Archive | January, 2011

Two Fantasy Travel Movies

13 Jan

The return to the forsaken middle school was always imminent throughout the holiday break. I suppose I took my freedom for granted, but now it’s too late. Christmas is over. It’s 2011. School is in session. Needless to say, I miss the holidays already. I can only look back and smile. I remember two movies I saw over the break: The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader and Gulliver’s Travels. These are both movie adaptations of fantasy travel-themed books. I’ll start with the latter.


Promotional Poster for the movie. Break free of the strings, Gull!

Gulliver’s Travels


Rating: 3 out of 5 stars.


Jack Black, renowned funny guy, has acted/voice acted in a lot of movies before, but this is his first time producing one. All in all, not bad for the first try.  It is not entirely like the original book, but they revised it to fit the present day. (Watch for the hundreds of pop culture references.)


The movie stars Lemuel Gulliver, a guy who’s worked in the mail room of a newspaper for 10 years. One day, he tries to get at least one thing done: Ask out the cute travel editor Darcy Silverman. Instead, he chickens out (I can relate) and instead takes an application form for a travel writer job. The next day, he returns with a few (plagiarized) sample articles. He gets an assignment right off the bat to go out to the Bermuda Triangle. Boy, does he get lost! After sailing through rough water into an upward whirlpool, he finds himself in the land of Lilliput, where everyone is about five inches tall and British. He at first, is treated like a monster, but through a strange turn of events, he becomes a hero, much to the dismay of Lilliputian General Edward. Gulliver soon reshapes Lilliput into a modern-day metropolis, where he is treated like the great hero he said he is. Needless to say, he lied. I’ll leave the rest to moviegoers. (Me no like spoilers.)

Comedy is common, but sometimes it seems like it goes a while without a chuckle. Some of the dialogue and emotions can seem a little hollow, too. But all in all, this movie is pretty good.

Another promotional poster. A dragon, a lion, a boat - this poster has everything!

The Chronicles of Narnia: Voyage of the Dawn Treader


Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars


The fifth book in the renowned Christian allegory series is now a movie. (My mom was particularly excited for this film, since it was the first Chronicles of Narnia she read.) In this chapter we say goodbye to some characters while bringing in a few new ones, most notably, Eustace Clarence Scrubb. (Have you ever heard such a horrid name?)

The older siblings Peter and Susan have moved to America, while Edmund and Lucy stay with their obnoxious cousin Eustace (The movie’s provider of comic relief) until WWII ends. Lucy and Edmund are looking at a painting of the great sea one day, and they think the ship in it looks particularly Narnian. Right on cue, The painting starts spouting water. Lucy, Edmund, and unfortunately Useless, er, Eustace, are engulfed in the torrent of the leaky landscape. Next thing you know, they end up in Narnian waters. Their old friend Prince Caspian saves them and takes them back to his ship, the Dawn Treader. Eustace is mortified, what with being stranded on a boat in the middle of nowhere. Then he sees the abnormally-large talking rat Reepicheep. Oh yeah, and the minotaur. Anyway, Caspian and his crew are on a quest. They need to find seven lost Narnian lords. They also need to find a source of an eerie green mist and save the people it has been swallowing. Of course, the two are somehow linked. Each lord has or had a magic sword that can dispel evil. (Hmmm… Collecting seven magic swords… I have an idea for an RPG!) Through the battle against evil, they must combat the evil within themselves, and grow into heroes.

This movie has phenomenal effects, and a great plot. C.S. Lewis would definitely be proud of what his stories have become. Definitely my favorite Narnia film yet.


(Thx to Twentieth Century Fox Film Corp. for photos.)


A Poor Excuse for Art

7 Jan
Modern art thrives on shock value and controversy.  Fans of modern art adore bizarre exhibits.  The rest of us go home quietly disappointed. We are disappointed because the art was not beautiful. We are quiet because it is gauche to admit that we want art to be pretty–not just capable of provoking thought and emotion.
When I see art, I yearn to say, “Ah, I would love to hang that in my living room.”
Rusted wire mesh fails to fulfill my plebian criteria for art. So do bathroom fixtures and paintings of suffering people done in shades of brown.  Also offensive to my proletariat tastes are: broken objects, erotic images, and toys posing as sculpture. Come on! A bunch of rubber balls in a bowl?  They call that art? — Chris

I recently viewed “Harlequin Coat” by the artist Orlan who (for some reason) requires only one name.  Her art left me feeling dissatisfied.  The floor of the exhibit was covered in colorful triangles in which the words “secularism,”  multiculturalism,” “recycled,”  “suture,” and “hybridization” were written.  Clear plastic chairs were arranged in a circle around the room.  Upon each was draped an outfit of clothing, recycled from Orlan’s wardrobe.   A harlequin garment was displayed in the center.  On the walls, hovering sideways, were pictures of people, some partially dressed, with their backs turned.  Rather than the intended message, the one I received was of “disembodiment.” A video that accompanied the exhibit displayed text including the words “blood, skin, flesh, bones, nerves.”  This gory sensationalism is a poor excuse for art.

Harlequin Coat exhibit

Orlan is best known for earlier performances in which she received elective surgery, being operated upon and altered in appearance, using her own body as a medium of sculpture.  (She currently sports two strangely positioned cheek implants — one over each eyebrow.)  Eager photographers attended her surgeries, where Orlan wore designer clothes, smiled and seemed to enjoy sharing the whole grisly spectacle.  As part of “Harlequin Coat,” she arranged to have some of her own cells biopsied for the exhibit, but I was mercifully unaware of this fact until after I left.

Orignially uploaded by pashasha on

Orlan with face implants.

When self-imposed mutilation becomes the vehicle to an artist’s fame, is there any doubt that the actual art will fail to live up to the hype?  Without the presence of Orlan, herself, in her teased, black and white Troll Doll hairdo and freakish features, the art failed to impress me. Her odd, ugly exhibit reminded me of a hospital room in which patients disrobe prior to surgery.  In real life, most patients are gripped by fear; many are fighting for their lives.  It is pathetic to see Orlan twist what is usually a medical crisis into an opportunity to push her political viewpoints.  If it’s sensationalism you’re looking for, it’s better to watch an episode of “Nip Tuck.”  At least it’s not pretentious. — Chris

Ryan:    How is it that people are willing to go to such drastic measures just to be recognized as an artist? Artists like Orlan feel like it’s their duty to force-feed us their opinions through twisted, junky, or sometimes just plain uncreative artwork. In Kansas City, at the Nelson-Atkins Museum of Art, the realistic pieces were breathtaking in their attention to detail and their beautiful colors.  Much of the abstract art was gorgeous as well.  What shocked me was the contemporary art downstairs.

In the lower level, some of the paintings and sculptures were almost as wonderful as those upstairs.  However, most looked like something a college kid would throw together with junk that he or she found in his or her attic. Whether or not this is what the artists actually did, their art seemed to leap off of the canvas, and not in a mystifying way, but more like a serial killer jumping out of dark shadows to snatch a victim.

When one feels the need to shock onlookers to draw attention to one’s art, that is when one begins to fail as an artist. Orlan, with her freaky cheek implants on her forehead, proves that people aren’t impressed by “in your face” art, only quality art.   Mona Lisa, perhaps the most famous piece of art of all time, is memorable for her kind expression and gentle features set on a backdrop of mysterious foggy woodland. This effect would have had much less impact if she had sprouted forehead growths (like Orlan) or was sitting in the middle of a massacre.  Gore is a bore.

Modern art suffers from other problems. While some paintings are lush in creativity, others bear resemblance to a paint swatch.   Is it necessary that I point this out to the world?  A white rectangle set in a black background is about as interesting as listening to Uncle Vernon talk about his hemorrhoids. I’ve seen my younger cousin make better splatter art when he threw up on my aunt. At least THAT was entertaining.

Although Orlan receives most of the disparagement in this article, she is only a drop in the sea of artists deserving such criticism. Another display at the Nelson Atkins art museum featured a piece of art that looked like someone had dropped peas on the floor the night before ,decided to magnify them, and set them on a backdrop of sky blue. 

I think it bears resemblance to a flying peas monster.

This piece of art has detail and dimension and all of those great things, but it lacks two properties of great art–purpose and common sense. To me it seems a shame that an artist would spend his time painting flying vegetables mushed up to resemble nothing at all. This art serves no practical purpose, for it does nothing but catch the attention for a split second then send the viewer on his way. Besides, why would anyone in his or her right mind even bother painting something like this? While I am not completely opposed to calling a work of art “Untitled,” the artist must realize that if he or she doesn’t even know what to call a piece of art, it becomes bunk, leaving less of an impression on the viewer and an unsure void in the artist’s mind.

In short, it isn’t the modern art that bothers me as much as the modern artist. When social commentary and political paintings aren’t enough to keep art students busy, perhaps then they resort to un-realistic, seemingly multi-dimensional paintings. While not ALL modern art deserves to be railed against, some paintings are just frustrating to look at and whatever goes through the artist’s mind, it most often fails to be realized by the viewer. The artist’s own arrogance, when trying to prove something, is almost infuriating. When an Average Joe sees the piece, hardly ever does he realize the “message,” and then the artist has succeeded in making a fool out of him. Not everyone can be an artist, but most schmucks can be modern artists.-Ryan

Now who can tell me which one of these is a paint swatch, and which one is the work of art, Untitled No. 11, 1963, by Mark Rothko?


(Paint Swatch)


Leaving Make-Up Behind

6 Jan

How important is your precious make-up bag to you?  Do you think you could survive an entire week without a streak of blush, or dollop of colorful eye shadow?  As difficult as it may sound, I, Grace, did in-fact live to see another day, after seven days make-up free.

It was winter break and my entire family was going to Arkansas to celebrate the holidays.  I always feel guilty (kind of) for bringing numerous bags of

Originally uploaded by miansart on

I don’t overpack, I just pack what I need! Which is everything including the kitchen sink.

clothing, make-up, and other knick-knacks, and so I decided to limit my self to two suitcases.  My family members all tormented me for over-packing…once again, but the most important thing left behind was all of my beauty products.

Normally, for make-up, I wear a thin line of eggplant colored eyeliner, a quick swipe of black mascara, and a good dose of sparkly pink or copper eye shadow.  Sometimes I smear a touch of light blush across the apples of my cheeks, too.

While on my trip, my mom, aunt, and girl cousins all had on make-up and beauty products galore.  But as the vacation progressed, I felt more satisfied going all natural, and giving my skin a rest.

The cool Arkansas air was practically therapeutic to my face, all I truly needed was a good long walk alone to examine my conscience and get in touch with what all of the make-up was covering up.  I felt closer to Mother Nature, and I was also more aware of my surroundings.  I wasn’t constantly worried if my mascara had been smudged, or if my eyeliner was wearing off.  It was almost like I was more connected to the real me, and honestly, it felt amazing.

My family didn’t care what my face looked like either, and even though everyone else was coated in make-up, I didn’t feel the urge to fit in with the crowd.  To be with my entire family and having a grand time and enjoying their company, is what really mattered.  Sometimes I think that having to grieve over what you look like on the outside can change who you are on the inside.

The situation was easier for me because I was around family and strangers while in Arkansas, not in a bustling middle school full of people eager to judge you on the way you look.  But if you don’t wear make-up, why should anyone care?   Guys do not wear any make-up, so why do girls?  Is it that females are expected to be more beautiful than males, and so they must “enhance” their normal self, to be considered pretty?

One of the benefits of trying to live a week without make-up was the increase of my self-esteem. I felt more confident with the way I looked, but I also noticed a difference in my complexion.  Giving my skin a breather from all of the paint and goop I usually layer on to my skin had great results.  My face felt smoother and softer than ever!    I do still wear make-up to school, but on the weekends I feel no need to.  Also, my friends don’t care what I look like, so I go natural when I spend time with them.

Originally uploaded by iniuppa on

Can a girl ever have too much make-up?

So, if you think you are up to the challenge of trying to live 1 week, 7 days, 168 hours, 10,008 minutes, or 604,800 seconds, without make-up, give it a shot!  It was a fun and enjoyable experience, but you might want to start off just around family and friends, or just on the weekends.  If you do decide to try this vicious dare I have bestowed upon you, let me know how it went!  It is always fun to do something new and you might learn something from it, so why not try it?!  I am glad I left my make-up behind.  Now, the important question: Are you up to the daunting task?


Brainstorm Umbrella

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