Have you known a Benedict, Nasir, or Gerald before?

Or, as they’re more frequently referred to in Randy Ribay’s novel After the Shot Drops, have you ever known or been a Bunny, Nas, or Wallace?  The talented athlete who changes schools for a better chance at a future without telling your best friend, who then proceeds to give you the silent treatment and spends all of his time with his morally suspect cousin?  Well, if you haven’t, consider yourself lucky that you’ve never had to deal with feeling betrayed by your best friend, who didn’t tell you he was going to transfer to a private school and leaving you to have nobody to hang out with but your technically distant cousin whose lack of judgment but compassion for a kitten never ceases to astound you.


I really liked Randy Ribay’s Patron Saints of Nothing and wanted to read something else by him, so I picked up his book about teenage male friendships, basketball, and consequences of decisions.  After the Shot Drops is told in present tense and alternates between the perspectives of Bunny and Nasir as they try to rebuild their friendship and contend with the aftermath of Wallace’s poor decision-making skills.  Nasir’s cousin is the least sympathetic character, but he’s the most dynamic.  Bunny is more fleshed-out than Nasir, who comes across solely as narrative gel than an actual “person,” as far as characters in books can be more than how they move along the story.

On the whole, I liked Patron Saints of Nothing much more because I cared more about the narrator and the story was more engaging.  I’m glad I decided to give After the Shot Drops a shot, though, because there were many passages that evoked such a sense of rightness of conviction… that yes, I’m sure more of us think this way but we might also avoid confrontation so not much is going to change in society, eh?  For example, Nasir brings up the possibility with his mom that Wallace could live with them until he figures things out, but his mom is not enthusiastic.

Nasir narrates, “But I know from experience that her maybe is basically a no, and my heart feels a long way from good.  Anger courses through me.  Anger at Wallace’s landlord.  Anger at his shitty parents.  Anger at my own parents, my own small house.  Anger at Bunny, St. Sebastian’s, and the unfairness of his world that tells us to help each other but thrives on us not helping each other” (43).

Bunny has a good moment with this observation as well with, “It’s kind of stupid, I know, but I remember thinking that our lives must be something like that.  Like when we’re alive, we’re stuck down in that forest, lost in the trees, lost in the dark.  But when we die, we find ourselves up on a ridge, looking out over every moment we lived.  Everything would make so much sense.  Point A.  Point B.  The path we took.  The path we should have taken” (202).

The issues that Bunny and Nasir have with each other makes me think of this song by Corbyn.

You found me in the lost again
I’m broken but you’re in my head
I know it’s hard to let me in
All the fire but you’re in my bed
And I don’t know if it’s wrong or right
But you met me at the strangest time
Can we make it through the other side
After all I’m sure that you’ll decide
And I know you hated all the silent nights
Maybe I was selfish not too dignified
But I couldn’t say couldn’t say couldn’t say
Everything I tried so hard to hide

Cuz I didn’t have the heart to tell you what I’ve been going through
And I didn’t have the fucking heart to take you to a place that’s been so blue
I couldn’t tell you why
I lie

Everyday was something new and the further I kept falling down
If something so beautiful can turn on me
Then what would stop the bleeding right now
So I know you gonna hate this fucking part
But I needed to find myself in something else so I
Wouldn’t break apart
And I never thought I’d see you again

Cuz I didn’t have the heart to tell you what I’ve been going through
And I didn’t have the fucking heart to take you to a place that’s been so blue
I couldn’t tell you why
I lie

So go ahead and tell me everything you want
I’ll be just fine
I can hardly put together all the pieces
But give me the sign
Yeah I’ll be alright
I’ll be alright
I’ll be in just to what you want to say
I’ll figure it out
I’ll figure it out
You deserve to know before I break

Cuz I didn’t have the heart to tell you what I’ve been going through
And I didn’t have the fucking heart to take you to a place that’s been so blue
I couldn’t tell you why
I lie

A Moment to Deliberate

“Well, that’s the last of them,” Lilianne said under the long-awaited release from chaperoning the summer workshop for dance academy students.

“Any chance you’ll want to come back to do this again over winter?” I asked, needing her to say yes because I wouldn’t be doing it and also wishing she’d decline so that I could convince the ballet mistress that a winter session was more work than it was worth doing.

Lilianne spread her feet apart about shoulder-width and assumed an almost-second position stance.  Her hands at her hips, she turned to look at me and shook her head.  Lilianne would not be reprising her role as discplinarian, logistics wrangler, and counselor for a dozen self-assured and energetic young people.

“I was hoping you wouldn’t be able to swing it.”

“What do you mean?”

“Well, you know how Madame Ducasse has it in her head that the next generation of corps-de-ballet need both a summer and winter session of dance instruction, but everyone else, including the principal dancers, knows it’s a waste of time.”

“I suppose you’re right,” Lilianne said.  “Sacrificing summer to do nothing but dance is a bit much, but winter too?  Nobody should be spending all that time looking at their reflections and sweating when they could be snuggled in an armchair or in bed reading a book or doom-scrolling on their phone.”

Attempts to stifle laughter failed as her words hit more wry notes than I’d ever thought possible from the heir to the dance company’s legacy.

“Don’t worry,” Lilianne continued.  “I’ll tell Madame Ducasse that the resources we’d normally enlist to keep the building running during the end of the year can be spent on other things…like renovating the bathrooms and repainting the walls by the front entrance.  They’re supposed to be baby blue…not this grayish hue.”

“I couldn’t have said that better myself,” I replied as I bid her a good afternoon and exited the building.  After getting into my car and starting the engine, I raised a hand with the intention of waving at Lilianne, who’d always stood just inside the entryway whenever I left.  But she wasn’t there.  In her place was darkness like someone had drawn the curtains after a performance and turned out all the lights backstage.



Pic cred: Kyle Glenn, unsplash

They’re Dragons not Wyrms

Booktuber Christy Anne Jones is the reason I’d ever heard of Samantha Shannon’s massive fantasy book The Priory of the Orange Tree.

I came across the video in 2020, went out and got a copy, but didn’t crack it open until mid-April of this year after I’d finished reading  Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell.  The first hundred pages of The Priory of the Orange Tree (or POTOT for short) took me four days to read because of having to keep track of all the characters and getting my mind’s eye habituated with the story world so I could picture it easily.  That first weekend, as I got through the 200-page mark and was progressing into the 300s, I couldn’t put it down.  A fortnight later, more or less, and I’ve finished it.


I’m not a regular reader of fantasy either (other than specific YA titles from the past decade, for instance, Laini Taylor’s Daughter of Smoke and Bone), and yet once I started to care about what was going to happen to the characters, once I’d developed favorites (Tane, Ead, and Loth), it was easier to immerse myself in the world, and then the real one faded away.  I’ve wanted this kind of reading experience for a very long time…a true escape.

There is a standalone prequel, but I’m not sure if I’m going to read it or not.  For the rest of the night, I’m going to be scrolling tumblr and reddit for fan art and other people’s thoughts.

Pic cred: goodreads

Cumulus Halo Rhinocerous Attached

What do “Cumulus,” “Halo”, “Rhinocerous,” and “Attached” have in common?  They’re all Linkin Park demo songs included in the 20th Anniversary edition of Meteora.  Yes, Meteora has existed for two decades.


Pic cred: Linkin Park

I recall liking Linkin Park’s second album, but it wasn’t until the 20th Anniversary release of Hybrid Theory that I learned to appreciate it fully.  Rather than pre-ordering the anniversary edition the moment I learned about it, which was what I did with Hybrid Theory 20, I waited for Meteora 20 to hit the Barnes & Noble shelves because I knew Linkin Park would update their YouTube channel to convince me, “you need to get it.”  I can’t begin to articulate adequately how glad I am that I did.  It matters not if you were a diehard fan from the start or maintained casual consumption, you need to get your senses on this album.  You will thank me when you experience the transtion of “Numb” into “Lost,” which was not a part of the original release of Meteora.

Now on to those demo songs:






And now for something totally unrelated.  I’ve avoided consuming gluten primarily in the forms of pasta and bread for over ten years due to GI tract woes.  After Obama’s second term, I decided that I was going to experiment a bit and see how much gluten foods I could handle in small and infrequent servings.  I had gone straight to croissants cause they’re delicious.  And over the course of six months to a year, my digestive response to re-introducing this food item wasn’t unpleasant… until it was a few years later.  I had to swear off croissants again.  The last time I had one was probably in 2019 or early 2020.

I blame a few cafe-hopping video’s I’ve seen of people eating Korean hot dog bread things for recent cravings of very much gluten-filled carbs (I realized a year ago that I had to stop eating them cause of this precise feeling ugh).  I also blame this dude for the croissant preoccupation:

I have now re-learned that I absolutely cannot have croissant-like dough ever again unless it were more of a quiche (or I could apply enough restraint and just have one item), because it makes my innards feel like I won a large pho challenge.  Everything from my sternum through my belly button was in slow-motion, as though my gut bacteria were confused and then wanted to hoard the memory of the occasion by not moving things along.   Fortunately, they finally got their act together and remembered their purpose in life.

Ugh.  Jamais plus.  But croissants are so yummy.


Literature is

I finished reading Helen Macdonald’s H is for Hawk a week ago.


When I read this passage, it felt like the author was writing to me.  The book was published in 2014, it’s about her musings about and experiences with falconry and grief that somehow spoke directly to me in the present.

In two months, I think, my college job will end. In two months I will have no office, no college, no salary, no home. Everything will be different. But, I think, everything already is. When Alice dropped down the rabbit-hole into Wonderland she fell so slowly she could take things from the cupboards, and bookshelves on the walls, look curiously at the maps and pictures that passed her by. In my three years as a Cambridge Fellow there’d been lectures and libraries and college meetings, supervisions, admissions interviews, late nights of paper-writing, essay-marking, and other things soaked in Cantabrigian glamour; eating pheasant by candlelight at High Table while snow dashed itself in flurries against the leaded glass and carols were sung and the port was passed and the silver glittered upon the dark-polished refectory tables. Now, standing on a cricket pitch with a hawk on my hand, I knew I had always been falling as I moved past these things. I could reach out and touch them, pick them off their shelves and replace them, but they were not mine. Not really ever mine. Alice, falling, looked down to see where she was headed, but everything below her was darkness” (124).

In addition to continuing with Susanna Clarke’s  Jonathan Strange & Mr Norrell, I started reading Fernando Pessoa‘s The Book of Disquiet.


This excerpt on literature is astounding to me; it seems such an obvious observation.  Do you concur with its assertion?

Literature — which is art married to thought, and realization untainted by reality — seems to me the end towards which all human effort would have to strive, if it were truly human and not just a welling up of our animal self.  To express something is to conserve its virtue and take away its terror.  Fields are greener in their description than in their actual greenness.  Flowers, if described with phrases that define them in the air of the imagination, will have colours with a durability not found in cellular life.

What moves lives.  What is said endures.  There’s nothing in life that’s less real for having been well described.  Small-minded critics point out that such-and-such poem, with its protracted cadences, in the end says merely that it’s a nice day.  But to say it’s a nice day is difficult, and the nice day itself passes on.  It’s up to us to conserve the nice day in a wordy, florid memory, sprinkling new flowers and new stars over the fields and skies of the empty, fleeting outer world” – Text 27 (30).


And lookie here, BlackPink‘s Jisoo’s first solo project has just dropped!

Pic creds: Amazon, Barnes and Noble