Pocket Full Of Chump Change

the Chumpchange Friday the 13th review, or “Why do the heroes never take off the big bad’s head when he appears dead?”

The Friday the 13th movie has never really gotten a ton of respect, even amongst those of us that love the horror genre. If “Halloween” is our “Citizen Kane” and the Texas Chainsaw Massacre is our ‘Godfather”, then the Friday the 13th franchise best stacks up with the “Earnest Goes To…” flicks in terms of the prestige scale. There’s a slew of reasons to kick these movies around. I won’t insult your intelligence by listing all of them here, because if you’ve taken the time to click on a review of the Friday the 13th movie, I’ll assume you know what you’re getting yourself into.

Ok, onequick dig: Jason X. Jason goes into space. That’s just…ridiculous. sad and ridiculous.

That said, there some things the Friday movies did great. The creepy ka-ka-ka-ki-ki-ki motiff that served as a prelude to some bad mojo, Tom Savini’s special effect works that created some fantastic “oh snap” kills and singlehandedly allowed the Karo syrup industry to make quota during the eighties, and of course, the Hockey Mask.

So while the Friday movies aren’t much more than dumb, splatter cinema, I admit I geeked out as the date for the reboot got a little closer, and was stoked to grab a free pass for Monday’s sneak preview.

Unlike the Halloween/TCM reboots/remakes/retreads of the past few years, there’s a lot to like about the new Friday the 13th. The blessing of lowered expectations? Perhaps. The set up for the movie is simple. The first two minutes of the new flick tell the whole story of the original: Jason’s mom goes Rambo on a group of camp counselors after her son Jason drowns. The tables are turned on her by the last camper standing via a machete to the neck. Jason, seeing his mother decapitated, picks up where his mom left off, mowing down anyone who ventures near the campsite. Twenty some-odd years later a group of five friends venture to Crystal Lake to score a massive amount of weed. since the dot-com bubble is long over, and we’re balls deep in a recession, you’ve got to hand it to these fine young entrepreneurs. Of course, Mr. Vorhees doesn’t take too kindly too the trespassing, and sends them a gentle message to bugger off via his trusty sidekick, Mr. Machete.

If nothing else, pause for a moment to savor the deliciousness of Jason Vorhees as a weed farmer just trying to protect his stash.

These first twenty minutes are perfect. Jason’s less of a mindless, lumbering zombie and more of a backwoods survivalist. In the past, I’ve never understood how this dude actually kills anyone once they spot him. he moves like a snail full of turkey dinner, yet kids that would give Carl Lewis a run for his money can’t seem to get away from him. They’ll run for miles and miles, while Jason essentially shuffled along and then, BLAMO, machete to the gonads. End scene.

The rebooted Jason is stronger, smarter and faster. Lightning fast. It’s like Mickey decided to stop training Rocky and taught Jason how to eat lightening and crap thunder. Also, the new and improved Jason is more of a back woods survivalist. He sets traps for his victims. He has his place wired to clue hm in if there’s someone creeping about. He is one hell of a creepy, destructive, all powerful presence in this flick. He’s all the things you thoughtJason was when you remembered back on the original film from the eighties, which, in retrospect, were more funny than scary. Adding to the creep factor is the implication that the towns people know they have a berserk killer living in their backyard, but just want to leave well enough alone.

February 20, 2009 Posted by | Uncategorized | | Leave a comment

Blockbuster to add video game rentals to Total Access online program. Can Netflix be far behind?

Starting in the second quarter, Blockbuster will add video game rentals to Total Access, their answer to Netflix’s online rental service. While the move makes a lot of sense it does present some interesting challenges. Video games tend to have shorter shelf life than movies. Even a highly anticipated title like Metal Gear Solid 4 or Fallout 3 will experience major sales dropoffs after just a month or so of release. Games also cost three to four times more than a DVD and double the cost of Blu Ray. Add in the fact that most games now release across multiple platforms, and you’re left with the dilemma of how many titles Blockbuster will need to order per system. This adds up to a daunting task.

Also, if you’ve ever gone into a Blockbuster and tried to rent a hot new gaming title, more power to you. The in store selection is weak.

Still the gaming industry is a multi-billion dollar industry, and titles like GTA IV often earn more in sales on their first dayof release than major movie titles earn their whole theatrical run. It made sense that someone would combine movie and gaming rentals. I’m simply shocked it wasn’t Netflix.

Netfix recently announced over 1.5 million people have signed up for their Watch Now streaming service via Xbox Live. with this massive, built in subscriber base you’d figure they’d be gung-ho about expanding their service to cater to this crowd. Yet they seem content to let Gamefly lead the charge when it comes to online gaming rental. I recently redeemed a 30 Day free trial coupon for Gamefly’s service via my Netflix envelope and am not all that impressed. The gaming selection is weak. any A or even B list title released title of the past two months has low probability of arriving any time soon. The user interface is clunky and unresponsive. Managing the queue is a chore. Still, as a gamer that’s bought a few too many clunkers, the ability to have a game on hand for $15 a month will probably save me a couple hundred this year, so for now I’ll keep the service. That said, I’d gladly cancel and shift funds to my business the moment Netflix offered games. If Blockbuster begins to make inroads to Netflix’s subscriber base, one would expect they’d have to add gaming. Here’s to hoping they won’t wait until it comes to that.

If Netflix does choose to add games to their mix, here’s hoping they do the following:
1) Allow for downloading games straight to the hard driveThis shouldn’t be all that hard. Charge a monthly fee per game until the user deletes it from the hard drive. this would cut down on damaged games, and also alleviate the biggest problem Gamefly has: the unavailability of top tier games. A typical game has as much content as a DVD movie. There’s no reason you can’t begin downloading a game in the evening and have it ready to play when you wake up in the morning
2)Simple rental plans for adding gamesAllow for a simple rate on top of my movie plan. I might keep a movie for a couple days, but it might take weeks to beat a game. I don’t want to that to eat up one of my three-out-at-a-time slots when the wife and I are having Sopranos weekend marathon sessions.
3)Sell used games.I love cleaning up on used games for 30-40% off once they’ve been out for a while. I’m cheap.

February 12, 2009 Posted by | gaming, xbox360 | , , , , , | 2 Comments

New for ’09 Chump Change Radio

chump-change

In what promises to be ignored by the world at large, and quickly forgotten by myself, I’m bringing you the first of what hopes to be a weekly last fm playlist. Since last FM no longer allows for the embedding of playlists, click the photo above and be whisked away to musical bliss. Seriously, it’s like the sonic verison of Calgon.

February 11, 2009 Posted by | indie, music | , , , , , | Leave a comment

The End of 2008 Chumpchange Retrospective “Get Stoked” List of Goodies part two

Picking up from where we left off a mere days ago. Of course if you missed Part One, you ought to go back and read that first. i think we’re going to keep this one simple and list a few of the best bits of tunes and Tinseltown this list. Again, everything below is simply in the order that I happened to think of it in. Lemme know what you think.

What was what in music in 2008:

A good year for pop-punk and power pop. Here’s a short list of what you should be listening to in no particular order (and there’s even handy-dandy links to band websites, er mypace sites, in blue):
Little Lungs-“Hoist Me Up Comparisons to Sleater Kinney are inevitable(and a sign of laziness on my part) but goddamn if that opening “stop-skip-stop-start” riff on “Pet Cemetary” doesn’t kick my ass every time. Easily one of the best bands at the Kickstand this past year’s Gainesville Fest.
Cheap Girls-“Find Me a Drink Home I’ve already written about these boys extensively here (hey-still clinging on to page one of Google hits-a rare win for the home team) so in brief-absolute fantastic power pop with cleverly ironic and dank lyrics. A must-own.
Get Bent-“demo cd-ep-Another band you can read about here There isn’t a single song I’ve listened to more than “Forest Ave.” this year. super fast, catchy and upbeat singalong pop punk. Best basement show of the year by far as well. By far my favorite band of the year.
Lemuria-“Get Better-All too sweet and catchy pop music with tons of bite underneath the surface. Juliana Hatfield with more punch to it.
The Serious Geniuses-You Can Steal The Riffs But You Can’t Steal The talent“-Fun indie rock with nods to Superchunk and Big Star.
The Hold Steady-“Stay Positive-Some folks like to bag on these guys for being a Springsteen derivative. I’d counter that the world would be a much better place if bands took more cues from The Boss and less from Duran Duran.
Ben Weasel & His Iron String Quartet-“These Ones Are Bitter-Proof that no one out-Screeching Weasel’s the original Weasel.
Good Luck-“In To Lake Griffy”-Guitar parts like Braid, lyrically sensibilities like Red Letter Day-era Get Up Kids. Yes please.
The Closet Fairies-“Ghetto Girls seven inch-FYP meets the Marked Men in a last man standing cage match with guitars.
Chuck Ragan-“Ole Diesel seven inch-Further proof this man does nothing half assed. Whaling on his six string while wailing out his heart through by way of his voice, the A-side was one of my most listened to tracks the latter part of this year. A better love song detailing the long road back home to your peace of my mind may not come around for a long while. There’s folks that play revival music because that’s what you do when you grow out of hardcore, and there’s folks that play it because that’s what keeps them standing upright. You can take an easy guess as to which category Mr. Ragan falls under.

One quick website note before we move on to movies:
I wrote about this site recently, but once more with feeling: If You Make It is far and away the best indie music-based site I’ve run across all year. From the stripped down acoustic acts in the long running Pink Couch series, to posted live shows, to demo mp3 albums on the site, you can’t find a better laid out, more diverse, more fun site to explore. bookmark this site immediately.

(to quote Bad Brains)At the Movies in 2008

Many sweet reasons for sweatpant wearing geeks to get their shoes stuck in spit out wads of gum and fingers oily with fake butter in 2008. Before I continue with my list, let me just state I haven’t had the chance to see “The Wrestler” nor “Let the Right One In” yet, but I’m sure I’ll love both. Also, Wall-E was extremely overrated.
Iron Man: Robert Downey Jr. was put solely on this earth to play Anthony Stark whilst mugging it up as a billionaire playboy/inventive genius. Also, imagining Jeff Bridges as “the Dude” who decided to take Lebowski the elder’s advice, accept that the bums lost and go legit and become a profit obsessed wiley corporate tycoon enhances your viewing pleasure tenfold.
Wanted: Pretty much the most ridiculous movie of the year, but if you just needed to turn of your brain, drool over fantastic action sequences and the best use of “Bullet Time” special effects since the orignal Matrix, and giggle like a titmouse every time Morgan Freeman used the phrase “Motherfucker” then you walked into the right movie. Bonus nerd points if you were more excited about Konstantin Khabensky from Night Watch having a bit part in the movie than anything onscreen involving Angelina Jolie. I hate to be the guy to make a Brandon Lee reference here, but didn’t you have your fingers crossed just a little bit during the climactic scene? No? Just me?
The Dark Knight: There’s little to nothing new I could add to the billion-word-plus that have already been heaped upon this movie lavishing justified praise from Ledger’s Joker, to the moody atmosphere, gritty, maybe kind of plausible if superheroes existed in the real world kind of crime tale David Goyer and the Nolans put together and the oft-overlook Aaron Eckhardt as the tragic Harvey Dent. Rather, let’s just hope Nolan doesn’t have a six week whiskey and grain alcohol bender leading him to the inevitable conclusion that there’s no way he can top this past effort, so the third film needs to have Bat Nipples just because.
Step Brothers-Way funnier than it had any right to be. I thought this would be another one of those films which gave away all the funny bits in the trailers. Happily, Will Ferrell and John C Reiley are over the top vulgar is this fine flick. It introduced the phrases “ballfro” and “chestpubes” into my everyday vernacular and gave the world the rap battle classic “boats and hos”. What else can you ask for?
Role Models-Paul Rudd is the snarky good looking version I see in the mirror every day. Here’s he’s teamed with Stifler plus ten years, the nerd from Superbad and a cute, foul-mouthed black kid. And there’s LARPing and boobs thrown in for good measure. This is a recipe for a good time.
Forgetting Sarah Marshall-Jason Segel reminds me way too much of my friend’s ex-boyfriend, and I’m still on the fence if this is a good thing or a bad thing. That said, you’re going to be hard pressed to find a funnier movie this year. From the pearl necklace gag, the pediatrician talk, Paul Rudd as a stoner surfer and Russell Brand as the cock rocker, this move had it all(and that’s before mentioning the brilliance of the puppet Dracula musical).On top of everything else, you have Kristen Bell in a bikini for most of the flick. without going into such details that the lovely Miss Bell ever has to worry, let me just say if we were one day in close proximity to one another, and she were to whisper in my ear, “I’ll let you touch my boobs if you push your wife down the stairs”, well, thankfully my wife has fantastic insurance.
Cloverfield-Granted, the marketing campaign was better than the final product, but despite the Dramamine cam, this is still a fun, scary Monsters smash up NY in the vein of Godzilla type of movies. And yes, there is the post 9/11 undercurrent running through out the film. When all is said and done, there may not have been a better thirty seconds of film all year than the severed Statue of Liberty head careening off cars and building in downtown NY.
Quarantine-Yes this is a near shot-for-shot remake of the spanish thriller [REC], but I didn’t get to see the original in a darkened theater on a 100′ screen. This movie scared the bejesus out of me with it’s claustrophobic atmosphere and unique sense of “oh man that little girl with a head cold is SO going to be a mindless zombie in about fifteen minutes” dread. Loved the twist near the end.
In Bruges-Beautifully filmed hitman tale that actually made me appreciate Colin Farrel AND it had a smarmy dwarf in it. Life does not get much better.

Other things to love about 2008:
-Bill Simmons mailbag columns and podcasts on ESPN.com
-Peter King’s “Monday Morning Quarterback column on si.com, once you get past the Peyton Manning ballwashing
-the Sonos wireless music system
-eMusic.com-Best site for downloading DRM-free independent music
-True Blood on HBO
-Lost Season 4-They moved the island! Holy Shit!
-Dustin Pedroia
-“Whatchoo gonna do when Obamamania runs wild on you!?”
-Live Action FARSIDE cartoon reenactments on FLICKR
-The continued excellence of the DC/Vertigo comic “Fables”




January 1, 2009 Posted by | Blogroll, indie, local music, movies, music, Uncategorized | , , , , , , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The End of 2008 Chumpchange Retrospective “Get Stoked” List of Goodies part one

Since everyone else does these bloody things, I thought I’d toss my own list out there. This is the first part of what will undoubtedly be one of the most epic posts in the history of the internet. In 2123 the great-great-grand-second-nephew of Rick Riley will proclaim this series of posts the Magna Carta of interweb posting on a retrospective documentary detailing early 21st century lifestyles. Then he will turn on his jetpack and fly to Neptune to take out a hostile band of aliens from the galaxy Nefaria. A note of disclaimer: the following list is in no particular order, and consists solely of events, items and curious incidentals which at one point or another have caused me to shimmy my buttocks in a happy dance while wearing nothing but socks and boxers. Without further ado:

Fallout 3: “War. War never changes.” Ron Perlman’s narration begins an epic game which finds the player leaving the safe confines of the vault for the Wasteland-a post-apocalyptic Washington DC overrun with Super Mutants, Raiders, feral ghouls and all sorts of other beasties. Development Studio Bethesda gives the player complete freedom over the game, allowing one to tackle the main quest or dozens of side quests at their own pace. If you’re familiar with the studio’s previous effort, the mammoth RPG Oblivion, you’ll appreciate the improvements in combat (with the target VATS system, which works kind of like a digital 20 sided die), graphics, sound and overall playability. You can spend nearly a hundred hours playing without touching the main objectives at all. After beating the game as a “good” character, I decided to begin from scratch and play as a real bastard. Few moments in gaming history have given me as much joy as pressing a detonator which set off a nuclear warhead that obliterates one of the few remaining functional settlements of the game. There are few moral quandaries more satisfying as deciding whether or not to pay a Scavenger for needed ammo, or just taking out the Ripper and gutting him from head to toe, then pickpocketing the corpse for what you need. Taking audio cues from Bioshock, Fallout integrates a pair of radio stations, one carrying patriotic messages and music from President Malcom McDowell, the other playing old-timey crooners, which adds to the creeptastic atmosphere. There’s few things moe disturbing than getting bashed around the head and neck by a giant mutant while ella fitzgerald quietly sobs for lost love in the headset. Even better, the studio has announced downloadable add-ons for XBOX360 owners that should be available by springtime, which will add dozens more hours of mutant blasting.

1. Doris Kearnes Goodwin’s “Team of Rivals”: Granted this came out in ’05 to much ballyhoo and acclaim, and earned Goodwin the Pulitzer Prize, but its cache rocketed once the title became permanently affixed to the Obama transition team’s strategy of putting together a cabinet consisting of people that would have gladly nudged him in front of fast moving oncoming traffic mere months ago. The narrative details Lincoln’s gift for grassroots politics, his ability to forgive grudges against rivals and keen insights on reading public sentiment as the tools which first, won him the 1860 nomination against candidates thought better suited to the job, and as the country ripped itself apart in the Civil War, Lincoln harnessed these gifts as a means to keep an administration (largely) loyal to his desired course of action. For those that are historically challenged, please allow me to spoil the end for you: the north wins and lincoln gets shot to death.

I Love You Beth Cooper (Larry Doyle)-Jesus I hope this guy publishes more stuff. I haven’t laughed so hard reading since Youth In Revolt. Here’s a quick summation: A nerdy high school valedictorian that no one has ever seemed to notice to use his graduation speech to say “fuck it” and a)Tell anyone and everyone who has ever crossed his path what he really thinks of them, tearing folks a new bunghole along the way and b) telling the lady of his dreams (3 guesses as to her name) that he fancies her. After this, hilarious hi-jinx ensue. Think of this movie as if Say Anything was put into novel form, except Diane Court was a chain-smoking alcoholic nympho with a nice career as late-night Denny’s waitress waiting for her instead of a scholarship to England. Also, expect slightly less kickboxing and Clash on the sound track, but a hair more lesbian experimentation. Apparently, the movie version comes out summer ’09 and stars the cheerleader from Heroes, which means it will probably be billed as “Superbad meets Say Anything” except it won’t really be anything like that and I’ll just be bitter that’s someone got paid to steal my byline.

2. Rhapsody music service: If you love music, then Rhapsody is like crack cocaine, if all the crack cocaine you wanted to consume cost you $15 a month and didn’t lead to cold sweats, paranoia, convulsions, manic fist fights with biker gangs,  stealing money from your kids’ piggy bank, scabbies, and eventual death from one’s heart bursting inside the chest. With over six million songs in the data base, a simple user interface, easy to create playlists and a better internet radio service than Pandora, Rhapsody is the best way to listen to music online. Not only was I able to find anything and everything from mainstream artists like Springsteen, U2, REM and others, I’m constantly amazed my the staple of independent artists i find on their site. A quick check of my artists page finds diverse acts like the New Dumb, the Mishaps, Atom and His Package, Lifetime and more right at my fingertips. I can’t recommend this site strongly enough.

DarkHorizons.com: as a movie nerd, this is my one stop shop place to grab all the latest headlines. Whether it’s all the latest bits of trade gossip, updates on the status of upcoming films or behind the scene interviews with the cast and creators, Dark Horizon has it all. On top of that, there’s a massive directory of movie trailers, most available in high def. It’s the perfect way to treat a Sunday morning hangover. Finally, the site excludes a “talk back”forum, so you don’t have to have your manhood challenged, nor the integrity of one’s mother’s virtue called into doubt simply because you didn’t feel like a season 3 episode of Heroes is the television equivalent of filling a potato sack with cherubic little infants, then smashing said bag repeatedly over a rock.

Okay that’s it for part one. Part two is a mere twenty four hours away. Digg it people.




December 29, 2008 Posted by | arts, Blogroll, gaming, music, xbox360 | , , , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

The PFCC Flickr stream is updated! Get Bent! Able Baker Fox! Joe Biden! Fully Clothed pics of my wife!

I recently updated my flickr site with photos from October’s Gainesville fest, a Joe Biden pre-election rally at the UofFl, and a basement show in Allston with my favorite band of the year, Get Bent, plus Witches, and two new local bands: Strong Reaction and 50,000 Voices. Click the photo is this post, and it’ll take you to my flickr account. While you’re there, add me as a contact, share pics you like and leave me some feeback.

Won’t report to in depth about Fest this year. aside from my friends in the Serious Geniuses playing, along with nearly every band that played at kickstand (Gordon Gano’s Army, Good Luck, Little Lungs, Delay) and the sold out Cheap Girls show, it wasn’t as much fun as 07. I skipped the last day entirely.

The Get Bent show in Allston was amazingly fun. I forgot that kids in Boston will every now and again flip our for a band. The poor guys in Get Bent must’ve had their amps knocked over three times during their set, though they didn’t seem to mind. Welll worth the wait to finally get to see them live. Strong Reaction is Mark and Jeff of Witches Witch Dicks/Closet Fairies. They sound a lot more like the former than the latter. With a name derived from Pegboy’s second best album (“earwig” is #1) and their Screeching Weasel cover, this new trio does the Chicago by way of Boston gritty but catchy pop punk down to a T. Looking forward to seeing kids go nuts for them in the near future.

And for those that want to see pics of the fabulous Clare and I’s recent weekend foray to Ogonquit Maine, we’ve got dsome pics of the beach and the two of us freezing our tookuses of while waiting to get on a haunted hayride.




December 22, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , , , , | Leave a comment

From the Gear Files: the new Escient Vision media servers

 

On of the most frustrating aspects of designing a home theater system is the task of managing entertainment. Different user interfaces with multitudes of menus and sub menus serve as an endless source of confoundment. Even a well designed universal remote, with endless delays, page flips and button changes can offer little assistance. As home theater moves closer to pure digital content (dragging a stubborn CI channel along with it), manufacturers search for ways to create simple, fun ways for us to access our movies and music.  

Stepping up to the plate with a new line of media servers dubbed “Vision”, Escient has nearly hit one out of the park. There are a couple of things preventing this from being an absolute home run, but overall, it comes very very close.

 This all-in-one media device allows you to rip CD’s and DVD’s to a central hard drive, store digital photos for playback on your HDTV display and gives Rhapsody music service subscribers access to the millions of songs available in their digital library. Easy to set up, and easy to use, Escient has hit one nearly out of the park with this new device.

The lineup consists of four total pieces: A 500gig server client ($3,999), 1TB server client ($5999), 4TB server ($7,999), and a stand alone client ($1,999). By adding up to four clients in addition to a server, families can stream up to five movies to five different rooms. The units support all current tv resolutions including 1080p, though it is important to note that there is not a Blu Ray player on board, only a DVD tray.   This is the first stumbling block.  I understand limited hard drive space doesn’t make ripping Blu Ray an effective solution. Still, at such a large price point, the unit should include Blu Ray playback capability. This  at the price point Escient is asking consumers toAs far as Blu-Ray playback goes, Escient is banking on compatibility with future Blu Ray mega changers, such as the mock up Sony showed at this September’s CEDIA convention. The changer would connect to the vision via an HDMI cable for picture and sound, and an RS-232 cable for control and meta data.

So what’s there to like? Well, let’s start with the GUI. It’s amazingly intuitive. If you’re familiar with Apple TV, you’re familiar with the Vision interface. it couldn’t be easier to search for music or movies, and the response is extremely fast. The on screen menu is bleeding edge sharp. One advantage of Vision over Apple TV is the multitude of search options which let you find movies by genre, actor, director, title, etc. My feeling on any high end home theater device is if Johnny Loungechair can’t figure out how to use it, then forget about anything else.

Ripping movies and music is a snap. Simply load a movie and hit “ok” on your remote. A standard DVD takes about twenty minutes to record onto the hard drive. Escient creates a bit for bit copy of the DVD, meaning you can’t strip a disc of the menus or often ignored special features in order to conserve hard drive space. The advanatage of this is a near perfect copy of your disc. After downloading the latest software upgrade (v1.1) meant to improve video quality the image might be a hair softer than the disc itself, but overall it is nearly indistinguishable. Searching for titles is a breeze and there’s what I like to call a high “belt hitch” factor, the first time you scroll through DVD titles the same way you search for albums via your itunes library. It simple looks James Dean cool.

Stored music operates under the same principles as movies: load a disc, hit “ok” and within a couple minutes you’ve got tunes. You can also drag and drop music from your computer onto the Escient hard drive as well (the exception is DRM protected tunes, though there’s a ton of  online scuttlebutt that this travesty is going to go the way of the dod bird soon. It’s about time).

So let’s talk about the two easy-to-overlook-but-no-less-awesome features of the Vision: digital photo playback and Rhapsody music service. When you stop to consider the staggering number of digital cameras in homes right now, then think of how few people actually share those pictures with friends and family, this service make perfect sense. Take the pictures you’ve already uploaded to your computer, drag them over to your open Vision folder, and within a couple seconds you’re sharing pictures on your high def display in full 1080p glory. You can jazz up slideshows with music playing behind your pics and different slide show transitions. This is a much snappier way to show of your vacations, baby pics, kids recitals, graduations, soccer games, etc.

Finally, there’s Rhapsody. For $13 a month, you get access to their entire music database, currently over six million songs strong. I don’t buy music at anywhere near the rate I did even a few short years ago (if it weren’t for Newbury Comics and the mid to late 90’s being the golden age of pop-punk and beard rock emo music I would have owned a house by 25), so this service has been the best entertainment money I spend every month. I’ve been able to find pretty much anything and everything on here, including tiny indie bands like Amateur Party, The New dumb, Atom and His Package, Tim Barry, Chuck Ragan and more. I’m not (too) embarrassed to admit that I’m rediscovering my undying love for grunge music under my “let’s all watch little mad guy and go to Denny’s at two am playlist”: Ministry,  soundgarden, nirvana, mudhoney, pearl jam, screaming trees-all my grunge favorites in their flannel glory. There’s a 100 or so internet radio stations with every genre under the sun. if you’re jonesing for big band music fro Swahili with a hip hop twist, featuring barnyard animals on percussion, there’s a pretty good shot you’ll find a station that specializes in it.

So what would i improve? For one, there’s no Blu Ray player on board. At this past Cedia, Sony showed a mock-up of a 400 disc Blu Ray changer the Escient should be able to control, but that’s still a ways away. I understand not having Blu Ray storage on board as that would eat up way too much HD space, but with the cost of Blu Ray drives hitting new lows, there’s no reason it can’t play back Blu Ray and rip DVDs, especially when you’re pitching a product as all in one convergence, with one GUI.

The second addition I’d like to see is integration with my Netflix account. I’m currently doing this through an Xbox 360, and it’s a feature I love. Over the next couple of years it is easy to imagine most of your content coming via streaming ‘services rather than a prepaid envelope. If Escient can come to an agreement with Netflix (or vudu, or any streaming video company) all it would take is a simple software upgrade to enable the service. I’m already getting most of my new music through a subscription based service where I don’t “own” a physical disc. I’d have no problem getting my movies by these means as well.





December 22, 2008 Posted by | Blogroll, Home Theater | , , , , , | Leave a comment

Web Fun: ifyoumakeit.com

Do yourself a big favor: Set aside a couple hours and start rummaging through www.ifyoumakeit.com This is a fantabulous music site with an easy to peruse layout, tons of show videos, short films and a home made live movie series. Plus it’s the only site I’ve ever come across that’s spot-checked Canada’s answer to Jawbreaker, M Blanket. Pardon the tangent for a second, but the M Blanket seven inch containing “Even the Score/Processing Yer”  could be the best two songs ever committed to A-side wax. Okay, back to this site: Start with a slew of demos posted from bands like Get Bent (still the best thing I’ve heard all year), Sex and Hosses, Iron Chic and more. On top of that there are individual MP3’s posted.

There’s also short videos posted from a ton of live shows and short films. Haven’t waded much through them yet, except for the Ergs! Down in the Dumps and Lemuria so far. There’s well over 100 videos posted, and the few I’ve seen have very good audio and video.

The real gem of the site is the “Pink Couch” series where touring bands break out the instruments and bust out some music while seated on an overstuffed pink couch. Again, picture and sound quality is top notch. The best part of each video is the facial expressions of each musician suggesting that while they’re having a great time, they’re feeling awkward about being smooshed in on a couch. Perhaps there’s something sharp sticking out of the cushions, and it’s perilously close to the butt. Who knows? Videos are posted my Lemuria, Bomb the Music Industry, Defiance, Ohio, Bridge and Tunnel and others.

 

Overall, it’s a fantastic site to check out new music or hear your favorite bands in a completely different way. Definitely bookmark this site and kick it a few bucks via paypal.

September 30, 2008 Posted by | arts, indie, music | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

Anderson Comedy Troupe Strikes Again. New Comedy Night In Allston

Adding to the Laugh Track, the Rob Crean Show and their open mic night the last Tuesday of the night at the Middle East, the Anderson Comedy Troupe begins a new weekly night mixing stand up and sketch at Great Scott in Allston.

 

Even better, it starts early and is mad cheap. Plenty of time to hit Blanchards for a thirty pack of Pabst and pass out on someone’s dingy kitchen floor only to get peed on b the cat in the middle of the night.

The kick off show consists of: Dan Crohn host of Punk Rock Standup, PJ Westin host of Monday Night Comedy at McFadden’s, the funniest dude in Boston named Sean Sullivan, and Tom E. Morello. Musical guests MC Mr. Napkins  and Robby Roadsteamer. Anderson will also do sketches in between. Rob Crean and Matt Wilding from the Laugh track co-host this event as well.

Doors are at 7:30 and it’s only five bucks to get in.

September 12, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | Leave a comment

More Ear Candy: Cheap Girls “Find Me A Drink Home”

Cheap Girls
Aside from the Get Bent demo, Cheap Girls is the best new band I’ve heard all year. God damn I love this album.

<p>Hailing from Lansing, Michigan, this three piece brings me back to the “good ole days” of the early 1990’s, when good alternative music ruled the airwaves. The summer between my sophomore and junior year of college I had a two am paper route. I’d pickup the newspapers from the depot in Chelmsford and load them into the hatchback, delivering to about 70 houses before 5am. The only thing that kept me awake and alert was the overnight show on WFNX. Because it was so early in the morning, I’d pull over at a payphone (yep-pre cell phone days), and for a quarter I’d make a bunch of requests: Jawbreaker, Soul Asylum, the Wedding Present, the Pixies, Mother May I, etc. It was as close as I could get to a good tape mix as I’d already broken the deck in the car. It was that oh-so short time that alternative music about being a loser was catchy enough to make us want to dance rather than wallow in misery or punch someone in the nuts. In short, this is fantastic guitar driven power-pop much in the vein of early Soul Asylum, Boyracer and Bender. The more I listen to this the more I’m reminded of Bob Mould’s post Husker-Du powerpop band SUGAR. Like Mould’s fantastic threesome, this trio layers great guitar hooks and crunchy rythyms that due to their sheer upbeatness of the tracks at times almost manage to gloss over some dark lyrics: singer Ian Graham fills his lyrics with references to too much boozing (the opening cut “Kind of on Purpose contains the great turn of phrase “My head hits the ground/my body the floor/I’ve been a little bit better/I’ve been worse before”) great loves long lost but not forgotten (“It’s Been 27 days without you/and I still feel the same”). That said, there’s a wry sense of self depreciating humor that runs through the course of the album that never lets it take itself too seriously or delve into a maudilin state (Gotta love the not so subtle digs and hipsters like “I Know everyone there’s no need to know in this city”).  The standout track is “Parking Lot”; a three minute over the top, amps turned to 11 shout out to saying “fuck it” and giving in to slackerdom  (“Tonight I’m going to spend just laying down/smoking all the pot that I just found”). It’s got a massive sound, reminiscent of the catchier tunes on Archers of Loaf “Vee Vee”. It’s followed by “I Should Never”, a song that’s got great, simple melodies and a perfect danceable drumbeat. There’s hints of Shame About Ray/Great Big No era Lemonheads here, but with a lot more muscle, a lot less feyness behind it. Definitely check these guys out at the following link:

May 29, 2008 Posted by | Uncategorized | , | 3 Comments

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