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Archive for the 'Musings' Category

Curse you, internet!

So! It’s final assignment time! The semester’s about up, and stress is at an all time high. On the one hand, classwork intensity is reaching an all-time high, while my boss at work bears down with more and more “off the clock” projects for me to work on…my second job gives me no hours though, which for once is a blessing, and this website, my favorite thing, requires my consistent care.

My job, my hobbies, my social life, my grades are hanging in the balance these next few weeks, with little chance of a break from anything. what i need to do is buckle down and do some good old-fashioned work and time management.

Instead, I cannot for any reason stop playing this game (thanks again, armorgames. I personally hold you responsible for all failed classes).

WHY?!

…that is, if not paying attention in class were a crime, this would be insight into the mind of a criminal. As it is, it’s just insight from the mind of Me, Karen, from SayNoToCrack.com. So less a criminal and more a slacker.

And it’s not so much insight either…During class, rather than take notes or pay attention the way ordinary students do, I let my mind frolic off into the recesses of memory, imagination, and sleep-deprived stupidity. And in my hand, I keep a pencil. While other students write their notes, I scribble and doodle and make weird images, and by the time I’m done, I’m not even sure why, what they mean, or how long it took me to draw them.

I have literally filled whole notebooks with this junk. It makes time pass like a charm. A papery, time-passing charm.

So I thought it’d be cool to share with you the drawings that come out of my head on days like these. If you like them, maybe I’ll make a routine thing out of giving them to you now and again. If you hate them…hey…it’s not a video right?

Without further ado, sketches from Karen’s notebook:

“Bunny and Butterfly”
bunny and butterfly
…he knows what he did.

“Lovebirds”
lovebirds

“Nihilist Gastropod”
DOOM

See? I don’t get it either, it’s just what happens when you let your mind wander off into space with paper and pencil. But, flipping through the pages, I think I’m most confused by this one:

HAMOSAUR

I’m not sure why I drew ham and a dinosaur. I don’t think I meant for them to go together as a total image, but that’s how I’ll present them.

And this has been, Into the Sketches of Karen’s Notebook.

Unless that something is this. (by the way,
graphic violence, bad writing).

Litchfield is my home town. If you’ve ever been to the non-big-city portion of the midwest US, you’re probably familiar with the type of city: small, surrounded by farmland, and mainly uninteresting. Litchfield has some perks, though: we’re right on Route 66, we have annual antique car and motorcycle festivals, and we’re right off the interstate: a good stop for a coffee break on your way to somewhere more interesting (Linkin Park once ate at our Denny’s on their way to Peoria. it was a big deal). Also, we have one of the last few old drive-in theatres in the state.

bald_eagle.jpg
check out our l33t bald eagle’s nest

So imagine my surprise when a Google search brings up that monster. The gist of the story is, in the early nineties a man went nuts, murdered his wife, put her head in a bucket of cement (so the story goes) and threw it into our town’s own Lake Lou. And, as the rumor goes, the bucket was never found. Like that lake wasn’t eery enough.

Ever since it’s been a playground horror story, told in whispers and with much uneducated flourish. Sort of a local legend, so I wasn’t too surprised that there was a book…I was surprised that the author was from St. Louis, and even more surprised that he was, apparently, completely drunk while writing it.

I think it’s wrong when such a terrible story is told so badly that I can’t stop laughing about it. There’s only one review of this book on Amazon.com and it’s by one of the people involved in the story, who says basically, the author made up the dialogue completely. He interviewed nobody, made everything up, and, essentially, did everything in his power to make the people of Litchfield sound like total hicks (or at least, for the first few pages in the Amazon preview).

The book opens with the body of the victim being found. With the flourish of a poet, he ends his “colorful” description of the gruesome nature of the situation with this gem (after throwing in some false dialogue): “Like a slap, the rank smell of burning flesh assaulted them.” It assaulted them. Like a slap. Can someone please tell me why that sentence makes me laugh so hard? I can’t stop.

And when most would be at a loss for words to describe the terrible sight, this author comes through for us all: “It was a very nasty piece of business.”

Behold the awesome display of powers of comparison: “this was a scene from Fright Night or some other slasher movie.” C’mon now. Would it have been so hard to look up from writing and ask the next person in the room for another comparison? Like that one movie or….some….other, different movie of the same genre. Right. Brilliant.

What’s funniest, I think, is the fact that in his efforts to make the small town folk seem completely small-town quaint unedumucated, some of the false-hickishness seems to rub off on him, as he actually uses the phrase “drunked-up,” and he wasn’t even fake quoting anybody. Drunked-up? I’d bet my last lonely dollar that that is the first and last time I ever see the phrase “drunked-up” used seriously.

Other fun: he claims Lake Lou is a spot often used for teens’ “necking.” Lake Lou is a hole of mud…we have another, prettier lake across town and the aforementioned drive-in cinema for “necking.” I don’t think people have even “necked” since the 50’s anyway, and certainly nobody necks at Lake Lou. I mean, not even before there was a head in the lake.
On the back cover, he describes Litchfield as “droll.” Droll? Is this man Jane Austen? Droll?? The town’s small…quaint, maybe, but droll?

The moral of this story is, come to Litchfield. Eat at our too many restaurants. Sleep at our too many hotels. Enjoy our rich history of festivals and heads in buckets. Have a…droll time. Droll. Droll?

Droll.

Since my last one was such a darn hit, I thought I’d do another! This time I’ll veer away from the (apparenlty) touchier subjects, however, and attack a totally different genre.

So, this Wicked play. It’s pretty much teh lamezorz, right? Now, I know a lot of people like it, so I won’t say I think it’s musically stunted or lyrically cancerous, or that Kristen Chenoweth and Idina Menzel sound identical in the sountdrack, or that the concept of a “revamped” Oz plot is ridiculous, but I will say, that stowed away in the score is one of the most fantastic jokes I’ve ever heard…

Oh yuck.
The plot and characters are embarrassing, but you won’t hear me say so, no sir.

The song I’ll be breaking down for you today is “For Good.” And I call this song a joke because it’s done something funny: it seems to have convinced everone it is actually contains a positive message.

Let’s break it down:

I’ve heard it said
That people come into our lives for a reason
Bringing something we must learn
And we are led
To those who help us most to grow
If we let them
And we help them in return
Well, I don’t know if I believe that’s true
But I know I’m who I am today
Because I knew you:

Whoooahhhh…snap!! Kristen (or Idina? I can’t tell!) starts off with this lovely philosophy: people come into our lives to help us grow, and become better…but then she throws it out the window by saying, yeah she doesn’t believe that. Idina (or Kristen?) has changed her somehow, but not necessarily by helping her grow.

Like a comet pulled from orbit
As it passes a sun
Like a stream that meets a boulder
Halfway through the wood
Who can say if I’ve been changed for the better?
But because I knew you
I have been changed for good

This, I think, is what loses people. I think that this is what fools everyone, and so I’m not going to go farther into the song than this (thank me later). Let me translate these lyrics (I even tried to set them up so you could sing along!):

Like a really insulting similie, about getting burned
Or another insulting similie, about being broken
I’m not sure I’m made a better person
But, you have changed me
And that change is permanent.

And that’s all! People have, for the duration of this song, forgotten that the phrase “for good” means “forever,” and instead take it to believe that she’s saying Krisdina has changed her for the better…despite the fact that two lines earlier she said she’s not sure if she has been changed for the better at all.

You could sing this song to the shark who bit your arm off and it would be appropriate: he changed your life (I mean, now you have no arm!), and maybe it’s not for the better…but that arm is gone for good.

But the real punchline is, that song was my graduation song. I just sat there, embarrassed for my friends in the choir who were, unknowingly I assume, singing to their friends, their teachers, their school, a song that basically says, you messed me up, and the change is permanent.

Which, in the case of my school, might be true, but still. Not exactly the theme song you want to go out on. Next time you hear this song, think of this. It’s not necessarily a positive song.

Still not as bad as the kids who got “Good Riddance” as their graduation song though. Haha, suckers.

[By the way, if you look up my old Breakin’ it Down article, don’t bother posting before you’ve read all the other comments: I’ve already been told by every atheist to go, girl and by many Christians oh no I didn’t, and by a few Christians to go, girl, and by many people that the article wasn’t funny anyway. There’s not much more ground to cover.]

I made a post in a forum a long time ago about the similarities between Ringers and Trekkies, and have re-created it here, with minor tweaking and an extra tablespoon of love for you guys:

only one will survive…or both, who knows

Hard core Lord of the Rings fans have been given a name in the past several years, since the movies premiered and gained a bigger fan base: Ringers. I guess. In an interview a few years ago on the Tonight Show, Elijah Wood described Ringers as kind of like Trekkies. And at first I thought that was kind of unfair…I mean, it’s fantasy versus sci-fi, a show versus a movie: dangit, that wasn’t just an unfair comparison, it was a…a…and then I thought, wait. Maybe…maybe…he had a point. I mean, when I thought about it:

Star Trek: features a band of people making their way across space, many species from many planets, helped by the occasional Vulcan comrade: a tall, wise, pointy-eared, race of people with cool powers.

LOTR: features a band of mortals making their way across middle-earth, many races from many lands, helped by the occasion Elf comrade: a tall, wise, pointy-eared race of people with cool powers.

Trekkies: Learn and fluently speak imaginary languages (for instance, Klingon)

Ringers: Learn and fluently speak imaginary languages (for instance, Elvish)

Star Trek: features a variety of different races and beings, with different powers and abilities.

LOTR: yeah, that too.

Trekkies: Wait outside theaters for hours, dressing up as their favorite characters for fun.

Ringers: yeah, that too.

Star Trek: has a prime directive.

LOTR: Well, yeah

Trekkies: Can quote their favorite episodes (and the movies) line for line, and can name even the minorest of characters.

Ringers: Can quote the movies line for line and can name even the obscurest of characters (where WAS Gil-Galad? I know.)

LOTR: one of the worst enemies used an unnatural means for creating a race of mindless killing machines (uruk-hai)

Star Trek: one of the worst enemies used unnatural means to create mindless assimilating machines (the Borg).

LOTR: Every once in a while a race of immortal beings with extraordinary powers will step in and help (or sometimes confuse and irritate) the people, all for the progressing of the greater good of everything (Istari, wizards).

Star Trek: Remember Q?

At this point I had to stop, as my world was ready to cave in all around me. Up was down, black was white, the world ceased to make sense! Of course, it did help when I came down off the three bags of fruit leathers and got out of the washing machine, but still! Dang!

there are four lights!
there are four lights!

I guess we fanatics, we’re really not so different after all. Maybe one day we can live in peace: the Ringers, the Trekkies, the Star Wars fans, the Bean stalkers, the Bruce Campbell fans…

Mmmm…perfect world. Except those darn Fanilows. Seriously, who cares what they think.

Breakin’ it down

Good times, good times. Finals are over, and summer has begun. And, aside from the untimely death of my fish, Gill-Galad, and the purchasing of his (somewhat ugly) replacement, Monet, it’s been a pretty good beginning. My last day of work at my thrift store job is Saturday, and my first day of work at the factory for summer money begins in a week.

I’ll miss that job, but I won’t miss the music. My manager only let me play the local Christian radio station, despite my attempts to bring in other, equally appropriate, but better, music (like, classical stuff, ABBA (shut up, they’re wonderful), They Might Be Giants, Josh Groban….) but no. She’d catch me, and turn it back to CONTEMPORARY CHRISTIAN MUSIC SAFE FOR THE WHOLE FAMILY ALL DAY LONG.

Now, far be it from me to rag too hard on Christian music…but nowadays, the artists seem to have realized that it’s not that hard a job. Christian music fans will accept anything that has the name Jesus, the word “holy” or a reference to church in it, even if it is unoriginal, sounds bad, or is a grammatical nightmare (I once heard a song that used the phrase “you saved myself from me” just so it could rhyme “me” with “street.” Come on!) Frankly, Christian artists seem to have stopped trying, and it’s not like their fans have given them a reason not to.

There is one song in particular that played at least three times an hour…probably the worst Christian song I’ve ever heard, and I don’t mean worst song that is Christian, I mean worst song that can ever claim to have Christian foundations. Seriously. It’s called “Wherever We Go,” and it’s by a group called the Newsboys (so Google tells me), and they’ve pretty much given up on trying to be anything like any good, if this song serves as their talent compass.

I’d post the song if I could find it, but here are the lyrics, just to give you a taste…

Wherever we go, the bluebirds sing
And the flowers bloom
And the grass gets green
It’s a curious thing
But it’s just our thing

Okay, okay, let me stop them there for a moment. Are the Newsboys Persephone?

Wherever we go, the bees behave
In the treetops, squirrels smile and wave
It’s a curious thing
And it’s humbling

Wait, wait, what? What? They just spent two stanzas totally bragging on how magical their powers of arrival are, and that makes them humble? Do they know the definition of the word humble? Newsboys: “humble” is not a synonym for “huge ego trip.”

I think they got so lost in how wonderful they are, they forgot they’re supposed to be a Christian band, and had to throw in the humbling bit so they didn’t blow their cover. But then, they kept singing….

[bridge]
Where we go, little glow-worms glow
Little roadrunners run ahead
Gonna tell their friends
Little mice, little men
Get ’em all excited
All invited

[chorus]

HANDS UP
HOLLER BACK HERE
LET’S THROW THIS PARTY IN GEAR
WE BROUGHT THE WELCOME MAT
WHEREVER WE GO, THAT’S WHERE THE PARTY’S AT

Hokay, hokay, wait, wait, wait. Holler back? Holler back. Seriously? Well, you heard the boys, holler back! And holler back here, because, apparently, this party is in an inappropriate gear, and needs to be thrown into the correct one!

holla back
holla’ back

They’ve brought the welcome mat! As you already undoubtedly know, a real party must have a welcome mat. If only I could count the times I’ve arrived at a friend’s house for a party, found there to be no welcome mat, and simply turned and walked away. Psh.

Also, before I continue, take care to notice the humbled tone of the lyrics.

HANDS UP
HOLLER BACK NOW
WE DON’T CLAIM ANY KNOW-HOW
WE’RE GIVING GOD ALL THAT
WHEREVER WE GO, THAT’S WHERE THE PARTY’S AT

There they go again! You must not have hollered back sufficiently, because they demand it again, and this time, they mean now, not just here. They require a holler back both here, and now. They are unsatisfied with less than immediate holler back gratification. Also, I love the “we’re giving God all that,” as if this one line (and it is the only line in the whole song with any reference to any deity outside their own miraculous selves, I might mention) made up for the fact that this whole song is just stroke, stroke, strokin’ away at that enormous ego they’re sportin’. I’m pretty sure it’s canceled out by the next line “wherever we go, that’s where the party’s at.” Where its AT, folks! AT! Not is, no sir! They be too marvelous for that! At!

And they claim no know-how! They just work their miracles and have no clue how. They’re just that amazing.

I’ll spare you the rest, but it’s about a million more verses in which “dumb get wise,” “bullies make nice,” and–get this “the ozone layer shows improvement.” I can’t even make this stuff up! These people are educators, councilors, and environmentalists…just by showing up! Oh, but right…they’re giving God “all that.” What ever “all that” is. Perhaps “all that” is located with them, where the party’s at.

And the thing is, people listen to this stuff all day long, then come to me and tell me that the Yin-Yang image on a pillow we were selling is a demonic symbol. I’m just saying the Newsboys seem to be on the verge of founding a religion all about themselves, and are luring innocent radio-listeners into their pseudo-Christian trap, and meanwhile the unsuspecting victims are busy not being able to difference between a pentagram and a yin-yang. We are assuredly doomed.

Special thanks to Sing365 for the lyric look-up.

Holla’ back.

Stuff. On cats.

stuff on a cat

I was talking to a friend of mine the other day, about the internet, and about websites.
“You know,” she said, “I ought to make a website about–”

And here I interrupted her, because I am a total jerk. “You know,” said I, “you might as well not. I promise, whatever website you’re thinking of, already exists.”

“No,” said she, “Mine would be–”

“–The exact same as another website,” I repeated. “You underestimate the internet. There’s a website for literally everything. Everything.”

Everything, I said, though I didn’t honestly believe it in my heart, not fully. But, one crazy boring evening and a random Google search later, Stuff On My Cat reared its head. It’s just a collection of pictures of…stuff, sitting on top of cats. And I knew then that my prideful claim had been painfully, terrifyingly correct.

This, my friends, is the the beginning of the end of the internet. I mean, once you’ve reached stuff on cats (it’s just stuff on cats, people!! STUFF on CATS), you really don’t have that much farther to go. I mean…stuff on cats?!

Stuff. On cats. I’m going to go outside and remind myself what the sun looks like. I hear there’s fresh air out there…

First Date Horror Story?

Have any first date horror stories? A dinner that ended with a pre-planned pickled pig’s foot scavenger hunt around town? A guy who picked you up on his bicycle for a date that was 20 miles away? A blind date that turned out to be a poorly disguised Barbados Blackbelly Sheep?

First Date

My worst first date started out quite normal: we went to a party, chatted with friends, had some drinks, etc. The problem is that the etc. part included a broad range of activities such as “having some more drinks” and “drinking once again”. Pretty normal college first date, until …

The next morning at daybreak I was woken, fully clothed on a crisply made bed, in a strange room by a smelly white kitten sitting on my chin and licking my face. The room was covered with … let’s just say leftovers … of the prior evening’s dinner, which a crazed squirrel (a window had been propped open) and the kitten were now voraciously cleaning up. Thankfully they were expert carpet cleaners, so we were able to escape at about the same time as the squirrel.

This strange room was almost 50 miles from where we needed to be, which made for a rather uncomfortable car ride. Somehow along that 50 mile stretch it also turned out to be the best ending to a date ever. 11 years later we’re still laughing at the circumstances (and small critters) that helped bring us together. 😉

Cartoon via Mordant Orange (thanks clangnuts!)

Right now my son is two years old, so birthday parties have been simple so far. In January we invited his friends over for pizza, hung up a sign, and two months later he still talks like it was the best day of his life. Birthdays will always be this easy, right?

Alright, back to reality. I’m thinking we can slide through his third birthday, but one of us will end up having a conversation something like this about two weeks before his fourth:

J: Mommy, Carter had a bouncy castle at his party, I want one too!
A: I’m not spending that much money unless it’s educational. No bouncy castles.

J: What about a horse? Ashley had a horse at her party, can I have a horse?
A: Honey, your birthday is in January. If you agree to help pick up the poop in the snow, I can borrow a horse for a day from someone at work. Sound fun?

J: No poopies Mommy! Everyone else has a bouncy castle or something fun, I NEED A BOUNCY CASTLE!
A: Well, why don’t we compromise. I could get you something else that’s inflatable, but educational too. Sound good?

J: YAY! A bouncy castle!
A: No, I was thinking something more like this giant inflatable colon:

Giant Inflatable Super Colon

After showing him the picture, he’d immediately surrender and say something like “No, that’s alright, how about we just watch movies and eat pizza at home.”

Parents – think my plan would work, or should I just pre-order that bouncy castle now?

Pic via Neatorama.

The Yama Yama Man

Yama Yama Man Say No to Crack

I found this old cassette (does anyone still remember cassettes? 8-tracks? Vinyl records? 45’s? 78’s?) in my garage. It was barely playable, especially because I don’t have a cassette player anymore. I think it might be a bootleg recording because both sides had this same song:

Over and over and over. And over. Nevertheless, I think that Anita did a good vocal on the song, even though I have no idea what the song is about. YOU ROCK, BATH GIRL! (I just know she’s gonna smack me for this one.)

The actual recording posted here was of Ada Jones and the Victor Light Orchestra. AJ was a hottie in her day, unlike Mr. Victor. There are several more downloadable songs from the early 1900’s available for free at foldedspace. These are recordings that made your great-grandmother get all jumpy-and-jivey, until your great-grampa told her to hush up and sit down and, “Don’t make a spectacle out of yourself. What’s for supper?”

Understand that these recordings were MECHANICAL recordings. No electricity, all vibration, which meant that the singers and musicians had to play LOUDLY. The Victorolas that the slate discs were played on operated by vibrations also, and there was no volume control except to close the “speaker” cabinet. And the Victor Light Orchestra was the house band for what would become RCA Victor Records. Yep. THAT RCA.

You can create your own virtual cassettes here.

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