Thursday, June 23, 2011

This Blog is Now Closed.

Hello, Reader!

My name is Leighton - as you could probably tell from my bio on the left hand side. From December 2009 to June 2011, my blog was a source of pop music songs and teen fantasy books that I enjoyed. I wrote these blog entries when I was 15 or 16, so the writing quality is not stellar. However, I thoroughly enjoyed writing these entries and hope that you will enjoy reading them in the archives. I've decided to close this blog (although I won't delete any of the entries or the blog itself), because I no longer have enough time - I'm going to be entering college in the fall. For more complete reasons for why I am closing the blog, see my previous post.

Overall, thank you to my wonderful readers for the 3,400+ views I have so far. Blogging has been a hugely enjoyable past-time of mine. Perhaps I will continue it later on in my life. Anyways, this is the last post. Feel free to go through the archives, thanks for visiting, and I hope you enjoy your stay. If you have any questions or feel the need to contact me, you can comment of any of my posts (including this one). I get comments sent directly to my email, so that's the easiest way to contact me.

Thanks & good-bye! =D


Why I Love #13:The College Application Process

Hi everyone! :) So... it's been a while.

I'm sorry I vanished without saying anything. I've been really busy with end-of-senior-year stuff like studying for my last 5 AP exams & deciding which college to attend. It's been a bumpy ride - this whole college application process - and I'm so glad that it's over. I guess there's no harm in revealing this, but I have decided to matriculate at Vassar College in the fall. It wasn't my dream school when I first started looking at colleges, but it has become my dream school now.

Normally, I would start giving out advice to prospective college applicants here, but I don't feel qualified to do this. Go research on your own, take others' advice with a grain of salt, & definitely visit College Confidential. It's an amazing forum website that is sure to have an answer to all of your questions. And always remember that "brand names" and Ivy Leagues aren't the answer to life. Although they are amazing schools, don't forget that there are thousands of colleges in the United States - and even more abroad. If you've decided to go to college, then I'm sure that there will be a perfect place for you. Life isn't a competition, and there are no winners in the end. (That last part wasn't meant to be pessimistic, it's just the truth.) I guess that my personal advice would be to aim for the stars, but realize how far away they are. High school students with 2400's get rejected from some colleges; and sometimes the college decisions will just seem so random. Perfect applicants will get rejected, and some not-so-stellar students will get accepted. That's life. Go into this process with your eyes wide open to the possibility of defeat. That's what I did. Although I got rejected by numerous colleges, I knew that that could happen, and I couldn't be happier with the college I've chosen to attend.

I've actually grown to love the college application process (not that I would EVER want to repeat it again). I've realized what my strengths and weaknesses are. I've become more organized. By doing all these things to prepare for my college apps; and by searching for the "perfect college" on my own, I've developed a new sense of independence and self-confidence. I've come out of this grueling process - an ordeal in life if I ever saw one - a better person. I know myself better than ever before, and I am also SO happy. I'm happy with where I'm going for college - I <3 Vassar - and I'm so glad that I've managed to succeed during high school.

I've done so many accomplishments in high school that I couldn't have even DREAMED of doing before entering. For instance, I started this blog in December 2009 (my junior year) in order to showcase pop music and teen fantasy books that I loved. I do believe that I've managed to achieve that goal. To date, I've posted over 100 times with various things that I <3. Also, this blog (it's my only one, btw) has amassed over 3,400 views. Personally, I think that's amazing. Thank you to my readers out there! You encouraged me to keep posting - even when life got in the way. And I'm sorry I was so busy during my 19-month run on this blog.

Well, here's a final announcement that you may have seen coming: I've decided to discontinue this blog. It's not because I've run out of things to say, or because I don't love blogging. I definitely do - although it can become frustrating if you think that you're just sending ideas into the blogosphere and no one's reading them. The real reason is because I haven't had time to post in the last several months. With college starting in the fall, I really want to focus on the academics, the intellectual side, and also the social side (the reasons I'm going to college). Basically, I won't be able to fit in blogging on the side. Rather than keeping you going with false hope that I will someday return, I'm just going to say that I'm done. I'm done. I'm done. Nevertheless, I'll always treasure this blog as a remnant of my high school years (which is why I'm not deleting any of these posts or the blog itself). Feel free to comb through the archives for some of my favorite songs and books.

Throughout my years in high school, which have been invaluable, I've learned so much more about myself that I never could have imagined. Blogging was an invaluable way for me to share things that I love with others (you) and also to practice writing. You should try it out if you have any interest in it. Also, I may return to blogging someday, but nowhere in the near future. I hope to continue writing in the future - and also a possible career - which is why I am planning to major in English. I have no idea what the future holds for me - particularly since everyone seems to think that an English major = no job or career prospects. Whatever happens, I know that God will bring me through it. He is the reason I'm here, and I am so grateful to Him for everything He's done!

Well, there's no use prolonging this. Thank you, readers, for visiting my page. After 19 months, this is the end. This is Leighton, signing off. Goodbye and good luck with all of your future endeavors!

Photo credit: What's the Idea? A Brand Consultancy.

Saturday, February 26, 2011

Why I Love #12: Stopping Underage Drinking

"Alcohol? No way!"

This is a "Very Special Post", dedicated to the topic of underage drinking. I realize that this strays away from my normal posts of pop music and teen fantasy books, but I believe that this is a very important topic to talk about. Plus, it's my blog - so I can do what I want with it. <3

We've all seen the alcohol ads, the anti-drinking ads, the teachers talking about it, your peers in school talking about it... there are obviously two sides to the issue. In terms of Freud (we just learned about one of his principles in AP Psychology), the Id is saying "Let's have fun & drink! You're only young once!". The Superego is saying, "No! Drinking alcohol is terrible for you & you should never do it in your life!" The Ego (or compromiser) says, "Wait until you're of legal age before you make that decision". In this case, I agree strongly with Ego. I am very proud of the fact that I have never had a sip of any alcoholic beverage in my life. I actually don't plan to ever drink - even when I turn 21.

In my opinion, drinking (and along with smoking, drugs, etc.) is terrible for anyone. I respect my body way too much to willing ingest something would damage my liver, lungs, etc. As a runner (I'm on the track team in school), I work very hard in order to "stay in shape". My belief in Christianity also plays a role in this. I would never do any type of self-mutilation - and this includes drinking alcohol. Sure, you could have fun & get high off of it. However, it's only temporary, and may lead to lasting damaging effects on your body.

My second thought about alcohol is that it is very dangerous. I hear some of my classmates in school every week talking about parties. I see the photos of them with beer cans / alcohol bottles in their hands. I even see a few smoking outside of school. It's very troubling when one considers all the negative things about alcohol. Besides for the obvious damage to one's body, it also causes whoever is drinking it to lose control of their body, emotions, everything. I've heard horror stories that I won't put here (they're not my stories to tell) about teens who wake up the next day and have no idea what they were doing the last night. Terrible things can happen when you no longer have control, and I never want to wake up in that situation. So I will never allow myself to be put in that situation. I will never drink alcohol. (This is a vow I made when I was younger, and I am very glad that I have kept this promise to myself through high school. I will continue to never drink in college - I'll actually graduate before I turn the legal age of 21. Perhaps then, I will have changed my mind, but it's not very likely.)

Underage drinking is obviously very popular among the teenage crowd. What's worse, I see a glorification of drinking / drugs in the media targeted toward these age groups. Ads, TV shows like Jersey Shore, Pop songs about clubs and drinking, movies, the Internet... all of these glorify drinking, and promote it as a regular activity or phase that every youth is supposed to go through. Along with first dates, high school proms, senior trips, the American culture has put the idea that "alcohol is all right" into most teenagers' minds. I do not accept or promote this facet of popular culture, but there is no doubt that it is present.

So what can we do? Almost nothing. As a teenager, I do not have access to the media or the people controlling the media. I can't go up to the drug addicts in my high school (a perpetual clique in almost every school) & tell them to stop. They probably wouldn't listen anyway. I can't suddenly convince every one of my classmates that drinking at parties isn't cool. (It's scary, but sometimes I see that the most popular kids that everyone wants to know are the kids who are at parties drinking and doing drugs.)

What I CAN do however is use the power in my hands. I am writing this post (using my writing talents) on my blog that I created in 2009. Sure, it's not a standard topic on my blog, but I truly believe in it. Lastly, I made this video about stopping underage drinking almost one year ago. It's seriously the nicest feeling to know that you felt the same way one year ago & haven't changed much. Although my environments & surroundings have changed, my morals and values haven't. I had different priorites and prerogatives back then, but I still felt the same way about underage drinking. In the words of my video - which I created myself for the Courageous Persuaders contest - "Alcohol? No way!" <3

Photo Credit: Jim Benton, the creator of the Happy Bunny franchise.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Ingrid Michaelson - Parachute

~Pop Song of the Day #73~

Meet Ingrid Michaelson, a 31 year-old New York-based indie-pop singer-songwriter. She is best known for her debut single "The Way I Am"- which was featured in a Macy's ad campaign. Her music has been featured in episodes of several popular television shows, and subsequent singles like "Be OK" and "Maybe" have garnered some radio play. Many of you may have heard "Parachute" already on Cheryl Cole's debut album, 3 Words. (Cheryl Cole is the only former Girls Aloud member with a successful solo career while the group is in indefinite hiatus.) Well, Ingrid was actually one of the co-writers of "Parachute", and after the song's success in the UK, she decided to release it as her new single in the US. I can't decide which version I like better...

Tuesday, January 11, 2011

Victoria Justice - Freak the Freak Out

~Pop Song of the Day #72~

Meet Victoria Justice, a 17 year-old American singer and actress who is most well-known for her roles on the Nickelodeon TV shows, Victorious and Zoey 101. There's an expectation that all teenage Nick and Disney stars have to sing in addition to acting and whatever else they do. So I wasn't surprised when I heard that Victoria had a couple of songs out & had sung the theme song to her own TV show (sort of like Miranda Cosgrove and Jamie Lynn Spears before her). In many ways, this song is just another teen pop song. There's not anything special about it, and the video feels too short. However, the song was stuck in my head for weeks when I first listened to it. Overall, it's actually a good song and I <3 it, but it's not the most amazing song out there.

Saturday, January 8, 2011

SoundGirl - I'm the Fool

~Pop Song of the Day #71~

Meet SoundGirl, an up-and-coming UK girl group composed of Little Nikki, Izzy B, and Olivia. I actually featured SoundGirl last post- along with a bunch of other girl groups that are up-and-coming in the UK. I really like this song (obviously), because SoundGirl sounds like they really have their own distinct style. If you want to hear more, there are a couple of more full songs posted on their Youtube page (Walking on Air and the Game). Personally, I love all three of the songs that they've posted so far, and can't wait till their debut album comes out. Go check them out! (Sorry this post is short, but being a new group, their official page & Myspace don't give a lot of info yet.)

Wonderland by Tommy Kovac and Sonny Liew

~Book Review #7~

Well, it's been a while since the last book review. And with this blog getting off-hiatus, I decided that it was time to post a new one. In the several months since the last review, I've read many books that will be the subject of future posts. However, I actually just finished a graphic novel today that completely took me by surprise and overall exceeded my expectations.

When I first started reading this book, I judged it by its cover (Yes, I know the expression...) I presumed that it was simply another retelling of the age-old classic, Alice in Wonderland. I thought that it would simply be a graphic novel with new illustrations / a new story adaption. Plus, considering that it is published by Disney, it wouldn't have any major story changes and would remain true to the original source material.

In short, I was dead wrong. Wonderland was the most amazing graphic novel I've read in recent weeks. The story is NOT an adaptation at all. Instead, it is a completely original take on the story of Mary Ann (the White Rabbit's housemaid in Lewis Carroll's original books) and set in Wonderland. Mary Ann- who was merely a minor character who is mistaken for Alice in the books- is the main character in this six-issue, award-winning miniseries. It was pure genius and creativity that caused the creators of this series to share her story.

The story / plotline was spectacular. We're introduced to new characters (such as the Queen of Spades) and old ones (the Mad Hatter, the Cheshire Cat, the White Rabbit are all present). And the writer actually stayed true to Lewis Carroll's "nonsense" world. There were clever puns throughout the book, and there was a perfect balance between having a plotline that moved forward splendidly and a world that did not make any sense in reality. The art was just as amazing. The characters were all drawn very cutely- with cartoon-like expressions. However, there was much detail put into the backgrounds of the comic and such. I could tell that the artist labored over every single panel. Each page looks like it could be hung on a wall or displayed on an art museum.

Overall, if you're a fan of the original Alice in Wonderland, this book is a must-have! I admit I don't follow the comics world as much as I used to, but I really should have heard of this book before!

5 out of 5 Stars. Completely Recommended!!

Photo Credit: Cover of Wonderland by Disney Press / SLG Publishing company.

Wednesday, January 5, 2011

Upcoming Girl Groups of 2011!

~Pop Song of the Day #70~

This is actually my 100th post on this blog. Whoo!

So to celebrate, I decided that I wouldn't just post one song this time. I found this great Youtube video that showcases a few of the new up-and-coming girl groups in the UK with their debut singles. With the Girls Aloud members going off on their own solo projects, it's time for a new girl group to take charge! Needless to say, these songs sound amazing. (Unfortunately, while girl groups have found much lasting sucess in the UK and Asia- to name a few places- the fall of PCD and Danity Kane in the US does not bode well for future girl groups here.) It's such a shame. Hopefully, some of the more sucessful girl groups in other countries (like 2NE1 or the Saturdays, for example) will cross-over to the US soon.

Monday, January 3, 2011

Avril Lavigne - What the H*ll

~Pop Song of the Day #69~

You have to know who Avril is. She was my favorite singer before Ke$ha came along. I have all 3 of her albums, and love almost all of her songs- even though she changed genres from punk-rock to pop-rock. It was the longest wait ever for new music from her... she's literally been working on her new album for 2 years. I hear that it's going to be very acoustic, so this single is probably the only mainstream song on it. Her label definitely wants at least one chart-topper, since it is unlikely that the other songs on the album will chart high since they won't be pop-rock. But hey, you never know. This song is absolutely amazing. There are literally no words to describe how awesome it is. I've been listening to it on repeat every since it premiered on New Year's, and can't wait till her new album comes out. Whatever genre she's doing now, I'm sure that it will be awesome. Enjoy! :D

Why I Love #11: Pretty Little Liars vs Gossip Girl

In my time zone, tonight was the season 2 premiere of Pretty Little Liars- a typical teen drama show that won many fans last year (summer 2010) when it debuted. I'm not to lie... this has been my favorite show ever since Dollhouse on Syfy was canceled. (By the way, I will probably post a review of Dollhouse sometime in the coming month.) Anyway, I am completely convinced that Pretty Little Liars is the best show on television right now. Granted, I don't watch that much television. I think the only currently running shows that I am watching right now besides this one is Glee, Young Justice (series premiere on Friday!), and sometimes Gossip Girl.

Believe it or not, when I first started high school (3 - 4 years ago), Gossip Girl was at the height of its popularity. It used to be my favorite show actually. I mean, there was the concept of a hidden blogger called "Gossip Girl" who would talk about the scandalous lives of Manhattan's elite. It sounded cool, and it was... for a while. I basically stopped watching this season. The reason is- the show is no longer as fun as it used to be. The first season was undoubtedly best SPOILERS. I will undoubtedly remember Serena whispering to Blair "I killed someone." right before the season finale for a while to come. Who could forget the creepy, eerie music that followed that statement either?

That first season was awesome. Unfortunately, it went downhill after that. I hated how the writers felt the need to pair every character on the show with every other character. I mean love triangles are fine, but sometimes, it felt like the writers at the studio were just picking names out of a hat and then make them into couples. After a while, the story no longer interested me either. Unlike other teen dramas, Gossip Girl literally has no drama. The most that happens is Georgina Sparks swoops in for a season finale and then takes off again. Ugh. Her character is so awesome, too. The most dramatic thing that happened last season was Chuck's death... and he didn't even really die! Hilary Duff brightened things up for a while (I'm a huge fan of hers), but ultimately, this show just lost it sparkle.

On the other hand, getting back to topic, Pretty Little Liars is chock-full of drama. NO SPOILERS HERE. The basic premise is that there were 5 best friends, but the Queen Bee- so to speak- gets murdered! (Right there, that's more of a plotline than an entire Gossip Girl season.) It turns out she was keeping a secret, since one year later, the other 4 best friends start getting dangerous texts from a person named A. And this mysterious person just starts to ruin their lives. It's not that difficult since all 4 of the girls have their own secrets to hide. I never read the books, so I can't compare the TV show to them; but I absolutely love the TV show! Every episode has a lot of "scary", suspenseful moments, and the plotlines/characters are amazing. Meanwhile, the mystery behind it all will leave you wondering "Who is A?!" Overall, if you haven't seen the show already, then what are you waiting for? :D

Five Stars. Completely Recommended.

Photo Credit: Pretty Little Liars advertisement by ABC Entertainment company