The Literary Ocicat

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I may or may not be turning into a cat...

Monday, April 04, 2011


I'm super tired today. I probably slept too much. And I've just been cranky today. I don't know why. I tried to go fight some goblins in Legend of Zelda: Twilight Princess, but Kiri (my cat) wouldn't leave me alone. It's hard to do anything with a cat in your face. So now I'm trying to brainstorm ideas for an Easter basket exchange that I'm doing (which should be a lot of fun when I start getting some ideas). Which led me to the Internet. Which led me here. To complain about how grouchy I am. I'll probably feel better after I eat something.

In other news, there's tons of nerdy entertainment coming out soon, so that's cool. I recently saw Limited, the movie with Bradley Cooper about a guy who takes a pill and becomes super smart; The Adjustment Bureau, with Matt Damon; and Tangled. I think Tangled was my favorite, but I liked them all pretty well. Mostly I'm excited for Thor, Captain America, Cowboys and Aliens, and, growingly, Green Lantern, all movies coming out between now and the end of summer. Until then, I have tons of books on my reading list. I have book ADD right now or something, because I've started something like half a dozen books and haven't finished most of them. I just started Mockingjay, the conclusion of the Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins and I should be able to finish that one. The rest might have to be returned to the library until I'm more in the mood for them. I have to wait until July for the next Dresden Files book (dang you, Jim Butcher!). I know I keep coming back to it, but the last one ended on a huge cliffhanger! What am I supposed to do? I need my Dresden fix! Maybe the new season of Doctor Who starting on the 23rd (of April! 20 days!) will tide me over.

So. Those are all the nerd-related entertainments I'm looking forward to. I think it's lunchtime now.

Monday, November 15, 2010

Autumnal Renewal

Yes, I am ignoring the horribly emo embarrassing post that was my last one. I am also vowing never, ever to write a post at stupid o'clock ever again. My good judgment goes to bed long before the rest of me.

Let's see now, what have I been up to? I got a job. 'S'okay. It sometimes requires me to get up very early, which my cat loves. She thinks I should do it everyday. This makes me not happy on days when I don't have to get up early. Ummm...Otherwise my life is
kinda boring. Not in a bad way. Just in a not interesting way.

Entertainment? I've watched most of Eureka, a Scifi (Syfy?) series which is hilarious and pretty great. I think it's my second-favorite show next to Doctor Who. Warehouse 13, also a Scifi, or whatever, series (which had a crossover with Eureka in the most rece
nt seasons) is also good, but I'm not as attached to it. I also just started Veronica Mars, based on my brother's recommendation. It is also pretty great and I am enjoying it immensely. Also, Castle had a steampunk episode that totally made my week that week. I love Castle so much. Oh, and the modern Sherlock Holmes that was on PBS was pretty great, too. I like that phrase, don't I?

Books, books...I decided a couple of months ago that I haven't read enough scifi (the genre, not the channel) and so I started compiling a scifi book list to
gradually work through. It's been rather slow going, but I think it's been worth it. I read Little Brother by Cory Doctorow and it was amazing. I also read most of a space opera epic that was pretty great (although I had to return it before I finished it and haven't gotten around to checking it out again). And I'm 2/3 of the way through a cyberpunky trilogy that I personally really like, but it is not for a general audience, so I wouldn't give it blanket recommendation. I also have a growing list of YA lit that certain members of my family have been insisting I read. I suppose the sooner I read them, the sooner they'll stop asking about them. Finally, I read the Dresden Files short story anthology that just came out and it only makes me want the next to come now instead of in March (or May or something). I may or may not go more into depth about some of these in later posts.

I know most (all?) of you aren't webcomic readers, but The Abominable Charles Christopher by Karl Kerschl is brilliant. One of the best things I've ever read. Equal parts cute, moving, thoughtful. The artwork alone makes it worth it. It updates on Wednesd
ays, so it only takes a little time once you get past the archives, which won't take long since you won't be able to get away. It is so completely worth it. Or you could just read the first chapter in the book my other brother (not the one mentioned above and not at all to do with Neil Gaiman's Coraline) was thoughtful enough to order for me (and he got the super special awesome edition, too). I'm going to have to do a post on that story. And on TACC (that's how the "in the know" people abbreviate it). Look at this adorable fox. Don't you want to read his story?

Well, there went my goal of keeping my posts relatively short. As a parting gift, a little poem I wrote (in high school) about my favorite season.

The air grows cool,
days shorten and
nights lengthen;
the wind crispens
as footsteps start to crackle.
Skies shift,
grey to blue to black
and back again.
The trees catch fire,
oh so slowly,
slowly burning the leaves away.

Sunday, May 23, 2010

To sleep, perchance to dream...

No, I'm not talking about death (although that is what that quote pertains to in Hamlet (in case you didn't know where it came from)). I'm going to talk about dreams. Eventually. (This post is super long, by the by. I couldn't find a satisfactory place to cut it and make it two posts.)

First, an apology. It's been longer than I meant it to be since I've written here. Also, though I should doubtless get out of this habit, a preemptive apology for the likely rambling turns I'll be taking. I haven't planned this out at all and it's rather later than I ought to be up right now.

Second, a warning. I have, for the most part, been rather lighthearted here. There hasn't really been much substantive musing. I suppose the transportation post could have been something, at least in the beginning, but it didn't end up as much. This isn't going to be lighthearted. It may devolve into a rant. Just thought you might want to prepare yourself. That being said, I will try to include some pictures.

Now, on to dreams.

Do you remember when you were little? And adults would often ask what you wanted to be when you grew up? What did you say? Astronaut? President? Explorer? Doctor? Vet? Singer? Actor?

And then, slowly, maybe you realized that the chance of your dream coming true was kind of ridiculous and you decided to do something else. And that's fine. It really is. I'm not criticizing. Certainly not everyone can become president when they grow up.

I don't think it's wrong to change. Maybe you really wanted to be an vet when you were little. And then you realized how allergic you were to most everything that moves and some things that don't and how nervous you get around even just the cat your family has had since before you can remember and you thought to yourself, "Y'know, self? I'd probably be pretty miserable as a vet. So if I'm not going to be that when I grow up, what will I be?" That was me. Well, I don't know the exact reasoning, but eventually I decided that it wasn't for me. I think there must have been something between vet and author, but for the life of me I cannot remember what. And that's what I want to be now. Not necessarily when I grow up, because I'm rather doubtful that I will ever do that, but in the future. And I don't expect it to be any time soon. But that is my dream. Well, that's my big dream.

I have a lot of little dreams, too. It's a different kind of dreaming, more imagining, really, but it's just as important. I look up at the stars at night sometimes and I get the little dropping sensation in the pit of my stomach (the kind you get when you go over especially steep hills in a car (or, y'know, rollercoasters)) as I imagine gravity reversing and myself falling up into the universe around us. I seriously consider what I would do in the event of the (robot/zombie/general) apocalypse (the Facebook quizzes all tell me I'll survive the zombie apocalypse, so no worries there). I have imaginary conversations with the house elves who keep eating our food and taking our stuff (or at least moving it) and remind them to feed the Eater of Socks (which is from Terry Pratchett's Hogfather if anyone was wondering). I wonder if I would really have the guts to hop into a blue police box with a strange man who claims to be a time traveler (Doctor Who, and I totally would). I debate with friends and family what the best super power would be or explore which one I would most want (and perhaps how I'd get it) and try to explain why personal teleportation would solve all our problems.

And a lot of people don't do this kind of thing.

It seems to me that a lot of people get to the "I don't want to be a vet after all" part, but then they kind of stop. Somewhere in the growing up part of life, people stop dreaming. They stop wondering what the aliens just on the other side of the stars are thinking as they study us. They stop pinpointing the exact moment in time when they and their alternate self in the parallel universe diverged.

I understand that I don't have very much to worry about right now. I'm living at home and don't have to worry about food money or rent or paying really any expenses except those for my own amusement. I don't have kids. I'm not in school right now. There's a lot of space in my head not being taken up by worries that a lot of people have.

But it really saddens me, how much people aren't dreaming.

And it angers me when those that won't dream get annoyed with those that do.

I don't know how many times I've had to listen to comments (and sometimes more than comments) about how hard it is to support yourself as a writer. Or how many weird looks I've gotten. Or exasperated looks. Or lectures about getting my act together and doing something useful with my time.

Just recently I've gotten several projects into my head that won't leave me alone. One is teaching myself guitar. The other, inspired by a steampunk jewelery book, is to try some of the designs out and investigate participating a little in the steampunk culture, instead of just looking at and going, "Ooh, pretty." (See previous post on steampunk.)

To both of these ideas, mini-dreams, if you would, I have often gotten dubious looks and lectures and a general sense of "never going to happen."

Stop it. Just stop.

Yeah, I realize that maybe I don't have all the skills required to do the modifications usually necessary in making anything steampunk. So why can't I learn them? And I know I might never be great at guitar, but I'm doing it for me and my enjoyment, not to perform for other people. So leave me alone about it.

I am sick and tired of being ridiculed and reprimanded and shot down for dreaming. (Sorry, I couldn't think of a third "r.") Don't tell me to get my head out of the clouds. I will build my castles in the air and then I will invent hover-supports to keep them up there. I will dream the impossible dream. And the improbable ones too. I will get really excited and involved and emotionally invested with the stories I am experiencing through various media (books, tv, and so forth).

I will not be more realistic. If I'm being unrealistic, then reality sucks and we should change it. Or find a new one.

xkcd has a strip that I found recently. I won't post it here, because they swear in the last few panels, but the main panel is great and this is what it said:

"The infinite possibilities each day holds should stagger the mind. The sheer number of experiences I could have is uncountable, breathtaking. And I'm sitting here refreshing my inbox. We live trapped in loops, reliving a few days over and over, and we envision only a handful of paths laid out ahead of us.We see the same things each day, we respond the same way, we think the same thoughts, each day a slight variation on the last, every moment smoothly following the gentle curves of societal norms. We act like if we just get through today, tomorrow our dreams will come back to us.

"And no, I don't have all the answers. I don't know how to jolt myself into seeing what each moment could become. But I do know one thing: the solution doesn't involve watering down my every little idea and creative impulse for the sake of some day easing my fit into a mold. It doesn't involve tempering my life to better fit someone's expectations. It doesn't involve constantly holding back for fear of shaking things up." (This is the actual strip.)

I suppose the strip was the inspiration for this post.

I'm not perfect. My way is not necessarily the best way. I've succeeded in screwing up my life pretty completely. I apologize to my friends and family who are finding out about this here, as I had intended on sending out an email with some explanation before this, but I into problems at BYU. I am on academic suspension as a result of grades. I am not where I thought I would be in my life. I'm living at home until further notice, trying to get a job, maybe/probably going on a mission sometime next year. And some would argue that at least a portion of my problems have something to do with my dreaming. And maybe they're right. Maybe my castles in the air could use a ladder or to to allow access from the ground.

But don't ever, ever expect me to stop dreaming. And stop telling me, or anyone else for that matter, the things I/they (we?) can't do. Maybe I can and maybe I can't. Won't it be fun finding out?

Maybe by striving for the impossible now, we make something merely improbable for the next generation.

I think maybe this is where my love of speculative fiction, in all its forms and media, comes from. (Speculative fiction is scifi, fantasy, and the other borderline genre.) It's full of people doing impossible things. It treats impossibilities as matters of fact and has people go on to achieve things even more impossible. It is the stories about the ordinary people who got caught up in extraordinary events. It's made of dreams. It's the dreams of dreams. It enriches your own dreams. I couldn't have thought of half the things I've thought of without the books and movies and music and shows that I love.

I have a better grasp on reality as it is (as opposed to as it should be) than many people who know me might realize.

I know that my approach to life right now is flawed. I know I need to fix the way I do some things. I know that some of my dreams are rightly considered impossible, okay? I know it's an uphill battle of Ragnarokian proportions to become a successful, published author.

And I know that a lot of my imaginings aren't possible for me right now. No, I don't know most, if not all, the techniques I'd need to make the jewelery in that book. And I wouldn't be ready for the Doctor to appear in the TARDIS. I'm in no shape to do the amount of running that would be necessary to accompany him. (Yes, I'm referencing Doctor Who again. Go watch some of it and come back and it will make more sense, especially if it's from the new series. Especially if it's David Tennant's Doctor.) But these dreams are what inspire me to make myself better. This is what leads me to acquire, or leads me to want to acquire, kind of strange skills. This is why I want to get in better shape and get back into school to take classes that teach me things.

I think that's what dreams are for. That, and giving a little more magic and wonder to life.

Maybe I'm just tired and frustrated and worn out and disgruntled from job hunting. And sorry, no pictures.

Friday, May 07, 2010

First Impressions

I went to a midnight showing of Iron Man 2 tonight, to show my nerd solidarity. By myself, which is kinda pathetic, but I think it was worth it. The first one came out when I was still in high school (and it may have been AP season at the time), so I made the wise decision and did not got to the midnight showing (plus, I didn't realize how awesome it would be). So I wanted to go this time. And I did (and I plan to do all of the Avenger line movies (the newest Hulk (we shall forget that the earlier one existed and never speak of it again), the Iron Man movies, the coming Thor and Captain America movies and (drumroll) the Avengers movie that brings it all together!), 'cause I am that excited for them). And now, still a little pumped from the movie, I wanted to get my first impressions out there. Doubtless I will see this once (or twice...or thrice) more, and I may do a more in-depth thing later. But first impression?


In a week or so (maybe less), I'll organize all my thoughts about the superhero movies and explain a little to my non-comic savvy readers about a some things I've mentioned here and more that I'll be mentioning there. But here's to make a long story short (too late!) (at least it was until I edited this, but I wanted to leave the Clue reference): the Iron Man movies have captured the comics (or, at least, my sense/experience of the comics) to a T. A T as in Tony Stark, because there could never be a better Tony Stark than Robert Downey, Jr. Thank you, RDJ, for taking this part. Everyone else was good, too, even though they changed the guy who plays Rhodes (I think I like this one better). I was especially surprised by how much I like Scarlett Johansson as Black Widow and Mickey Rourke as Whiplash (he didn't impress me in the previews).

And the writing was so great. They got the snark right, they got the action right, and there was some real emotion (even more than the last one, which did have some). And it was hilarious. And I think it was even cleaner than the last one (at least figuratively): no swearing (that I noticed, and I don't actually remember if they swore in the last one), and, very surprisingly (considering this is Tony Stark we're talking about), no sex (although there were scantily-ish (not, like, bikini scanty or anything..although there were those Ironettes or whatever they were called...) clad women and a skin-tight stealth suit on Black Widow). And not bloody at all. (This last but about being cleaner is probably only important to my Mormon readers, but I think that's the majority of you, so I included it.)

Lastly (I promise), they avoided Spiderman 3 syndrome. I was worried, because from the previews, there were a lot of storylines going on. You had Whiplash with his vendetta against the Starks, the military drama, the mysterious buff suits Tony and Rhodes face together, Rhodes and Tony's relationship, Tony's and Pepper's relationship, Black Widow as a new character, background S.H.I.E.L.D. stuff going on, and then some stuff they didn't even have in the previews at all (or nearly)...There was a lot to cover. But it did not end up like Spiderman 3, where they just had too many storylines going on (a movie doesn't need 3 or 4 villains!). In Iron Man 2 they condensed it all nicely and it fit together like an especially well-made puzzle. It was a thing of beauty.

So, I highly recommend it. It was so great. There is an after-credits thing, but it may not be especially exciting to those not familiar with all the things going on to line up all the Avengers movies. Like the last one, with Nick Fury being revealed (another perfect casting...), which isn't exciting unless you know who Nick Fury is and what he is in charge of. But it made me squee. Well, it was more like a "Yeah!" with a double fist pump (which in this case is both fists going over my head at the same time), but you get the idea.

Tuesday, May 04, 2010

I'm Spreading the Awesome

I was not expecting to be blogging again so soon, but I read about this thing going on with the blogosphere today, Spreading the Awesome. (I read it on io9, which is a nerd blog and awesome as well). It's all about recommending awesome (as in 10-star) books. I thought it was not only a great idea, but something I should do. As I love to read, you can expect to have many book recommendations in the future, but for now, I'm trying to think of the absolutely best books (which means not only did I enjoy them, but I think they are actual quality books) I have read. This is kinda hard. I enjoy many books, but I also recognize that they aren't necessarily all that great. I tried to think of ones that might be new to those I know are reading my blog (yes, I know every single person in my family has heard of at least the one series, but they're so good I couldn't resist), but I apologize in case you've heard me gush about these before. Also, these might not be your cup of tea. But I think they are excellent.

First off, books that I absolutely love, but not many people seem to have read: Robin Hobb's books, starting with the Farseer trilogy, starting with Assassin's Apprentice. She has two more trilogies that take place in the same world (and the last connects the first two), but I haven't finished them yet. (There's also some more coming out now, and she's written other books, some under a different name.) My reading stamina is oddly decreasing over the years and I don't have the attention span for epics anymore. But they are high on the list for when I feel like reading epics again.

A brief intro: it is fantasy (high fantasy?) but the magic is very subtle, not wizards in long robes waving their arms to produce big bursts of light and such. It follows the life of FitzChivalry Farseer (Fitz), the illegitimate son of the crown prince of the Six Duchies as he navigates the politics of his land while trying to defend it from raiders of the OutIslands. Warning: these aren't very happy books. They had me crying a lot. But they do end satisfyingly and are beautifully written. They really are just magnificent and so intricate it's kind of mind boggling.

Robin Hobb is one of my favorite authors because she's so dang mysterious (or at least, she used to be). Her bio was simply "Robin Hobb lives in Washington state." Then was added the bit about how she sometimes writes as Megan Lindholm, whose bios said the same except reverse. No picture, that was it. It was great.

Next, Megan Whalen Turner's The Queen's Thief series, starting with The Thief. I haven't read the most recent one, but I love the first three. Anyone who can write a first person book and still surprise me with the twist at the end deserves a prize (and I don't feel like she really cheated by just not telling you stuff, like some stories I've read). I love these books so much. And the new covers are so gorgeous.

Intro: fantasy again, but not much magic (and most of that seems to come in the first book, other than the occasional visit of a god or two). It's kind of alternate history as well, a sort of alternate Greece or something. I can't say too much, for fear of spoiling the twist, but it's largely about Gen, a charming little thief, and the shifting politics between three small nations trying to maintain their independence from the far larger nations on all sides. Man, I need to read these again...

A new series that I started just a few weeks ago: the Temeraire books by Naomi Novik, starting with His Majesty's Dragon. Alternate history, Napoleonic wars with dragons. I don't have to say more (although I will). Go read them. Also, Novik's style is so great, right on the nose. Very like Jane Austen/Patrick O'Brian. And the dragons are just hilarious.

Synopsis: Captain William Laurence, formerly of the Royal Navy, harnesses a rare Chinese dragonette captured from a French ship, names him Temeraire and joins the Air Corps. It's so great. I've read the first three and have the next two sitting staring at me accusingly for not having started them yet.

This is all I will write about books today, although there are so many more. These are not only enjoyable (oh so very) books, but I think they are really fantastically written as well. So, here's me doing my part to spread the awesome. You should do yours. Oh, and here's the reading list that's being assembled (I have no idea if I will make it on, but I don't really think so or care). It is being updated over the next few days. I am sad to say that I haven't even heard of most of these, and have read even fewer, but I will definitely be checking them out in the days to come.

Update: I just found out that Spreading the Awesome started yesterday, but oh well.

Monday, May 03, 2010

Nothing in Particular

I know I should write something interesting here, but I don't have the concentration right now to do a lolcats post (which is the next one I plan to do) because it involves a lot of pictures and this blog-writing layout is really annoying about posting pictures. So you get me rambling about whatever it is I'm thinking about (which is nothing much right now). Yeah, you can really feel free to just skip this one. Mostly, I'm just letting you know that I'm still alive and still paying attention to my blog.

I'm looking for employment right now. I don't like looking for it. I gave my resume to a music shop, which I think I would be quite suited to work at and I think would be pretty fun, but I'm not getting my hopes up. I've also been told about some bank jobs, which would doubtless be good experience and pay better, but would be less fun.

Also, I want to get an acoustic guitar and teach myself to play, but I haven't done gotten one yet, and haven't figured out exactly how I'm going to teach myself. One step at a time, I guess.

I feel like there was something else I was going to mention, but I don't remember what. So I guess it won't be mentioned. I hope things are going well for whoever is reading this and stay tuned for lolcat hilarity. You know, eventually...

Wednesday, April 21, 2010

Musings on Life, Episode 1

I am going to try my utmost to make sense, but I make no promises. Consider yourself fairly warned, or else.

Also, I've realized that I'm kind of preachy and/or condescending maybe (is didactic the right word?) and I am trying to remedy this. Please let me know if I do or d
o not.

So, kind of oddly (although this is eventually going somewhere, I promise), I've thought a lot about the evolution of transportation and its effect on communication between people. There used to be a kind of camaraderie amongst travelers, back when any travel of any length took weeks or months. People walking down the road or riding horses could nod and wave and smile and maybe fall in and chat with other people on the same road. There was even more safety sticking with a larger group in some places. And even with wagons, people were out in the air and could be shouted to or at with ease. Even when richer people were bouncing along in carriages, they would stop at wayhouses and inns and maybe they would take a meal or two in the common room, amongst all the rest of the travelers. (Note: Most of this I have gleaned from reading fiction and not actual research, but I think it holds fairly true nonetheless.)

Now, by and large, we travel around in a little room on wheels. Because that's what a car is. We are mostly completely enclosed in our own space and we can shut out the rest of the world. Also, the speeds we drive at, especially long-distance driving, would make conversation with other cars near impossible. In hotels, many people, if not most, scurry back and forth in the halls from their rooms to the dining room or the laundry or maybe the pool or game room, keeping their heads down and avoiding contact with the other patrons of the hotel. At least, that's what I do, and I think it holds true with a lot of people.
Technology has helped very little. Now in places where we might have engaged in some manner with our fellow travelers (i.e. buses, metros, trains, planes, or walking down the street), we stick in our headphones (or maybe earplugs, on planes and long-distance buses) or keep our cellphones glued to our ears and ignore the other people around us in much the same way as they ignore us. There are still some people who will try to engage their neighbor in conversation, especially, in my mind, on planes, but I know that I would mostly find this an unwelcome intrusion into my life. I would probably be quietly annoyed with these people, they'd probably realize this, and then they'd leave me to Vergil (my iPod, remember) and book.

However guilty I am of doing my share of insulating myself against other travelers (and I do love my Vergil), I find this a little sad. In this day and age, with internet and Facebook and cellphones, shouldn't we be even more connected to the world and not less? Yeah, connection with people we know is different than connection with complete strangers, but it's still a little sad. Especially since travel is so much easier now. I can go to China in however many hours (hours!) that flight is, instead of the sixish months it took to get there, what, a couple hundred years ago? That's amazing! And yet, I barely look at the people I walk past, some them people I probably walk past every day who probably think of me as that weird headphones girl who is always making weird gestures with her hands (faux-conducting classical music) or playing air-guitar or bobbing her head mouthing the words to songs that no one else is hearing. And yet (again), I don't seriously plan on altering my behavior anytime in the near future.

So what am I doing to try to connect to the world? I'm being a jerk.

I am one of those people who loves to drive with the windows down, and I think a large part of that is to blast my music out the windows. Really loudly. (Also, I sing along, but that is less to expose the world to my lovely (ha!) voice and more because I love to sing
along with the songs (even classical)). I do this with any music I happen to be listening to, so the people on the street and in the surrounding cars may be subjected to classical, eighties, anime, or the really random amount of music that I have managed to become attached to through the years. I have never found a genre of music that I absolutely did not like. Not country, there is some country that I like. Not rap, because even if I don't listen to any completely rap artist, I am quite attached to Linkin Park and they have a fair bit of rap. More often than not the music will have words, because, as I've said, I love to sing along and it's a tad more satisfying with words to the songs than with classical music (or anime, where most of the words are Japanese, so I don't really know them).
Now, I myself think I have pretty good taste in music, but I would, wouldn't I? And I'm certainly not trying to be malicious with my music-blasting. Mostly, I like to think that I am maybe bringing a little culture into people's lives (if I happen to be rocking out to Mozart or Bach or Tchaikovsky), or introducing them to some music they hadn't listened to before and will spend years trying to track down on the internet. See there? New music and an adventure and a story to tell your kids and/or nephews/nieces and/or just your friends.

This is how I am trying to break down the walls we've built as we travel. This is my contribution to the traveler's society. Being the jerk who blasts music out the windows of her car. Sure, I could try talking to someone once in a while, but where's the fun in that? It's much more fun to be the loud music jerk.

So how do you reach out to your fellow travelers? What're your thoughts about the evolution of travel and communication? Or your thoughts about my method of trying to change our travel isolation? Or your thoughts on anything at all? Really, I'm open to just about anything.