Monday, October 31, 2011

My Kind of Halloween Party

I'm back from my week hiatus! P.S. I find that having an entry everyday really helps with my writing skills. So here we are!

This past weekend, I indulged in a little party of my own. I plucked one of the pumpkins off the front steps of my house, grabbed a knife, and stuck it in the orange surface up to the blade's hilt. There were guts everywhere. Meanwhile, I watched the classic movie The Wizard of Oz. It was oh so joyous. Throwing of fireballs, cackling, and sleeping all took a turn in those late night hours. My pumpkin carving even followed this choice. There's a picture below of my art!

Can you guess what it is? Do you like? After ruling out a Hunger Games pumpkin, quite frankly because I'm not a pro like others and I wasn't set to be disappointed, it's what I decided upon. (I guess you could tell by the black marker lines that I'm not great, but you can't see 'em when it's dark! After all, I'm just an amateur pumpkin carver; what can I say? I'll tell you one thing, though. It really looks good when it's lit up. :)

Anyway, I'll leave you with this wonderfully nerdy comic associated with dressing up:

Ahahahahaha! Watching the full series, from top to bottom, of Star Wars is now on my bucket list. Go eat a snickers bar for me. :)

'Til next time!

Thursday, October 27, 2011

Is It Christmas Yet?

HOLY COW! IT SNOWED TODAY! IT SNOWED, IT SNOWED, it SNoWed!!! You know what that means! Push in that Christmas CD, because it's starting up!

I just have a feeling this is going to be the song of the Christmas season for me. For one, I grew up thinking that Shania Twain was related to Mark Twain. For two, is there a better singer than Michael Buble? For three, Shania knows how to use the natural break in her voice like none other.

Good thing her next CD will be coming out within the next year (hopefully) because I'm starving.

Merry Christmas, everyone!

'Til next time!

Sunday, October 23, 2011

Winners of the 100th Post Giveaway!

My 100th post has now come and past, but I still have yet to reveal the winners of our contest. As you may remember, I posted about the prizes in a previous post, found here. You guys entered to win, and then I picked the winner via Without further to do, these are the winners of my 100th post giveaway! *Sue, the confetti cannons...

Julie and Julia: Julia/That Hapa Chick

Tale of Two Cities: Jana L.

Short Second Life of Bree Tanner: Isabel Q.

8-Pack Ice Box Cards: Julia/That Hapa Chick

$10 Barnes and Noble E-Gift Card: Aubrey F.

If you won anything, you will receive or have received an email from me. You'll have to respond to that with the information asked, and it'll go to you! :) Remember that all drawings were made using

A big thank you goes out to all who entered! I really did have a great time, and now I know exactly how giveaways work for future reference! Thank you all again!

'Til next time!

God's Been Good (My 100th Post)

In church this morning, our pastor's wife sang "God's Been Good" by Legacy 5. It's so honest. It's so phenomenal. On this, my 100th post, I look back on everything I've done so far here and hope that it's been impactful for the greatest cause, Jesus'. Naturally, this song deserves this post's place. Even in the hardest times throughout the past three months, I know that "God's Been Good."

Verse 1
Lately I've been looking back, along this winding road
To the old familiar markers of the mercies I have known
I know it may sound simple but it's more than a cliche
There's no better way to tell you, than to say

God's been good in my life
I feel blessed beyond my wildest dreams when I go to sleep each night
And though I've had my share of hard times, I wouldn't change them if I could
'Cause through it all, God's been good

Verse 2
Times replay and I can see that I've cried some bitter tears
But I felt His arms around me, as I faced my greatest fears
You see I've had my gains than losses and I've known more joy than hurt
As His grace rolled down upon me undeserved

For God has been my Father, my Savior and my Friend
His love was my beginning, and His love will be my end
I could spend forever trying to tell you everything He is
But the best that I can say it is this

'Til next time!

book review: the son of neptune by rick riordan

I decided I'm going to take a whack at writing a book review in the actual format for this post. Always learning! Here we go:


Rick Riordan is best known for his first series of books, dubbed the Camp Half-Blood Series by avid fans and Percy Jackson and the Olympians by purists. In it, Percy Jackson finds out that he's the son of the Greek god Poseidon and eventually goes on to complete a prophecy that has been centuries in the making. As this series of five books, which caught so much acclaim and a movie contract, drew to a close, however, audiences were wondering what Riordan had up his sleeve next.

After the beginnings of another mythological series centering upon the mythical gods of Ancient Egypt, Riordan finally released what everyone was waiting for, which was a continuation of the recently-acclaimed Percy Jackson books. It's called Heroes of Olympus, and so far, it's caught the attention of everybody from the original series and more.

Upon the release of The Son of Neptune, the second book in the Heroes of Olympus series, fans were overdrawn with excitement. It had to be about Percy Jackson. It had to be about Roman culture. And essentially, it's the new and the old combined. To be completely honest, it sure turns out that way, too.

The book opens on Percy running from two gorgon women who are trying to kill him, which echoes from the beginning of the first Heroes book. Eventually, he stumbles upon the gates to Camp Jupiter, the equivalent of Camp Half-Blood but in Roman demigod form, in which he mercifully caries an old hippie lady who eventually turns out to be Juno, the Roman equivalent of Hera. She warns of her concerns and that the time of the next great prophecy is near. She counts on Percy to fulfill it. Hazel Levesque and Frank Zhang co-narrate the book with Percy. They are demigods alike that accompany Percy to set the chains of Death free. In true Riordan fashion, it is action-packed and does not disappoint, introducing lively characters that help and oppose the battle of the young hero who is Percy Jackson.

Overall, the text was everything that I thought it would be. Riordan has maintained the ability to expose his readers to an exciting plot as well as heroic characters, and he doesn't disappoint. His utilization of cultural references from the ancient civilizations that he draws inspiration from also display his unwavering talent. In such, not only are these books entertaining and motivational for kids to read, but they are incredibly educational. These are the things I look for in a book, and it makes it worth reading a book that is technically below my reading level. Nevertheless, Riordan always delivers.

Compared to his other books, I would have to call this current series one of my favorites. The dual-perspective that each of the already released books has makes for a rather enjoyable read. However, I'm rather concerned how the next book will be. Presumably, all of the characters from The Lost Hero and The Son of Neptune will meet. Across the two books, there are six narrators. It makes me wonder how Riordan will handle this and whether having these six narrating will cause serious ramifications for the readers' understanding of the plotlines. It could get rather crossed with three, after all. Will it be in third person? One thing's for sure. I can't wait for another year. Another thing I enjoy is the diverse backgrounds each of the characters have. In the original series, the origin of each character mainly came from New York or somewhere across the East Coast of the U.S. In this newest book, there's a character from New Orleans, one from Canada, and then obviously Percy (New York). The geographical difference makes for some interesting twists with how each views the journey they go on in the book. In all, I really enjoy this new series. The characters from the Roman camp are all phenomenal, too!

In conclusion, the book is a great ride as well as a phenomenal educational tool. That's from someone who loves reading about ancient civilizations, but I really do think everyone will enjoy them. I would recommend the book to anyone. You can pick up a copy at your local bookshop. (I'm advocating for buying local due to how much of an impact the internet and e-books have had on bookshops lately. Even if it's a chain, let's keep them open!) Happy reading!

Let me know what you think after then, okay? :)

'Til next time!

Saturday, October 22, 2011

Love Songs About Love Songs: How Meta!

So recently I've been thinking about songs about songs. I guess you could call them meta-songs. It's a new word. Namely, I've been thinking about the following songs.

"Love Song" by Sara Bareilles

"Love You Like A Love Song" by Selena Gomez

"All You Get From Love Is A Love Song" by the Carpenters

I think they're all quite catchy. Aren't meta-songs so fun?

'Til next time!

Friday, October 21, 2011

Rent-A-Film Friday: Snow Flower

We're looking ahead today! Why?  Snow Flower and the Secret Fan is coming out on DVD on November 1st! I never got to see this movie, but I did read the book. Therefore, it's still on my "to-do" list. That's why I'm so excited, as you could probably tell.

I haven't heard the best reviews from it, but I'm going to make that decision for myself in the coming weeks. Two weeks exactly. So there you go!

Now you'll know what I'll be watching in two weeks. Maybe I'll tell you what I watched tonight in two weeks... maybe.

'Til next time!

Thursday, October 20, 2011

One of My Favorite Books

Do you remember the first "chapter book" you ever read? For reference, a "chapter book" is a book with chapters, typically written for ages under 10. I think. Whatever. It's a BIG deal for kids to read their first chapter book. Well, the following book was not my first one, but I would put it down as a book under this classification. What's that book I'm talking about? By the incredibly talented Andrew Clements, The Report Card is definitely one of my many favorites.

It stars Nora as the child genius, swiftly disguising herself to be a "normal" kid. In this clever ruse, she struggles to maintain her secret as her elementary school, which believes she may need further academic assistance, tries to understand the inner-Nora and help her become the straight-A student that she could be. Will she keep her secret hidden? Will it be exposed to the other students? Only The Report Card can tell.

Seriously, this is one of my favorite books of all time. I think I would parallel it to John Green's Paper Towns, now that I think about it. (Except for kids of course.) It's witty, hilarious, intellectual, and altogether a phenomenal book. If anyone is wondering, Andrew Clements is the one who wrote Frindle, one of his more popular books. I can't say that I've read that one, but I imagine this one is better. (Either way, I'm a big fan of his. I can just see myself standing in a line of four foot tall kids getting my book signed. Or forcing my kid to do it for me... The lengths we book readers go.)

Anyway, I really like it. Although this isn't a proper review and I really need to learn to write one in the real format, I think this will suffice in bringing this book on the radar. If you haven't read it, I would ask you to at least consider it. :)

'Til next time!

Tuesday, October 18, 2011

It's All About the Money

If I had a thousand dollars to boot, I would buy...

#1 $100 worth of DVDs/Movies. I could live with that.

Don't worry. This is a pawn shop. Not my house.

#2 A TV for my room. It's not for me! It's for my brother!

#3 The first two seasons of Parenthood. 
#4 A good jacket. Preferably north face, but I'm open to suggestions. 

#5 A bunch of books from Barnes and Noble. And then a shelf for those books.

Okay, clearly I don't need these things. But look at how little I bought with a thousand dollars! This is why I don't like to spend money. It goes away TOO. FAST!

Anyway, the holiday season is coming up. I can feel it in the 39 degree air outside. May this be the first draft of my Christmas list.

What would you guys buy? Lemme know in the comments!

'Til next time!

Monday, October 17, 2011


One song that has been stuck in my head for the past decade is "Changes" by David Bowie.

This may be because of its unique wording and seeming "skipping" of a track in the "ch-ch-changes" lyrics, and I'm all up for that. The whole idea is quite endearing. But I think the philosophy behind it is what gets me everytime I listen to it.

The song may be interpreted as a story told by Bowie of an old age. He was (and is?) a perpetual chameleon, always changing with time. While this narratorial interpretation may be valid, I think it's about something less superficial. I can see it as the never-ending bias of one's generation. Oft times, an "older" generation scorns the decisions and values of the "newer." Not only is this a phenomenon worth commenting on, but it's a hot-button topic that will be addressed in the coming year. (Presidential election year, that is.) So exactly what is our (the "next") generation? Who are we? What will we do? How will we be defined?

Maybe that's the reason I consider myself old-fashioned, because of fear of what our generation will be defined as in years to come.

A sidenote: I was introduced to this song by the movie Confessions of a Teenage Drama Queen, which stars Lindsey Lohan. The song features in a modernization of George Bernard Shaw's Pygmalion called Eliza Rocks! It's a grand idea, if you ask me. Plus, I can empathize. (Duh. My Fair Lady.) It starts at 1:56 in the video below.

'Til next time!

Sunday, October 16, 2011

Meet the Mockstrich

The Hunger But Mainly Death Games:
From authors of Nightlight comes The Hunger But Mainly Death Games, the only parody brave enough to suggest that The Hunger Games was way more about death than food. Or at least this is what Bratniss Everclean discovers, when she shortsightedly volunteers for a teenage death tournament. But she soon realizes there are fates worse than death…like having to kiss her fellow competitor and lifelong stalker, Pita Malarkey.
The Hunger But Mainly Death Games will make you laugh so hard that you die. The authors assume no liability for any reading-based deaths. Read at your own risk.
Coming November 15, 2011.

This is too funny. Who doesn't love some good clean fun? Plus, being made fun of means you've arrived, right? Anyway, I burst out laughing when I read "Meet the Mockstrich."

Visit the site here.
'Til next time!

Saturday, October 15, 2011

100th Post Giveaway!

Now Closed!

*You can go to "Giveaway" tab to enter now!
Okay, so I wanted to do something nice for those who are following me as well as invite some more people to share in the revelry that is "The Habermann Press." So on this, the week leading to my 100th post, I decided that I would do a giveaway! And here it is! Thank you so much for coming and celebrating this moment with me!
So here are the five prizes (all separate) that I'm giving away this coming week! You can sign up between October 15th-22nd, (I'll randomly open up links as the week goes on, so keep a look out!) and the winners will be announced when I contact each one via email to notify them. So make sure to sign up for something if you want it because I know that everyone likes free stuff, right? :) Well, here we go!
*These are available for U.S. residents or those with U.S. mailing addresses. I'm not able to mail internationally. I am not responsible for lost mail.

Prize #1: [Softcover copy of Julie and Julia by Julie Powell]
Convenient for bloggers everywhere, the story of Julia and Julie traces the autobiographical of the one year journey blog of Julie Powell, as she cooks her way through Julia Childs's Mastering the Art of French Cooking. I found this book to be phenomenal and inspirational to the blogger in me. See my review here.

Prize #2: [Hardcover copy of Tale of Two Cities by Charles Dickens]
Tale of Two Cities is the book that has sold the most copies in the entire world, beating out Harry Potter, Twilight, and even Lord of the Rings. I've never read it myself, but I have two copies and it is a classic story. Therefore, here one is: up for grabs! It's also the Coralie Bickford-Smith edition!

Prize #3: [Hardcover copy of The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner by Stephenie Meyer]
This Twilight Series novella of Eclipse, The Short Second Life of Bree Tanner was something that I purchased about a year ago. I read it, because I had to complete the "Twilight circle," and found it quite interesting. But I want to pass it onto one of you lucky pupils! So here is your chance!

Prize #4: [An 8-pack of greeting cards from Ice Box Cards by Dik LaPine]
At the very beginning of my blogging adventure, I blogged about this amazing card line and cartoon artist that I personally know and enjoy. A link to the post can be found HERE. Well, when I ordered up my own set of cards, I was lucky enough to receive bonus! I want to spread the word about this great company as well as let you know and enjoy his art. So here's your chance to win a pack of cards that highlights Minnesota perfectly in my mind. I just had to share these wonderful creations with you. A link to the card website for buying purposes (because I know you can't just sit around waiting!) is found HERE as well as a link to the facebook page for you to "like."

Prize #5: [$10 gift card to Barnes and Noble Booksellers]
One of the things we love the most is choices. We love to have the ability and luxury to decide. Well, here I am providing you with this opportunity! Enter for this prize and you may win an electronic gift card to Barnes and Noble, which you can spend online or at a store near you! I know I'd love to keep it, but this is for you guys!

Remember that entry closes at 11:59 p.m. Central Time on October 22nd, 2011!
'Til next time!

Friday, October 14, 2011

Rent-A-Film Friday [3]

It's the in-theatre release date of the new Footloose movie! What a better way than to celebrate by watching the Kevin Bacon version, right? Fortunately, I don't have to rent it because I own it. It's great, although the stage show version far surpasses it, in my opinion. "If you have the means, I would highly suggest you pick one up."

As to skip a big long explanation of the movie, I'll stick with this:
"Yada-yada. Town outlaws dancing. Ren wants to dance. They change the law. Somebody's eyes are watching."

All right!

'Til next time!

The Most Ingenious Sale I've Seen Yet

I've seen thousands of sales. Red banners fluttering on the exterior of a building, big cardboard signs decorating the store, scratch-off opportunities at check-out: they could all be considered an example. However, I think I've found the best idea for one yet.
"They could pop a balloon and get their savings!"
I'm sure the intern of the store said this exact thing when he (or she) conceived this ingenious idea. What's more fun than popping a balloon? Nothing. What's more annoying than hearing a balloon pop? Nothing. Okay, so maybe there are some flaws, but for the eager consumer like myself, hearing one balloon pop and then seeing a fluttering piece of paper that says I saved up to 80% off sounds like a good deal. "I just bought this $80 sweatshirt for sixteen BUCKS!" I can see it now. Jumping up and down, slow motion, smiling with the Chariots of Fire theme in the background. Ah! Sales.

And really. What is better than a sale?  Excluding that you're buying something that you typically wouldn't buy and probably don't need or want, it's a great bargain. And who isn't up for a bargain? And when you see that shiny new thing that you never knew you wanted before, it's like Christmas. Everything else melts away and that one material possession becomes your whole world. It's pure exhilaration and joy!

So why not add a balloon to the mix? My mom works in retail, so I'm gonna just go ahead and suggest it to her. She's probably gonna throw a dart at it, (get it? balloons? Haha!) but I think it's a great idea!

'Til next time!

Thursday, October 13, 2011

Who Knew?!

As I ready myself and everything needed in the very complex and completely insane world of blogospheric giveaways, I have a fairly short post for you today. (Well, we'll see because I tend to be very long-winded... or long-typed? You get the point.)

One song that is inspirational to me is "What Are We Made Of" by the operatic, almost-like-fantasy Sissel and Queen member Brian May. It's amazing and quite simply one of the most moving, operatic-rock hybrid pieces in history, which is saying a lot. But it's "epic." And I don't say that about a lot of things. (But it truly is.)

Originally, I believe it's from the soundtrack of the movie Adventures of Pinocchio, starring Jonathan Taylor Thomas of Home Improvement. Do you remember him? Anyway, my family owns the movie, and there's a scene where Pinocchio is "hired" to be in a opera with a puppet cast, a concept I rather enjoy. They're all marionette dolls besides Pinocchio because, well, he's "got no strings to hold him down." This song is featured in the play.

So what do you guys think about it? Is it good or is it good?! I adore it with every electric guitar riff and high note sounded. I hope you enjoyed it as well!

'Til next time!

Wednesday, October 12, 2011

Happy Birthday Gumby!

Okay, so it isn't really Gumby's birthday. It's actually his creator's birthday! So happy 90th birthday Art Clokey! As the creator of the lovable and heartwarming claymation character, he deserves a big thanks, so this post is dedicated to him.

Plus, it strikes a personal cord with me because I watched this show as a child. I even had a gumby bendy doll. It was great fun. My brother had Pokey, his horse. Oh, I love those things. I'm sure I could still dig it out, too. Do you guys remember Gumby? Let me know in the comments!

'Til next time!

Tuesday, October 11, 2011

Save the Cheerleader, Save the World

It's not much a secret that I'm a TV addict. A clear example is my current list of shows I watch and/or were looking forward to at the beginning of the fall season, which you can find here. Anyway, once upon a time, I was addicted to the show Heroes.

I won't deny it. I wouldn't miss it for the world. Considering it was on Monday nights, however, I really didn't have anything else going. To recap the series in its entirety (*SPOILERS, SPOILERS, SPOILERS!) it went a little something like this.

Cheerleader discovers she's indistructable. Politician finds out he can fly. Peter Petrelli is a chameleon. Masi Oka time travels. Mom has split personality. Scary guy kills people to get their powers. Oh and that one guy painted the future. Hence, "Save the cheerleader, save the world." Peter Petrelli is all like, "Oh! We gotta save that hot blonde girl!"
Terri Schuester from Glee turns out to be the Cheerleader's mom. She eventually dies because she can control fire. The politician (aka Peter's brother) turns out to be the cheerleader's mom, which means Peter Petrelli can't be like, "Oh! We gotta save that hot blonde girl!" anymore. The cheerleader was the actress in Remember The Titans. Can you say famous?
They save the cheerleader.

The mom's kid can control technology. The mom sleeps with the politician because she doesn't have a job. Masi Oka falls in love with a diner girl who is actually Jayma Mays who is actually Charlie in the show who is actually Emma in Glee. She dies because she has a power and Syler (aka the bad guy) wants her power. Masi Oka tries to save her by going back in time, but his powers are all whacked and he goes back to feudal times in China. He's stuck there for some time and meets this one guy that is indestructible like the cheerleader. He was a legend that Masi was quite fond of as a child. He lives forever and turns up later in the series in modern day. Scary!

When he finally goes back, Masi overshoots and sees the future and sees Peter Petrelli blow up Manhattan. Or was that in the painting? Oh yeah. Cause he inherited those powers from... I don't know.

It's all really complicated, but I really did love this show. I have the first two seasons. There's kind of a lot of death, but it's refreshing because it's not one of those EVERYONE-LIVES-HAPPILY-EVER-AFTER kind of things like Superman or Spiderman. It's good. And the summary above doesn't even start to scratch the surface.

Did any of you guys watch it?

'Til next time!

Monday, October 10, 2011

The Importance of Posture

One of the most iconic scenes in the movie The Prince and Me, starring Julia Stiles, who I adore in every way possible (The fact that I accidently wrote "Childs" instead of "Stiles" is irrelevant.), is when she meets her stylist, Margueritte. Well, it's not really iconic, but I remember it.
I can just see it now. The stylist motions for Julia/Whatever-her-character's-name-is to (Paige! Her name is Paige!) spin and scolds her for her poor American posture. Here's an excerpt from the scene for all those who don't know this scene from... Wait. What's the movie equivalent of Adam in movies? --- Lord of the Rings.

Paige: It's very nice to meet you.
M: Turn.
*She turns.
M: Long torso. Good figure. Terrible American posture.
*She straightens her shoulders.
M: I don't work with hunchbacks.

The phenomenon of posture has captured my attention for some time now. One reason for this is because I'm 6'6" tall, and my mother nagged me about standing up straight from the get-go. "Otherwise, you'll have a hunchback!" Six-year-old me didn't stand a chance. I didn't want to end up like Quozi-Moto! And so I stood up straight. I'm sure some psychologist would cite this as a turning point in my life, but I beg to differ. "Hey blog friends!"

Okay, my problems aside, we need to change this, fellow Americans. No longer shall we hunch over computers like monkeys trying to perform for a banana! No longer shall we walk and look like we're always mad at something! No longer shall we try to gain eye contact with people who are shorter than us! We are Americans! We stand tall!

I'll get off my soapbox now.

'Til next time!

Saturday, October 8, 2011

book review: paper towns by john green

Paper Towns by John Green
Publisher: Dutton Books

"Quentin Jacobsen has spent a lifetime loving the magnificently adveturous Margo Roth Spiegelman from afar. So when she cracks open a window and climbs into his life - dressed like a ninja and summoning him for an ingenious campaign of revenge - he follows. After their all-nighter ends, and a new day breaks, Q arrives at school to discover that Margo, always an enigma, has now become a mystery. But Q soon learns that there are clues - and they're for him. Urged down a disconnected path, the closer he gets, the less Q sees the girl he thought he knew...."

After just recently learning about this book and hearing quite a buzz around it, I had this endless longing to see what it was about. The premise on the back looked like a riot, and I'm always up for those kind of books, so I searched everywhere for it. I asked around, went to the local library, Barnes and Noble, everywhere I could think of. I finally broke down and just bought it online, which meant waiting a week or so, but it was worth it.

When I finally received it, I found that what started out as a hilarious read that had me belly-laughing turned into philosophical thinking. And to tell the truth, I was entirely surprised at the amount of information and solid intellect I gained from this book, not to mention that John Green is a phenomenal author. I loved it back and forth. Why?

1.) The characters. Everybody from Radar to Margo to Lacey to Ben to, of course, Quentin was so lively. Their infectious stories left me refusing to close the book each time I had to do this or that. Who needs sleep, anyway? And this book is not about the general description, stock characters that Green could easily have lapsed into. They are real, deep, and, again, philosophical. It's a story for the ages. Really.

2.) The plot. I already mentioned that this had me belly-laughing and thinking deeply, but I never said how touched I was. Words elude me as to how it affected me, but the whole book is fantastic in every aspect. To think I hadn't heard of it until about a month ago is a shame, but I'm just glad that I could take it in now. And the idea and integration of paper towns in the story is fantastic. Green is obviously amazing. No doubt.

3.) Diction. I'm always one for words, and although I can't adequately utilize them in any of my own writings, I'm addicted to word choice and how each unique word and its phrasing highlights a story. Green has infinite choices. And not only that. He uses them in a way that develops a character and helps the reader to further understand a situation through another's eyes. It really is a gift, and I have to read more of Green's work after this.

So those are just three points that I pulled out of thin air for Paper Towns. I know it's a recurring theme to urge you guys to read a book, but I really mean it. If you haven't yet, you are missing out on both a phenomenal story and a life lesson. Did I mention I loved the cover too. I. LOVE. IT. SO. MUCH.

'Til next time!

Friday, October 7, 2011

Rent-A-Film Friday [2]

The movie of the week is Ferris Bueller's Day Off. Yup, we're going classic on this one! Why? It was recently the silver anniversary of its release, and that means it just came out on Blu-ray. It's called the "Bueller... Bueller... Edition." Will I be watching it on blu-ray, you ask? No. I don't own any blu-rays or a blu-ray player, for that matter. I'm sticking to good ol' VHS. Because I DO have a VHS player and a VHS of the movie. :) 'Cause that's who I am.

So go enjoy this John Hughes classic!

"Cameron, dear friend, you thought we wouldn't have any fun. Shame on you."

'Til next time!

Thursday, October 6, 2011

Those Summer Nights (My Lisa See Summer)

So, one of my favorite authors that I recently discovered this summer and loved was Lisa See. Among many other things, she wrote Snowflower and the Secret Fan, Shanghai Girls, and Dreams of Joy. But just let me tell you, I fell in love with her writing. Thus, this post is somewhat of a review of the four books I read of hers this summer, Shanghai Girls, Dreams of Joy, Snowflower and the Secret Fan, and Peony in Love. 

The first novel I read from Lisa See was Shanghai Girls. I instantly fell in love with the story, and I have to say that the characters are so well-developed and strong. I just love everything about the book.  Here's a snippet of the synopsis, as found on See's website.

"In 1937, Shanghai is the Paris of Asia, full of great wealth and glamour, home to millionaires and beggars, gangsters and gamblers, patriots and revolutionaries, artists and warlords. Twenty-one-year-old Pearl Chin and her younger sister May are having the time of their lives, thanks to the financial security and material comforts provided by their father’s prosperous rickshaw business. Though both wave off authority and traditions, they couldn’t be more different. Pearl is a Dragon sign, strong and stubborn, while May is a true Sheep, adorable and placid. Both are beautiful, modern, and living the carefree life ... until the day their father tells them that he has gambled away their wealth, and that in order to repay his debts he must sell the girls as wives to suitors who have traveled from Los Angeles to find Chinese brides.
"As Japanese bombs fall on their beloved city, Pearl and May set out on the journey of a lifetime, one that will take them through the villages of south China, in and out of the clutch of brutal soldiers, and across the Pacific to the foreign shores of America."

Okay, it sounded amazing when I started, but it just got better. See has this way of letting the characters speak for themselves, and you could almost pick out voices, tones, inflections in each one's voice. The plot's revealing of 1937's French Concession as well as America through the eyes of a Chinese immigrant was also so intriguing. It also has some interesting and totally throwing plot lines that make for an exciting ride. The story is narrated by Pearl (the older sister), which I thought I might add if I'm telling about its sequel (That's right! It's book 1 of 2). I can't say enough about what's inside the book. As for the cover, I love it, especially because it shows an example of what Z.G.'s work would be like, I think. It just made it come to life, and it's so beautifully done. I would definitely prompt you to pick up this book. And the cliff-hanger ending was almost too much for me... just thought I'd let you know...

The sequel to Shanghai Girls is Dreams of Joy. I don't want to give too much away if you're going to read the first book, which I beg you to do. Therefore, I can't let you read a synopsis. But I will tell you a little about it.

It definitely held my expectations from the first book, which were high. It was full of mystery, adventure, suffering, and hope. And dreams of course. And Joy, who's the daughter and neice of Pearl and May. Haha! :) I liked how it was titled. But it's all about Joy venturing back to the People's Republic of China after an encounter involving Communist ties in her college. This led to struggle in the family because it was when the Chinese were being investigated and communism was as well. It was full of history, which See does such a wonderful job at as well. I can't go much farther than to say that I really enjoyed the story line, which was full of good surprises. As far as the cover goes, I love the blue. It compliments Shanghai Girls really well too.

In the end, you should really read both of them. They're both pieces of literature that shan't be missed. See does a wonderful job.

Snow Flower and the Secret Fan was one of the favorites this summer. After hearing all about the upcoming movie and the buzz around the current novel, I knew that I had to keep up my current Lisa See reading because I loved it so much. This one naturally fell in line. Here's a snippet from Lisa See's website:

"This absorbing novel – with a storyline unlike anything Lisa See has written before – takes place in 19th century China when girls had their feet bound, then spent the rest of their lives in seclusion with only a single window from which to see.  Illiterate and isolated, they were not expected to think, be creative, or have emotions. But in one remote county, women developed their own secret code, nu shu – "women's writing" – the only gender-based written language to have been found in the world.  Some girls were paired as "old-sames" in emotional matches that lasted throughout their lives.  They painted letters on fans, embroidered messages on handkerchiefs, and composed stories, thereby reaching out of their windows to share their hopes, dreams, and accomplishments.
An old woman tells of her relationship with her "old-same," their arranged marriages, and the joys and tragedies of motherhood—until a terrible misunderstanding written on their secret fan threatens to tear them apart."

This was so incredibly moving, and I could see everything that happened unfold before my eyes. It revolves around a girl named Lily and her lao tong (old-sames), Snow Flower. It's a big deal because Lily is of a lower class than Lily, but Lily's bound feet are perfect, and this lao-tong match will help Lily to be wed to a rich groom in years to come. This match leads to a great wealth of intriguing plotlines, and again, See comes out with the greatest novel ever! I just loved every bit of it, and my copy of it had fringed exteriors, which made it look like ancient paper. I loved it. I couldn't stop reading until I was done, and that's the simple truth. Everyone should read this book. It's that simple. I don't think I adequately described it  here. But it's a best seller! 'Nuff said!

Now Peony in Love was a far different read than I had ever indulged in before, but I really did like it. Read the snippet from Lisa See's website for this one too:

"For young Peony, betrothed to a suitor she has never met, the lyrics from The Peony Pavilion mirror her own longings. In the garden of the Chen Family Villa, amidst the scents of ginger, green tea, and jasmine, a small theatrical troupe is performing choice scenes from this epic opera, a live spectacle few girls, even women, have ever seen. Like the heroine in the drama, Peony too is cloistered and from a wealthy family, trapped like a good-luck cricket in a bamboo-and-lacquer cage. Though raised to be obedient, Peony has dreams of her own. 
"Peony's mother is against the production: “Unmarried girls should not be seen in public.” But Peony's father prevails, assuring his wife that proprieties will be maintained. Women will watch the opera from behind a screen to hide them from view. Yet through its cracks, Peony catches sight of an elegant, handsome man with hair as black as a cave -- and is immediately overcome with too many emotions.
"So begins Peony's unforgettable journey of love and destiny, desire and sorrow -- as Lisa See's haunting new novel takes readers back to 17th century China, after the Manchus seize power and the Ming dynasty is crushed. Steeped in traditions and ritual, this story brings to life another time and place -- even the intricate realm of the afterworld, with its protocols, pathways, and stages of existence . . . a vividly imagined place where one’s soul is divided into three, ancestors are worshiped, misdeeds are punished, and hungry ghosts wander the earth.
"Based on a true story, Peony in Love uses the richness and magic of the Chinese afterlife to transcend death and explore the many manifestations of love.  Ultimately, it’s about universal themes: the bonds of female friendship, the power of words, the desire all women have to be heard, and finally those emotions that are so strong that they transcend time, place, and perhaps even death."

I can't quite put into words what I thought of this, but it touched upon some things in Chinese history that could not be done in other books. One example is the way they treat the dead or the belief in ghosts. It was all very interesting. I found the dynamics of this book to be really well done, and even though it was something new for me, I really enjoyed it in every way possible. On a side note, I love all of the covers of See's books. They're so elegant, aren't they?

So you pretty much have to read at least one of these books. I highly recommend them, and would be overjoyed to hear your opinion. The one thing I took away from reading these all consecutively was a love for China and its traditions. It's really full of culture and beauty and delicacy, and it shows in See's writing, which I love. So if you're the kind of person who likes historical fiction (or even if you're not), you should read these books. They're phenomenal!

'Til next time!

Wednesday, October 5, 2011

My First Giveaway!

Now Closed!

I originally planned for my first giveaway to celebrate literacy month (September), but I guess like everything else, I'll be a little late. What's the upside of this? We can celebrate the 1st blogoversary of our good friend That Hapa Chick! Yay! "Happy blogoversary to you! Happy blogoversary to you!" It's such an exciting event, and it's celebrated with a weeklong giveaway on her part! I am fortunate enough to be sponsoring one of those days (today), which will be a preview for my 100th post giveaway (to be occuring October 15th-22nd). So put your hands together as we celebrate...

Here we go! The two prizes up for grabs (which will be given away as separate prizes) are as follows.

#1 The Maze Runner by James Dashner (Maze Runner #1) (Hard Cover)

Imagine waking up one day in total darkness, unsure of where you are and unable to remember anything about yourself except your first name. You're in a bizarre place devoid of adults called the Glade. The Glade is an enclosed structure with a jail, a graveyard, a slaughterhouse, living quarters, and gardens. And no way out. Outside the Glade is the Maze, and every day some of the kids -- the Runners -- venture into the labyrinth, trying to map the ever-changing pattern of walls in an attempt to find an exit from this hellish place. So far, no one has figured it out. And not all of the Runners return from their daily exertions, victims of the maniacal Grievers, part animal, part mechanical killing machines.

Thomas is the newest arrival to the Glade in this Truman-meets-Lord of the Flies tale. A motley crew of half a dozen kids is all he has to guide him in this strange world. As soon as he arrives, unusual things begin to happen, and the others grow suspicious of him. Though the Maze seems somehow familiar to Thomas, he's unable to make sense of the place, despite his extraordinary abilities as a Runner. What is this place, and does Thomas hold the key to finding a way out?

In The Maze Runner, Dashner has crafted a creative and engaging novel that's both mysterious and thought provoking.

#2 Confessions of a Shopaholic by Sophie Kinsella (Soft Cover)


Becky Bloomwood has what most twenty-five-year-olds only dream of: a flat in London's trendiest neighborhood, a troupe of glamorous socialite friends, and a closet brimming with the season's must-haves. The only trouble is, she can't actually afford it --- not any of it. Her job writing at Successful Saving magazine not only bores her to tears, it doesn't pay much at all. Still, how can she resist that perfect pair of shoes? Or the divine silk blouse in the window of that ultra-trendy boutique? But lately Becky's been chased by dismal letters from Visa and the Endwich Bank --- letters with large red sums she can't bear to read --- and they're getting ever harder to ignore. She tries cutting back; she even tries making more money. But none of her efforts succeeds. Her only consolation is to buy herself something ... just a little something ...

Finally, a story arises that Becky actually cares about, and her front-page article catalyzes a chain of events that will transform her life --- and the lives of those around her --- forever.

And all you have to do is fill out the FORM! The winner will be posted ASAP. Cheers!

The winners will be drawn October 16th, so send in your entry before then. :) And remember to check back October 15th-22nd for a plethora of more prizes from my 100th post giveaway!

'Til next time!

Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Book Group Discussion: Books Series.

I think we all can say that we have a soft spot in our hearts for book series. After all, Harry Potter, The Hunger Games, Percy Jackson and the Olympians, Twilight, and so many other books have been enormous phenomenons in our generation. But are these sorts of reads holding us back from more mind-provoking titles? It's hard to say, but here are my thoughts on it and my inspiration for this post...

Today, October 4th, is the release of Son of Neptune, the second book of an extended series of the Percy Jackson and the Olympians series. Thinking about all of this and my excitement for it, I realized exactly what I'm sure a lot of people realize:  I'm 18 and reading a book written for 8-12 year-olds. It gave me quite a shock for sure, especially because I was in the age range when the first book came out. Back then, it was fully encouraged that we read as much as we could, and Percy Jackson was right up our alley. Were these teachers expecting that we would be reading the same level books six years later? That's what caught me off guard.

So I've been thinking a lot about book series and the implications that they have. Obviously, they're good books. That's why they're so popular and have a permanent place on library shelves around the world. And obviously the stories that are so good and need to published in more than one book should. Who wants to carry around a thousand-page book, though? I wouldn't want to miss the rest of a story, and I'm sure none of us would if we really liked the first one! But am I short-selling myself? Are we all short-selling ourselves?

Another example is Harry Potter, which almost defines a generation. Given, I have never read these, and I haven't even seen the movies. However, they have been a significant part of the previous two decades. That's right. The initial publishing was in 1997, and the last book was published in 2007. The defined age range for these books are 9-11. Again, the people who the books were written for were between the ages of 19 and 21 when the last book of the series was published.

From 18 to 25, we're expected to read the classics, build a strong base of literature under our belts to apply to life. We're suppose to educate ourselves with those books that have lived for two hundred plus years and have changed so many lives in order to better our lives for the future. In replacing books like Jane Eyre or Wuthering Heights or Count of Monte Cristo with Harry Potter and Percy Jackson, are we hindering our opportunity to learn?

Just to be clear, the above titles are just examples, and this is not a personal attack or anything. I enjoy these books just as much as anybody and just want to know if anyone else feels the same way. So does anyone have thoughts on this matter? Should there be a time limit to when book series of a certain age range be published? 3 or 4 years tops?

I would thoroughly enjoy your comments, and I feel that we could all profit from this discussion.

'Til next time!

Monday, October 3, 2011

Just Du-Et!

If I'm to tell the whole truth and nothing but the truth so help me grandma, I have to come clean and say I really don't like country music. (In that country music pertains to the get down-and-dirty George Strait-style music.) It's just not my thing. I do like, however, the pop-country-rock hybrid of it. You know, the Martina McBride, Rascal Flatts, Shania Twain, Faith-Hill-insults-Carrie-Underwood-for-not-being-"country"-enough, which I'm sure was just a tabloid farce, type of music. That's the kind of country I like. That being said, it is one of my favorite things when country artists collaborate with artists from other genres, especially in a duet.

"Islands in the Stream" by Dolly Parton and Kenny Rogers is probably one of the most classic examples of this phenomenon. Not only are they the best duo of all time, but they played upon this fame that was so apparent and were prolific in their duet recordings, for which I send out many thank-yous.

"Because of You" by Reba McEntire and Kelly Clarkson is one of my favorites in the modern era. They both are such talents, a perfect blend of classic and new fame (which could be compared to the difference between old and new money in Fitzgerald's The Great Gatsby).  They are honestly and without a doubt the best pairing I've seen in the past decade. Plus, the music video for this song is to die for. The 20's, couture, it's all good things rolled in one.

"Don't You Wanna Stay" by Jason Aldean and Kelly Clarkson is another one that I really enjoy. It's a sweeping love story, an accessible momentous occasion that could only be told by Clarkson's voice. It's dinner. What can I say? I love the big, dramatic, riff-ty songs.

"Easy" by Rascal Flatts and Natasha Bedingfield is another one that fits into one of those sweeping songs category. And to say that both Rascal Flatts and Natasha Bedingfield have such phenomenal and noticeable voices would be a huge understatement. It's so unique that when they come together, they make this wonderful collision that could create a car wreck if listened to on the radio. Just sayin'.

"Remind Me" by Brad Paisley and Carrie Underwood is one of my cousin's favorite songs, and I have to say that I quite enjoy it too. Given, it is on the fringe of strictly country, but (hey!) I really do enjoy it. Two amazing artists.

On a side note, if someone wants to get me a present, I would very much enjoy a copy of Reba McEntire's Duets CD, which features duets between her and artists like Kelly Clarkson (the song above is one), Justin Timberlake, and a whole lot of great people. Here's a picture so you don't get the wrong one! :) Haha!

'Til next time!

Saturday, October 1, 2011

Cinna For A Day

In one of my classes last year, I had the extreme pleasure of reading the Hunger Games yet again. (I think that was the fifth time, if we're going to count. I like it better each time I read it, too!) And after we completed the novel, we were given the task to create a project integrating writing, creativity, and reading comprehension. We even had a nifty sheet of options. I jumped to #12 --- Other ideas? See teacher.

I wanted so badly to create a "bible," of sorts, to the clothing Katniss wears throughout the first book of Suzanne Collins' series. I pulled a few strings, got the approval, and went on my way! :)

But I wanted to do more than just report what she wore and show what I thought it looked like. I wanted it to be real, to make sense in the real-world context. So that's exactly what I did. Layering the intent of each costume in the story context, the almost-magic properties of the fabrics, and the imagery in each outfit, I compiled a binder of Katniss's wardrobe, selecting fabrics that could withstand... synthetic flame, for instance. Or a soft candle glow. Or anything so that they could come to life.

Here's a few pictures of the designs:

This costume, one of the most iconic of Katniss', is lined with yellow silk and features an outer layer of a golden yellow satin, to create a background for the multi-faced, iridescent oblong beads of red, yellow, white, and blue.

This one took second place in design research effort. Collins says that it " the illusion of [Katniss] wearing candlelight" (Collins 354). To make this design come to life, the lining of the dress is made of a fabric that is dyed with powder manifested from the deep sea, which is from an Australian company called Energlo (which is extremely cool!). In such, the dress would gently glow as the stage lights are turned off for the review of the games.

This one was my favorite to design, especially because they wear it for a good time in the book. It had to be PERFECT! I really liked how it turned out.

Okay, now this one (the arena entrance costume) was the hardest, especially with the synthetic flames that won't burn the wearer. One lighter fluid that makes the flames cool enough to not burn the skin is any type of naphtha lighter fluid. However, there's a delicate balance with fabrics in this. The fabric dipped in the fluid has to be non-synthetic or they'll melt upon ignition. Therefore, the strips that make up this flaming cape (and wrapped tightly around a metal ring for the headpiece) is silk. A regular match, paired with the dipped strips of silk, will create this "synthetic" flame. The suits are made of natural spandex fibers.
*Just a note: I haven't tried to see if this works for real. These facts are assumed from research and have not been tested. Just so we're clear.

So that was my HG project. It was very extensive, and I enjoyed it thoroughly. Since, I have been thinking about completing the whole series in a similar style. For now, I'm glad I have book 1 costumes down on paper! :)

'Til next time!

Banana Stickers

A little known fact about myself is that I used to collect banana stickers. No. I'm serious. I'm pretty sure if I looked for it, I could still find a circle magnet with about 100 of these little pals on it.

As far as advertising goes, I would have to say Chiquita did pretty well on this tactic. I mean, everyone looks at the banana stickers, and if they offer a crazy suggestion, people will do it. Especially if it's on a banana.

So here is me applauding the efforts of Chiquita. *Start slow clapping.* You did a wonderful job.

'Til next time!

My New Fall Line

I call this little ditty the "Autumn Waltz."

It's that time of year
When the world falls in love
With the autumn leaves,
And we wear
Socks and sandals!
May your feet be comfy and warm!

In the spirit of the changing weather (above the Tropic of Cancer at least), I am now announcing my new fall line! That's right! Sandal socks!

Have all the comfort of those summer days with all the warmth needed in an autumn haze! Complete with swollen ankle.

All the rage in the Arctic Circle.

Buy yours today! Only $5,000,967,524.23 per month for 24 months! Limited time offer.

*Disclaimer: This is not an actual product.

'Til next time!
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