March 27, 2007

Tomato Paste

I felt like an adventure so I sauntered down to the Meat & Wine shop down the street. A vegetarian who rarerly drinks except for the occasional cheap wine, I don't know what I was doing in a Meat & Wine shop. But there I was browsing hunks of meat an hundred dollar wines. The store turned out to have a large selection of olives and other non-perishible bottled and bagged treats. I found a bag of mixed lentils with a recipe on the back. This could be the start of a beautiful friendship. I started to read the recipe. 1 large onion. 2 cloves garlic. 1 cup white rice. Olive Oil. Salt. Pepper. Tomato paste. Then I stopped reading. Tomato paste? There's no way I have tomato paste at home.

But I bought it anyway. The thought of homemade lentils was too refreshing even though I now had to find tomato paste at another store. I paid and walked out, headed back home to drop off a few things before heading to the grocery store. On the way home I stopped by a little convenience shop to pick up a pack of gum. I went off looking for the perfect pack of gum and found the perfect candy bar, breath mints, licorice and vitamin water. Feeling guilty I walk up to the counter with my junk, and the cashier says to me, "Oh by the way, the tomato paste is right over there."

I stood there, speechless. The cashier nodded. I finally blinked. The cashier said, "Yeah, we do sell tomato paste, you can pick some up right over there." I replied with some forced disbelief, "Are you a psychic or something?" And he starts laughing. But I didn't think it was funny. When he stopped laughing, he said, "Why, are you in need of some tomato paste?" He explained that sometimes he asks a customer if they need something random as a joke. But still I was a little freaked out.

But at least I got my tomato paste.

March 01, 2007

It's March

It's March and I can't shake the feeling that I was supposed to do something in February. Yes I'm sure of it. I was supposed to do something in February and I never will be able to do whatever it was.

You'd think I was menstruating or something. Every month I feel miserable and wasteful and lethargic and today I even had some chocolate chip cookies. Maybe I should figure out what it is that I'm trying to do, and then do it. Because every month I try and I fail--and here I am writing this lost twenty-something angst crap again. Maybe that's it. Maybe I need to write something meaningful this month.


That's it.

February 21, 2007

Bridge to Terabithia, Revisited

Yesterday, I did it. I went to the movies. Despite my concerns, frustrations, and low expectations for the film version of Bridge to Terabithia, I went with an open, empty mind.

To my surprise, I found the film perfect. Perfect. That's not something I say often about a movie either. Amélie was perfect. Big Fish was another. But Bridge to Terabithia is, without a doubt, the best movie I've seen in a long while--perhaps the best children's movie I've ever seen. Yep, Mary Poppins was a crappy babysitter and I couldn't care less if E.T. phoned home.

It took me about ten seconds to fall in love with the film. Good ole Jesse Aarons draws on his notepad and his odd drawings begin to move. It's a child retreating into his imagination, escaping not only the perils of sixth grade, but also an uncaring father and being poor as dirt. I can't count the number of times I've made the same retreat. So right from the start I saw that they didn't turn Bridge to Terabithia into some dumb PG adventure/fantasy flick, they really captured it's eloquence. With powerful actors, chilling music, and a virtuoso writer, Bridge to Terabithia remains a masterpiece. And since I feel like being bold, I'll say it. It's as good as, if not better than, the novel.

February 10, 2007

Bridge to Terabithia

Today I re-read Bridge to Terabithia by Katherine Patterson. It was my favorite book growing up, but I couldn't remember a thing about it. I picked it up, started reading, and didn't put it down until I had to pee so bad that I couldn't hold it anymore. So I brought the book with me and did the unthinkable: I sat down on the toilet and continued reading as I peed. I finished the book about a half hour after I peed--while I was still on the toilet.

The book was devastatingly wonderful.

And now I am tense. They are making a movie version of it that has CGI monsters and giants running around all over the place. It looks tacky. I mean it's a children's book--and the kids do have large imaginations, but come on. But I won't judge it yet. Maybe they'll capture what's special about the book: the relationships. Boy and Girl. Boy and Father. Boy and Sexy Teacher. Boy and Sisters. Boy and Classmates. This story is a lot more than two kids chasing around make believe monsters and I hope the movie captures that. Otherwise I'm going to write a very angry letter to someone somewhere.

Soccer Bliss

I'm dreaming and I'm playing soccer on a flawless green field. There are no referees, no out-of-bounds lines, and no imperfections in the grass whatsoever. It's a two-on-two game and the score is 3-3. At this point, I'm beyond exhaustion--my body is operating automatically. I can't see my opponents because my teammate, a skinny girl with a tight black pony tail, has just stolen possesion of the ball and we are running as fast as we possibly can in the opposite direction. I'm running slightly behind her; my mouth erupting, "RUN! RUN!". She looks at me, afraid, and passes me the ball.

As I'm running with the ball, I realize that this is her moment. She is stronger. She is faster. I return the ball. She looks at me once more, this time lingering just a bit. She then devotes all of her remaining strength into kicking the ball towards the goal. It easily goes in but we watch intensely--half expecting it to suddenly turn or be blocked by some invisible man. It takes us a few moments to realize we've scored the final goal in time. I can no longer maintain the strength to stand and I collapse in a fit of joy and relaxation. I look up at the sky suddenly remembering that it's night. My body sinks into the earth and it feels like the earth is slowly spinning. The stars twinkle and I realize that the roaring I hear is not my own heart but the fans in the stadium. Yes, one hundred thousand screaming, crying, laughing fans. As I lay, tears stream down my face. We did it. We won. We are the best.

And when I woke up, I thought, "This is why I play soccer". It took me quite some time to realize I wasn't a soccer player. There were no fans. There was no team. I was not tired. Yet, for the past three days I haven't felt the same. I've felt like my life has been a lie, and that my one true moment was there on the soccer field. I think of the best moments of my life--getting accepted to a certain school, getting hired for a certain job, or traveling to an exotic location--but they seem shallow compared to the joy I felt on the soccer field. I wonder, now, what will stir such emotion in my waking life?

February 09, 2007

A Consolidated Library

Growing up I read a lot. A lot. I was proud of my extensive library of children's literature. I would wake up in the morning and my wall of books would be the first thing I saw, and I would be happy. I fell in love with those books--they were my friends. Just holding or glancing at a book that I once loved floods me with the very emotions the book evoked originally. And so I lovingly glance at my books every chance I get.

But I'm starting to get more practical--which I hate--and I've realized I have too many books. Every time I need to move, the books were the worst part. I pack them like they were china from the Ming Dynasty. Today I decided that I needed to consolidate my library. Everything must go! Except Hemingway. oh and Fitzgerald. and Tan. Salinger. Twain. Well as you can see, I wasn't very good at it. But I ended getting rid of about forty books. Mostly stuff like mysteries and science fiction, and Shakespeare of course. I don't know how Shakespeare always ends up my bookshelf, but don't worry--I took care of it. But it still felt sinful; parting with these mediocre books. I kept looking around--half expecting the rest of my books to rise up and smite me for displaying such disloyalty.

When I got back home from the bookstore I looked again at my library. Salinger and Fitzgerald now have space to breath. Amy Tan looks comfortable next to John Updike. I swear Ernest Hemingway winked at me. I smiled in return; I feel a bit older now.

March 30, 2006

New Media Poetry/Inventions

Check out "Another One" by Jason Nelson.

It's almost a poem and it's almost a collage and it's almost interactive. It's stimulates the eyes and the ears, and it's almost relaxing to look at/read.

This hypermedia experience is structured as a series of colored text boxes which explain the nature of our patterned world. When a user's mouse pointer hovers over a trigger word in the text box, images pop up. There is a gentle piano playing in the background which gives the poem motion, almost a rolling feeling. It's like going to the beach and watching the waves crash onto the rocks. There are thin streaks of light that move down the page, some steady and some random.

Jason Nelson uses all of these devices to lure curious passerbys into his art. Once in, you can't stop looking, and imagining would could have inspired this art. Is Jason Nelson attempting to conceptualize a glorious epiphany, or is he upset at the nature of the world? The gentle piano gets louder at times; at first its outbursts seem random, and then you notice the outbursts happen only when you change from text box to text box. "Another Emotion" is a system of stacked patterns and the text describes just that: how patterns develop into one another.

This hypermedia experience is definitely art, and worthy. It would not be the same at an art gallery. This poem feels like the viewer is discovering something not as if the artist is revealing something.

March 01, 2006

A Harness on Creativity

When I sit at the computer to write my blogs, I can't help but notice the freedom I feel. I am free to write in any form, on any topic, use any language, add video/audio, change the colors, bold, underline, italicize, indent, bullet, number, cite improperly, use emoticons, and even word count is not stressed. But when I attempt to write on the page, I focus on what would be proper or correct. Doing anything that the MLA Handbook doesn't tell me I can do is unthinkable. But am I really limited by the MLA, or am I empowered?

The right side of my brain (and I don't mean the correct side) agrees with the prior. It's instinct to think that my creativity is oppressed by the MLA format, but that's not the case. When that right side of my brain thinks some more, it realizes that it has more creative opportunity following the guidelines in the MLA format. The MLA format forces me to creatively use language (and only written language) to convey my message, rather than emoticons and videos. Say I want to creatively describe how my morning was using traditional methods. I could write a passage that says:

This morning I opened my eyes for just a second, and then I closed them once again to savor the warmth of the blankets and the way the sun was kissing my face. Not wanting to spoil myself, I jumped out of bed and gazed out the window. What a beautiful day it was! How lucky I am to be alive!

But if it was on a blog I might just write:
I had a lovely morning. :-)

Colorful language (and I mean language that is in different colors), videos, emoticons, and all the other distractions are just that: distractions. So far I've misused parentheses, the colon, used a rhetorical question, ended sentences with prepositions, and the only proofreading I will do will be the spell check. This is all because of the casual, simplistic nature of blogs. It seems to be the trend that people write better on blogs than in other mediums, but it seems to be the opposite for me. I don't handle freedom well. Give me rules and let me bend them. Don't take away the rules.

February 23, 2006

Art in New Media: Mixed Feelings

I have come across several photography blogs which were simply compelling to me. I found them to be so honest, real, and worthy of my time. They typically are the same format...a person will take a photograph and post it on their blog. When you click on the photograph there is usually a 1-2 line description of how they took the picture, followed by viewer comments. It's just what photography should be. It reminds me of my photography class. We stand side-by-side developing our prints and we make small little comments to one another. When we show off our work, we speak from a humble place. We know we aren't famous excellent photographers but we have fun and we express ourselves. Art for art's sake is such a beautiful concept. I think the internet is a great medium for art in this sense. Without the burden of making art responsible/practical/censored, artists become free on the web. But by free I don't only mean that shackles are lifted, but also that art is free of cost. The artists end up not producing art for financial gain or for widespread popularity; instead, they are producing art to express their creativity and for others to connect with that creativity. While I love this idea, this new medium, I also hate it.

It's frustrating to hypothesize that things like newspapers, books, magazines are becoming less and less popular. How could I be an artist if the only publishing is online and for free. So then, I would have to get a day job. I would have to do something that I would most likely hate for 8 hours a day. Nope. I don't see myself doing that. But I may have to.

So I guess the real question I am getting at is, "Should one live and breathe that damn slogan, art for art's sake? Can art be done for any other purpose?

February 09, 2006

Hillary for President

I am by no means a democrat; in fact, I disagree with the majority of what democrats stand for. Hillary Clinton is a democrat. You might deduce, then, that I would condemn Hillary Clinton should she run for president, but I don't. Why is Hillary the best person for the job?
  • Hillary is married to Bill Clinton, and at night as they are cuddling in bed, Bill Clinton will whisper advice in her ear and she will inadvertently listen to some of it. And it goes without saying that Bill Clinton is fit to be world dictator.
  • Hillary is a woman; that will challenge stereotypes. There are so many people who still believe women are inferior to men; Hillary will prove them wrong.
  • Hillary has experience. Having lived in the white house for 8 years, having been a senator for a long while (don't know off the top of my head), and by witnessing Bill Clinton in all of his pursuits, I think she knows the job.
  • Hillary is smart.
  • And the most important reason: I met her. Quite a long story, but she shook my hand, smiled, and asked how I was. Just looking at her, I could tell she was a president.
Yep. So vote for Hillary.

January 25, 2006

The Dishonesty of a Career

I started my college journey in the field of computer science, but I've made the dramatic change to English (Literature and Composition). What prompted such a decisicion?

The not-so-honest part of me wants to instill the image of a four-year-old painting masterpieces that could put Renoir to shame, writing sonnets under the sunset, and playing Chopin etudes on he piano, but the better part of me shys away from this obvious embellishment. When I was little, I was driven and ambitious; I wanted to be an entrepreneur (I couldn't pronounce it then, of course). My father, an architect, had computers with internet in our house as early as I can remember, so I cannot imagine life without them. Mistaking my knowledge and skills of computers as a passion for them, I never ventured far from the screen, and even ended up majoring in programming in college.

When I found myself unhappy, bored, and empty, I thought, "What is missing?" I thought of my hobbies which were things like reading and playing the piano, and started exploring a bit. I soon was enrolling in writing courses, photography courses, film, piano, anything that would satisfy that hidden thirst that I couldn't yet voice. I realize now that I was searching for expression. A chance to unleash the wild beast inside that had been tame for so long.

You'd think I'd be so happy and content now that I have direction in my life. Now that I've answered such a difficult question about myself, I'm filled with all sorts of relief, but at the same time, anxiety. I am relieved; I no longer worry about not discovering my ambitions. I am anxious; I worry about getting bored, losing passion, and failing. Part of me wonders why I don't just get a degree in computer programming, and satisfy my creative dillusions on nights and weekends. Such a concept, though, feels dirty/dishonest. I wonder why that is. Why do I feel I have to seek happiness through my career?

January 18, 2006

Finding That Purpose

Sailing off into the vast, unexplored sea that is the blogosphere, I wonder where exactly to drop my anchor. Should I write one of those blogs that explores the events of my day, full of wit and anecdotal comedy; in other words, should it be a glorified public diary? Should it be a discussion of the some of the sites I frequent, and their technological and social implications; in other words, should it be a guide to the web? And finally--the one I may be leaning towards--should it be the type of blog that focuses on inner thoughts and dreams, but at the same time proposes ideas and contemplations about the nature of the world?

The main reason I am hesitant to blog diary entries is my audience. Although this blog will mostly be read by people who know me (e.g., my professor, a few classmates, and maybe a few friends), I don't find them being all that interested in every detailed event of my life. If I were reading my own blog, I definitely wouldn't want to see, "I woke up at 6:00 a.m. and felt really sleepy. I decided to get up and take a shower. I had a banana and a muffin for breakfast." I think I would have stopped reading at "I woke up".

But stop me from exaggerating; not all diary blogs are bland and boring. For example, the blog of a presidential candidate, the blog of a singer, or even the blog of your best friend might hold one's interest no matter how mundane the details. I've noticed that people tend to have three forms of their diary blog. There is the one that is endlessly pessimistic and negative; it talks about how bad a day went, including that alarm clock that never went off, that professor who is out to get you, and even that annoying sniffle that never goes away. Also, there is the blog that is surprisingly positive. This blog uses descriptive language to describe perfect moments throughout the day, like a pleasant walk to class, or a scenic drive, or maybe a fun lunch with an old friend. The last blog I typically encounter is simply a survey. The blog is just a list of questions written by someone else, and the blogger responds with his sometimes honest, revealing answers, and sometimes creative, witty replies.

Since I classify myself as quite the world traveler when it comes to the internet, I thought about making my blog a sort of hitchiker's guide to hyperspace. I sometimes spend hours surfing message boards, news sites, looking for new features of the major web portals, Myspace, Facebook, and "Googling". During sessions of exhaustive exploration, I uncover a lot of random, yet interesting relics. A site that lets you type in a concept and provides the word you were thinking of but just couldn't voice. A site where you can type in your favorite songs and it analyzes the beat structure and then plays similar songs. While this is such an interesting platform for me to write in, I don't think its general enough for a primary blog.

The blog form in which I most closely identify myself is what Rebecca Blood (a pioneer blogger) coins "notebook blog". As I mentioned earlier, this is a blog that ties personal experiences together with larger contemplations. I think this gives me a chance to satisfy two of my inner desires: to share my quirky stories and adventures, and to examine those situations and ponder their significance.

Well here I go, head first, into the rabbit hole, motivated by my minds curiosity and imagination, humbled by my status as a toddler in the blogosphere, confident that I will improve, and excited to start the journey.