30 August 2011

Early September Update: Post-Irene

Good news to some and bad to others... Irene barely hit us.

For some reason, almost nothing happened where I live, suburban Pennsylvania. There was a tornado warning from 10:00 Saturday night to 5:00 Sunday morning, but the wind never picked up enough to cause damage. Thankfully our area is not prone to flooding, so once the sun came back out in the afternoon, the ground was almost dry. Best of all, the sump pump was fixed long before the storm hit, and my Playstation 2 is perfectly safe.

But mom and I still had to mentally nurse ourselves. The power never went out, so I calmed my nerves by going through nearly thirty episodes of Inuyasha. Only mom got a few moments of sleep that night, and I plopped dead on my bed at 6:30. Even now, my internal clock is still backwards. After doing nothing on Sunday, we woke up today pretty much back to normal.

Still, I feel for everyone in New Jersey, which really got the brunt of it. This was a really historic week for the east coast: an earthquake in Virginia that was felt up into New York and Irene clobbered us. I won't ask "what's next?" just for the sake of our sanity.

I just wanted to let you all know in case some were a bit worried that Rants From a Fangirl might be dead for a while. Obviously it is not, and I will go back on track to whatever I do... so get back in your cells, my prisoners! :P

As a bonus: this song has been stuck in my head for weeks. Curse you, Ben-chan!!!

"What You Want"

(CREDIT: to Evanescence... about time...)
RANK: 2 out of 5 <-- Try Again

After FIVE freaking years, Evanescence FINALLY released SOMETHING!!!!!!!!!!! (yeah, there was "Together Again", but that's another story...)

My impression of "What You Want?" "...bleh."

You all know how I feel about this band, so I won't dive into what drives me up the wall. Yet my most viewed posts are related to Evanescence. Either you like to read my obnoxious nitpicking, or you like to stick to what's familiar. Whatever the reason is, that is an irrelevant issue here.

As a sneak peak into the new album, "What You Want" is - admittedly - decent on the heads side of a coin. Unlike most tracks off of The Open Door, a balance between the band and Amy exists in a more harmonious manner. In a way Amy's vocals in "What You Want" reminds one of Simone's in "Never Enough" by Epica (check it out.) This in a way is not terrible, because this single sounds more complete and satisfying than anything since Fallen. On the other hand, Amy still dominates so much that my annoyance meter is in the red. A mixed bag is the final result instead of an improvement. Oh well.

The actual music is repetitive and catchy, but not memorable. Feel free to sit back and listen to "What You Want" when your ipod is set on random. No harm done in such a mindless setting, but this song has very little repeat value. No new territory in mainstream rock has been explored, especially when it's needed in this sea of club songs, bragging raps, and tasteless auto-tune. Still, "What You Want" is not "Bring Me to Life" but maybe this marks a chance for rock to get solid footing again. If only Evanescence's new album doesn't suck...

I am not excited about it, but I might check out the new album sometime in the future. My cynical self will not be quick to give Evanescence any praise for originality and authenticity until they fully deserve it.

Once again Evanescence remains stuck in the shadow of European "gothic metal" bands with female singers. Almost every song released by this band can be compared to that of such acts. As a result, people place Evanescence in the same box as Lacuna Coil, Epica, Nightwish, and The Gathering and claim that such acts are inferior. However, one must acknowledge that Evanescence is a mainstream band, at most a gateway towards the aforementioned bands.

"What You Want" made a tiny scratch, noticeable for a short while, on my thick skin, only to heal without a scar. Take it as you will, because I'm not really interested in how well or badly it is received. I do not mean to discourage you from checking this out or having a different opinion; however, I have simply distanced myself from Evanescence on an emotional level a long time ago.

Geez, this song is so bland, I have brought little to the table in terms of criticism. In conclusion, "What You Want" is an Evanescence song, but there is little to no signs of actual growth despite the four-five year hiatus. It makes one wonder what was going on...

Now that this 2-ranked average review is over, time to listen to some legitimately interesting pop music. Oh, Ben-chan! Will you share your new single to the rest of the world instead of letting Japan hog it...?

25 August 2011

[Trying to] Stay Positive

My Mac in a relaxing place...
The inner pessimist in me is trying her best to think happy thoughts as Sunday draws near. No matter how many times we check the Weather Channel, hurricane Irene is still heading towards us with a huge grin. From the looks of it, my area's warning signs are between high and extreme. Great: so much for avoiding Florida at all costs.

Plus... our sump pump is dead. Just in time. Hopefully we can get it replaced quickly, yet not ruining my day with dad that took weeks of planning. Damn Murphy's Law. >.<

I'm sure all we'll get is high wind and lots of water, but it still doesn't help that I have no idea how long it'll take. Looks like I'll need to focus on happy thoughts, like music and anime instead of calm beaches, flowers, and flying poptarts. You know, the stuff that really puts an individual in a good mood?

A bit of light reading during the hurricane, no?
Speaking of which... to get my mind on a higher plane... some random stuff I guess to make my blog less blah with the dark background...

The one collection I'm proud of. :)

22 August 2011

'Finally Free'

(CREDIT: fully deserved to Bentley Jones)
RANK: 4.7 out of 5 <-- Just... WOW!!

Electronic music confuses me. This is a sign that I have to dive deeper and recognize the difference between the various subgenres it contains. However, repetition, simple beats, auto-tune, and multiple layers of electronic noise often tend to be very hit-or-miss. Some acts make music that sounds fine with such elements (Hellogoodbye, Julien-K, etc.) and others make eardrums explode (Kesha, Lil Wayne, etc.) With such a thin line to walk on, does Bentley Jones hang on or fall into a pit?

From the above rank he obviously does it right.

My first experience with his music was "Dreams of an Absolution", credited as Lee Brotherton, as a character theme from Sonic the Hedgehog (2006). Despite the amount of auto-tune that drives me up the wall, there was something that captured the spirit of Silver as a character. The song almost screamed out raw a emotion I often don't expect from electronic tracks. Completely enchanted, I began immediate research and within 48 hours I bought two of his albums. Instead of jumping the gun, I jumped across the face of the Earth sixty times.

As far as Finally Free goes, it tested my overall doubt for electronic music. I honestly do not know 100% if it is "overproduced" or bathed in auto-tune, but Bentley Jones did not completely hide behind an artificial wall. There are several tracks that are beautifully performed and tempt me to not say anything objectively wrong with them. So I guess that means they... moved me? *gasp!* Some heartbreakingly pretty tracks like "Waiting for Clouds" and "Birdcage" tried to appeal to my "dead" feminine side. (Looks like HIM needs to keep this guy on their radar...) I guess this proved to me that electronic music can be as emotional and touching as anything "more genuine" with "real" instruments and singing.

According to a letter written on his website, Bentley worked on this record entirely all by himself, without a record company telling him what to do. EVERYTHING. That's really gutsy and impressive.

Of course, to keep my reputation as an immature unprofessional reviewer, I have to make some criticism. First, don't think you'll fall in love with it immediately. As a hard rock and heavy metal chick, this was absolutely true for me. Finally Free grew on me modestly after a few listens, when I had to bring out my younger pop-loving self inside. At least a few tracks use some rock elements and orchestration pieces to keep a sense of variety. Next, I can't say Bentley stands out completely as a singer. I watched some live clips of him on Youtube and he has a very nice and strong voice, but at a first listen, he might not stand out in the ears of most. This album might be the most honest work he's ever done, but it does not show one thing that makes him very interesting as an artist. Wait until I tackle TRANS//LATION 2...

What I will say though is that the ninth song sounds a bit silly in the verses. I'll bet it was done on purpose, but this - more than a few others - really sounds like a J-pop act. It's interesting, but strange.

Yet, just like Escape the Fate's self titled album, Finally Free is yet another oasis in my dry spell of jadedness. With only one song that screams "evil girl" ("ST4LK3R"), no song sounds artificial and fake, in lyrics and performance. Because there are only nine songs (not including two/three bonus tracks) I cannot provide too many links to spoil the album for anyone. But seriously, if you like electronic music that might give you a sensation of flying [free - bad pun XD], I seriously recommend this album. No, I recommend this to anyone who is curious.

I strongly admire Ben-chan's honesty and effort in this album; it makes me wonder how many musicians would do something like this... Pop, but yet not very popular - practically unknown! Geez, Bentley Jones confuses me greatly... 4.7 out of 5 since I can't think of a honest rank. My music tastes have been put into question... maybe this is a sign...!

19 August 2011

Random Bundle of Fangirlism

If one never knew this before now, then you shall be informed that I'm a city person. I might not have lived in one for more than three weeks but I gain a greater sense of freedom and confidence than if I'm in rural or suburban nowhere. Maybe it's because I can't drive yet and I have no desire to learn how to. This lack of interest places a humungous twenty-foot thick steel wall between my house and where I want to go. No matter how I see it, I must learn how to drive even if I cry like a baby.

Travelling, however, is not the only flaw. The people tend to be more homogenous and identical than a huge mixed group of Asians in the same room (thanks to my Chinese friend and Japanese anime, distinguishing is not as hard as many say...) And when people like the same things, the "minority" have to suffer with hunting hard to find more obscure and less popular things. Thankfully, cities are far more forgiving to folk like myself.

I was so happy to find several things that suburban Pennsylvania would have once in a hundred years. Or maybe I look in all the wrong places.

AHHH!!!! Not my hand!!!!!

A single import from Germany?! I don't care if "Solitary Man" was not my favorite cover HIM did, this was still collectable worthy. From now on if I find another HIM single case, back away from the oncoming headstrong Fangirl!
The one time I could have bought an And Love Said No import, but I had no money with me... :'(

I finally found the Higurashi manga!! These are only part of the Curse-Killing and Eye-Opening arcs, but this is something. Off to find the other volumes...

Found it in Barnes and Noble, thought, "why the hell not?", and bought it. Research is one of Fangirl's closest friends: I might as well be knowledgeable about these dark-loving fellows with a bad rep. Well, it's changing though...

There are other posts about DC soon, like when I visited an embassy of a country I am hoping to visit before I drop dead.

On a different note, I finally am pushing myself to actually make stuff. Currently, I'm experimenting with metal jewelry, specifically silver. Otherwise, I might as well make other, easier things.

"There's no strength in numbers." - Shadow, Sonic the Hedgehog 2006

A poster I felt the need to make for my favorite Sonic character. THERE WAS NO TRACING AT ALL. Using a pencil and grid system helped to make sure Shadow didn't look ridiculously bad. I'm better at cartoony humans, not anthropomorphic animals. XD

Now, to get into making that lanyard for school...

16 August 2011

A Ranting Change of Phase

We all go through them. Heck, it's been a while since I could write something worth my time. My friends have been bugging me to continue and show off a story I have been planning for months; yet, I still cannot get past my writer's block and research mode. Phases are a pain in the butt sometimes, especially when they are unproductive.

I am an individual who has some issues that stifle or halt progression of any kind. As a skeptic at heart, I tend to spend lots of time and energy looking things up, examining technical and theoretical ideas, and analyzing potentially interesting topics. Even when I think about what I want to do when I work, I always lean towards more individual and passive activities that don't require much "doing". In other words, I can see myself being a tour guide in a museum and sharing knowledge with the curious than developing new advanced technology for Apple or NASA. Seeking knowledge and being intelligent are both great goals, but they can be awful for creativity.

Imagination is not what I lack: it's will. I can ramble on with my dad and my friends about what I really want to do, but my laziness and passivity prevent me from allowing my wishes to become reality. I am an artist in the mind, not the body. This is a phase I have been stuck in for as long as I can remember. Without this blog, I'd sit on my ass and play video games constantly. Maybe I would have no will to write at all without this form of expression. So I thank Corrie and Tenebris for your blogs to inspire me to make my own.

What other phases commonly stick like glue onto Fangirl? For anyone who has read this blog for a long time, you might see obvious signs of changing phases. At one point I was talking about Marilyn Manson, another was Buffy the Vampire Slayer, then HIM, then anime, and right now it's video games. However, these might be "brief phases", but they typically are like cancer cells. They are active for a while, but once they are "eaten away" they enter a state of remission, only to reappear sometime later. Call me an unloyal fan or a reminiscing collector, I have carried my love of Harry Potter since 2001 and my like of the Sonic games since 2003. In a way it's better to love something a lot, but put it aside so you don't destroy the lasting effects it has on you. Really, you judge my status as a fan of anything.

Lately, though, I have been wanting to try out some new things I was too scared to do before. Granted, it will take time with all the college planning my parents are forcing me to stay on top of and my periods of complete laziness, but if I push myself enough, I might adopt them into my lifestyle someday. My current ideas for this year include the following:

- learning a new language. I gave up on Spanish because it's too easy and boring for my tastes. Since I made a new friend last year from China, I am thinking of trying out Chinese. It ain't Japanese, something I'm more familiar with, but I'm willing to try it out. Finnish will HAVE to be a personal hobby. After what that one woman said when I was in DC... I'll show her I'm willing to attempt it.

- trying out some DYI. I'm started out small: currently I'm making a poster and playing around with metallic jewelry. The poster is almost done, since it's pretty easy. The jewelry is just a small step into eventually making more things myself. I already made a bag once, and I want to do more. More skills to develop. *whoot!*

- testing out new styles of clothing. Generally speaking, my friends and parents often complimented me in the outfits I put together, which always cheers me up. Now since I'm practically an adult with little parental push towards a certain way of dress, I'm deciding to go back to wearing darker clothes like I wanted to do back in middle school. Lately I have done lots of research through various blogs and - man, I might as well say it.

Since late June, I am becoming more serious in trying out a Goth look. Really, I don't know if I'm saying it right since it's almost awkward for me. Though a lot of research, I know this process will take forever, but I want to try it out. I have looked at various blogs, I have done lots of research. But I need to break the phase of me sitting on my ass and playing around every day. It's something I need to be more comfortable with, even if people will give me even more weird looks than ever before. Thankfully, my parents don't have any issue with my current state of mind, and I love them for it. My friends... oh, that's another story.

In a way this rant is just my way of venting out some of the frustration I've been having lately with my current scatterbrained attitude. I can't let this blog sit around and collect dust, even if I have only ten readers for the rest of my life. Rants From a Fangirl might not be consistent in topics and style, but eventually I will have a better sense of identity and confidence. Maybe that's why I haven't updated much lately. Or maybe I'm just in one of those crappy phases, you know?

Well, it's past midnight where I am, and I really need some sleep. Looks like I need to read my school books tomorrow, or else I'll be cramming at the last minute. Wait, speaking of books for school... I smell a rant that I still need to write about...!

Taking down the demon known as the Phase of Laziness will still be a tough one for me...

15 August 2011

A Rant For Once... By Someone Else...

I'm sorry to you all, but I'm blanking out on rant and review ideas. Just so there is something being updated, here's a rant by a user named NickonAquaMagna2. Maybe later I will add my few cents in response to this. This is a long video but it was worth every second.

Enjoy or ignore: whatever works. :P

07 August 2011

DC Pics A

WOW! Fangirl actually kept her promise to post up pictures she took during a trip? *gasp!* Such a phenomena has NEVER happened before!!!
I have several others, but here are a handful done by a complete amateur. :P

This was a nice park near the apartment complex where I stayed. Just nearby sat the Titanic Memorial in a quiet, open space near the Washington Channel. Too bad some new buildings will be placed around this peaceful area in the next few years. *growls*

Yay to taking pics on a small boat and risk dropping the camera in the water! All for the sake of art, I guess.

Dad loves this shot...

Martin Luther King Jr. will be happy to know his memorial looks nice. All it needs is paint, more sculpting, and no construction tools.

Walked past the Renwick Gallery. The words "Dedicated to Art" written in the center below the roof caught my eye.

Dad holding a leaf. Too bad I couldn't keep this camera. Mine's crappy...

The National Archives viewed from the Navy Memorial.

More of the Navy Memorial. I was practicing taking shots of water.

Next will be pics technically from another country. Though I was still very far from the desired location by over 30 degrees south and 100 degrees west, it's the closest I was to the real deal. *sigh*

06 August 2011

August Update '11

Not dead but aging. XD

Since my last post, I've been going down memory lane and playing some of the few Sonic games I own as well as watching reviews of the more recent stuff. I have a new found appreciation for having just a Gamecube and PS2: thank the superior being(s) I can't play the latest... trash.

But now that I think about it, almost everything I typically enjoy has reached a downhill slope in overall entertainment. It kinda makes me question if it's because of where I am at in my life or because I'm getting jaded. If it's the later, I need to keep child-like curiosity and nostalgia close to my heart. Sure, finding new things and researching them can be fun (at least for me), but I have to look back at what I really used to enjoy two years, five years, even ten years ago. This extends to anything I may have left on the back shelf, completely blanketed in thick, fluffy dust bunnies.

Maybe I should have a month where I rant about nothing about nostalgic things for me... I dunno.

I'm near the end of readjusting to my real house again after DC, but many ideas are flowing through my mind. I hope to get photos up this weekend, though I just planned to make a tiny, flimsy poster for my room. Plus there's a story I want to write, but since creativity is backed up due to severe writer's block, I'm practicing writing on random Word docs. I have books to read for school too. Looks like Fangirl needs to prioritize...

Now that my way of saying "long time no post" is done... adios, readers... if any remain to exist...
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