Spoopy Crafts — Happy Halloween!

Happy Halloween, everyone! I had another book review planned for this week, but in the end I felt like there wasn’t much to say. So in lieu of that, as well as it being Halloween, I’m just going to share some spoopy craft stuff I’ve worked on this month.

DSCN1405So first off, I made a bunch of Boos from Super Mario World out of Perler beads. I’ve actually made a bunch of Perler bead pieces that I haven’t shown off yet (that’s probably going to be next week’s post), but I figured it would be appropriate to show the Boos off today. I turned them into magnets and stuck them on my fridge so they look like one of those Boo circles from the Ghost House levels. I should have made more to make it seem more like the game, but I think you get the picture. 🙂

Along with Bob-ombs, Boos were always my favorite Mario enemies. I don’t know why, they’re just so… cute? Derpy? Spoopy? I like their laughs, too. I dunno. I just think they’re cool, I guess.

Photo0312So of course, I chose a Boo as my first ever Jack-O-Lantern. And before you ask, NO, I did not come up with this myself. I went on Google image search and found a picture of a Boo Jack-O-Lantern and did my best to copy it. Still, I don’t think it’s bad for my first carving.

Photo0310I also made a Jack-O-Lantern of Oogie Boogie from The Nightmare Before Christmas. Again, I copied something I found on Google image search. I think this one looks better than my Boo, but that’s probably because it’s simpler. I haven’t seen this movie in a while, but I think this is from the “This is Halloween” song.

Photo0315And lastly, how could I not try carving pumpkins without even attempting to make a Majora’s Mask Jack-O-Lantern? The Legend of Zelda: Majora’s Mask is probably my favorite video game of all time, and this time of year is perfect to play it.

There was no single image from Google image search I copied from for this pumpkin. I sort of used a bunch of other Jack-O-Lanterns as references for certain parts and tried doing others on my own, only using an actual picture of Majora’s Mask as a reference. Majora’s Mask itself has a lot of thin lines and shapes, so I couldn’t include them all without fearing the entire carving would fall apart. However, I think I added enough in to make it identifiable.

I saw a lot of people make insanely good carvings while searching online, and it looks like they don’t cut all the way through the pumpkin as much as they cut out a certain depth. I tried that here — it’s hard to tell but some of the lines and shapes are only carved halfway in, while the spikes and eyes are obviously removed. While I was carving, the irises accidentally fell out, so I ended up making two round dots and sticking toothpicks in them so they appear to hover in the center of the eye.

Well anyway, I hope everyone has a fantastic Halloween! Everyone stay safe and enjoy the rest of your day! 🙂

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Let’s Talk Books — When You Are Engulfed in Flames

Warning: Spoilers

Talking about a collection of short stories or essays is kind of hard without talking about each individual section, so I usually hold off on discussing them. But in an attempt to both become more comfortable with it and discuss as many books as I can, today I’m going to talk about When You Are Engulfed in Flames by David Sedaris.

I’d read Barrel Fever almost two years ago and enjoyed it. It was funny without trying too hard to be hilarious. Since then, I’ve been wanting to check more of his work out but for whatever reason, it’s taken this long. I found a few books of his in the library and randomly grabbed one of them.

My experience with When You Are Engulfed in Flames was similar to Barrel Fever. It was entertaining, it kept me smiling, and I was glad to have read it after finishing. The essays regarding his life are interesting; David Sedaris seems to be a pretty well-traveled person, as many of his stories indicate. They take place in multiple locations, including France, London, Japan, and several locations in America.

His observations of people are one of the things I love most about his writing. He picks up on all the mannerisms of random people you’d encounter on a check-out line, on the street, in the halls — and he can make them seem very real and relateable. Relateable, of course, meaning that if they tend to annoy you or rub you the wrong way, David Sedaris will probably portray that pretty well. I think one of my favorite examples of this was in the essay “That’s Amore,” where he writes of his relationship with an elderly, critical neighbor, and “This Old House,” which describes a particularly annoying neighbor bothering him in during his stay at a boarding house.

He’s also got a dry wit, and every now and then he depicts some random observation or replies with unexpected sarcasm that I couldn’t help but crack up at. In his last essay, “The Smoking Section,” he describes his stay in Japan while attending classes to learn Japanese. In a comically immature manner, he forms a strong dislike for the one student in class to do worse than him (because he’s just about on par with her) as well as someone that scored a perfect 100 on an exam and commented on Sedaris’ failing grade. It’s very reminiscent of grade school jealousy, and I really enjoyed how even though the author portrays himself as a mature, well-experienced person, he’s not above resorting back to childish, imaginary name-calling.

I think the only real issue I have with this collection of essays is that David Sedaris either feels like too different of a person from me or too much older, as there were several parts throughout the book that I felt pretty disconnected with. That’s not a technical flaw with the book, but when it comes to short story/essay collections, the degree that I can relate to the narrator can make the difference between enjoying a book and loving one. But that’s a nitpick. It was an entertaining read, and I’d recommend it to anyone interested in this type of observational humor or nonfiction.

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Info for my edition of When Engulfed in Flames:

  • Published 2008 by Little Brown and Company
  • Hardcover, 323 pages
  • ISBN 978-0-316-14347-9

Let’s Talk Books — The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Warning: Spoilers

This book has been on my to-read list for a while now. Honestly, I should have read it a long time ago when I was in high school (or even middle school), as I’ve come to realize it’s something of a “right of passage” for becoming a teenager. And I can totally agree on that; this book feels very much like something I would have been in love with several years ago if I had read it then (and been able to read more intelligently).

The Perks of Being a Wallflower is about a teenager named Charlie and his experiences during freshman year of high school. He meets friends, he experiments with drugs and alcohol, he reads a lot of books, he falls in love, he ends up in a relationship with someone else and makes a mess in his circle of friends, he says goodbye to the friends that graduate, blah blah blah…

Honestly, this is one of those books that’s hard to describe when someone asks “what’s it about?” It’s about standard YA and high school topics. It’s not going to sound interesting in a one word sentence.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower shines more through Charlie’s observations. He’s, well, a wallflower. He sits on the sidelines and notices things about life. And he writes them down in letters written to an unknown “friend.” The whole book is a series of letters that play the story out as the school year goes on. This, of course, was something that I immediately liked; as you all know, I’m usually a big fan of journal entry styled stories. It also helps the reader keep up and discover things with Charlie, which is good because a big part of being able to like this book is being able to understand Charlie. Or being able to appreciate a character like Charlie. Or… hmm.

I’m not entirely sure how to word this, but you know how everyone really loves or really hates The Catcher in the Rye? I feel that sort of applies here. I think people love this book because of the observations Charlie makes in the same way people love Catcher in the Rye because of what Holden Caulfield has to say. That goes for hating it, too. I mean, Charlie and Holden have two very different personalities and ways of expressing themselves, for sure. But I feel the way readers connect or distance themselves from these characters are very similar.

So that being said, if you’re the kind of person that enjoys finding very relateable passages, quotes, or descriptions while reading, and you’re of the wallflower variety, I think there’s something here for you to enjoy. If not, then… well, it’s a quick read, if you absolutely need to see what it’s all about.

Tastes aside, there are some things about the book that felt a little off. For one, almost every character in the book isn’t particularly interesting. I don’t mean that in a negative way, they just weren’t very memorable by the time I finished. I think part of this has to do with the way the book is written. While there are plenty of conversations and scenes acted out through Charlie’s letters, they sort of take a back seat to Charlie’s chain-of-though narration. It’s sort of like when you’re describing something you and your friends did to someone that doesn’t know them — you’re not going to be able to really show who these people are by recounting a story in and of itself. Something else has to be there, and I think that something else was either a little weak or not there at all.

The book also touches on a lot of issues, like homosexual relationships, domestic abuse, depression, suicide, etc. Which is great, because these are issues people need to learn about and including them in a YA book seems right to me. But it’s also not so great, because that’s all this book manages to do: touches on the issues. A lot is implied, a lot is mentioned, but I think the book may have left more of an impact on me if it really dived into these topics. Again, if I read this book as a teenager or even in my early twenties when I was getting back into reading, I think it would have been the perfect amount of depth to get me thinking. But here at 27, from both a writer and adult reader’s perspective, I think the amount of depth is lacking and hurts the book a little. Not a lot. But enough to mention.

I feel like I’m saying more bad than good about the book, and I’d like to clarify that I did really enjoy my experience. I think there are other, better books that did the same thing out there, but it really was a good read for me. I guess I’m just feeling like a lot of little somethings were missing and I wish I could pinpoint all of them. Did anyone else feel that way too? I dunno. It is a YA book, after all. Maybe I should take it as it is.

It’s just over 200 pages, so it’s not a long or strenuous read. If you’ve never read it before I’d recommend it, with the assumption you’re into books and narrative styles like this one has. And even if you’re not, but you’re still curious, go check it out. It really is a short read.

Anyone that has read it, especially recently, what did you think of it? I’m curious to hear other readers’ thoughts.

The Perks of Being a Wallflower

Info for my edition of The Perks of Being a Wallflower:

  • Published 2012 by MTV Books
  • Paperback, 224 pages
  • ISBN 978-1-4516-9619-6

I’m back

It’s been a while, but I’ve fixed my computer and I should be back to posting on a regular basis again. Losing everything on my hard drive was about as awful as it sounds, and the fact that I didn’t have any of my files backed up makes the whole situation even crappier. In the end I guess I can’t blame anyone except myself, which of course makes me feel even worse about it all. I might make a “Dealing with Depression” post about it sometime, but for now I want to get back into the habit of posting book discussions again. I’m hoping to have one up within the next couple of days, and after that there might be some more Perler bead art to show off.

Hope everyone’s having a good week! 🙂