Sunday, November 25, 2007

kickin' off the season

Growing up, my family always took part in two sacred holiday rituals. (I realize these are not in order according to timeline, but bear with me.) Every Christmas Eve we read and act out the Nativity. I think it was cute when we were little... making my uncle Wade don donkey ears and crawl on all fours across the family room, with one of the little girls on his back. It's pretty funny actually - there came a point where there were too many cousins for all the "roles", so our parents made up extra animals and characters so that everyone could be in costume. I'm pretty sure someone was a frog one year. SO NOT KIDDING! The other, equally sentimental, tradition is that every Thanksgiving after we've gorged ourselves on "second dinner" (you know, the meal a couple hours after the meal), we watch White Christmas.

Anyway... since I've been married, I've had to tweak the latter tradition a bit. Since my kind, loving husband refuses to watch any movie filmed prior to 1980, and I don't want to spend Thanksgiving night alone in my living room, I've started watching White Christmas the day after Thanksgiving instead. And surprisingly, this new arrangement works out perfectly! I get to hum along to such tunes as "Sisters" and "Mandy" while performing my favorite task in the world... Christmas decorating! Which, since I splurged and bought a fake PRE-LIT tree this year, is actually a fun activity!

So folks, White Christmas has been screened, the tree is lit, Nat King Cole is in the CD player, and the Christmas season has officially begun!

lime anyone?

This isn't nearly as funny as the lemon incident at Ryan's wedding... but Laurel and I were cracking up last week watching Isabel suck on the limes at Cafe Rio (there's a new one in Orem, by the way). I think Laurel drank one too many Diet Cokes with a twist while pregnant, cuz this kid has some weird chew toys.

Saturday, November 17, 2007

Elder Brett Kempton Lee

Laurel already talked about this on her blog... but I'm excited too! Brett got his mission call this week. He's been called to serve in the Arizona Tempe mission. Honestly, it's the last place any of us would have guessed; but it is so awesome! It just feels so right. He is such a stellar person and I know he'll be a phenomenal missionary. My mom grew up just around the corner from his mission (in Mesa), so I'm sure they'll start their own little exclusive "AZ club" soon. Brett's just bummed that the weather will force him to wear short-sleeved white shirts with a tie - a fashion faux pas that, I regret to admit, Brad has been sporting long since his mission. I love them both anyway.

Everybody wish him luck!!

p.s. Gotta hand it to Arizona for the killer desert sunsets!

Monday, November 12, 2007

Top 10 Overrated Books

Sorry guys. While thinking of my favorites I couldn't help but think of
my least favorites. Disclaimer: These are not books I necessarily hate
(well, not all of them anyway)... I just think they're overrated. And
there's more than one that I never even finished. (So maybe my
credibility just plummeted? Oh well.)

1. Huckleberry Finn
2. Sister Carrie
3. The Giver
4. The Work and the Glory
5. Moby Dick
6. Tess of the D'urbervilles
7. The Great Gatsby
8. Jane Eyre
9. David Copperfield
10. Uncle Tom’s Cabin

Top 10 Books: According to Michelle

At lunch today, a colleague asked the question: "What is the best book ever written?" (He teaches Psychology and likes to ask "deep" questions".) I still don't have an answer for him (besides the easy religious response), but it got me thinking. So in true College Times fashion, I came up with my own Top 10 list. (In no particular order.)

1. Pride and Prejudice
Jane Austen. This one is nostalgic… contrary to popular (male) belief, it’s not just a sappy love story. It’s all about personal growth, family idiosyncrasies, absurdities associated with social hierarchy, and finding compatibility in relationships.

2. East of Eden
John Steinbeck’s spin on the Garden of Eden (set in the turn of the century). It’s really heavy; it deals with adultery, murder, rivalry, prostitution, all in one seriously jacked-up family. But it provides great discourse on innate evil and the mistreatment of family members.

3. Les Miserables
Everyone knows this story: survival, sin, revenge, love, prejudice, dignity, repentance, and overall, redemption. I’d like to think that I was friends with Victor Hugo in a previous life.

4. The Brothers K
David James Duncan. Set in good ole Camas, Washington… paper mill and all. Brett hated this book. But once you get past the incessant profanity, it’s actually a really true-to-life story about family relationships and the life (and religious) lessons we learn from baseball. Also, as the book progresses and the narrator gets older, his grammar and vocabulary improve… so the writing actually improves as well. Kind of unique.

5. 1984
George Orwell’s creepy outlook on a highly probable futuristic society. Coolest concept: thoughtcrime. Props to V for Vendetta for depicting a 1984-esque Britain complete with wall screens and hyper-conservativism. (Is that a word?)

6. Frankenstein
Mary Shelley. I love this story because of its modern implications like stem-cell research and cloning, and the nature vs. nurture debate. It’s all about how the creature’s negative experiences, incensed by loneliness, shape him into the murderous monster he becomes.

7. Life of Pi
Yann Martel. This is a pretty trippy book, but is SO well written and unique! It switches plot lines more than once, and the author’s entire premise is, that it’s “a story that will make you believe in God”… which in itself turns out to be a very loaded statement. Cool read.

8. To Kill A Mockingbird
Harper Lee. (I once told my friends Harper Lee was my grandpa for attention… turns out she’s a girl. And an amazing writer.) TKAM is an emotional depiction of Southern racism, social elitism, legal corruption, and the overall treatment of human beings. And it’s brilliantly written from a child’s perspective... this book is the best part about tenth grade curriculum.

9. Paradise Lost
Here’s another Garden of Eden depiction….John Milton was truly inspired. He wrote the epic after he’d completely lost his sight. He narrated the whole thing to a scribe, with very few revisions afterward, in iambic pentameter! You can’t take it as scripture – but it definitely sheds some light on the nature of Satan through his very charismatic, very manipulative, rhetoric.

10. Nathaniel Hawthorne short stories
K, this shouldn’t really count… but I love Hawthorne’s short stories (better than his novels)! My favorite is probably Rappaccinni’s Daughter. Holy cow! I just realized that it’s a Garden of Eden depiction as well… are we sensing a pattern here?? He is just such a master of allegory, and tends to paint a really negative picture of Puritanism that I find delightfully cynical.

Thursday, November 1, 2007

born again

Last night, I was taking out the garbage between Trick or Treating knocks, and I just had to have a moment's pause. Like a dork, I just stood in my driveway watching all the little kids walking the streets with their parents, pumpkin-shaped goodie baskets in hand. I'm pretty sure I teared up.

What is it about kids in fluffy little costumes that's so darn adorable? And the excitement that they get from one crappy fun-size Crunch bar is beyond me. (Except for the little turds that grab a handful... grrr...)

Anyway - it's like, all the magic of the holiday came flooding back to me... (you know, since the fateful year when my parents forbade me to mooch candy from my neighbors anymore) and I was totally caught up in the moment. I'm so happy to live in a place where there are so many young families to participate in stuff like this! Not to mention the fact that it's SAFE enought for them to participate in stuff like this. I'm not saying Payson is exempt from problems... but there are so many scary places in the world; I'm glad that I don't have to worry about things AS MUCH.

Bottom line: 2007 has restored my faith in Halloween.