Long Absences and Changes

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“I promise it won’t be three months before you hear from me next!”

…obviously, I have an apology to make because I’m now coming up on six months after my last post. My movie review site has taken the priority for me; coming up on a year later, it’s still going strong and I’m loving sharing my opinions with people. More news on that further down.

This semester has been a good one. My first as a senior (though this was my third year, I completed enough credit hours to be classified as a senior this semester), it has been pretty busy but in a completely different way than past semesters. I started off the semester enrolled in Advanced Brass Methods, Texas History, Music and Your Mind (an honors seminar), Symphonic Band, Matador Singers, The Superhero in Film, Television, and Popular Culture (another honors seminar that I just took for fun), Instrumental Conducting, and, of course, horn and voice lessons. I ended up dropping Texas History due to it being too reading intensive in addition to all of the reading I was already having to do in my honors classes, but everything else went just swimmingly.

Advanced Brass Methods was great until after spring break, but the second half of the course was taught by a teaching assistant who I just do not care for. Music and Your Mind has been lots of fun; it is taught by a professor I have had twice before, but I was the only music major enrolled since it is an honors course, not a music course. It’s sort of like music philosophy and physiology, and it has been very interesting. Our final project was a presentation and a paper over a subject of our choice, so I did a study on the recognizability of film music, which ended up being incredibly fascinating…more to come on that later. Symphonic Band with Dr. Allen has continued to be extraordinarily rewarding; he’s one of the best directors I have ever had, and I really enjoyed everything we played this semester. Being back in Matador Singers was also a lot of fun, though I wish that our concert hadn’t been so early in the semester…it was back in March, I think. But I’m enrolled in Matador Singers this fall for the first time (I’ve only been able to participate in the spring semesters so far), and Andrew will be joining me! Exciting news. Going back to classes with Dr. Allen, conducting was also a lot of fun this semester, with the focus being less on conducting and more on rehearsal techniques and lesson planning, which was a very enlightening experience. My superhero class has been interesting as well, with us learning about how superheroes came to be and how they were and continue to be reflections of the world we live in. As far as my lessons go, horn has been about same-old, same-old, though I plan on getting even better over the summer, but voice lessons go things were a lot more active this semester because I did a recital! It went quite well and was fun to put together. Video for that will hopefully be posted soon, once I can figure out how to split up large video files without losing quality. Soon!

Summer plans are pretty basic at the moment; go home, practice horn, make an attempt at working out and getting fit (I’m down to 200lbs now!), etc. I wish I could say that I was returning to my job playing horn for Garland Summer Musicals again, but, unfortunately, the guy who was music director for South Pacific last year is not returning this year and didn’t pass on his information to the new guys, so the orchestra spots have already been filled. I am hoping to return to teaching French horn private lessons at Kimbrough and Poteet, maybe even North Mesquite, but we’ll see how things go. In any case, I will be teaching at Poteet’s band camp again this summer, so I have that to look forward to.

Now onto the “more news” I referred to above. As much fun as it was to maintain this blog for my first two years at Tech, as I said, my movie review site has taken the priority as far as my writing goes. This does not mean that this blog is going away, though; rather, it is now being re-purposed. In the coming weeks, I will be re-structuring “chadadada.wordpress.com” into a supplemental editorial-style blog for my ChadLikesMovies.com review site. This space will be a place for additional commentary I may have on movies or their soundtracks or on anything else that I find relevant. The first post for this will be a thorough write-up of my findings in movie music recognizability, which will be up in the next week or two.

I want to thank you all who have kept up with my blog these past couple of years and who care what goes on in my life, and who knows? I may even keep up a portion of this site to allow for the occasional personal update or two, but your best place to keep up with my day-to-day ramblings will be over on Twitter or on Facebook. I hope that you all enjoy this new idea of a supplemental blog for ChadLikesMovies.com and will give feedback as those changes are implemented soon.

God bless,

Chad

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Puns, books, and sleeps.

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I apologize for my long absence. If it makes you feel any better, I’ve been absent from my review site as well – though I’ve been keeping track of what I need to review when I get the chance.

So, life…it’s pretty good, but also pretty busy, though not for the reasons it should be. My music classes this semester – Form & Analysis, Brass Methods, Goin’ Band, Music for Children, Symphonic Band, and Conducting – are all pretty basic and easy to handle. It’s my one non-music class that has proved itself to be a little overwhelming. It’s an honors humanities seminar called Western Intellectual Traditions. I signed up thinking, “oh, Western philosophy, that could be pretty cool!” …but then I walked into the classroom on the first day and was handed a 12-book reading list. From the first class to the second class we read The Epic of Gilgamesh, and we have since then read Homer’s The Iliad, 64 chapters of the Old Testament, about the same number of chapters from the New Testament, Antigone and Oedipus the King by Sophocles, Plato’s Phaedo and a chapter from Plato’s Republic, Marcus Aurelius’ MeditationsThe Consolation of Philosophy by Boethius, Beowulf, Dante’s Inferno, and two chapters from Chaucer’s Canterbury Tales. We’re finishing up The Treasure of the City of Ladies by Christine de Pizan by Thursday, and then we only have one book left to read: The Imitation of Christ by Thomas á Kempis. On top of all of that, we have a 10-page paper due on the last day of class. So yeah…very busy, and most of the reason why I haven’t posted here very often.

Aside from all of that nonsense, everything about this semester has been great. Goin’ Band has been a lot of fun; Rachel and I have worked together as section leaders really well and we’ve been lucky to have a great section this year. I’m also in my fifth semester of voice lessons, which are going well…I’m preparing for a just-for-fun recital that will take place sometime in the spring! In addition to that, I’m sort of in a class (meaning I’m participating without enrollment) called “Scenes,” in which we auditioned and were assigned to groups in which we will prepare and eventually perform a scene from a musical theatre/opera production. I’m a part of three of these scenes, which also contribute to my busy-ness, but I’m having lots of fun being a part of them.

Let’s see…what else has happened this semester? I got the iPhone 5, bought a new, fancy horn case, ordered my official Texas Tech ring (which I will have in less than two weeks!), and voted in my first presidential election. I also saw more movies than I should have – Looper, Finding Nemo 3D, Sinister, Wreck-It Ralph, Flight, and Skyfall…I think that’s it, though I saw a couple of those multiple times. And there are more to come! Lincoln comes out this weekend, Rise of the Guardians comes out the week after that, and in December we have The HobbitLes MiserablesDjango Unchained, and a couple others…it’s been a good year for movies.

There are only 13 days of class left of the semester…not that I’m keeping count or anything. Thanksgiving break is next week, so I’ll get to go home! That’ll be fun. In a month’s time, I will be sitting at home for Christmas break. I’m too excited!

I know that wasn’t too much of an update, but I’m still trying to finish up The Treasure of the City of Ladies…goody. I promise it won’t be three months before you hear from me next!

Stay fresh and God bless.

Chad

Barbecue and tsunamis.

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Welp, I’m back in Lubbock for the semester and have been for nearly two weeks now. I drove in on a Tuesday night so that I would be in town for the three-day Goin’ Band leadership camp, followed by full band camp, which started that next Saturday. Band has kept me incredibly busy, but I’m definitely enjoying the different perspective of being in a leadership position. One of my responsibilities was helping to teach the incoming freshmen our basic marching techniques, but my main job is as one of the two French horn section leaders. The other section leader, Rachel, and I work well together, and we accomplished a lot in the week of band camp; in fact, our section was paid a few compliments by the directors, something that didn’t happen too often in the past. We are both determined to keep our progress going so that we can have the best section possible! I’m really excited to see what this season brings us. Our first show, which contains music by George Gershwin (An American in Paris and Rhapsody in Blue, so far), is one of the more ambitious marching shows I’ve been a part of here at TTU, and the other shows that we will be learning this semester should be interesting as well. I’m looking forward to it!

Andrew and I moved into our new on-campus apartment last weekend, with the aid of our parents, of course. So far, we love it! There is so much more space available to us, and having our own rooms and a kitchenette is truly a blessing. As an added bonus, we lived in it for a week on our own; neither of our roommates were here this week until one of them showed up yesterday. He’s a nice guy, but it’s a little strange having him around; he’s 16-17 years older than us, so I feel obligated to call him “sir” every time I talk to him. Not necessarily a bad thing, but still a little bit awkward since we’re living in the same apartment. We’re still waiting on the other roommate to show up, though.

Andrew and I went to see The Dark Knight Rises in theaters again last weekend with Lexi and one of her friends, which was nice since I hadn’t seen her since I left Lubbock. We also hung out with Jenny one night, eating dinner and watching a movie together, and we even bumped into Tessa yesterday, who I hadn’t seen since our Christmas shindig last year. We live much closer to both Jenny and Tessa now, though, so hopefully we’ll be seeing a lot more of each other now, at least in comparison to last year.

Well, there’s not much more to talk about right now. This is the first day since July that did not involve band in some form, so I’m enjoying kicking back and relaxing all day. I was able to go to church this morning and eat lunch with Lexi afterward, and later tonight I’ll be going to her house for a game night. Should be lots of fun! My first class is at 9am in the morning, meaning that I’ll get to sleep in just a little bit later than I was able to during band camp…what a relief! I’m excited to see what my new classes bring this school year; since I finished music theory, aural skills, piano, and music history for the last time this past semester, I will be taking all kinds of different classes this semester, including conducting, brass methods, and music for children. We’ll see how it goes! The plan is to start updating this thing on a more regular basis again, so here’s hoping that I stick to that plan!

I hope all of you have a great day!

Chad

Saying goodbye.

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During the last full week of July, I went on a Disney cruise with my aunt, uncle, and two cousins, and I had a blast! The ports of call for the 7-day cruise were Grand Cayman, Costa Maya, Cozumel, and Castaway Cay, but we only got off in Grand Cayman to eat lunch at the Hard Rock Cafe and in Castaway Cay to spend some time on the beach, both of which were very nice. The rest of the time, we stayed on the ship and enjoyed ourselves there. I spent most of my time with my Uncle Craig, attending various music/movie trivia events, watching several movies in the on-board movie theater, and going to all of the stage shows every night, though we were often joined at these shows by my Aunt Brenda and my cousin Summer. My other cousin, Carson, spent most of his time either a) in the kids club; b) eating ice cream; c) watching the on-demand TV in our stateroom. At dinner, we shared a table with a family of three who had a daughter who is about Summer’s age; our two families got along really well and enjoyed each others’ company.

This was my fourth cruise overall and my second with Disney, but the ship we were on, the Disney Fantasy, is the newest of the Disney fleet, so it was super nice. There were lots of interactive things around the ship, such as a sports simulator, a mini-golf course, a water slide that circles the top deck, and a detective game in which you interact with photos around the ship to solve one of three cases, each of which is different every single time you play again. So cool! Overall, it was an awesome vacation, and I was very fortunate to have them take me along. It’s a shame that, unless they visit Lubbock again sometime this semester, I won’t be seeing them until Christmas, since they live a few states away in Alabama.

The past two weeks, I’ve resumed my post as the horn teacher at Poteet’s summer band camp, as well as helping out on the marching field with fundamentals and setting the drill for the marching show. It’s great being able to contribute to the band that was such a big part of my life for four years, and it’s definitely good experience for me in my future career. I’ve stuck with my tradition of only wearing sleeveless shirts to summer band camp, so I’ve built up a nice tan line at my shoulders, and I’m also sporting an awkward tan line on my feet in the shape of my flip flops. Oh well.

In my last post, I talked about how I had started using Tumblr as a medium to share my opinions on films and film scores. I still use that Tumblr page, but I’ve since upgraded to a new WordPress account where I review films, soundtracks, books, and graphic novels. It’s off to a great start, with nearly 650 views in the 6 weeks that I’ve had it; my posts have been shared by MovieByte.com, DallasMovieScreenings.com, and my favorite entertainment news website, Hypable.com. Cool! My website, ChadLikesMovies.com, can be found at this link. Check it out and let me know what you think!

I leave for Lubbock for the semester this coming Tuesday, which I have mixed feelings about. I wish I could spend more time with my family, but, at the same time, I’m really excited to see what being part of the leadership team for the Goin’ Band is like. I’m even a little bit excited for my classes; since I’m done with music theory, aural skills, piano, and music history, I’ve got an entirely different course load that will really start to focus on individual techniques that I’ll need for my future career, techniques such as conducting, form and analysis, and music for children…just in case. I’ll miss my family, but I’m excited for the new things to come.

Speaking of my family, I have a sort of announcement to make. For those of you who don’t know, I have a cat named Noel who has been a part of my family for more than 10 years. I received him as a Christmas present when I was 9 years old, and he’s been my best friend ever since. It’s with a heavy heart that I tell you all that he’s been struggling. Back in November of 2011, he got sick, so my mom took him to the vet to see what was wrong. He was having some problems with his kidneys, but the pet doctors were able to fix him up, so he came back home, seemingly fine until the week I was gone for the cruise. He started vomiting and having some diarrhea, so Mom took him back to the vet and learned that he was having problems with his kidneys again. They kept him in the hospital for a few days, giving him some fluids and trying to get him back to normal again, but, even after coming home, he wasn’t the same. He wasn’t eating much, he was laying around a lot, and, as a result of his lack of food, he was weak, giving him trouble with jumping up on the counters and stuff like that.

We took him back to the vet earlier this week and tried to figure out exactly what was going wrong; he still wasn’t eating, and, despite his love for ice water or water from the faucet, he wasn’t drinking anymore either. The vets took a couple of X-rays to see if they could identify the problem, and they think they found it. Noel has a couple of kidney stones in his kidneys. Normally, kidney stones aren’t issues in animals, but, in Noel’s case, they are causing kidney failure. The only solutions cost an insane amount of money that 1) we don’t have and 2) might not even work because, on top of all that, we learned that he has a small heart that likely wouldn’t be able to handle anesthesia. So, we’re in a difficult situation.

Noel isn’t feeling well, and he’s been struggling with these kidney problems for quite some time now. The long-term prognosis isn’t good; the vets don’t think he’ll ever get better. Our decision is this: he is at the pet hospital tonight, getting some fluids that will hopefully make him feel better for the weekend. Tomorrow, we’ll pick him up in the morning and bring him home, where he can lay beside me on my bed at night a couple more times. On Monday, we’ll take him back and get him put to sleep so that he doesn’t have to suffer anymore.

Noel has been part of my family for 10 long, wonderful years. Though we had two dogs before he came into my life, Noel was my first pet, and he was mine; for those who were wondering, I named him Noel because I got him for Christmas. I remember the first night after getting him when I insisted on sleeping in the same room with him, only to start bawling because he wanted to play rather than let me sleep! He’s about as spoiled as a cat can get. He’d follow us to the restroom, hop up on the counter, and beg us for a trickle of water from the faucet that he could drink from. He also loved iced water, sprinting to the kitchen every time he heard one of us filling a glass with ice. Whenever I was home, he’d sleep on my bed with me, curled up next to my chest. Yeah, he’s a special cat.

A few years ago, my cousin’s cat was found dead in a closet, and it was completely unexpected. From that point on, I would take Noel, look in his eyes, and tell him to “wait for me”. I wanted to be there to say goodbye when it was time for him to go. I’ve been saying it for a long time now, and, now that it’s about time for him to go, I’ll be there to say goodbye. During the cruise, Noel’s troubles at home unknown to me, I had a conversation with my uncle about how I hoped that he’d be around at least until I finished college. Sadly, he won’t be around that long, but I’m just glad that this didn’t happen while I was gone. I’m thankful for my time spent with him; he is the best first pet a kid could have, and he has been my companion and best friend for a long, long time. I’m very fortunate. I love you, Noel. Goodbye.

Anyway, I just wanted to let you all know what was going on. I won’t be posting again until I’m settled back in Lubbock, at which point I’ll do my best to get back to posting at least once a day. Please pray for my family and me as we struggle through the loss of Noel, and pray that his last weekend with us is a good one. Please also pray for safe travels back to Lubbock on Tuesday…I’d really appreciate it.

Thank you all so much. God bless.

Chad

Life goes on.

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Okay, it’s nearly been two months, but I assure you all that I am alive and well and enjoying my summer thoroughly.

I’ll try and walk you through everything so far, so this may end up being pretty long. Probably.

First off, final exams. Everything went really well, and I ended up finishing the semester with 10 As and 1 B. Okay, okay, I’ll confess…one of those was an A-, but who’s counting that?

Well, besides him.

Actually, one of those As is still listed as a B, but I queried my professor about it and confirmed that it should be an A; it’s in the process of being fixed, supposedly. What I’m most proud of this semester, concerning my grades, at least, is that I got As in my two most difficult classes: music history and honors integrated science. Hooray!

During our final weekend at Tech for the semester, Andrew’s parents and my dad came up and helped us pack up all of our stuff. Mr. and Mrs. Grant went back home on Saturday/Sunday (Mrs. Grant left a day early), while Dad stayed until Monday morning. While he was there, the three of us watched the last few episodes of How I Met Your Mother that were on Netflix. What a great show! There’s still one more season to watch before we’re caught up, but it wasn’t on Netflix yet, so maybe we’ll get to it later in the fall sometime.

After meeting up with Lexi for lunch and taking my final final exam, I climbed in my car and began my long drive home. Lubbock wept that day.

Relevant.

And then summer began! The day after I came home was the Poteet Choir’s Spring Show, which my brother is still a part of, so I attended that and sang with the choir onstage for the traditional end-of-year song, “May the Music Never End”. Fun times! Mrs. Westgate was just over a month away from having her baby at this point in time, so that was exciting, and this was also right before Blake was elected to be president of the Poteet Choir! Congrats to him!

That weekend, Andrew, Seth, and I bought lots of food and traveled out to Lake Tawakoni State Park for our now-annual Bro Camping Trip. We were there for three nights, and we had a blast. Also, our menu was pretty delicious. Here’s the walkthrough:

SATURDAY

Breakfast – Waffles and eggs.

Lunch – Chili Cheese Hotdogs

Dinner – Made-from-scratch lasagna

SUNDAY

Breakfast – Eggs, bacon, and sausage

Dinner – RIBS (the most delectable, delicious ribs you can possibly imagine, courtesy of Andrew)

I don’t know if these are supposed to be ribs or popsicles, but you get the idea.

Yes, it was a menu fit for 5 kings. We didn’t just eat, though; we played frisbee curling (a game of our own invention) for several hours, walked a couple of trails, sat around the campfire and made s’mores, and watched lots of movies. Let’s see if I can remember everything: Lord of the Rings Extended Trilogy (yes, all 12 hours), Tangled, How to Train Your Dragon, Thor, The Phantom of the Opera, and Get Smart…I think that’s it. So yes, it was a very involved, busy, enjoyable weekend.

The day after we came back, Tuesday, was the Poteet Band Spring Concert, which was super exciting because the Honors Band premiered a piece that was commissioned in honor of Mr. Coulson, called “Elixir”. Composed by Michael Markowski, whose music the band had played a couple of times before, the piece was lots of fun, and the whole ceremony/involvement of Mr. Coulson made it even better. Here’s a YouTube video of the premiere:

Later in the concert, Mr. Davis, who had also retired this past year, made an appearance, presenting a new scholarship named after both him and Mr. Coulson. Overall, it was just a great night full of fun reunions and awesome music.

For the next week or so, I spent most of my time in the living room watching TV with my parents, mostly Criminal Minds, but with some CSI and others interspersed into that. For Memorial Day, the four of us Hopkinses went up to my grandparents’ house, where we feasted on more delicious ribs. It was a good day.

I’ve been reading a lot this summer, mostly just before bed every night. I started off by finishing the second volume of the Lord of the Rings trilogy, The Two Towers, which finally got moving about a quarter of the way through; Tolkien’s usually a slow read. After having finished that, I decided to take a break from Tolkien before reading Return of the King. Here’s everything I have read with a short review attached:

Who Censored Roger Rabbit by Gary K. Wolf – This has been on my reading list for quite a while. Who Framed Roger Rabbit, the film directed by Robert Zemeckis, is based on this book and is one of my favorite films, so I gave the book a try. Just about the only similarities between the two are the character names and, even then, that’s only four similarities total. Sure, there’s a few things here and there that I can tell influenced the film, but, overall, they are entirely separate entities with entirely separate stories and characters. All that goes to say I LOVED it!

I loved it thiiiiiiiiiis much!

Wolf’s novel reminded me a lot of another, much older, crime book I once read, The Big Sleep by Raymond Chandler. It definitely had a darker “noir”-type feel to it than the movie did, though it was definitely present there too. I sat down with it one day and finished it in a matter of a few hours.

A Night to Remember by Walter Lord – This book is a documentary-style book about the night the Titanic sank. The author interviewed several survivors and other people connected to the disaster, so it’s just about the most accurate description of the Titanic ever. It was adapted into a film in 1958 that is excellent; I bought the movie on Blu-Ray shortly after finishing the book. The Titanic fascinates me, so this was an awesome read for me, albeit pretty depressing and eye-opening.

The Help by Kathryn Stockett – This book was the basis for the recent film with Emma Stone, Viola Davis, and Octavia Spencer. The film did a good job adapting the source material, but the book is even better. It explores the characters more in-depth, and there are a few plot additions/differences that I really enjoyed. Bonus fun fact: Octavia Spencer, who portrayed the character of Minnie in the film, is a friend of the author, who actually based the character of Minnie in the book off of Octavia. How cool is that?! If that was confusing to read, here’s the gist: Octavia Spencer played a character who was based off of her in the first place. Better?

What’s It All About? by Michael Caine – This book is is actor Michael Caine’s first autobiography. I actually read his second biography first, The Elepehant to Hollywood, and rated it five stars. Had I read the two memoirs in the proper order, WIAA? would receive its deserved five stars, while TETH would only receive four. In WIAA?, Michael Caine gives us a fascinating, detailed tour through his entire life: his life growing up in the countryside of England, his time spent in the army, his rise to fame, and his life since. He introduces us to actors and actresses he has had the pleasure of getting to know throughout his long career, and he reveals to us the things he finds importan in his life. His second autobiography repeats much of this before moving on to new material. If you’re a fan of Caine’s, or if you’re at all interested in what it’s like to be film star, What’s It all About? is for you. Make sure to read The Elephant to Hollywood afterward, but know that it is repetitive.

Now, I’m finally getting to The Return of the King. I haven’t read more than a few pages just yet, but hopefully I can really dive in soon. As long as it doesn’t take me all summer like Fellowship of the Ring did last summer, I’ll be happy.

My group of friends from high school and I met for a couple of dinners/hang-out nights together before going on a pseudo-campout at Seth’s family’s land out in East Texas. They have a small cabin and several acres of land that they use for hunting, and it’s out in the middle of nowhere, so there’s no cell phone reception.

Just let it out.

At first it was weird not having any Internet of any kind because I’m used to being able to pull out my phone to look something up on Wikipedia at a moment’s notice, but I got used to it pretty quickly and actually enjoyed the limited connectivity with the world. The seven of us were cramped into the small two-room-and-a-bathroom cabin, with the four girls (Megan, Regan, Kate, and Hannah) sharing the bedroom and the three guys (Andrew, Seth, and me) were in the living room area. A little cramped, but we managed to enjoy ourselves. Activities included cooking (yes, there were more ribs), movies, shooting guns at targets (a revolver, a .22 rifle, and an assault rifle), and riding around the property on a four-wheeler. We had a great time together!

Amid all of this was South Pacific, which just finished up this past Sunday. It was a pretty awesome experience for me. Rehearsals started at the very end of May. There were six rehearsals total: three orchestra rehearsals and three dress rehearsals with the cast. The other horn player ended up being a recent graduate of SFA, so she’s just a couple of years older than me. We got along really well, making jokes together and sharing funny pictures with each other on our phones when we weren’t otherwise occupied with the music. The performances all went really well too; I had several friends and my family attend and enjoy the show. Not that I was too involved in the actual production…the horn part wasn’t very active, so lots of the time I was sitting in the orchestra pit on my phone, playing games and whatnot. I even ate chocolate while down there, but don’t tell my horn professor that! Like I said, it was an awesome experience, and the music director, Larry, has said that I’m on the spreadsheet for contacts next year, so hopefully this’ll be a summer-by-summer recurring gig!

Remember when I first auditioned for Garland Summer Musicals a couple of months ago and how I really wanted to be in How to Succeed in Business Without Really Trying? Well, it opens on July 20, which just so happens to be the day that I LEAVE TO GO ON A DISNEY CRUISE WITH MY AUNT, UNCLE, AND COUSINS! Things definitely worked out for me since I was neither cast in How to Succeed nor asked to play in the orchestra for it, otherwise I wouldn’t be able to go. Unfortunately, Blake can’t go because of summer school, so that’s a bummer, but I’m still excited to be spending the time with my family. It’ll be a Caribbean cruise, my fourth, and it’ll be on the newest ship in the Disney Cruise Line, the Disney Fantasy, which just launched back in March. I’m super excited! I keep thinking that it’s coming up sooner than it actually is, but we’re still about three weeks away. Counting down the days!

This summer is the Summer of Movies, much like 2008 was a few years back. So far this summer (since coming home), I’ve only seen Brave (review here in a sec), but I have pre-ordered my tickets for The Amazing Spider-Man (next Monday night/Tuesday morning midnight showing) and The Dark Knight Rises (July 19), both in IMAX. In the case of The Dark Knight Rises, I actually bought a ticket to three movies: THE ENTIRE CHRISTOPHER NOLAN BATMAN TRILOGY IN IMAX! AMC is having a trilogy event on the night of the midnight premiere, at which they’ll be playing Batman Begins starting at 6pm, followed by The Dark Knight, and then the midnight showing of The Dark Knight Rises. What this means is no waiting in lines for me! Other movies coming out this summer that I might be seeing include Ted (comes out tomorrow) and The Bourne Legacy, coming out August 10.

Relevant.

Okay, now Brave. I went to the midnight premiere for this, which was really weird because people didn’t start showing up until about 11:40 or so. Never been to a midnight premiere like that. Anyway, though it was a sort of departure/new direction for Pixar, it worked really well and was pretty enjoyable. The trailers did a pretty poor job in marketing the film, so I’m glad I went and saw it anyway. The trailers gave absolutely no hint at what the actual plot of the film would be, which I suppose could be considered a good thing, but it would have been nice to have a bit better idea of what I was walking in to. The story was definitely geared toward mother/daughter combos, but that didn’t make it any less enjoyable for people who don’t fall in to that profile. The soundtrack by Patrick Doyle (who I used to shun because I HATE his score to Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire) was excellent, truly capturing the Scottish setting of the film. And the Academy Award-nominated short film before Brave, La Luna, was one of my favorites. I want a soundtrack album for the Pixar Short Films that has all of the music from the shorts! Some good stuff from Michael Giacchino, among others.

At the start of the summer, I watched through the awesome Nickelodeon animated series Avatar: The Last Airbender, for the first time; it was incredible. I won’t go too into detail on it, but it’s on Netflix Instant, so you have no excuse for not checking it out. The sequel series, The Legend of Korra, just had its Season 1 finale this past Saturday, and it was incredible too. Can’t wait for Season 2!

I’ve also played through a couple of video games in the past week. I’ve been getting more and more each year, and I only play one or two a year, so I had quite a stockpile to work through. I started off with Halo: Reach earlier this summer, which was decent, and this past week I played through both Star Wars: The Force Unleashed I and II. The first one was pretty excellent, minus some frustrating moments, but the best part of the second one was the incredible screen quality. The graphics blew my mind. Now, I’m playing through Fallout: New Vegas, which is a new kind of game for me. It’s mission-based, whereas I’m used to playing story-based games. It’s not a bad thing, though. It’s a nice change, and I’m really enjoying it, but it’s slow-going.

Oh! I almost forgot to mention my pen pal, Shauna. You may recall that I sent her a package a month or two ago filled with every single kind of Reese’s Candy that I could find. Well, she finally sent her package to me, which was FILLED with all kinds of British candies! Yeah, she’s pretty much the best pen pal ever.

I’ve had a Tumblr account for quite a while now, but I never cared for the service so I pretty much left it alone aside from reading friends’ posts that were linked to Twitter. However, yesterday I decided that I’d start using it as a means to review films and film soundtracks, so there’s about to be some regular posting from there. Here’s the page: Clicky

Anyway, that’s pretty much my summer in a nutshell so far. I probably missed a thing or two, but don’t take offense to that if you were involved. This was a long enough post already. Now, I’m heading off to the Rangers game with Seth! Woohoo!

I’ll try not to wait so long before updating this again, but the truth is that I don’t use my computer all that much during the summer, relying instead on my iPhone and iPad for Internet access.

Welp. Goodbye! God bless.

Chad

Never not be having fun!

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I will post this video on people’s FB pages for their birthdays now.

Well, it’s been an eventful week. I won’t go into terrible detail, but I’ll give you the highlights.

Last Wednesday night, I decided to go to Best Buy to buy Marvel’s Thor on Blu-Ray. I hadn’t seen it before, and, since the midnight premiere for The Avengers was the next night, I figured it was time for me to watch it. As it turned out, all of the Marvel movies were on sale, so I went ahead and bought The Incredible Hulk and Iron Man 2 as well to complete my Marvel/Avengers collection.

Despite the fact that I bought Thor for myself, I ended up going over to Lexi’s house to watch it with her. She has it on Blu-Ray 3D, and she has the capable Blu-Ray player and TV and glasses to allow 3D viewing. Unfortunately, one of the pairs of glasses were out of batteries, so we didn’t watch it in 3D, but the few minutes that I did see in 3D were pretty awesome. I definitely wouldn’t mind having a 3D Blu-Ray Player/TV of my own!

As for the movie, I really enjoyed it. It was definitely different than the other Marvel movies being that it’s topic was considerably more “supernatural”; lots of it takes place on a distant planet. I was glad to finally see it!

The next day, after classes had gotten out, I went and picked up our tickets for the midnight showing later that night so that we could skip the line whenever we showed up later. I then stopped by Target to see if I could find an Avengers shirt that I liked to wear to the midnight premiere, but they didn’t have any, so I went to jcpenney instead, which had LOTS of great choices…I ended up buying two! Very cool.

I ended up going to the theater at about 10ish or so, meeting up with Lexi and her sister Bekka, who had arrived at about 8 and saved Andrew and me seats. Andrew showed up a little bit later because of a meeting he had with his fraternity. When midnight rolled around, I made sure to call Granna for her birthday before the pre-movie trailers started, which was cool because she was definitely surprised!

After I wished her a happy birthday, I turned off my phone and returned to the theater just in time for the trailers. The Dark Knight Rises, The Amazing Spider-Man, Prometheus…so many great movies coming out this summer! I can’t wait!

And now, The Avengers. THE AVENGERS. I can say the following with complete conviction: I’ve never had so much fun watching a movie as I did while watching The Avengers. It managed to throw humor, action, and quality acting together to make one of the best movies I’ve ever seen. EVERYONE should see this movie. Really, if you haven’t already, you should go see it. The score by Alan Silvestri (Back to the Future, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Captain America: The First Avenger) was fantastic as well…the track “The Avengers” is now my ringtone!

I only had a couple of classes the next day, and they were pretty evenly spaced out throughout the day, so it wasn’t anything that I couldn’t handle, even on limited sleep. However, once I was done for the day, I went back to the room and crashed. I slept from 4 to 6:45, at which point I shaved and got semi-dressed up for a musical audition at 7. The audition was for next fall’s musical, Stephen Sondheim’s A Little Night Music, and my audition went well, but, after I had told the director that I’m a Goin’ Band section leader next fall, he told me that there would be no possible way for me to do the show. Oh well!

I came straight back to the room and proceeded to sleep some more, this time until about 10:30 or 10:45ish. I woke up, played video games for a few hours, surfed the Internet some, and then went to bed at 4ish or something.

Get this – the next day, I was in bed until 7pm. I know, crazy, right?! There was nothing pressing that I had to do or attend, and I didn’t feel like doing much else, so I just stayed in bed all day. I woke up several times throughout the morning and afternoon, but I officially woke at 5, staying in bed for another couple of hours, playing games on my phone.

When I finally got out of bed, I grabbed dinner and wasted away in the room. I returned to the comics that I had downloaded onto my iPad last summer, reading some Spider-Man, Fantastic 4, Iron Man, and the first issue of The Avengers. Good stuff.

I again went to bed at 4, but I was up early enough to make it to church in the morning. I came back to the room after church, changing into some more relaxed clothes and eating a quick lunch before heading back out and meeting Lexi at the movie theater for round 2 of The Avengers! It was actually Lexi’s third time to see it…her goal was to see it 4 times opening weekend; she ended up seeing it for the fourth time on Monday! It was just as good the second time, and I’ll be honest…I plan on seeing it at least once more in theaters. I’ve got to see it in IMAX 3D back home!

Later Sunday evening, I went to the University Bands’ concert at the music building, which was lots of fun. I went to last year’s concert as well. Though the University Bands are comprised of mostly non-music majors or music majors playing secondary instruments, their end-of-the-year concerts are lots of fun because they typically feature movie music, which, as you all know, is my favorite!

The better of the two bands was the first to perform. They played a piece about/for/in memory of Rosa Parks, which was probably my favorite of the ones they played (Rachel, my co-section leader, had a solo or two! She sounded great!). The first band also played some music from a few video games and an Eric Whitacre piece and music from John Williams’ score for Far and Away. They were really good, though! The second band wasn’t as good, but their program was still fun. They played music from Pirates of the Caribbean: On Stranger Tides and Star Wars, as well as something else that I don’t remember. Still lots of fun, though!

That night, I did my music theory final exam review that was due in class the next day, which was really easy. Then I hit the hay!

We’re almost caught up…hang in there!

Monday was pretty simple. Theory was spent going over the review, and all we did in woodwind methods was turn in our instruments and notebooks. I got an A in the class, so I don’t have to take the final that would have been next Tuesday, which is a relief…I get to go home a day earlier now! We had our final music history lecture, which was interesting, but it wasn’t exactly what I had hoped it would be; last spring, our teacher ended the year by bringing his accordion to class and playing for us, which was awesome! Oh well. I really enjoyed this iteration of the music history class; after the final on Saturday, I’m done with undergraduate music history classes! Hooray! My only other classes that day were band and piano, which were pretty standard. Done with those too (minus my piano final on Friday)!

Monday evening was spent typing out my 4-page paper for my science class that was due today. It was really pretty easy; it had to be about anything in the field of biology that interested us, so I wrote about stem cell research. Michael J. Fox first introduced me to stem cells in his memoirs. As you should know, he was diagnosed with Parkinson’s disease in 1991 and since has become an advocate for funding further stem cell research.

Stem cell research is also really controversial, but only one area: embryonic stem cell research. This involves taking an embryo five days after an egg has been fertilized, called a blastocyst at this stage. The debate is whether or not an embryo this early in development can be considered “living” or not. My personal opinion? Yes, they are living at this point, so they should not be used for stem cell research.

HOWEVER, there are lots of stem cells are thrown away for no reason, and I think that they should be taken advantage of. No matter your moral stance on embryonic stem cells, the fact of the matter is that further research into this area may eventually provide the key to curing diseases previously though incurable, such as cancer, cardiovascular disease, and Parkinson’s disease. I need to look further into this area so that I can form a better opinion. I encourage all of you to look into this and other issues of political debate…this stuff matters.

Anyway, I finished my paper and eventually went to bed. My science class was my only real class today, so I woke up and went to class at 9:30, turned in my paper, listened to a brief lecture, and then returned to the room. Back in the room, I finished up my Powerpoint presentation for my movie project that I’ve been working on for the past month, the conclusions of which we presented in our final lab today. It went well.

Our last horn studio for the semester was at 5. I practiced on my horn for a while after it was over, and then I came back to the room and just messed around. I balanced my checkbook, I listened to music, I read some of my book, etc. When Andrew got off work, we walked to Chipotle for dinner, and then I just did more of the same thing. Exciting, huh?

Now, I’m about to hit the hay. I have no obligations tomorrow until 1 in the afternoon, at which point I’m meeting with my accompanist and my horn lesson teacher to practice my jury piece for a while, after which I will be meeting with my friend John (who directed CCBB last year) for lunch. I haven’t seen him in a while, so it’ll be great to see him! Later in the evening, I have my final voice performance lab that I have to sing at at 5:30, and then I am heading over to Lexi’s house for a game night with her and one of her friends, which should also be lots of fun.

Less than a week until I’m home!

Welp, I know it’s been more than a week since my last post, but this is my longest post in quite a while, so I hope it was worth the wait. Goodnight!

Chad

P.S. – Want a good place to read more about stem cell research? Click HERE for the source that I used to write my paper. Do it!

Boomroasted.

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So, this past weekend was pretty much the most boring thing ever. With my music history research paper out of the way and no other homework to hold me down, I pretty much sat around and did nothing all weekend.

On Friday night, I was up until 2 or 3 in the morning before I decided to go to bed. I woke up on Saturday morning at about 9ish, thought to myself, “Is there anything I want to get up and do right now?”, decided there wasn’t, and then went back to sleep. I repeated this process for the next several hours until 3:45pm came around. At this point, I realized that I had to be at a recital at 4, so I finally got out of bed, got dressed, and made it up to the music building on time. The recital was for a graduate student, so it was nearly an hour and a half long, but, since I had had plenty of sleep, I had no problem staying awake the whole time.

When the recital was over, I went back to Sneed, grabbed some food, and then joined Andrew in the room. The Jason Segel movie Forgetting Sarah Marshall was on, which I hadn’t seen before, so we watched for a while before I hopped in the shower and then got ready for our choir concert on Saturday night. This concert wasn’t just us Matador Singers, though. It was all of the choirs combined together, so there were lots of us up there singing together. We sang along with the orchestra/band combo, which was really cool. We sang Mozart’s Requiem, which was really super awesome. The extra rehearsals leading up to the concert were awful, but I really enjoyed the performance itself.

After the concert, Andrew went and hung out with some of his fraternity friends, while I chilled out in the room, getting in bed at 2 or so. I woke up for church the next morning, but all we really did was have an extended Sunday school meeting in which we discussed future social opportunities for us as a group. Somehow, the fact that I’m playing horn for a musical this summer got brought up, so everyone started making plans to visit Dallas as a group to see the musical I’m playing for, to maybe visit Six Flags, and to even go to the Medieval Times restaurant place in June, which is really cool! I’m excited to see if they’ll all be able to come and check it out.

I had a Goin’ Band leadership meeting at 1, where we all took turns teaching each other some of the band’s marching techniques. That went on for about an hour before Rachel and I went and uncased all of the marching horns to make sure that they were in working order and didn’t have to be sent to the shop over the summer before marching season next fall. From there, Rachel and I said goodbye, and I joined a girl from my theory class in the Student Union Building to finish a project that we were partnered for. It only took us about 20 minutes to get what we needed done done, but then we sat around and talked to each other for a couple of hours, which was nice since we had never really talked to each other before.

The rest of my day was spent doing pretty much nothing in the room. I ended up cleaning up a bit, emptying out all of our trash and stuff so that the room was a little tidier, but, other than that, I just sat around, bored.

Today was pretty awesome though, for a couple of different reasons. Theory and woodwind methods weren’t anything special, but today was the day we were supposed to get our music history research grades. Our class rolled around, and, while we didn’t have our own personal grades just yet, all of the papers WERE graded, so he told us how many people got each grade. There were 21 As and only 6 failing grades, with everyone else getting Bs and Cs; at this point, I was fairly positive that my paper wasn’t bad enough to make me one of the students with the failing research paper grade. I was thinking that I would be getting a B or a C, which was fine with me since he was giving us all the opportunity to revise and resubmit our papers for a possible higher grade. Our individual grades were posted online a few hours later, and guess what? I got a 98! It was completely unexpected; remember, this was the paper that I started and finished within a 34-hour time frame of no sleep, so I didn’t think it was THAT high quality, but, wow! I was certainly surprised, and even more relieved…a 98 meant that I was completely done with this paper! Huzzah!

The rest of my classes flew by, and I was back in the room before too long. Andrew and I watched a couple of episodes of How I Met Your Mother before he had to go to work, at which point I pulled out my paperback copy of Mitch Albom’s Tuesdays with Morrie, the book that I’ve read at least once a year since I first read it for school in 8th grade. In case you don’t want to do the math, that means that this was at least my 7th time reading it, maybe even my 8th or 9th. In any case, Tuesdays with Morrie is the one book that I’ve read more than any other book I’ve ever read. I LOVE it. If you haven’t read it, you should. I’ve learned a lot from this book and from the lessons it teaches; it’s the only book that I’ve willingly highlighted material in. It can change your life if you let it! Anyway, I picked it up, started reading nonstop, and had it finished less than 3 hours later. So good!

Andrew eventually made it back to the room after work. I grabbed dinner, and we proceeded to put on more How I Met Your Mother, watching several episodes before calling it quits for the night; it’s too late to watch any more. It’s time for bed!

I’m sorry if this post has been sort of disjointed and abrupt; it’s late, I’ve been watching HIMYM, and I’m ready for bed. So goodnight!

Chad

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