Ready Player One: A critical  film review by a true film buff
Apr11

Ready Player One: A critical film review by a true film buff

Disclaimer: this review is coming from a film nerd who has not read the book this film was adapted from. That being said, I walked into the showing of this movie with only a moderate level of anticipation. The trailers enticed me to a point, but I was not dying to see the movie. The most exciting aspect was that Steven Spielberg was the director. The plot revolves around a young man living in the year 2045, where the real world is reduced to slums and extreme poverty. However, an escape from this dreadful future exists in the form of a free, virtual reality game called the Oasis, and nearly everyone plays it daily. Wade Watts, the protagonist, goes on a journey in the game to find an Easter egg hidden by the inventor of the game. The Easter egg promises a large sum of money and complete control of the Oasis. A villainous company, wanting to monopolize the game world, is trying to reach the egg first. This movie is a roller-coaster. There is a wonderfully fast-paced flow to the film, with only one scene bogging down that pacing. Back-to-back, exciting sequences are filled with breathtaking visuals, which really come as a surprise, given that the majority of the film is completely CGI (Computer Generated Imagery). With CGI however, no angle is out of the question. As a result, certain chase sequences provide such a high level of immersion and intensity that it almost seems like virtual reality, sitting in the theater. Some character development is sacrificed to advance the plot, but all of the lead characters have a natural charisma to them, both in reality and in the Oasis, where they can choose their own customizable avatar. The humor hits the mark most of time, and the action is spot on every time. It ranges from being close-quarter firefights to explosive duels at a colossal size. All the while, 80’s rock anthems blare in the background, so the music elevates everything to another level of energy. With the film switching between a completely CGI world and the physical world constantly, my fear is that it would be too jarring. That is not the case with Ready Player One. Spielberg, the director, brilliantly starts off the movie with very infrequent cuts between both realities, and increases them as the film progresses. This gets the viewer adjusted to the transitions, and by the time the climax is switching between realities at a seconds pace, the experience is not confusing and muddled to the audience. certain plot points made it seem a bit too convenient and easy for the characters....

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Streaming vs buying music
Feb21

Streaming vs buying music

Vinyl’s, transistor radios, 8-track tapes, Walkman’s, CD’s, MP3 players and iPods all had their day, but a new giant has consumed the music industry: streaming. Anyone with internet access can now stream their favorite music from their phones, computers, TV’s and many other electronic devices. If someone wants to listen offline, they pay a relatively cheap subscription fee and can then do so. While there are a wide variety of streaming services to choose from, Spotify and Apple music lead the pack. Nielsen research firm reported that in 2016, streaming was up by 76.4 percent compared to the previous year. On the other hand, traditional CD album sales went down 16.3 percent, and digital track sales went down 25 percent. This divide has been growing wider and wider over the past few years. Now, CD’s and vinyl’s are for collectors and music enthusiasts. MP3 players are growing extinct, and it is no wonder why. Cellphones come with more storage than ever before, but even that does not matter as much now. With streaming online, access to millions of songs is really just limited to your Wi-fi or data plan. However, there remains a fixed point of controversy amidst the battle of streaming versus buying. Streaming music pays the musical artists far less than purchasing does. Each stream is a fraction of a penny, and this has the music industry grieving. For example, if a new album has 10 songs, and a fan listened to all the songs on the album 10 times each, that means 100 streams. On most streaming services including Spotify, that would not even equal out to a dollar. On the other hand, if the album were purchased for a standard amount, that would instantly equal out to 10 dollars. Purchasing instantly gives more back to the artist, while streaming gives less back over a longer period of time. Despite this, streaming offers something to music fans that traditional means of purchasing music does not bring. The opportunity for discovery opens up. When millions of songs are on instant access at the tap of a finger, finding new artists to listen to is not a grievous chore. Streaming services heavily promote discovery playlists and new artists. Playlists are now doing what the radio has served to do for so long. NF’s song “Let You Down” was released in September of 2017 when he had under two million monthly listeners on Spotify. In a statement from Daniel Breitholtz, Spotify’s Nordic head of shows and editorial, he said that NF’s single was catapulted to success through it being initially added to playlists in the Nordic Territory. It jumped...

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Why Christian hip-hop is important in society
Feb09

Why Christian hip-hop is important in society

No other art shifts the culture more than music, and each era has its own dominant genre. While it can be debated, the evidence shows that hip-hop is this era’s reigning genre. On Jan. 3 of this year, Billboard released an article that stated “R&B/hip-hop music was the year’s biggest genre, accounting for 24.5 percent of all music consumed.” While this was the most powerful genre of 2017, there seems to be no sign of it stopping. Within this genre, a unique transition is happening, something that could eventually steer the direction of the entire music industry. Christian hip-hop is not a sub-genre. There is no difference between it and “secular” hip-hop. The difference remains in the content – Christian rappers often choose not to swear, to profess their beliefs and to bring a more positive outlook into the music. The movement had an early birth in the 80s with early artists like MC Sweet and Stephen Wiley. However, the popularization came with DC Talk in the 90s. Artists like Gospel Gangstaz and Cross Movement were notable during this decade. In 2004, the Reach Records music label formed. It became the home of artists such as Lecrae, Andy Mineo, Trip Lee and many more, who have infiltrated hip-hop with their movement. While Christian hip-hop is still largely unnoticed, it has produced multiple albums that have topped the Billboard Top 200, the highest ranking album chart in the U.S. Lecrae has collaborated with artists such as Tori Kelly, E-40, Big K.R.I.T., Ty Dolla $ign and many more – all secular artists. Andy Mineo has also worked with Jon Bellion, whom he toured with as well. However, the most popular artist in Christian hip-hop is neither Lecrae or Andy Mineo. Nathan Feuerstein, aka, NF, 25 year-old rapper, has become one of the most unstoppable forces to emerge from the Christian hip-hop community. His album Perception, released on Oct. 6, 2017, hit the Billboard Top 200, and its single, “Let You Down,” catapulted into the Billboard Hot 100. It is currently in the top ten of most streamed songs daily on Spotify. Faith in hip-hop is no stranger to the secular scene. Chance the Rapper, Kanye West, 2Ppac and many more have exhibited their faith in God more than once. Chance the Rapper even released his own rendition of “How Great is Our God” on his mixtape titled “Coloring Book.” With hip-hop’s early-on establishment as the unrestrained genre, fit to voice the needs of the oppressed and fight social injustice, its explicit content became a signature. Before, to have “clean” hip-hop songs with no swearing would have been almost an anomaly. However,...

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Presidential criteria may be forever changed
Jan24

Presidential criteria may be forever changed

What will presidency mean in 2020? Something has shifted in the political climate, and perspectives are starting to radically alter. The 2016 presidential election produced a president, Donald Trump, with no political experience, which was perceived as one of his strong points. He was an outsider. USA Today called him an “anti-establishment outsider.” At least a large portion of Americans today do not consider political experience to be the most important factor in deciding which candidate to vote for. Recent events only confirm that. On Jan 7, Oprah Winfrey, the famous TV show host, philanthropist and entrepreneur delivered an emotionally charged and resonate speech at the Golden Globes. She had just won the Cecil B. deMille award, which is given to those who have had a major impact and influence on the entertainment world. She was the first African-American woman to ever receive this award, so her acceptance speech rang forth with “a new day is on the horizon!” This refers to a recognized, new age of equality and respect among men and women. This speech headlined everywhere overnight, with the question being asked: could Oprah Winfrey be president? The hashtag titled as “Oprah2020” skyrocketed on Twitter, with even NBC posting a tweet in favor of a potential Oprah presidential run. A multitude of various media outlets approved the idea, and even a few talk show hosts, such as Seth Meyers and Jimmy Kimmel, did the same. This is despite Oprah Winfrey having any political experience. However, with the current president also lacking that experience, that might not be of much weight against her in a campaign. While President Trump’s current approval rating may be at 36 percent (Gallup News), his supporters feel he is functioning as a President and has been capable of the work. This is all despite a lack of experience. While Oprah has since refuted any ideas of actually running, this desire for outsiders to fill in U.S. politics is catching on. Numerous celebrities, actors and music artists have considered their own presidential campaigns for 2020, including Kanye West, Dwayne Johnson, Chris Rock and even Katy Perry. Much of this activity among the celebrity world can be attributed to the wide range of diversity that has hit U.S. politics in the past fifteen years. From Barack Obama becoming the first African-American U.S. president to Bernie Sanders’ Democratic Socialism, to Hillary Clinton being the first woman to be the democratic nominee for presidency, to President Donald Trump today. In an interview with Vanity Fair in 2016, Dwayne Johnson responded over whether he might enter the political ring, saying, “It would be a great opportunity to help...

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