Monday, August 31, 2015

Month in Review: August 2015

Wow! August was a whirlwind. From music camp to school starting! It was just, wow!! Phew!

I feel you RDJ!
I'm pretty sure I went through every single stinkin' emotional phase known to man. I also made a bajillion awesome friends, learned tons of new things, didn't care, cared enormously, cried a lot, laughed more, got my first black eye, and had the experience of a bus ride with like 60 Jrs/Srs. It was LOUD!!!
The first week of August, I went to music camp. It was an amazing experience! I made so many friends who liked the same things as me, and we all hung out together and laughed and had a great time! I was inspired to take my music farther than ever before, but I may write a blog post on that later, so suffice it to say, I was challenged. It was so cool to be around talented people who are better than you. The Bible says "Iron sharpeneth iron," and I definitely felt sharpened that week. (Also, shout out to my camp friends who are reading this! Don't you just love it when people you know in "real-life" read your blog!!)

There were sooooo many pianos at camp!
Music update: Lord willing, I'll start a YouTube channel sometime in the next month. In the meanwhile, I'm learning modern songs that everyone knows but me (All of Me, Pirates of the Caribbean, River Flows in You, etc.) I learned how to use the music writing software I have, so I'm writing out one of my arrangements! (It's is amazingly cool to see YOUR OWN STINKING MUSIC on paper!!!) Because I'm my own piano teacher this year, I'm trying to do as much as I can!! Plus, I'm trying to add in a little bit of classical music/classical music appreciation stuff. I'm also arranging a lot of songs for offertories and preludes and such. If you know of a popular song that every pianist needs to know, please, please, please enlighten me!!

GUYS, I found a cool Naomish GIF because I don't know how else to describe them!!

There was an all-nighter with churches in the Phoenix area the Friday night before school started We went to Flipside (sort of like an I-don't-know-what, but there's laser tag, an arcade, bowling, pool, and stuff like that)

Annnd I got my first black eye that night. We were playing tag and some random guy and I were both dodging the same tagger and ran into each other's heads. I was just gonna walk it off when all of a sudden my friend was like "Ashley, your head's getting bigger!" And it was. And I popped a blood vessel in my eye. And I had a black eye for like a week, but it's finally gone. There's still blood in my eye tho...

And then school started.

 I have no classes in the afternoon, so that's nice. I help with the preschool for a half-hour each day, and read a lot. I practice piano at school too. Even though I've only been in school for two weeks, it seems like a lifetime. Maybe it's cuz I'm a senior!!! #SeniorSwag (Last year of high school for you people who aren't Americans. Year 12 or 13 depending if you count Kindergarten) Do you ever just look at Kindergarteners and think, Wow, y'all have 13 long years ahead of you!

How I feel about finishing GWTW and school!
GUYS I FINISHED GONE WITH THE WIND!!! Finally!!! Yay!!! Woohoo!!! So that review should be coming soon! And I finished the Laura Years of the Little House series! Summer projects: FINISHED! I'm going to take a break before the Rose series and read On The Way Home, Laura's diary entries from their trip to Missouri. And I watched the Glenn Miller story!!! It was sooooo amazing!!!

Looking forward:
September 2 - Green Gables Fables Season 2 I'm so excited!!!a;slfja;lfkja The Roy/Gilbert conflict will be sooo epic!
September 8 - Masked premiere! It's looking pretty cool!
September 25 - The new Collingsworth Family CD comes out and I can't wait because all of the previews sound amazing as usual and I love the Collingsworth family so much and I made a run-on sentence for them!

Oh yeah, I officially applied for ASU, but now I just have to mail in my transcript and find scholarships!

So, has school started for you yet? And please, what other piano songs should I learn? How was your August? (And yes, Lois, I know you don't have to go back to school... #Don'tRubItIn :P)

Sunday, August 30, 2015

Birthday Club: The Railway Children

Not my cover, but pretty cool!
Sooooo (I'm a millennial so I start every other sentence with so...) I was supposed to read Ivanhoe for the August Birthday Challenge Thingy, but this whole scenario happened:

Me in a crowded car on the way to camp: Let's try this Ivanhoe!
Me a paragraph later: What even is this?! My brain can't handle this right now! *pulls out Jeeves and Wooster*
Me a week later: Who else was born in August? E. NESBIT!!! And The Railway Children is just sitting at school waiting for a rereread!!!! So much win!!
(And please, someone tell me if all of Sir Walter Scott's books are as hard to read as Ivanhoe! )

So that's what I read. And as usual it was deliciously sweet, happy, cozy and not too much affected by my questioning brain. (More on that later.)

If you haven't read The Railway Children yet, here's the plot:

Perfectly happy family life is interrupted by a mysterious happening. Family moves to the country because they are suddenly poor. The children discover a railroad and have various adventures surrounding it. Spoilery happy crying ending.

Yup, that's pretty much it. The summary doesn't seem like much, but that's because it's very episodic. Each chapter could be it's own story!

However, the characters make this book for me. I love all of them sooooo much. (I actually tend to
Doesn't Mother look perfect in this movie!
But Bobbie! No!
like all of E. Nesbit's characters. With the exception of Albert-next-door or something like that) I don't think there's one in this book I don't like! I love Mother and how she makes life fun and stays happy even though her heart is breaking! I love Peter because he reminds me of my brother. He's not perfect, but a good guy all around! And Phyllis. Well, Phil gets annoying sometimes, but I guess that's because as an older sister that's what younger siblings do to you. Seriously, by the end of the book, you just know that she has already broken her bootlace and fallen a dozen times that day. Perks, the stationmaster, the barge dude, and the engineers were all awesome too! And everybody else was so nice! (More on that later also)

And Bobbie! Oh Bobbie is my favorite by ever so far! (Her real name's Roberta) She gets on my nerves occasionally because she sort of meddles a little bit (helps lame dogs over stiles), but she does have really good intentions. She's her mother's right hand woman and tries to keep peace in the house, no matter how hard it is. She hides her sadness to make her mother happy, and even when she knows, she goes on as usual. And the end!! *happy sobs*

I liked reading about both the children's big adventures and the little stuff they did everyday, like waving to the train, playing charades, and making swallows nests. They weren't brats, but they weren't perfect angels either. (Although Peter might have a different opinion about Bobbie) I liked how they made friends with everyone, even the unlovable people. I think my favorite adventure was in the tunnel with the Hound and Perks' birthday.

So obviously I love this book a lot. Like seriously A LOT. E. Nesbit was a children's writing genius. Like C. S. Lewis, she talks to the reader, and most of the time it doesn't feel like she's talking down to them. (There were a few times I was like "Really?", but that's probably because I'm 17...)

Now, the time when Ashley's brain becomes cynical: This time around, I noticed that things tied up prettily all the time! That's great for a children's book, but it isn't exactly accurate. But kids won't pick up on that, so whatever. Also, everyone was nice. And if they aren't at first, the children made friends with them eventually. This seems cute and all, but seriously, you're not going to make friends with everybody, and not everybody is nice and fuzzy. These are just little things I picked up on. They didn't diminish my enjoyment of the book on iota though! And kids definitely won't pick up on them. At least, I didn't!

Bobbie is perfect!!!
Finally, a word on film adaptations: I looked this up on YouTube because I knew there were some, and I found three. First, there was a BBC miniseries from '68. It's pretty bad quality, but I love Bobby so much in this version. (Well, the five minutes I've seen of it) It's a miniseries, so it probably goes a lot more in depth, but the rest of the family!!! NO! The mother was nothing like the book, and Father yells at Phyllis!!! And Peter is a jerk, not just occasionally, but all the time!!! I saw clips of the '71 one but the kids don't look anything like I imagined them. So I found the full 2001 version. This one is probably gonna be the best. I love the family life so far, the characters seem accurate, and the story is close enough, BUT Bobbie!!! She doesn't look anything like what I imagined, and since she's my favorite character... :( If anybody has any other versions, I should check into, please let me know!

So, have you read The Railway Children? What's your favorite E. Nesbit book? Is Bobbie/Mother everyone's favorite character?

Sunday, August 23, 2015

Classics Club/Birthday Club: The Three Musketeers

The cover I wish I had....
Hahaha another review from a book I finished almost a month ago. AHAHAHAH. And I'm writing it the day before I'm scheduled to post! That's what a busy summer and school will do to you! 

Anywho, I read the Three Musketeers in July. I've wanted to read it for maybe 7 years. My brother got it for me for Christmas when I was like 10 and was disappointed because I didn't read it. Well, I tried. Twice. But do you know how hard this book is for a ten-year-old girl to read! (Actually, it probably wasn't. It just didn't hold my attention. And I probably shouldn't have read it as a ten-year-old anyway.) But, it was great the third time around! (The third time's the charm when it comes to books for me. For example, this is my third time trying Gone With the Wind and I'm 300 pages from the end!!!! Yay!!!)

The thing that struck me the most about this book was the camaraderie between the Musketeers! They were such great friends. They shared everything and helped each other out, even when they didn't know why!! Good friendship stories get me every time! (See: Captains Courageous) I guess because I don't have a lot of close friends my age,  reading about friendships makes me happy! And the valets were cool! I loved how they reflected their masters' personalities!

Speaking of personalities, I love how the musketeers were all so different! I loved how Dumas developed their characters! I liked them all (except for maybe Porthos), but I think I liked D'Artagnan best. Even though he had me swinging between "DUMMKOPF!"(Yes, I call people German insults), "JERK", and "Bravo! Huzzah! Carry on!". (Although his ideas about love and revenge were a little skewed....) I liked aspects of Athos's and Aramis's personality, although little things about them ticked me off. I guess that's realistic though!

I had a little trouble following the plot at first. (I used SparkNotes...) And the bad characters were a little confusing. Especially their motives and original badness. But once I got to then end, I understood. Mostly.

And the queen!!! I wish there was more to that plot! I felt so bad for her! 

Obviously, I did have a problem with the end, which if you've read the book, you realize was morally off. (Not inappropriate, but morally just so off) Also, there was a little love story that had me worried for a bit because the girl was already married, but that worked out okay in the end. (Can't tell you how cuz spoilers) There were also a few scenes I skipped.

All of that being said, I loved this book. I probably wouldn't pick it up again anytime soon, (it was hard to get through), but I will definitely be thinking about it for a long time to come! 

Sunday, August 16, 2015

This Little Blog Post is to Wish On

Some of you have demanded politely asked for more movie reviews. And I haven't been very good at giving you what you asked for :( For some reason, I feel like I struggle with these, but I'll do my best!

Hiddles looks better with dark hair

The Five Pennies is tied for my favorite Danny Kaye movie ever (Court Jester being the other one). Also, this one's for Lois, because she knows that this movie exists and is therefore an amazing person!!!
Dat face doe
For Christmas, my siblings and I asked our aunt and uncle for The Court Jester with Danny Kaye. What we got was a two disk pack with The Court Jester and The Five Pennies. Both are wonderful movies, and I really need to review Court Jester sometime, but not today. Anyway, I've watched Five Pennies three or four times now, and I love it more every time! I'm pretty sure most of you haven't seen this movie, so I'll try to be sort of specific without being spoilery. *snort* like that's possible...

The guy on the right is the guy who gets him the date.
The movie opens with Loring "Red" Nichols (Danny Kaye) going to his new band in New York in the 1920s sometime. Red is originally from Ogden, Utah. (North Ogden or South Ogden?) The band leader is Bob Crosby, Bing Crosby's brother. (I'm pretty sure the main word slip-up in the Perham house is the difference between the Cosby Show, and Bing CRosby. I'm not even sure I'm writing it correctly now...) Bob is a jerk, by the way. Probably not in real life, but in the movie, yeah.

Bob Crosby
Later that night, some guy, I think his name is Dave, takes Red out for a double date. (I've seen this movie four times and I don't remember the dude's name.) Red really plays up his farm roots and disgusts Bobby, a girl, just to specify, his date.

Bobby is in the middle
Also, Follow That Leader is a really catchy song!
Dave, his girlfriend, and Bobby take Red to a nice tea house and have a tea party! Pssshhh, it's tea that Dave's mom used to make for the mafia on Sunday nights. AKA alcohol. (Just for a refresher, alcohol was illegal in the US in the 1920s, so they disguised it as tea.) Anyway, Red gets sick and crazy, but ends up making a friend in Bobby and he plays his cornet for LOUIS ARMSTRONG!!!

Red Nichols and his Five Pennies
Glenn is in the back.
Bobby and Loring (Red) get married, Red loses his job and hilariously fails to get another one, and Bobby is pregnant. (I prefer the phrase "with child" TBH)(Not really ;) But she doesn't tell Loring/Red. Longish story short, Loring eventually starts a band. And then he finds out Bobby is pregnant. When she has the baby girl, Dorothy, Bobby tells Red that the baby won't have to change his dream of traveling with the band. And for a while, it doesn't.

But one night, Red takes 5-year-old Dorothy to a night club. Resulting in possibly my favorite song in the whole movie: "Oh When the Saints."  Bobby puts her foot down. Dorothy must be a normal child and have Wheaties and orange juice for breakfast and get up at seven. Cuz that's apparently what normal kids do. So they send Dorothy off to a boarding school for a while and sort of get disconnected from her. Then tragedy strikes! The rest of the movie deals with family and priorities and dreams and other great stuff like that!

Little Dorothy is so stinkin' cute!

Just trust, me this movie is great! It's not that plot-driven. It's more like "Let's follow this guy around and see what happened in his life." But his life was exciting so that's great!

Ala kazam kazam

This movie will probably make you cry. I don't like to cry in movies, so when we're five minutes from the end, I prep myself. But then you get to the end, and other people in the movie are crying, so you're about to cry, but then you remember that you and your sister have this competition on who won't cry. It's a happy/inspirational/everything-worked-out-in-the-end kind of crying though.

Anywho, that's the synopsis, so here's some awesome things I like:

Danny Kaye cannot play. You can see his fingers mess up a lot!

LOUIS ARMSTRONG IS IN THIS MOVIE! He sings an awesome version of "Oh When the Saints" with Danny Kaye. He also plays a mean trumpet! Or bugle. Or cornet. I was confused. Obviously.

Dorothy as a little girl is soooo cute. She bluffs her dad out of a game of poker, and sings with Louis Armstrong and her dad in a club! To which her mom says "I don't want her singing in nightclubs until she is at least eight years old!" We do have standards you know!

Speaking of the mom, Bobby is a pretty great wife who encourages her husband a lot. I mean she's not perfect, but who is?

Red, is not so great a dad, because he kinda puts the band and his dreams before his family and their well-being. But later, he learns his lesson. Several actually!

The music!! Ahhh! That's basically why you want to watch a musical right? "Oh When the Saints, "Lullaby in Ragtime," Back Home Again in Indiana," "The Five Pennies," and more! The trumpet is great, and there's all these great jazz songs!

The real Red Nichols And His Five Pennies
I'm assuming Red is on the far right?
This movie is based on the real life of Red Nichols, and therefore has real people like Glenn Miller in it! (Glenn was apparently in Nichols's band) (No, I haven't seen the Glenn Miller story, but I want to!)

This movie gives you a lot to think about! And those are the kind of movies I love best!

You should totally watch this movie! Like today! It has great music, a great story, and great lessons! I totally recommend it! (There are some scenes my family skips just FYI)

So, have you seen The Five Pennies? What was your favorite part? Do you like Danny Kaye? Also, what other movies should I watch?

Sunday, August 9, 2015

Goodreads is amazing!!!

I just got back from music camp and am currently suffering withdrawals from both my camp friends and the awesome musical talent that I was surrounded by. I'm also sort of lacking motivation because school starts next week :( (But it's my last year!!!! Yaysies!!!) I will probably put up some music posts soon and Lord willing, some videos on my channel.

Their logo is pretty sweet!

But here's a post on why I think Goodreads is awesome! Not as awesome as you, but pretty awesome! Here are some reasons why! (Ya know, I tried to come up with 10, but I couldn't so I stuck with the number of completion: 7)

You should go watch The 90s Kids Guide to the Internet
It's so 90s it hurts!
1. The scanner thing - Oh yes! The scanner is a life saver! Instead of searching for a book only to find the wrong version and not being able to switch it because you're on a mobile device, you can simply scan the book, and WAM it's there! (Actually, it's more like DING, but WAM sound more fun) Also, I'm pretty sure this nifty device is only available on a mobile device app :( And it doesn't take really old ISBNs, but it does take a lot of them!
Me pointing out books to my friends

2. Social - It's like reading with friends! Like a book club! But you all don't have to read the same book! And if you get really excited and start flailing because someone is reading your favorite book or gave it five stars, you can like their status update! (Or give a really fangirly comment) Or if someone didn't like your favorite book, you can write a politely passive aggressive comment! (Apparently "aggressive" has two g's)

And you guys are on Goodreads! You see,  Instagram is for my friends that I've met in 3D (if that makes sense) and a few blogger friends! Twitter is to get information and to laugh. And Goodreads is to connect with you, my blogger friends. Until I started blogging, I had little use for Goodreads. None of my church/school friends like to read that much, but then I met all of you wonderful people on there, and BAM a whole new network of people I love and trust. (Like a friend love obviously, and yes, I trust you guys for recommendations!)

3. Books  - Ummmm it's a social network about books!! That automatically makes it amazing! amirite? (I just had to throw in that word) Not just classics or contemporary books, but all books!!! Yay!!!

4. Reviews - I may not write many reviews on Goodreads (at least promptly), but I lov reading them. Whether they're from you guys or from complete strangers! (For books that you all haven't read or reviewed) It's cool to see different people's opinions! It's also a great way to waste fill up some spare time! I just really like reading reviews, especially yours, mkay?

My Goodreads shelves be like
5. Shelves - Some people go overboard with this, with shelves with titles like good-for-my-brother-in-law, handsome-heroes, and well-I-think-it's-funny. (Did not make that last one up XD) Others just go with a different shelf for each genre. Me, I have a shelf for my favorites, my little house challenge, my birthday challenge, classics club, and my read/to-read shelves. Just ignore that readathon-day shelf, kay?

6. Groups - When I first started Goodreads, I thought I would be really into these groups and challenges, but I wasn't. However, if you are, there's something for everyone. Including fans of Henty and Ballantyne! There's role-play and chat groups, even about movies! (I sort of want a Goodreads for movies. IMDB is sort of, and I guess Rotten Tomatoes, but not really) So yeah, if I don't join your group, please don't be offended! I just am not into them that much...

I haven't read any of his books, nor do I agree with everything he says/does
BUT he is pretty awesome!

7. Ratings - These are kind of like reviews, but bite-sized. I also use them. For example, I was at the library and wanted to see what my friends thought of a book. Only Lois had read it, and though she didn't review it she rated it five stars! I like most of the same books as Lois, so it was an automatic pick-up!

So there you have it! My seven reasons the Goodreads is amazing and I hope all my friends get one!! DFTBA!

P.S. If you have a Goodreads, go to my sidebar and add me! kay?

Saturday, August 1, 2015

Month in Review: July 2015

That's right! You're amazing!
Well, the last day of July sneaked (I like snuck better, but as my tenth grade English teacher told me, you should never sneak, but if you have to, you sneaked, not snuck. Snuck is a funny word.).

Ahem as I was saying, the last day of July sneaked up on me. I was on vacation and was writing a completely different blog post. I went to bed on July 30 and thought "Oh snap, I need to do a month in review!" But we left on July 31, so I started this yesterday and am finishing it today!

A word of housekeeping before I go on: I will be at a music camp all next week. I will try to schedule a post, but if it doesn't work/I don't get around to it, I'll be back next Saturday. I probably won't be on my blog until the next Sunday.

In case you don't know, that's Ronald Reagan, one of America's greatest presidents.
In my opinion at least.
I didn't say that to start a comment war, okay?

Onward! July was awesome! Not as awesome as June (maybe it was?). Actually, I didn't journal much during July, so I don't remember a lot.

That's rain. It rains every time I go to Dollywood.
But I love rain, so I don't mind!
I believe I mentioned in my last month in review that I was going to Dollywood. Well, I went and had a blast. Because what else do you do at Dollywood?

I flew home from Tennessee. Pretty uneventful. Except for the fact that my flight got in early so my parents weren't at the airport :D They were there by the time I got my bags though. I have to say, I like flying by myself. With one caveat: personal space. When you fly with your siblings, you can basically sprawl all over them and overflow your seat. Not so with strangers.... Also, I accidentally glance at people's phones sometimes. I'm not snoopy, my eyes just wander, kay?

My Nashville cousins were on vacation in California, so we went to visit them. (We used to be able to say California Cousins and Russia Cousins. Now we have to say Nashville cousins and Iowa Cousins...)
I have nothing against Japan tho
While we were there, Team USA won the World Cup in what was possibly the best soccer game I've ever watched. Not that I watch a lot of soccer. There was a lot of screaming and jumping on our part. Carli Lloyd people. I like Alex Morgan better, but Carli tho!

I counted my college mail. 63 colleges have contacted me, including the Marines. I've received more than 84 letters.
All of my college letters as of July 9

I practiced a lot of piano. A lot. In June and July, I practiced 25 hours. That's actually not that much but I was gone a lot. And that YouTube channel. Working on that. Sorta.

I started watching Leverage with my mom. I finished the first season last night. It's awesome guys, awesome. It's like a modern Mission Impossible, but funnier. And soooo quotable: "That's the only production of Sound of Music that has made me root for the Nazis" "I've got the pate d'escargot avec beurre d'Argentine and what looks like old duck, kind of greasy."
We went to California for the second time. (And I go again tomorrow. FYI Here's how the drive to California goes: desert, desert, broken bridge, desert, desert, WINDMILLS, desert, desert, desert., hills, hills, hills, beach. BTW windmills are awesome.) The beach was awesome. DUH. The waves were so fun, once I figured out how to dive into them. Getting flipped and washed up on the beach is NOT FUN.

I got the worst sunburn of my life. It was sooo bad. It's still peeling

We went to a lake waterpark. It was so much fun. It also made me really sore and probably wasn't good for my wrists, but it was fun!

We watched so much TCM (Turner Classic Movies) in California. We don't get that channel at home, so that was a big deal. There's always something awesome one! The sibs were introduced to Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart and David Niven. We watched our first two Alfred Hitchcock movies. And we discovered Doris Day. We watched three of her movies in less than 24 hours: The Man Who Knew Too Much, Please Don't Eat The Daisies, and Calamity Jane. That song is rather catchy!
Doris Day and David Niven
David Niven and Cary Grant are geniuses, for the record. Also Grace Kelly's wardrobe, ON POINT!

We also saw Inside Out! SO GOOD guys, SO GOOD!

I read a lot. Well kind of. I said I was going to only read three books at a time, and because two of those books took me the whole month/I'm still working on them, that only left one empty slot. But I've read a lot of good books lately! We also went to the Burton Barr library in downtown Phoenix. It's so big that it's overwhelming! They had so many books I can't get at my own library! Yay!

Looking forward:
Music camp - August 2-8
School starts - August 17
Sister's birthday - August 23

How was your July? Are your summers really busy? Thanks for reading!