Tuesday, March 27, 2007

THE SCENE: Condo Browsing with a Foxx

Posted By on Tue, Mar 27, 2007 at 4:17 PM

If you've just moved to Charlotte, you know how earnest developers are about putting up new condos for people just like you. What you may not know is how to decorate that condo in a way it reflects you, is effective use of the space, and doesn't cost as much as you're paying in rent. So with this in mind, I headed to Condo Mojo. Five designers were summoned to 1315 East in Dilworth and given free reign within a budget to create aesthetic masterpieces. The event started at Super Suppers, where guests gorged themselves on Amy Conder's VERY good food, including the best meatballs I've ever had. After mingling with a group from Ameritrade who were really impressed with the journalistic lifestyle, especially after they found out I'd written Lust List 2007, we were herded into small groups and set to tour the condos. The most conventional designs were not always presented, like filling the bathroom sink with those decorator rocks and a tealight, but each was amazing in its own right — from the quirky ways to make flat screen TVs into actual furniture pieces to tied-dyed bedroom art with the message "Relax." Grand total for a typical budget - $15,000.

Less typical and more Unpredictable was Friday night's visit with Jamie Foxx at Charlotte Bobcats Arena. All I can say is, thank God my tickets were comp. True, I missed opening act Fantasia, but how sorry was I when the highlight of the evening was Jamie saying "Good night." Don't get me wrong — the man is a very talented singer. But, I expected a little more in stage presence from an Academy Award winner. He fumbled the title of his own album, but maybe that was supposed to be part of the comic routine he performed between songs. But, some people did seem to enjoy themselves. A group of ladies sitting behind us apparently were on an outing for one of their birthdays. One of them made a comment of what Foxx could do for her after her performed a "trick" with his tongue, then said how sorry she was she couldn't throw her friend (the one whose birthday it was) on stage to get it firsthand. My friend said it felt "over-rehearsed" and "wack." I wonder if that had anything to do with being serenaded with "Charlotte, you're the best crowd" over and over?

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FILM: Chuck Nyuks

Posted By on Tue, Mar 27, 2007 at 4:12 PM

Is there anyone out there who isn't aware of the Internet phenomenon known as the "Chuck Norris Facts"?

In a nutshell, the "facts" are nuggets of wisdom concerning the martial arts champion and former Walker, Texas Ranger star. In all cases, they're fabricated statements made to illustrate Norris' toughness and take-no-prisoners demeanor. Reportedly, Norris himself is a fan of these "facts," and why not? Not only do they bulk up his reputation as the ultimate bad-ass, but they're also funny. Very, very funny.

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You can find over 100 such "facts" on numerous Web sites, including here and here. Here's a sampling of 10 choice quips.

1. Chuck Norris counted to infinity — twice.

2. In fine print on the last page of the Guinness Book of World Records, it notes that all world records are held by Chuck Norris, and those listed in the book are simply the closest anyone else has ever gotten.

3. Chuck Norris is what Willis was talkin' about.

4. Chuck Norris is the reason Waldo is hiding.

5. Those aren't credits that roll after Walker, Texas Ranger. It is actually a list of fatalities that occurred during the making of the episode.

6. Whoever said "only the good die young" was probably in Chuck Norris's kindergarten class.

7. They were going to release a Chuck Norris edition of Clue, but the answer always turns out to be "Chuck Norris. In The Library. With a Roundhouse Kick."

8. When Bruce Banner gets mad, he turns into the Hulk. When the Hulk gets mad, he turns into Chuck Norris.

9. Chuck Norris once went skydiving, but promised never to do it again. One Grand Canyon is enough.

10. Chuck Norris invented the Internet ... just so he had a place to store his porn.

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Friday, March 23, 2007

CITIZEN SERVATIUS: Your Tax Dollars at Work

Posted By on Fri, Mar 23, 2007 at 2:54 PM

Photo credit, Dale Johnson.

Photo credit Dale Johnson

Hope you didn't miss the stunning tulips uptown along Tryon Street last week, provided by your oh-so-broke Charlotte city government, the same folks who raised your taxes last year because they claimed they couldn't afford to hire more police officers.

The tulips cost the city a mere $8,460 for 940 pots. They lasted over a week.

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Wednesday, March 21, 2007

CD Review: Don't Tell Columbus

Posted By on Wed, Mar 21, 2007 at 3:48 PM

Graham Parker's Don't Tell Columbus was released March 13, 2007.

The Deal: Former angry young man mellows out (sort of) with age and the help of same tasty guitar hooks.

The Good: Like Dylan’s "115th Dream," Graham Parker’s “Don’t Tell Columbus” is a skewed personal take on American history. “I had the accurate compass,” says Parker, who led his own British invasion in ’76 with his “ bony chested t-shirt, some stolen guitar licks.” No arrogant rockstar pontification, it's a tongue-in-cheek narrative of Parker’s early days when everybody who told him to quit made him more determined to conquer America on his own terms.

But this is not a concept album, and Parker quickly moves on to skewer things other than himself. “We want to see him strung out / we want to see him fail / we want to see him dead already / we wish that we were him,” he says of the unnamed protagonist in “England’s Latest Clown,” succinctly summing up our craving for celebrity dirt and our desire for 15 seconds of reality fame.

Although he’s somewhat mellower, he can still be still pretty blunt, as evidenced on his take on Bush’s handling of Katrina, on the Dylanesque “Stick To The Plan.” “Don’t pay any attention to what the experts say / too much intelligence gets in the way,” he quips, sizing up Bush’s domestic and foreign policies succinctly.

Parker’s barbed witticisms are delivered with snappy rock accompaniment. He has a guitar-driven hook for every occasion.

The Bad: It takes two or three listens to take it all in. Parker’s melodies are so good they distract you from his barbed lyrics. They’re both too well crafted not to give your full attention.

he Verdict: Play it through once for fun, then go back and revel in the wordplay. There’s plenty to entertain you, for a long time to come.

— Reviewed by Grant Britt

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FILM: Money For Nothing

Posted By on Wed, Mar 21, 2007 at 8:26 AM

It used to mean something to be one of the all-time top-grossing moneymakers. It used to mean that a motion picture tapped into the national zeitgeist, or benefited from glorious word of mouth, or merely proved to be so entertaining that few could resist its charms.

And now? It merely means that a heckuva lot of people rushed to see it on opening weekend, and that the studio’s p.r. team earned its pay that week.

In the grand scheme of things, a blockbuster-opening weekend is a fairly recent development. Take the now-long-ago case of E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial, which briefly had surged past Star Wars to become the all-time top earner. And how did E.T. earn this status, by opening to the tune of $80 million? Hardly. Its opening weekend tally was $11.8 million, but it built on its success by earning comparable amounts over the course of several consecutive weekends.

Here, from www.boxofficemojo.com, are the “official” Top 10 titles and the real (i.e. adjusted for inflation) Top 10.

“Official” Top 10 Moneymakers

1. Titanic (1997)

2. Star Wars (1977)

3. Shrek 2 (2004)

4. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

5. Star Wars: Episode I – The Phantom Menace (1999)

6. Pirates of the Caribbean: Dead Man’s Chest (2006)

7. Spider-Man (2002)

8. Star Wars: Episode III – Revenge of the Sith (2005)

9. The Lord of the Rings: The Return of the King (2003)

10. Spider-Man 2 (2004)

Top 10 Moneymakers Adjusted For Inflation

1. Gone With the Wind (1939)

2. Star Wars (1977)

3. The Sound of Music (1965)

4. E.T.: The Extra-Terrestrial (1982)

5. The Ten Commandments (1956)

6. Titanic (1997)

7. Jaws (1975)

8. Doctor Zhivago (1965)

9. The Exorcist (1973)

10. Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs (1938)

The REAL Number One

Gone With The Wind: The REAL number one

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THE SCENE: Dance of War

Posted By on Wed, Mar 21, 2007 at 8:24 AM

Prologue: On the agenda for Friday night was Nego Gato, a performance of music, dance and capoeira, a Brazilian martial art nicknamed the "dance of war." However, how the night transgressed can be jokingly referred to as the "dance of options."

Act One: I was running late to attend NG, so I was still in my casual Friday clothes. During the performance, a woman danced on stage with an outfit much too big. In anticipation of a Janet Jackson Superbowl moment, a kind man said he thought I'd need to cover my eyes. He'd misidentified me as a young man and profusely apologized after seeing what "a beautiful young woman" I was after the performance ended.

Act Two: I wasn't in the mood to change afterwards, so we attempted to see how far we could go in the city's nightlife scene. Well, let's just say we had to leave Center City, and even the taverns were full because of March Madness. We finally settled on Starbucks on East Boulevard, even though my companion had his reservations because he doesn't drink coffee. Unfortunately, every other beatnik in town beat us to the punch and in the end, we had to call it an early night.

Epilogue: The moral of this tale is clothes do not make the man, or in this case the woman, but they sure do give people the right idea and open up a wealth of entertainment options in the fair city of Charlotte.

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Tuesday, March 13, 2007

CD Review: Best of the Sugar Hill Years Americana Master Series

Posted By on Tue, Mar 13, 2007 at 4:09 PM

Guy Clark's Best of the Sugar Hill Years Americana Master Series was released March 13, 2007

The Deal: Texas singer songwriter Guy Clark's retrospective on Sugar Hill Records

The Good: “Ain’t no money in poetry,” Guy Clark sang on his 1999 release Cold Dog Soup. But set to music, Clarke‘s words have made him one of the most beloved and respected songwriters in the world. Clark’s carefully crafted songs have given a generation of writers the wish- I’d-said-that blues. It’s hard to top word portraits like Townes Van Zandt in “Cold Dog Soup,” standing at the bar “full of angst and hillbilly haiku.” Clark also revels in simple pleasures on “Mud,” getting it on his shirt and between his toes before reverting back to it. “Let the crawfish have their way, its mud to mud and that’s okay.”

The Bad: Sugar Hill only had four albums to draw from and didn’t include anything from 1989’s Old Friends. The list was compiled with input from fans based on downloads and mail as well as requests shouted out live, and it’ll do. Still, you wonder why his magnificent love song, “Coat From the Cold” and “Desperadoes Waiting for a Train” from the live 1997 album Keeper weren’t included instead of the Marty Robbins soundalike “South Coast Of Texas” that made it onto the compilation.

The Verdict: It’s hard to bitch much about any Guy Clark song. “There’s a lot that I don’t do (in concert) that didn’t pan out,” he said recently from his Nashville home. But none he wishes he hadn’t written.” “'Cause I learned something,” he chuckles. “Don’t do that again.” There are no mistakes here — you can do this one over and over.

— Reviewed by Grant Britt

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CD Review: Security

Posted By on Tue, Mar 13, 2007 at 4:00 PM

Antibalas' Security was released March 6, 2007.

The Deal: Big and brassy, Antibalas takes Afrobeat to new levels.

The Good: In 1968, Nigerian musician Fela Kuti mixed Afro-Cuban jazz with Latin influences, dubbing his creation Afrobeat. In the hands of the 14-member, Brooklyn-based musical collective Antibalas, (Spanish for bulletproof) the music sounds like James Brown’s stellar '70s back-up band the JB’s, fronted by Sun Ra with guest stars Miles Davis and Pharaoh Sanders backed by Fela Kuti. “Filibuster X” is a big honkin’ political statement, a musical filibuster reminding politicians that they take their power from the people. “War Hero" is a funky mix of War and Sergio Mendes: afro-beat samba funk. “Age” is instrumental Latin soul, featuring a seventies-era Jimmy McGriff organ vibe that flows into a New Orleans funeral band dirge topped with a JB’s bandleader Fred Wesley style ‘bone solo.

The Bad: Maybe a little too esoteric for some tastes. These guys aren’t afraid to find a groove and wallow in it — you may get tired of it before they do. “Beaten Metal” gets a bit tiresome, with the same instruments repeating the same figures over and over. Listening takes some commitment — some of the cuts are long, with the title cut checking in at 13 minutes.

The Verdict: Let yourself go. It’s complicated music, a lot to take in at once. But once you let the rhythm relax you, the other stuff will gradually seep into your pores and have you wiggling in ecstasy, feeling 10 feet tall and bulletproof.

— Reviewed by Grant Britt

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FILM: Rewarding the Wrong Roles

Posted By on Tue, Mar 13, 2007 at 2:19 PM

When Martin Scorsese finally won his Oscar last month for The Departed, most film fans responded with a chorus of "About time!" A few, however, retorted with, "For that movie?"

Yes, of course Scorsese's Oscar should have been for one of his signature films, specifically GoodFellas or Raging Bull.

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or
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But the Academy has a history of rewarding individuals for the wrong movies, especially when it comes to the actors. Here, then, are some examples of Oscar-winning roles followed by the parts for which the performers should have won their statues.

Denzel Washington: Won Best Actor for Training Day (2001); should have won for Malcolm X (1992).

Al Pacino: Won Best Actor for Scent of a Woman (1992); should have won for The Godfather (1972).

Paul Newman: Won Best Actor for The Color of Money (1986); should have won for The Hustler (1961).

Henry Fonda: Won Best Actor for On Golden Pond (1981); should have won for The Grapes of Wrath (1940).

Dustin Hoffman: Won Best Actor for Kramer vs. Kramer (1979) and Rain Man (1988); should have won for Midnight Cowboy (1969) and Tootsie (1982).

Jack Lemmon: Won Best Actor for Save the Tiger (1973); should have won for Some Like It Hot (1959).

Humphrey Bogart: Won Best Actor for The African Queen (1951); should have won for either Casablanca (1943) or The Treasure of the Sierra Madre (1948).

Ingrid Bergman: Won Best Actress for Gaslight (1944) and Anastasia (1956); should have won one for Notorious (1946).

James Stewart: Won Best Actor for The Philadelphia Story (1940); should have won for It's a Wonderful Life (1946).

Bette Davis: Won Best Actress for Dangerous (1935) and Jezebel (1938); should have won one for All About Eve (1950).

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Monday, March 12, 2007

THE SCENE: People-watching

Posted By on Mon, Mar 12, 2007 at 3:05 PM

So ... in this blog, my job is to tell you a little about what's going on in Charlotte. A little known event that few people really appreciate is people-watching at Northlake Mall. But, to sit still and watch people who assume it's cool to just hang around the mall is kind of sad. I mean, the teens were there Saturday in full force. I can understand their plight, since they have very little options, even with a car. However, I'm talking about the 30-and-up crowd who must have been reliving their adolescence. One set of friends (female) actually giggled and talked at way-too-loud a level as they toted huge bags from store to store, shouting the names and pointing to their favorites.

I was just going to pick up a new pair of jeans. Instead, I found an adventure.

Wow. It's funny how as the world gets more technologically advanced, we seem to gravitate more to things that don't require any computer-literacy at all.

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