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Archive for July, 2009

Why does it seem like all of the best solo female vocalists are coming from overseas these days?  I am about six months late to the game on this one (even Perez Hilton beat me to it.  Perez Hilton! For shame!).  However, I wanted to pass-along this video from 21 year old New Zealander Gin Wigmore for her song “These Roses”.  Both the video and the song are pretty bare bones, but there is a feeling of soul in Wigmore’s voice that is very much beyond her years, and when I heard the track for the very first time recently, I knew that I would dig this artist.  “These Roses” comes off of Wigmore’s debut EP, which bears the cutsey title Extended Play.  If you head over to her MySpace or even over to her official site, you’ll see that she has a debut full-length that is “coming soon” — however, from what I’ve gathered, the word on the street is that we can expect it in early 2010.  Regardless of when the release date eventually ends up being, Gin is definitely on my list of artist to keep an eye on.

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Dead Space

In what truly must be the first documented case of “film-imitates-game-imitates-film-imitates-art” Variety is reporting that D.J. Caruso and  Electronic Arts announced at Comic-Con that they’re planning on developing a feature film adaptation of EA’s survival-horror game Deadspace.  If you’ve heard Caruso’s name before it’s most likely because he has helmed a few high profile features, such as Eagle Eye, Disturbia, and S Out of L: the Shia LaBeouf Story.  Okay, so I made the last one up, but the other two are real.  (Side note: if you want to see what’s probably his best movie, check out The Salton Sea which features Val Kilmer and a nose-less Vincent D’Onofrio playing meth addicts, I’m just sayin’)

Now you may find yourself asking; why is he investing his time actually putting up post about this?  A fair question, and there are two reasons.  First, this is the intersection of all the geekiest things that I enjoy; film, video games, sci-fi, I even think they made a Deadspace comic.  This alone made it impossible to ignore.  The second reason is that I find it kind of funny that both EA and Caruso seem to be pretty oblivious to the irony of the fact that they’re talking about making a film adaptation to a video game that was essentially nothing more than a series of thinly veiled homages to old space-horror movies.  I mean it’s a pretty specific genre, there are only so many Alien allusions you can cram in before people start to scratch their heads.

All I’m saying is this.  Maybe the movie will be good and not ridiculous, but just imagine you’re a film executive and somebody walks into your office and gives you the following pitch — “Okay what we want to do is make a horror movie set in space!  How great is that?  So yeah, I’ve seen the Alien movies, but we’ll go in knowing that our audience has too, we’ll allude to it!  It’s post modern!  Kids love that stuff!  I mean, it worked for Event Horizon, right?  Now I know what you’re thinking, where do I sign up, but hold on, it gets better: it’s based on a video game!   Now give me millions of dollars, please, so I can get out of here.”  — if you heard that, would you be excited?  Me either.  Caruso and EA can consider themselves officially on notice.

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This little editorial about the Skip Gates situation was put up on The Atlantic website yesterday, and for whatever reason I forgot to post it, but I intend to make up for the mistake now.

The piece comes from Marc Ambinder who spent three years covering the police beat during his time at Harvard.  For my money, it’s by far and away the most level-headed and articulate take on the whole incident that I’ve read yet.  Unlike some angry liberals who are crying racism and rabid conservatives who are admitting no wrong-doing on the part of the police, Ambinder doesn’t politicize the issue, but rather examines it with a clear head.

I appreciate that he dismisses some of the idea that this confrontation was all too racially motivated, even barring the arresting officer’s pretty sterling history, it just doesn’t seem as though the situation necessarilly warrants that conclusion.  Ambinder writes that “Gates’s physical appearance may be exculpatory for Crowley. If the general idea is that Crowley was unconsciously motivated by racial prejudice, it’s hard to imagine why he’d find a 5 foot 7 inch tall guy with graying hair and a cane to be threatening because of his race.” That point, at the very least, seems to warrant some thought, especially when you combine it with the fact that Officer Crowley doesn’t seem to have any particularly spotty racial incidents in his history of law enforcement.  That being the case, though, what does that mean?  Was Crowley in the wrong at all?  Was Gates?  Who is to blame?  This is where I especially appreciate (and largely agree) with Ambinder’s insights:

“I’d bet that most police officers across the country have at least some sympathy for the officer. I’d wager that most of them might agree that the officer was being pushy when he put Gates in handcuffs…for no other reason than that he could. It’s a mild form of excessive force, but one that police use all the time to intimidate people…most of them deserving of intimidation. Gates was not.”

I’ve spent a fair amount of time with law enforcement myself, and I have to say that when their authority is questioned they have a tendency to bristle.  This, in itself, isn’t always problematic, as a matter of fact it is often a matter of safety for the officers as situations tend to get inflamed.  However, you need to look at things like this on a case by case basis, and in the case of Gates it seems that this bristling came from some over-sensitivity and was probably excessive for the situation.  I’m not entirely sure that the accusations of racial motivations are warranted, but that doesn’t mean that there wasn’t some abuse of power exhibited.  Those are both important distinctions to make as people are politicizing the arrest on both sides.  Also, the fact that this particular incident wasn’t racially motivated doesn’t mean that there isn’t still a racial problem with law enforcement in this country.  It’s important that people remember that.

As far as President Obama’s comments, which Ambinder does touch upon briefly, I think that’s a tougher situation.  For one, there is the fact that the President as a man probably has some different perspective on the situation than we do.  He has the unique experiences of having known Skip Gates for years as well as having lived his life as a black man in America.  I would guess his comment that the police “acted stupidly” were more reflective of Barack Obama the man than Barack Obama the President.  However, even if we are will to concede that the arrest wasn’t racially motivated, does that mean that the President’s comments weren’t accurate given the situation?  In my estimation, they still were.

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Wow.  Doesn’t it seem like we haven’t heard Imogen Heap’s name in a while?  After the release of the Frou Frou album and her own album Speak For Yourself in 2005 it seemed like she was everywhere!  You couldn’t turn on your TV or radio without hearing her voice.  Yet, for some reason, she’s been curiously quiet these last few years.  Well, that’s about to end, as she has been chipping away at a new album, titled Ellipse, to be released at the end of August—and now she’s released a video for “Canvas”, a song that will be appearing on the album.  As you’ve come to expect from Imogen, both the song and video are trippy in a kind of sophisticated and lyrical way, and both are very enjoyable.  Take a peak for yourself, and then head over to her MySpace page and her official site to learn more about Ellipse.

Vodpod videos no longer available.

more about “Imogen Heap “Canvas”“, posted with vodpod

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I’m aware that this video has been around for a couple weeks now, but I typically like to try and digest albums before I go and watch supporting music videos.  Well, I recently got to that point with The Dead Weather and I went to check out the video for their track “Treat Me Like Your Mother”.  First off, the video is directed by Jonathan Glazer, who is a veteran of the game, so it should come as no surprise that it’s strong visually.  Secondly, I’m am entertained that the video actually has something of a narrative to it, in fact I keep seeing it called a “short film”, not a music video, which is pretty cool.  Check it out for yourself, if you haven’t already.  As always, here’s The Dead Weather’s official site. If you haven’t already, go out and buy Horehound, as it kicks ass.

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Blackwater Will Gag You

I’m in the midst of a busy day, so I’m going to have to keep this brief, but I really wanted to throw a post up about this.  Over at The Nation there’s an article that talks about Blackwater’s (alias: Xe) recent attempts to use court orders silence the families of Iraqi civilians who are suing the corporation for human rights abuses.  This is a change from their previous policy of simply trying to buy the silence of Iraqi civilians, as the article cites payments to families of up to $20,000. Here’s a little snippet:

“On July 20, the company’s high-powered lawyers from Mayer Brown, which boasts that it represents eighty-nine of the Fortune 100 companies and thirty-five of the fifty largest US banks, filed a motion in the US District Court for the Eastern District of Virginia to impose a gag order on Iraqi civilians suing the company. The motion also seeks to silence the lawyers representing the families of Iraqis allegedly killed or injured by Blackwater in a series of violent incidents spanning several years.”

I find all of this, obviously, to be a little off putting.  Off putting not only because of the obvious moral entanglements that would result from hitting these families with a gag order, but also because of the frightening precedents that it could set.  Now, at this point I’m sure there aren’t too many people who aren’t at least a little daunted by the potential power and lack of accountability of companies like Blackwater.  Imagine the message that is sent to such corporations if they discover they can go through the legal system to silence the complaints of the victims of their indiscretions and abuses.  It would essentially mean that they answer to nobody and instead of fearing the legal system, they would instead be wielding it as their stick.  Scary stuff.

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I guess you can go ahead and add Dinosaur Jr’s latest release Farm to the list of things that I meant to devote a post to, but for whatever reason, never did.  How do I choose to make up for this?  By posting a month old music video of course!  Here’s the video for “Over It” and it’s the first single off the album.  If you haven’t heard the song yet, the video should speak for itself.  Though you probably already know where to find them, here is the band’s MySpace page (I find the idea of J Mascis on MySpace to be both sad and hilarious) and their official site.

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