Saturday, July 31, 2010

Can you just... quit?

I read the statement Anne Rice released, removing her name from the label of "Christianity" and I've been giving it quite a bit of thought. Here's what she said:


"For those who care, and I understand if you don't: Today I quit being a Christian. I'm out. I remain committed to Christ as always but not to being "Christian" or to being part of Christianity. It's simply impossible for me to 'belong' to this quarrelsome, hostile, disputatious, and deservedly infamous group. For ten …years, I've tried. I've failed. I'm an outsider. My conscience will allow nothing else.
 "As I said below, I quit being a Christian. I'm out. In the name of Christ, I refuse to be anti-gay. I refuse to be anti-feminist. I refuse to be anti-artificial birth control. I refuse to be anti-Democrat. I refuse to be anti-secular humanism. I refuse to be anti-science. I refuse to be anti-life. In the name of …Christ, I quit Christianity and being Christian. Amen.
"I believed for a long time that the differences, the quarrels among Christians didn't matter a lot for the individual, that you live your life and stay out of it. But then I began to realize that it wasn't an easy thing to do. I came to the conclusion that if I didn't make this declaration, I was going to lose my mind."

Those are really strong words. So, I'm asking you... Can you quit religion but maintain a spiritual life that still resembles what it was when you were going to church? Or that's better even? I mean, beyond "oh, I don't believe in religion but I'm a vaguely spiritual person." I'm talking about having a real set of beliefs, practices, rules, whatever, and always working to better yourself and put forth good into the world. Can you have a relationship with your God that's there all the time, not just when you need it? Can you be a (insert religion here) without being a "(insert religion here)?" How is that done, especially in "Christian" religions that value community and fellowship as highly as any of their beliefs?

I'm asking this because religion has always been hard for me. It shouldn't be. I was raised by devout (albeit unconventional) Mormons, I was exposed to many different religions growing up and I maintain deep, respectful relationships with many of my lifelong Mormon friends. I also have friends and family who are Jewish, other denominations of Christian and Islam, and find Buddhism beautiful and fascinating. These religious people always seem to have something special about them that I envy and often seek after. However, I've spent most of my life being afraid of religion--of what it makes me feel and the institutions themselves. When a church takes a stand on an issue (like Anne Rice mentioned), or lends its support to a cause that I don't agree with (like Prop 8), my instinct is to back away slowly. I've also been on the receiving end of judgment and exclusion, and I think that's something that can easily happen in groups that promote a specific lifestyle. I met so many Mormons in New York who are able to go to church but remain confident and grounded in their beliefs that stray from those of the church. They're smart, liberal and God-fearing. I know people like that of all religions, who create their own understanding of their religion within the institution.

So why is it so hard for me? Why is it in my nature to remain detached from labels and sects, but also to believe in something bigger than all of us? How does anyone reconcile science, conscience and progressive ideas with old traditions and beliefs to have a life that's well-rounded and full of purpose? Obviously, you could go one way or the other but for someone like Anne Rice... or me... who is pulled in two directions, do you really just have to go rogue?

I am aware that I will, no doubt, get some criticism for this post but please understand that I don't mean to offend anyone. There's no one unbiased person that I can go to with questions like this, so I felt it better to put it out there for everyone and see what I get back.

Wednesday, July 28, 2010

STOKED

I will be on an airplane when this movie opens (August 13th) and that makes me feel like crying. I still haven't read the last volume of the graphic novel series because I'm too poor to buy things but I've decided that I'm okay with Michael Cera in this role (I guess) and am now so pumped for the movie! I will be there with my Sex Bob-omb shirt on! Where my fangirls at?! (If you're one of my new followers, I guess this is as good a time as any to warn you that I am kind of really into some nerdy things. Also, HI!!! Are any of you into things like this too? Can we be friends?!)

Sunday, July 25, 2010

Black Orpheus (1959)

“Everything is beautiful, Eurydice. My heart is a bird whose thirst is quenched by a drop of dew. Thank you, Eurydice. Thank you for this new day.”

I've written about this before, but it was on TCM yesterday and made me so happy. I really love this film and encourage you to see it. Click the photo to learn more.

Saturday, July 24, 2010

Inception *SPOILER ALERT*

I saw Inception last night in the perfect seat at the Titan XC theatre in Honolulu. The theatre has an IMAX-sized screen, new projector and super comfy reclining leather seats. The sound was a little loud but the speakers handled it well, and the audience was chill. All in all, the best possible way I could have experienced the film here in Hawaii. 
I just want to share a few quick thoughts before I see it again and hear what you guys are thinking. I haven't read any reviews because those people are smarter than me and make me feel inferior. So here are my uninfluenced, probably kindergarten level thoughts.
Let's discuss! 

- I love the whole Edith Piaf thing. Very sweet for Marion Cotillard and really makes her character more ghostly and the story more surreal. Who would have thought that kind of overlap could add to the story rather than take away from it?? Not me, but it does.

- Christopher Nolan really outdid himself. He just keeps getting better and better.

- I like how straightforward the plot is. Often thrillers that have complicated/layered plot lines like this tend to cover up holes and flaws by being too vague (Vanilla Sky, anyone?), or lose some of the plot to action scenes in the editing room. This is a huge pet peeve of mine and one of the reasons I'm so easily turned off by sci-fi thrillers. I love that each layer is presented to us clearly, either visually or through dialogue, but it's still done in a creative, intelligent way so as to avoid being condescending toward its audience.

- I think the interaction between characters is nicely layered. He never really elaborates on any of the relationships within the team, but it's clear they have history and feelings for each other. It doesn't get in the way of the action, but the characters become more than pawns moving the plot along. So many action films strive for this and it's so rarely done in such a subtle, classy way.

- Furthermore, it's cute that within those interactions he plays on each of the main actors' strengths, almost like an homage to their careers to that point. Joseph Gordon-Levitt steals a cheeky kiss, Ellen Page is super smart but young and wide eyed. It feels very self aware, not predictable.

- I love the way time is handled, in particular the stunningly beautiful shots where the sleeping state is contrasted with the intense action of the dream state. The van plummeting toward the water is my favorite sequence. It's perfect.

- The writing, the effects, the detail. 10.

- Wally Pfister, the cinematographer, is amazing because he has such masterful technique and style but is able to update it artistically as special effects improve. I loved the combination of polished, enhanced sequences and handheld camera work. I am in awe.

- I'm conflicted about the ending. An ambiguous, open ending seems a little too obvious to me. I'm hoping that when I watch it again I'll be able to find a more justified reason for it.

I can't wait to hear what you guys think! 

Thursday, July 22, 2010

So You Think You Can Dance Season 7 - Top 4?

I love this show. If you love it too you should be my friend so we can talk about it.

I think it's one of the best things to happen to dance in years, and I love the crew's passion and dedication to the art form while striving to make it accessible. They're always trying new genres and consistently putting forth some of the best choreography out there right now. Even if you're not into dance, you have to admit that's respectable given the vast wasteland that television can be.

This season has been a rollercoaster ride. Some of the best routines and dancers yet, but three injuries that have taken top contestants out of competition. Alex, the best dancer they've ever had on the show, got hurt and had to leave the competition when he was just getting started. I'm not really ready to admit to the world just how sad that made me.
Now that I've resigned myself to the fact that I don't get to watch him dance every week, I'm re-excited about this season! My favorites were Kent (everyone's favorite) and Billy Bell (no one's favorite). I've followed Billy Bell as a dancer for a couple years and think he's so interesting and talented. I was pretty set on rooting for the underdog and the probable winner, but then Lauren did this to me last night:
What?! Who is this girl and why is she amazing?? That routine was INSANE. I can't stop watching it. Nappy Tabs choreographed it and they're evil geniuses, yes. Twitch was her partner and he's the best hip hop dancer out there, yes, but this was all about Lauren. Whoa.

Then this happened:
(again, thanks to Nappy Tabs) and now I'm all confused about my feelings for AdeChike. You know a routine is intense when both dancers are in tears by the end of it. I am always amazed by what Tabitha and Napoleon can bring to a hip hop routine and what a great piece of work can bring out of a dancer. AdeChike's presence is kind of off most of the time but twice now (the other time in a contemporary piece with Kent) he's put forth some of the best danced, most emotionally raw pieces of work the show has ever seen. 

So here it goes, my prediction for the Top 4:

AdeChike, Lauren, Robert and Kent
What do you think? I really want to see Billy in the Top 4 but I don't see it happening. Also, I'm so ready for Jose to go home. One of the best things about this show is that they give dancers who aren't professionals a shot, but at some point if you're not good enough, you're not good enough. 

Do any of my readers watch the show? What are your predictions for Top 4? Do you think Kent will win? Is that even a question anymore? I doubt it.

on being young and dumb

When you’re young; you don’t have to make smart decisions to make sound decisions. You’re still mapping the territory, so failure is the quickest route between idiocy and enlightenment.
I recommend reading the whole Mighty Girl post that was taken from. It's not your typical girly "20 Things I Wish I'd Known at 20" post, I promise. It's wisdom, or it's certainly something to think about.

I really think that decision making is what makes or breaks you in your 20s, and what sets the stage for the rest of your life. Personally, I would always rather try something than not. I remember one of my best friends, Justin, saying to me once (when discussing our tattoos), "I don't want to die without a few scars." I couldn't agree more. That said, I've certainly made my share of epicly bad decisions. Most of the time I feel like I'm being pulled away from a conservative, safe life by the appetite of my heart. This is heavy on my mind lately as I watch my friends and myself go through a time of big decisions and, in my case, of learning to gracefully accept decisions that aren't yours to make.

I don't ever feel like I can go to anyone for advice, so I'm happy this post found its way to me. Some of the points are things I've learned on my own in the past couple years, but some I feel like I'll never learn

I have felt a change within myself lately, an urgency to focus my attention on the life I want. When I set my mind on something I am unstoppable, and I know it's now or never. Start my career, direct a film, start dancing again, have a meaningful, healthy romantic relationship. Those are my honest goals, and while I can't make them all happen, I can put myself in the right places physically and mentally to facilitate them. If I mess up, it won't be the first time and it won't be the end of the world.

Man, I feel the fire. I feel a ferocity bubbling up from my core, an old friend I haven't seen in a long time. I guess sometimes it's good to hear that it's okay to take risks and make mistakes. As difficult as it can be, we only get one shot at being young and dumb.

Wednesday, July 21, 2010

oops.

in a headached haze this morning i accidentally deleted last night's post instead of the draft i meant to delete. the number of times i've done stupid things like that in the last six months and blamed it on my headaches is just embarrassing. i can't concentrate, forget things that i shouldn't forget and have a really hard time getting enough sleep. a few months ago i was cooking dinner with my friend walter and couldn't remember what peas were called. so. i finally gave in an went to the doctor yesterday, which i hate doing, and nothing really came of it. he did the standard doctor thing, "here's a prescription, if it gets worse call me." but i was firm and demanded that he refer me to a neurologist. he was reluctant but i won. i'm 90% sure it's a TMJ jaw thing, which an orthodontist can fix, but hopefully i'll find out for sure.

i don't really feel like recapping the post, which wasn't great anyway, but expect a full report on so you think you can dance tonight!

Sunday, July 18, 2010

Congrats, Kerie!

My sweet friend Kerie...
is marrying this guy....
and I am so happy for her!
He is the nicest and she so, so deserves that!
Love you, Kurry!

It was all a dream.


I've been having deja vu lately. Last night it was so intense that I couldn't sleep. When I finally did, I dreamed things that have happened in the last couple weeks. I'm left sincerely wondering if it wasn't all a dream. I'm only half serious... but that's only because there are pictures. At this point it seems the only logical explanation.

watched this week:

Hot Tub Time Machine (2010)
What even. So ridiculous. I love Craig Robinson. The irony of John Cusack in this role was also very much appreciated. Clark Duke can just go... away... somewhere. 

Youth in Revolt (2009)
Yes! Even though no part of me believed Michael Cera as a badass, every part of me loved it! My only disappointment was that it turned out to be mainly another one of his typecast roles: virgin in love. Something new, please? All Francois, maybe? Favorite scene: Nick and Vijay, naked, running for their lives. The whole sequence is hilarious! 

Etoiles: Dancers of the Paris Opera Ballet (2001)
Made me reconsider every decision I've ever made in my life. 

Surfwise (2007)
Director Doug Pray is a master documentarian. This story of the Paskowitz family was funny, sweet, shocking, sometimes disturbing, always gripping. Super entertaining storytelling!

Brief Interviews with Hideous Men (2009)
A straightforward adaptation of a story that I love. Shook me a little more than I wanted to be shaken, but it's good to stay on your toes.

C.R.A.Z.Y. (2005)
Favorite! So, so good. Great music, great story, great performances. I may not be a gay boy in 1970s Montreal, but I know this is what it's like to be the part of the family puzzle that doesn't fit. A beautiful movie thanks, in part, to the music of David Bowie. I want to watch it again.

Urban Cowboy (1980)
HOT. Debra Winger is a goddess.

Serenity (2005)
Sigh.

Friday, July 16, 2010

Toy Story 3

I just realized I haven't posted about this! I saw Toy Story 3 a couple weeks ago and it officially set the record for the fastest I've ever cried in a movie. I really wanted to not be completely predictable but, what can I say? Tears were streaming at the 5 minute mark during the old "home videos" of Andy. I thought the film was a beautiful, touching way to end the story of Woody, Buzz and Andy, and love how bold Pixar is getting. I, like every other mother in America, bawled my eyes out when Andy's mom looked around his empty room. But there were other moments, like when the toys accepted their fate in the incinerator, that were as intense as it gets. I fell in love with little Bonnie and thought the story could not have possibly ended better. I wanted to run to B, grab him and never let him go, then jump through the screen and hug Andy's mom.
That's the beauty of Pixar.

the party's over.

i've had a great time of sight seeing, playing in the ocean and eating like this:
(seriously, who knew hawaii did veggie burgers so well?!)
but now it's time to get back to work, get focused, get in shape.
everything ends.

Thursday, July 15, 2010

Sunday = Pearl Harbor

I'm exhausted.

Sunday was all about the Aloha Stadium Flea Market and a visit to Pearl Harbor. As some of you know, I am more than a little obsessed with all things WWII-era, so seeing Pearl Harbor was very cool for me. I was surprised by how moving it was standing over the USS Arizona. I guess because the decision to go was kind of on a whim, and the rest of the experience was lighthearted and fun. As soon as we stepped onto the memorial, the mood changed. I couldn't help but think about my great-grandpas who fought and what that day must have been like for the men and women involved. The ship was still leaking oil, which survivors say will happen until the last survivor dies.
NAVY! (Grandpa Rodney would be so proud!)
The rest of the weekend has been spent strolling marketplaces and eating. So much eating. I'm tired, have weird tan lines all over and have probably gained 10 lbs, but right now I'm happy as can be.

Tuesday, July 13, 2010

Saturday = surfing!

Saturday we went out to Turtle Bay on the north shore for a private surfing lesson. This probably sounds like a great idea to those of you who have not surfed, as it did to me that morning on the drive out. But after two hours of the sea having its way with me, I can safely say it's not the best plan I've ever had. 

Surfing is hard. Like... really hard.

I didn't get any pictures because I was mostly concentrating on not dying, but the memory of our douchey surfer stereotype instructor, "Scotty," will forever be burned into my memory. Along with the image of thousands of gallons of water crashing down onto my face. I actually did stand up twice (before being nearly catapulted to a watery grave) but I was so worn out by the end of the lesson that it took me twenty minutes to paddle myself back to shore. Not my finest moment.

In better news, I finally got to play with some massive sea turtles that were on the shore waiting to greet me. That almost made my defeat sting less.

Since I have nothing to show from Saturday, here are some of my underwater shots from Friday's far more successful snorkeling adventure.
I love that last picture. They put our "slippers" out in a line for us when we came back from snorkeling! The underwater camera didn't work that well, and certainly didn't capture the size and color of the creatures we saw, but I still kind of love these pictures.

Friday = swimming with dolphins!

This goes down as one of the coolest experiences of my life! Ko 'Olina is an insanely beautiful part of Oahu and the crew who took us out on our snorkeling tour was so much fun! From the dock we could see the ship from the upcoming Pirates of the Caribbean movie. They were shooting from Ko 'Olina all weekend. That is Penelope Cruz's ship in the distance beyond my head (you can really see it if you click the second picture), but I can't remember what it's called.
It occurred to me on the ride out that this is probably the farthest I've been out in the ocean... the real, non-Gulf of Mexico ocean anyway. Our captain, Captain Mark, drove us all around searching for dolphins.
On our first stop we got in the water to check out the coral reef and fish, and test our snorkeling skills. It turns out I rule at snorkeling (which basically just means I can swim), so I got to ride on the back of the boat and be one of the first to drop in the water on our other stops. We did two stops with wild spinner dolphins, which are the cutest things in the world. They're hyper little guys who swim in pairs and jump out of the water and spin. We had to float just under the surface of the water and try to be very still so as not to scare them away. In no time we were in the middle of dozens of dolphins swimming all around us! 
At one point we came across what Captain Mark said was the biggest manta ray he'd ever seen, and he let some of us in to snorkel with it. I wish I could explain how huge this thing was. It was probably 10 feet long and when it unfurled it's fins all the way, it was at least as wide as the boat. We did a couple more stops to check out fish and look for turtles (sadly to no avail) and then headed back to shore after a good 3 - 4 hours of snorkeling. They had a lunch of burgers/veggie burgers/hot dogs and fries waiting for us when we got back, and a CD of professional pictures from the tour that I opted not to spend $45 on. I decided to order the two that had me in them and see how my disposable camera did with the rest. I'll get those up soon.
Later that night I got to drink out of a pineapple, so I think it's safe to say Friday was my favorite day in Hawaii so far.

Friday, July 9, 2010

I Am Love

I finally saw I Am Love this week. On paper it's soap opera worthy rich family drama, but on screen it's interesting, complicated and very human. There are no real lose ends and the backstory unfolds subtly, allowing you to continue filling in blanks as your imagination allows, even after the film ends. I found it overwhelmingly sensory-- almost intoxicating -- and loved seeing Tilda Swinton in a joyful, somewhat relatable role. I've been talking about it for three days straight, so I guess you could say I was impressed. It certainly involves its audience. I felt sucked in the entire time, unable to escape even if I wanted to. Though I can't imagine wanting to escape a world so lush, beautiful and full of love.

Has anyone else seen it? 

What did you think?

Thursday, July 8, 2010

EXTREME EXCITEMENT

Best poster ever?
Yes.
Am I right, fellow fangirls?

Wednesday, July 7, 2010

lazy tuesday

a delicious vietnamese lunch meeting full of tofu and veggie pho and good conversation followed by an afternoon relaxing at the beach. perfect.

Monday, July 5, 2010

Happy Pictures from my July 4th

As penance for all of my crankiness as of late.
I can't think of anything more American than eating a giant veggie burger, fries and root beer after stepping out to the patio to watch fireworks.