Archive for the ‘vacation’ Tag

A Monster Calls… Depressingly.

Friday, June 15th, 2012

Hello to all trees crushing churches, pigs from outer-space, people with funny suits and computer speakers from 1987.

Yesterday I read a book. I read lots of books; however, I rarely read books about living yew trees that talk to people and tell stories and are INCREDIBLY DEPRESSING. A Monster Calls is a book by Patrick Ness, author of the tremendously cool series Chaos Walking. This book is a 200-some sad picture book, so sad, so incredibly sad that you will very possibly feel like crying… or rewriting the ending, like I did. And Conor could finally face it, his mother’s death. Wouldn’t it be better if it ended like, And Conor lived happily ever after in a flying castle with his friends and there was never another depressing day to be had. Ever. Then they all went and got ice cream and there were puppies and butterflies falling from the sky.

A Monster Calls is fantastic. Patrick Ness is a great writer and, though melancholy, the book is quite entertaining and brutally honest. The best part is the illustrations, which are dark and strange and sometimes alarming. It’s a lot to take in three hours of furious page-turning, and it leaves a bittersweet (mostly bitter, not very sweet) taste behind. But the monster, which is a yew tree but not a yew tree but not real but real at the same time, is possibly the funniest part of the whole thing, which is ironic since it’s also the scariest and darkest part of the whole thing. The stories it tells to Conor are interesting, and the whole thing is like a half-daze of frightening images and wordplay: all very lyrical, like a long, dark poem about a dying woman and a struggling boy and a darn freaky living tree that crushes things.

I reccommend it, if mostly for the artwork. The story is good on its own, but the images that Jim Kay conjures up really makes it what it is. Four stars out of five, I say.

So ends my review of one of the most interesting yet horribly, horribly sad books I’ve ever read. Let’s read the Clifford the Big Red Dog Valentine’s Day book next. Please.



Revisiting the Nerdity

Sunday, June 10th, 2012

Hello to all USB sticks, long-forgotten, found under a stack of papers and containing the story you thought you’d lost for three years which makes you almost cry with relief, flying lizards from obscure video games, and apples being thrown at passing businessmen.

The title of this blog entry is none too accurate– why? Well, apparently I’m only ‘revisiting’ the nerdity. However, I’ve been living in the nerdity since the very moment I came to be, so it’s a lie. But on the other hand, it’s true when I say I’ve revisited a certain branch of nerdity, which is the trading card game known as Yu-Gi-Oh! There’s an exclamation mark and I thought I should leave it in.

I was once quite the Yu-Gi-Oh! junkie. I bought a whole plastic bag full of them– there were probably at least three hundred of them in there– from a kid in grade six with my counterfeit paper money. But that’s another story. Let’s just say I didn’t come by my paper money for the buying-and-selling day honestly. I used to get starter decks, and even those fancy tins with the coolest monster in the deck displayed on the front all shinily. There was even a time where I could beat the Karate Master– but now he’s become so good that I have little to no chance of knocking off a few of his life points before he creams me with his well-thought-out strategies and super-good monster cards. The Karate Master made us all get back into Yu-Gi-Oh! yesterday, and for a few hours he creamed us all while we all reveled in the nerdy why-am-I-a-fourteen-year-old-girl-playing-Yu-Gi-Oh! fun.

I like to think I’m a better player than the Karate Master– but the sad truth is I am not. He studies every last inch of strategy, while I throw all the cool cards together and hope fate will be kind to me and let me win. I like the card that’s a very broody-looking fellow with a sword and a barrel chained to his arm because he reminds me of a Miyazaki movie.

So we played cards for a couple hours, me, George Harrison, the Karate Master and Tall He Is. I lost four times in a row, but managed to dredge out two wins at the end. While I played, half-paying attention, I rearranged the Karate Master’s ‘Red Pyramid’ pyramid, which is a silly little cardboard thing you can put together that probably came from the Kane Chronicles guidebook. That is a series of kids’ books about Egyptian mythology and magic and so on. The pyramid has the characters on each side, and you could arrange them any way you like– so I arranged them with Anubis, the death god, facing out so you can oggle at him. I don’t know if my friends-that-are-boys will appreciate this, but I sure do.

In the end I’m glad I came, even if it feels somehow strange to be in highschool and jumping back on the Yu-Gi-Oh! train. My friends are cool guys, even if the rest of society doesn’t think so, so it’s okay– we can get away with being nerdy, I think. Besides, it’s a fun game and there’s broody-looking fellows with swords and barrels chained to their arms involved.

Anyway– I urge you, Blog-Reader, to think back to your days of nerdy hobbies. There IS a certain amount of fun to be found in it, after all. Yours afeoeioiejfiesincerely, I can’t think of another way to say ‘yours sincerely’ so I put that, which is of course how you end letters in– um– the country of EIefeioajeijifejIJOja, (there, try pronouncing that.) Anyhow, good-bye, and good day to you! ~Onceabasementdog

C’est Jaune

Wednesday, June 6th, 2012

Hello to all tambourines falling down stairs, (CRASH *wince* CRASH *wince* CRASH *wince*), cats eating grass, lizards running loose in basements, and macaroni dinners.

Last night I was having trouble sleeping. This isn’t a rare occurrence– usually when I can’t sleep, I read my favorite scenes from Percy Jackson and scribble some drawings, or walk in circles trying not to panic, or stare at the bottom of the bunk bed and count the staples that, I hope, are not the only thing keeping it from falling and creating a blogger sandwich.

I turned on the TV around midnight, planning to watch something brainless (like an infomercial for mustache wax), and paused at one of the French channels. I watched for a moment, just about to change the channel again. Quickly I realized this was some kind of middle-of-the-night, ten sleepless Quebecers are watching this type thing. You were supposed to guess what the ‘jaune’ thing could be– what the yellow thing was, for twenty eight hundred dollars. Well, I thought, there’s nothing else on– might as well watch and see if I can guess it.

Ten minutes passed. I sat back and smirked at all the wrong answers callers gave, (ble was one, which is wheat for all you non-French people out there), and by the way, wheat is not really yellow– I’d say more of a brownish yellow. But it all depends at what stage your wheat is. New wheat, old wheat– red wheat, blue wheat. Um, anyhow, all the callers gave the wrong answers. Half an hour passed.

I was still watching. Somebody guess the freaking thing! The girl began to look a little harried– so the producers let her make the prize three thousand now. Five minutes later she put in a hint– the yellow thing was in fact a fruit. So, ‘cantaloupe?’ the next guy suggested. Cantaloupe– yellow? Obviously this guy needs to get to sleep. Twenty more minutes passed, and still nobody had an answer– the girl kept talking, saying the same things over and over, and with each passing minute she started to look more and more frenzied. ‘Come on, yellow, a yellow fruit, I know you can guess it, there at home, maybe you had it in your breakfast this morning, maybe you’re eating it RIGHT NOW.’

Twenty more minutes passed.

By this time there was absolutely no way for me to stop watching. I had to know what the yellow fruit was. I stared at the TV screen, as the poor girl tried to keep smiling and kept saying, ‘I’m certain the next caller will have my answer! Come on, think about it! Use your heads!’

I was using my head. I was. I thought, it must be a mango. What else could it be?

Now it was nearing one thirty in the morning. Still there was no answer. So what did I do? Well, I couldn’t take this anymore. I had to solve the question. Besides, there was four thousand dollars to win. But it wasn’t really the money I was thinking about most–  it was the fact that the poor girl looked like she was going to cry soon and I wanted to help her out.

So I ran up stairs, grabbed the phone, and came back down.  I watched for a few more minutes, to see if someone else would call in with an answer– and then, at one thirty in the morning I called the French TV show– against all better judgement. But I HAD to fix this. The poor girl! Those freaking stupid French people and their wrong answers!

I called them, but I kept having to press one, for some reason. ‘Vous etes tellement proche!’ the recorded voice said in my ear. I was fully aware each ‘1’ was most probably another dollar, but I was committed at this point. So, when I reached the last ‘1’, the recording told me Good job! and all I got after that was a dial tone.

So fifteen more minutes of watching Instant-Gagnant.

I called again. The girl was going to stroke out really soon. But again all I got was a dial tone.

Aha! A moment of insight– I could try calling the cellphone line instead. So I plugged in my never-used cellphone, twitching with impatience, watching the host walk around begging people to give her an answer.

‘We have one minute and forty seconds left!’ the girl said, probably pleased it was almost over. I looked at my cellphone. Charging. I looked at the TV. No one’s calling in. I looked at my cellphone. Charging. I looked at the TV. No one’s calling in.

At this point I just wanted the thing to end for the love of God. It managed to stretch on at least another five minutes, and then, feeling agonized, for my cellphone hadn’t charged in time, I watched her open the envelope.

‘It’s the hand of buddha!’ she said.


I turned off the TV, disgusted. I was so worn out by an hour and a half of watching people guess the wrong yellow thing that I fell asleep pretty quick.

I will never watch that again. Ever.

Adventures of the Bike-Riding Girl

Wednesday, May 23rd, 2012

Hello to all butterflies flitting through gardens, worms squiggling through the dirt, and cats digging at linoleum floors.

You may have noticed there’s been a long gap between the last blog and this one. I apologize sincerely, but you must know that I don’t take any responsibility for: anxiety attacks due to no new blog entries, costs for psychologist sessions, sudden battles and pneumonia due to wandering around Canada trying to find my house and throw things at my window and scream, ‘YOU TERRIBLE PERSON, WE NEEEEEED A NEW BLOG ENTRY!’

Well, no more worries, Blog-Reader. Everything’s fine now. (Except for the two people in Japan trying to kill each other because they haven’t read a new blog entry in a couple weeks. They might not be fine.)

Anyway, where I live, there’s lots and lots of places to bike. For the last two weeks or so I’ve been in a mad frenzy of bike riding– this year, I’ve absolutely hopped on the bike-riding wagon, and I refuse to stop now. I’ve biked all the way to the south, where the bike path winds along the river and there’s lots of trees to sit in and read; I’ve gone up to the lochs and leaned over the railing and thought, ‘My, I surely do not want to fall in there.’ I’ve biked into the arboretum with all the pretty trees and the ponds, and once I went quite a ways east to my grandparents’ house just to see if I could. I could, but it turns out it’s uncomfortable to walk into Starbucks with your hair all frizzed and sweaty and your earbud dangling out of one ear and your face flushed from the heat just to ask for a glass of water like a homeless person and have a lady look at you like you really shouldn’t be here.

Anyhow. There’s something I really like about biking. You can avoid nearly everyone if you go fast enough, and the distance you can cover is amazing if you know where you’re going– which I never do. The other day I ended up on the wrong side of the canal and I was almost going to be late for my English tutor (oh, NO, THAT WOULD BE THE END OF THE WORLD) but I managed to get back okay. Today I biked around to my usual places, over the bridge, down the canal, around the neighborhood. I stopped by Yaghi’s Mini Mart, a convenience store a few blocks from my house where the one lady always smiles and says how tall and pretty I am, and there’s a cat I’ve named Muffintop for some obscure reason, and he likes to munch on grass while I rub his tummy. I went on the swings at the park for a bit, mainly just so I could get really high and then jump off; I biked down the pathway opposite the arboretum across the water and raced a girl on roller-skates– unbeknownst to her.  I saw a Jewish couple having a picnic in the park, and wanted to take a picture of them, but thought that might be a little impolite. It might be insensitive, but I like their little hats.

Now I’m home and sitting in the basement hoping that my English tutor won’t show up. Fine, I like her, but she talks kind of vaguely and, as much as I do enjoy Shakespeare, I don’t want to marry him like she does. Or at least I assume. Maybe that’s mean– but all right, she’s quite nice. I also do a great impression of her.

In other news, it’s finally warm and pretty in Onceabasementdogville. Yes– that’s what it’s called. The street is all green and the guy who takes care of the property, Julio, was pulling around a leaf-blower for three hours this morning. Jeez, Julio, how many leaves and bits of grass could there possibly be around here? I think he was mowing the lawns just so he could clear off more grass bits.

It’s probably time to go, since my English tutor should’ve shown up six minutes ago. I always hope she won’t come, and just when I’m sure she won’t, she does. It’s maddening, Blog-Reader– just maddening.

Anyway, enjoy your blue-skied spring, Blog-Reader. Until next time, I am yours never insincerely but only sometimes sincerely, Onceabasementdog.

Castle Onceabasementdog

Monday, April 23rd, 2012

Hello to all pigeons rooting around in parks, sandcastles being stepped on by careless people, and green computer speakers.

The house I’m currently sitting in as I write this is hardly what you’d call amazing. As far as I know tourists don’t stop by just to gape and take pictures and I really doubt anyone’s ever paused to admire our brick duplex sitting on the corner of this street and that one, with its rocks and bush and tree and eight tulips poking out of the ground. And– as much as I’d like to believe it– I don’t think people gather outside just to try and catch a glimpse of Onceabasementdog, that girl who usually huddles in her basement writing stories that are heavily inspired by other stories. Sure, she has some original ideas, but… never mind. I hope I never run into copyright troubles with David Eddings, that’s all.

I need a better place to be. So, I had this thought: why don’t I build a castle?

Here’s the idea. Free labor, first of all: I’m thinking dispensable orcs or dwarves or something. I’ll ask them to find some big stones and pile them together and maybe glue them in or something, and then I’ll find the best architects and ask them to get to work on my crazy idea for a gigantic structure with soaring red roofs and turrets and statues of albatrosses that continually circle the spires. If that’s weird, just wait until you look over the plans for the inside: a labyrinth of colorful corridors all spiraling inward toward the Grand Central Chamber, which is secured right in the middle of the castle and made entirely of stained glass. There’s a throne in there, and fountains, and bookshelves like you’ve never seen. The castle’s built in the most remote regions of Iceland, and in the Concert Chamber, Arcade Fire, Of Monsters and Men, or Florence and the Machine are continuously playing their best songs. Also there’s a score of antechambers that are devoted to paintings, books, musical instruments, and maybe just maybe one that’s full of strawberry rhubarb pie and chocolate mint chip ice cream. If you’re not one of the dozen or so guards hired to protect the wonders of the Castle, you’ll inevitably get lost in there– unless you stumble on the map room, where you’ll find an assortment of maps depicting imaginary lands and the intricate hallways of the great Castle Onceabasementdog.

The flag is blue with a great gold ‘O’ on it. It’s surrounded by deep, dark forests, home to terrible beasts and maybe a wall of thorns for effect, or something.

There you have it. If you’re ever in Iceland, look around for the construction of an enormous structure being built by dwarves.

Cheerio!, Onceabasementdog.

If I Was A Cave-Person, It’d Be All Right

Thursday, April 19th, 2012

Hello to all long-forgotten jars of pickles at the very back of basement refrigerators, excellent stop-motion animation shorts set to The Shins music, violas, tulips, and quarters.

The other day, I left the Inside World for a while to go to the Outside World. Only because my friend came over and I like him a little bit. So I biked all the way into the southern reaches of town, (and by the way just two days before I set a record for barfing thirteen times in one night due to a *BLEH* rotten chicken sausage, so maybe it wasn’t the best idea in the world), but I wanted to go out. Anyway, I was enjoying myself greatly for a while, until we saw a little blue egg on the lawn. George Harrison picked it up, and determined maybe it was best to put it down again, and then in a startling show of genius I picked it up, was in the middle of saying,  ‘You know, it kind of looks like one of those plastic–‘ When it broke under my fingers and splattered egg juice all over me.

Some of it got on my face. After I spit a few times and washed my hands I laughed about it. Do you know how pleasant it is to still feel sick after a food poisoning epidemic and then spatter bird all over yourself? Not very. Just writing about it now makes my stomach hurt again.

It occurred to me I might’ve killed the bird, but I don’t think so, since it was on the ground and must’ve dropped from somewhere. But there’s no robin’s nest in George Harrison’s tree, so he thinks it was probably his evil little sister who carried it over from somewhere. Anyway, if I was a cave-man, that would be all right, that I broke a bird’s egg– I imagine they probably ate lots of raw eggs, and didn’t even feel sorry about it. But then again, they also lived to be eighteen and didn’t have computers and blogs.

I wish I had more to say, but I don’t. Hm… did you see Lind’s homerun the other night? You know I scored 5,498,930 on computer pinball?

I bet YOU didn’t score 5,498,930 on computer pinball. Yours forever so, so insincerely, Onceabasementdog.