Monday, August 25, 2008

See it for yourself

I saw the movie “Tropic Thunder” this weekend partly because of the boycott, which is being led by individuals who haven’t even seen the movie.

The boycott leaders claim the use of the word “retard” within the movie is offensive. They claim that the movie within the movie, “Simple Jack,” is offensive because of the way Ben Stiller’s character depicts a mentally-challenged adult. But they haven’t even it for themselves.

I laughed nearly the entire way through the movie. But, I’ll admit, there were parts that I cringed at. Some of the humor is low-brow (but isn’t that part of the point?)

After all, the movie is a satire, and satire is ridicule and exaggeration aided by humor. The intent of satire is to get people to talk, to incite change. And with this controversy and the attempted boycott, people are talking.

For one of the best articles I’ve read about this “controversy”, check this editorial out:,0,6517029.story

I’m not saying the use of the word “retard” is okay. What I am saying is that people should not judge something they have never seen. They should not lead a boycott if they don’t know what they’re really asking a person to boycott. In my opinion, “Tropic Thunder” is a satire, plain and simple, and, as such, it takes aim at many, many, many different things—most of all, actors who will do anything to win acclaim.

See the movie for yourself. Judge for yourself. Then give your opinion. That’s all I ask.

Wednesday, August 13, 2008

Painting (walls)

Yesterday, I helped my friend Renae finish painting her new condo. We were focused on turning the closets from a snot-yellow to a clean white, but we were also doing a few touch-ups, like on the outside of the closets, where the white closet paint accidentally hit the tan color of the walls.

My job placed me on a step stool, carefully adding the tan color back in with a tiny watercolor brush. Renae laughed—appreciatively—as I hunkered close to the wall, carefully getting the line just right. We’re both suckers for detail.

Luckily though, the work was quick; there wasn’t too much to fix.

But what if I only had a watercolor brush to paint the entire wall? I could imagine it’s a lot like what Seurat felt when he painted A Sunday Afternoon on the Island of La Grand Jatte: intimated by the expanse of the wall, but satisfied as each dot is carefully placed down onto the wall (canvas) to slowly form the big picture.

Monday, August 11, 2008

Watching the Olympics

Without a job, I have lots of time to waste. Lately, I’ve been spending it watching the Olympics, especially the swimming. I saw the Men’s 4x100 freestyle relay, when Phelps won his second gold medal and got on track to win the most Olympic Golds. I watched when Natalie Coughlin set a new world record and defended the gold she won in Athens in the 100 meter backstroke. I also watched when Peirsol started out slow on the 100 meter backstroke, but ended up breaking a world record to win the Gold.

I admit, before the Olympic games I knew few other Olympic contenders other than Phelps—but lately I’ve been addicted to the swimming. I’d like to think it’s because I used to be on my high school’s swim team, but that extracurricular lasted only a year and I’m the first to admit that I wasn’t that good. I had my highpoints; at the beginning of the season I swam the 50 meter freestyle in 37 seconds (horrible!), but by the end of the season, I was down to 27 seconds. I received the “most improved” award for that but the award seems to be small kudos in the scheme of things—particularly when watching the Olympics, hearing how Phelps trains for five hours a day, not just in the pool but with weights and other aerobic activities.

Sure, with no job, I’ve been working out more than I have in years, but I doubt that counteracts how often I’m sitting on the couch and behind the computer. And, sure, the Olympics sometimes inspire me to get into the gym more than for an hour. But these are Olympians I’m watching, people who have been training for years. I’ve rarely stuck with anything, other than writing, beyond a couple years. If anything, the Olympics seem to remind me of what I have not accomplished or finished—why didn’t I stick with swimming?

I could sit and dwell on this question I suppose. Or I could focus on what I have accomplished—ahem, like grad school and writing a novel in ten months. (Where’s the award for that?)

In the meantime, instead of dwelling, perhaps I should just watch Olympic events other than swimming.

Wednesday, August 6, 2008


After moving out of my parent’s place almost exactly a year ago, my parents sold my childhood home in Barrington. My parents aren’t planning on moving far, because my dad is still running the landscape business out of South Barrington—but it’s still weird; I feel like I’m losing a “home.” Don’t get me wrong. I love the city of Chicago—despite the constant flow of tourists, the sirens and car horns, and the pigeons. I love my wonderful view of the city skyline, watching as the skyscrapers are built, the beaches just blocks from my front door, and meeting interesting people everyday. My apartment is my new home, but I had a home in Barrington too, and now that feels like it’s disappearing.

Barrington—as much as I dismissed it as “Boring”-ton when I was younger, when I was ready to vacate the town and begin, I thought, my life—isn’t as bad as I made it out to be. Sure, there isn’t that much to do, and that restaurants seem to vanish after only a couple years, but my parents’ house was a retreat. I’m going to miss the fresh air untainted by public transportation, my backyard constantly being tended to by my dad, the gazebo and the front porch where I spent so much of my time imagining new stories to write, and of course, my old bedroom, up on the converted third floor, which provided a birds-eye view of nearly half of Summit Street.

I know my parents will always have a space for us, a room reserved for my sisters and me when we visit them, but it won’t feel like “home,” if only because I have never lived there.

My family and I, along with all of my friends over the years, have so many great memories that took place in my old home, and those memories belong to us no matter where my parents move.

Yet, the thought of how ‘home’ is where you make it offers little consolation. I still feel attached to the lot my parent’s bought and built a house on fifteen years ago. My memories feel attached to that space.

On Tuesday, I sat in my parent’s basement in the storage area, and went through a few boxes. Most were filled with books and sorority stuff from college, but others had stuffed animals, diaries, and typewritten stories from when I was in middle school and younger. I hadn’t looked at that stuff since, well, it was packed away years ago. I ended up barely throwing out anything like I had planned to that morning. It amazes me how much memory is tied to things, to spaces—which explains the hold my parents’ home still has on me. After all, even though those boxes are moving along with my parents, I still feel like I’m losing something in the move from one place to another.

When I remind myself of my new “home,” of the new memories that have formed there so far, and the promise of more memories to come with my friends, my family, and my boyfriend, I realize how lucky I am. Change happens. Life happens. But in the moves, and all the in betweens, I continue to surround myself with people who I care about and who care about me.

I’m not sure how to finish this post. I feel like I’ve been overdramatic, cliché, over-the-top, etc. But I suppose that’s what happens when I’m still hunting for a job and spending a majority of the daytime (and night) sitting behind my laptop. I overthink/overanalyze/overconcern myself with things that, in the end, don’t matter all that much. So I’ll just say this: I’m lucky to have what I have. I’m lucky I have my kickass apartment/home in the city, and I’m lucky I still have my family to return to in the burbs (wherever that may be come September 5th). Again, there I go, being all corny. At the moment, I just can’t help it. Hopefully I’ll have a job soon, and you’ll be reading less overwrought posts soon.

One last thing: despite my dramatics, I will miss my old home and old backyard. And, despite my teenage desire to escape Barrington, I think I’ll—eventually—miss the town too.