Yes I'm still alive, and yes I am still very opinionated. Yet again the american public body disgusts me! My latest gripe is all this conspiracy crap that seems to be spreading in regards to 911. This is how I see it, most of these people get mad at you for just believing what the main sources of media tell you. But here they are eating up what some joe shmo put together on some dvd or clips on youtube along with his own web site with edited pics of blurry footage from the event. So in essence they are no better than we are, they're merely looking for other sources of information to eat up. Neither of which do they know where they got the information or how credible they are! If you want some actual proof with cited information and research just look at this link, its not some joe shmo with some know how about html and an opinion making claims.
In today's paper's opinion section I noticed that one of the cover articles was by a man who goes to our church. My curiosity was piqued and I started reading. Basically, the article was a summary of twenty-five years of action for and against the continued production of nuclear weapons; specifically, it was about the twenty-five year history of a local anti-bomb group called World Citizens for Peace. I've always had kind of mixed feelings about nukes; on the one hand, they're a valuable asset when it comes to bluffing your way out of a war. On the other hand, they can wipe out civilization as we know it. Hmmmm...overall, I think I'm inclined against their use, but I'm not terribly educated in the matter. In any case, I learned some, well, scary stuff from this article that I wasn't aware of before. For one thing, I didn't know that the Bulletin of Atomic Scientists has moved the Doomsday Clock from seven minutes to midnight to five minutes to midnight. Creepy. Granted, I'm assuming all those fine people on the Bulletin aren't endowed with clairvoyant powers, but between this and the few other instances I've heard about them and the Clock, I've gotten the impression that they're fairly reliable sources on the subject of nuclear science. Some other food for thought could be found in a paragraph in the article:
Today, there are still more than 25,000 nuclear warheads in existence--12,000 of them are deployed and 3,500 are on hair-trigger alert, ready to be launched in a matter of minutes. Today's thermonuclear weapons (hydrogen bombs) make the Hiroshima and Nagasaki atomic bombs seem puny. It takes only one to destroy a city. And 1 percent of the world's nuclear arsenals could destroy human civilization itself.
Unfortunately, I couldn't find the article online to give a link to it, but perhaps you could sniff around on the Tri-City Herald's website if you want; search for an article by Jim Stoffels in the July 29, 2007 paper. In other words, today's paper. Har har....who'da thunk? Thoughts, anyone?
About a month before school got out (give or take a week) we were reading Gregor Samsa's The Metamorphosis in Literature class. At one point, I and various members of my family were having one of those random discussions about Catholicism, and I made an interesting connection in my brain between Kafka and the Church, or, more accurately, a connection between the bug-man Gregor Samsa and the Church.
As many of you may or may not know, The Metamorphosis is about a man named Gregor Samsa who puts up with the unpleasant job of traveling salesman, supposedly to help his rather ungrateful family pay off debts. His existence is rather humdrum. One day, he wakes up as a bug. Freaky. Anyway, as the days, then weeks, then months pass, he becomes more and more a bug, less and less a human and more and more distanced from his family. He loses his identity to his "bug-dom."
And, as many of you may or may not know, about forty years ago a council of the Roman Catholic Church called Vatican II convened and put into effect several reforms in the Church. For example, it was decided that Mass could now be said in the native language of a country; it did not necessarily have to be Latin. Vatican II was largely intended to make Catholicism more accesible to people; more easily understood and practiced. In many ways, this has helped the Church a lot.
But it has also had detrimental effects. As many people will tell you, the sugar-coated, watered-down, let's-hold-hands-and-sing-Kumbayah version of Catholicism is becoming more common, as are ignorant Catholics, who don't appreciate or know their faith because their true faith has not been shown to them.
For example, liturgical music is now full of songs that make people happy rather than turn their minds and hearts to God. Yes, Christianity is a joyful religion, and happiness is good, particularly in, say, a recessional or entrance hymn. But when that "happiness" is manufactured at the expense of awareness of God (and really isn't happy so much as fluffy), you have a problem.
Another example: Christian artwork, such as that featured on the covers of hymnbooks, is often found going for an African-spiritual sort of motif that doesn't even look African, like so:
No, this is not racism. I've no problem with real African artwork; what bugs me is when it's faked for a non-artistic purpose, namely, the purpose of making the Church appear racially diverse and ethnically tolerant. And again, I've no problem with racial tolerance, but we should not make advertising it a priority.
Third example, in gleaming, perfect 5-paragraph essay format: Architecture. I know there have been beefs about this before. We have all, I'm sure, seen those churches that look less like a church than a mothership. Or, as a more recent example, churches that look like some sort of corporate headquarters. In these cases, the purpose of of the church seems to be to make a statement; to look modern and hip. What it is not trying to do is turn anyone's faces upwards. When you walk into a space-age church, you are less likely to feel God's presence than you are to think "So this is what a geodesic dome looks like from the inside. Fascinating, isn't it, Jeeves?" In the effort to cultivate a sophisticated, modern image, these churches are losing their beauty. I know beauty is relative, but how many people are truly moved by looking at a geodesic dome? Or a coporate headquarters? Here are some examples of what I'm talking about.
So, where's my point? What the heck does Kafka have to do with anything? It occured to me a while ago that The Metamorphosis could serve as a metaphor for these things I've been describing, though it certainly wasn't intended as such.
Gregor Samsa, thinking he's doing his family a favor, reluctantly slogs through an unpleasant job as a traveling salesman. In doing so, however, he gets lost (literally) in his boredom and frustration with life. He loses his identity and his humanity, and turns into a bug. Similarly, various factions of the Church have been attempting to make themselves more accesible, more attuned to the culture, more hip, etc. They hide those aspects of Catholicism that they think people won't like, or will get bored with. But as a result of making themselves more accesible they are losing their identity; the identity of Catholicism. They are losing the inherent mystery, beauty, and counter-cultural persistence that make the Church the Church.
How do we fix this? Keep in mind the true ideal of the Church. It is an ideal contained in the Apostle's Creed, the Catechism and, above all, the words of Jesus. It's reverence coupled with joy; not joy compromisng reverence or vice-versa. It's beauty coupled with simplicity. It's an ability to identify with people, not to be more accesible to them. The truth will set you free, especially that of religion, which must never ever be hidden in an attempt to make it more attractive.
But what about those people for whom such great measures have been taken to make the Church more attractive? We have to bring things "down" to "their level", how else will they possibly be saved (notice the built-in derision of that statement)? It's pretty simple, really: They're big boys and girls. The Church doesn't have to "come down" to them. They can rise up to the Church.
Basically, all us Catholics should just follow the advice of all those wise mentor figures in all those Disney movies: "Just be yourself."
Am I the only one who thinks music sucks? That is, recent music, ranging from rap, R&B (which almost always sucks), hip-hop, metal, rock, and alternative music seem to be in an awkward stage. And by awkward, I mean that everything sounds exactly the same. Back in the early the mid 90s, we had Rage Against the Machines, Pantera, Nirvana, Pearl Jam, Eminem, Tupac, U2, Red Hot Chili Peppers and an assortment of other artists who seemed push music forward, setting the groundwork for recent artists. In the late 90s and early 00s, new and innovative bands began to emerge, such as Linkin Park and System of a Down. Up until 2004, music seemed be in an exciting stage, in which anything was possible. Countless bands were combining different genres together, old obnoxious genres were diminishing, and everyone seemed to have a definite goal in mind. Blah! Now, it's as if recent bands have run out of their creative juices. Everything sounds exactly the same, and besides the same bands I've been listening to for the past 5 & 1/2 years, I can't seem to find anything I can officially LOVE.
Every two weeks, new cookie-cutter "artists" emerge, doing absolutely nothing new or interesting for their genres. To their credit, however, they don't pretend to do anything new or interesting. They seem to take comfort in their blatant mediocrity, claiming to sound just like the innovative bands that preceded them. To prove my point, I will now list a number of well known bands that are practically indistinguishable from each other (most of them are metal/hardcore):
As I Lay Dying: Oh, how dramatic -- "As I Lay Dying." Mind finishing the sentence, retards? Okay, so you're dying...NOW WHAT?? I admit, I'm a sucker for double (and in some cases, triple) bass and pinch-harmonics, but for Odin's sake, why DO THEY HAVE TO SOUND LIKE EVERY OTHER HARDCORE BAND IN EXISTANCE?! All Shall Perish: Okay, so their name borders on badass, but haven't I heard their sound somewhere before? Oh yeah, that's right, AS I LAY DYING! Don't get me wrong; I totally dig the guitar, but still, it lacks variety. If you want some awesome guitar, see AVENGED SEVENFOLD. Drop Dead, Gorgeous: Wow, I never knew what an important role the comma played in communication! I mean, for a second there, I thought they were making some vague reference to their astonishingly good looks. Guess not. In short, they do nothing interesting, and the vocals are reminiscent of a dying child. All That Remains: Yay! Another incomplete sentence! Anyway, at least 2 of their songs feature some pretty sick guitar solos, and their vocals, although screamy, aren't intolerable. Unfortunately, there are a number of more experienced bands that do the exact same thing better. Still Remains:What's up with the whole "remainder" theme? Remains of what? My guess is that they're referring to the few remaining fans they have after everyone else figured out they sounded like a cross between Senses Fail and All That Remains.
Anyway, my original idea was to list as many bands as I possibly could. Unfortunately, I don't have the patience to list any other ones, so the current one will have to do. YAY! For the record, go to myspace.com's music section, and you'll find a million other bands that sound like the ones listed above. JUST DO IT. It's rewarding. PEEEAACE.
I enjoy reading people -- or at least trying to read people. I'm not that good at detecting motives, but I can spot subtle facial expressions and hand gestures that give clues to the person's emotional state. Thus far, I can almost always tell when someone's lying (there are exceptions, of course). One method I use to tell if someone's lying is to study their face the split second before they lie. Usually, their eyes give it away completely; they avert their gaze as their eyes begin to quickly scan around as if they were frantically running a search in their mind to locate the best and most efficient lie. Words work well too, of course. However, some people have excellent control over the tone of their voice as well as which words they choose (I'm getting good at this). Therefore, words aren't the best way of reading people. Anyway, I found this fascinating article about facial expressions and how to read them. You should check it out. It's a bit lengthy, but some of the material is absolutely incredible.
P.S - Here's a tip for all you frequent amateur liars: Stop sucking at lying, jeez! It's no fun reading people who suck at deceiving! And yes, I'm talking to you, girls. At least put a little effort into it, you know?
NOTE: Excuse me for grammatical/spelling errors -- I'm really tired and don't feel like checking for errors.
Yesterday, I had the privilege of seeing "300" with some friends.
BEST. MOVIE. EVER. Okay, so it certainly wasn't the best movie ever, but it was definitely the manliest. Seriously, this whole movie was powered solely by testosterone. It was awesome.
So here's a very brief review: Review Key: Plot = overall premise; Awesomeness = explosions, blood, manliness; Eye Candy = "special" effects, babes, etc; Lingering Impressions = frame of mind after seeing film
PLOT: Big guys with big weapons fighting big enemies. If that isn't enough incentive to see the movie, then I don't want else to tell you. Basically, the entire movie is loosely based off the Battle of Thermopylae. However, I've been told it's very accurate to Frank Miller's graphic novel, if that makes any difference. My point is that this movie will thoroughly piss off ANY historian who happens to see it out of curiosity. Basically, everything in this movie is completely OVER-THE-TOP. That means 10,000 Spartans are 10,000,000 Spartans, the Persians are portrayed as sub-human orc-beings, and everybody contains 20x more quarts of blood than in reality. Those of you who see movies for the (*gasp*) plot should be forewarned: The overall premise of this movie is painfully simple. If you're like me and don't particularly take any interest in how complex and coherent a plot is, "300" shouldn't bother you at all.
Awesomeness: First off, everyone in this movie is ripped (not excluding women and children). The Spartans are rockin' 12-pack abs, red capes, loincloths, and pikes. No, "300" doesn't contain any homoerotic overtones; on the contrary, their uber-masculinity was intended to emphasize how powerful and glorious the Spartans were in contrast to their effeminate adversaries. In regards to sheer, unadulterated awesomeness, this movie takes the cake. Watching thousands of arrows cast a shadow on 300 men prior to pelting their shields is just plain awesome. To give you better feel for how awesome this movie was, picture this: A 40-foot wall consisting entirely of Persian corpses literally topples over and smashes a handful of ninjas. Yes, it's that awesome. Oh, and by the way, there are explosions. ;)
Eye Candy: Yes, "300" is pure eye candy. This movie offers an amazing visual experience, superior to LOTR. The dim, grainy visual style of the movie never gets old, and gives "300" a unique personality. In addition to the unique visual style, the camera effects were impressive. The battle scenes transitioned from slow-mo to normal-motion seamlessly. Although gory, "300's" violence is highly stylized and isn't realistic in the least bit. To my surprise, the entire movie was filmed in front of a bluescreen. With the exception of a few obviously computer-generated beasts, the movie didn't go overboard on the CGI, and everything looked very realistic. It also has babes and about 2-minutes of nudity for those of you who honestly care.
Lingering Impressions: After walking out of the theater, I felt like squeezing out a couple dozen pushups and a couple hundred situps. I also felt like brutally bludgeoning a few Persians (or anyone else who was in close proximity to me), but I don't feel the need to elaborate on that. All in all, I'd gladly see the movie again. It's the type of movie you definitely want to see on the Big Screen, for sure. Following the movie, I've been entertaining thoughts on what it would be like if America was as militaristic as ancient Sparta was. Awesome. Also, I just now realized that the majority of the movie was filmed in slow-motion, which probably accounts for its length.
Anyway, I give this movie a 20 out of 10. No, I'm not mathematically challenged, this movie just rocked.
Believe it or not, I'm not always the overly-confident narcissist you see before you today. As a matter of fact, I often find myself spiraling uncontrollably towards depression. As a result of depression, I'm frequently unwilling to engage in any creative or productive activities, thus rendering myself completely useless. Of course, this eventually leads to periodic sessions of low self-esteem. Up until now, I haven't found a way to efficiently conjure up my confidence or creativity while in a depressed state (besides tripping children). Well, thanks to YouTube, things have changed. Usually when I experience low self-esteem, I tell myself I suck at my various hobbies -- more specifically, guitar. I've been playing since Christmas, and I'm not that bad, honestly. However, depression does strange things to your mind; earlier today, I told myself I was the worst guitar player in the world. I was almost convinced, until I saw these YouTube vids:
1. The "art" of thrash guitar - I admit, I was fooled by the title. I had the impression it was going to be a step-by-step approach to harnessing the demonic powers of THRASH. Unfortunately, it turned out to be a half-ass attempt at mimicking the basic style of thrash guitar. Frankly, this guy sucks. His alternate-picking is weak and slow, and his riffs were lacking the percussive vibe thrash metal is known for. Just recently, I tuned my guitar down to Drop D, enabling me to thrash like I've never thrashed before. Just watching this kid's pathetic attempts to emulate one the evilest styles of guitar ever conceived inflates my ego.
2. Drop D "Fun" - Judging by the title of this submission, one would assume it would be...well, fun to watch. Nothing could have been farther from the truth. This vid was painful to watch. Near the beginning of his "song," it seemed as if he had something going. His little power-chord pattern was almost catchy. Unfortunately for my ears, he decided he would try to improvise, and ended up ruining everything. It's almost as if he was trying to suck. It's also worth noting he messed up some of his power chords, which is almost impossible to do when you're playing in drop D. Haha, LLOOOSSSEEERR!
3. Metal Riffage - Oh boy, mom ----- METAL RIFFAGE! Before I begin my critique of this disaster, let me explain what "metal riffage" implies: 1) A heavy, chunky sound lacking recognizable melody, 2) A sinister feeling characterized by randomly executed arpeggios and clunky power-chords, and 3) manic speed. Unsurprisingly, this video doesn't meet any of the criteria for being metal. First of all, there weren't any randomly execute arpeggios -- that is, most of his notes were slowly played on the 5th and 6th strings. Secondly, it lacked the dark, wicked edge that metal is typically known for. Additionally, it just didn't freakin' sound good. It reminded me of a 50-car pileup, which is awesome to see, but not so awesome to hear. If executed properly, metal is reminiscent of a giant robot wading through molasses. Either that or a speeding runaway bullet train...armed with nuclear weapons. Now that's awesome!
I know what you're thinking: "BRIAN, IF UR SO GOOD WHY DONT U DEMINSTRATE HOW TO PLAY INSTEAD OF REDICULING OTHERS?" Well, if I had a digital camcorder, I'd be more than willing to share the love. Unfortunately, I don't, so you're going have to take my word for it -- I know what I'm talking about.
I first came to blogger at the tail end of 2003. I appreciated its design, ease of use, and advanced capabilities. Then you bought it. Although the newer interface was delightful, you set the groundwork for what eventually became this new failure.
When Blogger in Beta first came out, I was about as excited as a part-time blogger could be. I thought y'all were breaking some new ground, and I could be on the cutting-edge of new blogging technologies. I couldn't have been more wrong.
You people added junk that Wordpress has had for forever. You turned the nice PHP/HTML hybrid into a mess of some strange dialect of XML. Not only did you turn us off by ######## with the code we had come to appreciate, you then simplified the whole shootin' match into a few basic tools that are hellish in their rigidity. I don't know what the sam hill you nerds were smoking when you came up with this crap, but it's not appreciated.
Furthermore, your minions attack microsoft for the same things that your corporation does with no scruples. I call to mind your stupid purchase of YouTube just so that you could remove competition. THAT is monopolistic, and is reprehensible. Also, your "premium editions" of tools that you want to push is horrible. At the very least, don't screw microsoft over when they do the same thing.
I just spent a good 5 minutes of my precious life trying to sign into my *OLD* blogger account, only to find that Google/Blogger is FORCING me to upgrade Blog Hogger to their new, dysfunctional Blogger account. What does this mean? Allow me to elaborate -- Blogger's new settings include the following new and unimproved features:
-Barely decipherable template code. They replaced the old Blogger tags (the foundational code of your blog) with some new garbage that's impossible to figure out.
-A cluttered dashboard (basically the page that allows you manage your various blogs). By the time I figured out how to navigate Blogger's new dashboard, my eyes were bleeding profusely.
-Unoriginal elements, such as category options. Basically, Blogger completely ripped off Wordpress.com's unique category system. Way to go, fudge-packers; you're almost as unoriginal as Microsoft. [Seriously, though, have you seen Microsoft's new IE? They stole ALL those features directly from FireFox]
Blah. I'm honestly not as frustrated as I sound. I just enjoy exaggerating my feelings and opinions. However, I'm still a bit peeved at Blogger's complete disregard for MY feelings. How dare they... *repeats "how dare they" for emphasis* ...read "F*ck you, Google."...
Contrary to popular belief, Christmas is all about presents. Sure, perhaps baby Jesus does play a minor role in the whole ordeal, but in the larger picture, it's all about da' loot. Now that we've established that fact, I think I can safely brag about what I got:
Black - Xbox - One of the funnest first-person-shooters on Xbox, in my opinion. The formula of the game is very basic: You shoot things, they blow up. Hell, they explode even if you don't shoot them. Piiiimmmmp!
Gift Card For Warehouse Music - Pretty self-explanatory. A gift card to a music store. Despite the fact that I can download any music I want through Limewire, it may still come in handy though. You just neeevveer knooowwww.
A religious book - I forget the name of it, but I'm pretty sure my parents gave it to me in an attempt to fortify my conscience. It looks like an interesting read, however I'll probably lose interest in it quickly seeing as how it doesn't explode. Boom.
An electric handheld game thingy - Given to me by friends of the family. It's a cool little device and my dad seems to have taken a liking to it.
A Fender Starcaster Electric guitar - Oh yeah, I also got AN ELECTRIC GUITAR. I was/am totally stoked. I'm ecstatic. It's actually a guitar starter pack which features a smallish amp, a Fender Starcaster guitar, a number of fancy picks, headphones, a DVD, and all the other knickknacks necessary to smash faces with pure awesomeness. Thanks mom...er, I mean, Santa!
However, I did take the time to carefully select gifts my family would thoroughly enjoy. I'm just that good. Here's the list:
Just Cause - Probably one of the funnest games I've played in a long time. you take on the role of a freedom fighter in the fictitious land of San Esperito. The game allows you to explore a beautiful, fully-rendered jungle-like environment (along with some major cities scattered here and there). Just Cause is mainly focused around insane stunts -- that is, skydiving from incredibly high altitudes, leaping from car to car (or boat to boat [or helicopter to helicopter]), and a ton of other amazing stunts. There's absolutely no loading times, and the graphics are pretty.
Girly stuff - For my sister, of course. Just some lotions and slippers. She seemed to like them.
Shaver for dad - Blah.
Anyway, how was your Xmas? Chances are, I got way cooler stuff than you did, loser. Jay Kay El Oh El. No, but seriously, HOW WAS YOUR XMAS??
So I finally set aside some time to just sit down and discover what exactly podcasting is. I hear people referring to "podcasts" all the time, but I never really looked into it. I had a basic understanding of it, but very little interest in it...until now.
Like I've mentioned before on Blog Hogger, I've always had a dream of hosting a talk show. Up until now, I hadn't been able to find a practical means of broadcasting one. Podcasting seems like a legitimate solution. So while expanding my knowledge of podcasting, I stumbled upon http://BlogTalkRadio.com. Check this out. Supposedly, this website allows users to host their own personal online talk show via the telephone. It also enables you to feature guests (friends, family, celebs [good luck with that one, homes]) on your show. That's awesome.
My only disappointment is that I wasn't creator of that website. In other words, I came up with that concept long before BlogTalkRadio.com emerged, and it would have been nice to have actually invented it first. Oh well.
I digress. Anyway, I'm definitely going to look into this more. I'll keep you updated on my talk show progress.
I just got done taking this ADHD test My results were...well, let's just say I wasn't too surprised. I scored a total of 19 ADHD points, which means I'm 2 points above the minimum score for being ADHD positive. Whoop.
Of course, this is just an online test, and there's very little reason why you should take it completely seriously. But still...
OMG, it's not raining anymore! Gotta go play basketball. Later.
Update: I just found a longer ADD/ADHD quiz. My score said I was moderately ADHD. Chicken! Gotta run.