Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Hurricane Sandy

THANK GOD IT'S OVER! I mean, Hurricane Sandy itself only lasted a couple days where I am, but the power-outages and all lasted a couple more.

The wind and rain was just freaky. The power first went out, I think, two days in. That was when without internet we would get bored.
Most of my time was spent editing videos and working on my dwarf book, BLADE RUST (which for now I will save for future blogs). At least having no access to the internet gave me time to work on some more productive projects like the two I just listed, along with reading the Appendices in The Lord of the Rings, and thinking about how repair/upgrade the atlatl I've been making with my dad.

If you don't know what an atlatl is, it's a very native hunting weapon like a boomerang or a bow. I learned about it from reading the BROTHERBAND Chronicles books. With it you shoot meter-long darts that look more like giant arrows. Rather than fire from a bow, you use a throwing stick that hooks into the back of the dart. And when you throw with the handle, it adds more force and power into it.
Of course, right now I can only think of the modifications to the weapon, like figuring out just the right way to make the darts, and of course to make a second throwing stick with a small platform at the bottom of the stick for the dart to rest on, so I can hold the handle with all of my fingers and it might add more force. I can only experiment for now.

I drove to GameStop today to look for the LEGO Lord of the Rings videogame (give me something to do that doesn't require the net or to just get out of the house). But because of the hurricane, delivery was slowed down or something. I think I'll get it for Christmas instead. At least it gives me another thing to look forward to.

The house runs on a generator when the power goes out, but we turn it off at night so that was hard to get used to at first with just one lantern lighting my room and the hallway. At least now, on Halloween, the power came back on and I have the ability to post my blog. I heard the power at Mont Co is back on, too. And just in time for me to go to a couple of good media classes where I don't have to wake up early.

Friday, October 26, 2012

Halloween Bash at Mont Co

I take off my plastic ring and HUNGER GAMES wristband, swapping the pentagram necklace for the Bronze Oak Leaf. I later get out of dad's truck with a camouflage cloak wrapped over my shoulders and carrying a heavy bag of candy. As soon as I walk in, there are a few people sitting at a table. Once I get to it, my friend Leyna comes out and answers when they ask if I'm in the drama club (responsible for the party). "So you don't have to pay." one of them says. So I didn't even need my five bucks and ID.
    Walking into the darkened cafe, I ask where I should put the bag of candy. Leyna puts it on top of a vending machine to serve as 'extra' in case the other stuff runs out. I don't see that happening, though. Its mostly cubed fruit, but there are also treats like soda and gum. I'm just glad there isn't any beer. If no one eats the candy, it's more for me then! :)

    I spend quite a bit of time leaning against the wall with my hood up, or at the snack table eating chips. I talk to a few of my other theatre class/drama club friends like Ryland, Dominic, and making one or two new friends. Like James with his wizard garb.
There's a DJ with the system and everything, playing lively beat music and getting everyone on their feet. Well, most of them. There isn't too big of a crowd until before nine PM, (I got here at quarter to eight, fifteen minutes before it was supposed to start) and then thing's get a bit crazy. Of course to some people, it would be considered normal. But to me, it's insane.

Dancing. Yeah, most of us get to our feet and went crazy. And when I say "us" and "our" I mean INCLUDING ME! Yeah, I actually do a lot of break-dancing (which I never ever ever ever ever ever thought I would EVER see myself do in a million years) during it. See, it started when I was talking with my friend Dominic saying I can barely dance except a couple things I've seen, and he said it was good. So when there's a bigger group, I just walk up there and join in, going crazy. I even incorporated a lot of my martial arts moves (like punches and high kicks in sync with the music). I even made up a few small dances like "The Ranger", "Gollum", and "Indiana Jones." With that one, I would wave my fist and say [in the beat of the song playing]: "I HATE SNAKES, JOCK! I HATE 'EM!" I think they enjoyed that.

When I was doing one of my kicks, 'SNAP/POP!' goes my leg. From the inside, I mean. Swearing angrily and quietly (at least, compared to the music blaring through the huge speakers), I limp back to a chair I had previously claimed next to Dominic, attempting to nurse my sore leg.
After a while, Leyna comes over and brings us both out on the floor. I do as much as I can, without bending my right leg too low. Of course I get worn out, hot and sweaty, (several times) which makes me take my cloak off a few times over the four hour duration of the party. When I sit down, I try to take as many good pictures as I can. (I couldn't get one of all of us in a 'conga line' which I really enjoyed, hence the reason I didn't take my camera out of my pocket)

 I did manage to get these, though :)

Me, Ryland, Leyna, and a few others sort of work together and try to get James to dance after finding him sitting on one of the couches. Not the best results (he barely moved) but at least we got him off his butt.

After all that at midnight, after a bunch of us have left, the lights come back on and I decide to hang around for a while with the remainders and pick some stuff up. I guess I just don't want to leave 'till the others do and then there's nothing to keep me here. I did help a bit, picking up the strings of lights and shoving them in a plastic bag. I think I felt my phone vibrate with a text, but I don't bother to look at it yet.
Not wanting to forget, I reach for the bag of candy on top of the machine. James helps me get it down, after which I take off my cloak and use to wrap/cover it up.

We are later told we all have five minutes to leave so I say "see ya" to my friends, who fortunately I will be reunited with on Monday for theatre class and drama club!

aw crap I just found out about Hurricane Sandy and classes are cancelled Monday and Tuesday. I don't have class on Tuesday anyway, but... UGH! But at least I have Intro to Theatre on Wednesday (if it doesn't end up cancelled too)

Sunday, September 16, 2012


On September 15th, 2012, I went on a cool trip I'm not gonna forget, to see the HOW TO TRAIN YOUR DRAGON Live Spectacular with the drama club.

    First, I was dropped off at the Pottstown Mont Co campus, and almost immediately met up with a few of my friends from the club and the few family members brought along for the ride. Twenty tickets had been available, but I think we had two extra cause two people bailed. I'm pretty sure...
    Anyway, we got on the shuttle bus parked right outside around four o'clock. We sat for a while 'cause a few of us ran late and we were supposed to wait till everyone was there. That already made it better than any random bus trip. The shuttle wasn't very big, maybe eight rows of seats on one side, so it was easier to interact with the others. That was key to more than half the trip, to tell ya the truth.
    See, it's about an hour ride from Pottstown to the Blue Bell campus, and then the same amount of time from there to the part of Philadelphia where the show was gonna be. And as college kids and immature (come on, let's be honest) for the most part, we needed to keep our minds occupied. So we would all just name a bunch of random/stupid topics and discuss, laugh, and just keep each other amused. It went on after we went to the Blue Bell campus to pick up a few others who were coming.
    The only really annoying part was, that thing in the back (behind the last row in my column of seats) that's apparently meant for handicaps, I don't know what it's called; for when someone in a wheelchair has to get on and off the bus-- anyway that thing and the rest of the shuttle would rattle loudly when we would hit a small bump, or pretty much anything. So we had to speak pretty loudly just to hear anything. None of us seemed to be the quiet type anyway, so it wasn't hard :)

    Now, we got to Philadelphia and parked around ten after six, and then it got confusing. About half of us went somewhere to eat, while me and the others went straight to the door of the huge building to get our tickets scanned. It was pretty crowded, so I'm glad I went with them.
   After the tickets, then it got kinda scary. The escalator we took to get to the section of the theatre where our seats were, it was so high. Literally, one gigantic lobby with two escalators and two extra stories on the left side.. So we were going up a three-story-high escalator. I had to shut my eyes just to avoid freaking out. I was relieved when we got to the top. We walked around the long hallway and balconies upstairs, seeing the city from there. When we found a doorway labeled 202 and 203, we walked through it and into the "theatre." Or should I say "stadium"?

    Yeah! It was so freakin' huge, and we were on the third level of seats. THE THIRD LEVEL! So we were incredibly high and it was scaring the crap out of me. I did pretty well of not showing it very much except saying a couple times calmly that the height scared me quite a bit. Ads played in lights at the base of the third level, and it would make me jumpy when they would switch between ads 'cause for about a second it would get dark and then bright again. Not all of us were in our seats right away so I was able to slip out and wander the upstairs 'lobby' for a while until about ten to seven o' clock. I made my way back to my seat and finally relaxed. Took a few minutes, though.. Especially when the show finally started.
   IT WAS INCREDIBLE! Ok, three quarters of the stadium were the seats, and the last bit was covered by black curtains and a giant screen. The floor was covered by a giant screen too, so it look like am Imax theatre or something. Besides the screen, the actors did a good job with the combat, weapons, and riding the dragons-- OH MY GOD THE DRAGONS! If you couldn't see the bases that were attached and making them move, you'd swear they were real. Pretty much every detail was exact in terms of how they all looked and sounded. I had never seen anything like it before, nor did I ever guess that I would. A bunch of people in the audience were taking pictures, so I took out my phone a few times to get some shots (unfortunately my phone takes really crappy pictures so I didn't have a lot of luck). There was a twenty-minute intermission around eight, and by then the huge windows were black and the lobby and halls looked a lot brighter 'cause of the darkness outside.
    After the show, we walked out of the stadium and most of us were together. The rest of us would meet at the bus later. Going back down the escalator was easy, and we just walked straight out and got back on the shuttle bus, taking our seats and waiting for the others. When they finally got on and were seated, the bus lights turned off and we could hardly see each other but we could see the lights outside, which actually made it a bit easier to see each other.

    The ride back, holy crap it was awesome. It was like the ride to the theatre, except we were even more obnoxious. A bunch of the things we talked about led to me and couple of the guys singing a bunch of random songs and making fools of ourselves, laughing like crazy and just being goofballs. The driver asked us to quiet down a little (twice, I think). One of the guys brought up an "Epic Rap Battles of History" video (on his phone) of Albert Einstein vs Steven Hawking, which we hovered over and listened intently. He was sitting behind me so I had to stand up and hang onto my seat.
    I remember at one point he said we actually look better in the dark, and we all laughed at that.
    It went on like that till we got back to the Pottstown campus between 11:30 and midnight. I just waited a minute or so until most of the others left 'cause I didn't wanna leave right away. But when I did, mom and dad were right there in the car. So I didn't have to sit around for another twenty minutes or so.
    Overall, it was one of the best theatre experiences I've ever had, and not I'm not just talking 'bout the show.

PS If I see the show again someday (I'm pretty sure I will), lower seats PLEASE!

Thursday, September 13, 2012

"I finally did it!"

I am sitting cross-legged on the gym mat floor. To my left is the wall painted like the American flag, and on the other side is a giant mirror. Directly in front of me is a table with a few candles, a pile of small rocks, and an incense burner. Thankfully it masks the smell of the SUBWAY on the other side of the wall.
    I am in the middle of the first row of many, maybe six or seven rows of three going down the gym. The rest of them who I see are barely older than twelve, some of them younger. Some of them are relaxed like me, but not many. Most of them are screwing around with the candles in front of them and making jokes. Don't get me wrong, I love jokes. But when it gets annoying and a bit disruptive, part of me says "Just don't get involved." But when they say something I actually find funny, I look over my shoulder to them and laugh or comment lightly.
    In front of each of us is a small plate with a little round candle, and for each of us, our Black Belts. To just look at mine and be that close to it is amazing. I have to grip my knees tightly just to resist grabbing it.

 At six, one of the instructors lights the other small candles laid out at the edges of the gym, and the ones in front of the other instructors sitting in front of the table. There are seven of them in a row, and Mr Morgan is in the middle, sort of facing me. The lights then go out, and the music player under the table (covered by white tablecloth) is playing a narration apparently by Haeng Ung Lee, the Eternal Grandmaster.

    My row of three is supposed to walk up to the instructors and we light our own candles by holding them to the instructors'. I light mine using Mr Morgan's, and I can feel my pulse pounding inside my head as I do it. It takes me a few tries and am sort of afraid I'll drop out or that it will go out before I go back to my spot. But when I sit back down with the lit candle, I am relieved.

   When it is over, Mr Morgan tells us to blow out our candles, and after a few moments, the first boy on my left is brought up to the front with his Black Belt. He takes his Red-Black Belt off and Mr Morgan ties on the black one. He says the boy's name, everyone claps, and then he shakes the instructors' hands before...

I am called up. Mr Morgan whispers a few congratulations to me while he ties on the belt, and asks if I'm gonna end up running the Pottstown school. Since I might as well, I say yes and then he says it to Mr Wolfel, one of the owners.

"First Degree Black Belt, Mr. Derek Bartlett."
   There is clapping, I shake a few hands, and I walk back to my spot. From a distance or up close, the Black Belts look bigger than colors belts, and that's cause they are. They're thicker by about half an inch, and maybe twice as long so you have to wrap it around once and then knot it. Mr Morgan tied it on very tightly around my stomach above my waist where I normally tie my belt on, so it takes me a minute to get used to that.
   One one end of my belt, my name DEREK BARTLETT is written in gold letters. On the other end I think it says "American Taekwondo Association" in Korean. When I watch the other kids get their (First Degree, and some others getting their Second Degree) Black Belts, I can't help but smile and help cheer them on. 'Cause that's what they need, motivation and encouragement.

  After we are all given our belts, Mr Morgan walks around giving each of us a stone. Not like any stone I have ever seen. I focus on the one in my hand, feeling it smoother than almost anything I've touched, and it has cracks in different places. Mr Morgan goes on to explain how it symbolizes the whole path we each took, learning Taekwondo. There have been smooth spots along the way and some rough ones, he says. And I couldn't agree with him more. But most of the stone is smooth, which is the way I have viewed it. Some rough spots, but it is worth it overall. The candles, we keep as well.
    Finally able to wear the belt that I have seen hanging on a wall in the lobby for nearly three years, it feels amazing (despite the fact that it's squeezing my stomach right now, lol). I've come this far, working hard. Here's my prize, and my ability to keep going with my training. I FINALLY DID IT! I'M A BLACK BELT NOW!

Saturday, September 8, 2012

Black Belt Testing Part I and II

PART I: The Fitness and Knowledge Test

It was nerve-wracking just getting there 'cause it was on a Thursday I had to miss one of my evening classes at Mont Co to get there. Thankfully I can always make it up later. Anyway, I had my uniform and gear bag in my mom's car so we could go straight to the Exeter school straight from campus. When we got there and I was able to change into my white uniform, the test(s) started in the gym/studio.

First: The knowledge test. They had two-page packets separated by thick binders so no one could see each others'. I was relieved to find out it was a written test instead of being asked the questions right then and there, 'cause you gotta answer in about a second. This time I could think a little. I was worried I had gotten about two of them wrong, but when I got it back, it was a hundred percent! :)

Second: The fitness test. There were five stations set up, each one being watched by a Black Belt, and they were all different. We were each supposed to carry a small piece of paper that the Black Belt at each station could write down how many of each exercise we did. The first station was crunches, which I liked. Now, the second was pushups. You had to go down low enough to make a pad squeak, or it didn't count as one. So i did about twenty-three, very painfully. The third station was punches on a pad, which I didn't mind except I was close to worn out and my knuckles were getting sore. No bruising or anything, though. The next station was kicks, and I was really getting worn out there. The last one was punches and kicks on a bag, and by the time I was done I was beat. Literally, when I had to slide myself over a few feet to move the line when more students went through the stations, I had to drag myself and then I'd fall in a heap. I'm so glad the rest of us were sitting instead of standing. The muscle pain was gone but I literally felt like a heap, my limbs little more than noodles and my head full of rocks.

After that we did a twenty-minute workout, and then we were dismissed after being told that the hard part was over. You have no idea how thirsty I was.

PART II: The Test

I didn't have college the next day (Friday) except in the morning, so I wouldn't have to miss anything. This time, my stomach was knotting for hours 'cause of the nerves, but I was thankful to just get it all over with. Ok, so here's how it went. Me and my parents go to the rec center where my other belt tests have been, and it was SO hot! I'm not joking, it was boiling and there were four giant fans set up. The only ay to get cooled off was to stand in front of one of them, or go downstairs to the basement where it was a bit chilly. At six when all the recommended Black Belts like me (and not to mention first, second and third degree Black Belts) were there, we were all lined up and then we all were put in a corner with our gear bags and the two wooden boards we were each given. They had our names written on them in black marker (they spelled mine wrong on one of them! It said Derrick B. instead) to not get mixed up, thank god.

The Black Belt tested, and it took a while cause there would be six of them on the floor at a time. Eventually, me and the other Red-Blacks tested for form and self-defense. When that was over, we all got our sparring gear on, which got us even MORE hot and sweaty. I was relieved when I finally got to spar against one of my friends from the Exeter school (I go to the Pottstown school, but in the summer last year I went to the Exeter for a while), 'cause I didn't wanna sit and stand around in line anymore.

We were dismissed from sparring and then the Black Belt tested for their board-breaks, which of course, involved real wooden boards. Me and the others sat on the floor watching, and for a bunch of the Black Belts, we clapped (and stomped, that "We Will Rock You" beat, which at one point I started by stomping with my feet and clapping) and cheered when the boards were successfully broken.

Finally, it was my turn. I handed the boards to both holders, readied myself, and then, CRACK! I split the first board clean through with my right forearm, and then I went to the other one to kick. Unfortunately I couldn't break it. But the cool thing is, those of us who couldn't break were given another chance after were were all done. So when I finally got to go again, my right foot shot straight through the wood, something I had never guessed would be possible for me.

I had never sweated that much in my life. We don't get our new belts until some ceremony on Thursday, and thankfully we don't need our weapons/gear bags. It's at six, ("Of all days of the week, WHY THURSDAY?!") so I will need to make that up, too. It shouldn't be too hard. Plus, the hard part is over, so I'm ready.

Wednesday, August 29, 2012

First Day of College at Mont Co.

    When I got in the car this morning with my heavy backpack, I was nervous about starting college because I was afraid of how much different it would be from high school. But now, the reality is that so far it's not that difficult to get by, unless you have a massive schedule, which I don't.

    I went into the art building, trying to keep up my confidence. hardly anyone was there, but the classroom I was supposed to go to was unlocked and I was the first student there, for Introduction to Theater. I put my backpack in a chair and waited outside the room for class to start, and more students came every few minutes or so until 8:40. When class finally started, there were about a dozen of us and a few of us showed up late. I didn't know anyone there except a girl named Leyna who gave a tour of campus during orientation. It was interesting to get to know some of the other students and the teacher, Krista Apple ("Just call me Krista," she said) who was really nice. After a bit of a lecture, she had us imagine a world atlas on the floor and stand on it, at the points where our family tree goes. I just picked New York since I was born in Syracuse. Some of the other students mentioned their family trees going back to Ireland, Africa, and one girl saying she was related to Pocahontas. I mentioned my relation to Captain Miles Standish, and Krista ended up mentioning our ancestors probably met or something, that got us all laughing a little. Then we stood on part of the "map" that our favorite stories were. I picked Europe cause Middle Earth was meant to be a type of world similar to that as far as I've heard.

After First Class
    During the ten-minute break between classes, (I left my backpack and denim jacket in the room 'cause my next class was in there) I ran into Tim Gallagher (my 12th grade English teacher Joe's brother) and told him about the movies I had my teacher in, and he laughed a lot at that. Looks like those two will have something to talk about later, huh? :) I also saw some of my friends from high school, which really made me feel good.
    My study skills class was ok. First we each filled out a sheet that had stuff like "three words that describe you" or "name an experience that changed your life" and "where do you see yourself in ten years?" It wasn't exactly boring but not that cool. At least it's something else useful if not as interesting. I don't know, maybe it will help.

Break Time
    After my two classes were done, I went to the other building into the cafeteria to take a break and eat lunch. Not many people were in there so I ate a little and went to the library so I could read the amount I was supposed to for my study skills class.
    After I finished reading, I went back to the cafeteria to find it mostly crowded, which I was relieved to see. In fact I took my theatre book out and read the first chapter there. See, the problem I have a lot when I read assigned stuff like this is I have a ton of racket going on inside my head and I have to block it out with "real noise." So I sat down at a table and read before eating more and socializing.

Social Life
    I did quite a bit of socializing. In fact, at the table right next to mine sat a costumed girl in red white and blue polka dots who gave me a flyer for the drama club when I asked "What up with the dots?" I looked it over and thought it was interesting. I saw Leyna and two other students (Scott and Sharii, I think) who were dressed like Vikings walking around the cafe handing out flyers as well. And apparently the Viking garb is in spirit for the How to Train Your Dragon live show that has been out for a while and I've been dying to see it. On the flyer it said that they're going to see it on the fifteenth, so that sounds like a lot of fun. Anyway, I signed up for the drama club (!!!!!!!!!!!!!!!) and the students nearby seemed happy about that, giving me a lot of positive comments about it saying we have fun, and I think they are planning a 24-hour lock-in which sounds awesome. I'll have to see how it goes after the first club meeting.

(PS) I asked Sharii if anyone from the club has ever thought to bring a camera and make a short film, and the others seemed to like that idea. Not confirmed of course, but it's a possibility that would make sense, being surrounded by actors.


Sunday, August 26, 2012

Archery Upgrades

Since it's been getting cooler bit by bit these last few days, I've found more time to go outside (in the evening, too hot during the day) and shoot my recurve bow. I also went to Dick's Sporting Goods and got a few upgrades, mostly meaning my gear.

First, there's this. My new quiver, designed on the inside to keep arrows from falling out, and it has a screw-on lid. The whole thing is made of two tubes, one of which you can adjust to fit any arrow length. This will come in handy someday when I have a longbow, because I will need arrows that are both longer and heavier.

Two new arrows that I bought because I was missing a few. But hey, archers replace their arrows all the time.  A word of advice. Get bright colored arrows like these when you can, because there is a smaller chance of losing them if you are shooting on a grassy lawn like I always am (there aren't any archery ranges I know of nearby, and my three acres are big enough)

New arm-guard, and the only comfortable one I have ever seen. It fits like a glove, feels like a sock, and actually covers my arm unlike the strip of leather I've strapped to my arm (and get a bad itch) several times before.

Look closely at this, and tell me what you see...

HA! Seriously though, I hit the tree by accident. See, I shoot at a hay bale with a target spray-painted onto it, and somehow the arrow skipped off the top and sort of jumped out of the way into the tree. Crazy, huh? That this is a way-out-of-the-way tree, about thirty feet away from the target. And as you can probably tell, I couldn't resist taking a few pictures.

I also taught my mom how to shoot yesterday. The day before, she said she wanted to learn how, and I let her use my first bow with three of my longest arrows. I watched the technique and all the little details, which make the biggest difference when shooting arrows. I've never taught anyone how to shoot before, so this is definitely something new. As it gets cooler out, I'll be shooting more often and getting more practice in.

Monday, August 20, 2012

Getting Outside to Shoot

Kind of ironic that in the summer I am not into going outside, well because its too hot out. But today is different. Today was actually a good day to get outside and enjoy the fresh air. About time, too.
I picked up my recurve bow and walked down the street, maybe a mile (I've never exactly measured it) to hang out with my twelve year old cousin Caius for the afternoon. he had his compound bow, which has a fierce draw weight.

    After I got there, we set down the bows and arrows to go for a joy ride in the truck that is still in good enough condition despite it being over thirty years old.I'm telling ya, Caius can really drive that thing. going fast, over bumps (just in the gigantic yard, duh), etc until finishing after a few minutes.

    After getting out of the truck, we shot our bows, aimed at a hay bale positioned in the yard. the only problem was that a couple times his cat Rocket would walk nearby and Caius had to get him to leave. But I'd say we're doing better. I picked up a way to aim and hold the bow by seeing THE HUNGER GAMES and from watching the Olympic archers with my uncle in New York. I held the end of the arrow to my jaw with the bowstring next to my nose, positioning the arrow point exactly where I wanted it to land. After releasing it, it came out as a pretty good shot. Now all I need is more practice.

    On my walk back home I ran into my friend Hali on the road and chatted for awhile. It always feels good to see my high school friends, which I am hoping to do a bunch of times this year and after.

    A few hours after getting home I decided to practice some more since it was getting cool enough in the evening. So I picked up my stuff and walked out into my own yard, shooting the same way at the hay bale I spray-painted a black and orange target onto last Halloween. I'm definitely getting better, but again I just need more practice. Now that I actually know how to aim a bow, I don't have to do as much experimenting as I have since I was sixteen. And hopefully it'll keep getting cooler over the next few weeks and I can get outside more without dying of the heat.

    Another good sign is I'm actually getting some muscle pain in both my arms and little bruises on my fingers. Normally wouldn't sound like good news, but it means I'm doing it right. So all I need left is practice

Saturday, August 11, 2012

Freshman Orientation and Summer 2012 Movies

I'm putting my flash-drive and journal memoirs away for now, at least until I start my college freshman year at Mont Co. But I guess I can use my blog to update on the cool stuff. Its kind of odd that right after I stop updating my 'journal', the cooler stuff starts to happen.

For instance, I went to freshman orientation and found one of my friends from elementary/middle school who I haven't seen since! I hung out with him most of the time while paying as much attention as I could to what the professors were saying, but it's not easy to when the lectures go on and on, you know? I stuck around for a small campus tour afterward despite it being two small buildings, since I figure it'd be better to have a feel for the place in advance.

Last week I went with my family of four to see THE HUNGER GAMES at the $2 Carmike Cinemas, it being my fourth time seeing it an my dad's first (he never read the books like me, my mom and sister did). A few days later, I went by myself to the new Carmike in Pottsgrove to see Diary of a Wimpy Kid 3: DOG DAYS, and you'll never guess what... NO ONE WAS THERE (except for maybe two employees hangin' around)! I had the lobby and auditorium to myself until a few more people showed up. And what happened about halfway through the movie, well... The power went out! Yeah, the screen blinked, the lights dimmed and brightened up, and then an employee came in and said they'd have it working again. I could hear the rain pound and the thunder outside. Thankfully it got fixed.

Also, for a few days now me and my cousin Caius have been working on preproduction of a movie called JINXFLINGER, about two wizards. We just started writing the script and I've been working on my costume. I need to measure Caius before I can do his, so I have to wait. Both of us are gonna star, direct and edit this movie, which is exciting since we wan this one to be over an hour. I bet this'll be our best film yet, and we've made quite a few already.

Sunday, June 24, 2012

My first time in New York City

Last night I got back from a New York trip with my mom and big sister to see THE LION KING. I kept a notebook in my pocket the whole way and kept track of as much as possible. We took a bunch of pictures as well. To make my blog a bit more interesting I decided to put what I wrote in my notebook. It came out near eleven pages but that thing is small. So I can't tell how long it is, but either way, why not?


7:18 AM
We just got to the 'bus stop' about 40 minutes early. We've been listening to THE LION KING soundtrack on the way here. Well, not the whole way. Kaitlin turned on the radio first thing, and it was somehow on the 'Asia' station. A song called "Heat of the Moment" blared on, and we spent the time laughing, pointing and cocking our heads. The song had played in the episode of SUPERNATURAL we just watched last night, so "What are the odds?" I said.

7:31 AM
We just went through (what used to be) an old diner for bus tickets and are in some blank and ancient waiting room. Bit by bit people come in, and there are only 3 benches and 1 small candy machine in a corner. The room isn't 'big' but its big enough to hold more benches for people to sit on. More people are coming in as well. I just hope it doesn't get too crowded and the bus doesn't run late.

8:11 AM
Three buses pulled in: 1 for Philly, 2 for NYC. We got on the big bus, me sitting at the window with Kaitlin next to me and mom opposite. Its chilly now but it's supposed to be about 85 later. So, I like it.

9:31 AM
After passing so many trees and plain roads, we're on highways surrounded by construction, dumpy abandoned buildings and we've been on bridges. Mom pointed in my direction and I looked out the window. "That's incredible." I said, seeing an amazing view of New York City, just minutes away. So many tall buildings, more than i can count. God knows I'm gonna have plenty of stories to tell after today. New Jersey train is visible, parallel to the bus. I think that's the train my friend Hannah went to NYC in before. I'll have to mention it.

9:53 AM
The bus stopped in a parking garage darker than the tunnel we just got out of. After getting off, we walked through a station that looked mostly like an underground mall.

10:59 AM
Ok. Now that I've settled, I can recount following events. After getting out of the station, we came out to a large crowded street, buildings so high that just looking at the tops made me dizzy. Amazed, I took a bunch of video clips with the camera. We walked through Times Square and into a a huge three-story M+M store. There was a lot of themes merchandise, and tall glass tubes holding SO MANY colors of the candy. The tubes ran up to the third (and smallest) floor. I took a picture from there to show how high up we were. After walking out, we went across the street to a Hershey store. Now, what got my attention were the huge $40 Hershey bars, "world's largest." After going with Kaitlin to a music store called Colony, and settling by a large fountain while mom and Kaitlin ate bagels, I looked around wondering "What next?" The city is amazing and there's so much to see. I don't know what to do next.

12:12 PM
Ok, right after that stop, we walked down the street till we came to a huge toy store called FA-O-Schwartz. It, on the inside, was enormous. After walking past the huge stuffed animals, a small set of steps led to a wide assortment of candy, including boxes of NERDS the size of cereal boxes and fish-bowl style containers of stuff like rock candy and Starbursts. On the next floor, there was a shelf of Harry Potter stuff like LEGOs and scarves. nearby, HUNGER GAMES figures, dog tags and shirts. Just less than 20 feet away was a hallway filled with stuffed animals of all sizes, and past it was a section with different types of rocks. Some of those rocks even went on necklaces. Past that, it was the best. The big floor piano that you play with your feet is, as I've just found out, where Big was filmed with Tom Hanks. Walking by it led to a while section of LEGOs. I recognized and pointed out most of them, and saw the new Lord of the Rings sets. "When the video game comes out, that's all I'll be doing for days." I said. After we headed out, it seemed like we'd been in there forever. Just a short way down the street came Central Park, where I sit and write now.

1:47 PM
After resting on a bench, we wandered the park. And let me tell ya, the rocks are AWESOME! It was more like a small mountain, with a dirt trail around it. Mom and Kaitlin to the easy way and went up the trail. I climbed up the jagged side and then down the other after meeting them at the top. Later, we took pictures on a stone bridge above a big pond, and made it down the trail to an even bigger rock! Yeah, I looked at the sides and found one just hard enough to challenge me. Once I got to the top, Kaitlin took a few pictures and I took another tricky way down the rock. We left after getting water and lemonade (Kaitlin) and walking to a McDonald's. Unfortunately, it was way crowded and we only had a half hour left before the show. So we got our food to go and high-tailed it. We got to the theater and stood in the shade, eating as much as possible.. We didn't finish (at least I didn't) but then after chucking the rest, we walked in and took pictures of the posters. Ahead was a wide set of doors where bags were checked, and then two escalators with a wide set of velvet-covered stairs. We ran up the stairs. MUCH FASTER. After using the restroom fast, I was tempted to take pictures of the decor, but I didn't want to risk it before the show. Me, mom and Kaitlin went into the theatre through a nearby door, found our seats and settled. The curtain has a cool design on it, and we got some good seats on the ground floor (other section of seats suspended above).

3:25 PM
So far, the show is breathtaking. For the first song I was lightly crying, it was so good. Its so cool seeing all the African detail and culture, the props, and pretty much everything else is amazing, almost too amazing. The stampede scene was made intense, and the funny characters like hyenas were done perfectly. When Act 1 was over, me, mom and Kaitlin went to the souvenir stand and got two yellow t-shirts (big lion symbol) and went back to our seats. What I seriously can't wait for is to see how the second half looks. 

6:10 PM
Ok, back up to Act 2. It was an amazing spectacle. There were all kinds of stage effects to make stuff like lightning flashes and clouds looked realistic. It was a bummer to have it end, but we gave a good standing ovation when the cast gave their bows. After the show, we went past the counters, took pictures of the displays and then left the building. It took me a minute or so to get used to the sunlight after being in a dark theatre, but it was nice and breezy out so it wasn't too hard. By Kaitlin's suggestion we wet to Cold Stone, and she recommended to me ice cream with peanut butter and crushed REESE'S CUPS. It was delicious for my first order at any Cold Stone. I didn't finish it, though. Hey, it filled me up quickly. After ice cream, we went back to the station, "Goodbye New York City," Kaitlin said. Well, we had time to kill, so we looked around in a bookstore, Kaitlin got a smoothie, and now we're here, waiting with a bunch of other people to get on the bus.

6:54 PM
We're finally on the bus, its moving and we're going home. Its still light out, but it won't be when i get through all the videos and photos at home.

After going through all the photos and videos, cutting them together with music from the show, I was able to make this in less than 24 hours.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Fun with Beaded Bracelets and Necklaces

OK, lets see... before my graduation, my big sister got back from a trip to Africa, during which time she learned how to make bracelets with fishing line and beads. She taught me how and we've both made a bunch of 'em. Pretty much each one I've made relates to a part of me, so I don't make them randomly.

This is my first beaded necklace, which I just made today. I've gone through a bunch of strings and chains to go with this "Airbender" dog tag (first one I ever made), and now this one fits perfect.

 The one on the left is ny newest bracelet, made to represent my prequel series to Darastrix Arcaniss, called BLACK VAEX. On the right is my first beaded bracelet, made with camouflage colors and a leaf to represent Ranger's Apprentice, one of my all-time favorite book series.

(top) Water Tribe, and (bottom) "Airbender"

This is Fire, to look like something worn by a Pyromancer (a.k.a. a Fire Wizard) in the online game Wizard101.

These are really fun to make so i would recommend it (along with reading a book) to anyone who just needs something to do when they're bored.

Wednesday, May 23, 2012

Film Festival 2012

    Just a short time ago I came home from the OJR film festival. This is the eighth one, and the second one i've been to. I went to last year's because I had still been trying to figure out if I was going to take video production, and I liked the films a whole lot. They were well-done by the students and I was excited to in the future be one of them.
    Unfortunately, none of the four films I entered git in. But I can't say I'm surprised seeing as I only took one semester of class. But hey, these other students have been doing it their whole high school lives and I made it into the running with "Oscar the Pig Interviews." I told myself I'd go whether my films get in or not, and I enjoyed it. I told myself this last year, in fact.
    A select few of the films were scary/dramatic, but most of them ridiculous/funny/comedic/made me want to burst out laughing. It's a good thing I noticed the dvds sold in the lobby or I'd forget some of them or rely on the students to put them on YouTube. But not this time. This time I bought a dvd with the films on it, and I do not regret this since it was only five bucks and the films are really good. I should have gotten one of these anyway since this is the year i graduate.
    Wish this year to end soon, I do not. But I don't intend on thinking about that too much or it will end sooner than I think. Making the best of it is all I can do, and its what I will do. I hear we get yearbooks next week, and hopefully soon in the middle of June I can get my "2012 Seniors" documentary done and posted. A lot of my friends who were in it are excited to see the results, and I can't wait to show it to them. In the editing process, it looks great so far. So I'm really itching to put it up and see what they think.

    I'm not sure what else there is to say, other than I recommend Video Production for Owen J. Roberts students, 'cause its really good. At least the first class is (I can't tell the other ones 'cause i didnt get a chance to take them). Talk to y'all later! :D

Sunday, May 6, 2012

"Fly by too fast, this year has."

    On August 29th 2011, when I was seventeen years old, I walked into the school saying to myself "It's good to be back." Now it's May 6th, I've been eighteen for nearly two months and I've done so much this year, more than I could have expected then. Directed and edited over half a dozen short films, four of which have been entered for the Film Festival and one of them is a trailer adaptation to my book series, Darastrix Arcaniss. I've taken a great acting class and in doing so I have met some of the best friends I've ever had and ever will. I even made a music video about our good times in "Drama and Theater 1" in thanks!
    I've read and seen THE HUNGER GAMES (saw the movie four times, once with just one friend), made my own camouflage cloak for Halloween and hiking in the woods, and recently attended Post Prom again like last year, pulling my second all-nighter.
My best video blog by far is the one that talks about post prom. I swear it was one of the best days/nights of my senior year, and I'll never forget it or my junior post prom either.
    The first day of senior year feels like just over a week ago. Now the year's nearly over and I'll be graduating in a month. I really wish it didn't have to end so soon, but I guess everyone's has to. After I get through college, I will hopefully get into film and turn my books into movies. That I have to look forward to, and starting at the beginning of this year I've aspired to be a good filmmaker.

    In fact I've already started making an actual script. Yeah, I researched script format and I'm using it to start it. I bet it will turn out great when it's done. It's my dream, to create "the next big thing." I just hope that I can.
    But I'm trying not to look too far ahead, know why? Otherwise I'll lose sight of what I've got now, and I love seeing my friends at school too much to risk that, with the little time we've got left. I intend to make it all count and So Far I've managed to make this year the best of my entire life.

Friday, April 6, 2012

My Camouflage Quiver is finally done!

    OMG! Today I finished making my quiver. Yeah, it took forever 'cause the old sewing machine kept getting jammed, but eventually I got it, and it looks great. I'll have to try it out next time I go outside to do some target practice.
    I don't know when my "Thirteen Dwarves" drawings will be put up, 'cause I haven't had a chance to work on them. After I'm finished my films and entering the school Film Festival, I should have time to draw them then. I can't just plainly do it at school or something 'cause I need time and a photo to draw from. I have gotten most of them, though. They came out just about as good as the one I posted of Thorin. The rest of the ones I haven't drawn yet are where it gets REALLY tricky with the braids in the beards. Yeah I suck at drawing braids, so I really need to figure this out. But it will happen sooner or later.
    The film I'm making based on my Darastrix Arcaniss book series is nearly done. I've done just about all the editing except for a few minor points that my instincts tell me to fix. Kind of like one of those look-and-find books you look at when you're a little kid, I'm trying to find all the errors in this film and fix them. In a way, editing is easier and harder than it looks and sounds. Especially with the software i got for my 18th birthday. Wish me luck! :)

Saturday, March 10, 2012

My 18th Birthday :) omg

    I can't believe that today is my eighteenth birthday. oh god, I seriously don't feel like a legal adult, which is probably 'cause i rarely act my age. But I'm proud of it. Ok, where do I start? My family went to the movies to see THE LORAX, which was a really heartfelt and funny movie. In fact, i was so drawn into it that i actually forgot that it was my birthday until we walked out of the theater. Crazy, huh?
    Oh and you'll never guess what I did to my sister Kaitlin at home.

“Ooh, I want to try something.” I said to myself. I pulled off my jacket and slid myself behind the couch. Turns out I can still fit my skinny body back there, like I used to in middle school.
            When Kaitlin was close by, I waited, and then…
            I wriggled the upper half of my body out from behind the couch, laughing so hard and apparently loud. I could barely speak.
            “You… should’ve… seen your face!” I laughed.
            “You should see your face.” Kaitlin said. “It’s very red.”
What else… oh yeah. I love books. I got the first two MERLIN books and the next two DIARY OF A WIMPY KID books I need to read before the next film comes out. I also got THE INVENTION OF HUGO CABRET (i really want to see that movie but i should read the book first to see how i like it) and the movie companion for THE HUNGER GAMES. I also got the STAR WARS prequels and PUSS IN BOOTS DVDs. Dad got me the Adobe Elements editing software, and my awesome sister got me a HUNGER GAMES t-shirt. Yeah it’s black, the Mockingjay symbol on fire is on the front, and on the back behind the collar it says ‘MAY THE ODDS BE EVER IN YOUR FAVOR’.

Tomorrow I'm going to see JOHN CARTER with one of my buddies and do a bit of filming, so I've got that to look forward to. So overall, good weekend.

Thursday, March 1, 2012

'Being almost 18' and The "DARASTRIX ARCANISS" casting search continues...

Hi it's me again, welcome to my new blog. OK i have some good news and bad news. Good news i got more than half of the trailer adaptation to my books filmed, edited, and i picked and added the music. It looks good so far, i guess. But there's still one major hole i need to fill, otherwise i can't finish it. I NEED SOMEONE TO PLAY GYWNA! One of the two main characters in the book series needs to be played in this film by somebody, and I've had 'not the best' luck with it. Seriously, how hard can it possibly be? I've already made the weapons and picked out the locations for shooting, which are within easy walking distance. All i need is the last cast member.
i attached my first sketch of the character, if it helps. She's described through the series as a slightly bleached girl with pointed ears. Obviously we humans don't have pointy ears so that doesn't matter. If anyone reading this wants to do it, let me know. I need to get this stuff filmed as soon as possible so i can get the editing done before the end of March. Filming can be done in an afternoon, maybe two, depending on how things go.
Character description: Gwyna is the daughter of Gwynon, King of the mountainous kingdom called Munton (moon-tuhn). Her father led armies in the first war three years ago and she was put in a safe house until it ended. In the safe house she met her first friend, Tajarin, who she grew to care for a lot. In the present time, she goes to visit him but ends up held hostage by the Jade Dragon and tortured on Dragonhorn Mountain. But one day she uses her wits and escapes, slipping away almost completely undetected and finds Tajarin in Munton, making plans to stop a war soon to come. The two of them team up and travel to Dragonhorn with the help of some friends, and the war ends when the Jade is killed.
I hope this seems interesting. And the film is going to look like a movie trailer when it's done and i have model dragons that i've gotten to work with. I only need the Gwyna shots to film now.

In other news, i've made and posted several music videos for some of my favorite songs and movies, like (in no particular order here)
1. The Hobbit- Long Live
2. The Hobbit- Me and my Gang
3. Neverland- Good Enough
4. Neverland- Son of Man
and my newest one...
5. Anakin and Padme- "Enchanted"
My favorite ones i think are the ones with "Good Enough" and "Enchanted." I love how they came out.

OH MY GOD! TODAY IS MARCH FIRST! ONLY NINE MORE DAYS TILL I TURN 18!!!!!!! :) :) :) :) Sometimes I look at myself the way i was when i started high school and then the way i am now, thinking 'wow, i've really changed.' Next thing, i'll be graduating. Can't say i'm not gonna miss seeing everyone at OJR every day. Thankfully we senior still have some time left to make count, and that's what i intend to do. I'm not going to waste one precious moment this year, and i'm going to try my hardest to get a couple of my films into the festival. Even if they don;t get in, i'll be glad i tried. But i need to keep going.