Tuesday, November 27, 2012

slightly obsessed with colleges lately

Not the actual work part. Just the "shopping" aspect of it, getting to look at all the different places and making a list, and annoying all my senior friends about their apps which they're trying to forget.

I didn't want to go to college here in California because I didn't want the same old boring sunny gorgeous weather, I wanted bricks and ivy covered buildings and snow and Hogwarts.

http://colleges.usnews.rankingsandreviews.com/img/college-photo_8866._445x280-zmm.jpg

like so.


I'm excited to start the process, but I just have to concentrate on my grades and SAT prep and Gold Award and attempt at Scholastic awards. And it doesn't help that I spend so much time reading college rankings and college confidential.

http://www.providenceri.com/richardbenjamin/Brown_11_01.jpg

I'm still applying to three colleges here in California though. I do  have a history of homesickness. The nearest one is Harvey Mudd(like half an hour away O_o) EXTREMELY un-ivy and un-Hogwarts but a really awesome program.

I'm interested to see how my 11 years of online-schooling go over. Do any of you know homeschoolers who went to some pretty good colleges? My school has a list of colleges that their students got accepted into, they include some of the most prestigious colleges, but the amount I actually know is small. One of my friends was accepted to Cornell(and is going to UCLA) but that's it.
http://www.mansionsuites.com/img//CMU_campus_Cathedral_Learning_background.jpg

The newest addition to my now eight-college list is Carnegie Mellon university in Pittsburgh. I heard about it, but I wasn't going to look at it, but I just ended up looking at it anyway. I'm trying to decide how much of my decision is biased by the fact that it's in PITTSBURGH. Like, where Dance Moms is. XD I could totally dance at their studio(not really, I looked it up and it's 20 minutes away), but still.

What colleges are you looking at?  :) Anyone want to come to awesome Southern California? (there are some GREAT colleges here, but too close to home. :0 )

Thursday, November 22, 2012

Happy Thanksgiving!

Hello! Another Thanksgiving sneaks up upon us....

It's perfectly placed actually, because I've been feeling insecure and mopey and self-pitying lately. Cause of college and having to compete with all these epic smart accomplished people.

But as thankfulness is the antidote for all that, here is a list of what I"m thankful for.

1.) The One who saved me from my own sin and continues to save me from stuff every day. Thank you God , for always being there, as the song goes: never delaying, always coming through for me when I most need it.
2.) My awesome family. Thanks for staying sane another year!
3.) My awesome internet friends, including but not limited to: Fally, Auty, Rachely, Abby, Savannah, and allllllll the many many TLF girls. I love all of you(even if my life is several years shorter) and I couldn't imagine this year without you.
4.) My awesome but few IRL friends. Thanks for making me feel loved IRL and not totally anti-social <3 p="p">5.) The internet. XD
6.) School! I'm thankful that I've been able to stay afloat this year. AP Chem was kind of scary, but I'm okay now.
7.) Girl Scouts!
8,) Awesome books like Ender's Game
9.) Piano!
10,) Dance

Have a good Thanksgiving everyone!



Saturday, November 17, 2012

November and colleges


Hello!
I'm having a unusually relaxed November because of my lack of NaNoWriMo. I do miss it, a lot.

I've been thinking about entering in the national Scholastic Art and Writing awards, a prestigous recognition program that gives out awards in all kinds of categories, from fashion design to architecture to poems. I've been thinking about either submitting in the novel character(outline+first fifty pages) or writing a short memoir-type story about dance or homeschooling or something.

http://www.artandwriting.org/

Whatever it is, I have to make up my mind soon, because the submission early deadline is Nov. 29th and the regular is Dec. 7th.

Otherwise, things are going good on most fronts. I've been worried/researching about colleges recently. All the ones I like are really good, but I'm afraid I won't be good enough to get into them. My grades are as good as they can be, but I haven't taken the SAT yet(have been practicing/studying at least every other day, taken lots of practice tests, but...eep). Also, I'm afraid my extracurriculars won't be as good. I haven't won any like national awards or played in Carnegie Hall or been published, and if I go to exclusive colleges, I'll be competing against a lot of kids who have.

So far, I like:

Northwestern University(in Illinois)
Rice University(Houston)
Stanford
Cornell
Brown
Harvey Mudd(here in SoCal)

Have any of you had experience with these colleges, good or bad? Please tell me. :)


I'd like to double major in English and Bioengineering, (tentative, or just engineering in general  Do you have any recommendations? :)



Monday, November 5, 2012

Black Butler(Kuroshitsuji) and demons in entertainment


http://i.animecrazy.net/XXB.jpg
I recently started another anime/manga series called Black Butler, which is quickly becoming one of my favorite things of all time. Set in Victorian England, the series follows the loyal butler Sebastian Michealis and his thirteen year old master, the earl Ciel Phantomhive, who became the head of the Phantomhive estate and company after a mysterious fire killed his parents. Ciel is also known as "the Queen's guard dog" as he follows in his family's footsteps as the patrol/crime investigation frontman of the London underworld. Ever at Ciel's side, ready to carry out any order to the letter, Sebastian is actually a demon in a supernatural contract with Ciel: once Sebastian helps Ciel carry out all his goals, including vengeance on those who killed his parents, Sebastian will be allowed to kill Ciel and consume his soul.

Black Butler can best be described as a dark, supernatural black comedy/thriller. The series' elaborate art and soundtrack(some of the best anime has to offer) pay plenty of tribute to the Victorian era that could entrance anybody. This, and the epic action scenes, humor both dark and light, and exquisite roller-coaster plot  all set up a poignant story about the relationship between a boy full of cold hatred and despair far before his time, and his composed, mysterious butler who is his loyal servant, protecting him from danger both emotional and physical...for now.


This gorgeous song, one of my favorites of all time, describes the series(and Ciel) perfectly
If God has forsaken me,
Then I shall forsake God, too.
Only the oppressed may possess a black key,
I close all doors
Thus I seal away all prayers.
However
who protects me?
From the most frightful: myself

Both Sebastian and Ciel are two of the most popular characters in anime history. Ciel is enchanting as a stoic Artemis Fowl-like earl who fearlessly patrols London's seedy alleys and black markets and unceasingly fights for justice, not because of his beliefs, but because of his duty. Yet he hides a despair and sadness so bleak that it compelled him to initiate the contract with Sebastian in the first place. Sebastian is hilarious as a witty, extremely skilled butler who is highly skilled at practically everything, and handles every task, no matter how impossible it is, with ease, stating it is only natural the butler of the Phantomhive household is capable of such.

http://www.watchanimeon.com/images/1076.jpg 

If I was simply judging on the storytelling and entertainment aspect of the series, I would wholeheartedly recommend it to everyone, as it should entrance even the most die-hard anime hater.

However, judging by the pentagram engraved on both Ciel's patched eye and Sebastian's hand(the symbol of their contract), the dark symbolism of crows and ravens, and the discussion of heaven and hell prevalent throughout the series, Black Butler doesn't try in the least to disguise this fact: Sebastian is a devil(devil/demon used interchangeably throughout this series) and Ciel is the boy who, quite literally, sells his soul to him.

So what does this mean for me, and for other Christians who enjoy this series?

Contracts with demons are not uncommon in either anime or culture in general. The idea is thought to have been perpetuated(if not originated) by the classic German legend(and play by Goethe) Faust, and continues in many popular ballets, movies,books, classical and contemporary music, and of course, anime(such a deal is a major driving force between the contract with Calcifer the fire demon and wizard Howl in Howl's Moving Castle.).

In fact, Faust began as a cautionary Christian tale. So what(if anything) makes Black Butler different? Is it bad for us?

That's what I'm still trying to figure out.

Angels and demons are becoming more and more common subject matters in popular culture, perhaps the new "vampires and werewolves." I think this stems from our innate need for the supernatural.

Supernatural, by the way, just means (duh) above natural. Beyond the ordinary. Connected to something beyond just what we can see with our eyes. And we're called to live supernatural lives, real lives, every day.

We aren't made for this earth, we were made to live on a completely different reality, and we can't help but respond to that. But instead of funneling this innate desire into its rightful place, a personal relationship with our creator, it's sometimes channeled into books, movies, anime instead.

But what if we don't go to that extreme? For me, Black Butler is just a really good anime, a piece of entertainment. This stems back to my earlier posts about violence in entertainment. It's just entertainment. But entertainment is what we spend our time on, what we love, what sings to us in our dreams, what shapes our beliefs and worldview whether we like it or not. It's important.

There's a good reason why Christian groups fervently diss magic/supernatural/demonic media. And it's obvious. 

We fight so, so hard against demonic influences and Satan and their influences in our everyday life. Why invite them in the back door when it comes to our entertainment?  We wage a perpetual war against them in our hearts and minds, and they just show up on our coffee table in the form of DVDs and manga volumes.

"Now, that's taking it a little too far. They're not really Satanic. They're called demons, but they aren't actually like real demons", you say. Maybe that's true. I don't know. And Sebastian isn't the only supernatural creature(so far, I count 1 demon and 1 Grim Reaper). And reading and watching doesn't equal embracing or following. I'm definitely not making any deals with anything, just as watching a violent movie doesn't necessarily turn someone into a gun-slinging maniac. Is it different at all? I don't know.

Note that I haven't finished this series, I've heard it gets darker as it goes on. I'll keep watching, and keep reading and researching about this. And I'll update you as I go on. In the meantime, I'd like to know your personal opinions about this. It would help!

Thanks,