Monday, February 27, 2012

10 Thoughts for This Week's Bachelor

I know I've missed a few weeks, but I couldn't let this episode go without saying something. So in no particular order...

  1. I seriously thought we were going to witness the first helicopter crash in Bachelor history during Nikki and Ben's date when they were going over the glacier.

  2. If I was on a date in the Swiss Alps, you better believe I would be singing "The Hills are Alive with the Sound of Music..."

  3. Did the helicopter just drop them off on the set of the Lord of the Rings? It totally looked like that mountain was one of the Beacons of Gondor.

  4. Poor Lindzi - nothing says "I like you" like continuing to terrify your significant other with dates that incorporate their biggest fears into them.

  5. How come Courtney never is on the terrifying dates? All they do is go on picnics, skinny dip, and make out.

  6. Oh Lord - I don't know how I will make it through the next season of The Bachelorette with constant references to "Mah daughter, Ricky. Ah'm so ready to meet someone, because when she goes to bed at 7:30pm, ah get lonely. Ah'm ready to meet mah husband."

  7. Emily also just went down about 10 notches in my book, if she is seriously taking style advice from Ali and Ashley - two of the worst dressed Bachelorettes in the history of the Bachelorette.

  8. Oh course Ashley compared her love with JP to Jack and Rose. Of course. I wonder why Ali didn't make any references to her great love? OH RIGHT - They broke up.

  9. I almost thought that Kacie B. was wearing a Darth Vader mask, she was breathing so hard before knocking on Ben's door.

  10. Cursing in front of Chris Harrison, Ben!?!? Sacrilege!!!
Two Bonus Thoughts:
  1. Of course he picked Courtney. Of course.
  2. Ben's hair is seriously the worst hair of ever. E-V-E-R.

Tuesday, February 21, 2012

Book Review: Catching Fire

Catching Fire (The Hunger Games, #2)Catching Fire by Suzanne Collins
My rating: 4 of 5 stars

I delayed reading this book for a long time. I read The Hunger Games in 2009 and was mesmerized by the dystopian story, as well as its fast-paced plot. And I feel like Catching Fire captures some of the same pace of The Hunger Games with unexpected twists and turns coming at you with the turn of a page.

What I found the most engaging about this book was the further development of the relationship between Katniss and Peeta, which stopped so abruptly at the end of The Hunger Games. I could feel Katniss falling for this man who is good and loves her unconditionally, two things which she wishes were true of her (when it comes to her relationships with Gale and Peeta).

The true purpose of Catching Fire,in my opinion, is to lay the foundation for the next book. By touring through all the Districts on the Victory Tour, Katniss and Peeta show the reader the unrest that is lurking beneath the surface of the country, Panem. As they travel through the Districts, it becomes clear that they have solidly become symbols of defiance against the Capitol and its evils, (which is represented the most by the Hunger Games) but it is only a foreboding of the story that will fully unravel itself in the final and third book, Mockingjay.

In all, I found Catching Fire very engaging. It broadened the scope of Collins' story, setting up the third book, and it's own plot twists and new batch of characters provided for an entertaining read.

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Monday, February 13, 2012

Celebrating Thirty Years

Birthdays are so important. On our birthdays we celebrate being alive. On our birthdays people can say to us, "Thank you for being!" Birthday presents are signs of our families' and friends' joy that we are part of their lives. Little children often look forward to their birthdays for months. Their birthdays are their big days, when they are the center of attention and all their friends come to celebrate.
We should never forget our birthdays or the birthdays of those who are close to us. Birthdays keep us childlike. They remind us that what is important is not what we do or accomplish, not what we have or who we know, but that we are, here and now. On birthdays let us be grateful for the gift of life.
~ Henri Nouwen, Bread for the Journey, entry on February 13th 

Here's to celebrating thirty years of life thus far!! I have many hopes and dreams for this year (like maybe I can start becoming a real adult?) so am extending my birthday "day" into the entire year. Because why not? :) So happy birthday to anyone else who's birthday is today, to all my fellow Aquarians, and anyone who else who will celebrate a birthday this year. Truly, celebrate it!

Friday, February 10, 2012

Book Review: The Great Gatsby

The Great GatsbyThe Great Gatsby by F. Scott Fitzgerald
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

I had the idea to re-read this book in the hopes of being able to join in Out of Print's twitter book club - but I was too late in actually reading it to do so. But for some reason instead of putting it back on the shelf, I decided to crack open this book that I hadn't looked at since high school.

Fitzgerald's prose blew me away. The lyricism, the rhythm, and the contempt - yet care - that he has for his characters makes for a work of art that I never could have comprehended when I was seventeen. I was blown away during this reading.

What was most surprising about this story in reading it now is how similar i found Fitzgerald's commentary on the American society in the "Roaring Twenties" to be to our own current society. The mannerisms of the characters, the descriptions of the party scenes at Gatsby's mansion - these elements bear a striking resemblance to our own culture in its present state. It made me wish I was in a high school or college English class so that a discussion about its intricacies could have taken place and further enlightened me to appreciate the words I was reading.

And I have to admit that in reading this I was imagining the cast of the new Gatsby film being done by Baz Luhrman. I can only imagine what that movie will be like in his hands. It's almost guaranteed that most will hate it and few will love it.

All in all, I am so glad that I dusted this book off the shelf and read it again. It has inspired me to want to dust off more classics and enjoy the carefully crafted words between their pages.

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Wednesday, February 8, 2012

Book Review: Out of My Mind

Out of My MindOut of My Mind by Sharon M. Draper
My rating: 5 of 5 stars

It is hard to properly explain the magic of this book. From the opening line to the closing pages, Out of My Mind is a work of art that is both important, beautiful, and timeless. The author, Sharon Draper, has written many books. I know this only because I had the pleasure of hearing her speak at a conference that I was working. Little did I know that her keynote was only the tip of the iceberg of the power that she possessed.

This book is about a girl named Melody with severe cerebral palsy. She cannot walk. She cannot feed herself. She cannot move. Most of all, she cannot talk. But she hears everything, sees everything, and understands everything. Her memory is a photograph and she treasures knowledge and learning. No one believes in her capabilities though. Instead of seeing who she is on the inside - a brilliant girl - they all see her on the surface. Kids at school only see her looks or her odd shouts or her inability to feed herself. There are a few champions that come into her life and recognize the fact that she is trapped inside a body that betrays her full capabilities.

The thing I did not expect from this book was the way it touched me. Draper has crafted a tale that touches the deepest part of ourselves. It asks us to look inside of ourselves and see us through Melody's eyes. How do we interact with those who have no way of communicating with the outside world? With those who have been born into a world of struggle and disability that we have no idea of truly comprehending? They are hard questions, but questions that need to be asked because those who are handicapped are all around us.

The book is a breeze to get through - the reading level of the book is meant for anyone in grades 4 or above. But I am so glad that even though it is a "children's book" I picked it up and read it because it taught me something and opened my eyes even more to a world that I largely forget. And I hope that at some point, everyone will have a chance to pick up this book and have their eyes opened as well.

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Monday, February 6, 2012

From Zero to Sixty

My top ten moments from tonight's episode:

  1. Rachel being all upset with Blakely's "sexual dancing". Doesn't she know that VIP cocktail waitresses just know those type of things? It's why they wear silk shirts that just barely cover their lady parts. But then belt the shirts. Because that makes it so much better. (For the record - a belt does not make barely-covering silk shirts appropriate or acceptable attire.) (BTW, how many times did we have to watch Blakely "dance" the same exact thing? It felt like fifty million).
  2. A scrapbook!! I've been waiting all season for one. Thank you Blakely for giving me my quintessential scrapbook moment. (Sorry that you were then promptly shown the door).
  3. Little boys in loin cloths playing soccer and jumping in rivers. And then a random Panamanian rain forest tribe being coerced into an group date in which they have to dress up annoying American women (and one who feels that she needs to go topless - and bottomless. Lord help us.) I hope that this was one of those tribes that have no contact with civilization and this was their first interaction with annoying Americans and they graciously dressed them up in the few pieces of clothing they own that they have painstakingly made by hand.
  4. Did you know - Panama City is actually kind of metropolitan, according to our bachelor. Gee who would have thought the world's biggest canal and seaport would be kind of metropolitan? 
  5. Chris Harrison grilling Casey S. about whether or not she is still in love with her ex-boyfriend was awesome. And her denying it, but then admitting it, through her long-winded verbal diatribe was priceless. And admitting that she needs to be in therapy. And I would have to agree with her assessment after seeing her in that awful denim romper. 
  6. Nothing says hot like using a machete on a coconut. At least according to Kacie B. I'll have to take her word for it.
  7. I also like that on a "secluded" desert island, the champagne is still free flowing. Good thing Kacie B. packed a corkscrew as one of her three things to take to a deserted island.
  8. I want Chris Harrison to give me a hug and dating advice. What I wouldn't give to have Harrison be my guide on a "journey" of love.
  9. Jaime's kissing lessons and step-by-step guide to seducing a man takes the cake (but not the rose!). No words. 
  10. Emily's got some rhyme skills. Not bad for a white girl. Especially when she disses the bachelor for his frizzy hair, but makes it cute by dissing her own hair as well. 
Just some of the gems from tonight. What about you? What was your favorite moment? How long did you cringe/laugh/keep a pillow over your head and eyes during the whole Ben/Jaime interaction?