How Do You Do That?! (Amazing Art from My Sister)

My sister is one of the most talented persons I know, and I’m not just saying that because she’s my sister.

Okay, maybe I’m kind of biased, but seriously, her talent speaks for itself!

Alya's blue tiger

From a young age, Alya showed an extraordinary knack for creating things. She excelled at all things arts and crafts. (Don’t listen to her if she starts saying she’s not that good. She’s lying. She is.) Her childhood doodles did not just deserve to be stuck to the refrigerator door; they deserved to be framed. And she drew so effortlessly. She made it look like nothing to churn out masterpiece after masterpiece.

Alya's Ray Charles

And her skills only increased with age. Her work is jaw-dropping. As I’m picking my own jaw up from the floor, I feel like I have to apologize for this post. My paltry words are doing her art a disservice by merely attempting to describe them.

Alya's pointilism peacock

I’ll admit to feeling jealous of her when I was younger. Where I struggled to draw a straight line or a perfect circle, she sketched anthropomorphic cartoon animals as if it were nothing.

Alya's Evangeline

I’ve more or less grown up at this point (I hope), so I can appreciate her talents without necessarily belittling mine now. However, she is undeniably an artist of the highest caliber.

Side note: And by artist, I don’t mean one of those Abstract Expressionism kind of artists who paint a canvas white and THAT’S IT.

So here’s to my sister, an Above Average artist!



Writing for TheGamer

I’ve said this before, and I’ll say it again: I love lists! (Case in point here.)

They cater to the organizational part of my soul, and they also appeal to my predilection for nonessential items that contribute diddly-squat to actual effort but can appear to be a productive part of the planning process.

Side note: Daaaaaamn! Did you guys see the alliteration at the end of that sentence?

Anywaysies, I love lists!

I’ve already published a few list-related posts on this here bloggy thing, but I’ve completely forgotten to give a shout-out to the website I work for, a website that lets me write lists for work. (Awesome, right?)

TheGamer is an entertaining site that I contribute to. It has a bunch of features and listicles about gaming and pop culture, and it’s updated every day, so there is always new content.

Side note: I only recently found out that the word “listicle” is an actual word used to describe list-based articles. So all those BuzzFeed lists you read are technically called listicles.

My adoration for lists and video games has definitely come in handy over the course of writing for TheGamer, and despite the supposed superficiality of writing lists about fictional sources, this job has really fulfilled me in a way I’m only just beginning to appreciate.

I could not consider my life my own unless I was spending it writing. No matter how trivial my lists might seem, TheGamer is allowing me to share my writing with a wider audience. And it is totally awesome when my words connect with another person.

A while back, I wrote up a list about Darth Vader. For one of the items on the list, I talked about the Rogue One Darth Vader scene, the one where he absolutely murdalizes those Rebels. I praised that scene heartily as I wrote about it. I have friends who are only casually into Star Wars, and before Rogue One came out, they kind of thought Darth Vader was a joke. I can’t say I blame them. In the first movie, Darth Vader kind of just ambles around, looking threatening but not actually doing anything scary. So no matter how much I tried to convince my buddies how terrifying Darth Vader could be, they didn’t really believe it or understand what it felt like for me when I was a kid and Darth Vader swept into a room with a long dark cloak and a helmet from hell.

Darth Vader hallway scene

But that hallway scene from Rogue One showed all of my friends the might of Darth Vader that they hadn’t seen before. It showed them the Darth Vader I had always known was there.

I have to admit, I got very nostalgic as I was writing this list.

After that list was published, a man reached out to me on Twitter. He went out of his way to tell me that he appreciated my words regarding that moment, saying he felt the exact same way.

That was it. That trivial, clickbaity list did not win me any accolades, but it did reach one person, and that’s all I can ask for when it comes to my writing. I just want it to reach one person. And that’s it.

(I mean, if it reaches more than one, that’s great, but let’s not split hairs here.)

And TheGamer, May the Force Be with Them, gave me the opportunity to do that.

Here’s a link to their website. Give it a look-see, if you want. You may be surprised at the passion that these list-writers bring to their lists.

I should know. I’m one of them.

The Sound of Froley

Froley in Front of a Mirror

I have spent years getting to know my bird. As time has gone by, I have learned to read Froley’s emotions and intentions more easily than I can read another person’s. (It’s kind of sad, now that I think about it, but oh well, what can you do?)

It’s amazing how quickly you can forget how amazing it is to have a pet. Here you are, two entirely separate species, but you can communicate with each other just fine. It is more staggering than we admit on a daily basis.

As a bird, one of the main ways that Froley communicates is through his voice. He makes a variety of sounds that I have learned to interpret. It’s scary how much more attuned to him I am than to other birds. I’ve seen countless videos of cockatiels online, and I can distinguish between Froley and those other plebeian birds any day of the week.

So today’s post is going to be dedicated to all the delightful noises my darling Froley utters.

His Morning Shriek: If I decide to sleep in longer than Froley deems acceptable, he will begin to chirp loudly. He sleeps in his Bedtime Cage, which is kept in a separate room from his regular cage at night. As such, Froley chirps extra piercingly so that he can be sure I hear him.

His Babbling: Cockatiels can do a pretty good job of mimicking human speech. They are not as proficient at it as an African Grey, but they can sound more or less intelligible. Froley can say a few words himself, and they are the words he hears most often. When he’s feeling especially proud of himself, he will garble out, “Who’s a pretty bird? Froley is a pretty bird.”

His Pretty Whistles: When he is feeling exuberant, Froley can whistle as sweetly and as victoriously as one of those cartoon birds in Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs. Also, if he wants to be let out of his cage, he will whistle desperate sweet nothings in the hopes you will feel sorry for him.

His Don’t-Leave-Me Chirps: Froley is a needy bird, and he hates to be left behind. His definition of being “left behind” includes me stepping out of the room for a quick second.

His Injustice Squawks: Sometimes I have to do things for Froley’s own good, even if he doesn’t see it that way. For example, I have to scoop him up like a baseball so that he can get used to getting held in case of an emergency trip to the vet. He does not appreciate my efforts to prepare him for the worst, and when he’s displeased, he will squawk at me.

His Beak Grinding: Any bird owner worth their salt (and who owns the kind of bird who does this) knows what beak grinding is. It’s a scritchy-scratchy sound that your bird will make when he or she is utterly content. This sound will usually emit from your bird right before they’re about to take a nap. A lot of bird owners think that beak grinding sounds like nails on a chalkboard, but I’ve grown to become quite fond of it. Actually, I’ve kind of had to become fond of it because Froley likes to take naps on my shoulder.

His I’m-A-Snake Hiss: Froley can hiss like a snake when he is severely pissed. I think it is an instinctive behavior born of trying to camouflage his fear. If Froley were to ever bite someone, he would hiss right before he did it.

His Cute Clicks: In the morning, when he’s in front of a mirror, or when I’ve come home after a day of being out, Froley will greet me with the most adorable clicks as he paces back and forth in his cage. As soon as I let him out, he will hop right in front of my face and start clicking to my nose. I click back at him using my tongue to tap against the back of my front teeth. He seems to like that.

His Purrs: Yes, Froley purrs. When he does his Cute Clicks, he’ll intersperse a few purrs among them too. It’s more like a trill, I suppose. Honestly, I don’t know how to describe this noise. Oh god, and I call myself a writer? I’m failing right now.

His Chuffles: I call Froley’s erratic breathing when he masturbates a chuffle. He sounds out of breath, but the noise is not so deep or throaty to be called a breath. And “chuffles” just sounds cuter, doesn’t it?

His Cheeps: When everything is right with the world (according to Froley), he occasionally lets out a soft cheep to let me know he’s alive and well and to check out how I’m doing. These cheeps are not as frantic as his chirps or as drawn-out as his whistles. They’re quieter and shorter. They’re one of the more common noises I’ll hear from him on a day-to-day basis, but that does not stop me from appreciating them.

Any bird owner will tell you that a bird is a very vocal creature, More than a dog or a cat, a bird relies on its different noises to let its fellow flock members know what’s the haps. I’m 99.99% certain Froley considers me a part of his flock, so learning his vocalizations has been instrumental to me in figuring out what he wants and how he is feeling. If you’re thinking about getting a bird, I highly recommend preparing yourself and your ears for quite the adventure.

If you want to see more of me and Froley, feel free to follow me on Instagram right here.

A Nod to Creepiness

There is only one person in the world who can properly buy a book for me, and that is my friend Mia Sara Moreno.

(Sorry, Boyfriend and Sister, but you know it to be true.)

I know, technically, anyone can buy me a book.

But I’m talking about someone who can browse a book store and find a book that they think I will like.

It’s one thing for someone to know you’ve been wanting a specific book for a while so they go out and get it for you; it’s another thing entirely for someone to choose a book for you.

You get what I’m saying here? (Book lovers, come on, you know what I’m talking about, right?)

Mia and I know each other intimately when it comes to literature. We know our favorite authors, genres, and styles. For Mia’s birthday this year, I bought her Neil Gaiman’s Norse Mythology. For my birthday this year, she bought me Nod by Adrian Barnes.

She knew what she was doing when she bought me this book.

Mia knows I love nearly everything Stephen King, and Nod is a definite dalliance with King-ness.

Anyone who reads Nod will fall in love with it if they’re a King enthusiast simply based on the subject matter alone. The entire world, except for a select few individuals, loses the ability to go to sleep. Have you ever heard that factoid about people being able to go 21 days without food, 7 days without water, but only 3 days without sleep before seriously adverse effects begin to show their ugly face? Nod tells a horror story about what would happen to those world if those three days were not met.

Nod will tickle your intellectual side too. Its pages contain more than just sentences; you’re reading poetic prose. (Does that make sense?) When I understood a particularly nuanced metaphor that Barnes used, I felt like I passed some random intelligentsia test. It irritated as well as pleased me, but I enjoyed the reading experience regardless.

Isn’t it funny how often those two emotions coincide?

But don’t think that Nod is just intellectualism run rampant. It is downright creepy. The denizens of Earth lose their minds over lack of sleep, and it sucks for those sane Sleepers left with their minds intact. The Awakened are filled with resentment for the people who can still catch a few Z’s, so they actually hunt them down and slaughter them. (Or they torture them to keep them awake 24/7.)

Plus, Nod shoves in your face how little you can really know a person, which is something that plagues me even when more than half the world isn’t losing their goddamn minds. Have you never wondered whether your girlfriend is secretly disgusted by you? Have you ever been secretly disgusted with her?

There isn’t much to spoil about Nod aside from a few key moments that occur before the ending, which I’ll let you discover for yourself if you want to. The book slumps toward its finale like a relentless zombie. No one is there to save the day or to explain why this freak experience is happening. Society just slowly devolves, and there is nothing anyone can do about it. The end.

But it makes for one hell of a nighttime read.


New Way To Say You’re Cool

Do any of you remember this kids’ book called Frindle by Andrew Clements?

It was about a boy who decided to test the power of words by calling pens “frindles.” He does this as a prank, but he’s able to effect change when he gets his whole class, then his whole school, then his whole state, and then the whole country to begin calling a pen a “frindle.”

The plot was unrealistic to me, even by my formerly childlike standards. However, I’ve never been able to get out of my head how awesome it would be to create a new word for something or to change the regular meaning of a word into something else.

Words are constantly re-purposed, it’s a natural part of a word’s life, but wouldn’t it be cool to be the person at the head of such a movement?

That is why I’ve decided to try and popularize the use of the word “primary” as meaning “holy-freaking awesome.”

This endeavor started months ago. I was at J.C. Penney’s with my friend Andreya (more on her here) picking out clothes for my Comic Con Speed Racer outfit (more on that here). The bright blue of the shirt I eventually found, necessary for any classic Speed Racer costume, was dazzling under the fitting room lights. When I stepped out of my stall to show Andreya the shirt, we were both enthusiastic about it. The only word I could think to use to describe both my appearance and my delight in it was “primary.”

Side note: Being one of the best friends a person could ask for, Andreya totally agreed with me that “primary” should be a thing.

“Primary” popped into my head partially because the blue of the shirt was inescapably indicative of primary colors. It was the exact shade of blue you use when teaching that basic art lesson. It was also a prime example of Speed Racer shirt-wear. And it was an all-around first-rate shirt.

Sadly, despite my best efforts, “primary” hasn’t caught on.

Side note: Yet.

For one thing, I don’t go out and socialize much. I’m a complete and utter home-body. When my sister took me out to a restaurant a few days ago, she noticed I seemed a tad flustered being out in public. I was loath to admit it, but she was right. I don’t always know how to act when a lot of people are around. So my chances of using “primary” in social company are lessened by the fact that I just don’t go out in social company. My boyfriend Danny once took me to a bar to hang out for one of his friends’ birthdays, and I sat at a table reading for most of the time in very dim lighting.

Side note: That was not only poor social etiquette, that was bad optical-care behavior as well.

Another thing I’ve noticed that is hindering “primary” is the fact that a lot of my friends think it’s stupid. I’ve outright asked some of them if they could start using it in conversations, and they just stare at me blankly and say, “Yeah, I’m not doing that.”

Side note: Maybe I should start calling them “friends” with air quotes, since clearly they don’t understand the true meaning of friendship.

I’m going to persevere, and who knows? Maybe in a few dozen years I’m going to start hearing the young ‘uns say how oh so totally primary that new Star Wars XXVII movie is.

Until then, so long from your dose of Below Average thoughts.



Why Sierra Burgess Is a Loser Lost Me

First off, justice for Barb.

Second off, this movie was meh.

In fact, I’d say it was below meh.

You’ve probably already seen how badly this movie is reviewing, especially if you’ve already watched it on Netflix. But let’s dive into it anyway.

Sierra Burgess Is a Loser is about a girl (Sierra Burgess, obviously) who falls in love with a boy from another high school. She’s introduced to this Cute Guy when her school’s resident Mean Girl tries to prank Sierra by giving Cute Guy Sierra’s phone number when he was actually asking for her own. So, Sierra then has to deal with keeping up the appearance that she is the bitchy Mean Girl while simultaneously trying to flirt with this guy and give him a taste of her own personality.

Side note: This is basically supposed to be acceptable catfishing. It’s not though. Not by a long shot.

As she tries to maintain this facade (all in the name of love), Sierra ends up befriending the Mean Girl. Mean Girl actually turns out to be a decent human being who helps Sierra flirt with this boy by pretending to be…herself and Sierra at the same time?

I think you can see where the problems for this movie begin.

So I didn’t even know that this movie existed until the day I saw it. My sister and I were just drinking coffee one weekend morning, when she decided she was going to put some Friends’ episodes on in the background while we had breakfast. Once we got onto Netflix though, the trailer for Sierra Burgess Is a Loser was shoved in our faces.

But…the trailer was good. While the movie itself might not have been great, its trailer is freaking awesome. It made both my sister and me want to watch the movie immediately. If there is an award for trailers, this trailer should win it.

There’s this moment in the trailer where you see Sierra crying and she says something along the lines of “Do you know what it’s like to be a girl in high school and to look like me?” That one line just resonated with me so much, I felt like I had to watch the movie. I mean, most of us are not good-looking people. (I mean that in the best way possible.) And I’m sick and tired of seeing “nerds” and “geeks” and “losers” in movies played by impossibly attractive actors and actresses.

Side note: Anyone else irate at how good-looking Peter Parker is portrayed as being?

But the movie itself diverges from facing the actual problems of loneliness that can plague a below average person in high school, and instead focuses on the strange plot of pretending to be a popular girl at school while said popular girl kind of helps you in your endeavor, all in the name of trying to win over this guy you’ve never really met.

This plot might sound semi-endearing, but it’s not. It’s catfishing, pure and simple. Sierra goes out of her way to deceive this poor guy. Admittedly, she does this because she feels her looks would not entice him, but she is clearly doing him a disservice.

Mean Girl is an odd character, even though she’s probably my favorite person in the whole movie. Her name is Veronica, but I called her Mean Girl because she was exorbitantly mean to Sierra at the beginning of the movie. Like, unrealistically mean. I have never in my life seen someone go that out of their way to be cruel to a person. Except online, I suppose, where anonymity provides the perfect shield for it. Anyway, Veronica changes from Mean Girl to Okay Girl when she elects to help Sierra in exchange for receiving some tutoring from her. They end up becoming friends, at least until things appear to get too serious between Cute Guy and Veronica.

Cute Guy’s name is Jamey, by the way.

Honestly, what did Sierra think was going to happen if she pushed Veronica to keep up the appearance that she was into Jamey? She was practically forcing them to kiss each other.

However, when they do kiss and Sierra sees this, she blows a gasket and does an incredibly vicious social media attack on Veronica.

Don’t worry though. Sierra sings a song of apology to Veronica, and everything turns out okay.

I’m not even kidding.

Oh, and the character of Sierra’s father sounds like he’s desperately trying to be Stanley Tucci from Easy A and failing.

The movie is a mess. It feels like such a missed opportunity to confront body image issues that trouble nearly EVERYONE I KNOW. And it feels like it was written by adults trying to speak like teenagers. (I got a Life Is Strange vibe from the movie.) Plus, Sierra does not face any consequences for her irresponsible behavior. Veronica quickly forgives her for blasting her social image, and SPOILER ALERT, Jamey decides to date her even after he finds out that she was tricking him the whole time.

ALSO there are wildly inappropriate moments regarding consent and deafness. At one point, Sierra kisses Jamey without him knowing it was her. Not only was that unrealistic as fuck, it was also extremely wrong. And in order to keep up the pretense that she is not the person who has been talking to him on the phone, she pretends to be deaf when she sees him face-to-face so that she does not have to speak.

I would not recommend this movie to a person without some forewarning of its shortcomings. I rate this movie a don’t-watch-at-all-unless-you-have-the-patience-for-a-stilted-plot-or-if-you’re-curious-or-if-you-have-nothing-better-to-do-on-a-Sunday-morning.

Top Ten Most Usable Movie Quotes of My Life

Time for another top ten list!

This time I decided to make a list about the movie quotes I use most often during my day-to-day life. So while a lot of these quotes are missing the unique factor of some popular movie quotes, I’m listing them based on how often I say them, not popularity.

Because seriously, I’m never going to get the opportunity to say “I’ll make him an offer he can’t refuse” or “I love the smell of napalm in the morning.”

Anyways, here we go.

10. “They’re moving in herds. They do move in herds.”

WHERE IT’S FROM: Jurassic Park. When Alan Grant first encounters dinosaurs at the park, he sees them clustered together by a lakeside. He gazes at them in awe and slowly breathes out, “They’re moving in herds. They do move in herds.”

HOW I USE IT: Whenever I see a collection of people or animals roaming together, I just have to let loose with this line. The most perfect instance of this happening was when I was in a car with my friend Bubba. A group of bicyclists passed us on the street, and I softly murmured, “They’re moving in herds.” Bubba responded with a perfectly timed, “They do move in herds.”

9. “Good. Our first catch of the day.”

WHERE IT’S FROM: Star Wars Episode V: The Empire Strikes Back. When the Rebels are fleeing from the planet Hoth, one of their ships passes close to where an Imperial Star Destroyer is lying in wait. Within the Destroyer, a junior officer approaches his superior and informs him of the encroaching Rebel ship. The superior then responds in the most robotic voice possible, “Good. Our first catch of the day.”

HOW I USE IT: This quote is definitely not the most memorable quote from Star Wars, but it sticks in my mind because it made my sister and me giggle so much when we heard it. The tone of that Imperial officer was priceless. So now, whenever anyone lets out with a terse, “Good,” I have to stoically, and nonsensically, reply, “Our first catch of the day.”

8. “My god, it’s full of stars.”

WHERE IT’S FROM: 2010: The Year We Make Contact. Contrary to what most people believe, this quote is not from the film 2001: A Space Odyssey, but rather from it’s sequel, 2010. These words are the final recorded words of astronaut Dave Bowman before he entered the strange portal in the first film.

HOW I USE IT: When I’m shocked at something and the words, “My god,” escape my lips, I feel compelled to follow them with “it’s full of stars.” Several times I have uttered this parting phrase to an acquaintance’s confusion since there were no stars visible in the area we were currently occupying.

7. “Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”

WHERE IT’S FROM: The Princess Bride. This is the refrain the skilled swordsman Inigo Montoya rehearses to say to his father’s killer.

HOW I USE IT: This is perhaps the most famous of all the quotes on this list. I can’t help saying the whole thing every time I hear a simple “hello.” I have to admit, I restrain myself from saying this far too often. I should probably just let loose with this, but I have a healthy dose of self-consciousness streaming through my body.

6. “It should have ended that day, but evil was allowed to endure.”

WHERE IT’S FROM: The Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring. Elrond speaks this line to Gandalf the Grey when he laments the fact that Isildur did not destroy the Ring at Mount Doom when he had the chance.

HOW I USE IT: Okay, I need no impetus to say this line. Mia, my friend and fellow LOTR enthusiast, and I just quote The Lord of the Rings all day long. We even use a deep, imposing voice when we have to.

5. “‘Tis but a scratch.”

WHERE IT’S FROM: Monty Python and the Holy Grail. King Arthur comes across the Black Knight. The Black Knight refuses to let Arthur pass a certain bridge. They engage in a fight, and the Black Knight gets his arm chopped off. To Arthur’s surprise, the Black Knight treats this grievous wound as if it’s just a scratch.

HOW I USE IT: If you haven’t seen Monty Python and the Holy Grail, you are missing out on some high-quality laughs. I let out a haughty “‘Tis but a scratch!” any time I get wounded. Oftentimes, my wound is indeed just a scratch.

4. “I know, I know!”

WHERE IT’S FROM: Cloud Atlas. When Timothy Cavendish finds himself held prisoner in a nursing home against his will, he bands together with some other retirees in order to escape. One of these gentlemen is the affable Mr. Meeks. Mr. Meeks does not say much. In fact, all he seems capable of saying is an endearing “I know, I know!”

HOW I USE IT: Well, I have to say something whenever someone tells me something I already know. So instead of being a dick about it, I adopt Mr. Meeks’ agreeable tone and words.

3. “You have done that yourself.”

WHERE IT’S FROM: Star Wars Episode III: The Revenge of the Sith. Anakin Skywalker turns to the Dark Side, and when he force-chokes his wife in anger, he insists on blaming his old mentor, Obi-Wan Kenobi, for his matrimonial troubles. He claims that Obi-Wan turned his wife against him. Obi-Wan rejects this statement with a dignified, “You have done that yourself.”

HOW I USE IT: Anytime someone places blame on me for anything (even if it really is my fault), I’ll tell them that they have done that themselves. For those of my friends who have seen Revenge of the Sith, this usually earns me a chuckle. It doesn’t go over too well with strangers though.

2. “Marines! We are leaving!”

WHERE IT’S FROM: Aliens. The space marines have bit off more than they can chew when they enter an Alien nest on the planet LV-426. Once he realizes that his group can’t handle that much Alien menace, Corporal Hicks yells out hoarsely for his marines to get the hell out of dodge.

HOW I USE IT: I know that the actual line is “Drake! We are leaving!” I know that. (Drake is one of the marines in the nest alongside Hicks.) But the line has definitely been popularized as “Marines! We are leaving!” Besides, I only ever use this quote in my D&D group. We’re not the smartest group of tabletop adventurers out there, and often we find ourselves out-leveled by the monsters we face. At which point, one of us will scream, “MARINES! WE ARE LEAVING!”

1. “He left us. He left us.”

WHERE IT’S FROM: Jurassic Park. When the T. Rex makes his epic escape from his enclosure, visiting lawyer Donald Gennaro decides he’s had enough of this Park. He gets out of a tour van and stumbles to the bathroom to hide, leaving two children in the van with no adult to help them out. As he leaves, one of them whispers in a panic, “He left us. He left us.”

HOW I USE IT: I know, I know, another Jurassic Park quote. I say this anytime a male person leaves my presence. My sister also uses this quote a lot too. But unfortunately, it kinda makes us seem like needy people who can’t be left to ourselves, when the exact opposite is true.

So, do you use any of these quotes? Do you like any of these quotes? Are there any movie quotes aside from these that you use yourself? I’m curious to see what you guys say! Until next time!