NBA Playoff Predictions

Okay so I know I’m a couple days late with these, so y’all are just going to have to trust me that I made these picks ahead of time and have not been influenced by the first two days of games. If you don’t trust me on that, well, I guess you should stop reading. For everyone who’s still here, let’s get to it.

1) Cleveland vs. 8) Detroit

Pretty simple. Cleveland has probably the three best players in this series and is the one seed in the East. Not too much to struggle with. I’ll go with a sweep.

2) Toronto vs. 7) Indiana

Little tougher here, as Indiana arguably has the best player in the series, but Toronto is overall the much better team and probably the only team in the East capable of giving Cleveland a real series. Paul George is still good enough to steal a game or two though, so give me the Raptors in 6.

3) Miami vs. 6) Charlotte

I think this series is a bit of a toss up. I love how Steve clifford managed to reinvent the Hornets’ offense without sacrificing their defensive principles, something that is obviously difficult for some other coaches (looking at you, Wittman), and Kemba is a strong candidate for most improved player, but Miami has a lot of talent and a very good coach in their own right. This may come back to make me look pretty dumb, but give the Hornets in 7.

4) Atlanta vs. 5) Boston

Boston has proven me wrong all year, as I did not think they had the talent to be as good as they were. I knew Brad Stevens was an excellent coach, but the players are truly who I underestimated, as there is a lot of real talent on that team. That said, I think the Hawks have the better players and a good coach to go with them, and I think Millsap and Horford will be too much all series for Boston’s bigs. Hawks in 6.

1) Golden State vs. 8) Houston

Come on. It’s the Warriors. Sweep.

2) San Antonio vs. 7) Memphis

San Antonio had a historically good season, lost one game at home all year, and the Grizzlies have like 3 healthy NBA players on their roster. Spurs sweep.

3) OKC vs. 6) Dallas

The Western conference first round sure isn’t looking very interesting. GSW and SAS having such unreal seasons mean the Thunder aren’t as hyped up as they have been in the past, but they’re still an excellent team with way too much for the Mavs to handle. Gimme another sweep.

4) LAC vs. 5) Portland

Finally, an interesting series. Portland has been a feel-good, fun team all year, but their ride should stop here. CP3 and Blake aren’t going to go home in the first round, but Dame and CJ, another excellent most improved candidate, should at least make it a challenge. Clippers in 6 in the only fun first round series in the West.

See y’all later for Round 2.

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Villanova 77 UNC 74

Before Kris Jenkins hit the shot that will be on highlight reels forever, before Ryan Arcidiacono sprinted up the court and passed him the ball, before the ball was even inbounded, it was clear what was going to happen. North Carolina seemingly had not been able to stop Villanova all night and it was obvious that when a stop was needed above all else, Villanova was going to put the ball in the basket. One might accuse this of being pessimism, but Villanova head coach Jay Wright knew it too. As soon as Kris Jenkins raised up for the shot, Wright started walking away and simply said, “Bang.”

Bang.

That 4.7 seconds, that shot, that one fucking syllable, “Bang”, felt like it erased everything for North Carolina. The incredible first half Joel Berry put together to give UNC the lead at the half. Brice Johnson’s leap forward this season into a first team All-American and a first round draft pick. A team that got better as the season went on and was poised to meet the highest-possible expectations placed upon them before the year started. And Marcus.

Marcus Paige is without a doubt one of the most important players in North Carolina history. In a time of utter turmoil and doubt for the program, UNC received the perfect player to represent it. During a huge academic scandal, Marcus was a academic All-American. There was instability everywhere, but Marcus stayed all four years and led the team through thick and thin. Marcus Paige was simply the player UNC needed these past four years. And he was again last night.

As the game wound down and it looked like Villanova would win fairly easily, by 5-10 points, second-half Paige made the final appearance of his college career. He did his absolute best to bring home that championship that he and the rest of the senior class wanted so desperately. A corner three, followed by a missed layup that he somehow managed to get and put back in while surrounded by Villanova’s entire team, and the shot with 4.7 seconds left.

That shot should not have been possible. Small guards do not hit double-clutch threes with the game on the line. It doesn’t happen. But Marcus did. It’s one of the greatest shots in history. And it will never be remembered. If you ever need proof sports aren’t fair, there you go. Marcus Paige stormed back when the game already seemed over to take the title that he cared so much about home to Chapel Hill, and it will be forgotten in the end. Bang.

On Senior Night, after beating Syracuse, Marcus offered three words to the crowd in the Dean Dome. “We aren’t done.” This team felt defined by those words throughout this tournament. Led by a group of seniors that meant so much to the team and the university, they weren’t done until they brought home that championship. Except they didn’t get it, and they’re still done. That’s why this loss hurts so much. All losses hurt, and any loss when fighting for the national title will be brutal. But at no point last night was I most upset for myself. I was devastated for Marcus, Brice, and Joel. This isn’t the ending they deserved.

Throughout the first half I was convinced it was fate that UNC would win. It was simply the correct ending for this team. As the second half wore on, I realized that wasn’t going to happen. Still I watched. And when the game ended, I stayed on Twitter, watching my beloved Tar Heels being mocked left and right, and watching that damn shot over and over. After a while I wondered why I was putting myself through this when I could just turn everything off and go to bed. I realized it was because as soon as I did that, it was over. As soon as I gave up, there was no chance of me watching Kris Jenkins shoot it and it not go in. As soon as I turned it all off, this incredible senior class would be done playing basketball at North Carolina. The results wouldn’t be locked into history until I gave up and stopped subjecting myself to them. So I persevered and felt my pain while reading about Marcus’s and Brice’s and Roy’s. I couldn’t feel what they were going through, but I could feel for them with all my heart. After hours upon hours, it was too late. Reality was catching up, and I had class the next day. I said thanks to Marcus, Brice, Joel, Roy, and the whole team. Then I turned everything off and went to sleep.

Villanova 77 UNC 74

Why Do I Care About Sports

On Wednesday, February 17, 2016, I watched UNC blow a lead in the final minutes and lose to our most hated rival. I turned the TV off, sat in silence for a little while, and went to sleep.

The next day I was following the NBA trade deadline action while sitting at lunch, and saw the Wizards make another ill-advised move for a team that simply cannot afford any more dumb mistakes. I hung my head, put away my phone, and left.

I have ignored a friend saying goodbye before they left for months at a time to watch the Wizards try to win a playoff game. I have laid on the floor of my bedroom and laughed hysterically in relief and happiness after they managed to win that game. I’ve found myself with tears in my eyes simply from imagining UNC winning a national championship this year. And that’s just part of the last year.

Why does this matter so much? Why do I get bitter and angry when UNC loses? Why do I sometimes feel like the Wizards siphon hope and joy from my life? But at the same time, why can an important win from either of those teams make my day, or leave me hoarse from shouting in excitement? I don’t really know. But I do hope writing this helps me to find out.

My first guess was just that it comes from my dad. And after a fair bit of thought, I concluded that while that is fairly true, it also doesn’t really explain a thing. It probably explains why I got into sports, but it doesn’t explain why they matter so much to me. There are plenty of things my dad cares about that I disagree with or couldn’t care less about. So there has to be something about my connection with sports that just comes from me.

Another thought that has repeatedly arisen is if it’s particularly strange that I care this much about the outcomes of games played by people who have never heard of me and never will. But after wrestling with that one for a while, it landed with the previous theory in the debunked pile. It’s no stranger than someone who greatly enjoys movies or theatre. As I would imagine is similar to the other two categories, I watch for primarily two things: to see the performances of those involved, and to witness and root for developments in a general narrative. So convinced that I’m normal, or at least not too much stranger than everyone else, I moved on.

So after looking to my father and to everyone else, I should probably look at myself for a question that is indeed about me. The best guess I have for why I care so much about this stuff is that it has to come from my general makeup of being fairly emotional and caring strongly once I feel attached to something. And considering I’ve bought into some of these narratives for almost my entire life (UNC is good, that school in Durham is evil, etc.) it’s not hard to see why I would have a bad night when that narrative I’m emotionally invested is turned on its head. Heavy emotion from me is honestly just about the last thing that should surprise me in my everyday life.

So with that settled with a relatively simple answer, is it good? Should I really keep this up, or would I have more fun detaching somewhat and just enjoying sports more from an aesthetic standpoint? I probably give better than a 60% chance that I’m overall happier if I don’t have as many rooting interests, especially rooting interests in bad teams, and just enjoy the sports for what they are. But this is one of those cases where I’d rather care very strongly most of the time and sometimes get irrationally upset than be more detached and probably overall happier. So give the Wizards constantly messing up with the hope that maybe they’ll get it together some day. Give me the Tar Heels stressing me out every time they play with the chance that they win it all and I lose my mind in ecstasy. These things probably affect me so because I care too much. But caring too much is right up my alley, so I’ll keep it up for now, and hopefully some of these lows of stress and sadness come with some awesome highs.

How I Spent My Sunday

Last Sunday, January 31, I went to see my first show of the new year: How I Spent My Saturday, the new song cycle by LAB! Theatre. I had heard really good things about the show from friends, so I went in with high expectations, and overall I was not disappointed.

However, I didn’t know really what to expect in terms of format of the performance going in. I had originally just assumed it would be what I thought of as a ‘standard musical’, but once I heard it was an hour long, I figured that would be unlikely. Sure enough, from the very outset of the show it was clear that I was right. The introduction began by informing the audience that we were both welcome and encouraged to take photos during the production, and we were seated all around where it would mostly be taking place.

The show started and turned out to be a collection of different ‘sketches’, for lack of a better word, most featuring a song. All four performers were in the first, singing about who had seen the tv show from the night before. Then as the show went on, most selections featured about two of the performers at a time. It was a comedy, and a pretty good one. I did find the crowd was laughing a good bit more than I was, but that holds true for almost everything I watch with others, so it doesn’t mean much. Several selections felt as though there was a deeper point behind the comedy, which seems expected. What interested me was the point I felt was being made most often.

I wondered for a bit while I was watching what the point was of what I was watching. Sure, it was fairly easy to put together that all the things the performers were singing and talking about would end up being How They Spent Their Saturday, but I felt as though that probably couldn’t be all of it. What I did feel the show continually coming back to was confronting negative stigma around essentially being a nerd. Multiple sketches were about LARPing and how it was such a wonderful escape from real life. At least two brought up Dungeons and Dragons in a very favorable light (not that it deserves to be portrayed as bad), with one of them comparing it to fantasy football and reaching the conclusion that the two were practically the same. Other activities that are perhaps less popular but not considered ‘nerdy’ were also in the spotlight some, such as roller derby, going to camp, and a chili cook-off. But considering about half the show was dedicated to LARPing and D&D, I feel comfortable saying that was a major point of the show.

I wasn’t completely sure how I felt about this message, as to me it just felt a bit unnecessary, as I grep up around a lot of people who would like that kind of activity and it just didn’t seem like the negative stigma around LARPing or D&D was that big of a problem anymore, if it ever was. But regardless of hot takes I may have on that issue, it’s not like that message made the show worse or bothered me in any way, and it was overall a very funny show with catchy and good songs. The mix of voices was highly enjoyable; one of the guys could go fairly deep, the other higher, and the two women both had good voices as well.

As I write, I find I may disagree with myself above a bit, but I’ll leave the ideas in because that is how I felt when watching it. But in hindsight, the show was probably a lot about people who were outcasts in some way: the guy who was really a dog, the LARPers, the guy who always finished second at the chili cook-off. The characters were mostly outcasts who either already were or found their way to be comfortable in what they did and liked. Which is definitely a good message.

I’m very happy I went to see this show. It’s not my favorite I’ve seen here at UNC, but it ranks decently high on the list. The jokes were good (a couple odd ones had me laughing hysterically when no one else was, and that’s almost more fun in a way), the songs were great and catchy enough that about a week later I still find myself singing and whistling them, and I found myself relating to the characters whether they were similar to me or not, which made me think they were well-acted and had good depth. How I Spent My Saturday was a good, fun show that was well worth my time last Sunday afternoon.

How I Would Shoot the Codex Alera Movie

Or rather, a very small part of one of them.

This is probably my favorite paper I’ve written in college. Ot details how I would like to shoot my favorite chapter in any of the six Codex Alera books, my favorite series. Now , as it was written a year ago, I already disagree with some of it and find some parts to be wrong and others to be poorly written. But regardless, I still enjoy it loads and hope others will too. Feel free to ignore the references to figures and other sources, those were required for the class. And fair warning, it’s long.

 

I chose the cinematography role in the fantasy genre for my scene. The scene will be the entirety of Chapter 51 of Captain’s Fury, book four of the Codex Alera series by Jim Butcher. I plan on shooting Chapter 51 beginning with an extended tracking shot. As that shot ends, the middle portion of the scene will be mostly filmed with pans and medium shots. The end of the chapter will the change once more to emphasize larger shots as well as contrasting close ups in the most dramatic part of the scene. The goal of shooting the scene in this particular way is to heighten tension from multiple perspectives, make the viewers feel as if they are a part of the scene, illustrate the scope and importance of the events occurring, and use emphasis to tie what I believe to be an integral scene into the rest of the book and overall themes throughout.

The book and series as a whole revolve around a young man named Tavi. By chapter 51 of book four, he has captained a legion for two years fighting off invaders. He recently has lost his captaincy due to a traitor senator, Arnos, arresting him after he attempted peace negotiations with the invaders. Tavi has spent most of the book estranged from his legion and rescuing the ambassador to the invader’s nation so they can strike peace. He has also only recently found out that he is the heir to the throne and is more powerful than he could’ve possibly imagined. Chapter 51 begins as he is returning from the invader’s camp to his own legion with his friend and spy, Ehren.

Night is falling and bodies are strewn on the ground as Tavi and Ehren head to the ruins where the legion is camped. They are having two very different conversations with each other as they ride forward, Ehren holding a torch. Tavi is surveying the battlefield and noting the massacre that happened when the legion tried to hold against the invaders. Ehren is far more worried about getting shot by a nervous archer on watch for the legion, as they are coming from the direction of the enemy. They go back and forth for a while, neither acknowledging the other’s statements, as the night grows ever darker. This continues until Tavi finally quips to Ehren that they’re far more likely to be shot in the back by a dissenting member of the invading army and Ehren drily thanks him for his contribution.

Tavi draws up fifty feet from the wall of the ruins and shouts to the legionnaires posted there. They tell him to stop or they’ll shoot, but almost instantly afterwards, a centurion, Schultz, recognizes their beloved captain, whose true identity they do not know. He is immediately ready to welcome Tavi back, but Tavi scolds him that he might not be who he says he is and tells him to retrieve someone to perform a truthfinding on him. Schultz perceptively realizes that Tavi does not want this kept quiet and brings Tavi and Ehren in under guard. The two ride in a small opening in the wall under the watch of a half-dozen archers and settle in a circle of firelight with a several hundred legionnaires watching. Schultz returns to Tavi and Ehren with a cup of hot tea for each of them. Tavi drinks and surveys the camp and realizes the legion is short on water, and in more trouble than he thought. He also notes that the men are afraid, and decides to combat it by making light banter with Schultz as they wait on the truthfinder to arrive. Schultz once again catches on and the two work to lighten the tension amongst the men with a couple of jokes and a crude comment here or there.

Crassus, the acting captain in Tavi’s absence and man who will perform the truthfinding then arrives. He is angry with Schultz for pulling him out of a meeting for reasons he has not yet been told. He then sees, Tavi and Ehren, forces down an exclamation, and asks if their identities have been verified. Schultz quickly answers no and that Crassus would need to perform it as the others who possibly could were busy tending to the wounded. Crassus approaches to trade grips with Tavi to perform the truthfinding as the archers train their bows on Tavi as a precaution. Crassus then asks Tavi for his name. Tavi freezes, knowing the consequences of the truth, knowing it will make him a target for the rest of his life, knowing his life will never be the same. He tells Crassus and the several hundred legionnaires that for most of his life he has been known as Tavi, that they know him as Captain Scipio, but, raising his voice, his true identity is Gaius Octavian: Princeps, grandson of the First Lord of Alera, and heir to the throne. As he announces who he is, then entire sky is illuminated from directly behind Tavi and washes light over the weary legionnaires, Tavi and Ehren, Crassus, and none other than Arnos, the senator who betrayed him. Crassus, listening for the truth, goes pure white as all the blood drains from his face and, after a moment, falls to one knee. Then his knights follow suit. Then a century, then the entire legion drops to one knee, leaving only Arnos remaining standing. Tavi announces that he is there to bring the treasonous Arnos to account. As Tavi begins listing his crimes, the ground begins to shake and the ruins begin to crumble. He accuses Arnos of treason of many kinds and finally ends by challenging him to single combat as he thunders; “I call you to the juris macto! And may the crows feast on the unjust!”

I felt the scene naturally divides into three parts: the ride to the ruins with Ehren, the arrival and conversation with Schultz, and the truthfinding and subsequent challenge. The chapter is obviously very dramatic, but these events’ importance in the book and series truly cannot be overstated. It represents not only a major turning point and plot development, but also one of the largest themes throughout the series, that of true identity. So even though the summary may read a bit overdramatic, I want to take the scene very seriously and achieve my goals of making the viewer feel present during the events, properly illustrating the scope and importance of what is happening, and building tension throughout the scene to escalate to the thunderous finale of the announcement and challenge.

I would like to begin with the obvious starting point of Tavi and Ehren’s ride to the fortified ruins. This part is critical to get right because it will set the tone and expectations for the viewer for the rest of the scene. I believe I may have my best opportunity here to make the viewer feel as if they are part of the events at hand. I would like to do a tracking shot of the two of them from behind with Tavi on the left and Ehren on the right. I am setting Tavi on the left because I have frankly always imagined it that way but also because of the points from class that set up the more powerful or in control character on the left, and in this portion, Tavi fulfills both of those criteria. Oxford Reference’s A Dictionary of Film Studies states that an unmoving camera can give the viewer a sense of being on the outside looking in and that is the last thing I want for this scene. I want to follow the two of them at roughly the same speed they are moving for the duration of their conversation and not end the single shot until they reach the wall and Tavi calls out. This should not be too difficult as it is not a very long conversation.

As much as possible, I would like Ehren’s torch to provide most of the light for this scene. I feel as if Ehren’s fears over being shot in the dark are much more relatable to the common viewer than Tavi’s concerns over the recent battle that’s remains they are riding over. If the viewer experiences the low light as it becomes nighttime just as Ehren is, it will likely create more tension and a higher sense of danger as they follow along behind the two riders. For distance, I would like a medium shot, as I feel the conversation should be held at decently low tones of voice, and anything too close or too far away would seem strange and out of place in this scene.

When Tavi gets fifty feet away from the wall of the ruins and after he calls out will be the end of the tracking shot from behind. When the return shout and threat of shooting I would still like to be around Tavi and Ehren’s point of view, but right up next to them for now. The yeller, who will turn out to be Schultz, will only appear as a darkened figure at first, just how Tavi and Ehren could see him. After Tavi makes out who he is and Schultz demands that they come closer to the wall so he can make out their faces, I would like to drastically change perspective. Now that the legion has been introduced, Tavi and Ehren are no longer the people feeling the most tension in the scene, and I want the viewer to be with whichever group is indeed the tensest. So when Schultz demands they come forward, I want the camera shot to switch from being right with Tavi and Ehren to being up on the wall near Schultz. The viewer is no longer an anonymous third member of Tavi and Ehren’s modest party, but is now a legionnaire, and will remain so for most of the rest of the scene. And similar to the legionnaires, the viewer has not yet seen Tavi or Ehren’s faces during this scene. Up on the wall with Schultz, after a bit of realistic waiting for the two to slowly ride forward, the viewer will finally be granted the ability to see the beloved captain as he rides forward into the light.

I would equate this, although in the opposite direction on the good/evil scale and to a lesser degree of dramatics, to how the first Hobbit movie avoids showing Smaug’s face and specifically eyes in any of the flashbacks and then finally, at the end of the movie, he raises one eyelid in an almost relieving motion after being restricted from seeing it for so long. The viewer should feel some of the same relief that Schultz is feeling when they simultaneously see the captain’s face. Schultz will leave to fetch the truthfinder after directing Tavi to the opening in the wall. After he leaves, the viewer will join the guard bringing in Tavi and Ehren, and lose sight of them for a bit on the walk to the opening on the opposite side of the wall than the two riders. As Schultz returns, the viewer will be placed among the legionnaires around the two conversing, now Tavi and Schultz, with a medium shot that once again places Tavi on the left. Tavi and Schultz will work to lower the tension among the legionnaires and the viewer, but it will come back with a vengeance upon Crassus’s arrival.

As Crassus arrives, the murmuring and any remaining quiet laughter will cease. He is in no mood for any of that, and will announced with a sharp cut only after hearing him begin to dress down Schultz for pulling him out of a meeting. The shot will cut to him about halfway through his comments to Schultz so the viewer hears the voice, then cuts to Crassus, then sees him forcibly hold back an exclamation upon seeing Tavi. This shot will be closer than the medium shots used so far, but not too close. Out of Order: Storytelling Techniques for Video and Cinema Editors claims that like a drug, the close up becomes less effective the more it is used. Bearing this in mind, I want to save my most powerful close-up or two for a little later.

The camera will pan and zoom out slightly to show Crassus walking to Tavi and the archers trained on the latter of the two back to around the legionnaires point of view, if a bit closer. I want a pan here instead of a cut to Tavi because I feel that too many cuts in this scene would not build tension as well as the slower pan. An excerpt from Film Directing Shot by Shot: Visualizing from Concept to Screen mentions the possibility of too many cuts making a scene choppy, and choppy is almost the opposite of the slow, burning intensity I want. They grasp hands, Tavi again on the left, and Crassus will ask the fateful question. As Tavi begins his proclamation, the camera will slowly move to closer to Crassus’s point of view, taking him out of the shot as Tavi crescendos.

As Tavi finishes the announcement of his true identity, the light will burst from behind him, the source obscured by him but the light framing him brilliantly. The camera will slowly zoom out to show Crassus, pale, fall to one knee. It will keep zooming up and out to show his knights behind him do the same. It will continue up and out, a crane shot a la the scene of the wounded in Atlanta in Gone With the Wind (as seen in Figure 1), to show the whole legion fall to its knees. An indistinct figure will be standing but he will not be centered on yet and will be too far away to recognize. The camera will come back to Tavi to hear him say in a cold voice that he is here to bring a traitor to account, and as he points to Arnos and the ground beings to rumble as he bellows, I want a hard, fast pan to Arnos that has him enter on the right side of the screen and finishes with a close up of his shocked and terrified face as Tavi challenges him to single combat. I want this zoom and close up to be similar to the style of The Good, the Bad, and the Ugly, seen in Figure 2, as I think that would be effective in the style of Tavi’s explosion and the release of some tightness. This, along with Crassus losing the color in his face as he recognizes the truth, are the close ups I want to be the most emphasized and intense, especially the one on Arnos, as it is the release of the pent-up tension built throughout the scene.

I would be remiss if I acted as though there were no possible drawbacks to the style and shots I have chosen to film with, and in fact there are a few possible problems with my plan, most related to the type of pans selected and changing perspectives. However, I believe these issues more things to be wary of happening, and not necessarily concrete issues with the cinematography. The first possible drawback to keep in mind is that I do not want the audience getting disoriented by the different perspectives. To address this I will want to, as much as possible, adhere to the 180-degree rule. As much as my ideas rely on the idea of shots from different viewpoints, to keep the actual viewers from getting disoriented, the plan is to try to keep Tavi on the left of whatever interaction he is in, as is somewhat stated above. This should hopefully provide a sort of anchor for the audience to hold on to when the person interacting with Tavi rotates between Ehren, Schultz, Crassus, and briefly Arnos. Ideally, the heavier reliance on pans as opposed to jump cuts will also help the audience remain oriented with a sort of reference point.

A second issue that I found arose with my plan for shooting Chapter 51 was more of a logistical problem. Upon reviewing my plan I realized: this is going to be a very long scene. Now I am not changing any of my shots or ideas because of this, but I certainly think it is something I need to keep in mind. My vision is for a single chapter out a book that has sixty. Most likely the movie as a whole will correspond to the book as a whole, which means that I will have to cut elsewhere to fit the story into a single movie. Now, I mention this, but the reason I am confident in not changing my plan largely consists of part of my original reason for picking Chapter 51, in that I do not believe there is any fluff in the chapter. With a chapter where all parts were vital or at least important to the plot, I would not have to worry about cutting and could focus more on the vision I had already partly developed for this pivotal scene. So while I recognize this is a long scene relative to the approximately one-sixtieth of the story that it is, its importance makes me comfortable giving it perhaps a disproportionate length. And as I am mainly discussing the cinematography of my scene, hopefully I have a good editor to handle my logistical issues.

Having discussed how I will shoot the movie to create the correct atmosphere and feeling for the viewer and the problems I may encounter with my methods, my final key point to address is how I will relate the themes to the viewers through my choices. I believe I have already made some good decisions to accomplish this and will explain why, but first some background information is needed to comprehend what the themes are and where they come from.

When Tavi is first introduced to the reader in the first book, he is an outcast in every way. He is an orphan and he has none of the powers that other members of this world do and is the only person ever to have absolutely zero furycrafting, the name for the aforementioned powers.

He makes up for it in his own ways with far above-average intelligence, but that gets him no closer to being accepted into society. In book two he attends the academy in the capital under the patronage of the First Lord, the most powerful crafter in the land. Here he continues to improve and forge relationships, some with powerful crafters, but ultimately mostly befriends fellow outcasts and alienates himself further from most of society. He trains to be a spy, and then in book three, puts the training to use in the role of a low officer in a new legion. Eventually all the officers besides him are attacked and killed or incapacitated, leaving Tavi to command a legion, which he excels at. Book four begins after two years have passed of Tavi leading the legion under the name Captain Scipio. He has begun to develop his furycrafting, and is finally told of his true identity, that he is the son of the First Lord of Alera. This soon leads directly into the betrayal by Arnos and the summary at the beginning.

Tavi’s story has two major themes that I feel are also well represented in Chapter 51 that I want my scene to emphasize: true identity/self-discovery and self-worth. Tavi does not develop his powers until after he finally realizes he can excel and be happy without them. He spends the previous three books fantasizing about who his parents might be before learning that he is the Princeps and will soon have more furycrafting power than any other. The journey taken with Tavi to get to these important developments emphasizes finding out who one truly is, both literally and figuratively in this case, and knowing that one has worth no matter the answer to the first part.

Hopefully knowing these two themes and the context of the work as a whole, some of my earlier choices begin to make even more sense, especially how I choose to emphasize certain parts of the scene. For instance, I set up the challenge of Arnos as the release of tension in the scene, but if I conveyed my ideas correctly, not the climax of the scene or the most important part. Tavi challenging Arnos is indeed important and may happen last chronologically, but nothing should come close to Tavi announcing his true identity as the Princeps in scope or intensity. This is reflected through the shots I chose in multiple ways. The two key shots for the announcement and the challenge are the wounded soldiers shot from Gone With the Wind and the close up on Arno similar to The Good, the Bad and the Ugly, respectively. The announcement shot is meant to instill a feeling of grandeur, the awesomeness of it all, and at the risk of being corny, a powerful truth. Tavi finally knows who he is, and now everyone else does too. The challenge shot is a true end to the scene, but should not give feelings anywhere close to the scope of the announcement. Further emphasizing the importance of identity is that when the camera zooms out as the legion falls to its knees, Arnos will remain standing, but will not be distinguishable or identifiable. Tavi’s self discovery dwarfs all else as he reveals it to the world.

As for the themes of self-worth, they will not be as obvious in the scene as those of identity. This is one of the two most powerful scenes in the series in terms of self-discovery, but there are many that emphasize Tavi’s journey towards recognizing his worth more than Chapter 51. So reflecting that, I want to show that theme a bit subtler, mostly by showing Tavi’s confidence and total control through the chosen shots and positioning. Tavi’s constant, steady position on the left throughout the scene will demonstrate a quiet confidence, be it him reassuring Ehren they will not be shot, or joking with Schultz to calm the legionnaires. Using him to hold and tie together the scene visually will reinforce his own self-assuredness, which will in turn strengthen the idea of his journey towards ultimately loving and respecting himself.

In the end, I have but two goals for the cinematography of my scene. I want it to 1. Make the viewer feel a part of the story, leading to higher tension and a better feeling and understanding of the scope of events, and 2. To properly convey the themes of true identity and loving oneself. I believe that my plan laid out above for shooting Chapter 51 of Captain’s Fury of the Codex Alera will accomplish both of these objectives.

 

The Colts are Depressing

I would like to open by making clear that I understand I have no right to act like such a maligned football fan. The Colts have gone 1-1 in the Super Bowl in the past decade and have given me years upon years of stellar quarterback play, including one of the best to ever play the game. Any fan of a truly unfortunate franchise would assuredly hate me for being unhappy with what I have. But that’s just the point. The Colts are not unlucky. They’re actually as lucky as they come. And due to their sheer incompetence, they are about to waste the talents of another incredible player.

Peyton Manning is the best quarterback in the history of football. I truly believe that, and will defend it to my grave, but not right now. So for anyone who disagrees, simply read that as, “Peyton Manning is one of the best quarterbacks in the history of football.”  However, he will be hard-pressed to ever receive that accolade he truly deserves, and that is largely because he was often let down by the organization around him. I do not mean to excuse the wrong Peyton committed himself, some of his unfortunate legacy does have to lie on his shoulders, but in a different situation, it could have been avoided so easily.

Football is a team sport. And it takes a team to win a championship. Every ring ‘Tom Brady has won’ has been won by a complete New England Patriots team, usually accompanied by an excellent defense. The Manning Colts made sure that Peyton had weapons at his disposal on offense that Brady never did, but they were forever lacking on the other side of the ball. They were always “small but fast” or a “bend but don’t break defense”, descriptors that are almost never applied to a championship-caliber squad. And so, time and time again, they came up short. I watched Peyton go 1-1 in Super Bowls, but it could have been so much better, and not all of the blame for that can lie on him.

Now, without Peyton at quarterback, the problems are easier to see. The owner is a meddling billionaire with an apparent great deal of problems in his life. The general manager is likely the worst in the entire league. And the head coach has just been relieved of his duties. Indianapolis lucked into another brilliant talent at quarterback only one year after Peyton left, and it appears they learned absolutely nothing from their prior experience.

Like Peyton, some of the blame surely has to fall on Luck. He is not Peyton, and at his best is most similar to Brett Favre based off what he has shown so far. But since drafting him first overall, the Colts have had their future locked up at a very cheap price. And what have they done with all that extra money to spend? Wasted it, to the last cent. Ryan Grigson has made arguably one good draft pick outside of Luck, who was the obvious choice. He used his last summer with huge amounts of cap space to sign aging, big-name players to big deals that have predictably gone horribly. And Luck himself regressed before getting injured, which ended his season. All this led to an 8-8 record, which is good to miss the playoffs but still get a pretty bad draft pick, which Grigson cannot be trusted to get right anyways. The head coach got fired but it looks like Grigson will stay on to keep ruining the team every chance he gets. And Luck will come back next year to try and play better and be the bandaid that covers up all the team’s bigger problems. I’ve seen it before, and I hate it. The Indianapolis Colts do not deserve nice things, because they seem forever intent on wasting them.

It’s That Time of Year (or: Root for UNC Tonight)

12/5/15
Dear Family,
    Hello all. As you may have noticed in the subject line, It’s That Time of Year. You got it, it is that special holiday season when people send others long cards and emails detailing everything going on in the lives of every single family member. Well seeing as I know probably the least out of everyone about what’s happening in everybody’s loves here, and it’s CONFERENCE CHAMPIONSHIP SATURDAY, I deemed it appropriate that I take this time to tell you about a beloved and cherished family of mine: The UNC football team.
    You may be thinking: wow William, you’ve already talked way more to us than we ever wanted to hear about UNC football this year. And that may well be true. But I don’t care. Why? Well, simply put, this is possibly the greatest football team in UNC history. They are certainly in the argument if not at the top, they are the first to ever win 11 games in a row here, and they have even decided to come along while I’m actually attending the university. The Football Tar Heels are simply sublime this year and I want to share them with you before tonight’s likely unhappy contest against Clemson.
    Like any family would, we logically start with the favorite child, the Katie of the team. In this case we’ll say that’s analogous to our best player. Landon Turner has had an excellent year. In fact, the entire offensive line has. When some dingus next to Dayton or I at a game asks “How/when did we get this good??” it becomes rather clear that they have not been paying attention to our stellar offensive line play from a veteran group. But Landon is the star. In addition to being a likely late first/early second round draft pick (I believe from what I’ve seen, it’s just hard for a guard to go too high), Landon just won the award for the nation’s best offensive lineman and is the emotional leader and hype man for the team. And he recently got engaged! we are so proud of him.
    From Landon it makes great sense to move on to his First Team All-ACC teammate, RB Elijah Hood. A true sophomore, Hood has been beloved by me since he committed to the school, mainly because of how excited I was to get a five star recruit. He has been excellent this year. He’s a powerful slasher who can run a fool over, and his backup, TJ Logan, has the perfect speed to be the dash to Elijah’s smash. The running game is what makes UNC’s offense go, and Elijah is the most important back in making that running game go. He certainly owes much of his success to the offensive line, and we eternally hope the coaching staff will give him more carries, but we could not be more excited to see him back in Carolina blue next year.
    Let’s continue on offense and head over to our receivers (sorry, this is getting rather long winded, but you love me, so keep on reading). Quinshad Davis. Height and hands. The most prolific receiver in UNC history. Mack Hollins. The deep threat. Loves to interact with the fans at the games more than probably any player on the team. Bug Howard. Do-it-all guy. Called out our fans for being crappy, and was absolutely correct. Sealed the State win by securing the onside kick. And everybody’s favorite waterbug, Ryan Switzer. Unreal agility and explosiveness, is almost certainly going to be seen at the next level, and is tied for the NCAA career record for punt return touchdowns. With a year left. An awesome group of guys and another key reason why UNC is fielding one of the best offenses in the nation.
    It would make sense to speak of the head of our offense now, but I would like to save that for closer to the end. Instead, let’s turn to the defense, forever under-appreciated. I’m guilty of it now, as they don’t get their own split up sections, but I really love these guys. DT Nazair Jones, LB Shakeel Rashad, LB Jeff Schoettmer, CB Des Lawrence, CB MJ Stewart, S Donnie Miles. So many contributions from so many All-ACC players have made this season possible on defense. They have been a joy to watch, the defensive backs deflecting seemingly every pass that comes their way, the linebackers and D-line making big play after big play. Our defense’s pride likely hurt pretty bad after last year and goodness they have responded.
    Their are so many parts to a team. Larry Fedora has coached an incredible year. Gene Chizik has worked wonders with that defense from day one. K Nick Weiler has added much needed stability to our special teams. But now is the time to thank Marquise Williams.
    Marquise Williams has gotten so much more crap from our fanbase than he has ever deserved. He took over for the beloved senior Bryn Renner when he got injured, finished the year strong and hasn’t really looked back. Yes. There have been consistency issues in his career. But Marquise just became the second UNC QB ever to get two All-ACC selections (the past two years for him. Second team this year because, well, Deshaun Watson exists.) and the only other time? The late 1950s! He leads the school in career touchdowns and has broken multiple single game records. He is one of the best QBs in UNC history. But we are a petty and ungrateful folk and are undeserving of him. We call for his backup as he torches our arch-rival. We think we’ll be better next year (never mind the talent we’re losing) because he’ll be gone. Nay. Anyone at this point who considers Marquise Williams not only not one of the best QBs in our school’s history, but not even the best on our current roster ought to be tarred and feathered. I know not where his path will take him, but I know where he has taken us. To 11-1, the ACC championship game, and national relevance. Thank you Marquise.
    Before I sum up, I would like to provide you with Dayton’s and my choice for our favorite college football moment of all time, both of which have come from this team. Dayton’s is Landon Turner hyping up the team before the dook game and subsequently turning to the student section and screaming “YOU GOT MY BACK” over and over while each time we responded “I GOT YOUR BACK”. Mine is throwing up the fourth quarter sign over and over with our seniors for the last time vs Miami, and watching Marquise get out of the full-team huddle to turn to us in the student section and do it with us as he danced. Believe us when we say, we really do love this team.

    There is a point to my emotional rambling, I promise. I m going to ask something of you all tonight, something I could not ask without providing you with proper reasoning for and knowledge of. I am going to ask you to root for the UNC Tar Heels as much as you can tonight. You may be thinking, “William, we were already going to do that!” No, I need more than the token effort. Be you Tech fans who expect seasons every year like the one we’re currently having, or be you UVA fans who can far more likely understand the wonder I am feeling with this team being good, we need you tonight. You may think your rooting too hard will curse the team (Dad) but we still need it. You may not care about football (Becca), yet we still need your heart. This UNC team has brought me the hope and joy that Les Wizerables seek to steal from me with each passing game. All our efforts may be fruitless against the monster that is Clemson tonight, but for once, this team deserves to have as much support as possible. They deserve better than what we have given them. So I’m asking you to help me give it to them. Go Heels.

Sincerely,
Will