Monday, October 31, 2011

Sixteen authors

The Rules: Don't take too long to think about it. Sixteen authors/poets who have always influenced you and will always stick with you. List the first 16 you can recall in no more than 16 minutes, and they don't have to be listed in order of relevance to you.

[Okay, mine aren't going to be authors who have "always" influenced me, because none of those exist. Also, I may have changed it to 16 because I thought of 16 and couldn't choose which one to delete.]

1. John Green- for the obvious, nerdfighteria, and for Looking for Alaska, probably my favorite non-Hunger Games book I've ever read. (update: now especially for The Fault in Our Stars)
2. Suzanne Collins- for The Hunger Games and for stalking me to create the most relatable main character I've ever come across (okay, so she's not relatable to most people), and for Peeta Mellark, the personification of hope and strength and imperfection-perfection [a new term I have just coined to express how someone's imperfections just make them more perfect]. Also for making me appreciate dandelions.
3. Laurie Halse Anderson- for Speak, which I just finished reading, and for acknowledging that it's not okay to keep young people ignorant about certain harsh realities.
4. Stephanie Perkins- for Anna and the French Kiss and Lola and the Boy Next Door and teaching me that it is possible to write "chick-lit" that people don't have to be ashamed that they love, and for Cricket Bell. And for being a normal human being who just happens to write pretty, pretty words.
5. E. Lockhart- for The Disreputable History of Frankie Landau-Banks and all its amusing and despicable characters, and its feminism and awesomeness.
6. Maureen Johnson- for being totally, completely, irrepressibly weird. And for being the second-prettiest Green brother.
7. F. Scott Fitzgerald- for The Great Gatsby and pointing out that RECKLESSNESS IS STUPID.
8. J.K. Rowling- for Harry Potter, obviously, and all the things that go along with this creation. Also for Neville Longbottom.
9. Nathaniel Hawthorne- for criticizing organized religion, i.e. The Scarlet Letter; Young Goodman Brown
10. Gayle Forman- for If I Stay and, even more, Where She Went. And for standing up for YA and The Hunger Games in the face of the anti-dark-and-twisty.
11. Deb Caletti- for The Nature of Jade and the adorableness of Sebastian and Bo, and especially for Wild Roses because of my personal experience with a stepfather who has PTSD/paranoia/depression.
12. Mark Twain- for not standing for hypocrisy; i.e. The Adventures of Huckleberry Finn
13. Harper Lee- for To Kill a Mockingbird, which I haven't read since 9th grade but should probably do again.
14. Stephenie Meyer- for giving me standards by which to measure my love stories [girl is incomplete without guy= bad, guy watches girl in her sleep= very bad], and then for finally (kind of) living up to them in The Host
15. Shakespeare- for being Shakespeare. I didn't like reading your stuff, but I liked the stuff itself. Does that even make sense? Oh, and for Shakespearean insults. I can't get enough.
16. J.D. Salinger- for The Catcher in the Rye and Holden Caulfield, who is the first character whose fear of change is just as bad as, if not worse than mine.

Monday, October 24, 2011


Last week, I had my first paper due for my fiction class. We had to rewrite a folk/fairy tale, and I rewrote Little Red Riding Hood. I thought my paper was good, if I do say so myself, but I'm never capable of thinking that someone else-- particularly my teacher-- will like anything I write. Especially if it's fiction. The day it was due, she had a few people read theirs to the class. Of course, the only people who volunteered were the ones who loved theirs SO much that they thought everyone else would love them too. Which meant they were all ridiculously good. But they tried to hide their confidence behind false modesty, whereas I did not volunteer to read mine because my modesty-- okay, insecurity-- was real. Anyway, none of them were all that similar to mine, so naturally I became extremely nervous that I was a failure of Titanic proportions.
When I got to fiction today, I saw what I was hoping I wouldn't see until next Monday. A stack of papers on the table in front. Clipped with one of those Clips of Doom that tells me they are graded papers, about to be handed back.
Only my teacher did not hand them back. Instead, she instructed us all to write a 10-word short story, a la Hemingway's "For sale: baby shoes, never worn." Commence slightly visible panic attack, because I don't know yet if she thinks my writing is any good. Hence, I automatically assume she thinks it's bad. Which means my 10-word short story will be bad. I have no ideas. No ideas, no ideas. Writer's block. Oh, writer's block! My 10-word short story-that's-actually-8-words then becomes, "She had writer's block, and then she didn't." She made us read our stories out loud in alphabetical order, so at least I had time to decide whether I really, truly wanted these to be the words I read to the class. Unfortunately I still didn't really have a choice, because my name is smack dab in the middle of the alphabet. So I read it. People laughed (with, not at); my teacher raised her eyebrows and did that face people do when they say "interesting," and said, "interesting." In other words, it went over pretty well. I mean, it didn't win the "contest," by which I mean that nobody nominated it to win the contest, but that could just be because nobody in the class actually knew my name before today [which is another story entirely, but one centering yet again around my own insecurity].
Anyway. This vaguely approbatory reaction probably should have given me confidence but, in fact, inflicted more anxiety. My thoughts went as follows:
What if she just felt badly for giving me a horrible grade on my paper and wanted to pretend my short story was interesting to make me feel temporarily good about myself?
That girl used really awesome words in hers. God, why can I never think of awesome words when I need them? You only get 10 words; why shouldn't they be awesome?
That kid used a sentence written by someone else. Why didn't I think of that? Oh, she just disqualified him. But still, it was a great idea. I should've done that.
Mine was so lame. Lame lame lame lame lame. Okay, maybe I kind of like the idea of it, how it's circular and makes you think about the process of overcoming the writer's block by writing about writer's block, but I DIDN'T USE ANY AWESOME WORDS.
I suck. I suck I suck I suck.

And then my teacher asks for nominations for the winner and it's not me, obviously, and we move on. But the thing is, I'm still thinking about that stack of papers on the table. I am literally, physically shaking, the way some people do when they meet famous people. Why do I do this to myself? I liked my paper. I thought it was good. But here I am, unable to write clean notes because my hands are shaking with the fear that someone else didn't like it. I'm sitting cross-legged, with my feet pointed up so that the people sitting across from me in the circle (our class is always in circle formation) can't see that I'm wearing plain white socks with my moccasins. Not that they actually care about what's on my feet. But I'm trying, and my foot starts shaking because it's difficult, and then I have to shift, and this occurs like six times throughout the class, and my face is hot because the door is closed and it's probably 78 degrees in the classroom and I'm wearing pants and a long-sleeved shirt, and now I'm self-conscious because my cheeks are probably turning red and GOD WHY AM I SO INSECURE and finally, finally the class is over. She makes us sit and listen for our names to be called to get our papers back, and then physically walk up front (do my knees still work? I don't know) to take them.

Once again, my name's position in the alphabet does nothing for me. I don't have the relaxing knowledge that mine will be the last one handed back, but I don't get it back first either. So I sit and wait (does an aaaangel, contemplaaate my faaate...). I see the grade on the last paper in the stack, which she's holding in her hand, and it's an A. Ugh, now I'm going to feel even worse about myself when I get less than an A.
I don't know this little girl or own these pictures, but I was, in fact, crossing my fingers.
She calls my name and I walk up and take my paper. She barely wrote anything on the paper itself, so I'm forced to go straight to the grade. A. Along with a note thanking me for such an *interesting* version of the story and talking about how she liked the change in the main character's defining characteristic, and so on. So interesting IS good after all.
Basically, I got myself all worked up over nothing. I GOT AN A!! I AM CAPABLE OF WRITING FICTION THAT OTHER PEOPLE ACTUALLY ENJOY.
Conclusion: I should probably start trusting myself a little more and maybe stop thinking that everyone else is so much better than me at everything. If I think something I wrote is good, chances are it probably is, because I'm a pretty harsh critic. Especially-- obviously-- of myself.

Friday, October 21, 2011

I lied. One more.

Okay this is weird, but I have had my feather (real Bluejay feather, not a euphemism) in this page of Clockwork Angel since Friday night because it amused me so much, and I have to do something with it. I'm not going to put quotes around it because that might make it confusing, seeing it's such a long excerpt. I like it because a) I sometimes find myself trying to read in a British accent when these people talk, b) I love how much these two characters hate each other, and c) I love the character of Will because he's a little like Finnick. Only Finnick actually has a funny personality, whereas Will has a dark and serious personality that he masks with jokes. Also Will walks around town aimlessly for hours and then comes back and pretends he went out drinking, the explanation for which I have not yet discovered...

"Nice work in there, Herondale, setting the place on fire," Gabriel observed. "Good thing we were there to clean up after you, or the whole plan would have gone down in flames, along with the shreds of your reputation."
"Are you implying that shreds of my reputation remain intact?" Will demanded with mock horror. "Clearly I have been doing something wrong. Or not doing something wrong, as they case may be." He banged on the side of the carriage. "Thomas! We must away at once to the nearest brothel! I seek scandal and low companionship."
Thomas snorted and muttered something that sounded like "bosh," which Will ignored.
Gabriel's face darkened. "Is there anything that isn't a joke to you?"
"Nothing that comes to mind."
"You know," Gabriel said, "there was a time I thought we could be friends, Will."
"There was a time I thought I was a ferret," Will said, "but that turned out to be the opium haze. Did you know it had that effect? Because I didn't."
"I think," Gabriel said, "that perhaps you might consider whether jokes about opium are either amusing or tasteful, given the... situation of your friend Carstairs."
Will froze. Still in the same tone of voice, he said, "You mean his disability?"
Gabriel blinked. "What?"
"That's what you called it. Back at the Institute. His 'disability.'" Will tossed the bloody cloth aside. "And you wonder why we aren't friends."
"I just wondered," Gabriel said, in a more subdued voice, "if perhaps you have ever had enough."
"Enough of what?"
"Enough of behaving as you do."
Will crossed his arms over his chest. His eyes glinted dangerously. "Oh, I can never get enough," he said. "Which, incidentally, is what your sister said to me when--"
The carriage door flew open. A hand shot out, grabbed Will by the back of the shirt, and hauled him inside. ...

[Note that what Will was about to say about Gabriel's sister wasn't actually true, I'm pretty sure]

Last one for today: the Anti-Gossip-Girl

This morning, I was halfway through this book. I finished it around 8:30 tonight (I wasn't reading the whole time) and I still can't really figure out why. But I loved it.
Not really the pageturner of all pageturners (although I think my standard for that is somewhat distorted and unfair), The Disreputable History of Frankie-Landau Banks is another one of those books that take place at a boarding school. I don't know what it is about boarding school life that is so fascinating, because it's basically a more strict version of college, but it seriously makes me wish I went to boarding school instead of lame public high school. Which says a lot, because I couldn't even stand living on campus at college for two weeks.
The characters in this book are just... my God, I wish I had people like that in my life. They're equal parts likable and dislikable.
First, you've got Frankie. She's all determined not to be left out or underestimated or judged based on anything except her character, sometimes to her own detriment. Hence the Disreputable part. At the same time, she's terrified of being forgotten. Her boyfriend, who we'll get to in a second, met her several times before she fell off her bike and he introduced himself, but he either pretended not to remember her or actually didn't remember her. He doesn't get involved in other people's worlds and Frankie realizes this, but still she's set on being part of his. Mistake Number One. So she researches the "secret society" he's in and actually knows more about it than any of the current members, because her father was also in it and talks about it incessantly. It's a boys-only society, so she obviously can't join, which nags at her brain because she hates 1) being excluded and 2) being judged because of her gender. So she orchestrates a bunch of pranks under the guise of the society's leader, Alpha-- who I'll also get to later-- and gets angry when her boyfriend doesn't suspect her at all when he finds out it wasn't actually Alpha who plotted the pranks. Because now he's not only 1) excluded her 2) based on her gender, but 3) underestimated her. She tells him everything she did and he gets so angry because Alpha is getting in trouble for what she did (which is a valid reason for him to be angry, because Alpha is his best friend), and she sees it as a double standard because all of the pranks were legendary when everyone thought Alpha was the mastermind, but now that it was Frankie, he's appalled. Long story short: they break up and Matthew and his friends go back to not knowing Frankie at all, not even acknowledging her existence. Just like before, when he hadn't remembered her from the multiple times they had already met.

And then you've got Matthew. While he's kind of despicable in some ways, like how he never told his girlfriend anything and never got involved in her life and always expected her to be inhis, I actually kind of liked him. He's a respectable guy, I mean. He stuck up for her when necessary, although sometimes he was condescending and I did want to slap him in the face and yell, "chauvinist!" He's smart and cares about grammar (someone says, "I could care less," and he corrects them, "Couldn't care less! If you could care less, that means you care a fairly decent amount. It's couldn't care less." And his friends always say they want to kill his "inner copy editor"), which is just something I generally admire even though Frankie saw his constantly correcting her as a way of proving his superiority or something, and he's just nice. He analyzes everything except the pranks he does with the Basset Hounds (the secret society), which Frankie hated because she put a lot of thought into the pranks and they all had not-so-hidden messages, but it's for a good reason. His involvement in the Basset Hounds isn't for any kind of social commentary or change or anything, it's a friendship thing. These boys forge lifelong friendships and they take the loyalty of the club really seriously. That's not such a bad thing, Frankie. So when he finds out that Frankie's been messing with his club, that Alpha might not be able to be in the Basset Hounds anymore, he has a real reason to be angry with her. Suck it up, Frankie, he might have underestimated you and condescended to you occasionally, but it's your fault he doesn't want to be your boyfriend anymore. And that's the thing: she still wants to be his girlfriend. She has bigger fish to fry in the areas of feminism and social movements, but she still "loves" (arguable) Matthew. Because he's NOT A BAD GUY.

Aaaand then there's Alpha. Over the summer, before any of this happened, before Frankie fell off her bike in front of Matthew and he introduced himself, she was on the beach with her family. She went off to get a frozen custard (I don't know what this is, but it sounds like I need one) and then decided it was too cold to finish it, so she was about to throw it away when she heard, "You gonna eat that?" This boy she had never seen before was asking her for the rest of her half-eaten frozen custard. They had a small argument-- more like banter-- about wasting custard, and then she gave it to him. He asked her where she went to school and she told him, and he said that he went to school in New York City, but then he was like, "Maybe I'll see you around." And Frankie's like, "But you just said you go to school in New York." And he's like, "You said Alabaster Prep, right?" and basically that was it. Cut to, like, the second day of school, and he's on her campus. She has met Matthew by now, and it turns out he and Matthew are best friends, but Alpha pretends he's never seen her before. Frankie starts to think that this is because he's deferring to Matthew-- he's interested in her, but she's Matthew's-- like some kind of unwritten rule. She mentions meeting him on the beach and he denies it, but then maybe a week later he starts talking about how girls don't appreciate food enough, and says something about frozen custard and girls who just give half of theirs away. So he does remember. Anyway, it turns out that Alpha is the leader-elect of the Basset Hounds, except he got kicked out of school last year so Matthew is the stand-in. Alpha has a lot of opinions-- the only real pizza is from New York, people should walk on the grass when there's a sign that says "keep off the grass" because it's shorter and nobody's going to enforce it, and the thing about girls and food-- which Frankie debates with him. Like I said, they have banter. Also, Alpha is the only one of the Basset Hounds who actually cares about the pranks they do. He looks for the meanings in them, and figures out that it's Frankie long before she admits it. When she finally does, he gives her due props and says he underestimated her, but that he "can't deal with" her. [Honestly, my vision is that Frankie and Alpha get together after the book ends, because they are so.dang.perfect for each other. They think so much alike but their opinions are so different, it just makes me go all "TEEHEHEEE!"]

Minor characters include Zada, Frankie's sister who's studying psychology and analyzes everything Frankie does and tells her when she's being ridiculous, and also tells her not to let Matthew "erase her"; and Porter, Frankie's ex-boyfriend who cheated on her and ends up being a spy in the Basset Hounds, working for the principal who's looking for a reason to expel Alpha because he's on scholarship and is not considered an upstanding member of the student community. That is, he's been caught smoking/drinking on campus, he does pranks, and his family is not rich enough to buy him out of an expulsion.

But really, the book isn't about the relationships or anything. Frankie ends up not being a part of Matthew and Alpha's group anymore, which she had before realized could happen in an instant, but instead she kind of becomes a legend among other groups. Mainly the geeks, like the student government-- who want her help with social/political changes on campus, and the AVT club-- who were inspired by her use of their materials to perform the pranks. And she still has her roommate/friend Trish, who doesn't understand Frankie's motivations, but that's probably a good thing. Because Frankie's really angry all the time. Her mom and sister make her go to a counselor once a week after this whole ordeal.

So yeah. Frankie isn't the most likable character, but neither is anyone else. Which kind of makes them more real. And it's definitely a girl-power book. "A funny feminist manifesto that will delight the anti-Gossip Girl gang." -Kirkus Reviews

Song of the Book: 99 Times by Kate Voegele
Just change the lyrics "I'm gone and you're invisible" to "You're gone and I'm invisible," and this is the perfect song for this book.


If you disagree, I unapologetically tell you: TOUGH COOKIES.

I just listened to a version of Hank Green's song "This is Not Harry Potter" that I haven't listened to before, and in this one he slams books closed as a drum beat. One of the books he uses is Mockingjay, but no, I am not about to complain about him abusing the greatness that is Mockingjay.
I am going to complain because one of the lines in this song says "President Snow is no Voldemort," implying somehow that President Snow isn't quite as malevolent or cruel as Voldemort, which is NOT true. I realize posting this publicly will probably make *someone* disown me as a friend. I hope that *that person* can see it from my perspective, though. :)

Yes, Voldemort is evil and cruel and selfish. Yes, he kills people for reasons similar to Hitler's reasons for killing people. HOWEVER, Voldemort has people who support him for reasons other than fear. He has a pet, which generally requires some bit of care. Now I'm not saying that he is the one who takes care of the snake; maybe he is, maybe he isn't. I'm just saying that the snake is his pet and he loves it (granted that is probably mostly because the snake holds part of his own soul). He believes that what he is doing is for the greater "good," no matter how convoluted that seems. He doesn't enforce laws that squash the quality of life; he doesn't take from the poor and give to the rich. The worst things he does are kill some people and make others live in fear.

President Snow does this and worse. He does not love anything but himself. He doesn't hesitate to kill anyone he perceives as a threat to him and his system. He is so cruel that even the system he has created is cruel by nature. The minority reap the benefits of the majority's suffering, and he benefits the most of all. His only loyal followers support him because they fear him, not because they believe in what he's doing. He doesn't just kill people; he tortures them. He gets inside their heads, takes away the things they love, forces them to become people they're not, and lets the whole country watch while it happens. He'll tell someone to do something, and then when they do it, he'll use it against them to make them do something else (I cannot explain this without giving away probably the biggest spoiler ever, but trust me it proves once and for all that he is an evil genius). He will willingly drink poison in order to trick his enemies into drinking it. He has people's TONGUES REMOVED if they disobey him... that is, assuming he doesn't just have them killed.
And the worst part is that he's a human being. He's not a wizard, he's not a master of dark magic, and he doesn't have seven pieces of himself waiting to keep him alive if he's ever defeated. Because he truly believes he is invincible. And, honestly, when you believe that strongly that you are invincible, other people start to believe it too. And people stop believing they can change anything... which is kind of the worst thing you can do to someone. President Snow does that to a whole country.
In my opinion, Voldemort is a perfectly sufficient villain, but President Snow is the villain of all villains. His blood and roses kind of make Voldemort's wand look like a cat toy.

Hank, I think you need to reevaluate your definition of a proper antagonist.

An Abundance of Thought

Usually I only write blogs about books that I like so much that I can't stop thinking/talking about them, but this is not the case this time. I mean, I liked An Abundance of Katherines just fine, but I liked Looking for Alaska better and, hey, I didn't write a blog about that.
I started this book last Monday night and this morning I was still only halfway through it. It's not a page-turner by any means. I never found myself thinking, "What's going to happen to Colin Singleton next?" To put it vaguely, it's a book about a recent high school graduate who wants to matter but doesn't think he does (matter, that is). He has spent basically his whole life, since discovering when he was three years old that he was somewhat of a child prodigy, trying not to fall to the wayside. He claims there are two groups of child prodigies: those who grow up to be average human beings, and those who turn into geniuses. Colin doesn't think he's a genius, and doesn't think he really can be a genius, but he's going to try, because he wants to matter. His motto is, "What is the point of being alive if you don't at least try to do something remarkable?"
Getting to all that philosophical stuff later, let me introduce you to the other characters:
Hassan: Colin's best (and only, considering his child prodigy-status did not exactly grant him the social skills necessary to be generally liked) friend, who is a self-described "not-doer." He graduated the year before Colin and took one of those "years off" which he intended to extend indefinitely, because he is a not-doer. He doesn't do things. He's chubby and likes to watch Judge Judy. He doesn't like things that aren't funny, and he turns every situation into a joke. I could get into the awesomeness of his and Colin's friendship, like their code word ("dingleberries") for when one of them is pushing a subject too hard (like when Colin tries to get Hassan to sign up for college classes, or when Hassan makes jokes about the Katherines), and how they speak in Arabic sometimes so no one around can understand them, and how they give themselves alternate identities when meeting new people, but I won't do that. Intentionally.
Lindsey Lee Wells: A girl Colin and Hassan meet on their road trip, the purpose of which was to mend Colin's broken heart because K-19 (we'll get to that later) broke up with him. It turns out, she's dating a boy named Colin... who is a total jerk, but whatever. Lindsey is a chameleon; she says the only true sentence about herself that starts with "I" is "I'm full of sh-t." i.e. She has a Southern accent around the old people who knew her when she was a kid, she's a bubblegum-chewing pop tart around her boyfriend, and she's all deep and philosophical around Colin.

So, throughout the story we find out that Colin has dated 19 girls named Katherine. They all spelled their names the same way. He only really talks about Katherine I, the girl he met when he was like 8 because her dad was his tutor, and Katherine XIX, the girl who most recently broke up with him. His relationship with Katherine I lasted only 2.5 minutes, and most of the others lasted only a few days or weeks, but K-19 lasted a whole 343 days. So he's basically a brokenhearted puddle of mush, but you get the impression that he only thought he loved her because having a girlfriend made him feel like he mattered. Like she thought he mattered enough to be with him, so now he's not even a child prodigy anymore, not a genius, and not anyone's boyfriend either. Yes, Colin Singleton is kind of pathetic.
So Hassan decides to take him on a road trip, during which Colin decides to turn the patterns of relationships into a mathematical formula to determine who will dump whom and when. He comes up with something that actually makes some mathematical sense, except for some reason it does not apply to Katherine III because the graph of Katherine III is upside down, which means that he would have broken up with her. Which he does not remember as true, because he believes himself to be the victim of nineteen Colin-dumpings by nineteen Katherines.
So he calls her. Mind you, they were 10 years old when they dated. She confirms that, yes, he broke up with her. So his Theorem IS right! [This brings on all kinds of philosophizing about how we remember things and how, in our brains, there is always room for the truth even if that's not how we choose to remember it]
Somewhere in there, we find out another reason why Colin may have been so attached to K-19. Because she and Katherine I are... THE SAME PERSON. It was just a twist I didn't see coming. And also kind of adorable, seeing they met when they were 8 and she was always kind of fascinated by him. But, alas, he does eventually realize that it was not meant to be with Katherine the Great (nickname). Or, necessarily, any Katherines.
Oh, Colin also has a penchant for anagramming. This will come in handy later.
Anyway, on the road trip, Colin sees a sign for the grave of Archduke Franz Ferdinand in Gutshot, Tennessee. Now, when I first read this, I was like, "Why would the Archduke Franz Ferdinand be buried in the United States? Let alone Tennessee?" but I put this thought aside for the sake of moving along in the story. They stop to see the Archduke, who Colin thinks will give him some kind of empowerment to move on with his life, and they meet Lindsey, who works at the general store and also gives tours of the Archduke's grave.
Lindsey's mom, Hollis, shows up later and recognizes Colin from a televised smartypants competition (which he won) called KranialKidz. She offers him and Hassan a place to stay and a job going around interviewing people in Gutshot for some kind of memorial thing she's putting together. They accept and move in with Lindsey and Hollis, who pretty much owns the town because her grandfather, Fred N. Dinzanfar, started the factory where everyone works or has worked.
The parts where they go around and interview people are kind of boring, so I'll skip to the part where Colin and Hassan get chased through the woods by a feral pig and a swarm of hornets into a graveyard where they find Hassan's new girlfriend and Lindsey's boyfriend, um, doing stuff. So they speak in Arabic and Hassan tells him to record the conversation [because of the interviews, Colin always has a tape recorder] with The Other Colin in which TOC admits that he's been cheating on Lindsey and threatens to beat Colin up if he tells her. So he doesn't tellher, he plays the recording, and there's a big fight, and Lindsey breaks up with TOC. During the fight, however, Colin looks up at the Archduke's grave and anagrams it and has a marvelous revelation... but that rascally John Green doesn't tell us what it is.
Later on, Lindsey tells Hollis she's spending the night at her friend Janet's (there is no Janet, as far as I know) when really she's going to her secret hiding place, this cave she hasn't shown to anyone but Colin-- not because she wanted to bring him there particularly, but because he is the only person skinny enough to fit through two rocks to get there. Colin realizes this is a code and goes to meet her there, and they argue over which of them is more self-centered (Lindsey says she is because she never does anything for anyone else and changes herself to be what they want her to be, Colin says he is because... he pretty much is), and then he tells her the story of all the Katherines. The first good story, according to Lindsey, that he has ever told.
So then they're all happy together and he's all "My first Lindsey," and she's all, "My second Colin." They go back home and Colin works them into the Theorem and discovers that she is supposed to break up with him after 4 days. So then on the 4th day, he wakes up all paranoid and finds a note next to his bed:
I hate to fulfill the Theorem, but I don't think we should be involved romantically. The problem is that I am secretly in love with Hassan. I can't help myself. I hold your bony shoulder blades in my hands and I think of his fleshy back. I kiss your stomach and I think of his awe-inspiring gut. I like you, Colin, I really do. But-- I'm sorry. It's just not going to work.
I hope we can still be friends.
Lindsey Lee Wells.
P.S. Just kidding.
And there it is: the "Eureka moment" that Colin has been waiting for.
"I figured something out," Colin said aloud. "The future is unpredictable."
Hassan said, "Sometimes the kafir* likes to say massively obvious things in a really profound voice."
Then later, Colin tells Lindsey about his revelation at the Archduke's grave. Franz Ferdinand anagrams to "Fred N. Dinzanfar," Lindsey's great-grandfather's name. So I was right and the Archduke is NOT buried there! It was one of Fred N. Dinzanfar's last wishes for his grave to read "Franz Ferdinand" because he, like Colin, wanted to be remembered. Except that eventually nobody will even know the secret, because everyone will think the Archduke is buried there. And he won't be remembered.
So finally Colin realizes that maybe it's not mattering that matters, because eventually even the most famous of people will be forgotten. Stories matter, because when you tell someone a story, it changes them in some way. Even forgotten stories matter, because of that whole spot-in-your-brain-for-neglected-truths thing. So he throws away the Theorem because he no longer believes that the point of being alive is to try to do something remarkable.

*"Kafir is a not-nice Arabic word meaning 'non-Muslim' that is usually translated as 'infidel.'" Also it's what Hassan always calls Colin when he's being all smartypants-y or self-centered or whatever. Also he calls him sitzpinkler, which is the German word for "wimp."

I am in love with this book.

I started a book yesterday. This book is called Anna and the French Kiss and it is by Stephanie Perkins. I have had it on my wish list for a while but was never really dying to buy it until John Green talked about it in a video he made, and then Hank read it and he talked about it too, and I was just like, "I have to see what all the fuss is about." And honestly, I'm shocked that they liked it as much as they say they did, because basically it's a teenage romance novel, but hey, these guys are known for their love of young adult fiction, so whatevs, right?
I finished Anna and the French Kiss today. 50 pages yesterday, 322 today. Seriously. I could not put it down, and not because it's a thriller or something like that, because honestly it's not. Nothing that exciting really happens. It's about a girl, Anna "Banana Elephant" Oliphant, whose father, the fictional version of Nicholas Sparks who goes by the pen name of "James Ashley," sends her from Atlanta to boarding school in Paris. She doesn't want to go, but he insists, and she hates him even more for it (she kind of hated him before, because he's a stuck-up sellout who makes more money off of movies made from his books than the books themselves). Anyway, when she gets there, the girl next door to her, Meredith, befriends her and she becomes friends with her whole group of friends, and they have a pretty fantastic dynamic. They're like those awesome friends who are all mean to each other, but at the same time they have no other friends so they have to love each other. And one of them, Etienne St. Clair, is like supposedly the most gorgeous creature on the planet (perhaps next to Finnick Odair and Gale Hawthorne, but I guess they don't exist yet, right?) and all the girls swoon over him. Anna does not want to swoon over him, but she kind of does. And they become best friends and Meredith is jealous because she has a massive crush on him, but Anna insists they're just friends because he has a girlfriend.
I'm not going to recount the entire plot, but generalizing it too much would probably make it sound like it's not interesting. But basically it's about fear-- Anna has a germ phobia, Etienne is afraid of heights, and they're both afraid of being alone-- and how people with screwed up lives can both screw each other's lives up more and also make them less screwed up. The fear of being alone is why he won't break up with his girlfriend for Anna, and she's all, "but you're not alone, a**hole! I've been here the whole time!" It's also why Anna has been pining after this guy at home (in Atlanta) even though there was never really anything there, and why she dates this other guy who likes her when she thinks it's not going anywhere with Etienne.
But, yes, there is a happy ending, even for poor Meredith. Except... I still haven't really explained why I couldn't put it down. It's the relationships, mostly the one between Anna and Etienne, because it's not at all like the gag-inducing, endless proclamations of love that you find in Twilight (yes, they have always annoyed me; I'm not just saying that because everyone else thinks the romance in Twilight is obnoxious). They fight with each other and make fun of each other and purposely annoy each other. They have debates about whether Robin lays an egg and the Joker got away or Robin flew away and Batman lost his wheel on the M1 motorway (Etienne is English). They argue over whether Etienne is English, because he grew up in England, but was born in America, but is also 1/4 French. Or whether it's Merry Christmas or Happy Christmas. They get excited when one of them knows something the other doesn't, and give each other their respective national versions of the finger. And at the same time, they're always thinking the same thing. Like, Anna thinks it, and then Etienne says it (i.e. she thinks that if there were an Olympics competition in hair, he would win, "hands down. Ten-point-oh. Gold metal," and then he starts playing with her hair and says, "you have perfect hair.") And they ask questions about each other that nobody else thinks to ask, because they actually care.
And in addition to this, there is the fact that all of Meredith and Etienne's friends just completely accepted Anna as one of their own, even though she's new. They act like she's been with them the whole time, and make fun of her for not knowing French, and call her "Atlanta" when she says "y'all," and they're able to tell the whole time that she and Etienne are in love with each other. But they don't say anything until something needs to be said, so Anna and St. Clair (friends call him by his last name, Anna decides to call him by his first once she realizes she loves him) stop dancing around each other and being afraid of it.
I don't know, I just love the entertainment factor of this book. It was funny but not deadpan/slapstick, romantic but not so lusty that you picture it all in soap-opera glow, and deep but not quite John Green what-is-the-meaning-of-life deep (which I love, by the way, but sometimes it's nice just to read without having to think about the words so much).
Authors are probably better at summing it up than I am, so here are the blurbs from the back cover:
"From the magical streets of Paris to its charming narrator, Anna and the French Kiss has it all. A wonderfully winning book!" -Robin Benway
"No one captures the exhilarating and exhausting 'but-does-he-like-me?!' question better than Stephanie Perkins. A scrumptious read." -Justina Chen Headley
"Very sly. Very funny. Very romantic. You should date this book." -Secret Sister Maureen Johnson
"Smart and sensual, Anna and the French Kiss is everything your heart is longing for. You'll want to live inside this story forever. More, s'il vous plait!" -Lisa McMann
"Imagine a mug of rich, thick hot chocolate. Now add a swirl of whipped cream. Yummy? Oui. Well, Anna and the French Kiss is richer, sweeter, and-- yes-- even hotter. You're in for a very special treat." -Lauren Myracle (who wrote 1/3 of a book with John Green)

I had to put this on here.

It is time for the big long summary-of-the-concert blog.
I'll start with Friday because the rest of last week is pretty much an unimportant blur now. All I remember is working on Monday 4-8, which wasn't bad because Dawn and Chris left at like 5 and Jason was closing, watching Pretty Little Liars and 9LCK in my room on Tuesday [really, Chloe should just end this whole thing with Hastings- I mean "Brian"- because they have absolutely no chemistry, and be with Alyec, which I guess is how his name is spelled in the books. Oh and also, go Spoby.], cutting our shirts on Wednesday I think, and watching Wipeout on Thursday.
So, Friday I got up at 9:30 and took a shower and stuff, our mom got us McDonald's for breakfast, and then we left around 11. There was traffic around the Lee outlets so it took us about an hour to go five GPS-minutes. During the traffic we ended up making friends with a truck full of guys we named Taco (the Mexican), Wigwam (the Indian/Native American), and Pocket Protector (the geek). PP was very excited to see us, but Taco gave us the creeps.
We got to the hotel around 3:30ish and then decided to make a spontaneous trip to Boston, forgetting that we were supposed to go see Cars 2. I actually think that was Toni's plan all along, to do something other than go to the movies, because Mike insisted that she could not see it without him. Whatevs, Boston was more fun and honestly I wasn't all that interested in seeing Cars 2 in theater.
It ended up being a not-so-spontaneous trip because we had to call the shuttle to come get us, and then wait at the train station not quite knowing when the train to Boston would come, and then take the train to Boston. After making like 4 other stops, of course. It took a long time. By the time we got to Boston we were starving and still had to find our way to the Hard Rock Cafe on foot. After Google Mapping it and asking a professional-looking Bostonian, we managed to locate Quincy Market. Then we asked a cop which side the Hard Rock Cafe was on (we totally

could've found it if we had just turned the right corner). I remember how long our food took, but they gave us the perfect amount of fries. Except they put onions in my mom's salad and tekkeybugga (turkey burger), so she had to get another one, and I think they almost forgot to bring out Toni's dinner-- which would've been bad considering it cost $19.50. After that I got a hot fudge brownie sundae, which was delicious and rapid-melting, and Shaune got a regular hot fudge sundae. We couldn't finish the whole things.
After dinner we took some pictures of the pretty lit trees outside the Hard Rock and walked back to South Station. It was easier to find our way back, except colder too. The Boston wind never fails to greet us when we visit.

At the station we had to wait for the Providence train, which would stop in Mansfield (the station we left from), so we got hot chocolate from McDonald's and sat at a table for what seemed like a long time. I don't really know how long it was. The train came at like 10:35 or something and they made us move to a less comfortable car after we sat down. Oh and also there was a guy who kept biting his fingernails and then sniffing them. ??????
When we finally got back to the Mansfield station, we called the shuttle to come pick us up, only they said it might be a while because there was a Peter Gabriel concert that night, so they gave us the number to a taxi that might be able to bring us back to the hotel. The taxi guy said he'd call us when there was a car available, so we were stuck waiting at the station. Eventually we decided to just walk back to the hotel. We got about halfway there when the taxi guy called and said he could pick us up, so we waited at a Mobil station for him. There were cops busting some people in the parking lot; drugs I'm guessing. Anyway, when we finally got back to the hotel we were all exhausted and pretty much just went to bed.

On Saturday I woke up and went into my mom and Aunt Patti's room and ate donuts for breakfast. We talked about what we should do that day, and decided on shopping. Sooo they found a mall, we all got ready, and we went. They had an AWESOME Forever21 there, which, coming from me, says something because I pretty much can't stand that store anymore. They played good music and it even seemed a little organized. It probably helped that it was huge. Now I feel like they should move the Forever21 in our mall to where JCPenney used to be. Or at least part of it. They need more space. Anyway, I got a dress, a shirt, a belt, a necklace and a jumper (which at the time I thought was a dress). My mom and Shaune got a bunch of stuff too. After that we found a Dippin' Dots VENDING MACHINE, so I got a cookie dough one and it was fabulous, and we walked around some more. They had a Disney store too, but I didn't get anything there. Toni got a Mater bag and stuffed "animal" haha. Then we found an American Eagle and just had to go in, because my mom is obsessed with that store these days, and I got a pair of pants for the concert seeing I only brought one pair for the weekend and wore them on Friday night.
We went to The 99 next to our hotel for dinner/lunch and it took a long. freaking. time. for our food, even though we all specifically ordered stuff that wouldn't take long. I could see the kitchen from my seat and kept watching plates leave and go to other tables, and I saw a plate of fries go up on the counter and then a waitress bit a fry, put it back on the plate, and slid the plate over so that nobody would take it out to a table by mistake. Come on! Feed the customers!
After that we went back to the hotel, got ready, and met the shuttle to bring us to the concert. When we got there it was eerily similar to last year. All of a sudden the sky was mostly blue, with a few clouds here and there, like TSwift herself pulled

that off, and we walked the same sidewalk to the stadium, only instead of getting our t-shirts in the hoard of people at the outside vendor, we went straight inside and got them where Toni and Aunt Patti got theirs last year. Got sodas and popcorn too, and then went to find our seats. SO MUCH BETTER THAN LAST YEAR.When we sat down, the sun was really hot. I mentally kicked myself for forgetting sunglasses this one time in my whole life. Eventually James Wesley came on and did 3 songs, then Randy Montana did 3, and then Needtobreathe came on and did 4 or 5-- during which the wave was started again. Just like last year. It finally started to get dark out, and then the lights turned off and the stage went dark and the crowd went wild and up comes TSwift, singing Sparks Fly. It was pretty awesome.

After the first song, she goes "Foxboro, Massachusetts, you have outdone yourselves!" in that I'm-so-excited-I-can-hardly-contain-myself voice that she has when she's talking to 50,000+ people, and continued to talk about how she can't believe this is her life, you know, the uzshe (is that how you'd spell it?). Anyway, here are the songs she did (probably not in this order though):
Sparks Fly, Mine, The Story of Us, Our Song, Mean-- it was so funny, she was thrown up from under the stage when the "mean" guy pulled a lever, flying at least 7 feet in the air, Back to December/Apologize/You're Not Sorry, Better than Revenge, Speak Now, Fearless, You Belong with Me, Last Kiss, Fifteen, Dear John, Enchanted, Haunted, Long Live, Love Story
My favorite parts of the whole night were obviously the parts where she was standing there in awe staring at the crowd, like last year, and the fireworks during Dear John [I considered that she might do that, but was not expecting it], and of course, Long Live. Seeing her perform that song live at the very place I suspect played a part in the inspiration for the song was just... unforgettable. She had tears in her eyes the same way I do every time I just hear that song. And

then I loved how genuinely happy she was at the end of the concert, after she sang Love Story (and came out over the audience "on a balcony in summer air") and was bowing and hugging her band and everything, I have never seen someone smile that big in my life. I got a few good pictures of it. It didn't seem like enough songs, considering she has 3 albums and the concert was 4 hours long and she only sang one song from her first album. I'm sure she had her reasons for not singing Tim McGraw, but I'm not sure I can squash this little bit of resentment I feel about it.
Either way, the concert was amazing. I loved the set so much more this year than last year. There were a lot of mystical trees and pretty lights and glitter that wasn't corny, and she wore dresses that weren't just sparkly. And I LOVED the fiberoptic-looking tree, even though my camera wouldn't take good pictures of it. I want one for my room.

Oh, I forgot to mention, it was pouring rain for most of the show. From the moment she started singing Fearless and said, "Something 'bout the way, the street looks when it's just rained." I swear, she is descendant from ancient Greek gods or something. The girl is pure magic. Rain! And she still came out, instead of just staying on the main stage under the roof. I didn't expect her to stay on stage, anyway. She's the kind of person who lives for dancing in the rain, and she gets to do it with 52,000 people who are there just to see her? Seriously, I just want to live her life for a day.

Needless to say, I will never forget that concert. Kind of like how she tweeted after the showing saying she'd never forget it, only I wasn't the person living out my dreams. I was just witnessing it, but when you're in an audience experiencing something with Taylor Swift, you become a part of it. It becomes a part of you. I don't even think words can describe it, but somehow she'll manage to find the exact ones and put it into song, and I'll think, "why didn't I think of that?!" even though I already know the answer: because I'm not Taylor Swift. Oh, how I always seem to have that fact rubbed in my face.

When it was over, I suddenly realized how cold I was, and we still had to walk all the way back to where the shuttle picks us up. And wait. And wait. And just like last year, we were the last ones to get picked up. Again. And there was another crazy lady throwing a fit because someone got in the van before her even though she had been "waiting a lot longer than them." Give me a break; the concert ended at the same time for all of us. Just because you booked it out of there, maybe even skipped the last song, does not give you the right to kick someone out of a van because you can't be bothered to stand in the rain for one more second. I just hate that moment when I'm shoved back into reality, where people are rude and selfish and obnoxious, after I've been living in the magical world created by TSwift, where people shine like fireworks and even heartbreak is beautiful in a depressing, saddest-song-in-the-world type of way, and love is a fascinating phenomenon rather than a word people throw around without considering its meaning.

Anyway. When we got back to the hotel we ate and watched TV and went to bed. Sunday we packed up, stopped at another crappy diner for breakfast, and hit the road again. Seriously someday we're going to find one of those diamond-in-the-rough diners, but it did not happen this time. I ordered one chocolate chip pancake, and it came out with about a quarter-stick of butter on top of it, melting and seeping through the whole thing, which was the size of the plate by the way. It was disgusting. I took the unmelted butter off and cut around the parts where it had already seeped in. I probably only ate 1/3 of the whole thing, but it tasted more like butter than chocolate and it was gross. Also the chocolate milk was all grainy, ick.
The ride home was pretty uneventful. I don't feel like writing about the rest of yesterday.
She had another show at Gillette Stadium yesterday, but I guarantee it was not as memorable as ours. Thank you, rain.

Song of the Day: Dear John.
When she sang "you paint me a blue sky, then go back and turn it to rain" she gave the audience a look that was like "ha, yep, you know what I'm talking about." It was funny.

Thanks for the rant, Brenda

Dear Brenda Hampton,
What did the television-viewing world ever do to you, other than give 11 seasons to a show that did not deserve half a season? Why are you punishing both viewers and credible writers whose decent shows have not made it while your newest horrible one has? And now you’re getting another ABCFamily show I hear? Please, just stop. 7th Heaven was bad enough. You made your point; you think Christianity is awesome.
But no, that’s actually part of the problem. Secret Life started off as a show promoting Christianity, which, even though I’m about as religion-neutral as it gets, I didn’t mind. Because at least it had a point, and at least that point was something ridiculous enough to entertain me. Now the point is what? All sex, all the time? Even the super-duper-Christian chick is getting tested for STDs now?! What happened here? I can’t even watch it just to make fun of it anymore; it’s THAT painful.
Which brings me to my next point: It is not necessary for every single episode of this show to be a boisterous, repetitive, blatant PSA. That’s what the ACTUAL PSA at the end is for. Give us a break from the constant “life lessons” that your target demographic doesn’t actually have to deal with on a regular basis. Because honestly, anyone of average intelligence over 15 who still watches your show only does so to make fun of it. I guarantee it.
Moving along, did anyone ever teach you about the value of a good character? I really don’t think they did. Secret Life has exactly one character that is worth anyone’s time, but she is so poorly expressed that it’s not compelling unless you really look for it [which you shouldn’t have to do. Good characters shout at you.]. Your main character is, and I’m not going out on a limb here, the worst character I have ever had the displeasure of encountering. Amy Juergens, the girl who gets pregnant at band camp and proceeds to view the world as indebted to her, gets “married” and then breaks up with the guy, gets back together with the babydaddy, and proposes to him?! This chick is more indecisive than I am! Me! The girl without a favorite anything! And the rest of the characters are just variations of each other: the semi-Christian girl obsessed with sex, the two annoying best friends obsessed with sex, the jock obsessed with sex, the player/babydaddy obsessed with sex, and so on. Ashley is the only character who seems to have her head on straight, but again, she isn’t compelling enough. And Ben is just annoying, with his “wow, life just took on so much more meaning to me” revelations every single episode.
Let’s go on to the dialogue, shall we? Exactly how many times can someone say the same word in one conversation? Is that the record you’re trying to break here? Because I’m pretty sure you can put your name on a spot on the Guinness Book of World Records. And why, exactly, do the characters always have to repeat the question someone has just asked them before they answer it? Does anyone really do that in real life? NO. If you took out all of the repeated words and phrases in this show, each episode would be a half hour long. Which would be much more tolerable.
Have I gotten anything wrong here? I’ll admit, I haven’t actually watched the show since the first season, but something tells me (from the glimpses I caught tonight while I was too lazy to change the channel) that it has not changed. Yeah, I didn’t think so. The only good thing about this show is that it gives me something to rant about.
Come on, Brenda. You’re wasting good talent here. Not yours— because let’s be honest, you don’t have any— but everyone else’s. Because they could ALL be doing better, even if their acting abilities culminate on Secret Life.
Salutations (because I don’t know how to end this letter… condolences? Deepest apologies for my scathing review of your career?),
P.S. The title doesn’t even make sense. “The Secret Life of the American Teenager.” Not only is that demeaning and judgmental of American teenagers, but it does not correspond with the show at all. There is nothing SECRET about these people’s lives. They talk to everyone about everything they do.


"From the director of Twilight"-- Oh really? I couldn't tell. Everything about this movie screamed Twilight, from the aerial mountain shots to the focus on people's facial expressions, even down to the CGI wolf and certain parts of the plot (two possible suitors for one girl, hmm). And most of the parts that didn't scream Twilight, to me, screamed Hunger Games. I really don't even think that's just because I've had The Hunger Games on the mind lately; I am pretty sure that whoever wrote this movie had recently read it. First of all, those two possible suitors looked and acted shockingly like the descriptions of Gale and Peeta. Peter, Valerie's friend she MET IN THE WOODS when they were KIDS and with whom she BREAKS RULES and GOES HUNTING, wants to RUN AWAY with her, and is JEALOUS that she has been fixed up with someone else. Enter Henry, the guy Valerie's town has arranged for her to marry, in whom she has to PRETEND she's interested even though HE DOESN'T. Poor Henry's not pretending, he'll go ahead and RISK HIS OWN LIFE to make sure she's protected. He'll even WORK WITH Peter when necessary, even though he KNOWS Peter and Valerie have a history. Peter and Henry don't like each other AT FIRST, but then come to ACCEPT each other. Peter has dark hair and dark eyes, Henry has light hair (and dark eyes, which is one difference because Peeta has blue eyes). While these two seem to be complete knockoffs, Valerie doesn't compare with Katniss at all, except for one point which I will get to later. Basically all we know about her is that she loves Peter and is willing to accuse anyone of being the wolf... except the person who actually is the wolf. The attraction to her seems to be inexplicable and therefore chalked up to only her looks, while Katniss is pretty much the best central character ever created. Just saying.
Secondly, there's the whole concept of Valerie becoming pretty much the symbol of everything her town hates, and the red riding hood being the symbol upon the symbol-- aka mockingjay pin-- but they are divided on whether or not to use her as a way of getting rid of the wolf. Those who care about her don't want her to go, those who care more about their way of life are ready to literally feed her to the wolves. This is oddly familiar. [If you can't figure out why, don't ask. I can't tell you.]
I found these comparisons distracting during the movie, to the point where I was actually laughing at the ridiculousness of it. Especially seeing she threw away a perfectly good guy (or should I say Good Guy), for a guy who turned into a werewolf in the end-- oops, did I give it away?-- when the explanation for the main character's ultimate choice in Mockingjay was explained much better and made more sense.
Getting away from the comparisons now, I didn't totally hate Red Riding Hood. There were a few plot twists I found intriguing that, believe it or not, actually helped move the story along. As a different take on the old, so-called "children's story," I thought it was more than sufficient, if a bit unforgiving (a little comedic relief would've been nice now and then, for a story that was so laughable). Frankly I never enjoyed the whole wolf-ate-my-grandma idea anyway. Not to mention Amanda Seyfried is never awkward or annoying to watch onscreen. I think there will be mixed reactions to the open-endedness of it, but I liked it because it left room for a sequel while also being enough of a conclusion to stand on its own, considering its numbers at the box office probably won't encourage the production company to jump at the chance to pay for a sequel.
All in all, it depends on what kind of love story you like. If you want it to be a happily-ever-after, nobody-gets-hurt, we-all-hold-hands-in-Whoville type of ending, don't watch. If you're a fan of Twilight or, you guessed it, The Hunger Games, go ahead and watch it, but I don't guarantee you'll be satisfied. C+


So. I finished watching the series finale of Friday Night Lights about two and a half hours ago, and I think I gave myself enough time to fully process it so I can write this.
If I thought the Life Unexpected finale was perfect, well, this was even more perfect. Not only was it a super-long episode (I'm guessing it took an hour and a half to air, because it was an hour and 5 minutes long), which was necessary because of the many, many storylines that had to be wrapped up in what seemed like it was going to be a rushed, complicated episode, but the way they wrapped it all up was perfect. Only a show like this show could have you wondering, going into the last episode, how they could possibly tie up all the loose ends, and then wondering how it could've gone any other way after watching it.
The main focus of the episode was Coach and Mrs. Coach's dilemma about whether they should move to Philadelphia or not. What better way to solve that problem than to have Matt propose to Julie? It required Coach to give them his thoughts on marriage, that it's about sacrifice and compromise on both parts, which in turn made Mrs. Coach offer to stay in Texas because she was never going to win that fight. But alas, that made coach realize it was his turn to sacrifice something for her. Bam, decision made. Thank you, Matt Saracen.
Speaking of Matt Saracen, um, hello, HE PROPOSED TO JULIE. Now don't ask me what it was, but for some reason I've been having a feeling lately that he might. Not like, "I bet he's going to propose to her," because it really was a surprise, but I've just been thinking about how Coach and Mrs. Coach got married young and how Matt and Julie are like junior Coach & Mrs. Coach, and it would only make sense for them to get married young. Also, that would eliminate doubt about whether their relationship would last this time, and it would require Julie to move to Chicago. And it did.
Bonus: we got to see Landry give one last piece of bad advice to poor, unsuspecting Matt.
Then we move on to Tim and Tyra. I never really thought they were meant to be, but then they had to go and make Tyra say, "I've been in love with you since I was five years old." Just picturing the sheer cuteness of that made me kind of like them as a couple, even if it is slightly creepy and weird, as Mindy said.
Which brings me to Mindy. I love how attached she got to Becky, and how sad she was that Becky was moving out. As much as I wish Becky could've kept living with the Riggins clan, it wouldn't have been realistic and we would've been left wondering what would happen when she moved out. Would she still be a member of the Riggins family? Of course, that question was answered.
Speaking of Becky, I am so happy they had Luke show up at her house with a teddy bear and flowers. I wasn't sure if they were going to get back together in one episode, because he was a pretty big jerk in last week's episode, but his adorability was just so overwhelming that she had to take him back. And they stayed together. What I didn't like-- in fact, it made me gasp out loud and say "no!"-- was that Luke joined the Army. That is the one question left in my mind: why wouldn't Luke just go to some local college where he could learn about agriculture and farm stuff, so he could live on a farm with Becky? Luke Cafferty, while noble and respectful and all that good stuff, cannot join the Army. He has an injured hip, for crying out loud.
Anyway. I didn't really understand the point of having Vince's dad go to state-- yeah, he was there to see his son win and everything, but still. I wish the dude would just go away.

I think my favorite part (besides Matt proposing and Landry being in it) was the part where they show what happened to everyone 8 months later. They interrupted the last crucial minutes of the State Championship to show it, leaving us wondering for a couple of seconds what happened. And then you see Vince at practice with the Panthers, and immediately you look at his finger. State Championship ring. BAM. And then we've got the image of them taking down the Lions scoreboard, just like the image of them putting it up during the opening sequence. Freaking ah, how did they made BOTH of them so powerful?
You see Tim Riggins' dream coming true, him building his house on his land with his brother. They show Matt and Julie in Matt's Chicago apartment together, Coach as the coach of a high school football team in Pennsylvania (wearing GREEN =O), Jess shadowing a coach [or assistant coaching?] at her new school in Dallas-- because Coach is such a softy and called in a favor-- and Billy even got a coaching job with the Panthers, which I just realized was probably possible because they had funds left over seeing Coach turned down the head coaching job. Oh, how things that seem bad on this show always end up being good. Bonus: Buddy Junior and Tink both managed to get spots on the Panthers. I already mentioned Luke going into the Army, but they show him getting on the bus and Becky crying and waving goodbye to him, with his State ring in her hand. They always make all the main high school couples so real, like they could never break up [again].
Aaaaand finally, the most real couple of them all, the last image of the whole show is the image of Coach and Mrs. Coach walking across his new football field. Just like on Herrmann Field in the credits of the first 3 seasons, just like on the Lions field at the end of season 3 (and the opening sequence for seasons 4 & 5), just like the show could keep going the way it always has. Heck, they even had Tim Riggins say "Texas forever," just like in the pilot. Like nothing changes.
Most shows make the series finale seem like that's the end for all the characters. After everything has concluded, you never really find a desire to see where it could all go from there, but the last scene of Friday Night Lights did nothing to satiate my need for more. I want to see him bring that green football team to state, even though it's not the Texas High School Football State Championship. I want to see Coach and Mrs. Coach have more stupid little arguments that don't weaken their relationship at all. I want more compromises and sacrifices. And at the same time, I'm okay knowing that I won't get any, because I feel like I know how it would go. Like I said, there are very few questions left.

Anyway, I feel like a lot of people might have been disappointed that there wasn't really a detailed football game in the series finale, but I think it made the episode even more perfect. It solidified my point that it's not a show about football, it's a show about people whose lives are connected through football.
Basically, it's pretty much just one of the best shows ever. I already pre-ordered the last season because I refuse to say goodbye to Dillon, Texas.

First up: Divergent

The main character lives in dystopian (SHOCK) Chicago-- although they never really say in the book that it's Chicago, it's in the description-- where everyone is forced to choose between five "factions" to live in for the rest of their lives. The factions were created to eliminate the reasons for a "warring world" or "inclination toward evil." There's Amity, the friendly, for those who blamed aggression for the world's "disarray;" Erudite, the intelligent, for those who blamed ignorance; Candor, the honest, for those who blamed duplicity; Abnegation, the selfless, for those who blamed selfishness; and Dauntless, the brave, for those who blamed cowardice. At sixteen each citizen gets to choose a faction and live in it for the rest of their lives. If they choose a faction different from that of their family (i.e. the main character is Abnegation-born but chooses Dauntless), they are basically not allowed to show affection toward their family anymore because the motto is "faction over blood." Some parents would also consider it a betrayal if their child chose a faction other than the one they were raised in.
Anyway, it turns out it's really difficult to keep up this system, because most people do not exhibit only one quality, but are a combination of them all. Plus, if the wrong factions start working together, it could be disastrous [i.e. if the smart people use the brave people as soldiers for their own selfish war...].
You may be wondering [you probably aren't], what's "Divergent?" Well, that's kind of the whole point. Divergent are the ones who don't fit one specific faction, and are therefore a threat to the system because they have reason to rebel against it. This is a problem.
Meanwhile, the main character must go through an initiation to become a member of the Dauntless, which requires fighting, jumping on/off trains/buildings, facing her worst fears in simulations, and trying not to get killed in her sleep by her nemesis Peter, or thrown out and turned "factionless" by the villain of the book, appropriately named Eric. Not to skip over her developing relationship with another Abnegation-turned-Dauntless, which is actually a main focus even though there's so much else going on.
Probably my favorite thing about this book is that it's not trying to be The Hunger Games. It's completely different, just in the same genre. The main character is a little Katniss-like, but she's a lot more intentional about being brave [like, she has to remind herself that she can't be weak], and a lot more clueless about other things, because she wants to prove that she belongs in Dauntless and that's all she wants to focus on. Also the books are similarly gory.

I guess that's a little more than the basic idea. The next one doesn't come out until next May and I'm itching for it NOW.