Erik Cunningham 365

May 24, 2010

My Second and Final Lost Column

Filed under: TV — Erik Cunningham @ 1:42 am
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For six seasons Lost has really put me through some type of odd emotional roller coaster. Every week we’d find out something more about the characters on the island, and every week we’d find out a little bit more about the island itself. In the end though, there were always questions.

Ironically enough after “The End” there’s still some more.

But one thing is for certain, while Lost has had plenty of big themes running throughout it’s existetence one thing always rose above, it’s characters.

I can take not having some major questions answered. I don’t need to know the meaning behind every little thing, frankly because for six seasons the show always kept me guessing, the fact that it’s still going to do so really only seems fair.

When season one started the show was about the people on the island. How they interacted with each other, who they were as told by the awesome usage of flashbacks, The relationships between them as the show went on. Granted yes, some weird shit was going on throughout the island, but the best part was seeing how the characters went about figuring that out, because they were figuring it out with us.

It comes down to how I’ve always described each show. It always starts with a simple “This is a Jack episode,” or this is a “Hurley episode.” That’s what you were always the most excited for, because while we couldn’t rely on the show every week to answer all of the major questions it was producing we could always be certain that we were going to learn something about one’s of it characters.

The other themes proved out to be minor. I loved the good vs. evil aspect throughout the show that started all the way back with the Others vs. The Survivors in season one and ran all the way through to Jacob vs. The Man in Black. Faith vs. Science, Religon, Mythology, it was all there, but it was always trumped by the show’s well written characters. The characters were never there to tell the story of the island, the island was there to tell their story.

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May 22, 2010

What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been

Filed under: TV — Erik Cunningham @ 6:38 pm
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   (*Minor Lost spoilers)

   That headline has been used probably close to a billion times in high school and college yearbooks since The Grateful Dead made it popular in their song “Truckin.” Yes it’s appropriate for students, because well let’s face it High School and College are pretty fucking weird times in our lives, but does it compare to say, killing a polar bear on a tropical island, or magically being able to walk again years after a horrible accident? How about being able to time travel on a fricking magical tropical island?

   That never happened to me in high school, and it has yet to in college, it has however happened on ABC’s Lost for the past 6 years, and it all comes to an end tomorrow night in the shows two-hour finale…aptly titled “The End.”

   I’ve never written about Lost before, probably because there’s too much to write about to begin with. I’ve theorized with people who’ve watched the show, I’ve spotted little hints and clues that turned out to just be clever nothings, I’ve wondered how all of this is going to end. I’m 150 minutes from the end of a series that has frustrated and perplexed me for 2 years now (that’s right I’m a late convert) and to be honest with you I have absolutely no clue.

   Fans of the show probably shouldn’t be surprised by that, every time we think we know something we really don’t. Everytime something makes sense we’re hit with another question. The show has always kept us on our toes, and if you think the finale is going to wrap everything up in a nice neat little package then I’m sorry my friends you’re dead wrong.

   And that will be the best part of tomorrow’s finale. The fact that everything won’t be wrapped up, the fact that questions are still going to be there. So many have given the show a reputation of people not shutting the hell up about  it for the past six years, so why should it stop now?

  (*Major Soprano’s Finale Spoilers) 

  I’ve only given a crap about two finale’s in my lifetime. Seinfeld and The Sopranos. The Sopranos finale is still my absolute favorite ever. Tony Soprano sitting in a restaurant with his family, enjoying a meal. Journey’s “Don’t Stop Believing” playing as the camera subtly focuses on a shady character that may or may not be there to kill Tony. Tony looks up  as his daughter Meadow walks in with a worried look on his face and all of a sudden…total blackness. 30 seconds of total black.

Figure it out for yourself.

   Don’t wrap it up for me Lost. Leave it up to me to figure it out. It’s what you’ve made me do for six seasons and there’s no reason to change it now. Thanks for the ride, What a Long Strange Trip It’s Been.

May 21, 2010

Simple Concert Etiquette

Filed under: Music — Erik Cunningham @ 11:26 am
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So last week I went to my a rock show for the first time in about 18 months last week. After more than a year of seeing acoustic acts like The Avett Brothers, City and Colour, and Jason Mraz for a little bit more than a year, I finally got around to seeing prog-rockers Coheed and Cambria for the fifth time.

Needless to say an amplified show is quite a bit different than an acoustic themed one, it’s louder, the energy is higher, and the crowd usually gets more out of control. This is where some type of unspoken etiquette usually comes into play, and you can usually tell the ones who know it from the ones who don’t pretty quick.

1. If You Want To Get Up Front and Stay Up Front Be Prepared To Earn It. Whenever the headliner comes up you need to be prepared for “The Surge,” it’s when everyone at the show realizes the band is starting and tries to get as close as possible. The closer you are to the front, the more likely you are to be squashed against the 250 pound, long haired headbanger that’s in front of you. If you want to stay up front, this is how the entire concert will work. People want to get up front, and you’re there. Prepare to be squashed, pushed, hit with hair, and sweat on in ways you’ve never known. Also if you only weigh 90 lbs, then yelling at everyone to stop pushing and just let you through, then you might be a moron.

2. Watch the Elbows No matter where you’re at you’re probably going to get beat up at some point. You’re going to get punched, kicked, and kneed repeatedly. The good thing is you’ll probably get to do it to someone else, but for the love of God do not throw your elbows. The elbows are hard and pointy, they are like the knife of the arm. They will bruise, and cut, and generally fuck people up real bad. Don’t use your elbows.

3. Know How Much You Weigh, And Apply That Knowledge to Common Sense.

Why yes 90 lbs girl, I will help you up so you can crowd surf. Sure thing anorexic looking 150 lbs dude, you to can go up and surf amongst the people. No 250 lbs long haired man in a Slayer T-Shirt, you can’t do that. Why? Because your leg weighs as much as the person in front of you, and when you squash people in real life they don’t turn into pancakes like they do in Looney Tunes.

Also 250 lbs man please apply this knowledge when you’re in a pit and all of a sudden surrounded by a circle of the people you just knocked unconscious around you, thank you in advance.

May 12, 2010

Bohemian Minimalism

Filed under: Insights — Erik Cunningham @ 9:39 pm

  

I have 313 friends on facebook. I have considerably less in real life. I don’t talk to all 313, but occasionally one of them will post something that will make me sit and think, so I keep them around. This happened the other day.

   See this individual who will remain nameless put up an album of photo’s and titled it “Motivation and What Makes Me Happy.” The album was full of all of this lavish stuff. Lexus’ and giant houses with huge pools, flatscreen televisions, and Xboxes.

  I looked at all of that and I didn’t really feel motivated at all, to each his own, but really all I saw a huge house filled with a whole bunch of expensive stuff.

   I’ve been fairly middle class all of my life. I’ve never really been poor, but then again it’s not like I’ve ever had a surplus of money to deal with either. I’ve never put a huge emphasis on needing possessions. I’m happy driving my beat up truck, I like living in a small apartment or condo, I drink cheap beer, my favorite thing in the entire world isn’t my flatscreen tv, or my super deluxe mansion, it’s my group of friends.

    Then I started to honestly think about it, what really does motivate me? It certainly isn’t possession, so what keeps me going every day? It’s experience. It’s finding out something new about me or someone else or the world at large. It’s laughing my ass off for good reason or for no good reason at all, it’s about one really good conversation, or one really good story, it’s about legitimately FEELING something so you know you aren’t a fucking robot, knowing that your living life in every breath, and that those breaths are finite. That’s what motivates me, that’s what gets me out of bed in the morning, not the money that I make, or the car that drive, or the roof that’s over my head. It’s the fact that today is probably going to be different from yesterday and I want to find out how.

   I have no clue how to put up a facebook picture album about that, so I guess this is going to have to do.

You Don’t Need to Die to Make A Bucket List

Filed under: Insights — Erik Cunningham @ 8:34 pm

    For whatever reason my mom loves the film “The Bucket List.” I found it pretty cheesy and predictable, but it had a great message. We’re all going to die, accept it, what’re you going to do while you’re here?

   I got to thinking about how silly it was that those dudes waited until they were terminally ill to make lists though. They were old, I know life can sneak up on people, but how much more awesome would that would’ve  been if they were young.

   So I feel pretty safe that I’m probably going to make it to being thirty, I don’t do heroin and I always make sure to wear a bullet proof vest before I walk out the door, so thirty seems feasible. So I made a list of things I’m going to do before I turn 30

Backpack through Europe for a month

Visit Japan.

Coach one season of football at any level.

Run in and Finish at least 2 marathons

Run in and Finish in a triathlon

Road Trip to the West Coast

Write a book (It doesn’t have to be published )

Get into a fight

Graduate College

Record original music

Learn a martial art     

Do something, that in someway positively affects someone’s life .

Do Heroin (Kidding).

I don’t normally ask for opinions, but I know that some people might actually be reading this, so suggestions? comments?

April 26, 2010

No Such Thing As A Bad Beer

Filed under: Drinking — Erik Cunningham @ 12:22 am
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I’m 23 years old, and this might come as a shock to many of you, but I REALLY like consuming alcohol several

Yep always smooth

times a week. In fact sometimes I even consume too much, and I wind up a little drunk. See the beauty of journaling the past few days is that “Drunk” Erik gets to go on record, and leave little notes for “Sober” Erik to think about later. It’s like having your own pen pal, sometimes he’s pretty stupid and other times he’s insightful and thought provoking. This idea is probably a little bit of both.

I respect the occasional “good” beer. You know the ones that are a little bit more expensive. This is your wallet, telling your brain, to tell your tastebuds, that I paid more for this, so you know what? It’s automatically more delicious. I know this because I took a college psychology class.

So yes from time to time I do enjoy a Sam Adams, or a Lenienkugels, or some German beer that I can’t pronounce, but on the same night I’m drinking that don’t be surprised if you catch me enjoying a Keystone ICE as well.

You see I’m not a “beer snob” I don’t think that just because it’s brewed in a major American brewery that the beer is the equivalent of some animals waste product. I just enjoy the taste of beer in general, I enjoy the conversation that stems from imbibing, I enjoy how much easier it is to laugh after a few, I enjoy the stupid shit people do after they’ve had too many.

And that’s the thing after 5 or 6 Sam Adams your taste buds kind of start to lose all meaning. It’s not the subtle hint of bitterness, replaced by the malt sweetness that you’re enjoying, it’s the fact that you’re consuming alcohol. Your brain likes the buzz that it’s feeling.

What I’m getting at is there’s really no such thing as a bad beer. I’d gladly thank you if you offered me some eight dollar microbrew, and I’d totally drink it and enjoy it. Don’t look down on me though when I offer you some of delicious Milwaukee’s Best or PBR though, because in the end aren’t we all drinking it for the same reason?

April 25, 2010

Why I Don’t Care About The NFL Draft 2.0

Filed under: Sports — Erik Cunningham @ 11:52 pm
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Sam Bradford discusses which country he is going to buy with his signing bonus with NFL Commish Roger Goodell

I’ve written on this topic before, but after watching another NFL Draft it just seems like it bears repeating: I just do not like the NFL Draft, and I find new reasons to not like it more and more every year.

First off this year the NFL decided to make the draft even more of a spectacle this year by making it three days long, and by putting the first round in prime-time , on the same night as the NBA and NHL playoffs no less.  While I usually make myself watch the first ten picks I was somewhat content to only watch the first pick this year and focus more attention on the Bulls and the Blackhawks.

Of course with the months and months of media speculation and hype it was no surprise to see Sam Bradford taken with the first pick. Yes there was trade talk, no I didn’t bother to believe it. It should be worth noting that Bradford didn’t play most of last season, due to an injury, so we haven’t seen much of him lately outside of pro days and workouts. The Rams made a wise choice in cautiously signing him to a 50 million dollar contract.

That’s the odd thing about the NFL and something I expect to see addressed when the league more than likely locks itself out after this season. Having a top five pick in the draft is really almost a curse. I don’t know why this has become a trend but the amount top five picks are paid is insane. Yes you’re banking on this guy to be a cornerstone of your franchise, but college players are just that, college players who are unproven in an NFL system. The NBA has maximum rookie contracts for just that reason, it doesn’t leave your team broke if a rookie player doesn’t pan out. Can you imagine if the Detroit Pistons had to pay Darko Milic 50 million dollars? Yikes.

There’s also a certain smugness to the players that seems to carry over into the draft because these players are paid so well. You see them all in fancy suits and jewlery. These guys know that they’re rich. My favorite two draft picks ever? Michael Oher, because you’ve all seen the Blind Side (read the book, it’s 10 times better) and you know his story. The other? Brady Quinn. I loved seeing Quinn’s smile dissapear into an oh-my-god-is-this-really-happening look as his draft stock fell. Call me an asshole, but I really like to see players humbled.

I semi followed the first round on the computer, and I got text updates for when the Vikings picked over the next few days, but I didn’t let the draft consume my life like ESPN seemed to suggest it should. I’ll enjoy seeing the players play in a couple of months, but until that time I still don’t really care.

April 21, 2010

Thumbs Down For Ebert

Filed under: Video Games — Erik Cunningham @ 7:25 pm
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I enjoy art in all of it’s forms. I can see a painting for what’s it’s worth, I can read a story and feel enlightened, I can watch a film and understands it’s message, and I can play certain video games and be moved by them.

That last one though has been surrounded by a little bit of controversy this week. Film critic Roger Ebert wrote a blog earlier this week questioning the validity of Video Games as an art form. Let it be known that I’ve always respected Ebert as a critic. The man is one of the foremost authorities on criticism in America, but this time I believe Ebert may be missing the point.

Ebert’s main arguement is that because games can be won, because they have rules, objectives, points, and an outcome that video games can never be considered more than that. A Game. That even immersive games are nothing more than a representation of a story that is meant to be beaten, and that films, novels, and art can simply only be experienced.

Bioshock and other games should as least be "considered" as art.

While I can admit that the story of some games is nothing more than childish at best, some games do make an excellent case for being considering as art. Look at the Art Deco inspired backdrops and scenery in the Bioshock series. The underwater city of Rapture at times resembles a moving portrait. The art direction in other games like God of War and Fallout 3 I think are also worthy of consideration of being “art.”

The stories of games have also come quite a ways since Mario first wandered down a tube into the Mushroom Kingdom. While Ebert might say that while these games are immersive, you’re still playing simply to reach an outcome. This may true, but many games are just as linear as say a film. In the end if a game is made correctly the developers have made you follow a well constructed narrative to their predetermined ending.

I remember the first game that I would’ve actually considered art was Final Fantasy VII, and that was released all the way back in 1997. The game at the time was one of the first games to feature full motion video (FMV), it looked life like. The score was fairly epic, you actually gave a damn about the characters, and the story is still one of the best I’ve ever seen in a video game. I did more than just beat Final Fantasy VII, I “experienced” it, so by Ebert’s approximation  at least for me I would consider the game art. Games now such as the Mass Effect series, Metal Gear Solid, and Final Fantasy continue to push the envelope of games as art.

Of course Ebert cites none of these games in his article, instead using small budget indie games such as Braid, Waco, and Flower to try and prove his point, only further weakening his argument.

The fact of the matter is this. Video Games combine several different art forms (art, animation, music, narrative) into one. The games that do it well are more than just beaten, they are experienced, and as such need to be considered as art form.

April 20, 2010

I Must Be Crazy

Filed under: Fitness — Erik Cunningham @ 8:49 pm
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   So I totally forgot that I have a biology paper due tomorrow. I’m pretty sure that most of you don’t want to read five pages about the three somatotypes and their relation to working out and exercise (I dunno maybe you do), but I’m going to have to keep it short and sweet considering I’m at work and also working on a paper.

   I’ve been talking about it for a couple of months now, but it will be made official this weekend. I’m going to sign up and run in the Chicago Marathon this year. I tried to do this two years ago when I first started getting back into shape and it was a huge mistake. I made it to the 13 mile run about 6 weeks out from the race and I knew my body wasn’t going to be able to handle much more than that, so I dropped out. This was also the year that temperatures got into the 90’s for the day, there’s no way I would have stood a chance.

   Last year while living in DeKalb though I kind of rediscovered a love for running. It used to be something I dreaded, something I would do because you had to do it if you wanted to lose weight. It’s not like that anymore, instead of gassing out a mile in I’m finding myself enjoying it. Running down the sunset is one of my favorite things to do. Instead of thinking about how tired I am, I’m going out and not thinking at all. Running seems to clear my mind, no matter what stupid pointless worrisome thing is on it that day, 3-5 miles seems to fix it just fine.

   Now I just need to find a way to make it 26.2. I’ve put in a couple of seven milers the past couple of weeks just to see if my body would explode, and I’m still standing for the time being. I’m already in way better shape than I was last time around so I’m pretty sure I’ll be able to make it to Chicago in October.

   I know part of me has to be crazy for wanting to do this, but I want to put an exclamation point at the end of the person I was two years ago. I weighed just over 220 lbs, couldn’t run a mile without gassing out, and was physically weaker than I had been since eighth grade. This morning I weighed 178 lbs, then I went to the gym, then I went for a run. I’m going to kill off that person I was two years ago once and for all.

   And I’m going to do it by crossing a finish line in Chicago. See you in October.

April 19, 2010

Missing the Golden Age

Filed under: Uncategorized,Video Games — Erik Cunningham @ 9:33 pm
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Everyone had that one Christmas present that they always remember as a kid. You know the one the parents hid from you and saved till last, then you ripped it open and damn near had a heart attack from the excitement of Christmas and the 1,400 sugar cookies you’d just eaten. But I digress.

For some it was a Red Rider BB Gun, for me it was a Super Nintendo Entertainment System. It came with Super Mario World, Super Mario Kart, and an extra controller so I could dole out the punishment on any family member or friend stupid enough to challenge me.

It’s odd that my mom basically raised me to be a gamer. Some of my favorite memories are of playing the NES Mario Trilogy or getting super pissed at how hard Double Dragon or the TMNT games were. Just to point out I would get the last laugh after I saved up and bought a Game Genie.

The SNES though, brought my game playing to a whole new level. I spent a month making sure I beat everything in Super Mario World, by the time I was finished with Mario Kart, Rainbow Road was a fricking walk in the park. I won the Stanley Cup and the Super Bowl on back to back days thanks to EA Sports. I played so much that my mom had to take the system away and hide the thing from me.

After I became a functioning member of society again for a few weeks I was allowed to play again. Around that time I remember buying The Legend of Zelda: A Link to the Past. I used to love to read and loved fantasy and science fiction as a kid. Looking back on it, Zelda at that point in my life was like the best thing ever. Hours upon hours of puzzles and sword play and magic. A Link to the Past remained my favorite game ever until Goldeneye 64, that didn’t last long though. Ocarina of Time took the title back home for the Zelda series.

My mom even used to play back in those days. She wasn’t half bad at Streets of Rage, Mario, and Mario Kart, but my mom to this day is still the best Turtles in Time player I’ve ever seen.

She doesn’t play much now though anymore. There’s too many buttons, she doesn’t understand how it’s possible to control someone with two controller sticks, the d-pad is no longer in style.

It’s rare now-a-days that a game can capture my attention like it used too. Sure I love putting 100 hours into Fallout 3, or killing a couple hundred people in Call of Duty, but it’s nothing I haven’t seen or done before.

Sometimes though, I’ll still pull out the old box, blow on a few old cartridges, and get transported back to being a kid a little again. Mario will always be one of the biggest parts of my child hood. I’ll hold onto those old systems until I die, just so my kids can know that I grew up in the Golden Age of Video Games

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