Monday, December 23, 2013

Why "All I Want for Christmas Is You" Is the Best Christmas Song Ever

Mariah Carey's 1994 hit Christmas single is a classic holiday song. Although it is not as old as traditional Christmas hymns and carols, "All I Want for Christmas Is You" is better than all of them. Here's why:
  • The song is much more dance-able than many other Christmas songs. There aren't any hymns that make me want to rock out, and not too many carols, either.  True, there are some pop Christmas hits that get people wiggling in their seats but "All I Want For Christmas Is You" makes people SO happy. As soon as the sleigh bells and drums come in at the beginning you can't help but dance. (check it)
  • Mariah's singing makes this song better than other Christmas songs because it allows the listener to bust out his/her own inner Christmas diva. "The best way to spread Christmas cheer is singing loud for all to hear", says the film Elf. and when "All I Want for Christmas Is You" comes on, you just have to sing along, and you can't half-ass it. You've gotta belt it. (like this little girl. or any other little girls singing this song on youtube.)
  • The lyrics create some lovely Christmas imagery. "The lights are shining so brightly everywhere and the sound of children's laughter fills the air. Everyone is singing, I hear those sleigh bells ringing..." How nice is that? This song is not about the nativity or Santa's visit which is probably the imagery most people want from a Christmas song but this lyric just nicely describes the season, I think. Plus, great rhyming.
  • The message is the best part of the song, and why I think this is the greatest song ever.
    The singer denounces the materialistic elements of the holiday and the meaningless traditions to focus in on what's really important, saying, "I don't care about the presents underneath the Christmas tree." For the singer, Christmas is not about the things. ("Maybe Christmas, perhaps, doesn't come from a store..." says the Grinch).
    There are many things the singer won't be doing this Christmas: hanging a stocking there upon the fireplace, making a list and sending it to the North Pole for Saint Nick, staying awake to hear the magic reindeer click, the singer is not even going to wish for snow (which is further than I would personally take it, I always want a white Christmas).
    As we grow up we realize what the "true meaning of Christmas" is. It's not about the things we valued as a child. ("Santa Claus won't make me happy with a toy on Christmas Day.") It's not about presents or traditions, but rather about the people we spend the holidays with - friends and family.
    While the "you" in the song is often interpreted as a lover (the singer refers to him/her as "baby" and talks about meeting under the mistletoe) I have seen the "you" interpreted as friends and family members. The "you" can be anybody special in your life, near or far away.
    This Christmas, may we all look to the ones we love and say honestly, "All I want for Christmas is you."

Merry Christmas!

Thursday, December 19, 2013

Love, Laughter, and Light - original Christmas song

I wrote a song for the season. Stephen helped me make the audio recording a bit more smooth this time. Enjoy!

Happy Holidays!

(lyrics after the jump)

Tuesday, December 10, 2013

It's that time of year...

time for holiday favourites,

 hot chocolate and "Christmas oranges",

ornaments passed down through generations,

ornaments made with love,


the Christmas cactus blooms,

hot chocolatey Skype dates to decorate together
(it's important not to let distance ruin traditions) 


Wednesday, December 4, 2013

I Cut My Hair

I decided to donate my hair. I got it cut tonight and I am going to mail it away to Beautiful Lengths to be made into a wig for a woman with cancer.

Here are the before and after photos.

On the left: the before front and back. On the right: the after, straight and curly. 

If you are interested in my reasons behind choosing Beautiful Lengths or my reasons for cutting my hair, click through to read more.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

a door marked Adult

Yesterday I was reading Rookie Yearbook Two and in the interview with Morrissey, in response to the question "If you could tell your teenage self one thing, what would it be?" he said:

"I am still my teenage self. If you think that we all step through a door marked Adult, or that we sign a Grown-Up Document, you're quite wrong. We remain as we always were, and that, alas, is one of life's many nasty tricks."


If that's true, why didn't anybody tell me? why did I grow up believing the opposite of that?
Why have I always felt, why do I still feel like there is some magical age where I am all of a sudden going to "have it all figured out". Why do I think that is even an attainable state of being?

I cried on my 18th birthday because I thought I had to all of a sudden "be an Adult." (Doesn't that seem like something an adult would do? cry about growing up?)

A couple weeks ago I was telling a friend a story of one of my students coming to me with a problem. I joked that I said to the kid, "I'm glad you came to an adult you trust. Now let's go find a real adult who knows what the hell to do in this situation."
It was a joke of course, but there's some truth to it.

In a recent episode of Parks and Recreation Andy is freaking out about his new job and April tells him, "I'm going to tell you a secret about everyone else's job. No one knows what they are doing.Everyone is just faking it until they figure it out."
substitute "life" for "job" and I think the quotation is just as apt. but why is it a secret? Why do people of my generation feel like they are not meeting the expectations of their age? Do people reach a certain point in life where they realize they will never "figure it all out" and just make peace with that? Or is it that people really do figure it out at some point and my turn is coming?

If I could tell my teenage self something here are a few of the things I'd want to tell me:
Your hair looks awesome.
When someone asks you what you want to be when you grow up, instead of saying you don't know, ask them back and see what they say.
You aren't as bad at everything as you think you are, just keep doing stuff you like it's fine.
You are going to travel.
You are going to pick a major you aren't sure you'll like and like it.
You are going to pick a job you aren't sure you'll like and like it.
Don't think your skin will clear up when you're older, it won't.
Don't think things will make sense when you're older, they won't.
Don't tell yourself you'll be happy when you get a better car, or a better job, or move away, or get a haircut. Those lies are poison.
Don't be so resistant to change.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

Fashion Inspiration - Rachel McAdams in About Time

We went to see About Time on the weekend. It is a new romantic comedy from the people who made Love Actually, Notting Hill, Four Weddings and a Funeral, etc. The premise is the main character can travel back in time to relive parts of his own life and change his experiences. He uses this power to pursue love.

The movie was very silly with tons of plot holes and parts that made no sense but I really enjoyed it. It was sweet, sad, uplifting, and funny. It was everything I wanted it to be. It's one of those movies you can't analyze too much or you'll ruin the fun. Also, Bill Nighy is amazing.

Rachel McAdams played the lead female character, the love interest Mary. Mary's style is my style and I loved all her clothes in the movie.

Mary's hair also reminds me of what my hair used to look like. The character spent a lot of time worrying about the look of her fringe (bangs) which I can relate to. 

(this isn't a still, it's an on-set photo. That's the director on the left)

(another on-set photo)


I loved Mary's red vintage wedding dress (in the movie poster)

I would definitely recommend the movie to anybody in the mood for something hopeful and light-hearted! (and try not too over-think the time-travel thing. It really doesn't make sense.)

Monday, October 28, 2013

We Can't Stop and We Won't Stop BUYING BOOKS!

I have an addiction to buying books. Seriously. I think I love buying new books more than I love actually reading them. Or else I just can't keep up. People just keep writing and publishing books I want to read faster than I can read them.
This month I got 7 new books. I have a problem.
Here's the haul:

Way back in June my parents got me a gift card to Chapters Indigo. It was for my birthday in July (since I was in Spain on my actual birthday). At the beginning of September I finally used the gift card and made an online order of five books. Since one was a pre-order I didn't get the order until last week (when that final book came out.)
My chapters order was: 

The Marriage Plot by Jeffrey Eugenides. I read and absolutely loved both The Virgin Suicides and Middlesex earlier this year, so I can't wait to read this one. 

Lola and the Boy Next Door by Stephanie Perkins. I read Anna and the French Kiss a couple years ago and reviewed it. This book takes place in the same universe, but with different characters, but I've heard characters from Anna make a guest appearance? I am intrigued. I don't really like this cover, though, since it doesn't really go together with the edition of Anna I have. Oh well.

Attachments by Rainbow Rowell. I read and loved Eleanor & Park. I meant to write a review of it on here but never got around to it, I guess. I love the cover for this one. I wish I had this edition of Eleanor & Park so it'd match, but sadly I have this edition instead. 

The final book in the order (and the reason I only got the order last week) is Allegiant by Veronica Roth. It's the final installment in the Divergent series. I love Divergent. (Read my review here) I reread both Divergent and Insurgent last week. (I finished my re-read of Insurgent) last night. So tonight I am going to hunker down and read this last one. I'm excited!

So that was my Chapters order.

Last weekend I travelled to Saskatoon to visit some friends. (I actually tagged along with Stephen and one of his friends who were going for another reason.)
I went to one of my favorite bookshops (out of everywhere, not just Saskatoon): Mcnally Robinson.
So of course I had to get a couple books. 

I got The Little Prince by Antoine De Saint-Exupery (the translated version.) This edition is super gorgeous, it is all bronzey and shiny. I had actually never read the book and always wanted to so I snagged this beautiful book while I was there. I read it to Stephen and our friend on the drive home and I loved it. Such a beautiful story. Also, our hostel that we stayed at in Nice was called Saint-Exupery Gardens. 

The other book I got at Mcnally Robinson was Rookie Yearbook Two. I have been reading Rookie mag for a while now and love it. If you don't know, Rookie mag is an online magazine edited by Tavi Gevinson, who was 16 when she started it. It is aimed at young girls and the writers, illustrators, interviewers, etc. are most/all young women.
After the first year of the magazine, they made Yearbook One which was a selection of the best stuff from that year.

Yearbook Two is a selection of the best stuff from the magazine from June 2012 to May 2013. The bookstore had both but I just got the latest one. Maybe some other day I will get the first one.

This book is flipping gorgeous, by the way.

Finally, I just had to buy this one this month. This is the only book I don't really have an excuse for (I didn't have a gift card, I wasn't visiting my favorite out-of-town bookstore). I just had to get it after watching her interview with Jon Stewart

This book is Malala Yousafzai's story. She is a young girl from Pakistan who was shot by the Taliban in 2012 because she stood up for her own and other young girls' right to an education.

She was nominated for a Nobel Peace Prize. She is an advocate for education and an incredible person and I can't wait to read her story.

So.. my to-read pile has grown yet again. But I can't help it. I just really love books.

What are you excited to read this fall?
If I were to post a review of any of these books, which would you most want to see reviewed?

Friday, October 25, 2013

Movie Recommendation: Stuck in Love

This movie has all my favorite things in it. I absolutely love it.

The writer and director is also directing the upcoming film adaptation of The Fault in Our Stars which is one of my favorite books so I was particularly interested to see his debut film. (Stuck in Love)

The movie follows three main characters - Rusty, a teenaged boy portrayed by Nat Wolff (this is his debut film, too, as far as I know); his older (college-aged) sister Samantha, played by the beautiful Lily Collins, and their father Bill, played by Greg Kinnear.
Bill is a bestselling author, divorced from his wife Erica (Jennifer Connelly), holding on to the hope that she will come back to him and trying to raise his young adult kids.

Like I said before, this movie has all my favorite things.

Firstly, It's about love.

The director said in this interview that he wanted the film to be about three different types of love so everybody could find something to relate to: first love, first mature relationship, and divorce.

First Love: the main character, Rusty, falls in love with his troubled classmate Kate and it's very manic pixie dream girl - esque. She is wild and experienced and teaches him about life, love, sex, and music. He is the good boy she hopes will "save" her. One of the story arcs follows their tumultuous new relationship.

First mature relationship: Samantha (Lily Collins) is a promiscuous college girl determined to never fall in love after seeing what it's done to her father. But when her classmate Louis (played by the kid who played Charlie in Perks of Being a Wallflower aka Logan Lerman) persists in courting her, she gives in and the two form a relationship.

Divorce: Bill and Erica try to navigate their divorce. Bill seems to have custody of Rusty, while Erica has visitation rights. Samantha hasn't spoken to her mother since the divorce. 

Bill is not coping well with the divorce. He makes Rusty set a place for Erica at the dinner table, hoping she'll come home.

Meanwhile, he also makes an effort to move on (though one he knows won't lead anywhere) by having an affair with a married Kristen Bell.

Out of the three types of love, I could only relate to the first two but I thought it was interesting how each of the main characters had their own love story. I love me a good love story, especially when it's troubled. 

Secondly, It's about writing. The movie was originally called Writers before a title change.
As the interviewer pointed out in that link I posted above, the art of writing is not inherently visual so it's hard to transfer that to a sreen.

The first lines of each of the main characters are shown textually on the screen, I think to show that they are writers and they write their thoughts down. Luckily, that technique is scrapped right away. If I wanted to watch a film with subtitles, I'd turn the captions on.

One of the main plotlines is that Bill pays his children to keep journals. He checks the dates to make sure they are writing. The idea is that they will have money so they won't have to get jobs and can instead focus on their art.
Throughout the course of the film, Samantha is having her first book published.
In the film, writing is more just a part of the characters' personalities and lives, not so much the focus of the film, so I think changing the title to focus more on love than on writing was appropriate. 

Thirdly, it's about music. 

The soundtrack to this film is amazing. The opening credits roll over Edward Sharpe's "Home".
Members of Bright Eyes contributed songs to the soundtrack (namely Mike Mogis and Conor Oberst.)

Kate's Christmas present to Rusty is a Bright Eyes album which she says is "a road map to my soul" (such a very teenager thing to say). 

When Sam and Louis are getting to know each other, he plays her his favorite song in his car in the rain - "Between the Bars" by Elliott Smith.

The film also features tracks from Bon Iver, The National, and others.

Music is an important aspect of the film both in the plot and as soundtrack, and I loved all the songs. 

Finally, it's about family.

the movie is most of all about a broken family trying to repair itself and learn to love each other again.

and...without giving too many spoilers, the movie has a happy ending, which you know I LOOOOVE!

I really love this film and think you should definitely watch it.