Revisiting the Top 5: Movies and Books

So this is something I will be working on all semester. Some of my favorite blog posts to write are when I look at something and I enjoy and try to figure out why.

What I am going to do is look at my top five favorite books and movies and reassess my opinion of them and how they fit into my life.

For the record my top five of each are:


  1. A Room with a View-E.M. Forster
  2. A Tree Grows in Brooklyn-Betty Smith
  3. From the Mixed-Up Files of Mrs. Basil E. Frankweiler-E. L. Konisburg
  4. Mrs. Dalloway-Virginia Woolf
  5. Emma-Jane Austen


  1. The Graduate
  2. Bringing Up Baby
  3. North by Northwest
  4. His Girl Friday
  5. A Room with a View

I don’t know if I am going to alternate between books and movies or just do all of one and then the other. I guess we’ll see!


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Filed under Film, Literature

idiom idiot

This is going to be a silly post.

I have a great love of the English language. Besides the fact, that in some aspects, I am really bad at it. I mean, I love words and I love reading. But conversation and listening are not my strong suit. I have trouble with intonations and figuring out phrasing from others’ speech, as well as applying appropriate intonation and phrasing to my own speech.

One interesting way that this is shown is my inability to grasp some idioms (or phrases or proverbs or just common words). Sometimes, I end up grasping them at odd moments. And what I lack for in verbal skills, I more than make up for in ability to remember non-even-events in my life. That is what this blog is going to be about.

This is a list of idioms, phrases, or words that I was confused about at sometime and I have a recollection of the moment when it all made sense.

Cock and Bull Story: For most of my life I thought this was a “cockenbull” story. Maybe a “cockenbull” was a type of rooster? I didn’t question it. I was definitely in college when I figured this one out.

The ends justify the means: This took awhile. So in this statement, the “ends” are the end of the situation and the “means” are the means in which something is done. Clearly. But I always thought it was referring to a spectrum with the ends being the outer reaches of the spectrum, while the means being the middle of it. Like the “mean” in math. It wasn’t until I took Latin and had to translate the ablative of instrument as “means by which” an action was done all the time, that I understood what this meant.

Last, but not least: I was younger when this happened. So I think a part the misunderstanding had to do with the fact that I didn’t really understand the difference between “last” and “least.” I heard it said during the opening ceremony of a Miss America pageant and I could not understand it. I don’t know if I had even heard it before, because who says “last, but not least” other than announcers? I associated being last with a race, so if you were last in the race clearly you were the least of the people in the race. I remember standing in from of my refrigerator at home thinking “ohhh! That is like if I announced ‘Condiments in our fridge: ketchup , mayonnaise and last, but not least, mustard!’ because mustard is actually the best of the condiments in our fridge.”

You can’t have your cake and eat it too: This one surprisingly just got solved the other day and was an inspiration for this post. I never understood it because I was interpreting “having the cake” as like “For dessert, I had cake,” while of course it means you can both possess a cake and eat it because if you eat it, then you would be down one cake possession. Though, I think you should admit, it is kind of confusing. How often do you use the verb “to have” in reference to food to mean “to possess?” Very rarely, I assume.

Easter/Esther: I did not grow up in a family that was super religious. But I’ve always had a love of pomp and dressing up. I have the distinct memory of feeling the need to go to the Easter services at our local church one year. I am pretty sure that I wore an American Girl “Dress Like Your Doll” dress from the Felicity collection. But how I prepared for Easter was by reading my little children’s Bible. And when I looked “Easter” up in the table of contents (just a list of the books of the Bible), the closest thing I found to “Easter” was “Esther.” So I just figured they were the same. I read the  story how Esther saved her nation and was very impressed with the whole thing. But then when I went to church with my dad, I couldn’t help being disappointed (and a little angry) that we spent the entire time talking about Jesus (didn’t he already get Christmas?) instead of awesome lady Esther. I don’t know if I’ve ever really forgiven the patriarchal institution of the Presbyterian Church for that.

All intents and purposes: This one is pretty simple. Until my twin brother saw me type it out, I thought it was “all intensive purposes.” I don’t really know what I thought an intensive purpose was.

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Expectations and Classes: Fall 2011

I’ve liked this exercise ever since my first year in college, when I mentioned on my blog that I was not too excited about my American Literature class because I hated American Lit. Then it turned out to be on of my favorite classes I’ve taken at Agnes Scott. So here’s a list of my classes for Fall 2011 and what I am expecting to get out of them and enjoy.

ART 312: The Age of Cathedrals-I am a little nervous about this class. It is the first full art history class I’ve taken with the professor who was on sabbatical last year. The combination of a professor I don’t know and a subject I am uncomfortable with (French! Gothic! Architecture!) I am nervous. But I am excited to try something different in art history after all those contemporary classes last year.

HIS 347: Renaissance Italy: Ideas and Culture-So excited! I haven’t gotten the opportunity to take any Renaissance art classes yet, and I wanted to have a least some background before I went to Florence. This is my first 300 level History class so that is a little nerve wracking because I haven’t written a history paper since…junior year of high school. But hopefully my love of the Medici will motivate me to work hard.

REL 224: Feminisms and Religion-This class. I really don’t know anything about it. It is a little about the history of women in religion, as well as applying feminist theory to religions. It fulfills a requirement that I have yet to find a way to fulfill. I am little nervous just because I did not enjoy my last religious studies class, but I am hoping for the best!

Either Italian at Emory or LAT 314: Cicero-I am only going to take one language class this semester. So if I get into Italian at Emory University (we don’t offer it at my school), I will take that. I am excited for either of them. Italian will obviously be a little more useful, considering that I am going to Italy in the spring. But if I have to Cicero, it will be with one of my favorite professors and that is one less Classics course I have to take my senior year to finish my minor.

PED 129: Boot Camp-I signed up for this on a whim. But it is a PE credit, and it is only for two months in the middle of the semester. I just have to get up SUPER early for it. But I am excited! I am trying to run the Thanksgiving Half-Marathon in Atlanta and while I’ve been training a lot over the summer, I think this will help me keep it up until the big race day!

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Harry Potter and the Conflicted Fangirl

I love Harry Potter. And I hate Harry Potter.

I love Harry Potter because I have a high appreciation for poorly written fantasy books with cultish appeal (see my appreciation for LOTR and Twilight, though LOTR is slightly better because of the thoroughness and Twilight is slightly worse for the misogyny and one dimensionality of the characters). I like being on the outside of these groups and appreciating something ridiculous. Just like my appreciation for Star Trek. I just love things that engage people.

I hate Harry Potter because the “cult” of dedication to it, is composed of 90% of the world. And the other 10% either didn’t like it or didn’t read it. And when a cult surrounding popular fiction gets that big, people can be become disillusioned into believing that Harry Potter has value beyond the pop cultural appeal. (Which is indeed a value, but I firmly believe that is where Harry Potter should stay.)

My relationship with Harry Potter is probably the most complex of the fandoms that interest me. Not just because I feel like I have to qualify my interest in it, but because Harry Potter sometimes makes me very angry. I can’t just say “I love Harry Potter!” because I don’t in the way that most people love Harry Potter. I feel like that is easier to do with something like Star Trek because it is understood to be a little cheesy and…bad.

So here’s a list of both reasons why I love Harry Potter and reasons why I can’t say I love it in the same way most people do. The list alternates from reasons I love it to reasons I don’t.
1. The women are kind of awesome. Hermione, admittedly was my spirit animal for a long time. She is probably why I kept up with the books for so long and feigned interest when speaking with my peers. Though, I much prefer book Hermione to movie Hermione. I don’t think Emma Watson is an awesome actress, though it does get better after the HP and the Goblet of Fire (or Emma Watson and Her Overactive Eyebrows). Plus, I will never forgive anyone for cutting out the potions scene in the first movie. Or Peeves for that matter. Luna Lovegood is also amazing. I just hate that she always shows up with Harry is being the whiniest. Also the Lovegoods are my favorite family unit. And let’s not forget Bellatrix. I think she is more evil than Voldemort because she doesn’t even have bitterness towards her family for motivation. She is just pure evil. And I love that. Plus, Helena Bonham Carter wins everything, every time.

Lovegoods high-fiving a million angels

1. As a child, I was busy reading other books. I read Harry Potter when they came out, starting with Prisoner of Azkaban, I think. But I read them once and was done. I just wanted to know what happened. The ones I have repeatedly read are Sorcerer’s Stone and Prisoner of Azkaban. I hold absolutely no nostalgia from my childhood concerning Harry Potter. Little Women and Anne of Green Gables? Yes. A lot of the appreciation for Harry Potter from my friends that I see is longing for memories from childhood. And honestly, I associate college with more Harry Potter memories because that’s when I became interested in cultish pop culture things. Between the ages 6-14, I was busy reading books set before 1900, going on road trips with my family, and having no real friends. It was awesome! I am still totally nostalgic for that period of my life. I loved old books and I loved my family. Plus, I developed a Victorian morality that definitely helped my parents when it came to discipline in high school. But nostalgia does not equal quality. Are Little Women and Anne of Green Gables still among my favorite books? No, because I’ve read other books since then that I identify more with now.

2. My favorite part of the books and movies are the ridiculous wizard stuff! And in the later books, we get less of that because its already been established and Harry has other things to do. But still, creating the different spells and potions and devices is a strong suit for Rowling, so I wish she hadn’t waned so heavily by the end of the series.

Favorite moment from all the movies, Harry Potter under the influence of Felix Felicis
Nearly Headless Nick

Hermione wins everything (when the category is being annoying)

2. I HATE the way J.K. Rowling writes. There are two parts to this. I don’t mind Rowling’s style, in say, the first three books. She writes like a children’s author. But that’s okay! These are children’s books. Somewhere around The Goblet of Fire, I think, she bit off more than she could chew and it attempted to get real dark–and real epic–real fast. I understand the argument that the darkness and the maturity is about growing up with Harry. But, I don’t think Rowling is capable of writing that type of epic stuff. Clearly, I don’t mind super detailed fictional universes, as I love LOTR. But there is a heavy-handedness with which Rowling adds in the background that makes me uncomfortable. Plus in LOTR, there are all these different inter-weaving stories and mythologies that come together throughout the story, plus all those characters that have those stories. I think maybe Rowling’s writing style is really character driven, opposed to story driven. So it is like she writes a character and feels the need to tell us everything about them, even if they have a relatively small role within the story, or that background isn’t actually relevant to the story. I love character driven stories too (Jane Austen is my favorite author!), but if an epic journey is what she is going for, that should always be the focus. Also I think the transition between children’s book to epic is a hard transition that is jumpy and uncomfortable between the third and fourth book.
3. Movie only: The expressions of Rupert Grint. Rupert Grint is not the greatest actor in the world. But that’s okay. Because I am pretty sure that Rupret Grint is Ron Weasley. For Ron in the movies, it was the perfect combo of a character I liked in the books, and the perfect casting. I loved Hermione, but only recently began to appreciate Emma Watson and still don’t like her in the first few movies. And I don’t like Harry, even though Daniel Radcliffe does a good job as Harry. Ron is just perfect. Weasley is Our King.

3. Plot problems. Some things in the books and movies just don’t make sense to me. Here are some examples.

Why is everyone useful in the same house? I hate the vilifying of Slytherin and glorifying of Gryffindor. It doesn’t make sense to me. Each of the houses are supposed to have a trait, right? It seems like, within each house, there should be potential for good or for evil. My suggestion for improvement:  Hermione, why not be in Ravenclaw? Neville could’ve been in Hufflepuff, and somehow Draco could have had a better redemption plot.

Peter Pettigrew. All right, JK, let’s play by your rules when it comes the houses. Then why did Peter Pettigrew betray his friends? When Gryffindors, the golden retrievers of the wizarding world, are so loyal? Let’s say he just got caught up in the threats against his life. If you are going to prioritize Gryffindors for their good qualities, why not make Pettigrew’s refusal to kill Harry and ultimate death self-motivated? Instead he dies a coward’s death. So he proves to be neither loyal, nor brave.

Harry Potter as underdog. This is how he is portrayed right? But let’s look at the facts. He gets preferential treatment all the time because of his name, his house and his parents. He is a jock. He is famous and rich. He has really great friends and a supportive group of allies. So stop with the whining, ya big baby.

Dumbledore and the mysterious clue to your past. I love Dumbledore. I feel like I should qualify this next one with that statement. Because I may come off sounding a little harsh. But Dumbledore may be the least useful “old man guide” is the history of everything. There are so many times when I feel like it would make so much sense for someone, anyone (namely DUMBLEDORE) to explain something to Harry. But that never happens. I understand JK’s motivation to keep Harry in the dark because he grows more as a character but I’ve never understood Dumbledore’s motivation. He simultaneously expects Harry to be able to deal with all (literally all) of the evil in wizarding world, but refuses to sit him down and say “this is what I, the greatest wizard in the world, think is happening right now.” At least Gandalf from LOTR admits that he doesn’t know what is exactly happening! Dumbledore proves to usually know what is happening and still feel the needs to keep the (underaged) person, whose destiny is linked with that of the entire wizarding world, in the dark.

As far as plot problems go, here’s what I think happened: JK Rowling has shown the world her extensive notes on the Harry Potter universe and clearly a lot of thought went into that. But I think when she was writing, she may have been writing like a fanfic writer. Like she didn’t want to go off her own headcanon, even when it made sense for the story, to either change something or leave something out.

4. I love Snape. I really do, I love Alan Rickman and I love the trope of teachers who you think are out to get you but are really protecting you/teaching you how to learn. I am not necessarily supportive of Snape and Lily love because he was kind of a jerk to her. But anyone who puts Harry Potter in his place occasionally, all while ultimately being good, is amazing in my book. I kind of wish JK hadn’t allowed for the potential romantic relationship between Snape and Lily because then the love that theme of the book, the love that triumphs over evil is the always the same type of love, of protection, willingness to do anything for someone else, and to die for the greater good.

For my last problem with Harry Potter, I’m just going to be simple and a little crass.

4. Ginny Weasley is annoying and I hate her.


Filed under British, Literature

dorm style inspiration: fall 2011

So last year my theme was art nouveau. and I LOVED it. I love DIY-ing all my different crafts and coming up with elements. Some of the stuff is going to stay in the room (like my all time favorite DIY craft project-my art nouveau decoupage table, seen later in the post), and some stuff will go (I unfortunately don’t have enough room for my fabulous peacock headboard). But something I did last year is inspiring me this year.

I lived in a loft room last year, so we have this one HUGE wall that remained undecorated for most of the year. And then sometime in March I decided I wanted it to look happier, so I taped a bunch of inspiring pictures/collages on the wall in a salon style. I loved the look of it.

This year, I am living in a theme house with a bunch of other girls (check out our blog for our activities through out the year!). The way the room is set up, there are windows on two adjacent walls, and the way my roomie and I split the room is so that she has one side with windows and we share a side with windows.

Here’s a not-remotely-to-scale picture:

So you see that again, I have a great big wall to decorate. But this year I want it to look slightly more planned than last year, which was literally “ooo this is a cool image from a magazine, lemme stick it on my wall!”

First, in case you don’t know what “salon style” hanging is, it means in the style of the salons that exhibited art in the 19th century. Salons were usually like competitions, so there would be bunches of entries. Instead of the way most pieces are hung in museums today, where you see one piece at a time and then move on to the next one, there would be pictures hanging at all levels, all around each other.

The Salon of Madame Geoffrin


So there are some examples of what I mean. I want the wall to just be filled with images of things I love.

I already have a healthy collection of collages and posters I’ve made/acquired at my house. But I would say the smallest out of all these is 12×12 and the biggest is standard movie poster sized. Some of the images included are:

My favorite late-night host, Jimmy Fallon's cover of Rolling Stone


Pride and Prejudice Movie Poster


This poster from UPenn, advertising their summer classes, that I swiped while on spring break visiting my brother.

Mixed-Media, Self-Portrait that I did my senior year of High School and my favorite piece from my studio art days.

Those are four examples out of maybe 30 larger sized pieces that will be on the wall. But how am I planning on getting 30 pieces to all fit together with clean lines in between? I’m not really. So I’m preparing a file of smaller pictures to print out from my computer. So far I have about 150 images that I am planning on prints as various sizes, between 3 x 5 and 5 x 8. I may whittle that down to around 75 for the first printing and decorating process and go from there. But here’s a collage of some of the images I am planning on including, so you can get a taste.

Starting on the top left: Anthony Perkins being ridiculous, Zooey Deschanel, Cole Hamels, illustration from Make Way For Ducklings, Evelyn Nesbitt, Saturday Night Specials, North by Northwest, Elle Fanning, A Little Princess, A Room with a View, Cassie Ainsworth, Carnation, Lily, Lily, Rose by John Singer Sargent, A Room with a View Book Cover, Photography by Sally Mann, Perfect Hair, Manet v. Monet boxing poster, Il Duomo

So one way that I am trying to make the salon wall look cleaner is plan ahead of time. I chose quality images that mean something to me, and I know that I need certain smaller sizes, so that’s how I am going to print them. Another thing that I am going to try and do is frames. But obviously, I can’t afford 75+ frames. Earlier in the summer, I stumbled upon this DIY project from designsponge. The project is making paper frames for pictures. And I love the idea. There was a project that we used to do at the High Museum where we would build up colorful pieces of cardboard on basic frames. So I might try that too. But I really like the idea of just framing random pictures. I think it will some formality to the craziness of the salon hanging.

Other design elements of the room include:

Low Quality Picture of the Table

A canvas chair that all my friends from high school (and some from college) signed every time they came to my house, which I surprisingly don’t have a picture of.

So I don’t really have a theme, as much as one large design element that will hopefully turn out amazing! Pictures will be coming as soon as I move in and get the pictures up.

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inventory: bloomsbury

a collection of things I am loving at the moment.

When am I not loving Bloomsbury? That answer is never. I’ve actually done a “bloomsbury inspo” post before, which is poorly formatted as it was imported from my last blog. But inventory is a little different than inspo. It is about you can do/buy/experience NOW. opposed to just look at.

inventory: bloomsbury


1. Temperley London is always wonderful. And is one of the easier designers to see direct Bloomsbury influence. If you don’t have $3000 and a ball to go to, there is Alice by Temperley, which is the edgier younger (still splurgy, but less so) sister, still ripe with romantic, historic influences. 
2. Mrs. Dalloway, cover by Vanessa Bell, which is my header for this blog. Though I imagine you won’t be stumbling upon any first editions, you can still read Woolf’s novels. My favorite is Mrs. Dalloway, but everything by Woolf is wonderful.
3. One of my all time favorite non-fiction books Uncommon Arrangements by Katie Roiphe is about seven marriages between 1910-1939 and looks at how those marriages worked (or didn’t.) Included is the marriage of Clive and Vanessa Bell and their relationships with Duncan Grant, as well as many relationships of their friends and those on the edge of Bloomsbury group.
4. Charleston House, was the home of Vanessa Bell and Duncan Grant and the center of Bloomsbury social life and you can go visit it. Bell did all of the interior decorating. They also have a pretty stellar gift shop online.  If you can’t visit Charleston anytime soon, a quick google search of “bloomsbury style” gets lots of images of Charleston House and Bell’s designs, and there are a great number of books about Bell’s designs.
5.  There was a lot of Bloomsbury art. a lot. Because the artists did a lot of sketchs and prints and what not. And pieces can be purchased (or ogled at) at Bloomsbury Workshop.
6. I just really like these shoes and they seem so fun and appropriate for a garden party. Also they are on super sale!
7. An article from the much mourned Domino magazine was about this woman who decorated her tiny little apartment after Charleston House. Online documentation of Domino archives are a little tricky, but the images are rampant so here’s links to a blogpost with the images.

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Fangirling with Healthy Doses of Realism and Kitsch: Star Trek

So I’ve decided to fill the rest of my summer blogging with self-reflection based on what I’ve been doing for the past three summers: fangirling. This post will be about two things: my general relationship with cultish things to fan about and Star Trek.

First off, here’s something you should know. I don’t do fandom the way that it is usually done. Like dedication to one thing and an outpouring of support for those characters, that author, those actors, that story. I can’t handle that. I once said told my roommate that I could either handle Bones or the Phillies in October, and I chose the Phillies. And I will always choose the Phillies. I can only survive being emotionally involved in one thing that doesn’t actually directly affect my life. And I will always choose the Phillies.

I’m glad we got that straight.

So I do best with (and enjoy the most) things are self-contained. They usually have an end point or already ready finished by time I am become interested in them. Otherwise, I become burnt out (with the thus-far exception of Bones with a healthy break during the postseason). Those who knew me at age 14 can take note of the varying degrees of success of my interest in Degrassi and M*A*S*H. (M*A*S*H worked out a lot better.)

And as of late, things that I am an a fan of (which I think is considerably different than “liking” something) have some element of ridiculousness. Like I can’t take them too seriously. Consider Sherlock the BBC three episode production, a modern Sherlock Holmes. There is a huge fan community for this show. But I don’t participate in it, or consider myself apart of it. Because I actually think Sherlock is quality. I have to be able to make fun of it, to be what I consider a fan.

Which leads me to my first self-reflection on a fandom: Star Trek.

Let’s be clear here, when I say Star Trek, I mean anything with Kirk, Spock and Bones. Remember, I need things to be self-contained. So we’re talking about the TOS, the old movies, and the new movie from 2009. I don’t really understand the point of Star Trek if the troika isn’t there.

I don’t know how people take Star Trek seriously. Like watch it and think “this is a quality show.”  Do people think that? I am sure some do…but I watch and think “this is the most ridiculous thing I’ve ever seen. and I LOVE IT.”

The show is highly formulaic. Find something interesting. Something interesting is dangerous. Kirk or Spock or Bones saves the day. And they wrap away with a greater understanding of their small place in the universe.

The real reason I got interested in the show is because I love things that pervade culture. Most people can reference things from Star Trek without ever seeing an episode. And that’s pretty cool. That a show that lasted for only three years managed to turn into an empire.

My absolute favorite part of the show are the ridiculousness of the aliens they encounter. So here are three of my favorites.


What isn’t to love about tribbles? They are like Ewoks, small, cute and furry.  (Of course some people don’t like Ewoks. Because Star Wars is serious. But Star Trek is ridiculous! so the Tribbles fit right in). “The Trouble with Tribbles” according to McCoy is that they are born pregnant, so they reproduce like crazy and will eat just about anything. Even though they produce a soothing affect on everyone (even Spock!) except for Klingon. Tribbles even have some use as they reveal a Klingon double agent! And they are still adorable.

Iotians from my all time favorite episode “A Piece of the Action”, as my all time favorite Humanoid aliens

The Iotians are a humanoid race that has contact with Starfleet before. The starship, Horizon, left a book behind called Chicago Mobs of the Twenties and the recently industrialized planet of Iotia decided to replicate as many things possible from the book. Which results in plenty of shenanigans when our heroes beam down! The Boss wants the “Feds'” superior weapons to defeat the other bosses. There is also the great moment when Kirk creates “Fizzbin” a card game, and teaches it to the gangsters as a distraction. Smarm. My favorite thing about all the different types of people/aliens that the Enterprise runs into is Kirk adaptability to them. And in this episode Kirk shines.


I don’t know if I should be allowed to include this. But Vulcans are flippin sweet. Especially in TOS. Because that was before Vulcan’s and pointy ears and “live long and prosper” were widely acknowledged as flippin sweet. Spock is the only alien in the main cast of TOS and he carries his minority burden with class and stoicism that only a Vulcan could handle. AND HE DOESN’T EVEN MIND THAT MUCH WHEN HE LOSES TO KIRK IN THREE DIMENSIONAL CHESS. Mostly, my love of Vulcans is just redirected love of Spock. Because anyone who can steal limelight from the Shat is doing something incredibly difficult and incredibly right. I do love other Vulcans we meet in the TOS, like Sarek, Spock’s father.

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