5 Reasons to Cast a Ballot

Today was a good day: I early voted in the Florida primaries. This is the second time I’ve ever voted. Even though (in Florida at least) you fill out a glorified scan-tron, I still find voting to be very rewarding, especially after this summer’s internship. Young people like ourselves have notoriously low voter turnout rates, but I don’t see why we can’t be more involved with the political process. Voting is one small action that can do a whole lot of good.

5. The Blame Game. Don’t like the way your community, county, state, or country are run? One thing you can do about that is vote. If you have the right to vote and then choose not to exercise it, then you probably shouldn’t be complaining about the decisions elected officials are making. Voting gives you the opportunity to choose your representatives in government, so vote for people whose views are like yours.

4. Youth Issues. Think about hot-button issues: the war, education, the economy. These topics affect everyone, especially the youth and our future. Politicians are politicians, and they cater to their leading demographics. They are much more likely to listen to those who do vote, and if young voters are a large voting block, we’ll get plenty of attention to our needs.

3. Democracy- Duh. In the famed Gettysburg Address, Abraham Lincoln referred to democracy as: “government of the people, by the people, for the people”. A key phrase there? By the people. Democracy doesn’t work if the citizens don’t participate.

2. History. Yesterday was the 90th anniversary of the ratification of the 19th Amendment to the U.S. Constitution, prohibiting the state and federal government from denying any citizen the right to vote based on sex. Historically, many groups of people have been disenfranchised. After all of their struggles, the least we can do is vote.

1. Current Events. Just halfway across the world, people are fighting and dying to have the right to vote and have those votes be counted. Just look at least year’s revolution in Iran after the elections. You probably know people who can’t vote because of their citizenship status or whose homelands have struggled with controversies in elections. If anything, vote for the people who don’t have a voice yet.

What do you think? Do value the right to vote? Do you vote?

~ Sarah

P.S. Casting a ballot is half the battle. It’s very important to be an informed voter. Before voting, I would recommend reading your local newspaper for thorough analysis of the candidates and amendments you may be voting on. How do you keep yourself informed? How do you know you’re making the right choice?

Quickie Reviews

So, my DVD kick continues. This is what I’ve been renting lately:

Thelma & Louise (1991)

Quick Stats: Directed and produced by Ridley Scott. Music by Hans Zimmer. Won the Academy Award for Best Original Screenplay.

Starring: Susan Sarandon, Geena Davis, Harvey Keitel, and Brad Pitt (in his first major Hollywood role).

Plot: Two best friends take a break from their unfulfilling lives for a two-day vacation. One unexpected and tragic incident at a roadside bar changes their plans and the women become fugitives.

Verdict: This is one of my mom’s favorite movies, and now that I’ve finally seen this 90’s classic, I can see why! This movie was really, really good. The acting is very solid, especially the performances of the two lovely leads. The writing was fresh and real, which is saying something considering it’s been nearly a decade since the movie’s release. Thelma & Louise is a well-done action movie with a movie. It’s about self-discovery and empowerment, but it’s unpretentious about it. After I watched the movie, I researched it (movie nerd, I know) and I found out that it was actually pretty controversial at the time. I guess since I grew up in a post-Thelma & Louise world I didn’t realize that, but the movie was a big deal. It even made the cover of Time magazine- you can read the article here. So overall, I would definitely recommend it. It’s a very worthy rental.

Once (2007)

Quick Stats: Independent Spirit Award winner for best foreign picture. Academy Award winner for Best Original Song. All songs were composed and performed by the two leads.

Starring: Glen Hansard, Markéta Irglová.

Plot: In Dublin, two struggling musicians meet and spend a week writing and playing music together.

Verdict: This movie is perfect for a rainy day. It’s so sweet and intimate, you fall in love with the leads immediately. The music is absolute wonderful- the song “Falling Slowly”, which won the Oscar, is enough reason to watch this movie. The movie is also real and relatable- the two leads were first-time actors and some of the dialogue was improvised. Once may not be as polished as some Hollywood productions, but it’s homeyness sets it apart.

Iron Man (2008)

Quick Stats: Based on the Marvel Comics character. Directed by Jon Favreau.

Starring: Robert Downey, Jr., Gwyneth Paltrow, Terrence Howard, Jeff Bridges.

Plot: An origin story focusing on Tony Stark, the playboy CEO of Stark Industries, a weapons company, turned Iron Man superhero.

Verdict: I should say first that I’m a very casual comic book fan, and I prefer Marvel over DC. I definitely didn’t know who Iron Man was until this movie came out, and I didn’t get around to watching until a few weeks ago. And no, I haven’t watched the sequel yet. The original though is a blockbuster that works. I think what sets it apart is the performances- RDJ, Paltrow, Howard, and Bridges do what award-winning actors do best: act. But is it the best superhero movie ever? I don’t know, but I think Peter Parker may be more my type.

Bright Star (2009)

Starring: Ben Whishaw, Abbie Cornish.

Plot: A biopic focusing on the famed poet John Keats and in particular his romance with his muse, Fanny Brawn, in early 19th century England.

Verdict: This was a really beautiful movie starring two beautiful people. I’ll admit at times Bright Star can be a bit slow, but the ending is very emotional and totally worth the steady build-up. If you enjoy movies or books like Pride & Prejudice, then Bright Star is a must-see. Oh, with Ben Whishaw playing Keats… well, let’s just say the English language has never been sexier.

Julie & Julia (2009)

Quick Stats: Nominated for Academy Award for Best Leading Actress. First major motion picture based on a blog (yay!).

Starring: Meryl Streep, Amy Adams, Stanley Tucci.

Plot: This movie tells two contrasting story lines. Julie (Adams), almost thirty and unsatisfied with her career, begins a blog chronicling her experience cooking through Julia Child’s epic Mastering the Art of French Cooking. Her journey is contrasted with Child (Streep) beginning her legendary culinary career.

Verdict: This was a really pleasant movie. It may not be ground-breaking in terms of the writing or direction, but it’s delightful to watch. (Although you should probably eat beforehand- all that French food can make you quite hungry!) Tucci gave a very warm performance, but Streep was absolutely remarkable.As much as I love Sandra, I think Streep was robbed of her third Oscar! The bottom line though is if you think you would enjoy this movie, you probably will!

So what do you think? Have you seen any of these movies? Any new recommendations?

~ Sarah

Born in the U.S.A.

The 4th of July is the ultimate display of American patriotism. And even though my country is far from perfect, I am a proud American citizen. I am so thankful to have been born on this land and I am eternally grateful for all the opportunities granted to me here. To celebrate, I compiled a collection of quotes that remind me of the American spirit. (All quotes via Quote Garden.)

Happy Birthday America!

“America did not invent human rights. In a very real sense human rights invented America.” Jimmy Carter

“I like to see a man proud of the place in which he lives.  I like to see a man live so that his place will be proud of him.” Abraham Lincoln

“Sometimes people call me an idealist.  Well, that is the way I know I am an American.  America is the only idealistic nation in the world.” Woodrow Wilson

“This, then, is the state of the union:  free and restless, growing and full of hope.  So it was in the beginning.  So it shall always be, while God is willing, and we are strong enough to keep the faith.” Lyndon B. Johnson

“America is another name for opportunity.  Our whole history appears like a last effort of divine providence on behalf of the human race.” Ralph Waldo Emerson

“This country will not be a good place for any of us to live in unless we make it a good place for all of us to live in.” Theodore Roosevelt

“Each man must for himself alone decide what is right and what is wrong, which course is patriotic and which isn’t.  You cannot shirk this and be a man.  To decide against your conviction is to be an unqualified and excusable traitor, both to yourself and to your country, let men label you as they may.” Mark Twain

“What we need are critical lovers of America – patriots who express their faith in their country by working to improve it.” Hubert H. Humphrey

“We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness.” Declaration of Independence

“You cannot spill a drop of American blood without spilling the blood of the whole world….We are not a nation, so much as a world.” Herman Melville

“We dare not forget that we are the heirs of that first revolution.”  John F. Kennedy


And finally, one of the greatest protest songs ever: it truly captures the fighting American spirit.

Have a safe and happy Independence Day everyone!

~ Sarah