Orchestra Seats

Sometimes, when we need it the most, life throws something unexpected at us that changes our perspective – if only for a little while. Orchestra Seats is exactly that.

This movie shows how, with the right attitude, life can take a turn for the better. What I love most about it is the coincidences that take place, and that make up the traditional French feel-good film. The story makes you laugh, cry, smile and sigh at all the right places. And, of course, everything works out for the best in the end.

If you need some cheering up, why not give it a go?


Make it or Break it

Maybe by fate, or a mere accident, I stumbled across this tv-series. It was lucky that I did. Make It or Break it is a perfect series for those who think One Tree Hill is too much drama, while Seventh Heaven is not enough. The series has it all: drama, competition and sport, family crisis, friendship and, of course, love.

The reason why I found this particular series so interesting is quite simple: I am fascinated by gymnastics, which is a key element in Make it or Break it. The viewers get an inside look in the elite gymnastics world. We join four girls as they train, compete and go through all the problems that come with living the life of a professional athlete. We watch them struggle to keep their lives perfectly balanced in order to achieve the ultimate goal: the Olympics podium.

Watching the series now adds another exciting element to it: the Olympics the main characters work so hard for, is London 2012. I feel connected with the main characters – Kaylie Cruz, Payson Keeler and Lauren Tanner – and want them all to succeed.

The only thing I don’t like about this series is that one of the main characters dissappeared in season 2 due to the pregnancy of the actress. She did not return for the third season, nor does she plan to. Otherwise, Make ir or Break it is a great series. I’m addicted to it, and simply couldn’t wait: I watched the series online, and now I’ve caught up with the US.

If you, like me, enjoy a good drama series on TV, this should be on top of your list!

Make your own book part 1

Ever played with the idea of turning your novel into a book yourself? In a few short posts I’ll share my own experiences, and post tutorial that’ll show you guys how to do it.

Thing’s you’ll need for part 1:

– Copy paper in whatever size you prefer

– Ruler

– Needle (not a thin one)

– Pencil

– Foam (you can also use a rubber, as I did)

– Patience

If you want to turn your edited novel currently saved as a simple Word-document on your computer into a book, you have to figure out how many signatures you want and then create a “cheat novel”. This is my ‘invention’, as I couldn’t find any tutorial on the internet showing me how to do this. A cheat novel is a simple way of getting your novel printed out the right way, so that it can be turned into a readable book. In other words, this means that you cannot just open the document and press print. Here’s what you do:

First, take however many sheets you want to make your signature. I chose to use 4 sheets, the equalent of eight pages. Fold the sheets into a signature – this makes your cheat novel. Then open your document, choose the print settings to be two pages per sheet, and see how many pages you get. Write down the numbers on your cheat novel, so you know what pages to print on which sheet. On my 8 page signature, one sheet will be 8 and 1, the other side will be 2 and 7, then 6 and 3 and so on.

This takes a lot of time and effort, especially if you’ve written a long story, but the end result will be readable. And best of all, you can finally put your own novel in the bookshelf! Tip: Print out more than one copy when you first start. A homemade novel is a brilliant Christmas present!

Lost in Translation

Lost in Translation is a 2003 Drama film written and directed by Sofia Coppola, starring Scarlett Johansson and Bill Murray in the leading parts. The film was awarded an Oscar for best screenplay, and won several Golden Globe awards.

The movie is about a man and a woman who find themselves in the city of Tokyo for completely different reasons, and they both feel alone, because there is no-one around them who really understand them.

Bob Harris (Bill Murray) is a famous actor who is in Tokyo to for a TV-commercial that is supposed to make the Japanese drink more whisky. Charlotte (Scarlett Johansson) is the young wife of the skilled photographer John, who is a workaholic. Both the characters are portrayed well by the actors; we can usually tell how they feel and what they think by looking at their facial expression – the very hallmark of good acting.

During the movie it is made clear that they both struggle with their marriages.

Bob’s wife doesn’t care for him, even though they have been married for 25 years (they only stick together because of their children, who misses their father). During a conversation with his wife over the phone, it is made clear that there are no warm, romantic feelings left in their marriage. Charlotte and John have only been married for two years, but there are no visible feelings left in their relationship. She is very unsure of her marriage, as there is lack of communication between them.

There is little going on until the two characters meet; first time they see each other is the elevator, then in the bar. Charlotte and Bob start talking together, and Charlotte finds that she likes his dry sense of humour. They develop a weird friendship – or, rather, a highly unlikely friendship. They also do highly unlikely things together, such as hanging out with Japanese people whom they have never met before. When Charlotte sprains a toe, he takes her to the hospital and makes her sit in a wheel-chair, just to make her laugh.

All of these events take place chronologically, and there is no use of flash-backs. This, I think, is used to make the audience feel closer to the characters – which is a good thing, because any story with deep meaning is pointless unless the audience feel connected with the characters. It also makes us feel “in the moment”.

The new friendship is caught in a dilemma when Charlotte visits Bob and finds the red-haired jazz singer from the bar they met in, in his room. When it is time for him to go home, they say goodbye (coldly) and Charlotte returns to her hotel room. A little while later, Bob sees her on the street and stops the taxi to say final goodbyes. They kiss (in broad daylight!) in the middle of a crowded street in Japan. He is old enough to be her father – almost.

Then Bob gets in the taxi, and that is the end.

Though the ending is open, which means that there is room for imagination, there is little left to imagine, as it is highly unlikely that the two of them will ever meet again (at least, one would have to have a very good imagination).

Lost in translation refers to the characters’ feeling of being alone in a big city like Tokyo, while both Charlotte’s and Bob’s spouse do not understand them or cannot really talk to them. In addition to that, nobody around them speaks the same language, also meaning their own personal language. The theme of the film is implicated in the tagline: “Everyone wants to be found”. It is all about feeling alone in the world, and finding your own niche.

Personally, I feel I, at the age of nineteen, am a bit too young to appreciate a film like this. If I ever marry, perhaps then I would understand the deep meaning of this movie. As it is now, I do not really get the whole point of the film – I found it without meaning, and, honestly, I thought it was boring. My hopes were up, because I had heard so many positive things about this movie, and I found myself a bit disappointed.

If I should recommend a movie with deep meaning for my age group, I would probably suggest Atonement, because I like Drama films I can understand the meaning of.

Atonement, by Ian McEwan

Ian McEwan is a successful writer from England who has won many prizes for his literature. Atonement is one of his perhaps most known novels, and was published in 2001 and then made as a film in 2007.

The events in this novel take place in England and France in the years before and during the Second World War. Briony Tallis is the storyteller, and already as a young girl she has ambitions of becoming an accomplished author. However, the novel is not about how Briony’s way to greatness. Instead, McEwan uses her as the key to tell the great and tragic love story of two young lovers who are separated when a thirteen-year-old girl sees something not meant for her eyes.

Cecilia Tallis and Robbie Turner have been friends since their childhood, and Celia’s father has always sponsored Robbie’s various studies. However, since they came home from CambridgeUniversity, Celia feels Robbie has been acting like a stranger in her family’s house and around her. Even little things he does, such as taking of his shoes to walk bare feet across the newly washed corridor, is enough to make her irritation grow. During her summer vacation Celia is trying to figure out her feelings toward Robbie; this new behaviour of him is making her unsure about their relationship, which has been unchanged for nearly fifteen years.

The love story and tragedy starts with an incident at a fountain; Celia wants to fill an old and valuable vase with water from the special fountain; Robbie is there and he insists on filling it for her, but, irritated as she is, she does not let go of the vase. Because of this the handles breaks off and falls into the fountain. This makes Celia mad, and she quickly undresses and dives into the fountain. She surfaces, in wet underwear, facing Robbie, and is unaware of her younger sister, Briony Tallis, observing the innocent scene from a second storey window and interprets the incident in a rather non-innocent way.

The interesting thing about this novel is the plot – one can immediately tell that the McEwan has used time to think and ponder about the plot, which is neither transparent nor obvious.

One grey Friday morning, after bringing the only novel from our bookshelf that I had not yet read, I found my seat at the train and sat down. In my lap laid approximately 300 pages of unread material written by the author of Saturday, a novel I found very dull and uninteresting. Unsure of what to expect this time, I opened the book and started reading.

My first reaction was relief. The language was easy to understand, even for a (then) 16 year-old, and the structure and plot was something out of the ordinary and captivating. I was eager to read more, and by the end of the six-hour travel by train, I had almost finished the novel. I would recommend it to everyone above 15 who enjoys a well-written novel of some kind.

Hotel California, by Eagles

Who doesn’t love this song? How many times have you listened to the cathcing melody, absentmindely singing along to the lyrics? I know I’ve done it a million times. Then it occured to me that song lyrics are just as much a form of poetry as any poem written by Keats or Shakespeare. So why not try to figure out what the lyrics really mean? This, ladies and gentlemen, is what I’ve come up with.

“Hotel California” is a song written by the well known American rock-band, Eagles. The song was written and released as a single in early 1977, and is one of The Eagles’ best songs. In fact, Eagles won the 1977 Grammy Award for Record of the year for “Hotel California”.

There’s more than one way to make an understanding of this song, it has to be done individually. For me, this song is about a drug addict and the feelings and problems he or she faces every day. This song is an excellent description of exactly that – there’s so much prejudice in today’s community, and it might be easy to forget (when we’re talking about someone with drug addiction) that we’re dealing with human beings with feelings, thoughts, families etc.

Don Henley, one of the band-members of The Eagles, said this about the song: “Some of the wilder interpretations of that song have been amazing. It was really about the excesses of American culture and certain girls we knew. But it was also about the uneasy balance between art and commerce.” They mean to say that this song is really about materialism, and the problems materialism can cause.

So, just to make it clear, this analysis is my interpretation of the song.

One of the linguistic effects The Eagles have used in this song is rhyme;

“Last thing I remember, I was
Running for the door
I had to find the passage back
To the place I was before
‘Relax,’ said the night man,
‘We are programmed to receive.
You can check-out any time you like,
But you can never leave!’”
The rhymes are there to maintain the rhythm, which is important in a song; otherwise it would be difficult to sing. Also, it’s easier to remember something if it rhymes, because of the repetitive sounds. That may be one of the reasons why this song is so well known – people remember it.

The Eagles has also used repetition of phrases and words; “She got a lot of pretty, pretty boys she calls friends,” and “Some dance to remember, some dance to forget”.

When I look at the first words in some of the stanzas, I can see that the band has used repetition there as well. This is an example from the sixth stanza;

They gathered for the feast
They stab it with their steely knives.”

In this particular stanza, repetition is combined with strong words to really make the listener comprehend what these persons are going through, and thereby make the listener to feel sympathy for them.

The choice of words in this text is very different from most texts – they’re very strong and symbolic. “Warm smell of colitas, rising up through the air,” refers to the smell of smoking marihuana. “Colitas” is Spanish slang, and the actual meaning is “the butt of a joint.”

“Tiffany-twisted” is also an example of special words. Tiffany’s is a famous jewellery shop, so the listener may picture a rich girl, wearing her expensive jewellery from Tiffany’s. This shows that money is a very important issue for the people at the hotel. The Eagles play with the words in that sentence; “Her mind is Tiffany-twisted, she got the Mercedes bends.”

Materialism, to own many expensive things, such as cars and jewellery, may seem like the ideal life, but the truth about materialism is twisted and bent into something beautiful and tempting. It can become an obsession, and in an attempt to earn money fast, some people become drug dealers, something which creates unnecessary problems for the community.

It’s important to remember that I, as mentioned before, interpret this poem as a description of a drug addicted person’s life.

The person in this song is trapped at a hotel, or brothel, which is probably owned by a drug dealer. This makes it even harder for the drug addict to leave, especially since this person may owe the pusher a great deal of money. This is explained in these sentences; “And she said ‘We are all just prisoners here, of our own device’” and “’We are programmed to receive. You can check-out any time you like, But you can never leave!’”.

That says something about how hard it is to change, once you’re addicted to something as strong as dope. The feast in this song is when everyone at the hotel (with drug addiction) gathers to receive dope from the dealer; “And in the master’s chambers, They gathered for the feast.”

I think the sentence “They stab it with their steely knives, But they just can’t kill the beast” describes the pain (the beast) they’re trying to get rid of by using dope, or the addiction, which is like an endless thirst; it only gets stronger and stronger, and after a while the drug addict needs more dope to get the same effect.

“The steely knives” is another example of how The Eagles has used symbolism in the text; it’s a metaphor for needles, which is the tool many addicts use in order to deaden the pain/addiction.

According to myself and my interpretation, I have to say that the theme of this song is drug addiction and drug abusers. That’s why I think The Eagles are trying to make us (the listeners) understand more about what a person with a drug related problem goes through. The strong lyrics give the song a bitter and sad mood.

I really like to listen to this song – the lyrics are strong, there’s rhythm and a catchy melody – and I especially enjoy listening to the refrain and the end. This song has made an impression on me, which is the reason why I chose to analyze it.

Now, listen to the song once more. The lyrics are open to interpretation. What do you think they mean? Leave a comment!