Friday, May 22, 2015

we bought her a soda- diet pepsi to be exact

I want to quickly talk about what happened today. It was my last official day of junior year (finals next week, but still... ) and some friends and I had the most amazing experience. It gave me chills. 

We had finished school for the day, were saying goodbyes, and then Elizabeth, Ana and I decided to walk to Starbucks. We had some time to kill since I had an hour and a half until I needed to pick up my brother. It was a nice day, a nice walk- nothing spectacular. Elizabeth asked all about Jr. year and Ana contemplated if she would return next year (she's an exchange student from China). 

We rounded the corner, and were just across the street from Starbucks when we walked by a woman, sitting, holding a cardboard sign. About five feet later something in me screamed "GO BACK"- so I did. Elizabeth and Ana caught on to what I was doing and didn't miss a beat. 

Her Sign
Now, I'm very much of a people person. I have no issue starting conversations, but as we stood in front of this women I realized that I had no idea of what to say. I mumbled something about her sign and feeling like I needed to talk to her.

Elizabeth, on the other hand, has an unusual way with words and people. She walked right up to the woman and said "I feel like you need a hug". She was shocked, of course, but accepted the affection. 

The woman put down the sign and on the back was something so simple and heartbreaking: God please give me the strength and the trust that i need

We talked for a bit. She told us her story and how she has been running into trouble with her abusive ex-husband, and is going to court tomorrow. As the conversation progressed, it was clear that she's a Christian. She explained how Francis Chan (who's one of my favorite, as well) has been a light in her life, how his sermons gave her the strength to get out of the relationships.

The way she talked about God was so raw and open. She obviously isn't in the best part of her life, but she's managed to hold onto hope, even though she's felt bitter and angry. She knows that God's grace will cover her.

We offered to buy her lunch. She declined, but asked for a soda- diet pepsi to be exact. When we gave her the soda, she held up a pack of cigarettes. 

"I've got five left in here. It's the last five I'll ever smoke." Her voice was a voice of conviction and bravery and uncertainness and the brokenness. 

Before leaving, we prayed together. We went our separate ways, one to a support group and three to a cup of coffee. 

Sometimes it's important to talk to people. It's hard, I know, and sometimes it's just not the right time, but sometimes it is. Sometimes someone needs reassurance that there's a light at the end of the tunnel or something like that. 
Sometimes you just need a diet soda and a prayer. 

Friday, May 1, 2015

Filming (Notes from “How to Shoot Video that Doesn’t Suck”)

In history our third-quarter project gave us absolute freedom to do whatever we wanted. My friends and I (who have already made a movie together) decided to pull together and create a second masterpiece. In preparation, I skimmed the book  How to Shoot Video that Doesn't Suck and made notes for myself and our other camera lady. 

When the camera is placed in your hands, you are now the filmographer and the director. It is up to you to make sure that the scene you film is as good as it can possibly be. Here are some tips from my film book:

Think in shots
  • Is what you’re filming interesting? How can you make the scene more interesting?
  • What is the point of focus?
  • How can you convey the emotion/dynamic/action/plot of the shot better?

Avoid super long panoramic views
  • Mostly because we want to keep this video under 10 minutes (though it may have to be longer simply because we need to have 10 hours each, and since some of y’all aren’t writing/editing)
  • One or two might be nice to set a scene or whatever, and it wouldn’t kill us to film them, but a 10 second view of the landscape isn’t that interesting.

Keep shots under 10 seconds
  • unless it’s ABSOLUTELY NECESSARY, do not shoot the same shot for more than 10/15 seconds.
  • It becomes boring and the action of the scene is broken. I know that for us most of our shots will probably be a little long (that’s ok) but we don’t want to slow it down.

Close ups & zooming
  • Don’t stand 5 feet away from the person and then zoom in with the screen.
    • it makes the footage more unstable
    • it makes the footage loose quality
    • neither of those will get us an A
  • If we are doing a close face shot, actually stand close enough to make the shot without zooming. It may be a little uncomfortable and awkward, but we don't want to zoom too much. If we really need to, I can zoom later in editing.

Keep the light behind you
  • Unless we have a reason to have the light behind the character, it’s usually best to keep everything in the shot well-lit

Turn off ALL digital effects
  • Unless it’s something we can only do on the phone, then please let Amanda deal with it after in the editing process. It makes life simpler.

Stand still while filming

Remember the intent of the scene
  • Is the character happy/sad/angry/at war/waiting for news of the war/listening to the radio... the actor needs to do their part to convey the scene, it’s the filmers part to make sure that nothings lost between face and film
  • Know the story and the scene, it will make this part much easier

Plan a shot list
  • We’ll plan a few specific shots in the writing meeting, but the rest of the shots will be decided on-site.
  • So basically make sure you know what you’re filming

Make the star look great
  • If they obviously have no clue what is going on, stop the video, stop them, and save us a the embarrassment of turning in a bad movie
  • Make sure they actually look good. Sometimes cameras picu up weird lighting or whatever,  so make sure they’re not too washed out/shadowed.


Friday, April 24, 2015

Update: I'm still alive

Man, life has been crazy!!

Last week was CVII, and this Saturday is prom... college visits and cosplay progress and very little anime. 

((QUESTION: are y'all interested in seeing me post more of my art? I haven't been drawing as much, but I do kick out one or two detailed pieces a month))


So hopefully within the next month you'll see these posts:

-CVII days 1&2
-CVII days 3&4
-Shaak Ti progress: sash
-Shaak Ti progress: headdress
-Shaak Ti progress: other
-MGNK Review
-Silver Spoon Review
-End of Jr Year post 

Wow, I can't believe how close I am to the end of the year O.o

Once summer starts, I'll be posting the scheduled prompt posts on Mondays and my 2014 book summaries on Wednesdays. That leaves Fridays open for anything else :)

Thursday, March 26, 2015

Shaak Ti Cosplay: Planning

Hey everyone! Sorry for dropping off the face of the earth like that... I know I had scheduled posts, but it's still not the same xD I have a million posts to check out now that i'm actually on blogger again haha

Ok, so obviously I'm a huge Star Wars fan, and I'm going to CVII Anaheim this April!! I am so, so excited, because the Lakehousers have a big dinner planned and there's a whole bunch of awesome things to do and I finally get to meet/see my friends and it's going to be AMAZING!!

Of course I'm doing a costume- one that I've been planning on making since I first ventured into cosplay- Shaak Ti! Yep! Finally doing it! 

My main reference is the TCW version (right), but I'm also taking inspiration from the film version. It's a little difficult when a character has two different versions that are so similar! I personally like the colors of the TCW version better- it gives a little more variety. Also, the Lekku have more defined markings towards the top, and I like that better. 

Another reason why I'm doing the TCW version is because I have the character sheet. It's nice to have an official reference, and it makes design sooo much easier! I'm doing some details different because either it will be easier, or just to add personal flair, but for the most part it will look pretty similar.

Another thing about this costume: I'm only making about 4 parts of it (not including body paint)
-Lekku + headdress
-Sash Thing
-Jedi Robe (possibly)

If I have time I'll make arm guards and ditch the robe idea, because it can get really hot with all that body paint on xD

Material List:
-1/3 x 1 yard of tan vynal
-ruler and pencil
-crimson, yellow ochre, and burnt sienna acrlyc paint
-Scissors and an Exacto Knife

-Silver or Gold buckle 
-Brown or Black belt (I may make this out of vinyl)
-Belt Pouches/lightsaber area (I may make these out of vinyl, too)

Dress (skirt/top)
-Reddish-brown floor length skirt
-Brown or black scoop-neck shirt

I'll possibly be making this out of carving foam, but I'm not entirely sure yet. 

-Arm Guards? 
       -wire, dragon's breath opal, assorted beads, silver-painted craft foam
-Brown leggings and Boots
-lightsaber  (I might make this and just do the hilt_
-Jedi Cloak + Gold tri

I'll update this list with links to anything I buy, but here it is! The start of my Shaak Ti costume!!

Monday, March 23, 2015

10 Prompts #6: Dear Future Self...

Dear Future Self,

Don't re-read this until after you graduate high school/ are actually in college pls

the rest of my followers: carry on

I guess, since this is a public letter, I should write about what I hope to accomplish by the time I'm in my freshman year of college. (Also i hope you're doing well and that you enjoy life, wherever you're at :) )

Did you get into Stanford? Or are you going to Cal Poly? Were those still your top schools when you applied? 

Let's talk about clubs for a second- see what all you wanted to do.

For the art club, you're currently hoping to place in the Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards with your poem "Who is your God?" and the drawing "Moonshadow". I hope you won! (Or I hope that I win... I'm not to good with this time-capsule thing lol) (Update: "Who is your God" got an honorable mention!) Drama club's been on a bit of a hiatus, though, because of the play, which was soooo much fun!!

Did everything go smoothly with taking over the Drama club? I bet you, Muriel, and Caleb had a lot of fun running that in your senior year! Right now we're coming up with scripts for the show (it's the weekend that I was sick, after being told to write the "Paul McCartney Marriage" skit... I bet that one will be a hit!)

Sooooo dating... are you still free or did you actually get past the whole "yes i would like to date but no, it's not actually going to do anything beneficial for me right now" mindset?

Because it's still not totally beneficial for me right now...

Careers? Do you know what you want to do? Are you still set on being an aeronautical engineer, or did you decide to pursue something else... maybe animation or fashion or another type of engineering. 

I hope you made it to your black belt by now (currently a blue). Are you still involved in the martial arts? Is it still so important to you? OH! Have you taken up kendo yet? I hope you found a good dojo near your university!

Well, good luck in life, with whatever you're doing right now :)

Monday, March 16, 2015

10 Prompts #5: What Do You Wish For The Most?

basically communism
I think, that most people, would say that they wish for peace when it really comes down to it. Why? Because "peace" means so much more than "we stop fighting". 

Generally, when "peace" is the answer, we envision world governments working together-people working together- to make ourselves and this world better. We imagine that the cure to every and all sickness is found. We envision happy families and successful people and no more hunger or poverty or untimely death and unnecessary sickness. A world where oppression is a thing of the past and everyone is free to learn. Education morphs from a privilege to an undeniable right (which is something that it should already be).

In a world of peace gender or race or past or future or family is not something that you can be judged on. Instead, you are viewed at face value for who you are, not who others want you to be. In this place, we are still as diverse as can be, but there is little tension. Opposing ideas are met with rational thought instead of heated emotion, government is run in the best way for each individual country, weather that be through democracy or dictatorship. People are not ashamed of - or shamed for - who they are, but instead thrive in a world where acceptance of differences is key.

Unfortunately, what I have just described is usually called a "utopia", and as we know from post-modern literature, a utopia generally falls to pieces because of corrupt officials. We cannot have a utopia because toxic people exist, and will never fail to exist. A perfect world is not a world. It is a state of mind, and to many ignorant people refuse to learn and change their mind. That is why, no matter how hard we wish, we will never have a perfect, peaceful world.

So I guess I really hope that I get into Stanford and become very successful so that I can do my part in 7,000,000,000 parts to make this place better.

Monday, February 23, 2015

10 Prompts #4: 5 Things You Want To Know/Learn

I want to know and learn a lot of things.

I want to be able to speak fluently in Italian

I want to know how to sew on my sewing machine more proficiently

I want to learn how to SCUBA, and then do dive trips in the Caribbean

I want to learn how to make a corset properly

I want to learn and learn and learn and learn everything that i can possibly learn

Monday, February 16, 2015

Books of 2014 (Pt. 2)

Author: Euripides
Published: 431 BC
Genre: Tragedy
My Thoughts: Well, if Greek tragedy is your thing, go for it. I personally think that most plays should be seen, not read. 

Lord of the Flies
Author: William Golding
Published: September 17, 1954
Genre: Dystopia, Speculative Fiction, Allegory
My Thoughts: As a plane-full of boys find a way to survive on a deserted island, Golding explores the human condition, and the animalistic nature that people can revert to in a time of crisis. It was pretty interesting, and if you're into stories like Fahrenheit 451 or Animal Farm, you would probably enjoy this as well.

Cornelia and the Audacious Escapades of the Somerset Sisters
Author: Lesley M. M. Blume
Published: January 8, 2008
Genre: Adventure, Historical Fiction, Youth
My Thoughts: Ok, so this is a children's book (like, middle grades reading) but it has been my favorite book since I was 10 and it was the 4th time I've read it and omg memories. Eleven year old Cornelia becomes friends with her neighbor who spent her 20's traveling the world with her sisters. The various escapades they go on are hilarious and all the characters are surprisingly developed for a children's story.

Steampunk Fashion
Author: Spurgeon Vaughn Ratcliffe
Published: November 1, 2012
Genre: n/a
My Thoughts: I enjoyed this book, but I don't recommend it to anyone who's not familiar to Steampunk. It is mostly pictures of various steampunkers + a biography/write up on how they make their outfits. It's more of an inspirational showcase for those of us who make our own steampunk gear. 

Huckleberry Fin
Author: Mark Twain
Published: December 1884
Genre: Adventure, Satire, Humor
My Thoughts: Well, it was assigned for school, so as far as summer reading goes, it was pretty good. I enjoyed the majority of the book, and thought it was a fun follow up to Tom Sawyer. To be perfectly honest, the last two chapters were unnecessary. Twain obviously included them simply because he wanted to draw a connection to the previous novel, and it did nothing to further the plot- it left the book with a weak ending.

Monday, February 9, 2015

10 Prompts #3: Your Most Prized Memories

Now that we've gone through a few fun lists of generic "getting to know your blogger", we have a more interesting topic to cover: memories! I guess this blog really is a compilation of memories, but here are a few of my favorites.

Farmers Market: I love going to the farmers market, and I always walk away with great memories from there, but there are two occasions that really stand out to me. On was when a street performer (who was really talented!) caught my interest because he was playing some music that I liked. I went over and put a dollar in the guitar case, so he asked if I had any requests. I didn't, so I just said "what ever's your favorite to play". He played one of my favorite songs! It was really awesome! I ended up talking to his friend/wife/girlfriend, too, and she was really sweet! My next memory is when a lady and I got into a conversation about fashion (I was wearing my steampunk dress, and she had some fun clothes on, as well). 

The general concept of going to the market is something I value- every time I go I always have interesting conversations with interesting people, and it's fun to spend time with my grandparents :D

CVI: Then entire trip is one amazing memory! I had such a great time with the Lakehouse Girls, and I can't wait until the next time I see them! I remember when I finally met Grace and Autumn, the first two girls I saw in person. Mom and I were checking on a room, making sure it's where were supposed to be for the HU cupcake party, when we walked out and there was Ashley Eckstine. I was so star-struck that I walked into a sign xD I went  over and I was so shocked that I couldn't really talk, so mom asked if we could get a picture together. Ashley was surprised that we came all the way from Cali, so when mom told her I was there with the Lakehousers, Ashley said "Oh my goodness! Well, if you're with the Lakehousers, then I have to give you a hug!" It was really awesome! 

After that, I was a little shocked about what had just happened, but on the way down the escalator, I heard someone at the bottom say "Amanda? Is that you?" 

I don't recommend running down an escalator. It's kind of hard.

But off I went, running down the escalator, where I was greeted by Grace and Autumn. It was one of the best moments of my life!! Then they brought me over and introduced me to the other girls! 

My mom told me that as she watched us, it didn't seem like we were meeting for the first time, it was more like we were old friends meeting up for the first time in a few months :)

(I'm the one in the blue dress... even though you can't really tell by this pic lol)
Prom: At the end of 10th grade I was so done with my school. My main goal was to get out of there and finish up my high school career within one year at my local community college. Obviously, that didn't happen, but I did make it a goal to have the "high school experience", which included prom. So I talked to my best friend, Anna, and she was on-board. She invited her boyfriend (Anthony), I invited another one of my best friends (Jaymes), and we all went to prom together. 

My grandparents volunteered to make us dinner, and so we all ate at their house, took pictures (and took an obscene number of selfies on Anna's phone), then sang 70's/80's classics on the ride over (doing full harmony of Bohemian Rhapsody... even though Anna and I are the only ones with any formal voice training xD).

Europe Trip: Nothing in particular stands out- the entire month was an amazing experience that gave me a whole new view of the world. Venice was probably one of the most amazing places I've been- the whole city is literally built on water!! And I was talking to my Italian tutor, and the canals are put under the same titles as streets in Italian (road/street/boulevard and such). Meeting my family in Lucca/Ceva was really cool, and I can't wait to see them again- hopefully this summer :D  Switzerland was the most beautiful place I've ever been... the alps are beautiful and the water is beautiful and the towns are beautiful and the sky is beautiful and... everything about it was beautiful! 

Well, I'll stop the list there, but I have soooo many other awesome memories that I could share xD but i just posted the first that came to mind. Others would be Fall Kraken Con 2014, 8th grade graduation, "Into the Woods" (the first time I was in a real production), horseback riding, making lava cakes to eat while watching Legend of Korra... as you can see, I barely scratched the surface.

So what are some of your favorite memories? I'd love to hear them!

Tuesday, February 3, 2015

I am 16 going on 17...

Ok, so the most amazing thing happened and i am so excited and happy and omg

i worked really hard for the entire first semester to get our art club to get involved with the Scholastic Arts and Writing Awards and so after months of waiting the list of winners was sent out and I GOT AN HONORABLE MENTION FOR MY POEM

after putting in so much work with the school and submitting for the past 3 years to finally win an award is the most amazing feeling! The Scholastic awards has always been a big deal for me, and so to get an honorable mention was the most fantastic way to conclude my 16th year :D

So now that i'm 17... i don't really know. I don't really know what to think of this- 16 went by so fast! And it's weird, having the most hyped-up teenage year end lol

I did some pretty cool things, though, being 16:

-My party was pretty rad
-My first major stage performance
-Kraken Con (twice :D )
-ATLA/LOK ended 
-Watched Stargate, which is now my favorite sci-fi show!
-Got my license/car
-Started writing my book
-The Dickens Fair

so, yeah, 16 was a pretty good year :)

Monday, January 26, 2015

The Books of 2014 (Pt. 1)

So, alternating with my 10 Prompts, I will be posting the books I read in 2014~

[fun fact: usually there would be a picture of
all of those books right here
but i'm sick so theres not]
The Fault in our Stars
Author: John Green
Published: January 10, 2012
Genre: YA, Romance, Realistic Fiction
My Thoughts: Before I say anything about the actual story itself, I want it to be clear that John Green is a wonderful writer. Actually, the only reason I managed to finish the book was because of his diction. The story itself was not as compelling as many people made it out to be, and the plot seemed to really meander and lose focus in the middle (though I see his reasons for doing so). I don't really recommend it. That's all I have to say about this one.

Cry, the Beloved Country
Author: Alan Paton
Published: 1948
Genre: Historical Fiction, Social Criticism
My Thoughts: I really liked this book. It was a stirring story of a fathers search for his son in the racial tension/ institutionalized racism of South Africa. Unfortunately, it was extremely hard to follow. Why? Because Alan Paton thought he was above using decent punctuation, such as quotation marks, commas, paragraph brakes, not using paragraph breaks, periods, and grammar. As you can imagine, it was kind of a nightmare to read, due to it's formatting. I recommend it to anyone who has patience and wants to read a historical novel with major social commentary, but be sure to be wide awake while reading!

The Lost World
Author: Sir Arthur Conan Doyle
Published: 1912
Genre: Adventure, Fantasy, Science Fiction (fun fact: in the time it was written it was called a Scientific Romance- the old term for Science Fiction)
My Thoughts: I really loved this story. It is absolutely one of my favorites! The characters are pretty well defined, the narrater is likable, and the plot is quite fantastic. I actually prefer it over the Sherlock Holmes stories... I totally recommend this to anyone who likes dinosaurs/victorian era/adventure stuff :) And the ending was surprisingly satisfying. 

Author: William Shakespeare
Published: First performance- 1611
Genre: Tragedy
My Thoughts: A power hungry man kills all in the way of "his" throne... only to go insane and tragically loose everything. As far as Shakespeare tragedies go, this one just didn't really live up to my expectations. That may be because Hamlet is my favorite, but some parts of Macbeth just fell flat to me. If you enjoy Shakespeare and tragedy (a perfect mixture for insane characters), then yes, I do recommend this book/play (the play is always better)

Author: Rainbow Rowell
Published: September 10, 2013
Genre: Romance, YA
My Thoughts: The title says it all- a popular fanfic author finds her life turned upside down as she goes to college, finds a guy, and learns to not depend on her twin sister. The characterization is great, and all of the characters feel very real. It's a cute story, but I wouldn't really recommend it. Let's be real- I would rather read the sci-fi/fantasy story than the story about a girl who writes about the story any day ;)

Monday, January 19, 2015

10 Prompts #2: 15 Things You Love To Do

  1. Bake! 
  2. Cosplay!
  3. Read!
  4. Draw!
  5. Write!
  6. Watch movies/tv!
  7. Make AMV's/Fan viedos!
  8. Meet new people!
  9. Hang out with friends!
  10. Watch people walk down the street, especially on Farmers Market days :D
  11. Karate!!
  12. School!
  13. Sing!
  14. Shoot!
  15. And lots and lots of other things :)
Well, that was really quick. I really enjoy a whole huge range of stuff, but I figured the first 15 that popped into my head were the ones that I should share. 

Monday, January 5, 2015

10 Prompts #1: 10 Qualities About Yourself

Going into the second semester of Junior year, I can tell that I won't have a whole lot of time to blog, and I personally like to keep things on a regular(ish) schedule. So, here's the deal: I'm going to complete these 10 prompts and schedule them for every other Monday. Yep! 

So, qualities about myself... Not entirely sure what that means? So, yeah, here's 25 things about myself~

- I love quotes! I like to start stories and reports with quotes, it kind of helps me see the general theme of what I'm trying to write.

- I like to make little random editey things:

- Regina Spektor is my favorite singer

- I naturally have blonde hair, but currently it's copper/red

- My eyes are usually blue, but they can also look green

- My speech pattern is one of a true Californian: dude, rad, yo, hella, drag, heavy, like, and like literally the mixture of surfer-dude and valley girl and spanish in my area has influenced my speech a lot

- Totally extroverted. I can do alright on my own, but I need to be where the people are.

- ENTJ: Extraverted, Intuitive, Thinking, Judging. I don't have much patience for error, but have a good sense of how to organize things and make them work.

- I am 5'5"

- I cannot stand insufficiency/laziness, nor people who act as if it is a way of life. There is a difference between taking a break/relaxing or intentional idiocy. Get with the program.

- And an extra one: I'm not sure if these are exactly the types of "qualities" that the prompt was looking for. Oh, well, now you know some good, bad, and unimportant things about me xD