I had an idea for this post. It was a good one. But I lost it. And I’m too wiped out from my week at work to think of another. So instead, I will show the things that amused me during this ridiculously exhausting week.

Someone gave him an orange peanut
Someone gave him an orange peanut

Some weeks ago, someone posted a Bad Lip Reading video. While it’s not high art, it’s still funny. There’s not a thing wrong with a bit of low-brow comedy now and again. There are a few Twilight videos, Hunger Games, presidential debates, and even the inauguration. I still haven’t decided how I feel about that; I find it funny, and slightly offensive.  The one that has gotten the most press lately, though, is this one. It doesn’t require much thought, and it’s amusing. And Adrian Peterson signed an orange peanut. As far as I’m concerned, that makes him cool. In the series of pictures on the source website, he looks like he’s familiar with the video, even though it’s only been out a little over a week.

The scary thing, though, is if it gets big enough, it will start showing up in movies and television shows. There will be reference made to it, to attract a younger, hipper audience, and in five years time, the references will make no sense whatsoever. It’s like old Looney Tunes cartoons. By the time I was watching them on Saturday mornings – you know, back when cartoon violence was still allowed on TV – there were some that made little sense to me until my mother explained the references. She didn’t explain all the references, of course. Bugs Bunny was never blue, per se, but it was meant to entertain children AND adults back in the day, and there were things she just wasn’t ready to explain.

Still, it’s pretty cool that he signed a large, orange peanut, inspired by a silly video.

Oh, and the creator of Bad Lip Reading is apparently also involved in Epic Rap Battles, which are also very popular. Snoop Dogg is in one. No, not someone pretending to be him, but someone who actually is Snoop Dogg. Or was he Snoop Lion by then? Does he even remember he did that? Whatever, his problem.

GWRB 04Y’know what? There’s more stuff. Plenty of things that entertained me this week. There were articles on Cracked.com, posts on Facebook, and a return to a site someone had shown me earlier that was great for just mindlessly killing time. I’d suggest leaving the option at Gravity Wells, and tethered. Magnetic repulsion is boring. Be sure to hit F11 to get a full screen. Sorry, doesn’t seem to work on mobile devices.

Basically, after this week, I needed diversions. I needed a lot of them. I did watch the inauguration, and I did rejoice. And if you didn’t, well, that’s your prerogative. Everyone is entitled to their own opinions. It’d be a really boring and creatively, scientifically, economically, and socially stagnant world if we all thought the same all the time. Try not to let the tragedies and horrors of this world get you down. Just find something that will make you smile, and run with it.

Now I’m going to go hit F11 and play for a little bit.

I Hope You Dance

I don't know who took this.I know only that it's perfect.
I don’t know who took this.
I know only that it’s perfect.

I hope you never lose your sense of wonder. You get your fill to eat, but always keep that hunger. May you never take one single breath for granted. God forbid love ever leave you empty-handed. I hope you still feel small when you stand beside the ocean. Whenever one door closes, I hope that one more opens. Promise me that you’ll give faith a fighting chance. And when you get the choice to sit it out or dance…I hope you dance!

– Songwriters: Sanders, Mark D.; Sillers, Tia

I’m not a country-music fan. There’s nothing wrong with it, it’s just not music I care for. I do hear songs now and again that are classed as country that I like, because good music is good music, but I wouldn’t be able to spend my day listening to a country-music station. Okay, let’s be honest, this is only considered country because of the artist, and maybe the slide guitar in the background. It’s pop. The message, though, that’s fantastic. If I were more musically-creative or adventurous, I might try to put the lyrics to different music. I’m not that person. And I’m okay with that. Less okay than some people would be, I mean, I do have a degree in music for crying out loud, I should have some creative ability, but apparently, I just don’t, not even to really ornament a vocal piece, although I’ve gotten a lot better at that over the years, spontaneous creation in music just isn’t something I was really exposed to or practiced, but I can speak extemporaneously on nearly any subject even when I don’t know what I’m talking about, which is more often than it seems, and I could do improv on the streets no problem…

Right, the point. Sorry.

The lyrics in this song are about taking chances, about believing in yourself. And while the writer may have intended “faith” to mean faith in a higher power, I don’t see it that way. To me, it’s faith in yourself, faith in your own abilities. And it’s something I’ve had cause to question in myself for a lot of years.

I never really had the support of my parents in my artistic endeavors. They’d show up to my concerts, which is more than some parents would do, especially divorced ones, and take me to rehearsals. My father even came to my senior concert in college, full of music he didn’t care for. That was cool. My mother couldn’t, otherwise, she’d have been there, too. So as far as that goes, yes, I did have their support. But it didn’t go beyond that. And maybe that would have been fine, too, except the support went the opposite direction from my mother.

I won’t get into the details – I don’t like talking about it, makes me feel like I’m whining, but her words did have a HUGE impact on how I felt about my singing. Even when I did finally decide on a music major in college, and earlier in high school when I decided to really work on my vocals, her words stayed with me and held me back. Sure, you could say I “let” her hold me back, and you’d be correct to an extent. But c’mon, the opinion of a parent is far more powerful than just about anyone else’s. I’m lucky  my parents loved me, otherwise, I’d probably be in worse shape.

Mom’s parents weren’t supportive of her music, either. She decided at some point that she wanted to learn to play the clarinet. Her parents weren’t going to buy her one, or pay for lessons, or even take her to lessons. Growing up in rural Indiana, it would seem something that she would just have to give up, try later in life. But no, she found a way to get a clarinet, found someone to give her lessons, and found a way to get there. She was determined. She played in college, too, making 2nd chair at Purdue University in their wind ensemble/marching band, at a time when women weren’t allowed to march. During the marching band season, she couldn’t play. She played the opening in Gershwin’s “Rhapsody in Blue” in concert while she was in that band. Unfortunately, she failed out of college (as I almost did, and for about the same reasons), so she didn’t get to go any further.

Because of her experiences, she grew up believing that if you really wanted something, you’d do just about anything to get it, even if everyone was against you. And that’s true, that’s absolutely true. But it’s also true that people are different, and some are more independent than others. It’s true that two people with the same upbringing can react differently, flourishing in spite of it, or crumbling under it. And it’s also true that if your parent constantly tells you how inferior you are musically, constantly criticizes your voice and ability, well, it’s kind of hard to want to go for it. She was very critical of me, my mother was, and not just in music. And maybe if I’d been a different person, maybe if I’d had different experiences in my life from other areas, I’d have gone for it anyway, and I’d be a famous vocalist of some sort. Maybe I’d be headlining at the Met, or at least Cincinnati Opera (which is not really a step down), for all I know. Or maybe I was never going to get beyond the chorus in some smaller town like Middletown. What I do know is I barely had the courage to try. It took forever to convince my mother to allow me to audition at my eventual high school. My brother had started there in the 4th grade. It did make high school the best four years of my life. It’s not the place it used to be, but there are people trying to make it so.

I just like this one. It was fun to shoot.
I just like this one. It was fun to shoot.

Music wasn’t my only driving passion. I wanted to go to Broadway and try and make it there. I was told I didn’t have the hunger. By my mother. I was told I didn’t have the talent. By my mother. I was told I’d never make it, and I was wasting my time. By my mother. And I believed her. I wanted to write, become a journalist like my grandmother. No, I don’t write well enough to do that. I thought maybe photography was my game. No, you’re only okay, your photographs are nothing special. Keep it as a hobby. You’re smart – focus on your academics. Go into business. Be a manager. Try to be a CEO. Start a company. Do something sensible, instead of trying to be artistic all the time. It’s too hard to do anything artistic for a living, and you’re not good enough in anything. Don’t waste your time.

I wasted a lot of years trying to figure out what I wanted to do and who I wanted to be. I spent a lot of years trying to overcome things my mother said to me. I still have some work to do, and some things to accept. I’m never going to be a famous singer. I don’t have the discipline. I had voice teachers try to ingrain that in me, but I wasn’t ready to listen. It’s highly unlikely I’m going to be a famous artist of any sort, now. Not impossible, not until I’m dead, but highly unlikely.

So how does that all relate to this song? Well, I might not be able to follow my dreams anymore, not the ones of my youth, but I can make new ones and follow them. Lucille Ball was in her 40s when I Love Lucy finally hit the airwaves. Colonel Sanders was retirement age, and had experienced many failures when Kentucky Fried Chicken took off. I can make new dreams. But I can’t do anything with them if I don’t take the chance. If I don’t dance.

Fun With Words

Reading posts from my friends on Facebook, I sometimes find interesting links and stories. I sometimes find fun things to do, or fun things to play with. I sometimes find things that are a little disturbing.

Writing analysis
I Write Like…

This one’s fun, I think. “I Write Like” is an engine that compares your writing sample to various famous authors, and tells you which one your writing most resembles. Since I’m sitting home sick today, and making weird typos like crazy (apparently, when I’m sick, I get dyslexic – probably am, anyway, based on some other problems I have with words), but I’m also bored and able to sit up for maybe an hour before I have to go lie back down, I figured I’d make a post all about that.

Isn’t that exciting? No? Oh. Sorry. I’m doing it anyway.

I don’t have many posts in this particular blog, so I’ve had to resort to using my previous blog on Blogger.

Cat Food and Tampons – this was the draft of a short story that I never finished. I mean to. I mean to do a lot more creative writing. But I have trouble maintaining a plot. Yes, I know all the tricks. They don’t seem to work for me. I think it’s more of a confidence thing than anything else. Yeah, I know a bit more now than I did in my teens and twenties. The title was a random suggestion from a friend, years ago. I hadn’t figured out how to work it in, so it’s really just a working title.

So…who does this remind the analyzer of?

I write like
H. P. Lovecraft

I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

Pretty cool, huh? Yeah, I was impressed. Made me think maybe I need to pull it back out and see if I can flesh it out a bit more.

Then there’s this short piece, about driving here in Cincinnati, The Right Lane is a Lie.

I write like
Stephen King

I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

Sweeeet! I actually got this same badge on a couple other posts I wrote, in that original blog and this one.

Okay, one more. I wrote a series on Love last September that I was a little proud of. So, I checked the first of the four posts, simply titled “Love,” and got this:

I write like
Gertrude Stein

I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

Seriously cool.

Alright, one more. This time, from this piece, “The Abyss,” about severe depression.

I write like
Margaret Atwood

I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

Once again, sweeeet!

I tried a few others and got responses I didn’t like – “It Didn’t End” got Dan Brown, of “The DaVinci Code” (misdirected) fame – and a few that I just didn’t recognize, but it was still interesting to see how it all came out. And the analyzer is consistent; I checked all these a second time, and got the same responses. It’s not so random as I’d have thought. And, of course, I do realize this is just an analysis of writing style, not writing quality, but c’mon, a little ego stroke now and again isn’t so bad.

Man in the Looking Glass

It’s Sunday morning. Generally, I have church during the fall and winter. I wasn’t feeling well Saturday morning, and I desperately needed a day off (January and February are hard for me), so I didn’t sing this morning, and I didn’t go to our choir retreat yesterday. I feel a little guilty about that, but my throat hurts. Singing with a sore throat is a good way to lose your voice.

CharlesOsgood CBS Sunday MorningBefore I go to choir, I watch CBS Sunday Morning. It’s a habit I got into years ago, when Charles Kurault still hosted. I turned it on by accident one morning, when I was up. I wasn’t a frequent watcher, not a regular one, not at first. But the stories were always so well-done, the tone so peaceful, it was hard to stay away. In a world where the news was becoming more and more aggressive and accusatory, where cable news channels were spewing all sorts of half-truths, so that the networks began following suit just to get viewers (Fox…but all of them, really). The news was no longer informative – it had become aggressive, hard-biting, and full of half-truths. CBS Sunday morning didn’t seem to be following suit. They reported the news.

Up_Neil_7_56_x_620x350
Reel life: The mesmerizing saga of “56 Up”

Because the show is on Sunday morning, and because it precedes political shows (I really miss Tim Russert), it’s softer. It’s news, still, and if something major happens, you will hear about it there, but you’ll hear more than the sound bites. You’ll hear the other stories, the ones that don’t get shown on CNN or ABC Nightly News. They don’t have the time to spend on it. They have to get their headline out, and move on. That is one thing newspapers offered that television news can’t. You can get that news online, too, but you have to tread carefully. As noted before, news organizations can lie if they want to. Make sure your source is trustworthy. I, for instance, tend toward the left, politically. I do not rely on “Move On.org” or “Mother Jones,” or other sites like that for my news. I will read their headlines, then I will try to find the video or actual news story, so I can find out what actually happened. Sad to say, I get more accurate news from “The Daily Show” and “The Colbert Report,” comedy shows, than I do from the regular news. And it’s funnier.

CBS Sunday Morning is, to me, the one place of solace, where I can get my Sunday morning newspaper with video and sound. It starts with the headlines, of course, but then it comes up with its own. The reporters include brilliant, conservative, Economist Ben Stein (who is more famous for his role in Ferris Bueller’s Day Off), comic Bill Geist and Mo Rocca, and Nancy Giles, who is sort of a comic, sort of not. She’s more like an Erma Bombeck, but with a really cool ‘fro. They show the news that the other organizations won’t. They are the lifestyle section of the newspaper. They’re the comic section. They’re the finance section. They’re the political section.

Because I have to be at choir by 10:15, I don’t get to watch the entire first hour. My director gives you a “look” if you’re late too often. He had mellowed quite a bit, true, but he can still get a bit snippy. But then again, I’ve yet to meet a director as brilliant as he who doesn’t. And he really is good. What that means, though, is I generally miss the last half hour of the show. And it saddens me a bit. The last minute or so, we are treated to scenes of nature in this great country of ours. Peaceful moments that help set your day on the right foot. ABC Evening News ends on a positive note these days, too. Took long enough.

It's worse in color...
It’s worse in color…

Today, because I wasn’t feeling well, I didn’t sing this morning. I slept. Quite late, actually, but that’s in part because of a neighbor who suddenly decided to play his music loud all night. But that’s another story. This morning, I caught the last half hour. Tomorrow is the host’s birthday; Charles Osgood will be 80 tomorrow. So today, he did something he does occasionally – he treated us to a song. Today’s song was “Man in the Looking Glass.” Hit me like a ton of bricks. This aging thing sucks. I look in the mirror and some middle-aged woman looks back. There are streaks – even clumps – of silver in her hair. The years of smiles (and a bit of extra weight) have left parentheses around her mouth and little lines radiating from the sides of her eyes. I’ll be honest – it’s not too bad. Neither of my parents looked their ages. But it ain’t 20, either.

The silver is multiplying, but it’s silver, not grey. I’m leaving it alone, hoping that I gray like my father’s side of the family, like Nichelle Nicols. I’ d be a fool to mess with that – it’s gorgeous. And Any day now, I’m going to go back to a weight-loss thing, although I’ll never be as thin as I was in Colorado. Looking at pictures, that’s not a bad thing. There was a point where I was too thin, and it showed in my face, the hollows under my eyes, the neck looking too small to hold up my head. It was nice from the neck down, but it was still nice with 10 more pounds, so I ain’t worried. Besides – as we get older, we need to carry a little fat. A little padding helps protect bones that aren’t as strong as they used to be, and covers up areas that tend to need fat to look appealing (cheeks – the ones on your face AND the other ones, neck, eyes, stuff like that).

No, I’m not trying to talk myself out of exercising or losing weight. I’m really horribly overweight. Like, unhealthy overweight, not just aesthetically overweight. So I do need to do something about it. That’s one of those other fun things about aging. I’ve lost 100 lbs before. I took my time, did it over the course of a year, even though I could have lost it faster, and kept it off for several years. I can’t do that again, not the way I did it, and not that amount, for myriad reasons, but I can definitely be thinner. It’ll take longer, though…that whole ‘not 20 anymore” thing will make it more difficult.

Mostly, I just have to get in the mindset, first, and remind myself I’ve done it before. My knees will thank me when I do.

It Didn’t End

Well, here we are, 2013. The world was supposed to end on December 21st, but it didn’t. I know there are people who are disappointed, people who got rid of all their worldly possessions in preparation of a world-ending meteor or sudden nuclear war,  or a host of angels flying down and smoting to their hearts’ content.

So now what? Well, if you’re triskadekaphobic, you’re gonna have a rough time this year. Your dates, when written in full, will always end with 13, and both September and and December have a Friday the 13th, which could be bad if you’re a Templar Knight. Although, really, it’s only October 13 that’s bad for them.

On the other hand, if you’re a triskadekaphiliac, well, that’s a whole ‘nuther story. Lots of cool things with 2013 in store. The numbers in the year can be arranged to make a natural sequence (0123), for instance. Lots more at that website I linked. I mean, it’s not so good if you’re having an OCD moment, because it takes a while to get to 13 (not to make light; I’ve got a few compulsions myself. I’m just lucky enough that I can still function with them), but if you can handle it without obsessing, there’s lots of cool stuff in store for 2013.

Okay, look…last year, well, maybe it wasn’t so good for you. Overall, it was good for me. I started off the year living off the generosity of family and friends, and I’m ending it with paying my own bills, and finally replacing my point-and-shoot with a DSLR. It’s just a T3i, nothing spectacular, but what I can do with it, ah. Don’t get me wrong…I love my SX120. It takes excellent pictures. But I’ve done all I could with it. Now, I eagerly await spring, and the blooms of the magnolia trees, so I can really see what I can do.

What do I see for myself in this new year? Further growth, further change, further challenges. The challenges I’m not looking forward to – some of them are pretty big. But no matter what, it does help you appreciate the good more, when you deal with the bad.

 

So Happy New Year to you. May you find the joy in the small, the challenges that help you grow, and the beauty of the world around you.

WeVerb12 – 4th and Final

The end is nigh. The year ends in less than 2 hours, and I’m exhausted. I haven’t felt well for days. I was grateful for my short commute, because I might have dozed off at a stop light if I had to drive any further. I did doze off at work several times today, sitting at my desk, typing. Even caught myself starting to snore once.

I’d love to know why I’m so tired, but I think that’s going to remain a mystery for a little while longer. There’s no fever, and my throat is raw only in the morning, which pretty common for me in the winter. I know part of it is my mood. This time of year, this season, is hard for me. Always has been. The lack of sunlight affects me more than it affects the average person, it seems. I kept meaning to try and buy a plant light – a full-spectrum bulb. It helped so much years ago when I used it in the morning, I figured it would help again. I didn’t really need it in Colorado. Three hundred days of sunlight, AND it’s in the proper time zone (seems to me we should be in Central, here), so even though it’s almost the same latitude, I rarely had a huge issue with the lack of sunlight.

So…as I said, I will finish the WeVerb project. It has been interesting. It’s been difficult at times, but it’s definitely been interesting. Sorry, these last few questions are a bit more personal or more difficult to answer with any sort of length. For some, it’s because my memory has always been a bit like a steel sieve. I can thank some lovely bits of my past for that. For others, it’s because the answers are too personal to share here. For still others, I can’t pick just one, or even two, events/things/situations that answer the question.

I hope 2013 is better than you expect. There will be low times. There will be high times. Maybe you learn from the low, and celebrate the high, hmm?

21: read [LIVE]: Did you read a book this year that left you craving more when it was over?

Yes, I read several. Some for the 2nd or 3rd time.

2012-12-26 Snow At Last 005asm
“…Rage, rage against the dying of the light….” – Dylan Thomas

22: recharge [CREATE]: What did you do to recharge your batteries in 2012?

Go out with my camera and shoot. Go to the library and find new books to read. Read the stories on Cracked.com. Entertaining AND educational. No, seriously, you can actually learn stuff from that site. Just like The Daily Show and The Colbert Report, you laugh, but you learn. Then maybe you research, and separate the fact from the fiction.

23: communicate [LISTEN] Describe a conversation that you had this year. Why was it memorable?

No. That conversation was very personal. It was very important, and it was moderated, and it was necessary. There’s another conversation I had fairly recently that I can’t talk about either. It was also very important, but it made me so happy. I still smile.

24: delight [HOPE]: How can you bring more joy into your life in 2013?

I don’t know, yet. Right now, I’m working on just being able to function.

25: give [CREATE]: What was the best gift you gave someone this year?

You’d have to ask them. I have gifts that I was happy to give, but the decision of whether it was the best gift I gave, well, that’s up to the receiver.

26: chronicle [LIVE]: Did you have a perfect day this year? Describe it. Would you have changed anything about it?

Hmm. No. I had some pretty spectacular ones, though. Like my birthday. Well, not my actual birthday, that was pretty nondescript. But the party I had for my birthday, that was very cool. People I hadn’t seen in years – in decades – came to celebrate with me. Plus, it was very important – I turned 42. No, I’m not ashamed of my age. I have learned lots of stuff, and because I’m not 22, people take me a bit more seriously.

27: sacrifice [GROW]: What did you, as an individual, let go of to further the greater good this year?

I had a bit of bitterness and anger of my own I had to let go. It was serving no purpose, other than dividing me from people who do care, even if they don’t always show it the way I’d like. I had to recognize that people are individuals. Just because someone doesn’t respond the way I do, or I’d like (because I don’t often respond the way I’d like, either), that doesn’t mean they don’t care. That doesn’t mean they don’t love. Oh, the feeling of peace that washed over me…it was bliss.

28: empower [HOPE]: What made you feel powerful in 2012?

Nothing I can think of. I have some tools that can grant me some power, but I’ve been essentially powerless for so long, it’s hard to use them. For instance – there’s a lot of power when you’re holding a camera. There really is, you’d be surprised. But I haven’t used it yet. Maybe a little, at Balluminaria, when I lingered a bit longer than I was supposed to. But that’s about it.

29: connect [LIVE]: With whom did you make the most worthwhile connections in 2012?

How could I possibly pick one? I’ve made several worthwhile connections, and reconnections, each with its own merit. None stick out more than others, really. It’s not often I make significant connections in my life. I’m a bit of an introvert, and when I’m on a downward cycle, I’m a homebody, too.

My favorite - it's not perfect, but it's still beautiful.
My favorite – it’s not perfect, but it’s still beautiful.

30: capture [LISTEN]: Post a picture taken of you or by you this year when you were happy.

There are pictures of me when I’m happy. I love the memories if not the pictures. There are pictures I took when I was at peace, and pictures that give me peace when I look at them. I suppose if I had to choose, though, it would be one of my magnolia shots from this March. They bloomed early this year, because of the mild winter. A winter that has been starting later, ending sooner, and being warmer than it is supposed to for several years, now.

31: aspire [GROW]: What is your biggest aspiration for 2013?

That’s easy – I aspire to do more than just “function.”