Jennifer E. Smith’s This Is What Happy Looks Like

Happy looks like sunrises over the harbor, ice cream on a hot day, the sound of the waves down the street, the way my dog curls up next to me on the couch, evening strolls, great movies, thunderstorms, a good cheese burger, Fridays, Saturdays, Wednesdays, sticking your toes in the water, pajama pants, flip-flops, swimming, poetry. What does it look like to you?

This is What Happy Looks Like

Ellie and Graham has been exchanging emails for a few months, sharing details about their lives, hopes, and dreams, but they don’t even know each other’s first name. Young movie star, Graham Larkin, jumps at an opportunity to visit the hometown of a girl he’s met on the internet to try to take their relationship from online to irl. Small-town girl, Ellie O’Niell, on the other hand, isn’t one to draw attention to herself. She’s been pretty content in the middle of nowhere with her mom and friends all her life; and besides, she’s got the summer poetry course at Harvard to worry about.

This is What Happy Looks Like is a young adult, romance novel from Jennifer E. Smith. Although I am generally not a fan of these kinds of fiction, the book is surprisingly not very difficult to get invested in. The peek into the online exchanges of Ellie and Graham, though nothing new, is a nice touch. The unsent drafts at the beginning of part 2 broke my heart. Smith did a great job with writing the characters, especially the mom; she, to me, was the most relatable. Smith’s descriptives and dialogue are consistently animated. I absolutely enjoyed the exchange between Ellie and her mother during the Fourth of July celebration.

Of the few things I thought the novel could’ve worked on was revealing how much exactly Ellie and Graham knew about each other before they met. Also, the writing, at times, especially in the first part, felt a little forced. Ellie’s appreciation for poetry, for example, just came out of nowhere and Graham’s reveal to Quinn was uneventful. Dividing the novel into two parts was unnecessary. I’m sure there would’ve been a more subtle way to show the passing of time. The plot, later, becomes a little too complicated and by then, all I wanted was for a denouement that didn’t call for some cheesy deus ex machina (which, thankfully, it didn’t).

This is What Happy Looks Like didn’t leave me with much, but that’s maybe because I’m not into the genre. It is a lighthearted, romance novel and for that, it is pretty good. It had me invested in the story and characters; and though a bit bland, it did have a satisfying ending. I honestly would pass on another Smith novel if something more my speed was available, but if you enjoy reading about young love and all its complications, the book is definitely worth picking up. There is also a sequel novella called Happy Again if you have read the book and are interested in more.

Josh Tierney’s Warm Blood

There is a killer at Greenwood High. His name is Logan Filigree. Who is the killer at Greenwood High?

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Warm Blood is an ongoing web comic by Josh Tierney. It features the art of Saskia Gutekunst, Joysuke, Jane Bak, Naomi Franquiz, Winston Young, Marina Julia, Leiana Nitura, Oliver Pichard, and many others. The story follows Penny in her first year at Greenwood High and a murder that coincidentally occurred the same day.

At a glance, the comic is very overwhelming. Between the constantly changing art style, choppy conversation, and confusing storytelling, the comic takes a little getting used to. Though the story and cast are very compelling, I found it hard to push past the first, few pages. However, after getting used to the complexities of the comic, I found myself itching to find why everyone is so indifferent to the murders.

For the few chapters already published, Warm Blood has a surprising amount of re-readability. There are barely enough clues to make sense of what is going on that I couldn’t help but to go over everything multiple times. There are also an enjoyable amount of pop culture within the dialogue and art. Most surprises come out the most innocent of panels. The amazing character design from Afu Chan, is also worth a mention seeing that the characters are still recognizable across the always changing art style.

With what’s published so far, Warm Blood is definitely worth reading. Though it takes a little something out of you just to get through the first few pages, the payoff of noticing something beyond the foreground is worth the time. You can start reading the web comic here.

Deciphered in Carbon [Poetry]

Through death; post-grim
Her voice still ring.
In still she instilled
A steady growing din.

Unspoken words, uncovered.
They claim:
A secret, her secret:
one’s to be seen.

Rest, she’ll never.
By restless words, she lives.
Unawake till never
The sun set again.

Another piece to the puzzle:
her unknowable mind.
For the brute to dismember;
And the layman to deplete.

© coversonyourbed

Word count: 61
Unseen Sylvia Plath Poems Deciphered in Carbon Paper

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Paramore- Hard Times

A month back I was so psyched to hear that Paramore was writing music again; not so much now that it’s out.

Hard Times, posted late last week on Fueled by Ramen’s official YouTube account, is the first single for Paramore’s After Laughter, which comes out May 12th.

The first time I listened to the song, I had to check twice to see if I was listening to the right track. The seven second jungle boogie percussion is so out of place even with that stylized transition. The dance vibe of the single takes a bit of getting used to but gets stale after a few times on repeat. The bridge takes it down to a very off-putting mood, and I don’t even know what the hell that pseudo daft punk breakdown is doing there. I do appreciate the glum lyrics contrasted with the jumpy music. Though nothing new, it’s a nice touch and is one of the few things I like about the release.

The MV is a mess and I don’t know which audience they had in mind for this. Have I been so lost in touch with what’s “It” that the minimalistic hipster visual has been replaced with retro-psychedelic-neon-clutter without me noticing. Don’t even argue that this is vaporwave aesthetics because the visuals on this is not even on the same continent as that.

Aside from Hayley’s iconic vocals, there isn’t a trace of Paramore in this track. There are, understandably, some changes that will occur along with the not-so-tragic (sorry, not sorry) breakup, but blaming this mess on that alone is lazy and sad. I’m not going to discredit all the well-deserved support this comeback has because Paramore did influence the scene greatly, but I’m certainly hoping that this will not be the theme of the forthcoming album. Till After Laughter comes out, I’m just praying this won’t be the summer anthem of 2017.

Quest- Walang Hanggan

Jose Villanueva III, better known as Quest, released a music video for his single, Walang Hanggan, on his official YouTube channel late last month.

Walang Hanggan is a fresh step away from Quest’s signature RnB vibe. Musically, the track couldn’t be any more perfect. The heavy piano backed by the despondent heartbeats and eerie strings create a perfect stage for Quest’s soulful vocals.

Noong ika’y nilalamig, ako’y iyong init
Kapag takot sa bukas, ako’mg unang sisilip
Ginawa ko na ang lahat
Di pa din sapat kasi ika’y mawawala na
Nawalan ng gana ang tadhana
Nanlamig ‘yong dating nagbabaga

The lyrics, as with most of Quest’s music, are very inspired. The helplessness of holding onto an ending relationship couldnt be any more clearer in his metaphors.

Iindahin ko ang sakit na gumuguhit
Ngingiti sa likod ng luhang pumupunit
Baka masulyapan mo yung dulo
Kasi sabi mo walang hanggan, ba’t merong dulo?
Ibibigay ko ang lahat paulit-ulit
Bawat pagkakataon ay aking isususlit
Basta matalikuran mo yung dulo

The video is just as amazing although I think it should be watched only after hearing the song at least once. It’s an amazing concept and has a stunning twist at the end which deserves as much attention as the song. I very much appreciated the level of detail put into that MV. That one heavy sigh after he says ‘I’ll be fine’ right before the heartbeats start was too painfully familiar.

‘Wag ka munang tumalikod. Bumalik ka muna dito
Padampi kahit anino. Ayokong mag-isa dito
Wala na bang bisa aking dalangin?
Tinataboy na ba ng langit? Nakikiusap na lang sa hangin

For updates on this and future releases follow Quest on Twitter and subscribe to his YouTube channel. I am especially looking forward to a set of future MVs he’s teased on a twitter post.

Haruki Murakami’s The Strange Library

The Strange Library is a short story by best-selling author, Haruki Murakami. The illustrated novel is about a boy who gets himself trapped inside a labyrinthine library. There, he meets a sheep-man and a girl who talks with her hands and they plan to escape the wicked librarian.

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The Strange Library is a relatively short story. I finished reading the book in little over an hour but it took me a while to really digest the story. It is filled with more than a handful of confusing parallelism. It’s a great story, in that it leaves readers with a lot to think about.

Though short, the book is incredibly descriptive for its length. The mood during my first read-through was really heavy. Murakami made sure the reader would share in the boy’s anxiety and confusion. The mood during succeeding reads however, becomes tamer as I was reading to find answers instead of delving into the story.

The book itself is strange. The novel is bound by flaps that open vertically and there was more than one type size and color throughout the book. In a way it is very refreshing, and it’s reminded me how I’ve forgotten how to read books with pictures. The version I have is the one designed by Chip Kidd. There is an edition with illustrations from Ted Gossen which I would very much like to read soon.

If you are familiar with Haruki Murakami’s quirky narrative style, then I would definitely recommend picking up this book. If you, however, can’t tough it through Hard-Boiled Wonderland and the End of the World, or haven’t read any of his books yet, The Strange Library may not be the best novel to start with.

New Found Glory- Happy Being Miserable

New Found Glory released the official music video for their new single, Happy Being Miserable, earlier this week.

Carried your burdens in my heart
Sidelined your shallow ways
It just tore me apart
I used to think I was your savior
I see through you now
You indulge in this behavior

New Found Glory has already built for themselves a permanent spot in the pop-punk scene and this track is nothing more than the band doing what they do. Pop-punk has taken a backseat to post-hardcore and OPM (among too-obscure-to-mention) tracks in my current playlists, and this track is an amazing reintroduction to the genre. It has this carefree vibe that just sends nostalgia through me.

I don’t want to know you
I don’t think we should talk anymore
I want the best for you
But you’re happy being miserable
I don’t want to know you
Or someone who’s so focused on themselves
I’ll save my best for someone else

The hard hitting riffs of this track just take me back. Happy Being Miserable is a gateway to the angsty world of pop-punk, if you haven’t already been introduced to it; but if you have, it’s a scary reminder that pop-punk probably isn’t a phase and you’ll never ever grow out of it (ugh). Some would say this is just another NFG track but you can’t really go wrong with power beats and power chords. And if that vocal breakdown on the final chorus doesn’t hit the last nail on your nostalgia coffin, nothing ever will.

The video is hilarious. It has a softcore fourth wall break with the intro and cutaway narration which gets me every time. The shock factor of pie vomit definitely ups the rewatchability.

Happy Being Miserable will be on New Found Glory’s upcoming album Makes Me Sick, dated to be released on the 28th of April. Check out the song on Spotify for free.

Maude- Habol

Sadyang walang saklolo sa pusong bulag

I’ve had this song on repeat for the past three days and it never failed to send chills down my spine. I’ve always been adventurous when listening to new music, even with music I don’t immediately like. I listen to a new song over and over until I grow to like it more, get tired of it, or establish my hatred for it. This song, however, had an eerie familiarity to it. The first time I listened to the song, it was as if some stranger just came into my room, picked out my favorite book off the shelf, and just read to me on the bed – it felt right.

Araw araw, pag gising, tulala
Bago matulog, umiiyak

Maude is a three-piece, pop-rock group that has been gracing the scene since 2012. Habol is an instant classic, released mid-year of 2016, that I wish I had known about sooner.

Tama bang manghabol sa tanging tao
Na kaya kang saktan?

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Ang nag-iisang taong may alam kung paano ka saktan
Ay siya ring nag-iisang tao
Na hindi mo makayang iwan

On the surface, Habol may seem like a simple track which isn’t a bad thing, especially in this case as it lets the poetic lyrics stand front and center. A more intimate listen would reveal the subtle intricacy of the track. I especially enjoyed the sudden crescendo towards the breakdown that comes crashing in after a short pause. True to the lyrics, just like bouts of sadness, it comes in almost without warning.

The video, as with the track, is extremely detailed as well. The way they had to walk backwards to make it look like they were moving forward when reversed throughout the filming of the video is an achievement by itself.

Bakit hindi ka parin matalino?

Follow Maude on Facebook and Twitter for updates on this and future releases. I’d also like to give a shout out to Tangled Musings. I wouldn’t have come across this awesome song if it weren’t for the OPM Artist Recommendation post for Maude.

Moonstar88- Itulog Mo Na Yan

I honestly enjoyed Moonstar88’s new single, Itulog Mo Na Yan, more than I think I would.

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Released late last week, I went in expecting Moonstar88’s signature cutesy,

Ayokong sanang pakinggan mga pa-cute na hirit mo
Kasi minsan kinikilig parin ako

cheesy,

Wag mo naman sanang paglaruan ang damdamin
Kung sumpungin

and bittersweet lyrics,

Akala ko tapos na ang lahat sa ating dalawa
Diba sabi mo mag move-on ka na
Bakit ngayon kahit hating-gabi
Nagteteks ka pa ng ‘musta, sinta?’

however, this one line I really can’t get over

Parang lumpia na hubad
At binalot sa kanin
Na maasim

Rather than making the track sound tacky, the corny lyrics actually gave it more character.

I couldn’t help but fall in love with the sweet bass riff at the refrain. The generic solo is nothing new for the band but is made up for by the heavily stylized melody.

I enjoyed the track in all its cheesiness. I tuned in for a quick review but I might include this in my playlist now. I think what it is, more than anything, is me being happy I was able to find time to (sort of) get back into the scene and write about it.

Itulog Mo Na Yan is available on Spotify. Follow Moonstar88 on Facebook for updates on this and the forthcoming album. You can also check out this on point lyric video by MrHappyMan0123 on Youtube.

Padstow’s Farewell (Sea Shanty)

Sea Shanties are maritime work songs sung to keep rhythm and make ship work pleasant. These usually talked of a sailor’s everyday life including work, bottles of rum, and longing for home and girls. They are usually sung in a call-and-response format with simple lyrics. With the dream of finding your fortune across the vast sea, communal singing, and musical story telling I don’t see what’s not to like about shanties.

This particular shanty, called Padstow’s Farewell, is about sailing away. I thought it appropriate as we sail away from the past year and into the new one.

It is time to go now
Haul away your anchor
Haul away your anchor
It’s our sailing time

This particular version is from Assassins Creed IV: Black Flag. It is my favorite game in the series because of the sailing and naval mechanic and you get to play as a pirate captain and commandeer your own ship.

As you brave this vast new sea that is 2017, remember – like the sailors of old, that there is music to keep you in rhythm as you haul and shove to keep your ship afloat.

When your sailing’s over
Haul away for Heaven
Haul away for Heaven
God be by your side

Here’s a rendition of another shanty by a group called The Eskies.