Monday, February 27, 2017

Phantom of the Opera Day VIII

Image result for phantom of the opera 30 day challenge

Favorite Song from the ALW Production

I would have to say that my favorite song is Wishing You Were Somehow Here Again.  It's my favorite to sing, in any case.  

I also like the reprisal of All I Ask of You which I think does a good job of combining Christine/Raoul and Christine/Phantom.  It does a great job of showing the Phantom's sadness just before it turns to extreme rage.

What is your favorite?

Image result for all i ask of you reprise 25th anniversary

Sunday, February 26, 2017

Romeo and Juliet

Image result for romeo and juliet book cover"For never was a story of more woe 

Than this of Juliet and her Romeo."


Woe: Origin
Natural exclamation of lament: recorded as wā in Old English and found in several Germanic languages.
-Oxford English Dictionary (i.e. the only dictionary worthy of attention)

Everyone knows the classic tale of Romeo and Juliet, so this review will be more of an analysis than a summary and reaction.  If you have not read Romeo and Juliet, let's be honest, you've definitely been telling yourself in the back of your mind to get around to it someday.  Call me a catalyst and get thee gone to reading!

I love looking at words particularly in older English (not Old English mind you...that's different) to see what their literal meaning was versus how they are used today.  

Of course Shakespeare was a master of words and created several himself.  He could have chosen many words to go at the end of the first line of the couplet above (lots of things rhyme with Romeo which is convenient), but he chose the word woe.  

What did the word woe mean to Shakespeare and the people of his time?

According to the OED the word has been in the vernacular of many languages naturally as a "natural exclamation".  People from different backgrounds who spoke different languages shared a common reaction to pain or sorrow in the form of a very similar sound "woe".

Clear Glass Candle Holder


Some things translate over languages.  Most people even in completely different language families can get similar emotions from certain types of music.  A German-native and an Italian can hear a slow piece and feel sad and sweet, and an American and a Russian can hear timpani and horns and feel excited and triumphant.

Apparently the expression "woe", in it's sound at least, has naturally developed in different cultures.  It's something that humans just naturally pick up on and understand.  

Just like hearing a sweet violin sonata will bring up similar emotions in people who have never met before and don't share a language, hearing the "woe" sound just is very weepy and sorrowful, and the fact that it has cropped up in different places proves this.

Some things are just universal.  Apparently the natural, human-made, guttural moan of sorrow is one of those things.

Brown and Black Wooden Violin

Now this word "woe" comes at the end of a sequence in which the Montagues and Capulets realize that their children have killed each other and decide to overcome their differences and bond together for their children's sake.

They, it seems, recognize that some things are universal: love* can be shared between people regardless of what family they are from, good people can be either Montagues or Capulets and don't have to be either/or, division and separation is not a beneficial thing, etc.

They realize all these things are universal after they both share the universal feeling of "woe".  Perhaps sadness can be a binding factor in the world and isn't all bad.  Perhaps it can be put to good use, and in this case, it was used to bind two separated parties back together. 

Image result for montagues and capulets

My favorite character of the play was Benvolio, Romeo's friend and Montague's nephew.  I appreciated how he tried to help Romeo get over Rosaline in the beginning and encouraged him to go to the ball.  He seemed to really care about Romeo and try to take care of him.

He was also a peace keeper (though pretty much unsuccessful) for the Montagues and Capulets, and I appreciated that he tried even though the odds were stacked pretty tall against him.

One of my favorite lines from the play aside from the couplet I have at the top of this post was Juliet's farewell to Romeo:

Good night, good night!  Parting is such sweet sorrow, 
That I shall say goodnight till it be morrow! 
Image result for romeo and juliet balcony

Quick reminder that you can find all my book reviews in the Book Nook section, so keep checking there for new reviews.  Watch the "currently reading" feature on the right.  When I switch book covers there, chances are that I am working on a review of a book I just finished and it will be up soon in the Book Nook.

Image Credits: Amazon.com, Pinterest, Folger Digital Image Collection

Saturday, February 25, 2017

5 Reasons Why I Love PowerPoint

There are so many reasons to love Windows' best program.  I've been using PowerPoint as long as I could type (probably since I was five or six) and it has helped me through countless digital challenges.  Half the things on this very blog would be nonexistent without the help of my favorite presentation making tool!

Images


My sister Molly first taught me how to save images in PowerPoint when she enlisted my help in creating images for her encyclopedia article.  She had to make some figures for an entry in an encyclopedia, and didn't have much time to work on it.

Being the good little sister I am--and also being bribed with as much coffee as I wanted for the weekend--I dutifully researched how to create images in PowerPoint.

It is so easy!  You put together the images, then highlight using the control key, right click, and save as image.  I've used this technique to put together virtually all the title banners for this blog, all the buttons for different theme weeks, and title cards for some of my more aesthetic posts.

Person Using Laptop Computer during Daytime

Presentations


Of course PowerPoint is renowned for it's seamless presentationabilty (I created a word!), and I have certainly put the system to work time and again.

I used to run a "publishing company" called Cooleo which "published" all my books and magazines when I was little, and periodically Cooleo would have board meetings.  These board meetings of course needed some agendas on screen and some talking points, and that's where PowerPoint came in.

I really think my board member enjoyed the presentations and learned a lot.  Hi Mom!



Websites


Before I had a real website, I dreamed of having a place on the internet I could call my own.  By the extensive use of action buttons, I was able to piece together official Cooleo websites, which, when in presentation mode, acted just like a website.

When you clicked on an action button, it would bring you to the slide just like the tabs above bring you to different pages.  I spent hours making these and really enjoyed playing around with them.  Who knows, maybe it's because of this early activity that I finally got a real website going!



Latin Lessons


I learned a spot of Latin last summer and continue to learn more.  I am teaching myself using a series called Little Latin Readers, and teaching yourself a language is usually pretty difficult in my opinion.

After I went through the book and took notes, I converted all my notes into aesthetic PowerPoint Presentations, recorded my voice going through the lessons and timed all the slides, and now I can rewatch them and they are like little personal video lessons and it's pretty helpful.



Commercials


When I ran Cooleo News Network (a video series featuring seven or eight year old me giving the "news"), I needed some commercials of course, and that's where PowerPoint came in.

I made crazy animations using various images layered upon each other to make commercials for dog food, mattresses, cars, and even Cooleo Kitchen, my pretend restaurant.  I loved adding music to the commercials and timing everything so it ran smoothly.



PowerPoint is the most useful application on my computer aside from Google Chrome, and I don't know how I would have learned anything about computering (another new word!) without it.  

It combines images, sounds, timing, words, and aestheticism (why do I keep using that word...) into one beautiful program that I absolutely adore.

What is your favorite part of PowerPoint???

businesswoman, company, computer

Friday, February 24, 2017

5 Tips for Beginning Musicians

So many people in life make it a priority to learn an instrument or harness the true potential of their voice, but many people never pursue their goal very long and quit.  Maybe they just "aren't the musical type"?

I don't know if there are certain people who are geared more toward musical education or have an inclination to a certain instrument, but it seems to me that anyone who truly is willing to put in the effort to get the fantastic reward of being able to create music on their own will get something out of the experience.

Perhaps we can't all be Yo Yo Ma or Andrea Bocelli, but I think everyone has musical potential.

Related image

The following are my tips for people who wish to learn an instrument.  None of these tips on their own will make you a musician.  You have to combine them with a strong will, lots of commitment and dedication in order to reap good results.

But these are a starting place, and they can help existing musicians remember what's important and what you need to focus on.

Keep Your Eye on the Prize


If you find yourself questioning if all the shortness of breath is really worth it to the play the flute, or if all the painful squeaks on the violin are ever going to amount to anything, it's important to remember what your goal is.

The reward from all the practice is really what drove you to invest in your education, right?  Maybe right now you are squeaking, but think of the pay-off!  Beautiful music!

Man Playing Upright Piano Grayscale Photo

Accept Mistakes


All the mistakes made when practicing are really actually helping.  You had to make that mistake at some point, and now it's out of your life.  Think of your mistakes as a cup of water.  Each time you screw up, a drop is poured out of the cup. That's one less mistake you will make in your life because you got it out of way!

Know Your Position


No one started off a virtuoso, and even prodigies make mistakes and have to practice sometimes.  If you've just started an instrument, don't expect to be a professional, and don't be discouraged by this.  Learning something new takes dedication and commitment.

Grayscale Photography of Person Playing Violin

Don't Compare Yourself to Others


If you are learning alongside other musicians, it can be really tough not to compare yourself to others.  My orchestra is seated according to ability more or less as most bands and orchestras are, which makes it almost impossible to not notice "hey, I'm in the front, I must be good!" or "hey, I just got moved back a seat, I must be doing poorly!"

Don't get me wrong, I know that there are people in my orchestra much better than I am, which I suppose is a comparison.  I respect them for their skill, but I don't let it get me down.  I acknowledge it, and then focus on getting better myself.

Don't compare your exam grade with the first chair violinist, compare it with your last exam grade.  As long as you personally are improving, that's what matters.  Use your goal of sitting first chair as inspiration rather than discouragement.

People Playing Violin

Invest in Quality Equipment


For basically any instrument it is paramount to have functional and medium to high quality equipment.  It can be hard to know as a beginner if you should spend a lot of money on an instrument, but if you are willing to put in a lot of time, chances are you are willing to put in the money.  The reverse is also true.

Investing in your learning will a) motivate you to actually practice and work hard because you spent money on the instrument and b) will make you sound a million times better.

Song Book on Brown Classical Guitar on Green Grass during Daytime

Playing on a $50 violin might be nice for the first couple weeks when you're just plucking, but sooner or later you're going to have to jump in and purchase a nice violin.  Particularly with string instruments, quality matters a lot in your sound.

The better your instrument, the easier it will be to sound good.  The easier it is to sound good, the more you'll sound good.  The more you sound good, the more motivated you will be to play.  The more motivated you are to play, the better you will get.  It's a cycle.

Disclaimer: don't go out buying a Stradivari violin in your first week.  Pace yourself, honestly assess yourself, and speak to a teacher or conductor about what level you're at and what instrument you should invest in.

Metal Harp

Those are just a couple quick tips for beginners.  Everyone learns music a little bit differently.  Some focus on music theory, others on playing what sounds right to them, and still others take a more mid-range approach.  Experiment with a few different ideas--playing in an ensemble, hiring a private tutor, taking a class etc.--before you find what works for you.

Having the ability to play a musical instrument opens the door to thousands of organizations, different circles, and experiences.  Some of my closest friends have been made through music.  It has such an enormous power to draw people in and help them work together.

One last bonus tip--don't give up.  Lots of people with tons of potential give up because they don't know how to keep going on learning.  Musicianship is a life long state of being and I promise you that if you put in the time and effort, you will not regret it.

Feel free to ask me any questions you have if you're looking into playing an instrument or otherwise getting involved in something musically (composing/arranging, singing, etc.).  I would love to help and offer any more specific tips I can!

Image result for leo tolstoy life without music would be a mistake

Image Credits: Quotefancy, www.cappellamusicalecostantina.com

Thursday, February 23, 2017

Interstellar

Subtitled: How my mind was blown and remains in pieces


Some of my friends got together to watch, Interstellar

Once we got to my friend's house, I discovered it was directed by Christopher Nolan, who I knew directed Inception and The Dark Knight, so I was rather pleased and excited.  

By the time the film was over, I was confused, challenged, and desperately seeking answers.

In the style of Inception, this film is very confusing with multiple layers and unique perspectives on life and reality in general.  Where Inception explores the idea of the subconscious and dreams, Interstellar delves into the mysteries of time and space and the relationship between them, as well as concepts of family and love.

This movie centers around Matthew McConaughey's character, a single father of two, and former space craft pilot turned farmer.  In his time, Earth is in a state of environmental upheaval, with dust storms ravaging all the food supplies and making life miserable.

A fun fact I noticed was at the beginning.  There were interviews of people who apparently were describing the condition of Earth at the time of the start of the movie.  I distinctly recognized the interviews--one in particular, in which a man had a patch over his eye--from a documentary about the Dustbowl in the 1930s I watched in school.  They were the exact clips which was kind of interesting.  I liked the idea of history repeating itself, and reusing the clips kind of drove home the idea that if we don't change, things won't get better.

Matthew McConaughey's daughter Murph is convinced that there is a ghost sending her messages in her room by pushing books off the shelf in a pattern similar to Morse code signals, and works out the message to be "stay".  Matthew McConaughey is nevertheless convinced by NASA--which has been functioning underground for some time--to go back into piloting and help man a mission.

The mission is explained to be travelling through a wormhole located near Saturn and searching for habitable land and planets for the human race to travel to.  McConaughey agrees, and sets off on the journey with a few other pilots, including Anne Hathaway's character.

Spoilers for the rest of this article!

If you've stayed for the spoiler section, I will assume that you have seen the film and don't need extensive descriptions or summaries.

If you are being a rebel and are in the spoilery section, begone with you!  Go watch the movie and come back.  It's a pretty good movie across the board, and if you're like my friend, it may just become one of your favorites!


Let's talk about the awesome things about Interstellar--things I loved!--first.

Matthew McConaughey


This movie balanced heavily on McConaughey's shoulders.  He is sort of like the everyman character we follow through the story and make revelations with alongside him.  

One of the most important moments where McConaughey's character (and the audience through him) acquire information is during the scene when he is watching the videos his kids sent him while he was in space.  

I have a few problems with the scene which I will get to later, but one of my favorite parts and really the redeeming factor of the piece in my opinion is McConaughey's performance which is very heartwrenching to watch, and wonderfully acted in my opinion.  

I also heavily enjoyed McConaughey's interactions with Murph at the beginning of the film--his conflicting need to leave her but his desire to leave on a good note and the frustration that comes when she refuses to let him go easily.


Lighting, Sound, and Framing


The first thing I noticed in this film was the gorgeous lighting.  I expect it now, from Christopher Nolan, and I was not disappointed.  

Lighting in a film should not only serve to make it possible for the audience to see (though it certainly should fulfill that requirement and lots of films today are so dark this is impossible) but it should also hint at the audience what kind of emotion or vibe should be felt in the scene.  

A lot of this emotion can be acquired using color grading in post production, and each and every shot in this film appears to be meticulously lit and edited in post.  I appreciate this attention to detail!

The sound was also very fulfilling and unique in some parts.  Some films in space like to fill their rockets zooming through a black sky with a heavy score and dramatic flourishes, but one thing I really appreciated about Interstellar and found rather unique was that most of the shots outside the spaceship were completely and utterly silent.  

It was very unnerving and emphasized the loneliness and other-worldliness of space.  This was a really great move on the filmmaker's behalf.

This last bit kind of goes along with the other things I mentioned, but the framing of the film was also very well done--in a rather asymmetrical and artistic way.  Again, it's just this attention to detail that makes me appreciate the work that went into the film and makes it so aesthetic.

Casting


This is sort of a minor thing, but something that really stood out to me on my first viewing was the similarity between young Murph and older Murph.  It's not really a big deal, but I was just impressed that the filmmakers found two great actresses who looked so similar and fit the roles so well.

Music 


My friend Adamson went into the film having read a plot synopsis and listening to the score multiple times, and just based on the music he convinced himself that it was going to be a great film.

I must confess that the music was really beautiful, particularly the organ fugue motif at the ending.  I think some scenes could have used just a little more score to really drive the emotion of the moment home, but overall the music was rather subtle and powerful in the background.

As far as I can recall, it never really took center stage like music often does in movies.  I think with such beautiful composure it could have been given a moment to shine, but I appreciated it for it's calmer role as it infiltrated the subconscience of the audience member.


CGI


The computer generated imagery in this film was just flawless.  On only one occasion was I reminded that most of what I was seeing was animated, basically, and that was when the rocket first took off.

Other than that, everything flowed senselessly and I never was jolted out of the story which is a huge accomplishment for a film that takes place in space for the majority of its run time.


Risk Taking


Interstellar is unlike most films I have seen.  It calls to mind only a couple other films like Gravity or 2001: A Space Odyssey as any self-respecting space movie should.

But Interstellar remained unique and I appreciate films that are not cookie-cutter and really strive to dig deep and convey real messages.

This film is also very confusing and risks alienating a lot of lazy, passive audiences as it goes on.  I respect the filmmakers for making it anyway, because they seemed to have a passion for the story and weren't just pandering to any audience with disposable ticket money.

Scientific Accuracy


I may not be an expert in science, but the my favorite scientific field of study is definitely astronomy.  From what I have learned in astronomy courses and based off other scientists' analysis of Interstellar, the majority of concepts featured in the film are actually plausible and presented accurately.

What extra work it must have taken to ensure everything made sense scientifically!  What risks of too much exposition or confusion were taken!  And what a pay off--this movie is a million times better because every thing makes sense if you really dig deep.

Deepness


Not only does this movie have a lot of scientific info and background, but it also deals with some philosophical questions which (surprise, surprise) I ADORE!!

I admire any film that is willing to explore deep themes and raise questions from their audiences concerning those subjects.

I will admit that in only a couple of moments the questions seemed a little forced (the scene where Anne Hathaway's character describes how she feels love transcends space and time) and maybe they weren't really developed fully, but they are still present and I am happy that this movie doesn't rely completely on beautiful visuals or complicated plots, and really gives some food for thought.

Interstellar is a pretty stellar film (see what I did there??  eh?  EH?)

But it isn't a perfect film and I wouldn't rank it above a comparable film like Inception which had a lot of the positives Interstellar has, but less negatives.  Let's talk about the things that fell just a bit short in this film, in my opinion.

Matt Damon


Matt Damon's character is introduced, turns crazy suddenly, and dies.  The film gave me no reason to care about him and I barely understood his motive for becoming a traitor.

This whole subplot felt rather shoe-horned in and irrelevant ultimately.  Yes I was surprised when he turned, mostly because we had no warning it was coming (which I wish we had), and yes I was surprised when he died, but after the shock, I felt nothing.

Shock for the sake of shock in a film is ineffective.  The trick is to shock an audience, get their emotions all jumbled, and then hit them with some strong feels.

If, for instance, we had time to understand Matt Damon's character and really care about him, we would be shocked when he died, and then hit with a sadness wave because even though he was a "bad guy" we still liked him.

As it was, I didn't care about him.

Anne Hathaway


I generally like Anne Hathaway, but I wasn't a huge fan of her character.  I liked the bit of banter she had with Matthew McConaughey's character, but other than that, she didn't feel very deep.

She had a crush on an astronaut who was likely dead, which was sad, and she had a kind of wacko father which was also sad.  This seems like enough back ground to get me to care about her, but for some reason, I really didn't.

Once McConaughey was in the black hole, Hathaway's character kind of fizzled off until she came back at the very end which was not only frustrating, but also seemed poorly planned.

I didn't hate her character, but I didn't love her either.  Maybe this is why I feel like a lot of pressure was put on McConaughey's shoulders.

The other problem is a petty one that many people will disagree with.  I sometimes dislike when well-known actors are used in films just because seeing their face jolts me out of the story.  When Hathaway first came on screen, I recognized her instantly of course, and was reminded that what I was witnessing was just a movie made in the real world, and not true space travel which was a bit disappointing.

It kind of undoes a lot of the work done to make the CGI environment as believable as possible, in my opinion.

Video Communication


I have a question: how is it possible to send videos to the space ship once it has gone through the worm hole?  Is there a satellite that beams them through a worm hole?  I don't know, the whole concept seemed poorly fleshed out and just a trifle too convenient--just another method of getting us to feel bad for McConaughey.  I don't like when movies tell me what to feel.

Plot Questions


I'll be honest, I really don't know exactly what happened.  The whole plot line is really a paradox, because how did McConaughey move the books on the shelf if he had to first go through the worm hole and into the black hole in order to do so?  It ends up being a cycle of causation.

If the mysterious "they" who turned out to actually just be McConaughey acting through the black hole are supposed to be responsible for putting the worm hole near Saturn, how does that work?  How could McConaughey cause a worm hole to appear?  HOW?

I will concede that a lot of these questions may be answered by a second run through or something, but as it stands, the movie leaves a lot of loose ends that frustrate me.


Ending


The ending was very drawn out.  I think the film could have ended as McConaughey headed back home.  The whole scene with Murph dying and then Hathaway on the other planet seemed a little stretched out.  I prefer when movies leave the endings open...like Inception!!

Sorry to keep comparing this film to Inception, but remember the spinning top shot?  That one shot spawned about a million YouTube theory videos and blog posts and drove people wild.  Interstellar unfortunately left nothing to the imagination and kind of beat its story into the ground.

Rather than a "wow, let me look at this more!" feeling when it was over, I felt more like "well, that's that."  Don't let your audience settle down or feel comfortable with your ending, filmmakers!



So what is my conclusion?

Interstellar is a film worth seeing.  It leaves a lot of questions open about general topics (though not as much about the specific characters or story) and if taken in the correct way it can really challenge people and force them to think.

It is a film that isn't afraid to make an audience actually pay attention and think ahead.  It has it's weak points, but all in all it is a beautifully made, thoughtfully crafted film, and we movie lovers ought to support that kind of production.

Have you seen Interstellar?  Yea, or nay?

Wednesday, February 22, 2017

Higher Place


I was off on a run today and I decided to play Spotify's pre-selected running/work-out playlist rather than my own work out music because I was getting a trifle tired with my selected tracks and needed some more inspiration to get through my route.

Image result for running with ipod gif

One of the first songs that came own was called Higher Place, and the artists behind it are Dimitri Vegas & Like Mike feat. Ne-Yo.  I have never heard of this song nor of those artists, so I decided to look into it a bit more after my run.

Even as I was running, I was listening to the lyrics and I thought about them as I went along.

The song was pretty jammy on it's own, and I quickly fell in love with the lyrics.



Before I go along explaining my feelings on this song, let me just mention that of course there are thousands of ways to interpret any given song, and I don't proclaim to be an expert after hearing the song for the first time a few hours ago.

Show me to a higher place
Take me to outer space
I want you to be my friend
We'll make it till the world ends

Show me to a higher place
Take me to outer space
I want you to be my friend
We'll make it till the world ends

Don't give me love
Governed by life
Limited by
These worldy heights
I want a love
That the universe
Can never stop
Can never hurt
I want a love that will last
After this world is our past
A love that no time could erase
A love in a higher place

These are some of the most poetic lyrics I have ever heard in what I would typically term EDM (do you think this is a fair assessment?  I think this qualifies as EDM but I'm not 100%--let's be real, I mostly listen to Prokofiev.)

Image result for wink gif

The whole third stanza really connects to something that philosophers and even the common man have felt for centuries--or as my mom would call it "the human condition".



My mom studied Russian history in college (she actually has a master's in the subject) so when I first started reading War and Peace (by Leo Tolstoy--an author she read a lot of) she kept talking to me about why it's a classic and how it shows the human condition, yadahyadahyadah...

I love having literature conversations, so I asked my mom over and over again what the "human condition" specifically means, but she said it was just something you had to learn over time as you grow up and gave some pretty vague descriptions.

Image result for war and peace gif

I have no doubt that my very intelligent mother knows exactly what she is talking about, but as for me, I still remain a bit in the dark.  The more I read and study, the more I think I am understanding what the human condition might mean, particularly in literature.  Also...the more I read the more I am completely sure I know nothing...didn't Leo Tolstoy say something like that in one of my favorite quotes from W&P...

"All we can know is that we know nothing. And that is the summit of human wisdom."

And I think I remember Socrates saying something similar as well...

Image result for all we can know is that we know nothing and that is the summit of human wisdom

So does anyone really know what "the human condition" is?   Discuss.

So as I was saying, this song expresses some deep seeded desires of the human heart (some might call them the "human condition" or something like that...) that have been reflected in philosophers since time immemorial, basically.

Don't give my love 
governed by life

In the ancient days of chivalry, knights would have their ladies, of course, but what sets chivalry apart from other forms of romance is that the knights had such esteem for their ladies that they were never supposed to consummate their love. Rather than just eros, the knights were meant to be full of agape, or charitable love (like the love between God and his people, according to the medievals).  

The knights strove to keep their love completely pure (in their minds this was accomplished by not succumbing to bodily desires) and demonstrate their love by doing great acts in the name of their lady.  

Image result for knight and lady painting

In this way, knights didn't let their love be "governed by life" because they resisted the very natural humanlike tendency for physical pleasure and went for what they viewed as a higher road, great acts and honor.  This concept is called fine amour, and stems from Platonic and Aristotelian philosophy.  

Perhaps moderns feel the same way--or a similar way--as the medievals did.  No one wants their love to only be an incentive for continuously reproducing and egging the species on, like an animal, nor does anyone seek true love by just finding someone they can get the most pleasure out of.  

What people really want is something more than that--something transcendent--like the knights wanted.

Eros is not a bad thing, but it is empty without agape.  The knights of medieval times, and apparently the writers of this song picked up on a bit of that sentiment.

Image result for knight and lady painting

Show me to a higher place
Take me to outer space
I want you to be my friend
We'll make it till the world ends

Show me to a higher place
Take me to outer space
I want you to be my friend
We'll make it till the world ends

Don't sell me short
(Don't sell me short)
On unconditional
(On unconditional)
I want a love
Beyond what we all know
Whoooooooo
I want a love that will last
After this world is our past
A love that no time could erase
A love in a higher place

Who is Someone that gives love unconditionally, is often referred to as living in a higher place, and is understood to be outside of time and beyond human knowledge...hmm....

Image result for jesus thinking

Show me to a higher place
Take me to outer space
I want you to be my friend
We'll make it till the world ends

Show me to a higher place
Take me to outer space
I want you to be my friend
We'll make it till the world ends

Show me to a higher place
Take me to outer space
I want you to be my friend
We'll make it till the world ends

I wanted to share this song with y'all because I like it--it has a great beat and some potent lyrics.

It's also great for running.

exercise, hobby, jog

Image credits: Unzippedtv, Quotefancy, Now magazine, Tenor, Pinterest, Twitter
Sources: Internet Encyclopedia of Philosophy (Philosophy of Love)

Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Announcing 25 Days of LOTR

From March 1st to March 25th, Lover of Lembas will be celebrating 25 days of Lord of the Rings appreciation, leading up to March 25th, the anniversary of the downfall of Sauron.

Join us here for podcasts, thoughtful articles, entertaining rants and share in the love of Lord of the Rings and all things Middle-earth!

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Or be an orc and sit out.  It's your choice...just kidding I am going to force everyone to participate and ENJOY IT.

If you're going to participate, first of all, congratulations!  You're a winner!!  

Reread your copy of LOTR (or read for the first time!) and pop the DVDs in one Friday night before the end of the month to refresh your memory (and maximize life enjoyment, of course).

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Let me know what kind of articles you want to read and what you really want out of the 25 Days--I have some pretty spectacular things planned, including an intense game of clues and guesses that will leave one reader victorious at the end of the period--so brush up on your trivia of Middle-earth.

Ooh, and most importantly, spread the word about this awesome event so we can get lots of people in on the Middle-earth joy!  This is not your typical blog-theme-week, and the more people participating the merrier!


Image credits: We Heart It, Tumblr

Thursday, February 16, 2017

The Office

There once was a girl,
who was very, very stressed.
She thought she might hurl,
unless she took a brief rest.

She put down her notebook,
decided she needed a TV fix,
she decided to chance a look
at a little site called Netflix.

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Google

Yes, I've fallen into the Netflix well and have been having a bit of a problem getting out of it.  The first show I really involved myself in was The Office, a well-known U.S. comedy based off the British version.

I was first introduced to this show by my sister Katie, who loves it, and I've heard great things about it and seen some funny clips.

I underestimated the power that a sitcom about a paper-selling office in Scranton, Pennsylvania could have.  To date I have seen all nine seasons, and I can't wait to re-watch (after just a bit of time has passed).

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The Odyssey Online

Probably the only thing that is preventing me from ravenously re-watching right now is the fact that the last couple seasons kind of let me down gently.  After (spoiler) Michael left, the show digressed just a bit, so I wasn't completely distraught when it ended.  If, on the other hand, the show had ended mid-season six, I might have collapsed.

But despite the last couple seasons being just a bit under par, the show on a whole is much better than any other I have seen.  I love how each of the characters has a distinct personality.  TV shows like Friends, which is a nice program, have "distinct" characters, but in my opinion, the characters are mostly gimmicky.  There's the crazy one, the hippie, the funny one, the realistic one, etc.

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TV.com

But The Office had characters with depth.  Michael Scott is quite possibly the best developed sitcom character ever.  Sure, he has his shtick of being inappropriate at times and pretty unaware of social customs, but he isn't just a character to completely hate and shake your head at.  Everyone roots for Michael because he has a goal in life: to start a family.  Sure, he's a bit misguided, but everyone is hoping that things work out.

Dwight isn't just some weird country backwoods loon.  Yes, he has a weird backstory, but he also has goals and a heart.  He gets jealous just like everyone else, and falls in love (which he expresses in a way that not most would, but still).

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Gifbin

Even minor characters like Meredith have some depth to them.  Meredith isn't just the office drunk, she also has a son and I actually felt really bad when Michael hit her with his car.

The Office has a knack for hitting the audience with something unexpected.  A few minor spoilers ahead.  Who would have thought that Kevin just walking into the office would end in a ton of chili all over the carpet?  Or that Dwight would suddenly cut the head off a CPR dummy and harvest its organs?  These are completely random events that make me laugh just from sheer surprise.

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Tumblr

The Office, in addition to being completely hilarious, has really deep and emotional moments.  Jim and Pam's wedding is a great example of this.  Andy's song at the end brings me to tears every time.  But the best part of the series was when Michael proudly announces at Dwight and Angela's wedding that he has so many photos of his kids (finally!!) that he has two phones and pays two separate bills.

The Office may not be suited for everyone, by the way.  There are a few moments that might not be tasteful to some people.  These moments are fairly few and far between, but just be warned that this show isn't always completely clean.

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Giphy

With that said, I would recommend this show to nearly anyone.  It's hilarious, heart-wrenching, and has one of the best theme songs of television history.  Stay tuned--I have a cover of it on the piano that I need to record and get up because I just love to play it.

Have you seen the Office?  Who is your favorite character?

Thursday, February 9, 2017

Phantom of the Opera 30-Day Challenge Day VI

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Favorite Phantom costume (any version).


I love Christine's outfit at the graveyard from the 25th Anniversary production.  What's yours?

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I Forgot The Lyrics

Wednesday, February 8, 2017

Fahrenheit 451 (I am Still Alive)

I am Still Alive


Before I start off on this book review, I owe it to you to explain why I have inexplicably been absent from the blog world.

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Tumblr

Quite simply, I've been a bit trampled by various goings-on recently.

One activity that has been taking up a lot of my time that I usually use for writing (mon livre has been suffering from my lack of time as well, not just this blog) is running.  I've historically hated running, and even though I played soccer and currently play tennis, the whole running thing was simply a necessary evil in my mind.  But recently I've been learning to enjoy it, and have gotten on a reasonable schedule with it.  It's going super well, and I'm on track to run a 5k by the end of the month (and my birthday!!).

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*Accurate*
Giphy

Also, the more I run, the less I eat bad foods too because then I know I'm just going to have to work hard to get rid of the fat, and I don't want to take two steps backward, so all in all the whole running thing has helped my health greatly.  But it has also taken up a lot of time.

The other huge, ginormous, major thing happening is that my nephew was born!!  He is the cutest little thing!  His name is Micah, and he is doing well and so is my sister-in-law.  My brother's family is super busy with three little boys though!  My mom went to go watch the other two boys for the weekend, so I've been running the house (also very time consuming).  I kind of like it--makes me feel like an adult.

Homework has been steadily increasing as the year has been going on, and even though I am really efficient and normally finish before the end of the school day, I am now accepting the fact that taking advanced classes in high school is going to involve a bit of extra work.  So there's that.

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Tenor

Oh, and my school has a musical theater type performance thing with lots of popular songs, both old and new that involves lots of dancing and singing which I am going to audition for late February.  I've been working on those skills, and learning my audition song on the piano.  I want to accompany myself for the audition, so I've been working hard on that.

And violin of course takes up lots of time, especially since my vibrato training is getting more important and I have to practice even more of that.

Okay, okay, I haven't been using all my time super productively.  There's this little show, The Office (maybe you've heard of it... ;) that has been mysteriously sucking up the hours of the day.  But it is so hilarious!!!

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Pinterest

I started keeping a fairly consistent journal that has lots of my thoughts and some melodies I wrote in it.  It's actually pretty full for only keeping it for a month, and I try to be consistent with it.  But it also takes time.

So anyway, things have been piling up and I'm sorry I haven't been blogging as much.  But I am back!  And I want to discuss a really great short read I recently finished, Fahrenheit 451.

Fahrenheit 451


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Amazon.com
Fahrenheit 451 is a short novel by Ray Bradbury that takes place in a dystopian universe where "firemen" burn books and houses containing books rather than try to put fires out.  The main character is Montag, a fireman who meets a girl named Clarisse.  Slowly, Montag realizes that things are not quite right in the society he lives in and begins stealing books and reading them.

The first positive about this book is that if you look at the cover long enough, you will eventually be able to spell Fahrenheit correctly.  I would not be able to if it wasn't for this book.  True story.

This book was kind of ahead of its time with the whole dystopian genre and corrupt government motif.  Ray Bradbury apparently was concerned about the growing trend of spending more time watching TV than reading and putting the mind to good use.

Even though he wrote this awhile ago, I still find some of the ideas pretty chilling.

Montag's wife, Mildred, spends more time watching her "digital family" on the three-walled television in their house than she does interacting with her actual husband.  Are there days when we sometimes spend more time on YouTube or Netflix (or blogging!?!?!) than time with our family and friends?

Montag is a very complex character, who--unlike in some half-baked dystopian novels today--actually takes time to change his view, and accepts the implications of an entirely different world than the one he thought he lived in.  It has always bothered me that sometimes in dystopian novels the main character accepts to quickly that the whole way of life they have known before isn't as good as they thought.

I thought the burning of the books was also a pretty interesting concept, and it reminds me of all the civilizations that burned books or banned them.  In a society where speech is sometimes suppressed and knowledge isn't actively sought out, this seems like a reality all too real (wow, the syntax of that sentence though).

I really recommend this book.  It's a very quick read, and it introduces readers to an elaborate and relatable world with deep and dimensional characters.  Let me know what you think of it!


Wednesday, February 1, 2017

Phantom of the Opera 30-Day Challenge Day V

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Favorite part of the stage version?  Personally I like Phantom in stage form better than the film in almost every way.  Live singing is just so much more interesting to listen to, and it's more engaging.

I suppose the only downside to the stage version is that you can't see the actor's faces as closely, but when you have the combination of film and stage like in the 25th Anniversary, I think it makes the perfect medium.

My favorite part of the stage adaptation is the way that it's an opera within an "opera".  I love how Christine sings Think of Me to the audience, and then bows just like she would to the real opera house audience of Paris.  I also like how real backdrops fall on the stage at the beginning (the ones that frighten Carlotta) which is both alarming for the people on the "stage" and the audience watching the actual stage.  Does that make sense?

What's your favorite part??

Let the spectacle astound you!

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Shaun Clark