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Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Patsy 1941: Reading Regional Tales

I thought I had read just about every perspective of WWII out there. After all, I've indulged in Night by Elie Wiesel, Farewell to Manzanar by Jeanne Wakatsuki Houston and James D. Houston, The Diary of Anne Frank, The Things They Carried by Tim O'Brien, along with other great titles. But I guess I was wrong. I never learned what it was like where I lived when the war was going on... But now I do.


Patsy 1941 by Lora Lee Curtiss
Through the eyes of 8-year-old Patsy Hayes, the world seems simple and naive. Her cousin Victoria is her best friend and the small flat her large family shares in Virginia, Minnesota is small but quaint. Everything is all right in her corner of the world. That is until Pearl Harbor is bombed. Though thousands of miles away, things start changing quickly. Her uncle is called out to Washington D.C. to help with the war effort, leaving Victoria in the Hayes' hands. Since the flat is too small, everyone moves to Victoria's house. Patsy's brother dreams of signing up for war. And Patsy must move to a new school. Victoria's school.
Quickly discovering the bond between the two cousins isn't all that Patsy thought it would be, they become enemies. Patsy loses all sense of hope until she meets Michael, a boy with a passion to help the war effort through different collection drives. Patsy and Michael begin a friendship and a club. Meanwhile, the collection process brings on a lot of different obstacles for the whole neighborhood, especially the Hayes family, to deal with.

I have to say that I was enthralled with this book. Knowing the town of Virginia like the back of my hand, I could visualize everything that was going on in Patsy's life. It was a treat. Not only that, but it was a great story! I knew what went on in the states during the war:  victory gardens were planted, many people volunteered, rations were issues. But I never thought what it would be like in the dead of winter for places in Minnesota. It was fairly interesting and reminded me of childhood in many ways, due to the writing styles, different character antics, etc. It was a fun, short read.

What I really got out of reading this, though, was the fact that everyone needs to read local authors. It opens up a whole new world, and while reading authors from other places makes for new adventure, it sometimes takes a story from your hometown to really broaden your horizons. It's like a step back in time, a living and breathing memorial of a specific time period for a specific place. Plus, if we don't know our past, how will we know our future?

It has really inspired me to write a novel about what it was like in my area during a certain time period. I'll put it on my "to-do" list. :)

'Til next time!

Tuesday, August 30, 2011

The Hunger Games Trailer

You may have heard that the MTV Video Music Awards promoted the Hunger Games movie trailer on their show Sunday night. And when I say that, I mean that the Hunger Games movie trailer promoted the VMAs Sunday night.

Seriously, who would watch if the Hunger Games trailer wasn't being played? That was their main advertising tactic, too.

I know you've been waiting for my reaction of the trailer, so here it is, in a nutshell, of course.


Wow! Wow! Wow! Wow! I cannot wait until March 23rd, 2012. I'm probably going to go to the midnight showing. I'm not kidding.

Initially, I was super against this movie, yet I was still kind of intrigued. So maybe I sat on the imdb.com website waiting for the Hunger Games newsdesk to get a new article. Maybe I was mad when the main actors were announced. At one point, I ranted to a friend that no book ever should be made into a movie. I believe one quote I said was, "Casting directors can do a mock cast all they want. I just don't want those stubby actors in my head when I'm reading the books." I was bent on sending a bill to the Capitol myself. But then... well... you know...

I NEED TO SEE THIS MOVIE.

I have low expectations for any movie that I look forward to, in secretly hoping it will be all that I dreamed of and more. This first glimpse is all I needed. How do I know this? Well, just look at it!

1.) They used a true-to-page scenario for the trailer. (This may be a clever ploy, but I'm hoping otherwise.)

2.) Jennifer Lawrence is amazing. She's perfect. The perfect essence of the character. But her hair needed to be brown, which it is. Good. Those letters paid off.

3.) The marketing team used the mockingjay symbol for the movie. Since it worked so well with the books, good for them! :) I'm happy with just using the raw book cover too, if you must know! Just keep the story straight!

Anyway, I digress. It looks super good and may have made me smile a little bit... or a lot. But don't think that this is going to let you off easy, Gary Ross. You still got a whole lot more editing to do before I actually turn the other cheek for this movie.

The only bad part, you ask? (Haha. You guys know me too well.) LIAM HEMSWORTH is the WORST GALE EVER. I'm glad he's not in the first book a lot. Maybe they'll change actors for when he really gets into the story. (Ahem... I hope that happens before Mockingjay.) I just hope they don't infuse him into the first movie plot like they said they would. That would be terrible. Voice-overs should be the greatest extent of his presence. Just saying.


Isn't it wonderful?

'Til next time!

Monday, August 29, 2011

h-APP-y day

So I found this amazing app on iTunes. It's probably my favorite one yet, even beating out angry birds. Yes. I know. Not that angry birds is a good game to begin with.

The new, awesome, totally worthy app of sucking up all of my time is... *Dramatic Music* ... ComicBook!



That's right! Now you too can turn your life into a comic book! I did! (Well, I turned Sally's life into one.) Take a look below:


Pretty dramatic, right? Well, what are you waiting for!?! I got mine for $0.99 yesterday and had a joyous time. Let's go!!! :)

'Til next time!

Sunday, August 28, 2011

The Duluth Play Ground Presents...

Little Shop of Horrors. The run is now over, but I did want to write about it. Even though I was extremely tired while seeing it, it was quite good. Therefore, instead of a formal review, where I prompt you to go see it (AND NOW!), I will use this as an example of an occurrence into which actors often run:  seeing shows they were in at a point in time.

So the first thing that you should know is that I played Seymour in Little Shop of Horrors a little less than a year ago. It was a good time, and I have a keen liking of this musical since it surprisingly means a lot more when the plot, stock characters, and songs are analyzed with great depth. Seeing another group of performers' work on the show was a bit daunting, due to the fact that humans automatically compare themselves to others. I have to admit that I fell into this a bit. And this is what I found...

Your Character: (This one's a bit longer because it had me thinking awhile.)
An actor or actress, from my experience, has a deep connection with all the characters they play. Most of the time, they may even claim fictitious characters as their own, strongly defending them with all of their might. It's not a bad thing; after all, they've lived in their shoes for months preparing. It's bound to happen. I feel the same way for Seymour.
Cory Regnier, who is a very talented actor and actually employed by the Duluth Playhouse, played Seymour in the Play Ground's rendition of Little Shop. He was hilarious, as usual (I saw him as Leaf Coney Bear in 25th Annual Putnam County...), and I admired his work entirely. What I noticed is that he played the character differently, a little bit more subtle, than I did. For further perspective, this is how I view Seymour.
From my understanding, the role of Seymour is two things. Pathetic and comedic. These two elements overlap in many aspects, and it poses a challenge to any actor playing it because: 1) it's a leading role that takes a lot of courage to play and 2) Seymour has zero courage. It's very contradictory and, in my opinion, takes a lot of skill. I applaude any actor who endures being eaten by that plant.
Regnier did a great job. Personally, I saw Seymour as more animated, but both he and I (I think I did) did wonderfully.

The Other Characters:
When you're in an ensemble cast, you realize that others have great talent. In turn, you defend their portrayal of their characters as much (and even more) as you do your own.
In this category, I thought the ranks were pretty even. Just like my own character, I saw that the characters could be played in multiple ways. However, they were pretty much played the same, if not dead on by some performers.
It was a fantastic portrayal!

The Set:
Everything seems so personal when it comes to a work of art, doesn't it? Setting a stage, like every other piece of theatre, is as such.
In this aspect, I can't really compare. I really enjoyed the Play Ground and the quaintness of it all, especially for this show. I feel that it was made for this kind of theatre. Our stage was 40 feet across, procenium stage, the works. There's no comparison because of the polar opposites.
In a tug of war competition between the two, the Play Ground wins, in my opinion for this specific show. I can see why they chose to put this one on at the Play Ground versus the Playhouse mainstage.

The Lighting:
They were the same. Same gels, same lights, everything. Great minds think alike!

The Costumes:
They were the same too. Almost identical, in parts. I have to say that this corner for this musical is pretty predetermined, though.

And so concludes my "side-by-side" comparison.

I have to add that their ending was unlike anything I've ever seen. Beautifully done and terrifying, this is why the Play Ground was the perfect venue for it. Wow. Just WOW!

In conclusion, everything kind of seemed like some odd parallel universe. Definitely something to experience for all those actors and actresses out there. For the musicians, it's like a cover song: neither way is wrong, just different. Since theatre is highly creative, who are we to negatively criticize fellow artists? The other actor may be looking at the role completely different or from an even clearer perspective. Take a second and ask if you were wrong and they were right. I know the answer will always come up with: "Well, I guess no one was wrong."

It was a great and entertaining show! Thank you for the great time cast and crew!

'Til next time!

Saturday, August 27, 2011

Framing Frames

For five hours today, I did a project that I really enjoyed doing. Take a look!

First, I took a trip to our local Saver's store and picked up some frames. From there, I went to Michael's to pick up some paints. Take a look at my purchases laid out! I think I came out pretty good! They were all very unique and suitable for the "collage"-walled look I was going for.


And even though there were some good things in the frames already, I had to take them out for specific reasons. (For instance, on this "grandma" one, I think it would look kind of silly on my wall.)


I really liked this one. Only $0.99! I love Saver's! It's like the greatest garage sale ever!


And then there was this one. It wasn't a framed picture; it was actually scanned right onto the wood. But I wanted to make my own picture for my wall, so I got it.


Is it just me, or does she seem to be staring into your soul? 


Seriously, it just bores into you.


I could not have this look at me all the time. I had to paint over it.


But wait! She's watching me!


She knows it's coming, and she's just not saying anything! I can't!!! But I must!


Glad I got that over with. After, it took at least a couple coats to get her silhouette out of it though.


And here's the finished products! I was really happy with how they turned out!


And here's them on my wall! (Notice my "R" in Mary Tyler Moore fashion. :) ) Some of the stuff in the frames are a bird silhouetted, the first lyrics of Paul McCartney and the Wings'  "Silly Love Songs," and the verse James 4:14.



And here's that little girl with the apron's frame. I repainted gold on the frame, and I quickly sketched/painted my puppy in the middle. I just had to add her to the wall! I showed her the picture after because she was helping me with the project the whole time. She really liked it! Sally approved! And she's an art connoissseur, you know.


I thought it was a great project, and I loved using colorful paints on ornate frames! It really got the look I was going for! I owe the whole idea to Lee from Leethal! do-stuff blog. I was so inspired when I stumbleupon.com-ed it maybe 6 months ago that I held onto this great idea until now! :)

I hope you're inspired to go do something creative!

'Til next time!

Friday, August 26, 2011

To Clean Or Not To Clean? THAT Is the Question.

Today, it was yes.

Have you ever been so lazy that you just absentmindedly throw things in a corner? Have you ever waited on doing a project and just tuck something away for a "short" time? Have you ever let dust build up an inch behind your TV? Have you participated in spring cleaning on the eve of fall?!?!!!!

These are the harrowing questions that I had to answer today as our family went full-"pledge" on cleaning our downstairs.


There was a mirror leaning up against a wall that must be put up. There were discarded doors that are to be hung up later but for now put in storage. There were bunnies running on the wood floor! (dust bunnies)

It was as if I stepped into my nightmare for a second and couldn't wake up! It was awful.

There are two problems with this whole scenario, if you ask me.

1.) You thought that my house was a garage apartment, meaning the downstairs is the garage and therefore has a right to be this way. It's not.

2.) Everyone in my household is considered particularly clean and tidy. I learned otherwise today.

3.) (Just for good measure.) My mom actually works as a janitor part-time. The other part is at a shoe store, but that's beyond the point.

And so we went to work.

Hanging up mirrors, vacuuming walls, dusting, redesigning the wall space, watching TV after we gave up, cleaning the fireplace, squirming at the thought that a spider could build a web in an open spot. And to think I breathe in that air! It was much worse than you could ever imagine. Who knew that piling up things in a non-orderly fashion could end up in a pile of pure manure-esque fashion. You know that smell of a lot of dust in one area? Well, I do. I also realized that I may not have had allergies this whole time!

I can't even imagine living in some of those houses that they have on A&E's "Hoarders." We were about... well 1/32 of the way there. But still!


This is not my house. I know that you thought it was, but it's just a picture I googled.

Moral of the story? Set up a date each month that you do nothing but clean. You don't even have to do each room per month! Just one room a month! I beg of you!!!

'Til next time!

Thursday, August 25, 2011

Unicorns

Cross breeds confuse me, so you can imagine my great perplexity when my mom came home with a lemon melon the other day.


You guessed it! Half lemon, half melon (or something like that) this fruit seems a little fishy to me, but it tastes good! It's super weird, and I was and am still skeptical about it. Nonetheless, since our first melon, my parents went to go buy another one, claiming that "It tastes so good! I wonder if they all taste like that."
"Well, it tastes so good because you have to let it ripen on the counter," my mom points out.
Okay, mom.
Either way, they did go pick up a second melon, which is sitting on my counter waiting to be devoured for dinner. I'm sure my parents would tell you to "run, not walk, to Sam's Club (or your Sam's Club equivalent) to pick one up."

And just when I thought crossbreeding was sticking to unicorns, centeurs, labradoodles, and puggles. Now we're eating them?! I bet Dolly the Sheep would think it's pretty conservative, though. You know... considering... never mind.


On that note, I wonder what people who eat organic food have to say to this, eating a "lemon melon." They would probably have to say the same thing I'd have to say about cloning. "DON'T DO IT!" I could get into exactly why this is the creepiest thing ever and that we shouldn't play God, but I can save that for a later post, if it so strikes me.


Hey, at least they crossed fruits with the same letters in them.

'Til next time!

Wednesday, August 24, 2011

The Wonderful World of Disney

I'm almost certain that people at Disney know what's going on. Not only do they produce some of the best movies for the worst critics (kids), but they have also garnered some of the best advertising tactics ever.

I know these are a bit old, but those who haven't seen them should. Thank you Anne Lebowitz for sharing your concepts!

"Beauty and the Beast" --- Penelope Cruz & Jeff Bridges


"Snow White"  ---  Alec Baldwin & Olivia Wilde


 "Cinderella" --- Scarlett Johansson


"Alice In Wonderland" --- Beyonce, Oliver Platt, & Latslu Lovett

 "The Little Mermaid" --- Julianne Moore & Michael Phelps

"Snow White" --- Rachel Weisz


"Peter Pan" --- Gisele Bunchen, Mikhail Baryshnikov, & Tina Fey



"Pocahontas" --- Jessica Biel


"Sleeping Beauty" --- David Beckham


"King Arthur" --- Roger Federer 


"Aladdin" --- Jennifer Lopez & Marc Anthony


"Pinocchio" --- Julie Andrews & Abigail Breslin


"Aladdin" --- Whoopi Goldberg


"Sleeping Beauty" --- Zac Efron & Vanessa Hudgins


"Beauty and the Beast" --- Drew Barrymore


"The Little Mermaid" --- Queen Latifah



*Sidenote: I really love the way that they used athletes in these too, instead of just singers and actors. It adds another layer to it that would be missing otherwise.

Don't you wish you were in one of these? I sure do! What character would you be? After thinking about it long and hard, I would have to say I'd like to be, realistically, either Pinocchio or Cinderella's prince. I'd probably end up as Quasimoto or Rafiki, though. Actually, I think I'd like to be Rafiki; it'd be a fun transformation. Let me know who you'd like to be in the comments!

'Til next time!

Tuesday, August 23, 2011

Cornerstones

cor·ner·stoneNoun/ˈkôrnərˌstōn/

1. A stone that forms the base of a corner of a building, joining two walls.
2. An important quality or feature on which a particular thing depends or is based.
I have obsessions. You may have realized this. If you haven't, I must not have been clear about them in this blog. But I feel it important that you know the telltale signs of my obsessions on books or movies or any subject really:
1.) I only talk about that subject when conversing with another person.
2.) I only do things pertaining to that subject. i.e. Reading books on it, watching movies pertaining to it, etc.
3.) I buy things that remind me in the least of something that pertains even in the slightest way to my obsession.
4.) People around me start to become obsessed too.
Okay, so the fourth one just makes my obsessions seem like the plague, but there's nothing wrong with liking something, is there?
Sometimes, liking something so much opens your world to a whole different perspective, like watching old movies, or enjoying theatre, or blogging. These are the things I call cornerstones, which launch you in a direction that makes you interested in things you had not yet discovered. You build your knowledge on that base you first were interested in in that area.
Here is a list of some of the "cornerstones" that started me in on some of my greatest interests.
Movies.
The Wizard of Oz is a beloved classic. None other can compare. I can call this movie my ultimate cornerstone when it comes to any type of entertainment. Words can't even describe... except a comparison might. The Wizard of Oz beat out Disney movies for this top one.
It seems kind of ironic since those monkeys scared the living daylights out of me when I was a kid.
Musicals.
Is there much need to say anything? Wicked is just fantastic! The music, the costumes, the everything. This defines what modern musical theatre is in every way. Plus, it's a "prequel" to the Wizard of Oz. Did I tell you, or did I tell you?
But my amount of things about this illustrates my point here. I have the soundtrack. I have the score. I have the script. I have signed playbills. I have commemorative books. I have a souvenir program. Best of all, I have a ticket stub.
The sad part? I would happily pay $150 to get an orchestra seat.
Books.
It's kind of a funny story. I'll start from the beginning.
I hated reading when I was a child. I hated it more than anything. I could not and would not do it. My mom tried to bribe me once to read a book. I didn't even do it for money. As I became a teenager, I read books if I absolutely had to or really wanted to know the story. It was something to do.
It wasn't until I read The Hunger Games that I really started scheduling my days around flipping the pages of a book. I literally "devoured" the first two books and then had to wait a year before the third came out. I have the pin that Katniss wears in it; that pretty much seals it. And you recall the classic sign of my obsessions #4? The plague one... that actually happened. I started pushing this book on people, loaning them my copies and prodding them to read it. They have. They loved it. They went and bought their own copies to read over and again. If you haven't read this book, call me right now. You will not regret it. I have not met one person that hasn't liked this book. I dare you.
Music.
Do I even have to say it? I have played piano since the age of 4, and I will not stop until the age of 94. This is one thing that "accompanies" my whole life. From this instrument, I have branched out. I play every possible type of percussion instrument you can think of, including a drum set, which is actually harder to master than previously thought. I taught myself how to play guitar. I have an overwhelming need to go out and get a violin so that I can learn how to play that too. Obsession rule #4? Maybe. Does teaching piano count? I've done that! :)
Life.
I have to include Jesus Christ in this post. If I didn't, I'd be sorely mistaken. He has done so much for me, and I honestly don't know what I'd do without Him. It even says so in the Bible!
Ephesians 2:19-22
19 Consequently, you are no longer foreigners and strangers, but fellow citizens with God’s people and also members of His household, 20 built on the foundation of the apostles and prophets, with Christ Jesus himself as the chief cornerstone. 21 In Him the whole building is joined together and rises to become a holy temple in the Lord. 22 And in Him you too are being built together to become a dwelling in which God lives by His Spirit.
So there you go!
These are just a few "important qualities or features on which particular things depend or are based." These are some of my cornerstones.
'Til next time!

Monday, August 22, 2011

Toilet Paper Covers? Really!?!

You may have seen this cottonelle commercial:


If you're like me, you take a moment to actually think about it. "Hmmm... Is that a good idea? Something that people could use to make their life easier? Hmmmmm..." And then you would promptly answer, "No! Why would anybody want to store their toilet paper in a little container, making every person that has to go to the bathroom wipe his or her dirty hands on its cheap, plastic surface, contaminating it with the bacteria that you're trying to prevent by having the toilet paper protector thing in the first place, to even get at the one thing that they absolutely need at that very moment?" It's just not a good idea.

And I get it. I really do. It's a decorative way to have a single roll of toilet paper. (And when I say "decorative," I mean a manufactured, it's only new until you use it once, kind of way.) But look at it!



It will just take up room. And since every bathroom is decorated in one of the three ways above, it's okay. (Can I have three toilet paper roll covers and a generous amount of sarcasm on the side please?)

Maybe the advertising team should just stick with the Zach Braff-voiced puppy.



'Til next time!

And this will take us to the segment "Really!?! With Seth & Amy..."


Sunday, August 21, 2011

101 Ways to Use Mason Jars

One thing that has always captured my creative eye is the use of mason jars. They are a very simple instrument that conduct the most beautiful of things. You can fill them with fresh flowers, fill them with kitchen supplies, fill them with candy, fill them with basically anything. And they look good! This is my own implementation of one:


And I only have one because I have limited room. Imagine if I could just go wild and crazy for them? It would probably not be a good thing. I could use them for water glasses (and I WILL):


Credit Covet Living via Kate Miller Events
Or I could do these following things:

Credit Imprintables. Yes. That's ice cream.

I saw this idea on Parenthood, too. It's fantastic.
I love this idea, too. From Apartment Therapy.

From the etsy shop Treasure Again.
Amazing. I love everything about it, and I'm stealing this for some party or wedding that I plan. Credit Oh So Beautiful Paper.

Another idea from Apartment Therapy.
Place settings? I think so! From Hooked on Houses.
I need this now. From Candle Light Solutions.

If I were you, I would google "Mason Jars" right now. People have found some amazing ways of utilizing this "staple" of arts and crafts. Maybe it's best that we glean off them. :) Just remember...

Blue or clear, short or tall, Mason Jars, we love them all.

'Til next time!
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