Idolizing Stars

Posted: April 27, 2011 in Rants
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Despite the typical North American’s frenzied schedule, a majority of us always seem to find time to gaze at the stars.  Sadly, I’m not talking about our solar system.  We’ve become a society –for as long as I can remember– obsessed and invested in the lives of people that have no significance to us – celebrities.

The media –the culprit behind it all– is known for sensationalizing the lifestyles of the rich and famous, as well as the pitfalls of stardom.  The latter usually being more “news-worthy”, for no reasons other than the pure fascination of watching someone crash and crumble.

Really, why do we find ourselves caring so much about what’s happening in the tabloids?  Being guilty of it myself at one point or another, it truly does intrigue me.  Do we, the archetypal working class, use it as some form of pleasurable escape from our chaotic daily affairs?  Perhaps living vicariously with notions of a lavish and prodigal existence thanks to these seemingly larger than life individuals?  Are we just naturally hard-wired to admire, adore and ultimately worship?  Or on the opposite end of the spectrum, maybe we enjoy seeing them humanized in the gossip magazines and entertainment shows? 

I’m sure countless reasons can be argued, but I believe the constant interest in celebrity figures is an unhealthy fixation. 

It is even harder to deviate from the circus when the media does an exemplary job at spreading it to the masses and distracting from the real issues (I sound like a conspiracy theorist now).  I find myself being up-to-date and almost always informed of the celebrity mania, even if I don’t intend to.  I hear it on the radio when I’m out for a drive; I see it on the news when trying to keep up with current events around the world; similarly, I read it in the newspaper, even though I’m only looking for information on the latest elections in Canada.  It’s EVERYWHERE!

In recent “news”, the downward spiral of Charlie Sheen has ironically raised his popularity and exposure.  So much that he has gone on tour and sold out shows – as if he has anything worthwhile to say.  He really doesn’t, but people are eating it up!  I can’t even count how many times I’ve heard the word “winning” –a term popularized and coined by the troubled star himself—by my peers.  Sorry Mr. Sheen, but I fail to see how losing your job, struggling with drug addictions, and fighting for custody of your children exemplifies any form of “winning”. 

What is more troubling is the fact that children –although I don’t have any myself— wrongfully look up to many of these stars.  Sure, there are some celebrities that represent a wholesome persona and have a positive attitude that might make them suitable role models, but in a time where even Disney channel personalities are getting caught in scandals, examples are scarce.  Prime parenting is a must, especially at such a young age when they are easily influenced by everything. 

Of course one can look at a celeb and see a great success story; someone who grew up with hardships, but never gave up on their dreams and ultimately made it with their drive and talent.  It sounds fantastic and works well for an aspiring individual.  But why the media focus on instilling worship for famous people, who are grossly overpaid, when real heroes –that don’t get enough recognition– can be found in our own backyard?   Teachers, firefighters, policemen and scientists are great, realistic examples of this.  It’s just a shame that the current generation –and future generations to come— know more about Lady Gaga and the cast of Jersey Shore, instead of Einstein, Newton and Galileo.  Youngsters and adults alike (yes, even grown-ups) nowadays can’t tell you about legitimate news and real global issues that can have some effect on them, but they can tell you Kobe Bryant’s shoe size and which celebrity just got caught cheating.  There is just something fundamentally wrong about all of it  

Look, I’m not pretending to come off as some uptight, pretentious snob that doesn’t enjoy the various forms of entertainment out there.  Of course I do!  I love to watch good movies, exceptional dramas on television, sports when I can, and enjoy music from some of my favourite artists.  I even “follow” a couple celebs on Twitter, although I’m not really sure why (told you I was guilty of it as well).  I guess celebrity gossip is the equivalent of junk food; it tastes good from time to time, but ultimately it just isn’t healthy for you.  You can definitely enjoy it moderately, but one needs to stay away from the overblown hype and stick to the real world – and I don’t mean the MTV show.

Unrelated note: I’ve been busy and haven’t had a chance to blog in almost a week.  I apologize if my first post back is somewhat of a downer rant, but this topic was heavy on my mind and I needed to let some of it loose.  Thanks for stopping by!


Study Mode

Posted: April 20, 2011 in Images, Miscellaneous

The past few days have been a bit on the hectic side; my girlfriend and I both, have upcoming exams and tests.  Mine being work related and hers pertaining to school.

Needless to say, the brains are about ready to explode with heaps of accumulated information.  There is only so much room in there to store it all before we go into overload!

I guess this is nothing more than a quick, explanatory post on why I’ve had very limited time to dedicate for the blog this week.  Maybe I’m getting ahead of myself assuming that anyone actually misses my posts, but just in case in you were wondering…  🙂

See you soon!

Future nurse learning about acute diseases...not fun!

Getting my snobby geek-on with my gf's glasses!

I’ve been thru my share of relationships.  Most of which have finished by me being at the receiving end of a nonsensical excuse for a break-up.  The kind that makes any sort of reasoning, an internal mental struggle that can drive you mad – madness released only by painful acid disguised in the form of tears.

But I promise, I’m not as bitter as I sound; in hindsight, those broken relationships ended for one reason or another –no matter what those reasons were—and it was all for the best.  I’m at a different, happier place in my life now and any attempts at finding cause for past failed romances are useless and irrelevant. 

But what happens when people refuse to close the chapter?  Refuse to close one door and open another one, as they say.  This occurs frequently and makes for a miserable existence on the part of the jilted lover – and sometimes, the heartbreaker.  While I have never placed myself in that position (I let sanity prevail), I can certainly empathize with those that feel distraught over a break-up.  Being dumped, unexpectedly especially, is a difficult pill to swallow; so difficult in fact, that many can’t swallow at all, and are left with the bitter taste in their mouth — or they ultimately end up choking on it. 

My break-ups are handled in a cliché fashion: take it as a learning experience and move on…that works best for me.  Yes, I can understand it’s advice that fits the “easier said than done” idiom category.  What I can’t understand is how some broken up lovers come to a mutual agreement that pursuing an amicable friendship is a healthy form of “moving on”.  I realize that couples turned pals, are possible, and don’t always turn into an affair of scorned ex boyfriends or girlfriends unleashing venomous words guided by hurt egos and pride; the nature of the break-up along with many other things can be taken into consideration when examining these successful alliances. 

But I’m speaking from a personal point of view.  I just can’t fathom being friends with someone who was so much more at one point – I have enough friends as it is anyway.  If you don’t share children, a mortgage or anything else that binds the two of you, say your goodbyes and don’t look back.  Avoid complications, drama and further heartache.  Erase them from your facebook, delete their numbers and toss the photographs, but that’s just me I guess. 

The whole “let’s just be friends” concept post-love, is nothing but awkward when I think about it.  The fact is, the relationship has failed on ALL fronts.  A relationship that consisted of romance AND friendship – you can be friends without romance (until you cross that line), but romance doesn’t exclude friendship.  What makes someone feel that friendship, after parting ways romantically is going to be sunshine and daisies, when you’ve already had your chance at both? 

I find that people who long for the friendship-ever-after, usually have ulterior motives and let’s face it, if the break-up wasn’t mutual, feelings linger for one or both parties. 

Common reasons for wanting to have a platonic relationship with your ex, despite still having feelings for them are:

1. Refusing to let go of the past-Yah, you have great memories and a history, but that’s the key word.  It’s history.

2. Monitoring an ex’s activities and whereabouts-Stop it!  This is unhealthy and borderline stalker behavior.

3. A false sense and usually misguided hope of “starting over” and getting back together-You’re never going to be happy as long as you have this mentality and live in the comfortable confines of a blissful daydream.

None of the abovementioned will benefit the broken-hearted.  If you find that you’re on that boat, do yourself a favour and disconnect yourself from the person that has said their goodbyes already.  Don’t miss out on a better opportunity at love because you’re giving VIP status to someone who doesn’t deserve your heart.

Book Quote

Posted: April 16, 2011 in Quotes
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Diane Setterfield

“There is something about words. In expert hands, manipulated deftly, they take you prisoner. Wind themselves around your limbs like spider silk, and when you are so enthralled you cannot move, they pierce your skin, enter your blood, numb your thoughts. Inside you they work their magic.”

-Diane Setterfield, The Thirteenth Tale

What strange and unique tales Gabriel Garcia Marquez has woven together in “One Hundred Years Of Solitude”.  It tells the story of the Buendia family and chronicles their lives (and deaths) in the mythical town of Macondo.

I must admit that apprehension took over before I decided to dive into this book, only because I am aware of its “classic” status in literature –- there is a greater sense of pressure to like it, you see.  Regardless of my hesitation, I unleashed the pages, welcomed them with open arms and found myself –early on– enjoying the story.  Ah yes, it was going to live up to expectations! I was convinced that a well-deserved 5 star rating –-and nothing less– was going to be my final verdict.

Fast forward 175 pages or so from what was a marvelous beginning –-disappointment started to rear its ugly head on this Nobel Prize recipient. Before you decide to crucify the reviewer however, read on and let me explain.  After all, I’ve still given it a favorable review.

As I already mentioned, the beginning of the story was absolutely engaging. Gypsies, oddities, magic, a mystical town and ghosts of times past, set the stage for what I was hoping would be a memorable read.  Marquez’s words are so exquisite, vivid and beaming with imaginative descriptions that I was left in awe.  The writing really is a thing of beauty; it must have been a task for Gregory Rabassa, who is responsible for the Spanish to English translation. 

It is no secret that Marquez thrived on the “magic realism” technique and executes it flawlessly in this book.  In fact, many credit him for introducing a wide audience to this form of writing, although he was not the first to use it.

My criticisms however –and I have a few– are not with the words on the page, but rather with the style he chooses to convey them.  I do apologize in advance to the literary elites, who love this book, for what I am about to say, but the style is simply preposterous.  The story consists of very little dialogue between characters, which bothered me slightly, considering he introduces us to many different generations of the Buendia family and a bunch of other players with important roles to fulfill.  Some of those never-ending, dialogue-less paragraphs stretched more than a couple of pages long (unheard of) –and whatever happened to avoiding run-on sentences?  Try –reading aloud– the sentence that begins on page 323 and ends of page 325! What a chore, huh?  Here I thought I was reading a book, but I also found myself exercising breath control skills when vocalizing those sentences; I might as well be doing Yoga.

The lack of engaging the characters in conversation made me feel disconnected and indifferent towards them –-with the exception of Ursula, who was the rock of the family, even on her last days when she was surrounded by the blackness.  The truth is that Marquez has created tormented individuals that are not very likeable at all.  Having some of them venture into the taboo territory of incest and pedophilia may also contribute in disturbing and turning readers away.  In addition, some may find the story a little difficult to keep up with due to many of the characters having the same name or a derivative of it.  I imagine the family tree at the beginning of this book (tactfully placed there) will be visited often by unsuspecting readers; reverting a couple of pages for a friendly reminder might be the norm when trying to distinguish one Buendia from the next.

Although there is no real plot, the imaginative stories within the book keep the reader interested as we move along, but it gets fairly repetitive (about as fun as listening to a broken record) and redundant in feel.  You will find parts that are engrossing and exciting to read while others are so dull that they can cure insomnia; very somber in mood, but you can expect to be somewhat depressed with a title like “One Hundred Years of Solitude”, right?

I am accustomed to reading books in no more than a few sittings.  I fly by them with the speed of a jet, but this particular book was laborious to get through.  I found myself putting it down far too many times simply because the aforementioned style kept on feeding me long paragraphs that needed to be read carefully and absorbed thoroughly; thus making it a not so enjoyable read at times (and no, I don’t have a short attention span). 

I am in tune with the fact that the majority of my complaints are just a matter of taste; the repetition of names, lack of dialogue, extended paragraphs and “stream of consciousness” technique are all deliberately crafted that way by Marquez as an “effective” method of telling his story and symbolic meanings, but not everyone will enjoy it.  The saving grace for this book and what helped me through it was the beautiful words Marquez uses to bring it to life. If you aspire to be a great writer or if you simply want to be enchanted by an artistic view of writing, visiting his work is a must.

Yes, I realize it is a personal classic to many (almost everyone), and the accolades for it are abundant, but not for me – I am perfectly content with being in the minority and calling it merely, a “good” book.

3 out of 5

1,000 Hits And Thank You

Posted: April 14, 2011 in Miscellaneous

Just a quick but very gracious thank you to those that have visited my page and helped me to reach the one thousand mark! I truly hope I have entertained at least one person since I started blogging, almost three weeks ago. See you soon!

What constitutes a man being in touch with his feminine side?  How does a woman come to the conclusion that a male counterpart should be labeled under that category?  A category generally frowned upon by other males, who tend to live by the “real man’s man” code, resulting in probable embarrassment for the guy viewed as too effeminate.  Yet females, from personal experience, tend to think of it as an endearing quality (a turn-on even), resulting in said male, secretly –or not—being proud of his higher than normal estrogen levels.

I’ve been told more times than I can count, that I am far too in touch with my feminine side.  Is it a justified observation?  Yah, probably.  The only thing that leaves me baffled is, how does one really determine what’s overly feminine behavior for a guy?  Is it really odd and out of character for a male to take extra care of their appearance, for example?  Granted, maybe I do go the extra mile; I take an awful long time styling my hair, especially for someone with short hair to begin with; my mom, being an aesthetician, offers facials (they’re amazing) and waxing for those extra, out-of-place eyebrow hairs that are a nuisance – I gladly accept the free services.

I lost points on the masculinity, macho scale amongst friends because I am loyal to a hairstylist and frequent a salon instead of a barber-shop.  I’ve been the butt of jokes because I’m a fan of going to the mall for a shopping excursion.  Gasp!  Is it really so bad that I like shopping for nice things?  Is it a crime that somebody sans menstrual cycles, knows how to color co-ordinate attire?

The aforementioned not only allude to me being in touch with my she-part, but it also means I’m a “metro-sexual”;  A made up term, probably stemming from the whole “being in touch with your feminine side” notion –glorified by pretty male celebs–  that I won’t delve further into, for this post.

Besides the appearance related aspects, being in touch with my femininity also applies to my sensitivity and emotional scale – as if there were an actual scale used to measure such things.  Crying in shows, books and movies usually causes a riot of laughter from my male buddies…maybe tearing up during “Spider-Man” might have been unwarranted, and I rightfully deserved the mock treatment, but give me a break.

If I’m ever overly romantic or bragging about my girlfriend, it automatically means I’m “whipped” and have lost some sort of independence…Or maybe I just like treating her good?

How about this one: “You’re such a girl”, after putting the toilet seat down in its rightful spot.  So a true man has to be devoid of simple manners and etiquette now?

I’ve come to the conclusion that the expression, “being in touch with your feminine side” is grossly misused and misunderstood.  The archetypal male and female have been set in stone and are predisposed to behave in a certain fashion by those that are likely to type-cast.  It’s usually harmless and the comments don’t bug me at all, especially coming from close friends.  I love the way I am, and I don’t have a problem showing off my more, sensitive side.

Now don’t get me wrong, I’m definitely a guy with masculine sensibilities (lots of them), but being a momma’s boy my whole life, I can definitely see the influences.  I’m just a big softie around the almost non-existent edges – I must be leaking testosterone from somewhere.

A video surfaced yesterday of a young girl, believed to be 6 years old, being submitted to a thorough “pat-down”, by a TSA agent.

The child remains compliant and seemingly calm, but I can only imagine what the poor thing must have been thinking.  What’s odd to me is, you can hear what I can only presume to be the mother, asking the agent, “can’t you just re-scan her”?  Yes, can’t you just do that, or figure out another method of screening for 6-year-old “terrorists”, that doesn’t include essentially groping them?

Come on, it’s quite ridiculous.

Granted, we don’t know what actually occurred in the moments leading up to the incident, and the agent appeared to do her job in a professional manner (or at least the way she was trained to), but is this really what it has come to?  What probable and reasonable cause made the wonderful people at TSA feel like this was the appropriate way of dealing with the situation?

I understand that terrorists using children as a way of concealing weapons/explosives, is not unheard of, but at what point is it too much?

I don’t live in America and I don’t claim to have a solution for the pending threat of terrorism or how to implement effective airport security, but I have to wonder if this is a complete violation of human rights and freedoms.  Are solutions for terror ultimately a “catch 22”?  We’re damned if we do, and damned if we don’t?

I have to believe that this child was taught one of the earliest lessons a parent can teach: don’t talk to strangers and don’t let strangers touch you…this incident might have conditioned her to believe otherwise – sadly.