Crystal Cove in Pictures

Blueberry Lemon Ricotta Pancakes at the Beachcomber

The view from our table

Beginning the walk

My mother, on the phone with my brother, bridging two coasts

A map of seaweed

Thanks to Instagram, without which, I can't take pictures worth salt. Considering my proximity to the sea, that's really not worth much at all.


Snow What?

The big movie news (at least in my odd world) is the dual releases of Snow White adaptations happening next year. Universal is shooting one with Kristen Stewart, and Relativity is releasing one with Lily Collins. Take a look at the promotional images:

Obviously the Kristen Stewart version looks cooler, but the problem with it is equally evident - they cast Kristen Stewart. The wicked stepmothers are also an interesting battle of the hotties, Julia Roberts for Relativity and Charlize Theron for Universal. The latter has a bigger budget, but the former (apart from not having casted an angsty mouthbreather in the lead role) has the greatest card in its favor: It's directed by my favorite film genius, Tarsem Singh.

Take a look at a few of the images from The Fall, one of my favorite films of all time. Seriously, if Snow White has any measure of this kind of aesthetic quality, Bella doesn't stand a chance:



Sometimes I write elaborate blog posts only to delete them moments before publishing. It's a good thing, both for you and for me. I was about to wax angry and uneloquent on all the fuss over Amy Winehouse when more tragic things have happened in the last twenty-four hours or so. But the fuss is understandable, and I have reminded myself to be sympathetic in all things. I will try.

The difference lies in our choices. Amy Winehouse is a tragedy, because she is the portrait of Dorian Gray. She is a reminder of what our choices mean, what they look like when they are worn on our skin. A reminder that we are all one ugly decision away from that kind of living hell. When we look at her and read the verse "for the wages of sin is death," we begin to wonder if it's talking about punishment - or inevitable consequences.

Norway is a different kind of tragedy. We are talking about a massacre of innocents. They're both tragedies, and I suppose the former is better suited to speckle my Facebook wall than the latter. Because the former might make me shake my head and sigh and maybe Google some headlines. But the later will make me shut myself in a quiet room and cry.

I knew this before I read the paper this morning. I was in Edinburgh when I read about the man who shot the Amish children, the little girls in their smocks and clean white bonnets, and I really did shut myself in the toilet and sob. I remembered the Amish children on the train from Chicago to Washington D.C. I remembered when the little boy handed his father a bunch of string, and the man coiled it playfully and thoughtlessly through his fingers for over an hour, delighting in that motion with the same simple childlike simplicity of the precious children around him. I remembered how I yearned to be like them, not in my dress or habits, but in my heart. I remembered them as I tried to keep my voice down so that my flatmates wouldn't wonder what was wrong. They would think it odd, because I hadn't lost anyone personally. Yes, odd. But so it is.

Now I think of Norway. I remember the first time I saw a picture of the fjords. I remember the language, and all the incomprehensible lilts and tilts it takes on the tongue. I think of it as an English speaking person, as Tolkien might once have done, viewing it with the awed distance of one who honors the presence of something more ancient and epic than my own patchwork bloodline has ever known. I think of the tongues who once spoke it, who will speak it no more.

I am sad tonight. Can you tell?


Taking Offense

I just read a post over at Publishers Weekly about a book group being vocally offended by a bookseller's reading suggestion. The bookseller, who is also the PW blogger, was baffled by their offense. Not just because they were so loud about their objections - which I might understand; after all, they should have known better than to keep reading if the material was offensive - but that they seemed reluctant to talk about the issue of sexuality.

When I was working on my graduate degree, some of my fellow students invited me to watch a widely acclaimed art house film that was laced with sexually explicit scenes. When it was over, I told them how awful I thought it was, how inappropriate, disturbing and unnecessary it seemed. In turn, they were offended that I hadn't been able to see past my puritanical hang-ups to see the artistic quality of the film.

I have remembered that post-movie conversation with them for years because it baffled me. I have still not been able to figure out why I was so quickly accused of being small-minded just because I believed that some kind of precious human intimacy had been violated on screen. Since when does a moral conviction imply intellectual inferiority? Does maturity mean you ought to relegate your personal convictions to a matter of conversational disagreement? Is it no longer politically correct to take offense? Why on earth is this?

There's a big difference between watching a scene of sexual experimentation or reading about a woman's sexual explorations, and having a conversation about it. I doubt these book group women were offended by the prospect of discussing the book as much as they were offended by the encouragement given to them to read something that they considered to have crossed 'the line'.

Now, they had every right to put the book down and express their opinion silently and graciously - or not at all - without reading another word. And I had every right to walk out of the film so many years ago, though I didn't. If I was small-minded about anything, it was that I cared too much for my friends' good opinion.

I agree that we seem hesitant, as the blogger suggests, to discuss dissenting ideas. I don't think sexuality is one of them. People have been arguing over sexual privacy and sexual freedom since the dawn of human intercourse (double meaning intended). What we continue to avoid addressing is that these two perspectives just don't live well together: those who say it's socially oppressive to take public offense over a personal conviction, and those who say that the more we relegate moral conviction to private opinion, the more we damage whatever it is that makes us human.

We seem to skirt around this distinction, focusing instead on either, a) the smallness of the minds of the conservative, or b) the audacious laxity of the liberal. (It doesn't help that these arguments somehow land themselves on two opposing sides of a political fence.)

If I believe that something is sacred, whether it be sexuality, the office of the church, the unborn, the creative urge of humanity, science, dolphins, whatever, am I not obligated to acknowledge that sanctity before the world? Have we forgotten that a belief and an opinion are two different things - and that if I believe something, I cannot believe it is true only for me, or it is only an opinion (or even an illusion)? And if something - like a moral code, perhaps - is true for everyone, and I find it being ignored or mocked or abused, shouldn't I say something? Wouldn't it be cowardly of me not to?

It certainly wouldn't be small-minded.

I suppose it would just be refreshing, after all, if the side in favor of moral license would just admit that they, too, are offended. But 'taking offense' has become their way of labeling something on our side. It's their way of taking our convictions and demeaning them to the state of a child's tantrum. Interesting wordplay. In the end, it makes real discussion - of the kind the aforementioned blogger is apparently hoping for - well...rather impossible. Not much can be done until we're all, at the very least, speaking the same language.


Summer Reading

I have a lot of wonderful things to read this summer. I'm really excited about it, actually. Even so, my whole summer reading list is pretty much work-related. There are a few books I have sitting on my shelves that I kind of wish I was reading as well (not instead).

I have been meaning to reread this since I first turned the last page.

All you need to read is the first page to know you should read the whole thing.

I freely admit, I want to read this for the cover alone.

It has been too long since I last read anything by O'Connor. She is required reading for life.
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