V for Vendetta

V for Vendetta is a film based off of a comic book by Alan Moore that is a rich display of political imagery on top of stunning effects.  V for Vendetta finds England under the ruler of a totalitarian government that supposedly represents our government.  James McTeigue is a first-time director for this film, but has worked his magic on the Matrix films, as well as Star Wars episode 2 and we can see the results in the explosions and fights scenes for V for Vendetta.  Although you never see his face Hugo Weaving gives a great performance as well as Natalie Portman making quite a showing for her as well.  V for Vendetta leaves audiences with a strong message and a story that will have them coming back to the movie time and again.

Although many of the action scenes are over the top and filled with explosions and violence, many of the loves scenes in the movie seem to be very artificial like they were placed in there just to keep us moving from dramatic scene to action scene.  These love scenes between Eve and V are artificial are artificial at best due to the both of the characters distraught backgrounds and necessity for each other.  I see V’s need for a replacement incase he meets his own end as well a need for interaction due to at least 20 years of being alone.  Eve on the other hand has a need for any parental roles such in case a father figure or someone who would give strength to her so she could stand up for herself.

The film is a very controversial one dealing with hot button issues that we face today.  The issue of giving up rights for the safety of a country is what many feel has happened today in America with the Patriot Act.  Another is the take over of the country by the conservative party in England which happened in the United States with the Republican Party and presidents such as Ronald Regan and George W Bush.  A problem that seems to face V for Vendetta is that the movie draws it source material from a comic written by Alan Moore at least 20 years ago.  I see the director and the writers trying to make the story relevant to today by trying to use England as America without going as far as saying “this is the United States”.  It seems when you try to fit something established like the comic and put it into a movie setting the story itself becomes molded to fit some aspects of Hollywood such as a love story and political idealism.  This seems to be the reason why Alan Moore has taken his name off most of the films that have been based off of his comics. 

The St Mary’s incident represents that kind of controversy, it was an act perpetrated by the government to put a political party into office.  The main idea was to create a virus that would kill many human lives and allow the government to come and save the day so they could be elected into office in November.  Since the blame of the attack is on terrorism its showing that it may reference atrocities that have happened in the Untied States such as 9/11.  Although no clear link is made in the film to it many of the events afterward creating a culture of fear many believe has happened in the United States of America under the Bush administration.  They also make show how the pharmaceutical company is hand and hand in the government and how much of a killing they made of selling the antis dote to the virus.  This is another clear example of showing how the government is hand in hand with big business.

One thing is for certain is that V for Vendetta separates itself from most comic book movies by delivering its hart hitting story as well as revolutionary ideals played out by deep characters.  Hugo Weaving who played Agent Smith in the Matrix films plays V a man who wares a Guy Fawkes mask and who uses violence to stir the masses and return freedoms to the people at any cost.  Although he is hidden by a mask we feel the emotions of a tortured soul that cries out for freedom.  Many scenes in the movie show his expertise in martial arts as well as his veracious verbose vocabulary.  V seems to represent anarchy in a political system that has oppressed its people.  He goes as far as saying “people should not be afraid of their government, their government should be afraid of the people”.  He has seen first hand the freedoms that have been destroyed by the government as well as the atrocities they have committed and believes that it must be held accountable.  We are never truly sure who V is at the end of the film which was a good choice that is unlike other movies of the genre. 

The character of Eve is played by Natalie Portman a young girl living in an oppressive world that seems to have been beaten in the opening scenes of the movie.  Eve has a childhood filled with tragedy due to the death of her brother in the St Mary’s epidemic as well as the death of her radical parents by the government for standing up.  She is very scared since this happened and hopes for the day when she can be as strong as her parents and stand up. Soon she is introduced to V she becomes enthralled in his radical ideals and works with him even though most of his plans become too violent for her to go through. One scene in the movie shows Eve being put through the torture that V faced earlier in life; although she hated V for it she seems freed by the rain in the end and is no longer afraid of the future.  The character of Eve never needs to know the identity of V because he stands for so much more than a man in a mask but ideals that she has coveted for many years.

Without a villain V for Vendetta would not succeed as well as it did and with High Chancellor Adam Sutler played by John Hurt we are given that villain. He is the antithesis to V and older man who hides from the public underground although his face is broadcast everywhere.  He uses fear mongering that keeps any kind of opposition to his regime underground and weak.   He institutes his values and judgments on everyone leading to arrests known as black bagging where people are dragged away never to return again.  The fear mongering of Adam Sutler’s administration is a clear stab at the Bush administration and the measures they will use to keep us safe from terrorism at any cost. Sutler believes that if the terrorist known as V is destroyed he can keep any type of change from occurring in the country.  What Sutler doesn’t realize is that what V believes in can never be destroyed “Ideas are bullet proof and can not be destroyed”.  Sutler and his administration fall to V and their infighting among themselves mainly due to Mr Creedy’s greed.

V for Vendetta succeeds as a movie that serves as model for a future that may or may not be true.  The movie ends at a point where we are guessing what happens next or if the natural order will be restored.  At points V for Vendetta can be a little drawn out but distances itself from other comic book movies by having a solid story that serves as a political piece against totalitarianism.  As we leave the film we can hear quotes by Malcolm X preaching about being able to fight back against those who attack against us.  Another quote by Gloria Steinem tells of a world order that is not based on race or sex.  These two quotes echo what happens in the film and help the viewer come out of the film with a better understanding of what the director was trying to get across.

-Matt Fischofer

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Hunter S. Thompson

Hunter S. Thompson is the founder of Gonzo journalism. According to Wikipedia “Gonzo journalism is a style of journalism which is written subjectively, often including the reporter as part of the story via a first person narrative. The style tends to blend factual and fictional elements to emphasize an underlying message and engage the reader:” Most importantly is that Hunter uses satire along with events that happen to him to drive home his point. After asking three people in class Caty Livgni, John Giangrasso and Amy Eiferman they all agreed that when a journalist puts himself in the middle of a story you have a better understanding of the events making for a better article.

Hunter was no exception to this in his first book about the Hells Angels he put himself into the biker gang when many Americans feared them due to the crimes they committed. The NY Times was impressed with what Thompson did stating he entered “a world most of us would never dare encounter:” Many of his non-fiction writing went noticed and Hunter even appeared in Rolling Stone magazine.

Another important part of Thompson was his use of drugs which is talked about in much of his articles and is one of the substances he uses in Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas the film as well as the book. One could make the case that Hunter’s drug use made him more creative and lead to many of the great books and articles that are out today. Although Amy had a disdain for drugs she said that many musicians have used drugs for creativity but shouldnt be a free pass to do drugs. John and Cathy both agreed that drug use was wrong and that there should be no excuse for using them.

One of his books Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas would go on to be a famous movie starring Johnny Depp as Thompson in his persona Raoul Duke. One of Thompson key ideas is that he uses many different names when writing for articles for Rolling stone or any other magazine. The film today has become a cult classic among many persons although it did not recieve good reviews from the critics while it was in theaters.

During his time at Rolling Stone Hunter amassed a bunch of articles together and wrote about the 1972 political campaign which was intitled Fear and Loathing on the Campaign Trail ’72. At this time in history there was a huge counter culture that clashed with the administration of Richard Nixon and the norms of society. If there was one man Hunter hated it would have to be Richard Nixon stating “For years I’ve regarded his existence as a monument to all the rancid genes and broken chromosomes that corrupt the possibilities of the American Dream; he was a foul caricature of himself, a man with no soul, no inner convictions, with the integrity of a hyena and the style of a poison toad”.

One of the main focus of the book and the articles were on the campaign of George McGovern the democratic challenger to Nixon in 1972. He was the antithesis to Nixon and was in support of amnesty of those who left the country due to dodging the draft, a lax drug policy, on top of a pro life sentiment. This was used against McGovern in a campaign strategy by Nixon by referring to McGovern’s campaign as the three A’s amnesty, abortion, and acid. Thompson actually liked McGovern but could see the writing on the wall, Thompson was never a fan of the politician but did appreciate what McGovern was standing for which was the opposite of Nixon.

Today is another story although Thompson is dead we have another presidential race that mimics 72 in the fact that one candidate represents the past administration while the other represents a change in American politics. Barack Obama is a young fresh face in american polotics a junior senator from the state of Illinois going against John McCain a senior senator from Arizona who was a war hero from vietnam. The fact that McCain represents an old administration that is vastly unpopular it is easy to draw reference to Nixon, while many of the liberal positions of Barack can be compared to McGovern (McGovern today has endoresed Barack for president).

This point in American history we are at a point were the republicans once again have lost a large source of power and the country will soon make a shift to the other side of the political fence. The campaign of Obama has shaken the country and people are asking the question if he represents the new ideas of the young and the hopes of tommorow. The question is asked can he win? Will the nation be ready for an African American president? John was asked this question and responded with an overwhelming ” there is no way he can loose because of the money he is racking in and the failures of the Bush administration”. Cathy had another response believing that many Americans wouldnt vote for Barack due to the race issue. Amy on the other hand agreed with John and said that Barack would win in the fall.

Thompson showed much contempt for he Bush administration towards the end of his life and would say that Bush might even be worse than Nixon himself. It would be anyone’s guess if Thompson would have supported Obama. Many believe that Obama is the anti-thesis to Bush administration and that would he would be the politican that Thompson would suupport.

Books By Thompson
Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas: A Savage Journey to the Heart of the American Dream
Fear and Loathing: On the Campaign Trail ’72
Hell’s Angels” The Strange and Terrible
Saga of the Outlaw Motorcycle Gangs

-Matt Fischofer

What are the alternatives?

Two weeks ago oil was at $145 a barrel putting a gallon of gas at a little of 4.23. We see oil as a primary source of energy but we hear every day that there are alternatives to oil but what are these alternatives? Who will end up paying the price? There is coal, nuclear, wind, and solar energy but how do they work and what effects will it have on the environment.

When people hear of nuclear energy some of the things that come to mind is the atomic bomb, deadly radiation, alongside three mile island and Chernobyl. Nuclear energy is one of the leading form of alternative energy in France which is 75% of the energy that they produce in their country. Did you know the United States has over 100 nuclear facilities and gives us 20% of our energy. Unlike the nuclear bomb the energy in a power plant is contained and created through nuclear fission. Nuclear fission is a process by which they take an isotope known as Uranium 238 and bombard it with many atoms, as these atoms become bombarded they split and hit other U-238 atoms making a reaction which yields a large amount of energy.

One of the positive sides of nuclear energy is that it does not put carbon in the atmosphere unlike fossil fuels and its waste is generally easy to dispose of. The problem with nuclear is you hear the same thing from people saying that they would not want a nuclear power plant in their backyard. This is do to the fear that is put into them by years of hearing about nuclear disaster and the threat of a terrorist attack on nuclear power facilities. Although since the mid 1970’s no nuclear power plants have not been built due to environmentalists. This has stopped the production of new plants that would be more efficient and cost effective alongside safer.

Nuclear power has its waste highly regulated by the government as the waste from this product is sent underground. Nuclear waste passes through areas by trucks which is a big scare for people who are afraid of a nuclear explosion. Nuclear waste does not yield a nuclear reaction as in the case of the nuclear bomb if there is a crash with a truck with nuclear waste the effects of nuclear radiation occur over long periods of time and will not have any short term effects on the environment.

What is the future of nuclear energy in the Untied States and as well as the world? Well the next step seems to be a reaction know as nuclear fusion. The best way to see nuclear fusion is just the the sun, nuclear fusion occurs as a giant mass takes in hydrogen and at high temperatures produces high yields of energy. The main problem with nuclear fusion is that it we can not reach a temperature that is as high as the sun. The next best thing we can do is cold fusion which occurs at a colder temperature but yields the same result. Unlike nuclear fission or coal this releases nearly no harmful waste materials and has such a high output of energy it would replace almost all other fuel sources.

50 percent of energy in the United States come from coal, this is a statistic that shocks most people as they only see coal as something to heat their barbecues with and wouldn’t think it would be viable as a reliant power source. In the US we have the largest amount of coal supplies and is a lot more clean than many people think of. The main problem with coal is that it is hard to mine coal and leads to many deaths of people mining it. Another problem is that when you burn coal you put sulfur dioxide in the air, luckily we have better techniques now that allow less sulfur dioxide into the air then we did 50 years ago. Also the United States has enough coal for the next 200-300 years which makes it viable to use as we shift away from oil in the coming years.

Wind and Solar are two technologies that are up and coming and provide energy sources that rely on the environment to power us and produce no environmental risks. Solar energy is basically harnessing the awesome power of the sun and putting it to work. Scientists say that the the sun puts out 1360J of energy per second in to a meter squared of area on a surface. Today solar panels are used to absorb this energy to try to use it to heat homes alongside other energy sources. The main problem is that solar cells are highly inefficient and can only have an efficiency rating in the teens of percentages.

With wind power we use windmills to catch the power of the wind so we can turn a turbine to produce energy. People think this is a good idea but objection comes from people who live out in the areas that windmill farms are not pleasant to look at. These last two forms of energy have not produced the kind of energy needed for the demands of the American people.

-Matt Fischofer

Theft plagues card games

Here are 2 cards together worth over $500

$300 printed on one card, $150 printed on another, and $200 on another, all this money on one card game and within a flash it could all be stolen.  Theft seems to be a part of the community players of Yugioh.  The game is mainly designed for the enjoyment of children yet it has a very diverse community pool of players that are much older and run into the late 20’s.  Mostly theft occurs due to leaving ones belongings out in the open while some of the more dangerous have assault.  There was one report of a tournament where someone was mugged by hitting someone in the back of the head with a lock and then taking all their cards from them.  Events such as these have made judges and organizers start to bring security into the mix.  Point in case Alex Shvartsman had police officers in the event that took place in Boston on July 5th.  Mike Kohanim a pro player had said that he can remember one time leaving a tournament outside of Neutral Grounds in New York and a few of his friends being jumped by three thugs.  They had there back packs full of cards stolen from them and called the police, although they were not able to get an good description on who these people were.  Many thefts such as these can not be easily solved because many of these theives who steal cards have more than one person operating them,  due to this if one person is blamed for a theft they can pass off the material to someone else and say they never saw anything.  Due to a lack of evidence that says the person stole from someone many of the victims never recover their stolen material and end up quiting the game.  Assaults such as these are sadly common place creating competitve play very dangerous if you do not take the proper prequations.  In many games stores throughout the country where tournaments take place there are cameras that are used to monitor people from performing ilicit activities.  It makes it hard for many people to start card stores due to the high rate of theft in some areas and it leaves many owners up for liability if they are not careful.  This brands of theft can be blamed on the fact that many cards that are made by Upper Deck (the distributing company) value in the hundreds of dollars, this makes any sort of deck you can build value itself up to $2000.  Many who steal these expensive cards end up selling them on ebay when they get them, since its not easy to track there is not much people can do to stop theft of their possesions. The company Upper Deck has an up to date tournament policy about cheating and does ban players who participate in these scams from playing the game in any way possible for any amount of time.
Matt Fischofer

A new person i met

Meeting new people is a necessity of the college experience and recently it has been no different from than any other interaction.  I sat down an interviewed a young woman by the name of Laura and from question one I knew I was talking to someone fresh and different.  My first question was an icebreaker, which happened to be what is your favorite color, which she said, was Lila.  I wouldn’t say there is one phrase or word that could describe her but if I could I would say that she dances to the beat of her own drum.  Literally she is a dancer with over at least ten years of experience.  She told me that early in her life she would dance to country music with her grandmother.  Laura comes from a line of dancers such as her mother who is a dancer just as her grandmother was.  Dance is a very important part of her life as she said that stage is the dancers canvass as well as that mixing together costumes, movements and music all make for a great performance.

There is not just dance to this young woman but a deep cultural respect for the arts, which she helps write in the Nassau Community college newspaper.   The arts section reflects upon music, art and any other creative expression that she feels she wants to put into the paper.  Writing seems second nature for this girl who not only reports on the news but also writes emotions and feelings into a journal.  Laura told me that she has a journal that she has wrote since she was a very young girl.  She said that it started out being her writing about her day from time to time than progressed into poetic rhythm about her life and the world around her.

When asked about a future career she came out and said creative arts therapy.  I learned that creative arts therapy is using music, art, dance and ECT to sooth patients who are going through rehabilitation.  Laura felt that sometimes its hard to put statements and words into form and that it is easier to progress if there is some kind of music around or anything creative that could start the flow of ideas or healing.  Another part of Laura emerged from my questioning one who was concerned for her fellow man and wanted to make a mark on society,

Finally my last question which was how would you spend your perfect day.  For most people it has many different answers but hers sounded very tranquil and that it reflected the kind of person she was.  First after a very long and refreshing sleep she would go to a dance studio and take a dance class. Secondly she would then go to a café and spend time reading and talking with some of the most important people she knew.  Lastly she told me she would wish that her day would have at least 48 hours in it so she could anything and everything she would want to do.
-Matthew Fischofer