films of the Decade
    I’ve seen only 10!
  9. 30 Shower Thoughts You’ve Never Had Before
    “The saying ‘Money can’t buy you happiness’ should be changed to ‘Money can’t prevent sadness.'”
  10. The Hero’s Journey Outline
    Joseph Campbell’s hero’s journey, with multiple lists and charts!  This will be very interesting to a very specific set of people.

Movie Memories with Cousin Bess

This weekend, my cousin Bess came to Dallas to visit me.  We spent her first night here watching all three Jurassic Park films in anticipation of Jurassic World‘s release.  I chose to view our immediate fixation on movies in a positive light:  our family is very media- and story-oriented, so really, we were honoring our ancestry.  After all, this was not the first time movies were central to my memories of Bess.


When I was very little, I loved the Ernest movies starring Jim Varney.  So did my brother Roy and my cousins Andrew and Bess.  One night when we were visiting them in Atlanta, we rented Ernest Scared Stupid, in which Ernest must destroy a bunch of trolls on Halloween.  It is the most absurd film to ever exist, culminating in Ernest dancing and kissing said evil troll.  The four of us peered over blankets, laughing as though we weren’t actually terrified.  I vowed never to watch a scary movie again.  Continue reading

Celebrity Crush: Ewan McGregor

When I was eleven years old, I saw Star Wars: The Phantom Menace in theaters.  When I got home, I ran to my white board.  It was where I wrote my most embarrassing thoughts, the ones too scandalous to leave permanently on a journal’s pages.  “I know that Anakin is supposed to be so cute, but I LOVE young Obi Wan Kenobi!!” I stared at my admission of love, smiled, and erased the evidence.

kidman-mcgregor_3060451kTwo years later, I sat in a theater again, sobbing over popcorn as Christian wailed, clutching the body of Satine as the curtains closed at the Moulin Rouge.  I became obsessed, printing quotes (“The greatest thing you’ll ever learn is just to love and be loved in return”), taping pictures to my bedroom wall, and singing “Come What May” loudly as I vacuumed the house.  The Internet was a lot more useful by 2001, so I soon discovered that I had loved this actor before.  Both Christian and Obi Wan Kenobi were played by the same man:  Ewan McGregor.  Continue reading