The Great Book Swap Commercial

This is a commercial I did for my school’s library. As you’ll see, the video was about a great event called the Book Swap, where students were able to turn in books they no longer wanted and get new ones for their trade-in!

Hope you guys like it!

Shot with a Flip Ultra video camera; edited with Sony Vegas Pro 8. Song is from The Mills Brothers – “Chinatown, My Chinatown“.

Tomás at Large |

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Censorship in a Free World

This article was inspired by an exciting, interesting conversation held in my school during 1st Period in English class. We arrived at the topic when talking about the new book we’llbe reading, called “Inherit the Wind”.

In the world of today, voicing your opinion on just about anything is rather easy to do, but at the same time, its consequences can range anywhere from favorable to not so great. And without a doubt, people have taken advantage of this freedom of speech, which is present, not only in America, but in almost the entire world, to express their feelings and thoughts on anything, anyplace, in any way, shape or form.

You’d think this freedom of speech that exists in the world today is great and contributes towards the creativity of many, and in really, it does. At the same time, however, it has also been one heck of a controversial topic and privilege. The freedom it gives is not without limits; the founders of the American nation whom, upon building the nation we live in today, developed the ideology of free expression but gave it limits so that it could exist within a Democratic government, but a government nonetheless. The most famous example is the fact that you cannot assert your freedom by running down the street and yelling “FIRE!”

Nonetheless, freedom of expression has been used greatly since its conception, and it has been, amongst the many laws and principles of American society and government, the last one to be challenged. And it should remain this way, because it has been thanks to this law, to this privilege we have as American citizens, that so many American writers and literary figures, as well as artists and movie directors, have been able to give their view on what’s occurred through history.

But, the same great law has caused some issues, and they’ve presented themselves largely in a word that for many, is not a term they like to hear – censorship. The ruthless defacing and minimizing of creative works so as to not influence a population wrongly, which then again, might only be “wrongly” in one person’s or group’s opinions. While it was always much more severe back then, it unfortunately still exists now – we live, still, in a world where sometimes we have to consider that we may not be getting the whole picture.

Censorship can either be good or bad. It can limit the ideas and beliefs of some, but maybe protect the Innocent minds of many – children. When we read, as little kids, about the beautiful forests of Brazil in those little elementary books, we’re not told it’s being destroyed by deforestation at first. It’s a little later when we’re told. At first, when we see the news, as little kids, at 6 o’ clock, when our parents are watching, we’re not told the economy is in a bad state or that there’s a war going on and people are dying.

Also remember that, although I’ve mentioned the US as the eyes here, free speech exists all over the world, with the exception of certain regimes, unfortunately.

What do you think? I’ll let you guys finish my article. Voice your opinion.
Don’t worry – there’s no Banned Comments Section here.

The American Dream

Before I start, I’d just like to put it out there that I’ve just begun high school, less than a month ago, and so far it’s been great. I unfortunately have not been able to get around to writing a blog post I originally planned to write about my first impressions of this new stage in my life, but I’ll get to it one of these days. For now however, I have a thing or two to say about one of the most famous phrases, piece of terminology, expression, whatever you wish to call it – “The American Dream”.
The American continent was populated in about 20,000 to 13,000 BCE, when peoples from the opposite side of the world crossed the great land bridge of Beringia; which unfortunately is now no longer existent. The earliest civilizations developed in Mesoamerica and South America, particularly in the mountainous, Andean regions of the continent. These left their marks and extended their influence not only in geographic terms, but also in terms of time – the present-day states that control these regions, such as Mexico and Peru, still exhibit the characteristics they’ve inherited from these ancient civilizations alongside other ones that they’ve acquired from other places in the world.

The story of the American nation is not one of extreme length; when one comes down to it, it reaches an expanse of only about 500 years. When compared to the extremely lengthy histories and heritage of other civilizations, such as those in Asia, the Middle East, the various Chinese dynasties, etc. it actually pales in comparison. At the same time, this new nation has influenced others worldwide greatly. Throughout those 500 years, the nation has become a great economic power that has extended its political and social and cultural influence to many nations of the world. Without a doubt, it has developed at an extremely accelerated rate – in only that time frame, it has gone from a few colonies along the Eastern Coast to a full-fledged urban nation reaching to the other end of the North American continent. Hamburgers, hot dogs and barbecues can be found in Argentina, China, and France as well as the United States, partly, because that’s how far American influence has gotten.

But what perhaps makes the history of the United States ever so interesting is the fact that it is a land of immigrants. While many historians are without a doubt correct in claiming the Native Americans the original populace of the American nation, the US, as it stands today, is a land composed not only of North Americans, but of hundreds upon hundreds of people from just about any country but the homeland – as close as Mexico and Canada, and as far as France, China, Brazil, Japan, etc.

What has allowed this nation to attract so many people? What is so prestigious, what is so great about this nation that has attracted many? The values and morals of the Americans as a united people are not the answer here. It does not involve physiological or philosophical responses – it involves what many today call ” The American Dream”.

Many, if not all people in the world, have heard of this phrase. What it signifies is unanimously agreed upon; while it is an expression open to interpretation, the interpretations of many are rather alike. The American Dream signifies hope; signifies economic stability. It is characterized by Hollywood-esque symbols of a family – the nice house in the suburbs, with the white picket fence, the car, the two children playing in the backyard, the mowing of the lawn, the mother, the father, the family gatherings, the occasional puppy. These are elements that represent the American Dream the same way that an icon represents a piece of computer software. When people see this, they think of the American Dream; they think of hope and of good living.

In essence, the American Dream is a state of welfare, of stability, of a good standard of living, for the one living the dream. But it also means hope, as aforementioned. Many come to the United States, not necessarily to visit the Rockies or take a cool picture of Mount Rushmore, but instead to chase the dream. Many immigrants in the US have come from third-world nations where finding work, maintaining an abode; things that in the US we may take for granted, are hard to do. These people have come to the US to have a better life. And many immigrants who have come here have come with their children.

Children are the only way we have of attempting to fix the errors we’ve made in the past. It was Columbus, not his father, that took on the task, amongst various protests and disapproving remarks, of journeying out into the great unknown waters of the other side of the world to find land that many endured hardships to reach otherwise. And it’ll be the son or daughter of two parents, that will get the chance to take advantage of the educational and working opportunities that the United States, as a world power, provides for its up-and-coming lawyers, doctors, journalists, editors, artists; what have you, and truly excel in the small, but still challenging world of today.

The American Dream, for those who have accomplished it, is truly a dream come true. In the majorly democratic world of today, where we have as a privilege, freedom, but as a duty, independence, accomplishing the American Dream is akin to winning a war. It gives us a sense of pride, a sense of victory; a sense that we’ve really done something for ourselves. The American Dream is one that is in the minds of many who pursue good living not only for themselves, but for their children.

It is three different words for hope of a better life in this vicious, little world of today that we call “The Blue Marble”.

Summer 2008 from the Former Eight Grader – A Precursor to Something Different

This entry is dedicated to the first graduating class of Coral Way K-8 Center, from 2008. A tribute to our friends, our adventures, our mischiefs, and everything else that we all went through.

PRE – P.S. – click on the title of the entry to see pictures from the last days of school! And, visit for my entire photo collection!

“Yaaaaahooooo!!!!!” screamed the students of my school during the last day of classes, as they went racing through the hallways, throwing juice up onto the roof (maybe I’ll put up the vid one of these days). At dismissal time, however, things were a bit more calm, particularly because everyone came to terms with the fact that, well, we’re not coming back to the school next year. We’re not gonna pass through the same color double doors every morning anymore. We’re not going to have the same teachers mortify us; different ones will. We won’t eat the same bad lunch in the same dirty cafeteria anymore’; we’ll do it somewhere else. That’s what was going through everyone’s mind at dismissal time, and without a doubt, these thoughts were one of the reasons why many lingered, as much as possible, around the exit, some crying, many not wanting to leave, all in a pensive mood, until our parents pulled our hairs and ears into the car (along with our bodies too). We did our best to ccme to terms with the uncomfortable truth that we were all growing up, and it was time to leave the K-8 school we’d been at for almost a decade.

It may not have hit me as hard as it hit others; I’d only been at the school since 5th grade. However, I still understood the painstaking task that it must have been for others to comprehend the aforementioned. They’d been there since they were little “tikes” running around stark naked around the pool; since they first learned their alphabet and numbers. They’d come to know all the teachers, they’d come to know the school better than the architects who designed and built it. It was hard.

Now, almost three months afterwards, on the penultimate day of summer vacation 2008, I sit here, at my laptop, typing up this blog entry, and I start to remember all this. It tells me many things, but the most painful one is the fact that we’re growing up. We used to be little kids, whose height didn’t even reach the door knobs, walking in a line, behaving our best, not saying so much as a single syllable to another student so as to not get in trouble and get a time out. Then, in the same halls, years later, we were the “big kids” we’d aspired to be, with facial hair, deeper, but crackly, voices; and other things particular to each gender (:D). We started forming our opinions about things; we came to understand what was beyond the city limits, we learned how babies are really made, and a bunch of other things. We changed, basically. We weren’t the cute little silent kids anymore. We were different.

When I went home the day after that lingering dismissal, I went to the infamous “End of the Year” celebration. Before that, however, I was with two other friends enjoying a hearty meal that’d been prepared for us as a grad gift, of sorts. That was the beginning. It was the beginning of a transitional period. A transitional period that, well, would transition into something new, something unlike what we’d done and experienced. It was the last breath, perhaps, that the little innocence in us gave. We’re “high school-ers” now, we’re freshmen, we’re “grown-ups”. Pretty soon, we won’t be riding bike or the bus to school, we’ll be driving our own cars to school. We have more responsibility now; we can watch PG-13 movies now (legally), and within a few years, the R-rated ones too. We’re cool!

All this might seem like high school’s going to be the time of our lives, and it probably will be. Without a doubt, it’ll be an interesting, fun time. But we must never forget where we all started. Sometimes, we should just sit down, fire up the PC, and look at all the pictures we took the day of the juice incident, the day of the band concert (or the various band concerts, I should say), the day of the field trip to Universal Studios, the day of the Social. Who can forget the History and Geography Bees, Ms. Schenquerman’s wild party. We should do this to just refresh the folder in our mind that’ll store all this forever. We can never forget the times we had with our friends. We might forget our homework, our chores, our responsibilities, and without a doubt, what we had for breakfast this morning; but we’ll never forget this.

Summer 2008 was no longer a closure, but a transition, as aforementioned. After this, there’s no turning back. Sure, we’ll visit our old teachers at every chance we get, but we can never be taught by them again. We can never sit at the same chair and fall asleep at the same lectures ever again. What we can do, however, is appreciate how much those same lectures meant to us. How much those teachers valued us; how much we loved them. Although I’ve been at the school a shorter time than most of my compadres, I think I speak for all of us when we say that forgetting about Coral Way – the good and the bad times, the friends we made, the crazy stuff we did and experienced – and Summer 2008 – water parks, beaches, movies, and maybe movie shoots too (in my case :D) – it’s just not doable.

To the former students of Coral Way K-8 – hope you guys have an awesome time in high school, and college; wish you guys the best of luck in your professional careers, and I hope to see you guys again someday. After all, we’ll all stick together – no matter what, no matter how,

-Tomas at Large
August 16, 2008
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