Monday, January 26, 2015

Summer List Review {The Great Gatsby + Rent}

This is the ninth installment of me reviewing a list of books and movies I set out to read, watch, and enjoy throughout the summer (even though this is going up in the winter). You can check out my other posts in the following links. 
Sixth Installment
Eighth Installment

The Great Gatsby is probably my new favorite classic. I loved Fitzgerald's writing, and the message that the story portrayed about life, dreams, and the dreaded love.

"A portrait of the Jazz Age in all of its decadence and excess, The Great Gatsby captured the spirit of the author's generation and earned itself a permanent place in American mythology. Self-made, self-invented millionaire Jay Gatsby embodies some of Fitzgerald's--and his country's--most abiding obsessions: money, ambition, greed, and the promise of new beginnings. "Gatsby believed in the green light, the orgiastic future that year by year recedes before us. It eluded us then, but that's no matter--tomorrow we will run faster, stretch out our arms farther.... And one fine morning--"Gatsby's rise to glory and eventual fall from grace becomes a kind of cautionary tale about the American Dream."

Throughout the book I found myself feeling quite sorry for Gatsby, and the ending left me feeling heartbroken and mournful to see what his life had amounted to. It's an excellent book, and Fitzgerald's descriptive tone was the kind of writing I love.

After reading the book I feel the need to go back and see the movie once more (which is a beautiful film by the way). All in all, great book.

I've realized that I've become that person who watches Hollywood adaptions of plays instead of actually seeing the play. What can I say. I'm poor and live nine and a half hours away from Broadway.

I'll admit, it's always weird watching musicals on TV. I'm not sure if it's just odd to see a movie with SO MANY SONGS or if it's just me. Probably just me if we're being honest here.

Anyway, I found the movie to be enjoyable. I have never seen Rent performed on Broadway or in a theatre at all for that matter, so it's not like it had much to live up to. I can guarantee you though that I'm sure it would be much better live and not on a small seventeen year old's TV.

Overall consensus: a lot of talent (man could those people sing), and a great story line.

Have a fabulous day.

Friday, January 23, 2015

Free Community College

The State of the Union wrapped itself up this past Tuesday. I once again felt like the only seventeen year old girl who was diligently waiting for the biggest political speech of the year (aside from presidential inauguration speeches but those only happen once in a blue moon).

For those of you living outside of the U.S. or those of you who failed your high school civics class, The State of the Union (or SOTU as I'll be referring to it to save my hand from cramping) is a speech given by the president typically on the second Tuesday of January every year. It's required by our Constitution that the president give this speech to congress periodically (which we've interpreted as annually). It's basically a big awkward dinner party without the dinner. Congress comes together for a night joint session, and politicians try to make small talk in the suits their wives picked out for them. Like I said, it's a real treat.

Usually the president takes this as a time to inform Congress (and in this day and age the American people as it is televised) on what he plans/hopes/dreams on accomplishing in the coming year as he'll need Congress' cooperation to get it done. After the speech, a rebuttal then comes from the party that is not in power—presidentially speaking. For example, our president is Democrat so the rebuttal came from the Republicans. It's usually a really awkward speech where a person with too much make-up reads off a teleprompter with beady eyes. I'll say it again, it's a real treat.

Enough civics talk for everyone though, let's get to the point. President Obama listed a lot of things he wanted done during the hour and a half speech: a raise in minimum wage, universal child care (I'll be writing a post on that one soon), an end to ISIS, transferring prisoners from Guantanamo Bay, I could go on and on, but what really stood out to me was the backlash following his announcement of free community college.

First off, this shouldn't have been news to anyone. He had already began putting this initiative in motion a few weeks prior, but I guess the bandwagon Republicans who only follow news if it comes via Twitter just now realized this plan.

Republicans are known to be harshly against any sort of social reform program such as free community college. This is the party that wants to cut spending on food stamps, free health care, and any other sort of welfare program because they are in the mindset that they're all just "free handouts" to people who are too lazy to work (which is a huge stereotype); there are people out there who work two to three jobs and still rely on food stamps to feed their kids, it's just that some do not understand that not everyone is a millionaire.

Anyway, free community college. Conservatives are griping because their precious tax dollars are once again going to go to another social program that could, you know, help our economy, give millions of people an opportunity they might never could have had, get better jobs, etc., etc.

It's kind of ironic that a party that is so against the welfare system does not support a system that could help millions of Americans become independent and no longer rely on the welfare programs Republicans hate. Think about it:  They'll have access to better jobs + higher wages which will equal less need for food stamps, free health insurance, etc.

The biggest complaint Republicans seem to be having is they wonder how we will pay for such a program. The obvious answer seems to be tax dollars, but if people picked up a newspaper every once and a while, they would notice that that's not exactly always the case.

President Obama has been looking at Tennessee Promise, a program that provides two years of tuition free community college. Tennessee is the first state to ever initiate this sort of program. The best part is, no tax payer money is being used to fund the program — the education lottery will actually be providing the monetary needs.

That then begs the question, if this could be funded by the education lottery — not tax dollars — why would anyone be against this? A program that could boost our economy, create less dependence on social welfare programs, establish opportunities for millions of Americans, and I could go on and on and on.

As someone who one day hopes free college is in our nation's future, I can only hope this measure gets passed. I can only hope that people realize affordable/free education is a huge stimulus to our economy. I can only hope that this program won't be seen as another "hand-out" to the part of our society that isn't as fortunate.

Have a fabulous day.

Monday, January 19, 2015

Summer List Review {Bossypants + Antiviral}

This is the Eighth installment of me reviewing a list of books and movies I set out to read, watch, and enjoy throughout the summer (even though this is going up in the winter). You can check out my other posts in the following links. 
Sixth Installment
Seventh Installment

I know I had said I was going to be reviewing The Jury, but I got my hands on the book Bossypants by Tina Fey, and my life changed. Let's just say I have bumped The Jury for another time.

First, I feel a little back story is needed before I begin. Tina Fey is a comedian. She played a damn good Sarah Palin on a string of Saturday Night Live sketches (among other great things). I initially read her book as a sort of preface to my Junior Research Presentation. I had already written my paper (on the inequality of women in the workplace mind you), and all that was left was my presentation. I was looking for something funny and relatable to say in front of my classmates who I presumed (and rightly so) wouldn't give two shits about the inequality that women faced (sad albeit true).

A friend of mine recommended that I check out her book and use a quote or two from it. The book (among other things) talks about Tina's struggles and triumphs to break through a male dominated industry, and I can say I cannot recommend this book enough. It was extremely funny, and the amount of times I literally laughed out loud can not be counted. Fey was relatable and lovable.

It's a quick read (took me a little less than a day and a half and I consider myself a slow-ish reader). Overall, it was beautiful.

Also, for your Tina Fey/Amy Poehler enjoyment:
I considered Antiviral to be a pretty good movie. It was metaphorical in a way (although the metaphor was very obvious). Essentially it's set in a futuristic world; everyone is celebrity obsessed. When I say obsessed, the movie shows a whole new realm of obsession. People begin to pay to have themselves injected with viruses that their celebrity idols either have or once had. They even pay for meat that is cultivated by the cells of the rich and famous. Cannibalistic? Yes. Unbelievable? Not necessarily.

The movie was very minimalistic (a lot of greys and whites throughout the movie). I always find this type of portrayal of the future very ironic; in a society that is so materialistic, what makes everyone think that our future generations will be dull and minimal?

Anyways. At times I thought the movie was kind of lagging/boring, but I usually feel this way about a lot of movies. I have a hard time sitting still and paying attention around the hour mark of most everything. Also there are a lot of close ups of needles piercing the skin and the like, so the movie is not really for the squirmish.

Overall, thoughtful movie. Makes you think about the track of society.

Have a fabulous day.

Friday, January 16, 2015

Winter Break in Pictures


Winter Break ended last week, and I'm back to life as I once knew it. In order to curb my sadness and to document what is left of those precious two weeks, I bring to you my Winter Break in pictures (of course).

ENO lights for the win. I received a new phone over break that is able to take artistically blurry pictures (or at least that is what I like to call them).

What is a break without a cute puppy you may ask? Not one I would like to attend, that is for sure. 

Late night hammocking in the cold. But not in the dark courtesy of some fantastic ENO lights.

The best present I could have ever received. It's beautiful and wonderfully written all in one. All hail Amy Poehler, all hail. 

I ran a short lived spoon bracelet sweat shop over break. Just me, a hammer, and the cold. They made beautiful Christmas presents if I do say so myself.

And I do realize the name of my blog includes the word sunset. And I do realize I rarely post pictures of sunsets on here anymore. But hopefully this makes up for it. I entitled this one, "casually blurry."

Have a fabulous day.

Monday, January 12, 2015

Summer List Review {My Point and I Do Have One + The Diary of Anne Frank}

This is the seventh installment of me reviewing a list of books and movies I set out to read, watch, and enjoy throughout the summer (even though this is going up in the winter). You can check out my other posts in the following links. 
Sixth Installment

I'm not gonna lie....this was a strange book to read. I love Ellen. A lot. Like a lot a lot. When I was 14 I used to religiously go home and watch her talk show like a stay at home mom because hello, it's Ellen Degeneres.

I bought this book for a dollar at a church thrift shop which I found ironic considering Ellen is gay, but hey, I'm glad they were able to overcome that. Long story short, the book was written in 1995 which was before I was born and well...before Ellen had come out as gay.

Overall, My Point...And I Do Have One was hilarious which I expected nothing less from because it is Ellen. It wasn't necessarily a memoir, but a collection of random stories that Ellen "embellished" just a tad to add some humor. 

I particularly enjoyed it yet did find it humorous when she made slight remarks about men/dating/relationships because the Ellen that wrote the book isn't really the same Ellen today. Also the back of the cover looks like an early 2000s boy band CD cover. (I wish I could find a picture for you, but alas it does not exist on Google. Go figure.)

The book though is essentially a rambling of Ellen's borderline strange thoughts, and it was an acquired taste if we're being real. Eventually I found myself actually laughing out loud during the book (which is quite rare), but I do understand why some people didn't like the book (I read the Amazon reviews because I often need inspiration for these book reviews).

Overall, a great book if you're a fan of Ellen Degeneres, but otherwise, you probably wouldn't find it quite as humurous. 

I had seen bits and pieces of this movie in 8th grade when our class read The Diary of Anne Frank, but because of our principal's policy of limiting movie time we weren't allowed to see the whole thing (public education at its finest).

It was a great movie that I don't think needs a synoposis as I'm sure everyone reading this is familar with the story of Anne Frank. There seem to be multiple remakes of her story, and yet it still remains timeless. I think the advancement of technology and the movie making process helps create a new dimension in each movie.

Late last year (October/November-ish) my community theater put on a production of Anne Frank. For a local theater it is actually very good at putting on well acted and set up plays, and The Diary of Anne Frank was no exception. I enjoyed it more than the movie to be honest, but I think that was just simply the realism and close knit feeling that you get with plays.

Anyway, the story of Anne Frank never gets old to me. Even though I know the outcome, I always find myself hoping she will get out alive followed by disappointment in the end when it does not happen (tell me I'm not alone this).

Great movie is all I must say.

Have a fabulous day.

Monday, January 5, 2015

Summer List Review {If I Stay + Love Actually}

This is the sixth installment of me reviewing a list of books and movies I set out to read, watch, and enjoy throughout the summer (even though this is going up in the winter). You can check out my other posts in the following links. 
Fourth Installment
Fifth Installment

This one is another girl book that I'm half ashamed I ever read. If I Stay kind of left me irritated similar to last weeks book. But alas, I feel this is what I get when I read these young adult romance novels that I should have never indulged in to begin with.

I really wanted to love this book, but I couldn't. I found it hard to get through although in rare moments enjoyable. The writing style was decent, but many of the metaphors left me feeling all 'what the hell did I just read.' I specifically remember at one point Mia describes that when she watches her boyfriend on stage she wants to 'lick the sweat off his body' or something like that. I almost gave up reading it after that to be honest, but I alas I persevered. 

I liked how there was no real description of "the accident," but an abrupt skip from her normal life to being halfway dead. It was metaphorical and awesome in a writer way, but I found everything that went on in the hospital to be boring and part of a bad Disney movie. For instance, her boyfriend and best friend create a diversion by having some famous singer start singing outside the ICU so they can run inside and escape past the "mean old nurse" to see Mia. Like, seriously? Could the characters get any more dumb? It was such a stupid solution to a problem that shouldn't have even been in there in the first place.

One thing I really enjoyed though was the flashbacks into Mia's past. I'm weird and sentimental, and I enjoy simple memories of normal people involving stuff like labor day parties in their backyards. I don't know, call me weird if you want.

Anyways, it was an OK book. By far not my favorite by any means, not to mention the ending was predictable and rather blunt/quick.


Love Actually, was also another OK in my book. 

The movie featured a great list of actors, but I found there to be way too many characters and plot lines to keep track of. Also, the ending was kind of a like a weird communal Christmas celebration albeit slightly cute. 

To be real, I'm a sucker for movies where there's five or six characters whose paths all eventually cross, but I found this one to be hard to follow and not as interesting as I would have hoped. The movie also seemed rather long and drawn out, and the plot line somewhat dumb (I mean the Prime Minister shows up at an elementrary school Christmas production to chase down a girl), but I guess this is what you get with romantic comedies.

Alas, OK movie with a brilliant cast.

Have a fabulous day.

Thursday, January 1, 2015

New Year

I'm usually not one for resolutions, but at this moment I'm feeling particularly put together. I'm also in the mood to put myself together more. I've realized that I need to start being more productive, and the opportunist in me sees this time of the year as the best time to begin to reorganize my life. Without further rambling, here are my 2015 projects:

1. Do Homework Right After School
I'm really bad at knocking my homework out of the way. I get home around 3:30 and spend most of my time fiddling around on Netflix/my phone/other nonproductive areas. Then around 9:30 at night I begin crying tears into my US history book because I realize I cannot finish all this homework laid before me. This coming year I want to begin working on my homework for at the least the first hour that I'm home. Most days it will take me longer than that hour to finish my homework, but at least I'll already have put a good dent into it. 

2. Finish My First Book
I've been writing my current book for a really really really long time (I'd say how long but it's somewhat embarrassing). I've never actually fully finished a book come to think of it. There are a solid 54 unfinished drafts/manuscripts/novels sitting on my google drive account (this is just an estimate), but none have ever been finished. One of these days I need to put on my big girl underwear and complete one of these suckers and that time might as well be now.

3. Post Five Times a Month
I realize this is a fairly low post count, but I'm trying to keep things doable here. Looking back on last year, there were six months where I posted less than five times which is somewhat sad and depressing and other words with disappointing connotations.


4. Read More (and Own More Books)
I have a desperate need to grow my own personal library and check a lot of books off my to-read list. I also want to take up a new adventure of Goodwilling/thrift shopping books. If a book is popular I'll probably just rely on my public library or a friend, but nothing is more fun than going into Goodwill and picking up two or three random books that look interesting. At fifty cents per book, you really can't go wrong. 

I feel like I should have more to say or to accomplish, but I don't want to overwhelm myself (I am only 17 years old). Fingers crossed for the New Year, and may your 2015 be filled with more happiness than ever before.

Have a fabulous New Year.