Sunday, August 31, 2014

Why Fangirls Scream

Aw, I hate when this happens. I sit down to write a post and find out someone has already said it better than I ever could. Alright then, shoo shoo. Here's your link.

Monday, August 25, 2014

Teenage Girls Are Awesome



Sources for Aisha and Angela

teenage girls are awesome
And at seventeen, I'm sitting in front of my computer in my pajamas blogging about people making more of a difference than me.

Friday, August 22, 2014

YA Adaptation Duel

Today I went to see If I Stay. The Giver, based on the bestselling dystopian novel about twelve year olds that I read as a twelve year old, was playing down the hall. If I Stay stars seventeen year old Chloe Grace Moretz as seventeen year old Mia Hall. I haven't read the book, but the match is so spot on that I couldn't resist buying a ticket the day it came out. The Giver features twenty five year old Brenton Thwaites (and Taylor Swift in a brown wig).

I have mixed feelings here. I love seeing another YA novel hit the screen and draw both teen and adult viewers. But I can't get over the fact that Brenton Thwaites is twenty five. That means he's playing a character less than half his age. Daniel Radcliffe played a seventeen year old Harry at twenty five. Logan Leerman played twelve year old Percy Jackson at seventeen. The Lightning Thief received unanimous scorn from the fans. So this is the equivalent of watching Daniel Radcliffe play Logan Leerman play Percy Jackson. I've seen some egrergiously wide age gaps before, but never anything like this.
Chloe Grace Moretz is a welcome remedy to The Giver. She doesn't have to smear her face in makeup to make a youthful facade. She looks like a girl who could sit next to me in chemistry class, and that's because she is. You can't beat authenticity.
Maybe I'll see The Giver once it comes out on DVD. I loved the book and liked Odeya Rush, the seventeen year old actress who plays Fiona, in The Odd Life of Timothy Green. And I have to admit I'm intrigued by the idea of Taylor Swift acting.
The Giver was published sixteen years before Is I Stay, so it's had more time to gather fans, but they're both well known titles. Let's see which one wins in the box office games.

Monday, August 18, 2014

It's the Experience

I pulled out of the grocery store parking lot today just as the radio stations decided to conspire against me. Everything I normally listened to was on commercial break. After some random button punching, I found myself on a country station listening to Carrie Underwood's "Before He Cheats".
Oh, and he don't know...
That I dug my key into the side
of his pretty little souped up four wheel drive,
carved my name into his leather seats,
I took a Louisville slugger to both headlights,
slashed a hole in all four tires...
Maybe next time he'll think before he cheats.

I kept it on because there was nothing else to listen to, but the lyrics made me cringe. They brought me back to those awful eleven months after I turned sixteen. As a little kid, you think sixteen means a license and there's no other way about it. You imagine you'll wake up on your birthday and take off down the desert roads in a shiny new red...well, you don't know much about cars yet. But you know it will be red. Then at fifteen reality sets in. I spent six months obsessively reading over the driver's handbook before I let myself take the permit test. I passed on the first try, but I know some people who took it seven times. I didn't have room in my schedule for driver's ed and had to take it through a crappy for-profit school. My teacher was an old lady with a raspy voice who played solitaire on the computer while we watched VHS tapes on driving safety. Some of the students, like me, took it to clear their schedules. Others were out of high school already and had no other option. The oldest was twenty.
I thought he was an anomaly. But I keep running into people like him. Boys whose parents won't take them to the DMV until they earn their Eagle Scout. Girls whose parents have been "too busy" to help them practice for the last three years. Parents who just don't want to pay for insurance.
Don't you want us to move out of the house someday? Some of us are lucky enough to live in cities with subways and a decent bus system. But in the suburbs and country? Only kids and hobos walk anywhere. There's no other way about it. Everything's so spread out. Do you want us to work? You can't commute by foot to a job three towns away. There's always biking and I know a few families who keep horses, but just for recreational uses. If you can't drive from the morning you turn sixteen people think there's something wrong with you.
I didn't get my license until thirty eight days before my seventeenth birthday. I loathed cars all that year. I left the room whenever they came up in conversation. I watched fantasy and historical movies so I didn't have to look at them. One time I picked up a book by my favorite author. The story opened on the main character's sixteenth birthday. She casually mentioned going to the DMV for her license with no fuss about passing the test. I put it down.
Adults can't realize how much self esteem is tied to that stupid little piece of plastic. When adults who didn't know me tried to make conversation, it went "Hi/How are you/That's good/So are you driving yet?" Answering was painful. Even now that I've been a licensed driver for six months, my grandpa starts conversations with, "Have you crashed your car yet?"
I'd respond with, "You've had one car crash in the last twenty seven years. I have less than that."
What bothers me most about the teen driver stereotype is that it's directed at our age, not our inexperience. Remember that twenty year old I mentioned? The day he got his license, it was legal for him to talk on the phone and drive. He could be out as late as wanted. He could take his friends joyriding.
I couldn't legally drive my friends home from school until six months after. The logic behind this law is, "Teens don't have much driving experience, less experience means more crashes, let's keep these friends out of the car so they don't distract her."
I can understand this. But tell me why the same rules and logic shouldn't apply to him. Age does not make you a better driver. The only way to do that is time and experience.

Monday, August 11, 2014

Silly Rabbit, Standards Are For Adults

We had a lesson on dating in church yesteday. We covered all the basics-"How far is too far with a guy?" and "What are some fun, inexpensive things you can do on a date?" Then we got to the question that bothered me. "What do you do if a guy's making suggestions you don't feel comfortable with?"
My church leader's answer: Pretend your phone is ringing, pick it up, dial your parents, and use your pre-planned code phrase for "This is getting out of hand and you need to pick me up." Then, for your date's benefit, say, "Oh, that's tonight, Mom? I need to come home? But we're having fun...okay...if you say so. Yeah, I'll be waiting for you. Bye." 
Complications, complications. If a guy wants to go too far, I'm telling him no. Short and sweet and simple. I don't care about offending Mr. Grabby Hands. He offended me, I'm just returning the favor.
If he's not in the mood to hear a no? Then my safety is in danger and I'm not in the mood to toss around code phrases. 
In elementary school, our DARE officer told us the best answer when offered drugs: "No thanks, dude. My parents would kill me." He said to us, "Your parents won't mind if you use them as an excuse." 
Screw what my parents think. I don't want to be a pothead. It's my body being damaged, not theirs, so I'll give the dude my own answer. 
Movie reviews come with "parent content advisories". Not "child content advisory" or the age free "moral content advisory", though I occasionally see "content advisory" with the adjectives chopped off. Again, I don't care what my parents think. The child is the viewer we're worried about, right? Why not come out and say it? 
I don't like this idea that teenagers are edgy, promiscuous creatures who need parents to bridle their passions for them instead of doing the bridling themselves. I don't like this idea that each and every one of us is a high school dropout, an unwed mother, a drug addict ready to happen. That's a stereotype we actively defy everyday. 
I have standards. Those standards were taught to me by my parents, but they're mine, mine, mine. Treat me like a creature that can think and reason and say no. 

Friday, August 8, 2014

How I Learned to Eat

At the age of six, I became a vegetarian. You know what that word means, right? You've seen it before. I stopped eating ham and halibut and chicken and any other flesh food. My parents thought my refusal to eat meat was no different than my distaste for bananas and tomatoes, which I eventually got over. For the past eleven years I've eaten through conversations like this:
"How about a no-thank-you-bite of salmon?"
"Ham is one of those meats you eat, right?"
'We took your Harry Potter book and hid it somewhere in the house. For every bite of beef, you get a clue."
They refused to use the V word. I "had a hard time with meat" the way my brother Jacob "doesn't like strawberries". They didn't let me starve, but they didn't go out of their way to feed me either. If my brothers ate pork roast I'd munch on the rolls and carrots. If the family had hamburger night, I smeared peanut butter and honey on the buns. I ate a lot of peanut butter.
The result? I was scrawny. I was a middle class American child, and I went to bed hungry. I thought the rest of the food world was like my mom's kitchen table. Get what you get and don't throw a fit. I didn't dare order a chicken and pasta dish without the chicken. No, that would inconvenience the restaurant staff. What right did I have to put in a special request?
Everything changed when I was fifteen. My brother Spencer was going to college in Berkeley at the time and we stopped by for a visit. Berkeley, land of the hippies. Berkeley, with its hookah shops and protesters. Berkeley, full of restaurants where I could eat. Spencer and his girlfriend took us to a Thai restaurant that proudly proclaimed "vegetarian and vegan" in the window.
Usually at restaurants, I skim over thirty or so menu items until I can find the one or two meals I can eat. If that doesn't work I order off the appetizers. But here I didn't need to do that.
I pointed to the pasta dish I wanted and told the waiter, "I'll have this with the tofu." Tofu. I'd had that twice before and had a vague idea of the taste.
He didn't even blink. "Are you alright with the egg?"
"If you're vegan, I can take off the egg."
"No, no, egg's alright." I wanted to laugh. I wanted to hug every Asian immigrant and animal rights activist that made Berkeley's food industry the way it is today. I wanted to move to California.
When we got home, I realized I didn't need to. I could eat vegetarian in Suburbia, Utah. I could tell the lunch ladies to leave the turkey off my deli sandwich instead of throwing it away once I left their sight. I could tell my girls camp leaders to accommadate me like they did my lactose intolerant friends instead of living off granola bars. I could tell my pediatrician I didn't want or need help from his nutrition specialist friend. And most importantly?
I could tell my parents what I didn't want to eat.
When my dad offers me steak, I don't say, "Not tonight." I look him right in the eyes and say, "I'm a vegetarian and you need to realize that." I don't choke down chicken nuggets and corndogs just to make their lives easier. My mom buys tofu freezer enchiladas. Right now, she's making a salad with avacado, leafy greens, almonds, and strawberries instead of tossing lettuce and croutons in a bowl with one other ingredient.
My parents no longer praise me as the "low maintenence child". I'm obnoxious. I'm whiny. I'm a rebel. I'm a brat. I am difficult. I have values different than theirs.
And I'm up to a hundred and thirteen pounds. The world will never open up to you until you learn to talk back. 

Saturday, August 2, 2014

7 Reasons to Love Matilda

Matilda Wormwood is a brilliant kindergartener who had the misfortune to be born to the world's worst parents. Her genius goes unrecognized by everyone but Miss Honey, her teacher, the only decent adult in the show. Miss Honey was raised by her aunt, Miss Trunchbull, the physically and emotionally abusive headmistress of Matilda's school.
Since Matilda isn't being challenged in class, her brainpower spills over and gives her telekinetic abilities. She uses her powers to lead her school in a revolt, get rid of the Trunchbull, and help Miss Honey find her inner strength.
What started out in 1988 as a book by beloved children's author Roald Dahl has now given rise to a movie (1996) and, this last year, a Broadway musical. Here's seven reasons you should love Matilda.
1. It's amazingly faithful to the book. 
Seriously. You like to think that book adaptations only exist to give the fans something to complain about, don't you?
Matilda manages to pack in absolutely everything of significance from Roald Dahl's 240 page book without every feeling crowded. If anything, the story is embellished. The Chokey-Miss Trunchbull's closet that is only mentioned in the book but nonetheless managed to terrify me as a child-gets a whole song.
2. Actual child actors play child characters. If you've followed me for a while, you know I feel about aging up characters when a book becomes a show. I understand that it's necessary a lot of the time because of child labor laws. Especially with plays. A movie you can film and have it all done. But plays show night after night, and kids have to go to school.
Still, it's crushing to know that one of the only corners of the universe-the entertainment industry-that cares for children is dominated by older people. Matilda gives children a chance to tell a child's story.
3. Matilda's goofball parents.
Oh, Wormwoods.

 Dahl had a thing  against television. He ever wrote a poem about it. 
4. Kid Power!
Miss Honey is sympathetic, yes, but years of abuse have left her incapable of standing up for herself. Luckily, her students are here to help. This is their story and nobody else is going to put it right for them.

5. The Trunchbull. No one makes gruesome, child hating villains like Roald Dahl. Not every child has been locked in a spike-lined closet or chucked across the room by the pigtails. But we've all had moments where we feel small and incompetent. Worms in a world of butterflies.
G. K. Chesterson famously said, "Fairy tales are more than true; not because they tell us that dragons exist, but because they tell us dragons can be beaten." That's what Matilda is to me-a story of a girl who can slay a dragon. Children need stories like this. Not because we're all capable of being our own heroes, but because we need to know that someone can.

6. The message. 
So often, children's stories are about growing up. To save the day, to learn the lesson, you need to mature. You need to be less of a child than you were at the beginning before you can rightly be called a hero. That's not the case here. Matilda retains her childish spunk and idealism throughout the course of the story. She's little, and she's not about to "let a little thing like little" stop her. Matilda reminds us that children deserve love and respect from adults-but we're not small and pathetic without it.

7. Last but not least, this clever song.
They're singing the alphabet, but you won't catch it if you don't watch the lyrics.