Cats Review / The What-Did-I-Just-Watch Rant

My base understanding of Cats before I went to go see the movie was comprised of two things:

  1. The movie is about cats.
  2. There’s a really good song called “Memory” in it.

That’s it. When I walked into the theater to see it with a group of friends, that was the extent of my knowledge about Cats.

Now, I know so much more.

And not much of it is good.

In case you don’t want to read any further than this because you just don’t want to have anything to do with Cats, let me leave you with the surface-level impressions.

For the first part of the movie, you might have no clue what is going on, especially if you had no idea that the term “Jellicle” is what the cat-creatures call themselves. There are only two good-ish parts in the whole film, and they are surrounded by what-the-actual-fuck moments. And lastly, while the movie is an incomprehensible piece of refuse, it is tremendously good for laughs.

For those of you morbid enough to want to stick with me, here is a brief synopsis of the “story.”

Side note: The word “story” is in quotes because, as you’ll soon see, the “story” of Cats is a nightmare of confusion, bafflement, and insanity.

Protagonist cat-creature Victoria is dumped by, I asuume, her human owner onto the street. Once there, she is introduced to the world of cats, except they’re not really cats. They call themselves Jellicle Cats, and I still have no idea if this means something.

The Jellicles basically act like dicks for most of the time, like a regular cat would, but they at least try to explain to Victoria what life is like for them. Apparently, Victoria got abandoned at a very special time. This particular night is a celebration for Jellicles because something called the Jellicle Choice is happening.

When they sang their songs about the Jellicle Choice, they weren’t especially clear about what it entailed. But from what I gathered eventually, the Jellicle Choice is made by this old lady Jellicle Cat. She picks one Jellicle from the group (thereby making the Jellicle Choice) to be reincarnated into a new life.

Yeah, I had no idea how that would work, but at this point in the film, I just decided to roll with it.

The majority of the movie is then consumed by Victoria being introduced to a bunch of different cats who all want to be the Jellicle Choice. And they all sing songs about it.

In between their songs, audiences are introduced to this mean Jellicle named Macavity. Macavity really really wants to be the Jellicle Choice, and he catnaps a bunch of Jellicles to try and eliminate them as possible choices for the old-lady cat. (Spoiler warning: His plan doesn’t work.)

In the end, Victoria convinces old-lady cat and the other Jellicles to make this other ostracized Jellicle the Choice. This ostracized Jellicle has the most beautiful voice, and she sings a song (the song) about the faded joy of her youth. Once all the Jellicles hear her song, the old-lady cat decides to indeed make Previously-Ostracized Jellicle the Jellicle Choice.

Side note: I have officially typed the word “Jellicle” more times than I’ve ever wanted to in my life.

The movie kind of ends once the Jellicle Choice is placed in a hot air balloon and sent into the sky to probably die a cold and lonely death.

No, I am not even kidding.

So clearly Cats has some story issues. It is painfully unclear what is going on at times. The plot is not cohesive, and the only structure it is given is by introducing Victoria to new Jellicles, which hardly makes for a good story.

When I left the theater, I actually Googled “what is story to Cats” and I read up on the history of the musical. Apparently, the whole thing was inspired by some T.S. Eliot poems, to which I have to say, “Ohhhhhh, now I see. Now I see why the whole thing feels plotless.”

For those of you not in the know, T.S. Eliot is a writer from the postmodernist era of literature. I actually really enjoy postmodernist literature and poetry. It makes for a delightfully intricate pattern of nonpatterns that relies more on inferences and paradoxes than straightforward narratives. But as you can probably guess from that last statement of mine, that’s not a good backbone for a movie.

See, postmodernism in literature is all about the unreliability of narrators and the impossibility of penning human nature into a strict narrative. Which is the opposite of a basic story.

In layman’s terms, postmodernism can make for terrible movies.

Cats also failed to grab my attention musically. (And it’s a goddamn musical!) The only songs I liked were “Memory” and “Beautiful Ghosts.” When those songs are sung, you actually feel yourself become mesmerized by the melody. You look into the eyes of the Jellicle singing and think to yourself, “Holy shit, you have understandable feelings.” But then the song ends and another Jelllicle starts singing some rubbish.

Now, I know a lot of people complained about the visual effects used for Cats. While they are disconcerting, they’re not that bad. Maybe I’m just used to bad graphics from my time with Mass Effect: Andromeda.

Only two things bothered me visually in the movie. One was the fact that some of the Jellicles wear fur coats.

I mean, they’re cats, they’re already sporting fur all over their bodies. There’s no reason for them to wear these extravagant fur coats.

Also…where did they get them?

The second thing that was a bit disconcerting about the visuals was how sexual they were. They’re doing some weird kind of ballet throughout the movie, but it feels highly sensualized. And the girl Jellicles have the faint outlines of boobs.

Weird.

Cats is only meant for two kinds of people in this world. You are either a really big fan of the musical and want to see the film version of it OR you are going to see it with some chums in order to chuckle and chortle over how bad it is.

I rate Cats an I-can’t-believe-I-spent-money-actual-cash-to-see-this-movie-and-now-I-have-to-mentally-justify-this-to-myself-for-the-rest-of-my-life-or-else-I-might-just-pull-a-Jellicle-Choice.

In Defense of the Let's Play

Yes, this is me.

I don’t actually watch that much television. Growing up, my parents never got cable, so watching a show regularly was a thing unheard of. As I’ve grown older, though I now have access to things like Netflix, HBO, and Disney+, I still don’t watch that much television.

Or at least not what you would consider to be regular television.

Instead, I binge Let’s Plays on YouTube. I watch hours upon hours of them.

For those of you not in the know, a Let’s Play is a video where you can watch someone else play a video game.

Typing that out just now, it sounds stupid. I guess I can understand why there are people who scoff at the notion of Let’s Plays.

But I’m here today to speak in defense of Let’s Plays.

A good Let’s Play is always either informative and engrossing or comedic and entertaining. Some people watch Let’s Plays to learn more about a specific video game. Others watch it for the friendly factor of seeing someone goof up a video game.

I’m personally one of the latter.

There is nothing I like more than experiencing a video game with another person. Sadly, not everyone who is my friend is willing to sit for about fifteen hours to complete a video game with me. So I treasure the few moments I can get.

There is a specific and unique enjoyment I get from watching someone experience a video game for the first time, whether it’s seeing them delight in the same things I delight in, get the pants scared off of them, or cry at a particularly sorrowful moment.

So without having to kidnap and force my friends to play video games for me, a Let’s Play satisfies that itch.

Detractors of the Let’s Play usually say one of three things about them. The first is that it’s an incredibly boring experience to watch someone else play a video game. If you like video games, they say, why not just pick it up and play it yourself?

To which I say, sure, tell all those sports fans out there that in instead of enjoying watching a game, they should all go out and play sports professionally. Go on. Tell them.

Another issue these naysayers will bring up is the “copyright” issue. People who stream or record themselves playing video games are making money off of the material in the game instead of producing original content themselves. If you’ve seen any of the popular Let’s Players out there, you know that’s not necessarily true. The good ones bring a hefty dose of personality with them when they play. They’re almost like professional comedians. It’s a performance, and I’d say they do work to rake in those views.

The final thing I hear people complain about is how a Let’s Play deters players from buying games. If a person sees someone else play a video game, there’s no reason for them to purchase the game for themselves.

Well, I’m living proof that this is not true.

Sometimes I’m not sure about purchasing a new game unless I know I will like it. Call me stingy, but these durned video games are expensive. Before investing in a game, it’s important to know if I’ll actually enjoy playing the damn thing. A Let’s Play provides me with an extended glimpse into what gameplay is like, even more than a game review.

Also, I’m a giant pussy when it comes to horror games. Call me a coward, but I like to know when scares will happen or if a game is too frightening for me before I buy it. A Let’s Play not only allows me to observe when a jump-scare occurs, but it leaves me with lasting, funny impressions of when the Let’s Player got scared. In a way, their fear lessens my own.

And, on occasion, I watch Let’s Plays of games I could never even hope to buy because they’re for a console or machine that I don’t own.

Conversely, I also enjoy watching Let’s Plays of games I’ve already bought and played myself. (I’m a big rewatcher/replayer/rereader of things.)

Lastly, Let’s Plays have even turned me on to games I would never have even looked at had a favorite Let’s Player not taken the time to play it for their audience (namely me).

So, as my final piece of evidence in defense of the Let’s Play, here are just a fraction of the games I have played thanks in part to a Let’s Play.

Red Dead Redemption II: Yup, that game I loved so much I wrote a two part review for it, that game came into my possession because of a Let’s Play. I was super on the fence about it, especially after hearing it was a prequel. I knew it would be a long game and wasn’t sure I’d want to commit to it. I watched a Let’s Player start the game and fell in love with the look of everything. And after seeing the horse riding mechanics, RDR2 had me hook, line, and sinker.

Alien: Isolation: I was always a big fan of the Alien franchise, but I wasn’t sure how I felt about this new game. Want to know why? Because normally these games are shooters! They follow in the vein of James Cameron’s Aliens. And that wasn’t what I wanted from an Alien video game experience. Upon watching a playthrough of Alien: Isolation, I saw that the exact opposite was true. This game took inspiration solely from Ridley Scott’s Alien, and I couldn’t have been happier.

Ori and the Blind Forest: Not much was done to market Ori and the Blind Forest, so I had no clue about the game’s existence until one of my favorite Let’s Players picked it up. It looked interesting, and I watched the playthrough on a whim. Now it’s one of my favorite games (so much so that I bought the Definitive Edition), and its sequel is one of my most anticipated games of the new year.

Soma: I knew Soma would be made by the developers who did Amnesia: The Dark Descent. So even though I was very intrigued by it, I was a scaredy-cat when it came to actually playing it. By watching a Let’s Play of it, I was able to be assured that I could handle its brand of terror. (It helps that there’s essentially a no-dying mode.)

Telltale’s The Walking Dead: This game was everywhere on the Let’s Play scene when it first came out, and it’s easy to understand why. Its narrative-driven gameplay and branching dialogue options made it a game that was engrossing to go through multiple times. After watching someone play it, I bought it myself and went through the whole adventure again. Only this time, I made the *cough cough* right choices.

Top 5 Books To Reread

I’m a rereader in a major way. About half the books I read in a year are books I’m not reading for the first time.

I know that’s not necessarily a good thing, that I should probably expand my horizons and pick up books by new authors, but I can’t help myself.

For one thing, I’m a creature of comfort. I like revisiting characters, stories, and writing styles that I know I enjoy.

For another, I feel I have to justify the amount of books I have in my possession. I mean, what’s the point of buying them for myself if I’m not going to read them again and again and again.

Now, I can reread any book. You name it, I’ll reread it. But I have to admit, some books are easier to reread than others. What follows is a list of my all-time favorite books to read over and over again.

I will vouch for these books’ rereadability with my life.

Side note: Figuratively speaking.

So let’s browse these page-turners and get on with it!

Abandon in Place – Jerry Oltion

This is by far the best book I ever picked up in my middle school library. When I was in school, there was a program for students called Accelerated Reading. It forced kids to pick up books and take comprehension tests on them afterwards in order to collect points. I don’t mean to brag, but I always got number one for AR points at school. But the real benefit from AR wasn’t the points. It was the fact that I got my hands on this fantastic book.

The premise alone is fantastic. Rick Spencer, an astronaut, is feeling low after Neil Amstrong’s death. However, after the funeral, a ghostly Saturn V rocket launches from a NASA pad and no one knows where it came from. The government and the space agency, along with Rick, have to figure out where these things are coming from and what to do with them.

Abandon in Place is able to pass off as a cerebral read, but it’s actually like popcorn. It delves into space-race nostalgia and paranormal questions alike with a sense of humor and honesty. It’s not often that you see a sci-fi book paired with obvious romanticism, but that’s what Abandon in Place does. At the end of the day, the book is about hope and optimism, and I love it for that.

Pride & Prejudice – Jane Austen

Is it cliche to like Pride & Prejudice? I feel like it is. Regardless, there’s a reason this book is so popular.

The story is all about Elizabeth Bennet dealing with her family’s quirks and how they make her relate to societal classes. Oh, and also it’s about her romance with Mr. Darcy. That’s why most people read it, and I can’t say I blame them. Darcy’s demeanor is the absolute draw of the novel. I mean, who doesn’t like stoic gentlemen?

It’s a fairly short read, and no chapter is wasted. If Austen includes a paragraph in her work, it is for the express purpose of furthering along her story. That sense of direction and purpose will carry you through every page and make Pride & Prejudice a total speed-run of a book.

The Elegance of the Hedgehog – Muriel Barbery

There is absolutely no reason why I should have bought The Elegance of the Hedgehog that day at the bookstore. I normally don’t extensively peruse bookshelves the way I did. Plus, I don’t like it when book covers feature photos of people. Call me crazy, but I prefer artwork or abstract symbolism on my book covers. But I bought the book, and it’s one of my favorites.

The story has two deuteragonists. One is an aging concierge at this swanky French hotel, where she has to deal with snobbish residents. She pretends to be dumber than she is so that she doesn’t have to share the fact that she is a thoughtful and intelligent person. The other is a young girl, the daughter of one of the families at the hotel. She is incredibly smart, and has decided to kill herself before she grows up to be exactly like her parents.

This book is wonderfully deep, and it makes you feel emotions regardless of whether you’ve heard of the literature or philosophers the characters constantly reference. It’s the most moving quick read I’ve ever read. I remember the first time I finished it, I was in a Dillards, in the shoe department. I cried next to the Gianni Bini heels.

The Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy – Douglas Adams

Absolute best book ever. If I had to pick a book to take with me on a desert island, it would be this one. Funny story, I once hit a guy in the nutsack with a collection of Douglas Adams’ work. I’m not proud of that moment (for reasons I may or may not mention another time), but I feel like it adds to the legacy of my copy of The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Anyways, the book’s plot is exceedingly straightforward. Earthman Arthur Dent has to confront the wider reaches of the galaxy after the Earth is destroyed in order to make room for a hyperspace bypass. He goes on adventures, and hilarity ensues.

It is that hilarity that makes The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy such a great reread. The humor never gets old. It’s comparable to Monty Python and the Holy Grail. The trappings might get aged, but the essence of the thing can draw more than a few chuckles from you.

Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire

This book makes it onto this list based purely on the fact that I have reread it more than twelve times. I honestly think it’s my most reread book. Any of the Harry Potter books are great rereads since they move so quickly (yet enjoyably) through their plot points.

This was the Harry Potter book I had to content myself with before The Order of the Phoenix came out. So what else was there for me to do if I wanted to immerse myself in the Wizarding World some more than reread The Goblet of Fire for the umpteenth time.

Hope you liked the list, and I also hope I was able to pique your interest in the direction of any of these books!

The Skywalker Experience: A Sort of Review for the Latest Movie

When Joker came out, I actually bailed on writing a review of it. I had the most tumultuous time after watching that movie and trying to suss out how I felt about it. I didn’t want to touch a review of it with a ten-foot pole.

The Rise of Skywalker came out last week, and it felt almost as divisive as Joker, which kinda freaked me out a bit about reviewing it.

But this is Star Wars we’re talking about here. I love Star Wars.

No way am I not going to talk about how I felt about the supposed end of the Skywalker saga.

Besides, the name of my blog should serve as a disclaimer that I have no idea what I’m talking about and will hopefully deter anybody from getting pissy about what I say. It’s a below average review, people.

Also SPOILER WARNING!!!!!!!!

So, basically, The Rise of Skywalker ties up the story we started in The Force Awakens. Rey’s journey with her friends is concluded, Kylo Ren’s “villain” arc is resolved, and Palpatine is introduced as the big bad. (Or has he been the big bad from the very beginning?)

With that said as a general overview, it’s time for my thoughts on it, right?

I loved it!

Yup, I’m solidly in the camp of people who enjoyed The Rise of Skywalker. I had so much fun while watching the movie. I’ve seen it in theaters three times, and I probably wouldn’t mind watching it again. For me, it was a blast from start to finish. I was constantly entertained, and, at the end of the day, that’s what I want from my sci-fi-space-wizard films.

If The Last Jedi or The Force Awakens bored you a tad, The Rise of Skywalker won’t. There are these sweeping fights and escapes that seem to happen every ten minutes in the story, and who doesn’t like a good lightsaber fight, am I right? Plus, the callbacks to the original films, the prequel films, and even the prior sequel films, all hit the nail on the head. This movie made me look back fondly on everything that has happened in the Star Wars universe.

That’s not to say that it’s a perfect movie.

The Rise of Skywalker is rushed as fuck. The action is nonstop, so it doesn’t let quiet moments in the story breathe properly. (Tip of the hat to Danny, who worded this perfectly.)

Critics of the movie also appear to dislike it for two major reasons:

  1. It erases the tonal shift and overall plot changes of The Last Jedi.
  2. It makes Force usage and power levels ubiquitous.

To the first critique, yeah, I can see why that’s a complaint. If you adored The Last Jedi, The Rise of Skywalker might tick you off with how casually it dismantles the foundation its predecessor lay. Though to be fair, The Last Jedi itself deconstructed what The Force Awakens set up, so it’s a total case of what goes around comes around.

To the second critique…

Well…

It’s space magic. This isn’t some Christopher-Nolan-intellectual-head-scratcher or Martin-Scorsese-realistic-crime-thriller type of movie. If a director wants to introduce crazy-extreme Force powers in a Star Wars movie just for the heck of it, I’m more than willing to accept these surface-level changes.

And to those of you saying that it forever ruins the original trilogy…no. No, it does not. Those originals still exist. You can watch them, and they’re the same. If you so choose, you can ignore the sequels for the rest of your life. Don’t waste your time hating on these new movies and crying that they’re ruining your childhood when your childhood is over and done with, and it is essentially pristine thanks to the unalterable effect of having happened years in the past.

Anyways, let’s get into the nitty-gritty.

The big reveal of The Rise of Skywalker is that Rey is a Palpatine. Apparently, someone was willing to bone the Emperor, and he had a son. Presumably, this son grew up, got married, and had Rey, and he decided that he didn’t want her to be influenced by Palpatine in any way. That’s why Rey was abandoned on Jakku.

This revelation wasn’t given much breathing time, so aside from shocked expressions, we don’t see Rey processing it as much as I would have liked. However, it does explain why Rey is so OP. She’s got that Palpatine blood coursing through her.

As you might have guessed, this is what makes The Rise of Skywalker such a middle finger to those who loved The Last Jedi. The Last Jedi was all about deconstructing the importance of bloodlines when it came to the Force. It proudly stated that Rey was a nobody, and there was no rhyme or reason as to why she was strong in the Force.

I’ll be honest with you, I wasn’t a big fan of The Last Jedi. The structure of the story felt a little off to me, and certain plot holes kind of grated on me more than usual. But for me, Star Wars is Star Wars, and I like seeing people try new things with it. So I was not upset about Rey’s lack of notable parentage. Its sudden reversal in The Rise of Skywalker also did not annoy me simply because I kind of expected the last film in the trilogy to shake things up once more.

And even though The Rise of Skywalker dismantled what The Last Jedi built, it funnily enough made me appreciate the black sheep of the sequel family. By far, The Rise of Skywalker is my favorite movie of the sequel trilogy, but I can now look back at The Last Jedi with more fondness than I did before.

The Rise of Skywalker also introduces new characters to the franchise, like Zorii, Babu Frik, D-O, Jannah, and the Knights of Ren. For the most part, these new characters are handled well, and their introductions, while rushed, are entertaining.

Well, all except for the Knights of Ren. When you first see them walking around, you’re all, “Ohhh, so cool. Hashtag squad goals.”

But then you realize they essentially do and say nothing important in the movie, and you feel a disappointment you haven’t felt since Boba Fett’s fall into the Sarlacc Pit.

But alas, that’s the way things go sometimes.

Fans of deep Star Wars lore also have a lot to dissect in The Rise of Skywalker. It introduces something called a Force dyad, and even I have no clue what that means yet. It does give me a hankering to buy Star Wars books as soon as possible, which might be what they intended to happen all along.

Which brings me to that whole Reylo thing.

Look, I’m not a Reylo fan, but I’m not not a Reylo fan.

The Last Jedi featured some definite chemistry between Rey and Kylo Ren during those moments when they were bonded in the Force. The Rise of Skywalker ups the ante for that in a major way. I was definitely shocked that they went as far as they did in establishing and solidifying Reylo as a thing, but it actually seemed kind of…logical? It seemed like a natural progression, in a weird way.

Still, there is a part of me that kind of wishes they had left it more understated than they did. I don’t need much romance in my Star Wars movies, and after Anakin and his I-hate-sand flirtations, I kind of reached my limit.

Side note: At no point does The Rise of Skywalker reach the cringe-levels that the prequels did. The prequels still hold first place when it comes to cringey, yet awesomely quotable, dialogue.

So yes, long story short, I enjoyed the heck out of this movie. I don’t need my Star Wars movies to be a top-notch critical experience. The Rise of Skywalker swept me up in a thrilling adventure and made me forget about my life for a good two and a half hours. And that’s exactly what the first Star Wars film did for me too, all those years ago.

Obligatory Holiday Greetings!

Froley loves the Christmas tree.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Years’ to you all! It’s right about the time that people are preparing for the holiday, so I thought I’d wish everyone a happy season’s greetings and all that jazz.

I really want to thank everyone who takes the time to read these things and say that I really appreciate the blogging community as a whole. You guys have been nothing but supportive, and always heckin’ awesome to read.

This year is ending on a fairly tumultuous note for me. This past October/November really sucked eggs for me, so I’m hoping things turn up in the new year. I know that things changing on a dime just because the calendar year is beginning anew is a fool’s dream, but it’d be freakin’ sweet if that were real. I mean, who doesn’t want better things on the horizon just because a number changed, from 2019 to 2020?

Anyways, just wanted to wish you all a happy time in these coming weeks! It’s an obligatory holiday post!

Plus, I’d also like to leave you with some Christmas recommendations. You know, little activities you can do to make the holidays just a tad more bearable.

1 – Watch The Muppet Christmas Carol

It is by far the best iteration of A Christmas Carol you could ever hope to watch.

2 – Eat a Mouthful of Cookie Dough

Look, I know all the labels tell you not to, that it’s bad for you, that you’re doing damage to yourself. But, I swear, that single mouthful just tastes so darned delicious. It’s what I imagine Play-Doh tastes like.

(Disclaimer: I am in no way a licensed medical professional. Eat raw cookie dough at your own risk.)

3 – Wear Fuzzy Socks

You can wear fuzzy socks on any ole day of the year, but there’s something particularly comforting about wearing them in the weeks leading up to Christmas. Especially if you’ve got a pair of Christmas-themed fuzzy socks you got as a gift last year that you haven’t worn until this very moment.

4 – Go to the Beach

No one spends a lot of time at the beach when it isn’t summer, which means that there’s a lot of space to lay down your blanket! Sure, the water is freezing this time of year, but it is also gloriously devoid of summer beach tourists. Plan yourself a trip and experience a wintry beach time. I’m 80% sure you won’t regret it.

5 – Play a Video Game

If you already play video games, you know how relaxing a video game can be when holiday plans are piling up on you. If you don’t play video games, you are missing out on one of the most stress-relieving hobbies you can have. And even though they’re a time for love and caring, holidays can be hella stressful.

Readers of the Lost Art: Why More People Should Pick Up a Book

I can’t remember learning to read. It’s something I feel like I’ve always known how to do.

Of course, I was not born with the ability to read. That would be crazy.

I think I first got an interest in reading because of my parents. They both made the decision to instill a “sense” of reading in my sister and I at a very early age. They did this by constantly reading in front of us. My mom would read the newspaper every day in front of us. She bought us these tactile toddler books, made of cardboard and layered with different fabrics, so that we could “read” as best we could. On his side, my dad would read us bedtime stories. Sometimes The Hobbit. Sometimes The Velveteen Rabbit.

Eventually, I just sort of…picked up books. I started looking for ones I would like, even if they weren’t made of cardboard. My family made trips to the nearest Barnes & Noble on weekends, and by “nearest,” I mean 2 hours away. Regardless, we would spend hours there, and I would come home with a stack of new books that I could only hold by placing my hands underneath the pile and using my chin to secure it.

It’s only now that I’m grown that I realize that reading as a hobby is not as prevalent as movies and TV shows would have you believe. Pop culture has us thinking that gorgeous nerds who enjoy Tolstoy and Vonnegut are around every corner.

Not so.

I used to think adults were being patronizing every time they ooh-ed and ahh-ed when they saw me sitting by myself, reading a book. Now I know they were gasping over a rather rare specimen.

People read, people have to read, on a daily basis. You read menus, instructions, labels, and signs. But a woefully small amount of people actually read books for pleasure. Like books books.

And that’s terrible.

There’s a quiet joy that can come from reading a book for pleasure. You find one you like, because of course you cater to your preferences, and then in your spare time, you immerse yourself in another person’s world, another person’s story, another person’s thoughts.

Reading a book is like dipping yourself into another person’s perspective, and when you learn to think about another person’s point of view, you gain empathy. You gain the ability to put yourself in another person’s shoes.

Granted, reading is not the only way to learn empathy, and it’s also no guarantee that you will be empathetic.

But it’s a great place to start.

I think that reading as a kid is incredibly important not because it’s a future life skill but because as a child, you’re at your most selfish. When you’re in your single-digits, you have this mindset that you’re at the center of the universe. (And to make matters worse, you never knew you thought that until after you’ve grown up.) Books help to alleviate that habit.

Well, the title of this post, upon a second reading, sounds a tad accusatory. Like I’m about to start getting on people’s cases for not reading enough.

And hell…

…I think I am.

A person’s hobbies should be their own thing. I’m not going to prescribe reading as a hobby for people.

I am going to prescribe reading as a part of everyday life though. I think reading a book should be as commonplace as eating lunch or driving a car. A person should do it everyday. If you are a human being alive on this planet and you have the capacity to read a book, you should goddamn do it.

“Wow,” you might be thinking. “This particular Below Average post is a bit vitriolic. Who spit in her coffee this morning?”

You don’t even have to read an entire book a day. Just a chapter. Heck, just three paragraphs. But by incorporating reading a book into your everyday life, your speaking skills will improve, your writing skills will improve, and your people skills will improve.

Well, forgive me for being irate, but I’ve had it up to here with people who have no regard for reading. And that includes people who insist reading is just a hobby. People who think reading is just a pastime are idiots. They’re the Mr. Wormwoods of our generation. (Props to any and all Matilda fans out there.)

If you believe that language is a basis for civilization and society as we know it, then reading that goddamn language should be part of that foundation.

It’s not a hobby if it built empires, established societal connections, and formed the baseline for communication, you know what I mean?

Reading is essential for humans.

So…you want to know the reason for this whole post?

Well, where I live, there is not a single bookstore anymore. Not a one. The last one we had closed two years ago this January, and half of it was a teaching supply store because they had to make ends meet since not enough people were buying books.

So how about before we build our town’s seventh Starbucks (and you Below Average Blog readers know how much I love my coffee), WE OPEN ANOTHER BOOKSTORE BEFORE I LOSE MY MIND?

Frozen 2 Song Debate: What Is the New "Let It Go?"

Frozen 2 has blown into theaters this past month, and it has sparked quite the debate.

Before we dive into that, let me just say that I think the first Frozen is the better movie. (Come at me!) It told a more concise story, and the emotional notes hit me in the feels better. This second adventure of Elsa and Anna’s, while visually and imaginatively more appealing, didn’t form a connection with me in the same way.

But that’s not what we’re here to discuss.

We’re here to dissect the two songs that have been raging in everyone’s mind.

Okay, well, maybe saying “everyone’s mind” is an overstatement, but you get what I mean.

The first Frozen featured that all-too-familiar tune, “Let It Go.” If you haven’t heard this song, you seriously must have been living in outer space. Even the people living under rocks knew about “Let It Go.” And despite the populace’s growing annoyance with hearing the song on every child’s lips, there’s a reason why it got so popular.

It’s a damn good song.

The melody is powerful and the lyrics are strangely relatable to many people.

So when audiences went to go see Frozen 2, many were expecting to have a new “Let It Go.”

What they got instead were two potential runner-ups, neither of which live up to the original.

Both “Into the Unknown” and “Show Yourself” are the contested successors to “Let It Go’s” success, and much like that blue-black/white-gold dress, it is dividing the internet.

So for today’s post, I thought I’d take a look at why each song is a possible contender.

Placement in the film

Both songs kind of fail in this category. “Into the Unknown” comes too early in the story, and “Show Yourself,” conversely, came too late.

“Let It Go” was placed after the major complication of the first film, when Elsa’s powers were outed to the people of Arendelle. It’s the song that perfectly represents Elsa’s change into the person she becomes by the end of the story.

Costume Change

“Show Yourself” has swayed numerous people to its side largely because Elsa gets an outfit change during the number. In “Let It Go,” everyone remembers Elsa changing from her restrictive wardrobe as queen of Arendelle into that snazzy blue dress made from her ice powers (?).

During “Show Yourself,” Elsa changes from her original blue color to a pure white dress. Not only that, but her loosely braided hair is let looser. And while I do appreciate losing the restriction of elastic hairbands, I’m still not sure how I feel about a character learning something about themselves being represented by shifting hairstyles.

The End Credits reprise

Disney clearly has their own take on what song is the new “Let It Go.”

In the first movie, “Let It Go” was given a reprise sung by Demi Lovato to mark the beginning of the end credits.

“Show Yourself” was snubbed in favor of “Into the Unknown” for having a reappearance during the end credits. Panic! At the Disco released an incredibly bumping version of “Into the Unknown,” a version that, if I do say so myself, matches the pitch of Idina Menzel’s voice to a tee.

Thematic Undertones

“Let It Go” called out to many listeners because it spoke of being hampered by society’s ideas of right and wrong, until you finally decide to stop caring what they think and “let it go.” It was a theme that practically everyone on the planet can relate to.

Heading off into a mystical world because you hear a strange voice is not something that forms a connection with audiences easily in terms of theme, which is why “Into the Unknown” loses this round.

And while “Show Yourself” is technically about Elsa discovering the identity of the mystery voice, if you were to just read the lyrics without knowing the movie’s plot, it would feel as if Elsa is singing to a side of herself that she has kept hidden her whole life. Which feels a tad more relatable in terms of theme.

Those Unreachable high notes

If there is anything “Let It Go” is known for, it’s being nigh unsingable by mere mortals. Those high notes Idina Menzel tosses out like candy are as distant to the average shower-singer as Mt. Everest is to the average walker.

While “Show Yourself” does feature those kinds of heights toward the end, “Into the Unknown” reaches those peaks a whole lot more. That and the quicker tempo make it feel like a similar beast to its predecessor.

End Results

Bottom line, this is actually a case of whichever you prefer. I find myself humming “Into the Unknown” more than “Show Yourself,” so I’m more likely to be found in that camp.

But if you were to say you’re in the other camp, the “Show Yourself” one, I could not fault you for that at all.

But yeah, “Let It Go” is still better.