An Entertainment Hodge-Podge

Saving Journalism? A Solution?

September 5, 2009
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Slate V pleas with America to support journalists.

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The Future of Journalism-Is it worth Saving?

September 5, 2009
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This semester I am taking two journalism classes. And, a scary, common, reoccurring theme keeps creeping into our discussions: What is going to happen to journalism?

My first assignment for my journalism II class was to read a MotherJones pieces titled “Black and White is dead all over.” The article lists facts that I find incredible horrifying and worrisome.

Nearly 1 in 5 newspaper journalists has lost his or her job since 2001,” wrote David Gilson, author of the article. These aren’t good prospects for my future.

But, what is even more frightening is the loss of coverage. “1/3 fewer newspaper reporters are dedicated to covering state capitols today than in 2003,” and “nearly 2/3 of newspaper executives say they’ve cut foreign coverage in the past 3 years.”

So, how do we save journalism?

Walter Isaacson from Time Magazine suggested a iTunes approach in his article “How to Save Your Newspaper.” Instead of giving away news for free on the internet, the papers could charge $0.99 per piece. But, even though iTunes is a great success, the music business is also suffering from the same problems as journalism. Music artists are finding it harder to get people to pay for music, so would they pay for news? Knowing America, one person would pay for it, and then copy it into his blog, where everyone could read it.

A classmate suggested a Netflix approach, where you pay a small monthly fee. But, if the New York Times starts charging, readers will start reading the free Washington Post. It seems that the only way that model might work is if all newspapers did it at the same time, but the same blog problem would still exist.

However, we could begin going the way of ProPublica or the soon to emerge Texas Tribune. These news organizations have chosen a completely online, non-profit model. But, other problems could emerge. Who’s to say that donors don’t try to become too involved in the news or that the recessions stops donations? Our news shouldn’t stop because our economy is going through rough times. (Yes, these would be extreme cases, but they are still something to consider.)

So, what should we do to save journalism?


Austin’s Late-Night Caffeine Joints

September 5, 2009
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Late-night coffee shops are something Austin students can’t get enough of, so here are my top picks for late night hangouts or study time locations.

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Bennu, located at 2001 E. MLK Blvd.

1. Bennu-If you need a great place to study or just want to get out of the house at 2:00am, Bennu (open 24-hours) is a perfect place for you to go. It offers good coffee; some great loose-leaf tea; fun, eclectic, literary-themed mochas, such as the Moby Dick or The Great Gatsby; and  wonderful, personable workers.

2. Epoch– Another 24-hour coffee shop that is a great place hang out but doesn’t usually double as a great study place. The coffee is good, but their tea is o.k. Also, the place can get really loud between the people and the music. But, it is a good alternative if you live in Hyde Park and are not close to MLK (which is where Bennu is located.)

3. Spider House Spider House, although it closes at 2:00am, is another great hangout spot. Usually they host events, such as episodes of Saved by the Bell. Their big outdoor porch is a great place to relax on a nice evening. However, since most of their seating is outside, if it rains (which may seem impossible in Austin,) your screwed. The indoor seating is very minimal. Also, it’s not a great study place because of the noise from the crowd and music and the low-lighting.

4. Halcyon– Located off of W. 4th street, Halcyon is a fun, exciting place for weekend nights. Since it doubles as a coffee shop and bar, you can decide between having a drink, having a caffeine fix or both. (Yes, this is something Spider House offers as well.) However, if you want to come here late a night to study, I wouldn’t. The place is always loud, louder than Spider House and Epoch. But, it’s a great place to observe the weekend night crowd if clubbing and bar hopping is something you don’t enjoy doing.


Save the Dolphins

September 1, 2009
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The cove movie posterI have been converted. I am now on the side of the dolphins.

Over the summer I listened to NPR’s interview on Fresh Air, where host Terry Gross interviewed Ric O’Barry.

Ric O’Barry trained dolphins for the T.V. show Flipper. How did he make the transition from trainer to activist? “It wasn’t until Kathy -the one I thought of as Flipper, at least – died in my arms at the Miami Seaquarium a suicide,” said O’Barry to Gross.

As O’Barry explains, for dolphins breathing is a conscious effort. So, dolphins can choose to stop breathing, otherwise known as self-induced asphyxiation.

But, The Cove, a new documentary where National Geographic photographer Louie Psihoyos follows Ric O’Barry, is literally about a cove.

It investigates a cove in Taiji, Japan where the capture and slaughter of dolphins takes place. Trainers go there to hand select dolphins for training, and the rest? Well, I already explained the purpose of the cove.

Here is a link to the entire interview on NPR: NPR “The Cove” Interview

Warning: Some of the images painted by the interview is slightly disturbing and extremely sad.


Movie to Musical…?

August 30, 2009
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I have always been a big theatre fan. In fact, for a brief period of 5 years, I thought I wanted to be an actor. That dream has sense faded away, but I still enjoy good theatre.

However, I have begun to ponder a question I have no answer to: Why do we insist on making movies into musicals?

For the most part, these movies now musicals are just bad. For instance, Grease. Now, Grease was a movie-musical, but when they attempted to adapt it to a stage-musical, it failed. Epically. (Granted, the movie wasn’t amazing either.)

Chris Bennion's photo of Aaron Tveit, center, in the recent Seattle musical production of “Catch Me if You Can.

Chris Bennion's photo of Aaron Tveit, center, in the recent Seattle musical production of “Catch Me if You Can"

At the end of July, another movie made to musical hit the stages of Seattle. Catch Me if You Can premiered July 23 at the 5th Avenue Theatre. Something about this shakes my inner being. The movie just doesn’t seem, or feel, like a

musical. (At least Grease already had music in it.)

However, I want to be proven wrong.

Many movies have become extremely successful musicals that are exciting and

entertaining. The Lion King is one of my favorite musicals. The strikingly detailed African set is matched by the majestic music by Elton John.

Also, Billy Elliot, once only a movie, was adapted into a musical and won a 2009 Tony for best musical.

It is hard to make a good movie into a good musical. So many have flopped, like Urban Cowboy and The Red Shoes. I just hope Catch Me if You Can is not one of those.


New Cell Phones Mean a New Way of Life: What the iPhone has done to the cell phone industry.

August 28, 2009
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Touch phones, more specifically iPhones, have become a new cell phone standard, but a time existed when cell phones were not an all-in-one touch device. The world of cell phones is changing, and so are the people who have them.

A way the cell phone market has evolved?

Kids are getting them. I heard a parent saying that her daughter’s friend (who’s in 4th grade) just got a cell phone. I got a cell phone in 8th grade, and that was early. (The only reason I got it is because my parents divorced and left me at school one day by accident.)

The people aren’t the only ones that are changing; the devices are changing too.

I can remember when my grandmother had a cell phone that looked like a clunky portable phone you would find in

Nokia 5530 Xpress Music

Nokia 5530 Xpress Music

your house. Now they have cell phones that are less than 1/2 cm thick and as big as a credit card (like the Samsung U600.) However, even small phones are becoming outdated. The new, hip phones are touch phones.

Ever since Apple produced its extremely popular iPhone touch, all major cell phone producers have been forced to develop their own touch phones. Even Google, who just expanded to the cell phone market, revamped their G1 and produced a new MyTouch. Nokia took their Xpress Music phone, revamped it and created an Xpress Music touch phone.

Not only do people expect a touch phone, they also expect their phone to do more than make calls, store numbers and send text messages.

Thanks to the iPhone and the Blackberry, phones have to be all-in-one devices. Even Palm has been forced to enter the cell phone market because no one carries around a phone and a Palm Pilot anymore. And, their new phone, the Palm Pre, is touch.

So, Let’s see. What are the many tasks we expect our phones to do?

iPhone

iPhone

  • Call people
  • Store numbers
  • Text message
  • Send and store emails
  • Have an address book
  • Have a planner or calendar
  • Store music
  • Have fast internet access
  • Have fun games
  • Have GPS

The list could go on and on.

So, is it a bad thing that we expect our phones to do everything? At least this way I don’t have to carry around a phone, an iPod, a planner (or Palm Pilot), and a Nintendo DS. However, everyone is always on their phone, never observing the world around them. In fact, the financial district in London was forced to put cushions around light polls because people were walking into them. Why? They were one their phones.


Bo Burnham at La Zona Rosa

August 27, 2009
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Exciting news everyone!

So, as you know, I have been on a quest for comedic music. I have discovered another one, and he is coming to Austin.

Bo Burnham, self made YouTube star and youngest performer to record a comedy central special, is playing at La Zona Rosa on Saturday, Sept. 10.

Bo Burnham, like Weird Al Yankovic, does not rely on T.V. or digital shorts for comedic success. The teenager may have gotten his start on YouTube, but his music can stand alone. The majority of his videos are just him and his guitar or keyboard.

Burnham has an amazing musical ability. All of his songs are self-written. (That includes the music and the lyrics.)

Plus, if you aren’t in the mood for rap, you can listen to his more folk-y-pop music, like High School Party. But, if your a big fan of comedic rap music, he does plenty of that. (I’m Bo Yo’ is one of my personal favorites.)

The major reason I enjoy his music? The puns. He fills his lyrics with puns.

For example, in I’m Bo Yo the young virtuoso raps, “You’re a first time vegan, and it’s nice to meat ya.”

So, if you’re interested in some laughter and some live music go to La Zona Rosa on Sept. 10. The show starts at 9:oopm and is $25-$30. (Here’s a link to purchase the tickets: http://gettix.net/concert/?event_id=3060 .)


The Comedic Music Saga Continues

August 25, 2009
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After my last post, I realized that all may not appreciate Weird Al Yankovic as I do. Therefore, I have decided to discuss two other groups that have found their way onto my iPod: Flight of the Conchords and the Lonely Island.

Flight of the Conchords is the name of a band, but it is also the name of a HBO show that just finished its second season. Two friends from New Zealand make their way to New York, aspiring for stardom. Instead, they get a horrible manager, who has no idea what he’s doing, and one fan who is more like a stalker.

They are exceptionally good at parodying a part of society. And, although their voices can sometimes hurt your ears, it adds to the comedic-ness of their songs.

But, if you aren’t in the mood to watch a T.V. show like Flight of the Conchords, the Lonely Island is a great alternative.

They got their big break on SNL with their Digital Shorts, and the group–comprised of Akiva Schaffer, Jorma Taccone and Andy Samberg–now has an album called Incredibad. Though some of the songs may only make you smirk (and others may do nothing for you at all), a few will cause you to laugh hysterically.

However, I still prefer Yankovic over Flight of the Conchords and the Lonely Island. Why?

Both Flight of the Conchords and The Lonely Island have become extremely popular over the past couple of years for their hysterical lyrics and song writing. However, unlike Weird Al Yankovic, both of these groups depend more heavily on T.V.

These newer groups often rely on YouTube or the TV, which allows them to create comedic video shorts that often make the music funnier. Most people don’t buy the music until they have seen the video because the music isn’t hysterical until the visual images in the short are imprinted in their head. This is something that Weird Al Yankovic may have used through music videos, but he has never relied heavily on.

Therefore, when I want to watch a comedic music video, I watch Flight of the Conchords or The Lonely Island. But, if I want to sit back and laugh to some music, Weird Al is still my first pick.


I now have a comedic music genre on my iPod.

August 25, 2009
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Weird_al_Yankovic-Straight_Outta_Lynwood_bMusic genres are something I like to dabble in. And, although I never delve into one genre so deeply that I know it through and through, I know a lot of genres. My music genre phases have included rap, r&b, emo, indie, funk, jazz, classical, classic rock and plenty more. However, recently my tastes have proven to be more comedic.

Since I was in middle school, I heard and listened to Weird Al Yankovic. But, only recently have I discovered and recognized his true brilliance. Yes, I know people hate him. I, however, find him to be incredibly creative and hysterical. Now, I know he is no musician, but that doesn’t mean he can’t write lyrics. Even Chamillionaire, who’s Ridin’ Dirty song was the musical inspiration for Yankovic’s White and Nerdy, said he could rap.

Also, Weird Al can conquer any genre. One of my favorites–The Saga Begins–is to the tune of American Pie by Don McLean (who will occasionally sing Yankovic’s lyrics in concert by accident.) When I have my iPod on shuffle, sometimes I can’t distinguish between McLean and Yankovic. Yankovic really takes on the vocal presence of the singer he is imitating.

And, if you just don’t want to listen to folk, you can choose from rap, rock or pop. What more could you ask for?