Archive for the ‘cc’ Category

February 25, 2008

I feel exhilarated by a website. This certainly isn’t the first time I’ve experienced a dramatic feeling from a website, but it’s the first time I felt the need or desire to phrase it that way. is a work of art by Jonathan Harris (creator of several different forms of web-based art). Harris is creating a log of feeling. At the 2006 TED Conference, Harris reported on as well as a couple of his other creations.

Harris sees his project as far more than simply logging the feelings of the world… although that certainly is an intended byproduct. The key for Harris is the passive observation. People who relate feelings in their blogs or websites don’t know that Harris is pulling that clip from their website, and those who visit the site don’t know exactly who is feeling what, but, while certainly abstracted, the feelings are as personal as it gets while remaining extremely anonymous.

It’s fascinating, for me, to experience feelings from reading the feelings of others. This certainly is a work of art. It is relating so much emotion and story in such a unique manner that it can be seen as little else. Reading, and at times seeing, the deepest feeling of everything from joy and anger to depression and blasé is a very affecting experience. Say what you will about the state of the human condition and experience, but one certainly cannot neglect to mention the fact that no matter what that experience is it is deeply tied to feelings. And this artistic expression of feelings reminds us of our own humanity.

-Chris Carson

TED Talk


The Golden Compass (2007)

December 5, 2007

The Golden Compass is The DaVinci Code 2.0. Let me explain – Christians are running and hiding from it, and chastising those who don’t chastise it. It even has dozens of Facebook groups touting the need to boycott it. But it’s got a leg up on The DiVinci Code because Phillip Pullman is a better storyteller than Dan Brown could ever hope to be, the movie doesn’t star Tom Hanks, and, oh, everyone keeps telling me that the kids kill God (Brown just messed with him).

If you’re looking for an in-depth look into Phillip Pullman’s entire His Dark Materials trilogy–the first of which was adapted into this movie–stop reading this review and check out Jeffrey Overstreet’s essay “Questions I’ve Been Asked, Answer’s I’ve Given.”

The Golden Compass is the starting point for a fantastical journey in a parallel universe. This world is much similar to our own with one noticeable difference – our souls. In our world these are hidden away inside of us, but in this other world the soul is found outside of the body in the form of an animal, referred to as a daemon (not demon), which is like a companion that others can see and talk to, and with whom they can experience life.

The film introduces characters such as Lyra Belacqua (Dakota Richards), Marisa Coulter (Nicole Kidman), Lord Asriel (Daniel Craig) and polar bear Iorek Byrnison (Ian McKellan), and introduces themes such as the deceit of the Magisterium and the power of young Lyra. As far as much more than that, there’s not much to say, because very little of anything get’s resolved (as tends to happen in the first part of a trilogy). The visuals of the film are stunning, and fantastical elements abound. However, that’s not really why you’re reading this review. You’re reading it so you can see whether I’m going to accept or reject the film; so, I’ll indulge.

While the film is full of things that tend to scare Christians such as witches (not the Harry Potter kind) and things that tell the Truth (other than the Bible), this first installment seems to have more things resonant with Christianity than many “Christian” movies. As my friend and I were walking out of the theater we overheard a man say, “I don’t know what the hell those Christian’s were so fired up about.” I couldn’t help but nod my head in agreement. I think this quote from Jeffrey Overstreet sums it up well. When asked if Christians should be afraid of the film, Overstreet responded, “Mercy, no. Let’s not be afraid. Discerning, yes. But not afraid.” That’s as great of a charge as I’ve heard in a while.

-Chris Carson

Rotten Tomatoes

Into the Wild (2007)

November 12, 2007

Into the Wild is the film adaptation of Jon Krakauer’s non-fiction book by the same title. Apparently, Sean Penn read the book a number of years ago and it stuck with him so much that years later he sat down to write the screenplay and didn’t even need re-read the book.

This is the story of Chris McCandless, a disaffected young man who eventually destroys his identity and sets out to experience life as never before. Chris’s family seem to have the American dream in hand: they have quite a bit of money, a seemingly loving relationship and a son who could be on his way to Harvard for law school. There’s one problem–Chris doesn’t want any of that. He cuts up his credit cards, burns his social security card and sets out as a tramp–Alexander Supertramp, to be exact.

The movie does a phenomenal job of chronicling Chris’s journey. Though there are certainly cliché parts to the film (Chris talking to an apple about how organic it is, for instance), the film is incredibly self-aware; so, moments after Chris calls the apple organic he makes a face at the camera. As we move through the story we learn more about what exactly Chris is doing and why, and we also meet a host of characters who affect Chris almost as much as he affects them. Through these relationships and experiences we see Chris move from an alienated individual to someone who is enjoying life to the fullest. The film ends in heartbreak when Chris dies in the Alaskan wilderness, miles away from anyone.

Although admittedly tragic, Chris is also heroic, and film shows this. It may seem at first glance that Chris’s struggle is merely anger or rebellion, but fortunately this isn’t the case. After the modern notions of truth and happiness that had surrounded Chris all his life had destroyed him enough, he left them, and went into the wild–both physically and metaphorically. Though it may seem as if Chris is merely a selfish loner who is attempting to escape society, towards the end of the film Chris is shown writing “happiness is only real when shared” in the margin of a book. Chris discovered more truth than many of us will ever know, and that is what draws me into his story. Chris knew more, loved deeper, experienced more than most of our surroundings would let us, and this shows through in the film beautifully.

-Chris Carson

Rotten Tomatoes

The Hold Steady at the Rex

March 28, 2007

The Rex Theatre on the Southside of Pittsburgh apparently used to serve as an actual theater. The only give-away to this storied past is the lit, carpeted walkways. This is a fantastic place for a concert, especially the Hold Steady.

Listening to live music can easily be compared to watching a live sporting event. Rarely (except on dumb commercials by TV companies) do you hear the claim that it’s better to sit at home and watch the game than go to see it–everyone knows what you’re missing.

The Hold Steady show is the same way. As I stand packed in, listening with friends I came with and a couple hundred other people I may never see again. There’s a pretty intense energy flowing through the room. Yet, we’re willing to stand abnormally close and even smile and laugh with each other (which certainly wouldn’t be acceptable if we passed each other on the street).
There’s very little more enjoyable in life than getting a glimpse into the life of someone who totally loves what they’re doing. The guys from the Hold Steady are a great example. From their constant smiles to their incessant thanking, they certainly looked like they might have been enjoying the concert even more than the exuberant audience.

During the final song, vocalist Craig Finn told the audience that “there’s so much joy in what we do” and started grabbing people by the hand, pulling them up on the stage. Finn just stood there smiling–surrounded by the twenty people he brought on stage–and mouthed “thank you.”

This is the kind of stuff that makes it more than worthwhile to go hear live music.


listen to the hold steady.
photo credit: Rex Sorgatz.

Freaks and Geeks (1999-2000)

March 22, 2007
Going back to the ’90s for a TV show that didn’t even air a complete season isn’t always the best idea, but in some rare occasions it’s worth it. Freak & Geeks is the reason I came up with that ridiculous sentence in the first place.

Freaks & Geeks is about teen angst and whole lot more. The show centers around Lindsay and Sam Weir, two high school kids who fall into two specific categories in their high school: the freaks and the geeks (yeah, that only happens in high school). Their two parents, Harold and Jean, stereotypically cannot understand either of their kids, yet at times are just what they need (Harold: “She’s hanging with a bad crowd. She’s lying and cheating and next thing you know, she’s Patty Hearst with a gun to our heads”).

The topics range everywhere from friendship to just trying to fit in (Lindsay: “All my new friends think I’m a goody-two-shoe and all my old friends think I’m throwing my life away. What am I supposed to do?”), but no matter what the show covers, there’s bound to be something hilarious in every episode, and something very descriptive about life even beyond the high school years.

The show was canceled for who-knows-what-reason (TV shows I watch have a habit of doing that), but you can pick up the complete first season on DVD from Netflix or from the store.


The Arcade Fire — Neon Bible (2007)

March 14, 2007
“I’m living in an age that calls darkness light.” There’s some capital-T truth for you.

The Arcade Fire’s highly anticipated follow-up to Funeral, Neon Bible, could be one of the most looked forward to albums of the year (next, maybe, to Modest Mouse). The album is clearly a biting critique of the modern age. It snaps at everything from government to church, and it’d be hard to find fault with many aspects of their appraisal.

The pessimism of the album is sharp as the Arcade Fire laments everything, summed up in the phrase “the poison of our age.” From planes crashing into buildings two by two, to the prayer of a father asking the Lord for a famous daughter, to asking if maybe he is the Anti-Christ, Win Butler has serious questions (and concerns) about the society and world in which he lives.

The sound of the album is as emotionally distressing as the message, and it is beautiful. Neon Bible (an overtly modern and blasphemous title) features a church organ and the typical Arcade Fire symphonic sound.

Despite the overwhelming sense of hopelessness Butler allows himself (and others) to dream of the place where no ships/cars/spaceships/subs go. It’s the place “us kids know” and it’s “between the click of the light and the start of the dream.”



The Well Fund

February 5, 2007

so, here’s an ambitious project, let’s raise over five grand in two weeks. not really intrigued? what if it was to build a well in Africa to help provide clean water to people who currently do not have it? that’s where you and the five grand both come into play.

five grand seems a bit daunting, but let’s break that down. with over fourteen hundred undergraduates as well as hundreds of faculty of staff that’s not much. we’re asking for around five bucks. sure you can give more and you can give less. whatever works for you, works for us. just give it to your RD or drop it off at the Call Office on the third floor of old main. make sure to put it in a sealed envelope with your name on it.

here’s a link to world vision (that’s who we’re going through for this). we’ll keep you updated on the progress. thanks for your help.