A Few of My Favorite Follows

Written by : Posted on January 4, 2010 : 13 Comments

Now that Twitter has lists, it’s become even easier to follow more people without missing the content you really want. Here are a few of my favorite people/things to follow.

Music: @AmazonMP3 If you’re still buying music on iTunes, I only have one question: Why? AmazonMP3 albums are always cheaper, and every month they have at least 50 albums for $5. Plus, they offer $3 off coupons all the time. I bought the Antlers’ album, Hospice*, the other day for $2.00. Follow them on Twitter for the daily deal and special discounts.

Entertainment: @Variety Probably the best source for Entertainment news. And one of the news sources best-suited to 140 characters. For casting updates and box office reports, a headline is all you need.

Important: @TheEconomist For when you CNN isn’t really enough. More in-depth and thoughtful articles on finance, business, and world news.

Funny: @TheSulk Alec Sulkin*, a writer/actor/producer of Family Guy, has becomes my favorite for quality one-liners. It’s nice to see things like,“God, I wish I was 5 years younger, and not me.” in your feed every once in a while.

*My thanks to @TylerRomes for recommending both of these things to me.

Favorite Films of 2009

Written by : Posted on January 2, 2010 : No Comments
Jesse Eisenberg

Jesse Eisenberg

Here’s a list of my very favorite films* of 2009.

1) ADVENTURELAND. This is an interesting choice, I know. I get shit all the time for liking this movie and now I’ll hear about it even more for placing it atop my list. But, I love it. Adventureland was mis-marketed when it came out. Sure Greg Mottola directed it, but this is no Superbad 2. It’s an honest, slow, and caring look at growing up. A coming of age story that deals with work, family, and love in familiar yet fresh ways. Jesse Eisenberg may play the same character he does in every film, but he plays it brilliantly here. And you almost forget Kristin Stewart is Bella Swan in those other movies, as she pulls off a moving and subtle performance here as Em, Eisenberg’s love interest. Rounding out the cast are favorites like Martin Starr, Bill Hader, and Kristing Wiig each adding another layer to the film.

2) UP IN THE AIR. You know those movies you go into with such high expectations you just can’t help but be let down? Up in the Air was already on a number of top ten lists before I got a chance to see it. I had already heard that George Clooney gave a career-defining performance, and that Anna Kendrick was sure to be a star. My expectations could not have been higher. But, then I saw it. And Up in the Air delivered. Topical in a way Director Jason Reitman never could have anticipated, this film about a corporate downsizer who spends 250 lonely days per year flying, somehow manages to make you care about a man who fires (sometimes dozens of) people every day. The performances are astounding, particularly Clooney and Kendrick, but what’s surprising is the heart.

3) (500) DAYS OF SUMMER. Is there anything more tired and cliche than the Romantic Comedy? I mean, this is the year that gave us The Ugly Truth and Confessions of a Shopaholic. (500) Days of Summer while not completely free of the usual Romantic Comedy trappings (goofy best friend, precocious little sister) rises above the genre with inventive writing and direction, a non-linear plot, and dashes of creativity that in lesser hands would have felt like trite indie-movie tropes. Instead we get an engaging story about love (not a love story), led by my favorite new pair of leading actors: Joseph Gordon-Levitt and Zooey Deschanel.

4) STAR TREK. I’ve only seen two episodes of the original series, and I have no interest in dressing up and attending a Star Trek convention, but I still loved this movie. And that says a lot about what Director J.J. Abrams accomplished here.  A movie for fans and novices alike, what makes Star Trek so successful are the intense action, the seamless effects, and a story we care about. We know who these characters are, and we care what happens, whether or not we’ve already been watching them for 40 years.

5) INGLOURIOUS BASTERDS. This is easily my favorite Quentin Tarantino movie. For the first time in his career, I feel like style serves the substance instead of the other way around. He’s confident enough to leave scenes at a desperately-long 25 minutes, even when the only thing happening is a conversation. But, it’s in these scenes that the tension rises to levels higher than in any other film this year. Lives are threatened here just as often by the tone of a voice as by the end of a bat. It’s thrilling, unexpected, and altogether original.

6) AVATAR. Talk about a movie with high expectations. James Cameron’s first feature in over a decade was famous well before anyone ever saw a screen shot. Estimates of the film’s enormous budget were circulating before any reviews came in. But now that the film is out and the dust has settled, what remains? A beautiful and groundbreaking film. I won’t argue the merits of the story, as it is indeed a sort of environmentalist  Dances with Wolves. But the effects are incredible. It’s the best 3D and motion capture I’ve ever seen. You forget that the Na’vi aren’t a real people Cameron found, that Pandora isn’t a real place. As promised, I think we’ll find that Avatar was the beginning of a new wave of filmmaking.

7) FANTASTIC MR. FOX. If Cameron demonstrated the possibilities of cutting edge technology, Wes Anderson showed just how much could be accomplished with anachronistic stop motion. A project years in the making, Fantastic Mr. Fox looks like a handmade art school project. And I mean that in the best possible way. Every frame is filled with Anderson’s details: Carpet patches as farmland seen from above, a tiny corduroy suit, miniature paintings.  The things we came to love about The Royal Tenenbaums and Rushmore years before somehow feel original again in this context. Here’s proof that Anderson one of the best directors of the 1990’s still has some originality left nearly 20 years later.

8) UP. Pixar has yet to make a bad film, and even with this impressive pedigree, Up is one of their best. Where they’ve dealt with children and families before, Up takes a decidedly different approach, as the main character is an older man whose life has largely already passed. In perhaps the best montage of the year, we see his whole life progress from childhood, up until the death of his long-time love. It’s new ground for Pixar and it works. The story falters only slightly near the end with a villain that’s a little too stilted.

9) WHERE THE WILD THINGS ARE. There are only two ways to view this film: 1) It’s boring, slow, confusing, and seems to have little to do with the book or anything else -or- 2) It’s brilliant, visually-rich, emotionally complex, and challenging. I’m in the latter camp. Spike Jonze, working from a screenplay he co-wrote with Dave Eggers, created the strangest mainstream film of the year. Love it or hate it, it’s absolutely worth viewing.

10) ZOMBIELAND/THE HANGOVER. I guess this is cheating, but I liked these two for the same reason. They’re just fun. They aren’t trying to be anything more than pure, simple entertainment. And sometimes that’s what we really want. They can’t all be Up in the Air.

* I should mention that there are a few movies I haven’t seen yet that probably would have made this list. Among them are: The Hurt Locker, Big Fan, Precious, A serious Man, and A Singe Man.

Bill Hicks, Outlaw Comedian

Written by : Posted on December 7, 2009 : No Comments

Bill Hicks, Outlaw Comedian

I just came across a great clip from the late, great Bill Hicks, and had to post about it so others wouldn’t miss it. You may consider me posting this as “biting the hand that feeds.” But, for me it’s a good clip to keep the people(including myself) involved in advertising/marketing in check with their sense of morality. Sorry William, I’ve got bills to pay, hopefully someday I won’t have that as an excuse.

Bill Hicks – Marketing & Advertising

If that clip was your first experience of Bill Hicks, then you might be a little put-off by him. Below is a clip that’s a bit more inspirational. It’s Bill Hicks words from his “It’s Just a Ride” segment with a simple underlying track by the Kleptones.

Bill Hicks – Last Words (A Tribute)

“… I had a vision of a way we could have no enemies ever again, if you’re interested in this. Anybody interested in hearing this? It’s kind of an interesting theory, and all we have to do is make one decisive act and we can rid the world of all our enemies at once. Here’s what we do. You know all that money we spend on nuclear weapons and defense every year? Trillions of dollars. Instead, if we spent that money feeding and clothing the poor of the world, which it would pay for many times over, not one human being excluded… not one… we could as one race explore outer space together in peace, forever.”

It’s been said (since 2008) that a film about Hicks’ life and career is in the pre-production stage with Russell Crowe possibly playing the main role of Hicks, and is rumored that Ron Howard may be directing it. Hopefully the movie will come together at some point in the near future. There’s also an animated feature documentary coming out about Hicks, American: The Bill Hicks Story, that has been receiving praise. It’s has a UK release dated the 31st of March, 2010. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find a release date for here in the States.

Tomorrow, in a Year

Written by : Posted on October 27, 2009 : No Comments

Tomorrow in a Year

Not only is this my second post of the day, this one again has Karin Dreijer Andersson, of Fever Ray and The Knife, at the center of the topic. If you don’t know about Fever Ray or The Knife then I feel bad for you because you have been missing out on the amazing art they create. If you do know about them, then you probably know all about the Darwin Electro-Opera that Karin and brother Olof Dreijer have been working on. Tomorrow, in a Year premiered September 2nd at Hotel Pro Forma to great reviews and is currently on tour throughout Europe. Unfortunately, I can’t find any rumors or plans for the show to come to the States. I guess we’ll have to settle for the studio recording, set to be released early 2010, and hopefully a DVD (fingers-crossed). Other Musical collaborators include Mt. Sims and Planningtorock. Judging by the videos Hotel Pro Forma has posted, I think it would be absolutely spectacular to have the privilege of witnessing this performance live, and even more so in an elevated state (if you know what I’m saying).

Here is the description from Hotel Pro Forma’s website:

The world seen through the eyes of Charles Darwin forms the basis for the performance Tomorrow, in a Year. Theatre production company Hotel Pro Forma’s striking visuals blend with pop-duo The Knife’s ground-breaking music to create a new species of electro-opera.

An opera singer, a pop singer and an actor perform The Knife’s music and represent Darwin, time and nature on stage. Six dancers form the raw material of life. Together with the newest technology in light and sound, our image of the world as a place of incredible variation, similarity and unity is re-discovered.

Tomorrow, in a Year – A Darwin Electro-Opera

Colouring of Pigeons, from Tomorrow, in a Year

Tomorrow, in a Year is a performance that, with its exquisite scenic narrative technique and boldly exploratory music, shifts the positions of operatic art in a single leap… The Knife do not stick to the forms they have already mastered and their own internationally recognised sound. In Tomorrow, in a Year they actually play Darwin himself, bringing into play the entire tradition of electronic music.

With mezzo-soprano Kristina Wahlin in blinding red, standing upright with a staff in her hand as though she were guarding something holy, with a voice that reaches the heavens. It’s beautiful! Strøbech wanders, like the romanticist and scientist that he is, convincingly in Darwin’s footsteps and respectively in his shadow… The collaboration with The Knife is pure genius.

Certain frequences in the performance make the chairs at the Royal Theatre vibrate… Darwin’s world is brought to life in front of our eyes.

I am so jealous that I will likely never have the chance to experience this performance!

Night of the Vampire

Written by : Posted on October 27, 2009 : No Comments
Karin Dreijer Andersson of Fever Ray

Karin Dreijer Andersson of Fever Ray

Last night I was listening to the new Resident Advisor podcast put together by Karin Dreijer Andersson of Fever Ray and The Knife. She is by far one of the best artist for a Halloween themed mix. The mix is great, especially for background listening while working, but I wasn’t really going to write a post about it. That is until I got to the 52 minute mark and Entombed’s cover of Night of the Vampire came on. I haven’t really listened to metal for quite awhile, but when this blasted in, it broke me out of my work trance and got me head-banging. After the little jam session I knew I had to share this for others to enjoy.

Karin Dreijer Andersson – Halloween Mix

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  1. Neil Young – Guitar Solo 1
  2. Yo La Tengo – Everyday
  3. Journey To Ixtlan – Corpse On The Mesa
  4. Jad & David Fair – Nosferatu
  5. Zola Jesus – Devil Take You
  6. Bruce Haack – Mean Old Devil
  7. Krause – Duo Canopolis
  8. Burial Hex – Will To Chapel
  9. Suicide – Ghost Rider
  10. Amadou & Miriam – Ja Pense À Toi
  11. Shackleton – Death Is Not Final
  12. Entombed – Night of the Vampire
  13. Maddalena Fagandini – Interval Signals
  14. Burundi: Musiques Traditionnelles – Chant Avec Cithare

For those of you that don’t have any patience, here is the single of Night of the Vampire as covered by Entombed. The original song was written and performed by the criminally insane, but brilliant, Roky Erickson.

Entombed – Night of the Vampire

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Roky Erickson – Night of the Vampire (acoustic)

Jay-Z: Chronology of Cover Art

Written by : Posted on September 25, 2009 : 20 Comments

In order to promote Jay-Z‘s new album, The Blueprint 3, and the early release by Rhapsody, New York’s Droga5 has produced a great commercial that takes you through the life of Jay-Z’s cover art.

The first time I saw the commercial I was amazed and wanting to listen to every Jay-Z song in my library. The commercial definitely succeeded in hyping his new album, however, now that I’ve had the chance to watch the commercial a few times it’s not perfect and it left me wishing for something more. Firstly, I wish the covers were represented in chronological order. Two, it’s as if they got lazy with planning out the ending, they just fade to the cover of The Blueprint 3? What is that?! Why couldn’t they finish it in the same “on set” style as the rest of the piece? It probably wouldn’t have been too hard either, considering the cover for the new album isn’t CG (see video below). Trés, they use some pretty mediocre screen wipes in post to link the scenes together. I think with a bit more time and planning this could have been accomplished in a single take and that would have made the commercial AMAZING!

Heir to the Throne Reasonable Doubt (1996)

Photograph by Jonathan Mannion

Jay-Z - Reasonable Doubt

In My Lifetime, Vol. 1 (1997)

Photograph by Jonathan Mannion

Jay-Z - In My Lifetime, Vol. 1

Vol. 2… Hard Knock Life (1998)

Photograph by Jonathan Mannion

Jay-Z - Vol. 2... Hard Knock Life

Vol. 3… Life and Times of S. Carter (1999)

Photograph by Jonathan Mannion

Jay-Z - Vol. 3... Life and Times of S. Carter

The Dynasty: Roc La Familia (2000)

Photograph by Jonathan Mannion

Jay-Z - The Dynasty: Roc La Familia

The Blueprint (2001)

Photograph by Jonathan Mannion

Jay-Z - The Blueprint

The Blueprint ²: The Gift & the Curse (2002)

Photograph by Jonathan Mannion

Jay-Z - The Blueprint ²: The Gift & the Curse

The Black Album (2003)

Photograph by Jonathan Mannion

Jay-Z - The Black Album

Kingdom Come (2006)

Photograph by Jonathan Mannion

Jay-Z - Kingdom Come

American Gangster (2007)

Photograph by Arthur Elgort

Jay-Z - American Gangster

The Blueprint 3 (2009)

Photograph by Dan Tobin Smith

Jay-Z - The Blueprint 3

Update… On the Lack of Updates

Written by : Posted on September 16, 2009 : No Comments

This is going to be brief, but I did want to give a quick update on the things going on and why I haven’t added any new posts since the end of August.

The short answer is simply because I haven’t had the time. I’m totally swamped in freelance work right now, which financially is a great thing! Although it has some down sides (primarily with my social life), the benefits far out weigh them. Perhaps some of my contributing authors will step it up and help out in my absence over the next few weeks.

The long answer… Well… It’s too long for me to spend the time typing out right now.

Watch for some new great things to be released over the next couple months! Here are some hints:

  • Sticky Animal Love
  • Softness On Your Skin
  • Something Fitted
  • Take Some Weight Off
  • No Longer Bare

If you’re really that bored (**cough* Brian Hale *cough**), then go join Digg, they have tons of great content that’s updated all the time. Or if you’re needing new music, I highly suggestion listening to the CocoRosie or Crystal Castles stations over on Pandora.

I’ll be nice and not leave you completely empty handed. Here is some of the music that has been getting me through.

J. Howells Werthman – Biking Home on the Tail End of Something Good

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Jenny Wilson – Would I Play With My Band?

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CocoRosie – Noah’s Ark

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Kasabian – Where Did All the Love Go?

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Jenny Wilson – Let My Shoes Lead Me Forever (Joachime Remix)

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Jay-Z – Young Forever (featuring Mr. Hudson)

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Sandbox Films’ Shine On Teaser

Written by : Posted on August 27, 2009 : No Comments

With two award winning titles, Flavor Country and Time Well Wasted, already under their belts, Sandbox Films has nothing to prove. But that doesn’t stop them from continuing to prove their one of the best in the game every season. Say what you will about Canadians, but Whistler is by far one of the best snow towns I have ever been to and I’m pretty jealous that it’s Sandbox’s daily backyard playground. Unfortunately this last season many ski areas suffered poor snow conditions, and Whistler wasn’t an exception. Sandbox also had to deal with quite a few injuries to their riders.

Andrew took a bad slam at a park session with Snowboarder Mag. They built a massive jump with a sketchy inrun. Andrew got tossed off the take off and came down hard on his side. His femur bone shot up and shattered his pelvis and his arm broke really bad.

Sounds like they had an unluckily season. Judging by the trailer though, it appears that Sandbox has still been able to make the best of it and put together a quality film.

Bonus Material! 30 Seconds in a Heli

Movement: Tech Soup & E-Waste

Written by : Posted on August 25, 2009 : No Comments

After seeing this video last week of Iced-T destroying his his Mac Book Pro because the screen quite working, I thought I would give everyone some options to actually do something useful with their old or slightly broken computer equipment by donating it to help others.

If you have a computer that is less then five years old, chances are that it can be put to good use by someone else. Rather than donate equipment directly to a charity or school, however, it is usually best for all involved if you can send it to a refurbisher, especially if you need to wipe your hard drive or are uncertain about the computer’s condition. Refurbishers will ensure that equipment they send to nonprofits and schools works well and runs legal copies of software, and that any e-waste is disposed of properly. The best service I have found for donating your computer gear is TechSoup Stock. TechSoup Stock is an online product donation service that connects nonprofits with technology product donations from more than twenty-five leading corporate and nonprofit technology partners. TechSoup Stock is a nonprofit serving nonprofits. Their low fees have saved over 50,000 nonprofits approximately $400 million, a savings they can redirect into their programs. According to the EPA’s Plug in to eCycling program, only 15-20% of retired personal computers, TVs, cell phones and other electronic devices are being recycled in the United States. Every computer dumped into a landfill represents a missed opportunity to provide Information-Age tools to individuals and organizations in need of helping to bridge the digital gap. So before you go off and try to act like a bad ass because you can break a laptop with a hammer, I’d urge you to do some good, not just for the environment, but also for others in need.

In order to make computer donation and refurbishing less of a burden than gift for the non-profits, here are ten tips for donating your computer hardware:

  • Determine if your old computer can actually be reused.
  • Recycle hardware that is too old and/or broken.
  • Contact the refurbisher or recycler before donating.
  • Remember the accessories.
  • If possible, keep the operating system intact.
  • Provide the original software media and documentation if available.
  • Use secure disk-cleaning software to clear your computer of personal information.
  • Make sure and follow computer donation center’s delivery instructions.
  • Keep a list of what you donated for your records.
  • Plan for future donations.
Find a Donation Center for your Personal Home Computer
Find More Information on Corporate Donation
Computer Not Worth Donating? Please Recycle It!

555 KUBIK – Galerie der Gegenwart

Written by : Posted on August 24, 2009 : No Comments

Over the past couple years I’ve been seeing more and more projected videos on buildings. Created by Urban Screen, this one is by far the best I have seen. The way the architecture of the building is incorporated with the 3D animations makes the building come alive.

The art direction was done by Daniel Rossa out of Germany. He’s got a nice collection of work in his portfolio that includes some great looking posters as well as other wall projections.

Manifest 01 by Daniel Rossa

Manifest 01 by Daniel Rossa

Manifest 02 by Daniel Rossa

Manifest 02 by Daniel Rossa

Manifest 03 by Daniel Rossa

Manifest 03 by Daniel Rossa

Manifest by Daniel Rossa

Manifest by Daniel Rossa