Monday, January 31, 2011

Ecstasy of Gold

After watching The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, I've decided that A. Westerns are officially awesome, an opinion that has been coming on strong for several months now, and B. that it is one incredible movie. The scenery, the camera shots, the craft, everything was top notch. But here's the thing--it had the potential to be just an average movie. I mean, it would still be interesting, but there are two reasons and two reasons alone that The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly has risen to the status of iconic film: Clint Eastwood and Ennio Morricone.

As the Man With No Name, Clint Eastwood becomes the stuff of legend. Also WOW. Excuse me while I exhibit that I am, indeed, a girl, and say check him out.

He's perfection. Tall, lanky, with a dreamy squint in his eye, a scruffy face that's tested by time, and an oh-so-mysterious demeanor? Yes please. But on a more serious note, Clint completely embodies the Man With No Name. He plays pitch perfect, allowing expression and silence to create a character more compelling than any monologue-spouting Shakespearean. And know I say that as a card carrying Shakespeare lover. That's how serious I am about him. Without Clint's strong presence and mellowly golden voice (I just had to add that), this movie would be far less compelling. But once again, that's just my opinion.

What can't be disputed is Ennio Morricone's brilliant, and it's so true I'll state it again, brilliant score. Fun fact: the first ten minutes of the movie contain absolutely no dialogue. Also, no Clint Eastwood. It relies solely on Morricone's music to create an atmosphere, and create one it does. From the classic hyena mimicking theme to the rush of the finale, every song contributes to a desolate landscape, a world filled with morally gray characters we can't help but identify with and love. Morricone makes this more than a movie. He makes it an epic.

You know, I think that Clint describes it best. When describing why the Western genre is appealing, he states: "Westerns. A period gone by, the pioneer, the loner operating by himself, without benefit of society. It usually has something to do with some sort of vengeance; he takes care of the vengeance himself, doesn't call the police. Like Robin Hood. It's the last masculine frontier. Romantic myth. I guess, though it's hard to think about anything romantic today. In a Western you can think, Jesus, there was a time when man was alone, on horseback, out there where man hasn't spoiled the land yet."

So watch Westerns. Remember when life was technically simpler, but more full of potential. Identify with pure humanity, as you watch a race of creatures that struggled, that worked, and that succeeded. Try to find those values worth fighting for in your own life.

Or, if not that, at least enjoy some great scenery and crazy cool shoot-outs. Mexican stand-offs, here I come.

Friday, January 28, 2011

This is for a class. Please don't read, it's very boring.

Casual Friday

Yep, it's a Friday again. How can you tell? By the simple fact that I have obviously been completely worn down from the week, mountains of papers and reading and the Italian class of death grinding me down into a sad little used eraser nub.

Because of that, today's outfit is all about one thing COMFORT.
Jeans: Anchor Blue, $25
Shirt: F21, $7
Sweater: ??
Belt: DI, $4
Shoes: Board of Provo, $35
Bracelet: Grandma's

Please ignore my face, I have no idea what is going on right there. Same goes for the hair. Also, I just noticed that the color of my T-shirt fits with that whole eraser imagery I had going on in the beginning. That's pretty nifty.

Quick rant on the shirt: I usually am not a fan of words or images on shirts, unless they are connected with a band I am devoted to. Which actually sums up a good fourth of my wardrobe. I would like to state here that I have no strong feelings of either love or hate for Harvard. However, I do have to say that this particular shirt is made out of some crazy magically soft material that feels like little baby rabbits on my skin. That was a disturbing image, but all that is to say: this shirt feels soft. And I like that.

Just found out what the shirts is-- a cotton-poly blend. That's fairly interesting.

Friday, January 14, 2011

Word Rant, Pt. 1

I have a feeling this is going to be an ongoing series, so welcome to the very first installment of Word Rant (copyright pending/nonexistent). Basically, it's exactly what it sounds like--a segment where I quickly vent about words that are driving me crazy. Today's offender?


Attention all: This is not a word. Not even a little bit. This is a sad and annoying attempt to make an adorable activity out of the reality that you need cheap clothes and are spending hours sifting through layers of dust and rags. Either that, or a method of asserting your authority and irksome hipness, since you are cool enough to possess whatever strange "talent" or "gift" comes with driving to your local DI or Savers.

That sounded bitter. I didn't mean that. In all honesty, I do admire people who can find cute and wearable clothing at thrift stores. I've experienced that once or twice, and it does feel good. To those of you who have the vision to do that often and consistently, Mazel Tov. I salute you. But for sweet Pete's sake, when someone asks where you got that stylish belt, don't square your shoulders, stick up your nose, and say "it's thrifted." Say "I got it at [fill in the blank]." It's simpler, and makes me want to punch you in the face WAY less.

But back to the initial issue. "Thrifted" is not a word. "Thrift" in itself is not a verb. It's a noun, as it represents a quality, the quality to be prudent with money. In that wise, it is possible for a person to be "thrifty" or to "have thrift." But one cannot "thrift" something. It's not an action. I repeat, thrift is not a verb. Please adjust your vocabulary accordingly.

On a different, non-rant related note, I finally had a breakthrough on the guitar. I figured out 96% of the chords in Jenny and Johnny's cover of "Love Hurts."

Fun Fact: I was at that concert. Actually, whoever shot that must have been standing pretty dang close to me, because I was right up at the front. What do you expect? My desire to marry Jenny Lewis is well advertised. I love her. And this concert was incredible.

Anyway, I finally feel like I've earned the right to say that I play a pretty mean, mediocre guitar. Which completely beats what I used to say: that I was constantly trying and failing at playing the guitar. Good times. This experience came with another bonus--it allowed me to listen to "Love Hurts" ad nauseum without anyone having to ask if I was depressed or in deep mourning. Win for me!

Also, I say that I learned 96% because I still don't have the chords for the first two lines of the bridge. Once it gets to A I'm all good, but before that it's all guesswork. Point? If any skilled musicians read my blog, now is the time to show yourself.

In closing, I got new shoes. What a great day.

PS: The winner of the bromance poll has been determined. The overwhelming victors? Turk and JD, with Shawn and Gus as a close second. What a tight race! Thanks to everyone who participated.

Sunday, January 2, 2011

Growing Up

So, what I've learned in 2010.... oh what's that? You thought you were going to be spared the New Year's retrospective because this thing wasn't titled "My 2010: A Year in Review"? Well too bad suckas! Here it is.

2010 was the best year of my life.

2010 was the worst year of my life.

Both of these statements are true.

This year brought a lot of new revelations for me. I had to work through things, figure stuff out, and face a whole slew of decisions I thought I had a much longer time to make. This was the year that forced me to accept reality, to deal with the future—with what I want and who I want to be. Those are some pretty big judgment calls, and to have to confront them all was daunting.

In short, too much of this year was spent in struggle. I struggled for four months with the roommate from Hell, learning what it was like to actually hate another person (which, by the way, proved that Star Wars is right—hate is the absolute worst emotion, and dealing with it is impossibly hard. It's difficult to feel happiness or hope when hate is trying to pervade every aspect of life). I struggled with my schooling, starting a downward slide this summer that culminated in the past four months, where my faith in education and love for learning has been shaken. I suffered the ever pervasive relationship issues, not just with romantic partners, but with building friendships and even interacting with my family. I struggled with facing my parent's mortality, manifest when my dad had a stroke not too long ago. I struggled with having to leave a job I had worked at for two years, a job where I was comfortable, safe and secure.

All this was heaped on top of the multiple identity crises I was having with more and more frequency throughout the year. In this sense, 2010 was the Year of Self-Doubt. But then, we continue to look at my title. I had to grow up this year. I had to accept that adulthood was fast approaching, and I must either deal with it or perish. So I sucked it up, came to terms with my fading youth, and moved forward.

It's odd to be so young, yet so old. Live in Provo and you'll know what I'm talking about. What a magical land Provo is, where a unmarried 22 year old with her Bachelor's degree is an anomaly.

But at this crucial time, I take solace in the mighty words of Oasis. "Don't Look Back in Anger." I won't, Noah and Liam. I promise.

Because you know what? 2010 was incredible. Last year I:

-Watched the X-Files.
-Finally embraced the phenomenons that are Jones soda and Cafe Rio.
-Caught a catfish, using shrimp and WD-40.
-Took some lovely walks in the rain.
-Had the best time at Lagoon ever.
-Found an awesome tree behind some office buildings in Provo.
-Longboarded down Provo Canyon.
-Bid a fond farewell to Lost. I may have cried, but only a little.
-Read The English Patient, and fell in love with beautiful writing.
-Passed my last general (Physical Science), and only went to class twice. Subsequently, I was able to enjoy my summer.
-Finally admitted that Ben Gibbard is a talented man.
-Went on a fantastic road trip to San Diego, where I attended Comic-Con. It was one of the best experiences of my life.
-Taught multicultural high school students a class on how to pass the ACT reading test.
-Ate hot dogs roasted over a fire.
-Watched nineties comfort movies projected on the back of a house.
-Sat in a hammock.
-Went camping by Utah Lake.
-Moved into an apartment with delightful roommates, all of whom are attractive.
-Bought the first season of Community.
-Read Chuck Klosterman. Gained a new hero.
-Played Werewolf.
-Debated the best Hostess treat.
-Saw some amazing movies. My favorites? Scott Pilgrim vs. the World, True Grit, the Social Network, Easy A, and Inception.
-And finally, saw SO MANY CONCERTS. It was the best year ever, concert wise. This was my favorite activity this year. I got a full range of musical styles, venues, and experiences. God bless music, because it saved my sanity. And God bless Sir Paul McCartney. Here's the list (as far as I can remember), with my very favorites bolded. All of these were good (with the exception of MGMT), but some just rocked my world.

Cat's Concert Countdown, 2010
-The Vibrant Sound (2) -Can't Stop Won't Stop
-Vampire Weekend
-Isaac Russell (2)
-The Black Keys
-Imogen Heap
-Portugal. the Man.
Modest Mouse
-Big Boi
-The Indecision (2)
-Temper Trap
-Ben Folds
-Ghost in a Jar (3?)
-The Utah Symphony presents the music of Led Zeppelin
-Colin Hay
-She & Him
-Mates of State
-Jenny and Johnny
-Seve vs Evan
-Imagine Dragons
-Fictionist (2)
-Joshua James (2)
-Sufjan Stevens

So there you have it. Cat's year in a nutshell. It was awesome and terrible, which is really all you can say about life in general. It's all about having a positive outlook that will balance those two traits. Incidentally, that's my goal this year. I want to look at life with optimism and hope, to find things to love about it. I've cherished a cynical persona, but I'm an idealist at heart and it's alright for me to let that show. Contrary to popular opinion, intellect does not equal cynicism. In fact, when it comes to people I truly admire, they are usually the ones who have risen above the world with unfailing love. I want to emulate that.

I think Conan O'Brien said it best: "
All I ask of you is one thing: please don’t be cynical. I hate cynicism — it’s my least favorite quality and it doesn’t lead anywhere. Nobody in life gets exactly what they thought they were going to get. But if you work really hard, and you’re kind, amazing things will happen."

Let's allow this New Year to be full of love. Life is good. This world is beautiful. And this year will be amazing.