rockinlibrarian: (love)
Funny, I was way more enthusiastic to write this post this morning. Naturally, LIFE got in the way and I didn't get around to writing it (unless you count me gushing the basic details into my journal this morning) until now, when, LIFE having gotten in the way, I'm no longer floating on the bubbles of joy that I was.

No, I don't have any sort of huge good news. It was just the building up of little beautiful things. And THAT, in itself, is why I wanted to post about it!

Yesterday evening I wasn't in any particularly good mood. It was evening, which meant I was tired, and my husband was at work, so I had two whiny overstimulated kids I was trying to get settled down for bed by myself, which isn't exactly a party; but I wasn't feeling particularly bad, either. In fact, my son was doing all right. He'd earned, through chores and good behavior, some time to spend on something he wouldn't normally be allowed on-- in this case, my computer. He was drawing several variations of his usual "beach" picture in Paint (he draws a line down the middle, then paintbucket-fills one side with yellow, the other with blue, and that's his beach picture. He has at least five of these saved on my computer) while I struggled his sister into bed. But when I came back, he was saving a new picture to my computer. This was it:

I mean, let's stop right there. That alone could make anybody's day.

So I put him to bed (after thanking him thoroughly), grabbed my Nook and a bowl of corn chips, and flopped on the couch. (Okay, the title isn't accurate. Most of this was actually my NOOK exploding with beauty. But it was still the Internet, so it still fits). I set out to catch up with almost a week's worth of blog reading.

There was one post I was most anxious to see. Those of you who are already familiar with Hyperbole and a Half know what I mean. It was such a joy to see brilliant webcartoonist Allie Brosh back online after months of hiatus, particularly when we all knew she'd been very depressed last we heard from her (and by "we" I mean "a shocking variety of people. Like, everyone from all walks of life"). And she came back with the most perfect summary of her dark experience of the past couple years: seriously, if you HAVEN'T seen this yet, GO DO IT NOW. CLICK. Actually, do it again if you already have seen it because it's that wonderful. What she has done is given us the most dead-on heartbreakingly accurate description of depression that somehow also happens to be laugh out loud hilarious.

It's part of the "Clowns of God" concept again. When you mix happy and sad together, heartbreaking and hilarious together, it makes each of those emotions THAT MUCH STRONGER. And it's especially refreshing, to know so completely what she's talking about, but to be able to LAUGH at it... in the face of it... there is possibly no stronger force for battling the Darkness. I drew the connection between Allie Brosh and The Bloggess, how two of the absolute funniest people I've found on the internet are also two of the most broken. I don't think funny makes you depressed. I think being depressed forces you to find the funny. Humor is a gift given to those who need it most!

So now I'm buoyed up on that (that last picture and final sentence still do me in, even just now scrolling past to link to it), I continue reading through blogs-- or, to be honest, scanning them for the most interesting ones-- and I nearly skimmed right by this next one at Fuse #8 because, at first glance, it seemed to be a review of a picture book (which I don't get much say in ordering at our library) and I had a lot of other stuff to read, but then I noticed it was really an anecdote written by the author, about how, as a frustrated young immigrant, she found a library and a librarian who changed her life. OH LORD. A BEAUTIFUL IMPORTANCE-OF-LIBRARIES STORY. I wanted to laugh and cry at the same time AGAIN.

So then I finished the blog-scanning and opened my Twitter app, where I immediately ended up retweeting the ever-so-wise Shannon Hale: "How can we build up instead of tear down? How can we make each day better for our presence? Our words are powerful. We can be superheroes." And even though, in context, she'd just been lamenting some cyberbullying her friend was going through, I was too high from the other things I'd read and seen this evening to get pulled down by those bullies. Instead, I saw we can be superheroes. YES! With wonderful, positive, sensible and sensitive people like Shannon Hale leading the way! All I saw was the light piercing THROUGH the darkness.

And close below that was another picture from Commander Hadfield aboard the International Space Station. If you haven't seen Commander Hadfield's pictures, please go, do it. Each picture of our troubled planet from far above is a quiet moment of Zen. It's like something I've always remembered from reading Joseph Campbell: that if you look at Creation stories from across cultures, they are almost always violent and traumatizing when told from the POV of the people of Earth, but when told from the POV of the gods, they suddenly become beautiful dances. That's what the pictures from the ISS are like, and last night's picture of the Alps in the clouds was no exception. Except I was already feeling lovely and positive, so it was that much more awesome.

Then I did something that might have dragged me back down into my own brain, my own self-conscious self-pity-- I went to YouTube to see if my particularly awesome if-I-do-say-so-myself but-that's-because-it's-about-one-of-my-favorite-topics vlog post of the week had got any more likes or comments. Eh, it had only been VIEWED four times, and I was pretty sure two of those views were me. So I was all set to start whining to myself how "NOBODY CARES WHAT I HAVE TO SAY!" (which we all know is a stupid thing to think and ones self-worth should absolutely not depend on how many people respond to your Internet postings, BUT YOU ARE STILL WELCOME TO COMMENT ON THIS POST! GO AHEAD! I'D LOVE TO HEAR FROM YOU! IF YOU ARE EVER WAVERING BETWEEN RESPONDING OR NOT RESPONDING TO ANYTHING I POST, GO WITH THE RESPONDING! IT'S NOT ENABLING, I SWEAR!), but then I caught sight of YouTube's little "Recommended for You" column. You're going to laugh at me, after all these heartwarming philosophical transcendent things I've been talking about, but face it, this is me. And YouTube had found me an old interview with Martin Freeman I'd never seen before. SHUT UP. It totally does fit with the rest of these beautiful things. Look, I've never been able to truly explain (no matter how I've tried) exactly why I adore him so much, but I can't watch him without smiling. I am unable to even look at a friggin' Hobbit DVD cover without smiling. And he was SO utterly lovely here that I very soon found myself just bubbling away in a hot spring of joy.

And then I caught sight of my list of YouTube subscriptions on the side, saw a little "1" beside Collective Cadenza. I think I'm late to the game on the CDZA thing, and everyone else discovered them a long long time ago, but I only discovered them a week ago, and the fun they have with music is possibly the greatest thing ever. Even the videos that aren't so good are still the Greatest Thing Ever, just because Fun With Music is THAT AWESOME. So I watched their new video, where they took their "History of Wooing Women" routine (which I hadn't thought was a particularly great one) on the road. It was basically them serenading random people on the street. And the longer the video went on, the more wonderful it felt. The more I was LAUGHING AND CRYING AT THE SAME TIME again.

And that was it. I didn't read or watch or look at anything else. I just sat there with my Nook on my lap, FEELING JOY. I popped onto Twitter just because, somehow, I had to share this feeling: "I've been reading and watching one lovely, beautiful thing or person after another here this past hour. I'll go to bed now filled with joy." It was all I could fit into 140 characters. But the feeling was, basically, the exact opposite of Depression-as-Described-by-Allie-Brosh. I've been there. I'm all too familiar with the hopelessness, the wishing-I'd-just-die-so-it-would-all-go-away. But THIS feeling was... well, this is basically the thought that came with it: I am so glad to be alive in a world where such beautiful people doing so many beautiful small things exist.

And I woke up this morning determined to LIVE, to BE one of those people who make the world a better place just by our being here. I don't think the day went quite like I hoped. But there are more days. And every little bit of beauty helps.
rockinlibrarian: (love)
I keep trying to write blog entries and then my brain gets so tangled up with everything I might want to say that it never happens, so if all else fails, today I just want to leave you with one of my favorite verses of lyrics to ponder upon:


Strangers passing in the street
By chance two separate glances meet
And I am you and what I see is me
And do I take you by the hand
And lead you through the land
And help me understand the best I can
And no one calls us to move on
And no one forces down our eyes
No one speaks
And no one tries
No one flies around the sun*

--"Echoes," Pink Floyd, 1971
(*this is what the official lyrics say, but I've always heard it as "no one climbs above the sighs," which I find much more poignant and meaningful, so if you want you can read it my way instead.)


A much shorter song lyric that says basically the same thing is "I am he as you are he and you are me and we are all together," except vaguer and not ending with the sad disconnect of the connection almost made but not. Well, maybe "See how they run like pigs from a gun see how they fly. I'm crying," covers that territory just fine.

Anyway, I'm thinking about namaste, or seeing Christ in everyone you meet, whichever religious spin you want to give it. The feeling, the understanding, the TRUTH that we're all connected, there's a part of the Divine in each of us. I'd like to write about friendship, and about friendship that stretches across geography, about Internet-friendship, and Internet etiquette, and remembering that the person on the other side of the Internet is a person just like you, flawed and yet divine, fearful and yet worthy, and remembering that the people you only see on TV or read about in magazines are people just like you, too, and remembering even that the people you see every DAY in real life, well, they're all part of the same thing. Not humanity. "Humanity" sounds serious and impersonal. They're all people. Sad people, broken people, beautiful people, divine people. Each one unique. Each one irreplaceable. Each one part of all of us.

But I don't have the mental energy to expound on this today, so instead I'll just leave it here. What do you think of when you hear these lyrics? What do you feel when you think of namaste? Do you feel connections to other people, or do they feel unreachable, unfathomable? Don't be shy: I genuinely want to hear your thoughts. Yes, YOU. Who did you think I was talking about? I MEAN YOU.
rockinlibrarian: (sherlock)
  • Sat, 09:11: #BeforeiDieiWanna live. Which is just one of the reasons I refuse to "catch up" on all the Twitter I missed in the past two days.
  • Sat, 09:12: So if you didn't comment @ me and said something you think I ought to hear or know or like, let me know! By @ commenting me, just in case.


What you see above is the entirety of the automatic "My Tweets" post I just deleted (rather than friends-locked,* because it's not worth saving if I'm just going to recopy it all over here, no?). I've pasted it here because it sums up my feelings about the Internet this week. Too much time-suck. Not enough time. I've got other things to do.

I promised I'd write you a new post every Saturday at least, and here I am, fulfilling that promise, even with so many other things distracting me. And for once, those things are NOT "zoning out on the Internet." I feel a creeping dread when I think of my long-neglected blog-reader-- part of me WANTS to read what I've missed, part of me sighs and thinks "WHY? Why so much to read? I have too much to do! Give up, blogs. I won't let you take me alive." And as addictive as I've found Twitter in the past, lately I'm almost afraid to go there. I don't want to get sucked into the endless MUCH-CATCH-UP-ON-THINGS-THAT-ARE-ONLY-OF-PASSING-INTEREST-TO-ME vortex. And I find I don't PARTICULARLY miss it. I miss particular people when I think about it. But like I said, there's just TOO MUCH ELSE TO DO.

Today I did my first draft of taxes, for example-- first draft as we're still waiting on a couple of forms but I need to turn in my daughter's preschool registration/financial aid application next week, so I have to have SOMETHING. I did bills. I attempted to get my son to work on his homework while I was doing "MY homework," as I called this, but it only worked for a little while (WHY ARE KINDERGARTENERS GETTING HOMEWORK OF THIS SORT, ANYWAY? HOMEWORK FOR KINDERGARTENERS SHOULD BE FAMILY READ-ALOUDS AND OCCASIONAL EXPERIMENTS/OTHER ACTIVITIES. NOT WORKSHEET AFTER WORKSHEET. This will probably turn into a future blog post, if I get the time).

Okay, that's not a particularly exciting excuse. (Although I do kind of like doing taxes. The first time. If I have to go back and fix something and it changes whatever worksheets or schedules I used before, THEN it gets on my nerves). Neither is the laundry, which had to be done since son was out of underwear this morning. Then I have to get to the grocery-- well, that it turns out can wait until tomorrow, since my parents picked up the worst necessities yesterday while they were babysitting. Why am I using up YOUR valuable time to tell you this? Because I figured I'd have to mention all the chores before I got to all the FUN things I could be doing.

Let's talk library programming. I've been spending WAY less time just hanging out online at work lately mostly because I've got SO much more planning to work on, now (on top of everything I USED to do). On Monday afternoons I'm doing a "Library Explorers" program, a sort of non-fiction STEAM focus-on-a-topic activities day, and Thursday evenings I have a Family Night story-and-activities time. And I have fun. More fun than I really need to. More EFFORT than I really need to, too.

For example, so far I've done two Family Nights, and both times only two families came... one of them mine. But the first one (a valentine theme) involved decorating cookies, which my kids and I baked ourselves beforehand. This week was a cowboy/girl theme, and when I decided we'd need to have hobby horse races but I had no hobby-horses, I remembered an old kids'-craft book I'd had for years that had how to make a hobby horse out of an old pair of pants, and my sewing machine was out because I'd just fixed my daughter's blankie, and I said "I'M GOING TO MAKE THEM! TWO HOBBY HORSES!" And that REALLY wasn't necessary for the program, particularly a program barely anyone comes to, but I JUST FELT CRAFTY.

And I did wear the most cowgirly outfit I could find-- which isn't very: khaki overalls, collared shirt, red fabric scrap that served as a bandanna, brown snow boots, pigtails, and a leather (not cowboy) hat of J's. Maddie has tried to replicate that outfit today (to some extent. Instead of a collared shirt, she picked a Steelers sweatshirt. And her hair is chin-length, no pigtails. I decided she looks like Scout Finch more than anyone). See, the few of us who were there DID have fun....

Next week is just before Read Across America day, so we're celebrating that, which is easy to prep for since I've done it before, and since this time it's less of a one-time event I'm going MUCH less overboard. We're just having simple cupcakes instead of, you know, Cheese Trees. (I just read the beginning of that linked entry and noticed I said I was going to start Family Nights as soon as we moved to the new building. So okay, apparently not for another almost-two years instead, but oh well).

So far our Monday Library Explorers times have focused on Mardi Gras (where we ate King Cake, threw beads at each other, and listened to zydeco music while making masks), and a Lego party (which required much less planning but was still awesome). We're so doing these Squishy Circuits in a few weeks and I'm abnormally excited about it. And this Monday we're doing Movie Making in honor of the Oscars, a program which I am, honestly, mostly going to be winging (I've got SOME stuff prepared). But in prep for that, I ended up getting pulled into a book on Digital Filmmaking, which I then brought home for myself. It pairs nicely with the online class on Screenwriting I'm supposedly taking. (I apparently didn't mention that here. Our library got access to this Universal Class collection of free online continuing ed classes and we all were supposed to log in and try one so we'd know what to do, and I'm three lessons in to the Screenwriting one but haven't gotten around to going back there in awhile). What with those and my video blog outings, I could be making myself a new hobby.

Assuming I even have time to read that book (let alone do those things). I've actually become excited about reading fiction again. But I'm still only halfway through the awesome Code Name Verity, and when I took the kids to the Big Library in the next town earlier this week, I couldn't help myself, and got Hope Larson's graphic novel of A Wrinkle in Time and Libba Bray's Diviners, even though I haven't even finished my other book in the past, what's it been, two or three weeks. Let alone doing more lessons in the Screenwriting class. And fitting in the typical household family obligations in with all this stuff, too. Oh, and though I never fit drum lessons into our schedule as of yet, I did CALL that music store the other way to see if they'd let me trade in my guitar for a smaller one that I'd be able to play better, theoretically, or maybe I'd just be more likely to try. I haven't heard back from them about that yet. And maybe I'm just being manic and that won't really happen, but...

...I'm getting into things. I'm DOING. I'm being active in my life, and it's really quite lovely. So it's not like I will NEVER READ ANYTHING ON THE INTERNET AGAIN, but I'm managing to drag myself away from it. I'm finding actual things to DO, and those things actually excite me. I can live with that.

-----------------------------------
*If you were concerned: I try to friends-lock those automatic "My Tweets" posts ASAP NOT because I don't want you, lovely-person-I-just-haven't-LiveJournal-friended, to READ My Tweets, but because it cleans up the blog for people passing through, gets more CONTENT on the front page. I suppose I could also set them to "private" when all I want is to save them for the records, too. But I don't. I'm not sure why. Because they're more things for a few people to occasionally comment on, at least? I like comments. GO AHEAD AND COMMENT BELOW! Even if you're a total stranger who doesn't have anything exciting to add! I'm okay with that!
rockinlibrarian: (hi maddie)
Hi folks. It's been awhile, mostly because I had the flu last week and the week before and OH MY GOSH... wait, never mind. I keep forgetting it's only the beginning of February, because I'm planning library events for the end of February, and keep forgetting my events in the middle of February haven't happened yet. Even though it should be fresh in my mind, since I was forced to change my Hobbit movie calendar today, which was very sad, because Mr. January was Bilbo and now it's February, which should delight all the Thorin fangirls but just does NOT fill me with irrepressible smile bubbles every time I walk by the calendar the way Mr. January did. Even Maddie is disappointed in Mr. February in comparison. She said, "He's scary." You know what she said, unprompted, about Mr. January? "That's my favorite guy!" Good taste, that child.

SO ANYWAY, it hasn't been QUITE as long since my last entry as I feared, because I have NOT actually DONE my February library* programs-- WAIT, I NEVER TOLD YOU ABOUT MY NEW LIBRARY PROGRAMS! I picked up some regular weekly program spots because we needed more programs aimed at elementary aged kids. So I'm doing what I call "Library Explorers" on Monday evenings, which is where I pick a fun topic and we find books and do activities and stuff around that topic. The first one is a Mardi Gras party. Elementary-kid-appropriate. Then Thursday evenings are Family Night Story Times, fun for all ages! Stop by!

So, I've been planning programs at work, recuperating at home-- until last weekend, when I started going on Cleaning Sprees. I'm typically blind to clutter, and ignore housework until it becomes Problematic (in my opinion, not the opinion of other people), but every so often I go into BERZERKER CLEANING FRENZIES and dive into thorough, day-long projects of it all (this is actually fairly typical of Type 9s. I AM NOT A FLUKE). That happened this past week. Oh, and I've been reading fiction, occasionally! I bought Terry Pratchett's latest, Dodger, on a whim on my Nook because it was on special, which I was enjoying right and dandy; but then yesterday a girl returned Code Name Verity (by Elizabeth Wein-- look at how "Wein" is just like "Weir" with an extra little line down the end! That's a good name for a writer) and I decided "I said I'd like to read this, but I think I want to read this NOW," so I checked it out and dove right in. Dodger is good, but it can wait. Both those books just won Printz Honors though. Good year for the Printz! Books I'm actually interested in!

But SPEAKING of the Youth Media Awards, that actually brings us to what I was going to tell you about all along. Sort of. See, I was going to get out of blogging by introducing you to my VLOG! but now I've already typed four full paragraphs so I suppose I haven't actually gotten out of anything.

Anyway, a month or so back a few of my Lycoris-Project friends decided to start a group video-blog, just to chat with each other. Or spew opinions at each other. I thought, that sounds crazy! Why would I ever do that? until I said Heck with it and did one. A video I mean. And I said "That was fun! And didn't take THAT much time! And is a new and exciting creative endeavor, and I need to START a new and exciting creative endeavor so as to remind myself that I can, indeed, create! And I am AWESOME when I can edit out my ums and terribly-long-pauses-when-I-can't-think-of-words! It's like WRITING, only out loud!" So I was added into the video rotation and have so far created four videos.

So getting back to speaking of the Youth Media Awards, that's what I did in this week's video. The topic of the week was supposed to be "Movie, Music, and Book Recommendations," but because that seemed like such an endlessly broad topic, I stuck to talking about the Youth Media Awards instead. And reading Elephant and Piggie books out loud:


Isn't that amazing, actually seeing ME in PERSON? YOU ARE DROOLING ALL OVER YOURSELVES WITH LOVE OF THE REAL ME, NOW, AREN'T YOU? Well, assuming you are, my other videos are here: in which I introduce myself, in which I blather about FANDOMS, and in which I respond to questions in what has been erroneously labeled a "Nerd Survey," even though the questions lean far more to "geek" than "nerd." You can also see the videos the others have made, assuming you would want to look at anyone who is not me after this.

So that's how I give you a blog without blogging! Although I blogged anyway! Thank you. Thank you very much.

---
*I keep spelling "February" wrong, and I only just realized that's because my fingers keep wanting to type "library." Well, February IS Library Lovers' Month. Probably due to spelling.
rockinlibrarian: (rebecca)
As I said when I reviewed... or talked about, or something... the first one, not one but TWO movies came out over the holiday season that I had to see in the theater because of my DEEP PERSONAL REASONS, and since I knew I could never write an objective, balanced review of either since I was coming into them with all this baggage, I decided instead to write about THE BAGGAGE and THEN tell you my reactions to the movies, so you'd know where I was coming from. It took me a little longer to get out to see the second one, but I knew I WOULD, because my sister had given me a Dinner And This Movie Sister-Date Coupon for Christmas. So now let me tell you about Les Miserables.

BACKSTORY!
As a geek in her mid-thirties, I've been somewhat bemused and yet intrigued by INTERNET FANDOMS. On one hand, I know what it is to geek out over things, and to find other people who love the same things and to bond with them. But on the other hand, I feel a bit removed-- my own style of visual art is far too abstract for fan art, and I never really got INTO fan fiction-- at least not the kind I want to exchange on the internet. I see people online who WON'T STOP SQUEALING about their one Favorite Fandom, people who even change their usernames to reflect their fannishness, and I'm like "Well if you're all changing your names I by all rights should be THE 'Imaginary-Mrs. Freeman,' BUT I'M NOT because it just seems silly to tie my entire online identity to ONE thing I love"-- though, admittedly, I did set up my college email account to say that my name was Hermione Granger BUT that was back when NOBODY KNEW WHO I WAS TALKING ABOUT so it was more of an in-joke and a subtle bit of advertizing of, yes, a cool bit of fiction I'd discovered and at that point felt that more people needed to know about, and also I only emailed people I already knew, who already knew there was more to me than my feelings for one book series, too...

But that's the point I'm getting to, now, which is, I'M OLDER. I've realized that the SUPER-BIG FANS online, who DO put all their energy and identity into their fandoms, are younger than me-- college-age, or teenagers. I've grown up-- I've got kids and spouse and bills and house and job and all those such things, which limits the sheer amount of TIME I can spend geeking out in a day; but even if I DID have the time, I'm NOT a teenager. I still have my passions, but they're no longer all-consuming. The prefrontal cortex is complete, the hormones have settled down, and I don't have this life-depending NEED TO DEFINE MYSELF TO THE WORLD any more.

I went through that period not exactly PRE-Internet, but Pre-Average-Person-Using-Internet. The Internet seemed science-fictionish and a little creepy to me in middle and high school. Email was the big socio-technological discovery of college, and even then, beyond a few of us naming our email accounts after favorite fictional characters, Defining Oneself By Ones Passions on the Internet was limited, among my peers, to chat rooms and personal webpages built on Geocities.

But what if Internet Fandoms HAD existed when I was a teenager? DEAR LORD what would have happened when I first got into the Beatles? (Still, today, when I was trying to think of any of my fandoms I'd go so far as to DEFINE myself by, The Beatles top the list as likely). But all the other passions-- what would I have named myself, at various times? BandGirl? Animaniac? BroadwayBound?

...about that last one. From when I was about 12 to 15 I was obsessed with musical theater. As shy and awkward as I was, I still thought SOMEDAY I WILL BE A BROADWAY STAR (and a writer. I was always going to be a writer, I just changed the OTHER career I would do to earn money at the same time. And hey, Madeleine L'Engle went that route). And by "Broadway Star" I DO mean "in musicals." None of that purely-spoken-word play stuff for me. There was no POINT in acting unless there were musical numbers (and to this day I don't get why actors should have someone else do their singing for them, in movies. HOW CAN SOMEONE BE TALENTED WITHOUT KNOWING HOW TO SING? ...what. Anyway, obviously I will write more about this later).

I'm not sure EXACTLY when this started. I'd always loved musicals, and we had a lot of soundtracks, and this was about the time of the Great Disney Movie Revival and I spent a lot of time singing to The Little Mermaid and being convinced that if Ariel was known for her BEAUTIFUL BEAUTIFUL VOICE then I was set because I could sing just like her... but no, that did come later, because we had that soundtrack on CD. We got a CD player for the first time the Christmas I was 11. Because my dad had gotten my mom tickets to see some weird French show, and he wanted to also give her the soundtrack to get to know beforehand, and it was only available on CD, so my dad decided it was long since time to move into the high-tech future of the swiftly-approaching 1990s.

So that was it, our first CD, a two-disk set of some stuffy-sounding French thing with a depressed little urchin girl's head on the front.

But OH! that music. Why would an eleven-year-old fall in love with such a dense, depressing story that she didn't really understand, you ask? (Actually, I saw this sort of nifty piece about how tweens like it because it's secretly a SUPERHERO STORY the other week, but don't think it applied to me). Because the music moved me and swept me away! So I studied all the, uh, liner notes-- the booklet that came with the CD-- read the story and the lyrics. My dad got the piano music for it and I tried playing it myself-- I had "Bring Him Home" memorized (on piano-- I had the whole SHOW memorized in WORDS) for years, and can still fumble through a bit of it.

I remember trying to tell the rest of my table in my sixth-grade art class about it, but I hadn't gotten farther than "he was in jail for stealing a loaf of bread" before the others decided that that was STUPID so had stopped listening to me, which is probably for the best because I hadn't gotten to the bit about the "whores" yet and I was pretty sure that was pronounced like "wars."

The next year my parents got tickets for a showing in Cleveland-- tickets for me, too! We went out for the weekend and stayed with cousins, and we took off to see the SHOW, and I got a T-SHIRT, which was a good thing because I'd forgotten to pack pajamas so my new shirt would do!

There's a bit in one of my middle school English class journals where I wondered what my peers thought of that t-shirt-- if they ever saw mention of Les Miz elsewhere, and when they did, if they associated it with me. Because certainly no one else I knew had that t-shirt. No one else talked about the show. It was MINE, my favorite thing, uninfluenced by anyone else's opinion.

I loved it, but only on my own.* I wondered if there was some WAY to get other people to love it. If only, I thought, THERE WAS A MOVIE. All the old musicals, the Rogers and Hammerstein types, had movies, a simple way to introduce oneself to the shows when seeing a stage production wasn't possible. Though my family did our best to convert the people in, well, my PARENTS' lives, by hosting a sort of mass field trip to a Pittsburgh production when I was in 8th grade. I CAN'T remember if this might have even happened twice. (Probably not. I can only definitely remember FOUR particular productions in my life**, but it FEELS like there should have been more).

Insert-- in between the events in that paragraph and this next paragraph, I also read the book. This is one of those instances when bookworm-me's experience with a book IS greatly overshadowed by the adaptation. I did like the book. Although I read a weirdly abridged version-- it managed to skip right over the part of Fantine's story from after she got fired to her deathbed-- censorious abridgers? Whatever. Anyhoo, it's a good story, but it's the music that is MINE.

But it was a few years AFTER I stopped dressing up as Eponine and using the old wooden sliding board in the basement as a barricade, a few years AFTER I decided that, while I loved performing, I didn't actually have the drive to REALLY be a Broadway star, that finally my classmates would know what I was talking about. My last year of high school I took not one but TWO separate school field trips to Les Miz productions: one actually on Broadway, which oddly enough was probably the LEAST impressive production I've seen (not that that's saying much), and another in Pittsburgh, which is famous in my memory for being the event at which the Marius to my own Eponine stopped talking to me-- or I stopped talking to him, I'm not sure which-- starting off a month straight of our Blatantly Ignoring each other. I sat through "On My Own" staring at him, thinking, "Don't you feel sorry for her? Don't you know that's what you do to me? Aren't you totally going to rewrite this story to give her a better ending just from being moved by her point of view? Probably not, this actress has a distressingly annoying voice."

And then I went off to college, and all my musical soundtracks-- because they actually belonged to my parents-- stayed home, and I got a classic rock radio show so my own music collection evolved accordingly, and I didn't think so much about, let alone listen to, showtunes anymore. I actually kind of went off Rogers and Hammerstein and Andrew Lloyd Webber almost completely (with the exceptions of The Sound of Music and Jesus Christ Superstar respectively). Still listened to Guys and Dolls and Into the Woods occasionally, and to Godspell frequently (but that was more hippie than showtune, really). But I don't even have my own copy of Les Miz. I probably would listen to it if I did. And not having it certainly doesn't keep me from getting "One Day More" in my head very, very often (which is my favorite song in the show, let alone one that gets into your head every time there's just one day more until something).

And then, a year or so ago, I hear that they're turning the musical theater love of my adolescence into a movie. And I don't know how to react. A MOVIE. FINALLY. AFTER ALL THIS TIME. STARRING WOLVERINE. WHAT?! Am I excited? Or am I incredulous? Or am I indifferent? WHERE WAS THIS TWENTY YEARS AGO?

But over the next year, an amazing thing happened. The Internet started talking, and I discovered I hadn't been alone. I had NOT been the only tween/young teen obsessed with this depressing, weird-sounding French show. We were ALL out there. We were ALL singing and reenacting on piles of old furniture, dressed in imaginary rags. We were ALL, apparently, identifying with Eponine (deal with it, Cosette), singing "On My Own" to ourselves over every unrequited crush. HAD I BUT KNOWN that there must have been a girl like me in every school, thinking that she was the only one feeling this way... but if we had had the Internet back then? Maybe we would have found each other much sooner.

In Which I Finally Talk About the Long-Awaited Movie***

So where to begin? The first thing is the music-- so glorious, so familiar. Startling how many songs I'd COMPLETELY FORGOTTEN ABOUT until they started again. And then there were blinking sorts of "Oh, wait, WHAT?" reactions every time a song moved to a different place in the line-up, or verses got cut, or words got changed. Granted, most of the changes made sense enough, and I'll come back to some of them in a minute, but the main point is, it was like a rediscovery of the awesome. Though when "One Day More" started I almost cried simply because it's "One Day More"! There on the screen happening in front of me! (I don't know if it was just because the song is so huge for me personally, but it almost seemed anticlimactic on screen. Maybe because it wasn't an Act I Finale here, so it didn't need to be bombastic).

Speaking of crying, do NOT expect to get through the movie unmoved. I was already in tears ten minutes in (at that). By the second half of the movie I think I'd gone numb, so actually cried LESS as everybody and their brother died (NOT SPOILERS! 200-YEAR-OLD TEXT! IT SAYS "MISERABLE" RIGHT IN THE TITLE!), and didn't really cry again until the end. It's amazing the difference I had in UNDERSTANDING what was going on now than I did as a teen-- sure, I BASICALLY knew the story, but things like Valjean's conversion at the beginning, and the political issues, and even some of the random metaphors and turns of phrase in the lyrics, all had new meaning to me now.

But that was all pretty much already established by the musical itself. The real questions are, how does it translate to the screen?

The thing that fascinated me most was the grounding in SETTING. It was pretty COOL onstage, with setting being evoked on a rotating stage with a few pieces of furniture and fancy light effects (and a barricade). But seeing it in REAL PLACES grounded it, and actually brought in more details from the book that had been left out of the stage version, like the details of Valjean and Cosette's escape to the convent, and just the simple, well, SETTING of Marius living in the same building as the Thenardiers in Paris, where Eponine would just pop on over to see him. I love the intricacies, the details, the layout of the cities.

Further grounding the experience was the acting. If you've been following the news articles and such about it, you'll know a big deal was made of the singing being live-- "raw," not prerecorded but performed right on camera. This probably helped in my "I understand this so much more than I did as a kid!" too-- you could really see the context of each line. The focus was on the acting, not on the making of music. And yet the making of music wasn't half bad, either. IT WAS HAPPENING ALL AT ONCE. I had at least one moment of thinking "How on earth can Anne Hathaway keep singing so well when she's crying so hard! She should just be allowed to break down for a bit and the camera will be back for her later."

ANNE HATHAWAY. She just won a Golden Globe for the part, minutes, in fact, after I got home from seeing the movie, THINKING "all the awards she's being buzzed for, she totally deserves." She was stand-out incredible-- stunning, flawless, the kind of acting that makes you go "WOW"-- I mean you'd think it would be BAD to stand out as an actor, that you'd want someone who blends in with the story and doesn't take you out of it-- but it's not the kind of performance that takes you OUT, it draws you IN, COMPELS you. (Maybe she learned it from working with Julie Andrews, who's always one of the first people I think of as AMAZINGLY COMPELLING THIS WAY. Also Martin Freeman. That may just be me, though). I very nearly burst into applause at the end of "I Dreamed a Dream." I was glad SOME other people at least applauded at the end of the movie with me!

Hugh Jackman won a Golden Globe for Valjean, too, and I agree he was also very good (though not QUITE as stunningly compelling), certainly more than I ever imagined when I first heard he'd have the part. But why should I be surprised? After all, I always thought actors OUGHT to be good at singing (this is probably because my school district growing up had a renowned music department, and the school always had musicals-- didn't mix in straight spoken plays until my junior or senior year)! I thought the rest of the cast was well-cast, too-- excellent in acting, in singing, and pretty-good-if-not-excellent in looks. My sister and I both noticed that Cosette actually has nearly the same facial profile as her mother, just with different-color hair, and I was kind of impressed about how much young Cosette and Eponine looked like their older counterparts. Marius I had a weird problem with the looks of, though-- he was perfectly excellent, just something in his looks bothered me. I thought Enjolras had more of the look I imagined for Marius. But my sister thought he was cute, so obviously that was just me. My favorite performance after Fantine was Gavroche. That kid was just perfect. The Platonic Form of Gavroche.

And let's talk about poor Russell Crowe. He's been getting so slammed in reviews that I honestly was impressed when I actually saw him, because he was so much better than the critics had led me to believe. Which is not to say he was perfect. He WAS the weak link, performance-wise. His biggest problem-- maybe his only problem-- was that he wasn't STEELY enough for Javert. I understand making him sympathetic, but that's not the same as making him weak. I had a hard time believing that man could REALLY hold a grudge and keep up a relentless pursuit for decades. But his singing was fine, and otherwise his acting was fine, so I suppose we can cut him a break.

Speaking of faults and of cutting things a break, I feel like I need to apologize to The Hobbit movie now for the fault-- the one REAL fault-- I accused it of in my review. That movie has gotten unfairly slammed by too many critics, so I want to take back any needless criticism of my own. Maybe it COULD have been edited better, but now I'm not so sure, because that occasional feeling of "Are we getting to the point? But no, don't cut anything because I'm busy basking in it" is EXACTLY how I ALSO felt watching Les Miz. Maybe it's just something about watching in the theater-- sitting in a chair like that for so long messes with your patience. Or maybe it's just an anxiousness related to SORT of knowing what's going to happen, but not knowing EXACTLY, so you're on your toes, anticipating everything that's coming later. (With Les Miz I had a little running voice in my head going, "EponineEponineEponineEponineEponineEponine..." the whole first part, and admittedly that little voice was annoyed that she died so soon. There'd been entirely too little time with her!) It feels, both times, like an impatience that WILL abate while I'm watching it again in the comfort of my own home, already assured of what's going to happen, just watching to bask in it.

And I certainly will. "I'm so going to buy this DVD. I so need to own this," I was thinking at the end. So I can watch it any time I want, basking in it, just liked I wished I could so desperately over twenty years ago.

------
*Do I need to point out that I'm playing with references here? Just so you don't think it was an accident.
**This one was an accident. I mean, for all you know it could be a Beatles reference.
***Which sounds like a reference to the OTHER movie I saw. I just like to make things confusing for you.
rockinlibrarian: (christmas)
My high school concert band played (a band arrangement of) this song, "A Christmas Festival," every year at our Christmas concert. It was a tradition, that mostly carried over year to year because it was JUST THAT FUN to play (tricksy, but FUN-tricksy. Hear that fast part the strings are playing in the background of "Deck the Halls" about a minute in? Imagine playing that on clarinet), and everyone kept insisting on it, year after year:


At about 7:18 in the above video, a section begins that, well, is played correctly, here. It wasn't at my high school for many years. It was nice enough-- a chaotic, fortissimo explosion of jingle-bell joy. Then one day our director (who'd been at our school about a year and must have suffered all last year hearing that part of the song wrong, too, if she didn't bring it up until now) stopped us and asked, "Can any of you hear what the trombones are doing there?"

We all (except the trombones) glanced silently at each other, hoping the question was rhetorical. I had no idea what the trombones were doing there.

"Well, let's hear it," she said, waving toward the low brass section, "just the trombones at [whatever bar number that was]."

And then, clear as day, we finally heard the beginning of "O Come All Ye Faithful."

A bit of a sheepish gasp spread through the band. "I LIKED the sound you were giving me," the director continued. "I still want you to play loudly. Just MAKE SURE YOU CAN HEAR THE TROMBONES."

Anyway, I like this story. It feels metaphorical. I don't know what it's metaphorical FOR. The importance of listening for the low, slow voices being drowned out by the high panicky ones? The need to feel the deep underlying flow of joy in the season underneath the frantic rushing about of the holidays? Remembering not to let the True Meaning of Christmas get buried under the wild gaudy commercialism? Or is this just a story about my past that I remember when I hear this song? Whatever you want it to be.

If I don't talk to you again before then, MERRY CHRISTMAS, WORLD. And, as always, I want to share this song with you, but now I even have the clip so you can listen:
rockinlibrarian: (eggman)
Are you the sort of person who sits in the car with the keys on auxiliary so you can listen to the rest of the song on the radio before you get out?

People joke about such people BECAUSE WE EXIST. And it's not illogical a bit. I was pondering that this evening* as I sat in my garage with "Tonight Tonight" blasting out around me, even as I knew it was already late and I had to relieve the sick husband and get the kids to bed though first making the incredibly stubborn 3 year old take her medicine... one could argue that that was why I was procrastinating in the car, but it wasn't really. I just didn't want to leave the car. I wanted to stay there surrounded by Smashing Pumpkins. And I'm not even that into Smashing Pumpkins. IT'S DIFFERENT IN THE CAR.

I'm not technically an audiogeek. Partly because I'm too cheap, but mostly just out of practicality. Rarely do I let myself just sit and LISTEN to music-- though it does happen sometimes, and somehow nearly EVERY time I put on Abbey Road, (okay, even then it's not JUST sitting but involves a great deal of air drumming. Some day Lovely Rita and the Meter Maids WILL exist, and I WILL BE READY!) -- but mostly I need to be moving around or working at things that can't be positioned at the perfect acoustical angle from my (crappy old, cheap radio, or mono-computer) speakers. And headphones annoy me. I don't like being tied to a cord. Even if I had CORDLESS headphones, they'd still be sticking that music right in my ears in a gratingly pushy way. I prefer to give music space in the air to dance.

This is why the car is the perfect place for music. Like listening on headphones, you've got stereo-surround-sound swirling close around you as you sit still and let it, but with more FREEDOM for you-- not only cordless and NOT right-in-your-ears, but you can also technically GO somewhere WHILE you're sitting still! And there are no distractions: just driving and music, which apparently use such completely different parts of the brain that you CAN focus on both simultaneously. Granted I DO have a certain mix CD that subconsciously causes speeding (it's something about playing "Ecstasy," "Rock and Roll," and "Barracuda" right in a row. TRY IT. On a long straight open road without cops). It MIGHT be that the passenger seat is REALLY the best place to listen to music, but WHO'S DRIVING? Do they like the same music as you? Would they prefer the radio at a RESPECTABLE volume? Would you be required to CONVERSE with them?!

I like to drive by myself, with the radio filling the space. I like the freedom to flip radio stations obsessively, trying to find the Best Thing On Right Now (those who have driven anywhere with me know that I don't entirely restrict myself in this respect with other people, either). I like this opportunity to just commune with the music, in a car-shaped cocoon of sound. It's, ironically, my Quiet Time, a time to recenter and catch my breath, changing the chaos of the world into the order of harmonically-arranged frequencies in pleasing patterns. You ever have one of those transcendental moments where the colors go brighter and you feel like you're seeing in a sort of 3D that makes the old world that you thought was already 3D feel strangely flat in comparison, and the whole universe is in harmony and you're ALIVE? I'm pretty sure every one of those moments happened while I was driving and listening to music.

But I don't have to be driving. Just sitting in a parking lot, being absorbed by the music, is more than enough for me.

How do you like to listen to music? Are you a stay-til-the-end car listener, too?

*Obviously this was composed last night, as it's being posted in the middle of the day.
rockinlibrarian: (sherlock)
I have made a lot of progress with One Book this week, so it's time to take a break and mess around on the Internet. And TWO PEOPLE posted SURVEYS yesterday. What timing! Anymore YEARS can go by without those surveys, those surveys I was so addicted to once. I think they happen a lot on Tumblr anymore, but as I've said, Tumblr bewilders me.

So, Two Surveys
Two Surveys Under the Cut In Case You Don't Care About Surveys )
rockinlibrarian: (eggman)
So right as I post my big long thing about music ...yesterday? Yes it was just yesterday, [livejournal.com profile] vovat posted one of them thar survey-meme-type things on the subject of, you know, MUSIC. And I SAID I'd say more on the topic, and I MISS taking surveys, so hey, perfect timing, here you go:

List 10 random musical artists you like in no specific order. Warning: Do not read the questions below before listing your favorite artists.

1. The Beatles
2. Pink Floyd
3. Chicago
4. Led Zeppelin
5. Crosby Stills Nash and Sometimes Y...oung
6. Carole King
7. Billy Joel
8. The Mamas and the Papas
9. U2
10. Last slot, uh... the Beach Boys

What’s the first song you ever heard by #6?
No clue, probably "I Feel The Earth Move," but it might have been something like "Alligators All Around" or "Chicken Soup with Rice" at preschool and I just didn't know. But like I hadn't probably heard "I Feel The Earth Move" by that time, anyway.

What’s your favorite song by #8?
OH THAT'S HARD. Sometimes it's "Creeque Alley," sometimes "Dream a Little Dream," depends on my mood. Sometimes something totally different, with more harmony than either of those two. How could I have picked a favorite Mamas & Papas song that wasn't harmony heavy? What am I THINKING?

What are your favorite lyrics by #5?
"Helplessly Hoping." Insert entire song here:
Helplessly hoping
Her harlequin hovers nearby
Awaiting a word
Gasping at glimpses
Of gentle true spirit
He runs, wishing he could fly
Only to trip at the sound of good-bye

Wordlessly watching
He waits by the window
And wonders
At the empty place inside
Heartlessly helping himself to her bad dreams
He worries
Did he hear a good-bye? Or even hello?

They are one person
They are two alone
They are three together
They are for each other

Stand by the stairway
You'll see something
Certain to tell you confusion has its cost
Love isn't lying
It's loose in a lady who lingers
Saying she is lost
And choking on hello

They are one person
They are two alone
They are three together
They are for each other


I like lyrics that sound pretty and evocative but don't necessarily make any literal sense.

What song by #3 makes you the happiest?
"Saturday in the Park." I get thrilled to hear something rarer and awesome like "Dialogue Parts 1&2," but "Saturday in the Park" is one of those capturing-of-sunny-everything songs.

When did you first get into #2?
I'm not really sure-- I went from hating them to their being my second-favorite-band rather
inexplicably. It was in college, in the fall: I was listening to a whole-album countdown on the radio and noticed the Floyd albums were really good for doing homework to; then my cousin decided that Thanksgiving that we'd do the watch-The-Wizard-Of-Oz-while-listening-to-Dark-Side-of-the-Moon thing, and when the album ended I didn't enjoy the movie half so much. The thing with Floyd is they're an ALBUM band. You can't appreciate them from "Another Brick in the Wall pt 2" being played over and over out of context on the radio. So I had to hear them in the album context before I got into it.

How did you get into #3?
My dad decided it would be fun to take his daughters (or was it just me? Yes, maybe Maggie was too young) to a real rock concert, so he looked at the list of concerts coming up and picked a couple he wanted to see. Then he asked me, "Would you like to see the Four Seasons or Chicago?" Well, I hated the Four Seasons, so I claimed Chicago, and then ended up going to their concert every summer for something like the next five years.

What is your favorite song by #4?
I usually say it's "Over the Hills and Far Away," but I'm never sure.

Have you seen #9 live? How many times?
Nope. I don't even think I've seen them in concert on TV. Huh.

Favorite album by #7?
The Stranger, though I have a special place in my heart for An Innocent Man.

What’s your favorite song by #1?
DUH. Also, here's me attempting to answer this question more fully.

How did you become a fan of #10?
An actual FAN? I mean, as a kid I liked dancing around to all the famous surf-pop songs just as much as anybody. But I think it was picking out the special ones, like "Good Vibrations" and "God Only Knows" and thinking, Hmm, there's more to these guys, isn't there? And I hear talk about Pet Sounds being so influential and had to see what that was all about, and I on a whim listened to Brian Wilson's Smile and suddenly realized what it would have sounded like had the Beach Boys done it and thought WHOA... and I guess it all sort of came together like that.

How long have you known #9?
Since sometime in childhood? But not very well, I pretty much just knew "I Still Haven't Found What I'm Looking For," and I remember listening to some kind of annoying song in high school and thinking they were some kind of metal hiphop weird thing that wasn't to my taste-- so I'm guessing, again, my real answer is "Sometime in college."

Top 5 by #5.
Shoot. Difficult. Does this have to be in order? I'm erasing the numbers so there isn't an order:
-- Helplessly Hoping, since I already mentioned it.
-- Woodstock
-- Suite: Judy Blue Eyes
-- Guinnevere
-- Ohio

Have you ever seen #10 live?
As a matter of fact, yes. Not with Brian Wilson, just Those Other Guys. It was in some kind of festival-like show at Three Rivers Stadium, and there were a bunch of other smaller acts I can't remember. Eddie Money and Christopher Cross. I can't remember any more. Maybe if another one pops into my head I'll mention it.

Have you ever met #4?
HAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAHAH no.

What’s your favorite album by #1?
Abbey Road. Or maybe Revolver. Depends on my mood.

Favorite lyric by #7?
I've always been fondest of "They're sharing a drink they call loneliness, but it's better than drinking alone." There might be more if I stretch for them, but I'm not going to.

What’s #2’s best song?
"Best" in what sense? I think "Fearless" is my favorite. Maybe "Wish You Were Here."

How many times have you seen #2 live?
Uh, none. I once tried to win tickets to see Roger Waters off the radio, but by the time I got through they'd already gotten the winner. :P

Which one of these have you known the longest?
In what sense? A lot of them-- over half-- are also my parents' favorites, so I've known them since possibly before I was born. The first one I became a FAN of was Billy Joel. I was five. I liked dancing to "Uptown Girl."

Favorite song by #9?
"Where the Streets Have No Name"
rockinlibrarian: (love)
A little over 34 years ago, I was annoyed with the world. Why was I stuck in this useless body with an overly gassy digestive system? Why were there so many SENSATIONS? Rough textures and hot and cold and bright and moving and loud? When it all became too much to bear, just one thing could calm me down: my dad (or, The One Without Milk) would sit me on his lap and play the piano (or: That Huge Thing In the Corner).

That was IT. It made everything make sense-- or, it made sense and blocked everything that didn't make sense out. It opened up my brain and convinced me that maybe life was worth living after all.

Okay, I don't remember that. I'm only assuming based on what I've been told, and from the way I still feel about it. Except not sitting on my dad's lap. And as an adult I came to the shocking realization that my dad is actually a worse piano player than me, which is saying something.

I'm still especially partial to the piano, but it's music in general that does it, and my tastes get broader all the time. Well, broader AND pickier. I'm not sure how that works, but it's true. GOOD music (that's it, that's the kind I'm talking about: broad in style, picky in quality) seeps through my body like a drug, calming and energizing at once, doing something inside my skull that I can physically FEEL-- like the top of my brain lifts up to let it all inside.

I've been meaning to write this post for quite awhile, but it's changed over the past few months, probably as the Zoloft kicked in. It WAS going to be primarily about the Depression Mix I made in high school, and how I use music specifically when I'm down. But it's BIGGER than that. Music not only brings you up when you're down-- or wraps you comfortingly in empathic melancholy itself-- or calms when you're anxious-- or energizes when you're lethargic-- it also fills with joy when you're already doing all right. Music is the voice of God-- it's order and beauty out of what could be chaos. It's the purest of art forms: BEING, not just representing; HAPPENING, not just made once to sit there.

Even when I started writing the post those months ago, I knew it was bigger than the Depression Mix theme. I wrote the following for an opening anecdote, but it's really nothing like the Depression Mix at all, except for the Feeling Better Through Music part, and maybe that's why I never finished the post as planned:

My college radio station, when I was there in the late 90s, had two afternoon shifts every weekday-- four hours a day five days a week-- because the kids of our generation were probably the only teenagers in history to, in large numbers, prefer the music of our parents' generation to our own-- devoted to a Classic Rock show called "Afternoon Archives." That was the show I did for six of my eight semesters there, and I made a point of tuning in to support the other deejays every other time I was free. Once I was having a particularly glum day-- I can't remember why, maybe I was just in a mood-- but I recall I'd just got back to my room from math class, dumped my bag in a huff and dropped into the computer chair, switching on the radio on the way.

I can't remember the exact songs now, but they ROCKED. One after another. As the first was coming to an end, I felt let down, that the next song couldn't possibly live up to it, but the next song turned out even MORE awesome. And so did the song after that. And so on. It was like the deejay KNEW exactly what music I needed to hear just then! The effect was so amazing that I had to call the station just to tell him so.

"THANK YOU," I said emphatically.
"You're welcome," he said. "While you've got me on the phone, is there another song I can play for you?"
"I don't know, you're doing such a great job... maybe some Hendrix," I decided, figuring something Purple Haze-y would fit my mood all right-- though I wasn't sure it was QUITE what I wanted.

But he played "Voodoo Child," which I hadn't even considered (maybe because I didn't actually own it myself at the time). And the moment that catchy little riff of an intro crashed down into that massive storm of electricity and drums, I'm pretty sure my jaw literally dropped. This was...EXACTLY...what I needed. The deliberate tempo, the pounding of the instruments, grabbed my heart like a paranormal paramedic performing CPR from the inside, filling me up with energy and life. The minor key, the angry intensity, channeled my bad mood into a defiant "YES!" I grabbed the phone-- me, the one with the calling-people-on-the-phone phobia-- and nearly dialed the station again, just to tell the deejay "OMG! HOW ARE YOU DOING THIS?! HOW ARE YOU READING MY SOUL?! YOU ARE THE MOST AWESOMEST DEEJAY OF ALL TIME!" But I thought I might come over as a BIT too much of a psychotic groupie, so I let it go.

...Another post I've considered writing for months is one about What makes someone a Geek FOR something-- or, the various levels of fandom-- or something. There's a reason my Internet username is Rockinlibrarian. I'm geeky in many ways, but MUSIC --particularly rock music, but any kind of music (my dad certainly wasn't playing rock on the piano all those years ago)-- is one of the two topics on the very top of my Geekout List. It's a subject I feel very very VERY --very, and also very strongly about. Now, I've been out of the loop, lately. Other people who might be considered LESS PASSIONATE on the subject know a whole lot more obscure bands than I do anymore. Maybe it has to do with linking to new music on the Internet? Because I spend a lot of my Internet time without speakers. Or time. But whatever it is, I almost feel like I'm unable to claim the term "Music Geek" anymore, just because so many people seem to be a lot more well-listened (that's the music equivalent of "well-read") than me.

But that reminds me of something that bugged me in college. I had a lot-- as in, probably a majority-- of friends who were music majors. I was not-- I was first English, then Elementary Ed, because I knew I'd become a librarian eventually (other half of username. See? See what I did there?). Now, I don't think they ever outright said this, or even insinuated it, or even thought it... but I often felt the music majors had this unfair pretense of OWNERSHIP of music. They all loved music SOOOO MUCH, and so they majored in it. Of course that doesn't HAVE to mean that not majoring in it means you love it less, but it still ate at me. I was sometimes AFRAID to geek out about music in case I'd be looked on as an interloper or something, Not a Music Major. ...which was crazy. Maybe that's why I put so much energy into my radio show. And the church choir. One of my best friends and I were in the church choir together at college-- she had this amazing bird-like Soprano 1 voice-- I was a Soprano 2, and her roommate, who also happened to be my best friend from high school, a rich contralto-- one of my favorite memories is of the three of us walking around campus singing Mamas and Papas songs in harmony-- none of the three of us was a music major, but we loved to make music, and... okay, I'm getting to the point now...

Music is something anyone can and should do. Sure, some people are more talented than others. Some people have more training than others. But to leave it JUST to the professionals? No. It should be done all the time, by anyone, for no particular reason! It's participatory. It's FULLER than other things. It uses more of the brain. It is prayer, even coming from atheists. In all honesty, one of the times I'm absolutely sure I heard God talking to me-- not in the sense of "hearing voices," but in the sense that one of my own voices in my own head seemed to be coming from a much wiser and bigger source than me-- it was when I was feeling hopeless and depressed and a complete mess, but I was trying to sing along at church, and what I heard-- or sensed-- or felt, in words, was just: "I like to hear you sing."

That means everything, really. It doesn't mean I have a holy vocation to be a professional musician. But it means that when I raise my voice in song, I'm alive, I'm one with creation, HARMONIOUS. It means don't be afraid to let it all out.

And I think I got off track again. I started off talking about LISTENING to music. I had planned to write about the effects LISTENING to particular kinds of music has on me. Maybe I still will. I'll go into the thinking behind the Depression Mix and how I would change it up today, and talk about the other sorts of music for other sorts of times. Today is a day for laying out the basics. Or, laying down the beat. We'll get on with the jamming, later.
rockinlibrarian: (eggman)
Tonight I will not be within range of a television or a computer.

Normally this wouldn't be a problem. Well, the television part wouldn't be a problem. But tonight is the Opening Ceremony of the Olympic Games! The LONDON Olympic Games, I say with emphasis.

Because I am, just generally, an Olympic junkie. Oh, I'm not into sports at all, and to those who brush it off as A Big Deal Over SPORTS, yuck, and COMPETITION, yuck, and FORCED PATRIOTISM-- yes, I know you people are out there, and I respect your opinion, except that YOU ARE WRONG. The Olympics are about people coming together from all over the world! The Olympics are about people striving to be their best, to meet their dreams! They're about people from all over coming together over something they all love passionately! They're about WEIRD sports you don't SEE all the time (I'm actually more fond of the Winter Games than the Summer ones for this reason, but I'll go for some synchronized diving just as much as for snowboard-cross)! They're about heartwarming stories of perseverance! They're about the mixing of cultures...

Which brings me to the emphasis.

I have been looking forward to these Opening Ceremonies ever since the Closing Ceremonies in Beijing, when Jimmy Page showed up in the "Our Next Host City IS..." segment.

OMG. LONDON.

Inevitably, in the Opening and Closing Ceremonies, the host country shows off their most Internationally Renowned performing artists.

This host country's most Internationally Renowned performing artist? FRIGGIN' PAUL MCCARTNEY. Who IS, as it turns out, scheduled to perform tonight. But even if he wasn't, even if they went with their SECOND most Internationally Renowned Performing Artist-- which, I couldn't tell you who that IS, exactly, but if they DID, they would be SOMEONE AWESOME.

Okay, they've probably got non-rock stars involved, too. The show likely WON'T be devoted ENTIRELY to classic Brit Rock. In fact, I heard they're having a salute to classic British Literature... WELL DANG, people, it's not like I'm any less a fan of British Literature! I was a fan of British Literature BEFORE I was a fan of Brit Rock!

Pink Floyd is on the radio right now. That was one of the rumors about Olympic Ceremony performers: that Pink Floyd would reunite for it. Okay, they ARE my second-favorite band and all, but I really can't see it. Maybe if they did "Fearless." "Fearless" would be a good Olympics song. But my point is, the number of TOTAL LEGENDS the UK has to call on to perform is just mindboggling. Ag, I suppose you could say the US has an even more mindbogglingly large pool of legends, but we're also a mindbogglingly large country (NATION, more like. I'm pretty sure Southern California IS a different country from Western PA. Possibly a different planet). And besides, face it, I'm just a TOTAL BRIT ROCK NUT. Gads, who else could they have? I know they already did Page, but yeah, Zeppelin? The Who? Cream? Wasn't a Cream reunion rumor going around there, too?

My point is... I'm not actually sure what my point is. Oh. Good music + Olympics = Awesome. I guess that's my point.

So, ENJOY WATCHING STUFF LIVE tonight for me. Or sort of liveish. Depending on your timezone. I'll catch up on the replays next week I guess.
rockinlibrarian: (eggman)
I’ve been nominated by [livejournal.com profile] vovat (but on his Wordpress blog) for the Versatile Blogger Award.

Here are the rules:

If you are nominated, you’ve been awarded the Versatile Blogger award.

Thank the person who gave you this award. That’s common courtesy.
Why, thank you, Nathan!
Include a link to their blog. That’s also common courtesy — if you can figure out how to do it.
Next, select 15 blogs/bloggers that you’ve recently discovered or follow regularly. (I would add, pick blogs or bloggers that are excellent!)
Nominate those 15 bloggers for the Versatile Blogger Award — you might include a link to this site.
Finally, tell the person who nominated you 7 things about yourself.


Right. But lots of my favorite bloggers have huge followings and professional formats that make them hardly likely to care about such a meme. So this is more a chance for me to share with YOU some awesome-- and versatile-- blogs I follow that YOU should check out, or even possibly follow, if you don't already. It's advertising for great blogs, which I think is the point in the first place.

1. The Bloggess is my new favorite. I can't stop talking about her, and I thank [livejournal.com profile] iamdamanda profusely for pointing her out to me. I am THANKFUL for the Bloggess, for being simultaneously a great advocate for folks with depression and anxiety, AND unbelievably freakin' hilarious. Seriously, funniest blog you will ever follow.

2. A Fuse #8 Production is my classic favorite blog. Granted, as far as "Versatility" goes, the subject IS strictly children's literature, but within that general topic, my #1 blogger girl-crush Betsy covers everything with gusto and humor. And of course THERE ARE THE COUNTDOWNS.

3. E Louise Bates -- shout-out to a smaller more-likely-to-get-an-Award-Meme blog (and it's not only both versatile AND likely-to-get-the-award, I'm pretty sure it already DID relatively recently), run by my dear virtual friend [livejournal.com profile] elouise82. Louise not only has excellent taste in both literature and television and an occasional tendency to post recipes, she writes about everything in a compelling way, encouraging responses and conversations, and coming up with fun lists.

4. Bookshelves of Doom is definitely versatile, covering pretty much whatever catches her fancy (or raises her ire). There is of course (with a name like "Bookshelves of Doom") a tendency to be about books, with frequent reviews, links to book-and-library-related news, and librarian jokes. But they'll be bits about movies and TV (it's her fault I started watching Sherlock-- also, she agrees that Martin Freeman is the most awesome person on that show so that makes her worth following right there) and musicals and her cats and random geeky funny junk that really can be appreciated best by geeky bookish girls of our generation.

5. Nine Kinds of Pie --if Betsy Bird is my #1 Blogger Girl-Crush, my Blogger Straight-up Crush is definitely Phil Nel. He's a children's literature professor/scholar (ie, geek) who takes the name of his blog from my (and his) favorite picture book. Any time he's not discussing children's lit on his blog, he's posting playlists and talking about music (loved this recent post about musical taste). Seriously, MY USERNAME IS ROCKIN. LIBRARIAN. How is it we're not married already? (Kidding. You know I'd never abandon Martin. ...Jason, I meant. I'm married to JASON).

6. Screwy Decimal is a snarky public librarian in Brooklyn. You may just need to follow her on Twitter for the full effect, but even if you only follow the blog, you'll encounter stories from the trenches that are simultaneously hilarious, heartbreaking, uplifting, and ridiculous.

7. Kiersten Writes... speaking of people who are hilarious on Twitter. But author Kiersten White is hilarious across the board. Her posts range from purely silly, to realistic with a lot of humor in the execution, to quite serious on occasion (but even those are leavened by her unique outlook).

8. [livejournal.com profile] sarahtales is someone whose hilarious Livejournal I discovered even before she'd published a book, but now that Sarah Rees Brennan has a whole popular trilogy under her belt, she STILL writes a hilarious Livejournal (though a little less frequently). Lately, in anticipation of the "new Gothic" novel she has coming out in the fall, she's been writing laugh-out-loud retellings of classic Gothic novels monthly. Check them out!

9. Writer's First Aid is a writing blog NOT for people who want tips on getting published or landing an agent or doing school visits, but for writers who are STUCK. Kristi Holl has written books on the topic (I have one-- occasionally I remember to use it), and here she keeps up a steady stream of encouragement, advice on boosting creativity or managing time or just getting your writing head on straight. What's sad is I've been so blocked in the past few years that even THIS advice feels beyond me-- but I'm getting there, and every so often I make progress.

10. Book Aunt for book reviews, and sometimes poetry, and sometimes ruminations on literature or authors or whatnot. [livejournal.com profile] katecoombs is a genuine author friend and I like her. Also I gave her new picture book of poetry, Water Sings Blue, to my mom. Anyway, her reviews give you a true flavor of the books in question (she's won me over to books I hadn't thought I wanted to read before that way), and she's open about the good, the bad, what things certain people might like about it, what things might bother others. And she has good taste.

11. Slow By Little --another small one that could use an audience. My college roommate keeps this picture-filled blog of homelife and travel. See and read about her adventures in Germany last December, and if you scroll down a few posts-- you see that swimming pool? I spent all last Saturday afternoon in that pool. Personal trivia!

12. Happy Opu, in the Whodathunkit category: Canadian actress Jewel Staite is best known for playing one of my favorite TV characters ever, Kaylee Frye. When I found her on Twitter, I was delighted to discover that she also keeps a blog-- one that is not only funny and well-written, but is also almost entirely ABOUT FOOD. Not just any food. Fancy unbelievable Foodie-type food. She describes it in luscious detail, and yes, there are lots of pictures. It's food porn, really.

13. A Chair, a Fireplace, and a Tea Cozy: what's great about Liz Burns' reviews/takes-on-things is that she can be critical but never judgmental. Her book reviews have a section called "The Good," but not a section called "The Bad": she tells you WHY someone MIGHT like something... although when SHE loves it, she does let you know! But she also covers current events in the publishing/library/blogging worlds, movies, TV shows, and ALA policies. Okay, so the ALA policies part may not be roping you non-librarian-types in. But MOVIES and TV SHOWS!

14.squeetusblog: Author Shannon Hale is a wise, well-spoken (okay, WRITTEN) woman. She ponders questions about the elements of story (in any format) and stereotypes and life... and occasionally is just plain silly. She also does this while raising 4 small children including toddler twins. Besides, you know, the whole writing career thing.

15.Memoranda, a blog which once hadan ode to my awesomeness on it (actually, there may have been more to the post than just that). Naturally, I had to keep following Michelle Cooper and the fascinating glimpses into her mind-- historical, geographic, and scientific facts she's discovered, books she's been reading, thoughts she's been having, important things like when the next FitzOsbornes book is coming out... you know.

Honorable Mention to GeekMom, which is one of my very favorite-- and incredibly Versatile-- blogs, but as it's a group blog with many different bloggers, it doesn't quite qualify.

Happy reading! Like you can keep up with any more blogs.

So then, seven things about myself... that I assume you don't already know?

1. Last weekend I had a reunion with college friends that ROCKED MY SOCKS. Even though not much actually HAPPENED, but that's NICE when you're a grownup. The most eventful thing that happened was a night out eating crab cakes and singing karaoke. I did a pretty good Carole King and a not-nearly-warmed-up-enough Ann Wilson. Also, in the "nothing happening in a good way" portion of the weekend, we had to rescue a frog that had jumped in the chlorinated pool. Almost immediately, guess what song started playing on the stereo*? "The Rainbow Connection." Go Kermit.

2. I have gotten involved, over the Internet, in an international project that is so WRITTEN FOR ME that I'm pretty sure it's fate. An actual spiritual Calling. Here's the Tumblr for it (I know, Tumblr. Insanity. I just pretend it's a regular blog). First she offered to write a real handwritten letter to anyone who asked for one. Of course, hundreds of people (including myself) asked for one, so she recruited helpers. We had to apply for the job... but I wasn't really surprised to get it, because, like I said, FATE.

3. I finally, after weeks of protesting that it was much too hot to attempt, weeded the garden today. We thinned the carrots and the kids had the baby carrots at lunch, which thrilled them. Discovered my sprinkler sucks and has been missing whole swatches of garden. All my basil dried up and died off. Tried to buy more, but the hardware store was out. No fresh basil this year. :(

4. My Windows Media Player has randomly downloaded a whole bunch of SONGS I DIDN'T PUT THERE. It's kind of cool, because so far all the ones I've heard have been kind of awesome. But is this a nifty new feature of Windows Media Player-- picking new artists for me it thinks I might like judging by the rest of my collection?-- or have I been HACKED? It's kind of like the coolest computer virus ever if it is.

5. It's Summer Reading Club time! After creating and data-filling a spreadsheet of all participants and what programs they're coming to, I am... not as involved as I used to be. I'm just there on Wednesdays, reading stories and doing booktalks. We've got an awesome set-up though-- one of the small meeting rooms has been turned into a campsite, with a light-up campfire and everything. Then I believe I'm chaperoning the field trip, but we're only doing one this year, at the end of the summer. So... less with the stress.

6. I'm wearing this skirt I made when I first got my sewing machine. It's an awesome blue batik print with bright yellow and pink highlights, which is so awesome I keep wearing it even though I made it lopsided.

7. Sometimes I like to wander down the office supplies aisle at the grocery store and JUST STARE.

*Technically, it wasn't a stereo. It was a playlist on an iPod hooked up to speakers. But that takes too long to say.

PS-- I also can't remember if I mentioned my determination to take drum lessons as soon as Jason's new schedule gets straightened out/paychecks start flowing in. I bought myself a set of 5-dollar drumsticks as a promise to myself. LOVELY RITA AND THE METER MAIDS COULD ACTUALLY HAPPEN. In theory. A vague, unsubstantial theory.
rockinlibrarian: (love)
Seventy years ago today, Mary and Jim McCartney of Liverpool England welcomed a baby boy into the world, little knowing he would grow up-- heck, even BEFORE he'd quite grown up-- to change popular music forever.

And seventy years later, I still haven't seen him in concert.

THIS MUST CHANGE, world. I have told you, world, time and again, that this is the man responsible for the first half of my Internet username/alias! If there is ANYONE on EARTH I NEED to see in concert before I die-- well, before HE dies is the problem.... GAH, Paul, STOP GETTING OLD. Wait no, that's wrong. That's the exact opposite of what I mean. PLEASE, CONTINUE ON IN THIS TIMELINE. Just show up in Pittsburgh again sometime soon.

Did you watch any of the Queen's Jubilee concert the other week? It was full of awesomeness across the board. But I noticed something when Paul took the stage-- I couldn't stop singing along. But that's not unusual for me-- I sing along to Muzak. But EVERYONE in the crowd on TV was singing along, too. The camera focused on these rather stodgy-looking old people-- they weren't very animated, but they were clearly singing along, and clearly knew all the words. Then the camera moved to some young dancing folks-- also clearly singing along, clearly knowing all the words, clearly loving it. It was more, somehow, than just a good concert. It was like we'd all taken OWNERSHIP of these songs, they were deep inside us as MORE than songs, they were some kind of shared love between us all, some transcendental understanding...

...or maybe that's my own bias feeling things.

I AM certain, though, that Paul McCartney is the greatest songwriter in the history of the world. Right, you can make arguments for other composers in general-- your Bachs and Mozarts and whatnot-- but when it comes to crafting a short, simple, singable song, no one has ever been able to do it the way Sir Paul can. So catchy. So unforgettable. You immediately feel the difference, when you're listening to the radio or even a shuffled playlist, you're contently --or not-so-contently-- listening to perfectly serviceable songs, and then all of a sudden, GREATNESS HAPPENS. Too many songwriters just don't manage to push their good songs into GREAT. (Too many songwriters don't even manage to push their mediocre songs into GOOD, but what). Not the way he does.

A couple years back he was getting some sort of award from the President, and there was a tribute concert at the White House. A wide variety of musicians came to sing his songs. Did you see this? I'm trying to find it on Youtube, but all I can find is the actual award presentation, not any, you know, CONCERT footage. So, musicians from every genre, every decade of popularity, they all chose a McCartney song to perform. They were all utterly different, and all wonderful. THAT is the mark of the Greatest Songwriter in the History of the World. So much variety, and so much awesomeness ACROSS that variety.

It's incredible, to witness the extent of that awesomeness, all in one concert. That's why my mind was completely blown that summer night nearly twenty years ago. I feel it again every time I watch such a concert on TV... or when I'm sitting listening to records.

Just need to see it live, now. I MUST, NEED, HAVE TO see it live. Anybody hook me up?
rockinlibrarian: (tesseract)
It's gotten to the point where, if you happen to be my LiveJournal Friend, you can't click on the blog without my entire first page being "My Tweets" imports. I try to Friendslock those posts as soon as I catch them, not because they're meant to be friends-only (you can just read my Twitter if you wanted to read what was in those posts, AND MORE, because you could read my witty replies to people too! I mean "witty" in a hopeful, probably figurative sense), but because I figure most Friends are reading on Friends pages rather than directly, so this way the posts aren't cluttering up the page for people who Just Popped By (and yet I still have record!). But my POINT is, it's time for me to POST something REAL again, obviously.

I've been planning to post something about music and mood, and how they interact particularly in MY life, but first I wanted to finish the playlist I was working on so I could use it as an example. Only I kept getting distracted LISTENING to the songs, and then one song would get in my head and make me unable to write about another song, and so on in a long series of brain confusion of this sort... and THEN I got "It's All Too Much" in my head and realized that certainly NO music-and-mood discussion would be complete without mentioning George Harrison, who wrote what is always the most COMFORTING music to me-- the sad songs are hopeful, the happy songs a little wistful, joy bubbles up in your heart listening to his musical prayers (the ones that are literal prayers as well as the ones that just ARE), and anyway I started reading this entry from last fall, about the fan letter I never sent him, and I noticed this line:

"Madeleine L'Engle's [letter] made it off safely to Farrar Strauss and Giroux and eventually into the hands of the-woman-I-was-to-name-my-daughter-after herself, who then even wrote BACK to me (which I will tell you all about sometime next year during my Year of the Tesseract celebrations)"

RIGHT! It's long since time for another Year of the Tesseract post! And what's funny is it ties into something I've been obsessing over for the past few days-- getting Real Mail.

There's just something about Real Mail, isn't there? It's so easy to send an electronic message: you see a note on the side of Facebook saying "Today is SoandSo's Birthday" and you click on over to SoandSo's profile and type "Happy Birthday, SoandSo!" which may be the only thing you have SAID to SoandSo since, well, perhaps their LAST birthday. Or you could send MASS messages out to EVERYONE. That's what most Internet posting is. A message to whomever wants to read it.

One of the teens in this library stuck a Post-it on the desk here that says "Hey from your favorite person." This amuses me, because it's so fill-in-the-blank. WHOEVER YOU, the person sitting at this desk, think is your FAVORITE PERSON, they say Hey. It could be ANYBODY! You could CHANGE who's saying hey every time you sit DOWN! How PRACTICAL!

But of course it's even less real than a Happy Birthday on Facebook. The thing about a Real Paper Letter in the Real Snail Mail is that SOMEBODY WROTE THAT JUST FOR YOU. Someone was thinking of you SO much that they TOOK the time out of their busy lives to sit down with a real pen and paper and shape the words with their own hands, TO YOU, writing your name at the top, signing their name at the bottom. They folded the paper and slipped it into an envelope, possibly even sealing the envelope with their OWN SALIVA, carefully printing out YOUR ADDRESS on the front, spending 45 of their own cents on the stamp they've stuck on the corner, walking it to the mailbox and sending it off TO YOU. Email and other electronic communication is handy, but THIS? This is personal.

Of course, if you're a public figure, you probably don't have TIME to send many such communications, certainly not to your many fans who have sent you stuff. After all, you have to, um, DO THE JOB your fans are so impressed with in the first place, on top of, you know, having a life, and there are oh so MANY fans writing to you, how could you possibly write back to ALL of them? This is why many such public figures resort to The Form Letter.

And Madeleine L'Engle was no different. But hey, I wasn't really expecting a response at ALL, and this came about ten months after I'd sent my letter (luckily a month BEFORE I moved out of that particular apartment), and the return address from the Cathedral of St. John the Divine in New York City did not (off the top of my head) give me any clues.

Inside the envelope were two pages. The first was a generic printout about Madeleine L'Engle, biography on one side, bibliography on the other, a picture in there as well. The second page was also, in the middle, a form letter, but a more specific one. I had written to her specifically about A Wrinkle in Time, how much it had inspired me, comforted me, and given me courage throughout my life. This form letter talked about the Deep Questions, how writing Wrinkle had been her way of reaching for answers, and how important it is to keep asking the Deep Questions. "There really aren't any easy answers to the very difficult questions... but we have to keep asking them, knowing that it's alright not to have the answers. Trust yourself." I suspected she had several basic form letters discussing the most common aspects of her books that people wrote to her about, and my letter fit best with this one.

But that wasn't all of it. On the top, in black felt-tip, in her handwriting, it said "Amy--" and on the bottom, in the same black felt-tip, her signature. But she also wrote in one more line, one sentence just for me: "I am also gaining courage from the stories..."

One little sentence, one little personal connection between me and a woman who'd unwittingly changed my life, the woman I would name my daughter after. I am also gaining courage from the stories.... It was a small confidence, a small bit of herself she'd chosen to share with me. She knew what I was feeling. She, who had WRITTEN these stories, still needed to be reminded sometimes of the Truth behind them. And she wanted me to know that.

I framed that page. It hung beside my desk for a long time, and then when the office became the New Madeleine's bedroom, I left it there for awhile seeing as it was from her own inspiring namesake. But then she started pulling everything down off the walls and throwing them about, and the frame broke, so I've since rescued the letter and it's now hiding again on my desk, but not displayed because there isn't a place for it. Maybe once Maddie stops violently redecorating, she can have it back up there.

Because it's a lovely letter, form-letter part of it included. "Stories don't have to be factual in order to be true," it reminds us, concluding, "We can still find hope and beauty in the world and not give up on the journey."

Thank you, ma'am, for taking the time to share with me this little bit of wisdom, this little message, just for me, sealed up and sent through the mail.
rockinlibrarian: (roar)
I have had the BEST birthday-- weekend-- in many years. I'm not even sure where to begin-- if there's some overarching introductory paragraph I can make, or if I should just go in chronological order. Or I'll do it in order of What People Want to Read About, so they can drop out whenever they feel like it.

Part 1: My Reactions to the Hunger Games Movie, So I Can Get That Out Of the Way for People Who Don't Actually Care About My Real Life

Getting back to our discussion of what makes me accept or not accept a book adaptation, I have to admit I never thought I would actually fault a movie for sticking TOO close to the source material, but in this case I'm pretty sure that's my only problem with it. It felt a little TOO much like it was illustrating the book, scene after scene after scene, to the point where I felt like the story arc was suffering, and I actually thought, "I think I would be getting more into this right now if I HADN'T read the book, because then I wouldn't already know what's happening." Some of my favorite bits were scenes that WEREN'T technically in the book-- the times they would switch to showing the things happening outside the arena, with the gamekeepers and the sponsors and the districts and the TV commentators. I thought I even wanted a little more of that. I thought maybe the plotline SHOULD have been chopped up a bit more, just to make it feel more movie-arc-like.

On the other hand, my ACCEPTING of an adaptation DOES require a trueness to character, and here the movie EXCELLED. Any fears I originally had about casting were completely unfounded. Even Haymitch wasn't as off as I feared-- Woody Harrelson had said some things that made me wonder if he COMPLETELY DIDN'T GET the character, but he wasn't distractingly off after all, though I do think he was a BIT too comfortable with the Capitol folks still. But for the most part, right. Peeta nailed the stuff that makes Peeta so awesome, without actually being cute enough to make me have disturbing thoughts about a sixteen-year-old, so that's good. And Jennifer Lawrence CLEARLY joins the ranks of People Who Have Completely BEEN The Book Character They Were Portraying EXACTLY PERFECTLY RIGHT. And Rue. Oh, Rue. I remember when they first showed the non-character photos of the people they'd cast, she was the only one of whom I immediately said "YES. That's her. That's the one in my head." (Which is ironic when you hear about all the weird racist talk going around about her. I DON'T KNOW WHAT BOOK THEY WERE READING! This was TOTALLY the girl in my head!) But she didn't just LOOK right, she WAS right, and there was totally not enough of her. They needed to find a way to add more Rue. More!

So on the whole, I give it a thumbs up. It's not my favorite movie or even favorite adaptation, but it serves the book well enough for me.

Part 2: In Which I Become The New Owner of a Nook Color, So Can't Continue Pretending I Am Far Behind The Rest of The Free World Technologically

My parents babysit on Fridays, so when I came home from work that day I found a feast of cheese lasagna, colorful garden salad, and Italian bread all prepared for me. There was also ice cream cake (to be fair, Jason got that, not my parents), a balloon (which Sam had picked out), and the house was all clean. Also, my parents were TAKING THE KIDS WITH THEM FOR THE WEEKEND. Then they handed me a present, and this turned out to be a refurbished Nook Color.

I DID NOT SEE THAT COMING.

To be honest, I did not see much of ANYTHING coming. My parents give me birthday presents all year long on fridays. They have fixed so many things in the house that need fixing, put up new shelves, CLEANED, gardened, brought me plants, done laundry, made dinner, and of course just taken care of the KIDS every week. They are giving me PRACTICAL gifts all the time. They are awesome. But they went for FUN for my birthday this year. TOYS. NOT QUITE SO PRACTICAL, aside from being, you know, still mildly practical.

Admittedly, I want it more for magazines and blogs and Twitter and junk more than for books. I'm still a paper-book person. But coincidentally in the past week I'd been recommended TWO, TWO separate works only available as eBooks, and now I have the opportunity to GET those! Also, it automatically came with a couple sample books, and I thought it was very considerate of it to give me Pride and Prejudice. OBVIOUSLY it was thinking of me personally, and not just randomly giving me one of the most widely regarded novels in the public domain or anything. I found myself distracted by about five chapters of that while I was trying to set everything else up.

Some people say multi-format readers distract people from book reading. The books on my multi-format reader were distracting me from doing the other junk I wanted to do.

Like it came preloaded with a Pandora app. I haven't been on Pandora for about four years, since I worked at the branch library nobody ever came to until we closed it so I ended up playing music on my computer to keep me company. But I logged in and it immediately launched into Pink Floyd. IT'S SO SWEET THAT PANDORA REMEMBERS ME AFTER ALL THIS TIME. So I spent most of that first evening listening to Pandora and reading social media sites. Yeah. Books. Whatever.

Of course, touchscreen typing is extremely annoying. Actually the touchscreen is finicky in general. It keeps thinking I'm tapping when I'm trying to scroll, or not tapping when I am tapping, or tapping more than I actually did, or otherwise being obnoxious. Which means I may COMMENT less if I'm reading stuff on the Nook instead of the computer. That might be... WEIRD.

But who knows, it might become something I get quite handy with once I start toting it around, which I'm afraid to do before I get a case for it. I'm determined to get a cover that says "DON'T PANIC" in large friendly letters on the front. SERIOUSLY, THIS HAS BEEN MY NUMBER-ONE REQUIREMENT FOR AN E-READER SINCE WAY BACK WHEN E-READERS WERE MOSTLY THEORETICAL. I KNOW someone makes them, somewhere, on Etsy or something. THEY MUST EXIST. But because they are not in the Barnes and Noble online store, I haven't found one yet.

Part 3: In Which I Finally Get My Long-Needed Mini-Vacation

So as I said, my parents took the kids with them for the weekend Friday night. So I awoke Saturday with no kids, husband off at his weekend morning job, and NOTHING REQUIRED OF ME FOR THE WHOLE MORNING. I spent extra time journaling, even pulling a writing prompt, which turned out to be making a writing-inspiration playlist, which ended up inspiring me less to write and more to play the piano, so I ran downstairs and PLAYED PIANO for quite some time, which is really something I can only get away with when I'm the only one home, because I'm terrible at it. I play piano for ME. I hurt the delicate sensibilities of anyone trying to listen in. Then I grabbed some cereal and caught up with Community on the computer while eating breakfast. Then I did bills, which sucked, but that was pretty much the only thing that sucked about the day.

Jason came home and made me an omelette-- it was a pepperoni omelette, one of those shockingly greasy concoctions only a man could come up with, but dudes, he MADE ME AN OMELETTE-- and then he had a Skype date with his friends for gaming, which was fine because just a short while later I left for a movie date with my friends. Even driving the long distance in my car all alone was enjoyable, because I had my Imaginary Husband on audiobook to keep me company-- did I mention that? Awhile back someone pointed out to me that, speaking of the cover I fully intend to get for my Nook, Martin Freeman had done audiobooks of books 2-5 of the Hitchhikers series, SERIOUSLY WHY DID NO ONE TELL ME ABOUT SOMETHING SO PERFECT SOONER?-- and so I've been ILLing them and listening in whatever moments I actually get to myself in the car, which is mostly my Wednesday commutes. (And guess what, not only is he STILL Absolutely Perfect as Arthur Dent, it turns out he's PERFECT AT EVERYONE ELSE, TOO. Because he's JUST THAT AWESOME). Or this very long drive to the movie theater.

I picked a very large theater just on the other side of the city, because it was a fairly central location to all the friends of mine who are also scattered around the Greater Pittsburgh Area, who also wanted to see The Hunger Games because they'd all read the book when *ahem* I told them to way back when. Also, it was right next to a bunch of nice restaurants. It was a mini college reunion. Even my old roommate who now lives in Baltimore showed up, because she happened to be in town for family stuff this weekend.

Honestly, I think I may have to thank the Prozac for this going as well as it did. I found myself ANNOYINGLY tongue-tied a lot, because my brain and mouth don't connect properly (I say this as explanation to the people who only know me online. The REASON I don't shut up when I'm typing is because I'm TERRIBLE at talking out loud. I have to let it out where I can let it out. Which is not out loud. That's where the whole WRITING thing came from). Now the old, non-drugged me would likely have become very nervous about this, and started to worry that maybe this whole idea was a disaster and I wasn't meant to have real-life friends, and then I might have panicked and possibly got all teary-eyed if I managed to talk myself into enough of a funk before someone distracted me. But drugged me could roll with it, and realize that EVERYONE WAS TOTALLY HAPPY TO BE THERE.

REALLY happy to be there, in fact. The only ones who could stay to do dinner with me afterward were two other mothers of two young children, and we all so, so needed that afternoon off. With other geeky friends. Everyone kept thanking ME for putting it together, and we kept saying we REALLY needed to do this more often. I actually thought of, and mentioned, [livejournal.com profile] elouise82 at this point-- she's another mother of two young children who could really use an afternoon off with geeky friends, but is very far away and I've never actually met her. But I think she belonged in that one empty seat at our table, in spirit. Definitely fit our theme.

The table, I'm sure you would like to know, was in a Bravo! Italian restaurant. I had a creamy pesto rigatoni dish that was quite nice, and then they brought me gelato with a candle for dessert. We'd actually originally tried to go to a Chinese place, but even though it was only 4:30ish, they already had a two-hour wait. The Italian place sat us right away. Still good!

Jason and I just hung out the evening watching The Two Towers while playing with the Nook-- okay, I was-- and eating leftover ice cream cake. Then this morning I slept in. I REALLY slept in. I am still torn between whether this was a WASTE of another Morning To Myself, or just what I needed. Because when do I ever sleep until nine?

Today was a much less luxuriant day-- I had church, which was Palm Sunday and so Extra Long; and I had to go to the grocery store. But then I went off to my parents' to get the kids (listening to my audiobook again on the way), and they made meatloaf with mashed potatoes and carrots and homemade hot spiced applesauce, which was seriously just like apple crisp without the "crisp" part. So that was nice too. Sam fell asleep on the way home, so they went straight to bed when we got here, and I've been typing to you ever since. NOW I think I'd better go to bed myself. It's back to the same old same old tomorrow.
rockinlibrarian: (librarians)
Well, it's time to round up my favorite reads of the year. But while last year I didn't even know where to BEGIN, I'd read so much that was Awesome, this year... I didn't read so much, period.

According to the list I tried to keep up to date first at Virtual Bookshelf and then, when that died, Goodreads, I only read 31 novels this year-- and we're not talking huge tomes here, we're talking children's and YA, some of which WERE pretty long, but generally aren't very. I once more forgot to keep track of nonfiction and picture books, but I only read a few nonfiction-- all adult, and mostly those I just skimmed; and I read lots of picture books and easy readers, but there are so very many and it's been such a long year that I can't pick any in particular OUT.

And when I looked at my list of 31 novels, I first thought I'd separate them again into 2011 books and older books, to make two different Best of lists, but I couldn't decide on which titles to pick to round OUT each list, and it turned out the titles I'd already ranked, if I mixed the lists together, worked out to be exactly ten anyway, so that's what you get: my top ten favorite books read this year:

1. Hardinge, Frances: The Lost Conspiracy, originally published as Gullstruck Island in the UK, if you're reading this from abroad, which is more likely than I once assumed. I put off reading this because it's long and apparently required thinking, and-- well, I've TOLD you what my reading habits have been like lately. BUT, NO, me: it's the sort of long that you DON'T MIND because every sentence is pure awesomeness and you don't want it to end! It takes place on a volcanic island in a brilliantly original fantasy world like nothing you've seen: while it deals with a clash between two cultures, these are not allegorical portrayals of any real cultures, but distinctly original and thoroughly developed fantasy cultures. And there's no clear black-and-white good guys and bad guys, either, though some individuals are clearly more bad than others-- and I'm not sure anyone gets away with being clearly "good"-- everyone has their motivations, and they're all so well-drawn and rounded and complete, you will love them or hate them or be disappointed in them or cheer or WHATEVER. And the plot's complicated and compelling, and... This is just a Just Read It. We'll leave it at that.

2. Bray, Libba: Beauty Queens. This book. Is. Insane. It is not as perfectly crafted as her Going Bovine was, but it may be more enjoyable to READ, at least if one is a fan of off-the-wall satire. I'm just going to copy what I wrote in my last review of it because I'm lazy: "a book that satirizes... EVERYTHING. Beauty pageants, television, marketing, corporations, society in general. There is desert island survival, spies and assassins, evil dictators, pirates, and Things Exploding. It is Just Whacked. And yet the characters are all surprisingly well-developed. I would say that the only downside (if you LIKE completely off-the-wall absurdity) is that the messages often feel a bit didactic, but since EVERYTHING in the book is over-the-top, I'm not sure this isn't entirely intentional...." When I look back at the books I've read this year, this one rises to the top if only because it's stuck in my memory so well-- I still giggle just thinking about the Evil Dictator in question. It's so Wrong it's completely right.

3. Cooper, Michelle: The FitzOsbornes in Exile. Disclaimer: Michelle Cooper recently made me The American Ambassador to Montmaray. Mostly because [livejournal.com profile] punterschlagen told me to ask her to. BUT THAT'S BECAUSE I ALREADY WAS A HUGE FAN, AND HAVE SAID SO ONLINE ALREADY. SEVERAL TIMES. So here is another one of those times. This is the sequel to A Brief History of Montmaray, which you really ought to read first. The sequel is more straight-up historical fiction than the genre-elusive first title was (though there still wasn't ACTUALLY a Montmaray), but every bit as compelling as the first. I saw this recently recommended for fans of Downton Abbey, set at the start of a DIFFERENT World War, which is a very clever recommendation, because it's probably true, so I'm going to repeat it. But, much as I enjoyed that show, I think these books are better. So, read 'em.

4. Yee, Lisa: Warp Speed. Rarely do you find, in any media, something that portrays the REALITY of bullying so ACCURATELY-- that doesn't try to tie things up with neat, rosy-glassed solutions. It's refreshing also to see something that so clearly SHOWS, without ever outright telling, the thing I myself most want to say (and I do, over and over again) about bullying: how very complex people actually are, that even when people DO fit a stereotype-- which Marley certainly does-- there's always so much more to them than JUST that one aspect of them. Like all Lisa Yee's books, this one is so TRUE it makes you laugh and wince in pain at the same time.

5. Westerfeld, Scott: Goliath. Final book of the Leviathan trilogy, which really you must take as one whole. There's a scene in this where the (WWI-era) characters are watching The Perils of Pauline for the first time, and I thought, this is like that, like watching an old adventure serial back when it was new, full of the JOY of unexpected marvels and gasp-inducing perils you can experience from the safety of your chair. Thoroughly satisfying.

6. Booraem, Ellen: Small Persons With Wings. This book is so very Diana Wynne Jones-like that I was surprised to see only one other reviewer (that I read, at least) suggest the connection. Reality-based fantasy, full of the imperfections of life, unflinching from the dark side while being wry or outright funny. Then throw in outlandish fantastical twists and make everyone react accordingly. Pure fun. And honestly, if you ARE a DWJ fan, you'll find yourself right at home in it.

7. Stroud, Jonathan: The Ring of Solomon. I've never actually read the other Bartimaeus books, but this prequel-of-sorts is entirely stand-alone, and a treat that makes me plan to GET to the other books someday, if I ever develop a proper obsessive reading habit again and can catch up. What a voice! What a twisted, totally fun narrative! What an interesting take on ancient times!

8. Oppel, Kenneth: This Dark Endeavor. This is a prequel to Frankenstein, and I honestly didn't know what to expect, beyond that I've loved Kenneth Oppel's work in the past. Would the 19th century-style language be hard for my lately-reading-stupid brain to get into? Um, no. Because the nonstop DEATHLY PERIL was gripping enough for me to get my head around. It had BEEN awhile since I'd read a proper horror-suspense novel! And it's a believable look at the psyche of someone who's going to grow up to get himself into quite a lot of trouble...

9. Selznick, Brian: Wonderstruck. It may be that my problems getting into reading this year have to do with something in my brain, an overload of the written word or something, which may be why I appreciated this book so much. I've never been able to get much into graphic novels-- something about that close-detail visual storytelling doesn't grab my brain quite right-- but BIG, full-page visual storytelling I've been coming to love, in picture book form. Which is why reading this book felt ...REFRESHING. To have novel-length narrative coming at me in full-page pictorial form, it woke up bits of my brain I didn't realize were sleeping, and rested the parts of my brain that were starting to see words as Too Much Noise. Best yet, it was telling a story that WAS experiencing story in a different way. It all tied together! Speaking of, my favorite bit was the transitions between the two (text and image) storylines--the seamlessness of it, how one would illustrate (in words or pictures) what was happening in the other, even as they were taking place at different times. The stories themselves didn't grab me so much, but the refreshing, dynamic format was well worth it.

10. John, Antony: Five Flavors of Dumb. I won't say that incorporating the history of rock music into a book is a SURE way to get me to love it (the book: I already love the rock history), but it definitely helps. I thought it would just be a quick, fun read-- deaf girl becomes manager of a rock band, interesting concept, I'll give it a try-- but as soon as the characters started tracking down important Rock History Pilgrimage Sites all over Seattle, my heart just connected. I AM SO TOTALLY WITH YOU. I UNDERSTAND THE TRUE IMPORTANCE OF JIMI HENDRIX'S HOUSE OR LACK THEREOF! This story just really just captured the very essence of Rock, AND I AM ALL FOR THAT.

So, I give you ten books I loved. I did LIKE --and even LOVE-- some more than that, but these are the ones that most stand out, so these are the ones I'm sticking with.

Maybe next year I will have healed whatever problem my brain is having with reading, and I'll be back in the swing of things. Maybe if I learn to play rock drums I will rejuvenate my brain. Or if I just hunker down and learn to play "Fearless" properly out of the piano book my sister got me for Christmas. That might work, too. Well anyway. Have you read any of these books and have anything you'd like to add in the comments? Do you now WANT to read any of these books I have mentioned? Would you like to say something completely unrelated? I am all about the comments, so chime in below!
rockinlibrarian: (christmas)
PEACE AND QUIET. I didn't even realize it made that much of a difference. But here I am at the library and, as no one wants to be out this week if they don't already have to be out because they probably are spending a good deal of their time out, it's... very quiet. I mean, even for a library. Whereas at home... I have small children. With lots of new stuff. It's chaos, really, and I couldn't figure out why I wasn't managing to write anything (in my journal or to post here, and certainly not anything USEFUL), but now that I'm here in the PEACE AND QUIET it all suddenly makes sense.

But don't get me wrong, it's been a very nice week. Christmas is, as you know, my Favorite Thing Ever, and it was particularly good this year because my overworked husband still managed to be around for most of it (as opposed to Thanksgiving, which he wasn't around for anything of, and I was depressed about it). On Christmas Eve this was thanks in part to a change in schedule that actually worked out for the better. We HAD been going to my parents' house in mid-afternoon for a family gift exchange, then early dinner, then Mass, then Big Ol' Annual House Party, only LAST year they went and changed the Mass time to 4:30 (without us knowing about it); but this time we knew in advance and could plan accordingly, and as it worked out J could DO his afternoon shift at the plant and THEN we could all leave and they could drop me off at the church RIGHT on time for this 4:30 Mass, and THEN we'd all go home (to my parents') and eat dinner and exchange gifts and THEN have the Big Ol' Party start-- SO IT WAS ALL PERFECT! Spent the evening playing Apples to Apples with my cousins and had a thoroughly good time.

Next morning was fun at home and later in the day was decent at the inlaws'; Monday was a nice break; J actually took vacation days yesterday and today-- yesterday was our anniversary, but we spent most of the afternoon at my aunt's, which was also nice, and the kids ran wild with other people their size. Good times all around. Tomorrow night we've got a get-together with my sister-in-law; night after that the kids are going to grandparents so we can have a PROPER anniversary date night; we will probably do Absolutely Nothing of Interest on New Years Eve, as has become our wont, but in general, nice week.

But now, I could continue being mature and demure and generally above such material things as Bragging About Presents I Got, BUT INSTEAD I'M GOING TO BRAG ABOUT PRESENTS I GOT. Because I got a few things that absolutely Rocked, and it's made me appreciate that sometimes it's GOOD to be excited about having things that aren't Completely Practical. I got (from [livejournal.com profile] magnolia___ a book of Pink Floyd piano music, and I got Queen's Greatest Hits (one of those collections you suddenly realize, "How is it I DON'T ALREADY OWN THIS?") from the inlaws, both of which filled that lately-entirely-too-neglected "rockin'" half of my soul (I suspect if I devote more of my time and energy to music, I may find a resurgence in enthusiasm for the rest of my life... now to just go about DOING that). AND THEN, my husband went and got me a thing that has been languishing on my Amazon wishlist which I NEVER expected anyone to get, but I left it on there stubbornly out of a sense of completeness: the special edition "Yearbook" set of Freaks and Geeks.

DUDES. It's so utterly GEEKED OUT I don't even know where to begin. I'll begin with the inside covers: see, the whole "box" is built like a high school yearbook, and the inside covers are filled with autographs to Sam and Lindsay from the other characters in the show, and it is SO completely authentic-looking and absolutely in-character-- each inscription tells a story-- IT'S WONDERFUL. Then the book is full of inside articles and pictures and snippets and things; and then of course you've got the DVDs of the show itself, which is one of my favorite TV shows of all time, because of course I tend to love all the TV shows that get cancelled ridiculously prematurely (okay, this and Firefly. And The Young Indiana Jones Chronicles in high school).

The thing is ridiculously expensive. I kept it on my wishlist because, dangit, if such an item exists, I AM the intended audience. I didn't just love this show, I LOVED this show. And, for pete's sake, my son has the exact same name as one of the main characters, and although that wasn't OUTRIGHT intentional, it wasn't an accident, either! So it just seems right that I, of all people, SHOULD have the Very Special Edition. But we aren't exactly rolling in spare cash. Frankly, we're struggling to pay the bills each month, and we do scrimp. Luckily I get paid for the One Book activity manual in December, which becomes our instant Christmas Budget, so I never feel I have to be TOO stingy at Christmas. But still, my instinct is always there, to not spend money unless it's on something we Really Need, and if it's not something we Really Need it had better be a really awesome deal. And $75 bucks for a TV show set (and that's the DISCOUNT price)? Even a really special edition? Just a stupid amount of money. I'd never have considered buying it for myself.

But when I held it in my hands Christmas morning, beholding all its Awesomeness, suddenly none of that mattered, even though obviously my husband had spent the same money from the same account that I never would have considered spending. Because this was Awesome. And it was MINE. I OWN THIS COMPLETE SET OF AWESOMENESS. It's like a STATUS symbol or something. I am SUCH a FAN that I HAVE THIS SET OF ULTIMATE COOLNESS! YOU don't, because I'm just THAT MUCH MORE OF A FAN THAN YOU! NYAH NYAH!

So I've come to understand the joy of the occasional splurge purchase. That sometimes having something totally impractical is Just Worth It.
rockinlibrarian: (christmas)
I'm typing this post to stave off apathy. I'm having a terrible problem with apathy lately. Just now I was consolidating all the Best Books of 2011 lists I could find --official ones, not people's personal ones, because that would just take too long-- and I'm glazing over these titles and descriptions thinking "That sounds like something I would have used to like-- back when I liked books like that-- which was, let me see, um, possibly a few months ago." Earlier this summer I suspected this was a bad side effect of antidepressants, but it obviously isn't, because I'm not on antidepressants. Although it COULD be a side effect of me NEEDING to be on antidepressants, just obviously not on whichever antidepressants make it impossible for me to read.

And anyway, it's sad because it's almost time for MY Favorite Books of the Year list, and last year I was SO excited by this prospect and had SO much to write about that my list ended up being really, really, really, and also really, long. But this year, I AM NOT EXCITED ABOUT IT! I may be able to produce only ONE Top Ten list, and that NOT broken into categories such as new books or old books or sequels, because I just DO NOT CARE too much about most of the books I have read!

But NEXT year-- by which I mean, in two 1/2 weeks-- I will have a PROJECT for my blog, in which I will OFTEN and REGULARLY post with MUCH ENTHUSIASM. At least that's what my plan is. I'm hoping I can WORK up an enthusiasm.

I just read this post at Writer's First Aid on how your first step in writing should be to Have a Reason to Write. Well no WONDER I can't write anything, either!

So anyway, I've come to the conclusion that the only cure for my general apathy is to break it on some kind of challenge/project that is TOTALLY DIFFERENT FROM USUAL, because I'm too emotionally tied to the idea of writing or reading or whatever to break out of my apathy by force of will alone. I need to build up my self-confidence in some other area of my life and let it run off into the rest of it, but none of the actual current areas of my life are doing the trick, which means the only solution is for me to learn to play rock drums so as I can start my all-girl Beatles Tribute Band, Lovely Rita and the Meter Maids. Really, this is the most simple solution. It does not require me to run away to England or New York City. It does not require a huge amount of child-free time to accomplish. It does not require all that much of a financial investment, for the time being, though I am not sure what happened to the drum sticks I used to have. Let alone, you know, DRUMS. But that's what furniture is for! Also, I believe LESSONS would come in useful. But in all seriousness, I feel learning to play the drums would be a satisfying and affirming accomplishment for me to strive for. If anyone is still struggling to come up with a Christmas present for me, drum lessons might do it. Also new sticks, since I don't know what happened to mine.

Granted, six years of piano lessons as a child didn't make me anywhere near likely to be a decent rock keyboardist, so I can't guarantee SUCCESS in the endeavor, let alone the eventual existence of Lovely Rita and the Meter Maids. But I will GET TO BEAT ON THINGS. And that will be satisfying enough.

Just typing this has made me significantly more cheerful by the end of this post than I was when I started. Hooray for theoretical beating on things!
rockinlibrarian: (love)
Ten years ago tomorrow morning, my clock radio made me very sad.* It wasn't the sort of news that was SUPPOSED to make you bawl. Just a few months before, there'd been a great big terrorist attack, and I'd wondered vaguely if there was something wrong with me, that I hadn't cowered in fear and spoken in hushed tones about how my life would never be the same, as everyone else seemed to be doing; now here I was, weepy and giddy and unable to concentrate, because one man, a man I had never met and was never likely to meet, had died relatively peacefully of cancer the afternoon before. Silliness, right? this obsession people have with celebrities, as if their comings and goings matter to the rest of us. What's another dead rock star?

Except he wasn't just a celebrity. He was the man who had written my favorite song, the most perfect three minutes and five seconds in the history of popular music, the song I always played whenever I was feeling sad, that never failed to make me feel at least just a bit better. The man who'd made me crack up with just the phrase "apart from the bit about the monkey..." in a documentary a few years before, which I somehow remained convinced was the funniest thing anyone had ever said for years and years (I may be over it now. Maybe). The man I'd made up a fictional superhero nephew for once at a sleepover who became my favorite character EVER**, the man who therefore had earned the affectionate title of "Uncle George" in my mind. The man I'd written an earnest, heartfelt fan letter to, thanking him for his contributions to my life... a letter that was still sitting in a box across the room, unsent.

That unsent letter haunted me. As if he needed another fan letter. As if one can get through life having been the lead guitarist of the greatest rock band of all time without getting enough fan mail to require a committee to sort through. Still, he'd profoundly affected my life without knowing it, and I'd NEVER GOTTEN TO SAY THANK YOU.

Interesting side note: today is also Madeleine L'Engle's birthday. Today is both the anniversary of the birth of the woman who wrote my favorite book AND the death of the man who wrote my favorite song. THIS IS COSMIC. What's even more interesting, I wrote a letter of thanks to Madeleine L'Engle the same time I wrote that letter to George Harrison, only I SENT hers, because it's so freaking easy to send letters to authors-- they go to the publisher. Publisher's addresses are always right out there. (Nowadays it's even easier than THAT to write to authors, because nearly everyone's got an online presense of SOME sort-- I'm not even SURE how many authors I've dropped notes to just this past year, just because it's so easy. Now I can say, "Wow, that was a good book... I SHOULD TELL THE AUTHOR!" and, BAM! DONE! But other sorts of celebrities, you haven't even GOT the write-to-the-publisher option. Do you KNOW how frustrated I got trying to find someplace to write to Martin Freeman earlier this year? I finally managed to track down the address of the producers of Sherlock, and now just must hope it somehow managed to get to him. Then like three months later, the Sherlockology fansite posted his agents' address. THANK YOU for the ill-timing, really! But my point is, this wouldn't be a problem if EVERYONE HAD A PUBLISHER. Publishers are handy that way). You'd think I could find SOME mailing address SOMEWHERE for SOME corporation that would be in direct contact with George Harrison, but I could not, so HIS letter just sat there in my stationery box, while Madeleine L'Engle's made it off safely to Farrar Strauss and Giroux and eventually into the hands of the-woman-I-was-to-name-my-daughter-after herself, who then even wrote BACK to me (which I will tell you all about sometime next year during my Year of the Tesseract celebrations)... and I stopped worrying about sending that other letter, because I'd successfully sent the letter going to the 83-year-old woman: WHO was likely to die first?

So since then, I've been a bit paranoid about saying Thank You. I am GLAD so many authors are reachable online, because it's so nice to be able to up and thank someone when they've unwittingly touched your life. And now I'm constantly poking myself to show gratitude to others (BEFORE IT'S TOO LATE!), and a lot of that has to do with that one little letter I never sent.

And for all this, I'm STILL terrible at actual thank-you cards. If you are reading this and have ever given me a gift for which you did not receive a thank-you card, THANK YOU. I REALLY DID MEAN IT. I WAS PROBABLY DIZZY OR SOMETHING. (Speaking of which, thank you, [livejournal.com profile] katecoombs, the fantasy stamps came in the mail the other day! Although I don't suppose those were a gift as much as I won them fair and square, but thank you anyway!)

But, back on topic, I've made peace: I'm certain that somewhere "Uncle" George has gotten wind of everything I meant to tell him by this point-- if not in so many "That Amy girl sure loves 'Here Comes the Sun'" words, at least in a bit of the sunshine he's given me coming right back to him.

And for you, here's the verse that kept ringing in my head that weekend ten years ago-- different song, same theme:

The darkness only stays the night-time
In the morning it will fade away
Daylight is good at arriving at the right time
It's not always going to be this grey

All things must pass
All things must pass away.

--George Harrison, 1970.

---
*(Not in the same way it made me very sad YESTERDAY morning, @beckiezra, if you're reading this. Different thing entirely.)
**It occurs to me that the majority of people actually reading this blog nowadays DON'T automatically know what I'm talking about when I make Billy 'Arrison references, and I should stop making them and maybe, like, concentrate on actually writing him a proper book again. SOMEDAY, I swear.
rockinlibrarian: (love)
It's that time of year again: time to realize that you probably should have been giving thanks all year long, but since you forgot to, you might as well hurry up and do it all now.

So let me say Thank you to all my readers, for taking time out of your busy Internet browsing addictions to slog through all my ramblings here. I offer particular thanks to: [livejournal.com profile] elouise82, [livejournal.com profile] vovat, [livejournal.com profile] iamdamanda, Mark Flowers, [livejournal.com profile] riki_kiki_taco, [livejournal.com profile] ozma914, Charlotte from her Library, easyqueenie, [livejournal.com profile] punterschlagen, [livejournal.com profile] katecoombs, DawnStarlight, [livejournal.com profile] magnolia___, [livejournal.com profile] grrlpup, and [livejournal.com profile] rockonliz127, who have all left comments in the past month, which is awesome a) because that means I know you READ this stuff!, and b) I love continuing the discussion-- so THANKS for discussing! It means a lot to me to have this connection, that other people are reading this stuff that comes out of my head and thinking about it long enough to even RESPOND. THANK YOU.

So let me give thanks to other stuff now. Thank you to Shop and Save and BIC for supplying me with my wonderful ergonomic journaling pens which I have stocked up on just because I am afraid they might disappear and I will be stuck using pens MUCH INFERIOR FOR JOURNALING, and thank you also to my journaling pens, who are sentient and reading this, for being so awesome to begin with.

Thanks to my lovely dream last night, which was about me going to Fairyland and becoming a proper denizen thereof and being assigned to a Legacy which turned out to be about the Legacy of my grandfather who died a year ago today, so apparently I'm under a geas from Fairyland to carry on the Blankenship Legacy of being a Good Person who Speaks for the Trees, so thanks also to the fates of heredity for allowing me to be born into a family of Good People Who Speak for the Trees in the first place. And thanks for Trees for being Awesome and making oxygen and creating shade and slowing erosion and smelling nice and looking really pretty against a blue sky and eerie against a gray one, and for climbing and for wood and fruit and paper, and also just being Awesome.

Thanks to my parents and inlaws, who, speaking of grandparents, have been so Awesome at providing lots of childcare. And in my parents' case, also have done much to help keep my house from turning into a complete and utter disaster area. Now it stays pretty safely in the realm of minor disaster area instead.

Thank you Velma Jeffries, RIP: I have no idea who you were, but you left a bunch of money to the Children of this town, which they used to build a playground, which sometimes I think is my children's own personal playground, and WHAT kind of kids get a personal playground that is QUITE THAT AWESOME, all to themselves, although when other kids show up, that is also fun. Thank you other kids for showing up to play with my kids. And thank you Ms. Jones for being my son's teacher and helping him to have made GREAT STRIDES SOCIALLY in the past few months. It always makes me slightly giddy to see him so enthusiastically making friends with other kids at the playground.

And speaking of dead people who've given things to the community, thank you, Frank Sarris, for that lovely big new library, even though you probably should have sprung for us to get an ejection button for the teen room, where whenever someone's being too obnoxious you just push the button and the trap door opens and they slide right down out the side of the building into the dumpster, but perhaps we would have just spent that money on getting the back lot paved anyway, so we'll forgive you for that; and anyway thank you for having made your fortune on chocolate and ice cream in the first place, because I LIKE being able to say my benefactors made their fortune on chocolate and ice cream (and possibly pipeweed, though only [livejournal.com profile] punterschlagen would know about that), and I like that our library can claim, beyond all the other awesome things all libraries claim, SELLING HIGH-QUALITY CHOCOLATE BARS at the desk, because DOESN'T EVERY AWESOME PLACE NEED TO DO SO?

Thank you, songwriters who aren't satisfied with Good Enough, who take the time and thought and artistry to take your music and lyrics just that LITTLE BIT FARTHER into Completely Awesome, because when such a song comes on the radio amid the jumble of Good Enough, Rather Dull, and Outright Annoying songs, it JUMPS OUT and makes one want to shout with joy, or whatever that Rock and Roll feeling is, which is possibly more anti-authoritarian than joy is, but positive shouting has taken place whatever you call it. Thank you particularly to the Beatles (who are HALF-dead), for doing this ALL THE FREAKIN' TIME, AND INSPIRING OTHERS TO DO IT; I had Abbey Road on the other day and was SO STRUCK with this feeling that I HAD to go grab my paper journal and awesome ergonomic journaling pen and write about it (possibly also the pen may have been whispering seductively "WRITE WITH ME!" at the same time, so I was being pushed into it from two directions), although I had to keep stopping writing so as to zone out into the Awesomeness completely for awhile; and let me send out a special thank you to Mr. Richard "Ringo Starr" Starkey, because you totally don't get enough credit as a musician, because every drum lick of that album is so EMBEDDED IN MY MUSCLE MEMORY that I can't even listen without playing air drums the whole time, and I decided that Playing Drums In a Beatles Tribute Band need NOT necessarily be one of my UNATTAINABLE Life Goals, because who SAYS all Beatles Tribute Bands have to be impersonators, and I'm totally going to start an All-Girl Beatles Tribute Band, Lovely Rita and the Meter Maids, once I, you know, actually learn to play the drums.

Thank you to whoever invented the word "awesome," because I don't know how I could possibly express my love and admiration for most of the world without it. Am I overusing it? NO! Because if you think that, then you DON'T UNDERSTAND WHAT AWESOME IS!

I'm sure there are lots of other people I can thank, but I'd be going on forever, and I still need to make deviled eggs for tonight. Thank you to my aunt for assigning me deviled eggs, which I totally can make, and not turkey, although that would be dumb anyway because I don't have enough ovens to make turkey for 45 people, nor enough room in my house anyhow, so also thank you to my aunt for inviting everyone to her much larger house on days like this.

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August 2017

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