Category Archives: Entertainment

The Mother We Share

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The electro-pop of Scottish Chvrches is just too catchy to pass up. Ever since learning that they might be playing at Bonnaroo this coming year I’ve become addicted to their stylized hooks and melodies. They’ve gone from being a band that I always passed over – I have a thing against bands that try to seem cool by swapping letters around – to being one of the acts I’m most looking forward to.

Just shows that you can’t judge a band by its… cover?

Space Oddity

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There’s not much more to be said about David Bowie and “Space Oddity” that hasn’t been said already. That doesn’t mean you can’t enjoy seeing the original 1969 video to the smash hit. It’s amazing to look at it, in all its vintage glory, and then compare that to modern music videos. It is remarkable how far the genre of music videos has come.

This video also provides a great insight into the creative process that goes behind making singles. If this version doesn’t sound familiar to you, it is because the song would later undergo multiple revisions to eventually become the “Space Oddity” that most people know and love today.

For reference, here is the better known 1972 “Space Oddity.”

Eminem Is a “Rap God”

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The second single from Eminem’s recent album, MMLP2, “Rap God” hit YouTube around a month ago at this point. Living up to its name, the song proves that Eminem is a “Rap God.” Old school fans of Eminem approaching this, hoping for another “Lose Yourself,” may well be disappointed; however, anyone wanting to see a new Eminem at the top of his game needs to look no further.

“Rap God” brings a mix of everything that made Eminem a sensation in the first place, with a new sense of maturity and energy. Tied to all of this is a very real knowledge of the need for Eminem to solidify his legacy, as well as pointing out the failures of rap today. Whereas Eminem was  “a product of Rakim/Lakim Shabazz, 2Pac, N-W-A., Cube, hey, Doc, Ren/Yella, Eazy, thank you, they got Slim,” modern rappers appear as being as “pointless as Rapunzel/With fucking cornrows/You’re write normal, fuck being normal.” Then, in classic Eminem fashion, he goes on to mention how he brought a ray gun from the future.

Eminem was never a rapper to shy away from controversy, or unique rhymes and themes. “Rap God” shows him at the top of his game in terms of this. Whether he’s playing with the puns of slap boxing not being that hard in the bridge, or talking about his blueprint for success from his younger years, Eminem is all action in this song. It shows, too. At over six minutes in length, “Rap God” is an opus from Eminem, it is a legacy builder.

Aside from the content of the verses, the real standout from the track is Eminem’s impressive mastering of different speeds, timing, and flow. Effortlessly he seems to transition from one time signature to another, resembling more the mastery of rappers like Gift of Gab, than any mainstream rappers you see today. And there you have the crux of Eminem’s piece.

He seemingly laments the state of the music and art he loves, and so, through “Rap God,” he’s hoping to set the bar high and challenge other rappers to even come close to challenging his stature.

“Her” Makes Sci-Fi Heartfelt

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Someone once read that the key to writing good Sci-Fi was creating a future where the major difference from our current world isn’t the technology, but the culture that surrounds it. Well, if that is the key to an amazing work of Science-Fiction, director Spike Jonze nails it on the head with “Her.” Dismissing the doom and gloom of recent science-fiction, Jonze instead focuses on how relationships could flower and grow between humans and AI. The result is that “Her” makes Sci-Fi heartfelt, and all the more haunting. (Some slight spoilers ahead)

“Her” follows recently divorced Theodore Twombly – played amazingly by Joaquin Phoenix – an introverted, awkward, and miserable man. Theodore’s life consists mainly of writing personalized messages at a card company and playing video games in his apartment in slightly chromified and glassy future LA. An emotional mess, Theodore on a whim decides to try out the world’s first AI operating system.
Once set up, Theodore and his AI, Samantha – voiced flawlessly by Scarlett Johansson – develop a strong relationship that eventually blossoms into a complete romance. While this concept had the chance to be highly flawed and flat out ridiculous, Jonze  masterfully built an entire universe and culture that allowed such a concept to flower. So, while Theodore becomes intimately connected to Samantha, other characters drop hints of the friendships they are simultaneously developing with their own respective operating systems or gossip about how rare this type of relationship actually is.

A movie like “Her” would never have worked fifteen, or even ten, years ago. But now, as we are already all but inseparable from our phones, “Her” doesn’t feel like such a leap. Who hasn’t had a friend, or acquaintance, become genuinely emotional about breaking a laptop or losing a phone? Now how would we all actually respond if our devices could actually learn, connect, and talk to us with their own unique personalities and view points?

“Her”‘s greatest strength most certainly lies in the casting choices. Joaquin Phoenix manages to convey genuine remorse, doubt, and joy. At every step of the story, you can understand exactly how Theodore must feel and, more masterfully, you can empathize with how someone in his situation would eventually seek a relationship through Samantha, who does seem to truly love him – thanks to Johansson’s amazing work.

Whereas many films may fall into general sappiness or reach for some deus ex machina solution to the underpinning question of how a human and a disembodied machine may ever truly achieve a true relationship, “Her” suffers no such pitfall. The ending is masterful, and drives home the general thrust of the film – What are relationships truly? How tenable are they ever really?

All in all, “Her” is the first must see movie of 2014 (or, technically, the last ‘must see’ of 2013).

Sufjan Stevens – Chicago

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Some days you just have to sit back and listen to some Sufjan Stevens. As the Polar Vortex in the North East is finally starting to subside, and the weather is getting warmer – even if almost imperceptibly slowly – Sufjan Stevens’ Chicago fits the mood perfectly. Perhaps it’s partially because of the viral photos circulating of Chicago covered in ice earlier this week that this song has been on my mind. In any case, when the weather is this cold, it’s good to remember that “all things go, all things grow.”

Chicago in Ice

For more incredibly images of Chicago frozen over, head on over to this Huffington Post article.

Photo Credit: Akasped

Sixteen Military Wives

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With all the diplomacy going on with the possible drumming up of war, or the drumming up of diplomacy, over Syria this video only seemed appropriate for a Friday Refrain. I can’t think of anyone who does a better job of mocking the U.N. and US foreign policy than this video for Sixteen Military Wives by The Decemberists. Plus, well, it’s just enjoyable.

As one of the top commenters on YouTube said, the video really is like a Wes Anderson film. Awesome.

Robot Hell

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In honor of the final season of Futurama (again), here is one of my favorite songs from the series. Although I generally prefer to post videos, I couldn’t find any video of high enough quality to share. So, audio only today!

The Perfect Soundtrack to a 90s Child

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To anyone born in the ’90s, do you remember growing up playing Nintendo? Or maybe you watched Cartoon Network’s Toonami, which was heavily dominated by anime classics like Sailor Moon and Dragonball Z. Maybe you weren’t quite that nerdy. Maybe, instead, you were the cool kid in elementary school and had the largest collection of tamagotchis in your class.

Continue reading The Perfect Soundtrack to a 90s Child

Take Your Time (Coming Home)

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Well, here we go. The last post you’ll have from me (this run) from outside of America, or scheduled from the past. I hope everyone is ready, because I will be back home in four days.

I guess I really did take my time coming home. So it goes, I’m ready for sushi… Although I’m sure I will find it very hard to leave the beaches of Dubrovnik. Goodbye, King’s Landing, goodbye.

Aqualung

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I’m in Budapest, now. Did you know that Jethro Tull has a song called Budapest? Neither did I, but I love “Aqualung” so here we are. I imagine by this point in my trip too, after three weeks of back-packing through hostels, that I’ll match the description of having greasy fingers and shabby clothes… Though certainly without the whole eyeing little girls with bad intent part, though.

60 Revolutions

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In keeping with the theme of travel, and Gogol Bordello, and Eastern Europe, I give you 60 Revolutions (Per Minute) direct from Krakow! I guess this song would really be more fitting for if I was in Ukraine or Russia… But Poland is close enough, and it has experienced it’s fair share of revolutions.

Anyway, yeah, Eastern Europe! I imagine that by this point I’m really excited to see Bonobo live in concert tomorrow –  I would hope I’m still excited to see him, at least.