Saturday, 26 June 2010

Freedom Feels Pretty Good



Let's see, where shall I start. It's been an excellent couple of days. I had my last ever - I repeat, ever - exam at school on Wednesday. I was looking forward to the day, thinking it would be one of happiness and celebration. I didn't expect to feel sad. I've spent seven years of my life at that school, [almost] every single weekday I've spent six hours in that building. I've made some fantastic memories there, and it hit me that I never ever have to go back. I did revise a little bit for General Studies in the end, but not too much. I'm really not making excuses, but you really can't revise for it. Unlike the General Exam the week previous, I was pretty pleased with how this one went. One question was 'How far should we believe the media's representation of the economy's 'bleak' future?' and the second question I did was 'How far do you agree we should admit our failures?', or something along those lines. I had loads to write about, which was good. But the 2-hour exam started at 1.30, and the football started at 3.00 pm. By 3.20, we heard the cheers from the PE teachers watching the game, and knew we'd missed a goal. You don't get to see England score many goals these days, and missing one isn't good. I haven't really been watching the World Cup, but when I got home, I watched the second half of England's game, and it was actually brilliant. I was quite surprised. And I'm glad we're through to the last 16. Anything could happen now.

Thursday and Friday were awesome. Both days I set my alarm early, having plans to get up and get going, maybe going to the gym or whatever. When my alarm went off, both days, I listened to a song on the radio, then turned it off and went back to sleep for a couple of hours. I felt so good. Thursday I went shopping with Mum, and got some awesome new summer clothes. And some new Converse - they're dark blue low tops, and are sweeet. And some swimming shorts. And some new sunglasses. It was a good shop. Then Friday... what did I do yesterday?! I'm pretty sure I didn't do much. Ohh yes, I got up, watched TV, then played on the Playstation, and then had a shower before going out with the missionaries for an hour. Then I came back home, and played piano for about 90 minutes. I love playing. Now it's summer, I wanna play a lot every day, and really get into it and learn as much as I can. It feels great to play.

Last night, I went round Teddy's and watched Avatar with him and Laura. We went to Sainsbury's and got snacks before watching, spending far too much money, but it was fun. The pic at the top of this post is us in the supermarket. We found Nando's crisps! It was actually a lot of effort to balance my phone on the shelf and put it on self-timer, but it was worth it to get the pic! Haha! We got back, made smoothies, and then snuggled up and watched the film. It's so epic, but so long. And it felt good to snuggle up. For the most part, I was snuggling to Laura. It was just so comfy! Haha. It was a great night. And the film looked phenomenal in hi-def. Then, an early start this morning for work. By early, I mean quarter to 8. OK, early for me. It is difficult working an 8-hour shift every week, but it's good money.

Summer is really exciting. There's so much I wanna do before I got to the States. But it's dawning on me how enormous a change it's going to be. On Wednesday, I had to say goodbye to one of the girls in my year - Sarah - who I've seen every single day for seven years! She was in my form Years 7 - 11, and stayed on to Sixth Form. She's going travelling with her boyfriend around Europe over summer, and coming back after I leave, meaning I literally might never see her again. It's so sad. And today was the last day I'll ever work with Jake, one of my absolute best friends. We've been working together every Saturday for nearly two years, and he's flying out to the States for a holiday on Saturday, meaning I'll work every weekend over summer without him, and then I leave as he gets back. And Mike too, he's flying out to the US tomorrow, and I might not see him again for a year. It's so crazy, and so sad, and so scary. And so exciting to be going to BYU. It's an enormous, incredible change, and will be absolutely brilliant. I can't wait. It's just sad to have to actually say goodbye to people...

Still, I've got all summer ahead of me to hang out and chill...

Tuesday, 22 June 2010

One More Chance For A New Divide

Last summer, I started mashing Bloc Party's 'One More Chance' with Linkin Park's 'New Divide', after listening to them and deciding they'd probably go well together. A year later, now my exams are out the way, I've finally got round to finishing it. It's definately not perfect, but I think it's pretty good. What do you think of it?

Sunday, 20 June 2010

The Atonement, The Gospel, The Plan

In our Elders Quorum lesson today, we discussed the Atonement of Christ. We actually got to talk about it, and how incredible and phenomenal it is. Christ went through unimaginable pain and anguish, and experienced every, single, person's physical and emotional pains that has ever lived on Earth, and ever will. He bled from every pore, and went was mocked and humiliated. Because He loves us. Because it is essential for us. He has the most vital role in the Plan of Salvation, and didn't let the universe down during His mortal ministry. And after all this, all he asks of us in return is to have faith in Him, and keep His commandments. Even the commandments are there for our own benefit, to help us obtain as much joy and happiness as is possible in this life.

"Yea, come unto Christ, and be perfected in Him, and deny yourselves of all ungodliness; and if ye shall deny yourselves of all ungodliness, and love God with all your might, mind, and strength, then is His grace sufficient for you,that by His grace ye may be perfect in Christ..."
-Moroni 10:32

I love the Gospel of Jesus Christ so much. The Spirit in class was so strong today, and even now as I write this post, I feel so peaceful and happy. It's important to remember the important things in life, and to take out time to ponder these things and feel the Spirit. Like Jake said a couple of weeks ago, it can be so easy to forget times we've felt the Spirit, because there's not an organ to physically feel it and remember it - that's why we need to feel the Spirit every single day, through earnest prayer and scripture study. I really wish I could just sit down with all my friends and explain everything from the beginning. The Gospel is perfect. The Church is true.

Exams. (Almost) Done.

It's been a very good, but very stressful and very busy couple of weeks. Revising every day. This week I had the rest of my important exams - Media, and C3 and C4 Maths. And I had General on Monday, which was so crap. But, I had another blessing Monday night before my important exams, and it amazes me how much the Lord blesses me. I go into the exam calm, and, after a prayer at the beginning of the exam, open the paper. The exams all go so well - General Studies last Monday was the first exam I had where I literally couldn't think of enough to write. Thank goodness BYU doesn't accept it. Yeahh, Tuesday was a busy day - I had both Maths and Media exams both at the same time, meaning I had to do one, and then sit in isolation before I began the next. Amber took all the same subjects as me, meaning we both had those exams at the same time, so we sat together after Media and revised Maths while we were in isolation. We were talking to one of the external invigilators who had to accompany us, and make sure we didn't call anyone to get the answers to the Maths exam. But both exams went so so well, and I walked out of them confident and happy.

C4 Maths was the hardest exam of them all. Wednesday and Thursday I spent hours revising, doing questions, and learning the methods. Thursday evening I went to Teddy's house, and revised with him and Danielle. We had such a laugh there, almost in tears at points, just bouncing off each other's comments. We went through two question papers, and took it in turns to do questions, helping each other with them. I decided that what I didn't know by then, I wouldn't know. Although saying that, Friday morning (the exam was in the afternoon), I did learn how to integrate a^x, which becomes a^x.ln(a). This came up in the exam, so it was perfect to learn it an hour before the exam started. I could do all the questions in the paper, except question 5a (I think?), and 8. Question 8 was differential equations, and I took one look at it and went back to the questions I previously had trouble with. But I missed out on 14 marks, meaning if I got absolutely everything right that I did, I got 81%. But I reckon I got a solid B, which I'm so so pleased with.

Just one more to go.

Friday, 18 June 2010

Achievements



Sunday was a pretty special day. In Sacrament Meeting, I got my award for completing my Duty To God. I managed to finish it Monday evening, just before my birthday. I was really excited. It feels good to get it all done. I'm the first person in my Stake to complete it, since it was released in its current form back in 2001. So, I went up and collected my medallion from Dad.

That evening was the Seminary graduation - and I've finished four years of Seminary. That feels like such an achievement; I remember my very first every Seminary lesson, getting up early in the morning, and thinking, 'I've got four years of this ahead of me...' Thankfully, I only did that one year of early morning, and did the next three years home study - which too was so difficult at times. But, I've finished it now, and as a graduate, I got to talk at the Graduation. All eight graduates spoke. I spoke about how it can be so difficult to live in these times as a youth, with your friends doing one thing and you doing another. I said how you need that constant encouragement, and constantly need the Spirit with you to help you, guide you, and support you. Jake spoke after me about how perfect and amazing the Gospel is. It really is. The Spirit was so strong in the room. And I love that's I've got a really good friend who's so strong in the Gospel.

IMRSTBFYSRN



Guess what? I'm in Kerrang! this week. And guess what else? The FYS music video is out. It's really good. It's not actually released as a single until August, but the video is finished, and everyone in it has got to see it. It's being promoted on the Kerrang! homepage, and you can see it here. But actually, I suggest you watch the HQ vid from this link - it should start downloading and playing when you go to the link.

I come in a 2.04 from the left clapping my hands, and then you can watch me move through the crowd throughout the rest of the video. Check out the pictures:


Here's 2.04:



In the crowd at 2.42:



At the end of the video, 3.09:


You get to see Dan smash up the guitar he's playing, which I wrote about here. That was so funny - he really smashes it. It was so much fun to be a part of the video. And I guess you'll be seeing me on Kerrang! and Scuzz over the next few months! It's so awesome.

And the shoot got a section in this week's Kerrang! mag (Issue 1317, p12):

That's me, in the red circle (bottom right). Yeaah, I'm not really 'in it', but you see the main pic? I got pictures of them taking that picture...


It's really great that the videos done. Make sure you check it out.

Eighteen



Is this my first blog post as a legal adult? Let me check... Yep, it is. That's pretty cool. Last Tuesday, I turned 18 years of age. That's really cool. I spent all day at college, diligently revising for my exams, and then went home opened some awesome presents, and continued revising. That's the reality. But what can I say, it was a great day - I had a Subway lunch (Melt, double cheese, and BBQ sauce), and went out in the evening to a restaurant with my friends to have the best Indian food you've ever tasted. Here's some pictures:




And yes, Teddy did buy me a new iPod Nano, 5th gen. Freaking ridiculous, but it's so awesome!

Monday, 7 June 2010

Today, I am a boy. Tomorrow, I will be a man.

Can you believe I'm gonna be 18 already? That is crazy. And awesome.

All last week we were on holiday from college, enjoying the amazing sunshine rarely seen in England. I'm glad I did enjoy it while it lasted; it's been cloudy the last couple of days. I spent time last week laying out in the sun, 'revising'. Actually, I really have been revising, because I've got my last A2 exams next week, and I seriously can't afford to screw them up. I need to do the best I can. I'm spending a lot of time doing maths papers and questions. I've got C3 and C4 maths, two General exams, and a media exam, and then my academic life as I know it will be over. I actually enjoy doing maths, when I can do it. When I can't, it sucks. And right now, I really hate media. I could start venting about postmodernism, and how ridiculous some media theorists are, but I wanna chill out right now. They want us to be creative, but we've got to follow a set of rules while we're being creative. The course is just ridiculous. But, I know I've got to learn what they want me to learn, and then tell them what they want to hear. It's not worth screwing up at this late stage. But laying out, feeling the sun's heat on my skin last week was brilliant. I really wanna to get a tan for summer, and for BYU. That would be great.

On Wednesday, my friends and I went down to the park and hung out there. Do you know the giant hamster wheels that kids can run on? Well, while I was down at the park, I wanted to break my personal record for number of times gone upside down on this giant hamster wheel - where you lay on it, and someone spins it. My record before was 35 or something, and on Wednesday, I managed - wait for it - 101. I was so dizzy, but it was so much fun. I got out of the wheel, and tried to stand up, but fell into Chris and couldn't get up! Haha! We got it on video. I'm uploading to Facebook right now. If we're friends on there, you should definately check it out. Then we all came back to my house to have ice cream and cheesecake, and watch Junior Apprentice. That show is so funny. They're too young to be taken seriously...

Thursday morning, I went out for breakfast with one of my very good friends, Laura. It was really great. We went to McDonald's (I got pancakes :D), and just sat and talked for about 90 minutes! She's so much fun to talk to. We only stopped talking because she had to go to work. We talk about everything. And we've decided we need to go to Thorpe Park and Alton Towers before summer is over. That's gonna be awesome.

Then on Friday, I spent all day up in London at the Four Year Strong music video shoot. That was brilliant. I started a group on Facebook for everyone who was in the video, and so far twenty out of about fourty people have joined, including one of the directors. It's great to get to see other people's pics from the day. And on Saturday I was at work all day. It was a pretty tough day, just 'cause, well, you have those days sometimes. In the evening, family came over to celebrate mine and my sister's birthdays this week. We had some food, and chatted. Nan and Alan brought over their dog Harvey, and we both had fun playing with a paper plate haha. The Danish Speedway GP was on on Saturday, and it was so exciting to watch! Tai Woffinden won his first GP race, and Chris Harris came third overall in the final. Britain are doing alright. Then afterwards, we all watched Britain's Got Talent. Spelbound were incredible, and absolutely deserved to win. Watch their winning performance on Youtube here.

Yesterday was amazing too. We had the Seminary Grad's dinner at the Stake President's house - mexican. It was excellent. After dinner, we just sat and talked for like an hour. I was talking to Sam and Jake about the Gospel, and about how amazing and perfect and true it is. How it all makes sense. How we just want to tell absoutely everyone about it. I love it. I keep saying it, but I really do. And I feel so grateful to have the knowledge that I do in my life. As we were talking, I felt the Spirit so strongly, and wish I could always always have that feeling. But life goes on, and you've got to do what you can every day to get the boost you need. It's so great to talk with my own friends about the Gospel at length, and in detail. BYU is going to be better than awesome. And then this evening, I finshed up the last couple of things I had left to do on my Priest's Duty To God, just in time for my birthday.

So, I guess I'm going to be an adult as of tomorrow. The last 18 years of my life have been really brilliant. I've made so so many great memories - all the holidays, and friends, and experiences, and concerts, and exams, and just great times... Now I enter adulthood, and the next stage of my life... That's gonna be fun, right?! I'm actually quite excited! Haha

Friday, 4 June 2010

It Must Really Suck To Be In A Four Year Strong Music Video Right Now...

Actually, it doesn't. It's awesome. Today has been so much fun.

A week ago today, I saw on Four Year Strong's status on Facebook that they were looking for people to be in the music video for 'It Must Really Suck To Be Four Year Strong Right Now'. You had to email to say you're interested, and I emailed straight away. I got an email back, explaining what they were looking for. Here's a print screen of the email:

I didn't know if it was worth sending a picture in - I'm not the most 'punk' kid you've ever met. But, I definately wanted to give it a go - I'd regret it if I didn't. I was busy all weekend, so I got up kinda early Monday morning, and sent a couple of pictures in. I explained that I love Four Year Strong, and I'd be so excited to be in the video. The next day, I checked my emails, and was so so stoked to see that the directors had emailed me back, and said I could be in it. I then had to send them my details etc, and then Rob called me yesterday to check that I wasn't going to drop out, and give me the details. I asked if I could bring a friend along, and he said just one. So I took Clare along. And we had a fantastic time.

The shoot was in Brick Lane, and we had to meet at the Vibe Bar. I met Clare just outside Aldgate East tube station, and we tried to find Brick Lane. We walked for about 10 minutes, in one direction, and then actually asked someone where it was. He said to go back in the direction we came, and then it was on our right. They'd already done a couple of run throughs by the time we got there, at just before twelve. We met the directors, Rob and Stu, and then began the wait.

The first run through we did, we really had no idea what was going on. No-one around us seemed to either. The directors said to just join in the crowd as they pass, singing quietly to the song, and then going crazy at the end. So, we joined in the crowd, and then everyone went seriously crazy at the end - it was an intense mosh pit on a street corner! It was so much fun!

The afternoon went on, and we did run through after run through. They were filming the whole thing in just one shot each time, and shooting on a Canon EOS 7D. Stu was walking backwards filming with the crowd following, while Rob, Katie, and some other crew members directed Stu along the street, and got people and cars out the way of the crowd. I figured that basically, it was a huge crowd mime-off to the song, with the Mexican Wrestlers and Superheroes 'fighting' at the end. I was just a 'punk fan', part of the crowd, but had such a great time. Everytime we went to do a run-through, the street would suddenly get really busy, with traffic and people taking up the space. Then, as we'd finish, it would all go quiet again. Isn't it ironic. And as we were waiting around, we had people coming up to us asking what we were filming, and getting pics of the costumes. One guy on the street came up to me and asked what was going on, and then started telling me about an Irish film he was in when he was younger! Haha it was so random. And we were joined by a few drunk guys, one singing "every little thing, is gonna be alright..", and another asking if we knew where he could get 'herbs and spices'.

The day went on, and we did more a more run throughs. It was such a hot day, I only put my white hoodie on when we actually did the takes. Then, the cats, superheroes, and mexican wrestlers, all got changed, and we did a couple more run throughs before Four Year Strong got there. When they did get there at four pm, everyone was cheering. It was so cool to meet them and just hang out with them. They'd been doing interviews and photo shoots all day, (and been shopping in Levi's!), before they got to the shoot. This is them arriving at the bar, and then one of Dan trying on a penguin costume! Haha


So then, we got some pictures with the band, and got on with doing some more takes, now with the band. The only difference was that now when the crowd reached Four Year Strong, they had to give them their blow-up instruments, and then rock out as FYS 'played' to the music. It was crazy as everyone was trying to get to the front. I managed to a couple of times, which was cool.

The final take was a lot of fun. We all knew it was going to be the last take, so put all our effort and energy into it. And moshed harder. And tried to get to the front harder. At the end, everyone cheered so loudly. And at the end, Dan smashed up one of the Guitar Hero guitars he was playing onto the ground - apparently he wasn't supposed to, and he smashed the wrong one... Hahaha it was funny. Someone was going home with a broken up guitar! Glad it wasn't mine. Actually, even though I'd taken up a Guitar Hero 3 guitar, and a PS3 microphone, I didn't use either.

The music video was finished. Everyone got loads more pictures with the band, and the Kerrang! photographer got a photo of everyone there to put into the magazine. We got to hang out with FYS some more, and I spoke to Josh about how awesome it was when he put the mic in my face at Slam Dunk on Saturday. I told him he put the mic in my face and I sung into it, and he said he thought I was gonna say that he broke my teeth or something! Here's the pics with the directors and the band:






It was a great experience, and just so much fun. There was an incredible atmosphere while we were shooting. It was so cool to hang out with the band, and to just be in a music video! Rob said that it would be released in 2 - 4 weeks.
Keep an eye out for it. And keep and eye out for me and Clare in it...