Monday, November 12, 2012

School

As some of you may know, I have been a homeschooler for all sixteen years of my life. As you can imagine it was a strange experience to be exposed to such a different environment. I went from waking up at eleven some days, to getting up at six fifth teen with a number of things to do for the day. I am only taking two classes, wood shop and auto mechanics. You could say I’m a part time student, but I’d prefer to think about it as a combination education. I still do the required subjects at home, and simply go to school for electives that I otherwise wouldn’t be able to learn about in a home setting. Homeschooling for my family is all about doing what feels right to you. So in a way even when I’m at school I still think of myself as a homeschooler. One of the main things I’ve always heard about the relationship between homeschoolers and normal school kids is that the school kids instantly dislike any homeschooler. My personal experience with public school kids is quite the opposite. So far everyone has been very welcoming and friendly, towards each other and myself. One refreshing thing I like about the school system is the orderly scheduling. One class ends, there’s a small break to allow you to get to your next class, and then the next class starts. A very frustrating thing, not about homeschooling, but about many homeschoolers is their unreliability. I can recall dozens of times where I’ve had to wait for thirty minutes and sometimes even hours for people to show up to events. School on the other hand is run like a machine, everyone gets where they’re going on time, every time. In all I would say that I’m happy with what I’ve done, what I’m doing now and what lies ahead. Alexander Kramer

Wednesday, February 29, 2012

Alexander’s Top Ten Video Games of All Time

#10 Call of Duty
The Call of Duty series has taken us through the bombed out cities of WW II, into the jungles of Vietnam and across the deserts of the modern war. COD has heard great praise of keeping its games realistic without sacrificing any of its action pack story. Whether it’s Europe in 1943 or Afghanistan in 2016 Call of Duty is guaranteed to satisfy your craving for war and excitement.

#9 Assassin’s Creed
Assassin’s Creed 2 is set in 1499 and follows Ezio, a young man set out on a quest of revenge against the man who had his family put to death. On this quest he discovers a group of assassin’s who like him, kill only for good.
Assassin’s creed is an open world third person game that gives the player a large inventory of weapons to choose from such as a sword, knife, crossbow, throwing knifes, and many other useful objects, all of which are at your disposal. The game also has a large free running aspect to it. All of these things combined makes for a very fun and action packed game with great replay ability.

#8 Left 4 Dead
Left 4 Dead starts off with four survivors meeting up by chance on their way to the Evac Zone. All of them decide to join up and try to make their way through the zombie apocalypse together. You and your friends play as these four survivors. Left 4 Dead forces heavy team work between you and the other members of your group. If you don’t all have each other’s backs, then no one will make it to the end.

#7 Deus Ex
Deus Ex is a first person shooter set in the year 2027. You play the role of Jensen, an ex-SWAT member, who is currently the head of security at a company called Sarif Industries. Sarif makes and sells robotic replacement body parts called augmentations. In this future world augmentations are highly controversial. This controversy gives way to extremist groups. One of these groups is set out to destroy those who have augmented themselves. But as the game progresses you find out that this group and company your aren’t what they seem to be.

#6 Portal
Portal is a very unique game unlike any other. You are given a futuristic piece of technology that allows you to open two interdimensional portals on any surface. The game’s story is very unclear at first, your character awakes in a very clean, sterile, white room. Your character is greeted only by a computerized voice played though the loudspeaker. This mystery voice tells you to complete a number of test courses, as the game proceeds you begin to find out more and more information about who and where you are.
It’s a very enjoyable game that is a lot of fun and has a great sense of humor.

#5 L.A. Noire
L.A. Noire follows a cop as he starts his new job as a detective. Through the course of the game your character is moved around to different branches of the department. L.A. noire uses mo-cap to give the killers, witnesses, and suspects realistic facial movements to deliver stunning emotions and provide movie like quality.

#4 Fallout 3
Fallout 3 is a highly successful open world RPG shooter, set in a post-apocalyptic Washington D.C. The games story is about a war between the U.S. and China. This war eventually turns nuclear and destroys the majority of both countries, but before the bombs fell many people locked themselves away in massive underground bunkers called vaults. after awhile the vaults opened their doors, only to find the horrible wasteland that awaited them. The vault dwellers had to adapt to this strange world where gang warfare rules and order is a thing of the past. You play as a lone wonderer in search for his father who has gone missing somewhere in this hellish and violent world.

#3 Halo 3
In Halo 3 you play as a super soldier named Master Chief who is fighting against an invading alien army. Master Chief was once one of thousands of super soldiers but all the rest were killed off when the planet of Reach was destroyed. Although the single player is fun it’s the multi-play that will keep you coming back. Also with an excellent map maker you can build anything you can dream up. Bungie (the games creator) has always been committed to making a fun and well balanced multi-player experience.

#2 Mine craft
Mine Craft is very different compared to most games. It has no story, no voice acting and no levels. You wake up in the forest in an infinitely large, randomly generated world. But this world is nothing but deserts, forests, oceans and snowy tundra. That’s where you come in. You cut down a tree to make a wooden pickaxe. Then you use that wooden pickaxe to mine stone. Then you use the stone pickaxe to mine iron and so on and so forth. You can build the simplest shack or the most luxurious mansion. The sky is the limit and your creations are only limited by your imagination.

#1 Bioshock
Bioshock is a highly story driven FPS set in an underwater city. The story is set in 1960. You play as a silent protagonist named Jack. You start the game on an airplane that’s flying across the Atlantic Ocean, while on route the plane crashes into the sea and Jack is the soul survivor. Jack swims to a mysterious light house in the middle of the ocean, inside he finds small submarine called a bathysphere. He finds an underwater city called Rapture, created by a man named Andrew Ryan. Ryan built this city to escape both closed minded people and government alike. His city has no restrictions on media, drugs, guns or prostitution. There are no taxes or charities in his city. Rapture shows the pros and cons of a world with true freedom. Bioshock asks many questions about religion, government and morality. It is a wonderful story and the underwater city of Rapture makes for a beautiful set piece. In my opinion Bioshock is one of the best games of all time.

Paranormal Activity 3

This review is very late but I thought at least you might read it before you rent the DVD.
I watched Paranormal Activity 3 in the theater with a few friends. I don’t really care much for scary movies for the most part. They seem to have very low budgets, bad actors and for the most part they aren’t even that scary.

Paranormal Activity 3 has a pretty good production value and decent actors. The main problem I found with the movie is that it was very slow. I found myself nodding off at times. Because Paranormal Activity 3, like many other horror films is filmed in a Blair Witch project style, all the cameras are either in the actors hands or on a tripod. This seems at first like an interesting idea, but after having to watch the same two rooms from the same angle for an hour and a half you get sick of fixed cameras.

I also found the story a bit hard to follow. I admit I haven’t see the other two films but the friends I was watching it with seemed to have as little idea what was going on as I did, even though they had seen all the movies in the trilogy.

Over all I would give it a 3/5

Thursday, February 16, 2012

The Artist Movie Review

Over the holiday break I had the chance to see a movie that I’ve been anticipating for quite some time. For the most part I enjoy movies from all genres, especially old movies, films form the 50’s, 40’s, 30’s, 20’s and 10’s. I enjoy silent films very much, I find it to be a very beautiful yet dead art form.

I regularly use a movie information website called IMDb. One day I was browsing the site when I saw a poster on the front page, the reason this movie caught my eye is because the front page is for new movies, but the people on the poster were dressed in 20’s clothing and it was in black and white. Once I did a bit of research I found out that a French director was filming a new silent movie. This film seemed right up my alley. So I made sure to see it in the theater.

The movie is about a fictional famous silent film actor named George Valentin. Who was once the main man in the lime light, with the world at his finger tips. But he fell victim to a world that has been changed by the invention on the ‘Talkies’. He is forced to the way side by new and young actors.

The film is very well done. It goes to every length to really make you believe the you’re watching a much older movie. I would have to say it’s one of my favorite films of all time if not my favorite. I highly recommend it to anyone seeking a much needed break from the typical big budget movie that lack the slightest scrap of a story.
Over all I’d give it a 5/5 It’s a must see!
-Great story
-Excellent art style
-fantastic acting


By Alexander

Monday, October 3, 2011

L.A. Noire review

L.A. Noire is a third person detective game set in 1947. You play as cop named Cole Phelps who is promoted to a traffic detective shortly after the beginning of the game. Through the course of the game Cole is promoted to the homicide desk. While on his new job he is given the opportunity to investigate very iconic real world cases such as the black dahlia murders. As the game progresses you are transferred to vice, being moved around to different jobs makes for game play that’s fun and stays interesting.

RockStar (the game’s creator) always make good games and this is definitely no exception. But L.A. Noire is a bit strang for RockStar and for games in general. Using mocap technology to capture real actures faces and expressions gives the witnesses and suspects depth rarely seem in a video game. L.A. Noire combines action and detective work in suck away that you don’t feel as if you are only looking for clues and talking to suspects, but at the same time it isn’t all guns and bombs like so many other games are. This game will keep you thinking, very few games have as much problem solving with out getting boring.

I’d give it 9.5 and would strongly recommend it to any one wanting some problem solving and action set in beautiful 1940’s Los Angeles.

Trip To Chicago

Recently a few of my friends and I went downtown Chicago together. For most people this would have just been a normal train ride and a walk through Chicago, but to me it means more. To me it’s a sign that I’m leaving childhood and becoming an independent adult. This was my first time riding the train without an adult and my first time in the city without my parents.

While we were in the city we went to a few differnet places. Once me and my friends got off the train we started to make our way towards Millenium park. After hanging out there for a while we started to look for a place to get some food. We finaly decited to stop at Subway. By the time we finished it was time to get back on the train and start heading home.

Not having any one there to keep track of time, where we are going or how to get back definitely forced me to rely on my self much more. I found my self paying much more attention to street names, what time it is and when the next train is coming. It was a very fun day and I hope to do it again soon.

Rockford World War 2 Reenactment

I recently attended the Rockford World War 2 reenactment. Every year in Rockford ,IL hundreds of reenactors meet up in full World War 2 uniforms, complete with blank firing guns and all of the other standard 1940’s military gear. There are also many tanks, trucks, jeeps, motorcycles, and tons of other pieces from the period.

From the first moment you enter the reenactment you feel as if you have been sent back in time to the 1940’s during World War II. There is several sections at the reenactment: in the middle you have a town, to the one side you have the American forces and to the other you have the German army. As you walk around you are able to stop and talk to the reenactors, ask them questions and get very interesting answers back. Through out the day small battles are held between the Axis of power and the Allied forces. These skirmishes are typically fought by five to ten Americans and five to ten Germans. But at the end of the day there is the big final battle. This final battle is all out war, hundreds of soldiers running across the field, artillery guns being fired and massive tanks rolling through the field.

It feels like you’re watching a movie being filmed, it looked and sounded so good.