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“This is our season, now is the time to pass on lessons learned” – Adventist Review

October 21, 2017

By Marvene Thorpe-Baptiste, Adventist Review Season of mists and mellow fruitfulness Close bosom-friend of the maturing sun;

Conspiring with him how to load and bless With fruit the vines that round the thatch-eaves run;” (“To Autumn” John Keats)

In the poem “To Autumn” John Keats addresses the beauty and the abundance of the season and it’s “intimacy with the sun”. He suggests a time of warmth and plenty, pictured as sitting just on the edge of those feelings of desolation usually associated with winter, which eventually lead to loss; emotions all synonymous with the passing of time. On re-reading this poem, I was transported back to my high school years and the Advanced English Literature classes taught by an amazing teacher, Joy Moore, who opened our minds and instilled an immense appreciation for the various literary works by Keats, Lord Byron, Robert Browning, Robert Frost, Shakespeare, Chaucer… to name a few.

Then I remembered that in the Bible, Ecclesiastes chapter 3 also talked about a season, more specifically about there being a “season and a time to every purpose under heaven… A time to be born, and a time to die;

A time to plant, and a time to pluck up that which is planted; A time to kill, and a time to heal; A time to weep, and a time to laugh;

A time to cast away stones, and a time to gather stones together; A time to embrace, and a time to refrain from embracing; A time to get, and a time to lose;

A time to keep and a time to cast away; A time to rend, and a time to sew; A time to keep silence, and a time to speak;

A time to love and a time to hate; A time of war, and a time of peace.” (Ecclesiastes 3: 1-8) Taking a look at the phases and stages we go through while on this earth we should often pause, reflect, and look around at all that’s taking place in our lives.

The mishaps and the mistakes we make which quite often turn into teachable moments. We have the privilege of seeing life thru the eyes of our children and then the grandchildren who I believe are the second chances we’ve been given by God, to experience life, and to really enjoy parenting or co-parenting without all the stress and responsibilities that come with child rearing. The question is often posed (more so to the aged) as to what phase of our lives we’ve most enjoyed.

How’s a person to decide? I believe that every phase has its joys and its sorrows, its ups and its downs. The years may have been defined by– a budding romance or the catastrophic break up with ‘the one’, a marriage, the birth of the first or third child.

The joys and thrills that offspring can bring, the possible serious mishaps of the teenage years, the marriage of the first- born interspersed with the illness or death of a parent or loved one, or the birth of the first grandchild. All comprising the seasons or times of change in our lives– and I haven’t even touched the highs and lows of our academic and professional lives. It was at the birthday celebration of one of my children that I recalled the words of this well- known poem/song, which in turn spurred on this internal discourse, and I found myself reciting….

“Is this the little girl I carried? Is this the little boy at play? I don’t remember growing older, when did they?

When did she get to be a beauty? When did he grow to be so tall? Wasn’t it yesterday when they were small?

Sunrise sunset, Sunrise sunset, swiftly flow the days, Seedlings turn overnight to sunflowers, Blossoming even as we gaze…

Sunrise sunset, Sunrise sunset, swiftly fly the years, One season following another, laden with happiness and tears.” (The musical “Fiddler on the Roof” Sheldon Harnick,- lyrics and Lewis B.

Jerrold) I must confess that for the many times I had sung that song I’d never looked at it experientially— until then— until now! September 12, 2017 marked the 11th year of my dad’s passing and remembering that event coupled with some other cross roads and challenges in my life, up to and including the devastating storms named Harvey and Irma, which visited so much loss and destruction on our friends and neighbors, all gave me reason to pause and reflect on the time and the various seasons of my life and the impact it may or may not have made on the lives of my family members and friends.

The natural human tendency is to bury/forget the painful/bad experiences. But, for whatever its worth, I believe that these experiences along with the blissful/joyful moments that we encounter all help to shape us into the wonderful individuals we are. I like to think of them as being the warp and woof of the fabric of our lives.

It is up to us then, to define and own the time and the seasons of our lives. What do we want to share? What do we want others to remember about us and the lives we’ve lived?

It’s important to note that we get to write the narrative, therefore it’s time to record the moments verbally or in script so that we may share them with others before they are forgotten: Bill Lane and Roger Nichols captured it quite well in this poem/song:—- “Good morning, yesterday
You wake up and time has slipped away.
And suddenly it’s hard to find
The memories you left behind,
Remember, do you remember?

The laughter and the tears,
The shadows of misty yesteryears.
The good times and the bad you’ve seen
And all the others in between,
Remember, do you remember
The times of your life? Reach out for the joy and the sorrow
Put them away in your mind,
The memories are time that you borrow
To spend when you get to tomorrow. Here comes the setting sun,
The seasons are passing one by one.
So, gather moments while you may,
Collect the dreams you dream today
Remember, will you remember
The times of your life?”

(“The Times of Your Life” Bill Lane – lyrics and Roger Nichols) Most of us are at that place in our lives where we could look forward and backward with clarity. By that I mean some of us have aging parents, or in laws, relatives or friends that we have to care for, along with the ongoing responsibilities to our perhaps now adult children, or young adult, teenager or preteen; as well as participating in the lives of our grandkids as we enjoy their hugs and sticky kisses.

For some of us that’s quite a span, but I can’t help but view these responsibilities as being an embodiment of the various seasons of our lives.

Therefore, for all of us who have “promises to keep and miles to go before [we] sleep,” I say this is our season, now is the time to pass on lessons learned, to remember and share the time of our lives.

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Baby Driver Blu-ray Review

Baby Driver Blu-ray Review

Inventive, tight, energetic, funny, touching, stylized, musically bombastic, non-stop thrill ride – the listof positive adjectives are never-ending for Edgar Wright’s new film BABY DRIVER. It’s no wonder that this symphonic heist getaway film has a lead character aptly described as Mozart in a go-cart. The perfectly orchestrated soundtrack is edited together to match each action throughout the entire picture.

Through an endless library of eclectic tunes, BABY DRIVER literally and figuratively hits every beat in one of the most creatively dynamic films in years. The story is a classic tale, or even a fairy tale if you will, about a young, meek, mostly good guy getaway driver, named Baby, wanting out of the heist game. Unfortunately, other forces are keeping him in the criminal activity.

The stakes are raised when boy meets girl. Baby’s stuck doing another ‘one last mission’ when his heart desire is to drive off with girl, car, and soundtrack on the open road and never look back. Ansel Elgort, Jon Hamm, Jamie Foxx in Baby Driver

Baby has an interesting quirk though. He has a constant ringing in his ear that he prefers to drown out by a constant rotation of just about all genres of music. Like an arm or a leg, Baby’s earbuds are another limb extension and the music is the blood running through it.

The interesting thing about BABY DRIVER is completely how the action is told. With a retro look and a somewhat grindhouse approach, every detail is cinematic pleasure. The art direction and costuming are subtle but informative to who the characters are and what the film is creating.

With a masterful lead direction from Edgar Wright, the editing and sound editing are nothing short from amazing and should hopefully get some recognition come award season. The precision to create a story so musically sound as each action lands on a different beat in a song is mind blowing. If this specific detail, which is like nothing I’ve seen on screen, isn’t enough, the characters are interesting and lovable.

Furthermore, BABY DRIVER’s action-packed car chase sequences make the crew from FAST AND FURIOUS look like punk posers, wishing they could have an ounce of the mystery and coolness from Baby. This is all while also being one of the most unconventionally remarkable musicals ever made. Ansel Elgort, Lily James in Baby Driver

Even when things slow down from the enthusiastic pace and riveting action, the dialogue between Baby and Deborah, played by a charming Lily James, is sweet and moving. Character names like Doc, Buddy, Bats, Darling, and Griff only add to the surreal atmosphere that delivers heart and shock. Sometimes embracing absurdity, there’s a bit of parody to other film’s we’ve previously seen, using a touch of humor and joy that keeps a smile glued to the face and the heart pounding.

Known names like Kevin Spacey, Jamie Foxx and Jon Hamm rev up the action with fully loaded performance as supporting players in the heist crew. But the two revelations of the film come in its lesser known star and a director who was fired from Marvel’s ANT-MAN in 2015. Previous roles in films like THE FAULT IN OUR STARS and THE DIVERGENT SERIES did not prepare audiences for what they will behold in Ansel Elgort as the title role of Baby.

He is a bonafide star, that will hopefully get a serious boost in his career. Previously known for his great comedic films SHAUN OF THE DEAD, HOT FUZZ, THE WORLD’S END, and SCOTT PILGRIM VS. THE WORLD, writer and director Edgar Wright proves he is a creative force in Hollywood who can be trusted to drive any genre.

Rated ‘R’ for some shoot-em-up violence and a handful of choice words, BABY DRIVER thankfully doesn’t overplay its hand when it could have easily gone overboard with the rating. Jamie Foxx, Kevin Spacey in Baby Driver Firing on all cylinders, BABY DRIVER excels in all the technical areas such as direction, editing, sound editing, art direction, costuming, scoring, acting, and pure adrenalized fun.

Delivering never-ending, operatic excitement, BABY DRIVER is a refreshing force of entertainment that tantalizes the senses through ingenious originality. BLU-RAY REVIEW Video: (MPEG-4 AVC 1080p, 2.39:1) The colors are vibrant and the characters are clear and detailed.

The clean picture perfectly captures the mood with the audio. Audio: (DTS-HD Master Audio 5.1) Crank up the audio. Not because it’s hard to hear but because it’s meant to be hears loud with the music surrounding every piece of action.

Every beat is heard beautifully. Audio Commentary: Writer/Director Edgar Wright does this commentary alone. He gives insightful and humorous anecdotes about the inspiration of the origins.

He details the creation process through writing, production and of course the music. He is very personal with his details and delightful to listen to through every step of the process. Audio Commentary with Edgar Wright and Bill Pope: Writer/Director Edgar Wright returns with his Cinematographer Bill Pope to discuss the details in making the film.

This track is a bit more technical and obviously talks about some of the locations and production design within the cinematography of shooting the film. Another good commentary track. Extended & Deleted Scenes (20:28): Eleven total scenes – First Heist, Kitchen Dance, Questions, Laundromat, Pizza!, Bacchanalia, Gas Station, Cops & Robbers, Foot Chase, Killer Track, and Behind Bars.

Behind The Scenes (45:13): These six featureless are great. You can play all or watch them individually. They are as follows:

  • That’s My Baby: Edgar Wright (9:18): This is the film’s origin story, how Wright came up with the idea and its development.
  • Mozart in a Go-Kart: Ansel Drives (5:52): Ansel Elgort performs some of his own driving stunts and this is piece of him working, learning and driving with the stunt drivers.
  • I Need a Killer Track: The Music (6:14): The importance of the music to the film.
  • Meet Your New Crew: Doc’s Gang (10:55): Each actor talks a little bit about their own and different characters in the film.
  • Find Something Funky on There: The Choreography (6:08): The actors and action match the music rather than the music matching the actors.

    The detail is quite impressive.

  • Devil Behind the Wheel: the Car Chases (6:46): The detail and complication of producing the car chase scenes.

Selected Scene Animatics (35:42): Animated pre-visualizations of eight different scenes – First Heist Original, First Heist Pre-Shoot, Killer Track Original, Killer Track Pre-Shoot, Masked Raiders, Farmer’s Market Live Action, Farmer’s Market Animated, and Foot Chase. Rehearsals & Pre-Production (17:03): A handful of rehearsal footage clips and some auditions and screen tests – Ansel Elgort Audition, Annotated Coffee Run Rehearsal, and Hair, Make Up & Costumes Test. Mint Royale – “Blue Song” Music Video (4:15)

Complete Storyboard Gallery Promos and More (21:10): Eighteen different trailers, promos, and even a music video for the film. Their are some pretty incredible teasers and advertisements for this film and it’s worth showing one of these to get someone excited to see the film.

Previews 4.5 MOVIE REVIEW

BLU-RAY REVIEW

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Video Game Review – South Park: The Fractured But Whole – Flickering Myth (blog)

Shaun Munro reviews South Park: The Fractured but Whole… After a series of frustrating delays, South Park: The Fractured but Whole is finally here, arriving amid the annual late-year AAA deluge and serving up a refreshing rebuke that’s by turns hilarious, deceptively deep and shamelessly offensive.

While it doesn’t quite reach the loony heights of 2014’s The Stick of Truth, it does nevertheless remedy a number of that game’s nagging issues, and will be easy catnip (or rather, Coonnip) for the series’ fans. The Fractured but Whole knows what worked best the first time around and clings pretty closely to the same formula, yet where The Stick of Truth trained its focus on skewering RPG games, the sequel takes aim at the current superhero movie boom, universes and all. The children of South Park have become divided over Cartman’s plans for a giant superhero movie franchise starring them all, causing them to splinter into two groups; Cartman’s Coon and Friends and Mysterion’s Freedom Pals, who square off in a Civil War for franchise supremacy.

It’s certainly a ripe concept for satire, and Matt Stone and Trey Parker take a typically merciless stab at the green-fuelled excess of Hollywood’s current comic book obsession, even if there’s clearly a subdued love for the genre in here too. That shell premise is ultimately just the window dressing, though, because much like The Stick of Truth, the new game branches off in innumerable different directions with more subplots than anyone can conceivably keep track of. Whether you keep to the main quest-line or get lost for hours in the wealth of side content, by game’s end it is a dizzyingly, wonderfully contrived mess, but given the story’s many divergences into time travel of all things, there’s no doubt that this is absolutely on purpose.

There isn’t much more to the primary gameplay loop than being handed a mission, walking yourself over to the marker, watching a cut-scene, picking up an object, maybe fighting someone and moving onto the next one. It’s easy to see how some players could feel exhausted by this, especially over lengthy play sessions, so it’s absolutely advised to break up the potential ennui with some of the more oddball optional missions, even if they’re not exactly a million degrees different either.

What does help sustain interest even when the mission design becomes painfully transparent is the hugely improved combat, which now operates with a grid system that players must strategically move around in order to maximise their damage and healing, and avoid enemy attacks where possible. The grid also allows new developers Ubisoft San Francisco to blindside players with some more ambitious and unpredictable boss fights, where enemies will aggressively flank the player from both sides, resulting in some genuinely intense confrontations. There are a few bugbears, though; special move animations are great fun the first few times, but the inability to skip these 10-20 second clips quickly becomes tiresome, and that’s without mentioning some occasional pre-fight scripted sequences which also can’t be skipped.

Considering that some battles can easily last upwards of 10 minutes, especially later in the game, it’d also be nice to see a battle speed option patched in, because failing the same fight a few times can feel groan-inducingly monotonous due to how painstakingly everything tends to unfold. For the most part, though, the combat is leagues ahead of what came before, and the sequel’s most-improved aspect. The deeper progression system is also surprisingly addictive, with players being required to find and craft artefacts in order to raise their might number, and thanks to the over-abundance of scrap at your disposal at almost all times, crafting never feels like a chore as it does in so many “serious” RPGs.

Improved though the gameplay is, The Fractured but Whole is a rare game, like its predecessors, where the main appeal is actually the story. Yes, it ties itself up in knots by the time the barmy conclusion comes around, but the journey is nearly a non-stop laugh riot, packed with knowing gags that wantonly mock just about every subset of humanity possible, from the political correctness brigade to rapist priests.

It’s worth reiterating that the game never goes quite as extreme as The Stick of Truth in terms of shock value, but it admirably holds its own all the same, delivering the ruthless satire with an intentionally excessive flavouring of poo, blood and, well, pretty much every bodily fluid possible. It is a game chock full of unexpected, out-of-nowhere moments sure to have you spit-taking your drink all over your TV, and that Stone and Parker manage to sustain it over a 15-hour campaign and many more hours of side missions is nothing short of astounding. Even when the mission structure began to feel a little tired or I was assaulted by a bug that forced me to reset the game (as happened on a few occasions), the next cut-scene or outrageous boss fight perked me up and left me eager to continue playing.

A big part of the reason it’s hard to put the game down is its staggering verisimilitude to the look of the TV series. Like The Stick of Truth, the paper cut-out animation style is perfectly replicated here to the point that you may not even realise when a cut-scene has ended and gameplay has resumed. The voice work, of course, is exemplary throughout and stunningly consistent with the show; there’s not even a hint of anyone phoning it in here.

For anyone who enjoyed the first game or has even a passing interest in the series, you owe it to yourself to get your hands on this game immediately. It’s not perfect, and anyone expecting a colossal leap from the original might feel a little underwhelmed, but on its own merits, this is the sort of daring, bravura craftsmanship the industry could use more of at this time of the year.

Pros:
+ A worthy sequel that’s brilliantly faithful to the TV show
+ Substantially improved combat
+ A winning mixture of humour both crude and clever
+ Tons of content
+ Excellent sound and visuals Cons:
– It’s not as fresh as the first game
– There are some irritating bugs
– Unskippable animations Rating: 8.5/10

Reviewed for PS4 (also available on Xbox One and PC)

Shaun Munro – Follow me on Twitter[1] for more video game rambling.

References

  1. ^ Twitter (twitter.com)

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