Monday, August 12, 2013

"By seeing London, I have seen as much of life as the world can show."

^Samuel Johnson
I don't really even know where to start. I just got back from living in London for a month and a half, and there are so many things to say about it that I'm not sure how to say them.

I've wanted to go to London for as long as I can remember, mostly because a ton of my favorite things from throughout my life are based there. But I was completely unprepared for how much I would actually find there. I am blown away by how much of my life I found in a place I'd never even been.

I sat on the steps of St. Paul's Cathedral, where the bird woman sat in Mary Poppins. I lived just down the street from the church where Beatrix Potter got married. I went shopping on Portobello Road, just like Angela Lansbury in Bedknobs & Broomsticks. I walked on the street where Elton John, Jimi Hendrix, and Jimmy Page lived and worked. I took a train out of Paddington Station, home of Paddington Bear. I saw George Orwell's house. I took a picture at Abbey Road on the 44th anniversary of The Beatles's famous photo. And I stood on the place where the piano played by Elton John, Freddie Mercury, Harry Nilsson, Supertramp, and Paul McCartney stood, on the 45th anniversary of the recording of "Hey Jude."

And that's just the pop culture. The incredible amount of history alone could fill hundreds of posts. I mean, I attended an Evensong service at Westminster Abbey, an 800-year-old building where every monarch since William the Conqueror has been coronated. I could go on for ages about the amazing footsteps in which I walked during my time in London.

I think the most remarkable thing about the trip, though--and forgive me for being hideously cliche--is the people I got to meet and get to know. I don't make friends easily. I get anxious about meeting a lot of new people at once. I don't often have very much in common with my peers, and I admit I was worried about not getting along with the other people in my group. I have never been so happy to be wrong.

The 26 people in this group were some of the most wonderful people I've had the pleasure of spending 6 weeks with, especially my lovely roommates. I was a little worried about having three roommates, but it ended up being the best thing that could have happened. The three of them were immediately warm and welcoming, and I couldn't have been happier with the way things turned out. Thanks, guys.

What was amazing about the whole thing was that most of us would never have hung out with each other in any other context, but finding ourselves in the same situation as newcomers to a huge city broke any barriers we may have otherwise had. And I think all of us came away much more open-minded about people we might be hesitant to want to talk to. At least I did.
The greatest group in the most fitting Tube Station

I learned so much over the last month and a half, not just about media and history and culture, but about myself and about other people. Perhaps the most important thing, though, is that there's no way I can not go back to London. And I know I'll make it back someday. (I can has visa?)

Now that I'm home, all that remains is to shake this jet lag and try to feel less sad about not being in London anymore. Well, maybe the first one.

P.S. The Teddy you see in the picture of St. Paul's has a Tumblr! Follow him at

Monday, July 15, 2013

"Put on Your Red Shoes and Dance the Blues"

I had never really thought about just how influential British music was to American music. I was brought up listening to '70s prog rock--Pink Floyd, Yes, Moody Blues, Cream, all the good ones--and both of my sisters have always been really into Bowie, but I never really thought much about the importance of any of it. I just always thought it was cool music to listen to.

Of course I knew about the British Invasion, but that always just meant The Beatles to me. The '60s, to me, always seemed to belong to America. Apparently, though, the British music scene was where it all really came from in the '60s and '70s.

The British Music Experience was a really interesting way to put my life-long history of listening to British music into perspective. Having everything compiled in one place like that was astounding, just because there was so much influence there in that one compact space. With everything in chronological order it was easy to see how each band, each sound, influenced the next, and the next, and so on, into the future.

It was kind of surprising to see which bands were shown more than others. I was very surprised how little Pink Floyd there was, because I had always thought that they were one of the more influential bands of the time and even of today. I don't remember seeing any Pink Floyd artifacts at all; they were only shown on videos or on the big wall at the ends of the rooms. There was also very little about Elton John, which surprised me, because of his popularity, for one thing, and because of how important he was to piano rock/pop, which wasn't really a thing until Elton John came along. Despite that, though, it was absolutely amazing to see so much influence all contained in that space.

I went to the Bowie exhibit at the Victoria & Albert, too. Again, Bowie was always music that I had listened to growing up and it wasn't ever that significant to me. From what I understand, though, Bowie is much bigger here in the UK than in the US. I don't know how influential he was to American pop through the '70s, but, especially highlighted by the V&A exhibit, it's obvious that there are few individuals in British music history as important as David Bowie. He did things that no one had ever seen before, and he made it okay for other people to do the same.

Sunday, July 14, 2013

In Every Blog, There is a Post That Goes Like This

^This makes sense if you've seen Spamalot. Which you should do.
I grew up watching Monty Python. I loved the hilarious ridiculousness of it. But it wasn’t until I took a class called “The Films of Terry Gilliam” last semester (I know. Be jealous) that I really understood the significance of Python and what they set out to do.

Python is always kind of what I think of when people talk about “English humor.” I guess even here it’s a little more of a niche thing than entirely popular culture, but I think the irreverence of it is quintessentially English. A lot of new movements came from the anti-establishment sentiments of Python, and, especially in a place that is so astoundingly old, it made it okay to make fun of…well, everything. Gilliam’s animations—taking classics like the Mona Lisa and the Statue of David and cutting them apart and making them do stupid things—made sure that nothing was sacred anymore, not even God. I think Americans are a lot of times too afraid to offend anyone to really catch onto humor like that in Monty Python, and I think that’s the one of the biggest differences between us and the UK and also why Monty Python is popular with a smaller, cult crowd in the States. I think the fact that there is so much history here is why the English are okay with making fun of it. It’s nothing to them that a building is 800 years old. I guess Americans still feel that they have to prove themselves, because we’re relatively new on the block, while the English are long established and can just sit back and revel in that.

Okay. To the point. Finally. I had always wanted to see Spamalot, and it seemed perfect that we were going to see it, having grown up believing in its English-ness.

I certainly wasn’t disappointed. I loved it. What made it so wonderful was the fact that turning it into a musical gave Eric Idle a whole new layer of societal norms to make fun of. There are new cultural things that couldn’t have been taken on in the movie because of the format and the time period. Musicals just can’t be left alone—there are so many things to latch onto with them. I was a little hesitant just because it’s so hard to beat the original cast members, but once Eric Idle appeared as God it was made for me. I mean, Eric Idle is like Monty Python God, and he wrote the play, so it was just too perfect. The play was so current, too; I imagine that the song with all the pop culture references is constantly rewritten to keep up, which is very smart.

I loved when the actors broke character and the fourth wall, because it really continued the tradition of tearing things apart. In any other circumstance it would be very unprofessional, but when Python does it it makes a fantastic statement about the structure of musicals and how we so willingly suspend our disbelief over these silly, formulaic shows. The songs, the dancing, the sets, the lights, are always the same, and it takes something like Monty Python to so publicly point it out. The movie poked fun at musicals a little bit with the scene with the Prince who just wanted to sing, but Spamalot did it to the point that it was overdone, which was on purpose, of course, and was perfect.

It was interesting watching the show with other Americans, especially Americans who may not have seen or liked Monty Python. A few people I talked to before the show didn’t really want to go and weren’t particularly excited about it, but the impression I got afterward was that everyone seemed to really like it. Even if people don’t get the deeper anti-establishment meaning they can still enjoy the silliness.

"Years may wrinkle the skin, but to give up enthusiasm wrinkles the soul."

^Samuel Ullman
Guys, I'm Twenty. Venti. Zwanzig. Vignt. And all the other languages that have a word for twenty.


Please don't give me that But-I'm-X-years-older-than-you-you-are-so-not-old thing. I know that 20 isn't old at all. But it feels old. It's weird to be 20. There's no more "teen" in my age, which implies real adulthood.

Which is absolutely terrifying.

I found that as I got closer to turning 20 I was (and still am) caught in this weird contradictory place between nostalgia and anticipation. On one hand, I want time to stop, go backwards, even, so I can keep being a kid. But on the other hand, I am so terribly excited for what is to come in my future.

As a whole, I'm proud of where I've come as a person in my twenty years. And I think the last couple of years have made a huge difference. The year between graduating from high school and starting sophomore year in college is evidently the most important year for these kinds of things, because when I started sophomore year and watched the new freshmen coming in, it made me wonder, "Was I like that a year ago??" I find I'm more compassionate, more understanding, more well-rounded, generally more mature than I was just two years ago. I've still got loads of work to do, but, hey, so does everyone.

I guess that's all I have to say about it. Just that it's weird. I don't know if this is a thing that happens every decade, but for now I think I can safely say that 20 is the strangest birthday to date.

I have two decades of amazing things behind me. I can't wait to see what kinds of things are ahead.

~Snooty Crumb

I went to Belgium for my birthday. This was my first taste, and it just kept getting cooler.

Wednesday, July 10, 2013

"First impressions are often the truest"

^William Hazlitt
First impressions are weird things. Some people say there's nothing more important, some people say they should never be trusted. As for me, I usually find that my first impressions are reasonably accurate, but I'm not sure I've made up my mind. Surprising, I know.

My first impressions of the United Kingdom came on the airplane, I suppose, where my brain made up its mind about what I would find on the ground the other side of the Atlantic. I should have been sleeping, of course, but you know how plane sleep is. I hunched myself into a semi-comfortable position with my head on the tray table while the lady in front of me repeatedly sat roughly back into her seat, smashing the tray lock into my skull. Comfy. I let my thoughts of tea and rain join with the turbulence in lulling (maybe "lulling" isn't the right word. More like "I-didn't-have-much-choice-but-to-go-with-it-ing") me into awkward plane sleep.

How right was I? I guess I could be considered something of an Anglophile. I suppose I know a fair bit more about England than the average American. So I guess this is the time I get to find out, once and for all, whether all those things I've seen on TV my entire life are actually what Americans (or TV Brits) say they are.

Here's a list of interesting things I've run into since the plane hit the ground a week and a half ago. Oh, a list. I'm just full of surprises today.

  • I am SO excited to find out that people actually do say "Cheers" and that Scottish people actually say "wee." I was entirely convinced that we had just made that up in the US.
  • What on earth is the deal with having 800 doors to everything? It's a good thing I'm not claustrophobic is all I have to say.
  • The Tube is pretty awesome. And they do actually say "Mind the Gap."
  • British coins are confusing. I hate to be that person who's like, "I don't understand the money!" But really. Why are 10p coins so enormous?
  • Apparently the UK has yet to figure out plumbing.
  • Another astoundingly American observation: IT'S SO OLD. Seriously. I already made this discovery in other continental countries, but I'm living in the middle of a city that was started 1000 years ago. I mean, really, I have a hard time even imagining that much time passing consecutively. It's insane. 17th century is new here, instead of being the absolute oldest thing possible like in the US.
  • Scooters are totally a thing here. Especially little plastic ones for little kids.
  • Wine Gums. They are candies labelled with different kinds of wine. They're candies. Of wine.
  • TV is definitely not a central thing here. There's pretty much nothing on most of the time except news, particularly during the afternoon. A lot of channels (even BBC4!) don't have anything on them until certain times of the day.
  • The drinking schedule makes a lot more sense here. Start drinking early, after work, and then everything's closed by 11. Normal nights' sleep, right? I'm not much of a drinker, but the pub life is wonderful. Bumming with friends (or friendly strangers, maybe) over a pint at 8pm is way better to my mind than doing shots and getting sloshed at 1 in the morning.
Maybe this list turned into something more of a "things I noticed" than first impressions. But you know what? It's not that important, is it?

~Snooty Crumb

P.S. I have to write blogs (or make vlogs) for class, so if I end up writing some of them, they'll be here. Feel free to read them if you'd like.

Thursday, June 6, 2013

“Nothing great was ever achieved without enthusiasm.”

^Emerson is still my favorite.

Confession: I compulsively make lists. Maybe I've said this before, but I have lists of everything, especially of things that are not really all that useful. Two of those lists have become more important to me, at least in an abstract way, than I ever thought they would or really intended them to: Things I Hate (e.g., pet peeves) and Things I Love.

I came to the realization one day that my list of pet peeves is significantly longer than the list of things I love. And that made me a little bit sad. I sat for a moment at my computer trying to think of more things to put on my list, and I just couldn't. Maybe I'm overthinking it (in fact, I probably am), but there's something kind of upsetting about that.

Something I've always liked about myself is that I'm very easily excited. I love the little things, the things that most people tend to pass over. I find pretty much everything interesting. But high school drained me of a good deal of my motivation, and then I moved to Philadelphia, which is basically hipster central. So lately I've gotten caught up in my generation's obsession with irony.

What that means is that it's not okay to like things anymore. People look at me funny when I get excited about some really great sign I saw, or hearing the ice cream truck drive by, or finding out some little unimportant tidbit of information. I even get looks when I get excited about bigger things, like a great movie or an interesting place I've found. I guess I let that get to me, because I started slipping more and more into the easy life of complaining.

It's so easy to be angry. To be unhappy. To be irritated by all those weird little things that are specific to our own individual tastes. It's easy to complain. That's why we have Twitter accounts like "Female Pains" and "Student Pains," dedicated entirely to pointing out all of the things that suck about being a femalestudentmaleTVshowlovercatdogpersoncaralien. We can all relate, because we all love to complain. I got some good laughs out of them for a while, but it got really old. Just stop whining already.

I find the overwhelming irony to be just a little bit lazy, because you don't ever have to look for anything to really like; you can just sit back and make fun of anything that moves. And anything that doesn't. Really just anything.

Don't get me wrong: I love sarcasm. It's great. It's smart. But it's also limited. I don't think you can live your entire life under a veil of sarcasm. It's not healthy. If we can't actually be happy or excited about anything, where will we go? How will we be able to achieve anything if nobody likes anything they're doing?

My question is why? Why must I be considered a weird person for loving things? Why have we given up on being happy? Why have we lost interest in trying to make a genuine mark on the world?

I don't want to be like that. I want to take a step back and remember what being excited is like. Remember what truly loving something is like. I'm getting there, but sometimes I need reminders. Who's with me?

Sip a honeysuckle. Step on some crunchy leaves. Listen to your favorite song (your real favorite song). Eat some ice cream. Listen to a summer night. Learn something new about something you thought you knew inside and out. Hug the sheets just after they've come out of the dryer. Be nostalgic for a moment. Think about the things that old trees have lived through. Write something important to you on physical paper with a physical pen.

Most importantly, enjoy those things.

Make what the amazing Ze Frank calls Your HappyList. Just be real. Hipsters can't last forever. Just like things, for Pete's sake. (No. Not on Facebook. Geez.)

There's a fantastic op-ed piece from the New York Times called "How to Live Without Irony", in which the author, Christy Wampole, talks about why living in such a culture of irony is so dangerous, and offers her take on why my (our?) generation is so intent on living solely ironically. There are too many amazing points to mention here, so go take a look at it. It's definitely worth your time.

~Snooty Crumb
P.S. This writing is suuuuuper awkward. Sorry. :(

Wednesday, May 22, 2013

“Great heroes need great sorrows and burdens, or half their greatness goes unnoticed."

^Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn (I've not read that book, but I just looked it up and I think I want to...)

I think some people like to think that their heroes are perfect, that that's why they're heroes. But I think that the people who are able to open themselves up as real, feeling, flawed human beings are more worthy of being heroes than the people who seem like they're perfect. To know that the person you look up to more than anyone struggles with the same problems you do, to know that yes, he is a human being, too, that yes, she is flawed, too, is more refreshing and wonderful than any thoughts of perfection might have been before. Putting someone on a pedestal may be one kind of admiration, but to truly understand them as human beings is to understand that you are closer to reaching their great heights than you thought. And who doesn't want that?

I found that on my phone the other day. I wrote it months ago with the intent of making it a longer post, but when I found it I thought it worked just the way I left it.
A real post is kind of swirling around in my head right now and has been for about a month, so it might eventually become something. I hope.

Sunday, April 14, 2013

"Railway termini are our gates to the glorious and the unknown."

^E.M. Forster
     For class this week (guess which one?), our assignment was to go to a place we'd never been before, leave all of our electronic devices behind, and just take notes. We then had to take our notes and condense them into a 1-2 page Gonzo-journalism-style article (we just watched Fear & Loathing in Las Vegas).
     I went to the 30th Street Amtrak station, which was built in the 1930s in this fantastic Art-Deco style. It was awesome. I loved being there without my phone. It was just me and a place. No infinite connections to the mass of information of the Internet, no quick way to contact other people. Just me and the train station.
     There was a part of me that was disappointed that I couldn't check my Facebook or look things up on Wikipedia. When I sat down that was what my brain expected me to do. But it was wonderful to disconnect for a little while and find myself simply present in the real world.
     I took a huge amount of notes. I would have shared them all with you, but they're far too long for anyone to be interested in (including me, probably). So here instead is my gonzo-style article. Enjoy!

I step off the SEPTA train at 30th Street and hurry to get to the stairs to escape that horrible squealing that, for whatever reason, every Market-Frankford train makes. 7 steps, then 12. Why not 8 and 12—make it an even 20? More stairs to (thank the Lord) get out of the station. 17 and 17. Seems like a strange number. But that doesn’t matter at all. What does matter is that I’ve made it to the 30th Street Amtrak station. 
As I step inside, I’m bombarded by the smell of too much food. Dunkin Donuts. Taco Bell. Pizza Hut. Saxby’s. Nathan’s. Ben & Jerry’s. Wendy’s. Auntie Anne’s. Subway. Aw, geez, Subway? One gross Subway smell into another. I wade through this barrage of fast food chains into the main concourse and am overwhelmed by the sheer scale of the place. The columns, the high ceilings, the long lamps, the statue that kind of reminds me of the one in the Central Services building in Brazil and consequently freaks me out just a little bit. It’s just… awesome. 
I pick an empty bench and sit down. I reach for my bag to pull out my pen and notebook, but there  is this part of my brain that expects to be checking my phone, and that’s childishly disappointed that I don’t have it. God, am I that absorbed by my phone? I like to think I’m not, that I’m more connected to the world around me than those other people buried in their technology. It turns out I’m more like them than I thought, and I don’t know whether to feel relieved or indignant about it. 
The sound in this place is fascinating. The size of the room means that you can hear absolutely everything and absolutely nothing at exactly the same time. It turns into this indistinguishable mass of noise, with this weird ambience that sounds like a constant, quietly-mumbling crowd. It always sounds like voices, but you can never make out words. The schedule above the information desk changes occasionally. It’s not digital, which is surprising but also welcome. It makes a nice “flipflipflipflipflip” noise when it changes, and there’s something kind of soothing about it. 
It’s interesting to me that a building whose sole purpose is for funneling people in and out of trains is so extravagantly beautiful. There’s no event here, and that’s precisely why I came. People don’t come here just to come here (except me, I guess). People come here just to leave it again. This is the place people go on the way to their events. The Art-Deco lamps and columns go unnoticed, because the people there didn't go there to see them. 
(Admission: while sitting on my bench writing I came to wonder what the style of the building was. I thought it was Art-Deco, but I wasn’t sure. That techno-hungry part of my brain threw a tantrum when it realized I couldn’t look it up right then and there. It is Art-Deco, it turns out, but I was surprised by my reaction to not having Wikipedia at my fingertips.) 
Anyway. What happened to that interest in making even the places of passing through worth looking at? Grand Central Station, Ellis Island, Musee D’Orsay, none of those were built for anyone to take any particular joy in being in them. They were for people-moving. For transferring people from one place to another. Was the extravagance to make a good first impression or just because the builders felt like it? If we spent so much time on those places, why don’t we also spend the same amount of time on the buildings people have to spend all day working in? 
Maybe I should have found an event to go to. This is supposed to be journalism, after all. But there’s something more interesting to me about the non-events, the things that happen in between actual events. Those non-events get overlooked by people too interested in what’s considered important. But I’m of the opinion that it’s the so-called “boring” things that make us human, and it’s high time that we start reveling in those things, too.
Have a lovely day!
~Snooty Crumb

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

"The enemy of art is the absence of limitations."

^Orson Welles

In unrelated news, I bought myself a Canon T4i! Riley made a sort-of cooperative but oh-so-adorable subject.
This is kind of a follow-up on my last post. Or, perhaps more accurately, this is a post about how I've reached the downside of my creativity kick: the feelings of creative inadequacy, the inability to accept anything less than perfection, the crippling self-doubt.

It seems silly for me to be so affected by these things. I mean, geez, it's not even like I have to do any of the things I set out to do. Maybe it's because I have unattainably high expectations for myself, because I expect myself to be great at everything and that I have to know everything right now. Maybe I'm just feeling intimidated by other people's intense and seemingly inherent creativity. I don't know, but I seem to have hit a wall.

I think I'm a creative person, at least in a broad sense. I like to approach everyday situations in unexpected ways, and I like to turn mundane things into strange ones. I've had entire conversations that were built on those very things: I've created a hypothetical world in which vacuuming is far more exciting than vacations and in which we live in a symbiotic relationship with our vacuum cleaners. I once improvised an entire theorem about how the Earth is actually a living dodecahedron coated in reptile scales inside of a universe-bowl. A couple of friends and I rewrote the history of the United States by re-imagining what the names of events meant. So apparently I can come up with interesting things when I'm not thinking about it.

But the moment I say something like, "Hey, I feel like writing a story," or, "I want to make a movie," or even, "Dang, this class is boring; I should doodle until it's over," my brain turns all stony and logical and I end up just staring at the blank page wondering where all of my creativity went and why I can't even think of something to doodle on my notes. Just a stick figure would do, really. A 30-second video. A short story. Something. Anything.

I guess there's some switch in my brain that detects the possibility of failure and shuts everything down. "STOP! You can't do that! It might turn out to be bad! And then you won't be successful at anything in your life ever!" (Things in my brain escalate quickly.)

So then I just become a frustrated non-artist with excellent intentions but nothing to back them up. And then my brain says, "Oh, geez. Now look at you. Can't even doodle. You'll never be successful at anything in your life ever!"

Now, when I have good ideas, they're really good. I'll give myself that. They're just so rare that when I'm in between them I get lost in this spiral. Then I'll watch a Terry Gilliam film or something and think, "Why can't I think like that?" And it's that kind of ridiculous comparison that leads to this very blog post. I mean, really, Courtney. Who else thinks like Terry Gilliam except Terry Gilliam? There is absolutely no point in comparing myself to a creative genius like that.

I think Orson Welles is right, though. Without limitations, everything is straightforward and simple. And art is rarely pure and never simple, to borrow from the incomparable Oscar Wilde (yes, I am aware that he actually wrote that about truth, but that didn't fit. So shush). So many of the most brilliant things come out of not having the funds or the materials or the time needed to do the things that were originally intended.

Maybe this is just my own limitation. I've always had a tendency to quickly get discouraged when I can't do things I feel I should be able to do (as in, well, everything, pretty much). I'll just have to be one of those people who has rare but awesome shining moments, and I guess that's cool, too.

When I started writing I had every intention of waiting to post until I'd thought some more about whether I really want anyone to read this or whether anyone would even care. But I know if I don't post it now I won't, and then I won't have learned anything. This is the kind of thing that usually I would stash in my brain and brood about for a long time until I get tired of it or something else takes its place. But in an effort to actually write something, and being (as usual) unable to think of anything else, I decided it was just as good to just be open for once. So here it is. An honest confession.

Until next time,
~Snooty Crumb

"And if you're paralyzed by a voice in your head
It's the standing still that should be scaring you instead"
~ Ben Folds Five, "Do It Anyway"
This just happened to be playing as I was finishing up and I thought it was appropriate. :)

Thursday, February 14, 2013

"Incuriosity is the oddest and most foolish failing there is."

^Stephen Fry. I'm slightly obsessed with Stephen Fry.

(I apologize in advance for how long this is. Sorry. I'm excited.)
New Year's Resolutions. In February.
I've never really made New Year's Resolutions, because I know myself well enough that I know I'm not going to keep them, so I generally don't even bother. Sometimes I'll have one in my head and think to myself, "It would be kind of nice if I did this," but that doesn't count, mostly because I do that all the time. But this year I made something of a little-r-resolution that happened to be kind of at the beginning of the year. So it's a new year's resolution, but not a New Year's Resolution. (For the record, I did make a capital-R-Resolution to get in shape, but... yeah, no)
Whatever the case, my resolution this year is to start thinking again.
"Wait, what?" (That's probably what you just said to your computer.)
Yeah. I want to start thinking again. I won't go into my very long rant about how little our public school system encourages creativity and free thought, but, in case you're wondering, it's basically not at all.
As I somehow made my way through high school, I found myself running out of creative ideas quickly and getting annoyed when I had to think of something outside the box. By my first year of college it was making me extremely unhappy, only I didn't realize that that was the reason.
I finally came to the realization that I'm happiest when I'm learning about things, and not just learning about them, but thinking about them, and not just thinking about them, but thinking about them in a broader context, how they can fit into other situations, how I can make them look different. I'm that annoying person who's always saying "Did you know that...?" at every possible moment, not because I'm a pedantic arse, but because I'm genuinely interested in whatever irrelevant fact I've just happened to remember.
(By the way, did you know that George Washington was taking his own pulse as he died?)
Last semester I found a podcast called "Stuff You Should Know" from (which is awesome, if you haven't been there). It's these two guys who talk about pretty much everything you could think of, from autopsies to exoskeletons. That podcast was kind of what got me started on this brain-improvement kick.
This semester I'm in a class called "The Films of Terry Gilliam," which is just as awesome as it sounds. Our homework for the first week was to watch Jabberwocky and make a collage. Last week we watched Federico Fellini's 8 1/2 and Monty Python and the Holy Grail and made a comic based on a poem. This week we have to (read: "get to") watch Time Bandits and make a flipbook.
This is my collage. I was really proud of myself for making actual art with actual meaning.
The point of the class is not just to analyze Terry Gilliam, which is great anyway, but it's also to be creative and use our hands to make things. It's about taking our noses out of our technology (says the chick currently staring at the computer) and going back into the library, picking up markers and glue and scissors, and creating whatever we think is relevant or interesting or beautiful. This class is what really made me want to bring myself back into the world of creativity and creation and start to think more deeply about the things I see around me.
This is my comic, based on Keats's Sonnet XVII. If you can't read the text on the comic (you probably can't; sorry), it's basically a guy who can't decide whether he likes where he lives or not.
So I've started reading again. I took a trip to Barnes & Noble last weekend and used the gift cards I'd been saving for a year, and then that same day I stayed up late finishing one of the books I had bought for the first time in who-knows-how-long (it was The Fault in Our Stars by John Green--holy moly was it amazing. Totally worth being tired the rest of the week. Heck, I would have stayed up for days to read it).
I got some books of poetry from the University library, because I'm tired of not knowing anything about poets.
I've been looking around for German TV shows I can watch on YouTube, because I'm sad that I'm losing my German skills.
I brought my Italian textbook and a Danish Rosetta Stone CD from home because I want to expand my linguistic repertoire, which is a phrase I just made up. It sounds official, right?
And I'm back here, on my blog, where I've been neglecting to post anything, because, despite the fact that very few people actually see it, it's still a chance for me to do something interesting with my brain. And besides, I missed writing. Since my ideas are generally sparse, I guess writing about my weird self is an okay alternative.
There's a commercial for where this woman talks about how much Lumosity helped her brain get smarter or whatever, and she says something along the lines of, "It was easy to work out my body, but working out my brain was hard!" It always makes me laugh and then feel a little bit weird inside. Maybe I'm just more of a nerd than I realized, but that sentence always seems backwards to me. Is it just me who thinks that push-ups are way harder than puzzles? Why should that be the case?
So this is my encouragement to you: Pick up a book. Find your box of crayons (I know you have one somewhere). Do a jigsaw puzzle. Make a movie. Do something that makes you think, but, more importantly, that makes you happy. It doesn't have to look good. Just distance yourself from the digital for a little bit and see that it's not the only place where you can find happiness. And, above all, be creative.
So long for now!
~ Snooty Crumb

P.S. I'M GOING TO LONDON THIS SUMMER!!!!!! Temple has a Study Abroad program that's just for School of Media & Communications students, so I won't just be in London, I'll be in London learning about the things that will eventually (hopefully) be my job! So if I don't keep my little-r-resolution to post more often this semester, I can at least guarantee that I'll be posting something while I'm there. But lots of things are going on right now, so at least one more post will be coming soon. Details will probably be there. :)