Thursday, August 30, 2012

{Round 4} Shuffling through my Social Networks.

My task for this post is to take two social networks, bounce them together, and then assign numerical order to them. Faced with the seemingly polarized worlds of Twitter and blogs, which shall I tackle first: the importance of blogs in a twitter world or the importance of twitter in a blog world?

... Neither. I decided that I view both of these social networks as the austere and verbose ends of the same sparkling spectrum of internet self-expression. And ultimately, I characterize Twitter and blogging as two squabbling kids in the middle of a playground presided over by a much more powerful toddler: Facebook.com.

I'm gonna write something about my year-in, year-out experience with social networks tonday. Because here's the thing: by now they have impacted lives, both mine and yours, in meaningful ways, even though, quixotically, they still seem new enough that any attempt to respond to them and their overall emotional impact on our lives in any way that's not ironic seems ostensibly fun-sucking and way too serious. In fact, I feel like a hyperventilating nerd just for starting this conversation. *pushes glasses back up her nose, undeterred, and digs in*

I realized something last night: I associate Facebook with pain. Yes, that is right, pain. I think you're lying if you say you can't relate to this. I log on not out of joy, but out of routine, even after the many "ouch" moment(s) in the past when that person(s) you spent weeks trying to forget popped up unexpectedly one day on the screen, smiling, happy, and in the company of some never-before-seen LDS dating villain(ess) who proves to be much more cunning and virulent at the game than yourself. (Yay for the improved ability to hide old flames' posts!) And what about the recent "ouchie" sensation of jealousy at seeing the pics of freaking spectacular trips taken by my fun and fancy-free friends (Hope you're all having fun in Florida! Say hi to Romney/Ryan for me!)? And of course, this:








Amen.

I joined Facebook in 2005, back when it was still thefacebook.com. That was a long time ago :) I changed my relationship status a few times since then, exchanged some daring messages, put up some hilarious photos with the besties and untagged myself in a few less-than-flattering-but-still-hilarious pics by others. And tonight, settled in on the couch, tromping through the various articles proffered to me by my interesting array of facebook friends during commercial breaks in So You Think You Can Dance, I realized I have almost totally stopped putting anything of value, of myself, on Facebook. I have stopped playing the game.  Facebook has become for me like the dorms in college: fun while it lasted, but after a few mishaps, fights, and flubs, you are ready to move on.

So where to? I have no definitive answer, although I LOVE twitter and blogging. There, I feel free to publish my thoughts, long or short, to an unknown audience without fear of having my freshman year fremeny's perfect life slingshot immediately back at me in lovely Instagram shades of ombre blue and pink.

Why am I writing all of this? There is a happy point, I promise (and maybe I want to sell a few more of you onto Twitter). No. More important: I write to tell you that my retreat from facebook, the conscious disuse of my voice therein for anything of importance, is in itself a message:

I am more than my page. 

1,000 times more. And so are you. We should get together and figure that out in real time.

PS Though probably not coming close, I was hoping for the tone of this post to be similar to that found in the following trailer, which I'm obsessed with for several reasons, not the least of which is the Imagine Dragons song that closes it out.



Here's something I wrote to Michelle-the Bestie about it a while back:

So, Imagine Dragons' single "It's Time" plays at the end of a trailer which I've now watched like 20 times. My favorite line in the trailer is when Emma Watson is wondering why she and all the people she loves choose people who make them feel like crap, and then the main guy says back to her, "We accept the love we think we deserve." The first time I heard it I thought he said, "We expect the love we think we deserve." and I think both statements are true. I started telling myself this week, "Ok. You have kind of been feeling like crap because you accepted half-hearted attention from ____ and told yourself that's all you wanted. This next time around, you are going to expect and hopefully accept someone who treats you as well as you have always dreamed of." It just makes me feel good to have that kind of goal." 

Real time, flesh-and-blood connections and interactions. Much higher stakes, greater falls, funnier flubs, and happier successes. That's what I'm shooting for. *pushes her glasses back up her nose again and hits "publish," which is probably not the best start*

PPS There are probably thirty or so FB friends on my network who GREATLY enhance my daily learning and enjoyment via their routine curation of links, statii, and videos. These will probably keep me coming back to FB for years to come. Fabulous work, SK, BG, JS, CD, BH, MP, JGE, and also to LA, LC, and AM for your eternally refreshing photographs. (You're just the first ones to come to mind, there are others. I do, after all, have a lot of smart friends :).

(11 of 13. So... close...)

Monday, August 27, 2012

{Round 3} Odds and ends of a Jurassic nature...

Topic: Dinosaur Olympics. Now wouldn't that be a sight to behold? I have in my head the fantastical image of a T-Rex arm-wrestling a stegosaurus, losing, and then biting the stegosaurus in half. I would pay good money to see that!! But I wouldn't want to be the one to give the T-Rex his medal.

r
There is a gold mine of T-Rex related sports memes out there, who knew? Here are a few.
This one^ was my favorite because tetherball defeated me too, many times. I feel your pain, big guy.

Did you know Michael Phelps wrote a book? But not just any book. A DINOSAUR OLYMPIC BOOK. Someone buy me this please:


Per the Amazon summary, here is what we learn from Phelps' book:

A champion at the 2008 Beijing Olympics explains the training schedule that allowed him to accomplish the first-of-its-kind feat of winning eight Olympic gold medals. For example, the author states, "I got so strong from training that my legs could press 300 pounds 60 times in one workout. That's 18,000 pounds total, or nine tons! I could leg-press a Tyrannosaurus Rex and 10 velociraptors!" Providing an overview of an Olympian's rigorous preparations, this picture book may be useful for parents or coaches attempting to inspire children.

I already love Phelps, but creating a child's book to motivate young athletes puts him in the same lovable category as athletes from small countries, i.e. Guor Marial, who requested and was granted approval to run the Olympic marathon without a country. He is from the brand-spanking-newly-created country of South Sudan (which had no Olympic committee) and he refused to run for Sudan. Read this summary of his incredible, determined journey for inspiration. I will definitely dedicate a mile or two of my marathon to him. (Personal update: half-way through marathon training! 148 miles run so far! Definitely feeling it in my feet, they've never been pounded this consistently. Oh, another personal update: school starts tomorrow. LAST SEMESTER OF GRAD SCHOOL. Eep. Wish me luck!)

(9 out of 13. BOOM. These are getting harder. But Jordan, a magnificent and kindly writer himself, deserves after-work dessert, and I need a challenge! To be continued...)

Update: I ran around a few museum websites looking for dinosaurs. I ended up learning a little bit about the history of film! From MOMA's website:

Did you know that the first animated film began as a bet between two newspaper cartoonists? Winsor McCay was inspired to create Gertie the Dinosaur by studying the Apatosaurus at New York City’s American Museum of Natural History. He and his assistant drew ten thousand sketches on rice paper, including backgrounds on every page. It premiered in 1914 in Chicago at a dinner party for McCay and his friends—which was the prize for winning the bet!

Here is the film, a whole 8 minutes long. Adorable. 1915. That was almost 100 years ago. Enjoy watching history:




Thursday, August 9, 2012

{Round 2} People are Crazy/How to Be a Villainess.

God is great, beer is good, and people are crazy.

I LOVE that Billy Currington country song, don't care what anyone says. Although I might sub in "Klondike Bars" for beer. The truthiness of the chorus still hits me forcefully every time: People. Are. Freaking. CRAZY!

Decathletes= CRAZYTOWN.
Ashton Eaton, current WR holder AND an Oregon Ducks runner. Woo!

How many examples have we had lately of people shoving right past the edge of possible into the realm of crazy? Australian eccentric attempting Jurassic Park, USA proving its dominance over the rest of the human race by landing on Mars, and of course, Michael Phelps making 22 Olympic medals look easy. Oh, and the constant rumbling undercurrent of our current and future presidents acting like vengeful cartoon villains on a nation-wide stage (Romney responsible for someone's death? Obama, I hold you in utter contempt).

I kind of want to try on being a vengeful cartoon villian(ess) for a day, see how I fare. Hmm, but what venue? I need a small stage, but one where I could really get dirty... I got it! The Mormon Bachelor! The Olympics of singles ward fishbowl dating games! (7 of 13, to be continued...)


.....................


So I've never actually watched the Mormon Bachelor... do they even HAVE villians? Or is everybody just sweet, good-hearted girls, looking to see if their assortment of quirks correspond to the hero's? That's what I imagine. Even better for me if that is the case. The perfect place for a villainess to make waves!

My hero.
Give me a second to channel the evil powers of my freshman year frenemy and that girl who recently blocked my shot at church. You know who she is. She's in your ward, too, with her stupid laugh and inane conversation topics. Ok. Mormon Villainess mindset perfected.

You can almost hear my evil cackle.
How to be a Mormon Dating Villainess (Note: many of these work equally well for a Mormon Dating Villain)

- Never have any friends of your same gender (unless they are your minions and you send them out to spread malicious rumors).

- Wear the same dress to church that the heroine just bought, but yours is two sizes smaller, tighter, and shorter.

- Answer the door when your roommate has a date. Flatter and flirt with him in the front hall til he can't remember his date's name.

- Upon hearing that someone has had a successful DTR, seduce them into making out with you.

- Conversely, throw a wrench in your current relationship and go make out with someone else. Inform the second party several weeks later that you're kinda sorta almost engaged to someone in Utah/New York/DC 2nd.

-Every boy must take you out somewhere fancy at least 8 times before you let him know it's not going to work out (That is, IF you let him know!).

- Have at least 8 boys cycling through this process at all times.

- Never, ever call back.

- Go out with someone once, inform him suddenly that you're just not feeling it, and make everything AWKWARD!!! EVERY TIME YOU SEE HIM!!! TIL HE MOVES OUT!!!

- Rock out to Glee soundtracks.

- Three words: skimpy. profile. photo.

It's just so cute when they cry!
- Say I love you. Dump him two days later. Take him back. Then do it again! Remember what Bain said: "There can be no true despair without hope."

- Go after the EQP because of all his POWER!

-Dump the sweet EQP and immediately start dating the ward meathead. When asked, assiduously argue that, "He really is nice when you get to know him!"

- Date roommates or best friends at the same time. Get them to duel for you.

- Passive aggression. Employ it in every conversation that don't correspond to your master plan.

- Move into a new ward and steal ALL attention!!

- What's the feminine equivalent of the humblebrag? Oh yea. The complimentfish.

- Testimonies that double as personal advertisements.

- Reveal your beau's very personal secrets or trials to the whole Relief Society!

- When the heroine tells you her Prince Charming finally asked her out, give him a backscratch in church. And your phone number.

- Dump someone at the altar (worth 1,000 Villainess points). 100 extra points if you keep the ring.

-----------------------------------
Any others I might add? And yes, I have actually witnessed every single one of these tactics before (except the altar dumping. PS did you know Neal Maxwell was once left at the altar? I bet she regrets it now!!! I like knowing our apostles were similarly stricken with obnoxious, all-too-human trials a few times in their exemplary lives). Like Billy Currington wisely observed, "People are crazy!"

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

The first installment in a series of answers to a challenge set by a Jordan named Guy...

In one episode of How I Met Your Mother they jibe at each other for having hilarious gaps in their collection of common knowledge: Robin didn't know the North Pole was a real place, Ted had the wrong idea about the pronunciation of the word "chameleon," and Lily never learned how to aim when throwing things. What's yours?

Mine is: I have never seen The Three Amigos. I feel like I miss stuff all the time because of this flaw. That thing you do where you cross your arms over your chests several times and grunt, "Huh!"... it means nothing to me. Is it supposed to be funny or heartwarming when you do that? Never once has it seemed funny to me, especially because I think you're supposed to be wearing a sombrero when you do it. And so, the final analysis is: just don't do it. (1 out of 13, to be continued...)

Tangent: does everyone else know the greatness of Steve Martin's banjo music already, or am I ahead of the curve in loving this?



Tangent to my tangent:

Henry Ossawa Tanner's The Banjo Lesson.



Tanner is an artistic hero of mine. Here's the opening paragraph to a paper I wrote long ago about his paintings, just to give you an idea why he's so cool:


The African-American artist Henry Ossawa Tanner took three things with him as he set out for Paris in 1891: the academic training of Thomas Eakins, his mentor in Philadelphia; a devout belief in Christianity from his father, the passionate Reverend Benjamin Tanner; and a sharp distaste for the status of the art world in America, stemming from the hardships he had endured unfairly as a black artist of talent. Research has generally focused on this last area of intrigue in Henry Tanner’s life. However, in reading the artist’s own reflections on his life and times, I have found his race to be an insufficient place to stop the learning. After all, Tanner himself seemed to find attempts to classify his work for the sake of this group or that group’s ideals extremely upsetting. His is a remarkable story of determination to ignore the many assumptions of others in order to discover and develop a personal, artistic, and moral balance according to his own conscience.

In his years of training at the Academie Julien in Paris, he got his first chance to develop his talents in a culture free from stigma. The neighboring Paris Salon, the ultimate destination for any Parisian art student with talent or ambition, became a great challenge to Tanner. Reflecting back on his first encounter with the Salon art, he said, “[The Salon paintings were] much more to my taste than were the old masters in the Louvre… [The Salon] now furnished a definite impetus to my work in Paris- to be able to make a picture that should be admitted here- could I do it?”

With the goal of getting a picture into the Salon in the back of his mind, Henry Ossawa Tanner gradually abandoned what had been his previous focus, African-American genre paintings. Although he had met with some success in this category—after all, his first accepted painting in the Salon was The Banjo Lesson (1893), which portrays an older black gentleman lovingly teaching a youth to play— it was to be his last major work with such a subject. It was “skied,” or put so high up on the walls that it was barely visible.

After The Banjo Lesson, Tanner pursued the typical French artist’s career trajectory, in pursuit of a more successful form of expression, one that was more to his own liking and one that was more in demand at the Salon. He vacationed at Pont-Aven in the French seaside, where the circle of Gauguin also summered, and he began to cultivate friendships with prominent patrons who encouraged and financed his works, the most influential of these being his friend Rodman Wanamaker. Throughout this time period it is understood that he did not pick up very much from the other teachers and artists that surrounded him. His works are not marked by any permanent change in style, unusual for one located in Paris during Impressionism’s heyday.

Friday, August 3, 2012

This is Spencer.



He is my brother. He followed me out to DC seven months ago. He is one of my best friends. Spencer makes really great funny faces and is one of the best listeners (for a boy) I've ever met. Recently a friend was a little upset upon realizing I was not, in fact, dating this tall blonde guy he'd seen me hanging around with. Meep. This was a funny/weird moment. 99% of the time, as soon as people are told we are siblings, they exclaim, "Oh my gosh! You guys look so much alike!" And yet... 30 seconds ago you assumed we were dating. Weird how that works. Anywho, here is a blog to set the record straight. Spencer is my brother, and he is neat. That is all.

Yesterday he had a bad day so I packed up Cobb and some chicken and veggies and we made lunch in his beautiful skylit house and watched the 'Lympics. And threw a volleyball down the hall about 1,000 times for Cobb to chase. My gosh kids are easily entertained. Cobb adores Spencer, reaches up to hold his finger whenever we're touring around. Today Spencer had another bad day, so he came over to my house... and we watched the 'Lympics. We're really creative in this family, I know. And we're really REALLY good at yelling at the tv.

I've had some requests recently for a renaissance of art posts on my blog, and so ye shall receive. If Spencer were an artwork this is what he'd be:



The Truant, by Roger Randolph (American). SAAM. Marble. 1853.

The reasons why this one popped into my mind are convoluted and personalized, but here's a rough sketch:

1. "The Truant." The kid is skipping school to go skating. Now, Spencer doesn't skate, but once upon a time he used to ditch school often with his band buddies and go ghostriding the van around Summerlin, hurling water cups at passersby. Troublemaker!! Those were his younger, foolish days, though, rest assured...

2. "The Truant" is clearly a thoughtful young man, as evidenced by the careful step the statue takes out onto the ice. Spencer is likewise thoughtful in all his friendships and actions. I like that about him. It's not like he's indecisive (in fact, he RARELY solicits my advice when making decisions, which is annoying, since I frequently hit him up to "translate" boy-speak to me and advise me, and I would love to return the favor). He takes a lot of things into consideration when making a decision and then moves forward, simply, straightforwardly. This is an excellent way to be.

3. Curly nice hair. Spencer has always had GNARLY hair, even when he was a bebe (he is two years my junior, and I still vividly remember baby Spence's tiny, awesome mane). Fro-able, buzz-able, he looks pretty good in all styles. And he's not going bald. Way to be, dude!

4. Whenever I take Cobb to visit SAAM he LOOOOVES to stop and look at this statue. "Baby!" he cries out (Cobb is very attenuated to babies right now). Cobb loves statue, Cobb loves Spencer. That's the end of that nuanced connection.

5. Marble. Aligned with the straighfoward/thoughtful facet of Spencer's personality is a little bit of a hard-nosed, argumentative block of stone. Meaning, once he has thought through an issue or an opinion, there ain't nothing in this universe gonna convince him otherwise. Which can be good, because I like a good intellectual sparring partner, but it definitely has its downsides too (the ongoing stalemate over whether or not girls should be able to buy and enjoy the use of beach cruisers is a perfect example. Don't get him started on this subject. Snooty roadbike guy!).

Spencer asked for a blog about himself today. I realized it was about his turn, having lavished e-praise on mom, dad, Marcus, and Katie already (Marie's day is also yet to come. BUT. It is coming). What else can I say about this young man? I brag about this a lot to friends, but I guess it can go on the interweb as well: Spencer is a FANTASTIC dater, I admire that about him. He sees a girl who seems interesting, chats her up, gets number, takes her out until he or she not longer wants to go out, starts process over again with minimal moping. In our little LDS bubble where dating, marriage, and love remain the ultimate topic of conversation and personal challenge, I like knowing and seeing that my brother has his shiz together. And I like that he's in DC so I can send him gently in the way of all my favorite girls.

Best publishable example of the weird faces o' Spencer.
Spencer lets me take him shopping, and for the most part allows me to dress him (YAY!). Spencer has a rather high-pitched little boy giggle that he lets loose whenever he's talking to people he thinks are SUPER funny. My roomie Kelly and I can really get him going, and it is a GREAT sound.

Spencer gives great hugs and, if you can't tell by now, is a total lover boy who really cares about the people around him. He has this MARVELOUS ability to get people talking about sensitive subjects. I can not do that very well and I admire his magical powers. Spencer has an easy-going, approachable manner that makes everyone around them tell him about their deepest thoughts. He's well suited for the profession he's getting ready for, Industrial Business Psychology (aka therapy for CEO's who don't want to admit they need therapy). I'm so happy to have him around. Thanks for being you, Spence. You rule.