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

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Arise

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Hello there everyone!

This week has actually been fairly boring, so there’s really not all that much to talk about. Here’s stuff that happened this week, in no particular order.

Remember me saying that my science class was actually being co-taught by two different professors? Well, the part of the class taught by the first professor is over (thank goodness). This was the teacher with the stupid tests…by the way, I ended up getting an A on that last test I told you about. So that’s good, I s’pose. Anyway, the “new” professor is the guy who has been in charge of our lab all semester long, so no he teaches both our lab and our normal class. He’s a lot better, in more ways than one: 1) he does more teaching than just reading off a Powerpoint presentation and assigning readings; 2) he doesn’t give stupid tests; 3) he’s more likeable as a person. We had our first test over this “new guy’s” material today, and I actually struggled with it a little bit because it was the first time we actually had to bother with knowing content in this class, but don’t worry, I think I did okay.

I downloaded an app on my iPad the other day called procreate. It’s a drawing app that is actually really kind of professional, meaning that a legitimate artist could pick it up and make a masterpiece right there on his iPad. Since I am not a professional artist, I started off by drawing Perry the Platypus. It turned out pretty awesome! Since then, I drew several Muppets, and by “draw” I mean “pasted the picture into the app, traced it, and then colored it in”. They look pretty awesome…maybe one day I’ll be able to draw them without having to trace!

I started a sort of tradition this week; well, I CALL it a tradition, but we’ll see how long it actually lasts. First, I need to tell you about an iPhone/iPad app called GetGlue. This app is designed to help you share with your friends and with the world what you are doing, i.e. what movie you’re watching, what musician you’re listening to, what book you’re reading, etc. As you use the app more and more, you unlock stickers related to whatever material you may be doing, and, eventually, you can get the actual stickers that you’ve earned sent to you in the mail. Anyway, back to the tradition I mentioned. On Monday, during my lunch break, I pulled out my headphones and picked a movie soundtrack to listen to. Then I open the GetGlue app and tell everyone what I’m listening to and tweet it with my Twitter hashtag “#soundtrackoftheday”. The first day was Michael Giacchino’s Star Trek, the next was Daft Punk’s TRON: Legacy, then Thomas Newman’s Finding Nemo, then James Newton Howard’s Atlantis: The Lost Empire, and then today’s was Jerry Goldsmith’s Star Trek: The Motion Picture, a soundtrack that I actually own (and listened to) on vinyl. It’s fun to listen to these on a regular basis, especially since I own so many of them, and to share my favorites with everyone else.

Speaking of vinyl, I used my record player for the first time in a while this week. As the semester rolled on, a pile of stuff built up on top of the record player, but, because I cleaned up a bit due to Andrew’s family coming in town last weekend, the player was clear and ready to be used. Before I left Mesquite Easter weekend to come back to Lubbock, I bought The Eagles’ Greatest Hits on vinyl, so that was the first album I listened to on my record player this week. I then listened to Paul McCartney and Wings’ Wings Over America live album, followed by The Beatles’ 1962-1966 (the so-called “Red Album”), and then today was the Star Trek: The Motion Picture. It feels good to get the vinyl back out again.

As you should all know, I have a British penpal who I met on Twitter. Well, through tweeting with her and exchanging letters, I learned that she’s only had Reese’s once before because they are not readily available over in the UK where she lives. Deeming this unacceptable and being the best penpal EVER, I decided to take it upon myself to properly introduce her to Reese’s. I bought one of just about every single kind of Reese’s available, including normal, dark chocolate, white chocolate, egg-shaped, Nutrageous, Fast Break, Crispy Crunchy, Big Cup, Pieces, etc., stuffed them into a box with my letter, and put it in the mail today. How awesome am I?! Haha. I was surprised to find how inexpensive it was to ship this package, which easily weighed a pound or two, to the UK; aside from the cost of the candy itself (most of which I picked up with my Raidercard dining bucks), I only payed $20 to ship it to England. Awesome! She’s agreed to send me some British candy with her next letter as well, so I’m plenty excited!

Tonight, we had a 2012 Goin’ Band section leaders meeting, at which we got our first glimpse of one of next fall’s marching shows. The particular show we looked at was the show that the members of Goin’ Band voted on, a Villains show. Music playlist consisting of: “O Fortuna” from Carl Orff’s Carmina Burana, Thriller by Michael Jackson, the Imperial March from Star Wars by John Williams, Back in Black by AC/DC, “Mars” from The Planets by Holst, Another One Bites the Dust by Queen, Bad by Michael Jackson, and the Phantom of the Opera by Andrew Lloyd Webber. Quite a set list, huh? It should be lots of fun. Rachel, the other section leader, and I decided to meet up some time next week so that we could establish our goals for the horn section in the fall…we’re gonna have an awesome section!

That’s pretty much it. Tomorrow, after classes get out, I drive home. Blake’s Variety Show at Poteet is this weekend, and I’m able to drive home and see it. I won’t make it to tomorrow night’s performance, but I’ll definitely be at Saturday’s! Then Sunday I get to drive back to Lubbock, go to a choir rehearsal, and then type up my research paper. Lots of fun in store for me in this coming week!

Goodnight, everyone!

Chad

Conflicts and stuff.

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Today wasn’t too eventful, but I promised that I’d try to post everyday on here again, so here I am!

Andrew and I both slept late today, not getting out of bed until after 11 (admittedly, probably closer to noon). For some reason, I initially thought that the Titanic the Musical audition that I was going to started at 1, but it turns out that it didn’t start until 2. While I waited to leave, I got dressed and walked across the street to Subway, where I got my usual sandwich with two changes: I used wheat bread instead of white and only got a six-inch rather than my normal foot-long sandwich. I know that my choice of sandwich still isn’t the healthiest, but I figured that these were good steps in the right direction. Maybe I can eventually try a different, healthier sandwich, but I’m taking small steps.

I left the room for the audition at about 1:45, riding my bike across campus to the parking garage where I keep my car. I got to Lubbock Community Theatre, where the auditions were being held, and I started filling out an info sheet. When I reached the part of the sheet asking about conflicts, I first listed things like Court Jesters and voice/horn lessons. I eventually got to Matador Singers obligations, so I pulled up an email from the choir director on my phone only to realize that we have a concert on the same night as the only performance of Titanic! I was so bummed! Oh well; there’s always a next time! (I said I wouldn’t tell you what my audition song was because I didn’t want John to know ahead of my audition. Now that I’m not auditioning, I’ll tell you that I was going to be singing the Baker’s end solo from “No More”, from Into the Woods.)

I stopped by Sonic on the way back to campus, getting drinks for both Andrew and I. Back in the room, I finally pulled out letters that had been written to me back in September that I had never responded to…I know, I’m an awful penpal! What’s even worse is that I had written a 5- or 6-page letter to Shauna, my British penpal, not soon after receiving hers, but I never sent it! I wrote new responses to all of them and apologized, promising to be more proactive with my letter-writing this semester. Can’t wait to keep in contact with them! I have three penpals: two I met on Twitter, and one is a high school friend, Claire. Don’t tell them that I’ve responded, though! I want my letter popping up in the mail to be a surprise.

The rest of the day was spent watching Captain America with Andrew, eating dinner (I tried a steamed Cajun shrimp and chicken meal that they sold in Sam’s Place; it was good, and supposedly really healthy), and playing a little bit of LEGO Pirates of the Caribbean on my XBox 360. Now, I’m about to get ready for bed, read my book for a while, and then get to sleep. I go back to church here in Lubbock in the morning for the first time since early December, and I need to wake up early enough to shower beforehand. Other than that, I don’t really have plans for tomorrow. I have a homework assignment to do, and some reading for a class, but, other than that, I have no school obligations just yet. Another lazy day ahead of me!

Anyway, that’s all for tonight. Goodnight, everyone!

Chad