Rear Window in Boulder

Posted by Tim Posada On 11:22 PM 0 comments
I've been in Boulder, Colorado for the past week hanging with Gar and Aubs. It's been a pretty swell time, minus my sickness which is almost gone finally. I love coming out here, though the altitude messes with my breathing. The Shelsta clan is all good people. The funny thing is, I haven't done much. Just wake up (late) hang out with the Shelstas when they're back from work, maybe watch a movie, and see how they interact with those around them. I like vacations where I can just take in the surroundings.

I bet you're wondering why I have this picture of the classic Alfred Hitchcock film. Well, Gar and Co. do this thing on Tuesdays where they all get together and watch a summer movie and, you guessed it, Rear Window was the choice tonight. I don't know why I get shocked when I find that I enjoy a film more than 50 years old. It's Hitchcock, of course I'll love it. Vertigo anyone? This one is incredibly unique. It all takes place from main character Jame Stewart's point of view as he watches what his neighbours do from his apartment, as he nurses a broken leg. The suspense builds as he witnesses a neighbour doing something odd. He's been watching these people live their monotonous lives for six weeks and he knows that something's wrong when a guy starts acting odd. The events unfold and we're there with Stewart to the end to find out if his neighbour is just trying to break to mold or is a stone cold killer. Cue awesome '50s dramatic music here.

Sidenote, isn't it sad that something is wrong when people start acting different. People suck don't they. Anyways, in Colorado until next week. Good times. Tim out.


Posted by Tim Posada On 3:30 PM 0 comments
WELCOME. WELCOME. WELCOME. I would like to formally welcome you all to the new blog. I've had some fun and grief getting it to look like this. HTML code sucks. Whoever invented the internet clearly did not have an artistic eye (frikkin' math majors). Anyway, expect some major changes. I'll be adding a lost more articles I've written in the past (edited to blog format) and I'll be updating this puppy a lot more. I wanted to use the url name "Meaningless" but it was taken, so I chose to add "magazine" to the end since the end goal is to create one. Here's my trial effort.

A few things about all the...things. The three rotating pictures at the top aren't just for show, they're links to stories and I plan to change them whenever I write something new that's worthy of being hightlighted. Everything should work, from the search engine to the "recent" and "popular" sections. I've created generic links at the top for different topics I've written about. They're labels linked to the old blog (it's all a work in process). I'm open to suggestions and if anything doesn't work, lemme know. And for all you Twitter people, I'm thinking about it--maybe I can link it to this somehow. Welp, enjoy the new dew. I've really missed posting on this thing. I keep having ideas but felt paralyzed since I wanted to update the layout. It was really annoying. In the next few weeks, expect some rants on the superhero films of 2007, why I no longer like Roger Ebert, and how excited I am about this summer and fall. Peace.

P.S. I posted this old picture for a few reasons: a) I needed to test placing an image on the new post, b) it's a great picture that embodies my hopes and dreams (ya know, being a rockstar), and c) when you fling a guitar like that it scrapes your neck, and since a lot of blood, sweat, and tears went into this thing the image of me getting scraped in the neck fits...kind of.

I just watched the series finale of Battlestar Galactica tonight. Now, to some of my friends, this comes as a relief as it won't be on as much in the house, making way for potentially less nerdy things. To them, I will simply smile and hear their latest complaints when they begin to notice the new shows, like Dr. Who or my latest rediscovery of Babylon 5. The nerd will live on. On that note, I've also been collecting a large amount of comic books lately. I have most of the Civil War story arc from the Marvel Universe, along with several trades from The New Avengers storyline. Anyways, back to BSG.

I know many people will discuss the finale with a very critical edge. My roommates didn't particularly care for the end, and I must admit I think it could have been better. But besides the nit picky, I was very satisfied. It answered many of the questions and ended with just enough ambiguity. I appreciated the finale's pace. It didn't end with a battle, but almost created a very lengthy afterward. Sure, Return of the King did this and everyone got annoyed, wondering when the credits were coming. But BSG had a lot to close off and it didn't feel the need to do that when the explosions very coming. Instead, it just revealed them naturally. To hell with the 3rd act from the screenwriter's playbook. Without giving any details away, the ending was what I expected and wanted.

I'm gonna miss this show. I know people think I'm crazy when I say this, to which my only response is you don't know, but BSG is the best show on TV right now. Its end only marks the continued downfall of television dramas. Sitcoms are doing fine, but dramas are getting thrown off TV quicker than Garfield can eat a lasagna. BSG's end means I'll have a greater reason to turn off the TV and return to my DVD collection. It deserves the Emmy for best drama. Season 4 was sensational, as were the other seasons, and it did things shows have never tried. Its brilliance lies in its ability to be remain true to itself.
It's a sci-fi show that addresses terrorism, love, God, genetics, robotics, Greek mythology, cloning, class struggle, military culture, ethics, and prophecy.
And all the while, a Bob Dylan song is playing in the background.

I'll greatly miss this show. I'm looking forward to the made-for-TV BSG film that'll premiere later this year (though it's a stand alone). And I'm also curious about the spin-off series Caprica, coming out next year. I don't know if the concept of the show will last, but I'm committed to giving it a try. The golden era of television has long been over, and BSG's exodus marks the outro of a diamond in the rough. BSG, RIP. And for that matter, TV in general, RIP.

The Story of David Comes to NBC

Posted by Tim Posada On 1:34 AM 0 comments
So iTunes is just one of the best things created since awesomeness came to the earth. Steve told me today that the pilot of the new TV show Kings was on it for free. I downloaded the hour and a half episode of the new NBC show episode titled, "Goliath" and watched it with my roommates. For those who don't know, Kings is a modern retelling of the story of King David. It's set in a fictional kingdom that functions much like how we'd imagine a place like England would if they had a king, but the setting is a mix between New York and Chicago. The architecture shots of the capital, known as Shiloh (Hebrew lovers, look it up), are incredible and truly set the stage for the show. A closer look behind the scenes also reveals some fascination stuff. Producer an director Francis Lawrence (who directed films like Constantine and I am Legend) is Catholic. Former Heroes producer Michael Green is Jewish. And another major producer (his name slips my memory, though I did hear him speak at a panel at USC last) is one of the few Muslim producers in television.

I've been curious about this show for some time and I must say, I was not let down. My roommates and myself watched it with the biblical story in mind and found that it truly set up the source material well. Few characters have the same names as in the Bible, save the lead, David Shepard (get it?) and Rev. Samuel. David's relationship with the king is one of love and confusion. Rev. Samuel is stern. The show doesn't shy away from using the name of God. Even Jonathan's character is gay, something that brings much disappointment to the king. This is a controversial debate in the David story. Some say King Saul's son was gay and others say the love he had for David was brotherly love, not romantic love. Either way, taking a side makes for great drama. The production is also wonderful, and there's a lot of butterflies throughout the pilot. At the end of the episode, butterflies (the king's favorite image to evoke in the public) land on David's head in the form of a crowd.

Watching this show, I couldn't help but see similarities between Saul's character and President Bush. We have a king who uses the rhetoric of "God" to unite people, though those close to him roll their eyes at it, but he does many things God would not approve. Rev. Samuel approaches the king and tells him he is no longer in the Lord's favor. We see a man who loves his country but doesn't admit his shortcomings. In one scene, the king's daughter proposes health care reform, but the king wants to end the war and not worry about such things. Hmmm...shameless! The king is even controlled my a brother-in-law with a substantial amount of gold. Sounds a lot like the accusations against Bush's millions in the oil business.

It's refreshing to see that as Battlestar Galactica comes to an end, there are still shows worth checking out. While most TV producers are content adding to the legion of cop and hospital shows, it's nice to see that the medium of television can still pump out an original idea. Let's see if it lasts.

I'm on the staff page!

Posted by Tim Posada On 3:52 PM 0 comments
Check out the address below, I found it funny. There should be a pic, don't know why it's not there.

So I just watched the animated cartoon Wonder Woman that came out on video last week. It was created by the same animators that created Superman: Doomsday, which was rather entertaining. As many know, I'm a huge fan of comics, though the Marvel Universe has my hearts many times more than DC Comics. Still, Wonder Woman was actually quite enjoyable, which makes her terrible costume all the more tragic. There's a reason no one has brought her story to the big screen (though Buffy creator Joss Whedon was actually begged for the job a couples years back), the outfit is dated and far too ridiculous. I was watching this cartoon and enjoying the mythology I was presented with: Amazon woman fight the god of war Aries, and after a great battle Zeus orders their queen to inprison Aries rather than slay him; years later, the Amazons live in isolation from the rest of the world until an Air Force pilot crashes on the island; Aries escapes and brings his warlust to the U.S., influencing all men towards their weaker and more violent sides; Wonder Woman, with an army of Amazon women, take on a god; Wonder Woman then finds her way back into society, finding a man to love--but he's the one waiting up for her, preparing dinner. But as I enjoyed this cartoon that had a generic feminist undertone, I couldn't help but laugh at how the costume undermines the point.

Are we really supposed to take the idea of "girl power" seriously in comics if the woman are still dressed like their dominatrix counterparts so many years ago? Wonder Woman, Catwoman, and so many more desperately need new looks. The latest trend in Hollywood has been to take their cues from the fanboy, an affectionate term for crazed fans who have dedicated years of their lives obsessing over cult phenomenons like Star Trek, Star Wars, and comics. And it should be easy to guess the sex of this cultural movement from the name and the general views of femininity often presented. I know the fanboy wouldn't want to see Wonder Womnan's costume change in any potential film versions of her, but it needs to happen. Sure, leave the red, white, and blue colours, but give her some pants and some bra support. It's been going on long enough, let the male gaze take on a different shape than it's usual sexism.

Since I'm talking about the female costume, it seems appropriate to bring up Watchmen as well. I recently turned in my review on Watchmen, in which I critiqued the film pretty intensely. The editor I send my articles in to at the newspaper emailed me back, telling me she agreed with my criticism of the film but also thought the worst thing about the film was its treatment of women. The treatment of women she's referring to is also in the graphic novel. There's a rape, an execution of a pregnant woman, and general distancing from seeing women as heroes (the Silk Spectre's number one strength in the story is her female role in relation to convincing Dr. Manhattan to save the world--something a man couldn't have done). I often don't know what to do with this part of the story, but I'll have a chance to really get into it when my Biola English class goes through the graphic novel. Writer Alan Moore is a very fatalistic man, and for these negative portrayals of women, he creates many more negative views of men. He's just fatalistic throughout the work (and, based on interviews with the man, his life seems to reflect his narrative negativity).

Comics were created for a male audience, but times are changing--though the demographic hasn't changed that much. But just because men are the primary consumers doesn't mean the adolescent bias should continue. Many are discussing how comics have been moving from low culture to pop culture to high culture. If the medium truly wants to make it to the top, it needs to cloth the females, get rid of the general stereotypes, and start to truly see things differently.

"Who Watches the Watchmen?" I did!

Posted by Tim Posada On 3:27 AM 0 comments
It's 3:30am and I just returned from watching Watchmen at a midnight showing in Red Bluff, CA. Going into the film I was plagued with several emotions. Critics really didn't care for the film, though Roger Ebert gave it 4 stars. Regardless, I had been excited for his film since I saw the first preview for it when The Dark Knight came out. After viewing it I find that I really want to see it again. It's 2hours and 43minutes long, so it's hard to remember it all. I find that I'm feeling the similar emotions as when I saw V for Vendetta (ironically, based on a graphic novel by the same writer/illustrator team as Watchmen). I liked it, though my original idea of what I thought it would look like is completely off.

I'm not going to give a long review as I will be writing one for the newspaper I submit articles to, so if you want to know my full thoughts just go to their website and download the PDF (or you could just ask me in real life). I will say that it was great to watch the movie after reading the graphic novel is based on. The director took greats pains to make this film the perfect adaptation, and it is...perhaps to a fault (more on that in the review). Still, I loved the graphic novel. It wasn't a superhero story about good and evil punching each other in the streets. It was a mystery story that ends in a very unexpected way. This isn't the left and right scenario most superheroes face. This is that gray area most superheroes don't seem to find themselves in. That's why Watchmen is such an important piece of superhero literature and an important piece of literature in general. TIME magazine has this one in their top 100 American literary works written since 1920. Imagine that, a major magazine has Watchmen on the same list as The Great Gatsby, Lolita, and A Clockwork Orange. Makes sense, it is that good.

I won't give anything away, but I will say the film is completely worth the price of admission for those who want to see a superhero film expand the genre's scope. It's not as good as The Dark Knight but it's an enjoyable film. Actually though, I really wanted to write this post because the film got me thinking about my top 5 favourite superheroes again and I wanted to update my list with a little more detail.
5. Gambit: there's something about a southern dude who turns playing cards into kinetic energy and throws them at his enemies; also, his uncertain loyalties make him very interesting.
4. Green Lantern: a regular dude given the power of the gods in the form of a ring; it's like Lord of the Rings stuff but with more green and aliens.
3. Wolverine: I can't help it, he's just great; Hugh Jackman brought him to life and the different versions of him in the comics are cool; he's the ultimate assassin in the Ultimate X-Men and the Weapon X storyline is so intriguing.
2. Rorschach: You'll see him in Watchmen; the uncompromising anti-hero with a strict code of honor; he's methodical, crazy, and, in the film, the inkblots on his mask continually change--so cool.
1. Captain America: I know, why would I love a character that was created to motivate soldiers in WWII; yet there's something intriguing about him; a classic hero trying to survive in contemporary America; and he leads the rebellion against the government when it decides to force all superheroes to register; interesting how he reflects this country--especially when he's assassinated and his sidekick Bucky, who was once brainwashed into a super soldier for Russia and now uses excessive force when he pleases, becomes Cap.

Pop Culture from the Margins

Posted by Tim Posada On 2:19 AM 0 comments
Last semester I taught pop culture and had a few students that had some amazing papers that I thought they should share with the school and they got that chance on Wednesday with Common Day of Learning at APU. The students did a great job and had quite a crowd. I put together a panel of three students and myself and they were able to speak for a full room. All the seats were taken and many others were sitting against the back wall. Not bad for an event that took place at 9:30am. The title of the panel was "Pop Culture from the Margins." I was really proud of how the students did.

I started the talk by presenting a methodology that covered that basics of what the panel was about: issues like privilege, representation, hegemony, and postmodernism wrapped into 15 minutes. The students-Whitney, Kim, and Eric-then presented on different ideas under this flag idea. Whitney and Eric were in the pop culture class, and Kim is on the newspaper staff, along with Whitney. Whitney gave a great talk on the "self-tropicalizatioin" of J-Lo in her films. She provided some important details on the way J-Lo has used her Latin roots to create her image. Next, Kim discussed changing gender roles in science fiction, specifically focusing on the unique gender issues presented in Battlestar Galactica (I take a little pride in helping her come up with the idea). Eric then closed with a discussion of the comic book's transition from low culture to high culture.

The students seemed very receptive to what was discussed, and rightly so since the student speakers presented their information with great interest in their topic and appropriate detail. Not just bragging, but we had a great panel that covered the many different aspect of "pop culture from the margins." Common Day of Learning is often considered a joke or annoying obligation by some students, but if they attended our panel, they found some great information with a very timely application. Good times.

Next stop, New Mexico

Posted by Tim Posada On 3:56 AM 0 comments
So I'm about to leave for a conference in Albuquerque in a few hours. I'll be presenting on a California culture panel at the 30th Annual Popular Culture and American Culture Association Conference. I presented here two years ago and it'll be interesting to do it again. Last time I did a paper on how three hyperlink films-Magnolia, Short Cuts, and Crash-represent the various aspects of Los Angeles, and this year I'll be discussing horror cinema's relationship with LA.

My presentation is titled "No One Can Hear You Scream: Los Angeles in Horror Cinema." For those who won't be attendance, I discussing what we fear about LA, based on horror films. Oddly, my conclusion is that horror films are largely silent about LA. Most such films are set in the suburbs or in the woods or back-country, focusing on people from the burbs getting attacked by "freaks." I began trying to find any random film I could to make a paper out of and then I realized I was looking too hard for obscure films, ignoring the obvious trend. Thus, my paper changed focus from what the few films have to say (though I do mention them) to a argument for silence. Horror films are known for feeding off the fears of contemporary culture (I say this acknowledging how bad many of them are), and apparently horror film viewers aren't scared of LA. This doesn't mean there isn't unease in the City of Angels. It does mean people, I argue, that the horror film watcher is more concerned with horrors elsewhere. And if "elsewhere" is defined as the burbs or anywhere people from the burbs could be, then what we have going on in the genre is a unique form of segregation.

There's plenty of things going on in LA for people to scared of, but such things are secondary as most viewers might consider the situation an "us and them" thing. The chief demographic for a blockbuster film is the 18-year-old, white, middle-class male, and he wants to see a film that represents him--and representation is often based on ethnic, gender, and economic background. Thus the viewer does not see himself (I'm intentionally using a male pronoun here to prove my point that horror film are not gender or ethnic neutral) in an LA horror film because it is a multicultural place. LA films deal with ethnic issues and horror films are known for avoiding such things in their attempt to remain neutral, appealing to everyone. Or course many have learned that attempts to appeal to a broad audience means silencing the minority view.

This is the premise. I then go on to discuss ways to engage horror films with this in mind, pulling mostly from an idea by bell hooks called "the oppositional gaze," which forces the viewer to discard passive viewing and actively engage a film text.

Unlike the last time I presented at this conference, I didn't write a formal paper. I found that I have about 15 minutes to speak and can do so in anyway I choose. I'm gonna approach it just like a very focused class lecture. Last time, I wrote a 15-page paper and still created a speech with notes. I was so nervous and spoke so fast. I laughed later when I showed up at the conference and found that I was the only one on my panel not reading straight from what I had written. I soon learned that most conferences are done in this way. Yet, there are those who just speak and with the stress of applying to a PhD program, preparing another presentation for Common Day of Learning at APU, and general class prep, it would be easier to treat this conference like a class session. I finally feel confident enough to do this. Of course I'll stutter and lose my place in my notes, but that's no different than what normally happens. At least now I can mess up with more confidence.

That said, the conference should be quite entertaining. There are several panels on Buffy the Vampire Slayer and comic books in general to keep the nerd that I am very happy. I'll probably have a few more books in the collection when I return too. Here's for academic fun. Cheers.

The latest

Posted by Tim Posada On 12:23 AM 0 comments
So I'm sitting here watching Flight of the Concords and I felt like writing a TV blog. We'll start with my list of my top 10 favourite TV shows.
1. Buffy the Vampire Slayer
2. Battlestar Galactica
3. Angel
4. Firefly
5. Avatar: The Last Airbender
6. Scrubs
7. How I Met Your Mother
8. Bleach
9. Friends
10. 24
I must say, TV is on a downward spiral but there some quite entertaining shows. Flight of the Concords might be the most original. Battlestar Galactica is the smartest and best written. I'll be sad when it ends in a few episodes but it sure is going out with a bang. 24 is still as intense as ever and keeps the suspense ripe. Heroes and Lost are pissing me off, as they continue to recapture the flames they had from season one. I haven't seen Mad Men yet, but I hear wonderful things about it. How I Met Your Mother is steady by slipping on occasion, but Big Band Theory is on fire, along with 30 Rock and The Office. I must say that I've been into Smallville and Supernatural lately too. I acknowledge the tween nature of these shows but have that they both have grown with their audiences. Supernatural is rather dark and has a great storyline right now, involving angels, breaking seals, and the end of days. Smallville got rid of most of the teen drama and is focusing on Clark Kent fighting foes like Doomsday and Braniac. Bleach is still my anime of choice; 200 plus episodes in and always getting better. Cable TV also has two gems, Entourage and Dexter. A show about an actor and his buddies, great. A show about a likable serial killer who kills other serial killers, even better. BBC TV also has some good ones, Torchwood is one of the best sci fi shows of recent years and the short-lived Primeval had some fun moments.

I will say that I don't care much about many new shows, but I am intrigued by a few. Dollhouse marks creator Joss Whedon's return to TV since Buffy, Angel, and Firefly. Kings also looks wonderful. Francis Lawrence, director of Constantine and I am Legend, has created a modern-day retelling of the story of King Saul and King David. Should be pretty interesting.

Welp, that's my TV rant. I end by saying I am sad Avatar is over and acknowledge that I watch more TV shows than most people...I'm okay with it.

Top 10 update

Posted by Tim Posada On 2:57 PM 0 comments
This is the time of year where my taste in movies changes. I live with many people that don't share my enjoyment of foreign or obscure films, so the rest of the year I wait for said films to come out on video. But Oscar season allows me, and those around me, the excuse to check out the hype of any kind of film. On Saturday night I saw Slumdog Millionaire and I was blown away. It's up there as one of the best love stories I've seen since Moulin Rouge. Last week I saw Che. It won't get many nominations but it is easily Best Picture worthy...far more than the incredibly overrated and rather disappointing Benjamin Button. Anyways, I still have a few more films to go from 2008 before the Top 10 list can be official, but here is an updated version. As expected, Wanted and Quantum of Solace got pumped.

I know some may wonder how they were there to begin with and the answer is quite simple. First, Wanted is hysterical. It's A Purpose Driven Life with guns. It's quite telling to see the American rhetoric of destiny and individualism exposed for the bloody mess it is. The film was clever and a good shoot 'em up. Any good top 10 list will acknowledge that entertainment and escapism is important as well films with a critical edge. As for Quantum of Solace. I love what they're doing with James Bond. He's no longer a glamorized alcoholic womanizer. He's a flawed man. Post 9/11 tension finally made it's way to the Bond films and after decades of the same old thing, it's nice to see a one-dimensional character get some layers. Yes, there was far too much action but Daniel Craig is the best Bond ever (I'll argue anyone on that point) and the film gave me great hope for the future of the franchise.

Now there's also the issue of why Cloverfield is on my list. First off, I'm not alone as several other critics put this postmodern monster movie on their list as well. I loved this film. I took the ideas of The Blair Witch Project to the extreme. It was brave enough to tell a story people might not want from a blockbuster. And it had some great cinematography. I felt like I was on a 3D ride and I enjoyed it all. The characters were decent and the storyline was ambiguous. Sometimes closure is overrated.

Well, w/o further ado, here's the update list in order, pre The Wrestler, Revolutionary Road, Rachel Getting Married, Doubt, Frost/Nixon, and The Reader (if any of the finalists make the cut, Wall-E will be the first to go).

1. The Dark Knight
2. Slumdog Millionaire
3. Let the Right One In
4. Iron Man
5. Milk
6. Cloverfield
7. Che
8. Tropic Thunder
9. Forgetting Sarah Marshall
10. Wall-E

Simpler Times

Posted by Tim Posada On 2:55 PM 0 comments
I remember when all I had to do was wake up, eat, pretend to enjoy work, do homework, play video games, watch a movie, and go back to sleep. Life was simpler in college and grad school. Now, it's not that it's not that simple, there's just not much time to prepare for the constant change. Trying to figure what I'll be doing in the spring has been a confusing endeavor. I thought I had it figured for about three weeks back in October/early November. I was going to teach three classes and assist school newspaper at APU. I had two 400 level classes lined up at APU, Faith and Values in Journalism and Senior Seminar. I was incredibly excited about both of them...they got canned from low enrollment. I suddenly realized adjunct teaching is stressful. I began contacting several colleges from Chapman to Pasadena City, trying to find any classes I could. My one goal, not to have to substitute teach. Nothing came through. I still had The Clause and that was it. Luckily, I was offered to teach another class in the spring at Biola. It's funny how I got hired there a few days before the semester started and now it's my bread maker. So I was set. I was going to spend all of January preparing for the Biola class at the end of the month and for the PhD application deadlines coming up on February 1st. But of course something else came.

So two days ago I was offered another class at APU, Public Affairs Reporting. I decided to take the class and am frantically preparing a syllabus and doing the appropriate reading to prepare for such an endeavor. In August I was able to prepare three weeks worth of lectures before the semester started for three classes. Now, I'm gonna going week by week. I'm not complaining here, because I'm so thankful for the second class. I'm gonna love the preparation and the challenge of entertaining 10 students in a three-hour class. I am, however, laughing at how this all has happened. I've gone from full to empty to partly full. I'm excited about the semester, but I gotta say I'm looking forward to the day when I have my PhD and a full-time job that will insure I get classes every semester. I get too much anxiety to live semester by semester.