Television > Film

I’m serious. Think about it. Films tell a decent story, but if they are really worth it, you always want more. That’s what good television does. Quick logic, but just the same, seems logical. Television is gaining on the film industry quickly. Actors are taking parts in long-term series more often, as do directors and screenplay writers, creating amazing stories that go on for years, building tension and suspense the whole time. Now I want to begin an eleven-part series introducing and analyzing my top favorite programs, hopefully in an overall effort to prove my point in some way. Yes, I am addicted to television. Blame Netflix.

1. Dexter
2. The Office
3. True Blood
4. Entourage
5. Avatar: The Last Airbender

I tried to mix it up, based on what I have watched the entirety of, and I’ll probably add more, once I ‘collect more data’ (aka sit around and watch T.V.)  Maybe I’m lame, but I can explain.  You just wait.

I don't own this picture. Sorry. But Dexter is amazing.

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Published in: on April 25, 2011 at 4:24 am  Leave a Comment  
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Wii + Netflix = Win

This isn’t exactly a video game, so I didn’t mean to mislead, but just the same, it needs addressed. I got a Nintendo Wii about two years, and I really had no use for it. All of that changed when I discovered the wonderful world of wireless internet. I signed up for Netflix, and my life changed slightly. I now had access to many television programs where ever there was an internet browser to be found, and where better to watch television than my television?  Netflix is definitely the best service for movie and television rental right now, and their streaming video has definitely got the upper hand over Blockbuster and Redbox.  The most fun I’ve ever had re-arranging things has got to be on their website, where the instant cue has become for me a semi-endless list of future entertainment.  If you haven’t checked it out, there are entire seasons of titles like Dexter, Weeds, Law and Order, Lie To Me, Avatar: The Last Airbender, The Office, Lost, and many more, including countless movies that I never would have watched without the ease of access offered by Netflix.  Seriously, it’s way better than Comcast OnDemand.  And it’s more fun to do with a WiiMote.  It’s only like 8 bucks a month, so go do it.  It’s worth it.  I wouldn’t lie to you.

Finally, the Wii is fun

Dante vs. Kratos

I recently got to play a bit of the game Dante’s Inferno and a few things came to mind.

First of all, if you have any knowledge of literature, you will recognize the story ‘Inferno’, from Dante Alighieri’s epic poem Divine Comedy, which has painted the picture most of us see now when we think of hell.  Inevitably more action takes place in the game, but for the most part it sticks to a similar goal as the original work, in that he descends literally and metaphorically into hell to literally and metaphorically see and understand the consequences of his sins in order to repent. The art design corresponding to some of Dante’s descriptions of hell are a tad stylized and embellished, but that’s not such a bad thing.

Second, however, it’s the exact same thing as God of War, except not as good.  The 3rd person view, the control set-up, the one-speed walking that kind of feels like driving a car rather than controlling a person, the double-jump for no reason, pretty much the same game.  I noticed this with the game Darksiders as well, but I didn’t care as much because it wasn’t that fun and I kind of gave up.  Dante’s Inferno is fun, but mostly because of the story and the fun fight scenes.  The graphics aren’t amazing, but it’s alright, they’re acceptable.

All this said, God of Waris still better.  Fighting demons with a giant scythe  in hell is fun and all, but fighting your way out of hell, twice, to go on to climb Mount Olympus and kill the gods, that’s pretty much the most fun you can have with Greek Mythology.  I still recommend both games, but for different reasons.  However, it seems like a genre is forming from this, so perhaps we can expect more fun mythos-based hack-and-slash epics in the future.

O, and Dantes apparently a Templar Knight in the game. And hes a bad-ass.

O, and if you thought this was going to be a real fight scenario I thought up, or something being made, I’m sorry for misleading you.  Kratos wins though.  Just saying.

Hardcore Making For A Strange New World Of Music

If you have ear enough to distinguish between hardcore and, well, several other styles of heavy and not heavy music alike, then surely you’ve also noticed the sudden obsession with breakdowns rising and plateauing.  I believe it’s begun it’s downward spiral, because frankly, it’s getting repetitive.  Metal aside, the heavy and fast of hardcore has found a way to incorporate virtually any other style, and even weave its way into others.  This includes metal, obviously, but more interestingly pop, acoustic, hip-hop, and especially electronic, with the recent popularity boost of dubstep in America.  All this being said, the bands that have continued to make ‘hardcore’ (and with this, I include pop-punk, metalcore, deathcore, grindcore (obviously)) have either started to sound the same (and I mean really sound the same) or are beginning to move on to genres that haven’t had the life sucked out of them yet.  Think about the endless list of new additions to the hardcore (metalcore/deathcore/whatever) scene: We Came As Romans, Motionless In White, Abandon All Ships, A Day To Remember, Blind Witness, Her Demise My Rise, Chelsea Grin, and so on.  All are great (well, some) and have something fresh to display, but how long can this last?  And how much have these bands already digressed from hardcore?  A good example of the dubstep-influenced hardcore is the metal or death core, or whatever, band Asking Alexandria.  I’ve heard their new album Ruthless and Relentless, and it’s pretty much way better than their first one.  That being said, this is due to a slight variation in the genre, and at its core (ha), it’s still based around the exhausted concept of breakdowns throughout.  I’m not making any grand prediction, but to maintain the style, there have to be less diversions in the future.  If everyone is alright with leaving the genre to the fate of Hair Metal, then I suppose it’s not a big problem.  It’s arguably already influenced more music than Hair Metal ever did, but that’s not the point.  The scene is getting boring, no matter how persistent the artists are.  It’s not their fault, really.  If one thinks of the number of bands competing for fame in this age, compared to virtually any time in the past, most likely due to mass-media, it seems impossible for anyone to be truly labeled original, even if they are.

Just some thoughts.  That said, check out Reckless and Relentless by Asking Al, and perhaps some of the following:

Attack Attack!- Attack Attack!

Blind Witness- Nightmare On Providence Street

Chelsea Grin- Desolation Of Eden

We Came As Romans- To Plant A Seed

Abandon All Ships- Geeving

Her Demise My Rise- The Takeover

Motionless In White- Creatures

A Day To Remember- What Separates Me From You

Sleeping With Sirens- With Ears To See And Eyes To Hear

Miss May I- Monument

I See Stars- End Of The World Party

Full Blown Chaos- Full Blown Chaos

Emmure- Speaker Of The Dead

Dr. Acula- Slander

Salt The Wound- Kill The Crown

Each have a little something of their very own to offer the music world but branch from the same roots.  Some sound like different styles completely, until they start playing breakdowns.  Good or bad, it’s nice to see all the kids playing heavy music and all, but it’s just not what I was expecting.  Music is in a weird place.  It’ll be interesting to see how all this shakes out, what music will be like in ten years, and how they’ll view this stage in music history.

Probably my favorite of the LPs I mentioned

The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues + Tour for BTBAM

So as a follow-up to my previous article, I have now had the opportunity to hear the new Between The Buried And Me e.p. The Parallax: Hypersleep Dialogues, and it’s worth writing another article.  First of all, it’s got to be one of the longest e.p.’s I’ve heard, composed of 3 songs and adding up to about thirty minutes altogether.  Second of all, it’s really good.  They obviously haven’t been sitting around since the last album, because their style is maintained as if they continue to write as soon as they finish something.  The three epic songs bring to your ears an even stranger variety of music, spread between death metal and metalcore, to jazz and folk, to ambient trans, tribal drums and symphony.  It’s interesting enough trying to keep up with their sporadic disregard for compliance with a unifying time signature, sometimes utilizing completely untraditional signatures altogether.  The result is a journey, to say the least.  Definitely check it out.  In support of the release, they’re going on tour with Job For A Cowboy and The Ocean, throughtout North America, during which they will be playing the entirety of the e.p.  Check the website for show dates.

http://www.myspace.com/betweentheburiedandme

April - May 2011

Genome

I’ve been slowly reading the book “Genome,” written by Matt Ridley, over the last few months, and I’m impressed.  It’s one of those kind of easier reads, sort of for people like me who are interested in specific scientific fields but aren’t super geniuses and have other things to do besides study genes, like socialize and write blogs and stuff.  It maps the chromosomes, in a questionable but still kind of neet chromosome by chromosome, chapter by chapter fashion, and documents the history that has led to the discovery of the genome and the barriers that played a part in slowing this discovery.  The best part is that it does so as if he were writing a letter to a friend, so rather than having the feeling that you’re reading out of a textbook, it’s like you’re hearing about the events as if the someone was there throughout.  The events are detailed enough to get a clean picture of what happened all these years that people have been studying genetics.  The anecdotes and personal thoughts of the author bring the tale out of the realm of strictly informative, and into a new light, one that feels a little closer to home than a textbook.  Maybe we can see the “Genome” graphic novel in the future.  Would I be the only one to buy a copy, or can we assume genetics researchers would also get a kick out of it?  Probably.  Don’t hold your breath.  Just get the regular book.

This is the one I bought. New fancy cover and everything.

Published in: on April 11, 2011 at 6:54 pm  Leave a Comment  
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Bronson

I’m currently watching the film Bronson, and it is awesome.  The film loosely details the life and imprisonment (which has been most of his life) of Charles Bronson, born Michael Peterson, labeled Britain’s most dangerous prisoner.  Other than the great acting and amazing artistic direction, the story offers an interesting insight into psychology, as well as the premise of long-term imprisonment.  For instance, the broad subject, for which I cannot think of a better word to describe than ‘time’, is gifted to this man in a way that his full potential, if you want to call it that, is allowed to be met.  He is a violent man, prone to fighting and immune to compromise.  Yet, from all this, he wrote eleven books, one of which is a virtual manual for semi-advanced physical training while confined in small spaces.  He painted and wrote poetry, creating more art than most aspiring artists can achieve.

Why?  Well, my theory is time.  With nothing productive to achieve, due to his strict imprisonment, Bronson put forth an artistic effort only possible with the gifts of basic needs, for which he did not have to work, and endless time, which continues today.  In some ways, this correlates with my theory of Henry David Thoreau’s success with his experiment at Walden Pond.  He lived in an environment of little resource and minimal assistance, but assistance nonetheless.  Thoreau could not have feasibly completed his self-reliance experiment without aid from his mother and the town nearby.  And he too had time on his side.  But without this assistance, whether it be help from one’s mother or daily meals provided by the correctional facilities, neither of these ‘experiments’ would have been as fruitful as they turned out.  There seems a certain degree of creative ease when one does not have to toil with the everyday struggles of making a living, dealing with society, and being bogged down by mass-media.  I believe this helped along the creative flows of both Thoreau and Bronson.  This connection may seem far fetched, but to me, it makes perfect sense.  What would you do if all you had, rather than stress, grief, obligations, responsibilities, or profound life-goals, was time?  We are rather convincingly led to believe that this amount of time is finite, so why waste something so fleeting?  Some of us have no choice, it seems, and therefore we fall into our daily routines, destined to die before we realize our lives have happened.  This is what intrigues me.  I’m not saying I’d like to go to prison, but if I did, I could see myself focusing more fully than ever.  Bronson is still in prison, and who knows what he will be able to accomplish there.  It’s a strange thought that such a condition could allow creativity and productive thinking to flourish like this.

Perhaps you won’t see the same things I did when you watch this movie, but you should still watch it.  It’s artsy and provocative, graphic and beautiful.  So, go watch it.

Other people like it too

Published in: on April 10, 2011 at 4:25 am  Leave a Comment  
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Rampage; exactly what it sounds like

Most people never got to hear about the movie Rampage, because I think it was a straight-to-DVD sort of movie.  This doesn’t automatically make it a bad movie, because it’s actually a pretty darn good movie.  It displays in explicit detail the dire consequences of society causing a man to go crazy and snap.  If you don’t mind gore and violence, you might find it acceptable, at least.  If you like gore and violence, you’ll probably love it.  If you like political/social psychological analysis kinds of movies, you will also love it.  That’s where I come in.  It’s interesting to see what a situation like this might look like, especially if I’m going to have to condition myself to deal with it if it ever does happen.  Paranoid as that sounds, you never know.

It looks kool. Must be kool, right? That was my path of logic.

Other than that, it has a kool plot, believable dialogue, and a neet twist at the end.  Check it out, I think it’s on Netflix right now.

Published in: on April 9, 2011 at 4:27 am  Comments (4)  
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Assassin’s Creed

Right now, I have to talk about the best new video game series in a while.  Assassin’s Creed, or more so Assassin’s Creed II and Brotherhood, is basically amazing because I can’t find anything wrong with it.  From the awesome combat to the awesome story, it’s awesome, to say the least.  If you don’t know the story, here it is in the smallest possible nutshell.  It’s 2012, and scientists can somehow replay the memories of people in the apparently pretty distant past by hacking in to the genes of their descendants.  The subject Desmond Miles is the descendant of Altaïr Ibn la-Ahad, who was an assassin during the Crusades, and of Ezio Auditore da Firenze, an Italian assassin that lived in the 1600’s, near the ‘end’ of the Renaissance.  In the game, you play as the assassins in the story, or actually sort of as Desmond playing as the assassins.  Anyway, you can climb on walls, fight guards, ride horses, solve puzzles and mysteries, discover secret passages, basically everything you always wanted to grow up and do when you were little.  The first game is fun, but holds nothing in comparison to the sequel.  In Assassin’s Creed II, you can go virtually anywhere in five or six entire cities.  If that’s not fun enough, in Brotherhood, you can go almost anywhere in 15th century Rome.  You might never have another opportunity to do that.  I’d say if you’re going to play Assassin’s Creed, don’t waste too much time with the first one, because the next two big-console titles are the best.  The graphics are amazing, from the detail of the architecture to the stitching on Ezio’s Renaissance Superhero costume.  The music, done by Jesper Kyd, is some of the best music I’ve heard in a while, and I don’t mean only in video games.  The back-story is vivid and deep, provocative, historical, and all the more reason to allow yourself to get sucked into these games.  Seriously, go get it.  It’s probably dirt-cheap at your local going out of business Blockbuster location.  Thanks, Comcast, for eliminating the need for some persons’ only form of exercise:  walking into the video store to look around.  I digress.  Play for short periods of time.  Go outside and shower and stuff.  But still, play, they’re really fun.

Ezio, fighting a huge Italian guard with a huge Italian weapon

Sumerian Records Is Awesome

The young label Sumerian, started in 2006, has already gained my attention as if they were a seasoned signer.  With bands like Asking Alexandria, I See Stars, Born Of Osiris, The Faceless, Stick To Your Guns, and several other up-and-coming artists in the heavy metal and pop rock circles, they are growing quickly.  They have even signed 20+ year rapper Bizzy Bone, of Bone Thugs-n-Harmony fame.  All of this is interesting enough, but the whole Sumerian/Ancient Culture theme has more of my attention.  Themes from the ancient world are prevalent in several of the bands’ lyrics and art.  The new Bizzy Bone album Crossroads 2010 displays Egyptian pyramids and aliens on the cover, suggesting a connection to a recently heightened belief about the world, which is a completely different story.  But it all goes back to the first recorded civilization of the world, Sumer, after which the label is named.  I don’t know, maybe it’s just the three (Born Of Osiris, The Faceless, Bizzy Bone) that push my attention in this direction.  Maybe I’m just another conspiracy theorist waiting to happen. Either way, check them out, it’s a good label making good music.

featuring guest appearances from some surprisingly non-hip-hop artists