Wednesday, July 1, 2015

Quarterly Book Updates: Part 2

This is my second book update of the year. You can read the first one here.

I ended up making a lot more progress during this go around than the last one. During this three month period, I managed to read 8 books. That's 3 more books than I read during the first quarter! Go me! 

I'm still probably not going to read my goal of 50 books in 2015, but I'm at least making a dent. Here are the books I read this quarter and my opinions. 

1. Tomorrow River by Lesley Kagen

Rating: 5/5

After starting the year by reading a few decent but not great books (with the exception of Fangirl from the last review I did), I was really pleased with Tomorrow River. At the end of the year, I plan to do a "best of" and "worst of" books I read this year and I can't see very many books topping this one.

This book was suggested to me by a friend. I saw her reading it one day and remembered enjoying another book (Whistling in the Dark) by the same author. My friend let me borrow this one, swearing to me that this book was even better than that one. She was right.

Tomorrow River takes place in the 1960s from the perspective of 11-year-old Shenandoah ("Shenny") Carmody. A year ago, her mother disappeared without a trace. Her sister has gone mute from the trauma. Her father has started drinking and lashing out at the girls. Shenny is determined to find out what happened to her mother and bring her home.

Kagen tells this story brilliantly. She has perfectly captures the thought process of a sharp, but still innocent, child. I find it extremely difficult to write from a child's perspective and many authors fail at this, but Kagen excels. As the plot unfolds, you as the reader come to realize certain things before the narrator figures it out. It's interesting to read as Shenny works things out in her mind. The story also takes several very interesting and surprising turns. It's part mystery, part coming of age, part period piece. I can't say enough wonderful things about it.

2. Paper Towns by John Green

Rating: 3/5

This is the third book I've read by John Green. I adored the first two books by him that I've read -- Looking for Alaska and The Fault in Our Stars. This book I enjoyed less, but overall still found it entertaining.

Similar to Looking for Alaska (which is my favorite Green book that I've read), the story is told from the perspective of a nerdy teenage boy who is in love with a free spirited teenage girl. Margo, the mysterious lady of Paper Towns, runs away after taking our hero, Quentin, on the ride of his life. The two neighbors wreak havoc on Margo's enemies, break into Sea World, and stare down at the city from the top of the SunTrust building. Then she's gone.

Quentin, who has pretty much adored Margo from afar for his whole life, is determined to find her. Even if she doesn't want to be found. With the help of his two friends and one of Margo's friends, Quentin learns more about Margo -- and himself by extension -- during his quest.

The book was a quick, fun read but there are some things that didn't sit right with me. I've given Green a pass on this before because the other two books I've read contained characters with more depth and development than this one, but I just can't get behind some of the conversations these teenagers have. And I know that some teenagers are more mature and more well-read than others, but Green's teenage characters tend to use a lot of metaphors in their daily conversations, analyze Walt Whitman poems, and contemplate the meaning of life.

It's getting a little old. Similarly, Quentin didn't really have much of a personality to which I could relate. There was very little insight onto who Quentin actually was outside of his obsession with Margo. Margo, who was the object of everyone's desire, never really became more than a two-dimensional character. 

3. Leaving Time by Jodi Picoult

Rating: 5/5

Jodi Picoult was one of my favorite authors when I was in high school. As a freshman, I read and was blown away by My Sister's Keeper. From there, I read The Pact, Nineteen Minutes, The Tenth Circle, and Perfect Match -- loving each one of them. I enjoyed Vanishing Acts well enough as well, but then I couldn't get into anything else by her. 

I was starting to think Picoult had lost her touch because every new book she published just didn't seem interesting to me and seemed to get less favorable reviews than her earlier works.
But I decided to give Leaving Time a chance because a) it had a lot of great reviews and b) it centered around a woman who works with elephants. I love elephants, so I thought it might be a cool story. 

It was a great story and it proceeded to rip my heart out and stomp on it. Repeatedly.

In typical Picoult style, Leaving Time takes place from the perspective of several characters. First, we have Jenna. Jenna is a 13-year-old girl whose mother disappeared 10 years ago after an incident at the elephant sanctuary where her parents worked. She's determined to find out where her mother is -- if she's still alive, if she ran away on purpose, or if there was some threat that kept her away.

Our second voice is Alice. Alice is Jenna's mother, a woman who studied grief in elephants. She worked in Africa until a one night stand left her pregnant. Alice then moved back to the US to live with Jenna's dad, who owned an elephant sanctuary in New Hampshire, and his crew. Alice's stories take place in the past, so we as readers do not know if she is alive or dead in the present.

Virgil is a police officer turned private investigator who originally worked on the investigation at the elephant sanctuary. He is unhappy with the work he did on the case and with the fact that Alice never turned up.

Serenity is a psychic -- yes, we have to at least accept the idea of the paranormal in this book -- who is hired by Jenna to help find her mother. Serenity is a legitimate psychic who had a television show and helped with police investigations, but has since lost her gift and become a washed up has been.
Each of these characters contributes to the story as Jenna searches far and wide for traces of her mother. As more of the story is revealed, it becomes clearer that Alice could potentially be dead or she could be a murderer.

I obviously won't ruin it, but there's a twist in this book that just blew my mind. I honestly thought I might have it figured out for a second, but then I immediately thought I was crazy and over thinking it. Nope. The twist is crazy and I probably literally did that jaw drop thing that cartoon characters do.
Anyway, I cried a lot. Like, I was sobbing hysterically when I finished this book. It was pathetic. Damn you, Jodi Picoult!

4. The DUFF by Kody Keplinger

Rating: 2/5

I read this book for two reasons. 1) Because the movie got decent reviews and I like Mae Whitman, who plays the main character. 2) I figured it would be a quick, easy read. It was definitely a quick, easy read. I powered through the book in four days (this is fast for me). But I didn't really enjoy the book.

First, I didn't love the voice of the main character. I think the point was that she was supposed to be a sassy but intelligent high school student. She just came off as kind of bitchy and whiny.

Second, the book wasn't really about anything. Which is sometimes fine. I'm all about character studies, but this wasn't really a character study either. Basically, Bianca Piper (our heroine) finds out that she's the "DUFF" (designated ugly fat friend) in her group of friends. I.e. -- she's less attractive and a little chubbier than her glamorous blonde friends.

The author reminds us of this fact multiple times. Bianca constantly talks about how pretty her friends are and how much bigger their boobs are and, honestly, it was a little eye-roll worthy. The book also shows you how you can hook up with a guy who puts you down and then hate yourself for it, but maybe he'll end up actually liking you and then you'll be super happy even though he literally was insulting you a month ago.

The writing also wasn't great. This is one of those books where the main character works through things in her head, but she works through them so quickly that it's unbelievable. Spoiler alert! Part of the book is about Bianca coming to terms with her parents' divorce. She is upset about it on one page, but literally a page later she works through her problems by basically saying, "It's really for the best and I realize that now. Mom is just doing what is best for her and now I have to do what's best for me." And then we go back to boy drama.

Maybe if I were 16 I would have enjoyed this book more. Maybe I'm just too old to relate to this particular form of young adult literature. Idk, my bff Jill.

5. Storms: My Life with Lindsey Buckingham and Fleetwood Mac by Carol Ann Harris

Rating: 4/5

My first comment about this book is this: So. Much. Cocaine.

Now that I got that out of the way... This book is on one hand a love story and on the other hand a compelling tell-all about one of the most famous bands in history.

Carol Ann Harris dated Fleetwood Mac singer/guitarist Lindsey Buckingham for 8 years, starting at the beginning of the band's super stardom (they met right before the famous Rumours album was released). Harris was just a young woman working at a recording studio when she was swept off her feet by the charming musician. Little did she know that she was about to be propelled into a non-stop roller coaster ride of band drama, constant partying, and fame. 

A lot of reviews I read criticized the writing in this book. Harris certainly isn't the best writer in the world, but I thought she did an overall good job with the pacing and the story layout. It did read a little bit cheesy in some places.

With the book being written years after the actual events, she of course had to fictionalize a lot of the conversations. Much of the dialogue is cheesy. Almost every time she talks to Lindsey in the book, she uses his name. "Oh Lindsey this song is great." "Lindsey, you know how much I love you." Etc. Every single conversation that she writes is fraught with eye roll worthy melodrama. That was a little annoying, but the story itself made me get over it.

Harris did also paint herself as the perpetual martyr. Clearly there are two sides to every story and this is her side of the story. Carol Ann never seems to take the blame for anything that happened and she acts as if her undying love for Buckingham is never appreciated. She is constantly going above and beyond for him and the band and getting nothing in return. Maybe it's true, but this book did really seem slanted.

There is one really hilarious story about Buckingham getting high on Quaaludes at the AMA awards... I read that part in my cubicle at work and actually laughed out loud.

Regardless, it's a good and interesting read for anyone who likes Fleetwood Mac or biographical books about famous people. I like both of those things, so I was happy with it.

6. The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer

Rating: 4/5

Of all 8 books I read this quarter, this one definitely took me the longest and became the largest undertaking.

At first, I didn't think I'd enjoy this book. The story takes place over a span of decades and revolves around a group of friends who meet at a camp for young artists when they were in their teens. The book chronicles the characters' struggles and successes as well as shows how the relationships between them change as years go on.

My biggest complaint about this book early on eventually became one of its strengths. The characters are all based around New York City and most of them -- with the exception of Jules Jacobson, who is arguably the main protagonist -- are all very privileged and a little snooty. I didn't think I could find a way to relate to them or to empathize with them, but I will admit that I enjoyed watching the story progress and watching how sometimes the privilege led to some pitfalls.

I enjoyed this book because each of the main characters is fully fleshed out and feel like real human beings, even if they are not the type of people I know in my personal life. The author very realistically paints the picture of true friendship, including the not so happy parts of it.

7. Girl Walks Into A Bar... by Rachel Dratch

Rating: 3/5

I decided to read Rachel Dratch's book because I love reading memoirs by comedians. I'd already read Tina Fey and Amy Poehler's respective books, so I figured I'd complete the female SNL alum trifecta with this one.

While I enjoyed the book overall and think Dratch is a wonderfully funny writer and seems like a great person, I will admit that I was a bit underwhelmed with this one. I read a review which pretty much sums up what I thought. The reviewer was basically asking why Dratch would write a book because there wasn't a lot that actually happened in it.

This is kind of true. I liked that she didn't do a bunch of name dropping (there is some, of course, but she worked on Saturday Night Live so of course there are some celebrity names that come up) or a bunch of bragging about herself. However, her actual story wasn't really a page turner.

This was still a nice, easy read and I liked it more than didn't like it, but I just don't feel like she had a lot to say.

8. Attachments by Rainbow Rowell

Rating: 3/5

My decision to read this book came from my adoration for Rainbow Rowell's other books -- Eleanor and Park and Fangirl.

Attachments was Rowell's first book and, in my opinion, is her weakest. This book is about adults, where the other two books were essentially young adult novels which featured teenagers as the main characters.

In this novel, we meet Lincoln. Lincoln is in his late twenties, lives with his mom, is unlucky in love, and takes an internet security job at a newspaper. "Internet security" mostly means that he patrols employee email to make sure people aren't emailing things they shouldn't. Also, this takes place in 1999. Anyway, Lincoln ends up falling for this girl who works at the paper based off of reading emails she and her friend send each other.

Lincoln feels creepy about this and thinks he will never have a chance given his job and the fact that he's been invading her privacy. Things happen.

This book did have a lot of heart and I ended up falling in love with the characters, but I simply felt like the build up wasn't worth the pay off of the ending. It also felt a bit cliched, which isn't necessarily a bad thing. Even though the actual layout of the book was unique, it was at the end of the day the same story I've read a thousand times.

Have you read any interesting books lately?

Thursday, June 25, 2015

5 Weeks, 5 Movies

I've gone to the movie theater for the last five weeks in a row. I have spent way too much money to go in a dark room and stare at a giant screen for 1.5-2.5 hours. It's been great.

It's been a great summer for movies so far. It's the first summer I've been excited about in a really long time, to be honest. I've enjoyed all five movies that I've seen over the last five weeks and am actually pretty ok with the fact that I could have bought a fairly nice new purse for what I've thrown into the entertainment fund lately.

Here's what I've seen and what I thought...

1. Mad Max: Fury Road

I'd heard nothing but great things about this film. Having never seen a Mad Max movie and have not ever been particularly interested in doing so, I had reservations about this. After the first five minutes of the movie, I thought, "This isn't for me."

But then the movie picked up. And once it picks up, it's a non-stop ride... literally. This film is basically one long chase scene. It's exhilarating, breathtaking, and immensely satisfying.

Charlize Theron's character Furiosa is a badass and this film really does empower women. The women in this movie don't sit around crying and waiting for the man to save them. There are no damsels in distress here. 

Three words to describe this movie: intense, unrelenting, badass.

Cherie's rating: 8/10

2. Pitch Perfect 2

I never expect much from sequels, but this one did pretty well on Rotten Tomatoes, so I gave it a chance. And I'm glad I gave it a chance because it was hilarious.

Although not quite as good as its predecessor, Pitch Perfect 2 hits all the right notes. We see character growth from the main characters, the music is as catchy as ever, and we get a lot of riotous laughs along the way.

Anna Kendrick is adorable and charismatic; Rebel Wilson shows surprising depth in her return as "Fat Amy." There are plenty of fun cameos. Plus, Elizabeth Banks and John Michael Higgins return to their wonderful roles as the semi-offensive a cappella commentators Gail and John.

Cherie's rating: 7/10

3. Spy

Paul Feig and Melissa McCarthy make an amazing team. First, there was Bridesmaids. Then there was The Heat. You'd think they'd run out of steam eventually, but the duo's third venture, Spy, is filled with as much gut-busting fun as the earlier films.

Melissa McCarthy proves that she can be hilarious without being constantly gruff and crude (although she proved that for years on "Gilmore Girls"). Rose Byrne was similarly perfect in her villainous role. 

This made me that much more excited for Ghostbusters.

Cherie's rating: 8/10

4. Jurassic World

Jurassic World wildly exceeded my expectations. I honestly didn't expect that much, even though I'm a fan of the original film. I figured, "Oh, it'll be a mindless summer blockbuster and I can admire Chris Pratt's physique."

I was so surprised by just how intense and edge-of-your-seat this movie was. Similar to Mad Max, it's basically a constant thrill ride with breathtaking special effects.

My friend and I were more upset when the dinosaurs got hurt than when humans got hurt. I'm not sure if this makes me psychopath?

Cherie's rating: 8/10

5. Inside Out

Being a huge fan of the voice cast, I've been looking forward to Inside Out basically all year. The press alone has fueled my inner comedy geek for probably the next couple of months. An interview with Amy Poehler, Bill Hader, and Mindy Kaling? It's what dreams are made of.

Speaking of dreams, Inside Out is just such a superb film. It tackles the inner workings of a child's mind as she experiences her first real life-changing event: moving. Most of the movie takes place in 11-year-old Riley's brain. Her emotions -- Joy, Sadness, Fear, Anger, and Disgust -- all have their distinct roles in making Riley who she is. Most of Riley's memories are happy -- until her move starts to change that.

Sadness starts taking a larger role in Riley's memories and Joy wants nothing more than to stop that from happening. What ensues is a very creative journey that Joy and Sadness must go on to help save Riley's memories -- leaving Fear, Anger, and Disgust at the reins. Along the way, we meet Riley's childhood imaginary friend, Bing Bong, who ended up being my favorite character. 

I don't want to give anything away, but Bing Bong is a treasure.

This is easily the best Pixar film I've seen since WALL-E. I still haven't seen Up, though, and I know that's a sin.

Cherie's rating: 9/10

So that's basically what I've been doing with my life. There are several more movies I want to see before the summer is up. The short list includes The Overnight, Trainwreck, Ant-Man, and Masterminds. What are you excited for this summer?

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Elementary: "The Pretend Thing"

This post is part of a series about my elementary school experiences. Please click here for the full series.

If I could, I would nominate my mother for sainthood. She put up with a lot from me over the years, including my insistence that she participate in the convoluted happenings in my childhood mind.

I grew up as an only child. I had siblings, but they were all half siblings who lived with the other parent and were significantly older than me. Most of them were already adults when I was a kid. I also didn't live in a neighborhood with very many kids. I hung out with kids at church, but very rarely did I get any social interaction outside of church and school.

As a child, I had a pretty active imagination. This is probably going to sound weird, but I'm going to say it anyway. I always liked to pretend that my life was a TV show. In addition to my life being a TV show, my brain concocted other TV shows that would air on the same channel as my TV show (my network was called "CJ Channel" -- I know, I was nuts). By myself, I would make up these characters and act out various episodes of their shows. I would sometimes do this with Barbies, but sometimes it was all in my mind.

I never had an "imaginary friend," but I did often force my mother to play a really strange game with me. You know how kids will say they want to "play pretend?" Well, I guess you could say that that's what this was. I called it "The Pretend Thing" and it basically consisted of me pretending to be various characters and having my mom help me act out this crazy story line.

The characters were rarely my own creation. Sometimes I would pretend to be my favorite TV characters. At the time, this was Mike and Carol Seaver from "Growing Pains." Sometimes I would also have members of bands that I liked join in (namely the lead singer of country band Diamond Rio). Sometimes I would also pretend to be my dog (who naturally could talk in this ridiculous fiction), my dog's real sister (who belonged to my half sister), and my dog's other sister (a fictional dog named "Beauty.") 

My poor mother would be minding her own business when I would knock on the side of our China cabinet (which was the front door in this fantasy). She would have to answer, "Who's there?" and it could have been any of the aforementioned characters or possibly a surprise guest.

I don't remember specifics on what types of shenanigans I would make our heroes get into, but I do know that this went on for far too long. I would follow my poor mom around as she did the housework and pretend to be these characters. My mom always just played herself in these games.

I'm not sure when I ended up outgrowing this, but I'm sure my mom was glad when I did. Granted, it probably wasn't long after that that I became an overly dramatic, pimply preteen. Really, the poor woman didn't get a break until I finally moved out when I was 20. 

Anyway, how weird is this? Did you have similar "pretend" games when you were a kid or do I need to seek professional help? 

Wednesday, June 10, 2015

Natasha Lyonne is my new fashion icon

"Orange is the New Black" is coming back this Friday. That show makes me very happy for a multitude of reasons. One of the primary reasons is that it reminded me of Natasha Lyonne. I initially noticed her back in like 2005 when I saw the Woody Allen film Everyone Says I Love You. I was in this phase where I was watching every movie that Tim Roth (Lie to Me, Pulp Fiction) ever appeared in. I remember being impressed with Natasha in that film. Also, Slums of Beverly Hills (which slightly disturbed my 15-year-old self, but which my 25-year-old self finds hysterical).

Anyway, Miss Lyonne kind of fell off the radar for a few years while she dealt with some personal issues -- heroin addiction, eviction, a well-documented threat that she'd molest a neighbor's dog. In my opinion, the dog molesting comment was probably taken more seriously by the owner of the dog and the media than it was actually intended by Natasha. She has her own dog now, Root Beer, who appears fairly well adjusted if her tweets are any indication of such. Natasha's tweets -- not Root Beer's. Root Beer is a dog and therefore cannot tweet.

Moving on.

Natasha appears to be doing significantly better. She's got a lot of upcoming projects and last year was nominated for an Emmy for her work on "Orange is the New Black."

Not only is she making a fabulous career comeback, but she looks great and her fashion sense is on point. Proof:



As far as her style, Natasha doesn't take a lot of credit for that. She says she always has to ask her friend, fellow actress Chloe Sevigny, what is in style. But I think that's a cop out. She clearly is clearly fabulous.

Other than "Orange is the New Black," I'm excited for when the world can finally see Fresno, an independent film with Natasha, Judy Greer, Aubrey Plaza, and Fred Armisen. It didn't open to the best reviews ever at South by Southwest, but you could throw that cast together and I'd watch them paint white walls all day.

Tuesday, June 9, 2015

I Am Not On A Date

You know what's interesting about society? No matter how far we progress, people still make a lot of assumptions. And that's fine -- I make assumptions as well. I guess that's something that we just do -- you know, being human and all.

One of them most interesting assumptions that people make about me on a regular basis is that I am dating one of my friends.

I have a number of friends that I hang out with on a regular basis. One of my best friends is a guy. We are just friends and have been for something like four years now. Most weeks, the two of us will go out to dinner and possibly a movie. I bet you'll never guess what's coming.

Everyone assumes we're dating. Apparently, if you are a guy and a girl and you are hanging out by yourselves, you're definitely dating.

It doesn't necessarily bother me, but it's just such an interesting thing. Every server at every restaurant just assumes that the check will be together and most of them automatically hand him the check at the end of the meal.

This presents the awkward, "Yeah, you're gonna need to split this..." conversation.

He always feels awkward about this exchange because now the server not only assumes that we're together, but they assume that he's a deadbeat boyfriend who makes me pay for my own meals.

It looks even worse when I pay for the whole thing, which happens sometimes if one of us owes the other for something. It could also be a "you pay for dinner and I'll pay for the movie" type of situation. 

Both of us are single and we hung out on Valentine's Day this year. I was really tempted to tell our waiter, "Yeah, he usually makes me pay for the whole thing but since it's Valentine's Day he's paying for himself today."

I didn't actually say it, but I thought about it and I still think it would have been hilarious. Maybe I'll have to do it one day.

Has anyone else experienced this phenomenon?

Monday, June 1, 2015

My Most Played Songs As A Teenager

If you looked up the word "angst" in a dictionary, you would not find a picture of teenage me. You would, however, find a pretty accurate description of myself as a teenager. I very often tried to find parallels to my own life in the music that I listened to in high school.

I still have my old iPod nano that I originally got circa 2007 and filled with a bunch of music. I was pretty into classic rock at the time. I later got into some indie rock bands that didn't ever get much farther than MySpace.

What I wanted to share today are the top 10 most played songs on that iPod. I used that iPod up until probably about 2011, when I ran out of room on it. But for the most part it was used during my last two years of high school.

Here we go.

10. "Bother" by Stone Sour

This is embarrassing. I never really knew much by Stone Sour other than this song and "Through Glass" which played on the shitty rock radio station all the time.

The song is pretty depressing and sounds more emo than music that most people actually called emo.

Here are some of the lyrics:

Wish I was too dead to cry / My self-affliction fades / Stones to throw at my creator / Masochists to which I cater

I'm not very proud of this one.

9. "A Perfect Sonnet" by Bright Eyes

I actually still really like this song, but it's incredibly whiny. I still listen to Bright Eyes every once in awhile but I have to be in a certain kind of mood. Still, there's nothing like driving at night and singing Bright Eyes lyrics at the top of your lungs.

Here's some lyrics from this one:

But I believe that lovers should be tied together / And thrown into the ocean in the worst of weather / Left there to drown / Left there to drown in their innocence

8. "All of Yours" by Making April

Making April is one of those didn't-get-far-past-MySpace bands. In fact, looking them up now, they were apparently at one time the top unsigned artist on MySpace. They apparently also went on hiatus in 2009.

I guess they're just considered alternative rock? Genres are difficult for me sometimes. But they use a lot of piano kind of like Something Corporate/Jack's Mannequin. I guess it's kind of like that.


But don't say we became too late / Well I just think you're humoring yourself / Let me say one more thing before you fly and this charade is out of sight / I've been wrong but now I'm right / So let your precious sky come down on you tonight

7. "Semi-Charmed Life" by Third Eye Blind

Ok, so this one cheating a little bit. I didn't start getting into Third Eye Blind until 2009, which was past my angsty teen years. Apparently I listened to this song so much in a very short amount of time that it ended up cracking the top ten.

I'm gonna skip the lyrics from this one, because it's just like a cheerier sounding version of Breaking Bad (this isn't true, but it is about doing crystal meth).

6. "Losing My Religion" by R.E.M.

This song was my go-to song to sing about my crush. I don't know if I twisted the band's original intentions with this song, but I imagined that it was about an unrequited love -- the singer loving someone from afar who both didn't know about or reciprocate those feelings. That was basically my life as a quiet high school student who just creepily admired my crush from afar. Like a stalker.

Anyway, here's some lyrics from this one:

Consider this the hint of the century / Consider this, the slip / That brought me to my knees, failed / What if all these fantasies come flailing around? / And now I've said too much

5. "Love Song" by Tesla

I don't know what it was about this song, but it always uplifted me like no other song could do. This is basically a power ballad by an '80s hair band. I'm not making any apologies for that because some '80s hair bands are awesome (Def Leppard).


It's gonna take a little time / Time is sure to mend your broken heart / But don't you even worry, pretty darling, cuz I know you'll find love again / Love is all around you / Love is knockin' outside your door

4. "If Winter Ends" by Bright Eyes

Bright Eyes makes a second appearance on the list. This song would just absolutely slay me during my darkest days of emotion. This song is basically like: it's winter; I'm unhappy; I'm going to drive off a cliff if I don't feel better soon. 

It's great! See for yourself:

I fell for the promise of a life with a purpose / But I know that that's impossible now / And so I drink to stay warm / And to kill selected memories / Cuz I just can't think anymore about that or about her tonight

3. "Boston" by Augustana | Play Count: 75

I listened to this song for the first time in a few years not that long ago. I immediately listened to it again. Talk about nostalgia. If you haven't heard this one, the singer is just thinking about leaving California and going to Boston because no one knows his name there. For some stupid reason I related to that.

I think I need a sunrise / I'm tired of the sunset / I hear it's nice in the summer, some snow would be nice

2. "Creep" by Radiohead | Play Count: 79

This song was number one for a really long time and I'm surprised that it was eventually dethroned.
"Creep" is one of those songs full of self-loathing that it would probably make a normal, happy person uncomfortable if they examined the lyrics too closely. But I don't think any teenage girl is ever really normal or happy, so it worked for me.

Lyrics to this one:

I don't care if it hurts / I wanna have control / I want a perfect body / I want a perfect soul / I want you to notice / When I'm not around / You're so fucking special / I wish I was special

1. "Sara" by Fleetwood Mac | Play Count: 86

This song is equal parts beauty and sadness. Part of the appeal of this song to me was the rumored story behind it. Stevie Nicks had allegedly gotten pregnant with Don Henley's baby and had gotten an abortion. She named the aborted baby "Sara" and wrote this song about it.

It's morbid as hell, but I thought it was really interesting and I find the song incredibly mesmerizing lyrically as well. I've recently gotten more into Fleetwood Mac's music. Previously, I'd mostly just known the hits and a few of the sadder songs that Stevie Nicks wrote. This one holds up with the rest of the album from which it came, and the song still resonates with me today.


Drowning in the sea of love / Where everyone would love to drown / And now it's gone / It doesn't matter what for / When you build your house / Call me home

So those are the songs I listened to the most during my high school days. A few of these are still songs I really enjoy, where some of them I'll probably never listen to again.

What songs spoke to you as a teenager? Do you still listen to those songs or have you moved on?

Thursday, May 28, 2015

My Thoughts on the Duggar Drama

I'm almost certain I'll be reamed for this, but for some reason I feel the need to spout off my opinion about this as so many others are doing. What can I say? I'm a bandwagoner.

I'm also going to throw out a disclaimer... I kind of like "19 Kids and Counting." My roommate started watching it last year and I have to admit that I caught myself watching and enjoying it on more than one occasion. That being said, here is what I have to say.

By now the entire world knows that Josh Duggar, the oldest son of the "19 Kids and Counting" family, molested five underage girls 12 years ago when he himself was 14-15. Four of these victims were his own sisters.

The public and the media are having a riot with this information -- calling the Duggars hypocrites and enablers. Upset that the family tried to "cover up" this scandal. Many people disagree with how the family handled the situation. Instead of going immediately to the police, Jim Bob and Michelle Duggar handled the situation quietly. Josh was sent for a few months to a family friend where he did manual labor. He was spoken to by a police officer, but an arrest was not made.

The family, who are devout Christians, claim that Josh was able to work through his problems with God and that he was able to overcome. The family was able to forgive and move on.

I want to get this out of the way first. I do not condone any of Josh Duggar's actions. What he did was a terrible, wrong, immoral thing. What he did could have been potentially life altering and damaging to his victims. However, I don't think all of the criticism and attacks toward the whole family are necessarily warranted.

The "Cover Up"

The first point I'll address is the "cover up." I've seen multiple comments on various forums from people who are enraged that the family tried to hide this from the public. My thought on that is that of course they hid it from the public.

First of all, the incidents in question happened in 2003. This is a full 5 years before their show on TLC began. By this point the family had moved past this ugly issue. There's no sense in continually digging up the past -- especially for a family who believes that once you repent to God you are redeemed of past transgressions -- and there is absolutely no reason to embarrass the victims.

Although their names are not mentioned in reports, it is very easy to determine who some of the victims are simply based on the year it happened and the ages of the siblings. I cannot even imagine how mortified the Duggar girls are feeling right now. My sympathy is not with Josh by any means -- but my sympathy is definitely with those girls who didn't ask for this at all. They already lead incredibly public lives and having all this information out there for millions of people to know has got to just be a nightmare.

I'm sure that the Duggar family hates that this information was leaked. But wouldn't you also be upset if a dark family secret of yours suddenly became the subject of tabloid and media headlines? I understand that the family chooses to lead a public life, but they also choose how much information they are willing to divulge on their show. There are plenty of things that aren't documented for the sake of the privacy of the family. If you want to call that a "cover up," then go ahead. But I think that's a stretch.

The Duggar family did not advertise this, no. But they were not required to. Just because they have a television show and are willing to share pieces of their lives with the world does not mean that they should be forced to detail every embarrassing and disturbing aspect of their past. 

The police

The second issue I'll address is the idea that Jim Bob and Michelle should have turned their son in to the police.

Please hear me out on this. 

Imagine being a parent and finding out that your child committed a terrible crime. You love that child, but you hate what they did. You are now torn between your desire to protect and care for your child and your need to make sure that the child is punished and learns from his or her mistakes.

Do you immediately give your kid up to the clutches of the law? Or do you maybe try to handle it in a less life-altering way?

If Josh Duggar had been turned into the police and arrested, the course of his entire life and the life of his family would have been permanently changed. The Duggars tried to find the best and least damaging way of rectifying the situation. They removed Josh from the household for a period of time and they provided counseling for those affected.

Whether the Duggars did the absolute best thing in the situation is definitely up for debate. However, you have to realize that the situation they were faced with was a very unique one. No one ever expects to be in that type of situation. We all tell ourselves that we would have reacted this way or that way, but we don't really know how we would react until we were actually thrown headfirst into that nightmare.

We never know exactly how we're going to react in a crisis until we're in it. Maybe Jim Bob and Michelle would have acted differently when they look at the situation in retrospect. Maybe they wouldn't have. But maybe we would have done something similar in that situation. None of us can say for certain.

"The Duggars hate gay people but think child molesting is ok."

Are we serious with this one?

I know there are millions of people who disagree with the Duggars' stance on religion, gay marriage, abortion, etc. The beautiful thing about America is that we all have our own opinions and we can use those opinions when we vote in elections.

I don't agree with the Duggars on a lot of issues myself -- and I definitely think they take some ideas way too far. 

But the people who are actually saying that the Duggars support child molestation are ignorant. No one is saying that what Josh did was ok. No one is saying that child molesters get away scot-free whilst all other sinners burn in hell.

According to Christian belief, we are all sinners. But we can all be redeemed if we reform from our sinner ways and repent to God. The difference between the Duggars condemning certain lifestyles and Josh's situation is the repentance piece. I'm going to again reiterate that we all have our own opinions and beliefs. You may not be a Christian who believes this way, but the Duggars are. In the eyes of the Duggars -- as well as tons of other Christians -- you can be completely forgiven from your sins.

So no, the Duggars are not saying that child molestation is ok. They are saying that sin is bad, but that forgiveness is possible.

The important thing in this situation is that Josh got help and that the abuse stopped. The important thing is that the entire family was able to forgive and heal from a very difficult and tragic time. Do I support Josh and think of him the same way I did before all of this? Of course not. But I don't blame the rest of the family and wish for their show to be cancelled because of this.

Any way you look at this situation, Josh was in the wrong. But I wish that all the people holding pitchforks out and poking at the whole family would really think about what they're saying. There are plenty of innocent people in this situation that are being hurt because someone wanted to dig up dirt on this family's past. My thoughts are with those innocent family members in what has got to be an embarrassing and difficult time.



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