Archive for the ‘Rants’ Category

So Let Me Get This Straight: Lady Gaga, Body Image, and The Media

September 27, 2012 - 7:25 pm No Comments

Note: This post was so popular on my Facebook and Tumblr I’ve decided to post it here for posterity. Could this be a sign of new posts to come? Perhaps…

So let me get this straight: Lady Gaga puts on 25 pounds and suddenly she’s “fat.” Or putting on weight because she’s a drunk.

Right.

So she looks exactly like I do now. In fact, she’s almost exactly the same dimensions as me, head to toe.

I went to the doctor today and weighed in at 115. Doc informed me I’m at “low normal” weight, but I should definitely take steps not to lose anymore or I could risk becoming unhealthy.

I don’t care what you think of Lady Gaga. I don’t care what you think of her music. I don’t care what you think of me.

But what the fuck is wrong with this society when a woman who is at a normal to low weight for her size is “fat” because she put on weight, even if it only takes her to the low side of what is considered conventionally healthy, conventions which are, in this country, skewed to hell in the first place.

What. The. Fuck.

We are so fatphobic, so disgustingly focused on extremes, that a woman who admits to weight gain is automatically shamed.

Don’t… don’t even get me started on using “fat” as an insult. Don’t even get me started on what is and isn’t healthy and who the fuck we are to judge what people should and shouldn’t do to their bodies. Don’t even make me go there. That’s a different issue for a different time. But this… This is a new fucking low, society, and I’m seriously angry with you.

Go to your room.

The Over-Producers

February 5, 2012 - 12:40 am 1 Comment

Maybe this is a feeling you’ve all had.

Maybe I’m just a pretentious bint.

But I hate music that sounds like it has a purpose.

You know what I’m talking about, you must. Music that was made to fit a sound. And I’m not talking about shitty pop music (though don’t get me wrong, a lot of shitty pop music does fall into this category). I’m talking about the bands who are so obsessed with the way they’re supposed to sound (she said, oozing disdain) that they forget they’re making music, and the music ceases to be for the music’s sake, and it becomes for the sound’s sake.

I’m not making any sense.

Let me give you an example.

The Hush Sound.

Oh, don’t get all up-in-arms, I actually like The Hush Sound. I like their weird folk cabaret hipster pop thing that they’ve got going on.

But I would love The Hush Sound if they weren’t so obsessed with sounding like a weird folk cabaret hipster pop band and just wrote songs that sounded like weird folk cabaret hipster pop. But they aren’t. It’s apparent in all of their full-length albums that the idea of the sound comes before the actual writing of the music. There are a few songs that really get me, songs that are just piano and a lonely vocal track, songs powerful enough to make me cry. Songs I love. And then the next song will come on and it’s all fun and bebop-y and I could love it. But it’s just not honest.

And I’m not just hating on The Hush Sound. I’ll throw Sara Bareilles, A Fine Frenzy, and even Editors (which is a band I really do enjoy) into this category.

I don’t know what studios produce these acts. I don’t care. I just know I can feel the studio when I listen to their music. I can smell it. I can taste it. And it tastes like sodium. Like high-fructose corn syrup. Maybe delicious, but fake, processed, and really not good for you.

It’s not bad music. Some of it is good music. Some of it is great music. But it’s false, and that’s what kills me. It’s putting the cart before the horse. It’s okay if you know how you want your song to sound before you write it, but when the whole of your music is shaped by the idea of the band you always wanted to be (or, if I’m allowed to be really cynical here for a moment, the idea of the music you want to sell), it’s time to take a step back, listen to your heart, and write something honest. Even if it’s not entirely what you thought it would be.

That might even be the point.

The Art of the Mixtape

January 3, 2012 - 9:36 pm 2 Comments

Let me tell you.

There is a hell of a lot more to making a mixtape then just throwing some songs together.

I talk about music a lot on this blog, because it’s always been a major part of my life. From the time I was born, it was more to me than just melodies and lyrics. My dad is a guitarist; my mom played the piano. Both of them are very, shall we say, musically active; they keep up with new stuff, they take an active interest in knowing what’s out there, they still go to shows. Hell, I take them to shows. They even named me after a song. They played music for me in the cradle, everything from Black Sabbath to The Beatles to Bach. I knew how to work a record player before I knew how to work a microwave. (I’m still not entirely sure why a microwave has so many options. If it’s that difficult, put it on the stove.)

Now that I’m older, to repay them, for my parents I make mixtapes.

As gifts for my nearest and dearest friends, I make mixtapes.

When I’m feeling bored or sad or lonely I make mixtapes.

But there is so much more than just throwing a bunch of tracks together.

Mixtapes are something that should be crafted with purpose: an idea pops into your head and you think you could show someone exactly what you mean with music; you hear a song that doesn’t just remind you of another song, it speaks to you about another song; a time in your life is defined by a series of tracks you can’t ever hear again without thinking about that moment, and you can’t ever think about that moment without hearing those songs. Mixtapes are like chapters in books that make up our lives; they’re the narration, not the soundtrack, and all we do is following along. Giving someone a mixtape, a well thought-out mixtape, is a gift that speaks to thoughtfulness and concern and shared emotions and memories.

When you make a mixtape, every song has to say something. It could be musically or lyrically, but it has to be part of a consistent flow. One off song can ruin the entire mix. A truly successful mixtape should go so smoothly from song to song you hardly realised the track changed, but should hold you so captive you wait and watch for each song to pass to the next.

When you make a mixtape, you have to think like you’re writing a paper. You need an introduction, and then you need a thesis statement. You need supporting information but you can’t be redundant. You need a conclusion supported by the information you’ve just given, and more than that, you need each paragraph to be in the right order. And then, if you’re feeling really, very confident, you can say something clever in closing that’ll stick with the reader – or in this case, the listener – even after they’ve reviewed the paper and moved on. Even after they’ve taken their headphones off and walked away.

A mixtape, all on its own, all by itself, with no additional media, should convey a message.

It should create an environment, or a moment, or a relationship, inside your head.

It should be one, whole, complete entity.

A mixtape is not just a collection of similar tracks thrown together.

A mixtape is a collaboration on the part of artists and one independent adjudicator, working together without ever speaking.

A mixtape is powerful and meaningful and beautiful.

A mixtape, when properly constructed, is a work of art.


Someone whose mixtape-creating ability I have always respected is William the Bloody, formerly of William’s Bloody Hell. You can now find him on his Twitter, still making awesome mixes. He sent me two for Christmas. Don’t let me forget, I owe him.

Lately I’ve been exchanging a lot of mixtapes with MannequinneHands. You can see a little of her work on her 8tracks account. Her mixtapes are so carefully crafted. They’re utterly magical.

If you want to see some of my own mixtapes, you’re more than welcome to check out my 8tracks, where I am Paperclippe as per usual. I’ve been adding about one a week, on average, and I always update old mixes when I hear something new that belongs.

And I would be remiss if I didn’t mention that one of the best Christmas gifts I’ve ever received was a mixtape from @wackfiend. I put it on on New Year’s Eve and I’m pretty sure it made my year.

If you’re asking yourself what an 8tracks is, you should really go to http://8tracks.com and check it out. It’s the rebirth of mixtapes as we know it, especially for people who are a) too broke to buy blank CDs or b) make mixtapes too long to fit on CDs or c) want to share a mix with someone instantly. I am all three of those things. Even if you don’t make your own mixes, it’s worth a look just to see what other people create. It’s also an amazing way to discover new music in a more personal way than something like Pandora or last.fm, and I’ve found it’s also a hell of a lot more accurate. You can never substitute the human touch entirely.

So go on. Get mixing. Make some art.

It’s Enough to Give a Girl a Headache

September 22, 2011 - 1:20 pm 5 Comments

This is a more personal post than I normally put on this site, so I hope you’ll bear with me.  It’s about something that’s had a huge impact on my life, and it’s because of that that I’m making this an actual post instead of a multi-tweet rant; it’s something I’d like to be able to point people to when they have questions without repeating myself or getting frustrated, which is something I’m entirely guilty of, especially when in my current state.  It’s a bit long, and a bit wordy, and I hope you’ll understand.

I get migraines.

In fact, I have one right now.  Which is why it took me ten minutes to write a three-sentence long paragraph.

I think people in this day and age, generally, are aware of the pain migraines cause.  It wasn’t very long ago, however, that even the medical community thought migraines were a disorder exclusive to women brought on by hormones or hysteria or worse still, were nothing more than pleas for attention from lonely young mothers with children.  And the pain?  Either they were greatly exaggerating or making it up all together.  While it is true that women are more prone to migraines and hormones do indeed play a major role in migraines for some people, they are definitely a real condition which causes real, and sometimes boarder-line unbearable, pain.  And they certainly have nothing to do with attention.  In fact, I’d bet you dollars to donuts that if you try to give attention to a person suffering a migraine, they with either a) cry b) politely ask you to leave and lock the door behind you or c) shoot you.  That last one might seem a little extreme, sure, but you’ve gotta do what you’ve gotta do.  And you also have to have a sense of humor about these things or you might just end up pointing the gun in the other direction.

If you’ve never encountered pain that could be considered almost unbearable, let me ask you a question: do you know the definition of the word ‘writhe’?  Dictionary.com has this to say on the subject:

1. to twist the body about, or squirm, as in pain, violent effort, etc.
2. to shrink mentally, as in acute discomfort.

Both of those are pretty applicable to the activities you’ll be performing when you have a migraine.  You’ll also become very religious, whatever your former spiritual persuasion.

In fact, I’ve got a pretty strong theory that most exorcisms are actually archaic migraine treatments.  And about as likely to work as just about anything else, really.

You’ll put a frozen steak on your head even if you’re a vegetarian, you’ll drink more water than a marathon runner, and if you’re very very lucky and lie very very still, you won’t vomit it all up again.

You’ll also probably swallow a lot of pills.

Like many (probably most) Americans, I don’t have health insurance, and I don’t have the kind of money to be seen for what’s 99% certain to be a lifelong condition and then chuck out more cash for non-painkiller migraine pills that rarely work or painkiller migraine pills that will just make me stoned all the time (or worse, migraine pills that take away my migraine pain but cause a completely new kind of pain in the back of my neck so horrific I’m paralyzed for 24 hours thanks Imitrex!).  So I take Excedrin Migraine.  And that shit works.  Boy howdy does it work.  But unfortunately it’s chock full of caffeine and aspirin and acetaminophen in extremely high doses, all things which on their own can upset even the most steely of stomachs.

And guess what else upsets your stomach.

And if you have a persistent migraine, you have to take upkeep doses, so even if you’re pain-free, you’re jittery and more hyperactive than a twelve-year-old boy who’s just been given a bag of cocaine-laced confectioner’s sugar, and the threshold on your temper, on a scale of one to ten, is set to about negative six.

And if you want to sleep the pain away, and believe me, you will, you, non-insurance-having American, will take melatonin. Melatonin, according the Great and Powerful Wiki, is

a naturally occurring compound found in animals, plants and microbes.[2][3] In animals, circulating levels of the hormone melatonin vary in a daily cycle, thereby allowing the entrainment of the circadian rhythms of several biological functions.[4]Many biological effects of melatonin are produced through activation of melatonin receptors,[5] while others are due to its role as a pervasive and powerful antioxidant,[6] with a particular role in the protection of nuclear and mitochondrial DNA.[7]

In mammals, melatonin is secreted into the blood by the pineal gland in the brain. Known as the “hormone of darkness” it is secreted in darkness in both day-active (diurnal) and night-active (nocturnal) animals.

Melatonin will put you in a goddamned coma.  That is an exaggeration.  What is not an exaggeration is that if you had any plans that day and you do end up taking melatonin, you can forget about your plans.  In fact, you can forget about your day, because you’re going to sleep through it, and if you have to take an upkeep dose, you’re going to sleep through the night and maybe the following day as well, because

[o]ral caffeine may significantly increase the bioavailability of melatonin. The proposed mechanism is inhibition of CYP450 1A2 first-pass metabolism. After administration of melatonin 6 mg and caffeine 200 mg orally to 12 healthy subjects, the mean peak plasma concentration (Cmax) of melatonin increased by 137% and the area under the concentration-time curve (AUC) increased by 120%. The metabolic inhibition was greater in nonsmokers (n=6) than in smokers (n=6). The greatest effect was seen in subjects with the *1F/*1F genotype (n=7), whose melatonin Cmax increased by 202%. The half-life did not change significantly. The clinical significance of this interaction is unknown

according to drugs.com.

That’s right.  If you take this sleep-inducing hormone with a thing that would normally keep you awake, it will make you sleep up to twice as much.

And I won’t even get into the vivid dreams.

So by now, you’re in unspeakable pain, you’re bloated, nauseated, full of medication, and halfway in a coma.  So you should really probably eat something.  But you won’t want to.  I don’t care how much you love food, or what kind of cravings you have on a daily basis.  You will look in your fridge and find every item contained within a device for some sort of torture.  To say you won’t be hungry is a bit of an understatement.

Today I have had 750mg of acetaminophen, 750mg of aspirin, 195mg of caffeine (which, incidentally, is enough to be considered legally intoxicated on the stuff depending on your height and weight and oh did I mention I am five feet tall), and 3mg of melatonin.  I have have a spontaneous two hour nap and 40 ounces of water.

And I choked down half a slice of white bread.  And it was an end-piece.  And it was awful.

But honestly?  I think most people get that.  I really do.  Migraines, and the pain and discomfort associated with them as well as the drastic measures most people will go through to get rid of them, are a part of the culture at the point.

Here’s the part I don’t think a lot of people understand.  Right now, thanks to my Excedrin regimen, I am almost completely pain-free.  And I have a migraine.

Before I get into that, let me just clarify: there are tons of different types of migraines, over ten and sometimes up to twenty depending on your classification.  They all have a few basic, common symptoms: headache of a throbbing nature, persisting for four to 72 hours (yes, that’s three fucking days), nausea, and photophobia, all of which are generally exacerbated by routine activity (yes, migraines are made worse by the fact that you exist), but there are tons of different variant symptoms.  Everyone is probably aware of the ‘aura’ symptoms: seeing lights or spots, blurred vision, or ‘rings’ (hence, auras) around objects, especially those with vivid colors.  That has never once happened to me.  In fact, less than 30% of people with migraines experience auras (numbers thanks again to Wiki).  What I do get are prodrome symptoms, which are

altered mood, irritability, depression or euphoria, fatigue, yawning, excessive sleepiness, craving for certain food (e.g. chocolate), stiff muscles (especially in the neck), dizziness, hot ears, constipation or diarrhea, increased or decreased urination, and other visceral symptoms.[14] These symptoms usually precede the headache phase of the migraine attack by several hours or days.

And you know what the worst part is?  Believe me when I say it’s the euphoria.  Because you go from being amazing and talkative and happy and hungry and active and a great person to be around to absolute fucking despair.

And migraines are generally not considered a mood disorder.

Oh, and did I mention the sleeping?

Oh, and did you catch the part where these symptoms come on several days before hand?  Days.

And then there is postdrome, which, is, you guessed it:

effects of migraine … persist[ing] for some days after the main headache has ended. Many sufferers report a sore feeling in the area where the migraine was, and some report impaired thinking for a few days after the headache has passed. The patient may feel tired or “hungover” and have head pain, cognitive difficulties, gastrointestinal symptoms, mood changes, and weakness.[19] According to one summary, “Some people feel unusually refreshed or euphoric after an attack, whereas others note depression and malaise.”  (From Wiki.)

That actually makes it sound a lot better than it is.  Between pro and postdrome, I personally have experienced both binge eating and self-imposed starvation, delirium, hyperactivity, insomnia on a scale of days, flu-like symptoms, loss of hearing, loss of vision, loss of feeling in the left side of my face, and things as weird as an inability to use the same vocabulary that I would use if I had no migraine symptoms.  But I do also experience the euphoria, the restlessness that compels me to be productive, the change in my thought process that allows me to experience things differently.  In fact, during migraines where I am pain-free and not wasting your time with interminable blog posts, I make a point to read or write because I both understand and explain things differently than I do without a migraine because I’m forced by lack of blood flow to use a different part of my brain.

My dad thinks this is really cool.  And you know what, it would be a lie to say it’s not.  The pain, of course, is stupefying.  But if nothing else, it can be pretty damned interesting.

And it’s completely fair to say that migraines, and/or their symptoms, can make you a completely different person.

Now, let me make myself really really fucking clear:

I am not writing this post because I want pity.  In fact, the last thing I want is pity.

What I do want is a better understanding of something that affects the lives of millions of people, including myself and a pretty good percentage of the people I know.  Migraines are not just headaches.  Migraines are a lot more than that, and they can be tough to deal with.  But just like the migraine sufferer who wants to be left alone in a dark room, I’m not doing this for attention, except the attention that comes with understanding.  Migraines are strange beasts, and though they’ve come to the forefront of the social consciousness, at least in western culture, there’s still a lot about them that people don’t understand.  For those of us who put up with the less-common, or perhaps just less-discussed, symptoms, it can be frustrating.

This post, to be sure, is a culmination of that frustration, but it’s also born out of the questions that people have asked me.  People want to know more, and sometimes a personal experience detailing both the good and bad of a condition, even when the condition is, yes, I’ll admit, mostly very bad, can bring a little light to where once there was shadow or doubt or disbelief.

So don’t comment with sympathy (though empathy from fellow sufferers will not be turned away, because I’ve had a good long bitch, and if you want to put your personal experience in the comments to share, I welcome any additional details or information you find relevant to this post).  What I want is the most normal life I can possibly have with such a truly weird condition, and that’s not really that hard to do, most days.  What I want is for someone to read this post and have more knowledge of a common but yet poorly understood condition, for them to be brave enough to ask questions, and to seek help, if they themselves share this condition.  Having migraines is not something to be ashamed of.  It’s something to take care of, and to take care of yourself because of.  It took me a long time, and a lot of forced decisions – I dropped out of college because my migraines were so bad in my junior year that I couldn’t leave my apartment in the morning – to grasp that.  If this post does that for even one person, then writing this, as personal and potentially pity-party inducing as it is, was worth it.

I like my sponsorships like I like my coffee:

November 20, 2010 - 8:22 am 1 Comment

COVERED IN BEES

You guys.

You did it.

With ten(!!) days left in NaNoWriMo, you charming folks have gotten me one-hundred-per-cent to my goal of one-hundred-freaking-dollars!  And never once did I have to employ my tactic of selling myself to the internet by means of covering Short Skirt/Long Jacket on solo piano for $5 a pop.  Though I would have.

Not only that, but this is the first year of writing whence I am actually ahead of schedule.

You have to understand.

I never finish anthi

Last year, I managed to raise $50 and never finished my NaNo.  This year, this year is so much better.  With the confidence given to me via the support for this cause, there’s no way I won’t finish this year.  Maybe that’s a jinx, and maybe it has something to do with the fact that if I even want to wrap up the main plot thread of this ridiculous novel it’s going to take me at least another 75k words so really I’m only 1/3 of the way through it anyway and 50k is a completely arbitrary number at this point BUT LET’S GO WITH IT’S A SUCCESS.

And that’s just how you’ve helped me.  With the money donated, Offices of Letters and Light can fund their computers or employees or buy supplies for people who otherwise wouldn’t have the means to be creative.  Obviously by clicking one of the links in my previous post you can find out more about any number of these causes, but suffice is to say, go make yourselves a bowl of tomato soup and a grilled cheese, ’cause you’ve wracked up some points on the good-karma-o-meter and you deserve the lycopene.

Trust me, too, when I say that once November is over, I’ll be blogging more.  I have so many books to talk about and albums to review (OH MY GOD THE WEEPIES) and nonsense shit to discuss in an entirely one-sided conversation with myself… I gotta say, 2011 is going to be great for paperclippe.com.  It helps that I’m in charge.

Thanks again, guys.  It really means the world to me.  And of course, just because we’ve made it to my goal doesn’t mean you can’t continue to donate if you’re so compelled.  OLL can use all the help they can get.

Love to Hate

October 3, 2010 - 12:31 am 4 Comments

I made my tri-weekly library trip a little while back and picked up some new books, all of which I have currently set aside in favor of reading (or at least giving enough of a chance to) the ones I can’t renew anymore (see: at Carnegie Library, you can only renew books twice, for a totally of nine total weeks of check-out).

I’m currently really digging A Monster’s Notes by Laurie Sheck, which is sort of an experimental novel that poses the premise that Mary Shelly did not invent Frankenstein and his monster, but instead met the creature when she was young.  It’s a very esoteric collection of letters, journal entries, and notes, from the monster, Mary, her family, and other people encountered throughout the monster’s life.  It’s extremely literate and references many historical events, persons, and philosophies, especially those popular in the Victorian era.  It’s a big, thick book, but like Mark Z. Danielewski’s House of Leaves, a great deal of it is dramatic white space.  That doesn’t mean, however, that it’s quick to get through.  Much of the subject matter – leprosy, miscarriages, the deaths of children, a ship’s crew lost to die in the arctic – has kept me picking up the book, reading for hours, and putting it back down for days to digest.  Fans of horror or literary analysis, pick this up.

I also picked up Love Will Tear Us Apart by Sarah Rainone which tells a story of a group of friends through some popular alternative rock (hence the title).  It’s a good book, so far, but it brings me to the topic of this blog:

What do you do about characters you hate?

There’s a character in the novel who is exactly the kind of person I can’t stand.  He’s rude, crude, un-clever, doesn’t seem to care too much about women, and furthermore, he hates hockey.  The way the book is written, it gives brief insights into the mind of each character as first-person narrative, and every time it gets to him, I have to admit, I don’t really read anymore.  I skim the way you skim paragraphs in a math book before the actual explaining is done, the way you read the introduction of an anthology.  And I can say, it doesn’t make the book better for it.  It’s to the point where I very nearly am compelled not to pick this book up again (and probably wouldn’t if the concept weren’t so… me).

So what do you do about books you like with characters you hate?

Finally, a short list of books which I’ve read since my last book blog and feel are suggestion-worthy:

The Moon Opera by Bi Feiyu, translation by Howard Goldblatt – A very tiny book about a woman with a dark past and a big voice.  Xiao Yanqiu destroys her career in opera by throwing boiling water in the face of her understudy.  Twenty years later, when the opera is restaged, a wealthy benefactor insists Xiao Yanqiu return to the role that destroyed her.  A very quick read, extremely emotional, extremely dark.  Triggering themes, mostly self-destruction.  Graphic.

I Have the Right to Destroy Myself by Young-ha Kim, translation by Chi-Young Kim – A disturbing, gripping tale of sex and suicide, of how lives are tangled up together even when they seem unfathomably far apart, and the people who can’t bear that tangle anymore.  As you might have guessed, very bleak, but impossible to put down.  Triggering themes are prominent.

The Trade by Fred Stenson – If you enjoy historical fiction at all, you have to read this book.  It’s the story of the Hudson Bay Company, the leading enterprise from England involved in the Canadian fur trade and how the wilderness, the native peoples, and the unforgiving winters shaped the lives of the (real, but fictionalised) people who lived it.  This is one of the most compelling things I’ve ever read, and it’s completely out of my usual favorite genres.  This is a masterpiece.

So go get your read on.

I have a policy.

July 8, 2010 - 11:30 am No Comments

If I’m reading a book, which are at about a standard of 300 pages, give or take, and I find myself about one-third of the way through with no real emotion or curiosity for the rest, I put it down.  I let it go.  It may sound fickle, but there are So Many Books and So Little Time.  Obviously, I’ll give consideration if a book is 700 pages long, and if it’s less than 200 I’ll probably finish it at any rate, having only lost between 1-3 hours on it.

I am (was) reading two books, and feel nothing for them.

The first one is, as I mentioned in a previous blog post, The Black Death by John Hatcher.  As I mentioned before, it’s very dry, and distant, with very little character development.  Now, it’s a history, mostly, and I really like reading flat-out history texts, so I didn’t think that would bother me terribly.

But here’s the thing. The full title of the novel is The Black Death: A Personal History. There’s a five(ish) page preface which is pretty much just Hatcher ranting about how this isn’t just a flat-out history text, and that he wanted to get a story involved.  That there had been enough histories written.

Mr. John Hatcher, you have failed.  I’m sorry.  I’m over 100 pages in, and the facts are great, and the details of how this one tiny English village related to the rest of the world is just splendid, but everyone knows all of that already.  I am over 100 pages in and I. do. not. care. who. lives. or. dies.  And when there are actual, real characters involved, you sort of have to care.

In sum, it’s not a novel.  It’s a strong history, a weak story, and I couldn’t tell you the first thing about any of the characters involved.  So I quit.

The second book on my I Don’t Give a Damn list is An Arsonist’s Guide to Writer’s Homes in New England by Brock Clarke.

I wanted to like this.  I wanted to like this soooo bad.  The title is clever, and it is not a metaphor.  The author’s name is Brock Clarke.  Brock fucking Clarke.  That’s up there with Chuck Norris.  The narrative is clever, it’s witty, it’s a really great picture of a washed-up guy who made some mistakes and is turning his life around, it’s a really fresh look at the idiosyncrasies of suburbian life.

But I’ve read this book before.  It was called A Dirty Job by Christopher Moore, except Arsonist’s Guide lacks all of the fantasy, and… well, okay, the death thing.  But mostly the fantasy.  And the readability.

It tries way too hard.  It feels like it’s going for the joke.  There is so much crammed into one long, whining paragraph that it’s more funny if you skip half of it.  It wants to feel incidental and hap-hazard and it kind of does but not in the good way.  It just feels sad, and you’re constantly embarrassed for this guy, not in a “NO DON’T GO IN THERE” way or a “YOU DIDN’T JUST SAY THAT” way, but a “OH FOR FUCK’S SAKE YES I’VE HEARD THIS BEFORE NO I PROMISE I GET IT PLEASE STOP” way.

It’s on the nose, and the whole point was to be tongue-in-cheek, which is a completely different part of the human face.

So I quit.

Next time! Brisingr by Christopher Paolini!  Would have done it this  time!  But it really didn’t fit the theme of the post!  Because I like it!

The Nightmare’s Beginning

March 29, 2010 - 5:53 am 2 Comments

If you couldn’t tell from my post about Final Fantasy XIII, you should know that I’m a huge fan of the Final Fantasy game series. But more accurately, I’m really mostly a fan of Final Fantasy VII. My mother bought me the game at the impressionable age of ten (the PC version, how tragic, and also, big mistake Mother) and since then I have logged over 1300 hours on it, bought two different versions of it for PlayStation, own Advent Children, Dirge of Cerberus, the four CD soundtrack, a Vincent Valentine action figure, a Shin-Ra suit, a Buster Sword (no, really, a real buster sword) the official sheet music book, and a deep and spiteful hatred of Yuffie and an abiding love of Roman numerals. Not to mention I actually lost my voice – completely lost – from screaming so emphatically at Video Games Live when they played One Winged Angel as an encore.

Now, I was surfing the internet, as one with the internet is wont to do, and it struck me that I couldn’t remember the exact year that Final Fantasy VII had come out (I was feeling old, what with there now being THIRTEEN of them, and that’s if you don’t count sequels and games like Kingdom Hearts), so I popped on over to good ol’ Wikipedia to check and see. After discovering the North American PC release (June 24, 1998, the day my life was over), I scrolled through the body of the text, where I saw a little paragraph about the PlayStation III remake of Final Fantasy VII that never was.

Whence I came upon this:

In March 2010, Square Enix CEO Yoichi Wada stated that they’ll be exploring the possibility of a remake.

If you couldn’t hear that, that was the sound of my fragile heart skipping a beat, my muscles locking, and my bank account groaning, because, well, I don’t OWN a PlayStation III.

And now I have to.

Yes, yes, I know, I know, before we get all up in arms I realize that this is Wikipedia and it did cross my mind that some desperate hopeful like me who based their entire mistrust of the oil industry on the allegory of Mako long before not trusting the oil industry was cool had put that there in the hopes that text on a page would make it true, and then I realized that there was a source. A VALID source, at that. That source being this link to Kotaku. Now, I’ll save you the trouble of reading the link and therefore the idiotic comments by informing you of this second heart-crushing caveat myself: Motomu Toriyama wants to direct this prospective remake.

He directed Final Fantasy XIII.

And it sucked.

In fact, it was like a cheap rip-off of Final Fantasy VII, at least loosely plot-wise, with way too many and far less interesting characters, and, oh, no Vincent Valentine. And Cloud was a broad.

Now, if they get Nobuo Uematsu on board for this one, I’ll probably buy the damned game just for the soundtrack just like I mostly bought Advent Children to see all my favorite characters in a higher resolution, oh, and, Steve Blum (who voiced Vincent and also has done such amazing work as Spike Spiegel from Cowboy Bebop. That man has sooooo much of my money). I’m hoping that the sheer awesomitude of Final Fantasy VII in and of itself will carry this through to being realized and at the same time not sucking. Are my hopes a little more dampened than they were when this dream remake was itself just a fantasy? Perhaps. But knowing that a huge part of my childhood is important to enough people that 12 years later, they’re still continuing, revising, and honoring this story?

It kind of kicks ass.

In case you didn’t know…

January 1, 2010 - 1:01 am 5 Comments

I am ridiculously vain. I am unabashedly, unashamedly vain. I think I’m hot shit. I have big dark blue eyes and a little chin and soft hair, voluptuous breasts. I love to look at myself. People love to look at me. I’m cute as a button. I’m short. I have perfect legs.

I’m also fat.

I’m five foot and three-fourths of an inch tall, and I weigh between 150 and 160 pounds depending on how much water I feel like retaining. On the hilarious BMI scale, I sit comfortably on the hump between – now get this – overweight and obese. I wear a size 12 pair of pants (not that you’ll ever catch me in a pair of pants). I wear a 36DD bra. Modern society calls me fat.

And I could not care less.

Because both of those paragraphs are true.

I am beautiful. I am chubby. And there’s not a goddamn thing you can do about it. And I wouldn’t, either.

The thinnest I ever weighed, after a terrible bout of a near-fatal illness, was 120 pounds. I was far from skeletal, I’ll tell you, but damned if once a day I didn’t have someone asking me if I was okay. It’s not a weight at which I look correct.

Remember that BMI scale? It thinks I should weight 113 pounds. It doesn’t know that I’m fabulous. I’m like mini Crystal Renn for fuck’s sake.

It might seem contradictory, then, that my one honest new year’s resolution is to complete a vigorous yoga routine daily, and indeed, through my entire self into the five forms of yoga.

Bull. Shit.

I want to be stupidly fit. I love the idea of being in shape. But I don’t care what it makes me look like or how to makes my clothes fit or what it makes middle America think about me. I value my health and my spirituality and my flexibility. I love to dance and to jump around and to sing. But this resolution? This resolution and my 150 pounds of awesome are gonna work together and make 2010 the best year ever.

And we are gonna be famous.

Happy new year, everyone, if you’re into that sort of thing.

Can you give a kitten a home?

October 27, 2009 - 11:28 am 4 Comments

Guys, I need your help.

Last weekend I visited my friend Colleen. She lives near where Chris and I are about to move and I was very excited to see her. When we got to her apartment, we found everyone on the porch, cooing and awwing at four little kittens, strays, which were playing in the alley.

It turns out that someone up the road had a female cat which they did not fix, and when she became pregnant they kicked her out of the house, so now she and all of her babies are strays.

I am going to take these cats in. I cannot bear to watch these creatures die in the snow because someone was too lazy and careless to get their cat neutered. But here’s why I need your help.

Currently, I am already living in a two-bedroom apartment with one cat. I am supposed to have no cats. In December, Chris and I are moving into the finished basement of his parents’ house. They love cats, but they also already have one. Now, I could probably (and am going to, probably) take one of these strays, if nothing else, but they will need homes.

Also, these cats have lived outside their entire lives. They’re going to need de-wormed and to get their shots. I’m willing to do this for them (because I can’t introduce them to my cat until they are all, at least, de-wormed), but if you can spare any small amount of money to help me out here, I would appreciate it to no end.

Two of the kittens are all-black and two are black and white. I believe the mother is also black and white. As I mentioned before, they’ve been around Colleen, and will let people pet them and hold them, so they’re at least partially socialised.

If you can help with money for their shots, please donate by clicking here.

If you can actually take one of these kittens, please email me as soon as possible. I’m willing to drive anywhere within an hour’s radius of Pittsburgh to bring the kitten to you, so don’t let transportation hold you back.

And if nothing else, please spread the word. I simply can’t take all of these cats (if I could, I wouldn’t be blogging this, I would be laying in a pile of kittens).

Thanks so much for all your help.