Archive for September, 2009

Early Review: Zombieland

Posted in Entertainment, Review with tags , , , , , , , , , , , , on September 25, 2009 by thenewserials
Remember: Cardio, Twinkies and Bill Murray is the King!

Remember: Cardio, Twinkies and Bill Murray is the King!

Yesterday I was fortunate to catch a free, early screening of the new horror/comedy movie: Zombieland.

Normally I wouldn’t ever consider seeing a zombie movie but, zombie comedy seem to have a special place in my heart.

The first odd thing about this movie is that it had a strange appeal to me. I’m not a zombie lore fan at all. I mean I HATE zombies, they scare me, they disgust me and for some reason there’s a small part of my mind that thinks they are real. However Zombieland painted a pretty funny picture in its trailer (which is viewable at the bottom of this post) and I was very lucky to obtain free tickets to the showing last night.

The movie opens up with the explanation that there are rules to surviving Zombieland but, in terms of it’s actual originality it also sticks close to other horror and comedies of the past. There’s no denying this movie is akin to the wonderfully funny “Shaun of the Dead” and has the humor of recent blockbusters like Superbad and anything else Michael Cera has been in. In fact its not a far off thought that perhaps the main character “Columbus” was originally intended to be played by Cera, that being said Zombieland is a very enjoyable movie!

Jesse Eisenberg plays the main character “Columbus” with a neo-nerd humor that has (as before mentioned) been made very popular by Michael Cera and his films but, Eisenberg does add something new, he’s funny, he’s awkward but, he also is particularly likable and in the chaotic world of Zombieland Eisenberg plays up he’s involuntary loner attitude with the twist that it is actually what has kept him alive for so long.

Along the way he meets the wildly different ‘Tallahassee”‘ played by Woody Harrelson. ‘Tallahassee”‘ plays a very antipode character to ‘Columbus’, he’s angry, violent and totally unafraid of the zombie invasion that has taken place, He also has a strange but, humorous obsession with Twinkies and the ongoing gag of finding twinkies in the film is one that’s used just enough to be funny but, not enough to be obnoxious. Harrelson is both funny and somewhat of the action hero in this film and fans of Harrelson will get what they’ve known he’s had for years and those not too familiar or fond of him should see the great comedic timing Harrelson has had for years.

The two get together and meet “Wichita”  and “Little Rock” played by Emma Stone and Abagail Breslin respectively. The two female characters are the most cunning in the movie, their ‘bitches’ by nature but, they’re insanely entertaining to watch especially in their interaction with the other characters. “Wichita” acts as “Little Rock”‘s sister and their relationship to each other is that of the cliche protector and protected but, their serious nature as deceivers add something to it. Stone is great as the dead pan “Wichita” eventually and obviously becoming the love interest for ‘Columbus’. “Little Rock” is a product of our time several jokes in the movie poke fun at her young age as not knowing who Willy Nelson is and having to explain the complex relationship of Hannah Montanna’s fame to the “Tallahasse”.

The movie is fun and funny and, for me, had some scary moments. Any person who has seen any zombie movie before knows how this movie is going to move, it’s from obvious issue to obvious issue but, Zombieland isn’t trying to be drastically different from any other zombie movie, it’s just trying to be better. And with good writing, great actors and a hilarious cameo by the “King” Bill Murray Zombieland is bound to be a hit when its release on October 2.

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Non Sunt? Veriatis Et Periculum?

Posted in Uncategorized on September 24, 2009 by thenewserials

It’s 12:46 on a Thursday afternoon and my mind is shooting with one big problem.

I don’t know how I got duped into taking a Latin course but, I now find myself sitting in an hour and forty minute class wondering if I’m ever going to catch up to the current knowledge base.

It’s not a fun thing to feel stupid, I almost want to jump out the window and scream. This makes my appreciation for stupid people a lot less too, I don’t see how they can live with themselves. One session of that class and I feel like ending what’s left of my wretchedly horrible and unintelligent life. It’ s not that I’m getting it, I’m just not getting it fast enough, we cover so much in class so fast, its barely audible at some point. With all sorts of strange exceptions and rules I don’t know if I’ll ever catch up. Even worse the other  people seem to be getting it pretty easily too. It’s almost if I’m a part of this elaborate hoax to mess with my psyche…

Either way I don’t have a choice but to get it and to get it soon. I have a test next class so Its time to nut up or shut up. I can’t stand that term but, it’s the only one that came to mind that wasnt too cliche.

Other than that my classes aren’t too bad, there’s always that one class that has to be the bad apple and keep me from sitting back and cake walking this entire semester and this time it’s latin. Justice and Society isn’t much of a problem, I’m able to think creatively and write well so I shouldn’t be too hard pressed to get some answers and knowledge out of it. Bible as a text is a simple excercise in memory and repetition, laid back class not too much to think about. God, Joseph, Mary, Jesus, the usual suspects. And finally Playwriting which doesn’t seem to be an issue at all, all I have to do is write fiction…is that a cinch or what? at the end I simply need to have written a one act play or a multi-act play. I have til December so that shouldn’t be an issue at all, the hardest part is starting.

Concert season is over and I don’t know what or when the next concert will be, through the grace of selling and Mia I was able to go to the concerts we got through in the summer. I didn’t review them all because I got lazy but, we attended Distant Worlds: The Music of Final Fantasy in June and Hall and Oates in Brooklyn in August right before the Pretenders in Central park. Both the shows were great in their own ways. Distant Worlds was like a dream come true, over ten years of playing Final Fantasy and I got to enjoy my favorite element of the games live with a spectacular orchestra. I hope to go back if they come to the NYC area (which seems like something that they would be already doing but, no word yet) there’s a lot still to feel from the music and a lot of different pieces they could still do. Hall ad Oates was just plain fun, Daryl Hall and John Oates have been some of my musical muses for so long and they still can put on a great show. It was an outside event with great weather so it was just an all around good experience in totality.

There’s always something about coming back from a concert that’s depressing though, back to real life, things always seem to get real murky when you don’t have anything planned for the near future. I’m happy to be back in school but, I could honestly do without the stress of worrying about failing another class. Latin is scaring the bejesus out of me and I really don’t have anyone to help me figure it out, despite someone who said they knew but, turns out they weren’t that well versed in it.

I hope if I get money soon to see Sharon Jones and The Dap Kings again, it appears they’ll be playing in the Starland ballroom in Sayerville NJ in December. I went to the Starland Ballroom back in 07′ I think to see the Pretenders and It was a great venue but, it was too out of the way to get to, we couldn’t meet the band because the last train back into the city was leaving only a few minutes after the show ended. All in all it wound up being a tiring experience and I vowed not to do it again, but with nothing going on elsewhere what choice do I have?

My laptop…malfunctioned for lack of a better word, and I haven’t been writing Tekken, usually at this point I’m either convinced that I’m not going to continue or have forgotten the story in general. Tekken isn’t the same though, I still know what I want to say and I still want to say it! I can only hope that the money will come through quickly and that the expenses to fix it won’t be much. potientally I have a grant coming from CUNY this week (though I thought It’d come last week) that I’d probably use for a game or something, then in mid October I should get the remainder of my financial Aid which should pay for that expense and the unfortunate issue I’m having with my Ipod (which I’m considering just throwing away and getting a new one). I hope not but, think that I’ll incur another major expense between now and the arrival of my financial aid, that’s the luck I sometimes have with these kinda of situations.

That reminds me my best friend is supposed to deliver $50 to me for some work I did….

Anyway I hate neglecting this blog but, then only feel like I should type when I have something profound or worthy to say. The problem is at least prohibiting and at most an oxymoron. Occasionally and by that I mean rarely do I think I have something profound to say and then if I do I even more rarely feel the need to express it to anyone else. As much as other people insist that I am, I really feel I’m not an interesting person, though if you’ve managed to get this far in the blog entry then you must have some slight feelings otherwise.

I won’t even get into the depressed chasm I was in yesterday about not having a a band, I’ll just say I felt like the lowest person in the world.

I want to try to add  feature to this blog about music but, everything I think of is self righteous like my take on a style or band of music or something like that. I’m not one to expose people to new musics because admittedly my own range is acute and often borderline on the obscure but then also tends to be the very popular. We don’t really need another blog telling people the wonders of Michael Jackson’s music career do we?

I will mention my youtube page though it has the complete collection of the videos I post up. Most are Pretenders rarities that I’ve made available to the internet community whilst trying to outwit the greedy record industries.

Also I want to leave a video I encountered from a friend, it’s a cover of Beyonce’s Crazy In Love and I was absolutely floored by it and I hope you are too.

Review: The Ettes, American Bang, Juliette Lewis

Posted in Review on September 20, 2009 by thenewserials

Grity, Sexy, Glamorous Rock

Irving Plaza

09/19/09

The simple joys in life are sometimes few and far between. We all live real lives; work, stress, boredom and the obligations we’re attached to can often make a sincerely good night out almost impossible to identify and even worse rarely accomplished.

But there’s something about music that seems to break that pattern and music live  in one of the greatest cities in the world; NYC only furthers that sentiment.

Last night had all the right ingredients for the great show it turned out to be; fair weather, good venue, great sound system, nice fans and three talented artist to share the experience of live music with.

At 9:00pm the first of three acts went on stage: The Ettes. The Ettes are what rock and roll is made out of. Their the fundamental core of the slightly aloof but, always caring glare that rock music embodies. Fronted by ‘Coco’ a small and very polite front-woman who on stage doesn’t need to strut and dance around to keep ones attention. From the moment she takes the mic in hand or here telecaster you know she has something to say and whether you want to or not you’re going to hear it. The Ettes music is punctuated by her distinct style of singing and the driving groan of some raw and energetic bass playing. The fuse of the crunching rhythm and her innocent sounding but, sneering delivered voice is a paradox in itself. The songs rage and the addition of a drummer who is merciless only makes the primal rage that more real.

The greatest thing about the Ettes is that their not something you couldn’t see, not on stage. They are the kind of band that seems to have just arrived from practice in their garage and are doing it from memory. There’s somewhat of a reckless abandon that makes the listener wonder: ‘did they just mess up? Or was that just something clever’. Odd time changes, feedback in strange places and possibly, a missed note. Either the Ettes are doing it all by luck or they’ve got it down better than most and I’d place my bet on saying it’s the latter for sure.

With just enough time to enter back into reality from the Ettes, American Bang set up on stage and began, what could only be described as, the purest or rock sets. This wasn’t my first experience with American Bang, they had opened for the Pretenders in January this year. There’s something about this band that is just damned sexy. Four guys from Nashville putting on a show that is just rock and roll; full of the tumultuous emotions of life, the hypocritical mind thoughts of the average person and the ever present struggle to just get it right. American Bang simply gets ‘it’.

Mainstream music keeps going on about things not real, a fantasy world we strive to live in but, this is about the world we do live in and what it means to be apart of it as an imperfect being. American Bang is not sentimental about it at all, they rock out all the varying emotions with a dash of swagger that makes them look like experts but, with a dose of vulnerability that makes them look like they still don’t understand the complexities of average life. That sometimes, the mundane is the most perplexing conundrum. All that being said they’re also amazing because they’re drop-your-camera-and-holler good. They differ from the Ettes in that they have a musicality that is more matured, they know how to put a nice sounding song together. Something that could get stuck in your head, but it’s never something you could simply hum, that driving bass, the pounding drumming and the raw realness of Jared’s voice implore you to get up and do it as good as them or at least with that amount of energy.

It also helps that these aren’t four guys who are bad to look at. Often the musical experience is akin to sex for me. Not that it’s physically as pleasing or something to that effect but, its because when you see an artist live, their either going to stand on stage and get naked in front of you or hide something from you. If they’re doing ti right, you should leave the show feeling as if you’ve seen them in their most powerful, vulnerable and enjoyable moments and if they’re doing it wrong, you feel as if you don’t know what they are. American Bang did it right. They’re so open on stage with it all, they hold nothing back, they stand on stage and let it rip. Their incredibly sexy because they give it to the audience in the purest way, there’s nothing pretentious here about their act, you can see it in their eyes, they’re still four guys from Nashville, just now they’re playing music for you. They’ve got the perfect balance of energy, knowing just when to pull it back so it doesn’t become something else. If the Ettes were a great example of raw ‘new’ rock, American Bang is the perfect example of fine tuned, understated rock. The kind of rock that can declare the hardest of heartbreak then make a offhand comment and go back to playing hard.

American Bang is one of our premiere bands today. Put down Fall Out Boy and Greenday turn off, Gym Class Heroes and Incubus, American Bang is where the real music is at and they will prove it to you everytime.

So it’s time For Juliette Lewis, whom I’ve also already seen and also from opening the Pretenders on their tour. I’m already aware that the experience I’m about to have is going to be different than that of American Bang and the Ettes. Lewis is anything but, understated, raw, new Rock. She and her band are a well polished machine that has to be seen to believe, and thats no exaggeration.

Lewis is a firecracker, her energy is endless, from start to finish she’s strutting, jerking rigidly and berating her audience with her sharp vocals. Juliette is full of this energy that is awkward to watch, akin to the humorous and odd dancing of Elaine Benes on Seinfeld but, that’s the good thing! Her awkwardness makes for a show thats +1, the music is there (and I’ll go more into in a moment) but her spectacle of simply loving being on stage is enough to ensure a good time already. You like that she’s wierd in ways because in all actuality a lot of us who love music are wierd ourselves. All three bands served as a reflection of the audience, if it was the Ettes raw and nonchalant rage or American Bangs sexual but, introverted expression of life or finally Juliette Lewis’ awkward screaming and dancing expressing, want, need desire and disgust its all somewhere we’ve all been to before. Lewis knows how to play her angle, she doesn’t pretend to be musical at all. She’s a frontwoman with a voice but, she knows that her role is to keep the energy going in front of this band that is essentially on fire the entire time.

Juliette Lewis offers a paradox that only someone in music could do: Lewis is the most expendable part of her band, yet if she weren’t there it wouldn’t be the same at all. Her voice isn’t the ‘best’ (though it’s not bad either) and she doesn’t play an instrument but, her ENERGY is like the fifth member of the band. She’s a smart enough woman to surround herself with a band that knows what its doing so that she may be able to get off with doing her thing the best she can, and if one didn’t exist the other wouldn’t be as interesting.

There’s not much else I can say about Lewis, as I prefaced this section you have to see it to believe it. Her energy is truly only rivaled by that of Sharon Jones of Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings and even then it’s a totally different sort of energy.

Here are a few outstanding points:

Maria aka ‘pony’ from the Ettes is a terrific drummer, she has to be mentioned again and again she has something about her that is undeniable. She literally reminds me of the muppet: ‘Animal’ of The Muppets. Her hair is flying around and she is an (with the most respect and she knows this) animal on the drums.

Irving Plaza: if you ever get the chance go see a show there, its small fun and loud. That and Highline Ballroom are the two best venues in NYC

American Bang totally nice guys, thanks to Jared and Ben especially for treating us so nicely after the show.

Juliette’s band is amazing, go see this band they are furious and unrelenting like Juliette herself.

In closing I’ll say most of all, I enjoyed American Bang Juliette and the Ettes aren’t far behind though. I’d suggest if these bands were coming to your town or city to seriously consider going, disappointment is certainly not in order.

The Ettes: B

American Bang: A

Juliette Lewis: B+