Tuesday, June 30, 2009


I was about to go to bed, when I saw an article mentioning how Alice in Chains released the single "A Looking View" on iTunes and Amazon.

For those not in the know, Alice In Chains' last self-titled album was released in 1995. The band split due to Layne Staley's increasing drug problem, which ultimately led up to Staley's death.

14 years later, the band is back together with vocalist William Duvall and planning on releasing the new album Black Gives Way to Blue.

So how is the first single from the band after all these years?

Fuckin' brilliant.

The seven minute track opens with one of the band's heaviest riffs ever. Alice In Chains has always been a darker band after releasing Dirt, but this is a whole new beast.

William Duvall comes in sounding eerily like Layne Staley.

"Hear footsteps creak the floor/the shadows give away/someone outside the door/won't let him in"

More heavy guitars from Jerry Cantrell and some powerful drumming and bass from Sean Kinney and Mike Inez.

Soon Cantrell is delivering his signature backing vocals, which sound as good as ever. Cantrell is one of the most criminally underrated guitar players of the 90's. I would argue he blows Kurt Cobain out of the water.

The chorus is catchy and there are loads more vocal harmonies throughout the song.

Words cannot describe how awesome this track is. Check it out for yourselves! Video will be released sometime soon. I'll put it up on the blog as soon as it is.

Alice in Chains is back! Layne Staley would be proud.

UPDATE: Check out the song below now. You can also listen on aliceinchains.com.

Thursday, June 25, 2009

Gone Too Soon

Let me start by acknowledging I am no more qualified to eulogize Michael Jackson than anyone else. That's exactly why he is a legend: Because we all have a strand of memory tied to Michael Jackson. Whether you had a friend who could Moonwalk, or your first love wore only one glove, or the first fright of your life came courtesy of the "Thriller" video.

John Mayer once said, "I'm a big believer in a different Jimi Hendrix than most people." I think I'm a big believer of a different Michael Jackson than many people, so I'm going to post my favorite song of his as my tribute to him.

When I was a kid, I was obsessed, OBSESSED, with Michael Jackson. I just found my VHS of Michael Jackson: Moonwalker in my garage last week. I was more than a fan. True story: While all the little girls in my third grade class were drawing pictures of fairies and princesses or whatever little 7 and 8 year old girls draw during free time, I wrote out the entire tracklisting on the then-new Michael Jackson HIStory boxed set. And I'll never forget, when my "friend" (or so I thought), Allison Tisack, saw what I was doing and said, "You're so weird." It only solidified my imagined bond with the King of Pop. That happened in the early/mid '90s, when Jackson's inarguable legacy had already been tainted by tabloids and tarnished by his transgressions. Yet I had no shame. All I knew was that he made the greatest music my single-digit-aged ears had ever heard. It was funky, it was infectious, but it had SOUL. And man could he dance.

What I think says even more about Michael Jackson than his music, or his actual words, is the response to his death. Facebook, Twitter, and YouTube are ablaze with tributes. R&B and pop radio are awash in adulation. Yet had the news been anything else Jackson-related, the response would have been eye rolls and yawns. Don't forget, this is the man Jay Leno built a late-night career on. Yet Michael Jackson is responsible for the best-selling album of all-time (and arguably one of the best, in terms of quality, albums of all-time). So while statistically, one in every 60 people on the planet own a copy of Thriller, on any other day you'd be hard-pressed to find one in 60 people with kind words about Michael Jackson. Yet here it is now: a world almost wholly mourning the loss of a genius.

And he was a genius. Like John Lennon, like Elvis, Michael Jackson was iconic, and fucked up. I'll save why I think he lost it for another time, but the truth is: Genius and madness are fraternal twins. They're definitely closely related though not exactly the same. In Michael Jackson, they occupied the same space. But what's important is what he gave the world, and not the price he paid for giving it.

In his later years, he set fire to the image he'd once worked so hard to maintain, eroding his credibility and leaving only soot-soaked signs of his past. But he will always be an icon. It wasn't easy to stand by him, and many of his true fans deserted him. But I truly believe we never stopped listening to his music. The music, so often unlike the man, spoke for itself.

What has died with Michael Jackson is so much more than potential, though I know I would have loved to see a comeback and it seemed likely with the London tour dates. What has died with Michael Jackson is us. It sounds trite, I admit it, but a collective part of our cultural consciousness is gone. Michael Jackson was the crossroads of so much in our lexicon. A comment on Michael Jackson was a comment on race relations, celebrity, aesthetics, art, and how we dealt with it all. And as has been made abundantly clear, many if not all of us have a Michael Jackson story, a personal connection with the man or his music.

Meryn, who still plans to walk down the aisle at her wedding to "Don't Stop 'Til You Get Enough."

Saturday, June 13, 2009

Faith No More Reunited: Download Festival 2009

So it's Friday night and I've noticed we have all been slacking on this here blog. While you are getting ready to go out and drink moderately and responsibly you should watch these videos of a reformed Faith No More playing at this year's Download Festival.

If you don't remember Faith No More was big in the early 90's with "Epic" off of The Real Thing getting tons of radio airtime.

Now that your memory is refreshed here are the new videos.

Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Ripley's Believe It or Not: The 2009 Tony Awards Edition

You'd think what I would remember most from the 2009 Tony Awards (which aired on CBS June 7) would be the performances. After all, it was a year filled with ridiculously talented actors and musicians. But no, that's not what stuck with me. Instead, it was the shoddy microphone work.

I hope the soundboard operator got canned immediately following the show.

The opening number, which included every nominated musical act for the evening, kicked off with Elton John singing a number from "Billy Elliot the Musical" (you remember the movie: the one where the little boy from the UK wanted to dance but his pops thought boxing was the way to go...yeah, now it's a musical), and his first two stanzas were un-mic-ed.

If you ever doubted that Sir Elton still had the music in him, you should've heard him belt out that first bit of "Electricity"--he filled that hall. He is the consummate performer.

The next noticeable atrocity happened mere moments later, when the opening number presented the folks from the revival of "West Side Story". While the gangs went all "beat yo' ass" (musical theatre-style--meaning tight pants, coiffed hair and power stances), a perky little blonde backstage had her mic turned on too soon. You can hear her clapping, followed by a pep talk, followed by clapping, followed by coughing, followed by lip trills, followed by more lip trills, followed by more lip trills....and then someone very kindly informed her that she was audible. So she shut up until she stepped on stage, approximately twenty seconds later.

Next up (we're still in the opening act, by the way), we have Bret Michaels and Poison, introducing "Rock of Ages"--an 80s rock music musical (why did we need one of those, again?)--and they only let him sing the first verse into the bridge of "Good Time" until they put up a recording. And it was noticeable. Don't believe me? Take a listen:

(Evidently, Michaels also is suffering from fractures and brokenness...of some sort. Unruly sets: The performer's worst enemy.)

It goes without saying that when ensembles were on-stage, the sound balance was just awful.

(By the way, is there anything Allison Janney can't do? She's in Dolly Parton's hit musical "9 to 5". Or Liza Minelli, for that matter. Say what you will about the woman, but she's a legend, absolutely timeless and born for the freakin' stage.)

Let's move into the actual awards show, hosted by his Holiness, Neil Patrick Harris. (What, you thought that was the end of the mic mistakes? Ha!)

A revival of the classic "Guys & Dolls" put up a number at the Awards, featuring the estimable Tituss Burgess as Nicely. And as soon as he started singing, the bead mic attached to his forehead just...died. In a crackling, annoying, dying sort of way. Some lackey (well, a lackey in a suit...hmmm) runs out with a wireless mic. Right before that happens, you hear said lackey, in a nasal East Coast accent, say, "Am I goin' in wit' it? Am I goin' in? I'm goin' in!" Good for him. Fifteen seconds of fame; goin' once, goin' twice.

The terrible screen-to-stage translation, "Shrek the Musical", was another early-in-the-song fail for Sound Dude. A screeching chorus gal found herself mic-ed a bit too hot. (Plus, Lord Farquaad--a booming, baritone Christopher Sieber--had fake legs... Instead of being cute, it was, um, distracting. And, frankly, poorly executed.)

The one stand-out performance of the night came from the rock musical "Next to Normal", showcasing an hallucinating suburban housewife, her frustrated husband and her dead (and studly) son. Though "Billy Elliot" swept most of the big awards, "Next to Normal" nabbed Best Actress in a Musical for the very talented Alice Ripley, a fabulous performer (as seen in the clip below), as well as Best Original Score and Best Orchestration. I'm completely in love with this show--and definitely daydreaming of a roadtrip to NYC.

The ever-awesome Neil Patrick Harris showed off his vocal chops in the comedic mockery of a final number, closing the broadcast as the credits rolled. Who doesn't love NPH?

Moral of the Tony-2009 story? Check the résumé creds on your soundboard op. Fo' realz. Oh, and go see more musical theatre.

Monday, June 8, 2009

Portugal. The Man Makes Me a Fanboy

I am but a man.
What a proud, proud man.
What a proud, proud man.

I went to Madison with a cohort of two of my closest people this last Saturday night to visit my friends in the band, Portugal. The Man. I use the term "friends" sort of loosely in an Andrew W.K. friends-not-fans sort of way. They sold out a tiny bar on Mifflin Street (one of the endlessly confusing one-way streets in Madison) called Cafe Montmartre or, for the tongue-heavy, Cafe Momo. The place was packed. So packed in fact, that when we showed up a half-hour late due to aforementioned one-ways and a hang-up in the parking lot, we were hardly able to make it in the door even with our will-called tickets.
I stepped 4 feet inside the Cafe Momo and was stopped by a wall of bodies pulsating on the entry ramp. I turned to my right, and couldn't see the singer/guitarist of the band, John Gourley, in his usual facing-the-side of the stage position with a hood or hat pulled down low because the newest member of Portugal. The Man (Zoe Manville)was aptly shaking a tambourine in front of my face. That's right. This band uses the tambourine, and they do it well. Every time.

What a proud friend they've made me. Since the days of Church Mouth, their 2007 release, I've been itching and waiting for this band to make it happen. And I think it has. I'm officially a fanboy who has melted into the sea of heads that sell out the show and sing their vocal chords to shreds with episodes of thrash in between grandiose hand gestures while others content to find a spot with good sonic balance succumb to what I have come to call the acid sway. There is not a soul standing still at this concert. Not ever.

But they've always been good live. This is the 5th show over a course of 3 years that I've had the pleasure to see. They are even more relentless than ever with their touring, including European getaways and festivals left and right. But, like I said, they've always been good live. I mean their extended jams invite, nay, demand a fresh audience every night.

No one who really likes Weezer, Nirvana, or Sublime tribute bands is going to like this. If you saw Paramore and thought they were really great, you probably won't like this band. The songs never sound the same on stage, and sometimes the sounds change with a violent jolt that knocks you off-balance for a bit. But it's always a hell of a ride with the extended riff-heavy jams and seamless splices of "One is the Loneliest Number"in the middle of their original songs.

But they've always been good live. What really makes my fanboy juices flow is the new album coming out on July 21st entitled The Satanic Satanist. The cover art is absolutely astonishing with complicated fold-outs that create a layered landscape over a CD that becomes part of the artwork as it is inserted.
The vinyl, unfortunately, will not be so decked out, or perhaps more unfortunately, except for in Germany. That means me and my fellow fanboys are going to have one bitch of a time getting our hands on what has to be described as, at least, a great piece of music. John Gourley, the lead man, actually invited my buddy to the van after the performance to let him feast his senses on the only copy of The Satanic Satanist to be printed as of now. I can nearly guarantee that my friend has yet to wash his hands. The band has always been great about talking with fans outside after the shows. I think it's partly just to air-dry their sweat-drenched clothes and have an excuse to not help the roadies load up. I can't blame them, though, as their set looked even more tiring than ever. But they've always been good live.


Saturday, June 6, 2009

Blech-y Badger, Part Two

I'm watching a "College Life" marathon. Because I'm a masochist. While Miss Melea Andrys brilliantly tackled the show in The Daily Iowan's pages, I'm here to hold up my end on the web. After half an episode, four years in high school with soon-to-be Badgers, four years of friendships with actual Badgers, and two visits to the campus with a third on the horizon, here's what I know so far: the University of Wisconsin is my smallpox blanket.

Earlier this summer, I received a Snuggie from a Badger. I hugged said Badger, while he was in his matching Snuggie, to show my appreciation (and also because I wondered if the static electricity would be enough to stop my heart). In doing so, I covered my Snuggie in dog fur. I'm highly allergic to pet dander. My eye turned dare-I-say cardinal red (maybe more familiar to readers as one of the University of Wisconsin Madison's school colors) and I began to scratch and sneeze. A wonderful gift soon became my physical downfall. My Snuggie became a smallpox blanket (though not to equate my allergies with the plight of the Native Americans, but just a metaphor too appealing to resist).

Likewise, Madison (the UW campus in particular) has so much to offer, and good intentions (to educate, serve as the state government's core, and be a cultural center). So I go to the city (or the show "College Life") seeking a good time, some entertainment, and maybe a little enlightenment, yet all I end up with are skin legions and questions.

(I wanted to put a picture here, but I realized a photo of someone with smallpox is too disturbing, and I don't take pictures, so any photos of me in Madison are someone else's property and I can't afford to be sued. Imagine me having the time of my life inserted into an episode of "College Life.")

Now I'm watching the election episode, "College Life"'s attempt at depth. Iowa City is no better than Madison, I'm not making that argument. But oh wait, Kevin just got kicked out of his dorm (Spoiler Alert). Why juxtapose the two events? Because that's real life? No, that's "College Life." And move away, because I'm about to experience my vomit life.

I can't stay away from Madison because it's intoxicating. The people are great, the atmosphere is downright addictive, and there's fun on every corner. For real. But for visitors, it fades. Just like the warmth from a smallpox blanket slowly turns to chills as your immune system deteriorates.

Again, maybe my Madison experiences are tainted by issues outside of Madison itself (who's to say if one of my close friends attended Purdue I wouldn't feel the same about West Lafayette, Ind.?). But there's something about the stale, beery air and the reflection off Lake Monona that breeds poor decision making and clouds judgment. Maybe I knew the blanket would give me smallpox, but I was just so happy to get a gift I cuddled up to it anyway? I knew "College Life" would sap my brain cells and spare time, but I can't resist observing the environment responsible for so many of my moral missteps as it claims others. Consider it the appeal of shared experience.

As Kevin (who is no doubt a bonehead, Mr. Let's Play Beer Pong in the Dorm) packs up to move out of the residence hall he was kicked out of, I can't help but understand. No, I don't have sympathy (so I'm not a good person, you knew that coming into this), but I get it. I pride myself on at least appearing tough (see previous post about my shero Mary Shannon). But under the right circumstances (some Beatles tunes, a few bottles of New Glarus Totally Naked, and the view from a balcony at Equinox Apartments) I could indulge my inner Madislut. Yet being a semi-adult in a controlled environment now (or living in Iowa City, where I have family and thus some duty to at least maintain some semblance of a good reputation) makes these situations highly unlikely and also easy to control. But in Madison, I don't doubt every young Beyonce turns into Sasha Fierce. Kind of like how you end up sitting on the lap of that unapproachably hot guy from high school as together you approach second base, or spend the wee hours in the dorm room of some girl you met earlier that night under the guise of "brushing your teeth" (never mind that you didn't bring your tooth brush or toothpaste, but I digress).

The only thing is, Beyonce has to live with Sasha Fierce's aftermath. When a college student's promiscuous drunken persona emerges, the timid partial adult within has to clean up the mess. And State Street is LITTERED with ephemera from parties past. I left a piece of my innocence in the Qdoba on State Street. Look around that beautiful terrace and you'll find some joy I shed. And I'm not alone. Kevin just happened to leave his in a dorm (though after three episodes I still can't figure out which dorm it is, but for the record, I made all my residence college faux pas in Chadbourne).

Maybe I shouldn't be so quick to judge the "College Life" cast members. I spent a few days in their shoes, save for the cameras to document their downfalls (all I have are still images and memories too colorful to forget). Plus, if any exposure to smallpox means contamination, how long we're exposed becomes a semantic argument, a useless distinction. I'm planning to return to that beloved bad-decision breeding ground, sans inoculation. Who am I to judge? 

Meryn, who's pretty weak for one Badger in particular...
(His name's Bucky, maybe you know him?)

Friday, June 5, 2009

Something So Right

Hey pop culture denizens! While my tenure at The Daily Iowan may be over, I'll never leave the precious Arts blog. These new staffers are swiftly kicking my blogging butt all up and down the Interweb, but I'm here to at least attempt to save my reputation. While I will live up to my role as de-facto Late Night bitch later, right now, I'm here to talk about my new heroine: Mary Shannon.

Here she is (played excellently by Mary McCormack) with her fellow marshal, Marshall (given life by Frederick Weller). These two are the stars of USA's returning summer series, "In Plain Sight." Wikipedia classifies the show as a police procedural, but it is so much more than just another "Law and Order" imitation.

"In Plain Sight" (often mistyped by me as "In Palin Sight," which is a terrifying typo) focuses on U.S Marshals responsible for guarding witnesses in the federal witness protection program. So yes, while each episode focuses on a new witness and why his or her identity is in danger of being revealed (or why they have to enter the program), viewers are treated to the show's best quality: the drama in Mary Shannon's life. Her recovering alcoholic mother (acted with boozy charm by Lesley Ann Warren) and her sexpot but well-meaning slightly airheaded sister (Nichole Hiltz fills the role so seamlessly one thinks the creators wrote it with her in mind) add plenty of stress to Mary's already demanding life.

So, if you haven't yet, go buy the first season on DVD (or add it to your Netfliz queue); I'm not going to give y'all a rundown of each and every episode. But here's why Mary Shannon is my new heroine: she's the world's anti-heroine. She's no Carrie Bradshaw. In fact, during "In Plain Sight"'s pilot, Mary's boss (nebbishy and loyal Paul Ben-Victor) buys her some sexy heels as a birthday gift. Shannon, unaware the shoes are for her, proceeds to berate them (and women who wear them). No, Mary Shannon isn't sipping Cosmos and making sex puns, she's too busy kicking ass.

Yet, Mary's human, and that's really why she's my new heroine. She's a daddy's girl, who never recovered when he ran out on her family when she was a kid, and thus internalizes everything. She's tougher than leather, but only because she has to be. She has a smoking hot baseball-playing boyfriend (the seductively sincere Cristian de la Fuente) who she can't really open up to, and can't even acknowledge as her "boyfriend," and her fellow marshal Marshall is her only real friend. He takes care of her, because no one else in her life is capable, and she can't let herself be that vulnerable in front of her "boyfriend." The trust Marshall and Mary share by virtue of the amount of time they spend together and the understanding they have about the distinct challenges their jobs present makes theirs one of the show's most compelling relationships. Plus, they take witty jabs at each other and trade barbs so harsh only best friends would understand how they'd still be speaking.

Mary Shannon IS her job. She loves taking care of her witnesses. She's a contradiction: a caretaker (to everyone in her life) who isn't maternal. And that's a hard order for a female actress to fill, but McCormack does it effortlessly. Mary isn't into "cute," she doesn't coo and she doesn't learn. The straits of her life don't allow her to soften. And she has to insulate herself from the damage that surrounds her.

Audiences won't see Mary pouring her heart out on her Mac. Her sparse voiceovers give volume to Mary's pain and torment (as opposed to Meredith Grey's often melodramatic narration). There's hurt peeking out from her seemingly impenetrable exterior, but she isn't eager for a friend to cry with or a man to dry her eyes. She's closed off, sarcastic, and often mean. But she's not looking for sympathy; she just wants you to leave her the hell alone. And in the feeling friendly age where everyone's expected to justify their unsavory character traits, Mary Shannon's personality profile is inspiring.

The motto behind "Seinfeld" was "No hugging, no learning." The same is true for "In Plain Sight," it seems. While "In Plain Sight" still manages to evoke and emotionally engage, there's always enough acidity to ensure viewers their TVs didn't accidentally flip to Lifetime. Mary Shannon is the new feminist heroine, more than Meredith Grey or any of the chicks on Wisteria Lane.

Meryn, who identifies with Mary Shannon far more than she should.

Thursday, June 4, 2009

Mac v. PC: Everyone's Favourite Debate

That's right, everyone. If you were paying attention, you totally would have noticed that I went British on this one. Because we at the Arts and Culture section are just that classy.

But really. To kick off our first week of publishing for the fabulous summer session, the famed "Bitch Please" section will feature fellow A&C master Eric Sundermann and me duking it out over the specs of the PC and the Mac.

On a somewhat related note, I'll have you know that a search for "Bitch Please" on youtube unearths this classic:

But if you want to know what's really going on, feast your eyes on this little diddy, as a sort of prequel to the epic IC battle that will ensue this Tuesday on the DI website:

Mac Vs Pc - The funniest movie is here. Find it

You know you like it,

Kery Lawson

David Carradine (RIP)

I just checked my Facebook account only to find out that actor David Carradine was found dead in a hotel room, hanging from a nylon rope in Bangkok, Thailand. The full details of his death have not yet been confirmed.

See the full article from CNN here.

Carradine became famous after starring in the TV series "Kung-Fu" in the early 70s in which he played Shaolin Monk Kwai Chang Caine. In the series Carradine's character travels through the Wild West in search of his brother.

He also is famous for his many movie roles, including "Bound For Glory" in 1976. People my age probably most recognize Carradine for his role in Quentin Tarantino's "Kill Bill" series, in which he played the awesome Bill.

And before I go, I leave you with a clip of Carradine's guest appearance on MAD TV alongside the hilarious Will Sasso. It's one of my favorites.

David Carradine may you rest in peace.

UPDATE: Well it seems like Carradine's death is predicted to be an accidental case of autoerotic asphyxiation. I don't judge.

Here is the most recent article about it.

Wednesday, June 3, 2009

There are only two reasons to watch MTV:

...And it's "The Hills" and the MTV Movie Awards.

(Say what you want about "The Hills". Lauren Conrad is smokin': I will watch that woman do anything.)

The 2009 MTV Movie Awards happened this past Sunday night, May 31st, on (you guessed it) MTV. Andy Samberg of SNL-fame hosted, rather poorly. I mean, he tried, he really did. He elicited a few awkward laughs from me, but I just don't see his appeal, regardless of how disgustingly iconic "Dick in a Box" and "Jizz in My Pants" have become.

Anyway, this year's awards were unsurprisingly swept by Twilight. ...If anyone is surprised by that, you've been living under a rock. No, no: I think even people living under rocks knew. The awkward and über-hot Robert Pattinson won Best Breakthrough Male; the awkward and untalented Kristen Stewart won Best Female Performance; the two of them awkwardly won Best Kiss; and the awkward and annoyingly hippie-esque Catherine Hardwicke (the quickly replaced director) accepted the award for Best Picture. (Seriously, she's always got this "Hey, man..." speech pattern.)

Nothing exciting happened. Sacha Baron Cohen--as his new alter-ego, "Bruno"--came flying down from the ceiling to land ass-first on Eminem's face, which was (shocker!) completely staged. Kristen Stewart dropped her popcorn statue and broke it, then accurately drew attention to how awkward she was. LeAnn Rimes and Chris Isaak screeched out Andy Samberg's SNL hits, with a decent assist from Forest Whittaker. Random audience members were mocked.

See? Nothing exciting happened.


(There's always a "but"...)

...One moment in particular made me crack up.

There's a tradition (that's not always honored by time or participants, by the way) at the MTV Movie Awards for winners of the Best Kiss to recreate that special moment.

When Twilighters Pattinson and Stewart came on-stage to accept their award for Best Kiss, well, it didn't go quite as planned. I think it might have been the only surprise of the night (for me, at least). Pattinson removes his gum and starts his awkward descent toward Stewart's mouth, and, at the last moment, she turns away. The look of shock, genuine or not, on his face had me dissolving into giggles.

Well, that, and when Keifer Sutherland started sobbing all over Ben Stiller. (Jack Bauer can have as many DUIs as he wants--I'll still get a happy shiver every time I look at him.)

Steve Reich Wins a Pulitzer!

Most people don't know Steve Reich, but they should. Especially since he just won himself a Pulitzer. He's one of those super-cool minimalist composer types. What's a minimalist? A composer who specializes in making an entire piece out of two notes. Basically. If you've seen The Hours, you've already had an earful of Philip Glass (although he claims he's not a minimalist). I won't go into the whole debate with minimalism (you should know that there are always debates in music - - on EVERYTHING), but the gist of it is that some people like it, and some don't. I think it's pretty freaking cool. Especially with Steve Reich.

A lot of what he's known for is tape loops and phasing. I can't really explain it; you'll just have to listen. Here's his grammy-award winning "Different Trains":

"Piano Phase" is also really nifty:

A search for "Double Sextet," his Pulitzer masterpiece, yields these:


Kery Lawson

Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Conan O' Brien Takes Over Part II: The First Show

Last night marked the premiere of "The Tonight Show with Conan O' Brien" and although it did not show Conan at his funniest, it still was a good transition to the 10:35PM Central time slot.

Everyone knows that Conan is a late-night balla and fans of the old show who feared him changing up his shtick have nothing to worry about. The majority of the show was filled with L.A. jokes and pre-recorded bits delivered in the classic Conan tradition.

Just check out the intro clip from the show.

Some critics stated that Conan seemed awkward in the new studio, but I don't think it was anything that took away from the show. I would be nervous too if I was going to take over a show where many people thought that I was destined to screw up (as Will Ferrell later joked in the show).

Will Ferrell was OK as the first guest, but nothing overly amazing was said. As mentioned Conan stood out most during the pre-recorded bits, such as when he took over as a tram tour guide.

Overall Conan's debut on "The Tonight Show" was an enjoyable and fairly safe transition. I look forward to watching the next few episodes to see Conan get into his full-on Cone-Zone hilarity.

Up, Cutest Thing....Ever

Hi all,

Last Saturday, I attended the matinee of Disney and Pixar's newest love child, "Up." In case you haven't endured the puke-adorable commercials already, here's a taste:

Aside from the really disturbing move from one of the main character's introduction as a young child to her death as an old woman in as little as the first 10-20 minutes, it was pretty freaking adorable. It didn't annoy me like a lot of the computer-generated attempts at entertainment that a lot of studios are putting out (even the commercials make me want to pull an Elvis and shoot my television). On a barely related note, have you seen this?:

Disney's Dirty Little (Victoria's) Secret

Okay, anyway, it's all about dreams and people and family and adorable dogs that have collars that allow their thoughts to be translated into English and spoken through a speaker hugging their jugulars (do dogs have jugulars like humans?). There was a little slapstick, a little cute, and some fabulously recurring lines, like the dogs' interrupting important conversations to stare and cry, "Squirrel!" I know you really wanted to know this, so I'll go ahead and tell you: I had a favorite little stuffed squirrel growing up, which I tried to name "Lucifer," after the cat in Cinderella (oh, yes, Disney was a key element in my youth). My parents, trying to keep Beelsebub (spelling?) out of our home as much as possible, encouraged me to call it "Lucifee." I lost it one day forever, which still makes me sad. That's my squirrel story.

Did you know it was 3D? Neither did I. It was a little 3D, but not a lot. Just a little. Enough to bump our matinee ticket prices up to evening ticket prices. So if you feel like coughing up $9.50 at the Coralville Mall to laugh, cry, and become entranced with the magic (sugar-coated voodoo) that is Disney, then freaking go for it.

I'm willing to overlook the fact that Disney is just about as cultish as it gets for this one. Although I'm sure they'll be injecting advertisements into our childrens' DNA in the next thirty years, I'm willing to give them this one. Let's string up hundreds (thousands?) of balloons to an old man's house and see what happens. And let's give him a pathetic excuse for a boy scout caricature for a companion. After all, it's for the kids....

My experience at Disney World was really horrifying,

Kery Lawson

Monday, June 1, 2009

Why Dave Matthews Band Does NOT Suck!

We all were there. That house party our freshman year--skimpy dressed girls, beer pong, guys with backwards baseball hats--and the music? Yep. Dave Matthews Band. The whole party sang along to "Crash" screaming their significant other was that "dirty rascal." Beer spilled on us. Girls ran into us. Guys yelled in our ears. We hated Dave Matthews Band. We hated them.

Let's take a step back.

What was it we hated? Was it the music? Or was it that shirt that got ruined because that one drunk girl ran into that other drunk guy who spilled his beer on that other drunk girl who spilled her beer on you? I'm guessing the latter.

I dare each one of you to take a moment to examine your experience with the Dave Matthews Band. Have you ever really given the music the chance? Or have you just always associated the music with douche-bags?

I don't want to get too sentimental, but these guys represent what music should be. In a world of Lady Gaga's and Jonas Brothers, these guys stick to their roots and consistently produce solid, enjoyable tracks. Dave's lyrics are poems, sung over a sweet, unique mix of saxophone, violin, and guitar (not to forget incredible drumming).

Bottom line: I'm asking you to give them another chance. They release a new album tomorrow, entitled "Big Whisky & The GrooGrux King." From what I've heard, it's pretty fly. Plus, it's a tribute to their late saxophone player LeRoi Jones. Pick up the album, put it on, and let the GrooGrux decide for you.

Conan O' Brien Takes Over TONIGHT!

I am psyched to watch Conan O' Brien take over "The Tonight Show" on NBC. It will be interesting to see if he changes up the format from "Late Night" or if he keeps things safe for the loyal fans.

The toughest crowd for O' Brien to win over is going to be the older fans of Jay Leno, but I think he can do it.

While you are waiting, check out the interview that Leno did with O' Brien for his last show on May 29.

NOTE: Guests tonight include Will Ferrell and Pearl Jam.

(Posted by Eric Andersen)