June 30, 2013

Day 36

Listening to Brahms' String Quintet No. 2 in G! Great piece!
Well, our flight back home's been delayed until 7 something, so I'm blogging now before I'm on the plane. Anyway, had a fun time chatting with my family. Glad to be getting home after a week of playing the violin and going to a funeral; it'll be nice to sleep in my own bed.
Had a fantastic week at camp! Like last year, it was so inspirational and I loved learning from all the faculty. It was nice to see the family again, and hopefully when I see them again it will be under happier circumstances.

June 29, 2013

Day 35

Met Evan for the first time today.
Got up at 3:00 AM today to catch a flight to Virginia. Lots of traveling. Ugh.
Got to VA and my cousin and I rehearsed my piece for my Grandfather's funeral service.
The services itself was lovely. Speeches were given (one by my cousin Dan made me cry), and Lauren and I performed my piece. It went very well. After that, we had a reception in which I met Evan. He's totally geeky and awesome!
Hung out and talked with my cousins for the rest of the time. It was a very weird day, beginning with sleepiness, then sadness, then happiness.

June 28, 2013

Day 34

Certificate of completion!
First off, sorry about the skipped day. I guess the blogger app didn't post the last post yesterday, so you get a double dose today!
Had an excellent last day at the Mark O'Connor strings program! Had the final masterclass with Alex DePue, which was as informative as always, and then took a rhythms and heterophony, which was awesome! We learned about the half flats and sharps, aka the quarter tones in music, and had a fun study in harmony!
Lastly took a masterclass with Kelly Hall-Tompkins, which was probably the most productive class out of all of them today! I played a piece that I need to play for tomorrow, and she helped me refine it very nicely!
Lastly there was the absolutely stunning faculty concert! This was great, full of joy and energy! The faculty put on a show of classical pieces, Latin American music, jazz, Irish fiddle tunes, as well as some other eclectic styles! Really happy to have gone this year! Much like last year, it was a blast!
Now heading off to bed so I can wake up at three to catch a plane to Virginia.

Day 33

Ticket for the Berkeley Roots Orchestra!

Penultimate day of the Mark O'Connor camp! It was a pretty mellow day today! First class was with David Wallace on how to write a waltz! Really cool! It was just me and another student (she played viola and was really nice), and Wallace, so it was very laid back! Next was a masterclass with Alex DePue, which was fuller, but still enjoyable. I went towards the end, and we were sort of pressed for time, so I didn't get to play all of my piece of choice, but I still got some good feedback. Last class was Jeremy Kittel's Improving Over Chord changes, which was pretty much learning about chord theory for an hour and a half! I love that stuff!
Then we went to see tonight's concert, which consisted of Mark O'Connor's own  string quartet playing some pieces of his, and then the Berkeley Roots Orchestra performing faculty-written pieces, all with improv solos! Really fun stuff! Looking forward to a kick-ass day tomorrow!

June 26, 2013

Day 32

A great burger! I ate all of it!
Okay, so I just got back from seeing the faculty concert at the Mark O'Connor camp, and it was fantastic! Brilliant way to end the day. They had Mark O'Connor perform of course, but then they had all these other crazy awesome violinists perform, all of whom had unique and such characterful styles! Then at the end, a host of them came back and all started improv jamming together! It was truly inspiring and super cool to watch!
Going kinda backwards here, sorry.
Had a great third day all 'round at the camp! Started out taking a second Alex DePue masterclass, since each of them are different. This one was pretty cool; we had a participant in the course who was a tripple-music degree major and professor, classically trained, but was with us because she said she wasn't good at improvising. DePue held her in high esteem, and she played the Kreisler violin prelude and Allegro beautifully! DePue talked about practicing and embellishing songs that we already knew with jazzy licks and such before moving on to full on improv! Really good advice.
Next, I took a class with Daniel Roumain that focused on making the violin sound like different instruments without the use of electronics! This was really neat. We got to learn how to make rudimentary drum kit noises, make the violin sound like a human breathing or a shallow wind, and make it's sound shiver and vibrate like an electric guitar's! Really fun class! It was pretty zen too; he had this whole "one with the earth, sacred ground" thing going on! A little deep for my taste, but he did mention that you must have a relationship with your violin, which I do agree on! Really fun and cool class!
The third class that I wanted to go to I couldn't, because it was only for violas! Darn! So instead I went to another class... that was only for violas too! This one was taught by Wallace, though, so it was okay. There was a cellist there, so I didn't feel too awkward! We learned about Texas fiddling, and a simple Texas fiddle tune. Wallace had the good graces to pick one in D major, so it could be played on the violin without weird octave shifting! This was a really fun class. I'm taking his "Let's Compose a Waltz" class tomorrow, which is supposed to be for viola, but he says that anyone can join! Thank goodness!
Had a great burger for dinner, as you can see up top! We've been going to that burger place every day, because they have like the best burgers ever (and yes, I have eaten at Five Guys; these are far superior!) Went to the Mark O'Connor discussion panel, which this time was O'Connor talking about his method program and books. I have mixed feelings about this. On the one hand, he promoted American fiddle music, which is great; we need more of that, especially with the decreasing interest in the violin. But he did so sometimes by putting down the classical genre and the techniques and methods taught for that genre. I did not like that at all, I thought that was a rather poor way of promoting your product; if you have to put another subject down in order to raise yours, to me that shows poor advertising strategy and a lack of understanding or appreciation for the subject which you are decrying. Not saying O'Connor is bad (in the jam session concert tonight, he looked like he was having a great time, and looked appreciative of all of the talent that surrounded him), or that his method is bad or whatever, I'm just saying that he was a little extreme in his opinions and representing his thoughts.
Sorry to rant. I did have an amazing day despite my dressing down of the panel discussion. The concert was phenomenal, the classes were spectacular, and I look forward to tomorrow's classes and concerts and panel discussion!

June 25, 2013

Day 31

Neat origami paper picture things!
Great day today! Took a cool Irish fiddle style class, in which I learned two jigs! Made me really happy. Then I took Kelley Hall Tompkins' violin technique class. There was no one else there, so it just turned into a sort of private violin lesson! She improved my left hand technique a lot, (apparently my posture was completely wrong in my left hand! Oops!) and then we worked on bow consistency. It was a really informative class and I look forward to taking her masterclass on Friday!
Speaking if masterclasses, David DePue's masterclass was more of a subject study class. We learned about the anacrusis, which is a note, phrase, or section that precedes the downbeat of a measure. He had us listen to a recorded lecture by his dad on this subject, and it was really neat. It focused mainly on the Baroque period, but did say that the anacrusis appears in and, in some cases like in rock and jazz, is the basis of, the structure of all music! Again, really cool to learn about that.
Then I attended the Mark O'Connor discussion panel, which focused on how the strings musician is actually taking the initiative a d writing his or her own music! That's like what I do! It was really fascinating and inspiring!
Finally, I went to a faculty concert that sprouted into a jam session! That was fun to watch. I didn't participate because I get nervous and am not very good with fiddle music. Might try tomorrow! A very good day all around!

June 24, 2013

Day 30

Mark O'Connor discussion panel!
First day of Mark O'Connor camp. Really glad to be taking it again! Took a class by David Wallace on the structure and style of the blues, then one with Jeremy Kuel on practicing techniques for improvising, then took a Gypsy 101 class by Kelley Hall Tompkins in which we learned the Czardas Gypsy Dance! That was really fun. Then I sat in on the Mark O'Connor discussion panel in which they talked about competition and how to maintain a big ego! Went to dinner and then went to a jam session faculty concert! Really fun first day!

June 23, 2013

Day 29

Mark O'Connor Camp schedule booklet!
Lots of traveling today. We had a layover in DC, and then the plain sat on the runway for half an hour. That wasn't fun. Then we finally got to Boston, and went for the introduction meeting for the Mark O'Connor camp. It looks to be much smaller in both teacher and student bodies than last year's camp, which is kind of unfortunate. I'm still looking forward to the coming week, though!

June 22, 2013

Day 28

Me with Nicholas Brendon!

Went to ACE again today and got the above photo, along with a signed poster! That was really cool! There were some great scale model ships and vehicles out by the lobby too. Looked at some comic books, perused the Transformers action figures, and admired all the awesome costumes!
Came home and practiced the violin, got clothes for my trip to Boston for the Mark O'Connor camp, for which I'm leaving tomorrow, and am now watching Alias!
Here are some glamor shots of the scale models, some fun t-shirts, and my loot!

Some neat neon LED light-up logos!

Scale models! Star Wars and Star Trek ships!

Iron Man and DBZ statutes!

Firefly shirts! I didn't get those, but I wanted to!

A Lego Bruticus figure! I don't think that pops apart into the five robots, though!

Finally, here is my loot!

My two new figures: Cliffjumper on the left, who now completes my main Prime Autobots, and the Darkness Megatron cannon and wingpack set attached to my custom show-acccurate Megatron. They fit so nicely with him!

Here is the poster that Brendon signed for me! Hazzah!

Here is the Convention Package kit exclusive gift... thing (I don't know the actual name of it) that you could get if you did something that my Mom did... man, I'm really not doing well with this. Ahem! Anyway, the bag came with a pretty nice sketchbook, a water bottle, and a sharpie!

I also got a shirt that was practically made for me! It has Optimus Prime as the TARDIS, complete with robot bow tie, 'cause bow ties are cool! I also like that with this idea, the Transformers' idea of mass-shifting is now plausible!

June 21, 2013

Day 27

I have the whole Prime Autobot crew!

Went to the Albuquerque Comic Expo today and saw some fantastic art and comics! I got two figures and a shirt (I'll do a haul post tomorrow, because I'm going back tomorrow)! It was a good afternoon, with lots of geekdom! Saw a full Iron Man armor cosplayer, and this like 8-year-old kid was all for discussing Transformers with me... well, I say "discussing"; it was more like "flaunt his knowledge of the shows to me". It was still cool though!
Unfortunately, my Grandpa, who had been fighting cancer for the past year and whom I got to see last week, died today. This made me twice as grateful that I got to see him last week to say goodbye. My thoughts go out to the rest of my family and his friends. Sorry to end this on such a sad note; more ACE news and loot tomorrow.

June 20, 2013

Day 26

The garage is starting to come together after the new concrete has been put in!

Had a pretty productive day today. Posted my newest review, which you can view here! Then practiced the violin before my violin lesson. The lesson itself was pretty low-key; we went over my piece for my Grandpa: put in fingerings and bowings into my part, and then I went home and edited my cousin's part to match in style. Sorry 'bout that, by the way Lauren, I know you've been getting a lot of emails from me (it's the latest one that's the good one...) Anyway, then we moved stuff into the garage and had dinner. Planning to marathon more of Alias tonight, and then tomorrow we go to the Albuquerque Comic Expo! Looking forward to that!

Shadowcon Reviews- Chaos Theory, Part 1

Shadowcon Reviews: IDW Transformers Ongoing #22: “Chaos Theory, Part 1”

This is the issue where the themes established in my earlier reviews really come together. Themes of loyalty, betrayal, morality, peace, etc.; they all culminate in what I consider to be the best solo issue that IDW has ever done. And yes, despite this being one of two parts to a story, the two are independent enough for me to call this a one-shot… because that’s what it is: “Chaos Theory, Part 2” is focused on Optimus’ past, and so we get a little more light shed on that, but Part 1 deals with his relationship to Megatron, which is I think the most underdeveloped relationship in all Transformers fiction. Prime, War for Cybertron, IDW, and the movie prequel comic series all established lasting and complicated relationships between the two titans, but they far more often settle on being quintessentially good and evil, without being complex or having much history behind them to make you realize that these two know each other so well that the war is to them about making the other person realize that their philosophy is flawed. IDW established Optimus and Megatron’s relationship so well, that this issue could be seen in part as a two-man stage play, with each having his reasons and rebuttals as to the other person’s comments or reasons.
This issue also sees how Megatron started out. This is set prior to the Megatron Origins story, so he’s still a civil person. It’s nice background material, and helps the reader understand why Megatron does what he does: it’s because he sees no other option. His society is so corrupt, so broken, that the only answer is a complete overhaul of the system, and that of course gradually grew into a want for total control over everything. The saying “the road to hell is paved with good intentions”? Yeah, that’s this guy, but on a massive, ridiculous cosmic scale! Megatron’s motives for surrendering are rather vague, though the Spotlight Bumblebee issue would clarify that: Megatron needed a ride back to Cybertron… that’s it. That may seem to undermine this whole issue, but this on its own was handled so well, that I can personally overlook that in favor of character interaction and development.
I’d like to comment briefly on the artwork for this issue too, as I commented on it in my previous review. This comic is drawn by Alex Milne, with colors by Joana Lafuente, and I really like how this looks. The past scenes are done up in light popping colors, while in the present, everything is dark and moody with greens and blues. I think this speaks a lot about how art can enhance a story; with this, the mood is set not just in conversation, but also in the environment. This also helps establish Cybertron before the war as being full of color and engagement and fun, whereas in the present, Megatron and Optimus are discussing dark and complex topics.
Speaking of which, the two have a great discussion that makes one realize that the entire war can really be summed up by these two men: one the epitome of peace and good, the other of superiority and conquest. Note that no part of Megatron’s idea is actually inherently evil. He’s taken it too far to be sure, but in different hands, this idea of fixing a corrupt society in favor of equality could lead to Cybertron’s own Civil Rights movement. As Megatron lays out his vision of his unified Cybertron, the two have the following exchange that I think is very interesting:
“Let’s play a game. I’m dead. The Autobots are no more. Cybertron- or what’s left of it- is yours. A hundred thousand planets have been re-sculpted, technoformed, colonized, whatever. The Decepticon Empire is resplendent, and there you sit, at the center of it all. Now what?”
“Then the real work begins. Repopulation. The rebirth of the Cybertronian race. A new Golden Age- one that will put the Knights of Cybertron to shame. Imagine: a civilization free from conflict. Everyone’s needs met. No want, no unhappiness, no dissent. Peace through tyranny.”
“And what of autonomy? Personal responsibility? Free will? Where do they fit into your brave new world?
“They won’t be missed.”
What we see here is that Megatron’s vision frees him from the society into which he was made, that of taking social engineering and making it literal: your form dictated where you fell into society. Megatron’s goals seek to change that. And his final comment that personal responsibility and free will won’t be missed makes a twisted sort of sense, as he has never experienced free will, at least not in any meaningful way. He spent his early days as a miner because he was made that way; having no responsibility to himself and only to the people was his way of life. So saying that they won’t be missed solidifies his goals of having everyone see the world as he saw it.
On the flip side of that, we have Optimus’ moral standards, which are actually vocalized in the form of the rest of the Autobots, when they discuss Megatron’s trial. issue of issuing Megatron the death penalty comes into play, and it’s a captivating and morally grey discussion. Optimus is conflicted about whether or not to let Megatron live. As Prime says, if he put a bullet in Megatron’s head right now, the rest of the Universe would stand up and applaud. That’s… pretty hard-core, especially for a Transformers comic. Prowl and Ultra Magnus are all for that option, but Bumblebee states that if they kill Megatron, they risk turning him into a martyr, and that would arguably be worse than what Megatron has already done. Starscream or someone else could see this as taking Megatron’s methods to a whole new level. Optimus pulls executive decision and says that the decision rests with him alone, much to Bumblebee’s and every one else’s discomfort. Except, Bumblebee’s the leader of the Autobots now… in fact Xaaron in this very scene says that the decision to execute Megatron rests with ‘Bee, so, why is Optimus now suddenly taking command? I think part of the answer is that Optimus doesn’t think that anyone else can handle Megatron, but Rodimus points out the reverse, that Optimus’ judgment is so impaired by revenge and anger towards Megatron that he wouldn’t make the right call. And in the following scene, that is indeed put to the test, as Megatron exploits one aspect of Optimus’ motives:
“This isn’t about me.”
“Of course it’s about you. It’s always been about you. You’re the most venerated Cybertronian who has ever lived. Hero, patriot, icon= and it’s all thanks to me. Without this war, you’d be just another Autobot, another wasted spark who left no trace. Another nobody. And that’s why, deep down, you’re glad for this war. What’s a few million fatalities if it secures your legacy, eh?”
Optimus' reaction to this is even more telling, as he then electrocutes Megatron with the flick of a switch, causing him much pain… Megatron that is, not Optimus. This indicates that Megatron may be right in part, that Optimus’ ego may indeed be why he’s carried on this war for so long, and may perhaps be why Optimus in the end doesn’t decide to kill Megatron…
            This issue is a “Must Read” for me, because it focuses so much on Optimus and Megatron’s relationship. It really tries to get at all the facets of that, and I think it succeeds! It did a great job of humanizing both characters. The artwork is fantastic; Milne really makes the Figueroa designs come to life while making their visual appeal more accessible to those who don’t enjoy the Movie-ized G1 character models, such as simplifying and streamlining a lot of the characters’ armor. The flashback stuff was nice too, though I did find it a little distracting; we already know how and why Megatron did what he did, and this just kind of rehashed it a little too much. Ultimately, though, this proved to be the best that the Ongoing series had to offer. Next time, we’ll return to Prime and see a return to form with “Legacy”.

June 19, 2013

Day 25

Vanessa and I after seeing Man of Steel! We loved it!

Woke up and got the last of my review written and revised for tomorrow. I've started watching Alias, which is really good! It's like Buffy meets Leverage meets 24! It's awesome. Then saw Man of Steel with my friend Vanessa! We had a great time. The movie's great; there's so much action on the screen that your mind just kinda melts from all the visuals... it's insane! Great day today; tomorrow I have my violin lesson. Should be good.

June 18, 2013

Day 24


Pretty mellow day today. Wrote my first draft of my next review, coming this Thursday, so that was good to get my thoughts on paper. Practiced the violin, too! It was rather rough, not having practiced in a week, so hopefully I'll be able to get back in the swing of it by Thursday. Mom came home and she took me to get a haircut, then we went to get our laundry done at the laundromat, and finally we stopped at the grocery store. The mail came today, including two packages for me! The first was a replacement cable to connect my violin to the pickup and preamp, and the second were two new Transformers that my Mom got me! Thanks, Mom. Now having pizza and hanging out. Tomorrow should be fun, as I'm going to see Man of Steel with a friend of mine! Looking forward to that.

June 17, 2013

Day 23

No picture today... sorry!
Said my goodbyes to the family this morning, and then headed off for really irritating airport security that seemed to relish it's incompetence! Then got on a plain and sat there for forever until I returned home. Yay. Needless to say, I'm pretty whipped, and I'll have more stuff tomorrow.

June 16, 2013

Day 22

Happy Father's Day, everyone. Last day here! It's been a great trip! Talking with Grandpa really put me in a good mood. He's so upbeat about things, and that's great. Composed a violin duet piece today, and my cousins and I worked out a maxi series with nine different interconnected stories! It's insane! Had a lovely trip! Gotta catch a plane tomorrow!

June 15, 2013

Day 21

Having a fun time!
Rather lethargic day today. Chris left around 1:00, and then Danny and I watched some more 24. Then my cousins and their family went to Mass while my Mom and I stayed over at Grandpa's house. Ate yummy chicken and then went out for awesometacular Sweet Frog frozen yoghurt! Told stories, had some lovely conversations, and then Dan and I watched yet some more 24! Now off to bed  tomorrow is my last full day here!

June 14, 2013

Day 20

Chris is here!!! (For some reason I can't smile in this picture...)
20 days in!
Slept in 'till 12:00 today. The girls were at violin, so Dan and I talked and told each other recaps of episodes and seasons of TV shows. Then watched 24. Girls came back, we all ate some yummy dinner, and had awesome cheesecake! Then Chris came and things are cool.

June 13, 2013

Day 19

All gussied up!
Had a good day today. Spent it hanging with the cousins and Grandpa. Dressed up for dinner in celebration of the cruise that we were supposed to be on! That was fun! Here's a photo of everyone:

Yep! Watched more 24 with Danny and now heading to bed!

Day 18

Here's the family!
Had a great day today! Made hexaflexagons (sort of...) had some great discussions and reminisces and then ate yummy food! Also showed Dan the TV shoe 24! He likes it! More later.

June 11, 2013

Day 17

Hanging with the cousins!
Today was a good day of hanging out and talking about geeky things. Got to see Grandpa awake and talk to him! That was excellent to see him awake and happy! Good start to what is sure to be a cool week!
Accidentally knocked Danny into a chair... sorry!

June 10, 2013

Day 16

Arrived inVirginia, at 11:30 PM! Long day of traveling, but at least we're here now. Update on me and my family tomorrow. 

June 9, 2013

Day 15

Wheeeeeee! Wee wee! Whhheeeee!!!

Woke up at around 11:00 again today, feeling a little better, but still kinda drained of energy. It's just too damn hot here! Anyway, we went to the laundromat to do our laundry today, since our washer and dryer are gone, because they were old, and we needed them out of the garage for the guys to put the new cement in, and... anyway, we did that. Then we came home, I did a little reading and painting up of some of my Transformers figures, then we went out to dinner at Flying Star. Came home, did some more painting of TFs, and now am heading to bed, for I am really tired...
Looking forward to seeing my family tomorrow. My grandfather is on his last legs it looks like, but he's at peace with it, and is happy, so that's reassuring. It'll be nice to see him and spend time with him this next week.

June 8, 2013

Day 14

Little behind on my comics, so this was a nice way to catch up!

First, took my violin in to get its strings changed, pick up some rosin, and get a second copy of Lindsey's Phantom Medley, just to have a pristine one for her to inevitably sign when I see her again... which I will... hopefully someday!
After that, went to the comic book store, and picked up the loot pictured. I like what's going on in Superior Spider-Man right now, and I like TF:RID as well! Iron Man is okay, which is odd, because the Invincible Iron Man comic was Marvel's strongest comic, and this one just seems weaker... I don't know, maybe it's just me.
It's really hot here (in the high 90's), and I'm really tired, so I'm gonna call it a night. See you guys tomorrow. One more day 'till we leave for Virginia! Yay!

June 7, 2013

Day 13

VERY blurry shot of an Autobot emblem (that's the big black barely-visible blob in the center, there) on a Bumblebee-ish car! Pretty cool. Again, sorry for the bulrryness...

Slept 'till 11:00 today (uh, that's AM... I'm not that lazy!) Came across this really cool tutorial on how to paint and modify the Prime RID Arcee figure, linked here. I had a ton of fun reading about how this guy did all the stuff he did to the figure, and it was just a fun thread to read.
That then led me to look at all these fantastic customs found at the TFW2005 Radicons section.
After spending a good two hours looking at some lovely custom figures, my Mom and I met up with my friend Aaron and his family for dinner and a movie. We saw Fast and Furious 6. I liked the action in it... there wasn't much of a plot, but it had enough action and high-octane car chases to get me through. I did like the ridiculousness of this plane that travels on a what-had-to-be continent-sized runway. Then there was the space and mass-altering tank that was supposedly carried in this average-sized 18-wheeler trailer! That thing just ballooned out of it's casing! Anyway, it was an insane movie.
Came home and had some yummy ice-cream with strawberries and chocolate syrup and whipped creem! Needless to say, I'm a little sugared up! See you guys tomorrow.

June 6, 2013

Day 12

Oh, yeah. That'll buff right out!

So, the people came to get all of the concrete out of the garage and driveway today. Really loud! They'll be back tomorrow for more of that stuff, so that should be nice.
Watched some Justice League, practiced the violin, bagged and boarded my comic books, and posted my latest review! You can view that here.
So, I'm pretty tired today; had to get up when my Mom left to be ready to open the garage door for the people... y'know, so they could actually work on it. As such, I'm gonna hit the sack early tonight. See you all tomorrow!

Shadowcon Reviews- Revenge of the Decepticons

Shadowcon Reviews: IDW Transformers Ongoing #14-18: “Revenge of the Decepticons”

The Ongoing series was meant to thin the Autobot cast back down to basic players, and also to be able to kind of revisit the Simon Furman era of the comic, that of Earth-based or centered stories. While All Hail Megatron had done that to a degree, the focus there was on the Autobots’ defeat and the conquering of Earth, while the Ongoing series’ focus is on the Autobots’ victory and subsequent dealings on Earth, such as with the humans, tension amongst the crew, leadership positions, etc. The “Revenge of the Decepticons” storyline brought me back to what I loved about the series: that of careful plotting character dynamic, and this one happened to focus on Optimus, and to a lesser extent Megatron, which was a happy bonus.
Previously, we had taken a look at both Optimus’ and Megatron’s motives and positions during the war, and what their goals were. Now, we take a look at how those goals play out, and how the two actually fight; because in this arc, very little hand-to-hand combat happens; a lot of this is setup and calling one’s bluff, so it’s more of a chess game than anything else. This is a great take on the Cybertronian War, which over the years has gotten to be so ridiculously long in some series, that you wonder how there could be anyone left when all this fighting is going on. IDW presents us with a far more realistic vision of what the war would be like in the present, with either side drained of resources and resorting to duplicity of entire worlds to further their own ends, and psyching the other side out and making them blink.
This story is I think one of the stronger stories in the IDW fiction. First, the plot is super tight, with lots of great lines, and a moral dilemma that can really be seen from either the humans’ or the Autobots’ point of view. Second, the art is fantastic. Alex Milne and Don Figueroa do an amazing job with the art, blending the Movie-verse complexities with the G1 bodies, which result in very real-looking and plausible robot designs. Third, the characters are well written, stay in-character for the whole arc, and are three-dimensional. Of particular note is Optimus Prime, who is pushed to the edge and must confront his demons both in the form of Megatron and in the form of the near breaking of his own moral code.
The first two-thirds of this story is focused around the humans’ interaction and mistrust of the Autobots, which is executed pretty well. The US government’s collusion with the Autobots is met with natural indignation and contempt by its citizens in the wake of the Earth Occupation in All Hail Megatron. I really like this because it gives the humans actual presence and they are the threat this time around, which is something not often seen in Transformers lore.
In fact, the Autobots that are under attack are often presented as aggressive and adversarial; while we sympathize with them by default, in the back of our minds we recognize that the humans who threaten them are only civilians, and thus our moral compass is spinning in a daze: do we side with the supposed Autobot heroes, especially after Jazz kills a human in cold blood, or do we side with the humans, who are by all accounts right, as they’ve been lied to by their own government? That moral dilemma and questioning of who was in the right was handled brilliantly. Jazz’s killing of the human police officer is also a real shock, because it Jazz did what he did out of miscommunication, and not because the human was inherently evil. Indeed, the man was a good cop; Bumblebee had calmed him down to the point where he was willing to lower his gun. But all Jazz saw was a man with a gun who had pointed it at Bumblebee. During all of this, the Decepticons are watching and pulling the strings to great effect. We know what’s going on, but the Autobots and the humans struggle to keep up with the Decepticons’ machinations.
Megatron is written very well in this arc. He’s masterminded a trust test between the Autobots and the humans, and the Autobots were the ones that blinked. And thus Megatron, in the end, wins! As he says, Optimus’ philosophy of seeing the good in everyone has failed, as Optimus’ own lay wounded not by the Decepticons’ hand, but by the humans’. Megatron’s goal has always been to beat Optimus and to show Optimus that he is his superior in every way. Here, Megatron proves that he’s not only Prime’s better in strength, but also in intelligence: Megatron has shown Prime the face of humanity that Prime himself never looks at, the face of corruption and fear, of deceit and mistrust. And Megatron’s endgame is masterful as ever, as he reveals to Optimus that his plan is to hurt Optimus not through violence, but by making Prime see that for all his speeches and pontifications of goodness in humanity, his Autobots will be destroyed by the humans themselves. I loved that this happened; it reinforced Megatron as a threat to Optimus not by his beating Optimus up, but through making Megatron challenge Optimus’ philosophy and psychologically messing him up, which is in character for this continuity’s version of Megatron and the state of the Cybertronian war in general.
The Autobots are rescued, and Optimus is pretty pissed off that Megatron nearly beat him; some might say that Megatron did beat him, after all, Jazz did prove Megatron’s point, that humanity is a threat when presented with mistrust and deceit… and Optimus can’t acknowledge that. Optimus then storms out with vengeance on his mind. I think one of the reasons that this Optimus is such a strong character is that, like Prime Optimus, IDW Optimus rarely looses his cool, and when he does, he does so because he recognizes that Megatron has beaten him. All of his trying to build trust between the humans and Autobots has failed, and he has no one to blame but his nemesis, Megatron. As we’ll see next time, Optimus and Megatron know each other so well, understand each other to the point of interchangeability, that losing to someone whose every flaw is known to him… well, you can understand why Optimus is so guilt-ridden and vengeful.
This is where we really get to see the two philosophies collide. After a really neat battle involving a kinetic harpoon (which is in fact a real thing!), Optimus looses it altogether, angrily asking Megatron why he can’t ever die. We don’t get to see the ensuing fight, just the aftermath, where Megatron drags a damaged Optimus back to the Autobots… and then surrenders. Optimus questions him, only to find that, according to Megatron, the humans have already been duplicitous in their collaboration with the Autobots. Spike, Optimus’ human compatriot, killed the Decepticon Scrapper in a previous issue, and here Megatron brings that up, saying that Optimus is himself a traitor to his race, echoing what a human had said about the US government when the truth was revealed about them working with the Autobots in the first place. It ties the whole tale together perfectly. And with that seed of doubt and mistrust of the humans planted in Optimus’ mind, he orders Prowl to investigate Spike’s actions regarding the death of Scrapper, thus playing Megatron’s game now.
              I think the arc as a whole receives a “Must Read”. It had great character dynamic, excellent pacing, and fantastic art by Alex Milne and Don Figueroa. Optimus and Megatron’s argument will continue in “Chaos Theory”, which we will look at next time!

June 5, 2013

Day 11

So, my History teacher said that over the summer we had to read a book having to do with our Senior Thesis topic. Well, my Mom got this for me, which means I now have three summer reading books that I have to read this summer instead of the one I started out with! Greeeaaat!
Okay, so I spent almost the whole day finishing up the first book to A Song of Ice and Fire! I have to say, I really liked the ending!
The rest of the day was spent cleaning out the garage. We got it all cleaned out! See:
So that's pretty cool! We still actually have the washer and dryer in there, but we'll have the concrete guy come and help us move those! But I'm just so startled that we got everything moved! Yay us. 
Went out to eat, came back, and I worked on finishing my rough draft for tomorrow's review. Because if there's one thing that screams quality, it's pumping out a rough draft of a thing that's due Thursday on the night before it's due! Anyway, look forward to a final draft (hopefully) tomorrow!
And lastly, here's a cool biology video I found! Enjoy:

June 4, 2013

Day 10

Discovered the band Rival Sons! I'm becoming more and more of a fan of rock and blues rock, and this is a pretty cool entry in my music library!
So, I'm ten days into the 365 project. That's cool. Practiced the violin today, but I had no lesson today because the schedule's all weird 'cause of summer. I talked to a friend of mine today and she recommended a show called The Newsroom. After doing a little research, I found that its written by Aaron Sorkin, and right away, I was like "okay, I am there!" Sorkin wrote the four seasons of the West Wing, and I loved that; he wrote The Social Network, and I loved that! So I now really want to see this. Unfortunately, it's on HBO, and I don't get HBO, so now I'm of course looking for online outlets. Anyone who knows where I can watch the first season online for free (it's not available for streaming on Netflix, I already tried it), let me know.
Cleaned out more of the garage; I'll hopefully have a picture of it all cleared out soon! Now getting ready for bed. 'Night all.

June 3, 2013

Day 9

Here's me (left) and my friend Davis (right)! We rehearsed Phantom at my house today! It was pretty cool.
I have horrible bug bit rashes on my lower legs that I got from being outside for seven plus hours yesterday! So those itch like hell! :(
Cleaned out more of the garage, and am now laying around, thinking about going to bed early.  Y'know after not doing anything exhausting all day, I'm naturally pretty whipped!

June 2, 2013

Day 8

Us hangin' out during the Matanza!
So today was full of hilarity and awesome! Went to my friend's Matanza party and it rocked! One of my friends' boyfriend is a huge comic book nerd, so he and I just talked for like three hours! It was great! Then my friend Miranda showed up, and then we all got into a huge no-topic conversation about everything! It was so funny. Now eating dinner with my Mom at Flying Star per our Sunday night ritual. All in all, a fantastic day.
Here's a pic of Miranda laughing really really hard! Kaitlin said we broke her!

June 1, 2013

Day 7

SAT done!!! Ha!

Well, thank God that's over with! Hopefully I won't have to retake it.
So, so many cool things went on today. First off, I watched the latest Transformers Prime episode (I don't get the Hub Network, so I have to wait for the episode to show up on YouTube), and it was great! I totally ship Arcee and Wheeljack, because they're just so perfect together. And Miko and Jack would make a great brother/sister duo. So many great moments in this episode, despite the plot being a retread of Season Two's, this had enough character elements to still make it enjoyable. Now I'm going into review mode, sorry!
I painted up my new Ultra Magnus to be more show-accurate, and then my Mom and I went to dinner and then to the grocery store to pick up some food to make my side dish that I need to bring tomorrow for a local Matanza that a friend of mine is hosting! Should be fun. I also ordered Danny's birthday present! He's gonna love it!
Lastly, here's a great flashmob video that I found! It made me cry, because it was just so inspiring and gave me hope for the human race!
So, hope you all had a good day. So glad the SAT's over. I'll hopefully get a pic of the party in action tomorrow!