Friday, October 06, 2006

Bloggin' On The Weeklies And Other Assorted Love Songs

Oh, Hub, this is a travesty, isn't it? Truly a case of the baby getting thrown out with the Kitchen Sync water. And all this talk of a "hiatus," well, according to insiders, I wouldn't put much stock into it. The offices that the Hub called home already have the paper's name scraped off the doors. I'll pour out a bottle of wine from Jim Gould's wine cellar on your grave. On second thought, you lived young and fast... better make it a bottle of Night Train!

The BUzz has morphed into Nicodemus Central, which is much to the chagrin of Talk about airing dirty laundry...this is just funny. And, yes Mike, you and Kayla are better than Everclear. Let's hear some Guns & Roses!

Coulter cracks my funny bone yet again, but be damned that he's a Cardinal fan. I wore a San Diego Padres hat around town just to be contrary. It's my nature! Where the hell is Don Gerard when I need him!?!! There is no Acoustic Blog to make me feel better about my Cub fandom. Well, at least Koplinski knows where the action's at, right Chuck? Thanks again for your contributions... now, if I could just get Doug Hoepker to write some record reviews for me... whaddaya say, buddy? I got a copy of Sam's Town that needs a figurative trashing! Or a copy of Okonokos that you can lavish with praise! You know you're crazy!!!!! Oooooh chillllld.... whoops, a little too much G n' R on the playlist.

Little Blog On The Prairie is on Wordpress now, and has got all the dope info on various business happenings, such as all that M2 craziness. 69th Issue has been quiet lately....

Well, it's almost time for happy hour, so I'll leave you with this, a public service announcement from The Poster Children.

Happy tailgating or tail-getting, if you're lucky!

Everclear, Five For Fighting & Gary Jules - AOR MANIA!

Time-warp with me, if you will, to the mid-90's, and experience the mediocre talent of...

EVERCLEAR!!!! LIVE!!! With two opening bands that aren't worth a mention!

They're playing tonight at The Canopy at 7pm for the low low price of $18!!!

Or, just watch this clip...

Or... perhaps you could save $13 of those dollars and go see The Living Blue tonight at 10pm (or so) at the Cowboy Monkey... *ding*... yes that's the correct answer!

Monty, tell her what she's won! A CLIP OF TELL ME LEEZA BY THE LIVING BLUE!!!

Whew, that was good! But what about Saturday?

Well, soccer moms, put on your best Old Navy dress up gear, 'cause Five For Fighting are coming to The Canopy Club! And they're bringing Gary Jules, whose most well known track was written by Tears For Fears! YESSSS! It's an early show, too, so make sure you have the baby sitter there by 6pm. Have a nice dinner at Applebees, a couple of light beers at the show, and kick up your heels with these power balladeers!

I'm not gonna bother with a Jules clip. Why, you ask?

Because a truly awesome show will be happening literally down the street from that pile of crap mentioned above. I'm talking about Viva Voce, Headlights, Silversun Pickups, The Kingdom, and Shipwreck at the U of I's Courtyard Cafe. I believe this makes for Shipwreck's 67th appearance at the Courtyard this semester alone! But no matter, because it's only $7 for this show, which is also an early start, by indie rock standards, at 8pm. Subtract $2 from the price if you're at UIUC student... then go give that $2 to Margaret...unless you can out-run her.

Here's a live clip of Headlights from Pygmalion Fest... delish! "Signs Point To Yes..."

And, because I can, another live clip of Headlights. "Put Us Back Together Right"

And Champaign Of Blogs predicts a U of I homecoming victory... 21 to 14 over those evil mouth-breathing Hoosiers of Indiana University! 'Cause you know, hoosier rhymes with loooooserrrr!

Wednesday, October 04, 2006

Chuck Koplinski Reviews "The Departed"

The following review is written by Chuck Koplinski for the latest film from director Martin Scorsese, "The Departed."

The Departed - 4 Stars
Rated R - Running Time - 2:29
by Chuck Koplinski

One of the premiere cinematic craftsmen of the last quarter century, director Martin Scorsese’s films are never less than visually compelling. His last two big screen efforts, Gangs of New York and The Aviator benefited from the filmmaker’s trademark attention to detail as well as his ability to elicit complex performances from his cast while telling a compelling story across a vast canvas. Yet, as much as I admired these two films, they lacked the sense of immediacy and vitality that makes Scorsese’s best work (Mean Streets, Taxi Driver, Goodfellas) burst from the screen and stand head-and-shoulders above his fellow director’s work. Thankfully, this quality is evident from the first frame forward in his latest effort The Departed, a blistering examination of corruption in which each of the film’s main characters fall victim to their own, inescapable moral failings. This is familiar territory for Scorsese as he examines the themes of loyalty, betrayal, guilt and personal honor with a degree of intensity that harkens back to his best work.

Based on the Chinese hit Infernal Affairs, Scorsese’s film takes place in Boston and follows the wake of Frank Costello (Jack Nicholson), an organized crime boss with a small crew but a large reputation for ruthless dealings. Brazen and willing to do anything to get ahead, he strong-arms his way to the top of the crime world and becomes the number one target of Oliver Queenan (Martin Sheen), head of a special investigative unit in the Massachusetts State Police Department, and Agent Ellerby (Alec Baldwin) who leads a federal task force on organized crime. Their best efforts to apprehend Costello have gone for naught, primarily because they’re unaware that one of the mobster’s most trusted men, Colin Sullivan (Matt Damon), has infiltrated the department and is feeding him information from the inside. However, what Costello doesn’t realize is that his newest lieutenant, Billy Costigan (Leonardo DoCaprio) is part of Queenan’s team, working deep undercover.

While the premise may seem a bit hard to swallow, Scorsese presents it in his trademark rapid-fire manner that makes for engrossing storytelling. Within the movie’s first twenty minutes we see Sullivan recruited at an early age by Costello, taken in by his charm and false promises of loyalty, only to be shipped off to the police academy to do his mentor’s bidding from the inside. Scorsese parallels this line of action with Costigan’s story in which he’s convinced to sully his reputation for a greater good, as he tries to separate himself from his less-than-honorable relatives. The film quickly builds up a head of steam and before you know it, we’re swept into this world of corruption in which no one can be trusted and the actions of the main characters often run counter to their true purpose.

With the cast assembled here it comes as no surprise that this is an acting showcase. The Departed features the finest screen acting on display this year to date. DiCaprio and Damon are both required to shift gears throughout as their characters navigate the treacherous waters of two worlds. They’re each exceptional in showing the conflicted natures of these two men. Baldwin is also very good in a scene-stealing role that Oscars are made for (his lewd description of the benefits of marriage may net him that award), as is Mark Wahlberg as Dignam, the only straight officer on the force, while Vera Farmiga as the woman caught between Costigan and Sullivan shines as well. But, of course, these fine performers are all toiling in Nicholson’s shadow and he casts a large one here as he often does. His Costello is a larger than life character, the sort the actor was born to play. A man of enormous appetites and no conscience, he dominates the world he lives in, instilling fear in all he meets with his sheer presence. Nicholson has always been a master at bringing a sense of danger to the parts he plays and that ability is put to good use here. Costello and Nicholson dominate the film turning it into a fascinating expose of aberrant behavior that’s fascinating and frightening.

Nihilistic, brutally violent and effectively employing plenty of gallows humor, The Departed is a masterwork that speaks of how we allow ourselves to be compromised and controlled by our basest impulses, which inevitably leads to a tragic end. While the subject matter may turn some viewers off, those looking for vintage Scorsese will be pleased with what’s on display here. It’s good to have the veteran director back on the cinematic mean streets where he cut his teeth and proves that no one looks into the glass darkly with such an unflinching gaze.

Sunday, October 01, 2006

Pearl Jam - Live In Champaign 4/23/03 On iTunes

Once in a while, a band as huge and talented as Pearl Jam graces the stage of U of I's Assembly Hall. For anyone who went, it's one of those nights that you won't soon forget. Case in point, here I am gushing about it over 3 years later. The gang at have a bevy of show reviews and info on Pearl Jam (including the poster and setlists you see above), and here's their take on this gig.

Ed says a quick, "All right ... let's go!" and PJ opens with a slamming 'Do The Evolution' in this smallish venue shaped like a UFO. The sold out Illinois crowd is more than receptive to Pearl Jam, especially with this ferocious opener great Stone solos throughout. The fast pace continues through a welcome 'Deep' with killer Mike solos and Ed's intense lyrical delivery. While changing instruments, Ed greets Champaign and says he feels like a lion in a cage and asks if there are any Christians who want to be eaten tonight. He dedicates 'Elderly Woman' to towns like Gurnee, Rockford and Kankakee. Someone yells out "Cuba!" which amuses him. Big response from the audience, who promptly lights up the place with their lighters and the crowd sings the "hearts and thoughts" section. During 'Even Flow,' a fan tosses a camera to Ed, who takes a photo of Mike soloing and then tosses the camera back. 'Jeremy' is well-received and worth the price of admission simply to watch Stone pogo while yelling out the whole "ooh, ooh, ooh" section with a huge grin on his face in unison with the crowd. This show is having the feel of stepping back in time about 10 years. 'Habit' is dedicated to those high on crystal meth and there is no "speaking as ..." tag. As usual, Ed plays around with the lyrics to 'Untitled' ("Lets get to Chicago, get drunk and talk politics ..."; Assembly Hall is on campus and no alcohol is served) leading to a high energy 'MFC' with Mike running all around the stage. 'Blood' gets an insane response; this is the first time it's been played in the midwest since Soldier Field. Band is animated, Ed is thrusting the mic stand like the old days and the stage is bathed in red lights. 'Porch' follows as the perfect closer after 'Blood.' While it isn't the 12-minute Atlanta 94 version, it has great solos from Mike and Stone, plus Ed leading the crowd in a call/response of noises and phrases during the bridge. Ed goes to Stone's side and he picks up a cable, swinging it as if he would catch it over the rafters and climb (quite amusing). When the band hits the stage again, Ed says, "We don't have class tomorrow ... do you?" The crowd yells, "no!" and Ed says, "Class my ass is what you're saying" and an enthusiastic "Stone" chant gets going. Matt starts the drum beat that would become The Police's 'Driven To Tears,' which has even the die-hard fans in total shock. After 'Crazy Mary,' "OK class ... a bit of history," introduces a searing ' Know Your Rights,' with Ed jumping all over his monitor wedges making hand gestures. The audience is in a state of bewilderment, and it exploded as the band went into 'Fortunate Son,' giving the song an amazing response. A very strange, high energy encore! Ed returns, standing motionless, then looking around shrugging as if "where's the band?" Fans are screaming out songs. Ed responds, "We're proponents of open honest debate ... the ballots are closed ... I am your leader!" He starts talking about 'Soon Forget' and how it was "stolen off a song off Who By Numbers. Some one interrupts yelling "Yellow Ledbetter" and Ed responds, "Hold your horses, shut the fuck up; cause you see we were gonna and now we won't and that's just how we are ... you're not helping matters at all." (And it WAS on the setlist and it WASN'T played ... lesson learned: don't interrupt.) He continues that Pete Townshend is his hero and loves Chicago and plays, 'Blue, Red, Grey' ... another huge surprise. The crowd sings the second verse of 'Black' when Ed points the mic to the crowd. Ed backs up and ends up leaning against Stone. Alive' has the crowd singing note for note, pogoing and chanting the "yeah" section. By the end of the song, the crowd is ready to blow the roof off of the place, and that's exactly what happens when the house lights come up, the band starts 'Baba,' and the whole place just goes completely, clinically insane, the band included. Mike, Jeff and Stone are pogoing and running around like wild animals, doing strange dances, Boom grinning his ass off, flailing his hair around and Matt attacks his drums. Ed goes through at least five tambourines. Pearl Jam at it's best.

This was a very good show, and yet it wasn't released except for about a month after the gig on the band's website. I didn't have the cash at the time to get it, but last night when I was doing a little research on iTunes, I came across the show when I typed in "Champaign" into the search engine. Lo and behold, there it was; 29 songs for only $9.99. It would have been 30 songs if one idiot at the show would've quit hassling Eddie to play "Yellowledbetter" while he was trying to speak before his acoustic set.

Now, you're probably thinking, "Hey idiot, you could have just looked for it under the artist section and saw it with the other 90 Pearl Jam albums for sale." I've looked there several times, and, even now, it's still not listed. In fact, the name of the band usually links back to their artist page when you're looking at a specific album, and in this case, it doesn't. It's almost like the band has hidden this album. It may simply be a case of Apple screwing up the links, but who knows. The show isn't even sequentially named like all the rest of the shows from that tour are. It's just simply "Live In Champaign, Illinois - April, 23 2003."

So, just click on this link and hit "I Have iTunes" (if you have iTunes) and it should open right up.

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