Tag: Alyson

We’re through the Endgame

We’re through the Endgame

For days, all I’ve heard about Avengers: Endgame is that it is perfect. There was not a single bad thing said about the 22nd Marvel Cinematic Universe film.

That couldn’t be true.

This movie is three-hours long. It simultaneously culminates two-dozen films, sequelizes a massive blockbuster and ends stories for characters we’ve known over 10 years.

There was no way it could balance that and still come out perfect — even if everyone seemed to agree otherwise.

Without spoiling me, by the way. Thanks y’all!

But I had an open mind. The family watched Infinity War last night, then Dad and I did a deep dive into the One Marvelous Scene series on YouTube to prepare.

I even wore my finest Marvel socks for the occasion:

Three hours later, we left the theatre. Then came chores. Almost three more hours later, I sat down to write.

I still don’t understand how it was actually perfect. Better than I was led to believe.

Because this movie isn’t just a beautiful, all-encompassing endpoint for a decade-long story. It also makes every other MCU movie feel more important in hindsight.

I mean every movie.

I don’t care about Thor: The Dark World. But this movie genuinely made me care about it.

Endgame even improved characters.

Pepper Potts never really did it for me, in part because I hate Gwyneth Paltrow and her Goop pseudoscience.

But the way she plays into Tony Stark’s arc made me care about Pepper Potts beyond her cute version in the Nickelodeon cartoon.

In fact, the arcs given to each of the original six Avengers are about as fitting as I could ever hope to create (without spoiling them — yet).

Granted there is one thing about the movie I’m not a huge fan of in concept. Like Infinity War, Endgame starts with no context and uses the assumed familiarity of long-time fans to set up obviously telegraphed emotional ploys. Both dramatic and comedic.

The opening scene is Hawkeye spending time with his family on house arrest, paralleling Ant Man & The Wasp. I cringed in anticipation, as they make it obvious we’re about to watch the snap’s effect on this previously-unseen Avenger.

But the scene’s obvious dramatic intent didn’t make it less effective.

The moment is escalated by becoming Clint’s jarring driving force for the story, and informing his growing connection to Black Widow.

There are a dozen scenes in the movie that I could take a similar fine-toothed comb to because they’re blatant emotional ploys. But they’re effective and well-deserved story beats for MCU fans, as obvious as they are.

There are also references to jokes and cameos from other Marvel movies that are obvious callbacks, but emphasize the fleshed-out relationships between characters as far-flung as Thor and Rocket Raccoon, or Captain America and Spider-Man.

Hell, even things like “girl power” scenes that have gotten the studio crap from brainless fans in the past have seemingly been cranked up just to rub it in people’s faces.

But even this moment, which may have gotten an eye-roll out of me in a less well-crafted film, was arguably one of my favorite scenes. Because it emphasized how the MCU has developed some fantastic characters, who all got time to shine in the…

Big CGI Fight Scene™ between two armies. A scene that actually epitomized my feelings toward Endgame.

Again, in literally any other movie I would feel numb watching a mindless clash between mostly faceless mobs that includes moments of character fan service and callbacks.

But Marvel has elevated that mindless action to such a high degree for their decade-long viewers that it creates transcendent filmmaking.

In his One Marvelous Scene video, Nando v. Movies read a quote from this A.V. club article that perfectly captures my thoughts on how the MCU reverses action movie conventions. It’s worth a read.

When that army battle ended, my heart was racing so hard that I got worried.

Then five seconds later, the movie left me crying at three different scenes that wrapped up multiple stories supremely well.

All in a movie where I laughed out loud, and got to appreciate unexpectedly beautiful character dynamics like Iron Man and Nebula.

But on top of all that, this movie genuinely made me excited for a post-Endgame Marvel.

I thought once the core six were gone, I’d feel more apathetic because characters like Dr. Strange, Captain Marvel or Black Panther strike me as better ensemble heroes.

But torches were passed. And certain movies staring certain characters with certain plots sound amazing as a result.

There isn’t much I can do from here besides gush and spoil things.

So I’m going to do that. In the meantime, go watch Avengers: Endgame.

Believe the hype. This movie is, truly, a Marvel to behold.


Featured Image courtesy of IMDb

Continue reading “We’re through the Endgame”

The last Comm Awards

The last Comm Awards

It has been a long 12-hour day, so let’s keep this brief.

Tonight was the Department of Communications Awards Ceremony for the year of our lord 2019.

Last year I attended the ceremony with Mom and had a great time. Won a few scholarships while I was at it.

Only my Mom was able to make it, however. Turns out the Department of Communications likes to schedule their fancy award dinner at the same time as my sister’s Pops Concert at Redondo Union High School, so Dad went with her to split our representation appropriately.

This year we swapped. Which means I got to bring the old man out to Fullerton:

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Apparently I don’t know where the camera is?

Now… I hate to say it. But I think Dad got the better end of the bargain. Sorry Mom.

For my senior year, I stepped things up from just a few scholarships to winning all of these accolades:

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I can’t hold all these awards!
  1. The Journalism Program’s “Outstanding Student” Award
  2. The J. William Maxwell Outstanding Communications Student Award (one of three Department-wide recognitions)
  3. Recognition of my graduation with a University Honors distinction
  4. Graduation with a Summa Cum Laude Honor (in other words, I kept my GPA above 3.90)

In other words — I not only received top marks for my concentration, but also for the department as a whole. While also graduating with Honors. And somehow keeping my grades very high.

What the hell did I do to myself these last four years?

Frankly, the only person who stepped on that stage more than I did was Harrison Faigen, who got a whole host of awards AND scholarships.

Showed me, I should have gone for some extra money.

Oh, and his awards were also well-deserved. That guy runs like a truck, and it has been an honor working with him in a number of capacities at Cal State Fullerton. The newspaper and SPJ, primarily. Definitely helped me learn a lot.

Speaking of learning a lot, the event was chock full of professors I’ve had over the last four years. And I tried to take a picture with a bunch of them for posterity!

I only got to Comm Department Chair Jason Shepard and current Daily Titan Advisor Walt Baranger, since people like my Honors Project Mentor Holly Rizzo left like a hurry once the show was over.

But they’re just three of many people I can thank for everything leading up to these esteemed accolades.

Frank Russell, Penchan Phoborisut, Amber Chitty, Emily Erickson… And of course Bonnie Stewart, probably most of all.

But there are so many more who have taught me so many things. Things that I’ll be taking on this adventure we call life as I finally get out of academia next month.

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Get it?

Because the banquet was adventure-themed?

Alright, that’s enough. You crazy kids get outta here.

Putting the “Pro” in “gamer”

Putting the “Pro” in “gamer”

With Finals and graduation and all of that terrible real life stuff on the horizon, I’m staving off imminent insanity in the only way I know how:

Video games.

Specifically, finally trying out that brand new Nintendo Switch Pro Controller I got for my birthday. Two months ago.

To be fair, I mostly haven’t used it up until now for two reasons.

First being the obvious fact that I just haven’t had a whole lot of time to play as the semester has progressed. But also I’m just a stubborn baby that tried to convince himself his janky left Joy Con was still usable, despite a significant drift.

In retrospect I don’t know why I was such a stubborn baby. The Pro Controller is actually a solid accessory!

Not only does it fit comfortably in my hands, but I appreciate the grips not being made of the same material as the semi-transparent body, meaning they don’t get covered in fingerprints.

However, I did immediately come across some trouble with the concept of using a more traditional controller for the Switch…

It doesn’t work with every game.

I notably found this out while trying to play some Pokémon Let’s Go Eevee with Aly.

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She was complaining about the drifting Joy Con, so we tried to use the Pro Controller.

Turns out you can’t use it to do things like throw Pokéballs without the same gyroscopic technology, so they just didn’t add any functionality for the external apparatus.

Cool.

On the bright side, I’ve been able to properly try out the device with a pair of Indie titles I picked up again:

Both Wizard of Legend and Enter the Gungeon received recent updates, and I’ve been playing them to avoid slamming my head against a wall from all this work.

They both add a bunch of new content.

Wizard has a new locale called the Sky Palace (similar aesthetically to The Minish Cap‘s Palace of Winds, much to my nostalgic pleasure), new enemy types and a bunch of additional spells.

Meanwhile Gungeon got… Basically tons more of everything.

It’s amazing to me that such an already stuffed game has been filled with an almost imperceptibly large amount of extra content again. That’s good service if I’ve ever seen it.

The funniest thing about playing both of these titles in quick succession is how different the control schemes are, which makes it difficult to swap between the two.

For instance: In Gungeon, item pick-ups and general interactions are done with the “B” button, while shooting and dodge rolling are done with the triggers. But in Wizard, “B” cancels out all interactions and every action/magic command is done with the A/B/X/Y buttons.

But this difficulty context switching is only going to get worse tomorrow. Because we just found out that Nintendo is dropping the Super Smash Bros. Ultimate 3.0 Update:

Joker is finally here with all of his funky Persona 5 music (and a ton of really well-done fan service by the looks of things).

Sakurai is appeasing his hordes of complaining fans by adding the Stage Builder we all thought was gone. Now with moving platforms!

Clips can be edited together and posted online via the Nintendo Switch.

Move over Adobe Premiere Pro, turns out I could have been learning how to edit video in Smash Bros. all along! That’s the future of journalism.

Frankly the only “bad” part of this whole update video is the fact that no teaser was dropped for the next DLC character. Nintendo could have kept us strung along for years if they doled out teasers for new fighters one at a time.

Yet that’s not even a reasonable “bad.” The fact that all this content is coming deep into the game’s life-cycle shows it has a god damn ton of longevity.

It’ll be rough switching between all those control schemes, but it’ll be worth it.

Especially on account of all these memes:

You’d be mistaken if you thought I wasn’t going to whittle my study time away building stages in Ultimate.

Even though the mode is based on drawing and I’ll probably be terrible at it.

At the very least I’ll try bringing back some Brawl classics for my friends and I to enjoy.

Who knows, maybe I’ll even introduce you all to the pit of death in the near future. We’ll just have to wait and see!

Cretaceous developments

Cretaceous developments

Yeah that’s right, these developments are so monumental that they’re one step more advanced than the obvious ‘Jurassic’ developments joke I could have made to attract attention from Spielberg fans.

Unfortunately the dinosaur conceit is also just clickbait.

Sorry y’all, but the promise of this neat-o dinosaur ice cream waffle was too much of an enticing image not to use! I found the window graphic while wandering Del Amo Mall for lunch with Mom and Aly and fell in love.

Especially after my friend Mitchell suggested their potential ultimate marketing strategy of the Green Tea-Rex.

I have no idea if they actually capitalized on that idea because I never tried the Waffle-saurus Rex.

We were on a mission from Aly to instead eat boring old regular Taiyaki.

Even though dinosaurs > fish. Obviously.

In other words, no dinosaur ice cream waffle reviews. Arguably a worse travesty than my continuing to remind myself to talk about Shantae: Half-Genie Hero despite vehemently continuing to put it off.

Instead I’m going to talk about things on the horizon, most of which came to light while I was at the mall.

For instance, I’ve been invited to this year’s Comm Awards:

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Cut off the RSVP email just in case. Sorry party crashers!

Last year’s ceremony was a lot of fun (even if I’m not cringing slightly at my unkempt beard) and I’m excited to see what I’ll be awarded this time!

So much so that I made a great Tweet.

Gotta use one of the best gifs of all time to punctuate a self-deprecating joke.

Going further down the school-related rabbit hole, I also got an email today letting me know that CSUF Commencement tickets are officially available. As much as graduation-related stuff stresses me out, that is an important step in the process.

Or at least… It would be.

If the website worked.

For some reason the link to buy graduation tickets leads to an endless loop of security verification.

I wager the traffic of people going after tickets at once isn’t doing so great on the school’s website.

You’d think the network would be better prepared, but there must be too much energy going toward the development of more parking space. Another thing I got an email about.

The extra spaces are needed, even if it’s unfortunate that permit prices are hiking up $50 or so to facilitate the construction.

Luckily I’ll be a graduate who doesn’t need parking permits by then!

So hey, it’s not all intimidating and bad.

With those major Cal State Fullerton developments, the only other thing I can think to tease is a fairly big interview I scheduled for Gladeo Wednesday. Not sure I want to give it away because I’ve been pushed off once already, but let’s just say it’s a nice, recognizable name.

That’s about all I have for the night. My first day back to school tomorrow is going to be punctuated by a Cognitive Psychology exam, so I wanted to write-up something quick before I get back to studying.

Here’s hoping my lethargy in that department somehow pays off.

Into the orchestra

Into the orchestra

Another year, another Spring musical by the Redondo Union Theatre Arts Program.

This time around, my alma mater put on Stephen Sondheim‘s take on Grimms’ Fairy Tales: Into the Woods.

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Le playbill

The show had live music by a pit orchestra, in which my sister took part. When they did Crazy for You last year it was the first time in a long time that a musical had live orchestration at RUHS, so I’m glad to see the tradition continue.


Editor’s Note: I thought I wrote about that show but apparently not, so forgive my semi-random link up there.


I don’t have too terribly much to say about the show itself. The theatre kids put on a nice performance that I would say shined most in its stage design.

To create the titular woods, stage hands dragged tree stumps into the mid-ground, and logs were lowered onto them from the ceiling. It was a really neat little effect that got enhanced by fog machines.

Those gave everything a mysterious Midsummer Night’s Dream forest vibe.

And of course, the music was wonderful. Which I only say in part because this post is a shill for my sister (who deserves credit, but still). Even though the sound mixing was not optimal and a lot of the actors kind of got lost in it.

The only major complaint I have about the show was an odd framing device added on top of the story.

They decided to have Into the Woods, in the context of their continuity, be the content of a book being read to a lost little girl in the aftermath of Hurricane Katrina.

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The stage set up as a disaster relief area before the show.

Bit of an oddly paired metaphor.

It didn’t bear enough of an effect on the story to ruin it necessarily, but at the same time the fact that they didn’t elaborate on it much just left me asking why it was included at all.

I suppose I will say that it contributed to an immersive theatre-going experience.

All the kids got to mess around and play their hearts out in the aisles of the auditorium before the show. Asking audience members if they’ve seen family or friends lost in the hurricane, requesting food in exchange for voodoo crystals, so on and so forth.

It was a lot of fun, and added to a nice overall presence through things like a faux red carpet backdrop in the lobby:

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Didn’t get a picture with the backdrop because I’m stupid.

Pretty cute stuff.

That’s just about all I have to say about the show. It was originally going to be my main blog post of the day before I exhausted myself last night and decided to save my Us review for earlier.

But I didn’t want to leave my sister hanging. Especially after I got such a cute picture of her.

So you’re getting two-for-one today, and I don’t have to feel as bad about skipping another day of writing in March.

Let’s all go to Munchkinland

Welcome to “I put this off until late and decided to scrounge something together based on semi-recent activities as a last ditch effort” blog post #1738.

Trademarked.

Last night I spent St. Patrick’s Day in Fullerton celebrating with my friend Mimi and a few of her people. Even dragged my friend Juan out there with me, which was somewhat bizarre, but I would argue successful.

Bizarre mostly in that we’ve never really travelled outside of Redondo as a duo, that is. You can judge his personal eccentricities for yourself.

Oh and before you ask, I did not drink at the party. No Irish coffee for me.

Had to drive, and as Sonic Sez:

It was a small party with maybe eight people, and one that took up my entire evening with board games and video games and corned beef — hence my lack of a post yesterday.

Theoretically I could have written something before the party… But I got caught up with work meetings and getting homework done.

So sue me.

I figured you all would not be interested in the exciting adventures of leaving the gym early to go check on Grandpa after he fell out of his wheelchair. Especially since he’ll fine and will tell you he’s “impervious.” I believe it.

Instead, I think it might be fun to focus on a little game we played at last night’s called Munchkin.

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I took no pictures, so you’ll have to deal with a few stock images.

For those of you who only know Munchkins as delicious donut holes from Dunkin’ Donuts (Not an ad? But could be an ad), I’ll lay down the groundwork.

Munchkins the board game was developed by Steve Jackson Games and is, for all intents and purposes, a parody of Dungeons and Dragons. Players travel through a dungeon, collect treasure and class/race/gender changes and advance (mostly) by killing monsters like Lawyers and [Inter]Net Trolls.

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An example of some of the equipment players can utilize.

It’s a game where players can ask one another for help or screw each other over, which becomes an ocean of mind games once one player is poised to win and the rest stack curses and debuffs during their combat.

It’s a game which apparently has been around since 2001? Which is kind of insane to me.

This stupid game is as old as my little sister.

And only about half as stupid as her, am I right? *Insert Rimshot here*

*Insert inevitable slap upside the head for that comment here*

Jokes aside, the more I look into this game the more I’m generally impressed by it. There are nearly 200 products, playmats like in Yu-Gi-Oh! and. So many icons.

 

 

The fact that I’ve never heard of this game until yesterday is kind of astounding.

Though, to be fair, my board gaming experience didn’t go much further than Monopoly and Cards Against Humanity until my Gaming in American Culture class started.

That all said, I suppose this post has kind of turned into a bit of an endorsement for the game? It’s not an ad, but it could be an ad. Because I would certainly recommend it for people looking to play something engaging with a bunch of friends.

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Counters from the game.

I’m not joking when I say things get intense by the end.

I absolutely would have won my game if Mimi didn’t sweep the victory one rotation before my turn. And I’m still mad about it.

Plus, the game fits well into my recent dives into D&D creatures for my novel. It’s just the kind of thing that’s up my alley.

So take my enthusiasm with a grain of salt. Or with a pile of soft, sugary donut holes.

Your choice.


Images courtesy of Bobbyfinger and Pegasus Spiele via Wikimedia Commons

Unraveling more YouTube recommendations

Unraveling more YouTube recommendations

You can spin this blog post today one of two ways.

Perhaps this is a public service for all of those affected by the over 10-hour Facebook outages that affected the social media platform and its company’s holdings (including Instagram and WhatsApp) for some reason other than a denial-of-service attack — an issue which they, in my opinion, hilariously had to go to another platform to report:

Those folks addicted to these apps like I sometimes become with Twitter are likely looking for something interesting to do to bide their time.

Interesting, time-wasting YouTube channels happen to be my area of expertise.

… Or, perhaps this post is a futile effort to write something on my blog daily, after a day of two-hour Comm Law exams and finishing my listen to Ender’s Game while at the gym where I could not come up with anything better than yesterday despite saying I would. But in place of that interesting subject matter, I’ve simply decided to guise my lazy alternative in the guise of the solution to a social media-driven turmoil that has long ended by the time I began writing; all due to the aforementioned requirements.

But I think we all know which is the true answer to the question.

That said, I’ve delayed the inevitable long enough.

While my parents travelled around California going to different doctor’s appointments on Monday, I was in charge of my sister back home. We more-or-less spent the afternoon sitting beside one another on the couch doing homework and watching YouTube videos.

Among the usual line-up of Game Grumps and Super Beard Bros. videos taking up time, we were recommended a strange looking think piece on the “Sonic the Hedgehog Bible.”

That’s the kind of offer we couldn’t refuse.

So we didn’t.

And thus we discovered the magic that is Unraveled: A show by the gaming news website Polygon, helmed by their video producer Brian David Gilbert.

As someone who appreciates few things more than highly-analytical, well-produced and funny content deeply examining video games, this YouTube series earns my highest recommendation.

The show, in essence, takes huge amounts of data and information from the video games themselves or from real-world (often governmental) organizations that can be used for video game applications and just distills them down into quippy 15-minute binges that use massive amounts of paper for on-the-wall diagrams with rarely an apology.

It’s a beautiful sight to behold.

While we started with their Sonic Bible episode, I was also a big fan of his dive into madness on the Legend of Zelda timeline, breakdown of hundreds of Mega Man Robot Masters and look at how Bowser’s army would be organized in relation to the U.S. Army.

An oddly prescient piece considering Nintendo of America President Reggie Fils-Aimé announced his retirement just a few days after it dropped, leaving it in the hands of a man literally named Bowser.

I won’t say I’m much for conspiracy theories… But the truth is out there.

Anyway, yeah. That’s my recommendation for the night.

If a YouTube show can get my sister of all people excited to watch deep-diving video game content, you know it has to be good.

So give Unraveled a look, if you would.


Featured Image courtesy of Gaurav Shakya via Wikimedia Commons

Working hard? Or hardly working?

Working hard? Or hardly working?

In case any of you genuinely wanted that question answered, I can assure you that I have, in fact, been working hard.

Next week is my Comm Law midterm. A totally online exam, but one based on a class where the workload has been far larger and more time-consuming than I had expected going in.

The nicest thing about the exam is that my professor pretty much let us know it’s intended to be an open-note test — or at least she expects us to treat it as such. After all, most of it is going to be application of all the information we’ve learned rather than a definition-driven evaluation.

However, she added that she doesn’t want us to necessarily be flipping through our notebooks for the entire exam.

Because she knows just as well as we do that it can be a stressful experience.

Thus, to incentivize pre-studying we’ve been offered extra credit to create a single 8 1/2 x 11 cheat sheet, take a “selfie” with it (with as much creativity as we desire) and upload the picture to an online forum before taking the test.

My Featured Image of the day is that very selfie. Wearing my brand new Frog-in-a-Car T-shirt.

I figured what better way is there to represent myself than having a thick, detailed page of notes that I’m ignoring in lieu of some Tetris?

What’s that? You don’t believe that I have a full-page of detailed notes based on how far away it is in the perspective of the picture?

Well, you’re right.

Because it’s actually a front AND back page worth of detailed notes:

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The front side was a bit off-the-cuff when I first put it together, which is why it looks so left-end dominant.

I tried to fix that more on the back side. It helped that there were less diagrams and more Supreme Court precedents to simply list off as we moved farther into the semester.

Some of you might not find the clean, clinical and small font pencil-only approach beneficial to a study guide very helpful. Personally, I really like to pack in as much detail as I can.

In fact, I essentially shoved every detail I could onto this page to the point that I might not ever have to open up the first half of my Comm Law notebook ever again.

A notebook with ~150 pages worth of notes that I packed into one, at that.

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That’s a spicy-a notebook.

It may have taken me all afternoon to transfer all of this information over, but I’d say it was well worth it to have a condensed study aid tool.

Especially given that just the act of copying all of my written text a second time is as powerful a way to study as I can imagine.

That’s really all I’ve done today, so I figured the cheat sheet would make for as good a blog post as any. The project fits well enough into my narrative of enjoying the class as a whole that it seems appropriate.

I just wanted to end this off by giving an extra special shout-out to my photographer, Alyson. Because one good picture deserves another in return:

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Gotta love those post-SAT blues.

Definitely don’t miss those days.

Ice cream passover

Ice cream passover

After Aly won big at the Dos Pueblos Jazz Festival last night, I decided it would only be appropriate to celebrate by taking her out for ice cream.

Thus, this beautiful image of us together was born.

The girl and I actually spent most of the day together. Waking up relatively early to make breakfast (Bacon and eggs? Can’t go wrong), listening to internet videos while sitting on the couch doing homework/novel-writing and, of course, getting ourselves some of that classic soft-serve frozen milk.

In the process we also made some classic lols, including the most brilliant movie script doctoring ever imagined by anyone in the history of time.

What a good gif!!

I’ll be waiting on my check, DreamWorks. Because as soon as more than ~35 people see this Bee Movie joke pulled straight out of 2017, I’ll be raking in the followers and likes for sure.

Alright all joking aside, that’s just the kind of dumb humor that flows out when my sister and I spend some quality time together.

But because I’m a terrible human being that somehow still finds Bee Movie jokes humorous, I figured I would share that quality post with the world.

Consider me inspired by Nando v. Movies recently finishing his Man of Steel rewrite.

Obviously this whole post is a little lackluster, and that’s more or less because I actually did spend most of the day either cooking or working on my Senior Honors Project. Doesn’t give me too many interesting things to share, but I also didn’t want to just leave another blank day after losing March 1 to my all-out lazy afternoon.

So consider this a passover post of sorts. Just a real quick 300 words about my day to tide you all over in the hopes that I have something more substantial tomorrow.

In the meantime, I’m going to get back to eating fancy pasta and writing. Because very rarely does my Comm Law class give out no homework, offering me the opportunity to catch up on my novel.

Looking to get past 100 pages before Tuesday.

Wish me luck.

Rainy day jazz in Santa Barbara

Rainy day jazz in Santa Barbara

At this point it feels like I’m collecting California high school visits for a checklist.

Once again my day has been spent journeying to watch my sister perform with the Redondo Union High School jazz band.

The destination? Dos Pueblos High School in Santa Barbara.

The event? The 50th annual “Jazz in Paradise” Jazz Festival.

Luckily hosted indoors, as it rained hard all morning on our way up north. None of those outdoor venues like the marching band competitions get.

While I appreciate any and all opportunities to break out my Master Sword umbrella (and boy has it gotten work this rainy season), I was more appreciative that we could hide instead.

Especially with such a nice auditorium to hide in:

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The beige whites, wooden trim and striped-blue decor gave the Elings Performing Arts Center a nautical harbor vibe that felt like home, even though home was a good few hours away.

I was also a fan of the music, even if I can’t speak to why quite as well as I can for a visual aesthetic.

That’s frankly my biggest problem with these events. While I can’t say I’m the biggest jazz listener in the world, I typically enjoy what I get to hear at the competitions. I just don’t have near enough musical knowledge to be able to tell people why — and usually those who can will tell me how awful a band was despite my thinking they sounded as good as the rest.

The one thing I can point to is Santa Ynez, who really impressed me in particular by utilizing a violin in their set.

After a while, the performances across different events do start to sound similar, so shaking that up was nice.

Plus I’ve found that I’m actually a huge fan of taking more “classical” instruments like the violin and using them in unique, more modern settings. Been noticing that a lot more in different soundtracks I’ve listened to for games and such.

But beyond that, hopefully you aren’t here for deep diving musical analyses.

All I can really provide are these screenshots and videos to help you feel like you were there.

For instance, here’s Aly and RUHS’s Jazz Band A performing “Barnburner” by Les Hooper:

I know I say it a lot, but I am quite proud of how good she is at this stuff. So much so that she recently got accepted into a rather prestigious-sounding summer program in New York.

Then again, I also make fun of her falling off video games whenever I can, since I know she loves that a whole lot.

But recently I found a good game to get her into solo play with Kirby’s Adventure on the Nintendo Switch online NES game compilation. Thus I can’t really make fun of her.

… Though I will pester her about finishing Let’s Go Eevee with me again. Especially now that Sword and Shield are coming soon.

Oh- By the way, RUHS won first place in the advanced bands with their set.

As well as smaller awards for having the best saxophone and rhythm sections.

Then they won best overall band score, on top of one of their musicians winning best solo performance of the night.

AND Aly got an outstanding soloist certificate for the advanced division.

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In other words, they swept the floor.

This event in particular also stood out because after the awards there was a concert featuring Wayne Bergeron — who has apparently worked on things like the soundtrack to Pixar’s The Incredibles.

That’s pretty cool!

Unfortunately my parents and I did not stick around for that part. We went hard from 9:00 a.m. until the end of the awards at about 6:30 p.m., plus the drive home after. So we were beat down.

Especially me after an unexpected nosebleed in the middle of the performances.

Wound up scrubbing my hands of spots like Lady Macbeth as people came in and out of the bathroom.

Never had that particular flavor of “unintentionally embarrassing myself in a public venue” before. It was fun.

Just like it was fun when my family and I went to Chili’s in the rain while waiting for the festival to start.

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Hi, welcome to Chili’s

A fact that I only bring up so I can finally reference an ancient Vine in some attempt to appear relevant and hip with the kids.

Because that feels like the most appropriate way to end off a blog post all about Jazz.