Thursday, July 30, 2009

iPhone Users Beware! And An Unrelated Tale of Mistaken Identity

iPhones users! Goodchild informed me that there may be some crazy phone virus headed your way, check out this article on Forbes.com.

Yeah so Tim is my band mate slash room mate and Goodchild had a funny incident with a person whom he thought was Tim. Read the story below as if Tim is someone you know.

- Sonic

so ... the attached pic is of Tim, though not of tim:

i walked to the 7th ave stop on the B/Q line on the way to work, as I do when it's not pouring rain.
I was waiting for the train underground, sweating my ass off, when I decided to take my glasses off a second and wipe my brow.
without my glasses, I saw someone come down the stairs to the platform, and the fuzzy out of focus shape had a familiar feel to it ...
I put my glasses on, and i saw Tim standing there, looking at me, wearing slacks, a button down shirt, a tie and a sport coat.
"Hey!" I said.
Tim stared at me a moment more, said nothing, then turned away ...
When I caught the profile, it occurred to me that it might not be Tim -
after all, what the fuck is Tim doing waiting for the B or Q train in park slope at 9am?
And - I hoped - wouldn't Tim have at least said "Hi" back to me before ignoring me?
I thought we were friends ...
I looked closer, and, yeah, it was Tim ...
So I took a few steps towards him, and saw that, No, No Way, it was NOT Tim.
Shit.
My bad.
The B train came, I hopped on ... and he hopped on the same car.
I got a seat, and he stood, almost facing me, and for a while I was staring at him ...
same height
same weight
same hair (though it was sweaty and matted down)
same mannerisms
same gait (is that the word for the way someone walks?)
and similar fashion, to a sense - As it was a workday, I totally believed Tim would wear this getup.
I realized I had to get a picture ... i kinda snapped one, it's not the best, and it doesn't do justice to how much this guy looks like -
no, how much this guy IS Tim...
Tim has a doppleganger in park slope, i swear it.

- Goodchild

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Monday, July 27, 2009

Why The Japanese Are Way Cooler Than Us Americans



Perhaps a bit overstating there, but in many ways it seems true. For example, Americans created baseball, and it is our national pastime – but even though we have always been rather dominant in the sport, once an actual world championship was created (the World Baseball Classic), Japan showed the world who’s got game (they’ve won both tournaments so far). That’s just cool.

Know what else is cool? Studio Ghibli. I mean, these guys are just the absolute greatest at what they do – and what they do is make awesome animated films.

… I’m looking at that last sentence and it’s not doing it for me. “Awesome” is a word that simply gets bandied about too much, and has lost its punch. Ok, how about this: Studio Ghibli makes films that will instill a wholly childlike sense of awe and wonder in you, and make you wish that the film never ends so that you never have to go back to the real world. Alright, I like that better, but it still doesn’t do them justice. The films these guys put out there just exude a coolness on a level that no American animation even comes close to – not even our mighty Pixar.

Helmed by the masterful Hayao Miyazaki, Studio Ghibli has created some of the most wonderful films (and think about that word a minute – wonderful … FULL of WONDER) the world has ever seen. The films are so wildly successful in their native Japan, that Disney secured rights to dub them in English for North American release. If you’ve ever seen a Japanese movie dubbed in English, you might think this is a terrible idea – but in their defense, Disney does the right thing by Miyazaki’s films, hiring the right actors to get down the rightly translated dialogue. While I usually insist on watching anime in Japanese with English subtitles, Disney’s dubs of Miyazaki’s films are a pleasant exception, and are excellently done. They are even so well received here that Spirited Away won the Academy Award for best animated film in 2002.

Last year, Japanese audiences were treated to Miyazaki and Studio Ghibli’s newest film – and the slow process of properly translating the script, finding the right actors and redubbing it in English has finally come to fruition for Disney, who will be releasing Ponyo on August 14th. Check the trailer, then get the family together and tell them not to make plans for August 14th!

- Goodchild

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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Portugal. The Man - New Album Out Today!


Portugal. The Man's new record The Satanic Satanist comes out today! They are also playing some gigs in our neck of the woods, August 4th at Union Pool (Brooklyn) and August 5th at Mercury Lounge (NYC). See you there!

- Sonic

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Monday, July 20, 2009

As Tall As Lions - New Record Hits August 18th

It’s Been Fun, But Looks Like We’re All Doomed!

To quote the last line in the song Be Here Now, by the ridiculously cool band As Tall As Lions:
“It’s been a good life – I’ll be sad to see it go …”

Clicking this link will explain why and apparently how we’ll all die.

So, why not check out a sweet ass live version of the aforementioned As Tall As Lions song?


- Goodchild

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Friday, July 17, 2009

Watch Out, SoCal!



Two weeks ago, I was on vacation visiting the folks in Las Vegas. Being huge baseball fans, we took a day to drive down to San Diego to watch our beloved Boys in Blue (still the best team in baseball!) beat up on the hometown Padres. Thankfully, they did beat up on them – then promptly blew the lead, and finally won the game in an exhausting 13 innings (hey, at least we got our money’s worth). We walked around downtown San Diego a bit before and after the game, and I simply couldn’t stop talking about how beautiful the city is. I mean, I just love it out there. The architecture, the people, the culture, the food …

Oh, and don’t forget the beaches. San Diego has some awesome beaches, with some great surfing. In fact, with the weather there being almost perfect year round, there’s really only one problem.

Humbolt squid – “aggressive 5-foot-long sea monsters with razor-sharp beaks and toothy tentacles”, to quote the article I just read – are invading the shallow waters off the coast in San Diego, and perhaps moving further north.

Click here to read about some of the experiences people have been having with the giant sea monsters.

Would you head into the sea to swim with them? They’re big … check this video for some being caught by fishermen earlier this year.

- Goodchild

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Thursday, July 16, 2009

Julian Casablancas of The Strokes Releasing New Solo Album


Julian Casablancas of The Strokes will be releasing a solo record entitled Phrazes For The Young. All of the other members of The Strokes have released work on side projects but this will be the first for Casablancas. The record is due out in Fall of this year, but check out the preview video for now.

- Sonic

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

9th Annual Siren Music Festival

illustration by Paul Antonson

9th Annual SIREN MUSIC FESTIVAL Saturday, July 18, 2009

BUILT TO SPILL, SPANK ROCK, THE RAVEONETTES, FRIGHTENED RABBIT, GRAND DUCHY, MONOTONIX, A PLACE TO BURY STRANGERS,
THEE OH SEES, FUTURE OF THE LEFT, JAPANDROIDS, MICACHU & THE SHAPES, TINY MASTERS OF TODAY, BEAR HANDS, THE BLUE VAN, JUSTINE D. and DeadHeat DJs Play the Siren Festival this weekend!

SIREN MUSIC FESTIVAL returns this Saturday, July 18, 2009 from noon — 9pm! This free, all ages festival features performances throughout the day on two outdoor stages in historic Coney Island, NYC.

+ Click Here For More Details

- Sonic

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Travel Tips - Las Vegas


Time for something a bit unusual for one of my posts, but something I nonetheless had to give some props to. I’m usually blathering about video games, movies, television, or other forms of media, but today I thought I’d talk about another form of gaming.

I am, of course, talking about gambling – and I thought I’d tip you off on a brand new spot to head off to.


A few years ago, my parents retired and moved away from the loving embrace of New York City, to the bright lights of fabulous Las Vegas. Since that time, I’ve gone out to visit quite a few times, and in many respects stopped considering myself a tourist while there. Now, if you know anything about Las Vegas, you know the strip – that long stretch of Las Vegas Boulevard where all the mega hotel/casinos are. Where you book a room at one hotel, but spend your vacation tooling up and down, visiting each of the others – and why not, it’s legal to walk on the strip with open alcoholic beverages!


My main problem is that I spend most of my time at home at work, and I work right near Times Square. Times Square is one of, if not the largest tourist destination in our country. Since I spend 5 days a week surrounded by the thickest flow of tourists imaginable, when I go away to relax and visit my folks, I try not to go near the strip – it’s like being at work when I’m 2,500 miles from home. There are plenty of really nice places off of the strip that offer everything the mega joints do – sometimes even more. For example, until my last trip, I’d say that my favorite place in Las Vegas was Red Rock Casino. The architecture of the building is incredibly cool, with long, low waterfalls and fire pits outside. The gaming floor has a very pretty red aesthetic, to match the nearby red rocks of the Nevada mountains. They have all the games you want to play – and with better table limits and less restrictions on rules than on the strip. There are a lot of food choices, ranging from good all the way to great. There’s a ton more than the casino, too – an amazing spa, a huge movie theater, the coolest bowling alley I’ve even been to (which is cheap as hell, too!!), and the sweetest pool area I’d seen yet. Oh, and it’s populated by really cool, mellow locals, all friendly and just looking for a good time – the exact opposite of the huge jostling crowds giving off heavy and bad vibes on the strip. All that, and if you’re free during the day, Red Rock Canyon National Conservation Area is right nearby, with some breathtaking views, trails, and a great scenic drive. I recommend climbing to the top of the tallest peak there, Mt. Turtlehead – my brothers and I did it, and it was exhilarating, offering great views of all of Las Vegas.


So … what could be better than all that?

M.

That’s it. Just one letter and it says it all. M is the newest luxury joint in Las Vegas, and it sits just south of the strip, just off I-15. Inside, it offers all the amenities on its gaming floor that Red Rock does, but bigger, newer and nicer. I’ve never met a friendlier staff at a casino, with people always looking to help out and hook you up – anytime I saw anyone ask for any type of comp, they got it. Now, I can’t truly speak on what all those peoples gambling tendencies were, but I can say I’ve never seen pit bosses jump so energetically at the prospect of getting something for free for the customers.



And the free things seem to be everywhere. Simply for signing up for a comp card, I was treated to a free buffet. As good as that may sound, consider this: the family that runs the M owns their own farm where they raise the delicious beef used there. They own their own vineyards, and supply their own delicious wine. They own their own microbrewery and supply their own beer. And in the buffet, which featured probably the most amazing selection of gourmet international foods I’ve ever seen assembled in one room, all the wine and beer you want is included. How’s that for value?


My first day in town was July 4th, and my parents and I went to M, outside by the pool area to watch their fireworks show. I was fairly impressed by it, and I’ve seen the one they put on in Redbank, NJ. But what really impressed me was the sweet layout of the pool area itself, and how beautiful it was – and the fact that the strikingly gorgeous sunsets over the mountains around the M didn’t hurt at all. My last night in town, my ‘rents and I went to the Veloce Cibo, at the top of M. The impressive views of Las Vegas were almost as good as those from Mt. Turtlehead (though there wasn’t the I-just-climbed-a-mountain sense of accomplishment to heighten it), and the food there was flat out ridiculous. Seriously. No peppercorn sauce should be that good – that’s how people get addicted.


All this, supported by what is by far the most attractive wait staff I’ve ever seen (why, if I didn’t have my Norah Jones, I’d be in love with every woman there), and you’ve got my favorite destination spot in all of Nevada.

- Goodchild

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Tuesday, July 14, 2009

Brand New Brand New Song - Bed


As promised here is a live video of the song "Bed" which will be on Brand New's new record entitled Daisy coming out September 22nd 2009.

- Sonic

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Get Ready To Point And Click



This Wednesday, July 15th, something I’ve been waiting a very long time for is going to happen. The Secret Of Monkey Island: Special Edition will be released for download on Xbox Live Arcade and PC.

To those who didn’t play it when it originally came out years ago, it is an old school point-and-click adventure game. It may not have all the bells and whistles of a new HD console or PC game, but what it lacks in flashiness, it makes up for with its awesomely funny dialogue, great characters, and a truly fun-as-hell experience – and it was the first game I think I played that Tim Schafer worked on (Brutal Legend comes out soon!!). Check the trailer, and download it on Wednesday.

- Goodchild

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Monday, July 13, 2009

A Vote For 3D IMAX Movies


With Hollywood’s current shifting towards 3D films, I’ve taken a real interest in something that moves alongside this: ticket prices. It’s bad enough that I have to pay between 12 and 13 dollars when I want to catch a flick with friends after work in New York City – but when you want to go see something in 3d, the price jumps up from there. With nights out at the cinema reaching ridiculous prices, it’s easy to feel like you’re just not getting your money’s worth. This is why you simply have to pick the correct overly expensive movie ticket to buy.

For around $16 a ticket, I can go see a “3D IMAX Experience!” movie at the Lincoln Center IMAX on 68th street. The screen is enormous, the sound system is awesome – if it’s the right movie it’s well worth the money. But how do you know it’s the right movie? Well, reading the book first helps.

When it released, I hopped the 1 train up to the IMAX theater to see the 5th Harry Potter movie. How did I know that it would be well worth the admission? Because I’d read the book, and knew that there was an incredible spectacle of an action sequence in the 3rd act that would not just be something to watch, but more something to experience.

Well, it’s almost time once again, my friends, for the show that is far from ending (as the final book 7 is being broken into 2 movies). This week, the 6th Harry Potter film, Harry Potter and the Half Blood Prince, is released, and you can expect some incredible action and some awesome sights and fights to behold this time around. If you’ve got an IMAX theater near you, I highly recommend dropping the extra loot for it – it’s going to be quite the experience when [EDITOR’S NOTE: The end of this post has been removed for spoilers of the worst kind. Though, you really should have read the books by now. Seriously, you’ve got no excuses.]

- Goodchild

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Brand New: Music Hall Of Williamsburg 07.11.09




Music Hall of Williamsburg is a rather small venue for a band like Brand New, and as our very own Mitch will tell you it sold out in minutes. There was a 2 ticket limit and a will call only policy on the show to prevent people from selling tickets for ridiculous prices.


The first half of their 90 minutes ish show was mostly songs off of Your Favorite Weapon and Deja Entendu. Then they played a few songs of their upcoming album Daisy which will hit the US on September 22nd. On first listen I definitely liked it, kind of in the vein of God And The Devil Are Raging Inside Me but a little heavier.


They finished the show with "Soco Amaretto Lime" and the whole place was singing along. A great show and I know a lot of you missed it but they will be playing Nassau Coliseum with Glassjaw on November 27th so keep you eyes and ears out for ticket info. I will also have an exclusive video up of them playing a song off of Daisy so check back tomorrow!

- Sonic

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Wednesday, July 8, 2009

Video Pick: The Lonely Island - Like A Boss



Another video off of The Lonely Island's Incredibad album. Do a YouTube search for these guys all the videos are pretty hilarious.

- Sonic

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Monday, July 6, 2009

Featured Band: Wavves


Wavves
' is a band from California playing some surf rock with a punk rock attitude and lofi textures. Maybe the word band is inaccurate since it is currently comprised only of singer Nathan Williams. Drug and alcohol problems led to an abrupt end of their set in Spain earlier this year where he fought with drummer Ryan Ulsh and the crowd. The rest of the European tour was cancelled and Ulsh left the group earlier this summer.

Williams is back though with a few gigs booked including one at Bowery Ballroom on July 15th.

- Sonic

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Friday, July 3, 2009

(2) Weeks Until (500) Days



Anyone who knows me knows I have a strange fascination following the career of Joseph Gordon-Levitt. I liked his old sitcom (3rd Rock From The Sun), and always thought it was weird turning the TV on and seeing John Lithgow talk to the kid from that silly, silly movie Angels In The Outfield. Stupid Angels … nobody likes Anaheim …

I didn’t really take a shine to him until I saw him in one of my proudly admitted “guilty pleasure” movies, 10 Things I Hate About You. I’m a Shakespeare geek, and it was Shakespeare. And it was awesome. So, when a movie called Brick came on HBO one day, I saw he was the star and watched it – and not only was the movie amazing, but he was absolutely great in it – the kid was all grown up, and can act his damn ass off. In case anyone thought different, the same year Brick came out, so did The Lookout – another great film, with Gordon-Levitt as the star, and doing one hell of a job. So, I get a little excited about almost anything he’s in – it seems he picks real winners (we won’t talk about the upcoming disaster he’s in called G.I Joe).

On July 17th, his new film, (500) Days Of Summer, comes out. It has him starring opposite a great actress I also really like, Zooey Deschanel. You know her from Yes Man, Almost Famous, a brief stint on the show Weeds, and my personal favorite bit of her resume – The Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy.

This movie has gotten rave reviews at its showings at film festivals, and after seeing the trailer, I know where I’ll be on July 17th.

- Goodchild

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Thursday, July 2, 2009

Discover: Dan May - Artist

Stay Off The Grass © Dan May

Dan May is an American artist originally from Rochester, New York. I really enjoy his versatility in his style where he can use very solid strokes as he does in Stay Off The Grass (above) but also is capable of creating soft images like the piece shown below.

Pulled From The Heavens © Dan May

His piece entitled Henry's Burden (below) is based on David Lynch's film Eraserhead and will be a part of David Lynch's tribute show at Alcove Arts in Atlanta Georgia on July 10th.

Henry's Burden © Dan May

+ Dan May Interview [The Little Chimp Society]

- Sonic

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Wednesday, July 1, 2009

Video Pick: The National - Mistaken for Strangers



This video is from The National and the song is called Mistaken for Strangers. They will be at the All Points West Festival this year, we will be doing a preview of the festival soon. For now enjoy the video to a really good song.

- Sonic

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Tuesday, June 30, 2009

Brandt Peters - Artist

© Brandt Peters

Our eye candy today is brought to you by Brandt Peters, an American artist. He has a unique style which I would describe as if Disney cartoons were more demented and done in graffiti.

© Brandt Peters

He is another artist whose work translates very well to toys and sculptures. Make sure you take a look at the toys section on his site.

© Brandt Peters

I think it would be awesome if they made an animated film using his artwork, but that's just me. Check out Brandt's site here, and more links at Gelaskins.

© Brandt Peters


- Sonic

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Monday, June 29, 2009

Featured Band: Phoenix

Phoenix

The synth has definitely made a comeback lately but these guys have incorporated that element to their music for years. Phoenix is a band from France and one you guys should check out. They are on a big European tour but will be stopping by LA and NYC. The September 25th show at Central Park is sold out but they added another show on the 26th and Passion Pit is opening which is awesome because Passion Pit is one of my faves as of late.

+ Phoenix on Myspace

- Sonic

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Friday, June 26, 2009

What I've Been Doing, and What You Should Be Doing

photo courtesy of IGN

For the last few weeks, I have been mildly obsessed with [Prototype], the new game from Radical Entertainment.

I really wanted to finish the game before sharing my thoughts, but it took me a dang long time, since I there was just so much to do aside from the missions. And while everything is exceptionally fun, taking my time with the game also let me see its (few) flaws as well. Let’s start with those, since this will mostly be a glowing review.

The story of the game starts off at the end – you are a super powered viral freak, 18 days after a major infection has spread throughout all of Manhattan. The military is out in full effect trying to maintain order (and keep the virus from spreading off the island), but there are monstrous mutants wreaking havoc all over the city. You play as Alex Mercer, who seems to be patient zero, and within whom the virus has taken a unique form – Alex can jump over buildings, glide through the air, mutate into different combat forms, run up the sides of buildings, throw cars at helicopters … the list goes on. So, starting at the end, fully powered and causing destruction, is fun, but you must realize what comes next – the flashback. So, jump back 18 days to Alex waking up in a morgue. He has no memories, and doesn’t even know he has powers yet. I don’t mind the taste of the good life to come before having to learn it all over again, but as the game starts as a flashback to a specific point in time my problem with the story is that if I run around doing all the side quests and not the main missions while the sun rises and sets over my head 25 times – well, that was more than 18 days, wasn’t it?

photo courtesy of IGN

This nitpicking is far from the only problem the game has. The targeting system can be horrible at times, refusing to catch on to close and/or strong threats. Many times I found myself on a rooftop, surrounded by Hunter mutants and helicopters, only to have my targeting system lock on to the “hive” building across the street. Also, while the graphics in the game are pretty good, they’re nothing spectacular, and they stay the same. What I mean by that is, from the beginning of the game, all of Manhattan is open for you to explore. And, since running around as a super powered freak is ridiculous fun, explore you will. But that’s it – you can easily plug anywhere from 15-20+ hours into the game if you take the time to go after everything, and the sights never really change, and all the brownish buildings do kind of get a bit boring. Staying with the graphics, there is also a problem with pop-ins coming through the dreaded haze. At the beginning of the game, I climbed up to the top of the empire state building and looked around, and the haze wasn’t all that bad – but as the infection spreads throughout the city and more and more of it is on fire, it’s hard to see a few blocks ahead of you sometimes. The pop-in graphics sometimes don’t pop-in until you’re right within a few meters of them, which also makes finding all the collectible landmark orbs in the city a lot harder – you can be on one rooftop looking at another, not see an orb, and then jump over to it and there it is.

But this all aside, this game is pure fun and enjoyment. While I knew it would be heavy on hand to hand combat, I had no idea that the game was a huge open-world brawler, whose combat mechanics reminded me of old school favorites like Streets of Rage. I must have been more than 5 hours into the game before I realized how cool the combat was, and I spent about 2 hours just running through infected streets brawling with mutants in various forms – not a mission, just having fun. The RPG elements of earning experience points to spend on new powers and moves were great, and truly rewarding.

photo Courtesy of IGN

Once the flashback has started, as I said, you have to learn all the powers you tasted in the opening scene. You start off being able to do a few cool tricks, but right around the time you are able to upgrade, the enemies get harder (hello, hunters!) and make you plan out your upgrades. I got this damn cool claw power, running around with lady deathstrike-esque hands and ripping people to shreds – then I met the hunters and had my ass handed to me. So, upgrade to the hammer fists, and then I could hold my own. And once I got the whip fist power and could hijack helicopters mid-air …

The (main) missions started out a bit run of the mill for me – I was ok with that because the game was so fun, but I thought they would be like that for the rest of the game. Nope. Right when you’re getting used to things, the hook comes and you get stripped of powers, forcing you to plan different attacks and new strategies. The missions get varied, the boss fights are cool, and the learning curve is just about spot on.

If you just stick to the main missions, you can probably run through the game in about 10 hours – but as I’ve been saying, there’s a ton of other stuff to do. Race events, challenges to get a certain amount of kills with certain weapons, and these really cool gliding events, where you jump from a rooftop, glide towards the target and try to land in a bulls eye. There are the landmark orbs I mentioned – 200 of them hidden throughout the city, plus an extra 50 hint orbs. And if that’s not enough, the in-game military is constantly setting up new bases to fight the infection – and each new set up is a new chance to infiltrate the base and consume key personnel in order to upgrade your abilities. Plus, once you finish the game, you can play through again using all the powers you’ve built up your first time through.

The game is nothing but extremely fun, and has more than enough to keep you coming back – if you haven’t played it yet, get to your local retailer and plunk your money down – you won’t be disappointed.

- Goodchild

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Wednesday, June 24, 2009

Thoughts on E3 (Part V)

Looking at Sony’s offerings at E3, I wasn’t all too enthused with everything – but the two games I drooled over the most were over in their camp.

Starting with the obvious, God of War 3 will simply be the coolest action game ever. The series may not be as hardcore as the Ninja Gaiden series, but in terms of sheer visceral fun, it simply can NOT be beat. I don’t even know where to begin in talking about this game – at the end of the second game, Kratos and the Titans were climbing Olympus to fight the Gods. Well, it’s war, and it’s war on the appropriate epic scale. Don’t believe me?

Watch this, but then remember to wipe the drool off the ground before you slip on it and hurt yourself.


But even that wasn’t as titillating as The Last Guardian. Team Ico, the developers behind Ico and the other-worldly Shadow of the Colossus (one of my absolute favorite games ever), showed off the trailer for their new game – and it looks just as epic and soaring as I hoped it would. Even more than GoW3, this looks to me like it will be the number 1 reason to own a Playstation 3 when it releases.


- Goodchild

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Upper Playground and Juxtapoz Magazine's Free Trip to Brazil Contest


Ok, so I wrote about Upper Playground and Juxtapoz before so I have been keeping up with them and I found out some awesome news. They put together this awesome contest where you can win a trip to Brazil! It doesn't hurt to try and win, I know I will enter the contest fo sho. Here are the details:

Issue 102 of Juxtapoz Magazine, the Brazil Issue, reviews the contemporary art scene in Brazil. To celebrate its 10th Anniversary, and to coincide with Juxtapoz’s Brazil Issue, Upper Playground is giving away a paid trip to São Paulo, Brazil. The trip includes:

• Round trip plane tickets for two to São Paulo, Brazil;
• 4 nights at a hotel in São Paulo, Brazil;
• Day tour of São Paulo with local artists William and Herbert Baglione;
• Private tour of the Choque Cultural (Culture Shock) Gallery with the curators;
• $500 Upper Playground Online Store Gift Certificate;
• There is only one Grand Prize and one winner who can choose a travel guest.

The São Paulo Super Summer trip will be scheduled for early August. To enter, fill out the registration form online. The winner can take a friend so the more friends you tell to enter, the more chances you have to win. The contest is open for 2 weeks and a winner will be announced on Wednesday, July 8th. For details, rules and more information please visit the Upper Playground website.

+ ENTER CONTEST HERE

- Sonic

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Tuesday, June 23, 2009

Tim Burton's Alice in Wonderland coming 2010

Oh yes, it's true Tim Burton's live-action version of Lewis Carroll's classic Alice in Wonderland is coming in 2010. There are some obvious Burton faves casted like Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter and Helena Bonham Carter as the Red Queen but it is definitely an all-star cast. Check out this IMDB link for the rest of the casting and for now check out this video with some early pictures from the set along with the first look at Johnny Depp as the Mad Hatter.


- Sonic

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Video: The Perfect Gift...


Quick but funny video a friend showed me, enjoy!

- Sonic

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Monday, June 22, 2009

Thoughts on E3 (Part IV)

Rounding out my thoughts on Microsoft, I’d be remiss not to mention The Beatles: Rock Band. Awesome – play through the Beatles’ career, which is the best music, and the “instruments” it comes with are super cool representations of the real instruments they used. Combine that with the chance to harmonize, and you don’t need to say anything else.

So let’s talk Project Natal.



Microsoft pretty much blew everyone away with the demo of their new motion sensing camera peripheral (project name, Natal). They showed a 3d tech demo where a girl interacted in a 3d space in order to play a 3d variant on the old Breakout formula – hitting balls as they came to her to knock out blocks at the end of the space. Also was its ability to recognize faces and voices. At the show, it was on the floor where people could play an insanely fast racing game – Burnout Paradise – without using a controller – simply by mimicking the motions of driving, much as the girl in the trailer does in the previous hyperlink. But as cool as all that seemed, this was the coolest part of it. Lionhead – the studio that made Fable and Fable 2 (which was my pick for game of the year last year) has been messing around with the Natal technology, and if you watch their Milo video, you’ll see that the possibilities for the technology are vastly interesting and ridiculously appealing – and knowing that Epic Games and Bungie have already been looking at it makes my dreams all nice and fuzzy (in a good way). It might be a long time off, but I am seriously counting down the time until this platform launches and I can play around with it in my home.

- Goodchild

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H2O at Knitting Factory 06.21

Maximus Morse showing off his guns

H2O did a benefit show to raise money for Toby's (Singer for H2O) son Max's charter school. This was also H2O's last show for 2009 so I figured I'd get my ass down to the show. The Knitting Factory was supposed to move to the old Luna Lounge in Williamsburg but yep, it's still in NYC. Anyway, the show was sold out and although Ticketweb made it seem like there were tickets available at the door, there were not.... and Goodchild will tell you there were a bunch of fans who came and couldn't get in.

Lou giving Toby some help

It was a nice father's day show hardcore style with the kids of the band members checking out their dad's from the stage. There were a ton of cameo's as any good hardcore show would be incomplete without. The above pic is Lou Koller from Sick of it All doing his part from "What Happened?".

Rusty, Adam and Toby of H2O

H2O was fun and energetic as always, pumping out their classics and a bunch of tunes from their latest album. With no barricades and plenty of stage diving, it was like 1995 all over again going to see all those hardcore shows when I was a wee little lad.

Mitts filling in for Todd

The usual guitarist for H2O Todd, Toby's brother was not around for some reason and Mitts from Madball filled in and did a great job.. he even did some singing and pulled of some great harmonies.

Chad and Freddy

After H2O, Hazen Street played which was awesome because I thought I had missed their set. Chad Gilbert from New Found Glory and Freddy Cricien of Madball is shown above during the Hazen Street set. Apparently they are recording another record soon which is good news and Mitts will be replacing David Kennedy on guitar.

H2O

- Sonic

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Friday, June 19, 2009

Thoughts on E3 (Part III)



Moving on, Ubisoft, WHAT THE HELL?!?! When I saw what SPLINTER CELL: CONVICTION looks like, I had to get a crank to pick my jaw off the floor. Now, I’ve always been a fan of the Splinter Cell games (Chaos Theory FTW!!!!). I love the stealthy nature of the game engine – the way they use natural and dynamic lighting to help and hinder you makes each level a giant puzzle, and the games are always fun as hell. And, let’s be straight here – I’m talking about the single player campaigns in the games, and not even the multiplayer. The co-op levels are always awesome, and the spies vs. mercenaries multiplayer is so radically different than other games it’s amazing. But the one thing I’ve heard other people complain about is the pace – too slow. Personally, I like the methodical slow pace – it gives you time to strategize and is a welcome break from the frantic shooters I play a lot of. But now – Sam is moving a lot faster, deftly climbing across ledges, rushing silently through the shadows, and brutally attacking his enemies head on.

While all this looks incredible, there’s one part of the trailer above that I’m really interested in – the way the story unfolds, almost in real time around you as you play. Mission objectives display themselves largely against objects in the game – kind of like the way the title of each episode appears in HEROES. Flashbacks and whispers are seen and heard against the walls as Sam moves through the levels – this new way of telling the story of the game shows that developers are really trying to break away from the “cinema, gameplay, cinema, gameplay” structure games have been stuck in for far too long. Games, while similar to movies, are NOT movies and thusly need to find their own voice as an artistic medium. Ubisoft has tried something like this before – in the previous generation of hardware, they put out a pretty cool trilogy for the Prince of Persia series. While you (as the prince) ran around the levels, the female lead in the game would talk to you, and this was how most of the story and character development was learned – not through cinema. It was a cool experience, and this looks to take that to even greater heights.

- Goodchild

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Wednesday, June 17, 2009

How a Judge in Ohio Got Something Right, While Being an Idiot

taken from Cleveland.com

If you’ve been coming to Highlark for a while, you might remember a post I made about a few stories in the news about teens that were convicted of murder, where gaming and games were mentioned. To recap, one of the stories was about a teen in Ohio. When Halo 3 released in September of 2007, the teen played obsessively – around 18 hours a day (which is just ridiculous). Recognizing this obsession, his parents took the game away from him and forbid him to own or play the game. Well, one day he went to his father’s lock box, took out the 9mm handgun, went to his parents room and told them to close their eyes – he had a surprise for them. He shot them both, killing his mother and severely wounding his father, and then he took back his copy of the game and ran from the home.

Well, I’ve been waiting to find out what the sentencing would be like in this case, and now it’s in. So, life in prison – GOOD. Eligible for parole in 23 years – not so good, but he was a minor, so this is still a fairly harsh sentence.

What I don’t get are the judge’s comments. “The other dangerous thing about these games, in my opinion, is that when these changes occur, they occur in an environment that is delusional. Because you can shoot these aliens, and they're there again the next day. You have to shoot them again. And I firmly believe that Daniel Petric had no idea, at the time he hatched this plot, that if he killed his parents, they would be dead forever.”

Really? To play a video game, there are many steps that you have to go through in order to begin, so let’s just break this down. First (provided it is a home console such as the Xbox 360 – the one that you’d use to play the game in question – and not a portable, handheld system), you have to go to a designated area – usually a living room, den, bedroom or wherever the home entertainment center is. You have to put the television on, and you have to put the video game system on. After making sure the correct game is in the disc tray, you have to pick up a controller, which you will use to control everything. You select the correct icon on the system menu that starts the game, and then you have to wait for the game to load. As the game loads, you see the logos for the various companies that made the game possible – Bungie for developing the game, Microsoft for publishing it. Then there is main menu. From here, you can choose what kind of game to play. You can start a game from the beginning, or load a save and start from where you left off the last time you played. The game will them load again and bring you to your choice. You’ll watch cinemas starring science fiction characters that have no place in reality, on planets that don’t actually exist – situations made possible by technology that isn’t real inside of storylines concocted by a paid writer. All the while, you have to stay in the one designated area for the game – if you look away from the television, the illusion is over.

So, if someone were to somehow blur the line between a game and reality – if they somehow forgot all of these steps and thought that the real world around them was in fact a fake one they can boot up in their living room – then they would have to be truly delusional, horribly out of touch with reality, and possibly mentally deranged. Normal people cannot understand the delusional or deranged – that’s what separates the two groups. So if this judge does a better job than the defendant could do explaining how real video games are, and how they can cause delusions leading people to believe their loved ones are scripted characters that can be killed and then rebooted into existence, then doesn’t that mean he’s also delusional and, quite possibly deranged? Is it just me, or does it seem that with an ignorant and dangerous statement like that, shouldn’t this idiot be removed from the bench he sits behind and sent off to a padded cell somewhere??

Anyone else agree with me?

- Goodchild

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Thoughts on E3 (Part II)


Sticking with the Microsoft announcements, how about we take a few moments to discuss some other big guns they showed at their E3 conference?

First, ALAN WAKE. I’ve been hearing about this game for quite some time, but all I really knew was that it was a huge budgeted title falling somewhere in the survival/horror genre. Now that the trailers are out, I’m stoked. It looks like someone was playing the Silent Hill games and said: “Hey, this game is atmospheric and creepy as hell. You know what movie was like that? In The Mouth of Madness. Maybe we should make a game that is like a cross between the two.” You play as Alan (a writer) himself, and you and your special gal take a trip to a sleepy town … when suddenly she disappears, and a terrifying “darkness” envelopes everyone and everything in the town. Weird, though – it’s straight out of your next novel. To find your love, you have to drive the darkness out of the town, and find the pieces of your manuscript to catch up with the forces at play. Or, are there forces at play? The whole thing could be Alan going insane – these fears will play into the game.

Great graphics, interesting gameplay, and an odd (but intriguing) story to boot – sign me up.


- Goodchild

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Tuesday, June 16, 2009

Thoughts on E3 (Part I)


Now that E3 is over and my wasn’t-able-to-get-there ass has had ample time to go over all the news about it I could find, I wanted to share some of my favorite things from the show.

First off, I’ll just get the Bungie announcements out of the way. Everyone knows I’m a huge HALO freak, so I was stoked on hearing all the new info about Bungie’s upcoming game, Halo 3: ODST (click on that link to go to the project page). The gameplay they showed was awesome, seeming to perfectly blend new elements into the traditional HALO gameplay – since you don’t play a “super soldier” in this game, you don’t have regenerating shields, the big enemies are now much larger than you, and there is a greater emphasis on “stealth” over running and gunning. The best looking part of the game, however, was the new co-op mode – Firefight. Think of it like Horde mode for Gears of War 2, but longer and more extensive. Players jump into levels where they face off cooperatively against wave after increasingly difficult wave of enemies. This just sounds awesome, especially since it will be over Xbox Live, and with split screen (so my brother and I can play together on my set up!).

What really came as a surprise – and I mean REALLY – was Bungie’s announcement of a whole separate game, due out next year! It’s called Halo: Reach, and unlike ODST, it has you playing as Spartans (the super soldiers akin to the main character in the HALO trilogy). Not much is known about the gameplay for this game, except that a code that will allow access into the beta testing for its multiplayer will be included on the disc for ODST. As for the story of the game, it is based on the novel The Fall of Reach, by Eric Nylund. It is a pretty darn cool book, and it tells the story that leads directly up to the events of the first HALO game. Here’s a link to the project page where you can watch the announce trailer!

It’s a good time to be a HALO fan …

- Goodchild

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Monday, June 15, 2009

Cedar Point!

Hey guys, I'm at Cedar Point in Sandusky Ohio enjoying some serious roller coasters. I don't have a computer or internet here so I'm writing this to everyone via my phone.
I will be back home tonight so please come back tomorrow we will have a few posts from Goodchild and myself!

www.cedarpoint.com

- Sonic

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Friday, June 12, 2009

Maybe the Best News Ever


Recently, there’s been a ton of good news for geeks like me (or, more accurately, for me). Without getting into everything at once, I’ll just say that E3 happened, Apple had their big conference, the Dodgers are still the best team in baseball, and HBO have finally green-lit a pilot episode to be made for the first book of the Song of Ice & Fire series (which I LOVE).

But all of this means nothing.

Why?

This is why.

Futurama, perhaps the best cartoon ever (if not, it’s certainly better than the Simpsons. Yes, I said it), has been renewed by Comedy Central for a whopping 26 new episodes!! I don’t know that any news I’ve heard over the last few years (short of the Futurama movies being made) has been this good.

Rejoice, mortals! Morbo will return soon!

- Goodchild

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Wednesday, June 10, 2009

Video Pick: So So Glos - Black & Blue


So So Glos opened for Titus Andronicus on Saturday at the Music Hall of Williamsburg and they were great. They bring a Clash kind of punk rock that is very genuine and fun. Check them out!

- Sonic

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Tuesday, June 9, 2009

Tara McPherson - Artist

Unicorn Girl © Tara McPherson

[BIO] Tara McPherson is an artist based out of New York City. Creating art about people and their odd ways, her characters seem to exude an idealized innocence with a glimpse of hard earned wisdom in their eyes. Recalling many issues from childhood and good old life experience, she creates images that are thought provoking and seductive. People and their relationships are a central theme throughout her work. (taken from www.taramcpherson.com)

Adventures of Ace and Ion © Tara McPherson

I just wish I had money and space for all the great art out there. I would need a wall full of toys made by Tara McPherson along with some paintings and prints. I think I am going to order some stickers though to decorate one of my guitars. More artist should have sticker for sale damnit! Follow the link below to read her interview at Format Mag, and check out more of her work.

Playing With Fire - The Lover © Tara McPherson

+ Tara McPherson Interview [Format Magazine]

- Sonic

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Monday, June 8, 2009

Titus Andronicus @ Music Hall of Williamsburg - 06.06.09

photo by Sonic

I finally got a chance to see Titus Andronicus live over the weekend at the Music Hall of Williamsburg in Brooklyn. The show wasn't sold out but it was a good turn out especially since they have played the NYC area several times already this year and they were headlining this time around.

They busted out new material during the middle of their set which was a 15 minute long non-stop medley of songs or quite possibly one long ass song. No one really knew which of the two it was, but I think it may have been the latter taking into account what singer Patrick Stickles said. Apparently their label (XL Recordings) is not too crazy about the idea for their next record.

The show was high energy and super loud and the front half of the crowd was going nuts all throughout the set. Some might say they are terrible live, and that they are just loud noise and unintelligible vocals. But there will also be people that will say they are great. My experience was both of those things, and although I feel they can polish their performance a little they still kicked ass. I hope they figure out their situation for their next record because from what they played it is going to be rockin' whether it is a 15 minute tune or not.

photo by Sonic

- Sonic

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Friday, June 5, 2009

Movie Release: Downloading Nancy


There is a lot of mixed reactions about this film which was featured in Sundance last year. The plot is supposedly based on a true story but either way it definitely sounds intriguing. Check out the review of Downloading Nancy on Cinematical below for the details behind the controversy behind this film.

SYNOPSIS: Sick of her life, housewife Nancy (Maria Bello) just wants it to be over and done with, but rather than kill herself, she hires a stranger from the Internet to do the job for her. But fate takes a strange turn when she meets her killer (Patric) and the two fall in love. Of course, Nancy realizes that love and murder do not naturally go hand in hand.

+ Sundance Review: Downloading Nancy [Cinematical]

RECOMMENDED RELEASES:
- Todd Phillip's new film The Hangover
- French import Seraphine
- Away We Go directed by Sam Mendes

- Sonic

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Wednesday, June 3, 2009

Video Pick: Total Eclipse of the Heart - Literal Version


I put up the literal version of the Red Hot Chili Peppers' "Under The Bridge" video a while back, and I haven't seen too many good ones of the literal video lying around since then but this one is pretty funny. Shoot us a message if you come across any good ones.

- Sonic

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Tuesday, June 2, 2009

Audrey Kawasaki - Artist

Watching You © Audrey Kawasaki

I actually have a lot in common with Audrey Kawasaki. We are the same age, we are both 2nd generation, we both went to Japanese school every Saturday when we were younger, we both grew up reading Manga and we both did not finish college. Audrey though is an amazing artists, and her innocent yet erotic paintings are one of a kind and a great treat for your eyes.

Overlap © Audrey Kawasaki

Her canvas of choice is wood panels as most of her paintings are drawn on them, often cut and treated to her liking. As always there are a ton more great stuff at her website so go check that out.

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Monday, June 1, 2009

Featured Band: Cage The Elephant

photo and copyright by Danny Clinch

I played a gig with this band at last year's CMJ showcase but I was busy getting ready for the show and I didn't really get to check them out. I was looking at the line-up for this year's All Points West Festival and I came across their name as was like "Oh, yeah I've heard of these guys." And here we are.

I've been up all night working on some ish so I'm gonna make this short and get my ass to bed, but they are really fun and supposed to be a great live. You can go to their myspace page to listen to some tracks. I highly recommend "Ain't No Rest For The Wicked" it's a great song. Good morning to everyone, and goodnight to me!

+ Cage The Elephant on Myspace

- Sonic

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Game of the Week: Virtua Tennis 2009 - Just in Time for the Culmination of Clay Court Season



If you’re anything like me, you’re passionate about tennis.

If you’re not that much like me, but you are a gamer, then there’s a good chance you love a good tennis video game, even if you have no interest in the real sport. And if your tennis affiliation lies in the virtual world, then you should hit your local game retailer this week – Virtua Tennis 2009 releases June 2nd!

Now, don’t you worry – I’m not going to start talking about the French Open that is going on at Roland Garros right now. I won’t mention that Andy Roddick isn’t fooling anyone by getting in to the 3rd round, or that it doesn’t matter as Rafa Nadal is unbeatable in France (and don’t talk to me about Federer beating him in the last tourney, Nadal owns him and you know it). I won’t talk about the women’s game, or about how I want Serena Williams to show the rest of the ladies in the world who is boss.

Instead, let’s talk about gameplay and how Virtua Tennis always delivers great gameplay like a slicing second serve by Nadal himself – easy to get a bead on, but with so much English on it that it takes a long time to master. The controls in the Virtua Tennis games are simple enough to pick up and play by just about anyone almost immediately. You can pop the disc into the tray of your console of choice (the game releases across all major platforms), and can start playing and having fun within minutes. At the same time, though, there are nuances and skills to be learned, and mastery of the game is a rewarding experience. And skills will be learned – there are 12 mini games to play, in the ridiculous style of past iterations of the franchise. All the fun (and they are FUN) to be had with them will build you skill for the career mode, where online rankings can have you compete with players around the world.

I love this franchise for its fun, arcade take on a great sport – anyone planning on getting it to challenge me on Xbox Live?

- Goodchild

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Movie Releases: May 29th


A lot was made about Wall-E when it came out. Many people thought that an animated family movie that starred a non-speaking robot and that had minimal amounts of dialogue would be lost on the children that were its target demographic. As we all know, this was obviously not the case – the movie was a huge success, and as such can be construed as a step forward for the art of Pixar Studios.

A quick look at a list of Pixar’s major motion pictures reads as a list of 9 titles – and only one of those films had human protagonists (The Incredibles – though the characters in the lead role were superhuman). So, when we look at Up!, the 10th major release by Pixar, we can’t righteously call it a “return to form” when we see it’s a film about a human. In fact, it’s quite abnormal – and if we factor in that the story revolves around a man in his 70’s (who does NOT have any super powers), we see that Pixar is pushing their own envelope again, trying to do something new instead of playing it safe and rehashing old ideas.

Earlier in the year, the film’s director and producer screened the first half of the movie for a select few (no, I was not there, but I read about it) and it seems that once again Pixar is looking to take a more artistic route, and have sections of the movie without dialogue. They’re quickly becoming a family friendly studio akin to the Cohen Brothers (Blood Simple, No Country For Old Men, etc.) in that respect.

Up! seems to have a great story, as well. An old man decides to floa t his house to South America in order to fulfill the travel dream he had with his late wife. A nice and touching story, with room for fantastic adventure and great comedy. I am a huge fan of Pixar, and though I might have to see Drag Me To Hell first, I’ll be seeing Up! as soon as I can.

- Goodchild

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