Friday, August 27, 2010

Abstract Art and Its Impact on the Human Mind

"Green of Beauty" Painting by Chidi Okoye

Abstract art has been around for centuries, and hundreds of abstract artists have created masterpieces that people are able to study and appreciate daily, whether it be through collecting them or seeing them in museums and shows or even examining them in college/graduate classes. To me, abstract art is my favorite type of visual art because I feel like abstract art has no boundaries. Almost everyone sees something different in a piece of abstract work, because, well, it's just that. Abstract.

Different colors make us feel different emotions. To some of us, royal blue seems to give of a melancholy, rather sad and nostalgic, feeling. To others of us, the color has a complacent, calm and reserved effect. Likewise, different shapes and textures remind us of certain things, based on the short-term and long-term experiences that we have had in our lifetime.

So today's Question of the Day is...what do YOU see and feel when you look at this abstract painting, created by modern artist Chidi Okoye? What sort of experiences, memories, energy gets conjured up within you?
*Image taken from World Wide Web.


Monday, August 23, 2010

Camera Disaster + Picking Cotton Book Review

Question of the Day: What do YOU do to relieve stress when something goes wrong or you just have way too much on your plate?

It seems like the days leading up to and during your first year move into college is always bogged down with loads of events, work, and...well, unexpected unfortunate events. Unfortunately, one of those unfortunate events (in a series of unfortunate events, of course) for me was having my camera lose all of my pictures (including the ones for my last Summer China 2010 Scrapbook Post #3: Fashion) before I could upload them. Yep. What's even worse is that my camera has gone completely nuts and various buttons and knobs on the thing won't even work now. So I guess that's bye bye to China Scrapbook. :(

To make up for my lack of useful posts lately, I've decided to do a nice little book review on Picking Cotton, a non-fiction novel by Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton. We read this book for our Summer Reading Program at my college (which I currently now attend, YAY!) and participated in small group discussions today. Here is a summary as well as my thoughts and some of the points that my group touched base on today.

Summary: This book is fairly new, and is about a young woman who was sexually assaulted/raped at knifepoint by a young black man. She was able to escape and put the man named Ronald Cotton, whom she believed to have been the rapist, in jail after she identified him and they went through trial. Then, eleven years later, the woman realizes that Cotton is the wrong man and did not commit the crime that he'd served jail for for over a decade. This woman is Jennifer.

This is a memoir written not like a biography or autobio, but an actual story written from two points of view: Ronald's and Jennifer's. What I think really made the book a success was the way it was structured and written. Not only were the scenes written in easy-to-follow language, but they were also portrayed in a way that had a strong visual effect as well as emotional appeal on the human mind and heart. The book is divided into chapters, and the chapters are divided further into larger sections; the sections are alternated between Jennifer's and Ronald's different points of view. Throughout the book, Jennifer and Ronald are essentially going through the same trial but they each experience it in a different way.

Both of them were truly hurt and had lost several years of their lives. For eleven long and difficult years, Ronald had to endure prison life, all the while having to stay sane and remember, I'm innocent. Although Jennifer wasn't physically chained up, her heart, mind, and soul were prisoners nonetheless. She spent years trying to get over what had happened to her, yet she never could...not until she met Ronald eleven years later and he told her he'd forgiven her for the mistake she had made. But in the end, they ultimately teach each other the power of forgiveness.

I truly admire Jennifer and Ronald, each for different reasons. It's not easy having others not believe you when you tell the truth, and it's so easy to submit to all the wrongdoing that goes around you when you are in jail, especially when you're in there due to injustice. It amazed me how Ronald was able to get through eleven years of Hell--eleven years away from family and freedom--and have the will and strength to keep on believing in himself and forgive the mistakes that had given him so much pain. And many people say Jennifer didn't suffer as much because she wasn't in jail or anything, plus the police were on her side...but she did.

I don't want to give away too much, but I just have to say that such a complicated situation is actually very common in America...but not every victim has been able to truly tell his or her story the way Ronald and Jennifer have. The day we had the group discussions about Picking Cotton, we went to one of our many auditoriums and finally were able to hear Jennifer Thompson-Cannino and Ronald Cotton speak for themselves as they answered student questions about what it was like to go through the experience, why they did certain things according to the book, and much more. Afterwards, students were able to wait in the lobby to get their book signed by the two authors!! Luckily, I was the first one at the table to get my signatures.

It was really amazing being able to see them in person. You know, after you read a good storybook in which the characters truly seem like they're real, you wish the whole story and all the characters were true...but they usually aren't. Well, Picking Cotton is all facts and the characters are as real as you and me. And so it was really amazing to see those characters for who they were in real have those words you read and the characters you imagined in your head be put forth in front of you. The excitement and bubbliness and inspiration that bursts within you at that moment is incredibly AWESOME, and I feel so lucky to have experienced that.

I highly recommend this book and give it a 10/10. I don't think I've ever written a non-fiction novel that was as gripping and beautiful as this one. If you're interested in law or forensic science, definitely read this book. If you're simply just looking for a good read that will leave you thinking about it for days on end, even after you finish it, definitely read this book. You won't regret it.

Here are some links if you'd like to know more:


Monday, August 16, 2010

But Where Did Wendy Go???

Question of the Day: Are you or have you ever gotten addicted into any virtual reality games such as World of Warcraft, Runescape, or Sims?

*Readers wait patiently for the blogger who has been MIA (missing in action). Suddenly...*
I see her! No, no, that's not her...YES IT IS!!

*Wendy stumbles into blog post* OH! There she is!

Hey guys...I know it's been a while since I last posted. T_T No, I did not catch the flu or get tired of blogging. =P Once again, I'm currently out of town.

*Readers whisper about how amazingly frequent Wendy travels*

Yes, yes, I know it's amazing how frequent I travel. BUT I will be on the road today and tomorrow and will return home tomorrow night. :) And then I will return to my regular blogging and post the last part of my Summer China 2010 Scrapbook, FASHION.

So I suppose you can think of this as a mini hiatus? Thank you for your patience. :D

Until then...POOF!

*Wendy disappears, and readers gasp and a riot forms...AH! IT'S MAGIC! I THOUGHT THAT ONLY EXISTED IN HARRY POTTER!!!!!*


*Wendy stumbles, chuckling with triumph, in the back of the blog post with her Invisibility Cloak, but nobody notices*


Sunday, August 1, 2010

China 2010 Scrapbook: Food

Question of the Day: What's your favorite summer treat? (P.S. Mine is Breyer's Pure Fruit All-Natural Popsicles)

As promised, here is Scrapbook Post #2 from my trip to China, featuring FOOD!! Some of this will sound absolutely amazing to you (and believe it, it really was amazing), while a bit of the other foods will, well, not sound amazing. Either way, tasting the food in China every year is a new and different experience each and every time.

Lazy Susan Lunch, Shenyang: Here, we've got a variety of different "local foods." The brownish tofu-looking pieces on the left is liver. The plateful of meat closest to you is sheep meat. You can see the salty eggs quite clearly, though beside the eggs is what the hosts called blood soup. Don't ask.
Shenyang: This is a nice little dish with diced potatoes, very big green beans, and pieces of meat. Slightly spicy. On the sides of the dish lie homemade cornbread patties fresh out of the oven. Delish!

Shenyang: Up close and personal with a sheep meat soup. Lots of fancy herbs and leaves to flavor the poor goat. Potatoes and other various vegetables accompany the meat. (P.S. Different areas of China serve different "local foods" that are unique to each one area. That's why I put the location first and foremost after each photo.)

Beijing: Niu he is what this yummy dish is called. It's basically beef with flat noodles in a soy-based sauce with soybean. Sounds skeptical to some of you, probably, but it's VERY good! This dish is also very popular in other areas in China as well as in some Chinese restaurants in America. Like dumplings, niu he is pretty "putong," or common.

Shanghai: This is a classic Chinese treat. To the right are candied grapes and to the left are candied berries. I've had them only once before, and they're very tasty...but VERY sticky and sweet!!

Shanghai: Um, yes, these are live scorpions on a stick. Quite a delicacy. No, we don't eat them live (though I suppose some might). Here, they were alive and squirming (in agony, I am sure). But when requested, the chefs deep-fry them and serve. I have never had one, but I imagine it would be QUITE crunchy. xD

Beijing: We were in a very famous nationally-acclaimed restaurant where they have the best
"Beijing roast duck." The chef is slicing the duck [very professionally, I must add]. He put the skins all in one dish, and then the meat in another dish. We roll the pieces of meat and skin up in very thin pita bread-like dough. Yum!!
Shanghai: Yes, my friends, that is Chinese Haagen Dazs ice cream! It tasted just like the regular Haagen Dazs ice cream. Brownie with cherries on the side. There are cookies and cream, chocolate, and Belgium chocolate ice cream!! Two biscuit sticks, nuts and more chocolate as decorations. Can you say...mmmm?!?!

Shanghai: Yes, more HD ice cream hehe. Very intricately designed, as you can see. Raspberry, strawberry, and green tea ice cream layered in between two sugar cookies.
Shanghai: Umm I'm not quite sure how to describe these in English exactly. xD They're basically crouton balls with crabmeat stuffed inside. Very juicy, tender, and oh-so-delicious!
Shanghai: This is a ketchup-based fried fish and is SOOOO good. It's very famous and can be ordered at almost any fancy restaurant in China. Nuts, carrots, and peas are tossed in the "Red Sea."
Lazy Susan Lunch, Shanghai: By the way, if you don't know what a Lazy Susan is, it's this. ^^ Basically there's a large round glass where food is placed; the glass circle can be moved clockwise or counterclockwise so that the food comes to you just by the turn of a hand. The plate with only 2 pieces of food left is a lotus appetizer; to the left is some yummy pork in an oily-soy-like-sauce. To the pork's left is cool chicken in sesame sauce, also an appetizer. The drinks at the middle are: watermelon juice, corn juice, and tea. The green plant-leaf cones have sticky rice and meat inside of them (in Chinese, they're called "zhong zhi"). There are also cucumbers, dates, and other vegetables on the table.
KFC, Shanghai: Yep, we went to Kentucky Fried Chicken in China! Quite honestly, it wasn't very much like America's KFC at all. The chicken was WAY spicier than it should be, and it came with rice, veggies-that-don't-exist-in-America, and mushrooms in an Alfredo-like sauce. It didn't exactly taste bad, but it wasn't too far from a UFO either (Unidentifiable Food Object). Even so, it was an interesting experience. xD

Stay tuned for my last China 2010 Scrapbook post on Fashion!


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