Monday, August 27, 2012

TV I Watched This Summer

With this summer drawing to a close and all my fall programs starting to return in the next month or so, I figured I'd share what I've been watching this summer.

Continued From Last Summer
Alphas - A much more interesting superhero show than Heroes, IMHO. The characters are compelling, the psychological aspect of it is fascinating, and the stories are intelligent.

Franklin and Bash - There's very little substance to this show, but it's more light-hearted and fun than most lawyer shows, which get bogged down in serious drama, and the two main characters are great fun.

The Glee Project - This still has my vote for most interesting talent-based competition of all time.

Wilfred - I was shocked this one came back, to be honest. People besides me liked it? I still think this is Elijah Wood's best role. The show's hilarious and irreverent and awkward and occasionally quite moving.

New This Summer
Bunheads - I started watching for Sutton Foster and kept watching for the snappy dialogue and entertaining characters. This show is guaranteed to make me laugh out loud at least two or three times an episode, which is pretty darn impressive for a comedy/drama.

The Newsroom - Aaron Sorkin cannot write female characters to save his life, but the parts of this show set focusing on the actual newsroom are *unbelievably* captivating - the show has not once let me down in that respect.

Perception - Sort of Monklike, except so much more implausible. (EVERYONE in EVERY case appears to have some sort of psychological disorder.) It's Eric McCormack's wonderful portrayal of the main character and my own fondness for psychology-based plots that keep me wrapped up in this one.

What have you guys been watching this summer? What are you most anticipating the return of this fall?

Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Some Blog Business

So, confession: I haven't actually written a blog entry in something like 2 1/2 weeks. The last two weeks' worth of blogs were all written in early August and post-dated. I tend to write when I have ideas or inspiration and then post-date so that if I have a quiet Wednesday and don't feel like writing a blog post RIGHT THIS SECOND even though I'm supposed to, I haven't abandoned my audience.

However, it's been a quiet couple of weeks.

There are a few reasons for this.

1) I started a job, worked there for 3 weeks, and then got a better one which I began on Monday, so my schedule's been a bit wonky and I've been losing track of blogging responsibilities. Also, the person whose phone I use to connect to the Internet has changed work schedules and started going to school full time, so I get Internet connectivity less.

2) I've had a bit of writers' block. Nothing's really coming to mind that I want to write about. (If any of you have ideas of things you want to see me talk about or respond to, feel free to throw them out there. I would totally do readers' choice blogs.)

3) I may be going through a bit of depression. I've never been clinically diagnosed and I've never been suicidal, so I'm sometimes hesitant to use the word "depression" - I don't want to be one of those people who just assumes that because they feel a little sad, they must be depressed - but every now and then I hit a patch of inconsolable sadness, anxiety and fear/resentment of the world around me. Sometimes it lasts a couple weeks, which would put me near the end of it now. Sometimes it lasts months. I haven't had a major attack in a couple of years, so I don't know how this one is going to hit me. One of the results, though, is that I frequently lose focus and energy for non-essential activities. Writing is usually at the top of the list. I blog and write and journal less when I'm depressed. (It can be cathartic, so I sometimes try to push myself to write *more*, but that's not always successful.)

So, all that to say... If my blog's a little sporadic for a while, it could be one of those reasons. I will do my best to get back on track and have *something* up for you most schedule days (routines are good! Schedules are good!) but if I don't, it's probably related to one of those three reasons.

To close out this rather boring entry, here's a silly video!

Friday, August 17, 2012

Musical Spotlight: The Music Man

In my last musical spotlight blog, I promised you something a little less poppy in the next one. I decided to go all the way back to what is probably my favorite classic musical - The Music Man, with music and lyrics by Meredith Willson. I love pretty much everything about this musical. I love the music, I love the lyrics, I love the story, I love the dancing, and I especially love the 1962 movie version with Robert Preston reprising the title role he played on Broadway. There's a 2003 TV version as well, but that stars Matthew Broderick, whose charisma seems to have been cut in half every year since Ferris Bueller. Although I dearly love Kristin Chenoweth as Marian, the title character has all the best songs, and if he's not wonderful, the show doesn't come together. So don't bother watching the new one - if you're going to watch this movie, look for the original.

All right. Now on to a few of my very favorite songs. (It was HARD to cut this one down.)

1. Rock Island
A brilliantly original opening number that gives us a nice amount of exposition. A group of traveling salesmen on a train complain about how life is difficult for a traveling salesman these days, and how a lot of it is due to a con man named Harold Hill who poses as a traveling salesmen selling boys' bands. (We learn later that "he don't know one note from another" - he simply collects money for dues, uniforms, and lessons, and then skips town.)

The song is spoken in rhythm instead of sung - in the rhythm of the train they're riding. The words move fast, following the chugchugchugchug pattern of the moving train. And let me tell you, this is one VERY satisfying number to sing along to. Or talk along to. Or whatever.

2. Ya Got Trouble
OK, I just finished rewatching this to write about it, and I can't stop smiling. Robert Preston is incredible in this role.

Anyway, on to the song: Traveling salesman Harold Hill shows up in the tiny town of River City, Iowa, and knows that before he can start peddling his wares, he needs to create the illusion that this town is in deep trouble and that only a boys' band can save it. In a very TV evangelist kind of way, he latches onto the new pool table the town has just gotten and manages in the span of about 3 minutes to convince the entire town that "that game with the 15 numbered balls is the devil's tool."

This song, like Rock Island, is mostly spoken in rhythm (I swear this musical does have some actual singing in it). I love how quickly the words go by, certainly imitating the slick, fast-paced talk of an experienced con man, who knows that the more he keeps talking, the less time people have to process what he said and find the holes in it.

3. Seventy-Six Trombones
In this song, Hill riles up the River City citizens about the pool table again at a city meeting and then jumps in as the hero, painting with this song an image of a patriotic, healthy community bonding together over their band, if they'll only let him save them all. He manages to get the entire town up and dancing around and through the streets with imaginary instruments. Only the town librarian Marian Paroo is not taken in by Hill's slick charm and vivid imagination, and when the mayor gushes about how great their band is, she calmly responds, "What band?"

I think this is the song that captures for me what I love most about this movie and, really, about musicals in general. Hill is a storyteller, a picture painter. He grabs people's hearts by helping them imagine what *could* be, and then convinces them he can make that happen. When he's accompanied by actual music with brassy instrumentation and dance sequences, it's just as infectious an image for me as an audience member. I don't even *like* brass bands or community activities, and yet I find this song engaging, inspiring, and kinda wish I was there.

Embedding disabled, but you can watch this clip here.

4. Marian the Librarian
Another one I can't stop smiling at. In this one, Hill goes to the library to... well, not quite seduce Marian, as it is a very public place, but he definitely wants to win her over to his way of thinking. And while it doesn't work entirely, she does let her guard down and allows herself to enjoy even something as forbidden as tap dancing in the library.

Admittedly, while this song is *really* sexual harrassment-y, I really like it. It's another song that very smartly uses rhythm - it incorporates organic, context-driven sounds into the music (for example, the stamping of the library books and the other library patrons shushing). Its varying in volume is context-driven, as well; the singing keeps rising to non-library-approved standard and must be brought back down again.

Random fact: When I was like eleven, I took my movie soundtrack, took the first "a" sound in "Marian," looped it for like a minute and inserted it back into its place in the song, just because it was hilarious to me to hear him sing "Maaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaarian," like he'd forgotten what the end of his word was.

To my great distress, there is no available video of this song (why is this one taken down for copyright and none of the others are? Hmm), just audio. But here is the audio:

5. 'Til There Was You
I figured I should include not just Harold Hill songs, and I've recently grown to really love this song, sung by Marian to Hill at the end of the show. When I was younger, I dismissed it as being too generic, but rewatching it this time, I realize it's actually *very* specific to the situation. There are a lot of songs that sing about "you opened my eyes to the beauty around me," but that is EXACTLY what Harold Hill does for this town. The town grows to love Hill not just because he's charismatic and they yearn for his approval - they grow to love him because he (perhaps inadvertently) teaches them how to love their own lives. He brings music and community and adventure to them.

Also, this song is just really pretty. The Beatles covered it, but it was less pretty then and more cheerful.

Overall, The Music Man has a smart, funny script, great songs, a very satisfying story, and, if you watch the original movie version, some really fantastic performances. I think I might stick with the older musicals for awhile and explore a few of my other favorites in the next couple spotlights. I have a tendency to lean toward newer musicals stylistically, but there really are some wonderful ones from pre-rock opera days. And the nice thing is, most of my favorites are available as movies, since they were all about musical movies back then.

Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Seriously, ChaCha, What?

I had been watching the latest episode of Alphas, saw Zak Penn listed as co-creator, and suddenly felt like that name was familiar. I wondered if there was anything else I knew him from. The following text exchange ensued.

Me: Who is Zak Penn?

ChaCha: Zak Krug is on Facebook. Facebook gives people the power to share and makes the world more open and connected.

Me: What has Zak Penn done on TV?

ChaCha: Could you please specify who "She" is? If you do that ChaCha would love to tell you what "she" has done on TV!

Me: Tell me what Zak Penn has done on TV.

ChaCha: The institutions that are responsible for local government within states are typical town,... For more go to [a link]

Me: Wow. Clearly nobody's even reading my question. You people suck sometimes. This is not difficult to google. Look up Zak Penn on IMDb & tell me about him.

ChaCha: KeVontae Hairlson attends Henderson County's High School and plays basketball on the basketball team. He wears the number 4.

Me: I. Hate. You.

ChaCha: I don't hate you. Thank you for using ChaCha!

Me: Then answer my question. Who is Zak Penn?

ChaCha: We found millions of A's but not to that Q.

Me: Zak Penn

ChaCha: Zak Penn wrote, and directed Incident at Loch Ness, and The Grand. He also co-wrote the script for X-Men: The Last Stand.

Me: THANK YOU. See, that wasn't so difficult. You just have to not be dumb.

ChaCha: Thank you. Can I help you with another question?

Me: HAHAHAHA. Nope. I'm done asking you guys for answers. It shouldn't take me 8 tries to get a simple answer.

ChaCha: Then ask how do you do this math problem

Me: LOL LOL whaaat? That response didn't even make sense. That was so dumb I can't even tell if you're a lazy expeditor or a horrible automatic search.

ChaCha: Yo mama's so fat when she wears a yellow raincoat, people said "Taxi! All Hail Chacha!

(Yeah, there's no close quote on it. The joke loses some effect if the people are hailing ChaCha...)

Me: ...OK, this is all going on my blog as proof of how much you suck.

ChaCha: I'm sorry those services aren't provided by ChaCha and are illegal in the State I work in. Thanks for asking though.

Me: ...You live someplace where blogs are illegal?

ChaCha: I personally don't blog at webblog but if you're interesting in blogging about something you're passionate about, give it a try!

Wow. Just... wow. Seriously, I wouldn't think people are even working on these questions anymore, except for the fact that the answers are *so* bad that an automatic search would almost certainly do better. It takes a human to screw up this terribly.

Monday, August 13, 2012

My Gracious Speech Checklist

A few weeks ago, I found myself in the middle of 5 or 6 very disheartening conversations, where a Christian would say something that offended somebody else, which then made the original poster say something like, "Hey, I'm just stating my opinion/speaking the truth/calling it like I see it," which then made other people jump in and add, "Yeah! Never apologize for the truth!"

But here's the deal. Even if you believe what you're saying is important truth that should be said, you will (and should) be held accountable for the *way* in which you say it. Ephesians 4:15 mentions "speaking the truth in love," a phrase that gets tossed around by a lot of Christians. Too often it refers solely to the heart intentions ("I say these hurtful things because I love you"), rather than also addressing the way they are said. Speaking the truth in love doesn't mean just speaking it BECAUSE of love - it also means speaking it in a loving way.

Here are some helpful questions I sometimes ask myself when I'm about to write/post/say something that I know might offend or hurt someone.

Do I sound like I am gloating or rejoicing over someone else's suffering?
This is pretty straightforward - that's not loving. 1 Corinthians 13:6 says "Love does not delight in evil." If anything I say sounds like I am delighting in the pain, suffering or humiliation of others, it is not loving. God's not a fan of that either. (Ezekiel 18:23.)

If someone who felt like they were failing read my post, would it discourage them further?
1 Thessalonians 5:14 tells us to "admonish the unruly, encourage the fainthearted, help the weak." Often people gear teachings or lessons toward the unruly and admonish, admonish, admonish... and then the fainthearted hear it or read it and become extremely discouraged. I am frequently in that boat. It is disheartening to hear condemnation of my doubts and failures - and, most of the time, when I tell someone I felt that way about their post, they immediately say, "Oh, but I didn't mean YOU." That's the thing, though - when posted publicly on the Internet, you never know who's going to read it and take it to heart in a way you didn't intend.

Am I willing to be part of the solution?
If I'm willing to complain or lecture someone about it, I should be prepared to be part of the solution on a personal level. If someone comes to me and says, "I'm really struggling with what you said in your post and I need to talk to someone about it," am I prepared to offer my help? Sometimes I realize I would really rather just complain about it, and in that case, there's not much edification in saying it.

What do I hope people will say when they read this?
This is sometimes a very revealing question for me about why I'm saying what I'm saying. Sometimes I realize I want people to say, "You're right, I'm wrong." And in that case... it's probably not a productive thing to post. If I'm just seeking affirmation or "being right," my heart is not in the right place.

The response I try to write for most often these days is, "Huh. That made me think," or "That was encouraging to read." I want to write things that challenge people, not to follow my own ideologies, but to puzzle out the issues on their own. And I want to write things that are encouraging, that help them rediscover joy and love and peace in their lives.

(If I am responding to something or somebody) Have I truly listened to them? Do I understand *why* they're saying what they are saying?
My first goal in a conversation with somebody is to first understand what they are saying to me. I want to get inside their head and understand their reasoning, their experiences, their thought processes. All my responses tend to be geared around that. Even in sharing my own opinion, I share it in the hopes that they will be able to use it to articulate their own stance ("Oh, yeah, I agree with you on that" or "Oh, no, actually, I think this instead").

Too often I have been a part of discussions where people argue back and forth but NOBODY is listening to what the other side is saying. There is no attempt at understanding them, because they already have their responses ready. For me, there is nothing more likely to make me shut down in conversation than feeling like I am not being listened to. If I have to repeat my main point 3 or 4 times because you're not actually responding to it, I can assume that you're not going to actually hear anything I say and are just talking to hear yourself talk, rather than opening a dialogue.

Listen. Listen, listen, listen. This is actually probably the most important thing out of all of these.

If somebody who had never interacted with a Christian but discovered I was one read my post, what might they assume?
There are a lot of stereotypes about Christian behavior out there, and while almost everyone in the US knows several people who identify themselves as Christian, I have definitely met a few (especially from other countries) who really have never closely interacted with any. All they know are the stereotypes. If I'm not comfortable with the fact that my statement could be used as a generalization for how Christians behave everywhere, maybe I should be careful about what I'm saying.

Has my viewpoint been used to hurt people? How will those who have been hurt by this see my post?
This one is difficult, because nearly every viewpoint I can think of has been used to hurt, bully, manipulate, and abuse people. That's what people do. They take beliefs and worldviews and use them to control the people around them. So whatever I post, chances are high that someone reading it has been hurt by someone who believed what I believe.

Does this mean I shouldn't say it? No, not necessarily. But it means I need to be sensitive to that. I need to be aware that there are a lot of people out there who HAVE been hurt by the church and by those who carry out church teachings in a hateful way. If your beliefs *cannot* be said in a way that demonstrates love and compassion, you may want to reconsider what you believe.

And beyond all, if somebody who HAS been hurt by the things you say approaches you, be generous. Be gracious. Be kind. Don't negate their pain or rush to defend their attackers. Acknowledge their hurt. If you contributed in any way, apologize.

This checklist comes back around to the first question - am I rejoicing in someone's suffering? Or am I rejoicing with those who rejoice, weeping with those who weep, and seeking to present my beliefs in the most loving way to the most people?

Friday, August 10, 2012

A Relationship in Movies

When compiling last week's list of "interesting/important movie experiences," I realized a LOT of them were significant or memorable moments in my relationship with Jacob. I generally bond with people very quickly over artistic things, so it's no surprise that our relationship would contain its fair amount of movie-related memories. These are all ones I considered for the original list before deciding to cobble them together into this list instead.

1. Alice in Wonderland. The first movie I remember watching with him. I went with some friends (including him) all went to see this in theaters. At this point I had definitely developed a crush on him (and, although I didn't know it, he liked me as well). We ended up sitting next to each other in the theater, and we tried to identify all the celebrity voices we heard from the creatures. It turned out we both knew the same set of celebrities, which was refreshing for me after talking with a lot of people who tried to claim movie buff status but really hadn't seen much of anything. The highlight of the evening was when the dragon spoke and Jacob and I looked at each other, eyes wide with excitement, and whispered almost simultaneously, "THAT'S CHRISTOPHER LEE!" I had so much fun gleefully searching for celebrities with him, and I left the theater more certain than ever that I really, really liked this guy.

2. Casablanca. The first movie we saw together by ourselves... and the first time I showed him one of my favorite movies. (And one of the few - we always tended to go with a larger group.) I mentioned it was my favorite movie and he expressed interest in watching it. So I grabbed my copy, we found a room on campus with a DVD player and a screen, and I introduced it to him. It made me nervous, since I didn't really know much about his movie preferences at the time - was he against classic movies? Was he against movies where he had to think about them? When it was over, though, he may not have been as enthralled with it as I was, but he liked it, and I felt better.

3. The Crazies. The first horror movie we watched together, which apparently started a trend, since the only horror movies I have ever seen in theaters have been with him. That's really the only significant thing about this movie.

4. Scott Pilgrim vs. the World. We bonded over this movie. A group of us went to see it. While a few didn't like it and a few mildly liked it, Jacob and I developed a ridiculous enthusiasm for this movie. He and I went back to see it the following weekend (accompanied by another small group of friends). When it came out on DVD, he instantly bought it and organized a mini "Let's watch Scott Pilgrim!" party on campus. In our small group of friends, it was always Jacob and I against the other two in our opinions on this movie.

5. Hop. And here, the reverse happened. The group of friends all saw a free showing of this movie. One friend thought it was OK and the other LOVED it... however, for Jacob and myself, this movie became our standard for measuring movie badness.

6. Fright Night. Horror movie #2! We hadn't been all that interested it in on its own, but then discovered David Tennant was in it. I had just gotten Jacob hooked on Doctor Who, so the two of us and a friend all went out to see the movie in all our nerdy glee. We all enjoyed it more than we thought we would.

7. Paranormal Activity 3. The first movie we saw together after we became an official couple. Or, well, it was going to be. He invited me to go see it with the gang the day we did become a couple, and I thought, "OK, this is our first official coupley outing, and I don't really wanna see Paranormal Activity 3, but I do want to spend time with him, so, uh... OK!" However, we got there and the movie was sold out. So this entry is a lie. PSYCH!

Real #7. Mean Girls. We went back to one friend's house and watched this instead. I'd never seen it before and thoroughly enjoyed it. This is a MUCH better movie for the "first movie as a couple" category than Paranormal Activity 3.

8. Paranormal Activity 3. Yeah, we went back to see it. After watching Mean Girls, we went back and caught a later showing. The theater was almost sold out, so the four of us couldn't sit together, but Jacob and I found a spot and the other two girls found a spot. Jacob and I both agreed afterward that the movie was pretty dumb. The highlight was when the main character opened a shed door and there were a bunch of witches behind it, and a crazy audience member behind us yelled, "THERE ARE NINE GRANDMAS IN THE CLOSET!" Jacob and I still occasionally reference that, and constantly hope for closeted grandmas in all horror movies we watch now.

9. Moulin Rouge! We'd both seen this before already, but decided to have a movie night one night and watch something together. We had each brought a couple of our favorite movies to choose from and, rather than choosing something that one or the other hadn't seen, we opted for this one, which we both love (it's one of my all-time favorites). It's important to me that I can share my artistic loves with those around me. As I watched it, I remembered feeling a sense of delight that I was dating someone who loved this movie as much as I did.

10. Cabin in the Woods. The last movie we saw together before I graduated. We're both avid Joss Whedon fans, and we went with a small group to go see this. When the credits rolled, we both looked at each other and agreed that THAT. WAS. AMAZING. And discussed it all the way home.

11. The Evil Dead. We watched this together via Netflix at his house. Neither of us had seen it, but we'd both wanted to watch it for awhile, and I figured I should continue my trend of watching horror movies with him. It was completely ridiculous and silly, and we cheerfully made fun of it the whole way through, making it so much more fun than if I had watched it by myself. The experience of watching the movie with him, yelling, "DO SOMETHING, ASH!" at the screen was so, so much more fun than the movie itself.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Emotional Purity: When You Use Up All Your Love

I ran across this the other day on a blog. I had completely forgotten about this story, originally printed in Josh Harris' book I Kissed Dating Goodbye and used by many a youth leader to teach their students about purity.

The story starts with a girl getting married. She gushes for awhile about how pretty the church is, yadda yadda, and then stuff happens:

But as the minister began to lead Anna and David through their vows, the unthinkable happened. A girl stood up in the middle of the congregation, walked quietly to the altar, and took David's other hand. Another girl approached and stood next to the first, followed by another. Soon, a chain of six girls stood by him as he repeated his vows to Anna.
Anna felt her lip beginning to quiver as tears welled up in her eyes. "Is this some kind of joke?" she whispered to David.
"I'm...I'm sorry, Anna," he said, staring at the floor.
"Who are these girls, David? What is going on?" she gasped.
"They're girls from my past," he answered sadly. "Anna, they don't mean anything to me now...but I've given part of my heart to each of them."
"I thought your heart was mine," she said.
"It is, it is," he pleaded. "Everything that's left is yours."
A tear rolled down Anna's cheek. Then she woke up.

My eyes widened and I might have even shouted out loud, "OH MY GOSH, I JUST REALIZED! THAT STUPID METAPHOR IS WHAT MESSED WITH ME!"

When it comes to talking about relationships for teenagers in the church I grew up in, the big emphasis is on purity. The guys mostly learn about physical purity, while the girls learn about emotional purity and guarding our hearts. And most of the time they use a particular metaphorical story from Josh Harris' I Kissed Dating Goodbye book. While I am totally OK with nontraditional dating styles, that metaphor has (and had, for me) some unintended consequences.

So the teaching is that if you give too much of your heart away before marriage, you won't have anything left for your spouse.


And here are the problems with that.

1. It makes it sound like love is finite.
This is the most obvious problem with that. The more I love, the less love I have in the end? That is not how that works. While obviously romantic love is a little bit different than platonic friendship, it still doesn't work that way and nobody really thinks it does. If it did, the church would be cautioning people to pace their love in their early years, otherwise they won't have enough left for later. That's complete nonsense, and we recognize it in that scenario, so how come in the emotional purity scenario, I'm suddenly running out of love? This is just a silly, silly way of thinking about it.

2. It makes it sound like we can never let go of our past.
This is a more serious issue. There's no such thing as really moving on in Josh Harris' story. The groom admits that these women mean nothing to him, but it doesn't matter. Every relationship (for girls, this teaching is frequently extended to every single person with whom we've even desired a relationship) will leave a permanent, damaging scar on our hearts and souls. Even mutual breakups where the pair are still friends. Even a silly week-long camp romance in middle school. Even lighthearted impossible crushes. Each one of these will stay with us forever and come between us and our spouse in marriage.

It's an even more damaging message, however, when the relationships are serious one. I have a friend who was engaged and then found out some pretty terrible things about her fiance, so they broke up. That's a terrible thing to happen, and according to this teaching, she is never, ever, ever going to be able to get over it. If only she had kept herself emotionally pure - every romance she heads into now is going to be tainted by this previous one.

Now, obviously that kind of hurt does take time to get over, and obviously there will be some baggage there for quite awhile. But Josh Harris' story takes away any hope of that scar ever healing. There's no moving past it, there's no letting go of it, you're stuck with that relationship forever.

That is completely opposite from Christian teaching, and it's a paralyzing thought, because sometimes there's no way to know if you're with the wrong person in a relationship. Sometimes, as far as you know, everything's great, and then suddenly everything isn't and it comes as a total surprise to you. What if something goes wrong and you're stuck with this failed relationship on your record for the rest of your life? Then you'll going to have to explain to your future spouse that you screwed up and that that failed relationship is going to be invading your relationship with them. Forever. And there's nothing you can do about it.

That's just not how it works.

3. It teaches emotional distance.
Annnnd this was the biggie for me. All throughout high school, I found myself feeling guilty every time I had even vaguely romantic feelings for anyone. I was a sensible person - I knew most of the people I liked didn't (and wouldn't) like me back. I knew there was a slim-to-none chance that even if they DID, that I'd end up in something long-term with them - not in high school. And I was never obsessive in my liking someone. It wasn't ever a mad fit of teenage lust - it was just warm fuzzies and wanting to be around those people a lot. Nothing that I could ever pinpoint as something wrong, and yet I still felt guilty, as if just the feelings themselves were wrong.

It wasn't until I ran into this story again that I realized where this sense of guilt ever came from in the first place - thus my shriek of, "Oh, THAT'S what it was!" I had heard the idea of guarding your heart, the idea of remaining emotionally pure, and began distancing myself as much as I could from guys emotionally, because that was the best way to do that.

If I still believed this as literally, it would completely destroy the relationship I am in now. I would be terrified to get too close to my boyfriend because, again, until we either got married or broke up, I would have no way to know if I was sinning by letting him into my heart or not. What if we got close, and then something went wrong, and we broke up? It'd be my fault for being so emotionally open and vulnerable with him. I would have felt like I needed to put up a wall and never share too much of myself.

And that is a terrible idea.

It would keep us so far apart emotionally. I could never choose to marry somebody who I felt emotionally distant from. Part of building the relationship at all is building trust and emotional openness. I don't want to marry someone I haven't been emotionally open and honest with. But, again, since there's no way to know whether you're on the right track or not until you're actually married, I should apparently avoid being too emotionally open with anyone, because they might turn out to be one of the failures instead of the success.

Sometimes relationships go wrong. It just happens. People are complicated, weird creatures. But they're a whole lot more likely to go wrong if one of the people does the "right thing," guarding their heart and never opening up emotionally, hiding a whole part of themselves from the other person.

This whole metaphor teaches that romantic emotions, positive and negative, scar us for life and are usually wrong. The easiest response to that is shutting it all down, because then everything is safe, and when we get married someday, it'll all be easy to open back up again and then we can instantly be emotionally open and acceptably romantic with each other, no problem.


4. It can wreak all sorts of havoc with platonic opposite sex friendships.
This one is less terrifying than the other three, but I wanted to mention it because Christianity isn't sure what to do with these anyway. Some groups encourage it, some suggest against it, some say it's OK as long as nobody gets too close.

Either way, with this kind of teaching, it's difficult to figure out how platonic friends fit in. Is getting emotionally close to *them* wrong too, or does that only apply to romantic relationships? (In which case, it's all sorts of awkward if you go from being friends to being a couple. You'd have to immediately withdraw from them emotionally, and I can't see that ending well at all.)

One of my female friends recently told me, "I wish someone had told me growing up that I could have very strong, very intense feelings for a guy without it needing to be at all romantic." She had to figure that out on her own, and so do many girls in the church today. Some don't figure it out at all.

The emotional purity teaching has good intentions. I am absolutely a fan of being emotionally smart - be sensible about who you open up to, learn to distinguish "being in love" from minor crushes, be aware of when an interest in someone is unhealthy or obsessive. But the metaphors and stories attempting to teach this lesson have been poorly chosen can easily be taken to an extreme that traps young women in fear and keeps them from learning healthy emotional responses. It almost did that for me.

Monday, August 6, 2012

Movie Plot Translation Game (Answers)

Thanks to all of you who guessed on the Movie Plot Translation Game post - here at the final answers!

#100: Control of the activities of people in ownership structure and people want to be in love when she was deadly. (1980s foreign drama) - Wings of Desire

#200: Has two children, who live in the dark old House are light sensitive women convinced that plagued the family's House. (2000s horror) - The Others

#300: Lawyer Henry survived the shoot to find he cannot remember what it is. If not enough, contains animations and Henry. No answer to life. (1990s drama) - Regarding Henry

#400: The golden age radio nostalgia is active. Normal families and different media player. (1980s comedy) - Radio Days

#500: In the event of a dispute between the two conductors and other restrictions: a little over-confident and relaxed, no doubt will affect their lives. (1990s drama) - Pushing Tin

#600: A man marries his mistress who took his daughter. (1990s drama, although a remake of a much better 1960s movie) - Lolita

#700: Professional wrestler lost you will find new inhibitors conflict retirement and life stages. (2000s drama) - The Wrestler

#800: When one tries to discover the dark secrets of the dysfunctional chaos in the United Kingdom for recently deceased Patriarch of the family. (2000s comedy) - Death at a Funeral

#900: The Klondike gold rush, Tramp, and more lies. (1920s comedy) - The Gold Rush

#1000: There are two white women, Mohawk and despair in the world, a single mother of two smuggling of Eastern border along the St. Lawrence River. (2000s drama) - Frozen River

#1100: Actor on the edge of fraud and his students of the child and adolescent psychiatry years strange. (2000s... heist movie, I guess.) - Matchstick Men

#1200: Since 1912, Arthur United Kingdom, mechanical. (1940s musical romance) - A Connecticut Yankee in King Arthur's Court

#1300: If you want to change the lives of top chefs, it becomes a guardian for your child. (2000s romantic comedy) - No Reservations

#1400: The directors efforts to find harmony in its GUI kongdini working and personal life, because of his relationship with his wife, including the best. His love, his agent, his inspiration, his mother. (2000s musical) - Nine

#1500: In the defense of the Philippines in the accounts of the torpedo during World War II, the United States the role. (1940s war movie) - They Were Expendable

#1600: Two police officers kidnapped daughter team returned. (1990s buddy cop comedy) - Rush Hour

#1701: Young Florida to Montana with his family, where he fought for the maintenance of the OWL together. (2000s family film) - Hoot

Sunday, August 5, 2012

Hannah and the Slender Men On Tour

I went to go play Sims yesterday so I could write about it today, but I got distracted and watched a bunch of Futurama instead. I'll try to make it up to you by writing a Sims blog on a non-bloggy day (I'm aiming for Tuesday). Today, you get the following text conversation I had with my friend Mike, who I have been watching Marble Hornets with. We're currently halfway through the second season, which I reference briefly at the end.

(Mike sends me a picture of a giant spider he found outside his workplace.)
Me: Uh. I woke up, read texts, and went back to sleep... That spider immediately entered my dreams, whereas before I'd been having bizarre but pleasant dreams about 3 Slender Men (Slender Mans?) trying to get me to complete their jazz quartet.
Mike: THAT IS THE AWESOMEST DREAM EVER. What instrument did they want you to play?
Me: They wanted me to sing. There would have been 2 singers, a cellist, and, I believe, a trumpeter. Kind of awkward collection of instruments, but OK.
Mike: You were gonna sing a duet with someone who didn't have a face? That's amazing. What song were you two going to sing? Islands in the Stream?
Me: I think it was gonna be a lot of improvising. Like a constant jazzy jam session.
Mike: (Attaches a picture of Slender Man) You don't bring me flowers... You don't sing me love songs... You hardly talk to me anymore when I creep through your door at the end of the day...
Me: Maybe Jay and Alex and Jessica just really hate jazz, so mentally they block out all mentions of their coerced jazz quartet rehearsals.
Mike: There it is. You just solved Marble Hornets. You don't need to watch the rest of the videos.
Me: LOL, I am trying to even *imagine* the fanbase's reaction if that was the answer... It's hilarious.

Friday, August 3, 2012

My Most Memorable Movie-Watching Experiences

In mini story form.

The first time I watched 10 Things I Hate About You was 2 days before Heath Ledger died.

I watched Big and Hairy when I was with NLDC. We stayed in a lodge meant for traveling missionaries and preachers, and they had all sorts of Feature Films For Families type of movies, so we chose the one that looked the stupidest and watched it for fun.

I listened to Bowling For Columbine more than I watched it. I put it on my MP3 player and stuck it on my dashboard as I commuted to and from my student teaching placement. There were a couple scenes I actively watched while waiting in line somewhere, but mostly I just heard it. I figured since it was a documentary - and a talky one - this would work.

My roommate and I watched The Brother From Another Planet together and thought it was hilariously stupid. We were completely weirded out when we found out it was considered a great movie.

I watched The Christmas Shoes at a host home against my will.

(Spoiler.) When my family and I watched City of Angels and Meg Ryan is riding her bike with her eyes closed, someone said, "Well, she's dumb, she's going to get hit by a truck." And then she got hit by a truck, and we all cracked up laughing.

After I watched The Core, I had nightmares about things melting away into molten lava.

A baby-sitter let me watch Dead Poets Society when I was like... six. I didn't remember this until I saw it again, years later, and realized the suicide scene was burned into my mind.

I thought Darth Vader was lying to Luke about being his father in The Empire Strikes Back. It wasn't until Return of the Jedi confirmed it that the twist actually surprised me.

I watched Facing the Giants at a host home against my will. They kept asking me what I thought, and I kept smiling and saying things like, "It's got a good message!" even though I really don't believe that either.

When I was in New York City with my friend Sarah, we discovered Far from Home: The Adventures of Yellow Dog on TV. However, we discovered it was much more fun to make up our own dialogue for what was going on on the screen, especially once we found out that Yellow Dog's name was, er... Yellow Dog.

The first time I saw Finding Nemo, it had been really talked up by my friends, and I just didn't get what all the hype was about. It grew on me.

I saw The Game Plan with a group of friends. I was very snarky that day and kept making fun of the movie. One of them joined in with me, at which point my other friends told me I had to move because we were ruining the movie for them.

I watched Hangman's Curse with someone who has a mad fangirl love for Frank Peretti, so she "squee"d all the way through it.

People kept telling me Hidalgo wasn't a horse movie, so I watched it. People lied.

When I made fun of the end of How To Lose a Guy In 10 Days, my roommate said, "Well, of COURSE you wouldn't like it. You only like sad endings." I'm pretty sure the ending of HTLAGI10D *is* a sad ending, you just don't actually see the sad part happen. That story sure isn't going to end well.

My friend Anna and I rented Idiocracy by accident on her parents' pay-per-view account, so we decided we might as well watch it.

I was convinced Midnight in Paris would be the one Woody Allen movie my mom would probably like, so I told my sisters to make her watch it but not tell her who wrote/directed it. However, when they told my dad what they were watching, he said, "Oh, is that the new Woody Allen movie?" Fortunately, Mom sat through it and DIDN'T hate it, but my plan was almost foiled.

I watched Newsies at like 2 in the morning while waiting at home for my brother Micah to be born.

The girls on my floor my first year at HU had a movie night and watched P.S. I Love You, so I decided to be sociable and watch it with them. It was not a pleasant time.

The day after a text discussion with Jacob about how I should get a job teaching vampires theater because of my preferred sleep schedule, I watched Rosencrantz and Guildenstern Are Undead completely by chance, which is about vampires in theater.

I watched Seven Samurai during the tech rehearsal for Guys and Dolls, a show I was barely in. While everybody else was setting light cues, I was sitting in the auditorium watching samurai fight.

When I saw Spider-Man in theaters, the aspect ratio was screwed up, so everybody was smushed and fat. This changed as soon as Peter Parker turned into Spider-Man, making it look like his superpower returned him to looking like a normal human.

I watched Sweeney Todd during my NLDC Christmas break. I felt like a heathen watching such a very R-rated movie now that I was home and wasn't really under drama company rules, but... I didn't feel THAT bad.

The other movie Sarah and I watched on TV in NYC was Top Secret!, which we caught the last half of and *I* thought it was hilarious, so I googled it and watched it for real.

I saw WALL·E in theaters with my NLDC team. It opens with Michael Crawford singing "Put On Your Sunday Clothes." It had been so long since I'd heard a showtune that I hadn't realized how badly I was craving them, and I got WAY overexcited. I tried to explain to my teammate next to me what the big deal was, but I don't think he understood.

Right before I saw War Horse in theaters, I got some pretty unfortunate news. Because of this, I was extremely emotionally vulnerable and cried through the entire movie. I cried through a HORSE MOVIE. I don't do that.

Thursday, August 2, 2012

New York City in Genres!

We interrupt this normal not-blog-writing Thursday to bring you a special link - the New York City in Genres post over on Lesya's movie blog Eternity of Dream. The idea was for guest bloggers to write recommendations for movies set in New York City, one for each various genres. I'm suggesting it especially because I contributed the musical genre recommendation. Lots of other great movie recommendations, so run on over there and check it out!

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Top Facebook Statuses of July 2012

Sorry for the late posting today! My Internet has been a little sketchy. Without further ado, here are my 10 most popular Facebook statuses from this past month!

Guys guys guys! In 24 hours I will be on a plane that will take me to Jacob Keefer! (Not to an airport. Directly to him. Wherever he happens to be standing at the time, that's where the plane lets me off. It's pretty cool. Hopefully he'll be standing outside, because it would be unfortunate if the plane had to land in a building.)

This is going around on Twitter: "If a girl is silent, it's dangerous. They're either: about to blow up, need a hug, falling apart, crying inside, or all of the above." Uh. That is nonsense. Some of us are just introverted, thank you very much. Stop lying about me, gender stereotyping Twitter accounts!

I checked in at the Charleston airport, and "Hannah R Megill" has become "Hannahr Megill" on my boarding pass. I am a pirate!

My mom left me a voicemail and ended it with, "I had a lovely day! Goodbye!" I now want to end all voicemail messages with tidbits about my life, but more random ones. "I ate spaghetti today!" "I had dreams about ghosts the past two nights!"

My superpower: accidental puns. I was looking for the sugar and when I found it, I said, "Sweet." This is maybe my 8th accidental pun in the last 2 weeks.

Me: (Looking at the reflection in the TV) The letters on your blanket are upside down.
Jacob: That's because it's a reflection.
Me: ...I don't think that's how reflections work.
Jacob: That's because you don't understand time.
Me: I don't think reflections have anything to do with time.
Jacob: That's because you don't understand time!
This is a very confusing argument. I think I lost.
(Incidentally, he started using that as his main argument EVERY TIME he disagreed with me.)

I am so glad nobody's around to watch the dumb stuff I do sometimes. Like prancing over to the microwave chanting, "Let's stir! Let's stir!"

Me: I felt like you were lying. Or hyperbolizing. Hyperbolating? What is the verb for "hyperbole"?
Jacob: Hyperbolerbing.
(I WISH IT WAS. But it turns out to be hyperbolizing.)

Jacob: Oh, look, donkeys! Or maybe mules. I can't actually tell the difference between donkeys and mules.
Me: That's OK. That's not one of the skills I require of you, so you don't need to learn.
Jacob: But what if someone else does? YOU'RE SO SELFISH!
I can't believe I didn't think of all the other people who need him to differentiate between mules and donkeys.

"And the piano, it sounds like a carnivore, and the microphone smells like a beard." Those may not be the lyrics Billy Joel meant me to hear.