Sunday, March 26, 2006
Generations after King David "the Giant Killer" had passed on, the nation of Israel was lost in darkness. The Kings of the line of David forsook the God that performed soo many miracles for their people and delivered them from their enemies. They were, infact, some of the most: wicked, evil, demonic, and violent Kings to ever rule a nation on Earth. For 300 years the temple of God was persecuted by it's own kings and people. The sacred scriptures were outlawed and destroyed. God's temple was more of a museum of an ancient religion long gone, and the current dark King Amon had just been assassinated.
Amon's son Prince Josiah was crowned King of Jerusalem at the age of 8 in light of his father's young death. Many would expect Josiah to carry on his blood thirsty heritage, but Josiah was nothing like his more recent forefathers. Against all expectations, Josiah was a man of morals, and though he might not have known it, he was also the man God would use to reform His chosen people.
Josiah saw his people worshiping in temples dedicated to false pagan gods. He witnessed the: baby sacrifices, the unnatural sex between people of same genders and even with animals, and the corrupt blasphemous teachings. These things disgusted him, and he saught a place to start looking for something better. What he found was the run-down temple of the Lord God, and it's last remaining followers. Josiah appointed a team to rebuild and clean the temple, and the high priest Hilkiah found an old copy of the holy scriptures hidden within the temple as he was cleaning. Hilkiah read these sacred words with astonishment for these scriptures hadn't been read by anyone in over 300 years, and were thought to be lost forever. What Hilkiah found in one passage struck him soo much that he had to give these scriptures to Josiah's secretary Shaphan to read what he had found.
Shaphan came to King Josiah for his report on the temple's progress. He gave the king all of the information that he was seeking, but he had to show the king the scriptures and what amazing passage the priest Hilkiah had found. Shaphan proceeded to read outloud to the King every word of the Bible. When the King heard the words of the Book of the Law he tore his robes in deep repentance. Once the King received God's disgust with the actions of Israel, he called together the elders, and read the words of the Scriptures found in the temple to the people. All of the false gods and idols and all of their shrines were destroyed. The artifacts of God's church were preserved and restored. A holy prophet of old's bones were left as they were in respect. The priests, soothsayers, witches, and false prophets of all silent and fruadulent gods were slaughtered.
It is written in the book of the annals of the kings of Judah that God loved Josiah for he walked in the ways of the Lord as did David before him. Josiah had renewed the covenant God made with the Israelites. His story can be read in II Kings chapters 22 and 23: 1-30
Those who have heard this story have often wondered many things. How was it that such a righteous man could come from such terrible fathers? What passage was it in the Holy Scriptures that made Josiah tear his robes and repent so actively?
Well I think it's important to realize that anyone who calls upon the Lord can perform bold righteous acts that can change countless lives. It doesn't matter what kind of family you've come from or what you have done before. God works within impossibilites where we would see no hope otherwise. To do God's work, one must be broken first in order to see that God is their true father, and God is mighty and perfect. Those who have already been hurt by broken homes need only call upon God, and amazing things can happen right where they stand.
As for which verse finally struck Josiah, and moved him to such radical action? None of us were there, and it can only be speculated, but one very good guess has been presented to me. The following passage from the Holy Scriptures were written somewhere around 270 years before Josiah's birth.
"1 By the word of the LORD a man of God came from Judah to Bethel, as Jeroboam was standing by the altar to make an offering. 2 He cried out against the altar by the word of the LORD : 'O altar, altar! This is what the LORD says: 'A son named Josiah will be born to the house of David. On you he will sacrifice the priests of the high places who now make offerings here, and human bones will be burned on you.' 3 That same day the man of God gave a sign: 'This is the sign the LORD has declared: The altar will be split apart and the ashes on it will be poured out."
Put yourself in Josiah's place. Imagine that you have not been able to read the Bible all of your life. A copy has been found and the very first time you read the Bible you find a prophecy about you with your very name in it describing exactly what you will do. Awestruck wouldn't begin to describe what you would be feeling, and I'm sure you would be moved to action just as Josiah was. But what if your name is in the Bible? I believe that if anyone believes in the death and ressurection of Jesus Christ and calls upon the Lord as their God, that phrase "who soever" will be transformed into their name. All of the rest of the Bible will suddenly become relevent to that person on a very personal level. They will be able to transplant their name into many promises made by God throughout the Bible, and their name will be written in Heaven where they will become heirs to the Kingdom of God. They will be called High Priests and Saints- even a friend of God and a brother to Jesus.
Maybe we should be moved to action just as Josiah was. Maybe we should see our names in the Bible and take the cross upon our shoulders in the name of righteousness thereby destroying the powers and principalities of darkness on this Earth and in the air.
Sunday, March 19, 2006
Today I had a lot of fun searching for old long lost high school friends on Myspace.com. Incase you didn't know, you can search for people according to the schools they've attended in myspace. All you have to do is click on "search" and find your school in their data base, and the website will list all of the members who have attended that school. I found about 6 different people from back in Illinois that I thought I'd never talk to again, and I'm eagerly awaiting them to see my request and add me to their friends list. I think it will do me good to get in touch with my past and the people that influenced me years ago. A few of them apparently made it out of Rockford, IL which is a good surprise. Not many people make it out of that black hole city. When I was reading one of my old friend's profiles, I found that she is either married or about to be married. Interestingly enough that kind of jarred me, and I felt a little sad. I don't know exactly what that means. Maybe I hold feelings for that I didn't realize I had. Or maybe I'm just kind of sad that those days are long gone and we've both moved on so far from them. I've never been good at letting friends go, and she happened to be someone I really admired then, and I still do now.
By the way. The picture above is my current profile picture on Myspace. It was taken on St. Patricks Day to show off my first annual St. Patricks Day Irish beard. You can barely see it because it's soo thin, but that's half the fun. The serious look is comedic for those who know me since I'm never without a large smile on my face.
Friday, March 17, 2006
V For Vendetta is film adaption from the popular graphic novel of the same title created by Alan Moore and David Lloyd in the 1980's. Evey (Natalie Portman) is a young woman living in fascist England who is saved from a band of crooked cops by V. (Hugo Weaving) V is a brilliant, perhaps even crazy, man who believes the govenrment in which they currently live in is highly corrupt, and that he is the one to break the chains of opression for the people in order to create a better world. Because of his bold actions to revolt against the Supreme Chancellor, V is labelled a terrorist by the government, and becomes number one on their hit list. Evey is forced by V to live with him in his hideaway, but she soon sees the cause for his actions, and joins him. Together, they work towards giving the people a voice, and V sets off a complex plan of strategic action to accomplish their lofty goals.
I thought the movie succeeded in capturing one of my favorite graphic novels of all time fairly well with a few exceptions. I thought the pacing at the beginning was a little too fast to take everything in, but it became more satisfactory about half-way in. The action was great. I had no issues with the acting. I do wish that two scenes from the graphic novel would have made it into the film, but maybe I'll get into that sometime later. I don't want to spoil anything for anyone.
I was left with sort of a bad taste in my mouth after the movie was over eventhough I thought it was well executed. While others disagree with me, I saw a strong commentary against religion in this film. All of the main villains in the film are described as "religious conservatives," yet they never touch on correct religion- the kind that helps people rather than enprisoning those they don't agree with.
The film tends to defend the homosexuals that were oppressed by he government more than anyone else, while the graphic novel spoke against a more broad range of biggotry like racism, and attacking those of other religions. There are scenes of: two women kissing, two men sleeping together in a bed, and one of the heroes in the story was portrayed as a gay man contrary to the original novel. It seemed like this film was designed to be a bit of a platform for those that think homosexuality is ok. I will admit that the original graphic novel did defend homosexuality, but it didn't single it out like the film did.
I did enjoy the fact that someone in hollywood made a film to say something meaningful even if I didn't neccessarily agree with all that it was saying. This is not a common practice in our current film industry, and not only would I like to see more of it, but I am also planning on making my own voice heard through this medium. Like I say, This film was a pretty good adaption of the original graphic novel, but I'm not willing to end the story where they left it. I don't want to say that the people need to control the government, and then say nothing of how the individual person needs to change themselves aswell. This film reminded me that I want to push the medium even further, and I want to get down to the real problems of this world, and not end half-way to call it a day.
Friday, March 10, 2006
Picture taken after the show.
From left to right: Odd Thomas, me, Listener, and Beat Rabbi
Wednesday, March 08, 2006
After having the first location fall through due to UC Berkley's strict rules, THE TOUR OF HOMES MARCHES ON!! A new venue has been secured and the show will go on as planned! This show promises to be a great time with some real quality underground Hip Hop by both Listener and Odd Thomas. Please come out and show some love.
Monday, March 06, 2006
Imagine, if you will, that you have just been given 70% of the work that an entire animation studio does to create an animation. You are the: storyboard artist, the writer, the director, the character designer, the modeler, the rigger, the animator, the lighting technician, the editor, and the sound editor. You are doing the work of 20 to 200 or more people, and you have to complete all of this work in 15 weeks. Not only that, but you are not paid to do any of this; INFACT, you pay $20,000 (plus lab fees, text books, transportation into the city, and media costs) for the privilege of going through this torture, and you have to do this twice a year for going on 7 years now. Well that's what it means to be an animation major at the Academy of Art University. Think about it. I am taking: Nonlinear Editing, Intro to Storyboarding, Maya 2, and Character Design1. Each week I put on about 10 different hats.
The really frustrating part is that every instructor claims that they are creating a "professional environment," in every class. This, of course, is a joke because if it was anything like a professional environment, you'd be working as a member of a team, and not doing everything on your own. You would be getting paid, or atleast gaining experience for your work. I know what you're thinking, "Aren't you gaining experience in your classes?" The answer is little to none.
My focus in the computer animation major is Character Animation. All, save two, of my classes over the last 6 years (2 Art schools) have had nothing to do with character animation. The few classes that do allow me to animate a character are classes that focus on modeling and rigging and lighting and designing backgrounds first; THEN during the last two weeks or so of class we get to animate a character. For those of us that struggle with rigging and modeling have it really rough because that always puts us behind, and we have to rush the character animation part to get the final project in.
My other grievance is that a diploma of any kind means absolutely nothing when you're looking for a job in the art field. You could be a high school drop out and get hired as long as you have a killer portfolio. Well I don't have a killer portfolio because I'm not a high school drop out. Because I'm in college, I have no time to develop a portfolio. All of my projects in class take time from each other so everything is rushed or pushed aside for other projects. I can't focus on doing a good job in anything because if I did I wouldn't get it done in time, and I would fail. I do all of this for what? A diploma that is as good as toilet tissue.
All of this leads me to believe that our educational system is set up all wrong. What happened to the days of apprenticeships? Everyone hates school because school isn't what you want in life. You want a career. That's what we all want! Why isn't school set up like the industry? Why can't all of our classes be set up as team environments where character animation majors team up with modelers and writers and directors?
If you really think about it, our school system is too abstract to make any sense. Information is presented to the student as separate subjects. Well doesn't all information coincide with all other information in life? Life isn't broken up into subjects entitled Mathematics, Science, English, P.E. or whatever. It's all blended together.
We need reform in our system desperately. That's why other country's students can kick our students butts.
If you agree with me; I promise to think about and act upon this problem if you will.
Friday, March 03, 2006
I've just finished watching this movie, and I'll say it was pretty solid, but I was dozing on it a little too much. The action just didn't deliver as I thought it should being an animation based on comic book super heroes. The production quality was grade A as far as aniamtion, and effects, but I would have liked to have seen a little more creativity in set design, and character design.
I was told by a trusted source that Captain America is really cool in this movie, I didn't see what he was talking about at all. His story was pretty good, but I think they could have done a lot more with his combat abilities and the cool shield slinging action that he does in the comics. I realize this is supposed to be kid friendly, but I think they could have juiced it up a little more without warping any minds. It's the same for pretty much all of the other characters. Good character development, not enough showing off of powers and abilities.
The backgrounds were very "Saturday morning cartoons." I think they could have been far more creative with color layout to help them set the mood of each scene. I wanted to see eerie shadows and lighting around the villains, and warm strong colors for the heroes- that sort of thing. Everything was just flat and read the same through every scene.
The character design wasn't especially bad, but I would have loved to see them push expressive design with their characters. These are super heroes. Why not have more fun with straits against curves, and over exagerated proportions? It's too bad Bruce Timm only works exclusively with DC/Warner. Someone like him could have brought a little design magic to the table.
Other than that: the story was solid, the animation was pretty good, and I did have a descent time watching it. Let's hope they put more bite into it for the sequal.