Tuesday, December 31, 2013

Let's See How Far We've Come 2013: The Year in Review

I did this last year, and I want to do it again before the javascript powering the bottom right copyright thing switches over to 2014 (I figured out how to do that this year, so that's something).  Nevertheless, I want to review the year, because a lot happened.

I didn't write a Christmas Letter this year, which I regret, but honestly I ran out of time. However, the line I borrowed last year from last year's letter holds true this year yet again:
This year was a challenge to see how full a schedule could be, and how much we could change.
January brought a bunch of posts inspired by song lyrics. It also brought Rick Sebak following me in Twitter, and seeing The Chief at the O'Reilly. Yes, I am a Pittsburgh nerd.

February brought the first 2013 Carnegie Elementary Talent Show, as well as TEDxGrandviewAve. It also brought the end to one of my Pittsburgh idols, Peter McKay,'s column in the Post-Gazette. Since then, I've attempted to emulate his style in a combination with Tom Bodett's.

March brought on some sort of philosophical nonsense I can't exactly justify. I was in the midst of that pre-musical funk mixed with a workload I never fully caught up with.

April brought 9 to 5, my second stage production. I also got my driving permit. To those asking me why I didn't try out for 2014's musical, click here.

May brought the second ReimagiNATION, and the goats incident.

June brought liberation from my sophomore year. It also brought the Three Rivers Arts Festival and yet another adventure into the city. (To only some people this will make sense:) we lost Millie, and Dakota. I got kicked out of the high school for the first time, and I went to a drive-in theater.

July brought Fourth of July up at Camp, and I celebrated 4 years of posting here. July also brought Bishop Daniel to Slickville and my father to the rank of Very Reverend. I was published by the UOW, and Signal Item.

August introduced me to the fantastic Spring Standards, and yet another subtle reminder of how much I love photography. It also brought yet another journey to the mythical land of Delmarva (again, it's NOT REAL!). It also brought with it the adventure that was the Baltimore Fender Bender and the start of my Junior Year.

September brought the start to my second year as announcer for the Carlynton Marching Band. It also brought me auditioning for Arsenic and Old Lace, an audition which led to a callback which led to me playing Teddy. It brought the second Powder Puff Game and it brought, wait for it.... wait for it.... THE GIANT RUBBER DUCK!!!!
His All-Yellowness
October brought the end to the Pirates's first winning season in TWENTY YEARS! *party popper* as well as a playoff game *noisemaker* all in view of the duck *fireworks*. It also brought Homecoming, and my first visit to Point Park University.

November brought the first set build I have ever attended, and the busiest month I can remember in a while that I couldn't exactly describe. I helped with the Carnegie Talent Show (yes again, twice in one year, yay!). We brought Arsenic to the elementary schools, and I was interviewed in the Signal Item.

December brought Arsenic and Old Lace. It brought near-end (it still functions, just not very well) of my $5 Yard Sale Camera, and an adventure into the city. It brought me the next chapter of my photography, I presume, with the acquisition of a DLSR camera as well as the realization that 2013 was one fantastic year.

All of the tickets from events I attended in 2013 - minus Arsenic, the Choral/Band Concerts at both CHS and the one at Bethel Park. Note the Bowling Wristbands and Wedding Singer Ticket.

I signed off last year with the proclamation: "I plan on writing by the way until at least 2015. From there only time will tell, but that seems to me to be a tad far off." One year from now, this year-in-review post will be halfway through my senior year of high school. It will be the last review before 2015, you know, the year I graduate and the year this blog is all about: my road to 2015.

To everyone that keeps up with this; reads this blog, thank you. During this same review on 31 December 2012 I said I had nearly 7500 pageviews, with like 100something posts. As of this post, this is post 212, with 12,500something pageviews. That's 5,000 views in one year. I cannot fathom that and have nothing to say but thanks.

Friday, December 27, 2013

It's Halftime America.

I went through five iterations of title on this, but because of my insistence on writing the title first, I just went with the famous Clint Eastwood commercial quote because I am going to a New Years Party with hosted by a guy who portrayed Clint Eastwood in the Match Game that benefited Arsenic. Lost? Good.

So this is my first full week off of school since summer break. It's a strangely peaceful feeling not having to accomplish some nonsensical deadline. It's during these times that I think the most, it's an isolation that comes as both a blessing and a curse. This week, it was a blessing.

Monday I spent decorating my house because up until that point I hadn't had the time to do so. It took 4 hours, and I probably shocked myself twice (but I can't remember) but it was totally worth it to see my parents' faces when it was all lit up.

Tuesday I spent doing, well, nothing really. Tuesday night I went to the church where we have scout meetings for a Lutheran Christmas Eve service. The front of the evening's bulletin read simply "All is calm, all is bright". And it was. There are certain things that I cannot put into words well, and one of those is the feeling of absolute peace. Not like a 'home' sort of feeling, but of resolution or at least reassurance. I only half payed attention to the service and more or less payed attention to the moment, to the experience of appearing and existing.

Wednesday was Christmas. My family would kill me if I focused on the sippy bird I received, but I would be stupid if I omitted it, because it's pretty awesome. I received from my family this year a Nikon DLSR D90 camera. In English, until this point I've been relying on the $5 Kodak point-and-shoot that my brother acquired for me at a yard sale. My photography has been luck-of-the-draw work. I'd shoot 200 pictures and get 30 that were in focus.

DSLRs are the step up from point-and-shoots. There is so much more control with these things, and on the first day of having this camera, I shot this lovely picture: http://www.flickr.com/photos/alexanderpopichak/11557347076/. Essentially, it's freaking amazing at it's job. My family has been looking at some of the things I've been doing with the little Kodak, and decided I need to look into this more professionally.

To which I have a bit of a confession: I've been holding off on pursuing photography as something I can legitimately work with because I didn't think I had the camera worth it. Now I do. I have so much learning to do, but I want to take this further. If what they're saying is true and I have an eye for this, who knows what'll happen.

This isn't an answer (just read last week's post: it sums up my thought process at this point pretty well... I'm still lost, I think I may have found some breadcrumbs though...), it's a way to try something new; something that may lead to something else.

N.B.: All thanks go to My Parents, Paternal Grandmother, my aunt Marie and uncle George (yep, that Aunt Marie and Uncle George), the Spring Standards, the people that work with my parents, and Rick Dayton, who without his help this would have never happened.

Sunday, December 22, 2013

To Just Stop In One Place

It seems all too often the focus of everyone's life is on moving. I don't mean just literal moving; it seems so many people, me included, feel unsettled or unsatisfied with where they are. For the first part of this I want to focus on moving, and the second part why moving.

This past week was insane: Sunday I was at a different church than my own (in Carnegie), Monday brought me filling in to film a girls varsity basketball game (GO COOOGURRRS!), Tuesday a high school band concert where I ran both lights and sound simultaneously (I shouldn't be allowed to touch audio), Wednesday brought my friend's concert at another school, Thursday brought the elementary band concert where I played stage manger, and Friday, Saturday, and today I was in Petrolia with my maternal grandparents and that section of my family.

In other words, for the past week I have been somewhat of a nomad. I throw myself this way and that, and I know that at least someone somewhere reading this does the same. Around the holidays it seems that the emphasis is on being home, and I can appreciate that because as of late I have been forcing myself out of my own home for [insert organization/obligation here].

With the workload I was given from school (aaah, all the things were due Friday), I became quite stressed; to the point where some of the teachers and my peers were concerned. I have this fifth period study hall that I always spend in the library. It all started because I procrastinate and the library has computers to write things in. It's also a quiet place to contemplate things, or to talk to a teacher about things.

Lately these talks have become philosophical - about figuring out where I'm going, what I want, feeling inadequate, those sorts of things. And I've realized this much: the reason I do so much is not because I want the stress or the full schedule, but rather because I like doing things. I was roped into the tech thing because I like it; it's a skill that's good to have (ha!) and it's fun to do.

Because, as I also learned this week: you don't ever know what you truly want. If you're lucky you know where you are. I keep moving and keep doing things because I don't know what I'm doing, where I'm going, and I want to cast out a wide enough net to figure out where that place I want to be is.

Ultimately, as goes the overused cliche, it's not about where you end up (because you can't see where that actually is) but rather how roundabout a way it takes for you to get there.

To all of you who celebrate this week: Merry Christmas. To those of you who don't: Happy Boxing Day.

Saturday, December 14, 2013

Babbel.

I honestly don't know where to start. Sunday night we took down the set to Arsenic and Old Lace, a set which I had partially helped build, and the next week was weakly powered by lack of sleep and a hope to get to Christmas break.

Thursday marked the first time in seven years that I missed a Christmas choral concert. I don't know if I ranted about the schedule debacle that was, but bottom line I wasn't able to schedule guy's ensemble - the guys-only audition-only group we have at CHS. So what did I do? I ran lights.

It's very strange to be on that side of a concert, but at the same time I have gained some perspective on it all. This time that I have being on stage, with unlimited resources and the ability to hop from tech to performer is very finite. I don't mean that in a doom-and-gloom 'everything ends' way but rather simply an "I appreciate that I have this" sort of way. Bottom line, it was weird.

Moving on, last night I adventured avec ma famille downtown to see the city all lit up. I'm very fortunate to live near Pittsburgh to the point where it's only about a 20 minute drive in. We spent the majority of the time at Market Square which had been transformed into a "holiday marketplace" with vendors from all over the place. I, of course, took my little $5 camera down to take pictures. Unfortunately, it doesn't do too well with dim-lit spaces, but I was still able to get some great pictures, including this one from PPG Place:
That tree in the window isn't in PPG place -  it's a reflection from the ice rink
More to come on my flickr page, but nevertheless Pittsburgh is a very photogenic city. Unfortunately, cityscape and the cold were not a good combination for my little camera. The little metal ring on the end labeled "IMAGE STABILIZER" kept falling off, and I think I snapped the little rubber eyepiece in the cold. I am way more disturbed by this than I should be, considering it's six years old, but I've taken it on as my own. 

Again, my apologies for the lack of order here, but I'm working on it. And again, to anyone that made it out to see Arsenic, Thanks. You have no idea how amazing an experience you were a part of. 

Saturday, December 7, 2013

“The best things in life aren't things.” - Art Buchwald

On Opening Night - 6 December 2013

Interesting words, and when you consider that you work on a production for months in front of an empty auditorium, it's quite strange to have it suddenly filled with people. To hear people laugh when you say the most ridiculous lines ("General Goethals was very pleased, he says the canal is just the right size! ... Dear me, this'll be a shock to the general!?") is a strange experience.

I've never had a speaking role in any production, so I've been more than able to slip into the background and ignore it all, but it's so different to be a leader with it.

Take, for example, at the beginning of the second act. I get all up in Clay Bodnar (in this production he's Johnathan Brewster). I've known him for years, and have worked with him on so many projects, which should make it easy for us to fight on stage. But it is so hard with his ridiculous makeup and my ridiculous lines and glued on mustache! I sort of understand now how hard it must be for the people on Saturday Night Live to not break character... At the same time, I wouldn't trade it for the world.

This is such a great cast to be a part of, and come time for our bows at the end of the production when we all stand together, hand in hand before whoever shows up, we truly are a family; and truly a great group of friends. I'm writing this to remind myself in the future what it felt like - it was strange, but so much fun.

Thanks to everyone that came last night, to everyone who will be there in roughly four hours for show two, and everyone that will be there tomorrow. And a huge thanks goes to everyone that has helped put this together from Ms. Longo (director) to Al (sound guy) to everyone who has put up with my bugle insanity and especially to my Brewster family:

Cast of Arsenic and Old Lace

Saturday, November 30, 2013

Words on a Webpage

Okay, so tomorrow starts tech week. I planned on talking Friday about something wonderful - I think it was about giving thanks or how history skewed the first Thanksgiving, but for some odd reason I didn't. I'm not sure why.

Anyway, tech week is a time-intensive adventure... but a necessary one. Basically it takes blocking and adds tech - lights, sound, props, bugles, you know the whole nine yards. It's crazy, and I'm excited to be a part of it with a speaking role. It's strange, but cool...

My normal post gets started around 7PM on Friday nights and it takes me a little while to craft it (I check email, listen to music, then forget I started writing something), so it doesn't get posted until like 10. Anyway, at 7PM this coming Friday I'll be backstage getting ready for the premier of Arsenic. So instead of waiting for a blog post you should be there to join us - tickets are only $7 for adults, $5 for students/seniors.

My mind is now swiss cheese, hopefully a coherent post to come eventually... sorry for the anticlimactic ending there.

Thursday, November 21, 2013

To the Ends of the Earth Would You Follow Me?

Those are lyrics to a song called "Ends of the Earth" by a group called Lord Huron. If you listen to it and it sounds familiar, it's in some sort of Zales commercial with balloons...

We recently blocked the last bit of Arsenic and Old Lace. To those unfamiliar with theatre terminology, 'blocking' is the process of putting the lines in the script to actual motions and things on stage. It's an interesting process, albeit a sometimes tedious one. Nevertheless, it's all set.

Also that day I (along with most of the cast) was interviewed by Megan Guza of the Signal Item (Trib Total Media). It's very strange to be interviewed, not necessarily the whole having-a-conversation-with-someone-and-them-writing-it-down thing but the whole knowing-this-may-go-to-print thing. I'm perfectly comfortable with it all (I write a blog after all and have conducted interviews through WYEP a few times) it's just bizarre being on the other side.

Today I read that interview in the Signal Item... and it's so strange realizing that something you said was notable enough to put to print. If you're interested, you can read the full article here: http://triblive.com/neighborhoods/yourcarlynton/yourcarlyntonmore/5058234-74/senior-brewster-carlynton#axzz2lKuJwk1P.

I talked for about seven minutes with Megan Guza alongside Jeff Henke (Mr. Witherspoon) and Tyler Piper (Dr. Einstein). It was quite an interesting conversation, going everywhere from how Aidan convinced us all to try out for the play to where we plan on going. Though I do share some satisfaction in being the one that came up with the word camaraderie, which landed in the title of the piece.

Anyway, I'm posting this because I wanted to record what it felt like at the time - being interviewed, and capping off my first Carlynton play.

Shameless self-promotion:

Join the wildly talented Carlynton cast as they present Joseph Kesselring's Arsenic and Old Lace. What happens when you take two murderous little old ladies, mix in a dash of identity crisis, sprinkle in some dead bodies, and add just a hint of romance? The complete recipe calls for Brooklyn cops, wanna-be writers, a bugle, a window seat, and some elderberries. Don't miss your chance to find out why Aunt Martha and Aunt Abby have so many people simply dying to try the wine! Bring the whole family for a great evening of laughs and entertainment.

Cast (in order of appearance):
Abby Brewster- Marin Exler
Mrs. Harper- Cassie Clark
Teddy Brewster- Alex Popichak
Officer Brophy- Colin Henke
Officer Klein- Caleb Staker
Martha Brewster- Natalie Thomas
Elaine Harper- Angela Zucchero
Mortimer Brewster- Aidan Kalimon
Mr. Gibbs- Kassi Longstreth
Jonathan Brewster- Clay Bodnar
Dr. Einstein- Tyler Piper
Officer O'Hara- Jarod Latta
Lieutenant Rooney- Rachel Roach
Mr. Witherspoon- Jeff Henke

Tickets are available at the door. Price: students and seniors $5, adults $7.

Tuesday, November 12, 2013

No Matter What we Breed We Still are Made of Greed

**Note: I thought I had posted this when I wrote it - Friday the 8th. Apparently I had not**

The title consists of lyrics from Imagine Dragons' Demons. It has nothing to do with this post. However, I recommend their acoustic version, which you can find here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=PthxO_lRu9c

Anyway, my week was busy, but as the trend has gone lately, I've spent a lot of time at the high school and more specifically in the auditorium. I'm in a strange position that I personally love: that of a tech and of an actor. I'm involved with the winter play, Arsenic and Old Lace and it's quite a different experience from anything I've done thusfar.

This is the first 'role' I've had to date, and it's interesting having actual lines versus being in the ensemble of a musical or being cloaked in black with most tech... Though my heart still is very much laying in the shadows - in the dark - in the control rooms.

We did maintenance, our ragtag crew of an adviser that was all of our former band director, my brother, one of his friends, and another guy we've picked up along the way. Our adviser is new this calendar year, but has been involved in Carlynton Tech for years. Honestly, I'm quite thankful to have someone knowledgeable teach us the ropes, and over the past week alone I've learned so much - and fixed so much!

It's when there's nothing going on in the auditorium - no shows, no people, no performers, nothing - that I've learned to appreciate this hidden zen of silence. I like the control of running a light board, the knowledge of a rigging system, and above all else the magic that we can create. A good tech crew - which over the past year the group of us have become - can do so much, especially when we're passionate about it. I'm not saying we do an amazing job with everything, it's just we love what we do.

But acting - bringing to life the scenes and tech - creating the backdrops and illusions, are so different. I'm thankful for being able to do this all, and I don't care if it ever lands me anywhere. I just love doing it all.

Thursday, October 31, 2013

But the Oregon is Supposed to Australia!

This is a combination of two drafts; I realize the publish date is Halloween, but it has nothing to do with Halloween.

I log into the backend of this blog every day. I'm curious (distressingly and obsessively so) to see if anyone reads this. Along with that comes the side effect of it reminding me the last time I published. I have this inherent fear of publishing with no real content. Just mindless words being posted because I've become a slave to the pageview numbers. So I stopped it. And then I missed it.

Throughout the week I come up with little bits and pieces that are by Saturday evening thrown into a post. Without posting, I haven't had a place to go with that. My mind is a jumbled place right now for a bunch of reasons, and I'm trying to sort all that out.

I'm not going to go on some rant about some invented existential crisis: I'm alive, I'm pressing on because I want to move from where I am. It seems though in the midst of all this that I focus too much on the future and the past but not the present. I think it's a flaw with society; we are forced to look ahead because that is the direction we are heading towards. I've been looking at college stuff, like seriously having to consider colleges.

At the same time, I blame society for my own problems. I have had issues lately with focusing, which is actually quite aggravating for someone who can usually throw 100% energy into something for as long as it takes until something is done. But lately things haven't been getting done, and I've learned to hate myself for it. This (in conjunction with stress) probably isn't healthy, but whatever, 'tis only a flesh wound.

I've been stuck on this idea of time, self-identity, and how people interact lately. I think my English class is penetrating my 'normal' stream of consciousness. We read a piece recently, for example, about how everyone lies and that there are degrees of lying. We were asked to individually come up with a discussion question. Mine (as most of mine end up becoming) was relatively surface-level. I seem not to be able to grasp the crazy-abstract concepts, but instead zero in on something I do understand and extrapolate that into interpretation.

Switching gears, for those of you that have been following me over the past few months or so you know I've been obsessed with Colleges and Universities. My friend Jake Urbanek is at Cal U and hosts a radio show there (4-6 Thursdays on wcal.calu.edu/live.php ) so that's pretty cool. Personally, today I took a trip to Point Park University for their open house. This was really my first official "University Visit". I went to RMU for a business fair, but specifically looking at programs and the sort.

I hope to get back into the groove of things, but I shan't mislead you into thinking that that will happen soon. It won't. But thanks for sticking with me nevertheless.

Saturday, October 12, 2013

Title to Post, I'm Lost and Tired

So I've mulled over a few different topics to talk about: The Pirates again, the Duck again because let's be honest; it is AWESOME!, and I've also looked into something borderline profound. I don't know what counts as profound, and when I label these posts, I do so in the vacuum of the back end of the blog here.

Usually I am able to just write - whatever is on my mind, or I'll pick a song, title the post, and then write the post to fit the title. But honestly, I don't feel like that does anyone except for my view count good. I have to ask myself every now and again why I keep going on with whatever it is I am doing. Why announce? It's fun, and I love nothing more than representing my school in a way that puts it in a good light. Why act? For the heck of it. Why sing? Because I enjoy doing it, and because we don't have a choir per se at our church.

I ask myself why I write this blog week after week, and it seems that the reasoning is threefold: 1) to force myself to improve my writing (and I'd say that works, considering I started this in the seventh grade) 2) When I'm able to come up with something, I love writing and 3) I feel like it's my job to make sure this thing gets finished: I need to have something posted at least periodically here until 2015.

I came to the realization recently that I'm a junior. This is my second to last year of high school. Up until now, I moved forward with the safety in my head that there are grades above me, seniors were a distant group that you get sort of close to, and then they disappear.

But then my friends became seniors. It's a strange reality to come to; though you consciously know that life moves forward, I don't think I understood what it meant to move with it. I attended my first college visitation Friday, and I realized that for once this stuff is pertinent. The stuff that was just words about who is coming to visit and to talk about what suddenly becomes relevant.

I'm trying to figure out where I'm going with everything: why it is I am doing what I do, why I choose to surround myself with the people I do. Why on Earth we put up with the stuff that we do. How we associate with one another, and whether or not we are just trying to relive what we once lived.

I don't know. It's late, and I'm lost. As I told a gentleman who appeared at my house from the Church of Latter-Day Saints, I think in a broader sense, we are all lost a bit. We have to be, and eventually we may find ourselves, but we never stop looking, and never stop redefining who we are.


Go Giant Rubber Duck, Go Cougars,

Sunday, October 6, 2013

Of Bucs and Ducks

Yeah, so it's Sunday. Usually by Sunday if I haven't posted yet I usually abandon it completely, but today I took (lack of) initiative!

Friday brought a pep rally, a PIRATES WIN, and Homecoming (the game), Saturday brought Homecoming (the dance), and today my back is killing me. How are you? That's cool.

My paternal grandmother is a diehard Pittsburgh Pirates fan, and so is my friend Jeff Stephan (of JSVH fame). Each year, Jeff has told me "this is the year" and, well, it wasn't. And by 'the year' he means the year where we finally overcome the losing streak that had been running since 1992. My parents weren't even married in '92. But this year the Pirates are in the running for winning the division... like, for real. We have postseason baseball in Pittsburgh.

And though obviously to get to this point it took a bunch of hard work and dedication and proof of insurance and everything, I have a theory for the postseason performance: The Giant Duck.
Found on MLB.com Yeah, seriously.

As I have already posted, the giant duck has the power to make people smile (admit it, the above picture is making you smile) and I think it also has magic powers.
From the artist:
"The Rubber Duck knows no frontiers, it doesn't discriminate people and doesn't have a political connotation. The friendly, floating Rubber Duck has healing properties: it can relieve mondial tensions as well as define them. The rubber duck is soft, friendly and suitable for all ages!"
Hear me out, the Post-Gazette has even run something in the Sunday paper with the headline of something to the effect of "The Duck is Magical" or something. If it isn't the Pirates' good luck charm, it at least is worth investigating. Two things are uniting Pittsburghers this October: the Giant Duck and Pirates Baseball. It's something amazing to be a part of.

Only people from around here would understand this one,
all credit goes to YaJagoff.com and my aunt Marie.

Yeah, I realize this is rambly, so I'll stop writing (and probably delete this later) but I wanted an excuse to use those two pictures.

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Quack.

EDIT 10/2/13: The pictures are up on my Flickr page... Check out the set here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/alexanderpopichak/sets/72157635984422503/.

So Yesterday was fun. I had school as usual, but from there I came home and my mother took me to downtown Pittsburgh. One of the things I love so much about being so close to the city is that anytime something happens there, it's a 15-30 minute drive (depending on traffic) pretty much anywhere downtown. Our mission was to go on a duck hunt.

So there's this project where Dutch Artist Florintijn (spelling?) Hofman makes a giant inflatable duck, and well, yeah. That's about it. And there's a giant duck now floating on the Allegheny River. But they boated it up yesterday, and I was a part of the greeting party.

I came straight from school and my mother and I set up at Point State Park. I brought my camera and we hung out around the fountain until about 5 oclock, when the media appeared. To my right was a gentleman from the Associated Press, David Highfield of KDKA, some WPXI people, and yes - they were all here to see a 40-foot tall duck float up the river.

Then, around 5:05 we saw the head poking out from around the bend. Eventually that head gave way to a body, and then, GIANT DUCK!

It's hard to describe how ridiculously excited I was to see this thing, and that was shared by the mass of people that had joined us in Point State Park. The artist was there, and his mission - at least the one he states on his website - was accomplished. He brought smiles and joy to the faces of those around him. And Pittsburgh now has a duck floating until October the 20th.

I didn't add pictures at the time of posting, but I will soon, and it all will be available on my flickr page (www.flickr.com/AlexanderPopichak).

Saturday, September 21, 2013

How Can You Dream In The Doorway Without Ever Going In?

First I'm going to acknowledge that this is my 200th post since I started the blog nearly 4 years ago.

This week was an interesting one. Tuesday brought with it auditions for this year's Carlynton Winter Play, Arsenic and Old Lace. It's this dark-ish comedy about two aunts who live together with their insane nephew who thinks that he is Teddy Roosevelt, and basically they take boarders in and kill them. When their 'normal' nephew Mortimer discovers this, well, you'll have to come in December to see it live.

Auditions are always the most nerve-wracking part of a production if only for the reason of the big unknown - you don't know how it will go, and your mission is to sell to the panel your acting skills. If they like you, they call you back. And they called me back. 

Callbacks were fun, and I realized that our entire on-air talent with the morning announcements (Aidan, Clay, and I) were all called back, and I knew pretty much the entire callback crew, so that made things fun. They had me try out the Teddy character, and asked me to try an officer character (again, you need to see this thing) which I attempted a Brooklyn/New Jersey accent on.

I said one sentence and the auditorium started cracking up. It wasn't the line, it was the ridiculous accent (which if you've seen BBC 2 1/2, you can picture an accent of that ridiculous scale.... downright overdone and goofy)

They had me try out also for all-too-serious-yet-semi-sarcastic Mortimer character, a role that was sort of hard to pull off after throwing two ridiculous characters out on stage... but whatever. After that we were left to wait.

Thursday brought the announcements that we were asked to record for Open House that night. We never record, or pre-record our announcements. No delays, no nothing, always live, which made this a bit, um, stressful (I know it sounds ridiculous, but I'm telling the truth!). It was a trainwreck. So we had to come in and re-record everything on the VHS tape during 6th period, my lunch.

I was first into the studio after our adviser. I told her, that that was my lunch period and she responded "oh, it'll just take like four minutes."

It took a total of five takes (four that period) to get the good copy. And since we were using a VCR and VHS tapes, we had to start over every time something went wrong. Our visual producer put it this way:

So yeah, we got it done, and the broadcast that night was flawless; too bad I didn't get to eat my lunch that period... Oh well.

That night brought open house, which I announced the changing of classes and directed parents, and that night I got the email to check the cast list.

And I got cast as the insane Teddy Brewster. So yeah, this is going be fun considering my character's brothers are the normal Mortimer Brewster (portrayed by my WCHS cohort Aidan Kalimon) and the evil Boris Karloff-esque character Jonathan Brewster (portrayed by... wait for it... my other WCHS on-air cohort Clay Bodnar). This is going to be something else.

And Friday brought with it another Carlynton Football win, this time 42-0 over Serra Catholic. Over half of the cast of the play was with me in the student section, so that was cool....

I hope that was long enough. Thanks for reading, and here's to 200 posts! *raises juicebox*

Friday, September 13, 2013

I Can't Tell Where the Journey Will End But I Know Where to Start: The Carlynton Student Section

So it's a friday night, and that means Boys Varsity Football (American) here in Western Pennsylvania.

The cool thing about announcing for the band is I get to see all of the Carlynton football games for free and I get to see every game. When we traveled to Clairton last week, that wasn't exactly the best game, but it was still seeing guys I know play a sport they love, and that's still pretty cool.

And then there was tonight.

Background: Canevin (Bishop Canevin High School) is a private school that geographically is roughly the same area. As a result of this, we are rivals in one another's back yard.

Something amazing happened, and it was quite evident in the air. The student section (which I eagerly was a part of) exploded and so did our marching band and cheerleaders. It was wild, and our Carlynton Cougars won 37-12. But I don't think that was the important part, the winning that is. Granted, that is still quite great to be a part of.

The thing I love about the student section is the sense of unity that comes with it. People screaming all at the same time for the same reason. Heck, even our new principal got into it for a while there. It's something amazing to be a part of, and I think it's great to be able to be a part of something.

And it continues past the time you graduate too, at least in spirit. I know one of the biggest players in the student section still tweets about how he wishes he could be back there with us. I talked to at least two alumni tonight about it, and it's just an atmosphere that's contagious, whether we win or not. But it helps to have won.

More coherant posts to come. I hope. And the giant rubber duck is coming in like two weeks! Oh and FreeBurgh Fest is tomorrow at 5 in Schenley Plaza. I'm done now.

Wednesday, September 11, 2013

"And I'll Stand Beside the Ones Who Stood Alone " 9/11/13


The Title: Blue October's "Kangaroo Cry". Their response dedicated to those affected by 9/11.

It's been 12 years. I went to Shanksville a month ago to visit the memorial to Flight 93. It was quite impressive, and even more impressive was the universal feeling of being overwhelmed shared by the people visiting there. And I mean it in the most sincere way: there was a sober and peaceful mood about the place. And though not a requirement, everyone there is nearly silent. It's terrible to think that such a peaceful place was the backdrop to one of the darkest days in American history.


When you first visit, there is a bulletin board inside the entryway where people leave messages as part of the grieving process, and messages to the heroes of the strike. What touched me most was this note:

It reads "I wish t[h]at you were a live. thank you."

And I don't think it was the child's handwriting that touched me as much as the fact that it was written by a six year old: born in 2007. Six years after 9/11. I was 4 when it happened, and remember it vaguely. But at least there is a glimmer of life in my head pre-9/11.


Every year on 9/11 I post a picture of the flagpole I built with the flag flying on it (Top Picture). WCHS broadcast a schoolwide moment of silence at about 7:40 AM. Our student government did the same at 8:39ish AM, nearly the same time as the WTC attacks. We won't forget. This 7th grade may (they were born in 2000 or 2001) but we won't. 

And I think above all else this note left in Shanksville speaks volumes that life and time have moved on, yet we should never forget the sacrifice it comes to mean. My prayers are with all affected, as they need it most.

Friday, September 6, 2013

Art, Start, Insert Witty/Slightly Lackluster Title Here

Post Note: This is really just my thoughts, not really a regular 'post'. Sorry about that.

So this year, for the first time in my high school career, I have an art class. Our scheduling is a mess, but I don’t want to talk about that. It’s a creative release for me to design stuff, see any website I tweak endlessly or how many different things are attached to this blog. But I’ve found that I can very rarely create with my hands anything that’s remotely close to my digital design, so that’s nice.

I’ve recently been fascinated by the idea of art and creation. Neil Gaiman talks a lot about this in a commencement speech to an art school, and in the Blackberry campaign with Deviantart a while back, and I got two things out of it. He says that as artists, the most important thing to do is to make good art. The idea is to make art that pleases the artist and is something quite personal. The other part is that writing and art have a lot in common. Literary critics always argue that ‘ooh, the reason the book ended a certain way was because of some deeply though ambiguous black hole’.

I have a better theory.

I would venture to wager that the book ends because the words stop on a page. It’s because the author or artist decided at a certain point that the words/designs needed to stop and the thing they worked on needed to be released to the world. What Gaiman is saying is that a work is never really finished because, what is finishing? In reading books there is an author, and a reader. John Green argued that they work together, sort of like the internet and the often-despised comment section. Things get created because people have ideas and release them into the world.

So where am I going with this? I’m not exactly sure. I’m writing this in a fifth period study hall, and I’m mulling over the concept of design and what a treacherous thing it is to think that an artist is his or her work, as well as the concept of art.

I’m also thinking about the band festival tomorrow and the football game tonight, and just how quickly life goes and what we use our time for. I guess whatever it is; my mission should be to enjoy it. Because I'm reminded every day that I have a bunch of different ideas yet so little time to accomplish anything because of the things I 'need' to do: School, Homework, Volunteer Stuff, Mowing, etc. The internet constantly reminds us of the doom-and-gloom outlook that everything is temporary, and perhaps that’s true. But if it is, might as well enjoy every minute of it, and make whatever awesome things we can. To make good art.

Hopefully a more coherent post Wednesday… if I find the time to post Wednesday. Oy.

Post-Post Note: I realized that I label nearly all of the posts under "Stuff I Shouldn't Blog About" as "Things That Are Slightly Profound". What does that say about this? Does it mean anything?

Monday, September 2, 2013

I'm Moving Slowly for I Dare Not Want to Cause Alarm

(Alternatively Titled "I've got that Summertime, Summertime Anti-Sadness" I don't know what I was going for though. End Parenthesis.)

So I sort of misled you in that my last post I alluded to having been done with vacation. But I was actually in Delaware at the time, enjoying the last few days/hours of my vacation. The following day I took a ferry to Cape May New Jersey from Lewes, Delaware where I took this picture of a picture of Chris Christie:

If you look closely, you can see someone's lipstick on the lovely face of Chris Cristie. Inspiring.
I just thought I'd share that with you. Cape May was quite lovely, and pictures from there and the adventures following that will be up on Flickr in the coming weeks... Sorry, I'm bad at that.

Then we went back to Delaware and the following morning set back for Pittsburgh. I already wrote about taking road trips, but I had absolutely no idea of what happened roughly 30 hours after I hit publish. I was navigating shotgun, getting ready to circumnavigate Baltimore, when we got into a crash. Well, it was a fender bender, but being about 5 feet from the majority of the damage shook me up quite a bit, I'm just very glad I wasn't driving at the time.

But I'm not going to ramble on that, we got back into Pittsburgh on a Sunday (with thankfully no delays, yay! Seven hours in a car FTW!) and I started junior year on that Wednesday.

One of the things that comes inherently with this cycle is readjustments. And it's hard to adjust to new courses, and to at least two people I've met this week, it means adjusting to a whole different world. Because let's face it, each high school is it's own little world. But for the first time in a long time, I adjusted, and for some reason like zenned out (is that a word? I don't know...) which I think is fantastic. Hopefully it's a sign of things to come.

That Friday I came up with a crazy idea which I'll probably announce sometime this week, and we had the first football game of the season.

It was wild to be back in an announcer's booth to again announce the band. Even though I'm scripted, I still love the feeling of it. And what was even weirder was that when the band started marching, nothing happened but cadence. However, as soon as I said "LADIES AND GENTLEMEN please welcome to the field YOUR 2013-2014 Carlynton Golden Cougar Marching Band!" everyone cheered. And that's awesome too. And to top it off I spent the weekend at camp.

So it was a week of strange contrasts from ferries to tall ships; from DelMarVa to New Jersey; from DelMarVa to Pittsburgh; a beach to an announcer's booth.

This coming Friday is an away game at Clairton, and Saturday brings the CHS Festival of Bands, which you should totally come to and listen to me help emcee, or perhaps come for the fireworks, and the fantastic bands. It's 7PM at Honus Wagner. More details on a site I worked on: carlyntonband.org. Click the graphic on the home page for more info.

T-Minus 25 Days Until the GIANT DUCK!!!

Thursday, August 22, 2013

But What a View from the Fifty Ninth Street Bridge

An alternative title is "Of Sandcastles, Roadmaps and" there's a third thing, but I couldn't think of it when I sat down to post. Add whatever you want there.

So I didn't write last week, and that was because I was on a 400ish mile adventure on our (my family and I's) way to vacation in Delaware. Roadtrips are interesting things: the basic premise is that you have a long road that you need to get over in order to go someplace that you're not.

Due to my knack for remembering things like addresses and memorizing routes, I end up playing navigator to get there. And it can get stressful, very stressful when I was put in the back of the car and barking directions to circumnavigate around Baltimore, but we get there nevertheless.

When I was little, I used to think my life was just one ridiculously long reality television series (this is what television did to me, which is part of the reason I don't watch it much anymore. The other reason? Because, internet.). Part of that crazy idea was that when we got in the car, the stuff that ran by wasn't really there. I would sit in a car for an hour or whatever and when I got out, the sets would have changed to the point where I was 'someplace else'.

The reality hit me around age 6 or so that such a thought was ridiculous. Though at times I wish that I was still in that. Take for example last year when I first crossed the Chesapeake Bay Bridge spanning from Annapolis to the nonexistent peninsula that is DelMarVa. The reality that cruise ships (gigantic things from what I've seen) can pass under this thing without problem is sort of unnerving. It also helps this time when we had to go in the opposite direction (something having to do with rush hour and EZ-Pass) as everyone else on the particular part of the bridge that we were on. I'm just glad I wasn't driving for that part.

Once we got over onto DelMarVa, I can say that I've officially driven (that's proper use, right?) in two states: Pennsylvania and Delaware.

So part of the adventure of vacations is checking out the local television networks and comparing them with back home. Last year I was introduced to Captain Willie Dykes and the crew of DelMarVa ' s (a made up word combining Delaware, Maryland, and Virginia) news leader WBOC-16.

Oh My. So yeah, though we may grumble back in the burgh about little quirks at TAE, Channel 11 and the Special K, nobody has the weekly adventure that is OUTDOORS DELMARVA. It's really something else. Check it out sometime.

But I wasn't in nonexistent DelMarVa to critique local news, I was there to build sandcastles and take pictures of stuff. Though I haven't finished looking through everything yet, I will post everything eventually to my flickr (http://www.flickr.com/photos/alexanderpopichak) and will share this gem from Ocean City, Maryland:
It's the pleasantville effect... Click for larger
The thing about vacations is that, as Wikipedia puts it: A vacation or holiday is a specific trip or journey, usually for the purpose of recreation or tourism. In essence, it's an adventure for no great reason but to live.

And I think in a larger sense people take vacations in order to appreciate their hometown more. I know that the beach is great (and so is the ocean and the rest that comes along with it) but nothing compares to being home, which when googling to find some deep and profound definition, I realized that I was seriously about to google what home is.

Alright, new posts eventually. Summer ends for me sometime next week, so I may be spotty when it comes to posting for the first week or so.

And then I realize it's a Thursday, not a Friday. Oy vey.

Friday, August 9, 2013

Don't Use the Stars to Find Me, Don't Expect Them to Align

So those are lyrics from the song 'Only Skin' on the album yellow // gold by the amazing band The Spring Standards.

Why the introduction? Yesterday (8/7/13) I attended a house concert at my aunt and uncle's house in Dormont. And yes, this is the same aunt and uncle who let me go see JayScribble and KDKA and introduced me to WYEP.

The term 'house concert' sounds like some sort of stuffy thing for like crazy rich people who want to enslave classical music artists in their basements for personal concerts at each whim. However, this couldn't be further from the truth. The Spring Standards came because of some sort of deal they struck with my aunt and uncle through kickstarter or something... I don't know the details, but bottom line I was invited and I went.

Granted, unlike the Tally Hall excursion, I had about a week and a half's notice and actually did my homework and knew some of their songs (yay forward thinking!).

Half of the documentary film Crew
We walked in and were some of the first people there, and were immediately introduced to the fantastically nice James Cleare, Heather Robb, and James Smith, as well as Noah (the guy that plays drums but due to space limitations couldn't) and two documentary filmmakers.

I spent a long period of time talking to the documentary filmmakers about what they do, how it works, and what it's like being on tour with a band.

After a while we all sat down (we including the daughter of my former GATE teacher and Suzanne from WYEP) and the trio indulged us with a 16 to 18 song acoustic set. It was fabulous. They have a great sense of humor and were playing with a large cutout of Joe Biden (the story of which I learned later) for a bit:
Joe Biden!

The story behind the Joe Biden head involved a guy who's now in Boston but used to work at KDKA, Jim Lokay (follow him on twitter, he's hilarious!). He sent my aunt this for her birthday and the band got a hold of it, so that was fun.

After they were done with their set, they let us know that they could send us the entire recording of the night directly to our emails (I totally did that!) so we could remember it, and have the musics.
L-R: James Smith, Heather Robb, James Cleare
(I think I have that right...)

This is again the thing that I love about music. It brings awesome people together, and those of us who are musically challenged can really appreciate what these people can achieve with two guitars, and some harmonica-accordion thing (it looks like a kid's piano that had a kid with like a kazoo... it's bizarre, but sounds awesome.

Anyway, afterwards we got to talk to the band and I bought their latest album yellow // gold and they signed it, and obviously noticed how long I spent talking to the documentary filmmakers:


And like I said, they have a sense of humor. the one James (Leftmost James) told me that the photographers should be paying me to A) talk to the underlings and B) hold their lenses. Obviously Heather (the one who wrote the message) didn't mind too much. You should look them up, or better yet, buy their music, it's like the Lumineers meets the Band Perry meets Mumford & Sons, with less country and more folk...

Listen: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=UoLEvg9QrGg&feature=c4-overview-vl&list=PLC189635CAA8D4E29

Meh, so goes the life of me. I was no doubt the youngest one there, but I loved it. Thanks to Aunt Marie and Uncle George for letting me come, and the Spring Standards for being great people.

Really Post-Post: My Aunt Marie also wrote about the evening from the hostess point of view. You should check that, and the rest of her blog out: http://blame-it-on-being-a-girl.blogspot.com/2013/08/in-which-some-thursdays-are-far-more.html

Saturday, August 3, 2013

Looking Back At Sunsets On The East Side / We Lost Track Of The Time

So I apologize for not posting last night, but the reasoning will come later.

So this week was about accomplishing things and catching up. I wrapped reading "Fences" by August Wilson, and earlier wrapped reading "Manhunt: the 12 day search for Lincoln's killer", and I plan on writing reviews a bit later. I also was granted access and am now the head designer/web developer for the Carlynton Marching Band. So that's sort of exciting.

I also got to catch up with an old friend of mine, as well as Dave (of Dave 'n Clay show concept fame on here I guess). We took on the world through wooded trails, and Dave screaming "YOLO" for no particular reason.

It was nice to catch up. And anyone that's read Paper Towns by Jayscribble can appreciate this when I say she pulled a Margo and called me about an hour ahead of time, and appeared at my doorstep for an adventure the nature of which neither of us exactly knew.

And I like that. Spontaneity. Nevertheless, we adventured around and talked about where we're going and what we're doing. And it was then that I realized how far I've come, and actually how 'old' we are.

In my mind at least, I was back in eight grade. It was when we got to talking that I realized that I'm now a Junior. It's crazy.

So this Friday (the day I SHOULD have posted, yeah, yesterday) I got another one of those Margo-esque calls but this time it was from Clay. Today when I post this is his birthday (HAPPY BIRTHDAY!), and last night we went on a bowling adventure in an underground lane in Crafton. But first we went to the dollar store in the same plaza.

Dollar stores are curious places, full of deals and the strong smell of plastic. You know the plastic I'm talking about - not the lovelyness of new car, but the stuff that makes you wonder how the nice people working the registers don't get asphyxiated on their shift.

We had no purpose there except to kill time, and it's sort of dangerous to let four teenagers loose in a dollar store. And they had everything there from "LOOKS REAL!" gag ketchup to "Jihad Joe: the novel" to Pokemon tattoos... and 'Hater Shades'.

At least I think that's what they're called. That or shutter shades or something. They were given the dollar store generic name of "party shades" and 3/4 of us got them and I bowled about 1/6 of the time with them on. Now I may have been hallucinating, but I think they helped me line up the shot better. Nevertheless, I still lost.

But ultimately that didn't matter. We were in a half-decent yet deserted bowling alley underneath a grocery store in a shopping plaza I've been to once, having the time of our lives. And yeah, the pizza wasn't that great, but these are definitely the things I will remember about my summers: getting calls randomly from friends and the adventures that follow.

Friday, July 26, 2013

The Star Maker Says, "It Ain't So Bad"

So, yeah this week. I've wanted to post a few other times this week, but then I was worried that I wouldn't have anything to post about Friday. Well, today's Friday, I think, Honestly I lose track during the summer, and I have multiple things to talk about.

A man I admire greatly, His Grace Bishop Daniel, visited Slickville this past Sunday. He came to elevate my father to the rank of Protopriest. He served with us all, and it was quite nice to hear him speak. I hope to have the video of his homily up eventually, but nevertheless it was quite a nice service.

Unlike the last time he came, he gave a week and a half's worth of notice, enough time to alert some presses, which packed our tiny church with about 50 people. Mind you, we only have 25 or so come on an average Sunday.

We (that was, my mother, father, and I) were discussing the night before the logistics of how it was all to work. Again, we had more notice, so they had the event catered, my father was able to tell a bunch of people, so we didn't exactly know who would come.

But then we realized that the building is alive. And no, I don't mean that in some "church in the woods is haunted oooohhh spooky" way or the feel-good metaphor of a lively parish, but rather the physical inside of the building appears to expand to fit as many people that show up. On a typical Sunday with 20 or so people, it feels full. And with 50 it feels full. It's extremely hard to describe, and I welcome whoever reads this to come out sometime and see it yourself.

So after everyone left, the pictures were taken and cleaned up and my father wrote an article. My mother decided that I should write it instead, but in reality what I did was play editor to his original. I added a lot of wording, condensed some stuff, and you can probably pick out the portions that are my style. You can read my frankenstiened version here: http://www.uocofusa.org/news_130723_2.html.

So that got published on Tuesday. On Thursday we got our copy of the Signal Item, which is a local paper published weekly about the goings-on in originally Carnegie, but has expanded to the Carlynton/Chartiers-Valley area. And I read through and I find something that looks awfully familiar.

I took some pictures at the last flag ceremony for the mayor of Carnegie, and he was kind enough to have them published in my name by the Signal Item.

I love that they picked out my two favorite pictures to print. These flag ceremonies have certain elements to them that are extremely hard to capture, and are amazing to experience. In fact, one was published that I couldn't time right before. Those moments are the playing of taps, the lowering of the flag, folding of it, and the presentation to the family of the fallen. And the coolest part (at least to me) is that they present it to the family with the same words that it was originally presented at the funeral with.

And then the commander of the VFW salutes the family. This is the amazing moment captured. And I will tell you that this picture does no justice to how truly poignant that moment is.


This all, if you know me personally, you know I freak out anytime I see something I made being put someplace other than my blog. So this was quite pleasant.

Post-Script: Sorry this was so LONG. I didn't realize that, but usually I write 300 word posts, this is more like double that. Sorry :/

Friday, July 19, 2013

Summer Reading Adventure 2013 Part I: The Awakening

So one of the things that I'm required to do to keep in my honors level courses is read a book. Well, actually for English I need to read two books, write two rhetorical precis, two outlines, and two personal responses (one in each category due by July 15). For Social Studies I need to read a book, then read the first four chapters in my textbook and answer some questions.

So I test-drove the idea of book reviews last year with Withering Away Heights and I think I'm going to do it again. This contains plot spoilers, and may very well ruin the book for you. Sorry, but I am warning you now.

The first book I've read this summer was The Awakening by Kate Chopin. Where the heck do I start with this plot? It's about this woman who decides she is unhappy with her life as a married woman with children, and didn't marry for love, and wah.

It's set 19th century New Orleans and the whole aim of the piece is to highlight the lack of choices women had in the way of self expression, and what happens when they bow to social conventions and have to follow strict class expectations et cetera. 

The plotline follows Edna Pontellier experiencing a personal awakening that she didn't marry for love, and falls in love with a lovely younger gentleman named Robert. But, again: She is married to a guy already, and has two children. He loves her back, so he moves away to remove himself out of the equation.

I want to take a moment to appreciate the fact that her sons names are √Čtienne and Raoul. 

Anyway, she decides that she also wants to be an artist. Her husband is the breadwinner and she is expected by social conventions to serve as homemaker and loyal wife and downright dull stock character. So she sends her kids to her homeland of Kentucky, her husband off to make money in New York. And she moves out. And Robert comes back. 

And what Robert essentially tells her is: Lady, I love you, but I can't be with you because, you know, adultery and stuff. So what is the logical thing to do at this point. You guessed it - she commits suicide. The end. Because that 

Okay, so I get that class culture is something important here. So are gender roles, because together they essentially drive this Edna chick insane and she kills herself. But these are social constructs of the 1890s. 

I understand that gender gaps are still a thing. In fact, a much better (and expanded) argument can be viewed here: http://tiltingsilver.tumblr.com/post/51872916055. So we have a long way to go, but I am not sure I am getting out of this what I should. 

I saw gender roles, and Edna's struggle to be an artist to a world not kind to women wanting to be artists, not some tragic love story of a woman wanting what she cannot have. 

I think we've come a bit further than having to resort to suicide because your on the side lover wants to preserve the sacrament of the existing marriage. And I'm also trying to figure out its relevance to me personally. I guess it's cultural awareness of gender roles, but in the context of a 1890s tragedy. 


Honestly, I didn't like the book. I liked what I interpreted as the message, which really was only made clear through reading criticism. It was quite Dickens-y with the whole 'let's describe every detail of the dresses at parties' thing, but it's a short (200ish page) read. Wouldn't recommend it, but I would recommend this criticism on it. Which, I guess requires reading the book: http://www.gvsd.org/cms/lib02/PA01001045/Centricity/ModuleInstance/3232/Critical_Essay-The_Awakening-A_Refusal_to_Compromise.pdf

</rant>

So this week I celebrated four years since the first post in 2009. I got bored and played with my image editor, and this happened (left)

But seriously, Thanks. No matter how long you've been reading, or if this is like the future and I'm in year like five or whatever, thanks for reading my nonsense week after week, despite how rambly these things get. 

Thanks for reading, because honestly, without people reading this, I would've stopped a long while back. 

Stay tuned for more (slightly comical, I hope) book reviews. Meh.

Tuesday, July 9, 2013

Home, Let Me Come Home Home Is Wherever I'm With You

So I keep track of my analytics, which are how many people come here, what they read, and that sort of thing. The mission is simple: see what people who read my blog like to read, and write more like that.

Honestly, I've been writing this blog pretty blindly for the past four years. And since my last post (yeah, I realize I'm slacking writing on a Tuesday of all days) this blog has reached 10,000 views. Wow. I mean, I realize that it's not unique views, but I reckon there are roughly 200 posts here, and if I do the math, that's roughly 50 people per post. That's crazy.

So first off, thank you. Whoever on earth you are, from whatever country, thank you for reading this blog. It really means a lot to me to know that someone somewhere is visiting. Okay, enough whit the nonsense gushy stuff.

This past weekend I spent up at camp, and saw firey flashes of AMERICA (fireworks) shot up at camp amongst other things. It was a lovely weekend despite the rain, and I learned about these paper lantern things.

They work off of the same principles as hot air balloons. A little candle is lit in them and using the heat inside them, they float up and are quite a sight to behold. Granted, every time I tried to take a picture they ended in blurs. But that led me to thinking...

After tweaking the settings on my camera, and playing with some America sparklers, I produced these pictures:
This was one of the lanterns

Matt and the America Sparklers

Me and the America Sparklers

Yeah, this didn't end too well...
Well, that's all I got. See you Friday.

Saturday, June 29, 2013

And After the Storm, I Run and Run as the Rains Come

So there's good reason I didn't blog yesterday. I was at a drive in.

The Line to Get Into The Drive-In
For those of you who belong to my generation and choose to do nothing but scroll blogs, drive in theatres are these magic inventions where you drive into a parking lot (thus the name) and watch a movie projected on a HUGE screen outside. They were apparently all over the place during the 50s-80s, but apparently they weren't cool anymore? I don't know, they seem pretty awesome to me

I went with my mother to see "Monsters University" because we had some groupon and I had never been to a drive in before.

These are magic inventions, and there were people outside of their cars waiting for it to get dark, and kids playing with things and just plain people being out and enjoying themselves.

Yay Magic Screen!
In order to hear the movie, they told you at the gate to tune your radio to a certain frequency and you could hear the movie from there. And here I'm thinking, oh it's some low power frequency, you will get static. No. Crystal Clear. Wow.

So that was how I spent my Friday night, watching a movie at a drive-in.  Sorry for the brevity of this post, it was either this or an adventure in parallel parking. I can sum that up in three words:
It. Was. Scary. 
That's where I wanted to end the post. Hit the labels, and hit publish. But I kept writing.

Okay, so the past few days have been rough. Another friend passed away suddenly. He was 19. I didn't know him all that well, but I will say this: that was too young. My prayers are with his family, and his close-knit group of friends. It's just rough.

Friday, June 21, 2013

My Uke Needs Tuned and Other Adventures

Okay, so this week was sort of rough... yet at the same time very unproductive. I lost a friend from church sort of suddenly, and I don't think that's hit me yet...

The title was a suggestion from a friend... I don't have a ukulele...

So this past weekend I spent up at CAMP! doing various miscellaneous things. My mother and grandfather trusted me enough to drive them to errands and the sort, like to the KMart in Clarion to buy a wheelbarrow.

One of my more productive ventures was to re-do the fire ring there. My grandmother decided she didn't like the rocks surrounding it... so we found some patio bricks. The idea was fairly simple, build a square around the existing circular ring. My grandmother didn't want to have the rocks that were there at all, but I had a (better-ish) idea to re-purpose them.

So the end product looks a bit like this:

Excuse the shovel... this is what it looks like though!
We used some of the rocks to level out the ring down under it, and around the ring for decoration. It looked pretty awesome... until it dawned on me. The rocks could be sandstone. To those of you who aren't familiar with the fun sandstone is around fire, it explodes. And it's usually not too good when that happens.

There was one real way to test it, which was to build a fire and see if it explodes. Unfortunately, or probably fortunately, there is no story here. It was probably some other sedimentary rock (I'm no geologist!) but it DID NOT EXPLODE. But it did rain that night... which made me sad.

However I did make a mountain pie in it. Yes, a mountain pie in the rain and storm, because I can.

That was really the highlight of my week... other than being kicked out of the high school. I can't say much for fear of libel, lawsuits, and other scary stuff from the school district, but bottom line I was working with a group of friends rearranging and updating our high school's video studio and we were informed that we needed to leave. Those are all the details I feel comfortable giving... and we were essentially stranded outside of the building walking the track until our one friend's aunt came to rescue us. Mind you, I'm a volunteer. Thanks.

Friday, June 14, 2013

I Come From Where The Rivers Meet The - Well, Rivers

IMAG1074
The Fountain! (Excuse the poor quality)
So I'm free, as most people are, from high school until August 20-something or other. I've done this thing over the past few years where the last day of school (which is usually just a useless day anyway) I do something decently cool during the school day, and then that night do something I haven't done in a while. I spent my day in the video lab, and the evening at the Three Rivers Arts Festival, and watching a musical in the Cultural District.

But first I want to talk about Sunday, the first trip to the Arts Festival. My mother was nice enough to accompany me going into town for the Re(imagiNATION) showcase on Sunday. We were put up in Point State Park (the newly renovated... with the fountain up!) on the "creativity stage". Since no one else was there when we started other than Matt (you should follow his twitter for free Pittsburgh Stuff - @ItsFreeBurgh) I ended up emceeing and introducing the bands.

The disappointment in it all was that I had to stay in the area and couldn't look at the art and the fountain... so I made my mother come down again with me early before we went to see the musical.

So that's exactly what we did. We took the T (Pittsburgh's Subway system) into town and explored the Three Rivers Arts Festival. We also took a walk to the fountain, where I took some pictures of the fountain (see top) and of the "Three Forks" marker.* I talked to a bunch of local artists and saw a bunch of works varying from repurposed scrap metal to photography.

I always get the urge to do something creative when I'm in spaces surrounded by works of other people. I realized that I enjoy photography, so I want to sometime take a bunch of pictures of various local things. I started a flickr, and want to get into that creative end. If you're interested, my flickr handle is here: http://www.flickr.com/photos/95500973@N06/

Anyway, I love these sorts of events where people are sharing and collaborating and above all, creating stuff. So I guess if I want to make a Summer's resolution, I want to be more creative. We'll see how that works out.

On a final note, I'd like to congratulate the members of the CHS Class of 2013. It's insane to think that that'll be my class in two years. Wow. Special shout out to my senior friends: Isabella, Lana, Aidan, Lindsey, Ben, Seve, et al.

Now to why I put the star (*) by the three forks notice. So I took a picture and posted it of this cool ground marker. It marks the start of the Great Allegheny Passage at the point, and marks the exact confluence point for the Ohio River. Well, after some research, it turns out that they are having an official unveiling of that exact marker tomorrow (6/15). So I saw it and posted it when no one was supposed to see it. It's on the flickr, but I am not putting it here, because that's mean to the the GAP people.... maybe next week?

Friday, June 7, 2013

Smile Like You Mean It

Note: I apologize if this is hard to understand. I am losing my mind with finals in school and assorted other things... Your understanding is appreciated.
So today was the last regular Friday to my sophomore year. Wow was that crazy. I'm one of those people who walk to the top of a hill, and look back. Then I decide to move forward because, honestly, there's so much more ahead.

So today in English our teacher brought out our 'portfolios' which are a collection of selected works of ours from each year going back to 7th grade. It was interesting to see how far I've come as a writer, and how poor my handwriting has become.

I'm again reminded that things progress.

It's wild looking back after something to see what it actually was. By this I mean that I am an idea guy, and to see something actually come out of an idea, or whatever the case is, is satisfying.

I look at the end of this year, and I sort of feel the same as I did last year (http://2015blogger.blogspot.com/2012/06/don-know-what-to-write-centralia-and.html), but in a different sense of becoming those older people, and realizing how much has actually been accomplished.

I have yet to do finals, but already I know this much: sophomore year is over. And even though I may not have done so great in chem, and struggled writing research papers for social studies and English I've learned a lot - about the world around me, as well as myself.

I've learned a bit from everything ranging from how to put on an arts festival of sorts, using a studio, how relationships work, how to work in a lab, and ultimately where I plan to go. We'll see how this all pans out.

I can't wait for this summer to come, because I plan to go to Delaware (which I can never spell), and I want to get lost in the awesome of downtown Pittsburgh again, and do so many things... I don't know. I am just excited to be where I am now, and to be moving forward.

For the record and for those keeping track at home, this brings the count to roughly two years until this blog becomes relevant. Thanks.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

And All the Lights that Light the Way are Blinding

Note: I apologize if this is hard to understand/cryptic. I try to separate my school and personal life from this blog... I'm going through a lot in both. Your understanding is appreciated.

So yesterday I went to Gettysburg. Granted, this is the third time I've been to Gettysburg, but I decided to go again with the AP US History class and my AC2 Scholars Class because, well, Civil War. This past Saturday we had the Cemetery Re-dedication, also a Civil War thing. But I want to save the Civil War ventures for another day.

Going to Gettysburg from Pittsburgh requires a four-plus hour bus ride in each direction. In that amount of time I could have slept (if they weren't singing Harry Potter songs behind me) or did homework, but instead I did three things: wrote a bit, talked a bit, and thought a lot.

One of my new favorite quotes is from Walter Cronkite:
"I learned early on that the masks of comedy and tragedy adorn the proscenium of life"
-Walter Cronkite, A Reporter's Life 1996.
"Proscenium" is a theater term for the architectural 'frame' around the stage. It hides the moving parts like the flies and scenery, drawing your attention to the performance.

The Proscenium is the wood paneling here, as well as the curtains.
Courtesy: ronniejackson.com
I've been thinking a lot about theater and about the moving parts, and the big metaphor with life here. Each person, much like each audience member, sees a different performance. The actor does his or her best to portray a certain character or emotion or whatever, and chooses to ignore the real ones, for the sake of the show. It's an interesting concept, in the sense that it is true. People only know the person you portray to them.

I was thinking this as I was walking through fields and passing farmland. I'm also thinking about how being detached from certain things is a very good thing for me on a personal level.

Having a break from everything to look from a different perspective ultimately adds to my own perspective. I really am trying to avoid some weird metaphor that doesn't make sense, but it's hard to explain.

Bottom line, I've realized a lot. I've realized what a proscenium and fly system backs me up. And above all, I've come to realize what a production some people's lives are, and how simple mine is. And I love every minute... and I think at this point, I'm running tech to my own life.

Friday, May 24, 2013

And Open Up Your Eyes

I spent the weekend at my grandparents' house in beautiful Petrolia, Pa to attend my cousin's wedding  And here's the terrifying part - I drove a little over 15 miles on windy and twisty road to get there...

So I'm driving along this road, and this is the same road that I've rode on as a kid for years (usually listening to a Jimmy Buffet Casette), so I know it pretty well. There is a hill before you get to Chicora that at the crest of it has a huge sweeping turn overlooking a farm with a pond and cows and general lovely.

So I crest this hill overlooking the general lovely and stop dead in my tracks..... granted, I think I swore a bit when I realized what actually happened. Because before me were three random goats standing in the middle of my lane.

Well, we don't have a car, but whatever....
DRAMATIZATION (Click for Larger)
About half way through stopping, my mother said "GOATS" but at that point I had already hit the brake hard enough to not, well, attack the goats.

So what do these goats do? They just stand there and look at me. So I slowly try to move around them, and I guess in their goat minds it went like this:
GOAT: WOAH, Big scary green thing coming after us. DIVE DIVE DIVE!
And by dive I mean that the three goats literally dove under the guard rail and into the general lovely.

I had never seen goats in that field, and I probably wont again, but I did that day. And whether they realized it or not, the fact that I was only going like 40 miles an hour and was scared of the road saved them.

I should get a medal or something for that...

The wedding itself was quite lovely, albeit I don't understand the hoopla for getting married - I guess I don't particularly understand why such planning is needed, but then again I don't understand much... or plan much.

Finals are coming up soon here and then summer comes... and then hopefully I'll be able to post better content....

Friday, May 17, 2013

And I Swear: We Are Infinite.

These lines end the movie that I recently watched, The Perks of Being a Wallflower. Granted, watching it before reading it goes against my whole mantra here, but I made an exception, and I'm glad I did. But I'll get back to that.

This line is actually a part of a larger quote, and when put in context, at least to me, it should read "We Feel Infinite." But it doesn't. It reads "We Are Infinite" because it is talking about a point in time where there is no sense of time; all that matters is what you are doing in that moment, and how you respond to that.

I hate the common thought by adults that "teenagers feel they are invincible". In some ways this is true, (I have a lovely story for another time about some idiots taking a test) but for the most part that is wrong. What I think is true is that teenagers feel that they are infinite, that where they are at that one point in time is all that matters, and all that will.

I'm not saying that teenagers are all self-centered people, but rather that since we have little time to base off of, each day is a large fraction of our life. Let me rephrase that. Take, for example, that I'm 16. I only remember about 10 or so years of that, so in memory and in things I can base off of, I am 10. Someone that is, say, 40 has about 34 years to base experience and that sort of thing off of. We are rookies here.

However, I'd like to challenge anyone reading this that for one day, just one day, live in the present. I know I'm preaching here and not practicing it as much as I want, but at the same time I am setting this for myself too.  Live infinitely in the world that you're in, and gain some interesting perspective on things.

I've been feeling sort of lost lately; and I don't mean this in some sort of "waah I have no friends" or some whiny way but rather in some deep way, which I cannot exactly describe to someone outside. I want to fast forward to the part where I am where I want to be, surrounded by those people whom I want to be around, but society prohibits that. So I guess for now, I have to live as if I am infinite, until I become finite.