Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Mean People Suck, Vol. III

Head on over to the Uncontainable Truth and read my third post in the "Mean People Suck" series. (This one's more about how mean people sucking make the nicer ones that much better.)

Speaking of things that DON'T suck, I can't get this song out of my head. If you aren't familiar with Jason Isbell, he's the former lead singer of the Drive-By Truckers, and an Alabama (Muscle Shoals) native. Love this song.

Friday, August 17, 2012

Pass me my Gold Medal

Like any hot-blooded American, I love the Olympics. There's really nothing like watching the moment that these men and women stick that final landing, or dive into the pool, knowing that this was the moment they had been training their whole lives for. That's the American Dream in its essence. Where you don't have to be famous or wealthy (though I'm sure resources don't hurt). When you are an average athletic teen one week and a superstar with a million Twitter followers the next.

I totally want a Gabby mural on the side of my house.

Every four years, I become a true patriot. I wear as much Red, White, and Blue that I can. I weep when the National Anthem is played and an American stands there on the podium showing off his or her gold medal beneath Old Glory. I'm not sure if it is coincidence or genius planning that made sure the Summer Olympics fall during US Election Years, but either way - they are always a welcome distraction from the campaign ads and attention to all the things wrong with this country. 


Official Olympic Watching Team

I also become a gymnastics expert. Here's the thing, though, which should come as no surprise to you... I'm not so athletic. Sure, I played softball and tennis growing up and was a dancer and a cheerleader. But I was never all that great at any of these things. In fact, I'm proud of my mediocrity, really. At least I enjoy staying active. Nowadays I'm into walking and had recently taken up boxing...

Unfortunately, however, all of that is on hold. For the next 8 weeks, this is going to be my view:

That, my friends, is what happens when someone who was never good at gymnastics when she was a teenager, decides to show off her "skills" in the backyard after being inspired by Olympians. (Olympians who are not only young and sprite, but trained and -- especially important -- warmed up at the very least.) So yeah, I am victim to one of those cliche and terribly ill-advised "Hey Yall - watch this!" moments that ends with (in my case) a big ole brace, crutches, and 8 weeks of immobility. As much as I love America's Funniest Videos, I should have known better.

And for anyone curious - here's my knee in all of its MRI'd glory:

Inside that yellow circle is a fracture (the doc called it a "crack") in my lateral tibial plateau. Meaning, the right side of the top of my tibia on my right leg. I straight-up broke my knee. I'm told this is actually better than a cartilage or ligament tear, which was the original diagnosis pre-MRI, and because it's not displaced, I don't have to have surgery... just therapy and the brace.

The next few weeks are going to be interesting. I'll be getting in physical therapy 2-3 times a week, in between work trips to Austin and Pittsburgh, and fun trips to Atlanta and Birmingham. Fall is my busiest season! Didn't my knee know this is not the time to gimp out?

My poor coworkers, roommate, and sister are the worst off here. They're the ones to check in on. I can be ridiculously needy, and all the men I work with do nothing but enable me. In addition, I'm hopelessly awkward on crutches and have managed to flash one coworker while losing my balance and in one of the more embarrassing moments of my adult life, managed to tuck my skirt into my crutch so that I flashed my entire butt (wearing full granny panties, thankfully) to my BOSS. My adult male boss.

Seriously. I'm sure there will be more stories to come. I did just acquire my temporary handicap parking pass... Life in the fastlane, yall. 

Wednesday, August 8, 2012

Zelda, Vicars, and Dirty Books (Romance Novels you SHOULD read)

I know I'm a little bit late discussing the 50 Shades of Grey hoopla, but I wanted to put my two cents' worth in.

Do not read this book.


I'm not writing this because I'm a book snob. I will never tell you to read only the most respectable or literary of novels. I have spent copious amounts of time in the past few years reading books about fairies and watching Buffy the Vampire Slayer. My mind adores good, easy guilty entertainment.

I'm not a prude, either. You want to read a book that gets your engines roarin', have at it. I was reading Danielle Steele novels when I was in middle school and am no stranger to stories involving someone's "throbbing member." Get your kicks wherever. No judgment here.

Reminds me of one of my all-time favorite Friends moments: (clip below and full scene here - they wouldn't let me embed it. I am just giggling watching this.)

As Rachel says, "There's nothing wrong with a woman enjoying a little erotica. It's just a healthy expression of female sexuality..."
But really (in Joey voice): "YOU'VE GOT PORN!" 

My friend Boeskool did write a great blog post titled "50 Shades of Skank" about how disgusted he was from the sheer amount of women talking about either 50 Shades or Magic Mike... I can't help with agree with his argument "Sure, men objectify women all the time, and women want to be equal... but 'why would you want to emulate the worst part of a man?'" He had a good point. But that isn't why I'm writing this either.

So why am I so adamant that you put the book down?

Because 50 Shades of Grey is complete crap, and there are soooo many better books that you could be reading right now.

Let me teach you a little lesson about fan fiction. Fanfiction is kinda like Fight Club - (most) everyone knows about it; no one talks about it.

But now that E.L. James has outed it, let's talk about it.

FanFiction is exactly that: fiction written by fans. Fanfiction.net is the most popular site for this, but you can google "Twilight fanfic" and get a billion other sites or sources as well. These have been around forever, and basically are opensource websites and the like that allow any users to try their hand at writing stories. Sometimes legit authors get on there to fill in gaps between books or chapters, or perhaps to offer an alternative ending, but most of the time, these stories are written by your average Joe writers. Some are excellent writers, and some are just God-awful, but most fall in the mediocre range. Anyway - the stories have endless possibilities: you can write extensions of stories, rewrite parts of a book, make a character have a third eyeball that sees through people's clothes. Seriously - whatever. I'm not saying a bad thing about fanficiton here. I've read it. Most of you will go on and read some. It's imaginative and fun to read, especially when you (nerd alert) know characters so well that you enjoy reading about them in different situations and reading beyond the original text. Again - whatever. To each his own. (This isn't limited to books, by the way. Everything from TV shows to movies to musicians to news anchors have been covered... )

So 50 Shades of Grey began as a fanfic of Twilight, in which Bella and Edward were re-imagined outside of the world of Forks, Washington, and, instead, as regular humans with similar traits of the original characters (Edward being dominant, wealthy, and handsome; Bella being clumsy, passive, and annoying). She also, obviously, ramped up the sexytimes. Took that PG-13 rating right up to XXX, something else popular in the fanfic world.

With that being said - remember how I talked about mediocre fanfic? That's all this is! Three full books of mediocre writing on what was already a tired plot. You can look in my blog's history and know that I enjoyed the Twilight books, something I'm loathe to admit now that they've blown up and garnered their following. The book is just not good, yall. And yes - I read them. Mainly from curiosity. And I read all three (just because writing is bad and plot is boring/annoying does not mean that a cliffhanger is still not gonna kill me). But now I'm left with the shame of knowing I wasted all of that time reading something crappy, when I could have been working on my "American Modern Classics" reading list for 2012.

So with that being said - here are some really awesome romantical-type books I highly recommend you pick up instead of 50 Shades of Grey. We're talking good ole romance novels (though some, I guess, are more of the "chick lit" genre.) Regardless, these are all books I've either read myself or that have been so recommended to me, that I can't not mention them. Plus some are way old - gonna have to hit up the used bookstores or libraries, yall. Regardless - get your kicks here. You won't regret them.

Marian Keyes is one of my favorite chick lit writers. She's Irish and hilarious, and most of her books center on the Walsh sisters and their antics (and love interests). Rachel's Holiday centers around Rachel, who has agreed to go to a rehab facility only because she thinks she is going to be pampered and surrounded by the UK's rich and famous. This is not the case. Hilarity and romance ensue. Her other books are great, too.

Cannie thinks that her life is good and well and happy. Until she opens up a women's magazine and sees a column titled "Good in Bed" with the headline "Loving a Larger Woman," written by her ex. Encouraged by the public humiliation, (after going on a much-anticipated and hilarious whirlwind of shame), she re-examines her life, her relationships, and a whole lot else, and does it all while being quite funny and very feisty. Plus she eventually finds a good man who loves her regardless of her size and issues. This one is more serious (I remember crying quite a bit), and can hit close to home when dealing with insecurities... but it's a good one.

Redeeming Love by Francine Rivers
Redeeming Love is every good Christian girl's go-to read for romance. It's sold a bunch of copies and stayed on best-seller lists (in Christian fiction) since it was first published in the early 90s. A retelling of the Biblical story of Hosea (re-imagined during the 1850s Gold Rush), Angel is a prostitute who was told from a young age that she was only worth one thing to a man. Until Michael Hosea comes along and proves her wrong. This one is chaste and sweet and sooooo swoon-worthy. Did I just say that? Seriously, though. I reread it often. It's all about how love can change everything. (And how God's love can be mirrored in Mankind.)

Rebecca by Daphne DuMaurier
This one is a classic. Published in 1938 and considered a classic. The story is told from the viewpoint of the never-named "second Mrs. DeWinter" as she takes her place at Manderlay (the DeWinter estate) and learns to be a wife and inhabinant in the first Mrs. DeWinter's (Rebecca's) wake. Suspenseful and full of romance and dark thriller-type stuff and mystery... I just loved this book.

The Thorn Birds by Colleen McCullough
I have not read The Thorn Birds, much to the dismay of almost every single literary (female) friend I have. And there are a lot of them. Published in 1977 and later made into a TV miniseries, Amazon tells me this is a "magnificent saga of dreams, struggles, dark passions, and forbidden love in the Australian outback has enthralled readers the world over." From the way my friends just look at me in outrage when I say I haven't read it, I'm prone to believe it. It's on my nightstand as my next read as I speak. 

The Gift by Danielle Steele
Picture me in 6th grade, hanging out with my buddies, and we're all sneakily passing around romance novels like they're liquor bottles (we wouldn't do that until a few years later). The Gift was the first one I ever got my hands on. I had no idea what romance was all about at the age of 13, but I sure did think this was an epic love story  (and I did reread it later to affirm this). Set in 1950, the story centers on a family who loses a child, and a woman who comes to town and enters into their lives. I won't tell you more because it's kinda hard not to give away the plot, but trust me - it's a good'n.

Outlander Series by Diane Gaboldon
This is another series I have yet to read, but I will never forget the day that Diane Gaboldon came to Davis-Kidd bookstore to sign the latest in the series. Women came in DROVES and just positively were fanning themselves talking about the characters. The first book, Outlander, is described as a "time-travel romance." Apparently there are quite the sexy Scottish warriors. I have no qualms here.

Carolina Moon by Nora Roberts
Nora Roberts is known for writing more mystery/romance-types, and this is my favorite of hers. Set in Small Town, South Carolina, Tory has returned home to a town full of mysteries and betrayals, all of which hit close to home. She finds comfort in the brother of her best friend, who was murdered, and they seek to find her killer. Good stuff, yall. My googling tells me a movie was made, and I'm sure it was pure Lifetime Gold.

What others have you read that you recommend? With the pure amount of crap out there, a girl needs some guidance...