05 December 2011

I moved!!

Check out my overstuffed bookshelves at

12 November 2011

A Satisfying Good Meal

Just because I am a poor college student doesn't mean I eat like one.

Some people have standards. Mine for food are quite high.
What I made:
pork chop marinated in apple cinnamon barbecue sauce
homemade mashed potatoes
sage flavored stuffing
and a glass of milk for chase it down

Where it came from:
pork chops from the store, frozen in a freezer for a few weeks (I freeze all my meats so they can last)
potatoes were in the drawer. They keep very well, so they've been around for a while
stuffing from a box
milk from a jug

End Results:
The pork chops were good. They were so thick, so I had them cook on medium-low heat while the potatoes boiled. I flavored them with a new seasoning mom told me to get, and I liked the end result. The potatoes could have used butter or gravy or another type of flavoring, they were quite bland. And not mashed that well. But it was my first time, so I forgive myself. The stuffing was great! I love stuffing. I need to start making stuffing for every meal. And I love milk. Milk and stuffing for dinner tomorrow? Perhaps.

Nope, sorry. It's all really easy to make -- the trick was juggling everything.

01 November 2011

Traitorous Cats!

So my little brother and his roommate came to visit for Halloween weekend.

The first night they stayed over, Squee (the friendly cat) walked out from my roommate (codename) Rick and slept at my little brother's feet. I'm sure Lil Bro was slightly nervous about this, being eye-swellingly allergic to cats, but at least his feet were warm.

In any case, Rick walks out to see her cat sleeping with the guest and she makes and goes "Traitor!" Because Squee always sleeps with Rick. And if he doesn't sleep with Rick because she's not around, he sleeps with me.

And Squee looks back at her like "What? I do what I want; I'm a freaking cat."

So the moral of the story is, your cats may or may not sell you out for no discernible reason. Disheartening, isn't it?

20 October 2011

Warm Penguin is Warm

I can't get enough from this picture:

According to this article from Animal Tracks on Today, a knitting shop in New Zealand called out for local knitters to knit sweaters for blue penguins who get caught in oil spills. The shop is called Skeinz based in Napier, New Zealand (link to Skeinz home page).

I find this adorable and heartwarming. New Zealand's TV3 News says there are now more than enough sweaters for the penguins (link to TV3 News Report).

Here are some more pictures of penguins wearing sweaters.


All together now:


14 October 2011

Life's Too Short

  • to read bad books
  • to listen to your parents
  • to hold back at karaoke night
  • to NOT kick your roommate in the balls
  • to clean your room
  • to panic
  • to under-appreciate everything you have
  • to listen to just one album at a time
  • to silence your inner child
  • to do homework
  • to not post on your tumblr/twitter/blogger/etc.
  • to worry what others think of you if you sing on the street
  • to not hum to yourself
  • to not submit your story to the journal
  • to anger your cat
  • to play fair
  • to finish a crossword puzzle
  • to live cheaply
  • to drink cheap booze
  • to scare your cats from the counter
  • for writer's block
  • to live in a plain room
  • to not buy that piece of jewelry
  • to make excuses
  • to say no to anime
  • to walk past the man with a "FREE HUGS" sign
  • to cancel the furry convention
If life is but a dream, it better be lucid.

08 October 2011

PubCom Challenge

When I'm not doing schoolwork, I spend the majority of my time with the organization WUD Publications Committee, that which we call PubCom. WUD stands for Wisconsin Union Directorate and is pretty much the umbrella organization for all student programming in the Union, including the outdoor and recreation clubs, the movies shown at Union South, the programming for the Union Theater, the bands that perform on one of three stages, etc etc etc. PubCom spearheads the literary aspect of this with three online journals, a creative writing workshop, and four printed journals. It's a big group.

My own involvement includes leading two things: the creative writing workshop Working Title and the fiction blog UW Flash Fiction. In addition, I participate in weekly PubCom meetings and only recently signed up to help with a scary storytelling event for Halloween. It's a busy life, but I love it.

Last meeting, we were introduced to two programs that will help us students on a professional level. The first is a mentorship program that partners an interested PubCom member with a professional in the field they wish to go into, and it doesn't have to be in publishing. The second is a program that will help interested members build a professional portfolio. This second program is called the PubCom Challenge, which also suggests it's a bit of a competition. I will admit I suggested we have awards at the end of the school year for most professional, best design, most content, etc. Awards add to the "challenge" that comes with the name.

What does this mean for me and this blog? My plan is to use this already existing blog in my own professional portfolio. That means one of two things will happen to this site. The first is that it goes over such extreme renovations you won't even recognize it anymore. Well, you might, but there's the possibility that it won't be recognizable. The second is that it will be discarded altogether for me to start from scratch and create a new space for myself.

This is just a warning, so you readers know. If you suddenly see a tab with my resume/CV and another with things I've designed and yet another specifically for writing samples (both creative and professional), don't be alarmed. I'm a senior on the cusp of graduation, and something like this may or may not be helpful for my future career.

Speaking of careers, I have an interview with the senior editor at Tor Books on Monday. As in, an interview for an internship. An internship under the senior editor at Tor Books.

Life is a field of opportunities. If you look for the right ones, you will find them.

11 September 2011

So Today Was My Birthday

I had spent my entire weekend at Geek.kon, so I was already there when I woke up. My friends and I signed up for a Tea Party where we had to solve a mystery. The Tea Party was on an airship with a time engine. The Time Engine broke so the airship can only go back in time and not forward and the professor who created and manned the airship disappeared into the time stream. So it was up to us, the guests, to figure out where and when the professor landed. I take pride in the fact that I was the one who guessed correctly.

What made it better was my having my sonic screwdriver on me. People asked why I couldn't fix the engine with that, and I said it didn't work on gears. Even so, I felt like the Doctor. And the family sitting next to me agreed. It was a good way to start the morning.

Then we went to the boffer room, where we got to hit people with foam weapons. Hitting people with foam weapons = all sorts of fun. Enough said.

Earlier in the weekend, my friends and I were oogling Tasty Peach Studios. I had my eye on three pairs of earrings but could only buy one. My friends bought the other two as presents for me.

Aren't they all sorts of adorable?

Other cool things at the con involved my playing Mega Man II in the game room. Mega Man is the video game of my childhood, so it was all sorts of nostalgic (and an excellent distraction for my friends to sneak away to buy said presents). Then there was a concert by I Fight Dragons which was fun. This was cut short by our need to return to campus.

Upon arrival to my room, I found several things. The first was my Computer Actual, with printing capabilities and a DVD drive and a really big screen and kind of in need of a new keyboard. But I love it even though the webcam is glitching. I didn't realize how much of a luxury a  large screen is until I was using a Netbook for a long time. Mom and Dad also sent along an antique tea set from Japan they got as a gift when they got married. You could call this a form of regifting, but I think after so many years it becomes a moot point. Either way, I had half a pot of green tea as I read for creative writing after dinner. It was good tea in a good pot. And now I have to host a tea party.

My roommates also gave me a few presents. I love my roommates. And I love my friends. But most of all, I love my family. We know each other so well.

07 September 2011

In Answer to the Question at the End of This Video

The thoughts expressed in the following video pertain to my answer so please watch it before you read my answer.

Is my quest heroic?** First, I will define these terms as I think of them, and then I'm going to answer my question based from those definitions.

I think of a quest as a great adventure that takes place throughout the life of a character. At the end of their life and beyond they have achieved greatness, which is a position of great personal respect for themselves and the people in their lives. Harry Potter is an example of a contemporary quest. The Odyssey is an ancient quest. Quests can also come in small forms. In Lock and Key by Sarah Dessen, the quest of the main character is to find a place to call home. Gatsby's quest in The Great Gatsby is to be happy and go back to the time of innocence when he first met Daisy before the war. The quest of Magpie in The Faeries of Dreamdark: Blackbringer is to rid the faerie realm of the Blackbringer. By bringing in these different stories, I can now identify a quest as a personal goal to which I aim to achieve. At the end of my quest, I hope to grow as a person and hopefully earn the respect of my peers and anyone else with whom I interact with.

I have several goals in my life. I want to implement a blog about writing to be maintained by my creative writing group. When I settle down in a city with a career, I want to buy a Mac desktop and run the latest version of Windows on it. I want to buy a parrot and teach it tricks and have it sit on my shoulder as I write. I want to live on the West Coast solely because I've never been there before. I want to intern at a literary agency and hopefully start a career as a literary agent. I want to work in the science fiction sect of the publishing world.

Now, is my quest heroic? I think of a hero as someone who saves a life not because they had a social obligation but because they had the opportunity to do so and they took it. From that alone, I say my quest is not heroic. For one thing, I dodge calls from the American Red Cross who want me to donate blood every three months or so. I do not interact with people in need on a regular basis. Neither do I actively seek out charities and charitable organizations for which I can be a part of. If you do not think this disqualifies me as a hero, then please say so in the comments. But I do not think of myself as a hero.

Is my quest heroic? No, my quest is not heroic.

I feel no shame in this. My personal goals are my own and are created based on what will make me happiest. The fact that I do not do charity work does not mean that I am a bad person. I smile and say hi to people I know on the street. I apologize for doing something wrong. I feel guilty for something as innocent as spitting from a tall building (there were no passersby directly underneath. I checked.) I assured a police officer today that I will spread the word to my roommates to be on the lookout for terrorists. My roommate gave me a weird look, but I still passed the word even though I thought it was ridiculous as well. (Who would want to attack a UW football game? If you're going to attack Wisconsin, you attack a Packer game or Sturgeon Bay. That is, those are the places I would attack.) Also, I had a dog approach me while I was on vacation and plop down on my foot. I figure if a dog likes me that much, I can't be too bad. Can't I?

In any case, I am confident in my goodness as a person and I do not think my quest is heroic. That is the answer to my question.

** I didn't exactly finish The Great Gatsby so I feel unqualified to answer the other question. 

05 September 2011

My Current Favorite Authors

If you ask me my favorite author, I usually say an author whose book I recently read, or I'll say an author whose latest book is coming out soon. And because I'm talking about this now, I'm going to give you a list of authors who I've either recently read or who have books coming out soon. Therefore, the following are now my favorite authors until they are no longer. All book titles are linked to their page on Goodreads and series names are linked to the first book in the series. In no particular order:

Laini Taylor
Ms. Taylor wrote The Faeries of Dreamdark and Lips Touch Three Times. I loved Dreamdark because of the dialogue and the simple language that said so much in so few words. The descriptions were beautiful in their simplicity. Furthermore, you might as well have plucked the land of Dreamdark from the edge of your dreams because it probably was. But my favorite parts were the dialogue. The faerie slang was so natural I found myself saying "Jacksmoke" every time I needed to swear.

I'm currently reading Lips Touch and it's just as fabulous. Lips Touch is a series of three novellas about kissing. The creativity behind the magical worlds baffles me. These are the sort of worlds that make you think "This is so obvious. Why didn't I think of it first?" Like the Dreamdark books, the descriptions are simple and beautiful and the similes barely expand more than five words. But those five words tell so much.

Ms. Taylor's latest book, Daughter of Smoke and Bone, comes out later in September. I'm very, very excited to read it.

Holly Black
Ms. Black writes the Curse Worker series which includes White Cat and Red Glove. Both are about Cassel Sharpe, a young man whose family works closely with a mob crime lord. Cassel's voice in both books sucks you in and keeps you there. He is real, rounded, knowingly makes bad decisions, looks at girls, critically thinks about the mysteries surrounding his life, and really needs a hug. His love life is the most painful and defining part of his character. I also love the world of the Curse Worker series and how the world is defined through Cassel's actions. Small things like his feeling of vulnerability when his gloves are off really sets the tone for the rest of the world.

Sadly, the third installment Black Heart won't be released until April 2012.

Scott Westerfeld
Author of the Midnighters and Uglies series, Mr. Westerfeld's latest series follows two teenagers in the middle of an alternate World War One. The moment you crack open Leviathan, you don't look up until you finish Behemoth. The characters might as well jump out of their illustrations. Their worries are worries one would legitimately have while on board an air vessel made out of a whale. And the illustrations are beautiful --- detailed and expressive and able to be stared at for long periods of time without tiring of them. If you're going to read anything by Mr. Westerfeld, read Leviathan and it's sequel Behemoth. The world is believable and riddled with English slang and German curses. You won't be disappointed.

The last book in the series, Goliath, is released later in September.

John Scalzi
I recently read Fuzzy Nation, which is a reboot of H. Beam Piper's Little Fuzzy written in the Golden Age of Science Fiction. I haven't read the original, but I highly enjoyed the remake. The main character was such a jerk to everyone he met, and his character was consistent throughout the entire novel. His character was what really made the connection with me. Another part was the actual storytelling itself. No detail was left unresolved. When a character is mentioned, he bears no significance until later in the story even if you don't realize it. Those kinds of details always fascinated me, because the author is introducing you to a fact that you'll probably forget until later when it is brought up again. It is my dream to write a story with something like that in it.

Also, John Scalzi has my dream job. He is a freelance writer with a weekly column at Filmcritic.com about science fiction movies, has several novels out including the Old Man's War series, Agent to the Stars, and The Android's Dream. He's president of the SFWA (Science Fiction Writers of America -- which nominates and votes for the Hugo Awards). AND he maintains the blog Whatever, which has been running since 1998. Dude does a lot. I want to be just like him when I grow up, down to the famously geekly best friend. (No, really, he's close with Wil Wheaton.)

03 September 2011

A Funny Thing Happened on the Drive Back Home

I grew up with a mother where anything less than ten miles over the speed limit was normal. It was a weird time during the summer when I went back. Apparently, the cops in my hometown have started cracking down on speeding. Mom did everything in her power to stay at the speed limit, and here's why.

My older brother is riding in the passenger seat with my mom driving. They get pulled over and my brother is cracking up. Mom being pulled over isn't really big news especially since she's always let go with warnings. But not this time. By now, the cops should at least recognize the car and the license plate. He thinks she's in for it, and I admit that it is pretty funny.

So the policeman comes and asks to see my mom's license. She shows it through her wallet, and the policeman asks her to remove it so he can take it back to the car. 

Here's another anecdote about my mother --- her wallet is stuffed to the rafters. Don't ask me what's in there, but there's a few cards from various places, membership cards, cash, coupons, receipts. She almost needs a mini-purse to fit all the things she wants to carry in her wallet. Instead, she usually gets the biggest wallets she can find. And they're still hard to zip closed.

So it doesn't really surprise me when Mom can't pull her driver's license from her wallet. My brother tries, and fails. And the policeman tries and fails as well. Finally giving in, the policeman goes back to the car to get a pad of paper to copy mom's information. No, she wasn't getting away just because her license was stuck. Here are ways around that.

The officer returns and copies the information, and then he goes back to his car. Mom and my brother sit in the car for a while. A few minutes later, the policeman returns.

But he doesn't have a ticket.

He says the printer in his car isn't working, so he's going to let her off with a warning. I think my brother balked or something because, dude, mom gets away with everything. She's just that awesome.

31 August 2011

I'm Jack Holloway and I speak for the Fuzzies

**this post contains strong language

Finished reading Fuzzy Nation by John Scalzi over breakfast, and by over breakfast I mean I sat the table for an extra hour reading. Scalzi's style is simple and levelheaded. Jack Holloway is the perfect asshole. Fuzzies are awesome and adorable at the same time. I read it in about two days (between work shifts and other matters at hand). You all should read it.

My favorite character is Judge Solton. Her entire attitude towards everybody --- protagonist, antagonist, dog, what-have-you --- is a simple "Not you idiots again." She doesn't take shit from anybody. Her position as a judge gives her the ability to see through lawyerly manipulations. And her employer, which isn't ZaraCorp, means she's not prone to bribery and other corporate sneaks. She's probably the biggest badass in that entire book. I love her.

Fuzzy Nation --- go read it because a dog blows up a cliff. Seriously.

17 August 2011

Chicken Marinade with Potatoes

serves one. Modify recipe for multiple mouths.

- one chicken breast, thawed
- olive oil
- Italian dressing
- Mrs. Dash Garlic and Herb spices
- two (2) red potatoes, washed
- handful of baby carrots
- one ciabatta bun


Pour olive oil onto cooking pan and add Italian dressing on it. Heat burner to medium heat. Place chicken on top of olive oil and dressing mix. Sprinkle Mrs. Dash herbs (or another blend of spices of your choosing) on top of still-raw chicken, then add Italian dressing on top of that. Let cook, flipping occasionally.

Heat oven to 200 degrees Fahrenheit and place bun inside. Let warm until chicken and potatoes are finished.

Chop potatoes as desired. Pour olive oil into second pan and set to medium heat. Add potatoes and carrots. Keep mixing these around until fully cooked. Keep moving around until chicken is cooked through.
*note -- add rosemary to the potatoes for extra flavor.

Remove chicken, potatoes and carrots, and bun from oven. Set on place and eat.

12 August 2011

Death Note Super Spoiler

I started watching Death Note this week. A dangerous task because I should really be packing and cleaning when I'm not at work or figuring out how to get rid of all my food before Sunday. But anyway, it's an awesome show. I'm all like

There are many spoilers that can happen within this show, but there is one spoiler that tops them ALL. I call it the Super Spoiler. So then the SUPER SPOILER happens, and now I'm debating about whether I want to continue watching it or not.

But friend (codename) Walter said, "I don't know if [super spoiler] was genius or dumb." And now I feel I have an intellectual obligation to finish the series and state my opinion on the matter.

I also just want to say that the episode in which the Super Spoiler happens is beautiful. At least for me. There may or may not have been a yaoi fangirl moment, some failed Christian symbolism, and squeals of glee.

Not that I'm glad about Super Spoiler, it's just that when stories take a Turn For The Awesome I get really excited and Turns For The Awesome are typically very sad moments.

06 August 2011

Where I've Been

I've been here, for the most part, reading blogs and watching YouTube and generally having a good time. There was nothing interesting to say, so I didn't post for the sake of posting.

In lieu of this watching, my computer went down. Strictly speaking, I fried the motherboard via a big bowl of milk at breakfast, which is always a nice thing to do to your computer. But don't worry, things are working out and I'll be using a tiny netbook until I get my 17.5" screen back. I'm working up to it by renting 13" MacBook Pros from my university. On which I'm able to use Windows. For the record, I really dislike Mac Laptop mice. That's about my only reasonable complaint, and a story for another post.

In addition to this, I just finished finals for summer classes. Well, summer class, since the only thing left to finish for me was Kendo. I did pretty well, I guess. After the final, we did a Balloon Battle, where we had balloons taped to the three targets we can hit. One guy attempted to get my kote (wrist) with the force of his entire being, and missed a good three times before I yelled at him. He ran away after that. Shows him. I mean, seriously, it doesn't take THAT much force to pop a balloon. So now my arm is sporting this giant bruise right under my shoulder. Try sleeping on that. (No seriously, I can't lay on my right side now. It sucks.)

And now I'm moving. Yay! It's nothing big, like from one city to another. Even so, my reasonably navigateable mess is now a reasonably navigateable mess in boxes. Except for that pile of library books next to my bed, but let's not get into that.

For all intents and purposes, I'm pretty much moving about twenty blocks away, but it's okay, because now I'll be closer to campus. I can take a free SAFE RIDE bus home when it gets dark out and it's too cold to ride my bike. I'll be waking up especially early to drunken awesomeness outside my apartment because I'll be a block away from the football stadium. And what's probably the best part, I'll just be living with two other people so I know who to yell at if someone doesn't do the dishes. Likewise, they know who to yell at if someone doesn't sweep the floor, but at least we get along otherwise.

Also, I finally got a public library card a few weeks ago, and I've seriously been checking out graphic novels by the half-dozen. They're mostly Batman, but I've also read some Nightwing, the entirety of Scott Pilgrim, and the first four volumes of Red River. I've also read White Cat by Holly Black in a day. Which I call a record of some kind because normally a book that size would take me two days. But I guess I was just that eager to get through it. 

I'll post again when there's something to say.

16 July 2011

Saturday Morning Adventure

Today's adventure is brought to you by my roommates Rick and Far.

Last night, Rick asked if I wanted to get a work out and help the community by helping her pull up wild parsnip in a park this morning. I said sure, why not, and she said "we're leaving the house by 8:30a."

This morning we left at 8:30a. Far drove us and on the way, he commented about his clutch, but I wasn't paying attention because his car is loud and the scenery was unfamiliar so I was looking at that.

But we get to the park where there was less wild parsnip pulling than anticipated. You see, Rick volunteered to help a to-be Eagle Scout for his project since her internship project is in the same area anyway. And when we met with the Eagle Scout and the guy who maintains the trails, there was significantly less parsnip-pulling than I thought and more of a general "This is my idea. Let's work out the nitty-gritty details." More of a survey of the area and a discussion on what they can do and how they'll do it. And me, having little if any interest in any of this, pulled out my phone and started playing cribbage. Indeed, I'm that classy.

I did, however, pull up one parsnip plant. My duty was done, and Rick laughed when I told her so.

While we were out, Far's clutch completely gave out on his way back to the house. He called his dad who we'll call Mr. Far. Mr. Far and Far came to pick us up when we were done. Then we drove to Far's car, hooked it up to the back of Mr. Far's van, and towed the car all the way to the next town where Mr. Far lives. And it is at the Far House where the car will be fixed over the weekend.

While at the Far House, we chatted for a bit, mostly about how they'll fix the car and how we'll get back home. Mrs. Far is making part of a costume for Rick for a Renaissance wedding in September. So the women will be doing that while the boys tinker with the car. Oh happy day. In any case, we lunched on enchiladas before Mr. Far dropped Rick and I back at the house. Rick has to do something at the library and I really have no purpose in being at the Far House. I mean, I only brought my phone with me. It only lasts for so long, you know?

And that was my roundabout adventure of the day.

10 July 2011


I consider myself a child of Google. Sort of. A lot of my Google-usage has been in college, but that's the stage in life where you experiment with everything and the kitchen sink, right? So when Google announced Google+, I had to try it out. And so, I venture into another realm of social networking.

I really hope Google+ takes off. But you know, social networking sites come and go. Remember when MySpace was big? I never really had one, but I had a xanga, the first of all the blog sites. Then there was Facebook. And now Twitter, Tumblr, and Google+. These things keep on evolving. And every time something new is introduced, people seem to hop it like a kid at Christmas. Because, really, that's kind of what it is. Look Internet, here's a brand new toy for you to play with!

I admit kid-at-Christmas, although a cliche phrase, accurately describes my current attitude towards +. I want to know how this will work once people settle into it and start using it for their everyday lives. Then I'll give a full and accurate review on it. Or something. I'm not really a tech person. So, like any blogger, I'll just give my opinion on it and continue on with my life, with or without +.

One day, I hope there comes a social networking site that outlasts them all. Don't you think it'll be neat to have a social networking site where you can creep on your parents while they were in college to see all the stupid stuff they did? It would put a perspective to life, I think. Look, here's my mom drunk at a party. Wow, I did that exact same thing last weekend. Or maybe something like should be left better for a personal epiphany looking through old photos. But wait, that's what Facebook already does, doesn't it?

Even so, I hope it's Google that outlasts them all. Those guys seriously kick butt. I use them for everything!

08 July 2011

I need this shirt:

This one, in case you were wondering:
"I hope I am a good enough writer that some day dwarves will kill me and drink my blood for wisdom"
The link for said shirt can be found here, in case you wanted to get one for yourself. Also, check out this guy's blog, because he's absolutely HILARIOUS!!! Seriously, I've been laughing at it for about two hours now. It was hilarious after half a bottle of wine and some vodka, and it's still hilarious after two hours of copious amounts of water.

Which is to say that no matter what state you're in, you're going to laugh your butt off.

And why isn't this viral yet? Seriously? Something this awesome and only less than 500 people are following him? That's just insane. Internet, you disappoint me.

03 July 2011

Fly Away Home

I apparently saw Fly Away Home in theaters when I was little. I don't remember seeing it in the theater, but I have had a soft spot for it all my life. So last night, it was on really late at night and I stayed up to watch it.
Mom went to bed, our friend of the family goes to bed, and I'm all alone in a dark living room. Just me and the movie. And then my brother comes home.

"What are you watching?" he asks.

"Fly Away Home."

"Is it a sad movie?" He gestures to his face to show that I don't look all right.

"No, but I always c-cry at the end." I gesture to the TV to show that a teenager leading her flock of geese in a small plane to a reservation that'll be destroyed for development if she doesn't show up is the most moving thing ever.

Did I mention she flies the last leg by herself because her father crashes in his plane? And then she has a crowd of people banking on her arrival at the reserve? And she doesn't even know the way save for the quick instructions of her dad and the frantic motions of some ladies on a street in a small town. And you know how far she's come from the girl mourning her mother to being the mother of a flock of geese. And her father had just told her she's like her mother who didn't let anything get in the way of her dreams either. Seriously, it's enough to make anybody weep.

Here is the song played in the final scene. Just this alone is enough to make me cry.

01 July 2011

Happy Canada Day

According to a girl at work (who lived in Canada for the better part of her childhood), one day, the United Kingdom asked Canada if they wanted to be their own independent nation. And Canada said, "Okay. That'll be great." And that's how Canada broke off from the UK.

Happy Canada Day, everybody!

This is by no means an accurate account of actual events. The story expressed in this post are for entertainment purposes only and should not be taken seriously. So go ahead and have a little laugh. 

30 June 2011

A Lesson from Kendo

Tsukahara Bokuden founded the school of Kashima Shinto Ryu in the 15th century. He was a well-respected man, known for his swordsmanship. Back then, it was customary for swordsmen to travel across Japan and learn techniques from different dojos. Lessons were learned, techniques were spread. Men who knew the art of the sword were treated well by everyone, and not because they could easily cut off your ears.

Tsukahara traveled with a large entourage of students. One evening, they were on a boat for a party, having a good time. A drunken ruffian walks up to Tsukahara and asks what style of sword he uses.

"I use the style of no sword," Tsukahara told him.

The ruffian didn't believe him. "I challenge you to a sword fight," he said.

They agreed that a fight could not happen on the boat, so they found an island nearby. The ruffian was the first to disembark, and Tsukahara ordered the boat to cast off without him. And so Tsukahara tricked the ruffian into spending the night on an island in the middle of the lake, without a fight.

In Kendo, you do not seek out fights. You only fight when you have to. Tsukahara didn't have to fight the drunk ruffian, so he didn't.

29 June 2011

My Thoughts on Super 8

Super 8 takes place in a small town in Ohio. It features a small band of friends in middle school as they film a movie for a local film festival. While filming one night, they witness a massive train crash which releases an alien being transported from Area 51. The alien then starts disrupting the town, but less so than the military who want to keep the alien a secret. When Alice, the leading female in the film, goes missing, the young friends investigate into her disappearance.

I loved this movie. I loved the small town setting and the relationship between the characters. What I loved most was how the science fiction element didn't detract from the character relations. Instead, the alien story seemed to boost the tension between the characters. I also like how you can remove the alien and military elements and you still have a movie. Granted, one not as exciting, but a movie nonetheless.

I also loved the quirks of the kids. My favorite was Cary, who carried explosives and firecrackers with him at all times.

I have two complaints. Only one I partially excuse.

The first is the kids' recovery time after huge explosions. They witness a giant train crash, no one is hurt, but no one is remarkably shocked or trembling or traumatized by the fact that the giant train just careened right by them. Of course, they have one in their numbers obsessed with things that go boom, so I can forgive that. Especially when they have to consistently witness giant Booms against their will. I do believe there was another escapade towards the end that I thought they recovered remarkably quickly. Spoilers.

The second is the car that crashed into the train. For all intents and purposes, that truck and its driver should not have made it out alive and in one piece. That was very unbelievable to me, especially aforementioned size of said train explosion. I have no excuse for this one. This is just plain unrealistic.

Overall, you should go see this movie. Because it's awesome.

27 June 2011

Service Announcement

I just read this article here and thought I should remind you all that if you mistreat the people who feed you, you're not going to have a good night.

Because they have the power over your food when you choose to dine with them. And they're kinda merciless.

So be nice, treat them like a person making their way in the world, and tip well.

That is all.

26 June 2011

Checking In

Well, hai thar. Long time no chat. How's it going?

The weather's been beautiful this weekend, so I decided to take a study break and go for a walk around the zoo. I live less than five blocks from a small, free zoo, and because it's so warm and sunny out, I decided to go for a walk. The idea actually came from a phone conversation this morning with an old friend. He mentioned going for a walk before the rain hits, and I thought "Yeah, that's a good idea. I think I'll go to the zoo."

So when my study guide was half done, I lathered on some sunscreen, put on my shades, and unfolded my umbrella. If I had a lolita costume, I would have totally worn it.

I went through the back way because there's a small lake with a pavilion that offers boat rentals and junk food. It's a hang out spot for people who want to go to a small beach area and hang out. The first animal I observed was the peacock.

A small group of girls crowded around next to me and loudly wondered if the peacock was a he or she.  I said the colorful birds are always male for mating reasons. They looked like they didn't get it, and their mother said that was interesting. I told her other birds do that too, like the cardinal. Red cardinals are always male, and females are actually brown.

I got a drumstick ice cream, but threw half of it away because it lost its taste. I wandered through the bird house and took a picture of the kookaburra because I like them. Said hi to the blue Macaws. Then I went outside and saw some more animals. The tiger was hiding in some high grass, no doubt doing what most cats do and taking a nap. "Get away from me, humans, I'm napping." I'd totally do that too.

Then I went out the front way.

I'm currently halfway done with one class, have another month for my second class, and split my time between work, watching movies, homework, and hanging out with friends. But this post is to let y'all know that I'm still here and really don't have anything interesting to say. So I'll see you again when I do.

11 June 2011

(don't) do it for the children

During my sophomore year, I had a lecturer tell the class "Never believe anyone who claims something is 'for the children'."

This sounded exactly like some of his other crazy sayings like "Koalas are my third least favorite animal ever" and "My life goal is to punch a manatee." He also went through a blow-by-blow on how to disarm a guy wielding a grenade. So I knew he was only reliable when it came to lectures (my homework was graded by someone else so I was safe not worrying about his sanity).

Anyway, the third paragraph on this article in the Guardian mentions something about saving the children. So now I have one piece of evidence for his side.

31 May 2011

I Write Like [insert author here]

I randomly came across this one site that takes an excerpt of what you have written and analyzes the word choice and stuff to see which famous author your writing style is most similar to. So I took a section I deemed acceptable from my current work in progress and put it into their analyzer. The story is about a government resistance group and their mission to evacuate the leftover population in a space colony before the colony's destruction. The result was this:

excerpt from Untitled:

I write like
Dan Brown
I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

I've only read one thing of Dan Brown and that is The Da Vinci Code in high school. From what I remembered of reading him, I translated this as "I write the basic facts and don't spend time on elaborate description." Of which I objected to because I can totally write cool description when I feel like it. So I went back to a very short story I wrote at the end of last semester and analyzed that. The story is about a young woman who finds a tree with blossoms of ice that can cure a frozen heart when swallowed. This is what I got.

From Blossoms of Ice:

I write like
Anne Rice
I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

I have a feeling this woman is right up my ally in terms of reading material. Sadly, I've never gone out of my way to read her. I can only name Interview with a Vampire and Queen of the Damned off the top of my head. This was a better result than Dan Brown, I figure. She's more cult classic fantasy whereas Dan Brown is more mainstream international thriller.

Now, you can't try something just twice, so I had to do it a third time. This time, I used something short and sweet and already published on this here blog. You might be familiar with it. If not, click the link below and read it yourself when you have time. It's about two trees. When the website analyzed that, it gave me this.

from 100 Things to Write - Love

I write like
L. Frank Baum
I Write Like by Mémoires, journal software. Analyze your writing!

I had to Google this guy. He's famous for The Wonderful Wizard of Oz and all its subsequent sequels. According to Wikipedia, he wanted to write fairy tales that were not as gruesome as the Brothers Grimm and Hans Christian Anderson. Yes, there is still gore involved in his stories, but at least the tone is completely different. I think we can all attest to that.

People I normally read include Scott Westerfeld, Patrick Rothfuss, and Tamora Pierce. I find it funny how I don't write like them and instead write like people I don't really read.

I feel very versatile.

25 May 2011

On Journaling

Journaling is good for the creative soul. It forces you to write every day, it boosts your memory, and it's a healing process of sorts. Stressful day? Write about it. Day that Never Goes Your Way? Write about it. How did you solve that day? How did you get through it? If you managed to complete nearly everything on your to do list on the Day that Never Goes Your Way, write about that and then print it off and frame it because it just goes to show that you are an awesome person, and the next time you have one of those days, you know you can get through it! Not that I do that or anything . . . .

Whenever I sit down to journal, I usually don't recount my day as it has been going. Or how my week has been if it's been a while since I last wrote. I just sit down and type down whatever I am thinking at that moment. It's a nice way to jump-start my head into doing what it's supposed to be doing. "Journaling task is done for the day. I feel productive. Let's do something else now."

I first started journaling before I went to college. About two weeks before I left, I had a private freak out and I wasn't comfortable telling my parents about it. So I wrote it down on my new computer because, hey, it's my computer and totally private and I can do whatever I want on it. So I wrote in a WordPerfect document everything that I was freaking out about. Boy did I feel awesome when that was done! It was great. I wouldn't have been able to take on the world, but I at least knew I could learn to adapt. And that was all that mattered back then.

Journaling didn't really take off until October that same year. I've been sporadically updating everything ever since. I don't journal every day -- that's too tedious for me. But when I feel like I can't manage everything on my plate, journaling helps me bring things into focus. It tells me what I can put off and what has to get done right away. Whenever things are slow, I tend to write incomplete stories in my journals. There are at least five that take place in a science fiction world I've been thinking about since high school. And others have been random excerpts from daydreams and action scenes I want to exist in my life.

But they are usually my thoughts at any given moment in my life. To me, that's what a journal is. You might think a journal is a document of your life, and I guess it is. But I find it more of a document of thoughts. What was I thinking on the sixth of June in the year two-thousand-ten? Is there even an entry for that date? I don't know. I never go back to read my thoughts.

Do you keep a journal?

23 May 2011

Oh, look, a Podcast!

I interrupt your regularly scheduled programming to check out this podcast about dialogue. Specifically, it's dialogue in sci-fi/fantasy, but some of the exercises they suggest can totally be applied to other genres. Here is the link. The podcast is only about fifteen minutes long, so it's short. And worth your time. Have fun.

13 May 2011

Kicking off Summer 2011

Finals week is officially over. Can I get a w00t w00t?

And now that finals are over, I'm now a senior. Scary. This time next year, I'll be graduating. I remember this feeling in high school, but this time I'm more sure of myself. Three years at college does that to you. But I'll handle this like I handled high school --- by making the most of it. In high school, I quit my job so I could spend all my time with my passion: theatre. Not on stage, mind you, but backstage, where the magic really happened. I had a plan to hunt down the local community theatre, but I'll be dividing my time in the summer as it is.

Here's my Summer To Do list:

*** research NaNo novel
I figured out while in Europe what I wanted to write during the next NaNoWriMo. But it'll involve lots of research, especially in fairy tales and folk stories and their tropes and common features. German superstitions and French bedtime stories and a personification of the American stereotype . . . with a steampunk setting. My main character is from Norway, his best friend is Swedish, and they travel the continent looking for a book. I can't wait to write this!

*** write my two novellas
I have two ideas that popped into my head at the end of the term. One involves aliens, the other refugees. I have no idea what'll become of them, but I gotta keep writing somehow. One was already a rough draft, but I'd like to write a second draft from another character's perspective, if only for a larger scope of world development.

*** summer classes
I signed up for an American Short Stories class as well as Kendo. Can't wait.

*** leading workshops
It's possible my student-run creative writing group will meet during the summers. The decision is still up in the air, but it's looking promising. The official announcement will be made next week sometime. Those involved already know about this.

*** Netflix
Because I told myself I would get it when summer comes.

*** work
I start working at the new union in about two weeks. I'll be on a 15-20 hour a week schedule starting in June.

*** family
My little brother is graduating high school and moving to my rival school. Sobs for graduating, angry fist shake for attending the rival school. It's a bittersweet moment. We'll also have some sort of vacation . . . maybe. The 'rents have been bouncing around the idea of Vegas, but we might reset to our Default Location instead. Both my brothers also have their birthdays in July, so there'll be time set aside for that. And then there's Independence Day, my parents' anniversary, I-miss-you-I-wanna-come-home weekends, etc.

*** reading list
Check the Goodreads link for details. Which reminds me, I should really get that library card . . . .

06 May 2011

tumbling away . . .

Next week is finals week.

My friend (super secret) codename Autumn introduced me to tumblr. Here's a link to my tumblr, all you gotta do is click it.

At the moment, I'm just reposting fun things I've found in other places. I do believe I created it with the intension to tumbl about the random ideas my friends and I talk about, most of which can be turned into stories of some medium or other. But then I found you can tumbl around certain tags and reblog things you thought were cool and, well, all of a sudden I got into this whole tumbling business.

So that's my tumblr. It's addictive. I've had it less than 24 hours and I have 15 posts, three followers, follow 10 people, and currently keeping track of 5-10 tags.

Now excuse me as I go work on my film study guide tumbl.

04 May 2011

Simple Chicken Pesto with Cheesy Bread

1 - boneless chicken breast (frozen)
2 - pieces of bread
~1/2 bowl - pasta
~1/2c pesto sauce
~1/4c shredded cheese

Preheat oven to 300*F. Place bot of water on stove to boil. Put frozen chicken breast on a small plate and thaw in microwave for 8-10 minutes. (Step not needed if chicken breast already thawed).

While waiting, measure out how much pasta you want. Spread butter on pieces of bread and sprinkle with shredded cheese, preferably something that easily melts (such as cheddar or mozzarella. Colby not so much). Wait for things to heat up.

When water is boiling, add pasta. Insert break into oven. Take out chicken from microwave and cut into bite sized pieces. Fry on a frying pan until cooked through. Once done, turn off stove stop but keep chicken on so it stays hot. Keep mixing boiling pasta until desired tenderness. When pasta is read, drain water in a sink. Add chicken and pesto sauce, stir until pasta and chicken are evenly coated in pesto. Remove bread from oven.

Enjoy with a glass of milk.

03 May 2011

Lit Fest

The campus publication committee organized a week-long event called Lit Fest, which is a series of events in the middle of April celebrating the written word. Here is a lowdown of the events I participated in. If I ever refer to myself as "we", I am referring to my fiction blog UW Flash Fiction, which is supported by PubCom who hosted Lit Fest in the first place.

Write On!
Earlier in the semester, students were asked to submit poetry and prose to be read at Lit Fest. This is the event for which they read. I promoted my own publication along with assisted the organizers in getting things ready. When the event started, I sat down with some friends who won the contest and listened to the winners. Quite a few writings were amazing. It was great to listen to the author read their own work.

Badger Book Buddies
What's better than reading children's books? Reading children's books with children! For this event, students signed up to visit a local elementary school. We shared some of our favorite children's books, read them, and although we were supposed to talk about the books, it didn't happen. At least for me it didn't. I came in, I read them some Dr. Seuss, and then I played with them. It was fun. I finished up with another book and gave out some Badger tattoos and balloons. Then I donated the books I read to their collection. The teacher was really really thankful. She was also really really lively and great with the kids! This event was a real confidence booster, so if you need to bolster your self-esteem, volunteer with kids.

Lovin' Local
In support of the literary venues up and down State Street, Lit Fest scheduled a series of readings one rainy Saturday. Readings took place at two coffee shops and two bookstores. We were lucky to have Sarah Palin come 'round the Capitol that particular Saturday, otherwise our authors would have been reading to empty chairs. My editor and I braved the sleet, taped posters to poster columns, and made it to our destination. We were to hang out at a certain coffee house because the volunteer there was the only volunteer and needed help. So there we were. I dropped off flyers for our blog as well, and we stuck around the single coffee shop to listen and drink hot drinks. We heard a local author from Baraboo read from her latest work -- a ghost story set in Wisconsin. And the campus chancellor read some of her work as well, which was really awesome! Every single student who stayed to listen increased their respect for her about ten-fold. It was pretty amazing.

Pub Me!
This was a small fair featuring all the different ways to get published on campus. Of course, I was there promoting my new flash fiction blog. I also met a woman from Verse Wisconsin, which publishes poetry but I think if (secret codename) Kelly was a poet turned fiction author, I could pretend to be a fiction-turned-poet for a bit. So I went and asked about the publication and how they balance being an online publication as well as a print. I even asked if they needed summer help, and she gave me her card in case we start accepting prose poetry so she could link us to her. I wrangled in my friend (secret codename) Michael to sit in for me as I wander about as well. I heard about the creative writing publication, which wasn't free for the taking like the others were. But I did pick up a few Women in REDzine, which is the latest in positive feminist writing. Then I asked one guy how one would start making a living freelance. And, to pick up the latest travel abroad journal, I visited a few friends in Souvenirs. I call it successful. I also managed to attempt to convince a poet to write a flash fiction. Go me.

A Night with Billy Collins
I admit, the most we did was attend the crowd of 1200 and did no promotion whatsoever. But it was still worth it. Billy Collins is hilarious and thoughtful and makes you think things you never thought before but you probably should have. Even so, it was really awesome. I took pictures and recorded a couple poems and generally had a blast.

Fundraiser at Noodles
I almost didn't go to this, but the committee director sent an email saying that only two people emailed her back about the dinner (me included) and hoped we would still show up. So I trudged out in the cold and sleet and when I got there, we talked about how every native Wisconsinite hates spring because of the ADD weather. Would you believe that the previous day was beautiful and gorgeous and warm? In any case, the fundraiser was a method to help raise money for Literacy Network, a non-profit organization that tutors people in English. To donate, place and order and mention the fundraiser. Then enjoy your plate of delicious, delicious noodles. We ordered, sat, ate, and talked about adrenaline rushes and world travel jet lag.

02 May 2011

100 Things to Write - Keeping a Secret

The old man wandered the hallway collecting keys from each door. If you believe this to be a simple task, you are mistaken for the hallway is never ending. Its length is measured in years instead of miles. The old man knows every door that appears in his hallway, and his key will one day hold every key to every door.
He approaches the next door, turns the knob. Inside, the room is dark save for a handful of candles on the dresser. A lumb on the bed is still, the breathing of the couple tranquil. Silently, the old man takes a key from the bedside table. The couple don't even know he was in the room. But their secret is safe with him. He locks the door.
The hallway is simple and ornate at the same time. The old man's slippers tread upon a lush red carpet decorated with intricate patterns interlaced with gold. It is the softest carpet anyone will walk on, but the only person to do so is the old man. He is too busy to notice anything but his duty. The walls themselves are white and bare save for the staggered rows of doors. Each door opens to another forgotten secret. His duty is simple: walk in, take the secret, lock the door, place it on the key ring, repeat.
There is a dead body in the next door. The body lays in the middle of an alley. If the old man were to look up, he would have seen the city skyline of Istanbul. But of course he wouldn't look up. Blood on the body is not clotted, only dried. The old man finds the key on a nearby garbage pail.
A ragged boy curls against the wall of the alley. His clothes and skin are free from blood. The old man already knows the boy didn't do it --- he has seen the boy before.
"I know the secret," the boy says.
The old man does not seem to notice the boy is addressing him. Most people never notice him. He keeps their secrets for they are not his to tell. But this secret does not belong to the boy; the boy does not belong to this secret. He picks up the key but does not leave.
"I know your secret," the boy says. His hand shifts as if he wants to show the old man what he is holding. There is a glint of rusty iron in the light; an oblong shape keeps mysteriously in the shadows.
"Once more," the old man replies without looking at the boy. Then he crosses the alley, locks the door behind him.
The key ring is not as big as expected. It can hold every secret from the dawn of time to the end of time, but only fifty keys will appear on the ring. Once they are placed on it, the keys are lost. But the old man knows the location of every single key upon that ring. The size is just for convenience --- the weight of secrets is a heavy burden to bear.
The next door opens to a British colony in America. Rust colored slippers walk across the dirt floor to the center of the room. Outside, the town is empty, a ghost town. Kneeling down, the old man starts digging through the floor until he unearths an iron key. He replaces the dirt on the floor, walks back to the hallway.
His trousers show no signs that he knelt in dirt. His firm and confident hands are not dirtied. The old man locks the door behind him, places the key on the ring, and moves on to the next door.
He wears a rust-colored vest and a shirt as white as the walls. A pair of golden spectables rest on the edge of his nose. His hair is white and wiry, but his eyes are focused and clear. He stands very straight for a man with his burden. There is wisdom behind his eyes, a desire to share this wisdom, and something else, something that has been brewing behind his eyes for some time now: anticipation.

Five doors later, he comes across the young boy again, slightly older now. He is more elegantly dressed in a vest that matches the color of the hallway's carpet. His feet are bare and his trousers are slightly too big for him; a leather belt holds them at his waist. His face is clean, showing a pair of bright blue eyes. His hair is the color of wet earth, but that will change in time.
"I know your secret," the boy says.
The old man smiles. "Where is the key?"
The boy holds up a key ring. A single secret dangles on it.
"Now where is the key for this door?"
The boy looks around. He stands in a kitchen. On a table sits a plate of crumbs. A small whimpering is muffled from under the table. Sneaking too many cookies gives little girls a tummy ache. The boy spies the key on a table next to the plate. He picks it up.
"Very well. Come with me."
The boy follows the old man through the door.
"Lock the door behind you," the old man instructs. "You must always lock the door behind you."
"So that the secret can be forgotten."
"Why must they be forgotten?" the boy asks. He locks the door anyway.

"So that this hallway can keep existing," the old man answers. "And so we may have something to do. Put the key on the ring. Soon, you will acquire your own ring of secrets."

25 April 2011

Destressing before Hell Week

You come home from Easter, and you catch the dialogue in a scene from How to Train Your Dragon coming from the living room downstairs. Think nothing of it because everyone in the house loves that movie and it's really no surprise that someone is watching it. Instead, trust your luck that the scene is in the final act. Of course it'll be close to ending! No use joining in if it’s ending in less than half an hour.

When your parents leave for home, you are left to your devices. Again, you catch wind of dialogue from How to Train Your Dragon. But you know that this piece of dialogue comes before the piece of dialogue you heard earlier. So you walk downstairs with homework in hand and you sit down.

"Are you watching How to Drain Your Dragon on repeat?" you ask.

"Don't judge me!" your roommate responds.

Fair enough. She's been stressing about that paper for five days already. You've got your own stress to deal with. 

And you finish the night by watching How to Train Your Dragon three more times before bed.

~ ~ ~

I've got more homework than should be legal, so you won't be seeing me for a while. Have fun and take care.

14 April 2011

Goodness, an award!

Holy heavens, I won an award! Here it is.

The rules are to link back to the giver, (Thank you Margo Kelly!), list seven facts about yourself (below), and then give to 15 other blogs you think are awesome (or deserving of 7 facts). So here are my facts and the winners presented by me.

1). Harry Potter was introduced to me in fourth grade when my teacher read it to the entire class. We didn't particularly enjoy it at first, but as he continued to read every day we came to love it.

2). I carry around what I call a Notebook of Everything because I write everything in it. It features hangman games, meeting notes, scenes from larger pieces, writing exercises, dreams --- everything.

3). My first Notebook of Everything lasted 2-3 years from high school to the beginnings of college. It is currently stored with hard copies of my stories. It is also completely beaten up and worn and decorated with stickers.

4). My second and current Notebook of Everything has been in use for about a year and a half and features the same material. It is proving to be more durable than the first.

5). In high school, all my time was spent with the Madrigal singers and backstage theater. Things have since changed because now I spent all my time involved in the publication committee on campus.

6). My first European road trip was when my brother came to visit me for Christmas this past December. We took a train to Paris, another train to Berlin, and flew back to London for a few days. Best Christmas Ever.

7).  My second European road trip was immediately after when my brother returned home and I flew to Denmark to explore Scandinavia (+ Finland). Visited a friend in Denmark, skied in Norway, learned some history in Sweden, and saw a sea fortress in Finland.

Award Recipiants! I give this award to my Crusader group #14!

1. Dominic de Mattos (Writes of Passage
2. Anica Grey (Butterfly Mind
3. Sandra Ulbrich Almazan (Sandra Ulbrich Almazan: Speculative Fiction Author)
4. Tony Benson (Fireside Park
5. The Golden Eagle (The Eagle's Aerial Perspective
6. Mlle Lizka (Laws of Gravity
7. Chris Kelworth (The Kelworth Files
8. Mercy (Have Mercy! Killer Reviews
9. Rogue Mutt (Every Other Writer Has a Blog...Why Can't I?
10. Charity Bradford (My Writing Journey)
11. Gen Jordan (Living on Earth
12. Pensheep (A Writerly Pensheep)
13. Cindy Borgne (Dreamer's Perch
14. Michael Offutt (SLC Kismet)

06 April 2011

I call it Wonderful

Let's name all the mediums with which a story can be told:
- oral
- books/graphic novels
- film/TV
- stage performance

Quite recently, the same story has been passed around from medium to medium. The Hunger Games is working towards a 2012 movie release. (Are you keeping up with the casting news?) John Scalzi announced a while ago that his book The Old Man's War was signed to be made into a movie. I heard a series by Amanda Hocking was signed for movie production as well. 

It's been a trend in recent years to make movies into musicals. Starting with Disney movies, we have The Lion King and Beauty and the Beast. Most recently are the Legally Blonde and Flashdance musicals. Less famously is Young Frankenstein, which was recently in my town but not seen by me, which is why I think of it. Various books were adapted to musicals as well. Les Miserables started as a book, then a musical, then a film (without music). Most famously (for me at least) is The Phantom of the Opera. I practically grew up with this musical, mostly because my mom's such a big fan of listening to the original London cast from start to finish. (I am too for that matter).

And both my mother and I agree that the film adaption for Phantom of the Opera is done very well. Not only are there a few scenes featured in the film that couldn't be covered in the stage play (I'm thinking about the flashforwards to Raoul here), but the acting and the costumes were done very well. 

Chicago is another movie made from a musical. As with The Producers, Oklahoma!, and Grease.

If you haven't noticed, these are all done by live-action actors and actresses. With the exception of Disney in this case the musicals came from animated movies. But what if someone decides to make a hand animation film of an already existing live-action musical?

For all you fans of Wicked, wouldn't this be wonderful? (NOTE: the text below the video is the video description on the actual site and not written by me.)

Dear Stephen Schwartz,

I know you can relate to the plight of loving a story, loving a medium, and trying to convince someone in power to see your vision! You did it with Marc Platt when you convinced him to make it a stage musical. I’m just approaching you with the same sincerity. Is it possible to talk you out of doing a live action movie adaptation? Would you consider doing a traditionally animated adaptation? In my heart I think the musical needs the medium, and I think the medium needs your musical. I just love them both so much and hopefully that shows through in the story reel.


Heidi Jo Gilbert

04 April 2011

What do the machines DO?

A few weeks ago, I had to watch The Matrix for my Contemporary American Film class. This is the same class that watched Blade Runner, Silence of the Lambs, and Close Encounters of the Third Kind. Coolness of this class aside, I want to ask a question pertaining to the Matrix, give my answer, and see what sort of discussions will arise in the comments.

What do the machines in The Matrix do when they are not hunting humans?

After much thought, I asked myself "Then what do humans do?" My answer to the human question was "We built a society around that which we value. We valued shelter from the weather, so we built houses. Sturdier than huts made of straw now, but that's what happened. We wanted readily-available food, so we built a system around that. Now we go to the grocery store when we want food. Or we eat at a restaurant. Then we started to crave entertainment, and thus we have what our current pop culture and society seems to be built around.

My answer to my question is this. The Machines built their society upon which they value, like what humans did. So if the majority of their society goes into maintaining human farms and hunting the human rebels, then I guess that's their society. If anyone has seen hints regarding other jobs of The Machines, besides keeping the Matrix running and the aforementioned positions, please comment in the comments below.

03 April 2011

Film Review: The New Year

Film: The New Year
Directed by Brett Haley
2010 - Independent Studio

The New Year deals with the struggles of Sonny, a young woman in her early twenties living in Pensicola, Florida. She had previously returned to her hometown to care for her dad who has cancer. She works at a bowling alley, dates the Tae Kwon Do instructor at the local dojo, and struggles through living at home. Her yearning to break free is brought to attention at the return of Issac, a high school "rival" who won the class presidential election their senior year and is now a budding comedian in New York City.

~ ~ ~

This is a film that almost hits home for me. Almost. Sonny is my own age and trying to figure out what she wants to do with her life. I am Sonny's age and attempting to figure out what I want to do, but I feel less pressure because I have about a year to figure that out. I have also recently concluded that I may move to a random location and attempt to set up a life there. Just to see what happens.

But the film. This film was made with an $8,000 budget, but it does not show in the final product. The visuals are stunning and professionally done. I especially loved the compositions of the pillow shots between scenes. Those were very well done. (Vocabularly: "Pillow Shot" -- a sequence of shots connecting one scene to another. Taken from my Production class notes.)

Another positive is the play with romance of the film. Sonny has a boyfriend, but a visiting guy starts hitting on her as well. She doesn't know what to do with the romantic relationship just like she doesn't know what to do with the rest of her life. However, the romance is put on the back burner and the focus is more on Sonny and how she deals with her life in general and not one specific aspect of it. If the romance were in the forefront, I would have been annoyed.

I would have liked to have seen a few things in this movie, though. For one, character arcs. The final bit of the movie fails to provide any evidence of a character arc. The movie introduces problems and plays with them without doing much with them. Yes, this might seem a realistic way that people deal with problems, but when I sit to watch a film, I want to be taken somewhere and feel like I got something out of it. I didn't have that feeling with this film.

Another thing this could have used was risks. What does it mean to leave your dying father behind so you can spread your wings? What sort of effect would that have on the people you left behind? Would your dying father hate you for it? Would he want you to fly away? Would he get crap for feeling like he does? Meanwhile, what about you? Would you feel guilty as you do your thing? Would you be reminded every few months of your father's condition and asked when you're coming home? Would your father send you messages of encouragement? Disappointment? What would happen when you leave everything behind? Those are the kind of risks this film could have used because there would have been no consequences if they were taken.

To top this off, the acting of this film was amazing. None of the actors were well known, and a majority of the people were Pensicola locals the director just knew. For instance, Sonny's father was somebody the director acted with in community theatre. And he was an amazing actor for the part of the father. Just amazing. The woman who played Sonny, as well, was really good. She could shoot off sarcasm and make it sound natural, and that's important when you have a sarcastic character. Her sense of humor was also spot on. Props to the director for finding the perfect actors for this film. This was quality work for $8,000.

~ viewed at the 2011 Wisconsin Film Festival ~