Tuesday, April 14, 2009

I know, I know

I still owe you guys a new post, but I've been house-sitting and separated from my Lurlene books! I know you are probably shocked and appalled I don't just carry them around with you. Well, listen, I THOUGHT about doing you a solid and getting one of these lovely tomes from the library, but, look, the way I recap is by dog-earing pages and coming back to them, and that wouldn't be fair to the people who care about the pristine quality of Lurlene's books.


Anyways. I HAVE been reading a crap-ton the past week because I've also been waylaid by a sinus nastiness that has been a bit too disgusting to tell you about. My point is that my Goodreads has been updated a lot, so you should check it out.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Geez, I'm sorry!

Man, I totally disappeared again. I'm sorry! I KNOW. Trust me, I had worthwhile reasons, but I promise if I have upcoming downtime it will be dedicated to Our Lady Lurlene. I have books on my shelf! (Well, technically, not on my shelf, but in a box in my closet, ready to go!)

Friday, January 23, 2009

They Call Him Mellow Yellow, or One Last Wish: Let Him Live

Continuing in this One Last Wish vein, let us take a fond look at One Last Wish: Let Him Live (1993). I can't promise it will be any more exciting than our last journeys through the wondrous land where dying or totally didn't die after all kids get a shit-ton of money, but - regardless - onward ho!

If you want to know what this book is about, too bad. Amazon or the publishers couldn't invest that kind of effort:
A candy striper helps a 17-year-old boy deal with his uncertain future as he awaits a liver transplant. Together, they use his "One Last Wish" money to build a center for terminally ill kids.
Wow, way to be vague AND spoil the ending at once. I had no idea that was even possible!

(Also that's not even frigging accurate!)

The copy I used to own (OK how horrifying is that? At the beginning of 1993 I was FIFTEEN PEOPLE FIFTEEN WHAT THE HELLY HELL) looked like this:

Sorry it's so small, that's literally the only picture of it I could find. I could hardly even find any images of the new cover, so aparently this is like the least popular One Last Wish book ever. I don't like the sound of that!

Anyways, it looks like this now:

Uhhh why does he look all rednecky now?

So the book starts out with our fair heroine Meg and her red convertible. I know Meg is probably going to have some snotty attitude problems (or her parents will) due to this selection of car. Only arrogant rich assholes drive red convertibles, after all, in the Lurleneverse. Luckily this is not true in the real world or I would miss my little car so frigging badly.

(I love thinking about the character assassination Lurlene would do of me based on my car, my location, and my dress size. Then again I have this running joke that because I once almost hit Aaron Sorkin with my car (his fault, jaywalker!) that if I'd succeeded there would have been a whole plotline in Studio 60 where, who knows, some Diablo-Cody-looking girl named, I dunno, JAMES would have run over Matthew Perry and been a royal dumbass bitch about the entire thing. Also he would have worked in some way I am morally flawed, like, dude, Aaron, I KNOW. GOD I HATED THAT SHOW.)

So Meg is all ready to volunteer as a candy striper at the hospital where her dad is some great doctor. I'm glad I never had to volunteer at the lumber company where my dad was some great salesdude. Anyways, it's not Meg's idea, but her therapist, who thinks it'll help Meg with her grief over her BFF Cindy's death in a car accident. If one of my BFFs died in a car accident I don't think I'd want to hang out in a hospital to get over it but that's just me!

So Meg's dad is giving the welcome speech to the new candy stripers, which is not exactly how I think top docs spend their time (more like breaking their penises in supply closets or whatever) and he says that volunteers like them and "[their] faithful Pink Ladies" are vital to the welfare of their patients. OMG now I totally want to go to this hospital!

A tall, slim girl named Alana Humphries introduces herself to Meg. I like that Lurlene doesn't shoehorn it in immediately that Alana's black, or make her talk like she's mentally disabled. Meg and Alana chat about both being assigned to pediatrics while eating powdered sugar donuts. NOOOOOOOOOO! Anyway, Alana, whose name I keep typing as "Alma" so WTF is up with that?, thinks Meg's dad is the most wonderful man in the world because he put Alana's brother Lonnie in the hospital's transplant program to get a donor kidney.

Alana is surprised Meg's not all doctory herself:
"You're kidding? I thought medicine would be in your blood."

"I prefer doughnuts [this is how it's spelled, I myself prefer the spelling "donuts" but considering that I just spelled "myself" as "mighself" I'm not sure I should make any judgment calls!] in my blood."

Alana giggled. "Honestly, girl, you're such a comedian."
Honestly, girl, you need to get out more.

So they're checking out the pediatric floor when a boy shouts "Get out of the way. You're in the middle of the drag strip!" because apparently we're in the 1950s?

And just because I found this picture while searching:

Anyways the boy who shouts this is of course a hottie because this is the Lurleneverse. He's playing with some little kid named Mark, which is the most popular name in my entire family. Fifty percent of my immediate family is named this, and I am not kidding or exaggerating!

Speaking of names, the hottie is named Donovan Jacoby because apparently his parents watched too many soap operas or something. Meg notices that besides possessing The Hot he's all yellow-tinged and stooped. She's all, maybe you should get back to bed, when he says something incredibly disturbing:
"That's where I'm supposed to be, but it's pretty boring in my room. I was walking the hall looking for action when I saw Mark."

Despite this creepy utterance, Meg goes to Donovan's room to hang out with him. She learns Donavan's mom and six-year-old brother Brett moved here to Washington, DC so he could be at a good hospital. Meg reveals her dad is never home but then laughs and is all HA HA JUST KIDDING I MEAN HE'S AWESOME.

Meg checks in at the nurses' station, where an older nurse tells Meg this about Donovan:
"He's one nice kid. Has a friendly word for everybody and a special affinity for the smaller kids."

At the end of the day Meg talks to her dad, who says Donovan's sick and "has less than six months to live". HEY LURLENE SINCE THIS BOOK ACTUALLY SAYS IT WHY DIDN'T YOU CALL THIS ONE THAT HUH?

OK so I was just about to make a joke about, "What did Meg just think Donovan was just a big fan of Coldplay and that explains his color?" BUT THEN IT HIT ME that the guy who sang that "Mellow Yellow" song in the '60s was named DONOVAN OMG this is amazing! I really hope Lurlene subconsciously named a jaundice sufferer after this song:

Anyways, obviously Donovan is all mellow yellow, not because he's just mad about saffron, but because he needs a liver transplant! Oh noes!

The next day Meg meets Donovan's mom and brother Brett. Brett's all "yeah he said you were pretty" because little kids will repeat anything. This is exactly why I don't tell little kids the people I'd like to jump. Later in the day Meg takes Donovan outside in a wheelchair where they talk about boring stuff, mostly that Donovan's all I RUINED EVERYTHING BY GETTING SICK and Meg thinks of how her dad says Donovan doesn't realize he's dying, which means Donovan's a frigging idiot because how else does he think he got on that transplant list? For funsies?

Meg offers to bring Donovan a pizza from the outside world, and he's fine with that because the doctors would be happy for him to gain weight. Meg's all WELL YOU CAN HAVE SOME OF MINE and he's all WAIT YOU LOOK FINE but apparently Meg has always struggled with her weight WAIT A MINUTE THERE IS AN OVERWEIGHT BUT CUTE AND BOY-WORTHY GIRL IN THE LURLENEVERSE WHAAAAAAAAAT!

Anyways so Meg comes to the hospital on her day off, and Donovan's all OMG I MUST GO OUTSIDE NOW and he's clutching some shaving kit like a freak. He even 'fesses up to freakish behaviour, to which Meg says:
"Not at all. How exciting can games and a video movie be to a guy who has a death grip on his shaving kit?"

Sadly there is nothing that exciting in his shaving kit, just the OLW letter (you can read it in this entry if you so desire). Donovan is all secretive because he thinks if the hospital knows about the check he can't get care for charity anymore. Honestly, that is one of the first logical concerns a character in the Lurleneverse has ever had.

Meg does some more whining to herself about her dad's work schedule, and I'm just happy for once a protag bitches about her dad's career and not her mom's!

This is really boring, but it plays into the plot later, so I should tell you there's all this talk about poor Donovan's mom and Brett having to commute so far on the bus to see Donovan at the hospital, and whyyyy ohhh whyyyy isn't there a nearby place for families to stay??? OK, I fulfilled this obligation. Meg tells her dad, and he tells her to figure something out, so Meg pleads her case in front of her mom's Junior League.

Meg takes Donovan to visit his mom and Brett at their shitty apartment where it's only decorated with "meager possessions" and you can hear babies crying, and the meal is "simple but tasty", like, seriously, Lurlene, have you ever BEEN to an apartment? I have been to plenty of houses shittier than my apartment! Anyways, when she gets home and goes to sleep, she's woken up by her dad because there's an accident victim at the hospital who's a match for Donovan. The damn victim isn't dead yet though! They rush to the hospital! The kid DOES die, but the parents won't donate his organs. PEOPLE COME ON! I guess this is something I just don't understand. There are few good things that can come out of a kid dying, but organ donation is one. People, do it!

The only good news is apparently the Junior League does want to help build a house for patients' families to stay at. Hey, is this like the Ronald McDonald House? It's got to be better inherently since it's not sponsored by a clown, nor will its logo likely be a touching clown hand.

Anyways, the venture is gonna cost $2 million, so everyone's doing their best to come up with fundraising ideas. At the same time, Meg is also - at Donovan's request - trying to buy a house for his mom and Brett to be purchased with the OLW money, so they can live closer to the hospital. They find a lovely Victorian house, and Donovan puts down a down payment immediately.

The Junior League holds a moonlight cruise to raise money, and Donovan and Meg go together and end up kissing. The Lurleneverse is like the best place to find a hottie, though to be fair they're usually at death's door.

So Donovan gives the house to his mom, and of course she's thrilled. Too bad later the same day he's brought into the hospital unconcscious!! Ruh roh, Donovan! His kidneys are failing now, and we all know what multi-organ failure means, right? (Man I watch too many medical shows.) Goodbye, mellow yellow one.

FLASH FORWARD! What do you guys think happened? Of course Donovan's mom donated the house, and families can stay there now! WOO! Also now Meg wants to be a doctor. AWESOME.

This book wasn't exactly thrilling, but it was also not offensive in any way. Small victories, people, small victories.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Ames reads, Ames snores, or One Last Wish: Someone Dies, Someone Lives

I hope you fine folks are in the mood for some boring, because boring is what I bring you! Like OLW: Mourning Song, OLW: Someone Dies, Someone Lives (1992) could function both as a doorstop AND a sleep aid. Oh, and a book too.

Let's get on with it!



I love how Katie's all "WHAT?" Also that is a daring neckline for someone post-HEART TRANSPLANT.

Oh but look at me, getting ahead of myself.

The book USED to look like this. My copy still does.

I find the shape of Josh's body very strange. Look how it goes straight down and all out to the side, with no waist at all. WTF. His shirt is also bizarrely large, and his shorts seem to be hovering in front of him. Honestly the whole thing looks like he's standing behind a cardboard cutout of clothes, and not wearing clothes at all. WTF. I remembered this really bothered me as a kid. Clearly it still bothers me now!

Would you like to know what it's about? I can help you there too!
You don't know me, but I know about you. . . . I can't make you live longer, I can't stop you from hurting. But I can give you one wish, as someone did for me.

Katie O'Roark feels miserable, even though she knows she's incredibly lucky to have received an anonymous gift. Still, the money can't but her a new heart or bring her back to her track-star days. When a donor is found with a compatible heart, Katie undergoes transplant surgery. While recuperating, she meets Josh Martel and senses an immediate connection. When Katie decides to start training to attain her dream of running again, Josh helps her meet the difficult challenge.

Will Katie find the strength physically and emotionally to live to become a winner again?


Hey, you guys. Are we alone? Do you promise not to tell anyone? I have a secret. Like FOR MANY YEARS there's this dude character who has shown up in many of the projects I've worked on. I know other writers who do this too. Anyways, I think he's finally found a place, so, whatever, dude, if I ever finish that book you will be freed! My point is, though, that this dude's name has always been JOSH MARTEL and I had no idea where I got that, but I don't know where I get MOST of my names (except for the ones I name after specific people) so I never thought much of it... until I picked up this book. Yes, my friends, I stole a name from LURLENE McDANIEL and just KEPT GOING. I guess when I read this at fourteen I was blown away by him or something.

This is almost as bad as the time I realized I'd ripped off dialogue from Chicago Hope.

So the book opens with the One Last Wish letter (you can look it up here if you want to read it) to Katie, a former track star, sick at home because she has cardiomyopathy and needs a heart transplant. I learned about that initially not from Chicago Hope mind you but from Ann M. Martin's With You and Without You which is a book I thought was really stellar as a kid but I wasn't so crazy about during my adult reread. Hmmm, what does THAT remind me of? At least there wasn't a metric shit-ton of judgeypants in Martin's book.

Anyways, Katie is dying, basically. This makes everyone sad! Her friend Melody might need to cool it on the histrionics though:
"I just can't believe this is happening to you," Melody wailed. "How will the track team manage without you next spring?"
Way to keep your eye on priorities, Melody! If Katie died that would probably throw off your whole effing season, huh?

So abruptly we meet the aforementioned Josh Martel and his Gramps who I will picture as Wilf from Series 4 of Doctor Who because there is no finer Gramps in the land!

They're going to see Josh's brother Aaron play in a U of Michigan football game. Apparently their mascot is the Wolverine:

We learn through a bunch of heavy-handed exposition that Josh and Aaron's parents are terrible, so when Aaron got into college in Ann Arbor, Josh came with him and moved in with nearby Gramps. Uh, if your parents are that bad, shouldn't you have done this a little sooner?

So the football game is all footbally, and then Aaron just totes FALLS OVER AND COLLAPSES. PEOPLE FREAK! CHAOS! Well, not really. He just gets taken to the hospital. Josh and Gramps go too.

Like previous doctors in the Lurleneverse, Aaron's displays a real rapport with people:
"What's wrong? How's Aaron?"

Dr. Wright put his hand on Josh's shoulder. "Your brother's dead, son."
So you guys TOTALLY know what's gonna happen, right?

CUT TO: Katie's special transplant beeper goes off. Heart time! HEY YOU GUYS I WONDER WHERE THAT HEART IS FROM DON'T YOU.

So Katie gets the transplant and survives! Hurrah! She's immediately all WHEN DO I GET TO RUN AGAIN? which, um, would not exactly be my number one concern, lady. I mean, I guess it's hard to empathize when your major passion in life would lead you to be more like HEY WHEN CAN I SIT ON MY ASS AND MARATHON A LOT OF TELEVISION AGAIN and then they'd say LIKE NOW and you'd be all OMG GOOD BECAUSE I HAVE A LOT TO CATCH UP ON.

Josh is having some issues dealing with his brother's death, which is totally normal and all! Gramps isn't gonna stand for moping around, though. He tells Josh he'd better get to living!

So Katie's dad is a sports columnist, but he also uses his column to talk about Katie all the time. Man, I hate that crap. A personal blog is one thing but I totally had to unsubscribe from some media newsletter because this dude only talked about his daughter and his fiancee and ugghhhh I don't care, dude. Anyway, he's all waxing rhapsodic about this nameless donor who gave a heart to beloved little Katie, and Josh reads the column and is all OMGGGGGG THAT IS MY BROTHER'S HEART! To be fair I would totes react the same way.

So Katie is well enough to call her BFF Melody:
The moment she said hello, Melody burst into tears. "I can't believe it's you."
Man, Melody is UNHINGED. Someone get that girl some help.

So Josh goes to the hospital to try to see Katie, but she isn't allowed visitors yet. CREEPY STALKING!

Katie meets with her physical therapist Barry. She hits him up for permission to run, and he says he won't talk her out of it. He tells her about the Transplant Olympics, which makes her think he's making some sort of Special Olympics joke, but - just like the Special Olympics - the Transplant Olympics are real! This year (the book's year, not our real life year) they are held in L.A. on the UCLA campus. Oh good, the Westside again!

Katie's mom is all OH HELL NO YOU ARE NOT RUNNING OR COMPETING OR ANYTHING ALSO THAT IS EXPENSIVE. Katie brings up her OLW money but apparently the money was just an excuse for Katie not to get to run. I think if I had a kid who'd just had a heart transplant I would also likely vote for NO RUNNING OR FUN too. During this fight Katie gets a headache, which in most lands would just mean, uh, yelling and getting yelled at makes your head hurt. However, this is the Lurleneverse which means REJECTION!!!!

So Josh is still all Mopey McGee. While I love Gramps (or at least the version of him I've invented) I don't know why he's all CHEER THE EFF UP SON because I don't even LIKE my brother very much and I would be depressed for years if he died! Anyways, Josh thinks he's got a solution to become happy again!:
He could touch Katie O'Roark before she died. Not in a secondhand way, as he'd been doing so far [WHAT DOES THAT MEAN], but in the flesh, with his own hands.
I know it's tough because there are so many options, but this might just be the creepiest thing expressed thus far in the Lurleneverse. What do you guys think?

OK so creepy as all hell Josh goes to the hospital and tells a nurse he's doing a report on the ICU and has to go in. SO SHE'S JUST LIKE OK THAT'S FINE. This nurse is so shitty with rules and regulations she must have just left Seattle Grace or something. When Idiot Nurse sees Josh all starey-eyed at Katie, she's all I KNOW WHAT YOU'RE UP TO THAT'S YOUR GIRLFRIEND HUH and he's all OH YEAH. Cahhhreeeeeeepy.

Katie's all drugged up and rejectiony but she sees Josh. However she thinks he's a dream or a vision or some kind of acid trip instead of the stalkery effed up freako he actually is. However, she does get better.
At least, she could have visitors--Melody had been the first. She'd come the night before and cried the whole time she visited.

"I can't believe you're actually all right," Melody had said between sobs. "I never thought I was going to see you again. First you were sick, then dying, then the operation... and now... now you're alive and beautiful. Oh, Katie, it's a miracle!"
Oh, Melody, it's a miracle you haven't offed yourself yet! WHAT IS WRONG WITH YOU.

So Katie's milling about the hospital and sees Josh, the man of her dreams the stalkery boy! They just happen to go to the same school, OF COURSE. Also Katie thinks she's hot! Also Josh is totally YOU'VE GOT MY DEAD BROTHER'S HEART so Katie lets him listen to it and he actually says "Hey, bro."

Katie continues to improve and is finally sent home! On the way out, her physical therapist Barry "offers up the Vulcan peace sign, '"Live long and prosper."'" I know that punctuation is effing nuts but that's Lurlene's fault and not mine.

So Katie tells Melody she's going to run again. Melody reacts predictably:
Melody drew back, her eyes wide. "Are you serious? How can you?"
Katie overhears her parents fighting because her mom is overprotective and her dad, well, isn't. I wish there was a mom in the Lurleneverse who wasn't a wench in one way or another! Also, I'm sorry, KATIE JUST HAD A FUCKING HEART TRANSPLANT. I understand quality of life but I hardly think worrying someone shouldn't run track and field actually qualifies someone for wenchiness.

Katie decides because of this, she will train in secret for the Transplant Olympics. If I had a health issue that might kill me, I doubt I would partake in activity that would be extremely risky IN SECRECY. Katie claims she is following the diet and exercise program laid out for her by Spock Barry, so, who knows. I am totally on your side, Katie's mom!

So Katie has her next checkup and everything's perfect! Of course it is. Katie brings up the Transplant Olympics and the doctor gets all P.R.ish about them in front of Katie's mom, who is furious. The fight continues at home, where Katie reveals she will use some of the OLW money for everyone to go. Katie's mom is like, hey, what about all your medical bills, do you know it will cost your dad and I $10k a year to keep you alive? which is, like, the meanest fucking thing a parent can say to their kid WHO ALMOST DIED. She apologizes, but HOLY FUCK. I totally want to call my mom and hug her right now. Katie's mom, we are no longer on good terms.

So Katie's mom realizes the error of her ways and says, yes, Katie can use the money for the Transplant Games. She wants it to be her, her parents, Josh, and Gramps. (Later on she mentions Melody too but apparently Melody couldn't go. I assume it's because she's busy stocking up on Kleenex and albums by Morrissey.) Within this exchange Katie makes a joke about "Siamese twins" like UM the correct term has been conjoined for awhile, Lurlene!

So Katie, her parents, and Josh all go to L.A. While there Katie and Josh hang out a lot OH YOUNG LOVE and Josh mentions Katie's determination to make all of this happen.
"Daddy says it's nothing but Irish bullheadedness and that it's a very unfeminine trait." She tipped her chin upward and grinned. "Maybe he's right."
WTF! Her dad who is proud of having a jock for a daughter is suddenly a sexist jackhole? GREAT. Katie is the only semi-sane and -tolerable one in the whole family.

So there's a FIESTA! which everyone totally treats like some prom, and by everyone I mean Josh and Katie, and the parents, who are all slow-dancey and lovey-dovey. Katie and Josh sneak off so they can talk about Josh's wrecked homelife and youth, because that's what all kids do when they have time to themselves after a dance!
"Both my parents are alcoholics." He took a long, shuddering breath. "Pop beat up on Mom all the time."

Horrified, Katie asked, "You and Aaron too?"

"No--just her. Over the years I lost all respect for her because she wouldn't leave him, not even now, when she can."
Uh, Josh, way to take too lightly what abusive relationships are actually like, how they involve emotional/mental abuse and not just physical, how women may not have the resources to strike out on their own, and if their children are not being abused how they may believe their abusive partner's income makes the kids' lives better than if they took off without enough money. I definitely think the blaming of A BEATEN WOMAN is the grossest thing I've seen in any of these books, except for perhaps all that crotch-tightening talk. No. It's worse. Geez, Lurlene. WHY DO YOU HATE WOMEN?

Of course there's a race, and of course even though there are seasoned adult athletes, Katie wins and catches the eye of some college track dude (you know, as a potential student, not like in a pervy way). Hurrah! When Katie gets home, to thank Josh for giving her a heart-shaped locket (uh, weird) she makes him a scrapbook all about Aaron, which is actually quite a thoughtful gift. When Katie asks if he likes it:
To answer her, he put the book aside, took her in his arms, and kissed her with all the feeling he had stored up and locked away in his heart throughout his lifetime.
WHAAAAT! Please, dudes, don't ever try to kiss me with all of your repressed memories!

So I totally thought the book was basically OVER but this is the Lurleneverse, so Katie gets the flu which is SUPER BAD (not SUPERBAD) because of all the immune suppressants she's on because of the transplant. She is TOTALLY DYING! But then Josh goes outside and sees a plant fighting for life, and just knows that since that plant can make it, so can Katie. He goes inside and tells Katie's parents this. THEN THE BOOK ENDS.


I think Josh pops up in one of those later OLW books so PERHAPS WE WILL FIND OUT. Geez, guys, I apologize for the utter lameness of this book. I only hope my next escapade will bring us more excitement and adventure.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

People Got a Lotta Nerve

Off-topic, perhaps, but from http://www.antilabelblog.com:

Today, we are especially happy to bring you “People Got A Lotta Nerve,” the first single from Neko Case’s forthcoming album Middle Cyclone (out March 3), because for every blog that reposts the song and/or iLike user who adds it to their profile, Neko Case and ANTI- will make a cash donation to Best Friends Animal Society.

The promotion will run from January 13 to February 3, 2009. Five dollars will be donated for every blog post and one dollar for every user of iLike that adds the song to his/her profile.

People Got A Lotta Nerve - Neko Case

I'll be back with a new blog post in the next day or so, everyone!

Friday, January 9, 2009

This Brain Tumor Doubles as Birth Control, or Letting Go of Lisa

Gentle readers, I have returned and I am millions! Thanks for all of the emails and comments and blog posts regarding my absence. It's good to be back, in the Lurleneverse, where I belong.

(I mean, except I don't at all.)

You also might notice the beautiful logo now gracing this blog! Normally my friends earn YA-inspired nicknames when featured on this blog but I will pimp out my multi-talented and adorable friend Val who you should totes hire for all your graphic design needs.

I am kickstarting my triumphant return with a book my darling friend Kristy sent me from her fancy book job, Letting Go of Lisa (2006). I was super intrigued by it because the cover didn't look like our normal angelic flowery look-toward-the-heavens sort of thing, and, hey, I learned that lesson along with everyone else, but let's be honest here: I still totes judge books by their covers!

And what does that cover look like? Well, folks, I'm glad you asked:

Uhh is it just me or does that dude look a lot like John Simm?

Then I thought, ooh, maybe the book is about John Simm getting into a car accident and then waking up in the Lurleneverse! However I was wrong.

I also thought, given the title and the image, perhaps it was literally about LETTING GO OF LISA and therefore FALLING OFF A MOTORCYCLE and facing, I dunno, death, coma, need of organ transplant, discovery of hidden cancer like when that kid got it playing baseball.

Luckily such things as synopses exist so all y'alls can find out what it's actually about:
Nathan Malone has been homeschooled his whole life. He’s never spent much time with kids his own age and he’s never dated. His mother is now busy with his new twin sisters, so Nathan must enroll at the local high school for his senior year. On the first day, a girl on a motorcycle catches his eye and Nathan is excited to discover the girl is also in his English class.

Not only does Lisa ride a motorcycle to school, but she’s a loner who seems to come and go as she pleases. She doesn’t care what anybody thinks of her. Nathan is intrigued—he’s never met anyone like her or had such strong feelings. When he and Lisa finally start spending time together, he’s the happiest he’s ever been.

But Lisa has a tragic secret and, when she decides she’ll handle it herself, Nathan has to make a choice. Can he ever let go of Lisa?
I don't know. CAN HE?

So the book opens with our protag, Nathan Malone. He's starting his Senior year of high school, going back to a public school for the first time since his mom started homeschooling him in the sixth grade. Now before long we get all of this OMG BEFORE THE THING HAPPENED expositiony crap so I thought all of that was gonna be tied into why Nathan's mom started homeschooling him. But, no, this is never actually explained. Nathan's mom is just BETTER THAN YOU so that's why OH EXCEPT FOR WHEN SHE'S AN OVERPROTECTIVE BITCH. To be fair that's the kind of characterization I can almost believe. I'm just saying, Lurlene, bring up something and ALSO bring up a secret family tragedy and you'd better EFFING CONNECT THEM OK.

So anyways, Nathan at least knows one person at school, his friend and neighbor Skeet. SKEET! Do you guys think it's Skeet Ulrich?

This picture is Australian, which may or may not explain how strange it is.

So Nathan's all Stresso McStressington because there are ALL THESE PEOPLE and HALLWAYS and CLASSROOMS and OMFG but the truth is I can relate because when I was in seventh grade I went to this really shitty Catholic school where the entire grade was made up of four girls and nine guys, and then the next year I transferred to public school into an eighth grade of approximately 250 people. I FEEL YOUR PAIN NATHAN.

Nathan is also freaked because while he was snailing his car into the parking lot someone on a motorcycle cut him off and gave him the finger. Oh my heavens!

Our homeschooler is shocked at the identity of the finger-giver:
"A girl?" Most of the girls Nathan knew were homeschooled like him, younger, all giggly and silly, and they didn't ride cycles and flash rude hand gestures.
Apparently this girl is Lisa, who the whole world's obsessed with because she's a loner and drives this black and silver bike with a red heart painted on it, and has long brown hair and creamy skin, and let's be honest here, if I'd gone to school with Lisa I would have been obsessed with her too. She fits the description of all my girl crushes.

Also I gotta admit that bike sounds hella sweet. Also SHUT THE FRONT DOOR did Lurlene come up with a "cool" character who actually sounds vaguely... cool?

Good thing I'm sitting down already.

Nathan says that the bike almost "creamed" him, which makes me kind of uncomfortable.

Anyways, Skeet's all gaga:
"Not a guy in the school who wouldn't give up his car speakers to get a tumble [Is that what the kids are calling it these days??] from Lisa. She's a knockout - transferred in as a Junior last January. Keeps to herself, though. I call her 'a heartache on a Harley'." Skeet pressed his hand over his heart.
I pressed my hand over my mouth as not to spew.

Lisa's the only one who's ever stood up the school's star athlete and most popular jockass. Guess what his name is? Are you guys ready? THIS IS SO GOOD. "Rod 'Roddy' Stewart, no relation to the rocker." OH MY GOD. Now if I wrote this effing book (which, uh, why would I write this effing book?) I wouldn't let a seventeen-year-old refer to Rod Stewart as "the rocker" but "that old guy my mom still crushes on, gross" though, DISCLAIMER, my mom hates Rod Stewart and would be ashamed I said that even hypothetically. My bet is Nathan's mom is all over him though. I mean in her mind.

Sorry, Mom.

Also I always think it's weird when there's a dude in your book named ROD STEWART for no apparent reason. There are like countless names; you don't have to pick one that matches a celebrity's. I assume Lurlene finished up the manuscript and her editor or agent was like "uhhh Lurlene, do you realize you've named a character ROD STEWART" and instead of doing a FIND-->REPLACE she threw in that little disclaimer. Way to get attached to something dumb.

Also way to speculate, Ames!

Skeet proposes that instead of going home after school, they stay to "drool over the cheerleaders". Uh did any of you boys in high school actually talk like that? Be aware if you answer yes we are no longer friends!

So at home after school Nathan's dad is cool but his mom, who had to stop homeschooling Nathan because now there are twin baby girls, is a royal heinous beotch. She's overprotective and talks about Nathan in front of him like he's not even there! Oh my god it's like she's someone's MOM or something. Sorry, Nathan, she's not actually that bad. She's just YOUR MOM. Shut up.

As Nathan's leaving the room he gives a MEANINGFUL LOOK at the refrigerator where a ratty old decaying piece of paper holding a child's drawing hangs. "Molly's last drawing." Wow, do you guys think this is gonna be important???

So do you guys want to know how Nathan and Skeet formed their bond?
Another sore spot in Skeet's life: a cold mother whose job was more important than raising a kid, and a stepfather who was downright mean to Skeet. Skeet's parents used to lock him out on weekends, rain or shine, and Nathan's family would take him in like a stray puppy.
Oh SHUT UP they did NOT. If they actually did, Nathan's family did NOT do the right thing by taking him in. What they SHOULD have done was called family fucking services.

Nathan and Skeet got to be friends, and bonded over their shared lurve of country music. Nathan clarifies it's not the twangy kind, but the new kind, so basically THE KIND THAT TOTALLY SUCKS. Anyways, Nathan plays guitar and Skeet plays... keyboard. KEYBOARD? Do you need a keyboard in a new country band? Hey, you guys, let's form a new country band! We will call ourselves the Lurleneverse and we will rule all.

Nathan proposes he writes a song about Skeet getting stripped and shoved in front of a bunch of cheerleaders by the jocks (god I hate high school) called "I Caught Your Heart While Chasing After Pigskin Blues" and Skeet pronounces that "demented". DEMENTED. The fuck? I do not think that word means what you you think it means.

(Right after that there's also a passage I debated writing about so I guess the pro side won out, but basically Nathan's twin baby sisters are loud, and he says they're "both screamers" and I felt really uncomfortable because I just don't know anyone who uses that term outside of a sexual context but that could just be my perverted nature (as well as the perverted nature of the people I know because let's be real, I do not exist in a vacuum!) but, please, people, don't refer to your baby siblings or your babies or anyone's babies as screamers to me. OK!)

So Nathan thinks he is a super writer! Luckily he has THE BEST WRITING TEACHER EVERRRRRRRR Mr. Fuller. Every week Mr. Fuller reads submissions, identified ONLY BY NUMBER, but only the best of the best. Nathan knows he'll be the first submission read. He's number 705 if you're a betting type of person. To that, Skeet replies, "I can't wait to see the movie" which I had to read like ten times because it doesn't make any effing sense. Does Skeet understand that not all writing is a screenplay? Now I'm POSITIVE it's Skeet Ulrich!

The other excellent thing about Mr. Fuller's class is that Nathan gets to sit behind the lovely Lisa. Skeet's all YOU ARE TOTALLY FALLING FOR HER and Nathan's all NUH UH I AM NOT I JUST TALK ABOUT HER ALL THE TIME WITH YOU FOR NO REASON AT ALL.
Skeet pointed his finger at Nathan in an imitation of firing a gun. "Pow. Dead meat at Lisa's feet."
Nathan tries to get to work on his writing submission that'll make Fuller orgasm, but he can't concentrate because he keeps thinking about Lisa and how he wants to bury his face in her hair. What is with all these hair fetishists in the Lurleneverse?

Nathan and Skeet are basically effing STALKING Lisa. To be fair, isn't that what you DOOOOO with your high school crushes? I used to have a crush on this dude who worked at a grocery store, so I walked there every day and got a candy bar. Then my friend told me he was gonna think I was fat if I kept doing that. So even though my parents owned a restaurant down the street where I could get all the free soda I wanted, I bought a Diet Coke every day. (I chose Diet Coke for two reasons, neither of which being that I drank it (though today it is my number one love in life, sorry, friends, family, and pets): 1) He would never think I was fat if I bought Diet Coke, and 2) Paula Abdul endorsed it.) Also I didn't have the nerve to, like, get his number or something, so my friends and I schemed and the best plan we came up with was for one of them to ask him what his sign was and then tell him that question was from me. It sort of backfired when he didn't know what his own sign was. ALSO BECAUSE THAT IS THE DUMBEST PLAN EVER.

ANYWAYS. Even though often this older dude drops her off on her own motorcycle, they don't think he's her boyfriend because:
"No kisses goodbye. No tonsil exploration. Is that SOP around here?"

"The tongue tangles?" Skeet shrugged.
If anyone ever tries to french you and dubs it "the tongue tangles" get the FUCK OUT OF THERE because this is not someone who knows WTF they are talking about. Also I don't picture kissing, I picture actual... tangling. Gross!

So Nathan and Lisa fiiiiiinally speak, and they sort of flirt but then Lisa retreats. Lisa's got game, I will give her that. You guys, I'm sorry, but even though Nathan and Skeet are goons, Lisa's kind of cool. Also she has blue-violet eyes, a color Nathan has never seen before. Are anyone's eyes actually that color? Does she also sparkle in the sunlight?

Oh, also, this will be important later: Lisa skips class a lot. Ooh Lisa, you rebel!

When Nathan gets home that night from school, his mom is planting a new plant. THIS IS IMPORTANT. IT HAPPENS EVERY SEPTEMBER. Wake me up when September ends! Nathan's thinking crap like GEEZ MOM IT'S BEEN FOURTEEN YEARS SHUTTTT UPPPPPP but at least offers to dig a hole. His mom LIKES digging the hole because it's therapeutic.

Over the weekend Skeet has to come over because there's a bright red handprint on his face from his stepdad hitting him because Skeet smarted off to him. WHY ISN'T SOMEONE CALLING THE AUTHORITIES? Skeet, dude, I'm sorry. If you'd been my next door neighbor I would have been all over that. Then again I call the cops really easily. If you don't want a cop at your door, don't disturb my slumber, world!

In Fuller's class, submissions are read... none of them Nathan's! HA. Is it OK that I liked this? I liked this. At least he's not some kinda Mary Sue. Also he realizes that Lisa's hair smells like... Creamsicles. OMG! Now I'm obsessed with Lisa's hair too. It seems AMAZING. Goddamn I wish MY hair smelled like a delicious frozen treat. It just smells like tea tree oil because I just found out about this amazing shampoo and conditioner from Trader Joe's. CHECK IT OUT PEOPLE YOU WILL THANK ME.

Anyways the poem that's read is supposed to be like uneffingbelievably good, and, whatever. I am not a poetry person. I know that probably makes me some sort of uneducated dipshit, and I feel really bad about that, but I'm just not. So, whatever. I cannot judge. It's some sort of Icarus metaphor/retelling sorta thing. Nathan's all BOO HOO I AM NOT THAT GOOD.

I WONDER WHO IS! Oh magical student number 454.

So we get a random few pages from Lisa's POV. This paragraph is so badly - and redundantly - written I can't help but share it with all of you:
Lisa Lindstrom was unable to pinpoint the exact moment Nathan Malone came on her radar; she just knew that she slowly became aware of him, like a buzz one starts to hear in a quiet room. [OK at first this seems like a good metaphor.] One minute all is silent, [riiiight, like you JUST SAID... QUIET ROOM] then a sound begins to break through a person's subconscious [uhhh yes, also like you just said a BUZZ ONE STARTS TO HEAR] and annoys until the person has to stop what she's doing and go find the source. She tried to ignore him, this noise, but one day he broke through - she looked up and saw the most incredible blue eyes, [The same blue as your eyes? OMG if you get that reference I will internet tonsil tangle you] fringed with thick dark lashes, staring at her. Nathan's eyes.
Lisa, your inner monologue sounds like me when I've had two Manhattans and a Metropolitan, but before they come back up.

Lisa wishes she could hate Nathan. If only he was like the jockasses! "Or avant garde and far out like the goths"!! I am actually hanging out with my goth friend this weekend; I will be sure to notice all of her avant garde and far out behaviour, and be grateful this allows me to fairly hate on her.

Nathan and Skeet go to the Homecoming game, then an afterparty (OK I guess in high school which is not Hollywood it's just called A PARTY) where Skeet asks Nathan if he smells pot, and says if he wants some he'll have to pay. WTF! Have you ever been passed a joint and a collection basket at once? What cheapasses! I was a total straight edge in high school (I mean, not officially, I just feared things like alcohol and drugs and many types of fun) but I could have gotten so much free pot if I'd wanted.

I will say though that people are drinking beer and there's clearly (albeit pay-to-play) weed being smoked, and this isn't shown as like A BAD AND EVIL party. It's just a party. Also Nathan feels all out of place and thinks of himself as a "social retard" which is totally NOT COOL TO SAY but abso realistic. You guys shocked this is in the Lurleneverse? I myself certainly am. I would take a hit to calm myself down but I don't have anything to put in the basket.

Lisa shows up at the party, right as the jockasses pick a fight with Skeet and start calling him "faggot" which is totally upsetting but, again, spot-on. WTF! LURLENE DID YOU TALK TO SOME REAL KIDS OR SOMETHING? Lisa basically rescues them, and Nathan makes Skeet drive his car home while he jumps on the back of Lisa's motorcycle. I really love it that the girl swoops in, saves the day, and then carries our protag out on the back of her totally sweet ride. I'm not even being sarcastic!! Way to - well, you know, not embrace feminism but at least some girl power? This book is not making me so hatey.

So they drive around, get some gas, and then go to Borders or B&N and drink mochas. Uhhh again, totally normal for real teenagers to do.

Nathan finds out the dude who drops off Lisa every day is her mom's boyfriend Charlie. Lisa calls him "the man who lives with Mom and [her]" though. Boyfriend is totally an acceptable term, Lisa. As is partner. I like Charlie though because he's the one who bought the bike for Lisa. Also, believe it or not, this lack of marriage isn't seen as a bad thing. In fact, Nathan feels boring and conventional for having married parents. IS THIS OPPOSITES DAY?

He asks her out, but she says she doesn't date. Still, he is super excited!!! When he gets home "he threw himself across his bed" which is sort of adorable but also the sort of thing I picture a thirteen-year-old doing before kissing a picture of Zac Ephron or something.

The next day Nathan gets in trouble because his clothes and car smell like beer, just because it got spilled on him. He feels free saying he didn't drink, even though that was only because the fight started before he could. Again, OK, sure. This book is making my head ache by not being crazy.

Oh, good, we're back there. Nathan's dad is all WE DON'T HAVE A LOT OF MONEY YOU'RE GONNA HAVE TO TAKE THIS HOPE SCHOLARSHIP which means he'd have to go to a state school. Nathan says this means he has to live at home. This book takes place in Atlanta, Georgia, a state where I'm pretty sure they have more than one state school.

Soon Nathan and Skeet (I can't believe I've now typed "Skeet" so much it looks like a normal name to me) discuss Lisa, not that it's anything new. Nathan says he can tell she has secrets, and he wants to learn them. Skeet is wowed:

"Gee, most guys just want to get in her pants."

Nathan scowled. "That's crude."

"And that thought's never crossed your mind?"

"Knock it off, Skeet. Don't talk about her like she's some kind of sex prize."
Sex prize is a confusing term. Is it like someone whom having sex with would be like a prize? Or is it someone you're awarded for having good sex? TELL ME!

So Nathan gets his paper back in Fuller's class, and it's all marked up and says "pedantic, plodding and a rehash of old ideas" which is ironic given what a pedantic, plodding, and rehashing of the stereotypical tough professor critique that is.
For some reason, Fuller's criticism stung him like the tentacles of a jellyfish.
If that's true, Nathan, I hope you're planning to give all your organs away to strangers you've stalked/slept with!

At home him and Skeet practice their band, if you can call two guys without a singer and a drummer a band, and Lisa pulls her bike into the driveway, then backs up and roars off. Oh, Lisa. By now you don't seem cool, just wimpy. JUST TALK TO THE BOY OK.

Nathan and Skeet start auditioning drummers for their band which is a surprisingly good idea for these dorks. Lisa shows up with a girl she says is a great singer, Jodie:
She was a short girl with a round face, short dark hair and brown eyes. She was heavy, but pretty in her way.

Anyways, Jodie sounds just like Patsy Cline (lucky girl) and loves the other classics too: Loretta (aw yeah) and Reba (the HELL?). Do some research if you're writing about a music genre, writers! So now she's the singer, and "a kid named Larry" (LARRY?) who hates country music and wants to play rock will be their drummer. Well, this sounds like a fine plan.

Nathan takes Lisa around his backyard, and she loves all the plants and the koi pond (one of my worst nightmares!!!!), and notes that it looks like something used to be there. Nathan confirms this: there was a swimming pool where his sister Molly drowned. Ruh roh! FAMILY SECRET! He was three, Molly was six, she was supposed to be taking a nap but instead she went outside to swim and totes drowned. Aw, Molly, I'm sorry! Anyways, Nathan's all WE DON'T TALK ABOUT IT, like, uh, Nathan, you're the one who brought it up.

Time goes by, the band becomes awesome, but Lisa continues to only hang out with Nathan at weekly rehearsals, never at school. He confronts her about this, and:
"Your 'I don't give a damn' routine doesn't hold up with me."

"I'll work on it." She looked shaken, tried to brush past him.

He caught her arm. "Not so fast." And before he could stop himself, he'd pulled her against her chest and kissed her full and hard on the mouth. She fought him at first, but he didn't let go, and as the kiss lengthened, it deepened. His blood sang in his head, tore through his veins like wildfire.
Hey, gentlemen: a little love advice from Ames. If a lady is pulling away from you and you have to force your lips on her, that's not romantic. That's a lot like assault. That can totally BE assault. THIS IS NOT COOL AND NOT SWEET AND IF A GIRL ISN'T READY TO KISS YOU LET HER GET READY.

Ugh I hate that in books like this girls always give into the kiss or they try to punch the kisser in the kisser and break their hand and their jackhole dad laughs at them. Way to send a lesson to the ladies! Think of how much nicer kissing is when it's consensual!

So Fuller finally reads one of Nathan's poems in class. I'm not sure why; maybe he lost a bet:

I stand and watch you from afar
I wish upon you, like a star

You see me not.
You come.
You go.
Still, I love you better than you know.
I guess stalkers need lousy poetry too!

So Skeet is dating the overweight Jodie, so him and Nathan go over to the apartment complex where both Jodie and Lisa live to hang out with the ladies. It's clearly kind of skuzzy, since that's what apartments are like in the Lurleneverse. I'm sorry, but most apartment complexes I've gone to are totes nice. Mine is adorable!
Cars were parked everywhere, and Nathan ended up blocking in a car that Skeet said belonged to Jodie's divorced mother.

WTF why would anyone identify someone this way? Seriously, did one of Francine Pascal's ghostwriters tackle this part of the storyline?

Lisa's actually out with her mom, so Nathan hangs out with Charlie, who talks about Shakespeare and teaches Nathan about cars. Charlie is frigging awesome. Lisa's sort of weirded out to see Nathan there when she gets home but she recovers, and her mom totes loves Nathan.

Nathan convinces Lisa to come and hang out with HIS family, where his mom harrasses Lisa because she doesn't want to go to college. It's rude but at least it's more real than all those people in the Lurleneverse who act like college is this totally weird thing only a few people do these days. Lisa accidentally touches this Christmas ornament that Molly made, and his mom freaks the eff out. She's so good about it though! She just nicely suggests laminating the picture on the fridge and putting one of those collector's baseball protective globes around the ornament. Lisa, way to be!

Then there's this MYSTERIOUS STUFF from Lisa's POV where her mom and Charlie are like "you're gonna have to start going five days a week" and Lisa's all BOO HOO I THOUGHT I HAD MORE TIME TO BE NORMAL so I guess Lisa's gonna die! Or at least get really ill. Or something. Sorry, Lisa, you are perhaps the coolest girl in the whole Lurleneverse, so this royally blows for me too.

Also we totally know it's radiation when Nathan spots tattooed dots on the back of Lisa's neck. He assumes she started a tattoo and changed her mind. Yes, Nathan, tattoos are started with a few dots in a grid. You have to come back every day FOR ELEVEN YEARS for it to be completed. SHUT UP.

Nathan's mom doesn't approve of Lisa, and tells him that the wrong girl now could be disastrous. I don't even know what that means! Does she think he has to list girlfriends on college apps and resumes? Is she talking about getting girls pregnant? I don't even know. Shut up, Nathan's mom.

Nathan can't take it that he doesn't know where Lisa disappears to all the time instead of going to class, so one day he skips and follows her. HOW ROMANTIC. Anyways, he sees that she's going to the hospital, and waits so he can confront her. She's angry, but he says he has the right to follow her because he loves her. OH GROSS. Just the way stalkers and abusers rationalize what they're doing. Ugh ugh NATHAN COME ON.

Lisa says if he comes over that night she'll tell him everything. He does, and she admits she has a brain tumor. She doesn't want anyone to know so she swears Nathan to secrecy. He complies but finds it hard to concentrate on the rest of life. Uh, YEAH. His heart's not even in the band's first gig at the VFW hall, which Skeet declares so dorky they could register it. WHAT DOES THAT MEAN.

After the concert, Lisa makes Nathan take her to a frat party, where she starts drinking, puking, and then ending up in so much pain they have to call for an ambulance. Poor Lisa! Tumors are mean. Nathan stays with Lisa and her fam while she's being checked out at the hospital, and doesn't even pretend he gets home on time. The next day his mom goes nuts screaming at him about this, but he still doesn't reveal Lisa's secret brain tumor. Lemme tell you, I would have let my parents know, but maybe I'm just not good at secrets. Also I never had a curfew so clearly I was working with some different standards to start with.

While hanging out one day, Lisa tells Nathan the reason her mom won't marry Charlie is that if she does, she loses her (and therefore Lisa's) health insurance. WTF. Is this true ANYWHERE? I thought marriage got you more perks not less! I DON'T UNDERSTAND.

Nathan invites Lisa to the Valentine's Day dance so they can double with Skeet and Jodie. Lisa accepts and:
Nathan's heart hammered. He wanted to hold her and kiss her beautiful mouth.
You sure got a pretty mouth!

At the dance we learn the band is no more, between Nathan's waning interest, and Larry the Drummer leaving for a rock band. Well, hire a dude who really wants to be in a rock band, expect that he will eventually leave you for one.

After the dance, Nathan goes back to Lisa's with her and DECIDES TO SPEND THE NIGHT I AM NOT KIDDING. He calls his mom to tell her and she says the greatest thing ever ever EVER:
"That girl is poison!"

The next day Lisa goes to Nathan's with him, and his mom is all OMG YOU ARE TOTALLY GONNA GET PREGNANT!!!!!!!!! and I expected this to be all NOOO WE JUST STAYED UP TALKING but nooooooo instead Lisa says:
"That won't happen, Mrs. Malone. I won't get pregnant because, you see, I won't live long enough to ever have a baby."

I need to lie down for a bit and deal with this.

OK well my love is a bit short-lived because then in the next chapter Charlie has to go and thank Nathan for settling their girl down, which, ugh, isn't she only eighteen? Also I hate this notion that that's what a real relationship is. Again ESPECIALLY AT EIGHTEEN. Whatever. I still like you, Charlie. Will you buy me a bike?

So Lisa tells Charlie she has to go for some tests and will call when she's done. Except she doesn't! And her number is no longer in service! And they go to her apartment and the building manager is cleaning it out because the tenants have left!

Nathan tracks them down, though, and finds out Lisa is someplace in Miami (she's from Florida originally). He goes and finds her in basically a hospice, but one that is set in beautiful scenery so she can be surrounded by that when she dies. However, she is now blind. Also she's bald, but that doesn't seem as bad as the blind thing. She doesn't want him to see her like this but of course is glad he's there. They talk about the night they spent together and both say they have NO REGRETS OMG. This book is awesome at least for that. Also Lisa admits to being student 454, the genius author of the dubiously genius Icarus poem.

Anyways, Lisa OF COURSE dies (not that second or anything). Nathan gets accepted to a school in Kentucky. I hope it's in Louisville, because that is actually a very cool town. Also he plants his own memorial tree for Lisa in the backyard of death plants, with his mother's help. I guess they've stopped hating each other, so everyone can live happily ever after.

You know. Sort of. People did die and all. At least Lisa got some first!

Monday, January 5, 2009

New Year's Resolution

Thanks to ihatewheat over at the Dairi Burger for the shoutout (and thanks to Genevieve for alerting me to it!). I definitely need to get back to blogging here, and so I'm making it one of my resolutions to do so (and unlike going to the gym more and saving more money I think I might achieve this one!). I know excuses are lame, but: grad school, work, major rewrites on novel (combined with enough querying to make your pretty little heads spin, trust me).