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*


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


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! ^_^