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Another Text Conversation: Immortality and Dragons

September 21, 2010

I want a Night Fury.

Okay, so I know lots of cool people. I’m not really that big of a talker in the real world, but in the text messaging world, I guess I just have unusually stimulating conversations with people sometimes. Presented here is a fantastic conversation I had with my friend Henry a while back. I’m pretty sure we’re on to something…

Henry: I think if I were immortal, I would breed elephants.

Anna: Why elephants? Maybe you could get them to be as big as oliphaunts! I would breed dragons.

Henry: What base animal would you start with for dragons? I was thinking about that too.

Anna: I dunno. I think it would be easier to eventually turn a bird into a reptile than give a reptile flight, but I wouldn’t want them to be birdlike dragons. Maybe I could perfect gene splicing and create one from both. I love alligators. I would want to work with alligators.

Henry: I was thinking gators, or komodo dragons. I’m more into giant agile lizards than flying lizards. Though you could probably get flying something like a dragon from birds. Still, they’d be…beaky.

Anna: I don’t know, now I’m thinking about lulling people into a calm with a pretty hummingbird. Then, BAM! Cheeseburger.

Henry: Oh man, I need a cheeseburger as if I were suddenly struck with an uncontrollable cheeseburger craving.

Anna: Yes! But I don’t want a beaky dragon. And I want to fly on a dragon. Wings are a necessity. I would want them to breathe fire too. I want one of those cheeseburgers that melt in your mouth with deliciousness and grease.

Henry: The breathing fire thing is gonna be the hardest. As far as I know, nature hasn’t really given that much thought. Discovery channel proposed something like dragons could have eaten some rock (sulfur maybe? Iono.) to fuel their fire breath.

Anna: Maybe they could just have a gland that spurts flammable gas and then some sort of striker on their tongue or in their throat to spark it.

Henry: Yeah. Living flamethrower. Not gas. Flammable liquid goes so much further and does more damage, plus the target will continue to burn. Dragons enjoy cooked meat. I bet you could eventually make an alligator fly.

Anna: That would be awesome! Liquid would be better. What would you do with your elephants?

Henry: Breed ‘em real big and real smart so when they get hurt, they don’t go rampaging on my own army. I assume if I’m immortal eventually a catastrophe sends the world back to the dark ages. Then the guy with the elephant army controls things. Also have ‘em be very long-lived and highly fertile. We’ll need a lot. And whatever happened to mammoths? I’ll need them to caravan across Antarctica to my ice fortress.

Anna: …Don’t worry, you will have the support of my dragon army.

Henry: You control the skies, I got land. But what about the seas?

Anna: Hmmm… It would be really cool to breed a shark army, but I may be too busy perfecting my dragons. Who wants to control the seas?

Henry: We’re gonna need water dragons.

Anna: I suppose I could work that out. I feel like I’d be too powerful though. The Greeks had a god for each.

Henry: Just breed super smart dragons to patrol the seas. Also, bringing back giant turtles is always a good idea. Especially if they can hold fortresses on their backs.

Anna: Oh my goodness! I’d have a fortress on the back of a giant turtle that swam in the middle of the ocean. You could only get there by way of riding a dragon (because if you came by boat, it’d be destroyed by the vicious sea dragons – they delve too deeply into the dark places of the earth, thus becoming tainted by the darkness). No one could attack my fortress on dragons either because all the dragons would be born with an inherited loyalty to their creator (i.e. Me), even the evil water dragons, which is why they wouldn’t ever attack my fortress.

Henry: My space elephants are gonna piss everyone off…

(edited for content)

So, yeah. As soon as I find that Philosopher’s Stone, I’m breeding dragons.

Oh! And don’t forget! How To Train Your Dragon comes out on DVD and Blu-ray on October 15, 2010! Who wants a sneak peek?

My Sister and I Have Amazing Conversations Via Text Messaging

September 13, 2010

If you’ve ever met me, I’m pretty sure you know (or can guess) that I’m a super-huge Lord of the Rings fan. Over the past few years, TNT has been showing the movies on TV as a little LOTR Weekend Celebration-type deal (more movie, fewer commercials). Well this past Saturday night, The Lord of the Rings: The Two Towers came on. I was at a friend’s house eating delicious empanadas and watching Ponyo, but Allison, my eldest sister, was tuning in to the cinematic masterpiece that is The Two Towers. Thus, an epic text messaging conversation was born:

I think it’s pretty safe to say that we’re the coolest people ever.

Things Movies, Books, TV, and Music Have Taught Me About Survival:

August 22, 2010

It appears that I live a rather ordinary life. I’m a healthy individual with an adequate level of intelligence, a sturdy family, and enough common sense to get me through most problematic situations. So how did I get this way? I’d have to say most came from my upbringing, but I can’t ignore the fact that movies, books, television, and music have ruled my life ever since I was old enough to appreciate the ideas behind them. With this in mind, I compiled a list of the top ten things I’ve learned from these resources (in no particular order):

1)    Whatever you do, take care of your shoes. (Phish)

2)    A towel… is about the most massively useful thing an interstellar hitchhiker can have. (Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy)

3)    Plan for the worst. That way, any surprises will be pleasant ones. (The Wheel of Time Series)

4)    Take care of your feet, and try not to do anything stupid… like get killed. (Forrest Gump)

5)    Can’t repeat the past? Why of course you can! (The Great Gatsby)

6)    Everything is part of it, and it’s never too late to have a happy childhood. (Still Life With Woodpecker)

7)    It does not do to dwell on dreams and forget to live. (Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone)

8)    The only true currency in this bankrupt world is what you share with someone else when you’re uncool. (Almost Famous)

9)    If you hold on tight to what you think is your thing, you may find you’re missing all the rest. (Dave Matthews Band)

10) Life’s tough; get a helmet. (Boy Meets World)

So what have you learned?

Camp Beckwith

June 21, 2010

My alarm goes off. Time to wake up. I fall out of my bed, grab my toothbrush, and brush the morning from my mouth. I hear the faint call of a bell from outside. “Bell rang! Go to Wilson!” I shout to my cabin. Breakfast time.

Just another summer morning at Camp Beckwith.

My summer job consists of having fun all day long with great people, spending time in one of the most peaceful places in the world (at least to me), and reconnecting with my inner child. Where do I do this? Camp Beckwith of course! I have been coming to camp since I was in 3rd grade. It started as an offhand thing. My friend was going, and she didn’t want to go by herself so I went with her. I ended up coming back every year after that. Now I’m a Senior Counselor, basically getting paid to have fun.

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My fellow counselors at this lovely place are quite the characters. Some are crazy and over the top, some are quiet and reserved, and some are a little mix of everything. We all work well together, especially for being in such close quarters for such a long period of time. I’ll admit, there is always drama that comes with working day after day with the same people, and sometimes people like to blow things way out of proportion, but at the end of the day, you just have to learn to let things go and not let it bother you. When you have ninety-six campers to deal with for a week, you can’t let petty differences and unnecessary drama cloud your judgment and attitudes. There are so many more important things to be attended to than whether someone else is doing something they shouldn’t be or feeling as if you’re left out of the loop.

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I’m sure a great majority of the people who are on staff applied to hang out with the others on staff (including myself), but there’s so much more to Beckwith than the Summer Camp Staff. There is absolutely nothing more peaceful to me than waking up early in the morning to watch the sun rise over Weeks Bay. Taking a sailboat out into the familiar murky waters is just as exciting as sliding down the zip-line from 60 feet in the air. The yellow flies are pests and the heat is brutal, but I’d much rather get bitten by flies and pass out from heat stroke playing Star Wars, Ultimate Octopus, Camp-Wide Dodgeball, or doing the Mohawk Walk than sit at home watching television. All the Beckwith original games are my favorite, but simply playing soccer or canoeing is a much better use of my time than lying around. And what would camp be without the campers? The feeling of having younger kids look to you for fun or advice is such an empowering thing to have on a daily basis. I’m not going to lie, some of them suck for one reason or another, but most of the kids that come to Beckwith are interesting characters just like the staff. There are the long-time campers that you look forward to seeing again each year, and then there are the first-time campers that have never been to Beckwith before that you get to watch as they are simply blown away by how awesome the activities are that we do each day. I am generally a very self-conscious person. I don’t ever say announcements at meals, I don’t try to yell something funny above the rest of the counselors, all because I get nervous, but honestly, it wouldn’t matter to the campers at all. They laugh at my jokes and fight over seats at my table at meal times. That kind of attention is so heartening!

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Now let me tell you about our fearless leader, Curtis. Last summer he was our chaplain and even acted somewhat as our summer dad, but this summer he’s Camp Director, aka Head Honcho. He says he can’t be our dad anymore because he’s the boss, but it’s hard to see him as anything else sometimes. He praises us when we’re good, he scolds us when we’re bad, and no matter what happens, he will be there for us when we need him. He’s a great spiritual leader and friend. He’s also doing a fantastic job as Director, keeping all of us in line and making sure camp is running smoothly. You can tell that he loves the place so much. By his side this summer is Katie, the Assistant Director. She also keeps us in line as well as taking care of all the Assistant Counselors we have coming to volunteer their time. They were both on staff together back in the day (Beckwith Staff ’93!) and are a great team. Katie is a delight. She is a middle school teacher, so she has lots of experience handling kids and is a big help with those extra difficult campers. We’re all still getting to know Katie since she’s a newbie to us, but she’s already an accepted and loved member of our Beckwith family.

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The campers and staff all gather in the Chapel. The hour is late and many yawns are being spread throughout the crowd. Someone leads Compline (a night prayer), and we sing a calming song of praise. We all walk back to the cabins together for showers and preparation for the next day. I fall onto my bed after wiping the sand and dirt from my feet. I’m utterly exhausted from head to toe, mind and body, but I can’t help but admit that today was one of the best days of my life.

Such is everyday at Camp Beckwith.

Silly Flooding

May 16, 2010

Today I had to check out of my dorm. About the same time that I started packing things into my car, mother nature decided that she wanted to rain a lovely monsoon on the City of New Orleans. Thank god for friends who don’t mind getting a little wet in order to help you get your giant mini fridge (yes oxymoron) into the trunk of the old Ford Explorer. And thank god for SUVs. I wouldn’t have been able to leave New Orleans when I did if I had been driving a coup. Traveling 50 feet down Willow Street proved to be much more difficult than usual.
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Once that river was crossed, I came to my next trial. I call it The Great Claiborne River. Cars were parked all over the neutral ground, attempting to keep out of the rising water levels on the streets beyond. A few unfortunate souls sat unmoving in the middle of the street, stranded due to a miscalculation of just how high the water would reach on their small compact cars. The stretch between State Street and Nashville Avenue was the worst to face. I had to stop and work up my courage to drive through such a mess, even with my elevated vehicle.
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After that it was relatively clear of flooding, but it poured for nearly the entire 3 hour drive (yup, took me an hour longer than normal) to Mobile. I’m just very glad that I had The Great Hunt, Book Two of the Wheel of Time Series by Robert Jordan on my ipod to listen to as I crept down the barely visible interstate. It’s good to be home, yet despite all my inconveniences of the day, I miss New Orleans. We shall meet again soon enough. Until August, my dearest!

Treme

April 23, 2010

As a current resident of New Orleans, I couldn’t help but be drawn to the new HBO Original Series Treme. My friends and I have been looking forward to this show since last year when it was first announced that they were going to make it. As a part of the group of Tulane students who actually care about the city of New Orleans, I was surprised to find that many people on Tulane’s campus hadn’t even heard about it. This is a very unfortunate occurrence in my opinion, and needs to be remedied as soon as possible. But I digress.

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Treme is a story of the rebuilding of New Orleans after Hurricane Katrina struck on August 29, 2005. It takes place three months after the storm, sharing the stories of people who lived-out the devastation or those who evacuated returning to houses that are utterly destroyed. The visions presented in the show are great representations of the post-Katrina NOLA. Some scenes are actually filmed in neighborhoods that have been abandoned and ignored since the storm because of the lack of funds and support to rebuild them. The images are very real.

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At the time, I was still living in Mobile, Alabama, just starting my sophomore year in High School. My family and I used to go to New Orleans all the time because I had three uncles living in the city for a while. I actually visited the July before the storm hit in order to celebrate my Uncle Ed’s birthday. I didn’t return to New Orleans until Spring 2007 to go to Jazz Fest and see The Allman Brothers and visit my friend Tina who was a current freshman at Tulane. Mobile wasn’t exactly in the hurricane line-of-fire, but we saw a bit of damage here and a bit of damage there. I was out of school for about two weeks or so until the power came back on. On the flip side, my Uncle Ed’s house was completely flooded (Happy Belated Birthday!), and he and my aunt ended up buying a house in Mobile instead of trying to fix their old one. My Uncle Dave (someone I see as a hardcore New Orleanian) wasn’t run off though. He and my aunt lived on the third floor (basically the attic) of an apartment house on State Street. I think the bottom floor flooded a bit, but my uncle’s place had lots of water damage due to a damaged roof. He and my aunt lived in Mobile at my Grandmother’s house for a while, but they moved back as soon as they patched up all the damage done to their apartment (and it was the coolest apartment ever too, up until they had to move out this past Christmas break).

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Treme is a great representation of everything that happened after the storm from what I know. I watched the behind the scenes special the other day, and it’s a great addition to the back-story of the show for someone who isn’t that familiar with New Orleans culture and history. So far, I’ve only seen the first episode (and I plan on watching the second very soon), but it was phenomenal. Usually HBO series are a little slow at the beginning in order to properly introduce all the characters and stories, but I was engrossed in the story of Treme from the very start: the first Second Line Parade in New Orleans after the storm. I was hooked as soon as Steve Zahn’s character Davis McAlary says he thinks he hears Rebirth playing in the streets (one of my favorite brass bands in the city). There are so many instances of name-dropping of people and places; I just get so excited when I recognize them! Kermit Ruffins is even in the first episode (and he’s phenomenal! If you’ve never heard him, you need to change that as soon as possible). The intro for the show is also really cool. Along with showing scenes from classic New Orleans, the back to back shots of the water lines on houses after all the flooding are such powerful images. There are just so many great things in the show: John Goodman (who plays a Tulane professor) going off on an ignorant reporter, the beginning of a Jazz Funeral featuring the Treme Brass Band, Kermit Ruffins playing and not caring about who Elvis Costello is, a Mardi Gras Indian chanting down the street in the middle of the night, awesome music, second lines, Budweiser, and depictions of one of the greatest cities in America. So do I recommend Treme as a must see? Absolutely.

Music in the Movies

April 18, 2010

Have you ever been watching a movie and a song starts playing and you just think, “Man, that song was made for this moment.” Well this is a post that is dedicated to that very idea. Below are some of my favorite examples of great music in movies. Please enjoy!

Life Aquatic with Steve Zissou (Sigur Rós – Staralfur)

Almost Famous (Elton John – Tiny Dancer)

Apocalypse Now (The Doors – The End)

Breakfast at Tiffany’s (Henry Mancini – Moon River)

Office Space (Geto Boys – Still)

Step Brothers (Will Ferrell – Por Ti Volare)

Empire Records (The The – This Is the Day)

Forrest Gump (Lynyrd Skynyrd – Free Bird)

The Royal Tenenbaumss (Elliot Smith – Needle in the Hay)

10 Things I Hate About You (Letters to Cleo – I Want You To Want Me)

My Best Friend’s Wedding (Dionne Warwick – I Say A Little Prayer)

Trainspotting (Iggy Pop – Lust For Life)

Fight Club (Pixies – Where Is My Mind)

Anchorman (Will Ferrell, Paul Rudd, David Koechner, Steve Carell – Afternoon Delight)

Shaun of the Dead (Queen – Don’t Stop Me Now)

Reservoir Dogs (The Jeff Healey Band – Stuck In The Middle With You)

Say Anything (Peter Gabriel – In Your Eyes)

Wayne’s World (Queen – Bohemian Rhapsody)