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For Valentine's Day yesterday, I bought some Ghirardelli chocolates and went out to the movies with my sister and a friend. We were going to see Dead Pool. Perfect Valentine's Day movie, right?

I must admit, I didn't expect to like it. But I did. There was blood and violence everywhere, sexual jokes up the wazoo, and I still liked it.

The action was great, the romantic dynamic was perfect (they were perfect for each other - relationship goals), the main female character was both likable and interesting. The humor was genuinely funny. I think it was mostly in the delivery. Ryan Reynolds has always been funny, but here he really capitalized on that for the first time and that was fun to see.

I also liked the ending. For lots of reasons, but also because I liked how Dead Pool treated the main bad guy. I'm not going to spoil for anybody, but that was very satisfying.

I can definitely understand why it was rated R, though. Don't take your kids to see this movie. Don't be that douchebag who takes your kid to an R rated film, gets offended, and then ruins a potential sequel for everybody else.

I would watch a sequel. I would even buy this movie on DVD. I really liked it.

A lot of people are complaining that Dead Pool wasn't popular before this movie, but I kind of thought your favorite character becoming more popular was a good thing? Doesn't that lead to more movies, comics, and merchandise? My sister was always a huge Dead Pool fan, but I didn't really know much about him before watching the movie and now I'm a fan. Isn't that... a good thing?

I'm lost???

Anyway, I guess a lot of people are bothered by not having a date on Valentine's Day, but I'm not really one of those people. Relationships take effort, man, and I'm busy. I honestly had more fun with my friends than I probably would have on a date. Dates are nerve wracking and have expectations built into them. My ultimate dream is to find a guy funny and laid-back enough that I don't feel like he's putting expectations on me and like dates are a chore, but so far I have not found that guy yet.

Until then, my Valentine's Days are a friend zone. And I am happy that way.
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I read this book in particular for a writing project I'm doing. I've read one book on astrology, one on personality psychology, and this one. I still have -- wait for it -- NINE more books to read for research before I even start the writing project I have in mind. It's a fanfic, which I contend can be just as cool and meaningful as regular fiction books. I will keep you updated on which books I read for the fanfic I'm researching. See the "fem Naruto story" tag at the bottom.

Anyway, I'm reviewing this book on yokai. It's called "The Book of Yokai: Mysterious Creatures of Japanese Folklore" by Michael Dylan Foster. I read all 244 pages in less than two weeks. It's a really great read. I recommend it.

What is a yokai?

It's a Japanese demon of sorts -- more broadly, a Japanese mythical creature that can perform dark acts. I began my fascination with Japan through watching manga and anime as a kid. From there, I branched off into learning more about the culture behind these fictions I loved so much -- I read up on Japan and took on several Japanese pen pals at one point or another, read and watched blogs and vlogs on Japanese travel, tried cooking Japanese meals, researched various aspects of ancient Japanese culture, read interviews of famous Japanese artists, watched Japanese films and sampled Japanese music. I know at least something of typical Japanese religions and philosophies. I plan on starting Japanese language classes this summer. The more I learn about Japan, the more I love.

Especially given my love of fantasy in Japanese anime, it only made sense for me to buy a book on yokai.

It was a fascinating read. A lot of elements from modern Japanese stories that I had always thought were random or made up -- it turns out? They were actually deliberately referencing ancient Japanese folklore! And I've probably only just scratched the surface. Isn't that great?

Even for people who are skeptical of why ancient Japanese folklore is important should read this book, however. Foster really gets at the importance behind yokai -- their various meanings, their cultural relevance (both ancient and modern, national and international), and how they help us see the world differently. He talks about yokai history and philosophical categorization, and only then does he actually go on to discuss the yokai themselves. He gives you good background reading before diving into the various yokai there are. I really liked that part of the book.

I think this would be a good textbook for a class on Japanese culture. That was one thing that really struck me as I was reading. And it was written in 2012, so it's pretty recent. He references a lot of Japanese scholars and has a native Japanese artist render his yokai drawings, has lived and studied in Japan for a time, yet is Western himself and so can explain Japanese culture to us in a way we would understand it.

That ends the "personality research" section of my writing project. I know how this female Naruto is going to be and how being (spoiler alert) part kitsune fox demon would affect her. Now comes the "experiences research" section. More fun times ahead!
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Me, my sister, and my closest friend all had lunch together yesterday. We went to an Italian place and ate too much spaghetti and pizza and chatted. Then we went shopping around the nearby mall -- my friend bought some stuff from Old Navy.

We took our friend back to our place, where we sat around and watched movies (The Fault in Our Stars, Kill Your Darlings on Netflix). We were originally only supposed to finish Kill Your Darlings, which is about Allen Ginsberg as a young man, but then we got to the part where the two boys pretend to hang themselves, then fall off the chairs they're standing on and almost really hang themselves, then free themselves... and then laugh about it.

My friend and I, who both suffer from mental illness and have both been suicidal, felt so sick that we turned the TV off. We turned on The Fault in Our Stars instead and talked about how Augustus Waters doesn't use words like "metaphor" or "soliloquy" correctly. English major problems.

Anyway, there was lots of laughter and Googling hot celebrity guys, lots of movie analysis. It was fun!

Then we went with my friend's husband to a nighttime showing of Concussion with Will Smith, which was playing in the next town over. I don't have much to criticize. The movie was superb. Will Smith did the performance of a lifetime, and the movie was REALLY intense. Unlike with Kill Your Darlings, there was suicide in this one, but it definitely wasn't joked about.

I did like the message to Omalu's speech at the end, that people just need to know this is a risk in playing football. I enjoy football as much as the next small-town country gal, but I agree. People have to know the risks of what they're doing -- you can't just shut that up.

We had an interesting talk on the drive home later that night in the car, me and my friends. It all started with someone commenting in amazement that Omalu spent over 20,000 dollars on this personal research project into CTE. Then my friend's husband pointed out that with the houses Omalu owned and the cars he drove, as a doctor with several degrees, that might not have been such a big deal for him. He made the example of someone he knew: both he and his wife made about a hundred thousand a year, and this man decided independently to spend ten thousand a year to pay for the childcare of the daughter of a friend who was struggling. When he finally told his wife about it at the end of the year, she shrugged it off. Said she'd spent that much on a horse earlier this year. When you get wealthy enough, ten or twenty thousand doesn't really mean anything, the way it would to most ordinary people. We're not even talking about the top one percent here. Maybe, like, the top ten or twenty percent.

That's how we got to talking about how people spend their money. We talked about an experiment Howard Stern did -- he and his show gave a homeless man forty thousand dollars. The only stipulation was that they got to see over the course of one year how the man spent the forty thousand dollars. It turned out? The man bought a really nice coat and a hotel stay through the winter. But a year later, he was back in the same position he'd always been. It did not seem to have occurred to him that for forty thousand dollars, he could pay for a year of college and dorm living while looking for a job. For forty thousand, he could have bought a house -- not a great house, but a house. It's all about how you spend your money.

My friend's husband put it best with a quote from a book he'd once read. There's an old homeless man talking, and he says: "There are two kinds of poor. God's poor and the Devil's poor. God's poor are people like orphans and widows and those who would benefit from Christian charity. But then you have the Devil's poor, vagrants like me, who you can't help no matter what you try."

Unfortunately, there's a grain of truth in that.
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I finished a 500-and-some-odd page book in two and a half weeks of winter break, and I'm here to write a review. The book is "The Paying Guests" by Sarah Waters.

Ahoy, matie. There be spoilers below.

"The Paying Guests" is really about the evolution of a relationship -- a lesbian relationship set in London in the 1920's. Frances Wray and her aging mother used to be very wealthy, but have fallen on hard times and have to take in boarders. Their boarders turn out to be a handsome young couple who on the outside seem to have the perfect life.

But looks can be deceiving. Both sides are hiding things. Frances's father squandered the family fortune, her brothers died in World War I, and she's had brushes with the law in the past at pacifist and feminist protest rallies and has had to turn away from a previous lesbian relationship to take care of her mother. Meanwhile, the young couple, the Barbers, have a crumbling marriage based on lies, adultery, and lost babies. (After miscarrying the first time, Mrs Barber actually gets an illegal abortion at two different points because she doesn't want her husband's baby, and one of the abortions is described in rather brutal terms.) Neither Miss Frances Wray nor Mrs Lilian Barber seem to have a happy life.

But they find happiness in each other. They begin a secret relationship, which is evolved slowly, and rather than this being idealized and romanticized, it's quickly shown that this falls apart. First, it's made quite explicit that carrying on any sort of homosexual relationship is insanely hard in this time period. But there's more. Mr Leonard Barber finds out about his wife's adultery, and -- quite hypocritically, since he's committed adultery himself -- he tries to strangle Frances. Lilian responds by killing him from behind. The ensuing scandal as they try to cover up the truth of the death from the police nearly tears the two apart as they begin criticizing and second-guessing each other's motives, the strain and stress of their crime weighing on each of them. (One interesting point: Lilian claims the death was accidental and she just wanted to hurt her husband, but she also got a great deal of money and newfound freedom out of his death, so Frances isn't sure whether or not to believe her. Since it's all from Frances's point of view, we never really know what to think of Lilian either. This is never quite resolved. Lilian's motives remain mysterious, perhaps even to herself.)

A few thoughts on the book:

You can't help but dislike Frances and Lilian for the last third of the book. You don't feel like you're on their side anymore. A young boy is about to be convicted for their covered-up crime, but they're going to wait until he's committed to the gallows before admitting their guilt. When he's set free by the court, they never admit what they did at all. It's a triumph for the characters -- they get to be together and at least somewhat patch up their relationship at the end -- but it's also a moral failure, and the characters seem very aware of that. Basically, they get away with at least involuntary manslaughter in order to be together. That the death was in self-defense is only part of the puzzle.

I didn't really like Lilian and Frances's relationship -- until the very end. When after it all, they have that quiet moment together when they sit in alcove on the bridge and watch the passersby, close together, and a completely silent understanding passes between them. Paradoxically, even though you've stopped liking the characters, you like the relationship. It carries a heaviness and subtext that the previous, somewhat childish relationship lacked. I liked the relationship better that way -- I'm not sure what that says about me.

The pacing was a bit odd. It was slow, of course, I've said that, but for most of the book it worked. For that last third, though... it just dragged on and on and on. I'm not sure if that was intentional, to get us into the characters' trapped mindset, or if it's just a failure on the part of the author. But either way, that last section involving the murder trial and investigation centered on the young boy was torturous and agonizing in its slowness.

Also, shoutout to the deliciously complex relationship Frances has with her mother. I really liked that part. Mrs Wray in herself is a bit boring, your typical friendly and gullible little old lady used to being wealthy and Churchgoing and doing charities, but put her together with her newfound lack of money and her rebellious yet responsible and duty-bound daughter Frances... oh, and interesting things happen.

Overall, it was a good book, as you can see by the fact that I read it in less than three weeks. I would recommend it to others.
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I have dedicated myself to writing one poem each day, on everything from political opinions to things going on in my life to media I enjoy. So far, my typical volume is two or three per day. Most of them are free-form, though I do have the occasional rhyme-and-meter poems and haikus.

Writing poetry every day is so much easier than I expected it to be. I always go back and edit later, and this, also, is going amazingly smoothly. It's so relaxing and it makes me feel so accomplished.

Once I have a big enough collection of poems, I may try to send them off to different magazines and see how they are received. They're very vulnerable poems, so the idea makes me a little nervous -- poetry for me is a lesson in vulnerability.

Me and my sister are also thinking about writing songs together once we get better at singing and the guitar. (I'm teaching her music based off my own years of experience taking lessons -- and I'm practicing basic technique in the process.) We already have eight or nine song ideas written down. Every time we come up with a mutual idea or experience, I jot it down for future reference. One thing being a writer teaches you is to learn when to recognize an idea when it comes to you.

Our future songs will have a particular slant, because I know that's important in marketing and selling your work. You've got to have a sound. If there's anything I've learned from studying other musicians, it's that. Our sound so far is encapsulated by what I call the three Fs: Fearless, Feminist, and Funny.

So much creativity going on. Fun times!

Star Wars

Dec. 29th, 2015 05:36 pm
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I went to see Star Wars: The Force Awakens in theaters with my sister today.

And ohmyGod, guys. All the Star Wars. I'm full of Star Wars thoughts. Look what that movie did to me.

I wore my favorite cosplay/Halloween shirt. It says, "This is My Costume or Whatever." Me and my sister took the bus all the way across town to the nearest movie theater. It was cold. Like, really cold. And this skinny little old man on the bus kept shoving this mentally disabled girl, and she kept shoving him back. Then he moved to the front of the bus. Then she started shouting at him.

It was weird. I'm not really sure who started it, but finally the mentally disabled girl's handler finished it by telling them both, in so many words, to shut the hell up.

Me and my sister just Looked at each other. You know, like, "Holy shit. This is crazy." That kind of Look.

Then we got to the mall the theater was in, and there was a bunch of screaming kids in the lobby. Like, as in, they were actually screaming. Like they were in pain. And running around. I half expected it to go Jurassic Park and for a dinosaur to come around the corner chasing them at any second.

Why can't people control their fucking kids? Like, is that something I'm only thinking because I don't have kids? My Mom and Dad would never have let me get away with that shit. I think it's just a sign of a crappy parent.

But anyway, we finally got to the theater. We got concession snacks -- cookie dough bites and an ice cream sandwich. And we sat back, and enjoyed.

Now excuse me while I explode.

OHMYGOD GUYS REY IS SO COOL. SHE IS AWESOME. AND LEIA. AS A GENERAL. AND THE HUG.

AND THE HUG.

Also, what the fuck how is Kylo Ren THAT EMO? It must be hard. Being THAT EMO ALL THE TIME must be so hard. (Side note: Where are all his fellow students of Luke's? Did he do a Darth Vader and kill them all?) I really hope we're going to get more on why he turned to THE DARK SIDE or else I'm dismissing him as a SHITTY CHARACTER.

Fin was cool, too, but he threw his weapon away at the end to kneel dramatically at the injured Rey's feet. And I was like, "Really?" If a guy ever threw his weapon away to come to me, I'd be pissed. I'd be all like, "WHAT THE FUCK ARE YOU DOING GO KILL THAT SONUVABITCH, FUCKNUT."

Another thing that confused me: how did Fighter Pilot Dude survive? I mean, it's cool that he did and everything. It's just. How. If the Resistance saved him... why didn't they go get Robot Dude Whose Code I Can't Remember?

One thing: I was wondering why Harrison Ford got paid so much more than everybody else. And then there was that scene with Kylo Ren at the end. And I was like, "Oh. That's what they're going to do." I had winced. I was waiting for it when it happened.

I won't spoil for anybody, but afterward I was like, "Oh. That's why he was paid so much more than everybody else."

I'm not sure I liked Han Solo being that gullible, though. I guess we can forgive it, for... personal reasons.

Another thing that really struck me was how many different kinds of people were there to see Star Wars. I saw little kids. Teenagers. Parents. There was this cute, tiny little old couple sitting next to us, and in the dark on the way out I stumbled over someone's feet.

"Sorry!" I said immediately. "Can't see in the dark."

"Oh, don't worry about it!" said the little old lady. "I'm short, my feet hang!" She stood and so did he and they let us pass. "May the force be with you!" she added brightly on our way out.

We grinned. "May the force be with you!" we returned.

The bus driver on the way home was funny. "Does it always have to be aliens?" he asked incredulously. "Isn't anyone interested in reality?"

"Of course it always has to be aliens!" I returned, faux indignant.

There was a physically disabled man on the bus, and he had a walker, and the bus driver didn't want him slipping on the way to his doorway, so he just went off road. He drove off the road and straight over the side of a snowy hill and got the guy right up to his front door. It was so badass.

The bus driver got back into the bus after helping the disabled man out. It was dark and late and we were two of the only ones left. "You didn't see that, did you?" he asked gruffly.

"We didn't see anything!" my sister and I returned earnestly as one.

It was a great day. Weird, but great.

Spectre

Nov. 15th, 2015 03:42 pm
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I went to see Spectre in theaters on Saturday, with my sister and a friend. I'm here to write a review.

First, I've got to admit, I love Daniel Craig as James Bond. He and the director really got together and made something special with this series. He's human and realistic while still being Bond and I love that.

The other supporting roles in this series are also really good, though, and that continued in this movie. Fiennes was especially fantastic. And there was an interesting lead female this time, interesting for a variety of reasons: she does important things, she doesn't fall into bed with Bond immediately, she understands Bond and, most importantly, SPOILER ALERT, she survives at the end.

And now I have to admit something: I did not like her and Bond ending up together.

First, there's the fact that James Bond has some very serious issues involving getting into bed with women. I'm not sure if him ending up with one woman is realistic at all. But more than that, it felt FORCED. Their relationship felt forced and it was not built up enough.

I also must admit that the plot was a little weak. I didn't get enough of a reason for WHY Christoph Waltz's character has done all these horrible things, and how he's orchestrated them. The subplot between M and C was a little better, I thought -- more details and rationale were added.

And of course, as always with Bond, it was high adrenaline and high octane and millions-of-dollar pieces of equipment were used, discarded, and completely totaled. So that was nice. The action was good. Some of the dry quips were greatly placed at all the right high-stress moments.

What I'm saying is there were good characters and action, but the actual plot felt a bit lost in the details. I'm still putting it under "favorites", though, because Daniel Craig and James Bond.

Anyway, now it's Sunday and I'm having Vietnamese coffee and watching football at home with Cowboy Bebop Dude. He brought over a little Vietnamese coffee maker, a coffee grinder, and some condensed milk. Vietnamese coffee is sweet, but very good.
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It was dark and stormy on Halloween night, quite appropriate. Ducking against the rain, me and my sister ran out to a friend's car and hopped in. The group of us drove over to the bigger town next door, where we went to a little pizza parlor and bought ourself a pizza and some cheese bread.

After that, we went to theaters and saw the horror movie Crimson Peak.

It was beautifully set. Stunning visuals. There were a few good horror moments, but it felt more like a tragic drama than a horror movie, to be perfectly honest. Nothing wrong with tragic drama. It was still a great movie. But it didn't really have the usual horror movie vibe.

Oh, and Tom Hiddleston was really hot. Just saying.

One thing I thought was interesting was that the humans turned out to be the scary ones. The ghosts were the ones you ended up feeling sorry for. Kind of turning expectations on their heads there.

Guillermo del Toro said he wanted it to feel like the woman saved the man, rather than the man saving the woman. I didn't really get that feel from this movie. I mean, I guess technically Edith saved Thomas by being his One Twue Wuv, but he still ended up being the one trying to save her. Edith saved herself in the end, though, which I thought was nice. "I heard you the first time," was a great line. I loved the complex dynamic between Thomas's sister and Edith, and their conversations about the siblings' mother.

Now it's the day after Halloween, and I feel hung over even though I didn't drink. I guess Halloween just does that to you. I'm having a pajama day, snacking on leftover Milky Ways and Snickers Bars, doing homework and watching football.

Hamlet

Oct. 25th, 2015 04:17 pm
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On Thursday, I met up with a friend on campus. We walked downtown and got some pumpkin pie and hot apple cider at a little local coffeehouse and pub that plays live music. Then we went to the nearby independent theater and watched National Theater Live.

Let me explain. National Theater Live is a program that broadcasts live from a major theater in London, showing up on the screens of hundreds of different movie theaters around the world. It's a mere twelve dollars to get in and watch a live theater performance from the safety of your screen.

My friend and I watched Hamlet, with Benedict Cumberbatch. It was pretty spectacular. He was very emotional and unexpectedly funny in some places. He was very good at playing the character in a way that seemed believable. They also tried to update the production a little bit for modern audiences, which I thought was interesting.

They definitely took very set stances on certain characters. Gertrude was definitely a moral character, while Claudius was definitely not. Ophelia's madness was definitely not feigned, while Hamlet's definitely was.

It's just always interesting to see the ways different people interpret Shakespeare.

Black Mass

Sep. 27th, 2015 06:13 pm
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I went with my sister and a friend of mine -- the older one from fiction class who's married? -- to the movies on Saturday. We pigged out on sweets. I saw Black Mass with Johnny Depp (and a whole host of other famous people).

Overall, I was really impressed. Johnny Depp was suitably terrifying, cold and calculating and precise. The deaths were suitably graphic. Morals were suitably ambiguous.

My only complaint would be that we didn't actually get much from Bulger's perspective, and I think that would have added an interesting dimension to the movie. It's never even directly confirmed that his wife left him after the death of their son. I feel like we got a lot about Bulger, a lot of watching Bulger, but not much from Bulger.

We got little hints, like the part at the end where he calls his brother on the pay phone, and those were great, but I was looking for something a little more.

Overall, though, it was a great movie. Fast paced and interesting, a true psychological thriller. I love those anyway, so I'm a little biased.

It was certainly better than The Invisible Woman, which I also watched on Netflix on the same day. Talk about a slow-paced, yawning bore.
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I just finished reading John Green's "Looking for Alaska", and I'm here to write a review.

SPOILER ALERT

First, let me just say, I loved Alaska. She was imperfect without being dislikable, and I loved her for that. She smoke, drank like a fish, played pranks, was overtly sexual, was a proud feminist, and overall was just so kick ass. Such sass and personality, but I think she really cared underneath it all.

With that said, I think the second half of the book without her fell a little flat. That's not to say it was BAD -- the ending taught a lot of important things about the lack of resolution we so often get when dealing with the death of a loved one. That's just to say I don't think Miles and his friends were strong enough characters to patch up the hole and carry it on themselves.

Two things felt a little forced: The initial reaction to Alaska's death. And Alaska's tragedy over her Mom.

A couple of asides: I loved the description in this book. It was so detailed, I think in part because the author actually went to a boarding school like this in real life. Also, one of my favorite characters was the religion teacher. I'd have taken his class; theology fascinates me.

My friend and I were talking, and we mentioned one thing that really gets us: John Green's books are so serious -- except for the dry humor -- but he's such a goofball in real life. It's a wonderful dichotomy.
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I watched The Fault in Our Stars, the movie based off the John Green novel, last night. Here's my review.

(I think this goes without saying, but SPOILERS.)

First off, I have to say, this is the most heart rending thing I've read or watched since reading The Bartimaeus Trilogy in middle school. (That was my introduction to falling in love with dying characters. I had a huge crush on Nathaniel, and when he died at the end of the series I was depressed for days. "What's wrong?" my Mom asked. "A character died," I said flatly. Oh the problems of a book lover.) The Fault in Our Stars is about two teenagers with cancer falling in love, and how their love has meaning even though neither of them will live very long or do amazing things.

I love Hazel. She's easily one of my favorite female characters. She's not a tough fighter girl, she's not a bitch, she's not even particularly physically strong -- the cancer has gotten into her lungs and she has trouble climbing stairs and has to carry a little oxygen tank with her everywhere. Yet Hazel is still a strong girl. She's funny (especially in tandem with Augustus; they play off of each other really well) and intelligent. She's an introvert, and that is not a problem, which is nice to see in literature. She knows she's never going to do great things or have many friends, but she's okay with having her own little life and having deep connections with a select few people. She's a survivor and insists on doing anything anyone else could do.

And then there's Augustus, with his metaphors and his existentially fraught free throws and his zombie video games. Augustus is also endearing in his own way. My favorite moments, at least in the book, are when he stops trying to act cool and intellectual and really lets his little-kid, teenage-boy side through. That other side to him is really what makes the character for me. The two sides complete each other.

The book/movie has lots of cool quotes. "Pain demands to be felt," is my personal favorite, just because it's so damn true, and important to remember for our own personal health.

I really like Hazel's family. Her parents are really caring, strong people, and I love the complex relationship she has with her Mom. The conversation where they talk about her Mom's social working classes is great. The scene with Isaac and the eggs is also great, and I like that they included him at the end of the movie.

The scenes in Amsterdam, especially at the beautiful restaurant, were spectacular in the movie -- easily one of the best parts of watching the book on film. The scenery was just so damn detailed and beautiful. I love the fairy lights in the restaurant, and the scenes of the Amsterdam river with the boat houses.

Van Houten is an interesting character. I think he likes Hazel and Augustus for being willing to stand up to him, and that moment when he shows up to Augustus's funeral is a pretty great moment. I like that they included his daughter dying of cancer in the movie, because I think it goes a long way toward explaining just why he's such a raging asshole.

The ending is brutal, of course. I didn't cry at the end of the book; I teared up at the end of the movie. Just watching it all on screen makes it all worse (and better). So the movie did that really well -- talk about being punched in the emotional gut.

What are my criticisms of the movie? One thing I will say is that Hazel and Augustus don't really look how I pictured them. That's not to say the actors weren't good -- they were -- but movie Hazel and Augustus clash with book Hazel and Augustus in my mind, in mannerisms and appearance. I also didn't feel like the two sides to Augustus -- endearingly dorky little kid and cool, intellectual teenager -- were really completely captured in the movie. This is probably a purely personal thing, but it's just a little something that always bothers me whenever I watch the movie.

So anyway -- one of my favorite books, one of my favorite movies. Makes me happy every time I sit through it.
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I hung out with my friend -- the one I went to see Paper Towns with -- again tonight. It'll probably be the last time I spend any one on one time with her before I move away permanently.

I went over to her house and we made breakfast for dinner together. We had veggie-laden scrambled eggs, grapes, and toasted bagels. Her family was there, which made it a little awkward, but they're really friendly people. Their house is an eclectic mess and they have horses out back. Just your typical working class country home.

After "dinner", my friend and I watched August Rush and ate from a bag of chocolates. Her brother watched with us. We laughed and made jokes, and my friend and I both agreed Jonathan Rhys Meyers is really hot. (We think it's partially the accent. Aaron Johnson and Christian Bale are really hot, too.)

My friend and her brother drove me home at the end of the night, which I thought was really nice of them. "My father's probably in his armchair, with his shoes off, sleeping, so it would be nice if you could drive me home," I joked.

I had a fun time!
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Me and my sister went to the local fair today. It was being held out in the middle of a big field in the hot sun. People were perspiring, ice cream and lemonade were being sold, and a couple of firetrucks had to come for somebody at one point.

I bought a cute little coin purse for five dollars from a man selling woven and cloth bags. He seemed disappointed I wasn't buying anything more expensive, and was actually kind of rude about it. I also bought a couple of 12-dollar anime wallets, because they had my three favorite male Japanese anime characters on them: Toshiro and Ichigo from Bleach, and Gaara from Naruto. (Nah, I don't have a type. Not at all!) My sister bought some stuffed animals, one of a character from Pokemon.

We chanced upon a friend of ours there, and talked to her for a while. Then we went and got churros (two dollars apiece).

All in all, I spent 31 dollars. That was an unusually expensive venture for me. We were kind of on a budget, so we had to count things really carefully.

I had a lot of fun and funny moments with my sister, too.

"You're getting me on a sugar high!" she accused me once as she wolfed down her churro.

"Little did you know, grasshopper, that was my plan all along," I said in a wise voice. "I'm going to unleash you on the unsuspecting masses."

My sister began laughing hysterically as she bit into her churro.

"You just tore a piece of paper wrapping off with your teeth," I informed her.

Later on in the day, I taught her how to ignore passing salesmen. "Ignoring and hanging up on people brings me great joy in life," I told her. (This is true. I hang up on people all the time.) Then we passed a crying baby and my sister started mimicking it; we both laughed pretty hard and it was actually kind of rude. We were pretty shameless about it.

Another super fun day!
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
This might be the last time I'm seeing a friend in my hometown before I move up permanently to take apartment residence near my college. It's the friend I was talking about the other day -- the one I've known since I was six. So today, we went out together, and for once (on my behest) it was just the two of us.

I wasn't feeling well to start out with. I'd just gotten my period, so my stomach and back were in pain, I was hungry except not hungry, and I was going to the bathroom about every five minutes. But I felt much better after the day was through! A nice day out was good for me!

We listened to music on the drive to the movie theater, chatted, shared drunken stories -- my friend had just recently lost her phone while on a drunken misadventure. Then we went to see Paper Towns in theaters. It's based off a John Green novel. I love John Green's books. The Fault In Our Stars is one of my all-time favorite novels ever.

On that note, I loved the movie!

It made me really like Quentin, but that wasn't a big surprise because I had always liked Quentin. What was a bigger surprise was that they made me like Margo! I hated Margo in the book; I LOVED her in the movie. It made me see her in a whole new light.

The movie was funny, too. And not just for actual, movie-based reasons. A guy in the theater made the bathtub scene with Lacey HILARIOUS. He kept filling in Quentin's lines for him.

"Do you want to get in the tub with me?"

"YES."

"And I don't have chlamydia -- anymore."

"Oops. Better get outta this tub fast!"

It was the funniest thing.

One thing I noticed is that the search for Margo wasn't as intense as it was in the book. But I suppose they only have so much time. Not much room for mystery. I also noticed the actor who played Augustus in The Fault in Our Stars in the gas station scene! I did not miss that! Girls in the theater started gasping!

They changed the ending. I actually liked it better. I think this is the only book-based film where I liked the movie better than the book. (I actually cannot say that about The Fault in Our Stars, so this admittance is a big thing for me.)

After, we went on a great mission to have lunch and find my friend's lost phone. We didn't manage to find the phone, but the trip was fun. We sang and laughed over song lyrics, and made morbid jokes about how underweight we both usually were. (We both have an illness -- hers physical, mine psychiatric.) I also told her I had just reached a normal weight for my height, and she gave me a high-five!

We had pasta for lunch at a restaurant. The music there was pretty good -- I liked the playlist. We talked about people we knew who had gotten married too early, about our frustrations in not finding men who were mature enough for us and also our age, and she confided in me about some things. I'm a good listener, so people come to me to confide and ask for advice a lot.

This time, she talked about her friend's unhealthy on-again, off-again relationship, her divorced parents and pushy, controlling father, and about how she wants to start her own business but doesn't want to go back to school and finish her degree. She seemed interested in my virtual internship and asked questions about how I had gotten it. I told her I went to my school's career center, made an account on their website, asked them for help writing my resume, and then sent said resume to companies who had posted up ads saying they were interested in college students on the school's website.

On our way home, something really funny happened. Two military-looking men in a Jurassic Park truck were next to us. "Oh, cool, Jurassic Park!" my friend said. Then she looked closer. The two men were making out. And the look on my friend's face -- oh my God it was priceless! I laughed so hard!

We danced in the car and sang (loudly and badly) along to "Bringing Sexy Back" and "Blank Space" on the radio on the way home. It was the most fun I've had in ages.
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
I just finished writing my first full, original book!

As I've said before, my college major is Creative Writing. I've loved writing ever since I was a little girl, when I used to write frantically on little slips of paper and read voraciously. Writing just came naturally to me. In college, I toyed around with majors in the social sciences for a while, before realizing I was making this too hard on myself -- writing was what I had always truly loved. So I switched my major to Creative Writing, and got a Marketing minor to make my major more marketable.

I've written plenty of things over the years, including short stories, a 60-page compendium of poems, and several fanfiction. But I had never written a novel or novella before.

Well, I just finished my first!

It started out as two separate stories: one about an abused child, the other about a recovering drug addict. I was at a coffee shop at my second college one day when I suddenly came up with the idea of putting the two stories together! I sat down and began writing energetically, and by the time my coffee was done I had characters and a story outline.

The story is about an Intersex girl who's abused at the orphanage she lives in because of what she is, and a recovering drug addict turned lawyer with a sarcastic attitude problem who finds her, saves her, and takes her in. They change each other for the better, she making a friend and he a girlfriend along the way. The story starts out dark, but gets more positive as it goes along. There's even a happy ending -- the orphanage matron is punished, and the lawyer adopts the little girl.

It's an easy twenty pages long, so a novella instead of a novel. I'm going to edit the story over the next few days and then hopefully try to get it published.

My own original book! I feel so accomplished!
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
I've got a confession: I hate perfect people.

They're simpering. They're annoying. They make me want to smack someone and strangle people. I hate people with perfect photoshopped bodies and perfect straightened hair and way too much makeup -- I think they're terrifying and hideous. I find people who never make mistakes and never fuck up to be utterly boring. And worse than that -- they're typically hypocritical and judgmental.

I have another confession: I'm not perfect.

I'm not. I'm an antisocial, too-smart-for-my-own-good, eccentric, don't-touch-me FREAK. I don't like people but I do like people but I really only like people in abstract. I'm horrible at expressing my feelings. I don't really like hugs. I'm not very playful. My boobs are too small. I think I'm smarter than everybody else. I'm stubborn and prone to getting obsessive over things that I want. I get random anxiety attacks that make me unable to interact with the normal human population. I hate parties and public speaking. My sense of humor is flat, dry, and sarcastic.

I'm not perfect.

Now here's something revolutionary: I don't want to be.

I like my hair messy! I like that I only ever wear jeans! I like that there's cat and dog hair all over my clothes! I like my tiny boobs and my obsessive-anxious-passive-aggressive-antisocial personality!

Imperfection is human. It's natural. And more than that -- we can learn to love it. Mistakes make for great stories and help us learn to laugh at ourselves! Screwups can sometimes end up being the most precious moments of our lives!

I spent so long being told by bullies growing up that there was something wrong with being imperfect. I was supposed to want to fuck boys and go to parties every weekend and look like this and dress like that! And I wasn't! The horror!

I used to be ashamed of myself for not fitting into the social norm. But you know what? I've grown up. And now it's time for me to celebrate it. I propose a celebration of imperfection.

So, on that note, here are my three favorite songs about imperfection:

1."Girl Next Door" by Saving Jane

It's not about the prom queen. It's not about the celebrity. It's not about the princess. It's about the girl next door to the celebrity/princess/prom queen that no one ever notices. It's about her and how much she feels ignored and how much she HATES the seemingly perfect girl next door to her, who always gets the boys and always looks pretty and never acts like a bitch. This is basically my song.

Favorite lyrics:

"Maybe I'll admit it:

I'm a little bitter.

Everybody loves her,

BUT I JUST WANT TO HIT HER!

She is the prom queen,

I'm in the marching band,

She is a cheerleader,

I'm sitting in the stands,

I get a little bit,

She gets a little more!

She's Miss America, yeah,

She's Miss America, and I'm just the girl next door."

2."Little Moments" by Brad Paisley

It's about all the mistakes his wife makes throughout a typical day, how funny he finds all of them, and how those moments are when he truly realizes how much he loves her. Need I say more?

Favorite lyrics:

"I know she's not perfect,

But she tries so hard for me,

And I thank God that she isn't,

'Cuz how boring would that be?

It's the little imperfections,

It's a sudden change in plans

When she misreads the directions

And we're lost but holding hands.

Yeah, I live for

Little moments

Like that."

3. "Secrets" by Mary Lambert

It's all about a bipolar overweight girl with a screwed-up family who defiantly doesn't care WHO knows her secrets. She's tired of pretending to be someone she's not!

Favorite lyrics:

"I've got bipolar disorder,

My shit's not in order,

I'm overweight,

I'm always late,

I've got too many things to say.

I rock mom jeans, cat earrings,

Extrapolate my feelings.

My family is dysfunctional,

But we have a good time killing each other!

They tell us from the time we're young

To hide the things that we don't like about ourselves,

Inside ourselves.

I know I'm not the only one

Who spent so long attempting to be someone else.

Well I'm over it."

In conclusion...

"No one likes perfect people! Perfect people are boring!"

- Two Weeks Notice
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
I watched Begin Again last night, with Mark Ruffalo and Keira Knightley. This is my review of the movie.

(SPOILERS)

First, I would like the movie anyway, because it's about a bunch of musicians and musical producers in New York and that's just beautiful to me. But in any case, music is portrayed magnificently in the movie.

Take the opening scene for example. Keira Knightly, who plays Gretta, is playing guitar and singing at an open mic night. Mark Ruffalo, who plays Dan, hears her song and is inspired by it. The scene is shown from both perspectives, hers and his. From her point of view, we hear people talking all throughout the song because all she sees is their lack of interest. From his point of view, as she starts singing the world fades away. Then he hears other instruments slowly start to layer themselves on top of hers as he imagines what the song could be.

A great deal of commentary is given on the music business in general. Toward the end of the movie, for example, Gretta has recorded an album all on her own and finally won over an initially reluctant production company to release her music. They tell her that the CDs will sell for 10 dollars -- they will get nine and she will get one, for every CD sold. Gretta asks why they get so much of her money if they didn't help her produce the album. In the end, she releases the CD online, without the company's permission, for one dollar per CD. She gets the same amount of money she would have otherwise, but they get none.

I love the concept of her album that Dan and Gretta come up with, as well. They decide to record a CD outside, each song at a different scene in New York city, with a bunch of struggling home-grown musicians as her background. Whatever happens -- people shouting, sirens blaring, police running to arrest them -- they record it. They record the CD in alleys, on rooftops, in boats -- everywhere they can think of. All their equipment is bought by hand and entirely mobile.

Music is rhapsodized about in the movie as well. Dan describes music as something that can turn banalities into beauty. When you listen to music, even the most mundane things can seem pregnant with meaning.

Then there's Dan himself. He starts out the movie as a heavy drinker and smoker, disenchanted and separated from his family. (Even bipolar disorder is hinted at -- his teenage daughter is seeing a psychiatrist for "strange behavior.") Throughout the movie, there's a slow evolution as Gretta inspires him to reconnect with his wife and daughter and to clean himself up.

Then there's the friendship between Dan and Gretta. Their attachment is not romantic, and I love the movie for that. Dan and Gretta are very good friends, and they're good for each other. Gretta is also friends with and a positive influence on Dan's teenage daughter.

I really liked Dan's daughter. She's tough, sarcastic, and aware of her surroundings. She's sexually open, but still struggling to find herself. Unlike her father, she is under treatment for her mental illness, most likely at the behest of her mother. She struggles with making friends and being taken advantage of by older boys.

There are actually lots of good friends in Begin Again. Gretta's friend in New York is friendly, hard to rattle, and supportive, especially in the wake of Gretta's breakup with her boyfriend.

Gretta's breakup with her boyfriend is excellently done. It's a good lesson on how heady the music industry can get, and how quickly it can total otherwise strong relationships. Gretta's boyfriend is one of those who becomes addicted to the feeling of being famous, and it is said (perhaps pessimistically) that once you hit that point you will never be able to make just one particular woman happy. Gretta herself seems to stay away from her ex because she knows he will always be drawn to all those women who now admire him.

The ending is as happy as it could be under the circumstances. Gretta makes it as a musician and stays away from her cheating ex. Dan reunites with his wife and daughter and gets his job at the musical production company back. I'm always a big fan of positive endings, so that was a really nice wrap-up for me.

Art Ideas

Jul. 12th, 2015 07:38 pm
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
These are just some random art ideas I've had over the years. I'm keeping track of them in case they ever become useful.

Ideas:

- Put your ears underwater in a bathtub. Put a fan over your face and let it run. Move your mouth around making different shapes. Record the sound this makes from underwater. Turn it into a musical track.

- Instead of using instruments for a song, shriek different notes and then put them all together into one flowing musical track. Sing normally along to this "instrument": your voice.

- Play "Revolution" at the rock n roll school in Kabul, Afghanistan.

- Go around to various prisons. Talk to the inmates about what kinds of books and music they like. Write a book on the extracurricular interests of criminals.

- Dress a woman in traditional Muslim garb. Slash the dress in different places to make it revealing, fashionable, and trendy.

- Pose for a photograph nude. Except unshaven, with no makeup, and in a tough unsexy pose.

- Play two songs, each in the spaces between sounds of the other, one backwards and one forwards.
grimrose_eilwynn: (Default)
I read this article and liked it, about Mary Shelley, the author of Frankenstein:

http://amysmartgirls.com/mary-shelley-meet-the-teenage-girl-who-invented-science-fiction/

It's not a perfect article. It glosses over a lot of the little uncomfortable details, like the fact that Percy was married when he and Mary ran away together, and a lot of the sad ones, like the deaths of Mary's children. But it's a good introduction to a strong, interesting, and controversial feminist lady.

I've got to admit, I liked Mary's book better than any of the Frankenstein movies. The movies butcher the story.

(SPOILER ALERT)

For example, in the book, when Victor Frankenstein creates the monster he is a young, lonely, and brilliant man at university -- not an aged scientist with an assistant. This makes much more sense because Victor's age makes him foolish enough to think he can control anything, his loneliness isolates him from adverse opinions, his obsession with learning science drives him, and the recent death of his mother makes him reckless enough to try to revive a dead corpse.

That's right. Tim Burton's Frankenweenie is a more accurate representation of Mary's masterpiece than a lot of the original Frankenstein films.

The monster is much more human in the novels. He is intelligent, can carry on conversations, and contemplates his own existence. He is capable of kindness as well as ferociousness. The reason he becomes so murderous is because Victor abandoned him to a world that would reject him because of his appearance. This adds weight to the monster's kills -- they become more meaningful, and frankly more frightening, when a thinking person did them. There's also a little moral in there about the power of judging based on appearance.

The monster decides to murder everyone Victor cares about, in revenge for his abandonment and bad treatment at the hands of humans. We get to know every single person murdered, because they all love Victor, and there's a slow agony as one by one they are taken from him in horrific and methodical ways. This makes, in my opinion, for a much better horror story than just one in which random people are killed by a faceless being for no apparent reason.

It's just a completely different story when you read the book. I don't have any of the movies, but I have the book. I seriously recommend the read for anyone interested in the beginning pulses of horror and science fiction.

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Hopeless Dreamer

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