Friday, December 31, 2010

Resolution checklist

Okaaaaaay. Let's see how well I held up my 2010 resolutions, shall we?
  • Focus less on the books that I read and more on how much I write in my story.
Well, I certainly read less this year than last year, that's for sure. (70+ books this year, as opposed to 100+ from 2009.) For those unaware, I've decidedly given up on my Imazia story, but on the plus side, I've got a couple great short stories on the side that I really believe in. ^_^ So I would say check!
  • Be a lot more active, outgoing and helpful, as opposed to shy, bookworm-ish and lazy.
I believe this is also worthy of a check!
  • Try and get Leslie and Kyle back on the internet.
Hmm, I guess that didn't exactly work out. ~,~ Oh well.
  • Do something big and unexpected this year, something that today I wouldn't be able to predict it of myself.
I think I have done this a lot of times! (See my last post, the Best of 2010). A big check to this one!
  • Travel. I reeeeally want to travel. Hopefully the Taglit Birthright program will pull through this summer. I also really want to go to Utah!
Travel is exactly what I did this year, I am very happy to say. ^_^ Taglit was most certainly awesome. (Plus, I don't want to get my hopes up too high, but I'm thinking that next year I may actually get to go to Utah! ^,~) Check!
  • I will absolutely keep my promises. No backing out of them. If I say I'm going to do something, especially on my blog, my word is law. I will do it. If I say I'll you the story when I get back from somewhere, I won't put it off.
I'm not sure how well I pulled this resolution off, because I didn't keep much track of it. I hope I have. Can you tell me if I've kept my promises to you, dear readers? 0,o A tentative check?
  • Get a few more followers for my blog this year. So that I remember, right now I have 14. Thank you so much Brian, Dave, Q, Rainy, Laura, Deb, Annette, Shira and Grandma, as well as the other followers I don't know terribly well.
Over the year of 2010, I've gotten more relaxed about blogging. I post a little less (except when something really important and exciting happens! ^_^), I'm happy whether people comment or not (though it is always appreciated when they do ^_~) and I don't care who's following me, as long as I have my core group of virtual friends. But now I have 18 followers instead of 14, so yay! Check!

There's my family members, mom (Silvergal), sister (The Funny one) and grandma. There's Dave Latiener, Brian and the Curly Q, who seem to have dropped out of the active blogging world, sadly. !,! But at least I have the wonderful and awesome Rainy. She's a good friend. ^_~

There are lots of other people who follow me (Addicted Reader, Dave, Dave King, Debbie, elizabeth mueller, IB Girl, Jarrett, Mary Cunningham, Ophelia Julien, Sara.), but I don't know them very well. I thank you guys for following me anyway, and hope I will get to know you better in the next year. Or not. Whatever.

And even though they don't officially follow me, many thanks go out to Graham Bradley and Jacoby Nielsen. I'm extremely glad to have known you guys. ^_^
~~~~~
Wow, 6 out of 7 resolutions kept and preserved. That's not bad at all! ^_^

Happy New Year, everybody! I'm so psyched for 2011!!! I'll post new resolutions very soon. Promise!

Thursday, December 30, 2010

Best of 2010

This year seems to have been the best ever...
  • Joined Toastmasters. What an organization. I now have 6 speeches under my belt, I've made lots of lasting friends and contacts, and I've even become more confident and outgoing.
  • Met authors Jasper Fforde, Julie Andrews, and Suzanne Collins in the flesh!!!
  • Gave up on my Imazia novel, but received a huge spike in writing inspiration this year. I've started a poetry blog, plus came up with some great short story ideas.
  • Became friends with J. Scott Savage, having read and critiqued Demon Spawn for him. Great guy. AWESOME story!
  • Went to New York, and fell in love with Central Park. Of course, NYC was only on the way to...
  • Israel, where Annette and I got to visit for 10 days on the Taglit program. I made a TON of friends, and had awesome summer adventures galore! ^_^
  • Got a better grasp on the Hebrew language than I've ever had before. This was useful first for when I was in Israel, but then also when I had to study up for Adam's Bar Mitzvah.
  • Joined Facebook. 'Nuff said. ^,~
  • Turned most of my family's VHS home movies into DVDs. Yay! Long live memories!
  • Broke a Guiness World Record for Toastmasters! (Longest running speech-a-thon.)
  • Launched our Hebrew Bible website, Serve-A-Verse. Almost 1000 users registered so far! Hope to get more in the year ahead...
  • Saw Ringo Starr (an actual Beatle!) in concert with his All-Starr Band.
  • Took part in a YouTube project called "Life In A Day", which was lots of fun. We didn't make it into the final film, but it was still a great experiment.
  • Ate soup in a bread-bowl. Yummy!
  • Got my first mani-pedi. Loved it.
  • Had the best birthday EVER!!! Especially thanks to a certain friend's phone call. ^_~
  • Discovered charlieissocoollike, Nostalgia Critic, Extra Credits, and StarKidPotter, extremely wonderful, fun and hilarious internet video sites! Look them up! PLEASE!
  • Got hooked on Glee and became a full-on Gleek. 'Nuff said. ^_~
  • Invented Nacho Pizza. Yum!
  • Became a Cashflow gamer. (As of now, I am a level B2 player.)
  • Fell in love with many musical sensations, including Bruno Mars, Katy Perry and P!nk. ^_^
  • Had the best Halloween costume EVER! Mad Maggie, the Evil Scientist. Mua-ha-ha-ha! Plus I helped volunteer for our local Town Center party.
  • Learned about the It Gets Better project. I support it whole-heartedly. ^_^
  • Witnessed my brother become a teenager and a Bar Mitzvah. What a wondrous, awesome weekend that was.
  • Actually looked forward to and celebrated Christmas. Well, in my own, Jewish way...
  • Randomly started following Amy Rosenbaum's blog, the Simple Little Bookworm. She's a stranger who only began blogging days ago, but I think I will highly enjoy reading her future posts and book reviews. Hey, she made the Best of 2010 list! She's gotta be a good writer. Hi, Amy! ^_~

Books: Loads, which you can see in my (retired) Book Blog, but the very best ones this year I think were Shades of Grey (by Jasper Fforde), Moon Walk (by Michael Jackson), Morpheus Road (by D.J. MacHale), Scorch Trials (by James Dashner), and Ender's Game (by Orson Scott Card).

Movies: Princess and the Frog, Alice in Wonderland (Tim Burton), Avatar, How to Train Your Dragon, Toy Story 3, Eclipse, Grownups, Karate Kid, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows pt. 1., and Inception.

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Man, this whole list really makes me begin to wonder...

How is 2011 going to top all this?!?!?! O_o

Well, I'm sure it'll find a way, somehow. ^_^

Friday, December 24, 2010

Happy Holidays, my friends!

I may be Jewish, and very proud of it, but that doesn't stop me from saying that I hope everyone who celebrates it will have a very merry Christmas indeed. God bless us, every one. ^_^

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

Silly stuff

1) Last night I stayed up to see the total lunar eclipse. I've never seen one before, so I was excited! In Florida, it started at 1:30. I went outside every 15 minutes or so and witnessed as the moon grew smaller and smaller until around 3:00, when you could no longer see it except for this reddish glow. ^_^ That's when I finally went to bed.

It wasn't terribly exciting (especially when comparing it to Twilight's Eclipse. =P). You have to be quite a patient person to appreciate it. Luckily, I am one such a person. It was beautiful. ^_^ Did you know that according to Wikipedia, this was the first total lunar eclipse to coincide with a solstice since 1638?

Haha, you know what that makes me? Staying up until all hours of the night like a vampire, meanwhile having a Toastmasters meeting to go to the next day, just so I can watch the moon shrink? You know what I am?

A luna-tic. lol.

2) Between watching the eclipse, I had tons of fun reading the novel Ender's Game, by Orson Scott Card. This book is freaking awesome!!! The world in this story is amazing, and soooo futuristic! The characters are endlessly fascinating. The premise? In the future, kids who are deemed the best of the best are taken from their families at 6 years old and sent to this Battle School in outer space, where they train to become soldiers so they can fight in the war against the alien Buggers.

I haven't finished reading it. I'm only halfway through. But already I can tell that this is one of the best books I've read in this whole year, if not in my entire life! ^_^

3) Before all the lunatic stuff and the reading late at night, my family had some really fun house-guests over! My dad's Aunt Lilian and Uncle Jack, their daughter (his cousin) April, and our second cousin Elizabeth, who is only 9 years older than my sister and me. She was awesome to talk to! I learned all about this sport/ discipline I'd never heard about before, that Elizabeth actually practices, called "capoeira". Capoeira is an Afro-Brazilian art form that combines elements of martial arts, music, and dance.

I would really like to learn to do this stuff! Of course, the masters make it look very intimidating. O,o But still, wouldn't you simply love to be able to do this?
4) A few days ago, we got another awesome album from Amazon (nice alliteration, no?) in the mail: Michael Jackson's Michael! This is full of songs by MJ that no one has ever heard before, because he hadn't released them yet.

Every song was just classic Michael Jackson! They simply oozed his style. I loved each and every one. ^_^ I've been listening to the first song on the album, "Hold my Hand," almost non-stop... It is my all-time favorite MJ song ever now. ("Hollywood Tonight", song #2 on Michael, is also way awesome! It has that irresistible beat he's known for that you can't help but dance to!)

5) Today is very special to me. 2 years ago, I decided to email a certain fellow blogger for help, and he was kind enough to write me back immediately. We were complete and total strangers, with incredibly different backgrounds, but we had a very surprising amount of things in common with each other, and even in that very first communication I could tell that our friendship was clinched. ^_^

We have learned so much, just by being friends with each other. We've shared writing tips, inside jokes, recommended reads, laughter, songs, memories, deep discussions, secrets, letters, tears, phone conversations... and now we're even sharing writing a story together! He was the first friend I ever made on the internet, and he still remains one of the coolest and most incredible people I have had the pleasure of meeting online. (No offense to all you other awesome friends out there reading this. =P)

Jacoby Nielsen, you are a wonderful, unique and talented individual. I am grateful every day for having known a person like you, for having you in my life. Our friendship has been full of magic and sunshine, and has stood the test of time. I am sure that it will last many years to come. Someday (very soon, I hope!) we will meet each other in person, and when we do, it will be amazing.
Thanks for being my friend, Jacoby. This is for you.
*takes a deep breath*

WHOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOOO!

That was my annual shout-out to you. ^___^
I also wrote a poem for you. Here it is. Hope you like it.

(btw, look forward to a big surprise on Christmas. ^_~)

Thursday, December 16, 2010

Music + Tandem writing

The Bruno Mars album my twin and I ordered on Amazon, "Doo-Wops & Hooligans", finally came in yesterday! YAAAAY!

I was so excited when I saw the package that had come in the mail. How I love Bruno Mars. ^_^

We put his songs on our iPod, then finally got around to adding the Glee soundtracks too. I'd taken out the first 3 volumes of "Glee: The Music" from the library, and had simply enjoyed listening to the CDs. But now they are all in one place. Whoo!

In addition, I woke up early this morning and compiled 2 enormous playlists! You can see them embedded in my sidebar to the right here. I think their contents are pretty self explanatory. =P >>>>>>>>>>
Don't worry. I'll get to adding a Season 2 playlist very soon. ^_~
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Another thing that has me incredibly excited is that I have begun a new story-writing project that I am really enthused about! What's so great about it? It all started with one simple idea. It came into my head a few days ago. I didn't think it was worth anything at first, but the more thought I gave the idea, the more... life it got. You know what I mean?

All by itself, it was difficult to see what kind of story would come out of my idea. It was like a flower that hadn't fully bloomed just yet. It grew very slowly, so I couldn't tell what variety it was...

I began to see a hint of petals when I first told my idea to a very close friend the other day. He said it was brilliant! We talked about it a lot that evening, brainstorming tons, until finally we decided that 2 heads would be better than one for this story. ^___^

The next morning, that flower burst into bloom! Characters, settings, plot details, all of them 75% to 90% formed (not quite fully formed, but still really close to it!) leapt from inside my head, to my hand, to my pen, to many words on notebook paper, to a more refined outline typed out into a document, which I am sharing with my writing partner.

That is the best thing about this story! It would be the very first time I have attempted to write something this big with another person, to share my ideas so completely with someone else! I love it, because not only have my writing juices started flowing freely again, but this will also be a huge reminder to me to write something every day. Because that is the true mark of an author-in-training.

Wish us luck!

Monday, December 13, 2010

What a weekend! ^_^

The last few days have been so incredibly fun-filled and memorable! Such happy times for my family and I! ^_^

One thing that made everything so exciting is that my favorite aunt, Lisa, spent the whole weekend with us. She is so much fun! I always look forward to her visits. ^_~

So here was my weekend, in a nutshell:
Friday, 10 ~ It was Adam's 13th birthday! My little brother has now joined the ranks of teenager-hood! (Maybe I shouldn't call him my little brother anymore, since he's as tall as me now. lol) It was really great. We had a fun breakfast (I made an enormous batch of pancakes for him. An entire box's worth, actually. O_o), he read the special birthday cards we made for him, and Aunt Lisa took us to the theater to see "The Tourist", which was fantastic!

I loved Johnny Depp's and Angelina Jolie's acting. What fascinating characters! It felt like I was reading an awesome mystery novel instead of watching a movie. The story just pulled me in. Plus it took place in Venice, Italy, which looked absolutely beautiful! I want to go there someday!

Apparently, a friend of Lisa's had worked on the movie, so we waited through the credits until we saw her name. That was really fun! I should stay for the credits more often. You get to see all sorts of interesting names and jobs, especially long after the cast.
Saturday, 11 ~ The day of my brother's Bar Mitzvah! We had been working towards this day and looking forward to it for months, and now it has finally passed. *sad* It was incredible. We had the service and party in a special room in our library, invited about 50 of our close friends and family, and catered the whole lunch by ourselves! Yes, we didn't hire a caterer! Crazy, huh? O,o

Adam was a fantastic Bar Mitzvah boy. I am more proud of him than words can say. And to think, he didn't know a lick of Hebrew only a few months ago!

Annette and I made a special photo slideshow for our brother using Adobe Premiere Pro. Now you can see it on YouTube. Or you can just see it here. ^_^

My twin and I also put on a little surprise performance for Adam. The rabbi's son, who's a friend of ours, accompanied us on guitar while we sang Bruno Mars' "Count on Me". We sang straight from the heart. A lot of people were moved by it, I guess, because we got a big applause when we were done, and Adam hugged us with tears in his eyes. !_!

The party was lots of fun! Everyone enjoyed themselves, saying it was the best Bar Mitzvah they'd ever been to. (I've been to a few Bar Mitzvahs in my life, and I would have to agree with them. ^_^) The food was a big hit. We still have lots of left-overs, though. *yum*
Sunday, 12 ~ Yesterday marked the second anniversary of me officially becoming a Blogger! Now that's amazing! ^_^

Wednesday, December 8, 2010

Glee 2:10 ~ The Christmas episode

It's that time again. The houses in the neighborhood are being decorated with Christmas lights. Classic Christmas songs are popping up on the radio. And all of TV's Christmas specials, old and new, good and bad alike, are appearing to celebrate "the most wonderful time of the year."

Among the Christmas specials of the new variety, there is Glee. I was really looking forward to this, because (as those who know me here are well aware) I am a gleek. ^_^ I believed their stab at a holiday episode couldn't possibly fail to entertain. Well... I wouldn't say it failed, per se. I'm reluctant to give any Glee episode an F, but this one actually tempted me. O,o Thankfully, it (sort of) redeemed itself in the end. So I would give Glee's attempt of a Christmas special a C+, for their effort.

*Warning. For those who have not yet seen this episode,
read no further! Spoilers follow!*
~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Why do I give this a C+? Because the entire first part made me cringe! Honestly! Let me count the ways:
1: In the last episode, Emma married that dentist boyfriend of hers, Carl, when they went to Las Vegas. Really, writers?! She gets married in Vegas? How could she do that??? She's supposed to be with Will! In Glee's first season, she used to be one of my top favorite characters. Now she is quickly becoming someone I don't like anymore. ~,~

How could she, as this episode opens, sit down next to Will and expect them to still be friends? Really. If she still has feelings for him, then what did she go and marry Carl for? At this point, I wouldn't mind if Emma was written out of the show completely. But then I feel sorry for Will, because he's all alone now...
2: The opening song, in which all the Glee kids are happily decorating the Christmas tree. I'm Jewish, so perhaps I'm just a tad extra annoyed by this, but I thought this was waaaay too cheesy! They sang a song from Rudolph the Red-Nosed Reindeer, "The Most Wonderful Day of the Year". Puh-lease! =P
3: Oy gevalt... um, helloooo?! Rachel is Jewish! Puck is Jewish too! How could there not be one single mention about Chanukah??? It was totally, completely ignored! Plus, I really didn't like how Rachel attempted to get in the Christmas spirit, so she could get Finn to forgive her. It was too much. I was kind of sad that Finn actually dumped her, but I didn't feel as sad as I wanted to be. Like the Emma/ Will romance, Rachel and Finn's relationship has gotten so messed up that I no longer care whether these couples get together anymore. ~,~
4: Ugh. I knew going into this episode that one of the plot-points would be that Brittany still believes in Santa Clause. But seriously, the writers stretched her naivete way too far! This ditzy cheerleader will believe anything! When they go to the mall to sit on the big guy's lap, Santa is black, and she still believes it's him. When the Beiste dresses up in a Santa suit, she actually goes so far as to take her beard off, and yet Brittany doesn't even question it! Maybe Artie and the others thought it kinder to keep up the illusion that there is a Santa, so Brittany's innocence wouldn't get damaged, but still. It's ridiculous.

Thankfully, this was only the first part of the Christmas episode. I was quickly losing faith in my favorite show, just about ready to turn the TV off. But since I decided to hold on just a bit longer, I was rewarded for my patience. What saved this show, you ask? The better question is "who?" ^_^
I was nearly afraid that Chris Colfer wouldn't even make an appearance last night! It just wouldn't have been a good Glee episode without Kurt in it. !,! But he did show up! Yay! ^_^ I don't know how I forgot that he and Blaine (Darren Criss) would sing "Baby, It's Cold Outside." Which, by the way, was a fantastic rendition! Chris and Darren were wonderful, and I loved their playful interaction, those subtle flirts. ^_^ Just that song alone, I felt, made the whole thing worth while.

I'm sad that Kurt couldn't have been of any more use, though. !,! That is literally all he does in this episode. How could he not celebrate Christmas with any of his old Glee friends?
The other person who honestly saved the show is Sue Sylvester, my second favorite Glee character. She pulled of an absolutely perfect Grinch! It's funny how she actually painted her face green and tried to destroy the Glee kids' Christmas by stealing the presents and wrecking the tree and everything. And still, those teens sang on. It came a tiny bit close to being cheesy, because they actually sing the Who Christmas song (fa who forrays, da who dorray...), but I thought it was charming. ^_^

I've said before that I love the Grinch's take on learning the true meaning of Christmas. I'm glad that Glee tried hard to incorporate the same teachings into this episode. All the references were clever (except for Brittany being like Cindy Lou Who. That was ridiculous. =P), and Sue learns her lesson in the end. Christmas is saved (more importantly, the episode is saved), and everyone lives happily ever after...

Until the next episode, that is. Which, I've been informed, won't air until February 2011! Nooooo! ~,~ Well, I guess the cast and crew needs a little holiday break. I wonder what kind of reruns they'll show in the meantime?

So what did you think of "A Very Glee Christmas"? Was I a bit too harsh? Or did I hit the nail on the head? Your opinions, please.

Thursday, December 2, 2010

NOOOOOO! IT'S COOOLLLD!

I can't understand it! You would not believe how much the temperature has plummeted in Florida! Ahhhh!

Yesterday, even though it's Fall, I know that when Annette and I took a walk around our neighborhood, we were commenting on how strangely warm it was this time of year. It must have been 80° or something...

But then later that same day, it dropped... without ANY explanation... to the 60°s! By the time night fell, I needed all blankets covering me and pink fuzzy socks on my feet.

What is the temperature now, you ask? It's unbelievable... 57°! O,o Jeeeez! Talk about Florida being fickle about it's weather! *pick cold hands up from keyboard to rub and warm fingers*

(How did I get the degrees symbol to appear? With this link. You're welcome. ^_~)

Yes, I'm sure that people living in New York or Michigan or Illinois (or Utah ^_~) or wherever would say "what are you complaining about? You're lucky to get 50°-60° weather!" Okay, maybe I'm being a little silly. Still, when the temperature drops 20° below what, for me, is normal, I feel like saying something about it!
~~~~~
On a much happier note, I was listening to Charlie-is-so-cool-like music while writing this post. He recently released his first album, but he's allowed people to listen to his songs for free on his website! There are a couple songs that I knew that were re-recorded to account for his older voice, but a lot of them are songs I've never heard before. They are really funny and creative! ^_^ I love all the hilarious rhymes he makes. What a nice guy. He also happens to have a blog, which I now follow. Yay!
Edit: Also music related, Glee: the Music Volumes 1 and 2 just came in from the library! Hurray! Can't wait to listen to them! ^_^

Tuesday, November 30, 2010

Getting Better all the Time

In the last few days, I've been learning a lot about this extremely new movement. It all started with this video about Pixar that my sister came across on cartoonbrew.com, a site she recently blogged about. This led me to discover more videos that all carried the same incredible message: It does get better.

Only started in September of this year, Dan Savage started the It Gets Better Project to give LGBT teenagers hope that their future is bright, even if it doesn't seem that way right now. Hundreds of people from all over the country, gay and straight, have made these inspiring videos, and all kinds of celebrities and organizations have endorsed this project as well.

One of my best friends happens to be gay, so this site has really hit home for me. It breaks my heart to think about all the young kids out there, trying to come to terms with their sexuality while being bullied and teased at school, and in some cases even at home. !,! These teens need love and acceptance, not hate and prejudice! So what if they're a bit different? It's what makes them special. These unique, interesting, beautiful people deserve to pursue their happiness as much as we do.

History is being made with this project. It excites me to think that I can be a small part of it. ^_^ I whole-heartedly support the It Gets Better Project, and hope that you will help to spread the word too. In a way, this doesn't only apply to LGBTs, but to all people who feel lost and alone, just because they are different. Don't give up hope, my friend. It won't always be like this. Just keep on dreaming, be yourself, and remember...

It's Getting Better All The Time. ^_~

~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
It's the last day of November now. ~,~ It sure was a good month...

But tomorrow's the first night of Chanukah! Hurray! Plus my brother Adam's 13th birthday is on the 10th, and his Bar Mitzvah is on the 11th! Double yay! ^_^

Wow, 2010 is almost coming to an end. *sad*... But it's okay, because it has been such a wonderfully awesome year! If anything, this year has proven to me, beyond a doubt, that it is getting better all the time. I don't know how on earth I'm going to top it... but I'm sure 2011 will find a way. ^_^
~~~~~
Edit: How about tonight's Glee episode, huh?! This show honestly just gets better and better!!! LOL!

Thursday, November 25, 2010

Happy Thanksgiving!

I am so thankful for a lot of things this year...

Yesterday I wrote and published an EXPLOSION of new posts in honor of the many random things I'm thankful for. Just because I felt like it. You don't have to read everything I've written; this is honestly just for me.

In case you happen to get lost in my sea of thankfulness, I will throw you a lifesaver in the form of a table of contents, as shown below. ^_~

1: Bruno Mars
2: Glee
3: Anime/Manga
4: Books
5: Food
6: Autumn
7: My family
8: My friends
And last, but never least, I'm thankful for... Jacoby Nielsen ^_~

I'm thankful for... (last, but never least)
Jacoby Nielsen ^_~

Here is a good friend, right here. You see that face? This is the face of one of the sweetest people you will ever meet. I've known this person for nearly 2 years, and he still continues to surprise me with how sweet he is. ^_^

Some time after I'd came home from the vegetarian potluck with my family, I heard the phone ring. It was Jacoby! My friend had called me during his work break to wish me a Happy Thanksgiving! The last time I got a call from him was on my birthday, so this was totally out of the blue for me. That is just the kind of person Jacoby is. ^_^

There are so many things that we have in common, so many things that we've shared. Even though I've never met him, face to face (he lives all the way in Utah while I live in Florida), he is one of the closest friends I've ever had. I am so, very thankful to have a person like him in my life.

Happy Thanksgiving, Jacoby! ^_~

I'm thankful for... (8)
My Friends ^_^

I think it is largely thanks to these 2 websites here that I found and have a big majority of my friends. I have met so many wonderful people online! It is simply too amazing for words! ^_^

Nearly two years ago, James Dashner, in all of his awesomeness, inspired me to start my own blog. It's been quite a journey for me. I'm so happy to have had so many people to share it with. ^_^ I've come into contact with scores of friendly, interesting, like-minded Bloggers, and I've managed to get more than a dozen people to follow my "majikal" antics and adventures.

There are really only several people that I can truly call friends, though. I follow these people closely, they follow me. I always try to comment on their latest posts, and sometimes I get comments from them. Not that often nowadays, though... but don't worry, you are all still my friends! ^_~

I got started on Facebook just half a year ago, when I came home from my Taglit Israel trip. I made soooo many friends in those 10 days!!! ^_^ This site seemed to be the only way I'd be able to keep in touch with these awesome people. Sadly, I don't talk to these people very much anymore, except when one of them has a birthday or something. ~,~

But on the bright sight, I have connected with lots of other people this way! My family, people from my Toastmaster club, fellow beach bums, friends I know from blogging, even Cashflow players that I really hit it off with! Last night, I sent a message to ALL of my Facebook friends, wishing them a Happy Thanksgiving. This was a little experiment of mine, to see how many of my friends will wish me the same. At least a dozen people replied this message, and a few even commented my status or wrote on my Wall. So it looks like my experiment was a success! ^_~

I don't know... years before I used these sites, sometimes I felt like I didn't have any real friends. I just had my family and people I could call... acquaintances. I was a pretty shy little girl. Sometimes I'm still a bit shy, but my online persona has allowed me to be outgoing, bubbly and friendly, so I've made lots of friends that have helped me grow as a person. So this is a collective thanks to everyone. ^_^

Coming up next, I give very special thanks to a very special someone... ^_~

I'm thankful for... (7)
My Family ^_^

I love every member of my family soooo much! I'm thankful every day of my life that I'm related to these people, but on a day like today, I feel even more appreciative.

I have the best parents in the world, I have a twin sister as one of my closest friends, and I have a younger brother who rocks! We are such a tight unit, the 5 of us. There simply aren't enough words to describe my love for these people. I could have been born into any family in the world, but I was born into this one, and for that I am forever grateful. ^_^

I'm thankful for... (6)
Autumn ^_^

This is my favorite season for many reasons. It gets slightly cooler, the air smells different and special, and all the best holidays (plus some birthdays) take place around this time of year! ^_^

First there is my twin Annette's and my birthday, September 7th, to start things off. Then October 3rd, my mom's birthday. Next Halloween comes around, and we get all dressed up and everyone's in a happy, scary mood! After that it's Thanksgiving, where everyone is thankful and eats a lot. Also, it turns out that my favorite author, James Dashner's, birthday happens to be on November 26th, which hovers very close around Thanksgiving. (Last year it was the same exact day as Thanksgiving, so I thought it would be the same case this year. It is actually today, the day after Thanksgiving. =P) Finally, even though I would consider December to be strictly a winter month, there is technically still one more day that is special to me which falls within, well, Fall. That's my younger brother, Adam's, birthday, December 10th. Thanks for being born, bro. ^_~

Autumn, Fall, the Red Season... no matter what you call it, this 3 month span of time (from mid-September to mid-December) rocks hard. I am so thankful for it!

I'm thankful for... (5)
Food! ^_^

Of course, you've gotta be thankful for food, especially on a day like Thanksgiving. ^_^

Today I had lots of fun, because I went to a vegetarian potluck with my family. We've done that for a few years now, and it always gets better than the previous one. There is soooo much great food to be had at a potluck like that.

How thankful I am that I'm not one of those people who go to bed hungry. I know there are others out there who are not nearly so fortunate. ~,~

Really, I'm just thankful for food in general. I'm glad that I'm a person who loves to eat and, no matter how much I stuff myself (even on certain holidays), still stay my ideal weight. ^_^ I'm grateful that I have a mom who makes wonderful meals, and that certain foods, like pizza, pasta, cucumbers, grapefruits, oatmeal, carrot cake, ice-cream, pumpkin pie and many more, exist in the world. ^_^

I'm thankful for... (4)
Books! ^_^

What would the world be like without books??? A very sad place indeed. I'm incredibly thankful that libraries, bookstores exist, and that I have read all the books I have in my life. I learned to read as early as 3, and even then, I loved to read! Of course, I'd have to give a lot of credit to J. K. Rowling, who wrote the best-selling series that got me addicted to fiction novels forever! Long live Harry Potter! ^_^ Of course, I don't only like fiction novels. I am also a huge fan of poetry books, short story compilations, and autobiographies of my favorite heroes. And maybe some well-written non-fictions...

I have read hundreds and hundreds of books in my life! I'm glad that I used to keep a few lists of what I read in the past. Sometimes just looking at the title of a book I read long ago is enough to make me remember the plot and the characters and everything I loved about a particular adventure. I loved keeping my Book Club blog for the almost 2 years that I did. It was really fun for me to review the books I read and share my feelings of them with the world.

I also love meeting the people who have written my favorite books!!! Author events are so much fun! I am so thankful that I have been so fortunate to have met/ come into contact with several famous authors in my life! I love shaking their hands, getting their autograph, asking them questions, and just thinking to myself "OMG! I am actually in the presence of (fill-in-the-blank)!!!"

In addition, I'm so glad that I've met a few awesome authors online. I've emailed them, seen their blogs, sometimes even just had them comment on my blog, which is a huge honor. I'm talking about James Dashner, J. Scott Savage, Laura Bingham, Kaza Kingsley, Aprilynne Pike (well, at least her husband commented) and (even though he's not an official author yet, I still have lots of faith in him) Graham "Chops" Bradley. ^_~ I'm a huge fan of your work, man. I just know you'll be published and famous someday.

I love imagining that I, too, will someday write my own book(s) and publish it/them. It is one of my big dreams, my highest goal in life. I want to be an author, and turn out books of poetry, or short stories, or works of fiction that everyone will love... One day, I will. You'll see. ^_~

I'm thankful for... (3)
Anime/Manga ^_^

There is just something about this art/animation style that is completely awesome! I enjoy putting up these kind of pictures in my blog posts. Very often on my blog, when I'm trying to express how I'm feeling or what I'm doing, I type "anime girl" in the Google Image search box. Just sifting through all the results, trying to find the girl who will best represent me... it is so much fun for me! ^_^

But I don't just like anime and manga for my blog purposes. I love ALL of Hayao Miyazaki's movies (he is a master storyteller, like Disney was!) and in the last couple years I've become attracted to graphic and manga novels, like the Cirque Du Freak series.

Really, I just love the way the characters look in this style, and if it's really well done, how these characters act! I don't know how the Japanese came up with this look, but they sure hit a winner. It's beautiful, it's very realistic while staying cartoony, and even adults love this stuff! (In Japan, grown-ups as well as young people read manga novels! What a culture!)

I'm thankful for... (2)
Glee! ^_^

I'm soooo thankful that this show is on TV! It is just incredible! ^_^ There really isn't much I can say about Glee that I haven't already. In a speedy 2 months, this show has become close to my heart like no other program has done before. Not Simpsons, not SNL, not Seinfeld... not any show I can think of!

I love that this show isn't a sitcom, so it is without a god-awful laughtrack and lame jokes. I love that the background or transition music is just Acapella singers going "ba-ooh-ba-ooh-ba", or "doo-doo-doo-doo" or any of that stuff! It is so catchy! It's like those funny popping sounds that are in Seinfeld. I love how even though the characters are a little cliche on the surface, you find out that inside, they are actually very sensitive, feeling individuals who have hopes and dreams of their own. But most of all, I LOVE the music! ^_^

On Tuesday, I gave my 6th Toastmaster speech, titled "Give Glee a Chance." I've been incredibly hesitant about posting this video up, because I didn't do as good a job of it as I'd hoped to. ~,~ I messed up in a couple places. I was really nervous, for some reason! But on the whole, I think you will enjoy the content, and I do show some confidence for a majority of the video. ^_^ Despite everything, I would still call this my best speech ever. Check it out. ^_~
video

I'm thankful for... (1)
Bruno Mars ^_^

I would say that Bruno Mars has become one of my top favorite musical artists this year. I love him!!! I never thought that I would say it, but he is someone who can actually rival Michael Jackson. ^_^ He's talented, funny, sweet, and ever so cute! I love every one of his songs; they're very catchy, the lyrics are always so poetic, and I could listen to them over and over if I could.

I like this video a lot! This is like meeting Bruno! ^_^

I don't know how I missed it, but he came up with a new music video a few days ago! It is very good! I love this song... but it's pretty sad at the end. !,!

This is pretty neat too. The Making of. ^_^

Tuesday, November 23, 2010

Glee 2:8 ~ Furt
Like/ Not like

~~~~~*spoiler alert!*~~~~~
If you haven't seen the new episode of Glee yet,
do NOT read this post!
You have been warned!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
LIKE:
  • Carol Burnett. ^_^ I love her, she is such a great and funny actress. I think she was well cast as Sue Sylvester's mom. They sound a lot alike.
  • Artie, Mike and Sam standing up against Kurt's bully, Dave Karofsky (hard name to remember 0,o) and putting up a good fight. That was really epic! Sam got a black eye and Artie fell down in his wheel chair! I wonder how many times they had to do that scene... lol
  • Carol singing that song with Jane Lynch. That was a nice moment. This is the first time I've heard Sue sing on Glee! (Jane sang the "Glee theme song" in her monologue on SNL, but that doesn't count.)
  • Dave getting expelled from school. At least temporarily. He deserved it.
  • Finn standing up for Rachel against Santana. That's a good boyfriend for you.
  • Bruno Mars' song "Marry You". I knew this would be in the episode, but it was still fun, and I think New Directions did a decent job of covering it. I just love singing along to Bruno Mars! ^_^
  • Kurt's dad's speech to Finn's mom at the wedding. That was soooo sweet! !_! Very romantic and straight from the heart. You can tell that he honestly was in love with Finn's mom. They'll be so happy together. ^_^
NOT LIKE:
  • Kurt's over-the-top reaction to being the wedding planner for his dad and Finn's mom. I'm sorry, but that was just too gay of him. (How on earth could he plan weddings since the age of 2? I groaned inwardly when he said that. ~,~)
  • Sue... marry... herself?! What is she, crazy?! No, it's the writers who are crazy. This doesn't happen in real life! It is just too bizarre! (I was thankful, though, that Carol Burnett was sane enough to agree with me.)
  • The Glee girls (Rachel, Quinn, Brittany and Tina) not including Santana or Mercedes in their meeting when they plan for their football boyfriends to tell Dave to knock it off with bullying Kurt. That was slightly mean of them. I mean, yeah, they didn't have football boyfriends, but couldn't they still be included?
  • The totally untraditional wedding ceremony. Kurt's dad and Finn's mom very rudely interrupt the pastor when he's asking "Do you...". I mean, what was he even there for?! They didn't need him!
LIKE/ NOT LIKE
(I can't decide whether I like these plot points or not. They're just... strange.)
  • Sue being a good, responsible principal? She's supposed to be evil! I wanted her to go all Umbridge on the school. Then again, I was glad she listened to Kurt's troubles about Dave bullying him. She really seemed like she wanted to help him. So Sue does have a heart for these kids... which makes me very suspicious. O,o And then she willingly resigns as principal in the end?! So she can keep a watch on the bully Dave? I mean, I did wish that she'd somehow stop being principal, but... Sue doesn't just give up power! Why is she doing this??? Ahh, so confused... ~,~
  • Sam "proposing" to Quinn with a promise ring. Yeah, it was awful sweet of him, but... slow it down, dude! You haven't known her for that long; how can you love her enough to want to marry her?? I thought it was a very strange plot point, but for some reason, I couldn't put this in my NOT LIKE list. It was... sweet, I guess. =P
  • Kurt teaching his dad and Finn how to dance. Just because it again makes Kurt a little stereotypically gay. Still, I thought it was a pretty funny scene. And boy, I haven't seen an episode where his dad blows up about someone teasing Kurt's gayness before! O,o What a dad!
  • Finn singing Bruno Mars' "Just the way you are" to Kurt, and then voluntarily dancing with him. It was unexpected, and a bit out of character for Finn. But it was incredibly sweet and selfless of him, and like I said, I love singing along to Bruno. I don't care about the circumstances under which it is sung. Anyway, I could tell that it made Kurt soooo happy. ^_^ His face simply lit up, just like it did when Blaine sang to him. Kurt used to have some sort of crush on Finn, so it must have meant a lot. And now they're brothers... very interesting relationship. O_o
  • Kurt is leaving William McKinley High School?! For Dalton Academy? NOOOOOOO!!!!! He can't do that! I know he's scared of Karofsky (he doesn't stay expelled. Curse you, student board!) and now he'll be able to hang out with Blaine () in peace, but how can he run away like that? !,! Now he's going to be in the Warblers' Glee club, competing against New Directions! That's just... not right! But it does make for an awesome cliff-hanger! (We all have a love/hate relationship with cliff-hangers, am I right? ^_~)
~~~~~~~~~~
Generally, I would say that I disliked the first third of this episode, felt better about the second third, and then loved the final third! ^_^ Sometimes I would cringe at this story's goofiness, but then I'd see examples of incredible writing and acting. I give "Furt" a grade of A-.

That concludes my first critical review of a Glee episode! I thought since this was episode #30, I'd post something special in honor of it. I hope you enjoyed my very thorough critique! ^_^ What are your opinions? (Don't be shy. ^_~)

Monday, November 22, 2010

Writing is like a sandcastle

This morning I happened to find this blog post, titled "Writing is Like..." I thought it was pretty inspirational. Not just the content of the post, but also the commenters' own interpretations of the question. Pondering the prompt myself, I came up with my own clever analogy. I actually surprised myself with what I ended up writing!
~~~
Writing is like building a sandcastle. You gather a whole bunch of ideas and mix and pack them together, modeling them to your desire. Then you take a step back at your work and realize that some parts need to be taken away, or added to it. It is gritty and dirty work, and maybe the tide will wash it away, but you don't care. You're doing this simply for the joy of creation.

People passing by may stop to look at your castle. Maybe they'll admire it and say "Wow, you're an artist. Nice work." Or maybe they'll look down on it and say "You call that a castle? *scoff* I've seen better."

You can have friends help you with your castle, but really, it is your creation.

Finally, you'll stand back and find that your project is complete. It is perfect; nothing more can be added or taken away. You smile with the feeling of accomplishment.

And you know that the next time you go to the beach, you'll be doing the very same thing and loving every minute of it. ^_^

~~~
I'd like to continue this chain and ask my readers this question: what is writing like for you?

Friday, November 19, 2010

Long live HP...

Incredible. This movie, to quote the Harry of "A Very Potter Musical", was TOTALLY AWESOME! ^_^ I consider it to be the very best of all the films that came before it. There were great funny parts, the acting was fantastic, the scary parts were absolutely thrilling, and the story was extremely true to the book. Seriously, sometimes it felt like the book had honestly come to life! I don't want to spoil anything, but I'm sure hard-core Harry Potter fans will have either seen it at midnight last night, or will see it very soon, so there will be nothing to spoil. ^_~

I actually wanted to see it at midnight, very much! But we figured it would be a mob scene at the theater. You know, because it's HARRY FREAKIN' POTTER! It was okay, though. When we saw it this afternoon today, there were very few people in the theater, like 20 besides my siblings and I! We were able to get perfect seats in the middle. ^_^ I loved that!
Last night our internet connection stopped working. I was slightly alarmed, because I thought this would mean I wouldn't be able to blog about seeing Deathly Hallows. !,! But as you can see, we fortunately got the internet back. So yay, no worries! ^_^
On TV I saw a short excerpt from the classic Chuck Jones cartoon of "How the Grinch Stole Christmas." ^_^ I love this old holiday special. It is the only show about Christmas that I don't mind watching every year, because this cartoon gets the message right. The Whos down in Whoville know that the "true" meaning of Christmas isn't presents or decorations or trappings. It's about getting together and singing and being happy with what you have.

Besides that, the grinch himself is really funny! ^_^

Good night! Until next time...

Monday, November 15, 2010

Book Review: Skinny *Witch

This is officially the first book review I'm posting off of my book blog, which I have decided not to update anymore. That's because I don't feel like reviewing every single book I read, just the really good ones that I feel must be recommended. I talked about Scorch Trials a couple weeks ago, but I wouldn't call that an official review. This is.

So without further ado, I present... da da ta-DAAAH!
~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~
Book Review: Skinny *Witch
*Since I have an image of the cover right here [>>>] it is pretty obvious that I wrote the title wrong. This is because I, personally, am uncomfortable with cursing, even when I'm writing. So this is my way of working around that. Hey, it's only one letter off. Trust me; despite this book's actual title, it is fantastic, and you will want to keep reading this review. ^_~

As the subtitle says, this book is meant to be "A no-nonsense, tough-love guide for savvy girls who want to stop eating *klunk and start looking fabulous!" This book is all that it promises and more.
*Once again, I changed this word because I don't like using curse-words. =P The word I'm using instead is a reference to a term used in James Dashner's "Maze Runner" books. lol. ^_~

I started reading this non-fiction book on the high recommendation of my mom and twin sister. It is a very quick read, written with clever and sharp humor, but with a very serious and important message that I knew backwards and forwards already. That message is this: BE A VEGETARIAN!!! It is way healthier for you, you will stop being sick and fat, and you'll be saving the lives of countless animals in addition to making a greener environment.

There are quite a few curse words sprinkled in this book, but this is only so it can drive the point home for the reader. You have to use your head when it comes to your eating habits. Every day of your life, YOU control what goes into your body. You can choose to eat junk, or you can choose to eat the right stuff. You must look at the ingredients on the package and make educated decisions for your health. This book is a kick-in-the-pants for people who need to be told this.

These authors are not ordering you to go on a diet and give up the things you love to eat. They just simply giving it to you straight. Certain foods will slowly poison you, and other foods will vitalize you and give you the nutrition you need. After that, it is your own decision to make. Your life, your body.

Seriously though, though I am a very happy vegetarian and know most of this stuff already, I still learned a great deal from this book. There are separate chapters for the "evils" of junk food, sugar, dairy products, and meat. I'm not kidding here, I was freaked out by some of the facts I learned. Especially in the chapter called "You are what you eat"...

If you don't read anything else from this book, you HAVE to read that chapter. It has true horror stories of what goes on in the factories that slaughter the animals that become our meat. Actual people who work/used to work in these places talk about what their job entails them to do: murder hundreds upon hundreds of innocent creatures every single day! !,! Honestly, you will be shocked! You will also be horribly grossed out when you find out what really goes into your meat, milk, cheese, eggs and other such items.

You will not be sorry that you read this book (so long as you don't mind some of the language, that is ^,~). Of course, by the title, it is clear that the intended audience for this book is female. But all this valuable advice goes for both genders, without even saying. Still, I found out that a couple years after publishing "Skinny *Witch" and having it become a best-seller, these authors came out with a companion book for men. You can see the title right here anyway, so I don't even need to say it. ^_~ Enjoy!

Saturday, November 6, 2010

Brrrrrrrrrrr!

What gives, Mother Nature?! Just 2 days ago the weather was fine and warm in the 80s (degrees, that is). Then yesterday the temperature dropped between 70 and 60. That made for a really nice walking day. No clouds at all in the perfect blue sky, and it felt nice to be a little bundled up (emphasis on little).

And now it is 52 degrees! So cold!!! My siblings and I barely wanted to get out of bed this morning! *shivers uncontrollably* Hopefully none of us will get sick from this sudden and extreme swing in temperature.

Maybe I should write a poem about this... that's how strongly I feel about this cold!!!

How freezing is it in your part of the world, reader?

Monday, November 1, 2010

Day after Halloween

No more costumes, no more candy (we didn't have too much, just the right amount, which we finished last night), and no more parties. Today was a pretty normal day. ^_^
I finally got to see "The Karate Kid"! It was a really good movie! ^_^ Jaden Smith was soooo cute, and such an awesome actor! I can't help but be reminded of his father in his little expressions and his attitude. He's 12 now, but I bet he's going to be a heart-throb when he grows up. lol ^_^ The film itself was really great too. Great story, great action, China was beautiful and I liked his interactions with the Chinese girl, his romantic interest. Plus there was Jackie Chan and all the Kung Fu. ^_^ What a cool teacher he was.

(Just a question though. Isn't this supposed to be the Karate Kid? Why was Chan teaching Jaden Kung Fu, not Karate? That's just not right. 0,o)

On the DVD was an awesome music video where Justin Bieber sings and Jayden raps! (Again, just like his dad. He's got skills!) It is a really good song, and it was cool to see them perform together.


Then there is this music video, which I also saw today. I loved the song already, but when combined with this story... it's even more inspiring. Just watch. ^_~

Mwah-ha-ha-hah!

I hope everyone's Halloween was full of candy, laughs, surprises, costume appreciation, and awesome fun! Mine certainly was. ^_^

Pretty much this whole weekend has been a blast. On Friday, my mom and Adam invited Annette and I to come to their home-school costume party, which was quite fun. Then last night, the night of Halloween, we went to the annual party at our Town Center (we've gone every year for ages), which has costume contests for age categories and booths with kiddy games where you win candy. Adam, as the Mad Hatter from the new Tim Burton Alice in Wonderland, won second place in his category. See the comparison:
Incredibly similar, huh? ^_^

This year for Halloween, my twin was Grouch Marx, our favorite of the Marx brothers. He's probably before your time, but he's the one who had a big black mustache, a cigar, and the sharpest wit you ever saw.

Meanwhile, I was my very own character. Like no one you would know from a particular movie or TV show. I wanted to be something... scary for Halloween this year. I've been a mermaid, a hula girl, a princess, a mime, a hippie and lots of other creative and cool-looking characters, but I've never had a real Halloween-ish costume.

But this year, I changed that. ^_^ Mwah-ha-ha-hah!!!
I was... a Mad Scientist! Behold my evil!





There is no contest. This was my favorite costume for Halloween EVER! Remember how I found the crazy x-ray glasses with my Grandma? I used those! My mom found this wonderful white "lab coat", and I painted it myself with blood and slime (red and green paint =P), even though it looked really beautiful and I didn't want to ruin it at first. I put up my hair all crazy, we sewed a pipe-cleaner spider onto my shoulder to make me look more creepy, I wore yellow rubber gloves, and I filled a beaker with green liquid for a prop.

Before we got to the home-school party on Friday, I wrote this poem about my costume, which I loved so much. And on Halloween, I got my siblings to help me put together a short film, where I recite the poem and act it out. I think it is really cool and I hope I will get to show it to you soon. ^_^
At the Town Center, Annette and I volunteered to help out at a couple of the game booths for the first time ever. For years we'd simply enjoyed the party. This time, we saw what the party looked like before people came, when the party was hopping, and after everyone left.

It was a lot of work, but I had so much fun. ^_^ Working with the kids, encouraging them to win the game, and seeing their smiles as I gave them candy, was all the payment I needed. Plus I think I got a lot of impressed looks for my costume, which made me really happy. Neither Annette nor I won the contest for our age group, but that was okay with me. I still had the best Halloween ever. ^_^