Apparently the new LEGO movie is spectacular and a definite must-see. If you’re like me, midterms are currently running your life. Thus making it rather difficult to actually go see a movie and enjoy yourself.
If you’re like me, you spend a lot of time procrastinating on YouTube instead of actually writing the assignments you should be writing and studying the subjects you should be studying.
Basically, what I’m about to share with you is a combination of me wanting to relive my childhood (it included a lot of LEGO building) and a little taste of the music I enjoy.
The people who created these clips, or rather “recreated” these music videos are people I would like to meet! And also, people I currently envy for the amount of time they have on their hands.
The Beatles – I Saw Her Standing There
Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody
Michael Jackson – Beat It
The Who-My Generation
Which one is your favourite?!
Kids are always doing amazing things. Be it spewing truth, wisdom, and talent from their ears, or just experiencing the little things in life with the intense passion that we sometimes forget. I could probably list thousands of different things we’ve seen or heard kids do to better the world, make people smile, or just because they really want to and truly believe that they can (But I’ve only got 4). I think that it’s really important to acknowledge stuff like this, not necessarily because they’re young, but for reasons including (but not limited to) because they put in the work to do what they do, and because of how they react to the moments and sensations they experience in such a way – whether that be like an adult or like a child. On top of that, it definitely does a lot in the way of restoring a little faith in the future of mankind.
So, this week, I came across a variety of videos from across the web including that of adorable 15 month old Kayden experiencing rain for the first time that warmed my heart enough to boil an egg to perfection:
12-year-old Adora Svitak’s TED talk ‘What adults can learn from kids’:
A very inspiring, and very adorable message from none other than Kid President:
And finally, fifteen-year-old Russian Yulia Lipnitskaya’s gold-medal-winning routine at this year’s Winter Olympics:
They’re out there, and they’re amazing for doing the incredible things that they do no matter how big or small they may seem to some. It all makes me miss being a kid; but even more than that, it makes me really want to push myself to retain apart the essence of childhood as I grow older. I want growing up to be fun. I want to work past the stifling limitations that seem to develop with adulthood to do what I want and to retain the drive to do it well. I want to shake things up, and still be rockin’ it at 90 while embarrassing my grandchildren with my tech savvy and narcissistically looking back at all of my innovative contributions to the world; most of which would probably be largely attributed to my non-adult thinking (if I ever transcend stagnation and achieve that level).
It’s definitely a more pastoral way of looking at things (It’s a toddler screaming in the rain, how is that inspiring or thought-provoking?), but I think that it’s important for us to not write off people’s actions, insights, opinions and experiences because their teeth are still coming in or – on the other side of the spectrum - falling out. I really don’t like hearing the dismissal in ‘you’ll understand it when you’re older’ or, ‘you’re just a kid’. Both things may be true, but that by no account means that the things I do, see, or feel, are of lesser (or more, for that matter) weight to the universe.
Sorry, rant over.
My point is: kids are doing incredible, remarkable things, and it should neither be discredited because they’re younger, nor hyperbolized because they’re younger. They simply do things, and we ought to acknowledge and celebrate these super cool things they do when they happen without ruining it for them or anybody else (which is hard for us, I know).
They are not currently suffering from a deficit of some unknown element that they develop as they age and mature. They are not wines that need to be stored in a barrel for 20-30 years. They are the ones that can (probably, and hopefully) better humanity.
And even if they can’t prove that now, they will.
Now, I am one of the millions of people that will tune into the Superbowl every year. It is not that I care particularly for either team or have any real investment in the outcome – but it is a tradition. Missing the Superbowl would just feel wrong. Well, unfortunately for the viewing public a lot of things just felt wrong about the 2014 game. While the game was a huge disappointment for many hoping for a close battle and incredible display of skill, we all had one thing to look forward to: the hilarious commercials that normally accompany the biggest game of the year. I wouldn’t say I have high expectations when it comes to these things but I tune in for the entertainment. This year, however, it seems like the entire telecast was a disappointment. The ads were a little lacklustre to me. In any case, there were a few gems that you should see if you haven’t already.
Yes, the highlights featured animals of the adorable and terrifying variety. In case you want to catch some of the other noteworthy commercials, here are some runner-ups:
Happy end of January! Despite the fact that December 21st is the shortest day of the year here in Canada, for me it always feels like the end of January is actually the coldest, most bitter, never ending part of the winter. I think it’s partly that in December there are holidays and the chance to be free from school for a while looming, and in January, once you pass New Year’s, the only holiday you have to look forward to is Valentine’s Day, and that is like a month away! (And to be honest I don’t count binge eating chocolates, and binge watching the new season of House of Cards on Netflix as a holiday. Although I’m sure you all have much more exciting plans than me! J)
Anyways, I usually spend this part of the year cuddled up on my couch, and avoiding winter. However, this year my friends got me to go out skating again, and I actually really liked it! That got me thinking about all the winter stuff I used to do as a kid: Skiing, Snowman Building, Cross Country skiing, Snowshoeing, Dogsledding (okay, that one is made up!). So this year I have promised myself that I am going to get outside more this winter, and not spend all of February inside waiting for the spring thaw. Instead I’m going to go out and have fun this winter, snow pants and all.
So brave Albertans, I promise (Okay, I hope!) that winter will be over soon, but nothing we do will make it go any faster, so while we wait for Spring to return, get out there and enjoy the rest of this winter.
Not that I have anything against -20°C or snow or ice, but it’s weeks like this where the travel bug strikes hard. How can I endure the cold when places like this exist?
But, like I said, I’ve got nothing against the cold. This winter, my desire to travel was amped up by The Secret Life of Walter Mitty, filmed in Iceland, no less. There are now direct flights between Edmonton and Reykjavik, making the temptation to jet off to somewhere like this is even greater.
I would pick up and leave Mitty-style, but I don’t think that would do my transcript any favours. In the meantime, there’s nothing to stop me from daydreaming Mitty-style. Especially when the Internet is chalk full of interesting resources for the amateur globetrotter. Like this site that catalogues countries which allow Canadians to apply for a Travel/Work Visa–handy if you want to work to fund your travels!
Currently, I’ve got my eye on Scotland. Castles, lochs, rolling hills, bagpipes…
…One day we will be united! Until then Google searches will have to suffice.
I don’t usually like music covers. More often than not, they are just a very bad rendition of what was a really good song. However, I also think that some gifted artists are capable of borrowing a fellow musician’s work and adding a refreshing take to it, distancing themselves from what the original song was about and creating a completely independent work of art with new meanings. With that in mind, here is a list of my all-time favorite covers that brings five (seven, actually) artists that, in my opinion, created something that was as good as - or even better than – the original .
(The videos are of questionable quality, but the songs are worth it).
- Strange – Patsy Cline/Alex Turner
This cover was never meant to be a serious one, so usually only people with too much time on their hands and free access to YouTube find them (ahem). It was taken from a radio interview – that’s why the ending is weird – but it is a pleasant surprise for Arctic Monkeys fans and shows that their front man, Alex Turner, apparently has a thing for ladies from the 50’s (see Diamonds Are Forever).
- Ellie Goulding and Erik Hassle – Be Mine (Robyn cover)
Robyn’s fans know her songs always have strong pop elements, sometimes even bordering electronic music. Ellie Goulding and Erik Hassle, however, turn “Be Mine” into an acoustic ballad and, because it is a duet, the lyrics become a dialogue between two ex-lovers, even though when sung by Robyn it was supposed to be a one person’s lament over a lost love.
- Renato Russo – Cherish (Madonna Cover)
Another example of a pop song turned acoustic – with the exception that Robyn rules and Madonna…not so much. It might seem weird that the lyrics were kept unchanged even though they refer to a man, but the CD to which the song belongs to pays homage to the Stonewall riots (The Stonewall Celebration Concert and highly recommended), therefore, it is a celebration of the gay community.
- Damien Rice & Lisa Hannigan – Don’t Explain (Billie Holliday cover)
Hands down, this is the best one on the list. Not only is the music for this version infinitely sadder than the original one – work of Herbie Hancock –, putting the suffering of the artist under a new light, they also made slight changes in the lyrics. So, for instance, instead of “You know that I love you, and that love endures”, they sing “You know that I love you, and what love endures”, which changes the original message of the song, making this cover a gift for those who appreciate word play and the subtlety of language.
- La Vie en Rose – Edith Piaf/Emilie Simon
Edith Piaf is absolutely legendary, and her song La Vie En Rose became and universal anthem of love – recorded by Louis Armstrong, no less! But Emilie Simon – this adorable French singer – did a very good job with the song, taking the timeless lyrics and putting it into a more modern and candid melody.
The Bechdel Test
So, the other day I was browsing through the internet doing nothing in particular when I came across something I hadn’t heard of before: the concept of “The Bechdel test.” A bit of googling and some Wikipedia reading later, I was intrigued.
For those of you that don’t know, the Bechdel test is basically a set of criteria that can be applied to a movie/show. For it to “pass” the Bechdel test, a movie must feature two named women who talk to each other about something other than a man. Should be simple right? I mean, we live in a world with billions of named women talking to each other every day about a myriad of topics. Shouldn’t be too difficult to recreate on the movie screen.
But after a little thinking, and some more internet perusal, I started to realize the shockingly large number of movies that failed to pass this test. Even looking at the 2013 Oscar nominees, the number of movies that manage to pass is shockingly as low as three!
Now, I think it’s important to make something clear here: a single movie passing the Bechdel test does not make it a good movie, or even a “feminist” movie. It just means that two women talk to each other about something other than a man. The important implications of the Bechdel test come from when you look at a bigger picture.
The test originated in 1985 from Allison Bechdel’s comic strip Dykes to Watch Out For. Its purpose has become one of evaluating the overarching presence of women in fiction. While over the past few decades we’ve seen great progress in putting women into strong, leading roles, the sheer number of movies that still fail the Bechdel test has some frightening implications as to women’s role in popular culture.
It’s somewhat shocking to look at some of the biggest movie series (Harry Potter, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars) and examine how women are portrayed in these. Now these are all examples of films that do feature women, often in strong roles. (Let’s be honest, who didn’t love seeing Eowyn be the one to kill the Witch King of Angmar?) However, when I look at the grand scale I can’t help but shudder a little at the fact that women keep being forced into a few select roles – originally the love interest and the mother figure, and now perhaps “that one badass female on the side”. I am happy to see the emergence of this new role, as it definitely indicates progress, but it seems apparent that there’s still a lot of development that needs to happen to level the playing field for men and women in Hollywood. It’s still rare to see a movie where multiple women are advancing the plot forward without fitting into one of the aforementioned “roles”.
Don’t get me wrong, it’s not like every single movie ever has failed the Bechdel test/marginalizes women in every way shape and form. There are movies and shows that pass the test with flying colors: The Hunger Games, Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Mean Girls, and Stick it are among my favorites (See, clearly Bechdel test is not the do-all, end-all for quality craftsmanship in movies). Yet, after seeing how many movies fail to meet what should be fairly simple standards, I can’t help but question what kind of underlying stereotypes are underlying the pop culture we submerse ourselves in, without us even realizing it.
For a comprehensive list of popular movies and how they did on the Bechdel test, check out http://bechdeltest.com/.
Now hear me out, I haven’t gone completely insane! Basically what a reverse pick-pocketer does is make someone’s day without getting caught. Let me explain…
We have all heard the saying “It is better to give than to receive” right? Well sometimes I think to myself, I actually really enjoy receiving $20 bills to go spend frivolously on candy and food (my true loves). But that hasn’t happened to me in a very long time so I don’t think I can properly justify that anymore.
When I think of why I enjoy giving gifts to friends/family/randoms, I think a part of me really loves seeing the joy on the recipients face and being thanked for the kind gesture. For the past few years what I’ve enjoyed more is the gesture of giving and not receiving the credit. You may be asking yourself “ Mira, why on earth would you do such a thing? How will people know just how amazing you are if you don’t get credit?!” Well it’s quite simple my friends, humility goes a long way. Not to go all philosophical/cheesy but I’m a firm believer in Karma and I really think that doing simple acts out of the kindness of your heart will benefit you in the long run, even if the immediate outcomes do not.
To be clear, the acts that I’m referring to are not always extravagant, in fact, they usually aren’t (let’s get real, I’m a broke university student…). What I personally like doing is stashing a $5, $10, $20 dollar bill in the glove compartment of whichever friend is giving me a ride without them noticing. Hooray for ninja abilities. The “victim” of this reverse pick pocketing is 9 out of 10 times elated (I made that statistic up) and their mood changes very quickly to one of some form of happiness. Think about, don’t you love finding even a toonie on the ground?
Now here are a few simple steps to become ninja reverse pickpocketers yourselves:
step 1: Pull out the biggest bill in your wallet
step 2: (optional) You can stash the cash in an envelope and label it with something clever
step 3: Slip the loot into the bag of a stranger and if you’re feeling bold, aim for the back pocket!
step 4: DON’T GET CAUGHT.
And there you have it folks. Generosity comes in many different forms, but being a reverse pickpocketer is [probably] the best kind.
Finally, I wish I could take all the credit for this fantastic idea, but I was inspired by SoulPancake. If you are unfamiliar with that “movement” , please please PLEASE familiarize yourselves now! Here is a little taste of happiness that comes from SoulPancake.
If you haven’t been exposed to it already (lucky you!) The Game: Penetrating the Secret Society of Pick-Up Artists is a work of non-fiction by author Neil Strauss. This book highlights the authors navigation of the–apparently super secret–’seduction’ community. As Wikipedia explains, the seduction community is a “self help movement of men, primarily communicating on the Internet, who strive for better sexual success/access with women.” Individuals who identify with this community often refer to themselves as Pick-Up Artists and share various ‘tricks of the trade’ with one another in the hopes of successfully sleeping with women.
Recently, blogger Ken Hoinsky endeavoured to create a new book entitled Above The Game: The Guide to Getting Awesome With Women (a project that was, as of yesterday, successfully funded by Kickstarter). Hoinsky’s book has recently gotten a lot of attention because some of the advice he intends to include in the yet-to-be-published-work is, how do you say, questionable…If you want to read more about the debate around the book, I would suggest reading Alex Hern’s article for The NewStatesman entitled “The ‘Manual for Sexual Assault’ Author Defends His Book” (be aware that the article contains some inappropriate language!).
I recognize that some of you may be thinking: “what’s wrong with learning how to [insert modern date lingo] the opposite sex?” First of all, although I haven’t been there in years, I still distinctly remember High School and all of the accompanying pressure to date and have sex, not to mention all of the hormones that often silenced the more rational parts of the teenage brain. So I get it, being with someone can sometimes feel like the most important thing in the world and anything that claims to make that easier can’t be such a bad thing, right?
Ummmm, not so much.
Let me give you some words of wisdom: dating and relationships are hard. Anything that claims to make that ‘easier’ is full of [explicit] and is generally missing the entire point. Here’s an exercise I want you to try: take a moment and think about yourself. I know we’re taught not to do that, but give it a try. Think about aaaaaallll of the incredible complexities of your being; all of the competing values we have and actions we take. Think about how complicated (and wonderful!) you are. Now step out of that self-focused place and think about all of those amazing complexities in another person. Then just imagine putting those two people into an intimate scenario where they need to navigate not only their own complicated emotions and desires, but those of someone else as well. I don’t know about you, but that doesn’t sound like something that could ever be particularly ‘easy,’ especially considering I have a hard enough time figuring out what I want and need (e.g. I’ve been doing yoga every day for a month and then last night I devoured an entire pizza, some ice cream, and a bowl of popcorn for dinner…).
Now that we’ve addressed Problem #1 with the whole ‘seducer’ movement, let’s move on to something that is much more problematic: thoughts like those that fuel the seducer movement promote sexual violence and contribute to our rape-prone culture.
As I explained in a rather irate Facebook response to some troll after posting the article from The NewStatesman that I mention above, the issue with the sentiments put forth by people like Mr. Hoinsky do not lie with any specific excerpt from any specific text, it is with the entire train of thought behind the “seducer” movement. These are sentiments that not only make me sick, but also frighten me as a female-identified individual. The mere notion that someone has the right to disregard my body language and other modes of expression in favour of establishing their dominance over me (without me indicating that I would like them to do so) because their ultimate goal is to have ‘sex’ with me is literally the recipe for sexual assault (which is defined as any form of sexual contact that takes place without voluntary consent). Kicking into educator mode: the Criminal Code of Canada operates on the notion of “affirmative consent” which means the popular idea that only “no means no” is not valid–actually only yes means yes. And although it may appear to some people as though consent has been obtained when someone does not verbally say the words “no” that consent is not actually valid if an individual indicates no through their words or behaviours. The situation which Mr. Hoinsky describes in his proposed work in which the male should “back-off” if the female screams “OH MY GOD GET AWAY FROM ME” is, in fact, not in line with the legal definition of consent here in Canada (side note: illegal or not, I would hope that most people I know would aim higher than that in their intimate interactions with others anyways). And that is only one of the more obvious examples of how these sentiments work to normalize sexual violence in our society.
In short, what myself and the other individuals (see comedian Casey Malone’s blog) are reacting to is the larger rape-prone culture in which we live. This is a culture that perpetually condones and excuses sexual violence and renders a group of people as “less than” because of some arbitrary physically identifiable attributes.
I’m sure some of you may now be thinking: “so…why does this matter to me?” Great question, my friend! It’s important because sexual violence impacts us all, regardless of gender or sexuality, and all of us have a role to play in putting an end to it. “Okay, so how do I do that?” Another GREAT QUESTION! As far as I know, there are only three sure-fire ways to work to end sexual violence:
1) Be critical of the media we consume and the messages it sends about men, women, and sex;
2) Think about how we react in relation to other people and the little things that we do everyday that reinforce rape-culture; and
3) Learn more about the issue! If you would like more information on sexual violence in our society, I would suggest checking out the fabulous, award-winning Consent Ed website or the information page on the University of Alberta’s page.
We all have the power to create change in this issue–all ya gotta do is refuse to play “the game.”
I never did believe the bunch on Arthur when they said “having fun isn’t hard when you’ve got a library card”. Well, ten years later I am realizing the wisdom of that line. I am hoping that my library card will be my ticket to an awesome night this month. The Edmonton Public Library is celebrating its 100th birthday this year and has a bunch of events lined up. The one that got me really excited is Rick Mercer – A Nation Worth Ranting About.
I have loved watching this man’s shenanigans since I was a kid. My mom is one of those people that will sit there and watch the CBC News Network run the same half hour program 18 times in a row. Naturally, programs like the and This Hour Has 22 Minutes were a welcomed alternative and I grew to love their cheesy Canadian jokes. I used to laugh along without really knowing why, like all kids do. Watching these shows now, I realize just how funny they are. I have now finished my second year in Political Science at the U of A and it amazes me how intelligent people like Rick Mercer are and can be while acting like complete goofs. The truth is our political system is kind of a joke. So why not have some fun with it, eh?
Anyways, this post is a plea to the internet Gods that I might be lucky enough to win tickets to his show in Edmonton on June 15th! Here are some of Rick’s Rants for your enjoyment:
As someone that works for UPS, this is great. FedEx vs. Canada Post:
Check out more of his videos online! Best waste of time ever.