Sunday, October 31, 2010

That Religious Guy: All Hollows Evening

..... 'Tis the night of Halloween and unlike many ghouls and goblins, I'm busy at my aunt's house finishing home work. Quite glamorous I know. Regardless of whether you're trick or treating or attending one of the many parties tonight, there's one thing you can't escape: that overwhelming sensation of Halloween. There's just something in the air on this night of nights. Cob webs seem to be more decorative than usual instead of a constant nuisance to house keepers everywhere. Grave stones are back in style. On this October evening, we are allowed to dress up as whatever we want, provided our outfits inspire screams or giggles. All the negative hype about this holiday is really unfounded. Halloween is a positive experience, an activity that every kid should celebrate.

..... Halloween has always been a religious holiday. To the pagans it was Samhain and to Christians it remains All Hollows Evening, the night before All Hollows Day, which is more commonly known as All Saints' Day. To the millions of participants nowadays, however, the event which brings tricks or treats is simply called Halloween. Many individuals tend to denounce this holiday as an evil celebration of death, demons, and magic. Thumping their Bibles, they point to passages that attack such elements. Sadly, these people miss the point.

..... As I gave away candy this year dressed up as a headless man, an outfit which really frightened a lot of kids, I realized that rather than weakening the morality of children, Halloween strengthens them. By being able to point and laugh at the ridiculousness of things that go bump in the night, young people realize that fear shouldn't be an obstacle in their lives. While one might argue that certain components of the holiday are bad (e.g. inappropriate outfits, vandalism, etc.), Halloween is overall a good influence.

..... After all, on what other day can one knock on his neighbor's door and receive treats, all the while dressed in an awesome costume? Halloween is no longer a dark pagan extravaganza. It has become a unifying institution in American culture. Seeing people young and old walking to different houses and meeting neighbors (maybe for the first time) is always a good thing, especially in today's social climate.

..... So break out your cauldrons and count your sugary loot because the night is not over yet! Happy Halloween!

- Jeremy Dela Cruz, veteran trick-or-treater.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

Thumbs Up Michy!: UK metal band, Bring Me the Horizon, reaches number one on the music charts in Australia

This blog post is a commentary on the above video. ^

Bring Me the Horizon, a hardcore metal band from the UK, reached number one on the music charts in Australia. Their recently released album, There Is a Hell, Believe Me I've Seen It, There Is a Heaven, Let's Keep It a Secret, sold over 3,600 copies.

"Now it's always impressive when an artist hits number one on the music charts, but a UK band's chart success last week showed just how easy it is to grab yourself number one in Australia."

So, just because Bring Me the Horizon surpassed those oh-so-catchy auto tuned, mainstream, pop and hip hop singles, the music industry is suddenly declining? BMTH is a unique band, that doesn't just sound similarly alike of other bands around them. This is a high achievement. Having BMTH reach first on the charts only proves that a song doesn't have to be one of those overplayed tracks on the radio that last about 5 seconds in your head. No, there is actually good music out there, and surprisingly enough, it can be recognized by a majority of people, as their fan base in Australia would agree.

Bring Me the Horizon may not be some famous and overplayed band that everyone knows, but look at what they achieved. They apparently are recognized around the world, mainstream or not.

"Is this alarming for the industry?"

Yeah, the music industry is obviously going downhill if a unique band -- that differs from the usual, same sounding, mainstream BS -- hits number one on the charts.

Short article


Saturday, October 9, 2010

Mikeala AxToGrind: "Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)"

"The future is bulletproof. The aftermath is secondary. It's time to do it now and do it loud. Killjoys, make some noise!" intones the character of Dr. Death Defying as the introduction to the new single "Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)" from the alt-rocking My Chemical Romance.

That's right, MCR is back, and with a catchy vengeance.

Despite claims of "no more concept albums," (the band has at least two story-telling albums under their belt already) the single reads like a tale of danger, decadence, and detonations, featuring the fictional Dr. Death Defying as a new-age carnival barker, and a mention of the (for now) mysterious "Battery City" -- a likely backdrop for the new album "Danger Days: The True Lives of the Fabulous Killjoys," out Nov. 22, 2010.

The single is propelled by (yep, you guessed it) a spirited chant of the non-word "Na" in a quick succession, which serves as a combination battle cry/insanely catchy hook. In addition to this not-a-word, there is also not-a-chorus so much as sort of motifs in the song, which include a randomly placed repetition of words and phrases like "detonation," "eat plastic surgery," and "give us more."

The absence of a chorus actually works very well with the song's raw feel, an encapsulation of a feeling of righteous anger and rebellion against conformity and stagnation. The choppy flow of lyrics feels purposely haphazard, an illusion of sloppiness in what is actually a very precisely timed song. As for the vocals themselves, founder and frontman Gerard Way never disappoints, delivering an fittingly stylized performance, sprawling from verse to verse.

The guitar is satisfying as always, sometimes taking a backseat to the power of the vocals, but rearing it snarling head in a burst of a solo towards the end of the song, blazing in a Brian May-touched fashion, but still distinctively from the fingers of lead guitarist Ray Toro.

Sadly, and is the slight downfall of many My Chem songs, the bass gets somewhat buried beneath the chaos of the powerful vocals and two guitarists. But perhaps it lives best overshadowed, providing a unsung hero of a back-bone in aid of the drums.

And, oh, the drums. The fantastic drums of the song sound suspiciously like the masterful work of Bob Bryar, the band's former drummer, who left during the recording of this album after six fruitful years with the band. This loss understandably slowed the release of the long-awaited album, the follow up to the platinum-selling epic "The Black Parade."

Overall, "Na Na Na" sounds like a warped protest song. As the band (not) so cryptically put in a recent promo video, "Art is the weapon against life as a symptom. Defend yourself." The art that is "Na Na Na" does just that, beating down "life as a symptom" with vivacious charm.

Care to defend yourself? Below is a link to the band-made lyric video for "Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)" I highly recommend it (obviously).

"Na Na Na (Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na Na)"

Thursday, October 7, 2010

That Religious Guy: Faith and Reason

 *Who's in the picture? : Fr. Georges Lemaitre, the man who laid the groundwork for the Big Bang Theory (surprise surprise!) and Albert Einstein, the man who said to the former, "This is the most beautiful and satisfactory explanation of creation to which I have ever listened."

..... Sooner or later, I would've had to break out an actual post about religion! For the past months, I've simply been generating posts on secular topics, placing more emphasis on languages then the divine. Fortunately, I was inspired by a quotation from St. Augustine of Hippo which reads: "Seek not to understand that you may believe, but believe that you may understand." Herein lies the problem of those who deny religion as mere superstition.

..... Recently, I've been entering into debates with atheists, deists, and all manners of "-eists" to the point that I was losing many of the battles since they wanted physical proof of the existence of God. To try to appease them, I attempted to utilize St. Thomas Aquinas' Five Proofs for the existence of God. Sadly, they would still not open their eyes. So I argued using the First Law of Thermodynamics and then the Big Bang Theory. All of these  attempts hit rock solid walls because we all knew we weren't going to convince anyone.

..... I guess one cannot really prove the existence of God to an unbeliever who tries to logically approach this problem. One must first believe before he can understand. In my view, there really is physical proof of God's existence. Just look around you. But in order to take this opinion, one must first believe in God in order to credit Him for creation.

..... I myself don't see a total conflict between my science classes and religion. Whether it be chemistry or biology, all seem to be explaining the way God works. It's only when my teachers profess science to be an end in itself that I digress from their teachings. Science shouldn't be treated as an unofficial religion by the educational system. Let's stick to the hard facts of metabolic equilibrium and move away from songs that relegate angels along with unicorns as myth. But I digress [again]...

..... The Roman Catholic Catechism states that there is no conflict between faith and reason, that revelation can coincide with logic. Still, precedence is given to faith because through it, one can accept religion for what it is: a system of proofs for the existence of that which we do not see. Surely the mystery of faith is that there isn't one. One just needs a little time, effort, and some divine intervention to receive it. 

- Jeremy Dela Cruz

Monday, October 4, 2010

That Religious Guy: Making up for lost time

..... So where does this typical Monday afternoon find me doing? Well, I'm finishing AP Government definitions while listening to 89.0 RFI Monde French talk radio. It always seems that the last week of break is the moment when people choose to kick it into gear and start doing home work, something that could have been done earlier. I am notorious for procrastination, for that sloth that corrupts students and leads them down the terrible path of going to movies with friends instead of writing their college personal statements. Yet ironically, I tend to wish I had more time to complete all the things on my to-do list. But it's time for me and many of my procrastinating pals to learn that wishing for more time can never affect our 24 hour day. We have to make time, to get time.

..... Wishing for more time merely begets regrets (Am I not a poet?). A two week break is certainly a time to relax and enjoy life, hence its name, but as high schools seniors, we can no longer afford such luxuries. Time is literally money, money in the sense of future income rather than present profit.

..... Not wanting to get left behind, I have my whole year planned out in terms of my college future. Tomorrow, I will accompany many of my friends to a visit to University of the Pacific where the plan is to that we each shadow a student who has the same major as we are deciding to take. October will also be seeing me travel on an all-expenses paid flight to Divine Word College, run by the very generous Society of the Divine Word. At DWC, I'll be experiencing World Mission Sunday and a multicultural festival as well as seeing for myself what seminary life holds. In November, the Congregation of Holy Cross is paying half price for me to attend a come-and-see retreat for the University of Notre Dame's Old College program.

..... I still, however, have to get down and dirty to get my personal statement finished for the University of Portland. Deep down, I know I can complete it, but I have yet to begin. The first step in any endeavor is definitely the most challenging. I keep thinking I'll do it eventually. But eventually soon becomes inevitably and inevitably soon festers into someday. "Someday I'll finish my personal statement." Doesn't really have a ring to it like "I've finished my personal statement guys!" right?

..... Sooner or later I'll have to buckle down and get to writing, but alas, my schedule is just to full of relaxation days that I can't seem to find an opening. For all of us in the same boat, let's begin making time for such college preparation activities by setting a day of pure trabajo because the more we wish for more time, the less time we end up having.

- Jeremy Dela Cruz