Archive for November, 2008

Nothing to do will give you nothing to say

Posted in Life with tags , , , , , , , , on November 25, 2008 by thenewserials

I’ve been away for a little while; but, that’s only because I’ve been lazy and not very busy.

As you can tell I enjoyed Quantum of Solace, a good quality film that achieved the objective it set out on.

Other than that I haven’t been really doing anything; except playing with my laptop and watching T.V.

24: Redemption was on the other day and I also enjoyed that.

I’m sitting in my reporting class right now trying to figure out what I’m going to write for my final. I have to do a three paged paper on a story of my choice. I have chosen, subsequently, to do a story on Proposition 8’s potential effects on New York City. I, hopefully, plan to interview some people with the idea that maybe proposition 8 will hold hope for their beliefs for New York in the future. That way I can craft a story of two New York’s that are going to be effected by the ripple of the crater known as proposition 8.

The biggest problem with that is that I can’t figure out what the story is. I mean I have the idea; I have the plan; but, why should anyone care? Where is the conflict? The other issue is that I don’t know where I’m going to find an avid “Yes for Prop 8” person in NYC that is going to #1 speak to me and #2 not drive me up a wall with their ignorance,

I hope that Barry and Doron could give me some good quotes and insights; but, it’s really a interview with someone at the center that I’m hoping for. It’s a high level very prominent place to do an interview at and it’ll give me a chance to go out and do some more information searching.

I just don’t know what I want the story to focus on…

Also I’m supposed to have this thing memorized for Acting II by 3 pm and it’s already 1:38pm and I don’t know anything.

I can’t wait til this day is over and I can rest til thanksgiving.

I probably won’t blog til after then, since I never have anything to say.

In the meantime i should plug some of my fanfictions, I know I’m a dork but you can find them at:

www.fanfiction.net/~covington

 

i’ll be back soon; hopefully I’ll have a job then.

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Review: Quantum Of Solace

Posted in Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 15, 2008 by thenewserials

Bond Is Back.

It’s such a cliche that has been over the years in the franchise and I had to use it at least once. But; however may, corny the line might be it has always been true.

The Bond film franchise is the longest running movie franchise and the most successful. It has introduced phrases and events into the world that will probably not be forgotten anytime soon. Starting with Dr. No Sean Connery helped shape what action movies would like in the future. Goldfinger helped introduce gadgetry and Bond superior wit as well as the idea of the “Bond” title song. Moonraker showed Bond could go into space. License to Kill showed Bond could seek revenge. Goldeneye showed Bond could bounce back after eight years of silence and Casino Royale showed that Blond locks could not conquer the Bond lock on the world.

Daniel Craig arguably had the most difficult task in becoming the new Bond in terms of how how he was viewed in the eyes of the press and media. But in 2006 he took his newly printed license to kill and blew audience’s away with the masterful Casino Royale. Craig always said that for the next one the burden would be more difficult to create a movie better than the first.

So at first, long, glance Bond 22 which would aptly be named “Quantum Of Solace” would be the most difficult Bond movie to make. Making matters even worse the choice to make Quantum a direct sequel to Royale came almost immediately after the films announcement.

Problems of all sort would follow: Writers Strikes, who’s going to direct, trying to find a Bond girl, angry government officials, perilous accidents, the choice for the singer of the title song, the strange title choice. It seemed Quantum was poised to be doom from the start I’m afraid…

Thank goodness none of that slowed down the film at all. Quantum of Solace is the solidification one needed to prove that Craig has beaten out Connery for best Bond actor. It’s a high octane action film with some serious heart. And while it does work on it’s own it is better in conjunction with Casino Royale.

Many critics in early reviews slammed Quantum for being too short and too action oriented; saying that at best it makes a excellent action film; but, an average Bond film. This simply is not true. The Bond elements are their; but, they are under tremendous amounts of strain and that is shown masterfully by Daniel Craig.

Quantum shows Bond on only his second mission as a 00 Agent and the vulnerability of Vesper Lynd’s death in Casino Royale still haunts him as well it should considering the movie opens only minutes after Royale ended. Anyone looking for quick one liners and the usual Bond pleasantries have lost focus on the story being told and decided to become a slave to the idea that tradition may never be broken save in failure. Quantum explores a deep part of the psyche as to why Bond is the way he is without becoming too introverted. It’s still an action film; but, there are some deep thoughtful moments within the film.

The acting in the film is still top notch; from the emotionally damaged Bond; to the vengeful Camille, to the snide Dominic Greene, to the questioning M; everyone is on par and helps to make their part of the film more watchable than the last. Without a doubt Quantum goes out of it’s way to deliver a dark, forbidding tale of revenge and death and does it with the finesse of a blunt club dressed in the finest silk.

The action is superior to all other actions films; not necessarily because of technique; but, what shows on screen a lack of technique. The fights look gritty and dirty; this isn’t like choreographed studio fighting; these people look like their really going at it.  The same goes for the Car sequence, in which, I found myself gripping my seat. It wasn’t spectacular in form; but, man did it look REAL. Quantum delivers the action and continues to. The movie is punctuated by some great sequences and despite what I’ve read from critics they are NOT gratuitous and all serve a point.

That’s not to say that the movie is perfect; there are aspects of the film one could do without. The shaking camera has never been a problem for me before and i fact it enhances the reality of the film; but, during some sequences it was hard to tell what was happening and took away from the action. This was minor; but, occurred in the beginning dampening my first impression. Some chances are taken with the editing creating a frantic way of viewing some sequences; but, it’s not horrible the risk are taken out of the idea of making art and they can be off putting for an average viewer.

The only real stinker about this movie was the title song. Bond fans know that when the opening title song suffers it subsequently drags the movie down too. It’s supposed to our window into he rest of the film; and get us excited for what’s next. And, in a way, it achieved that goal; Because when it came on I couldn’t wait for it to end and for the next part of the film to start. “Another Way To Die” is the worst fitting Bond song yet and no one in the audience seemed particularly interested in hearing it again.

Overall Quantum of Solace is a great movie and it’d be a mistake to miss it. It’s got everything that Casino Royale had and sometimes more and takes away the length of it’s predecessor; but, the movie did not feel short to me.

Score out of 10

9.0/10

America: The Double Edged Sword

Posted in Life with tags , , , , , , , , on November 5, 2008 by thenewserials

So Barack Obama is the President Elect.

It’s rather odd watching the news and seeing history being made; I know years from now I’ll see clips of last night and be able to place where I was and how i felt. It’s like looking into the future to watch myself look into the past. An odd feeling by all accounts; but, one I can be proud of for the rest of my life.

To think that 51 years ago African American’s gained the ability to vote and here they are now winning presidential elections and such. It’s the end of a political season that has been both tiring and bruising. I’ve never felt so strongly about politics; I get involved, I have my opinion; but, I’ve never really been sure of something like this before. Watching how the race started and how it has ultimately finished is a stark difference.; but, to quote Chrissie Hynde “One Thing Never Changed” and that’s Barack Obama’s respect and moral integrity. Above all he didn’t bother to stoop to the levels of the McCain/Palin ticket (which was done out of desperation) and stayed the example of a proud American working at full capacity without sacrificing his/her moral beliefs and standards. It has made me even more proud to live in this country and share it with everyone who is here…even the disgusting bigots who I’ll refer to right now…

In not so happy news; California, Arkansas and Florida have taken a step backwards while the rest of the nation happily jumped forward. Proposition bigot, er, I mean eight passed in California allowing for same sex marriages to be illegal under the states constitution. A similar bill was passed in Florida and Arkansas passed a bill banning Homosexual couples from adopting children.

There is seriously something wrong with a country that doesn’t want to extend benefits for people who date different people from the rest of them. These propositions are clear and blatant examples of the bigotry that still exist within the country; that I hope Obama will address in his Presidency. It’s strange to see that adoption by same-sex couples is illegal. In a country that has so many needing children who need a family; you would think people would try to make it as easy for them as humanly possible; but, because they don’t agree with people’s lifestyle. It’s sick and it’s retroactive.

This brings me to the point of why I’m proud of African Americans for proving that I’m 97% right all the time. I used to say:

“African American’s won’t make it anywhere; because they refuse to stick together and instead want make it as individuals and never as a group of people. Their struggles in the past have been almost nulled by the current generation and unless something major happens their going to settle for anything.”

And essentially I’m right. Yesterday they showed that they could come together and totally smash the odds. They took something that could grasped the election. Imagine what else they could achieve if they worked together?

And now I’m saying the same thing about Homosexuals. They really need to go out there and stop excepting Civil Unions. Start Demanding marriage and if they don’t give it to you; take it. I’m not promoting violence; I’m promoting taking whats your right as an American person. It’s time to stop being complacent and start being loud and obnoxious. I’m proud of my African American Brothers and sisters for sticking together and now I need my homosexual, bisexual whateversexuals to stick together and get what they deserve.

Even more so it would be my ultimate dream to see the African American community embrace the Homosexual community and recognize they’re still back there. They’ve moved up and it’s time to look back and lend a helping hand. Don’t make the double-edge Sword of America’s tolerence get sharper. Sharper your end for equality and rights and dull the end of seperate; but, equal mindsets.

Together America can be the place in the world that everyone should look at.

And that Day Could always be Today.

Overdue Review: Gun Showdown

Posted in Overdue Review with tags , , , , , , , , , on November 2, 2008 by thenewserials
Hookers and, Horses and Apaches Oh my!

Hookers and, Horses and Apaches Oh my!

Neversoft, Activision and Rebellion team up to bring PSP players a game they might enjoy. Sadly most attempts at that particular goal fail miserably; but, Gun Showdown, an alternate version of the game Gun released on the PS2.

The game follows essentially the same story as Gun the PS2. In the wild west era Colton White finds his world turned upside down when people around him begin getting killed. Quickly he makes the choice the set out on a Vendetta and get vengeance against the people who harm him.

The game is geninuinly fun; I wasn’t sure how I was going to react to it. I’m usually not a huge fan of shooter games and equally not as excited with the Wild West era theme; but, I found myself actually liking Gun Showdown. The first level did indeed confuse the hell out of me; the controls aren’t explained for some reason and they follow a command not usually followed in games. It took me a good while to figure out how to move.

Once I figured out how to move; the game picked up for me; I found myself very interested in what the plot was going to end up being. The first half hour of the game sets the mood for the entire game. It’s clear why the game is marked mature. Again I’m not a huge fan of “M” games simply because I think most publishers use the rating as an excuse to be gratuitous and raunchy; but, Gun Showdown doesn’t ever seem to be too much of anything. There’s blood; there’s sex and there’s alcohol; but, it really feels like a wild west drama. When a whore gets impaled with an axe you don’t go: “wow that’s extreme” you say “well that sucks” because, for some reason, the events seem to be normal for the life that you’re inhabiting in the game.

Another credit to Gun Showdown is it’s main character: Colton White. White is a likable guy; and you find yourself instantly siding with him after his tragedy. His pain is so underplayed that it seems very believable; but, not underplayed where it seems he was destined to go on a Vendetta in the first place. A part of this believability comes from the superior voice in acting in the game. In a previous review for Spider-Man: Web of Shadows I commented on how the cheesy voice acting made it hard to believe any character in the game was invested in their story at any point of time in the game. Gun Showdown doesn’t suffer from this problem at all the voice acting is spot-on at every point of the game. The villains sound like villains and the heroes sound like people you wouldn’t want to ever cross. This is in part because the game is voiced over by actual actors and actresses instead of random voice over actors. Thomas Jane (The Punisher)  provides the voice for Colton White with additional support from Lance Henrickson (Aliens) Brad Dourif (Lord of The Ring: The Two Towers) and Kris Krisofferson (Blade).

The plot moves slowly; which is also a benefit to the game, too often shooter games jump the gun (no pun intended) and reveal the whole story within the first hour of the game and the rest of the game is series of shoot ’em up levels that don’t advance the story in any way. The main villains are identified, some through twist and turns, but, they are villains only in a small way of thinking, their plot and plans aren’t revealed to almost the very end of the game; letting the player advance through the game learning new things about characters and the culture continuously. Are there some cliche ideas here and there? Yes. Is the story a genius work of art? No. But it’s suitable and a good departure from most PSP games.

The gameplay is nothing revolutionary except that its actual fun to play. Once the player gets used to controls the game flows like water. It’s not different than any other shooter; but, there’s something that makes this game more enjoyable than some of it’s shooter brethren. The missions pretty much follow the same idea; kill everybody and don’t die. Sometimes deviating to kill everybody, don’t die, don’t let this person die or don’t let that explosion go off. It’s the same; but, for some reason it’s always fun. The new weapons upgraded since Gun are a welcome; it allows for some varied gameplay and the side missions aren’t that bad either.

That’s not to say that Gun Showdown is not without it’s flaws. Most of which I attribute to Neversoft who have been producing the Tony Hawk skateboarding series games for years now. The same problems that accompany that game also brings this one down. Sometimes the camera will shift; or levels will be unclear; but, it’s nothing catastrophic, annoying, but, nothing serious. Activision brings in some of the bonus levels that has Colton doing various things in short amounts of time that resemble a lot of the X-Men Ultimate Alliance games. But I have to attribute the best of the three to the one company that doesn’t appear on the cover of the game: Rebellion.

When I started playing the game I was very happy to see the Rebellion animation come up. Their work with Star wars Battlefront: Renegade Squadron really impressed me and one can see a lot of the best parts of that game in Gun Showdown.

All in all; I really enjoyed Gun Showdown and I put it up there with one of the better PSP games. I’d suggest picking it up; it’s not too big so one could probably catch it at their local Gamestop or whatever the local video game store chain is, used for a good price and it’s well worth it. The quick play games are fun and it’s a fun game to be had.

Rating: out of ten

9.0/10.

Overdue Review: The Rezillos “Can’t Stand The Rezillos. The (Almost) Complete Rezillos”

Posted in Overdue Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 1, 2008 by thenewserials
Punk Gets Smart!

Punk Gets Smart!

Can’t Stand The Rezillos. The (Almost) Complete Rezillos is one of the best albums you can buy at any record store.

Prefaced with that; this review will probably end up being a long gushing period of how much I personally enjoy this CD. It has humor; it has class, it has a song about the best T.V. show of the period (Thunderbirds!). There’s nothing not to like on this album except that the booklet shamelessly announces that the live version of “Destination Venus” had to be omitted (damned ‘time constrictions’!). Still there’s something to be desired by the album, in a good way, after listening to this album you just want MORE Rezillos.

The Rezillos had a signature sound; like many of the best bands out there, but, they’re a unique kind. The Space propaganda/punk/new wave sound is something that doesn’t happen to often. Clearly being thrown from the 50’s and 60’s the Rezillos bring the ‘old future’ to music and do it in the humerous way that allows for laughs and good rock music. A friend of mine said: “The Rezillos are like an edgier B-52’s” and he was very right. “Rock Lobster” is now “Flying Saucer Attack”.

The band is such top form that it’s hard to believe that it can get any better than what they are at the time. John Callis on Vocals nd Guitar, Simon Templar on Bass, Angel Paterson on Drums, Eugene Reynolds and Fay Fife on Vocals, William Mysterious on extra Bass and Saxaphone and Gail Warning on backing Vocals, help make the album an expirence.

From the first track “Flying Saucer Attack” in which Fife tells the story of our universal neighboors coming down to clear out our skylines (“Tell everybody to run and hide because the end is near at hand! Flying Saucer Attack, I’m never coming back, oh oh oh until it’s over), to the last track “Mystery Action” where Reynolds energetically states about a woman “She’s never far away; but, she’s always out of sight” and everything in between is full of a band playing at their best and loving every moment.

Another unique quality to the album is that most of the songs are covers from the 60’s pop era; given a smack of punk rock at it’s best. This isn’t the monotone punk that deserved death at the end of the 70’s this is the punk that you MISSED when it left.

From start to finish it’s hard to pick a favorite song; this album isn’t dominated by the popular “Somebody’s Gonna Get Their Head Kicked In Tonight”, the album contains catchy tune after catchy tune and none of them let up with the rock. There’s not one ballad on this album and it never seems rushed. Every moment of every song seems classic from the opening of “It Gets Me” (“You suddenly don’t like words you talk so much it’s uncool) to the barrage of anger in “Bad Guy Reaction” (“Oh do think I’m stupid, don’t ever try to put me down!”) you find yourself entranced at how diverse and fun the album is.

The second half the album has the Rezillos live; which is a testemant to their good work; the listener is treated to the familiars(my baby does, good Sculptures), some newbies(Teen Beat) and some old  non-Rezillos Classics (Land of a thousand Dances and I need you). There’s not a moment to be missed and there’s nothing else to say in this review except; go get the damned thing if you haven’t got it yet.

Rating out of 10

10/10

Overdue Review: The Pretenders ‘Packed!’

Posted in Overdue Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , , on November 1, 2008 by thenewserials
The Pretenders 5th album in their legacy

The Pretenders 5th album in their legacy

In 1990 Chrissie Hynde returned to the studio to record her fifth Pretenders album: Packed! No longer backed with any of the former Pretenders from Martin Chambers to T.M. Stevens; Hynde settled for a series of talented session musicians to fill in the Pretenders name.

Packed! is probably the most ironic of the Pretenders album names; seemingly because the album isn’t packed with much. All in all Packed! is a heavy album that suddenly; before recording, got light.

Many will find this next statement wrong: Packed! is the best album (in intent) since Pretenders II; but, the worst in execution. I say that for a number of reasons. The first is that it sees Hynde out of the dreaded ‘1986 fatigue’ where everything became new wave/punk. She’s back in her element creating rock music not, immediately, influenced by anyone. The second is that the repertoire of songs on Packed! are the most diverse since Pretenders I, their first album, from dreamy ballads like “Let’s Make a Pact” to dark, unsentimental rockers like “Dowtown (Akron)” to groovy Reggae like “How Do I miss You” Packed! is packed with a lot of different ideas.

However Packed! is not without it’s fair share of problems. At best Packed! is fatigued and sad sounding, even when it’s supposed to be uplifting or badass. Hynde seems to be interested in what she’s performing; but, just not ready to perform it. Packed! sees Hynde a little less restricted as well on this album. One of the joys of Hynde is that she always seems to know when to give enough, never too much, never too little. There’s a restriction there that works in their favor. No matter what she does she always seems in control. On Packed! she lets herself go a little more; songs like “Millionaires” see Hynde belting on notes here and there and they don’t sound bad; but, for Pretenders followers it’s a bit of a surprise to see her do so much on a record; there’s works and fails in ways. It’s a nice new thing to revel over; but, the genius of control seems to be gone. Another ‘issue’ with Packed! is the sometimes lyrical value of it; For example “No Guarantee” has Hynde singing and rocking out; but, if one is prepared to say her writing is above par; then their willing to say they know what she’s talking about. Again it’s not bad; but, different and in a new direction.

The last two faults of Packed! are ones that would be corrected after the album with the live set The Isle of View and their next studio album Last of the Independents. The first is the session players: Billy Bremmer, Blair Cunningham and John Mckenzie appear of the album credits the most and they along with the other musicians are great players; but, they’re not a band. Bremmer adds some much needed continuity to a new band because he previously played on “Back on the Chain Gang” and “My City Was Gone” from the album Learning to Crawl; However, the band feels like session players playing for a talented artist. Nothing wrong with that; but, that’s not what a Pretenders album was. The other problem with the album is the Producer Mitchell Froom is probably a great producer; but, Packed! is not his best attempt. At times the songs seem lazy and he opted into the idea of using the airy echo sound that was dominant at the time for every song and it doesn’t suit the band well at times. Most of the time Packed! feels as if Hynde was performing it whilst half sleepy and in a daze.

Many Pretenders fans debate which is the least favorable album Get Close or Packed! and their really isn’t any answer to that question, Whereas Packed! was full of good ideas and lackluster production, Get Close was full of different Ideas and better (but not the best) production. It really comes down to how you view an album: on intent Packed! is the superior album; but, on execution Get Close proves to more formiddable.

All in all both albums are still better than most; and Hynde’s genius, even if slightly dimished, is still greater than the sum of her peers.

Packed! is an album that will have people thinking “What if?” What if the album was produced better; what would it sound like? Breifly we recieved a glimpse at this on the Isle of View where “Criminal” is performed acoustically and with such poetry and beauty that it solidifies that Packed! wasn’t just another album. Also years later Pirate Radio, the Pretenders box set, would contain an “alternate” version of Hold a Candle to This”; which would prove to be much better produced and sees Hynde with much more enthusiam and a few lyrical changes that better suit the song. Listening to that makes me really wonder if there’s a better produced version of Packed! somewhere, and if there is…

Are we ready for it?

Rating out of 10

8.3/10