Archive for June, 2006

Oh.

Oh wow.

I am seriously one very happy little nerd right now.

And you need to click here and watch to find out why.

I cannot wait to see that.

The summer of 2007 is going to rock so hard. First Spidey 3, and now this.

Credit to Scott Johnson of http://www.myextralife.com for bringing that to my attention. And the Spidey trailer for that matter.

Just…whoah.

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Three.

My actual newest post is below, so be sure you read that but….

Holy crap.

Go watch this trailer. Now.

Random/stupid penguin story

Okay, so there’s this lady I work with, named Christine. I don’t remember if I told the story of how I freaked her out a couple of months back in this blog, but I know I probably told some readers personally. At any rate, all that is to say, this story concerns that same woman.

Christine keeps a large supply of random decorations on the top of her cubicle. The “back part” of our cubical is actually a cabinet-type thing, and a lot of people keep decorations up there. Christine keeps, among many other things, a stuffed penguin up there.

Now me, I have an affection for penguins, which predates this whole “March of the Penguins”/”Madagascar”/whatever popular media forum which has latched on to the penguin love craze. I liked penguins before penguins were cool. I liked them back when they symbolized Linux!

So, from time to time, I take her penguin. I stick him on top of my computer. I walk up to people and try to have serious work related conversations while holding a penguin in my hand. It makes people laugh, and I always put the little guy back before I go home. I’ve never kept him at my desk overnight, and Christine has never cared, because she knows I’ll bring him back.

So another coworker, Gail, was at Walgreens recently and she bought me a little present. She decided to get me my own little animal, because I always swiped Christine’s, she figured I should have my own.

The funny part is this: She thought it was a squirrel. So she bought me this little plastic, albeit very lifelike, squirrel which is about the size of a pair of computer speakers next to each other, and was completely shocked to learn that it in fact was a penguin.

So now I’ve got this little squirrel. I’ll admit it’s a cute little thing. I had no idea what to do with it for a while. So I seperated my Darth Maul and Yoda action figures from their duel to the death and now have set them both in battle against the squirrel.

Yeah, there is absolutely no real point to this entry whatsoever. Well, except for this little tidbit….

I got a phone call played on the latest episode of Extralife Radio. If you want to hear it, go over to myextralife.com and download show #95. I don’t use my real name, I use the screen name I occasionally post on their forums with, so don’t listen for my name, listen for my voice. It’s about at minute 27. You can also subscribe to the podcast in iTunes if you have that.

Demon Hunter show and TV Networks steal more ideas

Okay, I have something I do want to talk about in this post, but first off, the show.

I enjoyed a lot of it, yes, but there was plenty I did not. Demon Hunter and Becoming the Archetype were incredible. Those guys rock so incredibly hard. Becoming the Archtype is extremely talented and you can tell they have a serious love for Christ. Demon Hunter was great. If you guys can’t bear to listen to it, go Google the lyrics to “The Soldier’s Song”. It’s a brilliantly written (and even better played) anthem of support for our troops. Even if you don’t support the war, these guys are fighting overseas, and they deserve us backing them up 100 percent, especially when you consider the fact that they’re often manipulated into horrible circumstances by politicians trying to one up each other (coughMurthacough). They don’t need this kind of crap, they need to know they’re honored and respected for their service.

I have to say that all of you people who were there who were moshing were pretty cool too. Unless of course you were one of the idiots who was throwing punches around. Or you charged through people on the outside of the pit, probably knocking them over or hurting them in the process. That actually happened to me. Some jerk was trying to charge his way through the outskirts of the crowd who weren’t moshing, and I was trying to get out to grab some water for everyone, and he elbowed me in the stomach. To all of you who participated in those two acts, you guys are freaking morons.

As for the other bands…eh. Maybe it’s just because I never listened to them before coming to the show, but they were pretty much forgettable. I earplugged through them and didn’t really miss it a whole lot. Overall though, it was a great experience.

Okay, now onto the other item I wanted to discuss, and that’s NBC’s upcoming fall series Heroes. It would appear NBC wants to capitalize on the popularity of superhero movies, especially the X-Men films, as it is now coming out with a show about ordinary people who suddenly have superpowers. Here’s the official description, which can be read here

And what exactly does “paint the future” mean? When this guy’s power goes off, does his arm just spotaneously start painting? I can’t wait for the episode when the guy gets some vision of a death or something, but he spends the entire episode looking for a paintbrush and canvas so he can tell everyone else. That’s some high-quality DRAMA, people.

So, who are we going with for antagonists here? Will we have supervillians or a sinister government agency? I’m leaning towards the latter, and that all of these people will find themselves the victims of some sort of government super-solider-esque plot. Oh wait, Marvel did that already.

A mom with a powerful alter ego….I’m sorry, but I have to do this: “RAAAAAAAARGH! MOM SMASH!!!”

And this animated graphic novel? Who’s doing this one? Are they contracting out to Dark Horse, DC, Marvel, or any established comic company? Or are they just going to fly solo with it?

Believe me, I don’t want to sound cynical with this, I’ve often imagined a superhero TV series and what it would be like. This, however, isn’t anything new. It’s a thinly-disguised X-Men storyline. Ordinary people suddenly realize they have extraordinary powers in a world that fears them. Frankly, I’m shocked Marvel isn’t suing. Maybe I just haven’t waited long enough.

I’ll give it a shot. We’ll see if it turns into something decent.

Disney gaming and demon hunting

Currently Gaming
Kingdom Hearts for PlayStation 2
By Square Enix U.S.A., Inc

Yeah, I finally got bit by the Kingdom Hearts bug.

I mean, with a guy like Josh Henry as one of my best friends, not to mention my discipler, how could I not eventually play it?

I love Squaresoft (I refuse to call them Square Enix) RPGs myself, but I was having a hard time wanting to get into this one. Not because it’s a “Disney” RPG, I got no problem with that, It’s just more of a radical departure from the Final Fantasy series, which had turn-based combat, as opposed to KH’s more real time system. Frankly it’s still taking a lot of getting used to. But I’m willing to give it a fair shake.

So far it’s been a fun story, and the voices are very authentic. Donald Duck’s voice STILL cracks me up. I wish I could do that.

I’ll probably be playing this a lot this week, as opposed to World of Warcraft, so you get a break from my ususal wow rants/screenshots!

In other news…

I’m going to see a seriously hardcore metal show this Wednesday night at the Door in Dallas with the Butler brothers. Demon Hunter’s headlining. I’ve been told by David I will be bleeding by the time I go home. I’m taking some earplugs to make sure it’s not from my ears. Should be an awesome show, but if I see any Fussball tables in there, I’m running.

(Anybody besides David and Truett who get that joke, first to comment on it gets 1000 bonus points)

And now for the moment you’ve all been waiting for…

BRANDON REVIEWS X-MEN 3!!

SUPERGIANT WARNING: This review WILL include spoilers. If you don’t want it spoiled yet, don’t read it!

The rumor is that X-Men 3: The Last Stand will be the last X-Men movie, and if that’s true, it would certainly explain one of the problems this movie suffers from: Character Blitz. The filmmakers added plenty of new characters into the movie and didn’t really give them any sort of development or useful screentime. Take Angel for example. He appears very briefly in the movie, and never in any capacity as an X-Man. That scene in the promos of him flexing his wings? That’s about it. That and a return at the end to rescue his father for a feel good moment. Woo.

Magneto’s new Brotherhood is the worst case of this. Not only do you have a mass of new characters, but meaningless ones at that! Somebody please tell me why in the world the filmmakers decided to essentially make up or rewrite characters as Brotherhood members when they had so much good villain potential to draw from already? Avalanche, Blob, Black Tom, Omega Red, Sauron, there are any number of easily recognizable villains to use. Who do the filmmakers pick?

Pyro and Juggernaut – Both of these two actually DO belong here, as they’re both classic X-Men villains. I loved Vinnie Jones’ rendition of Juggernaut and his hilarious line about his helmet “Keeps my face lookin’ pretty!”
Quill – You know that guy who makes spikes come out of his body and face? That’s Quill. Quill in the comics is a kid, one of the many students at the Xavier Institute. He’s a background character and little more. Why they would want to pick him for the movie makes little sense
Callisto – Callisto is a name many X-fans will recognize. She’s a sometime-ally, sometime-foe of the X-Men, as leader of the Morlocks, a group of mutants who live underground as they feel they’re too ugly to survive in the “surface world”. Of course, you’d never know any of that from the movie, as they cast a black woman to play her, and gave her the powers of super-speed and mutant detection. Pretty much a complete rewrite.
Multiple Man – The guy who “robbed 7 banks…all at the same time”. I like this character, but in the comics, he’s a hero, not a villain. I can see putting him as one, but he really just had a bit part anyway
Psylocke – Yeah, she’s in there. You remember that girl with the purple hair who’s only real on-screen activity was turning un-invisible? That was supposed to be Psylocke. One of the best of the X-men and they A) Make her a villain, B) Make her a BACKGROUND villain, and C) Completely rewrite her powers. Sigh.
Arclight – She was the girl who used her shockwave powers to break apart all of the Cure-guns. They actually got her powers relatively right. Fans of older X-Men comics will recognize the humor in having her and Callisto on the same team (Arclight was a member of a villain team called the Marauders, who were responsible for slaughtering the Morlocks. Callisto would in regular continutity hate her.
They also had a male version of Marrow (The guy who threw bone spikes at Wolverine). Uhh…okay.

This villain team, on the whole, SUCKS. I also didn’t much care for the writing out of Cyclops and Rogue. I know Cyclops was written out because the actor playing him essentially left the movie, but come on, recast him. It’s not like Cyclops was a big part of the first two anyway. If you can recast James Bond, you can recast Cyke. Nope, they just kill him off. Rogue’s character is conflicted about the cure the whole movie, so she’s essentially out of the action for most of it. So you’d think with two characters out, they could bring in a couple more to get a little spotlight. Nope, not really. Colossus just gets more bit parts, including two of his famous “fastball specials” (Step one: Pick up Wolverine. Step two: Find bad guy. Step three: Throw Wolverine at bad guy.), and Shadowcat (recast for the THIRD TIME) just adds a pretty face to make Rogue jealous. Oh, and she calls Juggernaut a “d***head”. Woop-de-doo.

So, lame character usage aside, the movie fares rather well. I enjoyed the way they explained bringing Phoenix into the movies, as well as Jean’s breakdown into madness. The entire “Cure” backdrop made for a great subplot as well. It’s actually an adaptation of a recent comic plot written by Joss Whedon (of Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Angel, and Firefly fame), and they even use one of his characters (The Indian doctor, Dr. Kavita Rao).

There’s plenty of good action, and the end fight scene is spectacular. I’m glad they finally unleashed Storm, and showed exactly what someone with her powers could do (though having Halle Berry as a frontwoman again is annoying). And do not get me going on the awesomeness of Kelsey Grammer. Was there EVER a man more suited to play Beast? Perfect mix of brilliance and ferocity, exactly how Beast should be done. The effects for his fight scenes were awesome, his dialogue and delivery were great (“You don’t shed on the furniture”), and his makeup was perfect. He’s one casting decision you’ll never hear me complain about.

Famke Jannsen did Phoenix very well, mixing raw rage and sorrow, and the scene where she kills the Professor had me agape. The climax of the movie, well, I have mixed feelings about. The massive amounts of killing seemed a little over the top, and yet one the reasons the Phoenix was so feared in the comics is because she once destroyed an entire galaxy. I’m also wondering why they stopped using the flame effects in this movie (go watch X2 again if you don’t know what I mean).

Overall, I liked the movie, but I don’t think I’d rate it above X2. The syndrome of “too many characters, not enough development”, the killing off of Cyclops, and the lame villain choices put it just below its predecessor.

This is Love – One Year Later

It’s been nearly a year since four boys headed out to the mountains of Eagle Nest, New Mexico in order to get outta town, get closer to God, and record an entirely new type of worship album. I just listened to it again last night as I was putting it onto my iPod, and I thought I’d share some questions I get asked about it fairly regularly, as well as the answers.

So here it is, the B-Matt’s “This is Love” FAQ!

1. So what kind of music is this?

This is not exactly something you would play in your car and rock out to with your friends. (Though if you really want to, go for it!) “This is Love” is meant to be a meditative worship experience, something you dwell on the love of Jesus Christ to. It’s something entirely different that any worship album you’ve listened to. There aren’t any lyrics. We took the greatest words ever written, the Word itself, and read it to music we wrote with the inspiration of God and the talents He gave us.

2. So is this a new monkeywrench album?

Sigh. No. This album is not a monkeywrench album. It is not ska. The only connection this album HAS to monkeywrench is that A) Both are albums meant to worship God (though in VERY different ways) and B) “This is Love” was done as a collaboration between 4 of the 9 members of monkeywrench. Please don’t call it anything but that.

3. So what is the name of this collaboration of 4 of the 9 members of monkeywrench?

There is no official name. We didn’t “start a new band” to do this. We’re just 4 good friends who love the Lord who gave us the talents we have. So we put our heads together, spent a week in a cabin in the mountains of New Mexico, and came back with this.

Unofficially, we called ourselves the Cabin Boys.

4. So the album is just called “This is Love?”

Yup, that’s it. It’s not “This is Love – The Cabin Boys” or “monkeywrench – This is Love”, just “This is Love”.

5. So what are the track titles?

Officially, there aren’t any titles to the tracks other than “Track 1”, “Track 2”, and so on.
Unofficially, we have names that we called them based on what scripture we read. The names that I refer to them by are probably not the same as what David or Peugh calls them. But here’s what I called each track when they ended up in my iPod.
In the Beginning (Genesis)
The Sin Track
The Prophecy Track
In the Beginning (John)
The Passion Track
This is Love
The Resurrection Track
The Praise Track
These Are the Words of Him
The Rest is Silence
A word about Raw Jams
The Sin Track – Raw Jam
The Prophecy Track – Raw Jam
The Passion Track – Raw Jam
The Praise Track – Raw Jam.

6. So what’s the theme of this album?

Putting it simply, the title “This is Love” really tells all, it’s about the greatest act of love in the world, Jesus Christ accepting the ultimate punishment for the World’s sins so that humanity may reunite with God again. The album goes somewhat sequentially, starting with Creation, the sin of man, and prophecies of Jesus, then the Passion, Resurrection, and then praising Christ.

7. Where are the verses you read? I want to read them.

I don’t have specific documentation for each song as to where the Scripture we read is. I believe we all read from an NIV translation. Try using a concordance to look them up, or ask us about specific ones, I’m sure we could tell you or help you find it.

8. How do I get one?

This, I don’t know. You’ll have to ask David if he has any more or if he can make some more. We tried to get as many to people that we knew would want to hear it as possible.

Next, I’m going to go through each track and share with you some cool insights about it, what its purpose is, stuff like that.

In the Beginning (Genesis) – We wanted to show the parallels in the Bible between the Creation of the world and the opening of John 1, so we began at, well, the beginning. We went through each day of creation (read by Truett) and in the background added some sound effects to kind of help “immerse” you in what that week must have been like. Those sounds were actually done late the very last night we were in New Mexico by me and David. The wind effects? That’s David breathing really heavily and slowly. The birds chirping? David. The noise of the seeds? That’s me, with my shaker.

The Sin Track – Obviously, this track deals with man falling into sin. It’s very slow, almost mournful. You might recognize the passage David reads; it’s the “meaningless” passage from Ecclesiastes. I love how David reads this, so fatalistic. It’s perfect for this track.

The Prophecy Track – I love how this song’s intro sounds increasingly hopeful, given that it’s subject is the prophecies of Christ. This track is one of my favorites, and not just because I do all the readings, or because the readings are some of my favorite passages from Isaiah or Luke, though that is a factor. I also love the percussion work I did for this one, and how well Peugh’s harmonica synchs with the guitars. Take a listen to the bridge section, right after I read Luke 3:16, with the dual-percussion beats. I LOVE how that sounds. David and Truett ROCK at this mixing and mastering thing!

In the Beginning (John) – If this sounds familiar, it’s actually because we used the same music recordings we used in the first track to make this one, just recorded a new reading to it.

The Passion Track – This song is just under 8 minutes long, and took the most work to record for that very reason. It starts with Jesus praying at Gethsemane and finishes with His death at the Cross. If I’m not mistaken, we read from the Gospel of Mark. The very cool thing about this song was that we recorded and mixed this song before we decided what we were going to read to it, and it was absolutely amazing how well the scripture fits the song. Right when we start with Jesus brought before the Sanhedrin, the drums come in, changing the mood right when it’s appropriate, further augmented by Peugh’s harmonica. Right when we got to the rooster crows after Peter’s third denial, Peugh comes in on his flute. There are plenty of examples of this in the song. We didn’t do this on purpose, this was totally God. We tried to read when it seemed appropriate, but these little things just happened.

This is Love – I don’t think I really need to say anything about this. God pretty much did it very well. This is the verse that inspired the whole project

The Resurrection Track – This song feels like something you could dance happily to, and it only gets more that way as it progresses. The readings are all about what exactly God has accomplished with Christ’s death and resurrection: the final defeat of evil and the salvation of the human race for those who would accept it. I love how Peugh says “…and power” at the end of his reading. You can just HEAR his smile.

Interestingly enough, I’m not playing the tambourine on this song, that’s David. We recorded them both at the same time.

The Praise Track – This track was a little different, and you can probably hear a difference in it. Normally when you record a song, you record each individual instrument, then mix them all together. This one was recorded live. The Wilson family had a cabin really close to the one we stayed at, and we recorded this on their massive back porch live. You might actually have to turn the volume up on this one to hear it better because of this.

Once again, that’s not me on the tambourine. Peugh’s doing it. We had to send him around a corner so that the tambourine wouldn’t overpower the rest of us!

This song is all about praising and glorifying Jesus for His ultimate act of Love.

These Are the Words of Him – I’m actually really proud of this one. It came to me that the parallel verses read here would be a perfect way to end the album. Read Revelation if you don’t recognize them.

The Rest is Silence – Well…um…that’s what it is. Silence. 5 minutes of it. Take the time to meditate on what you just heard. Cause the goofy stuff is after this.

So, you know how some albums will have a “hidden track?” Basically, after the last track on a CD, you’ll have a few minutes of nothing, and then the artist will have another song? That’s what we were kind of going for here. This track is the silence in between the album and the bonus Raw Jams.

A Word about Raw Jams, and the rest of the Raw Jam versions – It’s David. Telling you what you’re about to hear. More like, warning you actually. The raw stuff we recorded and experimented with before we finalized it into the stuff you heard above. It kind of gives you a little before and after picture. I think they’re worth listening to just for the goofy stuff we say before and after the songs. Yes, I really did say “It’s GO time, baby!”

Hope that gives you some insight into one of my favorite musical projects I’ve been a part of!