12.31.2009

Plans for the New Year


'Twas the night before New Years, and all through the town,
All the people were counting. That is, counting down.
The clocks were synchronized and ticking in time,
to pass the last moments of 2009...

That was the beginning of a poem I wrote last week, a parody of the "Night Before Christmas" verse. It's pretty appropriate right around now, don't you think?

Last year to this day, I wrote a blog post about my plans for 2009. I made few resolutions, and I kept them all. Here's what I said:
  • I hoped that Leslie and Kyle would become a big hit someday. Back then we only had about 7 episodes. Now we have 11 episodes, and me and my team is looking into making a 12th one. I already wrote a first draft for the next show! Sometime in January it's gonna turn into YouTube material!
  • I hoped that my artistic skills and talents would improve, and they did! I said nothing about improving my ability to post up my work though. In the New Year, I strive to remember to post more stuff on my Art Blog, so you all can see how good I'm getting!
  • I hoped to have more adventures and new experiences, and I certainly did! Check it out! I took an Improv class, did the SATs, started watercolor painting, got my driver's license, went up to Boston twice (first with just Bettina, then with the whole family), and joined Toastmasters, all in one year! Let's hope I have more stories to tell in 2010!
  • There were two other "resolutions" that don't count, one where I vowed not to fall asleep in the middle of the day January 1st 2009, and the other one where I promised to be a better person. Both of them were too easy.
My plans for the new year of the new decade are big, because I love to dream big, and someday I'm going to make it big! However, the journey of a 1,000 miles begins with 1 step, which means I should focus on setting manageable goals for myself so I don't get overwhelmed.
  • One of my plans is to change this blog. I'd like to learn how to put a picture in the background. I've been keeping the same layout for the whole year! This blog needs sprucing up! Also I plan on writing more than just 97 posts like I did this year, not counting the Art Blog posts. Perhaps I can get close to 150 in 2010! Plus Art Blog posts!
  • Another one is to keep working on my many talents and skills: drawing, painting, creating puppet web-shows, singing, acting, and public speaking. The more I practice, the better I get.
  • I'm also going to look for more job opportunities. It really is time. I'm 18 and I'm still living with my parents. The least I can do is help out where I can.
  • Travel! Oh, how I want to travel! Cross-country! Israel! Europe! Is it in the cards? Oh please please please please please!
  • Would it be too much to ask for a little romantic interest on the side? I suppose I have to wait and meet loads of people first. I resolve to be more sociable and outgoing this year.
  • One last thing, I'm looking to become a more independent self-supporting adult-type person. This resolution sort of overlaps the last 3 in a way (job, travel, and romance), but it's mainly about making my own decisions, learning how to do laundry, and spending less time goofing off doing nothing (a loophole in this clause is if I'm goofing off with someone else, because that's called "bonding").
That's it. Just 6 resolutions this year. I am so thankful for the power to change what I think needs changing, and I'm going to use that power for good! Happy New Year Everybody!

12.28.2009

Happy "Long Time No Blog"!

Letmesee letmesee letmesee, I'm trying to figure out a way to explain what's been happening for me this month, but it's so hard when I keep putting off writing to do other things. Darn you, procrastination! You are my weakness, and you are not my friend! I'm kicking you out and replacing you with my old buddy responsibility. He never lets me down!

That is one of my resolutions for the new year in 2010: To cease the activity of saying I'll do something later when it's actually fully in my power to do it right that moment. To take action rather than do nothing. I'm betting I'm in good company with this resolution, eh? ^_- So to all those other procrastinators out there, remember that there will always be a "later", but there will never be another moment quite like "now".

Anyway, here is a random, but true and eclectic list of what I've been up to recently:
  • Helped my mom re-tile and redecorate both of the bathrooms in my house along with my sister Bettina. I had a great time working, and it's a lot easier than it sounds to spread adhesive, lay on tiles, wait for a day or so, and then grout the whole thing and let that dry before giving it a final wash.
  • Celebrated Chanukah (Hannukah? Hanuka? Hanover? Chanukaka? So strange trying to spell this holiday), which started on the night of Friday the 11th, and ended on Friday the 18th. On the last night, Bettina and I made the traditional potato latkes (pancakes) and our mom finally got a break after all these years of frying them herself. They tasted delicious,especially with homemade applesauce! ^_^
  • Taught my friend Martina a few chords on the guitar and then she taught me and my sister a few excellent massage techniques, which we practiced on my mom. An excellent trade-off, no? We had a fun time having Martina and her boyfriend Scott over. They're both really cool people, and I remember they brought this rich and yummy chocolate pudding dish in honor of Adam's birthday. It was delicious, but I felt so drowsy after eating just a slice of the heavy dessert.
  • Skipped Tuesday the 22nd's Toastmaster's meeting, seeing as it was cancelled due to the Holiday season. Darn it all, and that was when Bettina was scheduled to present herIcebreaker speech. Now she gets a whole 2 weeks of extra practice before the next gathering on Jan. 5th 2010! My sister gets a last-minute postponement and I didn't? No fair! Not that I'm complaining though, I gave my speech everything I got, and it was a good one, as evidenced in the video in last post.
  • Created a homemade version of the board game Othello after playing it at a Christmas party at our friend Ramona's house (where there was food and friends and the kiddies watched "Night at the Museum 2"), and haven't stopped playing it since! I've played everyone in my family, and taught it to many other people. It's a really fun game where you have to use your brain, kinda like chess, but without all the confusing pieces with different moves for each.
  • Attended a Christmas vegan potluck very similar to the Thanksgiving potluck I described a couple posts ago, only it was at someones house instead of at a park. Totally had an awesome time eating and partying, and met a few friends that I recognized from last year. I brought my homemade Othello board and pieces, and it was a hit at the party! I beat a couple of people, but I think everyone had a good time.
  • Fed the hungry on Christmas Day-night. That is, the night of Dec. 25th. We volunteered with a group and got to meet new people and fill some stomachs. My mom made our special homemade no-dairy banana ice-cream and served it in these tiny sample cones, and everyone liked it a lot! Felt good doing a good deed and helping other people in need.
  • Recovered from a winter "bug" that gave me first a stuffy nose, then a runny nose, then a cough, then a froggy voice. It lasted about 3 and 1/2 days, but I'm all better now! Got me a couple fine cups of orange-grapefruit juice and a weekend of relaxation too. Accompanied by icky phlegm stuff of course, but still.
And that is all folks! I can't believe I've been a blogger for a whole year now! Ever since December 24th of '08, can you believe it? If you feel like reminiscing along with me, check out a few of those early posts of mine and maybe give me some comments.
It's Christmastime... tomorrow that is.
Oh What a Night...(Jan 1, 2009)
Hope everyone had wonderful holidays, and I wish everyone a Happy 2010! Peace out!

12.16.2009

My Icebreaker Speech/Adam's Birthday

Sorry for my prolonged absence from Blogger. Since Thanksgiving, I've been up to so much I hardly know how to catch up on everything. At least I don't have to document everything online for my own sake, I keep up writing in my physical notebooks often enough. But how am I going to keep the outside world informed of my goings-on if I don't make the time to type up a blog-post once in a while and get it over with? Oh well. Quite a lot has happened in the last couple weeks...
Before I get too far, I have to write about how my first ever speech for Toastmasters went! For every member of Toastmaster, there comes a time when he/she has to write his/her Icebreaker, a special speech that tells a little about the new speaker in a 4-6 minute time-frame (hence the term Icebreaker, it breaks the ice for the audience, made up of mostly experienced Toastmaster members who remember very well doing their first speeches and can really relate). By now me and my sister have been coming to Toastmasters for about a month, so we've gotten to know all of the members pretty well. All the same, I had a very hard time preparing for the whole "standing-in-front-of-a-small-crowd-yapping-about-myself-for-5-minutes" experience. Actually, from Sunday the 12th to Tuesday the 15th (the day I gave my speech) I was in total panic-mode, Annette Levy style.

Annette Levy style panic-mode is not fun at all, it involves a lot of crying, floor-pacing, conflicting emotions, doubt-filled thoughts, and bashing of the ego, and it also made me feel more hungry and tired than ever, not that I could take a break for one minute from preparing for my all-important speech, no way. I could hardly believe how scared I was of speaking about myself for a small audience (not more than 10 people including my sister), when in the past I've done all manner of things that require a lot of courage, such as traveling to Boston for 16 days with only my sis Bettina for company, and performing Improv (see older blog posts).

My family was super-supportive, especially during the weekend before my Icebreaker. They all kept reminding me what a special person I was, and gave me all sorts of great material to use in my speech. For me, it's challenging to talk about myself, because if I catch myself talking about all my wonderful talents and achievements, it makes me think that I'm being boastful, and who wants to listen to a braggart? My mom and my dad told me over and over again that it was perfectly okay to be proud of myself and toot my own horn, as long as I'm always honest and don't hurt anyone with my words. Easy enough.

Boy oh boy, when Tuesday morning rolled around, I was acting like I was going to get a tooth removed or something. I wrote some helpful notes about myself to give me memory boosts, just in case I should happen to get hit by instantaneous amnesia. @.@ (hypnotized face) Bettina drove the both of us to the meeting so I could do some uninterrupted deep-breathing. As we took the elevator up to the second floor of the A.I.U. building, all the fear I had inside me dissipated until only excitement was left, and I felt very calm and full of energy at the same time, but I wasn't quite as scared anymore. When I entered the room and saw all the friendly faces in the room, my nervousness all but disappeared.

If you like, you can watch my Icebreaker speech right here on this post. video
Just like that, it was all over, and I went back to my seat the proudest I'd ever been of myself. I could've done a much better speech, but I couldn't have put a bigger effort into what I made myself do. I could've very well delayed my Icebreaker indefinitely, but instead I faced my fear head-on and came out alive! After the meeting was over, Bettina and I drove to Publix and treated ourselves to some chocolate. I had an Almond Joy, and Bettina had these caramel-turtle thingies. Then we went right back home where congratulations were showered on me by my brother and my parents. ^.^ I was so happy. We ended the day right by going out to the movies to see "Pirate Radio", a nice comedy stuffed with rock-and-roll music and history plus poke-in-the-ribs fun at the expense of the pompous stuffed-shirt British government of the '60s.

In other news, my brother Adam had his 12th birthday on December 10th (^.^ I made him a lovely handmade birthday card). That was a Thursday, and we also celebrated his birthday on Sunday at our favorite weekly beach hangout with our friends and bought a couple bags of Hershey's Hugs and Kisses to share.
The Hugs are white chocolate with little chocolate swirls around them. On the 4th he ordered this Harry Potter wand from eBay and he's been checking the mail every day since, but nothing's come in yet! He's very anxious to get it. It has a light-up tip I think. On the 9th we got him the DVD of "Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince" the day it came out, so that was good. The special features are awesome!

I think that's enough out of me for now. See ya real soon, and I mean it this time. Goodnight everybody!

11.27.2009

Thanksgiving Day Leftovers

I'm sorry I haven't taken the time to blog in a long long time. I've been taking a bit of a break from writing posts in order to focus on some other things in my life, namely my "Web Application Development" studies, Toastmasters meetings (I've gone to 2 meetings since I joined on Nov. 10th), and searching for various life-opportunities. Anyway, I'd like to take the time right now to share what I did this year for Thanksgiving.

For the third year in a row, my family went to the Annual Thanksgiving Vegetarian Potluck Feast. It's a wonderful delicious party where everyone brings a dish that has no meat or cheese in it, and it's held in a big beautiful park with lots of trees and several picnic benches. My family brought to the potluck a delicious sweet salad (lettuce, apples, carrots, coconut, and raisins with orange juice poured all over), rice with curry (an excellent combination), and a special sweet-potato mash. There were about 50 other people that showed up, and dozens of vegetarian dishes to sample from. It was a smorgasbord! It was just like going to an all-you-can-eat-buffet, with the only expense being the fee for entering the park. There was plenty of food for everyone, and I was very thankful for the abundance that was all around me. And absolutely no turkeys were harmed!

After a couple plates of food, me and my sister noticed a couple young guys throwing a Frisbee around. They looked about in their early 20s, and pretty good-looking (as guys tend to be). My sister was brave enough to casually walk over and initiate a game of catch with them. I followed her even though my stomach was almost full up. Is it healthy to exercise right after eating? Well if it's wrong, I don't want to be right. We had a good time playing Frisbee, and it was just a casual game, throwing it to each other in no set order. My brother Adam joined in for a few tosses, then left when he got tired. When we all got tired of playing, we gave the guys their Frisbee back and that was that. No name exchanges or anything, just a fun, memorable moment that we created out of thin air.
Another fun moment was when a guy named George brought a Mastermind set and I played a few rounds with him, guessing his color codes in about 5 tries. George kept saying things like, "How did you get that?" and "You're so smart," and "I would never have been able to guess that," which made me feel so good and intelligent inside. I also played with a gal named Lisa, and another man named Matthew. I had such a blast!

My family had such a great time that we didn't leave that park until almost sunset! I didn't want that day to end, but as days tend to do, it ended anyway.
Fast forward to evening, back home where my whole family is watching "Analyze That" (the sequel to Billy Crystal and Robert DeNiro's great comedy "Analyze This") and laughing out loud all together. Best. Thanksgiving. Ever!

I am so thankful to have so many things to be thankful for: family, friends, health, wealth, home, happiness, knowledge, abundance, free time, technology, nature, growth, plants, animals, oceans, mountains, stars, galaxies...Okay, I think I may be going a bit overboard. Maybe I should just end this post with a Seasons Greetings and a Happy Harvest Holiday!

11.12.2009

"Toastmasters" Visits!

Has anyone ever heard of the public-speaking club called "Toastmasters"? Well if you haven't, find the nearest club in your area, and go visit it! It will be one of the most fascinating experiences you've ever had! At least I hope it will be as fascinating as my two visits were. I knew about Toastmasters long ago, because my dad went to one of their meetings once, but that was many years ago! I had to discover for myself just what "Toastmasters" was.

This last Monday at 7:30 p.m., I got my whole family to drive to this church near us where the club met (we don't go because we're Jewish), and we were welcomed as guests and sat in on the meeting. There seemed to be about 20 or so other people, all of whom wanted to further their public-speaking/effective communication skills. Each time someone spoke, everyone else would applaud. The atmosphere was very friendly and supportive, and of course supportive applause is contagious. I saw wonderful speakers that night, and it was amazing for me to realize that these people lived in the same city as me!

The next day, Tuesday at 12:30, there was another meeting at a completely different Toastmasters club, and I wanted to make an intelligent decision to see if the two Toastmasters clubs were different in any way and which would I rather choose to join. My dad dropped my sister Bettina and I off at our local A.I.U. (American Inter-Continental University) and we went alone this time to the meeting. It was a bit of a smaller group than the other club, but it was no less friendly, supportive, and exciting.

After weighing the benefits of joining either club, Bettina and I both decided to join the one at A.I.U. because of it's convenient time, even though it's also slightly further away than the church club. I'm very excited about this opportunity, because it's very inexpensive to get started, it's educational, and it's a great way to meet new people. If you'd like to learn more about Toastmasters, here's their website, www.toastmasters.org.

Happy Thursday!

10.31.2009

Hallowe'en (looks cooler with a comma)

Before I talk about my day today, I just wanted to treat you to some cool pics of all my costumes from Halloweens past. (Click on the icons to get a better look of me and my sister Bettina.)









(This is only a semi-complete series of costumes; when I was six I dressed as a Dalmatian puppy. Oh that was so many years ago...Where is that picture?)

You don't know how long it took me to put this entire thing together! So many links....

Anyway, tonight my family went to two parties, and Bettina and I dressed up as hippies, as you can see below.

The first party was in the late afternoon, and the second one was in the evening. Both parties had costume contests, and Adam entered as Edward Scissorhands both times. At the second party, Adam won the grand prize of a $25 Wal-mart gift card! Now he can go shop till he drops!

I'm happy to say I'm not as drowsy as I was yesterday after eating a bunch of candy, but I'll have to admit I've completely satisfied my chocolate cravings enough to last me the whole year, until next October.

Yakko: "And the moral of today's story is: Brush your teeth after every meal. This moral brought to you by the American Dental Association"

I just had to borrow this quote from one of those "Wheel of Morality" skits from "Animaniacs". It's just so appropriate.

10.30.2009

Pre-Halloween Highs (and then after candy, big low)

Whoa, I am so tired! My mom and my sibs went to this huge party at the park, and we all got dressed up!
I dressed up as a makeshift Indiana Jones,

Bettina went as Michael Jackson (come back from the dead),
and my brother Adam (I saved the best for last,) went as Edward Scissorhands!

His costume was so great! People everywhere, especially grown-ups, would point and say, "Look! It's Edward Scissorhands! Hi Edward!" and my brother would wave and be all smiley, and show off his cardboard blades with pride.

It was a HUGE party; thousands of people showed up, most all the kids were in costume, and some parents/grown-ups were too. I love mingling with characters of all sorts during Halloween to-dos. I saw many princesses and pirates, Buzz Lightyears and Transformers, pumpkins and cats, clowns, even a couple more Kings of Pop, (although I do think my sister had on a better Michael Jackson than the others had. I'm biased.) The most creative looking costumes I saw besides my own family was a girl dressed in huge polka-dots and with a Twister spinning board on her head (I call her "Twister Girl") and a successful punky looking girl with a cool Mohawk!

There was candy gathering, loud music, and tons people. What more could I ask for? Adam kept getting asked to pose for pictures by complete strangers! How cool is that? I am so very proud of him! We spent about 2 hours at that party, dancing and eating candy and having a great time. Then the tiredness sunk in.............

I just can't believe it. I only ate seven pieces of candy. SEVEN! And I feel soooooo daaaaaamn tiiiiiiiiired!!!!!!!! I need a lie-down! It was hot in my Indiana Jones jacket.

Another thing; every Friday since about early September, Adam, Bettina and I have been learning new songs and performing them so as to build up our own individual repertoires. Tonight, I was supposed to do the Michael Jackson song "Thriller", in honor of the scariest holiday of the year, but I just don't have the energy to do the song and dance. What a shame. Doesn't really matter though, we post-poned the whole thing until the night of November 1. Tonight my parents are at a Halloween party of their own, adults-only. Benny is going as Captain Hook, and Shira's dressed as Tinker Bell. They made a great looking dressed-up couple.

That's all I have to say for now. I'll report back tomorrow with some more candy/costume-related news. Goodnight, your moment is in.

10.28.2009

"Whisper of the Heart" Review

This anime film was produced by Studio Ghibli, as all my latest favorite anime films are, and written by the great Japanese storyteller Hayao Miyazaki. It's a wonderful romantic story, about a girl who at first reads fairy-tale stories all the time when she should be focusing on her junior-high school studies, but then becomes a writer after falling in love with a nice guy, even when he had to go to Italy to follow his dream a violin-maker. The story is a lot more involved than that, but that's all the details I'm going to share. You'll have to find out the rest by watching the brilliantly made movie. It's got breath-taking animation, and takes place in a Japanese city, which was pretty great for me since I've never been there. I sure would love to go to Japan someday, I really respect their cultural values, like bowing all the time in respect to elders, and being generally friendly. It's just not the same in America, I find. I love the characters and sets and the graceful movement that comes with slice-of-life anime films like this one. It makes it seem sooooo real!

"Fame" Review

I'm here to talk about the movie I watched in the theater tonight, the 2009 remake of the 1980 film "Fame", a story of various students of the New York High School of Performing Arts. The film follows them and their studies from auditions to graduation. First off, before I really get started reviewing this movie, let me just say that I've seen the original "Fame", so I have with what to compare this movie too. In my humble opinion, this millennium's version was much better by virtue of it's filming, music, choreography, acting, and pacing. The 1980 film was grittier and more intense, but that doesn't mean I didn't enjoy watching it. I just liked watching the remake better.

One of the things I really admired was the voice of Naturi Naughton, who played a girl named Denise in the film. At first she only plays classical piano (thanks apparently to an oppressive dad who doesn't want her doing anything else, and an oppressed mom who won't say otherwise), but then her friends (and the audience, and even her parents) discover what fine vocals she has. I loved it!

I enjoyed being a witness to such a spectacle, and it was a welcome relief after the previews of such films as "Couple's Retreat", "All About Steve", and "September Issue". If I'm going to be a satisfied pop-culture consumer, I only want the quality stuff, or content of sentimental/historical value.
Goodnight everybody! (Remember, Yakko backwards is Okkay! Dangit, I'll do anything to stick an Animaniac in my blogpost, won't I?)

10.20.2009

"Julie & Julia" Review

Oh. My. Gahd! Have you seen this movie? You have got to see this movie!

Meryl Streep as Julia Child was absolutely sensational! I mean, I had no idea who Julia Child actually was, but she's such a wonderful character!

Amy Adams as the author of the book of the same name, Julie Powell, was adorable. The main idea is that Julie cooks every single recipe in Julia Child's famous cookbook, all 524 of them, in only one year! And she blogs about it all!
Masterfully woven into this story is the life of Julia Child and how she started cooking as a hobby and began working on her cookbook, "Mastering the Art of French Cooking". Both women get wonderful love and support from their husbands, which is truly an admirable thing to show in a movie.

Now, I'll only give this complaint: I'm a vegetarian, so anytime somebody cooks, eats, or talks about how delicious meat is, I'm not cringing or giving loud sighs, but I am thinking to myself, "Alright, enough already, next part please." There's a part in the movie where Julie cooks 3 lobsters, and she's all nervous about killing them and all. It was so interesting and funny to see how other people actually go about preparing home-cooked lobster, because I know I would never go about doing it myself.

Well, besides all the food involved, the movie was above and beyond fantastic! (I so love using extremely positive adjectives.) I felt so very good after walking out of the theater with my family and talking about our favorite parts on the car-ride home. On an unrelated note, I had fun with my brother Adam, making him laugh by pretending my arms were his arms and doing goofy things with them. You ever played that sort of game? Done right, it's hilarious!

Goodnight, god bless. Check out my Art Blog for kicks.

10.13.2009

Notes from my Notebook

Hey, I got some great news! You know how I leave off writing my blog for a few days and I forget all the things that happened to me and my good times go to memory-limbo? Well not anymore! While he was here, my uncle Danny (who left on the 10th) gave me and Bettina new notebooks as gifts, and I've been writing in mine every single day since the 7th. Now I can write down all my cool updates!

Okay, books read since I last wrote:
  • "The Magicians Elephant" by Kate DiCamillo (Another instant classic from the author of "The Tale of Despereaux")
  • "The Guinea Pig Diaries: My Life as an Experiment" by A.J. Jacobs (I highly recommend this one, it's a short read about a guy who does all these real and life-changing experiments such as being honest all the time, outsourcing his day-to-day life to India, spending several hours disguised as a semi-famous movie star at the Oscars and having fame thrust upon him, etc. etc...)
  • "The Secret of the Secret" by Karen Kelly (I'm currently reading this book now.)
Movies, T.V. shows, and everything else watchable:

  • "Wild Wild West", a big-budget blockbuster starring Will Smith and Kevin Kline, but such a terrible flop that I spent the whole movie wishing that it was never made at all! I absolutely hated this movie; the characters were shallow and predictable (not to mention the villain was quite a freaky character), it's portrayal of women is downright shameful (not to mention the men dressing up as women), and gun fights and stupid puns abound! There are no redeeming values in this movie, except for the fact that if it weren't for stink-bombs such as these, I wouldn't be able to tell what the good films are. And I know! Luckily I'm still a big fan of Will Smith, but I wouldn't recommend you watching "Wild Wild West" if you value your time.
  • On YouTube, discovered a really great "Simpsons" episode with Michael Jackson as a guest voice! It's called "Stark Raving Dad", and it's funny!
  • "SNL" with host Drew Barrymore. I don't know about the shows new season for the past few weeks, but the Oct. 10th episode was an absolute winner for me!
  • "Sense and Sensibility", starring Emma Thompson, Kate Winslet, Hugh Grant, and Alan Rickman. A wonderful flick from 1995, and based on a Jane Austen novel of the same name. It's such a good story, I'll have to check out the book for a fair comparison.
  • A series of videos on YouTube of Michael Jackson showing old home-movies of his. So good! Here's the link to the first clip out of eleven: If you watch this from part 1 to 11, it's about 80 minutes in total, so it's as if you're watching a whole TV special without all the commercials! Watch it and see a whole different side of the King of Pop!
  • "Fame", the original movie from 1980, not the remake of 2009. It's a pretty good film; my mom recommended it, and we saw the movie with her. I liked it, there were some pretty intense parts, but I loved the drama, the music, and the dancing! I hope that the remake can compare in some way to the original, otherwise what's the point?
  • "30 Rock" Season 1. Love it as much as I did watching the 2nd season in Boston this summer.
Well, that's all for now! Catch you later!

10.09.2009

Short Post Again

Today I did very little; I finished a book called "The Magician's Elephant" by Kate DiCamillo, started "The Guinea Pig Diaries" by A.J. Jacobs, rehearsed Billy Joel's song "We Didn't Start the Fire" all afternoon, then performed it after Shabbat dinner for parents and uncle Danny. Still, it was a very fun day, and it makes me feel happy and very lucky to have such a charmed life. I have my health, and I have free time to spend reading books and singing for fun.

Still, there's a bit of bittersweet news to spoil the mood, because my uncle Danny's leaving for Israel tomorrow. (All together now... AAAAAAWWWWWWWWWWWW!) I had such fun with him, especially watercolor painting and watching the instructional DVDs. I very much appreciated the short time he spent with my family, and I'll remember it always.

10.08.2009

Art post

Even if I somehow manage to write a little something in my blog everyday like I did last night, I think I should still enter NaNoWriMo. I think it would be great fun for me to do with Bettina, writing stories super quick. Alright, now for my report on yesterday:

In the morning we went shopping at Best Buy to get me a brand new Wacom graphic tablet!
Ever since I've been watching behind-the-scenes featurettes on animated movies, I've wanted a graphic tablet just like the pros! I was very excited to try it out when we returned home, but after I installed the necessary driver and plugged the hardware in, I couldn't get the tablet to draw at first! I was disheartened, and quick to complain. My dad however, in his infinite patience, reminded me that this is my first time using a graphic tablet and I shouldn't expect to know everything about it right away. So after walking away for a breather, I came back and tried the tablet out again. Instead of just sweeping over the tablet with my fingers (it's a touch-tablet, no pen required), I tapped it twice, and after the second tap, I could draw a line! Even though I had success, I was humbled. Why do I always have to be a pro first time I try something? Is it because I'm insecure? Do I need to be the best and be ahead of everyone else? Because last time I checked, I was still only human. Perfectionism. It's my blessing, and my curse.

Later on in the afternoon I had a really good time with uncle Danny, because we went outside to paint watercolors, just the two of us! We tried painting the landscape of my neighbor's backyard, but it was too ambitious of a project for me, what with the water and clouds and trees. I just painted something from my imagination rather than what was right in front of me. To see my painting, here's a link to my art blog. Danny did a pretty good landscape himself. We both complimented each other's paintings, and both of us thought our own paintings were bad. It's nice to know a fellow painter who understands. Of course my uncle is a practicing child psychiatrist, so it only helps to boost his empathy levels.

Fast forward to evening when we all attended a special Weston Art showcase at the Hyatt hotel near our neighborhood. There were some wonderful paintings, collages, and booths advertising for art classes around the city. I noticed the watercolor paintings the most, but every piece of art was fabulous! There was also live music with Tony Orlando (who sang "Dance with Me", "Dancing in the Moonlight", and "Still the One"). After we got back home, Danny and I watched a DVD I took out from the library about watercolor painting. It was really good, and it was hosted by an artist named Frank Clarke.

That's it. Later on I'll write about today. Toodle-oo!

10.07.2009

Super-short Post!

Hi. Please forgive this short, short post; I promise I'll write a lot more tomorrow. Gee, I don't think I'm cut out for this, writing a full day post each and every day I'm trying to spend with uncle Danny. That's why I'm leaving Oct. 7 for tomorrow. Don't worry, he got me a new notebook that I'm writing in, so I've got all the private details for myself, and I'll pass on the gist of it to you come tomorrow afternoon. Thanks for your infinite (or wearing thin) patience.

10.06.2009

Awesome Day!

I haven't told you, but since about Sept. 24, Bettina and I have been keeping very busy learning about the computer languages known as PHP and MySQL. You may not have known it, but these 2 scripting languages just about run in all interactive websites. PHP is short for PHP Hypertext Processor. (Haha, the first word in the acronym is the acronym, just stay with me, 'kay?) MySQL is a language that's used for creating databases, and stuffing items into them, and taking them out again to be used later. We're learning it all from this book, titled "Visual QuickPro Guide: PHP and MySQL for Dynamic Web Sites" by Larry Ullman. Let me tell you, if someone decides to write a book about complex computer languages, be sure to have a sense of humor! That's what Larry Ullman has. So far we've finished 3 whole chapters of PHP basics. I am so proud of me and my sister, although really it's actually not our first time learning computer scripting; when learning Macromedia Flash 5 we got introduced to Actionscript and used it to create several interactive games. That was about 5 or 4 years ago, and we haven't made use of any computer language since, but now we're back on the horse, and PHP is quite similar in some ways to Flash Actionscript, as well as C++ and Javascript (don't know those two languages though). It's really a challenging, but satisfying endeavor to learn any new language, whether it's French, Chinese, or PHP. It expands your mind! Moving on...

This afternoon, after watching this video clip of Billy Joel's song "We Didn't Start the Fire" set to associating photos, Bettina and I decided to start trying to memorize the whole song piece by piece, just like we learned "Yakko's World", "Wakko's States and Capitols", and the "Presidents" song. We succeeded in learning the first 4 verses in the song, from Harry Truman to Santayana goodbye (if you don't know what I'm talking about, just Google the lyrics, you'll see).

Later in the evening, we went to the theater in Tamarac While Benny, Shira, and Danny saw "The Hangover", Adam, Bettina and I saw the movie "Ponyo".
"Ponyo" is a very sweet anime film that makes me think that it's the japanese version of the Little Mermaid story. It's about a 5-year-old boy named Sosuke (pronounced Sos-KAY) who finds a magical fish who he names Ponyo. During the course of the movie, Ponyo gradually turns into a human girl, and for Ponyo to stay a human forever, Sosuke needs to prove that he can love her no matter what form she's in. As usual in an anime film (especially one directed by Hayao Miyazaki), the animation is absolutely gorgeous! Smooth, realistic, colorful, capturing the mundane and turning it into beauty and grace, simple, yet incredibly intricate. These are just some of the many adjectives that may be used to describe the animation of Ponyo. It is an excellent example of a family film, and I'll bet, without a doubt, that if Pixar's "UP" doesn't win the Oscar for Best Animated Film, then "Ponyo" will.

10.05.2009

"Tin Men"/"Citizen Kane" reviews + Day with Danny

I have done it! It was a close one, I almost didn't write a blog post today, but here it is, read it and don't weep (hey, it's not a bad blog)! I give to you two fine reviews of movies I have seen today, rather than 2 weeks ago, and a brief description of the days other highlights so I can go to bed with the knowledge that I'll never forget when I watched them and that I passed on my recommendations to you, my readers (are you still out there? Or am I talking to myself? ECHO! echo...echo...echo).

"Tin Men" is an enjoyable comedy that pins Richard Dreyfuss and Danny DeVito against each other as rival aluminum-siding salesmen in the early '60s. That's right, nothing to do with the Land of OZ whatsoever, so sorry to all the Frank L. Baum fans out there, just a couple con-men practicing slick salesmanship. Sprinkled throughout with some catchy hit songs of the era, this flick was fun to watch, and I laughed a lot at Danny and Richards' antics, getting back at each other for some silly fender-bender accident.

This afternoon I have finally seen "Citizen Kane", and let me tell you, this movie isn't for the closed-minded. It's long, it's confusing at times, and it was made in 1941, an era that seems worlds apart from the modern-day flicks we see today. Still, I got a real kick out of finally seeing Orson Welles (who was the hero and inspiration for Maurice LaMarche, the voice of the Animaniacs lab mouse Brain), and I can safely say that I can now spot a "Citizen Kane" reference and understand which part it's from. My favorite part of the movie was this scene where Orson's character, Charles Foster Kane, completely destroys a room, until he comes upon the snow globe which he later drops in the beginning of the movie. (confused? o.O)

Now you might be thinking, what am I doing indulging myself in fictional people, places and events while my favorite uncle Danny is around and available to spend some time with? Well actually he and my parents were out most of the day scouting out some Florida real estate that he's looking to invest in, so he wasn't actually around, per se. However later this evening, after doing some night shopping at Target (got some hot sunny-glasses and sweet new tops using our birthday gift-cards), we did get to hang out with Danny while watching "This is Spinal Tap" and enjoying some homemade pumpkin-flavored ice-cream. ('Tis the season of autumn, god bless pumpkins!) That was some fun.

Goodnight everybody! (Nope, I never get tired of using that catchphrase. Never, never, never! Especially when it applies, it's past midnight now!)

10.03.2009

"Honey, I'm home! Oh wait... I'm not married."

This post's title came directly from a quote from Michelle Pfieffer in the movie "Batman Returns" which I just finished watching with my bro and sis. I've been feeling very guilty about not getting around to blogging in around a fortnight, but "Batman Returns" was just so cool I am finally moved to action. However the focus of this post is not entirely Batman related, just be patient and let me get this out of my system, and then I'll let you in on some major developments on the home-front.
"Batman Returns" is a sequel to Tim Burton's successful "Batman" flick (which features Michael Keaton in the title role and Jack Nicholson as the Joker), and it's all about the character development of such Batman villains as The Penguin (Danny DeVito), and Catwoman (Michelle Pfieffer =^.^= Meow!!). There's also this corrupt businessman Max Shreck (Christopher Walkin), who has plans to open a new power-plant in Gotham that will render the city powerless, and to get approval for building it, he needs permission from the mayor, so then in a Tim Burton twist, he attempts to help the Penguin run for mayor!
In any Tim Burton movie, I've come to expect the weird and wonderful as well as the creepy and crazy, and I wasn't disappointed with "Batman Returns". My only comments on the less-than-excellent aspects of the film is that Michael Keaton didn't get nearly enough screen-time for it to fully qualify as a Batman movie; his enemies got plenty of lines and backstory and almost all the Bat had to do was swoop in to save the day whenever the Circus gang attacked. Also, even though it's what I loved most about it, "Batman Returns" is full of nightmare-fuel (a wraparound term meaning creepy parts from the Penguin biting some guy's nose to a guy who actually has the guts and lacks the remorse for pushing someone out of a window to their death), and innuendos that made it past the radar, which might make it unsuitable to watch for children who are squeamish at the sight of blood and still haven't heard about the "birds and the bees".
Overall, I loved watching this movie and it only solidifies my respect for Tim Burton as a filmmaker. The acting was great, the story was great (although the ending could've gone better), the costumes and special effects were top-notch, and the score by Danny Elfman is, as always, incomparable. Check this out at your local library if you have a card, or watch it online, or just buy it on DVD, sheesh, only trying to save you some money!

ANYWAY......(a familiar phrase back from my old sock-puppet show days)
I've had so much cool stuff happen to me and I've been too lazy to write it all down that most of my memories I fear have gone to some sort of "happy-memory-limbo", so I'll just type up what's been going on recently. For one thing me and my family had a happy and mostly uneventful Yom Kippur (seeing as it's a Jewish holiday for atoning for the past year's moral backsliding and not for having a good time doing it), my mom Shira had a birthday yesterday, and my family had pancakes for breakfast, and me and Bettina made cards for her, and we got her an awesome earring making craft book from Borders (she was so totally surprised that we got her anything at all!). Also, my dad's brother, my uncle Danny from Israel came over to our house for a week-long visit, so we're playing hotel here and having a good time. I haven't seen Uncle Danny in 2 years, so it was really wonderful to see him again.

Finally, I would hate to forget to write about these other awesome films that I've happened upon and so I'll just give away the titles and when I watched them, as well as a 10-word review on each one:
"Casablanca" Sept. 22 2009 ~ "Here's looking at you kid" is the best quote ever!

"Transformers" Sept. 25 (or something) 2009 ~ Giant robots fighting, pseudo-science, very awkward teenage-parent relations.

"Pee-Wee's Big Adventure" Oct. 1 2009 ~ Pee-Wee's bike gets stolen, road trip with a Tim Burton flair.

Wow, that was a neat exercise there, reviewing a movie in only 10 words! Of course I could go on and on about what an American treasure "Casablanca" is, how interesting it was to finally see "Transformers" after hearing what a bad rap the sequel got, and getting introduced to the wit and child-like wonder of "Pee-Wee Herman", but I don't think I would do a good job going all out about movies no matter how much of a film-geek I am. I'll end this post by saying I intend to write at least one post every day that Uncle Danny stays at our house, and if I don't deliver, why then I'll...I'll...
I'll enter NaNoWriMo along with my sister and try to write a 50,000 word novel from the beginning to the end of the month of November. If I do write one post a day for seven days, then I am excused from this unusual method of making up for lost time. I swear, Girl-Scout Honor! (I was a girl scout for only a few months as a 10-year-old, and I never sold a box of cookies, just to dispel any assumptions.) Bye now!

9.18.2009

Into the Woods

This post is about the Stephen Sondheim musical play called "Into The Woods" which me and my brother and sister watched last night. At first, Adam didn't feel like seeing it, but when me and Bettina started laaaaughing, we had to talk him into sitting down with us to watch. "Into The Woods" is a modern fairy-tale blend with a comedic twist, merging together such childhood classics as Cinderella, Jack and the Beanstalk, Little Red Riding Hood, Rapunzel, and by a lesser degree, Snow White and Sleeping Beauty, plus introducing brand new characters: a baker and his wife who desperately wish for a child (notice that when someone thinks of "baker" in the fairy-tale sense, it's always a man, isn't it? Food for thought, huh? And not the baked kind).

It is a play in 2 acts. Act 1 is there to get you reacquainted with the characters you knew as a little boy or girl, and find out what actually happened in the stories, all the while listening to Stephen Sondheim's fast-paced lyrics set to wonderful music. The witch in the story (who comes from the Rapunzel part of the show) is played by Bernadette Peters, who has such a marvelous vocal range, I had no idea! When she does a witches cackle, she can reach those high, high notes like no one I've ever seen! Plus the character she got to play is so funny; who would think that a witch could have some real depth of character? (Unless of course you read books or watch musicals like "Wicked", to those of you who have, I say never mind.)

By the beginning of Act 2, Jack has killed the giant, Little Red Riding Hood survives being eaten by the wolf, the baker and his wife have a baby boy, both Cinderella and Rapunzel get their princes (there are 2 Prince Charmings in this story, and they're brothers! Who knew?), and the witch has changed from an ugly old crone to a young and youthful beauty, but her witchy powers are lost in the bargain. Everybody thinks that it's happily ever after for them, but to be continued... Actually the 2nd Act is a lot better as a surprise. I don't want to spoil it for you. Just know that it's got a lot more drama than in Act 1.

"Into The Woods" is a wonderful story with some lessons to learn from, and even if it's based on fairy tales, adults can appreciate the wry humor and intelligent lyrics of Stephen Sondheim. Check it out at your nearest library if it's got it, and you'll be happy you did, I promise.