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.

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.

Ode to Oatmeal

What is there to really say about oatmeal?
I suppose I owe it thanks for all
The good it does my cholesterol.

But still, that does not encompass how I feel
While munching that mess in my mouth,
Its fiber sending my stomach’s contents south.

It takes very little to prepare
Beyond small oats and water, plus hot air.
Its texture is what seems unique;
Chewing mush takes some technique.
But though oatmeal my doctor recommends,
To Hell it will my taste buds send.

The Caramel Brulee Latte

I am in no way, shape, or form paid by Starbucks to promote their shit.

Yet.

My introduction to Starbucks occurred gradually. It started off as a few beverages my mom bought for me when she stopped there, and eventually graduated to me picking my own drinks.

I initially only liked two kinds of drinks. I liked those tea-lemonade hybrids which they still have to this day, and I also liked a straight-up coffee frappuccino. As you might have noticed, these are both signature cold drinks, meant to be enjoyed during the height of summer.

One winter day, my sister suggested we walk to our local Starbucks. I was reluctant. I whined how it was too cold for Starbucks.

Side note: Remember, I only knew to order my favorite chilled drinks from Starbucks at the time.

My sister looked at me like I was an idiot. Told me to just order a hot drink. I whined some more, complaining that the menu was complicated and I had no clue what was good and what was terrible based on these extravagant espresso monikers.

My sister insisted/demanded we go there anyways. Told me to be more experimentive.

Since I was still hesitant to pick (and pay) for a drink I knew nothing about, my sister ended up choosing the drink for me.

And thus, I was introduced to the Caramel Brulee Latte.

After the first initial sip, I was in sweetened, caffeinated heaven. The taste of caramel graced the edges of my tongue, the rich espresso flavor coated my throat, and the warmth of the drink touched my fingertips and my heart.

Side note: Am I being overly poetic? Yes. Yes, I am.

It was the best drink I’d ever had.

And unbeknownst to me until it was too late, it was a seasonal holiday drink.

These days, I wait for the Caramel Brulee Latte’s season in an neverending state of agitation; I hunger for it. Eight months out of the year, I’m in constant torment. Fuck the Pumpkin Spice Latte. I crave a different sugary sweetness.

Okay, I sound like a basic bitch, but come on. Where I live, Starbuckses are practically a form of entertainment. There is nothing to do around here except go to the movies, shop at the local mall, or hang out at a Starbucks. It is the only place to chill at that is not my or a friend’s home.

And now that the holidays are here, I can guzzle that caramelly, brulee-y goodness to my heart’s content.

Or at least until I get diabetes or something like that.

Life Update #8: Plans for the Blog Going Forward and Damn News

It’s been one heck of a month for me, guys. Not that you would know it because I’ve been characteristically closemouthed about it. But that’s not the reason for this update.

Well, it’s not the entire reason for this update.

I have a few ideas of what I want to do with the blog, and the main one is introducing a new type of post.

I’m thinking about doing some how-tos, not many and mostly humorous in nature.

How original, right?

I got the idea of doing it not too long ago, but haven’t implemented it into my schedule yet because of the chaos that consumed my life about three weeks ago. (More on that in a bit.)

As things stand with my Below Average Blog now, I have four types of posts that I write regularly. There are these Life Updates, where I toss around what’s been new with me. There are “reviews” that I do for movies, shows, games, and books, and those are hardly professional. (In fact, they’re Below Average content. Get it?) There are top-numbered lists, where I write about my favorite things from different categories, and then there are the posts where I just shoot the shit.

So why not add some how-tos in there?

I also want to start consistently adding an image per post. Even if that image is reused. It makes the whole thing look prettier, doesn’t it?

Posting once every 5 days has really worked out for me, by the way. That was the last big change I made to the blog, and I’m glad I did. My work schedule was getting a bit overwhelming.

I mean, work’s still relentless, and I’m still falling a bit behind on the post scheduling, but I’m enjoying this level of activity more than the panic-fest from before.

So I’m happy to report that that change was a success.

Now all I need to do is devote more time to reading my fellow bloggers’ work than I do now.

For those of you who’ve stuck around this far, well, I guess you might want to know what the “chaos” thing I was referring to earlier was all about. I’ve been having some medical issues, nothing too serious, but jarring for me nonetheless. I’m planning to go full-on rant about it in a later post in the future. But rest assured, my health is more or less okay (average, you might say), and the issue lay mostly in my troubles with my health provider and his prescriptions than with the ailment I’m dealing with. I am fine. I’m just more…irked…with doctors than I used to be.

It took up my time and my mind like you wouldn’t believe, and now that I’ve got it behind me (somewhat), I’m ready to focus my attention on my writing wholeheartedly once again.

Back to the blog.

If you guys have any ideas or wishes or comments on what to include for future how-to posts, feel free to let me know down below! (In the comments.) I’m all ears. I’m mostly knowledgeable in writing, proofreading, navigating social situations poorly, reading, bad movies, and being a plebeian gamer.

Collaborating with Another Person When Writing

For me, writing is typically a solo affair. I’m a fairly selfish person when it comes to crafting a story, and the idea of having to share it or change it based on another person’s whims does not appeal to me. My writing is all about me getting my ideas down with my pen on my paper.

That sounds kind of petulant, like a little kid, but come on, you guys feel the same, right? When blogging, it’s about getting your own thoughts out there. Right? (Unless it’s not and I’ve somehow been doing this thing wrong this whole time.)

When I was forced to write with others during my school years, it felt like such a chore. Scratch that, it felt like a crime. Like I was messing with the way things were supposed to work.

Which, now that I type that down, sounds like I have a very high opinion of my writing.

I don’t.

I just have the writing spirit of a crotchety old person.

Anyways, I hate collaborating with people on writing. It’s the worst.

Well, that is, unless I’m doing it with the right people.

My sister is my number one person when it comes to writing cooperatively. She’s my number one person for a lot of things, but the fact that I can collaborate with her on writing projects should still be impressive.

The two of us have always been very creative people. We relied on our imagination a lot when it came to playing with each other since we didn’t have TV growing up, and it translates well to our writing skills.

The only thing that hinders us is my sister’s moods. She has to be in the perfect mood to get into the writing spirit. Otherwise, other things will capture her attention. I do have a little trick to solve this though. I call it the Bakuman Effect. Basically, there’s this manga series we both like called Bakuman, and it’s about a pair of teenagers who decide they want to become manga artists together. The whole series is about them getting their own manga series (which is kind of meta), and it’s a real feel-good, you-can-do-it, Rocky-Karate-Kid-esque kind of story.

If my sister reads even a single issue of this series, she’ll get in a writing groove. It just inspires her faster than a bolt of lightning can flash in the sky.

She and I both like to structure our work before tackling it, but when we do, we function like dolphins herding a flock of fish.

Side note: It’s a school of fish, isn’t it? Ah well, “flock of fish” has that nifty alliteration thing going for it.

Together, my sister and I can take on any writing project that comes our way with enthusiasm and determination.

Right now, we’re on-and-off working on a fantasy thing, which is great, because the concept phase has been going on phenomenally. We’re literally creating a world and populating it with people, creatures, religions, and customs, and it’s just fan-freaking-tastic.

My friend Mia is also another person I can collaborate with.

We’ve known each other since we were little, so that kind of comfort you need in order to share ideas that might seem a little silly with another person is totally there. Hanging out with Mia is uber comforting. Being with her is almost exactly like being by yourself on a semi-cold morning with nothing pressing to do except drink your coffee before it loses its warmth.

Plus, we’re both classics fanatics when it comes to our reading preferences, so when we write together, we get to indulge that side of ourselves. We take inspiration from poetry and hefty works of literature, molding them into something of our own.

Our best work together actually happened in college, in this terrible creative writing class we took. (Yeah, it was ironically funny.)

When Mia and I write together, we just lose ourselves.

The final person I thoroughly enjoy collaborating with is my friend Andreya. The two of us working together is just an exercise in crazy. We are wild hilarity in human form. We can spend hours together, just bouncing around every idea under the sun. Nothing is too insane to at least talk about.

Admittedly, I do most of the writing in this pairing, but I kind of prefer it that way. Andreya is like a springy diving board, and our work is the pool I eventually plunge into after our time partnering.

The greatest thing about Andreya is her ability to entertain any notion, spin it, and turn it into something new. She’s like an endless font of inspiration, an inventor with a mind that keeps churning out ideas.

So remember how I was a sour-puss about collaborating with people when I write?

I don’t hate it when it’s with these three people specifically.

It’s kind of an acquired taste.

Growing Older

One of those constant tropes you hear when you’re a kid is that you think the world revolves around you.

“Oh, kids these days, they’re so selfish. They think the world is their oyster. They don’t believe they’re going to grow old. They don’t think time will happen to them.”

As a kid, I used to think that was bullshit.

‘Of course I’m going to get old,’ my younger self thought. ‘That’s what happens to everybody. We all get birthdays, we all get taller, and we all get old.’

But I didn’t really know.

I fell into the stereotype of a kid that I bristled so much at. But it’s like a Catch-22. You’re not truly a young person if you have the mindset of an older person, no matter how much you might want to avoid preconceived notions.

Side note: Preconceived notions have and always will be the bane of my existence.

Now that I’ve grown some, I’m hyper aware that I’m…well, I’m aware that I’m older. And with this awareness has come this kind of resignation, a this-is-it weariness.

‘Cause, I mean, after high school, it was all about “what comes next.” Where are you going to college? What do you want to do with your life? Where do you see yourself in five years?

And now that I’m past that point, all I can think is, “Oh well. That’s all there was to it.”

From where I’m standing, life is all about the future. Life grows, life moves forward, or, to quote Ian Malcolm, “life finds a way.” When you’re a kid, you embody that potential. It’s annoying to hear all the time, but kids are the future. When you grow up, the future stops being you.

This all sounds very depressing, and while the concept can get me down in the dumps, I’m not always upset about it. With resignation, there’s also this kind of relief. It’s like expectations have been lifted from me and now I can focus on just trying to be happy.

And just because I’m no longer the future, doesn’t mean I can’t contribute to it, right?

I know some people take this in a very literal sense, and they physically contribute to the future by having kids. This is a dubious decision for certain persons (won’t name names, but my god, haven’t you ever thought that certain people should never in the history of ever attempt to be parents), and I’ve seen my fair share of people who fall into the trap of having kids as a way to remain relevant to the future.

But I do not want to have a child. Have you guys heard of the goddamn changes women have to go through in order to have a baby?! I cringe when I watch a horror movie; no way am I actually gong to live through one.

So I sometimes wonder how I can contribute to the future as I grow older.

And funnily enough, it’s that living-in-the-moment bullcrap that has become my go-to answer.

I want to live in the now with the idea that anything I say or do can have a positive effect on a person, be it a kind word or a particularly moving blog post or a fun multiplayer match of Halo. I want to pepper my life with kindness to others in the hopes that I might be helping them through a tough time or something like that.

I feel like that’s what I can do with my life.

And yeah, as I grow older, I don’t just think about these moral obligations or philosophical musings like a dweeb. I think about dying like a normal person would, too.

But I think about dying the way I used to think about growing up.

It’s not real for me yet. Not really, not in a way that counts.

I know it’s going to happen, I just haven’t completely wrapped my brain around the concept of not existing. It’s easier to think about death this way because I don’t want to get uber fixated on it or anything. I just want to live life to the fullest, being happy and making other people happy, too. Small things.

And this all sounds so stupid and lame and corny and emotional, but it’s just what I was thinking about right now.

I promise I’ll go back to writing about fun video games next time. Today, I was just feeling kind of thoughtful.