“The Spiderwick Chronicles” by Holly Black and Tony DiTerlizzi

This series was fun to read. I started it last year but stopped when I realized that it’s broken up over several books. It was annoying to finish one book and have to wait until I purchased the other to continue. Of course, I could have read the e-books but since I began with a physical book, I wanted to continue with that trend.

Quick summary (some spoilers):

The Field Guide
The Field Guide

Book 1: The Field Guide

When the Grace children move to their great aunt Lucinda’s abandoned Victorian house shortly after their parents’ divorce, they are introduced to a world of strange creatures. In this book they meet the house brownie Thimbletack, who seems to have gone slightly mad from living alone in the old house for so long. When they arrive at the Spiderwick estate, their Mom orders them to begin cleaning to make the house livable. While doing so the children discover Thimbletack’s home in the wall. However, they didn’t know it was someone’s, or rather something’s, home so Simon and Mallory destroy it throwing most of the contents in the garbage. Thimbletack takes offense to this and assaults Simon and Mallory. Since Jared always got into trouble at the old house, his Mom automatically assumes that he is abusing his siblings. After discovering Arthur Spiderwick’s field guide of extraordinary creatures, Jared becomes convinced that they had upset a brownie. With advice from the field guide, the Grace children are able to appease Thimbletack.

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Captured Moments and Richard Estes

I’ve been a slacker. Back in 2013, I vowed to improve my knowledge of art and art history because they are subjects I love. I wish I had studied them while in college. Unfortunately life and procrastination has caused my efforts to self-instruct to dwindle.

In October 2014, I decided to push myself harder in my independent artistic studies. This new fervor was ignited by an article on Richard Estes on Smithsonian magazine’s website. I had no idea who Richard Estes was but the photo of his painting was enough to convince me to visit an exhibit of his work at the Smithsonian American Art Museum. The photo of his painting seemed to be a photo of a photo, and I disbelieved that it was of a painting. Hence my decision to visit the exhibit was more for proof than to gain any sort of artistic instruction.

After showing up at the wrong museum, I finally found my way to the Smithsonian American Art Museum and slowly browsed other paintings before visiting Estes’ exhibit. All the while, my music blasted in my ears (something by Jamaican dancehall artiste Vybz Kartel, which is probably highly out-of-place for a museum excursion) and I slowly danced from one painting to another until I danced up to the entrance to Estes’ exhibit.

I actually read this time. I usually don’t read much at museums, which means I miss a lot of useful information. Usually, I dance from painting to painting (I always have music blasting in my ears while at a museum), lingering over the ones I admire while wondering what drove the artist to create the piece, how did the artist apply his medium, and how long did it take to complete, amongst other thoughts. But this time I paused my music. I was enraptured by Estes’ work. The reason being that even with his huge canvas of the Brooklyn Bridge in front of me, I still found it hard to tell that his piece is a painting rather than a blown-up photo.

Richard Estes is a photorealist painter. He was born in Kewanee, Ill., and studied fine arts at the Institute of Chicago. After graduating, he moved to New York, where he worked as a freelance illustrator and graphic designer at various magazines. At night, he would work on his paintings, which later became his full-time career.

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Scandalized Thoughts

Finally, I’ve gotten through season two of Scandal, the T.V. show everyone’s talking about. Scandal first aired in 2012 with my girl Kerry Washington as the star—Olivia Pope. The show is a political thriller and is said to be based on Judy Smith, a crisis manager and former press aide for the George Bush Administration. Olivia Pope, like Smith, is a crisis manager, a.k.a “fixer,” for those who find themselves in deep shit—a scandal. She is also in love with the President of the United States, Fitzgerald Grant, and runs off to have an affair with him every now and then. She too was a press aide and she worked on the President’s election campaign back in the day (that’s when they met).

Scandal is an addictive show that keeps you on the edge of your seat throughout. At the end of each episode, you anxiously await the next one to air. This is why I had to wait until the end of the season to catch up. I watched the first season on Netflix. It was good and I was interested because it’s based in Washington, D.C., though we hardly see the characters in any credible place in D.C. (The Union Station metro didn’t look like the one in D.C.) We just know it is D.C. because of the snapshot photos used to transition the scenes. I know the photographer has his work cut out. I hope he enjoys it. Though I liked season 1, it wasn’t enough to pull me and make me want to revisit the show for a second season. I wasn’t planning to watch but word-of-mouth (i.e. Facebook and Twitter) bit me in the butt and made me peek at the first episode of season 2. I was hooked.

I decided to try to catch up so I could participate in the conversations flowing on my Facebook TL about the show. Things went great until a few episodes before the end of season 2. I then began to become troubled by the show, or rather viewers’ comments. From the conversations I’ve peeked in on, everyone seemed to revere Olivia Pope even her staff, which blindly follows her for a while. Of course, it’s not entirely the viewers’ fault for revering Pope. She has qualities that many would love to possess—independent, confident, smart, etc. Also, the show does a great job of making the viewer sympathize with Pope and hold her in a positive light no matter what she does; after all, she always seem to have a good reason for her actions. For example, Pope causes a rift in her friend’s (Abby) relationship but that was done for an apparently good reason. Abby could not be with the David Rosen, the district attorney, because she was leaking valuable information that would have ousted the Defiance incident that Pope and her conspirators were trying to keep hidden. Even though this bad act was done to cover another bad act – Defiance – Pope is still casted in a white light because she didn’t want to go ahead with the Defiance incident (which we learn later); PLUS, she saved Lindsay Dwyer (a.k.a. Quinn Perkins) so really, she shouldn’t be blamed.

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