Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Trying Out for the Band...

Bummer. I got online to write today and saw that I had a comment on the last post that I did. I got so excited about it, but when I went to look, it was just a machine spamming an advertisement on Gucci purses... so I was sad. Oh well.

In a previous post, I talked about how my clarinets were some of my prized possessions. It's really a funny story how I came to play the clarinet in the first place....

My junior high school had a tradition of placing kids in either band or choir their sixth grade year of school. Those who chose to be in the band program had to go through a 'tryout' to see which instrument they would be best at playing (this was the premise, but I think in the end they just tried to fill in spots where they were lacking musicians in the upper levels of the school district's band program) .... The students would try various mouthpieces and try to make sounds with them, and the band directors would judge their faces and embouchure and lung capacities. From what I heard, it sounded like a pretty fun experience (as we were discouraged to play another person's instrument after the tryout) but in the end, a lot of people did not get their ideal instrument.

My friend Elyse for example desperately wanted to play the flute, but alas, she could not blow into the flute to make a proper sound and thus was thrown onto clarinet. (She excelled on clarinet... and play several musical instruments very very well now, but clarinet was certainly not her first pick)

 I was absent on the day of the official band tryouts, and my parents were relatively well off. They asked me what I wanted to play and I told them I wanted to play the clarinet. I received a clarinet.

Well, since I had missed the official band tryout, I was haphazardly thrown into one of the band courses, and I suppose from there they would have picked an instrument out for me. I was placed in the brass class, and felt very awkward sitting there on the first day with my clarinet in hand. I asked if there was any way I could be switched over to the woodwinds class and met a little resistance. But my parents, having just bought my instrument for me, told the band director otherwise and within a week, I was switched into the woodwinds class.

I vaguely remember some of the other students resenting me a little because I could ask to play whatever I wanted and it would be granted. They said it was because I was a 'rich girl' ...  I hated the fact that my family was well-off financially, and I would try every tactic in the book to see incredibly ordinary, but nothing ever worked. I was teased about it all the way until I graduated high-school.

My parents later told me that it had nothing to do with money. It had to do with commitment. If I wanted to play clarinet, I should be able to play clarinet, and playing what I wanted to play would inspire me to continue to play even if the going got tough (and boy did it in some lessons). And in the end, I'm glad that they pushed for my siblings and me to play our first choice instruments because I think there is some truth to it. I was very fond of that clarinet and treated it with more love and respect than any band member in junior high.

Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Little Miss Sunshine

While a majority of my days are actually pretty good and I don't find myself feeling down lately, there's still those days where I just want to throw my hands up, throw myself in bed, and never wake up again. I'm not only talking about work days; everybody gets tired of their works sometimes. I don't care how much you love your job; you just can't deny that there are days where work is the last place you want to be. It's just part of human nature. Some of the days off that I have, I just want to throw my hands up and say "Forget it, guys. I'm out of here" .... but you know what, even when I do have those awful days, there is one special little ray of sunshine that I can always count on to be there for me no matter what I say or do, and as silly as this is going to sound, it is my cats.

Shown above one of my sweet babies - Cheshire

My cats greet me at the door whenever I come home. I don't know if it's part of their grand-master escape plan or what, but it really cheers me up when I see my cats at the door there waiting for me. They all line up on the kitchen counters just inside and look at me with those cute kitty eyes and meow and want me to scratch them and pet on them, and I just love to hear them purr. I know, I know - it's not exactly the hot wife cooking dinner saying 'welcome home, sweetie' but it's close enough.

And it isn't like my partner Felicia doesn't do that. After I hang my coat and backpack off and find her wherever she is, I'm normally greeted with "hey babe, how was your day?" which is really special all on its' own.... but... humans have tiffs and humans generally hold grudges for a little while. So while I can count on Felicia's welcome-home greeting about 90% of the time, my little ray of sunshine comes from the cats - it's that unconditional pet-and-owner love

That's not to say that pets and their owners don't get into tiffs. I'm observant with my cats enough to know that each one has their own quirks and habits and routines; they don't like for them to be messed up any more than I like any of my routines messed up. For example....

Cheshire does NOT let anyone pet or brush her tummy. If you try, she will yell and sink teeth into you.
Cassie does NOT like any other cats napping in her chair. She won't fight them, but she will be vocal.
Shorty MUST have treats before bedtime. Otherwise, he'll chew plastic and make himself barf out of spite.
Gomez will NOT be satisfied unless both mamas (Felicia and me) are petting him when he announces himself. Otherwise, he will meow over and over and over until he does get your attention.

.... so yeah, they all 'get revenge' one way or another, but in the end, they still run and greet me at the door. Not all of them at once, but at least one of them.... never fails.... every day :)

Monday, March 18, 2013

A Bone to Pick with Bones

One of my favorite memories of my parents from my childhood was the elaborate Halloween parties that they used to throw. My mother was costume and facepaint artist extraordinaire not to mention really handy when it came to making props! - She would decorate the ENTIRE house in whatever theme she had decided for that year, and once a year for one month, my house was not my house but an old vampire's castle or an ancient Egyptian tomb - one year everything looked like it came straight out of an old Bugs Bunny cartoon. It was magical, and has had me enthusiastic about Halloween ever since. 

However, one Halloween encounter scared the pants off of me and it's only been very recently that I've discovered I no longer fear it (or them, I guess) ... but let me begin with a little bit of what I was like as a kid ....

My parents love to refer to the fact that as a young child, I had a hard time accepting or liking anything that wasn't 'logical' ... some prominent examples :

Mermaids? Half-fish and half-person? No way. Scary as hell.

Humpty-Dumpty? Talking egg that plummets to its' doom? Straight out of a Wes Craven film.

Talking toothbrush? Adults are messed up.

All these things and more scared the living daylights out of me. Needless to say, a few years later, I grew out of it and grew open to fantasies like wizards and unicorns and dragons, and I ate it all up. Myths and folktales have been an obsession of mine ever since. So, I ended up being quite an imaginative (if not somewhat morbid from all the uncensored Grimm's fairytalkes) kid.

One Halloween while my mom was decorating, I had been sent to my room early that night, and missed a lot of what my mom was putting up around the house. Early that morning, I got up out of bed to go use the restroom, opened my door, and came face to face with ---
In the wee hours of the morning. No warning. No other Halloween decorations around.
His name is Bucky, by the way. My mom's very own medical skeleton.

I didn't scream, but I refused to walk past it. I scrambled back into bed as quick as I could and tried to go back to sleep.

I don't know what it was about that night, but bones.... that's right - bones.... have had the pleasure of giving me shivers every time I look at them. 

One night for a Girl Scouts', we spent the night in the museum.... in the bones room (didn't sleep)

 ..... as a museum guard, I had to walk past the fossils exhibit in the dark (I generally ran)

.... and visiting the Discovery center, I couldn't bring myself to walk through a giant mouth of skeletal teeth (missed that exhibit completely) 

.... Bones struck fear into me.

.... but I've come to the conclusion that it was a weird chemical imbalance in my brain, because now that I am on a medication for my anxiety disorder, I'm not afraid of bones or skeletons at all. 
In fact, I rather enjoy them. Have sort of a morbid curiosity with them, actually.
One of my weirder hobbies is watching videos of dental procedures on

Saturday, March 16, 2013

8 Unintentionally Hilarious Titles I Found While Shelving T - Z Adult Fiction

Yet more weird titles from the library shelves...

What it is actually about : "Every family lives in an evolving story, told by all its members, inside a landscape of portentous events and characters. Their view of themselves is not shared by people looking from outside in--visitors, and particularly not relatives--for they have to see something pretty humdrum, even if, as in this case, the fecklessness they complain of is extreme. "

What my first impression was : Pedophile. I know that's horrible of me, but the first word that comes to mind is 'pedophile' and I know I'm not the only one! Eww!

[ no cover available :( ]

What it is actually about : [synopsis in Polish]
What my first impression was : Pretty sure if I do that, my arrow is going to fly right back and hit me in the forehead dead. No thanks.

What it is actually about : "In sunny California, the Vietnam War may have just ended, but nine-year-old Helen Johnson’s world is beginning to crumble. Her father, a former POW and Vietnam veteran, has become increasingly distant; her mother, a Japanese adoptee, is struggling with mental illness; and her six-year-old brother is too young to understand what’s happening. Determined to find out more about her mother’s past and with a boldness that belies her timid self-image, Helen writes to her great-uncle Hideo in Japan, beginning a journey that will take her across the ocean and through the imperial legacies of both countries.

As Hideo and his wife recount the stories of his family’s silk business in Hiroshima, their experiences in China and Japan during and after World War II, and the fate of his sister Ume, Helen’s grandmother, they discover that although their lives have been darkened by war, their future can be healed by tending their shared roots. In this beautiful debut novel, Yuko Taniguchi creates a moving story of hope and redemption, of tragedy and resilience, and of the secrets, burdens, and ultimate strength that lie in a young girl’s heart."

What my first impression was : OH SHIT WE GONNA DROWN DON'T OPEN UP THAT CLOSET!

What it is actually about : "Ezra Gordon is in the disadvantageous position of being refused tenure by an institution he loathes. His love life isn't so much a wreck as a mere stall--he's lackadaisically dating Carol, a lawyer for the college who, not to put too fine a point on it, won't put out. Driving her home from a date, he muses, "Failed husband, failed father, failed poet, failed scholar, and any minute now, failed lover." Ezra looks up a former college chum, Isaac Schwimmer, over spring break, and heads down to Los Angeles for an impromptu visit. Isaac, it turns out, is a wildly successful publisher of pornography, and he introduces Ezra to a world of parties, drinking, and easy lovin'. He also introduces him to Tessa, who rates this eye-popping description:
Her skin was the color of a perfectly roasted Thanksgiving turkey, her copious cascading hair the color of butter. Her body was at once so firmly toned and so bounteously voluptuous it seemed to belong to some other, more evolved species of primate than the people he knew; her abs alone were sufficient to force any thinking person to reconsider the eugenic advisability of passing on his own DNA.
Ah, Herr Professor in love. And under the influence of Tessa's tender ministrations, Ezra discovers the one thing he doesn't stink at: writing utterly filthy porn"

What my first impression was : aka ' Autobiography '

What it is actually about : "Girl with Curious Hair is replete with David Foster Wallace's Remarkable and unsettling reimaginations of reality. From the eerily "real," almost holographic evocations of historical figures like Lyndon Johnson and overtelevised game-show hosts and late-night comedians to the title story, where terminal punk nihilism meets Young Republicanism, Wallace renders the incredible comprehensible, the bizarre normal, the absurd hilarious, the familiar strange."

What my first impression was : This author was likely inspired by 'the girls on Amarillo Blvd' if you know what I mean.

What it is actually about : "When a friend's HIV-positive sixteen-year-old daughter goes missing, investigative reporter Stephen Larkin is enlisted to help find her. Following a trail of warring drug dealers, child prostitution and born-again Christian gangsters, it soon becomes clear that they are not the only ones looking for the girl, and that others don't care if she is found dead or alive. "

What my first impression was : No relation to Candle Cove, I hope ._. ...

What it is actually about : "His name is Jjaks. It was supposed to be Jack, but they got it wrong on his birth certificate. It wasn't the only thing to go wrong in Jjaks's life. The way his brother, Sam, treated him, that was wrong. The way his mother sent him packing when he was eight, that was wrong. The way he just can't seem to get an honest job and stay out of prison, that's very wrong. Only one thing feels right. His brother's new wife, Freddie, feels very right. She doesn't like Sam too much either. So the two of them are ditching Sam and hitting the road, together. But Freddie wants some money. And she knows where Sam keeps it hidden. And she wants Jjaks to go back and get it. And things are going very, very wrong"

What my first impression was : You can't use a Country/State/County as an adjective! "How are you today?" "Oh, I'm kinda feeling Minnesota today." "Sorry, bro, I was feeling pretty Minnesota last week when I heard the Bears lost... again."

What it is actually about : "Only in America, and only since the 1950s, has the watching of television become the communal ground, often the battle ground, of fathers and sons, as well as the place through which the rest of family experience is played out, fought out, remembered, misremembered, and made into myth and trauma -- the shows watched and loved, the shows that became the trigger for resentments, the shows that would be fought over, the box of shadowy caves that washed over mute bodies in the "TV room" (formerly known as the "living room"). In the background, as children fit or did not fit into the family mythology of good and bad TV, their budding imaginations recorded every hurt, near hurt, or imagined hurt which depressed, silent, nearly catatonic fathers could inflict upon them"

What my first impression was : Sadly, this is going to be the memoir every kid in this young generation is going to be writing, or at least it feels like it.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Literary Apocalypse: How I Know The End Is Coming


Sadly, whenever you type in '666' into the search engine nowadays, instead of getting creepy stuff - you get this :

What the hell, World? What the hell? She's not even very attractive, and neither is he. Why do we need more shows about blatant sexism and.... sex!? Isn't there already enough of this mindless drabble on TV and in our YA literature?
Try me, World; Try me! The YA scene is filled with the WORST kinds of books nowadays. So, for today's journal update, I present to you the Literary Apocalypse.

10 YA Books That Should Never Have Been Made and Will Lead To Further Dumbing Down Of The Generation To Come After Mine

10 - the Twilight saga by Stephanie Meyer
condemned because : Edward is a stalker and a pedo; Bella is a flat imitation of a character, and thanks to the pair of them - fucked up relationships are the new norm.9 - the Halo saga by Alexandra Adornetto
condemned because: Twilight for Christians. Bethany is the epitome of Mary Sue.8 - Article 5 by Kristen Simmons
condemned because : Ember is the worst female character for teens to look up to. She is stupid beyond all compare.7 - 50 Shades of Grey by E.L. James
condemned because : obviously a Twilight fanfiction and E.L. James can't write a decent paragraph to save her life.6 - Monument 14 by Emily Laybourne
condemned because : worst case of deus ex machina ever, and dystopia as an excuse to write 'kids locked in Walmart and reenact Lord of the Flies'5 - The Raft by S.A. Bodeen
condemned because : character is stupid, and her nose ring is a plot device? seriously?4 - Daniel X series by James Patterson
condemned because : Daniel X's real name is Gary Stu; everything about this is cliche awful. 3 - Maximum Ride series by James Patterson
condemned because : awful quality of writing and wtf is happening? plot2A Child Called It by Peter Selzer
condemned because : obviously written and expanded upon because of shameless CASHCOW syndrome1 - Reason to Breathe by Rebecca Donovan
comdemned because : Awful quality of writing and completely bogus characters

This is only 10 of the 1000s of awful books that are out there.
Honorable Mentions:
the House of Night series by P.C. Cast
condemned because : mean girls plus vampires equals pettiest novel series everanything written by Danielle Steel
condemned because : awful awful writing, awful awful plots

666, I excepted this --

Or something similar to it. Maybe an Iron Maiden reference.

But no, I got sex and a bunch of horrible YA romances.
Click here for a really awesome song.
Click here* if me bashing YA literature really offended you.
* NSFW ; NSFanyone really ; you've been warned*

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

8 Unintentionally Hilarious Titles I Found While Shelving Adult Fiction I-S

There are some truly strange sounding books at my library.

[no cover avaliable :( ]

What it is actually about : "A comic novel ostensibly describing the trials and tribulations of a deposed computer center director at a small college. All your standard college types are there -- professors, administrators, spies.... Spies? Well, where there are computers, there are those who are up to No Good. As well as an extravagant assortment of campus savants, all scrambling to aid -- or hinder -- the efforts to sort out the mystery. This is a boisterous romp that will keep you alternately in suspense and stitches."

What my first impression was : I can't decide if biting the wall should go under 'talented' or 'you just got owned' ... either way, OUCH.

[no cover avaliable :( ]

What it is actually about : "It's a novel told by eight or nine narrators, one per chapter, all are staff or faculty in the Slavic Languages Department of an unnamed university in Los Angeles. Most of the narrators are Russian emigres, for various reasons."

What my first impression was : An easier title would be Oxymoron

What it is actually about : "From the author of "Cosmic Sex, Close Encounters of the Sexy Kind," and "The Bad Boys' Guide to the Galaxy" comes the fourth hilarious, wildly sexy novel in the Planet Nerak series, where aliens and humans collide."

What my first impression was : I'm surprised this book isn't more popular since nearly all of the YA literature has pretty young girls dating vampires, werewolves, and angels OH MY! ... also, beastiality = do not want.

What it is actually about : "Twenty-five years after his high school graduation, David Halpert returns to a place that most people flee. But David is making his own escape—from his divorce and the death of his son. In Detroit, David learns about the double shooting of his high school girlfriend Natalie and her black half-brother, Dirk. As David becomes involved with Natalie’s sister, he will discover that both he and his hometown have reasons to hope."
What my first impression was : Umm... I like how you have one of the highest crime rates in America?

What it is actually about : "Grace Beckmann would prefer solid ground any day to the glory, freedom... and sheer terror of riding shotgun in her husband's beloved Piper Turbo Arrow. So when the couple arrive at the airport to find their plane stolen, Grace breathes a silent prayer of thanks. Unfortunately, the small aricraft is found crashed in the Rockies, with the body of a good friend inside, a victim of sabotage. "

What my first impression was : Ok, so not the funniest, but... I was initially very confused by this title. Let's see who can figure out why ;) 

What it is acutally about : "This experimental work is an enthralling amalgamation of anecdotes, aphorisms, and quotations from writers and artists, interspersed with self-reflexive comments by the Writer who has assembled them. As the title implies, this is certainly not a novel -- not in the general sense of the term. And yet a reader who follows the flow will gradually notice certain novelistic conventions insinuating themselves. Writer -- as the narrator refers to himself -- is tired of inventing characters and subjecting them to the rigors of plot development. Instead, historical personages from Dickens to Beethoven recur throughout the book: They re born, create, speak fondly or acidly of their own work and the work of others, and then die. (Death, in fact, is a major concern of Writer.) Works of art interlock and interrelate; diary entries, attributions, and critical comments jostle for position. But what at first appear to be random bits of historical trivia ultimately come together with a narrative logic: a beginning, middle, and end. So while Markson has jettisoned the standard conflict-and-resolution pattern of a novel, he nevertheless fashions a literary journey that gets somewhere. Indeed, the book s conclusion will come as an intensely moving surprise to those who reach it."

What my first impression was : THEN WHAT IS IT????? D:

[no cover avaliable :( ]

What it is actually about :  (no synopsis given)

What my first impression was : I'm not sure I want to know what this book is about.

What it is actually about :  (see cover)

What my first impression was : EVERY ITEM IN THE HOUSE MUST MAKE INTO A BED!

Saturday, March 9, 2013

Old Habits Die Hard

I've recently had a blast from the past come into my life. I rejoined the popular virtual pet and kids' MMO Neopets. I had an account years and years ago that I shared with my sister, but I can no longer remember the username nor the email associated with it. I have many funny memories regarding it. Back when Neopets was all the rage, we used to argue over who got to play when and with what pets and what we should spend our collective points on. But we needed Mom's approval and she would only approve one since we were both under 13, so we got on as best as we could, haha. I remember having to tell myself over and over that it was just a game and there were no serious consequences from it :p

So, I went ahead and created a new one. This time linked to my Facebook account so it will be hard to forget, haha. If you are a regular Neopets players, add me as your friend. I am themightyswick. One of the pets I consider my own : Bravebones : on my old account as 'adventurer365'  is not there, but once my new account is authorized. I plan to add him to my team. So we will have ....

Ruff, Lazy, Maple, and Brave : our main characters in this Neopets tale.

I can't remember being so enthusiastic about my pets last time I played, but I have become rather fond of them. Not in simply feeding and playing and virtually caring for them, but I look at them as characters, and in my head I've created these cool backstories and personas for them. Nothing serious will ever come from it, but I am comforted in the fact that my creative gears are still a-whirlling in my skull. I was a little upset the other day when I was trying to come up with revamped storylines for characters already fleshed out (I love recycling characters), and I was unable to come up with anything that satisfied me. I keep telling myself that I need to stop worrying so much about what other people think and simply write a book 'for me' ... but perhaps writing  a book for myself is harder than writing a book for everyone else, haha.

It's lonely playing Neopets by yourself though, so... I know it's not everybody's thing, but at least check it out, will you?