Monday, November 28, 2011

Tha Carter IV vs. Watch the Throne

C'mon, should this even be a competition? Lil' Wayne hasn't been innovative for years. I guess I should be starting this out with some sort of introduction sorta giving the rundown on the rappers themselves or giving some history or something, but I'm just annoyed that no one else seems to notice that Lil' Wayne has been wallowing in mediocrity for years now. I mean I am not gonna argue that Watch the Throne is some sort of rap masterpiece or anything, but Tha Carter IV doesn't even give it a run for its money.

Tha Carter IV represents Lil' Wayne's trademark incomprehensibility devolving into boredom. Remember when he was the most quotable man in rap? I mean he was pushing the envelope. He still sounds the same, but the quirky lyrics are rote by now. Whereas Jay-Z and Kanye stick with fairly traditional rap, but find ways to make it new. Listen to Kanye's production on "Otis". Sampling soul records is a game he's been playing since The College Dropout, but listen to the way the sample doubles back on itself behind Jay's rapping! It's got the hits ("Niggas In Paris") but it keeps working to push the envelope forward too. If the two albums show anything, it's that some gimmicks (like Lil' Wayne's shtick) grow old, and classic sample-based New York rap never does.

They're both better than Based God and stuff, though. At least they're both still making rap albums instead of the whole "just release a single that's everywhere and then disappear" Soulja Boy approach. And you know who else sucks? Waka Flocka. Man, this is just depressing me about the state of rap. This is why we should be thankful for Jay and Kanye. It's hard to find guys still working at it.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Sex and Pop Music

Pop music has never been known for its subtlety – part of what makes the biggest songs big is their shock value, a tradition Madonna, Elvis, and Eminem all kept going honorably. One thing we can expect to see over time, then, is pop music slowly becoming less and less overt and more and more openly sex-crazed as time goes by.

One does have to question, though, how the pop music of tomorrow is going to be less subtle than the pop music of today, "Sexy and I Know It", or the pop music of five minutes ago, Enrique Iglesias' "Tonight (I'm F***king You)". While the LMFAO track, "Sexy and I Know It", has a goofy charm to it, Enrique's proclamation (he's f***ing you) has almost a creepy sort of vibe to it. While LMFAO focus more on their own sexiness, "Tonight (I'm F***ing You)" is just a blunt, open statement. It's happening tonight. You know it, I know it, and Enrique Iglesias knows it. Where do we go from here?

If there's any lesson to be learned from this sort of thing, it's that pop never really changes. It's all sex. Wild, crazy, heedless sex, from Elvis shaking his hips all the way down to you being Enrique Iglesias' next conquest. Is this a bad thing? Not necessarily. The only worry is that it will get so unsubtle that pop starts give up on songs and just start filming themselves in bed.

Tuesday, November 8, 2011

Cars 2 Zooms in Blu

Cars 2, the Blu-ray disk, keeps all your favorite characters from Cars, while adding some great new ones. It shows the Cars in a more personified way than ever before. You can see them going shopping, eating at restaurants, and traveling all around the world. They even get to use technologies in the movie that only top agencies of the real world would have access to.

Cars from all over the world are introduced, each looking in ways that portray where they are from. Not just the cars, but even the new planes, trains, and ships made for the movie are showing their patriotism. Along with showing their true colors, Cars 2 lets the audience see the more elegant side of Cars. We finally leave Radiator Springs to party the nights away with the rich and famous cars.

Get ready to race through Japan, Italy, and France in the World Grand Prix with your favorite cars. Lightening McQueen is feeling the pressure from his new Italian rival, Francesco Bernoulli. While Mater returns, funnier than ever, and dealing with a case of mistaken identity that has him in his own race against his first real rivals.

The addition of espionage to the Cars world spices things up, giving Mater a bigger role in this second movie than in the first. It also adds mystery and introduces a love interest for Mater along the journey. The spy scenes remind you of a bunch of old spy movies of spies such as James Bond and Jason Bourne.

On top of all that, the movie incorporates and encourages Going Green in the story line. Definitely a great movie parents would want kids and even teens to watch.

The production team did a great job in animating the different countries, thinking of every detail to include making it seem as real as possible. From the big skyscrapers, to the paper lanterns and other decorations, even the music used in each scene changes according to which country they are in. They really captivated the essence of the people unique to each different country.

The bonus features included two short films around five minutes each: Hawaiian Vacation and Air Mater. Hawaiian vacation is based on the Toy Story 3, and how Ken and Barbie’s relationship is advancing. Air Mater, on the other hand, is just like one of the small segments from Disney Channel called Mater’s Tall Tales, in which Mater tells Lightening McQueen crazy stories about his past that no one can believe are true. And this time, Mater claims to have learned how to fly like a plane.

The director commentary is always a must have in all movies. It gives insightful information about movie production, the idea for the movie, and how it was made. It also talked about how Cars 2 is different and similar to Cars.

This movie took complete advantage of the amazing quality of Blu-ray. The picture quality is great, it feels like you are witnessing the events in person, not through a TV screen.

I highly recommend this movie. It is a great family movie, and even teens will get a kick out of the comedy and espionage.

Monday, November 7, 2011

The American Dream

"Super Nintendo, Sega Genesis

When I was dead broke, man I couldn't picture this

50 inch screen, money green leather sofa

Got two rides, a limousine with a chauffeur"

-The Notorious B.I.G, "Juicy"

Jay-Z was, by all accounts, a poor bastard for a long time. He grew up in the mean streets of New York, sold crack and hustled for what money he got, and fought to survive on a day-to-day basis. So is it any surprise that when he became a multimillionaire rap star, he spent a lot of lyrical time reflecting on his rise to the top?

In the #OccupyWallStreet era, the idea that American ingenuity and hard work can take the lowest beggar to the top of a capitalistic empire is at an all-time low in popularity. The only idealists left are rappers. The Notorious B.I.G, Jay-Z, the many members of the Wu-Tang Clan – these are poor, disenfranchised black men, given nothing from society, who worked their way to the top and now pull in millions of dollars (except Biggie, of course). That's the American Dream, the classic Horatio Alger story in action. Hell, Jay even named his record company after Rockefeller!

Yet rappers are decried for their violent, misogynistic lyrics. Admittedly chivalry isn't the modern rap star's strong suit, but that's not what capitalism is about! When the top one percent of America controls 40 percent of the wealth, the fact that a regular Joe from the streets with a pocket full of weed and a microphone can be a multimillionaire and married to Beyonce in ten years is one of the last exponents of classic free enterprise. Those who criticize rappers on moral grounds should instead embrace them on economic ones. After all, one of the only parts of the American cultural identity that dwarfs violence and misogyny is a dedication to free enterprise. Put simply, we've always had the disdain for hoes – but take away the idea that you can be no one and then be someone, and you've taken away that x-factor that makes America the great country it is.

Thursday, August 18, 2011

A Summer in Washington, D.C.

Politics, journalism and shopping. My three favorite things. Fortunately, I spent a month of my summer in D.C. and got to experience all three in the best way possible.
From July 1- July 14, I stayed on campus at American University and drowned myself in the world of journalism and communications. I took 2 courses: Professional News writing and Advanced Video Production.
In my news writing class, we were taught by a former writer for USA Today and even got to take a field trip to the HQ in Virginia to see the process of creating a newspaper.
In my video production class, myself and 8 other students created separate documentaries for the Smithsonian Museum on the Big Bang. While doing so, I interviewed an astrophysicist from NASA.
Besides from just work, I was able to meet friends that shared the same interests as I did. We got to go to the Eastern Market to shop for handmade jewelry and crafts and got to experience different cultures through food and local music festivals.
After the journalism program, I spent the other 2 weeks at George Washington University, taking part in a community service and politics based program through BBYO, a jewish youth group.
The first day of our program, we went out to a local park and spoke to homeless people and shared some items with them, such as socks. Hearing their stories was enlightening and definitely changed the perspective we took toward homelessness. One of the most interesting things we learned was that even if you don't have any spare change, just a smile or a greeting can brighten up anyones day.
Another aspect of the program was working at a service site. My service sight was called Bright Beginnings, which is a free daycare center for homeless children. The children were not only happy and cheerful, but they were kind and innocent- just like any other child you may meet.
The next part of the program was lobbying our senators. The group of Florida kids, about 10 of us, went to meet with Senator Marco Rubio's Legislative Correspondent. I chose to speak about the Cut, Cap and Balance Act, which ended up being dropped in Congress the following day.

Overall, my summer in D.C. encompassed my favorite things. I was able to learn a lot about homelessness, journalism, poverty, politics, culture and especially myself- as I was able to meet new people and share new experiences.

Saturday, July 16, 2011

If every day was summer, it wouldn't be special

Summer is the time every kid, teen, and college student look forward to. It's the time to relax and just enjoy lazy days with the people you love the most. Don't you wish every single day would be a day of summer? I don't.

I know. Crazy, right?

But, think about it. What keeps you motivated during those endless months of homework, tests and life?


It's the thought of summer that keeps you from neglecting your responsibilities.
It's the, "I need to pass math this year, so I don't end up in summer school, and miss out on the days of much needed relaxation," thought that keeps you going.

Don't get me wrong, summer is great. It supplies you with those memories you think about when you're sitting in the back of math class counting down the days until the much needed break.

So, I for one am looking forward to the school year. I honestly cannot wait to sit in the back of Algebra II honors thinking about all the crazy things I did these past few weeks. (Plus, who doesn't like school supply shopping. There's just something about the possibility of brand new notebooks and pencils, that I love.)

So when school starts, and you're missing summer, just be glad that in 9 months it'll be back.

And don't forget the possibilities of winter break! It's like a mini summer!

I was inspired to write this blog by the quote below from Jenny Han's Tumblr. So read it, and comment if you agree, disagree or just have a comment. (:

"There is something in particular about summer that is poignant, because we all know that when we are in summer that we are in a fleeting moment that will become part of a memory," she was saying one recent steamy day on Nantucket, when thunderstorms threatened, but thoughtfully held off until the day's end. "Memory in summer is always stronger because we need it to get through the rest of the year. You know what I mean? For me, getting things that are old or things that remind you of everyone else trying to hold on to the good life makes everything kind of deeper."

Sherry Lefevre from NY Times article “The Instant Heirloom House”

Oh & here is the link to her tumblr if you want to check it out. Jenny Han is the author of "The Summer I Turned Pretty" trilogy. (Which, if you haven't read, you NEED to. They are great!)

Tuesday, January 25, 2011

Reel Big Fish Interview!!

Me: How did you guys all form together?
RBF: Well, it’s been years in the making, some sort of process.
Me: How did you guys meet each other though?
RBF: I knew this guy in high school. He played trombone.
Me: Did you play together in a band in high school?
RBF: Yeah, we played in marching band.
We starting playing rock music together, too. For fun, in a bedroom and a friend of ours played drums.

Me: So, how did you name the band?
RBF: Well, the band name, its not a very exciting story, but the band name originated from the guys who first started the band. Aaron barrett, Matt wong, the two founding members. They wanted to call the band The Fisher Kings because there was a movie called the fisher king with Robert Williams, Jeff bridges.
That dreamy jeff bridges!
But they had made a demo, the very first demo for the band was called Reel Big Fish. And the more demos that started circulating around orange county, people just thought that was the name of the band, so they kind of got stuck with the name. and…
Its worked out okay!
And so here we are...
Its much better than the fisher kings!
So the name was a happy accident....

Watch the rest of the interview here. There are even some inherently awkward moments that make the interview just that much more interesting! So, check it out!!!!!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

Reel Big Fish Concert- January 20, 2011

Hey Guys!

Tonight was an event composed of rowdy crowds, crazy people and lots of loud music. Although it's not the experience I am used to- I loved it. The energy that each of the four bands brought fourth was incredible to say the least.
First, Koo Koo Kanga Roo, which I have to admit is a new favorite of mine, came out playing a song which sounded something like a "rock'n' roll" alphabet. With the 4 members of the band wearing matching black sweatsuits, they were adorable! The crowd loved them even more when they threw out a huge circular rainbow pad which blanketed the crowd. Koo Koo Kanga Roo's take on child's music made for a time of dancing, screaming and jumping.

Next up was Suburban Legends. While they were both loud energetic, the songs were slower than Koo Koo Kanga Roo's which downed the overall mood. With that said, most of the crowd had no problem slamming themselves into each other and screaming on the top of their lungs.

After a bit of a break, the favored Aquabats took the stage upon all fans flashing up their Aquabats hand sign. Wearing matching purple spandex shirts and black shorts with grey belts, the Aquabats made the fans wild. At this time, I decided I needed to escape the madness in the center of the pit.

After much, much anticipation, Reel Big Fish took the stage. Aaron Barrett, lead singer, took the stage in a colorful Hawaiian shirt and sported his famous sideburns. Standing from up above, it was clear to see how pumped up the crowd was over RBF. The energy they brought to the stage was incredible and made me want to dance!

Oh, and before that I got to sit down and talk to a few members of RBF, but to read that, you guys will have to stick around and wait for the great answers they gave us. Let's just say that we spoke about babies and Hannah Montana came up. It was very interesting.

( Pictures coming later, too!)

Overall, Koo Koo Kanga Roo and Reel Big Fish were my two favorites, and I think the crowd's favorites as well. All the bands brought energy to the stage and left a mark in my mind. For anyone who is considering seeing any of these bands in the future, I give you two pieces of very helpful advice: 1- Wear closed toe shoes, 2- Prepare to dance and have an AMAZING time- singing and screaming AND dancing!