Inception: Is Leo the King of His Dream World?

Rating: Chocolate Cake


I’ve decided that Leonardo DiCaprio’s theme song should be “Sometimes Love Just Ain’t Enough.”

Now, granted, I haven’t seen all of his movies, but it seems to me that he has a penchant for tragic endings where love is concerned.   Most of us know what happens to Romeo and Juliet.  That whole accidental poison-stabbing double suicide is surely not the way to a happy marriage.  Then comes along The Titanic.  Sorry if this is a surprise to any of you readers out there, but when the ship sinks, so does he.  Literally.  He draws his last breath, gazes at his beloved, and sinks, right then and there. 

Sure, you could say that it might be better to quit while you’re ahead.  Both of those relationships end while the couple is still in the honeymoon phase, still young and passionately in love, making the ending that much more epically tragic. 

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There are so many colors in the rainbow. Which one are you?

Rating: Orange

My dad first introduced me to Harry Chapin when I was in high school.  For those of you who do not know who Harry Chapin is (shame on you), he is the guy who sang “Cat’s in the Cradle.” 

While I love all of his music (and played it weekly on my college radio show along with my other favorites- Billy Joel and Bob Dylan), the song that has stuck is the first one my dad played for me, “Flowers are Red.” 

It is a story about this little boy who skips of to school with a creative spirit and a song on his tongue:

          “There are so many colors in the rainbow
So many colors in the morning sun
                            So many colors in the flower and I see every one”

Meanwhile, his teacher thinks that he should color inside the lines: 

          “Flowers are red young man
Green leaves are green
                                              There’s no need to see flowers any other way
                                         Than the way they always have been seen”

 The song continues until the teacher manages to crush the little boy’s humongous spirit and he only sees red and green when he looks at the flowers.

This song acts as a moral signpost for me as I go about my day.  On one hand, it makes me think of the power that a teacher can have over a student, and it humbles me.  It makes me think about what it is that I am saying to my students and what impact I am have on them. 

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Crazy, Complicated, and Confused are the New “Normal”

Rating: Chocolate Cake

I don’t know about where you live, but my goodness, it is cold here.  Frigid-icy-freezing-slushy-snowing-if-I-worked-for-the-post-office-I-would-not-deliver-mail.  Such is the life in Upstate New York. 

To make it even drearier, we are getting crazy amounts of snow that is rapidly transforming from pristine, white fluffiness to grungy, dirt-colored slush.  Ugggh. 

Every year around this time, I struggle with two competing sides of myself- the romantic part that believes that snow makes the world more magical and the pragmatic part that doesn’t really like to get cold or wet.  I will get all bundled up, ready to go outside and have a snowball fight, build a fort, or make snow angels, and then 20 minutes later, I’ll be like, “Okay, that was…fun.  Now I am too cold to stay out any longer and I have all of these clothes I have to dry.  Sweet.”

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And the Oscar Goes to…..!

At this time every year, I have the same thought. 

“I am going to watch every movie that has been nominated for best motion picture so that I actually have an opinion when I am watching the Academy Awards!”

I have yet to succeed.

That is why this year, I am posting my resolution here, as well as promising you that by February 27, I will post my thoughts on each movie, as well as a movie-inspired treat for you to munch on as you tune in to James Franco and Anne Hathaway. 

The movies nominated for Best Picture are as follows:

I have already seen two of these fine films (Inception and Toy Story 3) so those will probably be my first reviews. 

Stay Tuned!

What Are You Hungry For?

Rating: Chocolate Cake

After I read The Hunger Games by Suzanne Collins, I was hungry for more.

I flipped the last page and, with disappointment, flung the book down, frustrated that it had one of those open-ended conclusions, the conclusions that force you to fill in the blanks and imagine what happened.  I seemed to go through the stages of reaching acceptance- first denial, then sadness, then anger, etc.

Later that evening, I was browsing the internet, looking at reviews of the book to see what other people made of the ending, when I learned something miraculous.

**Insert drum roll here**

There are two more books. Two. More. Books.

In that instant of realization, I experienced a massive mood shift.  Before, I was glum, sitting on my couch, wearing pajamas, and trying to figure out what book I could read next that would even come close to The Hunger Games.  Less than 5 minutes later, I had made a phone call to my local bookstore, verified that they had the next book, gotten dressed, and was in my car, belting out whatever song happened to be on the radio.  I made it to the bookstore only 2 minutes before they were going to close for the night and I had to ask some nice looking worker to open a cash register and please, pretty please, let me buy this book.

As you may gather, this was an addiction.  I think that if I had to wait any longer for that second book, I may very well have started to start sweating or shaking.

Very few books inspire this level of passion from me.  Yes, it’s labeled as Young Adult Literature.  Yes, I have students that are also reading it.  That does not change the fact that this book (and series) are worth reading by any age group or gender.

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Why Does Every Best-Selling Book Have to Become a Movie?

Rating: Plum for the book
Apple for the movie

I found myself in a movie theater a few months ago, using a straw to drink from a water bottle, watching Eat, Pray, Love.

Let me back up even further.  A few years ago, I purchased the book Eat, Pray, Love by Elizabeth Gilbert for my mom as Mother’s Day present.  To go with that, I also made a bookmark for her.  Personally, I think choosing a book for someone else is one of the most meaningful gifts that you can give.  As a result, when gift-giving time comes around, I head for a book store and read the backs of books to my heart’s content… all in the name of buying an appropriate gift of course.  I chose Eat, Pray, Love for my mom because it is about a woman who goes on  a journey (both physical and spiritual) to discover the secrets to happiness, harmony, etc.  I think every mother deserves the chance to go on a similar journey.  Perhaps not a year-long fling to Italy, India, and Indonesia, but a chance to get away and take care of herself, instead of always taking care of everyone else.  I have not yet experienced motherhood, but I know that I have moments when I need to be by myself and take care of my own thoughts.  Many times, I find peace in reading and writing.  I thought that the book would help my mom take a few moments to find her own peace and quiet and, for that short time, find a reprieve from  the rest of us and whatever antics/problems/issues we have.

I didn’t read the book until my mom and I set a date to see the movie.  The date was set for a Friday and on the Wednesday before, I thought it might be wise to actually start reading it.  So, I spent the 6 hours that I was proctoring a test reading about delicious food, spiritual healing, cute guys, and gorgeous beaches.  By the time I could leave, I had just finished the Italy section and a marvelous description of Naples pizza.  Man, was I hungry!

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The King and I: Stephen King Redeems Himself

Rating: Strawberry

Stephen King and I have had a rocky relationship.
The Rough Beginnings

They weren’t lying when they say that first impressions count.

You see, when I was little, I decided to do what most right-minded small children do- sneak upstairs when no one is looking (when I should be in bed) and watch the movie that my older brother is watching, the one that I was not allowed to watch because I was “too young.” Well! Three-year old Lauren was not going to stand for this and decided to show everyone once and for all that she could handle anything.

Guess what? I can’t. I really, really can’t. Not when it comes to horror movies. Not when it comes to a possessed, demonic, zombie dog ripping people apart. My viewing of Pet Sematary Two scarred me to the point that I just avoided the horror genre at all costs.

A Chance for Redemption

At a certain point during my teenage years, I realized that not all horror was dead to me.  Apparently, the only type of horror that truly bothers me is the horror that could conceivably happen to me.  For example, Hitchcock’s Psycho
does not bother me because (perhaps after seeing that movie) I will never stay in a creepy motel, leaving myself vulnerable to a violin-accompanied, shower attack.  Note:  This resolve only strengthened after viewing Vacancy. For some reason, Pet Sematery Two seemed like something that could have happened to me, according to my toddler mindset at the time.

With this in mind, I sat down with a friend, some popcorn, and a pillow (to hide behind) to watch The Shining.  I can’t say that I completely understand it, but I thoroughly enjoyed it.  It left me with the sense that to completely understand the ending, I needed to read the book.  It also left me with a sense of wonder; could it be that the man who cursed me with vivid, realistic, and unforgettable nightmares actually was an author I would want to read more of?

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