Friday, June 29, 2012

City Creek

City Creek Center, in Salt Lake City, opened last March to thousands.  Work began in 2003, so it’s taken about 8 years for the project to be completed.  I moved to Utah back in 2001, so pretty much my entirety while living here has been nothing but downtown construction.  The outside Mall, which can become covered in snow and rain, is beautiful, and here are a few of the pictures I took on a recent visit.  

Many new stores came to the mall, being the first in Utah, including Michael Kors and Swarovski.  And there is also a Cheesecake Factory restaurant, which is amazing.  I worry a little over the Gateway, hoping they won’t lose business, but I’m glad we have this new, beautiful shopping center. 

Have a great day!!

Monday, June 25, 2012

Brave: Movie Review

Rating: 4.25 out of 5 Stars (I need to find a fancy graphic for that).

Last Friday I saw Brave, the latest flick from Pixar, with my brother Steven, Dad, Alec (a cousin who is still quite young), and two Grandma's in tow.

There have been an incredible amount of anticipation for this film, and I've been doubly excited, and nervous, to see Brave.  For the first time Pixar is doing a Princess movie, taking place in Scotland, and it's also their first time piece.  I have a lot of Scottish ancestry, so that made it doubly exciting for me.

The problem is, going into the movie, much of the plot had already been spoiled by other professional movie reviewers, who know better, and Disney Store toys.  Out of all the toys Disney Store has produced, no other movie release had as much spoiler info then this one.  The reviews were mixed, having received a 75% fresh tomato rating, and that made me all the more nervous.  Cars 2 was a huge disappointment.  The visuals were stunning, and Cars, the first, despite popular opinion, is my favorite Pixar movie.  Brave had to bring it, and in a big way.

I loved the movie!  Sure, it's not perfect, but I'm fine with that.  Some complained the story was weak and not up to Pixar standers.  Personally I loved the story.  It does get a little weird in the middle (a plot point given away in a BIG WAY by the Disney Store toys.  Thank you Disney Store) but it's apart of the fantasy magic of the movie.  Every Princess movie must involve magic.  There's a law written somewhere declaring it.  But I loved the message.  For once a movie is all about honoring your elders, a theme I didn't anticipate, which is missing in a lot of big Hollywood movies, and loving your parents.  It's a movie that doesn't focus on a girl getting a guy, but on a Mother and Daughter working through their problems, albeit in an unconventional way.  Plus the lead character Merida and her younger brothers, three mischievous rascals (who stole a couple scenes) have both parents!  How many kid movies can you name where that happens?  Yes, there's Tangled and Mulan, but it doesn't happen as often as it should.  And I applaud Pixar for the strong family element this movie conveys.

 The music is excellent, with a Scottish flair, by composer Patrick Doyle (I've been a Huge fan of his since his work on Jane Austin's Sense and Sensibility).  The art and landscapes are breathtaking.

What's even more amazing is Merida's hair.  It's lively, displaying perfectly her inner spirit.  I read somewhere that Pixar worked three years developing two software programs for her hair, and it shows.  Each piece of her hair is animated and brought magnificently to life.  Throughout the movie I couldn't decide whose hair had more magic:  Rapunzel from Tangled or Merida's.

My only real complaint would be the portrayal of the men in the movie.  There was a whole lot of testosterone running about like crazy, and not a whole lot of intelligence.  And I wish the little brothers had more scenes, because they were a lot of fun.

At the end of the movie I was quite satisfied (BTW, stay till the end of the end credits, because there's a tag scene with the witch).  My Dad was a little disgruntled, because he couldn't decide what audience this movie was aiming for, which was the same problem Owls of Ga'Hoole had.  Alec, who's about seven, I don't really know his age, liked it, but couldn't say why.  The Grandma's enjoyed the movie.  But my brother Steven, who holds a Bachelors Degree in Digital Media: Gaming and Animation, said it's the best Pixar movie of them all, and that he loved the story and visuals.

The movie brought in 66 million this last weekend, which is a very strong opening.  I'm glad, because I want this movie to do well.

If you haven't seen it, I hope you have the chance.
BTW, the 3D was interesting, but it can easily be enjoyed in 2D.


Sunday, June 24, 2012

Saratoga Springs Fire

(I took this photo on Friday 6/22/2012)

Last Thursday night, on the way home after snatching a 1/2 off chocolate malt milkshake from Sonic, it was awesome BTW, I looked up at the mountain and saw a line a fire descending towards Saratoga Springs Utah.  I don't know how many fires there's been this season, but I wasn't surprised, and we both wondered if it was a controlled burn to help prevent future fires.  We were wrong. 

Last Friday the fire got within a quarter miles of some homes, which led to a 600 home evacuation, totaling around 2,300 people.  My Dad has an extra class Ham radio license and we were listening to the ARES       
(amateur radio emergency services, we have a very strong group here) communicate as they helped with the evacuation.  It was a bit eerie to hear.

I don't know the current state of the fire, but as of last night it was 30 percent contained, with hopes of it being fully contained by Tuesday.  The homes are now safe and the evacuees were allowed to return home.

Apparently the fire was started by gunshots, mostly by people target shooting.  Several years ago I went across the lake a few times for some target practice, and it's a really popular area for this activity.  But it makes me a little nervous with firework season coming up.  They went on sale yesterday, and all the booths are all over town.  Last year was the first year they allowed aerial fireworks, and on the 4th of July we got an epic 360 degree two hour show.  I hope all is well for the rest of the year.      

(This photo was taken on the same day as previous photo)

Have a great day!

Friday, June 22, 2012

365 Day Photo challenge: Days 88-90

(Day 88 of the 365 day photo challenge 3/30/2012)

I love this shot.  Honestly, I'm just obsessed with trees.  And it's funny, because of all these pictures I've been taking, I miss seeing the branches now that all the leaves have grown in.  Threes without leaves are more interesting.

(Bonus photo)

Though I've grown to love trees without leaves, covered in snow, and sprayed with Fall colors, nothing really beats blossoms.  It's my dream to one day go to Japan during Cherry Blossom season.  Watching all those NHK shows I tape, there have been so many episodes dedicated to the Sakura blossoms, and how gorgeous they are.  One day I'll make it.

(Day 89)

Mount  Timpanogos from the viewpoint of Saratoga Springs. It's just a part of the Wasatch front, but this mountain is larger then life, and the hiking is great too.  Mainly, I love the cave . . . hopefully I'll get to visit it this year.

(Bonus photo)

I was in Pier 1 with my family, having a good ol' girls day out.  They had a lovely assortment of "made in Italy" masks, and we had a lot of fun trying them on. 

(Day 90)

I love this guy.  My Mom and I found him at a Hallmark, and couldn't stop laughing.   When  you turn him on he walked around singing, but when you pick him up by the ears he screams "put me down!!" over and over again.  Silly, but it's great fun.

Have a great day!

Tuesday, June 19, 2012

Info on the next Cerulean Jade Cover: Payphone

A couple days ago Steven uploaded this picture, which he marvelously painted, on our Cerulean Jade facebook page.  It was a hint for our next cover, but, alas, no one guessed.

We're doing Payphone by Maroon 5, naturally the clean, non rap version.  It's a great, upbeat song.  And it's not a ballad!  We finished recording it this afternoon, and now Steven has the arduous task of mixing/mastering the song, which will be no simple task.  Unlike our last cover, All About Your Heart, we're doing a full arrangement, Cerulean Jade style.  

The painting above is based on RenĂ© Magritte's 1929 painting The Treachery of Images.  Most refer to it as Ceci n'est pas une Pipe, this is not a pipe.  It's simply a painting of a pipe with that statement below, indicating that it's not a pipe, but a picture of a pipe, therefore not a real pipe at all.  The painting isn't in the public domain, but you can view it here.  

We wanted, for fun, to play off of this famous painting, because the picture isn't a picture of a payphone, but a phone booth.  And really, it's not even a phone booth!  So we're just being geeky.  

The song should be out by Thursday, latest Friday, and if it all goes well it'll be out by tomorrow.  I can't wait for you guys to hear it!  

Have a great day,

Edit:  I'm sorry it's taking so long to get the song out.  My brother's working on it as I write this.  When it does go up on YouTube, I'll write a blog post explaining the problems we've had.

Wednesday, June 13, 2012

Orem Summerfest

Last weekend was Summerfest in Orem UT.  It's part carnival, art show, car show,
music performances, baby contest, 5k, parade, all leading up to
an epic firework show.     

This is one of my most favorite parts of Summer.  I look forward to it each year.  
Actually, the firework show is my favorites, even, 
in my crazy opinion, besting 4th of July's Stadium of Fire.
(It's free, and the parking isn't insane!)

There was a chance the firework show wasn't going to work out this year.
It was supper windy, crazy windy, and cold.  Thankfully my Dad was Volunteering 
with his Ham radio group, and my brother and I were getting up to date information
on what was happening with the show.  The winds were suppose to calm down around
ten, so they were going to shoot a couple off to see where they go.  Thankfully those
running the show decided to go for it.

(I think these look like palm trees).  The whole show was epic.  4 or 5 of the fireworks
exploded on the ground.  That was honestly really cool. 

My brother Steven.  We shared a funnel cake (my first, as sad
as that sounds) and it was hard not getting the 
powdered sugar everywhere.  (Did I mention
how windy it was?)  It was quite a mess!

Doing the good ol' "taking a picture of myself" pose.  
Proof of how cold I was!  You
wouldn't think it was June.

Have a great day!!

Monday, June 11, 2012

What's Talea in Talea Studios?

Before my brother Steven and I formed our musical duo Cerulean Jade, we created, with our family, Talea Studios.  We actually view Cerulean Jade being a part of Talea, and that through Talea we're going to have many projects, including an online graphic novel we hope to get up soon, among other things.

But where did Talea come from?  What is it?  Like Cerulean Jade, we had a very, very hard time picking a name to go by.  I can't even remember all our ideas, only that none of them felt right or fit us as a family.  Then, one day as I was casually surfing the net, I found myself on an online music dictionary going through terms (sounds boring, but it's a nice refresher).  Then, going through the T's, I found Talea.  My Mom was in the other room, and as I was bouncing the word around my mind, I asked her, "What do you think of Talea Studios?"  Immediately she got excited, and then asked what it was.

So what is it?  A varying rhythmic pattern, used in Medieval Motet music.  In Isorhythmic motets, the music is polyphonic (many voices singing, or playing, as the same time.  There's no harmony).  And the tenor line is always on the bottom, with many lines being sung on top.

The Talea is the repeating rhythm the tenor sings.  The example above is quite simple, but, especially with 14th century motets, the rhythms can be quite complex.  The tenor acts as a stabilizing base, providing an anchor for the song.  It's the music's foundation.  Even with chaos raging above, the tenor is strong, sure, and interesting.  It holds everything together.  We liked that . . . and the word looks cool too.

The song below is an example of Motet Isorhythm and Talea that I had to study in my Music Literature 301 class.

So there you have it, Talea!  We pronounce the word the same way the name Talia is pronounced. Ta-Leia (as in Princess Leia) is more accurate, but we got so used to saying the word the other way, it's now stuck.

The music geek in me had to share this last one!  There's no Talea, written in 1198, but it's so cool.  And I love how they show the original manuscript.  I can listen to this kind of music for hours.  

Have a great day!

Saturday, June 9, 2012

The Joy of Stop Motion Animation

(Public Domain image.  Source info found here.)

This post is more for fun.  For years I've been a huge fan of stop motion animation, first learning about it while watching those old claymation Christmas specials.  

It's super time consuming, but the end results are a lot of fun.  I've been collecting some of my favorite youtube videos.

This video is amazing!  I was blown away when I first saw it.  It was actually done as a commerical, advertizing this book store in Toronto called Type Books.  Maybe I love it so much because I collect books, but regardless, it's still brilliant.  

This is an official music video called In Your Arms by Kina Grannis.  It took them a year to plan and shoot, using a whole lot of jelly beans, first planning it using computers.  Then Kina would lay down, and each frame was a single photo.  The video is seamless, and the song is a lot of fun too.  There's a behind the scenes video that goes along with this that is interesting.

I stumbled across this video by Rymdreglage while searching for original 8-bit music videos (I'm obsessed with 8-bit music too; it's the 80's girl in me).  8-bit+legos+stop motion animation=automatic awesomeness. 

Another music video, only this is J-Pop.  This song, Makemagic, is addicting (at least I think so) but the video is cute.  I saw the behind the scenes for this video on digista, a NHK show, and was super impressed by the girls, all students, who put this together.  The song tells the story of Cinderella who, instead of falling in love with the prince, fell in love with the wizard who made her beautiful instead.  I love it!

My brother showed me this video, because it's one of his favorites.  For me it takes a little time to get into, but I love the note doodles and the way they planned this out.

Have a great day,

Wednesday, June 6, 2012

365 Day Photo challenge: Days 83-87

(Day 83 of the 365 day photo challenge 3/25/2012)

I took this picture right outside my Grandma's window.  The colors are quite nice, and even with the highway and other homes, you would think this was out in nature and not in the middle of suburbia.  This is one of my more favorite photos I've taken.

(Day 84 of the 365 day photo challenge)

The insanity that is UTA!!  It's crazy, and honestly inconvenient.  When I was at BYU and my car got taken away (towed, thanks to a silly High Schooler who just got her license and didn't know how to use it.  That's a story in itself.  At the accident all her father did was laugh, and laughed when he found out my car got wrecked.  And the girls friend was in my brothers class, and all those teenagers did was giggle about the accident, and bragged about it.  Rant over.)  Anyway, I had to take the bus to school, two routes, 17 miles, 1 1/2 hours if I didn't miss the second bus due to delays.  At least it was free, prices keep going up, and I don't see how families can afford UTA buses and TRAX.

The picture shows a route 862 sign covered and sprayed.  With all the construction going on around Utah Valley University, the routes have been changed and rearranged.        

(Day 85 of the 365 day photo challenge)

At my Grandma's home again.  My Mom got these for her back when I was growing up, and I was always amazed how this set represents my family, the ages, and order, of my siblings.  I'm the dancer, the boy with the hammer represents Micheal.  The boy praying is Steven.  And Robbie is the youngest.  It even looks like us. 

(Day 86 of the 365 day photo challenge)

Petting zoo!  Only, it's a petting zoo at a gas station in Scipio Utah.  They have quite a few animals, and I've always found it amusing that practically in the middle of nowhere there's this tiny little zoo.  

(Day 87 of the 365 day photo challenge)

I love this!  It was in a gift card my Grandma sent to her sister.  It's so cute, and sometimes I feel like this.  How can you not smile?

Have a great day! 

Tuesday, June 5, 2012

First Position: Movie Review

Rating: 5 out of 5 stars

"First Position" is a documentary about six extraordinary young ballet dancers, ages nine to nineteen, who are all competing in the Youth America Grand Prix.  It's one of the most prestigious ballet competitions in the world.  About 5000 audition each year to become one of a couple hundred to perform in New York.  For the younger dancers it's a chance to perfect their art amongst fellow prodigies, for the older it's a chance to earn greatly needed scholarships and professional dance contracts.

The movie is superb.  Extraordinary.  Each of the kids profiled are inspiring.  I spent every moment in awe of their talent and hard work, and a career in ballet is not for the faint of heart.  Every one of the kids mentioned how they are always in pain, but it doesn't matter, dance is their passion.  And you see it in their faces as they dance: Pure joy and radiance.

I love dance shows, particularly "So You Think You Can Dance," but nothing comes close to the excellence I saw last weekend when I watched "First Position."  The documentary made "Dance Moms" look pathetic.

I would see this again in a heartbeat, and I hope it doesn't take too long to come to blu-ray/DVD.     
Get out and Dance,

Saturday, June 2, 2012

365 Day Photo challenge: Days 78-82

(Day 78 of the 365 day photo challenge 3/15/2012)

My favorite theater!  Mainly I love this place because I love going to the movies, and only having to pay around a dollar makes it possible.  And they have 3D screens, which runs a little over $3.  Of course this day I was going to see Chipmunks 3.  I love the Chipmunks!  They bring back fond childhood memories.

(Day 79 of the 365 day photo challenge)

Skyrim!  This banner display was on Utah Valley University's campus.  I had to take this picture because my Dad was obsessed with this game, and it's so boring to watch.  I'm sure it's great, but as someone watching instead of playing, it seems the only thing the main character can do is spend hours running in the countryside from village to village.  (I know there's more then that going on . . . but still).

(Day 80 of the 365 day photo challenge)

Just a few weeks before this photo gas prices were around $3.  It seems prices have now stabilized, but I think they're still too high, and don't have to be.  It's strange to think, back in High School, I saw gas prices in Los Angeles at $0.99.   

(Day 81 of the 365 day photo challenge)

For our business my Mom makes jewelry, and this is where we get a lot of the beads.  We mainly focus on pewter, as it's an amazing metal to work with (nice weight, doesn't tarnish or smell weird) and at the convention its pretty affordable.  I love looking at all the natural, precious stones. 

(Day 82 of the 365 day photo challenge)

I don't know why I'm amused by this, but I am.  What I want to know is where all those giant stickers came from.  There's a couple more boxes like this around town.

I'm so far behind in posting these!  At least a good two months and a half.  I'm still taking pictures everyday, and it's getting to be a real challenge, mainly when I work at home that day and can't go out.  But it is an interesting challenge finding new ways to be creative.

Have a great day!