Wednesday, May 30, 2012

"On the Road" Post-Reading: Too Young for Nostalgia


55 years after being published, and 59 years after being written, I was struck with a sudden urge to read Jack Kerouac’s On the Road. It’s an American classic, I’ve been told, and while I may not be American, a classic is a classic, right?

It’s been said that this novel encapsulates the essence of the post-war “Beat Generation”. It should bring us nostalgia of a time past, so different from now, but so alive and memorable with all its unique qualities.
I, however, could not help but feel a wave of sadness wash over me as I trudged through the crisp, beautiful prose that read almost like poetry at times. It’s not that the words don’t resonate with me, but the time; the time escapes me. My heart is heavy in knowing that I am far too young to be nostalgic of this generation, so painstakingly embodied in Kerouac’s work.

The story of Sal Paradise and Dean Moriarty has become nothing more to me than a reminder that I cannot and will not ever understand these ages gone by, as much as I may try to. I may long to experience the ages past, though being a product of one’s generation, I feel I may be lost there, and this makes me sad. Everyone experiences different changes in the world, depending on their place in time, but what if now we are locked in a stasis that lacks the spark and fire of this Beat generation gone by?

Do we not now see those who might closely resemble this bygone sentiment and scorn their hippie ways and judge them on their repudiation to blend in and be one with the time? It is said that those who long for the past cannot live in their present or look towards their future, but sometimes you wonder what your own life may have been like had you had some of these experiences that were common in the past, yet are virtually extinct today.

You won’t find many hitchhikers on the road today. And those that are? They rarely get picked up. Our world isn’t safe anymore, and we trust no one. People can’t ride across the country in the backs of trucks with groups of other stragglers. We scorn those who do not hold down real jobs and live their lives off the couches of others. When someone takes you in, they expect you to move on as soon as you can, and not hang around until a whim urges you to take off on a new flight. The only place you see people washing dishes to pay for food is in cheesy comedies for nothing more than a quick laugh: it’s not the reality of life. Poets and writers and artists struggle to be noticed, and can’t subsist on their existential whims alone. Communities call these people hippies and vagabonds, and look down on those who jump from marriage to marriage, especially when these notions of marriage are brought up after only one night together. You can’t set out with nothing more than 50 dollars in your pocket, and crowding people into basements for a raucous night ends in your twenties, and certainly doesn’t continue once you are married with children. Yet back in the beat era, this is what you’d find. At least this is what I assume you’d find, given the nature of On the Road.

I will likely never experience what these people lived, and I know that I won’t. I want to connect with these classic pieces of literature, yet find myself unable to. All I can do is sit back, enjoy the mastery of the words, and recognize that the world has changed. I want to go back and feel this past, I wish I could see if maybe I belonged there more so than I do here. But what then?

Maybe we look back at all these changes because we are afraid that the world will never stop changing and that we won’t like what is to come. And maybe I’ve exhausted myself thinking about a world that has gone by, yet has been captured in the words on a page. But I suppose in the end, that’s what writing can do, though maybe this wasn't the intent: yet another thing which I can never know.

Monday, May 28, 2012

Hollywood's Second Chances and the Lindsay Lohan Problem

***Note: I know you won't all agree with this. Just some thoughts.

Hollywood and fame is a tricky business. We as people love to see others succeed, but we also enjoy watching a downfall. It’s a human flaw, and incredibly awful. Yet at the same time, people are obsessed with giving second chances. We love a good underdog story showing how even though you may fall, you can always get back up.

This is especially evident when famous people are involved. Even micro-celebrities have a following, those people who can’t forget about them and will pay attention to them no matter what. And this is why people are often given chance after chance to redeem their careers, even after it looks like there really is no hope for them. I mean, if a big enough group out there is paying attention, then obviously it’s a good risk to take to bring someone into the spotlight again, even if they are just watching with distain, hoping for the person to fail once again. Publicity is publicity, after all.

I, personally, like the idea of second chances, but only to an extent. That is to say, it’s good to see someone who has made a series of mistakes and fallen from grace crawl their way back to the top, if they are willing to work really hard to do so. If you can see someone working hard, and accepting every opportunity given to them as a way of bettering their career --and possibly themselves-- it makes you think that this person really deserves their newfound fame and recognition.
Look at Robert Downey Jr. for an example: after his stints in prison and rehab for drug abuse and all the likes, he worked to get himself sober and toiled away in films once again, delivering great performances and raising himself to the status of a beloved and respected actor the world-over. This is an inspiring story and shows that if someone is willing to put in the effort, they can bring themselves back from scandal and a downfall.

Then there are those who are given chance after chance and just can’t pull it together. When do we stop giving this person second chances?
This is what I call the Lindsay Lohan problem: a girl for whom I have lost all respect and interest in, and frankly I don’t understand why the rest of the world hasn’t lost interest in her either.

After a series of unsuccessful rehab stints, arrests, and “comebacks”, Lindsay Lohan is still being offered cameos in shows such as “Glee,” or even leads in certain films, such as the TV Movie based on the life of Elizabeth Taylor (a sad choice, in my opinion). It seems like every time this girl is offered a chance at a comeback, stories come out about how terrible she is on set, and unpleasant she is to work with, yet people still want to hire her, based on all the “promise” she showed at a young age to one day become a great actress. How long can we go on like this until we realize that all that promise she had at one time will never come into fruition? And how much of her memorable performance in Mean Girls had to do with the clever and truthful writing, not purely her acting potential?

I just feel as though this girl has been offered numerous chances to get her career back on track, and she has squandered all of them. It is time to move on. Aren’t there countless other actresses out there working their feet bloody just for the slightest glimpse of the spotlight? The pool of talent out there is vast, but we still keep holding on to these old hopes that never lived up to their potential.

And it’s not just Lindsay Lohan of course. There are others that the spotlight of fame just won’t let go of, despite a terrible track record (I’m looking at you, Charlie Sheen and Mel Gibson, among others). Yet because they still retain an unfathomably devoted fan base, and people are still interested in them --whether for positive reasons or not--, they are considered a safe bet by marketing standards. That seems to be all that the business of Hollywood cares about in the end, so I suppose it makes sense, as unfortunate as it is.

So no, I’m not saying that I don’t believe in second chances. It’s worked wonders for others, I mean just look at Drew Barrymore, and others like her! I just think that we need to stop trying to resurrect the careers of those who aren’t willing to try and help themselves. It’s just like when you keep going back to the same old boyfriend who promises he has changed for the better, but really hasn’t, and never will. Why should I believe you this time? Let’s give someone new and better a try! I’m sure we won’t be nearly as disappointed.

Saturday, May 5, 2012

They Should Really Just Call It "Babes of Thrones"... (Babes on Thrones?): A Gratuitous Pictorial

Sure, looking at pretty people may be somewhat superficial, but who are we to deny ourselves the simple pleasures in life?
Why not take a break and let your eyes enjoy some delightful eye-candy? Today's theme is the glorious cast of "Game of Thrones," outside of their fictional world.


Although, to be fair, this list is highly subjective. I mean, I may find some of these people very attractive, whereas you don't. Also, some might argue that I "only like these people because they are famous" or that the mere-exposure effect (this is a real thing!) of seeing them frequently onscreen has made me come to like them more. Or ever further, we could agree that some arguably unattractive people can be "made up" to look good in certain pictures, but given the chance to see them on the street, we may not find them as appealing.
Let's just ignore all that and call this: 
My Personal Countdown of the 12 Most Stunning "Game of Thrones" Cast-Members.


We are going to work our way up to my respective favourite, and with one comment each. 
Their relative placement in the list also has no bearing on how I feel about their characters, because trust me, it would look very different in that case; this is a purely visual list today (and I'll admit, that happens a lot).
Please feel free to share your favourite "Game of Thrones" beauties with me, even if I did not include them on the list myself! (You know, different strokes for different folks and all that.)
Without further ado:


12) Lena Headey/ Cersei Lannister - Legs for days and a sharp, commanding jaw.


11) Gwendoline Christie/ Brienne of Tarth - Rock solid, with gorgeous hair and big, beautiful eyes.


10) Sean Bean/ Eddard Stark - Classic eye-crinkles on classically kind eyes.


9) Gethin Anthony/ Renly Baratheon - With a certain boyish charm to go with that smirk and scruff.


8) Peter Dinklage/ Tyrion Lannister - A unique, sharp, handsome face.


7) Rose Leslie/ Ygritte - How can I deny a fiery, porcelain redhead?

6) Nikolaj Coster-Waldau/ Jaime Lannister - There's just something about the Danish.


5) Joe Dempsie/ Gendry - Cheekbones like apples, and can we talk for a second about that time when he was all oiled up and sooty and...?


4) Harry Lloyd/ Viserys Targaryen - His fine, slender features suit him well.


3) Richard Madden/ Robb Stark - It might be because I'm young, or it might just be his bright, liquid eyes and gorgeous bone structure.


2) Emilia Clarke/ Daenerys Targaryen - Her skin, her eyes, her smile, her everything.


And finally...
1) Kit Harington/ Jon Snow - Because I'm just a human girl who can't seem to help herself when she sees that hair, those eyes, or those lips.


And that, my friends, is the countdown. 
I hope you have enjoy this short break from the real-world in order to enjoy some visual pleasures, if just for a moment.
(All images found via Google)