Dec 6, 2009

Geography Club, by Brent Hartinger, and my list of ten favorite songs. Oh, an winter photos.

This weekend, I read 'Geography Club', by Brent Hartinger and I am thoroughly impressed! I have also compiled a list of my current ten favorite songs from the last ten years, but not necessarily songs that are from the last ten years, just ones that I've heard for the first time in the last ten years. Does that make any sense? Also, I took some pictures this morning of our first snowfall.

Geography Club, by Brent Hartinger, is a book I suggested my local library order, after having seen the reviews on B&N's website. With all the great reviews and the constant buzz surrounding this book from over six years ago, I thought it odd that my library did not have it. I mentioned it to the YA librarian and explained that it is a book about a gay character and she ordered it. She also pointed out some of the other GLBT books within their collection, all of Alex Sanchez's, thank goodness, among many other meaningful picks.

I picked up the book yesterday and had no expectations about its relevancy to being a young gay male, instead I was actually looking for inspiration and perspective for a book I am writing myself. What I ended up finding is a well-written, easy to understand (gay or straight, young or old, male or female) bildungsroman novel that can apply to anyone. As long as you can handle the description of a guy kissing another guy, you will not be able to put this book down. Russ, the protagonist, inadvertently discovers that being a good person is difficult, no matter your sexual orientation. He delves into many social aspects of a young person's life: romance, friendships, sports, school, cliques, pizza; and the trials and tribulations that occur to keep them all going, while maintaining some dignity. Russel loses plenty of dignity in this book, but he makes gains that give him a clean slate to make things right. Not only does he find a way to make a difference in the adverse lives around him, he finally does something good for himself.

This book really hit me in several places (heart, mind, gut, and ,ahem, groin.) and I wish I had been able to read it when I was sixteen, it definitely gave me the perspective I was seeking, and then some. Despite the lack of including parents in this book, I truly recommend the book to the parents of gay children and to any adult and young adult who knows any gay person, AKA, I recommend the book to everyone.
Okay, the top ten favorite songs (in no particular order):

1. A Day in the Life - The Beatles
2. Transatlanticism - Death Cab for Cutie
3. MGMT - Time to Pretend
4. Matt and Kim - Lessons Learned
5. We Will Become Silhouettes - The Postal Service
6. Mariella - Kate Nash
7. All I Need - Radiohead
8. For My Lady - The Moody Blues
9. Fans - Kings of Leon
10. Heartbeats - The Knife or Heartbeats - Jose Gonzalez

Sadly, I grew up listening to Van Halen and Bon Jovi, so my exposure to the Beatles did not come until later in my teenhood, but when it did, I vehemently formed an obsession and have been a fan since. 'A Day in the Life' is an amazing song and perfectly presents the struggle forming between John and Paul. No song has ever been more brilliantly written.

Death Cab for Cutie is my favorite contemporary band. While many think they are boring or sappy, I find their songs clever and soothing. Often times, I find my mood affected by their music in a positive way, even when i wasn't seeking consoling.

MGMT has exploded onto the music seen with just a couple hit songs, but those few songs have made a big impact. Time to Pretend has been played over and over on my CD player and in my head for well over a thousand times.

Matt and Kim are a fun and fantastic duo. Lessons learned is a song that can be played over and over again, without losing its luster. The music video is definitely worth checking out too.

The Postal Service, Ben Gibbard of DC4C and friend, produced an album that took the musical world by surprise. Their original songs have been covered many times, and Iron and Wine's prolific version of 'Such Great Heights' is what lead me to discover TPS. Ever since, I have listened to their album, Give Up, more than any other album and it remained in my CD player for eighteen consecutive months. Nerdy, yes, but I loved it. the only reason I took it out is because a few songs no longer played, for they were worn out and I replaced the album soon after.

Kate Nash, a sprite British pop star, has made waves in the US too. Her album 'Made of Bricks' is filled with super bouncy songs, written with not quite so bouncy lyrics. I especially like the way Kate overcomes what could be a lull in a song, by becoming innovative with her voice. Breathy and sharp are not usually sought after adjectives in the music world, but Kate manipulates her voice and the song to create songs both soothing and uplifting.

'All I Need', by Radiohead is the best song to listen to when you are not sure what kind of mood you are in. It is like a gateway drug; by the end of the first try, your mind is ready to try so much more.

I have been listening The Moody Blues since I was little and 'For My Lady' is one of the groups least abstract songs, but I enjoy it the most. The fusion between 70's dark pop and French inspired melody gives us a fun song, that is not too fun to be The Moody Blues. If you like this song, try "I'm Just a Singer (In a Rock and Roll Band)", next.

"Fans", by Kings of Leon is the perfect song between the old Southern rock and the new music KOL is known for. I love rolling through the beach, with the beat of this song going up against whatever the latest Lil Wayne song is, I win most times.

The Knife duo is weird. Jose Gonzalez is smooth. Performing the same song, the different artists manage to create two songs I adore, that happen to share the same lyrics and beat. The Heartbeats version is quick, sharp, and edgy. Jose's is slow, acoustic, and soothing. Both deserve a place on my list.

Winter is here! Winter is here. Winter is here :(

Dec 3, 2009

Terminator Salvation, 'The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 1: The Pox Party', and the sisters.

This week, I watched 'Terminator: Salvation', with my big sis, Kerra, you'll meet her in a bit. I made and attempt to read 'The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing...' (the first one), but my stream of determination dried up around page thirty.

Honestly, I just found it too difficult to read. The diction and vocabulary choices were far too relevant to the time in which the novel takes place, revolutionary America. I found myself breaking the back of my dictionary every sixteen words and still not fully understanding the storyline. While I believe this book has a place of relevance, I do not think that place is in the young adult section. I apologize for taking the easy way out on this one, but this is where I end my lousy, say-little "review".

Onto to happier things: ‘Terminator: Salvation’! I thoroughly enjoyed this film. Despite all the controversy surrounding The Rant, I think Christian Bale turned the film into a true classic of our time. The previous Terminator movies have all been classic, classically bad. Yes, the first one was ground-breaking at the time, but all its successors failed to deliver on that same front. ‘Salvation’ managed to use a few points from the old films, while giving the franchise a fresh new face, Sam Worthington. Sam, who is the star of the upcoming, ‘Avatar’, played a hybrid human/machine, and was designed to kill John Conner, in the far future, which he doesn't know. While this year has been lacking in good action films, ‘Star Trek’ being a huge exception, ‘Salvation’ brought the action genre back to my attention. Can’t wait to see what 2010 does for the genre.

Okay, and now, to something very close to my heart: my sisters.

I am truly lucky to have three sisters. While they annoy me a quarter of the time and piss me off another quarter of the time, the other half of the time, I just adore them.

Kerra(kaka): The Eldest (shh…) and my fave

Marie(meme): The Firecracker and my fave

And Michelle (Shel, Michbu, Ishamel): The Little Sis and my fave;)

I looove my sisters and they love me, in general. We are weird, fun, funny, and loud. Don’t ever mess with us:

On the next post: The Geography Club, by Brent Hartinger, and my list of current ten favorite songs.

Nov 27, 2009

'An Abundance of Katherines', Puppy Chow Cupcakes, and Death Cab for Cutie's The Photo Albums.

Yesterday, Thanksgiving, marked the end of my week long adventure of reading John Green's "An Abundance of Katherines". Here is my review from

I truly enjoyed "An Abundance of Katherines", but it took a lot of work to get there. Unlike John's first novel, "Looking for Alaska", which I could not put down, I had to keep reminding myself that I loved the writing and I love John Green. I do not mean to discount the math included in this book, but I failed Trig for a reason. While Green manages to bring the math down to earth and actually make it hilarious, when I see graphs, my mind freaks out and shuts off. With that said, Green made it inevitable to get passed that and actually enjoy the graphs and find humor in it. Overall, I believe working to like a book, does not mean it wasn't good. "An Abundance of Katherines" is amazing and a must-read. I hope everyone will pick this up and fall in and out of love with Katherines, too.
While this is not my most eloquent review, to date, it sums up my feelings rather well. As a side note, I loved "Looking for Alaska"! The story itself is larger than the book, it busts out of the pages and takes over your life. For my review of "Alaska", go here:

Another interesting review, of my (ahem, my friend Britt's) baking. I helped by interpreting dancing and singing, "We Wish You a Merry Christmas". Our Puppy Chow Cupcakes turned out really well! The crunch of the chow and the unrivaled yumminess of sweetened peanut butter made for mouth-watered smells wafting through my friend, Raina's, apartment. We had a swell time mixing up the ingredients and trying fun new combos. We used puppy chow, crushed puppy chow, peanut butter chips, peanut butter frosting (pb mixed with vanilla frosting), powdered sugar and plain vanilla frosting. We filled a checkerboard pattern of white and silver cupcake liners with chocolate cake batter. Next, we made nine different configurations for a total of thirty-six cupcakes. They look fun and dandy:

Also in my life this week, Death Cab for Cuties, The Photo Album. I completely forgot how much I love this album. I popped it in when I was on my two hour drive to Raina's house on Wednesday night, Thanksgiving Eve. When I saw Death Cab in concert earlier this year, they performed "A Movie Script Ending", "We Laugh Indoors", and "Why You'd Want to Live Here". I like those three songs, but the songs that really make the biggest impression me are: "Blacking Out the Friction", with is rhythmic rivalry between piano and guitar, "Styrofoam Plates", about a poor father and his poor family, "Coney Island", and "Debate Exposes Doubt", which features a lengthy, hypnotic interlude. This album really creates a force field around a broken heart, no matter it's cause. As always, Death Cab truly hits the spot. And the fact the Zooey Deschanel and Ben Gibbard are engaged! I love it.

On the next post:
Terminator Salvation, 'The Astonishing Life of Octavian Nothing, Traitor to the Nation, Vol. 1: The Pox Party', and the sisters.