Wednesday, August 15, 2012

Get Your Geek On

We're all a little geeky, really, especially as literary and film and TV genres keep bending and blending, and superheros keep taking over local cinemas, more non-geeks are leaning a little bit, um, sideways lately. You know. Geekways.

I've been told I'm only a partial geek. Sometimes my 15-year old son, (who considers himself a truer geek than I), and I discuss superhero things and comic-book things (though my comic knowledge is, admittedly, very limited; in fact- I have trouble remembering that Batman and Superman are DC and every other cool superhero in creation is Marvel... so kind of him to keep reminding me with eyes rolling) and Lord of the Rings and books and movies and computers (well, he discusses computers. I try not to let my eyes glaze over when my brain just stops functioning) and video games (he tells me the ending sometimes, since I'm never going to play games such as "Infamous" on the PS3). We even joke sometimes that we will henceforth measure the children in hobbits, as my children tend to run a little small in stature, but they're still taller than hobbits.

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Acne Regimen

Years ago, I discovered this easy, affordable solution to my adult acne, and I've never looked back. My skin is very clear and I'm completely happy with the results. Recently, thought, I've made a couple of slight changes, so I'm updating this as of April 2014. 

I hope this post finds those who need it most!

Emotional Art: Shakespeare

The other day in the library, I was instantly distracted and brought to a screeching (well, maybe not screeching... it is a library) halt by a book left lying on a table. I hadn't seen it as it went through the steps of purchase, unpack, catalogue, and processing before it went out to a display shelf of new titles. When I saw the cover, though, I knew, instantly, that I would love what I found inside. It was a magical combination of both love at first sight and judging a book by its cover. :)

The book is a re-printing of William Shakespeare's "Romeo and Juliet", illustrated by Kevin Stanton (check out his blog and website), and while the text is lovely (it really is), what struck me first was the exquisite paper art illustrations on the cover and throughout the book. They are layered three-tone pieces- the cover is Romeo looking at Juliet lying on a bier, surrounded by roses. The colors are a deep purple, creamy cream and eye-catching red. The picture absolutely does NOT do it justice. In the picture it looks lovely, but in real life it is breathtaking. All but the photo with my hand in it are from his website.
Scattered inside the book are more layered paper art pieces, including the garden and balcony-- easily my favorite one- the detail is amazing!! This is a photo I took of the page-- hence my hand holding the layers down for the camera. (Is taking and posting this photo illegal since it's someone else's art? If you know, tell me... I'll remove it if it is. If I can find the artist on Twitter I'll ask him...)
The stars, the blossoms, the paving stones, the wall-- the balcony and arched widows? Gorgeous!!

He also illustrated Macbeth. Our library doesn't have it (yet??), but I imagine it's just as beautiful. This is the cover.
And check out this blood-soaked knife. I LOVE IT!! I would hang THAT on my wall! Seriously... on a literature-themed wall, of course. Not where my Mickey Mouse sketches or photos of my kids hang...
The artwork is evocative and sinuous- I can feel the ghosts approaching. I would love to get my hands on this book-- Macbeth has long been my favorite Shakespeare work. 

In addition to the layered inserts, there are many detailed illustrations in the same style, printed on the pages of the books, such as this next example: 
Just beautiful. Again, the photos cannot hope to compare to the real-life versions. If you have some extra book-buying money this year, these would be money well spent. 

Along with all the stunning visual awesomeness, there are many other little treats in these books. In "Romeo and Juliet", (and I'm sure "Macbeth" has the same), there is an excellent introduction by Mario DiGangi, an article about Shakespeare and England at the time he lived by David Scott Kastan, followed by another article by Kastan explaining the words and language used by Shakespeare. There are footnotes and translations for every single page of the play-- fantastic for young readers just getting their Shakespearean feet wet, but also helpful for us oldies who have read and loved Shakespeare to go a little deeper, and maybe refresh in our minds the layers hidden in the text.

Following the play are a section of longer notes about various items within the play, an article by Kastan "Editing Romeo and Juliet", and a trio of articles by DiGangi about the various productions of "Romeo and Juliet" over the years-- from the earliest stage to the modern cinematic productions, including works "Inspired by Romeo and Juliet" including, of course, "West Side Story"

The cultural implications in showing these books to youth and children are fantastic! I could give my kids a lesson in art- word and visual art all in one amazing book, as well as immersing them for a moment in both history and theater. *Rubbing hands together* Where to begin...

The book is hefty, 390 pages in all, hardbound and thick, but, oh, it's beautiful. I want to own the pair of them... but where would I keep them? These are more than just books- they're works of art! I don't know how one would display such beauty in a home... especially a teenage-boy-filled home such as mine. But I would like to try. These are emotive, energetic pieces of art and I just love them.

Wednesday, August 1, 2012

Tooele Jr. High Dress Code Debacle

Last spring a local Tooele Jr. High student and her father made national news after he wrote an angry blog post in reaction to her getting in trouble for wearing a skirt that was deemed in violation of her school's dress code. I've been reading some articles online about this today, and this is what I think. Feel free to comment, but if you get nasty I will block you. Just sayin'.

Point 1- They knew the rules. She wore the skirt, knowing the rule. Or maybe not-- maybe she thought it was long enough. I could see that. In the photo, it looks long enough.
Point 2- She very likely had it pulled up higher, look at that elastic waistband. Come on, she's a teenage girl. BUT, since we don't know that she did, I suppose we should reserve judgement on this point. Unlike the vitriol spewed at the Principal and administration. Huffington Post and other online commenters and the dad implying that the Principal or other school officials are perverts and that they sexualized this girl are WAY out of line and, frankly, libelistic.
Point 3- Many commenters (and the dad) also indicate that this girl was "singled out" and punished, while dozens of more scantily-clad girls wandered the halls freely. This could have been the case, but may not be completely true. Most Jr. High schools with dress codes spend an inordinate amount of time enforcing them. Granted, not everyone gets called in and punished, but many do. You just don't always hear about it on national news sites.
Point 4- And probably the most important point: We will never know both sides of this story. Did the girl get sent home because she refused to tug the skirt down to an appropriate length? Was the girl as obstinant as her father seems to be, escalating the problem? Was the girl sweet and cooperative, simply a victim of the cruel overseers at her backwards, backwoods, conservative school? Hm...
Point 5- Living in a "conservative Mormon community" actually has little to do with this situation. Over- and/or under-enforcement of the dress code is probably the point.
Point 6- I really hope the girl did not knowingly break this rule. I also hope that she didn't just learn that rebellion and mocking authority is the answer when you get in trouble. If school administraters were over the line in this situation, then the family should file a complaint, or join the school board and try to get the rule adjusted or changed or stricken, whatever their conscience tells them.
Point 7- I live in Tooele Co. School District. Every year for each of my children I have to fill out and sign packets of paperwork. I hate it. One of the papers involved, including multiple variations of it that are given to the kids and included on the websites, is about their schools' dress codes. ALL students and parents receive these things. Everyone knows the standard. It's impossible to enforce 100%, but it IS enforced. So dress accordingly.
Point 8- Why didn't the dad just bring her a change of clothes? I... don't understand. Even if I disagree with a rule, thinking it's stupid, I still expect my child to obey it, until we can get it changed. Civilized society, anyone?
Point 9- Get ready, girl, most workplaces also have a dress code. And many are stricter than school...

A lot was said about the principal not being there when the dad came to get the girl. Do we actually expect to have the principal involved on every dress code violation? And did the dad ask for an appointment or meeting with the principal, upon getting to the school and deciding his daughter's punishment was ludicrous? Was he denied a meeting? Common sense, anyone?

Let's assume that the story is as the dad tells it. Innocent girl gets singled out and punished for wearing cute, modest skirt only a bare centimeter from the standard. She cruelly gets sent home for wearing it. If this is the true story, the whole story, the problem still isn't the dress code. The problem is the policy of enforcement of the dress code. The girl didn't realize her skirt was too short, perhaps. The girl and her father claim that the rules are inconsistently enforced ("selective enforcement"). If this is true, then THAT is what TJHS needs to address with teachers and admins and staff.

One other thing: I know clothes are expensive, and modest lengths are hard to come by, especially as kids grow like weeds. However, I doubt this is the only thing that girl has to wear.

I would whole-heartedly support uniforms for kids, but in Tooele School District, there are some families that really struggle financially, and I think it would cause an undue burden on them. I would also support a clearer standard for skirts. Maybe to their fingertips? I think in HS, our standard was two inches longer than where our fingers ended... I don't know for sure, though. Maybe they should just say the skirts have to cover the knees while sitting... hmm...

There is no one right answer, just as there is not only one side to this story. What bothered me the most about all of this was all the accusations that the principal and/or teachers involved were perverts. That kind of thing is just wrong. Be careful what you say online, people. Think before you type... then go back and read it before you hit "post". Edit. Then think some more.