Month: April 2014

How to be Mormon and like Movies

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So clearly you are all aware that I love movies. I know a lot of you could live without them and prefer reading but I like both and I’ll tell you why.

Reading is like the cross country race of storytelling.  You really dive into the characters and setting for weeks, sometimes months.  There’s a real dedication to a book; whereas, a movie is 2 hours with people and their stories.  There are a lot of people I don’t mind spending 2 hours with that I wouldn’t want to have hanging around me for 2 weeks.  It’s a different standard.

Also, a book you have an experience colored from 2 perspectives- your own and the author (or protagonist).  A movie has so many different voices all involved in making the story happen.  You have a director, cinematographer, actor, writer etc- all bringing something different to create the story and art.

Television is like an in-between of movies and books because you live with the characters but are still getting the varied perspective.

So, if you want to understand our culture and people I think it is important to be well-versed in all 3 storytelling mediums (and music as well but that is less primarily a storytelling device) .

However, this desire can create a problem for some that are like me and want to watch compelling stories, but do not want to sully our standards and faith.  We want to see better than the made-for-Christian variety of entertainment, but don’t want to verge too close to the morality cliff.

It invites the question- how can you be a Christian (or Mormon in my case) and like movies?

First, there is a great article in the Ensign (church magazine) by Academy Award winning director Keith Merrill where he gives a much more thorough answer to this question than I could give.  I recommend reading it. https://www.lds.org/ensign/1981/04/i-have-a-question

He starts off by talking about the rating  system.  How it is decided, what content makes an R, PG, G, X (this was before PG-13).  He says:

“How then, does one select appropriate film entertainment? A more efficient rating system would help, but it would still fail.. Ultimately, there is no rating system that will satisfy every person’s individual standards.

Your personal individual standards.

In another section of the church website we are told:

“Like other forms of media, movies and television can offer much that is informative, uplifting, and appropriately entertaining. However, many movies and television programs can be spiritually damaging as inappropriate behaviors and viewpoints are depicted as normal”

So, the brethren tell us that movies can be entertaining and informative and uplifting (doesn’t have to be all 3).  It is up to us to decide what is spiritually damaging.

Keith Merrill tells us how to make these choices:

“It remains for each of us to sort through word-of-mouth reports, media reviews, publicity, and then compare what we find with our own conscience. The only reliable standards are the ones we set for ourselves, guided by our quest for perfection and inspired by the principles of the gospel”

Setting a standard for ourselves and sticking to it can be difficult but I’ve learned that it is worth the effort.  If I want to be confident in making wise media choices, I must analyze all the factors, and not rely on any one vetting option.  For example, some people say absolutely No R rated movies and that is fine for them, but I think it could give a false confidence in the non-R movies making their research less diligent.

My personal standards for entertainment have been developed since I was in high school, and I did make some mistakes along the way. However, as a whole I have been able to enjoy movies and being a movie fan, without endangering my worthiness.

Here’s what I’ve learned

Rachel’s Personal Standard-

1. Screen-it.-

I believe in using the resources we have available and for only $25 a year a membership at http://www.screenit.com will tell you briefly or an insane amount of detail anything in the movie you might find offensive or disturbing.  They put stuff on there that I don’t know if anyone finds offensive like if a baby spits up.  If you don’t want to be spoiled but want a basic idea they have a content summary and a suggested audience for all new movies and many older films.  Screen-it is my first step in deciding to see a movie.

2. Reviews-

Watch a few critics.  Find someone you trust and get a feel for the type of content they recommend.  This will give you a general idea if they love edgy movies those probably are one’s to stay away from.  If they say something is violent than I would avoid it.  Most critics are not Christian based but they still give clues to the values in a movie and if there is anything particularly disturbing.

Check out friend of the blog Forest Hartman’s great DVD blog. http://foresthartman.com/

If you follow a critic on twitter or other social media ask them about the movie and they may respond.  Couldn’t hurt.  I actually did that with 12 Years a Slave.  I asked several critics if I should see it including Forest. .

There are also lots of parents review sites like the Popcorn Parents http://www.chesapeakefamily.com/blog/movies-a-dvds

3. Ask Friends and Family-

Gather some word of mouth about the movie.  Ask people you trust to spill the beans on content.  This can help you understand context and tone, which plays a lot into the offensiveness of an item.  If someone is about to get shot in a WWII movie perhaps language isn’t as shocking as someone who stubs their toe.

One of the hardest movies for me to gauge recently was 12 Years a Slave.  The critics actually freaked me out because they talked about how violent it was.  Screen-it didn’t really help me because a lack of context to the list of events.  I kept hoping that one of my friends would see it and let me know but none of them did.  I finally decided I needed to take the bullet and see it and I’m glad I did.

4. Learn Your Movie Weaknesses-

I’ve made 4 bad movie decisions in my life that taught me a lot.  The first was in 2001.  Everyone was talking about Moulin Rouge and being a musical lover I was very tempted.  I still love the music, but I knew the story was explicit.  It was back at a time when I believed in the rating system so I rationalized watching it was ok because it was PG-13.  (stupid).

The first time I saw it I was kind of bowled over.  It was unlike any film I had ever seen, and I was very excited.  So much so that I ignored all of the offensive content and just focused on the bright colors and music.  A friend of mine had been debating about going and I sold her on it (ie why word of mouth can be wrong!).  We went, and with her as my guest, I noticed every offense.

I was so embarrassed I had brought my friend to this movie with horrible content.  She was upset with me and rightly so.  Lesson learned. I know my weakness is music.  I will put up with a lot for great music so I am exceptionally careful when it comes to the modern musical and honestly most have failed my test.  I enjoyed Hairspray but most I chose to not see.

5. Trust Your Gut-

My second bad movie decision was in 2008.  I knew I would regret seeing the Dark Knight.  I knew it was violent and dark and that the Joker was an all too convincing villain.  My gut told me to avoid the movie as violence sticks in my head for weeks.  Other people it doesn’t seem to bother them but  I can see a preview for a Lifetime movie on a killer and it give me the creeps for weeks.

But everyone I knew LOVED the Dark Knight.  Even my father had seen it, and he never goes to the movies.  My younger siblings saw it, and they liked it.  All of my friends prodded and pushed me to see it.   They didn’t mean to challenge my beliefs, but they had enjoyed it, and wanted me to have the same exciting experience.  I totally get that.

Finally after about 6 months I gave in and watched it.  I regretted it then and still do now.  It was too violent.  The imagery was too ghastly and evil.  I didn’t have a good spirit while watching it and I didn’t feel right. You can say it is a ridiculous and pathetic reaction but that was how I felt (again personal standards here).  It was just an incredibly unpleasant experience, and I wish I could remove those images from my mind. I shouldn’t have finished it but at the point where the Joker puts the pencil through the guys face I needed some kind of redemption or it would haunt me even worse.

It was a huge mistake, and I will never make it again.

6. Walk Out-

I’ve only walked out of 2 movies in my life.  The first was Drop Dead Gorgeous, which you guys know is my most hated movie ever.  It is cold, disgusting and repulsive.  It actually made me cry I was so disturbed by it.  You can read more details about it’s depravity here (don’t watch it) https://smilingldsgirl.com/2014/01/31/best-and-worst/

It’s just so sick in its view of human nature and femininity and everything else.  I was on a date when I went, and I left my date and friends in the theater and went into the lobby and cried.  It wasn’t even worth staying around for a cute boy! That’s saying something! 🙂

The other movie I walked out on is called Superstar, and I only lasted about 10 minutes.  There was a scene where an actor was clearly trying to portray a Jesus character and it was so offensive I couldn’t tolerate it.

That’s another piece of advice- have your line in the sand and then stick with it.  My line is I will not watch anything that openly mocks Jesus.  That is too far.

So, that’s the movies I have walked out. of.  Both were stupid to even start watching but it was at the $1 theater before I had my system in place.  These days most bad movies I am kept away from by the critics (reason I could never actually be a critic).

7. Offensive or Mature-

Slumdog Millionaire was a real game-changer for me  It was a mature movie with some graphic things happening to children and characters but none of it was offensive or gratuitous .  It all felt like part of the story.  There are lots of things that I don’t want anyone under 17 to see without another adult present.  It’s mature content but I don’t think it is offensive.

Schindler’s List was a mature film and the behaviors depicted were at times offensive, but I was not offended by the movie.  That’s the blurry line best determined by word of mouth.  If you are lucky enough to have friends who have seen a movie pick their brain to see if it is mature or offensive.  Most of the time this applies to dramas as most offensive comedy is just offensive but still worth determining.

8. It is Worth It-

Some might say ‘why bother’?  It’s too much risk for entertainment.  Others simply don’t care about movies and that’s fine.  For those of us that like the medium of story telling through movies I say it is worth it. I can honestly say that my life would be less colorful and beautiful if I did not have movies in it.

If I said ‘that’s it I’m never seeing another movie again’ than I would miss going to space with Gravity, or recovering from a Tsunami in The Impossible, or see an amazing love story in Silver Linings Playbook.  I wouldn’t have reminisced about my high school years with Perks of Being a Wallflower or basically had my life narrated by endless Nora Ephron quotes.  All of that would be gone and I would be sad.

That doesn’t even count the artistry and beauty I’ve seen like in The Artist or 500 Days of Summer.  The lives I’ve gotten to dive into like The Descendants or Friends with Kids. Not too mention the total fantasy words you can enter that are much more vividly portrayed than anything I could conjure up (not the greatest imagination for worlds).

My life would be less vibrant without movies so I have my personal standards and they allow me to enjoy responsibly.

9. You Won’t See Everything-

I always have to remind myself there are some films I’m not going to be able to see.  The personal standards I’ve developed won’t allow it.  It can be tempting when everyone is raving and the performances look good but don’t give in.  In that case, it isn’t worth it.  Your standards are more important than entertainment.  When you get to the judgement day you aren’t going to be able to say ‘well, it was nominated for an Oscar’…

A great example of this for me is Martin Scorsese.  I have only seen one of his movies, Hugo.  All of his other movies are loaded with profanity, so much so, I can’t justify a viewing.  Others can, that’s fine. No judgement from me. Like I said earlier it’s a personal decision.  (You might recall his recent Wolf of Wall Street had 508 f words.  )

I have the same problem with Tarantino.  I’ve never seen his movies because the language and violence is too much.  They look intriguing and sometimes I am tempted, but no I can’t do it.

Like I said, everyone has to decide what they feel comfortable with and then stick to it.

What are your feelings on content and the movies?  What strategies do you use?  What personal standard have you developed?  What’s the worst movie you’ve ever seen?  The best?  Do you think movies are important to see?

 

 

Heroism and Weight Loss

fat-supermanI’ve been thinking about writing this post for some time.  Everyone who reads this blog is probably aware of my distaste for weight loss in the media.  I know many find shows like the Biggest Loser to be encouraging but for me they are the opposite.

What bothers me is they paint fat people as bad, and reformed fatties as good and that just isn’t true.   As I often say,  ‘a lot of people lose weight in prison’… Losing weight is hard enough without having these types of morality judgments thrown in our face.

So that’s media but this post is a slightly different take.  I would like to talk about how we as a culture often couch weight loss in heroic terms and how this is almost never helpful.

Just the other day I was watching a show and the reporter asked the man how he had ‘overcome his heroic battle with weight loss’.  This is not uncommon phraseology for our average conversation. All of us, including myself, have used such phrases when talking about weight loss.

What’s wrong with that you ask? I mean losing weight is really hard.  Why is that not heroic?

Well, let’s start with some definitions-

Over on about.philosophy.com author Kendra Cherry asked her readers How Do You Define Heroism?  Pretty much every response is something like this:

“A hero is a person who would risk life and limb just to save people or a person. these people standout as brave intelligent and loving. these people need to be recognized”

So what are the elements of being a hero:

1. They are brave

2. They are worthy of recognition

3.  They are loving

4. They risk their own safety to help other people

It is this last aspect that is the most common thread in all the responses.  Another reader says:

“Heroism is when you act out of the kindness of your heart. Whether you’re helping someone on homework, or helping someone who got hurt, the main thing is that your helping someone who is having a hard time”

So, heroism clearly involves being unselfish and serving your fellow men and women especially when doing so is difficult.

indexHow does weight loss fit such a description?  I can’t think of any other change of appearance that is lauded in such ways.  For example, if someone gets a face lift they are often derided, criticized but I’ve rarely heard that when gastric bypass is done.  Why is one surgical enhanced change heroic and another isn’t?

You could say that gastric bypass is required where a face lift is not? Well, the research from the Health at Every Size movement would strongly disagree with that assertion, but even if you accept that gastric bypass is necessary I don’t see how it is heroic?  If I break my leg and have surgery on said leg (essentially fixing a problem in my body like GB) does that make me a hero?  No, it makes me a person with a broken leg that was fixed.

I can see no part of weight loss that involves risk to help other people. You can help people get in shape or encourage them to enter a race, but that’s not really the weight loss, that’s your service in the community and amongst your loved ones.  Anyone should be lauded who serves others no matter their size.  That is worthy of the hero label.

What about athletes? Who are they serving and we call them ‘sports heroes’?  One could argue such a term is misapplied to professional athletes but I would counter that most athletes are participating in a team or cause greater than just themselves.

For example, an Olympian is certainly worthy of individual applause but also their gift of performance on behalf of their country makes it worthy of the hero label.

There are a few sports like golf that are truly individual events and then I would say they aren’t really heroes but simply exceptional.  We like them because they are good at something and we are not. Nothing wrong with that!

But I hear you saying ‘Rachel it’s so hard.  Shouldn’t we be encouraging?’.  My answer is ‘of course, we should’.  However, there are lots of hard things we do in life that aren’t really heroic.  If I am a PHD candidate and I complete my thesis am I lauded as a hero? I’m encouraged, congratulated, cheered but unless there’s a disability or something extraordinary I rarely hear the kind of language we apply to weight loss for any other ‘hard thing’ in life.

Why? Because the diet industry in America is a 20 billion dollar industry.  They want you to spend money and what better way to get someone to spend money than to either make them feel really good or really bad about themselves.  A tepid, lukewarm person never bought anything.  They have a vested interest in convincing us that we need to change and that if we make said change we can be the hero.

Now, you might suggest that I am focusing on mere semantics and poor word choice.  I would argue back that according to the Huffington Post the average American woman has dieted 61 times by the time they are 45 and that’s starting at 16 (I would start much younger- 81% of little girls in America have dieted before the age of 10).

Assuming some marginal success in most of those diets, the average woman has been the hero 61 times,  and then fallen sometimes quite speedily off of her pedestal.  Then to make matters worse 35% of women gain more than they lost on said diet.

So, now we aren’t really a weight loss villain (to use the cannon of terms) that is probably reserved for sinful foods and the companies who pedal them but we are something even worse- the fallen hero.  I mean think about what that means.  61 times the average woman not only feels let down with her own frailties but is no longer the inspirational tool for her family and friends.  I’ve felt it and I bet most of you have too.  It is devastating.

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I actually remember one time my sister telling me ‘you can’t gain the weight back because then you wouldn’t be this person that we admire’.  She was very little and didn’t mean to hurt my feelings but is that not what all of us go through on the roller coaster of weight loss? 2012 I was at my peak of fitness and weight loss, then I had a personal crisis, chronic pain and a herniated disk in my back.  Things changed and so did my body.

I’m not making excuses.  That’s just what happened.  I felt guilty for a long time.  Like I’d let everyone down, which is insane when you really think about it.  What had changed was something in my body.  My other actions were exactly the same.  I still swam my races, I still blogged.  I still worked.  I still held book club and spent time with my friends.  I still traveled.  All of it.  I can’t think of one thing for other people I could do in 2012 and couldn’t or didn’t do in 2013.  So why did I seemingly let them down?

Because I wasn’t the hero anymore. 

That’s why this language about our bodies is so important.  It can have devastating repercussions that can make us feel like failures, and we already feel that way because of the way we look.  The language just piles on. And sometimes it is not just language.  I have friends who’s parents were vocally disappointed in them for their weight loss struggles. Instead of sympathy and encouragement they received pity and disgust.  (Luckily my parets have always been pretty good about letting me live my own life)

What worries me most is if being the fallen weight loss hero is hard for adults, imagine what it must feel like for a child who has so little control over his or her bodies in the first place?  That I do know.  I remember vividly the feeling of disappointment after diet, after diet, not only frustrated at not looking the way I wanted to, which is hard enough for a young girl, but letting everyone down in the process.  For goodness sakes, now these kids are even letting down the President.

So, in a perfect world where everyone took all of my advice what would I suggest? How would I encourage others in this hard thing called weight loss? I would treat it like the accomplishment of any other worthy goal.  ‘that’s great’, ‘I can see you worked very hard’, ‘great job’, ‘congrats’, ‘I’d love to go jogging with you’, or any number of responses without vaulting the person up as a hero because of the way they look.

What do you guys think? Have you felt like you were letting down people when you gain weight or fail to lose?  Do you think the hero narrative is helpful or hurtful?  Please share your experience, as this is just what makes sense to me.  Love you all!

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LDS Storymakers 2014 Day 2

So day 2 has come and gone at the LDS Storymakers conference and it perhaps wasn’t as memorable as yesterday but still great.

Started the day tired but with a lot of enthusiasium.
Started the day tired but with a lot of enthusiasm.

The first class was on Prepping for Nanowrimo- by John Waverly and Danyelle Ferguson.

They had some cute ideas and were an adorable couple.  A lot of it the advice was more tailored to a family but I just liked seeing them interact.

They went over the different styles- planning vs pantsers and how to deal with Thanksgiving which is helpful.  I’m really excited about my idea for this next Nanowrimo.  It’s going to be called:

How to be Alone- isn’t that a good title?  At least I’d be intrigued.

I liked that he said ‘give yourself permission to stink. Point of Nanowrimo is not to publish but to write.  Get it on the page’.  Love that.

Writing Great Short Stories-  by Angie Lofthouse

To be honest the class I wanted to go to was full so I went to this and it wasn’t bad.  A little dry but  fine.  She talked abotu what a short stories was and how the action had to start right away.

  1. Never begin your short story with backstory (begin with the action)
  2. Don’t start before the beginning of the story. Start with inciting incidents.
  3. Don’t use someone else’s world and characters
  4. Don’t worry about length of story when writing first draft

A lot of the classes I took today were more technical in nature and I think I enjoy the lighter one’s like the class on Jane Austen.  Next year I’m going to take more of those kind of classes.

Gesture Crutches- by Jordan McCollum

Jordan seems super cute and information was helpful but honestly I struggled to stay awake and my computer died half way through so I don’t have a ton of notes.

Basically if we use too many of the same adjectives and verbs to describe our characters it gets old quick.

Words to use when needed but not in excess

Nod, head shake, smile, eyebrows, shrug, eyes narrow, widen, light up and gaze

Basically avoid cliches and using the same words too much.

Next was lunch and it was blah, very disorganized by the hotel staff.  The food was not great at this event.

The rest of the conference was a lecture by

Crafting Character Arcs- Brandon Sanderson

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It was probably the best lecture of the conference and it lasted 2 hours but the time flew by.

It’s kind of funny because way back in 2005 I knew Brandon.  He was roommates with a bunch of my friends and we would go over there to watch Lost every week.

At the time he was getting ready to release his first book Elantris and he asked me to read it, so I did.  I’m normally not much into fantasy but I enjoyed.  If only I’d known I’d have gotten it autographed. 🙂

Anyway, Lost connection aside his lecture was great.  I think he did what everyone was hoping OSC would do yesterday.  He talked about characters needing:

1. Proactive- character makes choices

2. Competent- character is good at something

3. Sympathetic- has flaws and consequences we feel some sympathy for

Sometimes it is very little of one trait or the other but almost always some of each.

He also said “you want someone to be able to pick up your book, read a page, and be able to tell something about your character”

The last half of the lecture he did a Q and A and a lot of great advice about when to move on from a project, when to kill of a darling passage or scene, outlining vs starting raw, and how many projects to start at once.

He said “My biggest weakness was my unwillingness to revise. Had to learn in order to make characters alive give characters veto power over the outline”

I really liked how he talked about the promises you make your reader:

“Ask yourself how do I remain consistent to the promises I’ve made my readers so that my ending is fulfilling not out of nowhere?”  (Couldn’t help but think of How I Met Your Mother on that one…sigh)

Key to keeping promises is defining what they are along the way.

There was a lot more information but that was some of the highlights.  He is very engaging and funny so if you ever get a chance to hear him speak or lecture I’d recommend it.

Then we finished up with closing remarks and I had tickets to the banquet tonight but my back was hurting and as I hadn’t read any of the nominees this year I didn’t think the awards would be very much fun.  Instead I went to my hotel room, ordered room service and relaxed.  Tomorrow I think I will go for a swim and then head out.

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My friend Emilee is in my writing group and we had a good time hanging out and getting to know each other better. It was nice to know someone at the conference.
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Relaxed and absorbing all I learned!
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Got to live it up every now and then!

Perfect weekend! It inspired me to take a look at my nanowrimo projects and try to make them better and to work harder on this blog. I focused a lot on storytelling and hopefully you will see that in this blog.  Hopefully you will see some improvement in my writing.  That’s the goal at least.

Thanks for reading and thank you to all who worked hard to make the conference a success.  I look forward to next year!

 

 

LDS Storymakers 2014 Day 1

Day 1 of my little pied-à-terre has come to an end.  What a day!

It started very early for me driving up to Layton, a city I don’t believe I have ever spent a day in in all the years I’ve lived in Utah.

It’s hard for me to get started in the morning with my insomnia issues but I made it out the door and to the convention center in time for the first lecture.

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Lecture 1- Creating Compelling Villains by Stephanie Black.

I went to this class thinking of my first nanowrimo book that has a Miranda Priestly type villain (Devil Wears Prada) .

I think I was probably the only one there not writing young adult fiction (I bet 2/3rds of attendees are writing YA, yawn)

Nevertheless, I took some good notes and enjoyed it.

Lecture 2- Show Don’t Tell- the Macro and Micro Way by Annette Lyon

This was very helpful and something I’ve been working on.  I’m trying to not just say I’m excited but show how the excitement looked.

Lunch- Honestly the food was not great.  Who makes a ham sandwich with no lettuce?  But my friend from my little writing group was there and I had fun visiting with her and the other attendees

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Lecture 3- Giving and Receiving Feedback by Rosalyn Eves

Very helpful class as I can be a bit prideful when it comes to my writing and hearing feedback.  I’ve gotten better each year but some things are harder to hear than others.

I learned the difference between directive (blank praise or criticism) and facilitating comments (Tells you problem but also some ideas to fix it).  Some good strategies to provide both types of comments.

Lecture 4- How to Read like a Writer by Luisa Perkins

This teacher reminded me of my Mom.  I think they would get along quite well.  She talked about reading the books that change your life not settling for the candy.

Love this quote “If you do not read good books you have no advantage over the people who cannot read them” Mark Twain

Her words reminded me of a symposium I went to a few years ago where the teacher kept saying ‘at least the kids are reading’, but reading candy books.

https://smilingldsgirl.com/2012/01/18/writing-and-reading-for-children-and-teens/

I disagreed then and I disagree now.  We have a responsibility to at least try to elevate the level of reading for all around us and only then can we say ‘at least they are reading’.

The other interesting thing she mentioned is that she doesn’t have time for candy books because if she lives to 90 she has about 3500 books left to read in her lifetime.

This made me think.  If I live to be as old as my grandpa (84) and I read 35 books a year (I have goal for 1 non-fiction and 1 fiction each month but I think it is usually around 35).

So 35 books 51 years left= 1785 books left.

Isn’t that kind of nuts?  We ended the class with her saying ‘better make them count!’.

Lecture 5- Dissecting Jane by Sarah Eden

This was such a fun class.  We went through all the Jane Austen heroines and stories, dissecting why they have stood the test of time.  Why do they work?

Some reasons we discussed is how she allowed her characters to have real strengths and weaknesses and those traits had consequences.

Her characters also had choices that moves the stories along.  Always something likable or relatable about the characters.

She wrote about things she knew and was passionate about.

Lecture 6- Mormonism and Steampunk

This was definitely the most creative lecture but I enjoyed it.  Jules Verne, Conan Doyle both had Mormonism (although not always the most flatteringly) in their stories and they have influenced the movement.

It is set in neo-Victorian era and that is when the Mormon church started. He had some entertaining slides about the similarities even down to crafts

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Then we had dinner and it really wasn’t very good.  Tough meat, bland sauces, not enough food and apple pie with a strawberry on top?

Still, it’s food.  What are you going to do?

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My face after the keynote

Then we had the keynote and it was…different.  Orson Scott Card was the speaker and a lot of people were very excited.  I’ve read Enders Game and Sariah and enjoyed them but I wouldn’t say I’m a huge fan.

Sadly most left disappointed.  He rambled, was admittedly unprepared and some statements were baffling.  He kept making very broad generalizations about the church, saying boy scouts was the church’s attempt to get boys to stop learning and that basketball replaced books for young men.

He said that the church had no use for academics and that any intellectuals were relegated to putting away chairs.  He also talked about swearing, defecating, phallic symbols in awards, and stake presidents were often idiots. He also clearly hates the movie made of his book (and any covers) and has strong feelings about The Hunger Games.

Anyway, it was a bit of a bummer but he did say that being a Mormon was more important than anything else and that a dedication to family is all that really matters in life.  No writing will make up for that, so I’m trying to take that away from it.

At the very least he should know his audience.  It doesn’t make much sense to speak to a room of 643 LDS intellectuals about how the church doesn’t treat intellectuals very well.  He should have just stuck to writing.  He oddly didn’t talk about that all that much.  Sigh…My teacher for the Jane Austen class evidently walked out.  I have pretty thick skin so was able to glean something from it and not let it spoil the day, but I feel bad for his fans. One tweeted ‘never meet your heroes…’

I did enjoy tweeting during it (it was long and honestly I got bored and my back hurt).  Probably my best line of the night was:

best tweet

 

 

 

 

 

 

Pied-à-terre

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This weekend I am getting a little break.  A break from work, waiting, life and hopefully headaches. Tomorrow begins the 2014 LDS Storymakers writing conference in Layton, ,UT.  This is my second year attending and I am so looking forward to it.  I write more as a hobby than a career but I think I’d go even if I was just an avid reader.

I’m such a nerd that I actually miss taking classes and learning new things in college.  If I could think of something I wanted to study and had the money I would totally go back to school.  Yes, it is challenging but also very rewarding.

And yes, I could learn all of these things on my own without a conference or a degree, but I have found I always do better with such support in place.  That’s why I still take voice lessons because I know without them I wouldn’t sing and singing is important to me.

But I think even more than the learning I am grateful for the break.  I’ve taken  my fair share of long vacations and those are great too but there is something nice about a long weekend that gives you just a breather from ordinary life.

I think that is why I like movies, they are just a little break from life.  A novel or a TV show are a  a serious time commitment where a movie is just 2 hours to devote to a story.  I love that.

I’ve always liked the concept of the pied-à-terre.  This is a  word  (french for foot on the ground) that in real estate means a small second home that is meant for temporary stays and trips.  A lot of times you will see these types of homes in the cities like businessmen in Tokyo may have a pied-à-terre in the city when he works late while his primary lodging is a 45 minute drive home.

Ideally for me these types of homes are bare-bones, simple places that you wouldn’t want to live in full time.  The house my grandparents had in Hawaii was a good example (especially the cottage).  It wasn’t fancy, had no air conditioning and provided simple basic features.  It would be a challenge to live in that house full time but as a stop over to sleep and eat it served the purpose very well.

Granted most pied-à-terre are owned by very rich people and are not the type of places I am referring to.  This is more my idea of what I would want, what appeals to me.  I’d love to have a place that is simple, easy, and a break from everyday life.

It’s not a vacation but just a chance to change scenery for a day or two.   It’s organized, similar whenever you go, and easy, that is what I want in a break.  I don’t want to sweat or have sore feet or any of it.  I just want to rest, learn, swim and reflect.

My boss Kelly lives in Portland and they go up to Bend Oregon frequently and from what I can tell it’s a pretty simple place.  She works the whole time she is there but it still feels like a break for her and her family.  That’s what I want. That’s my goal. I’d like for my regular life and vacation life to flow naturally together without the sense of loss I feel after a fully immersed vacation.  This is just a natural part of my life, making the planning and recovery easy and the experience all the more rejuvenating.

It’s interesting because I used to have such a desire for travel in my early 20s and it has basically died out.  One time I was talking  with my brother and he said ‘I’m over traveling’  and I thought he was nuts but now I find myself thinking the same thing.

My Dad and sister are in Germany right now and another sister is going to Europe for a month in June. On one hand, I am a little jealous of the exciting experience they are having and on the other I feel tired just thinking about it.  The appeal is gone.

But a pied-à-terre? That sounds appealing.  Someday I would love to own a place by a beach somewhere.  That’s my goal- the tinier and simpler the better! For the moment LDS Storymakers and staying in a Hilton Hotel for the weekend will suffice.   It is just the pied-à-terre I need while I wait, worry and work.  I’m so excited!

I’m also very excited for my trip to Tampa coming up next month!  Thanks to my friend Kim for inviting me.  To relaxing, learning, resting and starting afresh!

What about you guys?  Have you found your desire to travel diminish over the years?  What about a pied-à-terre?  Is that concept appealing to you? Let me know.

relax

 

 

 

Headaches

This is a pretty simple post.  The last few months I have been getting terrible headaches. Debilitating.  Yesterday on Easter Sunday I sat in my room most of the day and nursed about a 10 hour head ache.

headache

I know that some of you have dealt with headaches, so I am curious for some advice.  What do you find to be the most helpful?  How do you function if you get one?  At least I have a job where I can work with lights off or sound free environment if needed but just curious if there are any suggestions that might help.

Sugar seems to help and sleeping.  If I have a bad night, which I did Saturday, than I often get a headache the next day.  But it seems to be linked to my blood sugar a bit so if I sip a soda or something sweet the pain is better.  Has anyone else experienced that?  Medicine doesn’t seem to do much to help.

Anyway, just curious for some advice and maybe to vent a bit.  I hate these headaches!