All posts tagged magic

Debate, College, and Road Trip Music

Published April 16, 2014 by Britt

I’ve been busy the past few weeks doing various different things. Starting out with debate and zombie army crawling towards Spring Break. But now I’m doing the Spring Break thing and I’m super duper happy.

Debate is a really odd thing, especially my style of debate, Student Congress. It’s similar to Model UN only much more AMURIKA and serious. Odd things happen in the chamber. People act like actual politicians and it can get actually pretty scary. But then there are some people who make for interesting stories.For example, I was at regionals and someone goes up to give a speech. This guy (We’ll call him Reek because he got on my entire team’s nerves and it rhymes with sneak… cookie for reference) went up and gave a decent speech, then took out a pocket version of the Constitution of the United States of America. Yes, the We the People one. He reads a section from it and ties it into getting rid of tobacco subsidies being unconstitutional then THROWS IT ON THE GROUND. Literally. Not dropping it.

Like this.

Now, we do the whole congressional oath of office thing at the beginning of the tournament, including swearing to protect and defend the Constitution, and I think throwing it may be a violation of that. Somehow.

We tried to disqualify the speech and label the book as a prop (which we were pretty sure you can’t have), but the speech was included later on because apparently the prop rule was in the rule book… two years ago. So the director gave them benefit of the doubt and kept the speech, and Reek won the tournament, much to my team’s distaste.

Funny side note: One of my teammates is in theatre, so she taught us some vocal warmups they do in theatre and we were doing them in a circle. A girl we know came over and thought we were talking strategy but then she heard us chanting about mixed biscuits and became concerned and confused.

So once that exhausting tournament was over, spring break came down upon me like a gift from the gods of the universe and Neil DeGrasse Tyson (Yes, I’ve been watching Cosmos: A Spacetime Odyssey and it is magical).

Spring Break means vacation time, and vacation time means college touring.  It was while I was college touring that I have found the college of my dreams.

College is a weird thing. College is like a wedding dress. You have to try on a few before you find The One and it’s super expensive.

Randy and the other lady were my parents. I’m in the dress. Mel and Munchkin are on the couch.

My parents and I have pretty much been on the same page of the college thing. I made my expectations fairly clear to them, and they seem to have gotten it. They’ve been pretty okay with it too. So they took me college touring on this fine spring break, and we went up to Gettysburg College.

We pulled into town and I was in love.

We pulled into the parking lot and I was truly in love.

By the time we finished the tour, I was ready to pack my stuff and move in.

Gettysburg is a magical place filled with quaint historical houses, ghosts, and you probably are breathing the same air Lincoln breathed when he gave the Gettysburg Address. It’s a bit of a tourist area, but it has more local restaurants than chains. I mean I saw the chains, I ate at a Friendly’s and got Starbucks plus saw the fast food chains and a Domino’s, but it’s CHARMING. There was one restaurant we ate at that was in the tavern area of the oldest building in Gettysburg called the Dobbin House and it felt like I was eating in a tavern, complete with somewhat dim lighting and candles. The food was delicious and it was my favorite restaurant that we ate at.

The college itself has gorgeous buildings on a well maintained landscape, nearly in the heart of the historic area of Gettysburg,  and is a bit larger than my high school. It has the traditional feel of William and Mary but there’s less of a pressured vibe to it and it’s not like other schools in its own weird way. It’s scholarly, but it’s not intimidating, and it’s interesting. I felt like I would fit in perfectly there, and I would never want to come back home. I’m sure I will, but I love that college so much it’s a problem. The library is wonderful, the on-campus housing is beautiful, and I love everything and everyone. Mom and Dad really liked it too, and was happy that I was happy. I really couldn’t put it into strong enough words at the time so the best I could do was emit high pitched squealing.

While we were there, that stupid cold front that dumped snow on Watson while she was looking at Notre Dame blew through while we were tramping about on the Gettysburg battlefield. It was muddy, it was cold, it was rainy, and that probably muddled my concentration on remembering the battle, but it was still really amazing. It’s a huge battlefield, and we only saw a few of the monuments. We tried to find where Lincoln delivered the Gettysburg Address (which my mom was surprised was only a few minutes) but the only sign we found about it said that it was “nearby.” Eventually we gave up because it was cold and rainy and went to get hot chocolate from Starbucks.

Today we went to Chocolate World in Hershey and made our own chocolate bars while wearing sexy hairnets. And then we drove home for most of the day.

Road trips aren’t a bad thing, right? And then you get caught in D.C. traffic. So you turn up the radio to distract yourself from the annoyances. This wouldn’t be so bad if you hadn’t spent most of the trip listening to music from the 70s-2010s. I like that music, but it gets less nostalgic overtime. And I would want to go back to the modern pop hits because my parents don’t like my indie rock jams, but dear god can radio stations overplay songs. So can society.

Let’s do a case study.

“Happy” by Pharrell was originally written for the movie Despicable Me 2. It’s a positive and upbeat tune that doesn’t discuss drugs, sex, alcohol, violence, etc. because it was originally intended for a children’s movie. It’s also been nominated for an Oscar for best song, but lost to Frozen‘s “Let It Go.” By now, if you haven’t heard this song, you’re living under a rock and I would like to join you.

Now, I like the song. It’s a good song, it’s refreshing. The video features normal people doing a happy dance and it’s cute. The only thing I dislike about it is Pharrell’s ridiculous hat.

I don’t get it! What is he, a mountie?! Why is this a thing?!

But then it comes on so much you can’t escape it. And then your school does a video with the teachers dancing to it. And they play that song in the hallways. And project the video during lunch. On loop. For thirty minutes. The video was cute. But then I grew increasingly UNHappy. My taste for being happy was soured by a bad case of Overplayitis. And that’s sad.

Of course I tried to change the channel a lot, but I was trapped in the back seat, so my arms didn’t extend that far. I also had earbuds and freshly loaded CDs on my phone, but phones die eventually.

The music industry is weird nowadays. I don’t like how they’ve allowed so much screaming of sex and drugs to be played so often, and they’ve let autotune rule everything. Then they spoil a perfectly good song and then it all goes back downhill from there. I really liked “Radioactive” by Imagine Dragons, and “Counting Stars” by OneRepublic. And then they beat it until it was beyond dead. “Happy” will be the same way. And looping songs like this made for a bad road trip.

I’m just glad to be out of the car. I don’t know how I got to this. It made more sense in my head, but it’s late and I’m tired. We’ll go with it.


Reviews with a Mug Brownie: A Game of Thrones by George RR Martin

Published April 16, 2013 by Britt

I can’t seem to find a reasonably sized one.

Summary: In a land where summers can last decades and winters a lifetime, trouble is brewing. The cold is returning, and in the frozen wastes to the North of Winterfell, sinister and supernatural forces are massing beyond the kingdom’s protective Wall. At the center of the conflict lie the Starks of Winterfell, a family as harsh and unyielding as the land they were born to. Sweeping from a land of brutal cold to a distant summertime kingdom of epicurean plenty, here is a tale of lords and ladies, soldiers and sorcerers, assassins and bastards, who come together in a time of grim omens. Amid plots and counterplots, tragedy and betrayal, victory and terror, the fate of the Starks, their allies, and their enemies hands perilously in the balance, as each endeavors to win that deadliest of conflicts: the game of thrones.

So here’s a funny story. My friend Avenger Jordan told me she was going to start watching Game of Thrones. She said it’s only two seasons in, only takes a couple weeks, and this was right before Season 3 premiered. So I asked my dad if I could jump on that bandwagon, because I heard there’s a ton of bad stuff in it (gore, sex, alcohol, etc.), and after consulting with my mother, even getting her to watch part of an episode, they said no, not even if I watched it with my dad and he told me not to do that. Even though I truly do know better. They won’t budge on the sex part, simply because they think I’m still in the “Hee hee, penis” stage.

So, normally I’m a decent child. Yeah, sometimes I don’t do my homework, but I don’t do the drugs, the alcohol, the sex. I stay away from that crowd because I have too much self respect for that. And here comes teenage rebellion, Brittany Style: Yeah, I watched it anyway. #Yolo. My punishment was to cook dinner for five nights, and this was after some arguing. But as a consolation prize for not being allowed to watch the show, my dad said I could read the book that’s been sitting on his nightstand unread because he hasn’t been in a “reading mood” and he thought it would be less graphic in word form. Well Dad, it isn’t Fifty Shades of Grey. It’s not terrible, but still there.

HOLY CRAP THIS BOOK IS LONG URRRGGGHHHH. My copy is 807 pages long and it always looked like I had less to read than I truly did, and it infuriated me. The struggle was real. But we went and got a new car (I’ll save that story for a later post…) and knocked out around a hundred pages in one night. Plus, Spring Break. And one day, I finally finished it. And started on the second book. Which is 969 pages. Isn’t that great???

Anyway, back to the actual review of this book. They call it fantasy, but it’s incredibly light fantasy, and the fantasy is used in a good way. There’s dragons, ice zombies, and direwolves. A little bit of magic, but not much. This is more about the politics and war than fantasy, the fantasy part just makes it cooler. They mention giants, but they aren’t prominent. Yet. It’s a pretty cool setting, although, as my friend Sean put it, there are Nation Roleplayers who are better at naming countries than he is. He does better with the last names, although I wonder how many more Starks there are going to be in the world of fiction. Tony Stark, House Stark, all these people. Uggh.

This is told in many different points of view. Each character has their own games to play, their own distinct features. And they’re all incredibly human. There is no valiant hero, as the more obvious good guys each have darker motives as well. The more obvious villains have good motives as well, mostly in the form of survival, and then there are some guys (Re: Joffrey) who are just worthy of being punched repeatedly. Everyone hates Joffrey. I had hoped he’d be more like Malfoy from Harry Potter, and I was wrong. He just got worse, and it’s just… ugggghhh. It’s easy to hate characters, and some you love, and some you’re indifferent towards. I really love Tyrion and Daenarys. But I warn you, George RR Martin is also one of those authors who murders characters you love. Like J.K. Rowling. Or John Green. Or even Suzanne Collins to an extent. There’s one particular character who had so much potential and then he got the ax. Literally. People who have read this book or watched the series know who I’m talking about. I saw a comment once where this person’s mother came in during the last ten minutes of that episode and she’s all “Someone’s going to swoop in and save him. They won’t kill him this early, would they?” WRONG, LADY. WRONG.

The plots remain pretty consistent with each other and overlap nicely despite many points of view. And they’re all going somewhere. I’m just waiting for them to start intersecting. Perhaps I’ll see that as the series continues.

ALSO, the TV Show aged everyone about two or three years. Believe it or not, in the series, wars are being fought by twelve year olds. It’s just like high school. But with beheadings.

Overall, five stars. Very good.

BONUS ROUND: I need to start talking more to my followers. So, my advice is to take this quiz and leave your results in the comments. I’m primarily House Targaryen (DRAGONS, GUYS), but I also received: 56% Stark, 67% Lannister, 75% Baratheon, 54% Tully, 53% Tyrell, 64% Martell, 41% Greyjoy, and 18% Arryn.

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