Saturday, July 28, 2012

the Olympics!

They are so exciting! The opening ceremony was weird...O.o. But they're always fun to watch.

The Olympics are also very confusing! I was all upset/confused yesterday cause there are so many events at different times and the results come out before they're shown on TV and basically I'm terrified of missing an event I want to yeah.

My favorite overall Olympic event is figure skating! But since it's Summer Olympics, the ones I'm looking forward most to are gymnastics, swimming, taekwondo, sailing, volleyball, triathalon, synch swimming, and diving!

Watching Hetalia lends a very interesting edge to the Olympics...I was watching the Parade of Nations and Belarus came on and I was like "BELARUS!!! ! ! ! ! !!!!!!!!!"

and my family was like "wut O.o"

same reaction for Latvia and Estonia.

hetalia trailer just because.


Thursday, July 19, 2012

for some reason just spent 20+ minutes watching all the Hetalia countries sing "Marukaite Chikyuu"

Anime Fangirls: because it makes perfect sense spend lots
 of free time willingly watching videos in a language you don't understand.

I have come from being an animehater to actually understanding the obssession. It's quite an addicting subculture, actually. And it really does draw people closer. In my very shallow experience with it, I have found out that quite a few of my friends are avid anime fanatics, but they never talk about it, just the same as I never talk about it except on the internet. It's quite an underground movement. And usually when two anime fans discover each other, it brings them even closer. I've never met two anime fans who disliked each other. There's just something about it that makes people believe in themselves and each other. XD Like "If they like anime, there's no way they can be a bad person." It's very weird. XD

Hetalia is what would happen if history were a reality show with the countries personified as people. It's amazing XD <333

this is all 18 but shorter songs

This is the America one. I watched it and flinched. Is this how other countries really see America? ("Our beef and our dreams are super-sized!" ouch.)


Sunday, July 15, 2012

article from Orson Scott Card's visit to the set of Ender's Game

sI know this is late(the article was published in May). but I just saw it and oh my gosh...I'm so excited! I cannot wait for this movie to come out. I just finished Ender's Shadow, a parallel novel to Ender's Game and along with Ender's Game, one of the best books I've ever read.

I'm a little concerned when he said that most of the scenes in the movie weren't from the book(actually, a LOT concerned. O.O). But he seems very happy with it. Here's the excerpt from the Greensboro Rhino Times that talks about his visit to the set of the movie.

Speaking of movies, I was on the set of Ender's Game last week to record my one line in the movie – a voiceover of a pilot making an announcement to his passengers.

Let me assure you that there is nothing exciting about being a spectator at the filming of a movie. It's hard work, it takes hours to shoot a 30-second scene, things are done over and over, and in between shots there's nothing but ... waiting.

However, if you're actually working, it can be intense and fascinating.

I sat, off-camera, reading my sole line, which comes in the middle of a scene between Harrison Ford as Col. Graff and Asa Butterfield as Ender Wiggin.

The scene does not come from the book – very few of the scenes in this movie do – so it was amusing when others asked me how it felt to have my book brought to life. My book was already alive in the mind of every reader. This is writer-director Gavin Hood's movie, so they were his words, and it was his scene.

So what I was concentrating on was how Ford and Butterfield worked with the lines, with the director, with the camera and with each other.

If you don't understand what you're seeing, it could look as if they were doing nothing at all. Their line readings were flat (by stage standards) and barely audible (boom mikes picked up sounds that were barely audible 10 feet away). They had almost no facial expressions.

And they were superb. Film acting, especially in closeup, is not about facial expressions. It's about what's going on behind the actors' eyes. And it's about timing.

The scene got more and more minimal as the takes went on. What had been an arm grab and a shrug became a mere touch on the shoulder and a single glance at the hand.

And the less they did, the better the scene became. What mattered was the timing – when Ford put his hand on Butterfield's shoulder, how long it took Butterfield to glance at the hand, how long before he looked away and when the hand was withdrawn.

When it comes time to edit the movie, the actors will have given the editor a vast menu of choices to get just the right effect.

On the set, however, it was wonderful to see how Ford and Butterfield responded to each other's timing. It was such a delicate dance – and they worked perfectly together.

Twice, I saw Ford give a tiny suggestion to Butterfield. The suggestion in both cases was excellent; and in both cases, Butterfield understood completely and executed perfectly.

The scene may or may not work as planned; for all I know, it might not end up in the movie. But if it's there, the audience will experience it as reality – we won't stop and think of all the many different ways it could have played.

But the actors thought of it, and almost every one of the different ways they played it worked well.

The odd thing is that Harrison Ford gets little credit for the brilliance of his acting, because he's so real that audiences think that's just how he is.

Nonsense. Ford is a very inward man; everything he does on screen is acting, it's all very, very hard to do, and the fact that you think he's just being himself tells you how outstanding an actor he is.

And Butterfield is showing himself to be, not a child actor, but an actor who happens to be young. I've always said that, as a director, I'd rather have smart actors than talented ones, because your smart actors listen and change, and with those who fancy themselves talented, you have to rely on chance to get your performance.

Butterfield is smart. That really helps when he's supposed to bring off a preternaturally intelligent character. Actors can easily play dumb, but I've never seen an actor bring off a character that is smarter than he is. He's convincing as Ender Wiggin, so if the movie doesn't work, it won't be Butterfield's fault.

Besides that intense time doing offscreen line readings while two fine actors were at work, I got a chance to explore the gorgeous sets designed and built by teams headed by production designers Sean Haworth and Ben Procter.

Again, they were not building anything from the book, so I wasn't seeing my ideas brought to life. Their job was to build the scenery dreamed up by Gavin Hood for his story, and they have done a wonderful job.

I love looking at well-designed sets – tough enough to be safe for the actors to work on, yet not wasting a dime on anything that won't show on camera. Haworth and Procter are a great team.

Haworth was art director on a few films you've heard of – Thor, TRON: Legacy, Avatar, both Transformers movies, Eagle Eye, Men in Black II, Mission Impossible III and many others. And Procter, though newer, worked with Haworth on the most recent of these.

The movie Ender's Game is going to look great.

But the real challenge has always been the freefall movement of the kids in the battle room. Traditional wire work, as in Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon and Spider-Man, simply won't work in the battle room, because wires absolutely depend on gravity.

That is, they allow actors to defy gravity, but the gravity is still there, revealed in every movement of the actors.

In the battle room, with gravity nullified, there is no up or down. Bodies have to move in ways dependent on inertia, not on gravity.

So I always assumed that the battle room would be filmed by animating the human figures and then pasting the actors' face onto the result, figuratively speaking.

The trouble is that there are certain fundamental problems that computer animations have not yet solved. There's the walking problem, for instance – most animations don't show footfalls, because it never looks real. Never.

Even using motion capture, there's something false in the way animated feet hit the ground and then flex and extend to move the person forward.

So there was going to be a constant challenge in showing the characters hitting walls and rebounding. It was going to be fake, and the best we could hope for was that in the editing, the falseness would be minimized.

But stunt coordinator Garrett Warren took what he learned from the weightless work he did on Avatar built on it.

There is a mechanism used for training gymnasts – a wheel they wear around their waists that allows them to rotate in space while suspended from wires. Warren used this on Avatar, which allows a great deal of apparent freedom of movement in space – once the computer artists have erased the wheel rig, you can't tell that there's any way a wire could have been attached.

But this is only the beginning. The illusion of freefall depends on the actors' moving correctly. Where gravity naturally draws their limbs downward, in zero-gravity the arms and legs and heads continue in the direction of the last movement, until something stops them.

For the most difficult stunts, Warren brought in dancers from Cirque de Soleil. Being gymnasts by training, they tend to be small – they can bring off the illusion of children's bodies.

And they have the strength and training to do constant movements and poses that defy gravity, without ever looking as if they're working hard.

But all the children playing these roles had to do wire work themselves. Fitted with the wheel rigs, they were being moved through space like puppets – and at every moment, they had to make sure their "nonvolitional" movements followed the rules of inertia-driven rather than gravity-driven motion.

It was agonizing. Human muscles aren't meant to work like that. And Warren was watching everything, playing it back again and again, catching any false movements.

Get it wrong? Then you do it again.

Oh, how these kids suffered! I'm sure many of them had times when they dreaded each day's work.

But human bodies adapt, and by the end of filming, they were all in superb physical shape. They were good at these dancelike movements. They had acquired a complete skill set, along with the required musculature, to perform an art that, with any luck, they will never have to use again.

Their suffering on the wires in the battle room helped them bond into a team. On the wires, there were no stars, no grunts. Everybody had to learn the same skills, do the same moves. They were equals.

So filming the battle room did the same job for the cast that the battle room itself was intended to do for the young students in the fictional Battle School – form them into cohesive teams.

These kids can take such pride in what they learned and what they accomplished. Everything that they were called on to do, they did – with style.

Here's the irony. Because Garrett Warren did his work so well, when you watch the movie, you won't ever think, Wow, that was so hard! It will simply look as if they're moving through null-gravity space. You'll be concentrating on the story and the people, not the techniques.

But if Garrett Warren doesn't get a special technical Oscar for his achievement on this film, then there truly ain't no justice. I've seen enough of the result to know that he has brought off the miracle of filming zero-gravity while still on planet Earth.

And almost everything you'll see in that battle room, real people did. The computers didn't animate it – they merely made the wires and rigs invisible.

That's my full report on everything I did and saw during my six hours on the set of the Ender's Game movie.

During those hours I saw, to my great pleasure, that it's a happy set – people enjoy their work and take pride in it.

That's very important to me. I've seen movie sets where the selfishness and stupidity of the director makes the experience hellish for everyone involved, or where casts and crews tear themselves apart with rivalries and resentments.

I wanted Ender's Game to be a joy to work on, so that the kids especially would take away good memories of their time involved in making the movie.

And, from what I could see, that's what the community of filmmakers have accomplished.

Can you believe it? I just want time to kind of zoom forward now....I can't believe I'll have to wait more than a year! D:< Hopefully they'll get a trailer going to kind of stave us off.... 

Friday, July 13, 2012

{problems facing young Christians today, pt 2}

Hello! This post is the second in a series I began in...erm, last November. I couldn't figure out the right things to say until now, so hope you enjoy it! This post is to equip/convict my Christian readers.

Nowadays, some Christians value political correctness more than anything else. The most important thing is to not offend people, to keep the water nice and calm. God is a "taboo" subject, just the same as it is with non-Christians.  Our culture preaches tolerance and outspokenness--for everybody except Christians.  You want to tell everybody about your drunken exploits or drug use, then we all have to accept you and listen. But when it comes to Christianity, we're taught to be quiet and not "force our beliefs on anybody" by not mentioning it.

And many Christians my age are perfectly fine with it, unfortunately. We go along with the crowd and bend to the world's wishes that we keep Christianity to ourselves. We come up with excuses to please everybody else. In our churches, we're radical and on fire for God, but everywhere else, we're quiet and subdued.

Jesus wasn't politically correct! He was probably one of the least politically correct people of his time. He called the church leaders "sons of vipers",  for goodness sakes! People wanted to kill this guy for a reason! And we are told to follow in his footsteps.

Our purpose is to please God, not people. He alone examines the motives of our hearts.
1 Thessalonians 2:4b.

I struggle with this very much. I've always prided myself on my ability to fit in, to get along with everybody, to be liked by even the most contrary people. I love fitting in, being comfortable, being loved! It's natural. 

But Jesus said : "Woe to you when all men speak well of you!" Truth should divide. If everyone likes you and everybody agrees with you, there's something wrong. It means you don't really stand for anything, when your beliefs(or your expressions of your beliefs) are so low key and so generic, they fit into everybody's mold. Is it possible that someone could spend the whole day with you and not know you're a Christian by the end of it?

Of course you should be considerate and not shove your religion down people's throats. You should also be aware of when the right timing is. But other people's feelings or opinions of you shouldn't be a barrier when deciding to share Christ, as long as you do it in a loving, gentle(but still firm and 100% not watered down) manner.

And what about when your friends talk about God or God-related things, and ask your opinion?

I'm ashamed to say that the topic has come up many times with my nonbeliever friends, and I let the opportunity slide by and say nothing, or come up with a lame, wishy washy response.

Some of the most common excuses:

"I believe that people who are just good/nice/honest go to heaven no matter what they believe, so they don't really need to believe in Jesus, so I don't have to tell them." or "People don't have to believe everything in the Bible or Jesus. It's optional, so long as they're basically good."

 This is really common for non believers, but it's not something Christians should believe or say at all, as it completely discounts our most basic beliefs of Jesus dying on the cross to save our sins. This is a nice belief. People will hear it and smile and nod, no matter what they think on the inside. 

If you believe this, you don't have to share your faith! You don't have to worry about your unsaved friends! You don't have to be set on fire for anything, be mission-minded, be passionate! You can live your life at peace and in comfort, knowing that everyone is taken care of and set for eternity. And to think you didn't have to do any work for it at all!

It's safe. Not to mention against preettyyy much the entire Bible. More on this later.

"I believe that I can share God just by living my life to be a good witness to those around me.  God forbid I'd actually have to open my mouth and share Him with nonbelievers. That's the missionary's/pastor's job. It's not my spiritual gift to be able to verbally share him with others."

   Certainly, letting your light shine and witnessing by living a pure, righteous life is necessary for every Christian. But it's only the first step(Your ministry would be totally ineffective without it anyways). If you live a righteous life, but the people around you have no idea WHY, it's a waste. The Bible says to give a reason!
This is another easy, comfy, excuse not to step outside your comfort zone.

And God has called each and every one of us to share God with our fellow people. The introverts as well as the outgoing people. He equips those he calls. Take the next step! (I'll post practical steps you can take in a later post).

Many people, including leaders, believed in Jesus. But they wouldn't talk about it publicly out of their fear that the Pharisees would expel them from the synagogue. They loved human approval more than they loved the approval of God.

-John 12:42-43. 

 What do you say when you're asked the tough questions. You know the ones: "Is homosexuality a sin?" "Why would God send good people to hell?"

How about when an unbeliever asks you "Is Jesus the only way to heaven?"

If you say:

"Aw, well...I'm leaving it up to God."

It's really between them and God."

"I believe God loves everybody and doesn't want them to go to hell...soooo..."

"Well um, I think the Bible says that, um, if you're just sincere.."(The Bible says nothing like that. Like my pastor says, you can be sincerely WRONG!)

  when you know the Bible proclaims the truth CRYSTAL CLEAR, you're punting the truth. Passing. Straight-up denying what God's Word says. You're brushing God aside. And for what?

So that they accept you, love you, agree with you?
So you can avoid the stares, whispers, rejection?

So you can line yourself up neatly with their values while disaligning yourself with God? Who's more important?

(And at church, you say: "Of course Jesus is the only way to heaven! I'd never believe anything else.")

If anyone is ashamed of me and my words, I, the Son of Man will be ashamed of him when I come in my glory and in the glory of my Father and of the holy angels.
-Luke 9:26

God doesn't want his kids to be lukewarm, wishy washy Christians. So don't let what other people think be a barrier to you sharing Christ. Live for an audience of one.  Feel no shame when people attack you for sharing God's Word. 

Remember, one day you'll stand before God's throne and give an account of everything you ever did. Every word that came out of your mouth.  God will ask if you stood up for him when the pressure was on. When people were raising their eyebrows, waiting expectantly for your words. When the odds were stacked against you and you knew that there seemed to be no one on your side but you. What will you say?

You know the truth. You don't have to be pushy or obnoxious or even demand anything of your audience.  Just don't make approval and political correctness your idol. You don't have to have it all figured out! Your testimony should be simple. "Look at what God's done for me! Before, I was an empty boat, tossed about by life's waves. "free", but with no purpose or destination. But God forgave my sin! He set me free from my fear and insecurity and gave my life meaning. He loves me and wrote my destiny. With Him, the world makes sense. He will never fail me. And if you return to Him and agree to be part of His family, He will never fail you either."

And that's all you have to do.

 Of course, Jesus didn't have the internet. The exception is: NEVER get into an argument over touchy subjects on the internet.  People are out to troll you and you'll never reach their hearts anyway, since you lack the one-to-one connection needed to share Christ. A personal relationship with someone else is always the first step toward eventually sharing Christ with them.

Oh, and don't forget: This is not all a matter of going to heaven and not going to heaven. Jesus is about way more than that. There's a lot that we need Him for right now.

Thursday, July 5, 2012

Happy Late Independence Day!

I did not in fact go see fireworks, instead preferring to stay at home, edit pictures from Costa Rica, and go mountain biking  I didn't actually know how to mountain bike(thought it was like regular biking) so when I came down from a steep hill I fell(launched is a more appropriate term), and now I have scratches on my chin, both elbows, knee, and stomach. >.>

I'm still reading Brisingr and Ender's Shadow, saving the last Fruits Basket volume still. I can't bear to let go...

Today I was looking at colleges. My summer's almost over, man! I gotta get cracking on this stuff. The problem is that I have no idea what I want to be when i grow up. (Except I do know that I want to occasionally write). I'm looking at some kind of double engineering/English major. I know I want to go somewhere a decent way from my home. Somewhere cold, or at least no warmer than here. I want the campus to have big trees and old stone buildings. The complete list of colleges that I've been looking at: Stanford, UC Berkeley, UC Irvine, University of Chicago, Swarthmore, Brown, Reed, and Harvey Mudd.

Dance is on summer break now, but next week we're in full swing. I'm going to take as many classes as possible, meaning I'm only restricted by my level. Time isn't an issue, as I'm free all week, and money isn't either(for a while) cause I have tons of make ups.

Another of the many benefits of dancing is it really cuts down on envy. Like, I used to envy other people and wish I were them with alll my heart. But I don't anymore, because most of the people I envy don't dance. And I couldn't imagine my life without dancing, so there. Same goes for Fruits Basket and stuff like that. XD

I promise a real post "soon". agh.
In other news, I've started Hetalia: Axis Powers. It's officially the most bizarre thing I've ever seen in my entire life.

Even more bizarre than this...thing. (UPDATE: It's called a sea pig. Google it).

Also, you can win a book from Marisa's Book Depository giveaway here!