Florida Comment, Tasers and Movies

So I just happened to be looking at my post about Florida and UNC football and saw that I had a comment: only the second one I've ever had on this thing, the first being Chris calling me an asshole.

It came out of nowhere and was a little hostile, but I have a sneaking suspicion that Mr. "anonymous" isn't as anonymous as I first thought. If there's someone really reading this in Florida then I don't know how the fuck that happened.

I guess I can always count on my friends to fuck with my mind.

On another note, doesn't it seem like cops are getting really taser-happy? I guess I can only think of three major instances where they have been used, but each time it seems to me like they were used in excess and were unnecessary. There was the UCLA library incident last year, I read in the paper today that a woman was tasered after being arrested for a bar fight, and, of course, we can't forget the incident at the John Kerry talk at the University of Florida.

I know that these weapons are meant to disable people and get them under control, but they can actually do some serious damage. I don't know if cops really understand the power those things possess. I could be off the mark, and these could all be justified uses, but it just looks a little off to me.

In an earlier post (and it may have even been on a different blog...I don't remember) I tried to list my top 10 favorite movies of all time. I struggled with the list, and knew that there were plenty of classic movies that I have yet to see. Now that I have watched more movies in my film class and have really gotten into my Netflix subscription, I think I can make a better run at my top 10.

1) The Godfather (Pts. I and II...I want to group them as the same movie. I think it works.)
2) The Graduate
3) Fight Club
4) Pulp Fiction
5) Little Miss Sunshine
6) Vanilla Sky
7) Memento
8) Lost in Translation
9) Crash
10) Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind

I guess that's a slightly better list. I still have a lot of movies on my Netflix queue and plenty more for my film class. If you haven't seen any of the movies on this list, watch them now.

Enough rambling for tonight. If you made that comment, at least let me know who you are, don't leave me in suspense, kiddos.


"My Polished Silver Growth"

Here's the slightly edited version of the feature story I turned in Monday. I didn't do quite as well as I did on the first assignment, but it was mostly because I had some stupid style mistakes. It happens. I like this one better than the first one, but that's probably because it came to me much easier. The assignment was to write a "color feature" on "football Saturday in Chapel Hill." We were supposed to use the UVA game a couple weeks ago as the setting. I got this one easy since my football Saturdays are always the same, but a little different than the average student's.


My Polished Silver Growth
By Corey Inscoe

The Bell Tower looms perilously above me as I lie on the brick sidewalk beside Wilson Library. The ringing tells me that it is 8 a.m. It is also making my headache worse, but, unlike the rest of the student population, I don’t have the luxury of sleeping off last night’s mistakes.

You would think with all the great advances in the textile industry that a Southern college marching band would not be wearing itchy, hot and heavy wool uniforms in early September. You would be wrong.

I feel like I’m in a trance as I walk around in this stuffy uniform – people pass by me in blurs, lips flapping but not making a sound. One hour of sleep doesn’t do much good for the mind. My headache only gets worse when I see the white band truck roll into the parking lot behind the library.

That rectangular blue box that just came off the truck holds the bane of my football Saturdays. I unhook the two clasps hesitantly, hoping that the silver hunk of metal might have disappeared while I was gone. Unfortunately, it’s still there when I look down. I pull out the body and the bell and put them together, tightening the three screws that hold in the bell. I pull out the silver polish in the left compartment of the case and spread the thick blue liquid over the front of the bell, making sure I can see myself in the reflection. Too bad it will be so dirty by the time the game starts it won’t look like I cleaned it at all.

Thirty-five or 40 pounds of polished silver rests on my left shoulder. Who decided that this was a good idea? I’m starting to realize why it’s always the big guys that get chosen to play tuba.

Manning Hall is staring me in the face. I’m in some crazy line down an uneven brick sidewalk in Polk Place that stretches from the Old Well to Wilson Library. My back is tight and sore from bad sleep, but that won’t matter once the football players, coaches and spirit squad charge through our impromptu lined passageway. I’ll be slinging this big shiny instrument back and forth, and up and down throughout the fight song.

It’s like the military here. Everything is so regimented. The schedule is determined a week early and is followed to the minute. Everyone knows it; everyone lives by that single sheet of paper. It’s like one of those crazy contraptions where an alarm clock goes off and pushes a marble down a ramp that sets off a ridiculous chain of events that will eventually cook eggs and brew coffee.

I am just a small part of this powerful marble. I have no control.

I am standing in front of Dey Hall with 45 trumpet players screaming obnoxiously high notes behind me. My headache just came back with a vengeance. Why am I doing this again?

In front of Wilson Library, the mass of blue-clad musicians brings the pre-game ritual we call “Tar Heel Town” to a close by playing a beautiful chorale written and played just for us: “Blue and White.” I get that familiar chill down my spine as the sound of over 300 horns blasting the final chord bounces off those majestic steps and columns.

The drums start banging out our cadence as the band forms the parade block and winds around Wilson Library and toward the stadium. While the drums lay down the groove, I’m marching behind them, swinging my horn, kicking, dancing to the beat, and doing everything I can not to collapse from exhaustion. Students, parents and alumni cheer as we march past them, chanting and jumping around. A little girl smiles and points at my big, shiny tuba, then turns to ask her dad, “What’s that?” A young boy stares wide-eyed and open-mouthed at me hopping back and forth with this silver growth on my shoulder.

As I look at the people smiling, cheering and dancing on both sides of me, I suddenly realize why I do this. All the practicing, waking up early and excess weight on my shoulder is suddenly worth it when I see the joy that this band brings to the Tar Heel fans.

The Bell Tower looms over me once again as we turn onto Stadium Drive. This time the white face tells me it is 11:30 a.m., 30 minutes before kickoff. For most people this means that game-day at UNC-Chapel Hill is getting ready to start. For me, it’s already half over.



Tampa, Florida

[Warning: profanity follows.]

After over 26 hours in a charter bus this weekend, I'm finally back in Chapel Hill. Most people would be excited to travel down to Tampa for the weekend, to get away from the "hum-drum" of their normal lives.

My professional assessment of the Florida trip: that state is fucked. You can tell when you enter the god forsaken place. Things just look and feel different. The entire state is like a massive marketing ploy gone wrong. The colorful houses, the obnoxious billboards, and the grossly rich and terribly poor just rub me the wrong way. It's become so touristy it's almost like the state has lost all other identity. The cities -- Miami, Jacksonville, Orlando, Tampa Bay area -- seem normal enough. But when you get to the rural parts of the state you enter a whole 'nother world.

It's like their desperately trying to catch up with the business boom of the big cities. Trying to attract the traveling tourists to their orange stands, alligator farms and even the Drag Racing Hall of Fame. The place is so obsessed with this idea of advertisement and attracting people to them that they don't seem to care about the people that are actually there. The place is run down. That's the best way to put it.

But people don't want you to see that part of Florida. That's why they put you up in $300-a-night hotels, like the one the band, football team and cheerleaders stayed in this weekend. The Grand Hyatt, Tampa: a picture perfect example of what the fuck is wrong with rich people in America. They make the unnecessary necessary. I'm not going to lie and say that I didn't enjoy the hell out of my seventh floor view of the Tampa Bay, but I was disgusted by the other things I saw, like the Armani Lounge on the top floor, or the $20 breakfast buffet (which included fruits, cereal, sausage and eggs. I thought it was a continental and free breakfast. I was wrong) that men in their neatly pressed blue sport coats and women with painted faces and flashy dresses greatly enjoyed, as if a ten dollar breakfast would not have been good enough for them.

But that's enough about materialism. Let's talk about the state of UNC football.

It's dead, as far as I'm concerned. Saturday was the worst football experience I've ever had. Our group of 40 band members sat in the corner of Raymond James Stadium (the same stadium that the Tampa Bay Buccaneers play in) and watched our Heels get spanked by the University of South Florida Bulls. It was ugly. On top of that, we had drunk guys yelling at us to our left, and it started to rain during half time. We left the game wet, angry and demoralized. Welcome to the Butch Davis Era.

O.K., that was a little uncalled for. I like Butch, and it's not his fault that T.J. Yates likes to throw to the other team's defenders, or that wide-receiver Hakeem Nicks dropped more balls than a kid going through puberty. It's just that I expected more from this team, and I thought I was going to get it after watching the first two games of the season. I guess I was wrong.

I really should be working on my color feature for class ("Football Saturday in Chapel Hill"), but I'm really not in the mood right now. I have a draft and I'll just edit it and turn it in tomorrow. It's much easier for me to rant right now than it is to write coherently for my feature class.

I'll probably post the feature later this week, unless it gets raped by my professor, in which case I'll edit it and put it up later.

Until then...



Comparing RA retreat to VT shooting is ludicrous - Letters to the Editor

I actually made it to the Daily Tar Heel's Letter to the Editor section. I really didn't think I would. Check it out below.

I'll be gone for the weekend in Tampa.

Comparing RA retreat to VT shooting is ludicrous - Letters to the Editor



Moulin Rouge...$52 Million Down the Drain

Moulin Rouge is the worst high-budget blockbuster movie ever made. Before you get your panties all up in a wad, let me explain myself a little bit.

I'll start out with the only semi-positive thing I have to say about the film. It's visually groundbreaking. The colors, camera angles, use of time-lapse and slowing down the frames, as well as the many intricate cuts are almost enough to give this movie some credibility. Unfortunately, most of it seems to be trying to cover up ultimately how bad the movie is.

Why? Why them? Sure, they're recognizable names (Nicole Kidman much more so than Ewan McGregor, unless you count the shitty new Star Wars), but they lack a tiny thing that is semi-important in a musical: talent. They can't sing. Maybe better than I can, granted, but that's not saying much. The voices are so bland and flat and uninteresting. They don't even harmonize together. I'm sure they had to use more digital effects than Linkin Park to make those voices sound halfway decent. And McGregor only has one volume: LOUD. Someone should have told him that they've created this great new invention called microphones, and he doesn't have to make sure all of Paris can hear him yell "Come what may!"

A key part of a musical, I would say. Usually the score and lyrics are written into the story, blending dialog with music in this fantastic and beautiful way. Think of all the famous musicals and they all have that one classic song: Fiddler on the Roof, "If I Were a Rich Man" or "Matchmaker"; Phantom of the Opera, "Music of the Night" or "All I Ask of You"; Grease, "Summer Lovin'" or "Grease Lightning."

Moulin Rouge...uhhh....errr...that Elton John song?

Sure it's kind of cool when you take popular music and throw it into a musical setting. I get that. But when 90% of your music and almost half of your dialog is pop music, there's something wrong. They take all these classic songs by The Police, Elton John, Madonna, Whitney Houston and even Nirvana and bastardize them into this mockery of a musical. What has happened to musicals such that the writer can't even write his own music to it? People love these songs for a reason, and to hear two no-talent hacks butcher them on the big screen is almost sacreligous. I'm fairly sure that Kurt Cobain nearly came out of his casket.

Or lack thereof by the main characters. Musicals always have those big dance sequences, or at least a little jig here and there. It's part of the deal. Too bad Moulin Rouge casted four left feet for the two main characters. All that fancy camera work is partly used to distract the audience from the fact that Nicole Kidman is barely moving. When they're dancing together, the only camera angles are either right up in her face so you can't see her body, or far away from her and moving around her so it looks like she's actually doing something. The extras are the ones that can dance, and a lot of times they're used to cover up the main stars. Isn't that kind of backward?

The Plot:
That same tired love story you've always heard and that you can predict after five minutes of the movie. Poor man meets prostitute, falls in love with prostitute (Dave Chappelle's version of Pretty Woman, anyone?), big rich man also falls in love with prostitute and wants to take her away and kill poor man, prostitute falls for poor man, but before they can be free and crash back into reality where they will be ridiculously poor and eventually very unhappy, one of them dies...thank god.

I know there are people that love this movie and would think some of my favorite movies are terrible. I understand that movies are subjective. But please, for my sake, really look at this film and tell me what's good about it, or even what good comes out of it. Don't say it's because it's a sweet love story, but give me real reasons. Make me believe. Because right now I think director Baz Luhrmann should be thrown down a deep pit to hell.



I guess it's hard to keep something like this updated when you have so much other stuff going on. It's not that I don't care, just that I don't think about it often. I spend most of my free time relaxing or reading, because I need those kind of breaks. Granted, I'm only taking 12 hours (not including marching band) and as of now don't have a job (that needs to change soon), but I still get worn out sometimes and this blog is the last thing on my mind. It'e been about 20 days since I've said anything on here. I'll probably update more with my feature stories. I have one due at least once every two weeks.

Alright...what to talk about. Music. That would be different. Popular music is getting pretty terrible. I'm watching a Will.I.Am video right now, and it makes me want to cry because it's so bad: "If the girl is ugly then she's ugly like her mama." Repeated over, and over again. Please make it stop. I went and saw Dave Matthews Band last night. How I came about a ticket is a long and confusing story, so I'll leave it out. I've never been a big Dave fan and have never seen him live, but I was blown away last night. He's got amazing energy to his shows and the musicians are ridiculously talented. They take a jam band approach to their live shows, going on tangents off songs for about 10 minutes. On top of that, I've never seen a crowd so into a concert. These fans are loyal, crazy and not shy about showing their affection for Dave. I'll be checking him out again next year with full knowledge of his catalog (for some reason I always want to spell that word like "catalogue." Is that a British spelling?)

Kanye West's new single "Stronger" is catchy as hell. I'm a closet Kanye fan. I wish he would start making up some of his own beats, but I like how he's embraced sampling and made that his trademark. He does it well and only uses them to add familiarity to his music and bend the genre.

My favorite hip-hop/rap album right now is OutKast's Stankonia. You can't go wrong with "So Fresh, So Clean" and "Ms. Jackson." Add on top of that one of the most intense beats ever in "B.O.B." and some other sweet tracks that mix comedy and a solid groove and you've got a masterful album.

Britney Spears is terrible. I hope that she'll finally take a hint and go completely into hiding after her joke of a performance at the VMA's. I've never seen anything so pathetic. The song was already bad, but when you add her performing like a 7-year-old girl with down syndrome, you've got the worst thing to hit MTV since Carson Daly.

Vanessa Carlton has a new song out. I saw it this morning on MTV2 (the one that still actually plays music videos!), and I'm not going to lie, I'm kinda excited. Let's be honest, the girl is cute and has a solid voice. Plus she plays the piano which puts me over the top. I also like how she's basically giving a big middle finger to her old album and the situation around that. I was confused at the beginning because it started with her playing piano in the back of a truck (the basis for her "A Thousand Miles" video) but then she put the piano in the middle of the street so it could get hit by a taxi. That sealed it for me.

"Ay Bay Bay" is the worst rap song ever.

Soulja Boy ruined a perfectly good steel drum beat with his loud mumbling that he calls rapping. At least he made up a good dance though. And maybe this will start a steel drum revolution in hip-hop. One can only hope.

Alright, I think I'm done now. If you read up to this point, I'm sorry for wasting valuable minutes of your life. I'll try to do better next time.


"The Time of Your Life"

This is a human interest feature story that I had to write for my journalism class. I wasn't originally going to post it because I didn't feel satisfied with it, but I also didn't see where I could improve it. If it wasn't for the time constraint of having to turn something in, I probably would have scrapped it all together. I guess I'm too critical of my writing because I got the story back today with a big, red "A" on the top and absolutely no corrections. Because of that, I'll post the story here.


The Time of Your Life

By Corey Inscoe

There’s a white cross perched on the eastbound lane of U.S. 64, flanked mournfully by fresh spring bouquets. Large, shaky, hand-written letters sprawl across the white cross-bar: “Kassel.”

He was a junior at Cary High School. I had two classes with him. We were both on the track team. He was an actor, comedian and one of the most liked students at the school.

More than three years ago, on a crisp, sunny spring afternoon, he was out with some friends shopping for tuxedos and prom dresses. An eighteen-wheeler barreled down U.S. 64 with its right-hand turn signal blinking slowly.

“It’s alright, he’s turning. You can go.”

Kassel Smit’s lanky runner’s frame slouched comfortably in the back seat of the 1994 Plymouth Acclaim as Katherine Hart took Kassel’s suggestion and turned left across the east-bound lane.

Kassel was wrong: the truck wasn’t turning.

The truck slammed into the side of the small car, sending it spinning to the side of the road. Kassel and 15-year-old Breann Gentz, who was in the passenger seat, both died at the scene. Hart and the truck driver survived.

Two days later I was standing outside of the Brown-Wynn Funeral Home in Cary, the tail-end of a long line that snaked through every room of the small one-story building. The viewing was supposed to end at 9 p.m.; at 9:25 p.m. I finally reached the door. The line was still all the way to the parking lot behind me.

Each room of the dimly lit funeral home showcased items from Kassel’s life: a Cary High School track jersey, a program from the last high school play, and a Boy Scouts shirt with a new Eagle badge neatly sewn on.

In the largest room there was a TV playing a slideshow with pictures of Kassel, always flashing that familiar crooked smile. I started to see myself in the pictures instead of Kassel. He was only one month older than me. Overhead, small speakers softly leaked out a popular Green Day song: “So take the photographs and still-frames in your mind. Hang them on a shelf of good health and good time.” The only other sound was the occasional sob or sniffle.

The line finally ended in a large, bright and outdated chapel. The small wooden pews with faded pink cushions formed two rows, herding the mourners into the center aisle. They were all looking at their feet as they moved to the front of the chapel, not wanting to look at the front of the chapel, understanding that only then they would know this was real.

The 16-year-old boy lay in an open casket perched at the front of the chapel and surrounded by flowers: a barrage of colors in an otherwise dull, white room. Friends and family slid past the casket, many unable to look in without bursting into tears. As I stood beside my former classmate, my strong and composed demeanor collapsed.

The rest of the Smit family ­– mother, father and older brother – stood side-by-side next to the casket as hundreds of people shuffled by, offering their condolences and telling stories about Kassel. His mother watched the seemingly never ending line stretch all the way out of the chapel with cloudy eyes and a shocked look on her face.

“I can’t believe it,” she stammered. “I just can’t believe it.”

I stood in front of her, searching for something to say, but nothing came. I had known Kassel for only three years, but I still could not put his impact on me into words. The mother, who I had never met before, reached out and hugged me. “I know,” she said. “It’s going to be okay.”

As I walked out the door at the back of the chapel, I heard the chorus of the song play again on the overhead speakers: “It’s something unpredictable, but in the end it’s right. I hope you have the time of your life.”