Sunday, April 14, 2013

Spring Playlist

My darling readers, it is my joyous pleasure to inform you that spring has arrived! Ah yes, it may have gotten off to a chilly start with a few scattered snow showers, but all is forgotten now that the plants are budding green and the birds are coming back from their travels to serenade us. And as the cold gray skies of winter recede into the past, I find myself shrugging off the gloominess and depression that I have carried with me and starting to be interested in more creative pursuits and optimistic thinking. And of course, my favorite part of spring is that I'm sailing again! I could care less that my fingers come dangerously close to frostbite on a daily basis and that my shins look like eggplants from being knocked around so much, because I'm on the water and there's salt on my skin and wind in my hair and I couldn't be happier. And the soundtrack to the new season unfolding around me has so far been a fair quantity of, for lack of a better term, hipster music, but hey it makes me happy. 

Jerk it Out by The Caesars

Mansard Roof by Vampire Weekend
The amount of preppy is almost too much to handle...

Chelsea Dagger by The Fratellis

Sitting, Waiting, Wishing by Jack Johnson
He melts me inside.

Ain't No Rest For The Wicked by Cage The Elephant
Listen to the lyrics.

Daylight by Matt and Kim

Walcott by Vampire Weekend

What You Know by Two Door Cinema Club

Campus by Vampire Weekend

Sleepyhead by Passion Pit

The names to many more of my favorite songs are eluding me so when I remember them there will probably be a second installment of my spring playlist. 

xx, Skye

Saturday, April 6, 2013

On Niagara Falls and Inanimate Objects-- "Wonderfalls" Review

I think I need to start by supplying a bit of a road map, so let's go back in time a bit. A few months ago, I decided to get back in touch with some old friends, so I called them up and proposed going to the newly released Breaking Dawn Part 2. The only other movie from this franchise I had seen was the first one, which, to put it eloquently, sucked, so I only chose this because I didn't feel like seeing an action movie or a horror. I didn't have very high expectations for the movie, and as it turned out rightly so, but either way it didn't matter because as I previously stated I was with my friends so it was more of a "drool over the hot guys" night. The group quickly divided into Team Jacob and Team Edward, but being the little rebel I am I loudly declared that the hottest guy in the franchise was the "grungy one with the eyebrows!" Which led me to Google him. Which led me to the Lee Pace tumblr tag. Which led to an unhealthy amount of fangirling, and creeping, and stalking, which led me to Pushing Daisies, in which Lee Pace starred. Pushing Daisies was directed by Bryan Fuller, and was prematurely taken off the air, but I fell in love and re-watched far too many episodes. But soon I got curious, so I Googled Bryan Fuller (Google is my best friend), and it turned out he had directed Dead Like Me as well as Wonderfalls. I realized I had watched Dead Like Me before, and I ended up not liking it due solely to the fact that the main character's face annoyed me ( a problem I did not have in Pushing Daisies). So that left Wonderfalls. All I need to say is that I marathonned the whole thing in one weekend.

They are quirky.
They are cute. 
They are really strange(and slightly offensive?) at times.
They are perfect.

But honestly, he has a very distinct aesthetic that I haven't really seen in anything else. Wonderfalls took place in Niagara Falls--like who sets a show there-- and follows the adventures...misadventures... of a young twenty-something Brown University graduate named Jaye. Jaye is the youngest of three siblings, and although she went to Brown and has a philosophy degree, she lives in a trailer park and works in a gift shop, and is devoted to getting away with being as lazy as she can possibly be. The quirk in the series is that inanimate objects begin talking to her, telling her to do things without explanation. Creepy, right? Except it's Bryan Fuller so, no, it's simply imaginative and cute. And all these objects have great little personalities, they become characters in the show. In any case, the things that they are telling Jaye to do seem to not make sense throughout the episode, but end up leading her to do good. 

I really loved the characters in this show, especially Jaye(Caroline Dhavernas). Possibly because I can connect with her about a lot of things.
1.) She is the youngest child. She has two older siblings, both leading very successful lives, and feels like she doesn't compare to them, so decides to go in a different direction altogether. I think she said it best in the show when she stated that everyone in her family works hard and is stressed out and is unsatisfied with their lives, so she can be unsatisfied with her life without working at all. She makes a point of not going for a very good job or leading a "successful" life, but just taking it as it comes, and trying to get by and enjoy herself, which is an attitude I can identify with.
2.) She's not a big fan of people. She's combative and doesn't make an effort to get people to like her, and she only has a couple of close friends. She's not distinctly spiteful, though. She's not going to spend any effort or energy being nice or mean to people.
I think that it's really great the way that the main character is a very strong girl, and not concocted to be especially palatable. She's not really someone that you would want to be friends with, but she's very much an individual and not any kind of stereo-typical tv personality. I think that people can connect with her so much for that reason; she's very real, and that includes the good and bad parts of being a real person. 

I'd just like to give a shout-out to the character of Sharon Tyler, Jaye's sister. She's the oldest of the siblings, and has seemingly got her life together, being an accomplished lawyer. The dynamic between her and Jaye was very believable as sisters; they have a lot of petty conflict and fight, but you can tell that Sharon is always there for Jaye and cares about her very much. Something that took me by surprise in the first episode is that you find out that Sharon is a lesbian, and I think for this Bryan Fuller deserves a round of applause, especially for the way he weaved it into the plot. When I watched this show I only came to realize that I've never really watched anything where a lesbian was a central character. It seems that the television industry has accepted and marketed gay guys recently, but lesbians have been exceedingly elusive in TV, and when they are there the point of their character is to be "the lesbian". In this show, Sharon was just a rounded out character, and being lesbian was a part of that character, but not focused on overly much. I think it was a really bold move. 
Side note about Sharon: She is ALWAYS eating. I liked that about her, because I think we all know that person (if we aren't one ourselves) that walks into a house and busies themselves with finding something to eat, and just likes to snack a lot. The thing though, is that they didn't focus on that. Sharon wasn't fat, and I'd be halfway through a scene before realizing that Sharon had been eating through the whole thing. It was a little perfect.

He actually didn't have a very big part but I feel as though I need to address it's Lee Pace.
And also, I can't even believe the Lee Pace fandom on Tumblr, because I looked up Wonderfalls and I would have to say about 80% of the material was Lee Pace (from his like 20 minutes in the show MY GOD)
In any case, Lee Pace played Aaron Tyler, Jaye's brother, and the middle child. Aaron studied comparative religion and was working on his dissertation for his doctorate. Or something like that. I felt like Aaron Tyler was a weaker character than most in the show. He played parts in the plot that needed to be played, but his character didn't really stand on it's own as much as the rest of the family. I did like that Bryan Fuller had him studying religion, though- it was a theme that was constantly underlying the show. Were these talking objects that were making Jaye do benevolent acts the voice of God, or something like that? Aaron was the character that was asking that question, and it was never answered, which I don't mind. It's for you to think about, and Bryan Fuller isn't advocating for religion. I think that the show actually came out with an agnostic vibe. You just got the feel that there was good in the universe, and everything would work itself out in the end.

PS-- My two cents on the Majandra and Aaron romance. Majandra(Mahandra?) was Jaye's best friend, and like a part of Jaye's family. She got together with Aaron later in the series AND I DID NOT LIKE IT. I DID NOT LIKE IT ONE BIT. It was just too convenient and it happened too suddenly; I felt like it didn't have a very strong basis. And also Lee Pace is mine.

The romance between Jaye and Eric in this show was so sweet. Eric had come to Niagara on his honeymoon, but had caught his wife cheating on him and refused to go back home with her, instead becoming a bartender and living in the back of the bar. I liked that his character was really sweet and sensitive, and obviously had problems that he was struggling to work out for himself. He and Jaye became friends quickly, and stayed that way for most of the series. *Everyone knows relationships built on friendships are the best ones* 


Oh my god I can't stop listening to it....

In conclusion I really loved this show, and I would give it 4 stars. It was extremely original in it's plot and characters, and although out there it was very easy to connect to and get involved in. Sadly there were only thirteen episodes due to the fact that it got cancelled only a couple episodes in, and the rest of the episodes were released on DVD. It wrapped up well, though, and the ending was satisfying and the perfect end to the series. Definitely a must-watch!

Tuesday, April 2, 2013

Reading Anti-Theistic Documents and Being Sick.

I have had an exceedingly philosophical day. I woke up this morning with a severe head cold and sore throat, and after a half-hearted argument for going to school, I was convinced to go back to sleep. Three hours later I awoke with a strong urge to ponder the universe and all it's mysteries. So I grabbed some mint-chocolate chip ice cream, swathed myself in a forest-green comforter, and proceeded to pour over my collection of religion and philosophy books. I started with 30- Second Philosophies by Barry Loewer.

I would most definitely recommend this book to anyone hungry for some food for thought. The title is slightly misleading, considering that the book is less philosophy and more some of the thoughts that make up philosophies: little tidbits of ideas for you to consider and perhaps decide to pursue further with other books. However, the text is succinct and to the point, with an abundance of examples to elucidate the sometimes abstract points it's making. Each philosophy has a long paragraph explaining the ideas, a "three-second thrash" which summarizes in a sentence what the page is about, and a "three-minute thought" that poses some questions to consider and approaches the philosophy from a critical standpoint. I wasn't in love with the art in the book, but the actual content was good, covering ideas from metaphysics to mathematical paradoxes to the human nature. With philosophical warm-up, I then tackled Sam Harris's book/ long essay Letter To a Christian Nation, which I spent the remainder of my day reading. 

I'd like to start by ascertaining that I consider myself to be agnostic. I don't follow any faith or religion, but I like to consider religions and the idea that there is something more there, and I am a certified philoceraptor. So I approached Sam Harris's book with an open mind, not prepared to scorn it or totally accept it. In Letter To A Christian Nation, Harris writes to his reader, a stereotypical Christian in modern-day America. He spends the book dissecting religion, poking holes in all the arguments put forth on behalf of Christianity in society. Harris has a very defined point of view; he believes that religion has no place in the modern world and that it is time for society to move on from it; worshiping is an antiquated practice. The arguments made in the book were solid, and pointed out the flaws that no one ever really talks about. It was an eye-opener, and I would definitely recommend it to people of all religions as well as atheists.

My only problem with this work, however, was just how certain the author was in his argument. He was very no-nonsense, and very extreme in his view as an atheist. He didn't leave any room for doubt, it was either take it or leave it with his ideas in the book. Every argument made by religion he smacked down with facts and percentages and assertive statements. I loved the book, and I think it's a good jumping-off point to form your own ideas about what he is saying, so I personally agreed with him but would add to his argument that there is always room in people's minds for philosophy and the consideration of ideas; while I believe that religion as it stands now is harmful to society and horribly twisted and corrupt in some cases, I don't think it is necessary to shut down faith. People should always be asking questions, including the question of is there is some kind of spiritual world out there, or some kind of something more. I think in some respects complete atheism is bad in that it's just another way of not thinking about ideas. 

Whether or not you are religious to any extent, I think that reading books like this can only be good for you, because it strengthens your own thoughts and arguments to hear those of other people. This was a short little book, and I read it in a few hours, so I would definitely put it on my must-read list, and I know that I'll be revisiting it in the future.

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