Sunday, March 31, 2013

The True King

(Frank Dicksee "The Two Crowns", {PD-US})

A poster of this painting hangs on the wall of our living room, right above the piano.  I've spent a great deal of time looking at it, and I didn't immediately notice the figure of Christ on the right, hanging on the cross with a crown of thorns.  This painting, depicting two princess in different states, suddenly explodes with meaning.  One prince is adorned, favored, celebrated after his gallant conquest, the other prince hangs, alone and ignored, while the other prince sees him.  The prince on the white horse, though showered with attention, looks to the true prince.  
The true Savior.

At least that's how I've always seen this painting.  I don't know Frank Dicksee's true intention, but it doesn't matter to me.  Whenever I see this painting I pause and think, remembering that no matter what's happening to me, no matter what's going on in my life, I need to pause and reflect on our Savoir, our Lord Redeemer, and remember the great gift of the Atonement.

Happy Easter.  What a beautiful day this is.

Saturday, March 30, 2013

Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Cerulean Jade Update March 27, 2013

We're finally able to announce when the music video, Done With Gravity, is being released on Youtube:  April 2, 2013, which is this Tuesday!

I'm so happy, and relieved, by this.  And so thrilled to be sharing this video with you guys very, very soon!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

A Star Wars Family is a Happy Family

I saw this last week and was lucky enough to take a picture.  Isn't it awesome?!!  Family car stickers Star Wars style.  And I love the pets, too: Imperial At-At Walker and . . . I guess I'm not geek enough to figure out the last one.  Jawa Sandcrawler?  Nope, the shape's all wrong.  Hate feeling my geekness deflate.  Still really cool.

Sunday, March 24, 2013

Spring Fever

("Springtime Bliss" by my Mom Robin Stufflebeam.  You can buy it on Etsy)

"It's spring fever.  That is what the name of it is.  And when you've got it, you want - oh, you don't quite know what it is you do want, but it just fairly makes your heart ache, you want it so!"  ~ Mark Twain

I've got spring fever something bad!  The weather has been teasing us something fierce.  It's got quite the sense of humor.  

A couple weeks ago the temperature and air felt so amazing.  Though we're surrounded by beautiful mountains, the weather felt like the beach.  Cool, calm, with a fresh crisp and soft bursts of air.  My favorite.  Then this last week we were attacked by snow and cold temperatures.  Yesterday I visited a freezing Park City and drove through a snow storm in Provo Canyon.  Granted it's still March, and it can snow as late as June, that's happened, but just a hint of warmth and being able to walk around outside without a jacket has got me a bit stir crazy!

A part of this may be the wicked Winter we've just had.  Early last December I heard a news report saying that we were going to have another mild winter.  I was distressed because I wanted to build snowmen this year.  I even wrote on twitter Dec. 4, 2012, "Another mild winter = not being able to recreate Calvin and Hobbes snowmen scenes."  Ha!  Didn't happen.

January was nothing but constant snow, a bought of freezing rain, and flu.  I got sick 3 times that month, fighting the flu, fevers, and ear aches.  And it seemed that bug just kept getting passed around.  Get sick, get another person sick, get well, then get sick again.

Needless to say I want it to warm up so I can frolic outside, bike, and go on hikes!  Then there are a whole bunch of activities, parades, and cultural festivities.  This weekend is the Holi Festival of Colors at the Krishna Temple in Spanish Fork Utah.

Bring on the Sunshine and Colors of Spring! 

Saturday, March 23, 2013

Oz in 3D and Movies in general

I'm not re-reviewing Oz!  I did that ten days ago.  Last week I finally saw Oz in 3D on the Imax big screen.  See, when I originally reviewed the movie I gave it a 3.75 out of 5 stars, and since then there's been a bit of contention.  My Mom still insists that I was being too harsh with that scoring. 

When the movie was over I asked the rest of my family what they thought of it.  "I'd give it no less then a 4," my Dad said, and my Mom instently exclaimed, "See! It's not less then a 4!  Why did you rate it so low?"  Then my two brothers both stated how they really liked it, giving various reasons.

This debate continued as we walked to the car and then all the way home.

"I gave it a 3.75!  A 3.75!  That's 4 minus .25!  It's not that big of a deal!  Point-Two-Five!"

"You should just say," Steven said, completely amused, "That the movie is a 3.995."


"I still don't think you should give it less then a 4," my Mom returned.

Reviewing movies is a family sport.

Friday, March 22, 2013

Postcards for the World

I've been in Southern Utah these last couple days on family business.

No matter where I visit I like to seek out postcards and buy a few.  That's thanks to, my happy postcard addiction where I send postcards around the World and receive postcards in return.  When I first found out about the program I was nervous, but it's so much fun!  I've received over 70 postcards from over 20 different Countries.  But it's also expensive!  

I'm always on the lookout for a good deal.
So a couple days ago I wandered into a Hallmark store at the Mall.  The owner wanted to get rid of their postcard stock, so she was selling the postcards at the cost of 20 for a dollar!  I couldn't believe it and told the employee that there had to be a mistake.  There wasn't.  A couple days later and I'm the owner of 220 postcards!

Now I just need to buy stamps . . .

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Path to Success

I was going through the August 2012 issue of ViVi, a Japanese fashion magazine my sister-in-law got me the other day. 

In the magazine was an article about a singing competition.  I don't read Japanese, I just love their magazines, and they're picture heavy so it's easy to follow along.  (American fashion magazines are inferior, and I subscribe to both Vogue and Marie Claire.)

Anyway, I noticed on one of the gals a shirt with the quote, "Failure is a Part to Success." There's some Engrish going on here, I would word it "Failure is a Path to Success" or "Failure is a Part of Success," but I love this.  There is no success without failure, and success wouldn't mean anything without it.

Tuesday, March 19, 2013

BYU Beyond Stone-Cold Sober

(A picture of a Picture, but this is me as a BYU graduate)

Everyone knows BYU (Brigham Young University) always gets the top spot as the Stone-Cold Sober school in the Nation.  You can thank our strict honor code for that, but College Magazine now has BYU under two new categories, and it actually gave me quite a laugh, and cringe a little at the same time.  It's true though, even if I fall out of one of the categories.

BYU is ranked #2 as the Best Place to Find a Husband.  I guess it's a kind of merit that I managed to graduate single?  That I put studies and long hours in the Library over . . . yeah.  I tranfered into the school at 21, when most guys get home from their missions.  Maybe I was in the wrong program.  I probably would have met more guys if I spent more time around the computer science building or business school . . . why didn't I do that?  

In the Music Program all the guys that I met were married, and those that weren't married, two guys (I can only remember two guys who were single) were too busy dating 19 year-old's.  I'm not bitter.  And when I transferred I had finished all my general education classes, save a couple.  Nah, I should have spent more time with the French Club.  I actually went to a few meetings.  Could have met a cute guy who spoke French!  Sexy! 

West Point, the U.S. Military Academy, beat us out at #1.  Interesting.  Who doesn't like a man in uniform?  Makes me think of Pride and Prejudice. 

and BYU ranked #4 as most stressful school.  This I believe!!!!  I've attended four colleges: Porterville College, College of the Sequoias, Utah Valley State College (now Utah Valley University), and Brigham Young University.  So I can say I've experienced a bit of an upper education spectrum.  PC, COS, and UVSC were easy fits for me.  I studied hard, the classes were tough, but I was relaxed.  There was an ease in the air.
Then I transferred to BYU.  There is stress in the air!  It's true, and you can feel it.  All the students are over achievers with high morals, and freak outs come often.  I'll never forget the time, hanging out with other music students in the HFAC, when one of the voice majors came over eating an ice-cream sundae.  She was going at it, and all our eyes bulged.  She then went on to explain that she just failed a test and needed some solace.  We all had a good laugh then, and suddenly I realized I needed ice-cream too.
And we all have that one moment where we crack.  That time came my second year there.  Everyone knows how stressful finals week is.  This one week trumped even that!  5 tests in 4 days amongst a full class schedule, packed with homework, quizzes, and essays.  I didn't think I would survive!  I almost didn't.
The testing center is a monstrous room packed with desks going in straight lines and then around the perimeter.  I would like to know the dimensions of that room; I only know I felt overwhelmed each time I entered.  Of course that could be because of the test I was about to take.
The testing center is upstairs, and when coming out of the room there is a smaller room where you give your test to someone to scan.  By the time you're down the stairs there's a set of computer screens, and on it you search for your student number to read the score.  This was at the end of the week, having taken other tests I failed.  Then I saw my score: 55%.  I lost it!  On the spot I just started laughing!  And I kept laughing as I walked out of the door, sunset, walking the long trek to my car.  Laughing is good for the soul.
MIT ranked #3 and Harvard was #5.  Sandwiched between MIT and Harvard!!!   

Sunday, March 17, 2013

At the End of a Rainbow

I can honestly say I've been at the end of a rainbow.  On Facebook, August 9, 2010, I wrote: A few days ago on the way home from SLC (Salt Lake City) I suddenly found myself at the end of a Rainbow (it was touching the white of my car and extended to the mountain), and no, I didn't find a pot of Gold.  Childhood myth debunked."

I didn't find any skittles either.

Somewhere I once read that it's impossible to be at the end of a rainbow, something to do with light physics. 

It was lightly raining coming home in the passenger seat that day; the sun was bright and clear.  My Mom was driving, and we first noticed a vivid rainbow light up at the base of the mountain, colors sharp.  It was hard not to stare. 

We had just rounded the the Point of the Mountain, as we locals call it (the point where I-15 bends around the mountain, separating Salt Lake Valley from Utah Valley), around the Lehi area when we first noticed the rainbow.  A couple miles later the rainbow contined to grow, moving with us, still touching the mountain, and then all of a sudden the miraculous happened.  The hood of our white car was shining with a beautiful mix of colors.  My Mom and I were in shock.  From our car to the mountain there was a perfect, full arch rainbow.

It's one of those memories I will never forget.  As a child my family would hop in the car during a rainstorm, driving around orange fields in Central California.  All that space, hours of driving, and we could never find ourselves at the end of the rainbow.  Then in August, 2010, the Rainbow came to us without even trying.  Maybe that's why there was no Gold.

Happy St. Patrick's Day!  May you find yourself at the end of a  Rainbow :0)

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Cerulean Jade Update: March 14, 2013

 We've ran into some issues with the "Done With Gravity" music video, in terms of the effects in the scenes, and my relationship to them.  We wanted to zoom in and circle around the ship, only thing is we never video taped myself performing at those angles.  Steven's solution?  3D model!  So Steven made a 3D model of me to put in the ship.  Really cool :0)

 As Steven and Robbie finish scenes, they take the story board they did a video too, and import the finished scene into the mix of unfinished segments.  Watching where it's at now is very interesting; fully fleshed movement mixed with stagnant simple line drawings.  The finished aspects of the video are amazing!  Far better then I even imagined.  And the world Steven modeled is So Cool!  We've got to use it again in another project.

 Robbie working on some scenes.

 My brothers will be the true stars when the video is finished.  What they're putting together is amazing.

Wednesday, March 13, 2013

Oz the Great and Powerful: Movie Review

"Tell me something about yourself and the country you came from," said the Scarecrow, when she had finished her dinner.  So she told him all about Kansas, and how gray everything was there, and how the cyclone had carried her to this queer Land of Oz.

The Scarecrow listened carefully, and said, "I cannot understand why you should wish to leave this beautiful country and go back to the dry, gray place you call Kansas."

"That is because you have no brains" answered the girl.  "No matter how dreary and gray our homes are, we people of flesh and blood would rather live there than in any other country, be it ever so beautiful.  There is no place like home." ~ The Wonderful Wizard of Oz

Rating: 3.75 stars out of 5

The new Oz movie, Oz the Great and Powerful, is a prequel to Baum's 14 book Oz series in the same way Wicked the Musical is.  Instead of Dorothy Gale finding her way to Oz and the Yellow Brick Road, it's the Wizard himself.  This is his origin story (because origin stories are currently all the rage in Hollywood).

We start in Kansas (because Kansas and Tokyo Tower have something in common: they're portals to magical worlds), and the city is a mixture of gray.  Like the 1939 Wizard of Oz movie we all grew up loving, or, for some sad blokes, grew up hating, the first act of the movie is in black and white.  Back when I was a kid I thought it was a brilliant strategy for the film to take advantage of introducing Technicolor in the Oz world, and it was brilliant, but Frank Baum, the original Oz author, actually created Kansas to be that dreadful.  It's gray.  Gray and boring, and the opening circus scene in the new Oz movie plays out like an old serial melodrama.  Everything feels staged, and perhaps it is, because the wizard, , lives on a stage and craves the attention of an audience.      

We're his audience, watching his slimy ways and crooked character, wondering when we can finally be free of the doldrums.  But this is his set up, and like the Wizard of Oz movie--this wasn't hinted in the books--some of the characters in the first act find their way figuratively into Oz.  We must pay attention.

Finally we're whisked away, floating on clouds, falling into a lake.  The colors are vibrant.  The scenery creative.  The animals feel out of place in a Who Framed Roger Rabbit sort of way.  Immediately our antihero meets a beautiful girl (), the witch Theadora, who is one of three witches in Oz.

Along with the three witches, Theadora, her sister Evanora (), and Glinda (), we are introduced to two more characters: The Flying Monkey, voiced by , and the China Girl, voiced by .  I thought I would be annoyed by both characters respectively, but I ended up being charmed by both.  Quickly I started feeling sorry for Finley, the monkey, and I loved the spunk of the China Girl.

The world of Oz is really quite beautiful.  A visual splendor of wonder.  I didn't see it in 3D, I'll be doing that soon, but Cinema Blend gave the 3D aspect of the movie a perfect 35 out of 35, and I've never seen them give a perfect score before.  In that regards I am looking forward to seeing the movie again, and I'm sure the amazing 3D gives modern audiences the same feeling technicolor gave the 1939 audience.

Though there were aspects of the movie that bugged me (I don't care for the portrayal of the Wicked Witch of the West, and I wish Edison's technology was emphasized in the first act), this movie still has heart, and I was entertained.  Like Narnia, Wonderland, and Neverland, Oz is in my dreams, and seeing it on the big screen, albeit in 2D, was still a delight.

I did enjoy watching the Wizard's origin story, learning how he became the man behind the curtain.  The ideas presented are both fitting and interesting.  But if I had to choose which prequel I prefer, I'm choosing Wicked.

I'm mixed with how I feel about Oz the Great and Powerful!  I had quite the debate with my Mom over what I'd rate the movie, and that I didn't feel it deserved higher then a 3.75, in which my Mom gushed over it and said that the movie deserved no less then a 4.  I thought about it, did the math (3.75 = 75% a C.  4 = 80% a B-).  That did sound pretty harsh, but still, after several nights sleeping on it, I'm sticking with 3.75.  Even with the lower rating, it's still a great family movie that I recommend.

MPAA: Rated PG for sequences of action and scary images, and brief mild language.

Tuesday, March 12, 2013

Cravings Cupcakes won Cupcake Wars!

 Cravings: Alisha's Cupcakes in Pleasant Grove Utah won Cupcake Wars last Sunday!  I wrote about them a few weeks ago when I first discovered the little shop with my family, back when I realized that Cravings is, hands down, the best cupcake place I've ever been to, and I've been to a few.  I've got a sweet tooth to appease after all.

This last Sunday Alisha, with her twin sister--owner of Cravings Bistro in American Fork--were both on a redemption episode of Cupcake Wars.  I've been a fan of Cupcake Wars since the first season, and it was fun watching the show having actually tasted one of the contestants cupcakes.  When watching food shows it's hard imagining how the food tastes, but I knew, from experience, that if Alisha made her "Better than What" cupcake (dazzling in chocolate, caramel, and toffee), that there was no way she could lose.

Sure enough, when Alisha made it to the second round and started making three additional cupcakes, I recognized the "Better than What" cupcake immediately.  It was a home run at that point!  (What can I say, it's awesome.)    

 This is the display the cupcakes sat on, promoting the new American Rejects album Kids in the Street.

 Yesterday my Mom and I went to Cravings to buy some cupcakes.  They were selling the four winning cupcakes in a box set: Better than What, Carrot with Candied Pecans, Fruit Pizza, and the Pop Rock cupcake with Roquefort blue cheese.

I hate blue cheese, but the Pop Rock cupcake was super good!

We took the cupcakes home and split each one five ways so we could all have a taste.

 The super cute shop!  I really love the feel of the place.

 I met Alisha, and she was super nice :0)

Check it out!  Cravings, Alisha's Cupcakes: 93 South Main Street Suit C, Pleasant Grove, UT 

And check out her Sisters shop, Cravings Bistro: 63 East Main Street, American Fork, UT

Thursday, March 7, 2013

Dungeons, Dragons, And the Bowels of El Diablo

Really, really silly in an awesome way, but I had to share this.

It was during my Senior year of High School when I first found out about Dungeons and Dragons, and thus decided that it's best to be a wood elf, bard, or both at the same time.  I've only participated in a few games, but each time was memorable, and the stories ridiculously fun.

And it was around that time when I first heard the Dungeons and Dragons skit by Dead Alewives.  It's epic, hilarious, and totally how D & D games typically go.

My brother Michael actually memorized the entire thing and would reenact it when prompted, or not prompted. Each time the rest of us listening would laugh.  This skit never gets old!

The above clip is 8-bit theater set to the soundtrack of the skit.  My brother Robbie showed it to me the other night, and I found myself laughing all over again.  Like I said before, it never gets old.  Or I'm just easily amused, which is also true.

I'm attacking the Darkness!!!


Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Beauty and the Beast Search for a New Home

The above clip tickled my fancy last night when I found it on Youtube.  Beauty and the Beast on HGTV's House Hunters International.  It was created to promote the New Fantasyland at Walt Disney World.  

My Mom and I love House Hunters International!  It's our current obsession.  The show fills in the gap that was left when BBC's Changing Rooms went off the air. (For the record, TLC's Trading Spaces is an American spin off from Changing Rooms, and Changing Rooms was always far superior.  My Mom and I easily watched reruns, sometimes up to four viewings of the same episode, and never got tired of it.  I still have withdrawals!  And I would easily buy all 130+ episodes on DVD if I could.  The show was just awesome with great cast chemistry.)

I would love to visit Walt Disney World and see the New Fantasyland.  Honestly, I would just love to go to Disney World period.

Disneyland is getting a Fantasyland extension as well, though not nearly as large or involved as Disney World.  I guess they've started doing media previews and the like, because the Inside the Magic blog has a bunch of behind the scenes photos of the new Fantasy Faire.  I'm just thrilled to see there's a theater with shows!  I miss the shows they used to do in the Fantasyland theater back about 10 years ago, before the soon to be old Fantasy Faire invaded.  The new Fantasy Faire officially
opens March 12, 2013.

I've got to stop.  I'm starting to get some serious Disneyland withdrawals.   

Tuesday, March 5, 2013

My Most Favorite Sesame Street Songs of All Time

"I Don't Want to Live on the Moon" is my absolute favorite Sesame Street song.  It's simple, and I love the message behind it.  Though, I really would like to live on the moon.  That would be pretty epic.

And the runner up song is:

"The Word is No."  I don't know why, but I was obsessed with this song back in elementry.  It was my favorite one to sing.  So 80's!!  Though, looking back on it, the song is kinda depressing.  Still Vintage Sesame Street!

My runner, runner up song is another one from Ernie, "Dance Myself to Sleep." I couldn't find a good video of it. This is the best I could do.  The Sesame Street channel should upload it.

Monday, March 4, 2013

Cerulean Jade Update: March 4, 2013

The filming portion of the music video, Done With Gravity, is now officially finished!  I was quite nervous about it, but it all went nicely.  I didn't even get the outfit until last weekend, when we finished shooting the video.  Since there is a space theme/futuristic aspect to the world we've created, we didn't want anything too modern, and yet too alien, for the shoot.  Luckily the top I found we got at Papaya for a super reasonable price; that was the first place we looked, and knew we couldn't find anything better.  The earrings, which my Aunt Tam found in the same store, was only $2 and matched perfectly.  Super, super lucky.

 Our fearless leader!  Robbie the director after the shoot.

All we got left are a couple more special effect scenes and getting the song polished in the mastering stage.  So close!