A Jury of your Peers

“A Jury of your Peers” Pt 2

In cases you missed Part 1: http://tinygrenade.com/2013/11/23/a-jury-of-your-peers-pt-1/

She stood there, holding her gun in her shaking hand as if by pointing it at me she’d miraculously calm down. It was dark out but her bright blonde hair shone through the darkness, it was the only feature of hers I could make out in the night. She was wearing a trench coat that concealed her figure and the darkness of night consumed her face, making it featureless. The gun, well I could make that out just fine. Its barrel was staring me down and begging me to make a sudden movement so it could scream out again with a bullet. Continue reading

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Weekly Album

Bastille’s “Bad Blood” and why all music doesn’t sound alike

BastilleBadBloodArt600“Everything sounds the same.”

Really? Everything? I don’t know about you but that sounds a bit extreme to me. I’ve heard a lot of complaints from the internets that music today sounds alike in many ways. Not all of it, that’d be impossible, but chunks of it. Perhaps the world has forgotten what a genre is, or perhaps people are unwilling to expand their musical tastes. Either way, I just don’t see the argument that “all music sounds the same”. Continue reading

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Book Chat

“Smarter Than You Think”, a book that defends technology in an age of haters

smarter-than-you-thinkWe all want to believe that technology is helping us, not hurting us, right? Well Clive Thompson, a columnist for Wired and New York Times Magazine decided to defend this opinion. In Thompson’s book, Smarter Than You Think, he takes a deep look into the world of technology and humanity’s approach to it all. The doomsayers out their sing the songs of our memories being reduced to rubble, our ability to talk face-to-face fading into nothingness, and our overall creativity and imagination disappearing before our eyes. Continue reading

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A Jury of your Peers

“A Jury of your Peers” Pt 1

Christ that hurt.

Being invincible has its perks, that’s for sure, but being shot in the arm still hurts like a son of a bitch. I make it a point to not get shot too often but what can you do? Ever since the new Advanced Samaritan Act came into effect my life has been a constant stream of hiding from the cops, saving people when I have to, and numbing the pain when I can. You see, I’m classified in a group that this world calls “Homo sapiens B”.  It’s a stupid name, I know that and so does everyone else, but it took an awfully long time to come up with a name that stuck. Continue reading

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Making Connections

3 Unconventional Books on Bullying

me and my puppy amigo and science project and wallpapers 320When a group of high school girls pick on the wrong loser they end up paying the price tenfold. Carrie is a chilling tale about bullying, adolescence, and the ticking time bomb that goes unbeknownst to most. Bullying has become quite the topic in both conversation and novels. Anyone looking into the subject is sure to hear of books like; Wonder, Sticks and Stones, and Confessions of a Former Bully. These are all highly praised books that are sure to show the essence of bullying and its effects but what about the concept in practice, where it’s not center stage. To notice bullying in a novel that focuses on the topic is the idea, it’s what the novel was made for. But to notice the vile act in a sea of other events is what noticing bullying is all about. Below are three unconventional books that I think teach great lessons on bullying and how to go about fighting it.

  1. Motherless Brooklyn by Jonathan Lethem: In this novel the main character, Lionel, is a Tourettic limousine driver whose outbursts cause his coworkers and boss to laugh at his misfortune. The majority of the novel focuses on Lionel breaking through his own boundaries and slowly untwisting a sinister plot, but Lionel’s bullying takes a prominent back seat to the main narrative. His boss calls him a freak show and only hires him because he finds his tick so entertaining. Lionel calls out words that sound similar to those he hears at random, leading to laughter from his coworkers. After a time his coworkers and boss find the tick to be annoying and begin to bully Lionel for it. While the issue is never addressed as a clear case of bullying, that is indeed what is happening. Lionel is made to feel isolated, alone, and weak and the only thing that helps him cope is his determination to prove himself.
  2. A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Marting; I know that this is an odd title to see in this category but if you think about it, it’s pretty obvious. Bran, son of Eddard Stark, and heir to a great Northern Kingdom called Winterfell is a cripple. At a young age the boy fell from a window and could never walk again, not in his own body anyway. Both royalty and commoners alike treat the prince as though he is a malfunctioning toy; they talk behind his back, snicker at his horse riding contraption, and sometimes call him names right to his face. Bran’s constant struggle against his physical shortcoming, in a world of kings and warriors, is an understated part of this huge and expansive story. Even so, the series let’s you know that Bran will fight back against the comments by utilizing something he can do that no one else can. Finding that secret talent is often the best weapon against bullying.
  3. The Goldfinch by Donna Tartt; Theo Decker is unlike the previous characters I’ve mentioned; he’s not crippled, he has no condition, and he’s not really bullied by a person. Theo represents something more in the world of bullying, someone who is mistreated and mishandled by society. When people think of bullying they picture a larger child picking on a smaller child, that’s the typical mental image. If that is the case with Theo in The Goldfinch then that larger child is society and its inadequacies. Theo loses his mother at a young age and is pushed into a life he never asked for. Those around him don’t know how to talk to him due to societal differences and as the novel progresses he becomes more and more isolated. It’s never a single bully or fiend running the show, but instead an entire society that has failed to adjust.

So there you have it; they may not be books on bullying but they are great reads that have the bullying idea behind the scenes. That sort of nuanced bullying, the type that isn’t at the forefront of a novel, is sometimes hard to realize and pinpoint. I believe that when it is pinpointed it can become a powerful revelation into the act, showing new ways of combating it and realizing its presence. Let me know if you think I’m crazy for picking these books (you big bully) or if you’d recommend any other uncommon titles in the realm of bullying.

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Book Chat

Never, ever bully a telekinetic person!

carrieOh Carrie White, what can be said about you that hasn’t been dissected, criticized, and theorized in the past? Of all the novels Stephen King has written over the years, and there are quite a few, Carrie is still considered a beloved and popular choice for “Best King Novel”. I read Carrie when I was in middle school and had no real way of understanding its meaning, symbolism, or intelligent writing style. Back then I thought it was a story about the bullied student getting the last laugh using some cool telekinetic powers. Now? Well now I see Carrie as an intelligently written story filled with terror, human emotion, and some of my favorite story progression in a novel.

Carrie White is an odd case; she’s not hyper-intelligent, she’s not pretty, she’s not witty, and she doesn’t really have any friends. Carrie is bullied at school by the popular girls, as is the case with high school students, and no one really has her back. At home, Carrie is assaulted and screamed at by her fanatically Christian mother who hides the world from her daughter. Concepts like sex, menstrual cycles, and the female anatomy are lost on Carrie who lives a sheltered and strangulating existence. What’s the upside of this poor girl’s case? There has to be one, right? Well, as it turns out, Carrie White posses the power of telekinesis. With a flex of her brain the outcast can lift and manipulate whatever she wills. Of course, mixing a bullied schoolgirl and TK seems like a terrible combination and what follows is a novel filled with such an up that only a tremendous down can match it.

Terror is hard to capture in writing as authors don’t get the bonuses of camera cuts and soundtracks. I’m not saying it’s easy to bottle up terror in a film, it takes creativity and talent, but to do so in writing is an art form. Being able to write a character that makes a reader wince or a scene that makes a reader cringe takes patience and talent. Carrie manages to capture that raw feeling by making believable characters, at least for the time period. It’s a bit of a circular revelation as it’s the story progression I’ll mention later that allows the characters to feel so natural. Characters like Sue Snell get sidebars of sorts that allow them to explain their positions from a future prospective. This gives the action of the character a different prospective, making no one person seem like the “bad guy” in the end. That humanity in the characters makes the massacre at the end of Carrie all the more terrifying. If you don’t know what happens at the end of the novel you should probably come out from your rock and read the damn book.

Of course, the words Carrie and terror can’t be mentioned without the name Margaret White. Carrie’s mother is the definition of insanity, cruelty, and unyielding faith. A woman who was raped by her husband, the act that bore Carrie, terrorized by her telekinetic grandmother, and stuck believing in a faith others judge her for. As a fanatic Christian, Margaret terrorizes Carrie with all sorts of sick and outdated punishments. Forcing Carrie to pray for forgiveness, locking her in a dark closet with a freaky crucifix, and generally beating her daughter to teach her the Word. It’s all very uncomfortable to read and yet King pulls you in further.

Emotion, another rarity that authors hunt for throughout the writing process. Sure, you can write that someone is sad, happy, or angry but to get the nuances of emotion is something else. Carrie has those nuances and then some as you feel what Carrie feels along with the rest of the cast throughout the novel. Even the principal, a small character in the grand scheme of things, has a tick that makes you understand and really feel his character better than some cookie cutter principal. Carrie, of course, is the star of the show and her every move is detailed in such a way that I felt sympathetic, empathetic, and telepathically linked to her at every turn. Ok, that last one is probably not true but it sure felt like it. Right up until the moment the bucket falls I felt myself rooting for the home team, wanting this poor girl to get the life she wanted.

My favorite part of Carrie, besides the telekinesis of course, has to be the sides-stories that run parallel to the main plot. Magazine articles, excerpts from books written by experts and people who lived the events of the novel, and scientific studies litter the pages as you move through Carrie. Some shed light onto the actual thinking of characters while others foreshadow events that are still to come in the novel. I never felt as though these pieces of information spoiled anything. Instead, I often felt like they made me read more as I wanted to find out what the hell these articles were talking about. They would mention the death of someone or the plotting nature of so and so and I had to find out who, why, and what it all meant. Carrie leads the reader with a tasty carrot on a not-so-long string as the novel is only around 250 pages and is a quick and satisfying read. If you’re in the mood for an intense thriller filled with the style Stephen King is known for, read Carrie.

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Making Connections

3 Tips for staying on The Slow Carb Diet

As I mentioned in an earlier post, the Slow Carb Diet from Tim Ferriss’s The 4 Hour Body was one of the most successful eating plans I’ve ever used. Actually, it’s the only type of eating plan I used besides “eat three meals a day and don’t eat snacks”. While the latter certainly helped me lose weight, the former helped me lose weight fast. As someone who has been on the diet a few different times I have a different view of it than I did when I first went on it back in 2012. What follows are three tips I’ve found throughout my time on the Slow Carb Diet that I think will help just about anyone stay focused, motivated, and losing (weight that is).

  1. Think of it as a lifestyle- Ferriss mentions this in his book but it’s a point that really needs to be drilled home. I don’t know if saying “this is how many points I get per day” is a viable lifestyle, but saying “I won’t eat carbs six days a week” seems more doable. By not thinking of it as a “diet” you remove the idea that you’re doing this for a specific purpose. What you’re also achieving by calling it a lifestyle is disregarding the notion that this is something you’ll stop at some point. As a follower, and dropper, of the Slow Carb lifestyle I can tell you that the minute you get off the eating plan you’ll start gaining weight. Tell yourself that this is just the way you eat now, no different than a vegetarian or Paleo lifestyle, and it’ll be a lot easier.
  2. Don’t live for Cheat Day, live for the health benefits- When I first went on Slow Carb I was doing it for the wrong reason. What I wanted was an excuse to binge eat once a week; consuming candy, chips, junk food, and fast food as I desired in the span of 24 hours. I realize now that a mindset like that is a surefire way to ruin this plan altogether. By living for the cheat day you’re making your brain, and yourself, hate the other six days of the week when you’re eating healthy food. Instead of living for that one day try enjoying the other six and all of the health benefits that come from them. The feeling of health you’ll get from Slow Carb is extraordinary and once you can love the healthy days you’ll fall into a natural grove.
  3. Eat “good” bad food on Cheat Day- Cheat Day cometh and Jon is hungry. When I first started on the diet I ate EVERYTHING I could possibly get my hands on. I was also in college so this meant; McDonalds, candy that was on sale at CVS, potato chips, ice cream, and other relative garbage. By the end of the day I felt awful, sick to my stomach usually, and this typically carried over into the next day as well. It was too big a price to pay and so I’ve learned how to fix that problem. On my cheat days I only eat “good” bad food. What this means is eating bakery pastries, two at the maximum, restaurant-type food such as burgers or pasta, pizza from an actual pizzeria, and so on. By keeping the food real and wholesome, despite the high calories, I not only feel better but the stomach pain never shows up. Instead, I feel full for a day and that’s that. Snacking on industrial garbage is an easy way to not only ruin Slow Carb but also ruin the cheat day that gives you the freedom to eat anything.

I hope that these tips lend themselves to anyone wanting to try out the Slow Carb Lifestyle. It’s a unique form of eating that really does work and giving it a try for a month or two will do no harm. Just remember, the lifestyle is about more than eating less carbs to binge on them one day a week. It’s a lifestyle that is filled with health benefits and taking advantage of them is the most important thing.

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Writing

4 Ideas to make writing more actionable

the-4-hour-body-20101207-134157No one enjoys a funsize candy bar, if you do than you’re just fooling yourself. Let’s be honest here; funsize means less candy, less enjoyment, and before you know it the satisfaction is gone. This goes for a lot of things; it’s why we clamor for an encore after a good concert, why we wish a movie was just a little bit longer, and why we get bummed out when a TV series is canceled early in its lifespan. However, we live in a world with vast amounts of information and all of that information can be overwhelming. When an author tries to get his work written it can be laborious and cumbersome. Most people just don’t have the time or don’t want to make the effort to make the time because their lives seemed swamped with other things. That’s why Tim Ferriss’s approach in The 4 Hour Body is one of the only examples of funsize being the ideal delivery method. Continue reading

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Book Chat

Beans = Abs?

the-4-hour-body-20101207-134157I have a hard time buying into self-help books and books that will make you “a better version of you” and all that stuff. Books on productivity and knowledge I enjoy but books about dieting, health, and manipulating the human body just don’t excite me much. That’s why I found it so surprising when I fell in love with The 4 Hour Body by author Tim Ferriss. Continue reading

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Graphic Novel Friday

Graphic Novel Friday: Picture-Books for Adults!

Fridays are meant for hanging out with friends, relishing the coming weekend, and giving off that “relax” vibe. That’s why I want to dial back the book talk and talk about graphic novels, comics, and whatever else you want to call them. So many comics come out each week from major and independent publishers that I figured I’d pick a few while also recommending a graphic novel you can pick up at your local library. Comics are a tough beast to get into for many people; all they see at the store or on the digital platform is a list of titles and issues. I’m here to simplify that list and say “hey, comics are cool…here’s how to get into ‘em”. Continue reading

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