The Used, reused

If you don’t know who The Used is, I refer you to this link: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/The_Used … You shouldn’t be here. This blog is by a fan for the fans.

The Used is one of those bands that has changed style slightly. The change has caused some fans to, well, not be fans anymore. It’s a shame really. But the question to ask is what about The Used did you fall in love with? Was it the lyrics? Was it Bert? Was it the amazing way the instrumentals and vocals supported one another? Because if your answer was yes to ANY of these questions… I’m pleased to announce, you are still a fan ūüôā

A friend told me about “Take It Away”… that was the first time I heard anything by The Used. I instantly fell in love. The lyrics describe exactly how I was feeling, and the unclean singing further supported that angry despair. This was a little before Lies for the Liars. I love the sound of the first albums by The Used… Songs like “Box Full of Sharp Objects”, “Bulimic”, “The Taste of Ink”, “Noise and Kisses”, “Buried Myself Alive”, “Cut Up Angels”, “All That I’ve Got”, and and and and I could end up listing the entire series of songs from the early Used. Bert would probably tell me to shut the f*** up if I told him how I thought his lyrics are poetic, or that the way the vocals and instruments mix is perfect…

Lies for the Liars took a slightly different turn. While “Pretty Handsome Awkward” and “The Bird and the Worm” became quite popular, the Lies for the Liars is quite abstract compared to the previous set. Instead of describing emotions and situations that cause those feelings, it takes on a Halloween-ic theme. “Wake The Dead”, “Hospital”, and even “The Bird and the Worm” have ominous music and creepy voices in the background, while Bert sings about events that aren’t quite relate-able (they are.. it takes a moment). But these songs are fun! I love how The Used can make fun songs. There are other songs on the album which are much sappier than I had expected… but again, described how I felt when the album came out: “Earthquake” and “Smother Me” are examples. Unfortunately, many fans began to waver in their love for the Used since unclean screaming took a bit of a backseat…

Shallow Believer was not an album on print. I didn’t even realize it existed at first. But needing some Used in my life, I went to search whether a new album was coming out soon… I discovered their e-release Shallow Believer. I haven’t completely listened to the album, but I LOVE everything on it. It is a mix of old Used and The Used that appeared in Lies for the Liars. Songs like “Choke Me” and “Slit Your Own Throat” really gave me the chaos I need from The Used, and other songs like “Dark Days” gave me that softer rush of emotion.
I am not sure many fans knew of this album either…

Now Artwork… I can go on all day about this album. This is by far my favorite album. I listen to it day and night. I skip other Used songs to get to the ones on this album… but NO ONE agrees. NO ONE. And it’s a shame, because this album is so good at describing the complexities within a relationship that is falling apart… I think so many people could relate to the lyrics, and would love how the songs deliver these messages. But… the unclean singing that appeared on all previous albums has almost completely disappeared.
I’ve had many friends who say that is the reason they don’t like The Used any more. I shake my head, because this reason is absolutely ridiculous… The Used is one of the few bands who have changed styles and have succeeded in still being so wonderful.

I heard a rumor, one that I haven’t put to rest yet, that Bert doesn’t “scream” anymore. This may be true. I went to a concert last year, and one of the guitarist did the screaming parts. But it’s okay… because Bert is still singing, and he’s amazing.

On a side note… this concert was the best concert I’ve been to in 6 years. Nothing tops your first concert… and it was true, until I saw The Used. That concert was amazing!!!!

Vulnerable had a hard act to follow. I didn’t fall in love with this album because I already found my one true love. But it wasn’t quite the old style, but it wasn’t Artwork. I would say, this album is where The Used has found the sound that fits them where they are now as a band. I would say The Used really took on their album title, and became Vulnerable letting us see who they have become. It’s a shame that fans who have already left did not stick around for this album… because it’s also wonderful.

The e-release of The Ocean of The Sky last year is also really really really good. Although it is more of a politically aimed album, it is good. The fact that The Used doesn’t limit themselves to representing emotions and relationships says that they are more versatile than people give them credit for…

Clearly I am biased. I’m a fan of the music. And I don’t expect you to listen to me when all I’ve said is This-song-is-really-really-really-good haha and I’ve said this without any proof. But there is no real proof when it comes to music, except what you feel when you are listening to it.

BUT, if you don’t believe me, here’s a little bit of something that might count as proof. Recently, AP magazine named The Used as one of the bands that will mold the next gen of pop-screamo bands. If a band is great enough to influence a whole generation of musicians, then it must be that the music is good.

The reason for this post is the new upcoming album by The Used called Imaginary Enemy. I’m super excited, mostly for the new music. You should check out the video I’ve attached. ALSO, let me know if you’re a Used fan!!! You’ll be my new best friend ūüôā

Representin’ Relationships (different)

Another week, another set. ¬†As I was reading these short stories, I was quite intrigued. ¬†Although many of the previous stories were interesting and explored a variety of topics, this set reflected extremely different relationships. ¬†There’s a sibling rivalry story; I don’t recall any of the other stories discussing siblings in this much depth. ¬†Then there’s an entire story about the relationship to a person through possession of property. ¬†And finally, a story about hero worship.

The first story is called¬†May We Be Forgiven, by A. M. Homes. ¬†In this story, there is the narrator… and there’s his brother, George. ¬†Immediately, the narrator spells out his hate for George: “Geode I called him — like a sedimentary rock.” ¬†Unless George is a lazy ass, I would consider this nickname the narrator’s way of letting the reader know he dislikes his brother. ¬†It turns out the name is perfect for the opening scene… since George isn’t helping clear his wife’s table of dinner. ¬†BTdubs… we never learn the narrator’s name. ¬†Perhaps he doesn’t feel he is important enough to name because of the circumstances.

What are those circumstances, you ask? ¬†Well… the narrator basically bones George’s wife. ¬†wtf, you say? ¬†My thoughts exactly! ¬†But I think Jane (George’s wife) has made a habit of cheating on George..

Here’s what happens. ¬†During the opening scene, Jane randomly kisses the narrator: “the kiss was serious, wet, full of desire. ¬†It was terrifying and unexpected…. Hard… ¬†I thought of my brother fucking his wife — constantly.” ¬†OK. ¬†First off, she totally blue-balled him. ¬†I can understand thinking about her all the time… you obviously want her to finish the job. ¬†But, THINKING of your BROTHER f@#$%ing her?!?! ¬†Come on… that’s a little gross. ¬†I would never want to imagine my brother bare-ass naked, and inside of a woman I lust after. ¬†

The narrator on the other hand seems to do it for some time. ¬†So long, in fact, that his fantasies get us to the next scene in the story. ¬†George has run a red light and killed 3 people, severely injuring a 4th.. sober. ¬†This scene is a little off-putting. ¬†I’m not sure how to react to anyone, because everyone is acting so blase`. ¬†George keeps asking why he should need a lawyer and acts like a baby, which seems to be normal for him; his wife acts as though nothing has happened, and the narrator is describing this to us.. ¬†The only person who reacts as she should is Claire, the narrator’s wife. ¬†She IS a lawyer, so she gives lawyer-ly advice.

But there is something deeper happening. ¬†First time I noticed: “he turned on her, he pinned her with his body and bit her again and again, breaking the skin in several places.” ¬†Now, this isn’t the sexy-time of vampires. ¬†This is a savage attack, breaking into something raw. ¬†George obviously has some issues. ¬†It could’ve been the car accident, but I think the accident is the reaction to a stimulus.

Fast forward a little bit… the narrator is in bed with Jane. ¬†George has found his way home from the hospital, and finds them:

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George then proceeds to smash his wife in the head with a lamp… putting her into a coma. ¬†O.o

Why didn’t he also attack his brother? ¬†THAT was my question. ¬†Why only the wife?? ¬†Then the son gave it away: ¬†” ‘Did he walk in on you?’ ” ¬†Like his mother has had men over before. ¬†Like George has found Jane with another man before. ¬†At least this is my assumption.

As I said, this was an off-putting story. ¬†I’m glad that it was, because it’s an interesting feeling that I’m not used to..

The next story is called¬†From the Desk of Daniel Varsky, by Nicole Krauss. ¬†The narrator is a poet (the gender of whom we are not informed) who has recently endured a break up. ¬†After trudging through the details of how the narrator is coping, we get to the main story. ¬†There’s this other poet. ¬†He’s Chilean. ¬†His name is Daniel Varsky. ¬†Daniel is going to “lend” his furniture to the narrator.. he’s going back to Chile and needs someone to “look” after his property. ¬†

Okay, so why does this matter? ¬†This furniture matters because each piece has a story of Daniel’s adventures, or the story of a famous poet (who means more to the people in the story than I thought a poet could mean…):

Suddenly I felt awash in gratitude to their owner, as if he were handing down to me not just some wood and upholstery but the chance at a new life, leaving it up to me to rise to the occassion.

I guess between the break up and the meaning behind the furniture, the narrator is moved.

Daniel and the narrator continue to discuss poetry. ¬†It’s quite clear to the reader that these two people have a lot in common.. so you think the typical “oh man. ¬†I call it. ¬†I call that these two hook up and fall in love.” ¬†You are so convinced in your ship that when the narrator and Daniel do kiss you are SO excited that you, as the reader, were correct. ¬†But WAIT:

if we were kissing then we couldn’t talk, and the more we talked, the more there was to say. ¬†The kiss was just a note of punctuation in our long conversation, a parenthetical remark made in order to assure each other of a deeply felt agreement, a mutual offer of companionship, which is much more rare than sexual passion or even love.

So the jist of all this jazz is…

This is what they attempted

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this is how they justified it

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And this is how it really was

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Note: The narrator isn’t stated to be male or female (or even white). ¬†I only chose pictures that displayed the reaction I wanted.

The story continues to describe the narrator’s life after this night, and even includes what happens to Daniel. ¬†I don’t think the connection that Daniel and the narrator shared would have entitled a lifetime of interactions (in fact that one night is all they had). ¬†However, Daniel left his furniture with the narrator, and said he may return for it. ¬†This is open-ended, and so, left the narrator connected for the rest of Daniel’s life.

The last story in this set is called¬†The King of Sentences, by Jonathan Lethem. ¬†THIS. ¬†IS. ¬†THE. ¬†MOST. ¬†BIZARRE. ¬†STORY. ¬†I’VE. ¬†EVER. ¬†READ. ¬†That’s probably a lie… but that was my reaction.

NOTHING in this story matters. ¬†Nothing. ¬†These two kids are worse than grammar nazis. ¬†At least grammar nazis don’t have irrational behavior. ¬†In fact, these kids… they need to take the following class:

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Here is how THESE kids are irrational. ¬†First, they scorn book buyers. ¬†That’s not as irrational. ¬†I worked at a bookstore myself… and those customers, LET ME TELL YOU. ¬†But these kids don’t scorn book buyers for the same reasons I did. ¬†They scorn these customers because they don’t appreciate “astonishing” sentences. ¬†You can tell the narrator does though… because the whole story is written with these sentences. ¬†What “astonishing” sentences MEANS… I can’t even tell you. ¬†But these kids are obsessed. ¬†They even say aloud these types of sentences when having sex…. to finish each other off. ¬†That’s irrational behavior number 2. ¬†Irrational behavior number 3 is STALKING a man you’ve deemed the King of Sentences. Number 4 is following him to a hotel room and YOU DON’T EVEN KNOW HIM AND THE COP WARNED YOU. ¬†Number 5 is offering to take off your clothes for him. ¬†Number 6 is doing it when he asks. ¬†WHAT IS WRONG WITH THESE PEOPLE?!?!

At this point in the story I realize that the King is their idol, and there are a lot of worse idols for kids to have. ¬†But still. ¬†Who does this? ¬†I don’t know anyone, do you? ¬†Then, when the King walks out on them because he thinks they are as crazy as I do, the narrator says “Clea and I waited an appropriate interval, then turned and clung to each other in a kind of rapture. ¬†Understanding, abruptly and at last, just what it takes to be King. ¬†How much, in the end, it actually costs.” ¬†I don’t even know what this means. ¬†If you have any ideas, PLEASE let me know. ¬†I’ve resolved to think that it takes more than one disappointment for these kids to realize their idol isn’t who they thought he was…

 

Short Stories 3

I apparently can’t write about them as fast I can read them. ¬†I read the next 3 short stories in a day; this blog is 3 days older.

Remember in the last post I told you about the chick who married a guy in less than two weeks? ¬†Well this next short story is just as effed up. ¬†It’s called¬†Man and Wife, and it’s by some lady named Katie Chase. ¬†Setting… *clears throat*… in a modern day society where girls are married off. ¬†Plot… *clears throat*… about a girl who is married off at 9 years old.

DAFUQ?!

I could not get over the shock when I read this. ¬†Especially when I find out that the man to marry her met her once.. and is like a bazillion times older than her. ¬†Erkay. ¬†I’m done.

But I can’t be.. I started to think… what if girls were still married off? ¬†What if I was married off? ¬†Oh. My. Gawd. ¬†I can’t even imagine what that would be like. ¬†The idea upsets me, of course. ¬†As a gay woman, I would NOT want to be forced to marry someone I would not be attracted to.

But… this girl, Mary… she was 9, pre-pubescent age. ¬†So she obviously did not know yet what it was like to be attracted to anyone.. nor did she love someone she met once. ¬†Therefore, she can totally relate. ¬†I mean… she tried running off on her wedding day.

There is hope for Mary, however. ¬†Mr. Middleton is seemingly a decent fellow, and indeed proves to be one. ¬†In a society where you have no choice in whom you marry, Mary got super lucky. ¬†Mr. Middleton adores Mary’s brilliance, and acknowledges she is a child and does not expect any sexual favors. ¬†When she gets older, she is his apprentice to his successful business. ¬†In fact, when he dies, he’s leaving it to her. ¬†I wish I knew someone who even had something to give me… but alas, I only know the property- and business-less.

Now THIS had me thinking… how people are so fickle now. ¬†They marry because they are infatuated with each other (like chick and creeper), and then it ends in too short a time. ¬†Now I think… ¬†marriage is a partnership. ¬†You need to marry someone you can build a life with.. because passion burns bright at first then dies. ¬†If you are with someone who has the same values and beliefs and goals.. well that may be the person to marry.

Unfortunately, this idea supports the phrase: “There are the women you sleep with; ¬†There are the women you date; And then there are the women you marry.”

In the end, however, Mary never learned to love Mr. Middleton. ¬†She was only fulfilling her duty, and waiting for Mr. Middleton’s end:¬†“The benefits mature with time. ¬†I’ve begun to appreciate just how much work parents invest in their children, and wives in their husbands; it’s only fair for the investor to become a beneficiary.”

So, what have I learned from this short story? ¬†Well, that marriage is a partnership. ¬†But I also learned that I am ever so grateful I live in a society where I choose whom I marry…

In the next short story, Virgins, by Danielle Evans, a group of teenagers have a little more freedom than they should..

so basically what happens is this girl spends a night in The City, and I clearly mean NYC ūüėČ ¬†She’s following her friend from a club to a party. ¬†Her friend is upset because she lost her virginity to some loser. ¬†So now she’s acting like a slut.. that makes total sense.. flirting with guys she doesn’t know and sitting in their laps and following them into a car and back to their apartment. ¬†I have no idea why Erica is following her around. ¬†Jasmine is selfishly self-destructive. ¬†Anyways… Erica leaves eventually, and ends up at her other friend’s place (name is Michael). ¬†There, Erica follows the motions and has sex with Michael’s brother.

O.o

I think the best quote that describes Erica’s situation is “I didn’t know that, but I did understand then that there was no such thing as safe, only safer, that this, if it didn’t happen now, would happen later but not better.” ¬†It’s a shame I think, that Erica doesn’t feel safe around men. ¬†No young girl should feel that way… but I s’pose it’s a way of thinking that will help you survive in this world.

There is one similarity between this story and the previous one. ¬†Both Erica and Mary settled. ¬†Both did so because of society. ¬†I see a lot of hate for feminism.. i.e. hate against pride for being a woman and the demand of equal respect and equal rights. ¬†However, both these are about the struggle of being a woman, and how these girls feel as though they cannot obtain their rights and do not deserve respect. ¬†If it weren’t for the feminists, more girls would grow up like Erica… and we would still be in a world where all cultures are as in¬†Man and Wife.

I guess we could see it the other way.. these girls learned the limits, and took control of their lives within those limits. ¬†Erica chose the situation in which to lose her virginity, and Mary decided to stay and marry Mr. Middleton and be the duty-bound wife who gets a “inheritance.” ¬†Neither situation is as loud as some feminists may be.. but displays the power of the girls.

You can choose how you’d like to interpret the stories ūüėČ ¬†After all, interpretation of literature is subjective.

We do have a break! ¬†The last story I’m covering,¬†Closely Held, by Allegra Goodman, is not about a girl. ¬†It’s about a man. ¬†I really really like this guy..

“Orion loved to tinker. ¬†He was a puzzle solver.”

“Orion hadn’t set out to be wealthy.”

” ‘I’ve studied our code. ¬†I don’t give a shit about the marketplace.’ ”

“He forgot the one thing Molly wanted.”

Orion is a simple man, with simple needs and desires. ¬†His security software company takes off, and he soon finds himself in a Fortune 500 company. ¬†But he doesn’t want the wealth or the fame. ¬†Orion just wants to get lost in his code. ¬†My favorite scene is when he’s working on code all night long, and when he find the bug he’s been looking for he is super excited. ¬†And goes out with a coworker to enjoy the sunrise. ¬†Orion loves how his life began.. and hates what his life has become: friends are money-hungry, girlfriend is never around, and his work is not about work but about making product as quickly as possible (however flawed).

I like Orion because he has a passion for programming, and he doesn’t care about the money he’s making.

I think all these short stories are worth checking out! ¬†If you haven’t read them, you definitely should. ¬†There’s a reason why they were chosen for¬†Best American Short Stories 2008.

Short stories? Whaaaaat?

Yes. ¬†What? ¬†I’ve read a few collections of short stories. ¬†Notice, though, I said a few. ¬†I don’t think I have really read or studied short stories since¬†The Lottery or¬†The Most Dangerous Game¬†from Freshmen year in High School. ¬†In fact, the collection I’m reading is¬†The Best American Short Stories from 2008.. and I only have this collection because it was a gift from the English department of the college I attended as an undergrad. ¬†I don’t know why I don’t read short stories.. I don’t think anyone knows why they don’t read short stories.. maybe because people walk into a book store not the short story store. ¬†Unless a collection is published like above, you won’t find these short stories on shelves. ¬†You can only find these works in literary journals or magazines… or, if you’re adventurous and don’t care whether the author has been approved by publishers, various websites on the internet (maybe even WordPress.com hmmm). ¬†Anyway, who cares, right? ¬†Except… short stories can be very interesting. ¬†I recall reading¬†The Tell-Tale Heart by Edgar Allen Poe in middle school. ¬†Choosing the most important aspects of a story, intricately weaving a theme or two into a smaller amount of print, etc… Edgar Allen Poe wrote a masterpiece. ¬†Shirley Jackson and Richard Connell wrote masterpieces. ¬†I don’t think this is true because my English teacher told me so.. nor because the rest of the world says so. ¬†I think this is true because these stories immediately grab your attention, keeps your attention, and the story ends in an appropriate way relative to the message delivered. ¬†There are SO many books that cannot do any of these..

This post is the first of a series of posts where I’ll kind of discuss the short stories within¬†The Best American Short Stories¬†from 2008. ¬†

The first story is called¬†Admiral, by T.C. Boyle. ¬†The story is about a girl, Nisha, and her life after college. ¬†She obtains a job as a dog-sitter.. sitting for the same people and for an almost-the-same dog from before college. ¬†The story’s title is the name of the dog. ¬†This dog has a little back story. ¬†He’s an Afghan… but he’s also a clone O.o

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The Admiral Nisha took care of while in High School was hit by a car. ¬†The Strikers (Admiral’s owners) are rich, and do as rich people do… they pour their love and affection, i.e. money, into Admiral, i.e. obsess over him. ¬†When he dies, they decide that they will clone him. ¬†However, to get the same dog they had before, the Strikers hire Nisha to recreate four of the years the first Admiral is alive. ¬†

It is obvious that Nisha isn’t happy with this arrangement, despite the pay and benefits. ¬†But who would be happy? ¬†No college graduate, that’s for sure. ¬†Every kid that goes to college believes that it is his/her way out… to get away from home, to get a degree which will lead to the job of his/her dreams. ¬†But this doesn’t happen for everyone… and Nisha is one of those college graduates whose hopes are crushed and wind up back at home working the same dead-end job she worked in High School.. ¬†

This short story is long enough to let the readers know that Nisha’s past was ruled by Admiral, her present is about Admiral, and alludes to her future also being about Admiral. ¬†

Man, if I were Nisha, I’d be upset as well. ¬†To go to college on a scholarship and do so well, only to graduate to be treated like a High School student… it’s not at all what one expects. ¬†This is the reason so many students are now going to graduate school.. and why one day a graduate degree will mean as little as a Bachelor’s *shrug*.

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The next story is called¬†The Year of Silence by Kevin Brockmeier. ¬†This one is quite unusual.. seemingly Science Fiction. ¬†The story is based on a city, and narrated by a citizen of this city. ¬†There are periodic unified silences.. literally not a sound for several seconds at a time. ¬†The people of this city become obsessed with the peace that comes out of the silences. ¬†Eventually, the people try to recreate the silence: “we would be reminded of the magnitude of what we were striving for. ¬†How inexcusably flimsy, we realized, was the quiet we had managed to create.” ¬†They try over and over again. ¬†Once they succeed, periodic unified spurts of noise occur, and remind the people of the life they used to have. ¬†With this reminder, the people go back to their old life and end the man-made silence. ¬†

I can’t even tell you what the theme or lesson is for this story. ¬†I’m so confused. ¬†These people want the silence, the feeling of “contentment,” as they call it. ¬†The narrator describes how people began to accomplish more, set goals for themselves and could see their lives clearly, and how they could sleep, and how “the quiet we had generated was so encompassing.” ¬†Then, when the noise returns, “their minds [start] spinning with joy and exhilaration.” ¬†So they were bored with the silence? ¬†Did they feel secluded? ¬†Did they feel lifeless? ¬†Does the chaos they were so eager to be rid of actually breathe the life into them? ¬†

Despite the fact that I’m not sure what is going on, this was a very interesting story and I highly enjoyed the concept.

The last story I will discuss in this post is called¬†Galatea¬†by Karen Brown. ¬†A girl named Margaret living in upstate New York meets a boy named William. ¬†They know each other for a week, and then spend a weekend together.. possibly having sex. ¬†They marry at the end of the weekend… WTF?! ¬†Statistically, marriages like this don’t last very long. ¬†Brown adds another happy couple to that record; when Margaret tells William that it’s unacceptable for the theft of her property, he leaves her and never returns. ¬†No, that’s a lie. ¬†He returns to steal the rest of her stuff. ¬†I think Brown is trying to tell us young women not to marry a man you hardly know.. or maybe we should learn to distinguish the difference between love and the sympathy-lust mixture.

I had to look up the meaning of Galatea, because my knowledge of Greek Mythology is minimal. ¬†Wikipedia (an excellent source; give your 3 dollars!!) states that Acis, the spirit of the Acis river in Sicily, is the lover of Galatea, a sea-nymph. ¬†Galatea means “she who is milk-white”… must be all that time she lets he skin prune in the ocean. ¬†Anyway.. ¬†there is another who loves Galatea,¬†the Sicilian Cyclops Polyphemus. ¬†He is jealous, and pulls a braver King David, and kills Acis himself with a boulder. ¬†Galatea then turns Acis’s blood into a Sicilian river, called Acis. ¬†

The link between this story and that of Margaret is the temporary tragic love these women share with the respective men in the stories. ¬†Both William and Margaret are lonely, searching souls. ¬†They connect, and thus create “the illusion of the warmth we wanted.” ¬†This is all it is though, an illusion.¬†Margaret makes note: “how easily I could be abandoned”… and all William did was fall asleep. ¬†If this was truly love, she wouldn’t feel abandoned, she would feel comforted. ¬†She’s constantly observing William’s sad eyes, and always reassuring him over and over, when she also needs this reassurance:

“Tell me not to go,” he said.

“Tell me you want to stay,” I told him.

“Ask me to kiss you,” he said.

“Do you want to kiss me?”

Yet, the loneliness shared between them is enough. ¬†The snow outside, covering reality, is enough to push them together. ¬†It’s all enough for William and Margaret to get married. ¬†Even though they both know, that this wasn’t really love:

“Isn’t this being in love?” he said

I told him I didn’t know.

Margaret doesn’t trust William though… they both know it. ¬†And with all good reason! ¬†I mean, he stole from you. ¬†Then you find out that he’s the Collegetown Creeper (a fellow sneaking into girls’ apartments and watching them while they sleep). ¬†WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU?! ¬†I mean… he creeped on her too. ¬†Unlike the rational girls who threw him out and called the cops, Margaret welcomed him into her bed XD ¬†

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But one never knows what lonely hearts will do…

I’m going to post about every three I read. ¬†Enjoy!

Truth is more Difficult than You would Realize

Last night I went to a game night with the local LGBT Center. ¬†Sometimes it’s nice to be in an environment where I know I’ll never be judged for anything other than my bad style (at least by gay men with way more style than I have). ¬†At this game night, there was a board game that I’d never seen before: ‘SMATH… so it’s basically scrabble, except for mathematical equations. ¬†

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Of course, as a mathematician, I wanted to play this game.  My friends decided to humor me, and we played.  

This game is SO HARD. ¬†For me, it wasn’t because of the equations. ¬†It was simple arithmetic from elementary/middle school: addition, multiplication, division, and subtraction. ¬†You could put anything down, and string as many equations as possible together, as long as they were true statements. ¬†The game was difficult because an equation HAS to start with a number, and it HAS to end with a number, e.g. 5+3 = 10 – 2. ¬†You can’t start an equal sign or an operation, e.g. =10-2 or +3 = 10. ¬†Neither of these make sense. ¬†For others, the difficulty is in making truthful statements, i.e. 5+3 = 10 is not a true statement. ¬†

The game began simple enough, but then my equations began to interact with player 2’s equations, and player 2’s equations interacted with player 3’s equations, and so on. ¬†So figuring out truthful statements in the intricate system on the table before us became difficult, especially when you consider the problem I stated before about the equal signs and the operations. ¬†

These difficulties aren’t seen in the original Scrabble. ¬†A word is made of letters, and you can play off these letters, and you can lay words next to each other as long as every word exists. ¬†You don’t need to know the definition of a word… you don’t need to know the part of speech of a word… you just need to know it exists.

This makes it easier to play. ¬†It reminds me of something that I’ve learned while being in graduate school… ¬†Mathematics is truth. ¬†You can’t just spout something just because you read it somewhere and look like you know what you are talking about. ¬†You can’t just put down words that you don’t know the meaning to. ¬†You have to know a definition in order to use it properly. ¬†You have to know that part the definition plays in relation to what you are proving. ¬†You have to make equations and proofs true in order to make sense. ¬†

I’m not the best Mathematician that I know, but I do know what mathematics is.. and I appreciate it’s truthfulness. ¬†Even if it’s honesty makes it so much more difficult to handle than the fuzziness of stories supplied elsewhere.

Even if you aren’t that great at simple arithmetic (btdubs I’ve lost my skill for simple arithmetic too), you should give the game a try! ¬†You’ll have fun, I promise.

No Sigh of Sympathy for Mr. Dorian Gray

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I really don’t know why I keep torturing myself with these classic books.. ¬†maybe it’s the old English major in me that still believes I need to read classics to be a literature¬†connoisseur; or maybe it’s because I know that not all classics are this bad; or maybe I’m slightly sadistic. ¬†It’s probably a mixture of all these reasons.

I knew the main idea behind The Picture of Dorian Gray, and it has always interested me. ¬†However, I did not know what this book was actually about. ¬†I was quite surprised. ¬†I thought the novel was literally about The Picture of Dorian Gray. ¬†No no no. ¬†It is about the affect the picture had on Dorian Gray, the man… ¬†but this sentence implies that I take the same position Mr. Gray did. ¬†I do not blame the picture for Dorian’s “change” in person. ¬†I also don’t blame the painter, Basil, as Dorian did. ¬†Or the Yellow book he reads that “changes his life.” ¬†Or even the man who loved having such an influence on Dorian’s person, Lord Henry Wotton. ¬†My surprise is how much I disliked Dorian Gray… ¬†I’ve never read a novel where I’ve disliked a character this much.

I’m sure you’ve heard of the recent case about¬†Ethan Couch, a 16-year-old who got drunk and drove his dad’s F-350 into a group of people, killing four and injuring nine.

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His parents happen to be wealthy, so his attorneys and psychologist described his affluenza as a mental disability caused by growing up with wealthy parents and never having to suffer real consequences in life, which made him prone to very poor decision making. The judge agreed with his diagnosis and let him off with probation and no jail time. ¬†Obviously this is creating anger (and I’ll point out that it is making this kid more popular), especially in the less fortunate population who have suffered from these types of people and these types of rulings for generations.

Why do I bring this up you ask?

uhm… because The PoDorGy is a book about affluenza. ¬†I mean.. it begins with Lord Henry spouting all kinds of nonsense: life should be spent having fun, he never worries about consequences, beautiful people shouldn’t answer to anyone, etc etc etc. ¬†He’s wealthy. ¬†He’s never answered for his actions. ¬†Definition to affluenza? ¬†I think so. ¬†Not a day has gone by in the novel before Lord Henry grabs (with greedy little hands) hold of Dorian’s gullible little mind. ¬†This young man is so easily influenced by Lord Henry’s words.. He’s nobility, right? ¬†I thought people are called nobility because they have the best genes… wouldn’t that imply that they have stronger will-power??? ¬†Maybe I’m mistaken.. we less fortunate people aren’t the brightest, you know. ¬†

Maybe Dorian isn’t influenced at all by Lord Henry. ¬†Maybe Lord Henry only speaks what Dorian already thinks. ¬†I mean… everyone says he’s handsome and charming… and that obviously implies he should get away with doing the worst things in the world.

We first meet the real Dorian Gray the night his first “love,” Sybil dies. ¬†And by the real Dorian Gray, I mean the disappointing douchebag he really is… of course, no one sees who he really is because he hides this side of himself.. and once he discovers that Basil’s painting displays this ugliness for the world to see, he hides the picture too. ¬†We discover that

This is who the world thinks Dorian is

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This is who Dorian thinks he is

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this is who Dorian REALLY is

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Unfortunately, the novel drags on and on about Dorian sneaking around doing drugs and breaking girls’ hearts and breaking boys’ hearts and still maintaining this air of being a Prince Charming. ¬†I think the scene that best describes Dorian Gray as a person is the scene when Sybil’s brother has finally found Dorian. ¬†They are in the slumiest of slums. ¬†Dorian is there to get high, and Sybil’s brother is drinking his sorrows away (dawg, this boy loved his sister, I tell you). ¬†When James hears the name “Prince Charming” he knows in his gut it’s the d**k who hurt his sister. ¬†So James follows Dorian, and attacks him. ¬†But in the midst of the attack, Dorian plays the age card like only Dorian Gray can… he says he’s cannot be the man Sybil Vane loved because he’s too young and that man should be 18 years older. ¬†James lets him go, since he never saw “Prince Charming” ‘s face… ¬†This scene made me SO MAD. ¬†

Anyway, in the end, this genius.. you know, of noble birth, kills himself. ¬†COME ON. ¬†The picture looks like the real you: it grows old for you, it rots like your soul for you… i.e. it is you. ¬†Why are you going to stab the picture? ¬†I wish I was born with such a noble brain with such noble logic. ¬†I would never have thought to stab the picture… to get RID OF GUILT… ¬†to continue doing wrong without guilt… Buddy, blame it on affluenza. ¬†It worked for Ethan. ¬†

Needless to say, I’ve ignored the artistically woven lesson Wilde has written. ¬†I’ve also ignored any important themes, symbolism, parallels to Wilde’s life, etc. ¬†But how can you read this book and not be angered by these people? ¬†These people who have nothing better to do with their lives than sit around and talk about bull s**t or ruin other peoples’ lives and don’t answer for their actions.. ¬†You know what these people need… they need jobs. ¬†They need to go out and work so that they have something better to do with their time.

Wilde..  I do not discredit your talent.  I received the message loud and clear.  In fact, I received several messages loud and clear.  Fortunately for the reputation of your story, Dorian Gray did not.