Monday, August 23, 2010

Surf City

Right now I'm at an undisclosed location in Southern California (read: Huntington Beach) and it has come to my attention that I am

1.) Shockingly pale.

2.) Lacking a surfboard

3.) The owner of frizzy normal-people hair instead of glossy beach waves.

Its amazing how you can travel just a few miles and the culture is completely different. I'm waiting for an indie-surfer chick to come and beat me with her woven headband and tell me to get lost.

-Ellie- who-needs-bronzed-sunkissed-skin

Thursday, August 12, 2010

Apples, Apathy, and Life Lessons While Blogging

So I've been blogging and writing articles for Sparklife for a few months now and you'd be surprised at how much you learn about yourself by doing this. Here are just a few of those things.

Note: This is not a stream of consciousness post...I'm not that deep.

1.) I am a stalker. Most bloggers have a sense of pride, dignity, and decorum. I have none of those things, so it is no big deal for me to admit that I obsess over every post I write. On Sparknotes, I practically have every comment on The Ellie Report series memorized. Before I got that series I would run around and scream in happiness each time I was told I was being published. I don't know when I became this crazy but here I am.

2.) Being funny is SO HARD. Getting lucky with a couple posts is one thing, but deliberately putting in the effort to make people laugh every week is harder than I imagined. It's not that its hard to make a joke. The hard part comes in when trying to come up with a creative, interesting idea, and to weave humor throughout a cohesive, readable article. It's easy to make a fart joke; it's hard to make a fart joke 600 words long. It is also becoming clear to me that I have an odd sense of humor. I think its super funny to analyze songs and rip them to shreds, but a lot of people are curious to why I would try to look deeply at the meaning of a pop song. Sometimes the joke works; most times it doesn't. Either way, I LOVE WRITING THEM.

3.) I like swivel chairs. I've written at home, at work, at the coffee shop, and while driving. (I don't recommend the last one.) The place I love to write most is work because of the swivel chairs. Maybe I'm Dr. Evil, but there is nothing more delightful than being able to move in any direction I want, WHENEVER I feel like it. It's a small, but liberating freedom.

4.) No one cares. I don't mean this in a misanthropic way. I just mean that if I tell you that I finally beat Jumpstart 3rd Grade, there's only so much happiness you can have for my small victory before you call me an idiot. By the way, even after 12 years, that's still my favorite game.

5.) Mundane topics become viable writing subjects. When you start looking at things from a writers point of view, you realize how many things there are to write about. (Not that I consider myself a writer. I'm not that conceited. I guess the term "girl with a computer, schizophrenia, and a lot of coffee" is more accurate than "writer.") If you see a girl walking down the street with purple hair and a pet wombat, you instantly have 5 ways you can incorporate her in the essay you're writing. You can easily think of her hair as a metaphor for the breakdown of families in Western Civilization, and her wombat as some sort of physical representation of deforestation. Basically, writing makes it easy to make outrageous leaps of logic with little or no facts. For example: People who eat apples are 35% more likely to die in the Southern Hemisphere. See how easy it is!

6.) When you sleep, you grow by about 8mm (0.3in). The next day you shrink back to your former height. The reason is that your cartilage discs are squeezed like sponges by the force of gravity when you stand or sit. You may be thinking, "Ellie, dear, how does this relate to things you learned while writing?" The answer is this: I started writing this post and then left to google this fact. Then I came back and continued to write. Hence, it is something I learned while writing.

If you hate my enlightening post, at least you can come away saying that you learned something.

So there are a few things that I've learned while blogging. There are a million more things, but people are starting to get pissed that I'm "wasting time and resources" (whatever) so that's all I've got for now.

If you can, make a response post and tell me what you've learned while blogging/vlogging/eating mac and cheese.

-Enlightened Ellie

P.S. Up next: more Blogging the Hunger Games! Unless you hate that I blog that book...then just read the previous sentence without an exclamation.

Wednesday, August 11, 2010

The Ways of the Nerd

There are MANY things I don't understand. The continued success of The Real World for example. Here is just another post about my ignorance.

Let me begin by saying that I love nerds. (I also love making sweeping generalizations about large groups of people.)

From Richie Cunningham to Steve Urkel; I’ll take ‘em all. But there are a few things that my nerd-loves obsess over. I’m here to explore some of these things in an effort to understand them further.

1.) Their Pens – As we know, the term “nerd” is virtually synonymous with “brilliant mind.” Of course, they need a superior writing utensil to get those mental gems on paper. Sure, paying $46.99 for a pen is absurd, but a nerd considers this a small price to pay for scribbling in style.

2.) Their Security – I am more baffled by this than all of the Matrix movies combined, but nerds are infatuated about their security. Everything they own is either password protected or locked in a safe at the bottom of the Pacific Ocean. I’m not sure if they’re only hiding video games, or if they’ve come up with some way to use an Orwellian-Big Brother plot to control the masses. Either way, it’s under lock and key and you’d better believe you’ll never see it.

3.) Conspiracy Theories – Extra Terrestrials are coming to harvest humans as fuel. Steve Jobs has implanted subliminal messages in all Macbooks. The government inserts mind-control chips into newborns. Oh yes, nerds spend countless hours speculating about the clandestine goings-on of the world around us. People think they’re crazy, but when grandma is brainwashed into thinking Jersey Shore is a great show, you’ll come crawling back to nerds asking for help.

4.) World of Warcraft – Don’t ask me to explain ANYTHING about this game, because I have no idea. For all I know the entire game is about a bloody battle between fairies and aliens. What I do know is that my popularity-challenged friends are enraptured with this game. Maybe it has some sort of heroin-like effect on them. They feel like they have to come back for more or they’ll erupt in shivers and cold-sweat. Whatever it is, if it came down to World of Warcraft or me…I’d better get ready for rejection.


P.S. What did I miss?

Thursday, August 5, 2010

Blogging The Hunger Games: Part 3

Title: Chapters 4&5
My Title: She's on fire ya'll; ON FIRE!

There is a saying that a bird in the hand is worth two in the bush. This has nothing to do with this section, but it's a saying nonetheless.

*Blank stares*

This section starts off with Katniss in the train with Peeta (whom I really just want to call Peter; maybe I'll use it as his superhero name), Effie Trinkett: assistant/bumbling idiot, and a delightfully inebriated Haymitch.

When she gets in bed she says that now would be a perfect time to cry about what is happening, but doesn't. Want to know why? Because she has been genetically enhanced to be too sublime for tears. Maybe she's part god like Percy Jackson or Oprah. Or maybe she's a wizard like Harry Potter. Or maybe ThunderKats don't have tear ducts. Either way, I worship her.

The next morning she goes to breakfast with Peeta and Haymtitch already there. Peeta/Peter and ThunderKat start eating like Oprah after quitting a Dr. Oz in, like a starving woolly mammoth. After she eats enough to be obese in a week, she turns to Haymitch and gets down to business. Katniss asks for pointers in the arena of the Hunger Games; what to expect, what to do, that kind of thing. Haymitch, being what I can only imagine as an exact replica of Hugh Laurie's character Dr. House, retorts with, "Here's some advice. Stay alive." It's obvious at this point that Haymitch has no plans to aid the kids on the way to the slaughterhouse.

This doesn't go over well with Katniss and Peeta. People are so testy when faced with mortal danger!

They get so pissed they turn into their alter-egos, ThunderKat and Peter. Peter takes the liquor in Haymitch's hand and throws it to the ground. Peter and Haymitch get into a fist fight. (I just proposed to the book) Then -AND I QUOTE- "When he (Haymitch) turns back to reach for the spirits, I drive my knife into the table between his hand and the bottle, barely missing his fingers." I re-read that sentence forty times, each time with "Eye of the Tiger" from 'Rocky' playing in my head. (Go on, try it.)

This is a protagonist if I've ever seen one. Not once has she talked about clothes, hair, and/or how heartbroken she is after some jerk-off broke up with her behind the quad. Just ghastly acts of assult from this girl. "Eye of the Tiger" is still playing in my head. And I picture her standing on top of a mountain, wind blowing through her hair, and sweeping her aerodynamically engineered cape (that I made for her) from side to side.

I digress.

Haymitch asks himself if he finally has a pair of fighters on his hands. He just met Peter and ThunderKat so I think he can safely assume the answer to that riddle is yes. He asks Katniss if she is competent with throwing the knife at anything besides him. She answers by sending a knife into the wall so hard that it sticks. (BAM. Insta-girl-crush) He doesn't even need to ask Peeta/Peter what he's got to offer. The blood on Haymitch and the bruise on Peeta is answer enough.

When Haymitch realizes that he has Joan of Arc and Bruce Wayne in his presence, he cuts them a deal. If they will do exactly what he says, Haymitch promises to stay sober long enough to help him. (Sort of like earlier today when my mom said she'd give me twenty bucks if I didn't tell people we were related. I wonder what that was about.)

After Katniss and Peeta agree to these terms they stand on the train for a few moments. Suddenly they are in the ruling city of Panem, the Capitol. They have only seen it on television and are stunned by the magnificence of the place that sends kids into the arena with a sword and a slice of beef jerky. Okay, I might have made up the equipment they get. Whatever. The point is the Capitol is pretty flippin' alluring for a town filled with flaming savages. Like Ted Bundy or playing Go Fish. (Everyone knows Go Fish is all fun and games for the first two minutes, until you're in a corner crying about Nana Helen cheating on her "pair" of sixes, which was clearly a six and a nine.) They noticed how different the people were in the Capitol compared to their poor, simple Disrtict 12. They talk about people with abnormal hair colors, painted faces, and ridiculous clothes. The people begin to recognize the train as holding the tributes from District 12. Katniss is sickened by their eagerness to watch them die as televised entertainment. Peeta doesn't move away from the window, but instead waves to them. He says that one of them may be rich. Might as well start winning sponsors now. Katniss realizes this means he hasn't accepted his death. This also means that Peeta is fighting hard to kill her.

It always puts a damper on the romance when the sexy, boy next door wants to spear you.

The next chapter starts with Katniss, already off the train, in the care of the stylists getting basic grooming things done; bathing, waxing, get the idea. This is a young adult novel written by a female so I'm not very surprised that there is a make-over scene. (Please, literary gods, let there be a flamboyant male stylist with frosted tips and guy-liner in the next few pages.) After the assistant stylist are finished with the basics, they call in the main stylist.

*Crosses fingers for Eugene and his leather pants*

We meet the stylist who turns out to be a young man named Cinna. He is not at all like the sassy man-stylist I pictured, but is pensive and kind. It is Cinna's first year in the Games and he has a heart for friendship and an eye for style. I guess he would be Hugh Dancy in Prada platforms.

It's funny that people get all beautified to do interviews before entering an arena with contestants more similar to wild bulls than teenagers. I suppose its similar to how people make their Thanksgiving turkeys look so amazing. We like to devour attractive things.

After being consulted with and waxed within an inch of her life, she takes a food break and talks to Cinna. He turns out to be a decent guy, even remarking that the people of the Capitol must be despicable to her. Seeing as he is from the Capitol, this is an amazing and dangerous thing to admit. Sort of like being a producer for the Oprah Show and telling someone that you hate the Queen of all Media herself. (I'm convinced she would not be convicted if she chose to kill someone. At least I'd be too terrified to give her a 'guilty' verdict.)

All this styling is in preparation to ride in a parade with all the tributes as sort of a "Welcome To the Final Moments of Your Life" celebration. Remember that the rulers of Panem are gargantuan douche bags who make everyone act like this is all a huge honor. (Can we say, "Orwell?")

It turns out that Cinna is a genius and thinks out his style-creations so well that it has the effect of making people feel the way he wants them to. He dresses both Katniss and Peeta in black unitards and boots. Pretty simple right? No! He also gives them a circlet/tiara and cape. (Ha! He's on board with the cape idea also! Maybe Katniss threw a knife for Cinna and he realized how BA she is. The he probably gave her the cape. And a moose-head as a trophy. Just guessing.) Here's the thing: when Cinna gives the go ahead, a synthetic flame lights the headpiece and cape.

She has a crown of fire?



I'm so awestruck by how stupendous the events of this book are that I go take a break to calm myself down.

After I am no longer plum-flustered by the crown of fire, *excited giggle* I put my 'ThunderKat for president' screen tee back on and continue reading.

ThunderKat and Peeta are put on display for everyone to see and the crowd is just as enamored by them as I was. Through this whole ordeal Peeta is kind and supportive to Katniss. He holds her hand in comfort and acts as if they are a team. He seems so generous that a warning bell goes off in Katniss' head. She reminds herself that this sweet, caring boy is planning to kill her. Much like when you look at a haunted house and realize that this brick-full-o'-fun is actually full of people hired expressly to make you wet your pants.

She sees through what she believes to be Peeta's sugar-coated disguise, and decides two can play this game. She reaches up and kisses his cheek. Right on his bruise.

Oh no she didn't!

In conclusion, in two chapters she manages to threaten people's lives with a knife, get in a fight, make a game plan to kill everyone in her path, wear a crown and cape of FIRE, double-cross the boy who saved her life, and do it all while lookin' like a stone cold fox.

Did I leave anything out?

Prediction: Peeta is so amazed by Katniss that he tries to engage her in a bloody, "star-crossed lovers" affair.

Peeta: "Hey sweet cheeks! Uh *cough* I mean Katniss. Thanks for meeting me on the roof. I couldn't help but notice that you stabbed that hipster walking past you the other day. He wasn't even bothering you!"

Katniss: *shrugs* "Yeah, what of it?"

Peeta: "Well...I thought it was amazing. I love how you have no regard for human life. You're like Megan Fox and the entire cast of 'Kill Bill' all wrapped into one. I was just wondering if you'd like know...shoot some bunnies and then make out for a bit?"

Katniss: "Okay, but you know I'm gonna have to throat-punch you first, right? I have a reputation to protect..."

Peeta: "Why, of course, Love-Bottom! I wouldn't have it any other way!"


Monday, August 2, 2010

Ellie's Got MORE Talent

I haven't given up. I know that you, along with most of the continental US, wishes I had, but I haven't. I'm still on the quest to be a multi-talented son-of-a-gun.

A month or two ago I wrote a post called "Ellie's Got Talent." (I would post a link to it but I have no idea how.) In said post, my readers learn that I am a frazzled, (is that a word?) talent-less mess. But fear not. I am here to say that no matter how pathetic the universe proves that I am, there is always room for more failure.

Huh? That doesn't sound right, does it?

Anyway I'm here to brief you on the goings-on of my talent quest. Don't you love the word 'quest?' It makes everything sound so much more noble.

Here we go again.

1. Dancer - Ballet, hip-hop, tango, and salsa. You name it, I tried it. I thought I was on to something with dancing because I love it so much. My reasoning was that my pure, unadulterated love for gettin' my groove on would give me an edge. Sort of like how all those contestants on American Idol think that because they love singing in their shower that they have the chops to be recording artists. To put it mildly, both me and those contestants need to find a new dream. I was the William Hung of the dancing world. There are few things in life that are as embarrassing as trying to bump and grind while looking as if you are seizing. But I will say this: what I lacked in know-how I made up for with enthusiasm.

2. Artist. Thus far we have only discussed my failures, but I have some good news. This one wasn't so bad. This is mostly because you could saw a car in half, fill it with boiled eggs and call it art. I went to Michael's Craft Supplies and got loads of paint. I also got little paintable keepsake boxes. I went about my work of painting them for my friends. I kept my painting subjects light and happy. You know, like dead trees and starving kittens. I don't think they got the message of my art. (The message being 'At least you're not a dead tree or starving kitten.') But other than that, my paintings were a smashing success. I had a ton of fun putting on my Lucille Ball apron and messing up my mothers dining room table. My friends said they were "odd," but I'm sure by "odd" they meant "wicked cool."

3. Hair Stylist. This one was my personal favorite. As I have said before, I am a swirling vortex of curls and frizz. But not in a cool, trendy, hipster way. (Note: Never trust hipsters. If they're wearing skinny pants and a Fedora, walk away.) Its more reminiscent of Cher in Moonstruck. I tried my best to make myself into a walking Herbal Essence commercial. I didn't go as I planned. I murdered my hair and had to hack six inches off. (Not lying even one bit.) It is not only obnoxiously curly but now it is also taking on the shape of an Afro.

4. Hipster. Yup, I sure did tell yup not to trust 'em. Yup, I'm a hypocrite. I think we all need to go through this phase to get all the jack*** out of our systems. For three days I wore skin tight pants, plaid shirts, Fedora hats, studded belts, and pretended to listen to bands no ones heard of. In the afternoon I would take something written by Hemingway and and sit at Starbucks with an overpriced soy-something-or-other. I would contemplate the breakdown of society using Lady Gaga as evidence. Let me tell you, being a tool is EXHAUSTING. I definitely failed at this one and I'm glad I did.

These are the four things I tried this time. Tell me some things you think I should try out for next time!


P.S. What are your guys' talents or hobbies?