Month in a Nutshell | August 2015

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Oh no, summer's all but gone! I must say August was rather languid—but in a good way, I think (I hope!).

I was also kind of good at Twitter this month. (Or I was bad at life. Your pick.)

On the blog

That one time I was offline *gasp*

  • (This actually happened on the last day of July, but my July recap was already posted by then, so.) I went to help out at a speech and debate fundraiser—a car wash, actually. I basically stood waving a sign trying to get cars to come over. It was ridiculously hot and I was standing in near-direct sunlight for around an hour and half. So of course I ended up developing a headache? And my eyes started hurting? And...?
  • The Adroit Journal's 2015 Summer Writing Mentorship Program has officially come to an end. We mentees have been happily swapping final portfolios and telling each other how brilliant we are. (Seriously, though. Reading my fellow mentees' work is pretty much getting a free look into the future of the writing world. It's an honor and a joy.) I'm so grateful to Adroit, Peter LaBerge (who runs the journal and the program), my mentor Aline, and my peers for making this experience amazing. If you're going to be in high school in the coming school year—anywhere in the world!—and you write (fiction, poetry, journalism, scripts, experimental prose, etc.), I'd highly recommend applying to this program when apps open in spring 2016. 
  • My month itself was pretty uneventful! I'm gearing up for the school year, spending a lot of time (too much?) at home and/or with my family, and enjoying summer while it lasts.
  • At one point, though, there were wildfires in the mountains near where I live, and some passing winds blew the smoke from those fires into the city. When I say it was everywhere, I seriously mean everywhere. It was blanketing my neighborhood; it was cloaking the downtown area. The air quality got so poor that it was officially labeled "unhealthy." It was a pretty unsettling but interesting experience, I have to say. 
  • I went to a college information session featuring the University of Chicago, the University of Illinois @ Urbana-Champaign, Johns Hopkins University, and Georgia Tech. 
    • I feel like I got a lot of good insights into each school, but I left feeling like the University of Illinois and Georgia Tech really weren't for me. (They both felt really STEM-focused, and while I admire and support anyone working with STEM, I myself don't plan on going into one of those fields. I feel that if I go to college somewhere that's really STEM-focused, then I won't be as much of a priority as STEM students while I'm there. Obviously I don't really want that.)
    • I'd already gone to a UChicago session once before, so I knew that their well-rounded liberal arts-based curriculum really appealed to me, plus I really liked their flexibility and their willingness to recognize a variety of intersecting interests. 
    • But I hadn't known much about Johns Hopkins before the session, so it was really cool to learn that they have a very flexible open curriculum and place an emphasis on research (even for non-STEM students!). They're also a liberal arts school, though not a lot of people know that.
  • I got my schedule for school! I'm taking it pretty easy school-wise this year so I can work on my extracurriculars and Do Productive Things. I also took my school picture and oh my goodness. WHY do my pictures always end up being so terrible?
  • I'm super nervous for sophomore year, though. Oh my goodness. I know there isn't much reason to be, considering I'm only taking two IB classes this year, but I can't help it.

I've been watching

Oodles of good stuff to tell you all about this month! Lots of history, action, gorgeous visuals, and more.

I watched The Bletchley Circle on Netflix this month, and wow. This is such a cool show. Basically, this is a British mystery miniseries set in 1950s England, almost a decade after World War II, and it follows a group of four women—former code-breakers at Bletchley Park during the war!—who solve mysteries together now that the war has ended. Millie, Lucy, Susan, and Jean are linked by their intelligence, their friendship, and their shared desire to make a difference in the lives of civilians, though they no longer do intelligence work for the government (and are bound by law to keep their work at Bletchley Park a secret). What results from this incredibly powerful character dynamic is a clever, twisty, delightfully feminist series of mysteries that is also stunning in visuals and soundtrack. NYT has called it "a clever, entertaining way to pay tribute to women who in their time were often overlooked and underestimated, and nevertheless found ways to never be ordinary," and I couldn't agree more. Definitely a must-watch if you like mysteries, girl power, suspense, great characters, or any combination thereof.

Since one of the movie theaters near where I live has been selling tickets half off for Tuesday showings, my family and I decided to go see the new Mission: Impossible film. Yes, this movie definitely wasn't perfect (kind of generic, honestly, and nothing mind-blowing), and it certainly skated on the surface of ridiculousness more than once. But it was a lot of fun! There's something about the banter, action, and style of the Mission: Impossible franchise that I've always liked.
yay for motorcycle chases

I also watched the animation film Song of the Sea, and oh. Oh my goodness. What a treasure this movie is. I'd HIGHLY recommend this movie for fans of The Secret of Roan Inish and The Tale of Princess Kaguya—this is very, very high praise coming from me, considering how much I adore those two films. But I'm 100% not kidding when I say that Song of the Sea combines the wonder and mythology of Roan Inish with the absolutely brilliant art of Princess Kaguya. The art is gorgeous, the characters are adorable, and the movie is filled with magic and whimsy. Love love love. (Also I love watching non-US animation movies because the way they're approached is just so different and exquisite.)

(On a mostly unrelated note, this was nominated for the 2014 Academy Award for Best Animated Feature along with Princess Kaguya and I'm SO bitter that they weren't given honors. Although the film that did end up winning was Big Hero 6 and I love that a lot, too. So. Tough year, I guess.)

My family borrowed this from the library, and I don't think I was anywhere near prepared for the emotional rollercoaster and intellectual insight that this film would provide. Idris Elba delivers an absolutely magnificent performance as Nelson Mandela, and Naomie Harris gives an equally brilliant one as his wife, Winnie. I think this movie did an incredible job of capturing the blatant racism and violent struggles that the apartheid system in South Africa was both born out of and reinforcing. There's also so much food for thought in terms of violence, protest, and ideals. This is not a comfortable movie because history is not comfortable. But it is, without a doubt, a very necessary film and stunningly executed. I loved it.

We went to see the Korean film Assassination (́•”́‚´) at a local movie theater, which was cool because theaters in my area never show Korean movies. This was was a film about the Korean independence movement against Japanese colonial rule in the 1930s. Jun Ji-hyun (sometimes known as Gianna Jun) stars as talented sniper Ahn Ok-yun and kicks so much butt I can't even. I really appreciated the variety in the characters, as well as the action (Korean films tend to get a little more bloody than American ones, so that was an interesting change). But I think the most interesting aspect of this film was seeing the patchwork of Japanese, Korean, Chinese, and western culture that existed in Korea and China in the 1930s. It was both aesthetically very intriguing (think of all the clothing styles and architectural bits mixing! cultural blending is fascinating oh my goodness) and very cool how all the characters could slip in and out of different languages. Admittedly I had to read subtitles here and there to be able to follow along completely, but I still really enjoyed the movie.

And last but not least, I watched the Cartoon Network series Over the Garden Wall on the recommendation of a friend. I really didn't know what to expect going in, but I came out super happy. This is kind of like a dark fairytale, but with some amazingly odd humor and really pretty backgrounds thrown in. It's fabulous. Wirt (pointy hat) and Greg (holding frog), the two main characters, are utterly adorable to watch, and I love the bluebird Beatrice's sass game so much. (And Wirt is BASICALLY ME.) Here, I'll show you:

Their character dynamic is so precious. Also, yay for magic everywhere. Plus, each episode is only a little over ten minutes long, and there are only ten or so episodes, so you can easily binge-watch the series in one sitting (which I did). 

Help, someone teach me how to Instagram

Remember, I'm @clocksandcages on Instagram if you want to follow along!
look at this gorgeous cake my mother baked. (meanwhile, i was being annoying.)
#bravenewotms is somewhat underway.
udon is my first and greatest love, tbh.

How was your August? Is the school year starting for you? Let's chat in the comments!

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