Wednesday, August 26, 2015

Romeo and Juliet by William Shakespeare

Okay, so I'm not a super duper Ivory Tower snob, so I'm technically not allowed to have an opinion on any kind of Shakespeare, but here we go.
So far as Shakespeare goes, Henry V is still my favorite, but Romeo and Juliet is an extremely close second.
First, I'll explain my take on the two title characters romance. Okay, get your pitchforks and torches ready, because I don't think that they are the Paragon of True Love. I think they were impulsive and rushed things because of circumstance. I think that if their families hadn't been feuding, then they would have either gotten married eventually after getting to know each other, or they would've lost interest (similar to how Romeo quickly lost interest in Rosaline?) and started seeing other suitors.
That's the tragedy of it, if you ask me. It didn't have to be that way. This play made me really sad not because they were tragically star-crossed saints in love, but rather because they were impulsive kids who just wanted to be together and rushed into it without thinking of the consequences. [sniffle]
I liked the character development of the two. Romeo started out as an emo whiner but was sharpened into a determined young man; for better or worse. Well, worse.
Juliet is a typical ingénue, but also clever, and she actually keeps her head better than Romeo. And at the same time, she's totally your average girl.
How art thou out of breath, when thou hast breath to say to me that thou are out of breath?
The supporting characters were pretty good, too. I feel bad for Paris, I know a lot of productions demonize him for not being Romeo, but he seems to have a solid character, and I was pretty tensed up during the fight between him and Romeo. My favorite character was Mercutio, because even at death's door he's a total snarker. At first, I thought he was just being a drama queen, actually! Then it turns out he's really hurt. Ouch. That's when the play goes from Rom Com to straight up Tragedy, I think.

The Verdict: A-
This here is a Tragedy with very interesting characters, sword fights to balance out the love scenes, and actually a very satisfying ending! I read this to prepare the this orchestra semester where we will play the Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture by Tchaikovsky! It's very pretty, and I think that now I understand the story, I'll be able to put that much more into performance.

Tuesday, August 25, 2015

Once More Unto the Breach, Dear Friends

Orchestra season starts again tomorrow. TOMORROW! ONE DAY MORE!!!
Ahem. So all of this month, I eagerly anticipated the 26th like this, basically.
This is so wonderful! We're playing Romeo and
Juliet by Tchaikovsky, that totally makes up for
the Charles Ives!
Now that it's tomorrow... I feel more like this.
I really should've practiced the Charles Ives more studiously!!!
Oooohh. Savez-Moi!

So, here's what we're playing!
Junior Youth
La Folia
Romeo and Juliet: Masks, Capulets & Montagues
Danse Macabre (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
Romeo and Juliet Fantasy Overture (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!)
Charles Ives 2nd Symphony Finale (which end with a hideous chord. Boo!)
Vietnamese Folk Medley with Guest Musician on the Dan Tranh!

Monday, August 17, 2015

Anton Chekhov

So when I was taking Drama back in the Spring semester I thought about doing a monologue from Anton Chekhov's Uncle Vanya, so I read some of his work in preparation for the role. Well, I ended up doing Antigone instead because I found it more interesting and easier to pull off (so hard to be the unrequited love girl without sounding whiny!), but the Chekhov plays were still pretty interesting.
But I couldn't make heads or tails of them, so to me, dumb American teenager, this is what the plays kind of felt like to me.
Also, me and a friend read a scene, and I swear, the dialogue was exactly like this.

Yeah. No makey sense to me.

Friday, August 14, 2015

Righteous Classical Music: Finlandia by Jean Sibelius

We played this for orchestra a few years ago, and it was fun. Except for the mean sectionals coach who chewed me out whenever I pronounced in 'Fin-land-ee-ah', because it's correct pronunciation is 'Fin-LAHNDIA'. Pfft. Me and that sectionals coach aren't a good match. Good thing I recently learned how to adjust my attitude to avoid unnecessary conflict!
Where was I? Oh yeah! The music! Oops.
Finlandia is basically a love letter by Sibelius to his beloved homeland, Finland. (obviously). I think that's very sweet. Not only can you use music to profess your love of your home, but you can also show others through music the beauty of your homeland. I'd like to compose something like that someday about my home.
 The music is very turbulent in the first half, to reflect the struggle of the Finnish people throughout history. Interestingly, they had to change the name a few times to avoid Russian censorship!
I really enjoy all the brass and low strings at the beginning. They sound very intense, and it contrasts well with the tranquil middle half. :D

Next Up!: Pffft, probably something we're playing for the new orchestra semester!!!

Wednesday, August 12, 2015


Ahem, let me explain. XD I'm totally into Battlestar Galactica (we're going to finish it today, sniff!), and in Season 3 there's this colorful, circular, symbol called 'The Eye of Jupiter' that they think can lead them to Earth. So, being the uber nerds that we are, we made...
The Pie of Jupiter.

 Here's the one from the show...

 And here's ours!

Adama would rather nuke the Temple of Five than give the Cylons a taste of THIS pie! ;)

Friday, August 7, 2015

Weather is Cool

Wow. Last night was an epic thunder and lightning and rain storm, with lightning flashes so intense it looked clear as day for a whole second, and thunder claps that just kept on going, and going, and going.
And now we have a clear, blue sky with warm temperatures and a moderate breeze. I love the mood swings of west coast weather. XD

Wednesday, August 5, 2015

Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore by Robin Sloan [2012]

Haha, just the title to this book alone is enough to make me crack a grin!
After Crime and Punishment, this book was a really good way sort of come back from all the really dark themes and such.
Mr. Penumbra's 24 Hour Bookstore is about a man named Clay Jannon, who is a very techy fellow, but hasn't been able to hold onto a good job, despite the fact that he lives in the heart of tech country- San Francisco. So Clay grabs onto the first job he can get- the overnight shift at a very weird bookstore that's (you guessed it!) open 24 hours a day. Soon, weird people come and borrow books that are seemingly nothing but jumbles of letters taking up all the pages. It soon turns out though that Mr. Penumbra and these costumers are members of a secret organization seeking- well, I don't want to spoil it!
This book is narrated in the first person by Clay, and he's a really fun narrator! He's dorky, sarcastic, and actually very clever and intelligent when you get down to it! The pacing is good, the plot never drags, but it also doesn't feel rushed, either.
The Supporting Cast is also pretty good, though- I've noticed this with 1st person narration- they aren't as developed as the main character, and that's cool. Why? Because in a 1st person narration book, we only know as much as the narrator knows, and the narrator doesn't know all their inmost secrets. That being said, they are still very interesting and fun. I liked Kat, and of course, Mr. Penumbra himself! The plot goes in directions that you don't expect, and I really liked how all the loose ends (and more!) are neatly tied up at the end of the novel.
There are some interesting themes, too.  The most obvious one is the relationship between modern technology and regular, traditional books. I feel that by the end of the novel, the conclusion is agreeable and interesting.

The Verdict: A
So, this was a really delightful book! It's got everything a book nerd like me could want! A relatable protagonist who is relatable without feeling catered to a specific audience, a colorful ensemble of characters, snarky but not obnoxious writing, and a plot that grabs you by the throat and doesn't let go. Hooray!