Friday, February 23, 2007

Karaoke - a post by Gordon

On a Friday night, after a birthday part, my immediate group of friends decided to pay a visit to the local karaoke bar at Pacific Mall. Before I continue on, I think it's better that I clarify what karaoke is, because I'm almost certain that it's not a popular sport among our fellow Tyndale classmates. Karaoke is a form of entertainment developed by Japanese people. It consists of a dark room with comfortable seating, a television, karaoke player system, and 2 or more microphones. The objective of this is to sing along the tunes sung by popular music stars. The TV screen shows lyrics where a blue or red highlighter scrolls across each word, moving accordingly with the pace of the song. Songs are usually played with instrumental music only, so that the participant can show the quality of their voice. People who are either off tune or musically challenged have the choice of turning on the the orginal singers voice to follow the song better and hide some imperfections. Karaoke can be played by anyone through all ages: friends, couples, and even family.
This was probably my 3rd time going and actively singing. I was glad that there were English songs, because the majority karaoke bars in Toronto are ownned by Chinese people, meaning Chinese pop songs and the majority of our group either do not keep up with Chinese pop culture or speak the language. So by default, we turned to the English song selections which consists of Back Street Boys, Spice Girls, and Savage Garden; corny, cheesy, boy band like musice we grew up to. I don't listen to songs like that on any given day, but it was for fun and we had many laughs. We were really pleased with our night and it was another way of bringing our friends together.
On the back of my head, I wonder why this fun activity was never popular amongst Non-Asians. I've seen Chinese, Korean, Japanese, and even Phillipino karaoke bars, but NEVER Caucasion or any other Non- Asian culture. Why is this sport so foreign and not popular with Non-Asians? When we have interactive television activities like video games, dance dance revolution, and now the new Nintendo system, Wii; karaoke has existed for few decades now and it still remains unpopular to Non-Asians. Terrible promotion or (pestimistically) Non-Asian wanting to be different from Asians? What do some of you think?

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Monday, February 19, 2007

It's All About the Dogmatics - a post by Deb

As Christians we so often shun or demean movies that have any bit of religious ridicule. Movies such as Saved or Dogma stir up in Christians, for some reason, feelings of offence, heresy, and often cause us to turn on our defensive mechanisms. It’s quite frustrating for me, a movie lover and a Christian, to try and talk about movies like these, to tell others, my friends and family, about them. Now don’t get me wrong, I do get annoyed with movies and people who treat any faith like some ridiculous thing that people do to feel something. However, as I watched these two movies I thought about our world, the people who created these movies, and the people who will watch these movies. So many say to me, “how can you condone the message of these movies, they’re blasphemous and displays Christians in such an ignorant way.” To which I reply, “you do realize that people who write scripts like these don’t just make this up off the top of their heads, they see it, hear it, and in many cases have lived it.” Let’s take Dogma for example. It’s a classic Kevin Smith movie, with the great cast of comedy wonders from the late 90’s. It is apart of a series of movies with an ensemble cast that created Mallrats, Chasing Amy, Clerks, Jay and Silent Bob, and so on. The humor is crude, bold, physical, and in my opinion hilarious! I decided one day to rent Dogma; it was recommended by my boss that I should watch it because he thought that I would find it interesting because I am a Christian. So I did! The opening scene is a disclaimer, a disclaimer to all the Christians that may be watching who will probably get offended. I thought that was funny, Kevin Smith knew that this movie was going to offend people, so he made the disclaimer, it’s our own faults for continuing to watch it! I watched with an open mind, in the forefront was the disclaimer, I went in to learn something. And I did! I learned that Christians are viewed in a negative light, but not because we’ve been misunderstood but mostly because there are those that really do act is such a way. Kevin Smith was raised in a devout Roman Catholic home, he has a good grasp on theology and most importantly he has his own views of the faith. Yes, Dogma had many questionable details, but for the most part it will cause you to think. As I finished watching the movie I had so many thoughts going through my mind, it made me look at my own life and how others may perceive me. I don’t think Dogma is meant to offend but to cause you to think! I recommend that you watch it, see how others see Christians, and understand how others view the biblical story. Maybe, just maybe you might learn something!

War and Billy Talent - a post by Deb

War and Billy Talent

I’ve just recently bought the latest release from Billy Talent (gotta support Canadian music) and there is one song that struck me deep! There is a track entitled The Navy Song; it’s one of their softer melodic songs. It got me thinking as I listened to it, how so many bands are stating their political views in their music. Sometimes it’s good other times they fall flat on their face. But for Billy Talent who, in my opinion, are one of the most well written bands on the scene today, they got the point across. The song is about someone who went off to war, to fight, to be slaughtered and eventually left for dead. The message is that they so badly wanted to go, find the person that left and bring them home. This hit home, because just this past week I had a childhood friend leave for Afghanistan with the Canadian military. It’s funny how a song can stir up emotions that you never realized were there. We didn’t chat anymore, I haven’t seen him since last Christmas, but since I found out that he’s gone off to fight, I’ve had a weird feeling. Can I relate to Billy Talent? A little, which is why they’re good at what they do!

NBA All Star Weekend 2007 - by Andrew

Go over to Andrew's blog (link on side bar) and see his musings about the NBA All Star Weekend.

Sunday, February 11, 2007

Today's Teens

Somehow through miscommunication I missed talking about this in my class and thought that I should post this now. It is pretty self explanatory - a big conference involving some good speakers on youth ministry. Although Dave is at Tyndale, Chap doesn't come to Canada that much so if you want to hear him, take advantage of this opportunity. Tyndale students get a discount so bring student ID. Here is the link - Today's Teens. Check it out and I hope that some can go.

Switchfoot, Oh Gravity - a post by Andrew

Andrew has posted another relevant post on his blog. Go to the sidebar here and click on Andrew Snider's blog and find a post about Switchfoot. While you are there you can learn about Megan.

Blogs and Facebook - a post by Shauna

It has only been since I've been attending the Freeway in Hamilton, that I have become acquainted with the blogging world. For a church which focusses so much on community, the was a way that the people felt would keep them in touch and up to date with the things going on in each others lives. Blogs consisted of random thoughts, photos, silly stories and even some more in depth thought. This I found to be very interesting and decided to begin one myself. Although I am not as consisted with my blogging as many of those who attend the Freeway, I do however enjoy browsing through the blogs of others. I do find it interesting to see what the week holds for the people at my church when I am not around to personally ask them. It seems that the blogging system at the Freeway has been certainly serving its purpose in building community even outside the church walls. While it does appear to be a little antisocial or lacking in community, I personally have found that it has opened doors of conversation on a Saturday nigtht or Sunday service. When I am browsing through the blog of a person that I don't know well or wouldn't normally have a chat with, I find pieces of information which I can relate to or something exciting in a person's life, such as a birth or a new pet which I can talk to them about. Blogging is definitely a different approach to attempting to be build community but in some weird way...It works!

Similar to the blogging world is the Myspace and facebook world. Now this is something that I vowed never to get tangled up with however as of this past month I've been sucked in. I always thought that myspace and facebook were just a waste of time and energy. Although, I've found that its been another very interesting way to keep in touch with friends and even find old ones. It has been an amazing experience for me, especially with facebook, for I have been able to find many of my high school friends. There were about 10 people who I haven't talk to either since high school or since they moved during middle school and it was very exciting for me to be able find out where they were living, what school they were attending and the plans that they had for their lives. While I will admit such websites can be a little addicting and time consuming, I do believe that when used properly and within a balance they can be another means of creating community and expressing ones creativity.

So can community be created online? I think my answer would have to be, I guess it does!

Crash - a post by Ian

I recently sat down with a friend to watch the movie “Crash”. I’ve seen this movie many times before but the reason I watched it this time is because my friend had never seen it before and I thought they really should. Anyway, usually when I watch it the same things grab my attention, like the portrayal of racism in Los Angeles, and some of the repercussions that come from such racism. But this time something else caught my attention that I never really thought of before. During the scene with the father and his young daughter (who is hiding underneath her bed because she thought she heard a gunshot), the father tells his daughter a story about a magical cloak. This cloak, given to him by a flying fairy, was meant to protect him from all of the dangers in the world, and he was supposed to pass on this cloak on his daughter’s fifth birthday. It wasn’t the idea of protection from the outside world that caught my attention, but the fact that although the story was really far fetched, because it came from her father, she believed it. This screamed out at me and made me think about how children are so vulnerable to believe whatever adolescents tell them, and a lot of what they believe comes from an opinion based upon what someone from an older generation has told us. Is this universally true? I’m not sure. But what I’m wondering is if our generation of children and the generations before are even given a chance to think for themselves anymore, or if they base their beliefs on what they are told by those they look up to.

This reminded me of two things from class this semester. Firstly, the Simpson’s episode ‘Homer the Heretic’ which we were told to watch. In one of the scenes, the Simpson family is sitting in their kitchen and Homer is talking about why he shouldn’t have to go to church and Bart (his son) gets himself all worked up into the “preach it!” type mode and therefore this is a reflection not on Bart’s beliefs, but himself mirroring what Homer is saying. It is basically justifying it, with the though “if dad can do it, so can I.” The second thing this reminded me of was the Smith reading, who suggests that what we think is often triggered by the media and most of the time we are not prone to think for ourselves anymore.

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The Marine - a post by Andrew

The Marine is about a man who was discharged by the U.S. Navy and is having a hard time fitting in. Because of this, he and his wife decide to take a holiday to the mountains so John Triton can get used to not being in the army. When his wife gets kidnapped by some murdering thieves he stops at nothing to get back his wife and kill the bad guys.

Getting ready to sit down to watch this movie I know what I was in for from the very start, a straight up action movie in the vain of the 80's, big explosions, over the top action scenes and bad acting. But let’s be honest, does one ever come to one of these movies look for either a story or acting. I will be honest here, I love these movies, I grew up on them and today will waste an hour and a half to two hours just watching this kind movie. So looking back at this kind of movie; one keeps score like this; how many car got blown up, how many building got blown up, how many people got killed. The Marine stacks up well with all it predecessors that have gone before it. Here is the score; three building got blown up, one of them being a gas station which was the biggest one of the movie. Three cars got blown up, one of them was blown up by a RPG (which is a rocket launcher). Ten people were killed, the worst being thrown from a moving transport truck into the windshield of a bus. This movie is a lower rated version of Commando staring Arnold Schwarzenegger.

So watching this movie was not as bad as I thought it was going to be. I mean there is a lot of negative criticism against a wrestle playing the main character thanks by in large by Hulk Hogan. But I did enjoy watching this movie, the action scene were good, the story somewhat bad but not horrible. I saw myself a few times getting excited about the explosions and the action scenes and almost cheering when Triton killed one of the bad guys. I guess you could say that I was getting lost in the action and that was not wrong, I was and it was a waste of an hour and a half.

I remember when I first looked at this picture, I thought, "what a cute, happy child." You may think the same... in fact, I sure hope you do, because he is just like any other cute little boy. I'm trying to be sneaky, I do have more information about this boy that maybe I should give you. He was born in St. Joseph, Kansas on October the 17th, in 1972, to Debbie Nelson when she was only 15, named after his father, Marshall Mathers Jr, now into his 30's he is known as Marshall Mathers III. If you're still confused, this little boy is better known in the Pop Culture world as Eminem. Is the kid still cute?

As I said, my first thought was "what a cute, happy child," but as I learned who this little boy was the thought continued to, "what happened?" Maybe this needs a bit more explanation first. There is a reason why this topic interested me so much. I was actually doing some work for Canada Youth Culture, because the syllabus said we need to listen to some songs by Eminem. The textbook is a little out of date, because Eminem isn't so popular anymore, but it reminded me of a time, less than a few years ago, BEFORE I was a Christian, when I would listen to music like this all the time. I never really thought of it then. But to get the songs for class, I called up one of my friends and asked her to send me some of my old music. One song in particular that I used to really like was the song "Square Dance." Before I was a christian I was having major problems with my family life and church, and before I was a Christian, I felt that this song did an extremely good job at expressing my anger at towards the Church.

But as I listened to it this time, I listened as a Christian. I have no anger towards the church, and I know Jesus as my God and Saviour and I thank him as often as I can for every blessing. So as I listened, I couldn't help but realize not how hateful the music was, but more how angry the music was. Yeah, it can be argued that these two emotions are extremely similar, but just keep reading. That's when my friend showed me this picture. I was perplexed... how could that little boy in the photo be so incredibly angry as a 30 year old? What happened? That's when I noticed, to my extreme surprise, my intense feeling of compassion, and sorrow that someone could have been so hurt to be that angry.

At this point, I sat in my dorm room, and I realized how some people at Tyndale are so blind to their own ignorance. Last year, I arrived in September, having being a Christian for such a short time, I remember having so many conversations with other students on the topic of Eminem. They had a wide range of comments, expressing their hatred for Eminem and his anti-christian attitude. So at this point I would ask what songs the know by Eminem, and they would name "Slim Shady Please Stand Up" (the actual name of the song is "The Real Slim Shady") or the song "My Name Is." Those were the only songs they knew of by Eminem. Then, what I found the funniest, was that most would admit to never, not once hearing these songs.

Before I go any further, it must be noted, I'm NOT talking about all Tyndale students here, and I am NOT saying that Eminem's music doesn't have violent, vulgar, and anti-christian language. I am merely using Tyndale as an example of the Christian community as a whole. Its the same every church I go. SO many Christians have SO much to say about D-12, yet know nothing about the group, or its leader. The way I see it, if you're going to criticize any music, at least listen to it first. I listened to Eminem most of my life, There are thousands of "Eminems" in the world, and I feel that rather than looking at him with hatred, and prejudice, they should be viewed with compassion, and care. We should look at this picture and think, "What went wrong? How can we as Christians prevent it?" Before I was a Christian my reasons for being angry with the church were because people viewed me in a similar way they viewed Eminem. But viewing people in this way only furthers the problem. Eminem himself says this "quit giving me my ammo / Can't you see why i'm so mean? if y'all leave me alone, this wouldn't be my M.O." is a line from his song "My Dad's Gone Crazy." (M.O. means Modus Operandi, and is a police term for "Mode Of Operation").

So I hope this doesn't offend anyone, again, I'm not saying every person at Tyndale, or every Christian is like this, I just notice a lot of people are. And I'm not saying we should all go out and listen to Eminem, but if you are someone with this point of view, maybe we can look on these people with compassion, and the love of Christ, rather than condemning them.

Those are just the thoughts that came across as I saw the picture, I just found it interesting and sad that that little boy could grow into the person he is now. No one should have to endure pain like that, the hard part is trying to communicate Christ's love to someone in his position.

Is GTA to blame - a post by Aaron

Is Grand Theft Auto to blame?
By: Aaron Liscombe

When I was playing the video game Grand Theft Auto: San Andreas I found it very entertaining. Running around shooting people, stealing cars and drugs, joining gangs and starting wars and assassinating random people was more fun then it should have been. After the prostitute came into my car and did her services and the random girls running around in thong bikinis I started to second-guess the morals and values of the game. Although it was fun living the “bad life” through a video game, I came to realize that it was not the best game to play as a Christian. Satan does lure us with many tempting things. Obviously, that does not mean that they are good. Grand Theft Auto is a very entertaining game, but does promote pretty much every sin imaginable.

I don’t think that games like these have negative impacts on everyone, but it definitely does not promote anything that is good or Christ-like in any manner. The stories I have heard about kids playing games like this is beyond crazy. Different forms of media influence many people. To some, media runs their lives. Not only is killing a person and sleeping with prostitutes absolutely morally wrong, but this game makes it fun to do these kinds of things. The only negative impact it has on the person playing the game is police chase and try to kill them. In turn, the gamer also gets to kill the police. If the character (CJ) in the game does die, or gets busted, then they only lose a few thousand dollars and they are right back into the killing and stealing fun again. This game allows people to do the worst things they could imagine and have no consequences at all. They are able to just die and come back to life whenever they want.

When you think about how far video games have come since the very first game to the newest Playstation 3 it is crazy. From the game like Pong, to the newest Grand Theft Auto that is about to come out. Not only the graphics have changed and not only the video game industry changed. It is like the world is getting more and more violent and less moral every day. As if the only values people have is money, sex, and a good time. Can we blame violent games like Grand Theft Auto for this outcome? I believe they do have some influence, but minor compared to other things like bad parenting, awful role models like Eminem and Paris Hilton, and the lack of God in peoples lives. I don’t think that video games have a huge influence in people’s lives. It is more of the people that youth look up to. It is the false guidance that the youth’s role models give that is turning this world into a literal hellhole. If you are looking for something and someone to blame for the outcome of today’s youth, look at the relationships they have with their parents and at the people who they actually look up to for advice and guidance. Don’t use youths past time as an excuse of why people turn out the way they do. Look at the source of the problem, which are the relationships with their role models. This does not take away that Grand Theft Auto is an immoral video game, but it is not the cause of continual downfall of humanity. It is just a mere outcome of what the world has become.

Monday, February 05, 2007

The Pursuit of Happyness

Genre: Drama (your average Hollywood film)
Rating: 3/5 stars ***

Based on the life of Chris Gardner, a self-made millionaire, this drama stars Will Smith as a poor salesman who struggles to make 'ends-meat' for his family. Set in San Francisco in the year 1981, Gardner hopes of scoring big by selling a revolutionary a medical bone density scanner leaves him disappointed when he fails to sell them to hospitals. His life is a make up of constant obstacles through homelessness, jail time, stolen assets, and parking tickets. However, he is given some hope when Dean Witter, the president of a brokerage firm, offers him an internship program that he could not refuse.

On Saturday (Feb 3rd), I made a trip to Waterloo for the second time this year for two purposes: university small group and visiting my girlfriend. Small group didn't start until late afternoon, so my girlfriend, Jacqueline, and I decided to catch a movie at the local Galaxy Cinema. It's been a while since I sat in a theater to watch a movie, maybe because this form of entertainment is a little overpriced for starving students like me. Thankfully, I was given some gift cards over the Christmas break which made it possible for me to embark into another theatrical experience like this one. We ended up watching, Pursuit of Happyness. We didn't know too much about the plot or content; I just heard good things about it from friends and family. I don't know if there's a target age group that the theater caters to (although there were many seniors), but my experience felt like another high school dating ritual. Maybe because I was alone with my girlfriend and we purchased over-sized drinks and popcorn (we usually don't, but it was part of the gift card deal), which made the atmosphere very teeny-bopperish to say the least. I think a good way of looking at it is an episode of Save by the Bell, where more than 80% of dates happen in a theaters. Oh well...despite the Zach and Kelly moment, the purpose was to enjoy a quality Hollywood film, no hanky-panky. :p

I say Hollywood, because there is nothing more to this movie than your average American film. The message is clear in this movie: Money means happiness. Pursuit of Happyness is just another way of telling us how important it is for people of the United States to pursue the American Dream. Maybe an alternative title is, The Pursuit of the American Dream. Although, I can give credit to the screenplay writer for doing a great job at depicting a person's world view in life. Nevertheless, Jacqueline and I did enjoy this movie for the father and son relationship of Chris and Christoper Gardner Jr...from the eye-tearing and heart throbbing moments to messages of determination and hope. “Don't ever let someone tell you that you can't do something.” “You got a dream, you gotta protect it...You want something? Go get it. Period.”

Pursuit of Happyness? Nice try, but no cigar.

The Jack Bauer Experience - a post by Mark

For a couple years now, it has been tradition that I, my best friend Mike, my Mom and anyone else who is brave enough, attempt to watch an entire season of ‘24’ in real time – a veritable 24 hour marathon. Entranced by a captivating plot, and mesmerized by charismatic characters, we sit and stare and watch with absolute attention as Jack Bauer, a federal agent with the Counter Terrorist Unit, time and time again saves the day.

I approach this marathon with great anticipation. I plan for weeks to be able to set aside the time that it requires. It is an escape for me – something that I allow to completely occupy my thoughts for a 24 hour period. I don’t think about school or work; about family or friends – I just allow myself to live vicariously through the experiences of Jack Bauer, and somehow, to be wholly entertained by it. After watching the first episode, I experience a familiar reaction. I am clearly hooked – propelled by an ever-increasing desire to experience the thrill of the unending suspense, and the ‘cliff hanger’ endings of each episode. As I continue to watch, I can feel my pulse racing as the plot intensifies. I begin to participate in debates – often heated ones - regarding the likely conclusion to the various scenarios and subplots. Radical twists in the plot are unexpected, and leave me shaking my head in disbelief, and madly searching for possible solutions to the overwhelming problems that Jack seems to repeatedly face. Over and over again, the tension and anxiety in the room is palpable, and I find myself needing a break – some time to let the typically violent reality of what I have observed, sink in. As time progresses, I feel myself becoming completely submerged – both mentally and emotionally - in the plot. At the time, I find the storyline - as unbelievable as it may actually be - to be quite believable. I don’t seem to notice that Jack never seems to sleep, and yet is never tired; he never eats, and yet is not hungry; he is able to make split second decisions that could ultimately affect the future of the world, and yet seems to experience little observable anxiety. I find myself identifying wholly with his sense of commitment; believing in his ability; and watching, never disappointed, as he, single-handedly it seems, brings a crisis situation to resolution. He is, in my mind, a hero of the highest order.

As I continue to watch, however, a curious phenomenon takes place. The action and suspense seem to have less appeal for me, and I find myself participating in an analysis of Jack Bauer’s rather complex character. I notice that I am increasingly troubled and perplexed by his endless personal struggles, and find that his personal failures seem to lessen, in my mind, the effect of his professional successes. He becomes, for all intents and purposes, more of a pathetic hero, and I am overwhelmed by a sense of compassion for him. Though he does good work, his motivation is firmly rooted in feelings of bitterness, anger and revenge. As a result, any experience of success is an empty one for him. Powerless to deal with his personal demons, the ‘saviour’ is himself, truly in need of salvation. As the show concludes, I find myself thinking about the futility of man’s efforts to solve his own problems and to heal his own hurts – both personally and globally, and grateful, on a personal level, for a knowledge and understanding of the forgiveness and peace that is only available through relationship with Jesus Christ.

All in all, the marathon experience was an emotional rollercoaster for me. Though I was physically tired at the end, I was totally emotionally exhausted. Feelings of exhilaration and suspense, as Jack experienced the thrill of professional victory, were tempered by feelings of pity and compassion as these same victories seemed hollow in light of the agony of his repeated personal failures and defeats. Not totally disillusioned, I will watch the show again, but next time hopefully more with my brain than with my heart.

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the Superbowl - a post by Jeanette

Having gone to my second Super Bowl Party ever, I began to realize the big hype over something that is actually interesting to watch. Although I have never been much of a football fan, or sports fan for that matter, and have sat through only two whole games (both Super Bowl games), football is quite entertaining. I have seen youth (girls included) get so excited to watch the Super Bowl and never really understand what the big deal was. Now I begin to understand.

While watching the game, I began to understand a little more about how football is actually played. It’s not just about the player running around, bumping into each other and beating each other up, it’s about the game itself. It’s about getting that all important touch down. I actually learned a little about field goals, touchdowns and first or second downs (which I still don’t totally understand). My reason for going to the party was the food, but I came away with a little more knowledge on a game that I watch once a year.

So, next year this time, you may find me at another party. But this time I may understand the game.

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The Death of Hip-Hop - a post by Geoff

One of the things that I have thought about speaking on is the state of Hip-Hop. Recently there have been a lot of older artists, saying that Hip-Hop is dead. In a way I agree with these legends. I am upset to see what state it is in right now; as all it talks about is sex, drugs and violence.

Some people might say that it has always seemed that way. To a degree yes, however I started listening to Hip-Hop when I was 12 years ago, just before it attacked the mainstream. This is back when it was unheard of for a white kid such as myself; to listened to more than just the Beastie Boys. I was more diverse than that; I listened to KRS-ONE, Rakim and RUN-DMC, who never got hardcore about those vices.

For me that was the prime of Hip-Hop. Other people would have to agree with this statement. However, during the time of Biggie Smalls and 2Pac it had finally broke into the mainstream, giving Varity to new listeners.

The way that Rap or Hip-Hop is now is a joke. It is all these ‘fools’ for the south and mid –west that have taken over and made it ridiculous. Just as some rappers blamed the West coast for the original perversion of Hip-Hop; such as Common. The rappers that are coming out now have no substance and have little to no ability. Strangely it all jumped off by a small MC out of New York named Curtis Jackson, a.k.a. 50 cent. An underground rapper who had been shot 9 times after calling out some Hip-Hop legends. From the birth of 50 cent, the Hip-Hop world has been sent into a downward Spiral. It got to a point were it does not matter about your abilities on the mic; regarding lyrics and flow. It’s all about marketing and what has happened to them. I would say about 90% of all rappers from the south and surrounding areas wouldn’t have been able to make it into Hip-Hop 8 years ago. Not because they would be too young to rap, but because they are garbage. Most of them lack talent and substance. Now since it is a huge hype-fest, anyone that is marketable is given a deal. For example Kevin Federline and groups like Dem Franchise Boyz; that the youth that come into my drop in listen to. It is getting outlandish, with these talent less thugs who get into the game because they know top people in the music business. Nobody puts in the hard work that is needed, but they still get rewarded. This goes against the all of the hard work their predecessors had to put in, just to get a demo. If this wave of garbage continues Hip-Hop will be dead and possible gone for good.

However there is still a little hope there are two new artists who could be the potential saviors of Rap and Hip-Hop. They are Saigon and Joe Budden. These two guys have had mainstream battles. But could not last because they are not marketable. Yet they rule the underground and mixtape world. With phenomenal lyrics, steady flow, and Hip-Hop fundamentals. They have a chance to succeed were others have failed. Nevertheless the over side if these two do not get help anytime soon. Then true Hip-Hop will die and garbage will prevail.

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Sunday, February 04, 2007

The OC - a post by Jessica

Over the Christmas holidays and during the past few weeks, I’ve had some time to catch up on pretty much the year or two of t.v. show’s that I’ve missed out on from being too busy with going to school full-time and working crazy hours. One of which being…are you ready for this? The OC. Yep you caught me, I am now the newest member of the crazed OC fan club. But why? You might ask. I think the more important question is not so much why I like it, but why do we as general youth get so caught up in shows like this?

Well, for me (maybe this is a girl thing, I’m not to sure but…) I find teen drama shows like this are somewhat of an emotional outlet. There are times when you get caught up in the drama and the similar issues in your life that the characters are going through and on some level you can feel a connection. Whether it’s struggling with depression, parent’s divorce, an eating disorder, or abuse, the constant drama in this show, somewhere is some teen’s reality.

As much as there are times where I don’t agree with things that happen on the show or the way some of the issues dealt with or brushed off as not being important, I feel that a lot can be learned from it. As we minister to youth, we can use shows like this that are relevant to them as a common ground to get to the root of those issues that are prominent in so many of their lives.

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Stomp the Yard - a post by Josh

On Friday (Feb. 2/07), I headed off to AMC to check out Stomp the Yard. I expected the usual mix teen movie clichés to work their way into this movie, making it unbearable to watch, but I was pleasantly surprised by how good it was. Though elements from past teen movies like You Got Served, Save the Last Dance, Drum Line, and Step Up creep their way into Stomp the Yard, to me it was still far superior to all of them.

Music is obviously a main element in this movie, not only because it revolves around the world of dancing, but because music a key aspect of hip hop and urban culture. I expected the music in Stomp the Yard to be exclusively rap, but it ended up being an eclectic mix of rap and at some points in the movie, a mix of rock and dance. I must say that the music used in this movie was awesome.

Stomp the Yard conveys positive messages to teens. So often African American teens are portrayed negatively in media, but Stomp the Yard provided the audience with a glimpse into Truth University. DJ, the main character, finds himself at this school after a less than productive adolescence. The stereotypical wild parties that are synonymous with teen movies are replaced with the scenes showing DJ working on school work, busting his butt at his part-time landscaping job and putting hours of practice into his dancing. It was refreshing to see an African American teen depicted in a positive way in a movie that is heavily marketed towards teens.

Dance as a cultural aspect is prevalent in Stomp the Yard. Urban/hip hop dancing and stepping are the main ways this cultural element is expressed, but the movie continues to show a positive side when DJ and April (the girl he ends up with) slow dance in a scene. This was another refreshing aspect of the movie, instead of the typical sexually charged dancing that usually is shown in teen movies, DJ and April share a much tamer dance together.

Stomp the Yard was much better than I thought it would be. I was expecting another stupid teen movie, but was pleasantly surprised.

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Call of Duty 3 - a post by Andrew

So the other day I was both watching and playing the new Xbox 360 game Call of Duty 3. This game is a first person shooter which you are placed in the middle of World War 2. I, myself am not a big time “gamer” however I do enjoy the odd gun battle with some friend with of course the use of a game system. But as I was playing this game, I noticed not only that it was in High Definition ( that comes with the Xbox 360, and the TV my family has), but just how detailed the graphics were. The graphics seem to be getting better with these games year after year. This game was unbelievably real, which I guess is a weird statement. I just couldn’t get over how real the experience was. As I sat back and watched a few rounds, there was only 3 controllers and usually the person in last place had to hand it over, which ended up being me more often then not, I noticed something very interesting. I think as the games keep getting more and more real, the people playing start romanticizing the game situation. So in this case, World War 2 became cool, and exciting, and real. I think this especially hit a chord with me as my Grandpa was in WWII. Although he came back safely and is in fact still alive at age 88, I couldn’t imagine this is what he would have wanted the War to be remembered by. I mean people lost their lives, mothers lost children, wives husbands, husbands wives, children lost parents, and families lost their homes and freedom, in the fight for freedom. Yet this war game on Xbox 360, this crystal clear picture of you as a soldier, seems so shallow, so trivial. When one plays it they see war as levels to get through, as something fun. Yet this isn’t what war did to people. War is real, so real people’s lives were changed forever, and the creators of this game seemed to have forgot this. After thinking about this I wondered about all video games, the fact that they place you in this fantasy world that is so far from reality. Don’t get me wrong, I don’t think I am going to give playing as myself as the top defensemen in the NHL in the NHL 06 video game. But I wonder if video games are so popular because they are away from reality. I wonder if there was no “respawn” button, which lets you regain life after dieing, and all the real life stuff was included, whether video games would sell. The more real video games get, the further away from reality.

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Coheed and Cambria - a post by Deborah

With comic books becoming increasingly popular due to the obsession of film makers and their determination to convert, what it feels like, every comic ever written into a major motion picture, other comic type mediums are left in the dust. The graphic novel, defined by as “a novel in the form of comic strips” has been grossly overlooked by film makers, with of course the exception of Sin City, which lets be honest folks, watching that film made me want to lock my self up in an institution. It’s a daring subject to address, the graphic novel, but I knew I had to after I received, in my opinion, one of the greatest works of art I have ever read or seen.

Hailing from New York, Claudio Sanchez, is both the lead singer and creator of Coheed and Cambria, a concept band whose music is also in the form of a graphic novel. With their latest release, Good Apollo I’m Burning Star IV came the incredible work of art of the same name. It’s a 124 page graphic novel written by Sanchez, and tells a tale of love and murder through lyrics and beautiful abstract art.

I received it in the mail and twenty minutes later I had it completely read through, being in awe the entire time. I had been waiting for quite some time for this novel and when it finally arrived I was ecstatic. I was like a child on Christmas morning, and when I was finished I was like a child after they had opened their presents and had time to play with them. The novel, sucked me into the world of Coheed and Cambria in the first page, with the only utterances from me being, “oh my gosh”, “wow”, and “this is incredible”. After months of listening to the story in the form of a progressive rock/ punk sound, being able to hold the novel, seeing the art work, and reading further into the story made it that much more enjoyable. Being a fan of the music first allowed me to have a greater appreciation for what the story had to offer. I recommend both the music and the novel, however, I do extend a disclaimer that there is a little bit of swearing in both, but don’t over look incredible music and an amazing story for something as petty as that!

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Two Concerts - a post by Rebecca

It is true. I enjoy music. I love going to concerts and perhaps this is why I enjoy my role in the band Addison Drive - while I have no musical influence over them whatsoever, I am their "manager" of sorts. Though this is an interesting topic to explore, that is not the nature of this blog. This blog that I am writing about is centered around two seperate concerts that I recently attended. One concert was in a venue downtown Toronto - the other in a church in Oshawa.

Do you know what the major difference was between the two? Take a wild guess....the location? Ok, I suppose that was different as I had to drive a it farther to Toronto than I did to Oshawa. The music? Not so much...both places had very talented bands playing. The audience? No...both had young adults and teenagers present. The light show? Of course the church did not have as many lights, but they were still present. Then what was the major difference you might ask? I have asked myself this very question many many times. Yes, the church was better supervised than a downtown Toronto venue and alcohol was sold or permitted there! But other than that, the two shows were so similar! The bands set up, played their set, were cheered by the audience at the end of every song and packed up their gear for home at the end of the night. Both concerts had talented people on stage doing what they do best - playing music. Both concerts even had Christians behind the mic saying God gave them their talent and they owe everything they have to Him.

I told someone this last week and I was surprised by their reaction...they were upset that there was a concert at a church that was comparable to a concert downtown Toronto! I couldn't even grasp their frustration, but there it was right before me. And before I knew what I had started, a can of worms had been opened. I am still astonished at their reaction. Out of this individual's rantings, I heard them say that God never intended the church to become a concert hall....umm....excuse me, but didn't Jesus call us to use our individual giftings for his Glory? And if that means a group of people have started a band to bring teenagers into the church and tell
them what God has already accomplished in their lives, isn't that a good thing? (I definately could have made the conversation even more interesting by bringing worship music into the debate, but I chose not to do so!) I am so proud that we have talented, creative individuals within the church who are comparable with the bands playing downtown Toronto in large venues! And I'm so thankful that there are churches willing to allow individuals to express their creativity to this generation of youth - whether thats through concerts, art galleries or other outlets within the church.

Anyways, those are my thoughts. I had a great time at both concerts meeting teenagers and youth adults. The music was amazing...did I mention that Addison Drive played at both shows? I think I forgot to tell that person ranting the same thing.

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American Virgin #1 (comic) - a post by Jason

"American Virgin" is a mature readers-title from Vertigo following the life of a 20-year old travelling youth minister. Adam Chamberlain is a national speaker for the chastity movement, and he's engaged to Cassie, the one girl he believes God has said is the only woman he can ever know intimately.

I read the entire first issue online. I warn you it is a mature readers title, including language and nudity. I am not sure if I would buy the comic myself- but it addressed a lot of the questions of morality- how do I judge if it is OK for me to read or buy a magazine or watch a movie? By the language? sexuality? violence?

The story introduces Adam, who's struggling with his sexuality but hiding his own struggle from others. His mother is a bitter, hypocritical evangelical who hides her past sins. His brother smokes pot. His sister has been disenfranchised from the family. There are a ton of questions raised by this comic- how are Christians seen? Is there some truth to what the writer tells us about evangelical culture? (The writer said in an interview he was brought up in a hell-and brimstone Baptist church) It also addresses the "sacred/secular" split and how Christians are 'sheltered' from the real world.

At the end of issue, Adam finds out that his fiance- the only one God said he was supposed to ever know intimately- has been beheaded while doing missionary work in Africa. What will that do to the character's faith?

I chose this preview for my artifact simply because it forces me as a reader to ask myself tough questions I might not ask otherwise- about sexuality, death, western, religion and Christian culture. What Gospel am I preaching? While I do not know what will happen to Adam, I hope not to become religious, but become the incarnation of Jesus Christ to others- to walk in love and grace and give it away. And I'll do it without the WWJD bracelet.

for a six-page preview

Interview with the writer of the series:

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Stomp the Yard - a post by Jason

The movie "Stomp the Yard" is about a young man leaving the streets of Los Angeles to pursue University and gets involved in a street-stepping dance championship known as "stomping."

The movie starts out with DJ Williams, his brother and his gang get into a brawl after winning an underground dance championship. DJ's brother is killed in the brawl and he is thrown into jail for getting into the fight. His uncle tries to help bail him out by sending him to Truth University, an African-american university in Atlanta. DJ becomes intrested in the step-dancing competition and joins one of the frat clubs He also tries to win the heart of a girl who's boyfriend is the captain of the opposing team.

As a movie, it was pretty good, but formulaic. The best thing I got this movie was exposure to a culture I'm not a part of. As a culture study, the movie looks at fraternities, education, hip-hop, African-american culture, love, brotherhood, community, street dancing and more. It was interesting to see that in 2006, we still have segretation between the races in the states. Truth University was exclusively african-american.

The movie seemed to emphasize the importance of getting a good education, and that this knowledge (as well as the frat DJ is a part of) is what shapes DJ into a good individual. There's a lot that could be commented on that-does knowledge makes us good? Heck, is Greek philosophy a good system of education? I throw it out there that the Bible writers were Hebrew, NOT Greek thinkers.

For me, this movie made me ask some tough questions- How can I become the incarnation of God to these people? Does that mean I have to go a to night-club, go to a bar, or experience hip-hop?

I leave you with these questions to think about.

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Among the many useless tidbits of information found on the web I ran across a most interesting web site with the premise of a ninja answering questions. However, most of the time the ninja uses a play on words and changes the entire meaning of the question. Hence sometimes the question is never answered, but a podcast is created. In other examples, the ninja will change a word by inserting ninja, or NIN into the word to make it only apply to ninjas.

What I found interesting is in how the podcasts have developed throughout the episodes. This is a fairly new show that is produced on what seems every two weeks. As of this post the thirty-second podcast was aired, which would thus make it barely over a year old. In this short span it has had three different background changes and a major overhaul in the editing and costume departments.

I would like to say that I watch this podcast every time it is aired, but I tend to go back once a month and watch the last couple of podcasts that I have missed. The reason I watch it is it is very humorous. I do believe that it would be funny to many types of audience, and not only to my worldview. This is because the puns and jokes are from basic things that many of us can relate to. In essence, this ninja has made a world of his own and shares it every week. This in no way has any real relevance to what is going outside of this website.

What I dislike about this site is the commercialism that has intruded upon the site. The podcasts will now start with a 'brought to you clip' and end with something they want to sell to you. This
was not always the case, and I understand the financial aspect of running a site like this. However, I feel that I have to avoid consumerism everywhere else I go in life, why can't a fun website stay away from it?

In all, this web site can be seen as another site to waste your time on, or it can be scene as comic relief to a world that on a general basis needs it.

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