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Saturday, December 20, 2014

Some Quick Updates

All right, I'm going on break, which means regular posting will be on hold until January 5. Until then, may you have a Merry Christmas and a Happy New Year.

Image credit:Open Clipart

© 2014 by M.R.R.

Movie Review:The Santa Clause

Premise:A divorced father accidentally agrees to become Santa Claus.

Cast:Tim Allen as Scott Calvin, Eric Lloyd as Charlie Calvin, Wendy Crewson as Laura Miller, Judge Reinhold as Dr. Neil Miller, David Krumholtz as Bernard, Paige Tamada as Judy the elf

Director:John Pasquin

MPAA Rating:PG for some crude moments

Genres:Holiday, comedy

Notes:Poster taken from IMP Awards.

Pros:Father-son bonding.

Cons:Obnoxious characters. In-story legal issues.

It's one thing to tell your skeptical kid that Santa is real. It's another to actually meet the guy, then accidentally kill him and get his job. Your life might get a little more complicated, especially when your ex and her husband start to worry about how much time you spend with your son.

Friday, December 19, 2014

Album Review:Comatose Comes Alive


Genres:Christian rock

Notes:Album art taken from Amazon.

General thoughts:I have a confession to make. I haven't been to a concert. I'm not sure if I ever will be. But that's what DVDs are for, right?

Since this is the post-Comatose tour, that's the majority of the music here. I'm a little disappointed "Falling Inside The Black" didn't make it on here, but that's a minor thing. I felt exhilarated watching it, getting the feeling that comes with epic rock music.

Be aware that the "behind the scenes" video doesn't actually tell you anything. It's just backstage footage set to "The Older I Get". But you will get several official music videos. And if you register the CD by signing up for the mailing list, you can get some bonus tracks (mostly acoustic versions of songs).

Overall, it's a great release and I recommend checking it out.

Thursday, December 18, 2014

Album Review:Have Yourself A Looney Tunes Christmas

Songwriters and composers:Mark A. Brymer, Roy Zimmerman, Melanie Harby, Johnny Marks, Jerry Herman, Fred Heider, Mel Tormé, J. Fred Coots, Haven Gillespie

Genres:Christmas/holiday, comedy

Notes:Album art taken from Amazon.

General thoughts:I'd expect a Christmas special by these guys, but not an album. How did it turn out?

Silly for one thing, both when it does original songs and with traditional carols. And very in character, which helped it.

Overall, fans of these guys ought to enjoy it.

Wednesday, December 17, 2014

Album Review:Smell The Color 9

Artist:Chris Rice

Songwriters:Chris Rice, Monroe Jones

Genres:Pop, adult contemporary, alternative

Notes:Album art taken from Amazon.

General thoughts:Most of the artists I listened to often at one point in my life have now passed into "hey, I remember that." Among them is Chris Rice.

There are two styles of songs here:The more upbeat, and the quieter and more introspective. There are good and bad examples of both. And the lyrics range from the light-hearted and a little silly to the more serious and emotional.

Overall, I've heard worse. If you like your Christian music a little unorthodox, consider picking this up.

Tuesday, December 16, 2014

The Year Without A Santa Claus Review

Premise:A ill Santa decides not to make his yearly trip, so his wife looks for another option.

Cast:Shirley Booth as Mrs. Claus, Mickey Rooney as Santa Claus, Bob McFadden as Jingle Bells, Bradley Bolke as Jangle Bells, Colin Duffy as Ignatius "Iggy" Thistlewhite, Dick Shawn as Snow Miser, George S. Irving as Heat Miser, Rhoda Mann as Mother Nature

Directors:Jules Bass and Arthur Rankin Jr.

Genres:Holiday, animation

Notes:Poster taken from IMDB.

Pros:Characters. Good dialogue. A couple of good songs.

Cons:Several strange or annoying musical numbers. One character serves no story purpose. Standard "Christmas without Santa" message. A couple of plot issues.

It happens to all of us. You've got something big you need to do, but then you get sick. Now all you want is a break from everything. But what if you're Santa Claus? How does that affect the world?

Monday, December 15, 2014

Album Review:Restored

Artist:Jeremy Camp

Songwriters:Jeremy Camp, Jean-Luc Lajoie, Adam Watts

Genres:Gospel, Christian rock

Notes:Album art taken from the official website.

General thoughts:Jeremy Camp is another artist I've listened to some, thanks to being around Christian music my whole life. He's also another that I haven't really gotten into, but has a few good songs. That last sentence isn't a bad description of this album. While I'm not big on the whole thing, there are several songs here that I want to hang onto.

Soundwise, this is where he starts really getting into the rock. He had a few songs like this early on, but not quite as much. Lyrically, it's mostly about God. His forgiveness, love, sacrifice, and so forth.

Overall, if you like Christian rock, I'd say give it at least one listen.

Saturday, December 13, 2014

Album Review For Songs 4 Worship:Christmas

Songwriters and composers:Really should look up the writers of these carols.

Genres:Classical, Christmas/holiday

Notes:Album art taken from Amazon.

General thoughts:This is Christmas/praise and worship music as sung by a chorus for the most part. Think what you might sing in church around Christmas time.

The whole chorus thing means it doesn't do much for me. There were moments during a few songs (like "O Come, O Come, Emmanuel"), but they were few and far between.

Overall, I'd skip it and pick out something by your favorite Christian artists instead.

Friday, December 12, 2014

Movie Review:Casino Royale

Premise:A new special agent works to bring down a villain through a poker tournament.

Cast:Daniel Craig as James Bond, Eva Green as Vesper Lynd, Mads Mikkelsen as Le Chiffre, Giancarlo Gianni as Mathis, Simon Abkarian as Alex Dimitrios, Judi Dench as M, full cast can be found here.

Director:Chris Cornell

MPAA Rating:PG-13 for intense sequences of violent action, a scene of torture, sexual content and nudity


Notes:Poster taken from IMP Awards.

Pros:Vesper. A more realistic villain.

Cons:Several sequences feel longer than necessary. Little depth to most characters. Takes too long to actually get to the plot.

You ever think what Bond's first few years in the business must have been like?

Thursday, December 11, 2014

Movie Review:National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation

Premise:An eccentric man tries to make Christmas special for his whole family.

Cast:Chevy Chase as Clark Griswold, Beverly D'Angelo as Ellen Griswold, Randy Quaid as Cousin Eddie, Johnny Galecki as Rusty Griswold, Juliette Lewis as Audrey Griswold, John Randolph as Grandpa Clark, Diane Ladd as Grandma Nora, E.G. Marshall as Grandpa Art, Doris Roberts as Grandma Frances, Nicholas Guest as Todd Chester, Julia Louis-Dreyfus as Margo Chester, Miriam Flynn as Catherine, Ellen Hamilton Latzen as Ruby Sue, Cody Burger as Rocky, William Hickey as Uncle Lewis, Mae Questal as Aunt Bethany, Brian Doyle-Murray as Frank Shirley

Director:Jeremiah S. Chechik

MPAA Rating:PG-13

Genres:Holiday, comedy

Notes:Poster taken from IMP Awards.

Pros:Silly protagonists hi-jinks. It's funny.

Cons:One subplot.

Spending Christmas with your family can be fun, but it also tends to be stressful. It can get even more stressful when they stay in your house a couple weeks. Maybe just a tiny...My goodness, how do you stand it? I don't care how much you love your family. Cramming them all in the same house for weeks before a major "family" holiday? No thanks.

Wednesday, December 10, 2014

Album Review:The Legend Of Johnny Cash

Artist:Johnny Cash (duh)

Songwriters:Johnny Cash, Jack H. Clement, June Carter Cash, Merle Kilgore, Jerry Lieber, Billy Edd Wheeler, Sheldon Silverstein, Kris Kristofferson, Wayne Kemp, Jimmy Webb, Bono, Larry Mullen, The Edge, Adam Clayton, Chris Cornell, Geoff Mack, Trent Reznor


Notes:Album art taken from Wikipedia.

General thoughts:If you've listened to country music for very long, then you've most likely heard at least one Johnny Cash song.

This overall is what I think of when you say "country." It has a little bit of everything when it comes to Cash's style. Some of it's silly, some is sad, some is about relationships.

Overall, if you find it for cheap and you're only recently getting into Johnny Cash, it might be worth getting.

Gift Giving

Edited from this
You know the drill. During the holidays and birthdays, we open surprise gifts from each other.

Don't get me wrong. I like getting gifts, but I see some issues with the way we've set things up. To start, it encourages people (especially kids) to be spoiled, greedy brats. I personally have been one, and don't sit there smirking like you haven't.

Tuesday, December 09, 2014

Movie Review:Christmas With The Kranks

Premise:A middle aged couple decides to skip Christmas and go on a cruise, much to the shock of the neighborhood.

Cast:Tim Allen as Luthor Krank, Jamie Lee Curtis as Nora Krank, Julie Gonzalo as Blair Krank, Dan Aykroyd as Vic Frohmeyer, Erik Per Sullivan as Spike Frohmeyer, M. Emmett Walsh as Walt Scheel, Elizabeth Franz as Bev Scheel, Cheech Marin as Officer Salino, Jake Busey as Officer Treen, Austin Pendleton as Marty, René Lavan as Enrique Decardenal

Director:Joe Roth

MPAA Rating:PG for brief language and suggestive content.

Genres:Holiday, comedy

Notes:Based on the book Skipping Christmas by John Grisham. Poster taken from IMP Awards.

Pros:One or two characters.

Cons:Obnoxious characters. Not many laughs.

With their daughter leaving for the holidays, the Kranks have started to wonder, why celebrate Christmas? It's so expensive that a cruise would be cheaper. Now if only the neighbors would see it that way.

Monday, December 08, 2014

My Favorite Christmas Songs

Image credit:Clipart

Well, no Thoughts, Theories, or Trivia this week. So here in no particular order are a few of my favorite Christmas carols.
  • What Child Is This?/Greensleeves:Yes. So much yes.
  • God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen
  • Have Yourself A Merry Little Christmas
  • O Holy Night
  • Carol Of The Bells:I really should get an non-instrumental version of this.
  • Sleigh Ride
  • O Come, O Come Emmanuel:It's slow and kind of spooky-sounding.
  • Silent Night

Movie Review:Men In Black

Premise:A secret organization (primarily a veteran agent and his rookie partner) have to save the world from an alien cockroach.

Cast:Will Smith as Agent J, Tommy Lee Jones as Agent K, Vincent D'Onofrio as Edgar/the Bug, Linda Fiorentino as Laurel Weaver, Rip Torn as Zed, Tony Shaloub as Jeebs, Siobhan Fallon as Beatrice

Director:Barry Sonnenfeld

MPAA Rating:PG-13 for language and sci-fi violence

Genres:Sci-fi, action, comedy

Notes:Based off a Marvel comic. Poster taken from IMP Awards.

Pros:The leads. Funny dialogue. Good action.

Cons:Spots of bad acting. Excessive use of slime.

Are we alone in the universe? According to the Men in Black, we are. Or so they want the public to think. They know that we deal with aliens on a regular basis and don't even realize it. And considering that the planet might be blown to pieces, maybe it's better that way.

Saturday, December 06, 2014

Album Review:Shatter Me

Artist:Lindsey Stirling

Songwriters:Lindsey Stirling, SILAS, Marko G., Dia Frampton, Kill Paris, Sterling Fox, Scott Gold, Robert DeLong, Sam Hollander, Steve Shebby, Reuben Keeney, Raffi

Genres:Classical, dub-step

Notes:Album art is from the official site.

General thoughts:In the last few years, Lindsey Stirling has made quite a mark with her unique style. She's experimenting with her music here, some of which I kind of liked (the Lzzy Hale collaboration for one), other bits less so (thanks to screeching or skipping sounds). For the most part, it's about what you'd expect.

The deluxe edition isn't memorable. If you happen to come across it before you buy the regular album, then go ahead and get it, but otherwise, there's not a lot of reason to. Be aware that you'll have to get it at Target to get the whole thing.

Overall, if you've liked what you've heard of Lindsey Stirling, get this for sure.

Friday, December 05, 2014

Album Review:A Praise & Worship Christmas

Genres:Holiday, praise & worship

Notes:Album art taken from Amazon.

General thoughts:What's your favorite religious Christmas carol?

A lot of Christian artists that were or are popular contributed to this. You'll find mostly old carols with one or two original songs as well. The pacing varies from song to song.

Overall, it wasn't so bad. If you like Christian music and Christmas songs, you might want to check it out.

Things Christmas Stories Should Stop Doing

I love a good Christmas special as much as anybody. But certain things start to get under my skin after a while.

Treating Santa Claus as the only reason to celebrate
Image credit:Clipart
Yeah, it's a nice story and all, but why in the world do movies act like Santa not visiting would destroy everything? What about Jesus, family, togetherness, and stuff like that? Why is a guy not delivering presents going to result in the end of happiness?

Ripping off It's A Wonderful Life
Inevitably, the world without this character is going to be so awful and clearly needs them still. This story-line is old and overused by now. Give it a rest.

Thursday, December 04, 2014

Movie Review:Marley & Me

Premise:A couple adopts a puppy in the midst of their life.

Cast:Owen Wilson as John Grogan, Jennifer Aniston as Jenny Grogan, Eric Dane as Sebastian, Alan Arkin as Arnie Klein

Director:David Frankel

MPAA Rating:PG for thematic material, some suggestive content, and language

Genres:Comedy, drama

Notes:Based on John Grogan's autobiography. Set in the 90's. Poster taken from IMP Awards.

Pros:Some emotional moments. Good main characters. The marriage.

Cons:Moves too fast. Not that funny. Flat secondary characters.

If you've ever had a puppy, then you know they are a handful. Sometimes, they don't mellow out when they get older. But he can still be kind of fun.

The trailers probably made you think this is just a childish comedy about a misbehaving dog. It sort of is, but it's more a drama about a couple living their life from marriage to kids to middle age. And because of its approach to that, it should have been PG-13. This should not have been marketed to families because it's just not that kind of movie, despite what it may think.

Wednesday, December 03, 2014

Album Review:Peace On Earth

Artist:Casting Crowns

Songwriters and composers:Whoever wrote the carols originally. Also Mark Hall, Wayne Kirkpatrick, Paul Baloche, and Robert MacGimsey.

Genres:Gospel, Christmas/holiday

Notes:Album art taken from the official site.

General thoughts:Is it surprising most of the songs here relate directly to Christ?

There are several songs that really weren't that great. While the lyrics are often good, the music itself leaves something to be desired. Of the songs I did like, there was an emotional and often haunting quality.

Overall, get it if you're a Casting Crowns fan. Otherwise, skip it.

IWSG:Sickness Sucks

Because Wednesdays are my busiest day and because I'm lazy, I probably won't get around to visiting a lot of other blogs until tomorrow.

I've learned something in the last couple of months. Being sick is really bad for my writing projects. Not too long ago, I had a cold. Then more recently, there were a few headache days. And let's not forget the misery of cramps. And all of it screws stuff up. It's hard to write down good dialogue when it hurts too much to do anything.

On a more general note, I've been dealing with some burnout lately. Maybe I'm just tired. Maybe my brain's going on strike. And with Christmas coming, well, things are going to get interesting. I'll probably take a couple weeks off, though. And why is it all these IWSG posts of mine end up rambling and unfocused? What's going on with my head?

So how's your December going so far?

© 2014 by M.R.R.

Tuesday, December 02, 2014

Album Review:The Altar And The Door

Artist:Casting Crowns

Songwriters and composers:Mark Hall


Notes:Album art taken from the official site.

General thoughts:I want to finish this because their next album was the Christmas one.

The first three-quarters of the album is the best of the whole thing and the most serious. There are surprisingly few straight-up praise and worship songs and the ones here are average quality, nothing more.

Overall, if you like angsty gospel or the band, give it a listen.

Monday, December 01, 2014

Thoughts, Theories, & Trivia:Gremlins

Image credit:poppet with a camera's Flickr

The review's here if you want to read it.

  • Why do I get the feeling this incident isn't Gizmo's first experience with the Gremlins?

Movie Review:Gremlins

Premise:A bunch of mischievous creatures wreak havoc in a town.

Cast:Zach Galligan as Billy Peltzer, Phobe Cates as Kate Beringer, Hoyt Axton as Randall Peltzer, Keye Luke as Mr. Wing, Polly Holliday as Ruby Deagle, Dick Miller as Murray Futterman, Frances Lee McCain as Lynn Peltzer

Director:Steven Spielberg

MPAA Rating:PG

Genres:Fantasy, horror

Notes:Poster taken from IMP Awards.

Pros:Adorable creature. Chaos factor. Fair special effects.

Cons:Plot holes and conveniences. Some cartoon-y characters and situations. A couple of bloated scenes.

If there ever was a better PSA against owning exotic pets, I'd love to see it.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

Album Review:Alien Youth


Songwriters:John Cooper, Korey Cooper

Genres:Rock, Christian rock

Notes:Album art taken from Amazon.

General thoughts:I got into a few of Skillet's later albums. So how good is their older stuff?

The aggressive shouting often failed for me. It didn't rile me up or get me pumped or really make me feel anything. What's worse is that there were lyrics that should have emotional, but the delivery killed it. The less aggressive songs I wish I could say were all better, but only a couple of them really are.

Overall, there are a few worthwhile songs, but the album as a whole was disappointing.

Monday, November 24, 2014

If I Took Over The World...

It's mine, all mine.

If I succeeded at world, then I would probably...

  • ...silence all those dogs in my neighborhood that won't shut up.
  • ...hire someone to give me superpowers like telepathy.

Album Review:Lifesong

Image credit:Official site
Artist:Casting Crowns

Songwriters:Mark Hall, Bernie Herms, Nichole Nordeman, Chad Cates, David Hunt, Bobby Huff

Genres:Worship, Christian rock

General thoughts:A little more spiritual music over here.

I liked only about half the songs here. The other half were either terrible or just average and generic. The good tracks tended to be sad or about pain. How typical of me.

Overall, I'd say give it one listen because there are some good songs here.

Friday, November 21, 2014

TV Review:Stalker

Premise:A task force investigates crimes dealing with stalkers.

Cast:Maggie Q as Beth Davis, Dylan McDermott as Jack Larsen, Victor Rasuk as Ben Caldwell, Mariana Klaveno as Janice Lawrence, Elisabeth Röhm as Amanda Taylor, Erik Stocklin as Perry Whitely

Genres:Crime, drama, thriller

Notes:Poster taken from IMDB.

Pros:Strong main characters. Intense situations. Interesting story arcs.

Cons:Background characters are pretty undeveloped. Some crime show clichés. Unnecessary twists.

By now, there have been several crime shows that have dealt with a specific offense rather than any that comes along (Bones has murder, Law & Order:SVU has rape). Why not a show about stalkers? For the main characters you've got Beth Davis, who has a mysterious past. Then there's Jack Larsen, himself stalking his ex and their son. And said ex just so happens to work in the same place.

Random Holiday Thoughts

It's late November, so I've got a couple of approaching holidays on my mind.

  • If I help cook Thanksgiving dinner, it means I won't have to make awkward small talk with guests.
  • I need to do more Christmas shopping.
  • The house could stand some cleaning before we decorate anything or let people come over.
  • I finally started on that holiday card project I wanted to do. It felt good to break out the craft stuff again.
  • Turns out we can go shopping this Black Friday. Cool.

So what are you thinking about the holidays?

© 2014 by M.R.R.

Thursday, November 20, 2014

Album Review:Apparitions Of Melody

Image credit:Amazon
Artist:Kids in the Way

Songwriters:Austin Cobb, Eric Carter, David Pelsue, Nathan Ehman, Roland Orzabal, Curt Smith

Genres:Rock, Christian rock

General thoughts:This is another Goodwill find after hearing one song of theirs that I liked. And another old Christian rock album.

The singer's voice is made for shouting and screaming lyrics, which can make it a little strange when things slow down and turn to pleading for help. But once you get used to it, it isn't so bad.

Overall, it's not bad. If you find it for cheap, I'd recommend getting it.

Wednesday, November 19, 2014

Album Review:Innocence & Instinct

Image credit:Official site

Songwriters:Bernie Herms, Rob Graves, Jason McArthur, Jasen Rauch, Anthony Armstrong, Todd Nielsen, Mike Seminari, Ben Bumley, Nick Rhodes, Warren Cuccurullo, John Taylor, Simon Lebon

Genres:Rock, metal

General thoughts:After a good-but-not-great beginning, RED brings a little more to the table. What have we here? More angst (both general and self-loathing) that tends to be encompassed in hard rock, more relationships (the great and the unhealthy) which are both the rock-y and the more mellow, a little screaming here and there (some good, other bits not that much), plus some vague references to God.

Whether you decide to get the deluxe version or not, I would still say it's a good album.

Introvert Rage

About three quarters of the population is extroverted. Three quarters, people. And where does that leave us introverts? In my case, frustrated with my friends and family.

When it comes to socializing, I prefer to go out for an activity (like Bible study or self-defense class) and slowly get to know the other people there. I can focus on the task at hand, and we can occasionally talk and learn things about each other. That works for me. Overall, I am not the kind of person who can dive right into any social kind of situation.
Image credit:Anders Sandberg's Flickr
I've got to slowly wade my way through the shallow end until I get used to it. And apparently, there's something wrong with that.

Tuesday, November 18, 2014

TV Review:The Walking Dead, Season 1

Photo credit:Amazon
General thoughts:Ah, season 1. When the whole zombie apocalypse thing was brand new. When the Shane/Lori/Rick love triangle grew its roots. When several later annoying characters were tolerable. When others I just didn't like much.

Like much of the rest of the show, it bounces between being hopeful about the future and being pessimistic with all the death and the loss of the world we had before. And you will find characters you just wish would shut up.

It's surprisingly short as far as TV seasons go (only 6 episodes), so unless you watch it only once in a great while, you'll get through it pretty fast. If you're buying it, you may want to get it in a bundle pack with another season.

Overall, if you don't get into the show while watching this season, then don't bother with the rest because the tone doesn't change.

Monday, November 17, 2014

A Look At Loki

I don't have a Thoughts, Theories, & Trivia post for this week. So instead, I'll show you this thing I wrote about Marvel's movie Loki.

Image credit:Rotten Tomatoes

The time I felt most sorry for him was during Thor. Seriously, watch him during his argument with Odin and tell me you don't want to cheer him up. And from what we're told, his father favored Thor over him (though exactly how much is uncertain. It's possible Loki is exaggerating how much favor Odin showed Thor. During their "discussion" in Avengers, Loki says he remembers Thor throwing him into an abyss. That was not the case.) But also note he let the frost giants into Asgard before he found out he was adopted. That indicates he was already on his way down the dark path. And near the end, was he trying to commit suicide, or did he know he would survive?

Movie Review:Fantastic Four

Premise:A scientist, his best friend, his ex and her brother have adjustments to go through when their space expedition gives them superpowers.

Cast:Ioan Gruffudd as Reed Richards, Michael Chiklis as Ben Grimm, Jessica Alba as Susan Storm, Chris Evans as Johnny Storm, Julian McMahon as Victor von Doom, Kerry Washington as Alicia Masters, Hamish Linklater as Leonard, Laurie Holden as Debbie

Director:Tim Story

MPAA Rating:PG-13 for sequences of intense action, and some suggestive content

Genres:Sci-fi/fantasy, action

Notes:Poster taken from IMP Awards and belongs to 20th Century Fox.

Pros:Banter between friends. A few funny moments.

Cons:Flat characters. Underwhelming villain. Mediocre acting. The romantic subplot. Nonsensical "science".

You know the drill. Science experiment gone wrong results in people getting powers. Conflict arises when they can't figure things out.

If that sounds uninteresting, it's because so is the movie. First off, the characters have little depth. They get one or two defining traits and it's left at that. You have given me no reason to truly care about these people. The acting doesn't help much either.

Friday, November 14, 2014

Album Review:Devotion

Image credit:Official site

Songwriters:Anberlin, Aaron Sprinkle, JT Daly

Genres:Rock, alternative

General thoughts:This is a bundle pack. Buy it and you get a special edition of an earlier album, plus a live album.

I found out later that there's a deluxe edition that comes with remixes from Vital and a live DVD. Had I known before, I might have gotten that. Just the live album by itself isn't great. But then, I'm not big on live albums in general. It adds a few bonus tracks to Vital, and I would say they're worth it. If nothing else, buy it for them.

Overall, it's a lot of music for a decent price. If you've been eyeing this band for a while, get this.

Thursday, November 13, 2014

Album Review:Nu Thang

Image credit:Wikipedia
Artist:dc Talk

Songwriters:Toby McKeehan, Mark Heimermann, Jeff Silvey, Joe Hogue, Jackie Gore, Joel Dobbins, Michael Tait

Genres:Rap/hip hop, gospel

General thoughts:For a band that came out with some great music in its lifetime, dc Talk sure had some pretty bad stuff to start with.

Often, to me, it came off as trying too hard to be cool. That often equals sounding pretty dorky (be it when it was released or in 25 years). It got a little cringeworthy.

On the vocals, I'm not into the rapping much. But I do like Kevin Max's voice. And soundwise, it still sounds like something you'd hear at an 80's themed party (thought it came out in 1990).

Overall, it's a lot like their first album. It's okay, but not anything more than that.

Wednesday, November 12, 2014

TV Review:NCIS

Premise:A team of cops and forensic experts solve crimes involving navy personnel.

Cast:Mark Harmon as Jethro Gibbs, Michael Weatherly as Anthony "Tony" DiNozzo, Pauley Perrette as Abby Sciuto, David McCallum as Dr. Donald "Ducky" Mallard, Sean Murray as Timothy McGee, Cote de Pablo as Ziva David, Sasha Alexander as Caitlin "Kate" Todd

Genres:Crime, drama

Notes:Image is from IMDB.

Pros:Interesting characters. Good dialogue.

Cons:Heroes do illegal stuff. Sometimes annoying characters.

So what do you expect from a TV about crimes involving navel officers? If you said feisty characters, patriotism, and scandalous/suspicious situations, you'd be right.

If I Had A Dollar...

Image credit:Clipart
If I had a dollar for every time one of these things happened, I'd get rich before long.

  • ...someone made an ironic joke about how loud I am (not).
  • next door neighbors' dog barked.
  • ...I went a day without using Facebook.
  • ...I got irritated at my younger brother.

Tuesday, November 11, 2014

Book Review:Mockingjay

Premise:Hunger Games victor Katniss Everdeen is pushed to her limit during the revolution where she is used for rebel propaganda.

Author:Suzanne Collins

Genres:Sci-fi, war, action

Notes:The final book in the Hunger Games trilogy. Cover taken from the official website and belongs to Scholastic.

Pros:Addresses the characters' post-traumatic stress. Some of the characters like Finnick. The ending.

Cons:The rebellion is hard to sympathize with. The love triangle.

She won the first Hunger Games, and managed to keep her lover alive during it. She escaped the Capitol when they forced her to return to the arena. She is a symbol of hope for everyone sick of this tyranny. But that doesn't mean she's fine.

When a person has been through two events that forced her to kill or die, she's going to be a little messed up. And that's not even getting into everything that happened on the victory tour. Katniss is definitely feeling guilty about all the death and suffering that she directly or indirectly caused. And she's tired of the cruelty of those around her, of being lied to and manipulated by everyone. So there is lots of angst, but it's the kind of angst that needs to be there. So to everyone giving Katniss crap for that, cut her some slack.

Monday, November 10, 2014

Thoughts, Theories, & Trivia:Charlie & The Chocolate Factory

This is for the book and both of its movie adaptions.

Class undismissed.

  • There's another reason Wonka needed a large candy bar to transmit to television. If he makes a commercial for his chocolate that lets you actually take a candy bar, he'll need to make a lot of it to reach audiences.

Class redimissed!
-Changed his mind.

  • Wonka intended the Golden Tickets for children. What would he have done if an adult had gotten one?

Friday, November 07, 2014

Album Review:Vital

Image credit:Official site

Songwriters:Anberlin, Aaron Sprinkle

Genres:Rock, alternative

General thoughts:I forget, when is the final tour again?

From what I'm told, this is one of Anberlin's most aggressive albums. But even with that in mind, there are a number of more mellow songs here. A lot of them will get stuck in your head. Lyrically, there's a bit of angst, love, and regret.

This entire album, plus some bonus songs, are featured on the release Devotion. I'd suggest just buying that.

Stuff I Can't Live Without

Sorry this took so long.
Image credit:Clipart
Fiction, non-fiction, personal, doesn't matter. If you forbade me from writing, I'd lose it. This is how I express my crazy emotions.

Alone time
Out of all the things here, this one may be the most vital. Even if I have everything else, if I can't get any time to myself, there will be consequences.

Thursday, November 06, 2014

Album Review:Learning To Breathe

Image credit:Christian Music

Songwriters:Jonathan and Tim Foreman

Genres:Alternative, rock

General thoughts:And so, Switchfoot returns with commentary on pain, love, and God.

While we've got some pretty cool songs, there are a lot of mediocre tracks here too. Their last two albums had some songs I would refer to as beautiful, but I can't think of anything here I would describe using that word.

Overall, it isn't their best, but it's still worthwhile if you like the band.

Wednesday, November 05, 2014


Because Wednesdays are my busiest day and because I'm lazy, I probably won't get around to visiting a lot of other blogs until tomorrow.

Deadlines just keep creeping up on me.

It happened with this very post. It happened with my Bible study lesson. Happened with another post I'm planning for next week. With my Christmas shopping. It will probably keep on happening. And when I think of getting right on it, I get distracted and forget. I've been cursed with my mother's memory. What is my issue? Procrastination? Forgetfulness? Laziness? All of the above?

I just need to get to work already. Focus. Get busy. Push myself to do stuff.

So how's your week going?

© 2014 by M.R.R.

Tuesday, November 04, 2014

Album Review:Mmhmm

Artist:Relient K

Songwriters:Matthew Thiessen

Genres:Christian rock, punk, pop

Notes:Album art taken from Amazon.

General thoughts:Having put out several albums already, Relient K starts to move away from the more teenage and college-age songs and moves into more serious and mature territory.

Many songs are about fixing or avoiding mistakes and how they've affected relationships (platonic and romantic). Soundwise, most of it is upbeat or hard-hitting, with only a couple of more mellow songs on the album. Though interestingly, some of the harsher tracks end more quietly. It makes it hard not to feel at least a little something when you're listening.

Overall, it's pretty good and worth picking up for fans of Christian rock and the band.

Monday, November 03, 2014

Thoughts, Theories, & Trivia:Despicable Me

Image credit:Martin Lewison's Flickr

The review's here. Also note I haven't seen the sequel.

Curse you, tiny toilet!
-This is something my brother would say.

  • I have doubts that the girls are biological siblings. They probably would have bonded early on and become inseparable.

Movie Review:Despicable Me

Premise:Trying to be the world's most cunning criminal, a would-be villain adopts three little girls to help him in his plot.

Cast:Steve Carell as Gru, Miranda Cosgrove as Margo, Dana Gaier as Edith, Elsie Fisher as Agnes, Russell Brand as Dr. Nefario, Jason Segel as Vector, Will Arnett as Mr. Perkins, Kristen Wiig as Miss Hattie, Julie Andrew's as Gru's mom

Directors:Chris Renaud and Pierre Coffin

MPAA Rating:PG for rude humor and mild action

Genres:Comedy, animation, fantasy

Notes:Poster taken from IMP Awards and belongs to Universal.

Pros:It's funny. The main character.

Cons:Over-the-top antagonist. Bad secondary characters. Thin plot. Its portrayal of how adoption works.

Now what's a would-be-supervillain to do when someone pulls off the crime of the century and makes every other villain look pathetic? You top him of course. But expect a few complications along the way.

Friday, October 31, 2014

Game Review For The Walking Dead:The Game - Season 1

Premise:A convicted killer and a little girl stick with a group of survivors during the zombie apocalypse.

Dave Fennoy as Lee Everett, Melissa Hutchison as Clementine, Gavin Hammon as Kenny, Cissy Jones as Katjaa, Jolene, and Brie, Max Kaufman as Duck, Nikki Rapp as Lily Caul, Terence McGovern as Larry Caul, Nick Herman as Glenn Rhee, Nicole Vigil as Carley, Sam Joan as Doug, Mark Middleton as Mark, Chuck Kourouklis as Hershel Greene, Peter Edward Mussard as Shawn Greene, Brian Sommer as Danny St. John, Adam Harrington as Andy St. John, Jeanie Kesley as Brenda St. John, Roger Jackson as Charles, Owen Thomas as Omid, Mara Junot as Christa and Anna Correa, Erin Yvette as Molly, Mark Barbolak as the cop

Available On:
Xbox 360, Playstation 3, PC, Xbox One

ESRB Rating:
M for blood and gore, intense violence, sexual themes, and strong language

Action adventure, horror, point-and-click

Cover art taken from IMDB.

Decent main character and story. Mildly entertaining. Lets you rewind if you get stuck.

Terrible graphics. The controls. Panic sequences. The choices are often pointless. The voice acting on Clementine.

As a man convicted for killing his wife's boyfriend is driven down to his new home, something appears in the road. Something human and yet inhuman. Something that should be 100% dead, but is up and walking around. The zombie apocalypse has begun.

Thursday, October 30, 2014

Album Review:House Of Heroes

Artist:House of Heroes
Image credit:Amazon

Songwriters:A.J. Babcock, Tim Skipper, Colin Rigsby

Genres:Rock, alternative

General thoughts:Most of the rock bands I listen to, unsurprisingly, are pretty emotional. Bonus points if they're also male-fronted and Christian. But compared to most bands I've heard over the years such as Switchfoot or Relient K, this is kind of dark. In fact, I'd be quicker to compare it to something like Evanescence.

Subject matter includes the fact that the world around us is messed up and cares more about things that don't end up mattering that much. There's also watching people you love suffer. A few underwhelming lyrics pop up now and again, but nothing that ruins the whole thing.

Overall, I liked it and would recommend to those who don't mind some dark lyrics mixed in with their Christian rock.

Wednesday, October 29, 2014

Soundtrack Review:The Dark Knight Rises

Image credit:Amazon
Composers:Hans Zimmer, Andrew Zack, Lorne Balfe, Mel Wesson, Tom Holkenborg

General thoughts:If Batman and his movies are dark and brooding, then you'd expect the background music to be that way. And you would be right.

A few tracks sound creepy in a not-immediate danger kind of way, more you know something bad is going to happen soon. Others skip that and go straight for "bad stuff is happening right now."

It sounds very similar to the scores to the other movies, so if you've already bought the soundtrack for Batman Begins or The Dark Knight, just skip this.

Overall, I recommend it to anybody who loves Batman.

Ridiculous and Pointless Stuff (I Do Anyway)

These things are nonsensical and unproductive. I know they are. Yet for some reason, I continue to do them.

  • Fixing my hair before my self-defense class:Even thought a) no one cares and b) it's going to be a disaster by the end anyway.
  • Changing blog and post addresses:It's going to break any links that were there, so why do it? Really, why?
  • Watching shows and movies I don't like:Now that I review them here, I at least have an excuse. But still. Why did I watch all ten seasons of Smallville when I didn't even enjoy it that much?
  • Staying up ridiculously late when I need to get up early the next day:Getting up to do something is in of itself stressful enough. Lack of sleep will not help anything.
  • Reading articles that spoil shows and movies I plan to watch:Seriously, why?
  • Waiting until the last minute to get ready:My mind tells me "Don't worry, you've still got time." And then I run a serious risk of being late.

© 2014 by M.R.R.

Monday, October 27, 2014

Thoughts, Theories, & Trivia:Dracula

This is intended for the original book. Any applications to adaptions just kind of happened.

  • I've heard a few people comment on Dracula's homoerotic treatment of Jonathan. Hmm, that interpretation actually makes some sense. After all, vampires are meant to represent forbidden sexuality (in this story alone, they deal with rape, adultery, and polygamy). But I think in the end, it's better this wasn't blatantly explored because, as mentioned, there are already a lot of different sexual issues brought up.

Book Review:Dracula

Image credit:Wikipedia
Premise:Two couples are put in danger when they're targeted by a bloodthirsty monster.

Bram Stoker


Cover is 1st edition and is public domain.

No cheesy human/vampire romance. Plenty of suspense. A few good characters. Creepy villain.

Nonsensical moves. Can be hard to understand. Drags in places. Anti-climatic ending

Ever got a feeling about someone you've met? Like they seem friendly enough, but they have a dark secret? Then you have a basic idea about how Jonathan Harker feels about his host.

And that feeling of creepiness is continued through diaries of unaware victims. You know that terrible things are going on, and that these people are in danger, even if they don't. And another thing that I love about this book is the fact that there isn't any cheesy romance that seems to be a staple of modern vampire stories. Oh, there's sex, but it's not very fun.