Tuesday, June 29, 2010
As I drove down Air Depot Blvd. in Midwest City yesterday (6/28), I was a little disappointed to discover that the CD Warehouse franchise previously found in a small plaza north of S.E. 15th had been closed and the location available for rent.
CD Warehouse isn't the sort of establishment to wax nostalgic about- it's a chain of new/used CD shops that started popping up in the OKC metro area back in the 1990s, effectively gobbling up the smaller mom and pop shops that couldn't keep up and sopping up the remaining customers left after establishments like Blockbuster Music began collapsing. The emergence of second-hand music stores in this area on the scale that they once seemed to coincide with the time just before the advent of file sharing.
With the shuttering of CD Warehouse, there is, to my knowledge, now a complete lack of a retailer whose primary product is recorded music in the eastern part of the metro. "Big box" retailers Wal-Mart, Target, and Best Buy (whose music section seems to have contracted in recent months) hold the lion's share of the market, with used multimedia store Vintage Stock, whose music section is dwarfed by its selection of used video games, toys, and DVDs, as the lone holdout for customers seeking anything other than recent releases by acts currently occupying the Billboard singles chart and select catalog releases by established acts.
Much has been made of the death of the record store, whether it be due to the big boxes or online services (both legal and illegal.) There are still record stores in Oklahoma City- a couple of very good ones, at that- but the distance from the eastern suburbs now becomes a legitimate issue, especially for younger listeners. CD Warehouse wasn't independent by any means, and it certainly didn't have the sense of identity that one finds at Size or Guestroom Records, but it was the last nearby location for intrepid listeners in Midwest City, Choctaw, Harrah, and other suburbs east of I-35 to explore bins and take chances on music.
Related:The Tulsa World's piece on "retail volunteerism" (from 2008) illustrates the effect a record store can have on members of the community- what other for-profit establishment can inspire people to volunteer to work?
Monday, June 28, 2010
After over a year of legal wrangling, Dark Night of the Soul, the collaboration between director David Lynch, producer Brian "Dangermouse" Burton, and Mark Linkous, the late Sparklehorse mastermind, is finally going to see the light of day. Hear Dark Night of the Soul at NPR.
Saturday, June 26, 2010
Slashfilm, by way of Mashable, has posted a trailer for The Social Network, the David Fincher-directed, Aaron Sorkin-scripted film based on Ben Mezrich's book about the rise of Facebook.
The trailer itself is a teaser in the truest sense- only snippets of dialog over some on-screen text. (See it here if the video below does not play.)
In a related move that might be brilliant or awful, there's a Facebook group for the film. As of early Saturday (6/26) morning, there are only 512 "fans" of The Social Network. One can imagine that Mark Zuckerberg is probably not among them.
For earlier coverage of the origins of this film and some of the controversies surrounding Mark Zuckerberg, read this post.
Friday, June 25, 2010
As today is the first anniversary of Michael Jackson's passing, it's expected that there's going to be coverage and reflection regarding what his life and death mean to us as individuals and as a culture. There's a fair bit of nostalgia, to be sure, but it's also an opportunity for some critical consideration; for example, though Thriller continues to cast a long shadow, I've heard more Off the Wall and Bad cuts on the radio and in other media than anything.
Perhaps the best thing to come about during today's remembrances turned up on my radar thanks to ?estlove's Twitter feed. Questo posted a link to Vibe magazine's oral history of the rivalry between Michael Jackson and Prince. Read the article here.
Jackson, Prince, and Madonna were all born within a few months of each other in 1958; with the exception of Bruce Springsteen and U2 (who didn't hit their true commercial peak until very late in the decade), they represent the biggest acts of the 1980s. As gigantic as they were at the time, it's interesting to think of them as having any sort of competition between themselves, rather than being occupied with their own universes. There has been plenty of commentary about the relationship between Madonna and Jackson, but he had always seemed to exist outside of any peer group, both during his dominant period and his decline.
The oral history is great- the rivalry between the two seems to have provided at least some of the fuel behind their best work. Each would show up at the other's shows, taking notes and looking for ways to top what they were seeing and hearing. Perhaps the most compelling aspect of this article is that it does a great deal to humanize Jackson without passing judgement on him, for good or for ill. If Jackson is the Howard Hughes of the pop world, this rivalry provides another piece of the puzzle as to what spurred him creatively. UPDATE: Vanity Fair has a fantastic account of Jackson circa the "Thriller" video that provides further insight and some great anecdotes from that era.
There's an anecdote about a James Brown show attended by Jackson and Prince, in which Alan Leeds describes an impromptu showdown between the two men:
Prince went to a James Brown gig [in 1983] with Bobby Z, his drummer at the time, Big Chick, who was his security guard, and I think Jill Jones, who was one of his protégés. By now, everybody knows what happened at that gig. I don’t think Prince realized that Michael was going to be there. James looked a little puzzled in that video when Michael whispered in his ear, “Hey, bring Prince up.” And of course Prince didn’t really know what to do either. He went to the guitar first but he fumbles with that because it was left-handed. He played a few licks, did some dancing and knocked over a prop by accident. Now I always wondered if Michael intentionally brought Prince up to put him in that position just to say, “Hey, you think you’re on my ass? Well follow this, motherfucker [laughs].” Bobby Z called me and said, “Oh boy…he made an ass of himself tonight.” He said Prince didn’t say a word the whole way to the hotel.
Here's the video of that moment.
There are some other choice nuggets in there, including the nature of "Bad"'s beginnings (it was intended as a duet between Prince and Jackson; Prince walked out on the record, stating that it'd be a hit without him- Chris Rock and Prince confirmed this in a VH1 interview and Quincy Jones provides a little more info on the Bad rerelease) and stories of intense ping-pong matches in '86. Bobby Z, Prince's former drummer, confirmed basketball games between the two at Paisley Park- one has to wonder if Prince offered MJ pancakes afterword.
|True Hollywood Stories - Prince|
Keeping all of this in mind, it's hard to think of a contemporary analog for two brilliant creative forces goading each other on. Had Jackson completed his London performances, there's no doubt that this fire would have kept burning and, with Prince in better form over the past few years than he's seen in a decade (at least), there's at least some possibility that Jackson may yet have reasserted some of his artistic powers beyond the tepid, two-star-at-best Invincible.
One of the weirdest issues emerging with the new iPhone has to do with how the phone is held.
According to some reports, the phone actually loses signal when held in your left hand. Engadget has a pretty solid explanation of what's happening (be sure to watch the videos), but here's the long and short of it:
- The metal frame surrounding your phone is actually two antennae. One is for the 3G, the other is for your Bluetooth, etc.
- When you hold the phone in your left hand, your hand actually acts as a bridge between the two antennae at a point near the lower left corner of the phone. This causes the antennae to sort of short out.
This is an easy fix: you need some way to prevent the bridge. You can either purchase a case for your phone (which most of you will probably do anyway- you just dropped hundreds of dollars on a piece of tech- you really want to cheap out on the case?) or, if you're feeling especially trashy, you can put a small piece of electrical tape (or duct tape, if you want to rep the silver) on the lower left corner of your sleek, shiny, minimalist phone, preventing your skin from acting as a bridge. Of course, it'll make you look like a hillbilly; but, if you're using duct tape on an iPhone, you probably don't care about appearances.
This is in line with Steve Jobs's take on the situation (via Engadget again). You have to give the J-Man credit for continuing his tradition of responding to queries.
The antennae quirk, however, shouldn't be seen as "anti-left handers," as Buzzfeed suggests. Consider this: which hand do you use to dial numbers- your dominant hand or your subordinate hand? Score one for the lefties. (Brendan Hilliard will be relieved.)
Thursday, June 24, 2010
Edith Shain, the nurse in Eisenstadt's famous V-J Day photo, has passed away. Hear Eisenstadt's commentary on the photo here.
Here's Shain interviewed for NPR's All Things Considered in 2005, discussing the end of the war and the moment captured in the photograph.
Shain's passing is the sort that makes one wish Robert McG Thomas was still alive and writing obituaries. The one in The Washington Post is about as solid as any I've found.
The photo of Shain and an unidentified sailor has become a part of our cultural lexicon, inspiring countless tributes and homages, from similar photos and appearances in film and television to a statue of the pose. (That statue, Seward Johnson's Unconditional Surrender, has been a bit controversial in its current home, Sarasota, FL.)
BONUS:Footage of NYC, Chicago, and Seattle on V-J Day
Tuesday, June 22, 2010
More after the jump, including a collaboration with a pair of Yacht Rock legends.
Monday, June 21, 2010
As I continue the search for a new social media service, the Facebook discussion continues.
Over the weekend, Columbia Pictures unveiled the teaser poster for The Social Network. Based on Ben Mezrich's The Accidental Billionaires, it's got a screenplay by none other than Aaron Sorkin (A Few Good Men, TV's The West Wing) and is being helmed by David Fincher (Fight Club, The Curious Case of Benjamin Button.)
More about the movie and the past, present, and future of Facebook after the jump.
Sunday, June 20, 2010
Thursday, June 17, 2010
- Reading the lyrics first, during which one would assume Pernice is the most bummed-out English professor in New England. This is the wrong way to listen to these songs.
- Listening to the songs, completely oblivious to their lyrical content, and being completely sucked in by the exceptionally high level of AM Gold songcraft. This is the wrong way to listen to these songs, as well.
Instead, Pernice's body of song is something best experienced in a way not unlike his spiritual forebears in The Smiths- The jaunty, smartly composed "pocket symphonies" underline the dark humor in the lyrics even as said lyrics add a facet to the hooky, sunny melodies that permeate each release. It's an impressive trick, really: melodies Mom will hum along with all day long and lyrics Junior might try to lift in order to seem "deep"in his freshman comp class often spell disaster for lesser talents; for Pernice, achieving balance comes as as naturally as breathing and, over five previous studio albums under the Pernice Brothers banner, a handful of Scud Mountain Boys releases, and numerous side projects, he's created an alternate universe where Morrissey and Elvis Costello wrote fan letters to Jeff Lynne and David Gates instead of the New York Dolls. (Only Pernice could pull off a near-perfect Bread homage called "Grudge Fuck," complete with a chorus of "I'd give anything just to make it with you one more time.")
For those looking for a very adult (in the "grown up" sense), masterful set of "bummer in the summer" jams, Goodbye, Killer (Ashmont) ought to knock you dead.
More after the jump.
Wednesday, June 16, 2010
We're reaching a weird point in the current wave of nostalgia cash-ins. As of Monday, the top box office draws in America are both reboots of 80s hits- The Karate Kid, starring Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith (and featuring kung fu, rather than actual karate), and The A-Team, which seems to be everything its small-screen predecessor was (and critics expected anything else?), were both white-hot in 1984; meanwhile, I frequently check Ghostbusters fansites searching for info on the long-gestating third sequel (rumor is that it's now due in 2012.)
There's a scarier spook on the horizon, though: the 1990s remakes are coming, beginning with one you never thought you'd see brought back from the dead. Get ready to get right on top of it, Rose.
More after the jump.
Tuesday, June 15, 2010
They're a favorite around the headquarters and, judging by the stories that seem to get the most hits, they're a favorite of yours, too: The National are on an extensive tour at the moment and, thanks to a multimedia researcher from Vancouver, we get to enjoy the band at the peak of their powers. Thanks to Brendan Hilliard for the heads-up.
As the teaser shows, the concert is in glorious black and white and captures the band in fine form. One wouldn't be too out of line for wanting this film to see a professional release (along with the Brooklyn show back in May.)
TEASER/TRAILER: The National, Oakland Fox Theater, 2010/05/27 from karmafia on Vimeo.
The full show after the jump.
Monday, June 14, 2010 ~ 0 Comments
This entry is largely spoiler-free regarding last night's finale; however, this is not the case for many of the links. Be advised.
(An admission: this is a bit of a rave.)
As AMC's grimly funny, increasingly bleak, and often harrowing Breaking Bad closed out its third season last night, a shocking sense of just how the chess game between Bryan Cranston's Walt and his employer has evolved began to set in. the gloriously ambiguous season finale saw the "Heisenberg" persona flipped on its ear, with a shrewd bit of gamesmanship coupled with a moment of excruciating weakness on Walt's part. Time has posted a solid review of the episode, though it's quite spoiler-ridden.
It occurred to me that, in this season more than its predecessor, we've finally reached the "Michael Corleone in the restaurant" moment for both of the series' protagonists. The once-meek chemistry teacher has embraced the transition from "Mr. Chips to Scarface," as we've seen noted elsewhere; the tragically soft-hearted tweaker has been pushed to become the meth-fueled Darth Vader he thought that he already was. Vince Gilligan, the show's creator, has managed to redefine the crime drama for the post-Sopranos era. In a day and age where organized crime stories are largely period pieces, part of what makes Breaking Bad so excellent is the creeping sense that the "big bad" isn't going to be Don Vito Corleone or Tony's New Jersey crew; it's the sketchy kid on the corner and the stressed-out, middle-aged guy driving a Pontiac Aztek.
More after the jump.
Saturday, June 12, 2010
Internet memes are curious things by their very nature. We get things that are cute (see: "David After the Dentist"), things that are geeky and retro (see: virtually anything at YTMND- a favorite is Chunk is Indestructible), and often disturbing.
Then, there's "Pony" and its growing legion of dancers.
History lesson: "Pony" was the debut single from Ginuwine (nee' Elgin Lumpkin), whose website makes interesting use of quotation marks. It's an entry into the mid-90s post-New Jack, pre-AutoTune R&B field, at one point usurping the top spot (from Blackstreet's "No Diggity," no less) and helping to establish Timbaland as a producer to watch in coming years. Certainly, the use of what is either a talkbox, Vocoder, or bass synthesizer to utter those low "YEAH"s throughout the song gives it a bit of novelty, but it's largely an artifact of a bygone time.
And now: it's a web sensation thanks to the Dancing Alone to "Pony" Tumblr. One mainstream site- that of the DC-area FOX affiliate- has picked up on the story, which means we could see further coverage in coming (slow news) days.
More after the jump. (It gets weirder.)
Friday, June 11, 2010
Thursday, June 10, 2010 ~ 0 Comments
Album: American Slang
Artist: The Gaslight Anthem
Release Date: June 15 (US)
Hear the whole album at NPR's First Listen
"Look what you've started," Brian Fallon calls out over the pounding drums and kerrrrraang of guitars in the opening moments of his band's new album. "I seem to be coming out of my skin."
That song, the galloping title track from The Gaslight Anthem's American Slang, would lead you to believe otherwise: Brian Fallon sounds like a man in command of his voice, less likely to fall apart at the seams than to bind himself up in an armor stitched together from the best parts of his heroes. In this album, as with the previous release (2008's excellent The '59 Sound), there's enough of a punk energy to validate the sleeves of tattoos. One of the band's godfathers, Joe Strummer, can be heard from time to time; Strummer's finest eulogy may have been the band's "I'da Called You Woody, Joe." However, the whiff of the class of '77 fades after a few listens, revealing the classic rock heart beating at the core of this band. Previous tracks made mention of Tom Petty, Otis Redding, and Bob Seger, and you get the impression that those artists do share shelf space with Give 'Em Enough Rope and Singles Going Steady. One suspects Live Bullets probably gets as much play as either of those punk classics.
It's no surprise that The Gaslight Anthem is a member of the ranks waving Bruce Springsteen's denim E Street flag; that they're from his neck of the woods is icing on the cake (The Gaslight Anthem hails from New Brunswick, NJ.) But while bands like The Hold Steady seem to stand on the bridge between The Wild, the Innocent, and the E Street Shuffle and Born to Run, Drive-By Truckers have an ear for the personal and political commentary of albums like Darkness on the Edge of Town, and The National embraces the moody, darkly romantic of Springsteen's legacy, The Gaslight Anthem's newest release plays like the full-on rave-ups on The River in the best way possible. If you wondered about Bruuuuuuce's legacy, you can stop wondering.
The verdict and videos after the jump.
Wednesday, June 9, 2010
Okay, so... Mortal Kombat.
It's not a game trailer. Actually was made for the director to sell WB on his vision for a reimagined MK film.
More MK FAQs: I did it as a favor to a friend. No idea yet what WB's reaction to it was. And I'm not sure how you can contact WB...
...(cont.) to push them to make it. But you guys are resourceful...! ;-)
So, it's a big-budget trailer for... nothing. This explains the lack of logos for studios or game publishers, I suppose.
Tuesday, June 8, 2010
UPDATE: CHUD claims this is, in fact, for a movie. From their report:
Cat's out of the bag. This is for the movie, and it comes from the mind of genius fight choreographer Larnell Stovall. He's the guy who did the fights for the excellent Undisputed 3: Redemption, on DVD and Blu-Ray right now. I hope that this movie gets made with Larnell plotting the punches, because this guy isn't just a geek like us, he's also got an incredible skill and ambition to create the next generation of fight choreography.Even with the pedigree, I'm still skeptical. Let's see what happens.
My original post:
I hate to be the one to break it to the world, but the video that appears to be of a "gritty, dark" reboot of the cheeseball Mortal Kombat movies (yes, the ones based on the video game) featuring Michael Jai White and Jeri Ryan (as Jax and Sonya Blade, respectively) is for... a video game.
This turned up on Buzzfeed, via The High Definite:
(WARNING: this video is a little grisly and features, err, a "harlequin baby.")
Debunking and a brief history lesson after the jump.
UPDATE: Creators Project co-creator Spike Jonze will be attending Oklahoma City's deadCenter film festival kickoff tomorrow. (Thanks to Oklahoma Rock's Twitter feed for the tip.)
Wired has a pretty nice feature on Intel/Vice's joint venture, The Creators Project.
The core idea sprang from a dinner conversation between Vice’s Shane Smith and... film and video director Spike Jonze. Jonze asked Smith what he would do if he could do anything he wanted, with no financial constraints. Smith said his dream was to launch something along the lines of 1920s salons in Paris, where writers, artists, musicians and playwrights gathered to exchange ideas, resulting in a rich cultural cross-pollination.
Monday, June 7, 2010 ~ 0 Comments
Looks like the moment of truth is upon us: today is the day that Steve Jobs reveals the 4G iPhone.
Jobs is also expected to pull back the curtain on the next iPhone OS and possibly some information on opening the iPhone and iPad up to Verizon, according to the San Francisco Chronicle in their coverage of Apple's Worldwide Developer's Conference.
UPDATE: Jobs's keynote included all sorts of goodies- The LA Times has the blow-by-blow. In addition to iOS4 and the new iPhone, look for video chatting via iPhone, an app version of iMovie, Netflix for the iPhone, and an iPad-friendly version of, err, Farmville.
(The saga of the new iPhone ought to be old hat by now- Gizmodo's got the whole thing documented for you.)
Some more info and thoughts on what this means for buyers after the jump.
Sunday, June 6, 2010 ~ 0 Comments
This video has nothing to do with that, mind you. Just something for those of you who bothered to stop by this afternoon.
Because summer blockbusters are charging at us left and right, the word is that one of the stars of a film considered one of the first in the field has been located after an absence of nearly 35 years.
The sad news: he's been sitting in a scrap yard after all this time.
That's where NPR found Bruce- and we're not talking about The Boss.
All is revealed after the jump.
Saturday, June 5, 2010 ~ 0 Comments
Though steadily building a reputation as one of the most daring networks on cable in respect to its original programs- Mad Men, the brilliant Breaking Bad- American Movie Classics has, of late, become a home to films that play very fast and loose with the term "classic." While an 80s cheesefest like Iron Eagle may be a film I will enthusiastically watch, it's not exactly of the caliber of, say, The Maltese Falcon, though it's probably celebrated by the handful of people who want to remember Jerry Levine, Larry B. Scott, Robbie Rist, and Louis Gossett, Jr., as anything other than Styles, Lamarr Latrell, Cousin Oliver, and the badass military man from An Officer and a Gentleman (okay, Gossett plays another military badass in Iron Eagle- let's substitute the space alien stranded with Dennis Quaid in Enemy Mine and call it good.)
More after the jump.
Friday, June 4, 2010 ~ 0 Comments
The weekend is upon is- and it's going to be a hot 'un out here! Hot weather means it's time for some jams that sound gooooooood when you fire up the grill and kick back on the patio, and we're happy to oblige. These songs just sound right during a hot June weekend, you know?
Click the block party below to get it started!
Tracklist after the jump.
Thursday, June 3, 2010 ~ 1 Comment
Today's post was inspired by a string of comments on a Facebook status regarding the emotional impact of a film that I saw yesterday.
My grandmother cried at the end and said, "that's a little too close to home."
[It] put a lump in my throat on many occasions, the main character was incredibly compelling. I went to see it with a child, and I was WAY more impressed than she was.
I loved this movie. Cried like a baby several times.
And one more:
[I] took my kids to see it and they kept asking, "Mommy, what's wrong?" I know I got much more out of it than they did.
Every quote above came from an adult over the age of 25, none of whom were individuals wishing to come across as anything other than sincere...
...and all of whom were speaking about a cartoon. More specifically, we were discussing Disney/Pixar's 2009 film Up.
It's true- and there's more after the jump.
Wednesday, June 2, 2010 ~ 0 Comments
During an appearance on Larry King Live, Lady Gaga revealed a couple of interesting bits of information. Via TIME:
“I don’t necessarily like to talk about those very personal things that happened but I guess I can speak about it now,” Gaga said Tuesday night. “I was actually asked to open for Michael on his tour and we were going to open for him at the O2 and we were working on making it happen.”In the conversation with King, there was some indication that an onstage duet had been discussed.
Gaga has indicated that she wants to avoid collaborations on her next record, so there shouldn't be any concern about a Natalie Cole/"Unforgettable" production. That said, it's interesting to consider the possibility of Gaga, a woman whose sound and public image both have a very 80s sheen to them, taking part in the Jackson legacy. None other than Tommy Mottola has indicated that Jackson's unreleased catalog includes dozens of songs- could Gaga be a possible posthumous collaborator, should the Jackson estate go the route of Tupac Shakur? Of the candidates, she's got a pedigree much like one of Jackson's peers, Madonna. It's certainly a fun thought to entertain, even if it is purely speculation.
The former Stefani Germanotta also revealed that she tests "borderline positive" for lupus, a disease which she says runs in her family.
After the jump, LG gets her karaoke on with some big name friends and links to a profile and some academic musing on Gaga.
Tuesday, June 1, 2010 ~ 0 Comments
Remember Footloose? Remember Chuck, the jerk Lori Singer dates until Kevin Bacon shows up and cuts loose... footloose?
I think that's the best analogy for the social media dilemma I'm facing. Facebook is Chuck, the users are Lori Singer, and... well, we haven't figured out who gets to be Kevin Bacon yet.
LOTS more after the jump.