Saturday, February 28, 2009

A Quick Update

Phew! It's been a very busy two weeks. Hence the lack of updates. The simple reason is that my teachers have decided to pile everything onto their poor students. Especially my government teacher Dr. Budryte. She gave us a research paper to before last Monday and then a letter to my state representative to do last Friday. The research paper took time, and after much procrastination, I finally managed to get it done. I'm happy with it and hope I get a good grade on it. I could have started work on my letter last Tuesday, but I spent the entire day studying for my history test (which, despite feeling confident about it, I didn't do as well as I thought I did). On Wednesday, I couldn't start because Dr. Budryte didn't send me a link with possible topics until late, so I started it on Thursday and finished it on Friday afternoon. Talk about being busy. And now, she is even less merciful because we still have a weekly assignment due and I have an upcoming group project after spring break. My other classes haven't been as busy, though science has been because I have reading assignments before every class and because I have to do stuff before labs. Dr. Purcell is an ok teacher (how many teachers blast music in the lab or play Fine Young Cannibals or Prince before class?), but he's taking a long time to go over things. It feels like we're lightly skimming things, and I feel, sadly, that I've learned more from Dr. La's class than his. Speaking of which, my brief break from Dr. La is about over. Next Friday, I have a test, and then after spring break I'm stuck with him for another month. I'm praying that he won't have time to talk about ET and UFOs, which he defines as an interesting topic; or maybe I might just have to skip school that day for the first time. I've decided on a science project topic, though I might change it. It'll be hard to discuss ancient astronomy and ancient astronomers without dealing with the theories of ancient ET visitations. So, that has been my week at school.

Mandy had her birthday party two weekends ago at Grandpa Mike's house. She invited a lot of her friends as well as the older cousins, and then Noah and Gabe brought their friends Ian and Bobby. We arrived at the house around 5:30, and Uncle Josh didn't bring the guys and Sunny until about an hour later. Gabe played a joke on Mandy and texted her, saying that he had pinkeye and couldn't come. He did show up, and everyone laughed at the joke. We enjoyed pizza and Grandpa's famous non-alcoholic pina colada, and then everyone went downstairs to play with the air hockey, table tennis, Playstation, and Wii. Shortly afterwards, we were called back upstairs so Mandy could open her presents. The most memorable one was Cliff's gift to her. It took thirty minutes to open, and it was sweet in a sense. Cliff's gift was a large box with two smaller boxes inside. One box had contents of "what you need in this life" like skills (pencils), food (peppermints and crackers), and random stuff like that. Cliff also wrote little messages on the boxes and warned her to open the right box first or she would face the consequences. Mandy opened the second box and discovered a coffee can inside (from what I heard, that coffee can smelled pretty bad) with a smaller box. Mandy kept getting smaller and smaller boxes and things wrapped in paper, and she quickly learned to hate tape. Finally, after twenty minutes, Mandy opened up a piece of paper at the bottom of the chain. It was a treasure map that led to her birthday present... which was in Cliff's jacket pocket. It was a knife (Mandy has always wanted one) and a necklace and earring set. Mandy loves the necklace and earrings, as she has been wearing them frequently. After the gifts, we played paper telephone downstairs and then ate the delicious birthday cake upstairs (Costco made a beautiful and tasty cake that didn't taste all sugary sweet like most other grocery store cakes do). After dessert, everyone went downstairs to play Guitar Hero on the Playstation. About ten thirty or so, all the boys and a few girls (including myself, Mom, Dad, and Seth) left to let the girls have their sleepover downstairs. Some of the boys came over to our house and spent the night because it was too far for them to drive, and they enjoyed watching "13th Warrior" with us. The next day, we were fairly busy. I spent that time finally finishing a first draft of my government project while Seth went paintballing for a friend's birthday party. All in all, a fun yet busy weekend.

Speaking of weekends, yesterday we did something fun yet arduous. Mandy still had birthday money and wanted to buy herself some boots, so we girls decided to go to the outlet at Dawsonville. We took Megan T. with us, but Bethany G. wasn't able to go. Mom and I first cleaned the church until 1:30 before we picked up Megan. It was about 4 before we finally got to the outlet, mostly due to the fact we hit every single red light on the way there and had to stop for gas and lunch as well. We spent about an hour there looking around. Mandy bought herself some boots and some black shoes (that cost her $5 and make her look as tall as Dad). I went to Dressbarn, looking for a summer dress or something to wear to the Celtic Woman concert later this month, but had no luck. I ended up buying myself three shirts, some pretty earrings, and a headband at a store called Bass, where Mandy bought her boots. At 5:15 or so, we began driving back to Buford so we could go to Costco and take Megan home. The mall area was an absolute zoo and took up a lot of valuable time. Mom, Mandy, and I didn't get home until 7:30 or so after a very long day.

Today was interesting, to say the least. We went to church this morning, and it was cold and wet because it was rainy on Saturday. When church was over, we looked out the window and saw it was snowing. Not the little flurries, mind you, but huge snowflakes about the size of a fingernail. We enjoyed the covered dish lunch that we have every first Sunday of the month, then I grabbed my camera (which providentially was in my purse at the time) and went outside to see the sights. The younger boys had already grabbed their coats and were throwing small snowballs at each other, and some of the girls were joining them. Because I was wearing open-toe shoes that are more meant for summer than winter, I alternated between inside and outside. I got hit with a snowball a few times, but I caught mostly small video clips and a few pictures. By the time we left, a lot of the boys were red-faced and several were sopping wet. When we got home, Mandy and I donned warmer clothing and went outside to take pictures of the yard. After a while, we got cold and went inside. By 5:30, the snow had stopped and the wind was beginning to pick up. There is still some snow on the ground, but it is turning to ice. Seth and Mandy don't have school tomorrow, and I'm not sure if GGC is closed, but I'm hoping it will be and so is Mom.

One final thing: we have a new hamster. Albiet, it was unexpected. A girl from church had baby hamsters and was giving them away, and Mom had been wanting to get a hamster for the science classroom, so she got one. However, the hamster escaped due to the cage not being closed properly, so we brought it home for the night and returned it to school the next day. On Friday, a Geneva student (who shall be unnamed here) decided to scare the poor hamster and yell at it, making it squeak loudly. After that, Mom decided that she would not let the hamster be traumatized, so now it is at home with us. We put it on the dining room table during the day when we are at home, but at night and when we are gone, we put the cage in the bathtub and close the door to keep the inquisitive cats from trying to get into the cage. Her name was something in Latin that means "foolishness" (because she escaped on the first day), though I'm not sure if it will stick. She seems to be settling in fairly well at home, and we've discovered that she loves oats and lettuce as treats. We're thinking of getting a glass cage instead of the plastic one, but I'm not sure if we're getting it or not.

And I have another update on the Clannad vs. Enya post. I read an interview with Clannad member Ciaran Brennan that was eye-opening, though I don't know how true it is. Ciaran claims that Enya's current producer Nicky Ryan was a jerk and didn't like Clannad's singer Maire (even insulting her after a successful concert one night and claiming she was completely off-key), which probably led to Clannad looking for a new producer. As regards to this family feud between the two bands, the interview also mentioned a recent conversation between Ciaran and Nicky where Nicky said he wouldn't let Ciaran record with his own sister Enya in her 15-million dollar studio. If this is true, then it explains why Enya was brought into Clannad in the first place: possibly to push Maire out and be replaced with Eithne/Enya (which oddly enough sounds like another Irish band I enjoy), possibly leading to Clannad becoming an 80's hair band, as Enya claimed Ryan wanted to do with the band. As I said, I don't know if Ciaran was lying, but from the pieces I read from interviews mostly on the Enya/Nicky Ryan side indicate that there is certainly something nasty underlying this whole feud. I do hope that this feud gets settled someday because it's almost 30 years old and also because it'd be nice for Clannad and Enya to join forces once again.

Friday, February 13, 2009

Mandy Turns 15!

Last week I'm afraid I neglected to talk about Mandy turning 15 as my mind was full of comparing Clannad and Enya. However, I'll do Mims some justice and talk about her birthday and the events surrounding it.

A few days before her birthday, Mandy began carefully watching the mailbox and looking for birthday cards. Regarding presents, Mom and Dad have promised to buy her a new cellphone, which she has been wanting for a while, and they also gave her the computer game "Fitness Dash," which we have been playing for the past week, and a t-shirt that says "I saved Latin. What did you ever do?" or something like that (sadly the shirt arrived late i.e. yesterday the 12th). Seth's gift was taking her shopping at Rue 21 (which we did last Monday and which I will detail later). So, Mandy received most of her gifts on Friday afternoon. It is a tradition every birthday for that person to choose a restaurant to eat at, and Mandy chose Atlanta Bread Company. Seth drove us there, and now we come to another event. Seth has not driven much in rush hour traffic on Lawrenceville- Suwanee (which is horrible between 3:00 and 7:00), so he was nervous. We were driving down the road when Mom suddenly pointed out a place he could turn in to get to the restaurant. Seth was going a bit fast and made a sharp turn, which caused him to run over the curb. As soon as he had cleared the concrete, we could tell that something had happened. It felt as if a tire or two had been popped, so Seth pulled into the nearest parking spot. We got out and found that indeed our left front tire had been popped and that something else had changed because now whenever we open the driver's door it makes a creaking noise it didn't make before. Anyway, we decided not to think about the car and enjoy dinner. We walked to the other end of the parking lot to meet Dad, informed him of the accident, and then went inside to order our food. Mom and Dad ordered soup, but we kids ordered sandwiches. We laughed and talked for about an hour. Afterwards, we went to look over the van. Dad pulled it into another parking spot, and then we piled into Dad's car (we're not kids anymore, and now we have to squeeze to get into the back seat). We went to Blockbuster, as Dad wanted to find "Sixteen Candles," but we couldn't find the movie and couldn't decide on what we wanted to see. We left the store without a movie and went home to watch something there.

On Saturday, Dad, Seth, and Mandy went to get the van's tire fixed, so Mom and I stayed home until the van was ready. Then we went to clean up the church. Saturday was busy, as I was busy trying to get all my homework done and study for a science test on Monday. Thankfully, I did finish it all.

On Monday, after much pleading from Mandy, Seth finally took her shopping after school. Rue 21 had some cool outfits, but it took Mandy a while to figure out what she wanted. I tried on a cute shirt there, but it was too small (and it was a large size), which made me wonder how Mandy can buy stuff from there, but I'll leave that to her. Mandy finally decided on some pants and three t-shirts that were on sale. One of her shirts has a rock, a sheet of paper, some scissors, and says something about picking one of them. Another one has a lemon sitting next to a glass of lemonade and saying "this is so wrong." The last one has a glass of milk and a cookie on it and says something about friends being together. While Seth was paying, Mandy spotted some cute socks and added them to the gift. She is very happy with her new clothes, including the Latin shirt. It is funny that while we shopped, Seth stood there, looking around nervously and avoiding the underwear section as much as he could. Poor Seth. He hates shopping, but he survived it.

And that is Mandy's 15th birthday. Oh, I nearly forgot to mention her cake. Mom made it on Thursday and took it to school on Mandy's birthday. A few pieces were saved for me and Dad. It was a good cake, made up of normal batter, frosting, and then strawberries. I wish there was more of the cake, but the students at Geneva can be thanked for that :) I've currently got another idea for a music topic, but I'm thinking of waiting until late March to write it until I see the show, which will be helpful in writing it. Anyway, I need to get off and get back to studying for my psychology test that I'm taking tomorrow during the day.

Tuesday, February 10, 2009

Clannad vs. Enya

Ok, time for something a bit more cheery. My last post was merely to vent my frustrations at college, but this week has so far been better. I got my grades for two tests (history was 94 and government was 97 in a class average of 70), and I'm happy with both of them. Yesterday I saw my Spanish professor Dr. McGlone in the hall, and he said he missed me in his class and that I should continue doing Spanish. It made me feel somewhat guilty for not being his class, as I would love to be in it, but his only Spanish 3 class meets during my required government class. Mom suggested yesterday that while I go to Christ College next fall that I also be enrolled at GGC for Spanish 3 and 4, but we've not decided anything about that yet. I'm also excited because this week I'm going to the Spanish Film Festival. They were showing two movies, but I settled on "Pan's Labyrinth" because it's a movie my family has been interested in seeing. I'm looking forward to seeing it, plus it will get a government project out of my way. On the other side, this morning would have been good except for the fact the sink swallowed one of my favorite earrings, one of the pair that Grandma Linda gave me for Christmas and the pair that had replaced another pair from Arizona that had fallen down the same said sink. However, there's nothing I could do to get it out because it was too far down and Mandy turned the water, pushing it out of sight. Bummer. I think the sink makes me drop the earrings so that it can eat them. Dad says I should stop putting on earrings on front of that mirror, but it's really the only place I can do it and we can't put the stopper in the mirror because it gets clogged up with my hair and Mandy's hair.

Anyway, I'd like to try something different blog post-wise. I mostly give a quick, boring rundown on life around here, but I've been thinking about actually giving a personal musical opinion, hence the title of this post. I mean no offense to either Clannad or Enya in this post, as I am merely comparing them by what I've heard from both and from reviews for both.

I've mentioned Clannad on this blog a few times because I did a paper on them for my music appreciation class last semester. Clannad is similar to Enya in that they both have a similar ethereal sound and similar voices (well, the two female singers are sisters so that makes sense), but that is where the similarity ends. Clannad started out as a traditional Irish band playing folk Irish songs in Gaelic and giving them a more modern makeover, and Nicky Ryan worked with them between 1973 and 1981. However, Nicky Ryan (this is according to an interview with Enya that I read about) wanted to turn Clannad into an 80's pop band but needed to push them in that direction. In 1978, he invited little sister Eithne Brennan to join Clannad as a keyboardist and for backup vocals. Around 1981, just after releasing another album, Clannad decided to get a new producer, and Nicky asked if he could take Eithne with him when he left. Eithne left with him to go solo as Enya. Anyway, so Clannad shot to fame in 1982 with their song "Theme from Harry's Game," which has a very ethereal Enya-like sound except it has authentic voices. They also did work on a soundtrack for a BBC show called "Robin of Sherwood" which is heard on their album "Legend" (which is a very fine album with a perfect mixture of folk music and a more ethereal, mystic sound and a bit of 80's sound). For the rest of the 80's, Clannad remained big mostly in Europe and not much in the US, though they did make an opening there in the early 90's with their "Harry's Game" song. Then they moved away towards 80's pop and began using more electronic instruments and a bit more darker sound. Their album "Lore" is excellent, and "Landmarks" is pretty good too though not as much as "Lore." Enya sprang to fame in 1988, after Clannad had already released an environmental pop album for American consumption, and she grew bigger than they did. I believe that Enya's rise to fame is partially responsible for Clannad's curtained fame though in my opinion she is not as good as they are.

I say Enya is not as good for one reason: she has little to no variety. Clannad, with a career of thirty years, developed from a rustic traditional band to an 80's pop band to a New Age band. This gave them ample opportunity to experiment and try new things, even sometimes giving traditional songs a modern treatment.Their album "Macalla" is a good example of this. You have a dark/malencholy duet with Bono, the Enya-esque "Caislean Oir", lively pop song "Closer to Your Heart", and then the sad "Northern Skyline." Then as Clannad evolves in the 90's you get the soft pop CD "Banba" and then move to more heavier stuff on "Lore." All in all, Clannad has spanned so many genras of music and has done so well in each one. Enya, on the other hand, has not done the same. I did some research on amazon, Rolling Stones, and another music review magazine and watched Enya's reviews. "Watermark" and "Shepherd Moons" got good reviews, however "Memory of Trees" began going down. "Day without Rain" and "Amarantine" were also not good, according to the critics. It is also interesting, reading the comments of fans on amazon who like her recent CDs but seem to agree on this point "can't she try something new? Everything is beginning to sound the same." I have to agree on this point because so many of Enya's songs sound the same, and if she tries stepping out to something relatively new (like her CD "The Celts", where it sounds like fake traditional Celtic music and doesn't fit in with the documentary the music was for) it doesn't work well with her synthesizer and keyboard. I'm in a current stage where I enjoy listening to some select songs of hers, but listening to her earlier stuff and comparing it with her more current stuff, it almost seems that something happened, like the music suddenly began sounding watered down and not of good quality of her early CDs. I'm not sure how to explain it, but I never felt the same way about Clannad; the more time Clannad spent in the music industry, the better the music became. Maybe I feel that way because Enya has a specific song position where everything sounds similar and Clannad's songs are all so different and unique, but I don't know. Part of the problem may be is that Enya has no band, as 99% of the time she plays all the instruments and does everything herself, while Clannad is made up of four central musicians and then a background band like a drummer and an occasional saxophone player. Because Clannad uses all these different instruments, they can afford to experiment with new genras and styles, but Enya can't because she uses the one same instrument she's used for just over twenty years. Another reason I think Clannad is better is because they can actually perform live while Enya lip-synchs. Despite their Enya-esque sound, Clannad can perform it live with acoustic instruments and still sound wonderful (there is a video on youtube on a recent concert of theirs where they play a medley of songs from "Legend" and it sounds excellent), which is one reason I'm looking forward to their new acoustic album that's coming out hopefully within a year. However, I've watched two "live" videos of Enya performing on TV shows, but both versions, filmed about fifteen years apart, are lip-synched and sound exactly like the studio recording. A pet peeve of mine is that if an artist can't perform without lip-synching then they must have something wrong with their real voice and are trying to hide it.

Anyway, those are just my thoughts on comparing Clannad and Enya. I still enjoy listening to both of them, though I prefer Clannad's variety and better, "heavier" sound over Enya's lighter sound. I'm not trying to bash Enya's music, but I do wish she'd try something new with other real instruments besides the piano and the rare use of uillean pipes and not sticking to the synthesizer all the time. It'd be nice if Enya and Clannad worked aside the bitter family differences and came back together as one band again; I think they could produce something beautiful together like they did on their earlier traditional works with her, but that is just me. I don't know if I bored you to tears, but if I did, speak up because I don't want to post things that no one likes reading.

Tuesday, February 3, 2009


This may sound odd, especially for me, but I'm looking forward to this semester being over. Why? Well, let's put it this way: I am getting tired of my teachers acting like idiots and am also getting tired of taking these stupid required classes that sounded cool at first but aren't interesting. Plus, there are a few other reasons, but those are mostly personal rants against GGC though one is a bit more personal.

First, the idiotic teachers. I mentioned last week how much I'm enjoying the astronomy class. Last Wednesday, that ended. It began to go downhill when we did our weekly lab: scaling down the solar system. My team had trouble with the required math and when a classmate came over to help, one of the girls was looking at the paper and copying down some of the answers when Dr. La snatched it from her and said "that's cheating." Plus he was completely unclear about the assignment and what we would turn in, despite him claiming he had already told us. Then it got worse. I used to think that Dr. La was a Buddhist, which I had no problem with, but that quickly changed; I think he's a believer in that Star Wars religion. Why? Because he keeps claiming that Star Wars is real, George Lucas is an alien, and other related stuff. Keep in mind this is not a joke; I think he actually expects us to believe it too, though thankfully I don't think any of my classmates have bought into his weird ideas. It is so sad that I love astronomy but that this class is completely ruining it for me. The next class I'm not enjoying is government, mostly because I feel like I've taken it several times already (US history in 10th grade, government/economics in 12th grade, and US history I last semester), plus I get all my information mostly from Dad, who often sends me articles or things on the like. I'm not enjoying psychology either, mostly because the teacher seems nervous most of the time and because the class seems to be more about human anatomy and mathematics than psychology. And bringing a sheep's brain to class with it dripping and saying that Thursday we'll see sheep eyes is a bit stomach jumping; I'm not a biology student, so why must I see those things? That is the reason I refused to take biology in college: dissections. Yuck. Anyway, I must change the subject before my stomach gets too queasy. The only class I'm really enjoying right now is US History II, but sadly I only get it once a week. So just, the past week has been really rough dealing with these classes. Hence, I am ready for the semester to be over so I can Lord willing go to Christ College in the fall and get a good quality education, one that doesn't melt my brain or talk about the stupidest things. Hopefully it'll get better in the next few weeks. I'm hoping that my earth science teacher Dr. Purcell is good because I've only had him once; it'll partially help to make up for the environmental trash and Star Wars history I'm getting in astronomy.

So... that is venting my GGC class frustrations. I could vent about the high lunch prices and stealing my money by not giving me refunds when they make a mistake, but I won't go there. Besides, I've got to get studying. I've got a history test tonight and a government test tomorrow, and I want to do well on both of them.