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Tuesday, February 24, 2015

I'm On Leave

Image source:Pixabay

I'm not feeling so great right now, so I'm going to take a couple days off until I'm doing a little better.

Thank you for your patience and I'll see you soon.

© 2015 by M.R.R.

Monday, February 23, 2015

Album Review:The End Is Where We Begin

Artist:Thousand Foot Krutch

Songwriters and composers:Steve Augustine, Joel Bruyere, Aaron Sprinkle

Genres:Christian rock, alternative, rap rock

Notes:Album art taken from the official site.

General thoughts:With the kind of music I listen to, this guys were bound to come up sooner or later.

Lyrically, there are several mediocre points. Like in "Courtesy Call", they say "Let's get this place shaking like a disco ball". Admittedly, I've never seen a disco ball in use, but still. And then there's "Don't play me like a 3DS" from "I Get Wicked".

Sound- and vocal-wise, there is variety, from the computerized opening and ending tracks to regular singing to rapping of a kind to calm. It offers some good rock songs plus a couple calmer ones.

Overall, in spite of a few flaws, it's worthwhile.

Positive Thoughts

In the last week or so, I've been posting some rather negative stuff and trying to balance it with a few less cynical thoughts.

So here are some of them.

  • I did a little experiment with photo manipulation that turned out pretty well.
  • Even though I'm feeling a little sick, I have an excuse to sleep a lot.
  • And to stay home.
  • We now have a bigger TV.
  • More people will pay me visits with A to Z on the way.
  • I haven't fallen behind on blogging so far.
  • You're reading this right now.

Hope you have a good day.

© 2015 by M.R.R.

Saturday, February 21, 2015

Album Review For American III:Solitary Man

Artist:Johnny Cash

Songwriters and composers:Jeff Lynne, Tom Petty, Neil Diamond, Beasley Smith, Haven Gillespie, David Evans, Paul Hewson, Lawrence Mullen, Adam Clayton, Bert Williams, Alex Rogers, Will Oldham, Nick Cave, Mick Harvey, David Allan Coe, Jack W. Routh, John R. Cash, Dennis Turner, Adam Clayton, David Evans, Paul Hewson, Lawrence Mullen

Genres:Country, folk

Notes:Album art taken from Wikipedia.

General thoughts:I don't know about you, but I prefer my country music old-fashioned.

A large number of songs here are covers. But Johnny Cash proved throughout his career that he was good at making a song his even if it was written for a different artist. And noticeably, many of his later songs and albums had a melancholy sound and message. They also felt more reflective.

Overall, despite some mediocre songs, it's a worthwhile listen for fans of Cash.

Your Irregularly Scheduled Updates

What has happened to my inspiration and motivation? Lately it has felt like it's running low. And it juuusst ran out when I need one last weekly post.

So a few updates.

  • I will not be doing a theme here for A to Z. Tales Of Wonder And Woe's theme will be revealed Monday.
  • Up until May, I'll probably be clearing out a lot of posts that I thought up and need to put someplace.
  • I need to go to bed sooner. Or maybe find time for a nap during the day.

© 2015 by M.R.R.

Friday, February 20, 2015

TV Review:Adventure Time Season 1

Image credit:Amazon
For the show's quality as a whole, look here.

General thoughts:And so our story of heroism, innuendo, and quirkiness begins.

I kind of wish they had included the short that got the series off the ground. And the first episode wasn't the best to start off. But after that, it gets better. Characters are introduced and established well, as are relationships.

And it seems like every episode that included the Ice King was a good one. Maybe I just like his character. On the other hand, the episodes that introduced Marceline weren't that great. She's a great character later on in the show, but for now, she's kind of annoying.

Overall, it's at a good price for a good start.

Reasons I Want To Hide From The World

Some days I want to cut off all human contact and move to a secluded cabin in the middle of nowhere.

If you've felt the same way or are just curious, here's why.

  • The sheer depravity of humanity. Just one look at the latest news and you find evidence of why humanity is not inherently good.
  • Arguing about everything. From stuff as big as religion or politics to insignificant matters like whether cats or dogs are better and everything in between, people just love finding reasons to fight.

Thursday, February 19, 2015

Album Review:Awake


Songwriters and composers:John L. Cooper, Korey Cooper, Gavin Brown, Brian Howes, Dave Bassett

Genres:Christian rock

Notes:Album art taken from the official site.

General thoughts:I'm not the only one who noticed the strange connection of titles (first Comatose, then Awake).

The  three main subjects here are internal conflict, break-ups, and death. It's also more blatantly religious than their last album. Lyrically, it often ends up being lackluster. Most of the break-up songs are either typical or come off as obnoxious. But the ones that may or may not be about death end up being strong, as do the more spiritual tracks. And it's good sound-wise.

Overall, while it's fairly good, it's not their best. Give it a single listen to see if you like it.

Sad And Morbid Things I've Been Thinking About

  • The inevitability of aging and with it, constant physical pain, everything wearing out or failing to work, the people you knew for a long time dying, and a dozen other factors.
  • The world is in a miserable state and I'm doing almost nothing to change it.
  • I don't get involved in changing or stopping bad things. Although I also suspect...
  • That all we're doing just might be futile. Seems like just when one injustice dies, another rises up.

Wednesday, February 18, 2015

Move Review:Guardians Of The Galaxy

Premise:A group of misfit aliens team up and steal a powerful artifact while also trying to keep it away from a villain planning genocide.

Cast:Chris Pratt as Peter Quill/Starlord, Zoe Saldana as Gamora, Bradley Cooper as Rocket, Vin Diesel as Groot, Dave Bautista as Drax, Lee Pace as Ronan the Accuser, Karen Gillan as Nebula, Michael Rooker as Yondu Udonta, John C. Reilly as Rhomann Dey, Glenn Close as Nova Prime, Laura Haddock as Meredith Quill, Josh Brolin as Thanos, Benicio Del Toro as the Collector, Peter Serafinowicz as Denarian Saal, Ophelia Lovibond as Carina

Director:James Gunn

MPAA Rating:PG-13 for intense sequences of sci-fi violence and action, and for some language

Genres:Sci-fi/fantasy, action

Notes:Takes place during Marvel's MCU phase 2. Images taken from IMP Awards and Rotten Tomatoes.

Pros:Rocket and Groot are fun. Some funny or tender moments.

Cons:Doesn't explain things well or smoothly. Derivative. A lot of characters who don't have any depth or importance. Failure to research details. Crappy-looking fight scenes.

Marvel is pretty strong in the movie department right now. While they had some issues with films like Iron Man 3 and Thor:The Dark World, they didn't lose their commercial success. They even have people raving about a movie about obscure and downright bizarre characters.

You know that when I talk about how much hype a movie gets, it usually means I'm about to say "I don't get it". I'm all for Marvel using characters that we haven't seen 5 billion times already, but I have some problems with the execution.

Tuesday, February 17, 2015

Album Review:Run The Earth, Watch The Sky

Artist:Chris Rice

Songwriters and composers:Chris Rice, Ran Jackson, and Ricky Jackson

Genres:Pop, alternative

Notes:Album art taken from Amazon.

General thoughts:I'm counting six albums on the communal computer.

God and a relationship with Him serves as a common subject or backdrop. When it's the main topic, there's an often longing feel to the song. And whether or not God is involved, it's often sentimental.

Overall, it's one of his better releases.

An Ode To Rain

The rain saddens most,
But my spirits lift when I see it,
It may not be pleasant,
But we need it,

It's a beautiful occurrence,
If not a loved event,
Like many things,
There is something wonderful about it,
If you're willing to see it.

But it will come back.
I'll welcome it then.

© 2015 by M.R.R.

Monday, February 16, 2015

Album Review:Mark Schultz

Artist:Mark Schultz

Songwriters:Mark Schultz


Notes:Album art taken from the official site.

General thoughts:Having grown up in a Christian home, I came across a few gospel artists. I have mixed feelings about a lot of them, including Mark Schultz.

The two distinct styles of songs here are upbeat praise or "let's do something with our lives" tracks, or the slower and more sentimental. Parents may find a few relateable (did I spell that right?) tracks here.

Overall, it's not too bad. I'd recommend buying at least a few of the songs here.

Breaking News

Why is when I try to stay informed, I just end up making myself upset?

All I seem to remember is the murders, the assaults, the child molesters, and every other negative thing. Not that the way the news is set up helps.

Saturday, February 14, 2015

TV Review:Adventure Time

Premise:A young human boy and his magical friends have adventures in a weird post-apocalyptic world.

Cast:Jeremy Shada as Finn the human, John DiMaggio as Jake the dog, Hynden Walch as Princess Bubblegum, Tom Kenny as the Ice King, Olivia Olsen as Marceline the Vampire Queen, full cast can be found here.

Genres:Fantasy, animation

Notes:Adventure Time With Finn And Jake is the full title. Poster taken from IMDB.

Pros:It's kind of funny. Fantasy elements. Relationships.

Cons:Characters can be annoying. Some crude humor.

Imagine a world where you spend all day fighting monsters, rescuing innocents (including damsels-in-distress), and generally just being an awesome hero. Welcome to the life of Finn and Jake in Ooo.

The writing team has to include an eight-year old boy, a guy who's on drugs, and a former Disney animator. There's a lot of randomness and weird stuff you'll see just because they could add it.

What I'd Like To See Marvel Do With Spider-Man

If you haven't heard by now, Marvel and Sony are working together to incorporate Spider-Man into the Marvel Cinematic Universe. And like a lot of people, I have a few strong opinions on this subject.

  • Don't rehash his origin again. Lots of people have said this already, but it bears repeating:We've already seen two movies about how Peter Parker became Spider-Man. We don't need a third.
  • Start bringing Oscorp into it. Norman Osborn needs to appear in the MCU sooner or later. But his company's effect on the world needs to be discussed. What have they been doing so far? And will they compete with Stark Industries?
  • Go easy on the romance. Don't let relationship drama take over the story. In fact, you might want to wait a few movies before you even get into a romance.

What do you want to see?

© 2015 by M.R.R.

Friday, February 13, 2015

Album Review:Oh! Gravity


Songwriters:Tim Foreman, Jonathan Foreman, Todd Cooper

Genres:Rock, alternative

Notes:Album art taken from Amazon.

General thoughts:If you've listened to Switchfoot for long, then you know the drill. Introspective rock songs are mixed with a few quieter, emotional tracks.

It's not terrible, but the writing feels weaker than their other albums. It just seems to be continuously repeating the same subject of wanting to live for more, but doesn't present it in a fresh way. Plus, the beat is often not that great.

Overall, it's another "listen once and buy the good stuff" album

Reasons I Can Be Content

Image credit:Alison on Wikipedia

All things considered, my life isn't so bad.

  • My parents love me and can be credited with getting me and several other kids to adulthood without too many issues.
  • I don't worry about where I'm going to get my next meal.

Thursday, February 12, 2015

Album Review:Cold Hard Want

Artist:House Of Heroes

Songwriters:AJ Babcock, Colin Rigsby, Eric Newcomer, Tim Skipper

Genres:Rock, pop

Notes:Album art taken from Amazon.

General thoughts:The last album of theirs I listened to came out in 2005. There are some noticeable differences.

It sounds kind of like various perspectives at different during the slow collapse of a society, out of order. I don't know if that was deliberate or not. Whatever the case, there's a undertone of darkness under the whole thing, even when it sounds upbeat.

Weirdly, several songs sound as though they've stopped, then suddenly it turns out they haven't. This makes for some awkward parts, but nothing too bad.

Overall, it's good. I'd give it a recommendation.

Why I Don't Prefer Romance Stories

Image credit:Daniel Oine's Flickr

Once in a while, I go a story where the big conflict involves a relationship's life or death. But I typically prefer something focused more on action or general drama. Here's why

  • Lower stakes:Whether or not the big couple stay together doesn't concern me the way a conspiracy, psychopath, or disaster might.
  • All the crappy clichés:Admittedly, this is a problem no matter what the genre. But it seems to be especially bad with romance.

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Album Review:Tonight


Songwriters and composers:Toby McKeehan, Christopher Stevens, Cary Barlowe, Jamie Moore, Aaron Rice, Dave Wyatt, Brian Haley, Byron Chambers, Jesse Frasure, Tim Rosenau, Mark Stuart, Ed Cash

Genres:Pop, rock, religious

Notes:Album art taken from the official site.

General thoughts:I think this might be the ultimate TobyMac album. But maybe I'm wrong.

Most of it is pretty fast-paced, with the slower moments few and far between. There's plenty of God-related songs with a few about other relationships here and there. Soundwise, it's a lot of pop rock with a few other genres here and there.

Overall, fans of TobyMac will find plenty to like here.

Things I Need (Or Want) Less Of

Image source:Open Clipart

As a companion to my other list, here are things I don't want or need more of.

  • Stress
  • Excuses
  • Noisy neighbors

Tuesday, February 10, 2015

Fanfiction Review:The SuperStar Apocalypse

Premise:A strange Avengers pairing messes up reality and causes the apocalypse.

Author:Artemis Day

Based On:The Marvel Cinematic universe (Avengers, Thor, and Captain America)

Rated:T (violence and general havoc, sexual references, and some profanity)

Genres:Humor/parody, crack, romance

Notes:You can read it on Fanfiction or Archive Of Our Own.

Pros:Humorously over-the-top. Gives you something to think about crack ships.

Cons:One "thank G*d".

When you get into a work's fandom, sooner or later you learn about crack pairings. You aren't sure why anybody thought of making the two a couple, and it's often plain ridiculous. But rarely do such pairings actually cause the world to end.

Peace & Beauty

It's not great, but it's something.

Things might look bleak,
People may be horrible,
But beauty remains,

In a starry sky,
Through a needed rainstorm,
Within a playful child,
In a ray of sunlight,
And a million more sights,

It's not all gone yet

© 2015 by M.R.R.

Saturday, February 07, 2015

Stuff to do

I've got organizing to do,
Places to go,
Posts to write,
Blogs to visit

And writer's block again. I'm sorry I have nothing better for you this morning.

Just have to make it to May.

© 2015 by M.R.R.

Friday, February 06, 2015

Album Review:Release The Panic


Songwriters:Jasen Rauch, Jason McArthur, Johnny Andrews, Hunter Lamb, Dave Hodges, Mark Holman, Josh Baker, Anthony Armstrong, Randy Armstrong, Joe Rickard, Michael Barne, Rob Graves, Chad Cates

Genres:Hard rock, metal, Christian rock

Notes:Album art is from the official site.

General thoughts:So far, most of RED's music has been pain-filled rock/metal. And while this release does have that, it's not as big a focus. The screaming is confined to only three songs, so if you're into that, you'll be disappointed. Most of the heavier stuff is confined to the first half of the album, which to tell you the truth, is a little annoying to me because it drops off after that. However, the lighter tracks are pretty good on their own.

The deluxe edition features mainly remixes (one for each previous album). Even though a couple of them suck, I still recommend getting it.

Overall, it's not quite the same as RED's old stuff, but that's not necessarily a bad thing.

Annoying Things Fans Do

Image credit:Wikimedia Commons
Oops, wrong kind of fan.

As you might have noticed, I'm a fan of a lot of things. And I've no doubt done a stupid thing or two because of that. But a few people take it to new levels by...

  • ...treating their opinions as superior. If they should happen to come across someone who doesn't think their favorite movie/couple/singer/whatever is the best thing to ever happen, oh boy.
  • ...romanticizing villains. Don't get me wrong, an great villain is one of the big things I look for in a story. And hey, I can even admit that I find one attractive. But I can acknowledge that a villain is good looking and at the same time still realize that if I value my life and safety, I don't want to be within 100 miles of them. But some fans apparently do not understand that. They obsess over this one antagonist, they ignore all the bad stuff he did, or they make excuses like "they forced you to be evil." Sure, because the guy who tried to commit genocide is definitely someone you should date.

Thursday, February 05, 2015

Movie Review:Disney's Cinderella

I'm not going to be popular for this.

Premise:A mistreated girl is given the chance to be a princess.

Cast:Ilene Woods as Cinderella, Eleanor Audley as Lady Tremaine, Lucille Bliss as Anastasia, Rhoda Williams as Drizella, James MacDonald as Jaques, Gus, and Bruno; Verna Felton as the Fairy Godmother, Luis Van Rooten as the king and the Grand Duke, June Foray as Lucifer, full cast here.

Directors:Clyde Geronimi, Wilfred Jackson, Hamilton Luske

MPAA Rating:G

Genres:Fantasy, animation

Notes:Poster taken from IMP Awards.

Pros:A couple of secondary characters.

Cons:The characters. Thin plot.

You know the story:Orphaned girl is forced to become servant to her stepmother and stepsisters, but she'll end up attracting the prince's attention anyway.

Almost everything good that happens to Cinderella here happens because someone else took pity on her. To make matters worse, there are some parts of the plot that become nonsensical or convenient just so she'll come out on top. For example, a task that should take a couple minutes is stretched out to make sure there's a happy ending.

Good Things About Comment Moderation

While some complaints about screening and deleting comments are understandable (like obnoxious users treating it as a way of ignoring anything that makes them look bad), I don't think we need to come down so hard on it. So here is a brief defense of it.

  • It guarantees I'll read every comment. There are several ways to make sure all comments reach my eyes. Checking out what you said before it gets published is one way.

Wednesday, February 04, 2015

Album Review:Underdog

Artist:Audio Adrenaline

Songwriters and composers:Mark Stuart, Bob Herdman, Will McGinniss, Tyler Burkum, Ben Cissell, Charlie Peacock, Horatio Spafford, Philip Bliss, Pete Townshend

Genres:Christian rock

Notes:Album art taken from Christian Music.

General thoughts:By the way, you can get this in a two-pack with Bloom for about $5.

I couldn't pin down a particular, consistent style throughout. You've got headbangers, you've got softer rock, and so forth.

Overall, there are a few good songs, but the album as a whole is uneven.

IWSG:February Edition

Strangely, out of all the things I've been feeling insecure recently, my writing isn't really one of them. Maybe it should be. April and the A to Z challenge are approaching, and if I don't get working on those posts soon, I could be in trouble. And there's other stuff to be written; basically, I'm trying to figure out some kind of routine and just make it to May.

Also, I'll probably think I should visit more people this month, but still end up not doing anything past the first day. And I keep forgetting to link back to the sign-up page until after these posts are already up.

That's all I've got. How's your month looking?

© 2015 by M.R.R.

Tuesday, February 03, 2015

Movie Review:Mr. & Mrs. Smith

Premise:A pair of married assassins who don't know about each other's jobs are instructed to kill each other.

Cast:Brad Pitt as John Smith, Angelia Jolie as Jane Smith, Vince Vaughn as Eddie, Adam Brody as Benjamin Danz

Director:Doug Liman

MPAA Rating:PG-13 for sequences of violence, intense action, sexual content and brief strong language

Genres:Romance, action, comedy

Notes:Unrelated to an apparently terrible Alfred Hitchcock movie. Poster taken from IMP Awards.

Pros:Watching them patch things up.

Cons:Moves slowly. Thin plot.

Sometimes, marriage gets a little rocky. You have some trouble talking, maybe you're not sure how to approach this person anymore. But you typically don't learn that your spouse is a rival assassin.

A Love Letter To Sleep

Let us all give our gratitude to sleep.

I stay away for so long
I don't even know why
Sometimes you don't come to me for hours

Monday, February 02, 2015

Album Review:Nothing Is Sound


Songwriters:Jon Foreman, Tim Foreman

Genres:Rock, alternative

Notes:Album art taken from Amazon.

General thoughts:More contemplation. More pain. More great lyrics. More of what I like to hear from this band.

So far, this is Switchfoot's darkest album. A number of songs are about pain and hopelessness. If you're looking for something to make you feel happy, you won't find much here. But if you want something to blast when you're feeling like crap, this might work. On the few hopeful songs here, they actually turn out pretty good. They acknowledge the pain, but offer something beyond it.

Be warned that this has some obnoxious copy protection. But from what I'm told, the DualDisc version has no such issue.

Overall, I really liked it and would recommend it.