Latest Entries »

In the midst of the London riots, the media has continued to surface over the issue for some time now. Social commentators and news anchors have interjected their opionions and assertions about the rise of crime.

Until now, none of these comments have been racially misguided and prejudiced as historian David Starkey’s claim that the “whites have become blacks” and have been subdued to the criminal culture of Jamaicans and so forth.

What’s worse is that I can’t believe such bigotry was allowed on a prominent news source such as BBC. Starkey an “educated” man may have advocated that Blacks are the main cause and reason for the riots but here’s what London comedian Nabil Abdul Rashid had to say.

If there was such a thing as emo R&B then Toronto-based singer Abel Tesfaye would be its pioneer. The artist appropriately goes by the stage name The Weeknd which captures all of the harrowing and crazy nights in his music. Continuing with his tragic trilogy, The Weeknd dropped Thursday this August following the successful embrace of House of Balloons in March 2011.

His first endeavor left a great impression on critics and was described as “a true album, a true labor of love” despite being a mixtape. Thursday follows the same suit of House of Balloons but with more of the atmosphere that’s full of drugs, lust and pain swooning softly with disembodied and echoing vocals.

Despite the raunchy and shallow content, Thursday is shockingly captivating. Songs including “The Zone” are cold and unapologetic for crimes such as infidelity. The lyrics “I’ll give you what you called for/Just let me get in my zone/I’ll be making love to her through you/So let me keep my eyes closed” moan effortlessly over the track. The melancholic “Rolling Stone” flows with constant acoustics that strum along to soft and easing vocals.  Most of the tracks are hard to distinguish from each other at first because of same-sounding elements but are not necessarily repetitive. Through the pleasure and regret, the whole experience of Thursday is like a hypnotic trance that traps you in a wonderful nightmare.

With 180,000+ downloads just the first day, The Weeknd will continue to bring more of those brilliant and fucked up moments. I’m looking forward to how it all ends with Echoes of Silence later in the fall. Visit The Weeknd official website to download The Trilogy here.

Microsoft’s Xbox Live network reached 35 million subscribers worldwide according to a report from Game Informer. Microsoft Xbox Live marketing manager Robin Burrowes stated, “Our audience growth is up to 35 million people globally across those 35 countries on Xbox Live itself.”

Subscriptions are up five million from numbers released last year and Burrowes also announced that revenues came from features which fans enjoys such as purchases of games, DLC, and other digital items rather than subscriptions.

But what I really wanted to know was how Microsoft’s numbers stacked against Sony’s PlayStation Network (PSN). Unfortunately, The article left that piece of information out. But As of April 19, 2011, PSN has 77 million registered online accounts according to the Playstation Network and Qriocity, which is a lot more than Xbox Live’s new claim.

This obviously makes a lot of sense because PSN is free compared to Microsoft’s paid subscription of online entertainment,  but Xbox Live users claim they get what they are paying for and are yet to suffer from a network outage.

A friend of mine put up a status on Facebook asking about good party songs to play. Suddenly, I got the urge to make the ultimate party playlist. Here, I put together a collection of songs that can get any crowd to bop their heads, get goosebumps and more importantly get hype rock. Whether they are hot joints or old classic hits, these are songs you must play at a party if you want to get any action going.

I know there are better sources that pinpoint one’s musical taste such as Pandora but there’s nothing like creating your own playlist from your personal and social experiences.

I called this playlist “The Future is Now”- a bunch of hard-hitting jams influenced by electronica, synthesized sounds and hyper-paced bass. But after all the hype, you want things to get mellow at the end. The playlist features various genres such as rap & hip-hop, alternative, rock and electronica  & dance. Unfortunately, I’m really lacking in some solid dancehall/reggae but I haven’t been keeping up with that genre. Other than that, are there any songs on here that you would play? Or is this collection a complete swing and miss? Let me know if there are other songs that would make a great party playlist.

 

Xbox Live finally dropped the demo for Driver: San Franciso on Marketplace, so I decided to go for a test drive. In DSF, Detective Tanner returns once again to take down his longtime arch-nemesis Jericho, who has escaped  from a high-security prison. It’s as simple as that but I’m sure there’s a lot more to the story once we get the full game.

More importantly, it’s good to see the franchise make it on the next-gen platform after mediocre releases such as Parallel Lines and Driver 3. At first glance, DSF takes us back  to 70’s car-chase scenes that are full of adrenaline, excitement and carnage. Very much like the acclaimed titles on the original PlayStation.

I’m also really impressed with new additions from Developer Ubisoft such as over 120 fully licensed cars- including the Porsche 911 and Mustang Shelby for DSF. This is simply one of the best features to ever happen to the franchise. Quite frankly, tearing downhill on the streets of a beautifully rendered San Francisco in an Audi Le Mans is just  awesome.

Another cool yet odd feature to Driver is Shift and this where Driver for all its realism in car chases starts to get hairy. During the first mission, Tanner begins to explain to his partner after his near-death experience in a car-crash that he has the ghost-like ability to take control of anybody driving other vehicles. Like Jones, we find this crazy talk just as unfathomable. Suddenly we’re taking a reticule on screen that can hover over all of San Francisco then zoom and shift us into a different car.

Now Shift is a really cool dynamic that adds something fresh such as trying to finish a race in both 1st and 2nd place as you transport hundreds of meters between vehicles. However, I can’t get over the fact that Shift pushes out the all the realism that other original Driver titles once had. Developers trying to explain Tanner’s new-found powers will leave hardcore fans of the series a bit confused. Like why can’t we just jack other vehicles like normal people in GTA instead of becoming a ghost that can control cars?

Other than that, the gameplay is promising with realistic physics and smooth graphics and texture you expect to see on the next-gen platform, but it also has its shortcomings- The demo is riddled with environmental glitches as your car tends to smash through walls and get stuck in buildings. In addition,  the cars are somewhat built like tanks and handle roughly but after a few runs, you get used to the cars and better at driving.  Since this is the demo, we can cut Ubisoft some slack and hope to see a more presentable retail version when DSF hits stores Sept. 6.

Ghana’s most notorious hip-lifers are at it again- M3nsa and Wanlov the Kubolor are the FOKN BOIS  and they are the same geniuses who brought you Broken Language but now the mischievous duo are now taking jabs at our Nigerian and lesser counterparts with this just-for-laughs joint “Thank God We are not a Nigerians.” Oh and if you’ve never heard of Nigeria. They are like the Canada of Africa. Just obscure and whack. I’m joking sha! I love my Nigerian peoples.

While countdown nears to an unprecedented national default, Congress members are still dragging out a debate on the debt-ceiling crisis that has not led to any resolve for the past three months.

When the United States hit a statutory debt limit of $14.3 trillion in May, President Barack Obama stated a need to raise the debt ceiling but the GOP wouldn’t jump onboard unless they could hold onto as many spending cuts  and a budget amendment plan.

As of now, the White House and congressional leaders are making a last-ditch attempt to reach compromise to avoid said disastrous government default that’s due for Aug. 2nd

As US Treasury experts put it, a default could lead to financial “Armageddon” if both parties fail to increase the national debt limit. This will also result in a loss of America’s AAA credit rating, rising interest rates, a declining dollar, a stock market plunge and the public could even lose out on their social security checks.  Both political parties know what is at stake but are failing to reach a bipartisan decision due to their personal and financial agendas regarding the 2012 elections.

Democrats are desperate for tax and revenue increases but the GOP are also vying for their spending cuts- a financial tug- of-war that has been going on for too long.

Fortunately, party leaders are working hard to come up with plans to ward off the financial doomsday. Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid (D-NV) and House Speaker John Boehner came up with new plans to increase the debt limit after previous rejections from the House and Senate respectively.

According to CNN, Boehner’s plan, which has since been revised, proposed generating a total of $917 billion in savings while initially raising the debt ceiling by $900 billion. He also pledged to match any debt ceiling hike with dollar-for-dollar spending cuts. Meanwhile, Reid’s revised version favors  reduced deficits over the next decade by $2.4 trillion that raises the debt ceiling by a similar amount. It includes $1 trillion in savings based on the planned U.S. withdrawals from military engagements in Afghanistan and Iraq.

Ultimately, whatever deal or compromise both political factions come up with, I think the most important thing that Congress should do is listen to the American people. According to the CNN/ORC  International poll, 64 percent of respondents to a July survey prefer a deal with a mix of spending cuts and tax increases. It’s probably easier said than done but as President Obama put it “we are running out of time” and Congress needs to come up with a financial plan that is beneficial for the American economy.

 

Cyrax! Sektor! Totally kicking robot ass!

Hardcore fans  finally got their wish when Director Kevin Tancharoen of web-series Mortal Kombat Legacy revealed a shock ninth episode at Comic-Con 2011. It came as a pleasant surprise as to almost everyone thought season 1 ended with fan favorites Sub-Zero and Scorpion. Still, fans relentlessly hinted at seeing the Lin Kuei Cyborgs in action, but that day never came- until now.

Showcasing Cyrax and Sektor in action has been definitely one of the most entertaining episodes yet. Plus, it’s pretty cool how Cyrax and Sektor are modeled almost exactly like their video game counterparts in Mortal Kombat 9.

Apart from maybe apparently getting a bigger budget. I’ve been impressed with Tancharoen’s work and where he has taken the series so far. Hopefully we get to see more of this kick-ass stuff in season two- if there is a season 2. For now, enjoy the flying sparks and metallic-scrapping blows.

Hollywood may be an entirely different planet where the biggest movies come to life and celebrities live as over-glorified human beings. But Hollywood didn’t come to such a powerful status without having influencing society in America in several ways.

The historical evolution of the biggest film industry in the world is too broad to pinpoint but it probably starts from an era where Hollywood came to explosive prominence and solidified its place as an American landmark of tradition during the 1920-40s. During this time, Hollywood became very good at three things–entertainment, influence and profit.

The main objective and goal of Hollywood has always been to entertain and it has done so for decades. Throughout the course of black-and-white silent films of Charlie Chaplin to the 3D-rage that is bludgeoning theaters, we always gain some memorable experience (either good or bad) from watching production films or cinema blockbusters.  Throughout history, Hollywood has also given birth to some of the biggest entertainment studios such as Warner Bros and Paramount Pictures. Hollywood also brought us talented performers from musical geniuses Frank Sinatra to Oscar award-winning actors such as Gregory Peck and Michael Douglas. As a result, Hollywood consistently churned out many other celebrities who have become household names because they have given great performances that have entertained millions. Celebrities such as George Clooney have also created their own wave of influence and that is another reason why society looks up to Hollywood movie stars as role models, highly respected figures or people with crazy drug addictions. Point is, celebrities become a part of our lives in some way. Oprah anyone?

Apart from serving as a channel of entertainment, the Hollywood industry is one of the most powerful and influential enterprises in the world. Its voice is heard around the globe. From recollection of the Roaring 20’s and the Harlem Renaissance, Hollywood brought about trends that has impacted society heavily. Which other institution promoted smoking cigarettes as cool, attractive and “fashionable” and sent the tobacco industry laughing all the way to bank?

Icons such as Marilyn Monroe have even transcended a whole unique sense of fashion that people have copied for years. Because of Hollywood, there will always be parts of society that want to dress up or look like their favorite idols through make-up and work-out tips. In fact, Hollywood will always be an industry that can promote anything deemed stylish as a result of their influence. But fashion trends are not the only things Hollywood is known for but it has always been an industry that has created its own propaganda and political statements that affects governments, industry and communities.

It’s become a prerequisite for Hollywood to have some sort social responsibility. Labeled mostly as liberal-thinking syndicate, Hollywood has projected political messages of anti-war when George Bush opted to move troops to Iraq in 2003 after 9/11. Celebrities such as Alec Baldwin, Sheryl Crow and Martin Sheen made outspoken anti-war statements such as avoiding threats of nuclear warfare and pleaded with the US government to bring troops back. Such statements were also reiterated by every possible news outlet because of Hollywood’s extensive influence. Secondly, Hollywood can asks society to come to a call of action or engage in social responsibility. One simple example comes from the disaster of Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Celebrities and the Red Cross came together in a campaign to help victims of New Orleans and also pleaded with the public to make donations that helped in anyway. In summary, Hollywood marks itself as a great contributor to the American society that always voices its belief in political issues or worldly events.

Finally, despite its role as a leader in trends and a core landmark of influence, the most important thing that has always mattered to Hollywood is making money. Hollywood is objectively a business and a multi-billion dollar industry. The cost that goes into entire production of films is to just generate box office receipts in which you the consumers spend money on tickets that costs more than a Hanes T-shirts these days.

Currently, the American film industry is worth over $754 billion dollars, making Hollywood one of the largest and entertainment media markets to date. Thus its success marks a symbol of great capitalism and a free market which the American society greatly appreciates or can’t do without.

Ultimately, Hollywood’s impact on society is undeniable because of its ability to entertain, influence and continually make profits forever.

 

 

 

NOTE: THIS ARTICLE CONTAINS MINOR SPOILERS! READ AT YOUR OWN RISK!

Despite all the controversies of Satanism and evil that swarmed a young wizard and his school of magical enchantment at Hogwarts, Harry Potter has remained one of the most beloved franchises for 10 years now.

But aside from the fact Harry Potter has generated a massive following from some of the most dedicated (and rather obsessed) fans, JK Rowling’s work has always taken a classic approach to good vs. evil, which also carries a strong Christian message.

Throughout the course of the series, Rowling’s seven books and feature films have been working toward an epic conclusion that share biblical parallels that range from sacrificial love to resurrection. Sound familiar?

This was apparent to a lot of fans from the beginning but one particular scene in Harry Potter and The Deathly Hallows, Part 2 has struck viewers worldwide. But for Rowling, that was always the plan as she revealed certain details about her legacy.

“To me [the religious parallels have] always been obvious,” she said. “But I never wanted to talk too openly about it because I thought it might show people who just wanted the story where we were going,” Rowling said at her Open Book Tour last Monday.

In fact, the movie goes as far as quoting phrases from the Bible that give Harry motivation and the heart to fight his long-term nemesis, Valdemort.

I’m not surprised by this for Harry Potter has always had compelling stories of faith and triumph. The earlier controversies that followed the series never held weight and came from mostly paranoid parents who never read the book.

Though kinesis-based spells and Quidditch may not be truly Christian in nature, I can truly appreciate the fact that Rowling was inspired by certain aspects of the Gospel that she chose to share with millions of people.