Log in

About this Journal
Current Month
Aug. 7th, 2006 @ 08:35 pm Blah
Current Mood: stressedstressed
Current Music: Creed - Wrong Way
Today was a pretty shitty day. Aside from school starting...

Naw. I just feel like I got slapped in the face, though, with today's first day of school. It seems that every single teacher I had except Mr. Waddell immediately gave out all of this stuff with the attitude of, "DO IT NOW!" You know, with no time wasted. Just stressed me out beyond all belief is all. Course it wouldn't have been that bad had my printer been working here... Seeing as how 95% of what was assigned had to do with printouts and typing things to print out and the printer at my house is crapping out, I was a bit worried about how I was going to get all the stuff taken care of. Yes, the school has computers but it's not a sure thing. It's just so much more secure to be able to hear, "Type up this assignment," and know that there's a sure fire printer at your house you can use.

And of course my motive behind all of this is to try and get a little ahead since I know for a fact that once Theatre Company gets going in full swing I'll be back where I was last year and just doing enough to get by and doing stuff all at the last minute. And while I'll profess that the art of high school is how much can you do at the last minute and make it look like you took weeks to get it that good looking, getting ahead when you know that there will be days when you're at school until 9:00 at night (though I hope not) is a good goal.

Anyway, that's it. Seems like it will be a fun year. Now I have to memorize my monologue for auditions on Thursday.
About this Entry
Rogue Squadron
Aug. 6th, 2006 @ 11:01 pm A Glorious Return
Current Mood: pensivereflective
Current Music: Creed - Are You Ready?
Hello to all the faithful! If I can truly say that. It's not like I write a major column and have a cult following or anything...

So anyway, to those of you out there, you're probably wondering why I haven't updated since December. Good question. Simple answer: there was just too much stuff going on and writing self analytical/ self fullfilling entries on livejournal just didn't seem to important. There.

News from the past eight months: I've just been thinking and meditating on life and my goals in it and my veiws on it. I would say that I've had a quiet crisis of faith in my self, so to speak. I just felt distanced from who I used to be even from just a year ago. It just seemed like that all the ideals and mantras that I tried to carry out had been thrown out the door and that they were nothing but bullshit. You know? And maybe it's because senior year starts tomorrow and now I'm thinking nostalgically about the past and the future or maybe its something else, but suddenly I feel whole again and that everything I try to live for is real and just as viable as it used to be.

Next. Novel update: the novel is up to 670 pages. Yep. It won't end. It will keep on going indefinately. That's right. I will never end it. Naw, just kidding. I know exactly how I want it to end it's just a matter of getting there. My whole writing system for this whole fiasco has simlpy been, "Okay, here's point A where the characters start. Then here's point F where I want them to get to. Fill in the blanks on the fly." Honestly. So I'll see where it needs to go and how to get there, but on the way there something will pop up and I'll say, "Oooh, that's a good idea!"

I've often worried that my book has lost its focus/feel during all this time. I have been working on it for three years now. It sort of serves as a reflection of my thoughts and feelings on life and certain situations and sometimes I feel like either those have beencome distorted or lost (see above) or that I've just been writing it so long that I've lost touch with the characters. But then I step back, seriously read what I wrote, and find that it all works, it's all great, and that the novel is simply evolving naturally as both the plot and characters need to over such a long story. And the reflections of life remain true. I find that my doubts are nothing but an overly worried mind.

That's my insight into the writing process.

Meanwhile, tons of good movies this year. Tons. "V for Vendetta" came out on DVD the other day and I've watched it nearly non-stop. Man, I love that movie. As is my tradition, here are my ratings for the top movies to come out so far this year:

Ryan's Movie Rankings for 2006
1. V for Vendetta
2. Pirates of the Carribean: Dead Man's Chest
3. Clerks II
4. Superman Returns
5. Scoop

Am I missing any? Be sure to tell me if I am, Devin.

Anyway, this has been too long and you're bored now. See you at school tomorrow!
About this Entry
Rogue Squadron
Dec. 26th, 2005 @ 08:05 pm I Have Lots of Reveiws to Do...
Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful
Current Music: Scott Stapp - Reach Out
As is a custom of mine and many of you out there, I will be using this time to reveiw some stuff that has recently popped up including movies, CD's, and the like. Read on, but beware: it is very long. However, I encourage you to read it all to glean what I'm thinking right now. Right now. Now.


The first thing that I thought after seeing Peter Jackson's "King Kong" after the second time (yes, it took me two times to get my thoughts on it straight) was that it was overly-long for the subject matter and Jackson was comlpetely self indulgent in the whole thing (but it has been his dream project for years). And it was absolutely amazing. Peter Jackson shows in "Kong" that he has more good movies up his sleeves than just LOTR.

First off, the movie runs at over three hours long. What?! How does a movie about a giant ape run at over  THREE HOURS? Simple. Jackson gives you characters that matter and makes every single minute of that three hours matter for something in the end. Surprisingly, considering the simplicity of "Kong"'s story, every minute of the three hours held my attention and kept me riveted to the story. Every shot is essential in some form and undeniably excelent. It takes about an hour for the expedition to actually get to the island, another fifteen minutes for Kong to appear. And all of that over an hour was riveting. The plot and tension steadily build over that time, so that when Kong finally does appear it is a truely awesome moment.

No one can deny that Jackson completely self-induldged in this movie. What with it being his dream project and the fact that with LOTR's success any studio would give Jackson any amount of money he wanted to do whatever he wanted, Jackson doesn't spare any expense. And once again, it proves the best aspect of the film. Every sequence tops the previous one in visual excitement and emotional involvement. The very first big action sequence in the movie will leave you with your jaw wide open. So when the next one comes along and blows that one away, you're left in total shock. And then the next action sequence blows that previous one away. Not to mention the bug pit from hell... All in all, Jackson serves up a platter of eye candy that, while looking fantastic (WETA digital certainly will take home the Oscar this year) the effects serve the movie, offering wonder and adventure that fit the movie's tone. Never do the effects feel tacked on or (a la "Star Wars") seem to be screaming, "Hey! Look! Some sequence that could never have been done without computers! Look! We're using special effects!"

Next come the actors. The main acting parts form a quartet that is extremely well cast, offering a huge variety of acting styles and characters. Adrien Brody takes the male lead as Jack Driscol. Brody is an excelent actor and plays Jack excelently, sort of the normal guy becoming a humble hero. Naomi Watts plays Anne Darrow  in this, once again showing that she has definite tallent. Watts' Darrow is all at once pittialbe, humurous, compasionate, and everything else. Next comes Jack Black. Many had severe fear when they heard Black had been cast in such a movie, wary that such a man commended for his commedy could pull off something dramatic. These fears are quickly squashed within five minutes of Black's entrance into the movie. Black presents the movie producer Carl [insert last name here] as a sleazy, slimy guy who will go to any lengths and sacrifice as many people (physically and emotionally) as he needs to in order to better himself and make a profit. Last in the quartet is Kong himself, a digital character created from motion capturing actor Andy Serkis. It's an interesting fusion, but a very good one. Serkis give Kong a very lifelike movement that makes him a living and breathing element, not just a CGI monster. Additionally, as Devin tells me, Serkis wore 32 sensors on his face alone to capture facial expressions. The hard work pays off. Kong is the mute (so to speak) in the movie so facial expressions are really how we see what's going on in that head of his. The intricate detail such a process puts into the animation is astounding.

And so the story slowly builds, releases, then builds again for a full three hours, culminating in the famous fight atop the Empire State Building. It really is a movie that is so grand that it would take several pages just to iron out a describe the basics of why it was good. In addtion to what has already been mentioned, the producion design was great, creating not only a good looking 1930's NY, but the whole movie had a sort of nostalgic "golden-age of Hollywood" look to it. More detail could be provided, but you're probably bored now.

There's just something there keeping "Kong" from being a five star movie. I couldn't tell you what. Maybe its that Jackson set the bar so high with LOTR that after seeing the sheer genius and heart of those movies nothing can stand up to them. Or perhaps it is something else. Maybe while sitting there watching the thing your subconscience is going, "Okay, great. How much more of this?" I don't know, however that doesn't keep "King Kong" from being a fantastic movie all of its own, sure to garner plenty of Oscar nominations if not wins.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Ryan's Top Movies for 2005
1. Serenity
2. King Kong
3. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
4. Star Wars Episode III: Revenge of the Sith
5. The Corpse Bride


As a fan of Creed, seeing the solo efforts put out by its former members is of a particular interest to me. Mark Tremonti and the other musicians from the band have already started their next thing in the form of Alter Bridge. Their first album One Day Remains, was astounding, showing that guitarist Mark Tremonti acutally had quite a bit of talent as he broke from his role as simple rhythm provider for Creed and started to tear up his guitar for the new band with fiery solos. The band itself got a new sound and platform, far outstripping anything they did with Creed, rocking harder than ever.

Now former Creed singer Scott Stapp has his debut album out. In all simplicity: if you hated Creed then you'll hate this, if you loved Creed then you'll love this. People have criticized Alter Bridge for only being "Creed, Part II." Obviously they haven't heard Stapp's new record. The sound is nearly identical to Creed's. Sure, there are some variations and there is far more background guitar variations than in the earlier band, but the feel is basically the same.

Maybe that's why the CD succeeds so well. Creed's sound wasn't bad nor was their exectuion of it. It was crunching, if perhaps tried-and-done-before rock, but it was darn good for what it was. Therein is what this CD is. Stapp throws in a whole new lineup of lyrics, lets the guitarists fiddles around a bit with solos (though they aren't tecnical nor truely solos seeing as Stapp is still singing when they play), and gives a very convincing performance along the way.

All I can say is that that man is angry. Stapp paints a definite picture of anger and frustration throughout the CD, giving it a very dark and edgy feel throughout, even on the lighter songs. All of it comes together nicely and layers together fine. Stapp's singing is great and has changed a bit from the Creed days, offering up something new to listen to. Meanwhile the band backing him up is... well... there. Even before I got the CD I thought, "It's just Stapp singing with some rent-a-band to back him up." The band is hardly rent-a-band material, but then they are hardly Mark Tremonti, Brian Marshall, and Scott Phillips either. The band that backs Stapp is tecnically proficient, providing a crunching background assemlby of distorted guitars, thrumming  bass, and drums to keep it all in line. Like I said before, the CD is different from Creed in that Stapp gives the guitars a little more to do than just put out a melody (a role Mark Tremonti was basically forced into for Creed in order to keep the band going. Ask me about it for more detail.) The guitarists put out some double harmonies a la Pearl Jam in that you can listen to each speaker seperatley and hear a slightly different melody. This provides good variation throughout the album. The guitars even get to do some solos, however they are hidden behind Stapp's voice, and they are not very tecnical, only really serving to break up the monotomy of thrumming bass/guitar riffs.

Which brings me back to point one: while the style may be slightly different, the sound is basically Creed all over again, which is why Alter Bridge gains the upper hand and is the better band. While Stapp sticks with the tried and true, the musicians of Alter Bridge have changed their style and grown as musicians, bringing something new to the table and elevating themselves as music makers to a higher plane of proficiency.

That is not to say that the album isn't good. Far from it. I have listened to it two times today and have loved it each time. It is well crafted and proves to be a good album to put in when you're just that little bit frustrated at the world. But it leaves the question: If Stapp had just let Mark Tremonti take care of the music and Stapp had just written the lyrics and not been such an overbearing, self-centered asshole, what kind of monstrously awesome band could have resulted? As it is, we're left with Alter Bridge climbing to new heights and Scott Stapp turning out good tried and true stuff but forced to stay in the slipstream of his more inventive former-bandmates.

Rating for "The Great Divide" by Scott Stapp:
4/5 stars

Oh, and Merry Christmas everyone!
About this Entry
Rogue Squadron
Dec. 14th, 2005 @ 08:13 pm Biding My Time...
Current Mood: calmcalm
Current Music: Led Zeppelin - The Rain Song
We go on winter break in a week (or so). I'm just biding my time to see how little work I can do these coming few days and still maintain high enough grades in my clases that I won't have to actually study for the finals. I already took the trig final (nearly aced it) and have a 96/97 in the class anyway so a final wouldn't be that stressful. I'm exempting English (Ha! Wipe that smug grin off your face Devin!) so that's one less. AP will be easy because for some strange reason I just absorb information like crazy in that class. I can't rember anything from World History but U.S. History sticks with me... Spanish is really the only class where a final could prove bothersome. Hopefully I did fine on the writing (How could I not? There were about zero requirements other than to write words), I didn't do so hot on the speaking, but the multiple choice should prove easy. Maybe even with extra credit and complete homework stamp sheet, I could end the quarter with a 94 or so, giving me a bigger margin of error for the final.

So that's school. Think I sound over-anxious about finals to get good grades? In two years when NYU not only accepts me but also decides to give me a partial free ride for my hard work and dedication, then I'll be happy. Not to mention the scholarships that would be available for the taking with all this hard work...

Learned five new chords on the guitar today. That brings my total to about twenty-two chords that I know, two complete songs, several intros, and little else.

Revelations and revisitations within the past few days:

1.LED ZEPPELIN FUCKING OWNS. As if this wasn't already apparent. I've been listening to "Houses of the Holy" for the past few days and it only makes me like them more and revere Jimmy Paige more.
2. I MUST SEE "KING KONG". I wanted to see it tonight but I'm just going to wait for the weekend. Reveiws say its brilliant, just way too long. I have a thing for long movies though so I'll have to see if it tries my patience.
3. JOHN PETRUCCI IS A GOD. Enough said.
4. THE COEN (spelled right?) BROTHERS ARE AWESOME. "The Big Lebowski", "Fargo", and now in English we're wathcing another one by them called "The Huskbucker (or something) Proxy" staring Tim Robbins. Brilliant.
5.SERENITY COMES OUT ON DVD DEC. 20. The best movie to come out thus far this year will soon be mine to watch over and over again so as to glean all of the awesomeness from it. Ahhh.... "How strange is that?" -Mr. Universe
6. THE IMPROV SHOW WAS GREAT. We pulled off a good closing show for the semester.

That's my world as of this moment. Exactly this moment. Right now. Not later, not before, but now. Sort of like the derivative to my life...
About this Entry
Rogue Squadron
Nov. 26th, 2005 @ 07:05 pm Work Makes You Think
Current Mood: calmcalm
Current Music: Dream Theater - The Answer Lies Within
I have way too much time to think at work. It is not exactly the most metally stimulating job in the world, bagging groceries and such, so my mind wanders much. Here are some profound (um....) revelations that I had at work today.

1. You know those celebrities (aka Brad Pitt, Angelina Jolie, Britney Spears, etc.) that you see in the tabloids and celebrity gossip magazines? They're all whores. Every single last one of them. Consider it: they get together with someone for a few weeks, sleep around, get married (so that people will go, "Oh, they're normal" instead of uncovering them for the whores that they are), they get divorced a few weeks to two months later when they start sleeping around with someone else. Sure, they're not your typical whores who have sex ten times a night for money, but doesn't this seem like whorish behavior?

2. Okay, get this. We live in a free market economy, right? In such an economy, any service or product that someone wants to sell is available for the selling, correct? The only restricting factors on the availability of the product or service is the law of supply and demand, correct? So then, prostitution is a legal business under a free market system, isn't it? It's a service, and under the system if people want it then it should be plentiful, but if people don't then it should die off.

Prostitution could also flourish under a comunist system. I can see the czar/dictator patting a peasant on the head and saying, "Here is your bread rasion for the week and two free tickets for the week! Enjoy!"


So yeah. There has got to be something better to do with my time...
About this Entry
Rogue Squadron
Nov. 25th, 2005 @ 08:16 pm How'd They Do That?
Current Mood: tiredtired
Current Music: "Garden State" Soundtrack
It's really funny when you watch movies from about the -70's and -80's because some of them have special effects that really make you wonder, "How did they do that back then?" Like I was watching "Ghostbusters" yesterday and that was made in about 1980 or something and if you watch it, the bolts and ghosts and stuff look really good to consider that it was made in a time when computers were nowhere near as powerful as they are now. How'd they composite all that stuff together?

I went to wikipedia and tried looking up information on how special effects used to be done, but no luck. Anyone out there know how or have a site or something to look it up on? I do have to say that I have developed a deep apreciation of special effects (namely visual effects in this case. I'll just say 'special' because its cooler) in older movies because their technology wasn't as user friends and powerful as it is now. I've used this example before and I'll use it again: Star Wars battle of Endor vs. battle of Coruscant in Episode III. That's one of the reason my interest in old movie special effects has piqued as of late. How did they fit all those ships and stuff into one image for the Battle of Endor? They didn't have a computer around powerful enough to just composite it all in there for them. So what's the secret? So as not to set off a forst fire with the Mr. Ballance types, I am not detracting from computer animation at all. I realize how much work goes into it, but I DO know how computers work and I know for a fact that with such a sequence as a space battle like the two above, computers offer so many shortcuts and easier ways of doing things than what they had for Return of the Jedi that, ultimately, it may have taken a year to completely render the whole first space battle in Episode III, but it was an easier year and a year where they could fiddle around and change more than they could have ever hoped for Jedi.

So there we go. If anyone knows where info on early visual effects tecniques can be found, I will be very grateful.
About this Entry
Rogue Squadron
Nov. 20th, 2005 @ 05:08 pm Harry Potter: No Oscars, But Lots of Nods
Current Mood: bouncyHarry Potter kicks ass
Current Music: Dream Theater - Under a Glass Moon
Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire, the fourth instalment in the Harry Potter saga, begins with an eerie chord of music from the orchestra as the camera pans out of the sky to focus on a house with one light lit in the window. A graveyard is off to the right and a smaller gatekeeper house to the left. So begins the most epic and intriguing movie of the Harry Potter series thus far.

The movie opens, grabs your attention, and never lets go. Perhaps the single greatest success of this movie over the others is that the magical world that we are taken to is something comepletely different and amazing than what we've seen before. One critique of the other three movies is that, while Alfonso Curon gave the third a look that the others didn't have, all of them were basically the same world that we had seen previously. In this movie, we are taken to new places and shown new things that we have only been told about in the other movies. We see full grown dragons in all their ferocity, a ghoulish race of merpeople, and the man of Voldemort. Most certainly, the fans of the books will lauder over how the movie is fantastic, but it is also just a good piece of film. New director Mike Newell shoots the movie and steers the movie in a more epic direction, which the script very dearly calls for. Many shots in this movie take on the epic scope seen more in an epic movie like The Lord of the Rings. Yet, unlike what the trailer for The Chronicles of Narnia seems to be doing, the movie does not pretend nor wants to be like above said epic. Goblet is something all on its own.

The plot follows the book very closely, with small tokens of creative liberty taken (to very good effect). Many will probably feel like something is missing when in the begining we are taken to the Quidditch World Cup and never actually see the game played. I was let down when I heard about this, but the movie is so fast pace and covers so much material that the taking out of this small novelty quickly passes you by. Yet at a runtime of about two and a half hours, to add in ten minutes of Quidditch wouldn't have made that much of a difference. Creative liberty is taken in the first challenge of the Tri-Wizard Tournament when Harry battles the Hungarian Horntail dragon. In the book, Harry summons his broom and zooms around the arena to comeplete the task. In the movie, he zooms around, the dragon breaks loose, and a chase about the grounds of Hogwarts ensues. This was the greatest action sequence in the movie and certainly one of the best in any movie to come out so far this year. Your breath really does leave your lungs.

The acting is quite good in this movie. The kids have grown out of their initial awkwardness and turn in good performances. Daniel Radcliffe (Harry) seems to be getting a good feel for dramatic acting, Rupert Grint (Ron) is dead on, as he has been, and Emma Watson (Hermoine) is bitchy to great, but sometimes annoying, effect. Dumbledore seemed a bit distorted though, seeming more like a crotchety old man than the wise and patient character that he is. Ralph Finnes proves a good choice for Voldemort, and Brenden Gleeson is the perfect match for the delightfully insane Mad-Eye Moody.

The special effects are brilliant, playing into the story, never overwhelming it, and helping to tell the story. The special effects are there to serve the story, not the story there to serve the special effects (cough... Star Wars prequels... cough). To go along with this, the music was supreme. I was nervous when I heard that they didn't get John Williams to do the music on this one (since he's... well... John Williams) but new man Patrick Doyle does an excelent job, only using Williams' main Hary Potter theme in the very begining (one might think this a mistake at first to vere so far from the original source music) but he quickly proves himself, producing a score that is all eerie, dramatic, epic, comical, moody, and anything else you could possibly think of. As with the style, the music takes a turn for something more epic, sounding more like Howard Shore's Lord of the Rings score (but nowhere near the same) than the scores to the previous films. And like the small creative licensing, it works to great effect.

All in all, it was a great movie, one of the best thus far this year. Potter fans will drool incesently over it, moviegoers will be pleasantly surpirsed by it. It won't win any Oscars, but audiences all over will be nodding in approval.

Rating: 4/5 stars

Ryan's Top Movies for 2005 (thus far)
2.Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire
3.Star Wars Episode III: The Revenge of the Sith
4. The Corpse Bride
5.Charlie and the Chocolate Factory
About this Entry
Rogue Squadron
Nov. 13th, 2005 @ 09:49 am Kick Ass
Current Mood: bouncyPlays kick ass
Current Music: None
The play kicked ass.

Everyone involved in the play kicked ass.

The cast party kicked ass.

Enough said.
About this Entry
Rogue Squadron
Oct. 30th, 2005 @ 08:01 pm (no subject)
Current Mood: giddygiddy
Current Music: Dream Theater - The Answer Lies Within
Pearl Jam has some of the best love songs ever written, hands down.

Title: Thin Air
Artist: Pearl Jam
Style: Rock
Notes: It's PJ. 'Nough said.

"There's a light,.. when my baby is in my arms,...
There's a light,... when the window shades are drawn,...

Hesitate,.. when I feel I may do harm to her,..
Watch it all... cause this feeling we can share,..

And I know she's reached my heart,... in thin air...

Byzantine,... is reflected in our pond,..
There's a cloud,... but the water remains calm...

reaching in,... the suns fingers clutch the dawn to pass,...
even out,... it's a precious thing to bear,...

and I know she's reached my heart,.. in thin air,...
yes I know she's reached my heart,... in thin air,..

It's not in my past to presume,...
Love can keep on moving,.. in both directions,...

How to be happy and true,...
Is the quest we're taking on together,...

taking on,... on.. on,.. on,..
taking on ,... on,.. on .. on on,. on.

There's a light when my baby is in my arms,...

And I know she's reached my heart,. in thin air,...
and I know she's reached my heart,. in thin air,...
yes I know she's reached my heart,.. in thin air,...

Yes I know she's reached my heart."

To those of you out there who don't think that love exists or that two people can be entirely committed to one another: I'm sorry. I'm sorry you can't dream, that you can't have hope. But to those of you whose minds can float into worlds of fancy and wonder, welcome.

Rock on.
About this Entry
Rogue Squadron
Oct. 26th, 2005 @ 10:17 pm Clear
Current Mood: cheerfulcheerful
Current Music: Dream Theater - Surround
Good days are the ones you should cherish. I mean really, how many truely good days does one experience? Things have been going fine. The movie for "No Exit" is going to be kick ass. Skarston, Backaus, and I worked on it this afternoon. Those guys are all right. Very entertaining to hang out with. And they're really into the whole movie thing which makes it even better to work with them.

Is it just me or do teachers seem to assign more homework at just the right points so that you have to cram your hours with doing homework AND getting ready for the show? Don't know about you, but I'm getting stuck with two to three hours of work each night (up from one to two only a few weeks ago!) and then of course we'll need to work on the movie for nearly that long each day since I told Mr. B we'd have a rough cut available Monday. *Grumble*

Peoples in with Mr. Lethers for history: I only call it the "cut-and-paste" class because I know you guys are very mentally capable and yet it seems you're in a class that doesn't quite challenge you to the full extremes. Take it not personally: I'm just giving you guys a hard time, as usual (however, the Puritans as a group and religion DID exist in Europe before coming to American, Devin.)

Mark your callenders: November 1: Star Wars Episode III and Star Wars: Battlefront 2 come out that day! W00t! I am excited to no end! I still haven't bothered to look at what day that is, but all I know is that I'll go right to Best Buy after school, but both of them, watch Episode III, and then play Battlefront for a few hours. Screw homework and all else: it shall be a day of Star Wars!

Keep on Rocking in the Free World.
About this Entry
Rogue Squadron