Today is the birthday of Peter Gene Hernandez aka Bruno Mars. He was born and raised in Honolulu, Hawaii by a family of musicians and today he is turning 28! Happy birthday Bruno Mars or Hau'oli la hanau (Hawaiian for "Happy Birthday" or literally, "Happy Glad Day"). In celebration of his birthday, I've decided to share some of my favourite Bruno Mars songs!
This week I've been working on a final exam for the online grammar course I've been taking to finish my TESL certificate. I'm nearly finished! I'm really excited to pass the exam and start looking for jobs. I could have started earlier but I wanted to finish the grammar course first. Just makes the most sense to me.
In the meantime, I won't be able to put up SV XVII tomorrow (Friday, August 30). I would have suggested updating it Saturday, however my mother's birthday is on Saturday. So I'm in a bit of a bind. I apologize, my dear readers but you'll have to wait until September 6 for the next Shadow Vault update.
Wish me luck on my exam!
Edit: I passed!
As a Canadian I thought it would be interesting to share a little about Canadian history. Today is Sir John A. Macdonald Day, he was the first Prime Minister of Canada. He played a very important role in Canadian history by joining the provinces, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and the province of Canada under the British North America Act in 1867. This act created a federal dominion and defined the government of Canada.
After the official creation of Canada on July 1, 1867, John Alexander Macdonald was knighted and designated the first Prime Minister. He is credited with creating a Canadian Confederation. In the 19 years he served, he took what was a small colony and spread the population across the land with the help of the railroad. Despite his great efforts he was never truly honoured with any fantastic monuments unlike his American counterpart, George Washington. It wasn't until 2001 that Canadian parliament named January 11 Sir John A. Macdonald Day, yet you wouldn't know it since it passes by unnoticed. Largely because it's not a holiday. It's a shame since without his hard work and dedication there might not be a Canada. Yet it truly speaks volumes about Canadian culture.
Happy 39th birthday Jemaine Clement!
Jemaine is a terrific albeit underrated actor. I would like to take this opportunity to celebrate one of my all time favourite television shows (and musical groups), starring Jemaine Clement and Bret McKenzie, Flight of the Conchords.
If you haven't watched Flight of the Conchords yet, you're missing out. This television series is absolutely hilarious with clever and irreverent moments. At first the music is a surprise but you inevitably end up falling in love with their folksy beats. I know I can't help singing, even long after I've watched an episode. They make songs about real life moments, making fun of the serious and dramatic.
Some of my favourite songs from their show are: "Not Crying", "Business Time", "Foux Du Fa Fa", "K.I.S.S.I.N.G./A Kiss Is Not A Contract", "Feminist Toothpaste", "Sugalumps", "You Don't Have To Be A Prostitute", "Hurt Feelings", "Too Many Dicks On the Dance Floor" and "Carol Brown". All of their songs are truly great especially since they're well timed and always hilarious.
Flight of the Conchords is the name of both the musical group and the television show. The group has been active since 1998, making appearances on shows to perform their original and amusing songs. In 2004 they had a BBC radio show and in 2007 they started a television show that ran 2 seasons.
Their fame was recognized when they made a cameo on The Simpsons in "Elementary School Musical" as two camp counselors. At first their life appears flattering until Lisa finds them living impoverished in "Sprooklyn" (homage to their show where they live in Brooklyn).
Jemaine's career was launched by his musical fame into new and interesting roles. For instance, he plays Kieran Vollard in Dinner for Schmucks. An artist in touch with his hedonistic and animal nature. His character poses a threat to Paul Rudd's romantic relationship due to his animal magnetism. It seems women just fall for him and he certainly doesn't hide his affections for them.
An even bigger surprise was Jemaine's role in Men in Black 3 as the villain, Boris the Animal. He does an absolutely superb job creating an aura of arrogance and infamy. I truly enjoyed this role. It was unexpected and well executed. It's such a stretch from his musical comedy that it was refreshing. If you haven't watched this movie yet, I would recommend it. It's definitely better than Men in Black 2.
Jemaine is not the only one making appearances on the silver screen. His musical partner, Bret has also made startling appearances. He plays a small part as an elf in Lord of the Rings: The Fellowship of the Ring and Return of the King. He must have made an impression since he's returned in The Hobbit: An Unexpected Journey with a speaking role and name, Lindir. He is also scheduled to appear in The Desolation of Smaug and There and Back Again.
I hope to see more of Jemaine and Bret in the future. They are comedic geniuses and terrific actors. I should mention, there are rumours of a Flight of the Conchords movie. I really hope it's true! For now, I leave you with "Foux Du Fa Fa".
Today is my younger brother's birthday, he is 21. In honour of his birth I will be discussing a condition that is very important to me, Down Syndrome (DS).
My little brother has Down Syndrome. It is a condition present even before birth. There are prenatal tests to assess the possibility that a fetus has Down Syndrome. What does it mean? Down Syndrome is a chromosomal condition where there are too many copies of chromosome 21. Babies can be born with any number of chromosomal abnormalities or mutations which result in infinite possibilities. Down Syndrome just happens to be the most common.
The effects of Down Syndrome are typically mild. They might take a bit longer to learn something but once they do, they don't forget. Most people with Down Syndrome function quite normally in their day-to-day lives. They have responsibilities like working and cooking but they also share meaningful relationships with those around them.
It's funny to think that something so simple can affect someone so much. I'm not necessarily referring to slower cognitive abilities but the attitude surrounding their condition. What makes me particularly sad is the fact that mothers who carry a baby with DS often choose to abort. That sort of attitude only reminds me of other narrow minded beliefs such as aborting female babies because males are more desired. Of course I do believe in the right to choose but I'm hoping that choice is not based on something as superficial as sex or DS.
My mother was aware that my little brother had DS and chose to keep him. I could not be more grateful. He has brought more light and love into our lives than anyone ever could. He is sweet, compassionate, thoughtful, wise and most of all, funny. He is my favourite sibling by far (and I have 5). What hurts me are the attitudes and behaviour of others. However people find out my brother has DS, the reaction is usually the same, judgement. They'll make a sad face and tell me they feel sorry for me, going on about how it must be hard. The only thing that's hard about it are their reactions. They shouldn't feel sorry for me because in all honesty, I pity them.
They don't know the joy and love my brother shares with everyone. They don't know what it feels like to be unconditionally loved no matter what. He doesn't judge, he doesn't hate, he isn't negative and he'll always be on your side. How many people can you say that about? None? The vast majority of people are just the opposite; they're quick to judge, they hate easily, they get down on themselves and everyone around them, and you can forget about them being on anyone's side but their own. I wouldn't call that "smarter". I would say that they're more susceptible to human fallacy.
Therefore I put forward that my brother is smarter than the average person. In fact, I wish more people were like him. Perhaps then this world wouldn't be so filled with hate and fear. The next time you see someone different than yourself, stop yourself from judging. Everyone makes snap judgements, the trick is to find where that judgement is coming from. Is it coming from a place of knowledge or fear of the unknown?
If you ever have the pleasure of meeting someone with DS, don't be awkward. They're people, like you and me. They have feelings just like we do. The best thing you could do is be yourself. Honestly, as a general rule, you should never stop being yourself.
I would like to recommend one of my favourite books about DS: Our Brother Has Down's Syndrome: An Introduction for Children by Shelley Cairo. It's short and sweet, offering a simple explanation and concluding in a similar fashion. I'm very lucky to have such a fantastic brother.
Happy 49th Birthday Nicolas Cage! Today we celebrate over 30 years of acting. I can't believe how fast time flies. While I was looking over Nicolas Cage's filmography I quickly realized that I've seen most of his films! He is definitely one of my all time favourite actors. He is incredibly diverse and enigmatic. Not to mention humourous and committed. I believe he is truly a consummate professional.
If you're at all familiar with the Coen brothers then you know their films are always rife with bizarre circumstances and even stranger humour. In Raising Arizona (1987) Nic Cage plays an unfortunate criminal who marries an officer. Due to their inability to have children, they hatch a scheme to take a baby from a family that simply has "too many".
Vampire's Kiss (1988) is probably one of Nicolas Cage's most surprising roles. The movie is unexpected and brilliant. He plays Peter Loew, a publishing executive who thinks he's been bitten by a vampire. The entire film is chalk full of dark humour. The character eventually degrades to the point of buying cheap vampire teeth and sleeping beneath his coffee table.
Probably one of the funniest aspects of Vampire's Kiss is the surprising familiarity of a still image taken of Nicolas Cage. Somehow it has developed into a well known internet meme entitled, "You don't say?" Often used in situations where a particular statement is already painfully obvious, representing a sort of facetious humour. Truly hilarious.
If you're looking for a great action film, look no further than The Rock (1996). Starring alongside Sean Connery, Cage is a weapons specialist called upon to infiltrate Alcatraz in order to stop a rogue group of marines. They're armed with dangerous rockets capable of releasing a terrible gas that would decimate entire populations.
Not all of Nicolas Cage's films are dark. In City of Angels (1998) he is a mysterious figure living between the light and shadow. In this sweet and romantic film, playing opposite Meg Ryan, the audience is confronted with the opposition of life and death, love and loss. I've watched this movie countless times and each time I enjoy it more than the last. It will make you fall in love.
Another great film is The Family Man (2000). Nicolas Cage is Jack Campbell, a man of great wealth and success. Despite his apparent happiness his life contains little substance. In a bizarre instance he is transported to an alternate timeline where he meets the family he could have had and experiences unconditional love, changing him forever.
One of his best films by far is Lord of War (2005). Yuri Orlov is an arms dealer that makes his money by providing weapons to anyone who wants them regardless of what side they're on. Although he makes a substantial profit he begins to wonder at what cost.
If you think you've watched all of his brilliant roles, you might be wrong. In my opinion my favourite character is Joe from Bangkok Dangerous (2008). Joe is an assassin living in Thailand for a month long assignment. He is detached and withdrawn from the rest of humanity. Despite himself he becomes interested in protecting a woman he barely knows.
I could go on and on about Nicolas Cage's great film legacy but I have a feeling it would be unending. Every movie I've ever watched with him as the star has been absolutely enrapturing. I know that there are many people who say nasty things about him but those people have not achieved his success. I believe that more than anything their opinions are borne of jealousy. The internet can be cruel but it seems to me that people who spend their time putting others down are they themselves insecure.
Although some comments can be cruel, others are just silly. In a strange post on eBay, there was a photo (most likely spoofed) allegedly from "1870" Tennessee. The portrait seems to portray someone of great similarity to Nicolas Cage. It has been said that this is proof Nic Cage is indeed a vampire. While it's obviously ridiculous, it's quite amusing. One could pretend that his great success and fame is due to his innate hypnotic powers. In a way that's true, he is incredibly charismatic.
It is my honour to thank Nicolas Cage for entertaining millions. I look forward to many more films because I know I'll enjoy them.
It Could Happen To You (1994)
Snake Eyes (1998)
Captain Corelli's Mandolin (2001)
Matchstick Men (2003)
National Treasure (2004)
The Weather Man (2005)
Season of the Witch (2011)
Click on the links below for special videos!
Today is Jeff Bridges' 63rd birthday! I can't believe the spectacular film legacy he's created in over 40 years (over 60 years if you count his role as an infant in The Company She Keeps). As usual with famous birthdays I would like to honour this actor by discussing some of my favourite films.
One of my favourite films of all time, without a doubt, is The Last Unicorn (I really should have put it on my Top 10). Jeff Bridges is the brave and dashing Prince Lir who falls in love with the mysterious Amalthea. Unbeknownst to him Amalthea has a secret that changes everything.
This handsome man is Jeff Bridges as Christopher Sheldon, otherwise known as "Skipper" in White Squall. A typical Ridley Scott film of epic proportions, Skipper has to help his young crew survive one of the worst possible storms in the ocean. It's inspiring, touching and suspenseful. A truly terrific film that should never be forgotten.
That's quite the Dude there, wearing a bathrobe in a supermarket and openly drinking half and half. In fact that's his name, the Dude from The Big Lebowski. His real name is Lebowski but no one calls him that and it's this fact alone that creates utter disaster. Full of unusual humour and adventure, a true Coen brothers film.
I've only mentioned a few but Jeff Bridges has been in 74 films (once again, 75 if you include his infant role). If you're sitting there counting and think wait, there's only 73, you'd be right except he just finished a movie that premiers next year called R.I.P.D. I found out by looking at his filmography on his website. I'm really excited since IMDb describes the synopsis as a movie about an undead police department known as the Rest In Peace Department (R.I.P.D.). The cast looks phenomenal as well since it's also starring Ryan Reynolds, Kevin Bacon and Mary-Louise Parker. It's directed by Robert Schwentke who's directed RED (Retired and Extremely Dangerous), Flightplan and The Time Traveler's Wife. How have I not heard of this movie before?
Happy birthday Jeff Bridges! I can't wait to see your next film!
Today is Oded Fehr's birthday! You're probably wondering, who? Well there's a very good chance you've seen him in a movie or two. He's an actor originally from Tel Aviv, who's played many interesting roles. I recommend watching his films if you haven't already.
Recognize this man? This is Oded Fehr in the hit blockbuster (of da summah) The Mummy. (and The Mummy Returns). He plays the role of Ardeth Bay, the leader of the Medjai.
He's a courageous warrior who will do everything in his power to stop the resurrection of the vicious and evil Imhotep. Unfortunately as you can tell by the title of the movie, he is unsuccessful in preventing his awakening but does help in putting him back to rest.
It's truly a terrific adventure movie, Oded Fehr stars alongside Brendan Fraser and Rachel Weisz. If you haven't seen this movie yet there's no time like the present! Despite it's poetic license it's still a fascinating tale about ancient Egypt, the afterlife and mysterious powers.
This man is Antoine Laconte from the hilarious film Deuce Bigalow: Male Gigolo. Oded Fehr is an expensive male escort with the dream life. Rob Schneider tries to emulate him after he is given the responsibility of taking care of his place. Let's just say the results are comedic. An excellent, easy movie to enjoy and laugh at.
Last but certainly not least are the movies Resident Evil: Apocalypse and Resident Evil: Extinction. Oded Fehr is Carlos Olivera, a strong solider part of the Special Tactics And Rescue Squad (S.T.A.R.S.) in the film Apocalypse. Unbeknownst to him there is a separate agenda to eliminate all STARS operatives. He must survive the onslaught of infected and navigate the overrun city in order to escape with his life. Lucky for him he meets Alice (Milla Jovovich).
In Extinction Carlos is helping survivors to escape to a hopefully better place while working alongside Alice. Of course things are never simple in an apocalyptic world where humans are not the only infected. With every step of the journey there are unprecedented hardships making it next to impossible to see the next day. The Resident Evil franchise is a truly powerful one, with a total of 5 movies thus far.
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