Sunday, June 28, 2015

The Music of the Fourth

For the fireworks operators, putting together a Fourth of July playlist seems to be old hat. You mix in some of the orchestral majesty of "Stars and Strips Forever," throw in "God Bless the USA" by Lee Greenwood, work in Louis Armstrong singing "What a Wonderful World" for class, then add in a pop song by the likes of Taylor Swift or Katy Perry to show your with the times, and call it a night.

But don't we deserve a little better? Aren't there are other worthy songs out there that deserve some shine? Indeed there are. Come on fireworks operators, let's step our game up. Here are some of my personal choices, and I'm sure there are many other worthy contenders.

1. Rick Derringer, "Real American" aka Hulk Hogan's theme song.

I'm just going to lay down my ace card--why the hell is this not song used in fireworks shows? By rights it should be our national anthem, but since it's not, let's give it some love elsewhere. There is simply nothing more American than the thought of Hulk Hogan cleaning the wrestling ring of bad guys while this song blares through the arena (preferably those commies Sgt. Slaughter (circa 1990-1991), Nikolai Volkoff, and the Iron Shiek), with the possible exception of Hulk Hogan shredding his bass guitar in front of exploding fireworks, as shown in the video.

Tuesday, June 23, 2015

Owning It

There's a famous line from the Kevin Smith film Clerks: "I'm not even supposed to be here today!" That's how I felt when strolling into my spot behind the teller line at the bank branch located inside of a Wal-Mart Supercenter. I wasn't supposed to be here. I wasn't supposed to be inside of a Wal-Mart--I hated Wal-Mart. The branch I had been working at, close to home with a great bunch of co-workers, wasn't supposed to close down. I was supposed to be home, with Abby, enjoying a Saturday, a perfect summer day. I wasn't supposed to be working when I had already worked the last two Saturdays.

I wasn't supposed to be, but I was there.

Worse, I had screwed up. A small pile of work awaited me, left behind from the night before--checks, deposit slips, loan payments. There wasn't much, sure, but every piece represented a transaction that wasn't processed for a customer. I hated making mistakes like that. It was embarrassing.

I slumped down in my chair and began the process of crediting customer accounts. I had done it many times before when other bankers had made the same mistake. For the most part, the errors would go unnoticed. Other than one account, the customers had healthy bank balances and a couple hundred bucks gone missing wouldn't have effected them over the night. As long as that one customer didn't notice, it would be smooth sailing.

Then the phone rang. About that one customer. . .

"Yeah, I just went through the checkout line and my blankety-blank card wouldn't work, so I couldn't get blankety-blank breakfast this morning. I know I put a blanking deposit in there and should've had plenty of blanking money in there and would you tell me what the blank is going on there? I'm through with this bank and I'm going to tell everyone I know what a bunch of idiots you all are."

Turns out he noticed.

My first instinct was to lie my ass off. It was easy enough. All I had to tell him was that something must have gone wrong in the back room, there's no telling what, and dang it, I'm as mad as you are about those idiots. The back office was a bunch of nameless, faceless people that he couldn't call and cuss at while I was living, breathing person that could be cussed at, and quite vehemently. So what if the backroom was innocent? They made terrific scapegoats. The words were right there; I only had to say them.

Rainbow Blog #5

One chapter today, which would be….
Chapter 12
*Roommate’s boyfriend appears and begs her to read him some of her fanfiction. Things are heating up indeed…
*Nick shows up later and he also got a bad grade on his assignment. Empathy occurs. UGH! This will only make Cath and Nick closer. We don’t want them closer.
*Roommate’s boyfriend “ran his fingers through his hair, making it stick up in the middle in sandy blond plumes.” Hmmm.
*But “(roommate’s boyfriend) wasn’t even that cute.” Uh-oh. I would kill for some italics here, because italics could change everything. You know, if Rainbow wrote he “wasn’t even that cute” it implies he’s cute, just not that cute. We can work not that cute. But the way it is written it implies he is not cute at all. Not sure we can work with that when my prediction is for Cath to end up with roommate's boyfriend.

*This will be the last one of these for a little while as I have a little project to work on for a bit...back with more soon though!

Monday, June 22, 2015

Rainbow Blog #4

Busy day today, yet I managed to read more than I planned so we'll make this one quick and dirty. These were workmanlike chapters, moving the story forward but not a lot of stuff to really go on tangents about.

Chapter 8
*Short chapter here, lots of talk about Nick's lips.

*Wren is on something called a Skinny Bitch diet. Good for her.

*Cath has gone boy crazy, apparently, but so far this has not resulted in her dating or doing anything freaky with boys. Which is OK, because that might make things a little awkward between Cath and me.

Cath wonders why the boys around her seem so different from those in high school, and wonders how it is possible that they have changed so much. They now have a "heaviness in their jaws" and their "chests (now) buttressed." I'll have to ask Abby if my chest buttresses. 

Chapter 9
*Cath is going back to Omaha to see her crazy and weird dad, but before that she decides to go get a Starbucks, which just so happens to be where roommate's boyfriends works. He gives her a Big thing happened there and really took their relationship to the next step.

*Stuff happens with her dad and he tells her to talk to her mom, and Cath gets way too mad about it. I feel like I don't even know Cath right now seeing the way she's taking this news.

Chapter 10
*Some stuff happens, but only 4 pages worth. On to chapter 11.

Chapter 11
*Cath fails a writing assignment for submitting a piece of fan fiction. I agree with the bad grade but disagree with the professor's contention that it is plagiarism. Using someone else' characters in new scenarios is not plagiarism. This major setback for Cath leads us to a moment where I realize I have no idea of what it means to be a freshman girl in college...

See, to take her mind off her bad grade, Cath decides to hold an "Emergency Kanye Party." This involves blaring Kanye West music while dancing on top of your bed. Apparently she used to do this with her sister, but since they're not getting along so well right now, she's going solo.

So yeah, I have no idea what's really going on here. And I wonder what Kanye tunes she's playing? His music isn't particularly...danceable. I can't imagine dancing to Kanye west music. Not really. I guess there is a Fangirl playlist out there so I'll have to see if any Kanye tunes made it. (Two did: "I Wonder" and "Paranoid".)

Of course, I can't really imagine myself dancing to any music. Nobody wants that.

As you can imagine, roommate's boyfriend happens along and joins in. They dance... together (although Rainbow is sure to tell us "not too closely or anything"). This is turning into quite the love triangle. Nick, Cath, and roommate's boyfriend.

After the Emergency Kanye Party there isn't much more I can say about this chapter, my mind was kind of blown after that. It ends with Cath dining with roommate's boyfriend, so this was a big chapter for my prediction.

But I don't really know what happened here. The Emergency Kanye Party was not something I had expected. It's going to take me a little time to digest it. Guys don't have Emergency Kanye Parties. But maybe freshman college girls do...? This was a tough chapter for me--it almost felt a little voyeuristic. As a guy, it was as if I was given access to a world in which I did not belong. Sure, roommate's boyfriend was allowed in, but he's super sensitive, and blond, and constantly waving his hair from his eyes. There is no hair being waved from my eyes.

But Emergency Kanye Parties might become a thing. I mean, people are holding Emergency Kanye Parties on Youtube.

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This is getting heavy.

Sunday, June 21, 2015

Rainbow Blog #3

Let's just jump right in. See the prior installments if you want to know what this is all about. And if you find out, let me know because I'm not quite sure what it's all about myself.

When last I wrote I had just finished up chapter 5. Hey, you know what comes after chapter 5? That’s right: chapter 6. Here we go.
Chapter 6
*Things are moving fast in the Nick-Cath relationship. Matter of fact Nick is doing a full-on Tom Cruise right now: “His eyes were set so deep, it made everything he said more intense.” If that doesn't sound like a Tom Cruise description than I don't know what does.
*Cath and Nick got an A on their group assignment. And now they’re going to be writing together…for fun. Hot and heavy indeed.
*Something’s going on with Cath’s twin sister Wren, but both Cath and myself are a little in the dark as to what.
*Hey, there’s a Husker game going on in the background during this chapter. I love the little references to local stuff like that. In a prior chapter, there was a mention of Valentino’s and I was all "hey, Valentino's, yeah!" I'm really looking forward to the first Runza mention.

There better be a Runza mention.
*All right, Cath goes out with her roommate and roommate’s boyfriend. Keep it on the back burner with this guy, Cath, and prove me right…you are supposed to end up with roommate's boyfriend!
*Cath is not calling her sister Wren and I have a feeling she is going to really regret that. Where did this come from? Seems kind of out nowhere for Wren to flake out in the way I think she is flaking out.
Or maybe it’s nothing. On to chapter 7.

Hey, here it is already--chapter 7! The bankruptcy chapter. (Lame little banker's joke for you there.)
Chapter 7
*I don’t know if I mentioned this, but Cath technically already has a boyfriend, Abel. But see, I knew early on that they weren’t going to last much longer, so I didn’t think it was worth mentioning. And yeah, they just broke up. See? He wasn't worth mentioning. Screw that guy.
*One of the justifications ex-boyfriend uses for the breakup is because her ACT score was 2 points lower than his new girl. Well, points for creativity…and points for douchebaggery.
*Rainbow, accurately, portrays text messages as not using proper capitalization and so forth. Am I one of the few people that try to be grammatically correct in texts? Well, as best I can anyway…
*OK, Cath and her sister are hanging out—false alarm.
I think.
*Cath thinks about both roommate’s boyfriend and Nick when they talk about love. This one might go all the way to the finish. She could end up with either one of them now and I would buy it.
*Uh-oh, roommate’s boyfriend is kind of macking on Cath’s sister Wren. Identical twin sister Wren. Hmmm. Not sure what that means. Perhaps all will be revealed in chapter 8...but probably not, we've got a long way to go.

Saturday, June 20, 2015

Rainbow Blog #2

Ready to get owned Lincoln?
All right, on to chapter 5 of my reading of Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl. This is the first chapter I am doing after coming up with this idea…the previous four were done after the fact. So these are my thoughts as I read!
Chapter 5
-Good news, roommate’s boyfriend is back! And he’s alone, with Cath, in their room. And she’s sharing her food with him. Feeling much better about the chances of him ending up with Cath now.
-Cath and her roommate are making fun of people in the dorm dining room. They really need to stop being so unlikable if I am going to like them.
-Cath wonders how old roommate’s boyfriend is, but she’s also examining his receding hairline awfully close. She is clearly into him, but maybe not end of the book into him. I could be wrong about them being together at the end…

Friday, June 19, 2015

Rainbow Blog #1

For those not aware, Rainbow Rowell is an Omaha author who is freaking huge right now. How huge? Like they are making a major movie out of one of her books huge.

That's pretty huge.

I find this pretty awesome. Local writer makes good. What's not to love? Yet as big as she is, and as cool as that is, I have yet to read any of her books. I mean, I'm not her target audience, right? Her niche (a rather large niche) is that she understands females, particularly young adult females.

I am not one of those.

But I did follow her work in the Omaha World-Herald as a columnist. Rainbow is somewhat of a controversial figure in the circles I run with, for some reason, but personally I found her columns entertaining, particularly her exploits deep into geekdom, with stories about sampling the butter beer at Universal Studios or thoughts on the latest Star Wars film. It was a nice break from some of the other, more serious columns the paper runs (i.e. boring). 

Still, her column wasn’t for everyone. In fact, I have had actual arguments with people about whether or not Rainbow Rowell is a good writer. These arguments were silly because of course she is a good writer. The fact that you don’t like someone’s columns does not make them a poor writer. There's no denying that she was a good columnist.

But is she a good novelist? Well, tons of people like her, so…probably? Art is subjective. One man's trash, another's treasure and so forth. Of course, her target audience is primarily teenage and "young adult" girls. In other words, not me. Still, I'm curious. What does she have that I don't have? Why is she so successful when I'm so...not.

I don't know, and probably never will, but I'm going to give one of her books a read and figure it out!  (I am guessing it has something to do with the fact that she gets a segment of people, in this case those above mentioned girls, and I don't really get anybody, including myself.)

I decided to start with Fangirl, mainly because it was her latest release on the day I purchased it. Like most readers, I have a stack of to read books. Finally, this one came up. Then a thought occurred to me.

That thought? Simple: wouldn't it be funny if I kept a diary of sorts with random thoughts I experience while I read Fangirl? Sure it would. So here goes nothing, starting with the first four chapters. These are going to be pretty much stream of consciousness, so there's a good chance it will be terrible. Oh well. 

After planning on calling it Rainbow Diaries, it seems to me that Rainbow Blog sounds better--kind of reminds one of Rainbow Brite, no?


Anyway, here we go. For those unfamiliar with Fangirl--like me, really--before I start here's a preview from our evil friends at Amazon. 
At first glance Rainbow Rowell’s Fangirl has a lot in common with Eleanor & Park: idiosyncratic girl with troubled family meets good, normal boy and falls in love for the first time. But this is why Rowell is so talented--from the same basic ingredients she can create something new and special. In Fangirl, quirky introvert, Cath, is safe within the immensely popular Simon Snow (think Harry Potter) fan-fiction blog she writes with her twin sister, but college turns her life upside down, leaving her feeling like an awkward outsider. When she writes, Cath knows exactly what her characters should say to each other, but when it comes to forging real-life friendships, much less a romance, she hasn’t a clue. An immensely satisfying coming-of-age novel, Fangirl deftly captures the experience of discovering your true voice and clumsy, vulnerable, remarkable, first love.
Chapter One
The name of the dormitory is Pound Hall. That seems…dirty. Is this symbolism?

Page 9 and we’ve got a Soylent Green reference. If it was me, I would have explained what Soylent Green is seeing as it is an old Charlton Heston movie from the early 70s that most of her target audience will not be familiar with. But Rainbow doesn’t, and you know what, I respect that.

For the record, I love post-apocalyptic Charlton Heston movies from the late 60s and early 70s. I’d rate them Planet of the Apes, The Omega Man, Soylent Green, and finally, Beneath the Planet of the Apes as a distant fourth.

Tthe Soylent Green reference has expanded to the main character's dad making a crack about his daughter Cath potentially eating an eyelid (for those who don't know Soylent Green, google search Soylent Green is People!!!). Eyelid one threw me for a loop—I think I would’ve went for a finger or something. An eyelid seems kind of random.

So far, the only character I like is dad (single father, widower, not ashamed to be a little cheesy). But, he's dropped his daughters off at school and now he's gone. On to chapter two.