Earth Day

“Sunshine is delicious, rain is refreshing, wind braces us up, snow is exhilarating; there is really no such thing as bad weather, only different kinds of good weather.”

~John Ruskin

Today, for those of you who didn’t know, was Earth Day. In honor of Earth Day I decided to dig up some old photos that really show how beautiful our world really is. I hope you enjoy!

 

Our planet is beautiful, it really is. I hope that these pictures can remind all of you that we should take care of our home, it’s the only one we’ve got. So take some tome off today to enjoy it. Log off, and enjoy nature. Go for a walk, head down to the closest beach/lake/river and take a swim, or just find somewhere quite to sit for awhile. Take it in and relax.

Happy Earth Day guys!

“To me a lush carpet of pine needles or spongy grass is more welcome than the most luxurious Persian rug.”

~Helen Keller 

AP Testing: Blackmailing Teenagers

“When you are older, the quizzes, the tests, will all mean nothing. The SAT and ACT test students on how well they can take a test, how well they can memorize useless vocabulary. You will always have access to a calculator and if need it be, you can always find equations on Google. When you go out into the real w0rld, that’s when you will really learn what’s important.”

~Frank Thong

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So we’ve been preparing for AP testing for the past few weeks. Most of my teachers have been giving us practice problems/tests/essays so we will do well. But here’s a question: why are we even taking the AP’s in the first place?

Now, I understand that the AP tests are meant to see if we have actually payed attention to what’s been going on, if we’ve actually learned anything. It’s how we qualify for college credit, which is fine. I get that. What I don’t understand is why some AP teachers force their students to take the tests.

Take, for example, my AP US Government teacher. Now, at my school we only take one semester of Government and one semester of Economics regardless if they are AP or not. On the first day of school my AP Gov. teacher told us that we were going to take the AP Gov. test even though we wouldn’t be in his class during that time. If we didn’t, our Econ. teacher would administer a huge 100 question Gov. test that would affect our grade in Econ. But, if we were to take both the AP Econ. and Gov. tests, we would be exempt from the 100 question test and would get either: a) 100/100 or b) our grade would not be affected at all.

Now, normally I would be okay with this. Except, these tests cost $89 each. Meaning I have to pay $178 to take both tests. I know I can’t really cry about them being too expensive, if it really comes to it financial aid will take care of it. What I can complain about is the the fact that my classmates and I were just blackmailed into taking a test.

“Do it or suffer consequences,” consequences being a (most likely) negative impact on our grade. That’s the very definition of being blackmailed, or am I wrong? Blackmailing is illegal, its ethically wrong, and yet teachers all over the US are telling their students this.

I don’t know about some of my classmates, but I don’t take AP courses just to get college credit. In fact, while that may be a perk, the only reason I do it is because I like the challenge. I’ve been in CP (regular) English and I ended up learning nothing because I already new what my teacher was teaching me. My major in college is going to be International Business, so taking Econ was not only practical but very interesting to me. Learning about politics is important to me as well, I’m going to be voting in the next election and I like being well informed before making my voting decisions.

I didn’t do it to take some test.

Okay, maybe I’m being a little extreme but my point still stands. Teachers shouldn’t force their students to take AP tests. It’s unfair to students who are taking AP’s for reasons other than college credit and application fluffing. And to be honest it can really turn students off of a subject. What does that tell you about the teacher? Does it mean they really care about mentoring and educating students? Or do they have ulterior motives?

The Creative Menagerie

 

“Creativity can release you from the limitations that the world has constructed around you; the everyday, mundane, 9-5 jail cell where everybody is waiting for the weekend to party so they can get outside of their head.”

~Robert LaSardo

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My dad introduced me to a new online magazine (I’d call it more of a blog with multiple contributors) called Bored Panda. It’s very interesting and I suggest checking it out. Anyway, I found a ton of creative and innovative articles. Here are just three I came across.

1. 22 Creative Kids’ Room Ideas That Will Make You Want To Be A Kid Again

If some of these don’t make you wish you could redecorate your room then you must have a really awesome room already, or you have no sense of creativity!

2. Fairytales Come To Life In Papercut Light Boxes by Hari & Deepti

These awesome paper cutouts look amazing when they’re lit up and it’s dark. If you look at some of them when there’s nothing illuminating them, they look like they’re just made up of glue and printer paper (though, I’m not actually sure about that).

3. Mind-Bending 3D Beach Art By NZ Artist Jamie Harkins

This guy, Jamie Harkins, creates these amazing pieces of art that sadly gets washed away when the tide comes in. Still, I’m sure the people who pass these by still enjoy his art while they can.

George Orwell: What Makes 1984 so Intresting?

“Writing a book is a horrible, exhausting struggle, like a long bout of some painful illness. One would never undertake such a thing if one were not driven on by some demon whom one can neither resist nor understand.”

~George Orwell

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My classmates and I started George Orwell’s 1984 this week.

I’ll be the first to admit that I disliked Animal Farm when I read it two years ago. It was an easy read but I found it boring and I wasn’t to fond of the animal metaphor. I was pretty dubious to begin 1984 but much to my surprise I found that, once I started reading, I couldn’t put it down.

But why?

I’ve pondered quite a long about what makes 1984 so different from Animal Farm and have drawn to one conclusion. It reads like modern literature.

It’s actually quite funny, I never bothered looking at the original publish date of the book until I went to my dentist to get my teeth cleaned. He saw I was reading 1984 and mentioned that he had read the same book when he was in High School back in the 50’s. I thought this book was published 20 years ago, tops. Turns out, it was published in 1949.

1949. That means it’s 65 years old.

That fact really surprised me. I haven’t really read many books from that era, but when I think about the 1940’s (as that was the time it was written) I don’t think of dystopian novels. I think of “How to: being a good mother,” “Children, and why you should have them,” “1001 Jello recipes for hungry tot’s,” or something like that. Regardless, it made me think of all the books (sans Shakespeare)  that I’ve enjoyed over my high school career and I realized that they all read like modern lit.

But what makes new style literature so interesting?

I don’t actually have a solid answer for that but I do have a hypothesis.

I think that in this day and age, with our ever changing dictionary of text speak and made-up words (such as “selfie,” and, I beg, someone please tell me who the hell added that into the dictionary) it makes book’s such as Hamlet or Othello harder to read and things such as 1984 and The Count of Monte Christo easier to read. And in this day and age, where the only book that is read daily is Facebook and no one knows what a hard copy dictionary is, it makes kids enjoy reading 1984 over Othello any day of the week.

Heart of Art

“I found I could say things with color and shapes that I couldn’t say any other way – things I had no words for.”

~Georgia O’Keeffe 

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Untitled by Alexsvartengle

 

This week has been a long and exhausting week so I’m doing another art post. I was going to write about Heart of Darkness, but I just don’t have the energy. Our production of Young Frankenstein has it’s opening night in less then a month and I’ve been staying late to work on it. Sorry everyone!

I can say, however, that the art I am posting is inspired by the sober and darker tone that the book seems to envelop the reader with.

 

My thanks and links to the following artists:

Untitled by Alexsvartengle

Distorsiones De La Perception by Raynner Gil

So Long, pt. 2 by Tesener

Forever Lost by Richard George Davis

Take the Soul of Me by Mezamero

Fake Freedom 2 by Jounetsunoakai

Anthropization by Alexsvartengle

Fear of the Dark by Arbebuk

The ‘Top 5 Funniest Movies’ Poll

“You can turn painful situations around through laughter. If you can find humor in anything, even poverty, you can survive it.”

~Bill Cosby

Funny-ScaleWe were watching a comedy in English the other day and it made me wonder: what makes something funny? Is it because of person who is telling the jokes or it the situation itself?

I wouldn’t know. I’m not funny at all.

I can, however, appreciate humor and all it has to offer us. So, this post will be dedicated to the top 3 funniest movies (according to a poll I conducted among my classmates in Theatre 4).

 1. Rush Hour 2

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2. The Hangover

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3. Monty Python and the Holy Grail

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Runner up: The Intouchables

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I’m pretty sure if I had taken this poll in any other class, these would not be the top 3 movies. Plus I know for a fact most people haven’t watched The Intouchables even though they should (it’s a great movie). But, this was the general consensus for my Theatre 4 class and we tend to stray from the “norm” of society.

Heart of Darkness: Description

“And if it is for your comfort to pour your darkness into space, it is also for your delight to pour forth the dawning of your heart.”

~Kahlil Gibran

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So recently, we started reading Heart of Darkness by Joseph Conrad. It’s an interesting book, a story within a story, but what I think I find the most striking is the language he uses. There’s something poetic about it, something dark. Before even opening the book we know this is not going to be a happy story, just look at the title, there is always a constant undertone of something ominous and sombre. But I think that’s what draws some people to Heart of Darkness, it’s definitely a big part of why I liked it. Then again, I’m a total description fanatic.

One of the most important parts of being a writer is being able to paint a picture inside your reader’s head. To do that you need to use description, or descriptive words. Over the years I’ve come to appreciate certain description words. Paltry. Jaded. Lackluster. Words that make a story into something real.

A great example of a “descriptive writer” is Erich Maria Remarque and his book All Quiet on the Western Front.

“But most beautiful are the woods with their line of birch trees. Their colour changes with every minute. Now the stems gleam purest white, and between them airy and silken, hangs the pastel-green of the leaves; the next moment all changes to an opalescent blue, as the shivering breezes pass down from the heights and touch the green lightly away; and again in one place it deepens almost to black as a cloud passes over the Sun. And this shadow moves like a ghost through the dim trunks and rides far out over the moor to the sky– then the birches stand out again like gay banners on white poles, with their red and gold patches of autumn-tinted leaves.”

~Erich Maria Remarque

Just like in Heart of Darkness, Remarque uses great language that makes the reader really think they are in the woods watching the leaves as they shift in the light.

Anyway, the point of this post wasn’t really to go anywhere. It was to acknowledge an important part of writing. Description in writing is an art. You can’t use too much or too little. To those of you who are able to write with description, and write with it well; I commend you.

I’ll part with one of my favorite parts from Heart of Darkness:

 

“Going up that river was like traveling back to the earliest beginnings of the world, when vegetation rioted on the earth and the big trees were kings. An empty stream, a great silence, an impenetrable forest. The air was warm, thick, heavy, sluggish. There was no joy in the brilliance of sunshine. The long stretches of the waterway ran on, deserted, into the gloom of overshadowed distances. On silvery sand-banks hippos and alligators sunned themselves side by side. The broadening waters flowed through a mob of wooded islands; you lost your way on that river as you would in a desert, and butted all day long against shoals, trying to find the channel, till you thought yourself bewitched and cut off for ever from everything you had known once—somewhere—far away—in another existence perhaps. There were moments when one’s past came back to one, as it will sometimes when you have not a moment to spare for yourself; but it came in the shape of an unrestful and noisy dream, remembered with wonder amongst the overwhelming realities of this strange world of plants, and water, and silence. And this stillness of life did not in the least resemble a peace. It was the stillness of an implacable force brooding over an inscrutable intention…”

~Joseph Conrad