February 23, 2009
This entertainment blog is currently on hiatus, however please check out my new humorous drinking blog
for weekly reviews on beer, wine and liquor
November 12, 2007
“Sweating Honey’s music is a melting pot of genres, ranging from Reggae to Latin, Hip-Hop to Country Rock, and R&B to Bluegrass: New-Americana sounds spliced with socially conscious lyrics and a powerful train wreck of energy to create an epic and original”
Sweating Honey’s sound may be undefinable but their stage charisma and energy certainly isn’t; it’s elemental. You can see it pass through a crowd as girls and guys alike naturally gravitate towards the dance floor to participate in what is know as “Hippy dancing.” Hippy dancing roughly defined is the act of dancing with no discernible style, egotism or taste. Basically you get out on the dance floor and let loose with a barrage of swing dancing, Russian folk dancing, Michael Jackson’s Thriller (you know the zombie one), jumping in place and anything else you can think of to your feet’s delight.
To hear a sample of their work, check out their MySpace page (Hide and Seek is quite popular but it’s much better live) or their website in which you can download their entire EP album for free. For a chance to see them live they are known to tour the northwest during the summer including; Alaska, Canada, Washington, Oregon, Northern California and Colorado.
Their regular haunts are The Marlin and the University Pub among other bars and taverns around Fairbanks. So if you see they’re playing; gather up your friends, dress comfortable, have a few drinks and hippy dance till last call, you won’t be disappointed.
I believe weekend day’s break down into easily categorized themes (wouldn’t Aristotle be proud). Friday is the end of the work week and is typified by evening activities and socializing with friends. Saturday is spent recovering from the previous night’s “socializing”, but more importantly it’s usually spent doing activities that make us happy, whether it’s with family, friend’s or just some personal time. Sunday looms with work and preparation for the following week but Saturday truly is a free day.
Lego Star Wars is great way to spend a lazy Saturday, basking in it’s colorful block figures as they jump and blast Clone Troopers across the television. The game’s tone and playful mechanics brings back the simple days of youth. Days in which it was too cold or too rainy to go outside for any length of time. So instead one would got some hot coco, a blanket and plopped oneself near a heater while playing some 8/16 bit pixelated goodness. Lego Star Wars may be a kids game, but adults can find their inner child and enjoy it just as much.
One of the key points of appeal to the game is the ability of drop-in co-op. What I mean by this is say your blasting through a level and a friend drops by. Instead of having to start a whole new co-op game, your buddy can just pick up a second controller, hit start and bam, they’re in fighting along side you. Oh what’s that? Your buddy got a call and has to head out, no problem, they can hit start and drop out. Your single player game is never interrupted with the exception of the pause screen. It’s a simple but effective game element that’s adds to the experience instead of interrupting the flow.
Another element that’ll have you playing long after the game’s story mode has ended is the collectibles. Normally collectibles are a cheap way to extend a games life (ala GTA III and Spiderman 2) but really aren’t worth getting. But in Lego Star Wars, the currency will buy you additional characters to play as with unique moves (General Grievous, four arms of light saber wielding sweetness). Also if you obtain enough currency you can unlock secret pieces of Legos that later build together to make a ship and unlock an secret special stage. Another thing that’s cool is that you can physically view the unlocked Lego ship outside the game’s waiting/loading center (a diner of all things) among other Lego ships that you unlock by collecting special canisters.
The game is a simple platformer with puzzle and action elements, but when broken down further we find that the game is just fun and in the end leaves us wanting more.
Thankfully that can be accommodated with Lego Star Wars II: The Original Trilogy, which improves on the original with new and additionally enjoyable content. And if you have a next generation gaming system (PS3, Xbox 360, Wii) you can get both games together in Lego Star Wars: The Complete Saga.
A copy of the original Lego Star Wars game runs around 15 bucks new. For the amount of fun I got out of it and continue to with co-op with friends, I’d say it was 15 bucks well spent.
November 5, 2007
The new Justin Timberlake album, FutureSex/LoveSounds is one of the best sounding pop albums since Michael Jackson’s Thriller was pressed onto vinyl oh so long ago (Thriller music video). While MJ got it right on his sixth attempt, JT appears to be vying for the crown as king of pop by dropping a monster of an album on only his second try. Thanks are largely due to producer Timbaland who has recently put out a plethora of amazingly catchy material. Timbaland adds heavy beats, lots of synth effects, a wide variety of urban talent (i.e. Three 6 Mafia, T.I., will.i.am), solid production and the ability to mold and cook JT’s voice like a piece of raw dough. However JT must be given a large amount of credit in his fore-site to see that in order to become a true pop-star sometimes you have to take risk. And FutureSex/LoveSounds was one heck of a risk.
The album you can tell is going to be different from his previous works by the way it starts out. FutureSex/LoveSounds the song, is an odd mix of futuristic synth, groovy guitar and whispery pressing lyrics. This trend continues with the first single Sexyback, albeit the sound changes to an aggressive driving beat, heavy voice distortion and somewhat annoying repetitious lyrics. The next song of real interest is My Love, simply an amazing song that’s so cool it doesn’t need to be told it’s cool to be cool, it just is. My Love, while a bit long in the tooth for a pop song (4min 36secs), features rap solos that can only be described as nailing it. LoveStoned/I Think She Knows (Interlude) is another song that can be described as amazing however for completely different reasons. More poppy and upbeat than My Love the preceding song, LoveStoned replaces cool with fun and offers interesting contrast with a somewhat melancholy ending in I Think She Knows (Interlude). What Goes Around…/…Comes Around is a song that everyone can understand. Love has been lost but seemingly to causes outside of ones control and there is nothing left to do but to move on. Its anger and disgust is palpable, we hear JT voice our emotion and directly relate asking him to sing it again , which he does for a full five minutes.
There are other hits on the album including the heavy rap song Chop Me Up (featuring Three 6 Mafia), the throwback song Summer Love and the surprisingly soulful song Losing My Way (which is ironic because what does a Mouseketeer know about crack?). The album on a whole shows off JT’s wide range of talent and the assortment of different hats he can wear. From playful teen pop star, soul singer, techno beat guy to bad boy, Mr. Timberlake succeeds wildly at each. The only question remaining is what will he do to top his already impressive music carrier? Hopefully something as new, dynamic and solid as what he’s making today. Big order, but the king of pop is a big title and won’t go to those not worthy of wearing its illustrious crown.
To hear a shortened podcast version of this review which includes several examples from the album, please click this link to download an mp3 or click the play button below to play the file in your browser.
November 4, 2007
For those stuck in a lab late one evening or happen to have a spare monitor, I’d like to share a few of my favorite sites for watching streaming TV shows and movies.
It has a limited selection of movies but some are still in theater or recently released.
This site is excellent for certain series such as Heroes or Scrubs, however sometimes you have to brush up on tu hablo Espagnol because a lot of the videos are in Spanish.
Dailymotion, is another good resource for TV series but it is a french hosted service, so be prepared to brush up on vous parlez francais as well.
Enjoy it while it last, I’ve used similar sites before and it seems they get shutdown or turn lame every few months or so
October 29, 2007
Hate or love it, reality television is here and here to stay. This weeks The Stack Up features two excellent examples of wonderfully vapid television; A Shot at Love with Tila Tequila and I love New York 2.
Tila Tequila (also known as Tila Nguyen) gained notoriety as the queen of myspace after obtaining an unheard of amount of “friends” (we’re talking 2,130,694 as of today) and changing the landscape of the budding social networking site forever. Tila continued to gain notoriety after posing for Playboy, Maxim and Penthouse among other magazines in little to no clothing. So how does she get her own show? We’ll she’s hot, exotic, a total attention whore and get this a bi-sexual “seeking love”. Perfect MTV material and perfect reality television. 16 straight men and 16 lesbian women are set to compete against each other for Tila’s “love”. The show is a new hat on an old concept (ala Big Brother and Survivor) but is surprisingly entertaining. I guess it boils down to a classic battle of the sexes. Who will win? One of the frat-boy’ or one of the lipstick lesbians? Man or woman?
Recommendation: Watch with your buddies while having some beers. Tila’s hot, so are the lesbians and the guys are idiots, what’s not to love?
I never saw I love New York 1, but if it’s anywhere as surreal and weird and its second season, then it’s no wonder why it was picked up again by VH1. Tiffany Pollard‘s claim to fame came from her appearances on Flavor Flav’s, Flavor of Love reality series. Her name New York was given to her by Flavor Flav and now is utilized as her stage name. Funny enough though, as “New York” she was rejected not once but twice after being brought back for the second season of Flavor of Love. Somehow this equates to her being given her very own television reality series and now a second season as well. The show is a freak show of characters including a seemingly mentally challenge guy (It, is his surname and drugs appear to be his mental problem i.e. permifried), a midget (Midget Mac) and a rich white jerk (Tailor Made) among others. New York spend the majority of the showing prancing around in shirt’s three times too small for her obscenely large fake boobs (they literally spill over) and putting on a pitiful air of sophistication while revealing herself to being rather loose and freakish during the one on one time with her 20 potential suitor’s. I suppose it’s like Ludacris’ line in the 2003 smash-hit song Yeah!
Lets drank you the one to please, Ludacris fill cups like double D’s.
Me and Ursh once more and we leave ’em dead, we want a lady in the street but a freak in the bed to say (chorus) Yeah!
I Love New York 2 is a reality show that’s so amped up it’s almost a parody of the genre.
Recommendation: Watch alone while drunk. If you’re watching this show sober and relate to the characters and social interactions then you may be working the tilt-a-whirl at the local county fair before long. And if you are, can I get a free ride?
October 22, 2007
Well I couldn’t resist, The Stack Up is a fun and easy blog item to do, so here is a second The Stack Up in the same week.
This weeks additional The Stack Up; music singles by Kayne West and The Fruit Guys.
The Kayne West – 50 Cent battle that ensued when both artists released their album on the same day, September 11, 2007, appears to have a clear monetary and reviewed victor, Mr. Kayne West. His single, Stronger, samples from the already popular Daft Punk song, Harder, Better, Faster, Stronger, and does something pretty telling about the music industry. Kayne West takes the song, slows it down, chops it up as a chorus and underlying beat, poorly raps to it and yet sells millions of more copies than Daft Punk could ever dream of. The song is worth listening to, it’s pretty catchy; however it just makes me want to listen to the original sample even more once it’s done.
Recommendation: Listen to it on the radio and then go buy a Daft Punk album.
If you’ve never heard of The Fruit Guys don’t feel bad, they don’t really exist as a band in the traditional sense. The Fruit Guys are part of a marketing campaign by the Fruit of The Loom company comprised of four guys dressed as different fruits playing instruments and singing about cotton undergarments. Normally I try not to pay attention to advertising jingles in the hopes of warding off the Pavlov’s dog effect. However in the case of The Fruit Guys song/jingle Blue, I can’t help but take notice. It’s so well done that I could have easily mistaken it as a new Coldplay single on the radio, if not for the subtle differences in the singer’s voices. The music video is as incredibly well done as the song, using a variety of backwards photography, slow motion and selective blue shading for the world that surrounds the band members. In a word, wow, if only all advertising could be this creative.
Recommendation: Add to your “mellow” playlist and see how many people you can convince that you have the new Coldplay single
So to try something different this week I’ve decided to introduce a continuing article entitled, The Stack Up. In this article I will select and review several items of entertainment culture and submit a recommendation.
This weeks The Stack Up is; music singles by 50 Cent and The Foo Fighters
First up is 50 Cents first single, Ayo Technology(aka She Wants It) off his new 2007 album, Curtis. In the song, 50 Cent discuss’ the main attraction of strippers, sex appeal very much akin to T-Pains 2006 single I’m N Luv (Wit a Stripper) (interesting enough both songs peaked out a #5 on the Top 100 Billboard). However we’re not looking for lyrical depth in a 50 Cent pop song, no instead we want a good hook, catchy beat and a chorus you can sing in the shower. Of these traits Ayo Technology succeeds on all accounts. However we knew it had too good as it was produced by mega producer Timbaland and guest stars the golden goose Justin Timberlake (If you don’t own FutureSex /LoveSounds, find money and buy it, best pop album since Michael Jackson’s Thriller).
Recommendation: Bump it in your car and at parties with a futuristic urban flair.
Next up is another first single, The Foo Fighters – The Pretender. Simply a fantastic alternative rock song. It’s quite melodic intro draws you into the song making you strain to hear the words and just as you’ve adjusted, the song slams into a driving beat and you smile as you realize that yes indeed this is the post-grudge band The Foo Fighters. Lyrically it’s just another rebellion song.
What if I say I’m not like the others?
What if I say I’m not just another one of your plays?
You’re the pretender
What if I say that I’ll never surrender?
The video enforces this concept drawing imagery of post-apocalyptic throngs of faceless law enforcers (i.e. V for Vendetta, Escape from L.A. or THX-1138). However the songs merit lies in it’s supreme delivery and raw emotion (much like the grudge style it roots from).
Recommendation: Turn it up while working out or while plotting to overthrow the government
October 15, 2007
Sitting in my apartment watching the Daily Show the other day, I noticed that a comic book was lying underneath some discarded miniature candy wrappers (my flat mates and me love the Halloween season) and a Wii remote. Upon further examination, the comic book turned out to be, Batman: The Dark Knight Returns by acclaimed writer Frank Miller. The same Frank Miller that created such vivid realities and recent movie hits such as Sin City and 300.
Skeptical, I berated my roommate for buying a comic and being a geek. Laughing he responded that I should shut up and check it out as he judged it to be so intense and well done that it made him sweat while reading it. Intrigued, I decided to read it, even though I hadn’t picked up a comic since I was 10 years-old or so. So one afternoon in between classes I found that I had the apartment all to myself, a perfect time to nerd it out and read a comic book. Settling down in to a couch and munching on a sandwich I had made (toasted tuna with lettuce) I began to read a story.
Batman as we all know fights crime, always has and always will. However in Frank Millers rendition Batman has retired, 10 years have past since his disappearance and we are met with a gray haired and mustached man walking with a cane by the name of Bruce Wayne. Wayne, Batman’s alter-ego is bitter and indifferent to those suffering since his absence, stating that he had done his part and the world will continue as it always will. However, things are getting worse, a new mob of amoral delinquents ravage the city and kill simply for the joy of it. They eventually even attack Wayne, to the effect of awaking the old demons that drove Batman’s insatiable lust for justice and vengeance upon the criminal world. Needless to say, Wayne walks away from the encounter unscathed but not uninjured. Batman begs to be released again, even if it means the death of the old man that contains it.
The tale is an old one, one of an old dog getting a second chance to compete and possibly die in the glory of his profession and youth. Miller’s gritty illustration’s, biting wit and character development bring the story to life with sweating intensity. The comic plays out like a surreal film noir, we know these characters but never could imagined this reality. This is Miller’s gift and it translates surprisingly well to the average consumer.
After spending an afternoon and part of an evening reading Millers work, I now understand how people over the age of 10 can still enjoy comic books or why manga is growing in popularity. It’s the story that counts and sometimes illustrations are not only nice but necessary in order to tell it.
I don’t see myself becoming a “comic book nerd” anytime soon but I may have to check out the local shop every once in awhile and see what I’ve been missing for the past 10 years. At the very least, I’ll check out what else Miller‘s been up to in the cel-shaded world
Last week South Park kicked off the second part of its eleventh season with an episode entitled, Le Petit Tourette. In the episode, Cartman discovers the psychological affliction, “Tourette’s Syndrome”. And as we all know, Tourette’s is renowned by the inability to control when one curses an expletive. And much to Cartman delight, he claims to have Tourette’s and uses his “affliction” to berate his Jewish friend Kyle, Judaism and everyone and everything in the most vulgar and depraved language possible. Fortunately, Cartman’s new found ” freedom” has a catch(one which I won’t ruin for you, it’s pretty funny), and he has to attempt to get out of a interview with To Catch a Predator‘s Chris Hansen which he had scheduled earlier in the episode.
I bring this episode up because it got me thinking about the exploitive nature of To Catch a Predator and the questions it raises. The primary question being, why does this show bother me? It does a public service by catching child molesters in the act and turning them over to the proper authorities to be dealt with, who could object to that?
Well this guy Daniel Giuditta does.
In Giuditta’s video he voices the unpopular opinion that To Catch a Predator is no more than a smut film being played during prime time in order to grab ratings and advertising revenue. Giuditta equates the shows characters (child predator’s) to being train wrecks that while they may horrify and disgust us, we just can’t look away. Giuditta also has a problem with the civil “vigilante” group Perverted Justice that co-runs the “investigation”. The problem he has is that officially deputized members of the group are being paid by NBC for their services. Basically, official members of government are being paid by a corporation to perform a service that nets the corporation profits. Another word for this would be bribery.
The other problem is one of good journalistic taste. After 11 Dateline specials, I believe the journalistic portion of the show is no longer valid. Journalism by definition is supposed to illuminate new meaning or perspective on an issue or news item in order to convey additional information to the public so as to encourage civil discourse and encourage a more informed and enlighten population. Or at least that’s my definition, however I think many would agree. In addition I think many would agree that by this definition To Catch a Predator moved from an intriguing and shocking journalistic report to sensationalized non-news after the initial specials and certainly long before “episode” 11.
To put it simply, while the show may be entertaining, the journalist credit upon which its foundation rest is no longer there and the show is no more than the exploitation of America’s morbid curiosity.
It’s like Cops, only with sick perverts and a host that can make anyone sit down.