My Top 10 Horror Movies of All Time : MYFAVORITES

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Alright, I’ll be festive and go with the Halloween shenanigans of today.

I like all kinds of movies, including a good Horror movie, but sadly that genre has more duds than truly scary ones. With that in mind, it was incredibly easy for me to compile this list of my 10 Favorite Horror Movies, because it takes a lot to scare or shock me and this group of movies are the handful of Horror Movies that elicited real reactions of horror from me.

Enjoy, and Happy Halloween!!

10. Drag Me To Hell

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This movie wasn’t SCARY per-say, but it definitely falls into that Horror category based on the voodoo-esque theme of the movie. The film follows an innocent farm-girl (Alison Lohman) who has started a new life in the big city as Banker. She has no choice but to make an executive decision about an elderly gyspsy (Lorna Raver), who in turn puts a curse on poor Christine and terror ensues. Because I have such a strange sense of humor, I found the gorey and shocking moments hilarious. Sometimes that’s my reaction to really well done terrorizing moments, and Sam Raimi did an excellent job with this movie. Though it doesn’t scare me, it is totally entertaining and I watch it pretty regularly.

9. The Omen

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This 70’s Classic is a classic for a few reasons. The idea of a demonic little boy torturing his mother so quietly and unassumingly is a chilling concept. The other reason is that the kid who was cast to play Devil-spawn Damien (Harvey Spencer Stevens) is perfect because at times you want to believe he’s a good kid underneath and most times you are scared to even look at him. The movie is also really well written, as mysteries unfold and the suspense builds. I often go years in between viewings, so I’m always intrigued and shocked at the details of the story.

8. Rosemary’s Baby

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I’ve seen this movie several times, and I always tend to react the same way. “How could he?” is one major reaction I have when watching this film about an actor who literally sells his wife to the devil to boost his career. Mia Farrow, playing the titular character, does an amazingly subtle job of being the doting wife, and takes the character in a new direction once she realizes what is what. The end scene is always chilling, like the very first time you see the movie. CLASSIC stuff!

7. Alien

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While most might dub this movie Sci-Fi, given the space travel and all that, the movie wins because it’s so suspenseful and scary. The now ICONIC character Ripley (Sigourney Weaver) watches her entire crew get picked off one by one by a beastly alien and eventually she’s stuck on this big dark spaceship with the mammoth monster. Ridley Scott is a genius, and the darkness of the cinematography just adds to the terror. We can’t forget about the classic shock-value scene when the alien is born! The rest of the “Alien” franchise went more in a Sci-Fi/Action direction, making this first one stand out because it’s so bone-chillingly terrifying.

6. The Blair Witch Project

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Kudos to Daniel Myrick and company for approaching the Horror genre in a totally original way, a way that would set the trend for future subpar horror films (*cough, “Paranormal Activity”). The film is shot on a very lo-fi camcorder to add to the idea that it’s real (something the advertising wanted the masses to believe), and it follows three Documentarians who go to a small town to investigate the Blair Witch myth. Lots of complaints came in that nothing really happened, but I remember watching this in the theater and getting chills with very small things. Like the placement of rocks, or a huge wind chill, those little things mean more in the context and worked for me. The crew eventually gets lost in the woods and the Blair Witch messes with their minds in small but significant ways, leading up the unfortunate end. I think the movie was great, I haven’t watched it in a while, but I was truly scared when watching it and I always appreciate something creative and new.

5. The Thing

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Even with the limited special effects of the time, this movie STILL grosses me out, and in a good way. The story of a crew stuck in the Antarctic with a shape-shifting, body-snatching, killer alien among them is so scary because you just never know who is who and what is what. Although it is sort of a pyschological scare, the effects are so well placed and the cast is really good at selling the fear and paranoia a situation like that would cause. Easily one of John Carpenter‘s finest moments.

4. Scream

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This 1996 flick resurrected the slasher film, and in such an intriguing and interesting way. The teenagers tormented in this small town by a mask wearing psycho killer were so cynical and immune to death and horror that they laughed at the clichés. Making the movie part comedy, but also amping up the actual horror because it always came so unexpectedly. Wes Craven did a great job, and the writing on this movie is so quick and witty and scary and gruesome. It’s amazing they were able to find the balance between the humor and horror, and that’s why it will go down as a 90’s Classic.

3. Poltergeist

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Like “Scream”, this movie combines a sense of comedy with the horrific idea of a family being haunted by evil spirits who have kidnapped their youngest child. I love the movie though because the Freeling family are set up to be so likable and down to earth, so we viewers relate to them before any of the ghostly shenanigans take place. Once they do start happening, the actors do a great job of reacting realistically (kudos to Oliver Robbins who seemed TRULY terrified during the Tree-incident). Ultimately it’s a very entertaining and fun movie, with some really terrifying effects and moments of shock.

2. The Shining

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I saw this movie last year in a theater, and when I tell you it scared me to my core… I’m not exaggerating. I was in the theater shivering and just overwhelmed with fear. The whole concept of Jack Torrance (Jack Nicholson) with his wife and kid secluded in this huge hotel during the winter is frightening enough, add the fact that the kid can hear people’s inner thoughts and see and hear grotesque ghosts in the hotel. And add the fact that Daddy Torrance is getting crazier by the moment, you’ve got a story that is bound to give you nightmares. Stanley Kubrick‘s direction is what really makes this movie so frightening. The different techniques and directorial decisions he made pay off, because as a viewer you are NEVER at ease and constantly in suspense. It’s so creepy and sinister and … well see for yourself.

1. The Exorcist

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When I was 10, I was told this was the scariest movie ever made… and I thought I could handle it. Well, I couldn’t sleep for over a week because the movie just warped my fragile little mind, and I didn’t even watch the entire thing. Years later as an adult, I have to agree that this movie is THE scariest movie, and not just because of all the head-spinning, crucifix masturbation, and projectile vomit. The movie is really scary with the unspoken and unseen elements. I have to give credit to Linda Blair who completely sold the idea that she was an innocent little girl whose body had been taken over by the devil. And Ellen Burstyn gives a KNOCK OUT performance of the worried and frightened mother, who has no choice but to call in an Exorcist to remove the devil from her daughters body. I have yet to read the book, but I’ve heard it’s even scarier than this flick, so … it might take me a while to muster up the courage to read it.

There you have it.

My Top 10 Songs of the Week “I’m Dancin’ Like a HOOOEEE” : MYFAVORITES

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10. James Blake “Overgrown”

Trying to find inspiration for my next school project. This was a start, but not the final result. Still a killer song though.

 

9. Jessie J featuring 2 Chainz “Burnin’ Up”

Finally got into Jessie’s third album “Sweet Talker” this week, it’s really good and I’m glad she FINALLY got good material to match her talent. This song is #2 on the album, and it immediately hooked me. (I predict more Jessie J songs on next weeks countdown)

 

8. Chris Brown featuring Lil Wayne and Tyga “Loyal”

I mean, this song is so infectious I can’t go too many days without listening to it at least once.

 

7. Fergie “Mary Jane Shoes”

Was on a MAJOR Fergie kick this week (as you’ll see below), and this was one of my FAVES from her solo debut.

 

6. James Blake “Life Round Here”

This was the song that really inspired an idea. I actually don’t think I’m going to use the idea for class right now, but I definitely feel that this song fits with what I eventually want to do.

 

5. Danity Kane “Bye Baby”

I started this week listening to the new DK album, and you can see my full review here. This song is so cute and catchy. Check out this video I found months ago when the song was first leaked, it’s TOO funny and it’s the only image I have when listening to the song.

 

4. Jay-Z featuring Santigold “Brooklyn Go Hard”

So I made a playlist to match my “Top 25 Kanye West Productions” list, and I was stuck on this song for a minute. It actually spurred on my mid-week Santigold kick.

 

3. Fergie “L.A.Love (La La)”

I FINALLY heard this song on the radio this past weekend, and I’m addicted.

 

2. Santigold “Lights Out”

Santigold’s debut album is THE SHIT!! One of the best debut albums of all time, and I love almost every single song. But for whatever reason I was loving the shit out of this little catchy track.

 

1. Fergie “London Bridge (Oh Shit)”

“I’m such a lady but I’m dancin’ like a HOOOE” LOL!!! GAWD, I don’t know what it was but I was LOVING this song this week. It kinda brought back really fun memories of me and a former besty, and it’s just so full of attitude and sass, AND it’s a crazy beat that I love dancing to.

R.I.P. D.K. “DK3″ is O.K. : ALBUMREVIEW

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The Danity Kane Saga is a sad one. The girls release their reunion-but-final(-probably) “DK3” album today, an album that nearly didn’t see the light of day. Danity Kane’s entire existence as a Girl Group has been filled with drama, and this blog post is partly a review of the new album, but mostly a summary of their demise their reunion and their second demise. It’s a frustrating thing because the girls had such talent and so much potential, but ego’s and BOYS and other things doomed them from the start.

In the early 2000’s, Reality TV was all about finding the next STARS. “American Idol” was the assembly line type way of finding a star, but Diddy’s “Making the Band” (after the ill-fated first season that gave us O-Town) was different because he took his time to filter out the hardworking contestants that exhibited star quality. Da Band, a Hip Hop/R&B group, was created on the first season but their second season showed how quickly money and fame go to people’s heads, so his disbanded the group.danity-kane

His next try was to find the next big Girl Group. After three seasons of rigorous auditions and recordings, Danity Kane released their self-titled debut album in 2006 which hit #1 in it’s first week.

The girls had a big debut performance in Central Park in 2006, and there was no question after watching them live that all 5 girls HAD IT. Aubrey, Aundrea, Dawn, D Woods and Shannon had the drive, the talent, the voices, and the charisma to carry this group a long way. Well, at least that’s what me and many other fans thought. Yes, their team made some questionable choices as far as singles and styling, but DK showed so much promise and delivered some really good music.

By the time their second album “Welcome to the Dollhouse” was released in 2008 (another #1 debut), the unity within the group had taken a dip. The girls separated themselves into little groups, and one meeting took the group down. From my perspective, the demise of group came from Aubrey. Her post-fame surgery was going overboard, and her ego was inflating out of this world. She also began to resent group member Dawn, who was handpicked by Diddy to join his Dirty Money outing. Aubrey’s smart mouth in that final meeting must have been Diddy’s breaking point and he ended Danity Kane.

In the years after, Dawn joined Dirty Money and released two independent EP’s and a full length album. Aubrey went the typical fame-whore route and settled on Reality TV with her own ill-fated show and a turn on “Celebrity Apprentice”, a show that displayed her smarts but also an evil side. D Woods became a go-to singer/actress for traveling plays, while working on her solo material. Shannon and Aundrea worked on music but stayed out of the spotlight.

DanityKane_2013In 2013, the girls excited ALL of their fans with an official announcement of their reunion. Though D Woods was missing from this reunion, most of the DK fans were really pleased to see this talented and upbeat group get back together. And the four girls seemed excited as well. Not even a full year later, Aundrea announced she was leaving the group to focus on family, she had become pregnant and couldn’t carry on with the rehearsals and touring. That was the beginning of the end for them and their reunion (and to me, they should have called it quits when she left because Aundrea was always the STAR of the “MTB” series and a fan favorite. She was the underdog during auditions and we ALL rooted for her and smiled heartily whenever we saw her on stage living her dreams). After Aundrea left, their lead single “Lemonade” made ZERO waves on the charts, and shortly after that, the reunion was officially over due to a physical altercation between Dawn and Aubrey.

This fight and the death of the group was not surprising given Aubrey’s antics that have been caught on film, so you can only imagine how bad she was off camera. All blame aside though, the group just couldn’t pull it together long enough to deliver the new album as a united front. But because the girls knew their fanbase was so strong, they decided to go ahead and release the album, which is available today.

danity-kane-dk3-album-coverThe album, “DK3″, is about as inventive and creative as it’s title. It’s a fairly decent album overall, with a few standout cuts from the 10 tracks available. The lyricism is pretty much basic, but the production on each track is refreshing. It’s the Hip Hop/Electronic/Pop sound that worked so well on “Dollhouse”, but in a way the sound is more scaled back and simplistic. It’s not as over-produced as some of the “Dollhouse” tracks and it works perfectly, especially on the mellow track “Roulette” and the sexy and laid back “Tell Me”. There’s a good number of uptempo dance stuff like album opener “Rhythm of Love” and my favorite track “Bye Baby”, the more Urban tinged single “Lemonade” and “All In a Day’s Work”.

The flaw in this album for me is it feels like something is missing. There’s no real collective feel to the album, and there’s not a real statement from the group of what this album is supposed to represent. This is probably because the album is incomplete. I don’t know how far they were in recording, but it almost feels like they just stopped their sessions and put whatever was finished on the album. I may be wrong, but the album doesn’t feel like an ALBUM (if that makes sense), it feels more like a fan-composed playlist.

Of course me and all the DK fans are happy the girls decided to release the album, now we don’t have to wonder what might have been. And at the end of the day, it’s worth a purchase. The girls still have it, the backing harmonies and melodies are impeccable and are evidence of the amazing vocal skills they’ve always had. I have gripes (don’t the melodies on “Pieces” remind everyone of Aaliyah’s 2000 “I Don’t Wanna”) but overall it’s an entertaining outing, an appropriate enough end to a group that could have gone so much further.

Grade: B-  Best: Bye Baby, Roulette, Rhythm of Love

Justin Simien shows major potential with “Dear White People” : MOVIE REVIEW

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The highly buzzed about “Dear White People” had it’s national release this past weekend, and the movie was well worth the wait. The hilarious viral campaigns that have flooded the net promised a funny, biting, social commentary about the state of the US and it’s race issues. The movie didn’t disapoint, as those short videos and meme’s only scratched the surface of what Director, Writer, Producer and all around awesome visionary Justin Simien wanted to accomplish with this film.

Tessa Thompson as Samantha White - the voice behind "Dear White People"

Tessa Thompson as Samantha White – the voice behind “Dear White People”

The main feeling I was left with was one of joy that Simien got a chance to have his voice heard with this movie. You get the feeling that Simien has some amazing work ahead of him, because the characters in “White People” are so diverse, detailed, complex , intelligently written and REAL that makes it certain that Simien has more than enough material for some interesting movies down the line. There is no doubt that he can provide that interesting and new perspective that Hollywood NEEDS.

On top of that he’s a skilled filmmaker, which “Dear White People” proves. There was so much going on in the film, I actually feel like I need to watch it a second time to do a proper analysis. It’s understandable that so much was crammed into the movie, because Simien was trying to get a point across. A very big and broad scope had to be covered, and as difficult a task that is I have to congratulate him for getting everything in there and still maintaining a plot that was easy to follow.

“White People” takes place at Winchester University, a prestigious fictitious college dominated by white students (eh, like most colleges) and a spattering of blacks and other ethnicities. The film begins with tension about a new policy that forces students to randomly select the Houses they will live in, which the black students take offense to because it seems like it’s an undercover way to  break up black culture in the school. While some of the white students are more concerned about their annual Halloween party and what the theme should be. All of this results in rallies, confrontations, misunderstandings and ultimately a riot. In between, the main characters go through typical College growing pains of identity, fitting in, dating and the like.

Tyler James Williams as Lionel Higgins, the awkward gay student I completely related to.

Tyler James Williams as Lionel Higgins, the awkward gay student I completely related to.

So, what did Simien want to say to white people? I think a lot of it has to do with the varying degrees of black characters in the movie.  There’s Lionel (Tyler James Williams) a nerdy gay black gay who has a history of being tormented by other black kids, and is currently being tormented by his white house mates. On a personal note, I so related to this character and his aversion to trying to change himself to fit into a group, although he wants so desperately to fit in. Which leads him to some questionable reporting for the school’s paper and the sleazy editor George (Brandon Alter).

There’s Coco (Tyonah Parris), the bougie girl from the Southside of Chicago who wants to escape her “ghetto” roots and find herself a “Gosling” (white boy). Troy (Brandon T. Bell) is the son of the Dean of Students (Dennis Haysbert) who is on track to become the next Obama, although what he really likes to do is write jokes and smoke weed when no one is looking. And of course there’s Sam (Tessa Thompson), the half black voice of the College radio station and creator of the controversial “Dear White People” segment of her broadcast. She’s the rebellious one, but she hides A LOT about herself from her league of supporters.

Tyonah Parris does an amazing acting job as the bougie Coco Conners

Tyonah Parris does an amazing acting job as the bougie Coco Conners

It’s great that the movie presented all of these different archetypes of black people, as a way to say “We are not all the same, We all don’t think a like, We even have different thoughts and views on race issues”. In the end, the main point is to show that even with the different similarities, these characters all have the same basic wants and needs. The films presents these characters who are really unsure of themselves and their motivations, as outside forces are convincing them they need to be this or that. What they all really want is to be understood for the people they are on the inside.

The entire cast does an excellent job in making Winchester feel real. The stand out performances come from Bell and Parris who are the two characters (imo) with the most internal conflict about what they SHOULD be and who they want to be. Funny thing is, with all the complex qualities about each character, they are all likable.

Like I said earlier, the film needs multiple viewings because there is so much to cling to, each character is so detailed that they’d make interesting lead characters on their own. Even Kurt (Kyle Gallner), the son of the President (Peter Syvertsen) and the obvious villain, clearly has some inner issues that weren’t really delved into, I’d be interested to know more about him. Same goes for every single character, because at the end the viewer is so invested in their lives that we want to know what happens next.

So yeah, Justin Simien has become my new Idol. He weaved some very interesting characters with great writing, great jokes, and great commentary on the state of the US and race.  I look forward to hearing more from his unique voice.

My Top 10 Songs of the Week “Jus’ Like Toothpassste” : MYFAVORITES

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HAPPY FRIDAY!!! Have a GREAT Weekend!!! GO GIANTS!!!

10. A$AP Rocky featuring Drake, Kendrick Lamar and 2 Chainz “Fuckin’ Problems”

 

9. Gwen Stefani “Orange County Girl”

 

8. Lorde “Royals”

 

7. Danity Kane featuring Tyga “Lemonade”

 

6. OneRepublic “Counting Stars”

 

5. Maroon 5 “Animals”

 

4. Rich Gang featuring Young Thug and Rich Homie Quan “Lifestyle”

 

3. Chris Brown featuring Lil Wayne and Tyga “Loyal”

 

2. Gwen Stefani “Baby Don’t Lie”

 

1. Chris Brown featuring Usher and Rick Ross “New Flame”

“The Aviator” Trailer, The Revision : MULTIMEDIAARTS

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Hey, so I uploaded something to YouTube earlier today and I thought I’d go ahead and share it.

Now if you remember my post this past Summer, about me being in that Video Editing class. In that blog post I had three videos, one of which was a trailer for Martin Scorsese’s epic “The Aviator”. That was actually my Final project in the class, and I think I told you guys I was unhappy with it and wanted to try to revise it.

Well, I went ahead and did it and I want you to see it.

So now that you’ve seen it, I guess I should talk about what went into doing this revision and what I’m happy and unhappy about still.

If you watch my first trailer (which looks like a sloppy first draft at this point), you might notice that it was a bit rushed. A lot of the transitions are really sloppy, the text crawl is super basic, and the music is one note and boring. I think what bothered me the most about the original one I did is the time stretch sequences (mostly towards the end), which look incredibly cheap.

However I must pat myself on the back for the first draft, because I literally completed it from start to finish in probably 4 hours total. I ended up getting an A in the class, but I was super-disappointed with the result.

So moving on to the NEW trailer. I won’t go into the gritty details of the process, I just knew a couple of things I wanted to change going into it. Music was key, I wanted something about flying or being in the clouds or the sky. I had chosen a few songs initially (John Legend’s “So High” and Rihanna’s “Get It Over With”), but once I actually started editing I decided on two different songs. Here I used The Wombat’s “Jump into the Fog”, a song I fell in love with last year. The spur of the moment change ended up being a perfect match, especially how the opening of the song is PERFECT to the footage I used.

The use of Kanye’s “Touch the Sky” was a very last minute decision, but I love how it fits in. It’s a change in vibe and tone that was necessary, and I love how certain parts match up with the lyrics (“come up in the spot looking extra fly” when Leo swags his way towards screen). I have to say, Audio and the levels is something I need to master, because I can’t seem to figure out what to do in regards to lowering the music track to accommodate for the dialogue (I’ll be in Sound Design next semester though, so hopefully that will help).

The next big thing for me to improve upon was the text. I hate the text I used in the first draft, and the teacher’s feedback was saying that I should avoid using black backgrounds in the middle of a trailer because it takes you out of the mood. So I worked (semi) hard on the text on this new trailer. I have to tell you all, it took me FOREVER to decide on exactly what the text would say. What I ended up with is close to my original idea, but I went through so many different changes in that text to the point where I almost didn’t include text at all.

I am pleased with what I finally decided on, and the flow of the text. I especially love “to touch the sky” and how the plane and the text seem to dance with each other. There is one small glitch on “A Man who knows no limits” (the opacity goes down, then back up for a milli-second, then back down), but overall I love the text.

So after the music and the text, it was just an issue of dropping the right footage in, which is really the easy part of Video Editing.

So yeah, that’s pretty much it. I hope you enjoy, and hope someone can provide some feedback on my improvements.

My next two projects (which are now personal projects, because I don’t have another video editing class until Spring semester) will be Pixar’s “Brave” and another Scorsese/Dicaprio collab “Wolf of Wall Street”. “Brave” was one of the movies in my Video Editing package, but I didn’t want to use it until I heard a particular song that I felt would fit perfectly with the movie. And I just had a random/out-of-nowhere idea for a “Wolf” trailer and I hope I can execute what I’m thinking. Those should be done and up in the next two weeks (I HAVE the Adobe Creative Cloud on my personal laptop now).

For now, enjoy what I have. I am taking Photoshop and After Effects classes this semester and I expect to post my work online – including this blog where I’ll be able to go into detail about my edu-ma-cation! #STAYTUNED

My Top 10 Songs of the Week “Hush, Hush, Darlin'” : MYFAVORITES

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HAPPY FRIDAY!!!

Are you guys even interested in my descriptions per song? I haven’t done them in a while, mainly because I have pressed for time (end of the fiscal year at work, hella paperwork and shizz). Just wondering if you guys even want to know any of the details on WHY certain songs made the lists on a given week. If not I’ll just post the songs, If so I’ll make more of an effort.

In the mean time, I’m going to write little descriptions on specific songs this week and then if you guys COMMENT (COMMENT COMMENT COMMENT COMMENT COMMENT, PLEASE!) than I’ll know how to proceed next week.

10. No Doubt featuring Busy Signal and Major Lazer “Push and Shove”

 

9. Melanie Fiona “4AM”

 

8. No Doubt “New”

 

7. Kanye West featuring Rick Ross “Devil in a New Dress”

 

6. Julian Casablancas + The Voidz “Father Electricity”

 

5. No Doubt “Don’t Speak”

You know those songs that were BIG hits in their day, and sometimes you don’t want to be bothered listening to it years later because it’s like “I’ve already heard that song 59 Bajillion times when it was hot!” Well, No Doubt’s CLASSIC song “Don’t Speak” is one of those… and even though I was going through a big No Doubt/Gwen Stefani kick I avoided the song. On Saturday though I let it play, and it’s a CLASSIC for a reason. GREAT lyrics, GREAT arrangements, GREAT vocals. Perfection.

 

4. Beyonce “Halo”

 

3. Cage the Elephant “Come a Little Closer”

This group Rocks! I got into their sophomore album “Thank You, Happy Birthday“, and last year when their third album “Melophobia” was released I Spotify’d that shit and enjoyed it. However I hadn’t really thought about them until I was up late one night and happened to catch them on HBO’s “Guitar Center Sessions” and they performed this song and it brought up good memories about the band. I think this song is so cool.

 

2. Julian Casablancas + The Voidz “M.Utually A.Ssured D.Estruction”

 

1. Coldplay “Yellow”

Hooked on “How to Get Away with Murder” (and how it handles racial equality) : TV REVIEW

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For the past month, Thursday nights on ABC have been renamed #Shonda-land because the power house writer and producer Shonda Rhimes is behind the entire lineup. And one can’t help but to be proud of Rhimes, even though I detest “Grey’s Anatomy” and not really all that into “Scandal”, you have to give credit where it’s due. Rhimes, a black woman, is making waves on a major network and has power in an industry that normally shuts women and blacks out.

Viola-Davis-and-the-cast-of-How-To-Get-Away-With-Murder_article_story_largeHer latest show “How to Get Away with Murder” might have me hooked already. Even though I’m not normally a “crime drama” type of person, “Murder” has a real addictive quality to it that makes me want to tune in every week. (Though I normally watch it on the weekends because 10pm is kind of late for me lol!).

Before I get into the addictive details of the show, I want to preface by saying I intended to write about a very specific and small portion of the show. I’ll get to that later, but for now let’s talk about what goes on in “Murder”.

The series follows Annalise Keating (played so intensely by Viola Davis) a hard-ass defense lawyer and law professor, this woman has a very cynical view of humans and seems to doubt everything. The show started (sort of) at the beginning of a new semester when she announces to her class that she plans to chose 5 students that will work for her firm.

Keating takes on a different murder case each week, and so far her track record is flawless. However, the actual murder cases are not what makes this show so intriguing. One of the main draws for me is the side stories of the 5 students and Professor Keating herself that add a little extra sense of personality, humor and mystery.

There’s Michaela (Aja Naomi King), the head strong pretty girl who is determined to become the next Michelle Obama. Laurel (Karla Souza) who is struggling to find her lawyer voice, and definitely has a crush on Keating’s employee Frank (Charlie Weber). Wes (Alfred Enoch) the uber-naive “wait list” kid who is almost unbelievably innocent. He has the hots for his drug dealing next door neighbor (Katie Findlay), a side story that has connected to this weeks case. Even Asher (Matt McGory), the semi-douchey guy of the group, is a great asset to the show since he provides all the comic relief. These characters are interesting, but Rhimes and company only give us small peaks into their lives, which makes the viewer want to know even more about them, which leads viewers to their addiction to the show.

shonda_rhimes_how_to_get_away_with_murderNow, Viola Davis does a great acting job during her lecture and court scenes, but her acting chops go to a new level when her home life is slowly revealed. She’s in a marriage with a man she doesn’t quite trust or love, she has a side-boyfriend in a cop that she used in Episode 1 to win a case. And it seems she has the hots for one of her students Wes, which I’m sure that will play out before the end of the season.

There is also a parallel storyline that intrigues me. Somebody was murdered, and the students are somehow left with the responsibility of taking care of the body. Little but key details are revealed each episode about this murder that happens 3 months after the beginning of the semester. Details like who got killed (Professor Keating’s husband), and which of the students is more manipulative than previously thought (*gasp, it’s Wes). This “LOST” type quality of this “flash forwards” further hooks viewers because we want to fill in all the holes before anyone else.

So yeah, “Murder” is a good show. The acting is good, the pacing is quite fast but manages to work, and the writing is pretty inventive. (I also wanted to add, the styling for all characters but mainly Keating is PERFECTION!)

Now what I really want to talk about is small, but sometimes small differences help  to make big changes.

If you remember last year, my initial complaint about HBO’s series “Looking” was the lack of any lead Asian characters. It seemed like a horrible casting choice because San Francisco is a highly Asian populated city. So I was pleased to see Oliver (Conrad Ricamora), a really good looking Asian man who gay student Connor (Jack Falahee) seemingly used to get information on the case of the moment. It bothered me slightly that Oliver was an IT guy, but I was really surprised to see his arc went a little further when him and Connor had sex that night.

JACK FALAHEE, CONRAD RICAMORAOn the second episode, Oliver was used again by Connor, but later in the episode it seemed as if Connor was genuinely interested in Oliver, “I’m not here for work, I’m here for dinner”. Oliver rejects him at first, but reconsiders before they have yet another steamy sex scene, this time with their roles reversed.

This is a very small portion of the show, and Ricamora didn’t appear at all in the 3rd episode. It’s noteworthy though, because it’s not often you see an Asian man sexualized on mainstream television. Normally, Asian actors get stuck with the “nerdy” stereotype, where they can be smart but not sexual. So I fully applaud Rhimes and company for allowing an Asian man to be shown as desirable and HOT. Connor is what you might consider the “standard of Gay beauty” these days. He’s thin, he’s young, he’s incredibly groomed. So to have a guy like that pining for a guy like Oliver is great. This is the kind of equality I’m talking about, because… WHY NOT!?conrad-oliver-how-to-get-away-with-murder

Seeing people of different races, body types, and etc. in different lights than the stereotypes we are used to is nothing but great. Because in day to day life, not every Asian you see is a math wiz, not every big guy is on his way to Dunkin Donuts, and not every gay guy is attracted to a Tom Daley-type twink. And American viewers need to see characters that are different from the stereotypes, with the hopes that some viewers don’t pre-judge certain types of people based on the limited views they get of them on TV or elsewhere.

How do YOU listen to Music? : IMO

Flashback, 2009.

I was in a Speech class and on my first speech I talked about how much I love music and how much it means to me. In the speech I believe I said that “everybody” loves music, and the feedback from some of the other students really surprised me. Lots of people said they only casually listen to music, some even said they don’t like music at all.

This threw me because all of my life Music has been a key player. My family was big on music, and later in my adult life I bonded with so many friends over Music. The idea that not everyone felt the same way was really shocking to me. It made me feel more special about my love affair with Music, but it also made me question others. Questions like, under what circumstances do they like music? What do they listen to music for when they do listen? And how do they listen to music when it’s on? What do they pay attention to when Music is on? And what might keep them coming back to a favorite song or album?

Me analyzing other people, made me analyze the way I listen to music, which brings me to the question in the title “How do YOU listen to Music?” CasadonteAndyNoiseSynesthesia

When I hear a song for the first time, there are some things I pay attention to and listen for. Here it goes.

1) At first listen I pay attention to the overall arrangement, making sure the melodies and harmonies fit with the production and the vocals. Lyrics aren’t necessarily the first thing I zone into – unless it’s a Singer/Songwriter type track where the words are purposely the main focus.

When listening to different genres I focus on different things. For instance, for R&B I’m listening to see if the track and melody fits – if not I’m almost always automatically turned off. R&B vocals have to be somewhat interesting for me too, unique and creative runs and phrasing will hook me. With Hip Hop I’m just listening to the track, as well the hook and how it fits. For Pop and Rock I pretty much listen to the complete production and see if it’s something I can get into.

katy-perry-teenage-dreamThere are several examples of a song that I liked on first listen, but right now I’m thinking of Katy Perry’s “Teenage Dream” as an example of a song where all the elements work nicely together.

2) What brings me back to a song is normally something very addictive, either a catchy hook or an addictive melody. It has to be something that will stick in your head and pop up at random times in the day, like an alarm reminding you to go and listen to that song.

Recently, Maroon 5’s “Maps” had that catchy quality in the hook (“the map that leads to Yoooou”). Also Ty Dolla Sign’s “Or Nah” and the melody on the hook (“is you really bout your money or nah”). Those are things that run through my head and make me want to download and listen.ty-dolla-sign-or-nah-remix-video

3) I guess finally, a song has to go somewhere. Either the track has to have different variations, or the vocals have to be really creative. Otherwise it’s just a dull song to me, unless of course there’s ONE part that I can’t live without. Black Eyed Peas for instance (and this is retarded), that song “Just Can’t Get Enough” is terribly dull to me even when they switch up the tempo at the very end. What gets me though, “this is mega switch up… SWITCH UP”. I love that part, hence I still have that song on my iTunes.BEP-2-505x299

So now that I gave you a half-assed summary of my Music listening style. What is YOURS?

Bamboozled by “black-ish” ? : TV REVIEW

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blackish2-495x329When it comes to “black-ish“, I really wanted to love this show. I wanted to love it because it showcased black actors on a major network, which is terribly rare these days. It also promised to give a new perspective that hadn’t really been addressed on TV. After watching (and reviewing) the first episode, I though the show would give viewers insight on the mind and opinions of black people in America. A perspective I felt was a step in the right direction… because the media is a great way at opening up an ongoing dialogue about race in America. Understanding different perspectives and emotions, but in a non-threatening and light way, is the only way we can attempt at making changes.

Obviously I continued watching, and by the end of the third episode the show left a disturbing feeling in me. A feeling that my mind had changed drastically about the show, and the feeling that I had been duped.

Anthony-Anderson-and-Tracee-Ellis-Ross-in-Black-ish_article_story_largeOn my previous review, I mentioned that something in the resolution of the episode left me feeling uneasy. In the premiere, star Anthony Anderson was upset that he could only go SO FAR at his advertising firm because he was black. He was upset and acted out, and then his wife played by Tracee Ellis-Ross told him “You need to get over it”, almost saying his complaints were trivial.

In the context of the episode (he had rebelled and was about to possibly lose his job), I somewhat understood where she was coming from, though the line struck me because it felt like she was saying his issues about race were dumb and he (as in WE the black people) need to get over it. But in the hopes that this show would continue to at least address racial issues, I let it go (I got over it!)

Then the third episode happened. Anthony Anderson’s character DJ was concerned that his son didn’t do the head-nod to one of the few black kids in his school. What followed were some very mis-guided lines, specifically when DJ said something about how his children and the contemporary black community have “no struggle”. Basically saying all the race issues in the country don’t exist. Which is a delusional thought and terrible message.ANTHONY ANDERSON, LAURENCE FISHBURNE

So my complaint with the show now is this. If Anthony Anderson’s character is supposed to be the voice of Black America, than it feels like every week he has a complaint and by the end of the episode he realizes that he was over-thinking things and needs to let it go. So, Black America… STOP COMPLAINING!!!

I’ve brought up racial stuff a few times before on this blog, mainly targeting the media because I really do have an eye for that kind of thing. And if you bring up any kind of racial inequality to a white person … 8 times out of 10 they are going to say you are just pulling the “race card” and that the issues aren’t real.

To me, “black-ish” makes white viewers feel like they are right about us black people. When I say that, I mean that those white people who constantly write off black peoples complaints as “pulling the race card” are vindicated in watching this show. That us Black people complain for no reason and need to just “let it go”. Which is the complete opposite of what I thought this show was setting out to do.

But, here’s the thing. “black-ish” has a GREAT time slot. “Modern Family” is one of my favorite shows, and I try not to miss it on Wednesdays. Because “black-ish” comes on right after that, I may go ahead and keep watching it… but i will be side-eyeing it.

Look, the show has some occasionally good gags and a good cast. I’ll admit to laughing hysterically here and there at every episode. I just think this show I first thought would HELP things is actually more damaging than it is good.

I sincerely hope this all made sense. I get this feeling sometimes that I’m not good with my words and can confuse people trying to understand what I’m saying. I will fulfill my #P2P and talk a little about “How To Get Away with Murder” tomorrow. 

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