Tuesday, March 27, 2012

maria: the girl (who wishes she was worthy of being) on fire.

there's something about seeing a highly anticipated movie that leaves me with an intense desire to talk to everyone around me about everything that i'm feeling about it and otherwise. but since the only person i have at my disposal to talk to isn't exactly fluent in english slash is asleep and therefore not really at my disposal at all, i'm going to have to write about it in here instead. go!

i'm sure i've already made it abundantly clear, either through my facebook activity which you're all subject to or, heaven forbid, you've had the misfortune of actually talking with me from the time i saw this movie until the time that you're actually reading this, i finally saw the hunger games.
let the dissecting begin:
i think i was afraid to let myself like this movie in the beginning. i'd heard enough cautionary reviews from people i trusted that it was like i was almost prepping myself for the worst. consequently, i found myself extremely frustrated for the first twenty minutes, and this is why. i'd been warned about the amount of camera shake they used and so i thought in my readied state i'd be able to look past it. nope. even being prepped for it i found it extremely distracting. and that's saying something. i understand why it was used, most of the movie is shot as if it was reality tv, but the camera shake combined with the overuse of panning-out-of-focus-shots left me bugged and feeling a little out of focus myself. along those same lines, i felt like all of the scene were cut a few seconds too short. i didn't get to absorb or actually take in a scene fully before it cut away. this left me frustrated and distracted enough that i had even less time to take in the next scene before it too, was prematurely cut away. it almost felt as if the director had no faith in his work and therefore wanted all the scenes to cut away before the viewer noticed his flaws. you'd think with such elaborate costumes from the capitol especially, one would want to let the viewer bask in their hard work. guess not. (i'm also now realizing that maybe someone had the brilliant idea that in order to make the film shorter they'd just shave off a few seconds from every scene. and to that, i suggest that whomever's head that idea pooped out of is forced to consume cups of straight sugar, to cut their concentration level in half of course, and then sit and watch a pbs documentary where all the scenes are annoyingly cut a few seconds too short. not so easy to follow the story line now, is it, idea-man? didn't think so.)
while we're still bashing the filmography, the CG seemed really... low budget. you'd think with a movie this hyped they'd have more high quality equipment to work with.

story wise, i was fine with how they adapted the story line. the relationships between... well basically everyone felt completely glossed over though and so i had a hard time buying into every character's actions.

my favorite part of the movie was easily my favorite part of the book as well. i loved the delicate way the balance between the callous and desensitized way the people in the capitol felt towards the hunger games in contrast with the heart wrenching dread for the games and yet inevitable conceit to the capitol's wishes the districts experienced.when effie is drawing the names for the district 12 tributes and she congratulates katniss and asks everyone to congratulate her as well she is met with silence. there are multiple examples of this sort of misplaced excitement that a capitol member feels towards the games or towards a killing while the audience and the district citizens are clearly distraught and disgusted. i can't help but find this juxtaposition of the two different frames of mind to be so disturbing that it becomes enchanting.

well, it's now 2 AM so i do believe that is enough rambling for tonight.

and, i'm sorry, but now that we've all seen peeta and gale in "real life", can we all agree that peeta is a girl, in looks and in action, and gale is actually a man and just plain more attractive and therefore clearly the winner? yes? thank you.

with all this said, i still kind of want to be the girl on fire. or at least learn how to wield a bow like that. hot dang!

Friday, March 23, 2012

venice the novel: heading north to go south and other delightful experiences.

so. i have a lot of stories to tell you guys, but, i'm beyond tired (as the story always goes.). so lets see if i can get this all written before my brain turns to mush. ready? go.

the day of our italy trip i took a three hour nap in preparation for the 6 1/2 hour night train i knew i had ahead of me. this turned out to be bad decision number one. because of that nap i wasn't able to sleep on the train. at. all. lack of sleep combined with how unnaturally hot our cabin was combined with the two dudes who, every time i looked at them while they were awake, were staring at me, made for a very... interesting, and not in the good way, train ride.

we arrived at our destination in vincenza at 5 AM, and had a little bit of time to kill before 6 when my aunt was coming to retrieve us. so we were chillin in the... the room with all the chairs... area. we'd been sitting for maybe five minutes and i had just settled back into my grumpy/tired pants when an interesting african guy came over and asked us for change for 10 euro so he could buy coffee. i put on my best "go away" face and told him no. but instead of seeing how much i did not want to be alive at the moment, let alone talk to him, all he heard was my american accent. he promptly sat down between me and marissa and started talking.  his topics of choice included, but were not limited to: asking where i was from, my name (which he proceeded to laugh at since i was american with a supposedly italian name), if i had a facebook, if i'd add him on facebook, how long i was planning on staying in Vincenza,  if i'd ever been to Amsterdam, if i would like to join him in Amsterdam, if i wanted him to buy me a coffee, if i was willing to meet up with him that night to go to a club. he also felt the need to tell me, multiple times, that i had beautiful eyes, that i wasn't like most italian girls, even though he thought i was italian at first, and that he liked my shoes. he also told me his name was, and i'm not even kidding, Freedom Rasta. i swear it. after about 20 minutes of painfully one sided conversation i finally pretended our ride was here and so we got up and left to go stand outside and wait. he then promptly followed us outside and offered me a smoke and luckily our ride arrived just in time so i didn't have to give him an answer. (keep this encounter in mind for a story of similar unwantedness is to come.) i was praying this strange interaction was not to be an omen of how the whole trip was going to be.
luckily it wasn't... entirely.

it took us ten minutes to get to my aunts house which, turns out is beyond amazing. she lives in a house connected to an old church built in the 1200's. the house is fantastic, gorgeous, and beyond anything i can ever hope to live in myself. i was planning on taking a million pictures of it while we were there but exhaustion and traveling got in the way. i suppose i'll just have to go back. pity.

eventually we got some good food in us and around 10:00 we found ourselves on a train to go spend the day in venice. only, it wasn't a train on it's way to venice. turns out it was a train coming from venice, to milan. yes folks, that is the wrong direction. but it wasn't until we reached the verona train station we realized our mistake which, unfortunately, that's half an hour in the wrong direction. double unfortunately, we didn't realize we should get off and switch trains util we'd already pulled out of verona. it took another hour to reach the next train station, the name of which i still don't remember, where we smartly hopped off the train to find the next train back to venice. when was the next train leaving said unnamed town, you ask? in two hours. so we walked from the train station to the center of town, which also happened to be a shoreline of a massive lake, and we bought some gilato, took pictures, and chased pigeons. i suppose if we had to be stranded in a random town for two hours, the place we ended up wasn't so bad.

you can't read it but it says maria on that lighthouse. just like everything else over here. 

so after the four and a half hours it took us to travel a 30 minute distance, (wow this is getting long, honestly i'm amazed you're still reading. shall we continue? we shall.) we ended up in venice and oh my lanta was it worth it. guys, lets all go to venice, ok? because, get this, they don't have streets, but instead have canals. yes. canals. those gondola dudes in the striped shirts that you have probably seen on tv or some chick flick movie? they're real. and it turns out they're also really expensive, unless you're simply taking pictures of them like a poor college student, like i was.

we wandered around venice for four hours, watching random groups of tourists pay for a bag of what i'm going to assume was full of bread crumbs, in order to bribe disease ridden rats with wings to land on them and eat out of their hands. yes, there were tons of groups of people doing this. and yes, i got pictures.

the pigeon trainer himself. he came to venice without diseases, and  he'll be darned if he leaves without 'em. 

remember when i told you to remember that creepy man story from before? well i was planning on telling you another story that had to do with that, but i'm getting tired, it's getting late and this is getting really long, so i'll give you the condensed version.

so we were traversing the back-ish alley ways towards the train station to end our tragically magical day in venice when these two dudes started walking behind us. they heard us talking in english and so they asked, in their thick accents, if we were headed towards the train station too. i replied accordingly so they said they were just going to follow us. but they didn't just follow us. instead one of them insisted on asking me questions from like 15 feet behind me... which was awkward and difficult to hear. and here is a list of questions he was asking me: where are you guys from? (utah) oh, i'm from there too! (oh yeah? because you totally sound like it) ha, no. i am from california though *wink* (really.) yep. *wink wink* so you guys ever been to turkey? (nope.) ah, too bad. you want to go!? (nope.) do you have plans tonight? (siiiiigh)

it continued like that until we took a purposely wrong turn and lost them. i must say italy, for all your enticing ruins, your men kind of come off as desperate scum bags.

our day ended similar to the way it began. i bought a massive white dessert thing that ended up being nothing more than a glob of meringue bigger than my face, which after one bite, neither me nor marissa wanted it.

until next time venice, you were truly... something else.

Wednesday, March 14, 2012

spring is (trying to be) here!!

it was warm today for the first time in... forever. want to know how my body reacted? instant hives. good to know i've still got it.

despite my spontaneous reaction of hival proportions, today was a gorgeous day. marissa and i ate lunch at this park, next to a lake full of half confused ducks (this guy was attempting to feed them by throwing perfectly good bread into the water near where they were sitting and they swam away in fear. ducks. are. retarded. speaking of how retarded ducks are, we also reached the hypothesis that while pigeons are the rats of the birds, ducks are definitely like that kid from elementary who would eat gum off the bottom of desks and sucks on the collar of his shirt and jump around like a frog during recess. you know the type of kid i'm talking about. but i digress...). the sun was out, the snow was melted, the tulips are bravely poking their little heads out of the still wet flower beds, and the lunch we'd purchased from the nearby spar was one of the best sandwiches/massive chocolate covered creme puff things i've had in a while (or i was just extremely hungry. either answers are valid).

after we were done eating we sat there in glutton-ed contentment until this middle eastern looking dude sat on the bench nearest us and started blasting "music" of equally middle eastern quality.  i'm usually one of those people who can ignore rude and obnoxious people and their behavior but this time was different. i'd waited so long for this perfect sunny day and from that point forward i couldn't completely enjoy it because of his stupid music. /rant.

 guys. innsbruck is so pretty. i walk out my door everyday to stand at the bus stop facing the alps (which i live in the middle of), and just remind myself of how lucky i am to be here. i cannot wait until everything comes back to life and turns green and warm and friendly and i'll feel compelled again to never leave my house without my camera.

school update: it's only week two and i'm already ready to go back to running around europe, and reading nonsense novels and skyping until 4 am every night. i'm so bad at being a productive human being.

oh, and don't worry, i saved the best news for last! guys. i bought tickets to ireland tonight! i am so excited. for as long as i can remember i've had this inner pull to find a way to go to ireland, and it's finally happening. we're going to be there from april 2nd to the 8th, hopefully by then everything will be fully green. i'll make sure to take pictures of every castle i encounter while there.

everything is beautiful and nothing hurts :)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

zurich: the tale of being locked out at midnight.

on our way home aboard the train yesterday i actually got a little excited thinking about how i could write a nice short entry about our pleasant, simple, fun, yet uncomplicated time we had in zurich as opposed to the longer entries i find myself writing for our previous adventures.
and then i came home to a locked door, no roommate, and a missing key.

and that's when i realized this post was going to be a lot longer than anticipated.

first things first: zurich is lovely, albeit expensive. a "cheap" lunch was about 9 swiss franks, which roughly translates into $9.70. we got there around 11 AM and spent the day walking from church to church and then around the river and the lake. we climbed the 186 steps to the top of the grossmunster church's tower and enjoyed the unobstructed view of the city. one of zurich's (or i guess a lot of cities in europe do this) most charming feature was the beautiful "drinking" fountains they have all around town, in squares and parks, for people to drink out of. when marissa first told me they were meant to be drank (drunk... drinked?) from i didn't believe her, and then we watched quite a few locals do it. after some intense laughter and a lot of coaxing she managed to get a picture of me drinking from one.

all in all, the weather was warm, the skies were clear, and the buildings might as well have come straight out of a fairy tale. our last purchase was spending 28 franks on the best pastries i've had in a long time, which we ate on the 3 1/2 hour train ride home. but, within the first hour my stomach was already completely regretting spending more than 5 franks on pastries. i was tempted to sleep it off but i refrained because i wanted to go to bed early and consequently wake up early the next morning.

we arrived in innsbruck at about 10:10, tired but happy. but all that changed at about 10:40 when i found myself standing in front of my apartment door dumping the contents of my purse out our welcome mat in search of my keys. which were no where to be found. after a few unfruitful phone calls in search of help i managed to run into two nice girls, one of whom spoke english. i explained my situation to her and asked if she knew how to get a hold of someone who could unlock my door. we spent the next half an hour searching three floors of the building with no result. we eventually ran into some people in the 4th floor kitchen. i explained my problem and was then pawned off from the two nice girls (who, i feel it is worth mentioning, offered to let me stay with them if i didn't find a way into my apartment.) to a very tall, very... thick indian guy. he took me to the third floor to knock on the door of the janitor's house, who apparently didn't feel it necessary to answer.

after twenty minutes and a few more phone calls later i ended up in the car of the brother of a friend, on my way to his and his wife's apartment to sleep on their couch. once we arrived it was clear i had interrupted their alone time, as their baby had just fallen asleep, but they were nothing less than sweet, kind and helpful in spite of my intrusion.

by 1:30 i was finally able to sleep.

i awoke at 8:30 the next morning, to an empty apartment (the family i was staying with had gone to salzburg for a meeting and left me their keys to lock up the place when i was ready to leave, which i find extraordinary, seeing as how the whole reason i was with them was because i couldn't keep track of a set of keys in the first place, but i digress). after a brisk walk and a few different bus routes i found myself in front of the janitor's door again. this time he answered.11 hours after the initial discovery of being locked out i was once again safe inside my little dorm.

i never thought the sight of ikea furniture could be so comforting.

lets end this post on a good note: here are some pictures of just how beautiful zurich is.

also, i have my post for rome half-ish written. i shall finish it... next week. promise. (because i know you're all on the edge of your seats, waiting impatiently. ooh maria, you and your self flattery.)

Monday, March 5, 2012

my second, first day of school.

5 months of being free from thinking critically, not having to manage my time wisely, or worry about being coherent at 8 AM, has sadly come to an end. school officially started today. even though i am thoroughly exhausted, which is partially due to it being 1 AM (my poor roommate, whom by the way has gone to sleep and i just so happen to have the loudest keyboard ever so i'm going to make this uncharacteristically short) and partially to me not being able to complete a few of those tasks, namely the coherent one, i am making myself write this now because i know if i wait it'll never happen (just like my blog post i have outlined from my rome trip... which is still unwritten.).

alright here is my list of things from my first day of school:

  • my intro to american studies class is taught by the ghost of steve jobs. no joke. he's got the black turtle neck, glasses, and strange jeans down to a "t". 
  • during the lecture people randomly got up and left, like a lot. and they weren't subtle about it either. every time someone left there was definitely a distraction. 
  • we mentioned religion more than i thought possible in one class period, and  then i realized there isn't the separation of church and state over here. it's still weird though.
  • after the lecture ended all the students started simultaneously knocking on their desks. it took me a good 10-15 seconds to realize what was going on.
  • i totally scored points with pseudo-steve jobs by telling him i was an english foreign exchange student. for reasons unknown the professors here are almost enamored with students from america.

because my first two hours of human interaction were completely in english i think i upset the german to english ratio of language in my life, and therefore i think i made the foreign exchange student gods mad at me. after my two hour class i managed to encounter all of the non-english speakers working at every store i visited for the rest of the day. i'm getting really good at talking slow and doing a lot of pointing.

and for my closing paragraph i'll tell you something i probably shouldn't admit, but it's late and i don't really care. so, i like to play this game where i look at someone and try to tell what language they speak or where they're from. i realize how superficial this is, not to mention insanely inaccurate, however i just can't help myself. it was a lot more fun to while traveling.

speaking of traveling, i edited a few more pictures tonight. so i'm just going to leave this here...