Archive for May, 2008

Hows Your News is coming to Washington D.C. this week
May 28, 2008

With my severe A.D.D. I like to think of myself as a disabled journalists, but there is a truly inspirational group of journalists out there with mental down syndrome and cerebral palsy who travel across the country in a program called “How’s Your News” conducting interviews. This week they’re in Washington, and from what I understand they’ll be doing man on the street interviews, so don’t be surprised if you bump into the “How’s Your News” crew this week. 

http://www.howsyournews.com/abouthyn.html

-Orrin

Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
May 20, 2008

Well, I just saw the new Indiana Jones movie this past Sunday, which was a special advance screening.

Although not as good as the previous 3, I still think it is worth seeing. I also think that this movie will bring in around $150m over the 5 day period counting Memorial Day.

Not to give anything away, but there are some great action scenes and as rumored, a tie-in to aliens.

-Sparks

Spam Baiting
May 20, 2008

Next time you see one of those messages in your in-box from someone in Africa who’s asking for your credit card information so you can help them with their crippling disease or project in Africa, why not get creative with them rather than deleting it? There are some people who have done just that with hillarious results:

The first person, John Cheese, is a comedy writer who decided to try to respond to scammers and see how bizarre he can make the email exchanges before the other person catches on (without ever giving away so much as an address). He has done this multiple times and posted his e-mail exchanges in multiple places. Here’s a sample:

http://www.juvenilecomedy.com/419.htm

The second person is a self-proclaimed spam baiter who attempts to get spammers to waste as much of their time on possible so theoretically they’re scamming less people. This particular person convinced a scammer in nigeria that he is in charge of a fund that gives scholarship money to people who can reproduce samples from american and british tv, and convinced two people in Nigeria to act out a monty python sketch for him:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LvyrzQldOKE

 

Polvo At The Black Cat, May 9, 2008
May 16, 2008

I must apologize for an unforgivable omission from my concert picks column that was a disservice to all of my loyal readers (i.e.: Mom). Somehow, I let the Polvo show slip through the cracks, and it was probably the best concert I’ve seen this year. In my master list of upcoming shows, a Word document on my home computer with all the shows I plan to recommend, I had Polvo listed at one point, but somewhere along the way it was deleted. I almost forgot about the show myself until a friend reminded me about it the day before.

 

Seems like the math rock giants are reuniting in order of importance/influence/legend, at least in my opinion, which is the only one that matters and is always right. We had the Slint reunion a few years back. In December 2006, Chavez regrouped for a couple of shows. Now that Explosions in the Sky has convinced Polvo out of retirement, the band has scheduled some warm up gigs, the first of which was at the Black Cat. I felt privileged to be in the crowd, particularly because of how good the band sounded. The band apologized for missteps here and there, but those were either unnoticeable or inconsequential, not really interfering with the music.

 

The music was about as good as math rock gets, like a heavy metal band playing jazz fusion compositions. Polvo struck a perfect balance of thunderous, plodding metal and pretty ambiance. Though Polvo, like many a math rock band, can be repetitive, when the band struck a groove, it was hypnotic. There were times during some of the instrumental numbers, which tend to stretch into jams, when my mind wandered and I was maybe a little bored, which to me makes my assessment of the show all the more unexpected. Despite losing my attention at times, Polvo made an incredible impression on me. I left so amped, jazzed and excited — almost giddy — and I don’t think that’s happened since the Boris or Dinosaur Jr. shows last year.

 

And I’m bumping Chavez to number three. Too much emo in their arithmetic.

 

–Matthew Stabley, Music Snob

Washington D.C. Dragon Boat Festival Date Change Announcement
May 16, 2008

The 7th Annual Washington DC Dragon Boat Festival and Races, originally scheduled for this weekend, May 17th and 18th, has been postponed due to strong and unsafe water currents at the race site.

We apologize to participants & spectators for this unexpected schedule change.

A tentative schedule of May 31st & June 1st is planned for the Festival.

Please come out, between Georgetown & Kennedy Center to see some 60 teams compete for top places in colorful dragon boats, along with great cultural performances and pageantry.

For more information and updates, please visit our website, at:

dragonboatdc.com

DC Cabs & Meters
May 16, 2008

Well, finally I’m starting to see more and more cabs in D.C. using meters. They have until June 1 to make the switch from zones to meters but a few of the drivers are still using zones.

Last weekend, I noticed a big difference in the fare. Going from Georgetown to Ballston, it was $14 for 3 of us. Before with zones, that trip had cost around $19. For the most part, meters will benefit the average rider, esp those who are out late night and don’t have to worry about traffic driving up the cost of the meter.

Urge Overkill At The Black Cat, April 27, 2008
May 15, 2008

Part of the draw of this show was the probability that this band was still a mess, that I’d get to see them fall apart on stage and I could have a good laugh. But really, the hope was that they’d play the kind of punky-yet-arena-worthy-and-still-trashy power pop they mastered in the late ’80s and early ’90s. The kind of rock that had so many people with an ear underground thinking they were the next big thing in rock music when they did get a major label deal during the alternative rock explosion. Though the band harnessed that energy of its youth, it didn’t bother to play many of those old songs.

In a way, that was an eye opener. Unfortunately, this band is best known for its cover of Neil Diamond’s “Girl, You’ll Be a Woman Soon,” a song off the 1992 “Stull EP” that originally was just a tossed off cover but later became a noteworthy single after it was featured in Uma Thurman’s overdose scene in “Pulp Fiction.” That’s probably what killed the band. It really wasn’t their kind of music or their style, but it earned them a new audience — while alienating some of the old audience — that their first DGC album didn’t. Of course, the following album, “Exit the Dragon,” didn’t capture the new fans the way “Girl” did, and they revolted, and its cleaner sound alienated even more members of the old audience, and the band was essentially dead on its release. But the songwriting on the album was terrific.

That became clear on stage at the Black Cat 13 years later. While UO ignored most of their early material, they played the latter stuff with the raw energy and snarl of their youth. It was one of the best shows I’ve seen this year. The band was tight, heavy and catchy, as well as witty. Singer/guitarist Nash Kato remarked that back in the day they were familiar with a D.C. response of “are these guys on crack?” an obvious and easy jab at the straight-edge scene, but one that was well played in light of UO’s history of destructive excesses. “Ian MacKaye’s passed out downstairs,” Kato joked.

The band promised a new record in the works, and hopefully they do it right. That is, the way they started. Maybe the window is still open for this to band to be the next big thing in rock.

–Matthew Stabley, Music Snob

A little bit early to declare this a $100 million dollar weekend?
May 12, 2008

If you check the news on most internet outlets or listen to the radio right now (I’m writing this late Sunday night/early Monday morning, 12:27 AM to be exact), you’ll see news about the film Iron Man having had a $100 million plus weekend. Specifically, boxofficemojo has the number at about $750 thousand over the 100 million mark. This is somewhat of a big deal as only a small handful of films have ever grossed that much in a 3-day period. Spiderman was the first to do it in 2002 and since then, 6 other films have done it (Matrix Reloaded, Pirates of the Carribean II and III, Star Wars III, Shrek II and Spiderman III), so it’s an even bigger deal for a film to do it that’s not a sequel and this early in the summer.

But, I digress, here’s the thing. Does anyone ever wonder how the reports of the box office weekend can come out before the weekend is over? Movie theaters around the country are just beginning to close at this hour and the general managers are counting up the revenue produced at the box office for the day. That’s an entire third of the weekend. Well, what actually happens is that the box office gurus predict the weekend count based on Friday and Saturday’s take and extrapolate for what Sunday is supposed to be. On Monday afternoon and even on Tuesday, studio estimates will continually be updated as returns come in. So the actual figure of whether Iron Man grosses $100 million dollars is a very loose figure, but it still is one that newspapers will take and run with tomorrow morning. Keep in mind, the actual figure could be higher or lower than the current estimate, but either way, $750 thousand is a small enough margin of error, that newspapers should mention because if they don’t, it wouldn’t be an entirely honest headline that will line the top of the arts/style/life sections of newspapers nationwide tomorrow morning.

So whatever happens, Iron Man is pretty much now a hit and has made history as the first non-sequel film since Spiderman to gross $100 million in a single weekend, even if it really hasn’t. Five years ago, Matrix Reloaded was given a very low exit score by dissapointed viewers walking out the theater, and it’s not particularly well-remembered today but as far as the studios are concerned, it will always be known as a commercial success for its historic first weekend and history is likely to repeat itself tomorrow morning.

On a side note: The opening number for a weekend box office gross is very important, as movie theaters make a mid-week decision as to what to run the following week, based on weekend box office figures. As a result if a film doesn’t have a good opening weekend, it haseven less of a chance of doing well the second weekend and each subsequent weekend thereafter, so be sure to see a film you want to support between Friday and Monday.

 

 

-Orrin