Tuesday, December 14, 2004

Earthsea Part two

I liked the second part of this miniseries.It had a very nice ending, but I'll let you discover that for yourself. The miniseries got a little predictable towards the end. The second part became almost formulaic. It wasn't quite mechanical, because of the excellent writing by Ursula K Guin. However , I don't think they're were too many twists or unexpected events. Although I'm sure it was the last part that left many fans of the series unsatisfied. It seemed as if a lot had been left out in order to combine the last two books. I know that the series continues after the miniseries ends, but there doesn't seem to be any way for it to continue, but it does impress me that this was able to stand on its own. I still highly recomend the series, although I wouldn't run out and buy it on dvd.

Earthsea part one

Except for a few of her short stories I had never read anything by Ursela K. Guinn so I was pleasntly suprised by the SciFi channel's adaptation of the first two books of her Earthsea series. Lately there have been quite a few high quality adaptations of fantasty books. The breathtaking scenery alone was amazing, and I was highly impressed by the cinamatography. Most of the acting was exceptional, Danny Glover as Ged's master was incredible. Up until now I had only see Danny Glover in action movies, as tough funny good guys. Still a good guy in the movie, but totally differant then anything I have ever seen him before. Ged() was also impressive as the young bumbling and powerful wizard hero, who (so far) causes more problems than he solves. Also notable were Ged's advisary, and Tiran(). Isabella Rossolini got a lot of good reviews, but she didn't seem to stand out as much. The only actor that bothered me was the man who played Ged's father. Everytime he yelled at Ged, I expected him to say (as Ged walked away) something along the lines of "Oh well, whatever, it doesn't really matter."
Normally I don't really notice costumes but the costume designer did and excellent job. They seem to be a cross between South American, African and Mideval designs. Exactly what I would have expected from a place with a world of islands and magic.
Earthsea is a about a Magical world with sisters who keep the faith by warding of nameless ones (literally imortal beings whose true name cannot be determined) and wizards(both male and female) who protect and other wise help the general population by the use and practice of majic, of which much of the power comes by learning the true names of things and people. In the meantime a powerful and evil lord is trying to unite the lands of earthsea and destroy a young mage by the name of Ged. So far Ged has mostly caused trouble mostly by unleashing a nameless one as part of a way to beat a wizard in training from the house of lords. The lord has taken over the wizard school on Rilke, but not the monestary of the sisters. I thoughroughly enjoyed the first half and can't wait for the second half, infact i plan on reading the books as soon as I can.

Friday, December 10, 2004

Short Reviews from this Week

This is a show that deserves mention. It's a pretty good comedy. It's both intelligent and funny. Tuesday's episode was a little more up lifting than usual (Best Moment in Medicine), but it certainly wasn't sappy. All the characters behaved true to thier nature, and added some more depth. It was nice to see a show where someone almost dies, that was portrayed more realistically. It would have worked for the show if the father did die, but because of the theme, I prefered this ending(would have been really sad, but J.D., Elliot, and the rest would not have been able to shine in medicine)

Forever by Judy Blume
I liked this book. It was a pretty good portrayal of a first love. The reviews made a big deal of the seperation, although that was something that occurred much later in the book. I would've liked to had Micheal's perspective. She seemed a little cold towards him.
A Girl Like Che Gueverra by Teresa De La Carrida Doval
This book was about a teenage girls experiences in a School in the Fields in Cuba. It was not censored,but it suprised me that although there were a lot of hardships in this camp and that life in Cuba under Fidel Castro was not perfect, the teens in the story had basically normal lives. I liked it for both the perspective it gave me on life in Cuba, and how well it was written. Both true-to-life and interesting "A Girl Like Che Gueverra" comes highly recommened.http://www.afrocubaweb.com/dovalpage.htm
Bigger, Faster, Better,More 4NonBlondes
I've been a fan of 4NonBlondes for years, possibly ever since they released this cd. What's Up with its catchy hooks and yahs is a personal favorite of mine.I found this at a thrift store (

Wednesday, December 8, 2004

The Quick Fix Kills-Saint Something

"What the world needs now is a loud, underground post punk band." or is it "Like I need a whole in my head." I don't know, but either way The Quick Fix Kills is an excellent example of a talented post punk, screaming emo, garage rock, whatever you want to call them band, beggining to make their way in the world. Check them out at http://www.thequickfixkills.com. If they keep at it, with hard work, dedication, and a little radio play they may very well find there way as the next punk phenomenon. Right now there a band with a not too bad cd and a few good songs that I would like to see live sometime if they were in town. Of course I live in Athens where every night of the week I can see a good bad for under $10, so that actually says something. Liked the cd. Gave me the impression that it would be a good band to see live.
The Quick Fix Kills appears to be a band filled with talent musicians who got together and realized they had something but needed a singer and some lyrics. I image the conversation went something like this. "You know we sound good, but I don't think anyone's going to listen to a band that's purely instumental" "Your right. Hey, I know this guy who writes and reads poetry. He's pretty dramatic about it. I bet we could get him" Because that's what it sounds like. Yes, screaming emo isn't called screaming just for the fun of it, but the music and the "singing" sound almost comepletly independant. They're are times one they do come together, like "Pick Your Poison" which combined with the slower rythm and the wispers and wails make for an enrthraling sound.
I found this cd for less than a buck at the Habitat for Humanity Thriftstore (great organization, check them out http://www.habitat.org) so I consider it a great find. Even at $10 ($1 per song) its still a pretty great bargin. Like I said these guys are good muscians, and if you like loud fast music, with some veriety. I have to say that I was actually impressed. I've seen a lot of punk bands and listened to a lot of their cds and most of them were basically the same song over and over again, except with different lyrics. Which is great when your at a show, but why busy a cd. But even after a second listen I still enjoyed listening to The Quick Fix Kills- Saint Something.

Tuesday, December 7, 2004

University Theatre's production of A Christmas Carol by Charles Dickens

I saw this show on Saturday, which happened to be the last night it was playing, so for those of you who missed it, tough luck and be sure to check out University Theatre in the future. I'm not normally a big fan of A Christmas Carol, I've seen all the movies, read the book and even seen it live a few times. Generally I like it, but it doesn't impress me anymore. Actually, aside from the political points it makes and the fact that it was well written, it never did. But this show impressed me from the minute I walked in the door. Actually before I even walked in. As we walked up to the UGA fine arts building several men dressed in Victorian Costumes were singing Christmas Carols. The cast continued to interact with the audience while we were waiting in the lobby to get tickets and sitting in our seats, waiting for the show to begin, staying in character the whole time. They scolded us and teased us and encouaged us to sing the twelve days of chistmas with the whole cast. I was never sure exactly when the show started and that was part of the fun. It was like being at the Renissance Faire or Williamsburg. They incorperated the usual bits about cell phones , fundraising , and promoting future shows into the act. All the extras and bit parts did an excellent job of acting as narrators throughout.
The set was amazing. It swung out so that we could see the inside and the outside of buildings. Having worked backstage myself several times I can hardly image how much work and how much money it took to build that set. Much was said about the special media effects. Although they were nice, I was only truly impressed by one or two. In the first scene a video screen was set up to show people outside scrooge and marley's window. Also the ghost of christmas past's dress swirled with images from scrooges' past. I felt both of these media effects really added something to the play that couldn't have been achieved otherwise.
I think this was the first time I have ever seen "A Christmas Carol" done as a comedy. I had always thought of it as a very serious story. I can't really explain why, except that the actors were largely responsible for this. The extras especially Old Joe (name to be added later), the Charwomen (insert name here), and the Undertaker (you got it), really stood out. The MFA student who played old scrooge (blank) was equally impressive. He brought a lot of depth and humanity to this charactor that I have never noticed before. Although he portrayed scrooge as the classic old miser with out a sense of humor himself, he used his portrayal to make scrooge and the situations comical. One of the things that made his character so comical was when he traveled with the spirits Scrooge consistantly and convincingly tried to interact with the other characters even when he knew he could not. The whole audiance was laughing all the way through. Piotr Stapor as young Scrooge deserves a mention, because I saw him in the Homecoming, as a very different character and he showed that he has deversity as well as a good grasp of character and emotion. I would like to stress that this role would have stood out anyway, because he played it so well.
I would like to applaud the director(), with a particular mention of the two party scenes. I have noticed that party scenes are difficult to stage, because many people assume that as long as some people are dancing and some people are talking or sitting it looks natural. In particular I liked the husband and the wife trying to learn how to dance (Fezziwig), and the part where the couple flirting kissing under the mistletoe(nephew). I realize the mistletoe is written into the script, but the director had someone bring the mistletoe over the couple's head which added a nice touch.
On the other hand I have a few fine points I would like to make, about things I did not like. First of all, in the scene where his girlfriend(name ommited out of professional courtesy) leaves young scrooge, I felt that she overacted and was overdramatic to the point where I wasn't very convinced she was sincere. Secondly,the lowering of the screen projector bothered me. It was too obvious. Basically that was it. There may have been other problems, but I wasn't really aware of them.
The curtain call was well done. They were all already on stage, and it began to snow. I especially liked how the cast sang a Christmas Carol as they took their bows. It kept the same sense that you had from the beginning, that you weren't watching a play but being transported into an event.

Friday, December 3, 2004

Gabrial Young Cd release party

Disclaimer: Although I have known Gabe for years through my brother, I never heard him play until June, so none of the appearant bias is due to any loyalty to Gabe.
This wasn't the first time I heard Gabrial Young, but I still continue to be impressed by there unique sound and talent. I don't really know how to descibe them except maybe as pop folk with some similarities to John Mayer, Josh Grogan, and Gavin Degraw.
It's obvious that Gabe Zobanos and Kaylen Nash still have some kinks to work out when it comes to there live shows and musical technique, but they still put on an impressive show. Or rather maybe its not so obvious that they have kinks to work out. The show tonite was in the Steny-Stoval chapel and althought it has seats like a regular auditorium its still my favorite venue in Athens just becuse of the acoustics. Like all venues in Athens ( save the Classic Center and a few churches) its nice and small as well. Gabrial Young's style tends more toward a smaller more intimate venue; I'm not really sure how much I would enjoy a show in a larger space. Gabe and Kalen have a tendancy to talk to the audiance which I like, except as the former high school classmate that I was with (whom we'll call Drew to protect the guilty) pointed out, "most of what Kalen says is really stupid", probably because he tends to get nervous. Gabe is usually pretty entertaining and the rapport between them is pretty good and should improve with time.
Musically they were pretty amazing. Gabe is known for his acousitc guitar playing abilities, but he played piano on a few numbers, as well as electric guitar. His voice was even featured on one song, something Drew and I both agreed should happen more often. Gabe doesn't seem to think he has a very good voice, but if I rember correctly he went to all-state choir in high school, something I was never able to do despite being well known for my singing.
Not that any of that really means anything.. but he certainly didn't make anyone's ears bleed.
They played all the crowd favorites including Sallie's song, Samoan, and Don't Wait on the Rain.Most of the songs they played are either on the album Sidewalks and Dirtroads (review coming) or were realeased online as part of a live concert, but there were a few new songs tonight as well. I don't remember the names of any of these, but one of them was the song that featured Gabe's voice. After a standing ovation Gabe and Kalen played an encore of an instumental that has become the standard way they end shows (DAGAD). And this is something I'm not real thrilled about. I seem to be the only one. It's nice and it shows off some of their technique, but it sounds like more of an exercise than a song. It also continues to build and build and build. And never get anywhere. I like it, I just wish they wouldn't end with it, because it's not my favorite.
I only have a few beefs with the concert, and these are mostly nit picky. Kalen is real good at kissing the mike, but Gabe seems almost afraid of it, to the point where no one can here him. The other thing which I mentioned before is that Kalen says some really stupid things or says things stupidly. Gabe occasionally does this, but he's better at making a joke out of it. Sometimes there's dead space while Gabe's tuning one of his guitar's . Not very often though. The other beef I have is that there is a particular song at a particular point in the chorus, where Kalen's voice cracks. I know it so well, I've come to expect it, and when I'm not paying attention I treat it like part of the song.
When all is said and done it was an awsome night and if you missed it I'm sorry. If you've never heard the boys I encourage you to check out their website at
http://www.gabrielyoung.com . They've got an awsome fan friendly site, with lots more information than I could ever give. They're working hard for their dream and I'm sure they'll make it . I consider it an honor and a privilege to be able to say I knew (at least Gabe) them then, and think it very exciting to hear them now, and I'm sure you will too.

Thursday, December 2, 2004

trite t.v.

I have a confession to make. I watch the O.C. Religously. I actually think it's pretty good. The characters are pretty well developed and fairly well written. Its very superficial, all about who's dating who, who's mad at who. All relationship stuff. Except for that little bit about Ryan being intrested in architecture and the Newport News bussiness. But when your in highschool your social life probably is the most important thing anyway. But that's not all its got going for it. The characters aren't all the same. Most of them like alterna-punk and comics and video games,which is great, because I would have loved to have t.v. role models back then (only 3 years ago). But the charcters aren't one sided or one demensonal either. And the parents. They're dynamic and well represented and they all have strengths and weaknesses. They're neither too perfect (7th heaven, father knows best, leave it to beaver) or too nuerotic ( Buffy, Sputh Park, Family Guy). It's not a perfect show, but atleast its more realistic than most shows. I don't know about the acting. I like it too much to be objective about that. I do think the guy who plays Cohen is pretty good. I don't know about the rest. They seem to vary as far as I'm concerned. Some are better than others. I can't tell about Ben (the guy who plays Ryan) he doesn't do or say much, but that might just be his character. I've never seen him in anything else. Misha Barton I could take her or leave her. As a matter of fact if they wrote her out of the show it would solve a lot of plot problems as far as I'm concerned. Actually I think her character is somewhat one dimensional, and I can't really tell what she's thinking. I still love the show. Can't miss it. "Don't you know not to bother me thursday nights from 8 to 9."
While I was watching the show they showed that Gap commercial with Sarah Jessica Parker and J.C. Chavez ( I looked it up- I have no idea who he is) was singing Shining Star by Earth,Wind, and Fire. He gets to the part where he sings "Shining bright to see what you can truly be what you can truly be" and she cuts him off at can in order to say something that I can't even remember. What?!! Why couldn't they have waited unit he sings the word be. It's not like he didn't continue singing after she was done talking. I wouldn't be caught dead bying or wearing their clothes, but I normally like the commercials. But that was just sloppy editing. It's not like they didn't pay millions of dollars to get the commercial made in the first place, how much more could it have cost them to edit it properly. Whatever.

Wednesday, December 1, 2004

Delta Airlines

I flew to Indiana from the Atlanta airport and back for Thanksgiving . We used Delta and because we didn't have any bags to check (just carry ons) it only took us 15 from the time we got to the airport (pulled up to the door) until we got to our gate. We used their new online checkin system which I highly recommed. While everyone else was trying to get their tickets from the highly overworked clerks and wait for said clerks to check their bags in, we were speeding throught security.
I've flown about 6 times pre-911 and 14 times since (2 that December) and althought its alot more paranoid than it was pre-911, even on the busiest day of the year(sunday after Thanksgiving), it didn't take the 3 hours to go through security like it did on 9/12/04.
The flight wasn't too bad either, at least it was short. I don't dislike flying, its just that the air pressure and the cramped seats get to me. I'm not a large person at all, I just don't like sitting down. Not only that, but they've really started skimping on the inflight food. We only had 4 choices on drinks, they didn't even serve alcohol to the first class passangers, and we got a very small bag of pretzles. One of these days they're not even going to serve drinks, even on long flights.They don't on Greyhound, but those tickets don't cost $325 one way (we bought them last minute).