Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Soundtrack Geekdom

I think I've admitted before to being quite the soundtrack geek. In addition to having dozens of soundtracks for notable films which I've enjoyed, I also have several soundtracks for films I haven't even seen! (The number of these albums has increased thanks to a recent deal between Ruckus music and my university.)

Here's a brief list of soundtracks for movies I don't own:

  • Lady in the Water
  • The Waterhorse
  • 300
  • Eragon
  • King Kong
  • The New World
  • Van Helsing
  • Children of Dune
  • Hunchback of Notre Dame
  • Silverado
  • Peter Pan
  • X-Men III: The Last Stand
  • Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
  • Star Wars
  • Passion of the Christ
  • A Walk To Remember
  • Elizabeth: The Golden Age
  • The Island

I also have tracks from films like Beowulf and How The Grinch Stole Christmas.

In a soundtrack, I particularly enjoy the epic strings, horns and brass, best coupled with epic choral anthems. (Howard Shore did this brilliantly, with a medieval feel perfect for Lord of the Rings.) In other words, battle songs.

Because movie trailers (even for something as simple as The Simpsons) strive to achieve epic coolness within a short trailer span of about two minutes, music companies such as Immediate Music, X-Ray Dog and Future World Music are hired specifically to create soundtracks that last less than a minute. Some of these are available for download online, some of them are playable on other music websites, and some can be recorded from their demo reels online.

Commercials for movies often lift music from other movie soundtracks too. I recognized the scope of my soundtrack geekness when I saw a TV spot for a movie called Nim's Island, and recognized James Newton Howard's score for Treasure Planet playing. Then just the other day, I saw a TV spot for the dismal failure The Golden Compass with the track "The Great Eatlon" from James Newton Howard's score for Lady in the Water playing in the background.

I can also recognize styles of certain artists now. John Williams relies heavily on horns for his scores (such as Harry Potter, Star Wars, Indiana Jones, Jurassic Park and Superman). Hans Zimmer is very all-purpose, and is the quintessential composer for a lot of films. Harry Gregson-Williams uses choir in the background, and doesn't often create very memorable themes, or if he does, he reuses them a lot. Howard Shore has to be one of my favorites. The number of themes he created for the Lord of the Rings trilogy is astounding. The depth, tone and mood of his music matches any of the beautiful moments in the Lord of the Rings movies, but could also bring to life any classic medieval story.

John Debney is famous primarily for his score Passion of the Christ, which was very ethnic, elemental and raw. Bruce Broughton relies on horns and fast-paced stringed symphonies for works such as Silverado, Homeward Bound and The Rescuers Down Under, all of which are extremely memorable and replayable scores.

Brian Tyler is most memorable to me for his "Children of Dune" CD, which had several memorable themes, and one fantastic section of music used for the first Narnia trailer (the 9-minute special trailer).

Other favorite composers include James Newton Howard, Danny Elfman, Dennis McCarthy (who created the fantastic "Star Trek: Generations" score), Alan Silvestri, John Ottman, James Horner, John Powell and Trevor Rabin.

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Who Said They Had to be Mass?

Student at D.C. Excel Institute shoots two, steals cars, police say

FAU shooting has campus in lockdown, classes canceled

Since these shootings were relatively low-profile (IE, no blood on the ground, no police running to the scene, no bodies), they don't receive as much attention as Northern Illinois University or Virginia Tech, just like the shooting by a female of classmates at a Louisiana technical college wasn't heavily covered.

But even these small incidents of crime support lawful concealed carry on college campuses. Citizens don't go armed in preparation for a mass shooting. The majority of defensive gun uses are individual encounters with robbers and attackers.

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Tuesday, April 08, 2008

Philosophy of Bumper Stickers: Extreme Pacifism

I spied this bumper sticker on campus (of all places!):

"I'm Already Against The Next War"

This perfectly characterizes the extreme "peace at any cost" pacifism that is so perilous to any society with moral scruples...a society that is looked to, as Reagan so aptly stated, as a city on a hill.

Here's a counter platitude for these extremists:

Peace is not the absence of war but the presence of justice.

Friday, April 04, 2008

Still Think I'm Crazy For Carrying A Gun in Wal-Mart?

Worker shoots up Wal-Mart
An on-the-clock Wal-Mart employee held other employees captive with a shotgun and shot up the business at 2:30 a.m. Sunday before being tackled by a co-worker and arrested by police, authorities said.

Elijah Payne, 18, of Burgaw Highway, was charged by the Jacksonville Police Department with assault with a deadly weapon with intent to kill, kidnapping, and discharging a firearm into occupied property, according to an arrest warrant.

Payne became agitated with other employees while on the job, went out to a vehicle in the parking lot and smuggled a 12-guage pump shotgun into the store inside a tent bag, said Deputy Police Chief David Shipp.

Then Payne blackened his face and entered the break room at the back of the store, which is on Yopp Road, police said.

He led employees around at gunpoint and began shooting into the walls and ceiling, investigators said.

At 2:31 a.m., Jacksonville 911 operators received the first of many calls.

Officers with the Police Department, the Onslow County Sheriff's Department and the N.C. Highway Patrol responded.

"Customers and employees were running from the business when officers arrived," Shipp said. "Since it was an active shooting situation, the officers from the JPD, the sheriff's office and the Highway Patrol pooled their resources and immediately went into the store."

While officers were going through the Wal-Mart, they heard shots being fired in the back of the store.

"Just prior to officers reaching Payne, an employee disarmed him in a scuffle," Shipp said.

"Payne was then immediately taken into custody. No one was shot."

One employee suffered a minor injury, police said.