28 Kasım 2012 Çarşamba

James Bond: Skyfall Review

James Bond: Skyfall Review (Warning: May contain spoilers.)


    To start off, I’m not a big movie fan. In fact, I seldom go to see any movies, and when I do, I usually go because I’m with my friends and we just have practically nothing fun to do other than chatting and going to movies. Anyways, after quite a bit of arguing, we all agreed to see this pretty trending movie, which is, surprise surprise, is also the latest movie of the half-a-century long James Bond movies. Well, two of our friends had already seen and they slept through most of the movie, but anyways, I was pretty interested.
    The movie opens with an introduction that takes place in the city of Istanbul, and I saw a lot of fellow citizens complain about how the city’s reflected: a stereotypical, crowded, semi-civilized middle-eastern city. The scene is, overall, chaotic and yes, I know it’s meant to be like that, but apparently the film crew decided that the scene had to take place in the worst parts of the city. I mean, Istanbul is a two-faced city that’s pretty much a crowded city with a mash-up of virtually everything. There’s beautiful mosques, palaces and of course, the gorgeous Bosphorus. It probably could’ve taken place in those areas too, but as that’s not entirely related to the quality of the movie and more about the possible tourism income that could be garnered through the promotion of the city, so I won’t be lingering on that topic anymore.
    The introduction, especially the part that accompanies the stunning song of the renowned artist Adele (No surprises there.), is beautifully done. I praise the animators and the crew for their very creative work, it sure was an exhilarating ride through a beauty ride of randomness that also has a theme connecting in a single spot. As we don’t exactly know the state of Bond at the moment (Although it could be presumed that he’s alive,as thinking logically, what’s the point of having a Bond film where Bond dies in the first scene anyway?), it also kinds of gives us time to think about the possible leading scenarios. A way of subconsciously inviting the audience to actually be a part of the movie, so I’m especially stunned by that part.
    Well, out of all parts of the film, the part that succeeds the introduction was the least memorable. I don’t why; it may be because the film suddenly switches to a calmer, slower phase after such an exhilarating scene. I can’t say that it was terrible introduction, it’s just that, let’s say, it wasn’t so innovative. It was the way an introduction is designed to be, and it sure contained some elements to keep the audience from getting bored, such as the explosion of the MI6 building and the connected events. (The part when M stares at the screen of her laptop and encounters quite a surprise pretty much gave me a laugh, because of the overall absurdity of the situation.) Yet, I have to accept to fact that the part got me slightly drowsy in the dark room. Maybe it’s just the nature of the movie, yes, but sleepiness is not something you expect from a good movie, is it?
    As we moved on towards the “body” of the movie, everything naturally grew clearer and I especially enjoyed the encounters of the main villain and Bond. I especially liked it because it was also a philosophical clash between the two enemies. Since the second half of the movie is pretty much a hit-and-run between the two enemies, I really enjoyed the flow of the story. The thing is, despite inviting the audience to watch the movie, after some time, you had so many reversals that the movie started to lose its realism. It was the good side escaping from the grasp of the bad side, then the bad side being caught and then escaping again, which is succeeded by a two-sided chase. The whole “inside-job” and the fact that everything was planned beforehand did okay to add realism, but really, some parts, I must admit, were extremely cheesy. Like that part when Bond manages to turn the whole “encrypted” map into the map of London’s subway system. I mean, is it really fair that he takes the whole credit while his side-kick works extremely hard to get everything right in the IT room? Apart from that, I especially considered a scene from the subway chase to be extremely cheesy: it’s the part when Bond fails to open a metal door and as a train approaches, he pulls a last minute stunt and fires at the lock to unlock the door and escapes in a split-second. I mean, really. An extremely dangerous convict, responsible of the deaths of many people, has just escaped and Bond decides to prefers being dramatic to being quick and logical. I think, before and audience of millions of people, it’s better to be dramatic than to be logical, but that doesn’t necessarily mean that doing that is not harmful to the overall quality of the movie.
    Well, I must say that the ending was simply epic. The best part about the end was, I must confess, the setting. It’s the childhood house of Bond, in the middle of a marshy land, surrounded by the mountains of Scotland. The dark, cloudy, depressing sky just fits so well with the erratic nature of the ending. We also learn the views of Bond on his childhood as we go through this part of the movie, learning that “he never really liked the place.” It’s pretty dramatic for such an epic fight to take place in the dark mansion where he learned that his parents for were dead. I found it to be quite meaningful. After the house is blown up, the real dramatic part kicks in. I loved the practical intelligence of Bond in situations like this, despite being described as a man not fit for being an agent, he has these simple yet impressive skills to successfully encounter virtually any situation. Of course that’s the part of the script, and it’s the thing that makes Bond  so special as a character. I’m sure a moral can be extracted from that part.
    Anyways, the church scene. The scenery is simply awesome here: the church is a holy place, it’s about life and death and philosophy. It’s dimly lit and abandoned. Everyone’s either wounded, sweating or wasted somehow. It’s clearly that everything has to come to an end now. I liked how the villain wants to kill himself along with M, just proves what a psychopath he was; it was much more original than simply pointing to the target and threatening to kill her. We’re reminded about the “old school” moral the story has as Bond simply stabs the villain to death. And the best part? The “deep water” joke by Bond. I initially thought that it was cheesy as hell, but after all, it’s just icing over the cake.
    So far, I’ve thought that for an action movie, the plot was written in a very thoughtful way that appeals to every part of the audience. I’d say the best actor was Javier Bardem, he just perfectly fitted for his semi-psychopathic genius former agent role. While containing several flaws that do not directly interfere with the movie, I’d say I’m quite satisfied to have seen such a movie. Final impression? While not shocking or stunning or amazing, it genuinely felt like a true movie. The way a movie’s meant to be.

6 Eylül 2012 Perşembe

Want to Get Wings and Fly Away

Don't you have those times when you just want to abandon everything and follow these steps:

1. Find a way to get out of where you are.

2. Go somewhere.

3. Have fun, do whatever you want, live freely and come back whenever you want to come back.

In my case, I'm badly trapped as the first day of school grows closer every day, every hour, every minute and every second. I want to buy a one-way plane ticket, fly to & stay at Boston (Doing what? That is the question.) until June 2013 draws near. Then I will hop on a plane and fly back to my hometown, skipping a whole school year in the process. Beautiful plan, but somewhat flawed... Hmm...

By the way, I've just finished a basic outline of another story idea. I wrote the first 2,000 words tonight and noticed that I'm far more productive at night. I'm also more productive when I'm traveling (I got the satire news idea while I was in Boston and wrote many posts there.) Maybe going somewhere else might really be helpful. Maybe the book will sell millions of copies and I'll make a fortune off it and won't have to go to school ever again, having established a respectable reputation as a writer at the age of 15.

But some dreams don't happen. Dreaming on is the best option until dreaming and reality is fused together, and then dreams will be reality itself...

3 Eylül 2012 Pazartesi

Syria, Kurdish Question and Changing Dynamics

Syria’s current situation looks very puzzling to me. Sure, they’re going through a civil war; the rebels are in formidable numbers but the government’s response is equally aggressive. So far, thousands have perished in the war and Syria was condemned by the majority of Western powers, including it’s neighbor Turkey (Which is a temporary home to many Syrian refugees)  and the Arab League. If it hadn’t been for China and Russia, they would have been a lone country by now, possibly under the risk of an intervention, but thankfully, the U.S. won’t be in the Middle East for a decade or so thanks to rising intolerance (Both internal and external) against American presence in the region.

    The Syrian civil war is more than a conflict between two sides. There are other groups working to get their share from the lack of a strong authority. For instance, Kurds have occupied numerous towns along the northern border of Syria, starting from July 2012. In case the rebellion is successful, this might lead into Kurds demanding their own autonomous region in Syria, just like the Kurdish Iraq. In fact, in the most extreme case, the two autonomous regions could unite and even declare their independence, although this would also drag Iraq into a war. The Kurdish Syria is most likely to be ruled by the same government as Kurdish Iraq, and independence wouldn’t be declared by any sides. It is also important to note that a large Kurdish population lives in southeastern Turkey and a declaration of independence also means Turkish involvement in the case as well, leading to a huge war in the Middle East.

    It is not clear how the West would react in this scenario. Turkey, as mentioned before, is likely to get involved in an extreme scenario and being a NATO member could at least have the West tolerate the war and not get involved. China and Russia are more likely to tolerate the actions than condemn them, since they’re close to Syria and haven’t said much about what the country was doing. It will all depend on the war, but once rebels appear, they usually don’t get away. Even if the Kurdish army is overwhelmed, the idea of independence wouldn’t simply disappear off the minds of Kurdish people. There would be constant unrest and terrorism in the region and it wouldn’t fade away until an independent state is established.
    One factor that might at least hinder his process (or even reverse) is that the Kurds were not isolated to the Southeast as the sole dominant population of that area: instead, they were partially integrated into the Turkish society until the Kurdish nationalist groups appeared, which made a minority more distinct than it was 50 years ago. This has also caused greater partition between the two largest ethnic groups in Turkey (Turks and Kurds that is), which were tied by religion a century ago or so, as religion was the dominant force in Middle East back then. (Religion still prevails, but nationalism has become, overall, more dominant.) In Turkey, racism isn’t as widespread as it once was in the U.S. or similar multinational countries, which partially contributes to the fact that there’s not a great amount of civil unrest in southeastern Turkey. It is the nationalist factions that signal the presence of something emerging in the region. If Turkey is somehow dragged into a conflict or a political crisis, Kurdish nationalists could get an easy opportunity to ignite an uprising. (They are already contributing to numerous terrorist acts each year, the death toll has been constantly rising since the 80’s.)

    The only non-governmental faction that could oppose the leftist PKK is the Kurdish-Islamist terrorist organization Hizbullah, which is said to have links to the government, especially during their early years. They are now more like a tamed animal that gradually got out of control, having been accused of organizing 2 subsequent bomb attacks in 2003 that killed 67 people, including the British consulate general and wounded 700. While not as politically strong as the PKK, the highly controversial group also blocks the path ahead of PKK’s ideals.

    This situation is an example of how warfare has changed over the last centuries: Countries no longer go to war to conquer new lands and bring wealth and glory to the nations. (Imperialism, that was over by the end of WW1.)They don’t sacrifice millions because of power struggles either. In fact, every country is trying to do their best to avoid conflict, and if they do get in an international conflict, they do their best to play strategically and organize operations in cooperation with other countries. The creation of United Nations brought great stability to the world and limited what the governments could do, as they would have to face the whole world turning against them if they attempted to do something outrageous, such as trying to conquer Europe and slaughtering hundreds of thousands of people in death camps. With the collapse of fascism in WW2 and the collapse of communism with the dissolution of the Soviet Union, the extremists of politics are left behind. (Except for Islamism, which actually seems to be on the rise.) The Cold War is over but the nukes remain, yet no one’s willing to use it since the first bombs that targeted cities exploded in Hiroshima and Nagasaki in 1945. Since then there’s been a huge fear of the bombs but no one has dared to use it on people since those two initial attacks. The nukes are only owned “just in case” someone actually decides to use them. It also provides a country with diplomatic power even though it’s nothing but a bluff.

    Today’s wars are much more likely to be civil wars than international wars and the number of countries are duplicating. Even though the world is supposedly united under the U.N., countries are gradually dividing because of racial, cultural, religious and ideological differences. We are striving to be with our own kind, not under a dome of united nations.

1 Eylül 2012 Cumartesi

Obama vs. Romney

    First of all, I’m not an expert of American politics.  I merely know about as much as an ordinary citizen following the course of the elections, but as I’m interested in politics, I just felt like writing an opinion-based article on the Romney vs. Obama race. Let’s start with the current president, Obama:

    One of Obama’s biggest advantage’s is that he’s got a fairly large amount of followers on social network websites like Facebook. On Facebook alone, he has more than 28 million likes, though a good number of them, including me, are international. He still has the edge as his numbers vastly outnumber Romney, who has about 6 million likes in total. Obama’s Facebook posts, most likely prepared by his “Team”, are very direct, witty and often imply that Mr. President would retain his position without a doubt. He tries to reach out to every single part of the population through these posts. He also tries to promote himself as an “ideal family man” by publicizing his affection for his family. He has been faring fairly stable and well, except for the “You didn’t build that” incident, which received much public attention (and often criticisms) and gave the Republicans something to counter-attack. The stagnant economy will also affect Obama in an adverse way during the election, even though he claimed office in the midst of an economic crisis that still prevails. (And presidents can’t magically alter the economy, people have to learn that.)

    Despite these two negative factors, as the democratic candidate, he is more likely to get votes from (growing) minorities such as Hispanics and Latinos. He is perceived as the first black president (Even though his mother is white) and that’ll also affect the votes from black people, as it had 4 years ago. Obamacare is often criticized by the Republicans but it also benefits the lower class of the American society, which suffers from relatively high income inequality. I’m not sure if this would have any effect on the votes, but people benefiting from it could also be counted in the pool of people who would support Obama.

    Romney will be the first Mormon president if he wins the elections. According to a poll by livescience.com, 32% of the respondents aren’t ready for a Mormon president. (The majority is, but 32% is still a considerable number.) Yet 63% of the respondents claimed that the acceptance of Mormonism was on the rise in the American society. I don’t think being a Mormon will matter much for Romney, in fact, it’ll bring some benefits since he’s sure to grab a whopping majority of the Mormon votes. (It wouldn’t matter much if he weren’t Mormon because most Mormons lean republican anyway.)

    As always, most southern, central and inner northwestern states stay conservative in their conservative views and vote Republican. The Pacific states solidly support Obama. Most northeastern states support Obama except for New Hampshire (which is a tossup) and Maine (which appears to lean Obama, but one can’t be sure.) The midwest appears to be a major battleground, since it’s filled with either tossups or leans except for Obama’s home state Illinois. Other tossups are spread throughout the country and now the candidates are clearly targeting them. Obama has already planned a tour through these states that would eventually lead him into Charlotte. Now, it seems like it’s vote-grabbing time for the candidates which would finally determine their position in the race. (Obama seems to have the current lead, but no one can be really sure what would happen when the time comes.) I won’t talk much about the states, since NY Times handily provided curious citizens with a map that explains the current state of the race and how each state could take part in the race for the White House: http://elections.nytimes.com/2012/electoral-map

23 Ağustos 2012 Perşembe

Satire News: Nerds Taking Over

Muscular Young Men Complain “Nerds” Are Now Preferred by Girls; TV Show “The Big Bang Theory” is to Blame

The recent breakthrough of the popular sitcom “The Big Bang Theory” has supposedly altered the way women view men: The once-unattractive “nerdy” guys are now the top choice for young women looking for partners. While muscular men are still described as “handsome” by women, the sudden rise of nerds in love affairs caused them to leave their throne to the nerds, who are enjoying their abrupt rise among the men preferred by women. On the other hand, muscular men are quite resentful toward their opponents. 

One young lad named John Johnston complained about the unfairness of the situation: “Before this show became so popular, I was busy developing a manly body that would attract women. Just as I was done working and nurturing my torso, this show called “The Big Bang Theory” became quite popular around the globe. I saw a nerdy little guy holding hands with the girl I was planning to date with! After seeing fellow bodybuilders experience similar events and blame the show “The Big Bang Theory”, I decided to watch and episode. The show truly was funny, but it portrayed nerds as simple, “cute” and sympathetic people. I’m ruined now, as I spent hundreds of dollars and hours of my free time just to be an attractive guy, but now my crush refuses to look at me.” The show has taken its toll on fitness centers as well. One manager of a fitness center said: “Our customer volume has fallen by %75 since this show called “The Big Bang Theory” became popular. We didn’t see the correlation between sports and a TV show until we learned about the stories of bodybuilders failing to get any girls. It’s a sad story, but we can’t do anything about it. We just have to wait until the popularity of nerds fades away.” Clothing stores like Abercrombie & Fitch are still promoting muscular young men as the ideal type of men for girls, but the battle still rages on.

22 Ağustos 2012 Çarşamba

A Brief (But Majestic) Tour of New England

That's what we did yesterday. We hit the road slightly after noon and stopped in Revere Beach 30-40 minutes later. We stepped out of the car, watched the women lying on the beach and (probably) hoping to get a tan and two and a football traveling back and forth between the hands of two young men. We hit the road once again after five minutes of observing one of the many bays of Massachusetts. This time, we headed north, crossed the "neck" that led into Nahant. After an unusually lengthy time spent in Nahant, we crossed the neck again and headed for Marblehead, where we visited the Castle Rock. The rock had a beautiful view of the ocean and the surrounding areas, and arguably the best photos of the trip were taken on the rock.

Frankly, I don't quite remember what happened after we passed left Marblehead for New Hampshire (Live Free or Die) and Maine (Vacationland. Frankly, I believe Maine deserves a more regal motto on for their license plates, as "Vacationland" seemed to dull and materialistic to me for such a green and beautiful state.) I suddenly got very sleepy and when I finally regained consciousness, we were about to cross a river that created the borders between New Hampshire and Maine. Unfortunately, my time in Maine was reserved for shopping in the outlet stores that created a vast fortress known as a"mall." I got two pairs of shoes, a pair of boxer shorts and maybe some more things that I can't quite recall now. That night, we drove back to New Hampshire and through its misty woods and finally came to one of my fathers' relative's house. With me traveling with my father and a friend of him (Whose house we're currently staying at, in the neighborhood of Jamaica Plain in Boston.), the total population of the house reached 9. If you counted the kids, it was 11, though one of them was sleeping. One family were recent immigrants from Turkey: the husband had found a job in New Hampshire and was on the look for a house where his family (meaning his wife and their quite bright 4 year old son, who was already a very fluent speaker and was equally inquisitive) could reside in. That day, they had just bought their first car (And boy, the car being a brand new Infiniti, it certainly did impress me) : a fresh start of a budding American Dream. 

Came "home" at roughly 2 AM, though. Sleeping on the way, I managed to keep my eyes open for another half an hour before intense sleep kept me unconscious until 10:30 in the morning...

21 Ağustos 2012 Salı

Satire News: Modern Civil War

A Country Divided: Will a Civil War Arise Between Mac and PC Users?

PALO ALTO, CA – Today, the nation was officially divided between the two groups in a peace agreement that was signed between the Empire of Apple and United Provinces of PC Users (UPPC) in the Empire’s capital of Palo Alto. Soon after the agreement, the huge crowd that had gathered near 1 Infinite Loop cheered as their first emperor, His Majesty Tim Cook I was officially crowned. To celebrate his coronation, the Emperor promised to send a $50 iTunes gift card to everyone within the borders of the Empire, not including PC prisoners. The Apple extremists protested the PC provinces by raiding the non-Apple electronic stores and collecting the PCs in the streets of San Francisco. At night, the PCs were burned; creating a dazzling fire that could be seen from any point in the city. The UPPC government has yet to deliver any remarks about the event. 

One PC user, currently imprisoned in the recently reopened Alcatraz prison in San Francisco, expressed his sadness concerning the event that had occurred in SF that night. “The whole city was lit by the fire,” the prisoner claimed. “At the moment, the only thing I want is to get away from this world of overpriced and virtually non-modifiable computers.” His request was soon delivered in a to-the-point manner by the President Ballmer of UPPC, who was elected president by the Alliance of PC Makers (APM) one week ago. Ballmer appeared on public television yesterday and requested a prisoner exchange between the two countries: “We the people of UPPC would like to trade the respective prisoners of war of both countries within a week. Now that the Cyber War is over, the time has already come to free the imprisoned people and let them live their own way.”

A photograph of the once-peaceful competition between the PC and the Mac. These days appeared to be long gone by the time the Cyber War had started.

After the total malfunction of his 15” MacBook Pro during the Cyber War, Mac user John Johnston decided to emigrate to the UPPC, as he decided he could not afford another MacBook. Knowing the move would cause widespread turmoil among the citizens of the Empire, the officials offered him a 17” fully equipped MacBook Pro. After he rejected the initial offer, he was offered the same MacBook as well as Apple’s 12-core Mac Pro and a 27” display with it for free. Johnston still insisted on emigrating, and to follow their “freedom of choice” policy, the Empire had to accept his departure, declaring him a “traitor”.

The UPPC government seemed to provoke another war by assuring the superiority of the PC over the Mac, revealing John Johnston to the public as “the man who could see the truth.” The government also rejected the Empire’s Golden MacBook, which was sent to celebrate the coronation of the new emperor. In the UPPC capital of Seattle, computer scientists, economists and other professionals are hard at work proving that the PC is a better computer than the Mac. The material created by the professionals is distributed to Internet forum users, who use the information to win arguments that arise between the users. After one PC user, who had tattooed a MacBook Pro on his buttocks beforehand, mooned the border guards, the Empire started to train their hackers for another attack. The Empire spokesman expressed the self-confidence of the young nation: “We are aware that the UPPC is trying to get us into another war, but we are not fools. Even in case of a war, with the guidance of our True Founder and Spiritual Leader Steve Jobs, we should be victorious in any conflict we engage in.”