Thursday, 06 August 2009
There is always the teacher in your life that you will remember for changing your life. Well for me that was a few years ago and it was then that I was recommended a few books, from those I bought the ones that interested me most. These books are “Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close” by Jonathan Safran Foer, and “the curious case of the dog in the night-time” by Mark Haddon. Coincidentally, they’re similarities are not limited to their unusual titles, but both have a young boy with autism as the main character. Apart from this, the experimentation of writing, and quirky characters, each author has exhibited very different styles in creating original stories that not only stand apart from other novels but also each other.
I have a very close family and one of my cousins who is now four has autism. Although I wasn’t completely educated, I was still able to familiarize with the characters and quickly found it interesting how similar and different the perspectives could be, and how it affected the story in such profound but amazing ways that I loved. However there were times where I was sceptical on the accuracy of what was written and whether the author was just “trying too hard”.
This is what I thought of these books:
Extremely Loud and Incredibly Close 9.5/10
One reason why you should read: “...and then I lost my "i" and my silence was complete. I started carrying blank books like this one around which I would fill with all the things I couldn't say and that's how it started, if I wanted help from someone, I'd write "Help", and if something made me want to laugh I'd write "Ha ha ha!" and instead of singing in the shower I would write out the lyrics to my favourite songs, the ink would turn the water blue or red or green, and the music would run down my legs..."
The story of a young boy with autism who’s father has died in the September 11th tragedy. However none of these things are the main focus of the plot but instead of a boy searching for an answer (along with a mysterious separate plot) and how all human beings have a story, are connected, and can change each other’s lives.
I love this book and I proclaim it as my most favourite book of all time because it was the first that I actually found to be original and different from others. The refreshingly unique style and story kept me captivated from the very first to the very last page without ever feeling overdone. The ideas demonstrated are compelling and thought provoking in a way that will change your perspective on the world with touches of humour and strong emotional resonance that doesn’t require cheesy gimmicks. And although while reading you’ll know none of it can be true you’ll be wishing that there was a world out there like this.
Some may not understand what is happening and find themselves lost in the story’s unpredictable plot and plethora of characters. There is very little emphasis and focus on the actual main character and his condition although there are subtle hints embedded throughout which some may feel is insufficient but I myself found kept it from being too overwhelming. Some may also dislike it because it is unbelievable.
Overall I fell in love with the authors style and ideas I thought unfathomable. I found it inspirational, emotion evoking, and extremely fun to read. By the end he had me believing in the impossible and left me in awe.
The curious case of the dog at night-time 7/10
One reason why you should read: “Also people think they’re not computers because they have feelings and computers don’t have feelings. But feelings are just having a picture on the screen in your head of what is going to happen tomorrow or next year, or what might’ve happened instead of what did happen, and if it is a happy picture they smile and if it is a sad picture they cry.”
About a 15-year old boy who has autism and is extremely gifted. He lives with his father and his mother had died years ago. One day he finds a neighbour’s dog had been murdered and is determined to solve the mystery of who had killed it but soon finds himself stumbling upon more than he had anticipated. He soon finds himself overwhelmed as his whole life changes and the world proves to be more than he can understand.
This novel proves to be more about character and the life of the boy from his perspective. The author captures the difficulties of life in a less than normal family in fragments and you’ll be intrigued by the authors insight and perspective on the minds of children with autism. With every critical event the author hits the right notes and will have you empathizing for every character as if you were in their place. Within the story are clever elements that will keep you on your toes and have you thinking.
I found myself skimming the pages every so often or rereading portions to fully digest what I had just read but there are many things you’ll learn and it’ll change the way you think of things in mind boggling ways. At points I began to question the accuracy of what was written and felt the author was trying too hard to sell the character; at times it would no longer be of a boy with autism but a man writing about a boy with autism. Some may not enjoy the ending as there is a lack of one and even throughout the novel compelling events are cut short by the narrator, but despite this I found it more realistic and left you wanting to know more.
Overall, although there is the aspect of wanting more by the end it will not be satisfied. Your mind may wander with the organized “one thing after the other” storytelling that get’s old after a few pages and loses its spark. However, I would still consider this a worthwhile read as there are memorable fragments that leave you speechless with the author’s deep and trivial thoughts on life. It presents realism with a twist and you find yourself reading on for the sake of the characters. This novel will teach you an interesting thing or two and get you thinking.
So I hope you do seek out these books and enjoy them as much as I had :). Have you or will you read these books? If you have, what did you think and how accurate do you think the authors were?
So I just thought I'd post up some pictures I took for the lenses and talk a little about them :)
These are "Illusions Violet" They blend quite well and are darker than most other violets. Violet lenses are good for a more fun, pretty, cute look that's different..because no one really has purple eyes haha. They're sure to get some attention and look great with any colour you wear :)
The Nudy series is one of the most popular and are known for making your eyes sparkle. Personally i thought they were too unnatural for me but they look nice still and many of my friends liked them for the different "sandy" pattern that makes your eyes stand out.
These are the latest ones I was sent and my now favourite. The design is noticable but subtle enough so that it doesn't obviously stand out. They really make your eyes shine and are great for many looks while also being very comfortable to wear since they're so soft. They're definitely one of the prettier lenses that I recommend :)
Sunday, 19 July 2009
Man In The Mirror
By Michael Jackson
I have experience with arguements(what can I say, they don't make me angry at all, they give me a rush). A mixture of experience and education has helped me become a successful arguer. There are a few techniques I use that usually help me, and even if I know i'm wrong or i've lost, we both go away happy.
Don't lose your cool: Never start yelling, swear, mock, use sarcasm, or use aggressive body language, even if they do.
Why it's bad: If you're yelling and flailing your arms around then they'll know you're emotional and that you aren't thinking clearly. It'll become obvious that you've become defensive and no longer have stability over what's being said. You're only fighting them with intimidation at this point and not a sound arguement.
Why this is good for you: If you don't do these things, then you can actually have a decent and intellectual arguement based on what you have to say and not who intimidates who the most. You'll have your dignity even if they did not and will come off as stronger from the get-go. It might make them more angry, which may be what you want(because as stated, anger shows that you've won), or they will appreciate it and reciprocate.
Understand and Acknowledge: Of course they will have an opposing opinion to yours but ensure that you acknowledge what they have to say and understand it before you continue, or even expand on it.
Why it's bad not to: It would be detrimental if you were to repeat what's already been discussed, and by not paying attention it only shows ignorance and disrespect. They'll know there's no point in argueing if the other person is too closed minded to listen to what they have to say.
Why it's good for you: It's proven that an effective argument is one that can present both sides while demonstrating how it is the better. On top of that, both sides will know it was fair and might even learn something that will expand on what they already know. Therefore you'll get more out of the arguement than just proving your side and with your head held high.
Think before you speak: Make sure it's relevant, make sure it is justified, ensure that you make sense
Why it's bad not to: Some people won't catch if something is irrelevant, but most will and will call you out on it. That would show you're lack of a legitamite arguement. Make sure it's justified and strong; don't talk just to hear yourself talk. Ensure that what you say is understandable because one of the worst things to happen in a consistant arguement is a "Huh? I don't get it."
Why it's good for you: It'll be harder for them to think of something as good, or better, than what you had said. It'll keep everything flowing while making you look good and confident.
Positive Speech and Body Language: Keep your facial features calm or friendly, never tense or haughty. Ensure that your body is also calm but still exudes confidence. Keep your tone of voice controlled and at a good pitch(not too high and not too low).
Why it's bad not to: Tense facial features can show agression while haughty ones can easily offend them into thinking you don't take them seriously and think of them as inferior. Raising your voice will drown them out, and again, show aggression. A pitch too high will give the impression that you're immature and unintelligent; a pitch too low can make you seem uninterested or boring. Try to find the middle pitch for yourself.(Say mm hmm as you would spontaneously, then do it holding the hm, then transition from the hm to a sentence: mm hmmm how are you?)
Why it's good for you: This will keep both parties calm and show that you are ready to go into the conversation. They won't feel attacked and you won't seem as if your overreacting. You will sound intelligent and logical.
Finally(and most importantly), be sure of yourself and be prepared: I always try to go into an arguement already knowing where I stand and that I have sufficiant proof to back myself up(if something interests you, do some research). Also, think ahead to what the other person might say.
Why it's bad not to: You won't seem confident and will run out of things to say quickly. You will give the other person many opportunities to overthrow you. Plus, you'll feel a little embarrassed not knowing anything about what you're standing for.
Why it's good for you: You will be able to provide many reasons that will be hard to counter. It helps if you're passionate about what you're speaking of and have thought about it before. If you already know what they will argue, you can respond quickly and effectively, or even better, you can beat them too it. For example "Now I know you think it's good because ____, but on the other hand..."
In the end: If you know that they have you, then it's best just to admit it. Or if they haven't swayed you, just tell them but also say that they made good points to think about as well. They'll most likely appreciate it and see the maturity you have in handling yourself. Other then that, if there seems to be no end or rising tensions just call it off! say that you'll continue this another time or that each side is understandable and you should both leave it at that; agree to disagree. Everyone walks away happy and can move on with no hard feelings :)
If you follow these guidelines(if you don't already) I'm sure you'll see a difference in yourself, the other person, and will be surprised every step of the way. Give it a try, you might find it makes the arguement a whole lot more than just winning and losing. :)
Thursday, 16 July 2009
Marcel Duchamp's Fountain
(this portion pertains more to visual art)
...you appreciate a splatter and even an upside down urinal
...you're able to stare at something for hours in awe without knowing why
...everything starts to look like a reproductive organ or has a sexual reference
...you notice EVERYTHING of anything and pick at every little detail even if no one else will care(critical but appreciative)
...you'll defend any painting to a "that isn't art" even if you don't like it yourself
...you sound like your on drugs when you're analyzing a piece of art
So what is art?
I went to an arts highschool and I went to that school for visual arts. So of course when the art gallery nearby had been renovated it wasn't surprising that I wanted to go- and I took my younger brother and boyfriend along. They actually did want to come see it as well, the problem is that they hadn't been exposed to art the way I have been and I knew what to expect next.
It wasn't only from them, everywhere I went I could hear those who were probably in the same boat as my brother and boyfriend saying the same thing - "What IS that?" "How is this art?" "Even I could do that" "What makes this art and not, I don't know, something you made?"- And this is what I have/had to say(this can apply to all art):
Art is more than something that looks good or looks realistic, yes, it is about skill but there's also a purpose. Whether that purpose is to expand minds, educate, experiment, innovate, resonate, change form and function, or even just for the sake of expression; it may seem meaningless but it is a purpose nonetheless. Although it may not be evident, but art has changed the world. Some art is made for function and led to new inventions that we use today. Not to mention that it's a part of everything in our lives but we just take it for granted. Art had also been used as documentation in order to inform, remind, and teach. It tells us things that no textbook could ever. It changes how we see and understand things apart from what we see through our own eyes in ways we could never imagine. Could you really make what they had and do all that? Apart from that, art is about creation. It seems that the only time my boyfriend was impressed was by one sculpture to which he said "Now that's what i'm talking about, i've NEVER seen that before!" I jumped at this opportunity to point out that, to the art in these galleries going unappreciated, someone had said that before. You may look at that splatter or disfigured human body and think "how is this art?" but someone had once thought that long ago but on a whole different level- because it was something they had never seen before. These peices were breakthroughs, rebellion against society's norms, and it changed civilization as it changed with it. And it's through art that someone could express themselves no other way can in a way no one else will be able to.
Tuesday, 14 July 2009
I work long hours at a convenience store and everyday I see all kinds of people stop by. The most frequent are children by themselves and i'm a little bothered about this- not necessarily because most of them are unsupervised, but what I see them buying for themselves. And i'm not talking about candy; the most popular item kids around the age of 10 buy is energy drinks. They aren't limiting themselves to redbull either but even purchase those 16 ounce cans and sometimes, even worse, those tiny extremely concentrated bottles(they're really expensive too!).
Naturally when I saw them first buying these drinks I was full of questions such as "is this allowed?" "Should I be selling this to them at all?" "are they going to be ok?" and I even asked them "are your parents ok with you buying this or know your drinking this?". Of course they answer yes although there had been one situation where a parent came to complain. But the thing is, I'm working for someone else and there isn't anything that says I can tell them what they can and cannot buy(this often creates more problems) so I let them, but there have been times when I've seen a child try to buy more than three in a short amount of time and just had to say no. However, i'm not the parent, shouldn't someone who is be supervising their own kids on what they buy? I'm sure most parents would keep an eye on what goes into their child's mind like a hawk but what about what's going into their body?
Further more, what will this do to these kids in the future? If you think about it, it'll end up like drugs if these children who arent able to control themselves and what they want at this age begin to create a dependancy on these drinks. Sooner or later what will be a normal level of "energy"?
There are very few energy drinks that actually have an age restriction on their drinks(usually to under 18) or feel the need to while most do not. Many say they are natural or healthy and there are even energy drinks made for children. But I still question how "healthy" a drink can be that charges people the way it does even if it claims it is and I especially doubt whether they're healthy if a young child is drinking it. Do kids need something to give them more energy than they already do?
I feel I can leave out the health facts out since the drinks vary and most people are aware of them, it can be left for discussion.
Should energy drinks have an age restriction, or stricter ones, for kids or do you think they're ok? Should parents supervise what they're children buy?