Friday, June 21, 2013

2013 | Summer Bucket List


Saturday, June 15, 2013

The Good Old Days... Maybe

This past week, I've been increasing hit by bouts of nostalgia. Not the normal kind you'd expect from someone who just graduated high school, but weird longings for random events. For instance, I was looking through my photo roll on my phone a few days ago and found some pictures from my trip to Universal Studios in Florida a few months ago. Ever since I saw those pictures again, I have felt this strong urge to pack a suitcase and travel to The Wizarding World of Harry Potter. I look at the photos and all I want to do is walk through Diagon Alley and sit in front of Hogwarts and drink Pumpkin Juice and ride a Hippogriff again.

On a more regular basis, nostalgia will hit me when I rewatch a movie that I used to watch constantly. Monsters Inc. was my absolute favourite movie when I was seven, and a few weeks ago I watched it again in honour of the upcoming sequel. I remembered every single line and laughed at all the same jokes, plus I understood the adult humour that completely went over my head as a child. That movie represents a section of my childhood that I probably wouldn't remember as well otherwise.

But the biggest source of nostalgia for me is music. I am one of those people who never leaves the house without my iPod. There are certain bands and even complete genres of music that I only listen to during certain seasons of the year. Because of this, I often go through a sort of "journey through my past" whenever I hear a song that reminds me of a certain time in my life. This occurred a few days ago when I listened to a few songs from Ellie Goulding's Halcyon album released last fall. I listened to that album every single day for two months driving to and from my community college campus, and to this day, every time I listen to it, I visualize spicy chai lattes and cold, cloudy weather and school and long car drives


But nostalgia, as nice as it is sometimes, can be tricky. Usually when I'm reminiscing about the past, I don't remember the not-so-good details. While Ellie Goulding may remind me of my favourite parts of last fall, her music rarely brings back memories of how challenging last fall was for me while I was trying to juggle school and a job. And of course, we all know what it's like to look back on our childhoods - we didn't realize how easy we had it until it was gone. We as humans have always had a problem with glamorizing or mis-remembering the past, sometimes with not-so-great results. So while it's fun to remember the past and look back fondly on old memories, I also have to remind myself to learn from the negative aspects of my past.


"There's a certain nostalgia and romance in a place you left behind." - David Guterson

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Saturday, June 1, 2013

The Boy in the Striped Pajamas

Although I'd heard of this story ever since the movie came out in 2008, I had never read it or watched the film, so on Wednesday I checked it out from the library. The book, written by John Boyne, is about the friendship between a German boy named Bruno and a Jewish boy named Shmuel (who lives across the fence in a concentration camp) and the unexpected consequence of their friendship. In the book, Bruno is not very aware of the global situation at that time period nor the German prejudice toward Jews even though he is the son of an important Nazi Commandant. He befriends Shmuel with no thought to the danger that could arise or the complications of their relationship. I found the story very engaging, although the ending was tragic (I won't give away what happens, but suffice it to say that I came very close to crying). In a way it was sweet that Bruno and Shmuel were together to the end, but the actual events that brought about the ending were tragic.

Thursday night after work, I decided to watch the movie version. I'm always a little skeptical of book adaptions, but this one was rather well done. They changed the order of a few events, but otherwise it was a decent adaption of the storyline. The thing that really differed, though, was the knowledge of the characters. In the movie, everyone was more aware of what was going on than they were in the book. Bruno's parents knew that he could see the camp from his window, Bruno knew who the Jews were and their significance to Germans, and most importantly, everyone was aware of what happened at the end. In the book, no one notices that Bruno had disappeared and it takes them a year to figure out what happened. In the movie, a few soldiers and his family almost immediately realize he's gone and figure out what has happened soon after it occurred, making the last scene devastating to both them and the audience (I did cry that time).

To me, the movie is much more emotionally moving than the book. The book was written from Bruno's perspective, and so there are things left out because he doesn't understand them. In the movie, the audience is given the full view of things, and, as an older viewer, I was able to completely understand what was going on. I had the same reaction after watching the movie that I have every time I read The Hiding Place by Corrie Ten Boom - the depths to which humanity can sink when unchecked is indescribably horrible. The soldiers in the movie truly believed that Jews were inferior humans, perhaps not even human, and so didn't even blink an eye when a soldier beat up a Jew in front of his children for no reason. 

At the end of the film, Bruno's parents realize that they've made it to the camp too late - Bruno is already gone. His mother immediately breaks down and starts crying and screaming, but his father just stands there, stunned at what has happened. Perhaps that was the first moment he realized the atrocity of his political party, or maybe he was just in shock over what had happened and how his own actions led to it. And perhaps that is the most tragic event in this story - to watch a family get ripped apart by a horrible realization that their actions led to this terrible consequence.


 “. . .only the victims and survivors can truly comprehend the awfulness of that time and place; the rest of us live on the other side of the fence, staring through from our own comfortable place, trying in our own clumsy ways to make sense of it all.” - John Boyne, The Boy in the Striped Pajamas


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