Wednesday, December 31, 2014

2014 | Favourites

Once again it is the end of the year and it's time for my yearly favourites round-up. These are my top 5 albums, TV shows/seasons, and books that I've enjoyed the most this year.

Monday, November 3, 2014

2014 | October Albums

October had numerous fantastic releases from both newcomers and old-timers. There were so many that I had to narrow it down to avoid having an overly long post. Although these are just my top three choices of the month, I would also recommend checking out:

Hozier by Hozier (7 October)
Irish singer-songwriter Andrew Hozier-Bryne released his debut self-titled album following a year of slowly building success with two EP releases. Hozier combines soul, gospel, blues, rock, and folk together to complement Hozier's haunting, soulful voice. Lyrically, Hozier tackles some complicated issues, setting his debut apart from others in the genre. Although I don't usually enjoy soul/blues-tinged rock musicians, Hozier's voice quickly captivated me and his hooks stay in my head for days.
Favourite tracks: Angel of Small Death & the Codeine Scene, Jackie & Wilson, Sedated.

Monday, October 20, 2014

Asheville + 20th Birthday Celebration

Wednesday, October 1, 2014

2014 | Music Midtown Festival

Wednesday, September 24, 2014

2014 | Autumn Playlist

I updated my autumn playlist from year and doubled the number of songs on it. During the (slightly) colder months I'm drawn to less upbeat pop music and more to alternative/indie rock. This playlist is mostly made up of songs from some of my favourite alternative bands with a few random artists thrown in to balance it out.

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Thursday, July 31, 2014

2014 | July Albums

As with last month, there was too much good music released this month to keep it all in my monthly favourites, so I'm again writing it up in its own post.

1000 Forms of Fear by Sia (4th July)
I'll admit, Some People Have Real Problems will always be my favourite Sia record, so 1000 Forms of Fear is a little of a letdown. But in a way, it seems like a purposeful letdown. After writing top hits for musicians like Rihanna, it comes as no surprise that dance-y pop music holds a large place here with only a little of her previous singer/songwriter sound coming through. 1000 Forms of Fear is much stronger than an average pop album, with its deeper lyrical content and varied song formats.
Favourite tracks: Burn the Pages, Eye of the Needle, Elastic Heart, Dressed in Black

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Let's Skip to the Good Bit

In exactly a month I will again be moving myself and most of my possessions into a tiny little dorm room for four and a half months. And it could not come soon enough.

Summer has always been my least favourite season and this year more so than in the past. The only thing I usually look forward to about the summer months is no school, even though I like school, because that gives me time to catch up on books and movies that I didn't have time to enjoy the rest of the year. Last year I was excited for autumn because that meant moving out of my house for the first time and going to college. But this year I've especially wished for the summer months to go faster because I both miss my school-year life and dislike how I'm spending my time this summer.

Although I love my family and my little home city, I more enjoy living independently right outside of the capitol's downtown. I miss the atmosphere of my on-campus "village" - the intelligence and cultural engagement of my fellow students who actually care about what's happening in the world. I especially miss living with my friends, getting to spend time with them every day, meeting up for late night study sessions and ordering takeaway at 11pm, discussing personal beliefs and seeing other points of view, watching ridiculous movies on weekends, and going to local gigs, among many other things.

As for dissatisfaction in my summer living, it all comes down to how I'm spending the majority of my time. Between my two jobs I've been working about 40 hours a week with varying shifts so my free time has been inconsistent for the past two months, which makes it hard to plan things with friends. Additionally, most of my college friends don't live near me so I've only seen a few of them this summer. But the biggest thing has been my job. I've been working at Target/Starbucks 2 years/3 summers now, and while I have gained work experience and many useful skills during my time there, I don't feel as though I've really gone anywhere since the time I started. Part of the reason I love taking classes so much is that there is always an end goal with multiple short-term goals in the middle. If I've spent a day in classes and on homework, at the end of the day I feel like I've made progress and accomplished something and learned something new, and it's a satisfying feeling. At Starbucks, all I've done is make a little more money, but there's no personal feeling of something gained at the end of the day.

But of course, the prospect of what lies ahead is what is most exciting to me: I'm psyched for all my of classes in the fall, I'm living with one of my best friends in a hall full of people I already know, I have a job on campus so I'll have a steady if small income, I have some good concerts and road trips planned, and most of all, I'll (hopefully) be spending my spring semester in Germany. With all the craziness coming up in the next few months, perhaps a few more weeks of quietness are needed!

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Tuesday, June 17, 2014

2014 | Summer Playlist

Usually in the summer I listen almost exclusively to pop music, but this year I've been more drawn to rock songs, from radio-friendly pop-rock tunes to older songs from the 70s-90s. Because I spend a lot of time driving by myself in the summer, I like having a selection of music than I can sing along to at obnoxious decibels and have fun doing it.

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Monday, May 12, 2014


Thursday, April 24, 2014

End of the Year

Yesterday was the last day of classes, which means I only have 5 finals separating me from summer break! Freshman year flew by incredibly fast; it feels like it was only a few weeks ago that I was moving into my dorm and meeting the other people living in my building. I've lived with an incredible group of people in the Quad this past year and have made some incredible friends along the way. I've spent countless late nights studying and talking with people about personal issues and global topics and have gained new perspectives from other people's points of views. I discovered what some of my passions in life are and have had two incredible academic advisors that have helped me sort everything out. Overall freshman year was incredible and I cannot wait until sophomore year and everything it will bring.

As some of you know, I successfully transferred into International Studies and decided to concentrate in Economy & Environment, and I am geekishly excited to start the three economics classes I'm taking in the fall (plus one economics-focused political science class and the next level of German). I've started the application process to study abroad in Germany next spring, although I won't find out if I've been accepted until November. I already have a list of things to do to prepare (get my courses approved, get letters of recommendation, figure out a cell phone plan, get my passport renewed, etc) but I'm stoked about living overseas for 5-6 months. To prepare for the trip, I'll be working a LOT this summer. Most likely I'll be working at Starbucks again, but I have a few applications out for jobs on campus in the fall to save up a bit more money for my trip.

Regardless of whether I get a job on campus this fall or not, I have already decided that I need to be more involved in campus activities during sophomore year. I was a General Assembly member on my hall council and was involved in a small group study and the International Studies club (or at least until it fell apart this past semester), but there were numerous other opportunities that I wanted to pursue but never did. Next fall I hope to join the sailing club (something I've always wanted to do but have never had the time to learn) and find an undergraduate research opportunity. As I'm thinking of pursuing a research position post-graduation, getting involved in a project now is obviously the best first step.

As I'm planning to be working all summer, I don't have anything too exciting planned, but all the anticipated adventures of sophomore year will more than make up for it!

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Tuesday, April 15, 2014

Personally Significant Films

A few days ago charlieissocoollike, a YouTuber, posted a video about some of the films that are significant to him and some of the lessons that they've taught him. I thought it was a cool video concept that hasn't been done on YouTube, and as I've been floundering around without any blog post ideas, I decided to use his general idea. I tried to pick a wide variety of films that all have different meanings for me and encompass the general film categories of interest to me instead of just a list of favourites that all seem to have had the same influence.

Friday, March 21, 2014

Savannah & Tybee Island

Sunday, March 2, 2014

2014 | February Favourites

movie - Miss Pettigrew Lives For A Day. If I'm completely honest, I've been wanting to watch this movie ever since my friend told me Lee Pace was in it (I'm an unapologetic Pushing Daisies fan) and I finally had time this month to watch it. It's an absolute piece of fluff but it's so charming that I didn't mind. The cast list is spectacular with many famous faces -- Frances McDormand, Amy Adams, Lee Pace, Mark Strong, Shirley Henderson, and Ciarán Hinds, and the setting and costumes are gorgeous. The plot follows Guinevere Pettigrew, a destitute governess, who steals a client's card from her agency and finds herself unexpectedly working as a social secretary for Delysia Lafosse, a singer who is caught in the middle of three love affairs and is attempting to pick between money, a career, and love. Although there is some serious content matter, the movie is overall very light and fun. 

Saturday, February 1, 2014

2014 | January Favourites

movie - Gravity. With the Academy Awards coming up in a little over a month, I've spent January catching up on some of the nominees. Gravity was my favourite visually. It's a gripping thriller of an astronaut fighting to stay alive after being trapped in space with limited resources. While the storyline was engaging, it was its visual appeal that really hooked me. The effects were entirely believable, a fact that I better appreciated when I learned that the director, Alfonso Cuarón, waited several years for the technology to catch up with his vision for the film before starting production. I also loved the uncommon way that long scenes were shot -- the opening sequence is an uninterrupted 12-minute long section. Gravity has been nominated for Oscar nominations in a wide variety of categories (it's tied with American Hustle with 10 nominations each) alongside 80 other awards and nominations, proving it to be a truly spectacular piece of film.
TV show - Sherlock, Series 3. After being on hiatus for two years, the third series of Sherlock was met with frantic anticipation and plenty of tears from the Tumblr fandom. And it didn't disappoint. Although it was vastly different from the previous two series, it was a good change. There was more character development in nearly every character and we were able to better see what makes Sherlock the way he is -- we get glimpses into his childhood and more family moments with Mycroft and their parents. Molly grows more of a spine around Sherlock, Anderson is made likable, John gets married to Mary (a fantastic new character), Lestrade's name is mixed up on more occasions, and most importantly, a certain famous somebody returns. There were lots of surprises and comical moments and sad moments and overall it was a fantastic season.

TV show, honourable mention - Being Human (UK), Series 5. Netflix put up the 5th series of Being Human in December and I finally got around to watching it this past month. It was a fantastic way to end an amazing show; I love when producers know it's the final season and so they can tie up all the loose knots and give the show a satisfactory ending. The thing I always loved about Being Human was that each season was completely unique and different from each other, so they could take this final season in a new direction and give the characters a happier ending than the original characters received. I wasn't too sure at first when they introduced the devil as the season's villain, but they surprisingly pulled it off really well and kept him unlikeable and creepy (yes I'm looking at you, Supernatural). The new trio was completely different from the original set but were just as loveable.
book - Americanah by Chimamanda Ngozi Adichie. I've never read any of Adichie's books before this one, but if Americanah is anything to judge by, I may have found my new favourite author. Americanah is one of the most thought-provoking and beautifully written novels I've ever read. Despite it being work of fiction, the author wove in her own Nigerian background to tackle issues of race and relationships in the modern world. Other reviewers have wrote that they didn't feel Adichie completely addressed each of these topics and while I agree, I preferred it this way. Each section of the book showed which area the main character, Ifemula, struggled with the most at that point in her life, which gave the narrative a realistic feel.

album/artist - Warpaint by Warpaint. I'm surprising myself by putting this on here as I've never been a Warpaint fan, but the release of their sophomore, self-titled album was enough to sway me over to their side. I enjoy the atmosphere the album provides more than the actual music itself, but their soft rock sound has a way of growing on me. Warpaint has joined my ever-growing collection of study music. Favourite track: Biggy.

album/artist, honourable mention #1 - Tribute by John Newman. Newman's debut album released in the US this month and it's been getting plenty of airtime on my computer. His 60s-esque blend of soul and pop is highly addicting and the songs get stuck in my head all the time. There's nothing truly groundbreaking with this album, but if you want something that's fun to listen to, I highly recommend this one. Favourite track(s): Losing Sleep and Gold Dust.
album/artist, honourable mention #2 - All This Bad Blood by Bastille. This is more a quick mention since I've already talked about this album in an earlier post, but I just wanted to briefly share that it released in the US this month and I've been listening to it constantly. Favourite track: The Draw.

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Wednesday, January 8, 2014

Winter Playlist

Wednesday, January 1, 2014

2014 | Looking Ahead

2013 was an absolute whirlwind of a year. I accomplished more in the past 12 months than I have in the last few years combined -- more than I thought I would at the beginning of the year. The year was overall full of exciting things, but a few highlights were:
  • high school graduation. I graduated in May without ever earning lower than a B- on a report card and with 27 college credits from community college. Senior year was especially difficult for me as I tackled college and AP courses for the first time while also handling a job and some semblance of a social life, but it was all worth it when I graduated with honours and made it into the honours program at a well-regarded university.
  • working. After I graduated, I took a week off and then returned to working at Target for the rest of the summer. This year, probably because I was 18 and therefore a legal adult, I had longer hours and worked more shifts. I felt much more comfortable working in customer service as I'd done it all before the previous summer and I got to know my coworkers really well. My job also gave me some insight into what kind of career I'd like to pursue in the future.
  • college. The biggest achievement/change was college and everything that goes with it. I moved out of my house in August and into a hall-style dorm, which has had its ups and downs but was primarily composed of good moments. Although college classes themselves are nothing new to me, the whole experience of being completely in charge of my own schedule was new (and I currently miss it while being home on break). There were numerous occasions when a friend and I would get dinner at 11pm or a study group would get together and then goof off until 2am -- things that are difficult to do unless you live 100 feet from all your friends.
  • all As. My biggest personal accomplishment this year was getting all As in my first semester at college. I haven't achieved all As in a semester since 10th grade, so I was very excited when I saw my GPA. I had hoped to achieve all As all of freshman year, and so far I'm right on track to get them.
And now, it's January 1st. The fresh start of a new year. The chance to be better and do bigger things. An opportunity to make dozens of promises to yourself that you really will, this year, try to accomplish your resolutions, despite failing everytime in the past.

I'm cynical about great changes happening in short amounts of time, which is why I've constructed my own little list of New Year's Resolutions that I can actually accomplish.

  • read good books. I'm thoroughly disappointed in myself for last year's reading choices. I didn't read nearly as often as I would've liked and the books I did were fluffy pieces because I didn't feel like reading heavier subjects. This year, I've resolved to read books worth their pages. I'm starting with a list of books regarded as the best of 2013 and branching off from there. I'm also determined to read more nonfiction, particularly about historical events I've always been interested in but have never had the motivation to study.
  • figure out what I'm doing with my life. I've decided to pursue International Studies as a major, but I also want to double major so I'm hoping to discover a second major this year. I also want to do some looking into what I can do with my major of choice and what career paths look interesting to me.
  • make a conscious effort to save money for "big time" adventures. Speaking of IS majors... at my university they're required to spend time studying abroad. I haven't narrowed my decision down to a single country, but I do know that I will need plenty of money for wherever I choose to go. Although I did save up about $2000 last summer, most of that went to buying a new MacBook Pro and contributing to my spending funds for my time spent not working while in school. With a goal to travel internationally either next year or the year after, I need to save up more of my summer funds so that I can enjoy myself without freaking out over finances.
  • get an internship. And speaking of finances... I hope to get a paid internship this summer. While I enjoy working at Target / Starbucks, I would love to get some experience in my field of study and make some money while doing it.
  • watch 50+ quality films I've never seen before. Of course I had to add a just-for-fun goal! Last year, I had a goal to watch 100 films I'd never seen before, which I accomplished 3 weeks before the end of the year. This year I'm lowering the number of films because [1] some of the films I watched last year were absolute crap (watching Saturday Night Fever is one of my biggest life regrets), and thus [2] it will give me the extra space to be a little more selective about finding new films.
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