Month: September 2008

“A gut wrenching day for The ClayNation”

“A gut wrenching day for The ClayNation”

People
I'll start off by stating that I don't care that Clay Aiken has finally decided to let us in on the painfully obvious - he's gay.  I'm offended not by his sexual orientation (I am a huge fan of Queen and Judas Priest after all), but rather by his mediocre and boring music.  But while Aiken's revelation met with a resounding "meh" from most of the American public, there is a subset of the population - self-titled ClayMates - who have had a hard time keeping the old stiff upper lip, as it were. Here's a sampling of dispatches from deep inside ClayNation - The Clayboard forums.  Read and weep, my friends: "This is a gut wrenching day for The ClayNation. Somebody wake me up, I hope its a dream." - strollynn63 "I wish him well and hope he gets some peace of mind now BUT I feel he lied to
Can Heroes win back my love?

Can Heroes win back my love?

TV & Radio
I didn't write about Heroes much (at all) last season, and for good reason.  After a brilliant debut, the second season pretty much redefined "letdown".  You know this, the fans know this, and even creator Tim Kring knows this.  So the show's third volume - "Villains", which debuted with two episodes last night - is crucial to the success of the third season and the show's future. It's going to take some time for me to really immerse myself back into the world of Heroes again, but so far so good.  The balance between action and drama - draction - was just about right.  Seeing as the last new episode aired about 10 months ago, I found it surprisingly easy to pick up the show's various storylines.  That probably also has to do with some of the lamer ones being done or forgotten entirely.
Album cover of the week: Fair Warning

Album cover of the week: Fair Warning

Album Cover of the Week
One look at the grim and violent imagery on 1981's Fair Warning, and you know that this isn't your typical Van Halen album.  In truth, Eddie Van Halen almost quit the band prior to its recording and had to be talked out of it by brother Alex.  The tensions amongst the band revealed themselves in a set of songs that was far darker than anything on the three previous albums, and is probably the reason why it was the lowest-selling VH album of the David Lee Roth era. The artwork is, I feel, quite reflective of the inner turmoil the band was undergoing.  Whether or not it actually came to blows I don't know, however. Credit for this rather sinister and memorable artwork goes to the late William Kurelek (1927-1977), a Canadian artist and author.  Kurelek painted "The Maze" - the work
View-Master’s 1952 New York City – 4 of 4

View-Master’s 1952 New York City – 4 of 4

Ephemera, History
And so we've come to the final installment of our second trip through time, via View-Master.  So hop on the tour bus and take a ride to Washington Square... Located in the famous Greenwich Village neighborhood of Manhattan, Washington Square Park has an interesting history.  It was the site of a Native American village until it was taken by force by the Dutch; they in turn gave the land to freed slaves, earning it the nickname "Land of the blacks." These former slaves owned the land from 1643-1664. Fast forward to 1797, when the area - still farmland - was purchased for use as a burial ground.  The cemetery once housed there was closed in 1825, but even today there are 20,000 bodies that call the Square home (creepy!). Fast forward again, to 1889, and that's when the arch show
Album review: Metallica – Death Magnetic

Album review: Metallica – Death Magnetic

Music
Here's the dirty little secret that both fans and detractors of Metallica seem to forget from time to time.  Rather than being a faceless musical entity, they're really just four human beings who have grown and changed a great deal since 1983.  And don't tell anyone, but so have their fans (well, most of them)! I was just shy of 13 years old when ...And Justice for All came out in 1988.  Imagine if I conducted my daily affairs as if I were still in junior high school.  How far do you think I'd get in life?  Not very far, right?  So why is it that it's perfectly OK for people who grew up, grew older, and matured as people while listening to Metallica seem so unwilling to allow the band to do the same? OK, I think I've made my point.  Now onto Death Magnetic. Plain and simple, this
Something about the duality of man

Something about the duality of man

Music
And here we have a pair of videos that show both the peak and valley of man's creative energies.  Or something like that.  Up first is a translated version of a freestyle rap battle between a pair of erudite young fellows named "Boost" and "Hydrogen" gone horribly wrong - although you could argue that it was horribly wrong to begin with... Rap Battle Gone Bad Translated - Watch more free videos I was originally just going to post this, but I feel I have to help restore balance to the universe so here's the legendary Marvin Gaye performing his 1968 hit "I Heard It Through the Grapevine".  The twist here is that someone isolated his studio vocal track and dubbed it into a TV performance with the broadcast audio removed.  Listen closely and you'll hear the effortless work of a musical
Brand new Quantum of Solace trailer will rock your world

Brand new Quantum of Solace trailer will rock your world

Movies
I caught a bit of GoldenEye over the weekend and was reminded of how much the 007 franchise was just going through the motions even long before Pierce Brosnan's arrival.  Casino Royale went a long way toward restoring the vitality and enjoyment of watching James Bond, and it looks as if Quantum of Solace will continue that positive direction. Don't believe me?  Just watch the newest trailer: See what I mean?  That shot of Bond falling through the glass ceiling at the 1:24 mark is awesome all by itself.  In conclusion - Daniel Craig owns this role and you know it.  But if he ever gets killed I'm fairly confident Judi Dench could kick some ass too.
Album cover of the week: Aja

Album cover of the week: Aja

Album Cover of the Week
(March 2011 update — Greetings Reddit users! Feel free to stick around, just remember to use a coaster.) Steely Dan consistently suffered from some of the ugliest artwork of the '70s, but pulled it together for their 1977 hit album, Aja.  This brilliantly simple image belied the alluringly complex music contained within. The songs on Aja (pronounced Asia) have been dissected and examined countless times over the last 30 years, so I'm giving this great artwork its due.  According to Wikipedia, the name Aja belonged to the Korean wife of Donald Fagen's friend's brother.  I'm not sure if that's true but it sounds plausible, so I'll pretend it is. Credit for the cover image goes to Hideki Fujii, who took this striking photo of model/actress Sayoko Yamaguchi.
Six songs from Death Magnetic now available for streaming

Six songs from Death Magnetic now available for streaming

Music
The buzz behind Metallica's new album, Death Magnetic, continues to build prior to its September 12 worldwide release.  This is easily the most hyped Metallica released since, well, St. Anger.  The stream represents 60% of the final 10-song product, an unexpected amount of accessibility for the band.  Here's what you'll hear when you visit their site: "The Day That Never Comes" - Decent for the first 4 minutes, then it gets much better.  And hey, a Kirk Hammett solo! "My Apocalypse" - Pretty kickass I must say.  Reminds me a lot of "Dyers Eve". "Cyanide" - I've heard this one the most, and it's growing on me.  Love that drum/bass bit at the beginning and the end.  Very reminiscent of the Black Album era. "All Nightmare Long" - CHUGGA CHUGGA CHUGGA CHUGGA CHUGGA RRRRRRRRRAAAAAAAAA