Monday, March 31, 2014

THE WEDNESDAY WARS Book Review

Let me be honest with you.

I've been hanging around The Wednesday Wars for a while now, reading the first couple of pages and thinking, Where on earth is this going?  And putting it back on the library bookshelf.

But finally I manned up, checked it out, and read it, and I honestly think it's one of my favorite MG books now.



The year is 1967, and Holling Hoodhood's English teacher hates his guts.  He just knows it.  Little does he realize that staying in Wednesday afternoons with Mrs. Baker will lead to adventures with yellow tights, overfed rats, and...Shakespeare?

The Characters
What I Expected:
I thought that Holling would be--here we go again--the stereotypical Diary-of-a-Wimpy-Kid cynic (man, I have low expectations).  I thought he would rebel against any form of authority, like his English teacher, Mrs. Baker.  

What I Got:
Holling.  Is.  Amazing.  He's a totally kool kid (I know, I said the same thing about Sean last week, but Holling really is amazing.)  He's very ideal MC material, and as this is a character-driven novel, he has this hilarious knack for getting into mishaps and mayhem.  This is a character-driven novel, and Holling's antics take you on quite a journey.

The Plot
What I Expected:
I thought that it would be a hilarious book dedicated to describing Mrs. Baker's and Holling's war.  On Wednesdays.

What I Got:
It turned out to be so much more than middle school blues.  It's 1967, so the Vietnam War is going on, and things are getting heated up in the US.  Holling doesn't steal the Crown Jewels or anything--the book depicts his normal life--but his messes at school are enough to keep a person busy through the entire 264-page book.  It's not one giant story so much as it is little anecdotes from a normal kid's life that just happen to blend together.

What I Didn't Like
  • I feel like many books in today's society focus on doing justice to the Democratic Party.  The Republicans are portrayed as the firm, line-drawing elephants that keep society from expanding.  While this wasn't as prevalent in The Wednesday Wars, it was still there.  It wasn't any fault of the author's--he was just stating his opinions--but I disagree.  (I also don't want this to turn into a political forum, so I'm stopping right here :)
Additional Notes:
  • I hated the characters of Holling's parents, but they were necessary.  
  • Don't expect Mrs. Baker to be a Mr. Terupt-esque teacher.  Because she isn't, and I grew to love her all the more for it.
  • Holling and his sister share a stereotypical love-hate relationship.  I was going to put this under What I Didn't Like, but then I realized that their relationship is quite realistic, and it added humor (and meaning) to the story.
  • The historical aspect of the story was an awesome idea on Mr. Schmidt's part.
  • I really wanted to eat those fried bananas.
Rating: 5 out of 5 cubes
I'm being very gushy right now, but seriously, I don't know why I waited this long to read it.  Read it!

**Note: My MMGM reviews will no longer be posted on this blog.  Next week, try this blog (opening to the public on April 6th, 2014).  I'll be featuring Walk Two Moons, by Sharon Creech.

Any thoughts, recommendations, or suggestions?  Comment below!  (But please make sure to keep your comments constructive and encouraging to others!)


Sunday, March 30, 2014

TRAPPED Sunday Serial Part 17 FINALE

Part Seventeen: THE FINALE
“No.” I bite the words down. “I will not. Steal. Anything. For. You.”
Her eyebrows raise, and Courtni gives a low moan. “Emily,” my sister says. “Do whatever she says.”
“No. I'm done doing whatever she's telling me. What everybody else is telling me.” I stomp my foot, aware that I look like a toddler throwing a temper tantrum. “I'm not doing what Amber Talina Sharpina Harttmin tells me to do.”
“Then I can have your family put away in a chamber and you'll never see them again.” She draws the word out.
“I have a couple of hundred animals, a six-year-old who was on the cover of People, and a bunch of friends who can kick backside.” I gesture towards Slick. Kenneth. The Kennedys. “You're not exactly in a position to argue.”
Her eyes narrow. “Just do it.”
I almost laugh. “You think I'm that weak, Amber? That weak? I'm a wimp, I admit it. But I've gotten stronger. Just because somebody has the ability to intimidate me doesn't mean I'm going to back down. Give me my family, or I'll sic some of my buds Oliver and Germy over here.”
“Germy?” asks Kenneth as Amber shoves my family at me.
I shoot him a look. “You got anything better?”
He just laughs. “No, Emily. You're boss.”
A little bubble of pleasure wells up inside me.
“One problem.” Amber speaks, and the side of her mouth quirks up. “How are you going to keep track of these two thousand people? You can't exactly bring us all to the police station. Guess you're going to have to let us go.” She toys with her long blond hair.
I look at Mrs. Kennedy.
She puts two fingers in her mouth and whistles.
Police cars, the SWAT team, and a bunch of army limousines rush up.

I cross my arms and look at her, my own smirk lighting up my face. “You were sayin'?”

EPILOGUE

“How do you do this?” I ask Kenneth Pearson, looking out the window. A bunch of screaming girls presses their faces against the tinted glass of the limousine. “Like, live with this? Breaking girls' hearts every day?”
“Flappy Bird.” He holds up his phone. “My life.”
“Autograph that, sell it on eBay, and you'll probably make around a million dollars,” I tell him.
He gives me a look. “You really think I'm going to do that?”
“No.” I've learned that Kenneth Pearson isn't really a ratty guy, despite his acting reputation. Actually, he's one of my best friends.
The limo shudders to a halt, and the chaffeur opens the door.
“Make sure that they don't stampede over me,” I tell Kenneth nervously as I walk down the aisle to the door.
“Are you really going to start that up again?” He slides his phone into his back pocket.
“No.” I grin and hop out.
The cheering hits me like a wave, and the girls start screaming, “E-MIL-Y! E-MIL-Y!” Of course, when Kenneth gets out, it's all over, but it's nice to know that the name Echo didn't catch on.
I walk up the red carpet, fidgeting with my sky-blue sequined dress and wobbling on my heels. My leg healed nicely, despite the fact that Amber hit it multiple times.
I start up the steps to the “Phantom FunPark Phantom-Free Pavilion,” which the owners instated after our little incident. The PFP PFP (as it's commonly known) includes a couple of rides, a haunt-free pizzeria, and a TeenZone, which is admittedly cheesy but better than the Phantom FunCoaster. Kenneth and the Kennedys—who arrived in their own limo—join me at the top. The owner of the PFP PFP says a little speech and gives Kenneth, Slick, and me giant scissors to cut the rope leading to the Pavilion.
With one slice, the red ribbon is cut, and the crowd cheers voluminously. I'm grinning so much, my face aches.
Then the owner asks me if I want to say anything. A pang hits me, and I cower in terror for a moment. Why do I always have to be chosen, picked out of a crowd? Why am I regarded as the “heroine” of this whole incident, anyway?
Maybe because I learned to speak up.
The thought gives me strength and steadies my wobbly ankles.

With a smile and a resolution, I step up to share my humble thoughts with the world.


Friday, March 28, 2014

Life And Its Upheavals

Welcome, again, to Rcubed's random world, where citizens never know what will happen or what will disappear or what will change.

Today's post is dedicated solely to the fact that I am rearranging my blog life right now.

#1:  I deleted Lily Potter's Journal.  I just didn't have the time or drive to finish it; plus, my writing voice was all off since I haven't read Harry Potter in a while.  HOWEVER, there is good news.  But hold on.  Wait.  

#2: I am stepping back from Entertaining Reads, the joint blog Elise and I ran together.  Elise will still post on it, but I will no longer be a part of that, unfortunately.  What with the Sunday Serial, Polar Opposite, and everything else, I do not think I can manage.

#3: I am recreating this blog, and creating ANOTHER blog  (yes, another one).  Why?

I was given some advice to narrow down the topics on this blog.  In case you didn't know, I post about:

  • Music
  • Movies
  • Books
  • Food 
  • Jesus
  • Life
  • Sports (occasionally)
  • Everything I'm thinking at the moment
  • Writing
That's a lot of stuff, and I was advised to cut some of the topics down, since I might run the risk of losing followers. (For example, if I had just posted a Jam of the Week and somebody went on my blog and didn't follow me because A, they didn't like music, and B, they thought I posted about music all the time.)

But I couldn't cut any of my beloved topics down.  SO, upon MORE advice, I have decided to create another blog.  

THIS blog (Random Rants by Rcubed) will be for 
  • Life
  • Jesus
  • Everything I'm thinking at the moment
  • Writing (I am going to keep the Sunday Serial and post Lily Potter and other writings on this blog)
The OTHER blog that I'm creating (Rcubed's Reads and Reviews) will be for

  • Music (my Jam of the Week will be posted there)
  • Movies (all my reviews will be transferred there)
  • Books (all my reviews will be transferred there, and I hope to regularly participate in Marvelous Middle Grade Monday fun)
Rcubed's Reads and Reviews will be much more organized, much more scheduled than Random Rants by Rcubed.  
  • Marvelous Middle Grade Monday will be posted on Mondays.
  • Movie reviews will be posted whenever I watch something (I like this part because I can beg my parents to drag me to The Muppets and call it "research for my writing career").
  • Other book reviews (for example, YA book reviews) will be posted on Thursdays. 
  • Jam of the Weeks will be posted on Fridays now.  
  • I'll also include articles about sports and such on there, but only occasionally and very businesslike-ly.  
This blog will be definitely more formal than Random Rants by Rcubed.

Also, because it's going to take some time to transfer everything onto Reads and Reviews, I'm going to make the blog soon, but it'll be private.  Then, on Sunday, April 6th, I'll release the contents into the public, and everything'll be game.  So I have about a week to do everything.

Can i do all this?

I sure hope so.  

This blog will be pretty scrambled up too, so if something strange happens I'm very sorry, but I am NOT a techy person.  I barely know how to post a picture on Instagram.  Hopefully nothing bad will happen.

And hopefully in a week, you'll be rid of this strange, weird, businesslike Rcubed, and you'll get the fun and enthusiastic one I'm sure you prefer.

Also, I probably will not post as much.  I'm posting every single day right now, and I honestly don't think I should do that because that's just...well...too much for both the reader and the writer.  So don't expect posts every single day on this blog :(  

That's all for today!  Go out and BE STINKING AWESOME!

~Rcubed~




Thursday, March 27, 2014

Zee Official Change (And Some Other Stuff)

Hello, dear readers!

I've been regulating and scheduling blog posts so much lately that I decided to throw in a "life" one to twist things up a bit.

On The Agenda for this post:

~New Name for my WIP~
~Zee Ridonculousness of Commercial Dieting~
~Zee Good Advice~
~Zee New Blog Layout~
~Zee Marvelous Middle Grade Monday~

(Sorry, I'm feeling French today)

New Name:

If you've followed my blog for a while, you'll know that my WIP is (was) named Snow in July.  While it's a decent name in itself and sums up what my manuscript is about, Tessa Emily Hall (who orchestrates the WriteNow program I'm currently part of) had the opinion that my other name for it--Polar Opposite--is better.  SO...I am changing the name from Snow in July to Polar Opposite.  I will henceforth refer to my main WIP as Polar Opposite or PO (not BO, PO).  It might be kind of confusing at first--just a heads up :(

The Ridonculousness of Commercial Dieting

Let me just say, Bolt was an OK movie.  That was back when animation companies actually came up with original *sarcastic gasp* ideas for their movies.  Hence, the word ridonculous.  

(How come pigeons are always the comic reliefs?)

(By the way, I'd rather eat pigeons than escargo.  Birds over snails?  Yaaahhhhhh...)

On Tuesday, my Health teacher (the ever-famed Mr. G) talked about commercial dieting.

He put up a bunch of ads for those get-thin-quick dieting procedures, and we laughed at them together.  It was incredibly fun, to laugh at the ridonculousness of commercial dieting, and the ridonculousness of American society.  It was especially ridonculous because all of it was true.  We ARE lazy, fat people who pin blame on others and who want to "melt our fat away" by--what else?--doing nothing.

Some awesome inventions were:

The Fat Burner: (literally)  All you had to do was sit in the living room, watch TV, and let the device do its work.  According to the "thermagraphics" of the chart, this nifty invention heats up the areas of your stomach, "effectively burning" your fat away.  

I can't even...Seriously...This is...like...

The Shakeweight: Apparently, when I was in fifth grade, this was a popular invention.  You just move it around for six minutes a day, and you get lean arms!  (OHMYGARGOYLES THAT IS A BREAKTHROUGH)

The funny part of it was the fact that everything they put on the ads are generic.  For example, clinically proven...(in what clinic?  A high school cafeteria clinic?  Your mother's stepaunt's kitchen?  What makes a clinic?)  Or recommended dieting program?  Who recommends it?  The makers of the pill?  Al Capone?  Bill Gates?  What does recommended mean, if the manufacturers make it?  If you think about it, what IS life?

I think they need to pin regulations on those type of things.

Also, if you're feeling bored, Google "quick dieting programs," click on the ads, and laugh at the ridonculity of humankind.

Zee Good Advice

I'm getting very good advice from Tessa Emily Hall, a 20-year-old YA Christian author, and founder of the WriteNow critiquing site.  For $20 a month, Tessa Emily Hall critiques 950 words of your writing and provides added services, and I've already gleaned a lot from the program.  For example, the name--Polar Opposite--and also personalized training in writing.  One of my main downfalls is being verbose and putting too many adverbs and adjectives--telling, not showing--and she's helping me with that.  Plus, it's cool to have correspondence with an author :D

She's also been telling me to build an audience, so I've been trying to shop around, following other blogs, getting my name out there and also reading other bloggers' writing.  She also inspired the new format for my blog, which leads us to...

Zee New Blog Layout

According to Tessa (it feels funny calling her Ms. Hall), my blog with the starry background was kind of loud and distracting.  So I picked a background from ShabbyBlogs.com and added it.  It's kind of a vintage-y background, but I found one that was playful and mellow at the same time.  As you can see, the background's a tad too small, but I think the overall effect is nice, and the simpler layout makes it a little more sleek.  I think I'm going to keep it this way.

Zee Marvelous Middle Grade Monday

Shannon Messenger, author of The Keeper of the Lost Cities trilogy, always holds Marvelous Middle Grade Monday on her website.  She takes links from people who write middle grade book reviews and posts them on her website.  Since I had planned on posting my book review of I Support Sean Rosen on Monday, I thought, Why not participate in MMGM?

And I did!  And the reception was good, and this upcoming Monday I'm posting a book review of The Wednesday Wars, by Gary Schmidt.  If you have a book you'd like me to review, send me an e-mail at randomrantsrcubed@gmail.com.  Or if you'd like to participate in MMGM yourself, check out Shannon's instructions here.  

That's it for today!  Go out and be awesome!

~Rcubed~




Wednesday, March 26, 2014

Everything Is Awesome

Everything is awesome....

Unfortunately, I don't think they had the good version available on Spotify, so I have to be content with listening to Disney Channel songs.

But anyway.  To business:

I *FINALLY* saw The LEGO Movie.

Really, their title couldn't be any more uncreative, but the weirdness in the movie makes up for the boring title.  They couldn't write a title to fully capture the abstract-it-y of it, so they just settled for The LEGO Movie.  I get it.

What I don't get is the fact that I liked it.  

Let me get this straight.  I wanted to see The Muppet Movie.  I wanted to see it really badly, so when my dad announced that we were going to go see The LEGO Movie instead, I was all, ARE YOU KIDDING ME?  I'D RATHER STAY AT HOME!  

My English teacher and then my friend had told me that it wasn't a very good movie, so I was expecting the worst of the worst.  You get what I'm saying, right?

I LIKED IT!

The anticlimactic-ness, the understatement in everything.  It was funny!  Sure, it was weird.  Sure, my teacher said that the people who wrote it had to be on drugs.  BUT I LIKED IT!

The LEGO Movie follows Emmet, your typical average brainwashed construction worker with nothing special to his personality.  He works at the construction site run by the (evil) President Business and listens to instructions in the "How To Be Cool" book--just like everybody else in the city.  Then he finds a special brick...and his entire world flips upside-down.  Full to the brim with pirates, unikitties, and name-changing love interests, The LEGO Movie actually delivers...on its own terms, of course.





Boasting a cast of veterans in the movie industry, The LEGO Movie stars Chris Pratt (Zero Dark Thirty; Moneyball), Elizabeth Banks (The Hunger Games; Pitch Perfect), and Will Ferrell (Elf; Megamind), as the intriguing LEGO people.  The special effects were kind of dizzying, what with the flying detached parts, but I guess that's kind of the point of LEGO animation.  I also thought that the live-action part at the end was a nice touch.

In terms of the movie itself, it was decent, actually.  Why?  It was funny.  It was lighthearted.  It was a good message--stereotypical in that it told you that you were special, which is the theme of every other animated movie out there--but since it's true, you can't really argue with it.  The plot was very abstract, but I actually kind of liked it.  And I got it.  And everybody else in the theater got it.  So, really, that's all I can ask out of a children's animated movie.

Morally, it was a children's movie.  So it was on pretty solid ground.  You're special.  You're one-in-a-kind.  And I liked that at the end, the bad guy...well, I don't want to spoil it.  But it held a strong message.  And it wasn't too scary (not too scary).  There were also plenty of machines, and all that kool technical stuff.

Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars

Overall, everything was awesome!

Monday, March 24, 2014

I Represent Sean Rosen Book Review

I went to the library on Friday and started to binge on MG books.

When I was shuffling through the New Arrivals section at my library, this book popped out at me:



So I looked inside the front cover and liked what I saw.  And I just finished the book, and all I can say is...KOOL!!!!!

Sean Rosen is your average podcast maker with a GREAT idea that just might possibly change the entertainment industry forever.  If he can get somebody to listen to his idea, then he might make it in the big world.  One snag: he's thirteen.  But with ton of ambition, lots of awesomeness, and just a pinch of luck, he might actually make this work...

The Characters
What I Expected:
Going into this book, I thought it was going to be a typical, Diary-of-a-Wimpy-Kid-esque book, full of innuendos against middle school and everything that goes into it.  I thought that Sean would have a prejudice against life, and that he would be obnoxious and get rejected abruptly (and painfully, for the reader).

What I Got:
Let me just say it first: Sean is amazing.  He's incredibly smart, he's NOT annoying, and he doesn't have a prejudice against middle school!  He isn't obnoxious, and nothing in the book made me cringe.  Sean is incredibly sensible and--I could say--mature for his age.  He's slightly clueless, but it just made his character seem more real.  

The supporting characters weren't very prevalent in the book, but there were a lot of them.  I loved Sean's parents, and his friends (Buzz, Brianna, and Ethan) were pretty kool too.  Their presence was kind of abstract, but it turned out okay.

The Plot
What I Expected: 
I thought that he would learn that he didn't know everything, and that he would grow and mature through the book and become a better kid at the end.

What I Got:
The plot is unpredictable, and it totally works.  Sean's ideas are so--fun, and he doesn't just sit around thinking about what to do--he actually does them.  Jeff Baron, the author, added a nice twist with Sean's podcast-making hobby.  I learned a lot about the entertainment industry, and I thought that the "writing screenplay" bit at the end was unique.  It showed that his ideas had finally ended up somewhere.

What I Didn't Like
  • The supporting characters were very just...supporting.  It was mostly just about Sean.  He doesn't have a main best friend, and it seemed like the author added Buzz, Brianna, and Evan to fill up the story with realistic stuff.  They didn't really add up to his main goal...
That's basically it.

Notes:
  • He has...ahem, interesting relatives
  • His parents are pretty awesome
  • There isn't a predictable crush thing
  • He's creative
  • It's not a laugh-out-loud funny book, but it's funny in its own way.


Rating: 4.5 out of 5 cubes

GO READ IT!  And I'm definitely going to check out the sequel.  

**I don't always do Marvelous Middle Grade Mondays, but next week I'm planning on writing about The Wednesday Wars by Gary D. Schmidt

Sunday, March 23, 2014

TRAPPED Sunday Serial Part 16

Part Sixteen

My heart gallops as fast as those people coming at us are running.
“We're not done for.” Mrs. Kennedy has a lazy grin spreading across her face. She stomps her foot.
The thundering footsteps grow louder and louder until the sound makes a heartbeat of its own in my chest. I turn.
There are giant wild beasts—dogs, cats, elephants, crocodiles—stomping towards us. Amber's two thousand people turn, and we all watch them as they advance.
“We're underneath the giant lab.” Mrs. Kennedy speaks, and a grin splits her face.
My face is going to burst with relieving joy. “Oh my word. I thought we were done for.”
“We're not going d0wn without a fight!” Amber shrieks, and the entire space becomes a whirlwind of blood.
“Go to the animals and use them!” Mrs. Kennedy tosses out thin whistles, and I start to run through the crowd.
Somebody grabs my hair, and another person yanks at my arm. Some man dives for my leg, and it buckles in pain.
“So this is what it feels like to be you!” I shout at Kenneth, who's miraculously free of people and warding them off.
“I've got experience. Use their energy against them!” He knocks out a guy cold with a slick one-two.
Use their energy against them? What does that mean? I'm contemplating just kicking them in the stomach when fat fingers encircle my throat, cutting off my air supply.
I'm trapped.
My body relaxes, my throat pulsating for air. My heart goes into overdrive.
Must—have—air. My thoughts grow foggier and foggier, but just as I'm about to black out, the fingers slip slightly.
Instinctively, I jerk out of their grasp and hit the ground running through the people going berserk.
Gulping in great quantities of air, I reach a giant German shepherd and haul myself up.
“Oh, no you don't!” Amber snarls. I kick her despite the fireballs exploding in my right leg.
Oof!” she lands on the ground.
My CommChip blares. “Use the animals to surround them,” Mr. Kennedy orders.
Got it. I slap my dog. “Go to the outside of the circle, boy!”
I see Slick riding Oliver; Kenneth on a giant tabby. Mr. and Mrs. Kennedy are riding an elephant—how they got onto it, I'm not sure. But as the wind whips by my ears, I catch a motion out of the corner of my eye. Mr. Kennedy leaps from the back of the elephant to the back of a monstrous Chiuahua that's yipping and yapping everywhere.
My heart swells with something—pride?
And maybe, just maybe, love.
We gallop to the edge of the people, who are useless. Some of them are waving around guns, but with a multitude of animals, there's no use. And besides, these creatures are huge.
I wonder what they give them. Steroids?
Slowly, ever-so-slowly, like an amoeba, we squeeze the people into a giant blob. The animals surround them, and all five of us get off.
“What do we do now?” Kenneth asks.
The answer hits me.
I heave back onto my German shepherd and yell, “AMBER TALINA SHARPINA HARTTMIN!”
Silence.
The crowd ripples slightly, and Amber's blond head appears.
I look down at her, thinking I've never seen her look so small.
My heart softens.
She's just my age.
But then she kicks my dog's leg with all her might, and any pity I have towards her disappears.
“Why?” I yell. “Why all of this? For money?”
I gesture to the vast underground canyon. The animals. The people, huddled into groups. I'll bet my PFP baseball cap that many of them don't even want to be here.
“It's survival,” Amber says coldly. She cocks her head. “Like you would know anything about that. You have everything handed to you on a silver platter. That's why you can't think for yourself.”
I can think for myself, thank you very much.” My name isn't Echo.
It's Emily Hudson.
I hate Phantom FunPark.
Why am I sitting on the back of a giant German shepherd? Talking to a deranged girl who convinced me to join a conspiracy?
Suddenly my body droops, and any adrenaline in my body drains.
My eyelids drop, as if Amber put twenty-pound weights on them.
I can't do this anymore. I can't.
“I knew from the instant you set foot in Phantom FunPark, you were a wimp.” Amber spits the word out, like it tastes bad. “A big, fat, plain old wimp.”
“Excuse me, wimp is selling for big bucks these days.” Kenneth gives me a quick look as he talks. “Ever heard of Jeff Kinney? Greg Heffley? Diary of a Wimpy Kid?”
Her lip curls. “I bet even if Echo did have a diary, she wouldn't have anything to put in it.”
“That's uncalled for.” I slide off the dog and put my face in front of hers until we're practically nose to nose. “Yes, I actually would have something to say. Maybe I didn't before, but now I do.” I pause, my heart soaring. “What did I ever do to you, to deserve this? What did we ever do to you? You want our money, take it? But why drag me and Kenneth and everybody into this? What are we to you? You still haven't answered that question, you know.”
She gives me a really? You're that dumb? kind of look. “So you can go out and do things that I can't do. You know the world. You and Mr. Bored could steal stuff. I couldn't. I have other responsibilities.”
The nerve of this girl. But at least she's given me the last piece to this puzzle.
Wait.
“And how exactly would you make us do the stuff you wanted?” I ask.
“Really, Echo?” She snaps, and the entire crowd stiffens. “Bring in the other three.”
The other three.
No.
It can't be.
Chills rush down my spine.
The crowd parts.
Dad, Mom, and Courtni walk down the aisle, their heads hanging.
Amber's full-on grinning now. Like she's got me in a corner. Trapped. “So, Echo,” she says coyly, glancing at my parents and Courtni, who look dazed, if not in shock. “Feeling up to stealing something for me?”

**FINALE: Next Week!**


Friday, March 21, 2014

When Your Brain Hurts, You Post Pictures of Whipped Cream

Dear Fellow Achers of Humankind-

I feel bad for people who go to dietitians.  I'm not exactly sure what goes on when they see a dietitian, but it can't be anything good.  Not after what I just went through on CalorieKing.com.

See, it all started on Monday, March tenth, when Mr. G (my ever-famed, ever-fabulous Health teacher) assigned us a food log.  (*red light alarm number one*)  For the next six days, he said, we'd keep track of EVERYTHING we ate--EVERYTHING EVERYTHING EVERYTHING--on a food log.  

Oh, and not just everything--the AMOUNTS of everything that we ate!  (*red light alarm number two*)





To be honest, I thought it was going to be hard, but actually, if I spent five-ten minutes at the end of the day just writing down everything I ate, it was pretty easy.

Turns out, the whole "keeping a food log" thing was the EASY part.

(*red light alarm number three*)

The following Monday (the seventeenth), he passed out a couple of other papers.

Turns out we're going to count the calories of EVERYTHING we ate during the six-day period.

(*red light alarm number four*)

Oh, yeah.  And we'd have to count the grams of fat, sugar, protein, carbohydrates, AND water (consummation of liquid) as well!

Yaaaaaaaay.

(*red light alarm number five*)

Oh, yeah, and he gave us a Food Log Analysis sheet that includes (but is not limited to):

Count of Total Calories, Fat, Sugar, Carbs, Water, and Protein for each day
Average Daily Caloric Intake
Average Daily Fat Gram Intake
On a day-to-day basis, how close I was to my basal metabolic rate (BMR)

(*red light alarm number six*)

I obtained a free app called FatSecret and had this little fourteen-year-old delusion that I was going to whup those calories off the page and into the awesome zone (don't know what I just said there, but it sounds good).  

(*red light alarm number seven*)

Um, maybe not.

I'm including the steps that I have to do in order to earn the sixty-some-points this food log is worth:


  1. Keep track of food log, getting stamped for work every day 
  2. Make seven charts for recording nutritional input
  3. Copy EVERY SINGLE FOOD DOWN onto those seven charts 
  4. Find the calorie, fat, sugar, carb, and protein count for each of those little foods
  5. Record the total number of calories, fat, sugar, carb, protein, and water for each day.
  6. Record it on Log Analysis Chart.
  7. Answer questions.
  8. Carefully put every single paper ever used in the food log project into a specific order.
  9. Create cover page (typed, with Title, Name, and Period number).
  10. Staple everything together.
(*red light alarm number eight*)

Ten steps.  It doesn't look easy written like that, but when you actually have to DO everything?  

My word, it's torture.

Especially finding the nutritional information of everything.

Mr. G advised us to take a picture of the food wrappers we ate, or keep the wrappers themselves, in order to keep track of everything.  Unfortunately, I was rather lazy and looked mostly everything up on CaloreKing.com or FatSecret or Google.  

However, there are exceptions to every rule.  I looked on the whipped cream bottle.  However, it was a long and perilous journey.

(*red light alarm number nine*)

First, I looked on my food log sheet and saw that I had eaten whipped cream (with applesauce).  I started to type it into the CalorieKing search engine and found that all they had was "heavy whipping cream."  I then typed it into the Google Search engine, but halfway through I decided that I was being a fat, Writer's-Tush-infested stereotypically lazy adolescent girl.  

(*red light alarm number ten*)

I told myself that I would look on the whipped cream bottle itself.  This decision forced my legs into action, traveling down a flight of stairs, through a hallway, and into the kitchen for the bottle of whipped cream.

(*red light alarm slowly blinking*)

Deciding that I didn't want to rely on my somewhat absentminded memory for nutritional information, I ran the bottle upstairs, and I calculated the calories.  The units of measurement were different, so I spent some time converting.  After that, I let it sit while I jotted down nutritional information from the other foods.

(*red light alarm flashing and blinking*)

Then, believing I needed a quick "exercise break," I ran the bottle back downstairs.

I progressed for a while until I came to another spot in time and space where I had eaten whipped cream.

(*red light furiously blinking, flashing, and wailing simultaneously*)

I sat in a slight daze before running downstairs and grabbing it again.

After converting those measurements, I progressed for a while, then decided that I had nothing better to do for break than to run the whipped cream bottle downstairs.


(*alarm overheats*)

(*alarm explodes*)

(*scatter my ashes over the Mediterranean, okay?*)






After you've conditioned at tennis, drawn a diagram for Biology, and already completed two front-and-back pages of caloric count, there's really little you care about.  Because if I were in my right mind, I would want my ashes to be scattered over the Pacific.




Thursday, March 20, 2014

Sunday Serial #4 SYNOPSES

Heddo, everybody!

See the poll on the right side of the blog?  I thought that since TRAPPED is almost over, I'd get a head start on the next Sunday Serial.

So, as mentioned in my prior post, here are the synopses for each of the separate Sunday Serial ideas:

The Party Snoopers

James Harshell and Kerri Benedict are the Party Snoopers, Incorporated--they plan the party (because criminals can never resist a good birthday bash), capture the crook (because the party is just a trap, after all), and collect the dough (what's hard work without a little reward?).  Join them as they tackle on their biggest case yet, involving a wedding, a couple of mischievous ring-bearers, and...rock stars?  **Told in alternating first-person perspectives

Hi, I Parodize

At school, Bridgite Dyer is the weirdo who hangs out at the library and sings too much.  At Conwell High School's Parody Club, she's the "it" girl--the one who has the talent, voice, and the personality to make it on the acclaimed show America's Next Top Parodizer.  But what happens when the show is canceled?  How will Bridgite pursue her dream?  **Told in third person

Drawn by Delylah

Anything Delylah Meyers hears, she can draw.  
That's right, hears.  Delylah is blind after a freak accident, but has the ability to interpret sounds as curlicues and figurines.  When the art teacher Mrs. Leane discovers Delylah's talent, she's determined to make Delylah into a star artist.  But what happens when Delylah's sight is...restored?  **Told in first person narrative

Music, Magic & More

Hancell Burton knew he never belonged in the real world.  So when he's kidnapped and brought into a world of harmony, melody, and music notes, he completely buys it.  Until he discovers that his regular best friend Jennings Bradbury was transported to Melodica as well--and that when a true human enters the land, Melodica's musical future--formerly predictable--is now left up in the air.  **Told in first person narrative

I'm altering the poll's closure--last votes can be cast on Sunday.  Vote for your favorite now!

~Rcubed~

Wednesday, March 19, 2014

Writing Updates, Pt. 2

I've got (pretty) exciting updates :D

This is only a quick post saying something about what I've actually been doing with my writing.


  1. I joined Tessa Emily Hall's WriteNow site, and I just sent in the first four hundred words of Snow in July.  She's going to send me feedback, so it's going to be interesting to see what she thinks :D
  2. I entered Go Teen Writer's 1000-word contest, but nothing is probably going to come out of it.
  3. My post "Mediocre" was considered for publication on the Rebelution Blog, and although nothing came of it, it gave my confidence a boost.  I also entered an article about Andy Mineo's song "Young" and the industry of Christian contemporary music, but due to the fact that CCM is sometimes considered a "gray area," I don't expect anything to come of it either.  
  4. I'm currently at the 38,000 word count for Snow in July--and I'm only halfway through writing it--so I'm super excited (considering the last draft was 42,000 words in total).  Although I don't want to make this book Harry Potter-sized, I was aiming for something over 42,000.  
  5. I'm going to start writing the new Sunday Serial.  Vote on the poll on the side of the blog before it's too late!  I'm going to slap together a synopsis post on those.  
  6. TENNIS KING is releasing on Entertaining Reads--so CHECK IT OUT!
  7. This blog is hit 8000 views, which, although most of them are rigged by spamming sites, is still fantabulous.  THANK YOU for all of it!
  8. And...dundundundundun...
In order to read the last (and, in my opinion, most exciting news) update, click the link below.  Instructions on reading the post (as it's rather long):
1) Skim the first couple of headings.
2) Stop at the list of names and read until you find Rcubed, and look at the number of points I have
3) Scroll down until you see the heading "Last Week's Winners"
4) Read the "Third Place Winner (#1)"
5) Read the segment below it, which says "Congratulations, so-and-so"
6) Read the name

CLICK ON THE LINK vvv





~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~CLICK ON THE LINK AND DO AS I INSTRUCTED OR YOU WILL SUFFER MY WRATH~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~




~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~CLICK ON THE LINK AND DO AS I INSTRUCTED OR YOU WILL SUFFER MY WRATH~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~





~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~CLICK ON THE LINK AND DO AS I INSTRUCTED OR YOU WILL SUFFER MY WRATH~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~~





In case you cheated and guessed and scrolled down, OK, fine, you're right.  I won third place out of about ten people, which is pretty good but not great.  But considering my last week's entry didn't even get an honorable mention, I'd say that this is a pretty good jump in the standings :D  And the button you see on the sidebar --> is a memento (if you will) of that contest.

If you go back to that post and click on the "Comments" section, you can read my entry for this week's prompt and even enter yourself!

THANK YOU ALL SO MUCH FOR BEING AWESOME, and I'll see you later :D

~Rcubed~


Sunday, March 16, 2014

TRAPPED Sunday Serial Part 15

Part Fifteen
With one swift motion, Amber Talina Sharpina Harttmin tosses the grenade to the side and pulls out a red button. Mrs. Kennedy squats into a defensive position.
A slow smile spreads across Amber's face. “Don't even think about it, Aunt Martina,” she smirks, her thumb hovering over the red button. “This button will initiate explosion immediately. And I happen to have a force field surrounding me, so I'm not scared. Let me just tie you and little helpless Echo up and leave you for the grenade.”
Mrs. Kennedy puts her hands up. “We're dusted, Echo.”
Fear clings to my heart. What's happening? What...?
My heart pounds, and my temples throb.
Amber grabs the rope she was formerly bound with and starts to tie me up. As soon as the roughness hits my skin, an inspiration hits me. My muscles tighten.
Please let this work, please let this work, I think as Amber winds the excess rope around my arms.
“Why would you do this?” Blood is rushing through my head. “All of this? I know you want us for your colony. Why?”
Amber gives me a look, like she knows that I'm stalling. “You only have two minutes to live. Why should you care?”
“I want to know the truth,” I blurt out. “Didn't they teach you anything in colony school?”
She moves on to tying up Mrs. Kennedy. “I suppose you're right.” Amber heaves a giant sigh. “I wanted to bring you guys to the colony, steal everyone's money, and use Oliver to our advantage.” Her blue eyes regale me coolly. “Happy?”
Oliver?” I ask and swing my head over to look at Mrs. Kennedy. Mrs. K looks down. “What does Oliver have to do with this?”
Amber laughs and tosses her hair. “Giant dogs come from giant labs which produce giant products that will help change the world as we know it.” Her eyes take on a dreamy glaze. “Can't you just see me, as tall as the Statue of Liberty?”
This. Is. Insane.
I struggle against my bonds. “This cannot be happening!”
“On the contrary, Echo.” Amber cocks her head. “This is happening. So face it. Have a nice last minute of your life.”
She tosses the button to the side and starts running.
I relax, and the ropes slacken against me.
I slip out of them, aware that Mrs. Kennedy is watching. “Let me get you out of this,” I say, searching around for a sharp object.
“Forget it.” Mrs. Kennedy's teeth grit. “Go after Amber. We can't have her stealing Oliver.”
“But the grenade--”
“Throw it in the water. That should do it in.” Mrs. Kennedy stares at me. “Go, Echo.”
Adrenaline pumps through my veins. I grab the grenade and the button and start running towards the pool of water.
Amber has a head start, and she's almost at the edge of the water.
My heart shrinks a little bit at the sight of the giant body of liquid. I can't do this. I can't. I can't.
Then Mrs. Kennedy shouts, “GO, ECHO, GO!”
Her voice reminds me who I'm fighting for, why I'm doing this.
And the grenade is beeping its last seconds of countdown.
With all my might, I run forward and toss the grenade and the button into the water.
Then I jump right in.
The waves wash over me, and the grenade sinks to the murky depths. It doesn't explode. Good. I inhale a gasp of air.
Amber is a whirlwind of water flailing, and as she gets away from me, my heart tightens.
No. I can't let her.
I start swimming as fast as I can. I don't know how. I think I'm doggie-paddling. But I'm swimming! I'm swimming!
I'm only halfway across the pool when Amber collapses, dripping wet, onto the other side.
Come on, Emily Hudson. You can do this.
I start swimming tentative strokes as Amber sprints for Oliver, who's standing there blinking innocently.
“OLIVER!” I shriek desperately. “COME!”
He perks his head towards me, but his feet don't move.
Amber pats the dog. “Nice Oliver,” she coos.
I'm almost there.
My heart is racing, and I'm not sure if I'll make it.
“OLIVER, COME!” I call again in a calmer tone.
Amber is trying to hoist herself up onto his back, but it's clear she has no idea how to do it.
Almost there--
“OLIVER!” I yell.
He turns his great dog head towards me and starts to walk.
“No! No! Come back!” Amber's pleas fall on deaf dog ears. “Oliver! I have a treat!”
He's still walking towards me. I'm swimming desperately, mentally crossing my fingers...
I'm there! I don't waste any time resting. I turn to Amber as I hop onto Oliver's back. “I'll see you later.”
“No you won't.” Amber executes a perfect karate chop to my right leg.
My injured leg.
“Ow!” I feels like my leg is on fire, and I'm sliding—sliding—until an arm grabs me.
I turn around and look into the gray eyes of Kenneth Pearson. “What—what—what are you doing here?”
“It's like you forgot all about the CommChips.” Kenneth gently drags me back onto the dog's back and turns to Amber. “FYI, I have a third-degree black belt in taekwondo. And a fourth-degree in talking your ear off.”
“I was featured in the magazine, remember?” Slick's voice pipes up.
“And I have the most credentials.” Mr. Kennedy's low rumble hits my ears, and I sag in relief. “Taekwondo, jiujitsu, and hot dog eating.”
Amber is surrounded. Slowly, ever-so-slowly, she raises her hands.
And points to the side. “THEY'RE HERE, DAD! MOM! COME AND GET THEM!”
We turn as a multitude of people charge at us, their footsteps sounding like a stampede of wild elephants.

I suck in a breath. “We're done for.”