Tuesday, March 30, 2010

Character Profile #1

Question of the Day: What do you personally get out of taking your time to blog? To put simpler, why do you blog?

One of the most critical aspects of of creating a novel or even just a short story is characterization, because the characters are what makes the story come alive. Their facial features, their actions, the way they view the world and the other characters they interact with, their thoughts and feelings, and their reactions to events all play major parts in determining who exactly the characters are.

Sadly, I do not fully developed my characters well enough at all. I get so excited with my SNI (Sexy New Idea, as Frankie Diane calls it) that I delve right into it and start writing my heart out. However, for all of the novels that I have begun in the past, there comes a time when I hit a total roadblock, a dead end if you will, and run out of things for my characters to say and do on a day-by-day basis. And I believe that I must attribute this to my lack of complete characterization. How can I write the audacious, romantic, inspiring story of my main character...if I myself do not fully know who exactly the main character is? How can I speak for my character when I have yet to know him or her through and through?

I always hear writers say things like, "My character and I had a fight today about what he's gonna say and do..." and "How can I prevent my character from taking over my novel?!" and "I broke up with my character." I've always wondered, how in the world can you think of your character as being THAT alive?! I have always felt 100% in control of my novels; I never have to "persuade" my characters to let me write something about them because I essentially command everything that happens to them no matter what. I AM the characters. However, I'm starting to think that that's exactly what's wrong with me. I don't allow my characters to fully develop and thus come alive; I impose barriers without even knowing, which thus prohibits my novel/story from going farther and becoming richer.

Thus, I have decided to write a new character profile each week or every other week (if possible) and share it with you. Although I won't necessarily be using each character that I make a profile for in a current or future work, this will definitely be a great exercise for me to practice characterization. It will give me the opportunity to create multiple mini characters and get the hang of it so that it will be a bit easier--and fun!--when the time comes for a real novel and real characters to come alive...characters that are far more complicated than these character profiles.

I will be pulling certain people from my day-to-day life that I find extremely interesting (not in the creepy way) and with distinct mannerisms that would shape them into perfect characters for a story and do a character profile on them. After the profile, I will always write a brief passage from a potential story. The passage will be in the point of view of somebody who is physically close to the character at a certain moment.

Meet Ms. Reed

NAME: Abby Reed
Biography: Abby Reed was born and raised in a small, Southern town in North Carolina. She currently attends the local university as a junior and is getting a degree in Education. She hopes to teach high school in the future. Abby is an only child, but her wealthy parents were often too busy to spend time with her during her childhood, so they often made that up through a shower of gifts. Abby is a part of the college's sorority. She is a Teaching Fellow. AGE: 20
HEIGHT: 5 feet 0 inches.
WEIGHT: Between 90 and 100 pounds.
BODY TYPE: Slim and petite.
FACE TYPE: Small face, angled chin, prominent nose, pursed lips.
COMPLEXION: Cream-colored.
EYES: Chocolate brown and sharp. Her eyes often say a thousand words, even if a sound does not come out of her mouth.
HAIR: Shoulder-length, chocolate brown hair that matches her eyes. Straight.
CLOTHING STYLE: In the passage below, she wears a grey skirt and a white top with a purple tank underneath. Wears flats.
SPEAKING STYLE: Short sentences and to the point. Abby has a rather quiet voice that never carries out to an entire room.
GENERAL DEMEANOR: Carries an air of importance about herself. Straight to the point while talking with others. With students, she enforces her authority but does not respect their needs, nor does she identify with them.
CAREER: She works part-time as a a waitress at Olive Garden restaurant.
PREJUDICES: Frightened of insects and clowns.
BEST QUALITIES: Tries to do her best with her work. Honest and intelligent.
Worst Qualities: Rather self-centered, opinionated, and not gracious. Tends to be impatient.
WEAKNESSES: Abby has trouble getting along with other people and carries an air of arrogance that does not flatter herself at all.
HOBBIES: Exercise, read Self magazine, hang out within her sorority. She runs in the morning everyday at 7am.
TALENTS: Extremely intelligent in all areas of education. Plays the flute.


The moment Ms. Reed stood up and began switching on the projector to begin her lecture on Nigeria's three ethnic groups, it was clear that something about her made me feel uncomfortable and even hostile towards her. She did not smile, though her keen eyes seemed to notice everything around the classroom. As Ms. Reed got her materials ready for lecturing, she moved without hesitation, and the way she carried herself immediately set her off as an intern unwelcome in our classroom.

I looked around to glance at the faces of my classmates, but they were all expressionless as their eyes followed Ms. Reed. She moved as though every step she made was on a balance beam, and the grey skirt she wore swished while she moved. Even as she was bending down, her chin seemed to stick up pretentiously. After Ms. Reed's presentation finally appeared on the screen, she walked back--skirt still swishing--to the podium and began her lecture.
"Nigeria is represented by three ethnic groups: the Igbo, the Yoruba, and the Hausa-Fulani." And from there she proceeded on to explain the distinct characteristics of each group. The lecture itself was very well-done and the presentation was organized neatly, but Ms. Reed went too fast. In fact, she went so fast that nobody was able to finish her first couple of slides. Finally, by the fourth slide, a rather outspoken student named Audrey* interrupted her, "Wait one moment! I'm not finished yet." She bent her head to scramble down the last two lines of notes. Audrey wasn't the only one still writing.

"You are not finished?" Ms. Reed repeated. "Let me know when you are finished then. Look up at me when you are done." The tone of her voice was so strong that it made me taste bitter and sour in my mouth at the same time. "While you are still writing, let me talk about the next slide. The Yoruba people have a mix of..." Nobody was able to retain a single word that Ms. Reed said because they were too busy scrambling down the last couple of words, and she noticed that. Clearly, this method was not working, and her Yoruba talk slowly faded to a stop after "...and they live in the Southern part of Nigera. I guess I'll just wait until you're done with this slide."

*Names have been changed to protect privacy.


Monday, March 29, 2010

The Last Monday of March

Question of the Day: What or who inspires you to succeed and be the best that you can be?
This is the last Monday of March, 2010! It is remarkably scary how fast time is flying. I am already on my 30th blog post! Thankfully, I do not have any school due to Teacher Workday, so today is going to be pretty laid-back and more personal than usual. I won't get into any hardcore topics but will instead post a "Monday Five" list. This is usually meant for Friday ("Friday Five!") but oh well. If you are not familiar with this type of list, it is mainly discussing five specific areas or aspects of one's life at the current state. Great way to wrap up the weekend and start a 4-Day School Week!

1) Writer's Block = Conquered! Unfortunately, besides blogging, I have been procrastinating a lot of what I happen to love to do the most: writing. It seems almost paradoxical, doesn't it? Unfortunately, writer's block has a lot to do with it. Lately, my daily writing process has been going about something like this: Wake up, vow to get crackin' with my writing project, go to school, come back, almost decide to write, actually decide to surf the Internet for a couple of hours, eat a snack, make a few extremely minor changes in my writing project and consider that "an accomplishment," eat and surf some more, play the piano, eat dinner, cram in a few words, go to bed, suffer from insomnia due to guilt over not writing more, finally fall asleep, wake up. And the cycle goes on and on. It's pretty sad. So much for a March NaNoWriMo, eh? :/

However, a few days ago I experienced one of the best feelings ever: inspiration. I'm not sure if being inspired or being an "inspirer" feels better, but I can definitely tell you that both make you feel like you are on top of the world and that you can do anything you desire. I'd like to thank Stephanie Perkins for being the main source of inspiration and new encouragement for this week. Her awesome featured post on Frankie's blog on Thursday, March 25 discussed procrastination, and oh dear it felt like I was being seen right through and through...she hit me right in the soft spot! I've been procrastinating my writing project for almost half a month [yes, shame on me] now. It's like she took all of my procrastination station faults and stuffed them all in this one blog post. Hard as it was to admit my problems, it was also relieving to know that my feelings of procrastinating on the one thing that I LOVE aren't uncommon and have reasons behind them. It didn't make me feel so horrible anymore. Instead, I've become inspired to fight procrastination and lunge myself back into writing! Hopefully I can stay motivated, but whenever I feel like that procrastinator bug is creeping up and over me again, I'll turn back to Steph's blog post and remember her words. =D

My Weekend Goal was to write 500 words. That's not much at all, but I think it's best to start off slowly and realistically. I hope to build up to 2,000 each day to get back into my stride. I wrote over 200 words yesterday. :')

2) Monday's Perks. I love a 4-Day week, don't you? More time to eat, sleep, work on my super duper writing project, work on my high school's literary magazine (which I have also sadly been procrastinating), and work on my high school newspaper's April Fool's issue (which the co-editors-in-chief have put me in charge of). Whew! Doesn't sound very relaxing, but this lovely long weekend has given me a chance to catch up on all of the things that I've been procrastinating (not just literary work). And after this week comes Spring Break!

3) No Smallville. For the past few weeks, Smallville hasn't been coming on because of spring break. College spring break. I am so glad that I'm not going anywhere for Spring Break, otherwise I'd have to miss the first episode! As much as I want to know and watch and hear more of Smallville, the other half of me is pining for the show to slow down and take its time in airing the last season and a half. I've been an avid viewer of Smallville for a little less than nine years (ever since it premiered in October 2001), and it's quite sad knowing that my favorite show will be ending in less than two years. Have any of you fine readers ever had to say goodbye to a favorite television in the past? How did you cope with it?

4) Illness. Unfortunately, I have been sick since Friday with a cough and sore throat. Today marks the third day, and I am much better. The weather has been a drama queen lately... going from the mid 8's and sunshine to a burr-burr 40's, and now it is 60 degrees and raining. No wonder I got sick. Plus, there seems to be some sort of bug going around. Spring is rapidly approaching, and with it comes early April showers and pollen (aka allergy season) and vulnerable immune systems. Even with all of these, I am ready to spread my arms open and welcome spring. And I think spring is glad to finally be here as well.

5) Self Magazine. Now that my AP Government class is cooling it with the copious amounts of textbook reading we usually have assigned each week, I have been able to catch up with the last two months' issues of Self Magazine. A basic overview: a monthly magazine targeted mainly to women; it is a confidence-boosting mag that features ways in which women can eat, socialize, and exercise healthier. It also includes fashion, makeup, and health-related articles. I'm a little too young to be reading it (it's not that the content is too mature or anything, but most of the readers are well into the 20's and I'm only 17), but it still makes me feel happier and livelier when I read it. I'm going to write a later blog post about this magazine, because it's just that good. :] Stay tuned for more information on Self!

Have a nice Monday, everyone!



Thursday, March 25, 2010

My "Do Not Be a Critter Killer" Article

Question of the Day: What type of writing do you enjoy the most? Poetry, short stories, creative nonfiction, essays, or other?

Good day! The March issue of my high school newspaper came out today. =) Unfortunately, I only had one story and only a couple photos published in this issue, but that is because I was put in charge of our April Fool's issue that is coming out, well, on April Fool's! More about that later. Here we have my "Do Not Be a Critter Killer" article, and yes, that is the original title. Please enjoy, and let me know what you think about it!

"Do Not Be a Critter Killer"
By Wendy

There once was a very small snail named Jack. He was a brave fellow admired by all of his friends and family. Jack sported a beautiful, coral pink shell that other snails believed would bring him good luck and fortune some day.

One day, our friend Jack rolled his way outside into the bright sun to fetch some food for his family. As Jack whistled his way towards some crunchy-looking plants, he suddenly heard vibrations all around him. The ground below seemed to shake slightly, and before he could turn around and realize his inevitable fate, Jack was smashed underneath a alrge, human-sized shoe. His beautiful coral shell was crushed into a thousand little pieces. There went his luck, and Jack was no more.

Although this story is fictional and obviously exaggerated, Jack the snail represents millions of small animals and insects that get killed everyday by humans who cringe at the sight of them. We do not think twice about the living critters, including snails, slugs, centipedes, ladybugs and ants, that we destroy by simply stepping on the concrete. However small and trivial they may be physically and mentally in our minds, these creatures are all a part of the world in which we live.

I am not suggesting that you should freak out over every step you take and make sure the entire premises are clear around your shoe before placing it onto the ground. At the same time, there is no reason to spot a cricket on your carpet, scream bloody murder and put a brutal end to that poor cricket's life. You have no idea how immature and silly you look when you allow such a small animal--yes, insects are animals--to intimidate you like that. You weigh 10 times more than the cricket and you definitely are stronger by far.

Being stronger and bigger still does not mean that you should take advantage of small animals and crush them into a pulp before flushing them mercilessly down the toilet. Instead, use your convenient human skills to help them return to their natural habitat. All you have to do is pick the critter up and set it out the door or window. USe a napkin or glass jar to pick them up if you do not want to touch it, and then set it free. It is that easy.

Besides, the cricket is known to be a lucky charm, and I am sure you do not want to throw good luck away. Of course, if you spot a bee, a brightly colored and obviously poisonous spider or other harmful insect just inches from your toe, getting rid of it is a legitimate action. However, there is no reason to kill small animals just for the sake of doing so.
There are currently over one million species of insects and a great number of other types of animals. Several of these creatures have important properties that are extremely valuable to nature. Insects in general are important when it comes to plant pollination and decomposition, both of which are essential for nature to thrive. There are also special abilities of certain insects that have benefited humans in the past. For instance, did you know that the silk of some species of moths was originally used to make clothing? I definitely did not until I googled "moths" a few months ago.

When it comes to these small critters that seem so annoying and insignificant at first glance, there is definitely more than meets the eye. We can all help prevent the extermination of these poor creatures by taking a little extra effort and time to save them and thinking twice before we decide to crush a poor snail.

Here is my current favorite song [which I cannot stop listening to]:



Tuesday, March 23, 2010

My First Blog Award

Question of the Day: What was the last accomplishment you made?

Today, I received my first nomination for a blog award from Cheryl Clarke! This really means a lot to me, so thank you very much, Cheryl! =]


1. Thank the person that nominated you.
2. Copy the award and place it on your own blog.
3. Post a link to nominator.
4. Express seven things about yourself.
5. Nominate seven other bloggers.
6. Link them.

7 Things About Me:

  • I enjoy writing Harry Potter fanfiction (go on and say it...I am nerd. :D)
  • My favorite music genre is rock. Bring on the Nickelback, Boys Like Girls, and Green Day! Some other artists/bands I enjoy include Evanescence, Hilary Duff, Weezer, Taylor Swift, Linkin Park, and Carrie Underwood.
  • As a child, the movie Lion King was my one true love. I had bed spreads, pillowcases, and wall art that were all Lion-King themed. And the movies, of course! For my 3rd birthday, I even had a Lion King-themed birthday cake.
  • I think Maltese dogs are simply adorable!
  • My hidden talent: I can burp by will.
  • I am in an uber-awesome relationship of 3.5 years and counting. =] Haha I don't think I've mentioned that in my own blog yet, so yeah.
  • I have very bad luck with socks. Almost every pair I get ends up with holes within the first three months. D:

I would like to nominate the following bloggers:

Little White Lights - Video Blog - I can't say enough good things about Megan and her videos, so I'm going to keep it short and sweet: this blog brings me joy everyday!

Where Lies My Tarp? - Everything Blog - My good friend Jordan-Marie covers a variety of topics, but mainly writing. She often includes cartoons and photos.

Nathan Bransford - Writing Blog - NB is a professional literary agent who gives advice on query letters (and other aspects of a literary life), provides confidence boosters for writers, and shares his opinions on everything literary from E-books to self-publishing.

Fashion Train - Fashion Blog - Becca introduces a variety of the latest styles and unique fashions. She has several competitions for her audience to participate in and always includes great photos in her blog posts.

Frankie Writes - Writing Blog - Here's a story of a young, prolific writer who is getting her work out into the world and enjoying what she does best: writing!

Thick or Thin: Game Writing - Gaming Blog - Just like it sounds! This blogger writes video game reviews and provides several valuable resource links for gamers and writers alike.

Oh to Be a Muse - Fashion Blog - I chose this blog for my last one just because I didn't have any more to share. No, I'm totally kidding! :P I love Cheryl Clarke's blog because she always incorporates her life within the blog: she shares her fashion experiences and loves, her thoughts and her personal advice with readers. There is always some variety, so it never gets boring! It's hard not to love a blog like this. :) (CC - haha don't worry, you don't have to redo the whole award thing again)


Saturday, March 20, 2010

Go Green!

Question of the Day: If you could switch lives with one living creature (animal, plant, single prokaryote, etc.) for one day, what would you choose to be?

Everyday, humans do not realize how influential they are on the environment. I am not just talking about plants, but everything--from animals to small critters and insects to bodies of water to cherry blossom trees to simply the atmosphere.

Nature gives us so many gifts and have been for centuries: oxygen, medicinal cures, food, shelter, land to live on, and overall simply peace. Without nature and our environment, life and survival would not exist.

I have compiled a short list of my favorite simple ways to help recycle, prevent pollution, and save the environment. They go below using and buying your average recycling bins and biodegradable products...and when I say "below" I mean they take even less time and are almost effortless. When you first read, these things seem so obvious that it's silly to put them up here, but you would be surprised by how few take these actions.
If each person did a little good to help reduce our ecological footprint on Earth, then we can all give back to the nature that has helped us for so long.

Four Great Ways to Go Green

1) Reuse paper for printing. I admit that I use a lot paper. A lot. As a high schooler, there are days in which I am assigned research papers and other homework that involve typing and printing. As a writer, I constantly print and reprint rough drafts and page drafts that must be edited. Where do they go after they have been proofread and all errors have been corrected? The trashcan, of course. Unfortunately, half of all sheets of paper are unused; it is only too common for people to use one side of a sheet of paper and then toss it out. Whenever possible, I take these half-used pieces of paper and pile them up beside my printer at home. There is a lot of stuff that I DO NOT need to turn in, such as monthly to-do lists, that I end up printing on the other sides of these papers. Why use so much paper, throw them away and then use new sheets of paper when the other sides of the first batch of papers are still perfectly good? I hope that wasn't confusing. :3 So yeah, keep your one-sided papers by the printer and remember to USE THEM for unofficial, personal documents that must be printed.

2) Reuse your mail. Good old snail mail uses up a lot of paper. It really does. With catalogs, magazines, envelopes, newspapers, god-awful bills, and other incoming mail entering people's mailboxes everyday, there is a tremendous build-up of paper...and at least half of it ends up going into the trash. There is SO much that can be done with mail, though! I save my unwanted mail and torn envelopes and do scratch work/homework on them. It's surprising how well unwanted mail serves as scratch paper. You'll feel really good about yourself when you do that instead of using perfectly good notebook paper to do quick calculations for grading papers or for filling out monthly bills on. Another way to reuse mail is for mealtimes. You know those takeout Pizza Hut chicken wings that you always get but never find a place to throw the bones? That's when your unused mail can come in handy. You can save a lot of napkins by simply using the used paper as a surface to pile up the bones, and then simply throw the paper and bones away when you're done.

3) Reuse your fish water. It is imperative that you change the water of your fish tank (if you have one, that is) at least once a week. Even if you have a filter that pumps water and constantly traps food and dirty particles, the best way to keep your fish living in a clean environment if you wash the tank out often. BUT...instead of throwing out the dirty water, you can easily use it for another chore--watering plants! Sounds ridiculous, but it's true: because fish water contains feces and other bits of, erm, fish stuff in there, the water is actually very healthy and nutritious for plants. I've been using fish water for my orchid and it has bloomed twice in a very short amount of time. I also used fish water to revive my mother's Jasmine plant. This is a great way to prevent from wasting water and to feed your plant with a fertilizing water!

4) Plant plants. One of the best ways to thank nature is to simply make more of it! There are loads of different types of flower seeds and vegetable seeds that you can buy for cheap prices. You can either buy them at the local grocery stores or online. If you have a busy schedule, buy some plant seeds that don't require too much attention (must be watered daily, etc.), or are very independent if left outside in the natural environment. Another neat way to "plant plants" is to buy exotic species if you ever go out of the country; I went to Hawai'i a few years back and bought some packages of the following plants: Birds of Paradise, Coconut Tree, Kona Coffee, and Macadamia Nut! There is one more but I can't quite remember what it is called. =/ Anywho, planting plants yourselves will help nature's cycle of life flourish and add just a little more beauty to the world. Plus, it's a really peaceful hobby and helps relieve stress. More power to plants!

Thank you for reading!


*These photos were taken by me, Wendy, and therefore belong to me.

P.S. I apologize for any corniness or cheesiness in this blog post. :P I promise my next post will not be about nature, haha.


Wednesday, March 17, 2010

Go Walden

Question of the Day: What is your stance on global warming?

There is something about nature that always produces a calming effect on me and makes me feel at peace with the world.

Whenever I am feeling particularly angry, impatient, melancholy, or other sensitive human feeling, taking a nice walk outside always helps me calm down and find happiness again. Next time you feel the need for some alone time, take a drive and go out to the countryside. You will find a beauty in nature that you cannot find anywhere else, for nothing else can be more pure or genuine.

We owe nature so much. It has provided us for years with medicines, shelters, and other essentials needed for survival. There is so much we can learn, for nature holds infinite more secrets than your own ears can. All aspects of nature contributes to a process that repeats itself throughout the course of history. It is consistent. It is dangerous, and it is beautiful.

If we all took some time to truly heighten our senses and take a good look around us, we might find personal insight, motivation, and happiness in nature by simply knowing that nature is good and pure. And real. How could you not be awed by the magic of life?

A family of gorgeous cherry blossoms. These are my favorite species of trees.

A cloudburst of rain. It was raining cats and dogs over by the mountains of LiJiang, China, but where I was located [within a canoe boat floating on the lake] there wasn't a drop of rain.

A rock forest in KunMing, China. Can you believe all of that was created naturally?

Unfortunately, I do not know what these species of flowers are called. :( If you do please let me know! I think they are really beautiful and unique.
On a driving tour of San Diego Zoo. By twilight.

Morning hours. San Diego. Overlooking the North Pacific Ocean.

This responsible rhinocerous [San Diego Zoo] proves that humans and animals alike all have some similarities that will never change.

Have you ever seen a more friendly-looking animal? Me neither...you can be sure that I smiled right back at Mr. Dolphin!

Flamingos and ducks. I wish my life was that chill. :P
Somewhere over the rainbow, Wendy flies! [I wish]
So true.

Diamondhead, Hawai'i. I will never forget this view.
*I took all of these photos with my own camera throughout the past couple of years. They all belong to me. Hope you enjoyed!!


Sunday, March 14, 2010

Taking It Easy

Question of the Day: What is your one love, your ultimate passion?

I will be out of town today.
Waking up late [Daylight Savings!].
Catching up on homework.
Blogging it up.
Writing my special project (2.5k/50k)
Drawing a red angel.
Eating a classic Marie Callender dish.
Texting with my Razr.
Taking photos for my next blog post.
Hitting some piano keys.
Creating a care package.
Celebrating Pi Day!!
Jamming to my iPod.
Forming mini stories in my mind.
Being productive.
~Have a lovely Sunday! ~


Wednesday, March 10, 2010

The Oscar's Academy Awards

Question of the Day: If you could switch lives with one big star of the modern world, who would it be and why?

I usually do not write about fashion, but the ladies and gentlemen really Wow'ed me when I watched the 82nd Annual Oscar's Academy Awards of 2010. There were definitely a few that I thought were completely hideous, but as I am a relatively optimistic and happy-go-lucky person, I would like to share only the attire that I did think were absolutely magnificent.

First, for all of you who were not able to watch this year's show, here are the 82nd Annual Oscar Awards for 2010:

Best Picture: "The Hurt Locker"
Best Director: Kathryn Bigelow - "The Hurt Locker"
Best Actor: Jeff Bridges - "Crazy Heart"
Best Actress: Sandra Bullock - "The Blind Side"
Best Supporting Actor: Christoph Waltz - "Inglorious Basterds"
Best Supporting Actress: Mo'Nique - "Precious
Best Original Screenplay: "The Hurt Locker"
Best Adapted Screenplay: "Precious"
Best Animated Feature: "Up"
(Source: Yahoo)

Here are my top favorite gowns and tuxedos adorning Hollywood's greatest stars!
#1: Penelope Cruz: Her gown is absolutely gorgeous and definitely made my eyes pop and my mouth utter "WOW!" I really love the scarlet, as it goes well with Cruz's perfect skin tone. The sweep of the dress skirt has a sexy flair to it as well. Cruz definitely wore this dress well, with a confident pose and just the right amount of matching jewelry. This is definitely my favorite outfit out of all the Oscar attendees. It is simple yet stunning. Why can't we all look as good as Penelope Cruz in this guise?
#2: Cameron Diaz: Cam has always definitely my favorite "Charlie's Angel." Here, she looks even more like an angel, though not the kickass one we all love! Her gown is so very glamorous and somehow reminds me of royalty. <3>

#3: Taylor Lautner: Nay, I did not choose Lautner because he is "the hottest thing around," according to Yahoo, though that is a nice factor. :] I like his outfit because, unlike the other male actors, Lautner's tuxedo is sharp and simple but not too plain.

That cute bow is a great add-on and looks a lot nicer and lighter than those dull black ties. The buttons complete the outfit to give it some sort of pattern without looking too tacky like Robert Downey Jr. This is really the one tuxedo that I thought looked really nice, and thus Lautner is my tuxedo winner!

#4: Queen Latifah: Okay, so every time I see Ms. Latifah, I can't help but think of royalty. She reminds me of exactly what her name indicates: a queen. In this figure-hugging garment, her name suits her even more. I absolutely love the sparkly one-shoulder strap and diagonal waist sash. The bodice hugs her upper and middle torso, while the waves flow around her and emphasize the curvy shape. Latifah wears this gown proudly with an award-winning smile and has a matching clutch to complement her outfit.

#5: Jennifer Lopez: Although J.Lo was first famous for being a music star, throughout the years it has been clear that she is a multi-tasker. Lopez has had several accomplishments as a prolific music artist, restaurant business manager, actress, dancer, and fashion designer of a successful clothing and perfume line. I really admire Lopez and the inspiration she gives to so many people; she is a great role model who truly shows that minorities can make a difference.
Okay, on to her gown. What I really like about this one is the creativity and uniqueness of it. The unexpected folds at her chest and at the side of her waist flatter her curves and are dramatic enough without being too out there. Lopez finishes up with matching jewelry and a clutch as well.

I have come to realize that this classic pose that I admire so much seems to be a classic pose for actors and actresses. Three-fourths of the Oscar attendees (according to the Yahoo photos I've been flipping through) used this pose and looked most confident and comfortable in their skin. I like! :)


Sunday, March 7, 2010

"Alice in Wonderland" Movie Review

Question of the Day: What is the worst movie date you have ever been on? It could've been with a blind date, a significant other, or even a best friend.

Today I went on a movie date with my lovely sister to go watch "Alice in Wonderland," a film that was released on March 5, 2010. It is directed by Tim Burton, presented by Disney, and includes two classic, famous actors: Anne Hathaway and Johnny Depp. It is based on the book, Alice's Adventures in Wonderland by Lewis Caroll.

When it comes to movie reviews, I split the movie into nine different sections that I rate from 1-5 (in stars). I start off with the basics and then move on to the more complex areas of movie production. Then, in the tenth section, I rate the overall quality of the movie based on the ratings of the other sections. Feel free to comment on my opinion and agree/disagree! Enjoy!

Alice in Wonderland: Movie Review

Short Summary: "Alice in Wonderland," based on the book by Lewis Caroll, is about a 19-year-old carefree girl named Alice. She lives in London, has a wild imagination, and is stressed and pressured to be someone who everybody else wants her to be. Alice ends up falling in a hole that leads to Wonderland, a strange world in which everything is upside down. Before she knows it, Alice is forced to go on a crazy adventure with The Mad Hatter, The White Rabbit, and other unforgettable characters to save Wonderland from the evil Red Queen.

Story: To me, the Story of a movie is mainly based on the world that the movie is set up in (for example: "Harry Potter" set in the Wizarding World, "Pearl Harbor" set in WWII era, etc.). Obviously, "Alice in Wonderland" is set in Wonderland, a world completely created by Lewis Caroll (who I believe is a genius). I really love his Wonderland story and think that it is extremely creative, extraordinary, and--ironically--real. You can't help but love Wonderland, that crazy home of Opposites. Land of the Upside Down. As wild as Wonderland may seem, it really makes one think about the real world in which we live in and why it is the way it is. Rating: 5/5

Plot: It is easy to get the Story and the Plot mixed up. I personally think of the Plot as the main problem and the events in an adventure that leads up to that problem's resolution. The plot takes place within the Story and is carried out by the Characters. In "Alice in Wonderland," the plot of the movie deals with Alice and her friends having to fight against the nefarious Red Queen in order to save Wonderland from her evil doings and restore all power to The White Queen. The events that lead up to the climax of this plot were exciting and connected well with each other. The movie makers did a good job introducing the characters while developing the main plot.

The beginning and ending of the movie were my least favorite events; besides Wonderland's War of the Queens (I made that title up), Alice is the main character and, as in all good movies, undergoes change for the better. However, some parts of the beginning and ending were slightly awkward...the choices and changes Alice made to her real life did not quite fit in with the rest of the story and was not carried out as well as it could have been. See more under Direction/Production. Rating: 4/5

Characterization: From the moment the characters were introduced one by one, I knew who they were and what they were like. The costumes, the little quirks, and the personalities were all very distinct and unique to each character. The acting was definitely a significant factor in characterization. Some of the distinct traits of individual characters that defined them and that I was truly impressed by include:
  • the exaggerated grace of The White Queen
  • the crooked smile of Hamish
  • the slightly bizarre cross-eyes, nonsensical mutters, and eccentricity of The Mad Hatter
  • the bossy, almost childish tone of voice of The Red Queen
  • the constant stuttering and nervosa of The March Hare (The Mad Hatter's tea party friend)

My favorite was definitely The Mad Hatter, played by Johnny Depp. Disney did a great job keeping the classic traits of each character intact as they are in Caroll's "Alice" (the wackiness of the Hatter, the brattiness of the Red Queen, the looniness of the ever-arguing Twiddle twins) while adding additional characteristics that freshen them up and make the audience have a certain attitude towards them. Even though The Mad Hatter's head was clearly full of nuts, his loyalty and confidence in Alice instantly made him one of the most well-liked characters in the movie. Rating: 5/5

Costumes: This is also a big factor when it came to characterization. One thing I found particularly interesting were the many dresses that Alice wore in the movie; for almost every different size or situation she was in (except for the one major fight scene when she had on an armoured suit), she wore a different colored dress; all of the dresses were similarly designed, however, which I thought was pretty neat. Unlike Alice's gown in the old Disney classic version of "Alice in Wonderland," in which she wears a modest blue pinafore and a white apron, Alice is adorned with lacy one-color gowns that reveal quite a lot at the top. I'm a huge fan of her outfits, to be honest; I think they are extremely creative and fashionable yet wild enough for Wonderland.

I am not crazy about The Mad Hatter's ridiculously clown-like hair, but his famous hat is quite stunning with its many pins and feathers and single pink sash. The two queens also wear some nifty gowns; both are dominated by the colors that they are famous for (Red and White), and although they are enemies and pretty much opposite ends of one spectrum, both dresses are equally fit of royalty. I think The Red Queen's heart-shaped crown of hair is very interesting, and goes well with her personality and character. Rating: 5/5

Acting: All the actors were very much in character during the whole movie (see more under Characterization and the bulleted list I provide)...especially Johnny Depp, who played the famous Mad Hatter; he always seems to play the quirkiest characters. XD Sadly enough, the one actor that I was not altogether pleased with was Mia Wasikowska, who plays Alice. She slightly reminded me of a better Kristen Stewart, who plays Bella Swan in Twilight. Mia expressed limited emotion and her reactions to Wonderland are not realistic enough (for instance, she did not seem terrified enough of the Jabberwocky). In some scenes, she seems to be only talking...there is not much actual acting going on. And acting for her was key to the movie, especially since Alice is the main character and the entire story, plot, and movie as a whole is about her. Like Kristen Stewart is for Bella, I think Mia's look is perfect for Alice, but her acting could have been much better. It is truly a sad thing that all of Alice's supporting characters performed better than herself. Rating: 4.5/5

Script: I think that a rich, intelligent script is vital for a successfully made movie. Quite frankly, "Alice in Wonderland"'s script was really not that special to me at all. However, there were a few quotes that stand out to me as being worthy of remembrance. Most of them stick out because of their humor.
"You were much more 'muchier.' You've lost your muchness." -The Mad Hatter

"Have you any idea why a raven is like a writing desk?" -TMH
"No. Why is it?" -Alice
"Absolutely nothing." -TMH
"Have I gone mad?" -TMH
"I am afraid so. You're entirely bonkers....but I'll tell you a secret. All the best people are." -Alice

"Hehe. I love my fat boys!" -The Red Queen

"I need a pig here! I love a warm pig belly for my aching feet." -The Red Queen

Much of the humor used in this story was, like everything else, rather odd and eccentric. It fit with the movie but the script overall was not particularly excellent or innovative. Rating: 3.5/5

Action/Drama: There is one particular scene that I'd like to focus on under this category. I must admit, I was worried of being disappointed by the inevitable fight between Alice and the Red Queen's Jabberwocky, which was really the main action scene and climax of the movie. After all, Alice did not look like much of a fighter, and somehow watching this incredible fantasy film reminded me of one of the few poorly-made Smallville episodes in which the the SUPPOSEDLY incredible, nail-biting, watch-behind-your-pillow duel between Superman and Zod's son lasted less than thirty seconds and was no more than a few fist punches and a huge explosion that actually kills Zod's son, who is supposed to be the most powerful and strongest creature on Earth besides Superman. Pretty anticlamactic. Flashing back to "Alice in Wonderland," I braced myself for a similarly disheartening climax...BUT to no avail. :) The action between Alice and the Jabberwocky was actually quite brilliant and as realistic as fantasy can get; both took some pretty intense swipes at each other (Alice with her special sword and the Jabberwocky with his intimidating fangs and things) and the defeat came in at just the right time.

In regards to the rest of the movie, the drama/action was okay. The beginning was slightly boring and almost redundant, as it almost felt like a timeline with character after character being introduced to Alice during her adventures in Wonderland. The plot and climax did not come near until the middle when the audience and Alice meets The Mad Hatter and the story of Wonderland's fall under the Red Queen's grasp unfolds. However, there were definitely some intense moments when I was most certainly sitting at the edge of my seat, such as the scenario in which the Red Queen's troops cime dangerously close to finding Alice. The music was well-chosen and dramatic enough so that I almost always anticipated whatever would come next for Alice. Rating: 4/5

Digital Design/Animation: Technology amazes me every year, and I definitely think it is taking over our lives. From iPhones to Wiis to Blu-Ray and 3-D movies, today's genius scientists are finding more and more ways to upgrade the level and rate at which the technological industry for entertainment is increasing. "Alice in Wonderland" is no exception. This area was definitely the most impressive to me...I remember in the past when digital stunts and monsters looked so obviously computerized and fake to the point that they were laughable. But in "Alice," everything about Wonderland looked so impossibly real that there were times when I literally felt like Wonderland was a real place.

What really astounded me was how Disney (and whatever company they used) was able to create a computerized world with characters (such as a deck of iron cards who were also the Red Queen's army of troops and Twiddledum/dee) that are part digital and part real. Sort of like how the Lord of the Rings creators made Gollum, except Alice's characters are even better. Here are just a few of the stunning visuals within "Alice in Wonderland":

Twiddledum and Twiddledum was played one person...Disney must have taken his main features and merged them with a "Twiddle" body. The Blue Caterpillar and the Wallflowers were pretty spiffy! When I first heard the Blue Caterpillar speak, I instantly knew it was Severus Snape from Harry Potter. :D They couldn't have chosen a better speaker for the caterpillar, and I was astounded by how nicely and ironically realistic he looked with his long pipe and six bajillion feet (hehe). And the Wallflowers were so accurately created and the way they interacted with Alice...you would've thought they were real. What I think was REALLY awesome was how easily Alice seemed to grow, bigger and smaller, as if she really were having a ten-second growth spurt/shrink. I could go on and on and on, but I won't. I think you get the message. :) Rating: 5/5

Direction/Production: Overall, the direction and production of this film was carried out pretty well. At times, I did feel slightly bored at the beginning of Alice's adventure in Wonderland, as it just seemed like an introduction of character after character; there was no true excitement until the plot began to unravel. However, I do not think Disney could have done anything to change that and make it better; I also think that may be a personal preference. Perhaps it is only me that feels that way. Anyhow, the relationships between the different characters was well-thought-out and the chronology of Alice's adventures were organized and made sense. The only area that I felt had some random parts was the ending. I do not want to give too much away, so I will just say that some parts did not seem to add up with Alice's personality and talents (her career choice made it seem like she was into industry and politics, which was a bit spontaneous to me); if they had tied in the decisions she made at the ending by adding something about what she enjoys doing in her spare time (besides daydreaming) in the beginning. Rating: 4/5

Overall Quality: This film was made extremely well and would hoodwink your eyes to watch it. We grow up into thinking that all and any arenas of fantasy are not real. That they only exist in our imaginations. "Alice in Wonderland" is one of few movies that is talented enough to fool us into believing the that impossible is possible. It asks all the questions that are not meant to be wondered about...it shows a world in which everything is upside down and opposite from what should be. However absurd that may be to some, the absurdity is what makes us think about why things are the way they are. This particular version of "Alice" includes an additional moral that applies to everyone: Don't be afraid to speak out, and don't be afraid to do what you want to do in life. This message is loud and clear towards the end when Alice finally realizes that she must return to the world of reality and apply what she has gained from Wonderland in order to live her real life to the fullest.

"Alice in Wonderland" may not be a completely fantastical thriller that provides you with a life-changing epiphany. Even so, it is a film that everyone can identify with and will certainly entertain you from the moment it begins to the second it ends. You will fall in love with the characters and, in some odd, nonsensical way, with Wonderland as well. It gives you a green light that says: dare to wonder. Rating: 4/5


P.S. It took days to complete this blog post and I am so glad I finally completed it! I apologize for the intense verbosity...I tend to be very wordy when I am extremely passionate about something but am unsure about how to convey how I feel about it. Hopefully I will never have a post as long and extensive as this one!



Question of the Day: Home is where the heart is. Where is your home?
Although I love North Carolina and have been living for the past ten years, the only place I have ever really felt at home is Massachusetts. When I am there, I feel completely happy and at peace. My heart is settled and I think that there is nowhere else in the world that I would rather be.

My favorite time of the year is when I get to visit my home. I have the time of my life there, and it is always a sad day when I must say goodbye to all the things that I am most familiar with. The days that I spend reminiscing, I have only sweet memories to take me back to "yester-year."* Here is a poem I wrote in 2009.


I close my eyes to remember and imagine.
My heart pounds at the sound of soft rustling
generated by those never-forgotten willow trees.
Even after eight years, I can still see everything clearly:
See the bright sun smiling upon Charles River
golden and spreading everywhere, like hot melting butter.
See the endless V-shape of birds in the sky
passing over the endless row of skyscrapers.
See my beloved elementary school,
the one I had to leave behind eight years ago.

Like a home video playing through my head,
I rewind and rewind again and again.
Footage of Prudential,
and J.P. Licks ice cream store
and Anna's Taqueria quickly slide by.

There goes my childhood playground,
the one with blue swing sets and yellow slides.
One, two, three slides; four, five, six swings.
The middle swing was always my favorite.
I recall the adrenaline pumping within me
as I had kicked my legs up and down with excitement.
I imagine that familiar rushing feeling
pass through me once again.
I can see this crystal clear.

I open my eyes afresh, closing my imagination.
I sigh and realize that I'm back here.
The pounding of my heart slowly begins to fade.
Even after eight years, I still miss my old home.
And the awakening from my daydream reminds me once again
Of where I want to live when I grow up.
*I got "yester-year" from Parent Trap the movie.


Thursday, March 4, 2010

Marie Callender's Pasta Al Dente Selections

Question of the Day: Which restaurant (any) do you enjoy going to the most? What dishes do you usually order there?

My tummy has fallen in love. All the symptoms are there...loud grumbles signaling hunger as well as longing, soft murmurs that indicate satisfaction, and occasional sighs that tell its owner that it is daydreaming again. Of Marie Callender's Pasta Al Dente selections.

I discovered this brand a few days ago while shopping at Kroger's grocery store. As I strolled across the Frozen Foods section, the corner of my eye caught sight of a wide column displaying an army of golden food boxes. Marie Callender's: Since 1948, it said at the top left corner of each box. Each row held a different dish, and one with the word GARLIC in it caught my eye first. Penne Garlic Chicken. The outside cover had a photo of seductive pasta adorned with garlic and parsley swimming in a sea of a creamy, oil-based sauce. Embedded in between noodles were thick slices of perfectly grilled chicken, artichokes, spinach, and tomatoes.

I did not even notice that my mouth had been watering up until I realized that if I didn't swallow within the next few seconds, I'd be making a drooler out of myself in the middle of Kroger's. A small voice in the back of my head whispered to good to be true. I nodded and almost turned away when another label seemed to flash out frantically, calling me back. $1.88, it screamed, and it worked.

Within minutes, I was at the cashier register getting all of the groceries--with a stash of Marie Callender selections hidden within their own plastic bags--paid and piled up in my metal cart. I had never been so excited to eat before, and the moment I got home I pulled out all of Callender's concoctions. There were so many varieties! I ended up picking the irresistable-looking garlic chicken dish.

It is safe to say that I will be spending a few minutes of each grocery trip to Kroger's stocking up on these lucky new discovery dishes of mine. The moment I brought the first bite up to my lips, Marie Callender's pasta stole my heart permanently. The just right amount oftanginess in the sauce. The juicy, tender chicken meat. The herby, spicy zest that came with every bite. The perfect blend of capers, mushrooms, artichokes, and other food decor. And, of course, the soft penne noodles with oozing sauce from within. A thousand different tastes exploded within my mouth every time I took in a forkful.

There are endless varieties of Marie Callender's Pasta Al Dente selections. Here are just a few of my favorite, and are on top of my grocery list every week:

  • Penne Garlic Chicken (of course!)
  • Chicken Carbonara - this is a classic carbonara with fresh green peas and bits of delicious bacon; the pasta and chicken and food decor (peas and bacon) are mixed in a "smoky" carbonara sauce, which is actually a red sauce, not the classic white cream that I usually associate carbonaras with

  • Penne Chicken Piccata - I had this one today! This is a combination of penne pasta, slices of grilled chicken, capers, spinach, and a perfect sprinkle of parmesean chceese on top! The sauce is amazing--white wine lemon butter sauce!

  • Creamy Basil Chicken - the main vegetables in this dish are zucchini and tomatoes, and the noodles are a type of macaroni twist that are great at holding the red sauce inside and keeping the flavor intact.

  • Chicken Pesto Parmesean - simply delish! This selection is quite colorful, with its green broccoli, tomatoes, and mixed blend of herbs and spices. The thin, smooth noodles and Callender's famous grilled chicken slices are soaked in a cream-like pesto sauce.

There are many other different flavorful dishes. Each one is unique in its own way, whether it be an added spice or a twist in the sauce. Each one is packed with lots of flavor--much more flavor than the average Healthy Choice or South Beach Diet meal. Each one will make your tummy go wild (in a good way). Some of the dishes have up to 500 calories per dish, but some of them--like the Penne Chicken Piccata--only have 360 calories. Enough to keep you satisfied for at least three or four hours, but not so much that you'll feel bloated and guilty afterwards.

Unfortunately, Marie Callender--or should I say Kroger's?--knows how the economy works. Alas, the second time I eagerly passed on to the frozen food aisle, all of Marie Callender's dishes were GONE! D: I had to settle for the Healthy Choice Steamers, which work the same way as Marie Callender's Pasta dishes but definitely do not taste as good. The third time I came, however, Callender's dishes were back but the price had increased by $1.01! Although they now cost $2.89, about the same as Stouffer's dishes, that certainly has not stopped me from buying them. That, my friends, is how much in love my tummy is.

You can be in on the love! Whether you are craving for a delicious dinner or just even a snack in the middle of the day (and it's too early to eat the next meal), Marie Callender's Pasta Al Dente selections are a winner.


P.S. That scrumptious-looking thing up there is the Penne Garlic Chicken. Why are you still waiting?


Wednesday, March 3, 2010

Our Year

Question of the Day: What novel or other book have you read in the past that permanently changed you in some way?

I do not have enough time tonight to write a blog post from scratch, but expect one tomorrow! :) Meanwhile, here is a small segment of writing that I found under my old Facebook notes earlier on today. It is a little outdated, as the SAT portions are not relevant anymore (I took my last SAT in October 2009, hurray!) and Homecoming Week has passed by long ago. Nonetheless, it is still rather up-to-date, since it is only March and you have the rest of 2010 to make the beginning of a new decade shine your way. This Note is obviously directed towards a young audience of high schoolers, but the message can be applied to all. Enjoy!

Our Year 2010

A few months ago, I read this on my friend's Facebook status: "It may not be my week, but it's gonna be my year." I was feeling rather lachrymose about life that day, but when I read those words, I realized that I didn't HAVE to feel discouraged if I chose not to. Moaning over one day or even one week was okay as long as I didn't moan over an entire year. What a waste of tears that would be, when I could be spending those tears on laughter instead at a friend's house while playing Guitar Hero, or over a silly SAT word that seems to mean hooves with bees flying all around rather than benefit. Then again, it would probably be BEEHOOVE me to properly learn my SAT vocabulary as well as make this my year even if it isn't my week.

We all have bad days. They are a part of life and one cannot go through life without having them. But every day does not have to be a bad day. Be curious. Take time to reflect on why this day was so bad and what can be done to make it better. Take a walk outside. Sing in the rain. Play chess with yourself so that you can guarantee a win. It's our senior year. OUR year.

We're the Class of 2010 and that's never going to change. Our school has obviously implemented some new policies that may not be for the better, but we can still make this an amazing year. Homecoming Week, Prom, Graduation in June. It's all going to be amazing, but in between then, do something to make this your year. Our year. Why not? Why not send in that Letter to the Editor to the school newspaper that you've been itching to submit since freshman year? Why not do a small random act of kindness that ends up making someone else's day? Why not write a note to your favorite teacher, letting him know how much you loved AP Euro. Why not have a little faith in yourself and tutor someone in a subject you're beastly at? The feeling of knowing you helped someone be a better person, in whatever way, is priceless. So is that small "thank you" when they come and show you their first A+ in biology.

I try to open my eyes every morning and think of something creative to do that day. Something different, something bold. And now that I realize I have a limited number of days at home and in high school, now more than ever will I try to make this my year. I cannot wait to walk across that stage, receive my diploma, and know that it was us, the Class of 2010, that made our high school an even better place than it was before.

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