Wednesday, April 30, 2014

What's Up Wednesday: Recital Week

What's Up Wednesday is a weekly blog hop hosted by Jaime Morrow.

What I'm Reading

I've been assigned The Covenant with Black America by Tavis Smiley for class. It's an engaging read. It's different from other non-fiction works I've read in that it is a proposal for a plan of action, on the individual, local, state, and federal levels. Other non-fiction I've read has mostly been "here is this cool true story" or "did you know these facts?" or "you should do this thing here do it based on my opinion no really it's totally the thing you should just do." The Covenant beats all of them out of the park. (Is that the correct expression?)

I also finished The Year of Shadows by Claire Legrand. I have a soft spot for angry characters, and Olivia's arc was complex and emotional. She was a character I related to on a more personal level than I usually do. 

At one point, she's being taunted by shades who fling insults at her and demand, "Why can't you be nice?" That hit home for me. There's no room in our culture for girls to be allowed to be angry or respond to bad things that happen to them with outrage. We're expected to be benevolent Disney princesses who smile sweetly in the face of suffering, poverty, and personal loss and deny our own pain because pain isn't attractive and anger isn't feminine. Olivia's mom leaves them and her dad loses everything. They're homeless and squatting in the symphony hall. No, she doesn't have to be nice.

To be honest, I expected some kind of sappy, make up with everyone, look all the problems are fixed now type of ending. What happened instead felt so much more honest and compelling.

What I'm writing

This blogpost. Papers for class. I'm supposed to find time to interview a lot of people. I don't know how this will happen. This is basically a full semester's worth of work crammed into a two-and-a-half week term. On top of this, I am taking another class, I have work, I have to volunteer for 25 hours (outside of class), and I'm supposed to practice the cello for my senior recital on Saturday. In Laura terms, I KNOW it's bad when my recital is the thing I'm LEAST worried about. 

What Else I'm Up To

I'm avoiding sleep. My brain does this absurd anti-logic where it thinks, "Maybe if I don't go to sleep, the next morning won't happen."

I also randomly fainted in the bathroom on Friday and had to go to emergency care. I may or may not have had a seizure as well? I remember twitching, and actually lucid dreaming before waking up. But no one came into the bathroom during the 7 minutes I was unconscious (the first thing I did when waking up was check my phone to see the time and call a friend; thank God for cell phones), so there's no way to tell what actually happened.  

My scans were normal, though. The doctors concluded that some combination of sleep deprivation, lack of adequate food that day, and hitting my funny bone on the door (I broke the skin) caused me to black out. It's called a "Vaso-Vagal episode," which basically means "We don't know why you passed out." Luckily, I could feel something was wrong and knelt down before blacking out. At least I did not hit my head.

What Inspires Me Right Now

Captain America: The Winter Soldier. Wow. Great movie. In some places, they play fast and loose with the laws of physics, even with characters who are not super-soldiers. Despite me sitting there muttering "The Falcon's legs should be broken by that fall" and "That pilot would never fly so close to the helicarrier and anyway he might have passed out from all those g's, I should ask my brother if that move is even plausible but I think not," that is my only complaint with the movie.

I made a bet with my mom that she will cry when she sees it. She doesn't think she will. But she cried in Frozen, so I think I'm going to win this one. Also, I already knew the big plot twist/reveal, and I don't think she does. This should be fun. It's like when I watch Game of Thrones with people who don't read the books. Though lately, that show has been surprising book readers and show watchers alike.

In the meantime, I've been making up terrible Frozen lyrics/Winter Soldier mashups with my roommate.

Wednesday, April 23, 2014

What's Up Wednesday: May Term

Well, it's been a while since one of these. I thought I'd ease back into blogging with a What's Up Wednesday, a weekly blog hop hosted by Jaime Morrow.

What I'm Reading

I'm nearing the end of The Year of Shadows by Claire Legrand. I really love this one, and I also loved Ms. Cavendish's Home for Boys and Girls. The Year of Shadows is an MG ghost story, while Ms. Cavendish is MG horror. I have a feeling that Claire Legrand will become a favorite author of mine. Both these books are so good, and so different. What with this and the new Nick and Tesla, I've been reading mostly MG. However, I still have a big TBR pile to get to, which includes a mix of genres and age ranges.

What I'm Writing

Reviews and blog posts! I just reviewed the ARC of Nick and Tesla's Secret Agent Gadget Battle, an MG mystery. I'm also getting ready to jump back into writing Contracted. I was really overwhelmed with spring semester stuff, but now that it's the short May Term, I should have more time on my hands. Well, we'll see... 

What else I'm up to right now

I'm still watching Hemlock Grove. It hasn't gotten better...It's getting worse. Which means that each episode is even more corny, terrible, and so-bad-it's-entertaining. 

I turned 22 (did I mention that?).

I will also be able to work on things for my CP's. At least, this is the theory. In between all this, I am trying to find a job to work during the summer and graduate school. I have a house with two roommates and I've been accepted into the program that I wanted, but I am worried about being able to pay rent, bills, house upkeep, and tuition. Ugh. Things are hard.

In the meantime, I just have to finish my last graduation requirements and do my senior recital for the cello. I have my recital hearing tomorrow. I can't tell you how much I am not looking forward to this. I am a good player, but I am not the strongest performer. I like the music that I have programmed; I just wish I could get an A for learning it without having to actually play it for people and stuff. Ugh again. Things are hard.

What inspires me right now

It's not freezing anymore. That's always good.

Sunday, April 20, 2014

Review: Hemlock Grove, ep. 1 and 2

Hello! I'm back from my blogging hiatus. I've been on a horror kick lately, and most recently, I watched the first two episodes of Netflix's Hemlock Grove. I'm a bit late to this series, but for what it's worth, here's my review.

I have some...issues. 


It's based on a novel, and you can tell. Once the show introduces something that might be interesting or lead to tension and conflict, it snatches it away like a precious plot-gem that it doesn't want you to see. There is way too much exposition and filler. The plot hangs together pretty well, but not much really happens.

Case in point, it should not have taken two whole episodes to find out Main Character is a werewolf. Especially since everyone seems clued into this fact and accepts it as truth -- except the viewers. Then suddenly Rich Boy is asking if he can watch the transformation like it's understood that Poor Kid Main Character is a werewolf. No warning, no lead-up, nothing. The show did spend a lot of time working in hints that Rich Boy is a vampire, such as...

The Sex

Rich Boy vampire gives oral sex to a girl on her period in the bathroom stall of their high school. Yep. That happened.

Missed Opportunity Target Audience

Hemlock Grove has the feel, writing, and characters appropriate to a teen paranormal romance show. The sex, adult characters' storylines, swearing, and other attempts to make it "edgy" and "adult" feel out of place. For the most part, the sex and violence happen offscreen or just out of the shot. It's all pretty tame stuff, giving the flavor of horror without actually showing it -- like you'd expect in a show targeted towards a younger audience. Just enough to make them feel cool for watching more adult content; not enough to tick off their parents. 

So in the few scenes with explicit content, it's like, "Wait, what? Where is this coming from?" It's inconsistent with the feel of the rest of the show. It's like a teen paranormal show that has slasher aspirations but is too scared to go all the way.

Hemlock Grove could have had great success if it had been conceived as paranormal show for teens. "Rich vampire kid teams up with poor werewolf kid to solve a mystery killing in their small town" is classic YA paranormal. Even the casting seems appropriate. Most of the characters are high schoolers with high school problems. The MC's are two hot boys who give each other long, intense looks, have a strange instant connection, and spend a surprising amount of time shirtless or naked. Bringing me to...

Twilight but Without Bella and Edward and Jacob are Bi (Maybe?)

Seriously, this show could not make their relationship more suggestively homoerotic if it tried. Vampire Kid sends Werewolf Kid a note asking, "Can I watch?" He later watches the werewolf transform, completely naked, covered in sweat, moaning and writhing and quite determinedly making intense eye contact with Vampire Kid. By the end, he's covered in blood, which of course Vampire Kid wants more than anything. Stop talking and just make out already.
"Can you hear the fangirls sing?"
The only thing is...I'm not sure whether the show intends for there to be homoerotic subtext or a romance between these two. It is entirely possible that the writers did this by accident. I hope not. I want it to go somewhere. Besides, watching Werewolf Kid pity-flirt with Vampire Kid's disabled sister is just uncomfortable, as is Vampire Kid's incest crush on his cousin. But getting to my last point...

Worst Werewolf Transformation Ever

I mentioned before that this show is not what it says on the tin. Throughout the first two episodes, there was light gore, offscreen or out-of-shot violence, and nothing that really made you want to throw up. Well, except maybe the oral period sex, but that wasn't shown.

But then the werewolf character slowly and painfully rips out of his own skin to transform. His eyeballs pop out. Wolf teeth grow in, pushing out his human ones. His face rips apart as a werewolf snout pushes its way through. When it's finally complete, the wolf shakes off the human skin and blood like a dog that just got out of the water.

And eats it.


You know, I'm not a fan of censorship, but this show gave me NO WARNING that something like that was going to happen. I don't want ratings. I want a "this show has an autocannabalism scene" warning to pop up. Or something. I was NOT prepared to see that and absolutely nothing in the show so far gave me any warning that I should expect that level of gore and JUST FUCKING GROSS LIKE ARE YOU FUCKING KIDDING ME WHYYYYYY.

I guess it makes sense that the werewolf should feed on his own flesh so that he doesn't hunt down humans later in the night. But still, shouldn't he just hunt animals? Like a normal, non-human-eating wolf? Also, there was a MURDER in this town. It's going to look really bad for his mom if the police stumble upon a PILE OF HALF-EATEN HUMAN FLESH AND TEETH in the backyard.

Oh, God. His mom has to clean that up every month. *gag*

Review: Style by Chelsea Cameron

A book I read was good, and I want to share it with you all via a review! :) I'm reading more of Chelsea Cameron's stuff, and this...