Today’s Jam: I <3 King Tuff


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Learning How To Revise

Road Trip Wednesday is a ‘Blog Carnival,’ where YA Highway‘s contributors post a weekly writing- or reading-related question to write about on our own blogs. You can hop from destination to destination and get everybody’s unique take on the topic.

This week’s topic: For many, December is a post-NaNoWriMo revision haze! How do you approach editing/revising? Any tips or tricks or resources you can share?

When I was younger — I’m talking, like, 13 — I used to be a nightmare when it came to revising. I would finish a paper for school, call my mother up to the computer room and say, “Here, can you read this over for me?” Cue my mother’s frustrated tears. Why? Well, I, my friends, used to be a wham-bam-thank-you-m’am writer: IE, bang out a story/essay/poem without really finessing or putting in much effort, and immediately seek approval. Yes, that did sound dirty.
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New Tunes: FIDLAR, “Gimme Something”

When I like a band, sometimes I like said band to an embarrassing degree. FIDLAR (Fuck it dog, life’s a risk) is one of those bands. No lie, I saw them play twice last week — and both times they put on solid shows (even though the audience at Irving Plaza watched the proceedings with zombielike malaise). Luckily for me, I didn’t have to wait that long to get my FIDLAR fix — they’ve released a brand new track today titled “Gimme Something” and it’s definitely a listen-to-on-repeater. Now if only they would release “At The Cha Cha” anywhere besides Tumblr. Then my rabid fandom would be complete.
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Dystopian YA Books Could Use More Drones

Possible title: DRONE DADDY
Comp titles: FEED meets AND YOU THOUGHT YOUR PARENTS WERE WEIRD

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A Christmas Jam That Won’t Drive You Insane

When I was a child, I used to spend several hours alone in my room singing Christmas carols to myself. Because I was extremely popular and cool. My sister and I even formed a singing group called “The Sedar Sisters,” in which we sung a mashup of “Silent Night” and “Little Town of Bethlehem.” Because we had a strong grasp on religion.

Despite this many-storied past, I really kind of loathe Christmas music. Most of it sounds like a funeral dirge and many jams are replete with children’s choirs. Which are hella creepy. Still, every year I wait with breath that is bated for The Killers’ new X-Mas classic — which is creepy by design, rather than by accident.

Enjoy the impending tides of mass consumerism and manufactured joy!

Top 10 Most-Listened-To Albums Of The Year

I don’t believe in top 10 lists, because I don’t like what you like — and visa versa. So, here’s all the albums I had a good time listening to this year on repeat.
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Time Lapse

Hey all you invisible readers out there!

I have seriously let this blog lapse. I’m working on a new project at the moment and will therefore be updating this site soon. Hold your proverbial horses.

I’m On MTV Today: Choosin’ The Most Innovative Music Video

Check it — up there at 4pm EST I’m be on MTV.com helping choose the OMA for Most Innovative Music Video.

Panelists include me, Jermaine Dupri, legendary music video director Wayne Isham, and music journalist Caryn Ganz. It’ll be hosted by James Montgomery with appearances by Robyn, Tim Nordwind of OK Go, Andy Grammer, Perry Farrell, My Chemical Romance, Ke$ha and more.

And to think — 20 years ago I was watching the collected music videos of David Bowie, playing a broken guitar in my attic before school. #Changes, yo.

Flashback Friday: “Novel” Excerpt, Age 16

Gird your loins for another thrilling installment of First a Dream, my unfinished (but unintentionally hilarious) “novel” from 10 years ago.

Welcome to Mica’s World

“Homecoming Dance. October 31st,” read the poster in the hallway.

“Are you going to the dance Mica?” asked an overly sweet voice behind her.

“Yep,” Mica replied, turning to face the leering grin of the tall blond.

“You gotta date?” Liz asked, fixing a hair clip and looking distant, she was good at that.

“Nope.” Mica replied, looking past her to Physics, her first class.

“Why not?” Liz persisted, her words making Mica look to the girl’s make-up enclosed face. Liz was not pretty. If you took three seconds to look at her closely you’d see that. Under the layers of makeup and blond dye #34 dwelled a pimply plain brunette, her egotism making everyone believe her beautiful. Mica took a deep breath, she was sick of this question. All her friends had asked it.

“There’s no one I want to go with, besides no one asked me.” she spoke the last line in a half whisper.

“Too bad,” Liz cracked her gum and turned towards study hall, which she had two of.

It was Christmas time. Gaily colored lights were hung about in sheer glee and the aging Victorian Inn clung like a desperate mountain climber to the sheer peak, the sea crashing in great arching waves below. Mica hurried up to the front desk and rang the rusty bell.

”Welcome to the Inn,” stated an elderly man, hunched to the point on catatonicness though supported by a spiraling cane behind a pile of sprawling papers. Mica smiled and surveyed her surroundings. With lacy woodwork and frothy curtains, the Inn was all Mica had ever wanted in a Christmas house, which is what she called dwellings that evoking festive feelings.

“By the way, the Inn is haunted,” the elderly man behind the counter croaked, a glimmer in his eye that Mica had not noticed in her joy at the Inn’s beauty. Mica halted her inspection of room in fear mingled surprise.

“Haunted?” she whispered glancing sidelong as if not looking directly at it would put the ghost in view. The old man nodded.

“By what?” Mica asked apprehensively, fear shaking her voice, whittling it to a thin edge, her eyes opening wide. The innkeeper shrugged and ambled away, disappearing behind his papers. It was then that Mica heard the whisperings, barely audible, like a half-remembered dream. They were evil, they were hung with the perfume of it, sharp, bitter, bone-chilling, like black roses. Her hands turned icy and her heart froze, clenched in the fist of a great ice giant, encased in a glacier, chilled to every fiber.

“What is it?” she whispered.

Light peeked through the thin skin of Mica eyelids as waning moonlight quivered into her shady room. Mica grabbed for her dream map. She had to remember the Inn.

Never had her dreams been so vivid as the ones that had visited her those past two nights. Never had she seen the dream world so clearly. Except for the sixth year of her life. She would open her eyes widely, while still in slumber, and scream, her mother had informed her. These were called night terrors. The terror of these visions was immense. So immense that she wept every morning until finally, one gray foggy day, they ceased and nightmares had never visited again, until now.

But what was it that separated the dreams of her sixth year and these past few dreams from the ones that had lilted though her mind for the last 10 years?

Suddenly, as if dawn had erupted on her weary mind she realized the difference between the horrificly vivid dreams of her present days to the ones in the gentle past. She had opened her eyes.

“You have one week in counting before Homecoming and you don’t have a date. Let me set you up.”

Ashley was in her “It it my duty in this world to give my best friend a social life” mode and there was nothing Mica could do about it. Ashley had recently asked frosted hair boy — whose name she had discovered to be Scott — to come to the dance with her and he had accepted. Therefore, Mica’s best friend had decided it was only right that Mica go with a male also, any male.

“I don’t want to be set up.”

“God Mic, I know you won’t dance with anyone unless they have marriage potential, but still…”

“You’re right, I won’t,” Mica stated firmly. Ashley knew her ideals by now and was used to her friend’s romantic nature.

“Look, I know you believe in true love and all that, but come on, it’s just dancing does he really need to be Prince Charming?” The red-head reasoned.

“Yes, he does. Besides, no one’s gonna want to go with me anyway. I look like I’m twelve.” Mica pushed a few books into her backpack as she spoke, glancing at the passing landscapes as the bus rattled on. She was a short girl while most girls her age towered above her, looking somewhere in the age range of twenty rather than 16.

“Maybe if you wore some make-up once in a while you’d look a little older!”, Ashley tossed her hair, annoyed.

“I tried make-up once. I looked like a little kid who’d gotten into her mother’s stuff. You know, straying red lip stick and overly dark eyes. It was not pretty…” the two giggled, forgetting their anger.

She could not make the eyes look right. Her book was a veritable jungle of the feature, like beasts in the dark. The eyes she had looked into searchingly had been deep, deep as any black hole, never ending. The ones that she sketched now upon her Psychics book were flat and unseeing, they were no match for the dark light of the boy’s in her dreams. Mica leaned back frustrated, and looked once more to the board. Instead of concentrating on the problem being chalked numerous times upon the slate she wonder distantly at the number of pockets the teacher’s outfit sported. At least ten speckled the shirt. What could he need all those pockets for, she wondered.

“Hey!” came a harsh whisper that broke her pointless train of thought, right out of her line of vision. “Hey!”

This time Mica turned to face the blond boy behind her. All females in the room shifted there eyes to the whispering male, Tom. They all liked him. Mica could tell by the way they all fluttered their eyes and hit him playfully, giggling like wind-up dolls, on and on and on. Mica had no idea why. He was dull and quite dumb. An All-American boy. Not her type.

“Here.” he whispered and pushed a neatly folded note into her hand. Mica opened the paper confused and read the scrawling penmanship with a furrow in her brow.

“Hey, think your cute. Want to go to homecoming with me? Right back. Bye.”

Mica’s eyes widened. He thought she was cute? Someone thought she was cute? She was flattered, but disgust registered in her mind at the thought of going out with Tom, who had stayed back twice in kindergarten. What’s so hard about coloring and using scissors? She turned to give him the bad news. But before she could part her lips to utter a sound he sighed, exasperated, and stated, “No, pass it forward.”

Color rose in Mica’s face, slow and unwelcome, as she passed the note to Liz, who cracked her gum and smiled at Tom in answer to his question.

Green eyes stared into her own. What was it that guys didn’t like, Mica pondered surveying herself in the bathroom mirror. Her hair fell past her shoulders in lovely curling waves, like she had spent hours in a beauty salon, her mother always said. Her skin was perfectly clear, apart from an occasional pimple, which was a large feat at high school age, and her eyes were always complimented by strangers for their greenness. What was it that drove them all away? Mica sighed in defeat and drew a brush from her backpack, running it through her dark-brown-auburn waves.

“Hey Mic wanna go the mall to look for dresses on Saturday?” Ashley had just entered the bathroom after her last class.

“Can’t,” Mica replied, working a stubborn lock into place,

“I’m going to Boston this weekend. Some kind of family get away, you know. We’re going to stay at a fancy hotel and everything. Besides, I got my dress last week, remember?”

“Yeah, your dress is awesome. Roses, dramatic slit. Too bad you got to it first.”

“You have to be quick when you want something bad enough, or it’ll slip right through your still grasping fingers!” Mica pronounced, adding a dramatic flare as usual and waving her brush gracefully in the air.

“Yep, that’s why I asked Scott right away. Anyone you should ask right away? Any perfect guy you want to snatch up before he’s stolen away?” Ashley teased, raising her ruddy eyebrows to better empathize her statement.

“Yeah..in my dreams…” Mica joked, only realizing after the words had passed her lips their double meaning. She laughed ironically, a dry bitter chuckle.

“What? What’s so funny? Did I miss some weird Mica joke here?” the red-head asked, irked a little, thinking her friend was laughing at her.

“You’d have to be there.” Mica whispered, wishing she could return.

On Grades

This morning, I was reading The Fox by D.H. Lawrence (which I think I bought from some book table in Williamsburg) when the above fluttered onto my bagel.

For those who can’t read scrawling, teacher handwriting, the scrap says:

F

Nice writing. No knowledge of what you’re writing about — and you’re bored because you don’t read, so you don’t know what’s going on + you and your pals could be playing games outside, instead of paying attention + reading + writing on the walls about how bored you are. It’s clear. I get the message. Have you??

Now, this book could have been in several hands since this message was tucked inside. Or perhaps the message was from some other assignment in the past, and the book’s owner was reminding him/herself of some past folly by retaining it.

Still, judging by the notes inside the book, the reader had, indeed, read the book. And understood it. And, judging by the fact that the owner had kept such a… dare I say poorly written condemnation, s/he was pretty badass.

Either/or, I have always felt that grades were idiocy.