This song is simultaneously bouncily cheerful and doggedly sad. It's one of Sesame Street's more complex treasures. It really does capture the co-existing optimism and loneliness of being a kid on the hunt for a playmate.
This video is of the original appearance of the song on the show, and features a very bummed baby orangutan with nobody his age in his pen. Later incarnations of this song used significantly prettier and cheerier scenarios. But I think the original bleak setting was a really interesting choice - it makes the song seem sadder, and more pressing. Somebody get that monkey a playmate already, I can't stand it! Poor guy.
By now you've probably seen this poster campaign encouraging people not to dress up as ethnic stereotypes for Halloween:
I guess I shouldn't be totally surprised at the controversy around these messages, but the turn that the conversation around them took really made me feel obligated to chime in. I get the two sides; "People should get a sense a of humor/ Don't tell me what I can't do" vs.
And I'll admit I'm on the latter team. I don't really think it's funny or appropriate to dress up like an unflattering caricature of a race, regardless of the reasons. It perpetuates stereotypes and deepens the divide that prevents us from understanding and respecting other cultures, while making the wearer look like a clueless inconsiderate asshole.
At the same time I understand the other argument, to a certain extent, especially if you live in a mono-cultural community with no real exposure to actual people of these races (which is why this poster campaign putting a real face to the ethnicity is very well done). Halloween is supposed to be a time to dress up and have fun and act foolish and satirize the world- so I kinda sorta see the other side (even though I don't agree - it's totally racist).
But there was one argument/comment that popped up more than once that really blew my mind:
Are you kidding me? Are you really trying to equate dressing up like an ethnicity to dressing up like a spectral being? My apologies- I didn't realize that your parents were ghosts and that you were born and raised in the ghost culture, with all their rich and celebrated ghost traditions. I'm so embarrassed I reduced your proud undead history to that old stereotype of a sheet with eye holes. I can't believe that guy over there dressed like a ghostbuster! How insensitive to all the spirits they've imprisoned from your culture over the years. Shame on him.
Oh hai guys! I've been lucky enough to get in on the beta testing of the new Harry Potter fan site Pottermore. I thought I'd dish a little on what it's like and what I liked.
Basically you get to go through little interactive vignettes from each chapter, finding objects that you can collect (like books, important props from the story, and the golden snitch) and uncovering new content about characters from JK Rowling. I think getting to read the exclusive content is probably my favorite of the site so far. Getting the life stories of Prof. McGonagall and Quirell, and the story of how the Dursley's met was very fun and interesting!
The art style on the site is very rich and beautiful. It really captures the mood of the books well. And I think that's something kind of important to keep in mind about the site: It's meant to serve sort of as an accompaniment to the books. Reading the feedback comments from other people in the Beta, it was clear some people were expecting there to be a lot more to it, for it almost to be a living movie you could act out. It's more like a series of explorable moments.
With that said, there were a few things on it that I'd like to see improve.
1. There's no music - I think that would enhance the feeling of the site a lot.
2. The two most exciting interactive pieces, that enable you to earn house points, are not functioning optimally right now. You're supposed to be able to do spells in a wizards duel, but that piece has been "under maintenance" since I first signed in. There's also a place to make potions - but they take a REALLY long time to brew and sometimes the interface is a little clumsy. I wasted a whole bottle of Billywig Stings because I couldn't figure out how to hold the bottle properly. What a waste of Galleons!
3. You can buy pets on Diagon Alley, and they become your avatar. You have to pick really carefully because you can't change it. Not that I hate my choice of the traditional black cat, but now I wish I'd picked the Siamese instead and there's no turning back!
OK though- Here's the cool stuff.
You get to go through a series of personality tests to get your wand and sort you into your houses. Here's what I got!
My Wand: 11 1/2 inches, Ash and Unicorn Hair, unyeilding
Slytherin Bitches! Haters Gonna Hate!
I'm actually really pleased with it. I feel like the test got it right. I'm ambitious and resourceful.Plus, I think I would kinda hate those foolhardy Gryffindor jerks if I was at Hogwarts. F pointless heroics.
Right now we're in second place with in the House Cup - Ravenclaw is winning. Despite having the most members, Gryffindor is in 3rd (BOO LOSERS) and, naturally, Hufflepuff is a losin'.
Anyways, it's a lot of fun, a great way to rediscover the books and learn more about the characters. I can't wait till they put up the rest of the content. Pottermore is pretty sweet.
EDIT: I forgot to mention that they randomly assign you a user name. Mine turned out to be pretty alright: WolfsbaneRose139. Look me up when you can get on!
Ever since Roosevelt has become an indoor/outdoor girl, I've been thinking about solutions to give her a little more autonomy in her comings and goings. Frankly, it's a pain to have to constantly by letting her in and out,and she's not a big fan of being out all day long. I think something like this could be a really cool solution. AND OMG IT'S THE BURROW!
This was my first ever Stephen King book, believe it or not. It was really quite good for reading at the beach over the summer. Quick paced, exciting visuals/descriptions, and good spooky tension to keep you turning the pages. The build up of creepy happenings is actually a lot scarier (for me at least) than the actual climax. King does a really good job though of taking a morbid premise and expanding on it in every conceivable direction. Solidly spooky and super appropriate for our coming Hallows Eve,
Tinker, Sailor Soldier, Spy- John LeCarre
I picked up this book because I could recall my Grandpa talking about how much he had enjoyed it when it first came out.Literally the day afterward, I saw a commercial for the movie remake starring Gary Oldman. Strange timing! This is a really solid spy story taking place in the heart of the cold war. The characters a richly painted and the espionage lingo sprinkled heavily throughout draws you into a dark seedy underworld of British Intelligence. A pretty good mystery with layers like an onion.
Going Postal- Terry Pratchett
This was a good book to bring with me on vacation. Like most Pratchett books, the story was light and humorous, painted with the creative brush of the metaphysical Discworld. It follows the tale of an ex-con appointed/sentenced to the lifetime position of Postmaster General, forced against his will to revive the ailing postal system. The humor in this book is among the silliest I think I've read from Pratchett, with a strong Monty Python feel.
Journal of the Plague Year- Daniel Defoe
This book was written in an autobiographical style, from the perspective of a citizen who rode out the Black Death in 1655. However, it's actually a very well researched bit of historical fiction from Defoe, originally published in 1722. Now, given that the 70 odd years that passed between the plague and the novel is dwarfed by the nearly 300 years to me reading it today, it reads like it might as well as been a first person account. Despite its age, this book reads very easily. I got a kick out of the scientific explanations and cures for the plague that were still accepted as fact in the 18th century, knowing how horribly wrong they were now. It's a fascinating but morbid peek into the lives of those who lived during one of the biggest modern pandemics. Fun for history/ 18th century fans!
The Screwtape Letters- C.S. Lewis
This is a fun and thought provoking read. Lewis examines internal struggle against sin from the perspective of a slick devil that wants to eat your soul. It does a good job of reflecting the internal monologues that guide our daily life, and illustrating how our thoughts lead respectively to paths of good or evil. The Demon Screwtape is a despicably fun narrator, that serves as a ready foil for the piety and perfection of being Christian. The tone is so convincing that you almost forget that Lewis blanketing science, humanism, evolution and democracy as the work of the devil. It's a thought provoking treatise on human nature, and poses some interesting arguments as to how we should be spending our mental energy and time on earth. I deem it a must read.
"It is all a fake, of course; the figures in the popular art are falsely drawn; the real women in bathing suits or tights are actually pinched in and propped up to make them appear firmer and more slender and more boyish than nature allows a full-grown woman to be....As a result we are more and more directing the desires of men to something which does not exist—making the rôle of the eye in sexuality more and more important and at the same time making its demands more and more impossible. What follows you can easily forecast!" - C.S. Lewis, 1942
Sorry about my posting lapse- We were without internet for a week. Things will be more back to normal now. I want to talk about getting naked in Germany.
Germans have a long and glorious tradition of public nudity. Even though their once thriving naturist community is now shrinking somewhat, there are still plenty of opportunities to show off yer goods. In the Englischer Garten, (Munich's answer to Central Park) there is a nude sunbathing area. From a distance you can see middle aged men standing around with their legs spread and their hands on their hips, talking to other men doing the same. You could also see it up close...if you were brave.
So while we were in Baden-Baden, a historic playground of the rich and famous, it only seemed fitting to take part in one of their most luxurious attractions, that happened to involve nudity.
Fredrichsbad, the thermal bath house was mere steps away from our wonderful hotel's door. Since 1877, this place has been a temple to relaxation and health. You can even get a prescription to go to the baths from your doctor in Germany, for free! Also, the dress code for this experience is totally nude.
Before we went into the baths, I was very nervous! I do have a tendency to have not the greatest body image, so the prospect of just wandering around and flaunting it seemed kind of, well, crazy. I also looked back to the scenes of Munich's park. Was it just going to be me and Paul with a bunch of wide-stanced hairy business men?
But as you enter this place you are almost transported into another plane of existence. This isn't just getting naked in public, this is like getting naked in a mansion!
As we were getting naked in the locker room, a staff person approached us and started talking quicly in fairly advanced German. It was...strange. Being naked with this prim and proper staff person, in her all white spa uniform - shoes and socks and all, explaining to us how to use the lockers. She was so totally non-plussed. But I imagine working there, seeing naked people all day long every day, you kind of lose that veneer of sensitivity about approaching somebody with no clothes on.
It helped with the anxiety of the situation that it wasn't too busy that day - I think we saw a total of about 8 other people the whole time. But even still, once you got used to the prospect that you were naked, they were naked, and it was normal, you almost forgot about it. It was relaxing, and liberating!
It's hard to explain, but it just felt natural and fun to be able to just walk around and swim and be naked and for nobody to think anything of it. And also to see the whole of other people's naked bodies, makes one's little imperfections seem like the most natural thing in the world.
Another nice things about this place is that all the water is natural mineral water, and the steam rooms are thermal, powered by the earth. It was fun to be able to open my eyes under water, and not have to smell chlorine everywhere. You feel so clean when you leave here, especially if your get the soapy scrub brush massage!
I really did enjoy it - to the point that I've been looking up clothing-optional places across the country. Maybe for our next vacation? I wouldn't be opposed! Getting naked is pretty fun!