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Role Playing, Not Just For School Girls Anymore

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meet at a bar

meet at a bar

Tired of the same role playing routines?  Role playing no longer has to be limited to school girls and playing doctor.  Try these new themes when it comes to tantalizing your partner and bringing more excitement to the relationship!

1. TSA

Surprisingly, numerous women love TSAs.  Just think of how many dirty thoughts can run through your mind as your wait in that long security check-point line.  And hey, many of those TSAs are well, not bad at all.  If you own a blue button-up shirt and black dress pants you have a similar outfit for your signifiant other.  Pair this with handcuffs, gloves and a bat.  Talk dirty to your partner about them smuggling drugs or trying to bring a gun onto a plane and how they will have a price to pay for it.  They are sure to give up what you are looking for in no time.

2. The Workplace

Ever been an intern at a company and had a secret yet vivid crush on a person of authority?  Well, fulfill that fantasy now.  If you have a desk and business casual clothes you can always make this happen.  Tell your partner about the scenario, who the person of power was and let them do the rest.  What can you make happen with a few office supplies and an overly comfortable office chair?

3. Stranger

Go to a bar alone and tell your partner to meet you a little later.  Act as though you are single and just looking to meet new people by mixing and mingling at the bar.  When your signifiant other comes to hang out with you at the bar act as if you have never seen them before.  Do this by making up another name and identity for yourself.  Be someone you think would have unbelievable sex and try to stay in character for the rest of the night!  Find out what you two truly can do.  (This can also be applied to a hotel for an extra element of danger and adrenaline!)

4. Dominatrix

(Of course this will only be role playing if it is not something your are normally into.) Pretend you found your partner cheating and now need to teach them a lesson.   Numerous items can be used here, but try whips, handcuffs, blindfolds, small bats, beer bottles, hot wax, chains and more.   Know your partner’s limits, but make every moment worth it!

5. For Intellectuals

Do you get both heated and aroused by a good argument?  If so, pick a topic, do a little research, grab a bottle of wine and simply have at it!  Make a sexual prize for whomever wins the debate.  It’s a great opportunity to stimulate both the mind and body.

Is role playing something you enjoy often?  Share your stories…don’t worry, you don’t have to share you name, although you can if you wish!

Bacon has a killer TV debut in The Following

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Kevin Bacon (l.) and James Purefoy (r.), stars of Fox’s The Following.

Last night marked the debut of the heavily hyped Kevin Bacon thriller The Following on FOX.The show, which tells the tale of retired FBI Agent Ryan Hardy (played by Kevin Bacon) being called back into duty to chase down recently escaped serial killer Joe Carroll (James Purefoy).

Rather than break down the plot due to it’s very twist-heavy nature (and to not spoil anything), I instead will take the opportunity to discuss what I liked and didn’t like:

What I liked: First and foremost, Kevin Bacon does an excellent job in the role of Ryan Hardy, in that he presents Hardy as a fully fleshed out and occasionally flawed loose cannon. Similarly, James Purefoy’s portrayal of Joe Carroll gives off shades of Hannibal Lecter, in that both are charismatic, persuasive, and clearly unhinged, however at no point did I ever get the impression that Carroll was a knockoff of the classic movie villain.

I also feel the show established its’ premise excellently. What initially gives off the vibe of a long chase for Carroll instead sets off a chain in which you are never really sure who is a hero and who is one of Carroll’s disciples, and the show ending twist sets up a clear end goal for the season.

The gore in the show is incredible, if a little over the top at points, with such cringe-worthy moments including a “follower” stabbing herself in the eye on cue and the blood laden garage with a murdered police officer, with enough excess blood to cleanly scrawl the word NEVERMORE on one of the walls.

What I didn’t like: The show seemed to rely on jump scares and scare chords to the same degree you would expect of a d-grade horror film. While one can argue that this is done to create a sense of paranoia, it eventually gets distracting when you’re dealing with scare chords and fake scares every two to three minutes, and the tactic felt old by the end of the episode.

While Hardy and Carroll are well developed characters, it seems like almost everyone else in the background come off wooden and two-dimensional at points. This is particularly evident in Ryan Hardy’s FBI compatriots who only speak in an excessively matter-of-fact tone, and exist solely to be the only characters in the show that do not see Ryan Hardy’s value (at this stage in the game the phrase “ (s)he’ll only talk to you, Hardy” may as well be the shows catchphrase). While I get that the show is primarily a vehicle for Kevin Bacon to work on TV, I don’t feel that the action should only run through him (especially since the premise is clearly horror inspired, and what is a more standard horror trope than people splitting up at their own peril for seemingly no good reason).

Final Verdict: The Following laid a foundation for an excellent thrill ride in its’ pilot episode and I am interested to see where the plot goes forth from this point in time. However, while I understand most pilots tend to be beta-versions of their fully realized selves, I would like to see a little more actual character development for many of the side characters as opposed to the two dimensional cutout treatment they actually receive. Overall, the show will have me hooked for at least a few more episodes and hopefully The Following can blossom into the sort of show that matches the incredible amount of hype that was laid for it before the premiere.

On an unrelated note: As the resident TV junkie of Manhattan Digest, is there anything you, the readers, would like to see covered? If so, please do not hesitate to post a comment (I tend to skew towards smart and madcap comedies, but if there’s something that’s grabbing your attention in the big 1000+ channel morass that is TV, I would love to know so I can look into it!).

Zero Dark Thirty: 2012’s Most Controversial Film?

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For at least a few weeks before it’s release (and for the subsequent month afterwards), Kathryn Bigelow’s latest film Zero Dark Thirty has been achieving a gargantuan amount of press. There’s been plenty of good word, with the film receiving nearly unanimous praise from critics for it’s deft  and relevant subject matter and appearing on many top ten lists. There have been more troubling headlines, however, with some sources calling the film a glorification of torture, an improper exposure to classified material, as well as a shallow reenactment on the war of terror that ultimately gives Osama bin Laden the last laugh (This Rolling Stone article is particularly damning). It’s certainly one of the most challenging films of the year in that regard, and I myself have found myself agreeing with both camps at times. Still, I feel that this a film that must be seen, judged and contemplated by each viewer on his/her own philosophies.

Zero Dark Thirty is very much a follow up film to The Hurt Locker, but it is in some ways an even more important film. The Hurt Locker is an intense study of American soldiers fighting a brutal conflict in Iraq,  while Zero Dark Thirty is a political thriller that acts as a reminder of the paranoia that plagued are nation based on the livelihood of one particular terrorist. As many of you are aware, Zero Dark Thirty is a dramatized account of the decade-long hunt for Osama Bin Laden. The film’s action orbits around central protagonist Maya (Jessica Chastain) a CIA operative with an obsessive need to find Osama Bin Laden. Through a chronological narrative that spans the September 11 attacks right up to the killing of Osama Bin Laden on May 2nd, 2011, Maya acts as our declassified government document that examines what happened to track down the Al Quaida leader. Bribery, speculation, interrogation and the much discussed graphic scenes of torture are the methods that follows in the film’s 157 minute running time.

The allegations that Zero Dark Thirty is exposing unwanted American secrets is not entirely unfounded, but it’s necessary for this type of film to be as truthful as the momentum would allow. Interestingly, the film could have been so much less than what it was, and it can indeed be attributed to the sudden slaying of Osama Bin Laden two years ago. Director Kathryn Bigelow and writer/journalist Mark Boal were planning to make a film about the 2001 siege of the Tora Bora where Osama was believed to have escaped without a trace, but then when he was actually killed in a raid the duo decided to change the film’s concept entirely. Using the research they had accumulated over the last year, the writing/directing pair composed a new film that would center around the whole zeitgeist for America’s hunt for Osama Bin Laden.

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I have to admit, while watching the film I was a bit frustrated at times. The film does indeed begin with a torture scene, which immediately grabbed me, but afterwards I couldn’t help but ask if the filmmakers were suggesting that the actions of the Americans was fully justified. I was fully immersed in the film’s story and performances, and in all honesty it hardly felt like the move was over two-and-a-half hours. Still, my frustrations remained for most of the running time too (perhaps in no small part as we all knew what the ending would be), and I found myself wondering if the film could have posed more questions about did the ends justify the means.

Then…the final shot happened. After a visceral and dynamic climax where I couldn’t stand to blink for a moment, Bigelow and Boal gave us the final shot that the film needed. Not to spoil much, but it was a tender and emotional moment with the film’s lead of Maya. Up to this point we had indeed been seeing this war on terror through her determined mind. Now that it was over, however, both Maya and us viewers were left to ponder what it all meant. Perhaps I’m trying to over-analyze a film that is in many ways just an action film, but I personally don’t think that the filmmakers could have capped off such a compelling work of cinema with a more long-lasting image.

At the end of the day, Zero Dark Thirty is a fabulous political thriller, and the most satisfying American film of the year overall. Whether the filmmakers intended the film to attract this much public outcry is hard to say, but I’m certain they aren’t appreciative that their hard work is being judged as amoral. It’s also an absolute shame that Kathryn Bigelow  was denied a best director nomination this year (along with other shoe-ins like Paul Thomas Anderson, Ben Affleck, and Wes Anderson), but it seems the film has earned itself another merit. Zero Dark Thirty is easily the most controversial film, amidst the most controversial Oscar season in years.

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Max Brenner- Whimsy, unique and freaking delicious

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A couple of months back I was introduced to an amazing restaurant based in the heart of Union Square called Max Brenner’s.  It boasts itself as a great place for yummy food and a variety of great desserts, most notably chocolate.  I went there last week with a good friend of mine, and once again, was not disappointed at all.  Even though we went at peak time on a Friday night, we were seated relatively quickly and had some great conversations with our overtly friendly waitress.  That was just the beginning and it kept getting better.
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I have had my experience with mac n cheese in my entire life.  Most of the time it comes from a box and takes a simple ten minutes to make, yet it is still delicious.  I decided to go with the Really Cheesy-Really Crunchy Mac N Cheese they have their.  It comes with five different cheeses, tomatoes and smoked applewood bacon.  When I first laid eyes on it, it was like heaven on a whole other level.  The variety of cheeses really explode in your mouth on top of the crunchy bacon and fresh tomatoes.  It even comes with a side of marinara sauce, something that I never in my life thought would work for this kind of a dish, but it makes it that much more homier and yummy at the same time.  Hands down the best mac n cheese I have ever had in my life.

That is just one part of how decadent this place really is.  You can’t finish a good meal like that and not try out the dessert.  Just walking in there it feels like you are in Willy Wonka’s world, and it’s one you don’t want to leave.  There are chocolate fountains and a variety of every type of candy and chocolate you can possibly imagine.  That’s just walking in too!  The dessert menu is like the guest list at the Oscar’s, top notch and you know it’s going to be one hell of a treat.  From their fondue (YES FONDUE!!!)  to unique items like Chocolate Pizza, there is something for everyone in that department (especially this pic which easily satisfied me and my friend).

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By the end we were stuffed but beyond satisfied.  If you are in Manhattan or are visiting, this is the place to go and have a great time.

Max Brenner
841 Broadway  New York, NY 10003
(646) 467-8803

West Coast Versus East Coast Beauty, Can We Say “Porn Industry”?

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The AVN Awards Celebrate Their 30th Anniversary

Just this past weekend, The Adult Video News (AVN) Awards celebrated their 30th anniversary in Las Vegas, NV at the Hard Rock Hotel and Casino.  In the heart of Las Vegas, porn stars from all over the country gathered to celebrate their controversial industry.  This is not a show we would see happening in the heart of New York City, but AVN calls Las Vegas home.  This also holds true for numerous sex conventions including the fact that the actual AVN award ceremony only lasts one night, but the event spans the length of the entire weekend including autographed signings and performances by top porn stars.

 

In Sin City, average girls change their appearance to hopefully make more money.  Fake breasts do not only appeal to exotic industries, but they dominate the female workforce in general.  Cocktail waitresses at popular strip hotels will make $17 per/hr, plus tips up to $500 a night!  Now one can see why a $5,000 boob job is super appealing to many young females.  The high school dropout rate also averages 60% since women how they can make cash and fast.  Oh, America.

East Coast Beauty

Ironically in America, beauty is not necessarily in the eye of the beholder.  On one side of the country we are more likely to find “natural” models.  These girls are usually slender and tall, (unless we are referring to the plus size breed) with stunning facial features.  New York City is known for it’s elite models who were born to become successful in their given field.  In NYC, less in more, but the west coast, on the contrary is quite different.

West Coast Splendor

Think about the west coast for a minute. In regards to Las Vegas and Los Angeles in particular, beauty is the polar opposite and often times, it actually means fake is more appealing than anything else. Here people confide in top plastic surgeons to give them a look many people only wish to achieve.  The likes of  breasts implants, lip injections, fake tanning and liposuction are all too popular. Failure to invest in these procedures could either mean a short-lived career or even a lack of one all together.  Even women who dream of being models or actresses often find themselves caught up in the porn industry due to its large appeal and high payout rate.

The Reason

The question is, why has fake become popular and real an afterthought?

Could it be because the porn industry is actually more accepting than the modeling industry ever will be?  While there are numerous fetishes to be fulfilled in the porn industry, modeling remains close-minded and women need to fit into one of very few boxes.

All-in-all, the west coast is known for attracting young singles, is this why the porn industry truly exploded there?

If you get a chance to see both worlds, or have been active in the modeling or porn world let us know, we would love to hear your opinion.

Album Review – Yo La Tengo: Fade

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Fade Yo La Tengo

 

Yo La Tengo:          Fade

Score:          8.5/10

 

Similar Artists: The Modern Lovers, Low, Sonic Youth, Arcade Fire

Genre: Indie Rock, Husband and Wife, Dream Pop

 

Few of the great 90’s bands have transcended their 90’s band status to include the subsequent decade(s). Through Yo La Tengo’s continued elegant songwriting, subtle tweaks in craft, and sonic adventurousness they have done what most of their peers could not. With 2000’s monolithically somber “And Then Nothing Turned Itself Inside Out”, 2006’s relentlessly diverse “I’m Not Afraid of You and I Will Beat Your Ass” and 2009’s enthusiastically pop-laden “Popular Songs”, Ira Kaplan, Georgia Hubley and James McNew easily reached the highs of their previous opuses.

It is now 2013 and it now seems clear that YLT seem intent on conquering the next decade as well. At a conspicuously short (in YLT standards) 46 minutes, some may believe the 4 years since their last outing has left them withered and dry of inspiration. Alas, this album has no track that runs past the 6 minute mark; which means no 15 minute jam sessions that we have become accustomed to on YLT’s previous albums. Some may miss the bad-assery offered by tracks such as “Pass the Hatchet, I Think I’m Mankind”, or “And the Glitter is Gone”, but this album is focused on representing another side of the trio’s talents. “Fade” strips away the more disparate elements of their compositions to reveal an album where each track flows seamlessly into the next. It is not a far cry to call this their most consistent and concise release to date; not too shabby for a band’s 13th release and 4th decade in the industry! Listening to Fade’s beautifully layered, rich composition and heart wrenching guitar lines begs the question…are Yo La Tengo immortal?

Number 13 begins with “Ohm”, which opens with eerie drone pulses and morphs into what is surely one of YLT’s more anthemic songs. Existential lyrics and tight vocal harmonies make this one of the most memorable on the album. “Is That Enough” brings back their tender side and introduces the album’s orchestral section which is featured prominently on the album thanks to John McEntire’s glorious production work. “Well you better” might be the catchiest thing on the record.  It establishes a funky keyboard/bass line that embraces the band’s eccentricities as well as their innate ability to craft a  Perfect 3 minute pop song. On the more experimental side, “Stupid Things”, combines melodic guitar lines, dreamy production and an almost krautrock backdrop. However, the centerpiece remains “Cornelia and Jane” which begins with melancholic opening chords and Georgia Hubley’s understated voice at it’s most serene. The lyrics represent the album title as they evoke a strained relationship on it’s last legs, slowly fading away. “Before we Run” is a effective album closer despite only being 6 minutes long. It is held together by it’s grand orchestral components and stands alone in YLT’s discography.

While I’ve certainly been dolling out unbridled praise for this album, the trio have certainly dished out offerings that are more raw and exciting than this one. Not unlike Radiohead’s “The King of Limbs”, “Fade” exists as a kind of culmination of what we have come to expect to hear from the band, whilst still pushing themselves forward in slightly new directions. Hoboken’s Finest have certainly made their mark on indie music’s consciousness, and their inspiration is one thing that will certainly not fade for quite some time.

 

Track Listing

1.) Ohm*

2.) Is That Enough

3.) Well you Better*

4.) Paddle Forward

5.) Stupid Things*

6.) I’ll Be Around

7.) Cornelia and Jane*

8.) Two Trains

9.) The Point of It

10.) Before we Run

 

* – Album Highlight

Islanders Pick Up A Nice W, While The Knicks and Rangers Each Drop One At MSG

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Evgeni Nabokov made 23 saves in the victory on the Island

There are two professional sports traditions in the New York Metro area every Martin Luther King day. Every MLK day both the New York Islanders and the New York Knicks host matinees as most people are off from work while all are off from school to honor the American Icon. This year it was no different as the Islanders hosted the Tampa Bay Lightning and the Knickerbockers entertained the Brooklyn Nets.

 

First to the ice.

UNIONDALE, N.Y. David Ullstrom scored early in the third period which would give Islanders a dominant four goal lead, but I will divert to the ole’ adage “it aint over till the fat lady sings”. Tampa Bay would score the next 3 and would

Evgeni Nabokov made 23 saves in the victory on the Island
Evgeni Nabokov made 23 saves in the victory on the Island

cool off the young crowd at the coliseum. Luckily for their fans the Isles would escape with a narrow victory as mental mistakes and errors, which would lead to crucial penalties, would mar the final few minutes.

Jack Capuano the coach of the Islanders would take part in his first game of the season as he missed Saturday’s opening night as he was hospitalized due to surgery to remove a kidney stone. Michael Grabner, Matt Martin and Kyle Okposo would also light the lamp in addition to Ullstrom. For the Lightning Martin St.Louis, Benoit Pouliot and 2012 NHL scoring leader Steven Stamkos would tally in the loss. Both Teams are 1-1 with 2 points. The Islanders next contest will be Thursday as they head north of the border for a conference matchup vs Toronto.

 

The afternoon finale on the Hardwood.

The suddenly mediocre New York Knicks hosted the upstart Brooklyn Nets. The Knicks have play once in a week as they traveled across the Atlantic for a game verse Detroit this past Thursday. The Knicks would come into MLK day dropping their previous two MLK contests. Would traveling and jet lag fatigue be a factor?

NEW YORK, NEW YORK: Former All star Joe Johnson made a go-ahead shot with 22 seconds left as his 25 points would lead the Black & White from Brooklyn to a 88-85 over there rivals from Manhattan. In the first year of the Brooklyn Nets they would split the 4 game regular season series. The Knicks who came into the day with a two game division lead had it cut 1 as suddenly they are reeling on their home floor.

Three Nets players would register double doubles including Kris Humphries who was a spark plug off the bench. Carmelo Anthony for the Knicks would drain 29 points but would come up short in the fourth quarter shooting 0-6 from the field. Melo looked tired and drained as his baseline attempt in the final minute looked deflated. Melo would gain separation from the defender and come up with a great look from 12 feet, but looked lethargic in the actual execution. The Knicks are 4-6 in their last ten while Brooklyn is 9-1. It doesn’t get much easier for NYK as they will head to Boston Thursday for a 8pm contest vs the Celtics. Brooklyn is 12-2 since PJ Carlesimo took over as head coach December 27th.

Joe Johnson Scores a basket with under :30 seconds to play to send Brooklyn back to the 718 with a victory
Joe Johnson Scores a basket with under :30 seconds to play to send Brooklyn back to the 718 with a victory

Injury Report:

Amare Stoudemire (Damaged Knee Tissue Debridement Surgery) would play 27 minutes which is the most he has since complaining of knee soreness on January 7th. This was Amare’s 8th contest of the season; in those he has averaged 10.4 PPG while averaging 20.8 minutes.

Iman Shumpert (Torn ACL & Meniscus) scored 2 points and played 20 minutes, which is his limit per game to start. As his season progresses he is expected to extend those minutes based on a timetable and overall comfort. Shumpert’s defense which is his staple is almost on point, which shooting and timing will get better with more playing time.

 

Sunday (Jan 20)

NEW YORK, NEW YORK – With this lockout shortened 48 game season has commenced every day is double as important. The Pittsburgh Penguins have four points and lead the Atlantic Division. On the Flipside the Vegas favorite New York Rangers and Philadelphia Flyers have zero. With the season being so short, it is never to early to look a head to the post season. When Pascal Dupuis tallied the Penguins fourth goal of the game just 29 minutes into the contest it would chase the reigning Vezina Trophy winner Henrik Lunqvist in favor of back up Martin Biron. All en route to a 6-3 Penguins victory. “Personally, it was a tough night,” Lundqvist said. “I don’t really have a good explanation. I just have to keep working hard and try to get better. “I understand the decision. It’s a game where right from the get-go, it felt like the puck was really bouncing my way.”

“I don’t think we’re pushing panic buttons,” said new Rangers addition Rick Nash. “It’s not the start we wanted. We’ve got to get back to work. There are a lot of mistakes out there we have to correct. It’s a short season, so we’ve got to correct them fast.”

Dance Music at the Grammy’s

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Dance music has come a long way in the past decade.  From music you could only hear at 5 am in NYC at clubs like Sound Factory and Crobar, to now being played out by commercialized mainstream radio.  Dance music is beats and vocals dubbed together by artists who can hear melodies where others do not.  Having said this, it is amazing to see these artists being honored, as musicians, at the Grammy awards.

The nominees for Best Dance Recording are all very talented DJ’s.  Avicii is a great DJ who brought dance music to the mainstream when Flo Rida remixed his song Levels.  Although he should be recognized for helping bring dance music to the forefront of American radio, I don’t think he deserves the Grammy this year.  The Best Dance Recording, in my opinion, belongs to Swedish House Mafia featuring John Martin, Don’t you Worry Child.  This song mixes beautiful vocals and lyrics with genius melodies and beats.  Not only can you sing along to this track but you can also get lost in its atmosphere.  Swedish House Mafia is a trio of talented DJ’s and ingenious producers.  They mix just the right amount of commercial feel to get radio air time and still keep the respect of dance music lovers around the world.

The Grammy for the Best Dance/Electronica Album hands down belongs to Kaskade Fire and Ice.  Kaskade is one of the few American DJs and producers to draw followers around the world.  In 2011 Kaskade was voted America’s Best DJ 2011 by www.djtimes.com.  The Fire and Ice album peaked at #17 on the US Charts and #1 on the US Dance Charts.  Kaskade brings together different artists and other DJs in this album and still manages to keep his authentic sound.  The album includes two discs’ (Fire and Ice) which contain the same tracks but mixed in two completely different ways.  Fire is smooth and alluring, while Ice is loud and hard.  Although the same songs, each disc feels and sounds completely unique.  Kaskade deserves this award, in my opinion, and I believe will take home the Grammy this year.  Although the other albums in this category are all great none has the originality and range of skill like Kaskade Fire and Ice.

 

D’Jango Unchained: Tarantino’s Wet Spot

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While the 90s indie boom saw many filmmakers in full boom (Paul Thomas Anderson, The Coen Brothers, Richard Linklater) there’s little argument that Tarantino was most likely the most influential one of his era, as well as the most successful one overall. In all honesty, it wouldn’t be a stretch to call Tarantino the most important American auteur since Martin Scorsese, as his sense of dialogue, extreme violence, non-linear story telling, and retrospective aesthetics practically manufactured the careers of the likes of Guy Ritchie and Martin McDonagh. Hell, had Tarantino decided to set his camera down after making Pulp Fiction and Reservoir Dogs, it would have been enough to give him iconic status. Of course, that didn’t happen though, and Tarantino has continued to make excellent genre cinema for these last two decades, which has seen his style taking both to extemes (Kill Bill) to the more subdued (Jackie Brown).

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The director’s latest, Django Unchained, is very much a cumulnation of the director’s entire body of work up to this point. Certainly a follow-up piece to his WWII film Inglorious Basterds, this new film is in essence a period piece (this time the American south before the Civil War), but one that isn’t afraid to use anachronisms for the sake of good storytelling. D’Jango Unchained is a sparkling homage to spaghetti westerns and blaxploitation cinema, as well as a splatterfest that recalls Tarantino’s love of the cheap thrills of grindhouse cinema. The film centers on the title character, a freed slave (Jamie Foxx) who teams up with a German named King Schultz (Christoph Waltz)  to begin a lucrative partnership in bounty hunting. Of course there is an end goal in mind for our hero Django, as he also plans to rescue his wife Broomhilda (Kerry Washington) from evil plantation owner Calvin Candie, and his similarly twisted house slave Stephen (Samuel L. Jackson).

It’s certainly a story that catches Tarantino in his element, and I honestly think he’s possibly the only filmmaker who could have given this film the much needed tongue-in-cheek quality that it has. It’s a very modern film despite it’s setting and adherence to past eras of cinema. This is most  immediately apparent in a scene where the characters are riding horse-and-buggy across a plantation field as a Rick Ross song plays in the background. It’s anachronistic, attention grabbing, and possibly brilliant film making.

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The film certainly has a higher body count than Sergio Leone could of ever dreamed of, yet for the most part us viewers can’t help but cheer at seeing Django lay waste to these white slaving bastards. Tarantino’s films have always been about kicking up things a few notches from reality, and the slave-driven America that Tarantino showcases here is nothing short of vicious. While there was never any proof towards the existence of mandingo fighting (forcing slaves to fight to the death for entertainment), he implies that the world of Django Unchained accepts it publicly. Many are likely to see this film as a gratuitous sensationalizing of slavery, but just as Tarantino climaxed Inglorious Basterds with Hitler getting his head caved in to machine gun fire, the director is merely exposing the evils of history in his playful and pulpish style.

That said, all of this would be for nothing if the acting couldn’t match Tarantino’s aloofness, but fortunately for us, wise casting has saved the day once again. Jamie Foxx certainly gives Django the right amount of coolness and badassery, but he isn’t quite the highlight of this film, as the supporting cast is just so electric! Christoph Waltz continues to show what a brilliant actor he is, as his affable slave-freer is a complete 180 from the flamboyantly insidious Nazi he played in Inglorious Basterds. Speaking of villains, both Leonardo DiCaprio and Samuel L. Jackson are fantastic in their bad guy roles, and there’s one particular scene involving DiCaprio’s character and a hammer that truly made me cringe.

There are two facets of the film, however, that fall behind Tarantino’s usual standards. For one, this is far from the best script that Tarantino has written as it’s surprisingly linear. It doesn’t have the complex sub-plot conjunction of Inglorious Basterds, or the brilliant time-shifting narratives that have carried his best work, despite a few flashback sequences that are shot in a deliciously grainy exploitation-esque style. Most of the violence is just point and shoot also, as opposed to the more creative pummeling that could be found in his earlier work. Also, Django Unchained is a bit too long, which might be the result of Tarantino’s new editor. All of Tarantino’s previous films were edited by Sally Menke, who sadly passed away in 2009. His new editor Fred Raskin certainly knows how to cut an action sequence, but dialogue heavy scenes aren’t necessarily his forte. It pains me to say it, but there are a few talky scenes in the movie that go on a bit too long.

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Still, D’Jango Unchained is indeed worthy of the Tarantino name, and it’s not really any less messy than some of the spaghetti westerns and exploitation films it’s blatantly mimicking. Fans of the director won’t be disappointed and are even likely to see the film as his best work to date just based on aesthetics alone. Once again, don’t expect Tarantino to win any Oscars this year, but maybe that’s a good thing.

 

A Taste of Fine Country

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CARRIE BLOWN

A Taste of Fine Country
January 2013

This years country nominees truly gives a look at what this genre is, what it was and what it can be. The groups and individuals compiling the country genre all have the talent, soul and passion, but for the Grammy’s, to win, they have to stand out and have that “something special”. Although it is close, the Grammy SHOULD go to….

Carrie Underwood – Blown Away will likely take home the Grammy “Best Country Solo Performance” category. The song is epic, theatrical and emotional. The lyrics are powerful and her voice makes it magical like you’re in the middle of an Oklahoma tornado. The strings in the song, although not typical country fiddle, give it that epic sound and makes an impact on listeners senses. The other nominees are all great, but for me, they lack that “wow” factor. Dierks Bentley’s “Home” is beautiful, Eric Church’s “Springsteen” makes me think about being a teenager again, Blake Shelton’s “Over” touches the starry eyed lover in me, and the others all having parallel themes.

Eli Young Band – Even if it Breaks Your Heart should win the “Best Country Duo / Group Performance”. The song entails all the good eminence of a single AND it’s a quality track. It is immediately catchy and starts of with simple vocals and a guitar strum. The chorus makes you want to sing out loud at a bar with your friends. It is memorable and makes you want to listen to it again. Although I feel this song should win, I have a feeling it may go to Taylor Swift & The Civil Wars – Safe and Sound. This mysterious sounding song is featured in the film “Hunger Games” and demonstrates Taylor Swifts beautiful vocals. But aside from its beautiful, mysterious sound, the song seems, well, manufactured for a movie.

Carrie Underwood – Blown Away will take home “Best Country Song” for all the reasons listed above. Additionally, the people who made that magic happen, should be acknowledged as well.

Zac Brown Band – Uncaged will probably win the Grammy for “Best Album”. However, I say this with hesitance. I’ve repeatedly listened to each album, both in different mindsets and consecutively, and this was difficult. Zac Brown Band’s album was great to listen to and touches many emotions. It makes you long for someone to still love you during “Goodbye in Her Eyes,” relax on a beach during “Island Song,” and do a strip tease during “Overnight,” right before saying goodbye to your loved ones during “Day That I Die”. This album shows what the future of country can bring; classic country, a touch of rock, and even a little bit of soul. The album is genius and deserves a win. I must reiterate that the other albums are just as good in their own ways. Hunter Hayes’ Self Titled album, at first makes, it easy to say that he is the “Justin Beiber of Country” but I couldn’t have been more wrong. Regardless of your age, you can take the lyrics and easily relate them to your own life. And what is even more impressive is that he played every instrument on the album. The Time Jumpers Self Titled album is another great example of fine musicianship. All of the members are talented studio musicians who came together and made classic Western Country music. Jamey Johnsons Tribute, although a tribute, is a great album that demonstrates not only Jamey’s vocals and appreciation for Cochran, but several other well respected artists contribute to the wonderful sound. Last but not least the impressive Miranda Lambert’s – For the Record is strong; in the sense of being a strong woman with powerful vocals. She sings straight from the heart and empowers the listener. But at the end of the day, Zac Brown takes the cake with the “Fine Sampling of Country”.

Pamela Erin Gordon