April 30, 2014

Day 340

I have a really awful headache. That's partly why I'm blogging early tonight, also because I'm staying up really late tomorrow night to help set up for senior prank.

Anyway, today was pretty cool. We had STAM first in which we worked more on our projects. I'm going to go over mine with the teacher tomorrow to see what could be fixed or improved. Presentations were fun today. The first was talking about how music should be taught in elementary schools as a core subject, because music helps children develop other skills besides music like reading, math, and test-taking. It was a nice simple presentation.

The second was on a history of alchemy and it's influence on modern science, as well as arguing against a large portion of the myths that have been built up around the subject of alchemy. The presentation was cool because it dove into some of the historical figures of alchemy and then talked about modern scientific advancements that some consider scary or unethical. It was neat.

Advanced English was a work day, though I was done with my portfolio project. So, instead, I read these fantastic articles that my friend who did the Star Trek presentation gave me and now I'm adding them in to my thesis... two days before classes get out! Man, I'm such a need! Anyway, these papers were fascinating and really summed up the first half of my thesis really well!

In strings, we got new music for the big end of the year concert that all of us hate. We're doing America the Beautiful, Pompeii,  and an arrangement of some tunes from West Side Story. America is the weirdest one; lots of half position and unintuitive runs.

Went to Costco after school today to get some supplies for tomorrow's prank setup. Now I'm home about to eat dinner and go to bed. Goodnight all (even though this is super early for me... sorry)

April 29, 2014

Day 339

Had a great day of thesis presentations and a little bit of STAM in which we did absolutely nothing. The first two thesis presentations were really awesome! The first was on how Calvin and Hobbes exemplifies and underscores the importance of friendship and what it means to have friends in the increasingly technology-heavy world in which we live. It was super cute and really well done because the presenter had a real passion and personal connection to his topic that really made us care about him and about his subject.

The second presentation was pretty messed up in terms of subject matter. It talked about the relationship between chimpanzees and series killers... I think. The topic was actually very hard to follow and there was some interesting stuff in there, but I'm honestly not sure what the presentation was trying to say. Still, it was a pretty good effort and it had an awesome history section on a famous series killer who drilled holes into people's heads while they were still alive and then killed them by pouring acid into their skulls!!! Jesus fucking Christ!!!

So, after that comforting thought, we had lunch. Then it was time for both my friend's presentation that she was very nervous about, and after that my most anticipated presentation of them all! The first one was okay. My friend's nerves showed a little bit throughout and her topic itself was again a little... not flimsy, but I don't think she elaborated on it as much as she could have. It was basically advocating for the teachings of the four noble truths in schools in order to increase student happiness. The presentation had these graphs because the presenter conducted a school survey on student and faculty happiness levels, and that was good, but the whole thing felt just a tad disjointed. The Q&A portion of this however was great. My friend handled herself extremely well in the face of rather opposing questions to her view, and that was good to see her deal with that in a professional manner.

The fourth and final presentation was the one I had been looking forward to the most, and I'm happy to say that this was a damn good presentation. Certainly not the best of the bunch, but personally, it was my favorite, because the subject was examining the feminine mistique, the Other, and the Form A and Not A view all through the lens of Star Trek, specifically Star Trek Voyager. Now, there are two reasons I absolutely loved this. First, look at all the topics this person is trying to cover! She introduced all of this very quickly and summed it up very rapidly, and she did it reasonably well. But then she started talking about Voyager, and this was the point where I got super excited. I hate Voysger. It's the worst Trek series, in my opinion (we are of course under the assumption that the show that came after it didn't happen... which it didn't), and I don't think it's rich enough for scholarly analysis. But this is why I absolutely loved this presentation, because it proved me wrong. I still don't like Voyageer, but look at this! Look at what the topic is about! Look at the topics the paper is trying to cover! And it makes me want to weep at what Voyager could have been had it injected a little more of what this presentation was talking about into the show itself. The presenter used clips that I always found to be very weak, but she made them relevant and made good use of them as support for her argument! This was a phenomenal presentation, and I'm absolutely floored by what she did with the Voyager show. I still don't like Voyager, but I absolutely love that someone constructed an argument the default position of which was that Voyager was good! And this wasn't even arguing for the legitimacy of the show! That aspect of it was a predicate for the actual presentation! Fucking brilliant!

Sorry! Rant over! Track was pretty windy and cold today and composition tutoring was alright too. Looked at some more piano stuff and talked about orchestration and some of the tricks one can use to make a small orchestra feel like a big one. It was pretty fun.

My phisical copy of Shatter Me arrived today!!! I do have thoughts on this, so expect that post this weekend! Now I'm just waiting for my signed copy of it! Hope it arrives soon. Watched some SHIELD, which continues to surprise and impress me in its final episodes! Nos I'm off to bed. Looking forward to tomorrow!

April 28, 2014

Day 338

And so, the last week of classes begins! And it began pretty well today too. Had STAM first, but it was okay because we had a project work day, so it wasn't too eventful. I'm also happy about this because I'm pretty much done with my project at this point! I've gotten in the one- and two-variable statistics, and now I'm just waiting to hear back from the teacher about whether or not I did them correctly or not (though I'm sure I did). After this was a session of colloquium presentations, both of which were pretty good. One of them was about fraternal twins and an exploration of both the scientific as well as the sociological and personal nuances and qualities found in fraternal twins. It was pretty interesting, as the speaker herself is a fraternal twin, so this related a lot to her and her life, and the way she incorporated that was nicely done.

The second presentation was very powerful. It was arguing for the legalization of physician-assisted suicide, and the lens through which this argument was made was very depressing but also drove it home, as the speaker talked about her dad who had died in 2009 after contracting a fatal disease three years prior, and how by the end he was in so much pain that his family wanted to just put him out of his misery. The presentation focussed on that and on the benefits of the treatment, as well as the obvious ethical debates surrounding it. Very powerful and super depressing. Not a happy way to go into lunch, but still a great presentation all around.

Advanced English was another period of work-related activity. I've now completed my portfolio for the most part. I just have to print everything out and put everything together in a binder to turn in. Strings was really fun today because it was a party! I made cookies, and a friend also made cookies, and other people brought two-dozen donuts and a bag of chips and salsa! It was a really great way to end the day, and we listened to music (even a little bit of Lindsey Stirling, which made me happy) and did some dancing. I don't like dancing, but I did participate if reluctantly.

Track was very windy, so we only did a half-hour practice. We have districts on Friday and I'm trying to see if I can get out of going because it's my last day. Though I suppose if other seniors are going, I should probably go too. Moral conflict here, ladies and gentlemen! Anyway, I came home and finished up my Advanced English portfolio and I'm now ready for bed. Goodnight everyone!

April 27, 2014

Day 337

Alright, so I had a pretty good day today! Woke up and did my two-variable analysis for STAM, so that's now taken care of which is nice. We started putting the spare room back together today too! Moving all the books back in was a huge relief because now our hallway is almost able to be traversed by two people at the same time! Sweet! I also worked a little bit on my summer writer's workshop outline. It's coming along nicely. I'm hoping to get more of it done tomorrow night in lieu of going to AYS.

Speaking of AYS, the concert went very well! I got there at around six because we needed to rehearse prior to the AYO performance, and so we did that. And then AYO performed, and that was lovely. They have a much more relaxed feeling about them than I think we do, and they sounded great! I honestly don't know why everyone (including me; I'm not exempted here) is complaining about with that orchestra, because it's a damn fine orchestra. Then it was AYS's turn to perform, and we did alright. Actually, the Barber violin concerto was superb of course because the soloist is just this amazing violinist! She makes it look so easy! As it was our final concert of the season proper, they did do senior recognition, and those of us who are seniors stood up on our chairs. It was pretty scary because first, I'm afraid of heights, even minor hieghts like this, and second because the chair was on uneven ground on stage, so it was kind of wobbly! But the recognition was nice, and I'm glad that they do that.

A large portion of my school came to se us perform, which I thought was super nice and I'm glad that they supported us like this for our last hurrah! We got out of there by 9:30, and I came home and now I'm ready for bed. This week should be cake! I'm looking forward to it, provided the wind dies down!

April 26, 2014

Day 336

Alright, so every once in a while, I check out the views and activity on newer posts, and today I noticed that my Winter Soldier Mini-View has gained quite a lot of attention, apparently only over the last couple of days? Why? I'm not complaining by any means, but I'm really curious as to what made these past few days special and why that post out of all the posts I've done has been the target of attention.

Anyway, today itself kinda sucked. The wind is howling like this... nevermind, I'm sure you know it. But seriously, this Albuquerque wind is ridiculous! I had a track meet, and our tent which was weighted down with bags and rope still managed to get picked up by the wind not once but twice! It was crazy, and the worst part was that the meet wasn't over until 8:00!!! Only a couple of our people stayed the full time, but still! I got home at around 3:15, and I not only had to take a shower to get all the sand out of my hair, but then I had to use a comb, an appliance I had not used for the better part of three years now, just to unknot my hair afterwards! It was actually really disgusting!

Had a violin lesson today to make up for last Thursday (that's why I had to leave the track meet early), and we worked pretty hard on the Kabolevsky violin concerto. I've gotten to this point in the piece with all these chords that are really weird finger-wise, but actually pretty intuitive and smart. They're just not very ear-friendly. Came back home and put the spare room back together... sort of. We screwed on the vents and outlet covers, and put the shelves back together, and tomorrow we're going to start putting stuff back in there! Yay! Went out to dinner and had some yummy Thai food, then came back home and I worked on my Advanced English homework. I'm about ready for bed though. Goodnight everyone!

April 25, 2014

Day 335

Lots of chess tosdy! Pretty much played all day today. The first game was pretty good even though I lost. I had some good moments in there. Took a break andgot some good fun speed chess games in. The second and final game was the best one beaches I won, but also because I had a really awesome endgame! My team got third place overall, but I didn't stay for the awards ceremony because I had to get back to school for track.

Track was very short today. I did get the packet for my final Advanced English project, a portfolio showcasing our writing this year. It's kind of a daunting project, but upong coming home, I set to work on it because that's what I do on Fridays and got about a third of it done.

Also spent a huge portion of the afternoon on Facebook having this awesome conversation with various members of the Willamette class of 2018 about Buffy and video games and other TV. It was awesome!

I'm now headed off to bed. I have a track meet tomorrow and then a violin lesson after that. Wish me luck!

April 24, 2014

Day 334

Had an okay day today. Had first block free, and out of the blue, the choir teacher came up to me and asked for the choir parts for the graduation song! So, I printed out like fifteen copies of the thing and have those to her and then finished my Advanced English poetry portfolio.

I had half a free left after this, so I sat in on a presentation. It was... well, it kinda sucked. I hate saying that about another student's work, but I'm sorry, it was really bad. Mostly because she got all of her medical data incorrect and her presentation on the whole was just all over the place. It was supposedly about children and pain medication and suggested ways of combating injuries without resorting to drugs. Truth be told, I loved the topic, but the presenter handled it in such a weird way. She talked a lot about drug use and the medical uses of drugs, and then only very briefly came back to children. I feel so bad for her. Apparently, her presentation went so bad that, according to her, the teacher grading it didn't even put a grade on the thing because it was so disorganized and off the point that it wasn't even deserving of a grade. Damn! They said they'd get harsher with their grading as the week went on, but Jesus Christ!

Anyway, I had STAM next and we worked on cipher math and congruency. It was pretty easy stuff nice you figured out just what was supposed to be happening, and it was dare I say fun! After this, I read some more of Love Letters to the Dead. It's so amazing! It's slow-going just because I've been so busy these past few weeks, but I intend to finish it over the next week or so.

Advanced English was okay. Our teacher forgot that we had class for like the first twenty minutes or so, and when he came in, he just kinda laughed it off. He handled his screwup well! It was a workday to work on our poems anyway. I guess the portfolios weren't due today, but a friend of mine and I had already done the work, so we left. I went off to get seven copies of our Tri-M CD. It has my concerto on it, so my Mom wanted to give a copy to all of the family I guess.

Fourth block was more presentations, these ones actually good! One of my classmates did his thesis on protesting in the Olympics and how he thinks it's a good thing. This was certainly one of the most well put together and once again, just fascinating! The presenter had incredible stage presence and he knew exactly what he was talking about! The second presentation was very strong as well. This one was on CGI and how it has mostly become a detractor from the plot of the average movie. This one was super cool, and I approved wholeheartedly of the jape he made at the Transformers films! Both were really great, and it was a nice way to end the day.

Had the first round of chess state championships tonight. Got to the hotel where this was hosted at around 6:00 and had this fantastic Indisn taco for dinner! It was amazing! The chess match itself began at 6:30 and I played until 8:15! I lost, but this game was pretty fun. Had a lot of pawn maneuvering and stand offs in this one which I'm not very good at coping with, but I managed to hold my own up until the endgame. Ah well. Two more rounds to go tomorrow! I'm now super tired and I'm going to bed now. Goodnight!

April 23, 2014

Day 333

Had a pretty good day today. I had a very quick rehearsal for Strings today in preparation for our concert that was tonight (more on that below), and then had STAM in which we went over ciphers and codes and finally made sense of the stuff that we had no idea what to do with yesterday. Spent the free portions of both those blocks hanging out and trying to crank out two more poems for tomorrow's poetry portfolio (I still have one more to do!)

Colloquium presentations today were just awesome! The first one was this presentation about how to better teach kids about snakes and how to conquer your fear of snakes! I have a huge fear of snakes, but I found the history and current teaching methods fascinating to learn about. The speaker also talked about her project that she conducted throughout the year surveying classes taught about snakes and the surveys that she created about people's fear of snakes and all that. It was super interesting. But then she brought in live snakes! It was the most crazy thing! THis was both awesome and terrifying, because she talked about how we should hold them, a little about their biology, how we should pet them, etc.. But also there were live snakes in the classroom! Carefully monitored, of course, and none of them poisonous, but still! This was actually a really cool presentation despite my phobia, and it was super interesting!

The second one that stood out to me was a presentation on golf! I know, right! Golf? Like, I hate golf. It's so boring! But this presentation was just so fascinating! She talked about the evolution of the golf ball and gold club technology and how she thinks that with more advances in technology, women could compete against men in pro tournaments! The terminology was cool, the stats were super interesting, and her strategies for getting us to the point of seeing mixed-sex matches was just fascinating!

The strings concert was okay in terms of performing. We didn't really do our best, but we did enough to where it was passable. The soloist was fantastic, and the teacher's sendoff to us seniors was very touching! We all got coffee mugs as gifts, and we presented the teacher with class gifts and it was all great. I'm super tired now, so I'm off to bed! It was a great run of strings!

Oh, and the Shatter Me music video is ut! It's fantastic! Watch it here!

April 22, 2014

Day 332

Well, today was the big day of stuff! I had my recitation of my poem for Advanced English, which went of alright, though I of course botched the first line right off the bat and then threw a needlessly over-the-top tantrum about it before resuming. It was alright, and I'm glad that it's done.

In strings, we had our cello soloist come in to rehearse with us, and I think that's our strongest piece out of the whole program. We are not really prepared for tomorrow's concert, if truth be told, and ti's not even that the music is all that difficult. It's that we've become pretty lazy about this class, and it really is a real shame, because all of us are pretty good players (some of us are excellent players), and we all have the potential to be great if we work hard enough at it. We always pull through the concert, but it would be nice if we had some confidence going into it!

Well, after that, we had our commencement speech tryouts. I did not win (thank God; I was nervous getting up in front of 72 people, I can't imagine what I'd've been like in front of a thousand!) My speech was completely impromptu, and I think what I had to say was worth something, and I'm glad I at least had this opportunity to present my views on the school. Once again, I'm very glad to have this over with.

Then came the big event! My colloquium presentation was a huge hit! I even got an A for the project, which I'm proud of because they apparently are grading these things really hard! I covered everything I rehearsed for, and I did it with about a minute to spare! And all the video stuff went off without a hitch! Thank God! The Q&A session was alright; one of the questions I got for feedback on the little slips of paper that we all have to fill out for these things asked if it were possible for a "Strong Female Character" stereotype to exist for a character who wasn't physically violent. That really got me thinking about the parameters that I set in the presentation. I'm very glad that this went off well, and I'm glad it's over, though I do still need to present for Colloquium Night, which is the big deal!

Composition tutoring was alright also. I worked on my piano sonata, and we talked about inspiration and doodles and writing down all the little ideas you have in your head. Also worked on some piano exercises. Came home and watched the latest SHIELD! It was pretty cool, though I was hoping Acker's character would do more, but that's probably because I'm used to her being very active in Person of Interest. I did like the suspense that the episode brought, and Coulson's character got a huge boost in terms of complexity and emotion. I liked the subplot with Skye and Ward! That was exciting.

Well, I'm off to bed now after an exhausting day of presenting stuff. Wish me luck on the strings concert tomorrow!

April 21, 2014

Day 331

Colloquium presentations started today!!! Actually, a lot of stuff happened today, but we'll get to all of it in due course. First off, the colloquium presentations! Now, I have to say that I was already really excited about all of this stuff! To see even a truncated version of almost everyone's thesis is just a real treat, and we kicked things off with a good friend of mine presenting his views on Heavy Metal and how it's used to express yourself. It was a really good start to the two weeks of this. There are two presentations per class normally, so the next person to present talked about how the Harry Potter series should be put next to King Arthur as a direct comparison. She even talked about the similarities between the two, and it was really interesting.

Had a short break for me and then it was right bak into the room, this time for me helping out with a friend of mine's colloquium. The Beethoven went off alright, though the second to last note of the opening was really off. The Aces High opening did not go well because I forgot to count! Dammit! I felt terrible. HE handled it well though, and with a few more practices and with my brain counting up to six, it should all be fine. His presentation itself was the weakest one (and not just because I was a part of it). He presented this really dumbed-down course on music theory that was both incorrect and pretentious. It really irked me a d a few of my friends.

But then we got to see the second presentation of the period, and this one was the best out of the six I saw today. This guy talked about how education in the classroom has become very rigid and geared less towards individual learning and more towards a uniform system that doesn't work for everyone (hell, hardly anyone, let's face it). He looked at how teenage boys are a lot more antsy and fidgety in class than teenage girls due to development and maturity, and how we should be developing a system where we're allowing students to have something to do with their hands during class, or having class outside, or even just having the teacher make an effort to get out from behind the desk and engage his or her students with his whole person. It was just a really awesome presentation, and it was a personal one for the presenter because he tied his own experiences into what he was talking about, and it was very well put together.

I didn't have any classes third block, so I decided to go back in and listen to more colloquium presentations because why the hell not? The first of the two presentations this time was looking at rape culture and how some music continues to dull our awareness of rape and of how bad it is in our society. It was a really fascinating look at some of the lyrics in these songs and how they basically endorse rape, and then the presenter went on to discuss how we as a culture are becoming less and less aware of how we use the word rape, and even how we view it in our society. Again, this one was a fascinating topic, but the presenter was clearly extremely nervous and had  little technical issue with the computer right off the bat, so that probably didn't help her nerves.

The second presentation was on how Hip Hop music can be used as a form of expressing oneself but that we don't often hear that type of Hip Hop music on the radio. There were a ton of music ones today come to think of it. This one was alright. I think this was really cool, because again, it talked about how these artists inject a lot of their personal experiences into the songs that they write and how we don't really get exposed to those as much in regular daily life. It was pretty neat, and I liked the songs she chose to prove her point.

Fourth block I also didn't have any classes, but I decided to rehearse my own presentation which is tomorrow, and I'm pretty nervous about it, all things considered! I'm worried that I'm going to leave something crucial out of my lecture, and I'm also worried that I'm going to get off the point. And then of course there's the tech stuff wit hte videos and the powerpoint, and I really hope everything works! I also have my commencement try-outs speech tomorrow, and I'm actually more nervous for that than I am anything else, probably because I've only looked at it like once in the past three days! I'm sure it'll go fine.

So, I found out that Lindsey's title song for her next album, "Shatter Me" is now available on iTunes in the US, and I gave in to temptation and downloaded it despite me already having two copies of the CD preoredered! It's a fantastic song, and that's all I'm going to say for now as I'm probably going to be doing a review or something of some kind regarding the whole thing. After AYS, I also came home to my copy of Lindsey's new Play-Along book, and with this, I am now able to learn Lindsey's cover of "Radioactive" and "Star Wars Medley"! I am so stoked about this, and on top of this gift, I also received my own Marionberry Jam courtesy of Willamette University (apparently it's like a tradition that every freshmen get a jar) and I'm really happy about this. I must have made the right choice of school if they'll be sending me food periodically!

Well, that's all from me today. I must get some good and fast sleep for my big day of things tomorrow! Wish me luck!

April 20, 2014

Day 330

Had a really long day of painting the spare room! All day! It was exhausting, but we did get all the walls pained! Now all that's left to do is the trim on the baseboards and around the door frames and such. I took a nap in the middle of the day because i was super tired of painting. Then got back up and did more painting. It was a whole painting thing!

Worked a little on finalizing my colloquium notes! I'm super nervous for all the stuff I have to do Tuesday! Practiced the violin too; worked on my friend's excerpts for his presentation tomorrow. I really hope I don't mess it up for him! Also began making the list of invitees for my graduation party. That was fun, and I'm also now learning how to make a Facebook event! That's exciting. Tomorrow should be fun because we have presentations in the morning and then that'll give me time to work on my presentations for Tuesday. Should be good. Sorry this is such a short post, but I honestly don't really have that much else to say.

And with that, I'll now say something else! I ripped the audio from Lindsey's Stars Align video and now have it on my phone! This version of the song is so much better than the one on her album (in fact that song is the weakest on there, in my opinion), but the one used for the music video is fantastic! It's so much richer and less screechy, and I love how full the violin sounds this time around. And her singing has been touched up since her album's release, so that's no bad thing either. Anyway, I thought I'd just tell you guys that for no reason!

April 19, 2014

Day 329

Woke up early today to go to the track meet. The meet was interesting because at first the weather was nice, but then it got all stormy, so the schedule was pushed forward by two hours and no lunch break, so we were all out of there by 1:00, which was really good for me because it freed up the rest of my afternoon. We had some great runs at the meet: one of our people ran like a 10-minute 1600! That's an awesome time, and he paced himself so well. Good job to him!

Came back home and my Mom and I began painting the spare room! We started on the ceiling and I started on one of the walls. Then we took a long break because we marathoned Agents of S.H.I.E.L.D., and oh my God! This show is now actually good, with like, actual stakes and character moments! The tie-in with Captain America: The Winter Soldier is great because it means that we now have an actual constant threat, and we get good character development! This show has definitely come a long way since the first batch of pretty poor episodes, and I'm super stoked about Amy Acker's appearance on next week's episode.

Speaking of next week's events, I practiced the pieces I need to work on for my friend's colloquium presentation on Monday, and I also completed my one-variable analysis for my STAM project for Tuesday. Tomorrow, I must run through my commencement speaker try-out speech and my own colloquium presentation one more time! Anyway, I had a nice day today, and tomorrow, we paint some more!

April 18, 2014

Day 328

Had a pretty relaxing Friday off. I did some housework pulling the carpet off of the porch (good lord, was it just a disgusting dusty mess) and replacing the jelly that had expired four months ago and had now mutated into sludge... why I didng notice this before now, I don't know. I also did a little cleanup in the den when a shell spontaneously decided to just fall down taking everything that it was holding down with it. I don't believe in ghosts, but I was admittedly kind of surprised by that.

Anyway, I also wrote up my commencement try out speech that I must give on Tuesday ... which is the same day as my colloquium presentations so, yeah, I really have it stressful for the first half of next week! But I'm glad I got it down on paper. I also rehearsed my colloquium speech and presentation several times today, and it's averaging out to be 19 minutes, which is just about perfect.

Went out to dinner and then came home and marathoner Agents of SHIELD after learning that Amy Acker is going to guest-star as the cellist mentioned back in The Avengers! I'm really looking forward to that, and the stuff I've seen from the show now has really given me hope. There's now definite care being put into the series starting I think with episode 13.

I'm off to bed so that I can be well-rested for tomorrow's loooong track meet! I'll bring something to read!

April 17, 2014

Day 327

Spirit Day! Had a pretty fun Thursday, ending the week on a high note! The Senior class went bowling for the morning, and that was admittedly not very fun. I didn't score any points in the first game at all, but then some friends of mine helped me out and I got in some shots. I think I ended up scoring like twenty points overall or something. This is why I don't do bowling, or really any sport involving a ball: I just end up making a fool of myself!

Returned to school and this was when the real fun began. Okay, so at my school, we have this week that we call Spirit Week, which is basically a week of us celebrating our school spirit. Sounds pretty hokey, right? Well, we make it fun by having like themed days, so like Tuesday was Tropical Tuesday or something, and yesterday was like a dress-like-someone-else day or something. I don't know because I wasn't at school yesterday, but today was the Spirit Day, in which we basically hang out and play games all afternoon. There're obstacle courses set up, huge sumo suits out for us to try to move in, and there's even a barbecue! It's a ton of fun, and really is a nice end to the short week. This year, I hung out and played Apples to Apples with some friends, and it was pretty funny. Even a teacher joined in at one point! That was cool, and again, I'm really loving this whole Senior social interaction goodbye nostalgia thing we got going on here!

Track practice was pretty much nothing (only three people showed up), and then a friend of mine and I ran through what we are performing for his thesis presentation. We ran the first couple bars of Aces High and the opening of Beethoven's 5th. It went better than either of us expected it to, and I think with a few touch ups, we'll be ready for Monday. Had a violin lesson after this, which was good, because I was already warmed up. Worked on the Kabolevsky a lot, adding a new pretty confusing double-stopped section! Made good headway on the work though, and then my Mom and I got burgers and returned home to watch the latest episode of Person of Interest!

This show... oh man! This is probably one of the best episodes they've ever done! That last act just killed me, and really elevated the show to new heights! Just an amazing moral debate and a really dark turn for the series, and I absolutely cannot wait to see next week's episode!

On a completely unrelated note (though this does have to do with TV), I've been toying with the idea of branching out to review other animation. I have a huge interest in tackling the Justice League and Unlimited series, and of course some of the other Transformers shows. Just thought I'd put that out there to wet all of your appetites (and then not deliver on any of this until the proverbial saliva has dried in your mouths a few years down the line from now). Anyway, just thought I'd throw that out there.

April 16, 2014

Day 326

Alright! Had a lovely Senior Ditch day! Spent the middle of the day at a friend's house with a bunch of other people who all brought food! I made brownies! Had some really fun laughs and some yummy food, and then these two guys broke the hammock towards the end. That was really the signal for everyone to leave, I think! Despite that, I am very glad I went to this. it was just a nice social function with friends, very relaxing, and super fun.

Came home and completed and posted \my review of "Darkest Hour"! Check it out when you get the chance. Spent a lot of time just watching Lindsey Stirling videos and posting intermittently on Facebook. Oh, and can I just say, I love the new Twitter layout! It's so much easier because it now tells you which of the people you follow then follow you back without you having to go to their page to see it! It's so nice.

Anyway, also went to Target to pick up some stuff. I looked in the music section and found promotional material for Lindsey's new album! There was a poster and they even played a clip from her "Beyond the Veil" video on the screen overhead where they normally advertise movies and stuff! It was actually really surprised. I mean, I knew that her album's deluxe edition was a Target exclusive, but I did not expect it to be as heavily sponsored or promoted as it evidently is. Congrats, Lindsey! Ran into my friend's boyfriend who works there on the way out. He was our cashier, and it was a pretty funny experience.

Went to the Owl Cafe for dinner and I had this really awesome banana and bownie milkshake! I had some actual food too, but the milkshake was super awesome. Came home, worked a little bit on Colloquium presentation, and am now headed to bed. I must be well-rested for my day of bowling tomorrow!

Shadowcon Reviews- Darkest Hour



Shadowcon Reviews: Transformers Prime season 2 episode 26: “Darkest Hour”

Season Two is by far the weakest season of Prime, but I would like to stress one point that I have come to realize may have come across as something entirely different than what I had intended it to be: I do not hate Season Two. I think Season Two is flawed, some of the plot points and especially the main arc of it were poorly handled, but I do not hate this season of Prime. I just think it was very weak compared to the first season. Obviously, in my Overview, and to an extent in my T-Arc reviews and other episodes that I’ve covered from this season it did come across that way, and I sincerely apologize for that. I don’t hate this season. It’s just the weakest of the three, but there’s still plenty of stuff in here to enjoy.

April 15, 2014

Day 325

So, today was a very interesting day in terms of school, because this was the last day of normal History and English class, and it really marked the end of the Seniors actually learning anything new. I still have STAM, I still have Advanced English, and I still have Strings, but none of those classes are going to be as challenging or as academically heavy as either of my History classes or our English class. I'm kind of sad that we won't be having normal English or History any more, but for what it's worth, I thought 12th grade English was amazing, and I loved Modern History and Post, so there's that.

In STAM we talked about taxes a little bit, oddly fitting considering that it is tax day today. We also talked a little bit about our projects and it turns out that we're pushing the due dates back by a day which is nice. I already have my one-variable analysis done mostly, and getting to work on the two-variable one should be fun if a little tricky (sorry, my hands are lazy and I don't feel like using commas anymore).

Worked a little bit more on my colloquium presentation before Post, and then in Post we had a sub. We still had the technology group present, and they did a pretty good job. They were the best next to ours in terms of organization and presentation (I still think that ours was more well-thought out), and I liked that they kind of tied all the groups back together with their focus on technology touching all the points of our lives that we focussed on in our other groups. It was a nice send-off for Post, even if the actual teacher wasn't here (he went home sick).

In Advanced English, we had some of the class present their poems. Not all of us presented because some of us forgot, and others are presenting on Thursday... when all the Seniors are gone, but whatever. The poems were nice, and it's cool to have peers present. Not much else happened in that class today. It's gotten kind of boring honestly, but I do like poetry and I like what we're doing with the unit. In Strings we had a substitute too! This guy was crazy awesome! He's a trombone player, and the way he rehearsed us was just really funny because while he drilled us on the more weak spots, he also sang along, and his singing and weird vocal flourishes were just really funny to listen to! I was seriously in tears the first time I heard him follow along singing! It wasn't like obnoxious either; it his that perfect balance of hilarity without crossing over into tedium.

After Strings, I finally got my videos onto my colloquium presentation, though it took longer than expected. Basically, the awesome tech guy showed me how to cut a specific scene using Movie Maker, and I cut the scene I wanted all by myself! I was super proud. So, then we tried to upload the clips to YouTube, but like thirty seconds later, I got this email notification that Fox had taken them down because of copyright infringement. And these were unlisted and private! Fox is just ruthless. So then we had to export the whole project and put it into a PowerPoint (I had been using the Google Drive presentation thing which for some reason only has video uploading available through YouTube; you can't upload your own thing which I think is just really dumb). But now I have it on the Student Shared Drive, and I'm hoping that the tech guy can email me it tomorrow so I'll have an extra day to work on it. I even got it down to nineteen minutes with the clips in there! I compressed the Strong Female Character stuff to one slide and like a minute of explaining before rushing into Buffy. It's actually really good.

For dinner, my Mom and I ate out and I had this steak, and oh my God, let me tell you this thing just filled up my stomach to the point that it made me feel really sick... and there's still half of it left! Came home after getting brownie mix and made some brownies for tomorrow's Senior brunch thing! It should be really awesome. Also watched some Buffy episodes just because, and am now headed to bed.

April 14, 2014

Day 324

I had a very good Monday! Most of the day was taken up with tests, but for once that wasn't a really stressful thing. First up was STAM. I think I did alright. There were some confusing bits to it, and the calculator I borrowed (because of course I lost mine) was the earlier version of the model I'm used to so it didn't have a couple features on it, and so it made the calculations a little more cumbersome.

The last class of Modern History was today (next week we begin colloquium presentations during this and the English blocks). We had our world wars test, which I thought was pretty easy. There was one question about WWI that I just didn't know, but other than that I think it went fine. These tests are usually pretty easy. I'm sad that Modern History is over, but I'm really stoked about presentations. Not mine, but everyone else's!

English was next. The English faculty were gone on a retreat to discuss the reading material in the English department, so we had a substitute. We took this absurdly easy reading quiz, and then had the rest of the time to work on our colloquium projects.

Last was strings. We worked on the Vivaldi piece. We actually got new parts for it that were more in line with what the cellist who's performing this actually wants it. The parts are also more fun to play too, so that's cool.

Track was alright. Found out that we're not going to the Thursday meet on account of injuries and my school's Spirit Day, which I'm actually really relieved by! Just normal practice. Had a good conversation with the coach who is also an English and History teacher about the books we read in school. He asked my opinion on what books we should keep, drop, what books to add, etc.. The conversation developed into a conversation about criticism, and then about the different types of literaturesnx then into a look at some of our favorite books. It was a fun discussion and it passed the time quickly.

No AYS tonight! Excellent! I came home and worked on my colloquium speech sons more, and this is where I became really tired and frustrated. It turns out that I've had to cut a shit ton of stuff out of here and nod I'm down to twenty two minutes and that's without the clips I want yo show! Needless to say I'm a little stressed about it! I just don't know how I'm going to cram all this stuff into twenty minutes. I have two points I want to make and yet somehow I keep getting sidetracked by all this other awesome information, when in reality it's not important to the presentation. My mom came home and said I looked like a wreck of a man, probably because I'd been rehearsing this thing for the past hour and had been cutting and condensing and ugh. It's awful! Anyway, I'm really tired. I'm off to bed!

April 13, 2014

Day 323

Had a thoroughly enjoyable day following prom! Spent a majority of the day on Facebook looking at everyone's stunning pictures from last night. We all looked so gorgeous, if I do say so myself! I must say I'm still thinking about yesterday and how fun it was. I really am glad I went to the dinner, and even to the dance, but especially the dinner! Just such good camaraderie amongst our class!

Also studied a little bit for the STAM test tomorrow, and then took a look at the English quotations for tomorrow as well. Didn't really look at the History test material because I know it so well already, and it's a History test, and the teacher has assured us all that it's going to be something simple but creative. I am most worried about the STAM test though. Even with the formulas, I still have to know what numbers go where, and while I think I have this down, I am still a bit nervous. Also we have to know definitions of a ton of things ,and that's the part that I think I'm not going to do well on.

Later in the day, my Mom and I went to see an awesome rendition of Into the Woods at our local little theatre. It starred a good friend of mine, so we mainly saw it for him, but just the whole thing was really impressive! I already love the expansion on the "happily ever after" plot, but the way that it was interoperated here was excellent! My friend did a great job as Jack the slayer of giants, and the songs were pretty well executed, though the girl playing Little Red Riding Hood didn't really have a singing voice. Must have been sick tonight. Anyway, it was a terrific show, and just bolstered my mood a whole lot (not htat I was feeling down before, but this cranked my happiness level up a few more notches)!

Went to Flying Star per Sunday usual, and am now in bed opting for an early sleep so that I might be energized enough for my three big tests tomorrow! No AYS tomorrow, so that's a nifty balancing out of fate!

April 12, 2014

Day 322

Alright! Had my Senior Prom tonight! I'll get to that in a bit. Started off the day pounding out a rough draft of the "Darkest Hour" review which I'll hopefully have completed by next weekend if all goes according to plan (though it probably won't). Watched the series finale to Being Human also. I know I said yesterday that I was all caught up, but that was a mistake because I didn't realize that I had one more episode in my DVR, so when I found out that this was the series finale, I was really surprised. I honestly didn't like it very much. It had way too much stuff going on, a lot of plot threads introduced too late in the series for us to care, and a whole lot of plot threads introduced earlier on that just didn't get tied up or at least revisited. Not a very satisfying finale, but I suppose that they were on a tight leash seeing as they were getting canceled, and so they worked with what they had. Not the worst finale ever, but I think that had they played their cards differently after having been notified about cancellation they would have turned out a stronger finale. Just my thoughts. It was alright though.

Worked a little bit on cleaning out the spare room (we still haven't painted it yet because...). Took out a shelf in there and unscrewed all the light switch plates and heating vents, most of which were covered over with old paint, so that was fun to work with. Also studied for my English quiz on Monday. Looked up all the quotes and put the names next to them so tomorrow I can work on memorizing who said what. Should be an easy quiz honestly. Tomorrow I must review STAM notes.

Prom was really cool! Here are some pictures taken of me and some friends at the Senior dinner and at the prom itself:




I really had a great time despite not dancing a whole lot because I get migraines from these types of events. Just the flickering disco lights, the loud music, and especially the heat from all the people just give my head a rush of bad. But, I did socialize and that was fun. The dinner was really good; had some nice conversations with friends and had a memorable experience all around! I even learned how to tie a bow tie pretty well, I think, so that's cool. This is one party that I won't soon forget.

Pretty tired now, so I'm off to bed. Goodnight all!

April 11, 2014

Day 321

It's finally Friday! I don't know about the rest of you, but this week felt super long to me, which is odd, because AYS this week was pretty fun, so that (for once) wasn't the problem! I think it was getting back super late last night. That just threw everything off for me, and it made things that happened prior to that seem so far away. But here we are at the end of the school week, and things are good.

STAM was first today. I got a lot done on my project, now moving into analyzing one-variable and two-variable stats on what I'm covering. Taking IMDb's top US grossing films of 2013, I looked at gender in relation to genre, the gender of writers, actors, and directors, and how those correlated, and the results are proving to be pretty interesting. Only did the one-variable stats today, but I'm hoping that next week I make a push to get the two-variable ones done, because those are probably going to be pretty neat.

The Post class today was alright, as the penultimate group presented, covering music of the 21st century. The stuff they chose was pretty good in terms of covering all the bases. They got Justin Bieber in there (sadly), and they touched on Miley Cyrus and they also talked a lot about electronic dance music (or EDM, which I always thought was weird to say or write as an abbreviated thing, because I want to add the word "music" even after the "M", even when I say "EDM"). There was a member of the group who is totally into EDM, and he's a DJ in that genre too, so he talked a lot about it! EDM really isn't for me (with the obvious exception of Lindsey), but what they covered in it was pretty interesting. They showed several music videos (including Bieber's hit "Baby" which I now have stuck in my head because the Universe hates me personally), and they finished off their presentation by covering the evolution of country. They didn't really cover rock music which made me kind of angry, but they did make mention of it in other genres, which was kind of the point; music has gotten so intermixed that to define a genre now is to neglect a large portion of music that also fits the specifically defined genre but fits other genres as well, and so I think they made that point pretty well.

Next class was Advanced English. We worked on more sonnets today. Not much else to add here. A couple of friends of mine had these beautiful poems that they each wrote, and one of them was about this guy killing his waitress instead of tipping her. It was really funny actually, because the person who wrote it is not a violent person at all, and the poem itself was very passive aggressive until the end when he shoots her, and it was just really well-written!

Strings was fun because we had the guest cello soloist come in to rehearse with us. It went alright; he had a lot of good ideas about phrasing and style (this is Vivaldi that we're playing, so there are no dynamics written in; it's all interpretive, which I like). I'm not sure how it ended, because I had to leave for the track meet. The meet itself was okay. I didn't do anything except watch and had a great conversation with a friend of mine. We talked about our elementary school days and I mentioned that I reconnected with several of them over social media, and my friend got really excited, and she told me about other people of our fifth grade class that she has still kept in touch with. It was a nice nostalgic talk, and it passed the time.

Came back home and I'm now all caught up on Being Human! Holy shit, things are going down, and by God that cliff-hanger!!! Anyway, I'm pretty tired, so I think I'm going to bed soon. Tomorrow is more house cleaning and then prom! Should be a blast.

April 10, 2014

Day 320

Today was very long, but also quite fun. In History we finished up WWII, talking about the Japanese and their culture and how we fought them at the same time as the Nazis, typical History stuff. We have a test next Monday. English was really fun, because we filled out these anonymous English feedback surveys of what our favorite books were over the year and what we liked about them and the related projects, and which ones we felt we should keep for next year's Senior class, and which ones we should drop. It was nice because I finally got to articulate my thoughts on the class more fully (though not as fully as I can, of course). Read some more of Love Letters to the Dead and I'm seriously crying almost every time I finish a chapter/letter in that book. It's just so beautifully written!

Prior to leaving for the track meet, I found out that my commencement class speech is not due Monday! In fact, the head of upper school hasn't even picked out a date to do it yet, so that's great. What's more, the speech doesn't even have to be a speech, not really, anyway. It's more of a game plan for what you're going to say in your speech that you present to the class. So, that really took a lot of the pressure off of my schedule for this weekend! Thank God I asked about it! I also gave the tech people here at school two of the Buffy DVDs to rip for my colloquium presentation because there are no clips of the show on YouTube for some frustrating reason probably involving copyright infringement.

The track meet was actually really fun, because it was a twilight meet, meaning that the events took place in the evening and at night, and it looked gorgeous! I don't have pictures because my phone died midway through, and I neglected to bring a phone charger with me. I worked on my colloquium presentation while out there (managed to piggyback off of an unprotected wifi signal because I'm dirty like that), and it's coming along quite nicely. I got to the completed rough draft stage in that I have everything in there except for the videos, which I'll hopefully have by either tomorrow or Monday. Now on the bus headed back to school. Should get back at around 10:30 or so! Latest I've come back home from a school event I think in forever! I have another track meet tomorrow, but that one shouldn't be so bad. We get back at 7:00 I think. That should be alright!

April 9, 2014

Day 319

I came in this morning and was immediately stopped by the head of the Upper School telling me that I was chosen as one of four candidates for the position of Student Commencement Speaker at Graduation! Two thoughts ran through my mind when I heard that. The first was oh my God! and the second was holy shit! The first was expressed as excitement and happiness, while the second was just me coming back to my senses and being reasonable with myself. There is no way that I can be a better speaker than those other three candidates. I talked this over with a good friend of mine, and three teachers throughout the day, all of whom said roughly the same thing: "you're a writer, you're very funny, and you speak your opinion openly and without hesitation". All of these things are true (not to pat myself on the back), but I myself don't really feel like I represent the class as a whole very well. In one conversation, a teacher told me that all the cliques and social groups and hangout spots, those are all made up of people who feel the same way I do, that they feel just as much an outsider as me. True enough, but those cliques must exist because of something. There are most definitely popular people, and while that number may be significantly small in comparison to the majority of us who just feel either left out or otherwise distanced from the action, I myself do feel distanced in a way that I think is a real hurtle in writing this speech. And then there's the speech itself! I just don't know what to say! I've tossed around some ideas of friendship and whatnot, but it all feels too hokey for me. I'm sure I'll figure it out!

Well, I'm sorry for that long rant (it was longer, but then I realized that I was kind of writing my speech, so I took that chunk out and just left what's above). I had strings first and we recorded the Holberg suite. We did an okay job; I only messed up twice, and everyone else messed up about as much, so overall it was alright. After this, I decided to work on my Advanced English poem that I actually completely forgot was due today, so I knocked that out before going to STAM.

STAM itself was fun because we got handed out a review packet that covered everything from February to now regarding financial math. The test should be pretty easy if we know our definitions because there's going to be a lot of matching words to their definitions and stuff like that. I'm less nervous for it now than I was yesterday, but I'm still kind of on edge about it especially because it's Monday and I have to give this class speech Monday and I have a History test Monday! Jesus!

Advanced English was fun. We looked at a lot of sonnets and then wrote one ourselves. I like sonnets; they're the easiest form of poetry fro me, plus who doesn't like to figure out how to rhyme things? We had to write a sonnet based on a postcard that the teacher let us pick at random. By happenstance I got a postcard with two dancing violinist on it. That was really cool, so I wrote about music and violins and dancing. And the girls had crazy hair that looked like fire erupting from their heads. It was really weird, but I wrote about that too.

Post was last, and the group presenting had a bit of an issue regarding one of its members who had apparently done all the work and was pissy about her other teammates not pulling their weight, so to show how much effort she put into creating this thing, she stormed off and let the other people do what they wished with it. Right, yeah that makes sense. Logic anyone? So, the topic this class was television, and it went alright. It was mostly one of the other group members reading the abandoned leaders' notes and the other people occasionally chiming in. It honestly wasn't very good, but we did get to reminisce about the TV of our childhoods, so that was nice. This was an okay ending to my school day, since track practice was so short I was literally out there for like fifteen minutes because we have a long meet tomorrow.

I talked with one of the other candidates about this whole writing a speech thing, and he too was al like "I don't know what to write about". Apparently writing a graduation speech is hard. I mean, I guess I've always assumed that, but never before have I really recognized this as a skill when done and delivered right. I do kinda like that I'm in the same boat as my peers on this thing. And really, I'm not seeing this as a competition, but more as an exercising of my writing skill.

I'm going to prom on Saturday, and of course my Mom finds out about this today because I only told her today after having made up my mind yesterday (because I'm impulsive like that), so I stopped at the menswear clothing store and bought a new tux shirt and a bow tie. I don't know how to tie a bow tie; I have two days to learn! Last day of piano was pretty good. I'm honestly very glad this class is now over. It'll free up time on Wednesday to work on my Colloquium presentation and (should I get voted) my commencement speech, and of course any other homework. But the cfinal class was good. We watched some really kick-ass pianists perform, one of them a really cool jazz pianist. She was great because she had this huge smile on her face and just seemed to be bursting the happiness. We also composed our own song based on the I-IV-V progression we learned about. It sucked, but it was a nice ending activity.

I read this really good article today about really the state of superhero movies and their purpose in cinema now. It looked at Captain America: The Winter Soldier as its test case, but also examined the genre from way back in the '70s when it wasn't one and the Superman films were coming out. The whole article was essentially what I wanted to say on Monday in my Post class but didn't because I can't come up with that stuff extemporaneously. Anyway, this is a great article, and you should definitely check it out here! Well, that's all from me today. It's a longer post than usual, but I'm feeling rant-y tonight. Goodnight all!

April 8, 2014

Day 318

It's Tuesday, it felt like Friday. I don't know why, bt it did and it was kind of bad because it put me in this really weird like semi-aware mood that made the day a little fuzzy to me. I think it's because I know that on Thursday and Friday I'm missing a lot of the day for track, so it's registered in my mind that I have a short school week this week. Anyway, today was fine.

I had strings first. We are recording our Holberg suit tomorrow morning, so we ran through that a couple times and drilled movements 1 and 3 of the Danzas Panama suite after that. During my free, I started in on my Colloquium presentation powerpoint thing. It's coming along okay, but I feel like it's a watered-down version f my thesis, which I guess is part of the point, but the fact that I know there's so much more to talk about is kind of frustrating. Lots of pictures, some video clips, and a few bullet points will probably carry me through, but I wish I had more time to cram everything in here.

STAM was okay. We looked more at the stock exchange game and talked a little about some strategies when playing. It was an alright class. Tomorrow should be more productive as we get a review packet and go over stuff that we learned in February and then promptly forgot about. This is for our test on Monday, which I'm pretty nervous about. I'm glad I'm not missing any STAM on Friday.

English was really fun because we finished off The Importance of Being Earnest and I read one of the parts finally! I did this gangster/Jersey accent, and a friend of mine liked it, so she turned her character into a gangster too, and then this other person read like in a weird Spanish/Russian accent. The funny thing was that most of the characters we were playing were related to each other, which if you take our accents into account makes this the most diverse and oddly un=integrated family that I've ever read about! We had fun with this, and then to quell our joy, the teacher had us learn about Wilde's imprisonment and the horrible part  of his life that was. That was sad...

...so to cheer us up, we all went to History and learned about Stalin and the Russian Revolution!  We covered this in Post at the very beginning of the year, and so everything was kind of fuzzy, but I remembered it, so it was weird because I couldn't quite put my finger on where I had heard this lecture and seen this powerpoint before. It was kinda funny. Also did a really quick run through of the first half of WWII before class was over.

I'm continuing to read Love Letters to the Dead and yes, it is still holding in my mind the number one spot as my favorite book. When I do a Mini-View of this, I'm going to go into detail about what I mean by that, and also what the top ten books rpresent and how their weighted, because from this I can tell that people are getting a little confused. But it's still a great book, and just the voice in here is so perfectly teenager-ish! Read this while at track practice today as there wasn't really anything for me to do. I am excited about the Thursday and Friday meets though! Those should be cool especially the twilight meet on Thursday; that should look gorgeous!

Got my comp tutor's edits on my piano sonata back today. He had some fantastic suggestions and really cool pianistic technical tweeks to make it better for people to read and play. I'm really fascinated by this practicality versus vision because what I had in my head obviously was much harder than what is feasible in the real world, and it's nice that my composition tutor recognizes that. We also added a cool little flurry at the end that I really like where you play an arpeggiated chord but then for the last note you cross your left hand over and bounce off the last note of the chord! It's super nifty, and I can't wait to start in on editing it.

Came home, worked more on my powerpoint, and am now ready for bed. Tomorrow I have Advanced English which means more fun poetry! Yay!

April 7, 2014

Day 317

So, today proved to be most interesting because my school's annual Sticker Tag game began today. This is a game where you have a target and another student or faculty member has you, and you don't know who has you so it's super scary, and you tag your opponent with stickers. Once you tag them then you get their target, and the game continues like that until the end. A third party can interject with the phrase "I see you" if you attempt to tag your opponent and someone catches you in the act, so there's an element of secrecy and backstabbing involved too. I don't play, but I love watching, and I was guarding a good friend of mine. Unfortunately, she got out today while I was not paying attention, and so I felt really bad. It's a fun game, and the great thing is is that there's no end until the last person gets out and you're left with one winner, so this can go on for weeks

I had Advanced English first, and we worked on more poetry. We looked at some concrete poems, poems written out in the shape of their subject or theme, and then we tried our own. I wrote one about music, and then one about that stupid 2048 game, and both turned out okay. I ran out of room with the 2048 on, and the treble clef looked like it was caved in rock by the devil, but otherwise they were okay. And their content was meaningful to me, so that ws good. Our homework is to write a 14-line poem, which I'm pretty excited about!

After this and a frantic Sticker Tag debacle, I had strings. We worked on the Holberg suite and the Danzas Panama suite, and we're recording the former either tomorrow or Wednesday. That's exciting! I love the Holberg suite, and it'll be interesting to see how many takes we must do before getting it as seamless as possible! I had free after this half block, and so my friend and I were very on edge because she was super paranoid, and her target unfortunately knew she had her, so the game was effectively nullified for my friend. She was not happy, and even less so when out of the blue she got out while I was in conversation with a teacher! I felt so bad! She forgave me easily enough, but it still kinda sucked. Her target got out later in the day, so it was all alright.

STAM was third and we started playing the stocks game online. I don't get how to work this at all, and it's super confusing to me. I think I'm doing well; I'm not below the $1,000,000 mark in my portfolio cost, and I have like $900,000 in cash, so I think that's okay. Very confusing, but pretty fun I guess. Also talked a little bit about projects and our test next Monday. I'm pretty nervous about that actually because the finance stuff is a little foreign to me!

Fourth block was Post, and this was the big moment! My group presented today on the movies of the 2000s! My section was alright, but I definitely feel I could have talked a whole lot more about a lot of stuff regarding the superhero genre. The rest of the presenters did a nice job giving a broad overview of their genre as a whole and of their genre's development in the 21st century. I was super nervous when talking, and I think I rambled on a bit too long, but on the whole, I think I did a good job. It's a nice prelude to presenting our Colloquium presentations come two weeks!

Track was really short for me today. I showed up, checked in with the coach and then left because there was really nothing for me to do today. We have two meets coming up, one on Thursday and one on Friday, and the one on Thursday is going to suck coming back because we don't get back to school until 11:00 PM! That's ridiculous! And then we have another one the next day (though we get back at a reasonable 7:00). I guess if the runners can handle it, I can definitely handle it. Should be interesting!

AYS was fine tonight. We got out early because the conductor was in an unusually generous mood this evening. Worked on the usual fair of Copland, Tchaikovsky, and Barber, and we mostly drilled sections and fine tuned things. We have off next week (thank God) and then one more rehearsal before our concert!

Overall, a pretty good start to the week! I'm off to bed now. I have English and Modern History tomorrow, so that should be really cool! Goodnight all.

April 6, 2014

Day 316

Had a great day today! It actually began as a kind of weird hazy dream-like day, because I woke up and I didn't know where I was for like five minutes, and then remembered that I was sleeping over at Aaron's house, so I showered and brushed my teeth, and I was getting orange juice when Aaron came around the corner and said that his parents (who were gone for the morning for some reason) had made breakfast already.

Well, that sounded great, but upon inspecting the oven and the fridge, we found no such breakfast. It turned out that Aaron's parents had told him to make breakfast, and so we started to make eggs and bacon. As you can imagine, two high school boys with limited cooking experience mostly having to do with the microwave had a rather haphazard time of trying not to burn the bacon or overcook the eggs! In the end we made what I like to call "scrambled over-something mutant eggs" and "burned bacon" (the latter one of those names is not very clever I admit-- sorry). It was an okay breakfast actually. The bacon, while burned, had a smokehouse charm that I very much appreciated, and the eggs that I made were not bad either; they were just a little bland. Worked on my potion of the movie presentation for Post tomorrow, and then Aaron took me home at around 12:00 (feel free to guess as to how the majority of our time was spent between either cooking or working on homework).

At home, I mostly surfed the web the rest of the day, and oh yeah, finally made a college decision! I'm going to Willamette up in Salem, OR! Woot! It was a really tough decision picking between two outstanding schools both of which I had visited and had loved, but in the end it really came down to money and comfortability, and Willamette offered both in satisfactory supply! I'm so happy that this decision is over, and I'm really excited to have a place to go next year!

So, my Mom and I decided to go to this reading/Q&A/interview thing over at the Academy. The speaker was one Ava Dellaira talking about her debut novel Love Letters to the Dead, which I'm currently reading thanks to this talk and... okay, I'm going to come out with something that I want you all to take with a huge grain of salt, because my initial opinions of books or films or anything are very different than the more seasoned opinions that have had a chance to percolate in my brain for a few months- but I'm going to say right now that Love Letters to the Dead is quickly becoming my new favorite book, surpassing The Book Thief in voice only. I really want to do a Mini-View on both of these books, but especially on Letters, because this is a book that is unique in my reading experience. I've never really had this reaction or experience to or regarding a book before, and I think that has a lot to do with why this is becoming my new favorite book. I got to meet Dellaira after the reading, and she signed my book and personally made it out to me, and I did tell her about her book surpassing Thief as my favorite book. It was just a great experience, and her reading of some of the letters out of the book was so moving; it made me cry, it really did!

Went to Flying Star for a brief dinner, and now I'm back home, ready to go to bed. Goodnight all. Tomorrow is the beginning of another week, and I have a presentation at the end of the day! Wish me luck!

April 5, 2014

Day 315

Big long day today! Woke up super early to get to school to go to a track meet once again all the way up in Santa Fe! It was pretty fun up there. Got to see discus and of course all the track races. Not much for me to do up there, so it was a nice relaxing morning.

Hung out with my friend Aaron this afternoon. Went to Panera because it's really yummy, and after eating there, we decided we were still hungry, so in our infinite high school wisdom, we decided to go to Five Guys and order fries. Now, you'd think with us being full of food and me having already expressed only mild interest in getting more, Aaron would have ordered a modest regular sized fries order, but no. He orders the large, and this is what we ended up with:


Yeah, I don't know what we were thinking either. We ate a significant portion all things considered, but this was definitely a bad decision! Then we went to see Captain America: The Winter Soldier, and I thought it was pretty good. Lots of great action, character development, intriguing moral dilemma... aw hell, just read my Mini-View to know my thoughts on it!

Came back to Aaron's house and am spending the night here. It was really cool, because after dinner, I finally sat down and watched The Cabin in the Woods, with Aaron for company! I'm not a big horror movie fan (I get scared super easily), but I found this just to be hysterical! Terrific twist on a very stale genre at this point, and the satire here is just so perfect! It has all the Whedon regulars, and the suspense and the comedy balance are handled perfectly here. You're able to treat this as a comedy while also recognizing that your laughs are coming out nervously because the setting and the situation, despite the characters' awareness and smartness about it, are still genuinely terrifying. I really enjoyed the deeper more human story behind it, and of course the poking fun at the genre. I was going to do a Mini-View of this too, but I really just said pretty much what there is to say. I don't know. I might do one, but expect a lot of repetition and expansion on the above if I decide to do so.

Very fun day, as it turned out to be! Tomorrow, I return home and paint my house! Also work on thesis and movie presentations, and maybe take a stab at a rough draft of "Darkest Hour"!

Shadowcon Mini-Views- Captain America: The Winter Soldier

Alright, just got back from seeing this, everything is still pretty fresh in my memory, and all of this is once again all off the top of my head first-impression stuff, so my opinion of this is subject to change as I continue to mull this over. Oh, and yes, there are spoilers in here.

So, I'd like to start off, before I even get into the movie, with my overall opinion of the Marvel Cinematic Universe, because Winter Soldier relies heavily upon an understanding of the inner workings of that universe and of the forces operating in the world that Marvel has built for these people. I will say that as an ambitious project, this one is certainly a gamble. Having all of these different people running around doing their own thing in their own movies pre- and post-Avengers is super tricky in that things need to be believably small scale so that we don't raise the question of why they don't just call in all the other heroes to deal with whatever the threat is, and not too small so as to seem insignificant. So, yeah, the Cinematic Universe is ambitious, and it does deserve credit for that.

However in terms of substantive storytelling, there is definitely room to debate whether or not Marvel can fill out that criterion as, even with the first Iron Man film, the plots of these movies remain less than intriguing. Iron Man 3 was superb, Iron Man was an interesting character study, and the Avengers was just a hell of a lot of fun. Captain America: The First Avenger I found to be a bore. So when I found out that Cap was getting a sequel, I was actually excited. When I went to see Iron Man 3 and Thor: The Dark World, I was very optimistic for Soldier because Iron Man 3 was amazing, and Dark World was good. Now that this damn Cinematic Universe is set up, the writers of these movies seem to be allowed more freedom of movement to tell engaging stories instead of adhering to all the obnoxious studio notes of fan service from Marvel as was the case withe Phase One portion of the MCU (all of the films leading up the The Avengers, that is). And lo and behold, I am happy to say that Soldier is actually really good. Not Iron Man 3 good, but definitely better than its direct predecessor and a great follow-up to The Avengers.

Obviously the thing to talk about right off the bat is the film's handling of its star, Steve Rogers. I'm not the biggest Chris Evens fan in the world, but I will say that he's really settled into the role of Captain America since his first appearance. I did like him in The Avengers, and here, Evens really feels like he's putting his all into the role. I liked his chemistry with Nick Fury a lot, and that whole layer of the film with S.H.I.E.L.D was very good, adding a layer of depth and care that I was not expecting (though I was hoping for). I liked how he had to deal with being reincorporated into the world, feeling very out of place and lonely because of this. Unlike in The Avengers, this aspect of the character is not played for laughs here; there is real emotion behind what Rogers is feeling, and that was nice to see. His relationship with Bucky did feel a little truncated, especially because it was barely there in the first film (I had actually forgotten that Bucky was even in the first movie), however they did enough explaining here to make the connection apparent if a little rushed. That arm of Bucky's is super cool though! And Cap;s shield is really something!

Aside from the action, there is this great layer of moral and ethical debate about surveillance and the ethics of how far we are willing to go in order to ensure national and world safety. It mirrors Watchmen in a way, though this doesn't do it quite as well. I do like that Nick Fury and S.H.I.E.L.D are made out to be the bad guys in the beginning, and while H.Y.D.R.A is technically responsible in the end, the film plays the more interesting and grey card of not omitting S.H.I.E.L.D as being at least partially at fault for all of this. Really interesting, and a nice intelligent step forward for these Marvel films which on the whole tend to place action over intelligent storytelling. Soldier does deliver the goods and gives us a solid moral debate as well as a host of really kick-ass action sequences, and this amounts to a very satisfying entry into the MCU.

I also really enjoyed the introduction of Sam Wilson/Falcon as an actual character rather than a nobody relying solely on name-recognition. He and Steve Rogers have great chemistry in the beginning of the film, and his character overall was pretty good. Character introduction has been one of Marvel's strengths with these movies (most of the time), and Wilson's integration into the MCU felt natural and fluid.

Black Widow is back in this film, and I'm sorry to say that I am still not a big fan of her. I really didn't like her in The Avengers, and I don't find her very characterful here. Johansson still feels very much like she's in this just for a check and that we are supposed to care about her simply because of her looks alone. Call me crazy, but I tend to put stock in characters who actually have personalities and arcs rather than those who's bodies are their sole feature. Widow's character is slightly better here, but not by much. She demonstrates noticeable emotion at the supposed death of Nick Fury, and her banter with Rogers is pretty good for most of this. It just comes a little too late for this character as a whole looking back at her previous two films. Hopefully we'll get that Widow movie we've been hearing about so that we can really flesh out this character.

Overall, the movie is a fun mostly character-driven action ride, and the climax was really neat. I loved the new Hellicariers, and they managed to get facsimiles into the MCU with this film too! The action is certainly impressive (lots of nice choreographed hand-to-hand fighting and firefights), and the emotional and ethical ties back to current events are a nice surprise to average movie goers looking for something beyond fan service. A really good entry into the MCU.

April 4, 2014

Day 314

Okay, so today was a long-ass day! Really kinda book-ends things, y'know? I started off the school week with a long Monday, getting back home at around 9:30, and here I am on a Friday getting back home at around 9:00. Today was really fun though, except that it started out with a doctor's appointment which kinda sucked because it meant getting poked in the eye with several bright lights. After that, though, things were really good.

English was once again the highlight of the day. I came in as the teacher was giving a lecture about Victorian ideals and protocols regarding sex, and it was really awkward! Everyone laughed, and I was super confused and slightly terrified that this super English-teacher person was talking about missionary position sex... yeah, it was really weird. But then I got settled in, and it turned out that we were talking about fashion and double-standards and gender roles and conformity to those gender roles. Really fascinating talk, and I started thinking about my thesis again because this related so much to that. Just a fascinating, omni-sided argument and examination of the Vicorian Era's and today's views on gender.

History was next, and we continued our look at WWI. Talked about tanks and the Red Viper, the end of the war and the Treaty of Versailles and how shitty that was, the League of Nations, the US emergence as a global power. All the normal history stuff. It was a fun class though. Had my third block free, os I hung out with some friends of mine, one of whom was working on finishing up her thesis. She was really stressed about it, but managed to get it done finally. I'm really happy for her. My other friend, Aaron, asked me if I could spend the night tomorrow night with him after going to see Winter Soldier. So I guess I'm doing that tomorrow after the track meet! Should be wicked awesome.

Speaking of the track meet, it was pretty fun! After a senior class meeting in which we filled out final college release forms and put out nominations for class speaker at graduation, I boarded the bus and headed out to Santa Fe! While on the bus, I downloaded both albums of Halestorm, and I'm now a huge mega fan! I love rock, and I cannot believe that I'd only heard like two songs from them before now, and I had forgotten about those two songs because I had listened to them like a year ago and then continued on with life. Well, no longer. I'm now a die-hard fanboy! The neet itself was pretty good. I didn't do a whole lot; I mostly took care of the schedule, telling everyone where they were supposed to be at one times, and carried equipment back and forth to the busses when it was time to leave. We were out there for four hours, getting back to school at 8:00! Man, that was tiring, but it was also really fun. Everyone ran really well, though our star runner was just not feeling it today and it really showed. Not nocking her, though. She still ran like the devil was chasing her, though perhaps this time, he really was!

Well, I'm back home now after an exhausting first week back at school! I'm off to bed to get some sleep so that I may continue with the track meet tomorrow. Goodnight, everyone!

April 3, 2014

Day 313

Had a pretty nice day today. My group Post project is coming along nicely. Since there are six of us, and we have 80 minutes of class to fill, we calculated that we would all need to give 13-minute presentations. Not too bad, and more than enough time for me to cover the superhero genre in full. It's going to be a pretty good presentation, I think. If we all practice, stay on point, and the technology doesn't fail as it is wont to do at my school, we should be fine. I'm really looking forward to it!

Advanced English was really cool. I wasn't crazy about the whole memorizing poetry thing, but last night I remembered that Ode to Spot that Data recited on TNG in that one episode (my fanboy side is failing me right now, sorry). Anyway, I looked it up and Memory Alpha does in fact have a transcription, and so after getting approval from the teacher, I'm now reciting that. I'm really happy about it. I've got almost all of it memorized! I'm really loving this poetry unit.

Full block of strings today, which was super cool. I was the only member of my section today, which was extremely nerve-wracking because we stared out with the Holberg suite and I'm first violin, so I had to hold down that part and lead the orchestra all by my self! My God, it was awful, but also quite rewarding. I stepped up to the challenge by playing boldly; tried to shove as much of those nerves down as possible. I think it worked. The clas was super productive too! Lots of practice intervals where we would play through a piece all together, and then we would have five minutes of individual practice time to clean up passages from that piece before running it through again. Very effective for me, and I wish w could do this more often!

STAM was productive too. We worked on our projects a little bit as well as doing some Excel work looking at stocks and shares. My project is becoming pretty cool. Track was alright. Too windy, and I really didn't do a whole lot. We had an easy workout of starts, handoffs, and high-jump. It was a short practice too because we have a meet tomorrow night! Good luck to everyone!

Violin lesson focussed mostly on Kabolevsky and working those tricky fast passages! Intonation is key with this work, and I'm not very good at it right now, but with practice I'll bee able to get it. I should get some sleep now. I have an eye doctor appointment in the morning and a track meet to manage in the afternoon!

April 2, 2014

Day 312

Began the day with Modern History, which was really cool because we began talking about WWI today! Looked at technology, weapons, and of course the prelude to the war with all the entangling alliances and such. Completely ridiculous conflict, but a defining one for the twentieth century.I mean, this really began the modern technological age and the twentieth century in general. Really fun class, though we ended it on somewhat of a sad note when we talked about the trenches and the horrible hell those must have been. That was kind of a downer to end on, but otherwise the education was quite good!

Strings was next, and we worked on the Holberg Suite and the Danzas de Panama suite (lots of suites for our last concert). Pretty fun ll in all, and after this, I hung out and began thinking about the colloquium presentation. I'm toying with just doing a straight lecture, and even searching the internet for Buffy clips was difficult, because most of the videos on youtube are montage or song tribute videos, and so it's going to be really hard for me to show clips of the show for my presentation. I did find one of the Black Widow interrogation scene from The Avengers, so that was good. My search continues!

English was the highlight of my day today. We had this great conversation about what constitutes art and what if any influence does it have in the real world, and what relationship does it have to the real world. Really fascinating talk, and my peers brought up some really interesting points. I am of the general opinion that art should make you think intelligently about a thought-provoking theme or subject while also having an stablished base in which to root your thoughts based on the authors's original intentions. I hate obscurantism, that's why the last part of that is in there. But some of the other points that people brought up were really cool. One of the students talked about how when we see a show like Breaking Bad, that doesn't automatically mean that we're going to go out into the world and become meth dealers. To the people who think that art is damaging to our youth, I and the rest of my class say to you, "go preach to someone who gives a shit". I'm sorry, but art in and of itself is not harmful to anyone (barring propaganda of course) Oh, it can be offensive, misleading, etc. but in order to become a meth dealer for example, you're already going to have to be a pretty messed up individual in order to do that. There are a host of other factors that come into play well before Breaking Bad is even remotely touched upon, and when it is, it'll most likely be seen as a mere reinforcement of or  very minor catalyst for this problem. Anyway, that conversation in this class was really quite good, and it was something that had been on my mind for a while, so it was nice to finally talk about it in a classroom full of intelligent people.

Track got new equipment! That's cool, and I helped unpack it. That was my duty for the day as manager. Not really much else to say on this subject. We have a meet this Friday. I intend to listen to more A Feast For Crows on the way up to Santa Fe. Should be exciting.

Penultimate class of piano was tonight. I will say as much as that calss bores me, I do appreciate what it's doing to me on a psychological and music-base level. In conjunction with my far more advanced composition tutoring which includes some piano, this class helps form a base from which to work, and helps ground all my knowledge and skill, which I think is really important for someone like me who is starting off fairly late in the game. We ran through some pretty easy pieces and then watched a really interesting video about Claudio Arrau, a really awesome Chilean pianist! Super fascinating and he played Beethoven's last piano sonata, which we then talked a little bit about. Really nice way to end the class, and I'm looking forward to next week's finale to the course.

Person of Interest is getting more and more badass and insane! The machine is out (sort of; the public is suspicious of it now), and things are just going crazy! So many little subplots and things are quickly developing into full-blown arcs and it's so great. I love this show. Well, better dash off to bed. Violin tomorrow! Yay.

April 1, 2014

Day 311

Turned in my senior thesis! I'll be doing a reflection post come the end of the year, but suffice it to say that I'm super proud of this paper and really glad it's turned in! Definitely the biggest project I've undertaken for school, and probably the most advanced in terms of writing and scope. Might post it somewhere... I don't know yet! Now all I have to worry about is colloquium presentations! No pressure

Post was really fun! Got to work in my group of five other people with whom I'll be covering movies of the 2000s/2010s. We got started on our joint PowerPoint presentation; I'm covering the superhero genre of film and talking about the different aspects of it. I'm really excited to present on Monday!

Had Advanced English next. We continued our poetry unit today, getting a broad overview of the plan for the rest of the year, and also writing some poems based on prongs from this new book we got called Ordinary Genius by Kim Addinizio. It's a pretty good book, and the poems we came up with were all really funny and awesome. I'm not big into writing poetry, but I am liking this unit. It's a nice cool down unit after the huge completion and turning in of the thesis.

Didn't have track today on account of my composition tutor having to move up my lesson because of scheduling conflicts. Comp tutoring was really great today as he helped me out with my first draft of my piano sonata! I'm so happy that I'm working on this with him. I want to continue working on it in the coming weeks!

Well, that's all for today folks! Big day, really happy, and pretty exhausted. I'm off to bed. Goodnight!