Saturday, April 10, 2010

"The Breakfast Club" never gets old

So I know the deadline for blog posts is technically over, but I have to save this article somehow. I love John Hughes. And I love that so many people tell Ally Sheedy that they were Alison in high school. I was too. Too much eyeliner, antisocial habits and all.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Books books, blah blah blah

Sorry about the sudden outpouring of blog posts. Most of these are all posts I'd written a while ago and saved as drafts. Must stop procrastinating...

Anyway, we mentioned Thomas Hardy last class period, and it totally reminded me of first reading "Tess of the D'urbervilles". It was one of those books that totally floored me. I think I was 16 or 17 when I read it. Anyway, in honor of Thomas Hardy, here's a list of books that I believe have either deeply affected me or have led to my development as the twisted, backwards creature I am today ;P
Besides, we're all book lovers here, right? Hopefully this won't be too dull then.

1-"The Lorax"by Dr. Seuss. I think I read it in 2nd grade. I was floored that a children's book could be so... bleak. It's made me kind of a tree hugger/mistruster of consumerism ever since.

2-"Where the Wild Things Are"/"In The Night Kitchen"/"Peter Rabbit" and anything by Beatrix Potter-- I think I came out of the womb reading these books. I've always loved children's literature because of them. I also loved that Sendak was never imposingly moral in any of his books. Kids hate that anyway. Anything by Roald Dahl (especially "Matilda") falls into this category as well.

3-"The Giver"- I read this in 6th grade and was very, very bothered. I couldn't believe that a dystopian society like this could even be imagined. I think this book started my love for books like "The Handmaid's Tale" ,"1984" and "The Stepford Wives" as well as this suspicion of overly cheery authority figures... I dislike politicians...

4- "To Kill a Mockingbird"- Read in 5th grade I think. The first "grown-up" book I read. I was touched and traumatized by how beautiful and sad this book was. I also learned that rape, racism and just plain vindictiveness were real things. (5th grade was a weird year...) It also made me see how important and powerful love was, pure and simple. I think this might have been the first book that made me cry.

5- "Dracula"/"The Portrait of Dorian Grey"/"Jane Eyre"/"Wuthering Heights" -- I think I read these all in 9th or 10th grade. I loved them immediately. This was when I first discovered that I was a romanticist at heart. I think these books, oddly enough, got me to loosen up a bit and really enjoy life for the first time in several years. There was something strange and adventurous about them that acted as a sort of epiphany for me; like I suddenly realized that I could find happiness in strange things, if that makes sense. I don't know why I suddenly felt that way, but I did. It was a good year.

6- "Cat on a Hot Tin Roof"- I watched the movie first, but hey, plays are meant to be watched anyway. I had never been so heartbroken by any characters before this. Especially Maggie. Oh, Maggie. I still get all

7- "Hamlet"-- I read this my senior year in high school and I ate it up. The drama! The murderous villain Claudio! The wickedly witty Prince Hamlet! The crazy, heart-broken Ophelia! I swear, this is Shakespeare's most entertaining play. I still can't get enough of it.

8- "Tess of the D'urbervilles"/"Jude the Obscure"-- My 12th grade English teacher recommended these to me. Ugh, I was so upset by all of the injustices, I actually threw "Tess" across the room. "Jude" I had to stop reading and go for a nice walk to calm myself down-- that one was more disturbing than infuriating.

9- "The Catcher in the Rye"/"Franny and Zooey"/"A Perfect Day for Bananafish"-- I'd never been interested in Salinger until I was 18. It was a lonely Saturday night, I was hating my freshman year at BYU and didn't want to be around anybody. I picked up "Catcher" at the bookstore on a whim. five or six pages into it and I was in love. I think I'm always going to be a little bit in love.

There are about a million more... I'll have to continue this another day... when all of our blog posts aren't due...

Wednesday, April 7, 2010

Fantastic C.S. Lewis quotes

"Don't use words too big for the subject. Don't say "infinitely" when you mean "very"; otherwise you'll have no word left when you want to talk about something really infinite."

"Aim at heaven and you will get earth thrown in. Aim at earth and you get neither."

"Even in literature and art, no man who bothers about originality will ever be original: whereas if you simply try to tell the truth (without caring twopence how often it has been told before) you will, nine times out of ten, become original without ever having noticed it."

"Friendship is unnecessary, like philosophy, like art... It has no survival value; rather it is one of those things that give value to survival."

"If you look for truth, you may find comfort in the end; if you look for comfort you will not get either comfort or truth only soft soap and wishful thinking to begin, and in the end, despair."

"It may be hard for an egg to turn into a bird: it would be a jolly sight harder for it to learn to fly while remaining an egg. We are like eggs at present. And you cannot go on indefinitely being just an ordinary, decent egg. We must be hatched or go bad."

"Literature adds to reality, it does not simply describe it. It enriches the necessary competencies that daily life requires and provides; and in this respect, it irrigates the deserts that our lives have already become."

"No one ever told me that grief felt so like fear."

"The real problem is not why some pious, humble, believing people suffer, but why some do not."

"What seem our worst prayers may really be, in God's eyes, our best. Those, I mean, which are least supported by devotional feeling. For these may come from a deeper level than feeling. God sometimes seems to speak to us most intimately when he catches us, as it were, off our guard."

More about that whiney jerk named Holden...

Here's a video of this guy discussing "Catcher". I know this book has been beaten to the ground as far as discussions go, but I think he (whoever he is -- some nerdy vlogger) does it more effectively than most people I've heard. It's in two parts. If you like it, you can search for the other part on youtube. I don't think I'm ever going to get over this book. Or Holden. I hope it never becomes a movie.

Life Story

I love this poem so much, I can't keep it to myself:

"Life Story"


After you've been to bed together for the first time,
without the advantage or disadvantage of any prior acquaintance,
the other party very often says to you,
Tell me about yourself, I want to know all about you,
what's your story? And you think maybe they really and truly do

sincerely want to know your life story, and so you light up
a cigarette and begin to tell it to them, the two of you
lying together in completely relaxed positions
like a pair of rag dolls a bored child dropped on a bed.

You tell them your story, or as much of your story
as time or a fair degree of prudence allows, and they say,
Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh,
each time a little more faintly, until the oh
is just an audible breath, and then of course

there's some interruption. Slow room service comes up
with a bowl of melting ice cubes, or one of you rises to pee
and gaze at himself with the mild astonishment in the bathroom mirror.
And then, the first thing you know, before you've had time
to pick up where you left off with your enthralling life story,
they're telling you their life story, exactly as they'd intended to all along,

and you're saying, Oh, oh, oh, oh, oh,
each time a little more faintly, the vowel at last becoming
no more than an audible sigh,
as the elevator, halfway down the corridor and a turn to the left,
draws one last, long, deep breath of exhaustion
and stops breathing forever. Then?

Well, one of you falls asleep
and the other one does likewise with a lighted cigarette in his mouth,
and that's how people burn to death in hotel rooms.

Thoughts About "Night"

Reading "Night" was... an experience. I tried reading it between my classes, but I always had to stop as I'd start crying. I had to wonder, what kind of a person would I be like in this horrid world? Eliezer was so kind and patient with his father... at least, up until the end when he does nothing to prevent that guard from beating him in the head. I can hardly blame Eliezer for anything... but what would I have done? Everything inside of me screams that I would clearly have attacked the guard, or anyone else that moved to hurt someone I care about... but would I really? Unless you were actually there, it's hard to say. It's pretty naive to assume that your most heroic side would come out in such a hellish place. But I still wonder.

And what about that poor old man that was killed by the other ravenous victims? All because they wanted his bread ration. Would I have been one of them? Driven stupid and desperate by hunger? I have to say, though, I'm proud of Eliezer for not joining in on that.

And what about all of those poems we read about Peter? Would I have denied Christ? I'd like to think never in a million years... but like I said before, how could one really know? And of course he chose to deny Christ, what with free agency and all... but he was warned about it beforehand...? I've always struggled with this concept. This and the Adam and Eve thing. They had to eat the fruit to leave the garden, yet it was technically a sin...? But it was a wonderful choice as they could now experience joy and have children...

Ack. I almost hope I never have to be faced with a situation like that. Of course, I'm sure life only gets harder and more complicated (and more competitive in my line of work. :/) as time goes on...

Do thoughts like this ever plague anyone else?

Were you sad when Beth died in "Little Women"? I was :(

So, today in my ENG 336 class, we were discussing "The Things They Carried" (a very good, but very sad sorta-memoir about Vietnam) and our professor asked the question, "How does writing serve as an escape?" It's a pretty straightforward question, one that makes me think of that "We read to know we are not alone"-type English major sentiment...
I read and write (very shoddily) as a form of therapy-- I invent other people and give them problems that they usually solve in one way or another. Sometimes it helps me solve my own issues, sometimes not. Either way, it's comforting somehow, to feel like I have control.

However, we went on to discuss how writing about horrible, violent, or otherwise tragic events is another form of coping. In "The Things They Carried", the protagonist is never responsible for actually killing any innocent victims. Yet, he goes through great pains to show that he didn't do anything to prevent some from being killed. In this way, he argues, he is now a killer. He makes the scene more awful than it actually was, to live with this weird guilt. So when his daughter asks him honestly if he ever killed anyone, he says he can honestly answer both "yes" and "no".

How complex is that?

It makes me think of something read about Stephen King's "Salem's Lot". In the book, there's a scene where this little boy wanders onto a busy road and gets killed by an oncoming truck. :( In real life, Stephen King had a similar encounter with his own son, but he was able to pull him out of the way the last second. Apparently, he was so disturbed my his son's almost-death that he had to write about the worst possible outcome of the event to get over it.

This seems morbid... but maybe this is why Thomas Hardy wrote the tragic things he wrote. Or why Poe wrote what he wrote, or why Shakespeare wrote things like "Othello" or "King Lear".

I feel like a majority of the best books I read are all... sad. I mean, there's always "Little Women" or "Twelfth Night" or whatever (then again, Beth dies. Who wasn't traumatized by that at age 10???) ... but really. I guess that's what makes them so beautiful too.

Why is that? Why is tragedy so memorable and beautiful?

Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Art Hurts My Head

I'm so confused right now. All last week I felt I'd had a fairly good grasp on art. Now it's morphed into something large and messy and totally suffocating. Ugh, is there never any respite from this stupid "what is art?" debate?

I just watched a few segments of this TV program about beauty in art. I was excited when I came across it, thinking that the host would give me some great insight into the creative process. But about twenty minutes into it, I was livid. This guy, (can't remember his name-- I hope I never do, he made me so angry), is the most narrow-minded, uppity bore I've ever heard! I just couldn't stand him!

Basically, the program was an hour of him whining about how all art after Duchamp's "Fountain", (that urinal created in 1917) was "ugly", useless and a total waste of time. I agreed with his theory that a large amount of art in the 20th and 21st centuries was unnecessarily over the top. I've never been a fan of those weird, naked performance art pieces from the 70's with chicken blood and all that. I tend to think any piece that is created purely for shock value is a waste and a bore (and is very unoriginal at this point in the history of the world). Yet discounting everything that might just happen to be a little shocking as garbage is just as narrow-minded, isn't it?

I think what enraged me was his dismissal of everything that wasn't totally pristine. He focused on the Italian Renaissace, (which is valuable and beautiful in its own right) and classic Greek architecture (very important as well), but totally ignored the Impressionist and Post-Impressionist movements, and everything that came after. Why? Because their subject matter was too ordinary.

Nobody was painted idealistically during this movement. Nobody was very "pretty". The revolutionary thing about the impressionists was that they made the ordinary beautiful. They focused on light, color, composition and brushwork as it could be applied to their everyday lives. I always loved that idea. As beautiful as Neoclassical/Rococco/any other 18th or 17th century movements can be, it was catered to a very narrow audience. Only the nobles were allowed to enjoy all of this beauty. This host also failed to mention the fact that most of the "beautiful architecture" he was gushing about was built by slaves or lower class individuals who didn't get to live anywhere near it. And he didn't even mention South American, African, Asian, or any other kind of art outside the obvious classical European art.

I'm just upset that he was so hell-bent on showing the world how useless all art after 1917 was. Really dude?

I wanted to smack him in the head with a copy of "Franny and Zooey".

What about Andrew Wyeth? Or Ben Shahn? Maurice Sendak? Winsor McCay? Frida Khalo? Diego Rivera? Rothko? Frank Lloyd Wright? Kathe Kollwitz? And why just stop at visual arts? What about all of the fantastic poetry, film, other literature, music, etc. that's been produced within the last 100 years? Has this man never even read a word of Maya Angelou or read Cisnero's "The House on Mango Street"? Or what about "Le Petitie Prince"? There's still so much beauty to be found in art these days that I never know where to start. And what about self-expression??? Not all art can appease the golden mean when conveying sincere emotion! And if all art never evolved from the Renaissance or made any progress, what would that say about the world?

And yet, I can still understand what he means when he moans about the state of the world. I think he's a tasteless dope, but it is a shame that a lot of the good things in this world get overshadowed by selfishness, consumerism, war, poverty, etc. But still, this mortal coil's not totally hopeless, is it?

I guess my question is this: how does one attain that balance? Like how do you create art that you feel is sincere, beautiful and accessible to humanity without being uppity/exclusive/narrow? Or without being so bent on coming across as "shocking" or "cutting edge" that you lose all humanity?

And then there's this other quote that always worries me (I don't remember where I heard it): "Don't be so open-minded that your brain falls out". How can one prevent that? How do you become a filter, not a sponge?

This is my major question for conference. Honestly, the only living people that never fail to bring me some clarity in this life are the general authorities.

I think the most important thing I've learned in my brief twenty-one years on this planet is that I really don't know that much about anything. There's so much I have yet to understand.

Monday, March 29, 2010


I think some people are doomed to be restless souls forever. My dad is one of them. He's always been the quiet sort. Never really socializing at (or even showing up to) social events. He's the sort that says a few polite words, smiles a weirdly uneasy smile, then retreats back to his "bat-cave". This den of his is decked out with maps of south america, a dart board with and shelves of CDs that I was very fond of stealing at fifteen.

Sometimes, when I listen through the walls of my old room, I can still hear him pull a tune from his his acoustic guitar. It's always the same several notes, skipping up and down the strings with a skilled aimlessness. It's like what I do when I can't pay attention in class and begin drawing flowery shapes in the margins of my notebook; it's nothing spectacular, but it hints at something large and impatient shuffling around in our brains.

Mom tells me I'm my father's daughter. I think this is why we get along so well-- she knows how to put up with our type.

I forgot how restless I really was until this last sunday. After church, I slipped into my car before anyone could bombard me with visiting teaching, invitations to those fhe academy-awards that every ward seems to love, and all that Holy-Joe nonsense. I pulled out of the parking lot as discreetly as I could, careful not to drive by the apartments that were in my ward, and drove through Provo canyon. I followed the roads that looked the most familiar to me, and wound my way through Heber, Park City and back again.

I finally wandered in the door at around 9. My roommate, sprawled out on the couch in pajamas, demanded to know where I'd been.

"Oh," I replied, shrugging a little. "Out". I didn't realize until later that this minimalist response is something my dad does all the time.

I don't know why I'm writing about this. And in a blog too... Well, there you have it.

Saturday, February 20, 2010

Mr. Hughes and his mismatched shoes

I went on a Langston Hughes rampage after class this last thursday. Here are two that I love. So short and so sweet.

"Quiet Girl"

I would liken you
To a night without stars
Were it not for your eyes.
I would liken you
To a sleep without dreams
Were it not for your songs.

"Bad Morning"

Here I sit
With my shoes mismated.
I's frustrated!

Latest Song Obsessions and other things

Just because I'm in love with lists...

"Tap at my Window" - Laura Marling
"Beat Your Heart Out" - The Distillers
"A Kiss to Build a Dream On" - Louis Armstrong
"Selfish Jean" - Travis
"River Man" - Nick Drake
"Same Old Drag" - The Apples in Stereo
"Heroes and Villains" - The Beach Boys
"Stars" - Alison Krauss and Union Station
"Hero" - The Asteroids Galaxy Tour
"Sascha" - Jolie Holland
"Peachy" - Missy Higgins
"Telephone" - Lady Gaga
"All My Loving" - The Beatles
"Let's get out of this country" - Camera Obscura

Latest Obsessions in General:

The Olympics. I love the snowboarding events. And Evan Lysacek.
Arthur Rackham's "Alice" Illustrations (see above image)
Laura Marling
Pedro Almodovar films
Francesca Lia Block's books
"Fantastic Mr. Fox" (Looooooove!)
Strawberry Banana smoothies
Peanut Butter

Just because I'm on a huge Laura marling kick... here's the video for "New Romantic" (Sorry if anyone's offended by the minor expletive. Or general, erm, moodiness. I think it's lovely.)

Laura Marling - New Romantic Video by Laura Marling - MySpace Video

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Anxieties and Demetri Martin

I was going to quit blogging. I'm still pretty uncomfortable about it all. I even asked Prof. Steadman if I could just write in a journal instead. She kindly agreed.

But then I felt guilty. I remember others in the class expressing discomfort with the blog idea. I mean, if they have to suffer through it, shouldn't I? Anyway, I think this might be an odd sort of therapy for me. I've always struggled with social anxieties/depression to a certain degree. It's nothing crippling (and I tend to snap at anybody that gives me the "poor baby" treatment, fyi), but it fosters a fear that prevents me from "reaching my full potential". (This is therapy-speak. I'm fairly certain normal people don't talk like this. :P )

When I do something I'm enthusiastic about, (writing, painting, sketching, etc.) I tend to put my whole heart and soul on the line. I can't help it. I feel like anything less is too much of a lie. So I guess writing about poetry (a subject I adore) makes me feel nervous and exposed.

But this last month I've learned that many people are really quite kind when you let them in. Or maybe I've just been lucky.
Whatever the reason, I'm giving it another go.

I apologize if this was too much drama for anyone reading this. In an attempt to lighten the mood, here is some Travis/Demetri Martin goodness.

Monday, February 8, 2010

Clementines and "Pleasantness"

Yikes. I went back and re-read my last blog post.
Do I really sound like that?
I was having a dreadful week, but still. That's not really an excuse for being so unpleasant/obnoxious. Does anyone else feel that way? Like when you watch home-movies of yourself or read something you wrote years ago and think "Oh gross... that can't be me..."

Anyway, I've deleted the previous post out of embarrassment. I'll re-post my poetry analysis sometime later this week... and I promise it will be both shorter and slightly more pleasant. Slightly.

Really though, isn't pleasantness highly subjective? I've never felt very akin to that particular word. Or "nice". That one eludes me as well. Still, I'm sure there's a better version of myself out there. I hope she's more verbally articulate. And has better hair.

I think I might combine this blog with my illustration one as well... just because my old one is largely more neglected than this one. :/ Expect to see more sketches like the above one in the future. Especially of clementines and other fruit. I've had a weird clementine fetish lately.

Wednesday, January 20, 2010

Semi-hesitant Official Blog Post #1

I'm reading Moby Dick right now. Apparently, it's one of the most hated classics in the English language. I can see why... that one chapter about the importance of Sperm-Wale-oil was less than riveting. But still. I'm loving the language and the dark humor. It's making me want to drop everything and run away to a beach. Not the warm, post-card-friendly beaches of Hawaii or California (though those are lovely too), but the rockier, colder beaches of the Pacific Northwest. I have a weird fixation with this area, especially the Oregon coast. I don't really know why. I'm not from there or anything and I've only been twice. It's just so wonderful to me. I watched The Goonies the other night just because they filmed it in Astoria and Cannon Beach. And, y'know, because of Chunk. Who doesn't love the "truffle shuffle"? Seriously.

I'm still apprehensive (and a little embarrassed that people are actually reading this...), but I'm starting to understand the appeal of blogging. I stumbled upon the amazing, Brooklyn-based illustrator Jillian Tamaki's "sketchblog" and am now resolved to make my own blog(s) more ...interesting. Maybe not today... but I will get down to the nitty-gritty eventually. My life's pretty weird... I'm sure I could include a few semi-humorous stories.
In the meantime, here is a list of songs I've been enjoying within the last week or two (I am list-happy. Run away now):

"Go Places" - The New Pornographers
"French Navy" - Camera Obscura
"All the Pretty Girls" - Fun.
"Dog Problems" - The Format
"Where is my Mind?" - Pixies
"Portland is Leaving" - Rocky Votolato
"Seventeen" - Marina and the Diamonds
"Dog Days are Over" - Florence and the Machine
"22" - Lily Allen
"The Wrong Girl" - Missy Higgins
"Bad Romance" - Lady Gaga (Don't judge.)
"Waltz" - Fiona Apple
"Lessons Learned" - Matt and Kim
"Happy Kid" - Nada Surf
"Watching the Planets" - The Flaming Lips
I also just re-discovered my old Smashing Pumpkins CDs. Such fond memories. :)

Thursday, January 14, 2010

Obligatory introductory post

I don't really like blogs. There's something kind of dull and narcissistic about the whole thing to me. A journal I can understand. It's something you keep away from this dreadful and all consuming internet culture, privy to only a few lucky losers. And journals have pages. Pretty, papery, crisp little pages (I go a little crazy over paper...) that you can crinkle and tear and spill things on, etc.

Still, if I'm serious about this whole illustration deal (and about getting a good grade for this class), blogging is "essential". I'll probably warm up to it as soon as I get going... and I will also try to be less, um, negative in my posts.

In the meantime, I need a better title. Hah! Another reason why physical journals are better: they require no craptastic titles.