Halloween: A Time for Creativity & Tooth Decay

30 Oct

I love Halloween. I absolutely LOVE a holiday with no rules. I love pumpkin-affiliated food products, haunted houses, etc. And, of course, this week’s hilarious Modern Family episode really solidified my interest.

Unfortunately, this year I’ve been a little distracted and haven’t figured out my costume yet (so on top of everything!). I’d like to continue this post with my favorite Halloween costumes.

So every year it becomes a conflict: to be attractive or not on halloween. Every year this dilemma starts even younger (some 6th graders at my sister’s elementary school wore stilletos to their halloween parade).

I’ve decided that next year I want to be something either ridiculous, freaky, or just plain unattractive. Here are my favorite costumes from this year (and possible costume ideas for next year)!

1. Pee Wee’s Playhouse

2. Gorilla

3. Sexy Elmo

4. Sister Wives

5. Mad Men

6. Double Rainbow Guy

7. Antoine Dodson: Hide ya kids, wife, husbands

8. Vampire

9. Board Games-Operation

10. Mr. & Mrs. Potato Head

Until next year…!


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Hereafter: Matt Damon-The Only Redeeming Factor

25 Oct

Why, Matt Damon, Whyyyy?

Before I finish up my Mad Men recap (a task that’ll probably take months, especially because I’m starting back at Season 1!), I’d like to analyze the movie I just saw last weekend, “Hereafter.” Typically I would add in here “SPOILER ALERT!” This is not the case with this movie. I wouldn’t recommend seeing it all together so this isn’t so much a spoiler as a persuasive piece. Then again, it all depends on your movie taste.

Right away the film starts with a “BAM!” The transition from the previews to the actual film was unclear until a tsunami strikes. That’s right, a tsunami. And no, they didn’t show this as a quick interlude into the film. It was excruciating. You see a child drown and a woman get hit in the head with a building. This would all make sense if it was that type of movie. Overall it just seemed unnecessary and excessive. But to be honest-I definitely closed my eyes during the first sequence. Maybe it was my fault to view this on a Saturday night instead of “It’s Kind Of A Funny Story.” And I hate violence and overly depressing films. Okay, maybe it’s 100% my fault. Regardless, this film was a major and unnecessary buzzkill any day of the week.

Dat was real.

After the Frenchwoman who was submerged under a building was revived-which resulted in supernatural powers that allowed her to communicate with the dead-we are transported to England. This character segment I could not emotionally handle. The scenes in England revolve around two twin boys, one a chatty Cathy and the other a borderline mute, who live in an unstable household. Their mother is an alcoholic and they do everything in their power to save themselves from social services. Obviously social services strives to look out for the better interest of the child. These children had a neglectful mother. Despite this fact, the twins still wanted her there. They had no one else, and she was still their mother. As one of the twins goes to the drug store to pick up medicine for his mom, he calls up his brother to look up what the drugs were on the internet. It turns out they were supposed to help her combat her alcoholism. They weren’t broken promises anymore–dreams really do come true! As soon as we start feeling optimistic, a group of kids start beating him up and taking his pills. He then tries to escape and a car hits him. He dies. I closed my eyes during this scene as well. I watched in agony as the boy talked to the empty twin bed next to him and wore his brother’s baseball hat. He needed his brother there to help him get through it all. I admittedly cried twice (and I’m not typically a big crier in movies). It wasn’t a light cry either.

Aka ME. Yes, that was me. Substitute the stuffed animal with my purse (a signifier of my moderate maturity) and that was my clone during every twin scene

I’ve decided not to go into full detail about the movie–I don’t want to bore you. My general response is that the film was marketed much differently via trailer than how the actual movie turned out, a common Hollywood tactic. It was a disappointing shift and a bad decision in my view. I found it to be depressing and not in a-this is depressing but for a deep philosophical, inspiring, or meaningful-way. The only person I’d recommend the film to is someone who was had an outer body supernatural experience themselves and somehow feels understood by a movie about other people with outer body supernatural experiences. And if you simply (and solely) watch the Matt Damon-focused scenes.

MATT DAMON-Team America Flashback, anyone?

El Fin! Now on to a Netflix Instant “The Office” re-run for a little pick-me-up.

Just A Little Bit Of History Repeating: The Tomorrow of Mad Men

18 Oct

In order to effectively (and semi-productively) take a break from business school applications, I decided to write about Mad Men’s season 4 finale! AMC’s three time Emmy Award-Winning Outstanding Drama series, Mad Men, is undeniably captivating. It draws audiences into the Pleasantville-era, a description previously believed to be an accurate depiction of 1960s America. Ladies wore pretty floral dresses and their greatest aspiration was to get married, and the men brought home the bacon. Everyone smiled and everything was peachy. Mad Men shakes up that idealized perception. It reveals the secrets and the contradictions between the coveted façade and each character’s innermost feelings. It shatters the appearance of what we want to be at the expense of  who we really are. If you aren’t already obsessed with Mad Men, I would highly recommend the show to every adult demographic. It is quite possibly the most wonderfully unusual show on television. On paper it may seem like a common soap opera. A plot contrived around an ad agency (yawn). In truth, Mad Men is so much more than a series based around a specific era. The acting is simply astounding. From the emotional breakdowns to the apathy, Mad Men never disappoints. How can these characters not realize their miserable existence? How do they manage to keep their lives so secret from their families and friends? Spare me from trying to convince you, just watch it!

Spoiler Alert!

Mad Men finished off it’s fourth season tonight. As is true with every season of Mad Men, this season concluded with an “ending” that left us aching for the next season to start (rather than wait 9 months!).

“Tomorrowland,” the season finale, focuses on the future of SCDP, both professionally and personally. This season started off unlike any season prior. The office was different. The music was even different. Initially I grew estranged at the transformation. I had been so used to Sterling Cooper and all the secrets Don Draper had kept in that I was skeptical of the future of the show. It’s so character-driven that any lapse in writing could have a dramatic influence on the acting (and my reactions following). Matthew Weiner simply can’t beat season three. Boy was I wrong. The season 4 finale didn’t beat season 3′s triumphant finale, but it definitely didn’t disappoint us. Season 4 was emotional and at some points agonizing. We saw Don Draper morph from being externally perfect to a straight up disaster puking often and partaking in frequent relationships with hookers. Don wasn’t hiding from his past. After the many alcoholic outbursts, he really seemed to be moving forward in terms of accepting his imperfections because, well, he kinda had to. Hey, there’s beauty in the breakdown.

“What about Tomorrowland? I don’t want to ride an elephant; I want to fly a jet.” -Bobby Draper

Don grew up. He limited his alcohol. He started to develop a real relationship (to the extent any character on Mad Men can have a relationship) with Faye. She knew him, the real him. But Faye takes work. Real relationships aren’t solely composed of the honeymoon period.  Could he handle it? Faye’s send off message says it all, “I hope she knows you only like the beginnings of things.” The relationship between them started off great. Faye didn’t buy into him right away (we all know Don loves that). Once it really got heavy, Don’s relationship cycle continues. Faye was cold at times, something he’d have to work on fixing. She borderline demands him to move on and grow up. Don does to some extent but definitely not in the way Faye had planned. As I mentioned, Faye takes work. Now that doesn’t sound like Don Draper material to me…

Can "Don Draper" ever be happy? (but he's so attractive!)

Now let me get back to this episode. So the big reveal: Don tells Megan he’s in love with her and proposes! What? I’ve heard some mixed reactions. I find some truth to his interest in her but I wouldn’t call it love. I’d say Don has become more of a coward. He’s finally breaking down and manning up to his past. Some may argue that Faye was really just paving the way for Megan. She led him to be capable of a mature relationship. Although I believe Don has matured (he even tells his kids that the Dick+Ana mark was about him), I think the whole Megan thing is really just a cop-out, a way to start over. Letting go of your past is one thing but starting anew, impossible. Henry puts it best, “There is no fresh start! Lives carry on!” I think Don’s actions are really just him running away again. He was making such good progress! I don’t think he has lost all of that growth, but he definitely hasn’t developed into a fully functional real human being.

He sees Megan as someone who can just cure it all. Megan treats a little milkshake spill as no big deal, a direct contrast to how Betty would’ve handled the situation. Just as Don remarked, she’s Maria von Trapp! But life isn’t that simple. Although Megan is different than most of Don’s love interests, she’s still his secretary. She sees a future for herself beyond being a secretary (even hints at becoming a copywriter), but still may I reiterate-she’s still a secretary. It’s been done before and he’ll grow tired. Megan claims she doesn’t care about Don’s past and knows who he is now. That’s all well and good until the relationship progresses. Yes, you can grow from your past but it’ll always be there. Don’s tendency to escape reality has an influence here. Pessimistic as this may be, I highly doubt Don will miraculously turn into a loyal and honest man who never cheats on his wife and is truly happy. Can Don Draper truly be happy?

In Peggy’s view, this is absolutely absurd. Here she is saving the company and it’s irrelevant once news breaks of the wedding. Peggy further proves her strength in this season. She wins the nylon account. An occurrence that oddly enough relates to Don’s comment to Rachel Menken prior, “Love doesn’t exist. What you call love was invented by guys like me to sell nylons.” Peggy’s made it with the big boys and what’s the thanks she gets? Don quasi-compliments her in claiming that Megan admires her work. Ugh, where’s the recognition? Despite her lack of formal affirmation, we all realize Peggy’s tremendous accomplishments. Here she was a naïve copywriter and now she has legitimately saved SCDP and grown to become an independent woman in a not-so-independent woman era.

Love the wardrobe!!

Betty, oh Betty. We all know Betty is a child. She has absolutely no business having children, and is no way a warm and caring person (especially in firing Carla!). Her parents really never taught her compassion. She’s spoiled and selfish. This selfishness has shown through more than ever in Season 4. We knew she was cold-hearted all along but surely not to this extent! Glen is correct, just because she’s sad, doesn’t mean everybody has to be. Perfect response!

To be continued…

Prop 23: The Importance of Civic Engagement over Political Opinions

15 Oct

Common sense tells us voting is a right that we should practice. With all the propositions and candidates it’s very easy to lose sight of its importance. Does my vote matter? I’m too lazy. Who are these people? Like many others, I’d like to stress that voting is essential. Maybe your specific vote won’t change the outcome. Regardless, keeping yourself informed and engaged in the community can only help (even in a small-scale sense) change the world. Now I’ll step off my little soapbox.

Sorry-totally had to add this in here...

As a new California soon-to-be resident, I’ve tried to educate myself on Proposition 23. According to voterguide.ca.gov, Proposition 23 entails:

“SUSPENDS IMPLEMENTATION OF AIR POLLUTION CONTROL LAW (AB 32) REQUIRING MAJOR SOURCES OF EMISSIONS TO REPORT AND REDUCE GREENHOUSE GAS EMISSIONS THAT CAUSE GLOBAL WARMING, UNTIL UNEMPLOYMENT DROPS TO 5.5 PERCENT OR LESS FOR FULL YEAR. INITIATIVE STATUTE.”

To put it simply, yes means suspending current regulations that address global warming (efforts to reduce greenhouse gas emissions). The implications for both sides are vast. I’ve listed the main implications for both sides below.

Yes:

  • Prevention of energy taxes
  • Saves jobs while potentially lowering unemployment rate
  • Increase short-term state revenue

    For Prop 23: small business, agriculture, oil companies

No:

  • Threats to public health (air pollution and the like)
  • Reduces California wind and solar job-creating efforts

    Against Prop 23: clean energy firms, green job workers

The strangest aspect of the proposition is Texas (yes, Texas…not California) oil companies are pumping in money to reduce clean energy and air pollution standards. This will lead to even more reliance on oil.

This post may seem obvious. I find that as obvious as this may all be, citizens still seem to be apathetic. I figure if we are even the smallest bit more informed, the world will be a better place! Whichever side you are on of the debate, go out and vote on November 2nd!

There are an overwhelming number of resources to help you make a decision. I’d recommend a more objective source (i.e. .gov endings).

Check out http://www.sos.ca.gov/elections/ballot-measures/qualified-ballot-measures.htm

Still “Waiting for Superman”: Education Reform or Lack Thereof

13 Oct

The longly anticipated education reform-based documentary, “Waiting for Superman,” finally reached select theaters last Friday. As a sibling of a teacher and fan of all that is documentary film, I anxiously awaited the film opening. As if the trailer’s incorporation of Matisyahu’s “One Day” wasn’t convincing enough, the first few emotion-driven camera angles and sound effects sucked me in.

The film centers around five kids lost in the current education system. We see the family struggle, the parents’ unwillingness to accept their children’s projected failure. With the exception of maybe Emily (a girl from the suburbs…I don’t buy it), the charter schools will determine their fate. If they aren’t lucky enough to make the lottery, they won’t make it…anywhere (unless you consider the slammer a few streets over an appealing alternative). The film taught me to look well beyond the politics. In a simple human way, I felt for the family. In these cases it wasn’t lack of parent involvement or passion. It was all a matter of chance. You are born into this system and that’s that. But with every child showcased in this film comes another thousand that don’t have overly passionate role models. At no fault of their own, children born into this alternative environment help fuel the cracked system. But how does the average citizen handle this problem? We continue to throw our hands up and surrender to the mess. In layman’s terms, the apathetic call the shots.

I am with company in this when I say the lottery was my lottery. I could have easily been in that role. That could’ve been my neighbor or my childhood best friend. Now that is what makes a film amazing. These were real people and there’s no way an audience member couldn’t feel that connection.

As aforementioned, the main culprits are the ones who comprehend the disconnect yet stay immobile. The blame doesn’t end there.

Although we’d like to believe the film was a beautiful work of art with no lean–there was a lean, oh was there a lean. The bias was clear: teacher unions are what prevent change and the unqualified D.C. School Districts Chancellor, Michelle Rhee has absolutely no idea what she is doing (I’m still not even sure how she ended up with this job-she’d unquestionably make a pretty scary elementary school teacher). Parent involvement isn’t the main issue and charter schools will solve everything. After the charter school trend is implemented, we’ll reign as world leaders once again. It’s like Sputnik-era superiority all over again!

Before we ambush the streets with our patriotic “USA! USA!” chants, I’d have to proclaim-I disagree (Again, this is what I love about documentaries. I can disagree in part with them yet love the film nonetheless). Obviously the apathetic are in large part to blame. In congruence with most of history, the silent are at greatest fault. Where our opinions diverge, however, is in the belief that charter schools will magically solve world hunger. To me that is saying that despite poverty and gang violence, all students can become neurosurgeons if they ‘just put their mind to it.’ Obviously every child is capable of success. Where they fall in the socio-economic ladder isn’t an indicator of their potential to thrive. It is (unfortunately) a very influential factor. It takes a village, a very attentive and overbearing village.

To backtrack a bit, charter schools aren’t all the same and their successes aren’t isolated incidents. The film does mention that charter schools focus on a range of subjects from music to general academic achievement. This variability makes these schools even less comparable. Additionally, the whole premise of the charter school is to succeed. The parents who put these kids in the lottery want their child to succeed. The teachers who work there want the children to succeed. Anyone who has taken a psychology course (or even walked passed the psychology building) could tell you positive affirmation creates positive outcome. Just by going into this school with the “we can do this” attitude, the kids already have a better chance at success and a resulting–by the universalized definition–future.

I don’t intend to put down charter schools by any means. But if we are to go about generalizing entire school systems, we could just generalize that these school systems work because we are putting in extra time to make them work. So what about the drop out factory a few blocks south of downtown? What happens to that school once we place all the ‘lemon’ (reject) teachers there? It’s multifaceted and one film could not solve the issue in any realm. What it does do is cause us to feel a bit more uneasy, the perfect seed for real reform.

“Waiting for Superman” is playing at Landmark Theatres Hillcrest Cinemas. Check out movie times at   http://www.landmarktheatres.com/market/sandiego/hillcrestcinemas.htm

Kara Bellowe’s Blog

12 Oct

Welcome to my blog! I’ve decided that it’s finally time for me to start a more formal blog. I plan on keeping up-to-date with current events, the latest documentaries, youtube trends, Mad Men episodes, and pretty much everything else that the internet has to offer. Get ready!

It all depends on how we look at things and not how they are in themselves.

-Carl Jung.