Sunday, July 24, 2011

Movie Review: The Secret Life of the American Teenager

I was looking for a teenage sitcom to cheer me up a bit and make me remember my adolescence days, when I used to have no worries and life was so easy. Someone advised me to watch “The Secret Life of the American Teenager”. To my disappointment, this TV series pictures a life which is even worse than my adult life!

First of all, girls get pregnant at 15 and end their childhood in raising a baby or getting married. Not likely to happen in reality, although I agree, there might be some exceptions.
Boys of 16 take full responsibility of their own actions and never run away from the girls they got pregnant. How far is that from reality?

Of course, there are teenagers who really get into such troubles but what are the odds of this happening to two girls related by the same ex-boyfriend? Amy’s getting pregnant really seemed like a pure accident but Adrian’s, hmmmm, not so much. It happened in a car, she was on the pill and they used a condom… Dear producers, you succeeded to scare the hell out of all the boys looking for sex in high school!

But what struck me the most was that all the characters could ever talk about was sex. If you listen to their conversations, the phrase “having sex” comes up once a minute. I understand the producers’ concern to warn teenagers against the dangers of involving into early sexual relationships, but don’t you think repeating the word obsessively will only make them want it even more? You know how reverse psychology works.

In “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” relationships are built on whether to have sex or not, which doesn’t always reflect reality. Back in my days, we used to go to the movies, take long walks, kiss in the backyard before returning home after dates and fantasize about the other person in a totally naïve and dreamy way. Maybe things have changed since, but I still believe adolescence to be much more than an obsession with sex.

If the creators of “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” really aim to teach teenagers a lesson by presenting Amy’s or Adrian’s fate, their way of doing that is totally lame. How can you recommend young girls to take contraceptive pills at 15? Don’t you know they are totally unhealthy at that age? Restraining early ovulation can result in not being unable to conceive later on, true fact confirmed by specialists. Unless teenagers are resolute to take this road, I plead for condoms, as the perfect way to avoid early pregnancy or transmission of sexual diseases. They work in 99% of the cases. Or else, abstinence before 18.

As to the TSLOTAT dialogues, they are commonly long, iterative and boring. Characters are usually discussing insignificant issues and it seems like all they do is talk. The most commonly used phrase after “having sex” is “we have to talk”, like there’s always something important to say, but as we listen to them we realize how futile most of their conversations are.

The series started on the right foot, and I kind of enjoyed the first season, but as I moved forward to the second one, it gradually turned into a cheap soap opera. A week in the movie lasts as a week in our real life. After the first season I thought that each season’s action would end up by the beginning of the summer vacation. They weren’t able to do that during the second season and expanded the action so much that Amy’s trip to New York lasted for several episodes, which was really annoying.

The producer focuses on teenagers’ personal lives and neglects the importance of school. A teenager’s life mainly consists of studying rather than chatting in the school halls. The characters are so busy with considerations about sex or discussing apparently important subjects that they forget about what should be their main concern at their age: getting an education. How can you promote such an unhealthy perspective?

In their high school there are no real teachers (they are never there), just a counselor, who is replaced every year and interferes with the characters’ lives. It can leave viewers with the impression that school is only important for personal matters.

Parents are so involved in their children’s “secret life” that poor teenagers have no privacy at all. It’s very annoying.

I would go on and on about it, but I guess it’s useless. “The Secret Life of the American Teenager” is supposed to be life-like but it isn’t.
Dear teenagers, please don’t watch it, save your time, go to school, do whatever you like, just don’t take birth control pills and enjoy life!

Tuesday, July 12, 2011

Chambord – the Dreamlike Castle

Pick a sunny day to visit Chambord. It will be the perfect occasion to take wonderful pictures inside and outside the magnificent residence.
The estate of Chambord is part of the vast French heritage, a unique spot in France and one of the top visited castles in the world.
The huge enterprise of building the castle was initiated in 1519 when the king François I was only 25 years old. Intended not as a place to reside in but rather to brag about, Chambord’s splendors were designed to display the French monarchy’s power and wealth. The result challenged both the Spanish emperor and the English king, who subsequently couldn’t help creating their own local imitations.
Chambord is undoubtedly the most eloquent example of Renaissance architecture, including a few late medieval elements. It is in fact a synthesis of shapes and decorations beautifully combined to offer surprisingly modern for those times loggias, terraces and facades.
The initial hunting lodge grew into an extravagant château containing 426 rooms, 77 staircases and 282 fireplaces. The entire construction appears delightfully graceful and well-balanced. The perfect symmetry makes it look like a doll castle from above.
It’s a pity that François I spent only 72 days of his reign here. He used to travel a lot and Chambord was not among his numerous residences, but rather a place for hunting and showing off to special visitors, like the emperor Charles V.
The construction was later on continued and finalized by his offspring Henry II and Louis XIV.
What I really enjoyed at Chambord was:
- the famous double spiral staircase - comprises two concentric spiral flights of stairs that wind independently so that two people each taking one flight can never meet
- the coach room - an exhibition of old horse-drawn carriages
- the terraces – offer a spectacular view over the entire estate
- the park - covers 5440 hectares surrounded by a long wall enclosing a forest and a national reserve for wild animals.
I strongly recommend visiting Chambord, one of the best attractions of the Loire Valley in France. You need two hours to see the castle inside and about 2-3 hours to discover the rest of the estate. There are some very nice restaurants just across where you can have lunch in the sunshine and enjoy the lovely view.

Monday, July 4, 2011

The truth about Moldova

- Moldova is a small ex-soviet country situated in the Eastern Europe
- Moldova is the last European country to be governed by the Communist Party (until 2009)
- Moldova has EU prices and third world wages - average salary is 100 euros, 1kg of potatoes -1,5€, a pair of shoes - 80€ and home heating energy bill in winter - 90€/month.
- 50% of the Moldavian population is working abroad to support families left at home
- Moldavians are very nice and friendly people unless you ask them about their history, which is painful
- Half the inhabitants sympathize with Russia and the other half with Romania, creating an atmosphere of mistrust and dissension
- Moldova has no president for over 2 years, due to lack of political agreement between the major parties
- Moldova occupies a surface of 33846 km2 but has more political parties than any other country in the world
- Most Moldavians are nostalgic about the Communist period when their lives were secure and simple
- Corruption is almost legal in Moldova, everybody knows but nobody does anything to stop it
- Moldavians really love their country, but they have never been able to protect it from invaders and submissively yielded every time
- Moldavians are obsessed with food and fancy clothes. They cook way too much on special occasions only to eat half of it, and wear fancy clothes every day only to display their wealth
- Moldova is a country of contrasts. The poorest European country shows off the most expensive houses, cars, clothes, jewelry. But in spite of appearances, most people are actually striving to survive.