Sep 30, 2010

Uproar Festival

This is a really cool video that Mike Portnoy shared on Facebook about  the North American Rockstar  Uproar Festival, where metal drummers who use Sabian instruments came together this summer and fall. The video features performances and interviews from the Irvine, California stop in September. FEATURING: Mike Wengren (Disturbed), Mike Portnoy (currently touring with Avenged Sevenfold), Roy Mayorga (Stone Sour), Vinnie Paul (Hellyeah) and Flavio Cirillo (Hail the Villain).

Sep 29, 2010

Dexter is Back

The 5th season of Dexter is already on. After the first episode it's clear that some things are going to change in the series and in fact, some have already changed. And I'm not just talking about Rita. This is a highly recommended series that has not even got one episode to spare. Its seasons consist of around 11 episodes and all of them are indeed meaningful to the plot. This seems to still be the case now, and not many series achieve this. If you haven't seen Dexter before, it's never late to start watching the first season, and if you are already following it, here's a trailer of what this new season is going to be: 

Sep 28, 2010

SGU: Stargate Universe Season 2 New Trailer

The second season of Stargate Universe (SGU) is premiering this Tuesday, September 28. After the teasers, Syfy has released a real trailer consisting of 2:15 minutes of new scenes and it looks really promising. I am so looking forward to watching the first episode and see how the plot of this good series unfolds.

Sep 15, 2010

School is on again.

This week school has started again.

Last Monday, all the kids belonging to nursery education and primary education started to arrive to the school and everything started getting  much busier and noisier than all the previous two weeks. 
As of today secondary students arrived, too. Happy faces, new faces and not-so-new faces all at once, as students from the past come back this year again preceded by their stories and quite a bit of expectation. While waiting in the playground to be called, greeted and be assigned a tutor and a class, some students came to me to say hello, tell their summer stories and ask lots of questions dealing with the rumours about the changes being made in the school for this year. Group changes, the books, new tutors in some levels, new teachers, a new teaching assistant from Canada... It's also been nice to being able to tell some girl how proud I was of her September exams results and of her spectacular course recovery in the last months of the past academic year. ESO 3 is probably the hardest level due mostly to the high hormone levels that the students have!!

For this course, students all over the school are being mixed, I mean, students have (pretty much) been in the same group since they were 3 years old, with the same classmates jumping from 1ºA to 2ºA, etc... But now that's changed. There's been a mixture of pupils between lines A and B in all courses, and that will happen every course from now on. That has caused life-long friends to become somehow "separated" (they are still in the class next door) but tears have been running when the groups were assigned (especially by some nice girls, which was kind of moving). However, we think that's best for them and I hope that they'll get used to it in a week or two. And it's been really rewarding to see some girl coming running through the hall later, smiling and saying: 'Pablo! I'm having you in English this year again!". Isn't that something? Haha!

Sep 14, 2010

A Song of Ice and Fire: HBO´s 'A Game of Thrones' Preview and Teaser Trailer.



I just learned through my fellow blogger Sonia (in Spanish) that HBO has recently shown a preview and a new teaser trailer of their adaptation of George R.R. Martin's A Game of Thrones, the first novel of the epic saga A Song of Ice and Fire, of which I quickly became a die hard fan. 

While we actually get to see the new HBO series in 2011 or we can lay our hands on the new volume of the saga that is only some months away (hopefully, as everybody who is up to date with what Martin posts in his Not a Blog can make a safe guess and say that he is one of the busiest persons in this planet) we can treat ourselves with the few new images and short interviews that have been broadcast so far to the series producers D.B. Weiss and David Benioff, Sean Bean and George R.R. Martin himself among others. You can take a look here:


We've also got a new teaser trailer called Raven in which we can see a few images of what the series will look like. It's not much of course, but just enough to make ourseves a first idea:


As Sonia says in her post, this teaser has been analysed really deeply in the website Westeros, so you can also visit their site to get a fan perspective. 
And finally, as it seems, a new website where we can follow news and what's happening in the shooting of A Game of Thrones has been made public: http://www.makinggameofthrones.com/.

Are you as looking forward to seeing the first episode as I am??

Sep 11, 2010

Avenged Sevenfold (A7X) in Barcelona.

Hummm... I just learned that Avenged Sevenfold are coming to Spain next October 20. And I'd love to go see them but... October 20 is a Wednesday, and they are just playing in Barcelona, which is reaaaaally far away from Madrid and it's just an impossible endeavour to finish work on Wednesday evening, go to BCN and be at work again on Thursday morning. 
So, this is a message to A7X: Guys... gigs are usually on the weekend so that people can go see you. And if you can't make it on Saturday, at least try to go to a couple of cities... I live in the capital of the country, odds were in my favour!! Murphy's law I guess... 

Well, I'll have to live with it and wait to see if there's a next time. I've grown interested in A7X lately because Mike Portnoy, (ex)drummer of Dream theater, which happens to be one of my favourite bands, has helped them record their last album and is on tour with them right now. Tragedy struck Avenged Sevenfold a while ago, when their drummer, Jimmy 'The Rev' Sullivan, passed away unexpectedly. He had already written most of the drum parts for the next album, and the band asked Portnoy (Sullivan's favourite drummer ever) if he would play those parts as The Rev would have liked that. So Portnoy did, and after recording the album he's been on tour with the band -right after finishing touring with DT supporting Iron Maiden- and Barcelona's is one of the tour concerts and I won't be able to attend it. I already missed the chance to see Dream Theater on tour with Iron Maiden -I could go see Maiden but DT only supported them on the American leg of the tour- and chances are that seeing Mike Portnoy won't be an option either haha!
Mike Portnoy

And there's sometghing else. Yesterday, Mike Portnoy announced that he was leaving Dream Theater due to his need to take a long break from the band. Apparently, he has been feeling like needing it for over a year now and he asked the guys to focus on personal projects for a year or two and then go back together fresher and bigger than ever. However, it seems that the rest of the band didn't feel that way, and they let Portnoy go to continue with DT on their own. 
Some questions arise now. Portnoy was the leader of the band, he was always the most visible person and even his father named the formation. His role, in my view, was that of Steve Harris in Iron Maiden. Harris visit to the recording studio to arrange the album mixtures with Kevin Shirley right after landing on LA during the  Somewhere Back in Time World Tour really caught my eye. It was his band and he supervised everything. It's easy to see that on the DT DVD documentaries too, and an example that caught my attention was that of Portnoy telling James LaBrie the right way to sing a part of the song, correcting his previous attempt. He really cares about the band and it mus have been a tough decision to make. Yesterday was a sad day for all of us, I really liked his way of playing, but I'll keep following him anyway. 

So, he is with A7X now but only temporarily, just as a favour. You can take a look at what Avenged Sevenfold's tour with Mike Portnoy looks like here. Isn't it something??:

 

Sep 8, 2010

SGU: Stargate Universe.

Stargate Universe is the last sequel of the original Stargate SG-1 TV series, which was based on the Stargate movie released in 1994. 
It is quite clear that after Stargate Atlantis the creators of the series wanted a new and fresher story to continuate the saga without using the same resources and themes that they had been using so far. SG-1 and Atlantis deal with the events that follow the discovery of the Stargate and what it represents to mankind: the exploration of new worlds, the encounters with alien races, the acquisition of new technology and ultimately the journey to Atlantis, in the Pegasus galaxy, where an Earth team is pretty much stranded and has to face new dangers on its own. The tone that these series set is quite a light one, they are usually classic adventure shows with a lot of sci-fi action and good special effects (specially in the case of Atlantis) and some really special characters that create the comic relief -great Jack O'Neill and Rodney McKay played by amazing Richard Dean Anderson and David Hewlett for example. These two will hardly go unnoticed if you ever watch the show. Of course there we can find darker episodes and themes, and both of them have their deal of tragic moments and can create tension quite well. However, SGU is something else.

So, what's different about Stargate Universe? From my point of view, this series targets a much more mature audience than the other two did. I think that the creators of the Stargate franchise realised that the show was beginning to be a little repetitive, even in the case of the much newer Stargate Atlantis where the plots in the last season weren't getting any better -if not worse. People who have been growing along with the saga are not youngsters anymore, and even if they still love the show -which I´m quite positive that they, like myself, do- they might start losing interest in it in favour of more mature and complex shows. This is where SGU kicks in. From the very first episode we lose almost all connection to what we were familiar to when dealing with a Stargate show. When I watched the first episode it almost felt like it was a totally different show after the first minutes. The story has no continuity with SG-1 or Atlantis, and this independence gives it much of its value and the liberty of creating a new atmosphere. It begins with the destruction of a base out in a remote planet where experiments are being performed as to being able to dial a nine-chevron stargate address, something that had not been possible before because of the energy constraints. Due to the attack on the base the survivors escape through the gate into the unknown, finding themselves on the starship Destiny, built by the Ancients several million years ago. The ship is almost a wreck, many of its systems damaged or failing, and the team is unable to control it or take it out of its pre-established route. We learn that the ship was sent from Earth into space on its own, preceded by previous ships which planted stargates on its way.  The Ancients planned to use it as a means to explore distant galaxies by using its Stargate to board the ship when it was far enough out into the universe. However, they started looking into ascension before they carried out the plan, abandoning Destiny to its programmed route and not caring about its mission anymore. 
This is the scenario that the team encounters when they arrive to the failing ancient ship that can barely sustain life in its state. Quickly, tragedy strikes, and we are led into thinking that the comic relief to which we were used to until now might take a while to come this time. If it comes at all.

The starship Destiny
We are soon taken deep into a dark and tragic story that focus on its characters more than it does on its adventures, and we find themes that were not present in previous Stargate shows, such as sex. They are facing a limit situation to which they were not prepared. Their flaws and personal issues and different situations play a very significant role during the series, and we will find that distinguishing good characters from the evil ones is not as easy a task as it used to be in previous shows. And I really like that. This deeper set of characters in a limit situation creates a very rich story in which we will find people, actions or situations to which we can feel identified in several ways.

I really like SGU so far, and I am very eager to see how the second season develops itself after the cliffhanger ending of the first one. It will begin next September 28 on SyFy for you guys living in the US of A. If you have not given it a try I strongly recommend you to do it if you have enjoyed any Stargate movie or series so far, or even if you like sci-fi in general and specially darker shows like Battlestar Galactica. For starters, you might like to take a look at what it looks like here and check out the mood. What do you think?:

Sep 4, 2010

Sherlock

Some days ago I discovered by chance a new BBC TV series, and as far as I know it has not been broadcast in Spain for now. It is a modern and updated version of Sherlock Holmes, the detective created by Arthur Conan Doyle between the end of the 19th and  the beginning of the 20th centuries, this time set on Modern Day London, and I must say that it's innovative in some aspects and can be considered to be out of the ordinary. For what I've seen so far it's something worth to give it a try because of its special style, not being anything like any investigation-oriented TV series that I have watched before.

TV versions of this character (or even those for the big screen, remember the terrible Sherlock Holmes with Robert Downey Jr. and Jude Law, a joke in which we could only connect the characters that we saw on the screen to Conan Doyle's work because of the movie title) are not usually very fortunate. It is clear that creating a faithful live action characterisation of  personages or settings and a similar atmosphere to those that we can find on the novels has never been an easy task. Holmes's case is especially remarkable in this aspect, as it's about depicting England at the end of the 19th century, which at a first glance doesn't seem to be an easy task due to the big budget needed, the finding (and creation) of appropriate location shots, etc. Well, it's not hard to notice the poor CGI on Downey Jr.'s version, really bad for such a modern movie. Mary Poppins' London looked more real to me, I think.
In this case BBC has not chosen the hard way to make an adaptation of one of the most famous British icons. By creating a modern version of the character they have skipped most of those problems, although they have inevitably created others. It's not a big leap to guess that the most hardcore Holmes' fans aren't going to be too satisfied by losing all the Victorian England elements which had such an important role in creating that special atmosphere to the written work, even when the character's personality is quite faithful to the original and some nods to it are found here and there, like for example the appearance of St. Bartholomew's Hospital, the place in which Holmes and Watson originally met for the first time in A Study in Scarlet.

Benedict Cumberbatch
I decided to give it a try anyway. I've always loved Conan Doyle's work and listening to British accent on TV these days is not that easy and it's always welcome. And of course London is a brilliant place as a location to shoot a series, as at least I am somewhat tired to see New York everywhere (not that I don't like the city, it's just some kind of NY saturation in American movies and TV shows). Everybody knows at least most of its buildings and significant places and has seen them destroyed several times and in several ways, so change is always welcome, don't you think?
The actor chosen to incarnate Holmes is Benedict Cumberbatch, of whom I had never heard before although he seems to have played lots of roles on TV, movies and also on stage. He represents a modern Holmes who can dress, has got a strong (and quite special) personality, a big number of contacts in the city among the oddest kinds of people, and possesses the same observation skills that the original character did in spite of being so sharp to understand people sometimes and at the same time so  unsuccessful some other times. However, that plays in favour of the brilliant complexity of the character through Cumberbatch's interpretation of the role. However, as he is being represented as a younger man than Conan Doyle's character was, he has been represented as being more impulsive and self-sufficient, something that will bring him more than one problem in these episodes.

Martin Freeman
We've also got Holmes' sidekick in the series, doctor John Watson, in this case the actor Martin Freeman. I did know Freeman from such different origins as the British version of The Office or from his brief role in the Hot Fuzz motion picture starring Simon Pegg -which isn't bad at all either. It's British and quite appealing, with lots of fights and shooting.
In Sherlock, Martin plays a very believable Watson that creates a very good match to Cumberbatch's counterpart, making them work well on screen. Watson has been a soldier in a modern war, Afghanistan now instead of the Boer Wars (logically) which were mentioned in the original novels. And, although at first he seems to be one of those people whom you wouldn't really notice when you pass him by in the street, from the very first episode we can see that he is an incomplete person who still carries problems from the past with him. Somebody who needs, somehow, the kind of life that Holmes offers to start growing again as a person. Something that, as we say, we witness to start happening from the beginning.
Well, I´ve already seen a couple of episodes (from a total of three that complete the first season). I´ve liked it so far and I really feel like watching some more. It would seem at first that they are too few episodes to start a series, but we must take into account that each one lasts for 90 minutes (they are as long as a regular movie) and they are not boring at all. The length of the episodes allows the writers to create a complex plot that is not constrained by time limits. In this manner the episode goes by at a normal pace as the plot unfolds and we follow the investigation in a way in which we never have the feeling that it's going too fast. That's a remarkable advantage, although for what I've read so far we won't be watching any more episodes until 2011. By the way, if possible try and watch it in HD because this series has got a really good technical and visual work and it's a much better experience to watch it at at least 720p. For the moment, if you feel like taking a look at it you can try this trailer with which the BBC has been promoting the show on TV:


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