Posted in Music

color theory (Soccer Mommy) Album Review

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Happy Wednesday, everyone!

I was introduced to Soccer Mommy via the car radio around a year ago, and I’ve been hooked on her music ever since. From listening to all of Clean to seeing her open for Vampire Weekend in October (!!!), Sophie Allison has always had such a signature sound that, no matter the subject matter, strikes a chord with me (no pun intended)–not quite in the lyrics as much, but most definitely in her masterful guitar work. color theory was just as good–if not better–than its predecessor, diving even deeper and finding beauty in vulnerability and grief.

Alright, let’s get this review started…

Track 1: “bloodstream”–7/10

Though not as emotionally potent as some of the other album’s tracks, “bloodstream” combines catchy, indie-pop riffs with lyrics yearning for the innocence of the past as Allison struggles to grapple with her present. The video’s pretty weird, but it definitely fits with the aesthetic that all of the album art/merch has been trying to go for. Not bad!

 

Track 2: “circle the drain”–8/10

What began with “bloodstream” has been effectively elevated to the next level. Allison is the master of the deceptively upbeat song; these lyrics, along with much of the rest of the album, deal with struggling with mental illness and grief. And yet, without listening to the lyrics, those two things wouldn’t have even crossed my mind. Absolutely catchy and lyrically potent.

 

Track 3: “royal screw up”–7.5/10

I’m not gonna lie here: the up-front metaphor of being the “princess of screw-ups” is a bit cheesy for me, personally. But sometimes, these things are necessary to get your point across after you dive into the more complex songs on the album. Aside from that, Allison’s bare guitar work shines on this track. And it’s an earworm in the best way possible. Mission accomplished.

Track 4: “night swimming”–9/10

Without a doubt, one of the best songs on the album, and a unique piece in the grand scheme of Allison’s work. Atmospheric, ethereal, and dreamlike, I feel as though I’ve been transported to a secluded lake illuminated by moonlight every time I listen to this song. Gorgeous in every sense of the word.

 

Track 5: “crawling in my skin”–9/10

Reminiscent of the punchy riffs of Clean, this one’s another favorite of mine. After the beauty of “night swimming”, “crawling in my skin” feels more refined, more thought out than tracks like “bloodstream” and “royal screw up”. Even if you’ve never felt this way, it perfectly portrays the feeling of being trapped in your own mind, and the fear of being left to your own devices at the wrong time.

My only complaint is that it always makes me think of this…

 

Track 6: “yellow is the color of her eyes”–9.5/10

Though it was one of the early releases, “yellow is the color of her eyes” still holds up for me as the most masterful song on the album. An emotional, 7-minute ballad of grieving, this is where the album reaches the height of its emotional potency, deftly balancing prose with up-front expressions of grief and emotional collapse. What a masterpiece.

 

Track 7: “up the walls”–7/10 

Though it’s just as lyrically potent as most of the album, and certainly very catchy, “up the walls” feels as though there’s something missing. The instrumentation sounds purposefully bare, but it doesn’t work quite as well as “royal screw up”. But nonetheless, the slight discordance is, in its own way, a testament to the feeling of falling apart.

Also, I’ll keep telling myself that the title/first line is a reference to this…

I mean, there’s a veeeeeery slim chance that it is, but I’ll just go back to my fantasy world now.

You fools, you didn’t think that you could escape this post without a Radiohead reference? [maniacal laughter]

 

Track 8: “lucy”–8/10

This one was the first single to arrive, out of the four that came out before color theory was released in its entirety. When it first came out, I wasn’t keen to it–I’m not sure what it was, but something just…put me off. But after a few more listens (and seeing her perform it live), I’m definitely hooked.

When I saw her live, she said that this was “a song about the devil,” and I’ve just now figured out that Lucy might be a pun on Lucifer…

…aaaaaaand now I hate myself for not catching that earlier.

But either way you interpret it, “lucy” is wonderfully catchy and the slightest bit discordant.

 

Track 9: “stain”–8.5/10

With every somber note, “stain” is the feeling of crumbling at the foundations set to music. Haunting and potent, Allison boasts another example of how a few lines of music can alter your mood for the rest of the day. I can’t decide whether I’m in awe or whether I want to go into my room and cry.

 

Track 10: “gray light”–6/10

Though the lyrics are almost as potent as “yellow is the color of her eyes” and “stain”, “gray light” feels unfinished: decent, but a mishmash of different effects overshadowing the haunting lyrics. Kind of a disappointing ending to the album, but it didn’t ruin it, not by any stretch of the imagination.

 

I averaged all of the ratings, and it came out to a solid 7.95, so I’ll just round it up to an 8/10 overall. Just as luscious and potent as Clean, color theory is a musical exploration of grief that should not and will not be forgotten. Long live Sophie Allison. 💗

 

I’ll omit a song for today because…well…this entire posts is a “Today’s song”…

 

That just about wraps up this post! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves! (And listen to/stream/buy color theory while you’re at it!)

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Posted in Book Review Tuesday, Books, Music

Book Review Tuesday (1/28/20)-Stranger in a Strange Land

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Happy Tuesday, earthlings!

After Ray Bradbury opened my eyes to the vast world that is older sci-fi, I began receiving more and more similar recommendations on Goodreads. This one, in particular, caught my eye–mostly because of the beautiful cover art, not gonna lie, but what I found inside its pages was so much more. Though dense at times, and not without its flaws, but an incredible feat of literature nonetheless.

Enjoy this week’s review!

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Stranger in a Strange Land

Valentine Michael Smith is a newcomer to planet Earth, the famed Man from Mars that has recently captured the public imagination. Curious–and a bit afraid–of what this strange planet has in store for him, he ventures out into the vast world, with the help of  Jill, the nurse who broke him out of the hospital. The more Valentine learns, the more he realizes how different he truly is–though he looks like a human on the outside, he possesses powers far beyond human ability. Powers that could put his life–and the lives of those he holds dear–in jeopardy.

 

WHEW. Man, what a unique book!

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The further you read, the more you realize the level of care that Heinlein put into this piece. Every detail, from the political ramifications of Valentine’s existence, to his native Martian customs, is so wonderfully complex. Of course, that did lend itself to an impressive amount of info-dumping, which made reading some portions of the book a bit of a headache, but hey, at least the guy’s taking the time to think all of this out.

Even almost 60 years on, much of the book still holds up. Definitely not all of it–we’ve still got a heady dose of problematic sexism and such peppered in, but hey, I wouldn’t exactly expect a white guy in the early sixties to be the wokest author on the market, not by a long shot. Not that this makes it okay, but I wasn’t exactly expecting a feminist work from this. But other than that, the writing, the lovely imagery, and the startlingly realistic public backlash to the very existence of the Man from Mars speaks to many of our issues regarding xenophobia today. Even the absolutely scathing commentary on organized religion found within the pages–I mean, the main branch of Christianity that’s evolved in this future world sounds like a religious version of a high school assembly–doesn’t seem far off from what could evolve in the near future.

And beyond that, I’ve always empathized with alien characters. I’ve felt like something of an outsider my whole life, and part of me felt such pain for poor Valentine. Mostly in the first half of the book, at any rate, but nonetheless.

All in all, a solid four and a half stars for me. 

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Before I go, here’s a fun fact: according to John O’Connell’s Bowie’s Bookshelf: The Hundred Books that Changed David Bowie’s Lifethere was almost an adaptation of Stranger in a Strange Land in the early seventies, with David Bowie as Valentine Michael Smith. And by Bowie, I mean ZIGGY ERA BOWIE.

ZIGGY ERA.

I WOULD’VE WATCHED THE EVER-LOVING HECK OUTTA THAT, LET ME TELL YOU…

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aaaAAAaAAAaAAAAaaAAAAAAAA

 

Today’s song:

4:49–4:54: TURN YOUR VOLUME DOWN A BIT JUST A WORD OF ADVICE

 

That just about wraps up this post! Have a lovely rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

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Posted in Books, Music, Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: January 13-19, 2020

Happy Sunday, everyone!

I’ve had a slowish reading week, and an even slower school week, but I’m recovering now, thanks to a three-day weekend, with a dash of patriarchy smashing thanks to the Womxn’s March. But even though I didn’t read *as* much, most of what I read, I really enjoyed. (Mostly due to Stranger in a Strange Land, which was a lovely and extremely well thought out novel, but incredibly dense.)

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

Stranger in a Strange Land–Robert A. Heinlein (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

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Sing Down the Stars–L.J. Hatton (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

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Zenn Scarlett–Christian Schoon (⭐️⭐️⭐️)

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POSTS AND SUCH:

 

SONGS:

 

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

Eliza and Her Monsters–Francesca Zappia

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Blue Monday, vol. 1: The Kids Are Alright–Chynna Clugston Flores

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The Night Country (The Hazel Wood, #2)–Melissa Albert

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Today’s song:

This is the only song that I’ve really loved off of UR FUN so far (haven’t listened to the whole album yet). of Montreal’s definitely going in a very different direction…not sure if I like it, but this is a cute song. 🙂

 

That just about wraps up this week in blogging! Have a lovely rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!

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Posted in Books, Music, Weekly Updates

Weekly Update: January 6–January 12, 2020

Happy Sunday, bibliophiles!

Yeesh…what a week. I’ve successfully gotten through my first week back to school, but of course, the universe decided that it would be the perfect week to hammer me with random illnesses. [loudly destroys tissues] I’m on the mend now, but…ew, sheesh…

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That’s why I’ve been a bit sluggish this week, so I’ll try to be a tad less lethargic in the coming weeks, Honors Bio schedule permitting. But hey, you know what this week also brought? The decade’s first book and comic haul!

 

WHAT I READ THIS WEEK:

B.P.R.D., Vol. 2: The Soul of Venice and Other Stories (re-read)–Mike Mignola  (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

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Half Bad–Sally Green (⭐️⭐️)

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Rebel (Legend, #4)–Marie Lu (⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

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BOWIE: Stardust, Rayguns, and Moonage Daydreams–Mike & Laura Allred, Steve Horton 

(⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️)

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On Writing: A Memoir of the Craft–Stephen King (⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️.5)

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POSTS AND SUCH:

 

SONGS:

 

CURRENTLY READING/TO READ NEXT WEEK:

(based on my library haul)

Stranger in a Strange Land-Robert A. Heinlein

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Zenn Scarlett-Christian Schoon

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Eliza and Her Monsters-Francesca Zappia

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Sing Down the Stars-L.J. Hatton

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Blue Monday, Vol. 1: The Kids Are Alright-Chynna Clugston Flores

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Today’s song:

 

 

That just about wraps up this week in blogging! Have a great day, and take care of yourselves!

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Posted in Book Tags, Books, Music

OMG This Song Book Tag

Good afternoon (or whatever time it is in your time zone), bibliophiles!

This tag was originally created for YouTube by Kate’s Book Date, and I was tagged by the wonderful A Little Haze Book Blog to take part in it. And honestly, how could I say no? I mean, books and music: two of my favorite things! (So thank you, both of you! 🙂 )

Alright, let’s get started…

1. MY JAM – a song you MUST listen to every time it comes on, no matter how old or how many times you’ve listened to it / a book you’ll never get sick of

This song is, without question, one of my favorites of all time, but it rarely comes on shuffle, and so I absolutely swell with joy when I hear it: David Bowie’s “Quicksand”.

 

The fact that Bowie created a song so profound, yet can also rock me blissfully to sleep like a baby, is sheer genius. If you haven’t listened to this song, PLEASE DO, AS YOUR LIFE WILL BE FAR BETTER FOR IT.

As for books, I’m going with Ashley Poston’s Heart of Iron

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In the 1.5(ish) years since its release, I’ve re-read it…oh, at least six times, and it never ceases to make me feel every possible emotion.

 

2. THROWBACK – a song that reminds you of the cringiest time of your life / a book that also reminds you of this time (or just something you wouldn’t like as much if you picked it up for the first time now)

Cringiest time in my life? 6th grade, here we come…

 

For the longest time, this was my favorite song of all time. I couldn’t stop listening to it, I tried to get my friends into St. Vincent, and…well, I pretty much became associated with St. Vincent among my classmates. (A blessing and a curse.)  Don’t get me wrong, I still love this song, but…man, 6th grade me was a nightmare. And speaking of being associated with certain things…

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This series…

The Search for WondLa  trilogy was my moon, my sun, and all the stars in my sky at that age. And, as with “Bad Believer”, I carried this bad boy around me whenever I re-read it, and that meant getting weird looks from my classmates, because, yet again, it was “that book

I still stand by that it’s a phenomenal series, but man, does it bring back a boatload of memories.

 

3. REPLAY – a recent song you have on repeat right now / a recent favorite book

I’m very, very late to hop on this bandwagon, but I just discovered Pink Floyd’s “Time” a few days ago, and I have not stopped listening to it since.

That surreal, dream-like quality, the poetic and yet blatantly real lyrics…man oh man, I love this song.

As for books, the last book (I believe) that I gave a solid five stars to was Like A Love Story. 

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gAH, TALK ABOUT FEELING ALL THE FEELS KNOWN TO MAN…such an expertly written, heartstring-ripping novel…

 

4. GETS ME – this song IS ME / this book is me in book form

[clicks on YouTube link] [gets flooded with Hellboy II memories circa 8th grade]

 

I’m not sure if this is necessarily me in book form, but I have often felt like an outsider, for several reasons. I’ve struggled to fit in for most of my life, and it’s only been in the past two or so years that I’ve been able to find my tribe. So, in a way, this song gives me hope. Hope that someday, maybe I’ll find true love from someone who sees me for who I truly am.

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As for books, I’d say…yeah, you guessed it, Aurora RisingBut really, the central theme of this book is finding your people, finding those who see you for who you are, and cherish you for the qualities that others abhor.

 

5. WUT – weird but I like it? / a unique book that stuck out to you for whatever reason

I mean, the weirdest part of this song is the title, but Sidney Gish’s music is generally filled to the brim with absolutely lovely, crafty lyrics that not only catch my eye (and ear), but resonate with me on some level.

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Good Omens would be my obvious literary choice for this question. An absolutely madcap gem, this book never fails to make me cry laughing. Same goes for the series, too–I’m only three episodes in, but I adore it.

6. LET’S GO – best pump up song (for workouts or just life) / a book that inspired you

 

This song makes me feel unbelievably powerful, no matter when or where I listen to it. Björk is nothing short of a visionary.

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As for the book, The Martian Chronicles , I’d say. Yeah, I know, not the most inspirational, uplifting collection, but Bradbury’s writing is what makes me want to be a writer, what motivates me to dream, to create. Although I’ve read a few of his works, this is the first of his that I’ve read, and my personal favorite.

 

7. CHILL – fave chill, relaxing song / a book you’d curl up with and read on a rainy day

 

I mean, I could probably put most anything by Frankie Cosmos for this question, but this was the first song of hers that I was introduced to. Mellow, with a warm, nostalgic feel that never fails to make me smile.

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Kindred Spirits  is easily the shortest novel I own, and it’s filled to the brim with adorable, slow-burn romance. Not to mention the fact that it centers around Star Wars: The Force Awakens. Gotta love Star Wars.

8. ADDICTING – guilty pleasure song (one that’s catchy and addicting but not a whole lot of substance) / guilty pleasure/trashy/fast/light read

 

Yeah, pretty simple lyricism here, but I feel little pink hearts forming in my eyes whenever “Johanna” comes on. 💗

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Again with the Rainbow Rowell…you guessed it, folks…

I’ll say it once, and I’ll say it again: Pumpkinheads is the ideal antidote for any of the sadness and troubles in your life.

 

9. NOSTALGIA – throwback you look back on fondly / a book you read forever ago that you look back on fondly or reminds you of a happy childhood time

 

I know, more Hunky Dory era David Bowie. But personally, I stand by my belief that this is easily the best album in the history of music.

“Kooks”, in particular, has a special place in my heart, for the simple reason that it’s the center of one of my earliest childhood memories. I was in the car, probably still a baby, and my whole family was with me. No idea where we were going, but “Kooks” was playing.

 

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Most of Roald Dahl’s novels have a special place in my heart, but Matildain particular, has the most vibrantly fond memories for me. My teacher read it to my class in third grade (we were on a Roald Dahl kick, as this followed both of the Charlie and the Chocolate Factory books), and I got it as a gift later that year.

 

I tag:

And you! If you want to do this book tag, feel free to give it a go! Have at it, fellow nerds!

 

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Posted in Music

Thoughts on Covers

The Bookish Mutant? Writing a post about something other than books? It’s more likely than you think.

 

I’ve been a music nerd for much of my life, and though most of this blog is dedicated to more bookish content, I do like to ramble about songs. In particular, there’s one topic that I’ve been wanting to talk about, and that is the topic of covers.

So, I’ve tried to outline some examples of covers that I find particularly significant, whether that be in a positive or negative way.

 

First, let’s address the nearly universal (and mostly good to follow) rule of covers: Don’t cover the Beatles.

I’d say…I agree about halfway with that. I’ve heard more butchered covers of Beatles classics than I can count on my fingers, but at times, artists have been able to cover the iconic band so well, to the point where they nearly–but never completely–surpass the original.

Case in point, Throwing Muses’ cover of “Cry Baby Cry”.

 

They’ve managed to create a cover that converts the original into an almost gothic, and at times atmospheric composition. Kristin Hersh’s ethereal voice only adds to the dreamlike effect, making for an unforgettable rendition of the song.

But at the same time, I feel as though it loses the warm, almost nostalgic air that the original carries. With the Beatles, it feels like someone fondly telling a story; with Throwing Muses, it almost has the feeling of someone reflecting on a childhood that they thought was full of joy, but had darkness hiding within it all along.

 

 

Sometimes, though, a cover can completely nail the original feeling of the song, while still making it their own. Take Nirvana’s cover of David Bowie’s “The Man Who Sold the World”.

 

As with “Cry Baby Cry”, both versions of “The Man Who Sold the World” sound like the words of a raconteur, recounting a particularly odd acquaintance of theirs from ages ago. Even with something as simple as a key change, Cobain transformed the classic song into something darker, more desperate. (As he did with…well, most all of his songs, but that’s beside the point.)

Nirvana’s version does seem to lack the inherently alien quality that’s always hidden below the surface of any David Bowie song. To be fair, however, I don’t think anybody could ever come close; that’s just David Bowie. Nobody can be David Bowie but David Bowie.

 

 

Another source of interesting covers can always be found in the soundtracks of film and television. More often than not, it produces bland attempts at making songs into something “edgy” or “gritty”. But on rare occasions, gems are born from already polished crystals.

Personally, the best example of this is…well, all three seasons of FX’s Legion.

I mean, you have to have some serious talent to make “Rainbow Connection” sound creepy, turn “Behind Blue Eyes” into the pulsating score for what’s easily the best action scene ever to air on television, and “What’s So Funny ‘Bout Peace, Love, and Understanding?” into a heartstring-pulling, tender moment between the whole show’s cast. And Noah Hawley, without a doubt, has that talent by the boatload.

(Spoilers for seasons 2 & 3 of Legion in the last two, especially the last one.)

And that’s not even all of it. Man, I can’t wait another second for the Season 3 soundtrack to come out…

 

And then, there’s those rare, once in a lifetime covers that transcend the original.

Alright, let’s back up. This is completely subjective, mind you, but I think there is some degree of truth to it. Maybe.

Think for yourselves, but we need to talk about girlpool’s unforgettable cover of Radiator Hospital’s “Cut Your Bangs”.

 

With something as simple as removing the drums and slowing down the tempo, girlpool has morphed the original into something far more tender, deeper, and overflowing with emotion. There’s no doubt that Radiator Hospital’s songwriting is stellar, but girpool made it shine even more, telling a raw, bitter, and tear-jerking story.

As I said, I’m definitely biased around the original. It’s probably just Sam Cook-Parrott’s voice that mainly gets on my nerves, but in it’s faster form, it feels more like pulling off a bandaid than telling a story.

 

And then there’s covers with lovely intent, but that fail to capture the original meaning.

Remember what I said earlier about nobody being David Bowie but David Bowie?

 

[heavy sigh] Well…

Alright, let me be clear. There’s no doubt that Lady Gaga is a talented musician, but this does not feel like a tribute. Nor does it feel like a cover.

This just feels like commercialization, capitalizing off of Bowie’s legacy by trying to be him. And I get it, so many of us–myself included–were beyond heartbroken at the news of his death, but I don’t think that this is the proper way to pay tribute to somebody. Make the content your own, at least a little, don’t try to be somebody you’re not. And I mean that in the least harsh way possible, but…at the time, this just felt like salt on the wound. Still does. This pretty much ruined Lady Gaga for me. I still admire her as a person, but I don’t think I’ll be able to forgive her for this one.

 

 

Hopefully you found this interesting! I just wanted to pour out some of my nerdy thoughts here (as I always do), so I hope you liked this post. See you tomorrow for Goodreads Monday! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and keep on being your wonderful selves.

 

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Posted in Art, Book Tags, Books, Geeky Stuff, Music

Anything But Books Tag

Happy Thursday, fellow bibliophiles!

 

I was tagged by A Little Haze Book Blog to take part in the Anything But Books Tag, and I’m so excited to participate!

Alright, let’s get started…

 

Name a cartoon character that you love.

Okay, technically, he was a comic character first, but Forager from Young Justice: Outsiders is absolutely precious.

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What is your favorite song right now?

Ooh…hard to pick, but at the moment, I’d probably have to go with “Fake Plastic Trees” by Radiohead. Never fails to fill every fiber of my being with emotion…

 

What could you do for hours that isn’t reading? 

Drawing and writing, most likely. I’d add playing guitar as well, but…yeah, my fingers could not withstand playing guitar for hours. They’d never forgive me.

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What is something that you love to do that your followers would be surprised by?

I love to go ALL OUT for Halloween. Whether or not I end up trick-or-treating, I try to at least wear my costume to school. I was Liz Sherman from Hellboy last year, which was super fun 🙂 I dyed my hair red and everything!

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What is your favorite unneccessarily specific thing to learn about?

Cephalopod biology, hands down. They’re such a fascinating group of creatures; I have fond memories of spending an entire period in 6th grade watching a documentary on cuttlefish 🙂

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What is something unusual that you know how to do?

Um…

I don’t think I have any *unusual* talents, per se, but I can kind of make a kazoo noise with my mouth…

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Name something you’ve made in the last year, and show us if you can.

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I just finished this up a few weeks ago! It was a 22 x 30 drawing in Prismacolor  colored pencils, for my advanced art class. Recognize her? 😉

 

What is your most recent personal project?

I don’t have anything *super* personal, but I did pick up some watercolors after several years of not touching a paintbrush. This was the end result:

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Dark Phoenix!

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Tell us something that you think about often (especially when looking out windows).

It’s inevitable that every time I stare out a window, I drift into the recesses of my mind, where my story ideas start playing like movies.

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Give us something that is your favorite, but make it oddly specific.

I love watching X-Men movies (no, duh, Sherlock), but at night, curled up in a blanket downstairs, and preferably with some snacks and in the company of my cats.

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Say the first thing that pops into your head.

They did surgery on a grape.

I’m so incredibly sorry to bring that back.

I’ve created a monster

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I tag:

 

Thank you so much for reading this post! Have a wonderful rest of your day, and take care of yourselves!