Mona Lisa Smile

By movies No Comments

What a great movie!  It was a nice break from the cheesy romantic films, the Christmas movies, the action flicks, and the Disney fantasies.  Julia Stiles, Julia Roberts, Kirsten Dunst, and all of the cast give and excellent performance portraying life at Wellesley College in the 1950s.

The movie explores the women’s roles and choices during the period.  The girls seem to want to graduate college only to marry and become housewives.  Julia Roberts’ character, Katherine Watson, a bohemian from California, tries to teach them otherwise – that they can achieve anything because they are the smartest and sharpest women in the country.  She teaches the girls to look at the world through new eyes and realize that marriage and a family aren’t necessarily the ideals for everyone. 

While Dunst’s character struggles to keep up the appearances of her “perfect” marriage, Stiles’ character debates whether to go to law school at Yale or settle down with her boyfriend.  The title, Mona Lisa Smile, ties the underlying themes together – is she smiling because she’s happy, or is it just for show?  Things are not always as they appear.

Here’s an article comparing the issues of women’s roles and choices in the ’50s versus today.

Mona Lisa Song
by Livingston and Evans, recorded January 7, 1958

Mona Lisa, Mona Lisa, men have named you
You’re so like the lady with the mystic smile
Is it only ‘cause you’re lonely they have blamed you
For that Mona Lisa strangeness in your smile

Do you smile to tempt a lover, Mona Lisa
Or is this your way to hide a broken heart
Many dreams have been brought to your doorstep
They just lie there, and they die there
Are you warm, are you real, Mona Lisa
Or just a cold and lonely, lovely work of art


“You can bake your cake and eat it, too.” ~Katherine Watson, Mona Lisa Smile


By books No Comments

Do you ever go back and read those books – the ones that were required in high school that you never wanted to read because someone TOLD you to read them?  The Bell Jar, The Great Gatsby, Catch-22, etc.?

I have been terribly amused by Joseph Heller’s eccentric character, Yossarian, in Catch-22.  I think he ranks right up there with Ignatius J. Reilly from A Confederacy of Dunces (John Kennedy Toole).

Here is one of my favorite passages:

     There was only one catch and that was Catch-22, which specified that a concern for one’s own safety in the face of dangers that were real and immediate was the process of a rational mind. Orr was crazy and could be grounded. All he had to do was ask; and as soon as he did, he would no longer be crazy and would have to fly more missions. Orr would be crazy to fly more missions and sane if he didn’t, but if he was sane he had to fly them. If he flew them he was crazy and didn’t have to; but if he didn’t want to he was sane and had to. Yossarian was moved very deeply by the absolute simplicity of this clause of Catch-22 and let out a respectful whistle.
     “That’s some catch, that Catch-22,” he observed.
     “It’s the best there is,” Doc Daneeka agreed

It only gets better from there… 

     “That’s much better, Mr. Clevinger, even though it is a barefaced lie. Last night in the latrine. Didn’t you whisper that we couldn’t punish you to that other dirty son of a bitch we don’t like? What’s his name?”
     “Yossarian, sir,” Lieutenant Scheisskopf said.
     “Yes, Yossarian. That’s right. Yossarian. Yossarian? Is that his name? Yossarian? What the hell kind of a name is Yossarian?”
     Lieutenant Scheisskopf had the facts at his fingertips. “It’s Yossarian’s name, sir,” he replied.
     “Yes, I suppose it is. Didn’t you whisper to Yossarian that we coudn’t punish you?”
     “Oh, no, sir. I whispered to him that you couldn’t find me guilty-“
     “I may be stupid,” interrupted the colonel, “but the distinction escapes me. I guess I am pretty stupid, because the distinction excapes me.”
     “You’re a windy son of a bitch, aren’t you? Nobody asked you for clarification and you’re giving me clarification. I was making a statement, not asking for clarification. You are a windy son of a bitch, aren’t you?”
     “No, sir.”
     “No, sir? Are you calling me a goddam liar?”
     “Oh, no, sir.”
     “Then you’re a windy son of a bitch, aren’t you?”
     “No, sir.”
     “Are you trying to pick a fight with me?”
     “No, sir.”
     “Are you a windy son of a bitch?”
     “No, sir.”
     “Goddammit, you ARE trying to pick a fight with me. For two stinking cents I’d jump over this big fat table and rip your stinking, cowardly body apart from limb to limb.”

I could keep going – there’s the part where ex-P.F.C. Wintergreen calls Colonel Cargill, says “T.S. Eliot,” and hangs up the phone, leaving a group of colonels and generals confused for days about what it meant.  There’s the part where Major Major darts out the window every time one of his soldiers comes to the door.  And someone keeps signing Irving Washington’s name to official documents. =)

Pros and Cons of Parties

By lists, partying like a rock star No Comments

Work Parties:
Pros – Food, beer, wine, etc.
Cons – you don’t know anyone unless it’s your work party, people talk about computers

Fraternity Parties:
Pros – beer, music, fraternity boys
Cons – fraternity boys, freshman girls

Parties at Bars:
Pros – you can drink whatever you want
Cons – you have to pay for it

Parties at Your Own House:
Pros – you can get totally wasted, and not have to scam a ride anywhere afterwards
Cons – you have to clean – before AND after, you usually have to invite lots of family, you have to buy the food and beer, people might puke in your bathroom, people blame you if it sucks

Outdoor Parties:
Pros – grilled food, pools, it doesn’t matter if you spill stuff, outdoor parties are usually casual and fun and involve fireworks in the summer
Cons – bugs

Formal Parties:
Pros – you get to get all dressed up, dancing, champagne, meeting new people
Cons – you have to get all dressed up

Holiday Parties:
Pros – decorations, yummy food
Cons – too much fattening food, holidays cause too much pressure to have perfect parties that never turn out that way

Birthday Parties:
Pros – cake, presents, candles, everyone comes to see YOU
Cons – you get older, and if it’s your 21st, you will probably puke

Any other kinds of parties you can think of?