I just about choked on my popcorn when I saw the latest trailer for yet another Reagan-Era remake destined to manifest itself in 2010. What is this obsession with ‘80s movies? Several movies from the time of spandex and Rubik’s cubes are either already in post-production or set to film as we speak. So let’s take a quick trip and see what kind of excitement or disappointment the latest batch of remakes stands to give us next year…
The Karate Kid
The Karate Kid gets a reboot next year with none other than Jackie Chan and Jaden Smith. The biggest change is that it will be set in China instead of southern California. Will “jacket on, jacket off” be as amusing as“wax on wax off” or will the scheduled June 11, 2010 release mean a truly “Cruel Summer”?
Nightmare on Elm Street
Were you scared shitless to use the toilet for fear that a set of finger knives might slice your dearest of body parts?
Teeny boppers everywhere were beside themselves when it was announced that Zac Efron would be filling Kevin Bacon’s shoes as Ren McCormack. Then in March of this year Zac pulled out reportedly to avoid getting typecast in cheesy musicals. This could be true considering the fact that Efron’s former High School Musical director, Kenny Ortega, was slated to direct the film.
The Wolverines return to the big screen in September 2010 with an all-new cast including Tom Cruises’s son Conner in the role of Darryl Jenkins [the Wolverine who swallowed a tracking device after capture].
It pissed me off when they chose Marky Mark [Wahlberg] of all people to replace Charleton Heston in the Planet of the Apes remake, and Sean Bean was less than thrilling in Rutger Hauer’s role in The Hitcher remake. This time however, I think Hollywood has made a good choice in casting Liam Neeson to replace Lawrence Olivier as Zeus in the new Clash of the Titans. Neeson also reunites with his Schindler’s List co- star Ralph Fiennes, who plays Hades.
Although still in talks I thought it was worth mentioning that MGM keeps dropping hints at a brand new RoboCop…get this…in 3D.
We're gonna pretend it's the new year already, so I can introduce you to a new feature I'm trying out in which I just shut the hell up and give the local musicians a chance to promote themselves without all my "critiquing" and "being a total douchebag" getting in the way.
If you want your well-considered self-aggrandizing statements and status updates of reasonable length considered for posting right here, just send them to me. If you've recently sent me one I should've included here, please feel free to send that shit again. Hopefully we can all stay better-informed that way.
And without further delay, some local press releases.
(Note: These are excerpts, edited for grammar punctuation and clarity.)
From Exponential Records:
Wired magazine names AM Architect (pictured above) best unheard music of 2009
On the one hand, the release of Norton’s OnlineFamily rankings of the most popular searches by kids during 2009 shows the (developing) sexes aren’t so different. Outties plugged “sex” into the search window almost as much as the innies. The young ladies added Taylor Swift to top searches like YouTube, Google, and Facebook before pecking in s-e-x.
The boys, followed “sex” with “porn,” which is like sex, we’re told, except with props, an audience, and paychecks. Girls sought porn much less frequently, only after exhausting 23 other options. There’s Lady Gaga, Miley, and the Webkinz to contend with, after all.
Most surprising, “porn” remained the fourth most popular search among the 7 and younger set.
By Enrique Lopetegui
Bruno Campos - The Princess and the Frog
By Kiko Martinez
San Antonio Current contributing writer
After a yearlong search for their perfect prince for The Princess and the Frog, Walt Disney Studio found their man.
Actor Bruno Campos had never worked on an animated film before, but he was eager to lend his voice to the character of Prince Naveen, a charming and easygoing prince from the fictional country of Maldonia who is transformed into a frog by an evil voodoo doctor.
“As a voice performer in an animated film, everything was a complete surprise,” said Campos, who was born in Rio de Janiero before moving to the U.S. at the age of five. “All you see are a few drawings and a few clips. I had very little idea about what the other actors were doing. I didn’t even get a full script.”
Making The Princess and the Frog was a much different experience than Campos was used to since starting his acting career in 1995’s Oscar-nominated Brazilian film O Quatrilho. Campos, who studied drama at Northwestern University in Evanston, Illinois, went on to star in a number of TV shows including ER and Nip/Tuck.
During our interview, Campos, 36, talked about his inspiration for his princely character and how important he feels race is in a story that features Disney’s first African American princess.
When Disney cast you as Prince Naveen, what did they tell you they were looking for in terms of the type of character they wanted?
The idea was a Cary Grant-ish type of character from this mythical kingdom. They wanted him have a young and fun spirit and wanted someone who was charming. That’s what I tried to give them with the scenes I read during the audition. They had been researching for a year for this role, so they knew exactly what they wanted.
You play Prince Naveen both when he is in human form and as a frog. Did you have to get into a different mindset when the look of the character changed or did it feel the same either way?
That’s kind of the key question for this character, actually. The answer is no because the comedy part of his character comes out when he changes from the charming, dashing prince into this slimy little frog. He has no notion of that. Through the whole film he feels like he’s still got it. That’s what makes him so fun and likeable. He’s stripped of everything, but his attitude and confidence remain. He also enjoys jumping around and eating flies. He sees it as a great adventure.
Was there anyone you thought of for inspiration for your character?
My dad. He was just a very funny man. He was very charming, outgoing, and loved telling stories. He was a little man with a little potbelly. He had this infectious wit and tenaciousness. He spoke English in this melodic way. I just imitated all of his rhythms.
So much has been focused on the racial aspect of The Princess and the Frog. Do you consider race an important part of this film?
I think people are going to approach it differently. The symbolism of this film is undoubtedly extraordinary and significant. At the same time, I think it should feel colorless. A lot of children will approach it that way. I think they are just going to love the story, music, and characters.
What makes Prince Naveen different from other Prince Charming-like characters of the past?
What’s fun about Naveen and different about him relative to past princes is that he’s not a perfect man who shows up at the end of the film and gives the princess a kiss and whisks her away to this kingdom. He has his own issues. He’s running away from expectations that have been placed upon him. He would love to do nothing more than escape into the streets of New Orleans and be a part of the great jazz revolution that was occurring in the 20s. He learns from Tiana a way of life he doesn’t have too much experience in.
What kinds of cartoon did you watch growing up in Brazil?
I liked the Warner Brothers cartoons like Bugs Bunny and MGM cartoons like Tom & Jerry. I remember my first experience watching an animated film was with Disney’s Robin Hood. I remember that moment where Robin Hood jumps off the tower and it goes up in flames. For a moment I forgot it was animated. As a kid I was desperately wondering if he was alive or not. Of course, he pops out of the water. All those cartoons, for me, captured this fantasy and exaggerated emotionality that could be carried around forever. It reaches you in a way real life does not.
By Kim Johnson
Playing an outdoor show, in December, in middle-of-nowhere Helotes, is a gamble ... especially if the band's most memorable singles are more than ten years old. As a native Texan, I will stand by my assertion that the combination of standing around in 40-degree weather while holding ice-cold beer is anything but ideal.
Still, we, the nostalgic fans of '90s alt-rock, showed up in droves for the Toadies reunited (yet again) at Josabi's on Sunday night. Regardless of all obstacles past, there's just something about the rockin' Southern angst of the Toadies that keeps their fans coming back for more.
The saga officially began in '94 with the release of their first full-length album Rubberneck and its five singles: "Tyler," "Away," "Mister Love," "I Come From the Water," and "Possum Kingdom," which rocketed the Fort Worth band into a whirlwind of grunge success like nothing they've done since.
Interscope Records rejected the group's sophomore project Feeler in '98 and sent them back to the studio in hopes of recapturing Rubberneck-esque glory. They broke up five months after sophomore record Hell Below/Stars Above (2001) when certain members decided to move in different directions. A live album, Best of the Toadies: Live from Paradise, also failed to do much in the way of a resurrection.
But instead of disappearing, in March 2006 they reunited (for the first time) in Dallas, but "reunion" is a relative word choice since tormented-soul singer and guitarist Todd Lewis was (and continues to be) the only authentic original member. Current drummer Mark Reznicek joined in '91, guitarist Clark Vogeler in '96 and most recently, bassist Doni Blair in '08. An ecstatic response from faithful fans was enough to convince them to do a mini-tour in 2007 (Austin, Houston, Dallas) and release a second live album (The Rock Show, 2007).
Since then, the Toadies have been playing "reunion" shows with surprisingly positive feedback, especially in Texas. Besides their set at ACL this year, the band has mostly stuck to the shadows, playing in smaller, more remote venues. The Toadies are known and appreciated, but by a distinct fan base and much less so for their recent projects. The early singles are not only expected at shows, they are demanded by boisterous fans (the most common of which is male, aged 25-35, dressed in a style that I call 'Southern grunge'). To boot, "Possum Kingdom" was featured on Guitar Hero II, which has given Toadies fans a renewed sense of appreciation for the hit.
The problem with being a throwback is that no matter how they try to move on (ex: No Deliverance, 2009), the band will be forever haunted by the success of Rubberneck. It's anyone's guess as to how long the Toadies will be able to ride the wave of their '90s classics, but recurring reunions seems to be an effective strategy so far.
By Enrique Lopetegui
Prepare your checkbooks: These are my personal recommendations for Christmas 2009 shopping.
All books, CD’s and DVD’s came out this year.
Queen: The Ultimate Illustrated History of the Crown Kings of Rock, by Phil Sutcliffe. (Voyageur Press)
The “ultimate” book on Queen, arguably the most underrated (in the U.S.) rock and roll band ever, had to be as bombastic and colorful as the band itself. Everything Queen is, is here: Rare and not-so-rare black and white and color photos, biographical and chart info, detailed discography and tour info, and album-by-album reviews. The book has an obvious fan appeal, but is objective enough to deal with the most delicate issues in Queen’s history intelligently: Paul Rodgers (the former Bad Company frontman who “led” the infamous Queen + Paul Rodgers concoction) ain’t no Freddy Mercury, but the music he did with Brian May and Roger Taylor wasn't as bad as we think; that 1982’s Hot Space, justly vilified when it came out, is now a semi-classic; and how Mercury, unfairly criticized for keeping his illness a secret during his last days, became a champion for AIDS-awareness in death. Most importantly, the book understands why Queen was a great band: Yes, they may have betrayed their own “no synthesizers” mantra when it was convenient to do so, but any band that can play and sing that well, and that can produce so many hits ranging from hard-rock to metal, to silly but instrumentally intricate music-hall and operatic gems, has the right to kill its own rules. A must for Queen fans and latecomers.
Elton John: The Bitch Is Back, by Mark Bego. (Phoenix Books)
I’ll be honest with you: I can’t really vouch for this one, because I’ve just started reading it. But it looks like a complete, entertaining bio on one of the most successful, versatile, and influential singer-songwriters of all time.
The Who, The Mods and The Quadrophenia Connection, directed by Alec Lindsell. (Sexy Intellectual)
There have been books and movies about the Who before, but this one specifically deals with the band’s second rock-opera of 1973 and its connection with the cultural/fashion Mod fad of the 60s and its 70s revival. Rare archival footage, dynamite soundtrack (mostly from Quadrophenia but also from other Brit stars from the 60’s and 70s, all the way to the punk and pre-New Wave eras), and testimonies from key witnesses of the Mod days, the most lucid of which is Eddie Piller, head of Acid Jazz records. Fascinating, but this is mainly for fans or serious music lovers. If you want to discover the Who or merely be “entertained,” The Kids Are Alright remains the video to watch.
AC/DC’s Backtracks (Sony Legacy)
AC/DC liked things simple and to the point; pure no-bullshit rock and roll. I’ll try to emulate them: Option 1 has three CDs of live and studio rarities, two DVDs (including Family Jewels 3), a vinyl LP of studio collectibles, a coffee table book, and a bunch of authentic memorabilia, all boxed in a “working guitar amplifier” (which I haven’t seen). It’s a limited edition and you can only get it in acdcbacktracks.com (it was $199, now $172, but hurry). Option 2 (which you can buy anywhere) has two CD’s of studio and live rarities, the Family Jewels 3 DVD and bonus videos, and it also comes in an amplifier box (but this one you can’t plug in, unless you’re nuts). The band is still kicking ass on tour, and this is a good reminder of how their minimalist rock and roll swagger was, and is.
Manu Chao’s Baionarena (Nacional Records)
Two live CDs and one DVD of a concert filmed in France. If you haven’t had a chance to see Manu live, you must get this immediately, even if you heard Mano Negra and his solo albums (Manu live has nothing to do with his studio work). Roll a fat one, crank it up, and prepare for a trip.
Rock and Roll Hall of Fame + Museum LIVE (Time Life)
“It’s slightly ironic that tonight you see us on our best behavior, but we’re being rewarded for 25 years of bad behavior,” said Mick Jagger when the Rolling Stones were inducted into the R&R Hall of Fame in 1989. It’s one of the many memorable scenes in this must-have nine-DVD collection with the best moments of the R&R Museum and Hall of Fame’s history. Nothing fancy here; just a bunch of induction and acceptance speeches and performances put together, plus a few rehearsals and backstage footage as bonus material. But the performances make it all worthwhile. Dave Grohl and Taylor Hawkins performing “Tie Your Mother Down” with Queen; Paul McCartney inducting John Lennon (“You made it,” he said) and then Bruce Springsteen and Axl Rose doing a highly praised rendition of “Come Together” (I hate it, but can’t stop watching it); Green Day does have a superb version of “Blitzkrieg Bop” on the same day the Ramones were inducted (Johnny thanked President Bush and Dee Dee congratulated himself); The surviving Doors + Eddie Vedder (who did a jaw-dropping version of “Roadhouse Blues”) proved to be a whole lot better than Queen + Paul Rodgers, even though the well-behaved and better dressed crowd didn’t seem to give a shit (Eddie sang the “Roll, baby, roll” part with a “Move, you fuckers” attitude). “I know the Eagles got in first,” said Springsteen while inducting Jackson Browne, “but let’s face it, and I’m sure Don Henley will agree with me: These are the songs they wish they had written” (a smiling Henley, sitting in the audience, seemed to agree). Class of 2007 Patti Smith remembered how her late husband, Fred “Sonic” Smith, once predicted how guilty she was going to feel to be inducted. “Yes, Tricia… You will feel guilty because I’m not in it, and I’m clearly the better one.” Jeff Beck’s acceptance speech, exploiting his love-hate relationship with Rod Stewart, is a riot that needs to be seen, and every single DVD has legendary moments worth treasuring. You can do no wrong with this one.
Louie & The Lovers’ The Complete Recordings (Bear Family Records)
The great lost gem of Chicano rock, Rise was the Doug Sahm-produced 1970 debut (and farewell) of Salinas Valley, California foursome of Louie Ortega, Frank Paredes, Albert Parra, and Steve Vargas. Or was it? They actually recorded a second album, but it never saw the light of day. Danish label Bear Family has just remastered and reissued both albums, and there isn’t a single bad song in the entire 27-track CD. Imagine a cross between country, folk, rock, Byrds guitars, Creedence Clearwater Revival, and Crosby, Stills, and Nash harmonies, and you get the best album you never heard of. None of the members were older than 20, and the first album was recorded in 18 hours, with two takes at the most. It’s a glorious historical document, but it’s mainly a great collection of songs that still sound heavenly after 39 years.
A heartbeat and a guitar: Johnny Cash and the making of Bitter Tears, by Antonino D’Ambrosio. (Nation Books)
When radio stations boycotted 1964’s Bitter Tears, Johnny Cash was livid, so he bought a full-page ad in Billboard magazine. “I had to fight back when I realized that so many stations are afraid of Ira Hayes,” wrote Cash on the ad. “Just one question: WHY??? … Ira Hayes is strong medicine … So is Rochester, Harlem, Birmingham and Vietnam.” Despite the slightly misleading title and cover of this book (more than half of it deals with the plight of the Seneca Indians and the life of Peter La Farge, the author of “The ballad of Ira Hayes”), it is nevertheless a fascinating read on the least explored aspect of Cash’s greatness: His uncompromising, art-first approach to music, and his commitment to denounce the mistreatment of Native Americans even if that meant to put his own hit-making career in jeopardy. You can find our original review here.
Primal Twang: The Legacy of the Guitar, directed by Anthony Leigh Adams and written, produced and performed by Dan Crary and many guests. (Adams Entertainment)
See original review here here.
Nirvana’s Live at Reading. (Geffen Records)
Check out our original review here.
I slept with Joey Ramone: A family memoir, by Mickey Leigh and Legs McNeil. (Touchstone)
This is the story of the Ramones from the unique perspective of Joey’s brother, Mickey Leigh (the Rattlers, Birdland with Lester Bangs, STOP), co-written with Punk magazine founder Legs McNeil. It is candid, informative (did you know that, besides the Beatles, it was Ritchie Valens who turned Joey into rock and roll?), funny, but also heartbreaking. Joey battled a severe obsessive-compulsive disorder throughout his life, but he also had to put up with Johnny Ramone, who was a complete asshole, to say the least. The Ramones resented the fact that bands that admittedly had them as heroes (Green Day, Nirvana, Soundgarden, U2, and the list goes on and on and on) had the sales and riches that had always evaded them. For much of its 22-year career, the Ramones was a highly dysfunctional family, and more a miracle than band. You couldn’t tell that by their live performances and many of its classic albums: the Ramones rarely had a bad show for several reasons (the almost tyrannical discipline Johnny instilled on the band, the band’s great songs, and a loyal legion of fans worldwide), and they always pulled it off and managed to survive the changes in the music industry. Ultimately, this is a loving brother’s tribute. No, Joey (born Jeff Hyman) was no saint and he didn’t always get along with Mickey, but everyone agrees that, deep down, Joey was a sweet, well-meaning individual. At the end they had made peace, and Mickey knew better than anybody who his brother was. “Joey was the ultimate underdog who soared to a place far beyond mere overachievement,” Mickey wrote. “As low as he’d been, he never let it prevent him from setting sights on astronomical heights. His brave plight was inspiring, as I intend this story to be.” Mission accomplished.
Happy Holidays. If you have tomorrow free, please, please, please check this out and then e-mail or Facebook me IMMEDIATELY. I'm on deadline honey, but it would seem that Santa's in touble.
Check this out:
This is the site wherefrom I'm getting the following Santa images.
THESE DUDES ARE **NOT** THE SANTA(S) MENTIONED IN THE FOLLOWING PRESS RELEASE.
San Antonio Bar Association
Bexar County Courthouse, Fifth Floor – San Antonio, Texas 78205
● Fax (210) 271-9614
FOR IMMEDIATE Contact:
RELEASE Ted Lee @ 886-9500
ARREST OF SANTA CLAUS!
MISS THE ARREST OF SANTA CLAUS AT
9:30 A.M. ON THURSDAY, DECEMBER 10, 2009 AT JAMES BONHAM ACADEMY!
Claus will be arrested at 9:30 a.m. on Thursday, December
10, 2009, at James Bonham Academy, 925 South St. Mary’s Street.
Santa Claus, who will be giving out Christmas presents, will be charged
with violation of a statute concerning separation of Church and State.
Claus will be arrested for violation of this statute and led away in
handcuffs by members of the San Antonio Police Department.
Repeatedly Santa Claus has appeared at local schools giving gifts in violation of this statute. This is the sixteenth year in a row that Santa has been arrested. Each time in the past, Santa Claus has beaten the charge, due to skillful representation of Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts that make up his defense team. It helps that the jury was composed of fourth and fifth graders from James Bonham Academy.
On Saturday, December 12, 2009 at 9:00 a.m., Santa Claus a/k/a Kris Kringle, will be tried in the Federal Courthouse in front of the Honorable Judge Edward C. Prado for violation of this statute. The Boy Scouts and Girl Scouts will make up both the prosecution and the defense teams. The jury will be selected from fourth and fifth graders from James Bonham Academy. This is different version of “Miracle on 34th Street” with an unusual twist.
If Santa Claus is found to be competent (this Santa Claus actually believes reindeer can fly), Santa clearly violated the statute and will probably be convicted. Santa may spend this Christmas in jail!
If Santa Claus is acquitted and is found competent, then a Christmas party will occur at the Federal Training Center across the patio in front of the John H. Wood Jr. Courthouse.
Trial of Santa Claus is a community services project of the San Antonio
Bar Association in conjunction with Boy Scout Troop 285 and Girl Scout
Troop 580 and James Bonham Academy.
The current show at Fl!ght Gallery, "Welcome to the Gun Show," featuring the glasswork of Jake Zollie Harper and the woodwork of Ray Gun (aka Reagan Johns) is closing tonight!
There is a party tonight, at Fl!ght, from 7-10. Seeing as how the 2 artists collaborated on a lovely wooden bar with handmade taps, there Will Be Beer. Freetail, and free!
Unfortunately, I missed the artist talk the night before Thanksgiving, which was moderated by Artlies editor (and Johns' partner) Anjali Gupta. I hear it was fascinating and fun, though, and hell, those same dudes will be there, so ask them anything you want.
Ray Gun may tell you of the eight years he spent painstakingly assembling the spectacular wooden wall sculpture composed, in part, of teeny tiny pegs. Gorgeous, powerful stuff...stuff that's not for sale, as it happens, because, well, HE SPENT EIGHT YEARS ON IT. But if you are very rich, I encourage you to make him an offer. You might also hear Jake tell of how Chuck Ramirez wants to commission some IMPERFECT glasswork from him, which strikes Jake as ironic, because he works damn hard towards perfection. However, there are many pieces by Harper in the show that belie, in lovely ways, a very exacting but human touch.
Fl!ght curators Ed Saavedra and Current contributor Justin Parr have been wildly enthusiastic about this workmanlike/elegant exhibition, Saavedra even calling it "one of the best shows we've ever presented." I heartily concur. Go, look, mingle, drink, buy unique and beautiful things from these unique and beautiful characters. Plus, a Fl!ght party is always good.
Up starting 12/12 at Fl!ght: Kendra Curry, whose show opening, as I understand, will include some participatory artmaking.
NOW SOME IMAGES!
(All photos by Justin Parr)
installation view: note pyramidal-facade (?) beer bar (I don't know what else to call it) with hand-blown glass taps.
detail from a series of Harper-Ray Gun collaborations; small wooden cabinets (with ingenious wooden hinges, nothing Home Depot-made, kids) with handmade glass knobs.
wood by Ray Gun, glass by Harper
Ray Gun's 8-year sculpture, recalling monumental ancient wheels, pixillation, and cosmology somehow.
groupong f original glassware by Jake Zollie Harper--again, some of these smaller pieces somewhat recall ancient artifacts to me.
another one-wood, one-glass collab: taps
these stools, if I remember correctly, are mirror images of each other.
lamp in cobalt blue
Fl!ght is at 1906 South Flores.
Wow. I'll never call anything irrelevant again. I was so busy offending Barbra Streisand and Pet Shop Boys fans in my previous Grammy rant, I stupidly failed to mention that not one or some but ALL of the nominees for Best Tejano Album claim the 210. That's not all that surprising I suppose, but it's definitely worth recognizing, whether or not the Awards get the Rock and Hip-Hop categories right. The nominees are listed and linked below. My sincere congratulations to all of you, and just remember that no matter how much trash I talked about the awards, you were nominated for a Grammy, and I will never ever ever be, unless as one commenter suggested, they start giving awards for "outstanding ignorance."
The San Antonio Spurs headed into their Thursday night game against Kevin Garnett and the Boston Celtics riding a season high five game winning streak that included their first road win of the year. The Celtics took control of the contest from the beginning, quickly reminding the Spurs that they were facing an elite team and not the sub-par squads they had built their streak upon. In a sloppy game marked by 19 turnovers, 10 squandered free throws, and several missed opportunities for the Spurs, the end result was a 90-83 loss at home.
“I was just out there,” Blair told reporters after the game. “Pop gave me the minutes. Whether I play five minutes or whatever minutes I played tonight it’s all about working hard, hustling, being there for the team and rebounding. I made a couple of plays. It was a good game. I am getting more comfortable every day. My teammates are doing great at helping in situations when I don’t know what to do. I am just listening and asking questions. We are going to fight back from this and try to get a win on Saturday. You aren’t going to win championships in December we are just going to keep working and it’s going to come together. I promise.”
By Enrique Lopetegui
There's been documentaries on the history of the guitar before, but this one is different.
Bluegrass legend Dan Crary (also a member of supergroup Vato Valley Boys) hosts this journey into the history of the world's most popular instrument, in a show performed in 2006 at San Diego's Birch North Park Theatre.
Besides Crary, the many top guests include Austin instrumental virtuoso Eric Johnson, "Mr. Telecaster" himself Albert Lee, and country/bluegrass hero Doc Watson.
The monumental Anthony Leigh Adams-directed and Crary-written-and-produced film (which combines onstage narration, video, rare historical footage, and dynamite performances) is funny, entertaining, informative and, most importantly, highly enjoyable.
On PBS Saturday, December 5, at 8 pm, and Sunday, Dec. 6 at 1 am.
Amaury Nolasco - Armored
By Kiko Martinez
San Antonio Current contributing writer
With his role as Fernando Sucre in the TV series Prison Break finally behind him, actor Amaury Nolasco, 38, is focusing all of his energy on his promising film career.
Nolasco, who is of Puerto Rican descent, has proven he can hold his own over the last five years with a number of roles in action movies, including 2 Fast 2 Furious, Street Kings and Transformers.
Now he can be seen in the action movie Armored, which stars Matt Dillon (Crash) and Laurence Fishburne (The Matrix). In the film, Nolasco plays Palmer, an armored truck security guard caught up in a $42-million heist with his coworkers.
Along with Armored, Nolasco just finished shooting The Rum Diary, a film adaptation of Hunter S. Thompson’s novel of the same name.
During a phone interview with me, Nolasco talked about his roles in Armored and The Rum Diary, what he would consider the most sensitive thing about himself and what his “pact with the devil” has brought him in life.
It’s the end of the year, which usually means films vying for Oscar attention make their way into theaters. Do you see Armored as a nice break from all the dramas that we’ll see this month?
I’m actually proud that it’s coming out in December because it’s a really tough month. When they screen-tested Armored, ratings went through the roof so I think they are confident releasing it this month. It’s award season, of course, and we’re going to be getting these great movies and performances, but that’s not for everybody. There’s an audience out there that loves action-packed movies.
Tell us a bit about Palmer and what drew you to him as a character.
What drew me was how dark he is. He doesn’t say much, but his presence is there. He’s a guy that has had his encounters with the law and has spent his time in jail. He came out and found God and religion, but somehow finds himself with this proposition to steal $42 million and get away with it. It’s a dog-eat-dog movie where you see a lot of backstabbing and people picking sides.
We see you in a lot of manly roles in TV and film. What would you say is the most sensitive thing about you?
That’s a very good question. What am I sensitive about? I love kids – especially kids with disabilities. I haven’t had a chance to explore a role where I can show my sensitive side. Right now I am getting these manly roles, and you take those until other opportunities come up. Hopefully soon I can show a different range. I actually just finished a movie [The Rum Diary] with Johnny Depp. It’s a completely different movie [from what] I’m used to.
Tell us about your character in Rum Diary.
I play a guy named Segurra. He’s a suck-up who has money and is basically a shark. He’s one of those guys you don’t want next to you because he’ll suck your blood out.
Was this the first time you shot a film in your home country of Puerto Rico?
Yes, it was a beautiful experience. I left Puerto Rico 14 years ago to start a dream. To come back as a prodigal son with a movie of that caliber really gave me pride. The whole country embraced me. I was in the newspapers everyday next to Johnny Depp. (Laughs) That’s not a bad name to be mentioned with.
Your birthday is in a couple of weeks; you’ll turn 39 and then there will be one more year until the big 40. Is 40 a scary number for you or is it just another year?
(Laughs) Yeah, I got a whole year to think about it. If you were to ask me this question 20 years ago, I would have freaked out. At 20, I was thinking, in the next decade I’m going to have to get married and do all this stuff. But now, I’m not married, but I am in a serious relationship. I still have a lot of things I want to do and places I want to see. So, it’s all just an age. I still feel very young at heart. I don’t look my age because I have a pact with the devil. Life is how you live it. I try to live mine to the fullest.
By Enrique Lopetegui
The USA has a difficult but not impossible group in the 2010 FIFA World Cup, to be held in June in South Africa. The boys should be able to at least reach the second place and go to the second round, and they could even pass by becoming one of the best third places.
These are the groups:
Group A - South Africa, Mexico, Uruguay, France. (France is favorite only on paper and qualified by a handball; Mexico is tough anywhere, Uruguay unpredictable and South Africa the home team, which makes it hell for everybody else. Anything can happen here, but it's far from being 'the Group of Death').
Group B - Argentina, South Korea, Greece, Nigeria (My prediction: Nigeria and Argentina qualify, in that order... unless Messi wakes up and takes Argentina to the top).
Group C - England, USA, Algeria, Slovenia (England and USA, in that order but watch for the Algerians)
Group D - Germany, Australia, Ghana, Serbia (This is a tougher group than it seems; I go with Germany on top, followed by Ghana, but don't dismiss Australia).
Group E - Netherlands, Japan, Cameroon, Denmark (Netherlands, easy)
Group F - Italy, New Zealand, Paraguay, Slovakia (Italy and Paraguay).
Group G - Brazil, North Korea, Portugal, Ivory Coast (Brazil and Ivory Coast, unless Ronaldo delivers and takes Portugal to the next round)
Group H - Spain, Honduras, Chile, Switzerland (This is a tough group; Spain should win it, but Chile has a great team and Switzerland has improved a lot; I don't think Honduras has enough in this group)
The program is the brainchild of Dr. Andy Hildebrand, a former geophysics scientist who realized the significance of his work with autocorrelation (a mathematical process of interpreting the reflections of sound waves sent into the ground to locate potential drilling sites) while doing seismic data research for Exxon. He quit to take classes at Rice U in music composition, then founded his own company, Jupiter Systems (now Antares Audio Technologies), in 1990. The bestselling Auto-Tune software was given life in 1997 and has been a source of sound manipulation and vehement controversy ever since.
Its popularity was epitomized with T-Pain's blatant use of a slower retune speed, nicknamed "The " for her 1998 hit "Believe," (disclaimer: listening to this whole song will make you punch your computer) which used Auto-Tune to create warbled, electronic vocals. T-Pain has used the effect as a mainstay on his tracks and was rewarded with a 2008 Grammy and four nominations in 2009. As is inevitable in pop culture, production teams loaded up the bandwagon and never looked back.
Different from a vocoder, which was originally developed as a means of speech encryption by synthesizing the voice's natural frequencies to produce an electronic recreation, Auto-Tune takes a recording and alters off-key notes by bending them into perfect pitch. The effects can be made discreetly to fix minor flaws or obviously to produce a robotic-sounding voice. A normally unimpressive vocalist has the ability to sing in perfect pitch. It is the impression of talent, bestowed by technology. Madonna, , Marilyn Manson, and Beck (to name a few) use a vocoder to add an electronic effect whereas, for example, Kanye West is notorious for Auto-Tuning during his foray into singing (especially in his most recent album 808s & Heartbreak).
Like many artists, Austinite Ter'ell Shahid of the funk-hop trio Neckbone is frustrated by Auto-Tuning habits, but more than anything he seems nostalgic for real sound.
"When you can hear the depth of the [unaffected] voice, it makes you more attached to the music," he said. "Now you feel further from it, and you are. It's like being around a really pretty person, and you don't know why you're not attracted to them.
"I pray that it's a fad," he continued. "We're using our music as a platform to say that we're okay with you guys having the clown stuff, but don't alienate or exclude the hardcore artists who don't," said Shahid. "There's so much crutching. So much is restricted in the spotlight."
Trends of the Auto-Tune debate have culminated in whether Auto-Tune is progressive or detrimental to the industry. Media have picked up the issue and put it back down again, unable to do much more than either celebrate the ambition and realization of modern technology, invoke conspiracies about the mainstream (guilty), and/or lament the loss of artistic integrity (also guilty).
"Today, any kid with a computer can make music. It totally opens up the music world, but at the same time just waters everything down and makes the overall product less desirable," said vocalist Danny Gibbons of local alt folk-rock group Our Sleeping Giant, together since Gibbons transitioned from a three year-old solo performance to a group effort in February 2009. Together with bassist Jordan Williams, Gibbons produces all of OSG's recordings and asserts that although pro-tools are used, Auto-Tune is not involved in the process. Like Shahid, Gibbons is unmistakably reminiscent for passé production methods.
"I wish I was alive in the early 70s when everything was still analog," said Gibbons. "There's something missing and something to be desired for the warm [analog] recordings."
Boxes of Auto-Tune software are set ablaze in the video for Jay-Z's hit song "D.O.A. (Death of Auto-Tune)" as he proclaims the end of the era of .
Seemingly born of general frustration for the industry and his peers,
the rapper's assertions were preemptive. Despite allegations of
overexposure, kitsch, and undermined credibility, Auto-Tune remains an
industry constant. Online copies of the software level the playing
field, giving Joe Average power over a previously well-kept industry
The fad is not genre-specific. Rap music has been a major player in the Auto-Tuning game, but shamelessly warbled vocals are perhaps less offensive than backdoor tactics disguising less impressive performances. Many well-known artists have used Auto-Tune over the years to discreetly iron out inconsistencies without adding obvious T-Pain-esque electronic effects (Garth Brooks, Natasha Bedingfield, Uncle Kracker, Britney Spears, the Dixie Chicks, New Found Glory, Rascal Flatts, etc. The list goes on and on). If you know what to listen for, it can be detected. If not, you'd probably never know that the majority of vocals have been at least slightly corrected for radio play. The taboo of Auto-Tune is highlighted by this type of corrective 'cheating,' as opposed to those who use it as an additive stylistic tool.,
"The music industry is saturated with artists that go with the popular trends to be heard," said San Antonio-based Etheric Music's Jennifer Chavez, manager of Neckbone. "The days of having to really sing are long gone."
When asked if he thinks his software is evil, Hildebrand didn't falter. "My wife wears makeup, is that evil?" (sic). Sports have long been plagued by players' use of anabolic steroids, blurring the line between true athletic ability and those desperately juicing to compete. Fashion media use technology to airbrush photos, and the taboo of plastic surgery has practically dissipated.
The analogies aren't exact but the deception is comparable. Nobody believes T-Pain actually has a robot voice, but the average untrained ear isn't likely to recognize carefully corrected pitches. And why should it? Mainstream radio is the music lifeline of an unassuming population operating without the desperate need to fine-tune a personal playlist of preferences. To regulate the software would be unfathomable, so those in opposition must learn to detect its use and tastefulness in discerning an artist's validity. Then again, you'd be hard-pressed to find many people willing to exert such an effort when it's so easy not to.
Corrective software may be a quick business fix, but where does it put us in the long run? Artistically and financially bankrupt when the novelty wears off and no real talent has been invested in. Whether a moral debate, a question of taste, or just a passing fad, Auto-Tune is unlikely to cause the complete vacuum for good music. Every popular artist isn't actually industry-engineered robot yet, even if a lot of them sound like it.
"The [Auto-Tune] facade creates new artists who feel like this is what they need to do. You can't sing on the radio if you don't synthesize your voice," said Shahid of Neckbone. "That's pop culture: the definition of what well-produced music 'should' sound like. It's pretty boring. The music industry is business people trying to run art without any artistic knowledge and it's very counter-productive."
Austin's South by Southwest music/everything else in the world fest announced a partial list of bands scheduled for showcases in March. The names range from Brooklyn's Aa to Argentina's Zona Tango, but so far not one San Antonio artist. WTF SXSW?
Who deserves to go; who has submitted their stuff to South By and hasn't heard back yet? Let us know in the comments below. The most exciting acts named so far are probably Acid Mothers Temple (in the kick-ass video above), the db's, Frightened Rabbit, and Smif N Wessun. Not bad, but not exactly thrilling, as far as I'm concerned, but check out the list below and decide for yourself.
Anybody heard any good rumors yet?
Aa (Brooklyn NY)
Acid Mothers Temple & The Melting Paraiso UFO (Osaka JAPAN)
A Classic Education (Bologna ITALY)
Alpha Rev (Austin TX)
Amaral (Madrid SPAIN)
And So I Watch You From Afar (Belfast IRELAND)
Apostle of Hustle (Toronto ON)
Arms (Brooklyn NY)
Ólöf Arnalds (Reykjavik ICELAND)
Art vs Science (Surry Hills AUSTRALIA)
A Shoreline Dream (Denver CO)
Nicole Atkins and The Black Sea (Asbury Park NJ)
Autumn Owls (Dublin IRELAND)
Bare Wires (Oakland CA)
Julian Berntzen (Bergen NORWAY)
Best Fwends (Austin TX)
The Black (Austin TX)
The Black Atlantic (Groningen THE NETHERLANDS)
Dan Black (Paris FRANCE)
Black Tide (Miami FL)
Bliss N Eso (Albert Park VIC)
Boom Boom Satellites (JAPAN)
The Boxer Rebellion (London UK-ENGLAND)
Break of Reality (New York NY)
B-Real of Cypress Hill (Los Angeles CA)
Broadway Calls (Rainer OR)
Broken Records (Edinburgh UK-SCOTLAND)
VV BROWN (London UK-ENGLAND)
The Brunettes (Auckland NEW ZEALAND)
Buckshot (Brooklyn NY)
Canja Rave (Porto Alegre BRAZIL)
Capsula (Bilbao SPAIN)
Carsick Cars (Beijing CHINA)
Caucus (Tokyo JAPAN)
The Chevelles (Melville WA)
Chew Lips (London UK-ENGLAND)
Suzanna Choffel (Austin TX)
Chris T-T (Brighton UK-ENGLAND)
C-Mon & Kypski (THE NETHERLANDS)
The Coathangers (Atlanta GA)
Simon Collins (Victoria BC)
The Constellations (Atlanta GA)
Contra Coup (Austin TX)
Cotton Jones (Cumberland MD)
The Crystal Method (Los Angeles CA)
David Dallas (Auckland NEW ZEALAND)
Dappled Cities (Sydney AUSTRALIA)
Daveman (Berlin GERMANY)
The Daylights (Los Angeles CA)
The dB's (Chapel Hill NC)
Dead Sexy Inc (Paris FRANCE)
The Deaf (The Hague THE NETHERLANDS)
Deer Tick (Providence RI)
Delhi 2 Dublin (Vancouver BC)
Paul Dempsey (from "Something for Kate") (Melbourne VIC)
Diplomats of Solid Sound (Iowa City IA)
DJ Car Stereo (Wars) (Austin TX)
DJ Evil Dee (Brooklyn NY)
DJ Revolution (Los Angeles CA)
Daniel Francis Doyle (Austin TX)
Adiam Dymott (Goteborg SWEDEN)
The 88 (Los Angeles CA)
Electric Electric (Strasbourg FRANCE)
Val Emmich (Jersey City NJ)
Eternia (Toronto ON)
Everything Everything (Manchester UK-WALES)
Fanfarlo (London UK-ENGLAND)
Michael Feinberg (New York NY)
Fergus & Geronimo (Westway TX)
Fighting With Wire (Derry IRELAND)
FINALE (Detroit MI)
Floating Action (Asheville NC)
Francis (Borlange SWEDEN)
Robert Francis (Los Angeles CA)
Frightened Rabbit (Selkirk UK-SCOTLAND)
The Funeral Pyre (Los Angeles CA)
The Ganjas (Santiago CHILE)
Geeks (Tokyo JAPAN)
Gerald G (Austin TX)
Colin Gilmore (Austin TX)
Giulia y los Tellarini (Barcelona SPAIN)
Rosi Golan (New York NY)
Gong Myoung (Seoul KOREA)
Goober and the Peas (Detroit MI)
Good Shoes (London UK-ENGLAND)
Guitar Shorty (Harlingen TX)
Ha Ha Tonka (Springfield MO)
Halves (Dublin IRELAND)
Darren Hanlon (Sydney AUSTRALIA)
Harlem (Austin TX)
Headdress (Austin TX)
Hey Colossus (London UK-ENGLAND)
Robyn Hitchcock (London CA)
Hot Panda (Edmonton AB)
The Hounds Below (Detroit MI)
I Fight Dragons (Chicago IL)
The Intelligence (Seattle WA)
Ivan & Alyosha (Seattle WA)
Japandroids (Vancouver BC)
Jazz One (Austin TX)
Stephen Jerzak (La Crosse WI)
John Dear Mowing Club (Den Haag THE NETHERLANDS)
The Jim Jones Revue (London UK-ENGLAND)
Jookabox (Indianapolis IN)
Julia Says (Sao Paulo BRAZIL)
Karnivool (Perth AUSTRALIA)
Kartick & Gotam (Chennai INDIA)
Kidz In Space (Auckland NEW ZEALAND)
Kidz In The Hall (Chicago IL)
Kingston (Auckland NEW ZEALAND)
Maurice Kirya (Kampala ZIMBABWE)
The Kissaway Trail (Odense DENMARK)
L.A.B. (Novo Hamburgo BRAZIL)
The Law (Dundee UK-SCOTLAND)
Vander Lee (Belo Horizonte BRAZIL)
Unni Lovlid (Oslo NORWAY)
Lowood (Stockholm SWEDEN)
Audra Mae (Los Angeles CA)
Malente (Essen GERMANY)
Natalia Mallo (Sao Paulo BRAZIL)
Mantles (San Francisco CA)
Julia Marcell (Berlin GERMANY)
Marco Polo & Torae (Brooklyn NY)
Mariachi El Bronx (Los Angeles CA)
Carolyn Mark (Victoria BC)
Maruosa (Tokyo JAPAN)
MegaRex (Sao Paulo BRAZIL)
The Middle East (Townsville AUSTRALIA)
Middle Finger Salute (Blackburn UK-ENGLAND)
Miniature Tigers (Phoenix AZ)
Mixtapes & Cellmates (Stockholm SWEDEN)
Monarchs (Austin TX)
Michael Monroe (Helsinki FINLAND)
PJ Morton (Conyers GA)
Mountain Man (Bennington VT)
Movits! (Lulea SWEDEN)
Moxine (Sao Paulo BRAZIL)
Mr Sicc (Auckland NEW ZEALAND)
Mumiy Troll (Los Angeles CA)
My Dad is Dead (Chapel Hill NC)
Nailpin (Boom BELGIUM)
Nakia & His Southern Cousins (Austin TX)
NiCad (Den Haag THE NETHERLANDS)
9th Wonder (Raleigh-Durham NC)
The Novas (Dallas TX)
Jackie Oates (Exeter UK-ENGLAND)
of Verona (Mandi Perkins) (Los Angeles CA)
One Night Only (Helmsley UK-ENGLAND)
1001 Nights Orchestra (Austin TX)
The Pack A.D. (Vancouver BC)
Paleo (Brooklyn NY)
:papercutz (Porto PORTUGAL)
Parlovr (Montreal QC)
Past Lives (Seattle WA)
The Peelies (Montreal QC)
Julie Peel (Montreal QC)
Peter Wolf Crier (Minneapolis MN)
Pink Nasty (Austin TX)
Pivot (UK) (UK-ENGLAND)
P.K. 14 (Beijing CHINA)
Plants and Animals (Montreal QC)
Please The Trees (Prague CZECH REPUBLIC)
Steve Poltz (San Diego CA)
Andy Pratt (Amesbury MA)
Sean Price (Brooklyn NY)
Princeton (Eagle Rock CA)
Psalm One (Chicago IL)
Quantic and his Combo Barbaro (Cali COLOMBIA)
Random Axe (Brooklyn NY)
Rebelle (Den Haag THE NETHERLANDS)
Red Mass (Montreal QC)
Tommy Reilly (Glasgow UK-SCOTLAND)
Riverboat Gamblers (Austin TX)
The River Raid (Recife BRAZIL)
Miles Benjamin Anthony Robinson (Brooklyn NY)
Brisa Roche (Paris FRANCE)
Rock of Heltah Skeltah (Brooklyn NY)
Rogues (London UK-ENGLAND)
Ruste Juxx (Brooklyn NY)
San Saba County (Austin TX)
Scanners (London UK-ENGLAND)
Kate Schutt (Guelph ON)
Serious Sam Barrett (Leeds UK-ENGLAND)
Shit And Shine (London UK-ENGLAND)
Sixteen Deluxe (Austin TX)
Skyzoo (Brooklyn NY)
Small Black (Brooklyn NY)
Smif N Wessun (Brooklyn NY)
Smoosh (Seattle WA)
So Cow (Tuam IRELAND)
Solid Gold (Minneapolis MN)
Soulico (Tel Aviv ISRAEL)
So What (The Hague THE NETHERLANDS)
The Spring Standards (New York NY)
Sabrina Starke (Amsterdam THE NETHERLANDS)
Steel Train (Teaneck NJ)
StereoHeroes (Les Gorguettes FRANCE)
Surrounded (Malmo SWEDEN)
Jesse Sykes and the Sweet Hereafter (Seattle WA)
M. Takara 3 (Guarulhos BRAZIL)
Team Facelift (New York NY)
Thunder Power (Omaha NE)
Timber Timbre (Toronto ON)
Todd (London UK-ENGLAND)
Marques Toliver (London UK-ENGLAND)
Toolshed (London ON)
Trembling Bells (Glasgow UK-SCOTLAND)
Trespassers William (Seattle WA)
Twin Atlantic (Glasgow UK-SCOTLAND)
Two Star Symphony (Houston TX)
Jonathan Tyler & the Northern Lights (Dallas TX)
The Uglysuit (Oklahoma City OK)
Uncle Lucius (Austin TX)
The View (Dundee UK-SCOTLAND)
Volovan (Monterrey MEXICO)
Waco Brothers (Chicago IL)
Miho Wada (Auckland NEW ZEALAND)
Warpaint (Los Angeles CA)
Wave Machines (Liverpool UK-ENGLAND)
The Wave Pictures (London UK-ENGLAND)
We Are Scientists (New York NY)
We Are Wolves (Montreal QC)
Withered (Atlanta GA)
Wolf Gang (London UK-ENGLAND)
Woot (The Haque THE NETHERLANDS)
XV (Wichita KS)
The Yellow Dogs (Tehran IRAN)
YellowFever (Austin TX)
Zlam Dunk (San Marcos TX)
Zona Tango (Buenos Aires ARGENTINA)