Friday, February 28, 2014

The Quest for Skye: Chapter 30-31

Recap: Last time, the Greek military arrived, the Americans chased them off, Morgan & Tammy finally FINALLY agreed to stay on the island for a little while, and then Doctor L. L. died. It was a weird, abrupt wrap-up of the whole "the Greek economy depends on you!" subplot.

This chapter opens with Doctor L. L.'s funeral/memorial service:
Almost everyone on the island followed, each of them somehow touched by Layland’s kindness and generosity.
This would be more meaningful if they weren't living on an island especially designed by him and his wife for their children to live on. Of course they were each somehow touched by him. That's the only reason they're on the island at all. But whatever.

Skye gives a little speech to Morgan and Tammy about how "Father is with Jesus now," though she follows it up with "Mother is so happy," which makes me wonder, because I don't think we ever heard anything about Skye converting her mother, so, um, I'm pretty sure we have no reason to believe they are both in Heaven. So that's disconcerting.

Tammy plans to head back to St. Paul to put things in order at their clinic, but Morgan suggests:
“Maybe I should do that, since I’m the administrator.”
HEY! Maybe you SHOULD do some administrating somewhere! Since you've done absolutely NONE of that in this book so far. But Tammy says, no, she's going to go administrate their St. Paul clinic to get closure.

And that's the end of chapter 30, so I'm moving on to the next chapter, because otherwise this is the saddest little mini-chapter ever.
The next morning, Morgan and Tammy were awakened by Skye’s bouncing on their bed. “Hey Dad, wake up! We have to take our morning walk along the beach. Do you want to go all the way back in the cave? It’s scary!” Skye pretended to shudder with fear.
Well, she has clearly gotten over her parents' death pretty quickly.

Actually, what this opening makes me think is, "OH MY GOSH I HATE KIDS LIKE THIS." Reason #14535 I should not have children: The idea of a child waking me up by bouncing on my bed is filling me with snarky rage.

This seems to be a pattern with Skye, though. Morgan and Tammy may just have to resign themselves to never get a full night's sleep again, even though she is certainly old enough to have some self-control about waking up her "parents."

Skye tells a somewhat gruesome story about going all the way back in the cave with Ty(rion) and discovering scratch marks on the wall from when prisoners were clawing to get out of the cave as the tide came in. On that cheerful note, they go have breakfast.
“We won’t have time for exploring today, because I have a big tennis match with Lance.”
Morgan's officially taken over the clinic, but he's still not doing anything that resembles work. Sigh.

We get some brief descriptions of the couple doing some vaguely work-y things but worrying all the time about how little time they have left with Skye. Then, suddenly, we have this timeline update:
Dr. Rozak left for two weeks on the annual Cruise for a Cure.
So I'm assuming it's been about a year since that first cruise. I went to look up how much time happened between the cruise and Lance the Tennis Player arriving with his letter. Turns out it was about 3 1/2 months. So we have just zoomed on by their life on the island. Nothing important happening here, gang. Morgan's supposedly administrating and Tammy is... doing something sciencey and caring about rare childhood diseases but mostly everyone's just waiting around for Skye to die.
Morgan suggested Skye enter some of her quality photographs in a contest.
A cropping and printing contest? Because that is what Skye is best at.

If she enters Mrs. Scott's pictures in a contest and wins money without acknowledging she was not the photographer (as Morgan suggested way back when), she had better send some of that prize money to the old lady...

One morning, Morgan and Tammy are woken up by Skye giggling about how she let a bunch of the island's black squirrels into the house. Maya discovers them and screams a bunch, while Skye thinks this is the funniest thing ever and laughs for like three minutes straight before deciding maybe she should help Maya get the squirrels out of their house. Yeah, she's a charmer. But she tells them all this while doing a bad John Wayne imitation, so, um, I guess that makes it cuter?
Skye and Maya spent the next two hours trying to get the squirrels out of the house, finally succeeding using a fishing net and laundry basket.
TWO HOURS? Skye thinks it's hilarious that she and her housekeeper are going to have to spend TWO HOURS getting rid of a couple of squirrels? While, what, Morgan and Tammy lounge around in bed? Something tells me Maya's not nearly as amused by this as everyone else is...

So then we zoom two months ahead, and Skye continues to be as obnoxious as she was a year ago:
Skye was always the first one up on Sunday mornings. “Time for church,” she would bellow at the top of her lungs, jumping on her parents’ bed.
Oh my gosh. SOMEBODY needs to get this child to calm down, right now.

Grandchild Jumping on Bed
Reason #5481 I shouldn't be a mom: I see nothing adorable whatsoever about being woken up
by children bouncing on my bed. I don't care if it's Christmas. Go away. 

Anyway, Morgan and Tammy wake up one Sunday to find the power is out and Skye is still sleeping, but when they go in to wake her up, she doesn't wake up. Morgan and Tammy panic, but as they start to panic, suddenly people start arriving:
Hearing the commotion, Maya rushed in. “The ambulance is here. What’s wrong?”  
Ty and Penni raced into the room right behind her.  
Quickly assessing the situation, Ty shouted, “Lay her on the bed.”
Hold on hold on hold on. Ty(rion) is an IT guy, not a nurse! What the heck is he even doing here?

Apparently there was a power surge that made all the girls' alarms go off, so it wasn't until like ten minutes after Skye went comatose that they even realized anything was genuinely wrong with her. So the IT guy grabbed the only nurse mentioned by name, called Dr. Rozak, and rushed over in an ambulance.

They all follow Skye to the hospital, where most of them file into the chapel and pray for her.

It was hard to read Tammy’s expression when she entered the hushed waiting room, but there was no doubt that it registered concern.
So, wait, isn't that reading her expression? Doesn't that mean "her concerned expression was easy to read"? I think what he really meant is that Morgan couldn't tell right away whether Skye was alive or dead. However, it turns out Skye is alive. She had a seizure, but they got to her in time... which is too bad because we still have like 20% of this book left and I'm not sure I can take Skye squealing at the top of her lungs about church for another 35 pages.

I know, I'm a terrible person, eagerly waiting for this fictional child to die, but if he hadn't made her so dang annoying...

Dr. Rozak announces:
“I’ve called the team in and we’re going to work today. In fact, we’re going to work around the clock until we get as far or farther than the Leontiou’s were.”
Sigh. I see Rothdiener and his editor still don't know how to use apostrophes.

I'm pretty sure they've been talking about the team working around the clock anyway. Was this like their one day off in the past two months? I guess now the reality has sunk in that Skye's going to die any day now, so they should really work on this whole cure thing.

Morgan insists that Dr. Rozak should have known something about the Leontious' work, but apparently all he ever did was administer the injections. He is a doctor, not a scientist. If he wasn't ever involved in the procedure to begin with, I don't really know why he's doing any work on the procedure now.

Morgan asks if there were backup hard drives.

OH MY GOSH. If there were backup hard drives and everyone forgot about them because they were idiots and all this time they could have just restored the freaking virus killing antidote from the backups that were there all along, I'm going to hit someone.

Fortunately, that's not the case. Ty(rion) tried to save the hard drives, but they were all wiped. (I mean, obviously they should have saved the backups on external hard drives that weren't connected to the network because that's how backups work, but at least they weren't like, "Hey, we never thought of using the backups!")

Dr. Rozak says Skye has like a year, tops, before she dies. Then we get this speech:
With fresh optimism Morgan began to speak, starting in a whisper, but growing louder with each phrase. “She’ll get better! I know she will. We’re going to beat this! Skye is going to beat this! Everyone get to work. We have a job to do. Lives to save!”  
Morgan rushed out of the room to Skye’s side.
Guys, there is NO WAY to do this without making it hilarious.

I issue you all that challenge. Say Morgan's speech, starting by whispering "She'll get better" and getting louder with each sentence until you're yelling, "LIVES TO SAVE!" and then run out of the room. If you can do this with great sincerity and seriousness and not burst into laughter about halfway through, you're a better person than I.

Morgan goes to see Skye, who is very concerned that she didn't get to play piano in church that morning. (That may be one of the first actual childlike responses I've seen from her. Kudos, Rothdiener.) She then pleasantly reports that she had an out-of-body experience during this whole thing, which freaks Morgan out. She ends by quoting Scripture at him and saying God knows what he's doing.

We are 80% of the way through. Eight chapters, 44 pages, two more months. (Unless chapters are short again and I can cram a couple in together like today. Whoo!)


(Chapter 32.)

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

Movie Plot Translation Game: Answers

It's time to reveal the answers to last week's Movie Plot Translation Game! I had a lot of people guess, both on and off the blog, and I was impressed, overall, with how many people got some of the incredibly difficult ones. So kudos to all of you -- now it's time to reveal the answers!

#100 - Help the kids for some reason from the desert abode must be unjust. (2000s family movie)

#200 - In the chorus, where fear anti-Semitism that emotional development manager of the farmer's daughter who is 3. (1970s musical)
Fiddler on the Roof

#300 - At that time, his father, Eddie, who was married last year. However, the difference between the women of the father. I think that the girl is the best choice for you. (1960s... family rom-com?)
The Courtship of Eddie's Father

#400 - Biographical files, Director and Howard in the early years of the 20th century, a pioneer in aviation, the profession of Hughes Middle-1940. (2000s drama)
The Aviator

#500 - The establishment of foreign funds of $ beating the s*** that goes beyond a few seconds before the Earth is destroyed by his friend Ford, recommended by the scientists called the new world. (2000s comedy)
The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy

#600 - Armed robbers ball and Tiger is actually two Liao dynasty, Willie tries to convince forests and pressures of civilization. (1960s kids' movie)
The Jungle Book

#700 - Hostility against the body and the other, but relative. (1990s rom com)
You've Got Mail

#800 - The above obligation to sisters of Henry VIII. (2000s drama)
The Other Boleyn Girl

#900 - For all ages, kids, dogs and hunting adventures and stories touched my cream. (1970s family movie that is WAY too high on my list.)
Where the Red Fern Grows

#1000 - Women: official training widow Bin monasteres Autriche. (1960s musical)
The Sound of Music

#1100 - A widow, took the elder son of the King of Siam on the issue. (1950s musical)
The King and I

#1200 - Nurses are responsible for a player can't talk, you will find that the personal representative of the confused with him. (1960s psychological drama)

#1300 - As a story about a girl of 14 years to collect diaries low teens, including you know here kiss. (2000s teen comedy that probably nobody has ever seen but me)
Angus, Thongs, and Perfect Snogging

#1400 - A person able to unify the high school girl of his dreams, despite the fact that her husband is a disaster. (1990s comedy)
There's Something About Mary

#1500 - Marinated Fennel agents, as he was a magical flying piano anywhere in the world, but was soon in trouble. (1980s kids' short)
Pontoffel Pock, Where Are You?

#1600 - Fall Turkey argues that the key to the prosperity of Maya rulers, when standing on the other to build temples, and human sacrifice. Jaguar paw and sacrifice captured trying to escape the fate of men. (2000s action drama)

#1700 - The rocker went to Ohio on his biggest fan TV farewell kiss before he pulled from a small town. (1960s musical)
Bye Bye Birdie

#1800 - He kidnapped the woman a man sends a message and the stray cats. The owner of the cat, the FBI said. Central Bureau of investigation is trying to follow the cats jealous people and get the action of nosy neighbors. (1960s kids movie)
That Darn Cat!

#1900 - Wholesale with little success in Italy open top. (1970s crime drama)
Mean Streets

#2000 - Dave Seville finds success in the fight between the three Chipmunks lyrics: mischievous leader Alvin, Simon and Theodore, and fat affect. (And we'll close off with an easy one for you.)
Alvin and the Chipmunks

How many did you get right? How many have you seen, but you've never have guessed that's what they were from the given plot? :-)

Monday, February 24, 2014

The Worst Children's Book Series Ever

Once upon a time, my siblings and I made up a character called "Baby Wayney." He was an actual baby, I think. But he didn't really have a personality or anything, he just occasionally showed up when we needed a name or a placeholder character for a game we were playing.

Then, once upon another time, we thought it might be fun to come up with as many rhyming phrases as we could. Somehow this morphed into creating a series of children's books, representing it with a rhyming one-sentence pitch. (We tried to roughly keep the meter the same throughout.) Since Baby Wayney was our placeholder name, it only made sense to center this series of kids' books around him as well.

One of us came up with a random sentence, and then we went around the room coming up with as many rhymes as we could. We couldn't reuse the same word, although we could reuse homonyms as long as they had different meanings/spellings (we used both the noun and verb forms of "fries," for example, as well as things like "sighs" and "size").

I was reminded of this the other day and decided I should let you guys read this awesomeness. Here, for your reading amusement, is our list, with the occasional comment.

Baby Wayney and the pigs fall in a cave full of flies
The initial book premise. It's a pretty dumb one to begin with, but our rhyming ones aren't any better. Turns out there are A BILLION rhymes for "flies," though. We thought we'd have to switch out rhymes after about 15 minutes, but we kept going for like an hour and a half.

Baby Wayney and the eagle go soaring across the skies

Baby Wayney and the bees mourn for a flower that dies

Baby Wayney and the detective try to find out who lies

Baby Wayney and James Bond compete to become spies
I would totally reach a children's book about a baby competing with James Bond for superspydom.

Baby Wayney as the panda prances about in disguise

Baby Wayney and his mom juggle after multiple tries

Baby Wayney and the garbage man have too many twisty ties
I have this image of him and a garbage man sitting half-buried in a mound of twisty ties, looking around in despair.

Baby Wayney and his death row friends watch the new guy who fries
Occasionally we got a little morbid.

Baby Wayney at McDonald's says he'd like that with fries

Baby Wayney and the cook patiently watch bread dough rise
Sometimes the stories were... not exactly action-packed.

Baby Wayney and the party guest have the element of surprise

Baby Wayney and the church greeter change their "hellos" into "his"

Baby Wayney and the pigs fall into the cave (reprise)
I had to go back and remember what our first Baby Wayney story was when I wrote this one.

Baby Wayney and the Indian practice their woodpecker cries

Baby Wayney and the tailor find clothes that are just the right size

Baby Wayney asks the babysitter if she would sing lullabies

Baby Wayney and the spider collectively have too many eyes

Baby Wayney and the pigs go back to their home and their sties
The pigs are fun recurring characters.

Baby Wayney and the caterpillar both want to be butterflies

Baby Wayney and the emo kid yell, "I HATE ALL YOU GUYS!"

Baby Wayney and a bored guy who sits there and mumbles and sighs

Baby Wayney and his sister get trapped in the dryer that dries
To distinguish from all the dryers that bake cookies.

Baby Wayney and the selfish kid learn to compromise
So far, that might be the only one that sounds like an actual children's book.

Baby Wayney tries his best but never will get the prize
And this one teaches an important lesson about... failure and giving up?

Baby Wayney and his friends tearfully say their goodbyes

Baby Wayney and the clown get sick from too many pies

Baby Wayney and the awkward kid face the bully from whom he shies

Baby Wayney and his aerobics class dance to tone up their thighs

Baby Wayney and his aerobics class decide they hate exercise
This is obviously a direct sequel to the one above it.

Baby Wayney and the queen, who suddenly breaks down and cries
I don't know why it has to be the queen, but I guess she's a fun character to include in this series.

Baby Wayney and the psychiatrist learn to hypnotize

Baby Wayney and his friends give you a word from the wise

Baby Wayney is really freaked out that it's time to circumcise
I'm pretty sure this contribution was mine...

Baby Wayney and the villain, who loves to antagonize

Baby Wayney learns from his mother that it's not polite when he pries

Baby Wayney and his friends learn something they didn't realize

Baby Wayney painted a picture, but what does it symbolize?

Baby Wayney and his lit class must read about Catchers in Ryes
Totally appropriate reading material for children.

Baby Wayney talks to his friend about the day's low points and highs

Baby Wayney is going to Africa so it's time to immunize

Baby Wayney poops in the garden to help it to fertilize
Baby Wayney is helpful!

Baby Wayney makes up with someone he used to despise

Baby Wayney and Hugh Laurie learn how to dancercise
Baby Wayney and Hugh Laurie say the creation was Stephen Fry's
These are both references to this sketch.

Baby Wayney and the messy children learn how to organize

Baby Wayney's hypnotic techniques successfully mesmerize

Baby Wayney and ze Russian experiment on little vhite mize
We were clearly running out of ideas at this point.

Baby Wayney tells his teacher he's going to heart dot his I's
This is another one that doesn't seem to have a lot of... plot. It's not even about Baby Wayney ACTUALLY dotting his I's with hearts. It's just about him alerting the teacher.

Baby Wayney and the pirates try not to let the ship capsize
Baby Wayney helps the pirate as he works and he fortifies
Baby Wayney and the pirates win because they keep yelling "Aye!"s
However, we follow up that really-not-exciting book with an awesome pirate trilogy!

Baby Wayney and the sheriff need someone to deputize

Baby Wayney condenses his mess by learning to compartmentalize

Baby Wayney is the ref, so he gets to penalize

Baby Wayney and Eliza Doolittle work hard to chinge 'er wise
Eliza Doolittle, for those who do not know old movies or musicals.

Baby Wayney reveals a strength his toddler stature belies
The first reference to the fact that he might be an actual baby.

Baby Wayney texts back, "You really should capitalize"
He's a bit of a grammar Nazis, it seems.

Baby Wayney and the bugs have finally found pigs to traumatize
You'd think after all he's been through with the pigs, he'd be more sympathetic to them.

Baby Wayney and ALL of his FRIENDS learn to EMPhasize
This one might be my favorite.

Baby Wayney likes his thrillers, romances, fantasies, and sci-fis

Baby Wayney and the cheerleaders jump about to help energize

Baby Wayney calls everyone stupid so he can demoralize

Baby Wayney runs into a problem and decides he must analyze

Baby Wayney has too much ice and so he liquefies

Baby Wayney learns about questions – the whos, whats, whens, wheres, and whys

Baby Wayney likes coffees and teas, especially lattes and chais

Baby Wayney and the preacher go out to evangelize

All right, crew. Do you have any to add to this list? Would you actually read any of them if they existed? Will you buy the entire series if we write these books? :-P

Friday, February 21, 2014

No Skye Today

Sorry, gang, arthritis got in the way this week and I never did get to write up Skye. But I went to the doctor today and got some more meds that'll hopefully get me back to feeling awesome soon. So we'll return next week!

In the meantime, have some silly videos to brighten your Friday:

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Movie Plot Translation Game Time!

You know what I haven't done on my blog in more than a year? Taken movie plots from IMDb, run them through Bad Translator, and made you guess what they were! I also recently added my 2000th movie to Flickchart, so there will be 20 to guess, as I like to choose every 100th movie on my chart. I'm sure they've shifted around plenty in the past year.

As always, I'll give you the decade and the genre to help you out a little bit.

#100 - Help the kids for some reason from the desert abode must be unjust. (2000s family movie)

#200 - In the chorus, where fear anti-Semitism that emotional development manager of the farmer's daughter who is 3. (1970s musical)

#300 - At that time, his father, Eddie, who was married last year. However, the difference between the women of the father. I think that the girl is the best choice for you. (1960s... family rom-com?)

#400 - Biographical files, Director and Howard in the early years of the 20th century, a pioneer in aviation, the profession of Hughes Middle-1940. (2000s drama)

#500 - The establishment of foreign funds of $ beating the s*** that goes beyond a few seconds before the Earth is destroyed by his friend Ford, recommended by the scientists called the new world. (2000s comedy -- censoring of the curse word is mine, as ya never know when I'm going to have young readers on this blog... I'm not sure where that came from)

#600 - Armed robbers ball and Tiger is actually two Liao dynasty, Willie tries to convince forests and pressures of civilization. (1960s kids' movie. Good luck with this one.)

#700 - Hostility against the body and the other, but relative. (1990s rom com. Nobody will ever get this.)

#800 - The above obligation to sisters of Henry VIII. (2000s drama)

#900 - For all ages, kids, dogs and hunting adventures and stories touched my cream. (1970s family movie that is WAY too high on my list.)

#1000 - Women: official training widow Bin monasteres Autriche. (1960s musical)

#1100 - A widow, took the elder son of the King of Siam on the issue. (1950s musical)

#1200 - Nurses are responsible for a player can't talk, you will find that the personal representative of the confused with him. (1960s psychological drama)

#1300 - As a story about a girl of 14 years to collect diaries low teens, including you know here kiss. (2000s teen comedy that probably nobody has ever seen but me)

#1400 - A person able to unify the high school girl of his dreams, despite the fact that her husband is a disaster. (1990s comedy)

#1500 - Marinated Fennel agents, as he was a magical flying piano anywhere in the world, but was soon in trouble. (1980s kids' short. Pretty sure only my family has a chance of getting this.)

#1600 - Fall Turkey argues that the key to the prosperity of Maya rulers, when standing on the other to build temples, and human sacrifice. Jaguar paw and sacrifice captured trying to escape the fate of men. (2000s... action drama, I think. I honestly can't remember it well enough to be certain whether it was more action or more drama, and IMDb lists both.)

#1700 - The rocker went to Ohio on his biggest fan TV farewell kiss before he pulled from a small town. (1960s musical)

#1800 - He kidnapped the woman a man sends a message and the stray cats. The owner of the cat, the FBI said. Central Bureau of investigation is trying to follow the cats jealous people and get the action of nosy neighbors. (1960s kids movie)

#1900 - Wholesale with little success in Italy open top. (1970s crime drama)

#2000 - Dave Seville finds success in the fight between the three Chipmunks lyrics: mischievous leader Alvin, Simon and Theodore, and fat affect. (And we'll close off with an easy one for you.)

Leave your guesses in the comments! I'll post the answers on Monday.

Monday, February 17, 2014

Being Afraid to Speak Up

There are probably 4-5 finished blogs sitting in the "drafts" section of my blog dashboard. My thoughts in them are pretty complete, I think I've said it about as well as I'm going to, I've just never hit "publish."

Usually it's because I'm afraid.

I've gotten very comfortable sharing my opinion on some serious topics. I am never afraid to post something about introversion, depression, or my opinions on movies. I've had practice articulating my thoughts on those subjects, I can speak from experience, and they're typically not all that controversial.

But there are other things, other thoughts and opinions, that I am just terrified to post.

I've been trying for about a week now to write a blog about why I have chosen not to have children. I was writing it partly in response to a conversation I had on Facebook, but the subject quickly became much more emotionally charged for me than I expected and I had to back out of the discussion. I hoped maybe I could pull together my thoughts and articulate it better as a blog.

Well, I pulled them together, I think they're about as articulate as they're going to get, but I am just too scared to publish it.

What if it comes across as angry and reactionary because I'm still emotionally connecting it to that frustrating Facebook conversation?

What if others respond angrily and simply label my opinions self-centered and childish without listening to my reasoning or even bothering to think about it from my point of view?

What if someone who is a mom feels like I'm disregarding her role in society or telling her she made the wrong choice?

What if I think it's articulate now, but ten years from now I look at it and realize I was being ignorant and stupid?

What if I hurt someone with my post, who then responds angrily and hurts me with their post, and then everybody's just hurt and I haven't accomplished anything?

I look at some of the big name Christian bloggers who share their thoughts on the big controversial subjects all the time, the ones where it's hard to even start talking about them anymore because they're so emotionally fragile people just charge in already feeling strongly about the subject without even listening what anyone else has to say... and I feel completely exhausted and overwhelmed and think, "How in the world do they do it?"

I don't want to hurt people with my words. I want to be clear about what I think and feel but not if it come at someone else's expense. But, to be completely honest, I also don't want to hurt myself with my words. Sometimes I think I stick to safe subjects because it's less likely that somebody is going to react negatively to it and make me feel bad about myself.

Good writing is vulnerable, but being vulnerable means it hurts when people hit you back, and if I'm not ready to deal with that, maybe I'm not ready to speak about it yet.

Is this extreme caution a bad thing? I don't know. Sometimes it is, sometimes it isn't. Sometimes I've forged ahead, posted something I wasn't sure I was ready to post, and got an overwhelmingly positive reaction from it. Other times I've posted something and realized shortly afterward that I did it all wrong. There are times where I have to just do it and be willing to say it even if it scares me, and other times when I'd have been better off keeping my mouth shut. I'm still trying to find the discernment to pinpoint when it is the right time to share something -- when I am ready and when my potential audience is ready. Sometimes, with some subjects, that may be never.

So one of these days you might get to see that blog about children. You might not. But either way, thank you, my readers, for letting me share what I have thus far. Sorry this post doesn't really have much of a point... It's just a musing on how blogging serious thoughts can be scary, and it really makes me appreciate all the ways you've all encouraged me and made me feel free to share my heart with so many of you via this blog over the past couple years.

Friday, February 14, 2014

The Quest for Skye: Chapter 29

Recap: Doctor L. L. is alive but dying, and Skye is dying, and Morgan and Tammy have finally agreed to take over the clinic until Skye dies, but after that, forget all the rest of the girls who need their help, they're taking off.
It took a joint effort to prepare the turkey and trimmings for over a hundred people in less than five hours. But they pulled it off, and dinner was ready, as promised.
...Who is "they"?

Are these not the regular cafeteria workers? Is this not the kind of thing they do every day? Surely they feed most of the people in the hospital and on the island every day, in less than five hours. And of course it took a "joint effort." Who the heck would be like,  "I want turkey and trimmings for over a hundred people in less than five hours! But only ONE OF YOU CAN DO THIS!"

I can't even get past the first paragraph of a chapter before I'm reminded what a terrible writer Rothdiener is...

Doctor L. L. and Skye show up in the cafeteria and everyone applauds.
Morgan could see how deeply admired, respected, Layland was. I wonder what the Klitous would think if they saw this?
"Stupid Markus and his wife. Nobody loves THEM. Ha!"

Doctor L. L. cheerfully announces to everyone that Malinda's dead and that he'll be dead soon.
Facing his computer expert, he added, “Ty, I want to thank you and Jane for everything you’ve done. Your computer skills have proved beneficial more times than I can count.”
Well, now we have finally confirmed who Ty is... now WHO THE HECK IS JANE?

He thanks a few more people, including "Nurse Penni," who we never met, and Victoria, who we did very briefly. He then introduces Morgan and Tammy as the new people in charge. Skye is about to pray for the food, when suddenly there is the sound of HELICOPTERS outside. A guard tells Lance that three armed military helicopters have landed in their courtyard and that all the men are waiting out at the helicopter pad.
Morgan jumped up to join Lance; Tammy grabbed his arm. “Honey, be careful.” She tried to sound upbeat, keeping her composure.  
He lowered his eyebrows. “When was the last time you talked with Senator Talbert?”  
Tammy nodded, understanding what he was asking.
What? I don't understand what he is asking. Talbert hasn't been mentioned in the book up until now (I just checked). Is Morgan asking her to, I don't know... call this senator she might or might not be friends with and ask him to... what? He's presumably an American senator. What the heck is he supposed to do about Greek military landing on somebody's private country island? I mean, America does occasionally like to jump into battles we have nothing to do with, but this doesn't seem to be a case where that's likely to happen.

Of course, the previous book in this series involved the President of the U.S. granting an American pop star the right to move her Muslim mother's body from its grave in Iraq and transport it to the U.S., against the wishes of pretty much everyone in Iraq, including her government and the rest of her family. So Rothdiener's grasp of America's political clout is a little bit... confused.

Lance and the guards are putting on bulletproof vests and getting guns, and Morgan's like, "Me too! Me too!" When Lance asks him if he's used one of them before, he's like, "Pshaw, I went hunting with my dad sometimes." I gotta say, I do NOT particularly want a gun in Morgan's hands... But they shrug and give him one, and Lance talks him through how to use it, explaining concepts like the safety and the trigger.


The helicopters land, and out pour the following people: 30 armed soldiers, the colonel who was with the last Greek invasion, a "high political figure in the Greek government" named Dimitri Petrou, a judge, Markus and his wife, and a cameraman.

Lance tells them they're all under arrest because they're violating the Leontiou-Greece treaty. Petrou says nuh-uh, because probably Leontiou is dead.
“Once the world finds out about his death, the Greek government will fall. Then my party will take control, at which time the new Greek government— with me as its new leader— will step in, and if need be, with force, remove everyone here, including Leontiou’s precious little heir to the throne.”
I STILL don't really understand why Leontiou's death causes the Greek government to fall. Is it the island itself that is going to destroy the Greek government/economy? Leontiou himself can't possibly be that important, given that he has isolated himself so fully from anything but his Batten research.

All the people on the island show up at that time, and Lance says they'll all fight to the death to protect the island, which is kind of a big assumption to make. I can just imagine him saying that, and like half the people go back inside the clinic.

Morgan yells at Markus that it's going to look really bad for them if the camera captures them firing on civilians, but, um, he's ignoring the fact that Markus is the one controlling the camera. It'll only look bad for them if he captures that and then decides to release the tape. In which case, he was kind of asking for the bad publicity.

Morgan then appeals to Markus' sense of not-shooting-civilians-being-the-right-thing-to-do, but Petrou goes all supervillain and summons four jet fighters.
Lance responded, screaming over the noise, “The Greek government... the real Greek government, would not do this.” 
“I will sweep those fools away with a wave of my hand!” Petrou bellowed.
See? I told you. Supervillain.

Lance says he thinks Petrou's bluffing, but with a wave of his hand Petrou apparently orders the helicopters to order the jets to blow up a water tower, which they do.

Then... Doctor L. L. finally shows his face, makes a speech about how children are people too and they shouldn't be shot at, and then...
Six American Super Hornets were streaking across the island, in hot pursuit of the Greek planes. Out numbered, outgunned, and outclassed, the Greek jets wasted no time in beating a hasty retreat.


All the soldiers get into the helicopters and fly away, but, um, they leave the non-soldiers behind on the island. Way to take care of your own, Greek army.

“You might also be interested to learn that Tammy once saved the life of a United States Senator’s son. Senator Talbert serves on the Senate Armed Services Committee, and he’d like nothing better than to repay that debt. Tammy phoned him when we heard your merry little band of cutthroats landing on the island. After that, I figure the chain of command was followed. Senator Talbert called the President of the United States, who called NATO command. You see, the island of Kardia falls under the protection of NATO, a fact of which your government has just been reminded.”
OK. I'm not going to comment a ton on this because I don't know much about how exactly NATO works. I did look it up on Wikipedia to get an overview, but I don't believe in writing oodles about things I don't understand, so I'm just going to say:

1) How the heck did Leontiou Island get to be part of NATO? How come Morgan knows this but apparently nobody else does?

2) THAT MOVED FAST. Seriously, from when Morgan said, "Psst, call the senator," to when the jets showed up, I'd estimate like 5-10 minutes' worth of dialogue has happened. That's 5-10 minutes for Tammy to find a phone, figure out how to reach her senator friend, give him a call, explain the situation, have him give the President a call, explain the situation, have him give NATO command a call, explain the situation, and have him order the jets to go from "a few miles from here" (where they were holding war games, Morgan explained) to Leontiou Island?

Yeah, no.

Morgan ends his explanation with this zinger:
“If I were a betting man, Mr. Petrou, I’d wager that you’re not going to be having a good day, probably for the rest of your life.”

I can't even say that with a straight face.

"You'll be having a bad day... FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE!"
But suddenly, it was imminently clear to all that Dr. Morgan Hamilton was assuming the mantle of leadership. Tammy felt a surge of pride. She now had no doubt that Morgan was up to the challenges facing him as the clinic administrator.
Oh, sheesh. Is the best measurement of a good administrator really whether he can coordinate a NATO attack in time to force a Greek army off an island and then throwing out a really stupid "goodbye" line?

But then again, this is playing into the icky stereotype that aggression = manliness = awesomeness, which always annoys me, because I tend to find that aggression = obnoxiousness = GET AWAY FROM ME.

So the three political people go back to... oh, another helicopter, I guess the soldiers didn't abandon them completely. They're apparently going to be arrested when they get to Greece, so, um, that's nice? But Markus and Anna are still stuck on the island. Unless they have yet another helicopter. Which, it turns out they do. So there were at least four helicopters, because when the soldiers left it definitely referred to "helicopters," not just one helicopter. SOMEONE needs to learn to count.

They all head back inside for turkey, and Lance says it's OK that they blew up the water tower, because that was just the old one. So that problem's solved.
The Hamiltons were overwhelmed by Skye’s prayer. She talked to God like she was chatting with her best friend. Again they thought, if only we could be more like Skye.
Yup. Because Skye's prayer isn't about God. It's about Skye.
While Morgan ate, his mind was still reeling with the recent events. What had given Dr. Leontiou the strength to do what he’d done? Or, rather, who had given him the strength?
Could it be... DUN DUN DUN... God?

Actually, it probably isn't. It's probably Skye. God doesn't seem to be very involved in this story.
Layland knew he no longer had to worry about the Greek government trying to take over.
Well, that wraps up that subplot. Should be about time for the book to end now...

WHAT? We're only 75% of the way through? Is this story NEVER going to finish?

So then there's an uninteresting couple sections where Doctor L. L. dies and Skye cries about it. It is nice to know she has feelings after all, though of course when she seemed heartless earlier it was because her parents weren't actually dead yet.

The next day, Leontiou's lawyers arrive:
Sitting around the large table in the meeting room, Barrows explained what happened when Petrou and his associates returned to Athens. “They, along with fifty other government officials, were arrested. The socialists on the left had been working quietly trying to bring the Leontiou Empire down, and overthrow Greece. Fortunately, their efforts were thwarted by Lance and Morgan.”
I still don't understand why the Leontiou Empire's reign was connected to Greece, and I still don't know what Skye had to do with ANY of this...

Apparently Doctor L. L. was convinced when he died that Morgan's "YOU CAN'T TAKE OVER OUR COUNTRY" stand meant that he would be willing to stick around and take care of the clinic after Skye died, which is, um, not at all what that means, it was just Morgan reveling in being a tough guy, but whatever.

And then Morgan and Tammy sign the papers and the clinic is theirs and finally the longest chapter in the world is OVER.

Roughly 50 more pages to go, says the Kindle. We can make it!

(Chapter 30.)

Wednesday, February 12, 2014

Anti-Love Mix 2014

It's that time of year again, guys! When I compile the best unrequited love songs, break-up songs, terrible relationship songs, "forget romance" songs, and "someday my prince will come" songs added to my collection the previous year and present them in mix format for you all to enjoy.

It's always interesting to see what types of songs I end up with. This year's selection ended up being fairly upbeat and optimistic, with not a lot of truly sad, sad songs in the mix. (But don't worry, melancholy friends, there are definitely a few.) As a whole, the list is a lot more "we'll make it through!" than "my life is over!" It's just where it landed this year.

Without further ado, here's the 2014 Anti-Love mix, complete with download link at the bottom.

1. Kiss You (Roomie)
I always like to start my mixes off with happy songs about falling in love. Because as difficult and sucky as unrequited love is, there's still something really fun and exciting about loving someone. This is my favorite cover version of this song. It makes me want to dance.

2. I Wanna Dance With Somebody Who Loves Me (Whitney Houston)
Speaking of dancing... I rediscovered this song this past year and realized I didn't have it in my music library. FIXED. It's so cheerful and happy but the lyrics are so sad and wistful, and you all probably know I'm a sucker for happy-sounding songs about sad things. So of course this one had to be in this mix.

3. Dumb (Tich)
A song about realizing you might have missed out on your chance because you rejected someone and then later developed feelings for them. It's a fun dancey little tune, and I really enjoy the right-before-the-chorus lyric of: "You make me smile... a lot."

4. When I Fall In Love (Michael Ball)
An old classic from one of my favorite vocalists. I've probably even included other versions of this song on previous Anti-Love Mixes or URLSCDs... but it's always worth including again. A beautiful, wistful song about truly falling in love someday.

5. Hello (Paul Anka)
One of the albums I kind of fell in love with this past year was Paul Anka's "Rock Swings," in which he does smooth jazzy versions of mostly rock songs. Here he covers Lionel Richie's "Hello," and I love it. It's a little less mournful than the original, which makes it seem less like an emo stalker is singing it and more like playful flirting.

6. Let Me Love You (Jacob Artist, from Glee)
I love this version of the song so much more than the original. It's a sweet and gentle and tender ballad, as it should be, instead of a vaguely dancey bland pop number. Sung like this, it's one of those songs like Enrique Iglesias' "Hero" that easily melts a girl's heart.

7. Misery Loves My Company (Farah Alvin)
I found this song on a YouTube video of a concert somewhere and fell in love with it. I was pretty hyped when I found it was on SoundCloud. It's got a great "torch song" sound and wonderfully jaded lyrics. Super satisfying to sing along to when I'm feeling miserable.

8. Against All Odds (Darren Criss, from Glee)
I found this to be one of the most moving performances on the show in a long time. Darren Criss has a way of infusing his sad songs with a great deal of emotion and making me really listen to the lyrics. As far as sad love song goes, this is a classic, and I love his rendition of it.

9. When I Was Your Man (Sam Tsui)
It's not an Anti-Love Mix without a Sam cover. :-) Really, though, this is one of my favorites he's done in a long time. I hadn't heard the original version when I first listened to this, and I love the sad lyrics and the simple melody, and Sam sings it with a satisfying degree of angst.

10. Manhattan (Sara Bareilles)
I've written about this song before, so I'll just say this song gets more heartbreaking and emotionally devastating every time I listen to it.

11. Should've Gone To Bed (Plain White T's)
And after just a few sad, dark songs, we begin our climb upward toward happier times, or at least happier sounds. This is a classic theme of the Anti-Love Mixes: the "I've had too many drinks and now I'm calling an ex, which is a stupid idea" song. (There are quite a few of these. And I own several.)

12. Boomerang (Barenaked Ladies)
And, on the flip side, here's an "we broke up but I'm pretty sure we'll get back together" song. It's fairly optimistic, unless, of course, you take the view that they're never going to get back together, in which case it's kind of tragically misguided.

13. Cups (Anna Kendrick)
And on to what is maybe my favorite Anti-Love Mix song category (and the busiest, this year): the songs about surviving break-ups. This song is maybe even instigating a breakup -- saying, "Well, off I go traveling the world. You can come along if you want. I'd like it if you did, and you'll miss me if you don't. But I AM going." I love the light breeziness of it and how nonchalant she is about just taking off.

14. It's a Beautiful Day (Michael Buble)
This is such a delightfully cheerful song about moving on from a not-good relationship. It's hard for me to listen to this song and not dance around in my chair.

15. Too Late (Roomie)
This is a Roomie original that I just discovered about a month ago and fell in love with. A happy, joyful song about the sort of perverse joy of an ex who dumped you returning to you only for you to realize you really don't want them back. Take THAT!

16. I'm Still Standing (Elton John)
I have also written about this song in the past few weeks. It seems like a good "HA, you couldn't break me!" song to end the mix on.

...Well, mostly end the mix. I do have one more.

17. Reindeer(s) Are Better Than People (from Frozen)
A short song to remind us all that sometimes people are just kinda lame.

Want the whole mix? You can get it here.

Monday, February 10, 2014

Frozen's "Let It Go": Sad Isolation Song or Triumphant Anthem?

Last week I had a fascinating conversation with one of my good friends, Jennie, and wanted to share that conversation here.

It all revolved around the song "Let It Go" from Frozen. If you haven't seen the movie, there are definitely spoilers ahead, and this post also won't make much sense. If you have seen the movie, however, chime in in the comments -- I'd love to hear your take on it!

Jennie's comments are in bold and on the right. Mine are plain and on the left.

I just came across a thing that made me go "wait . . . What?" I saw a comment on someone else's Facebook post that "let it go" is becoming some kind of anthem for people who have left/are leaving the LDS faith, and . . . Is that supposed to be ironic? Did they not watch the movie?

No, it's not ironic at all. It's become kind of anthemic for a lot of things, specifically with the idea of breaking out of things/situations where they felt like they had to hide who they were or keep from showing true emotions, so it's become a leaving faith anthem, a coming out anthem, a leaving-abusive-relationship anthem... all that kind of thing.

I mean, I love the song, but IMO it shouldn't be an anthem for anybody, any more than, say, "on my own" should be. Yes, it sounds all triumphant and liberating, but it's actually so phenomenally sad!

That's interesting that you felt that. It doesn't feel like a sad song to me at all. It feels *very* triumphant to me. Because even though she may be in (self-imposed) isolation now, for the first time in YEARS she actually feels free to be herself, and that's a really positive thought for me.

Yeah, but . . . It's not until the end of the movie, when Elsa reconnects with the people who love her, that she learns she wasn't as restricted ad she thought and only then, back in that place she left, that she reaches her full potential. The sad part is she didn't NEED to be in isolation.

Huh. That's a really interesting reading. I guess to me... her isolation and self-expression is a definite step forward rather than a step backward, although it's not the end of the journey. She still needs to figure out how to express herself AND reconnect with people, but before she was doing neither, and then suddenly she gets to do one

The trolls said fear would be her enemy - and her parents fear is exactly what kept her isolated her whole life.

Exactly, and when she finds a way to live without that fear, it's exhilarating for her, at least short-term.

So she put herself in further isolation, which, yes, felt freeing at first, but she didn't actually heal yet, not until she went back.

I see it as her gladly trading the isolation of her stone castle for the isolation of her ice castle, because at least this way she won't hurt anybody.

Well, yeah - I guess the sad for me is that she has no idea how good she could have it.

That's the thing, I guess, "Let It Go" speaks deeply to me of the moment when you're like, "I JUST FIGURED OUT I DON'T HAVE TO LIVE LIKE THIS ANYMORE" and even though there may be a downside to the new arrangement, even though you may not have healed yet, it's still an incredibly joyous moment to find freedom of any kind.

That's so interesting. It just honestly never occurred to me to see it as a sad song. It feels very... self-empowermenty.

From Elsa's point of view, yes, it's a song about freedom, but from an outside perspective it's a sad song about feeling like you have to leave whatever other good behind to try and find yourself. And you end up locking yourself away in an ice castle, alone.

I don't know how well you know "Defying Gravity" but that's the song it always gets compared to -- do you feel like that one is sad too?

Oh, definitely had the same feel. She's doing what she thinks she needs to do, but she ends up dying alone and unloved. (Haven't seen the whole musical, but nobody seems to mourn her in the original story.) So for me both songs are sad in the long-run context for me.

Huh. This is kinda mind blowing for me.

I mean, can you kind of see what I'm saying, though?

I guess... it just feels weird to me because I feel like that makes *everything* sad. Because if the movie ends happily for someone (like Frozen) the entire beginning is sad because they're not there yet, and if it ends somewhat badly for someone (like Wicked) it's sad because of where they end up. My brain isn't sure how to respond to that.

Oh, no, I made the whole world sad for Hannah, LOL

LOL! No, my emotions are responding to it just fine, it's just really befuddling to me.


OK, so I think we're looking at it from opposite angles.


You're looking at it from the ending and saying, "Elsa doesn't know how good things can/will get, and she's not there yet and she's sad," and I'm looking at it from the beginning, where she came from, and saying, "Elsa has finally found some semblance of happiness, that's awesome, I'm sure she'll figure the rest of it out eventually." (If she didn't, then I could be sad.)

I didn't say SHE was sad, I said the song was.

OK, well, wait, let me ask this question then: Do you think running away WAS a step forward? Or do you think it really was not a positive change at all?Because that makes a difference.

I figured she's not really any MORE isolated than she was in Arendell or whatever the town name is, and at least this way she gets to be free, even if she is lonely. But if it feels like a step... sideways or backward to you, that hugely changes things

(I'm so intrigued by all of this. It's just a POV on the movie I'd never have considered and I'm trying to wrap my brain around it.)

That's a complicated question, really. Imagine if she'd been up there alone and nobody had come to find her? What if it was years instead of only a couple days? What if she finally got lonely and bored of making beautiful ice things for herself, and she finally came back to see if her sister wanted to build a snowman - and found the ice age she'd created by leaving had left the land she grew up in desolate?

Now, maybe it was the step she personally needed to get past the fear her parents had instilled in her, but she never would have gotten over it alone, so was it a positive step in itself? I think I'd say no.

I think the only part that makes that hypothetical scenario any sadder than living isolated in Arendell her whole life is that she'd have desolated the town. If the town had found a way to survive and she had ever chosen to come back (which I doubt she would have), I feel like AT WORST she'd be no worse off than she was living in fear at Arendell. Because living *just* in loneliness seems better to me than living in loneliness *and* fear.

Sometimes loneliness IS fear.

But her fear was that she was going to hurt someone else, and she couldn't if she was alone.

Imagine instead if instead of suppressing her powers she'd used them carefully, learned how to control them better, and stayed close to her sister. Then maybe the ice age never would have happened, and she would never have felt the need to isolate herself

I agree all those good things *could* have happened, but I don't see any way they would have if she hadn't left. Not the way her parents entrenched her in fear. She was never going to break out of it if something drastic didn't happen. At least I don't think so. I mean, obviously it's not ideal. The actual ending is the best one, but I think getting a taste of living without fear ultimately strengthened her. And that never would have happened at Arendell.

But the whole "I'm never going back, the past is in the past" - well, as Rafiki said, you can either run from it, or learn from it."

I agree she maybe shouldn't refuse to look back and learn from it.

Yes, exactly.

But the feeling of knowing you never HAVE to go back to something is immensely freeing. I feel like that's an emotional statement of joy more than anything else.

My argument isn't that it isn't freeing, or wouldn't be a necessary step. It's that it probably shouldn't necessarily be aspired to. Just like Elsa had no idea her full potential could be reached with her sister's help, I sometimes wonder if people understand what they are really giving up.

I don't know that the song is meant to be prescriptive, though. It's just an expression of excitement and joy of a burden being lifted off of you.

And you get in an "I'm free I'm free - dang it" situation.

But even "I'm free I'm free - dang it" is better than constant aching misery, and I don't feel that makes the initial freedom any less joyful and exciting just because she hasn't figured out the balance yet. At least for me.

Oh, not for me either. People learn things in their own time, and they need to make mistakes to do it.

But I think maybe for me that's because I feel like I've occasionally DONE this. Like, honestly, my decision to not go to church was like that. And my decision to be a crazy introvert hermit once I finally figured out it was OK to not want to be social all the time was like that.

I don't know if I've told you about that - when I finally started figuring out it was OK to want to be alone, I withdrew like CRAZY. Even though ultimately I was like, "Yeah, this isn't as fun anymore, I want to find a better balance," the initial feeling of "I NEVER HAVE TO DO THIS AGAIN" was freaking. Amazing.

So I guess I connect to it on that level. There can be something so liberating about leaving certain things behind FOREVER -- even if it turns out later you can't leave them forever and you need them back in your life -- but at the time it feels like FOREVER and it feels awesome.

No, I get that, it's actually why I love the song. It isn't sad that Elsa needed to leave, and it isn't sad that Elsa potentially didn't need to leave, it's sad that she didn't know there might be other options. I love that Anna never stopped reaching out to her sister EVER. It's sad because Elsa was too afraid to try anything else BUT run away. Does that make it a bit clearer? I guess it's a very specific kind of sad for me. She had no idea how much she was loved and needed.

Hmm. OK. I guess I get that. I think it is sad that she didn't know there were other options, but I also think whatever she had to do to break through the fear was a positive thing and a triumphant thing, even if it couldn't last. There was no way she was going to just suddenly not be afraid and reach out to her sister, something big had to happen to push her to do that, something had to FORCE her to break through it. And so I guess that doesn't make me sad for her during Let It Go, because, hey, breaking through fear is a triumphant moment, but it definitely makes me HECKA sad for everything up until that point.

I think I see your point, it just feels weird for "Let It Go" to be included in the sadness because it feels like a positive high point for me, even though not THE positive high point.

Hehe. My brain works in strange ways, I guess.

But I think I understand it intellectually even if I can't grasp it emotionally.

Ok, cool.

I am really intrigued by that. Like I wonder what it says about our personalities that that's how we view it. It probably means I'm flighty and love to abandon things.

What do you guys think? Do you see both sides of this? Were you as taken aback as either one of us at hearing the other view?

Saturday, February 8, 2014

Weekend Reads

I read a LOT of good things this week! So here they all are. Enjoy!

Tweets This Week

Me: "I need to reschedule my connection since this flight is so delayed."  Airport clerk: "My computer shows that you're in the air now." --‏@TheBloggess

"I think this song needs more Lkjfylsiurrxmck." Every Sigur Ros songwriting meeting. --‏@JonAcuff

I often abbreviate "followup"on my to-do list. Now realizing that to anyone else, it just looks like "FU" and then the names of my coworkers --‏@laura_hudson

Actor Nicholas Cage claims he once woke up in the middle of the night to find a naked man eating a Fudgesicle in front of his bed. --‏@UberFacts

normal people flirting: hey you're cute we should go out sometime (;
me trying to flirt: so do u like bread -- ‏@chanelpuke

Before tucking us in Mom always said "remember - if life hands you lemons, it's because you've sinned in the eyes of God." -- @JohnFugelsang

"Honestly, I wanna see you be brave." -- weird courage fetishist --@BillCorbett

The first man to survive going over Niagara Falls later died from slipping on an orange peel. --@UberFacts

"Backpfeifengesicht" is a German word for a face that badly needs a punch. --‏@UberFacts

Sometimes I hear “Nights on Broadway” and don’t sing the theme to “The Barry Gibb Talk Show”. Tonight is not one of those nights. --‏@wilw

I wish my name was Ray Cyste just so I could say, "I'm not racist but I am Ray Cyste." -- @scottEweinberg

I pray she doesn't know George Lucas.  RT @THR J.K. Rowling: I Made a Mistake With the #HarryPotter Ending -- @scottEweinberg

If I had a hammer... I'd use it to knock your head in for hammering in the morning and hammering in the evening. We're trying to sleep. --‏@KiriCallaghan

My wife, a professional & talented artist, told me I should be "drawn and quartered". Does this mean she's offering me 25 cents for posing? -- @IJasonAlexander

First ep of Looking. Groffsauce goes on a date with a guy who is thoroughly uncharmed by him.
I didn't know this was a sci-fi/fantasy show! --‏@Lin_Manuel

My dad lost fingers in an industrial accident. I told him he should say "I can count the number of fingers I've lost on one hand!" --‏@michaeljnelson

At the end, it would be funny if they said, "Forget all that. The winner is the one who can blow up the MOST BALLOONS." #creationdebate -- @maureenjohnson

I'm trying to Imagine Dragons but nothing yet. (A dragon is basically a raccoon, right?) --‏@BillCorbett

Just read a blog that called me a narcissist. It was okay but I wish it would have talked more about me. --‏@donaldmiller

Silly Things

Brunch Time Crunch Time, at Not Always Working

Rejection, at xkcd

Home Is Where the Heartless Is, at Not Always Friendly

Serious Things

The problem is, there are experiences that transcend these categories. Some of the most powerful and meaningful moments in life aren’t rational at all. Like falling in love, or having a kid. Or seeing something happen right before your eyes that can’t be explained by any amount of science or intelligence.
Community vs Big Bang Theory vs SFF : A Dialectical Approach, by DatePalm at io9
If Community is an almost-genre work all about the possibilities of change, TBBT is like its evil counterpart. It's a story about stasis. A show obsessed with the power of habit and inertia, a show about stillness and limitation. It's people sitting on couches together, and being alone. People that have nothing stopping them from reaching out, except that it would require them to be a little braver than they are, a little more insightful, a little kinder. In short, it would require them to change, and TBBT turns that into the hardest thing in the world. 
I Don't Worship God By Singing. I Connect With Him Elsewhere, by Donald Miller at Storyline
Why I Don't Go to Church Very Often, a Follow-Up Blog, by Donald Miller at Storyline
and yet ANOTHER internet controversy!: going to church, by forgedimagination at Defeating the Dragons

Why Modesty Is Wrong, by Dale Fincher at Convergent
Some men do objectify women. Yet instead of challenging this devaluing of women, the Modesty Lifeguards join in with their own brand of objectification. Women are too sexual, meaning they are not persons of value but objects of lust. 
My extroverted roommates come and “kidnap” me when I want to be alone, by JenniferP at Captain Awkward
Right now your roommates are hearing that you want to be alone sometimes and then immediately overriding that with “But yeah, if we go get them, they always hang out and have a good time.“ It sounds like they Geek Social Fallacy carriers - “Everyone does everything together!” – and that you and they have an understanding of “politeness” that means everyone invites everyone else to everything, everyone must hang out with everyone for everything, everyone talks to everyone else for as long as they want and it’s rude to put a stop to any form of interaction or conversation.
The Most Damaging Attitude In Our Churches, by Cara Joyner at Relevant Magazine
When we recognize the dangers of subtle cynicism, we are able to engage in honest conversations that are productive, loving and full of grace.
I didn’t realize it at the time, but by engaging in this argument with Joe, I had already lost. Built into that statement –“it’s not fair for you to go to such an extreme” — is the assumption that Joe knows what ‘reasonable behavior’ is, and that I do not (as demonstrated by my ‘unreasonable’ behavior). By engaging in that argument, I automatically accepted that premise. And the more frustrated I became, the more ‘unreasonable’ I looked.
Is it my anxiety or is my relationship dodgy?, by JenniferP at Captain Awkward
So what if your decision was “irrational?” That doesn’t make it wrong. Breaking up is not a joint decision where one must prove one’s case beyond all doubt to the dumped party. You are allowed to give face-saving reasons. You are allowed to give no reasons beyond “I am breaking up with you.” 

Friday, February 7, 2014

The Quest for Skye: Chapter 28

Recap: Things got crazy last time, guys. Morgan sneaked past The Locked Door to find out that Doctor Leontiou is alive (and possibly dressing up as an old lady in a wheelchair), but he and Malinda somehow both got Super Batten from their experiments. They found a treatment for Batten but all their scientists died in the explosion and all their research was saved on their network so Markus' wife's hacking destroyed that, so nobody can make any more Batten medicine because nobody knows how. It is all ridiculous.
Morgan’s gaze shifted to another room.
There is ANOTHER ROOM behind The Locked Door. Looks like it was keeping the Hamiltons out of like half the clinic.

Morgan goes in. It's another bedroom, with a child-sized desk, so, um... Skye's room? Why does Skye have a bedroom behind The Locked Door? What's wrong with the one in her mansion? Is this where she was sleeping before the Hamiltons showed up?

A bunch of paintings of the pictures Mrs. Scott took on Skye's cruise trip are all over the walls, while another wall just has paintings of Jesus. Morgan confirms that Skye painted them all.
“If you examine them closely, you’ll discover Skye’s initials somewhere on every one.”
What a truly novel idea, to initial your artwork. Skye must have thought of that one all on her own.

In one painting, the initials are in Jesus' eye, because Jesus always has his eye on Skye. Sigh. Why?


Morgan asks why so many pictures of Jesus. Doctor L. L. says he asked Skye the same thing, and she'd always respond, "Oh, because He walks with me and talks with me." Doctor L. L. then casually announces he's a Christian now, and Morgan gets all excited. So then we get the conversion story:
“Much has occurred since then. I never really thought about religion, or really cared, for that matter. It just wasn’t important to me. One day I sat down with Skye, and came right out and asked her about it. Can you believe that an adult asked a ten-old-girl why she believes the way she does? Anyhow, she just said, ‘Father, I wish you could understand. I see a train coming down the track towards millions of people— how can I not warn them that it’s headed directly toward them?’” Unashamedly, tears fell from Skye’s father’s eyes. “Yes, I’m a believer. Skye was thrilled when we prayed together.”
I don't get it.

What changed his mind?

Skye's been praying and painting Jesus for years, and now, suddenly, he asks her this out of the blue. He doesn't bother to explain whether he'd been thinking about it for awhile, or whether her answer somehow startled him into realizing he needed to believe, or anything.

This conversion story is disturbing because it has nothing to do with Jesus. It is ALL about Skye. He goes on to gush about how loving she is and how she tells everybody about Jesus, but the emphasis is ALL on her.

God apparently has absolutely nothing to do with any of it. While the Bible would teach you the Holy Spirit convicts people, J. L. Rothdiener knows the real truth: Skye convicts people. With her bouncy hair and her cute nine-year-old ways.


Morgan asks how much time Doctor L. L. has left, and he says, “Days... Maybe only hours.

Well, DANG. It's a good thing Morgan broke into The Locked Door when he did, because Doctor L. L. might be dead by the end of the day.

OK, and now things start getting more confusing:
“Dr. Hamilton, Skye is dying too! Once that occurs, who knows what will happen? We’re simply buying time.”
I still have no idea why Skye is so freaking important to anyone. I mean, yes, she has superpowers, but I don't think we're supposed to think she has superpowers. So let's see if Doctor L. L. will explain why Skye is so important.
“I had hoped to extend my daughter’s life, and at the same time, save my country.” 
Morgan continued gazing at the pictures Skye had painted. “Your country could collapse economically anyway.”  
“True, but at least we will have tried.”  
“Sad! Does Skye realize the role she has to play in all this?”

*I* don't realize the role Skye has to play in all this, how come Morgan does?

Literally the only thing I can think of that makes Skye a player in this at all is that she was the first one getting the new Batten drugs, so I guess if they ever figure out how to make the new drugs again they'll need a new guinea pig if she's dead. Which is morbid but that's ALL SHE HAS TO DO WITH THIS SO FAR.

This is excruciatingly frustrating. I wish Rothdiener would stop re-explaining things we know already ("GASP, the bracelets monitor the girls' vitals?!") and start explaining what the CRAP is going on with all these conspiracy theories and how the HECK Skye fits into it all.

Tammy suddenly shows up in the room, followed by an apologizing guard. I guess she got tired of waiting in the storage room -- it's not like the Hamiltons are known for their patience or anything -- and just wandered in.

And then we have like a page and a half of this:
“If everyone lived like Skye, the world would be a much better place.”
This chapter has already established Skye is better than God, so can we move past this?

Doctor L. L. then shows them a picture of Skye and her parents chilling with Jesus in heaven. She painted it before she went on the cruise, but in the picture she's wearing the outfit Tammy bought for her, so Doctor L. L. has decided it's a prophecy that means she'll be dead soon and they'll all be in heaven together by the end of the year.
Morgan stepped closer to the wheelchair-bound man. “Skye has been a godsend to us. She has showed us that there are more important things in life than our problems.”
"Which is why I have spent the last several days helping take care of children instead of wandering around a beach, spying on people, sneaking past locked doors, and taunting reporters. CLEARLY I HAVE LEARNED MY LESSON."

However, the Hamiltons quickly reveal they don't really care about anyone but Skye, because after this long speech about giving selflessly to improve others, Morgan says they'll stay at the clinic until Skye dies, but there's no guarantee they'll stick around after that. Doctor L. L. tries to point out that there are other girls here, not just Skye, but Morgan says it'd probably be too emotional for them to stick around.
“I’m still at a loss knowing why you think we’re properly qualified for this. You’re able to obtain the greatest minds in the world to work for you.” 
“You can add much more than anyone else, because you will add heart.”
"I can tell you have heart because you wrote a paper about why we should care about rare childhood diseases. And then only talk about that at the conferences I spontaneously ask you to speak at."
“I’m sorry,” Tammy said. “But heart is something we’re lacking these days. We’re mad at life, and at God, for not allowing us to have a baby.”
Well, that's... honest.

Doctor L. L.'s response is along the lines of, "Well, I'M losing a kid, and I'M not mad at God," which apparently shames the Hamiltons into silence.

Skye and Lance show up in the room, and suddenly Doctor L. L. starts breathing heavily and asks for a moment to say goodbye to Skye, because apparently he's going to conveniently die right now after explaining everything to the Hamiltons. Well, everything except why the heck Skye matters to the Greek economy.

The chapter ends with:
Morgan knew that those left in the Leontiou family needed time alone. Now that everything was public, they no longer had to meet in hiding. 
If all goes well, the next morning the papers will be signed, and Skye will be officially adopted by the Hamiltons. Everything Layland owns will be transferred to Skye and her new mom and dad.
Which begs the question, once more: Why all the secrecy? If they were waiting to transfer Doctor L. L.'s possessions over to the Hamiltons before they told the world they were dying/dead, then why didn't they TELL the Hamiltons what was going on? What were they waiting for? Were they just waiting for them accept the clinic first? Did they think they'd be less likely to accept if they knew the truth?


But on the bright side, I did a calculation the other day and we only have 11 chapters left after this one. Three more months of Skye and we'll have finished.

(Chapter 29.)

Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Movies Last Month: January 2014

Holy cow, guys. I watched 34 new-to-me movies in January. Aside from the 15 movies I watched as part of my 2014 movie challenge, I've also been watching through movies from 2012 and a bunch of movies that I watched just because. So here's a quick recap of what I saw, in order from my favorite to my least favorite. Links lead to my (slightly longer) reviews on my movie blog.

Frozen (2013) - Disney's best non-Pixar movie in fourteen years. A truly magical twist on the classic princess story with much more appropriate and healthy messages for kids and possibly the two best Disney female character of all time.

Beasts of the Southern Wild (2012) - An enchanting fantastical story with one of the most engaging child protagonists ever.

The Grey (2011) - I was completely caught off guard by how poignant I found it. Definitely potential to be a favorite.

Repulsion (1965) - Truly scary psychological horror flick with a slow but effective build.

The Great Gatsby (2013) - In true Baz Luhrmann style, this movie looks unbelievably gorgeous. I could just look at it all day.

He Loves Me... He Loves Me Not (2002) - Revealing too much of the plot would be spoilery, so suffice it to say I really really enjoyed it and you should all go see it.

Do the Right Thing (1989) - Still sitting with this one, as I found it moving in a way I can't articulate.

Video Game High School (2012) - A condensed, movie-length version of a web series, it's very episodic but holds together surprisingly well, and, more important, it's really funny.

Robot & Frank (2012) - Quirky but ever so charming little sci-fi drama.

Silent Movie (1976) - A fun and enjoyable homage to silent movies and slapstick.

Crazy Heart (2006) - A gentle, heartfelt portrayal of a wonderfully layered character.

Choke (2008) - Sam Rockwell is great fun, even if I wasn't terribly satisfied with the ending.

Chronicle (2012) - Not an objectively great movie, but I found myself truly enjoying it.

True Grit (1969) - Despite my dislike for westerns, this one works, largely because of the character of Mattie.

Apollo 13 (1995) - Solid, though it didn't quite live up to the high expectations I had for it.

Dakota Skye (2008) - A creative premise that never quite grips me emotionally.

Monsters University (2013) - Meh. I've come to expect so much more with Pixar. It's a completely unnecessary sequel that does nothing to enhance the original.

Show Me Love (1998) - A cute love story with some nicely realistic characters.

Prometheus (2012) - Took a really long time to get going, though it was super fun once it got there.

Dredd (2012) - An enjoyably artsy thriller.

Bananas (1971) - Though there were several jokes I laughed at, there was a lot in between that I didn't.

Lawless (2012) - I remember enjoying it, but only a few weeks later, I've forgotten most of it.

Crank (2006) - Nice premise, but I get antsy during action movies and this is no exception.

Skyfall (2012) - Mercifully more lighthearted than Casino Royale, but still far too long to keep me interested.

Mud (2012) - Decent script and acting, but completely forgettable.

Send Me No Flowers (1964) - A funny, dark script that falls apart due to all the wrong casting choices.

Midnight Cowboy (1969) - I'm pretty sure there's a meaningful movie in here somewhere, but I couldn't find it.

The People vs. Larry Flint (1996) - The character of Larry Flynt was weirdly uncomfortable for me to watch. Just kind of... squirmy.

The Librarian: Quest for the Spear (2004) - Unfortunately, the acting was not quite campy enough for me to love it as a so-bad-it's-good flick, so it just kinda flounders.

All Dogs Go to Heaven (1989) - A confusing movie that's very dark for kids and very poorly-constructed for adults.

The Cowboys (1972) - I tried so hard to give this movie a shot, but I was just bored the whole time.

Courageous (2011) - This movie isn't even clear on its message, making it not only a bad drama but also a bad message movie.

Snow White and the Huntsman (2012) - The only redeemable thing about this dismal, ugly flick is that a couple of the special effects are kind of cool-looking, in a dismal, ugly way.

Gridiron Gang (2006) - One of the least original sports movies I've ever seen. There's nothing here that's not a cliche.

Phew! That's a very long list. Have you seen any of these? What did you think of them?

Monday, February 3, 2014

Songs I Loved in 2013

I have suddenly realized I never did a "favorite music of 2013" post. So here's a quick playlist of my favorite songs from the year. These were songs I added in 2013 that got a 5-star ranking on iTunes. I didn't listen to as much music as I meant to this year, so the list is pretty short and all of them together are only about an hour.

1. There Are Worse Things I Could Do, by Naya Rivera and Alex Newell from Glee. I kinda-sorta knew this one from Grease already, but I hadn't really paid attention to the lyrics. The Grease episodes of Glee suddenly brought a more poignant feel to the song, and I found myself really gripped by it.

2. Idea Man, by Groovelily. For the first several months of 2013, Groovelily attempted to release a song every week on their YouTube channel, and I loved several of them. This one is a sad, mournful song about realizing that you may have made a huge mistake. As with all this band's songs, I love the honesty and simplicity in the lyrics.

3. Desert With Lights, by Groovelily. Actually, this one may just be credited as Milburn & Vigoda rather than all of Groovelily. Either way, this one fell a little in my list of favorites over the year, but I still really like it. There's a very optimistic, hopeful feel to this song and it just makes me smile to listen to it.

4. Swimming Pools (Drank), by Kendrick Lamar. And now for something totally different and not at all showtune-y. I heard this song on SongPop first, I think, and then started hearing it elsewhere and found myself kind of intrigued by the lyrics. When I looked them up and found out that it was about him dealing with alcoholism, they became even more interesting. It sort of plays around with the glorification of the substance abuse while also portraying it as a real problem. Interesting lyrics, interesting sound... good stuff.

5. Aunt Betty, by Jeff Blumenkrantz. And back to the showtune-y stuff. I don't even remember how I found this song, but I completely love it. It's a funny, sweet song about an unusual character. The vividness of the descriptions, combined with the simple chorus of, "Oh my god, I loved her," feel very real and honest in a way that I just adore.

6. I'm Still Standing, by Elton John. How had I never discovered this song until this year? They even sang it on Glee and I apparently didn't listen to that version ever. I like Elton John, and I love this song now that I know it exists. It's so happy and triumphant... and I'm always a sucker for "heck, yeah, you can't kill me" songs. They are very necessary sometimes.

7. Come What May, by Darren Criss and Chris Colfer from Glee. Glee got it exactly right when they did this cover. They kept the big, sweeping, enormous instrumentations from the movie, so I got the same gorgeous music but got to hear two people whose voices I actually enjoy sing the song. Plus, they won for their visuals, doing a recreation of the dancing-on-clouds images from when Moulin Rouge! did Your Song.

8. Fight the Dragons, from Big Fish. I saw this musical in the spring of last year. I really enjoyed the visuals and the story, but was largely underwhelmed by the score... except for this song, which, fortunately was one of the few released on the promo CD, so I could get a copy of it. My Broadway love Norbert Leo Butz sings it, and it's a delightful song about how he has to go out to metaphorical "fight the dragons and... storm the castles" for his son.

9. Cups, by Anna Kendrick. Her tiny performance of this in Pitch Perfect was maybe my favorite part of the movie, so when she expanded it into a full song and released it as a single, of course I was going to love it! It's so catchy and cheerful.

10. Manhattan, by Sara Bareilles. OH GOSH, how this song broke me. The quiet melancholy of this song is absolutely haunting, the lyrics are beautiful, and her voice conveys this sort of... sad matter-of-fact "Look, I'll just go" expression. It's one of those songs that I have difficulty talking about because it touches me on such a gut level.

11. Chocolate, by The 1975. I don't even know how I first found this song, and I don't understand most of the lyrics (like I don't know what words they're saying, not "they're too deep for me"), but it's super fun to pretend to sing along to, and the song is so bouncy and fun it just makes me smile.

12. Sixteen Tons/Great Big Stuff, by Norbert Leo Butz. Sadly, there's no available YouTube clip for this. It's from the album of Norbert's live 54 Below show. He sings the old country/blues song Sixteen Tons and mashes it up against Great Big Stuff from his show Dirty Rotten Scoundrels. The two work surprisingly well together and make for a really entertaining song.

13. Blurred Lines, by Robin Thicke. OKAY, STOP JUDGING ME. I know it's a terrible, terrible song with awful, awful lyrics, to the point where I'm not going to link to it (also because I'm not sure there's anyone in existence who hasn't heard it yet). But my gosh, is the music fun. Every time I hear it, it somehow puts me in a good mood. And having things that put me in a good mood is a good thing, because sometimes they are hard to find. So it remains on the list.

14. I'll Make Love To You, by Boyz II Men. So somehow I had mostly missed out on this song until this year. Heh. And it makes me happy in the same way that so many boy band songs make me happy - it's SO CHEESY but they sound so sincere that it's hard not to kinda like it.

15. Cups, by Sam Tsui, Kurt Schneider, Alex G and Kina Grannis. Uh, yes, I have two versions of this song on my list. Because I like it. And I love Sam Tsui's voice. And these harmonies are fun.

16. Love on Top, by Beyonce... AKA my obsession song of the whole year. I can't even put into words how much I love this song. It's so incredibly happy, and I love the final series of choruses, where the key changes just keep on coming. The notes just keep soaring higher and higher, and it makes so much sense in this song, which is all about how happy she is... of course that's the way the notes are going to go. Seriously, if I were to pick just one song all year to listen to, it'd be this one.

17. Rap God, by Eminem. I've kind of liked his other new stuff this year too, but this one that one that I really liked. It's got an awesome sound to it, and, of course, his rapping itself is fantastic. Sometimes I can pretend I can rap along with him. I can't.

What were your favorite new discoveries last year?