Halloween v. Thanksgiving

It’s a debate that I’ve had with countless people: Which of the fall holidays is superior: Halloween or Thanksgiving?

Let’s look at the different aspects of these two annual traditions.

picture from iwatchstuff.com1)  They both have equally bad Charlie Brown movies. If I am alone in thinking that “The Great Pumpkin” storyline is enormously agitating then I’ve lost all faith in humanity. All-in-all this really isn’t a differentiator of either holiday; however, film in general is a huge factor seperating these days. There are literally thousands of films dedicated the the eerie culture of late October, ranging from light-hearted films like Hocus Pocus and Casper to spine-chilling horrors like my favorite Nightmare on Elm Street. In contrast, I’m really struggling to come up with anything for Thanksgiving……

2) Neither of these holidays would be worthwhile if it weren’t for the food. While Thanksgiving focuses on grand meals that require hours of strenuous labor in the kitchen, Halloween’s cuisine can be prepared with a few dollars and a ten minute trip to Walmart. I’m not claiming that the feast in November is not incredible, but for what it’s worth some candies are really high up on my list of favorite things (Who honestly refuses a Reese’s?).

3) Which would you rather decorate your house with come autumn: A couple turkeys and pilgrims, or jack-0-lanterns, spiderwebs, witches, ghosts, vampires, mummies, and an endless list of Halloween staples?

4) There is the parade on Thanksgiving that starts getting everyone in the mood for Winter Break, but I believe that the costumes and trick-or-treating of Halloween still trumps this aspect of Thanksgiving. I mean there’s only so many times that you can still be amused by a giant inflatable Garfield. I am constantly amazed every single October how creative some people can be with their sometimes funny, provocative, or really original costumes.

picture from halloweencostumeideas.com

This was my costume for about 3 years

5) Tradition is a big factor for these holidays. Thanksgiving usually comes with football……but so do the other few months surrounding that random Thursday every year. You do get to see your family again for possibly the first time in a while – which can be great. On the other hand you might be reminded why you only choose to see them every once-in-a-while. As far as Halloween goes, who doesn’t look back fondly to running around in a Power Ranger costume all hyped-up on sugar as a kid?

There are avid fans arguing for both sides of the question, and I hope that my in-depth analysis will be enough to open some of your eyes to the supremecy of the winner of the fall holidays: Halloween. UPB is choosing to celebrate this holiday today on the commons from 10 Am to 2 PM (although mother nature may frown on us, in which case it will be held in Transitions). I personally helped carry 200 pumpkins ready to decorate into our storage room, so I hope to see you all out there today.

picture from scaredstiffreviews.com

– Stephen

Welcome to the Rumble

Tonight is going to be a night to remember. Ten bands have made it through the auditions to participate in Rumble Down Under’s fierce battle-royale this evening. Each band only gets a fifteen minute window to excite the audience and impress the judges. The performers are competing for a chance to have UPB program their own concert for the student body this November.

Rumble Down Under

The tentative schedule for the acts is currently:

1. Lights In The Fog 7:00-7:15
2. James Orrigo 7:15-7:30
3. Grant Thomas 7:30-7:45
4. The Sun Kings 7:45-8:00
5. Andrew Rohlk 8:00-8:15
6. Yesterday’s Hero 8:15-8:30
7. Stay At Home Greg 8:30-8:45
8. Whiskers and the Sly Racoon 8:45-9:00
9. Luke Hartman 9:00-9:15
10. The Last Kings 9:15-9:30

I don’t want to introduce any personal bias into this process, but I will tell you that I already own one of these artists’ CDs. Standing out in a campus of over 16,000 undergrad Dukes, the work of these musicians is nothing to scoff at. There is a tremendous amount of talent that flows through this campus. Who knows, maybe one of these artists will go on to experience the success of JMU Alum Phil Vassar. All I can say for sure is that I’ll definitely be in the crowd for this one tonight voting and voicing my opinion on these local bands.

– Stephen

Falcon Heene = King of Hide-And-Seek

While I was (obviously) being very productive in the office last week, I happened to turn to CNN and the latest “breaking news.” Reporters thought that somehow a young boy named Falcon Heene managed to get himself a one-way ride on a rogue balloon. Later, though, he was found hiding in a box back at his house………

picture from telegraph.co.ukI’m not even going to touch on how bizarre it is that this was national news, or how disturbing it is to think that this may have all been a ploy for attention by the boy’s parents. I just wanted to give Falcon the respect he deserves for being a true champion at hide-and-seek.

Let’s get this clear. I was a hide-and-seek god as a kid. I found that I could go hours unseen in dark, enclosed, and pretty uncomfortable spaces (Only much later in life did I find out the real reason I was so good at this game. Apparently my older brother would tell me to go hide, and then insted of fulfilling the seek aspect he would just continue to watch TV).

However extraordinary my skills were when I was younger, they still pale in comparison to Falcon, the true prodigy. picture from cbsnews.comHe somehow was able to keep quiet in a box with swarms of media circling his home. That’s talent right there.

The next time I don’t feel like doing a press release for Late Night Breakfast, I’ll take a page out of Falcon’s book – I’ll release a balloon to distract the JMU campus and then quickly use my old talents and hide in a box in the corner of the UPB office………. Fool proof plan right?

– Stephen

Generation Harry Potter

HARRY POTTER DEFINES OUR GENERATION. Our parents had such cultural obsessions as Star Wars or (if they are like my mom) The Beatles. However, it was a kid on a broomstick who captured the hearts and imaginations of many of us. Deathly Hallows alone saw 11 million copies fly off the shelves in the first 24 hours it was on sale. The phenomenon created a frenzy among the masses, and I was no exception. With a total gross of $938 million* for the fifth movie, I’m positive that I’m not alone in saying that I was really excited for the newest film version of J.K. Rowling’s saga about the wonder-child of the wizarding world. I’m now even luckier, because I have yet another opportunity to see Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince on the big screen (as it should be seen) at Grafton Stovall on campus.

Helena Bonham Carter was cast perfectly for the twisted Bellatrix Lestrange

Helena Bonham Carter was cast perfectly for the twisted Bellatrix Lestrange

I practically immersed myself in the book series during my childhood (brace yourselves everybody, because you’re currently reading the blog of a celebrity. I ranked number #1 on the Scholastic Trivia Site …… for a whole day). So naturally when I found out that it was coming to theaters I was ecstatic. However, much to my dismay, the series has been plagued by inconsistencies with the feel of the movies. This is due to there being 4 different directors for the 6 films.

Sorcerer’s Stone and Chamber of Secrets were both directed by Chris Columbus. Now I feel bad being too harsh on the man, since he was involved with bringing us 1985’s The Goonies, but he is really lacking in creativity.   The first two movies were page-by-page cookie cutter versions of the books. The fans wanted more excitement than what Columbus had to offer.

Thus came Alfonso Cuaron (who also directed 2006’s Children of Men) to tackle the third installment. He is by far my personal favorite because he brings an unparalleled cinematography to the project. Unfortunately, it appears that I’m not in the majority on this one, because out of the six movies Prisoner of Azkaban fared the worst at the box office. It took in a MERE $795 million globally.

HPHBP

Seeing the drop in revenue, the producers decided to once again try to shake things up in the world of Harry Potter filmmaking. Mike Newell (who had just come off of directing Mona Lisa’s Smile) took the helm of Goblet of Fire. This was a good movie, but it would’ve been hard to mess up with such a great book as its source. However, there is something in the fourth Harry Potter that has never stopped bothering me. While the Triwizard Tournament would have been an incredible and enthralling experience for those participating, the ones spectating from the sidelines really got shorted on this one. Hogwarts students were told that they didn’t have quidditch to watch all year…… so they could watch the top of a lake or the outside of a giant bush. If you still aren’t on my side on this issue, just imagine yourself going down to Bridgeforth Stadium. Now instead of watching Mickey Matthew’s team at work, you have the pleasure of witnessing the latest in the exciting world of shrubberies. With me now?

FINALLY, THOSE BEHIND THE HARRY POTTER FRANCHISE FOUND THEIR ROCK IN DAVID YATES. After the massive success of Order of the Phoenix (grossing $938 million globally, second only to Sorcerer’s Stone at the time), Yates was signed to direct all of the remaining films. This has greatly appeased my problems with the series’ lack of a consistent style and I’ve gotten a lot more enjoyment out of the films. Being that this is a quality film and a landmark in your generation, you owe it to yourself to go see Yate’s newest Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince playing this week for the same low $2.50.

Like my views on the movies or think I couldn’t be more wrong? I’d love to hear from you. Think you can beat me in some HP trivia? Bring it on.

– Stephen

All box office numbers according to www.boxofficemojo.com

Pictures from the Third Eye Blind Show

If you didn’t make it to the show last night, you missed an amazing experience. Even the band’s opener BlueSkyReality went above and beyond my high expectations for the show. I know that I’m not alone in UPB when I say that I am still exhausted from last night (taking down that intricate stage was quite a production). We will have more about the behind the scenes of the concert later, but for now I just wanted to leave you guys with some of the photos from last night:

Third Eye Blind at JMU.Third Eye Blind at JMU (2)

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Third Eye Blind at JMU(5)

Interview with Third Eye Blind

With the show a mere three days away, I’m sure many of you are getting anxious for Third Eye Blind coming to JMU. Rest easy, because I have something to tide you over for the time being. I was lucky enough to have a few questions answered by drummer Brad Hargreaves on behalf of the band.

– A lot of fans have always wanted to know, how’d you come up with the name Third Eye Blind?

It was just a play on words that fit the mood at that time in San Francisco.

– You guys performed at JMU way back in November of ’98. How do you feel that you’ve evolved as a band since then?

We are all lifers in music and that journey involves constantly trying to grow as writers, musicians and performers. I would like to believe we have all individually honed our craft over the last 10 years and are a better band because of it.

– Going against the grain in the music industry, you’ve made a bold move to be self-managed. What was the drive behind this decision?

I think 75% of good management is desire. The band has the desire to do things that are authentic to the music and adding a layer of management can dilute that.

Third Eye Blind

– You recently released the much anticipated Ursa Major to great commercial success despite declining CD sales across the country. The album debuted at #3 on the Billboard 200 charts, but this kind of success isn’t anything new for you guys. You’ve been able to span generations and have experienced a rare longevity in this industry with a generally short shelf life. What do you think it is that makes Third Eye Blind such a unique band and allows you to thrive in the music realm?

I think people are very keen when it comes to sensing whether a band has something to offer or whether it is BS. Third Eye Blind has something to say on a lot of levels and perhaps people relate to that.

– Third Eye Blind was out of the spotlight for a few years. The new album is appropriately named Ursa Major,representing the band coming out of your “hibernation.” Can you go into your inspiration for your latest material?

Our inspiration is our fans. The band was really rejuvenated by our fans support of our 10 year anniversary shows a couple years ago. That really inspired us to finish this record.

– We’ve heard talk about a CD being released with tracks that didn’t make the newest collection. What’s the status on Ursa Minor?

We have a number of songs that will be released as Ursa Minor. The plan is to really have it well rehearsed by the end of this October tour and then go into the studio and record and mix a song a day.

picture from theburningear.com

– After year’s of performing, you’ve gotten a lot of tour experience under your belts. What is one of your more memorable performances?

Playing in a monsoon on Mt Fuji was quite memorable. I was told the stage started sinking.

– What do you consider to be the highlight of your career so far?

Ursa Major’s big debut after six years without a record is pretty high up there. I would say Stevie Wonder playing a harmonica solo on jumper at a show was pretty special as well.

– What do you guys think is the next step for the band?

The next step for the band is to keep it rolling. We have the ability to release music whenever we want now and that is pretty liberating. We plan on touring and recording a lot over the next year.

I personally can’t wait to see the band perform…. and hang out with the guys when I run the Meet and Greet with the band on Thursday night. If you don’t have your tickets yet you can still buy them at the Warren Box Office (and you’ll get a free poster along with your ticket) or you can order them online. See you all there!

– Stephen

Are You Ready to Rumble?

80 One Record’s second annual Rumble Down Under is fast approaching. Bands are getting together and practicing this week to audition to join in this year’s contest. Seeing all this happen really brings me back to my short lived days in the limelight.  Rumble Down UnderThat’s right. I’m the former guitarist of Can’t Count Trio (…genius name, because there were four of us).  I doubt that you fully appreciate how lucky you are to be currently reading the words of a celebrity, so let me give you a Behind the Music rundown of what really happened.

The fierce competition at the Talent Show tryouts at Byrd Middle School would’ve been too much to take for those of you with a weak stomach. The Can’t Count Trio; however, refused to succumb to the overwhelming pressure bearing down on us. We found time in our schedules to take a break from one of our three strenuous practices for the auditions to interact with our adoring groupies. What can I say….. we were the talk of the eighth grade.

The day of the tryouts came. Massive fame and glory were within our grasp. We performed our rendition of Incubus’ “A Certain Shade of Green” with all the theatrics you would expect from a band at the top of the Billboard charts (I played the solo on my knees). Now all that was left for us to do was to wait for the judges deliberations.

Shockingly, we were not chosen to play for the dozens in attendance at the show. The world was just not ready for our sound. Internal disputes soon tore apart the band, and the music world has suffered greatly because of it.

I know that all the bands trying out will definitely put Can’t Count Trio to shame, and I wish them all the best when auditions start80 One Records this Sunday. The local music scene is absolutely one of my favorite parts about this school, so I can’t wait to see all the performers at TDU this year. If you are in a band or play as a solo artists and think that you have what it takes to be called the best act around the JMU community make sure to sign your band up in the UPB office by this Friday, October 2.

– Stephen