Friday, August 28, 2009


It didn't seem right to make fun of Twilight when I'd only seen the movie, so I forced myself through the bloated book. The book isn't quite as absurd as the movie (the movie version of Bella's interest in Edward was more baffling) but even trying to picture myself as a fourteen-year-old, I still can't find the reason for the outpour of love for the book; which might be more than a wee bit hypocritical given I saw these Team Eric shirts this weekend and my Id yelled about wanting one. The most positive thing I can say about the Twilight book is that I was expecting worse writing.

There is one part of the book that's glossed over in the movie that makes me a little uneasy: Bella looks up the, um, symptoms of vampirism, and while the websites don't mention sparkling, they do say that vampires are colder to the touch than normal, extemely pale, and have eyes that change color. Yikes. I've said before I'm often colder than everyone else, my skin is as pale as milk, and my eyes roam the blue-gray-green palettes depending on my mood and health. Do I need to be wary of teenage girls holding wooden stakes? I've already admitted to vastly prefering this vampire to this one, surely that's already a strike against me...

"My vampire, my vampire's fine. My vampire, my vampire's OK. He wants to break the rules I've made. He wants to crash my castle gate. Prince of Darkness you woke up too late." - Soho Dolls, My Vampire

Design Star

Okay, I'll admit it. Even though I generally rag on people who watch a lot of reality shows, I do watch them occasionally myself. There's no Last Comic Standing this year (my favorite came in 3rd last year, and my 2nd favorite won) so I've been drawn into something else...

I love this show. Truly. I can't believe that I missed three seasons of this! There are only 4 of the 10 contestants left, so I've already had the pleasure of watching all the annoying people get booted. This week was a little harsh, though, because even though I didn't like Jason at first, he grew on me.

I'm hoping Torie goes next, because she's my least favorite of the ones remaining and it's clear that the judges weren't impressed with her presenting. I'm rooting for Antonio to win, but I like Lonni too, and Dan too to some degree though he's a bit too young and relentlessly cheerful to be taken seriously. Dan's apple-themed white room challenge was beyond belief, though which makes it clear he's a good designer, so who knows, maybe he'll beat Lonni out for second before the end.

This week one of the judges called Antonio the "Tony Soprano of design" which I think was a good thing. Besides the fact that he's a darn good designer, I'm tickled by the idea of a tattoo'd straight 40 year old guy possibly winning the show. Not so much for an easy on the eyes factor (unlike say, Frank Fontana) but more like Angelo Surmelis, who I always think of as "Interior Design with Lex Luthor." Yes, always. I've watched an ungodly amount of HGTV at my mother's behest over the years.

If Antonio wins, I might even watch his show on my own.

"Cold. I wanna be keepin' you warm. I got the right temperature for shelter you from the storm" - Sean Paul, Temperature

Sunday, August 23, 2009

Point Of Prayer

Prayer is one of those things that non-believers like to bring up as a gotcha, asking why we faithful continue to pray when all prayers are not answered. The thing is, though, that they are all answered. But, as some wisely point out, sometimes the answer is no.

I'll admit that I pray as much out of habit as piety. There are those with unshakable faith in God, but I'm not one of those people. I'm not entirely convinced that there is anyone listening to us, but I'm more convinced than not. So I pray and hope that I'm not wrong about God, an after life, salvation.

Prayer isn't just about asking for things for yourself and others. It's also a way to direct yourself towards things within your power. While it's true that my newest prayers do include asking that an *elderly friend regains his health, that Flora remains safe, and that friends have easy deliveries and perfect babies, but I also pray lately that I will be more productive when it comes to writing, that I'll resist temptations - sweets mostly. I have more of a will to avoid other excesses - and waste no further energy on men who are unattainable (maybe I'll finally learn to not be fooled by those who are attached but take a damn long time to get around to mentioning girlfriends) and really, those are things within my control. Mostly. So, one of the values of prayer is to force yourself to contemplate what you need to do to be a better person. If some spiritual entity is helping us get there, all the better. Another is to make you evaluate your weaknesses honestly, which is something that the world could do with a lot more people doing.

I do have more faith than to shrug and say "it can't hurt" but I don't fault those people much either. CYA is a legitimate strategy as long as it doesn't harm anyone else, and it's hard to think of ways that prayer can hurt anyone. Of course, I also don't think we should pray for the favored outcomes of things as frivolous as sporting events or as serious as war.

* When I saw him today I told him that I'm keeping him in my thoughts. I've known him for eight years and religion has never come up, so I'm not sure how he'd feel about being prayed for. I hope good, but you never know.

"Lie awake, lie awake because you don't know who you are. Lie awake, lie awake because you know just who you are." - Wyrick, Inside Out

Sunday, August 16, 2009

Immigration Woes

Right now a nice boy is hurting, and there's nothing we can do about it. The whole situation strikes me as damn unfair, too.

Vynce met *Joe a year after I met C, and they've been best friends ever since. He was a nice kid then, and still is at twenty-five. It's still a little hard to think of the gangly 14-year-old I once met as a grownup, but he is, of course. Three years ago Joe met a girl, Flora, from Indonesia and started dating her a couple of years ago. He's been saving up money to buy her a ring.

A few months ago Flora discovered that her mother had never applied for citizenship for her and her siblings after being granted a visa to escape danger at home; she was still a child when they arrived here, and was under the impression that citizenship had been an issue settled years ago. It was a terrible shock to both Flora and Joe, but they jumped through all the required legal hoops in hopes of getting the immigration folks to change their minds.

Flora, along with her siblings and Mom, are being deported in less than a week.

They're being told that she only has to stay in Indonesia for a year before being granted a fiancée visa, but it's still so damn unfair. Why is it that an illegal alien from Mexico can stay here even after committing other crimes, but a girl who did nothing but believe her mother that they were here legally is being sent back to the danger she once escaped? Issues of immigration are a lot broader than our issues with Mexico, but no one seems to remember that.

At least not until a nice boy is hurt after trying to do everything right.

* Joe and Flora are similar to their real names. I know Flora probably isn't an Indonesian name.

"We're all just shades of gray in a long and frantic race to catch a dying day (I just want to get through the day.) For one second I'd slit your throat, spill blood across the floor. Put an end to this game." - The Killing Moon, Subject A

Thursday, August 13, 2009

Yahoo Answers

Does anyone else amuse themselves by giving sarcastic answers to questions at Yahoo Answers? I don't always give a sarcastic answer, since there are some earnest questions which deserve real answers. But...deliberately stupid questions and ones asking you to do their homework deserve insincere answers.

How can you resist questions like these?

Question: How to make a man penis rise with out touching it?
Answer: Study to be a magician. Then, develop a commanding voice and tell it "Rise Penis, Rise!!" If you're a good magician, it'll respond to your command. But the way magic tricks are, you might need to use some fishing line to pull the trick off.

Question: In What Ways is Batman a Byronic Hero? Give examples if you could
Answer: He's a ladies man, but not interested in settling down. Byron mentions utility belts in several of his poems.

Question: Is it annoying to moan a whole lot during sex?
Answer: It is for the neighbors listening.

Question: What is an occupation that has changed over the past 50 years?
Answer: Being a student. Used to be that students had to do their own homework, now they just ask people on the internet to do it for them.

The best part is two of the above answers were voted as "best answer" by readers. heh.

As a total aside, my home torture device arrived in the mail today. I expected this epilator to hurt quite a bit more, but it's not so bad. It sure doesn't induce screams like the Epilady from the 80s was rumored to. I wonder if any guy has been talked into trying it yet. Imagine not having to shave your beard for a month.

"Tonight make me unstoppable and I will charm, I will slice, I will dazzle, I will outshine them all" - Bloc Party, The Prayer

Sunday, August 9, 2009

HP: Half-Blood Prince (spoilers)

I finally got to see Harry Potter and The Half-Blood Prince yesterday. I liked it, but that hardly comes as a surprise because I've liked all of the movies, even the Chamber of Secrets which was based on my second least favorite book. (my least favorite of all was the last book). As with the books, the movies have gotten consistently darker too, and I can't say that I object.

Out of curiosity, no one is surprised that Hermione is my favorite character, right?

This time I didn't rewatch the older movies or reread the book as I've done in the past. I wanted to see if not having the story fresh in my mind made any difference in my enjoyment of the movie, or my notice of what was changed. Not really. I have a good memory for what I've read anyway, which in general makes me a fount of useless trivial to confuse and/or dazzle people with, so it's not as though I forgot Snape's far more bombastic speech in the book, that in the book Harry spelled so he can't move instead of failing to act as he did in the movie, that Dumbledore's behavior was much more pathetic as Harry forced him to drink the poison when they tried to get the locket...

Most of those changes worked fine in the movie, but the three of us discussed Snape afterwards: if you hadn't read the book, you'd probably be really confused by Snape's throw away line that reveals that he's the half-blood prince. They totally cut out all explanation of what made him it, and eliminated a lot of the effort Harry, Hermione and Ron went to in order to try to discover the identity of the HBP. That, and they didn't do a very good job of explaining why Harry was willing to give up the potion book after he hurt Malfoy: in the book he didn't know what the spell did, and was horrified to discover that it cut the victim up. Sure, they showed Malfoy bleeding, but not Harry's guilt.

We'll have to see what happens with the last book, which will be broken into two movies. There was so much in that book about hurry up and wait, I'm not sure why they think they need to stretch it into two movies. I'll admit that I dislike the last book the most because I wanted Harry and Hermione to end up together. She and Ron have no chemistry, so I never was able to buy their relationship. Which isn't to say that I don't like couples that bicker, because God knows that I'm the type of person who teases the hell out of guys I like myself (and the ones I like best give as good as they get), but there should be something beyond that to make a couple realistic. Look at Much Ado About Nothing, Beatrice and Benedick don't just make fun of each other and fight. I see that as lacking with R/H.

I suppose it might sound like I'm holding JK Rowling to too high a standard, but really, she's one of my role models, along with Anne Tyler and Stephen King. Some people which they could have the power, responsiblity and respect that the president commands, but I want to capture imaginations like these three do instead. That's the sort of power I'd like to hold over the masses.

"I have all of this potential building up... I'm the bullet, will you be my gun?" - The Ropes, Be My Gun

Friday, August 7, 2009

Music We Keep

So, as I promised I would, I spent an hour every day this week exercising. It sucked, but I got through it, and I plan to continue doing so. While doing my MP3 player landed on a song that made me think about how sometimes our enjoyment of certain bands was prompted by other people in our lives. Think about it, which bands do you like mostly because someone else introduced you to them?

Dad: Tom Petty. I didn't like music very much as a child, but I always liked it when Tom Petty was played.

Mom: The Moody Blues. She got me into them when I was in high school.

Vynce: No Doubt. Years ago he begged me to take him to see No Doubt if they ever played in MA, and eventually they came to Great Woods so I was obliged to see them even though I was totally turned off by their song "I'm Just A Girl." Face To Face opened and were awesome. Weezer wasn't as good as I'd expected, but they were still okay. And No Doubt? I left the concert a fan.

Lindsey: The Pixies. I never even knew they existed until Kristia's friend Lindsey lent me Doolittle. Wow.

Ryan: Depeche Mode. Before breaking my heart all those years ago, he showed me what I was missing here. At least he had good taste in music. You'll note he's not on this list...

Nich: Rasputina and a general love of cellos and violins juxtaposed with guitars.

Kevin: Crushworthy, of course - he was in that band. When he sang I could almost see what my friends thought I was missing by thinking of him as "just Kevin."

Meredith: VAST. This is the band that led me down this path. We didn't have much in common besides both hating our Americorps*Vista leader, but we did both dig this band.

So, how about you? What bands do you like can you trace back to other people?

"Do you really think she can give you more than me? Baby, I know she won't" - Ayo, Down On My Knees

Boomers Blow Up

I've been trying to figure out the whole "Obama plans to kill off the elderly with his health care plan!" blather going on seemingly everywhere lately. I make no bones about not liking the man, but the oh noes seem more than a little overblown.

I think I've cracked the riddle, though. For the first time in the past sixty-odd years, Boomers are finally finding out that it's no longer all about them. They've forced themselves into the limelight for decades, and have always demanded the most and the best, and this is one of the first serious threats to that. I suspect they thought they'd be the most important all the way to the grave.

Gee, I guess that's terrible for them to finally feel marginalized by society, and worried about not having their needs put first for a change. Gen X is the first generation to make less money than their parents, millennials are posed to make even less than we do, and Boomers played no small role in changing society to make these things a reality. It's misguided at best to look for sympathy from people they've treated the way they're now horror-stricken to be treated like themselves.

"Dropping the hammer and pulling the trigger I know now the bullet is me. I am the enemy inside of me" - Chris Cornell, Enemy

Monday, August 3, 2009

Getting Somewhere

Over the past few days I've gotten a fair amount written for that children's story I've complained about. Beyond point of view, the big problem tripping me up was trying to think of a reason why the ten-year-old protagonist's parents would let him go off for hours a day on his own in this day and age, since parents seem to keep much tighter reins on kids these days than they did when we were young. This was a huge stumbling block because the entire plot revolves around him having fantasy adventures. I finally thought of the perfect reason why his parents wouldn't be keeping tabs on him, and it has to do with that shopworn advice writers are always given, "write what you know": The ice storm.

The ice storm was an awful week for everyone, but can you imagine how much worse it would be if you had a child with autism to deal with, too? The kids I worked with would melt down if their routines were interrupted, and you can't get much more disruptive than having no power for nearly a week. I think the protagonist's parents would have their hands full with his younger brother, and real parents in that situation would probably be relieved if he and a friend were spending a lot of the daylight hours outside playing.

It's gratifying in a way to find a way to put a positive spin on one of the most uncomfortable weeks I've ever experienced too. In a way it makes it feel like it was a slightly worthwhile experience, because I feel like I can write about the miserable aftermath of that storm with some authority, as I'm sure a lot of other New Englanders can too. Of course, now I need to do some more research about the storm, but that's okay.

Does it sound odd to say that occasionally I'm grateful for writer's block? It might sound counter-intuitive, but sometimes it seems as if we struggle because we're waiting for the perfect inspiration that will make a story better, as if what we might have come to easily would be inferior to what was hard to get to. I think this new idea will make the setting far more realistic than when I intended to set the story earlier in the fall, which will provide a nice dichotomy to the fantasy elements.

I'm beginning to feel hope again that this story could be the one, and it's nice to feel hopeful about something. Maybe there's some merit to that whole one door closing another one opening thing after all... I don't think it's a coincidence that having mostly put aside some futile daydreams about something else was immediately followed by thinking of something that could be pivotal to the plot of this story.

"Given a chance I wanna be somebody. If for one dance I wanna be somebody. Open the door, it's gonna make you love me." - Kings of Leon, Be Somebody

Sunday, August 2, 2009

City Childhood

I know for a fact that some people think I'm overly secretive because I don't talk a lot about my childhood. You know why? Having people react with horror to stories you don't think are such a big deal gets tiring.

People who've lived in a rural setting their whole life are a different sort of critter than I am, and an easy illustration of this is the difference in attitudes between my dad and C's: when my father asks what our weekend plans are, and I say "wandering around Boston" he tells me to drive carefully and to have fun. C's dad insists on driving us to the train and worries that we'll be mugged or raped or murdered. And I don't just mean it was like this when we were young - he still is worried now that we're in our 30s!

Boston is not scary. Lawrence is not scary. Neither is Albany, or what I've experience of NYC. I can't imagine what it's like to be paranoid and terrified that city-dwellers are going to get you. Kind of sad, really.

As usual, I've digressed. Let me tell you some "horror" stories from my childhood.

* When I was five, my parents walked me to church on a hot summer night. Everyone from our neighborhood went, including the previously mentioned Georgie and Eric, and our friends Cal and Jonathan (most of my pre-adolescent friends were boys). I didn't think it was odd at the time that Georgie and Eric came too, but if I were older I might since they were Catholic. When we got there the grownups went to sign hymns, and us kids did art activities. Eric cried because they sent Georgie to an older class than us and Cal. After a few hours, we all walked back home.

Turns out that the reason that we went to church was because there was a very large shoot out between cops and gangs going on just a few miles from our apartment complex. The pastor opened to the general public, thinking that people would be safe there. He was right.

* We moved to the other end of Lawrence when I was eight; my family was "encouraged" to leave the other place because our mob next door neighbor's gambling ring was busted up and they thought my parents turned them in. Not long after we moved I made friends with the little girl upstairs, Kristy. She and I took ballet lessons together for two years. Sometimes my mom would babysit Kristy and her baby sister Lindsey, who was about a year younger than Vynce. Kristy's parents looked after us a couple of times too, early on. The reason it only happened early on is my parents figured out that Kristy's parents were dealing drugs after someone tried to break into our apartment a couple of times. Dad put a sign on the back door saying that the drugs were up stairs, and that solved that. The thing is, Kristy's parents were nice people. I know you're supposed to think drug dealers are scum, but they weren't. Our downstairs neighbor, who was eventually arrested for using his kids to make kiddie porn was scum, but not the drug dealers.

* There was a street near my babysitter's house that we never went down. I walked to my school for 4th grade (my third elementary school) from the babysitter's and was told never to go down "crack alley" alone. I didn't. It sounded dangerous, if it was in bad enough shape that they said it was cracked. Right? It never for a second occurred to me what was meant by "crack" at that age.

To other people stories like this sound scary. To me they're just things that were. I never felt unsafe during my childhood. People react like I should have been terrified, but... I hated living in Taunton from the ages of 18-20 a whole lot more, but I didn't feel unsafe there, either.

"I had someone to shoot, and you know I plan to lie about it." - Caledonia, Restless Year (download it here)

Saturday, August 1, 2009

July Music

I actually got through close to 2,000 mp3s downloaded in 2007. The only ones I didn't listen to from that year are 83 in Spanish. I like music in Spanish well enough, but I have to concentrate pretty hard the first time I hear a song to make out any of the words, and I haven't had fortitude for that yet. Maybe I can do a few at a time over the next few months.

Anyway, these are the songs I liked this month, and not all of them are from 2007, of course. Recognize any? Maybe I can find a few on youtube for you, but I've already quoted several so look for links in old posts too. Artist, then title, as is the only sane way to list songs.

American Analog Set - The Only One
Army Navy - Right Back Where We Started From (Maxine Nightingale cover)
Ash - You Can't Have It All
Bellaparker - The Things We Say
Brian Melo - Shine
Carbon Leaf - Another Man's Woman
Carbon Leaf - I'm on Fire (Springstein cover)
Carbon Leaf - Paloma
Colder - Confusion
Colder - Wong Baby [Issakidis Got Such a Crush Mix]
Cut Copy - Future
Death From Above 1979 - Pull Out
Demon Hunter - One Thousand Apologies
Derek Daisey - Words You Bleed
Dirty Pretty Things - You F*cking Love It
Disciple - Things Left Unsaid
Distal - Denver Is Burning
Division Kent - All You Fantasized
Doves - Kingdom Of Rust
Fischerspooner - Happy
Franz Ferdinand - You're The Reason I'm Leaving
FUKKK OFFF - Love Me Hate Me Kiss Me Kill Me
Gaz Reynolds - Plastic Girl 2005
Green Vinyl Dream - Oxygen
Holler - On and On
Hope Of The States - Blood Meridian
Howling Bells - Low Happening
IO Echo - Doorway
Jag Star - Call Me Crazy
Jag Star - Leavin'
Jake Niemi - You Lied to Me
Junior Boys - Birthday
Justice vs Simian - Never Be Alone
Kaura - Becoming
Kiddo - One Last Party
Kings of Leon - Be Somebody
Kittyviolet - Burn!
Lenny Pierce - Last Time
Malcolm Middleton & The Hold Steady - Run To You (Brian Adams cover)
Manafest - Impossible
Manta Ray - Don't Push Me
Melinda Miller - Something You Said
Mercy Rule - Summer
Mirima - Farside
Motorbaby - Fly Away
Mush - Dusk
My Little Radio - Waste Another Night
New Young Pony Club - The Bomb
Nicolas Johansen - Crush Me
Northern State - Better Already
Pillar - When Tomorrow Comes
Pinstripe - Closest Thing to Heaven
Pixies - Is She Weird
PJ Harvey - Sheela Na Gig
Point One - Oxygen
Primal Scream - Exterminator
Puppies - Keep Swimming
Rachel Sage - What If
Recliner - All Pleasure (the what would Jesus do if he had a house party? video)
RED - Break Me Down
Renÿ Thomas - Cover Your Exits
Rezound - Breathe
Rezound - Drowning
Ripped - Anodyne
Sally Sharpio - I Know
Satellite Party - Hard Life Easy
Say Hi To Your Mom - Let's Talk About Spaceships
Silverline - Letters I'll Never Send
Simple Plan - When I'm Gone
Siouxsie - Into A Swan
Styrofoam - Front to Back [feat Andrew Kenny]
Tapes N' Tapes - Insistor
Tenpenny Joke - She
The Church - Ripple
The Current - The Counting Song
The French Kicks - Only So Long
The Hush Sound - Wine Red
The Mercy - She'll Stay
The Murder City Devils - I Want a Lot Now (So Come On)
The Ropes - Kill Her Off
The Spies - Domino
The Static Age - Trauma
The Sun - Lost At Home
The Von Bondies - Crawl Through The Darkness
The Von Bondies - Pale Bride
The Wedding Present - Interstate 5 [Extended Version]
The Wrens - She Sends Kisses
Three Days Grace - Get Out Alive
Trees on Fire - Everything
Try - Like All of Us
Tsunami Bomb - Take The Reins
TV on the Radio - Playhouses
VAST - Sunday I'll Be Gone
We Are Scientists - Cash Cow
Wyrick - Call Out My Name
Wyrick - Inside Out (wish there was a video, finds like this are why I bother with Christian Metal at all)
Xavier Rudd - Fortune Teller

Bold = I have other of their songs
Italics = heard other of their songs, but didn't like them
neither = bands new to me

Speaking of music, what's the longest you've gone without knowing that you've misheard the lyrics? I only just today found out that the line in "Losing My Religion" by R.E.M. isn't "What if all these fantasies come claiming new ground" but "What if all these fantasies come flailing around." Hell, I like my version much better. I can use it in a poem, or whatever, then. Maybe I'll put it into a story as song lyrics on the radio, like I did a mishearing of "Rootless Tree" by Damien Rice - "So f*ck you, f*ck you, f*ck you And all we've been through" sounds like "f*ck you and all you didn't do" so I wrote a snipet of song around that.

"And if you’re standing there with me I’ll swear it’s a lie and I’ll still believe it Cause I came And I spoke And you ran And didn’t even wait to hear the words Or see the look in my eyes" - Guster, Love For Me (I saw them for the 1st time during that tour. not any more, though. they've sold out and totally changed their sound)