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Friday, August 29, 2014

Proud Mom of a Penguin Baby

His name is Sir Philip Waddlebottom, and he and I are going to be superbestmegafriends!

Some people get married. Some people have babies in their late 20s. And then there's me. And my friend Megan. Grown-up adults who now own penguins. BOO YAH.

My mother finally has the grandpenguin she’s always wanted!

I'd like to introduce the world to my penguin baby, Sir Philip Waddlebottom! He's adorable and I love him so much. He's a 5-year-old Magellanic penguin. So far, it seems as though he’ll be one of those cool guys who go by their last name, because people are refering to him as Waddlebottom already, and welcoming him into their lives. I think he might be the unofficial mascot of my work, too.
Waddlebottom in his little burrow!
He lives on Magdalena Island, near to the city of Punta Arenas in southern Chile. He loves fish, swimming, and long waddles down the beach. My friend Megan's penguin baby is named Sir Stewart Patrick, and his burrow isn't far from Waddlebottom's burrow! Who knows, maybe they're best friends already and go on adorable penguin adventures together!
This is where my beloved Waddlebottom lives!
I get a lot of amusement in thinking about sending out formal birth announcements for Waddlebottom. Like actually going to Walgreens and having his picture and an announcement printed up and physically mailing them to my family and friends.

People already know I love penguins. I’ve certainly made no secret of that! Everyone also knows I’m kind of weird. I don’t think it was surprising to anyone who knows me at all that I went out and adopted an adorable 5 year old penguin. Some people probably wondered why it took me this long!

Even if you aren’t interested in adopting an actual living penguin (and why WOULDN’T you be interested in that?!), check out and see what they are working towards and the conservation efforts they put in. Adopting is not expensive, but if you don’t want a baby penguin or seal or something, you can always just donate to their conservation efforts!

Waddlebottom and I are going to have a wondrous life together. We’ll take walks, and of course go swimming, and he’ll probably love the slide at the playground. I think I’ll put one of those child-leashes on him and take him everywhere with me. If anyone tries to say anything about him, like at a restaurant or bar or something, I will look them straight in the bellybutton and tell them he’s my seeing-eye penguin. Can they truly refute that claim? Probably not easily and without a few phone calls, which would give me plenty of time to finish my meal and head out, or pay for my groceries, or whatever.
Here's Waddlebottom's little burrow-home.
I love penguins. I love my new penguin baby. My mom has already expressed her happiness at being gifted with a new grandpenguin. Who knows, maybe she’s already knitting him a blanket or something. Not that I’ve ever once known my mother to knit anything.

Once, I thought I’d learn to be a knitter. A friend taught me how to knit, and I spent weeks knitting at night while watching TV, and eventually gave my mom a hand-knit 8-foot-long scarf in various colors. It was not the most beautiful thing in the world, but at least I accomplished it! It certainly turned out better than the time I thought I’d become a scarf-wearer, and I made 3 different kinds (pinterest projects, they actually came out pretty well!) and bought like 4 or 5 different colored ones. They have pretty much never been worn. I’m attempting to become one of those girls who wear dresses to work. I bought 2 cute comfy looking dresses online the other day. They should arrive tomorrow, and we’ll find out if that’s going to be a thing. Dresses require leg-shaving, which I don’t really have time for in my 6-minute morning showers before work, so we’ll see!

Anyway, thanks for taking the time to check out Waddlebottom, he and I are very happy together so far, but it’s only been a few days and he’s only 5. We’ll just have to see how it goes when he becomes a surly teenager!

Check out the website to see how you can donate to their conservation efforts of penguin, seabird, seal, or sealions, and even adopt your own! And feel free to gush about how adorable my little penguin baby is!
If Waddlebottom has babies, I hope they look like these fluffy bastards. SO FLUFFY!

Thursday, August 21, 2014

The Giver Movie Gives Me Sadness On The Inside

I am a reader. I love to read, and I’m not afraid to say it! I get teased for reading on my Kindle all the time, and some of my colleagues have begun calling it “kindling.” I don’t know why reading is so crazy! Reading is the BEST!

Escaping into a brand new fantastical story, a world I couldn't have invented that comes alive on the page, new people to meet, places to discover, and things to see.

I know a bunch of other people who are also readers, and one thing we have ALL said at one time or another is: “The book was better! I can’t believe they left out/changed so-and-so in the movie!”

Some books translate really well into movies. A good example of this is White Oleander, The Lion, the Witch, and the Wardrobe, Harry Potter, and the Hunger Games series. I mean, sure, they left out a good chunk of narrative, but all the important parts were included, it was a fun movie, and the main characters stayed pretty true in the transition. All in all, good adaptations that left out some things, but stayed fairly true to the original story.

Then we have The Giver.

I first read Lois Lowry’s The Giver as a kid, then again in middle or high school for required reading, and reread the whole quartet (FYI, there are 4 books in The Giver’s series: The Giver, Gathering Blue, Messenger, and Son) a couple of years ago as an adult.

The thing that resonates with me in Lois Lowry’s coming-of-age saga is that the main character, Jonas, is only 12 and is starting to realize that what he has always known and believed is not how the world really is.

It’s not a true dystopian future story, where something terrible has wiped out most of society, and suddenly there is a controlling government and factions of dissenters. It’s not a love story, and it is not really an action story, though the book does have some action and there was some sort of not-really-explained "ruin" full of war and violence that led to The Community.

I read an article recently that referred to The Giver as a fable, and it’s really a great analogy. The Giver is the story of a possible future reality, in which none of us feel real emotions. We don’t have terrible anger, senseless rage, jealousy, or even love. Those feelings are simply repressed. There are no rebels trying to change the world, people are pretty content and seem happy -- as happy as one can be without knowing the feeling of true happiness.

The Giver is a book that makes you think. The people in the community do not have the freedom to choose, not who they marry, or to even have their own kids. But no one really seems bothered about this inability to make their own decisions. Jonas starts having a few emotions, and then becomes the new Receiver of Memory -- his career, as assigned to him at age 12 in a big ceremony.

When he begins receiving memories from the previous Receiver, Jonas experiences real emotions, sees colors for the first time, and even experiences negative emotions like hunger and suffering -- two more things he has never known.

Let’s try this again: Jonas is 12. These people have no real negative emotions, not about their lives, the rules, each other, or the controlled community in which they live. They do not “love,” since they cannot feel it. They can feel affection and contentment, but the all-out teenage-angst love-infatuation of typical teenage movies is not something you see in this novel. 

In the movie, Jonas is suddenly 16. They give him a love story with his friend Fiona, and completely change his relationship with his best friend Asher, creating conflict and changing Asher’s personality. They even change the relationship with Gabriel! They forced The Giver to become another standard Divergent/Twilight/Hunger Games young adult action movie that have become so popular.

The problem isn't that they moved away from or changed some things from the book, the problem (to me) is that they fundamentally changed major pieces of the story.

In the book, while he does have a couple of friends, Asher and Fiona, they are not a large part of the story, really. He really doesn’t have that much interaction with Fiona, outside of volunteering together, and Asher is his best friend and a serious kid, and not a drone pilot. The book is about Jonas learning what used to be, before “the community” existed, before all earlier memories were erased, before there was no such thing as different races, and no emotions.

The book is a thought-provoking look at what some people may still believe could be a Utopian society, with no war, no choices, no rough or deep emotions, and the coming-of-age story of a 12 year old boy, learning nothing is what it seems (people being “released” and such) and what exists Elsewhere, and from long before the Community.

The movie is a now-standard action movie, a young adult dystopian future story of intrigue, fighting for change, and suddenly a 16 year old main character. In the book, the ending is meant to be ambiguous (though you find out what happened in later books in the series), and in the movie it is, of course, more definitive.

I could not be more disappointed in the movie version of a beloved and interesting novel.

What are your thoughts on movies being made from favorite childhood books? Do you have any examples of great adaptations or really bad ones?