Interesting Connection

I was watching some new music video’s recently because I was bored with nothing better to do, and I noticed that music video’s nowadays haven’t really been anything special or out of the ordinary.   Most times it’s just the singer standing and singing, especially rap videos when they’re just standing or sitting there rapping surrounded by fancy cars and women.  But one particular music video, had more of a pop culture movie connection.  There was a new song that came out about a month or two ago by the rapper Drake called “Hold on we’re going home,” and I fell in love with it the first day I heard it.  So naturally, when the music video came out a few days ago, I had to watch it immediately.  The music video was not at all like I imagined, it was much more theatrical.  In fact, the music video is being said to be a Scarface remake because of how over the top it is, and how similar.  It has an old school Miami 1980’s vibe to it and is basically a big rescue mission.  It’s about Drake’s girlfriend getting kidnapped, and his crew going in with weapons trying to rescue her killing everyone in sight to get to her. It’s like the ultimate boy saves girl story.  Interestingly enough, the music video also features Steven Bauer, also known as Manny Ribera in the 1983 Scarface which is just another reason for comparisons with the music video and Scarface.  The Miami setting, the mansion, the club, and the suits worn greatly resemble the old movie.  At the end of the music video once again, Manny from Scarface is killed but by Drake in a shootout this time.  The video is shown to be a Scarface-esque montage of violence and romance.  Another interesting connection this music video has to popular Hollywood is that it’s directed by Bill Pope, cinematographer on “The Matrix” films.  Although this is a music video, it’s made to be more like a short film which is interesting how they can incorporate Scarface into this love song.  It is definitely not your typical music video.  Steven Bauer even said that while shooting the music video, he was taken back to the Scarface shooting days because the scene seemed so similar.  Can you see the similarities between the “Hold on we’re going home” music video and Scarface?

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=GxgqpCdOKak

Steven Bauer interview on the music video:

http://www.vibe.com/article/qa-steven-bauer-talks-working-drake-hold-were-going-home-video-0

 

A Digital Mirror

I have been playing a lot of Grand Theft Auto or GTA: V this week, and I am pleased to say that this class has me looking at it in a new and different way. The game is in my eyes much more than just a game designed to eat into homework hours and corrupt the youth of today, it is more in my eyes a powerful piece of social commentary.

To give some back ground for those who are not in the know, the GTA franchise is what is commonly referred to as an Open World game, that is to say that the designers of the games in the franchise create large, open environments that the player is able to move around in with no, or at least very few restrictions. There are many games in this genre, but the GTA franchise is both one of the first, and one of the most well received. If the title didn’t give it away in GTA games you steal cars, shoot and beat up people, engage in questionable sexual choices and all around generally behave like the scum of the earth.

However, within the in game universe of GTA, you aren’t acting like the scum of the earth; you are in point of fact a pretty average citizen. The world you will find yourself in if you begin to play a GTA game numbers 1-5 and any of the spin offs is a world full of hyper violent, hyper consumerist, hyper sexual, hype immoral people all around. There are fictional fast food chains with names like Burger Shot and Lucky Plucker that will proudly sell you a 120oz E-Cola, gun stores by the name of Ammu-Nation that will sell you military grade fully automatic weapons and 1000s of rounds of ammunition without so much as a back ground check.

Now all in all this might sound like any video game trying to do a hyperbolic version of reality, but the GTA series does something slightly different. While embracing this over the top satire of modern North American culture, they also continue to push for better and more realistic graphics, they constantly alter game mechanics between titles to try and make things feel more “real”. This is in sharp contrast with other games in the genre like the Saints Row or the Crack Down series, and why do they do this?

In my opinion it is because they want to do more than just create a game, they want to make you see yourself reflected back at you through the screen, perhaps not in the actual characters, but in the world they have created for you. The creators of GTA have taken vile and despicable acts and packaged them up for us, they’ve taken all our consumerism, or hatred, our racism, sexism, and all round hedonism and laid it out for us and told us to enjoy, after all it’s only a game.

– Craig

Ends and Means

It’s not very often that I read a book that actually surprises me and makes me question things. It’s not arrogant of me to say that I’ve read more books than most people will in a lifetime as there was a point in my life when I would read at least an entire book a day, very often more.

Then recently I read a trilogy of fantasy books entitled the Broken Empire by Mark Lawrence and the author made me question a protagonist like I never have before. Honorous Jorg Ancrath is the truest antihero I have had the pleasure of meeting. From the beginning to the end of the trilogy he murders and pillages without a thought or care. He’s not traditionally likeable, he’s not charismatic and in fact another character in the trilogy, The Prince of Arrows is basically the stereotypical hero of fantasy literature but the Prince fails where Jorg succeeds. It’s interesting to read from the point of view of a character that in another series would be the villain or the rival of the hero, the Draco Malfoy to Harry Potter if you will, though Jorg never quite crosses into the wholly evil you can’t help but question every decision he makes. His ruthlessness is what leads him to triumph and I can’t help but wonder if he represents what the author thinks of as the truth of the real world, that the strong and ruthless prevail where the merciful and just fall.

I don’t want to spoil the series too much as I’d like people to have a chance to read it, but in the end every decision Jorg makes seems to be the right one in so far as the greater good is concerned, which is another concept the author explored, whether the ends justify the means. Jorg saves the day despite the fact that he ruins the lives of so many people.

Finally I just wanted to talk about an interesting quirk in the series, if you want to avoid spoilers skip this paragraph; throughout the novels Jorg finds himself discovering many artifacts and secrets related to the ancient past, but these “artifacts” may seem strangely familiar to the readers. It seems this seemingly generic fantasy world takes place in the distant future of our own world after a full scale nuclear war has devestated the earth and its peoples. The use of such ancient weapons is one of the things Jorg brings him to do when no one else will, to terrible, but undeniably useful effect. This also leads into the revelation for why things like magic exist now, it seems the scientists of the past took hold of the wheel that is the laws of reality and turned it, giving man a much greater control over his surroundings. This event seems to be what lead to the near destruction of humanity, as the old saying goes, absolute power corrupts absolutely.

I’ve never read anything quite like it, I found myself hating Jorg as much as I loved him, and I certainly ended up questioning my own morality, wondering whether I would be able to make his choices for the greater good. So dear readers, to what extent would you say the ends justify the means? To what extent would you delve into the morally grey for the greater good?

 

Trying to Get the Hang of This…Thing

One of the worst parts about living away from home is the lack of cable television in my new house. Thankfully however, my dad likes to keep me up to date with the trends by bringing me taped VHS copies of “his” television shows whenever he’s in town. (Unfortunately, he did not get the memo that VHS tapes are slightly outdated, but it’s the thought that counts, right?) Recently, he’s gotten me hooked on a somewhat older series called “Six Feet Under”. The show focuses on what could be considered a dysfunctional family who happen to operate their own funeral home business. Right off the bat, the father (and initial funeral home owner) is killed and the event, as expected, pushes the rest of the family into a state of shock and grief.

From one perspective, this show is your typical drama; there are issues circulating the plot line that connect with relationships, beliefs, and self-inquiry. However, there’s a little more to it. We also end up seeing the side of the show that targets in on the topic of death from multiple levels such as: physical death, personal death, and religious death. Yes, it does seem dark, but ultimately, it is what makes this series unique. Each episode begins with a seemingly random death of some sort. After that, we experience the concept of trying to move on after losing a loved one. The death tends to be a tone-setter for each episode. Doing so allows for  the characters to have a chance to reflect on their current fortunes – and misfortunes – in a way that is illustrated by the death, as well as its aftermath.

Nate, one of the show’s central characters, tries to avoid his overwhelming sadness after his father’s death. We watch his attitude change as he learns to accept to the idea that everyone ends up having to die at some point. He tries to prove to us that we should not fear death, and no matter what beautiful and enriching things we may surround ourselves with throughout our lives, these moments have no other option but to fade away after all is said and done. With this, I see a slight naturalistic approach to the theme of this show. The idea that death makes life more meaningful plays a large part in regards to the characters. There is a feeling within this series which suggests that we should all aim to live our lives to its fullest potential. It then goes as far as suggesting that once we die, there is nothing else. To some extent, I agree with the show (or rather, the show’s writers). So many face unimaginable emotional and mental hardships at the time of a death, (which is to be expected, of course) but why is society so uncomfortable with anything regarding the topic of death, especially when its an inevitable fate in each of our lives?

Well, that’s that. I was not really expecting this post to take a turn to the darker side, but maybe that’s my own fault for writing it on a Sunday night. Awaiting those dreadful Monday mornings just bring out the worst in some of us…

Body Image In Popular Culture & The Benefits Of Water

This weekend I spent a good chunk of time on a bus traveling to Victoria to play a two-game series of ice hockey. Unfortunately I did not get to play because I pulled my groin about 2 weeks ago and have been recovering since then. Fortunately however this allowed me to have a lot of time to reflect a few good ideas for my future blogs. I decided to write this weeks blog on “Body Image In Popular Culture & The Benefits Of Water”. One of the parts of being a high level athlete is that I get to learn about the power of nutrition more than most people. Every team I’ve ever been on has paid for experts to come and teach my team mates and I on the importance of proper nutrition in our every day life. I will outline the benefits of drinking the proper amount of water throughout the day.

It’s no secret that most people desire to look and feel sexy and healthy in our modern day and age.During our daily activities we lose an average of three to four litters of fluid, approximately 1-2 litters just from breathing alone! It is a well known fact that approximately 70% of our body’s mass is made up of water. On the contrary, a little known fact is that by drinking a total of eight glasses of water a day, we meet the required amount of water that our body needs to function correctly. Water keeps the human body hydrated and allows every single cell in our body to absorb nutrients to feed our body, it also allows our body to rid it self of waste products. When we drink a sufficient amount of water per day our body, as well as our brain  operates and performs smoother and up to thirty percent faster. Drinking water increases our brain’s functioning speed by properly nourishing our body much like a giving a plant water, without water the plant will not survive long. The water in our blood stream acts as a taxi to deliver the proper amounts of oxygen equally to different locations in the body. Our muscles require constant water to operate at maximum capability. Once our muscles have the proper amount of H20 flowing through them they can grow and preform much better. Drinking water also greatly helps with weight loss! Water acts as a suppresser for our appetite and helps our body burn stored fats that build up in our bodies. Sometimes when we feel hunger coming on it merely means that we are thirsty. Water also helps by relieving constipation and more importantly flushing our “temple’s(body)” of no-good, and un needed toxins that we put into our bodies on a daily basis, which also makes our body’s look and feel younger.

From my personal experience, I’ve found that when I first started to drink enough water I felt much stronger in every aspect of my life. In the beginning it was very hard for me to drink a gallon of water a day(many bathroom breaks) however, I persisted and I quickly started seeing all the benefits it has to offer in front of my eyes. My energy levels went through the roof and I felt more on task all of the time.

 

 

Micheal Jackosn, Legend and Legendary… undeniable

hi guys!remember this video I showed y’all in class? I think it was really interesting and it’s one of my favorites. Nigerian duo artistes P-Square paid homage to Michael Jackson in the 4th year memorial after his death.. I loved the way they combined his legendary dance steps, from moon walk to thriller and also some creative steps made in honor of M.J. what do you think about the video?

Stranded Alone

So I know this post is coming in a little late, I was in Toronto for the weekend staying in a hotel that was going to charge me $20 for internet use for a 24 hour period. Unfortunately being the stereotypical “broke and starving”, “living paycheck to paycheck” student that I am, it was a little out of my price range. I had a few ideas of things that I thought would help keep me sane and occupied entertainment wise while on this island but the one that stuck out to me the most was the Rules of Engagement tv series. As much as I love How I Met Your Mother, for me I find the raunchy, over the top, verging on being politically incorrect humour of David Spade too much to pass up. Couple that with a sarcastic, slightly misogynistic, dry-humoured husband played by Patrick Warburton whose banters with his wife, Megyn Price, to “win the battle of marriage” and throw in an innocent, naive, somewhat unintelligent but goodhearted man who often gets taken advantage of by his friends and his sweet, down to earth, quick-witted girlfriend and for me that’s a winning cast. I find comedy and humour to be a remedy for any bad day and the best kind of entertainment to take your mind off of troubling issues, even for just a little while. This show constantly does that for me, no matter how often I’ve seen an episode I’m clutching my stomach laughing and gasping in shock at the happenings and situations that these wonderful characters find themselves in.

C.K Lewis Vs Cell phones

Not sure if this goes off topic or if it fits in. I recently came across a clip from Conan O’Brian. In the clip, Conan is talking to C.K. Lewis, and they get on the topic of cell phones. C.K. Lewis basically talks about how cell phones are toxic (especially for kids) because they steal a person’s opportunities in life to embrace and experience feelings of sadness, emptiness, and loneliness, which in turn robs people of the chance to experience true joy and the happiness that comes on the other side of feelings of sadness etc. Most people don’t like the feeling of being alone, or the inevitable sadness that comes with it, and cell phones provide a means for people to avoid those feelings. From first-hand experience, what he is saying resonates with me. As an attempt to reduce my dependency on technology I put away my cell phone for over a year. The emotions he was talking about were ones that I experienced often, especially during the first few months of not carrying a cell phone. I have included the link to the clip. I am curious about everyone else’s thoughts about what he had to say about cell phones. Do you believe C.K Lewis’ claims that cell phones contribute to people leading only mediocre semi-satisfactory lives because cell phone technology deprives people of experiencing any real sadness or joy? Watch the clip and let me know what you think.

Deserted Island

Trapped on an Island and  deciding what to bring with me. Whenever I am posed with this question I always think of what would keep me sane for the longest time. The idea of a virtual life in a video  game is definitely intriguing. Through an RPG you could have endless possibilities and keep some sense of connection with the outside world. However I am not a big gamer so I would not know where to start.

 

I am a very indecisive person and limiting what to bring presents many problems for me. The first thing that came to mind when I was posed this question was a classic scene from one of my favorite T.V. shows, The Office.

 

This actually prompted me to choose to bring the series of The Office with me. Keep me laughing  to keep me sane.