Friday, January 30, 2009

Blagojevich....Burnt Toast

First off, the irony of this photo is wonderful (pay close attention to the street name).

Blagojevich, your plane is boarding: Yesterday, the state senate voted 59-0 to remove this clown from office. Patrick Quinn, his former running mate and lieutenant governor, was named his replacement. All I can say is it's about time and I look forward to Illinois politics no longer being the laughingstock of the world.


Friday Video Premiere

*Every* Friday, we're highlighting a specific video (or two, or three) for your end of week enjoyment.

Note: this is also posted at Sportscentric.

Puma has a history of audacious projects that, for one reason or another, always end up falling short of expectations. Remember those ridiculous one-piece soccer kits they proposed? (Look right.)

Their most recent collaboration with fashion icon Alexander McQueen is another project that seems destined to fall woefully short of their goals.

Dig the "movie"--to call such a project an "ad" would be positively beneath them, ha--above.

Directed by the sooo-hot-right-now Saam Farhamand, this, erm, collection of moving pictures is supposed to impress us with Puma's artistic vision? Their sophisticated attempts at unifying athletic wear with cosmopolitan notions of style and dance?

I can't speak for others, but the lasting sentiment I get from the piece is not inspiration;
it's more in the realm of the weird and off-putting. The music is cool, I'll give them that. I would love to partake in an epic, rainy duel with that music in the background. But that's about all this has going for it.

Two words keep coming to mind when I watch this: impersonal and farfetched. Like the "Until Then" ads (below), this piece is impossible to relate to and therefore unattached to my own experience. I am not impressed with the choppy images we get of what might well be impressive human movements.

This does not make we want to buy Puma gear.

We know that Puma is not Nike, or Adidas. They should be saluted for thinking outside the box in their attempts to gain entry into the sportswear circle of gods. And maybe the concept of McQueen's "ManCat" as a "creative reference" (whatever that means) will bring a cadre of fashionistas to Puma. But this piece is, literally, too narrow to grab and incorporate potential customers--it does more to turn them away.

Friday, January 23, 2009

Friday Video Premiere

*Every* Friday, we're highlighting a specific video (or two, or three) for your end of week enjoyment.

This week, we've got another installment of "instances where the remix is better than the original song".

This week's song is Friendly Fires' "Paris"

"Paris" is a great song--full of stacatto, hazy guitars, dance rock time signatures, and delayed guitar laser beams. The band's usage of two drummers who employ bare minimum drum kits is also interesting.

But, Aeroplane's spacey, italo-disco remix of "Paris" is just better. This was difficult--because the original song is really beautiful...especially the ending, when it turns into a better version of U2's "City of Blinding Lights" (clearly showing that modern rockers still pay deserved deference to U2).

The fat, retro, analog (sounding) synths are so blissful and etheral, and adding incredibly timely handclaps as well the girls of Au Revoir Simone to the mix just make for a beautiful remix. This version is sensual and breathless, and it features not one but TWO memorable synth lines.

I also like how the promise of "I'll find you/that French boy/You'll find me/that French girl" is utilized in both versions (and not switched, as is common knowledge in covers done by bands with singers the opposite sex of the original band). In the original version, these lyrics are fitting--the vocalist seems to be promising someone to start a relationship with the
"partner" moving with him to Paris (you've got to think that the relationship between the narrator and the song's intended recipient is sounds platonic, but as if one party wants it to be more than that). But, in the Aeroplane remix, it's almost as if the song's protagonists will be re-born as the "French boy" and "French girl" of the other party's dreams.

Both songs are really stirring, and while the Aeroplane remix gets a bit dodgy for a bit during the bridge, I must admit that, once again, this is a song that has a remix better than the original song itself.

Thursday, January 22, 2009

odds and ends

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

Unfortunately, a heinous act has once again hit Virginia Tech. An accounting grad student was decapitated at an Au Bon Pain restaurant by a man she knew. This act is incredibly sick and despicable, and our condolences go out to her family.

So many questions...but the biggest one is "How exactly did someone get decapitated in a restaurant?" No one saw a struggle at all? I don't know how courageous I am, and if I saw someone brandishing a gun, I'd quickly run away (when I saw one man start beating another while standing in line to watch Notorious last week, I quickly ushered my girlfriend away from the scene because I was scared that people would be carrying heat), but if I saw someone trying to cut off the head of another person with a knife, you can bet I'd jump into the fray.

I'm really ashamed of CNN's reporting, too. That last line? "Authorities say on April 16, 2007, Seung-Hui Cho killed 32 students and professors before killing himself." ...because, uh, only authorities knew about that?


As called for by the JJ Collective, Manchester United and AIG will not renew their sponsorship deal beyond 2010.

I think it's a year too long, especially with President Obama calling for more transparency and cutting pork spending. I mean, is it really in the best interest of a federal government owned corporation that was saved by the bailout to continue to pay to sponsor one of the world's richest sporting clubs?


And, it seems that it didn't take long for the wrongs of former President Bush to come out of the woodwork.

Really, really scary stuff when it comes down to it. Let's hope President Obama moves us away from this KGB-esque spying on innocent civilians.

And, interestingly enough, the White House does not have Wi-Fi, and presidents are usually advised against using personal computers in the White House.

Friday, January 16, 2009

Friday Video Premiere

*Every* Friday, we're highlighting a specific video (or two, or three) for your end of week enjoyment.

This week's video involves the newly crowned Fifa world player of the year, to whom Nike made this viral ad/homage:

Cristiano Ronaldo (who should be called "Cronaldo" in order to separate him and the best Ronaldo at the time of his emergence) may have won the world's best player award last week. But he sure as balls didn't win any more fans. A quick recap:

Here's why you may love Ronaldo:

  • He's the best dribbler in the world; when a move of his comes off right, it seems to defy the physical limitations of earth. He can do ridiculous freestyle tricks, and has uncanny control:

  • He has a unique form of striking the ball from free kicks; when he kicks it right, the ball swerves in a manner that seems to defy the physical limitations of earth.
  • He cries. A lot. That shows passion, that shows commitment.
  • He has scored some important goals in big games.
  • He's good looking, and has a Portuguese accent.
But there's a reason why Nike's above video is meaningful, and I'm not talking about some cheesy cliche like "Your hate makes me unstoppable." The reason why Nike created something good here is that Cronaldo is one of the easiest players in sports to hate.

Here's why you should hate Cronaldo:
  • He dives enough to ruin the game for the average American viewer. The number one complaint of American viewers towards soccer these days is no longer "Wahhhh wahhhh, there aren't enough goals, soccer is boring." Now it's, "those guys are such wimps, why do they fake injury and fouls?" Cronaldo is the premier diver in soccer. If you hate diving, you don't like Cronaldo.
  • Worse than just diving, he's a drama queen. He stays on the ground flopping around like a fish out of water and it's really embarrassing just to watch.
  • He has a tendency to lash out at opposing players, commiting gross fouls that could cause serious injury.
  • He plays for Manchester United.

I know. It doesn't add up. And honestly, I don't HATE the man. But I don't like him. It's hard to hate anybody who can do the things he does with a soccer ball; he's literally invented a new set of moves for younguns to replicate. But his diving is terrible and hurts the game I love.

So now you know, if I'm in that Nike commercial, I'm pulling down the black screen.

Here's a good compilation:

Thursday, January 15, 2009

football odds and ends

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

...and we've got it from both sides of the Atlantic.

First up--Mayor Ravenstahl of Pittsburgh decided to get rid of the "Raven" in his last name because his hometown Steelers are playing the Ravens in the AFC Championship game this weekend.

His proposed new name? Steelerstahl. Interestingly enough, Stahl means "steel" in German.


The Guardian has also taken interest in what the new Philadelphia MLS team will call themselves. I'm glad that they also hate the name "Real Salt Lake" (because we all know there is an abundance of royal families in Utah), but in true Guardian fashion, they haven't got a real solution.

And, the same paper also reports that ESPN is expected to bid for the rights to televise the English Premier League. It is unclear if these rights would be for ESPNs British operations or if they would extend to the States and the Pacific Rim, but this would all be moot if ESPN bought out Setanta, as has been frequently bandied around as of late.

With ESPN carrying Euro 2008 this summer as well as the World Cup (in partnership with parent network ABC) as well as some European Qualification matches for the 2010 World Cup, you've got to think that the company aims to make regular football...errmm, soccer....coverage more regular. Yes, the company has the Champions League, but that competition has such an erratic and irregular schedule that it would only behoove ESPN to nail down a weekly list of games. I mean, what else is the company showing on Saturday and Sunday mornings. Bowling? Women's Trick Shot Billiards?

ESPN is losing out on a key audience by not having regular soccer programming. But, perhaps buying Setanta and keeping that station's soccer rights on Setanta makes the most economic sense. ESPN will not realize a greater profit simply by showing soccer games, so why not acquire a pay network and put it under your umbrella? That way, the expanded coverage more than pays for itself.

Cheers. Happy Thursday.

Wednesday, January 14, 2009

five in the morning.

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

The hook to this song was stuck in my mind for days...knowing no words to it other than "five in the morning..." meant it was going to be a tough task to find the song.

Enter google. Yeah. That would have worked, except I had no other lyrics. Finally, a more astute fan of trashy r&b figured out that i was missing the word "it's" before "five in the morning" and found the song in seconds. Special thanks to Jessica Nakashima for making my dream of finding this song come true and for also making me look like a Google n00b.

Anyway, I had no idea that the song I was looking for was so...raunchy? Ridiculous?

You be the judge:

This song is either horribly brilliant or incredibly terrible. It's either incredibly post-modern, satirical and sarcastic or it is speaking about the fans of the band.

I really can't tell. I mean, it's a song about phone intercourse. Is it serious? Is it not serious? It's so hard to tell if rappers are ever satirical (I mean, is this NSFW song by Riskay satirical or honest? Does it matter?).

If this song is a social statement on online hook-ups, it's astoundingly brilliant. I mean, the song admits that he "made a mess in his pants". And, it's hard to tell if the woman who supposedly comes to his house in the Range thirty minutes after saying she would come over really ever went to his abode or if he imagined the entire thing through their phone session.

And, even if it isn't satirical--well, I mean here is a group of men who are willing to state that they don't take home girls from the club. No, no--they go home from the bar and call up the "hotline".

Either way, I guess this song just floors me. It's either cryptically venomous or brutally honest and open.

(And how is this entire group called Pretty Ricky? Are they all named Ricky?)

Tuesday, January 13, 2009

Kanye West Primer for my Pops

Paranoid feat. Mr. Hudson - Kanye West

Here's the track list of a Kanye West primer I made my dad. I left out a lot of the hit singles because they're (a) overplayed and (b) not 'ye's best stuff, just his most head-bangable. I also stuck strictly to songs from his albums; I left out remixes or guest tracks he's appeared on.

Tell me what you think.


Good Morning (intro)
Hey Mama
It All Falls Down
Street Lights
Homecoming (ft. Chris Martin)
Love Lockdown
Heard 'em Say
Drive Slow
Coldest Winter
We Major
Paranoid (ft. Mr. Hudson)
Everything I Am
Family Business

Monday, January 12, 2009

school daze.

(Joshua Masayoshi Huff)

Very rarely is a remix better than the original song.

Here is an example.

MGMT "Electric Feel"

(This is not the original video, as I could not find an embeddable version of that one...but, here's a link to it)

It's actually pretty hard to top this song--it's got great synths, a funky bassline, and quasi-Bee Gee's-esque vocal stylings. The lyrics are top notch, and the song is just so damn catchy.

But, we found a remix better than the original version

Granted, almost anything Justice does turns to gold, but they made one of the best songs of 2008 even better.

Justice add their trademark, punchy synths--devoid of everything but buzzsaw low ends-- as well as their now infamous sped up vocal trick (a la vintage Kanye West--jeez, did I really just call some of Kanye West's stuff vintage?).

You can't help but love the cheesy, '70s Moog Voyager type sounds over the beat at the bridge (these remind me so much of the early '80s learning programs they teacher in first grade would always put on in class..the series she liked most was the one about scarcity...which I interpreted as "scare city"--either way, we should avoid both things, shouldn't we?)

There you have it. An example of two great songs where the remix ekes out the original as the better version.

Have you got any examples?