Music: The Hopeful Romantic Mixtape

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A few years ago for Valentine’s Day, I compiled a Hopeful Romantic Mixtape – songs from my favorite artists that correspond with each chapter. Well, with the advent of this new website and the streaming availability of Spotify, I thought it was worthwhile to repost. Here’s a link to the Spotify playlist, as well as a chapter and track listing:

Chapter 1 – Being Happy
Heartless Bastards – Be So Happy

Chapter 2 – Knowing What You Want
Someone Still Loves You Boris Yeltsin – Oregon Girl

Chapter 3 – First Contact
Eli “Paperboy” Reed & The True Loves – Am I Wasting My Time

Chapter 4 – First Date, First Kiss
Flight of the Concords – A Kiss Is Not A Contract

Chapter 5 – Differences
Wilco – Pick Up The Change

Chapter 6 – Growing In Love, Then Falling In Love
Ben Kweller – Falling

Chapter 7 – Dead End Relationships
Feist – Inside And Out

Chapter 8 – The Art of the Breakup
Loretta Lynn – Mrs. Leroy Brown

Chapter 9 – Recovery
Limbeck – Honk + Wave

Chapter 10 – Is This Person the One?
Patrick Wolf – The Magic Position

Chapter 11 – Appreciation + Compromise
Golden Shoulders – Patience Darling, Patience

Chapter 12 – Being Happy Together
Jens Lekman – Someone to Share My Life With

That last song was Melissa and I’s first dance at our wedding!

I’ll try to update this playlist every Valentine’s Day. So look for a new one next February!

Photo via Flickr user le vent le cri

Movie Review: My Big Fat Greek Wedding

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The recent post about the sad state of affairs for romantic comedies got me thinking. A common plot point in some of these movies is when one (or both) of the main characters has a big secret when they start dating. Now, there are good examples of this – 10 Things I Hate About You and Never Been Kissed both come to mind. And there are many more that fall short of expectations.

Then I tried to think of a movie that had the opposite plot device, where the lead characters were completely honest with each other up front, and My Big Fat Greek Wedding immediately came to mind. In fact, this movie showcases many good, Hopeful Romantic type traits…

The lead female character Toula (played by Nia Vardalos) begins the movie as a hostess working in her family’s Greek restaurant. She is severely relationship-challenged as her family expects her to marry a nice Greek boy. One day, a teacher named Ian Miller (played by John Corbit) is eating with his friend at Toula’s restaurant, and Toula immediately falls for him. But how can a shy, somewhat depressed hostess ever hope to attract someone like Ian?

Well, Toula devises a plan with her mother and aunt to advance her career by going to college, taking some computer classes, and then work in the family-run travel agency. With her life finally starting to improve, who might randomly walk into the store? Ian Miller, of course! They start dating, and Ian wants to take Toula to this great Greek restaurant he’s been to. Rather than lie because she’s too embarrassed, she immediately admits that it is her family’s restaurant and that she used to work there. And guess what… it’s not a big deal. Being honest, especially at the beginning of a relationship, can save plenty of headaches later on.

Their dating progresses quickly, with a little backlash from her father since Ian isn’t a Greek Orthodox Christian, but eventually Ian comes to propose to Toula. And not just propose; because he’s met her family and knows how deeply they are involved in the Greek Orthodox Church, Ian agrees to become baptized so that he and Toula can be married in her Church. What a guy!

All in all, a great flick for the Hopeful Romantic. She realized she wasn’t happy with her life, changed her career path, was able to attract and start dating a great guy, they were honest with each other from the start, and he knew she was the one so much that he got baptized in order to marry her with her family’s blessing.

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Guys, would you do this in order to marry the person you loved?

Are Diamonds Really a Girl’s Best Friend?

Shiney #1 (Returned)

The diamond invention—the creation of the idea that diamonds are rare and valuable, and are essential signs of esteem—is a relatively recent development in the history of the diamond trade. Until the late nineteenth century, diamonds were found only in a few riverbeds in India and in the jungles of Brazil, and the entire world production of gem diamonds amounted to a few pounds a year. In 1870, however, huge diamond mines were discovered near the Orange River, in South Africa, where diamonds were soon being scooped out by the ton. Suddenly, the market was deluged with diamonds. The British financiers who had organized the South African mines quickly realized that their investment was endangered; diamonds had little intrinsic value—and their price depended almost entirely on their scarcity. The financiers feared that when new mines were developed in South Africa, diamonds would become at best only semiprecious gems.

The major investors in the diamond mines realized that they had no alternative but to merge their interests into a single entity that would be powerful enough to control production and perpetuate the illusion of scarcity of diamonds. The instrument they created, in 1888, was called De Beers Consolidated Mines, Ltd., incorporated in South Africa. As De Beers took control of all aspects of the world diamond trade, it assumed many forms. In London, it operated under the innocuous name of the Diamond Trading Company. In Israel, it was known as “The Syndicate.” In Europe, it was called the “C.S.O.” — initials referring to the Central Selling Organization, which was an arm of the Diamond Trading Company. And in black Africa, it disguised its South African origins under subsidiaries with names like Diamond Development Corporation and Mining Services, Inc. At its height — for most of this century — it not only either directly owned or controlled all the diamond mines in southern Africa but also owned diamond trading companies in England, Portugal, Israel, Belgium, Holland, and Switzerland.

De Beers proved to be the most successful cartel arrangement in the annals of modern commerce. While other commodities, such as gold, silver, copper, rubber, and grains, fluctuated wildly in response to economic conditions, diamonds have continued, with few exceptions, to advance upward in price every year since the Depression. Indeed, the cartel seemed so superbly in control of prices — and unassailable — that, in the late 1970s, even speculators began buying diamonds as a guard against the vagaries of inflation and recession.

Apparently not. According to this article, we all have been subjected to the collective willpower of a diamond cartel and brilliant advertising campaign over the last 100+ years.

Again, when deciding to propose to your significant other – you don’t need a ring if the moment is right.

Image via Flickr user ilovebutter