Sunday, January 11, 2015

Disposable (cameras)

I went super old school a few weeks ago and converted to the disposable camera. For just $14.99 from Walgreen’s you can purchase a lovely plastic box with film, flash, and no viewing display to take your very own photos.

Disposable camera photography adds a very grungy, imperfect vibe to photos that’s quite a departure from the hyper-clear photography that’s all the rage of DSLR’s. I decided to hop on the bandwagon and document a Model UN trip and the holidays with a disposable I picked up at the drug store. I’m a pretty bad photographer with just my iPhone, so needless to say the majority of the disposable camera photos came out looking like shit(ake mushrooms). It didn’t help that part of the film got damaged somehow and only 19 of my 27 exposures were developed. And of those 19, only 10 produced a viewable image. However, I really like the effect produced on the 10 photos that did work out, so I think I’ll buy a disposable again.
The Kali in her natural habitat

Candid at dinner

Too photogenic

What a hotel room birthday party looks like after everyone's left

Helping each other clean up after being ambushed by silly string

Kali behind some trippy film issues

Don't know who/what this is, but it looks cool

The foggy ballroom at the hotel

Candid ballroom rave shot

Post sinus surgery selfie (I'm covering most of my face because the swelling made me look like a hairless gorilla)

If I had a Christmas card, I'd use this photo

Some tips I have from experience with these cameras:
  • Don’t shoot in dark places as the camera sucks at picking up light unless you have the flash on and you’re super close to your subject
  • Flash is best at about 3-5 ft. away from whoever you’re photographing
  • Don’t drop the camera, expose it to high humidity, or place it under a lot of pressure because you’ll damage the film
  • Candid shots come off the best
  • Buy cameras in bulk on sites like Ebay to save money

I’m no pro at this, but if you google disposable camera photography you can find many great examples and tips, and if you’re really a pro, you can find ways to get creative with your disposable. Just make sure to tag your photos with #theyouthemisms on social media!

Thursday, January 8, 2015

Stoppard's Secret Language

The book I got included several other plays in it. You can get The Real Inspector Hound and Other Plays by Tom Stoppard on Amazon.
I did a book review a while back. You might’ve read it. This is a new book review. If reading isn’t your thing, then make it your thing because reading is a magical activity that everyone from me to your mother will nag you into enjoying

So I’m cheating a little bit because I’m actually reviewing a play that I read. Well, technically two plays. I’m a big fan of Tom Stoppard, a Czech-turned-British playwright who’s portfolio ranges from the script of “Shakespeare in Love” to Arcadia, my all-time favorite play. A Stoppard-obsessed teacher I had recommended that I read Stoppard’s Dogg’s Hamlet, Cahoot’s Macbeth, two one act plays that are meant to be read and performed together.

The crossover between the one acts is obvious. For starters, both plays feature an abridged version of a Shakespeare play (Hamlet and Macbeth) told using original lines from the great playwright himself, albight out of context. However, intermingled with the abridged Shakespearian works Stoppard simultaneously tells the story of the people putting on the play, doing so in a combination of English and a made up language called Dogg. Dogg uses English words but assigns them a new meaning. For example, the phrase “Cretinous git” in Dogg actually means “what time is it,” while in English it’s a particularly creative insult. There’s a circular continuity to Stoppard’s use of Dogg. In the first act, “Dogg’s Hamlet,” there’s a character named Easy who only speaks English but slowly catches onto Dogg. Easy is then reinitroduced in the second act, “Cahoot’s Macbeth,” now only speaking Dogg in front of an English speaking array of characters. He speaks exclusively in Dogg until everyone else “catches” the language and transitions into Dogg as well.

I won’t spoil the plot, but the two plays are hilarious. The layers of plots, ranging from Shakespearian inventions to miscommunications due to the language barrier, are rich in jokes, if one reads between the lines. They’re also a quick read and can be done in a night, making them perfect for the school year. Plus, for anyone into Shakespeare, the puns are plenty.

What really struck me about the play was the language barrier that Stoppard set up. As I mentioned before, Dogg and English use the same words, but give them different meanings. I can’t help but relate that to slang and the stuffy English my parents and teachers use (sorry adults, but you’re out of touch). To illustrate my point, did anyone else have that cringe inducing moment in middle school where the math teacher says the correct answer is 69 and you hear the boys in the back break out laughing? No, just me? Well, that number might have a different meaning to people of different generations, if you know what I mean. We all speak English, but we all speak different versions of English.

How many times have you used the words thot, fleek, or bae, and the adults in the vicinity had no idea what you just said? Clearly, even these cool(er) adults had no idea what any of that slang meant. Again, all of it’s English, just different versions of English. The generation gap creates the same sort of language barrier that Dogg does in Stoppard’s work. Older people even catch onto slang the more time they hear it the same way Stoppard’s character’s catch onto Dogg.

Stoppard was trying to make a lot of points in not a lot of space with Dogg’s Hamlet, Cahoot’s Macbeth, but what I really took away from it was his comments on language. The two plays show that language is largely an arbitrary set of sounds that are assigned a meaning, something we often forget. Languages evolve and change, much as the people who speak them. I think we forget how much of a role we play in changing the phonetic landscape of a language, especially when it comes to slang. Stoppard’s plays were a fresh and funny reminder of both the power and powerlessness of words, all in just seventy pages.

So, I have nothing left to read. Comment with a book recommendation for me, or use #theyouthemisms on social media with your book recommendation so that I can see it!

Sunday, January 4, 2015

New Year, New You

Drawing By Stephanie Smelyansky
Happy New Year, kiddies!

It’s 2015! With that, both 2014 and the holiday season have officially come to a close. The end of the holiday season also means the end of my excessive food consumption (though my waistline hasn’t stretched that much). In general, the end of 2014 for me means the end of my unhealthy habits.

I have a New Years Resolution, something I rarely do, so 2015 must be really special because I’m actually setting a year long goal. This year, I solemnly swear to take care of my body. While 2014 was an awesome year, it was also a really stressful one, full of college applications, AP classes, and drama. Amidst all the chaos, I often neglected my body by not working out, eating like a teenage boy, and sleeping at the oddest times for the shortest periods. Any muscle tone I previously had converted itself to mush and I constantly felt tired. I basically felt like a grandma, and I’m eighteen. Something’s gotta change.

2015 is going to be a big year of change for me. I’m graduating high school and going to college, which is pretty epic and scary. I know college will be a whirlwind of excitement and stress, but to manage the stress, I want to get into a routine of taking care of myself early. As in now. I’ve split this goal into four sections: working out, eating clean, hygiene, and me-time.

The most obvious way to take care of myself is to work out. Duh. For second semester, I’m enrolled in a super intense aerobics class at school for fifty minutes every day. On top of that, I plan on getting a gym membership and going to the gym at least twice a week. I know that I need to work out at a gym because watching other people work out motivates me (also because when I work out at home I end up lying down on the couch with a bag of chips). To diversify my workouts, I’ve come up with this adorable Ryan Gosling jar full of short thirty minute workouts that target various parts of the body. And shirtless Ryan Gosling is wonderful motivation.

The second most obvious way I’m taking care of myself is to eat clean. I have a bit of an unhealthy chocolate addiction that leaves me reaching for a Snickers bar. To combat that, I’ve bought an obscene amount of cacao nibs, which satisfy the chocolate craving without all the preservatives and sugars. In general, I plan on eating more fruits and veggies and less carbs (ahem, pasta). I also want to cook more for myself, partially because I love cooking but also because I get control over what goes into my food. Food should energize me, not just sustain me until my next meal.

Now hygiene...I promise I’m already a hygienic person! I floss, I shower regularly, the works. By hygiene, I mean that I want to take better care of myself from the outside as well as the inside. This means taking an extra few minutes at night to massage some lavender oil or body lotion into my skin or blow drying my hair rather than going to bed with wet hair. I want to spend more time on the little things that make me feel good on the outside as well as the inside.

Finally, I want to spend more time on myself. Between schoolwork and hanging out with friends I forget to take a quiet moment to myself. This year, I promise myself to find time to light a scented candle, make a cup of chai, and curl up with a good Jane Austen book. If I want to do something, like see a movie or go to a museum, I won’t wait for others to come with me. I’ll take myself on a date and I’ll get some good sushi for dinner while I’m at it!

There you go. That’s my New Year’s resolution. I doubt I’m the only girl out there that just wants to better care of herself. With that, I want to know what your resolutions are and how you’re achieving them! Post a picture on twitter or instagram and tag it with #theyouthemisms so I can see all your resolutions!