Shaun White and the Seven Dwarfs

Okay. The seven dwarfs refers to other awesome olympians who are awesome, but can’t compare to Shaun White in coolness. I’d first just like to say that I think Shaun White is as cool as they come. He’s a totally intense, ultra-skilled snowboarder, and that automatically makes him cool. But on top of that, he has sweet hair. And on top of that, he is extremely classy whenever they interview him. I’d say that he and Michael Phelps compare decently in athletic ability, even though the latter is more decorated. I dunno. But when it comes to class, Michael Phelps has virtually none (even when showed him at the olympics this year, he was texting the first time, and chomping on gum the second time) and Shaun White is overflowing with it. I love it whenever they interview him, because he speaks so well and says such good stuff. I’m not gonna write any direct quotes because I’m too lazy to search right now. But I can just admonish the 2 of you that read this to watch him and his interviews if you haven’t yet.

The Ten Types of Runners

I read this great article in Runner’s World (which is an awesome running magazine) called A Few Rules to Run By. I’d really like to post it, but I think that might be plagarism. But you can read it at (I don’t know how to do links.) I loved this part, which wasn’t actually part of the article. It might not bring as many smiles and nods to non-runners, (that’s not meant as an insult) but I thought it was great. I couldn’t figure out how to make a table, so I guess this format works.

NAME: The Speed Freak
DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS:Buzzed hair. Supershort shorts. Racing flats. Twitch in one eye.
DANGEROUS?: Only if you get in his way.

NAME: The Weekend Warrior
DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS: Warrior tube socks. Midsection paunch. Grin. Headphones.
DANGEROUS?: Only if you make fun of his socks.

NAME: The Penguin
DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS: Plodding determination. Fanny pack.
DANGEROUS?: Only if you make fun of John Bingham.

NAME: The Charity Runner
DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS: Selflessness. Tears. Matching outfits.
DANGEROUS?: No… unless you are anti-“awareness.”

NAME: The Ultra Guy
DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS: Lean and tan to the nth degree. Quiet. Hard as nails.
DANGEROUS?: Only at an all-you-can-eat brunch buffet.

NAME: The Kicker
DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS: None whatsoever… until he or she unleashes a stiff, tight-lipped, arm-pumping sprint in the final 100 meters of a race.
DANGEROUS?: Lord help you if you get in the way of those pumping arms.

NAME: The Old-Timer
DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS: Faded cotton T-shirt from the 1981 Peachtree 10-K. Scar on neck from melanoma. Twinkle in eye. Conspicuous lack of gadgets. Advanced age.
DANGEROUS?: Heck, no. These guys are great.

NAME: The Triathlete
DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS: Ironman tattoo. Skintight unitard, possibly emblazoned with sponsors’ names. Comparatively large upper body. Vague smell of chorine.
DANGEROUS?: Only if you call him a unitard.

NAME: The Wacky Guy
DISTINGUISHING CHARACTERISTICS: “Antennas” headband, oversize novelty sunglasses, cowboy hat, kilt, superhero costume, etc. A grim determination to “have fun with it.”
DANGEROUS?: Probably not, although this guy might someday snap.

NAME: Joe Average
DANGEROUS?: Almost certainly.

The Quest for Spectacular (or the lack thereof)

“They keep coming up with new ways to celebrate mediocracy. But if someone is really great…” -Mr. Incredible. (The quote goes on, and believe me, my sisters and I can quote this entire scene.) But the greatness of superheroes aside, I think the same thoughts can be going through our heads about our very own society. What do we value? What isreally great? Let me make a list of what I think is really great and worth some serious recognition and appreciation.

1. High-quality music… I’m just gonna lay this on the table– I hate standing ovations 90% of the time. But I see it at almost every concert I go to. In fact, I think we’ve reached the point that it’s rude to not stand up. The message of a standing ovations just isn’t what it once was. So what now? Do we jump on the stage and carry the performers on our shoulders all around Provo? How do we differentiate something good from something great? How do we recognize sincere appreciation? Or do we? Is everything just heaped into one pile of quality?

2. Gourmet food… For example, very delicious food made by Melissa (my uncle’s good friend and graduate of Culinary Art school in France.) Or Pier 49 Pizza. Or Zupas tomato soup. None of this McDonalds, Arby’s, or Taco Bell. I’m all about the real stuff. As critic Anton Ego says in Rataouille, “I don’t like food, I love it. And if I don’t love it, I don’t swallow.” That’s disgusting! But point made, I suppose.

3. Wonderfully new new snow… Now this is really worth some excitement. I don’t know of anyone who appreciates icy/ muddy snow, but we still can’t let the value of this novelty go down.

4. Good literature… Here’s where I sort of contradict myself. There’s definitely some less-than-great writing out there that I love. (A few books come to mind right away…) And yes, they’re fun. Leisurely reading is splendid. I love it. But if people go through their whole lives without encountering and experiencing some really great stuff, then I think they’ve really deprived themselves of some education. I admit, not all classics quite up my alley or refreshing in any way (*cough* Of Mice and Men. *cough* Grapes of Wrath. *gag* The Great Gatsby). But then again, what defines a classic?

5. A really good movie… Don’t you hate it when you finish watching a movie, and then you say, “Why did I just waste 2 hours of my life watching that?” It feels awful. As long as you’re just gonna be lounging on your couch, you may as well be getting some good stuff out of what you’re seeing. For example, I would say The Scarlet Pimpernel is definitely worth its time. I would also say that The Lord of the Rings– even extended– is worth it. And what makes these good? I think some of the most important things are the overall message, the soundtrack, and the ending.

6. Good art? I actually really like abstract art and weird things like that. But why pictures that a 2-year old could have drawn (literally) sell for millions, I have no idea. And it turns out this 7-year old kid just started selling paintings for millions. But apparently his really are incredible. But here we are again: what is incredible?

And the list goes on. I think we as a society define incredible, and put value on what we think is good. I think we need to re-evaluate what we really appreciate, and mirror it in our own lives as well. If we individually try to pursue excellence, rather than get comfortable with mediocracy, I think we’d create a much more educated and aware society. Just some thoughts.

Harry Potter 7 Countdown

I lied. I’m sorry. I’m afraid this exciting and long-awaited day won’t occur until November 19, 2010. But it’s okay. That’s not too far away. And the good news about this movie is the DUMBLEDORE’S NOT IN IT! Michael Gambon grates my soul. Actually, I don’t know how they’re gonna do that Kings Cross scene and all that other stuff. I think I’ll do some more speculating later on. But for now, let us all keep the true Dumbledore, the one that really is dead, (that would be the actor of the first 2 movies) in our minds.

Girl Moved To Tears by "Of Mice and Men" Cliffs Notes: A Delightful Satire

I absolutely love satire, and this satire of Cliffs Notes is particularly funny to me since it’s highly applicable to school at this time. 🙂 I found this on the Onion, a satire website of which I am a big fan. So anyway… I get a huge kick out of this.

CHARLOTTESVILLE, VA—In what she described as “the most emotional moment” of her academic life, University of Virginia sophomore communications major Grace Weaver sobbed openly upon concluding Steinbeck’s seminal work of American fiction Of Mice And Men’s Cliffs Notes early last week.

“This book has changed me in a way that only great literature summaries can,” said Weaver, who was so shaken by the experience that she requested an extension on her English 229 essay. “The humanity displayed in the Character Flowchart really stirred something in me. And Lennie’s childlike innocence was beautifully captured through the simple, ranch-hand slang words like ‘mentally handicapped’ and ‘retarded.'”

Added Weaver: “I never wanted the synopsis to end.”

Weaver, who formed an “instant connection” with Lennie’s character-description paragraph, said she began to suspect the novel might end tragically after reading the fourth sentence which suggested the gentle giant’s strength and fascination with soft things would “lead to his untimely demise.”

“I was amazed at how attached to him I had become just from the critical commentary,” said Weaver, still clutching the yellow-and-black-striped study guide. “When I got to the last sentence—’George shoots Lennie in the head,’—it seemed so abrupt. But I found out later that the ‘ephemeral nature of life’ is a major theme of the novel.”

Weaver was assigned Of Mice And Men—a novel scholars have called “a masterpiece of austere prose” and “the most skillful example of American naturalism under 110 pages”—as part of her early twentieth-century fiction course, and purchased the Cliffs Notes from a cardboard rack at her local Barnes & Noble. John Whittier-Ferguson, her professor for the class, told reporters this was not the first time one of his students has expressed interest in the novel’s plot summary.

“It’s one of those universal American stories,” said Ferguson after being informed of Weaver’s choice to read the Cliffs Notes instead of the pocket-sized novel. “I look forward to skimming her essay on the importance of following your dreams and randomly assigning it a grade. *That’s my favorite part.*

Though she completed the two-page brief synopsis in one sitting, Weaver said she felt strangely drawn into the plot overview and continued on, exploring the more fleshed-out chapter summaries.

“There’s something to be said for putting in that extra time with a good story,” Weaver said. “You just get more out of it. I’m also going to try to find that book about rabbits that George was always reading to Lennie, so that I can really understand that important allusion.”

Within an hour of completing the cliffs notes, Weaver was already telling friends and classmates that Steinbeck was her favorite author, as well as reciting select quotations from the “Important Quotations” section for their benefit.

“When I read those quotes, found out which characters they were attributed to, and inferred their context from the chapter outlines to piece together their significance, I was just blown away,” said a teary-eyed Weaver. “And the way Steinbeck wove the theme of hands all the way through the section entitled ‘Hands’—he definitely deserved to win that Nobel Prize.”

Weaver’s roommate, Giulia Crenshaw, has already borrowed the dog-eared, highlighted summary of the classic Depression-era saga, and is expecting to enjoy reading what Weaver described as “a really sad story about two brothers who love to farm.”

“I loved this book so much, I’m going to read all of Steinbeck’s Cliffs Notes,” said Weaver. “But first I’m going to go to the library to check out the original version Of Mice And Men starring John Malkovich and Gary Sinise.”

Stressballs Wanted

This past week has been the most stressful week of my life. Let’s recap. It was the last week of the term (meaning grades due, 50 pounds of homework, and term finals), it was State cross country, we had the fall choir concert, and I had the ACT. Quite honestly, I don’t know what else I could’ve had to make the week more stressful! But the point is, I was expecting a huge weight to be lifted off my shoulders after it was all over, and it really wasn’t, and I don’t know why.

I fear I’ve become to accustomed to feeling stressed that I don’t know how to feel any other way. Well, probably not that drastic, but I think it’s a lot more of a mindset that an actual feeling. So I deem stress completely unnecessary and not something I wish to experience. The remedy is:

1. Make a list of everything that has to happen
2. Mentally prepare very far in advance; meditate if possible
3. Go running frequently
4. Eat good food
5. Sleep as much as possible

So this week will be stress-free, and I plan on all other weeks being the same. No need to activate your endocrine system when the parasympathetic nervous system could be employed instead. And I think I might take up yoga while I’m at it.

"Don’t worry, be happy!"

When I find myself in times of trouble, a voice in my head comes to me speaking words of wisdom: “Let it be!”. This year I’ve had a goal to always be positive, and I actually think I’ve done quite a fine job so far. But occasionally, and especially of late, I’ve found myself often dwelling on negativity– encounters I’m embarrassed of, things I wish I’d said, things I wish I’d done, things that have gone wrong, etc. And the only solitary things I get out of it is a sinking feeling in my stomach and miserable thoughts. Who wants to feel like that? Definitely not me.

So if I have a say in the matter, which I happen to, then I’m just not gonna allow those feelings to enter my soul and mess up my Positive Thought Conveyor Belt. One of my friends told me about a documentary his mom really likes called “The Secret”. I haven’t seen it, but apparently it talks about how you can achieve whatever you want, as long as you keep your thoughts focused on it. (Like I said, I haven’t seen this.) He wanted to feel good about himself and be more outgoing, so he just kept thinking positive thoughts about himself. He told me that when something didn’t happen like he’d wanted it to, or he was embarrassed of something, he pushed those thoughts out of his mind and replaced them with positive things instead. I think that’s a really important skill– you can always find something positive about any situation, any hard time, and any (****) phone conversation. So what’s the point in remembering the bad parts when there are good parts to remember instead?
I think I’m pretty good at being positive about others, and usually about my situations. But it’s just hard for me to give myself a break and stop being worried about things I’d said or done that weren’t exactly perfect. So I’m going to take the skill that I’m working on mastering in being positive about others, and channeling it to myself as well. After all, “it does not do well to dwell on unpleasant things”. (Is that really a quote?) I’m gonna spread my happiness to others, and not only think positive thoughts to myself, but share them. Because when everyone’s happy… no one isn’t. (Harken back to the Incredibles if you didn’t catch that sort-of quote.)
So if I chance to meet a frown, I will not let it stay. I’ll quickly turn it upside down, and smile that frown away! No one likes a frowny face, change it for a smile. Make the world a better place by smiling all the while!

Penelope and Presh

One of my favorite movies is Penelope. In fact, I do believe Aileen and I have watched it like 7 times in the last week or two. I think the thing that draws us to it the most is the total preshness (yes, that is a word, and if it’s not, we use it frequently enough for it to be) of the story. Throughout the entire movie, we sigh and anticipate and audibly portray our complete and total enthrallment of this “totally presh” story.

So having presented this view, let us further investigate. What makes a story “totally presh”? These are some of the preshest elements of Penelope:
*Max already really likes Penelope when he finally sees her, because he got to know her first. So where other boys jumped out of the window upon seeing her, he was hardly phased. He loved her for her personality, not her face.