February 24 - March 2, 2010 \ Volume 20 \ Issue 8 \ Always Free
Film | Music | Culture
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Join CAMPUS CIRCLE www.campuscircle.com campus circle February 24 - March 2, 2010 Vol. 20 Issue 8
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04 FILM THE CRAZIES Danielle Panabaker flees from virus- infected psychopaths. 05 FILM L.A. FACES 06 FILM JAMES VAN DER BEEK In the Political Thriller Formosa Betrayed 06 FILM SULTAN SHARRIEF From the Inner City to Bilal’s Stand 10 FILM SCREEN SHOTS 10 FILM PROJECTIONS 11 FILM REVIEWS 12 FILM THE LAST HURRAH Director Jonathan Stokes’ Ideal Party 12 FILM DVD DISH 13 CULTURE ON THE MENU
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Campus Circle > Film > Interviews
Danielle Panabaker stars as Becca Darling in The Crazies.
THE CRAZIES It’s not just Friday the 13th that scares Danielle Panabaker. BY zach bourque The year was 1973, and hippies were in full swing. The Vietnam War was consuming the airwaves, and generally speaking, people weren’t happy. Director George Romero was busy riding high on the success of his little movie called Night of the Living Dead when he released The Crazies. The film was about a small town infected with a deadly, fast-spreading virus and the chaos that ensued. Like so many films of late, the Hollywood powers that be decided to give Romero’s film a proper re-imagining. The film, which retains the original title, opens this week. The Crazies is set in a small, Midwestern town as strange things start to happen. The ordinarily nice and friendly people of Ogden Marsh start to act … a bit, well, crazy. A mysterious toxin is discovered to be infecting the town’s water supply and anyone that comes across it, turning them into violent, senseless animals. Sheriff Dutten (Timothy Olyphant), his wife Judy (Radha Mitchell) along with medical assistant Becca (Danielle Panabaker) and a deputy, Russell (Joe Anderson), must find a way out of the town as they struggle to survive the plague that is tearing their town apart. Director Breck Eisner, whose previous films include Sahara and the upcoming remake of Flash Gordon, breaks into the genre with ease. He directs the excellent cast of Olyphant, Mitchell, Anderson and the charming Panabaker. Panabaker, who led the cast of last year’s remake of Friday the 13th, says that her involvement in both provides an interesting parallel to just how different the films are. “With Jason in Friday the 13th you know what you’re
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running from – a big guy who’s out to kill you. With a disease like this, you don’t really know what’s coming.” A disease-based villain is something that she notes is disturbingly plausible. “It’s extremely contemporary to think that our food or water could be contaminated,” she says. “I recently saw a documentary called Food Inc. that absolutely changed the way that I eat food. You really find out how many chemicals go into all food. There’s simply no way of knowing what’s going on out there. That’s what makes this movie so scary.” This aspect of the film provides an extra layer of substance to an otherwise relatively straightforward horror flick. It is always refreshing to see a genre film possess both brain and balls when it comes to its execution. The film’s small town fictional setting of Ogden Marsh provides an ominous and claustrophobic backdrop for the disturbing events to unfold. The film was actually shot on location in two small towns, one in Georgia and one in Iowa. “Both locations were pretty remote,” says Panabaker. “In Iowa, the town we shot in had a population of 1,200 so
“With Jason in Friday the 13th you know what you’re running from – a big guy who’s out to kill you,” says Panabaker. “With a disease like this, you don’t really know what’s coming.” when we shot there we must have increased the economy by tenfold. I’d never really experienced the small town before.” Yet Panabaker liked working in a small town just fine. “There is something great about being on location and being able to focus solely on the work,” she shares. “I missed my family and friends back home, but there is a certain advantage to being able to focus solely on the work at hand.” When it comes to horror films, it’s all about location, location, location, and fortunately, The Crazies does just fine here. Atmosphere is an important and often overlooked
element of any suspense-oriented horror film, and the film possesses atmosphere in spades. While parallels will undoubtedly be drawn, it is important to note that this is not a zombie film. This could be seen as a negative to some people, but it provides a far more terrifying antagonist than one may initially suspect. The “crazy” people of Ogden Marsh look and act just like Joe Bob and Sally Smith next door. This sense of paranoia is one of elemental importance in The Crazies. Echoing films like John Carpenter’s The Thing, you aren’t quite sure who has the sickness and who doesn’t. While the disease itself is indeed the most notable villain in the film, the lines become blurred once chaos breaks out in the town. Unlike most horror films, there is any number of so-called bad guys in The Crazies. This reinforces the sense of confusion and chaos that the characters must deal with to stay alive. It also provides more than a handful of surprising plot twists as the group struggles to survive. Furthermore, like Romero’s original film, there is ample social commentary in the story that is likely to get people scratching their heads more than they might think. Unlike Friday the 13th, the action and bloodshed hits home a bit more intimately. With all of the paranoia and skepticism concerning some of the government’s more controversial moves, we can all agree that the suspect motives behind the chaos in The Crazies can be at least modestly time appropriate. Furthermore, while the bulk of the craziness (pun intended) of the swine flu epidemic has subsided, it has allowed us to realize that anything is possible when it comes to mass hysteria. While the disease in The Crazies may not be real, we can never be quite sure what kind of chemicals might be floating around in that airplane or in that burger bun. However, The Crazies is first and foremost a horror film, and while the added social commentary is much appreciated, it’s the scares that count. Eisner and company bust out all the stops and take no prisoners. Panabaker puts it best, stating, “There are definitely some gruesome, gory deaths, but there are also some really scary, intense moments and some awesome action sequences.” In the realm of the horror film, you can’t really ask for more. The Crazies releases in theaters Feb. 26.
Join CAMPUS CIRCLE www.campuscircle.com L.A.FACES
Discover the power of love.
Desire to Inspire
BY candice winters
The Syrenz’ fans aren’t just dance enthusiasts.
Based in Los Angeles, the Syrenz are an all female group of performers who bring beauty and spirit to their street dances. Pei Pei Yuan (or “B-Girl Peppa” as she’s artistically known) started the group in 2000. “We are all underground dancers,” says ringleader Peppa. “We earned street respect within our own dances over the years of throwing down in this male-dominated sport in underground jams and battles and practices. It’s not an easy scene to come in to.” The group has taken over, not just the streets, but the global community. Peppa and other members have won numerous awards for their choreography, but it’s the group’s name that leaves the common spectator befuddled. “It was inspired by the sirens in Homer’s Odyssey, intriguing and alluring yet dangerous females who lured sailors to shipwreck,” explains Peppa. “These Manhattan Island Syrenz would intrigue and lure boys into a cypher to ‘burn them’ by their dancing.” Living up to its name, the Syrenz has grown to nine members who have auditioned for prestigious dance shows like “America’s Best Dance Crew.” However, the girls have created a fan base that goes beyond just dance enthusiasts. “We all give back to the community and teach kids to hopefully inspire them to put their energies in to dance rather than negative activities such as violence, gang life or drugs,” says Peppa. “There is no better feeling than being able to communicate through our movements. Dance is a universal language. It’s a constant challenge where the potential for growth is infinite.” Peppa currently teaches break dancing classes in Culver City. E-mail BgirlPeppa@ gmail.com to find out where and when.
A HEARTFELT, “ BEAUTIFULLY MADE FILM ” ” “
. with wonderful actors at the top of their game.
For more information, visit myspace.com/thesyrenz and breakgirl.com.
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James Van Der Beek gets to play the grown-up. BY natasha desianto When most people think of the struggle for self-determination, Tibet or Burma come to mind. Few are likely to consider the struggle of the Taiwanese against the ruling Republic of China (ROC) government and constant threat from the mainland People’s Republic of China. Former “Dawson’s Creek” heartthrob James Van Der Beek helps shed light on the subject in his new film, Formosa Betrayed. Van Der Beek portrays FBI agent Jake Kelly, tasked with investigating the murder of Taiwanese-American Professor Dr. Wen, which initially presents itself as a gang-instigated homicide. Dr. Wen’s grieving widow raises questions about the true motives of her husband’s killers, revealing that Wen was an outspoken activist for Taiwanese independence and writing a book about the 228 Massacre that left 10-30,000 Taiwanese protesters dead at the hands of the Kuomintang government. When the killers flee to Taiwan, Kelly is invited to observe the investigation. With the help of activist Ming (Will Tiao),
Campus Circle > Film > Interviews Kelly uncovers a conspiracy that reaches to the highest levels of the ROC government. Although the story is based on a composite of true events, Formosa Betrayed offers far more than your standard documentary, serving up a gripping political thriller that acts as a catalyst for dialogue. “Instead of giving a history lesson, we had to give the audience an entry point in the story. So they see it through the eyes of this FBI agent who is starting to realize how high up this whole conspiracy goes,” explains Van Der Beek. The role is quite a leap from the actor’s previous roles on “Dawson’s Creek” and in the film Varsity Blues. “I always like to do something different. I just like telling good stories and playing interesting characters,” says Van Der Beek. “To be quite honest, I haven’t been old enough to be in a political thriller. This is the first time I’ve been at an age where I can believably play an FBI agent.” Formosa Betrayed was filmed in Chicago and Bangkok over the course of several weeks. The choice of Bangkok, Van Der Beek explains, was because the city looks like Taipei during the setting of the film, whereas Taipei is now a developed and thriving financial center. “There’s really no substitute for shooting in the actual environment, very similar to the one in which you’re portraying. My character is in a place where he doesn’t know the language, he doesn’t know the culture [and] is in over his head. I was able to relate to all of that. Being in a foreign country, not understanding the language, trying to figure out what’s going on. It just made it feel all that more real,” Van Der Beek says. The groundbreaking film might never have emerged were it not for the perseverance of co-star Tiao. Born in Kansas to Taiwanese parents, he grew up with the history
BILAL’S STANd Sultan Sharrief puts a face on social prosperity. BY spence stokell Having stepped onto the indie filmmaking scene at the age of 19, Sultan Sharrief is no stranger to hardship. His directorial debut feature, Bilal’s Stand, is a fictionalized autobiographical tale of his own life, and a moving testament to just how far an underprivileged innercity kid can go. Raised in Detroit, Sharrief was born into a Muslim family, the seventh of nine children. It is from his family that he drew his inspiration to excel. An ex-Black Panther, Sharrief ’s father made it a point to educate his children on the struggles of the Civil Rights Movement. Sharrief realized his struggle would be to break free of the perceived impossibility of success by everybody around him. Thus began his education at the University of Michigan. While studying sociology, his focus on the needless conflict of perspective continued to follow him. He grew weary as he saw short-term fixes applied to large problems. “Coming from Detroit, you see a lot of that,” he reasons. “Not real solutions, just Band-Aid solutions.” He felt the need to bring his views on perspective, conflict
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James Van Der Beek in Formosa Betrayed of Taiwan implanted in his consciousness. Having worked in international politics under the Clinton and Bush administrations, he left his career with the U.S. government to pursue a career in the entertainment industry. With telling the story of Taiwan (once called Formosa by the Portuguese) his main passion, he raised funds for the project, managing to see his dream realized with the formation of Formosa Films. “For him and his family. this is their The Killing Fields; this is their Syriana,” says Van Der Beek. “Some of the financiers of this film actually lived through this. The people that you see in the protest scene in Chicago in the march were people that organized those marches back in the day. So there’s just a sense throughout the whole shooting itself that this was something bigger than any of us. So at the end of an 18, 20-hour day, it’s your motivation to just suck it up and do it because we’re not just playing for yuks here. This is actually something that is itself pretty important.” Formosa Betrayed releases in select theaters Feb. 26.
Campus Circle > Film > Interviews and indecision to others; to get his message across to those that could use it. So, two and a half years into college, he took an introductory film course. “I loved it, man,” he says. “I dropped everything else and changed my major to film.” It is from this sudden change of focus that his involvement in the feature The Spiral Project began. In 2006, the film was nominated for an MTV Movie Award. For Sharrief, however, this victory was bittersweet. Having proven to himself that filmmaking was possible, he now wanted to make a movie that would fulfill what got him into the process to begin with. So he set forth on two projects: One of these was EFEX (Encouraging the Filmmaking EXperience), a program designed to introduce inner-city youth to their potential through teaching them about filmmaking. His passion for this is apparent; as he puts it, “That’s the hardest part. Being away from my kids.” His other project was a script, a fictionalized selfportrayal, Bilal’s Stand. Unlike The Spiral Project, this film was self-funded. They raised enough for the film and equipment truck rental for two weeks. The rest of the shoot was primarily funded through credit and debt. There was one other big player, however, that he did not foresee: his students. In an assignment in which they were to practice pitching a film, they ended up raising $12,000 in food from local restaurants and businesses for the movie. The shoot was on. But, yet again, the universe would place another obstacle in his way. At the end of the shoot, those behind the project found themselves thousands of dollars in the hole. It took them eight months of fundraising before they could even see the dailies. Eventually, they got back one quarter of the film, with which Sharrief cut a trailer.
Sultan Sharrief, director of Bilal’s Stand Then it was back to the fundraising campaign for another four months. Finally, in September 2009, Sharrief completed his work, and shortly thereafter, it was accepted into Sundance. So what’s next for Sharrief? Lots of things. He is currently running what he terms “an Obama-like campaign” to show Bilal’s Stand to high schools around the nation, along with theatrical screenings, with proceeds being donated to local youth-based charities. He is developing a documentary about Detroit’s food wasteland, in which he examines nutrition and health in a city where a substantial amount of kids primarily get their food from gas stations and liquor stores. And, of course, he continues to teach his students at EFEX. Not bad for an inner-city kid from Detroit. Bilal’s Stand will screen at Cal Fullerton Feb. 24. For more information, visit bilalsstand.com.
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FAVORITE FOREIGN FILMS OF THE PAST DECADE BY zach hines As much as I love American cinema (which isn’t easy), I have a strong love for world cinema as well. Film is art, and like everything in America, the corporate money making machine has added it to its list of “bottom lines.” Anyone with a passion for true art knows that this is not how true art is made. We still get genuine films by true artists in this country, but not often. Which is why I have such an appreciation for foreign films. I’ve listed several of my favorite foreign films from this past decade. If you watch these films and don’t like them, do me a favor and splash hot coffee in your face so I don’t have to.
City of God (Brazil) – In my opinion, this is one of the greatest films of all time. Directed by Fernando Meirelles and a four-time Academy Award nominee in 2004, City of God is an undisputed masterpiece. Everything from the direction, the acting, the cinematography, the locations and
Campus Circle > Film > Screen Shots the innovative narrative style are what dreams are made of. If you don’t like this film, you are dead weight to the human race, and you should be fed to a school of bloodthirsty sharks.
Downfall (Germany) – This is an account of the last 10 days of the Third Reich and of Adolf Hitler’s life. Director Oliver Hirschbiegel did an amazing job, but the most memorable aspect of it was the remarkable work of Bruno Ganz, who stars in the film as Ol’ Uncle Adolf. His performance is intense and realistic, and he captures Hitler so well that at times I felt like I was looking through a window into what actually happened.
I Served the King of England (Czech Republic) – Directed by Jiří Menzel, this film tells the story of a young Czech man who works as a waiter during World War II. I loved how beautifully crafted the visuals were. This is one of those films that captures the time period it’s set in so well, you believe you’re actually there.
Oldboy (South Korea) – This is one third of writer/director Park Chan-wook’s “revenge trilogy,” and it’s a masterpiece. The film follows a man who is kidnapped and imprisoned in a shoddy hotel room with no idea why or who his jailers are. He is kept there for 15 years, at which point he’s mysteriously let go. Obviously pissed off, he sets out to find the people who imprisoned him. The film has an ending that no studio in America would ever have the balls to do. Never.
Tell No One (France): This is one of the best suspense mystery films I’ve ever seen. Directed by Guillaume Canet, the film tells the story of a doctor whose wife is mysteriously murdered, and the killers were never caught. Years later, new
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Now-March 4 @ Nuart Theatre BY candice winters The official countdown has begun: just under two weeks until the best night of the year, in my book. Just under two weeks until (cue the trumpets) the Academy Awards! If I could do a song and dance on paper, then I would just to show my adoration for the completely commercialized night that exploits the billion-dollar industry. And I say that with utter love and respect. I’m sure all you fellow AA addicts have also mounted a makeshift countdown calendar for the big day. I’m sure you’ve even seen everything that’s nominated, including the ones that took a little more searching to find in a theater. But I will bet my bottom dollar that there is one category of films you haven’t seen, not because you don’t care. I know you care. You haven’t seen these, because there really is nowhere to see them. I don’t mean the documentary films, although those are tough cookies to catch as well. No, I’m talking about the
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Brazil’s City of God: one of the greatest films of all time
evidence surfaces that incriminates him as his wife’s killer. As he becomes the prime suspect in the case, he discovers that his wife may in fact still be alive.
Timecrimes (Spain) – Director Nacho Vigalondo has crafted one of the best time travel films ever. It takes an approach to time travel that is plausible and wildly entertaining. All I will say about the plot is that it’s about a man who goes back in time one hour. To say anything else would spoil it. Tsotsi (South Africa) – Before he was hired by Hollywood to direct Rendition and X-Men Origins: Wolverine, writer/ director Gavin Hood won an Oscar for this film, about a hoodlum in a South African ghetto who steals a car only to discover a baby in the back seat. Fearing capture if he tries to return the child, he attempts to take care of it. I love when films have the balls to humanize criminals. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Campus Circle > Film > Projections short films, both animated and live action. Forgot they have two categories all to themselves? That’s what I thought. To preface what I am about to say, I’d like you to know that I am full-length feature type of gal. I like the 90 to 120 minutes of dialogue, characters, narrative, action, suspense, climax, denouement and resolution. I don’t (or didn’t) believe that an entire story could be told in approximately 20-30 minutes. Well for a change, I went out of my way to watch all 10 of the shorts. This was a decision that changed my entire outlook on the category of the short film. Not only can an entire narrative fit in the allotted time, but it’s almost refreshing. To be honest, by the end of a two-hour feature, I’m sometimes itching to leave my seat and leave the tedious story in the theater. After seeing all 10, I definitely have my favorites that I hope will win the big statue in early March. A Matter of Loaf and Death is another installment of Wallace and Gromit that is funny, clever and completely enthralling. It is Nick Park’s fourth short to star the duo in a mock murder mystery. Wallace and Gromit get started in a new bakery business; but fellow bakers are dropping dead like flies. Wallace finds love in Piella Bakewell, a bread lover who may have too much enthusiasm for the profession. This Wallace and Gromit short falls in line with Park’s previous creations. I am now a huge fan. It is so incredibly hard to choose because Wallace and Gromit’s fellow nominees are all very impressive as well. The Antonio Banderas-produced The Lady and the Reaper takes a new spin on death as a comedy, and the witty little film Granny O’Grimm’s Sleeping Beauty shows that every kid’s nightmare stems from somewhere in their blood. In this case, she gets it from her grandmother. As for live-action, I’m torn between Kavi, a story that
A Matter of Loaf and Death will make you a Wallace and Gromit fan.
takes place in India and exposes modern-day slavery in the nation’s slums, and The New Tenants, which is a Tarantinoesque drama about a couple who unknowingly moves into a whole mess of drugs, adultery and trouble. Now that I’ve convinced you to become as passionate about short films as I am, I am now also granting you the opportunity to see them all on the big screen. Running through March 4, the Nuart Theatre is happily offering audiences several chances to see the Best Animated Short and Best Live Action Short 2010 nominees. These films are usually difficult to see, but now viewers have a rare opportunity to get a leg up in their office pools. Though separate admission is required for each, two featurelength programs will be shown – one for the live action nominees and one for the animated nominees. Don’t guess this year. See the shorts for yourself, and you may find that you like them more than you thought you did. Oscar Nominated Shorts is currently in select theaters.
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Campus Circle > Film > Movie Reviews
Eric Lee/Samuel Goldwyn Films
Martine (Kristen Stewart) and Gordy (Eddie Redmayne) in The Yellow Handkerchief
The Yellow Handkerchief (Samuel Goldwyn) The ancient Mayans used the color yellow to mean “ripe” or “precious.” The legendary first emperor of China, Huang Di, was more commonly known as the Yellow Emperor. Only members of the royal family were allowed to display the color yellow in their buildings and garments. Of course, the color yellow also has a derogatory meaning derived from our own American history. In the late 19th and early 20th century, the term “yellow journalism” came to refer to the exploitation and distortion of the news by writers looking to sell more papers. However, Lance Armstrong used the color in his LIVESTRONG campaign. Now, yellow has taken on a new connotation: It references courage, strength and persistence. In this case, persistence is exactly what it stands for. Brett Hanson (William Hurt) has just been released from prison where he spent years doing time for a murder he didn’t mean to commit. Unsure how to lead a normal life post-jail, Hanson meets Martine (Kristen Stewart), a teenage girl looking for someone to return her affections. Martine coaxes the middle-aged exconvict into joining her joy ride with Gordy (Eddie Redmayne), a lanky, semi-antisocial teenage boy who would do anything to keep her attention. The threesome cruise around the small backwater Louisiana town in Gordy’s convertible with the goal of making it to New Orleans. But rain destroys any plans the group has of crossing the county borderlines. Instead, they head to a small hotel where secrets are
revealed. Martine is not as hard as she makes herself out to be, and Gordy is as delicate as he appears. However, it is Brett’s story that keeps his traveling companions enraptured. As it turns out, Brett was once married to his soulmate, May (Maria Bello). The couple lived happily by the river until a miscarriage inflicted a sticky estrangement culminating in his imprisonment and their divorce. Despite separation, Brett still loves May. And the dozens of yellow handkerchiefs that decorate her boat represent her persisting love for him as well. The film is not perfect. The story only begins to unravel halfway through the piece, and the teen characters are stereotypical and underdeveloped. Its predominant redeeming quality is the love story at its core, which cultivates the idea of that imperfect, unforgettable passion that always drives us back where we belong. Grade: B—Candice Winters The Yellow Handkerchief releases in select theaters Feb. 26.
Easier With Practice (Lantern Lane Entertainment) Love can be a daunting thing, and trying to find someone you love who loves you back can be even more overwhelming. Love is something most are looking for. First-time director, Kyle Patrick Alvarez, brings us a poignant film about feeling disconnected with the ones we are closest to, but having the ability to connect with a complete stranger. Based on an autobiographical article
for GQ Magazine entitled, “What are You Wearing?” by Davy Rothbart, Easier With Practice focuses on 28-year-old Davy Mitchell searching for a sense of meaning. Davy (Brian Geraghty, The Hurt Locker), a budding writer, sets out on a road trip with his less than compassionate younger brother in hopes of living like Jack Kerouac, only to be disillusioned by the lonely experience. While in a motel room one night, Davy gets a bizarre phone call from an alluring woman named Nicole. This starts the beginning of a unique, if not lopsided phone relationship between the two strangers that develops into something fantastical for Davy. He eventually wants to meet Nicole in person and turn the fantasy into a reality, but in doing so, he may learn some interesting truths about Nicole and also himself. The film starts off a little slow, but builds and gains momentum as the story continues. Geraghty, in his first lead solo role, is lovable as this character. He portrays the perfect amount of loneliness, naïveté and his longing for something real. Davy has awkward interactions with friends but becomes much more himself on the phone with Nicole. You see a vulnerability and frustration there that he can’t quite seem to express with others in his life. Easier With Practice takes you on both a literal and metaphoric ride with Davy and his desperate quest for a connection. This film focuses on two lonely souls looking for something outside of themselves and in each other. Grade: B+ —Ariel Paredes Easier With Practice releases in select theaters Feb. 26.
(Darius Films) The friends of Arthur Poppington wonder why he sports a dual identity. An everyday man who directs traffic in construction zones by day, he combs the gritty streets of his hometown at night donning an allblack outfit, a Great War trench club and a makeshift symbol on his chest made of duct tape. OK, so Woody Harrelson is no Christian Bale in playing a dark vigilante trying to rid the streets of crime under the cover of night. Thankfully, Harrelson is not in the same area code as Damon Wayans’ renditions of Blankman or Handy Man, either. As moviegoers try to wrap their collective heads around Harrelson playing the role of vigilante superhero, they might just be missing out on one of the greatest performances by one of Hollywood’s most misunderstood actors of all time. In playing the financially struggling construction worker Arthur, while also donning the “Defendor” alter ego to seek social justice, Harrelson discovers a unique character that will (unfortunately) easily slip under the radar this year. Quite the intriguing storyline, Defendor tells the tale of a man seeking retribution against Captain Industry – the man Arthur naively believes is responsible for his mother’s death and other social ills. To find his man, Arthur puts on black face paint, all-black clothing and four strips of duct tape on his chest in the shape of the letter “D.” His only weapons are a camera, flashlights, marbles, killer wasps, a Great War trench club and a young prostitute. In his quest for justice, Arthur’s Defendor persona lands him in the throws of the penal system, only to be analyzed by a courtordered shrink. It is through the interplay between Arthur and his psychiatrist that we learn of the true meaning of Defendor. Soon, Arthur realizes he does not have to be Defendor in order to truly make a positive impact in society. Harrelson delivers a gripping per– formance as Arthur/Defendor, bringing a level of emotion and character development that is so essential in superhero-themed films, yet so difficult to capture. As Defendor plays out, Harrelson captivates moviegoers by portraying the film’s protagonist as a lovable man fighting for the noblest of causes by the most honest and honorable means possible. Equally impressive are Kat Dennings, Sandra Oh and Michael Kelly, all three of whom, despite their skepticism of Defendor, portray Arthur’s loving friends. The story is tight, flows smoothly backand-forth between present-day story and substantive flashback sequences. Perhaps the only weakness is shaky dialogue at times and a less-than-memorable villain. Yet, Defendor is more about Harrelson’s performance and Arthur Poppington than the character’s struggle with his archenemy. It is a must see. Grade: A—Parimal M. Rohit Defendor releases in select theaters Feb. 26.
Campus Circle 2.2410 - 3.2.10
EVENTS DVD GAMING SPORTS MEDIA BLOGS DVD Dish Interviews Movie Reviews Projections Screen Shots Special Features TV Time
BY mike sebastian
Funny Business: Prolific and versatile director
Director Jonathan Stokes with cast before first take.
JONATHAN STOKES The Last Hurrah Director Takes Five BY spence stokell In recent years, the teen comedy has become taboo, synonymous with cheap laughs and awkward, over sexual punch lines. Amidst the flurry of content-lacking films for the genre comes a real gem, an indie flick called The Last Hurrah. Following the last party for graduate philosophy majors, this film reminds audiences of what has since been lost from the high point of ’80s filmmaking. Jonathan Stokes, the film’s director, writer and producer, spearheaded the project. It is no surprise, having been a philosophy major himself, that this film hits the philosophical mark so many of today’s films don’t even realize should be a target within the genre. “I was really drawn to this idea that on the last day of camp, or the last day of the semester, everyone acts differently,” says Stokes. “Everyone has the guts to say how they really feel about people, for better or for worse, because the stakes are lower. They’re going to be gone the next day.” The film is based on Stokes’ image of what an ideal party would be for him. “You know, you go to parties, and you end up having the same sorts of conversations with people, over and over,” he says. “But if you write, you can make up your own parties!” This movie feels like a party. Perhaps the greatest draw to the film is the manner in which it was shot. We aren’t jumping from the backyard, to the driveway, to the store in the blink of an eye. It’s all told in one continuous shot. The viewer truly feels as if he is walking through this party, progressively getting drunker as the night goes on. “The style of narration was very much inspired by Richard Linklater,” Stokes shares. “The other [influence] would be Woody Allen. I love his style of dialogue. I wrote a lot of this dialogue to be, you know, a lot of fast-paced one-liners. A lot of philosophy.” Of course, shooting a film in one continuous take would come with its own unique challenges. The initial obstacle being coordinating a film crew around a party filled with extras. Even more interesting were the limitations of the equipment, as they could only shoot 30 minutes at a time. “We built into the choreography, about every three minutes, there’s some sort of a ‘save game’ point where we could’ve cut if we needed to,” Stokes says. “The thing is that we didn’t end up having to use a lot of them, which is good! We had to keep the actors in the moment. If it was daylight, we couldn’t waste daylight. Those characters had to do the entire party every single night.” And how many nights does it take an entire cast and crew to play out a feature film? Five. Not even completing the film on the first night, the performances and crew choreography improved day after day until finally, on the fifth night, the shoot came together. The movie is very much theatrical play, carefully captured on film. While most filmmakers would shy away from this style, for Stokes, it came quite naturally. Having a background in improvisational theater, he knew if he had the right actors, it could work. Of Will, the film’s starry-eyed protagonist (played by Zack Bennett), Stokes comments, “I wish I could take credit for the naturalness of Zack’s performance, but he was that natural from his first audition, all the way through shooting.” And of Jason, the film’s egotistical woman hunter (played by David Wachs): “The character is very much an amalgam of best friends of mine growing up. People watch the movie and assume that’s what David Wachs is really like, but he’s a sweetheart! Completely different from how he is in real life. It was amazing watching his transformation as he gradually inhabited his character.” After a chaotic shoot and a tenuous year of post-production, the DVD finally hits shelves this week. What is this first-time film director, producer and writer’s response to the idea of seeing his work on shelves? “It’s amazing,” says Stokes. “In this very difficult market for independent film, we felt very lucky that anyone would take a look at us whatsoever for distribution. We really beat the odds, I think, and we’re very grateful.” The Last Hurrah is currently available.
Campus Circle 2.24.10 - 3.2.10
Steven Soderbergh returns with The Informant! Inspired by a true story, the film follows Mark Whitacre (Matt Damon) as an agri-business executive turned FBI informant who blows the whistle on an international price fixing conspiracy. But as the case develops, the overeager Whitacre’s overactive imagination and delusions of grandeur begin to affect the case. Scott Bakula and “Community”’s Joel McHale co-star. Paul Weitz (American Pie) directs the adaptation of Cirque du Freak: The Vampire’s Assistant. The film centers on Darren, a young man who becomes involved with a freak show filled with magical creatures and a vampire, played by John C. Reilly. Soon Darren wishes to become a vampire himself. Salma Hayek and Willem Dafoe co-star. Also available: Uma Thurman in Motherhood, Independent Spirit Award-nominated The Vicious Kind
The Horror! The Horror! Director Richard Kelly (Donnie Darko) adapts Richard Matheson’s short story (already a “Twilight Zone” episode), The Box for the big screen. Cameron Diaz and James Marsden star as a married couple who receive a mysterious box that will grant them a million dollars but kill someone they don’t know. Frank Langella co-stars. Ghost Hunters: Season Five, Part 1. Plumbers by day, Ghost Hunters by night, Jason and Grant travel the country investigating reports of the paranormal. This season has the team at the Betsy Ross House, the Garden State Asylum, Star Island and an Atlanta aquarium where the staff have been reporting disturbances around a display of wreckage from the Titanic. Dead Snow: Nazi Zombies. Need I say more? Also available: Sorority Row
Stranger Than Fiction: Based on historian Howard Zinn’s immensely popular A People’s History of the United States, The People Speak brings to life the words of Americans who spoke for social change, from Muhammad Ali to everyday workers. A long list of celebrities read poems, speeches and letters. Bob Dylan and Bruce Springsteen perform songs by Woody Guthrie. Zinn narrates. The DVD includes 20 minutes of never-aired footage. Examined Life is a fascinating documentary for people interested in philosophy but who don’t necessarily want to slog through volumes of dusty rhetoric. Director Astra Taylor (Zizek!) accompanies several modern thinkers, from Cornel West to Peter Singer and Michael Hardt around places that are evocative for them and their modes of thought as they discuss their views on the world. There should be more films like this. The Universe: The Complete Season Four explores all of the staggering mysteries of space in stunning CGI recreations and HD NASA footage, from wormholes to the myriad ways the Earth could end. The September Issue is an intimate look at Vogue’s legendary editor-in-chief Anna Wintour. Also available: Eleven Minutes, No Sweat, Electric Purgatory The Vault: Academy Collection: The Envelope Please, Volume 1 contains eight “Best Picture” nominees from Oscar’s first decade, including: A Farewell to Arms (1932), A Star Is Born (1937), Pygmalion (1938) and the little-seen The Racket (1928) and Alibi (1929). The Idiotbox: David Wain (“Stella”) voices the Warden of a surreal maximum security prison in Adult Swim’s absurdly funny and trippy Superjail! Season One. The latest spin-off in the long running “Stargate” franchise, SGU Stargate Universe: 1.0 comes to DVD. The series follows a team lead by Robert Carlyle (28 Weeks Later) that is transported to an ancient ship irreversibly programmed to travel the universe setting up stargates. Made in Japan: Dragon Ball Z: Dragon Box 2 includes episodes 43 to 84 of the legendary anime series, remastered, uncut and in the original Japanese. Then go back to where it all started with the original series, Dragon Ball: Season Three. Also available: Soul Eater: Part One, Case Closed: The Phantom of Baker Street
Also Available: XIII: The Conspiracy starring Val Kilmer, the stop-motion philosophical journey $9.99, Alexander the Last, Lego: The Adventures of Clutch Powers
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Carousel offers a feast for all of your senses.
304 N. Brand Blvd., Glendale BY lynda correa In a city as diverse as Los Angeles, it is common to walk down a single street and find a plethora of eateries claiming to have great ethnic food. But I’m asking you to move away from the block that has Chipotle, Domino’s and Taco Bell all in one square, and instead stroll down Brand Boulevard’s ornamented promenade, where a charming example of the American Dream lays: a restaurant called Carousel that caters to the individual looking for more than just a place to eat. Having started as restaurateurs in Lebanon, owners Rose and Greg Cholakian had previous experience in the business before relocating to the United States in 1984, when they opened a Middle Eastern restaurant, Carousel, in Hollywood. Rose, the Chef de cuisine, is an expert in Lebanese fare, having trained and practiced in Lebanon for several years before moving stateside. Her transition to working in California was a smooth one, satisfying many appetites for 26 years. Since then, work has been successful enough to open the more elaborate and complete Glendale location in 1998, which is managed by her son, Mike Cholakian. If you’re a fan of the family business model, Carousel is the destination for you. However, this is more than just your mom and pop shop; the attention to detail is staggering. The Carousel in Glendale serves festively decorated dishes, and the servers are also festively decorated. The eatery offers a full dining experience that allows the customer to be immersed in Middle Eastern culture. Where rich meets rustic, its interior welcomes travelers on food journeys from far lands to rest and enjoy a fresh meal. While I wish I could have sampled more food, I can only sing praises about what I did taste. The 4Way Hammos is Carousel’s own take on traditional mezzas. Never have I tried hammos that was pink, red or green, but I am regretful that I waited so long. My personal favorite of the 4Way Hammos was the red one, made with roasted red peppers and tomatoes. After sampling several other options, one item I would pass on is the falafel. It was nicely presented, shaped into miniature donuts sprinkled with sesame seeds, yet there were so many other bite-worthy appetizers to try. My favorite was the pressed pita wraps cut and arranged into their own little work of art. Although famous for dinner, Carousel just recently launched their “Happiest Hours” schedule, Tuesday through Friday, from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m., when there are specials on drinks and food. It’s the perfect place to stop by after class or work to unwind before continuing with the mundane – your one chance to escape to the Middle East for a few hours, where all the day’s troubles could be topped with tabbouleh and alleviated with Jalleb. Weekend entertainment at Carousel consists of a special menu, divine belly dance performances by Jillina’s Sahlala Dance Ensemble and live bands with different singers throughout the night. The singers and musicians are of Middle Eastern descent and perform both international and Arabic songs. The belly dancers are of various nationalities, yet after training with the best belly dance choreographer in the L.A. area, owner Mike says, “They transform into great Middle Eastern dance performers.” The locals know that the weekends can get crowded, and as some of you might be familiar with how awful parking on Brand Boulevard is, Carousel takes that into consideration and offers valet parking while you dine. However, if you want to make the hunt for that perfect parking spot, go for it, but sometimes the stress of it is not worth the couple of dollars you will have to cough up. Now that you’re equipped with knowledge of this Lebanese hot spot, fellas, impress a new date with what good taste in entertainment you have, and ladies, bring your girls and relish your genius in outing ideas. With a menu that offers vegetarian, seafood, family style and so much more, there really is no excuse not to try this Middle Eastern eatery. Carousel is the perfect all-in-one venue to hang out with friends, meet with co-workers or even to enjoy time alone with your thoughts and appetite. For more information, call (818) 246-7775 or visit carouselrestaurant.com.
GETTING HITCHED FOR MERE CENTS
Stacie Freudenberg/Chicago Tribine/MC
by ebony march It’s Saturday night, AND While Celebrate your nuptials with a cupcake tower. most of my contemporaries are out getting skanky on dance floors throughout this fair city, I can be found engaging in my favorite new pastime: planning my dream wedding. Granted, I did the crazy, spur of the moment wedding thing in Vegas a few years ago (Apparently, what happens there occasionally makes its way home.), followed by the less amusing L.A. County courthouse divorce. But my marital celebration wasn’t the big, showy affair that I had always imagined as a kid. I am also a girl with very strong tastes and opinions, and I know that when I do get married for real, it’s going to be a classy affair. Now, I’m sure for most people, a wedding is, like, years away from thought. But with 20-something celebrities like Kevin Jonas, Beyoncé and Avril Lavigne walking down the aisle more and more these days, it doesn’t seem too out of the realm of possibility that others out there might be planning to say, “I Do” – but on a real kid’s budget. Looking for a beautiful cake? Try Vanilla Bake Shop (512 Wilshire Blvd., Santa Monica; vanillabakeshop.com). This chic little bakery sits just off of Third Street Promenade and offers a number of tasty cake flavors to suit any palate. Need to save extra dough? Go with cupcakes. VBS offers a ton of winning designs that incorporate amazing style with all of their best flavors (Imagine a cupcake tower overflowing with Southern Red Velvet, Meyer Lemon Raspberry and/or Blackberry Passion Fruit-flavored yumminess.). The best part of it is that you can get each cupcake for around $3. This is a bargain since most bakers charge nearly $9 per slice of wedding cake. For any girls out there who love fashion, you’ve probably caught the TLC show, “Say Yes to the Dress.” This reality program showcases brides in search of the perfect gown. One by one, these women head into famed wedding dress salon, Kleinfeld, in New York to do their shopping. Unfortunately, most of the store’s offerings seem to cost as much as a down payment on a house or the price of a compact car. SCREW THAT! There are plenty of beautiful dresses out there that can be purchased brand new and at a tenth of the cost as some of the more expensive designer styles. Got an eye for Monique Lhuillier with thrift store pockets? Look no further than frenchnovelty.com. This site has a number of high fashion formals that may cater to the pageant and prom crowd but will double nicely as an über-hip wedding dress when partnered with the right veil. I’m told that at most receptions the one thing everyone remembers is the food. However, four-star meals are often the place where a young couple’s budget explodes. If you love the food of your local dive but are worried that your guests will judge you for serving them fast food buffet-style, get proactive. You can easily hire a food stylist to trick out each plate so that mom, dad, uncle Leroy and Aunt Madge will be none the wiser. Food stylists are the folks who make those Carl’s Jr. burgers or IHOP pancakes look so sexy in commercials. Many of them are available via Google search and the cost of hiring one of these professionals is often half the cost of a wedding feast. If your wallet doesn’t allow for the big floral bonanza that you’ve always dreamed about, you may just have to rearrange your thinking. Places like Proflowers.com have stunning bouquets for every occasion, which are often $30 or $40. Order 10, and you’ve got flowers for a decent-size wedding of 60-80 guests. Remember, the florist doesn’t need to know it’s for a wedding. Just tell the customer service rep that you’ve got a large family, and you’re buying the posies to bring a smile to everyone’s face. Finally, when deciding on whether to foot the bill for an open bar, you can easily save money by purchasing your booze and trucking it to your venue ahead of time. Just buy a case of red wine, a case of white, a case of your favorite beer (Pabst is cheap and a big hit with young crowds.), and maybe bring on a local bartender to create a signature drink (Cotton Candy Martinis anyone?).
Campus Circle 2.24.10 - 3.2.10
MUSIC CULTURE EVENTS DVD GAMING SPORTS MEDIA BLOGS CD Reviews Frequency Interviews L.A. Underground Live Show Reviews Music Report
G O L D E N VO I C E P R E S E N TS
BEE Jered Scott
Bryce Avary of the Rocket Summer: “Nothing matters unless you’re loving one another.”
THE ROCKET SUMMER From the Heart
BY jonathan bautts JULIETTE COMMAGERE march 5 » el rey theatre
march 8 » el rey theatre
THE BIG PINK
A PLACE TO BURY STRANGERS ACTIVE CHILD march 9 » el rey theatre
DARKER MY LOVE march 10 » the music box @ fonda goldenvoice.com
DRAGONETTE • CLASS ACTRESS march 10 » el rey theatre
friday april 16 (2 shows - 7:30pm & 10:30pm) Club Nokia
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Campus Circle 2.24.10 - 3.2.10
It’s been a long time coming for the release of the Rocket Summer’s fourth full-length album, Of Men and Angels, which wrapped recording last April. “It’s almost like a weird dream because it’s taken so long for it to come out that it’s this surreal thing,” frontman Bryce Avary confesses. “It’s been the biggest thing in my life for the past year and half, because I wrote most of the songs in 2008.” As a result, Avary describes the time spent on the record as both the easiest and hardest musical endeavor he’s undergone: “It was easiest in terms of the fact that I was in a healthy state musically where I was playing really well. I was singing well, and I felt like almost a different person than the past couple of records have been. It felt like so much creativity was in my court.” “It was hard,” he pauses. “It’s not even something I enjoy talking about, why it was hard, but we did this record with some crazy changes with people on our team. There was a lot of stuff, music business things.” As Avary points out, though, it’s better late than never. Coinciding with those difficulties was a slight change in Avary’s approach to writing, as he opted to strip things down. “I wanted to make a record that had a bit more substance,” he says. “I think that there’s substance on my other records, for sure. When I say I wanted to strip some things away, I just wanted to strip away this pressure of writing hits for hits’ sake.” “These days everybody is co-writing with everybody else, and people are having other people write their songs. To the powers that be, it’s really just all about hits,” he continues. “Don’t get me wrong, I love hits. I’m a hit kind of person, to be totally honest, and I feel like you can probably pick up on that by listening to my songs, but with that said I don’t want to forfeit integrity. I want to write from my heart and make a record that’s really going to move someone, regardless if it’s sold millions of albums or not.” Over the course of his professional musical career, which started with his indie debut Calendar Days in 2003 at the age of 20, Avary has earned the reputation as one of the industry’s nicest and most upbeat artists. “I have this perception of being this ridiculously happy-go-lucky, super cheery person, and I think that comes from the fact that our singles were songs like ‘So Much Love’ and ‘Brat Pack,’” he admits. “Sometimes that perception is a bit weird, especially to me. It’s not a bad reputation, I guess, but it’s definitely a bit off from reality.” “When I put out my first record, Calendar Days, I wrote that when I was a junior in high school. I love those songs and I think they’re great, but I’m a little bit older now,” he laughs. “I’ve experienced more and you go through hills and valleys, as the song would say. This record touches on a lot of that, and it’s a pretty spiritually charged album. It’s still very optimistic and a very joyful album. It’s just real.” All of it boils down to what Of Men and Angels is about, which Avary believes can be summed up in a single word: love. “Basically nothing matters unless you’re genuinely loving one another,” he says. “We can be saying all the right things, we can be believing all the right things, but if we’re not loving the people in our lives it’s really pointless. It was just something that laid heavy on my heart, and I think it’s a bit of a challenge for me, if anything, that whole concept.” For the moment, however, Avary is more than anxious to see how the release will go over. “I think it’s going to awaken some new feelings because this album’s been a while coming out,” he says. “After such a long year of trying to get it to come out, it’s going to be a very healthy thing to experience the fruition of that and see what our fans think about it. It’s going to be a beautiful thing.” Of Men and Angels is currently available. The Rocket Summer will perform on Warped Tour June 25 (Carson), June 27 (Ventura) and Aug.11 (Pomona). For more information, visit therocketsummer.com.
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AMERICAN VI: AIN’T NO GRAVE The Final Chapter. The Last Recordings. Produced by Rick Rubin
Wear Black this Friday, Feb. 26th for Johnny’s Birthday. johnnycash.com losthighwayrecords.com
Campus Circle 2.24.10 - 3.2.10
MUSIC CULTURE EVENTS DVD GAMING SPORTS MEDIA BLOGS CD Reviews Frequency Interviews L.A. Underground Live Show Reviews Music Report
BY kevin wierzbicki
BY brien overly
There is Love in You: Domino has released the first Four Tet album in four years, a nine-cut excursion into trippy ambient and experimental sounds called There is Love in You. Four Tet is the stage name of Kieran Hebden, the British DJ/producer/musician who has done everything from score a scene in the James Bond thriller Quantum of Solace to record several projects with the highly Four Tet plays the Echo Feb. 27. respected American jazz drummer Steve Reid. As avant-garde as There is Love in You is, it’s still quite accessible thanks to Hebden’s knack for creating sublime beats, and a 12-inch single featuring hypnotic dance numbers “Love City” and “Our Bells” is also currently available. Hear the new music when Four Tet plays the Echo Feb. 27.
Maynard James Keenan’s Blood Into Wine: Fans of Tool and Puscifer probably know by now that the frontman for both bands, Maynard James Keenan, is also in the wine business. Keenan and his vineyard partner Eric Glomski are attempting to revolutionize the U.S. wine industry by creating a new wine region in Northern Arizona. The pair’s winemaking exploits can be viewed in the new film Blood Into Wine. Also featuring Milla Jovovich, Patton Oswalt, Bob Odenkirk and Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim from Adult Swim’s “Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job!,” the film includes live music performances and unexpected comedy. Blood Into Wine screens at the Laemmle Sunset 5 Theatre in West Hollywood from Feb. 25-28 and drops on DVD and Blu-ray May 4.
Santana’s Still Supernatural: Supernatural, Carlos Santana’s smash album from 1999, has just been re-released with extra material as Supernatural: Legacy Edition. Santana and his band collaborated with Rob Thomas, Eric Clapton, Dave Matthews, Lauryn Hill, Cee-Lo, Everlast, Wyclef Jean and Mana for the album that has sold 25 million copies so far as well as taking home nine Grammys and three Latin Grammys. Santana personally supervised the remastering of Supernatural: Legacy Edition and selected the two-CD set’s 11 previously-unreleased cuts, including a new single called “Angel Love (Come With Me).” Among the other cuts available here for the first time are “Bacalao Con Pan,” “One Fine Morning,” “Rain Down on Me” with Dave Matthews and Carter Beauford, a medley of Bob Marley’s “Exodus” and “Get Up, Stand Up” and an extended version of “The Calling” with Eric Clapton.
See Tom Waits’ Los Angeles: If you’re a big fan of gravelly-voiced singer-songwriter Tom Waits, you’ll want to take the Crawling Down Cahuenga: Tom Waits’ L.A. tour put together by Esotouric Bus Tours. The tour will be led by writer David Smay who authored the “Tom Waits’ Swordfishtrombone” title in the album-analysis series from publishers 33 1/3. The tour explores the parts of Los Angeles where Waits hung out in his pre-stardom days, including favorite Echo Park and Hollywood haunts, and details incidents like brawling with punks at the Troubadour and wild times at the Tropicana Motel. The tour is offered only once this year, April 3. Find all the details at esotouric.com/waits.
American Gong: About a year ago, long-running Portland band Quasi announced they were working on a new record, and now it has dropped. American Gong marks the first time that founding members Sam Coomes and Janet Weiss have expanded their duo format as “new” (since 2006, actually) bass player Joanna Bolme of Stephen Malkmus + The Jicks joins the fun. Hear the trio bang American Gong and songs from their vast repertoire at their Spaceland show March 12. Elvis Costello’s Live at Hollywood High: Universal and Hip-O have teamed to release an expanded version of Elvis Costello’s historic 1978 performance at Hollywood High School. The new version features 11 previously-unreleased tracks from the show including versions of “Radio Radio,” “Pump It Up,” “This Year’s Girl” and “Lip Service.”
Little Brother Previews LeftBack: When I first heard about the Little Brother listening session for LeftBack, I thought: Who’s doing the production? The North Carolina group is best known for their first two hip-hop albums with 9th Wonder, but on the third, 9th only produced one track, which featured Lil Wayne. It made me wonder, where is 9th Wonder? Proving that Big Pooh and Phonte are viable, able and skilled enough to rock without 9th, LeftBack brings relief in this drought that is now hip-hop. With distinguished guests such as Fat Lip, U-N-I and T3 of Slum Village, the mood was set to experience the new LP. In a room filled with some of the leaders of progressive music, all heads were rocking to the aroma of the fresh sonic pastries. LeftBack will be available April 20. —Doxx Cunningham 16
Campus Circle 2.24.10 - 3.2.10
It’s hard not to be in a good mood listening to Austin Hartley-Leonard.
Austin Hartley-Leonard Feb. 24, March 3 @ Hotel Café Every once in a great while, I’ll start out the new week’s Frequency column and spend a good hour … or day/s … staring at a blank Word document, wondering how there can only be one noteworthy show happing in all of the greater L.A. area. Sometimes that’s bad, because there actually is only one worthwhile show happening that week and I have to figure out how to say 700 words about some act without sounding like I’m being paid by their label (I wish). Sometimes, it turns out to be a good thing because it challenges me to dig through all the local venues’ show calendars to find me some new music I’ve never heard before, which has yielded some surprisingly awesome results in weeks past. And I might’ve struck gold this week, too. I had no idea who Austin Hartley-Leonard was an hour before starting this week’s column, but I’m pretty friggin’ stoked on him now. A local L.A. boy, by way of Austin, Hartley-Leonard is everything you might expect from someone who has spent legitimate time in both locales. Every bit the quintessential Los Angeles cool kid, Hartley-Leonard brings an authentic Southern charm to his twangy acoustic guitar anthems. Kind of like … sitting on the porch of a Texas ranch house, having a bro-sesh over some Stellas with Gaslight Anthem. Or going to a Silver Lake dive bar with Willie Nelson. Take your pick. Whether backed by a full band or flying solo with his guitar, he matches that aural charisma with intelligent songwriting and emotive instrumentation. Even when his words fall more on the brooding and introspective side, it’s kind of hard to not be in a good mood while listening to his old-time-y folk jams, which all but beg you to sing along. So what’s today’s lesson, kids? Yes, go explore for your music and don’t rely on MySpace and MTV to be your only sources of new music. Just do what I do and click on links for bands with attractive and well-dressed members.
The Icarus Line Feb. 25 @ the Roxy It might be counterintuitive to the idea of including them in a column of weekly worthwhile show picks, but man, I totally forgot this band was still around. The first time I saw them play years ago, I don’t think I had a full appreciation for their brand of dark and moody atmospheric rock. I mean, I liked Yellowcard at the time. My taste was clearly not at its most refined stage yet. Shudder. Regardless, my since-expanded palate has taken to the homegrown prog-rockers and their brand of drug-binge-soundtrack jamming.
Bon Jovi Feb. 26, 27 @ Honda Center March 4 @ Staples Center How many of you all know the full lyrics of “Living on a Prayer?” The correct answer should be all of you. It’s a prerequisite for knowing me personally, and rest assured, there will be random on the spot testing of your knowledge should you ever set foot in my car. Because it’s on every mix CD and iPod playlist I put together. Just so you know. And reciting some choice lines from “Wanted Dead or Alive” is an easy way to get a free drink out of me should you ever run into me at, like, a Paramore show or something. Point being, of my many shameless ’80s rock indulgences, Bon Jovi is at the very top. Well, neck in neck with Mötley Crüe. It’s a constant power struggle between the two for my affections, I think. Like a Jane Austen novel, only with more leather and hair spray. While literary aficionados everywhere are likely having brain aneurysms at that blasphemous analogy, one thing about JBJ is undisputable: The dude knows how to put on a show. Considering the band has been playing together for nearly three decades now, and JBJ himself is old enough to be my father, these guys can work the heck out of a stage with an epic power ballad. And really, who wouldn’t want Bon Jovi as their dad?
No Rain, No Rainbow (Tragic Hero) With metal taking over the place of emo it’s no surprise that this band is getting a lot of attention. Kids are angry, and they need someone to speak up for them. This album offers a lot of angst and emotion with blast beats and ear-bending riffs. “Swim for Your Lives” is a standout song. The depth found here is unmatched by any other track on the album. Using the 808 pad to support the drums, it allows the listener to feel the intensity on a new level. Unlike the other songs, it allows the vocals to come through on a deeper level so we can truly understand the pain in the track. Overall, the album pushes metal forward and brings new fans into a world that they might not have tread just a few years ago. Grade: B —David Tobin No Rain, No Rainbow is currently available.
Feb. 17 @ House of Blues Sunset Strip Formed in 1996, this band has managed to keep its audiences captivated. Playing to the sold-out House of Blues Sunset Strip, the trio had the crowd from the very start. This packed venue didn’t hold just loyal fans from the very beginning, but a healthy percentage of kids who might as well have been at their first show. The first set of songs of the night included one of their staples, Matt Skiba of Alkaline Trio “Armageddon” and a new song, “Dine, Dine.” The break in the action as the new lyrics resonated with the fans let the pit subside for a moment. Unfortunately for those packed in tight, it was only a matter of time before the floor became alive with bodies once again. When it comes to crowd participation and energy, Alkaline Trio is one of the top bands at making the audience feel like they are a part of the show. Just in the second song of the night, singer Matt Skiba opted out of the chorus and let the voices from the venue take over. From there, the show took on a life of its own. The sound was the same as it has ever been, tight and clean. After playing together for so long the band really does sound like a well-oiled machine. With a small arrangement of pedals the sound stays fairly raw. Running guitars through a mix of amps, but still keeping a set of Orange heads on stage, the tone fit nicely with the harmonies and didn’t get swallowed up by the bass. Playing for over 90 minutes, it only seemed like half of that, the way the night went by so quick. As soon as these sons of Chicago came in, they were done. Leaving the crowd with positive banter instead of an aggressive tone, everyone – even the kid that fell while crowd surfing – went home with a smile. —David Tobin
k-os Yes! (Last Gang) k-os blasted onto the scene with his now infamous track “Superstar Part Zero.” Now with his latest barrage of the senses, Yes!, he has shown listeners why he is still one of the most relevant hip-hop artists of this generation. Mixing beats with samples is only a part of the draw to the new album. The real power comes from the lyrics and production. Unlike other artists of this genre, he has more to talk about than money and cars. Its subtle sensibility that makes you want to let the album play from start to finish. Grade: A+ —David Tobin Yes! is currently available.
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Believe (Nettwerk) The success of the Grammy-nominated single “The Longest Road” launched Morgan Page into the dance music spotlight. So naturally, it’s no shocker Page’s sophomore album, Believe, is surrounded by hype, hope and scrutiny. The first single, “Fight For You,” released back in September, topped the charts, proving Page still has the goods. But the big question is, how does the remainder of the album compare? Believe proves Page is not just a one trick pony, cycling from his signature dancefloorjarring progressive house to moody downtempo. He even covers Pete Yorn’s “Strange Condition” to mix things up a bit – but it doesn’t stop there. Tracks on the album feature vocals from “The Longest Road”’s Elisabeth Morris (AKA Lissie,) Samantha James, Telepopmusik’s Angela McClusky and Page himself, making Believe a solid album from start to finish. Grade: A —Ryan McWhorter Believe is currently available.
Various Artists Valentine’s Day Soundtrack (Water Tower/Big Machine) Music to mend a broken heart is in full supply on the soundtrack for couples’ flick Valentine’s Day. Country princess Taylor Swift (who also stars in the film) offers her signature twang and acoustics on “Today was a Fairytale,” a sweet lullaby meant to capture the dreamy childhood love cliché. With just the right hint of fuzzy and cute, the soundtrack channels strong, modern takes on old romantic classics. Maroon 5 puts on its best Frank Sinatra face and dazzles with a surprising yet refreshing rendition of the “The Way You Look Tonight,” while Anju Ramapriyam does “Signed, Sealed, Delivered I’m Yours” in a trance-meets-Bollywood finishing, executed in pure pop perfection. Samplings from “Gossip Girl” queen Leighton Meester (“Somebody to Love”), Amy Winehouse (“Cupid”) and Jewel (“Stay Here Forever”) round out the album’s lineup of power females. Whether you’re curling up into the arms of a loved one or a pint of Häagen-Dazs, Valentine’s Day brings the goods all year around. Grade: A —Christopher Agutos Valentine’s Day Soundtrack is currently available.
Campus Circle 2.24.10 - 3.2.10
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The UCLA Food Closet: “It helps to remind us of all the good in the world.”
THE UCLA FOOD CLOSET Addressing Student Hunger BY denise guerra It is hard to believe that within a worldclass research university, boasting the best and brightest of the nation’s students and faculty, the problem of hunger exists. Proper nutrition is considered one of life’s most basic needs, yet when all your money goes toward rent and tuition, having something to eat becomes secondary, even nonexistent. In 2008, UCLA’s Food Closet was created for students by students. It is a place where any student can get free food. There are no requirements, just a request not to take more than you need. Located in a small closet at the Student Activities Center sits a large, mostly empty refrigerator. Next to it holds a pantry filled with various canned goods, breakfast cereal and instant ramen. A small table squeezes in front of the entrance with a large empty bowl made for holding fruit that has all been taken for the day.
Campus Circle 2.24.10 - 3.2.10
Next to the bowl, a small guest book. In it students have written accounts of their gratitude to a program designed to directly address hunger on UCLA’s campus. From a small sentence, “Thanks for the raisins,” to longer, more detailed accounts, each passage reveals the individual struggles students face for one bite to eat. One passage reads: “The hardest thing to accept is the notion that there are times in life when you become dependent on [the] charity of others.” The Food Closet was envisioned by student Abdallah Jadallah and implemented through the help of the Community Programs Office (CPO) at UCLA. Now a senior, Jadallah helped to envision the food closet based on faith: “In the religion of Islam, if you see something wrong going on in society, you have to be an activist and fix it.” Jadallah is the former President of the Muslim Student Association and now volunteers for Mentors and Peer Support (MAPS), one of the many student-run projects created to address the needs of access and retention of students to higher education. Jadallah explains, “The CPO recognizes this problem [of hunger] and wanted to do something about it. Our goal was to help out students and our community. “ According to Thuy Huynh, the CPO’s Internship Advisor, “He [Jadallah] said, basically a lot of people aren’t eating, what can we do about this?” Huynh’s interns help in the retrieval of food donations and provide the daily upkeep and organization of the food closet. Though it was Jadallah who asked the question, it was
CPO Director Antonio Sandoval who got the food closet up and running. “Tony Sandoval did all the work from the beginning,” Jadallah says. “He e-mailed faculty and donated food. Since no one used the [CPO] closet for two years, we emptied it out.” “The fridge, I don’t know how the fridge got there,” he adds, laughing. Along with Sandoval, Huynh helped initiate food drives for university faculty and staff and partnered with several university groups like the Student Affairs Office and Undergraduate Students Association to plan food drives among her colleagues. “People seemed number one, surprised there was an issue, and number two, willing to help,” says Huynh. In December, UCLA Transportation & Parking Services held their annual food drive for donations to the Westside Food Bank, and they ended up giving half of the food to the Food Closet. Huynh says, “This is a very small project. It wasn’t meant to be this large. As the recession gets deeper, the need gets larger. Our goal is to meet the need.” A passage in the closet’s guest book illustrates this specific need as one student writes: “I am an undocumented transfer student. UCLA has always been my dream, but it has been one of the hardest/or most challenging experience. I receive no financial aid; I don’t qualify for any loans or many scholarships because of my SSN.” From his work directly serving the needs of UCLA students, Jadallah notes, “A lot of people that can’t afford food are AB 540 and undocumented students.” Students with such status are significantly affected by a lack of state financial aid. Student-run organizations housed by the CPO directly address these issues, along with others that affect student academic performance. “It’s our students that are hungry,” says Jadallah. Cinthia Loara, a second-year Chicana/o Studies major, is a CPO intern whose responsibility is to maintain and organize the Food Closet. Though sometimes it receives leftover food from school events year-end parties, much of the food stored in the closet is usually dry or canned items that are easy to open and eat. “Mainly it’s canned goods, instant, a lot of less nutritional stuff like popcorn, but also breakfast stuff,” says Loara. “What’s most used and donated is anything that is instant. We also have Band-Aids, deodorant, soap and toothbrushes that students have access to because we also do have a large homeless community on campus.” Nancy Meza, a fourth year Chicana/o Studies major, uses the food closet. “Students are not hesitant for free food,” she says. “We consider the CPO our home, it’s somewhere where I’m comfortable.” Meza explains that not everybody at UCLA knows about the free food at the Students Activities Center. “Sometimes when [I’m] in class, I say, ‘Hey, there’s a food closet you should go,’ and people are like, WHAT!” says Meza. “Especially after the 32 percent increase,” she continues. “Students are struggling to pay rent. One of the things that affects you the most as a student is when you’re hungry. You can go with some sleep deprivation and go and get some coffee, but when you’re hungry, it affects your entire day.” Meza’s hope is that more people know about the Food Closet, so that more people donate. For those that are timid about free handouts, Jadallah explains, “It’s right there. If you’re hungry, go eat. The food is right there.” For others, the creation of the Food Closet, though located in a small space and always in need of more food, is a huge relief. As another passage in the closet’s guest book reads, “It helps us get through the day here on campus and it also helps to remind us of all the good in the world.” For more information, visit communityprograms.ucla.edu.
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SPANISH STYLE MID-WILSHIRE
GUESTHOUSE FOR RENT
BY lynda Correa
USC MENTORSHIP PROGRAM Lynda Correa and Diego Martinez, two mentees of USC’s First Generation College Student Mentor Program
Universities always boast a COMmitment to diversity. This is made especially noticeable when brochures are mailed to prospective students showcasing ethnically mixed individuals sitting in a circle, holding hands, stopping short of singing “Kumbaya.” Many schools go as far as having “diversity” divisions within their office of student affairs to tailor to the needs of these groups. Wonderful as that may be, how many times are the needs of a different student population addressed? Enter the world of first generation college students, the ones who are often overlooked in university programming. The University of Southern California is no exception to the school described above. However, Llisa Williams, Internship Advisor for the Career Planning and Placement Center, is doing something to support the group of students that account for several thousands of USC’s population. In the fall of 2007, Williams started a series of workshops that were held twice each semester to highlight issues of importance to first-generation students. Noticing that a lot of students came to these events, she brainstormed on how to make a more solid program. The following year, the pilot for the First Generation College Student Mentor Program debuted with 25 mentors and 25 mentees. Mentors (who are first generation USC alumni) and mentees have to go through an application and interview process in order to be considered for the program. This year, there is a 20:20 ratio of mentors and mentees. Alum J. Juan Macias, LCSW, who first came to USC as a graduate student pursuing a Master of Social Work, feels the program has given him the opportunity to return some of the favors granted to him throughout his college experience and career. “Being the first Latino in my immediate family to attend college was not always easy,” he says. “Fortunately, there have been countless people who have helped me along the way and the mentorship program has given me the privilege to do the same for others.” The program meets once a month for professional development workshops, with past topics including résumés, interviews, professionalism, networking and career day preparation; however, the main focus is the first-generation experience. It is the responsibility of the individual pairs to communicate and meet outside of these workshops. Diego Martinez, a senior in mechanical engineering, was interested in the program for a tangible reason. He says, “I really need to get an internship this summer, and I wanted someone to share their experience with me so I had an idea of what to expect when approaching an interview.” Sophomore Dy Phi, a double major in political science and communication, enjoys the mentorship program because “it isn’t a one-day networking event. It’s a year-long commitment that enables each student to create a lasting connection with an alumnus.” It is this lasting connection that Williams strives to help develop between the pairs, but also within USC itself. “The university needs to find and address the needs of other populations on campus – there’s more to just race and gender groups that need attention. I am hoping it will become a staple here,” she says. Schools around the nation should also pay attention to their first-generation students; a quick Google search will show that programming for them is lacking. Hopefully, other colleges will look at USC’s program and will be inspired to do the same. USC alumna Debbie M. Page, attorney at law, welcomed the opportunity to give back to a fellow Trojan. However, health issues affected the amount of time she was able to spend with her mentee. In an effort to work around these limitations, Page and her mentee often exchange text messages. “One highlight of this experience for me was when my mentee sent me a text stressing about her fall final exams,” Page shares. “I told her to give me a call if she needed to talk, and she did. I felt like she needed support and encouragement, and I sincerely hope that my words made her feel better and stress a little less. Speaking as Debbie’s mentee, I can say that those words truly did make a difference, and it’s programs like this that leave lasting impressions on any student’s life. For more information, visit careers.usc.edu.
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PAGES Texts From Last Night: All the Texts No One Remembers Sending (Gotham) What is this trend with a lot of blogs suddenly putting out books? For some blogs, it’s nothing new (Passive Aggressive Notes is already on their second book, and PostSecret’s been in print for goodness knows how long.), but a growing number have been capitalizing on supplementing their income through physical products. And now, one of the Internet’s most popular humor sites is following suit. That’s right, Texts From Last Night – the place where those texts you can’t remember sending will be immortalized forever – has put out a book, filled with raunchy, stupid, witty and sometimes just plain funny quotes. The pages are unnumbered, but rest assured, there are a lot of them, so you can be sure to find a quote that’ll make you laugh until you pee. But then, the problem is that there are a lot of pages, and really, only about half of the quotes are actually funny, 25 percent are just plain wrong, 10 percent are inside jokes and the rest fall into the “meh” column. The humor comes from the relatability of the texts (the college experiences some will never have, those that some will never grow out of and pop culture references that will mean nothing two days from now), so it obviously can’t please everyone all the time, but many are re-quotable and I found myself unable to resist sharing certain texts with everyone around me while I read it. And yet, while I hate to say it, on the whole, the book felt like it simply rehashed someone else’s material into a haphazard collection, with little concern for organization. So the final verdict? Stick with the Web site, unless you’re looking for light bathroom reading. And don’t mind typos. Grade: B—Melissa Russell Texts From Last Night is currently available.
Campus Circle 2.24.10 - 3.2.10
MUSIC CULTURE EVENTS DVD GAMING SPORTS MEDIA BLOGS The Art of Love Books Fashion Food Gaming Get Up, Get Out Graphic Novels Fun For Less Theater Travel
“The Female of the Species”
Now-March 14 @ Geffen Playhouse They say that when a director casts his or her ensemble well, 90 percent of their job is fulfilled. Let’s just say director Randall Arney has great intuition and amazing luck with “The Female of the Species.” First off, he gets Annette Bening to play the dramatically frantic feminist author Margot Mason, who in the midst of a pressing deadline for her next book gets an unexpected visitor. We quickly learn that Molly (Merritt Wever) is an Annette Bening in “The Female of the Species” old student of Margot’s and claims to be a huge fan of her work until she pulls out a gun. Truth be told, she hates Margot and her writings (Molly’s mother was the fan of Margot’s work, so much so that she abandoned her daughter Molly in pursuit of her feminist ideals – one of the many reasons she wants revenge on this author.). In the midst of the pleading and begging for her life, and while the captor slips away to make hot tea, in walks an exhausted and delirious mother of three, Tess (Margot’s daughter), wonderfully played by Mireille Enos. Both daughter and captor gang up against Margot, who is handcuffed to her own desk. As the chaos unfolds, we are introduced to the endearingly charming Bryan, Tess’ husband, played by David Arquette, taxi driver Frank and publisher Theo. The performances were the best I have seen since I moved to Los Angeles from New York. Of course, Bening gave the powerhouse performance I anticipate every time I witness her work (both on stage and on screen – loved her in “Medea”). Arquette totally blew me away with his performance because it was so unlike the characters I’m used to seeing him portray. The remaining cast members were just as brilliant, in particular Enos. At one point in the show she had the audience laughing so hard we could not help but applaud her delivery. This is simply great theater! —Ximena Herschberg Geffen Playhouse is located at 10886 Le Conte Ave., Westwood Village. For more information, visit geffenplayhouse.com.
“Digging Up Dad” Now-March 20 @ Ruskin Group Theatre Cris D’Annunzio’s engaging one-man show “Digging Up Dad” opens with dirt flying in the air. Lights illuminate a small mountain and a cemetery backdrop as Cris’ head pops up out of a grave. The story is incredibly funny and said to be based on actual facts; Cris’ father, who remains nameless, mysteriously dies from a drug overdose leaving behind $250,000. But there’s a problem. His father was only a small-time hood who, while a heavy drinker, never touched drugs. The mysterious circumstances surrounding his father’s death seem to indicate mafia involvement. “Digging Up Dad” doesn’t exactly follow the Aristotelian play structure; instead, it’s a powerful and profane one-act monologue. The show is basically Cris’ biography, a story he tells us as he takes a much-needed break from uprooting his father’s tomb – as the title suggests. This tale is an emotionally aggressive chronicle that begins with Cris’ upbringing in an Italian-American family and finds its heart while exploring a tumultuous love/hate (but mostly hate) relationship with his abusive father. —Cesar Cruz Ruskin Group Theatre is located at 3000 Airport Ave., Santa Monica. For more information, visit ruskingrouptheatre.com.
“The Price” Now-March 21 @ Theatre West Arthur Miller once said, “Whoever is writing in the United States is using the American Dream as an ironical pole of his story.” “The Price” is no exception. This subtle family drama is a classic Miller play that uses extremely ordinary conventions to gnaw on the meat of a family’s dysfunctions. “The Price” is the story of two brothers. Victor (Cal Bartlett), who sacrificed his education and his passion for science to care for his ruined father, and Walter (Don Moss), who walked out on the demands of the family to concentrate on medicine and personal success. Of course, like any other family drama, on or off stage, it’s never this black and white. Deep resentment, antique furniture left behind by dead parents, years of separation, an 89-year-old used furniture dealer, Gregory (Marvin Kaplan), and Victor’s alcoholic wife Esther (Dianne Travis) add grey areas to the story. Thankfully, Gregory is comical and Esther is the neurotic type of alcoholic, not the slurring kind. —Cesar Cruz Theatre West is located at 3333 Cahuenga Blvd. W., Los Angeles. For more information, visit theaterwest.org.
Campus Circle 2.24.10 - 3.2.10
Broken Hearts and Hard Drives BY scott bell
While Valentine’s Day may be an evermore, distant memory, the sting of loneliness can still ache for those of us who didn’t have anyone to celebrate the Hallmark holiday. No matter how much we may want to believe that the holiday is just another day, it is rough to be without someone to snuggle with on Feb. 14. If we are lucky, we can find solace in the company of single friends and family members until the day finally passes. Admittedly, when the refuge of friends and family isn’t enough to console, many of us turn to the greatest hub of lonely people on the planet – the Internet. Whether you are looking to chat or just participate in more solitary activities, it is a great escape from a lonely reality. Unfortunately, the feeling of heartbreak that we have to suffer with when we are alone on Valentine’s is exactly the motivation that hackers like to play on. The newest, Valentine’s-themed crop of nasty virtual demons to torture the unsuspecting Internet visitors has been dubbed “Flirt Bots.” As the name implies, these pre-programmed personas send messages to random users’ instant messengers. While their artificial intelligence is fairly weak, they are interactive enough to fool anyone who genuinely wants to believe that a sexy stranger has randomly chosen them. After a bit of scripted flirting, the bots suggest that the user follows a link to a site that boasts a free trial of their private, sexy webcam. For anyone who knows about these scams, the trap is obvious and the results are nasty. Whether the links on the page lead to viral downloads or if they simply ask for your credit card information and use it for their own purposes, loneliness will suddenly become the least of your problems. The truth is that the Internet has become a playground for hackers, scammers and thieves. Even if you are careful about your surfing patterns and avoid scams like these, there are always new bots, Trojans, viruses and other digital damage that can be done to your computer, your identity and your bank account. To combat them, you need a defense that evolves as fast as the threats do. PC Tools (pctools.com) feels that they have the best solution to this ever-changing problem. Their line of software is built to work together with the Windows Firewall against everything from viruses to spyware. Best of all, the basic versions of their programs are available for free online. The first program, Spyware Doctor with Anti-Virus, has an amazingly straightforward name and a single-minded goal of keeping your computer clean. Once you have downloaded and installed the file from Google Pack (pack.google.com), it will immediately ask to be updated and then to initiate a full scan. The Spyware Doctor is a very powerful threat detection and deletion tool, but the interface is very simple and intuitive. Once the scan is done and all threats have been quarantined, the Spyware Doctor continues to keep an eye on your hard drive thanks to a number of active scanning items that have been packed into its IntelliGuard service. If the threat is known, Spyware Doctor will do its best to keep it from bothering you. Of course, that is the eternal weakness of anti-virus programs. As long as people see some profit in creating malicious programs, there will always be the risk that you may be among the first people to catch a particular virus. What you need is something that can catch the threats even if they haven’t hit the big times yet. PC Tools’ ThreatFire (threatfire.com) is a unique approach to this problem. Rather than simply looking for well-known viruses, ThreatFire scans for new programs that run notably differently from your regular programs. If there is a program that acts more like a virus or a keylogger than it does a normal program, ThreatFire will isolate it and bring it up to your attention. This active scanning for malicious programs works with your existing anti-virus to offer even greater protection. If the company’s claims are true, it can even stop viruses that are too new to be on any virus list. Best of all, you can get the power of ThreatFire’s Active Defense protection for free by downloading the basic version at threatfire.com. It is obviously still a good idea to educate yourself about scams and viruses and to avoid risky sites altogether, but the combined protection of ThreatFire and Spyware Doctor should make it safer to look for companionship online.
MUSIC CULTURE EVENTS DVD GAMING SPORTS MEDIA BLOGS Baseball Basketball Football Hockey Soccer The Sports Wanderer
NO DODGING CHEAPSKATES BY parimal m. rohit So just when, exactly, did Donald Sterling convince Frank McCourt to follow his (Sterling’s) business model on how to run a sports franchise? While responsible spending and fiscally prudent business practices are a keystone of any successful venture, there are certain aspects of any consumer-based operation that require monetary attention for the company to meet its proverbial bottom line. In the sports business, that proverbial bottom line is filling butts into seats. Last I heard the best way to ensure a not-so-empty stadium is to put a winner on the field. And hey, winners cost money. Just ask the New York Yankees or Los Angeles Lakers. Obviously, it is not wise to just throw money away at players, but drastically cutting payroll while spiking ticket prices is not an ideal way to run a sports franchise. Yet, that is exactly what the powers that be at Chavez Ravine tell the press this week, as Dodger team officials announce they plan to make significant cuts to the team’s payroll in the next three years, all while raising ticket prices and expecting revenues to steadily increase. Specifically, ESPN.com reports team officials plan to cut payroll to $107 million this year, down from $132 million
Campus Circle > Sports > The Sports Wanderer in 2009. Further, the news report states the Dodgers’ plan to cut player salary commitments to 25 percent by 2013, down from 42 percent in 2007. And that’s not all. The team also announced the Dodgers expect to nearly double ticket prices by 2018, anticipating the average ticket to cost $53.50 before the end of this decade – up from the current average of $29.40. Talk about an extreme case of buy low/sell high. Somehow, this plan of buying players on the cheap but selling tickets to fans really high is expected to increase club revenue to $529 million in 2018, up from $295 million in 2008, ESPN.com reports. Hey, I am all for cutting costs and increasing revenue. But there is nothing wrong with a team (responsibly) spending a few extra dollars on its players in order to put a winning squad on the field, hence pleasing the fans, ergo translating into (likely) financial gain. For example, a Forbes Magazine report states the small-town Saints spent $149 million on player
“... drastically cutting payroll while spiking ticket prices is not an ideal way to run a sports franchise.” personnel, while revenues topped $232 million during its just-concluded championship season. If the Saints can afford to spend $149 million on its roster and post $232 million in revenue in a championship season despite playing in a market smaller than the San Fernando Valley, why are the Dodgers pursuing their just-stated fiscal policy when Chavez Ravine consistently draws about three million fans each season?
Well, there are a few fair responses: the McCourt divorce, reported pressure on teams by league commissioner Bud Selig to cut payroll expenses and the current state of the global economy promoting the widespread practice of slashing expenses. Even more, the financial documents that served as a basis for the ESPN.com report and this column were apparently produced to make the team attractive to Chinese investors, meaning this whole thing may be a case of one-step-back-but-two-steps-forward. If only Dodger team officials left it at that. What hurts is when the team announces it plans to double ticket prices, thinking it will have zero impact on fans attending games. “The Dodgers’ ticket prices are relatively inexpensive and there is substantial room for prices to increase without resulting in a decline in attendance,” ESPN.com reports from a team document. What makes the sports business so different from other industries is how it intricately balances spending money on players to attract fans. People come to watch games to see big personalities and championship runs, both of which inherently cost boatloads of money. Many ownership groups, such as Disney and Sterling, have tried hard to penny-pinch on player compensation, struggling accordingly to place a steadily winning product on the field. While no one will complain about sports executives making a genuine effort to responsibly manage dollars and cents, teams ultimately suffer when management tries too hard to maintain “the bottom line.” And that is the point. There will be fans willing to pay $53.50 per ticket to watch a Dodger game – so long as management places a winning team on the field. With announced plans to significantly slash payroll, management will probably not fulfill its end of the bargain.
BY TJ webber
Gina Ferazzi/Los Angeles Times/MCT
RED HOT BROWN Shannon Brown finds a gap in the Warrior defense Feb. 16.
A little over a year ago, Shannon Brown joined the Lakers. Since then, the 24-year-old guard – who is averaging eight points, two rebounds and one assist per game – has become quite a valuable asset to the squad. Although he failed to make it to the final round of the 2010 Slam Dunk Competition during All-Star Weekend, Brown has one of the highest vertical leaps in the league (44.5 inches) and dazzles crowds anytime he has the chance to dunk. With Kobe Bryant sidelined due to an ankle sprain, Brown has stepped up to the starting lineup and has proved he belongs in the spotlight. This couldn’t be more evident than when the 42-14 Lakers hosted the 16-39 Golden State Warriors Feb. 16. About halfway into the first quarter, Brown stole the ball from Anthony Morrow, drove down the court, slammed it home and the Lakers never looked back on their way to the 104-94 victory. Brown had a banner night with a career-high 27 points (to lead all scorers) and a career-high 10 rebounds. The team was Kobe-less again Feb. 18 against the 35-19 Celtics at Staples Center. The backcourt struggled – Brown was able to only put up eight points and four assists – but Pau Gasol and Lamar Odom put up strong efforts with 22 points and 13 points/14 rebounds, respectively. However, Boston ended up with the 87-86 win. Tonight, the No. 1 in the west Lakers head to Dallas to play the No. 4 in the west Mavericks (35-21) for the final time this season, but the two squads will most likely meet up at some point during the playoffs. Then, the Lakers return to Staples to host Philadelphia (21-34) Friday, Denver (37-19) Sunday and Indiana (19-36) Tuesday. All stats as of Feb. 22.
Campus Circle 2.24.10 - 3.2.10
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CALENDARTHE10SPOT BY FREDERICK MINTCHELL SUNDAYFEB. 28 Dodgertown Classic Dodger Stadium,1000 Elysian Park Ave., Los Angeles; dodgers.com/classic The Vanderbilt and Oklahoma State baseball teams play at 10 a.m., followed by USC and UCLA at 2 p.m. All proceeds from the event benefit the Dodgers Dream Foundation. No charge for parking today. $5 advance, $10 day of.
WEDNESDAYFEB. 24 Director’s Close-Up: Sound Design
SATURDAYFEB. 27 Sin City Massive
The Landmark, 10850 Pico Blvd., Los Angeles; filmindependent.org Aspiring filmmakers can learn about creating a powerful film soundtrack, from sound effects and location sound to the final mix. With Jeffrey Friedman and Lora Hirschberg of Howl, the opening night film at the 2010 Sundance Film Festival. Moderated by Neil LaBute. 7:30 p.m. $45.
Olympic Conference Center, 11301 Olympic Blvd., West Los Angeles; fla.vor. us/groovetickets Groove to the hottest dance, house and electronica with Fischerspooner (DJ Set), Astral Projection Live, DJ Shiftee (DMC Champ 09), DJ Micro, Jumping Jack Frost (UK), Superstar DJ Keoki, Nigel Richards, DJ Swamp, Taylor and many more. 8 p.m.4 a.m. $35.
THURSDAYFEB. 25 Go Eat, Go Drink, Go Out
SUNDAYFEB. 28 The Makeup Show
goeatla.org Many popular Los Angeles-area restaurants, bars and clubs give 15 percent or more of their day’s proceeds to Aid For AIDS and the Serra Project to help prevent homelessness and hunger for individuals and families impoverished by HIV/AIDS.
California Market Center, 110 E. 9th St., Downtown; themakeupshow.com Top industry exhibitors and experts promote new product introductions and special pro-only offers – all in an intimate setting where insider-only tips and techniques are traded between the best in the business. Also Monday. Tix start at $35.
FRIDAYFEB. 26 PaleyFest 2010 Paley Center for Media, 465 N. Beverly Drive, Beverly Hills; paleycenter.org The festival honors the casts and creators of “Breaking Bad,” “Community,” “Cougar Town,” “Curb Your Enthusiasm,” “Dexter,” “Flash Forward,” “Glee,” “Lost,” “Men of a Certain Age,” “Modern Family,” “NCIS” and “The Vampire Diaries.” There will also be an evening with Seth MacFarlane and special guests (March 9). Runs through March 14.
FRIDAYFEB. 26 80s Prom Party Music Box at the Fonda, 6126 Hollywood Blvd., Hollywood; 80spromparty.com If you yearn for a time long ago before cell phones, e-mail, iPods, even CDs, then make your hair big, find something with shoulder pads and listen to covers of Madonna, Prince, Journey and more. All proceeds support local animal rescues. 9 p.m.-2 a.m. Tix start at $15.
FRIDAYFEB. 26 Reservoir Dogs New Beverly Cinema, 7165 Beverly Blvd., Los Angeles; newbevcinema.com Now that Quentin Tarantino is up for an Oscar for the second time for directing, see his big-screen directorial debut, uh, on the big screen. 11:59 p.m. $7.
MONDAYMARCH 1 Free MCAT Workshops princetonreview.com To help medical school applicants better prepare for the extremely rigorous Medical College Admission Test, free workshops will dissect the MCAT subject by subject and demonstrate unique approaches and techniques designed to improve students’ scores. Various locations and times in SoCal. Runs through March 13.
TUESDAYMARCH 2 Everything Burns in Hollywood The Roxy, 9009 Sunset Blvd., West Hollywood; facebook.com/SHIROCKmusic This event raises awareness and funds as well as collecting clothing donations for the homeless for the Midnight Mission. The night is hosted by actor Michael Welch of Twilight: New Moon and features celebrity guests, a fashion show and a performance from Shirock.
For more events, visit campuscircle.com/calendar. To submit an event for consideration, e-mail email@example.com.
Q&A BY LUCIA I have been with my boyfriend for a year-a-half, and our relationship has taken a change. He’s distant, and we hardly have sex anymore. He says he needs to take a mini vacation to have time alone since we see each Lucia other everyday. We live together, so I can’t really do anything about that. I asked him if he is still serious about our future or should I move out. He says he loves me and wants to be with me. I used to see the love in his eyes and in his touch, but now it’s like we are roommates that sleep in the same bed! I don’t know what to do? —Jay Hi Jay, When a guy stops wanting to have sex anymore, that’s a HUGE red flag. It could be for any number of reasons, none of which are good: He’s cheating, he’s turned off by you, he’s angry with you or he’s into porn. On top of that, he wants to spend less time together. When someone is into you, they want to be with you as much as possible. I don’t care that he says he loves you and still wants to be with you. This is not how a man who is in love behaves. You have two options: The first is to move out and see if it’s possible to salvage the relationship once you are no longer under the same roof. The second is to give him the space he wants. Try not to be home at the same time. Build a full life outside of your relationship, so that if it does end, it won’t be as devastating, since you will already be living as if you are single. Maybe by giving him breathing room and not asking about the relationship, he may remember the reason he fell in love with you in the first place. Your letter is the perfect example of why I don’t believe in living together. It is a convenience. Only marriage is a commitment. Write to Lucia at theartoflove.net. Read an excerpt from Lucia’s Lessons of Love at lessonsoflove.net. Listen to Lucia live every Sunday at 3 p.m. PST on latalkradio.com. Remember: Love inspires, empowers, uplifts and enlightens.
7361 1/2 Melrose Ave., 2nd Fl., West Hollywood BY jessica koslow
Sweet 9 Renovation Party: Feb. 27
Just down the street from the Groundlings Theatre, ABOVE A row of shops and eateries, sits Sweet 9. Not a candy or lingerie boutique, it’s a full-service hair salon with an adjacent tearoom, which fulfills their promise of a complimentary fresh-brewed cup of tea or coffee served with any style or service. Recently remodeled and expanded, Sweet 9 just got a lot sweeter. After an attentive, advice-offering consultation, owner Dawn Reid snips, trims and styles. In the background, the sound of Prince rotates with the Jesus and Mary Chain (Dawn was once married to member William Reid.). Sitting in Dawn’s chair is like hanging with a friend. Not only do you get to talk about yourself (one of the perks about receiving beauty treatments, haircuts included), but Dawn has led an interesting life that she readily shares with you. With 20 years of experience, she knows what works for each individual. Almost like a science, Dawn reveals to me the mathematical nature of haircutting (angles, circles, etc.). Luckily, Dawn is a whiz at math. Sharing the same floor as Sweet 9 is Platinum Image Services, a private boutique spa. Guests are welcome to lounge in the tearoom, complete with vibrant red and muted green walls decorated with lowbrow pop and Dia de los Muertos art. Vintage furnishings and ’60s mod-style chairs power Sweet 9’s energetic rock bohemian appeal. Stop by on Saturday, Feb. 27, at 7 p.m. for the re-launch of the newly designed spot! Sweet 9 Hair Salon Renovation Party will take place Feb. 27 at 7 p.m. For more information, call (323) 655-1196 or visit sweet9.com.
Campus Circle 2.17.10 - 2.23.10
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