Saturday, September 17, 2011

And that's why I'm no longer a natural at math

How did it get so cold so fast? I'm spending my nights shivering under three blankets wondering how we can still technically call this summer for a few more days. Sheesh.

Anyway, today's entry is short in the way of links and long in the way of words. I'm not sure if that will work, but you can let me know later. 'Scuse me while I get myself another sweater and something hot to drink, and then we'll get started.

*Time passes*

Ok! Ready when you are.

-   When I was young and my homeschooling days ended, I went to a public school for the end of grade 8, and almost immediately had to take part in the Gauss-Waterloo math contest. (Amish-style, without a calculator, because I'd never used one before.) Some time later, there was a school gathering in the gym and the results were announced. Three students were named because they were in the top 20 percentile, and I wasn't one of them. Coming from the homeschool background with a heavy emphasis on math, I was stunned. I was embarrassed. Who knows, I might have been close to tears. It was only then that the teachers called my name (mispronouncing it, as usual), and said that I'd got the top mark in the region and placed in the top marks period.

Fast forward a year later, and my high school math teacher told my mom on parent-teacher night that math came naturally to me.

Fast forward a year after that, and it's my fifteenth birthday. I receive a book for my birthday because some random person at the veterinarian's office recommended it to my mom, who was stumped for what to get me. That book was The Eye of the World, by Robert Jordan, and I can actually say that it changed my life.

You see, once I got around to reading this strange new book, I was hooked. It was the first of 7 books published at the time. (That number has since grown, with the 14th and final book due out next year.) I devoured that book, and then I had to read the rest. Instantly. Whenever I could.

That's how I found myself at the back of Miss Scarmozzino's math class in grade 10, reading each successive book while they were concealed in my desk drawer. It was a convenient spot in more ways than one. Besides hiding books, it was the furthest point from my nemesis, who would tease me about anything, most memorably for listening to Everlast's album, Whitey Ford Sings the Blues. (As high school nemeses go, he was an absolute nightmare, until we became best friends and bandmates a couple of years later.)

As I said, I devoured these books. In math class, no less. Not surprisingly, my mark in that class tanked. It never really recovered. Did I mind? Not really. The Eye of the World and its series (The Wheel of Time) affected the way I thought about life, and influence how and what I would read and write ever after.

Robert Jordan passed away four years ago yesterday, leaving his work unfinished, although Brandon Sanderson has done a fantastic job of wrapping it up so far. I didn't find out until a few days later, on my birthday. Now here we are again, with about one year to go until the last book comes out, so let me say this: There is no book that I could ever recommend over The Eye of the World. The genre (fantasy) may not be for you. The size (14 books at or around 1000 pages each) may not be for you. That's fine. I get that. But it's the one book I would instantly recommend above all others.

Although, don't just take my word for it. Leigh Butler makes her own case very eloquently.

What book would you recommend?

-   "'You’re so sensitive. You’re so emotional. You’re defensive. You’re overreacting. Calm down. Relax. Stop freaking out! You’re crazy! I was just joking, don’t you have a sense of humor? You’re so dramatic. Just get over it already!'

"Sound familiar?

"If you’re a woman, it probably does." 

That's the opening from A Message To Women From A Man: You're Not "Crazy." It's an intriguing article that examines the manipulative behaviour known as gaslighting. Who doesn't know someone who's been manipulated? But just because this behaviour is common doesn't make it acceptable. It's sneaky and mean. (And before you think I'm getting to high on a proverbial horse, I can't confess to having a clean record when it comes to this. I'm only trying to stay clean.)

Read it and be aware of the signs of gaslighting so it doesn't happen to you or someone you know.

-   I've never had high tea. Have you? It just came to mind while reading an article my sister wrote for her school. I was supposed to take the photos for her, but plans changed. It's a shame, because the model is a hottie. I hear she's taken, though.

-   Song of the Week: I picked this for the song, but the video is worth mentioning and watching. This is another video with an actor lip-syncing for a musician (Wayne Brady subbing for Lil Wayne), and a ... um... cat... lip-syncing for Andre 3000. It's some weird, low-level CGI. You'll see what I mean. Otherwise, the video concept is pretty straightforward: A retro-soul singer in fancy dress plunders Michael Jackson's bag of tricks for vocal cues and a couple of dance moves while throwing down a jam session with some buddies in a suburban garage. A woman who we can only assume is the object of his disaffection struts around the street in thigh-highs, garters, and a sweatery jacket thing on top that's probably meant to keep her warm. As far as I can tell, the song is a put-down, but she seems to be enjoying the attention. (Haters gonna hate, right?) The neighbourhood is getting into the party mood, people are having a good time, and a Mini Cooper makes a random, pointless cameo. Meanwhile, the number of musicians at the party has grown to the point where even Broken Social Scene would say that's a crowd. By my estimation there are about fifteen more people playing music than there need to be, if the number of instruments I can actually hear in the song is anything to go by. Straight up superfluous, but hey, it looks good on camera.

This is a cleaned up version of the song. The original is here, with a text video reminiscent of another retro-sounding song with dirty lyrics, F*** You, by Cee-Lo Green. But that's where the similarities stop as Cee-Lo's song and his lyric video kill this one. Nonetheless, it's a catchy tune, and the winner of the Song of the Week. Here's Lloyd, with Dedication to My Ex:

By the way, if you have any song recommendations, send them my way, either in the comments, or at frank_pzen at hotmail dot com.


Have a great weekend. I'm going back to sleep.

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