Thursday, February 25, 2010

What an Actor is in One Sentence

An actor is a person who can create a truthful, whole, communicative, and interesting character using their tools of imagination, knowledge, creativity, and experience.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Copy of my Scholarship Application Letter

It was my first theater attendance of a 2009 production of Sweeney Todd. Before then, I had always thought of the arts as a mystical realm, restricted to all but those gifted with near inhuman innate talent. From that point forward, however, the realm of the arts seemed accessible (it had always been desirable), to me.

After attending a university, I plan to start my career in local performing arts centers, building up my resume and skill, until I can be accepted for more prestigious performances. One of my lifelong goals is to be cast as the voice of a major Disney character. Robby Benson, the beast from Beauty and the Beast, and Keith David, Doctor Facilier from The Princess and the Frog, are some of the greatest examples of how a great vocal performance can cause a production to go from good to exemplary. Other roles I would love to be cast as: Sweeney Todd from Sweeney Todd, Leo Bloom from The Producers, and The Phantom from The Phantom of the Opera.

My reasons for pursuing the arts as a career are simple. I feel that my gift is the ability to enrich people’s lives through my voice, body, and words. My passion and respect for the arts will never be quenched, no matter what obstacles are placed in my way. I believe that my dedication and passion should allow me the opportunity to pursue further training, and eventually a career, in the arts.

Mass Effect 2 Review

If you happen to be on my buddy list you'll notice that I've finished both Bioshock 2 and Mass Effect 2 within the span of a week and you bet your ass I have thoughts on both, but for now we'll start with the latter. Mass Effect 2, the sequel to the space epic from 2007 of a similar name, has been coined by a single word, streamlined, and while it's true, I would much rather focus on the other aspects that don't get enough attention.

You could consider this paragraph to be chock full of minor spoilers, but if you've spoken to anyone whose played this game for more than ten minutes you'll know everything I'm about to type. The game starts with the Normandy, which has basically been demoted clean-up as they patrol the universe looking for remaining Geth. This glorified form of retirement lasts for a while until, within the time frame of ten seconds: the Normandy detects an anomaly, a bizarre space ship lodged into a rock warps within a hundred yards of the ship, and the aforementioned ship splits the Normandy in half with the same amount of effort that we'd use to split string cheese. You then go about the demolished ship rescuing all you can from the surrounding destruction; this sounds familiar (Knights of the Old Republic 2), well okay, it's not a complete copy, but I think Bioware studied up on  some of their old notes before making Mass Effect 2 (it doesn't help that both are sequels either). You precede to save just about everyone, including everyone's beloved paraplegic Joker. After that, you get blown from the ship and die due to a combination of asphyxiation and being torn up by a planet's atmosphere; cue Six Million Dollar man intro sequence!

The rest of the game is compromised of you forming a team to combat the new menace known as the Collectors. There's no real point in mentioning the main goal any further because it's literally a copy of the one from the original. Instead, we'll focus on the addition that caught my attention the most, the upgrade system. This skillfully deals with an issue that has been plaguing role playing games since their creation, item overload. Instead of being forced to sift through dozens of weapons to find the one you want, you are given a maximum of three to four guns for each category and you improve upon them. This solves an issue and presents an impressive way to emphasize each weapon's key qualities. Secondly, you are only allowed to change weapons at the beginning of each mission or at weapon lockers placed at key checkpoints within the mission, which is a blessing for us afflicted with ADD when it comes to our load-out.

The final aspect worth mentioning is one of the best uses of quick-time events I've yet to see. These events take the form of Renegade and Paragon choices that occur whenever the situation arises. Generally this comes into play with your party member's various loyalty missions and secondary missions. The Paragon option almost always boils down to you stopping your buddy from making an incredibly stupid decision, with the Renegade option usually allowing you to either take an unfair advantage against an enemy or slap someone into shape. Neither of these options are mandatory, but they can have a major impact on the game's continuity and story progression, luckily the game telegraphs when these events are going to occur and gives you over ten seconds to react.

Now of course, you are wondering why I'm not telling you if this game is good or not, that's because you already know this. You and I both know that you've read other reviews and probably played the original, so focusing on the big picture is a waste of time. What I want to do is tip those undecided into purchasing this title by presenting them the game's most glorious positive qualities, but I'm not going to simply flatter the game's developers either, so here is a negative aspect!

The game is far too easy in terms of combat. The only time you die is when you overstep your class's boundaries and go into territory you shouldn't be in. At no point in the game are you required to reload and stock up on stronger upgrades in order to beat a certain section. I personally didn't even go to any of the game's shops until well past the seventy-five percent mark. Secondly, the game generally auto saves before each battle so your only penalty for death is restarting that specific battle over again.What the game lacks in combat difficulty though it makes up in moral dilemmas, prepare yourself for some tough choices that will most likely affect the how the third installment pans out.

This game is all about decisions, decisions, decisions. You will spend more time dwelling over how to help your psychopathic biotic get over her mental scars than you ever will spend in a single battle, and that's a good thing. It presents a completely different style of gaming in a manner that's not threatening to most people and is generally accessible by everyone whose willing to give it a shot due to its sugary coating of streamlined combat, interface, and conversation options. Will you enjoy this game if you enjoy action? Yes. Will you enjoy this game if you enjoy story? Yes. Will you enjoy this game if you like flashing lights and pretty music? Oh fuck yes. Should you get this game? Must you really ask?

Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Socialism versus Self-Interest

Though many might consider me making a mountain out of an anthill, I think that the story of Rapture (the setting of the video game Bioshock 2), provides great insight into the dangers, and possibilities of strong capitalism and socialism. If you're willing to suspend your disbelief and consider the ideals presented as those presented by true men and women, then there might be a strong lesson for you and me to learn.

Lets begin with Sofia Lamb, socialism.
To provide a basic summary of her belief system: The pursuits of one's own self-interest is the primary sin of humanity, to instead focus on the common good above all else is the pursuit of a true Utopian (the perfect being). Unity above all else leads to the betterment of society at the cost of personal freedom. Strong moral standards in opposition to human nature.

Now Andrew Ryan, capitalism and self-interest.
The pursuits of one's self-interest without the restrictions of morality and government lead to strides in science, art, and overall ingenuity, the forces behind a true utopia. Self-interest leads to an ambition to better one's self through the fields of art, science, or business, and this eventually leads to an overall increase in the quality of life for all. Moral standards are a hindrance, whose only purpose are to restrict such fields. He also does not believe in restrictions caused by government, religion, and totalitarianism.

Both promise to result in a utopia, a pinnacle of society, yet both provide stark contrasts to each other. One promotes a focus on the common good, while the other promotes an ambition to better one's self. One enforces strong moral restrictions while sacrificing freedom, yet the other provides freedom while excluding moral responsibility. Which is better?

The problem with both is that they oppose basic human nature, both cases. The first opposes basic human ambition to strive beyond others for the sake of pure competition or financial gain or recognition. The second opposes the viciousness of the human-spirit, who would be willing to dominate, repress, or destroy anything that impedes their attempts at success, the only thing stopping many being the restrictions of morality.

We see an example of the latter in Fontaine, a man who uses murder, manipulation, and over maliciousness to secure his own monetary gain. He even goes so far as to take the illegitimate child of Andrew Ryan himself and mentally condition it to eventually destroy Ryan and take control of Rapture. He manipulates the people through the guise of Atlas, rallying them under the facade of promoting the good of the common man, when his true intent is simply monetary gain and control. Without moral restrictions and laws, he is free to trod upon others for his own personal gain without being held to any sense of humanity.

An example of the latter would be Sofia Lamb herself, a person more than willing to destroy someone who she thinks would hinder the common good of the people. She believes that ambition and competition are a sin and that instead, complete unity without focus or care for one's own being is what leads to perfection. Self-identity by means of art, science, and business is evil and thus should not be allowed. Nationalism over individualism, community over self, unity over self-identity.

My own personal opinion? If forced to side with one I would side with Andrew Ryan. I believe that self-identity is something of great importance, we should be ambitious, competitive, and strive to better ourselves. Artistic and scientific exploration should not be restricted due to the mislead belief that we should never do anything that might demotivate our fellowman and make them feel like a lesser-being. In my mind, being beaten should fill a person with ambition to find a subject they are passionate and talented at (the two tend to go hand-in-hand if one is true with themselves), and strive to become the best in whatever definition of the word they use. While moral responsibility should be present, I do not think that they should be taken to the extremes, restricting freedom of speech and expression to prevent situations that might offend others. I do think that they should be in place so that no one can repress a person's human rights and ability to reach their goal (I oppose political correctness, affirmative action, the current state of American welfare, medicare, and social security, and do not believe in nationalizing any business, though some should be kept under certain standards and restrictions, such as the banking industry). I believe in a strong free-market with very limited government restrictions, and believe in art without moral restrictions (freedom of expression), and science with the restrictions of human rights ( I am against what I consider the casual destruction of human life: abortion except under certain circumstances, embryonic stem-cell research except under circumstances where the embryo would be destroyed otherwise, and the death-penalty except under circumstances of extreme human atrocity such as murder, torture, or rape). I believe in the freedom to purchase firearms, unless one is a convicted felon who would be considered a severe risk if allowed a weapon. I do not believe in double-standards (everyone should be judged based upon their skill, ambition, and talent, without bringing race, religious, sexual preference, or gender into consideration).

I DO NOT believe that every person has the ability to master any field they attempt. We are imbued with talents and motivations that allow us to strive in certain fields and fail in others, the best we can do is realize this and focus on those fields that we feel true passion for, instead of lying to ourselves and ultimately failing to focus on what is important to us.

I do believe that we should respect the creatures of this earth and as such not hunt them for simple sport or cause them severe unwarranted physical trauma, but I do not believe this means we should go to such extremes that would restrict the ability of a person to strive in such a market. I believe that a vegetarian or vegan who does not eat meat for moral reasons is simply a person who tries to imbue themselves with a false sense of moral high-ground because they believe that no animal should be used by a human for food, shelter, or scientific advancement. They ignore the fact that many of these creatures, without our aid and security, would have a much lesser chance of survival and reproduction and as such, we are more than likely increasing their quality of life under our care. I do believe certain restrictions should be placed upon farming and fishing as to not damage the ecosystem by severely limiting a food source or predator, instead focusing on the concept of equivalent exchange. An example being the lumber company that plants just as many trees as they harvest, or the farmer or hunter who waits for nature to increase the numbers of the game or size of their herd before slaughtering them for the resources they need. I also believe that following these standards would ultimately lead to benefit for society (since most animals that are fed proper nutrition and given a comfortable way of life tend to provide healthier products; also, wild game, whose nutrition focuses on wild edibles, tend to provide healthier meat and than farm-raised in exchange for lesser quantities).

I do not believe that the government needs to enforce morality, but instead promote it through their own individual actions. A politician should place themselves under strong moral standards (such as truthfulness, ambition, charity), which will in turn inspire others to follow suit. Anyone who, with or without their intention, is a person of strong societal influence is given the ability to change how society functions, if even on small levels.

Laws should be placed only to protect human rights and the free-market. Laws should not be placed for matters that do not involve these two. Incentives such as tax-cuts, benefits, and popularity are perfectly reasonable manners to influence corporations to have a high moral standard. A company, however, should not be forced to take actions they deem detrimental to their prosperity if the action does not impede on human rights and free-market. An example would be providing a tax-cut to certain companies that introduce technological advances that lower the overall amount of pollution they produce or providing an incentive to hire people under different backgrounds. A company, however, should have the freedom to not do either if they view it better to do so. Overall though, most corporations will probably take the incentives and as such, be kept to a higher moral standard.

So there are my own personal thoughts and interpretations of these two viewpoints. You are of course free to oppose them and by all means I implore you to express your opinion, as long as it is one you believe in, but I also implore you to fill yourself with the experience and knowledge that will allow your personal truth to hold credibility with those you present it to through your actions, or words.

Wednesday, February 10, 2010

An Idea has Sprung Into My Head!

 In my attempt to further understand the sad, sad souls who watch my videos and read my blog, I've decided on an opportunity that will benefit both of us! It's quite simple really, just provide me with an article or subject that you personally find important enough to bother me with and I'll read it, think on it, and provide a specialized post giving my personal view on the matter while also providing objective information!

While I cannot realistically promise to provide a post for every single article I read (it all depends on how many people respond to this and my schedule), I can promise that if I do decide to respond I will do my homework on the matter and not just throw together a quick politician-style statement!

You can contact me by either my:
My Messenger

Send you requests as soon as the inspiration comes to you!

List of Computer Games

If you want to see a walkthrough of any of these games just send me a message or contact me somehow and I'll see what I can do!

List of Computer Games:
World of Warcraft
Battlefield 2
Black and White 2
Half Life 2
Sims 2
Sims 3
Half Life 1
Dark Messiah: Might and Magic
Guild Wars
Company of Heroes
Age of Empires 3
Age of Conan
Battlefield 2142
Medal of Honor: Pacific Assault
Dracula: Origins
Age of Chivalry
Deus Ex
America's Army 3
Champions Online
Company of Heroes: Opposing Fronts
Left 4 Dead
Red Orchestra
Civilization IV
Team Fortress 2
Tropico 3
The Witcher
Counterstrike Source
S.T.A.L.K.E.R.: Shadow of Chernobyl
City of Villains/Heroes
The Battle for Middle-Earth
Star Wars Rebel Assault (If it even runs on XP)
Neverwinter Nights 2
Shadow Force: Razor Unit (If it runs on XP)
Battlefield 1942
Rise of Nations
Warcraft 3: Frozen Throne
League of Legends
Sim City 4
Call of Cthulu
Command and Conquer: Red Alert 3
Dungeons and Dragons Online
Dragon Age Origins
Free Realms
Warhammer: Age of Reckoning
Lord of The Rings Online
S4 League
World of Kung Fu

If I find anymore that I have I'll add them, but for now this is the list!

Wednesday, February 3, 2010

Why Don't We (They) Give a Fuck About School?

The basic question that has plagued the minds of social commentators, teachers, and directors alike. Why does it seem that the majority of the student body in America, or at least the most vocal, doesn't care about their education? I have to think that the answer is simple, but not. They don't see the point, they don't grasp the concept of a career. Even if they do, a career to them is the enemy, the end to the party. It's the ultimate killjoy that stops the fun and starts the monotony.

The problem starts with a word that has become entirely leeched of its potential impact, the role model. The majority of celebrities, prominent musicians, and artists that pollute popular culture do not express through their actions an understanding or belief in the conventional standards and morals promoted by our education system. You don't see a prominent musician talking about how he obtained his classical instrument credentials from Princeton. It isn't widely believed that it takes a college degree to perform stunts on a skateboard or bike. This is just the tip of the problem, something that any "shmuck" who regularly tunes into TMZ can tell you. This isn't the root, the core, that lies in the household.

What do I mean by this? Do I mean that parents are far too nonrestrictive when it comes to their children? Do they not enforce strong enough discipline upon their child when he knowingly makes mistakes? To be frank, no. I've personally seen examples of a household where the parents would be considered responsible. The problem is not that they did not supply a strong structure for their child to grow in, but that they didn't provide the -right- structure to suit their individual child's needs and preferences. They did not take into consideration the forces working upon their child as anything, but opposition, and this is wrong.

At the age in which people attend middle-school, high school, and even in the early years of college, a strong yearning for independence and personal rebellion swells up inside them. They feel as though they have to distinguish themselves from their parents, while they still are directly affected by how they were raised. It's a sort of sick paradox in which a kid tries to oppose his parents, yet the way his parents raised him shape a good portion of how he goes about it. To put it plainly it's a complete fallacy to believe that an idea on how to raise a child formulated in the head of a parent before the birth of said child will hold up.

The solution? Destroy preconceptions on how a child should be raised and study your child, learn not just his likes and dislikes, but also his personality, what he values and structure discipline, learning, and development around it. Not only learn, but understand what draws him to it and involve yourself in it, unless your child strives with freedom and rebels under constant restriction, then give him the freedom. Some children work better under certain restrictions and some do not, not all children love a strict structure, but to say that none do would be moronic.

The most important thing to realize is that your child is not a miniature version of you, he will not share your exact values, likes, dislikes, and he will most likely not have your personality. True the way you raise him will shape him as a person, but there are thousands of other factors that come into play and you need to take them into consideration.