Thursday, February 28, 2013

Open Letter to Men, No. 4

Dear Men,

I'm gonna take a step back from the theoretical ideas I've been giving you and offer a piece of practical advice:

Schedule a lunch date.

Several women have mentioned to me recently that they love lunch dates.  Consider the following:
  • A lunch date is cheaper than a dinner date.
    Now, nobody wants someone who values money over relationships, but everybody wants to get a good deal.  Good women don't want men to spend exorbitant amounts of money on dates, especially if it's a first date or a new relationship; it lowers expectations a bit.  It's more relaxing.
  • A lunch date has a definite beginning and a definite end.
    This is ideal for a first date or a new relationship because if you find that the two of you aren't exactly compatible, you don't have to worry that the date has an indefinite end.  Dinner dates have a tendency to go on and on and on, which is good, if you're interested in the person, and bad, if you're not.
  • A lunch date is a day date, and day dates are fun!
    It's nice to break the workday up with socializing, especially if it's with a person you like!  How often do you see people you like after the sun goes down?  Probably a lot!  How often do you see them when it's light?  Rarely enough to keep such an occurrence from being novel, that's for sure.  And novelty is exciting, and excitement leads to misattribution of emotions.  That is, thrills are associated with the people we share them with.

So men, get out there and take a lady on a lunch date!  I know she'll appreciate it!

Good luck,

*In case you missed the others, read Open Letters to Men.

Sunday, February 24, 2013

High Noon, Part 2

I have continued to think about High Noon for the last couple of days.  Themes from the movie have trickled into nearly every part of my mind.  I can't quite explain it.  The best I can say is that learning about something really energizes me.  It motivates me to a degree that nearly nothing else does, and when I use my brain for learning, life is happier.  My mood is happier.

I've heard this phrase from time to time: "To know is to love."  It's usually spoken in reference to people, but I think it generally applies to ideas as well.  Where did this phrase come from?  In my effort to uncover the source, I found this quote from Aldous Huxley, the English novelist who wrote Brave New World:
We can only love what we know, and we can never know completely what we do not love.  Love is a mode of knowledge.
This is an amazing concept to me and one that I fully agree with.  To me, the point of knowing is to love, and love begets a desire to know.

I think this is how God knows his children so completely -- because he loves them so completely.  And everything he knows is used for us.  Somehow.  I don't quite understand it, but I feel that it is true.

Thing I'm thankful for: good conversation

Friday, February 22, 2013

High Noon

On the drive home to Georgia for the holidays, my parents and I talked about movies.  I asked them what their favorites were, and my dad mentioned High Noon.  "Oh, that is a good one," my mom chimed, "How did the song go?"  And they started singing it:
Do not forsake me, oh, my darlin'
On this, our weddin' day.
Do not forsake me, oh, my darlin.'
Wait, wait along.*
It was such a wonderful scene -- listening to my parents share a memory.  I wrote the name of the movie on a scrap piece of paper in my purse, so I would remember to watch it later.

Almost two months have gone by since then, but tonight, I was finally able to watch it -- and on a big screen at that!  My friend Rachel told me about the UT film series in which some of the UT film professors show, and then discuss, their favorite movies.  And what a treat it was!  What an entertaining and intellectual treat!  I can't remember the last time I had such a good time watching a movie.  And it really is one of the best movies I've ever seen.  It's a western, but it sort of subverts the genre a bit, so you can approach it from all kinds of critical angles -- new historicism, feminism, aestheticism.  I myself read it as a commentary on gender relations.  I don't want to give too much away (because you really should watch it), so I'll just say that I think the relationship between Gary Cooper's and Grace Kelly's characters by the end of the movie is really how a marriage ought to be.  The last ten minutes say it all, really.

Gosh, it was just so good.  Watch it, watch it, watch it!  And then let's talk about it!

*Listen to part of the song: High Noon Intro.  It may seem like a silly song, but I assure you, it had perhaps the greatest impact on movie music history than any other song.  After "High Noon" was released in theaters, audiences wanted the music.  Millions of records were sold, and several covers were created.  Movie studios saw a profit, and it was then that they began putting more resources into the music of the movies.

Thing I'm thankful for: smart movies

Monday, February 18, 2013

I Coulda Been a Contender, Part 2

In Pride and Prejudice, the self-righteous Lady Catherine de Bourgh publicly insults Elizabeth Bennet's piano-playing and then immediately brags about her own non-existent musical skills.  Here, see?
You will never play really well, Miss Bennet, unless you practice more . . .  There are few people in England, I suppose, who have more true enjoyment in music than myself -- or a better taste -- and if I had ever learned, I should be a true proficient.  (Watch it: Rosings, 2:45-3:25)
It's quite humorous, really -- Lady Catherine de Bourgh's ridiculous amount of conceit.  Yet, were it not for her insult toward Elizabeth in the first part of her pretty speech, I might say there was nothing wrong in what she said.  What I mean to say is . . .  Have you ever thought you'd be good at something, if you had ever tried it?  Like you know deep down in your bones that you could have been a great dancer or cowboy or doctor or athlete?  Well, there are a few things that I think I could have been great at, and they are these:
Readers, what do you think you'd be great at?

Thing I'm thankful for: salmon burgers with cole slaw

I Heart Soundtracks

When I was about 14 years old, I bought my first soundtrack.  My mom, sister, and I were on our way to Tennessee to visit a family friend.  For the trip, mom let us buy a CD each.  For some reason, Lexia and I decided we wanted to buy soundtracks.  She got "Braveheart," and I got "The Last of the Mohicans."  Immediately after listening to them, Lexia said, "Yours is better."  And at the time, maybe it was.  It had a few songs that were more thrilling, anyway.*  I think now, though, Lexia and I would agree wholeheartedly that "Braveheart" is the stronger soundtrack of the two.  In fact, I think it's the best I've ever heard.  After listening to it recently, I was thinking about my favorite soundtracks -- the ones I listen to over and over and over again -- and of course I decided to blog about it.  So without further ado, here are my top soundtrack picks.  (I'm only including original motion picture soundtracks in this list.)
  1. Braveheart, James Horner
  2. Little Women, Thomas Newman
  3. Meet Joe Black, Thomas Newman
  4. Chocolat, Rachel Portman
  5. Mansfield Park, Lesley Barber
Honorable Mention: The Last of the Mohicans, Legends of the Fall, In America

And finally, two of my most favorite soundtracks that are instrumental, but not original scores:
  • Amadeus
    In today's world, it could be called "Mozart's Greatest Hits."
  • The Pianist
    Janusz Olejniczak's performs Chopin beautifully.

*I'm specifically thinking of The Kiss.  What a great song.  I defy anyone who doesn't like it.

Thing I'm thankful for: motion-picture composers.  Truly.  I'm convinced that at least half of the emotional impact of a movie is the music.

Thursday, February 14, 2013

Happy Valentine's Day!

It's a shame to me that so many people think of Valentine's Day as mostly a romantic holiday.  Because my momma is so great and made Valentine's Day fun for the whole family when I was young, I think of it as a day to celebrate all forms of love.  So here are some articles that do just that:

Religious love

Romantic love

Factual love

Happy Valentine's Day, folks!  If you have any more articles that are lovely, leave a comment with a link!

Sunday, February 10, 2013

Family Ties

My sister once taught a student who said, "We're all brothers and sisters in God's way."  And it's true; we are.  We are all brothers and sisters, connected by our innate divinity.  I appreciate that idea; it informs much of my religious beliefs.  But there is something truly great about biological family, isn't there?

Tonight, I caught up with my cousin, who is in town for just a few days.  She and her husband and two of their kids flew out to Texas for an unexpected visit.  We ate and talked and laughed at his family's house, and it was such a wonderful way to spend a Sunday.  I was reminded that my family is smart and funny and generous and extremely easygoing.  They are also really honest and "authentic," as the French existentialists would say.  I love that about my family.  I love that about me.  I love those qualities in other people, too.

Sure, there are negative aspects to my family's way of life, but in general, we're pretty great together.  Being around them all -- no matter how well I know them -- makes me feel at home with myself and reminds me of the things I value in people who are not related to me:  Confidence!  Intellect!  Informality!  And a healthy appetite!  I could list so much more, but instead I'll end this post by saying I'm proud to be a Snow and a Schmitt.  I love, love, love to be around my crazy, loud, and opinionated families.  What a treat it was to spend the evening getting to know them better.

Thing I'm thankful for: that cheesy rice casserole thing I ate for dinner

Thursday, February 07, 2013

My Celebrity Friends

Nearly seven years ago, I quit keeping up with Hollywood cold turkey.  In the last couple of years, however, my avoidance has lessened.  It started with glancing at magazine covers while waiting in line at the grocery store, and lately, it has turned into me reading celebrity gossip on  I'm not proud of it.  In fact, I think keeping up with celebrity gossip is a ridiculous hobby and a bad habit.  But there's one celebrity-related thing that I think is okay: Watching or reading interviews.  My most favorite activity of all-time is to learn about people -- famous or not.  Celebrity interviews just happen to be more accessible sometimes.  I mean, when I have some time to kill online, it's just so easy to browse to an Inside the Actors Studio* episode and get lost in the life of someone interesting.

Killing time becomes especially important to me when I'm exercising because let's face it:  I'm not crazy about running.  I've never gotten that "runner's high" that seemingly everyone in the world except me has experienced.  So when I saw my gym's copy of Good Housekeeping with Drew Barrymore on the cover, I was excited to mix up my workout a bit.  Instead of running, I briskly walked on the treadmill while reading.

And I discovered something:  I think I would be good friends with Drew Barrymore, if I knew her.  I really do.  This got me thinking:  What other celebrities or famous people do I honestly think I would be friends with?**  Here's who:
I would want to be friends with these people, but probably wouldn't because for some reason, they seem a bit intimidating to me:
Of course, there are famous people I think I would clash with big-time, but it's probably not nice to make a list of them.  So I won't.

What about you, readers?  Is there a famous person you think you would get along swimmingly with?

*I think James Lipton has one of the best jobs in the world; I'm not even kidding.
**While writing this post, I vaguely remembered writing something similar years ago.  Sure enough, I did:  I think We Could Be Friends.

Thing I'm thankful for: apples dipped in a cream cheese/brown sugar mixture

Monday, February 04, 2013

The Prodigal Son

I'm taking an Institute class on parables this semester, and last week, we discussed The Prodigal Son (Luke 15:11-32).  This particular parable has often frustrated me -- mostly in regard to the elder son.  That is, regular church-goin' folk typically identify with the elder son, and I think, in an effort to analyze him, people tend to find too much fault.  Yes, he did not understand why his brother, who was so careless with his inheritance, received such a homecoming, and yes, he was angry.  But the bottom line is that he was a righteous son and did all that his father asked of him.  The result?  Instead of scolding him and chastising him for a natural reaction and honest misunderstanding, his father took an opportunity to express his love, saying, "Son, though art ever with me, and all that I have is thine."  This reaction leads me to believe that the elder son is not lost -- far from it; he is promised the greatest of blessings.

And yet.  In my Institute class and elsewhere, I find that many people say things like, "Oh, it wasn't just the prodigal son who was lost and then found; the elder son was lost, too -- lost to a higher law."  But he wasn't lost!  He wasn't lost!  And I think it's problematic to think this, for two reasons:
  1. It might seem that people who are so obedient are also not empathetic or generous or that they are somehow in a worse spot, for one honest misunderstanding.
  2. It very nearly ignores all of the righteous behavior that was exhibited before the misunderstanding.
I guess what I'm saying is . . .  I think contemporary interpretation of this parable -- specifically from an LDS perspective -- is too harsh on the part of the elder son.  Here, listen to what President Kimball had to say about it in The Miracle of Forgiveness (chapter 20):*
When I was a child in Sunday School my teacher impressed upon me the contemptibility of the older son in his anger and complaining, while she immortalized the adulterous prodigal who was presumed to have expressed repentance. But let no reader compare grumbling and peevishness with the degrading sins of immorality and consorting with harlots in riotous living. John mentioned, "There is a sin unto death," and the younger son's transgressions might approach that terrifying condition if he did not repent and turn from his evil course. Elder Talmage comments as follows upon the sins of the two brothers:

"We are not justified in extolling the virtue of repentance on the part of the prodigal above the faithful, plodding service of his brother, who had remained at home, true to the duties required of him. The devoted son was the heir; the father did not disparage his worth, nor deny his desserts. His displeasure over the rejoicing incident to the return of his wayward brother was an exhibition of illiberality and narrowness; but of the two brothers the elder was the more faithful, whatever his minor defects may have been."

[...] Not a word appears in condonation or excuse for the prodigal's sin upon that the Father could not look with the least degree of allowance; but over that sinner's repentance and contrition of soul, God and the household of heaven rejoiced.  [...] There is no justification for the inference that a repentant sinner is to be given precedence over a righteous soul who has resisted sin; were such the way of God, then Christ, the one sinless Man, would be surpassed in the Father's esteem by regenerate offenders. Unqualifiedly offensive as is sin, the sinner is yet precious in the Father's eyes, because of the possibility of his repentance and return to righteousness. The loss of a soul is a very real and a very great loss to God. He is pained and grieved thereby, for it is his will that not one should perish.

That pretty much sums up my thoughts on the matter . . .  What do you think, readers?

*Thanks, Ed, for finding this excerpt for me!  It was so helpful and enlightening!

Thing I'm thankful for: surprise Sunday visits