Thursday, March 29, 2012

Song Binge

How many times can you listen to a song you love? The answer is many, many times. Likely hundreds. It’s not hard to do because a good song is addicting. For a brief time, a song you love will take over your ears and that’s all you seem to want to listen to, and then slowly you become less attached to it until one day you no longer listen to it. Maybe months or years later, you rediscover the song you loved and you listen to it for a while, until once again your interest in it dwindles away into oblivion, replaced by newer shiner songs.

Most songs tend to be transitory in nature; they’re like trends, whose stays are brief and bright and then quickly forgotten. This is especially true for mainstream songs that tend to be unavoidable; they cover the radio airwaves, appear in the stores you shop in and show up on the television. I find that if I like a mainstream song that I often don’t have to buy it, because by the end of its popularity reign (that has surrounded me for months), I’ll be too tired of it to feel the need to listen to it any longer.

The songs I usually purchase are the songs that aren’t played everyday on all the radio stations—or perhaps not even played on the radio at all. I’m forced to get that reclusive song so I can listen to it, and then I’ll inevitably overplay it myself until I’m sick of it. And I will get sick of it. I can’t help but overdose on the song I love until I find my next song fix.

Tuesday, March 27, 2012

Trash or Trash to Become Treasure

I have a bad habit of collecting stuff. I’m not talking about having a stamp collection or a rock collection, I’m talking about the collection of random items that I think I may be able to use in some way. The realist in me realizes that I don’t have space for the stuff I have let alone the stuff I end up collecting, but I can’t seem to help myself. I like the potential of usefulness, so I’ll keep the oddly shaped glass spice jar or the interestingly constructed chocolate box or whatever other items I think could repurpose in some way.

That’s how I ended up with this large mail bag; a coworker asked if I wanted one of these bags that had been sent to the office and I immediately said yes. I liked the black and white design that was very simple and bold, and of course I liked the crown (I mean how much more British can we get?). I thought the bag was interesting and in the back of my mind I thought I could make it into something.

So without a plan I took it home, and it’s just sat in a corner ever since—waiting to be used. I’ve been fairly lazy and haven’t gotten around to doing anything with it yet (that includes the good wash it needs to get the worst of the grime off). [Sigh.] Yet I’ll have to think of something, otherwise my trash with potential may just end up in the trash—and that’s something I’d like to avoid because I just know there’s some way to repurpose this bag to my liking. [Pause.] I just need to figure out the how.

Thursday, March 22, 2012

So You Think it’s Spring

One day after months of dreary winter weather, you suddenly notice long-awaited signs of spring. You see trees with blooming pops of color and daffodils springing from the ground and it makes you smile because it’s the promise of oncoming spring. And you’re ready for it. You’re sick of the grayness and gloom that winter brings. And while spring in Oregon still means clouds and rain, it also means longer days, warmer weather and perhaps even some sunny days.

A couple of weeks ago I had this moment when I looked up and saw a lovely cloud of pink cherry blossoms, and I thought “Yes, spring is on the way.” My assumption was further confirmed when soon after we had sunny and warm weather for a whole two days. But little did I know that Mother Nature was playing a nasty trick on us Oregonians—teasing us with the illusion of spring only to snatch it from our hopeful hands.

Tuesday was officially the first day of spring, and yet it hasn’t been very spring-like here. It’s been cold and wet and rainy (which I tend to expect), but it’s been colder than I would like, cold enough that there’s been snow. Yes, the dreaded snow. [Sigh.] I don’t know what happened. I was all ready for spring, and then unwelcome snow assaulted me on the way home yesterday and I woke today to find snow covering the ground. I really hope that this is the last cold snap of the season because I’m ready to move on from winter—and I hope Mother Nature is ready as well (for real this time).

Thursday, March 15, 2012

A Good Movie Can be Made Bad

One of my favorite parts in Singing in the Rain is when there are technical difficulties during the film they’re watching and the actor’s voices are switched. This comical moment helps to illustrate an important point—voices matter. And while I find this scene highly amusing, in general, a dubbed movie or TV show makes me cringe (internally as well as externally). I find it beyond distracting that the lips don’t match the words coming from them, but most of all it brings down the quality of any movie or TV show because it loses an essential part of itself.

A good movie can be made bad with bad dubbing. Actors were cast (hopefully) for their acting ability—and part of acting is speaking. The tone of voice, the inflections and the pauses are all important in capturing the feelings of a scene. Yet bad dubbing can overshadow everything else until all you can pay attention to are the terrible fake accents, poor pronunciation, a lack of emotion, an annoying tone of voice or just the wrong voice casting. Good dubbing at least tries to match the original voices in tone and feeling and is pleasant sounding enough that doesn’t distract you from the story. But even “good” dubbing will never compare to the original, as the original is the standard and the dubbed version is just a shadow of the original.

Perhaps I’m biased because I grew up watching a lot of subtitled movies and TV shows. I’m used to reading subtitles, but I realize there are many people who do not like to do so because they find it distracting or the subtitles are too fast for them. I suppose that’s why dubbing still tends to be more mainstream than subtitles. Yet, I think most people would be able to feel the difference in quality if they watched the same movie dubbed as well as subtitled, whether they would care about the difference or not, I guess that’s a separate issue. [Sigh.] But I care. Given a choice, I’ll always choose to watch something in its original language than dubbed.

Tuesday, March 13, 2012

The Book is Better

I have a difficult time watching movies based upon books I’ve read because I’m almost always disappointed. When you go into a movie knowing the plot, sometimes you keep waiting for an event to happen or a character to appear—only it never happens. Or sometimes they rewrite the story in a way that tries to condense the plot or they add characters that don’t belong that confuse you into wondering if this movie is really based upon that book.

I expect some plot edits since a movie can only fit so much in its allotted time constraints, but one aspect that can be especially painful to watch are actors that are utterly miscast. They look weird or they sound wrong or perhaps they just can’t act; basically, they are nowhere near the vision you had of the characters while reading the book. So every time miscast actors speak or show up in a scene you can't help but roll your eyes or sigh is distaste because it's so disappointing to watch characters you loved so much in your mind, come to life in such an unappealing way. 

No, watching a movie based upon a book you like is quite the difficult task because you have expectations that will unlikely be met. This is why I prefer to watch a movie in pure ignorance of the book; then I have a much better chance of enjoying the movie. And there are quite a few movies based on books that I like a lot. But whether I read the book before or after I watch the movie, a vast majority of the time if I had to choose which was better, I would choose the book because the book often has details and depth that cannot be translated in its entirety into a movie.

Thursday, March 8, 2012

DIY: Plastic Canvas Candle Wrapper

Candles create a soft and warm ambiance on their own, but I thought I could make a wrapper that could play with the light. Made with plastic canvas, this candle wrapper is quick and easy to make and the holes create a pretty effect on the light.

Tuesday, March 6, 2012

Let’s Forgo the Pleasantries

Pleasantries are meant to help social interactions be more pleasant—and sometimes they work and other times it just feels like extra work in being pleasant. For those of us in the U.S., one of the most inevitable questions, whether at work, with friends or at the grocery store is: “How are you?” How many times a day is this question asked and answered? (Sometimes it feels like a million.)

Most of the time “How are you?” just seems to fall out of your mouth before you even realize what you’re saying, and often the response is the expected: “I’m fine.” [It’s expected since rarely does a person roll out a monologue of how horrible life is (no that in-depth negative response is reserved for close family and friends).] Often, pleasantries are exercises in going through the motions of caring. Do we care when we ask another how they’re doing? I think the answer is almost always: not really. In part because the question is asked so often that it loses its value of being a question worth asking.

While somewhat mindless, this "How are you?" question and answer exchange not only gives the illusion of caring, but often acts as a precursor to an actual conversation—so I guess it has its purpose. And while pleasantries can be useful, often times I’d just like to forgo them altogether. [If I asked how you were yesterday, do I have to do it again today? I mean, how much really changes in a day? (Sigh.).] Yet social etiquette frowns upon ignoring those pleasantries that are so ingrained in us, so I guess I’ll just have to withstand a lifetime of the question “How are you?” just like everyone else.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

DIY: Plastic Canvas Sign

One of the nice things about plastic canvas is that it’s durable, waterproof and inexpensive. I thought I could cut out letters from a plastic canvas sheet to create a sign; it’s not terribly difficult to make and the letters can be small or as large as the plastic canvas sheet itself.