December 28, 2005

Ever-present (useless?) disclaimer

This is an amusing disclaimer from Netmeme:

Bryan's thoughts, news, links, and interesting photos. [This is my personal weblog, and does not represent the opinions of my employer. It may not even represent my own opinions a year from now.]

The same applies to Girl Meets World. The same applies to Girl Meets World. The same...I like to repeat that a few times to create an artificial safety net around myself and the writing I do here. I never thought writing on my blog could endanger my future, but I'm coming to understand that it certainly may.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 6:55 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 27, 2005

Christmas Even

If you can stand a little more yuletide, check out my Christmas Eve creation.

My mission: Make dinner and dessert for the family for Christmas Eve.

The plan: Get recipes from library. Try not to burn down plantation (or house, as it were).

The recipes: Mama D's Old-Fashioned Italian Chicken Parmesan. Buche de Noel (Yule Log for us non-French types).

The outcome: I didn't take pics of the chicken parm because, well, we all know what it looks like. My yule log was much more photogenic.

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The batter was thick. I let the mixer do the work.

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I couldn't believe some eggs, sugar, flour and some other ingredients could do this. It was great to see it start to fluff up.

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This was my icing for the log's center. I wanted it red, but dang that coloring, it just made it pink. Oh, well.

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After creating chocolate leaves and scoring the icing with a fork, my finished creation was a yule log. I was surprised to hear my sister say, "Wow, it really looks like a log." In the past, it has been, "Whoa, what is that?"

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I can't believe I took so many pictures of me and "the log". I think I was on a cooking pride euphoria.

Dinner went well. The chicken parm was good and the salad was pretty with parsley on top. We reeked of garlic, as usual.

Christmas was grand, but I liked the Christmas Eve night celebrations best. We read from the Bible and switch our Secret Santas. It's when we can reconnect as a family. I really look forward to that after weeks and months of hectic schedules.

Another great Christmas.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 1:49 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 20, 2005

I've become a cinema bitty

As many already know, Pride and Prejudice is my favorite book, and I have seen every movie adaptation that has been produced.

How amazing that another, starring Keira Knightley as Elizabeth Bennet, should come out so quickly after the A&E version.

So I had to see it.

I went to the matinee this afternoon. I was the only woman in the theater under 50. One elderly gentleman came along with his wife to the decidedly chick flick showing.

I loved every moment of it, especially the pre-showing chatter.

When a National Guard advertisement came on, I thought about the propaganda I'd recently looked at in Public Opinion and Propaganda from the 40's. A little later when the advertisement, I heard over the film switch to previews, one lady say, "It's just like during the War. Their trying to get people to enlist."

As for the film, it was cut up in certain spots due to time constrains; however, I thought the telling was beautiful, though a bit serious. Jane Austen has a whimsy that is accompanied by serious implications. I didn't see that in Knightley's performance. She smiled a lot, for sure, but she smiled for show--very unlike Elizabeth Bennet.

The A&E version still tops my list of Pride and Prejudices (I've seen nearly all 10 or so of them). It is one of the longest, but it is very true to the story.

Colin Firth as Mr. Darcy in the A&E version has the versatility of tenderness and haughtiness that is demanded of the character. This Matthew MacFayden (Mr. Darcy) in the 2005 telling was a bit more simpering, without the stern veneer. I think the time constraints of the film made him fall a little too easily to love.

There wasn't the struggle of pride and prejudice in this film, it was more like a grand misunderstanding.

I did enjoy the camera work, however. Though it did make me dizzy when Elizabeth is swinging on a tire swing to show time's progression in a cyclical manner, overall it was fantastic.

I'll be honest about this story. There isn't a lot of action like car chases or trips in flying objects; it is about people and their relationships. The camera speaks far more eloquently than the dialogue. The lens is Austen's voice and it is fastened on Elizabeth, and subsequently on Darcy. The struggle (when there is one) is discerned by the faces flying in and out of focus.

I laughed at Austen's signature lines, but they were not acted in the same amusing way. I think the director took his job a bit too seriously, but it was interesting to see it done another way. I just don't prefer it that way.

It ended well for love, as usual. The final scene was a bit more lovey dovey than other versions, but that was nice too. I think everyone who sees Pride and Prejudice is left wanting a little more romance from the characters so stiff in the era's propriety. This one delivered.

Before I left, I heard the women behind me talking. One said, "Back then, there wasn't one date, and then go to bed on the same night."

I had to smile. No, no. There certainly was not.

Courtship was an artform, and only those that chose to take risks could choose for love. Cinema bitty or not, this story is timeless, and I'll never get sick of it.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 8:21 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 18, 2005

100 Things About Me

This is fun. I've seen this done on other blogs, and I thought I'd give it a try.

I'd love to read yours...If you do write one, drop a comment so I can read. :-)

1. I scream Marroon 5 songs down the highway.
2. Sometimes when doing said no. 1 thing, I forget that I am also driving and swerve across my lane.
3. I haven't been pulled over for a sobriety test, but I have been for speeding. I beat the ticket.
4. I believe everything tastes better with cheese on it. Except candy.
5. When I write poetry, the best stuff isn't about profound things like love and sadness; it is more often in reference to things like laundry, cooking and squirrels.
6. After I watch a movie, I do my hair like the film's heroine.
7. Sometimes I talk like her too--especially when she has a British accent.
8. I despise dogs that jump on your legs and smell your crotch.
9. I am unlucky enough to have two of them.
10. Something tells me that God created electric blankets for people like me who despise wintery weather.
11. When I see squirrels scampering about, I think, "Yes, the world is good."
12. I love plants, but I usually under or over water them. My cactus is hanging on, though.
13. Sometimes I smile when I hear something witty because I have nothing witty with which to respond.
14. I like books. I really do, and I enjoy opening them under the Christmas tree. The paper-on-paper crackling is a blessed sound.
15. Hangers are evil. Something better, I've decided, should be made to put up the clothing that lines my closet.
16. I love to swim and dive and jump and go boating and do nearly anything that permits water as the focal point of activity.
17. My To-Do list has never beaten me.
18. I've been to nearly half the states in the U.S. and I am going to Scotland soon.
19. I'm not motivated enough to be a fiction writer and I'm too neurotic to be a daily news writer. Feature news and investigative stuff is right for me.
20. Fish and seafood is not on my menu--ever. Marine biology was a dream and I grew to love them very much. I don't want to eat Shamu-esque things.
21. I bite my nails.
22. I detest it when bleached-blond girls chew gum.
23. I am a walking hurricane. In all, I've broken 10 priceless pieces of my mother's family heirlooms, not to mention the other 15 pieces of junk (I mean decorative items) she leaves lying around the house.
24. I write in my diary only when I am sad.
25. I listen to country music and even once thought I would go to Nashville to get a record deal.
26. I want to fall in love again.
27. I love falling asleep to the sound of waves crashing.
28. When I dance with someone and ask their name, I immediately forget it.
29. I watch the Oscars for 2 reasons: Best Picture and the dresses.
30. Sometimes I am disappointed by both.
31. I never know when someone is lying.
32. Blogging is an obsession/habit.
33. I am organized.
34. I've named my stapler (Dorian Gray) and plant (Norbert), but not my car.
35. My nicknames include: Cheetah, Manda, Medusa, Dappen and Sassy.
36. The Mona Lisa speaks volumes to me. Her smile is an inspiration.
37. I heart coffee.
38. I heart chocolate.
39. Someday I want to write for Newsweek and have a beach house on the South Carolina shore.
40. I want to protest.
41. When I get my own place, I am going to buy the soap and shampoo I like.
42. I do whatever I can (that's legal) to not pay for music.
43. I will literally jump for joy when I get my own business card.
44. My favorite movie is sappy.
45. I don't clean under the rug. In fact, I push things underneath it.
46. When I am concerned about others, I usually screw up easing their pain because I get nervous.
47. I like blowing bubbles on the bank of a river.
48. I blow bubbles in my chocolate milk.
49. Long showers make my mornings worth the waking.
50. I believe in the power of dressing well.
51. I belive in living up to your own expectations--and raising them periodically for a new challenge.
52. Jane Austen and I are on the same wavelength.
53. I dislike being hunted, but I hate hunting.
54. A liberal education and my faith are constantly at odds with one another. I'm trying to settle them quietly.
55. Ribbons are my favorite accessory.
56. I hate purses--especially when you really need a big bag to do the job.
57. I like luggage, though; especially when it makes that rolling sound behind you when you're gliding through an airport.
58. G-Mail makes me happy.
59. My muse goes on vacation often. I flounder in her absence.
60. I adore using large words in small documents.
61. When I wake from a dream, I either forget them immediately or remember them for a lifetime.
62. I actually do choose a book by its cover.
63. I get lost when people start talking about their favorite alcohol.
64. I am afraid of jellyfish and snakes. Worms aren't too high on the list of most-beloved creatures, either.
65. New Years' is my favorite holiday.
66. I have a July birthday,
67. Which is fabulous because summer my favorite season.
68. I keep papers long after I need them, and throw away the ones I need.
69. When it rains on a summer afternoon, and a rainbow comes out, I think of Noah--and then Jonah, because I get their names screwed up.
70. I believe a lot of keys means a lot of responsibility. I am humbled by the janitor's wad of keys, in comparison to my puny one.
71. I get entirely too mad at my mother for not knowing how to use a computer.
72. I don't like to swear. So when I do, I hope it carries some weight.
73. I am not a natural leader. I have to work at it.
74. I don't know why New York is called "The Big Apple".
75. I color inside the lines.
76. My favorite song is sappy.
77. My car runs on "E" at least half the time.
78. The idea of sardines on pizza makes me want to well...you know.
79. I like taking pictures, but I hate having them developed.
80. I wear contact lenses.
81. Cell phones are the bane of my existence.
82. Someday I want to intentionally collect something.
83. I can cook, but I hold off at all costs.
84. I though my home's oven was convectional.
85. I don't like to balance my checkbook.
86. I cry at fictional things, but not usually at non-fiction, even when it is worse.
87. I always order chicken parm at the Olive Garden.
88. I've learned to block people out when they are talking about things that do not work toward something I am doing.
89. I try to limit this practice, and I'm not entirely successful.
90. I've never liked baby dolls or Barbies. I preferred office supplies and stickers.
91. My sister liked to play weather lady and I liked to play Sally Wiggin in our play news broadcasts.
92. I love to run.
93. I don't fear death, but I want to stick around a while.
94. Every day I try to learn something new, and not forget what I learned yesterday.
95. My alarm clock plays music instead of beeps.
96. I like second-hand things. They have a history.
97. I smile sometimes when I don't feel like it.
98. I don't think there's anything like seeing your work in print.
99. I don't think there's anything like seeing children use their imaginations.
100. I'm a self-indulgent daydreamer with entirely too many ideas and too little time on her hands.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 5:38 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 17, 2005

Happy Holidays versus Everything Else

When I initially heard about the "new" debate over using "Happy Holidays" instead of "Merry Christmas" in businesses, my mind was split.

Happy Holidays is a non-specific greeting that can relate to anyone in any religious tradition.

However, living in America, where the predominant tradition is Christian, this was bound to tick a few people off.

From the article:

"We see this as just another attempt to remove our Judeo-Christian heritage," Gammons said. "Our country was founded by Christian people who came and built the nation on Christian principles."

Um, can I also point out that this is also what our nation is founded upon:

Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances.

I am stepping out on a limb in saying that this practice is (at least ideally) a 1) smart thing for businesses to do and 2)a progressive step in realizing that not only Christians live in America. And, gosh darn it, all Americans, despite their religious affiliations want to buy cheap, foreign labor-made goods, but that's another thing altogether.

The other side of my mind was saying, "Amanda, you are a Christian, don't you want to see 'Merry Christmas' instead of 'Happy Holidays' everywhere? This is your faith. Why are you betraying it?"

And to that thought, I responded that I would not like to see Merry Christmas everywhere if I am alienating others from celebrating a season that all can enjoy. I am not betraying Christmas by including others, and isn't that one of the tenets of Christ's teachings to bring all together under one banner? The big problem, however, is that it is going against Christ's banner.

It seems as if this season isn't about making particular claims about particular faiths (although each does); it is about finding light amid an ever-encroaching darkness, both literally and figuratively. Many faiths do this (unless the faith is to celebrate darkness), shouldn't we celebrate this relative commonality, rather than douse icy water on it?

As for the money-making end of this matter, Merry Christmas or Happy Holidays, there is much at stake here. The retailing audience is everyone, and as much as Americans want to believe it, we are not the homogeneous mass, as seen in our own small environments.

As for me, it is Merry Christmas in my heart, and to everyone I meet. It is still a Christmas tree, and Christ still lives in this season for me, but I am willing to see the other side and the benefits of acknowledging everyone's understanding as tolerable--at least.

My faith is exclusivist, and I've been dealing with the nature of my religious understanding for years now. I still haven't made many concrete decisions; however, it is times like this and in issues like this, that our colors show. My banner is a bright red and green at the moment, with a few unfinished seams.

Merry Christmas. Happy Holidays. Stoke up a fire and stay warm. Love someone, find your light and live it. The titles should not matter.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 1:48 PM | Comments (0) | TrackBack

December 13, 2005

I love radio!

As Anna Marie Desmond in the Culture Wars drama, I acted. As a student in the class, I discovered America from a completely different perspective than any history book I've ever picked up.

We researched different views, various eras and political and social leaders. It was the most non-traditional course ever, but I learned so much.

The course was designed to show the stratification of upper-class and lower-class and every other factor that defines and separates America today. Throughout the course, we picked up the suicide of Hunter S. Thompson for debate. Did he kill himself because he was depressed about the state of his life and America and what it is becoming, or was he possibly murdered?

Our creation, a radio drama depicting his court case, attempts to fictionally answer that question.
The radio drama, which was produced live on Monday, is now available for easy media player listening here. I am Anna Desmond, a friend of the defendant, and the defense lawyer's voice.

I wrote the testimony for Anna. I loved performing it.

The Setonian covered the webcast. It was difficult to find a reporter for the webcast story and people to be interviewed because over half the class was Setonian staff.

Anyway, the production went amazingly well. I'm so proud of the class. This is a wonderful experience and a great thing to add to my portfolio. Woo hoo.

Today we had a milk and cookies (and popcorn ball? :-D) celebration to commemorate our kick ass-assination performance.

Dr. Klapak has aspirations for radio drama performances at least once a week next semester. Count me in!

Read on for Ashley Welker's pics of the broadcast.

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Pre-broadcast. I don't think Stephan had breakfast.

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Katie Aikins is getting "into it". Should I remind her that this is radio?

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I sat next to -the- Hunter S. Thompson...I mean S. Puff.

What an experience! Maybe newspapers aren't the end of my media horizons.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 10:54 PM | Comments (3) | TrackBack

Best night on the Hill...I'll have another!

Christmas on the Hill was great (I would say more but I've finals to prepare for).

I'd like to thank Karissa for the batteries so I could take these. :-) I am going to give you new ones FYI.

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Evan and I all glamorous.

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So pretty...Lori wanted to show us all her beautiful eye shadow!

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Timeless...Karissa and I were both wearing era-inspired gowns.

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Close-up!

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Val is all smiles, and so am I. Yay for the parlors.

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What a lovely staff the Setonian has!

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 7:08 PM | Comments (6) | TrackBack

December 10, 2005

Timeless cartoons caput

Over lunch this past week, a few pals of mine started chatting about the upgrades (or bastardizations) of timeless cartoons.

The Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles came up... Stephan said they added rap into the theme song, and the turtles can actually mutate into large trucks...or something. I thought it was odd enough that turtles had nunchucks.

I haven't seen the turtles lately in their semi-glory, but I have seen the transformations of Looney Tunes that Sarcasmo's Corner mentions.

The same thing happened to the Power Rangers. And the princesses of Disney feature cartoons. I don't understand how they can have a mermaid and an Arabic princess and an English housemaid all in the same room...and where exactly are they all meeting...on a Disney cruise ship between their respective worlds?

Corporate America is kicking the tar out of classical cartoonery. Why does this happen?!

But anyway, Sarcasmo's updates on classics is a worthwhile read, especially this one (Happy Christmas! :-)):

How the Grinch Stole Christmas: I'll tell you how. WITH LASERS. Poor Whoville never had a chance. (Years later, sole survivor Cindy Lou Who (a vegetarian, having lost her taste for Roast Beast that fatal Christmas) will come back mad as hell and clad in a skin-tight pleather catsuit and with vampiric powers to avenge her town in a made-for-tv movie everyone will know is a bad idea, but will watch anyway. In this version, the Grinch will be played by Boris Karloff, thanks to modern technology.)
Posted by Amanda Cochran at 1:24 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack

December 3, 2005

'Bibbety bobbity boo':
Possible bogus interning with Disney

From Newsweek's "Disney internships draw students, criticism":

“None of them are paid properly,” Ed Chambers, president of United Food and Commercial Workers Union, Local 1625, said of the college interns. “They’re like indentured slaves ... They live on Disney property. They eat Disney food. They take Disney transportation.”

Seton Hill has permitted Disney to bring internship recruiters on campus several times, and I have friends that have participated in these internships. Their views are incredibly upbeat in comparison to this report's understanding.

I see both sides, and they both look a little dim. The students receive housing for a minimal fee and are paid to stay in a resort area. I see the perks...sort of.

It looks good, but it sounds like a Mickey Mouse Cult Club, with Donald holding the whip for first-time interns.

Disney is the great provider and the underlings serve and receive some minimal pay and the title of intern for something that may not even apply to their major or its requirements. And that is what gets me...it sounds a lot like a scam.

Even with quotes like this, the holes appear in their argument.

Joanna Gonzalez, a University of Florida graduate, said serving fast food in the Magic Kingdom helped her become quick on her feet and overcome shyness.

“We’re not there to flip burgers, or to give people food. We’re there to create magic,” said Gonzalez, 23, who now works at the Department of Homeland Security in Washington. “When I worked there, I opened up. The confidence it builds in you is huge.”

Confidence? How is Disney confidence any different than confidence that can come from learning skills in a professional environment that actually relate to your field of study?

The use of the word "internship" is unsettling. Why do Disney employees receive the title of "intern" for a summer scooping out garbage cans and dressing up as Goofy?

Though the article says that they learn about customer service and Disney's hospitality culture, I can't see that someone can't learn a similar thing at the Cogo's down the street. It's just packaged differently, and colleges and universities are buying it as credible intern experience for a future physician's assistants, journalists or music teachers.

"Creating magic" or "flipping burgers", whatever you call it, for a music teacher, it's not in relationship to your field.

Be wary, oh registrar's offices of the world, Mickey might pull a fast one.

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 1:11 PM | Comments (2) | TrackBack

December 1, 2005

Seton Hill at its finest: Final crunch

I've been through this fall finals crunch thing three times, but it's my favorite time of the year at SHU.

Unlike spring, there is a tangible pay-off: Christmas on the Hill. It's the best celebration of the year.

When I don't have my mind on the unreachables of time and space (a.k.a. Catholicism final creed paper), I am thinking about my dress, shoes, make-up and jewelry for that night. Frivolous thinking is such a pleasure.

However, the list goes on. The Setonian/Eye Contact party is in a little more than a week and Christmas is -officially- on its way. Reminder to self: Bring a Secret Santa gift--$2.00 of fun.

I'm also singing with my church's choir again, so I feel very light and musical, despite the loads of paperwork and scheduled activities lining my planner.

The best part is that even when I am tired, I'm realizing that this is when every student is at the top of their game in their understandings of the subjects they've studied. This is our time to share what we have learned all fall.

So, without further ado, I'm back to it; but never fear, there's always some frivolity to distract. :-D

Posted by Amanda Cochran at 1:31 PM | Comments (1) | TrackBack