Sunday, September 26, 2010

What A Wonderful Weekend!

My cousin McKenna came over this weekend and we had an awful lot of fun! Besides watching movies, we did leave the house. Hurray for Field Trips!
We were driving around the lakes in the city and they have some crazy-cool houses around the parkways and the lakes themselves. I really like the windows on this house. Actually, I'm surprised by the quality, because I was in a moving car while I shot this.
This right at the lakeside. It was a very, very nice day...
My dad and McKenna in the front seat (and I'm just being a creeper)
One of the homes closer to the lake
I'm quite fond of this one too. Driving down the parkway!
We drove by the Rose Garden (but we didn't go in. I'll have to take a field trip next summer).
We found this guy on one of those electrical boxes by the street. Peek!
Another one of the houses by the lake. They all have so much personality because they're so different.
We went into the cemetery by one of the lakes, because no one had been there but my dad, of the four of us in the car. There was a grave that marked where a couple of young people were buried. One was... I think one of them was in their twenties or thirties, while the other was seventy.
Sometimes you can see art scattered throughout the cemetery.
This one has a bit of a story behind it. We were walking amongst the graves when we came upon someone with the last name 'Sit.' Part of their grave was a bench :) We're not sure, but we thought this writing was Chinese.
If you look closely, it looks like the trees have faces
There's also a lake in the middle of the cemetery. My dad said that they built the cemetery around this lake, which was very nice to hear.
I also had a babysitting job! I took this as an opportunity to try some experimental photography (and yes, of course I was still watching them).
I got to swing too!
Very interesting shadow patterns
Ugh... there were some beautiful colors out there... my camera does no justice at all... I think it's about time for an upgrade.

On top of that, I finally put up my bulletin board (hurray!) and I made banana bread with a bag of humongous chocolate chips! It's more chocolate than banana, I think.

Tomorrow, we start another week. Have a good one, everyone!


Time Flies

Good morning/evening/afternoon, readers!

It seems like this past week has gone so fast...

So I've started these PSAT/SAT prep courses. I had to do two this week, since I missed the first one that took place at my school. It's all made up now, so I only have to go back once a week on Wednesdays. The first night, Monday, before the class even started, I found the teacher (I wasn't familiar with this school, so I went into the Community Education office to figure out where to go, and the teacher just happened to be there). All the way to the classroom, he was asking me questions. The first question was, "Where do you want to go to college?" I answered that I didn't know just yet. There were no follow-up questions, which I was perfectly okay with. Instead, he went right on to talk about bats. He asked me why all of the bats were dying. I was sort of taken aback by the unexpected change in topics, but I digress. I had no idea why the bats were dying. As it turns out, neither did he. So he asked me what they ate. Since I'm not an expert on bats, I figured it wouldn't hurt to wager a guess: Mosquitoes.

"Good! That's right! You're going to do well on the SAT's!"

Well that's good to hear.

Other than the interesting teacher, the class is utterly boring. Boring, but necessary, I guess.

"Jude, are you excited for the class?"

"Ummm... not especially..."

"Oh come on, Jude, you're not excited?"

"I could be more excited if you want."

Seriously, he asks that every time, because I look so tired. I get the reasoning why though. Something has to be fun about this class, why not get everyone hyped up about it whether they really are or not? I'm glad that I know people in this class though. That's always nice.

On the way home from that first class (on Monday night), I received a phone call. My cousin, McKenna! She called to ask when she should come over on Friday. I was a little confused, because I hadn't heard that she was coming over, but I was incredibly happy to hear that we were going to see her for the first time since she moved closer to us! My mom told me after I got off the phone that her visit was going to be a surprise for my sister and me and she wasn't expecting McKenna to call my phone. Well, I was happy. I love keeping secrets (my sister wasn't aware of the surprise at the time)!

Monday was a very busy day. On Monday, I did my audition for Pop Singers. If you can recall, I was initially supposed to do my audition the Friday before, but they ran out of time and had to get one extra day. Any way, I got good reactions when it came to my pre-chosen song, which I was very happy about. In the end, it all came down to tonal memory and sight-reading. That was the most painful part of the process. My memory was completely shot due to nervousness, so I had to ask the teacher to play the parts several times before I would attempt them. Plus, I felt really stupid saying "la" over and over again. Sight-reading was horrible. She gave me the starting note, which I could do, but then I forgot my starting note, which screwed up the rest of the song, which looked really easy because there weren't any humongous jumps I had to make. The following day, I got to see the results posted on the door. I did not make it this time. But the thing is, I can't really say I'm heart-broken about it. It would have been great fun to be apart of this group, but really, it just means that I don't have to get up early. Plus, there's always next year!
Sometimes in French class, we have down days and we watch 'Buffy the Vampire Slayer'-- In French! I'm really tempted to rent entire seasons of it and just watch every episode (sort of like I did for the vlogbrothers on YouTube). It's really good. It's not like Twilight at all. J'adore Buffy!

On Thursday, I got to learn more about being a sound-tech Mostly about the buttons we would be paying the most attention to and what they do. We couldn't do a lot of things, mostly because there was a Zombie Workshop going on in the theater (did I mention that my school is doing a production of 'Zombie Hamlet'?).

Warning! Tangent!

My friends and I are going to try and go to 'Zombie Hamlet' the weekend of Halloween (since society has told this that we, being 15-17 year old girls/boys, are too old to go out begging for candy). We're going to dress up and it'll be a jolly good time! I think we'll do the same thing when Harry Potter comes out. I'm super excited about that too!!!

End Tangent!

Next week, when I go back, we're actually going to go down to the stage and set up microphones and other sound-collectors. Then another person will be up in the sound room shifting the sounds that the tester (also known as the person who set up the microphones) will be making from on side of the room to the other; left to ride, center to none, back to front.

There were also play-offs in Wind Ensemble last week. In case you are not familiar, this just means that you play some music for the best chair in your section It's a big deal for certain section because there are usually eight or nine people (sometimes more), so moving one chair is kind of a big deal. The farther up in chair rankings you are (with one being the absolute best), the more likely it is that you will get to play a solo in one of the pieces (that is, if it's written into your piece). For smaller sections, like the one I'm in, it's not as big of a deal because there are only two or three of you and you're playing the same sheet of music any way, so it doesn't really matter. But if you're keeping score at home, I received second chair.

I'd wanted to ride my bike all week long, but because of the crappy weather, it really wasn't an option. It rained so much! It was crazy! Finally, on Friday, I decided that I would ride my bike no matter what. I'm really glad that I decided to because it was a really nice day outside. It wasn't cold, but it wasn't toasty warm either. It was perfect. It was the kind of weather where I had to move to keep warm. I loved feeling that cool air whip my face and knuckles, making them burn pleasantly!

I rather like these extra long end-of-the-week posts. It gives me something to talk about and probably more substance for you. But if you really don't like these long posts, please tell me in the comments and I will try to keep it concise the next time around.

You can expect one more post. I'm really, really planning on it. Until then, thank you for taking the time to read this!


Tuesday, September 21, 2010

A Review of 'The Lovely Bones' by Alice Sebold

"'My name was Salmon, like the fish; first name, Susie. I was fourteen when I was murdered on December 6, 1973.'

So begins the story of Susie Salmon, who is adjusting to her new home in heaven, a place that is not at all what she expected, even as she is watching life on earth continue without her-- her friends trading rumors about her disappearance, her killer trying to cover his tracks, her grief-stricken family unraveling. Out of unspeakable tragedy and loss, 'The Lovely Bones' succeeds, miraculously, in building a tale filled with hope, humor, suspense, even joy."

One of the most amazing things I have ever read! Alice Sebold weaves a beautiful story.

I feel like one of those reviewers that are quoted on the back cover of books, but it's completely true!

It's the way the characters react to Susie's death. Her father breaks down, her brother and sister are put on the back-burner and are unintentionally isolated (because they were Susie's siblings and, in Buckley's (the brother) case, too young to understand just what was going on), and how the mother became virtually numb. I have no experience with death in my immediate family (fortunately), but to me, this felt very real; it was very believable.

The murderer was incredibly creepy. He so practiced in this whole murder business that he knew what to hide in order to be undetectable. He went against everything you would expect a murderer to do in order to avoid getting caught. He practiced his plans outside (I'm speaking of the marital tent, though this was never performed as an evil act), he called the police when Susie's sister broke into his house and had it willingly searched when the police and detectives went around the neighborhood asking questions. It was unbelievable; completely crazy.

I was puzzled as to what direction the story would take after the murderer (George Harvey) left town and the police had basically dropped Susie's case. I was really happy to find out what happened to her friends and family because, throughout the book, you become attached to all of these people. It's always fun to know what happens once characters grow up (even if they are fictional).

Before reading the book, I watched the movie. I liked the movie. It was pretty faithful to the book, but even so, Hollywood can't include everything. But even so, nothing ever beats the book. The book just provides more substance (because they can include more things and convey things that film and video game formats just can't harness (there is no video game for this book... I'm not sure what that would be like... probably one of those I-Spy games). I'm glad I saw the movie first, because I'm sure I would have come away disappointed or wanting something more.

If you have time, I highly recommend that you go and find this book (if you haven't read it already) and prepare to get sucked in.

Thanks for reading!


Saturday, September 18, 2010

A Good Start to the Weekend!

I'd like to shout out to my dad really quick: Happy 29th Birthday Dad! :D I love you!

The rest of the day has been really lazy... for some reason, I decided it was time to open up iTunes and go on a treasure hunt. I started searching all of these guys that make music on YouTube and that led me to the discovery of more groups. I now have a list of albums I would like to save up for. They are the following:

Wizards and Muggles Rock for Social Justice: Volume Two

Song in the Key of E-Mail (ALL CAPS)

Silent Echoes (Dr. Noise) (P.S. I just realized how ironic the title and the band were together!)

Parrot Stories (Alex Day)

I've Got Nothing (Single) (Chartjackers)

Expert (Driftless Pony Club)

DFTBA Records, Volume One

Chameleon Circuit (Chameleon Circuit)

A Thousand Suns (Linkin Park) (P.P.S. I believe this just came out a few days ago)
Awkward Ballads for the Easily-Pleased (Tom Milsom)

Until the day comes when I have saved enough for all (or a majority) of these, I will listen to them on YouTube! The internet is so amazing...


Friday, September 17, 2010

To The Art Gallery!

A few years ago, I went through this phase where I would spend hours in my sister's room (because that's where our computer was at the time) working on MS Paint just working on things like this and trying to get better. These are my later works, so of course they're better than the first ones. The first section is where I emphasized grey-tinting (personally, I prefer these and any visual of this nature) and the second section is where color is emphasized. Those are mostly early works, but I'm still happy with them.

I was trying to clean off my computer a little this evening and I happened upon these, so I figured, why not? Enjoy!
My little sister asked me to do this one. I had run out of ideas and she told me to draw a room like the ones in the Titanic movie. I know it looks little to nothing like the rooms in the movie, but that's okay. Nothing's perfect. I'm not happy with the walls, but I'm happy with how the human turned out.
This one requires a little bit of explanation... I wrote a story where right away (in the prologue) there is a murder. The girl lying on the ground had had wine that was laced with poison (how original, right?). The boy lying next to her in lamenting over her death. He is later blamed and killed for murdering her (thought, I don't think I wrote that part... I never actually finished that story).
I wonder if I'll ever go back to doing stuff like this... I'm certainly very out of practice, but I bet I could pick it up again if I really tried.

I highly recommend that you go on YouTube and search 'MS Paint' and watch some of the videos that come up. They are infinitely better than my works up there. It's mind-blowing how good they are! Each of these only took about 1-2 hours (probably less). The ones in the videos take somewhere between four hours and several days. That's right. You heard me (read me?)

Any way, thanks for reading and looking. I really appreciate it.


A Tentative Weekend, Pre-Summed Up

Hello, everyone!

Because I know you're all so curious about what I'm going to do over the weekend (hint, hint, sarcasm), I'm going to tell you here and with pictures! Yay pictures!
First of all, catch up on all of that sleep I have been lacking all week. Seriously, I've been a zombie since Tuesday (occasionally having one of those sugar highs) and I have no idea why... I haven't done anything terribly exerting, so as far as I'm concerned, I don't have an excuse, I'm just plain tired.
I will do my homework! I have to write a one page abstract on an article for English (1 page, double-spaced, so it's nothing too high-maintenance), I have some problems to do for precalculus (because I was too lazy and distracted to do them in class) so I have to do them now. I also have a page of problems for physics. Too. Much. Math. But I digress...
Okay, so you know how I was telling you how I had my Pop Singers audition today? It turns out that this wasn't the case. When I got there a couple minutes before 12:40, there was a line and we were ignoring the time you signed up for. I was a little peeved about that, but really, what can you do? There were already people going into the room and getting it done. So my new date is Monday during second lunch. There are only three people that signed up for today but didn't get to do it, so I don't think it should take very long. On the bright side, I get more time to practice, which I feel like I really need. Especially when it comes to sight-reading. I think note-recognition should help with that.
Reading! I really don't have a lot of time during the day to read (maybe a minute or two here and there) and then at the end of the day, I try and read for an hour before I go to bed. But because of the whole lack of sleep thing, sometimes I can't do it. I'm about half-way done with 'The Lovely Bones,' so I'm going to try and finish it after I finish my homework.
I'm not sure how well I'll stick to this one, but I just had a craving for watching all of these supernatural movies (with ghosts possessing people and haunting stuff... I love those! They're the best!). I just watched 'The Haunting in Connecticut' for the second time, and it was great fun.
If my mother is reading this, she'll be pleased to know that it is on my personal list to straighten up my room (the energy to completely sterilize my room just isn't there, nor in the time). So I'm going to do Sullivan (the hamster) a favor and clean his cage (finally. I'll insert a sigh of relief from him here) and put all of my clothes back in my dresser for the sake of my mother.

I hope you at least enjoyed the pictures. This wasn't my most interesting piece to date...

Next week, I'll do my Pop Singers audition (and hopefully tell you how everything turned out), go to my ACT or PSAT test prep classes... I'm not sure which one, either way, I'll have to do it. Umm... I think I'm staying after school to learn how to be a sound tech this week, but I'm not even positive about that. So I guess we'll see what happens when we cross that bridge! Until then, I leave you with a video on how to feed ducks. Enjoy!