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Classic Rock Magazine

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    Sleepy Hollow The Golem

    SPOILERS AHEAD (or, um be-head?), so duck and cover, Sleepy Hollow fans!

    Season One, Episode 10: “The Golem”

    Written by: Mark Goffman, Jose Molina, Alex Kurtzman; Directed by: J. Miller Tobin

    After another week off, Sleepy Hollow is back for its Fall Finale. Jewish mysticism slips into the series as its witchiness ramps up. Plus, John Noble makes his return (finally)!

    Quick Breakdown

    Crane is outside his cabin, therapeutically chopping wood, when Abbie shows up chatting about Christmas. But before they celebrate the holidays, Crane is eager to do an experiment to find his son. He has summoned Henry Parrish, the Sin Eater, to help him communicate with Katrina. Henry shows up and warns him that to visit purgatory, he’ll have to be close to death. He then strangles Crane.

    Crane finds himself in a chapel, where Katrina is lighting candles. She does this to pray for her son, whom she left with Grace. The coven the Sisterhood of the Radiant Heart was after her, so she sent baby Jeremy into hiding, with a small doll as a protective talisman. Their conversation is cut short when a beefy, bald monster bursts into the chapel.

    Crane awakes, and wants more answers about his son. Abbie suggests a trip to the library. The librarian is wary of their inquiry into the past and gives a dramatic look after pointing them in the right direction. Henry finds the book that has an answer, tracing Jeremy’s journey from the care of Grace to an orphanage. He inherited some witchy powers from Katrina and burned down his house. This led the orphanage priest to whip the evil out of Jeremy. But Jeremy’s blood landed on the doll and turned him into a golem, hell-bent on protecting Jeremy from everything. And by “protect,” I do mean “slaughter everyone who gets near Jeremy.”

    Over in New York City, Irving is taking a little day trip. He visits a priest friend, who tells him some encouraging words. He says that the word witness can be translated to martyr. He also adds that apostles of martyrs have a tendency to suffer the same fate. Irving then visits his ex and apologizes for being such a workaholic that their marriage crumbled. He takes his daughter to the park, where he is confronted by a white-eyed stranger who threatens his daughter. When Irving tries to shake the truth out of him, the man bumps into a woman, and the demonic spirit is transferred. She says something cryptic and threatening.

    The golem that barged into the purgatorial chapel has slipped into the real world. He kills the librarian right after the gang realizes that she is a witch. They go through her personal effects and find a small box that reeks of evil, according to Henry. In it there are drawings of the golem. In the effects are also tickets to a carnival feature with fortunetelling witches. They figure out that those are the Four Witches Who Speak As One that Katrina mentioned and that Abbie saw in one of her visions.

    Assuming the witches are the golem’s next target, they rush off to the carnival. Those witches were responsible for banishing Katrina to purgatory, so Crane assumes they can also release her. The witches reveal that to stop the golem they hexed Jeremy’s heart to stop and buried him. Crane gets pissed off. They also reveal that only Jeremy’s blood can stop the golem.

    They’re interrupted by the golem’s arrival. During the ensuing fight, Crane gets a large shard of glass stuck in his stomach. At Henry’s behest, he uses the bloody glass as a shiv and stabs the golem, releasing him from his duties as protector.

    Back at the station, Crane is visited by Moloch via a mirror (What is it with the mirrors?). He says some cryptic lines about War (one of the four horsemen, I presume), a saint, and Abbie’s soul. When Abbie finds Crane on the floor, he dramatically reveals that Moloch will soon have her soul and that it will be he, Crane, who delivers it to Moloch.



    As far as Fall Finales go, this one didn’t feel terribly special. Most of the episode was spent setting up things that will presumably happen in the final episodes of the season in January. John Noble’s return, sadly, felt a bit forced, and his joining the team didn’t feel as glorious as it might have a few weeks ago when he was first introduced. This is definitely a series that needs weekly episodes to maintain momentum, and the mini-break it had recently hurt it. But the final episodes should pack plenty of punch.

    Now for some random thoughts and my favorite moments of the night…

    Wardrobe Update: Still no new clothes. Although Abbie does give Crane an early Christmas present. But instead of getting him a new sweater, she gives him an embroidered stocking.

    “It’s not a good idea to touch me.” – Henry

    “I can sense a sin a mile away.” – Henry

    “It’s called a vine but it has absolutely nothing to do with shrubbery?” – Irving seems as clueless about the contemporary world as Crane

    “When did irony become a national pastime?” – Crane

    It was sad to see Jeremy buried in a box before he could have the “6,000 little Ichabods” that Abbie said could be roaming around the world. But since we didn’t actually see him take his last breath, could he still be alive? And, if he is alive, what are the chances that Henry is related to Crane?

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    posted in Reviews by John Keith

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    Peter Gabriel

    As all Peter Gabriel fans know, the maestro works at a very slow pace. His last album of new material, Up, came out back in 2002, and ever since, he’s filled his time with human rights issues, two albums of re-worked orchestral tracks (Scratch My Back and New Blood), a super-deluxe reissue of So, and plenty of touring. Meanwhile, all fans really want is a new studio album — the one Gabriel teased with the in-progress title I/O way back around the Up release.

    In a new interview with Rolling Stone, Gabriel gave a vague progress report on his next LP, telling the magazine that he has “probably 20″ songs in assorted stages of completion — and that, as always, he has absolutely no idea when the damn thing will come out. The one true ray of hope is that even Gabriel seems to be getting impatient: “I really need to stop doing other things and lock myself away for awhile,” he said. “It probably hasn’t moved nearly as much as I would have liked to in the intervening time. The songs are still there but some of them I would redo now and there’s some new stuff as well (…) I keep arranging until the cows come home, which is sometimes a weakness.”

    Gabriel’s current project is a reunion tour for the original So live band — including drummer Manu Katche and keyboardist David Sancious. Gabriel’s enjoying the live dates, and he’s even planning a concert film from the tour, which he hopes will even have a “limited film release” before hitting DVD. The biggest delay comes down to fidelity — they shot the tour in hi-def 4k resolution, which Gabriel says “messes up the synchronization. So then you have to go back and synch things up by hand. So the disadvantage of being ahead of the technology is that it doesn’t always work.”

    Inevitably, Gabriel also fielded some questions about the possibility of a Genesis reunion. “It’s never been ruled out,” he said. “I’m trying to picture a time when it would top my priorities list, though.” When presented with the fact that all five members of the classic prog-rock era are still alive, he did ruminate a bit: “Actually, I was thinking about that the other day. We’re quite lucky. Looking back at other bands of our generation, there’s usually one or two missing now. So you do get a sense of the clock.”

    Upon hearing that Phil Collins is considering some new material (and even a reunion with his old bandmates), Gabriel responded enthusiastically. “Good!” he remarked. “I think he got himself into a bit of a hole, and that’s great news he’s coming out of it. It doesn’t have to involve work, but if it does, that’s a great indicator.”

    So…what can we make of all this?

    Not a whole, whole lot, unfortunately. Gabriel has been teasing I/O for a decade now. This is what Gabriel had to say when I interviewed him a couple years ago for Paste:

    “This is perhaps silly of me to come up with a title before I’ve got a real album,” he says, “but there’s a lot of stuff in the can, and in January, I’ll start looking at it all again. And it’s not finished — that’s the thing. It’s a lot of ideas, some of which I’m sure I’ll still love and some of which I’ll think are crap. However, I’m also attracted to try a different type of music that I’ve been exploring with the orchestra, so I may even do a bit of both and see what’s most promising. It’s still that sort of thing that I’m thinking about and using very different instrumentation that I have been with the orchestra.

    “I just think it’s good to try different things,” he continues, “because you open some daylight into the dark corners that way that wouldn’t normally be exposed if you didn’t consciously steer it that way. I was thinking about electronic stuff, having done orchestral things with the two records. I think that would be a nice contrast, and given that these have been quite serious and down records, make these quite childlike and ‘up.’ It’s a fun idea; whether I’ll get something I still like musically, I don’t know. We’ll find out.”

    So what is this album supposed to sound like? Gabriel’s mentioned the possibility of an orchestral direction (which we saw a glimpse of with the brooding new track “Why Don’t You Show Yourself”), but he’s consistently billed I/O as a more funky and rhythmic LP. Being that Gabriel’s recent original studio albums (UsUp) have been very eclectic and dense, I can only imagine he’ll continue in that direction with whatever comes next — I can picture some orchestral stuff, some funky stuff, some electronic stuff. Whatever it turns out to be, let’s hope it comes out before we’re all dead. Next year seems out of the question (especially since Gabriel’s announced some new So tour dates), but 2015 seems like as good a possibility as any.

    Also, this song (from the unfortunately ignored Big Blue Ball project) is unbelievably awesome:

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    posted in News by Ryan Reed

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    Crimson Projekct

    Earlier this year, Robert Fripp announced a mind-boggling (and probably deafening) triple-drummer version of his singular prog-rock outfit, King Crimson. And though that news is incredibly exciting — especially since Fripp had recently hinted to a “retirement” from the music industry — Crimson diehards (myself included) ended up with a case of Belew balls since former frontman Adrian Belew wasn’t included in the lineup. (Yes, I immediately regret that joke).

    But there’s a silver-lining: Belew will be hitting the road next year with the Crimson Projekct, an excellent off-shoot featuring Crimson alum Tony Levin (bass) and Pat Mastelotto (drums). The sextet recently announced new European tour dates on their website, along with a statement explaining the differences between the two Crimtastic groups.

    “Following the recent announcements that a new configuration of King Crimson will tour North America in the fall of 2014, we in the Crimson ProjeKCt felt that it would be helpful to clarify our status and plans, in order to avoid any potential confusion between the two bands,” the statement reads. “We’ve never hidden the fact that we are an entirely separate entity to King Crimson, albeit a closely related one. We’re all delighted that Robert Fripp is once again in ‘go mode’ and look forward to what will be a bumper year for Crimson fans. We hope that audiences will enjoy all the upcoming tours. We certainly will!”

    I had a chance to see these guys live back in 2011, and they were absolutely stellar. Check out their European dates below (and keep your fingers crossed for some North American dates):

    March 5th – Tel-Aviv IL – Heichal Tarbut
    March 6th – Kiev UA – Bingo Club
    March 7th – Nyon CH – Usine A Gaz
    March 8th – Copenhagen DK – Amager Bio
    March 9th – Oslo NO – Cosmopolite
    March 11th – Compiegne FR – Ziquodrome
    March 12th – London UK – Shepherd’s Bush Empire
    March 13th – Paris FR – Trabendo
    March 14th – Zoetermeer NL – Borderij
    March 16th – Moscow RU – Arena Club
    March 17th – St. Petersburg RU – Palace of Culture Lensoveta
    March 19th – Warsaw PL – Palladium Club
    March 20th – Krakow PL – Klub Studio
    March 21st – Reichenbach (Vogtland) DE – Neuberin Halle
    March 22nd – Karlsruhe DE – Konzerthaus
    March 23rd – Mainz DE – Frankfurter Hof
    March 25th – Essen DE – Grugahalle
    March 26th – Basel/Pratteln CH – Z7
    March 27th – Prague CZ – Archa Theatre
    March 29th – Chieti IT – Teatro Supercinema
    March 30th – Bologna IT, Auditorium Manzoni
    March 31st – Milan IT, Auditorium Verdi
    April 1st – Rome IT – Auditorium Parco della Musica
    April 2nd – Firenze IT, Viper Theatre

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    posted in News by Ryan Reed

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    If you’ve found yourself wearing a lot of white hats, or drinking wine from giant glasses while eating popcorn, or shouting into your cell phone “it’s handle,” you might be addicted to ABC’s Scandal. Don’t worry, though — you aren’t alone. In fact, the series is popping up everywhere these days, including the windows of Sax Fifth Avenue, Halloween costumes, and all over the Internet –  from tweets to memes to drinking games.

    For the unconverted, Scandal (which began airing in the spring of 2012) is a Washington D.C. series about a “fixer” named Olivia Pope (Kerry Washington) hired by politicians to, well, “fix” things (affairs, murders, rapes). She and her team (They call themselves “Gladiators”) help control the media spin, often tamper with crime scenes, and silence people with threats and money (Sounds pretty scandalous, doesn’t it?). At first, the show seemed like it might follow a Law and Order kind of formula (a new case each episode), but it quickly moves in another, more soap opera-styled, direction. The central storyline is about Olivia’s connection to the President of the United States (played by Tony Goldwyn). She worked on his election team (including helping to fix the election to get him in office) and then had an affair with him. The White House and Olivia’s team constantly find themselves intertwined, as do Olivia and the president. They have a very high-school-on-again-off-again relationship that results in many heated telephone calls and make-up sex.

    Many people have their “guilty pleasures,” but I’ve rarely been someone who watches “bad television.” I’m often out for more than just mere entertainment, which is what has surprised me about my love for Scandal. For starters, I don’t watch many shows anymore on the big networks, and I knew that Shonda Rhimes, who is best known for her sappy medical drama Grey’s Anatomy, created the show, which gave me even more pause.

    So how did I start watching Scandal? Believe it or not, it’s all Lisa Kudrow’s fault. In late summer, I saw an article about how Kudrow was going to be guest starring on the third season of the series; being a sucker for Kudrow’s post-Friends work (The Comeback is one of the greatest shows ever), I decided to give Scandal a try. If it’s good enough for Kudrow, I thought, it’s good enough for me.

    Thanks to Netflix, I spent a few weeks binge watching all of season one and two in preparation for the current season. I couldn’t stop. Some nights I watched three or four episodes in a row. The whole time, I kept thinking, “This is so wonderfully bad. It is safe to say I’ve finally found my guilty pleasure.

    There are a million reasons why this show should be terrible. First off, the storylines don’t even attempt to be believable, (I mean come on, a Republican president with a gay chief-of-staff and a strong black female mistress?), and the constant twists and turns in the show are sometimes completely out of left field with little prep work done (Mellie’s recent flashback rape by her father-in-law, anyone?). The series is action-packed, sometimes leaving little time for full development of ideas or characters (Quinn getting tortured then having sex with Charlie). Yet, in spite of these issues, the show remains absolutely amazing.

    Perhaps it is because Scandal makes no real attempt at being realistic that is allows itself to truly live in its own made-up and bizarre world — one that looks a lot like ours, but where things don’t really work the same. These “scandals” are often too easily solved, while other issues seem to constantly be spiraling to a place of no return. People quickly throw their ethics out the window and then kind of laugh about it later.

    There are also the issues of race and sexuality that don’t get explored with much depth in the series. Many have praised the show for featuring a strong black female lead, and I will give them that (The casting is very refreshing, and Washington is great), but the show isn’t very groundbreaking in the race department, or if it is, it’s groundbreaking in how it almost entirely ignores the issue. That’s not to say that race needs to be front and center, but at times, it seems intentionally not discussed. In fact, politics or social issues are not a huge part of the show, even though it’s about the political world.

    The same can be said of the gay characters on the show. Cyrus (Jeff Perry) is often one of the most unethical characters and seems to have nothing that really grounds him (Why does he do most of the things he does?). His relationship with his husband James (Dan Bucantinsky) is not only extremely unrealistic, but it is poorly written. Every time James opens his mouth, I want to fast forward. He’s a walking cliché, while Cyrus plays into the homosexual villain stereotype (We rarely see a different side of him like we get see with other villainous characters like Mellie).


    The other major flaw of the show is that Fitz (the president) is not a very compelling character, nor do we really see him being a good president on the show. This flaw is problematic because many of the characters throw their ethics out to keep him in office. Why? What’s so great about Fitz? The writers don’t seem to know either. He seems pretty unworthy of the sacrifices made for him. But even with these issues, which normally bother me quite a bit, I can’t stop watching.

    I’ve spent a lot of time thinking about what it is that draws me to this show because of everything I’ve listed above. While the storytelling can have its problems, one thing I truly admire is that a big network TV show has actually made a successful series about a group of people who all do really terrible things (affairs, fixing elections, lying to the American public, killing people, secretly filming people, tampering with crime scenes, fucking over the only nice person on the show, Joshua Malina’s David Rosen, who has become the punching bag of the series). It’s refreshing that there aren’t clear good guys and bad guys on Scandal  — for the most part. Just when you think someone is all good or all bad, the writers throw in a gripping twist. This is more in line with what so many of the cable channels have been doing for years. People like complicated characters. People don’t have to be all good or all bad.

    A lot of the success of the show is also owed to Kerry Washington, who pulls you in with every pout or tremble of her lips (There’s a lot of pouting and trembling). Plus, she wears these amazing cape coats all the time and gives a lot of great speeches about white hats and her gut (which is funny because her gut gets in her trouble over and over again, and she is rarely ethical, no matter what color her imagined hat is). Washington earned her Emmy nomination, even if she did lose the statue.

    Scandal -- Screengrab from exclusive clip.

    The pace of the show also plays a major role in what keeps people watching — and not only watching but watching in real time. How people watch TV is changing. People are no longer bound by when a show airs. I remember growing up and making sure I was home on Thursday nights to watch Seinfeld because there wasn’t any other option. That’s not the case anymore. Some networks or shows seem unwilling to accept this. Scandal, on the other hand, has found a solution  — at least for the moment. Nearly every fast-moving episode ends with a cliffhanger, which makes the risk of spoilers even greater: This past week ended with the vice-president murdering her husband. Scandal is attempting to make watching later more problematic, which is working.

    The series has also used social networking to their advantage. From the beginning, the cast has live-Tweeted the show, making it an interactive experience. Kerry Washington often answers fan questions, gives funny reactions, and provides the brands of her fabulous clothing. This is truly television for the 21st century.

    The episodes move as quickly as the shutter-effect they use to splice scenes together, but can this pace be maintained? How long can a show keep going when their formula is to constantly shock the audience with new secrets and plot moves? The show might be reaching its peak with only two-and-a-half seasons under its belt. Only time will tell. But even if it’s short-lived, Scandal has made an impact and truly entered the pop culture zeitgeist.

    Tune in Thursday, December 12th for the mid-season finale.

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    posted in Features by Stephen Mills

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    South Park The Hobbit

    (SPOILERS AHEAD, so proceed with caution, South Park fans!)

    Season 17, Episode 10: “The Hobbit”

    Written & Directed by: Trey Parker

    So here we are, at the finish line of South Park‘s roller-coaster 17th season. These 10 episodes have shown Trey Parker and company at their best (“World War Zimmerman”) but also pretty close to their worst (“Goth Kids”), and overall, I almost feel a sense of relief. It’s difficult to imagine the pressure on Parker’s shoulders, having to conceptualize, write, direct, and voice a half-hour of television every week, and this season’s rockiest moments have demonstrated that strain.

    But I digress. With “The Hobbit,” Parker follows the “Console Wars” trilogy with a more down-to-Earth episode, focused on vanity, self-worth, and the idiocy of Kanye West. It was well-paced, culturally relevant, and surprisingly touching. The only thing missing were laughs.

    Quick Breakdown

    We open with the fourth grade cheerleaders in the gym, doing roll call. We meet Lisa Burger, the token fat cheerleader who struggles to overcome her shyness and show enthusiasm. Wendy says she has a “bad self-image” and encourages Lisa to ask out her secret crush, Butters. Lisa approaches Butters in lunchroom, awkwardly asking if he wants to go to a movie. Butters’ response is amazing: “No thanks, Lisa,” he says. “I really appreciate the offer, but you’re too fat for me. See ya, Lisa!” (Cartman says the weight isn’t an issue – it’s the fact that she “looks like she got hit in the face with a shovel.”)

    Wendy angrily confronts Butters, who reveals a Kim Kardashian shrine in his locker. “Kim Kardashian is thin,” he notes enthusiastically, “and she just had a baby!” But Wendy doesn’t buy the hype: She tells Butters that his fantasy lover is a product of Photoshop and that, in real life, she “has the body of a Hobbit.” Emotionally devastated, Butters goes to see Mr. Mackey about the bullying, and Wendy is called in for a taste of her own medicien. “Have you ever stopped to consider that maybe, just maybe, you’re jeal’?”, Mackey asks. “There’s a very fine line between being a feminist and being a hater.”

    Mr. Garrison brings in a guest speaker, “Aquaman,” to explain why Kardashian isn’t a hobbit. But it’s actually Kanye West, reprising his “Gay Fish” role from Season 13. Kanye is pissed – which, of course, is his natural state. Kanye admits that Kim does have a friend named Gandalf, who’s a wizard, but she’s NOT A HOBBIT. (He does, however, have to call her a few times on her cell to confirm exactly how she isn’t a hobbit. He finds out she does smoke a “personal oral humidifier,” not a pipe.)

    Frustrated with Butters’ backward views of female beauty, Wendy Photoshops an image of Lisa Burger to demonstrate how young girls are manipulated into having an unrealistic standard of physical appearance. Instead, her art project has the opposite reaction: Butters is blown away by how beautiful Lisa could be, and he immediately runs off to ask her out based on this alternate-reality sexiness. But he gets beat to the punch by Clyde, who goes around school showing off how Lisa she is on his iPhone (even though she’s still fat in real life). (Even Jimmy “wouldn’t mind tappin’ that ass.”)

    “Lisa Burger is not hot – she’s fat and ugly!” says Wendy, who is still “jealy.” Ironically, Wendy is sent to Mr. Mackey again – for calling a little girl “fat and ugly.” Mackey says he’s forced to call “The Jealy School,” but unfortunately, they’re all booked up at the moment.

    Meanwhile, the TIME PERSON OF THE YEAR AWARD goes to Pope Francis (as it is in real life). When His Holiness goes up to accept the award, he’s (wait for it!) interrupted by Kanye. (A bit of a dated joke, really.) Mr. Fishsticks gives another Kim-Hobbit speech, angrily ranting at the audience (and the world). Turns out, Kim is actually in a new movie called The Hobbit – wait, no, she’s not in it, but it’s based on Kim’s reality show, which is about short people living in a fantasy world. All of the Kim-Kanye-Hobbit stuff really feels like a stretch — the more we move away from Wendy’s A-story, the snoozier the episode gets.

    Back at school, all the guys cheer rowdily for Lisa Burger at the pep rally. The other girls want Wendy to Photoshop their pictures to improve their image, but Wendy tells them to have more self-worth. Lisa tells them to “go down to the gym and work” to improve their looks. So they do…by Photoshopping their bodies at the gym. After a flat “work-out” montage, the boys then scroll through iPhone photos of their new-and-improved ladies.

    At this point, Wendy is the only girl in school without a fancy new fake-look, so Stan wants her to Photoshop herself. (Oh, yeah, I forgot they’re “dating.”) Wendy goes on a rant, talking about her own physical imperfections (and everybody else’s), but — naturally — gets caught and called in to Mackey’s office for being “jelly.”

    This leads us to another awkward Kanye bit, with a parody of the ridiculous “Bound 2″ video. Once again, Kanye rants about Kim and the whole hobbit thing (My girl ain’t no hobbit / Please, God, tell me I’m not engaged to no hobbit”), but this whole scene feels like a major missed opportunity. If any music video is tailor-made for the subversive South Park treatment, it’s this one (maybe a shot of Kim-as-hobbit sprawled out on the motorcycle?). But not much happens. (Really, they got beat out by Seth Rogen and James Franco, anyway — no topping that one.)

    The cheerleaders all despise Wendy now — they “don’t want to cheer with a hater.” But Wendy (who very much reinforces her status as the female “voice of reason” version of Kyle in this episode) isn’t content to stand by and watch her peers destroy their self-worth.

    “The problem with having fake pictures of yourself is that you start to believe in your own bullshit,” she says, launching a protest against Photoshop.”Little girls are aspiring to have bodies they can’t possibly have,” she says on the news, though the anchor asks if Wendy is just a “jelly” “hater.”

    And because, why not, heeeeeere’s Kanye. Asleep in her bedroom, Wendy is startled by the rapper, who reads her a bedtime story about a hobbit — one who sounds an awful lot like his fiancee. This hobbit only wanted to be “pretty like Beyonce,” and because of the magic of Photoshop, she could be “looked up to and loved,” even if she could act, sing, or even “be a decent human being” like Beyonce. The “Jelly Monster” (Wendy) attacked the hobbit, making sure everybody knew the truth about her lack of beauty and talent. Kanye cries at his own story.

    Back at school, Wendy sits, defeated, in the computer lab. Feeling ever more like a hobbit herself, she Photoshops her own image and e-mails it to her classmates.



    Now for some random thoughts and my favorite (and least favorite) moments of the night…

    Things I enjoyed: the childlike brutality of Butters’ callousness, coupled with the wide-eyed friendliness of his honesty; Kanye’s climactic bedtime story, which ties a decent-enough bow around the Kimye-Hobbit stuff; hearing Mr. Mackey say “jelly” (the first 90 times); the slightly heartbreaking conclusion, with Wendy — resigned to her future as a sex object — clicking the mouse.

    Things I didn’t enjoy: the rest of the Kimye stuff (especially “Bound 2″), the lack of core characters, and the lack of any real stand-out quotes or visuals. All in all, this felt like an OK but unremarkable coda to a frustrating season. I’ll remain a South Park fan until they stop airing the show, but I do think a change in the format and schedule would help breathe some new life into this legendary series.

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    posted in Reviews by Ryan Reed

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    AHSC Head

    (SPOILERS AHEAD, so witch your step, Coven fans!)

    Season Three, Episode Nine: “Head”

    Written by: Tim Minear; Directed by Howard Deutch

    It’s Fall Finale week, and Coven has its own explosive final moments. But it’s a bit of a drudge to get there. With the episode focused on Hank, we finally get some lingering answers — but it feels almost anticlimactic with so much bigger drama going on around it all.

    Quick Breakdown

    Way down yonder in the Chattahoochee National Forest (circa 1991), a young Hank is being taught by his father how to hunt. A natural rite of passage for a young man, except that Hank’s father is teaching him how to hunt witches. One appears with wild hair (done in the style of Amy Adams in Into the Woods) and shoots flames at frightened Hank. His father dispatches of the witch, urging his son to show no mercy.

    All grown up, Hank finds himself in the waiting room at Delphi Trust. His father runs this company, a corporation focused on hunting witches. Hank’s father lectures him on his inadequacies as a hunter (eliminating that “fire starter” had been a shoddy job with a nasty cleanup) and his failure to remain as a mole within the Robichaux coven. He also scoffs at Hank’s allegiance with those voodoo witches. Hank leaves wanting to make his father proud. (I doubt that attempted murder on his father would really impress his dad as much as it impressed Fiona.) We also learn that Hank authorized the attack on Cordelia.

    Fiona swings by Laveau’s salon with LaLaurie’s head. She wants to strike up an allegiance with the voodoo queen, fearing an attack by the witch hunters, but Laveau laughs in her face (secure in the knowledge that the hunter is acting on her behalf). Queenie gives LaLaurie a little tolerance brainwashing, so she sets her in front of the TV and plays Roots for her. When that fails, though, she puts on some Civil Rights music, which seems to actually touch LaLaurie’s heart (even though it’s in a cage in the other room).

    At the hospital, wounded Luke is in a coma, and his pious, resurrected mother is guarding him from those wicked witches (She doesn’t seem very gracious for being revived from the dead). Nan wins her over as she channels Luke’s thoughts, but Luke also reveals he knows Joan’s secret. After catching her husband getting a surprise blow job, Joan got her revenge. She trapped him in his car, which she had stuffed with bees, allowing him to suffer from a massive anaphylactic shock.

    Since Cordelia arrived at Robichaux’s as a tender teenager, Myrtle has felt quite motherly towards her. This fuels her own little revenge plan. She invites Pembroke and Quentin over for a nice dinner. Once they’re hopelessly paralyzed from something she slipped in their drinks, she grabs her melon baller and removes an eye from each of them (before chopping them up and dropping them in an acid bath). She plants the eyes in Cordelia’s face, and suddenly she can see again, except she’s lost her second sight.

    In the greenhouse, Cordelia teaches Myrtle some magic gardening tricks — they’re reviving a special plant that Cordelia says every witch in the house will need to eat as protection. Hank saunters in, so happy to see she has eyeballs again. Cordelia informs him she’s filed for divorce and tells him to grab his stuff and leave. As he carries his sad box of belongings out, he runs into Fiona and her new attack dog. Hank urges her to believe that he was looking out for Cordelia, but Fiona doesn’t buy it. He claims he’s doing his best to protect them. It’s hard to believe him based on what we’ve seen so far; he’ll have to try hard to prove himself.

    The dog smells another man in the house — this one is Kyle. The dog licks harmless Franken-Kyle’s face, until Kyle seemingly snaps the animal’s neck. Fiona is pleased to find the boy though, for with a little “sprucing up” he gains some intelligence. When the girls arrive home, she’s playing cards with him, telling them he’ll be their new guard dog.

    At the salon, Hank is proving himself. He barges in locked and loaded, gunning down the voodoo priestess’ lackeys. He lands a bullet in Queenie’s gut on his way to Laveau, but as he attempts to gun Laveau down, Queenie grabs a stray gun and blows Hank’s head off (via her head).

    Cordelia is awakened by a knock on the manor’s door that night. Laveau has come, tail between her legs, seeking an alliance with the coven. Fiona gives us a smug smile as she closes the door.



    American Horror Story gives us another lackluster Fall Finale for the week. After some really phenomenal episodes, this one is composed of odds and ends, never quite feeling wholly cohesive (except for the surprising Hank through-line). It wraps up a couple different threads, but mostly it’s a set up for the final stretch that will air in January. Too bad they didn’t just postpone this episode as well.

    Now for some random thoughts and my favorite moments of the night…

    “Witch hunters is white women’s worry.” – Laveau

    “Do you know why I got a female attack dog?” – Fiona asks Hank. He responds, “Because bitches stick together?”

    Queenie was shot, but did she die? Since Laveau didn’t bring her to Robichaux’s we could assume so, but it’s hard to be presumptuous with such a twisted show.

    Did you see these cool minimalist posters over on BuzzFeed?

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    posted in Reviews by John Keith

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    Credit: Edouard Plongeon / Press Here

    Credit: Edouard Plongeon / Press Here

    Balls-to-the-wall rock stars are an endangered species — very few are free of irony or self-parody and have the panache to pull off the necessary persona and musical substance in equal measure. If there was any doubt beforehand, The Kills’ recent performance at Detroit’s Majestic Theatre cemented their ranking in that upper echelon. Soaked in sex and the best kind of sleaze, the duo of Alison Mosshart and Jamie Hince (or VV and Hotel, respectively) epitomized cool on the stage, serving up a batch of 16 vascular, blood-pumping cuts of grimy blues and proving that their badassery is no affectation.

    U.S. Girls’ opening nine-song set mixed pop, new wave, and drone with sci-fi soundtrack tones and dialogue samples (an impressive sound, though their stage presence was flat), after which a leopard-print backdrop descended at the back of the stage before The Kills appeared. The duo were supported by two leather-jacketed dudes, who throughout the show handled percussion duties, banging in unison on two pairs of floor toms like automatons. Without preamble, they launched into the manic “Sour Cherry” from Midnight Boom, Mosshart gripping the mic stand and leaning over the audience, her bleached hair waving, while Hince on the opposite side of the stage strangled the first of many melodic noises from his guitar.

    The group continued without banter through the voodoo rhythm of “Future Starts Slow” and “Heart is a Beating Drum,” Mosshart shedding her biker jacket to convulse and jerk unfettered. With the repetitive Delta-blues indebted “Kissy Kissy,” a red light saturated the scene before Hince showcased some dirty virtuoso techniques. “You probably don’t get this a lot because you live here, but it’s like a landmark when we play Detroit,” Hince said after the song ended. “Rock is Detroit!” he shouted, to the crowd’s delight. A bit later, the band played “U.R.A. Fever,” trading vocals amid the lurching dread of the verses then chanting the title in the lumbering refrain. When it ended, a fan found his way on stage and ran to leap off it. When a security guard or roadie came to grab the man, Hince nixed his efforts. “No, no, let him do it,” he instructed, prompting the other man to back away as the attendee dove into the audience. “That was one of the best I’ve ever seen.”

    Never having seen them live before, I expected the band’s dark and sinister façade to create a divide between them and their audience. Not so. Mosshart and Hince fed off one another’s energy in a visible chemistry, exchanging sly smirks with each other and sultry looks at the crowd. Just as regularly, Mosshart would get nearly on top of Hince during a solo and he would invade her zone while she sang. Rather than being standoffish, Mosshart had a near permanent smile on her face and frequently broke into laughter. She scarcely stopped moving at any point — spinning, writhing, and spasming as though her sprightly form had rubberized bones. Hince likewise didn’t slow down, roadies quickly passing him Hofner guitars so he could keep his place at the stage’s cusp. Maybe the loose vibe resulted from The Kills playing for the sheer joy of it, on the second date of a mini-tour that isn’t borne of having a new record to promote.

    During the wounded yet defiant “Baby Says,” Mosshart played a Memotron keyboard while Hince peeled flesh with a solo. The slyly creepy “Black Balloon” opened with a blue glow in the theatre, just Mosshart on guitar before the drumming minions led the audience in clapping along and Hince stood at the stage’s edge during some frenetic strumming. An epilepsy-inducing light show then heralded “No Wow,” as Mosshart crouched down and slowly built herself up as the song crest and broke. Come the stomping menace of “Pots and Pans,” a low-key start swelled to the point where Mosshart banged on a third pair of floor toms and Hince issued distorted squalls from his Hofner that sounded like a lawnmower starting up. The band then ended the main set on “Monkey 23,” which started with an aching fragility before Hince let loose with some bluster, rubbing a mic stand on his guitar neck before switching to a more conventional bottleneck. Rather than detracting from the song’s vulnerability, such method’s amplified it.

    After a brief break, The Kills delivered a three-song encore, Hince returning with a Corona bottle but without the two drummers. A version of “Last Goodbye” was no less affecting than its studio counterpart, Mosshart standing with arms crossed as she let her soulful vocals alone hold the audience’s attention. Hince trigger a looped keyboard melody by turns funereal and romantic, the sparse accompaniment anchoring the narrator’s emotional tug-of-war. Not wanting to end the show on such a morose note, the band summoned their drummers again to end with cacophonous renditions of “Last Day of Magic” and “Fried My Little Brains.” As the group released their debut LP 10 years ago, it was entirely appropriate they ended the set on a track from that album.

    Without hyperbole, I can say The Kills put on one of the best shows I’ve attended. Top five for sure, with a near perfect set list composed of fan favorites and deep cuts culled from each of their albums. Not that I lacked respect for them beforehand, but I left the Majestic with a greater depth instilled.


    1.Sour Cherry
    2.Future Starts Slow
    3.Heart is a Beating Drum
    4.Kissy Kissy
    5.U.R.A. Fever
    8.Baby Says
    9.Tape Song
    10.Black Balloon
    11.No Wow
    12.Pots and Pans
    13.Monkey 23


    14.Last Goodbye
    15.Last Day of Magic
    16.Fried My Little Brains

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    posted in Live Reviews by Cole Waterman

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    Thousands and thousands of films are made every year. And while some of them are destined for Oscar glory and widespread Metacritic acclaim, others wind up scraping the barrel on the IMDB Bottom 100. What makes these films so universally despised? Are they all really that bad? And, seriously, what’s the deal with From Justin to Kelly? We’ll answer all these questions (and hopefully more) with “Scraping the Barrel,” in which we review the ENTIRETY of the bottom 100, in order.

    In today’s installment, Trace William Cowen takes a closer look (when he’s able to uncover his eyes) at #93, 2000′s Battlefield Earth.

    (Editor Note: We realize the Bottom 100 has changed slightly since we began this series. Our master list was frozen on July 17th.)


    The Gist: Earth is ruled by dreadlocked aliens called Psychlos, who plan to use human beings as gold miners. A rebellion takes shape. Based on a novel by L. Ron Hubbard, the Scientology guy.

    Those Who Shall Be Held Responsible: Written by Corey Mandell, J.D. Shapiro, Directed by Roger Christian

    IMDB Stats: #93, 2.4 rating

    The Straight Dirt:

    When Ryan asked me to do this edition of the column on the universally avoided mega-snafu of Battlefield Earth, I initially promised myself that I would avoid mentioning the ever-crushing shadow of Scientology, et al. Then I got the flu. It goes without saying that the flu is rife with some derailingly verbose fuckery. In fact, said fuckery inspired me to abandon my initial promise of not using Scientology as a “critical crutch” in this piece. In all honesty, I guess all the fevers and sweating and cough medicine painted a clearer depiction of the reality of this film: a reality heavily peppered with the litterings of Scientology.

    A few years ago, I spent some time in Los Angeles as a writing and performance student at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre. For whatever reason, the Scientology Celebrity Centre is located remarkably close to the theatre on Franklin Avenue. In an admittedly touristy move, I finally caved and took a free tour of the building. That “tour” mostly consisted of sitting alone in a screening room to watch a series of overblown Scientology commercials (one of the seats had an unfortunate ketchup stain on the cushion), browsing an L. Ron Hubbard bookstore, an awkwardly intimate E-meter reading, and — oh! — a free Dianetics DVD and some sample packets of niacin. The key moment of the day, for me, was the series of questions to which I was subjected before the tour even began. “Have you heard much about Tom Cruise?” I lied, saying I was only familiar with his work as an actor and was ignorant of his personal pursuits. Truth be told, I’ve always been a rather consistent Tom Cruise supporter. The level of quality in his work has remained, for the most part, remarkably high. He still possesses that “movie star” magic that eludes any modern equivalents. After side-stepping the tour guide’s Tom Cruise inquiry, I half-expected her next question to be “Okay, what about John Travolta?” Interestingly, that never happened.

    That small, possibly unintentional “snub by omission” speaks volumes in regards to Travolta’s uniquely tarnished legacy in cinema. He’s given us remarkable turns in classics like Saturday Night Fever, Grease, and Pulp Fiction. Even not-quite-classics — from Primary Colors to Hairspray — showcased Travolta at his very best. The fact, then, that a film like Battlefield Earth even exists is a testament to the power of full-blown delusion. Honestly, it happens all the time. On a much smaller and far less culturally important scale, one might think of Kirk Cameron’s endless stream of Christian-rapture-themed Left Behind films. Those piles of shit, respectively, were slightly less embarrassing, if for no other reason than they at least made the involved parties some amount of money. We could, perhaps, even bring Mr. Cruise himself into the conversation here. That would be a bit unfair, though, given that – as previously mentioned – Cruise has mostly maintained a high quality output for the duration of his career, avoiding any bloated Scientology-specific vanity projects / proverbial rabbit holes.

    Battlefield Earth (based on the first 436 pages of the L. Ron Hubbard novel of the same name), of course, isn’t a film directly about or even indirectly “based on” Scientology. Not in the slightest. Upon the film’s release, many argued that the “film” contained subliminal messages promoting Scientology’s firm stance against many modern mental health practices, but anything truly “subliminal” is difficult to prove. It’s even more difficult, however, to view this film in any other context than that of Scientology’s very grand (and very expensive) perpetuation of cult-like delusion on a small but prominent scale. The “film” isn’t propaganda, by any means, as its story only stems from the mind of Hubbard and not the “pillars” of the religion itself. Yet, for all of Earth‘s glorious failures — from its vomitous color scheme to its gratuitous overuse (possibly every scene) of tilted camera angles to, yes, John Travolta’s Party Store clearance aisle fake dreadlocks — the greatest and most universally offensive crime of this film rests in Travolta’s unearned and downright blasphemous confidence surrounding its decade-plus development process, specifically his oft-discussed insistence that Earth would be “like Star Wars, only better.”

    Consensus: If you are in a position to egregiously waste 118 minutes of your existence, then I invite you to view Battlefield Earth with Travolta’s wonderfully stupid statement in mind: “…like Star Wars, only better.”

    Should be IMDB Score: 0.0

    Random Quotes:

    “I am going to make you as happy as a baby Psychlo on a straight diet of kerbango.”

    “While you were still learning how to spell your name, I was being trained to conquer galaxies!”

    “Hungry, little fella? Want some rat? It’s good!”

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    posted in Features by Trace William Cowen

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    Screen shot 2013-12-13 at 12.09.39 PM

    We’ve made it, loyal readers (and people stumbling upon this website in your unending search for best-of lists). With the calendar year almost in the books, it’s time to add our voice to the choir with our round-up of the 25 Best Albums of 2013.

    As with any list, these picks aren’t based on a scientific scale of high-brow elitism. I (Ryan Reed, the editor) simply picked the 25 albums that thrilled me the most — the 25 that kept me listening months after their release date. There are biases in there, naturally: You’ll notice the lack of hip-hop (Yeezus is overrated, and I didn’t hear a lot of rap that thrilled me on an album-wide basis), and country (unless “alt-country” counts), and lots of surely amazing albums that I simply didn’t have time (or knowledge) to investigate. (Also, there’s no Arcade Fire — very disappointed in that album.)

    The goal of this list is to (hopefully) expose some fellow obsessives to some new gems. So sit back, strap on those headphones, and check out my picks for the year’s best.

    (Note: This list was compiled on my own, without any contribution from my amazing writers. I’m still fairly new around these parts, and my staff is still growing — hopefully by this time next year, we’ll be able to do a more expansive list that includes the opinions of the entire Hidden Track staff.)

    (And since we’re on the topic, check out Brice Ezell’s list of the year’s best metal albums. And Mark Pursell’s list of the best albums from female musicians.)

    (Editor note: Somehow in the editing process, Midlake’s Antiphon got left off. Total accident — now updated.)

    Honorable Mention:

    Scale the Summit – The Migration
    Chvrches – The Bones of What You Believe
    Deafheaven – Sunbather

    25. Blood Orange – Cupid Deluxe

    24. Volcano Choir – Repave

    23. Toro y Moi – Anything in Return

    22. The Flaming Lips – The Terror

    21. Atoms for Peace – AMOK

    20. Jim James – Regions of Light and Sound of God

    19. Paramore – Paramore

    18. Zorch – Zzoorrcchh

    17. Bosnian Rainbows – Bosnian Rainbows

    16. Kings of Leon – Mechanical Bull

    15. Phoenix – Bankrupt!

    14. Indians – Somewhere Else

    13. Empire of the Sun – Ice on the Dune

    12. Steven Wilson – The Raven that Refused to Sing

    11. Vampire Weekend – Modern Vampires of the City

    Me, reviewing the album for “In interviews, Vampire Weekend have described this album as ‘the culmination of a trilogy.’ Really, it sounds like the start of a vibrant, vivid new chapter.” My thoughts haven’t changed in the past seven months. Highlights: the explosive “Diane Young,” the folky gallop of “Unbelievers.”

    10. Midlake – Antiphon

    Midlake lost their longtime frontman/founder Tim Smith, but they bounced back splendidly with Anitphon, an epic set of free-flowing folk-prog majesty.

    9. Local Natives – Hummingbird

    Me, reviewing the album for the late Boston Phoenix (RIP): “Local Natives are no longer indie-rock over-achievers; with the stunning, heart-wrenching Hummingbird, they’re officially the real fucking deal.” Highlights: the spine-tingling “Colombia,” the brooding epic “Bowery.” Also, the rest of it.

    8. Typhoon – White Lighter

    Kyle Morton and his 10 bandmates deliver a borderline masterpiece. White Lighter is a triumph on every level — sonically, emotionally, lyrically, conceptually. As I wrote in my recent Paste feature, it’s an album “built on the urgency of death and the beautifully fleeting nature of life,” as Morton contemplates his own mortality and the vastness of the universe over fittingly grand backdrops of piano, guitars, multiple drum kits, and tear-jerking orchestrations.

    7. Daft Punk -Random Access Memories

    Finally, a Daft Punk album worth the hype. Yeah, yeah, yeah — we all know about the disco awesomeness of “Get Lucky,” but the rest of the LP is equally brilliant (and also really fucking weird). Highlights: the funk-prog odyssey “Motherboard,” the indescribably schizophrenic “Giorgio by Moroder.”

    6. Justin Timberlake – The 20/20 Experience (part 1 — not part 2, which was pretty meh)

    The year’s most inventive pop album, from start to finish. Me, quoting my Paste review: “Like FutureSex before it, the deceptively weird The 20/20 Experience works best as an immersive sonic journey—a headphones album for an earbud generation.” Highlights: the Indian sci-fi psychedelics of “Don’t Hold the Wall,” the Off-the-Wall-on-LSD voyage “Let the Groove Get In,” the heavenly Radiohead-meets-Usher climax “Blue Ocean Floor.”

    5. Queens of the Stone Age – …Like Clockwork

    These grimy hard-rock icons delivered their most powerful LP since Songs for the Deaf. Every track on this bad-boy delivers a black-eye punch — from the crunchy ooze of “I Sat By the Ocean” to the ballad-turned-prog voyage of the title-track.

    4. James Blake – Overgrown

    This electro-soul chameleon’s sophomore LP fulfills the promise implied on his acclaimed debut. With Overgrown, Blake has taken a warmer, more organic approach to songcraft, expanding his emotional range as a singer, producer, and songwriter. Highlights: The Brian Eno-assisted headfuck “Digital Lion,” the mind-melting, psychedelic crescendos of “Retrograde.”

    3. Tegan and Sara – Heartthrob

    Working with a gang of A-list producers (Greg Kurstin, Mike Elizondo, Justin Meldal-Johnsen), twin Canucks Tegan and Sara Quinn gave their scrappy indie-rock a glistening pop makeover. Indulging their inner new-wave divas, the duo go for broke in the hooks department, abandoning sonic quirks and compositional detours. Every track is single-worthy – from the electro-pop miracle “Closer” to the arena-sized piano-ballad “Now I’m All Messed Up” to the R&B slow-jam “Shock to Your System.”

    2. Sigur Ros – Kveikur

    Following last year’s largely shapeless Valtari (and the subsequent departure of keyboardist Kjartan Sveinsson), these Icelandic post-rock icons rebounded in a major way with Kveikur, their darkest, proggiest LP to date. Writing as a trio has recharged the band’s creative batteries — from the brooding avalanche of ”Brennisteinn” to the title-track’s metallic assault, they sound sonically (and emotionally) reinvigorated.

    1. Night Beds – Country Sleep

    Back in 2011, college drop-out Winston Yellen ventured to the outskirts of Nashville, rented a cabin once owned by Johnny Cash, and submerged himself in blissful acoustic melodrama. The result is the enigmatic Country Sleep, one of the year’s most underrated LPs. Across 10 cohesive tracks, Yellen layers his warm tenor over lush backdrops of pedal-steel, brushed drums, and ramshackle orchestras. It’s a bit folk, a bit country, a bit jazz, a bit psychedelia – and completely immersive. From the wall-of-sound hymn “Ramona” to the pin-drop atmospherics of “Was I For You?,” every track is a legitimate knock-out.

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    posted in Best of 2013 by Ryan Reed

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    Screen shot 2013-12-13 at 5.30.09 PM

    If you’re like me, you spent half your childhood watching the Naked Gun movies, laughing until your face turned numb, and secretly wondering how that O.J. Simpson guy managed to appear in a feature film. Well, looks like the ’80s comedy is getting reloaded with an A-list star up-front: According to Variety, Ed Helms (aka Andy from The Office) has signed on to play notoriously bumbling Detective Frank Drebin in a new film, following in the footsteps of the legendary Leslie Nielsen. The project is being co-written by Thomas Lennon and R. Ben Garant.

    Who knows if this will be a good film? The last time an Office veteran attempted espionage on the big screen, the results were pretty abysmal. But it’s good news for Helms, whose recent attempt to reboot the Vacation franchise has unfortunately fizzled out. (I could see Helms making one hell of a Griswold, actually.)

    The Naked Gun franchise (which included 1988′s From the Files of Police Sqaud!, 1991′s 2 1/2: The Smell of Fear and 1994′s 33 1/3: The Final Insult was created by the parody-driven trio Zucker, Abrahams, and Zucker (ZAZ). It’s unclear whether or not any of these folks will have any involvement in the new project.

    As we all sit around and imagine what Ed Helms as Frank Drebin might look like, enjoy this blast from the past. “Steeeeee-riiiike!”

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    posted in Movies by Ryan Reed

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    Screen shot 2013-12-16 at 10.54.31 AM

    Kings of Leon dropped by Saturday Night Live over the weekend, performing two excellent cuts from their recently released LP, Mechanical Bull. With the Followill boys, it’s always a coin-toss as to which band will show up — the world’s best arena-rock band or a sloppy parody of themselves. But ever since frontman Caleb got his shit together and sobered up, the band have been firing on all cylinders, and this SNL performance is a perfect showcase for what they do best.

    (By the way, Mechanical Bull is one of the year’s most criminally underrated releases — and their most mature, well-rounded LP to date. I ranked it as the 16th best album of 2013.)

    (Also, I hate critics have started hating this band ever since “Sex on Fire.” It’s like they’ve been penalized for writing hooks and tuning their instruments. Sorry if you liked them better when they were the “Southern Strokes,” but the best musicians mature over time — and that’s a good thing.)

    Anyway, back to SNL. First, the band played the enormously catchy “Temple,” which — with its quiet-loud dynamic and huge lead guitar hook — is kind of like the raggedy stepchild of “Sex on Fire.” It’s a pretty smooth performance (love those backing vocals on the chorus), and the fashion choices are equally excellent (Caleb donning an awkward pink sweater, cousin Matthew sporting a leather greaser jacket).

    (Side note: love Caleb’s fruity hand gesture at 3:08, as he sings, “crossing my fingers.”)

    As good as “Temple” may be (and it’s pretty great), “Wait for Me” is truly one of the very best songs they’ve ever written — a tear-jerking, whiskey-coated power-ballad that deserves every last arena lighter wave it’ll eventually earn. Caleb gets a bit iffy on the choruses here, but it’s a fairly flawless performance otherwise. If this track isn’t their setlist closer, that’s a seriously wasted opportunity.

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    posted in News by Ryan Reed

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    Screen shot 2013-12-16 at 1.11.12 PM

    Back in September, former Fleetwood Mac member Christine McVie stunned the music community by reuniting with her former bandmates on-stage. Back behind her keyboard, McVie made two guest encore appearances with the band, performing the classic “Don’t Stop” — the first time all five members of the classic Rumours-era line-up had played together since 1998. It was a brief tease of what could be, and McVie is reportedly eager to join the band for a more full-fledged reunion.

    The singer-songwriter has been vocal about how much she enjoyed the experience, and she gives more details in a new interview with The Guardian. “At the time, they tried to persuade me to stay so hard,” she said of her original departure. “But back then I’d made my mind up that I’d done enough touring. I just couldn’t live out of a suitcase any more. Whereas now I would really rather like to again.”

    Of course, Mac fans got some back news back in October, with bassist John McVie’s cancer diagnosis. The band were forced to cancel 14 dates in Australia and New Zealand while the male McVie (Christine’s former husband) received treatment. But the good news is that, according to Christine, the “prognosis is good” and the bassist should be “up and running again in a couple of months.”

    The reunion performance, it turns out, wasn’t even as nerve-wracking as she expected.

    “It was like falling off a bike,” McVie says. “I climbed back on there again and there they all were, the same old faces! (…) It wasn’t anywhere near as bad as I thought. In fact, it felt great!”

    The same interview also features some choice quotes from McVie’s partner-in-crime, Stevie Nicks. Reflecting on the band during their ’70s prime, she calls Fleetwood Mac “a force of nature” and describes the determination she felt to remain a strong, independent woman in a male-dominated industry.

    “And we made a pact, probably in our first rehearsal, that we would never accept being treated as second-class citizens in the music business,” Nicks says. “That when we walked into a room we would be so fantastic and so strong and so smart that none of the uber-rockstar group of men would look through us. And they never did.”

    McVie also describes her friendship with Nicks, emphasizing the importance of their simple bond — which strayed far from the cocaine-fueled debauchery of their male bandmates. “We shared rooms,” she says of Nicks, “did each other’s makeup and lived on Dunkin’ Donuts.” (That is…adorable.)

    “We really were quite tame people back then,” Nicks says. “The band had two couples in it, plus Mick was married with two little girls – so we had to behave. We’d play a gig, get on an aeroplane right after the show and leave to the next place. And we were watched like hawks. We had security outside each of our rooms so Chris and I were almost like traveling rock ‘n’ roll nuns.”

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    posted in News by Ryan Reed

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    Credit: Facebook

    Brian May is one busy rock god. He’s still helping guide the upcoming Freddie Mercury biopic, and he’s also compiling a new Queen rarities LP (which will feature collaborative tracks between Mercury and…Michael Jackson). May dropped some details in a very entertaining interview with Rolling Stone.

    “There’s something coming,” May says of the Queen album, “but I’m not really quite sure what it is yet. (…) We were looking at putting together a compilation of the more unusual and yet memorable Queen tracks. Things that weren’t singles that have become or stayed popular through the years. That’s the way it started and then we unearthed a few tapes of Freddie singing and us in the studio that we never finished off.

    “Roger (Taylor) and I have both been working on (new backing) tracks in our spare time,” he continues. “A couple of them have Michael Jackson on as well, which adds another layer of interest. Freddie and Michael singing together and experimenting in the ’80s.”

    Let’s let that sink in for a second. (As if the Bowie-Mercury duet on “Under Pressure” wasn’t enough collaborative star power.) The tracks will include “at least one dancey (one)” and “at least one ballady one.” (I really want to hear the “dancey” one.)

    “Michael used to come see us a lot,” May adds. “He was a big big fan, especially of Freddie, and Freddie and Michael got on real real well. Michael was very impressed with our lighting rig, I remember. I can’t remember which tour it was. We had pods of lights that moved above the stage that had pilots in them. He said, ‘I’m stealing that,’ and sure enough on the ‘Victory’ tour they had something very similar. But Michael really was very fond of Freddie and sort (of) idolized him. Michael really felt he wanted to be a rock star.”

    Meanwhile, May is also quick to reiterate his recent comments about Sacha Baron Cohen’s amicable exit from the Mercury biopic. Despite the tabloid-style controversy, May says the two parties split because Cohen’s high profile would be “distracting” from the story.

    “We’re still in touch, and we’re still good friends,” he says. “We just came to the conclusions that it wasn’t going to work with Sacha in the leading role. He’s brilliant. But we felt that having Sacha in there would be so distracting because he’s such a powerful persona and the characters he makes tend to stand out in a way that wouldn’t be suitable for the film. Freddie has to be, in this movie, completely believable. You have to not question for an instant that you’re watching Freddie, and that couldn’t have happened with Sacha.”

    But I think the real reason you’re reading this story is to know more about the “asteroids” teaser in the headline. Right? Well, at the end of the otherwise fairly normal interview, May switches gears to a foreboding tone: “Tell everyone to watch out for comet Ison,” he warns, “which we might be able to see by the end of the year.”

    “I think it’s highly likely (that an asteroid will hit the planet),” he says. “It’s more than possible and we don’t have enough scouts out there looking for them. So that’s another one of my little crusades. I’m funding a project that’s going to increase the amount of surveillance we do on dark objects that might be heading towards us. A few months ago, we were all looking at this object that came between us and the moon, and while we were all watching that, something hit Russia, which was completely unseen and unexpected. It ought to be a wake-up call. That was a pretty big object. If it had been a little bit bigger and a little bit later, you would have seen a city disappear.”

    So…to summarize, you’ll get to hear some collaborative tracks between Freddie Mercury and Michael Jackson — unless we all get wiped out by an asteroid first.


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    posted in News by Ryan Reed

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    Screen shot 2013-12-17 at 10.46.06 AM

    The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame class of 2014 is now official: Peter Gabriel is getting inducted, along with Nirvana, Cat Stevens, Linda Rondstadt, Kiss, and Hall & Oates. Of course, that means no love for Yes, along with other worthy bands like Deep Purple and The Zombies.

    Before I gripe, let’s talk the good news: Peter Gabriel is the most deserving of all the nominees, so it’s wonderful to see him get his recognition. No other nominee has such a rich discography — and none have been even close to as innovative. From his work with Genesis to his incredible solo career, Gabriel’s been a pioneer for nearly five decades. Some of you think the Rock Hall is a joke, but let’s face it: It exists. People look at it as a measuring stick of an artist’s worth. And if it’s there, we might as well induct the people who deserve it. Gabriel should have been there years ago, but at least he’s getting his due now.

    In a new interview with Rolling Stone, Gabriel seemed appreciative of the award. He also says he plans to attend — and hopefully play.

    “Yeah, I will definitely go,” he says. “The last time I got in, it was like two days before my tour started. I would have otherwise gone. I just thought, ‘I can’t go. We’ve given ourselves very little rehearsal time.’ But it was a great honor. . . Unfortunately, my bass player, Tony Levin, is committed to a prog-rock cruise the week of the event. I have to see if I can do something about that. We want to steal him for a night. (…) I’ll probably play, though if I do ‘In Your Eyes,’ it’ll take 10 minutes and that might be all the time I have.”

    As for the rest of the inductees, I’m straddling the fence. Let’s break these down individually.

    Nirvana: You’d have to be an idiot to deny the band’s cultural influence — as the figurehead of the grunge movement, they literally changed the sonic landscape of rock music. (Sure, some of that credit should be directed to Butch Vig, but whatever.) Here’s my gripe: They released THREE ALBUMS (or four, if you count Incesticide). This brings up a crucial point: Is quantity as important as quality? (Also, you have to remember, one of those three/four albums is the borderline unlistenable Bleach). I can’t say Nirvana wouldn’t get my vote, but one could easily make a case against them.

    Linda Ronstadt: I’ll be honest here — I’m not an expert on her music, so I can’t give an educated response. Like everybody, I love the hits (“Different Drum,” her cover of “Blue Bayou”), and I’m well aware of her impact on pop music. She certainly has the accolades to back her up (multiple Grammy nods in literally every decade of her career) and an effortlessly beautiful voice. From what I know, this seems like a logical choice.

    Cat Stevens: It kinda seems crazy that Cat Stevens isn’t already in the Rock Hall. Though his work under that moniker is concentrated solely in the late ’60s and ’70s, he released a handful of incredible LPs during that time — including 1970′s Tea for the Tillerman and 1971′s Teaser and the Firecat. These days, “Cat Stevens” itself has become an adjective — a shortcut to describe a type of un-ironic acoustic sweetness and intimacy. This is a no-brainer induction.

    Hall & Oates: Another no-brainer. As important as critical acclaim may be, commercial impact has to count for something, and Mr. Hall and the gloriously moustached Mr. Oates have been riding the blue-eyed soul gravy train for decades. (I know Oates has been sporting the clean shaven look in recent years — DON’T LET THE DREAM DIE.) Anyway, “Rich Girl”? “Kiss on My List”? “Maneater”? “Private Eyes”? “I Can’t Go For That”? Are you kidding? Let’s just re-christen it the Rock Hall (& Oates) of Fame.

    Kiss: Can I amend my last point about commercial impact? I really hate Kiss. They’re one of those bands that I despise on a deep level but have trouble articulating exactly why. Still, let me give it a go: UGHHHLIWJDLKANOTALENTOIUIOSIDFJSUCKLKPO EIRPSLKJF. I guess my hatred stems from superficial reasons, mostly: the costumes, the idiocy of Gene Simmons, their terrible album covers. But it’s also a musical hatred: I like “Detroit Rock City” as much as the next schlub, but I just don’t see anything inventive or powerful about it. And I guess that’s the point — I just don’t like the point.

    Finally, I do have to gripe for a second about Yes. I was so excited when they got the nomination, I wrote a piece about why they deserved the vote. Again, I know — awards aren’t a true indicator of a band’s abilities. Steve Howe and Chris Squire and Alan White shouldn’t give a shit. But they do. They’re human beings, and on some level, it’s like not getting picked for the basketball team. This seemed like a big step forward for the Hall — following their induction of Rush and Genesis, finally embracing the legacy of progressive rock. I won’t list all the reasons they deserve the award (I already did that in the previously mentioned piece), but I will say that it’s a shame.

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    posted in Features by Ryan Reed

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    Last Thursday night, progressive bluegrass act The Infamous Stringdusters brought their blistering virtuoso skills to Chattanooga’s Track 29. Hidden Track photographer Amy Fletcher was in attendance, capturing the band’s dizzying prowess in the photo gallery below. (-Ryan Reed)

    Infamous Stringdusters 1 Infamous Stringdusters 2 Infamous Stringdusters 3 Infamous Stringdusters 4 Infamous Stringdusters 5 Infamous Stringdusters 6 Infamous Stringdusters 7 Infamous Stringdusters 8 Infamous Stringdusters 9 Infamous Stringdusters 10 Infamous Stringdusters 11 Infamous Stringdusters 12 Infamous Stringdusters 13 Infamous Stringdusters 14 Infamous Stringdusters 15 Infamous Stringdusters 16 Infamous Stringdusters 17 Infamous Stringdusters 18 Infamous Stringdusters 19 Infamous Stringdusters 20 Infamous Stringdusters 21 Infamous Stringdusters 22 Infamous Stringdusters 23 Infamous Stringdusters 24

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    posted in Into the Lens by Amy Fletcher

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    HIMYM Bass Player Wanted

    (SPOILERS AHEAD, so proceed with caution, you Mother lovers!)

    Season Nine, Episode 13: “Bass Player Wanted”

    Written by: Carter Bays & Craig Thomas; Directed by: Pamela Fryman

    Marshall’s trek to the wedding comes to a close this week when he receives help from a surprising source. Meanwhile, this week’s surprise Broadway guest star pops up to create drama amongst the gang. Overall, How I Met Your Mother delivers one of the better Fall Finale’s I’ve seen so far.

    Quick Breakdown

    Saturday 10 p.m., 20 hours before the wedding.

    Marshall has given up waiting for the bus to get repaired and starts walking to the Farhampton Inn. It seems like a good idea for a hot second, but the trek quickly becomes exhausting and interminable (especially while carrying a baby). A mysterious lady shows up with a van, very eager to give him a ride. That lady is none other than The Mother. She freaks Marshall out by pretending to be psychic, “guessing” how he came to be stuck on the side of the road, but she quickly confesses that she’s met and talked with Lily, and that’s how she has the inside scoop.

    At the Inn bar, the gang is lamenting the loss of the McKenna scotch (again) and the lack of Marshall. Barney declares himself Team Marshall and heads to the bar, followed quickly by Ted. Robin tells Lily that she is Team Lily. Andrew Rannells (Book of Mormon, Girls), sporting facial hair, pops into their conversation. He buddies up with them, even though they have no idea who he is, and he quickly sabotages their friendship — telling Lily that Robin is secretly Team Marshall and then chastising Lily for stealing Robin’s thunder this weekend.

    At the bar, Ted and Barney are arguing over the merits of going to jail for a friend. Andrew Rannells pops in, befriending them a little too easily. Soon he discovers and unleashes another friendship bomb, telling Barney that Ted is moving to Chicago. Barney is quickly offended, severing Ted from his life.

    Turns out, Andrew Rannells is named Darren and he’s a “firestarter.” The Mother was friends with him, letting him into her band. But his penchant for creating drama and ruining friendships — not to mention, hijacking her band as lead singer — has pushed her into quitting her own band (and stealing his van, which Lily advised her to do). Marshall gives her a pep talk, convincing her to return to the wedding and kick Darren out of her band.

    Robin apologizes to Lily by bringing out the Marsh-pillow, telling Lily to release her aggression towards him by pummeling the pillow beast. Ted apologizes to Barney by stealing yet another bottle of McKenna. Marshall arrives and Lily gives him an angry stare before declaring “pause” on their fight and embracing her husband and child. At the bar, The Mother is wallowing in her hatred for Darren, although Linus defends him. She requests the Kennedy package (that Lily has) so that she doesn’t have to go through the Darren-hijacked weekend sober.

    As Ted pours everyone the McKenna, Darren accidentally bumps into him, causing him to drop the bottle. Ted unleashes a little rage of his own and lands a solid punch in Darren’s face. Darren comes into the bar whining about the Best Man hitting him. The Mother perks up, kicks Darren out of her band, and has Linus give a double of his finest scotch to the Best Man. She’s gone when the gang comes inside, and Ted receives his surprise drink. Linus tells him it’s a McKenna 35-year (even better than the McKenna they’ve been dropping all weekend).



    The gang is back together! Most of the secrets are out in the air (although Robin and Marshall are still clueless about Chicago). And the drama with the scotch is more or less resolved. This week was an example of a great way to use a guest star, his charming Disney character face providing the perfect contrast for his inner evil fire-starter. And we learn a bit more about the Mother. All around, this was a solid episode.

    Now for some random thoughts and my favorite moments of the night…

    “Going to jail for your best friend, that’s the dream.” – Barney

    When Darren first appears, Robin and Lily use telepathy to talk about him, assuming he wants to pull off a “tricycle” with them.

    The Mother’s band’s name is Super Freakonomics

    The episode’s title refers to the ad Darren placed looking for a new bass player before the Mother even quit the band.

    Marvin’s second words are “skunk junk” after Marshall and The Mother uses them in the van.

    The tag ending features Marshall discussing his present for Barney. Barney says he wants it right now. Marshall poises his hand for the final slap. The episode cuts out there; presumably the winter premiere will be slap-tastic.

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    posted in Reviews by John Keith

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    Screen shot 2013-12-17 at 1.58.09 PM

    Nothing says Christmas cheer like Will Ferrell’s boyish falsetto. Last night, the comedy legend (and star of Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues, which hits theaters tomorrow, December 18th) dropped by The Late Show with David Letterman, and he used a reliably hilarious method to promote the project: singing a Charlie Brown Christmas carol with a group of pubescent boys.

    There’s not much else to say about this clip, except that it’s fairly incredible. When Ferrell firsts adds his squeaky falsetto to the choir, it’s almost spit-take worthy.

    Ferrell’s sit-down with Letterman was also filled with choice material. The best bit was a story about meeting Harrison Ford on the set of Anchorman 2 and accidentally turning him down for dinner. “I have plenty of dinner in my trailer,” Ferrell reportedly told the action star, “and I’d rather sit alone in my trailer and eat my cold dinner and eat dinner with you, Mr. Harrison Ford.”

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    posted in News by Ryan Reed

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    God Street Wine will celebrate the 25th anniversary of their first show (Dec 13th, 1988 at Nightingale Bar at Second Ave and E. 13th Street in Manhattan) with a pair of performances at New York’s Gramercy Theatre on December 20th and 21st. In conjunction with the anniversary shows, the band will release their first new recordings since 2000 on the planned box set All The Way To Here, which includes six audio CDs (featuring plenty of previously unreleased material) and a DVD with a documentary film about the band along with live performance footage.

    Here is whats in the set, straight from the band’s website:

    DISC 1: BAG Our first indie CD, originally released in 1992, remixed in 2012 by original recording engineer Joe Rogers. Includes “Borderline,” “Hellfire,” “Waiting For the Tide,” and 9 other fan faves.”“

    DISC 2: WHO’S DRIVING: LIVE FROM EAST WEST AND IN-BETWEEN The live album we recorded in 1993 in exchange for a new van. Contains the best of our earliest, wildest, most roadworthy material including “Driving West,” “Imogene” and “Feel The Pressure.” Remastered for this release.”“

    DISCS 3 & 4: $1.99 ROMANCES: RECORDED LIVE AT TRI STUDIOS AUGUST 2012. When we were invited to do a live broadcast from Bob Weir’s Tamalpais Research Institute in the summer of 2012 we knew we had to do something special, so we re-created our fans’ favorite GSW album. $1.99 was originally recorded for Geffen in 1994, and included “Molly,” “Thirsty,” “Ballroom,” “Into The Sea,” and 11 other tracks. This double-disc performance also includes bonus tracks with Bob Weir and Shana Morrison.”

    DISCS 5 & 6: GOTS TO REWIND This double-CD compilation features a full 29 never before released studio tracks, from the band’s first demo, recorded in October 1988, to demos recorded in preparation for a 1998 album that was never released. Some of these cuts will be familiar to Winos, like “Epiphany,” “Electrocute,” and “Straight Line,” while others like “Don’t Say Goodbye” and “Where The Days Go” have never been heard before live or otherwise.”“DISC 7: All The Way To HERE DVD – A 90-minute documentary directed by longtime Wino and TV Producer Lynn Kestenbaum. The DVD also includes a juicy selection of live HD video performances.

    In celebration of this upcoming anniversary, we will be giving away to one lucky winner two tickets to each show on December 20th and 21st — and to another lucky winner a signed copy of the box set All The Way To Here. To win, simply tell us what three God Street Wine songs are truly most musically challenging and captivating — ones that can go head-to-head with the best from other improv-influenced rock bands. We will pick the winners Friday a.m.

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    posted in Giveaways by HT Staff

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    Screen shot 2013-12-18 at 11.23.32 AM

    Pizza, one of the most important if not beautifully understated characters in the 1990 family comedy Home Alone, has enjoyed seemingly exponential success both before and after the gargantuan blockbuster permanently permeated American pop culture back. Just ask Macaulay Culkin (Kevin McCallister) himself, who is currently spending his time as a member of The Pizza Underground, which is — as you probably didn’t expect — a pizza-themed Velvet Underground tribute band. Interestingly, Pizza — specifically, what it means to the inner child in us all (trapped alone somewhere in our parents’ house?) — actually speaks volumes with regards to the irrelevance of attempting to view this film “in context” to one’s current age, or the current realities facing our post-Kevin stabs at adulthood.

    Screen shot 2013-12-18 at 11.24.00 AM

    My girlfriend recently insisted we watch Home Alone “in the spirit of the season,” which is worth nothing simply for the fact that I have (rather aloofly) never truly viewed Home Alone, or its New York-based mimic of a sequel Home Alone 2: Lost in New York (The first two are don’t-think-too-much-about-what-is-actually-happening-here classics, while any subsequent installments in this franchise are inconsequential static) as a Christmas film, per se. For me, and my generally outwardly manifested inner child, this film rests — along with a few cherished others — comfortably in the cinema canon that is My Untouchable ’90s Youth, which is not an unnecessarily hyper-nostalgic wash on a problematic cultural era but, rather, a sometimes reluctant admission that, yes, I too had a childhood that I return to for comfort, not unlike my parents and grandparents I once admonished for such behavior.

    But, anyway. Back to Pizza. I can say with confidence that I’m not the only person my age (26) who can roughly recall hundreds of evenings spent watching a marathon of rented VHS tapes on a rented VCR on days (usually weekends) I would eventually deem “Skibby Days,” which really just meant Pajama Days. These days were often boosted by the presence of Pizza, usually pick-up and never delivery. Sometimes store-bought oven offerings. I remember once eating an entire pizza on my own for my 10th birthday. I vomited, but goddammit, I felt accomplished.

    Earlier this year, I finally transitioned to a fully vegan lifestyle. One of my biggest worries, understandably, was the thought of losing pizza (cheese and meat = no vegan cigar). Thankfully, most crusts and sauces are vegan, so my girlfriend and I will occasionally just order “crust and sauce only” then melt some faux cheese and tofu pepperonis atop it. Simply put, Pizza is really bad for us, and I realize that now. But I’ll be damned if I give it up entirely, hence my veganized attempts at keeping the Pizza dream (childhood) alive.

    Much like Pizza, this film still very much has a place in my heart — an unshakeable position, even with a lot of age-informed critiques attempting to cloud my enjoyment. Sure, when Kevin starts pummelling Marv and Harry with a series of surprisingly violent counterattacks, anyone over the age of 10 is likely to wonder “Why is Kevin not terrified of these two deranged psychopaths who have stated, on several occasions, their individual and collective desires to murder him?” However, spending too much time on such worries ensures that you’re missing the point. And, what is the point, exactly?

    Well, what is the point of Pizza?

    Do we abandon it entirely at the first signs of “it’s bad for us”? Some likely do; but it’s more fun to just adapt your intake.

    Faux cheese and tofu pepperonis, anyone?

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    posted in Features by Trace William Cowen

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    Screen shot 2013-12-18 at 1.07.17 PM

    It’s really the simple things in life: the crisp chill of the autumn air, the spirited laugh of a newborn, watching Paul McCartney scramble (unsuccessfully) to grab a free T-shirt at an NBA game.

    On Tuesday, McCartney (a certified gazillionaire and most likely the owner of many, many fine articles of clothing) attended a Brooklyn Nets game, where he attempted a slam-dunk of savings: When Nets party-starters launched some T-shirts into the crowd, Macca took a deep breath, focused on his target, and…entered the Youtube history books.

    With the shirt in his gaze, his eyes sparkled.

    Screen shot 2013-12-18 at 1.07.36 PM

    He shimmied; he bumbled; he awkwardly flailed, trying desperately to get that T-shirt into his life. But (thankfully, for our viral viewing pleasure) some undeserving douche nabbed it away at the last minute.

    Screen shot 2013-12-18 at 1.07.51 PM

    As a wiser man once said, happiness is a warm T-shirt — but for McCartney, Tuesday turned out to be one hard day’s night.

    (My previous working headline for this story was “You’re Going to Lose That Shirt: Paul McCartney…” What’s yours?)

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    posted in News by Ryan Reed

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