Monday, January 6, 2014

My Day in Animated GIFs

Can you help me find this GIF's home??
Can you help me find this GIF's home? 
Can you help me find this GIF's home?
Can you help me find this GIF's home?
Ugh, it's only 18:15. I have so many hours to go of this. Maybe I can just take some Nyquil and be dead to the world. 

Sunday, December 8, 2013

Top Ten Albums

Two friends of mine recently did Facebook posts of their top ten albums that have affected their lives in major ways, and you know what, I took it as a challenge to compile my own list. And then I found out that it is OMG SO HARD to do this, since 1) I'm not really a huge music nerd, 2) I tend to stick with single songs as opposed to whole albums, and 3) I am horrible about making top whatever lists.

But here you go: Juju's Top Ten Albums, in no particular order.

1) Third Eye Blind - "Third Eye Blind"
This is one of those albums that I will listen to the whole way through, over and over again. It came out when I was in seventh grade and I remember just feeling so connected to the songs. I mean, I obviously didn't get any of the drug references, of which there were plenty (I was fourteen, you guys; give me a break), but there was this sense of raw anger and frustration and angst and loss that made sense to me. I don't really connect with that any longer, since I'm almost twenty years removed (WHAT??) from the extreme hormonal imbalances that affect every young teenager, but it holds a special place in my heart. And when I become famous, I will definitely find some way to use "God of Wine," "The Background," or "Motorcycle Drive-By" in a soundtrack.

2) Bruce Springsteen - "Nebraska"
I actually just discovered this album, since I'm not really that huge a Springsteen fan. (Well, that's not true, anymore. As I started listening to "Nebraska," I began my own research into Springsteen's career and found that, ha, some of his biggest hits came of his worst, most commercialized album.) It's kind of like a concept album in a way, and it's incredibly dark and bleak, but it's one of the most honest things I've ever listened to. In a time where we're listening to songs about wealth and partying all the time, it's strangely refreshing to hear something about the struggles of ordinary people.

3) Radiohead - "The Bends"
Yet another nostalgia trip for me, but whatever: "The Bends" is such a great album. For me, it's the most accessible thing Radiohead ever did. Sure, I enjoy their other albums, although I'm definitely on Thom Yorke's side on the "Creep" hate. Ugh.

4) Ani Difranco - "Not a Pretty Girl"
This was my introduction to Ani Difranco when I was in high school, and I fell in love with her musicianship with the opening guitar of the first track, "Worthy." I loved how unpolished it was, reminiscent of Alanis Morissette's "Jagged Little Pill," where Difranco wasn't worried about absolute perfection. The artistry was in the mistakes and slight scratchiness on the strings. She wasn't trying to be anything other than herself, and I appreciated that. The titular song really sold me since it just screamed "Juju, this song is about you!" at me, and that hasn't really changed.

5) Alice In Chains - "Unplugged"
Back when MTV was, like, good and shit, the Unplugged series was pretty amazing, but Alice In Chains was by far the absolute best. Seeing and hearing Layne Staley after such a long absence was such a wonderful (and at the same time, painful) experience. "Nutshell," which is my favorite AIC song, was just so beautifully done and actually made me cry when I saw it. See, now I wanna go watch this again.

6) Poe - "Haunted"
If you haven't listened to this album, stop what you are doing, go to Spotify, YouTube, whatever, it doesn't matter. Listen to the whole thing. This was a concept album that Poe did with her brother, author Mark Danielewski. Well, kind of. "Haunted" was based around a bunch of audio cassettes she found with recordings of her father's voice, but she also tied in her brother's book, House of Leaves, into the album, too. You can experience each song separately, of course, but it's best taken at one time, from "Exploration B" all the way to "If You Were Here." Her voice is magical, the lyrics are witty and heartbreaking, the music is (appropriately) haunting. It's as close to a perfect album as I think you can get.

7) "Macross Plus" Soundtrack
This one isn't as well known by the general public, but I suggest everyone check it out as soon as possible. Yoko Kanno, who did the music for "Cowboy Bebop" (which I almost used in this list), is just phenomenal. I actually cried when the CDs I owned were cracked, I didn't have enough money to buy them again, and the albums weren't on iTunes. I still have yet to purchase them again (there are two) and listen to the songs on YouTube, but eventually, I will again hear Sharon Apple's "Idol Talk" in my car.

8) "Star Wars" Trilogy Soundtracks
Okay, I'm putting these three soundtracks into one long albums because this is my damned list and I do what I want. "Star Wars" has been such a huge part of my life, both as creative inspiration and just unadulterated fun, that it would be wrong of me not to include it on this list. I mean, I have the tracks memorized and synced up to the movies, to where I don't even need to have the movie playing to know what's going on. I don't know if that's sad or awesome, but I choose the latter over the former.

9) Amanda Palmer and The Grand Theft Orchestra - "Theatre Is Evil"
Say what you will about Amanda Palmer. Yes, she can be obnoxious and pretentious and dismissive and yet is somehow married to Neil Gaiman (??), but dammit, this album is excellent. I love her confidence, her experimental approaches to lyrics and musical themes, etc. It's not Dresden Dolls (thank GOD) and she's shown a lot of artistic growth since 2008's "Who Killed Amanda Palmer."

10) "Mass Effect" Series Soundtracks
I know, I know, another compilation of several soundtracks (there are, right now ... at least six?), but I don't care. I listen to at least one song from one of these once a day. I'm not kidding. I will just put my ME playlist on shuffle and go. My only gripe is with the ME3 soundtrack, where Clint Mansell, an amazing composer in his own right, got a ton of publicity for writing a whole two songs, while the smaller names developed the rest, and although Clint's additions ("Leaving Earth" and "An End, Once and For All") were spectacular, there were only two. Sam Hulick, Cris Velasco, Sasha Dikiciyan, and Christopher Lennertz did most of the work, and Sam Hulick even co-wrote "An End, Once and For All" with Mansell. But that's all politics. This entire series should be listened to by everyone because it is amazing.

Friday, November 8, 2013

Life with Pets: Afternoon Without the Pets - A One-Act Play

It is Saturday, a day of much mirth for the Three-Juju household, for it is a day that the humans have a chance to get out of the house and be together. The animals, however, are used to JUJU, who is clutching her vintage purse (a gift from her wonderful grandmother) happily, being there at all hours, free to give pets, food, and entertainment (like children). ZOLA frets by the back door, which leads to the car and to freedom, and BITSY sits on top of the fridge, curiously eyeing THREE and Juju. 

JUJU: Okay, did we turn off the upstairs light?
THREE: We're only going to be gone a couple of hours, Juju.
JUJU: I know, but still! Electricity!
THREE: Do you want me to go double check?
JUJU: Maybe.
THREE: Sigh.

Three makes his way offstage, mumbling the whole way, and both KITKAT and BINA enter, glancing around the kitchen warily.

KITKAT: Something is off.
BINA: Are we moving? I don't like moving? I am hungry?
KITKAT: I don't like this. Wait, where is the smallest furry; I'll take out my anxiety on her.
ZOLA: What's that word I like? Ride?? I think it's ride. Mommy, are we going for a ride?? I LOVE RIDES!!!

Zola flails about aimlessly and nearly knocks Juju off her feet. Bina darts under the little console table next to the door, where the food is naturally, and Kitkat hops on top of the washer, sitting defiantly on top of just-cleaned laundry. She sees a lonely dime sitting on the edge of the washing machine and blatantly, while keeping eye contact with Juju, knocks it to the floor.

KITKAT: The thing is on the floor now. You can't leave.
BINA: Hungry?
JUJU: Oh, come on.
BITSY: Wait, are you leaving??

Three comes back into the kitchen and grabs Kitkat from the washer, cradling her in his arms. 

THREE: We need to put her upstairs, too.
JUJU: Oh, that's right. Good call.

Since Kitkat has a habit of terrorizing Bitsy just because (Juju has come downstairs after hearing what sounded like death screams to a satisfied Kitkat and a scratched up Bitsy more times than she can count), she is usually banished to the second level with her own food and water bowls and litter box; oddly enough, she seems to prefer it, although she does scold Three and Juju whenever they return. 

KITKAT: Is this an "I'm taking you to give you a bath" carry or a "I'm sending you upstairs" carry? We both know what will happen if there is a bath involved.
THREE: Quit your bitching. You're going upstairs.

As she watches Three take Kitkat, Bina suddenly realizes what's going on. Her separation anxiety stems from her lack of access to food during the interim between leaving and returning.

BINA: But ... but ... hungry? Mommy? HUNGRY??
JUJU: I'll feed you when we get back.
JUJU: Calm down. You'll be fine.

Bitsy has since jumped down from the fridge and paces in front of the back door.

BITSY: Tyrannical Not-Friend can escape!
JUJU: You'll be fine, too. Three will shut the door nice and tight.
BITSY: I'll miss you! You are my mobile launching pad whenever you're in here!
JUJU: You jump perfectly well without my assistance.

By this time, Three has returned, a few scratches on his arms.

THREE: She protested.
JUJU: Of course.
ZOLA: We are going for the ride now?
JUJU: You guys have to stay here. We'll be back.

Bitsy climbs up Juju's leg and digs her claws into the purse.


Juju frustratedly removes each of Bitsy's talons from the purse and cuddles her, which seems to calm the little cat down. Bina sits stubbornly by the food canister and glances back and forth between it and her owners. 

BINA: Hungry.

Three and Juju make eye contact and nod. Three basically runs to the door and swings it open, blocking Zola's access to it with his foot, and Juju tosses Bitsy back onto the fridge and makes a break for the door. On his way to shut the door behind him, Zola manages to wedge her head far enough through the frame that he can't close it, and when he tries to push her head through, she barrels toward the car with glee.

JUJU: Zola! Get BACK here.

Zola doesn't hear her and instead runs spastically around the vehicle, trying to guess which door will magically open the world of Car Rides. 

THREE: Dammit.
JUJU: I'll get her. ZOLA.
ZOLA: Mommy?

Zola's ears flatten on her head and her eyes widen, like she's been caught eating cat shit out of the litter box again. Juju points to the back door, and Zola sighs as she plods back through it, disappointed with the lack of a ride. Juju shuts the door again, and she and Three smile happily. As they walk away, they hear a few knocks and the scratching of claws. When they turn around, they see Bitsy, dangling by her front paws as she stares out the back door's window and calls out to them desperately.


Juju and Three shrug and hop into the car, going on a date to Burger King.


Friday, November 1, 2013

Life with Pets: Walks - A One-Act Play

It is dusk - a time of wonder and also less hot than other times of the day. JUJU puts on her running shoes and places ZOLA's collar around her neck, preparing for yet another jaunt into the wilds of rural Tennessee. Zola is giddy because the collar and leash, which hangs in Juju's hand, always mean something good, and she bounces around like a rubber ball. 

JUJU: Stop moving, I'm trying to attach this leash to you.

The kitties, KITKAT, BINA, and BITSY stare curiously at the spectacle, as they have never understood Zola's enthusiasm for anything - except obviously food. That is always an exciting time. Bitsy sees Juju go over to the door and runs to it, wishing to escape to the outdoors and then to clamor when she wants back in because it is scary.

JUJU: No, Bitsy, stay inside. I'll be back in a bit.
JUJU: She probably will, but you've run your drills and you know where to go where she can't get to you.

Zola, having forgotten that a walk outside is imminent, has taken to smelling Kitkat's butthole, but once Kitkat discovers her transgression, she immediately swats at the unwitting bulldog, who gleefully believes the older cat desires playtime. 

KITKAT: I am having none of this. Where is Small Furry so I can attack her.
JUJU: Why is this my life?

Once the cats seemingly settle, Juju proceeds to take Zola for her daily walk around the neighborhood, first stopping in the back yard so the dog can do her business. 

JUJU: Come on, Zo. Poop and pee, please.
ZOLA: I do not have to. I would like to go walk now!
JUJU: We do this every time, and you always have to go when we get less than five steps away from our yard.
ZOLA: Not this time. I promise.
JUJU: Well ... okay. Let's go.

Oddly enough, Zola does not try to drop her butt to poop or pee after they leave the front yard, leaving Juju to nod her head in surprised approval. Instead, the dog pulls her along, trotting aimlessly in a sort of tracking way, which is strange, because ... well, bulldog. Not really a tracking animal. Zola nonchalantly surveys the road and the other yards they are passing, dragging her front paws like a lion and scraping her just-cut claws on the pavement. A block or so into their walk, the two pitbulls chained in a yard that usually bark at Juju when she's on her runs decide to do the same to Zola.

ZOLA: Friends?
JUJU: Come on, Zola.
ZOLA: But ... friends?

Once she is sufficiently far enough away that she no longer remembers that there are other dogs/friends, Zola is back to sniffing and looking at her surroundings. Then she gets an all too-familiar look in her eyes and sets her ears back on her head. 

ZOLA: I have to poop.
JUJU: Zola, keep on walking. We do not poop in other people's yards or in the street.
ZOLA: But ... but ... poop!
ZOLA: Sigh.

She arches her back a bit to keep herself from pooping, glancing sadly back at Juju, who just glares at her. Suddenly, a little turd pops out and she cowers a bit. 


Juju stops and fiddles through her jacket pocket, trying to find one of the little poop baggies she had stuffed in there. Unfortunately, the jacket she is wearing is not the one with the baggies in it, so Juju simply stares at the lone glooble on the side of the road. 

JUJU: Dammit.
ZOLA: I am sorry, Mommy. I had to poop.
JUJU: Well, we should turn around now and go back to the house so you can poop there.
ZOLA: (forlornly) Okay ...

The entire walk back, Zola walks like a duck, trying to hold in whatever feces are trying to escape (you have to say it like Dory in "Finding Nemo" - ES-CAHP-AY). She doesn't even notice the two pitbulls/friends that bark at them as they pass for the second time. It's only a short trip back, but it looks as if she might just pop, so Juju speeds up their pace. Zola perks up as the yard comes into view and starts to run. As they cross the threshold, Juju stops to let Zola off the leash, and the bulldog gleefully scampers into the yard, turns around, and plops into her play stance. 

JUJU: Don't you have to poop?

She runs to the porch and bounces a bit.

ZOLA: I can have food now?

Juju facepalms. And of course Bitsy, in an attempt to see outside, has ripped down the front door's curtain and is dangling by her front paws to look out the window.


Friday, October 25, 2013

Life with Pets: Sneak Attack - A One-Act Play

As the early Saturday morning sunlight beams through the edges of the blanket that hangs over the window close to the bed, JUJU sits up and yawns, stretching contentedly. THREE groans and pulls their comforter over his head, grumpy at both the early hour and the fact that he'd have to fully wake himself for another twelve-hour shift at his job. ZOLA, lying blissfully unaware at the end of the bed, pops her head up and begins to pant happily.

ZOLA: Mommy! It is food time!
JUJU: Come on, Zozo-bean. You hungry?

Hungry is one of the only words the Zola knows definitively, and she jumps off the bed in excitement, causing Three to groan again. BINA, sitting on Three's chest, perks up, as she is also attuned to this morning routine.

BINA: I am hungry?

Juju gets up out of bed, amused at these two animals, when a small white paw darts out from underneath the bed and attacks her ankles. 

JUJU: (angrily) Bitsy! Ow! That is not okay!
BITSY: (still underneath the bed) I AM A TIGER. 
JUJU: Ugh. 

BITSY pokes her head out from underneath the bed to investigate the goings-on. 

BITSY: Where is Tyrannical Not-Friend? I will not attempt to leave my spot unless I know it is safe. 

KITKAT sits atop the banister surrounding the steps leading downstairs, licking her paw. She rules her domain with an iron fist, unless Three or Juju remind her that she is simply a feline that is significantly smaller than they are. Although Bina does not seem to recognize her reign as anything more than, "Whatever, I'm going to boop your head, Kitkat," both Bitsy and Zola tread lightly around her. Kitkat notices Juju arising and meows in greeting.

KITKAT: I assume you will feed me now. My bowl is only half full, and this is not acceptable. 
JUJU: Come on, Kitkat. 

Juju makes her way down the stairs, with Kitkat and Zola following behind. Zola, of course, defers to Kitkat's path and allows her to descend first. Between the slats in the banister, Bina reaches out her paw to swipe at Juju's head as she walks by. 

BINA: I got you! I am hungry? 
BITSY: (from behind Bina) Is Tyrannical Not-Friend gone?
JUJU: Come on, you two!

Bina dutifully follows Juju's instructions, but Bitsy remains upstairs, warily awaiting another attack from Kitkat. 

In the kitchen, Bina nearly causes Juju to trip, an act that Zola completes by being (as always) in the way. From the living room, Bitsy peeks around the corner to survey the scene, as it has been nearly four hours since she was last assaulted by a dominating Kitkat. Bina plaintively mews as Juju scoops cat food into her bowl, and Kitkat merely glares. 

BINA: I am hungry? Hurry?
JUJU: Give me a second!
ZOLA: Food time yay!
JUJU: Zola, go sit over there!
KITKAT: Peasants. 

Once the food is in place, all of the animals are preoccupied with stuffing their faces, although Bitsy is nowhere to be seen. Juju goes to investigate. From out of nowhere, Bitsy flies at Juju with her arms and legs spreadeagle, launching at Juju's leg with her claws. 


Bitsy tears away into the kitchen with her tail held high and her ears back. However, she stops dead in her tracks when she catches Kitkat staring at her from atop the fridge. Her eyes widen, and she bolts at the Kitkat's instantaneous pursuit. 


Seemingly satisfied with herself, Kitkat returns to the kitchen to finish her breakfast, but as she passes Bina, Bina taps her head in punishment. 

BINA: That was not necessary.
KITKAT: I'm a cat. Nothing ever is.
BINA: True. Carry on.

It is now close to Three's wake up time, as it takes him nearly forty-five minutes to fully awaken from slumber, so Juju creeps upstairs, trying to keep the stairs from creaking with every step. Bitsy, who has taken refuge on top of the banister, eyes her curiously, as Juju crawls on her hands and knees across the floor toward the bed. Three is snoring again, and Juju peeks over the edge of the bed and sing-songily whispers to him.

JUJU: Oh, hoooooooneyyyyyyyy ...
THREE: mumblegrumble

Juju launches into the air.



Friday, October 18, 2013

Life With Pets: Dog Soccer - A One-Act Play

It is Saturday morning in the Three-Juju household, and THREE is happily making breakfast, whisking gluten-free pancake batter (thanks, Bisquick!) in a gleeful frenzy. However, he notices that he might need some more rice milk (shut up, Juju has food allergies and does not drink that shit because it tastes good) to aid in the making of Awesome Pancakes and makes his way to the fridge. 

ZOLA, the lovable yet clueless bulldog, takes his movement as an invitation for pets. Completely out of his line of sight, she lumbers toward him and gets tangled in his steps, sending both sprawling onto the freshly mopped floor (shut up, Juju doesn't always think when she does things). 

THREE: (as he falls to the ground) Dear GOD, Zola!!
ZOLA: Daddy is petting me with his feet. Yay!!
JUJU: (off stage) Are you okay?
THREE: Yeah ... call the dog.
JUJU: Zola!
ZOLA: Mommy!

As easily distracted as she is, Zola looks toward Mommy's voice but realizes that Three is standing up. She again trots in his direction, directly in his path. When he accidentally kicks her, she stops and stares forlornly at him. 

ZOLA: Daddy?
THREE: Zola! Get out of the kitchen!
ZOLA: He said my name! I do not know the other words, though. I shall stay.

The three cats decide to investigate. BITSY, the youngest, leaps onto the counter, both intrigued by the making of food and desirous of avoiding KITKAT (aka Tyrannical Not-Friend), who follows close behind. BINA, who realizes that there is nothing in the kitchen that is of interest to her, turns around to go back to bothering Juju about cat food and head scratches. 

BITSY: Hm, I wonder if this white stuff tastes like Glucerna*.
THREE: Bitsy, no!

He bops her on the head with a towel, and she argues with him in the only way she knows how. She insistently keeps poking her head in the bowl and meows in protest when he pushes her away.


Three goes to pick her up and take her into the living room, but Zola has yet again placed herself in his way. For the third time, he trips over her, this time his shin coming into contact with her head. This obviously means play time. 

ZOLA: (crouching) Daddy!
THREE: Zola! GOD!! Go ... that way. I don't even care. Just get out of the way!
ZOLA: Daddy!!

When he does not start playing with her, Zola begins pouting and plops on the floor, sighing. Unfortunately, her choice of spots is, again, in Three's path. Again, he nearly tumbles to the ground but catches himself, while Zola is knocked about a foot away. And again, she is thrilled that he is petting her in some way. 

THREE: Okay, seriously. Zo. La. You need to move!
ZOLA: Excitement!! I will run in circles around you!!

Three tries frantically to balance himself as Zola whirls around the kitchen, occasionally knocking her head into his shins and calves, which only whips her into a further frenzy. JUJU finally comes in from the living room, holding a rather content Bina in her arms. Bitsy is thrilled to see her, as Juju is the one who initially saved her from two giant tomcats who wanted to make her into a meal, and jumps from the counter to greet her.

BITSY: Mommy!
JUJU: Hey, Bitsy. What's going on in -

Kitkat has seized the opportunity to launch herself at Bitsy.


Both Three and Juju watch after them and feel secure after Bitsy leaps onto a high spot where Kitkat will not follow, and Kitkat seems appeased.

JUJU: So what's going on in her?
THREE: Zola has helped me invent a new sport: dog soccer.


* Juju once spilled some Glucerna because of Bitsy's playfulness and created a monster. Now everything that comes from a bottle could be Glucerna and the six-pound kitty will battle you for it.

Monday, October 14, 2013


As a person of color in the U.S., do you wake up in the morning, wondering what bit of injustice you should be irrationally mad about that day? Should you rant against appropriation of your culture at Halloween or go with the old standby of institutionalized racism? Are you put off more by the way your race is portrayed in the media or by how you are assumed to have a certain job because of your ethnic background? Do you bang your head against the wall when choosing between stop-and-frisk and voter registration laws?

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Helpful hints include: 
  • If it doesn't affect white people, it's not important! Ignore!
  • If in doubt whether or not something should be discussed in regards to race, ask the closest white person. They will undoubtedly be willing to help you with your conundrum. 
  • Talking about the privilege that white people are culturally given makes white people uncomfortable, so obviously, anything that touches on that subject shouldn't even be talked about. 
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