Archive for October, 2010

Let’s do the Time Warp again

Last weekend, at long last, I finally saw “The Rocky Horror Picture Show” for the first time. It was inevitable that I watch it sooner or later. The cult classic seemed to be everywhere around me: friends talking about going to see it over Halloween weekend, in a scene from the original “Fame”, and, more importantly, on this past week’s episode of “Glee”. I wanted to see “Rocky Horror” before I watched “Glee” so that I could fully enjoy the episode. So when I got back to my room one night to see people starting to watch “Rocky Horror”, I decided to join them.

To say “Rocky Horror” is weird is an understatement. I was confused throughout most of the movie and spent a lot of time talking to my friends about what the writers were on when they wrote the script. And it was definitely experience to see Susan Sarandon and Tim Curry looking…different than they usually do these days. But despite its weirdness, for lack of better word, “Rocky Horror” is certainly an interesting movie. Between the bizarre plot, the lighthearted singing and dancing and the costuming, the last thing “Rocky Horror” can be described as is boring.

This morning I read an article on a Yahoo! blog about the movie that has been popular for 35 years. The blog attributes the success of “Rocky Horror” to a few factors, but there is one main point: according to the blog, “Simply put, ‘Rocky Horror’ isn’t like your normal trip to the megaplex. Instead, it’s a party.”

According to the blog, audiences everywhere (many movie theaters still play “Rocky Horror” around Halloween time every year) don’t just sit idly in theaters watching the film on a large screen. Instead, they dress up in costumes like those seen in the movie, shout profanities back at the screen and bring props to mimic some of the on-screen action.

“Rocky Horror” is a cultural experience that still has a huge place in pop culture. Whether or not everyone likes the movie, it seems to be here to stay. So let’s do the Time Warp again!

 

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The good, the bad, the truth

Regardless of whether or not you are interested in politics, John McCain, or how the two work together, you can’t deny David Foster Wallace’s gift for writing powerful description. “The Weasel, Twelve Monkeys and a Shrub”, originally featured in Rolling Stone, follows McCain’s 2000 presidential pursuit.

While many people only know McCain as a Republican who was injured in Vietnam and has run for president, Wallace gives readers an inside look at the man behind the campaigns–and, in the process, shows that there is more to McCain than what meets the eye.

Wallace’s article features many aspects of McCain’s life, from his near-death experiences in the Navy in the Vietnam war to his 2000 presidential campaign and all the people involved.

And aside from giving readers insight to McCain’s personal life, Wallace does not merely tell, but shows readers what life is like on a campaign bus. Between the “Twelve Monkeys” following McCain around in their identical button down shirts and Wendy, Cindy McCain’s eager, blue-eyed assistant scrambling to find Cindy a manicurist, readers quickly see that there is rarely a dull moment on this campaign bus.

One of the most interesting parts of the article refers to a tactic McCain (at least the time of the article) used to conclude his speeches. At the end of every speech, he would simply state that whether or not you agreed with what he said during his speech, he will always tell you the truth.

Although it’s such a small portion compared to how expansive the article is, this paragraph intrigues me. McCain, or someone working for him, clearly knew that many Americans are leery of politicians’ honesty. So to come right out and say that everything he has said in his speeches is true is a straightforward angle that might have made me think twice about my opinion of McCain–good or bad.

Although I personally felt the amount of detail to be redundant and bothersome at times, I can’t say that reading Wallace’s article didn’t teach me anything. After reading this article, I have a much better grasp on the intricacies of a political campaign. And I certainly know more now about how McCain reached this point in his life–politically and personally.

Something old, something new

 

A few nights ago I sat down to watch “Julie & Julia” for the first time, hoping it would live up to the praise that many of my friends and family gave it. Within the first ten minutes, I had my answer.

Amy Adams and Meryl Streep play Julie Powell and Julia Child, respectively. Powell, in a sort of rut in her career, decides to cook her way through over 500 recipes contained in Child’s “Mastering the Art of French Cooking” in a year while writing a blog about it.

This plotline is interwoven with a story that took place over 50 years later: how Child became a world-famous cook.  The many similarities of these two women’s lives are cleverly captured in the film: less-than-satisfying original jobs, friends they can lean on and supportive husbands.

Aside from the fact that I respect both Adams and Streep’s work as actresses, the movie was well written, with a good supporting cast. Add the fact that I love food and am writing a blog of my own and you get a movie I was bound to love.

Since I didn’t know much about Child before watching “Julie & Julia”, I was pleasantly surprised with the bubbly, optimistic character I grew to love in just a couple hours. Once she set her mind on learning how to cook, she simply did not take no for an answer. I found myself laughing as she whizzed past the men in her cooking class that was supposed to be for professionals only.

I also found the growling in my stomach to grow louder as the movie progressed, but that’s a whole different story.

Throughout the movie I felt that I could relate to Powell’s excitement as she set up her blog and began her whirlwind adventure of cooking and writing. I appreciate her perseverance: she kept writing while she was unsure if anyone read her blog because it was important to her. It wasn’t helping her career—or her marriage, for that matter—but she stuck it out because she was determined to accomplish her goal. And that is something that everyone, non-writers aside, can admire.

One: not necessarily the loneliest number

As I was looking around WordPress looking for something to write about, one blog caught my eye.  Author Marsha writes “Single Occupancy”, a blog about traveling solo.  She blogs about various travel experiences she has encountered by herself.

I was interested in this blog for a few reasons. First, I love to travel. This summer I had the incredible opportunity to visit Maui, Hawaii with one of my best friends and her parents, and it was one of the best experiences of my life. We went snorkeling and surfing, hiked through the rain forest and jumped off of waterfalls.

Sunset in Maui, Hawaii

Sunset in Maui, Hawaii

But although I’ve been lucky enough to travel to wonderful places, I have always traveled with friends or family. The thought of traveling alone has always scared me. One of my best friends from Creighton is studying abroad in Australia this semester, and she is currently in the beginning of a two week backpack trip through different parts of the country–doing some of this traveling by herself. I was so excited when she told me her travel plans, and impressed by her bravery.

Reading “Single Occupancy” made me stop to think about solo travel. In her most recent post, “The Birth of a Solo Traveler”, Marsha talks about a trip she took alone to the Virgin Islands. She said she was initially supposed to go with friends, but when all of them bailed for various reasons, she decided to go by herself anyway, despite her concerns about safety. Instead of using her courage to help her make the decision to go alone, Marsha credits her pride as the motivating factor.

Once she got there, Marsha said she had a great time; her fear was gone, and she even befriended fellow travelers.

Aside from the helpful insights into traveling solo, I enjoy Marsha’s honest writing style. She tells it like it is, and doesn’t try to sugarcoat anything. Her writing is concise, yet easy to relate to and humorous. I would encourage anyone who is thinking of traveling alone to read her blog. Although I’m sure I would still be scared to travel completely by myself, “Single Occupancy” helped me realize that it’s ok to be afraid–overcoming that fear could lead to some incredible experiences that might not come about with a larger group.

This monster doesn’t hide under the bed

Jon Franklin’s “Mrs. Kelly’s Monster” is an incredibly powerful piece of writing that takes an in-depth (literally) look at the horrors associated with brain aneurysms.  Franklin’s writing is vivid and rich, due to his description and attention to detail.

Instead of merely setting the stage for the surgery in which doctors tried to save Mrs. Kelly from her “monster”, Franklin takes readers on a journey describing the entire surgical process, from Mrs. Kelly and Dr. Ducker’s preparations to the incisions Ducker made during surgery.  After I finished the article, I was left wondering how Franklin had come to include so many details in his story.

This telling writing style does not let readers take a seat on the sidelines to watch the show, which is something that I normally would love and greatly appreciate.  However, thanks to some helpful genetics and various other reasons unbeknownst to me, reading about brain surgery in this much detail made me feel more than a little woozy.  Regardless, I read on, and I’m glad I did.  Franklin’s article does an excellent job of showing the fragility of human life.  He does not sugar coat anything, from the intense procedure itself to the dramatic ending.

Franklin took an issue that I knew basically nothing about and painted an educational, emotional picture of  real-life obstacles.  While I did not appreciate the incredible amount of detail in that it left me feeling sick, I appreciate the detail and effortless flow of Franklin’s writing as the stunning art that it is.

Fit for a king

I try to make a point to browse through the Lawrence Journal World online every day; I like knowing what’s going on in Lawrence, Kan., the city where I lived for the first 18 years of my life.  I skim through the articles, getting a general feel for the big events around Lawrence.  But yesterday an article caught my eye that I knew I wanted to read in its entirety.

Similarly, in early September, I read an article on ljworld.com that caught my attention.  Students at my alma mater, Lawrence Free State High School, discovered that a few seniors with disabilities had been left off the Homecoming Court nomination ballot.  They quickly petitioned the right to include these deserving students on the ballot, after the initial Homecoming Court had already been determined.

Many school officials had been previously unaware of this practice, and the ballots were immediately rectified.  I was horrified that my high school had formerly been so discriminatory, but so happy that students (none of whom I know) discovered this clearly offensive and unfair policy and took  action to make a change.

Remembering the article from earlier in September, I found myself beaming yesterday morning while I read about Free State’s newest Homecoming King.  Owen Phariss, a senior with Down syndrome, won the title of Homecoming King, to the joy of his family, friends and the entire student body.  After reading the article, I felt such a rush of emotion–which didn’t stop as I looked through pictures and watched a video of the event.  The look on Phariss’ face as he was announced King is one of pure joy, which was echoed in the smiling faces of his mother and his friends.  Needless to say, a few tears escaped my eyes after reading the article, looking at the pictures and seeing the video.

By this point, I don’t know students at my former high school; even some of the faculty and staff have changed since I graduated in 2008.  But after reading such a powerful story and seeing it expressed visually (ahh, the power of the media), I am so proud to be a Free State High School alum.

If that’s  not the feel-good story of the year for this humble Midwestern college down, I don’t know what is.