The Soundtrack Matters

14 Aug

Recently I watched a 2011 New Zealand film called Love Birds. Frankly, I had low expectations. The title was dumb and the summary was even dumber.

The star rating implied that it was better than it looked, so I gave it a chance.

The best thing about this film, aside from the duck (which, according to a bird expert in the film, isn’t technically a duck at all) is the soundtrack. Queen songs were used so frequently and affectionately that the band felt like a supporting character.

This is not intended to be a movie review, although it is beginning to sound suspiciously similar to one, I will admit.

I felt compelled to point to this film as an example of how much of a difference a soundtrack can make.

Music can ruin a film when it is poorly chosen, heavy-handed, manipulative, or disconnected.

When film scores and soundtracks win awards we don’t always pay much attention.

We should.

Sound matters in film.

The people who made this film understood that… and so, what could have been a silly, forgettable cliché of a film became something else: an endearing, uplifting, and flat-out FUN film. It left me grinning.

I might even watch it again someday.

Creatures, Great and Small

30 Jun
Since moving to a small city in Nebraska, I have enjoyed the open space, the flora and fauna. Especially the fauna.
A woodchuck (also known as a groundhog)
Four or five skunk-ettes, scampering nose-to-tail behind their mother, in the grass near my workplace, stripes perfectly aligned…if only I had my camera and wasn’t traveling at 40 miles per hour at the time of sighting!
Wild turkeys and deer, both plentiful and known for their automobile collisions
A badger — a dead one, sadly
Stealthy beavers — I can only see their homes, I confess
Rabbits and chipmunks
Herons and cardinals
Let us not forget the domesticated critters — the sheep, the horses, the ostriches, the goats, the chickens, the peacocks…
Lovely, all of them.
Then there are the excessively large animals. Godzilla, King Kong and their many inflatable friends…they migrate to this habitat every year, shortly before July 4th…

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Photos of The Atomic Age

3 Apr

The atomic era exhibit at a local museum showed me some fascinating elements of the life of another generation.

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Nothing More Than Feelings

24 Feb

This animal is expressing some feelings about my camera.

We are still talking about guns. The discussion on guns misses the point entirely, in my opinion.

I read about murders and assaults in the news nearly every day. Outside of war, most of them involve only one or two people. The police always check out family, friends, and business partners first. What does that tell you?

Why do people kill each other? Why do they assault each other?

There are a few reasons — including greed — but mostly it comes down to strong feelings that people don’t know how to handle.

I have been reading the stories for as long as I can remember…

A young woman was killed because she turned down a marriage proposal.

A girl’s hair was set on fire by a peer who was not invited to a party.

A man set his son on fire because of a divorce/custody dispute.

The stories are different but they are all the same.

People who cannot accept emotional pain. People who cannot live with having been wronged. People who judge others, who blame others, who want to punish others.

These are the people who commit violence on a daily basis.

Gun regulation is easier to accomplish than emotional regulation.

But…emotional regulation is the only solution.

Teach your children how to process their feelings. Teach them that they are stronger than they think. Show them examples of those who have overcome adversity, those who are happy in spite of all that has gone wrong with their lives, those who are loved when they thought they were unloveable.

Teach them the meaning of the word NO.

Teach them to work through their disappointment, shame, or humiliation.

Teach them that pain is temporary, just like joy.

Teach them that others are vulnerable, just as they are.

Teach them that anger can be productive or destructive.

Teach them that negative emotions are part of life and must be recognized and managed.

Feathers, Sequins, and Sailor Hats, Oh My!

27 Jan

Sometimes you just need to laugh.

This gallery of absurdly bad “glam” photos show made my day!

(Click on the link below)

http://photos.ellen.warnerbros.com/galleries/hot_glam_girl

On the Subject of Gifts

2 Jan

I am reflecting on the nature of gifts.

I favor practical gifts, both for myself and others. Give me something I can use and I am happy. Children generally do not favor practical gifts.

My theory about children’s negative view of “needed” items: they view “needed” items as things they receive outside of gift giving, and therefore feel they have been cheated out of a “real” gift.

On the other hand, as adults, we buy our own needed items and it can be a bothersome errand. As I do most of the shopping for the family, I view a practical gift as a time saver (no shopping!) and money saver (I don’t need to buy it myself), plus a space saver (it will very likely already have a place in the home, especially if it is replacing an old item of the same type). That is a lot of saving! What could be better?

When it comes to children’s gifts on a budget, need can intersect with fun if one thinks creatively.

For example, if my kids need shirts because they grow like weeds, I give them gifts of shirts representing their special interests (Star Wars, for example) and these shirts become favorite shirts instead of rejected “needed” items.

Some of my favorite practical gifts I have received in my life include: soft socks for sleeping in, moisturizing cream and bath products, a GPS, cookware and recipes, blankets and bed sheets, Christmas tree ornaments, a CD of “calming” music, storage containers, a leather change purse, hand knit scarves and gloves and hats, and baskets with favorite food items.

I recently received a creative “family” gift from my sister-in-law: a “movie night” kit, with a movie rental card, popcorn, soda, candy and so on. Great idea, right?

I recently read about some special quilts given by a widowed father to his daughters, crafted from portions of selected clothing belonging to their late mother, so that they may feel close to her and remember her every time they use them. Sentimental and practical all at once.

My best gift giving advice: think of what will be meaningful and useful to the recipient. Don’t try to impress. Small and sincere does the job. We can all tell the difference between a gift that expresses the care of the giver and a gift that expresses, “Look at this flashy item I found on sale!”

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

Different

29 Dec

I have been reflecting on the fundamental differences between different people and what happens when we make the mistake of thinking everyone is the same — or that they should be.

I am an introvert. Some people do not know what this means, although nearly half the population is introverted. We don’t call attention to ourselves as extroverts do. A book called Quiet: the Power of Introverts in a World That Can’t Stop Talking  gave me much to think about.

I was still thinking about the book when I watched a film called The King’s Speech. In the film, two sons of a king are both unsuited for the throne they stand to inherit. One is unable to sacrifice his personal desires for the sake of social rules. The other is uncomfortable with public speaking, due to an unfortunate lifelong stuttering problem.

As I watched the streaming film, my internet connection became repeatedly interrupted so that I could watch only a few moments at a time. The screen had a stutter of its own. This affected my viewing of the film, but added, I think, another dimension to it. I felt that I had an additional understanding of the frustration of the family and friends of the title character, listening to his fractured communication, as I watched the fractured film. The idea of being a king or queen would thrill some but horrify others. I fall in the latter category, in case you can’t guess.

A friend of mine wrote something about the harmful nature of “unsolicited advice“, which is another way of saying “telling others how to live their lives”. I responded that I think unsolicited advice often comes from those who believe others will benefit in the exact same ways from whatever worked for them. If a woman has thoroughly enjoyed the experience of pregnancy and parenthood, she may think that every woman should become a mother. If she has achieved much wealth and personal satisfaction from working in the financial sector, she may think everyone should apply for such employment. Well intentioned advice, perhaps, but thoughtless, unhelpful, and self-centered.

Should we all live the same life, hold the same job, raise our children the same way? I do not believe so. Do we all have the same inclinations, abilities, and traits? Of course not.

I like the title of the book Quiet because this is a term that has often been used to describe me. “You’re so quiet.

The term is accurate, and yet it is used almost exclusively by strangers. Anyone who knows me feels no need to describe me this pointless and impolite way. It would be like commenting on my obvious physical characteristics. Imagine someone who has known you for years saying, “Your hair is so brown!” or, “Your feet are so small today!”

Those who do not know me, unless they are quiet themselves, often see my quietness as a reflection of my mood or my response to them. Am I depressed? Am I bored? Do I distrust them?  They do not consider that quietness is simply a part of my innate character. They certainly are not complimenting me, with the exception of one or two men from foreign countries in which quietness is a more desirable trait than it is in this culture.

We are all different.

Some are loud, some are quiet. Some constantly seek more in life, while others are content with whatever they have. Some are anxious, some are calm. Some are leaders, some are followers. Some are big, some are small. Some are dark, some are pale. Some make jokes, others are serious.

We all contribute something different to the world.

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