Wednesday, November 24, 2010

You Could Dye Your Socks In It

I know for you "normal" people, this post is a wee bit premature; in our family, though, we're right on schedule!

That's right, Thanksgiving is upon us once again.
I have always kind of enjoyed this holiday, regardless of the fact that it's an entire day set aside for the sole purpose of eating (and, let's be honest, I don't really like to eat, it's just something that has to be done). Today and Christmas are the only two holidays the Buford family really celebrates (and, let's be honest again, that's the side of the family I like), and always make a point to get together for; it's a rather strange feeling having all of the people you genuinely like in one place.

One thing I don't look forward to, though, is "Black Friday", AKA, the day we start decorating for Christmas.

And, of course, the music; but that's a whole different story, saved for another day.
As an aside, here's another take on the holiday decorating season.

Reginald Kitty is not amused.

In the meantime, kick back with some football...

...and have a lovely Thanksgiving! Try not to burn the house down or anything, OK?

Reginald Kitty is skeptical of your cooking abilities.

Monday, November 22, 2010

Why Is This Kid Popular, Again?

There is no secret that I have this unidentifiable "thing" against Justin Bieber.
Is it, perhaps, that he is the current image for that wretched teeny-bopper "music" (and I use that term loosely)? Is it that, everywhere I go, I see young chaps flipping that ridiculous hairstyle our of their eyes? Do I find it incredibly creepy that he's just three years my junior, and my voice is lower than his? Does it tie back to that general lack of fascination with Canadians? Is is simply because I don't know whether it's Beeb-er, or By-ber?
I don't know. I don't care.

Imagine, then, my surprise this evening, when I look across our partners desk to find my mother laughing and shaking her head. Never one to miss the opportunity to laugh, I asked her what was so funny.
"You can tell Justin Bieber is just sixteen," she said.
"Why?" I asked, trying to keep from getting the collywobbles as it occurs to me that he's just three years younger than myself.
"He thanked Michael Jackson in some acceptance speech," she says.
I flipped my laptop lid down, and gave her a vacant, blink-less stare (I'm famous in our family for my vacant, blink-less stare) for a good fifteen or twenty seconds, and continue about my business.
That's when it started to fester.
I know that a good portion of the world doesn't think of Michael Jackson as a music stealing paedophile, and they can objectively admire his work.
I can't.
It got me to thinking of how many other people should have been thanked before Michael Jackson.

It also got me wondering why he won an American Music Award... you know, since he's Canadian.

In the evolution of music, Rock and Roll changed the scene forever. There were, of course, popular mediums prior to rock; classical, jazz, country, big band, crooners, just to name a few of the more referenced styles in the last sixty or so years.
If we look, however, at how "current", "modern" - or whatever label you chose to put on the hip sound - music has changed in that same time period, we have to examine the key players.

Elvis. Where do we begin, but merely to say Elvis?

Chuck Berry, anyone?

What about my first musical love, Buddy Holly?

I always wondered why my sister played more Ricky Nelson than Buddy, but, it's all down to personal preference.

How about some guys that were big at the same time as Michael Jackson?
Billy Joel, peradventure?

You will sing this for days, and, perhaps, dance when no one is watching you. It's OK, it's just a side effect of awesomeness.

Along that same line, perhaps my second musical love, Elton John?

Not quite convinced?
What about my greatest musical love, The Beatles?

Dig that base line, eh?

And that's just for starters. That's just the evolution of music.
What about pop? Who has he to thank from the FM dial, hmmm? Let's look at, say, the last twenty years.
Maybe the New Kids On The Block?

What about N*SYNC?

And the countless others that paved the way for his naive little arse.

Now, for "blog research", I had to actually go and listen to some of Justin Bieber's material...

I found this to be a very unpleasant experience.
1) I am, apparently, eighty years old, and must understand every word that is being sung.
2) All of the problems I stated at the beginning of this post.
3) I just don't like it. I can't force it, I can't do it naturally, it ain't happenin'.

All in all, I think I'm scarred for life, now.
Though, it brings to mind something I read on My Life Is Average:

Today I realized that growing up in the 90s, there were probably teenagers who had the same opinion of the backstreet boys and n*sync that we do of Justin Bieber. MLIA.

See? I am not alone.

Reginald Kitty is not alone, either.

Thursday, November 18, 2010

Leaf Thanksgiving Out Of This!

Last week, I went out and took pictures of the pretty autumn leaves still on our trees.
It was a lovely sight, and a beautiful November evening; minimal wind, heavenly almost-dusk light, the smell of a fireplace floating through the neighborhood, and a crisp feeling to the chilly air.
Here are a few of my favorite shots from that evening...

And then, we got a little bit of something called snow...


So, looking to have a little fun with my life (hey, one day, we'll all be dead),
I decided to head out again yesterday afternoon.
The light was just beautiful, in that there wasn't much at all; gorgeous gray skies, practically bare trees,
and that chill from just a week ago turned into ruddy COLD for little hands that weren't in gloves...

What a difference seven days makes!
Hell, here's a scare for ya: this time next week, you'll be cooking the Thanksgiving turkey.
Believe it.
Reginald Kitty does not want to believe it, for he has not done his holiday shopping.

Tuesday, November 16, 2010

Look! A Distraction!

Be warned, dear readers: this post will be long, drawn out, boring, and, on occasion, only slightly interesting. If you're just a really dedicated reader (pfffttt... do they exist for this blog?), and you feel the need to read EVERY SINGLE RUDDY WORD I put on here (this is just entertaining me now), then go on ahead. If, however, you prefer your sanity, RUN! GO! QUICKLY! GET OUT WHILE YOU CAN!
But before you do, here's a video that isn't related to anything regarding this post...

These guys were on Sullivan with The Beatles. Believe it.

It is advised that only the brave continue from this point.
If he could, Reginald Kitty would leave. Don't ask him, or he'll advise it.

Hi, Brave People!

Yes, yes, enough malarkey. I have wasted enough of your precious time, blah, blah.
(Please, forgive me. I've been properly caffeinated, and I'm in a rather silly mood.)
We're going to talk about music today. Yes, it isn't much of a surprise, considering we do that quite often here, but I think it's only fair to give you warning when it's going to happen. That way, if you've chickened out, you can take the "special" exit, like when little kids go through a haunted house and immediately make a big fuss (it's really just the staff exit, but the kid will forever be scarred by the man with the chainsaw that jumped out of that dark corner).
Maybe you remember I mentioned a few months back that, if you dig deep enough, you'll find decent modern music out there (I suggest you refresh your memory on that particular post, 'cause it may help you understand a little bit of what we're talking about). Personally, I've really got to dig, but I'm picky about what I put in my brainbucket (it doesn't show, does it?). When I do eventually find something that fits into the "fab, gear, really swingin'" category (ask my mother, I say that phrase often), I get a little excited. The prospect that there's something out there that's being produced now, that hasn't been wrapped up, shut down, or finite, is something I don't experience often.
That, coupled with my love of the iTunes equalizer presets really is the basis of the discussion today.
To be honest, I find that, in writing this post, I am overcome with the feeling that I've finally lost my rabbity babbity noodlehatch. There are bats in my belfry, and the men in their pretty white coats will be coming right away.

We've dawdled enough, let's get down to business.

It literally took me a month to figure out what presets worked best for the individual songs on this album. It simultaneously drove me bonkers, and kept me happily entertained for that long. Pages and pages of notes with hastily made monkey scribbles in margins about what may or may not sound better, hours of checking, and many flip-flop, Kerry-esque decisions were involved.
As you can see, it was somewhat of a similar process as the Beatles Remasters; make notes, possibly with an image key (yeah, I did, sue me), and try to draw conclusions as best my wittle ears can.
In looking at my cleaned up, "let's make sure this is what we want" notes, I see that I only used two presets: bass reducer, and spoken word. It certainly wasn't for lack of trying the others, though. I think a few of them were on vocal booster and flat for a trial period, but it just didn't work out. By the time I got to the "let's make sure this is what we want" notes, I was ready to drop kick a sound mixer, though. It's his job to make sure a vocal can be heard, not mine; just short of getting one of those programs that breaks a song down track by track (do they even make those for home computers? You know, that would remix songs from CD, rather than master tapes?), I think this is the best I'm going to get. But if anyone ever meets this Mr. Jeremy Weatby, give him a decent smack upside the head from me.
Getting revenge on sound mixers aside, this album was incredibly fun to play with, and to keep listening to.
Of course, the more you listen, the more you start to wonder... considering their early material, is this their natural progression, or are they just impressionable kids? Let's delve into that for a few minutes.
Their spiffy little single? The one that drew minimal attention in the US because Emma Watson starred in the video?

That song, which did fairly well, considering there was little air play (shameless self-promotion via the Internet earned them a first week place in the charts), though my introduction to this gear little band, was not what grabbed my attention.
I sat and watched the video, and, as I have a tendency to do when watching a music video, the actual music was secondary (I don't know why, but I'll either watch the video, or listen to the music, usually never both at the same time). Since it starts off with a little too much keyboard for my liking, I paid more attention to the people in the video, first off. When I saw their little mod helmet hair cuts, their black drainpipe trousers, and, least we forget, those Beatle-esque boots (I add the "-esque" purely because not all of their footwear had the flamenco heel, and I'm very picky about that sort of thing)... I made the post-it note in my head to look them up. This newer material was a little too modern for me, but the blokes performing it were presented more like 21st century mods than those electric-pop standards fit. One might say I judged the book by it's cover. Sue me.
I was incredibly surprised when this was the first song I turned up in my own YouTube search...

As you can hear, it's a tad bit different in it's make-up, compared to their latest single (in this older track, I notice a bit more vocal layering, and less keyboard, for a start; then again, I also played with the presets for that album, but that's another post entirely).
Further proof that, while the potential is there, at the core of it all, they're still impressionable kids. They're enjoying recording in amazing studios in Brussels, playing festivals, and doing mini headlining tours. In the process, they want the material to get better, and will take advice from the "older and wiser" set (I'm laying the blame on their producer, but that's just me). They, apparently, are not aware of the Padgham effect. As explained by a fellow McCartney fan:
"Press to Play suffered from what I call the 'Hugh Padgham' effect. I noted this at the time and still believe it to be true.
Recruiting this supposedly hip 'modern' producer had disastrous commercial effects for a number of artists in the mid eighties....
Paul Young - riding on the back of massive success with his previous album - ditches his old producer, Laurie Latham, and had has a big flop with Between Two Fires - producer Hugh Padgham!
Paul McCartney riding high on success of George Martin collaborations (yes Broadstreet was a success in the UK at least) ditches Mr Martin and had a big flop with Press To Play - producer Hugh Padgham!
Even Sting whose first two solo albums had different producers went back to his old producer from The Police days and had a flop album - The Soul Cages - producer Hugh Padgham!
The moral of the story is don't recruit this man when you think you need to do something 'different' with the production of your new album!!

I shall also mention that, twenty-some years later, Padgham's material is so incredibly dated that it fits the stereotype for the decade perfectly.
(For a grab bag of love and hate for Mr. Padgham, have a look at some of these Paul forums.)
How this Padgham effect works in regards to One Night Only is incredibly simple.
Their debut album, Started A Fire (seemingly a tick in the positive column, produced by U2 favorite, Steve Lillywhite), placed at number ten in the British charts, earning them a gold record, and a number one single (I was also disturbingly entertained by the fact that this particular album was recorded in the St. John's Wood area of London... such proximity to Abbey Road!).
This eponymous effort, with a different producer (big on that fantastically cheezy 80's sound), if I recall correctly, limped them into the UK Top 40 at number thirty-six, and their single debuted at number twenty-three.
As I listened to this latest release, I wondered to myself why on God's green earth you would purposefully try to replicate that awful 80's sound (never been an 80's fan, which was problematic when my sister lived at home, as she has always kept some sort of 80's mix tape around)?
About half-way through my first listen, I realized they were replicating - dare I say it - the music my generation grew up hearing on pop radio. Just a few years my senior, these guys also remember when that tinny, electric-drummy, cheezy lyrics and vocals style was getting ample airplay (mixed in with an occasional Oasis or Nirvana track, but that's a different story). Once I figured that out, I realized it shouldn't have been such a surprise to me. It also creeped me out a bit, but we won't get into that right now. Ill-spent childhoods aside, if you dig into the material deep enough, you can find the writers in there, buried under the trend. I'm still not sold that this was their natural progression, rather, their influence at this time.
I realize, of course, that the resurgence in interest regarding this sound is considered fresh and hip at the moment, but it, too, will end up dating itself.
Somehow, though, that's the beauty of emerging artists, or, the danger that these boys are in, the dreaded "One-Hit Wonder" zone; they put so much of themselves into the album that never goes anywhere. It's like each track is a melancholy love song to the success they so desperately chase. It's not that the material isn't worthy of the fanfare, it's just that it's not properly marketed. Guaranteed, if Brian Epstein would have gotten hold of these kids, they'd already be in record shops here (of course, Brian could sell you just about anything... the man was a marketing genius). They've got the potential, and they've got the foresight to use the Internet as their greatest self-marketing tool; in this day and age, if they've got the will to communicate with their fan base directly, rather than indirectly, they've got an edge, a +1 card to their contemporaries.
I particularly enjoyed their latest installment...

Couple drivel like this with a lot of promotion, and you've got yourself a proper band.

I hear tell that they're going to try and break the States in 2011, so that will certainly be interesting to follow. As quoted from an interview with their frontman last month: "America is the focus next year. Records labels are interested...and the girls love a British accent." (See, Seester? Even they know their assets are marketable! Isn't it terrible to realize your little sister was right? But I wuff you!)
There is also an acoustic EP of some of this newer material in the pipeline, and that will certainly help boost sales. Folks do love their acoustic (and, let's be honest, I'm one of them... it isn't my fault, my sister played a lot of Simon and Garfunkel when I was small). I know I love to see the difference in the bare, stripped down versions (since, in essence, it's how most songs start out), compared to the electrified finished products. Sometimes, the acoustic is just incredible, and you wonder why it was pumped up at all (George Harrison, I'm lookin' at you), but most of the time, you'll go back to the final product.
Would you like an illustrated example?
Well, pretend.

The album version of their next single, "Chemistry" (they shot a video for it a couple of months ago, but it hasn't seen the light of day yet; I suspect they're saving their singles for their supposed album re-launch in February)...

If you're curious, my copy is set at spoken word. It brought the vocals forward, and toned down the brash cymbals; the con, of course, is that you lose a little bit of the richness of the original mix, but I'll risk it to hear the vocal right up at the front. comparison with this stripped down, bare bones, acoustic guitar and vocals only version...

Try not to fall in love with it too much, though; I have a feeling that, if this were to appear on their EP (and, let's be honest, it probably will), it would end up more like this...

If this is a good indication of North Yorkshire (I'm more familiar with West Yorkshire), it's a lot like Virginia... all the more reason to get there, so far as I'm concerned!

And each of those versions has a little something different to offer. Is it the power of music, or the material? Who knows.

So, even though it's not the sound that originally grabbed my attention, it's still a lot of fun.
By the way, if you're into free music (and who isn't?!), when you sign up for their newsletter (which you can always mark as spam, if you aren't into newsletters clogging up your email), you can download a track from the album. I had a lot of fun with it before the record was released, so if you'd like a sample, head on over to their website and have a ball (I set my copy to spoken word, if you want to see what direction I took it)!
While you're at it, if you're interested, a decent chunk of video was recorded as they made this album; check it out at their YouTube channel. You'll find goodies like this (alas, this particular one was an iTunes UK exclusive... hell, I had to import the album as it was, and here they got extras!)...

I may or may not have stopped the video at the 2:16 time stamp when I first saw it, just so I could drool over the acoustic/electric John Lennon Signature Epiphone guitar he was using. Somewhere, the fact that I don't play guitar, but recognize the beauty of that instrument, will make me cool.

All this talk of modern music aside, at the end of the night, I always go back to that old time rock 'n' roll...

It's like I told my sister the other day: every girl needs a distraction.
Reginald Kitty thinks you should have left when you had the chance. Naughty Reginald Kitty!

Thursday, November 4, 2010

Wax MY Apple, You Butthead!

Yesterday, my mother burst into my room and said 'what I'm about to tell you is going to change your life'. Well, the last time she said that to me, the Twin Towers were about to collapse. Fortunately, it was much, much, much less horrific than that, but it was certainly life changing material.
Apparently, our little community college is teaming up with our local university to study abroad. These kinds of things happen all the time, but this trip was to study Shakespeare in London. Shakespeare? In London? Preposterous! These sorts of things only happen in chick flicks and dime store novellas. It was billed to me as a three week course, filled with all sorts of drivel about plays in the Globe Theater, and general British awesomeness.
I was immediately on the horn, contacting the professor in charge of the trip, and rearranging schedules to be able to go on this little jolly. I was already planning on whether I should get some fancy arch supports for my new pixie boots (because, apparently, the British hate when tourists from America wear tennis shoes; that, and it makes you a target for muggings, and other acts of violent crimes), and wondering how my dog would react when I left home and didn't come back for a while. I was planning on filling the free days with train rides to Liverpool and Holmfirth, and wondering if my niece would rather have a cheesy souvenir with the Queen on it, or something more serious, like a pair of their fantastic socks. I was plotting how to spend the free evenings; find the next indie Britpop band in some grungy little pub, or take a detour to the Hen and Chick, where the up and coming comedy acts perform.
I started to wonder what time of day Graham Norton taped, and how difficult getting tickets for that might be.
I was actually excited about getting a plowman's lunch and a black velvet at some little pub somewhere... maybe in Camden, if I were brave enough to venture out there.
Maybe I could even break away for an hour and find Cavendish Avenue. You never know who you'll find strolling the street down there.

Not just the free days and extra-curricular fun, but to study Shakespeare in London, for the love of all that's good and cheesy! That's something you tell your children in twenty years, and they think you're cool, and did something with your youth besides read My Life Is Average and drink tea out of various UK-related mugs and cups.

Perhaps, the more you read, the more you notice I'm using the past tense.

I got a reply to my inquiry very quickly, with a Google document attached; itinerary and pricing. Come to find that, yes, it was a three week course, but only ten days would be spent in London/Stratford-Upon-Avon, with a single free day. The other nine days would be spent watching plays. (And, may I say, how is going to see a play "studying" Shakespeare? I think that would classify as "experiencing" Shakespeare. It would be a helluva lot cheaper to go to Shakespeare in the Park, and it's the same effect.) The further into the roster I got, and looked at exactly how much they were charging for tuition, the more I began to realize that you just weren't getting enough for the money to make coming up with said money worth while.
I know that, if I said 'hey, let's do this thing!', my family would do whatever it took to get me there; but, for what the group isn't going to do while they're there, I don't think it's something I would consider participating in.
The professor would most likely not appreciate if he took a headcount, and found I was missing. If pressed, one of the other participants would have to confess that they heard me break out of the hotel screaming "I'VE GOT THE MAGIC PLASTIC! YORKSHIRE, HERE I COME!", and they didn't see me again for a couple of days.

The Sceptred Isle set in the Silver Sea will just have to wait a few more years.
And, somehow, I'm quite OK with that.

I must admit, though, as I read that Stratford-Upon-Avon would be included on the trip, I wondered if I could break away from the group long enough to find Vada Studios; you know, maybe take a stroll past it, just for funsies.
Here's a little ditty recorded there...

You'll notice that the necks of their guitars are always in view; you can see the body and the fretboard, therefore, you can see the chord changes. It's almost like someone listened to me!

So, why did I do a post about this if I wasn't going to do it?
It was still an exciting prospect!
Reginald Kitty is not amused.

Oh, and by the way, this was my tea mug today...
Three bags of Barry's Gold Blend in an eight cup pot. In a mug this size, three Splendas, and just enough milk to keep from seeing the bottom of the cup. It'll peel the enamel right off your teeth, but it's ever-so-loverly.

...and my favorite My Life Is Average story of the day:

Today I saw a story on a website about a English class that had to punctuate this sentance, "A woman without her man would be nothing." The boys punctuated it like this, "A woman, without her man, would be nothing." The girls punctuated it like this, "A woman: without her, man would be nothing." The power of punctuation. MLIA

I find it entertaining that they understand the power of punctuation, yet misspelled 'sentence'. They also forgot that 'an', not 'a', comes before any word beginning with a vowel.
Actually, looking carefully at how they punctuated their story, after the misspelled 'sentence', it would have been more punctually correct to put a colon between 'sentence' and the sentence to be punctuated; this holds true for the gender comparisons, as well. (Forgive me, I was in advanced English in high school.)

Personally, I think this makes me cool enough for now.
Reginald Kitty is still not amused.

Monday, November 1, 2010

Air From The 90's!

I am an October baby (yes, we're going to talk about this today, the first day of November, 'cause I'm sneaky about birthdays); with such a late birthday, fanfare during the first three-quarters of the year is nonexistent. Don't get me wrong, I ruddy hate fanfare, however, I have learnt that, from about the first week in September through Christmas, vague whispers and poorly disguised conversations about gifts ensues. I suppose my niece, who's birthday is in mid-November, will encounter similar situations growing up, too.
I have always loved having an October birthday. A sort of kinship between the autumn and I has always been relevant, and I suppose that has something to do with the fact that I was born right in the thick of it.
All this being said, the older I get, the more I reflect on what's been going on in this all too short life of mine. How far I've gotten, and how far I have yet to go are a couple of the biggies; nineteen years riddled with youth and stupidity are enough to keep anybody wondering what the hell has been going on.
As I was contemplating all of this, I thought to myself 'this feels like some great blog material' ('cause I actually do think of things in blog-worthy categories; you ought to see what I mentally edit out of this blog... you know, the stuff my minimal number of readers never actually see [and by minimal, I mean my mother and sister... HI, GUYS!])
At first, I was a little iffy on the whole project; if ever I'm questioning possible blog material, I'll usually write the post out in Wordpad and mull it over for a couple of days before deciding whether or not to make it public. (Personal blog rule number one: if it goes on the blog, it stays on the blog. No revoking allowed!) So, I did, in fact, write the bulk of this post (excluding this drivel you're currently reading) the night before said birthday. Then, I started the mulling process.
'It's too personal; you'd be a damn fool to put something like this on your blog... on your irreverent, sloppy, dunderheaded, malarkey-filled blog. Scrap it.'
And then, I had an epiphany.
None of the eyes that are going to read this (all three pair of them) will have any bloody idea what I'm talking about. After reading it over, I noticed that it was written in a way that no one but myself and my two best friends would or could ever decode.
That was when I decided that this was just fine; hell, it won't make sense to most of you folk, so I could actually be posting just about anything in there.
So, without further ado, here's a letter to myself.

Dear Me,
It's the day before your nineteenth birthday. Yes, I know, this is a ridiculous exercise; but since when did the level of rationale dictate whether you did something or not?
If we're thinking logically for a moment here, the blog post you're writing in your mind would actually be better suited for this time next year. We both know that isn't going to happen, because when you get an idea in your head, patience wears thin, like paper socks in pleather shoes.
Take a look back at the last six birthdays, Sonny Jim; everyone made such a huge fuss about that thirteenth birthday! You were none too pleased, either. If you recall, there was something that day (though the catalyst escapes me at this moment) that just plain made you angry. That Big Girl portion of your brain that still dominates your actions rationalized that it was, in fact, stupid of you; to overcome that anger, because people loved you, and wanted to make you happy, and to forget whatever it was that switched your big girl panties for your sad britches. Did it stop you? No. But both parts of you knew that the Big Girl was right.
That fourteenth birthday saw the beginnings of something great, and you felt it on the horizon. Something was about to happen, something exciting and wonderful. At the time, you didn't know just how soon it would happen, but you were almost there; it was coming, and you were trying to prepare for it.
That same time the next year, much had changed, just as we expected. Yes, fifteen was to be a heady year. That fifteenth birthday was quite the transitional period; almost what you expected should have happened two years before. You were so lost in the neon and combustion that the Big Girl had to take a back seat while you were a damn fool. Luckily, you were not alone, and didn't injure yourself too badly in the end. Oh, but by that fifteenth birthday, your reasoning had been so totally screwed up, as Older You looks back on it, She wonders what the bloody hell was going ON in that brain of yours.
Birthday sixteen was like the come-down off your first acid trip. You weren't ready for anything that happened that year. That's when you started to shift viewpoints; it was not a pretty sight, though nothing compared to birthday number seventeen... you remember, the year that kicked your ass. Oh, joy of joys, the pit just got deeper! Sure, the all-night writing binges seemed cathartic at the time, but what was going ON with that brain, I still don't know (three clues, sugar? PEB, WAB, PGD? Oh, and why did you pick the 'A'? Did you really think that was wise?). Where was it, and why did you refuse to let the Big Girl take the wheel?
Last year, eighteen, was the birthday of fallacy. Sure, it was the best actual celebration of your birth; your favorite, if we're telling the truth. It was a glorious day; your mind frame going into that year, though, was off, like sour milk. That stumble a few years back was still tripping you, and you knew it. But you were
this close to fixing it, once and for all.
And now, here you are, about to begin the nineteenth year of your life. So young and stupid, it's almost cute.
The attitude is finally right this year. All of the ingredients are there this time; something just finally feels proper about it. Almost what you would expect on the night before your eighteenth birthday, but you're going at your own pace, and that's a better fit for you right now.
Just a couple of things to remember; don't rush, take your time, and just enjoy living. Don't let
anything get you down, because you don't deserve it. Just continue to be your psychotic little self, and it will be more than enough for the present and future. Don't forget who your friends are; the people that have been there these last six years are the ones you know you can count on, thick and thin... what lacks in quantity excels in quality, and that's what they are.
Also, it's OK to feel safe in your warm little pouch of routine, and it's more than fine to wrap yourself in that cacophony of sounds and patchwork of color to which you have become so comfortably accustomed. It goes back to that don't rush thing. Life is what happens to you while you're busy making other plans, remember? (That one pulled you out of a tight spot once, so don't you dare forget it.)
Now that we've got all that out of the way, let's just say what we're both really thinking right now...
what the hell just happened here?
The rear view says that those supposedly "formative" years are almost behind you, and the "twenty-somethings" off-ramp, taking you to even worse stumbles and oddities, is coming up in about a mile.
Well, maybe they're right about something; those formative years certainly did form something inside that little thinkhatch. You've got one more left, kid, so use it wisely. This time next year, you may be a totally different person (though we both know you're too stubborn to actually change much, since, you know, you haven't since you were about seven), or you may be just as bumbling and clueless. Regardless, you've already noticed that the pace has picked up (that urgency for unnecessary change? That's it.), and time is slipping away faster than it used to; you can see the societal power changes happening right before your eyes, too. The world is soon to fall into your lap, and you need to prepare to pet that furry wall.
Go for the gold, girly; we both know you can do it. After all, you made an A in algebra, you can do anything.
Here's to one helluva send off to the teenage years.
Sincerely Signed,

See? You probably didn't have any idea what I was talking about. And I like that.
By the way, were you wondering about the furry wall?

If you haven't seen Get Him To The Greek yet, what the hell are you waiting for?

Oh, but this little trip down memory lane isn't over yet!
Reginald Kitty is not amused.

Ten thousand years ago, when the world was flat, and we paid for Internet access by the minute (dial-up, no less, you spoiled New Millennium tit monkeys!) my father's mother decided to write my sister and I letters for our future birthdays; this plan was not properly executed, and, therefore, I received my letters for birthdays twelve and thirteen tonight. I got a HUGE kick out of a portion of my thirteenth birthday letter, dated from 1994 (my third birthday):

One day, you came in my office, and I asked you 'what have you been doing today?', and you said, 'well, I went to the dentist and I bit him. My Mother was so proud of me!' You really did bite him hard; he had to pry your jaws open with a tool. Your Daddy said if you would be a nice girl the next time you went to the dentist, he would get you a dog.

I remember that incident very well. I put holes in his green latex gloves, and I was glad I had done it. That dentist hated me after that; I hear tell that I was the first kid that had bitten him. To this day, I still proudly hold two fingers aloft as I pass his office... there's a sick satisfaction to the immature act of blowing a mental raspberry at a man that tortured you as a toddler.

While we're feeling nostalgic, we'll have a 90's moment, brought to you by the memories of those creeptastic Furbys... or would that be Furbies? (I had a Furby, it was possessed.)

I seem to think my sister was not fond of all the airplay this song got; at some point, this would come on the radio, and she'd switch stations. It was too bad, I thought, since it was one of the few pop songs I liked at the time.

Is It A Subscription Box, Or Something More Sinister? (It's A Subscription Box. Maybe.)