Tuesday, September 28, 2010

Music Muse: The Dog Days Are Over

READER BEWARE: Opinions Are Expressed Below

It's important to say that it takes a lot to impress me. Now with that said...let's continue. The MTV Video Music Awards have already come and gone...by several weeks...but there was a performance at the VMA's that captivated me. No it was the whiny Taylor Swift, the selfish Kayne West, the lip-syncing Usher or even his lip-syncing prodigy Justin Beiber. It was a group from across the ocean named Florence and The Machine.

At the VMA's, the lovely (when not covered in white makeup) Florence and her dancing crew made their Stateside debut with "Dog Days Are Over". I kind of get an Aborigine vibe from this song because of the drums and the dancers. Am I the only one? Anyways, Florence's enchanting voice may paint her as an angel, but she is far from it. Apparently her best work comes to her when she is drunk or when she has a hangover. That's just a tad bit strange, but it pales in comparison to that other Lady.

I don't know if all of Florence's songs are this good, but I'm happy with One Hit Wonders. I hope to be hearing more from Florence in the near future.

FYI: This video won a VMA award off screen for Best Art Direction.

Photo provided by Google

Wednesday, September 22, 2010

Popcorn Preview - Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

It has finally come down to this epic battle between good and evil. I gushed about growing up with the Toy Story gang, well guess what...I grew up with the Harry Potter gang too. I honestly think that I will take a harder blow when the screen fades to black on this movie. As a previous trailer mentioned, this movie marks the end of a generation...an end to my generation...an end to my youth. I must now face the mirror and stare at an old man. OK...that's an exaggeration.

Well anyways, here's the trailer for Part 1 to Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows.

Photo courtesy of Google

Tuesday, September 21, 2010

Popcorn Worthy? - Toy Story 3

READER BEWARE: Opinions Are Expressed Below

OK, I know that this review is coming in WAY late...but better late than never. I just got to see the movie, so get off my back! The question is now, why waste my breath on reviewing a Pixar movie? What do I mean by that? Well, unless you have been living under a rock...you should know that anything that has Pixar attached to it is absolutely amazing. I can't believe it all started in 1995 with the first Toy Story. I was only 5 at that time...I feel so old now. Since then we have been blessed to see A Bug's Life, Monsters Inc., Finding Nemo, The Incredibles, Cars, Toy Story 2, Wall-E and Up. Each Pixar movie has proved over and over again to have a great plot, amazing graphics and witty humor.

So what is there to say about Toy Story 3? Well, Pixar knew its main audience for this movie would be my generation. Let's face it...we practically grew up alongside Andy and the gang of toys. So the issues brought up in Toy Story 3 were very sensitive to me. Be advised, this movie is not a "feel-good" movie. I spent most of the movie fighting back tears to spare my dignity. However, there were a few laughs along the way, but they couldn't erase the harsh, bitter and brutal reality of what was happening to Woody and those few toys still left. It's so heart wrenching, and some parts were a little too dark and mature for a child's understanding. That's as far as I'm going into it... However, as I have said to some others...one of the writers must have gone through a brutal divorce when developing this movie.

The graphics were stunning (as always), and the voice talents were at their absolute best. The usual voice talents are there with the addition of Ned Beatty as Lotso (a hugging dictator), Michael Keaton as Ken (who is NOT a girl's toy...yeah right), Timothy Dalton as Mr. Pricklepants, Bonnie Hunt as Dolly, Whoopi Goldberg as Stretch and Blake Clark as Slinky Dog who was originally voiced by the late Jim Varney. Clark was Varney's close friend in life, and he did an excellent job of keeping Slinky's voice the same.

As for the music, Randy Newman (who I'm not too crazy about in general) stayed true to the original Toy Story music. So no foul there. It was great to hear "You've Got a Friend in Me" one last time.

There's no point in gushing over it anymore. It was amazing! Oh and here's a little factoid for you. Sid (the bad kid from the first Toy Story) is the guy picking up trash. Pixar is genius.

5.0 Popcorn Kernels Out Of 5 (a deep plot, heart wrenching, strong connection to my generation and a great end to a great series)

Photo provided by Google

Friday, September 17, 2010

Popcorn Worthy? - Devil

READER BEWARE: Opinions Are Expressed Below

I am officially announcing the decree of changing M. Night Shyamalan's last name to SHAMEalan. I shall also decree that anyone will be shot on site if they say that The Village, Lady in the Water or The Happening are great movies. Is it sad that the pinnacle of SHAMEalan's career was The Sixth Sense? It is very sad, but I will not waste a tear on this man whose mind should be put to better use elsewhere.

I'm going to make this as brief as possible to spare you the pain. The movie is narrated by the Hispanic security guard whose mother told him stories of the Devil coming to earth to collect souls once someone commits suicide (such a wonderful bedtime story). It seems her stories are true as five strangers (three jacks and two queens...as the security man calls them) get trapped in an elevator. Tensions rise in the enclosed space as the lights continue to flicker and some mundane elevator music plays in the background. I'm guessing SHAMEalan was trying to go for a claustrophobic approach...but it just didn't happen. I mean it kind of happened for the characters, but for the audience member...there was no tension or distress. The only distress was trying to figure out who the killer was inside the elevator. I used the "don't trust a ginger" method.

As far as having a deep meaning throughout...there really wasn't one. I have no clue why the Devil chose an elevator in some high rise building to collect souls. I also have no idea why he chose that specific day to kill those specific people. Sure, they were all sinners...but we're all sinners...right? The only meaningful thing was mentioned at the very, VERY end. It had to deal with forgiveness, and if you believe the Devil is real then God must be real too. Wait a minute, that sounds A LOT like The Last Exorcism (but reversed).

The acting was just OK, but I did not connect with any of the characters as they attempted to be scared. Sure they sweated profusely, screamed and went through the general cabin fever hysteria...but I just didn't feel anything. As for the music in this movie, there might have been some other than the elevator music, but I don't remember any. So that you should tell you something right there.

1.0 Popcorn Kernels Out Of 5 (zero suspense, unclear motivations and elevator music)

Photo provided by Google

Monday, September 13, 2010

Press Release: Velma Patterson – Mommie Dearest or Mother Superior?

Love...sex...death (or murder?). Here is an article that I am particularly proud of. So I decided to share it with you. It was published in The East Texan last semester (Spring 2010). The title of this piece is what I originally suggested, but the editor changed it to something more simple. I obtained all of these sources when I was conducting research to find information about paranormal activity on the Texas A&M University - Commerce campus and the surrounding area. That is a whole different story in itself...Ha!

Velma Patterson – Mommie Dearest or Mother Superior?
By: Chance A. Crane

In 1936, Velma Patterson brought a national scandal to Commerce, Texas when she faced trial for the suspicious deaths of her two young daughters.

Patterson, age 34 at the time, was accused of murder when both of her daughters from another marriage, Billie Fae and Dorothy Leon McCasland, ages 11 and 12 respectively, had enough traces of arsenic in their bodies to kill an adult.

“Billie was the first one to die,” Texas A&M University - Commerce Archivist Dr. James Conrad said. “No one suspected anything out of the usual because she had supposedly been suffering from the intestinal flu. It wasn’t until Dorothy died forty days later that the sheriff became suspicious.”

In order to find out if the two girls deaths involved more than just the flu, their bodies were dug up from their graves. They were then sent to Dr. Landon C. Moore of Dallas for inspection. Later that week, Moore reported to the Hunt County grand jury that he found poison in both of their internal organs.

“Velma was then arrested,” Conrad said. “Her trial took place in Greenville with twelve farmers serving on the jury.”

Patterson had been in trouble once before for bootlegging and had quite a reputation. In Conrad’s book “Blacklands: Historical Sketches of Hunt County, Texas,” he describes that Patterson was known to frequent a bar known for its “shady pleasures.” She, having previously been married three times, now had a romantic interest in a “cowboy Romeo.”

“Many people suspected that Velma poisoned her two daughters so she could marry her cattleman lover from Lone Oak,” Conrad said.

An article from The Spartanburg Herald-Journal from South Carolina provided court testimony from Alice Cooper, Patterson’s former maid, that revealed that Patterson was seeing another man.

According to Cooper, Patterson was “deeply in love” with the cattleman and wanted to marry him “if it wasn’t for the children.” Cooper claimed that Patterson warned her after Dorothy’s death to “keep your little mouth shut about me buying the poison.” Cooper also said that Patterson told the druggist that she wanted the poison “to kill rats.”

A total of 200 witnesses were called to the stand to testify for or against Patterson. One of those testifying against her was ex-husband W.W. (Dester) McCasland. He and Patterson both gave medicine to their child Dorothy, but McCasland knew that something was wrong.

According to information gathered by The Dallas Morning News:

“[Dorothy] begged not to be given any more of her mother’s ‘rest medicine,’” McCasland said. “Dorothy begged for a doctor and I asked Mrs. Patterson if we had better call one, but she said ‘no—wait until morning.’”

McCasland remembers the last few words his daughter said to him before her death.

“I know I am going to die and I don’t care,” she had said. “Little Billie Fae is gone.”

After their second daughter’s death, McCasland testified that Patterson would ask him to take her to the cemetery.

“She would walk up to the grave and say: ‘Well, they haven’t dug her up yet,’” he said. “She would ask if I thingh [sic] she would collect the insurance. She said she was broke.”

However, other reports indicated that McCasland had spoken with L.W. Williams, Patterson’s father, and confessed that he had been the one that bought the rat poison and believed his ex-wife was not guilty. As the trial continued, Patterson never went to the stand to testify for herself and the death penalty was being sought by the State.

But in the end, the District Court jury acquitted an emotional Patterson. She was so joyful that she gave a shout and “she ran to the jury box and shook hands with the jurors.”

Her acquittal still did not exonerate Patterson in the public’s eye.

“Everyone thought Velma was guilty,” Conrad said.

Patterson denied in court that she had anything to do with her children’s deaths.

“I loved my babies,” she said. “Why should I kill them? I sent them to Sunday school, gave one of them music lessons and the other expression instruction. Now they say I killed them. I didn’t do it. I didn’t do it.”

Tuesday, September 7, 2010


It’s the simple things in life that matter, and the Whataburger in Sulphur Springs, Texas has that simple charm. This Whataburger is just a quick stop for a good burger and extra salty fries, but to me it is so much more. It is made out of beautiful limestone, and the interior screams elegance. It has to be one of the most fancy and most spacious Whataburger’s I have ever seen. Sometimes I can forget I’m just eating at a cheap burger joint while admiring the real paintings hanging on the walls.

The atmosphere is not the only thing that gets me. When I walk into this Whataburger, the staff always greets me with a smile and belt out across the room, “Hello! Welcome to Whataburger. How are you doing today?” The greeting varies a lot depending on who is greeting you, and no other Whataburger has ever greeted me this way. The best thing is that the smiles never stop. While I dine, the staff constantly come by the table and asks if I need more ketchup or anything else. It’s almost as if they expect a tip (which they don’t)! Whenever I leave, I always hear over my shoulder, “Thanks for coming! Have a wonderful night!”

The best thing about Whataburger is that it is open 24 hours, opposed to everything shutting down at 10 p.m. like in my hometown. I have spent many nights hanging out with my best friends from high school and college at a Whataburger, and I have literally sat in a Whataburger all night long just talking. The staff never seem to care (as long as you order some fries or a drink). Sometimes the staff even joins in when they are not busy. Can you believe that a Whataburger is actually busy at 3 a.m.? Well believe me, it is! It all makes for a very pleasant experience.

Many memories have been made at Whataburger on a late night. I shall cherish them all.

Photo provided by Google

Friday, September 3, 2010

In Retrospect: A Nightmare on Elm Street

READER BEWARE: Opinions Are Expressed Below

I do not - I repeat - I do not want to live on Elm Street. To be honest...it's not because of the creeper Freddy Krueger...it's because the stupidest things happen on that street and in Springwood, Ohio - a not so nice place to live. OK, so why am I talking about this in the first place? Well, I recently had the pleasure to watch every Nightmare on Elm Street (including Freddy vs Jason). Sure it sounds like a waste, but hey...the DVD collection was only $10 at Wal-Mart, and I need entertainment in the doldrums of Commerce, Texas.

Other than watching mindless teenagers getting slaughtered in their sleep, I did learn something as I continued to watch the series. I didn't learn anything important, but I did learn the backstory behind Freddy Krueger. I have always been one to appreciate a backstory (preferably the good ones). I shall share this one with you...

The spark of insanity named Freddy starts off with Amanda Krueger. She was a young, innocent woman (innocent as in a nun) who worked at an insane asylum where she was accidentally locked up with 100 maniacs and raped continuously for several days. It was inevitable that she ended up pregnant. 9 months later when she gave birth to the demon child that was in her womb upside down, things started to go downhill. Young ginger Freddy, who liked to sledge hammer heads off of gerbils in class, was made fun of by classmates as "son of a 100 maniacs." Kids can be so cruel.

Freddy then matured into a ginger teen who cut his pale abdomen with a razor blade to reduce the feeling of pain. He demonstrated his numbness to his father as his father drunkenly beat him with a leather belt. The years went by and Freddy got married to a beautiful woman who gave birth to a pretty little girl. It was sometime during these years that Freddy turned into the Springwood Slasher and massacred little children. He managed to get away with this for a long time, until his wife discovered his dirty secret in their basement. She promised she wouldn't tell, but Freddy shook her to death as his pretty little girl stumbled upon the secret as well. It was she who turned him in after seeing her dead mother.

Freddy was soon arrested and court went into session. Due to some legal technicality, Freddy was released back out into the public and didn't pay for his evil deeds. That was until the parent's of Elm Street took matters into their own hands and burned him to death. As he took his last dying breaths, three evil spirits in the form of skeletal sea monkeys took over his soul and created the invincible Freddy we all "fear" today. To be honest, the only thing that scares me about Freddy is the way he runs...he looks like a crazed monkey.

I'm probably going to have a mob attack me for saying this, but Robert Englund is just plain tacky. You can preach otherwise until your face turns blue, but I'm not going to listen. When it comes to the point where the singing jump roping girls are the only thing scary and Englund addresses the audience members directly with corny jokes...it's time to end the series. However, I really did like the remake of the first Nightmare on Elm Street a thousand times better. It takes the Nightmare series seriously, and Jackie Earle Haley is great as Freddy. I'll be looking forward to more installments as long as Haley is on board. So there...Ha!

So here's my advice to you...watch only the first Nightmare on Elm Street and it's remake (I'm sure most people reading this won't). If you travel as far past the sequel you are treading into really dumb territory. I plan to tackle the entire Friday the 13th and Halloween series next. Who knows when that will be achieved?

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