Wednesday, January 31, 2007

Tyra Banks has trouble getting dates?!?!

I must have woke up on the other side of a parallel universe because people are calling Tyra Banks fat. Tyra...fat? This sounds way too Sci-Fi for me.

The former Victoria's Secret model was on Larry King Live Monday night talking about fashion, body image, the Janet Jackson interview, her future projects, the infamous tabloid bathing suit picture and how she has a hard time getting dates.

Larry King asked Tyra if guys were lined up around the corner vying for dates with her and she humorously said, no, if you find some let me know. She said that she didn't have much free-time last year because she was focused on getting her talk show up and running, but now that things had slowed down, she was thrilled to have free weekends again. Larry King asked her what she did with her newfound leisure time and she said that on Saturday that she was ecstatic to "sleep in until 2 p.m. and then I went to go see a movie with my Mom." King was astonished to find that the former supermodel didn't have a "hot date" lined up for Saturday night. Tyra went on to talk about how some of the guys she dated have this inferiority complex about her being too successful, too beautiful and larger than life. She then quoted a line from Knotting Hill about her just "being a girl standing before a guy asking him to love her."

You see, Tyra's just like the rest of us ladies.

What's cool about Tyra is that she's out there trying to debunk beauty stereotypes. She's willing to be an example by sharing pictures of herself without make-up and revealing what she looks like without her hair extensions. If I had my pick of celebrities to hang out with for a day she'd be on my top 10 list because she seems down-to-earth and real. The first time I remember seeing her was when she guest starred on The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air as Will's hometown love-interest. I would have never guessed that she was a supermodel until someone told me.

Another interesting thing she talked about on Larry King was "nighttime Tyra" vs. "daytime Tyra". She said that the "nighttime Tyra" is the fierce role she plays when she's on America's Next Top Model and "daytime Tyra" is just her being herself, talking about all kind of random things like "flatulence" and yes, she actually said that word.

How many women wish that if they were "prettier" or "richer" that things would be different for them? Well, Tyra is "pretty" and "rich" and she still has to endure finding "Mr. Right" and name-calling. Good looks and money are not the end all and be all. A pretty face and a large income can't buy someone love. Just think about how some of the "prettiest" women are caught up in the sex industry and struggle with low self-esteem and get abused by men.

The Holy Bible says "Your beauty should not come from outward adornment, such as braided hair and the wearing of gold jewelry and fine clothes. Instead, it should be that of your inner self, the unfading beauty of a gentle and quiet spirit, which is of great worth in God's sight." (I Peter 3:3-4)

The world will try to paint you as fat, ugly, dumb or any other hurtful label it can in order to tear down your inner beauty. But it's our job to leave all that mess back in whatever warped universe it came from.

Monday, January 29, 2007

Those Four Eyed Monsters

Arin Crumley. Let's see, how can I say this? He's a wicked good filmmaker and I got the chance to meet him at a Four Eyed Monsters screening just outside of Boston. He's skinny, down-to-earth, and really cool in an offbeat kind of way. He's like a real-life version of the awkward yet charming guy friend who gets the girl in the end. Kinda like Topher Grace in Win a Date with Tad Hamilton!. So go ahead and check out his work, it just might be the best thing you never knew you wanted.

This is Arin at Sundance, you gotta watch this:

Four Eyed Monsters is smart, witty, and creatively cute. Keep up the good work Arin and Susan!! Viva la revolution!

Friday, January 26, 2007

Bollywood Goodness

Am I the only Christian American who can sing along to Lagaan and watch Kabhi Khushi Kahbie Gham over and over again?

If you don't know what Bollywood is then you should. They're putting out more films than Hollywood. And they're better (depending on how much you like musicials and learning about different cultures). If you're a fan of feel good dance numbers, dramatic camera spins, and romantic scenes in the rain (or dessert) then Bollywood is totally for you.

Here's a quick list of things that every Bollywood fan should know:

1. Aishwarya Rai - She's pretty much the Julia Roberts of Bollywood. She has a killer smile and when she's in a film people watch.

2. The Khans and the Kapoors - They're something like the Baldwins, but way better. They're Bollywood royality so you're bound to watch a movie with one of them in it.

3. The longest running Bollywood film in India - Dilwale Dulhania Le Jayenge. It's still in theaters last time I checked (about 10 years or so).

4. Bride & Prejudice - Rai's crossover Hollywood film. It's a Bollywood version of Jane Austen's Pride and Prejudice. Ashanti (the R&B singer) gives a special music performance in this.

5. Where to get Bollywood films - Blockbuster has some like Lagaan, but from my experience the best place to find them is at a local Indian market in your area (a lot of times they have videos you can rent or buy) or check out local theatres, maybe there's one that plays Bollywood movies. Thanks to the Internet, you're always one click away from purchasing the movies straight from the companies that make them.

Also, be careful not to lump all Indian films into the Bollywood category, there are different genres and dialects spoken throughout India but you can check out Wikipedia or Google "Indian Cinema" to find the ins and outs to that, (which I am still learning myself).

I've been a fan of Bollywood movies since high school, but with a little effort you could be a Bollywood lover too. And for all the ladies, if you think Surresh from NBC's Heroes is a hottie, just wait until you see some of Bollywood's leading men. You'll be singing "O Rey Chhori" in no time.

Monday, January 22, 2007

Gospel Singer performs National Anthem at AFC Championship

What a heart-breaker, not the singing, the game!

In case you missed one of the biggest games in football, Yolanda Adams, a Grammy-Award winning Gospel singer performed the National Anthem at the RCA Dome in one of the most exciting match-ups between two of the league's best quarterbacks. Adams jumped the gun when she started off but quickly recovered and her voice soared as the crowd cheered for the start of the highly anticipated game.

Tom Brady and Peyton Manning were like two skilled magicians duking it out, pulling rabbits out of hats when their teams needed a crucial play. It was down to the wire, about a minute left on the clock, the Patriots had possesion and Brady was moving the ball up the field faster then lighting. Manning had his head in his lap, unable to watch his chance for a Superbowl ring slip out of his reach, then it happened...."interception" and the Colts fans irrupted with sweet relief. They were going to the Superbowl! And just like that, my hopes for a Patriots four-peat were dashed.

It was a game day full of almost for Yolanda Adams and sadness for the Pats. But that's football for you: bravely bittersweet.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Why the Church should be folk-dancing

Wouldn't it be cool if Christians danced together?

The typical church services I've been to involve people sitting in pews, folding chairs or fancy theatre seats and when the worship team gets up and plays the music people stand up, raise their hands and slighty move their bodies in their 5 inch space. But what if the body of Christ disregarded this tradition mode? What if we gave up our individualistic praise and worship setting for something new--something vibrant and communal? Like folk-dancing.

Anyone can folk dance, it's fun and easy. I've been apart of the M.I.T. International Folk Dance Club on and off since my freshmen year of college. It all started with my quest for interesting yet inexpensive entertainment. I found out about the group from a local Boston newspaper, (I forget which one probably the Phoenix or the Metro). I would take the #1 bus over the Charles River to M.I.T.'s historic campus and make a $1 donation for one of the coolest hobbies ever.

I've danced witd old ladies from European countries, architects, college students and all kinds of fasinating people. You may start off a little unsure of your steps but by the end of the evening you have the basic concepts down. The people are so friendly, even when you mis-step they smile and spur you on. There's something very...elemental about holding hands with people in a circle and dancing. It's completely life affirming about our need for fellowship with one another. What I don't get is why modern churches are so stuck on keeping people in their seats instead of engaging them in joint praise and worship of our AWESOME God. They're really missing out on a uniting factor.

If I was ever part of a church-planting newbie group then I'd definately include a folk-dancing praise time. And we wouldn't be dancing to some lame-o CCM music either. The praise team would have to learn some authenic folk tunes a la Burlap to Cashmere's style or I'd make sure we had a guest Christian folk band lead us in those times. I've been to a few of the Copley Square outdoor summer folk dance sessions and a live folk band makes a big difference.

So what are you waiting for? Get your folk on!

Visit the M.I.T International Folk Dance Club.
Find a folk dancing club near you.
*Side Note for all you who aren't familar with Christian lingo: CCM stands for Contemporary Christian Music and praise team is the singers/band who plays the music when we praise and worship God before or after the sermon is given.*

Wednesday, January 17, 2007

Creativity and Discipline

I think God is trying to get this simple equation to sink into my head: Creativity without discipline equals frustration.

As I was getting ready for bed a couple weeks ago that statement came to me as I thought about how I wanted to change my habits in the new year. I'm the kind of person who is bubbling with creativity, sometimes it's hard for me to keep up with all the stories, poems, songs and drawings that pop into my head on a daily basis. I keep a pen and paper with me at all times so I can hurry up and scribble down my latest idea and if I run out of paper I won't hestitate on stopping to the closest fast food joint to get some napkins to write on. It's clear that I have the creativity part down, but when it comes to the discipline, let's just say I need some major help. When I try to do it on my own, the self-imposed discipline doesn't seem to last. But then it hit me: self-discipline isn't the focus, godly discipline is. When I look at Jesus and all the creativity and discipline He embodied while he was on Earth, there lies my answer...strength from God.

Titus 2:11-12 says, "For the grace of God that brings salvation has appeared to all men. It teaches us to say 'No' to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age."

Wordly passions aren't limited to getting drunk or dressing inappropriately, sometimes it's comes in the form of that nasty little monster called proscrastination. Being an unorganized proscrastinator is a disservice to the Gospel when God has given us the grace to be self-controlled. The scripture says God teaches us. That statement is amazing by itself and if you've ever had a great teacher in school who took the time to stick it out with you until you got or inspired you then you'll begin to understand the power of what God wants to do. But we have to be patient with ourselves, God didn't say we'll get the lesson in one day. The art of discipline can take time.

Discipline isn't a dirty word when it comes to creativity. Godly discpline doesn't stifle artistry, it stimulates it. Some of the best authors understand the power of when the two forces unite.

Now, creativity and discipline are finally learning to be good friends--at least in my mind.

Read L.Harris' take on Stephen King's advice for writers.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Idols and Stars

Our society has a major crush on celebrities. It's like we're still middle-schoolers who go ga-ga every time the most popular jock glances our way. Will we ever grow up?

Infatuation...that's exactly what we have and we're weak in the knees with it. We're infatutated with who the next American Idol will be. We're infatutated with perfect smiles, air-brushed faces and red carpet dresses. If you take a closer look at the definition of the word, we come off looking pretty silly. Here's what the Merriam-Webster online definition says:
1 : to cause to be foolish : deprive of sound judgment
2 : to inspire with a foolish or extravagant love or admiration
That's us, on all accounts. Our society has celebrity infatuation branded on the bottom of our feet like Barbie Dolls have Mattel on theirs. We can claim Barbie's standards have are too unrealistic and out of touch. Can God say the same about us? Have we become too plastic?

For the past couple of days or so I've been going to and incorporating their daily scripture into my Bible study. Amos 5:26 really spoke to me so I decided to read the whole chapter in the NIV and Message versions. I planned on going into detail on how these scriptures parallel to the situation our society but then I came the descision on including the Message version text and leaving it up to you to take what can from these powerful words.

Amos 5 (The Message version)

All Show, No Substance

Listen to this, family of Israel, this Message I'm sending in bold print, this tragic warning: "Virgin Israel has fallen flat on her face.
She'll never stand up again.
She's been left where she's fallen.
No one offers to help her up."
This is the Message, God's Word:

"The city that marches out with a thousand
will end up with a hundred.
The city that marches out with a hundred
will end up with ten. Oh, family of Israel!"

God's Message to the family of Israel:

"Seek me and live.
Don't fool around at those shrines of Bethel,
Don't waste time taking trips to Gilgal,
and don't bother going down to Beer-sheba.
Gilgal is here today and gone tomorrow
and Bethel is all show, no substance."

So seek God and live! You don't want to end up
with nothing to show for your life
But a pile of ashes, a house burned to the ground.
For God will send just such a fire,
and the firefighters will show up too late.

Raw Truth Is Never Popular

Woe to you who turn justice to vinegar
and stomp righteousness into the mud.
Do you realize where you are? You're in a cosmos
star-flung with constellations by God,
A world God wakes up each morning
and puts to bed each night.
God dips water from the ocean
and gives the land a drink.
God, God-revealed, does all this.
And he can destroy it as easily as make it.
He can turn this vast wonder into total waste.
People hate this kind of talk.
Raw truth is never popular.
But here it is, bluntly spoken:
Because you run roughshod over the poor
and take the bread right out of their mouths,
You're never going to move into
the luxury homes you have built.
You're never going to drink wine
from the expensive vineyards you've planted.
I know precisely the extent of your violations,
the enormity of your sins. Appalling!
You bully right-living people,
taking bribes right and left and kicking the poor when they're down.

Justice is a lost cause. Evil is epidemic.
Decent people throw up their hands.
Protest and rebuke are useless,
a waste of breath.

Seek good and not evil—
and live!
You talk about God, the God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
being your best friend.
Well, live like it,
and maybe it will happen.

Hate evil and love good,
then work it out in the public square.
Maybe God, the God-of-the-Angel-Armies,
will notice your remnant and be gracious.

Now again, my Master's Message, God, God-of-the-Angel-Armies:

"Go out into the streets and lament loudly!
Fill the malls and shops with cries of doom!
Weep loudly, 'Not me! Not us, Not now!'
Empty offices, stores, factories, workplaces.
Enlist everyone in the general lament.
I want to hear it loud and clear when I make my visit."
God's Decree.

Time to Face Hard Reality, Not Fantasy

Woe to all of you who want God's Judgment Day!
Why would you want to see God, want him to come?
When God comes, it will be bad news before it's good news,
the worst of times, not the best of times.
Here's what it's like: A man runs from a lion
right into the jaws of a bear.
A woman goes home after a hard day's work
and is raped by a neighbor.
At God's coming we face hard reality, not fantasy—
a black cloud with no silver lining.
"I can't stand your religious meetings.
I'm fed up with your conferences and conventions.
I want nothing to do with your religion projects,
your pretentious slogans and goals.
I'm sick of your fund-raising schemes,
your public relations and image making.
I've had all I can take of your noisy ego-music.
When was the last time you sang to me?
Do you know what I want?
I want justice—oceans of it.
I want fairness—rivers of it.
That's what I want. That's all I want.

"Didn't you, dear family of Israel, worship me faithfully for forty years in the wilderness, bringing the sacrifices and offerings I commanded? How is it you've stooped to dragging gimcrack statues of your so-called rulers around, hauling the cheap images of all your star-gods here and there? Since you like them so much, you can take them with you when I drive you into exile beyond Damascus." God's Message, God-of-the-Angel-Armies.
I like how the NIV version puts verse 26:
"You have lifted up the shrine of your king, the pedestal of your idols, the star of your god which you made for yourselves."
We may not worship those ancient gods but don't you find it kind of odd how we call actors and singers our idols and stars? Is God saying to us that since we're so fond of them, then we can cling to them when life gets rough (and we all know it will). Will our DVD collections and autographed movie posters be able to offer us help in those inevitable tough times? Can Hollywood movie premieres save our souls? These questions may sound silly, but our infatuation with celebrities isn't that smart.

Thursday, January 4, 2007

The Lady and Her Vespa

Going fast is over-rated. I've never been one to drool over the guys with motorcycles or sports cars. Some girls dig the whole speed thing but I'm more of a sightseeing kind of lady. That's why the Vespa GTS 250 is my dream ride. So now you know...I'm a scooter lover.

I've had an interest in scooters since I was a little girl. They're just so cool. Sometimes I daydream about riding a silver Vespa on European streets, kind of like Audrey Hepburn in Roman Holiday (but I'd drive better, she was a total mess). I'd especially like to see Paris and Amsterdam by way of scooter. I'll visit museums, take loads of pictures and dine on yummy French cuisine. Ooh la la!

I used to joke around with this one friend about starting up a scooter group after I interviewed some Christian bikers for a story. I thought why couldn't scooter enthusiasts have a similar thing? Thanks to the World Wide Web, scooterists and scooter lovers can meet up...and to my delight I've found out that there are many scooter groups already in motion. In the words of Rachael Ray, "How cool is that?" So in light of the new year, I'm going to make saving up for my dream Vespa a serious ambition.

Some people may think riding a scooter is corny but I won't let that stop me. Being corny is under-rated.