Girl Got Her Degree

Why have I not posted about Beth's latest achievement? I do not know.

Yes. She is officially a college graduate, with a degree that ISN'T written with crayon and posted on my refrigerator. Someday I'll get one too if all goes to plan, and considering that I didn't quite pass my placement test to take French 201, that day might be slightly farther ahead than I expected. Keep reaching for that rainbow, zack. Keep on reaching...

In related news I caused some ruckus this morning at work when I tried to fax an unofficial transcript to an online school in order to snag that French class I still need. I forgot to dial a 9 and apparently left the fax machine dialing someone's number for 20 minutes until they answered and hung up. Why do we even still use fax machines? I thought they went the way of pagers and woolly mammoths. It's a sick world we live in.

Speaking of sick worlds, you know the video-game Dance Dance Revolution? Apparently somebody made a hack that helps the dance simulator burn more than just calories.

It's called Dance Dance Immolation, where instead of just being heckled for not being Asian enough to master the gaming machine, you actually get shot in the face with FREAKING flamethrowers... and also heckled. Although the game does require the use of a flame-retardant suit, I suspect this game has a promising future with evil villains in the Saw/Hostel franchise.

MeWithoutYou :: The Latest Band I Really Like

Heavily influenced by religion, yet still not defined as a "Christian" band, Mewithoutyou (one word) follows closely in the footsteps of David Bazan, Page France, and perhaps Eef Barzelay in their emphasis on lyrics and melodies, which is probably why I'm liking most everything I'm listening to from them.

I say you take a gander too.

The Fox The Crow and the Cookie - Mewithoutyou (via: stereopathic)

The King Beetle On A Coconut Estate - Mewithoutyou (via: knoxroad)

Timothy Hay - Mewithoutyou (via: knoxroad

They're playing at the El Rey in June. Am I going to be there? Maybe I will son. Maybe I will...


Those Japanese and Their Wii

Finally. The game we've all been waiting for. If only I had any effing idea what the heck was going on.

No words.


Getting Mashed

This is one of the best mash-ups I've heard.

I think you'll like it.

My Life On the Crazy Train Sucks - mashed by DanMei & MarcJonce - (via: mashuptown)

kelly-clarkson/pink/ozzy/daft-punk = actually really awesome

Terminator: Salvation - Movie Review

Terminator Salvation

There's a special place in my heart, a place where massive robots crush piles of human skulls and roam freely across a landscape of charred rubble as nuclear mushroom clouds bloom in the distance. Is that so wrong? Probably. But it always looks awesome and gives me reason to stockpile food resources just in case. Well, Terminator Salvation has finally arrived. After years of repeatedly rewinding our VHS copies of T2: Judgement Day and watching those armies of robots marching relentlessly against the fledgling human opposition, the series has finally caught up to that moment of unbridled destruction.

In the age of "series reboots" and straight-up remakes, it is somewhat depressing to come to the realization that an actual movie sequel is perhaps the closest we'll come this season to an original film. Terminator Salvation faces a unique dilemma in that it must function as both a prequel and as a continuation of the previous story-lines simultaneously. This is primarily due to its emphasis on time-travel, a dynamic which understandably relies upon previous events which occurred in the original Terminator, which was released over 20 years ago.

I haven't actually seen the original since junior high, and interestingly enough Salvation may function better if the viewer has never seen it at all. In this film John Connor has to save a teenager named Kyle Reese from the clutches of Skynet. The reason for this could have made for a fascinating reveal, even further, it could have led to a confrontation containing numerous layers of introspection and emotion as the fatherless John Connor confronts a man who is both younger and less experienced than himself. The film unfortunately side-steps this in leu of mass mechanized mayhem, however it keeps things open for the next film to explore these recesses which lurk in the more human portion of the Terminator franchise.

As a matter of fact, John Connor is largely absent for most of this movie. As a film plastered with Christian Bale on every poster, it's surprising to find that most of the action remains with Sam Worthington in the role of Marcus. Marcus appears as an ex-con who awakes in the year 2019 instead of being sent to the electric chair. He also has an uncanny ability to kill terminator robots as if by luck, and survive incredible falls, abilities which the film surprisingly accounts for.

The director McG (Joseph "McG" McGinty Nichol) uses some surprisingly inventive camera work reminiscent of Brian DePalma. Hidden transitions frequently abound in shots that seemingly continue for extended periods of time. The most notable, and frankly friggin awesome, occurs early on when John Connor leaves a crater, crosses a charred battle field, enters a helicopter in the midst of an attack, crashes, crawls away, and then battles head-to-head with a Terminator, all seemingly in one swooping shot. It's enthralling, intense, energetic, and everything that this movie should be.

Terminator Salvation may miss a couple back-alleys we would have enjoyed exploring and focused on some that we may deem unnecessary, yet the film is no less enjoyable and remains entirely satisfying. It's largely inoffensive (unless giant naked governors aren't your thing) thanks to the pg-13 rating, and is surprisingly enjoyable for everyone. See it.


Star Trek - Movie Review

Star Trek ****-

It seems the popular thing to do these days is to take every movie sequel, compare it to the Dark Knight, and then assess it in terms of how successfully it "reboots" the series. Strangely enough, it turns out that all the old films we used to like were actually complete crap and now we have to re-make them to justify our interest. So now we have Star Trek, not to be confused with Star Trek or any other film in the Star Trek series.

Luckily for us, Star Trek has been around so long that most people (including myself) don't even know what happened in the original film from 1966. That plot had something to do with the Voyager 6 being picked up by an alien mechanical race and being sent back to earth in a cloud of energy that destroys everything in it's path. Interestingly, director J.J. Abrams scraps all this and works from scratch by means of a time paradox which functions as a narrative worm-hole. Theoretically this means that all 10 films (including the 1966 original) will occur to the same crew all over again.

What's different? The crew is younger, somehow shinier, space looks prettier, and the camera is a little more shakier. The necessity of those ingredients is debatable, however the new Star Trek succeeds due to its sense of character. Just about every occupant of the Starship Enterprise is likable, even the dark green monsters who have their phazers set to kill. The dialogue ranges from snappy to maybe-too-snappy. And of course the science behind it all really makes no sense.

The logic is primarily passed off to us by means of the character Spock who assures us that it's all legit. "But wait," you might say, "doesn't the meeting between two identical individuals from different time periods open up all sorts of paradoxes? Will all of the future actions by the men and women of the starship enterprise have to be repeated again? Do all black-holes do this sort of thing in the Star Trek universe? Why did they insist on parachuting onto that giant drilling spaceship when they could have easily been teleported there? How do they know when to stop while traveling at the speed of light? Is it entirely socially acceptable for Kirk to be making out with that green alien chick? Where can I see more of that green alien chick? And, is it so wrong that I imagine my girlfriend as a green alien now?" I don't know. I'm not a doctor. But rest easy knowing that if it didn't make complete sense Spock, or the most excellent Leonard Nimoy, would have said something by this point.

This is more fiction than science-fiction, and it's more action than it is drama. It's a movie that spends more time cleaning up after its predecessors than actually developing a world of its own, but the world already in place is rather pretty. Not to mention, Captain Kirk actually doesn't "do" anything in this film except organize a surprise party for a group of very angry and confused aliens. With that said, lots of things happen around him that are very entertaining, and often involve massive spaceships and explosions. This is a summer film. It's very enjoyable, very cool looking, and entirely charming. If I were twelve it'd be 10 times as awesome. Then again, everything would. So I recommend it.


Art Film - Surrounded

Here is an art film Beth and I put together for her senior thesis Surrounded, starring our friend Jordan, Beth's mom, Bronwen Silas and Eden, and us.

We made the sound effects ourselves. I make for an excellent goose.

Surrounded from zachary newcott on Vimeo.

In the words of my roommate Anthony, it is "such an art film." And boy is it!



I didn't get to watching the LOST season finale last night.

here's an article about flies that turn fire ants into headless zombies.

And here's an improvement on the classic roomba we have come to know and love.

Although I wouldn't try to let it eat whole pieces of fruit or run into ghosts.

Meanwhile in Japan, two "Station Master" Cats touched whiskers in what was supposed to be a great publicity moment.

Then disaster struck when one of the cats offended the others honor.

Seppuku was the only choice.

Now only the Station Master Goat remains.

Perhaps that was the plan all along...

Chimes Day by Day - Making Up Mother's Day Week

This week the Chimes remembers that they forgot to call their mothers on Mothers Day.

Day One - Forget to Call Your Mom Day

After waiting an entire year, Mothers Day has finally arrived. It's practically Christmas 2, except instead of getting presents you get asked what you're planning to do with your life once you graduate and when you're coming home next. On this day think of mother as you remind yourself to call her later. During dinner remember once again but push it back to a time when you don't have food in your mouth. Much later that night furrow your brow as you watch a rerun of How It's Made and wonder what it was you were supposed to do today.

Day Two - Realize You Forgot to Call Mom Day

Slap yourself on the forehead when your phone rings and sink low into your seat. Briefly deceive yourself into thinking that maybe Mothers Day is actually not for another week, and then be slammed into harsh reality as you answer your phone to the berating yells of your own Mother. Try to explain to her that you were busy, it wasn't the right time, and that you'll make it up to her later. In fact, you have something in the mail right now. When asked why you were so busy, mentally note not to mention Call of Duty 4. She just wouldn't understand.

Day Three - Resent Mothers Day Day

Why? I ask you. Why? It's as though this entire holiday was designed with the sole purpose of giving your mother another reason to be disappointed in you. On this day give a frustrated sigh numerous times while glaring at Hallmark cards at the store. It's their fault, really.

Day Four - Buy Flowers Day

Flowers make everything better, chocolates doubly so. Chocolate flowers? Now that's just absurd. Send them. On this day do everything you can to make up for your slip of the mind by sending whatever says "I love you Mom." Although you might think you're above it, you might want to consider making her a macaroni necklace and/or a hand turkey in finger paint. Parents dig that type of stuff.

Day Five - Mail Day

On this day make sure your little reminders of appreciation will get to Mother on time, and by "on time" I mean "slightly less late." Go to the post office and again slap your forehead when you notice the price of postage these days. Whisper a prayer for the flowers as you stuff them into a manila envelope along with whatever else fits.

Day Six - Follow Up With Mom

On this day give mom a call to make sure she got your package. With any luck, and lots of love, your little Mothers Day snafu will be completely paved over. In any case, be sure to once again avoid defending your plans for the future by saying "I love you mom." Then wipe your brow in relief knowing you won't have to worry about another pesky Mother's Day for another 366 days. Well done my friend.


Shooting Blind - Anaheim Premiere

Last night was great night. My documentary Shooting Blind screened alongside the latest Biola Film Gary.

Here's a little trailer for that one.

'Gary' Trailer from Jason Smart on Vimeo.

The premiere was at the Anaheim Cinema Fusion.

It was pretty legit.
And it was also the first time I viewed my movie with other people and on a screen much much larger than my head.

I don't have a trailer for mine yet, but trust me, I'm working on it.

This other one looks very promising though.

I wanna see it.

Ikea and Bittersweet Partings - Chimes Opinion Article

It's official. I have decided to move out of my old apartment. Strangely, despite their own consideration to move, my roommates have taken the initiative to fill our apartment with new furniture from Ikea, which as far as home furnishing goes is one step below Lego's and yet one step above Mega Blocks. In a profound statement of our status as college students, it seems we have finally taken the initiative to make our living situation comfortable only a few weeks before abandoning the entire project for something completely different.

After spending close to a half hour vacantly staring at a display featuring a complex mechanized robot repeatedly opening and closing a flimsy swedish kitchen cabinet, I decided that maybe I should be spending less time looking at home decorating items at Ikea and perhaps spend more time actually trying to find an apartment to move in to. My concerns however were distracted by my roommate Jon, who took over the isles by standing on a shopping cart and drifting circles around elderly shoppers.

Ikea has a strange effect on a man. Stepping into one vignette we were immediately convinced we could live in a space roughly the size of a shoe-box provided that we decorated the living space entirely with products we couldn't pronouce or type correctly. When Anthony expressed his desire to buy a Flarke i quickly snapped back, "What'd you call me?!" with a fist raised high. The tension was rising. Realizing we we're lost we took a break in a vignette with furniture composed entirely of sharp right angles. Together we sat down realizing that this may be one of the last times we gathered together as roommates.

This is a Flarke.

Summer comes with these moments, when parting is met by opportunity for something new, and excitement passes anxiety with an awkward nod of recognition. It's times like these when we have to ask ourselves the questions we're most afraid of, “when will the next season of LOST start” or even more terrifying, “am I capable of actually taking care of myself?” I don't know. I'm not a doctor. Although my mother may try to tempt me with the promises of free housing and food for the summer, much in the same way I am often tempted by strangers in white vans offering candy, I have to turn it down if I'm going to make a life for myself. Besides, that candy is probably Necco Wafers. It's a sick world we're living in.

After being informed too late that the vignette bathrooms are not actually functional we decided it was time to leave. Check out was immediately complicated when Micah refused to buy a television stand with the insistence that despite his weekend-long marathons of playing Final Fantasy he "never used it." In response I asked him what the Flarke he was talking about. We left without it.

This past year we have braved chapel over-crowdings, duels against Michael Cera, and severe over-pricing of chicken nuggets on the Mc Donalds dollar menu. It hasn't been easy for either of us. If the film Beaches has taught me anything, it's that Bette Midler might be more manly than me, but friendships last forever. So I dedicate the next paragraph to remembering all those tough times, ideally with a mental slideshow featuring you and I sipping from the same milkshake, riding a tandem bicycle, and holding each other at the edge of the Titanic.

I don't wanna wait, for our lives to be over. I will remember you, will you remember me? Don't let your life pass you by. Weep not for the memories. I hope you had the time of your life. My heart will go on.

Shhh. Don't speak. Wipe those tears from your eyes. The summer has come, and with it we must give a sweet parting.
Don't ever change.


Cat Container

My significant other sent me this.
It was extremely difficult for me not to become a disruption at work while watching it.

The final shot of this clip (including a sly cat-wink) is unforgettable.


Feel The Reaper

Although you can't quite see my film fest entry online yet, I can however offer you this equally enticing video treat Beth and I put together last night. We were asked by her roommate Kathy to make a short clip for a presentation she was doing on grief for one of her classes, the result is a masterpiece of epic proportions.

Fear the Reaper from zachary newcott on Vimeo.

The devious looking cat at the end leaves things open for a sequel.
Don't act like you're not impressed.

Chimes Day By Day - Look Good Week

This week the Chimes realizes it hasn't shaved in a little over a week, so lets learn about proper grooming Day by Day style!

Day One - Cover Yourself in Axe Day

Showers take time and are known for their tendency to leave participants wet and cold. Today realize the potential to be had in bathing yourself in the sweet scent of deodorant to mask the underlying scent of old dairy products.

"I smell GRRRRrrreat!"

This age old tradition of covering yourself from head to toe in cologne rather than actually cleaning yourself has been passed down through the ages straight from ancient Italy, where men and women alike would dip their clothes in incense to ward off predators and attract the ladies. It worked then so it must work now.

Day Two - Forget to Shave Again Day

Although it seems that when older men forget to shave they find themselves in possession of a healthy full face of stubble, for the rest of us a few days of forgotten grooming will result in a face full of sporadic hair growth not unlike a dying cactus. On this day remind yourself before not taking a shower to quickly shave before heading out the door, then at lunch time glance into a mirror to realize it's too late in the day to do anything about it. Embrace the fact that the slight mustache on your upper lip makes you an ideal candidate for Dateline's "To Catch a Predator." It's the little things that matter most.

Day Three - Consider Flossing Your Teeth Day

Oh flossing. You're like the girl your parents insisted you take to homecoming even though neither of you were really that much into each other. On this day look at the full roll of floss on your sink and remind yourself how important it is in fighting plaque and the gum disease gingivitis. Nod respectfully before shrugging your shoulders and swearing you'll get to it after shaving.

Day Four - Wait To Shower Day

On this day be sure to get to the shower just after your roommate does. Be sure to grow increasingly frustrated as your roommate relishes the hot Los Angeles water for at least the next thirty minutes. Pound your fist against the door in vain as your pleas for a turn in the bathroom are drowned-out by your roommates need to sing Justin Timberlake as loud as possible. After accepting the fact that you'll be late for Biology, rejoice when the shower finally becomes available for your use. Then give a girlish scream when you feel the cold cold blast of the remaining water your roommate has left for you.

Day Five - Seriously Question Your Towel Day

How long has it been since you washed it? Is it supposed to smell that way? Are those stains part of it's original pattern? Towels can get nasty pretty quick. On this day question whether or not it would be worth the investment to ditch the one you have for one that doesn't make you more dirty than if you had never showered at all.

Day Six - Plumbing Day

By this point just about every pipe in your bathroom will be filled to the brim with hair. On this day consider whether it would be worth your time to clean this out, or just let nature run its natural course. Shrug your shoulders as you spray some windex on it and remind yourself that you at least made some kind of minimal effort to clean up the place. Then carefully tip-toe backwards out of that germ infested stink hole knowing that you are the prime example of collegiate cleanliness.


Chimes - Opinions Article - Lucky Orphans

I apologize for my recent lack of posting. Lots has been a going on in these parts with the Biola Film Festival and apartment do-dads and Biology. I've kind of been stressing out lately. Hopefully my recent Chimes article will keep you up to date.

Chimes Opinions Article - 05/05/09
by Zachary Newcott

Some might criticize my lack of proper sportsmanship when my entry at the Biola Film Festival did not take home any awards, but to them I say if leaving a bag of flaming dog excrement in front of the dorm rooms of the winning nominees is so wrong, maybe I don't want to be right. What's so great about a documentary about a group of orphans from Uganda anyway? I swear, it's like those kids get all the breaks. Like we don't have enough documentaries about the less-fortunate already. Please. That movie didn't have one explosion.

Granted. Maybe I counted my eggs a tad too soon before they launched. I do suppose my chosen attire for the festival, including a monocle, top-hat, and a neatly trimmed mustache was a little too hoighty-toighty for some tastes, but did it mean nothing when said monocle fell out of my eye as I gasped in shock in reaction to the winning nomination? Apparently not.

Luckily my girlfriend Beth accompanied me to the awards show and managed to prevent me from doing some most-likely regrettable things to the punchbowl at the reception, including, but not limited to, flipping it over after screaming "Oh, I'm sorry, Uganda finish that?!" Beth harshly critiqued the poor pun choice.

I controlled myself to the best of my abilities throughout the rest of the award ceremony, only twice walking onstage when I misheard my name. After being escorted out of the theatre for my excessively sarcastic congratulations to other award winners, and returning my best-supporting actress trophy, I was kicked to the curb.

As if fate wasn't cruel enough, when I returned home I was informed by my roommate Micah that there were nine days left for me to decide whether or not to continue living at the same apartment, at which point I would either be kicked out or be force-fed the dirty litter from our cat Stig until I paid up. Taking my chances, I stalled for time whilst Stig feasted on tuna treats.

With the semester coming to a close, sometimes it may seem that the world is entirely against you, and if not the world then at least your Biology class which regrettably meets at 8:30 in the morning. It's a sick world we live in.

Feeling even more down and out than usual, Beth took me to the park where we spent some quality time on the swings.

It's not only that I'm jealous of those Ugandan orphans and their slick documentary, I tried to explain, it's just that I'm worried about what I'll do now that I failed to beat them mercilessly in the world of filmmaking.

In terms that I can understand, which involves action-figures and food, Beth explained to me that I can't worry too much about what tomorrow holds. Each day has it's own challenges we have to face, but with them comes opportunities to make life better for not only yourself, but everyone else. After all, there may be plenty of Ugandan orphans, but there's only one Zack Newcott.

With this I finally understood. Although it could be said I did the ethically right thing in letting the Ugandan orphans win this award (possibly making me eligible for a Nobel Peace Prize *WINK*), even if I end up living in a cardboard box behind Home Depot and flailing my arms wildly to keep my grades afloat, there's still opportunities to make the world a better place the only way I can.