Tuesday, October 24, 2006

Tell me a story

Here are three events from my recent history.

1. Lake Wobegan Days with Garrison Keillor: Last Thursday night, I had the opportunity to sit and enjoy an evening of good old fashioned storytelling. Something about Garrison Keillor's voice is so incredibly calming, and his stories make me long for a life apart from an urban existence. In all honesty, even though Garrison Keillor is from Minnesota, he makes me homesick for the South. Perhaps it is because in his stories about old fashioned small town life, I miss the eccentricities and nuances of really knowing a place as home. I used to think myself a rather good story teller. Now, in recent years, I have felt that my life consists of exploring other people's stories - rather at work, or through reading books, and I have stopped having interesting stories to share with others (except for relaying stories that are about other people). I remember, my first college boyfriend liked me in part because I had, "good stories" about my life growing up. Granted, it was an anomoly to be a BYU student who was born when your parents lived in a Mississippi trailer park. I want to have good stories again.

2. Marie Antoinette: the film by Sophia Coppola: I must admit, I was sorely disappointed. Perhaps I was too hyped up about it, and excited for it, and I ruined it by my excessive reading of history before viewing the movie. I appreciated the attempt to render more human Marie Antoinette, but there were certain historical inaccuracies that made me a little crazy. It was a beautiful film, but by the time Coppola doctored a painting to act as if Marie Antoinette only gave birth to three children instead of four, I just was upset. I mean, I know we only have two hours for a movie generally, but I just can't take it when filmmakers just change simple things about history so they can streamline their story. I know that she was trying to tell as much of the story as she could in a short time, nonetheless, it just does a disservice to the person's story. Through parts of the movie, I was thinking to myself, if Marie was here watching this movie, would she even recognize herself at all?

3. Al Gore: A Man on a Mission: Monday night, Al Gore made a stop at Key Arena to make his global warming presentation to an incredibly friendly audience. Having still not seen "An Inconvenient Truth", I found out that there is even more to be paranoid about with regard to the current environmental state of our globe, than I knew previously.
When my sisters and I were much younger, we held in our possession one of those Fisher Price Microphones that you can hear yourself on the radio on. We would always make believe that we were doing radio shows. In between spinning our favorite tunes at the time, we would engage in commentary and have "guests" to our radio show to inform our audience about important issues. One such issue, was Arbor Day (I blame my mom's tuning into NPR during her mom as taxi driver hours for our ability to come up with such things to discuss on our "radio" show). Melissa played chairperson to the Arbor Day Foundation and educated our listeners on the importance of planting trees. It is amazing that an eight year old has a better understanding of science than the political leaders who control issues of environmental policy today. And it turns out that eight year old Melissa was exactly right.
I am constantly baffled why the current administration has declared war on science. I am also contantly baffled that so many people can care so little that their children potentially could grow up in a world that is vastly different from the one that we live in, even now. The evidence is in and global warming is a real thing. It is not natural. In my religous faith, the imagery of the world being "cleansed by fire" keeps coming to mind as a precursor to the Second Coming, and I can't help but to now this is because of what we ourselves have done to the world in which we live.
Al Gore was incredibly charismatic and interesting. In his slide show he tried to link just about every environmental calamity to global warming in some way. It was pretty persuasive. I mean, I have done some thinking about environmental issues, particularly issues of wilderness and water use, but now I just really think this should be one of the defining policy positions of our time. Right now, the people of the state of Washington are voting on a proposition to require utilities that do business in the state to utilize renewable sources as a certain percentage of their overall energy.
Sidenote: I still have an issue with hydroelectric dams being considered a "renewable" energy source. The fact is dams have life expectencies and are not a permanent power source. They silt up and can't be used. They do cause significant ecological harm in many cases as well. It is still this intense hatred of the Glen Canyon Dam that stops me short of being able to support the notion of dams as part of the answer.

An interesting few days...

Tuesday, October 17, 2006

I Dream of Idi Amin

My junior year of college, I lived with my older sister Sarah, and two other members of the BYU Swim Team. The week that they were out of town for their WAC Championship Meet, I happened to be involved in writing a 30 page paper for my Ethics in International Affairs class, on the war between Tanzania and Uganda, that led to the downfall of the dictator, Idi Amin. My focus in the paper was based on answering the question whether or not it had been a just war from the Tanzanian perspective, using Walzer' Just War Theory. This paper was an obsession of mine. I checked out every known book in the Intermountain West, regarding Idi Amin. I stayed up late reading these books, falling asleep in the middle of passages regarding speculation of severed heads in Amin's refrigerator. As a direct result of this reading, I would experience terrible nightmares with Idi and his henchmen chasing me or torturing me. I would wake up on the couch in my empty living room, terrified that Idi Amin was lurking somewhere close, ready to attack me for disparaging his regime in my paper. In actually, he was far away, living a comfortable life in exile in Saudi Arabia. With time, the completion of the assignment, and the return of my roommates, the fears subsided.

Recently, I read in a film magazine that the director of the new film, "The Last King of Scotland," also would have nightmares about Idi Amin while working on the film. Amin is the stuff of nightmares, but my interest in seeing the new film outweighed my concern that my nightmares would resume. Saturday, I walked to the theater by my house and watched the movie. Forrest Whittaker was incredibly convincing as Idi Amin, because when I returned to my dark, empty apartment, and fell asleep on my couch, I was revisited with nightmares of Idi Amin. Unfortunately this time, I do not have any roommates coming home, so I still have been having these dreams. Idi is now dead - he died in 2003, but I have a feeling his memory still causes thousands of nightmares around the world.

Wednesday, October 11, 2006

To the Mouse in Charge

Dear Mickey,
I wanted to take a moment and thank you for your hospitality on my recent trip to Disney World. My family and I had a wonderful time. I know that Disneyland claims to be "The Happiest Place on Earth," but after visiting Disney World again, I think you should rethink that title. After all, how can Disneyland be the Happiest Place on Earth, when it is Disney World that has all of the attractive, friendly Scandinavians working at the Norway attracting at the World Showcase in Epcot? I realize that Disney World, is "The Place Where Dreams Come True". I know that my dream came true of always wishing I could see the Yeti. Sure enough, after visiting the Expedition Everest ride in The Animal Kingdom, now I can say that dream has come true.
May I offer a few friendly suggestions? First, bring back the original Florida Citrus Swirl. Substituting that orange ice cream for the orange juice slush that the swirl used to contain is just no fair trade. It was one of the most delicious treats about Disney World, and it has been changed beyond recognition. Please remedy that.
Second, I noticed that I saw plenty of characters that I, who have not watched the Disney Channel in many years, could not recognize. I think that you should instead focus on making sure there are ample character appearances by the old standards - yourself, Minnie, Donald, Pluto, etc. I understand your continued need to promote your post-Lion King empire, but maybe you could throw us older folks a few bones, to remind us of our childhood days. Here are some suggestions from some of my favorite old school Disney Movies:
The Gnome Mobile: I think this ride sells itself. I mean, the song in the movie describes perfectly what this ride should be - "The Gnome Mobile, The Gnome Mobile, Jaunting Along in the Gnome Mobile..." There are alot of things to do in Disney World - You can go bouncing on the Winnie the Pooh Ride, "Soarin" in Epcot, "Splashin' at Splash Mountain, but there is no "jaunting" to be had anywhere. This is why I think that this ride would be such a great addition. Not to mention the fact that I am sure that this attraction would appeal to all of those British tourists in their short shorts and soccer jerseys.
Darby O'Gill and The Little People: How about an attraction about leprechauns and the banshee? I also think this could be a hot ticket item - go looking for your pot of gold, but watch out for the banshee!
Summer Magic: I am thinking this attraction could appeal to grown ups tired of walking around all day - a big front porch, with swings for everyone, and then a Burl Ives impersonator singing. I am relaxed just thinking about it!

Those are just some of my suggestions for new attractions, Mickey. Then, maybe even more of my dreams could come true at Disney World.

But here is another word of an issue that I think is very important to discuss. Right now, I know you are really big into pushing this whole Disney Princess thing. The little girls who had their Princess makeovers were everywhere. I couldn't count the number of Cinderella gowns. I understand wanting to allow each girl to feel special, I am all for that. I wanted to be a princess when I was a child. I had the rhinestone tiara and everything. But at some point in time, girls go from being princesses from having to learn the hard lesson that sometimes, the handsome prince has faults too. Or that you as the princess can't make the handsome prince as happy as you thought you could. At some point in time Mickey, these little girls need more realistic role models. By the way - to that end, you need to have a word with Belle. I heard her in the Magic Kingdom during a show talking about how Gaston could be "positively primeval." She needs a dictionary ASAP so she stops using vocabulary words incorrectly. She was using it in the context of "he is so evil" not in the context of "pertaining to the first age or ages of the world." These princesses need to show that education is important. Otherwise, you could have that kid I saw playing with the Chairman Mao puppet in Epcot come over and teach these princesses a lesson. How does that sound? Oh, and by the way, when did you start selling Chairman Mao puppets at Epcot?

Well, I think that I have given you enough things to think about in this letter. Thanks for the great time with my family, and plenty of new memories. Thank you for your emphasis on conservation, that I saw all throughout the Animal Kingdom. Also, thank you for your emphasis on harmony between nations, that I saw at Epcot. I am nominating you for the Nobel Peace Prize, so you know. I am sure that I will be seeing you again sometime in the future. In the meantime, I think I have one dream that I want to talk to you about and see if maybe you can help me in the way of making it come true. . .

Your Friend,
Leslie

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

How Old Am I?

Last Friday evening, I decided to buy last minute concert tickets to an artist whom I have wanted to see for quite some time . . . Paul Simon. I have so many memories, dating back to childhood, regarding Paul Simon. After all, I first learned what a "whore" was from signing along to my mother playing "The Boxer" on her guitar. So on Friday night, I piled into the Key Arena with the crowd of graying Baby Boomers, to sing along to such hits as, "Me and Julio Down by the Schoolyard." What was so particularly great about the Paul Simon concert is that practically every song had some memory or person associated with it. "Me and Julio" for example - that just reminds me of my sister, Melissa. Just a few highlights -

"You Can Call Me Al" - Of course this song reminds me of Chevy Chase, who was funny, back in the day. But what this song also reminds me of is singing along with my sisters to this song, in our Wood Paneled Buick station wagon, while being shuttled between school, swim practice, and dance lessons by my mom. We would change the words to "You can call me Alf." We really liked that show back in the 80s.

"The Only Living Boy in New York" - This song reminds me of being in New York, sitting in the Jet Blue Terminal in JFK Airport and waiting to take off for trips to Seattle. I just remember sitting in the airport, every time, so tortured about whether I should stay in New York or move to Seattle.

"The Boxer" - see above. I loved those nights as a kid singing with my mom's guitar.

"The Boy in the Bubble" - This song is responsible for my yahoo email address - thegirlinthebubble. I just thought it was particularly appropriate when I was living in Provo, UT, and I kept imaging my life in some more exciting destination somewhere else.

"Diamonds on the Soles of Her Shoes" - the beginning of this song just reminds me of being in Africa.

"Father and Daughter" - I love this song so much. It always makes me cry because it makes me feel good that after all of the years of turmoil with my dad, we have such a good relationship now. I always think that if I ever get married, I would like to dance with my dad to this song at my wedding reception.

"Graceland" - Summer 2003 - the worst summer of my life. I had just finished law school, was living at home with my parents, and I was impossible to get along with. I was in the worst depressive funk that I ever experienced in my entire life, based on my ridiculous break-up that consumed my life, and the only thing that I had to do was study for the New York Bar Exam. After I finished the Bar Exam, before I moved to New York, I took myself on a road trip over through New Orleans, and up the Mississippi Delta, with Graceland in mind, and in my CD player. It was the perfect trip and rehabilitated what had otherwise been a disastrous summer. "I may be obliged to defend every love and every ending, or maybe there's no obligations now." With that, everything in the past was done. I was moving on.

I also have to say this about Paul Simon - he is 65 years old and played a monster show including three encores. That is much better than these 20 something rockers today. All in all, an evening well spent.

This activity as well as the slate of my upcoming activities makes me feel quite aged. I am going to a taping of "A Prairie Home Companion," and to hear Al Gore speak, later in October. I feel so middle aged.

Or maybe not . . . I am going to Disney World this weekend!

So maybe it is just my own age group that I cannot relate to.