Friday, October 31, 2014

Friday holiday: Pumpkin carving

I'd never really carved a pumpkin before.  I kind of did last year, but I didn't have the right tools, and it turned out not very good.  It was a group project, and we did it without a stencil.  This year, I carved a pumpkin for real.  My sister chose out the designs for both of our pumpkins.  One was a Nightmare Before Christmas design, the other was Link's shield from Zelda.  I did Link's shield.  I think we should've made it bigger, but overall, it turned out okay for my first real try at carving!

Here's mine.  Hooray!  Saydee did some of it, too.

Saydee did this one.  Jack's figure turned out to be too difficult to cut around, so she improvised!  I think she could've done it if she had the patience, though.  :b

It looks better lit up!  I had to cut a hole in the back so that the candles could get enough oxygen to stay lit.

This one also needed a hole in the back.
Happy Halloween!  I love Halloween so much!  So sad that it's already over.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Thursday music: This is Halloween

Since it's Halloween, I of course have to end the month with this song!  There aren't too many actual Halloween songs out there, and this is among the best.  It's perfectly eerie with fun lyrics for the holiday.  Surprisingly, I have discovered that not everyone knows this song because not everyone has seen the movie.  When The Nightmare Before Christmas first came out, no one went to see it, no one really knew what it was.  Heck, Disney didn't even seem to think it would do much for them since they released it under their Touchstone label instead of their Disney label.  Now, Disney promotes it like crazy and even remodels the Haunted Mansion ride after it every year.

Still, it remains something of a cult classic.  A very mainstream cult classic, but a cult classic nevertheless.

This song kicks off the movie and sets up the tone and atmosphere perfectly.  Danny Elfman has a talent for composing spooky, strange music, and this one is definitely among his best and most memorable.  I find it to be similar to Grim Grinning Ghosts in that (most of) the singers of this song aren't evil or out to hurt anyone.   They just want to scare people, that's all!

I love playing this on the piano, too.  It's difficult but really fun and even quite beautiful!


Boys and girls of every age,
Wouldn't you like to see something strange?

Come with us, and you will see
This, our town of Halloween.

This is Halloween.  This is Halloween.
Pumpkins scream in the dead of night.

This is Halloween.  Everybody make a scene,
Trick or treat till the neighbors gonna die of fright.
It's our town.  Everybody scream
In this town of Halloween.

I am the one hiding under your bed,
Teeth ground sharp and eyes glowing red.

I am the one hiding under your stairs,
Fingers like snakes and spiders in my hair.

This is Halloween.  This is Halloween.
Halloween!  Halloween!  Halloween!  Halloween!

In this town we call home,
Everyone hail to the pumpkin song.

In this town, don't we love it now?
Everybody's waiting for the next surprise.

'Round that corner, man, hiding in the trash can,
Something's waiting now to pounce, and how you'll scream.

This is Halloween,
Red 'n' black and slimy green.
Aren't you scared?

Well, that's just fine.
Say it once, say it twice.
Take a chance and roll the dice.
Ride with the moon in the dead of night.

Everybody scream, everybody scream
In our town of Halloween.

I am the clown with the tear-away face,
Here in a flash and gone without a trace.

I am the "who" when you call, "Who's there?"
I am the wind blowing through your hair.

I am the shadow on the moon at night
Filling your dreams to the brim with fright.

This is Halloween.  This is Halloween.
Halloween!  Halloween!  Halloween!  Halloween!

Tender lumplings everywhere,
Life's no fun without a good scare.

That's our job, but we're not mean
In our town of Halloween.

In this town, don't we love it now?
Everybody's waiting for the next surprise.

Skeleton Jack might catch you in the back
And scream like a banshee,
Make you jump out of your skin.

This is Halloween, everybody scream.
Won't you please make way for a very special guy?
Our man Jack is king of the pumpkin patch.
Everyone hail to the Pumpkin King now.

This is Halloween.  This is Halloween.
Halloween!  Halloween!  Halloween!  Halloween!

In this town we call home,
Everyone hail to the pumpkin song.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Wednesday whatever: My costume

I went to a Halloween party tonight.  It was fun!  I did not take a picture of me wearing my costume since it was kind of last minute.  I didn't have time to really do my make-up.  So, instead, I'll post pictures of it from last year since I also wore it last year!  I was too cheap to buy a new costume.  D:

Hooray!  I love Halloween!

Monday, October 27, 2014

Monday writing: NaNoWriMo

Well, it's almost November, and that means that I will once again be writing every night, checking the word count every so often and cursing that I'm not yet at my target word count for the day.

November is National Novel Writing Month, NaNoWriMo for short.  Its website can be found here.  I don't think it's quite as official as the name makes it sound, but there it is.  November is a terrible month to write a novel.  If you're a student, you're still in school, then there's Thanksgiving and the beginning of the holidays.  It's also a short month in that it only has thirty days.  If only it had thirty-one!

Basically, the goal of NaNoWriMo is to write fifty thousand words of a novel.  That means you don't necessarily have to complete the novel, just write fifty thousand words of it.  That might sound like a lot, but divided over a month, you're only writing 1,667 words a day, which is definitely manageable.  Now, don't get me wrong.  It takes time and dedication to meet that word count everyday.  On average, I usually write about an hour a night, sometimes as much as two hours and sometimes as little as half an hour.

You don't get anything for writing fifty thousand words.  You can display a nifty banner on your website.  You can feel good about your accomplishment.  But you don't get anything else.  It really is just for fun and to motivate anyone and everyone who has ever had a dream of writing a novel.  The first time I did NaNoWriMo was back in 2006, which I won.  I did not attempt it again until 2012, which I won again, and again last year, which I also won.  I intend to win this year as well.

That said, I haven't decided what novel I'm going to work on.  For the past two years (and a mini session I did in April), I have been working on my fantasy novel titled "Natalie's Dragon."  It is close to 200,000 words now, and I think I will finally be able to wrap it up within the next 75,000 words.  It's actually against the rules to continue a previous novel for NaNoWriMo, however.  You're supposed to start a brand new novel every year.  Since you don't actually win anything, I have decided to break this rule and continue my previous novel.  I still added 50,000 words every time, which was what I cared about more than actually playing by the NaNoWriMo rules.

I have another novel I might decide to work on instead.  It's untitled, but I feel that it would make a better debut novel than my fantasy novel would.  It would be shorter and much easier to pitch.  I'm itching to finish my fantasy novel, but I also would like to get something published soon.  I could see this new novel getting published within the next three years depending on how quickly I write and how long it takes me to pitch it.  I think my fantasy novel could take a long time to find a publisher and hit the shelves.  We'll see, though.

I think the most important tip I could give to "win" NaNo is to never get behind.  No matter how tired you are at the end of the day, sit down and meet your word count, or you will really regret it the next day, and if you keep putting it off, it's very likely that you will end up quitting altogether.  I have seen it happen with friends.  It's only one month, so just push through it!  You'll feel so good by the end of it if you succeed.

Sunday, October 26, 2014

Sunday vacation: Mickey's Halloween Party

The day after we went to Disneyland, we...went to Disneyland again!  Haha.  This time, we had tickets for Mickey's Halloween Party which is a special Halloween event that starts at three and goes until eleven at night.  That means that those with tickets for Mickey's Halloween cannot enter the park until three, and at six, everyone who does not have a ticket for Mickey's Halloween is kicked out.  You get a special bracelet for the night to show that you are part of the event!

One of the most noteworthy features of this event is that adults get to wear costumes!  Usually, adults are prohibited from wearing costumes in the park (for safety and other reasons).  You can wear outfits like I did when I was Minnie Mouse, but not full-on costumes.  My mom bought these monster outfits, so I wore the green and pink one.

Sorry that's it's so blurry.  D:

We left at about noon to get lunch first and pick up my cousin who would be joining us.  After lunch and some shopping, we waited in line to get into the park.  So many people were in costume!  In our group, I was the only one in costume since everyone else decided that it was too hot to wear them and that they would put them on later when it cooled down.  So, we put the other costumes in a locker.

Yeah...I could definitely see exactly what was going to happen when it cooled down.

To be honest, I was concerned that we would be Disneyed out from the day before.  I mean, we already did everything!  How special was this event going to be anyway?

The event wouldn't actually begin until six, so we had about three hours until it did.  As it came closer to six, more and more people in costumes started appearing.  We ran around and rode some rides, Space Mountain and whatnot.  While we were running around, though, I noticed something very distressing...

My left knee was hurting.  A lot.  D:  I don't know when, why, or how it happened, but sometime during our Disneyland trek the previous day, I must've torn something something.  No idea what, but something in my knee was causing me pain whenever I would run or go down stairs.  It thankfully wasn't so bad that I couldn't walk at all, so it didn't ruin the day for me.  Even now, though, my knee still hurts if I do anything strenuous on it.  I fear that the only option to fix it at this point might be surgery.  I'm still hopeful that it'll heal on its own, but I remember my dad doing something and putting up with it for three years before finally having surgery to fix it.  Argh!

Anyway, at six, the signs started to go up that the Halloween event was beginning.  They no longer allowed anyone without a bracelet to go on the rides.  We were able to walk right onto Pirates of the Caribbean, which was amazing!  It was so much less crowded than it had been the day before, and we still had access to the entire park!  We heard a few people grumbling about being kicked out and wondering why other people got to stay.  That probably sucked.  :b

We ate some gumbo after Pirates and then explored the rest of the park.  In addition to the new decorations, there were also treat trails!  We had been given trick-or-treating bags when we first entered the park, and now we knew why!  We walked along the various paths and received handfuls of candy at each point.  Seriously, we got so much candy just from one trail!  One each trail, there were also characters that you could meet with.  We didn't actually meet any of them, but it was fun to see them!

Oh, and of course, when it finally it cooled down, no one wanted to go all the way back to the locker to get their costumes.  Typical!  So, it was just me who was dressed up.  I actually got quite a few compliments, though.

The Haunted Mansion!  At night.  8)
I like this part in the Haunted Mansion.

Colorful fog!

Mickey Mouse!  I at first couldn't believe that he was here, but I guess it is called Mickey's Halloween Party.  :b  I usually never see him when we go to Disneyland, so this was neat!
We rode Thunder Mountain twice.  At one point, everyone wanted to ride Splash Mountain.  While I love Song of the South, I hate the drop at the end of that ride, so I sat that out.  I just rested my aching knee.  :b

At the end of the night, there was a fireworks show (as there always is in Disneyland, of course).  This show was a special Halloween one, though.  We were told that the view near It's a Small World was best, so we went over and found a spot to sit.  I wasn't really looking forward to the show since fireworks are usually not very interesting to me, but wow, it was actually really cool!  They played all of my favorite Disney Halloween songs, and in addition to the fireworks, there were projected images and videos on the front of It's a Small World.  It was an amazing show.  Really, I was sad when it was over!

We concluded the night by riding Space Mountain one last time.  On our way out of the park, the parade was coming to an end.  My little niece loves Frozen, so we got some footage of the ending float for her!

Some people are worth melting for!
Disney princess personality tests usually tell I am most like Belle, but I think any updated one that include Frozen would probably tell me I am most like Elsa.  I never really related to Belle, but I definitely relate to Elsa.  In fact, she's the first princess I've ever truly related to.  Does that make her my favorite?  No, not even close, but I do like her.  :)

Our haul at the end of the night.  We actually could've gotten a LOT more than this if we had wanted to.  :b 
I was really tired at the end of this night.  Two Disneyland days in a row!  So exhausted.  It was really fun, though.  Honestly, I think it was probably the most fun I have ever had at Disneyland.  I loved being able to dress up (even if I was the only one in my group).  I loved the decorations.  I loved that the ticket was cheaper but still included full access to the park.  I loved seeing everyone else in costume.  I loved the candy.  I loved the fireworks.  I loved that we didn't have to be there early.  In fact, when we go again, I would rather wait to go until it was closer to the actual starting time of the event since it was just hot and crowded when we went at three.

There's no better way to spend Halloween than at DIDNEY WORL, I tell you what!

Saturday, October 25, 2014

Saturday shopping: Costumes I want

Well, I did pretty much nothing today.  I've been so worn out that I needed a day of, well, nothing.  I didn't leave the house at all, haha.

So, today's post is not very exciting, but I was doing some online shopping for some Halloween costumes.  Costumes are really expensive, so I don't own very many, but I do love dressing up and always dream about maybe being rich someday and buying all the costumes I want.  :b

Here are three that I would love to have right now:

Sexy Belly Dancer Bollywood Costume
I really love the colors of this one, the length, the sheerness.  It also includes the bangles which is unusual for a costume package to include!  It's just, you know...I don't want to spend sixty dollars on it.

Ladies Midnight Vamp Costume
I love the shape and overall look of this one!  But again, it's sixty dollars...
If I could get a Sailormercury costume that looked pretty much exactly like this one, I would be so happy.  The costume in this image really is perfect.  Unfortunately, this is only a promotional image.  Typically, when you buy a costume like this, you're getting it from someone who is only trying to copy the picture.  They very well may be cutting corners with cheaper fabric or different designs.  Especially when ordering from China, there's just no guarantee of what you're going to get.  If I were to buy this costume, I would request it without the shoulder tubing as Sailormercury has none in the manga, and that's the look I would want to try to copy.  As for the wig, tiara, and boots, I would probably buy those from other sellers who specialize in them.  Someday, someday.  Maybe.  D: 

Friday, October 24, 2014

Friday modeling: Charles Erickson

You can read more about my views on and experiences with modeling here.

This shoot required me to get up a bit earlier than I like to, but of course, pretty much everything requires that considering that I stay up late and love to sleep in until ten!  But I can get up early when I need to, and since this was downtown, I needed to give myself extra time in case of traffic.

Since it was early Saturday morning, I had no trouble finding a parking spot.  One of the reasons I try to avoid going downtown is because of how difficult it is to find parking.  I was pretty early, about twenty-five minutes.  That was good because I needed time to calm my nerves and try to relax.  I walked around for a bit before heading to our decided meeting place.  I didn't have to wait long because the photographer I was working with, Charles Erickson, decided to come early, too.  :b

The shoot was a 1950's style editorial shoot.  I didn't really have anything that looked like it was from that era, but I tried my best.  I had this short-sleeved dress shirt that I got from DownEast Basics which I thought kind of looked the part.  I did only basic make-up since I was asked to wear red lipstick, and you can't wear bold lipstick and bold eye make-up at the same time (usually; I suppose it would be fine for a high-fashion shoot).  I didn't actually have red lipstick, just lip stain, but stain lasts so much longer that lipstick that it was probably the better choice anyway.

I was very shy and nervous like I always am in the beginning.  I really had no idea what I was doing, and I get so self-conscious about pleasing other people!  I had forgotten to take something for my anxiety, so I was really all on my own.  :b  The first half hour or so was admittedly not very good.  I was trying to relax my mouth, but the problem is that my relaxed face unfortunately looks not relaxed at all.  My mouth always looks pursed when it's closed, and I think it is just the way my chin and jaw are shaped.  To get that relaxed look, I have to open my mouth a little, but if I open it too wide, it's very noticeable!  So, that's something about my face that I've been trying to work with and figure out.  It's not easy.  My entire life, people have been telling me that I look sad or angry.  It's like I have to smile all the time or else people think I'm in a bad mood.  I wish my natural, relaxed expression wasn't so fierce-looking, haha.

 In the beginning, my hair was down, but once I put my hair in a pony-tail, I felt that my poses and expression got better which then resulted in better pictures.  I definitely felt more relaxed at the end than I was in the beginning, and I started having a lot more fun.

And maybe too much fun!  Toward the end, as I was going down the stairs, I wasn't paying as much attention as I should've and somehow got my stiletto stuck in such a way that I tripped and fell on my knee.  It's still bruised even now!  I had never tripped in heels until that day, so it was quite the experience.

I was completely drained afterwards, but it was definitely worth it, especially after seeing the results!

The most important thing I learned from this shoot was trying to soften my mouth.  I think I've discovered new ways to do so without opening it too much or resorting to smiling.  I'm already really good at smiling, though, so I really want to perfect my non-smiling expressions.  I'll get there someday!

Thursday, October 23, 2014

Thursday music: Faces

I don't know really know if I can say this is a Halloween song, but I didn't want to cover anything too mainstream here.  There aren't really very many songs that are meant for Halloween.  Many creepy and spooky songs, but not like there are Christmas songs.

This song by Nik Kershaw is quite a bit unsettling for me.  An eerie melody with lyrics to match including creepy chorus voices.  I don't know what it's about exactly.  I think it can be interpreted in a lot of ways.  I just imagine these faceless beings reaching out and lulling the singer into a strange state of nonexistence.


They found me lost in space, nowhere to go
With the stakes so high and my resistance so low.
They said, "Follow us, follow us today.
We are the truth.  We are the way."

"Young man," they said, "your search is through.
You can trust in us; we'll look after you.
We will be your body.  We will be your mind,
And we've a face of each and every kind.
Yes, we've a face of each and every kind."

"One for us and one for you.
One for old and one for new.
One for rich and one for poor.
One for peace, and one for war.
One for peace, and one for war."

"There's no need for you to hear or see.
We'll do your thinking for you, if you'll agree.
So, close your eyes and let yourself unwind,
And we can leave the real world behind."

For a moment, I was taken in.
They were in my body.  They were under my skin
Until I head a voice crying, "Set me free."
And I realized that it was me.
Yes, I realized the voice was me.

Just when you really think you're going places,
They come inside of you with their many faces.

"One for us and one for you.
One for old and one for new.
One for rich and one for poor.
One for peace, and one for war.
One for peace, and one for war."

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

Wednesday whatever: Our TARDIS door

I had a photoshoot today that pretty much lasted all day.  I mean, not really, but when you factor in the time it took me to get ready and drive downtown, yeah, it was pretty much all day.  I was so busy and exhausted that I forgot to think of something to write today.

The photoshoot was fun, by the way.  I'll write it about next Friday when I have the photos.  It was my first advertising shoot!  Anxious in the beginning, but I loosened up a lot and was able to really get some good posing practice in.  I was trying to show off these rings, so I had to come up with a lot of new things to do with my hands!  :b

Anyway, I've decided to share a picture of the TARDIS door my dad made.  I'm not too much of a Doctor Who fan.  It's kind of a strange show, and now that Matt Smith is gone, I'm not liking it as much.  I've been watching it with my family the past couple months, which has been fun.  Anyway, my dad got this idea to turn one of our doors into a TARDIS (the Doctor's time machine from the show that looks like a London police box).  He actually did a fantastic job.  It looks amazing, especially in person.  It even lights up!  I saw it for the first time last year when I came home for Thanksgiving, and I was pretty astounded to see that the door down the hallway had been completely transformed.

Please excuse the crudity of this model.  It's not to scale.  :b  Actually, please excuse the crudity of this picture.
It's on a timer so that the light only comes on at night.  I don't remember when it comes on exactly, but I know that it shuts off at two in the morning.  I'm actually staying in the room behind this TARDIS door, and yes, I can tell you that it is bigger on the inside!

Jeez...I still can't believe my dad did this.  D:

Pumpkin splendor

I really do hate cooking and baking.  So why do I do it?  Well, sometimes I see a recipe that looks so interesting and tasty that I just have to make it because if I don't, no one else will.

But I'm just so clumsy in the kitchen.  Mine never looks as good as the picture.  T.T  This was a recipe that I found here called Pumpkin Lasagna.  It's actually a dessert, not real lasagna.  I've actually had real lasagna made with pumpkin, and I didn't love it.  :/
All the ingredients that I needed!
I don't know what you call this thing, but I used it to chop up the pecans!  The original recipe called for walnuts, but I don't like walnuts.

I was stupid and forgot to roast the pecans first.  Argh!  Oh, well.

The cheesecake layer.  I love this automatic mixing...thing.

And the pumpkin layer mixed with vanilla pudding!  :D

The finished product!  I know, it looks uneven and terrible.  D:
From above!  I still forgot to roast the pecans.  :(

It didn't look as beautiful as I wanted it to...
The website says that this should only take forty-five minutes.  Well, being me, any cooking time ends up getting doubled since I'm a perfectionist, and a really clumsy perfectionist at that.  This took me close to ninety minutes to make.  I was exhausted by the end of it!

The recipe is definitely a good one.  Anyone who loves pumpkin would like it.  :)

Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Tuesday animation: Atlantis: Milo's Return




When will I ever be able to review a good movie...?

Okay, the randomly selected animated film for today is the sequel to Atlantis: The Lost Empire titled Atlantis: Milo's Return.  I had seen this sequel exactly one time before today, and I really didn't like having to re-watch it again since it was hardly worth watching the first time.  I just couldn't remember enough of it to write an adequate review otherwise.  :/

Listen, I love Disney sequels for the most part.  I've defended them many times.  This one, though, really can't be defended.

Of course, one must remember that this is not so much a movie as it is a collection of three episodes.  It's obvious that this was some sort of test run for a T.V. series.  So, for that reason, I know I can't be too harsh, so I'm going to try to be more lenient since it's not really fair to judge this as an actual movie when it's really not.  Still, Disney did release it as a movie, and each story transitions into the next as if it's a movie.  If they had released it as three separate episodes, that would've been better received, but because they are all pushed together as if they are one film, that brings it down a lot.

Okay, we go.

Overview: Atlantis: Milo's Return is the sequel to Atlantis: The Lost Empire released by Disney in 2003.  Originally meant to be the beginning of a T.V. series, the movie has been largely ignored and remains mostly unknown except to diehard Disney fans.

Art: Pretty fluid, but otherwise pretty dull.  The design is the same as the design from the first movie which I actually really like.  I love the straight lines and angular look.  Very stylistic, very unique.  The quality is that of a T.V. show, and for a T.V. show, it's good, but for a movie, it's just really dull.  The colors are dull.  It looks very flat.  It actually has the same dark look of the original movie, just a lot less interesting and not nearly as high quality.  I do like the way light is used.  It's very stark and makes everything look even more angular.  I also really like how the use of CGI is almost none.  It's always nice to see purely hand-drawn animation.  That's getting rarer and rarer today.  Of course, if Disney had spent more money on this film, there surely would've been more CGI.

Sound: Good quality sound as expected for a modern film.  Many of the voice actors return for this film except Michael J. Fox as the voice of Milo.  The replacement, James Arnold Taylor, was obviously trying his best to sound like Fox, but I noticed right away that it was a different actor.  I adjusted to him eventually, and it's obvious that Taylor has talent.  Just looking him up, he's done a lot of voice work that I'm familiar with.  Cree Summer returns as Kida, and she does a wonderful job as she always does.  Cree is one of my favorite voice actors.  Her voice is just so unique and lovely.  In the beginning, she seemed to struggle with getting back in the role, but soon enough, she got the hang of it.  The other voice talent that stood out to me was Florence Stanley as Mrs. Packard.  She had only a few lines, but she was hilarious and had great delivery.  The music was nothing special.  I honestly don't even remember it.  It very well might've been a rehash of the original movie's soundtrack (that's quite common practice).  I don't recall the original movie having a stellar soundtrack, though.

Story: There are three stories in one, each about facing some unusual supernatural entity.  It all ends with Kida (who is no longer a princess but the Queen of Atlantis) deciding to no longer keep Atlantis hidden and bringing it up to the surface.  The protagonists from the original movie return with the same personalities and quirks.  Again, this was obviously meant to be the start of a series.  I don't know what it would've been about.  I don't know how the world would react to the city of Atlantis suddenly being discovered.  The stories are action-packed, and I even found myself chuckling at a couple of jokes, but for a movie, there was just too much going on.  It seemed really jumbled.  I really wish it had just been split into episodes rather than combined into one movie.  It's hard to sit and watch the whole thing because once one story's over, you don't really feel like starting a new one.  I found that I had to pause in between each story to get a break.

Personal appeal: I'm actually one of the few people who loves the original movie, but as I said before, I just can't defend this movie, not as a movie, anyway.  It's not eye-catching, it's not memorable, and there is too much going on, and what is going on is not very interesting.  I was bored watching it the first time, and I was bored again as I forced myself to watch it to write this review.  Now that it's done, I hope that I'll never have to watch it again.  There's just no reason to.  It's a pointless movie with nothing to offer, not even to diehard fans of the original movie.  This really was made just to make money, and it really shows.

These expressions pretty much sum up my feelings about this movie.  D:  0:  u.u
Overall, I give this movie one peridot.  The only thing really redeeming it is the great voice talent.  I could not possibly recommend this movie to anyone, and I never will.  I guess I'm glad I saw it as an animation fan, but I really hope that this was the last time.