Weekend Links 02.28.2015

This week has been a time for coping with the aftermath of a snow day. My classes are recalibrating their schedules and I'm trying to start getting ahead.

She read only books written by people of color for a year. This is what she learned.

Poem of the week: "Tell Me Again How You Don't See Color" - Marshall Gillson

These ladies got stuck at SFO airport for an extended period of time and decided to dance it out.

This cosmetics line is cruelty free, swatched on different skin tones (POC REJOICE) and everything is $5. 

A list of the new arrivals and farewells on netflix in March. (We're getting 3 Monster High movies including the all new Haunted on March 10, but we're losing seasons 1-4 of Adventure Time)

El Museo del Prado in Madrid opened an art exhibit for the visually impaired and blind

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5FF: My Kids Will Have Awesome Names

5 Fandom Friday on HarperHoney

It's been ages since I've done 5 Fandom Friday, but I'm trying to get back on track! Brought to you by The Nerdy Girlie and Super Space Chick! Today's theme: 5 Characters You Would Name Your Kids After.

Am I positive I'll have kids? No. If I do, I'm pretty sure I do not want them to come out of my body (there are plenty of kids who need adopting!) but if I do get the opportunity to name kids, they are going to have awesome, pop culture inspired names.

Gregory Peck as Atticus Finch in To Kill A Mockingbird
(c/o Universal Pictures)
1. Atticus Finch. If it hasn't been made obvious to you by now, I love To Kill A Mockingbird. It is one of my favorite books, and I feel an affinity with it on a lot of levels. (Hello, have you noticed I'm Harper Yi, and TKAM is written by Harper Lee?) I also share a birthday with the man who played Atticus in the film, Gregory Peck. Whenever I am asked about what I'd name my kids, one of the first responses out of my mouth is always "Atticus Jackson" because it sounds awesome and lends itself to some good nicknames like AJ. Whether he grows up to be a lawyer, an actor, or a janitor, who wouldn't wanna hire someone named Atticus Jackson??

Mabel Pines from Gravity Falls
(c/o Disney)
2. Mabel Pines. It is no secret that I kind of have a thing for cute grandma names-- the kind that are uncommon but not overly stuffy ("Gertrude" and "Millicent" are pretty uncute in my opinion) like you time travelled to the 40s or 50s and started hanging out with some really cute teenaged girls-- so I've always loved the name Mabel, but when I started watching the crazy awesomeness that is Gravity Falls, my world changed and I knew that if I had a girl-child someday, I'd want to name her Mabel.

Twyla from Monster High
(c/o Mattel)
3. Twyla Boogeyman (or just Twyla). Twyla, sometimes last-name-less and sometimes listed as Twyla Boogeyman, is my favorite Monster High character. There are a lot of reasons to love her: she is one of the few characters that actively doesn't care about popularity or being liked by anyone she doesn't consider a friend. She likes fashion but not so much that it takes over her identity-- not that there's anything wrong with fashion being a big part of your identity, but I certainly appreciate the fact that there is a fashion doll character who loves her sense of style without being consumed by it. She always keeps it real and she has a really good sense of her priorities. I like the name Twyla because it's unusual-- it's not one we hear often in the US-- and I really like uncommon names since being born "Samantha" was a really unpleasant experience.

Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova in Once
(c/o Samson Films/Summit Enterprises)
4. Glen Hansard. Glen Hansard is not a fictional character, but he is the co-creator and original star of the film Once which was then turned into a musical. He starred as "guy," a fictitious version of himself in many ways. Once is one of my favorite musicals and one of my top 10 life changing films. I would seriously consider naming a child after him, but with his last name as their first name. Hansard is a cool name, don't you think?

(c/o Fox)
5. Mindy Lahiri. Okay this is nice because it's kind of a two-fer since it'd also equate to naming a kid after one of my personal heroes, Mindy Kaling, the creator of the eponymous character Mindy Lahiri from her show The Mindy Project. Mindy is seriously so amazing and funny and I love her style or humor, so I'd love to name a kid after someone who, while maybe not the most virtuous and noble person ever, is someone who is unapologetically herself. I think that's important for kids to appreciate.

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Harper Watched: A Monster In Paris

Harper Watched is a feature where I review a film I watched (or sometimes a TV show). Today we have a french animated film called A Monster In Paris

Review: A Monster In Paris
(c/o EUROPA)
Ever the fan of animated movies, I took the time off afforded by the snow day last week to watch a totally cute animated movie on Netflix: A Monster in Paris. I'd seen the trailer when it first came state-side but due to other films coming out around the same time, I wasn't particularly interested in it. On top of them making one of the headlining features the fact that it was from the same people who brought us Shark Tale (fun, but unimpressive and fluffy), the animation looked a lot like that of Hotel Transylvania which I didn't really like, so I put it out of my mind. Only recently when I watched another French animated film, Jack and the Cuckoo Clock Heart, did I regain interest in the movie since the trailer for it was built into my DVD of Jack and the Cuckoo Clock Heart. The thing that stuck out to me most, having been super into the music in Jack, was the music in the trailer.

The plot

So what is this movie about? It's set in Paris, obviously, but less obviously it's set in a steampunk-ish Paris that Jules Verne might've imagined. Even less obviously, it's set in a Paris in turmoil-- The Seine has flooded dramatically, leaving the inhabitants of the lower-lying levels of the city the exact opposite of high-and-dry. Most Parisians struggle to get from one place to another, needing to use boats and floating walk ways to get about. Many have lost homes and businesses to the flooding. The only place where business goes about as usual is up on the hill of Montmartre, where most of the story takes place. Parts of the story seem very loosely based off of The Phantom of the Opera, but it is a very distinct story and most of the references are more like mini-homages and easter eggs than heavy plot points.

We open the film learning about Paris' wet predicament and of Emile, a short, shy projectionist at a movie theater who is in love with Maude, a coworker of his at the cinema. He has a friend named Raoul (which I think is intentionally a reference to Phantom) who is a brilliant, fast-talking, kinda dorky inventor who runs a delivery service using a delivery truck he has modified in a number of unusual ways. It's named Catherine. I wish they had named the truck "Christine" instead, but I digress.

Meanwhile, Lucille, a successful singer at The Rare Bird is introduced. For her act, she wears white and wings like an angel (one might even say... an Angel of Music?). She ends up catching the eye of the wealthy police commissioner, Victor Maynott. Maynott is obsessed with himself and his ambition, even at the expense of the Parisians still struggling with the effects of the flood. Lucille is unimpressed and frankly a little disgusted with the way the commissioner acts, but nonetheless her aunt tries to encourage her to take up with him anyway.

Raoul brings Emile along for a delivery to the Botanical Garden for a Professor who is currently away in New York. The professor left his assistant, a proboscis monkey named Charles, in charge of the garden which also serves as a laboratory. Raoul and Emile go exploring the lab and end up tinkering with some potions that cause a sunflower seed to grow into a 50-foot flower, give Charles a fantastic singing voice, and makes a flea that had been living on Charles grow to 7 feet and gain a propensity for music and song. The flea escapes into the night and adventure ensues!
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How I Spend A Snow Day

Last week we had a real snow day! I spent the day holing up with my bestie, my cousin, and my little brother (from another mother). We had a really good time and had basically a big sleep over. We couldn't really leave but we had a lot of fun passing time together.

Here's how we spent our snow day:

  • making fires in the fireplace
  • watching Gravity Falls
  • making canned chili
  • roasting hot dogs in the fire
  • drinking tea
  • playing Catan
  • trying to watch Princess and the Frog but my DVD is scratched and I'm really sad about it.
  • succeeding in watching Jack and the Cuckoo Clock Heart (you can read my review of that movie here)
  • sleeping in
  • playing Settler of Catan
  • making and eating chicken curry
  • doing facials
  • being in blankets
  • reading manga
  • tumblr-ing

How do you like to spend your snow days?

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Weekend Links 02.21.2015

This week was a cold, cold week. It snowed and our apartment is so cold! We had a super fun snow day which I'll write about next week. I also got kind of sick since we've largely been unable to get the apartment's internal temperature about 60 degrees. I'm hoping to get better quickly though since I've got an exam next week. Anyway, here are your weekend links!

The Simpsons gets really real about society and I think this is such a great example of it.

Poem of the week: "Fat is Not A Feeling" by a brilliant role model, Caroline Rothstein.

Cleaning your house in 15 minutes.

I made a personal pitch video in a week and learned a whole lot from it.

This ebay listing of a haunted macbook is probably the most entertaining thing you will read all week.

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Juno: A Love Story

(via Fox Searchlight)
It's no secret that I love movies. I've done tons of reviews and I voraciously consume entertainment media and their critical analyses. In honor of Valentine's Day, I wanted to talk about one of my favorite movies about love: Juno.

Juno is not at the top of many people's love story list because it's not really a romance. I think people really do themselves a disservice by thinking of "romances" as the standard model of a love story. Anyone can fall in love. Anyone can land a date or win someone over--not just any two people, of course, but in general it's not the most difficult thing to get someone to take a chance on you. You know what's really hard? Staying together. Overcoming obstacles. Growing with each other without losing yourself in the process. Love is a lot more complicated than just "getting the guy/girl/gender non-conforming cutie."

I like movies that are about more than just winning that person over (or, "realizing that the right person was right under your nose all along") because to me they just mean more in the grand scheme of life. I rarely want a movie just about two people falling for each other, I want a movie that makes a statement about the nature of love and its meaning in the human experience. Or, more simply put, "romances" are boring and predictable. I don't "escape life" in movies by buying into them, I explore life by digging into them. That's just the kind of moviegoer I am.

I love Juno as a film about love because that's exactly what it is. I think a lot of people just sort of take it at face value as a movie about a girl dealing with her teen pregnancy. That's not what Juno is about. Juno is about the many different kinds of love that are out there, how none of them are really wrong, but how some of them don't last, and maybe they don't need to.

I'm gonna throw down a spoiler alert for anyone who hasn't seen the movie before, even though it came out 7 years ago. I know a lot of people just didn't care to see a movie about a pregnant teen since it came out around the time that the media became obsessed with the appearance of the TV show Teen Mom.
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Monster High Unboxing - Haunted Twyla!

I've done another unboxing for youtube! This most recent video is for Haunted Twyla, my favorite character from Monster High.

The other Haunted Doll that I forgot (which my roommate will kill me for) is River Styxx!

I really love this new doll and I am so excited for the movie, which is coming out on March 25 on DVD. You can preorder Monster High: Haunted  right now!

I love the visual direction that this doll line took on, from the floaty fashion, to the chains, to the sculptural stand that's so tall your Haunted doll floats in mid-air!

Twyla is a super cool character. You can check her character out in the Monster High movie 13 Wishes which is the movie where she really makes her debut.

Want to buy a Haunted doll yourself? Get one from amazon!
Also, if anyone has hints and tips for maintaining and styling Monster high Doll hair, comment below!
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February To Dos

February is here! This year's February is a "perfect month" for those of us who use Sunday-Saturday calendars. That's kind of cool don't you think? It's also of course a month filled with lovey-dovey feelings and February 15th discount chocolates. This February, let's get familiar with love in all its forms, including love for yourself.

Watch some movies that really challenge and expand your definition of love. Love is an essential human experience, and it's no surprise that a bunch of stories have been written about it-- but to be frank, sometimes the love stories we watch idealize some pretty ugly aspects of "love" (I'm looking at you, The Notebook, and Love Actually). And other stories seem to make it seem like romantic love is the only kind of love out there. That's a really boring and depressing way to see the world-- we should all totally love our friends, family, and ourselves. I challenge you to watch a movie that is about love that isn't a romance! You'll be better off for it. Some of my favorites: Her, Juno, and Dear Zachary.

Strengthen a bond with someone. Maybe it's a significant other, maybe it's your mom or sibling, maybe it's a friend you've lost touch with, or a classmate or coworker you barely know. Go out of your way and write them a nice email or letter. Take them on an adventure you've never been on together-- whether it's coffee or camping or a mani/pedi or snowboarding. Be present with them. Be honest about what they mean to you. Let them further into your world than they were before. Be a better friend, significant other, sibling, or acquaintance.

Find ways to appreciate yourself. For some reason, most people think it's weird to take time to appreciate how great you are. But you are. And thinking you're super lame and boring or whatever is not really helpful or productive. It's actually kind of the opposite of that. So taking time out to appreciate yourself is actually a decent use of time. You can do some exercises in romanticizing yourself-- because you probably don't do it enough. You can write a list of things you like about yourself and keep a journal of good things you did or accomplished each day for the whole month. Just make time to remember who you are, and ind those strengths that you can use to make the world a better place.

Create something wonderful. Making stuff builds self-esteem and makes us happier. Take some time this month to make something, whether you try your hand at painting, play with some playdoh like in the good old days, write poetry, build a robot, plan an imaginary travel adventure, or perform some songs at an open mic. Put something out there that wasn't there before. It doesn't have to be "good" or "amazing"-- it's just gotta make you happy.

What are you excited to do this month?
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5 Lessons Learned While Creating a Personal Pitch Video

I'm currently taking a course in Strategic Digital Media with Professor Dawn Edmiston, aka The Marketing Prof, and I'm learning tons about my favorite part of marketing: digital! I'm also of course, learning more importantly about how to actually do things that have an impact. Anyone can write a tweet, but can you create a twitter strategy that actually turns into revenue? That's what this class is all about.

Anyway, for the class, we were asked to turn out a a video in just a week and a half! The goal? To make a video for Youtube and LinkedIn that would basically serve as an elevator pitch of ourselves. You know, the thing you say that gets people interested in working with you in 60 seconds. I was super excited but also pretty nervous about this assignment. Luckily, my lifetime as an embarrassing person has prepared me to face such challenges with boldness, fortitude, and a high level of ability to laugh at myself.

I had tons of fun making this, and I learned a lot from turning out this project, even though I had to do it really quickly. Here are 5 lessons I learned from this project: about pitching, about video editing, and about myself.
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