Friday, January 29, 2010
I'm the very first to admit that I didn't like Catcher in the Rye the first time I read it, in eleventh grade. I'd heard so much about the book, good and bad, tales about it lifting people out of their depression and rumors of its involvement in the murder of someone who only imagined. For whatever reason, it never clicked with me. It was the story of a misunderstood kid, yes, but it seemed like all he could do was make it worse for himself.
Maybe by that point in my life I was already too jaded to appreciate it as people who read it with an open mind do. Maybe, even at sixteen, I was exactly the sort of phony grown-up that Holden hated so much.
My opinion doesn't matter, really. It's a great book that sits firmly in the hearts of many. J.D. Salinger, the elusive and troubled man behind the heart-wrenching novel, a recluse for nearly fifty years, died yesterday in his home in New Hampshire. He touched so many, and will continue to inspire brand new teenager after teenager, looking for understanding, to reach for that golden ring and never give up.
Rest in Peace, J.D. Salinger, and may you find that peaceful place you never stopped searching for.
“Among other things, you'll find that you're not the first person who was ever confused and frightened and even sickened by human behaviour. You're by no means alone on that score, you'll be excited and stimulated to know. Many, many men have been just as troubled morally and spiritually as you are right now. Happily, some of them kept records of their troubles. You'll learn from them—if you want to. Just as some day, if you have something to offer, someone will learn something from you. It's a beautiful reciprocal arrangement. And it isn't education. It's history. It's poetry.”
Friday, January 22, 2010
Sunday, January 17, 2010
In my movie-filled weekend of fluff and vampires, murder and romance, there was one film that stuck out in my brain, mostly because I couldn't decide how I felt about it.
The Lovely Bones was a wonderful book, a really intense look at how a family and a small 1970s town deal with the horrific death of one of their own. It's one of the few books that I can attest to making me cry* and so well written that you feel as if you've overcome something difficult by the end of it.
The movie doesn't promise the same intensity, with it's trailer that reads like a murder mystery and all the rumors of drama and creative difficulties preceding it. And it certainly doesn't deliver. Of the group I saw it with**, those who had not read the book mostly hated it, those who had read the book were mostly dumbfounded and unsatisfied, and everyone was more than a little confused.
The book's main focus is growth. Susie's development from murdered, vengeful child, to acceptance beyond death. The slow healing of her family, friends, and mere acquaintances; growing over the hole that her absence has left. The movie misses the boat on this almost completely, catching itself every now and then and trying to save the attempt with it's closing voiceover, which pans over those left alive and how far they've come. But it all feels very abrupt. One minute, we are having a look at the multitudes of other women that have been murdered by the same man, and the next there is a tearful reunion of the Salmon parents.
The film jumps from storyline to storyline with little to no ease, making what should have been a flowing and long-reaching story feel disjointed and confused. The CGI didn't help; for all it's beauty***, the glimmering shots tended to distract from the heart of the story: the people and their pain. A lot of time was taken up in these breathtaking shots that did nothing to move the plot along, and in many cases did more to add to the sense of confusion.****
While I didn't hate the film, I am disappointed. I'm the first to admit that films usually never even touch the wonder that books have, but I'm also easygoing as far as accepting a film for it's own merit and standalone value. However, The Lovely Bones does not have much of that. It's packed with painful (and not in the good way) suspense and some cringe-worthy moments, with some beautiful scenes and poignant moments, but in the end it does not reach its true potential, a truly regretful demise for the lovely bones of this story.
*To be added to the prestigious list of Harry Potter 5 (Sirius Black), 6 (Dumbledore), and 7 (everyone else), and Catch 22 (Where are the Snowdens of yesteryear?), and probably very few others that aren't jumping to my mind.
**I would not recommend going to see it with people whom the only idea they have about your home is that it resides directly next to a cornfield. (It also doesn't help if you're blonde and have a beloved hat much like the one Susie wears.)
***My favorite being the sequence of giant ships-in-bottles crashing on a rocky shoreline, representing Jack Salmon's (the one and only Marky Mark) grief, taken out in the smashing of a hobby that he used to love to partake of with his oldest daughter.
****As a friend stated in the scene of Susie drowning as she struggles to reach Ray's gazebo, "When you die, you go to Atlantis?"
bet you never think it's right
bet you think you have to but it doesn't feel right
bet you never think it feels right
famous-sounding words make your head feel light
petals getting picked with the love-yous and the love-you-nots
five years going by, everyone is staying on their side
[don't you evah - spoon]
Thursday, January 14, 2010
A new semester, new dilemmas. For an assignment in my Media Literacy class, we are asked to pick one medium, and deprive ourselves of it for 24 hours.
Of the eight primary media, some are out immediately; I could go a whole week without coming in contact with a radio, I have to read books to study for my classes, magazines aren't prominent enough in my life to warrant depriving myself from, nor are newspapers or television. This leaves me with two: sound recordings and the internet.
In this fast-paced, media-saturated world, it's kind of a scary idea to be willingly withdrawn from the internet for twenty-four hours, despite how pathetic that may sound. I go on the internet during downtime, to idle on facebook or check my friends' blogs. I go on to check my personal email for any news from home, and my school email for any important things my teachers need to tell me. Most prominently, skype and facebook messages are my biggest link to my friends back home, and while I adore my new and growing friend group here at school, it's a bit daunting to think of willingly cutting myself off from the social circle that is sometimes the only thing keeping me sane in this new and stressful environment.
And there's sound recording. This is another fascinating blow, when I think about depriving myself and it becomes obvious just how dependent I've gotten on those recorded bits of music. To my mother's everlasting annoyance, I hate the silence. I usually have music playing, even if I'm not presently listening to it. Sometimes I'll turn the television on, just for the company in a lonely room. I put my earphones in to go to sleep or take a nap, and it takes me twice as long to fall asleep without that music playing in my ears.
To be frank, I don't want to go without either. The obvious one, I think, would be internet. I've gone days without internet before, not mindfully, but I have. The sound recording choice would make a more interesting study of my character, to be sure, and although it has a bit of a cop-out feel to it, as though I was unwilling to try and spend a day without the world at my fingertips, I think that's what I'll do.
Let's see if I go crazy in the silence.
Sunday, January 10, 2010
if the children don't grow up
our bodies get bigger but our hearts get torn up
we're just a million little gods causing rainstorms
turning every good thing to rust
I guess we'll just have to adjust
with my lightning bolts a-glowin'
I can't see where I am going to be
[wake up - the arcade fire]
Friday, January 1, 2010
There is no better way to ring in the new year than to mention how my imperfect memories of history that caught my interest has come back to bite me.
It has recently come to my attention* that Nero, Emperor of Rome, in fact played the lyre and not the fiddle. Turns out the fiddle wasn't invented for another thousand years after his time. So not only was he not playing his fiddle while Rome burned, he wasn't even in Rome while Rome burned.
This may not seem like such a big deal, and it's not even a very important revelation that makes any difference at all. It's just another example of how historical fact tends to evolve into not-historical fact that sounds better, like how the Salem Witch Trial craziness was probably just caused by bad grain.
But it does kind of ruin the image that I daydreamed in high school Latin class, pompous little Emperor Nero dancing amongst the flames of Rome, playing his fiddle, pointing the blame at the Christians and thinking about how awesome he is.
Plus, it makes this song from the Buffy, the Vampire Slayer musical episode kind of defunct.**
In other fun Nero news, he also sparked my young scholar brain by proclaiming, "What an artist the world loses in me!" before killing himself, which he did right after trying to convince one of his servants to set an example by killing himself first. He'll forever be remembered as a very bad ruler and a guy who was kind of a dick.
And remember kids, everything is interesting if you think about it hard enough.
*Damn Wikipedia. Always ruining my misinformed fun.
**Not that I've ever seen the Buffy, the Vampire Slayer Musical.