August 25, 2009

30 Second Rants: Inane Opinions

I'm what some would call opinionated. Okay. Fine. I'm incredibly opinionated and have one for just about everything. I know this is unusual, so I don't mind that most people don't have an opinion about every little thing. Or if they have an opinion, they don't necessarily feel the need to share it with everyone.

Here's my rant, though: People who only have opinions about the most pointless and trivial things. Like Facebook, Twitter or whether Seinfeld is a good TV show. I have an account with Twitter and enjoy reading the updates of others immensely. What burns my biscuits is when people who never give a second thought* to genocide in Darfur or health care reform have an opinion about how pointless Twitter is. Maybe Twitter isn't stopping wars or ending world hunger, but what's the harm? If you're going to use your time and brain power to argue about something, why not leave Twitter alone and stand up for something that matters?

*I don't mean they just think genocide is bad or that everyone should have health care, I mean they've actually read about it or have an informed opinion about what should be done to solve these, or any, crises.

August 20, 2009

In West Philadelphia Born and Raised

My paternal grandparents used to live in New Jersey, close enough to Philadelphia that you could see the city's skyline. I don't remember much about visiting them, but I remember a few things. This includes the pretzels, that root beer was available at every restaurant (unlike in the South, although it's becoming more common) and Friendly's restaurant.

One time we spent the week with them and did the touristy things around Philly. Again, I don't remember a whole lot, other than the buildings were tall and the Liberty Bell was small.

Philadelphia, like many large cities, often has a bad rap. I've heard it called Filthydelphia, among other things. But where they're lacking in some areas, Philly makes up for it in murals.

Graffiti is found in cities large and small. During the last several years, artists such as Banksy and Shepard Fairey have taken it mainstream and for many it has become a legitimate form of art.

So Philadelphia went about their problem with graffiti differently than most other large cities. In 1984 they established the Mural Arts Program. Rather than try painting over all the graffiti in the city, they embraced the idea of the city being full of blank canvases. Each year they work with communities all over the city and bring together artists that would have normally just created illegal art. Instead, they "provide opportunities for artists with a variety of skills to work together to create murals."

They now have more than 2,800 murals all over the city. And now we come to the reason I began this post.

One of their newest projects is named "A Love Letter for You." Throughout August, artists will paint rooftops and walls along Market Street from 63rd to 45th. The murals will be seen best from the elevated train.

Each of the murals will be words of love: "words of romance, your thoughts of relationships and your ideas of what love truly is. Comforting or troubling, passionate or past tense, even if it's 'hate to love' or 'love to hate'."

Sometimes I look around at what sort of art is being produced or becoming popular, and I wonder how long it will be before all art becomes easy-to-swallow nuggets of sugar-coated drivel. Then I dig a little deeper and look past what's on TV or the radio and realize that real art is still being made. Whether it's from the musician who will never make it to the radio or the photographer who will only ever be seen by their friends. I find art that took thought and comes from an imagination unhindered by what the world will like. Art that is beautiful even if I don't understand what the artist is saying.

For more information about the Mural Arts Program in Philadelphia, go here. And for info on the love letter project, stop by this blog.

August 15, 2009

The Dynamics of a Two-Pet Household

Sometimes, I look at Cleo (the cat) and feel a little sorry for her. Maddie (the dog) gets most of the attention, while Cleo gets yelled at for pawing at the back door or receives looks of scorn for the cat litter strewn about. Then Cleo tries to walk on my face in the middle of the night, and I wonder if cats are God's way of keeping humans humble, while contemplating how much a steak for Maddie would cost.

Photo credits, counter clockwise from top left: dooce, MarthaK, For Me, For You and Soulemama

August 11, 2009

It's All About the Small Things

The following are things that bring small bursts of satisfaction in life, thus making the world better:

1. Finishing a book. Oh sweet mercy. I just love reading and getting to the point where you've read more of the book than you've not read, and then you've read three quarters. And then you can see the end in sight. And I love when I get to the last page and I have to use a sheet of paper to cover up the rest of the text on the page, so I don't accidentally see the last sentence before I get to it. And then, and then, I read the final sentence, close the book one last time, and it's finished.

2. Wearing new shoes. Don't you just feel more confident in a new pair of shoes? You walk taller and even the shirt you're wearing, the one you've owned for five years, feels newer and brighter. It's like on the first day of school, when you're loaded down with a new backpack, notebooks and pencils, and the all-important new outfit. But the outfit would not be complete without the new pair of shoes. Shoes that are so white they hurt your eyes to look directly at them. Or ballet flats that are still a little stiff, but totally worth the blisters.

3. Getting to your destination faster than Mapquest or Google said you would. This one is certainly silly, but don't you feel like you've accomplished something when it takes less time than Google said it would? It's like you've stuck it to The Man in some small way. Ha! You said 90 minutes and it took me 80! Take that computer-generated directions!

4. Super friendly employees. This is another random one, but I just love going to a restaurant or grocery store and the wait staff or cashier is friendly and talkative and seems to enjoy their job. It's just rare to meet people like that and it makes me wish I were super wealthy so I could give them an enormous tip.

5. Remembering a musician you'd forgotten. There's just so much good music out there (and no, the radio is not playing most of it―so turn it off and start scouring the internet. Start with All Songs Considered on NPR.), so I occasionally completely forget about a musician or group until I randomly see something about them. For example, I completely forgot how much I enjoy Elbow's music until I saw they opened for Coldplay a week or so ago. Or I'll put iTunes on shuffle and suddenly be taken back to college and my love for one of the Bens (Ben Harper, Ben Lee and Ben Kweller). Love it.

6. Great weddings photos. I love weddings and everything about them, but especially the photos. My friends own their own photography business and every once in a while I'll go to their site to see what's new. A couple weeks ago my friends got married and their photographers did an absolutely amazing job. I was blown away by their photos. I just love seeing two people completely in love and their friends and family that have come to celebrate with them. With so much unhappiness and restlessness in the world, it's always nice to take a break and look at unbridled love.

7. Unexpected phone calls from friends. I'm kind of forgetful sometimes about how many great friends I have. This usually happens when I've spent too much time by myself and haven't had enough person-to-person interaction. So whenever I'm feeling this way, it's always a pleasant reminder to receive a phone call from a friend who just wants to see how I'm doing. I should be better about calling people just to talk, but I'm as awkward on the phone as a cat at a AKC dog show.

What about you? What are some of your bits of happiness?

August 7, 2009

30 Second Rants: Not Accepting Gifts or Favors

A new series I'll be featuring is 30 Second Rants. These will be for those opinions that can be explained in a shorter blog entry. You see, I have a lot of opinions, and I'm sure you want to read about all of them.

I know America was built by a can-do attitude, full of independence and all that jazz, but I believe many of us have taken this too far. Why is it that every time someone wants to pick up the dinner bill or just do someone a favor, so many people try to refuse? Is it so wrong just to say "thanks!" and let them do something nice? Exactly when did we let our pride become so bloated that we couldn't accept a simple gesture of friendship?

All I'm saying is that the next time someone wants to buy me a coffee or pay for my dinner or give me a puppy, I'll be happy to say "Thank you! That's so nice of you!" and then return the favor next time.

August 3, 2009

Thoughts from the Road

I drove home from a wedding in Richmond on Saturday night (Congrats Paul and Becca!) and thought I'd share with you some rambling thoughts and ideas I had.

*If I were to open a gas station, I'd do it in either Virginia or South Carolina, really close to the North Carolina border. Then, just a few miles before you get to the gas station I'd have a billboard that said something to the effect of "Fill up your tank before you reach NC and its ridiculously high gas tax!" I'd be filthy rich!

*If I were pulled over for speeding, I wonder if I could convince the officer that I thought the sign for I-85 was another speed limit sign. And when they think I'm lying, I'll become upset because that's what my father always told me and I can't
believe he lied to me!

*Twizzlers are the most perfect late-night driving food. They magically keep me awake.

*The governing body of North Carolina that decides on speed limits should be given a swift hit in the head. Whoever thought it was a good idea to make the speed limit on a major highway 55mph must surely be on crack.

*The trick to determining if the gas station at the next exit is sketchy is to compare it to the restaurants also found on the exit. If it's a lone Burger King or Hardee's, keep driving. If it's a Cracker Barrel or especially a Chick-fil-A, you're golden. However, if it's a Sheetz gas station, then you don't even have to worry about the restaurants.

*By the way, I feel like I'm at an amusement park whenever I go to a Sheetz. There so big! And red! And you can order food right at the gas pump!

*I can't believe I ate that entire bag of Twizzlers.

*The best highways are those that have the huge medians with trees. Then you only have to watch for cops on your side of the highway, rather than both sides. Score!

*Best road trip musicians/songs ever: Nick Drake, Razor (Foo Fighters), The Winner Is (Devotchka), Rosie Thomas, Nickel Creek...who am I missing?

*I listen to a lot of female musicians whose name begins with K. KT Tunstall, Kate Earl, Katie Herzig, Kendall Payne...

Alright, I'm done. Enough random ramblings.