Wednesday, December 2, 2009

CD Review: Animal Collective, Fall Be Kind [EP]

Animal Collective Fall Be Kind [EP]

***.5/***** (three and a half out of five!)

Brooklyn based transient indie band Animal Collective has been criticized for being an obscure, overrated object of hipster worship.

Although the above judgments may be true, it is undeniable that these guys produce a constant stream of music that is consistently improving. I honestly can’t decide if the collective’s newest release, a twenty minute five song EP titled Fall Be Kind, has followed the pattern of its progressive past.

Although it’s true that any new Animal Collective usually takes more than one listen to fully appreciate and obsess over, I was sold on Merriweather Post Pavillion after the first listen to “My Girls”.

The standout track on the EP would obviously be the woodwind powered “What Would I Want? Sky”, though I personally appreciate the eerie second to last track, “On a Highway”. Panda Bear’s vocals melt over the synths resulting in a constant build up in a track that never lets down, although the result is serenity rather than frustration!

I don’t know…the whole compilation is a lot less trancedance than Merriweather, it’s kind of a sneak preview to a Strawberry Jam throwback, and I can’t decide if I like this direction or not…

Also, I can't quite figure out if the cover art depicts a blurry grim reaper or something embryonic...

I think I can I think I can I think I. (fifth track)

Check out What Would I Want? Sky Here.

While you're at it, check out Atlas Sound+Panda Bear's new song here.

--Bri LaPelusa

Tuesday, December 1, 2009

Ain't Megalomania Grand?

In a Medium two weeks ago, I discussed why Comcast's potential purchase of NBC Universal was a decent business move with horrible repercussions for viewers, namely those of us who like our content free and online. Well, I just read on The Huffington Post that the wheels have been put in motion for this deal to come to fruition. Rather than bitch and moan, I'm going to click over to Hulu and enjoy some free episodes of "Glee" while I can. But before I do, in case you're a confused TV viewer wondering why NBC Universal, Comcast, GE and Vivendi have anything to do with you, I found this gem from "Saturday Night Live," a legendary NBC product (excuse me, program), written by comedy genius Robert Smigel (known to many as the voice of Triumph the Insult Comic Dog), to detail why big corporation owning huge chunks of the media is a troublesome development. And before you dismiss it, know that NBC only aired the cartoon once and it has been scrubbed from reruns on "E!" and "Comedy Central" (owned by Comcast and Viacom, respectively).

Media-opoly seems to be Comcast's new favorite board game, yes?

--Meryn, who is actually afraid she's going to wake up with the NBC peacock's bloody head in her bed.

Friday, November 20, 2009

2 Cents To Play: Submitted Via Xbox Live

If you've been reading your friends Facebook updates or Tweets as of late, you may have noticed some were submitted "via Xbox Live." This is because the nations Xbox's got there biggest update since Micro$oft changed the menu interface. In this update, Xbox Live members can now use streamlined versions of Facebook, Twitter, and Last.FM (similar to Pandora) from their TV's.

I was skeptical about all this at first. Why would anyone use facebook on their Xbox when they can't chat, send private messages, write on peoples wall or play those stupid games? There are a couple of positives in this intergration. The first being you can view all your pictures in a slideshow on your TV which is awesome especially if you're rocking the flat panel. The other major benefit is you can now find your facebook friends who are also on Xbox Live which is great because very few xbox users can admit their friends list is compiled of all their real life friends.

Microsoft has also said users will be able to challenge their friends via facebook and post high scores. Being able to challenge my friend to shoot a 4 on the 5th at Spyglass in Tiger Woods has a lot of cool potential in a Jet Man sort of way.

Unfortunately I don't know if this will work to its fullest potential. I've already gotten some grief for updating my status on my Xbox. Im assuming gamers aren't going to "come out," so to speak, and admit they are avid online gamers. Are girls going to see this and be turned off by that cute kid from their class because he said put his thoughts on last nights "30 Rock" through their Xbox? I hope not as this update is intended to draw the casual social networking crowd to Microsoft's console but there will always be haters. We just have to keep our thumbs down.

- by Tyler Lyon
Xbox Live: Docholliday8706

Monday, November 16, 2009

Patriotic Partying (in the USA!)

It's a party in the USA!

The patriotic chorus blared through the speakers of literally every single bar I entered on a recent crawl across Iowa City’s finest drinking/dancing establishments—it was inescapable.

But the thing is, I didn’t want to escape it.

I froze in the midst of some serious Cabbage Patching the first time I heard it—since when does Miley Cyrus follow immediately after Akon’s “Sexy Bitch” on a DJ set?

My auditory confusion was settled as I became reassured by the lyrics.

“I put my hands up they’re playin’ song and I know it’s gonna be okay/noddin’ my head like yeah/movin’ my hips like yeah”

I’m an admitted music snob who regularly and unapologetically indulges in (worthy) Top 40 tracks. I love pop music—good pop music (See: Lady GaGa, Devo, Beyonce), though I articulately detest the majority of “musical” slime congesting our radio airwaves (See: Miley Cyrus, Jonas Brothers).


The first time I heard it I thought, “Well, I suppose this has the potential to fall into the mock-able realm of guilty pleasures” My receptive feelings became more justified the second time around, “I mean, this could definitely be ironic enough to be cool…” And then, in an ephiphanic moment, everything made sense. I put my hands up in the realization that, yea-a-a-a-aa-aaaah—it’s a party in the USA.

By the third or fourth play I was sold, “THIS SONG IS PURELY FUCKIN’ AWESOME!”

Any feelings of guilt melded into pure, unabashed pleasure after that magical night of patriotic partying.

As my newly enlightened life went on, I heard the song blasting from the balconies of frat bros' apartment complexes (more than once), pouring from the speakers at hipster house parties, and in Subway.

I discovered the nationally linking element of Miley Cyrus’ masterpiece: partying and America. If neither of those pastimes rings true, you’re definitely not American, you don’t belong here, and Jay Z hates you.

Check out the (epic) music vid featuring gigantic American flag, swing cage (?), and plenty of “hometown girls”!

-By Bri LaPelusa

Friday, November 13, 2009

2 Cents to Play: Call of Duty Controversy

****While we already had an excellent post on Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, or as I affectionately call it "COD", it is set to be the biggest entertainment release ever.. There is a specific part of the game that warrants discussion. I'll let you know where the spoilers start.****

Like seemingly every other red-blooded American male, I stood in line to get the newest COD game. When I got home and booted up the campaign to see what the story offered. I was alerted with a message saying that some missions might be offensive and I had the option to skip them.

These types of parental guard are now common place in most "M" Rated (17 and up) games. Assassin's Creed gave gamers and their parents the option to turn of blood. The recent Brutal Legend demo (and I'm guessing the game) gave the option to do the same as well as bleep all F-words. As a 22 year-old I dismissed the menu. Bring it on. Then I ran into this little mission early into the game.

***Spoilers Begin Now BTW***

Anyone who's played the COD series knows each game is about immersion. Breaks between missions only exist to load the next level and any cut scene usually puts the player in someones shoes like in the mind blowing intro to the last game.

The "No Russian" mission in the latest COD game is the best example why violent games use to (and still do to some extent) garner so much controversy. It's all about engulfment - the player taking on the mentality of a character - that scared cable news pundits when the old Grand Theft Auto games came out. No one wants to think their kids have some taboo desire to be a criminal or terrorists but it's fine if they're Allied Soldiers or Athletes.

Game companies always point to their games rating and some of the aforementioned in game options. Popular Chains have now even begun to respect the ratings and the controversy has appeared to die down. However its just like getting booze, all you need is an older friend - sometimes a stranger will do.

If you want to try (and likely succeed) at beating the DI Video Game Guy on Xbox Live Ill be around: Docholliday8706

Playing Now: Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2, Grand Theft Auto: The Ballad of Gay Tony, NHL 10

Wish I Was Playing: Red Dead Redemption, Mass Effect 2

-By Tyler Lyon

Wednesday, November 11, 2009


[before I begin this column, let me warn readers that this contains spoilers about the season three finale of AMC’s beloved show, Mad Men. If you haven’t seen the show, well, get with it, because it’s awesome.]

Oh Don Draper, you clever son of a bitch.

“You could fire us, and we could start our own agency!”

Jesus Christ. Who saw that coming? I know I didn’t. Don Draper again amazed me with his ability to not only surprise everyone, but not really care how much he hurts his friends/family/acquaintances.

The episode starts with Don getting STFU’d by Conrad Hilton, the owner and manager of Hilton Hotels (a multi-million dollar account for Sterling Cooper). I don’t know about others, but since the beginning of Don and Conrad’s relationship, I just *knew* something was going to go wrong. They got way too close, way too fast. Conrad was calling Don his “son” and Don was actually connecting to a human being! That never happens. So, naturally, it had to end sometime. And it did. And it set Don off — on a rampage.

Conrad tells Don that Sterling Cooper is being sold to some other company, which is why Conrad has to pull Hilton Hotels. This is the first Don heard, so he gets super pissed. That leads to their fallout not only in business, but as friends. But, something happens inside of Don at this moment. He recognizes that his life is no longer in control, and he wants to do something about it.

So the episode goes on, and he convinces all the big dogs at Sterling Cooper that they need to secede and create their own agency. And they do that. Honestly, I never thought I would be so enthralled with a show about middle aged men in advertising. The power and magic of television is amazing.

But now instead of continuing to blab about the episode, I want to ask you a question. Is this a good idea?

Immediately, I want to say yes. Now the core group from Sterling Cooper has complete control over all of their creative output. Naturally, you would thing the guys who built a powerhouse agency would know how to do it again, and this time do it better, right? But I don’t know. I think the main issue is Don.

The main catalyst for this new venture was his fallout with Conrad. Now, even though Don might be saying that he “wants to do something” with his life, I still think he’s being moody. Maybe I’m pessimistic, but I just don’t see Don changing his ways. As soon as next season starts, he’s going to want to do something else. Again, he’s using the people in his life, simply for what he wants.

Regardless of all those feelings though — it was pretty badass how the Americans totally screwed the British. Happy Veteran’s Day!

-Eric S.

Tuesday, November 10, 2009

COD: Modern Warfare 2 Release

I thought I would never wait in line for a midnight release of anything. Many consumers fancy they wouldn't. But last night, the release of "Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2", called my name.
Having heard just about every male around talk about how sweet the game is supposed to be for the past few weeks, I decided to go. Why not? The fact that so many people were interested in something completely foreign to me spiked my curiosity.
It was a cool, crisp night. The thermostat on my car said 53 degrees Farenheit, but it felt much colder with the unseasonably warm daytime temperatures Iowa City has been experiencing the last few days.
My tour around local venues hosting midnight release "parties" began at roughly 10:15 p.m. First stop: Gamers in the Old Capitol Town Center, 201 S. Clinton. About 25 young men sat, stood, or leaned against the exterior wall of the Old Capitol Mall; it was a typical scene of what I expected to see.
10:45 p.m.- Video Games Etc. on the Coralville Strip next to Hy-Vee. Much the same scene as what I had experienced at Gamers. However, some of these lads had been smart enough to bring lawn chairs. As I drove by, many of them smiled and waved.
Driving down the Coralville strip with its prematurely cheery Christmas lights blazing on the trees to either side of me, it was like the tunnel to heaven. The few businesses still open were fast-food joints and 24-hour stores, and small bars.
10:55 p.m.- I arrive at the Coral Ridge Mall. Unbeknownst to me, Game Stop inside of the mall is open for business. Following a couple of over-excited teenagers through the automatic doors, I spot the back of a 150-or-so person line outside of the store; They are waiting for pre-ordered copies of the game.
Two Great American Cookie employees sit at a table near the front of the line with boxes of free cookies for the multitude of anxious gamers.
"We didn't really plan on handing out free cookies," says Jessica Brierton, 20, a cheerful Kirkwood student. "But we saw people waiting in line at like 9 and offered the cookies."
The mood is generally upbeat, which can probably be attributed to the combination of free cookies and impending hours upon hours of XBox action.
"It's interesting how many people showed up so early," Brierton says. "And they seem to be really bonding about it. Everyone's in a good mood."
Right on cue, the merry mall security supervisor for the swing shift, David Sloan, walks up to grab a cookie.
"We are not so much here for security purposes," Sloan says. "The store just asked us to be here for crowd control. They weren't sure how many people were going to be here."
Sloan, whose shift normally goes from 3-11 p.m., is expecting to be there until at least 1:00 Tuesday morning. And who knows? It could be longer depending on the crowd.
But he loves his job and is proud of what he does. He does not consider himself a police officer, but more of a helping hand for mall patrons, with some of the public safety responsibilities that police do have.
"I like to think of the mall as a town within the town of Coralville," he says, standing a little taller.
11:15 p.m.- Best Buy outside the Coral Ridge Mall. About 40 people are waiting outside, but the line grows leaps and bounds every 10 minutes or so.
The mood is increasingly excited. Groups of game enthusiasts discuss everything from South Park to the perils of buying a Mac to how "fucking awesome!" Call of Duty is. Two college-aged gentlemen with jobs discuss their strategies for surviving the wait.
"Dude, I had like three Red Bulls at work today," says one.
I can't help but notice that the only passing vehicles on the visible stretch of highway in front of the mall are semis, yet the parking lot is nearly one-third full with cars. Groups of guys race into the parking lot.
"Nerds! You're all insane!" says one driver as he races by in his old red Toyota Camry, which he promptly parks and exits to make a mad dash into the mall.
Some of these guys know that they might be seen as just that for waiting hours outside a story to buy a video game, but they are willing to take that risk.
Twenty-year-old Andy McBride got to Best Buy at 8:00 for the midnight opening. He managed to claim the coveted front-of-the-line position.
"This game is the greatest sequel ever," he says of Call of Duty: Modern Warfare 2. "I'm most excited for multiplayer."
McBride says that he spends about 20-hours a week on video games. "I probably sound like a huge nerd right now," he says. "[But] I hope to have the game beat by tonight."
11:55 p.m.- Best Buy's manager emerges from the double doors. The crowd is noticeably and increasingly roused. She explains the orderly procedure for claiming the game.
"There are 150 pre-ordered copies," she says. "This is the longest line I've ever seen, but there are about 570 copies to buy, so everyone will be helped."
The crowd buzzes. Sitters rise. The line contracts.
"MIDNIGHT!" Shouts one overly-enthusiastic buyer.
The doors open. Inside sits a table with all 5 editions of the new game, specialized Modern Warfare 2 controllers, Prestige edition night vision goggles, "Limited edition!" Xbox 360s, strategy guides, subscriptions for Xbox Live, universal gaming headsets.... And everyone's eating it up.
But the best part is the look of relief on the faces of those who have been anxiously awaiting this video game. It's as if they have that one thing they've been waiting for.
And now, energy drinks in hand, they will proceed to play through the night.

Sunday, November 1, 2009

Deflowering the Rocky Horror Virgins

I will always always wonder what ever happened to Saturday night.
On Halloween at midnight, The Englert Theater showed the pop culture classic Rocky Horror Picture Show complete with tight leather, scantily clad sweet transvestites, and audience partic- (say it!) - pation.
As a "Rocky Horror Virgin", I was new to why such an awful movie with rambling plot lines has such a cult following. But regardless, I wanted to see what it was all about. Entering the theater, there was a certain energy that shifted from the drunken downtown streets into an exaggerated, loose-lipped, flagrant atmosphere of the lobby in The Englert Theater. I made it through the theater door, grabbed my prop bag, and receive the infamous "v" for virgin on my forehead.
Audience members' costumes varied among creative costumes such as peacocks and fortune tellers to emulating the costumed characters in the movie. Dr. Frankenfurter was reincarnated by tight, black corsets, and those mimicking the stylings of Rocky stripped down to a single pair of golden briefs.
As the time neared midnight, even organizers dressed in character clothing rounded up all of the "virgins" to the front of the stage for the ritual hazing. Packed closely with others, we were instructed to do pelvic thrusts; therefore, we lost our Rocky Horror Picture Show virginity. After this, we were allowed back to our seats for the movie to begin.
The infamous pair of blood red lips appeared on the screen and began a movie showing where I saw, felt, and screamed. I never thought I would be viewing a movie where it was okay, and even encouraged, to scream profanities at the movie screen. Not only this, but audience members also pelted pieces of stale toast and playing cards. The pelting had its risks for I was in seating close to the front and was hit by toast shrapnel. We were also given newspaper to cover our heads to fend off the rain that was pouring down in one of the scenes.
The movie, absent of all audience participation and heckling, is really quite terrible. At times I would neglect to shout or throw objects and actually pay attention to the movie. That was a bad idea.
But one thing is for sure - I will be doing the Time Warp agaaaiiiinnnn...

-Hanna Rosman

“Clears Eyes, Full Hearts. Can’t lose.”

The fall brings two of my favorite past times to the fore front: Football and the fall TV season. While many viewers are going to work at a northeast paper company, grabbing a pint at their favorite Philly bar, or singing infectious pop songs with their hip Spanish teacher a select few are putting on their shoulder pads to enjoy the drama under the Friday Night Lights and every night in between.

The reason I use the words “select few” is because the fourth season of the once hit show is back on DirectTV channel 101. Unfortunately for myself and all the others in Panther (or should I say Lion) nation, we don’t have the satellite service and are left in the dark until spring, when the season airs on NBC.

However, fans have no reason to complain; in fact they should rejoice and praise DirecTV for taking a chance on one of the best shows on TV. After a lackluster second season, there was no reason for either the satellite provider or NBC to pick up a third season. And while last season was strong and harkened back to season one – one of the best seasons of any show ever – DirecTV picked up not one but two more seasons!

Like many Friday Night fanatics I had to find an alternative means to see last Wednesday’s premiere and while I know this means I will be one less viewer come spring, my excitement consumed me as this last season lived up to my expectations ten-fold.

To state the obvious, Coach Eric Taylor is a stallion. Any self-respecting guy is lucky to grow up to be half the man he is. He takes anything that comes his way and meets it head on and is the perfect lead character to have in case a show needs to shake up its formula. The same can be said of Tami Taylor (Connie Britton). Her quick tongue and Coach’s stubborn will make for TV’s best couple. Period.

It’s a true testament the actors and the writing that a show is able to stay fresh for so long. Sure season two's infamous rape plotline went on longer than it should have but other than that, the show remains strong even with character’s graduating from Dillion High and this season is the best example of that.

While I don’t want to give anything away for those waiting for the NBC season, the lines in Dillion, Texas have been clearly drawn and I can’t wait to see where they lead.

-by Tyler Lyon

Monday, October 5, 2009

The World's Most Dangerous Man?

I love David Letterman. I'm not even going to pretend to be impartial. I could give you a "Top Ten List' of my favorite Letterman moments from "Late Night," and give you another one just for the "Late Show." I can tell you all about his morning show, his time as a weatherman (and why he got fired: for forecasting hail the size of "canned hams") and even about his time as Leno's stand-up compatriot. So make no mistakes, folks, I know my shit.

So of course I'm going to weigh in on Dave's current personal problems. I've always been much more fascinated by Letterman the man than Letterman the comic. A humor heavyweight he certainly is, and one who is a true iconoclast, though his insecurity and self-doubt would cause him to chide anyone who told him so, but Dave is a fascinating character.

He's also, apparently, a philanderer.

But I don't want to talk about that. Frankly, it's none of my business. I do love Dave, but I'm not in love with Dave. He's not my boyfriend or my husband and he doesn't owe me an apology (though apparently he made one to his wife, and subsequently all of us). Don McLeese once told me to trust the art and not the artist. He's right.

But I want to talk about sex.

On a lot of the feminist blogs, ones I read because I consider myself a soldier in the Feminist Corps, one question is being raised: Did David Letterman, in having his affairs, practice sexual harassment?

Yeah, I'm still trying to wrap my head around that too.

What happened between Letterman and the women in his workplace? Is he, as he put it, a practitioner of "creepy?" In the interest of full disclosure, I've always found David Letterman hopelessly attractive. There's something about a charming and witty curmudgeon that women with low self-esteem can't bypass, at least says this glutton for punishment. There's something irresistible about iconoclasts.

So did Letterman pull rank by imposing his winking wit on young female staffers? Or is he just a flirtatious guy at the center of some office scuttlebutt? I DON'T KNOW. And that seems to be the one phrase no one wants to say. So many people are so sure that people in power positions should never engage in workplace relationships, because of the inherent harassment involved. There's definitely truth to that.

If I worked for David Letterman and he flirted with me, put me on TV and offered to pay my law school tuition , I'd probably feel obligated and would certainly be more likely to date him. But you know what? If I worked for David Letterman and he told me I was bad at my job, didn't laugh at my jokes, or ignored me, I'd probably still want to date him. I'm weak. But more importantly, I find him attractive, even if there are things about him I don't find attractive. Likewise, people are often attracted to people for reasons having nothing to do with logic and those reasons often violate rules (perhaps you lust for someone who is married, or someone you're friends with, or maybe you have a crush on a Libertarian, something truly verboten like that).

I think a lot of women find David Letterman sexy, and Letterman has somewhat of a lecherous past himself. But do I think he harassed these women by sleeping with them? No. Do I think he abused his power? No. If he did, the act wasn't any more abusive than when he began relationships with his wife Regina Lasko (a former "Late Night" employee when Letterman was the show's host) or longtime girlfriend Merrill Markoe, who served as head writer for "Late Night" and producer for Letterman's failed morning show (though Markoe and Letterman began dating before he hired her).

David Letterman is always going to be David Letterman. Whether or not women work for him, almost all of them will see him as host of the "Late Show." Celebrity is influence, so any relationship with a non-celebrity or a poor person, or a less-popular person could be termed technical "harassment." I'm not dismissing the balance of power. I'm also not excluding the possibility that Dave acted inappropriately. But to state decisively, as one blog did, that Letterman's affairs were an abuse of power, imply omniscience and also betray truth. Yes, office relationships between supervisors and subordinates create disparity and discomfort for those in the workplace, even in the best of circumstances (i.e. consensual affairs) but to say that Letterman was wholly out of bounds suggests that in almost no circumstance could he ever have guilt free sex. His marriage is out of bounds. It seems, according to this logic, the only person Letterman could fuck and get away with it is Jay Leno (in that case, it'd be more payback than anything else).

It reminds me of something cartoonist Cathy Guisewite said. She was a guest on one of the last episodes of "The Tonight Show with Johnny Carson" and told the host he couldn't retire, because he would be dumping his legions of female fans who go to bed with him every night.


Maybe Letterman's transgressions cut closer to a lot of women because they've been harassed in the workplace. Women do have to work harder, we do have to prove we aren't sleeping our ways to the top, and sometimes that means not engaging in consensual relationships with colleagues. And maybe we just don't want to believe Mr. Top Ten List is like every sleazy boss we've had or every witty hornball we've shared cubicle walls with.

I don't know if Letterman's mistresses/girlfriends/employees are victims. Victimhood is largely in the eye of the beholder. But Letterman, let's not forget, is surely a victim. He's undergoing a public vivisection at the hands of an extortionist.

Maybe Dave is just guilty of a stupid human trick: dipping his pen in the company ink. It hardly makes him Clarence Thomas.

-Meryn, who idolizes Merrill Markoe and hopes to one day receive the GE corporate "handshake."

Friday, September 25, 2009

At the Bijou this week, cinema is truth twenty-four times a second

The French New Wave is in rare form this week at the Bijou. Hitting the silver screen are the previously unavailable Jean-Luc Godard films, *Made in U.S.A* and *Two or Three Things I Know About Her* as a double feature. *Made in U.S.A.* was loosely adapted from a Donald E. Westlake book, *The Jugger*, and because neither Godard nor his producers paid for the rights, the film only recently became accessible in the United States.

Jean-Luc Godard is most closely associated with the cinematic movement entitled the French New Wave. Godard is known as a prolific French filmmaker who infused his love of the cinema and his political leanings into all of his films. While he is credited with being a dissenter in relation to the classic filmmaking style of Golden Hollywood, he often makes reference to American films.

*Made in U.S.A.’s* Paula Nelson, played by Godard’s ex-wife Anna Karina, has been described as the female Humphrey Bogart circa *The Big Sleep*. Paula plays the gum shoe detective after discovering that her lover, Richard P…(we are unsure of his last name, as it is constantly smothered by ringing phones and car horns) has been murdered. The film is set in a French suburb named Atlantic City and the story unfurls amid reference to massive political events, such as the Kennedy assassination and the ‘disappearance’ of Ben Barka.

The narrative becomes almost illegible and is colored by characters named Inspector Aldrich, Richard Nixon and Robert McNamara, some of who sport bathrobes and “Kiss Me, I’m Italian” buttons. The violence is cartoonish. However, the narrative at the center of this film is not of much importance, rather what exists in the periphery.

*Made in U.S.A.* is a criticism on truth. We see his characters as caricatures but they feel they are accurately representing themselves. It comments on violence in 1950 Hollywood cinema. We are constantly aware that we are sitting in a theater, watching a film. It remarks on the political left’s inability to communicate. In classic Godard fashion, this is much more than a film.

*Two or Three Things I know About Her* is a remarkably appropriate film considering the economic mess this country is in at present. Though it was filmed in 1966, simultaneously with *Made in U.S.A.*, *Two or Three Things…* comments on western society’s adherence to consumerism.

The film centers on two “hers.” We follow a day in the life of Juliette Janson (Marina Vlady), a suburban housewife in her thirties. She is consumed by the need for things and routinely works as a prostitute to pay for her upper middle class lifestyle. Godard also looks at the changing landscape of Paris, our second “her.” He blames Janson’s capitalist environment for her situation.

At one point Jason describes her condition, “You go on using gas and water and electricity without giving a thought to the end of the month when the bills have to be paid… Either it is no money to pay the rent or no telly. Or else we keep the telly but no car. Or a washing machine but no holiday. Therefore in no way a normal life.”

*Two or Three Things…* focuses on the lengths people will go to for an unnecessarily high standard of living, propagated by the government at the American dream. Janson has “no hesitation between the wish and its fulfillment.” Our current situation in the U.S. echoes the sentiments of this film.

Politics and social comment abound in the double feature this week at the Bijou

- Greta H.R.

Sunday, September 20, 2009

2 Cents To Play #5: Sports Games and Male Bonding

My earliest video game memory comes from when I found an old Intellivision in my grandparents basement. Despite its archaic graphics, I was able to convince my parents to let me take it home with us. There were only two games left with the system; a space invaders rip-off and a baseball game. The latter of which lived in the system. My dad and I spent hours in our den adding to the bitter rivalry between the Red Team and the Blue Team. It became more about the bonding experience than anything else.

Sports and video games are a perfect marriage. Both feature competition and add to the traditional gamer demographic – the adolescent male. Furthermore, they allow sports fans to live out fantasies beyond their skill level which makes it a no brainer that the Madden series is not only the most popular sports game series but also one of the most popular franchises period. If you don't believe me check out this brilliant piece of marketing:

Link: Madden 08 'Field Generals' TV Ad

It's amazing these games cause players to look past any socio-economic differences. Unfortunately, other sports games get left under the radar, namely EA Sports’ NHL series. Some of this is due to Hockey’s status as one of the least popular sports in the U.S., behind only soccer. However, there isn’t one gamer over 18 who doesn’t have fond memories of late night marathon sessions of NHL ’94-’97. The series is a staple in guy culture, it’s even made appearances in male oriented comedies like Chasing Amy, Mallrats, Swingers.

Last year’s NHL 09 is one of, if not the, best sports game ever made. It is the one game I can say I played with my roommates from the its release last year, to last Monday night, less than 8 before the 2010 version came out. This is just subjective experience either. The game garnered twelve “Sports Game of the Year” awards, according the NHL 10 box; a feat any current generation Madden entry has yet to accomplish.

What’s more is these games are a great way to introduce gamers to sports they wouldn’t seek out otherwise. During the 2006 World Cup, my friends and I started playing FIFA World Cup 2006. We then followed the real life tournament with more interest as we knew at least one player from all the major countries. On the same note, I wouldn’t be able to name more than two Chicago Blackhawks if it wasn’t for NHL 10.

If football wasn’t as popular as it is, the Madden series wouldn’t be the pop culture phenomenon that it is. Football games make for a slower experience than hockey, and if you’ve ever gone back to a Madden entry on the Sega Genesis or Super Nintendo, you’ll see what I mean. On the other hand, any NHL game from the same era still holds up as well today as it did upon its release.

As the new Madden 10 faces less than spectacular sales, gamers are clearly looking for new sports to fix the twitch in their thumbs.

-Tyler Lyon

P.S. if you haven’t seen Game 6 of the 1986 World Series on RBI Baseball you need to check it out:

Tuesday, September 15, 2009

Pete Yorn & Scarlett Johannsson Break Up Review

Break Up
Pete Yorn & Scarlett Johansson

For those wondering what happened to the Pete Yorn from his debut album, Musicforthemorningafter, take a listen to his new album Break Up which he recorded with Scarlett Johansson back in 2006. While the title suggests the two are singing about a failed relationship, the majority of the songs are filled with the pop hooks that made him one of the top up and coming artists back in 2001.

The album sets its tone with the opening track, “Relator,” which opens with Yorn on the guitar, and some horns for good measure. It’s a simple song and will be on adult contemporary stations in no time.

However, it’s in the song “Blackie’s Dead,” where echos of Yorns first album are most evident. The song has the perfect combination Yorn’s voice with his skills on the acoustic guitar that made 2001's “For Nancy (Cos It Already Is),” so damn infectious.

People looking for something to showcase any of Johansson’s vocal talents will be disappointed as she serves as back-up for a large part of the album. This is reversed in a psuedo acoustic cover of Chris Bell’s “I am the Cosmos.” This is the best of the tracks which Johannson is the lead singer on and which is due to source material.

Johannson isn’t a terrible singer by any means and her deep voice certainly can sustain the album but most of her songs (with the exception of “Cosmos”) are the records low points.
It’s great to see Yorn hasn’t forgotten the pop sensibilities that fans have been asking for ever since his songs became much more moody, hopefully he will stick around longer this time.

Tyler’s Picks: “Relator,” “Blackie’s Dead,” “Wear and Tear,” "I Am the Cosmos"
— by Tyler Lyon

Monday, September 14, 2009

Don't Call It a Comeback...

In my quest to become the de facto (or default) Arts staff late-night critic, I'm here to live blog what should be an interesting night in primetime/late-night television. Let's strap in for some crit, wit and maybe a little bullshit courtesy of "The Jay Leno Show."

9:01 p.m. The theme song sounds the same as the Jay's "Tonight Show" theme. Maybe it's because the band members haven't changed.

9:02 p.m. Well, judging by the Obama/Kanye/Taylor Swift "root beer" summit joke, Jay's humor is still the same.

9:05 p.m. Oh, look, something visual. Jay knows he's not trying to reach a new audience. And certainly not a more erudite audience.

9:07 p.m. Jay's talking about an unscripted show he did that he's embarrassed about. Jay, don't be so hard on yourself, sometimes "The Tonight Show" was OK.

9:09 p.m. I know it's only the first commercial break, but for as different as Jay Leno promised his new show would be in his unbearable Bataan Death March of a press blitz, it seems like more of the same. Nothing wrong with that, because let's be honest, NBC hasn't taken chances in years. Plus, they didn't hire Leno to do something different.

9:12 p.m. I don't get why Jay is pretending the show is going to be a departure from "The Tonight Show." Probably because his core audience is naive enough to believe him. Sorry, people over 60, that crack was rude. Put your teeth back in and tell me.

9:14 p.m. Dan Finnerty and The Dan Band are a welcome addition to this episode. I want the Dan Band to play my wedding, Old School-style. Provided they all live to see the next century, and provided live music is still a viable means of entertainment.

9:14 p.m. You've earned a break. Check this out:

9:16 p.m. I just noticed the screen bug in the bottom left corner. Seriously Jay? Who's the programming wizard who came up with that? As if the peacock is too threatening at this hour, or too much of a reminder of "The Tonight Show."

9:17 p.m. I appreciate the effort, but this bit is dragging. No love lost for Dan though. Still think he's awesome.

9:19 p.m. If I didn't love him enough, I just found out another reason why Dan Finnerty rocks: He's married to Kathy Najimy. SWEET. Wait, why am I thinking about him when it's Jay's debut? Ah, a diversion. Pretty sneaky, sis.

9:23 p.m Jerry will make this worth it. He's never led me astray. Well, except for with Michael Richards, but that's not even Jerry's fault.

9:24 p.m. Jerry just called Jay and Conan out for their faux-farewells. And in doing so proves why he's comedy's gold standard.

9:26 p.m Jay couldn't get Oprah on the show? Because her heart belongs to David Letterman. And so does mine.

9:26 p.m. And then Oprah showed up. Traitor.

9:27 p.m. My love for Oprah is no secret, but the Jay Leno timeslot jokes are already wearing as thin as Kate Gosselin's patience. SERIOUSLY.

9:28 p.m. Watching this show makes me feel like a kid at a bad magic show: I see the false-bottom in the trunk. I see the strings and your lips are moving while the dummy talks. Stop trying to fool me with the missing desk and the single guest and the new set, I KNOW I'M WATCHING "THE TONIGHT SHOW." And I'm guessing everyone else does too. It's like if Megan Fox played the same character in every movie but tried to tell audiences the films were different...sorry, bad example.

9:32 p.m. The This Is It trailer is the most entertaining part of "The Jay Leno Show" experience.

9:37 p.m. A mock Obama interview. More of that signature "Tonight Show" comedy. Pay no attention to the bland behind the curtain, Dorothy.

9:38 p.m. I wish this was Conan and he was doing the Clutch Cargo lips routine. Take a look:

9:39 p.m. I guess I should come clean with this tidbit: I never worshipped Jay Leno or his "Tonight Show." That's probably why I'm not enjoying the primetime incarnation.

9:41 p.m. Kanye, Rihanna and Jay-Z can't appear soon enough. This should tide us over:

9:42 p.m. NBC just hyped late night, with explicit references to it as a different entity and Conan's "Tonight Show." Wise move.

9:44 p.m. Yay for 'Ye. This is going to be amazing, or maudlin. Don't disappoint me, Mr. West.

9:44 p.m. Kanye pretending to be an altruist makes me a little sad. You're cocky, that's what we love about you!

9:45 p.m. Good thing the camera's on 'Ye, so you can't see Leno's giant erection. He's ecstatic at his luck regarding the West-Swift VMA situation and Mr. West's booking on the show.

9:46 p.m. Vague and sincere. And sad about his mom. Awkward. Jay took away 'Ye's swagger. I understand, but what a downer.

9:49 p.m. I'm wondering if Lil Mama is going to jump on stage. And will that give 'Ye something ELSE to apologize for?

9:50 p.m. It's just redundant to criticize Rihanna's clothing at this point, but she's continuing her Patty Hearst homage with that blonde hair.

9:52 p.m. You wonder why Kanye behaves the way he does? Because he can do THAT.

9:52 p.m. Still feels like "The Tonight Show" with Jay awkwardly thanking guests too cool to care.

9:54 p.m. "Headlines!" Yet another radical departure from "The Tonight Show." Staying on the cutting age, eh Jay?

9:56 p.m. I respect Jay a lot, and I think he's the best at what he does, like Mike Douglas or Merv Griffin. But I don't respect what he does. I don't like "big tent" entertainment, especially when it's pretending to be something different. Just admit you wanted to keep your job so you took the next best thing to stick it to everyone.

9:58 p.m. I appreciate "Headlines." It's just so EASY though. They're empty laughs and not particularly satisfying.

9:59 p.m. There's Jay plugging the affiliates. They got him "The Tonight Show" and he's hoping they'll help him keep "The Jay Leno Show."

So I wasn't impressed.

I smiled but didn't laugh.

But I didn't fall asleep. And I'm anxiously awaiting Conan.

I think Jay did what he does best: He played to the middle and pleased the lowest common denominator. Tonight's debut of "The Jay Leno Show" is a success because Leno brought his sensibility to the prime time audience. I think he'll continue to succeed because he doesn't have to change. Hawkeye fans should understand this: Whether a football game starts at 11 a.m. or 7 p.m., the field is still the same length and touchdowns are still worth the same amount. Just the same, Jay Leno still has to make people laugh. All he has to do is as much as he's always done. And while the venue has changed, just as in football there are home and away games, the fundamentals still remain.

Keep checking "D-(eye) On Arts" for the full-length diatribe I'll post later this week.

-Meryn, who just wants more 'Ye and less Jay.

2 Cents To Play: Music games. What's Next?

The music/rhythm genre is getting older than Keith Richards. And like Mr. Richards, the Guitar Hero and Rock Band series won’t go away as long as there is money to be had.

Every year, we can look forward to at least one entry in both Activision and Harmonix’s respective Guitar Hero and Rock Band series but have to deal with an oversaturated market. Since June 2008 Activision released five console games in its series while Harmonix put out two. When Harmonix announced the recently released The Beatles Rock Band would replace a third entry in their series, I applauded there stand against this problem. Alas, I spoke too soon as a Lego Rock Band will come out later this year.

It hurts to see Harmonix not pushing the same innovation when they released the first Guitar Hero entry and were the first to add drums and vocals to the mix. This winter, Activision will release DJ Hero in an attempt to put some fire back in the genre but players don’t need more plastic instruments collecting dust in their living rooms, they need the songs they want.

Block rock aside, it appears Harmonix understands that the genre has become so repetitive it’s all about the songs, which is why they have made it a point to release new songs every week for purchase. I even rented Guitar Hero: World Tour just so I could play Springsteen’s “Born To Run” and “My Lucky Day” for five days and I did the same for the Beatles game.

Despite convincing me to dust off my plastic Fender Stratocaster, I realized the inclusion of the fab four should be the end of the music genre. Other than my personal favorites, there isn’t any other act I’m itching to play as. Activision shares this sentiment as their next game will focus on mash-ups, rather than other artists. However the original innovators need to figure out their next play as the mass market will soon come to this realization as well.

by Tyler Lyon

Sunday, September 13, 2009


In which your intrepid reporter, Tommy Morgan Jr., watches and recaps the ridiculousness that is the MTV Video Music Awards for your pleasure and amusement.

6:30: The VMAs don't start for another hour and a half, but I'm ready to go. Blog is ready, and I've got my MTV-approved VMAs cheat sheet, a healthy sense of sarcasm, and no respect for the sanctity of my weekends. I've even gone through the trouble of purposely disheveling my hair Russell Brand-style*. Let's do this.

6:39: I've come to realize that Blogger is not LiveBlog friendly. Looks like I'm going to have to manually load the post each time I want to update. Get on this, Google.

6:50: With details about Lady GaGa's VMA performance "on super-duper secret lockdown" according to MTV, I'm expecting, and really really really hoping for, a meltdown rivaling that of Britney's performance two years ago. A man can dream, can't he?

Let's review every cringe inducing moment:

Ah...painful. And yet somehow glorious. It's Britney, bitch!

-Also, nominees here. With the possible exception of Eminem, I'm pretty sure all of the Video of the Year nominess are robots. Just sayin'.

7:05: Wow. A Michael Phelps hash joke. Glad I'm listening to the pre-show from the other room instead of watching it. If that's what I hear, I don't want to know what I'd see.

7:13: P!nk rides in on a fire truck, and Lady GaGa wears the absolute ugliest, most godawful, your-mother-can't-even-love-you-after-wearing-that monstrosity of a--I don't even want to call it an outfit, so--thing I've ever laid eyes on. Should have stayed in the other room. I think I'm going to go return DVDs now.

7:30 DVDs returned--without an extra day of Redbox fees!--snacks acquired, 15 minutes of pre-show dodged. Thanks to the Kum and Go on the Burlington/Gilbert corner for making dreams come true.

7:50: Ten minutes until go time. Time to move this operation into the living room and actually watch. Goodbye, eyes, I knew you well.

7:58: Sneaking MTV. Trying to give out an award behind my back. The Beastie Boys win the "Video that Wasn't Good Enough to Win the First Time Around." No one cares, not even the Beasties.

8:00: Is Madonna still relevant? I mean, outside of her job as the host of Tales from the Crypt. (Sorry, Louis)

8:03: How many people actually care about Madonna's play-date with Michael Jackson?

8:05: Already looking forward to the Emmys next week. If only NPH were here to save us now.

Pictured: NPH showing us the red zone belonging to Madonna and Lady GaGa on the Hot/Crazy scale.

8:13: All told, that was a really good tribute. Like, I have nothing bad to say about it good. Except for the part with Janet Jackson where she did whatever the hell you call that was.**

8:15: I always wondered if Joe Perry and Katy Perry were related. Turns out they're still not.

8:20: Russell Brand: the next Betty Friedan? Nope, just trying to get in Lady GaGa's pants.

8:22: It's betting time. Which will happen more: references to Lady GaGa's bisexuality, or Russell Brand's erection? The over/under on each is 12.

8:24: Taylor Swift wins Best Female Video. Probably because she was the only one who made an actual video, as opposed to danced like a Cyborg (Beyonce).
-And Kanye West ruins her acceptance to get more of the spotlight for himself, under the guise of claiming that Beyonce was cheated. Kanye, that video kind of sucked. Sorry.
-Oh well. Good to know that the VMAs are getting awkward early. That means it will only go downhill from here.

8:33: Russell Brand: always there to defeat awkwardness with innuendo. I love it.
-And we have our first plug of the night. Remember when Jack Black used to be funny?

8:39: Still pretty certain that Green Day stole that hook from Mott the Hoople.
-Also pretty sure that Miranda Cosgrove is a liar. That feed isn't live. Taylor Swift isn't crying and asking her bodyguards to beat up Kanye West.
-Gonna stop blogging for a quick few minutes, unless something absurd happens. I'm not trying to write War and Peace here, but I might if I continue at this pace.

8:41: One more quick note re: this Taylor Swift performance. I'm still calling taped.

8:51: Lady Gaga looks crazy. Not hot crazy, like she's going for, but crazy like she's going to eat my soul through the television. For reference, think this:
only blonde.

8:54: The whole blood thing wasn't cool, or crazy, or even interesting . Just overplayed and dumb. As such, it will probably be considered the top highlight of the whole show. I know she was trying to make that point, and I understand what that point was, but it was still stupid.

9:02: ...and Russell Brand makes a joke about roofie-ing Megan Fox. Not smooth. Not smooth.

9:03 One hour. Three awards. Oscars, eat your heart out.
-As someone who follows the same scene that Cobra Starship's music supposedly belongs to, I'm glad people are starting to recognize it as pop, and not rock. I loved the Movielife, but this particular Gabe Saporta project is nothing more than modern day Huey Louis. Maybe Ray Parker, Jr. steal one of their songs and turn it into a movie theme, too.
-Where's Kanye West to claim Beyonce got screwed on that one? I mean, the award went to Britney Spears, so everyone did, but I don't see him complaining now.

9:06: Best way to make it known your guitar playing adds nothing to the music: use a wireless mic and hold it in your hand for most of the performance while your guitar just hangs there.. See Armstrong, Billy Joe.

9:11: Award for best video made with Rock Band: The World's Lonliest Moonman.

That's right: I'm bringing it back.

9:16: OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG OMG NEW MOON!!!!!!11!!!!!1!!!!!!!wtfrofl!!!!!

9:20: Hmm. New Moon doesn't look as shitty as the first one. Granted, that's like comparing Dude, Where's My Car? to Ishtar, but still.***

9:23: I have to give Beyonce props for not even trying to mouth along to the track. Keeps the lip-syncing claims to a minimum when you don't even bother to lip-sync.
-Also, advance to props to anyone who can explain that stupid fucking thing Beyonce wears on her wrist. Is it a leftover piece of armor from Lord of the Rings?

If you like it then you shoulda put a ring on it.

9:26: I was going to include a relevant video here, but I think the world needs to see this more (and it's actually vaguely relevant, and a damn catchy song).

I'm not sure that even Joe Jonas will be able to keep a girlfriend after that.****

9:31: This crowd now reacts to Kanye's name like the words "health care" at a town hall meeting. Love it.

9:33: I was hoping for a live feed where T.I. accepts the award from jail. Would have made my night, and made MTV's less of a train wreck.

9:40: I have nothing witty to say. Muse is fucking awesome. Even Stephanie Meyer can't make me hate them.

9:41: I'm going to take this commercial break to say one thing: If Asher Roth ever wins anything, from anyone, ever, the world has no soul.

9:48: This whole night might have been worth it just to see The All-American Rejects' Tyson Ritter doing his best "Soy Bomb" impression.
not pictured: dignity, self-respect

9:59: Lady GaGa arguable deserved that award. This doesn't change the fact that her outfits are ungodly ugly. She doesn't look fashionable, she looks like a fucking idiot.

10:01: And now P!ink (I refuse to spell it any other way--she needs to live with her shame) is doing it too. Is blind "in" all of the sudden? Also, you cannot pull off the Lil' Kim outfit, honey. Sorry. The acrobatics are decent, though.

10:13: I still don't like him, but Kanye now has a point. How does Beyonce's video win Best Video and not Best Female video? This confuses me. (sidenote: Lady GaGa is wearing a bird's nest. A fucking bird's nest. On. Her. Face.)

-And Beyonce essentially tells Kanye to go fuck himself by having Taylor Swift come out on stage to give her speech. Good for Beyonce, but, sadly, I'm now forced to guess that this was at least partly staged.

10:16: How to tell your award show sucks. You give out the biggest award, and there's 15 minutes of stuff left.

10:26: Jay-Z turns in the best performance of the night, only to have it ruined by them again removing all appearances of actual performance when Alicia Keys stops playing piano to join him on stage, while the piano still plays on.

10:28: Pretty sure "This Is It," despite coming out late, will be the highest grossing movie in America this year. I'm calling it now.

10:30: How did this thing last 2 1/2 hours? They gave out maybe five awards.*****

10:37: Okay, I'm out. It's time to sort out my hate/casual indifference relationship with Lady GaGa. This one might take therapy. Then again, watching the VMAs always does.


-Tommy Morgan Jr.

Notes, footnotes, and general ennui:
* - Read: I took a nap.
** - I call it the "2007 Britney Spears"
*** - In other news, Robert Pattinson still looks constantly stoned, and I continue to have a completely inexplicable attraction to Kristen Stewart. Maybe it's that dead look in her eyes. It makes me all a twitter.
**** - Actually, he probably will. Beautiful bastard.
***** - Okay, seven.