Entries from September 2014 ↓

Interpol – El Pintor Album Review

Interpol paints a marvelous picture with fine lines stroked by a thick brush for their latest album El Pintor. The painting that is created displays a large chaotic image that is sectioned off into 12 individual pieces that tell a story all on its own, the last of which being an untouched photograph that re-enacts a previous painting by the artist. It just so happens to be fitting that the title of El Pintor means “the painter”.

The complexities of the short melodies repeated in an unexpectedly succinct manner give this album the feel of an organized mess. Some tracks display a reverb effect that doesn’t overlap to clash with other chords. With just the right amount of intricacy, not too much and not too little, El Pintor places itself at the threshold of melodic and overtly complicated.

Despite the departure of bassist Carlos Dengler, lead vocalist Paul Banks takes over bass duties with ease, allowing the band to maintain its 4-piece feel with the same chemistry as any band of the same age with the full original lineup. Long time touring member Brandon Curtis adds in a large amount of keyboard elements that become part of the signature sound for El Pintor. At the end of this Target deluxe edition album, one stumbles across a recording of a live version of “Slow Hands” that proves Interpol sounds just as good as their recordings.

Interpol’s El Pintor serves as an Alternative album that is suitable even for those who are not fans of Alternative music. The consistent consonance with properly placed dissonance makes this album a good listen even for Pop and Rock listeners. The crispness of the composition shows the masterful and meticulous thought that went into producing this album.

As all the pieces fit together, the beautiful painting provides a new image all on its own. With such a keen attention to detail, El Pintor shows that Interpol has not lost their touch with their creative roots. One can easily appreciate the hard work put into this piece of art, yet at the same time, the brush strokes seem effortless, almost as if there were an influence of a muse. Indeed, this painting is a great addition to Interpol’s gallery.

Scavenger Hunt 3 – Buy Something New

Initially, I had planned to buy something along the lines of buying a pregnancy test or birth control pills. I changed my mind after sifting through the aisles of Walgreen’s. I decided to take a more economical approach and buy something that I would actually use, so I bought a power strip. Yes, I understand that this object is not entirely new to me, but for the fact that it has USB charge ports on it, I would argue that it is still something new (plus, I’ve never purchased a power strip before).

The object was not fully wrapped in packaging when I purchased it, so there wasn’t much left to the imagination after picking it up. That didn’t matter too much to me, though. I’ve been needing a new power strip for a while, and this provided some extra features.

The dark color scheme makes the strip look more sleek and modern than others, also allowing it to not get dirtied so easily. Additionally, the power plugs have sliding locks that not only highlight where to plug in on the strip, but also serve as protectors in case a curious child attempts to stick something conductive into the plugins. Lastly, there are friggen’ USB charge ports on it. Adapters have become obsolete. Now I can charge everything.

As for the other sense, I didn’t bother with smell or taste, so we can leave that out of the question. The texture of the main strip, it is similar to that of my laptop. In fact, I would not be surprised if they are made from the same material. The chord seems to be made of some thick rubber and appears to be durable for a good amount of time. It’s about the same weight as your usual power strip and close to the same size, so it’s nothing substantially different in terms of mass.

All in all, this new object is not entirely foreign, but it is an unusual combination of shapes and textures that I have not experienced before.

Filmmaking for the Sake of Filmmaking

A Buick Rendezvous rolled through Outer Drive. The woman in the front passenger seat frantically pointed in the direction that she wanted us to go. As the driver, I coolly reassured her that I knew where I was going. While that wasn’t entirely true, I had a good idea of where to go. We turned left onto Lewis, and quite promptly turned again onto a wide gravel road.

“Okay, now I’ll need some direction.”

“Just keep going straight,” she calmly replied. The passenger behind us let out a chuckle as he watched our back and forth conversation.

We made our down the gravel road, with a few soft curves here and there, but not enough to inhibit my driving. We soon encountered a ‘tunnel of trees’, as Regan Hanna, the woman passenger, refered to it. The road was riddled with trees on the side that grew tall enough to reach over and connect, making the canopy hang above our heads but still allowing enough room to drive.

“Wow, this would be a really cool location to film an ambush scene,” Max Servis, the rear passenger, laughed in awe.

“Yeah, there’s some pretty sweet places up here that we can use for the Post-Apocalyptic,” Regan casually replied. “Just wait ’til you see the farm.”

Once we passed the tree tunnel, it was only a few more curves and a left turn until we were at the farm. There were some houses nearby that gave somewhat of a village ambiance to the farm. As we exited the vehicle, Regan immediately led us around the farm to show us the various parts that would be suitable backdrops for a post-apocalyptic film.

If it’s not obvious by now, these three people (including myself) are filmmakers. We are part of a larger group known as Fatal Nostalgia. It’s a close-knit, loosely organized crew of filmmakers that post various types of videos to YouTube. The number of people that have been involved in videos numbers to 26, but the number of “official” members spans from five to ten.

“So who’s all the official members?” Max asked as we made our way to Wal-Mart. I went to explain that it’s a somewhat loose hierarchy…

There’s a sort of difference in rank of who has to be involved in the videos (Any video will require at least one of the three): Kelsey, Sam, and myself. Then there are two who have major executive decision the direction where writing goes: my little brother, Matt, and our friend Mason. After that, there are four members who mostly serve primarily as actors with some creative input for ideas: Max and his brother Garth, a buddy of mine from high school named Ben, and a high school student known as Charlie. Lastly, but not least, there’s Regan, who had become officially part of the group near the end of the summer, but has proven her worth rather quickly within the group.

Fast forward a few hours to when Max and I were scoping our more locations in Sioux City while Regan went out to eat with her family. We happened upon what appeared to be a junkyard, but it was shrouded by workplace buildings and potentially unused baseball fields (we couldn’t tell for sure). Max was extremely happy to find a place that looked so run-down and secluded. “This is the perfect location,” Max exclaimed, “words cannot describe how happy I am right now.” I made sure to video record the entire area to show Sam and Kelsey (a simple picture wouldn’t have been able to show the entire location). Max was still full of awe when he started to cite what he was thankful for, “I really like how this group works.”

“What do you mean by that?” I asked. His statement could have had a number of different answers, but I had a gut feeling of where he was about to go with it.

“Like, everybody does different stuff. Nobody strictly does one part, they all work on different things,” he replied, with difficulty finding the proper words to explain. “I mean, when Garth and I were with our old film group, every one would play the same type of role and be the same thing for crew. He and I joined kinda late, so we ended up being mostly just extras and stuff.”

“Oh, I see,” I affirmed his statement. My gut feeling was not too far off.

“But here, we get to go back and forth between main roles and background people, and I really like it,” he finished.

 What Max was referring to was the fact that we tend to keep our cast and crew well-rounded. Oftentimes, I had been the one who would edit videos, but when it came to films that Sam did cinematography, he would do the editing (for the most part). In addition to the multiple editors, Sam, Kelsey, and Regan all have their own cameras, so multiple videos could be made in different locations. This form of divide and conquer allows us to be able to regularly upload short (usually random) videos without any risk of hiatus.

The group wasn’t always this big and active, though. At it’s start, it was just Kelsey, my friend Ben, and me. Kelsey wanted to make an improv horror film and recruited me as a an editor. We needed another actor, so I called up Ben to see if he’d be willing to help. After much of what could have been considered “dinking around”, we eventually finished our horror film with poor lighting, awkward acting, and absolutely no script. The experience was so fun that we decided to try again with some different genres every video. Along the way, we let anyone join that wanted to help out. The end result were seven “Improv” shorts of varying genres that were released every other Monday.

After ideas ran out and schedules became too busy, the group went into a hiatus. Nobody could think of any new ideas for a different genre, and barely anybody could make it to meeting times. Eventually, Sam and Kelsey recorded a random non-sensical video simply out of boredom and posted it to the Fatal Nostalgia YouTube channel (which had been inactive for a couple of months). The video met positive reviews when it was shared on Facebook, and all of us in the group at that time decided that we would just work on any video idea that we had an post it anytime we filmed, rather than attempting a different genre every other week.

As a result, the filmmaking process grew to be more fun than simply showing off filmmaking capabilities. Films can be as planned as “Crazy”, a psychodrama with a script written by Kelsey and her roommate Nicole, or as spontaneous as “Shattered Dreams”, a nonsense film that Sam and Matt did while hanging out. Regardless of the amount of work that goes into each film, it serves as bonding time for everyone.

“I love you guys,” Kelsey sincerely stated as she looked at Matt, Mason, and me. We had just finished filming another impromptu horror film and were now just sitting in her living room, hanging out. “When I say you guys are my family, I mean that you are my family. I’m so glad that we do this together.” Kelsey often takes lead when it comes to the social  media aspect of Fatal Nostalgia. This film group has grown to be her passion and she plans to study film in the future (after two years of Gen Eds at Morningside or WIT). “Fatal Nostalgia isn’t like a family to me; It is a family. We are always growing in numbers and in ideas. [I] Love this group to death,” was one of the statuses that she posted to the Fatal Nostalgia Facebook page.

In the end, Kelsey’s post is not too far off. Aside from the fact that there are two sets of brothers in the group (Matt and me; Max and Garth), the rest of the group is connected as if they really were family. We don’t just get together to make films, we also get together to just hang out, go places, and adventure. It’s grown to not just be a hobby, but a passion for most of us. Matt enjoys this group so much, that he’s organized a plan where when we get rich enough, we’ll all buy out an apartment complex, live there, and just make videos for the rest of our lives. Though it sounds a little difficult to accomplish, I would be lying if I said that it doesn’t sound appealing to me.

In the mean time, we’ll continue making videos for as long as we can.

Scavenger Hunt – Sounds

I am in a soundproof room, and it serves much of its purpose. The only sounds I hear come from this room, and thankfully, there are plenty of them. Aside from the click-clacking of my own keyboard as I type this entry, there are three noises that somewhat blend together in some sort of odd composition. There are two sounds droning along with each other, forming an atonal chord. The hiss of the static and the whoosh of the fan press on together in some sort of perceived unison. Lastly, but not least, are the voices of two of my co-workers calling a local high school game. The rhythm of this noise is much less consistent than the others, but it seems to have a cadence all on its own. I’ve learned the cadence well enough to know when it is my time to take action.

Right now, I’m working as a “Board Op” for Y 101.3, Y Country, one of the stations for Powell Broadcasting. Y Country has a program called the Small Town, Big Time Football Game of the Week every Friday during the high school football season, and I am the one who operates the board while the sportscasters call the game. Every time a break approaches, which is signaled by the commentator’s verbal rhythm, I must play the commercials back at the station as well as rally the signal from the remote area to the broadcast waves. It’s a simple and sometimes boring job, but it’s something in my field.

A Film Group and a Family (Feature Article #1 Rough Draft)

Aside from a few of your close-knit sports teams, one would not refer their recreational group as a family, but for a certain Sioux City based film group called Fatal Nostalgia, the word “family” is very well fitting. “Fatal Nostalgia isn’t like a family to me; It is a family. We are always growing in numbers and in ideas. [I] Love this group to death,” says Kelsey Dill, one of the original members of the film group.

Fatal Nostalgia started out as an improvisational film group attempting to show their versatility with filming. It began with three members, including Kelsey, her friend Ben, and a buddy of his from high school. Initially, the trio intended to do a different genre for each “Film Improv” that they released every other week, attempting to cover a wide array of story lines, characters, and settings. But as membership and ideas grew, the group began to broaden its horizons beyond their original specifications.

“It’s filmmaking for the sake of filmmaking,” Ben Catus explains. There are no set rules on what sort of film that this group is supposed to make; sometimes it’s funny, sometimes it’s scary, sometimes it’s planned out and scripted, sometimes it’s completely on the spot. After watching a few videos, one could say that it is obvious that this group tends to favor random comedy with what has been called a “unique” sense of humor.

More often than not, harsh language is avoided in videos and any sort of extensive gore or sexual innuendos are absent from these videos. This is not due to any censorship stipulations or intended audience, but rather simply the flow of the unusual humor that comes from these young film-makers. One could say that not only is Fatal Nostalgia a family, but it is inadvertently a family friendly film group.

The term “family” also applies to Fatal Nostalgia in a literal sense. Two sets of brothers: Ben and Matt Catus, plus Garth and Max Servis, are four of the core acting troupe within the group. Believe it or not, it isn’t actually nepotism that brings these brothers together in the group, but rather, past experience with each other.

Most of the members of this film group didn’t actually start here; many of them had worked with either each other and often non-members before the start of this group. The brothers’ Catus began with stop-motion animation videos with legos in their parents basement. Other antics they had filmed were posted onto a channel Ben had set up, the channel that the film group no uses. Sam Foo, another main member, was an avid filmmaker with his friends when he lived in Indiana. Mason Bakker, one of the main actors and idea-pitchers, had acted in videos for a friend from school several years prior.

Needless to say, these young filmmakers have worked hard to get to where they are now. “We’re definitely at a start; Our video quality right now is about the same as other famous YouTubers when they started out,” Sam expresses as he absentmindedly scrolls through old videos of some of his favorite YouTube stars. He’s not too far off when he says that they’re at a start. It has only been since November of 2013 since the first video by this film group had been posted, and only since July of this year that the “core” group was established.

The distinction between core members and regular members was established in order to maintain more organization within Fatal Nostalgia. The group is very open with whom they let star in their videos, with 26 different people showing up and playing important roles in their videos. The core group are the people who have ultimate say in what direction the group goes creatively as well as contribute the most to projects. This methodology of distinction forms a loose hierarchy within the group, but altogether act as a family would in making sure everyone is happy.

Scavenger Hunt: Same Place, Different Time

I was given an unusual thing to pursue in this scavenger hunt. Be that as it may, it was simple enough to “attain”. I was instructed to go to a place that I normally go to, but a time that I’m not normally there and describe what I found. The results were less than extraordinary.

The place that I had inadvertently chosen was the MacCollin Classroom building (also known as Eppley Auditorium). I had nothing planned for my Saturday afternoon to keep me busy until my Saturday night plans, so I went over to Eppley to practice some piano (an instrument that I’ve started practicing more since coming to Morningside). Initially, I debated between doing that and going for a run, but my instincts told me that this was more important.

When I arrived at the building, the back doors where I usually entered were chained shut. I approached them , but then quickly decided to try another door when I saw the chains. Shane Macklin (who was speaking with Tony Hutchins at the time), must have thought that I worried about interrupting them, as he attempted to open the door to let me in, after I had passed.

Being that I already needed to speak with Macklin about certain matters, I figured that I might as well hit two birds with one stone and speak to him about those matters. Things were sorted out and I no longer had to wait for an E-mail response from him. Near the end of the conversation, Macklin stated “this is weird,” in reference to the fact that we were speaking through a door that could only be cracked open.

After the conversation, I made my way around to the front door of the building and made my way inside. Thankfully, the doors were not chained up in front [insert humorous chuckle here].

The major difference between Eppley on weekdays and Eppley on the weekends is the amount of people there. Normally, there’s one or two people studying in the lobby, but that wasn’t the case today. The only evidence of anybody being inside the building were random musical noises of what I assume were people practicing their instruments in the practice rooms. Of course, it seemed normal to me, as I came in for the same purpose.

After I had finished practicing, I ran into Chonosuke Asano, a Japanese student who also happened to live on my hall. Asano is a friendly person, so I thought to myself “might as well make some small talk.” Indeed, the talk was small. Asano pointed out that it was funny that he came into practice after he had just finished eating while I was on my way to eat after I had just finished practicing. He joked that we were taking shifts. I laughed. We parted ways.

Altogether, this “scavenger hunt” was rather uneventful. Not that I didn’t enjoy the experience, but there was not much that occurred that I would consider noteworthy. I hope that this entry was at least insightful. Either way, it’s good practice for my writing (which I’m assuming was the intent of this assignment). Thank you for reading.

Lights, Camera, Action…

Actual Lead:

Is the 17-year-old actress trying to get into her cinematic character of a possible murderer, or is she merely scratchy from a summertime rash?

1st Lead:

Four young adults work in a small church office, attempting to emulate a therapy session, while eight others wait in the lobby to prepare for the next project. These are but a few people of Fatal Nostalgia: a group of twenty-some students working together to make films for the sake of filmmaking.