Archive | June, 2012

I Need Your [Music] Help!

29 Jun

I’m working on a personal project which should [hopefully] transfer into a blog project. Before I can even get started, though, I need your help! If you consider yourself an “expert” or at least think you know a genre/your favorite genre very well, then I would like you to give me a list of 10 artists from whatever genre it might be that you think represent the genre as a whole (subgenres are also acceptable because, lets face it, music is so diverse). They can be what you consider “the best” or they can be a wide variety that shows how diverse the genre is…whatever you think represents best! Here is a list of suggested genres:

Country
Metal
Jazz
Ska
Punk
Indie Rock
Indie Pop
Blues
Techno
Rap
Christian
Soul
Funk
Reggae
Folk
Japanese Pop
Celtic
Indian Pop
Various Types of Classical Compositions
Music part of various subcultures

 

Please share!

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The Ability of Gay People to be Good Parents

27 Jun

I just finished reading a blog, that I would like to talk a little more about. Just a little. You can find the blog here.

First and foremost, let me say that I enjoyed reading it. It wasn’t aimed to be condescending or attacking anyone (at least as far as I could see). This makes it very easy to discuss rationally, which I appreciate greatly. The point of it? That when two people of opposing opinions discuss a topic, they should stay clear of attacking one another when both sides treat each other civilly. I agree.

The comments on it, while I did not read all of them, also seemed to be genuinely civil. I’m sure as I typed my response, they became increasingly unwieldy as they usually do, but thats besides the point. As I was reading them, the writer clarified that he supports neither gay marriage, nor gay adoption, but that he was still close friends with someone who is gay. His reasoning was that gay marriage and gay adoption lack in areas that are necessary for a healthy child and marriage.

Lets talk about that. I know that there are usually other reasons, but lets just talk about this one.

First, I don’t believe that any evidence on this matter is legitimate or substantial enough to warrant the removal of rights of marriage and adoption. Lets assume, for arguments sake, that it is. This would mean that any family situation that would prove unfit for a child at some point in the future would be denied the ability to be married or to adopt. The unfortunate part, however, is that there are so many types of family situations outside of the nuclear family that it would be a tall order to analyze all of them. Single parent households would be especially difficult, considering the parent isn’t married. The only thing we would be able to do is take their child away and not allow them to adopt. No single person, then, would be able to adopt.

This also brings up another point I think is important to understand. Just because two people love each other and want to get married does not mean they want to have children. I don’t want to have children at any point in my life, but I do want to get married to someone I love. Should we look so far in advance that we deny someone the right to get married, even if they might never want to have children? And at that, there is also the argument that marriage is a means of procreation. That means not only should you not be allowed to get married because you will be an unfit parent, but also because you don’t want children.

I would like to put forth an example – the same example I used in reply to the blog – to illustrate how wide the effects of this reasoning could stretch. I used drinking. It seems really unrelated(ish), I know. For this example, I want to assume that this fictional person is an unmarried and single alcoholic, whose problem only affects her personal life (they maintain a job without error, pay their bills, etc). So what grounds should we remove her marriage rights? If we assume she doesn’t want children, she automatically can’t get married (at least according to the far reaches of this blog post). But lets assume she does want children. Lets say we decide alcoholics are unfit parents. We then take away her rights to get married. This can, unfortunately, be applied to a vast number of lifestyles.

I would also like to say that we have an entire agency devoted to protecting children. Mental and physical abuse and neglect are handled by these people. Along with the help of our legal system, these people make the judgement call. They decide who is an unfit parent. I think we should leave it in their hands, not in our own to make judgement calls too far in advance to even know if a couple will have children. If a gay couple, for whatever reason, emotionally neglects their child, then by all means take their child away and give it to a home that can love it, but don’t condemn them for what can only be a speculation by not allowing them to even get married.

Now, lets talk about the legitimacy of an argument that homosexual parents do not have the ability to provide a healthy home for their children. I can’t say that I’m certain what this encompasses. I can’t say for certain that this “evidence” is actually even credited. What I can say is every family dynamic is different, and all of them pose different problems. Many children who come from divorced or single parents think that marriage is nonsense and unnecessary. Children who come from extended family living situations are likely to have closer ties with family than those who come from a nuclear family. Children who have gay parents might have more open minds about homosexuality. Everyone has different experiences because of who their parents are and how they are raised, and its just something that we come to terms with and hopefully make us better people in the end.

Do you think this is a legitimate argument? Should we extend the illegalization of marriage from homosexuals to others who might be consider unfit parents?

26 Jun

When it comes to guys who refuse to wear condoms, I have a little speech prepared that goes something like this: Look, guy I almost slept with, I like you a lot. You are smart-slash-funny-slash-charming and/or good looking and a moment ago I wanted to do things to you the likes of which are usually only reserved for fake letters or dirty magazines, but when it comes to having sex I have but one rule – just one – you gotta use a ticket if you wanna ride the ride, which means in addition to that aching sensation you are probably feeling in your shorts right now, I’m going to leave you with one final question that will undoubtedly haunt you for a very long time. Did you honestly think that wearing only a thin layer of well-lubricated latex between our hot, sweaty, pulsing bodies would be worse than spending the morning-slash-afternoon-slash-night alone? Sadly, guy I almost slept with, you will never, ever have the pleasure of knowing for sure!

-Its Your (Sex) Life campaign commercial

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=MLdFreZRw0s

25 Jun

Vegetarians never get to do the wishbone! Its really not fair either, because just because we don’t eat the meant doesn’t mean we don’t like to play with the carcasses .

–Phoebe, Friends

The Morning After: Mockingjay

25 Jun

 

As I was mulling over my thoughts about what to write about the final book, I realized I hadn’t actually mentioned why I chose to write each review the morning after I finished each book. I’ll confess that sometimes it wasn’t the morning, but the major reason I wrote each review the next day was because it gave me a chance to sleep on it. When I finished The Hunger Games, it was about 1 o’clock in the morning and I felt absolutely disconcerted. I couldn’t sleep that night and what little I did was filled with dreams about the book. I was in no condition to give an accurate description or review; I had to let my feelings settle. The next day I felt much better and I was able to write. Its true that nothing was as fresh in my mind, but I also had the book at hand for any references I needed to make.

As my final installment of the trilogy, I would like to mention how I feel about it in its entirety, and how I feel about Suzanne Collins as a writer. That will all come after I talk about the book at hand, because that is my main focus.

Spoiler alert: I’ll be talking freely about the book toward the end of this post, so if you haven’t read it and don’t want me to ruin it, don’t read in between the lines! I also apologize that its a little lengthy.


When I cracked open the third and final book in The Hunger Games series, I found myself at a place that made the most sense. I wasn’t shocked by the amount of time that had or hadn’t passed, and I like that. After the last two books, I needed a little bit of comfort to hold on to. There also wasn’t a lot of back story information to sift through, and what little there was had been woven into the story very well.

That actually sums how I feel about most of the beginning of the book, and by beginning I mean the first few chapters. Other than a few incidents, I felt it was at a comfortable pace. Being already invested in the series at this point, I didn’t need some giant hook to keep me reading, but I also didn’t want to have to sit through chapters of mindless boring material. It was a nice medium.

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The beginning of the book takes us back to District 12, so that Katniss can assess the damage done to her home. She has been relocated to District 13, but some times you just need to see things to accept them; I think this was one of those times.

After finishing the task of seeing it, as well as taking a few choice objects from her intact home in Victors Village, she is wished goodbye by a single rose from President Snow. Knowing that the only meaning of it is a sinister one, her and a few of her peers – Gale included – head back to District 13. She meets up with her family, but is immediately called to watch programming from the Capitol. This is when Katniss and the reader both find out that Peeta is alive, and apparently doing well. This comes as a relief to Katniss, but only for a short period, as she realizes due to his call for a cease-fire, he immediately becomes an enemy to the rebellion. Its at this realization, that Katniss decides to be the face of the rebellion: the mockingjay.

It doesn’t take long before the reader comes to terms with what District 13 is actually like. By page 38, when Katniss finalizes her decisions of her terms for being the mockingjay, we already know how strict the rules of the district are. You have a predetermined schedule you have to uphold. You can only eat a certain amount of food. You don’t make your own decisions. Katniss’ terms include immunity of people such as Peeta, Gale must be there to help her, she must be allowed to hunt, her sister’s cat must be allowed to stay with them, and that she must kill Snow. Not all of her terms are met with approval, but in the end they are all recognized publicly.

Also in Part I, we find that Katniss’ prep team is still alive, and that she is to visit District 8 to record unscripted, televised, rebellion propaganda. True to who she is, Katniss ends up ignoring orders and joins in the action by helping shoot down various air attack hovercraft, with the help of Gale, of course.

After being taken to the hospital and treated for her various wounds, she watches the footage from her hospital room. After it airs, another interview with Peeta airs as well. He makes an attempt to warn Katniss that she might not know what she is getting herself into, which weighs on her for quite a while after the interview stops. After visiting District 12 a second time for more propaganda shots, the final interview with Peeta airs before the decision is made to rescue him from the Capitol. He warns that Katniss will be dead by morning, and is rewarded by being beaten to the ground. The closing image is of his blood splattering on the floor.

Part II picks up immediately after the news Peeta gives. This causes an immediate evacuation of the city, taking all of its members into its depths to avoid the imminent attacks. There is quite a bit of characterization of Finnick, and of Katniss, while they are down in the bunker. We get to figure out little by little who Finnick really is, and who Katniss was before the Games.

After the bombing ceases, Peeta is rescued from the Capitol, and everyone is hoping for happy a happy reunion between him and Katniss. The opposite is true, as Peeta has been brainwashed and his only new desire is to kill Katniss. The time spent trying to get him back is painful for everyone involved, and thus Katniss tries to find a way to take her mind off of it. She travels to District 2, where they finally penetrate their forces, and yet another attempt is made on Katniss’ life.

There is even more character development in part II. Finnick does a propaganda shot revealing all the things that President Snow has done. Prim takes on a whole new personality of her own as she helps Katniss deal with what has happened to Peeta. Gale takes on a new perspective as he helps invent new ways to kill the enemy.

Finally, after taking District 2, it becomes time to head to the Capitol. Soldiers are grouped and sent out for battle. Katniss gets cleared for duty, and joins forces with Gale and several others as sharp shooters. Peeta has also been placed into the same unit, with speculation that the goal is to kill Katniss so that the leader of 13, Coin, won’t have a problem taking new power once the Capitol falls.

In part III, the reader is finally introduced to the recovery process Peeta is still undergoing. They have no choice but to take him along as part of their party, but this quickly turns sour. Peeta makes another attempt at Katniss’ life while in the midst of battle, but this looks to be the final breaking point. Their game, Real or Not Real, has become increasingly more useful in helping get him back after this.

As the battle continues, they are all thought to be dead after the last fight, which gives them a certain amount of time to relocate. They do their best, but eventually end up with only 5 surviving members of their troop. A variety of mutts and pods designed to remotely kill them pick them off little by little. Finnick dies, as does Boggs and Jackson. Miraculously, however, Gale and Peeta are still alive. They make it to the Capitol, and with the help of a friend there are able to infiltrate all the way into President Snow’s yard. Here, we suffer the death of Gale and Prim, without knowing if Peeta is alive or dead.

Once the final battle ends, Katniss once again wakes up in a hospital room. She learns that Gale didn’t actually die, and that Peeta is alive. Time wears on, and it becomes time for her to kill Snow. This wouldn’t be a big problem, if they didn’t have a final conversation the day before. Snow through blame on Coin for killing Prim, and tells Katniss that this is the real threat, not him. Katniss must make a decision to believe him, or cast him away as trying to use her again.

On the day in which she must kill him, his words ring true to her. She kills Coin, and Snow just happens to die as well; his health has been decreasing. This causes pandemonium, and Katniss is taken prisoner to await her trial, but not until after Peeta stops her from taking her own life with the nightlock pill.

In the closing pages of the book, Katniss is pardoned and a new leader has been elected. She moves back to District 12 with Haymitch to live in Victors Village again. Greasy Sae also accompanies them as her cook and maid. Her mother doesn’t join her, and Gale ends up doing work in another district. We find that Peeta comes back to District 12 as well. Him and Katniss begin to get things back to normal, and work on mourning the loss of their loved ones. They begin to keep their memories in places other than their heads, as they write them down and illustrate them in a book.

On the final page of the book, we understand why Gale is not with her. Its because the two of them are too much alike, and they only fuel a fire. Peeta can balance Katniss out in ways that Gale could never do. The last line of the book confirms that Katniss loves Peeta, just as much as Peeta has always loved her.

The epilogue is filled with Katniss singing, and questioning how to explain the past to their children.

———————————–

First, I must say that Catching Fire was my favorite of the three. I’m not sure why, because The Hunger Games didn’t let me go to sleep, and there were many, many times in Mockingjay in which I had to stop, put the book down, and read. If I think back, I might say that I had to yell out loud at Catching Fire, just to let my emotions be released before they destroyed me.

My favorite part of Mockingjay, however, was the character development. We see it in so many characters because they all have this chance of being able to be around Katniss more than they had previously. I would venture to say that the most developed in this book was Gale, which makes sense considering he is just as important as Katniss and Peeta are. Second to that is Finnick, followed by Haymitch and Prim.

Originally, I was almost indifferent with Gale as a character. He has a quality about him that reminds me of a few of my friends, but nothing about him was striking in the first book. In Mockingjay, I began to dislike him. I think the reasons are the same that Katniss had. He was full of fire, and revenge, and I can see him doing whatever it took to get the job done, but none of those are things she needed more of in her life. He was an attractive man, and it is easy to see how Katniss was confused about where he should stand, but he also could’ve done something about his feelings. Don’t get me wrong, there are many redeeming points for him in the book, and I love the scenes in which they kissed, but I loved the scenes more in which they fought together. When they took down the hovercraft in 8, and again when they were in the Capitol, they just had a great ability to compliment each other.

It was also great to see development of Finnick. He seemed so ridiculous inCatching Fire, but only because Katniss didn’t understand who he was. Once they talked about him being forced to sell his body, and his beloved Annie, Katniss was able to better illustrate who he was on the inside. It gives me no doubt that had he always acted like who he truly was, that Gale and Peeta would’ve had more competition for Katniss’ heart.

Prim also finally gets her time to shine in the third book. We see that she is older now, if only a little, but that she has had to grow like Katniss had to. The difference between them is also clear, and the reader can see that Prim deals much better with pain than her sister does.

Finally, Haymitch sees more characterization as well. Most of the moments that Haymitch is of importance I have to say that I don’t like him. It doesn’t matter if he is drunk or if he is sober, I just think that he has been worn too thin to have many redeeming qualities. The only moments I enjoyed him as a character were when he consoled Katniss. This goes for the other two books as well. I enjoy how clever he is when he works with Katniss in the first Games, but other than that I can’t say I really like him.

After all is said and done, I’m still much in love with Peeta, and I’ve decided that Katniss is okay. I like her ability to freely think about everything, even though many of those thoughts are misguided. Her inattention to orders also gives her points in my book. Her inability to let her emotions flow freely is also a selling point, because I feel much the same way about myself.

———————————–

I give praise to Collins for finishing out the revolution to its end. I’m also glad that the rebels won, and that Katniss killed Coin. I can’t say that I believe what Snow was saying was true, but I don’t think Coin would’ve helped the cause in the end. Her strictness, and the belief among her peers that she wanted Katniss dead, would both work in favor of more “dark days”. Snow was also in failing health, and wouldn’t be difficult to kill at all. If you have the ability to take out the strongest right away, then anything else will be extremely easy.

———————————–

I also think that Katniss’ decision to initially run, and then her change of heart and decision to stay and fight were very true to the cause. I think people’s initial reaction to most difficult things are to restart, rather than to rebuild. Had it been fewer people who needed saved – Gale and his family, Katniss and her family, and Peeta and his family – running might have been an option. If Katniss was able to take just one other person, running might have been a valid option, but even from the beginning I knew that running would never work with such a large group of people. It also rings true to Gale’s nature that he wanted to rebel, and probably had long before Katniss and Peeta threatened to kill themselves in defiance in the arena.

I do speculate that District 13 was almost a little too convenient, but then again, it would take a lot longer than 3 books to tell a story about 12 districts who planned to rebel, but needed to prepare well in advance. It took 75 years before District 13 was ready, and it might have taken even longer if Katniss hadn’t helped fuel the fire. The fact that District 13 was such a well-kept secret was a nice addition to the books, though. I think it was very necessary to keep order, and in such a well-oiled machine that the Capitol had under its power, it doesn’t seem very far-fetched to think they fed the thoughts into everyone’s mind.

The one thing that always leaves me puzzled about post-apocalyptic books such as these are the lack of information about what actually happened. Each book gives a few details, but nothing is every precise. We also are rarely told the scope of disaster that set everything into motion. Did it involve all of earth, and thus the only known survivors are those involved in the story? Was it only the nation of interest (e.g. United States) that was destroyed? Under what premise should we believe that no one else on the planet has never cared about or visited Panem? Sure, I can’t name every town on the planet and say what they are or are not doing, but I feel as though the lack of information is beyond my realm of understanding.

War. Defiance. Love. Family. Decisions. Growth. Death. I think all of those things are important themes through the three books. In order to change anything, the characters must go to war to overthrow the current goverment. In order to overthrow the government, you must defy it. Katniss, Peeta, Prim, and Gale are all involved in some way in love in this book. Katniss’ fathers death is one of the biggest problems with who she is at any one time. Half the book is about Katniss and Peeta and Gale and their weird love-triangle. Those closing line is even about love. Prim is the entire reason this book can exist like it does. Had Katniss not had such a sense of family when it came to her sister, it would’ve been Prim who was forced to play in the Games. We also see every single character in this book grow. Katniss, Peeta, Prim, and Gale are all in the midst of growing into their own. Just when you think that people who have been forced to mature so quickly couldn’t grow any more, you find a 17 year old girl having to support a revolution on her shoulders. And death is in every word, in every line, and on every page of each of these books. Her fathers death has caused Katniss to be who she is, the potential death of her sister sets it all in motion, her own death drives her to survive through the Games, thoughts of Peeta dying keep them both alive. The deaths of her peers, however damaging, keep her going throughout all of the books. Prim’s death causes her to kill the biggest threat since the rebels won. They are all important to what these books are.

Unfortunately, the most controversial theme in the book is love. It isn’t war. It isn’t that government is corrupt. It is love. The reason behind this isn’t even someone’s conscious decision, either. The reason love is controversial is because we aren’t allowed to consider it a valid theme. Well, my dearest readers, I’m here to tell you that none of these books is a love story, but that within all three there is the story of love. Without love, Katniss wouldn’t be the hunter she is. Without love, Prim would be a player in the Games. Without love, Peeta would be dead. Hell, without love, Katniss might even be dead and we wouldn’t have a story to read! Don’t tell me this story isn’t supposed to be about love. I’m fully aware what it is and is not about.

In the The Hunger Games, we learned that Katniss was grateful to Peeta, that Peeta loved her, and the she might love Gale. In Catching Fire, we learned that Gale loves Katniss, that Katniss loves Gale, and that Katniss loves Peeta. In Mockingjay, we learned that Peeta loves Katniss, Gale loved Katniss, and that Katniss loves Peeta.

The details are important, but most of it is speculation. Collins could’ve taken any route she wanted to at any point. One different move and Katniss ends up alone. I’ve already admitted that I’m not a huge fan of Gale, but from the beginning I felt bad for him. I knew he liked Katniss, and I also knew that I didn’t want them to end up together. I felt like a terrible person for wanting this, because I know how terrible unrequited love feels, but they just weren’t right for one another. I think that kissing Gale was a very important development point for Katniss to allow her to take control of her feelings. It was even more important that Gale acknowledged that she wouldn’t have kissed him had he not been hurt. It speaks to her inner healer that she refuses to accept.

I also fell in love with Peeta right away. Its this love that makes me not want to watch The Hunger Games the movie. I don’t want to lose the image of him I have in my head. From the moment that Katniss set off to find Peeta after she realized he [might have] saved her life, I knew that she loved him. It wasn’t a question for me. Katniss was using herself as a puppet, and wasn’t letting herself actually think about what Peeta was saying when he admitted he loved her. She wasn’t letting herself think about how she felt about him either. It upset me that it took her so long to acknowledge it, and that also says something about who I am, and how I make my decisions.

I was genuinely upset when Peeta came back from the Capitol in the state he was in. I was also upset when Katniss didn’t reason with him. I was the most upset at how the book ended. I know that with tensions dying down, and things beginning to resume to normal, it was a very normal way to end things. I was hoping that it would be at least a little exciting, though. It isn’t a stretch to hope that Katniss has a nightmare one night, and wakes to find Peeta comforting her. I would’ve even enjoyed a scene in which Peeta does something that is reminiscent of him trying to kill Katniss, and she responds, but then realizes he is back to normal, and would never kill her.

Overall, I think this book is rated at about a 3.5 to 4 out of 5. The books as a whole I would say rank at a 4 or 4.5. They brought out emotions in me I forgot books to find, and they are definitely not lacking in exciting. I can’t ever rank anything as perfect, because I’m not perfect, and thus cannot judge anything as perfect, because there are definitely flaws I have missed. And with that, I leave you with a single thought, and final question. I think its strange how long it takes Katniss to deal with anything.

The Question: What do you think?

25 Jun

The last time Joey went to a meadow his mother got shot by a hunter.

–Chandler, from Friends

Stockholm Syndrome

24 Jun

 

While Stockholm Syndrome isn’t recognized as its own disorder, but rather as a subset of PTSD, it still has one major symptom that sets it apart – love for ones captor.

I’ve never been in any situation that would end in acquisition of any sort of PTSD, and I would like to keep it that way. I’m torn, however, at how I would react if I was in fact taken hostage, abducted, or whatever other situation comes to mind. I consider myself resilient, which would make me less susceptible, but in an effort of self-preservation, I can see myself doing whatever it takes. If that means getting chummy with my abductor, so be it, but what happens if that goes a little too far?

What I’m saying is that if I let my guard down enough to try to be civil with my captor in hopes that I can outsmart them, its not a terribly huge step away to get to know their good traits. And unless I’m dealing with a sociopath, everyone has good traits. Even sociopaths can be charming. At that point is it too far-fetched to think that I could develop feelings for my captor, especially if we are in close quarters for a large amount of time? And lets be honest, in thought (not necessarily practice), this submissive role is a turn on for quite a large number of people.

Keep in mind that I’m also not a stranger vengeful, hateful thoughts. I’m not afraid to die if the situation called for it, either. Put those together and you have someone who is okay with fighting back.

How susceptible to Stockholm Syndrome do you think you are?