Lingua Mea Vita


Oscar 2011 Recap or Why the Academy Will Never Truly Understand The Social Network

This years Oscars ahem, “Oscar”, presentation was not that bad. I like that they took blatant jabs at their blatant attempt to bring in a younger audience as a blatant attempt to boost ratings (I mean, young audiences LOVE self-deprecating humor, especially when they can see it from a mile away). We have two hosts this year who happen to be extremely talented. (It doesn’t help that they were both extremely good looking). Anne Hathaway was charming and energetic and eager to host. James Franco? Not so much. His nerves during his pre-show interview were enough to give me an aneurysm.

But I like James Franco. I think it was great that he was nominated for 127 Hours. I love that you rarely see him without that giant alligator grin. And I love that he loves Oprah:

Oprah recently featured him in her magazine because on top of being a good actor, a slut for punishment Ph.D. student at Yale, and a generally happy person, he’s an author. I haven’t gotten around to Palo Alto, his series of short stories, but I will and blog about it here, because I want to know all of the things that they didn’t tell Harry (Spider-mannnnn). I also love that he likes House of Leaves, the trendy book of my circle of friends in high school.

But enough about James, let me get to the part of the Oscars that evoked such guttural shrieks  from me that likely scared the crap out of my neighbors.

The Social Network won Best Adapted Screenplay.

The Social Network lost Best Picture.

  1. Best Adapted Screenplay—I expected the Social Network to win Best Adapted Screenplay this year. Not only was the dialogue and flow of the movie out of this world, it was written by Aaron Sorkin, Movie Great (whom I mentioned in a previous entry). No other movie deserved it as much. End O’Story.
  2. Best Picture—For this to be the new, “young, hip Oscars” that Anne Hathaway and James Franco often mentioned, The Social Network would have to win. Not only was it a thoughtful examination of the human condition (that aching need to belong), the examination was of an issue that I think that is specifically poignant to Gen-Y. Gen-Y aren’t babies anymore, and with the rise of social networking, everyone (not just Mark Zuckerberg) is feeling this incredible need to belong, to be accepted, and make sure that their voice is heard. This isn’t exactly true of previous generations. The Social Network points this out in such a moving way, and a way that no one else has touched, and I feel a way that no one else will touch for a very long time. But instead of giving the Best Picture Oscar of the “New, Young, Hip Oscars” they give to the inspirational movie that you still have the blow the dust off of (The King’s Speech). It may be that the members of the Academy are simply too old to understand how powerful The Social Network is, and honestly, that’s okay. I will just have to wait for the Academy to evolve at the speed of its presentation.

I do realize I have probably butchered any chance I have at ever winning an Oscar for criticizing their choice, but I can live with it. 😛 I just felt really strongly about it, and had to let it go somehow. 🙂



BBC Book Challenge — Winnie the Pooh

Couple things:

  1. I read A.A. Milne’s Winnie the Pooh as my next BBC Book Challenge book because I needed something light to read after the intense lovefest that was Love in the Time of Cholera.
  2. It was also free on iBooks.
  3. I should go through these books a little faster if I’m going to finish by the end of the year. I’m a little distracted by writing projects (which is another blog post).

SUMMARY

It is pretty difficult to summarize Winnie the Pooh. It really is a series of short stories involving all of your favorite characters from the 100 Acre Wood. The chapters are titled in a way that gives away the ending to the story (Piglet Meets a Heffalump, Eeyore Loses a Tail and Pooh finds One). The stories are cute and short and an easy read.

WHY THIS BOOK IS RELEVANT

Winnie the Pooh has been translated into a ton of languages (even Latin) and it is one of the few children’s books on the BBC Challenge list, but what is so special about a fat, dumb bear who craves honey?

What makes Winnie the Pooh so special isn’t Pooh himself, but the cast of characters. It’s one of the first children’s books where there are multiple characters with vastly different personality types, acknowledging that children (and adults) can be very different from each other. With characters so different, the reader can identify their own personality within the group, making them feel special and holding a certain character special in their heart.

What do I mean? Well, let’s compare the 100 Acre Wood to a group that many tweens found character-identity with when I was a kid, the Spice Girls:

(stay with me here)

Both groups involve very distinct characters that the reader (or tween) was supposed to identify with and share an affinity for. Oddly enough, a lot of the personality types are the same (which relates to the archetypes mentioned in The Tao of Pooh, also a good read):

Pooh = Ginger
Ginger was clearly the ringleader of the Spice Girls. The most outspoken, the most iconic, and the group pretty much fell apart without her. Same goes for Pooh, he’s not necessarily outspoken, but he does have a kind of…sassy…quality in the book, like he’s pretending to be dumber than he is to mock everyone. And Pooh is clearly the glue that keeps the 100 Acre Wood together, without him…there is no story.

Piglet = Baby
Piglet was the oft scared, innocent one. And while Baby Spice’s innocence was probably more about selling that creepy, sexy little girl Lolita thing, her given personality works best coincides with Piglet.

Tigger = Scary
Tigger was the perkiest, happiest and and the most unbridled energy. Scary Spice was the smiliest, most energetic and had the most unbridled hair. Though her name was Scary Spice, she seemed to have the happiest, most positive energy of the bunch, and same with Tigger. And come on, look at Scary Spice’s pants.

Roo = Sporty
Probably the weakest argument. Sporty Spice was clearly athletic, and Roo was young, and energetic (but not to the point of near insanity like Tigger). I’d say the same about Sporty. Energetic, but not over the top like Scary could be at times. This energy translates to sportiness, I suppose.

Eeyore = Posh
The most obvious of the bunch. Posh never smiles.  Eeyore is always in desperate need of Lithium. Eeyore’s got it all, beautiful surroundings, loving friends, but is always so depressed. Posh also has it all, successful career, great eye for fashion and design, beautiful, healthy kids, David Beckham, and never smiles.

Of course there are a few Pooh characters I left out like Rabbit and Owl. But they just didn’t fit; there wasn’t a Bitch Spice or an Old Spice (but the latter would’ve been great).

But what about Christopher Robin?

I think the animals of the 100 Acre Wood were manifestations of different aspects of Christopher Robin’s personality (A.A. Milne wrote Winnie the Pooh about his son Christopher and how he played with his stuffed animal toys). So, put together, Pooh, Piglet, Tigger, Roo, and Eeyore (and the others) are Christopher Robin, like Ginger, Baby, Scary, Sporty and Posh are the Spice Girls.

The Spice Girls = Christopher Robin.

So when that music journalist gave the Spice Girls their nicknames, had he just finished reading Winnie the Pooh? Probably not. But Pooh did set the precedent for reader-character identification in literature, and clearly, it extends beyond what you read. For Sex and the City fans, how many have defined yourself as a Carrie or a Charlotte? Or a John or a Ringo for Beatles fans?

Humans love to identify themselves, and Winnie the Pooh just made it easier.



If you go home with somebody and they don’t have any books…

I’ve seen it coming for a while now, but this still breaks my heart.

Borders filed for bankruptcy this week. They are closing a third of their stores down. They are millions of dollars in debt to publishing houses.

This is especially sad for me because Borders has been like a local company for me. I live near the flagship Borders in Michigan (pictured above, the woman with the yoga mat is so representative of that city it trips me out), and I didn’t realize how huge of a company Border’s was until trouble started brewing with the bookstore/publishing industry a couple of years ago. More than a little part of me was hoping that hipsters would take onto reading and making it “ironic” and “cool” again like 80’s violently bright t-shirts and 70s porn mustaches, and would actually do something worthwhile and save the book industry. Alas, no such luck.

But it’s not just Borders. Barnes & Noble, though they aren’t jangling their cups for change quite yet aren’t doing as nearly as hot as they used to be. Lots of people blame Amazon. And now they can blame Amazon and their Kindles, which makes things like this video even scarier. Replace Friendster with Facebook, and we’ve got summin’ eerie goin’ on:


Most people say to move on with technology and I have—I have an iPad!  And while I don’t mind  the fact that Winnie the Pooh is nearly 300 pages on iBooks, there is something special about holding an actual bound book in your hand. What happens to compulsive ink-sniffers like me that love the smell of fresh pressed novel? And how the hell am I going to tell that the guy I go home with is worth having sex with:

“If you go home with somebody, and they don’t have any books…don’t fuck ’em!” — John Waters

john waters and his books

Not that I’m in a big rush to fuck John Waters.

I wish Border’s the best, and I will continue to purchase books from them. Let’s be real, michigan needs another failed business like a hole in the head.



Lyrical Analysis — Lady Gaga

Lady Gaga really built up Valentine’s weekend to be about her. She hyped her new single for release Friday, is being interviewed by Anderson Cooper on 60 Minutes (which I have been frankly looking forward to more than her single) on Sunday and will be performing at the Grammy awards (which will be broadcast right after it).

This is clearly the work of a powerful, single woman: if you can’t have someone to share Valentine’s Day with, you might as well make it  all about you. (And yes, I plan on going on and on about Valentine’s Day until it’s over).

However, I’m not to keen on Born This Way. Musically, there’s the whole “mega-Madonna-mashup” controversy, and while the song has a good message lyrically, it isn’t very interesting. No clever metaphors, no especially poetic phrases. There is some wordplay, but it’s nothing that Jerri Blank from Strangers With Candy couldn’t think up.

However, I’ve got to hand it to her for trying to attempt to infuse mainstream pop and a meaningful message. Especially after her previous singles have a history of being a little…scary:

  1. Just Dance —  Allegedly about a girl who gets so incredibly drunk at a club that by the end of the night, she is willing to go home with a random creep (sang by Colby O’Donis) and she has sex with him. (Just in case you’re wondering, the alleged drunken rape part starts at the music turn and the “half psychotic, sick hypnotic.”
  2. Poker Face — I’ll admit that I still have no idea what the crap Poker Face is about aside from gambling references that double as sexual innuendos. I read somewhere once that Gaga said this song was about bisexuality: and while I can kind of see that in the chorus, nowhere in the lyrics.
  3. Paparazzi — This song in there with The Police’s “I’ll Be Watching You” and Death Cab’s “I Will Possess Your Heart” on a playlist to listen to while stalking someone who clearly has no interest in you.
  4. LoveGame — I think it may be just me, but I’ve always taken this song to be about some underage girl trying to get someone way too older for her. I think the whole “getting your ass squeezed by sexy Cupid” put the image of babies in my head, and you follow that up with “I’m educated in sex.” If you have to tell someone your educated in sex, you’re probably too young to be having it.
  5. Bad Romance — This song is so ridiculously catchy and so ridiculously about domestic abuse. Or wanting someone who is really bad for you. Either way, not the greatest message.
  6. Telephone — Pretty benign. Though Beyonce really needs to explain to me how do you feel like you live in Grand Central Station. You are surely not homeless, Bee.
  7. Alejandro — Reinforcing the (tacky, cheesy, annoying) “Latin Lover” stereotype.

All of these songs were major singles for Gaga, so maybe she feels like she owes it to the world to write a song that doesn’t involve some catchy negativity. That I respect — but…why did the music have to be so awful?



Valentine’s Day Movie Quote Love — About a Boy
February 11, 2011, 3:48 am
Filed under: Cinematic Stylings | Tags: , , ,

Considering the fact that my last post pretty much spewed a crapload of anti-love vitriol, I should come out and say that I love Valentine’s Day. I really like the idea of love and celebrating it. I, however, don’t like being smacked in the face with roses, chocolate, and crotchless panties as symbols of what love is all about.

This is why I love this quote from the movie, About a Boy. The two main characters Will (played by Hugh Grant) and Marcus (played by Uber Pale Dorky English Kid) are having a conversation about the women they want in their lives. Marcus asks will what is the difference between a girlfriend and a girl that is your friend. Will says something along the lines of if you want to touch her. To which Marcus replies,

“I want to be with her more. I want to be with her all the time. And I want to tell her things I don’t tell you or Mum (NOTE THE MUM, HE IS ENGLISH) And I don’t want her to have another boyfriend. So I suppose if I could have all of those things, I wouldn’t mind if I got to touch her or not.”

Aaaah, the words from the mouth of babes. That single quote spoke more to me about love than any RomCom I’ve ever seen. Or maybe it’s because I’m PMSing. And I’m single. Before Valentine’s Day.

Ooooh, I’m a wreck. 😛



BBC Book Challenge — Love in the Time of Cholera

I chose to read this book first because the title of one of my favorite artists’ albums comes is a reference to this book (Emiliana Torrini’s Love in the Time of Science).

Mistake.

Love in the Time of Cholera is really just that: 348 pages of grandiose love dribble that makes me want to catch some nearly deadly bacteria that makes me head to the toilet every 30 seconds.

I’m not a romance girl, can you tell?

SUMMARY

The book starts off with the lovelorn suicide of a photographer and Dr. Juvenal Urbino coming to inspect the body. This exchange I can’t even call it an exchange because there’s a dead body involved, is the first 50 pages of the book. We don’t meet our main characters, the ones who are engaged in the “great love affair” in which the book revolves around,  until 50 pages in.

Yup.

With some irony, the Dr. Urbino dies by falling off a ladder trying to catch his pet bird the same day as  the photographer . His wife, Fermina Daza (one half of the main couple) goes to the funeral and sees the man who has been obsessed with her over the past 50 years, Florentino Ariza. I am bothered by how similar their names are, especially when Gael Garcia Bernal Gabriel Garcia Marquez refers to them by first and last name for the entire book.

We get some back story between these two:

Florentino first sees Fermina when he was 13 when he was working as a delivery boy, falls in love her at first sight while she’s teaching her ironically named Aunt Escolastica how to read. He writes a 60-page love letter (What 13 year old boy is actually writing 60-page love letters? I know passionate, adult men who have issues writing 60 pages of anything), but decides to give her an abridged version as to not creep her out. She tells him that she can’t accept it, because her father is  the Tony Soprano of Colombia (Lorenzo Daza) and she needs his permission to breathe. He tells her to get his permission, and Tony Soprano grants it until Fermina gets thrown out of her big, fancy Catholic school for writing a love letter.

Tony Soprano is so pissed off that he kicks her Aunt for encouraging her to get with Florentino and takes her away…where her cousin helps her write more love letters. She’s able to return to town after she’s 17 and filled out. Florentino says “hubba hubba” and Fermina says, “WTF was I thinking?”. Though she doesn’t really want to, Tony Soprano has her marry Dr. Urbino. When Florentino finds out, he decides he’s going to one-up the doctor in power and money and get his woman back (especially when he swore his virginity to her).

It doesn’t work (as we know that no teenage boy is going to stay a virgin for 50 years) Florentino scratches his way up to become president of the River Company of the Caribbean. He has sex with a lot of women to, one of which that Fermina stops him having sex with (Barbara).Florentino basically gives up when Fermina doesn’t fall into his arms, and he figures that the only way he’s going to be with her if Dr. Urbino dies. (No, he doesn’t kill him.)

So, Dr. Urbino dies. And Florentino ditches his 14-year-old sex slave (EW.) and Fermina finally have sex. He’s 76 and she’s 72.  After you’ve got the sagging flesh image of old people sex out of your head, think further. This means that Fermina was 9 years old when he fell in love with her. Florentino Ariza fell in madly in love with someone who probably still plays with dolls.

Fin.

HOW THIS BOOK IS RELEVANT

So why does the BBC (and apparently Oprah) want you to read this book? My initial (cynical) knee-jerk reaction is because it is a love story involving the elderly where that’s usually territory reserved for the young and foolish. But after some thought (and some input from others), I’ve come to a different, more thoughtful conclusion.

What you’re supposed to take away from this book that love is like cholera (or any other untreated bacterial disease). You can try to resist it, but if there’s a cholera epidemic, you’re going to catch it and its going to spread until it’s controlling your life. “Cholera” isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Garcia Marquez is trying to say once you really fall in love it controls your emotions instead of you doing so and that we spend so much time trying to control our emotions, we lose who we are as humans. Dr. Urbino, who is a very controlled, unfeeling character, was honored controlling a cholera outbreak in France. We honor suppressing our very human, irrational selves. But is Dr. Urbino the happiest character in the book? Nope—that would be Florentino Ariza, the most irrational, romantic, emotionally-driven character in the book, when he finally beds his woman.

So basically this book is a great big critique of people like me who dislike mushy-gushy romance and aren’t moved by movies starring Reese Witherspoon.