Category Archives: Arts & Entertainment

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Life Cycle

This stop motion video shows the cycle of nature from life to death. I made a wreath out of live plants I picked from nature. I then created an inner circle of charcoal to signify summer. The I added dead leaves, which represent autumn. The last cycle involved adding sticks and burning the wreath to symbolize the death of winter. The song is “Cherry” by Ratatat.

Link to Life Cycle

Illustration by Heidi Chantry

Couples Retreat, a Retreat or Purgatory

I consider myself knowledgeable on a limited number of subjects. Film is one of them. All you moviegoers better know who the hell Vince Vaughn is. Old School and Wedding Crashers are two of my favorite movies, and Vaughn made his move into print by writing The Breakup and now Couples Retreat. This isn

2009 CMA’s = Great Performances

The 43rd annual country music awards show was a big night for newcomers like Taylor Swift, Lady Antebellum and Darius Rucker. The award show was held at the Sommet Center in Nashville, TN and had several musical performances including the Zac Brown Band, Brooks and Dunn, Taylor Swift, Lady Antebellum and Carrie Underwood.


The CMA was hosted by Carrie Underwood and Brad Paisley and was mostly dominated by Taylor Swift, who walked away winning all four categories she was nominated in

Major League: Featuring Cleveland

If you like baseball, then you’ve probably heard of some pretty good baseball movies before. One movie you may have heard of would be the movie, The Sandlot. Another might be the movie, Field of Dreams. Both of which are pretty good movies about baseball, but neither of them really show any good baseball action. None of them do this like the movie, Major League anyway, a film that was originially released in 1989. Major League is a comedy and as you watch the first half of it, it seems like a joke to you at first. However, what begins as a pretty funny movie, ends up being a really great baseball movie. Major League has some good comedic aspects, and it also conveys what it’s really like to be a part of a marjor league baseball team.

The movie begins with a woman named Rachel Phelps, inheriting the franchise of the Cleveland Indians when her husband passes away. Rachel’s plan is to put together a baseball team bad enough to finish in last place in Cleveland’s division, so she’ll be able to relocate the whole franchise to Miami, where she can enjoy her own selfish pleasures. She puts her plan underway, and at first, it looks like she’s doing a pretty good job. The Indians loose their first game 9-0 against the New York Yankees, and it seems that the Indian players have no chance of a very sucessful season at all.

As the movie progresses, you learn about each of the players on Cleveland’s team, and how they have to deal with the issues in their own personal lives. The main character in the movie who faces the biggest issues with his life, is the Indian Catcher, a man by the name of Jake Taylor. While he’s trying to lead a loosing team as a catcher, he’s also dealing with physical problems in his legs, as well as chasing the love of his life who is engaged to another man. The movie has not only a lot of good action and comedy, but it also has a fair amount of drama in it as well.

Anyway, a little over half way through the season, the Indian coach Lou Brown learns of what Rachel Phelps is really trying to do. As soon as he discovers that she really wants the Indians to finish in last place, he tells the team, and they become motivated enough to prove her wrong and turn their season around. They finish in a first place tie with the Yankees, and play New York in a one game playoff for the division as the home team. This is where the movie really kicks in with some good baseball action, and it’s also the turning point in the movie to make the veiwer realize that it really is a good movie.

This movie is by far one of the best baseball movies ever made. There were two sequels that were made after it, Major League II and Major League: Back to the Minors. Neither of these two films were as sucessful as the first. Major League is a movie that you will really want to watch some day if you like baseball, it’s a great movie from the start of baseball season, to the end.



Dragon Ball Z: the good and the bad

One TV show that everyone probably loved when they were a kid would probably have been Dragonball Z; the show staring the Saiyan warrior Goku and his friends who would always save the universe from evil villains like Cell, Freiza, Majin Buu and you’d know them all if you ever watched the show.

The entire show was basically to appeal to young viewer, preferably boys. In fact, not very many girls probably ever watched Dragonball Z or even really knew anything about it. The show was mostly an action show designed with lots of fighting and explosions, and all those cool things that young boys like.

It was a pretty awesome action show, with some pretty cool fight scenes. However, the entire storyline for the series was pretty crappy and it didn’t make sense at times. For one thing, the fact that there’s a separate planet that you go to when you die, and even if that happens, if your friends just bring together all seven dragonballs they can wish you back to life. That whole concept makes death completely meaningless. The entire human race gets wiped out and the Earth gets destroyed in the series, and they just bring it all back like it’s no big deal at all. Also, there are a lot of movies that were released to go along with the TV show. However, because the plot of the TV series was always ongoing, the movies could never fit in with the stories. Many of the movies just simply could have never happened because they wouldn’t have made sense.

Also, the battles against the more powerful villains, sometimes seemed to take forever. One wonders if it was really necessary to make fight scenes go on for as long as they sometimes could in Dragonball Z. The battle against Freiza lasted for a pretty long time when he fought with Goku, and as you watched it, while it probably seemed pretty cool at first, you probably started to wonder, “When is this battle ever going to end?” Also, the next major battle which was the battle with Cell, lasted for almost just as long, and if you’re not a patient person, you probably would have felt the same level of frustration as you did in the Freiza battle wondering when the fight would ever end.

Up until Cell, the plot was already pretty poorly written, but it became even more crappy after the Cell saga. The reason for that was because the person who had been writing the storyline for the show up until then, simply left when the Cell Saga was over. Then a new writer took over to continue writing the story, and he turned the entire storyline into crap. There were so many problems with the way he continued the story such as small children becoming super saiyans or being able to have a tournament, as well as a search for an evil wizards spaceship, then reviving an evil monster, fighting it, and having it wreaking havoc on the Earth, all in only one day.

DBZ, overall, is a pretty amazing TV show when it comes to battles, and it has some pretty bad ass fight scenes in it that young boys simply love watching. However, it really needs to have a better storyline behind it, because the story behind DBZ is absolutely shitty and there are too many things that just don’t make sense. There are other shows that were made to add to the storyline of Dragonball Z as well, such as Dragonball, which is the story of Goku when he was a child. Then there’s Dragonball GT, which is the story that continues pretty much where Dragonball Z left off. Both shows are like Dragonball Z in the sense that while they have some pretty cool action scenes, they could also use much better story lines.

Check out a video from the show:

Photo courtesy of Cartoon Network

Video courtesy of YouTube.com

Ghosts Will Surely Haunt You

When I saw the preview for “Ghosts of Girlfriends Past” I was really excited and could not wait to see it. I love Jennifer Garner as an actress and I can tolerate Matthew McConaughey with his slow, seducing, laid-back southern accent. But boy was I wrong, because from the minute I started the film to the very end I did not laugh once and was left stunned asking myself

Paranormal Activity, does it live up to the hype?

I am a monstrously huge fan of horror movies, but I have not seen one in years that scared me to the point of screaming in horror. “Paranormal Activity looked like the answer to my petrifying prayers. This was a movie I have been looking forward since I first saw the TV spot a couple months ago. I even went online to demand it be released nationwide. Well, 1 million demands later, there was a nationwide release planned. Paranormal Activity” has been said to be one of the the scariest films of the year, perhaps even the decade. Could be true? Could this finally be the movie that can make audiences squeal in terrifying, horrific delight?

Not quite.

Plot Summary

Everyday, average couple Micah and Katie buy a video camera to record the not-so-average paranormal phenomenon that seems to be following Katie. At first, it is only noises and slamming doors waking the couple at night, but It quickly progresses into more violent and creepy happenings like footprints made in flour on the floor. Finally, Katie calls a physic who informs the couple that the entity in their home is very aggressive and he can do nothing for them. Micah then takes matters into his ownhands by going around the house cussing out the demon spirit (bad call) and then proceeds to borrow a Ouija board in an attempt to make contact. Unfortunately, his plan not only upsets Katie (who wants to take the smart approach to the situation and leave the evil spirit alone), but also causes even more disturbances, including possession. Katie is filmed doing things she can not remember in the morning, such as standing beside the bed for 3 hours like a creeper, staring at Micah while he sleeps. Katie begins having more blackouts and strange behavior, and Micah is lost on what to do. He suggests they leave the house (one of the view good ideas this guy has) and Katie agrees at first, but then changes her mind, saying “everything will be okay now.” That should have been a big red flag, and the audience can sense that something is about to go down, and we all know who it’s going to be. The end is sad, slightly reminiscent of The Exorcism of Emily Rose and The Exorcist , and too sudden. Paranormal Activity beats comparable films, like The Blair Witch Project, all to crap, but there could still have been more done with it if they had actually had a decent budget.

Is it worth your time?

The “home-video” feel to the movie makes the story seem more realistic, as Katie and Micah could be your next door neighbors. It actually puts me in the mind of Ghosthunters on the Scifi channel, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing. Sure, that kind of approach can make the audience feel a little let down in the special effects department, but that’s part of the fun of this movie.

As with any film, “Paranormal Activity” comes with its share of problems and goofs. There are times you can hear the main characters call each other by the wrong names, but the viewers would be to engrossed in the situation to even notice the first time around.

What this movie does bring to the table is something different, a change of pace from the usual serial killer/monster movie we are starting to see a trend of. If you’re a fan of the psychological horror, this film can mess with your head if you let it. But, if you walk in not looking for the thrill of becoming scared, you probably won’t find this movie very threatening in the nightmare department.

See it or Skip it?

See it. I admit, I was caught up in all the hype surrounding this movie and expected to have to sleep with the lights on for a night or two, but I was a little let down. Maybe I expected too much and my standards are too high. I know this film would have scared a lot of my friends, so this is why I’m saying, give it a chance. This might be a film for you. As a viewer, you need to let yourself get into the story, and that’s when you can really enjoy its subtle terror. On the other hand, you might find this film funny (I did), and even that is worth some entertainment points, but it still does not live up to the hype.

Final Result: See it or wait to rent it (with a big group of people at night. That might make it more fun.)

Check out the trailer:

Photo courtesy of Blumhouse Productions

Video courtesy of YouTube.com

The greatest legend that ever played guitar!

Probably one of the best guitar players of Rock and Roll was a man by the name of Randall William Rhoads. He was an amazing guitar player and there were really no others quite like him. Ever since he was a kid all he wanted to do was play guitar. He began playing at a very young age. It didn’t take long at all for his talents to show when he had his first lesson. A very short time later, his guitar instructor told his mother, (“I’ve taught the kid everything I know and he’s mastered it flawlessly. If he keeps seeing me he’ll have to start teaching me soon.”) Randy’s mother was quite amazed by this.

When Randy was in his early twenties, the famous Ozzy Osbourne, who had been kicked out of the band Black Sabbath and was looking to start a new band, was holding tryouts to look for a guitar player. Randy had no interest in trying out, but his mother told him that he should because Osbourne was someone who really knew the buisness. After his tryout, his mother said that it was the only time she had ever seen him angry. It wasn’t even for the reason that you would expect. When he came home, he said (“Ozzy didn’t even let me finish warming up and he said I could be in his band. Now he doesn’t even really know what I can do!”)

Osbourne was later interviewed about this, and the reason he accepted Rhoads so quickly was actually pretty funny. (“I didn’t really care how good the kid was,”) Osbourne said. (“Everyone else who came to the tryouts was showing off and playing random shit as fast as they could, they thought that was the best way to impress me and it didn’t even sound all that good. I could tell that none of them were actually all that good and I was wondering if I’d ever be able to really get a good guitar player. When the kid came and began to audition, I didn’t care how good he was simply because he bothered to warm up.”)

Osbourne had no idea that the kid he accepted into his band was quite possibly one of the best guitar players in the world at that time. He was in for quite a surprise. He and Rhoads did some pretty amazing things together as they went on tours and gave performances. Osbourne’s band made a substantial amount of money and earned many fans. Rhoads was really incredible, and he made Ozzy’s band so well known.

Unfortunately, Rhoads only lived to be 26 years old. Shortly before his death, Rhoads told Osbourne that he planned on quiting the band to become a guitar teacher because he didn’t want the fame. He never had the chance to quit, however, because he died in a plane crash. The reason for the crash was none other than the fact that the pilot was being an idiot. Osbourne was asleep on his bus when Rhoads got on the plane. The pilot of the plane thought it would be funny to fly the plane around the bus just to make Osbourne mad. He flew the plane near the bus again and again, and one of the times that he came near the bus, one of the plane’s wings hit the bus, was cut off, and the plane flew into a mansion.

Osbourne’s band suffered a terrible loss when that happened, as did the world of music. Rhoads was truly one of the greatest guitar players who ever lived. He was so naturally gifted that even when he was a little kid it was as if god created him specifically for the purpose of playing guitar. There will really never be another guitar player as amazing as he was. To this day, modern rock is missing him, but the things he did in his lifetime made his name truely immortal.

Photo courtesy of www.rudysarzo.com, www.geocities.com

Video courtesy of YouTube

The Proposal: Sandra and Ryan propose an okay movie

This Summer was packed with some of the most exciting movies of the year (“Transformers,” “Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince,” “Star Trek” and the list goes on,) and somewhere lost in the middle of the cinematic awesomeness was “The Proposal,” starring Sandra Bullock and Ryan Reynolds.

I’ll admit that I am a fan of the romantic-comedy genre, and this film delivers some cute, good laughs. But that is about it.

Plot Summary

The story begins with Margaret Tate (Bullock); a successful, uptight and generally hated editor-in-chief of a publishing company, who is told she is being deported back to Canada. To save her life in America, she forces her assistant who despises her, Andrew Paxton (Reynolds), to marry her in exchange for a promotion. To make the engagement seem legitimate, Andrew drags Margaret to a secluded Alaskan town that his family owns. Yes, Andrew’s family is filthy rich, and yet it is his goal to become an editor without the financial help of his family. He wants to make it on his own. He’s the touchingly typical good guy.

Upon reaching Andrew’s hometown, Margaret meets his family, including sweet, eccentric Grandma Annie, played by Betty White. The family buys into the fake romance. Margaret is treated to all the bridal festivities, including a very strange striptease from the town waiter/evangelist/wannabe Chippendale’s dancer. This is when Margaret starts feeling the consequences of her actions. She grows a heart and feels guilty for lying to Andrew’s entire family, all the while falling in love with him. And, surprise surprise, Andrew begins falling in love with her; only he does not realize it until Margaret leaves him at the altar (and it takes a strong woman to leave Ryan Reynolds, even if it is for the right reasons). But never fear, Andrew has a revelation and flies back to New York City just in time to save Margaret’s job and love. It’s disappointing that real life can’t be this way, but that’s what Hollywood is for.

The Pros and Cons

Let’s be honest here, the main characters are gorgeous. That’s attention grabbing in itself (no girl is going to say that seeing an almost naked Ryan Reynolds would not make their day, and even the guys wouldn’t mind a little peek at Sandra Bullock). Bullock and Reynolds are an easy-to-love comedic pair. Reynolds is likable with his easy sarcasm, while Bullock has to work for the audiences love in such an uptight role, but she pulls it off well. 1 point for Pros.

While there are some good comedic moments, such Grandma Annie (White) encouraging Margaret and Andrew to have premarital sex with the uber-gross family “baby maker” blanket or Margaret singing “Window to the Wall” with said grandma in the middle of the woods, there is really nothing new or fresh. The acts will still get a chuckle, but it is still nothing special. It’s the same jokes, puns, and stunts audiences have seen before. 1 point for Cons.

Perhaps the saving grace of this movie is, of course, the romance. It’s totally unbelievable that Andrew, who hated Margaret so much for a number of years, could fall in love with her in such a short amount of time. Some could argue that’s true love, I say that’s crap. But it is still a sweet thought and I’m a complete sucker for happy endings. The audience will know how this story ends before the previews even start, but the truth is, that’s just fine. It’s a typical, expected ending viewers will eat up. 1 point for Pros.

The Final Score

Pros: 2

Cons:1

This movie, however stereotypical, is still enjoyable. It’s as cute and sugary sweet as chocolate bunnies at Easter, and everyone could use some candy once in a while. Viewers probably won’t believe the ending, but they’ll still feel better knowing it ended correctly.

See it or Skip it?

See it. It’s not wonderfully awesome, but it is worth renting (since it is now out on DVD and Blue-ray). I would suggest renting before buying, however, because some of you may not be suckers like I am. It’s a perfect date movie or for a night-in with friends. For this movie, expect the expected and you’ll come out happy.

Photo from TouchStone

Video from YouTube

Big Trouble in Little China; big lame in big cinema

The movie “Big Trouble in Little China was clearly made for one specific reason: the makers wanted to have a film filled with lots of corny Chinese action. The action scenes in this movie are so obviously fake that even a preschooler would be able to tell the difference. However, the movie does have its laughs at certain points. But while it had a very interesting storyline behind it, the plot was not very well developed. The movie stars a truck driver named Jack Burton who takes his best friend to the airport to meet his fiance. His best friend is a young Chinese man who is eager to see the woman that he loves because he hasn’t been able to see her in a long time.

Things turn sour really quickly. When they arrive at the airport to meet her, she’s kidnapped by three mysterious suspects who tie her up, throw her in their car and take off with her. If I were her, I’d be thinking something like “Jesus Christ, I’m never going to that airport again!” So Jack and his friend set off on an adventure to save her and make a few new friends along the way. The two of them get involved in something thats much bigger than their rescue adventure and must fight numerous enemies along the way.

The action scenes in this movie, as mentioned earlier, are obviously fake. The sorcerers that Jack and his friends must battle are clearly being lifted by cables in the scenes where they fly. Also, in some of the fighting scenes, when the fighters are jumping around like in The Matrix and sword fighting midair, the effects behind it could have been much better. This movie was either extremely low budget or the makers of the movie were just extremely lazy. There were also monsters in this movie that were kind of scary but not very convincing.

As you get more and more into this movie, it becomes obvious that it’s nothing but a movie with Jacki Chan-style action. If the writers had taken a little more time with the story and made a better effort with the special effects, this would have been a pretty cool movie. Even though this is a movie that came out in the 80s, the special effects still could have been much better. A lot of cool sci-fi series were out at that time, like “Star Wars” and “Star Trek: The Next Generation and Terminator.”

This movie is a pretty good comedy. It has some pretty clever jokes here and there, and seeing how corny the special effects are, it can easily make you laugh. The ending to this movie was sort of creepy, when the monster was hiding on Jack’s truck. This ending was clearly designed to leave the audience with a little bit of fear. The movie had the potential to be great. While it was still ok, the makers should have made a better effort with it.

This is another featured story from Life Manager, Peter Mason, reviewing (or demolishing), older films. Enjoy; along with this video from the film.

Photos from of Twentieth Century-Fox Film Corporation

Video from of YouTube.com