Monthly Archives: March 2009

Melanie Fiona presents ‘The Bridge’

I’m a firm believer that we as humans are all artists. Some dance, some sing, some write. Those that don’t partake in the typical forms of artistry still have a sense of expressionism that makes them artists as well. We naturally find security in our ability to communicate with one another and often times find ourselves either seeking the approval or just the sheer satisfaction of being heard, seen, felt, or understood by others.

We all should know by know that I love film. We also should know that I’m very observant and opinionated. Like it or not, these are examples of my artistic abilities bestowed upon me without my approval or consent but simply characteristics that make me an expressionist. But there are other characteristics in me that mold the way I express; I’m compassionate, sensitive, and apathetic yet I am argumentative, strong-willed and often stubborn. But it makes me who I am and I choose to embrace these characteristics and use them to express my thoughts, feelings and concerns.

In this post I’m going to profile my first musical entry from an artist I stumbled upon online. It’s not hard to see why I became so intrigued by this woman either. One, she’s gorgeous and has a smile that could resurrect Giacomo Cassanova from his grave. Two, her voice made me thank God for the gift of hearing. But most of all, her personality is more embracing than any of her physical features and left me wanting to learn more about her, the person, and appreciate what has become of her, the artist.

Get to know Melanie Fiona.

I love the grittiness of this electronic press kit. The images are raw and real, the lyrics match and Melanie Fiona delivers stories of happiness and sorrow that’s pleasant to the ear. I won’t say she’s a “breath of fresh air” because being cliche would be disrespectful to her originality. But the newness of her sound, soulfulness and personality has me anticipating the release of ‘The Bridge.’

Go online to find out more:

http://www.youtube.com/user/melaniefionatv

http://www.myspace.com/melaniefiona

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Filed under Film, Music, Photography, The B2 Xpress

The Unsolved Mystery

Relationships…

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Have I scared some of you away already? And you, the one who just took that deep breath…relax. It’s just a blog.

All humans participate in relationships in some shape, form or fashion but not all of us know how to operate as ourselves in them. A relationship  – according to my own opinion – has common denominators; those factors being more than one party being involved in one common goal or purpose. We experience relationships with family members, coworkers, significant others, pets, even our automobiles or other modes of transportation. If you neglect your part in the relationship, more than likely the relationship will fail.

In this post, I’ll dissect common errors made by both men and women (so please don’t approach me with neck rolls and finger snaps ladies because some of this may hit home with you…and fellas, please don’t use my words as law with your ladies without thinking it all the way through first).

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True story…

A man see’s a woman at the bowing alley as they both entertain the company of their own parties but the attraction between the two is insanely obvious. They smile, then go back to bowling with their respected friends, but check back with each other and smile again ever so often. Even though they are both adults, they do childish things like time each others departure by saying loudly, “I’m gonna go to the snack bar. I’ll be right back!” as a hint to the eavesdropping potential significant other to do the same. And of course, they do.

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At the snack bar, the conversation is even more of your typical girly movie dialogue. You know, the “Hey, I couldn’t help but notice…” and the “I hope I wasn’t staring too much” blah blah blah.  But it works.  They exchange numbers and go back to where there friends are and continue with the flirtatious looks and banter.

Fast forward…

They’ve been on several dates and have now made their relationship official.  Nothing negative can penetrate their love for each other.  Friends are starting to ask when wedding bells will be ringing.

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Fast forward some more…

They’ve had their first few arguments and disagreements but the love and romance is stronger so they push forward.  Signs of discomfort with certain behaviours from both have been pointed out but neither wants to make a huge deal of it because the relationship is still fresh and fun.

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Fast forward even more…

Now, dates are just what you usually do instead of what you want to do.  He still slurps his spaghetti and she still tells her girlfriends all their business.  Her friends begin to suggest she move on to another guy while his friends plan more game parties with beer, fried chicken and more beer.  This is where the relationship truly begins.

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It’s very easy to point the finger at the other person and put the blame on them but how often do we actually look at ourselves and ask if we’ve done we can to save the relationship?  In a relationship, all parties have a specific job to do in every situation you’re faced with.  If one person is doing the steering then the other should be responsible for the navigation.  If the navigator decides to reach for the wheel, then both of you end up crashing into a traumatic death.  This is true in all bonds between humans, even if it doesn’t involve another human being.

If you keep your dog caged up for days without any exercise or you mistreat it everytime you see it, you can bet your last dollar that when it gets its chance to flee it will.  Don’t say, “Get back here you stupid dog” when it happens.  If you neglect to change the oil in your car or drive it like your on the Indy 500 race cicuit, eventually the motor or the transmission will fail on you.  Don’t say, “Why are you doing this me?” when it happens.  If you report to work late and leave early, sooner than later you’ll be replaced.  Don’t say, “I don’t know why they fired me” when it happens.

I’ve always been skeptical of those who point fingers or those who stand by and let their relationships die.  I still get mad when I watch the Discovery Channel and the cameraman follows the starving lion around until it dies.  Why not toss the poor animal one of those hot dogs he’s eating?

So, know your role and understand it.  Respect the situation you’re in and never compare yours to someone else’s.  And last but not least, put your best effort into your relationship at all times, even when things are bad.  If all else fails, the last the you can say is you stood by and watched your relationship fail.

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Commercial Ads

Today, I’d like to pay homage to those advertising agencies, freelance publicity councils and lowly respected mail room attendee’s who may have been responsible for some of my favorite television ads.  This format of communication isn’t an easy thing to do and usually isn’t noted until the Superbowl when advertising cost per minute are upwards the seven figure dollar amount.  In this post, I’d like to point out a few of my favorites from the past and present and outline what makes them so special to me.

First, let’s consider what goes into producing one of these ads.   The hired agency has a message to deliver, a company or organization to profile and a product or service to sell, typically within a 30-60 second time span.  After these intities have been determined, a concept for the advertisement is developed – usually just ideas that’s been agreed upon by the agency and the client.  After that, a dialogue script is written, visual directors and/or animators are hired, actors are casted, and the message begins to be conveyed.  It’s an art form typically done with a team of people who may work on a 30 second project full time for weeks or more.  Although the finish product may run short in time in comparison to the hours spent producing it, if done correctly, the results can be endless.

First up, an old school favorite.

This ad was created in 1984 and is most memorable for the catch phrase – a line remembered by almost anyone over the age of 25 – “Where’s the beef?”  Not much to it; there’s a set with a simple backdrop, three actors – of which only two even speak – and a prop.  The message is fed to it’s viewers by commentary but it’s still remembered until this day.  It’s purpose – of course – is to win over fast food customers from McDonald’s to Wendy’s by comparing it’s burgers to one another.  We never even get to see what Wendy’s has to offer in the ad but the message was strong enough to deliver results.

This commercial advertisement is more of a PSA (Public Service Announcement) that was used in the late 80’s when the drug epidemic ran rampid in urban cities.

Another simple set, a bunch of extras and dialogue from a drug dealer with a sure shock value to it.  Now, I had to have been 6, maybe 7 when I first saw this commercial and I’d just gotten used to watching the Incredible Hulk alone without having nightmares.  This, along with Michael Jackson’s ‘Thriller’ video sent chills threw my bones.  But what better way to send the message to little kids about the harms of drugs?  Telling us that years later we’d be skinny and have diseases we didn’t understand wouldn’t have worked.  But scaring the crap out of us with this ‘Snake’ character sure did it.  Too bad there weren’t characters to grow with us to remind some of us of these messages.

The last one I’ll profile is probably one of the best ever.

Sheer genius.  A simple set, two actors and two words, but the message within it speaks much more than that.  There’s comedy in it too.  But what ESPN is doing is keeping it’s viewers in tune with the sports they report on daily.  In 15 seconds, the message of going down an elevator with a devil cracks me up still.

I leave you with a few more that have come out recently – or I’m just finding out about them – that I enjoy.

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I’d like my $10.50 back, please

Film has always been a passion of mine.  What I love most about going to the theater is the anticipation of seeing pictures in motion that tell a story I ultimately appreciate, even if the topic doesn’t resonate within my personal life experiences.  But lately I’ve felt a little disappointed in some of the films that I’d anticipated most and surprised by the one’s that were below my radar.  In this post, I’ll share a few reasons as to why I became a fan of film in the past and what has lead me to be disappointed in a few films recently.

I can distinctly remember my mother dragging the entire family out to the $1 theater (I truly miss those) to see “The Last Emperor”

It was only a ten minute drive from our house to the theater but my mother gave us all – four kids and my Dad – enough background on the film and the history of China during the moment in time where the film takes place that I was extremely excited to see the story of a kid becoming ruler of China at birth. I thought Pu Yi – the Emperor – was the coolest kid ever upon arrival to the theater. But after sitting through 3+ hours of a movie at 9 years old, waking up and falling back to sleep at least three times and numerous trips to the restroom, I do remember feeling sorry for the emperor. I remember feeling blessed to have my own childhood and being able to play outside with friends, something Pu Yi couldn’t afford because of his responsibilities to his country. As my dad drove us back home I toyed with the thought of giving up my childhood to live like an emperor.  The scene where he was breast fed by a much older woman surely made my decision difficult to make (I’m not quite sure my mother was aware of this scene before viewing either…she was awfully quiet in the car going home). Nevertheless, at 9 years old I understood sayings like “The grass is always greener on the other side” and “God has a plan for us all, no matter how unfair you may think yours is” all too well due to this film.

To see Pu Yi go from being ruler of billions to fading away as a simple man gardening crops was an important lesson for me.  As a child, he was inquisitive – like myself – and had to learn of his culture and the way the world worked as he ruled.  But, what was key to his life is that no matter what a man does he matters in some capacity.

Another film that stands out to me is my favorite film ever, The Godfather. 

This is a film I’ve loved since the day I overheard my Uncle and Godfather make arrangements to have a viewing party at my uncle’s house – that I was denied entry to because of “adult activities” taking place during the party.  (I also learned later in life what this meant too.)  All the things that make me whole are in this film; family values, policy and principle, accountability, loyalty, and respecting those against you.  I was in middle school when I first saw the first of three parts of this story.  I related to the characters in this film as I’d done in The Last Emperor and pretty much all other films I’d seen prior to.  I knew Michael was special; he followed the protocol set by his father that ultimately brought success to the Corleone family.  I worried about Sonny because of his reckless abandon for violence and cutting corners.  I feared for Fredo shortly after he was introduced to the story because of his weaknesses and softness towards the family’s vigor.  But each character matters.  Each character is important.  And all characters exist in real life, no matter what your family resembles.

There were biblical references in this film as well as codes and rules respected in families and neighborhoods of all races, creeds and financial backgrounds.  Messages like “Live by the gun, die by the gun” and “Wallow in the ground with dogs, come up with fleas” were made sense due to this film.  Some people use their own life experiences to navigate through rights and wrongs, while others – such as myself – also appreciate the lessons learned by seeing people not associated with their own lives experience failure and success.

And this was the beginning of my affinity to film.  I thought it to be ingenious the way a story could be told on screen and I’ve cherished the art form for years.  Their are other favorites that I’d like to mention like E.T., Big, Scarface, and Blazzin’ Saddles to name a few but I’d go on forever and this post has to end at some point.

But lately, the film industry has changed in a way that has left me disappointed more often than expected.  It’s a catch twenty-two for me because out of my disappointment in a few films, I’ve begun writing myself.  I’ve taken the liberty to highlight one film from the past three years that were my biggest disappointments in the theater.  It’s not to say that these films were the worst films ever, it’s just that I’d expected more from them in particular over all others in that given year and was let down a little bit.

2007 – I Am Legend

Overall, I enjoyed this film but one thing concerns me about this film is the ending.  If these blood seeking thinga-majigs had more adept abilities than the best bloodhound in history and had killed all humankind – as well as dogs, cats and other warm-blooded land-roving animals – then how do hundreds of people stay safely tucked away in a colony barricaded within a three foot high stone fence remain unharmed?  I’m still waiting on an answer to that question ’til this day.  Once it’s received, I’ll change my opinion of this film.  But until then, well, it’s a disappointment.

2008 – The Day The Earth Stood Still

I saw the original film created in 1951 and even though this film was done 57 years later, it wasn’t better than the original.  So what’s the point?  After all the technological advances made inbetween nearly six decades I believe it’s criminal to do a remake that doesn’t surpass it’s predecessor. And the audacity of Scott Derrickson to deviate from the original story as if his rendition was better still has me appauled.

2009 – Watchmen

I still have lines on my forehead from straining a confused look for almost four hours of viewing this film.  Afterwords, I’d expressed my opinion of the film to my techie friends and I was then advised to read the book.  Wait a minute…Zack Snyder (the director of the film) read the book, then produced a film according to what he’d read and now I have to read the book to understand what he put in motion on film? Not to mention the over-the-top perverted scenes featured in this film that displayed Dr. Manhattan’s male anatomy and overly homosexual superheroes.  More time was spent developing the characters sexuality and anatomy than providing supporting documentation on the characters themselves.  I’m not sure what Mr. Snyder wanted me to walk away thinking from his film.

I want my $10.50 back, please…

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Filed under Film, Movies, Nostalgia, The B2 Xpress