Wednesday, August 27, 2014

55 Favorite Songs From Musicals #2: According to Plan

Today is my sister's first day of orchestra, so wish her luck!! She plays violin, and the song they're working on is something from a ballet by Schubert. Rosamunde, I think.
Ahem. XD
According to Plan is the opening number from Corpse Bride, and while it does have a good tune, interesting lyrics and all that, I think that a stronger opening number would be one that doesn't focus on the horrible parents. It does a good job establishing the setting of the story, but the people singing are not that pleasant.
That having been said, According to Plan is really fun to sing, and that's why it gets on the list. I know that the animation is a little strange, but I really like the look and feel of stop motion animation, and I think it looks really good in this movie.

It's a beautiful day! / It's a rather nice day.
A day for a glorious wedding!/  A rehearsal my dear, to be perfectly clear
A rehearsal for a glorious wedding!
Assuming nothing happens that we don't really know/ That nothing unexpected interferes with the show!
And that's why everything, every last little thing, every single tiny microscopic little thing must go according to plan!

Monday, August 25, 2014

55 Favorite Songs from Musicals #1: The ABC Cafe / Red And Black

I wanted to start this puppy up now, before my college classes (!!!!) start, because when they do I won't have much free time to write posts. XD
What a song to kick off the thing! Just a quick note. The songs in this little series are listed in alphabetical order, so they're not in order how much I like them. That would be way too hard for me to organize, since my favorite probably changes daily!

Anyhoo, this song is a number from Les Miserables (you'll be seeing a lot of that), and it's a scene where Marius goes to a meeting of the neighborhood revolutionary group, The Friends of the ABC. The leader, Enjolras is trying keep the focus on the upcoming Revolutionary Funtimes, but Marius keeps shifting the spotlight to his recently formed Love Life. I think that when played right, this song is both humorous and rather inspiring, and certainly one of the highlights.

It is time for us all to decide who we are
Do we fight for the right to a night at the opera, now?
Have you asked of yourself, what's the price you might pay?
Is this simply a game for rich, young boys to play?
The colors of the world are changing day by day.
Red! The blood of angry men!
Black! The dark of ages past!
Red! A world about to dawn!
Black! The night that ends at last!

Sunday, August 24, 2014

Chibi Illustrations Jane Austen Books

I was thinking that if I was able to draw realistic looking figures, I would draw illustrations for books. Then I figured I would just render my ideas in chibi form for fun. And well, I liked the way some of these turned out so I decided to post them. :)
Might do more of them as ideas come, but for now please enjoy Jane Austen illustrations.
I'm not sure about that squirrel. On one hand, detail! On the other hand... it doesn't look that great. That's why it's not colored in. XD


Unfortunately, I couldn't think of anything for Sense and Sensibility, but when I think of something I'll add it to the post. :)

Friday, August 22, 2014

The Brothers Karamazov Chibis

Enjoy this little cast sheet for everyone's favorite 900+ page existential* Russian novel, The Brothers Karamazov!
I'm only 342 pages into the book (if I had stuck to my schedule, I'd be 500 pages in, but I got lazy.), but I'm enjoying it a lot (except for that one chapter...) and when I really like a book or movie, I want to draw chibis of the characters. :)

Alexei 'Alyosha' Karamazov: The pure-hearted, 20 year old novice at the local monastery. Alyosha is a sweet character, even if he is a little too perfect maybe (I'm less than halfway through though, and he seems to be developing at bit). I drew him in his cassock, but I don't know if he's going to go through with the holy orders. Elder Zosima told him that maybe he was called to live outside the monastery, so I don't know where that plot thread is going...
Fyodor Karamazov: The drunken, deadbeat father. I guess I kind of exaggerated the whole ugly thing, but in all fairness, his description in the book isn't much better.
Ivan Karamazov: Whew. Enjolras, hand over your medal for Nuttiest Fictional Character and clear the way for Ivan Karamazov! Ahem, spoilers. Ivan is a rather interesting character. He's the second-oldest son, and an atheist intellectual. However, his philosophy is a little (okay, a lot) more complicated than that. I really wonder where his characters is going to go from here!
Dmitry Karamazov: The eldest Karamazov brother. I guess Dmitry takes after his dad a bit in the ways of drinking and being kind of a loser. Dmitry is relatively sympathetic, but I have to confess that I have a tendency to forget things that happened 100 pages ago, so I can't quite remember if I like Dmitry or not. :P
Lise: Let me just pause a sec to make a public apology for that poorly drawn wheel-chair. [shudders] Anyhoo, Lise is a teenage girl who likes to tease Alyosha. She actually wrote a dopey love letter to him just to play a silly prank and see what would happen. Except that Alyosha actually said that if he doesn't join the monastery he'd be happy to marry her. Because Lise is just that kind of girl, she takes it in stride and doesn't seem to care that her practical joke is now near reality.
Katerina: Dmitry's fiancée. But Ivan may or may not also be in love with her. Curse you bad memory! I drew her with kind of a mean face, but Katerina's not actually that bad. She's hot headed and likes to be a control freak, but she's pretty decent. And I like how her little babushka came out. :D
Elder Zosima: Elder Zosima is kind of like Bishop Myriel from Les Miserables, in that he's the saintly Religious man who's probably going to die. Poor guy, I like him!
Smerdyakov [Is he a Karamazov?] : If your name is Smerdyakov, aren't you legally obliged to be a sinister illegitimate child?
Grushenka: Ah yes, the beautiful and seductive temptress... Grushenka. Maybe it's just me, but that name more screams out 'old lady at your average Byzantine Catholic parish'. Anyway, I don't know where Grushenka's character is going (in fact, I probably should have waited to post these until after I finish the book!), but I put her down here all alone so that she doesn't tempt anyone away from their fiancées. Hear that, Dmitri?!

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Cuz' It's a Mu-si-caaaal!

Sorry for the random reference in the title, I grew up watching Veggie Tales.
Well, Veggie Tales and Mystery Science Theater 3000, which explains a lot about me. XD
I've been on kind of a Musical buzz lately (aka, most of this year. Help.), and I suppose that I just like musicals. Don't get me wrong, there are things that I hate about the genre. Like song and dance numbers that just keep going. And going. And going and going and going. And really, some (read: a lot) of musicals are just cheesy in a not so good way. They also have a tendency to be about rather unsavory subjects and get really steamy.
But I also find it very appealing, because of the way stories can be told. I like a good story that's told through music, and it's easier to explore the inner thoughts of the characters than if there was regular dialogue. So while I wouldn't call myself a die-hard theatre fan, there are a lot of musicals that I really like.
It's a very versatile genre, and you have plays ranging from light-hearted and comedic (Aladdin) to dark and dramatic (A Tale of Two Cities). And of course, there's also room for irritating nonsense, like Cats. Or Chicago. Sorry, I've got... issues with Chicago. [eye twitch]
Anyway, I thought that it would be fun* to do kind of a blog series on various songs from musicals that I like. I've got 55 of my favorite songs summed up, and I think that I'll post them on Mondays and maybe on Wednesday too. :) That'll take a little while to get through, and should be a lot of fun! It'll give me a vent for my random thoughts that I have to put somewhere, anyways. XD
Stay Frosty, my friends.

* "I thought it would be fun to..." It just occurred to me that that is a sentence that begins a lot of cautionary tales. XD

Sunday, August 17, 2014

Something for Sunday

For the feast of the Assumption of the Virgin Mary, we watched a short little documentary about the life of Mary (anybody else watch Footprints of God? No? Just us? Okay.), and they showed a lot of religious art and there was one painting that really caught my eye.
The Virgin of the Grapes by Pierre Mignard (1640-50)
This lovely painting struck me as different because of the very relaxed atmosphere. Now, a lot of Madonna and Child Jesus paintings are of the more solemn nature. Very majestic, and something more than just a 'snapshot'. Icons are a style of panting where many layers are shown. Like this icon of the Resurrection, for example.

There's a lot going on here, it's quite beautiful and detailed.
For starters, in the middle is Jesus, newly risen from the dead on Easter Morning. Then surrounding him are Prophets, and you can also see St. John the Baptist to the right of Jesus. The two people that Jesus is raising out of the tombs are Adam and Eve, and that symbolizes that the gates of Heaven have opened and the souls of the faithful departed can now enter. And now on the bottom, under Jesus' feet lies an old man in shackles. It's been a while since the icon was explained to me, but I recall that that man is death, and it represents that by dying on the Cross, Jesus has trampled death and granted eternal life to those in the tomb, and us.

Now, the painting above, the Virgin of the Grapes is a much simpler kind of painting. Mary and the Child Jesus are sitting down and seem to be enjoying some Grapes. The Child Jesus is playfully peeking out from under His Mother's veil, and Mary looks on tenderly. It's a style of Religious Art that you don't see too often, and there's certainly room for both this and the more solemn variety.

Stay Frosty, my friends, and have a lovely Sunday. :)

Friday, August 15, 2014

Storage Room: Whipped Cream

Creative titles aren't my forte.

This actually almost happened in real life. Mom got home from the store, and I thought I saw a can of whipped cream, that was actually shaving cream. I didn't eat any, though. :)

Thursday, August 14, 2014

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy [1905]

They seek him here, they seek him there,
Those Frenchies seek him everywhere!
Is he in heaven, is he in hell?
That demmed elusive Pimpernel!

Sometimes, You've just got to read a fun book. I think that's how I could classify this book. Don't get me wrong, it's not frivolous or shallow. But it's not particularly concerned with the how's or why's, and just gets right down to business. TSP is kind of a simplistic book, in that the good guys are the good guys and the bad guys are the bad guys. I usually don't like that kind of thing, especially when the villain is constantly rubbing his hands together and laughing evilly. But I didn't mind it too much here, because it fit just fine with the overall tone of the book.
I also thought that for the 'cleverest woman in Europe', Marguerite was a little dense. But in all fairness, if I was married to this poof, I wouldn't suspect a thing either.
And now, for the fangirly gushing.
First off, this books is very fast paced and holds your attention. At least, it held mine. Your mileage may vary!
The book is short, and it shouldn't take that long to read. Unless you're reading it on your laptop's kindle app, and that hurts your eyeses, precious.
Sir Percy is (you could see this coming, yeah? ;) a really cool character, and I always found myself cracking up when he was talking in his slurred fop voice. Ahem. He's a very admirable character (though I wonder what gave him the idea to go off saving people from the guillotine!), and just the kind of hero that is getting hard to find. He's gallant, has a great sense of humor, and doesn't expect anything in return for what he does.  Oh, and he dresses well. ;)
Now, I know I kind of dissed Marguerite up there, but she's actually fine. You know, aside from the whole cleverest woman in Europe thing. I admire her determination, and she's very romantic at heart, but not in a silly or sappy way.
I love the finale of this book. It's very exciting, and I like the little twists thrown in!

The Verdict: A-
I hear that there are a lot of sequels to this book (and that they're actually pretty good), so I might just see if I can acquire one of them and give it a read, because this book left me quite hungry for more of their adventures! :D

Oh, and here are The Scarlet Pimpernel chibis.
Hope you like them! And um, any resemblance between Sir Andrew and Timothy from my silly comics is completely coincidental. There are only so many hair dos I can think of. XD

Wednesday, August 13, 2014

Some Storage Room Randomocity

I'm conceptualizing some comics that involve time travel (need to work on the origins of Rene's uncle XD), and so that's why I drew some of the gang when they were lil' kids.

Timmy: He's wearing a Creeper T-Shirt, because I'm on a Minecraft buzz. Not sure I got the mouth quite right...
Alexander: Looks exactly the same. :P
Rene: Just because he's towing a blanket and sucking his thumb (Chibis have thumbs?) does not mean I'm stealing ideas from Peanuts.

Mireille: Do you like the pink heart coveralls? XD
Shelly: It's been my experience that little girls like to wear their hair in pigtails.
Frankie: I think that it's quite clear that I don't know how three year old boys dress. :P

Sorry these guys are inked in so messily! My hand was all tremble-y that day, and I was having a hard time holding the pen straight.

Monday, August 11, 2014

A Tale of Two Cities: International Studio Cast Recording [2008]

I can't recall a night so clear. The Heavens seem an inch away and not unfriendly after all.
If life was ever quite this sweet, I can't recall.

-Sydney, Act I: I Can't Recall

You wouldn't believe the little internal happy-dance I did in my brain when I heard of this. I had rather high expectations for this, and for the most part it was quite satisfactory! The music was good, with several highlights that are great. The characters were portrayed more or less accurate to the book, and they didn't butcher the ending! The only thing that kind of disappointed me was that Madame Defarge and Miss Pross didn't get a Confrontation style song during their little clash at the end. Oh well. Would have been weird anyway. ;D
Speaking of the Confrontation, this musical sometimes seems to be trying to be Les Miserables. I mean, I really like this musical, but you've got to admit that they were sometimes copying. The most glaring is the Act I finale 'Until Tomorrow', and there's a little bit of influence here and there. The only instance that bugs me is the number No Honest Way, which takes place in a bar and seems to be aspiring towards that Master of the House feel. Then again, Gaston is a musical number that took place in a bar (a villain song too, no less) and that doesn't bug me.
I was a little annoyed at first, because Charles isn't actually in this that much. He's in about four songs and that's it. But I got to thinking; A Tale of Two Cities is about both Charles and Sydney, but Sydney is the character who changes and grows more through the story. Charles is good, but he doesn't really grow as a character, he doesn't need too. He's already a pretty good person, and he has a whole life with his wife and family ahead of him. It makes sense for the musical to focus on Sydney more. He's a dynamic character, and in musicals, character changes are expressed through song, which makes it easier for the musical to focus on him.
Anyways, I hope you're in the mood for a long post, because I'm in a ranting mood today!

1. Prologue: The Shadows of the Night
Wow, the orchestra is beating us up! So far as opening overtures go, this isn't the best I've heard. It's pretty much the orchestra hitting you over the head with some loud notes. Then the rest of the song is a quick little verse sung by Alexandre Manette about how he's going to write down his tale before he loses his mind in the Bastille. Does make for an intriguing start of the show, though!
2. The Way It Ought To Be (Paris)
Now this, this is a much better opening. The orchestra hits at the beginning of this song actually carry a good tune, and it sounds very cool. I think that it does a good job of establishing the time, and the lyrics really carry the mentality of the time. At least, I think so. I obviously wasn't there during the French Revolution, so maybe don't take my word for it. ;)
3. Who Are You? / You'll Never Be Alone
A duet between Lucie and her rather traumatized father, Alexandre Manette. It's a sweet song, but it feels a little over-long. I really like the tune, though.
4. The Way It Ought To Be (London)
Even the instrumentals sound London-y! I apologize for being a book-purist, but Sydney is way too chipper in this song. In the book, he wasn't so extremely proud of being a drunken loser. I mean yeah, he's drunk, but Sydney's more of a depressive drunk than a cheerful drunk. That having been said, this song is pretty funny. :D
5. No Honest Way
I don't know why they felt like a big chorus number right here. The Way It Ought To Be (London) establishes the setting, and the next song is a big, slightly humorous, chorus number. Well, this song is kind of funny, and the tune is fun! I have to give it some credit there. I'm still a little bugged by Sydney's strange chipperness. This musical is trying to imply that Lucie alerted him to his sluggish, drunken ways. Uh, no. Maybe I need to read the book again (Don't mind if I do!) but I don't think that's how it worked.
6. The Trial
Hee hee, I like this song. It's delightfully morbid (in a black humor kind of way), and the refrain is catchy!
7. Reflection
On My Own from Les Miserables and Lonely Room from Oklahoma! Together at last. Well, not quite as creepy and obsessive as Lonely Room. But along the same lines. Still a little creepy though.  In this song, Sydney talks to himself and wonders in song form why he rescued Charles back at the trial. Then he goes on to wonder what it would be like if Lucie loved him, it's very depressing, but the tune and orchestrations are belissima. (did I spell that right?)
8. Letter From Uncle
“Mwhahaha, I'm evil! I run over lil' kids with my carriage of doom and despair! Mwha. Ha. Ha.”
9. The Promise
This song is where Charles makes two rather important revelations to Monsieur Manette. First off, Charles is in love with Manette's daughter. Secondly (as if that weren't bad enough!), he starts to reveal something important to the plot, but Monsieur Manette gets distressed and cuts him off. I like how Charles asks Lucie's father's permission before he starts to court her, it's very gallant of him. :)
10. I Can't Recall
Of Sydney's many, many, many solos (he gets three!), this is my favorite. It's also the most depressing in hindsight, but c'est la vie. The instrumentals are gorgeous (that's how you get Monica hooked on a song. Have a pretty intro.), the tune is gorgeous, and the actor's voice- well, I wouldn't call it gorgeous, but it's a good sounding voice for Sydney. This is actually one of the more cheerful songs of the musical (lyrics wise), but it always makes me a little sad. Here Sydney sings about how tomorrow's at his feet, and how he's going to improve his life- all because Lucie showed him some kindness. Of course, things don't go like that. Saaaad...
11. Resurrection Man
Gah, a comedy number. That came out of nowhere. I don't know if this musical keeps in the whole Barsad/Cly-Death-Faking business, but if it doesn't, then this song is totally pointless. I mean, I have nothing against comedy numbers (High Adventure, anyone?), but they should at least serve the plot a little bit.
12. Now At Last
Charles and Lucie's mandatory love duet. But aside from being very sweet and heartwarming, this song is also kind of funny! And I really like it when love duets have the couple singing one line after the other, not sure how to explain it, but it's always fun to listen to. :)
13. The Wedding / If Dreams Came True
Aww, this is so sweet. And I mean that in the best possible way. I mean, I'm so caught up with all the cute marriage stuff that it kind of lets the air out of my tank when Sydney comes in to sing about how depressing he is. But the lyrics are so cool, they almost completely match up with this part from the book, so... yay! Still. I love you Sydney, but this is one of the few happy songs so... stay out. XD
14. Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Let it be known that this song has one of the coolest opening instrumentals ever! Ahem. Basically what's going on is that a little boy was killed by some careless aristocrat's carriage, and Madame Defarge is trying to convince the little boy's father to go and kill the aristocrat. Who's Charles' uncle. It's a little- okay, REALLY- dark, especially when you take into consideration that the last song was all chipper and wedding-y. The vocals in this song are a-m-a-z-i-n-g, and the acting is really good.
15. Little One
I saw the title of this one, and thought it was going to be really saccharine. Heh heh... no. Actually really sad. The first part of this song is Little Lucie saying her bedtime prayers, and then Sydney starts singing (wikipedia says that Charles and Lucie convinced him to go and tuck their kid in. Lazy parents! :D). Then it transitions to France where they're having a funeral for that little boy who died. It's really, really sad. And the chorus sounds so cool.
16. Until Tomorrow
Ooof. The title of this song makes it sound like the Walmart brand version of One Day More. But in all seriousness, this song is pretty cool. I mean, the Revolution in Two Cities is way darker and more violent than the Revolution in Les Miserables, so it's very interesting to hear the ways that it's similar and different at the same time. Ernest Defarge's actor has such a nice sounding voice, and his accent is so American it makes me smile. :D
17. Everything Stays The Same
This song... wow, this song. Best Act II opener I've ever heard. Let's see, what do I like about this number... (1) The eerie waltz-tempo (2) The chorus chanting “Libery! Equality! Fraternity! Or Death!” (3) The way they incorporated the novel's opening lines into the song and it didn't feel too shoehorned in (4) The 'What happened to tomorrow?' verse (5) The guillotine sound at the end... this song does an amazing job of establishing the Reign of Terror.
18. The Tale
Okay, this song has a little bit of inappropriate content (not the musical's fault, it was in the book too), but it's handled well. This is the drama bomb of A Tale of Two Cities (every story has a drama bomb. Like the siege of Gondor in LOTR, and The Final Battle in Les Miserables.), and sometimes the music is a little overdramatic. It's not that bad- it certainly sounds cool-, but Madame Defarge sounds like she could totally be on American Idol. And the dying guy in the flashback sequence sounds like he is totally not dying.
19. If Dreams Came True (Reprise)
This one's pretty sad. The bit with Sydney at the beginning seems a little pointless, seeing as there's another moment almost exactly like it a few tracks from now. But the Charles verse is very nice. Well, nice as in, we like the lyrics. The actual subject matter is pretty sad.
20. Without A Word
So in this song, Lucie is (understandably) a little cheesed off with Charles for skipping off to France and getting himself sentenced to death by height-adjustment. My sister prefers the alternate song for this scene (Never Say Goodbye), but I actually think that this song (while it's maybe a little harsh) adds an interesting dimension to the whole Charles/Lucie romance, and acting in this song is pretty good too!
21. The Bluff
Heh heh, this one's actually kind of funny, all things considered. This is where Sydney goes to Barsad and blackmails him into letting him visit Charles in prison. So of course, Sydney can drug Charles and swap places with him. Oh. Um, spoilers? XD
22. Let Her Be A Child
Bring Him Home, anyone? :D In all seriousness, this song kind of maybe sort of made me teary eyed. I mean, there's Lucie jr. singing her bedtime prayers, and then Sydney starts singing along, and yeah... I'm kind of pathetic.
23. The Letter

So, Sydney swaps places with Charles, and he writes a quick note to Lucie. And um, he sings it. Cuz' it's a musical, and we even sing letters!
24. Defarge Goodbye

Monseiur Defarge mourning his wife. They could have used this time to make that Lady-Confrontation, but... yeah. This is good too, I guess.
25. Finale

All together now. One! Two! Three! NOOOOOOOOOOOO!!!!
Ahem. So far as finales go, this is pretty good! The seamstress, the guillotine noises, the instruments, the I Can't Recall reprise, the mandatory saying of certain final words... [content sigh]. It's great.
26. Never Say Goodbye (Bonus Track)

Haha! Not letting you go yet! This is the solo Lucie sang in a concert version, and they stuck it on as a bonus track, which is nice. The lyrics are a little on the 'okay' side. I mean, I'm sure there's nothing wrong with them, but they don't carry the emotional punch that Without A Word does. The tune on the other hand is so lovely! I can't decided which solo I like better! :)

The Verdict: A
Granted, this musical isn't without it's flaws. There are a few songs that aren't that great (No Honest Way and Resurrection Man), and sometimes it feels like the makers were ripping off Les Miserables. Also, Charles doesn't get his own song, which is lame, seeing as he's one of the main characters! But aside from that, this musical is terrific. It's got great atmosphere, and manages to keep the spirit of the book. And this CD has a lot of really good performances on it.

Favorite Song: Out of Sight, Out of Mind
Runners Up: I Can't Recall, Everything Stays The Same, and Little One.

Saturday, August 9, 2014

Storage Room: Alex Goes to Logic Class (sort of)

Those blue stripes on his shirt are supposed to be backpack straps, just in case they look like random blue stripes. ;)
Okay, so this comic is seriously clichéd. I mean really. How often has the smart person in a comedy series bumped into somebody smarter than them and then they suddenly get all insecure?
And poor Rene can't read in peace. Look at him, he's all set up with chips and soda, and suddenly a lot of people show up and make noise. XD

Friday, August 8, 2014

The Near Witch by Victoria Schwab [2011]: A Review In GIFs

Doe-eyed bimbo.
[I apologize in advance for this post. This book just made me very irritated, and I had to ramble about it for a while.]

Oh, The Near Witch... how do I loathe thee? Let me count the ways. You were THE most clichéd book I have ever had the misfortune to pick up and read. I'm just very glad that I got this for free at the library as a prize for participating in their summer-reading program.
Basically, it's about this bimbo girl named Lexi (by the way, everyone else has archaic names, but she gets a cute modern one) and her town, and one day a mysterious stranger shows up and the next night kids start to disappear. Of course the mysterious stranger is an uber hawt boy, and him and Lexi get right to mooning over each other. Before she's even sure he's innocent of kidnapping the kids, I might care to add.
Seriously, this book is so incredibly clichéd, I think it would be a good start just to list all of the clichés!

~ Lexi, our 'heroine' is your typical, bland, tomboyish YA girl.
~ Lexi is 16.
~ Despite being 'independent', Lexi falls for the stupid mysterious boy almost immediately.
~ There's a mysterious boy.
~ The mysterious boy is very thin, pale, black-haired and has unique gray eyes.
~ The mysterious boy has guilt issues.
~ The village people are narrow-minded and puritan. Except for Lexi, of course, she's a perfect widdle snowflake.
~ Lexi's father is dead, and her mother (as a consequence) is just a shell of her former self. Hunger Games, anyone?
~ Lexi is looked down upon just because she's not a ladylike girl. Look, Miss Schwab! Your feminist agenda is 100 years too late!
~ The people with magic powers and misunderstood and outcast.

So, without further ado, on with the gifs. Why? Because I can! [insane laugher here.]
At the very promising, and quite well written first line of the book.

Book, this could be the start of a long and happy friendship.
When the 'mysterious stranger' is described as a uber handsome young boy only a little older than Lexi.
Seriously? I wonder how this story would have played out
if the mysterious stranger was a 30 year old overweight guy!

When Lexi's sexist uncle gives the story the chance to feel good about itself for having an out of date feminist agenda.

When Lexi and Cole (the mysterious stranger) kiss and fall in love, despite the fact that they are both STUPID teenagers who know nothing about love.

I hope you choke on each other's

When Cole goes off about his sob-story past, and we're supposed to be weepy and touched by it.
Boo flippin' hoo.

When Lexi's feelings get hurt when her friend says that she wants the mysterious stranger dead (Because her friend thinks that he's the one who kidnapped her little brother).
Lexi, you boy-crazy pusbag! You probably wouldn't be so
certain of Cole's innocence if he was ugly! Oh, and for the record?
I didn't find his physical description all that appealing.
Um, so there!
 When Cole gets dragged off by angry village-men and they do moor-knows-what with him, and Lexi proceeds to have an Elphaba freak-out.

It was at this point that the writing got so melodramatic that
I could do nothing else but laugh.

When, one chapter later, it turns out that Cole got away, and him and Lexi get to mush lips again.
I'm not disappointed, I don't know what you're talking about.
When the climax is reached, and we get a generic happy ending.
I'm never going back!
This book is in the paaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaaast!!!
The Verdict: F
Avoid this book like the plague. Maybe it's just because I can't stand teen romance. Or maybe it was the stilted, repetitive plot. Or maybe it was the fact that the characters were bland cardboard cutouts. The Carpet from Aladdin had a more complex and compelling character arc! I feel bad for hating this book, in the afterward, the author gives a big speech about how thankful she is to her family for supporting her and such... But no matter. The author may be sweet, but that doesn't mean I have to like her stupid book.
Stay frosty, my friends.

Wednesday, August 6, 2014

Storage Room: Timmy's Bad Day

First off, if you're a man, you probably won't like this comic due to it's high sugar content. So shoo! Go read about knives and lasers and cars!

I'm not trying to suggest that whenever somebody's upset all they need is a hug or a kiss. But a lot of the time when we're in bad moods and such, we really just want a little bit of affection. At least that's how things work with the author of this comic Timmy.
Apologies for the saccharine fluffiness! Next comic will have some Three Stooge-ing. Okay I lied, no it won't. But it won't be saccharine.

Monday, August 4, 2014

My 'Autumn-Winter' Reading List

Yeah... I finished my Summer reading list way sooner than I expected, and it's still not Autumn! Kind of funny really. But I ran out of stuff to read, so I figured I'd just start this now. It'll probably take me a while to finish it anyway, since I've got a load of super long books on it! I hope to be able to finish it by January.

Wuthering Heights by Emily Bronte
I've heard some seriously conflicting things about this book. One side says that it's a horrid book that tries to make twisted obsession look beautiful, and the other camp says that it's a study on why that kind of love wouldn't work. I'd like to find out myself, though I am a little intimidated by the first chapter. I tried it a year or two ago, and could not make it through! Let's hope I'm more patient this time around! Oh, and you should have seen my Dad's face when I said I was reading this. :D

Toilers of the Sea by Victor Hugo
Another book my sister wants me to 'screen' for her. I've heard good things about it, and you can't really go too wrong in a story about guys fighting sea monsters. Right? And it's Victor Hugo, I'm sure I'll learn a lot about the life and habits of the giant squid. ;)

The Man Who Laughs by Victor Hugo
I got this one used at the library for 50 cents. I had heard some things about it, but I didn't know the full plot. All I can say is that it sounds pretty good, though a little disturbing. And the depressing ending sounds very tacked on. I'll have to read the full thing to find out though.

The Scarlet Pimpernel by Baroness Orczy
I heard it's about a guy who rescued innocent people from the guillotine, that's pretty rad, yeah? Should be good...

Persuasion by Jane Austen
I'm slowly but surely working my way through all the books of Jane Austen, of which I have read three. This one's actually one of the shorter books on this reading list, and I already know the story fairly well, so it should be a nice read!

Mansfield Park by Jane Austen
Then I'll just have Sense and Sensibility left! Huzzah!
Ahem, this is probably the least popular Jane Austen novel, but my Mom gave me a short lecture on why it's just as cool as the others, so I shall soon embark on a quest to read it!

Confessions of St. Augustine by... St. Augustine!
St. Augustine is one of my favorite saints, and I recently found this in the garage (Our garage is filled with wonderous piles of boxes that are filled with books. Some of which have been eaten by silverfish :P). It should be good spiritual reading, something that I really should be doing all the time.

The Brothers Karamazov by Fyodor Dostoyevsky
This book is translated from Russian, about four brothers each accused of patricide, deeply introspective and philosophical, and 993 pages long. SI SE PUEDE! SI SE PUEDE!!

The Count of Monte Cristo by Alexandre Dumas
Saw it at the library and thought "I should read THAT sometime!" This is that time. Also, I know this sounds really bad, but we recently saw the 2002 movie, and it is so awesome!

Les Miserables by Victor Hugo
If only I didn't already have a copy of this book...
Pretty cover...
"Let it go, Monica!!"
"But I found our copy with the pretty red cover!"
"You just read it last year!"
"My precioooouuuuusssssss..."
"Urgh, she's hopeless."
By the way, my friend Ice Cream has written a lovely post in defense of Frodo, you can read it here.

Saturday, August 2, 2014

The War of the Worlds by H. G. Wells [1898]

No one would have believed, in the last years of the nineteenth century, that this world was being watched keenly and closely by intelligences greater than man's and yet as mortal as his own; that as men busied themselves about their various concerns as they were scrutinized and studied, perhaps almost as narrowly as a man with a  microscope might scrutinize the transient creatures that swarm and multiply in a drop of water. With infinite complacency men went to and fro over this globe about their little affairs, serene in their assurance of their empire over matter.
-Book 1: The Coming of the Martians, Chapter One: The Eve of War

Let's give the book credit, it has a pretty cool opening paragraph.
But the rest of the book isn't that great. Forgive me for disliking a classic, but yeah. It's bound to happen.
First off, I don't really like this juvenile Mr. Wells' tone! What I got from this book was that he doesn't particularly like humankind. I'm not an optimist, my friends will attest to that. But while I always expect the worst to happen, I try to be idealistic when it comes to humanity. As a Catholic, I believe that we were created in God's image, and that our true purpose is to Know, Love, and Serve God. In other words, our true purpose is noble and good. We do horrible things (I agree with you on that, Mr. Wells) but we aren't scum.
Now that I've gotten that gripe out of my way, I can get on with my other gripes. Yay!
I didn't like the characters that much. I know that this is a stylistic choice, but narrating in the first person without giving your main character so much as a name is a writing style that is very off putting. To me, at least. As a reader, I feel like I need somebody to hold onto. When your characters are card-board cutouts with barely any personality there isn't that much to hold onto, and quite frankly? I don't care whether or not they die!

The Verdict: D
I should cut the book a little more slack for ending with a nice, hopeful note. But this book, I don't know what it is, but Wells' writing style must've rubbed me the wrong way because I don't think I'll ever take the trouble to read this book again. :P

But now I have guilt for posting something so negative and mean. Nobody likes having their day bogged down by the dark cloud that is my bad attitude. Have a cute animal! Axolotl time!
Adorable baby Axolotls.

Friday, August 1, 2014

The City by Dean Koontz [2014]

"The news isn't all the news, Jonah. Not by a long shot. It's just what reporters want to tell you about.  Riots come and go, wars come and go, but under the tumult, day after day, century after century, millions of people are doing nice things for one another, making sacrifices, mostly small things, but it's all those little kindnesses that hold civilization together, all those people who live quiet lives and never make the news."
-Sylvia Bledsoe, Chapter 16

That quote alone is a reason to read this book, that's something that I really needed to hear, and I'm sure it'd do a lot of people good.
I think that The City is a good gate-way Dean Koontz book. There aren't any over-the-top horror elements, and it actually isn't a horror novel. I actually don't know how to classify this book. Mystery? There are super-natural elements, so I don't know if it classifies as a mystery. And besides. The main character isn't a preppy girl detective, and he isn't a hard-drinking womanizer either, so it can't be a mystery book. ;)
The City follows roughly three years of the life of a young African-American boy named Jonah who lives in the 1960's. The book is actually narrated by his 59 year old self. Jonah has a gift for piano (but isn't prideful about it since he knows that all talent is a gift given to us from God.), and lives with his Mother, Sylvia. His Father, Tilton, abandoned them years ago but still pops up to make trouble.
One day, Jonah meets a mysterious lady who tells him that she is the soul of the City made flesh, and she gives him little hints that he needs to somehow stop a gang of anarchists, and I'd tell you more, but that would involve spoilers.
Describing the plot makes it sounds really lame (that's the case with most books. They sound ridiculous until you read them and judge otherwise.). The book is slower paced than most of Dean Koontz' books (one reason why reviewers on various sites don't like it), but I thought it was amazing how much information was packed into the first hundred pages. It wasn't fast-paced, no. It was slow-paced, but there's a difference between slow-paced and plain old turgid. Blue Mars by Kim Stanley Robinson is turgid. Nothing happens and 100 pages in I still don't know the characters. The City is slow-paced. The plot moves at a moderato, walking pace, but is able to hold your attention because what's going on is interesting.
There's a lot of Christian (Catholic, to be specific) stuff in this book (that's another reason reviewers didn't like it), and while non-Catholics might find it a heavy-handed attempt to evangelize them, I think it's great to read a book where Catholics aren't mean hypocrites. Towards the end, especially, there's a hint of Marian influence that I didn't see coming out of left-field. Then again, I'm not usually any good at sensing plot twists in books. Especially when they're really subtle, like this one.
I found the characters very likeable in this book. My favorite was of course, Jonah himself, but I also liked Sylvia, Grandpa Teddy, Malcolm, Amalia, heck. Pretty much anyone who wasn't evil. And I'm not ashamed to admit that I almost cried at some scenes with Mr. Yoshioka. This book brought to mind something that I read in C. S. Lewis. You have never met an 'ordinary' person. Everyone has their own struggles, triumphs, and story. If they seem ordinary and boring to you then you just don't know their story yet.

The Verdict: A
This book was very good, and if you're considering reading a Dean Koontz book then I'd start out with this one. Or Odd Thomas. But this one has less horror stuff, and it's a relatively calm and philosophical story. In short, I feel like this story is about how even though the rest of the world might seem to be in turmoil and chaos, there will always be good people doing their best to be kind to others and lead gratifying lives.