Thursday, May 20, 2010

My Life as the Broadway Musical

The theater, the theater, what happened to the theater? I wish that for at least one day, my life would be like a Broadway musical.  I know that I already expressed this wish in a previous post, but I have renewed the idea because I have found the perfect staging scene: The Hallene Gateway Plaza.  It's this great landscaped area on the edge of campus by the alumni center.  Follow me on a quick sketch of my vision:

So this is the proper entrance for the Plaza:

Nice, right? Kind of park-y but with some great architecture.

Speaking of architecture, here is the building, the Alica Campbell Alumni Center, behind the arch. Notice the great second story balcony; perfect for dramatic scenes or dimensionality.

This shot was taken from the Alumni Center's patio. The fountain is a nice touch right?

Here's a panoramic shot of the fountain with the Alumni Center in the back. Notice the nice short, wide stairs in the background that would be great for a dance routine.

Okay, did you notice the nice curve of the fountain/planter rim? It's really wide and flat, so another great spot for dancers. There is also a secondary ledge around the outside, so even more stage area!

There are even picnic tables ... Think High School Musical "Status Quo"number.

Now, I realize that my dream will most likely never come true, but I have the set and am on the lookout for the signs that a big song-and-dance showstopper is about to occur.

1. The clothing of people around you is all in the same color scheme or similar in some way.  The people also have to be diverse: ethnically, professionally, and physically.  It's a sure sign that the chorus has gathered and is about to let it rip.

2. The people around you start walking or moving in formations.  I'm talking about dance formations, with people equal distances from each other, or an attempt to look randomly placed but they leave enough of a personal bubble that it's not quite normal.

3. This is possibly the most obvious sign: music begins to blare over hidden speakers and everyone knows the song, even if you have never heard it before.  This phenomenon is explored in Disney's Enchanted.

4. If you haven't caught on after those signs, meaning you are incredibly dense, when everyone around you begins to dance and you have the uncontrollable urge to join in, you are there.

Other giveaways:
The marching band that arrives for some unexplained reason I'm sure that the Marching Illini would help me out.
The fountain (a la Sound of Music) How great is the Hallene Fountain?
An open space where lots of choreography can happen Notice the patio, the broad walkways, and the grassy spots

Here's another example that meets all the above requirements.

Another fun example is Michael Buble's "Haven't Met You Yet" music video. I LOVE that song!

Sunday, May 16, 2010

Summer Reading List

The beginning of summer: a time for freedom from homework and academic pressures. But about two or three weeks in I start getting bored, even though I will be working almost 40 hours a week.  This summer I am being proactive about what to do in my free time, so I am planning out what to read.

1. Beginning the list is Jim Butcher's The Dresden Files.  My friend Emily has been hounding me to read this series, and I am intrigued.  The premise is that Harry Dresden is a modern day private investigator/wizard and he fights all sorts of bad guys.  I've read the first book Storm Front, and was not impressed.  But Emily assures me that they get better after the first three (there are 12), so I remain hopeful, plus I read his Alera Codex and was blown away. 

2. Steig Larsson's Millennium Trilogy.  It's a crime series and I don't know anything more about it, except for the fact that they always pop up on Amazon as suggested reading and the titles are intriguing.

3. Devil in the White City by Eric Larson. My mom has been trying to get me to read this book for a while.  It's about the architect of the World's Columbian Exposition in Chicago 1893 and a series of murders that occurred at the same time.

4. Kathy Reich's series about Temperance Brennan.  Ever since I found out that Bones is based on a book series, I have wanted to read it.

5. 1984 by George Orwell.  I read Animal Farm and liked it and have had tons of people tell me to read it.  So I am.

6. Possession by A.S. Byatt.  Two of the Ellens took an class on A.S. Byatt and Margaret Drabble; they couldn't stop talking about it.

7. I took a comparative world literature class and had to read Invisible Cities by Italo Calvino. It was an awesome book and I want to read more by him.

8. The Woman in White by Wilkie Collins.  I first heard about the book when it was alluded to in The Thirteenth Tale by Diane Setterfield.  Setterfield was less than impressive, but Collins sounded interesting, so the next time my friend Renae and I were at Barnes & Noble we both picked up the book and said we would both read it.  Well that didn't go as planned, but now she's started to read it and loves it so far.  Now I have to catch up. 

That's the list of what I definitely want to read.  I will of course read other books, most likely trashy romance novels and snack lit, but the above list WILL be read this summer.

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Bemoaning Buy-Back Season

The end of finals week is upon us and the season of textbook buy-back has begun.  Now, any college student has seen the numerous advertisements for the campus book stores: "The best buy-backs in town" or "55% buy-back, more than any other store."  And sometimes, they're right, but most of the time you can do so much better.

So here are some steps to get the most money for your ex-textbooks:

1. Check the buy-back prices at the campus stores.  I realize I just warned against it, but just check and take note of how much they are giving back.

2. Check major online book sellers like Amazon, Barnes & Noble, and  I personally use Amazon because I know its reputation and have had great success buying and selling.

3. Now compare the prices and remember to factor in shipping costs. I also factor in convenience, so if the prices between the books stores and the online sellers is so close, I go to the campus stores -- it's just easier.

4. When selling to the campus bookstores always remember any reward cards or any coupons to get an extra $2 on your buy-back -- every cent counts.

Now, go sell and get some of the hundreds you spent back.