Monday, January 31, 2011

Cute Video, Creepy Lyrics/Cute Lyrics, Creepy Video

I'm moving away from hip hop this week to talk about some of my favorite country music. I recently discovered Sugarland, the country duo of Jennifer Nettles and Kristian Bush. Their song, Stuck Like Glue is a bouncy, fun love song. The music video features Captain Awesome from Chuck--what's not to love about that??? (Ryan McPartlin)

Well, for one thing, the music video is actually pretty creepy. My kids don't quite understand why I find it so disturbing--but I'd like to think no one would get away with making a cute music video about a man kidnapping a woman, tying her up, getting her drunk and then punching her in the face. Why should a man be any different?

When I talked to my kids about this, J called the woman a "creeper," which is such a great description that I had to add it.


Moving on to The Band Perry. Kimberly Perry is the lead vocalist in a band with her 2 brothers. When I first heard the song "If I Die Young" I liked everything except the lyrics, which seem to celebrate dying--"And maybe then you'll hear the words I've been singing/Funny when you're dead how people start listening." Since The Band Perry appeals to a young audience, I wasn't impressed by such dark lyrics.

But the music video is amazing! It changed the whole song for me. I'm a big Anne of Green Gables fan. Do you remember the scene where Anne is pretending to be the Lady of Shallott, and her boat starts to sink? Welcome to this music video. She's even holding a book of poems by Tennyson. 

We all like this song, but it's my eight year old who sings (all day long!) about how she wants to be buried in satin and sunk in the river at dawn.

Wednesday, January 26, 2011

Howl's Moving Castle

Howl's Moving CastleHOWL'S MOVING CASTLE
by: Diana Wynne Jones
429 pages
published in 1986

I was between stacks of reading material this week, so I reread one of my favorites. This book is full of chapters called things like "Chapter 5, Which Is Far Too Full of Washing" and "Chapter 6, In Which Howl Expresses His Feelings With Green Slime". Plus it's got Howl, the consummate talented, vain and charming man with a well-hidden heart of gold. Diana Wynne Jones is a prolific and talented author, and this is probably her best work. No one else could have pulled it off.

Sophie is a beautiful young lady until the Witch of the Waste curses her with old age.To break the curse, she makes a deal with a fire demon named Calcifer--if she can free him from the heartless wizard Howl, Calicifer promises to break the enchantment that makes her old. From the very beginning I wanted this to be a love story--but how could it be, when she calls all the eligible bachelors "young man" and works as Howl's cleaning lady?

I give this my highest recommendation.

Monday, January 24, 2011

Bruno Mars


Isn't Bruno Mars a cutie? He kind of reminds me of Michael Jackson in his too-perfect-to-be real phase. Just The Way You Are came on the radio at least a dozen times today. I started loving this song in a strange way. I kept hearing the tail end of it on the radio. The sweet lyrics even brought a tear or two to my eyes. I imagined that he was singing the song to a burn victim.

My oldest daughter and I were talking about the importance of loving someone for who they were on the inside, and I used this song as an example of that. And then I contrasted it to that other song I kept hearing on the radio...the one that started, "Her eyes, her eyes, Make the stars look like they're not shining; Her hair, her hair, Looks beautiful without her trying; She's so beautiful..." I would always get disgusted at that point and turn it off.

She looked at me kind of strangely and said, "You know that's the exact same song, don't you?" Google was called on to settle the matter, and as usual, she won. Still, I like this song, even if it's not quite as "beauty is only skin deep" as I'd originally thought it was.

And speaking of Bruno Mars...I love Grenade even better. What a talented guy. Personally, I think these lyrics shine.

Friday, January 21, 2011

The Club Can't Handle Me, pt. 2

A few days ago I posted about dancing in the church parking lot during a snow storm at nighttime. We were waiting for my friend Renee to pick up her daughters and their friend. After reading my version of events, she sent me a message on facebook with her journal entry about the event. It was so amazing that I asked permission to post it here:
And turning quickly I saw them there, 5 perhaps 6, dancing in the moonbeams on a field of white. Fairies I think they were. Some were linked hand-in-hand as in a childhood game of ring-around-the-rosies. Others were solitary, with arms raised in praise to the heavens. Each head was thrown back in joyous laughter. Almost it seemed, in the same instant that I saw them, they were gone, spirited away to another plane. But their brilliance filled my spirit with happiness all the way home.
Even if the soundtrack was a silly hip hop song, this was the exact feeling of it. It was a magical moment. 

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Kiss In Time

A Kiss in Time
by: Alex Flinn
371 pages
published in 2009

Talia is your typical Sleeping Beauty. Jack is your typical red blooded American boy. After he breaks the curse that has kept her asleep for 316 years, they flee from the wrath of her father. Where do they go? To Florida of course. Talia has lots to learn about modern day life, and Jack has lots to learn about women.

This is the last book in my stack of overdue library books, and I saved the best for last. This book was complete fun. It was such a fluffy, silly plot, but I love to watch good characters grow.  This is a book for mature teenagers. In one party scene they drink beer and Talia innocently gets drunk from jell-o shots and is nearly taken advantage of. This book could generate some interesting discussions about underage drinking or about how our perceptions of beauty have changed over time, and what beauty really is.

Wednesday, January 19, 2011

The Club Can't Handle Me

Woo hoo! Such good news in the Crouse world! I LOVE this song. There hasn't been a song this impossible to not dance to since Fire Burning by Sean Kingston. Even my husband has been heard surreptitiously whistling it as he walks down the hall.

Last Saturday I went on a 65 mile (each way) journey with 5 teenagers in the car in a snowstorm at night. We got back to the church to rendezvous with their ride home. We had a few minutes to kill, and Club Can't Handle Me came on the mp3 player. Imagine us with the music up high, dancing around the parking lot with big fluffy snowflakes falling all around us. It was--by far--the best part of the whole night.

But I've been cautious about watching the music video, because I'm leery of anyone who would sing a duet with Ke$ha (They sang Right Round together a couple of years ago.)

But I finally sat down to watch it, and it's the most appropriate clubbing music video I've ever seen. I'm not much of a car girl, but from the start, when Flo Rida is getting out of that AMAZING car and throwing money around, it was just an extravaganza of fun.

Tuesday, January 18, 2011

A Constant Heart

by: Siri Mitchell
381 pages 
published in 2008

Marget Barnardsen seems to lead a charmed life. She is intelligent, beautiful and bound to marry the Earl of Lytham. But for some reason both her new husband and Queen Elizabeth despise her. Desperate to win her husband's heart, she'll do whatever it takes to discover why and capture the love of a man bound to the queen.  

Yes, every now and then I do read a book that isn't fantasy. I've been trying to find a good YA historical fiction, and I think this qualifies, though Marget is married, which is unusual in YA. This is a book for mature teens because there are many references to sex, including the consummation of a loveless marriage and several propositions of affairs. However, it is mostly implied and the main characters try very hard to do what is right.
As silly as it might seem, the most thrilling parts of this book for me were the face paint and hair products. I couldn't stop reading, I was so desperate for her to realize that the mercury and lead laced products were destroying her health, beauty and even more important things. It made me take a second look at the chemicals in my own life. A Constant Heart is a fascinating glimpse into the life of a courtier during Queen Elizabeth's reign. I look forward to reading more by Siri Mitchell.

Monday, January 17, 2011

Ready, Set

We've been dancing to this song all day.

Radiant Darkness

by: Emily Whitman
270 pages
published in 2009

All you scholars of ancient myths, listen up! They've been telling Persephone's story wrong for centuries. Her mother is a goddess, and she created a paradise for Persephone, but Persephone was trapped there, doomed to be her mother's child forever. The book begins with the words, "I hate eternity." But then HE comes, and tames her as carefully as he would his wild horses, and makes her the queen of the underworld. But her love for the world of the dead may cause the destruction of the world of the living.

Another book out of the pile my daughter forced me to read over Christmas vacation. I really ought to start listening to that girl. This is a beautiful book. Too often, I fall in love with the hero of the story, and am left wondering what he sees in the cardboard heroine. But I love Persephone. More often than not, she makes the same decisions I think I would make if my mother was immortal and wanted me to stay twelve years old for eternity. Or if I realized I fell in love with Hades, the god of the underworld. And I'm pretty cool. ;^)

I think this book is appropriate for most teenagers. There is some kissing, but although Persephone and Hades are married, references to anything beyond that are very, very veiled.

Thursday, January 13, 2011

My Fair Godmother

by: Janette Rallison
311 pages
published by Walker & Co: A Division of Bloomsbury Publishing Co.

Savannah is shocked when her boyfriend breaks up with her for her quiet sister Jane. It's even more humiliating when they try to find her a date to prom. Enter Chrysanthemum Everstar, Savannah's teenage diva of a fairy godmother. If only "Chrissy" would pay attention to Savannah's wishes. Instead, Savannah's first two wishes send her back in time, first as Cinderella and then as Snow White. Her last wish is even more disastrous and Savannah must find a way to rescue Tristan, the cute boy from school who gets sent to the middle ages.

This is completely not my usual kind of book. I bought it for my teenage daughter for Christmas, and she forced me to read it. I'm so glad she did. It is incredibly funny, especially chapter 2, when the top of Savannah's swim suit falls off at the pool. To the chagrin of the rest of my family, my daughter and I have read it out loud to each other twice now. It's hysterical.

The first few chapters are amazing, but Savannah's stints as Cinderella and Snow White are a little dull.  But Savannah is growing and changing, and once she goes to rescue Tristan, it's hard to even set the book down. I love that it was not the studious older sister who needed the fairy godmother, but the beautiful and socially adept Savannah. It was disconcerting but lovely that Savannah was neither the hero of her own story nor the traditional damsel in distress. Instead, she and Tristan have to rescue each other.

The sequel, My Unfair Godmother, is coming out in April. It won't have the same characters, except the airheaded Fair Godmother, Chrissy. I have my fingers crossed that she gets a taste of her own medicine.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

The Lost Hero

The Heroes of Olympus, Book One: The Lost HeroTHE LOST HERO 
by: Rick Riordan
From the Heroes of Olympus series
Pages: 533
Published by Disney/Hyperion Books in 2010

Jason has a problem: he doesn't remember anything--not his own name, the name of the girl he is holding hands with, or how he wound up on a school bus full of "bad kids". As if that wasn't disorienting enough, monsters attack his school bus and he and his friends are rescued and taken to Camp Half-Blood. Soon, he is leading a quest to rescue Hera--the goddess who stole his memories.

THE LOST HERO is my favorite book written by Rick Riordan. It is told from the point of view of three demigods. Jason is the son of  Jupiter (the Roman name for Zeus). Piper is the girlfriend he can't remember. Leo is my favorite character. It's both his sense of humor and his tragic life story that raise this story above the Percy Jackson series for me.

Percy is not in this book, but his very absence adds to the suspense. He's vanished, and Annabeth is searching for him. There are so many tantalizing hints about where he's gone that I'm already antsy for book 2, which is coming out in Fall 2011. It's called THE SON OF NEPTUNE, so I've got my fingers crossed that it's the story of what's been happening to Percy while Annabeth is searching for him.

You don't need to have read the PERCY JACKSON AND THE OLYMPIANS series to enjoy this book, although I recommend it. Knowing the backstory definitely adds a sheen to THE LOST HERO.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Knock Three Times

A new year, a new resolution. When I started this blog in 2010, I wasn't sure what I wanted it to be. I think I've figured that out now, thanks to a facebook status update by a friend of mine, Christina Lowe. It said simply, "Because sharing what you love is fun." Such a brilliant A-HA moment for me. I want to share the things I love. 

This will be the place where my values meet up with fun stuff, with a blatant disregard for its age. Did a great song come out in the 1970's? I'm sharing it here. Did I finally read a great book that everyone else was talking about a year ago? I'll tell you all about it.

I promised a friend my first post would be a song called "Knock Three Times" by Tony Orlando and Dawn. This song came out the year I was born (1971), and the hairstyles are guaranteed to make you laugh, but I love this song. One of my earliest memories was of my mom making me my own personal cassette tape--back when that was cutting edge technology. We were all alone in the house, and I remember she was very worried that someone would knock on the door while we were making the tape, so it must have been old technology indeed. I can only remember the first 3 songs on the tape--S-A-T  U R-D-A-Y Night, the Monster Mash, and Knock Three Times. I wore that tape out listening to those 3 songs.

Knock Three Times was one of the first songs I bought when I got an mp3 player, and now I have a whole new set of memories set to this song. My kids thought the part that goes, "When you look out your window tonight/Pull in the string with the note that's attached to my heart" was as overly sentimental as a song could get. Whenever they hear it, J pretends to pull on a string and D gasps, grabs his heart and falls to his knees as though she just ripped out his heart.*

*edited to add: J says D doesn't just fall to the floor, he starts screaming, and knocks into the coffee table.