“Songwriting is a bitch. And then it has puppies”
― Steven Tyler
As I am sure all of you know, the current project in Fitz English is writing a song. I am working alone, and my song is about having too much English homework.
My experience with this project has taught me a lot. First, you should always work alone if you have a really good idea that no one else wants to do. However, you need to be prepared to do a lot of work if you want to go solo. This includes singing and playing whatever instrument you need (I played my guitar, but you can get away with Garageband if you are lucky), as well as the production of the song.
One important thing I learned was to never underestimate the time it takes to record both voice and guitar. I am writing this Wednesday night at 11:16 because I did not think it would take very long, but I was certainly wrong. This takes time, especially if you want to do it well.
And, finally, I learned that I lack singing ability. I cannot sing at all. My only comfort is that I am in a class with peers of similar talent, and hopefully I will fade in with the rest of the voicecracking 8th graders.
Well, here is the song. Please forgive my lack of musical talent, as well as the sound quality. I didn't have a good mike to use at home.
There are six components of wellness: proper weight and diet, proper exercise, breaking the smoking habit, control of alcohol, stress management and periodic exams.
-Kenneth H Cooper
Everyone hates final exams. That is a fact that no one can deny. Final exams are the bane of every 8th grade student here at Fenn. Final exams take innocent kids looking forward to summer and crush their spirit, their soul, and their body in a few days of living hell.
However, despite all this, exams are necessary in the 8th grade. They prepare us for later in life, and keep us focused at the end of the year. Instead of chaos and teachers having no idea what to do, we have kids who perhaps never studied for a test before (ignoring midyears) spending hours staring at their math textbooks, desperately trying to remember the things they should have learned back in September. They bring kids together, and help them finish a year with a bang (hopefully). Exams make kids work and work hard, instead of slacking off.
My experience with these exams have been okay. Like many, I hated them and the studying that is required, and I was very stressed out about them as well. Still, after they were done, I didn't think they were that bad. In fact, last year, all of them were easier than expected. Still, I doubt I would have done well on any of them without studying.
This year will be different. There will be five exams, and English especially worries me. I have always been bad at writing, especially with a time limit. Also, it seems to have the most prep time, with the portfolio and podcasts and such. Also, math this year is much harder than previous ones. I am very bad at geometric proofs, and I will definitely spend lots of time studying in the next two weeks.
Exams are the bane of the life of many a kid, but they are a necessary evil. Finish the year strong, and don't get caught unawares! And remember: STUDY STUDY STUDY!
Ultimately, America's answer to the intolerant man is diversity, the very diversity which our heritage of religious freedom has inspired.
Today, I would like to give you a brief overview of my family. My mother moved here to America to go to CMU, and there she met my father, who is from Oklahoma. I was born there in Pittsburgh, and then we moved to the Netherlands.
That is where I grew up for the first five years of my life, and it certainly was an interesting experience. Unfortunately, I don’t remember too much of it. However, I do remember going on many hikes and seeing many ruined castles on those hikes. In fact, now that I think about it, castles are the Dunkin Donuts of the Netherlands. I also remember going out to a certain windmill (taking care, of course, to not get in the way of the many bicycles that , and buying banana chips there. Afterwards, we would play on field and take our dog to the neighboring dog park.
After the Netherlands, we moved to Arlington. When we first moved, I, of course, had trouble adjusting. Many times I accidentally spoke in Dutch instead of English. Luckily, we spoke English at home while in the Netherlands, so I knew the language well enough. In fact, I also knew a good amount (well, for a five year old) of Cantonese, but I have forgotten all of it, as well as the Dutch I once spoke. Despite the culture shock, I managed to fit in after a while. And, after another move and a few changes of schools, here I am now.
Because my mother still has (just about) all of her family in China, we go there almost every year in the summer. The trip is always great fun, and I learn new things about Chinese culture every time.
The first thing I notice when I step out of the Hong Kong airport doors is the humidity. It really hits you hard if you aren’t used to it. Then you notice the swarms of taxis. The city is full of them, and the numbers don’t decrease when you reach Shenzhen, where most of my family lives. Shenzhen used to be a small fishing village, now it is a city with a population greater than that of New York. Another place we visit is our family’s ancestral home. It is a traditional chinese home (with some modern upgrades, of course), with an open courtyard for collecting rainwater. It always makes me chuckle when I see the Peabody Essex Museum advertising the fact that they have a house like that on display. When we go there we make a trip through some mosquito-infested dirt paths to an ancestral graveyard, and light incense there. The trip is always fun, and I look forward to it every year.
Three (I believe) years ago we traveled to Inner Mongolia, a region of China. That was an amazing trip that really opened my eyes to the new things other places have to offer. There were rolling hills covered in tall grass and cows. At one point, we stopped and ran to the top of one of the (rather tall) hills, and every step we took about 20 multi-colored grasshoppers jumped out of our way. Also, it was interesting to see how the cities gave way immediately to farmland and country. In the US, people normally build houses near cities. In China, however, the government owns the land and wants the most out of it as possible. We stayed in hotels throughout the area, and I am happy to say that (almost) all of them had real toilets. You will often see toilets that are flat to the ground in China, and I really don’t like using those. The best part of the trip was the food. As some lucky people in the Cultural Arts Festival might know, Mongolian barbeque is amazing. They just take meat on a stick, and grill it. Brilliant.
China is a place with a completely different culture, and it also has many sub-cultures within. I am glad that I am fortunate enough to visit every year, and I can’t wait to do it again this summer!
It is posted here, but it is not quite finished. Enjoy!
(note: the name is temporary. We will come up with something better soon.)
I play to win, whether during practice or a real game. And I will not let anything get in the way of me and my competitive enthusiasm to win.
In the sixth grade, I decided to play lacrosse for the first time. it was fun, and I got the opportunity to play a sport I had never tried before. I continued in the seventh grade, and it was still a great sport. Now, in the eighth grade, I still play it and am on JV. This year is much different from previous years, and I am glad I stuck with the sport.
In middle school lacrosse, we did scrimmages and mini-games such as ultimate lacrosse (a mix of ultimate frisbee and lacrosse, in case you were wondering). But, this year, I played in a real game.
The first game was on April seventeenth. It was a very cold day, and everyone was regretting the fact that shorts were part of the uniform. It was an away game at Lexington Christian Academy, and the field was rather bad with many bumps and small hills. The entire JV team was playing, as opposed to normal games in which only two-thirds of the team played in the game. Because of that, there were five lines of midfielders. That meant very little playing time, and a lot of time sitting on the cold metal bench. I only had one shift, and, though it wasn’t the most glamorous, it was still amazing fun. I knew then that I had made the right choice when I picked lacrosse.
The second game was much better than the first. We played against Fay, and we knew going in that it would be a tough match. It was a sunny day, and we were playing at Fenn. This game, there were only three lines of midfielders, which meant I got to play a lot more than I did in the first game. I played pretty well, running the ball end to end and beating quite a few defensemen over the course of the game. We won the game by a decent margin, and I really felt like I contributed.
The third game I didn’t play in. Instead, I had the misfortune of having to practice with Varsity. It was draining. We did a lot of sprints (at least, compared to the norm for JV), and it was clear that the gap between Varsity and JV was large. The four of us were outmatched in all the drills, and we didn’t contribute too much. The game itself was against Carroll, and Fenn lost by a large margin.
The fourth and fifth games were much like the second: fun, fast, and Fenn came out with the win. I scored in the fifth, though the other team’s goalie was on the inexperienced side. Mr. Hall told us to try to score on our off hand, but that was a challenge far above me. The final score was 13-2, and it probably would have been higher if they did not get a handicap. Instead of face-offs, after every goal the other team started with the ball. The game, while not all that interesting to watch, was fun to play as many of their players were capable.
Lacrosse is a great sport that I have grown to love over the short time I have played. I have learned that, in order to get good (well, competent) at something you need to stick with it and practice, no matter how hard, boring, or tiring it may be.
Well, this concludes my attempt at a Fitz-style post that really turned into a JV lacrosse season update. I apologize to all who had to read this meandering piece, and I truly admire your resilience.
There is nothing more hellish than war. The book “All Quiet on the Western Front”, by Erich Maria Remarque made me realize just how hellish it is. Remarque is trying to show the reader the experience of the average soldier, and he did a great job of it. This book truly made me experience the lives of front line soldiers; what gives them joy, what gives them hope, and what destroys that hope.
Paul is a young man, who was swept away by the patriotic surge at the start of the war and joined the German Army. He went straight to the front line, and he, along with his friends, realized that war is not all patriotism and heroic deeds. As the war dragged on, more and more of his friends died off. After a while, he goes on leave to visit his family. While he enjoys the chance to see them, he realized that he didn't fit in with civilians anymore, and he doubted that he, or anyone else in his generation, ever could. He returns to the front line, and there he kills his first man in hand-to-hand combat. That experience changed him, and he knew then that he had to survive the war to make sure the horrors of war are known to all. Later, Paul gets injured and goes to the hospital. After that, he returned to the front line and he witnessed his friend and mentor Katczinsky get killed by shrapnel to the brain. Later, he dies while contemplating how lost his generation is. The report that day from the front line was “All quiet on the western front,” even though a man had lost his life.
The ending was the most powerful part of this book. The fact that a day can be considered quiet and unimportant when a man had died just amazes me. This book really made me think about how inhumane and uncaring people can be. I don't think I could ever order other human beings to charge straight at an enemy across an open field. That just seems like a terrible thing to do. Paul and his generation really was wasted. Only a few survived, and the ones that did saw too much to return to normal life. The war just took so much from them that they could never recover. Paul realized this, but before he could do anything about it he was tragically killed.
I am glad that Remarque wrote this book so the whole world could see how terrible the war really was. The truth about the war needed to get out, and "All Quiet on the Western Front" was a great book that revealed that truth.
As most of you know, in English we have been making movies about All Quiet on the Western Front. My group created a summary of the entire book. Because of time constraints (both time to make it and total movie time), we did have to leave out many important parts. For example, I really wanted to get Winslow in as a French girl, but he seemed to be against that. I am not entirely sure why, but whatever.
I think overall the experience was a good one, though I have a few things I want to comment on. First, our group definitely could've used more filming time. We had many more scenes to film than others, and we actually had to work at scripting them. We did have one extra day, but Ben Sackett (playing Paul) was absent, so the last few scenes are confusing. I think this was a very fun project, but it would be more fun with more time. Fitz, how about some more movie making!
As I am sure most of you know, this upcoming Thursday is the Cultural Arts Festival. Though I don't know what activities I will be doing, but judging from my past experiences it will be great fun and I will learn a lot!
In the sixth grade, I had Sushi, African Drumming, then Yoga. The sushi was great, and I enjoyed the chance to learn a little about music from other cultures. The yoga was alittle dull, but overall the day was amazing (and much better than normal classes).
Last year, in seventh grade, I had the best lineup of anyone. Origami, Sushi, then, to top it off, Rugby. I loved it. It was absolutely my favorite day of the year. Origami was fun, the sushi was delicious, and rugby was, of course, amazing. It was also a nice contrast to the others because I got to go outside.
Overall, the Cultural Arts Festival is one of the best days of the year and I am certainly excited for it. What are your stories from previous years?
Many years ago, in the olden times long past, "gamer" used to mean someone who plays board/war/card/roleplaying games. This is a webcomic from that ancient era, that keeps the Dungeons and Dragons culture alive. If you are interested in that culture, or just want to learn a little more about it, check out the slideshow below. (Note: some jokes may rely on knowledge of ancient, eldritch artifacts such as the things men and man-things once called "dice")