Archive for July, 2007

The sound heard ‘cross the sea.

July 26th, 2007 | Category: Pop Culture, Treasury

Wow, a forum where a group of few can broadcast what captivates and motivates them, what they like and dislike, to a larger audience. of course that implies that I’m captivated by something interesting.

And, in fact, I am.

While most of its video catalogue has been overshadowed by recent Democratic events, Youtube still possesses some hidden gems. Case in point, there are more than one videos of new Radiohead material. I apologize if this is old news; but ever since I found them, I can’t stop watching. These tracks are supposedly from Radiohead’s upcoming record, which scheduled for release…sometime in the near future, according to the band’s website. This rumor is supported by the fact that some of the videos show Thom Yorke playing sparse piano arrangements of the songs in the band’s recording studio.

But enough elaboration. These videos should be watched. I could say it’s because Thom Yorke and his band are such incredible and engaging performers. I could say it’s because each song showcases Radiohead’s knack for creating melodies and lyrics that captivate without overpowing. Actually, I’d say both of those things.

But I’m kissing-up. Another band from across the Atlantic is called Guillemots. They have released a full-length record, Through the Windowpane, which has recently become available in the US. I only recently discovered how great this CD is. It’s songs are catchy, but don’t become tired after a few listens. Each sounds unique, ranging from soft piano/orchestra arrangments to loud Afro-Caribbean brass sections. And it has what I think is one of the most incredible ending tracks that a record could ever have.
Check this band out.

And, for now, I have no more thoughts. And here are those Radiohead videos.

Videotape
Down Is The New Up

–Brandon

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Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows (Spoiler-FREE!)

July 22nd, 2007 | Category: Lost Films, Pop Culture

I feel so grown up right now.

I hit the Potter bandwagon a little earlier than most I think. I grew up in Ireland, and it was probably around 1999 or 98 that I think I first read “Harry Potter and the Philosopher’s Stone.” I would’ve been around 13 or 14 I guess. And I thought it was okay, and I liked the second book less than the first, but still, I thought it was okay.

When “Prisoner of Azkaban” came out in 1999, or whenever I got around to reading it, something changed I think, and J.K. Rowling hooked me (and the rest of the world). The books became scarier and more dangerous and Harry Potter was growing up with us.

Of course, with great fame comes great backlash, and being the son of a preacher man (ba-zing) I was told not to bring Potter into the house. It was, after all, evil, since it dealt with witchcraft having the potential to do good. And the fact that it was aimed at children was like bizarro-world evangelism (that was a Superman reference, and if you got it, your house gets 100 points courtesy of SAB). I snuck the books in anyway though, not because I was brewing spells under my bed late at night, but because I was right there with Harry. I was scared to death of growing up, and so was Harry, Ron and Hermione. The books were encouraging , exciting and magical. Not magical in the Satanic sense, but in the sense that Middle-Earth or Oz was magical. It was magical because it was so real, and so familiar.

Naturally, I’ve since grown quite a bit ahead of Harry. He’s just turned 17 in “Deathly Hallows,” and I myself am looking ahead at 22. He’s a high school drop out (why hasn’t anyone complained about this aspect of the book? Seriously, the biggest book series of all time has the three heroes drop out of High School. Thanks, Scholastic!) and I’m entering my last year of college. While I obviously haven’t had to face what he’s faced, we’ve all faced our own Voldemort’s and Death Eater’s over the years, haven’t we? All that stuff in Harry Potter is just surface to Rowling I think. What matters to her is her portrait of a kid struggling with growing up.

In “Deathly Hallows,” Harry has to come to terms with death, as we all must. It’s like the “Schindler’s List” in Harry Potter books at times. And by focusing on this specific theme for the last book, Rowling not only creates quite the suspenseful narrative, but also forces all of us to really think about death. The way she handles it towards the end of the book is just stunningly beautiful at times, and oddly encouraging again.

I’m 21. I’m trying to find an agent (I’m a screenwriter). I manage a movie theatre. I’m going to graduate. I want a home. I want a family. I’m really poor. I’m going to be 22. I think about death a lot more than I used to way back when “Philosopher’s Stone” came out (which also deals with death, but in that far-away-old-people-die sense). I think about these things, and I admit while reading “Deathly Hallows”, it hit close to home sometimes and I thought about my own life, and my own fear of death, and watching Harry deal with these made it somehow more comforting for me, just like watching him go through the horrors of school was for me growing up.

I don’t think Harry Potter is evil. Far from it. I think he’s impacted a generation on a far deeper level then, say, The Beatles in the sixties/seventies. I think it’s more than being the new “Lord of the Rings” (which are superiorly written and clearly better movies, but that’s not the point I’m getting at). I think it’s more important than “Pilgrim’s Progress” or “Narnia,” which I’m not saying to sound blasphemous, but that those are both fairly narrow minded in what life’s journey should be and how you should go through it.

I don’t think we’ll ever see something like Harry Potter again as long as we live. I think Harry Potter took an entire generation and became its spokesperson. The fact that it branched to a lot older than us is just testament to its themes and Rowling’s growth as a writer. But for us, for my generation, there is nothing like Harry Potter. I think in years to come we’ll see dissertations and books examining the deep pyschological reasons we all dug so deeply into Harry Potter, into Hogwarts, into whether Snape was good or evil. And really, the reason is just plainly simple:

Harry Potter is all of us. When “Philosopher’s Stone” came out, we all wished we were like him; that there was something so special about us that explained why we all felt a little different. With “Deathly Hallows,” we’re all growing up with him, Ron and Hermione, and we all just want what he wants: to live happily ever after. We might not have to take on Voldermort to achieve it, but the theme remains the same, and of course Rowling knows it. She’s known it all along, and she’s tapped more into a generation than anyone has before.

Harry Potter isn’t good or evil. He’s just a kid trying to grow up as best as he can. And it’s really hard sometimes, and it’s always going to be really hard. But it’s something that he’s got to do, and we all had the pleasure of growing up and going through it with him, which will be a treasure I forever hold dear.

We’re hopefully going to show “Harry Potter and the Order of the Phoenix” at Lost Films this fall, and I really hope that if you have a problem with this decision, you’ll do a couple things: Firstly, I’d encourage you to read the book(s) and watch the movie(s), and engage with them as the story of someone struggling with growing up. Then, if you still have problems, I’d like you to find good, hard facts about the so-called “true witchcraft” in Harry Potter. Wikipedia has a list of every spell in Harry Potter and it’s origin, check it out. Don’t believe everything you’re told by different organizations about Harry Potter, try to find out the truth for yourself. Here’s another wiki page featuring a selection of religious opposition and criticisms regarding “Harry Potter,” and responses from the likes of J.K. Rowling, Christianity Today and more.

If you still have problems with our choice at SAB, please do not hesitate to e-mail me personally at bd1187@messiah.edu. You’ll find that I’m a grown up who likes to talk like one, and I’d like nothing more than to open up a discussion on Harry Potter.

I hope you all loved the book as much as I did (it’s my favorite of the seven I believe), and I hope you all enjoyed the movie as much as I did (it’s my second favorite, after “Azkaban”). I’ll see you at Parmer Cinema this fall: I’ll be the guy dressed as Harry Potter, taking your tickets.

-Brian

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Summer Music Homework

July 14th, 2007 | Category: Concerts

I will not officially announce anything just yet for this Fall 2007, BUT! I will offer some musical direction towards our fall’s SAB concert series. Here goes it (crack the knuckles):

1. Mewithoutyou- Brother, Sister; I have to admit, I have not listened to this album enough to say something clever or breath-taking, so feel free to comment on this post with one of your own.
2. Feist- The Reminder; just released this past spring, a wonderful follow-up to her previous album “Let it Die”. !WARNING! Do not operate heavy machinery while listening.
3. Andrew Bird- Armchair Apocrypha; also a nice follow-up to his previous album “…& The Mysterious Production of Eggs”, some favorites of mine on this album are “Scythian Empire”, “Imitosis”, and “Simple X”
4. Guster- Ganging up on the Sun; Their fifth album together, and personally one of their best, if not their best (but thats just my opinion). Currently touring with Ben Kweller this summer, but is also said to tour this fall too.

Other mucho gusto albums you should give a listen:
Ryan Adams- Easy Tiger
Paul McCartney- Memory Almost Full
The White Stripes- Icky Thump
Spoon- Ga Ga Ga Ga Ga
WILCO- Sky Blue Sky

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Film Extravaganza!

July 07th, 2007 | Category: Lost Films

Just because Lost Films is done for the summer doesn’t mean incredible movie events aren’t still going on around the Harrisburg area. In fact, there are three different events that I strongly urge you all to check out if you get the chance:

Fristly, and easily the geekiest of these, is BLOB FEST in Phoenixville:

http://www.thecolonialtheatre.com/html/BlobFest.html

From Friday July 13-Saturday July 14, the town of Pheonixville, PA will be celebrating it’s most famous cinematic export: THE BLOB. Events include a parade of fire extinguishers, re-enactments, concerts and of course a film festival not only showing “The Blob,” but also fanmade tributes. Phoenixville is a lovely little town too, so this will be a blast, I promise.

Before Lost Films begins again in the fall, you might want to check out Moviate!

http://www.moviate.org/

Here’s their outdoor filmseries schedule, which is pretty incredible:

July 7: Breakfast at Tiffany’s
July 21: Meatballs
August 4: Rear Window
August 18: Cry Baby
September 1: It Came From Outer Space in 3-D, with LIVE Theremin soundtrack!

A $5 donation at the door goes directly to the in-person filmmaker and hosting venue.

Screenings at the Mantis Collective are held at 202 North Street, Harrisburg.

The Side Street Cinema is located at the corner of Green and Cumberland streets in Harrisburg, Pennsylvania, in the Salvation Army Parking Lot.

The Gettysburg Majestic has started a weekly classic film series, and if you get the chance to see any of these movies on the big screen, consider yourself truly blessed:

http://www.gettysburgmajestic.org/home/index.dot

July 11: Doctor Zhivago
July 18: At the Circus & A Night at the Opera
July 25: 2001: A Space Odyssey
August 1: “Dracula” & “Frankenstein”
August 8: The Searchers
August 15: The Women
August 22: The Sound of Music
August 29: Gone with the Wind

All movies start at 7:30pm at a cost of $5.50. They have awesome concessions there, including items I cannot recommend while a student/employee of Messiah College.

See you at the movies!

-Brian

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