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Foregone Conclusions
My shambles in rambles
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4 Pages  1 2 3 > »  
 | Category: The Hobby
entry Jun 8 2008, 09:19 AM

It seems everyone these days is monosyllabic. And that's sad. I'm seeing it all over TCC and it breaks my heart, really. It's as if people don't even look at the topic's first post, let alone the entire thread. In a way, it's kind of annoying, and when I see people who know better being so tight-lipped, I get irritated, because they're better than that.

The point of a forum like TCC's is to discuss things, to have conversations. It seems that only happens when dealing with politics or bad eBay sellers. And I'm sad is because we're all in this together, so let's support each other with a bit more attention and time. I wish I had more time than I do to prowl the TCC forums, to reply to every single thread and to even reply to PMs. I wouldn't feel so bad if I knew people were using their vocabulary more.

Maybe it's to raise post counts, I don't know. But take a minute to enjoy someone's thread, read through responses and discuss! TCC is here for us to discuss the hobby, share experiences and be a tight-nit community. Let's focus on being a bit more vocal, shall we?

entry Apr 22 2008, 11:14 PM
Shadows on the broad lawn
Canopy of trees
Sometime after midnight
The ground is gonna freeze
Birds in the frosty air
What are they doing there?

Greenhouse full of butchers brooms
Breezes at my back
Sometime before the sun comes up
The earth is gonna crack

I look down at my hands
Like they were mirrors

Fresh coffee at sunrise
Warm my lips against the cup
Been waiting such a long time now
My number's finally coming up

All the neighbors come on out to their front porches
Waving torches

-The Mountain Goats

Entry Yes.

 | Category: Entertainment
entry Apr 9 2008, 03:53 PM
user posted image

 | Category: My Life
entry Apr 8 2008, 02:39 PM
As my senior project, I've decided to cover the life of trial reporters/journalists, along with attend a trial and figure out as much as I can about the legal aspect many journalists have to dive into.

Today was particularly difficult. The trial I originally chose was a murder case. Then it got changed to an assault with a deadly weapon case. But then it got changed again, and I'm stuck with what I have: sexual abuse of a child.

Growing up I had a friend named Chris and Chris has two sisters, one about two years younger than us and another about eight years younger than us. The youngest sister was 4 at the time she told her mother the next door neighbor had been inappropriately touching her. I was there when the family found out about it. And do know this family was like my second family: I spent at least as much time with them as I did at my own house. We grew up together. I was there when the youngest girl was brought home from the hospital after birth. We were connected and very close, the family and me.

This morning, I sat there and listened to a father, a 20-something, testify on how his daughter told him she was being inappropriately touched. Now, the father is only, maybe, four years older than me, and his testimony hit me pretty hard because it made me think of something I haven't thought of in a long time. And, also to know I'd like to be a father before I hit 30 and there are things like this happening day-in and day-out, it makes me so unsettled about a lot of things.

It just doesn't get any easier.

 | Category: Entertainment
entry Jul 11 2007, 04:13 PM
user posted image

Amazing fun — that's just one way to sum up "Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix." The fifth film adapted from the insanely popular book series hit theaters July 11 and boy, is it a doozy.

The story goes as follows: Harry Potter (Daniel Radcliffe) returns to the wizarding world to find a revived secret society called the Order of the Phoenix. Their goal: to stop Lord Voldemort (Ralph Fiennes). Although Potter wants to become a member of the group, the request is declined and he begins his fifth year at Hogwarts School of Witchcraft and Wizardry.

However, Potter's fifth year doesn't begin as hoped.

First, no one believes Headmaster Albus Dumbledore (Michael Gambon) and Potter's claim that Voldermort has returned. The Ministry of Magic refuses to acknowledge their accounts and the magical newspaper, "The Daily Prophet," is labeling both of them as liars.

The second noticeable difference is the school has a new Defense of the Dark Arts Professor named Dolores Umbridge (Imelda Staunton), who works for the Ministry of Magic. She's somewhat of a mole for the Ministry, looking for ways to further discredit Potter and Dumbeldore.

Furthermore, Umbridge isn't exactly teaching the students anything about defense or dark arts, instead making them write and rewrite passages from their archaic textbooks for "maximum retention."

Because of Umbridge's unwillingness to teach, Potter and company create Dumbledore's Army, a la resistance-type group of teenage wizards and witches. Together they learn and practice new protective spells.

The film, like the book, is a handful. But the film's beauty doesn't come from its eccentric adaptation — it comes from its fluid telling of a much-condensed story to make it enjoyable for the average moviegoer.

Like each "Harry Potter" film before it, "Order of the Phoenix" is missing things from the novel, most of which is profound character development. In order to understand what's on the screen, it's imperative to have seen the previous films or, better yet, have read the novels.

One thing that's different from previous films is the acting, all around, is quite good. Radcliffe reprises the Potter role well, and has tuned down his overacting during dramatic scenes. This installment's Potter is angst-filled, which could have been taken over the edge but, luckily, it wasn't.

Emma Watson as Hermione Granger does better than she has before. While she still overdoes it with the eyebrow movements, she's an enjoyable watch, and adapts well to the change in her character from being a goodie-goodie to standing up and taking charge.

To complete the magical trio comes Ron Weasley, played by Rupert Grint. Grint is the most-improved actor this film. His role is smaller but he shines through the cast of teenagers.

One addition to the cast includes Helena Bonham Carter as Bellatrix Lestrange, one of Lord Voldemort's Death Eaters.

Carter, known for her roles in "Big Fish" and "Fight Club," is a solid choice for Lestrange's character. The last name fits, no doubt — she's insane and disheveled, and her only goal is to help purify the magical race by getting rid of the Mudbloods (magic users who have at least one non-magical parent).

Many of the book's fans will fall in love with Evanna Lynch as Luna Lovegood. Lovegood — an awkward, wallflower type of witch — is constantly teased for being weird. She claims to see creatures no one else can see, and her father runs a tabloid that only prints unbelievable "news," "news" she strongly defends.

Lynch is simply great as Lovegood. She pulls off the character's dreamy-eyed and innocent look with ease.

Lynch, 15, and who has been a long-time "Harry Potter" fan, has never had acting classes but tried out for the role. Her demeanor and love for the character won over the casting directors, and thank goodness for that.

Director David Yates ("Rank") makes his "Harry Potter" debut with "Order of the Phoenix." Yates can take credit for transforming the film's atmosphere into what it is — dark, brooding and affective.

He's known for his dramas and sexually explicit scenes, and though "Order of the Phoenix" doesn’t include any of the latter, Yates' directorial vision is paramount in making the film what it is.

The use of camera shots and angles also help in changing the feel of the series.

There are a couple scenes where Yates effectively uses what's commonly called guerilla filming, which is where the camera follows the characters through, mostly, intense situations and scenes, much like in "28 Days Later" or "City of God."

This makes a profound impact on the film's entire impression, as it makes it a more-mature film, which coincides with the fact fans have watched the characters grow since the first "Harry Potter" film debuted in 2001.

"Order of the Phoenix's" sound and visual effects call for some jaw dropping. Both make for an aesthetic experience, especially during the final battle. When wands fling and words are muttered, magic ensues.

Imagine the confrontation between Potter and Lord Voldemort in "Goblet of Fire," but extend it to about three times in length and in awing appeal. The film is full of eye candy, but it's got a strong story, acting and presentation to back it up.

As Potter, his friends and the story mature, so do the films. "Order of the Phoenix," needless to say, isn't for kids who are easily startled.

There are a lot of dark undertones to the film, and a lot of intense and violent scenes and situations. This holds true when Umbridge, a rather bitter and intolerant woman, makes Potter use her special quill to write lines saying, "I must not tell lies." The quill uses the writer's blood as ink, and as the writer writes on the paper, the words cut into his or her hands and arms.

The characters' journey, specifically that of Potter's, resonates compassion. The main themes of the film — companionship, trust and tolerance — really shine through, especially through dialogue between Potter and Lovegood, and Potter and Dumbledore.

If "Order of the Phoenix" is any indication of the upcoming and final two film installments, the series could easily be recognized as one of the greatest fantasy series of all time.

The fact this could be considered the best "Harry Potter" film to date is reason enough to see it. While it's fun and seductive in its nature, and easy to follow, it's also fierce in its delivery.

Potter isn't a child anymore and this film, much like the book, makes it brilliantly apparent. Good thing children aren't the only ones who can appreciate this kind of magic.

Rating: A

 | Category: Entertainment
entry Jul 9 2007, 04:08 PM
user posted image

After seven years of waiting, Smashing Pumpkins fans have something to be excited about. The band's newest album, "Zeitgeist," is live and it's not that bad.

Since the band broke up in 2000 after the release of "Machina: The Machines of God," the Smashing Pumpkins haven't had much of a voice in the rock world. Under the supervision of front man Billy Corgan, "Machina II: The Friends and Enemies of Modern Music" was released to Internet scourers as the last official release from the band. Following the break up came Corgan and drummer Jimmy Chamberlain's Zwan in 2003, a ho-hum rock band with a indie pop attitude that didn’t make an incredible impression on anyone. Now, the Smashing Pumpkins are back and in full effect, though minus half the original members.

"Zeitgeist" isn't a masterpiece, nor is it a top-three Pumpkins' album, but it's good and deserving of attention. The music is enjoyable and is reminiscent of Pumpkins albums of the past.

Like "Gish" and "Siamese Dream," "Zeitgeist" was recorded entirely by Corgan and Chamberlain. Corgan, who has always been the band’s sole songwriter, keeps the guitar tracks practically the same — solos about, rhythm heavy and melodic.

Corgan, though, changes up the bass guitar's tone here and there, depending on the song. Past albums consisted of mostly low tones, but "Zeitgeist" has a couple tracks where audible cuts of treble break through the music.

The drums sound only as Chamberlain can make them sound, and they've got the punch and guts of "Siamese Dream" mixed with a bit of "Machina."

After the album was completed, the Pumpkins enlisted bassist Ginger Reyes of the Halo Friendlies and guitarist Jeff Schroeder of The Lassie Foundation to become full-time members.

Many of the tracks on "Zeitgeist" will mostly remind listeners of "Mellon Collie," "Adore," "Machina" and "Machina II." "Bleeding the Orchard" sounds like it should have been on "Mellon Collie" or "Adore," since it has that sad, somber sound to it. "That's the Way (My Love Is)" has "Machina" written all over it. It's a wonder if Corgan sat on these songs, waiting to release them, or if he got over his Zwan bug and had actually written something worthy of the Corgan name.

Tracks like "Tarantula," the album's first single, and "Doomsday Clock," which made its way onto the "Transformers" soundtrack, are some of the heavier hitters on the album. They yell Pumpkins through and through, and leave a lasting impression due to Corgan’s nearly infectious and catchy writing. Vocal hooks in a Pumpkins song? You bet.

An avid Pumpkins fan, most specifically anyone who’s followed Corgan's solo works, will notice the front man's limited vocal range on most of the album. Whether it's intentionally done or is due to being timid, Corgan hasn't sounded this apprehensive since, well, never. To make up for it, Corgan incorporates more harmonies and sing-along parts, something akin to "Mellon Collie and the Infinite Sadness," especially the second disc of the two-disc album. It's not exactly a bad thing, because the limitedness doesn't add nor take away from the album in any way.

"Zetgeist's" strongest tracks are "Tarantula," "Neverlost," "(Come On) Let's Go!" and "Pomp and Circumstances." All of them embody what's best about the Smashing Pumpkins — they're bold, addictive listens, and great works of music.

But, where there are plusses there must be negatives, and "Zeitgeist" has some imperfections. Some of the vocal effects, such as the echoing on "Starz" and "United States," are laughable. To end a nearly 10-minute rock opera like "United States" with vocal echoes can cause cringing. Though "Starz" seems like a "Machina II" reject, it doesn’t seem to correctly fit with the rest of the album, all due to those echoes.

One of the most noticeable differences is the album's political tinge. Everyone else is commenting on the current presidential administration, so why not the Pumpkins? Some might embrace it but the move might get a collective "eh" by most. It's not exactly breathtaking, awe-inspiring or thought provoking, but, in all respects, it gets the job done, albeit in a sophomoric way. Tracks like "United States" and "For God and Country" are fun listens but aren’t going to be the tracks fans jump to right away for their Pumpkins fix.

Once all is said and done, the best thing about "Zeitgeist" is the (fingers crossed) promise that the Smashing Pumpkins are back. As one of the best rock bands of the 1990s, it's great to hear something not monotonous (think Nickelback and Hinder) for a change. If this is the sound of the Pumpkins to come, all is mostly good, but there can be some changes for the better.

Rating: B

 | Category: My Life
entry May 23 2007, 09:51 AM
I've been at work since 9 a.m. It's now 9:54 a.m. and I'm done with work laugh.gif

I won't leave until 2 p.m. How will I spend my time? TCC + watching "School of Rock" + AIM + Lunchables and Sierra Mist Free.


 | Category: My Life
entry May 18 2007, 07:46 PM
user posted image

Entry Mmmmm.

 | Category: My Life
entry Apr 6 2007, 10:06 AM
Can we help this home to survive?
We need the strength of our families' arms.
Not a false sense of solidarity.
Walk together and we could work this out.
Talk together and we could understand.
We need the strength of our families' arms.

 | Category: Entertainment
entry Apr 4 2007, 12:18 AM
user posted image

Not once have I experienced a story of hope quite like that in "Children of Men" and not once have I unwillingly become wrapped up in the extras of a film's DVD.

Alfonso Cuarón's "Children of Men" is the story of the world 20 years from now where women have become infertile and, as a result, the great countries of the world are left crippled by violence and poverty because so many people have given up on hope.

Clive Owen plays Theo, a former political activist, now a hopeless drunk, who gets caught up in trying to save a pregnant refugee named Kee (Claire-Hope Ashitey). With the help of radical group that helps harbor refugees throughout England, led by Theo’s ex lover Julian (Julianne Moore), Theo agrees to help Kee reach the coast where she is given the chance of freedom.

At this time, England is the only country left standing on its own two feet, and the country’s military is detaining illegal immigrants and putting them behind bars, shipping them back to where they came from or killing them. Theo's job goes from being a mundane, behind-a-desk worker to an unlikely savior of a young pregnant woman — one the English officials would kill to have and one traitors to the cause would love to exploit for their own benefit; if either knew she existed.

"Children of Men," as a film, is peppered with genius, a genius greatly described and explained in the DVD’s montage of extras. There are deleted scenes, alternative viewing languages, making-of featurettes, commentary on the film’s ideals and a 30-plus minute documentary on the film's storytelling and how it portrays reality.

"The Possibility of Hope," the documentary, points out things about the film and its direction that everyone sees when watching it, but might not fully realize. The documentary touches on the film's beautiful aspect of hope while exploring the dangers of oppression in the form of ignorance and capitalism, which are the film's two main antagonists.

One of the film's most abrasive scenes is when Theo, Kee and Kee's midwife Miriam arrive at a refugee outpost that’s being controlled by British soldiers. As their bus pulls up to the outpost, outside the windows there can be seen cages full of refugees — some are being prodded by soldiers, some are completely naked and being taunted; some are being electrocuted, and some are being badly beaten. If the scene does only one thing for the viewer, it's that it reminds them of past and present occurrences that have happened and continue to happen with relevance to current world events and negative, government-sanctioned treatment of others. And the feelings viewers get while watching it? That of shame, regret, pity and sorrow — exactly one of the points Cuarón wants to get across.

The featurettes "Under Attack," "Theo and Julian Futuristic Design" and "Visual Effects: Creating the Baby" all open windows into the film’s interesting directorial, editorial and production sequences.

"Under Attack" showcases Cuarón's and his staff's tenacious attitude toward the directing approach taken to the film. There’s a scene that takes place entirely inside a compact car, no bigger than a Civic, with dialogue and interaction between five individuals. The entire scene is shot without jumps, meaning it’s one sequential shot. "Under Attack" shows how, with the help of technology and a little bit of elbow grease, the crew is able to pull it off.

"Visual Effects: Creating the Baby" is an interesting view because it shows how the entire delivery of Kee's child was created. From watching the movie it's hard to tell Ashitey was in a prosthetic body during the shoot, or that the baby was computer-generated, so it's kind of neat to been shown how it was all done.

As a film, "Children of Men" illustrates the triumph of compassion, understanding and hope over everything else. As a DVD, the value of the detailed look into those ingredients is priceless. It's but once a decade a film like this comes along, and it's been a long time since an entertaining yet enlightening DVD has made its way onto store shelves. Taste what "Children of Men" has to offer, and savor every minute of it.

Rating: A

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Lo-Fi Version Time: 5th July 2020 - 01:28 AM



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