Fur-Ever-Alone (Music Video Analysis: “I Steal Pets”)

“Cause I steal pets from the popular people

And then dress the pets up like the popular people

I steal pets from the popular people

And hide them all in a shed!”

–  Rachel Bloom, “I Steal Pets”

 

There are people who, somewhere in the world at some point in time, designed the soap dispenser in my house so it shoots straight onto my newly dried shirt instead of downward into my hand.

They are terrible people.

What does that have to do with my post today? Well, nothing, except that it demonstrates how many different people see different creations as “good.”

Which is an excellent segue to a music video I want to discuss today.

This one hit the internet back in May 2011, just a few meager months after Rebecca Black’s “Friday.” It is indeed an official video; the song can be bought on iTunes if you have 99 cents to get rid of. Its name is “I Steal Pets,” sung by Rachel Bloom.

Now, relax, I’m not about to advocate for pet-stealing or anything…I don’t know how common of an issue this is, but I would fully recommend acquiring your own animal friends rather than borrowing other peoples’.

That being said, let’s analyze this piece of work.

It starts off promising enough…the singer, Rachel, is looking at the camera while an electric beat plays.

The initial lyrics aren’t anything alarming. She sings about how school is boring and she’ll be “hanging with her friends.” What’s more, it even rhymes! Stop the presses!

Rachel continues on how she’s going to have karaoke, pillow fights, and loud music playing with all of her friends (which, as she specifically points out, she has many).

Then…the decline.

Cause I steal pets from the popular people

And then dress the pets up like the popular people

I steal pets from the popular people

And hide them all in a shed!”

Wow.

Well, at least that clears up the song’s title, right?

At this point in the song, I had several questions. Why would you steal pets, least of all from popular people? And KEEP them?

Initially, I thought it was in revenge. But no, in the next shot depicting her reading a magazine alongside a lizard, we realize the terrible truth she’s been insinuating: the reason she steals pets from popular people and dresses them up is so she can hang out with said pets.

Which, in case you were wondering, is a psychological illness known as Delusional Disorder.

 

After another verse and repeat of the refrain, she shouts, “Take it, Cuddles!” and a dog wearing sunglasses barks up a beat.

Finally the interlude ends, and she resumes singing. Now it’s a much more mellow, somber tone, and her eyes are creepily lined in red.

It’s the seventh grade dance in the shed tonight

And I’m the life of it all

Cats and dogs all movin’ with me

We’re having such a ball.”

Now it gets horrific.

I start slow dancing

With Greg Mandison’s Terrier mix.”

She picks up the dog in her arms and is moving back and forth, the animal’s head resting on her shoulders. The spotlight is on them.

He’s wearing a suit and he has Greg’s eyes

Suddenly…we kiss!”

AAAAAHHHH!

This dog does indeed lick her on the lips, and she kisses back. It’s a full-on liplock between her and a flea-bitten animal.

 

WHY? WHY ARE YOU DOING THIS, SINGER? YOU ENJOY HANGING OUT WITH ANIMALS, AND YOU THINK THEY’RE YOUR FRIENDS! SEEK THERAPY IMMEDIATELY!

Now she continues with the refrain while she and her ‘boyfriend’ are crowned Prom king and queen.

WHAT?

At this point, she’s pretty much done, but we do see one last clip of her reaching around her and pulling the pets in close.

She’s also mouthing all of them are mine repeatedly, staring at us with her eyes wide.

The only thing that saves this video is the fact that, as I learned soon after watching it, the song was intended to be bad on purpose.

The problem here isn’t the fact that this video was a joke. The problem is how readily we believed that it wasn’t.

Or maybe it was just me. Who knows? I still can’t even figure out who closes the doors of the bus when the driver gets off.

 

As always, much thanks for reading. And please rate below! I love feedback, bad and good.

And if you’re feeling REALLY generous, you could follow my blog via email with the little button under the archives. I won’t steal your pets, I promise.

Movie Review: Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince

“Why is it, whenever something happens, it is always you three?” 

“Believe me, professor, I’ve been asking myself the same question for six years.”

 –  Professor McGonagall and Ron Weasley

When Warner Bros announced in August 2008 that they were moving the release date of the sixth Harry Potter movie from November to July of the next year, I snapped into a nerd freakout rampage. Pushing back the finished movie by nine months seemed like a betrayal, and filling its slot with Twilight was just insult to injury.

But, it turned out for the best, because the new release date meant I could see the movie with my best friend (who introduced me to the series) on July 16th, the day before he moved away. Then I got to see it again three days later with my closest middle school friends.

Anyway. When I did see the movie, I was blown away. Everything was done right…the effects were their usual greatness, the acting was pristine, and the soundtrack to this particular movie was perfection.

[Spoilers ahead, if you’ve been living under a rock and don’t know the story]

The opening scene (in which Harry is walking past the reporters and hearing Bellatrix’s laugh) is a perfect example of why I think this movie is better than the others: because the filmmakers added their own creative touch to the story, and did a beautiful job with it. The same goes for the next scene, a stunning visual of Death Eaters flying through London and destroying the Millennium Bridge.

There are only a handful of parts I enjoyed more. Snape making the Unbreakable Vow is something I thought they wouldn’t be able to make more perfect than as it was in the books, but they did. Mostly due to the actors, in my opinion…Alan Rickman and Helena Bonham Carter are equally mesmerizing.

Furthermore, this was the first movie featuring a Quidditch match that didn’t give me the urge to take a three hour nap.

Following that is a beautiful scene with beautiful music, a nice bit of dialogue between Harry and Hermione to add to the emotion. Perfect, guys.

Next: I thought the Sectumsempra bit was done really well. The filmmakers turned it into more of an action chase than just a flat-out duel, and it kept the movie exciting. The sight of Malfoy on the floor, covered in blood, was exactly as we’d pictured it.

Speaking of which, the sub-plot with Malfoy’s mission was much better than in the book, in my opinion, because the filmmakers could actually show him working in the Room of Requirement rather than just telling us Harry’s suspicions of what he was doing. And, while we’re mentioning the Room of Requirement, I was actually pleased with how they depicted Harry and Ginny’s kiss. It was a Harry Potter-ish kind of romance, plus it was accompanied (once again) with a perfect soundtrack.

But if none of the above made you love this movie, then the ending is a very good contender for swinging you. The pure epicness of the waves crashing next to the Horcrux Cave, and the brilliant ring of fire, is clockwork.

Yet still none of them top the height of the movie, the moment when Snape says the two words we’ve been waiting for since 2005. Dumbledore’s death is pure essence of the pages brought to life.

Then it wraps up with all the right things. Snape’s walk from Hogwarts is hasty but controlled. His duel with Harry is brief but intense. Bellatrix destroys the Great Hall, a perfect addition to the movie, I think.

I might offend a few diehard fans here, but I believe the filmmakers were wise in leaving out Dumbledore’s funeral. The abrupt ending is just what the movie needed…plus, come on. Who didn’t LOVE the scene where every student and teacher is raising their wands in tribute?

 

In summary, this movie might not have been the strictest adaption from book to screen (I’ll talk about Deathly Hallows soon) but I believe it to be the most enjoyable of the films. The humor really added to the experience, and the emotionally powerful moments carried by brilliant actors round it off as near perfection.

Rate: 9 out of 10.

On Writing: Mapping Out a Story

“The worst enemy to creativity is self-doubt.”

 –  Sylvia Plath

 

Starting a novel.

It really isn’t difficult. Writing a book isn’t hard…it’s writing a good book that’s the kicker.

But here’s something I keep in mind: if you’re writing this for yourself, then it doesn’t matter if it’s terrible. And even if you’re writing to impress and become the most awesome kid in the school (good luck with that one) or maybe, just maybe, get published…well, in that case, revision exists for a reason. As someone who’s been revising their own manuscript for close to four years, I can say you won’t be able to escape it, no matter how perfect you think you can make it the first time around.

But I’m getting off topic. So, you have a story and you want to turn it into a novel. Whatever shall you do?

Of course, there’s no right or wrong way to do it. That being said, I can tell you what I usually do: I generally open up a word document and make a bulleted list of everything I know about the story from my head. Who’s the protagonist? What do they want? How do we first meet them, and what happens from there?

And for the record, no, this isn’t really outlining. Not unless you put it in the roman numeral form with the hanging indents. Which, I always do…but after I make the bullet list. The list is just a dump so you can empty your brain before playing around with the contents.

After the list is finished, I open two new documents: one being called “Untitled, Character Outlines” and “Untitled, Plot Outline.”

And then I start to piece it together. I spill everything I know about the characters and everything I want for them. That means appearance, personality, abilities, backstory, etc. (I promise my next post on writing will talk about character creation and development).

As for the plot outline, I usually get to that once I’m done with rough outlines of my characters. Because once I have them, I can start putting them together in a story.

If I still have no clue about plot details—just a vague overview—I’ll keep it in bullet form and worry about breaking it down into individual chapters later. But eventually, I always do, because I’ve found I can’t write a book if I don’t have a clear vision of where it’s going.

 

Another perfect example of where I may be horrifically wrong, or maybe you just want to do it differently. There really isn’t a best way…Stephen King is famous for not outlining beforehand. As he said in his fantastic memoir, On Writing, he prefers to develop strong characters right off the bat. He then sets them all up in an opening chapter and lets them “write the story for him,” in that he gets inside their minds and decides what they would do next to make the plot happen.

On the other hand, J.K. Rowling had the epilogue scene of Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows written up, polished and tucked safely in a folder before Book One even hit shelves in 1997. According to her, it stayed there for ten years and was put into the final story with minimal editing. So, it’s up to you to decide how much of your book you want to map out beforehand.

One more thing: I think it would be unfair not to address anyone interested in writing a series, as I myself want to.

What I’ve heard most literary agents and publishers recommend is this: have a vague outline drawn up for future novels, but only focus your energy on writing and developing the first one. Because if that one is terrible, it won’t sell, and the world won’t get to read the rest of your series, which happens to turn amazing at book three of six.

But, publishers and agents are an entirely different topic, and one I’m not particularly well-versed in. So enough for now.

Well, that’s a solid intro, at least. I think that’s about all I have to say concerning the point at which you come up with a story to the point where you have it all outlined chapter by chapter, ready to turn it into a book.

 

No, that might not seem like much.

But it is. Even J.K. Rowling had to start somewhere.

Of course, if you want to write me off as a rambling idiot, that’s fine too. I’m not published, after all, as I’ve so persistently reminded you. But we all have to be stupid somewhere, and to me a blog seems as good a place as any.

Facebook vs. Twitter

“Let’s see if this diseased lung can get more likes than Miley Cyrus!”

   –  An actual “local business” page on Facebook

 

Almost everyone says the same thing: Facebook is on its deathbed, and Twitter is rising from the ashes to smash it to pieces and reclaim the world of social networking.

I don’t exactly agree. Don’t get me wrong…on a scale of one to ten, Twitter’s stalker score is a solid eight. When in the hands of people who Tweet every single thing they’re doing every day of their lives, it admittedly is a formidable opponent to Facebook in terms of creeping power.

(Don’t worry, Facebook. You’re well on the way to your stalking comeback with the now-mandated Timeline.)

But in terms of usefulness, I’d say Facebook wins hands down. No other network lets you join groups, like statuses, or create pages much like the one I mentioned above (which, by the way, is not only real but is complete with a profile picture). Other actual pages I’ve encountered include “If this gets 100 likes I’ll name my dog Voldemort” and “I will name my son Batman if this page gets to 500,000.” It currently has 770,000.

I know; Twitter lets you follow celebrities. I admit that’s cool. But unless they follow you back—which, more often than not, they don’t—then it’s similar to liking a celebrity page on Facebook. You still stream pictures of their hourly activities either way.

Now, let’s get hypothetical. Facebook is like McDonald’s and Twitter is Burger King: both have the same stuff that goes by different names, they’re equally famous, and they leave you wishing you had more interesting things to get to in your life. In addition, both cost virtually no money, are run by invisible CEO’s in secret locations, and are terrible places to ask your girlfriend to marry you.

To continue the metaphor, Google+ would be the internet’s Sonic…good, but really the same old stuff in disguise and liked by fewer people. Which means that MySpace is Waffle House.

“But wait!” the less mainstream people might be saying. “What about Tumblr? What about Skype, and LinkedIn, and (how could we forget) INSTAGRAM???”

Maybe I’ll address those in the future. I personally don’t use any of them, with my reason more than anything being I don’t like devoting very much time to letting the world know my thoughts (that’s what this is for, right?)

As I said, Twitter is probably nice for updating frequently, but Facebook seems like a better way to connect. It groups you with your peers all while suggesting “people you may know” with disturbing accuracy.

Plus, if you’re feeling especially bored, you can change your username to “no one” and like peoples’ annoying statuses.

On Writing: Intro

“Only bad writers truly think that their work is really good.”

–  Annie Enright

 

It happened…”Gangnam Style” is #1 on the iTunes charts. The storm has arrived, readers.

But anyway.

So, I think the only proper way to start this off is by disclaiming every subsequent word.

I realize that listening to me about writing advice is as ironic as drawing trees on paper. Nonetheless, I need somewhere to set down all my opinions, and here seems the safest place. So consider yourself in the pit of my thoughts.

A place many people yearn to visit, I’m sure.

One key word here, though, is opinions. I certainly don’t mean for this to be any sort of instruction manual or guide…even ‘advice’ is a bit of a strong word. No, this is my take on virtually every aspect of writing. I’m not saying it’s right. In fact, the only reason I chose to talk about it is because there really isn’t a right way to write. Self-expression is always subjective.

So, now that I’ve warned you, I think I’m free to talk as much as I’d like.

This is the first of many, many articles I intend to post which will fall under the “On Writing” category. I plan to comment on each aspect of writing a novel, from the initial plotting and characterization to the last sentence on the page. If you’re here because you’re wondering what I think about anything novel related, I’ve got you covered.

And if you’re here because you’re hoping to hear news about regular, non-writing related posts, I can tell you I’ll have plenty of those as well.

SO. For now, let’s talk book writing.

When you start writing a novel, it’s probably not because you actually WANT to just type up a book. I don’t think you’re sitting there going, I want to write a book…what should it be about? Let me think of a topic which I can so beautifully embellish and will have the masses kicking down the doors of bookstores everywhere.

[As a side note, if you are saying that, I would correct you by pointing out the sad but accurate fact that book stores are fading away to be replaced by Kindles. But I’ll talk about that later.]

I digress. My point is that for me—and possibly you—I didn’t just decide to write a book. Instead, I had a story in my head, and a book seemed the best place to put it.

I started writing my first manuscript when I was thirteen, but the plot had been revolving around in my head since fifth grade. At first I was sure I could make them movie screenplays—shut up; I was ten—partially because of how clearly I could see everything. But then I decided in eighth grade that not only could they be books, but that I should start making those books. And so my mindless rambling began (and still is going, I might add).

Alright, fine, so I guess I am giving advice today: if you have a plot going in your head that you truly think is unique, or just want to play around with, go ahead and write it down. Even if it goes nowhere, then it just falls into the same abyss you would send it anyway by ignoring it. And in some cases, it can develop. Then, oh mon dieu…you have a story.

 

Okay, so it isn’t quite that simple. But there’s your start and end. Everything else in between should be easy, right?

Looks like I have a lot to talk about.

Gangnam Style!

“Oppa Gangnam style.”

 

“Oh, so close,” you might have been thinking to yourself (if you’re as OCD as I am) when you read my last post. “This blog’s magic number is 8, but it was launched on September NINTH? Five points from Gryffindor.”

Believe me, I understand. It’s quite possible that in seventy years this will still be hobbling along and my writing life with it, and just before they both slip away I’ll look to the sky and shout, “IT LAUNCHED ON THE NINTH!”

But.

Probably not.

Besides, I had a good reason: I wasn’t ready on the 8th. I still hadn’t written the intro post, I was tired, and the music on the TV Guide channel was more interesting than usual. I have to prioritize.

But, anyway. Before I start talking nonstop about writing—which, I promise I will—I figured I’d throw down a post or two about things most people can relate to. In this case, a music video that you most likely haven’t heard about, but is probably going to go (more) viral in the next few days.

I’m not normally one for music videos. I take enjoyment from listening to a song, and—with a few rare exceptions—think that the audio is more than adequate. Well, my friends, I’ve found myself a rare exception.

I don’t know if I’m allowed to post the link here, so I won’t, but the song is called “Gangnam Style” by the Korean Rapper PSY. It’s currently one of the most viewed YouTube videos of all time (with 146,082,566 views as of now), which is why I was so surprised I hadn’t heard of it until today. Watch it if you’d like, but I figured I would go ahead and give you the breakdown. This one deserves dissection.

The video begins with the lead singer, PSY, singing in Korean and strolling down what appears to be a horse farm. The video flashes between that and him sitting on a playground, where a kid wearing sunglasses is dancing as though it’s the end of the world. He’s pretty good, too.

Then enters the catchy beat, which I challenge you to dislodge from your brain in less than two hours. PSY continues singing in Korean, walks through an artificial snowstorm, and dances in random places including on top of a building, in a city bus, and under a highway overpass.

THEN, the hook: it cuts to PSY and around ten other dancers all executing the strangest sequence of moves I’ve ever seen (and that includes my own). I can’t really put it into words…picture holding one arm rigid in front of you, jumping up and down, and waving your free hand as though swinging a lasso. This man manages to do all of this—all while inside a horse farm, mind you, complete with a line of horses in the background—and still I’m entertained. How could you not be?

Keep in mind this is, according to the description, from PSY’s SIXTH studio album. Where has this man been before? With a beat like the one this song has, he’s destined to be a star…at least, for a little while. Though I don’t know the translation of the refrain (the epigraph at the top of this post), I do know that Gangnam is a place in South Korea. I’d be shocked if this wasn’t their new theme song.

Other highlights of the video include: him doing the move mentioned above, except this time down the street chasing two people who are backing away hastily (I would, too, if he were running towards me in such a manner). In addition, he throws down some more dancing on the seats of the city bus, which is adorned with a disco ball and sunglasses-clad passengers.

The hook repeats, with scenes flashing between another bus, a swimming pool, a boat, an elevator, what looks like the lobby of an emergency room, and finally a massive dance floor where PSY and his whole crew of backup dancers can finish off the insanely catchy tune in style.

Now, I know the music video sounds strange. Even, dare I say it, silly. But here’s the thing…

It’s ENTERTAINING.

And when it comes to music, that’s all that really matters, right? The tune is the South Korean equivalent of “Party Rock Anthem,” and the dancing is interesting enough to keep me hitting the replay button.

Just my take, anyway.

 `

On an unrelated note:

I can’t express how grateful I am to the handful of people reading this. I’d love to tell you, “Don’t worry, followers. One day, I’ll be rich and famous and I’ll have enough money to buy an island so I don’t have to pay taxes. And it’ll be because of YOU.”

Okay, that probably won’t happen. Like most people, all I can really do is say thanks. And for now, that’s more than enough.

So thank you.

Write-ception

“My dear sir, I have read your manuscript. Oh, my dear sir.”

Hi! If you’re reading this, it means you’ve stumbled (accidentally or otherwise) into the little space of internet into which I’m going to dump all of my thoughts on anything and everything. But mostly on writing…maybe a few other topics on the side. That being said, I’d recommend buckling up, because this is going to be a lot like a roller coaster: full of ups and downs, with a mix of nervous thrills and the constant threat of everything falling apart under you.

Comfy?

I’m going to try out the whole epigraph-per-post thing; I’ll ditch it if it makes me seem too serious. But the first words of this blog are those that a famous author once received in a rejection letter from a publisher, and the reason I chose to share those is because I believe all blogging is about writing, to some extent. At the very least, you have to be good at writing in order to have a blog people like. And, for some people (myself included), all they talk about is writing, and writing their own writings. I’m writing about writing within writing, see?

(Pause to grab a life vest as my reader ship begins to sink.)

As you’ll kindly notice on the right, I have spaces for archives, a post calendar, a ‘follow blog’ button (forceful cough) and above all of those, a ‘categories’ section. As soon as I start posting, various categories will start appearing. But they’re hiding from us right now, so I’ll just have to tell you what they are.

As I said, most of my posts will be about writing. That means my experiences with it, including outlining plots, revising, writing synopses, slaving over query letters, and the life of a part-time author. Except, unlike many other bloggers that address the subject, you can rest assured that I’ve never been published before!

In all seriousness, I think that actually gives me some credibility. Think about it…I’ve been writing for years and never gotten past the ‘literary agent search’ stage. I have years’ worth of advice on what not to do. And believe me, if there’s one thing I’ve learned with writing, it’s that there are certain rules you can’t break. Unless, of course… (And so it begins).

The point: hear my horrible mistakes. Let me guide you with my ignorance.

Ahem.

In addition, I’ll be talking about movies, books, and pretty much any other things worth commenting on. Because that’s what bloggers do, right? Talk and talk and talk about whatever they want. And trust me, reader…I can talk.

 

One more thing before you go, because my self-confidence is low enough that I’m not sure if you’ll be back: I want to explain the name of this blog. Because no, I’m not a totally insane guy who uses outdated texting language when selecting a blog name. I’m a partially insane guy who has a slightly better reason.

I think we can follow the ‘super opinionated’ thing. But the 8? ¿Qué Pasa?

One of the books I’ve written has a protagonist who was inspired by the main character from Super 8, a 2011 sci-fi drama thriller that I couldn’t recommend enough. The acting all around is incredible, and the story is simplistic yet gripping. I’m not saying it’s the best movie ever made…I just think it is. That being said, Super 8, here’s your homage.

And so, here we are. You’ve just spent a handful of minutes that you may or may not want back, and I’ve spent a bit longer than that trying to decide if I’m rambling with a purpose or just plain rambling. It’s remarkable how close the two coincide.

But, at the very least, you can say you learned, right? You now know that yet another blog has emerged to make its ever-so-faint mark on the internet; you learned I’ll be talking a lot, and that snails breathe through their feet.

Wait, maybe that one wasn’t mentioned earlier…

And you also learned that all writers, good or bad, receive rejections when trying to publish their work. They get that cold slap on paper, just like the famous author I mentioned at the start of this post.

That author was Oscar Wilde, by the way.