15

The National Convention Lineup Generator

For the last few weeks, at least here in America, everything in the news has been about the Republican National Convention, which concluded with Donald “The Human Cheeto” Trump being nominated, and currently, we’re in the middle of the Democratic National Convention, where Hillary “After a 16-Year Break, Ready To Pick Up Where She Left Off” Clinton is the first female major-party candidate in American history. The conventions have been filled with speeches by great American orators such as Melania Trump, Antonio Sabato Jr., and Sarah Silverman, as well as booing, protesting, and awkward out-of-sync dancing. Unfortunately (or fortunately), we Americans don’t get to share the fun with our friends and neighbors from other nations, because a) most of us can’t name more than 5 foreign countries, b) most of you are too busy dealing with actual issues in your own countries, and c) most of you are just happy not to have it thrust in your face 24/7.

But that’s all changed now, because I’ve created a way for you to have your own three-ring circus, wherever you are in the world, with…

The National Convention Lineup Generator

Disclaimer: This might take a while for you to do, but I’ll try not to make it too complicated.

Your convention will be four days, each with a different topic.

Step 1: Take the first four letters of your first name. These will be your topics.

A – Angry

B – Bake

C – Confused

D – Drink

E – Emotional

F – Fart

G – Gassy

H – Hiccup

I – Irritated

J – Juicy

K – Kill

L – Loopy

M – Married

N – Nae Nae

O – Oblong

P – Pregnant

Q – Queer

R – Regular

S – Sigh

T – Twerk

U – Urinate

V – Vomit

W – Wardrobe Malfunction

X – X-Rated

Y – Yawn

Z – Zucchini

Mine would be: Juicy, Angry, Confused, and Oblong.

Step 2: Next, you need someone to open your convention by singing your country’s national anthem? Who will take the honors? It’s the first number in your address.

1 – Madonna

2 – Celine Dion

3 – A chorus of one-armed schoolchildren

4 – Mongolian throat singers

5 – Your least favorite aunt

6 – Roseanne Barr

7 – Mrs. Potts from Beauty and the Beast

8 – The cast of Big Brother

9 – The Baghdad Gay Men’s Choir

Mine would be my least favorite aunt. Joy.

Step 3: Now, you need some speakers! Day 1 will be a female speaker, determined by the final number of the year you were born.. Day 2 will be a male speaker, determined by the last digit of your phone number. Day 3 will be a private citizen, determined by your birth month.

Female Speaker:

0 – Theresa May

1 – Miss Universe 2016, Pia Wurtzbach from the Philippines

2 – Malala Yousafzai

3 – Angela Merkel

4 – Conchita Wurst

5 – Taylor Swift

6 – Kate Middleton

7 – Dame Maggie Smith

8 – Nicole Kidman

9 – Nicole “Snooki” Polizzi

Male Speaker:

0 – Kermit the Frog

1 – Vladimir Putin

2 – Lin-Manuel Miranda

3 – Rafael Nadal

3 – Bill Cosby

4 – Pope Francis

6 – Lance Armstrong

7 – Prince George of Cambridge

8 – PSY

9 – Jedward

Private Citizen

January – Your kindergarten teacher

February – A garbage collector

March – A bag lady

April – The exterminator

May – The head of the local nudist colony

June – The kid next door

July – Your long-lost twin

August – Your grandmother

September – Your accountant

October – A local prostitute

November – That annoying guy at the gym

December – Someone who just walked in off the street

Step 4: Now, each of your speakers need topics. Your first speaker will talk about teaching our children about [the date of your birth]. Your second speaker will talk about the dangers to our society presented by [the date of your first blog post] and your third speaker will talk about what we really need is [the date of birth of your boyfriend/girlfriend/wife/husband/best friend/life partner take your pick]

1 – Selfies

2 – Rollerskating

3 – Plagiarism

4 – ISIS

5 – Beauty tutorials on YouTube

6 – Game show hosts

7 – AshleyMadison.com

8 – Photoshop

9 – Medical marijuana

10 – Store-brand knockoff Oreo cookies

11 – The 2016 Olympics

12 – Picking your nose and eating it

13 – Zumba

14 – Sweatshirts for dogs

15 – Broccoli

16 – Emojis

17 – Doritos

18 – Pokemon Go

19 – Laser hair removal

20 – Sweet potato fries

21 – The metric system

22 – Hand-me-down bridesmaid dresses

23 – Spaghetti

24 – Adult diapers

25 – Cinnamon-flavored dental floss

26 – Peeing in the swimming pool

27 – Lumberjacks

28 – The Kylie Jenner Lip Challenge

29 – Nuclear warheads

30 – Miniature golf

31 – Babies

Step 5: Finally, it’s your turn to shine. You speak, and then what happens? Look at the time: it’s whatever hour it is, AM or PM.

1 – ::crickets::

2 – Someone starts a slow clap

3 – The crowd joins hands for an emotional chorus of “Call Me Maybe”

4 – Someone throws a bra at you

5 – Someone throws rotten vegetables at you

6 – A fire breaks out and everyone runs for their lives.

7 – You pass gas loudly into the microphone and blame it on a staffer.

8 – You tell everyone to open their hymnals to page 29 and lead the congregation in singing “What A Friend We Have In Jesus,” followed by communion and a bake sale.

9 – You tell everyone that they get a new car!

10 – You put on your jet pack and do aerial stunts above the crowd.

11 – Fireworks go off, scaring the bejeezus out of a bunch of cats in the crowd.

12 – You go “Live, from New York, it’s Saturday Night!”

Now, welcome to…

The National That’s So Jacob Convention

Day 1 – “Make America Juicy Again”

The national anthem will be sung by Jacob’s least favorite aunt.

Headliner: Dame Maggie Smith, “Teaching Our Children about The Metric System.”

Day 2 – “Make America Angry Again”

Headliner: Rafael Nadal, “The Dangers of Miniature Golf to Our Society”

Day 3 – “Make America Confused Again”

Headliner: A local prostitute, “What We Really Need: Lumberjacks.”

Day 4 – “Make America Oblong Again”

That’s So Jacob accepts the nomination, and…some fireworks go off, scaring the bajeezus out of the cats in the crowd.

Your results may vary.

Enjoy!

23

On Hanging Something Up

Wow, a normal-hours post! Something I wish I did more often, but inspiration doesn’t strike me in the middle of the day usually, and/or I have other things to do that I can’t do in the middle of the night, but since I a) got three full pages of writing done today for prelims (double spaced!), b) don’t have enough time to drag myself, my chair, and my books to the sixth floor to read out in the sunshine before I should head to the gym so I can get there before it closes, and c) have something to write about that’s not too long, here goes.

So, today is the birthday of one of my across-the-hall neighbors. Even though I already wished her a happy birthday on Facebook, I decided to tape a Happy Birthday note to her door, because I like taping nice notes to peoples’ doors. So I wrote the note, and then I couldn’t find any tape to put it up with.

Now, if you know me well, you know that I always have at least three rolls of tape in my apartment at any given time. I use packing tape when mailing stuff, Scotch tape for various things, and duct tape because who doesn’t need duct tape. And of course, one of the few time I actually need one of those items, I can’t find it.

So, I look around my apartment for tape, anything adhesive. I spot a box of Band-Aids on the counter and take one out. Then I realize…how ghetto would it be to hang something up with a band-aid? Probably very, very ghetto. I don’t want my neighbors to wonder exactly why I used a band-aid, and if it’s germy or gross, or whatever. The next thing I find is one of those rolls of stickers. This one has aliens on them. Yeah, that’s not that much less ghetto than a band-aid, even if it is kind of cute – I don’t want my neighbors, again, to be all…that guy, who doesn’t own any tape. BLASPHEMY.

Anyway, after scouring my apartment for way, way, waaaay too long, I see a roll of clear packing tape under the coffee table. I grab it, tear and oblong piece off, and then go and tape it to the door, just as the elevator opens and a girl comes out, and with my luck, it would be the birthday girl…

…I sprint down the hallway…

…but it wasn’t, it was one of her roommates. I poked my head out of the door, and she said, “was that you sprinting away from our door?”. “Yeah, it was me.” The birthday roommate, she told me, is on vacation in Hawaii for a few days. We had a good laugh about it.

And that’s how I tried so hard not to make it weird that I actually made it weird.

0

Flip the Script Friday: Theodore Dreiser, The Girl in the Coffin

Without my handy dandy library of plays here with me in North Carolina, I turn to the massive number of scripts I have stored on my laptop for this week’s Flip the Script Friday. I picked one at random, and as it turns out, it’s quite apropos…but more on that later. Now, it’s time to Flip the Script with The Girl in the Coffin by Theodore Dreiser.

Basics

The Girl in the Coffin was written by Theodore Dreiser (1871-1945) in 1913 as a part of a series of supernatural plays. It played on Broadway from 1917-1918.

Characters

  • William Magnet – a foreman of loom workers. Father of Mary Magnet. I wonder who she could be.
  • John Ferguson – a strike leader
  • Mrs. Mamie Shaefer – a striker’s wife
  • Mrs. Margaret Rickert – another striker’s wife
  • Mrs. Hannah Littig – an old woman
  • Nicholas Blundy – a young mill worker
  • Timothy McGrath – a member of the strikers’ executive committee

Setting/Plot

Early evening, large mill town, the 1910s. We open on the drawing room of William Magnet, where Mary Magnet lies in state in her coffin, presided over by Mrs. Shaefer and Mrs. Rickert. Along with Mrs. Littig, they commiserate on Mary’s untimely and saddening death, while Nick Blundy enters with a pillow that says “Asleep” in purple satin. [So weird.] Magnet enters, and everyone else leaves except for Mrs. Littig, at which point Magnet asks Mrs. Littig where Mary’s favorite gold ring went. Mrs. Littig says that she does not know. McGrath soon enters, and we learn of the mill strike, led by John Ferguson. McGrath pleads with Magnet to talk with the workers, because he speaks Italian and Ferguson does not, but obviously Magnet has other things to attend to. As McGrath leaves, Ferguson enters to talk to Magnet about the strike, and Magnet forcefully shuts him down, railing against Mary’s unknown lover, which prompts the best line in the play:

FERGUSON: You are not the only man in this town tonight whose hopes are lying in a coffin.

SNAP. Plot twist. Ferguson and Magnet have a heart-to-heart, and upon McGrath’s return, Magnet leaves with him to go to city hall. Littig reenters, and wouldn’t you know it, she has Mary’s ring, which she gives to Ferguson, under Mary’s instruction.

My Thoughts

A powerful little play, with a plot like Our Lady of 121st Street and an early-twentieth-century realism akin to Trifles. This play definitely proves that not all short plays are throwaways. Some of the minor characters are a little weird, but Magnet and Ferguson are pretty darn incredible in their words and actions. Quite obviously, Mary has died giving birth to Ferguson’s baby, which is the reason why he’s just as upset as Mary’s father Magnet. At first, I thought Magnet and Ferguson were on different sides, but ten I realized that Magnet was a leader figure to Ferguson and McGrath. An odd name, it reminded me a lot of “magnate,” also known as a company bigwig, often emotionless, quite the opposite of Magnet. The twist ending is just the right amount of surprise; I felt like that blue and gold ring was going to come up somewhere, but by the time it did I had forgotten about it. The fact that it ends up with Ferguson only cements his connection with Mary, his lover.

How I’d Flip It

Obviously, realism is the way to go. For some reason, I have this image of Whistler’s Mother, as at the opening, Mrs. Shaefer is described just so. Also, there is a “chalk drawing” of a woman, almost as if a young Mary did it as a self-portrait, and for some reason, a portrait of John Ferguson just hanging out there. On the whole, I feel like it works quite well as is. The imagery is pretty stark, and with the proper design elements, it could pack a punch. You could easily adapt it to any sort of workers’ union situation, from Latino fruit pickers in California to clothing sweatshop workers in India or China. Those would all be interesting twists.

In a 1918 article from Pearsons Magazine, reviewer H. O’Hara would have preferred if Mary’s spirit came up and started stirring shit up. Bwahaha. That’s what Blithe Spirit is for.

Apropos…

A coffin was discovered under a house in San Francisco today, that is believed to be 145 years old. Spooky.


Works Cited:

Dreiser, Theodore. The Girl in the Coffin.

Frederickson, Kathy. “The Girl in the Coffin.” In Newlin, Keith, ed., A Theodore Dreiser Encyclopedia. 166-167. Westport, CT: Greenwood Press, 2003.

Konstantindes, Anneta. “Who is Miranda? Mystery of the young blonde girl who has lain perfectly preserved and still clutching a red rose inside a tiny coffin for 145 years beneath a San Francisco home.” The Daily Mail Online. 26 May 2016. http://www.dailymail.co.uk/news/article-3612053/145-year-old-coffin-young-girl-San-Francisco-home.html.

O’Hara, H. “Lights Out on Broadway.” Pearsons Magazine 38 (February 1918): 348-349.

Vazquez, Joe. “Construction Crews Discover Young Girl’s Casket Underneath San Francisco Home.” CBS San Francisco. 24 May 2016. http://sanfrancisco.cbslocal.com/2016/05/24/san-francisco-young-girl-miranda-casket-discover/

Wikipedia.

0

Dress to Obsess

My initial title for this post was “What (Not) To Wear Today,” but then I realized that made me sound like I was contemplating being a nudist. Excuse me…naturist. And based on a guy I saw in a park the other day with his junk hanging out…I’m never going down that route.

So, I have a certain way of dressing myself. I don’t just roll out of bed in the morning and throw on whatever doesn’t smell bad, like one of my classmates did once because she overslept (actually, she came to class in her pajama top and jeans…and she was giving a presentation). I usually walk out of the house looking like a million bucks. Actually, not really, I probably look really terrible most of the time. No one usually ever comments on what I wear, so it must not be too spectacular, or too tragic, for that matter.

As I was picking out clothes to wear this morning, I had a flashback from Pop Culture class, junior year of high school, when we talked about what clothes we felt comfortable in and why we wore them. Everyone else kinda gave a lame, noncommittal answer, but when it was my turn, I started talking about “dressing for my emotions,” which is probably one of the reasons I never had any friends in high school.

But anyway. I have certain unwritten rules about what I dress myself in each day. Well, actually after today they’ll be written rules, but here goes:

That’s So Jacob’s Rules of Fashion, Part I: General Rules

1. No wearing of the same color two days in a row. I have no idea why I do this. Maybe it’s so I’ll confuse potential attackers who are looking for the same guy in the same color shirt. Exceptions to this are on same-outfit days, which usually occur on weekends where I’ll spend so little time in real clothes on Saturday that I will deem them wearable on Sunday.

2. TSJ Tznius: cover those arms and legs. I have never owned nor worn a tank top or wife beater in my life, so why start now? Also, who really wants to see that? T-shirts have worked fine for me so far. With shorts, the secondary reason I don’t wear them is because I don’t feel the world needs to see my legs, even if it is a hot day, unless I am going swimming or doing some sort of water activity. The primary reason is because I don’t like the way my legs look, and shorts lengths change yearly, meaning my shorts are always too long or too short.

3. Casual at all times, except when doing something academic-y. I am not the guy who dresses up for class every day in a suit and tie. I don’t even wear nice sweaters or anything. I’m always in a t-shirt, usually a fun one because I only wear awesome fun clothes, and sometimes a polo, and that’s usually when I’m meeting with a professor or have a presentation to do. Otherwise, I’m in the classroom in my stained UMass hoodie and jeans, looking completely out of place. And I like it that way. Well, not always, but fortunately I now live in a place where dressing for comfort rather than style is perfectly acceptable. My dislike of collared shirts comes from high school, when we were forced to wear them for reasons unknown – so what, you can see a tiny bit less of my neck? So my itching will keep me awake in class? So I can look preppy even when I’m not feeling it?

4. Matchy-matchy? That’s me. Okay, this is where it gets weird. I blame my mother, but I’ll get to that in a minute. I love to match my clothing with my day. For example, I wore a blue shirt today, and I had a mini-crisis when I couldn’t find either of my blue jackets to leave the house in. Red hoodie + blue shirt = bad news bears. I must match all my layers with similar or opposite colors. And though all-black is OK, blue shirts never go with blue jeans. Also, my accessories must match: in the winter, if I wear my green jacket or anything red, I must wear my red scarf. If I wear my blue fleece, my blue jacket, or my alpaca jacket, I must wear my blue scarf. Same goes for hats: green hat goes with green coat, black hat goes with the others. And no conflicting patterns, ever. When my mom picked out my clothes as a child, she had no concept of color: if you gave her a bright red shirt with a tiny blue dot in the middle and a pair of blue shorts, she’d hold them up and say “see, they match.” I also accessorize: I have canvas bags in just about every color, so I always match my bag with my attire. I need a hobby.

That’s So Jacob’s Rules of Fashion, Part II: Types of Clothing

1. Shirts. I am a t-shirt person. I think I will always be a t-shirt person simply because I have so many, and they’re all awesome. The one I’m wearing right now, my blue Film Fest t-shirt, is not the best example of this, but at least it’ll go in the hamper. Polo shirts, as stated above, on special occasions. I will, from time to time, do the Jared Leto in My So-Called Life and wear a patterned short-sleeve Oxford over a t-shirt. But NO HATS with that combo, or else I’ll look like either a crazy rainforest explorer or someone’s dad at the beach. Also, as stated above, some sort of sleeve. I have a few v-neck shirts, but I don’t usually wear them, because who wants to see that? Being a hipster is inner, not outer.

2. Pants. For awhile, I only wore khakis. Mostly because jeans were against school dress code, but also because I was never wearing the right pair at the right time. I got teased in elementary school for wearing skinny jeans; this was the 90s, when the “sagging look” was in. My mom refused to buy me too-big jeans, and I didn’t have any interest in showing the world my underwear, anyway. Jeans and I made up during college, when I realized that I was beyond that high school crap. Black dress pants are nice for fancy occasions like Shabbat or the theatre. For the gym, black track pants are my only option. I also own one pair of black non-dress pants which hang at the back of the closet and I always say I’ll wear them the next time I wear a black shirt but I don’t because they are stupid and itchy.

3. Shorts. No thanks. Especially not patterned shorts or anything in pastel.

4. Socks. Shamefully, I wear white ankle socks almost every day. Granted, I wear them with real shoes, not anything open-toed like that horrible picture of Adam Sandler walking through LA, and also, it’s too cold in Wisconsin for dress socks every day. Some of those are practically pantyhose; let’s hope I never have to wait outside for something in them.

5. Shoes. Tennis shoes, same pair, everywhere, until they’re falling apart. Some people have gym tennis shoes and regular tennis shoes; I should probably be one of them. Dress shoes are for dinner and dancing. I own sandals, but unless I am going to the beach, they don’t leave the closet. Feeling like I needed a pair of “grown up” shoes, I bought a pair of black loafers, which haven’t left the box, because “I’m not ready to grow up yet,” says me. I used to hate boots because they are messy and hard to get on/off, but now that I live in Snow-Land, I see their usefulness. My boots are brown and pretty and I got them at Marshalls. I salute you, boots; you kept my feet from freezing through many a storm. I still hate getting my feet in and out of you though. Rain boots? No, because I have never tried macarons, used Burt’s Bees, or done anything in Claire’s other than fetch my sister so that Mom could take us home from the mall.

6. Hats. I think hats are cool. Not baseball caps though; I already look like a twelve-year-old. In fact, when I played a dad character in a play (that I wrote) during my senior year of undergrad, I put the cap on backwards, to which my castmates said that I looked like I was going down to the video arcade. I’m no John Goodman. Even when I wear it forward, I still look like I’m on my way to day camp. I like winter hats, they are fluffy and wonderful. Ever since I’ve had my green winter hat with the puff-ball on top, my dad has called it silly, but accedes to the fact that it keeps the head warm during frigid times. I was heartbroken when the puff-ball fell off; I think he was secretly pleased.

7. Scarves. I really, really like scarves, though I only have two at the moment. Maybe that’s what I’ll do tomorrow, buy some scarves. No. Bad idea, Jacob. I wish that the “warm weather scarf” was more socially acceptable because I’d totally do that. Unfortunately, it’s in the same pretentious family as sweaters tied around the neck (what’s wrong with that?!) so in conclusion, I do not wear them in warm weather. At least not without a jacket.

'We're indoors, lose the scarf!'

8. Sweaters/sweatshirts. Hoodies are like a gift to the freezing. They are so functional and wonderful, and warm the hands and head too. I own five, though I keep only about four in my rotation (the black one is a little too depressing; sorry, black hoodie). And before you ask, the white stains on my UMass hoodie are from paint, specifically when I painted the walls of the community arts center I worked on with DAT in Quilotoa, Ecuador, so those are badges of honor. It’s nice that sweaters came back into fashion recently, and have been looking nice on the shelves at Kohl’s, especially patterned ones. I actually own two sweaters, and neither have Christmas trees or cats playing with balls of yarn.

That’s So Jacob’s Rules of Fashion, Part III: Colors

1. White. I’m way too messy to wear white. Sad but true fact. Every time I get a nice white shirt, I try so hard to keep it clean. When the moment something stains it occurs, I’m like…aww, man. Seriously. It’s like God does not want me to wear white. When I wear white, I can usually even remember the type of stain: pizza grease, peanut butter, lying on a dirty floor. Also, I wouldn’t be caught dead in a white Oxford, aka the Chabad penguin suit. I would totally be Chabad if I didn’t have to wear white every day of my life. I’d be like, that one Chabad guy who wears funky colors and patterns. Somehow, I don’t think that would go over that well.

2. Grey. The only good time to wear a grey t-shirt is at the gym, because in public, it gives the impression of either a) I really messed up my white shirt, or b) I’m so bad at laundry I faded my black shirt. Exception: gray Oxford shirt. Surprisingly elegant addition to a suit.

3. Black. Ahh, black. The go-to for the artsy or the ones who are too messy for colors. In middle/high school, I totally went through a black phase. It didn’t have anything to do with my depression; I just thought it looked nice. Of course, my sister called me a goth and made me change into a colored shirt for school, but I didn’t have painted nails, a dog collar, or a constant cloud of metal music around me, so you owe me an apology. Nowadays, I still like black but use it sparingly. Wearing black all the time is boring. Also – fun fact – remember Platinum, from like six months ago? One year he was quoted in the yearbook, about whether we should have school uniforms, he said “No, I like freedom of choice.” This coming from the kid who came to school in a black turtleneck and chinos every single day because that’s what rich people wear.

4. Pink. I currently don’t own anything pink. I used to have tons of pink in my closet as a kid, but then elementary school happened and it didn’t go over well on the playground. I find it amusing that it’s coming back into style for men now. One day I will try it, but today is not that day.

5. Brown. Brown and tan are two color that are way underused in fashion, in my opinion. They look great with jeans and khakis. I own a few brown t-shirts and a tan sweater, but nothing that’s the exact tone of my skin nor a UPS uniform.

6. Purple. Growing up with a sister who loved all things purple (never pink), I wanted to be like her. Eventually it evaporated from my wardrobe. Before it did though, I remember wearing this purple t-shirt all the time that said “New York Deli Potato Chips.” I guess I always thought that shirts with cool words or brand names made you sophisticated. I have a purple Oxford that I wear all the time, but no purple t-shirts…yet.

7. Blue. Usually a safe bet. Navy was super popular in the 1990s, so you couldn’t go wrong there. For some reason, I have no blue hoodies but 2 blue jackets (three if you count my alpaca jacket) and no red jackets but 2 red hoodies and 2 red sweaters. Blue presents a problem with some jeans, as you don’t want to have contrasting shades of blue or else you’ll risk looking like Britney Spears and Justin Timberlake at some teen awards show.

8. Green. Another relatively safe color. Neon green = No go for me…that color makes my skin crawl. Dark or light, please. I currently don’t have a lot of green items in my closet at the moment. Maybe that should be my next color choice when offered a free t-shirt from somewhere.

9. Yellow. Yellow was my favorite color, until one day when I wore a yellow shirt to school and someone told me I looked like Big Bird. Kids are mean. No offense to Mr. Bird, but you’re not exactly a fashion icon. Maybe for Lady Gaga, but not for me. I have been noticing yellow making a comeback on the streets though. Wear with caution, though, it has been known to cause stares in the chest area, especially when paired with dark pants.

10. Orange. Huh? I think I have only ever owned one orange shirt, and that was a polo I wore sometimes in middle school. Orange died a slow death in my wardrobe and in fashion in general, and I don’t see it coming back anytime soon, at least for men.

11. Finally, there’s Red. Red is my go-to color. I started liking red in high school after my green-yellow-black phrase, and must’ve reallly liked it, because all the colleges I’ve attended for more than one semester have some variation of red in their logos/school colors. Maybe that’s why I didn’t get into NYU (undergrad) or Northwestern (grad); I should probably write them a thank-you note for not accepting me and subsequently becoming a Purple People Eater. But back to red, you really can’t go wrong with red. Fire engine red, blood red, red apple red, light red, dark red, maroon, crimson, scarlet, primrose, poinsettia: they’re all great. When I redid my room upon becoming a Real Person (aka my bar mitzvah), I ditched the baby blue paint with the soccer ball print border and painstakingly selected a very pale yellow with a red-and-brown Chinese symbol border wallpaper, which I thought looked awesome at the time (and I actually kinda still do…for a teenager’s color choices, it’s not awful) and found a matching bed set with a dark red duvet printed with bamboo in brown and gold. It went rather nicely with my light brown furniture and dark-brown carpeting, formerly an ugly swamp under a bright blue sky, but now transformed into an unobtrusive carpet that was still kind of ugly, but was at least less noticeable in a room of red, yellow, and brown things. The whole room has kind of a 1970s vibe to it. I should totally market that concept to hotel chains.

In completely unrelated news, when I when crossing the street, I walked past a woman who was doing the same thing, only she was knitting and walking at the same time. Is that like, future-cat-lady material? Or did I manage to time-slip into medieval Denmark?

 

4

Book Review: Ransom Riggs, Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children

After about a month of picking at books like so many scabs, I finally actually finished one: Miss Peregrine’s Home For Peculiar Children by Ransom Riggs.

Awfully tempting cover…and does not disappoint

I bought this book in the airport bookstore in Orlando, Florida on my way back home, since I was very close to finishing whatever I was reading at the time, but it was mostly read on the trip up to Madison from Houston. I finally finished it earlier this week at CoffeeBytes.

My initial reaction upon reaching the back cover?

“GIVE. ME. MORE.”

Miss Peregrine’s Home for Peculiar Children is an adventure/fantasy novel that could be described in a word as, “curious.” Starting with the cover, which shows a photograph of an angry-looking little girl floating several inches off the ground, it only gets more striking. We meet 16-year-old Jacob Portman, of Miami, who has had a rough life socially despite coming from a well-off family. His one close familial connection is to his grandfather, who is mysteriously found dead. After his death, Jacob goes through his grandfather’s belongings and finds notes from someone named Emma on an island off the coast of Wales, referencing Miss Peregrine and a children’s home, and a number of creepy photographs of children in his grandfather’s stories. Jacob remembers that his grandfather often spoke of the children’s home where he lived after fleeing mainland Europe in WWII. He suspects something’s up and asks his parents if he can go to Cairnholm Island in Wales for the summer, to which his ornithologist father reluctantly agrees after finding out there’s an endangered species of bird there.

So off they go to the island. While exploring, Jacob comes across an old, abandoned house that he presumes is the remains of the children’s home. Going inside, he discovers a trunk full of old pictures of children that are of a similar variety to his grandfather’s, when all of a sudden, said children appear. Determined to find answers, Jacob chases them, and ends up passing through a cairn into the past, resurfacing in World War II, when the house was a children’s home run by the mysterious Miss Peregrine. There, he befriends the children and realizes that his grandfather’s stories were all true: he lived in this home, full of children with special powers, and that Jacob himself may have a power, he just doesn’t know what it is yet. The reason that they all exist in this limbo is because of a time loop: every night at the same time – right before a bomb drops on the island – the clock is reset to the day before, making it September 3 for all of eternity, and keeping the children young and safe forever.

But this idyllic world is not immune to danger. Creatures called hollows are causing mayhem, panic, and destruction in Jacob’s world and Miss Peregrine’s world. Jacob and his new friends – Emma, who can conjure fire; Millard, who is invisible; Enoch, who can wake the dead; Fiona, who plants magical gardens; Bronwyn, who has super strength; Horace, who is psychic; Olive (presumably the girl on the cover), who floats away if she’s not chained to anything; and Hugh, who has a stomach full of bees (?) – set out to stop them. After several trips between the world and surprising revelations, the time loop gets destroyed and the children must figure out a way to stop the hollows – before they all rapidly age in the real world. The sequel, which I will be buying and reading immediately, is set to come out in January.

The book is a fun, magical adventure that mixes old and new, and doesn’t try too hard to play up the fantasy angle (Harry Potter, Twilight). I was captivated and couldn’t wait to pick it back up whenever I put it down. Periodically, when new characters are described, their photos appear on the succeeding pages, so you never know what you’ll see each time you turn the page – a technique Riggs refers to as “vernacular photography.” This makes me want to go to an antique shop right now, get some old photos, and write stories for them. Or maybe even match them up with old postcards with strange messages on them. IDEA. YES. The only thing that I didn’t really like about the book was that some of the characters’ names were too similar (Emma/Enoch, Horace/Hugh) and sometimes I forgot each one’s powers. I often confused Fiona with Bronwyn and vice versa. I also found the character of Emma somewhat problematic. She had a romance with Abe (Jacob’s grandfather), and starts one with Jacob, which is kind of creepy, not to mention the fact that she’s young enough to live in a children’s home, and Jacob is 16. I forgot how old Emma said she was, but at some times she seemed like a child; at others, a young adult. She must have been 13 or 14 or else her and Jacob’s relationship would’ve been weird. Then again, Jacob refers to her as “one of the children” – is he referring to her being a child, or her living in a children’s home? Peculiar.

And the main character’s name is Jacob, so, bonus points for that.

Overall, this is the best book I’ve read so far this year. Get yourself a copy, read it, come to my apartment, and let’s get peculiar.

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Masterpiece Youtube: “Stuck,” Stacie Orrico

That’s So Jacob Presents: Masterpiece YouTube

Episode 2: “Stuck,” Stacie Orrico, 2003.

This surprisingly complex bubblegum pop song has quite a compelling video. It was made in 2003 by a relatively unknown Stacie Orrico (who is still relatively unknown). She released three albums in total in the 2000s. As she preferred a Christian gospel style rather than a pop style, her moment in the spotlight in the pop music scene was short. These days, according to Wikipedia, she is “living in New York and taking acting classes.”

The video starts with her in bed, pushing the button on the alarm clock. From the first note, we know we’re in for a ride. She’s got a Minnie Mouse on her night stand, so she clearly means business. She writes “STUCK” in the mirror with her lipstick, and takes the bus to school, where she apparently walks around a track in a circle with a large group of some oddly dressed students and the occasional teacher. The girls all have heavy Gothic makeup and many guys and girls are in argyle. For some reason, I like to think that this is what school is like in Canada. She also sings in a cute outfit on a bench in a baseball field while wearing white sneakers that miraculously manage to stay squeaky-clean even though you know there’s got to be mud around there somewhere. Then, more students, including a guy with a neck brace, a guy in a penguin hoodie, a guy in green between two Goth-looking blonds (popular girls, maybe?) in tartans. Then, back on the bus, he draws a heart on the window and she puts a notebook in front of it. Sweet. The guys (including the main guy) are playing basketball and looking pretty dorky. The Goth girl in pink leans ladylike yet bitchy against her locker while Stacie and the guys pass by. Then, she closes her eyes and we’re at a school dance. She looks in, the guy she likes is dancing with another girl – MISTAKE ALERT: In one shot she is wearing pearls, in the next, she isn’t – so she ducks back out, and for some reason there is lightning in the room. She has lots of blue eye shadow and laments in front of an awesomely-painted wall. After some more being angsty on a bus, she watches herself get rejected on a dating show. That’s gotta suck. But enough of that, the buses get to school and she comes face-to-face with her man, who she gives the cold-shoulder to before walking away angstily – MISTAKE ALERT #2: Stacie’s scarf goes from done to undone in every other shot – while said man gets taunting facial expressions by his argyle-clad friends. The end.

Moral of the story: Don’t reject an adorable brunette with a boyish taste in clothing for a Goth cheerleader chick, because she will then embarrass you in front of your friends.

I like this song because it’s relatively easy to sing, upbeat, jazzy and sassy. It’s also a song that’s okay for both boys and girls to sing since it doesn’t reference gender. I like singing this song at karaoke because it’s one of those songs that either a) impresses the pants off my friends, or b) they go, “oh yeah, I remember that song…why didn’t I think of picking that one?” I like the video because Stacie’s gorgeous, there are so many fun colors and articles of clothing, and all of the other kids at the high school look so quirky and out-of-place yet Stacie, the normal-looking girl, is on the outs. Overall, it’s a great music video that takes you through the story via song.

This has been Masterpiece YouTube, Episode 2: “Stuck,” Stacie Orrico.