Wednesday, May 12, 2010

An Old Obsession

Chas fed the fire today by sending me an email filled with old, questionable ads. I had to post some of course. Thanks Chas!

I'll probably put more up later. They're just too crazy not to share!

#55 Photograph a Significant Outfit

What I wore the night I knew, for the first time, that I loved you, and that everything would be okay.

Part of an ongoing series of projects.

Tuesday, May 11, 2010

#62 Make an Educational Public Plaque

People walking by my poster on my college campus.

Me and "All About Snakebites"...super cool!

A poster about snakebites I made and posted on campus. First teaches you how to identify the four types of poisonous snakes in North America, then tells you the steps you should take if bitten by a snake. The little flaps on the bottom are a four-question "can you identify this snake?" quiz. Had a lot of fun making it, and it managed to stay up all day! Hopefully at least one person read it, and was educated. My poster will have been successful then. (Crossing my fingers).

Part of an ongoing series of projects.

Sunday, May 9, 2010

Book a Week Project: Book Six--The Horse and His Boy

I have to admit, I have never read the complete Chronicles of Narnia. Of course I've read The Lion, the Witch and the Wardrobe, as well as The Magician's Nephew (for some reason I assumed this came earlier...which it did in terms of lore, but not chronologically...). But to this day, The Horse and His Boy is only the third of the Narnia books I've finished. I suppose this is due to several factors--chiefly that I never owned all of the books, and then by the time I had the opportunity to buy the books for myself, I realized what they "were" and hesitated. I definitely loved the first book when I was young, but allegorical novels just don't sit well with me anymore. The Horse and His Boy, while primarily about what I do love (animals), is also dripping with Christ symbolism (and, what seemed to me, slightly racist undertones...). For the purposes of this review, however, I'm not going to address the allegorical intent (or lack of, as your opinion may be) of this book--rather I simply wish to address the themes I appreciated, the literary qualities and merits the book has, and the very real pleasure I experienced reading it. Because, despite everything else, it was a fun read!

Foremost in my mind is the emphasis on the relationship between Bree (the talking, Narnian horse stolen from Narnia as a foal) and Shasta (the young fisherman's son, washed ashore in a small boat as an infant and raised (basically) as a slave). The process through which Shasta learns to ride involves constant instruction (and chastising) from Bree, but also a good deal of care and, later, love and respect for one another. I appreciated that Bree repeatedly emphasized that he was a "free horse", and that in Narnia no horse belonged to anyone--hence the title, The Horse and His Boy. It's easy to say we "own" things...I mean, we say it all the time right? What's your cat's name? How old is your dog? But in actuality, how can we ever really own animals? In saying that, I'm not saying we shouldn't have pets (I love having kitties around my house), but that we should remember that animals aren't the same as staplers and computers and fancy pens with feathers on top. 

I see more thoughts and feelings flitting across cat's faces than I can begin to imagine--and maybe that's just the point. We want to connect with animals the way Shasta and Bree (and later, Aravis and Hwin) bond. I might say "If only I knew what was going on in his (the cat's) head right now...I bet he's imagining something really exciting." But really, the only connection we can have with animals is something significantly different than our relationships with other humans--it's something instinctual (primal?)--we connect with them because they make us happy, make us feel needed and loved and wanted.

Bree and Shasta need one another to escape "To Narnia, and the North!", and their bond centers on the continual evaluation of one another as peers and free "animals." I wonder how much of my own desire to know animals was piqued by this book, and how big of a role that desire played in my enjoyment of it. The climactic battle of the book didn't nearly interest me as much as the feeling of movement, or journeying I guess, towards a land that promised freedom and inclusion for two (and eventually four) mistreated creatures. 

I suppose I do love Aslan as well (because of the first book), but his appearances in this text were sporadic, and marked almost explicitly as either the miracle-working or punishment-doling of God. The punishment he bestows on the principle enemy of the book near the end is actually more harsh than I would have expected...and didn't really leave me feeling very connected to his character anymore. Oh well. 

Anyway, The Horse and His Boy is a fairly fast-paced, and certainly beautifully descriptive novel. The impetus for the book is an epic journey, so the compulsion to finish the novel and reach a resolution is strong (at least for this reader). It left me thinking, but also eager to bite into something a bit more substantial for next week. Stay tuned. 

Recommendation: Not high on my list for must-reads, but certainly good for something enjoyable, quick, and pretty. Also good if you like talking animals.

Monday, May 3, 2010

Book a Week Project: Book Five--The Book Thief

This week I've chosen another Young Adult novel for my BaW project--though it certainly wasn't the breezy read I was expecting. Markus Zusak's The Book Thief, is, without a doubt, one of the most harrowing and haunting holocaust narratives I have read. As you can see from the cover (not the cover of my edition, but a nicer one than I had), the primary figures in the novel are a young girl, Liesel Meminger, and Death. Yes, Death with a capital D, who happens to narrate the book. Initially I thought it a bold move to choose Death as the narrator of a holocaust story, but later realized just how perfect and powerful Zusak's decision was for this book. 

I think the most irritating (and simultaneously fascinating and moving) elements of the story was the use of foreshadowing. Throughout the text, Death hints at tragedy, plays with our expectations, and sometimes, when you least expect it, comes right out and tells you when a character you're reading about will die. This happens without warning, and in several instances involves an important character. Death will set up this elaborate image of the character, only to say something like this: 

      ABOUT ____________________
He didn't deserve to die the way he did.
In your visions, you see the sloppy edges of paper still stuck to his fingers. You see a shivering blonde fringe. Preemptively, you conclude, as I would, that _____ died that very same day, of hypothermia. He did not. Recollections like those merely remind me that he was not deserving of the fate that met him a little under two years later.
I omitted the name of the person to there wouldn't be any spoilers. But yeah, that "announcement" comes nearly 300 pages before the character actually dies. It kind of "ruins" the suspense, but also...I don't know...makes it more intense I suppose. It definitely makes every scene of that character after the fact more poignant and special, which is unusual for a novel. I literally have never seen a book with as much foreshadowing as this--and yet...I wasn't as bothered with it as I expected. At the end, I think it was the reason that this book made me cry.

Well, I still have a paper to write on this, so I'll come back to this response later on. I still have more to say, but time, as you can see, is not my friend. (Though maybe Death is).

Recommendation: Would recommend if you want a dense and sad book that's awesome. 

Sunday, May 2, 2010

Inspired by Art

Working on an art project for school and stumbled upon this striking photograph.

#52 Write the phone call you wish you could have

Me: Um…hello?

A: Hi Lauren…

Me: A? Is that you?!

A: Yeah…I got your number on Facebook. Sorry if that’s weird
Me: No, it’s ok…what’s up?

A: I wanted to talk to you…you know, about everything.

Me: Oh.

A: I just wanted to say, I’m sorry about how things turned out between us. I realize that what I did…wasn’t the best way to do things. I really hurt you, and I regret that.

Me: ….

A: I know that you’ve tried to reach out to me several times, and that I was cold to you…I shouldn’t have done that. You were always such a good friend, and I know that just because of that one incident, I shouldn’t have changed my whole opinion about you. I’m sorry.

Me: Um, it’s ok. I’ve moved past that now A.

A: I just hope that even if we can’t be friends anymore…maybe we could at least acknowledge each other? Wave or smile when we pass instead of looking away?

Me: I can try that. I’m glad you called—even though I’ve had a good life so far, it did always weigh on me. You really hurt me, but I’m glad to hear that you’re recognizing that and moving on too.

A: I guess I’ll see you around?

Me: Yeah, I guess you will.

A: Bye Lauren.

Me: Bye A.


Part of an ongoing series of projects.

#27 Take a Picture of the Sun

Part of an ongoing series of projects.