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Pump Up the Volume.

           Initially I thought that  Pump Up the Volume directed by Allan Moyle would probably be just like any other teenaged movie coming out of the 80’s and 90’s. After getting passed the credits I soon realized that this movie had something special to offer its audience. Pump Up the Volume is a thought-provoking movie incorporated with really good acting. I felt like this movie had a great purpose because it left you wondering about an assortment of things but most importantly it left me thinking, what will I do with my voice? Although it came out over ten years ago I believe this story to be timeless.

              Christian Slater plays Mark Hunter, the main character of the film. He does an outstanding job in playing an antisocial high school student by day and a rebellious radio jockey by night. Mark Hunter has recently moved with his mother and father from the east coast to Arizona where he finds himself isolated and unhappy about their new location. At school Mark seems to be a shy, keep to himself kind of a kid who doesn’t seem too eager to make new friends. Although his parents seem to show concern about him, it doesn’t seem like there is enough understanding within their relationship for them to really grasp what’s going on with their son. This seems to be something that many of us go through while growing up in the homes of our parents and like Mark, the other students in his high school soon find out they feel the same way.

                Mark is definitely an intelligent person who excels in his English class but also manages to operate his own pirate radio station by using his shortwave set to surf the airwaves. Every night at 10pm Mark goes live on the air as self proclaimed “Happy Harry Hard-on”. It started off with what seemed like a late night hobby so that he wasn’t bored alone at home but in little to no time he became a legend. He would speak about everything and anything and that somehow got him to speak to EVERYONE. Whether people were listening to the crazy things he said or people were going crazy listening to him, he had hundreds of people hooked. He never had any direction or schedules which probably made his audience hungry for more. Some nights his program would last a couple of minutes and other nights he would yap for hours. His rants would range from how horrible he thought his school and the staff was, to him playing music that reminded him of his buddies from back home and even faking masturbation live on the air. He offended some but most couldn’t stop idolizing him.

         Christian Slater as Harry Hard-on.I would like to take this time out by applauding Slater for making this movie so enjoyable. The plot has a life of its own but I don’t think it would have had such an effect on me if it weren’t for his lively hood on screen. He finds a way to magically come alive and transform into Happy Harry with what I think is his best performance I’ve seen from him.  

           To some it was unfortunate that he was caught at the end of the movie but I believe that that only helped this late night DJ become an even bigger legend. Harry had the main focus to spread the word. Any word, really. He was dedicated to educating the people of his time and letting them know that they had opinions and they should be able to express them without the fear of closed-minded adults shutting them up. The greatest part about all of this was not just the message he wanted to relay but more importantly the positive influence he made on all of the teenagers he actually spoke to. When he spoke, they were really listening. I was really listening too.

            I guess the truth of the matter is, sometimes rebels DO have a cause.

Radiohead: Everything in its right place.

             Trippy. An electric piano. Special effects becoming louder. I imagine focusing on an old apartment and zooming in on certain items. All of these certain things are in their right place, obviously.

             After hearing the song from start to finish I realized I was “one of those”. Dare I say I didn’t get it? I wasn’t connecting with what I was hearing. This was the first time I listened to Radiohead. Yes, it’s true. I am sure plenty of you are reading this asking yourself how I could have lived before listening to this band. And then there are the others, The Radiohead virgins, who are in the same boat as me. After having the assignment to really dissect a song I made it my obligation to “get it”. I wanted to fully be thrown into the world of Radiohead and their loyal fan base. I realized this would be a huge challenge, but I accepted.

              The song that was chosen for me was “Everything in its Right Place” off of Radioheads Kid A album. I took it upon myself to obsess over this one song. I listened to it an uncountable amount of times. I first started by listening alone in my room where I could get my own interpretation of what I thought this song meant and what message Radiohead was signaling. But I needed more. I wanted more.

               I decided to search the bands live performances so that I could see their fans reacting to them. Out of all the videos I went through I found one on YouTube where the song was performed acoustically. The video consists of Thom Yorke, the lead singer, simply playing the piano and singing as fans look on in what seems to be an intimate setting. This was my favorite version. I found myself falling into the trance of what all of these Radiohead fans seemed to be in. When the voice of Thom Yorke comes in I feel a sense of calmness. I liked hearing the rawness of his voice and the entire song for that matter. With the absence of the auto tune or whatever it is they used to enhance the sounds of the actual track on the album, I could finally feel one with the song.

Album cover.                I started to listen to it with appreciation. Now as I played it I immediately wanted to reflect on past expierences. I was getting the feeling like this was a transition message. I felt changing. When I listened I imagined things changing with the lasting impression being that everything was changing for the better. Everything wound up in the right place after all of the changes. It makes sense for this song to be the first track of the album. With the title being “Everything in its right place” I would think that the band felt like what they had put together for their next album was just right. But then what is the conflict within their song?

           “Yesterday I woke up sucking on lemons.” When I think of sucking on lemons I picture an unsatisfied face. Maybe even a confused face.  I heard a reason for the lemon reference was because Yorke had been frequently told he looks like he has a sour-faced look. But he wasn’t just sucking on lemons. He WOKE UP sucking lemons. And he didn’t just wake up sucking lemons. He woke up YESTERDAY sucking lemons. To be sucking on lemons as you awake makes me think that the day started off sour. But that day is not today, that day was yesterday. Yesterday was sour. Maybe Yorke is shedding light on the fact that he is out of a bad place where he once was, which coincides with what some websites have suggested that Yorke was depressed after their “Ok Computer” tour. But now with the intro to Kid A, he is no longer sucking on soury lemons. That was yesterday. Kid A is today.

             But where do the two colors in his mind come into play?  “There are two colors in my head, what is it you tried to say?” Could the colors be voices? Maybe. Could he be psychotic? I doubt it. After reading up about the band it was brought to my attention that lead singer Thom Yorke and guitarist Ed O’Brien had some musical challenges within the band around the writing process for Kid A. Maybe the two voices Thom writes about are his and Ed’s visions. It has been said that both band members felt like ‘Everything in Its Right Place’ was the song that helped them start to feel like their new approach to music was actually getting somewhere. Maybe that is why they wound up naming the song “Everything in its Right Place.” Maybe they sat down one day, collectively as a band, and decided that the new direction of where their music was headed (computer manipulation and enhanced sound effects) was the way they wanted to go.

             Radiohead won Best Alternative Music Album for Kid A at the Grammys that year. I guess it’s safe to say they went the “right” way.

Dexter, Episode 4: Let’s Give The Boy a Hand.

            “Boo!” was Dexter’s last words before ending the episode. A simple yet spooky, boo. I find this episode to be monumental due to the fact that this was the first episode where Dexter does not kill anyone. The killer in him resists finishing off Tony Tucci because “that’s not him”, as he says. We realize that Dexter is not an uncontrollable killer because he is able to walk away from an opportunity to kill someone, which seemed almost impossible when we were first introduced to him.

Who is the Ice Truck Killer?

 We find out that the “no blood” murderer, who is referred to as the “Ice Truck Killer”, has an agenda that involves Dexter and his past. The Ice Truck Killer begins to leave body parts of his victim, who we shortly find out is Lieutenant LaGuertas suspect for a previous killing in the episode before this, in places of Dexter’s past. It seems as though the Ice Truck Killer took his time to look through Dexter’s home photo album where he has pictures from his childhood, many including Harry, his stepdad. I get the feeling that the Ice Truck Killer is a fan of Dexter’s work and that is why he is toying with him. Or maybe he knows of who the real Dexter is and wants to expose him. We haven’t gotten that far just yet. At the end of the episode Dexter is guided to where amputated Tucci is and is left with the option to finish his life. To the audience’s surprise, or maybe just mine, Dexter declines and does the right thing.

           Debs is still being assigned bullshit jobs by Lieutenant LaGuerta most probably because of the fear that she will outsmart her and eventually take her title. Sergeant Doakes is looking over his shoulder the whole episode because Guerrero and his men have been after him since he came to a family event and exploited Guerrero. Throughout the episode I felt bad for Doakes because he is being blamed for his lovers death who just so happens to be another cops sister and the wife of recently killed cop Ricky Simmons. Between watching his back for Guerrero’s men and his fellow cops who feel like he broke their man/cop code, he’s got a lot on his plate. He’s accepted that it’s only a matter of time until he will be found dead but by the end of the episode just before Guerrero gets his hands on him, he is saved by the cops who have used him as bait. This was news to us as well as Doakes.          

Angel Batista

  Another side story that is developing is Detective Angel Batista’s personal life. Angel has been around since episode one but this is the first time we see him outside of the job. He seems like a warm hearted man that is concerned about which piece of jewelry he should give his wife for their ten year anniversary. After asking Dexter and getting a good comment from Debra, he goes with a diamond heart shaped key. When he goes to give it to his wife we are then informed that they have been separated for three months because of “something he did.” He winds up giving the necklace to his little girl before he leaves the house.

           Lastly, Rita and Dexter’s relationship is still going strong and this time around there was some action. Still no sex but a little oral never hurt anyone. I rate this episode a 4. I like where all of the separate stories are going. I’m still curious as to who or what Dexter is? “If someone takes a picture, you smile. It doesn’t matter if you’re happy… you just do it to fit in.” Well said Harry Morgan. I believe he is human but only time will tell why he isn’t like everyone else.

Dexter, Episode 3: Popping Cherry.

              I ended my last blog with the question of whether or not Dexter and Rita get it on. Before even watching episode 3, “Popping Cherry”, I was hoping we could put that question to rest. Get my drift? But to my surprise there was still no sex between our leading man and his innocent girlfriend Rita. The significance of the name of the episode has nothing to do with sex, but instead refers to the first time Dexter kills someone.

                Now with the third episode under my belt I am starting to see where Dexter gets his craving to kill the “bad guys.” At some point in every episode we are taken back to a certain moment in his life where he is given advice from his dad, Harry Morgan, a former cop. The first couple of flashbacks were when his dad was first noticing that Dexter had a liking for killing things. His father seemed concerned for his son but never steered away from staying supportive. It is becoming more and more apparent that Harry Morgan has made a huge impact in Dexter’s lifestyle. His father never seemed to encourage a killing but somehow helped him become the professional killer he is today. His father always stood true to getting rid of the bad guys and something that always stuck with Dexter was the thought of getting rid of the bad guy before he hurts more good guys.

Young Dex and Dad.

               Although Dexter has a crazy mind of his own, his first killing was due to his father’s request. Dexter kills his father’s nurse because his father tells him that she is giving him and the other patients too much morphine. With certainty in his eyes, Harry tells Dexter to get rid of her. His first killing was messy and unorganized which makes you think about how many people he must have killed before he became so precise.

              Now with the plot thickening we have a couple of different stories that branching off. Debs is still trying to figure out how to get her ideas be known without having Lieutenant Maria LaGuerta shut her up. She has been finding leads from the whores she worked with on a previous undercover job. Sergeant James Doakes is intertwined into a mess from sleeping with previous victim Rickey Simmons’ wife, who are both dead now. And then there’s sweet little Rita. In the first episode Dexter says how she is good for him because she her own problems and boy was he right. Although they are total opposites, it seems like their relationship is benefiting the both of them. Rita is trying to move on from her abusive past with the help of Dexter who is slowly finding his own softer side, even though he claims to not have a heart earlier on in the episode.

Will they?

I’m going to rate this episode a solid 4. Fortunately the show is becoming more interesting which I prefer rather than an awesome start and a boring ending. With the third episode coming to the end there are new questions arising but still one question remains… when do they get it on!?

Dexter, Episode 2: Crocodile.

             Once again I chose to watch the next episode of Dexter with just me, myself and I. As I shut off all the lights in my room and got into a comfortable position on my bed I noticed I had hope that this time around I would get hooked onto the show that I’ve heard so many glorious things about. As I had previously mentioned in my first Dexter blog, I was unsure about whether or not I was a fan of Dexter Morgan. While I watched the opening to episode two: Crocodile, I questioned how I could be against such a good looking character. Then I quickly remembered that it is not Dexter I was swooning over, but in fact the actor that plays Dexter Morgan. Michael C. Hall is the present day Dexter who contributes to the very few likeable characteristics of this character.

Hottie.

                Besides of his good looks, another likable factor of Dexter is his intelligence. It is obvious that he knows his line of work very well and is the master of anything blood. Watching him investigate the crime scene where they found Rickey Simmons, a cop, it is clear that he has no doubt in his knowledge when it comes to dead bodies. Just in the first twenty minutes of episode 2  there is much more of a connection to who Dexter is as a person rather than what Dexter does in his line of work as a forensics expert or a killer. His relationship with his sister Debra is not necessarily cold but definitely not the normal brother and sister pair. It comes off as if their odd dynamic is due to the fact that she is a cop and he works for the cops. Since it is only episode 2 I am sure there is much more to this relationship as the season progresses.

                With the help of Debs, as he refers to his sis, Dexter finds the truck of the “no blood” murderer. After looking through the truck they find five frozen fingers evenly cut up, each with a different color painted on the nails. In the beginning of the episode we watch Dexter look intensely at the Barbie parts that were left in his refrigerator. He holds up the hand where we can see the five plastic fingernails all polished a different color. How ironic? Dexter believes he is trying to impress him and he admits its working. Along with Rickey Simmons and his wife being killed in this episode there is Matt Chambers, a drunk driver who has killed many helpless people in many different states. Dexter stalks him throughout the episode and by the end he adds him to his collection of blood slides.

Blood specialist.

 

                Aside from his close relationship with his sister, we see Dexter and Rita getting closer in every way possible except physical. The fact that he has suggested to his sister to double date with her current fling and him and Rita makes me believe he is into her more than he understood from last episode. He shows compassion for her when he admits to himself that he wants to take it slow because whenever he gets involved with someone it takes a turn for the worst. The fact that she has a hard time being sexual with him is secretly helping the relationship move forward because of his lack of interest in intimacy.

                I liked this episode a lot more than the first one and I am ranking it a 4. The characters are becoming more likable and the storyline is picking up. It leaves me wondering, who is his next victim? But more importantly, will Rita and Dexter ever have sex?

Dexter Season 1, Episode: Dexter.

 

The killer who kills killers.

        When I found out I was assigned to watch season one of Dexter I initially was very happy. I have a few close friends that have been a fan of the show and whether they have been watching it since 2006 when it first aired, or have been catching up with the help of Netflix, most if not all of the reviews have been nothing less than great. This set my expectations pretty high as I got ready to watch the coveted Dexter all alone. I decided to watch the series by myself so there would be no distraction and didn’t want to have any influence on how I would react to what I was watching. Although I got to take it all in with no input from anybody else, there were times throughout the episode I wished I wasn’t alone.

            We are first introduced with Dexter Morgan, the star of the show, driving along the streets of Miami where he claims, “Tonight’s the night. And it’s going to happen again… and again.” For the entire introduction the mood on screen was very dark and the audience was shown all different walks of life along the Miami streets. With each character they zoomed into, I wondered if this one was going to be a significant person to the story. But soon after it cuts away from Dexter driving it is clear that there is no secret between the audience and the mind of Dexter. The way the audience is set up to view the show is like being in the mind of Dexter Morgan himself.

            Throughout the entire episode I felt completely indecisive as to whether or not I liked Dexter Morgan. A forensics expert and blood spatter specialist working for the Miami Metro Police Department by day, and a blood hungry killer by night. Dexter helps track down the bad guys but then becomes one by killing them on his own time. It is clear that Dexter feels something within him that makes him ravenous to kill. The moments where we are taken back to the earlier years of his life we get a better understanding as to why his situation has developed to what now seems to be a full blown killing spree. Maybe if we weren’t in on the little secret of him having no care in the world for anyone on earth except for his sister Debra Morgan and possibly Rita Bennett, his “love” interest, I would sympathize with him more.

             When the episode comes to an end we are left wondering how the infamous “no blood” murderer has entered Dexter’s house while leaving behind a Barbie sized victim in his refrigerator. Most people would feel angry and violated but not our leading man. Dexter is left feeling inspired and ready to play this “game.”

            Overall I would rate this episode a solid 3. I was interested in where it was going but I wasn’t completely into it. I felt like a lot of things were predictable.

Woah, Watergate!

Bob Woodward & Carl Bernsteain

          What would you do if you came across information that was purposely being hidden from the public because of scandalous reasons? When it regards government documents and things of that nature, most people have turned their heads away in order to avoid being a “snake” as some would refer to it. And then there are those few people who will face fear in the eye, regardless of the repercussions, and put their names on the line in order for the truth to come out.

         Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein belong with the very few people who stared fear in the eye. These two journalists took the road less traveled by deciding to pursue the investigation of what we now call, the Watergate Scandal. If you are not familiar with this scandal, allow me to fill you in. To put it simple, these two reporters stood their ground and continued to fight to shed light on the secrets of our government which eventually led President Nixon to resign.Woodward and Bernstein displayed loyal journalism by straying away from what was expected from them and could have quite possibly lost their paying jobs because of it.

             In the documentary “Lighting the Fire”, featured from All The Presidents Men, we get a closer look into the severity of this scandal and the boundaries these two journalists had to overcome. With the help of many experienced journalists, the documentary enlightens its viewers to see how reporting can take on a sour tone when it is mixed with the idea that the high exposed news stories are the ones that are most important. Linda Ellerbee, an American journalist who was featured in “Lighting the Fire”, explains that offending the fewest was what everyone hoped for because it was all about “filling the seats.”

           After the Watergate Scandal, many journalism schools were packed with people who were inspired by the story. I myself feel appreciative to have had my eyes opened to this monumental moment in history. It is refreshing to hear that going against the majority and actually standing up for something you believe in has resulted into a rewarding outcome. Kudos to Bob Woodward and Carl Bernstein for being extremely courageous and setting the path for the future of journalism.

Tillman the Legend.

           Now if some of you do not know who Richard Tillman is, I will give you a little background information as to why he was interviewed on Bill Maher’s show. Richard Tillman is the  brother of Pat Tillman, a very well known solider who had died in the war because of “friendly fire.” Although at first glance you might be thinking, why is Pat’s story any different from the rest of the other soldiers that have died in the war? The answer to that is simple. Pat Tillman was allegedly not killed in the war because of a friendly fire and this has caused a huge up roar from the Tillman family and supporters.

            I thought the interview between Maher and Richard Tillman was both very entertaining and informative. I enjoyed how Tillman was not afraid to speak his mind even though he was on national television. I have grown to become a fan of Bill Maher because I respect his priority to educate his audience on things that many people, who have the power to speak to the world, choose not to be as honest. I think the interview was a success not just because Maher asks the questions we all want to know but also because Tillman was more than willingly ready to answer them. Years after Richards brother died he and his family still don’t know what exactly happened that day that Pat was announced dead.

          Before watching this interview I will admit to not knowing anything about the Pat Tillman story. I feel fortunate to have been assigned to watch it because it was something that really stuck with me and had me sending the link to friends. It amazes me that our own government, the people that are meant to protect us, will sometimes betray us. It leaves you thinking, what else are they lying to us about?