Monday, April 30, 2012


Today in my teenage angst, I post a public service announcement promoting reading. You know, Raise a Reader and all that. Just kidding. Let it not be assumed that I have missed the irony in posting a written piece on the benefits of reading. BUT! There is a difference in reading the odd article and/or blog post and reading books. The difference, I propose is that a lot of articles involve pictures and are on the internet and are thus connected to many other distracting and interesting things. Books, when not viewed on internet connecting devices, offer the opportunity for a healthy measure of escapism. I'm not generally one to promote escapism to anyone but myself, but our society's tendency to live in any world but the depressing one we live in, leads me to understand its necessity and instead of avoiding it, promote it in its healthiest fashion.

Beyond it's healthy measure of escapism, reading promotes several measures of cognitive development including language production and comprehension. As such! The psychological benefits alone make it worth while. Still it's hard to appreciate those for all they are. Reading is kind of like exercise. It's hard to appreciate the benefits because discovering the benefits takes time and effort. Lucky for you, I am here to get you started and physicality doesn't play a part in this at all.

Avoidance excuse #1: I don't read because I don't have the time.
Well sure you don't. No one does. The thing is to find and/or make time. I read right before bed. It helps me fall asleep like nobody's business and even reading just 20 pages at a time helps me get through a significant measure of books. Other places that are prime for reading include the bathroom (because we all know it's not always a thirty second trip), the bathtub (because who just likes to soak?), the bus, the doctor's office, the dentist's office, the optometrist's office, and/or any other place you might have to wait. Undoing my previous statement, you have the time. You just have to find it.

Avoidance excuse #2: I don't read because I don't know what I like.
This is the part that takes effort. Finding the time is on par with finding what you like. So my advice is to try everything! If you think you might like celebrity bios, try one. If you think you might like real crime, borrow one. If you think you might like kids books, grab one from your little sister, or child, or cousin. Try everything. Everyone says stupid things like, never give up on books you start, and what's the point of starting it if you're not going to finish. But the reality is that there is a lot of crap published and a lot of those covers are really pretty. We are easily swayed. As such, you might end up starting crap, but please hear me when I say, you don't have to finish crap. 

Resulting benefits of reading: 
- It's something lazy that's not watching TV.
- It can help with insomnia. I add the qualifier of 'can' because I dont' want to project that I have the cure for insomnia. I do not. Though I can help with that too if you want.
- It increases your database of useless knowledge.
- It ALSO expands your ability to build meaningless analogies. 

So there you go. The following are my recommendations to start you off. OH, right, my final encouragement is to read off the page, because if you're going to fully escape into literature you have to do it away from the internet. The internet is not our escapist friend. 

For Celebrity Bio: Bossypants, written by Tina Fey

For Fiction: Come Thou Tortoise, written by Jessica Grant

For Real Crime: A Stolen Life, written by Jaycee Duggard

For Youth Fiction: The Fault In Our Stars, written by John Green

For Juvenile Fiction: Ender's Game, written by Orson Scott Card

Go now. Read well. Venture into the cosmic realm of goodness that is the publishing world.

Saturday, April 28, 2012


Today in my teenage angst, we advance the current trend by a few years.

This is Tavi Gevinson. You probably know her from her blog Style Rookie as well as her online magazine for teens Rookie Mag. Over the past four years - btw she just turned 16 five days ago - she's been developing this online world that advocates deep thought and forward movement in and for teens. I've never heard someone so young, who is as articulate and intelligent as Tavi. I love her, not only for who she is, but what she represents; the power of teens to speak for change and actually make it.

This is a seven minute talk she did at the TedxTeen seminars. I think she's amazing. I'm turning 25 this year and while I don't currently have the mobility that she does, she inspires me to keep working toward it. To keep working toward a serious ability to speak for and make change. As she addresses identity as so difficulty developed in today's North American culture, listen for the truth she brings and advocates.

Friday, April 27, 2012

Alec Greven.

Today in my teenage angst, I continue my current trend. Kids are the best and the best they shall stay. This video instills that reality. I don't know who gave this kid a primer on Erikson's stages of child and adolescent development as well as emotional intelligence, but he's using it for several points of good.

I love him. Let's love him together. 

Thursday, April 26, 2012

Fun with Photoshop.

Today in my teenage angst, I continue my love for children. My sister frequently comes across these articles that are too much for words. In this particular article, an overly creative photographer dad had some fun with his daughters. The following is the evidence of that fun. I so wish.
Couldn't you just die. I died. Again. I so wish. 

Saturday, April 21, 2012

Caine's Arcade.

Today in my teenage angst, I died. Not really. Which you all believed. Jk. Okay for real.

I saw this video that my aunt had posted and my supreme love for children and belief in their extreme importance was sincerely validated. I also love the man who made this video because he too understands the importance of children, fostering a healthy development and validating their intelligence, however they choose to show it.

Friday, April 20, 2012

Fun with Felix.

Today in my teenage angst I let you in on a little fun I've been having with a boy I'm falling in love with.

Remember Lowana? Well we have a standing date these days on Mondays to go grocery shopping and run some general errands. The thing is, toddlers are taxing. That's a truth. And while Felix is the bestest, it's hard to do everything that needs to get done and making sure Felix is staying the bestest.

All of what follows is the product of one outing. Best.
No good.
Dang zoom.
Food is so good.
And solves every problem.

Friday, April 6, 2012


Today in my teenage angst, I'm reading Slaughterhouse-Five and trying to figure out why people hate it so much. It's just a simple story about an awkward guy who joins the army and time travels a little. I'm really rather enjoying it.

This is the thing with American classics. I've stated before that I'm unabashedly not a classics reader. I appreciate their place in literary history and assure myself that if I was required to read them - for a class - I could. But I'm sorry, Dickens and Austen and James just do not catch my interest and/or write in a method that keeps my attention. Movie versions? Yes please.

American classics, though, are different. I read Gatsby and Catcher in the Rye last semester and loved them. They were, to use my latest literary adjectival verb, devoured in every spare moment. Thus I figured, Slaughterhouse would likely be the same. The difference with American classics is that while they've made strides in American literary development, they're relatively new; because America is relatively new. Slaughterhouse, for instance, was published in 1969. So it goes. Because of this, then, they speak a language through which we connect, identify, and grow. I'm certain that my fight to get through Anna Karenina wouldn't be accomplishing that.

So I'm trying to figure out why people have it so much. And then I read this. And then I thought back to the fundamental-conservatist time of it's publishing and said "oohh."

"So Rosewater told him. It was The Gospel from Outer Space, by Kilgore Trout. It was about a                  visitor from outer space, shaped very much like a Tralfmadorian, by the way. The visitor from outer space made a serious study of Christianity, to learn, if he could, why Christians found it so easy to be cruel. He concluded that at least part of the trouble was slipshod storytelling in the New Testament. He supposed that the intent of the Gospels was to teach people, among other things, to be merciful, even to the lowest of the low. 
But the Gospels actually taught this:
             Before you kill somebody, make absolutely sure he isn't well connected. So it goes."

I feel like this passage poses some pretty fair questions. The history of Christianity shows some pretty cruel tendencies. Why, in light of this, does Christianity claim goodness above all else? The passage then goes on to describe the irony of the Passion; which is plentiful. 

I appreciate the ability of authors to speak to things like the Bible without hesitation and furthermore, to address them in a creative, thought provoking way. I'm only half way through the book, but I really do anticipate so much more thought invoking goodness throughout the rest. 

A recommended read? Definitely. 

Tuesday, April 3, 2012


Today in my teenage angst, I was better. I didn't scream or avoid, but rather buckled down and committed to my responsibilities. I did pretty well I'd say. It helped that a friend told me that her method of getting things done is to pretend that she's a government agent and that getting whatever assignment done is in everyone's best interest because millions of lives hang in the balance. She became an even greater hero to me today.

Also, last night I was having a much needed conversation with my friend, also named Hannah, who is a poet. She's really into Tennyson at the moment and was shared with me something she had written recently. And by recently I mean yesterday. So it's hot off the presses, to borrow the colloquialism. She's also nice enough to let me, in turn, share it with you.


Tennyson asks what of the sky tonight.
I tell him that there is none behind the tight-
_Shut curtain. 
He misbelieves the worth of presence 
_Like the stars that flee 
_And tears for dazzling light make me more certain.

The Tenth put out down the red-lined mount,
Heraldry clapping, and the battalion shout 
_Fells Adiona.
To fault not one in facing charge and 
_End effacing me
_I stand a friend without and trembling go on.

The rush! the blaze!
_How beasts of triumph scorn
_The only limb that would so freely from itself be torn.
Avast! belay! 
_Though lovely not nor dear
_What pithy sighs are drawn for her who vanquished lies now here. 

Write I low, “If ye would speak of hope,
Be ye fain, or otherwise as sadly, oh! 
_Be true to truth.”
This mirrored land would take from my heart
_Water, sky, and tree.
_Would also dole not take all life from youth? 

Easily he lays to rest which fear
Would in disquietness find heart pale, my ear
_The slain one. 
For now as will be and the start was 
_She affects all free 
_Impurity none near. “Shut!” laughs Tennyson.

Oh give! oh give!
_No leech daughters are we
_Who find that in the keeping men are not really set free.
Soft still the glow!
_The wonder never breaks
_How a light so given thus can receive what never takes.

“Draw back the curtain, then!” 
_Does Tennyson.

She's very wise, you see. Oh and seventeen. I wish I'd been like her when I was seventeen.

Monday, April 2, 2012


Today, I let out a blood curdling scream of teenage angst.

I am fifteen days from freedom. Fifteen days of trying to force my brain into submission and a willingness to process information I just don't really care about. So as I sat in my living room this morning thinking about what was waiting for me, I let it out.

Then my friend Lowana came into town and saved me. Let this be a lesson. There is always a way to get out of what you have to do but can't stand to follow through on.

On another note, Janelle and I are almost done with Buffy and I can't say we're sad to have her almost out of our lives. Season 6 was truly terrible. We're taking a breath before tackling Season 7. This picture was found via goggle images, obviously and I'd just like to note Spike's less than terrified face all the way at the back. I'd also like to question why Willow's dress is cut so low; and why Buffy looks like that at all.

Sunday, April 1, 2012

The Hunger Games: a book and movie review.

Today in my teenage angst, I am not okay.

I went to the Hunger Games tonight. That about sums it all up. I jest; but only sort of.

I started reading the first book on New Year's Eve. I finished it twenty-six hours later. When I wasn't reading it, I was thinking about it and worrying about the characters. My heart hurt at the idea of such an abhorrent measure of injustice. I read the second book within a week of the first after having to wait for it to come in the Library. That too I devoured in less than forty-eight hours. After finishing it, my anxiety over the state of the world of Panem was higher than I had experienced in a while. I had to go online and read the synopsis of the third book.

Right in line with my experience of the books, my anxiety leading up to the movie was high. I had this sense of foreboding dread following me around all day. This sense was instilled by a fight with my sister, several imaginary conversations and the redoing of my hair seven times. By the time I got home from work, I was in a frenzy. My adrenaline was high, I hardly sat to eat dinner. I started connecting everything I did with District 12 and the Capitol. I called Shaina to talk about how anxious I was and greeted her for the second time that day with "Happy Hunger Games." She wasn't the only one. Then, finally, it was time.

We were an hour early. This would have been appropriate a week ago; aka, opening weekend. While our theatre was full, being that early was simply unnecessary. Then it started. I brought with me a full box of kleenex because I assured myself that that too was necessary.
Shaina blessed us all by dressing up a little as Effie.

Here's my deal. These are amazing stories. They are outrageously well written and the characters are well conceptualized and developed. They are perfectly paced; just so they never move too fast, but you also never want to stop reading. And that's a literal statement. But we need to understand something about the world the Suzanne Collins has created for her readers. But first please understand that I'm not sure if this was her original intention. I am however, willing to take it that way.

The world of Panem is a Dystopian one. This stands as the direct antithesis of a Utopian or perfect society. It is the personification of a completely unjust and immoral world. It represents an severe imbalance of wealth, health and freedom. It is wrong. This isn't the way it was meant to be. And we get that.

The Hunger Games, as is explained early in the novel, the retribution for revolt. Because they turned against their leaders, 23 of their young die, every year, forever. We see them accept this so called game as a part of their existence. By the time we get there, it's been going on for nearly three quarters of a century. We see parts of them not only accept it but prepare for it; career for it.

The thing that I think we don't understand or at least readily see in this text, is the warning involved. Dystopian societies, as awful as they seem, readily exist, all over the world. Syria, Egypt, Libya, just to name a few. These books give us a glimpse into life like that. It is awful. It is unjust. It is nauseating and we are not far from it.

The thing that I want us to take away from this is that it's not like Harry Potter. It's not a fantastical world where good and evil exist and battle and it's always clear who is going to win, no matter how increasingly powerful the evil seems to become. It's not clear. It's a life dominated by fear and injustice and peace is not easily created or found. I want us to admit that this is real. I want us to admit that our first world reality isn't the norm and actually do something about that.

In other news, I read this quote regarding Jennifer Lawrence's performance. He states that "so much of what the novel expertly examines is the fraught relationship between viewers and the viewed in a world dominated by screens. But in fact I thought the movie did a really good job of this, largely because Jennifer Lawrence’s performance was to my mind so intricate and complex and nuanced and just good." And it's so true. While Josh Hutcherson, Woody Harrelson and every other noteworthy name, carries an exceptional presence, it is Jennifer Lawrence that embodies Katniss' character so completely and made the page come alive on screen; figuratively and literally. 

Tonight in my teenage angst, I'm not okay. I fall asleep with a heavy heart, sad and discouraged because of the reality of this story, though fiction, that cannot be avoided.