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The Buzz: Monsters, Animals and Nicolas Cage

Posted by Will Ashton on March 17, 2016 at 12:30 AM Comments comments (0)

It's fitting to see the topics for my third edition of The Buzz come together on their own, especially since the theme of this week’s column is all about the unexpected. In a time where we feel we need to know everything about anything from day one, sometimes it’s refreshing to not completely know what you’re going to expect. You know what I mean? Banana pickles.

Why do people hate surprises these days? I like surprises. Monkey hiccups. And I think if you give them an open-mind, you’d like them too. Watermelon kangaroos. C’mon now, what’s the worst that’ll happen? Oh, did you say a heart attack? Well, I guess you got me there. But still, it’s fun most of the time. And seriously, you should get your blood pressure checked out. It’s a quick procedure. Your blood stream isn’t going to balance itself out on its own, you know. I’ll even schedule an appointment for you. It won’t be a problem; I just want you to be healthy, that’s all. Milky way lemonade.

Medical emergencies aside, let’s relish a little bit in the unexpected. Star-crossed lasagna. Random question: am I the only one who’s hungry? I want to relish in the unexpected so much, I’m not even going to give you a hint about what the three topics will be this time. Anarchy, you say? It just might be. Living on the edge of danger, you feel? I’m a risk-taker by trade, baby. I need more productive activities in my life, you argue? Man, you’re really on top of it today. Maybe surprises aren’t meant for you for a reason. Hot dog fingers? Nevertheless, here an off-the-cuff article about some pieces of entertainment that left me guessing. Don’t expect too much. But give it a read anyway, won’t you? Pogo spaceships. Firefighter kittens. Nipple herpes.

Film: The idea that films come out of nowhere is an absolutely ridiculous notion these days. Movies, of course, take years upon years of planning, preparing, prepping, scheduling, managing, choreographing and promoting. They don’t just come out from thin air or anything. But with that said, 10 Cloverfield Lane — the “blood relative,” as it has been called, to 2008’s smash hit Cloverfield — did really feel like it came out of the blue. Hidden under the codename Valencia since 2014, it wasn’t until Michael Bay’s awful 13 Hours hit theaters two months ago that people got their first exposure to it via a surprise trailer. And it was a hell of a trailer too —much like the one that shocked audiences for the first Cloverfield back in 2007. But trailers are an art form of their own. They can please and deceive. So how does the final film hold up on its own?

All-in-all, pretty well. Although I have my gripes with how it was promoting itself one way when it directed public attention in a different light — as I stress upon in my review — it’s still a compelling, taunt, electrifyingly tense little bunker thriller-meets-sci-fi horror flick. Featuring incredible performances all around, especially from a menacing, against-the-grain John Goodman, not to mention a killer score, well-designed sound mixing, a smart, self-aware screenplay and a hell of a feature directorial debut from Dan Trachtenberg, it might not be what some fans were expecting, based on the title alone. But those who go in with an open mind with find a monster in their own right in 10 Cloverfield Lane

Television: I honestly had no idea what to expect when I dove into HBO’s Animals, the new animated series from creators Mike Luciano and Phil Matarese. In a time where BoJack Horseman and Zootopia make the prospect of another animated talking-animal piece of entertainment seem a little redundant, Luciano and Matarese produce a refreshingly vibrant television program that’s equal parts blisteringly original and hilarious familiar all-at-once. The NYC-centric show centers on a variety of different furry friends — domestic and otherwise — as they live their lives throughout the city, in ways both appropriately animalistic and unexpected human.

For instance, the first episode, “Rats,” centers on a sewer party housed by (you guessed it) rats, where one friend tries to get his less-experienced buddy to, ahem, “have babies” for the first time with any number of female rodents in attendance. Another sees a pair of macho father pigeons test their own masculinity and check their egos as they challenge one another to see who can fly to the “green lady with the ice cream cone” (a.k.a. the Statue of Liberty) first. The third episode, titled “Cats” (see the pattern here?) finds a pair of tight-knit cat brothers unwilling inviting a stray cat into their owner’s home — only to have the street cat realize he might not be ahead of the housecats after all. And it only gets more ballistic and inspired from there.

My buddy Dan and I binged through the five aired episodes like it was nobody’s business, and while we’ll be the first to admit Animals loses its novelty after a little while, it still remains as wackily charming and maddeningly creative as ever as it continues past the halfway point of its first season. And with a second season already on the docket, I can’t wait to see how the freshman sitcom improves upon its originality and cleverness in the episodes to come,. And in addition to Mike and Phil voicing a variety of characters all named, fittingly enough, Mike and Phil, the voice cast features a killer rotating line-up of who’s who comedic actors, including executive producer Mark Duplass, Jason Mantzoukas, Nathan Fielder, Scott Auckerman, Nick Kroll, Aziz Ansari, Kumail Nanjiani, Ellie Kemper, Chelsea Peretti and Adam Scott, to name a few.

It might be a little hard to adjust to how the titular animals never move their mouths when they talk to one another, or some off-color jokes about everything from crabs to abusive relationships. But trust me: give this one a shot. Along the lines of The Life of Times of Tim by way of The League with a little Curb Your Enthusiasm to boot, Animals is — for the right audiences —something worth going wild for.

In the Loop: With nearly 100 distinct credits listed on his IMDb page, I think it’s safe to assume that, for better or worse, you’re familiar with Nicolas Cage, the actor. But the Academy-Award winner hasn’t nearly had as many titles to his name as a director: 2002’s ill-fated Sonny, lead by a young James Franco and serves as the 52-year-old’s sole effort calling the shots. But that’ll soon change later this year, a the man, the myth, the legend himself gets ready for his second go-around behind the director’s chair. And it sounds like a doozy: he’ll soon helm and frontline an adaptation of Joyce Carol Oates’ controversial 2003 novel Rape: A Love Story — which, by the time it hits theaters, will be retitled the more PR-friendly Vengeance: A Love Story.

The Playlist got the scoop on upcoming film, which will center on Niagara Falls Police Detective John Dromoor (Cage) as he’s flagged down by 12-year-old daughter Bethie Maguire on the 4th of July. Based on her testimony, the detective will try to protect her and her family after an unsettling turn-of-events where Teena Maguire, the mother of Bethie, was brutally raped by four meth heads, left for dead and nursed back-to-health by Agnes, Teena’s mother and Bethie’s grandmother. As the criminals are released from prison, John and Teena’s family work hard to put these men back in jail for a full life sentence. And though they have enough damning evidence to do so, the parents of the rapists have a dirty trick up their sleeve: they hire renowned criminal defense attorney Jay Kirkpatrick, who’ll try to shift everyone’s attention away from his clients and onto Teena, thereby challenging her reliability based on her sobriety and sexual promiscuity during the events-in-question.

It most certainly sounds like a chilling, powerful drama on paper, but does Cage have the sensitivity and diligence to make this story work on the big screen? Based on his previous directorial effort, not really. But that was over 14-years-ago, and if there’s one thing Cage is not, it’s predictable. So I want to give him the benefit of the doubt here. There’s the serious potential to have this become a haunting, timely piece, and if Cage lines up his cards right, he might be able to prove himself in another light. Speaking of cards, though, he’s off to a good start. He already got John Mankiewicz, a talented writer from Netflix’s House of Cards, on tap to adapt Oates’ words into the film’s screenplay. My biggest concern is whether or not Cage can direct himself. As he has demonstrated time and time again as an actor, he’s very depend on his directors. So by giving himself full control of his performance, especially with material as heavy as this, I’m worried Cage might not handle himself in the most appropriate manner. But I’ve been wrong before; it’s why I don’t gamble much. Hopefully great filmmakers he’s worked with in the past, including the likes of Martin Scorsese, Joel & Ethan Coen, David Gordon Green, Werner Herzog, Spike Jonze and David Lynch, to simply name a few, taught him a few tricks of the trade.

I promised myself long ago that I’d see Nicolas Cage in anything, and while Vengeance: A Love Story might be a difficult sit, I’ll be there regardless. Cameras roll on this one in Atlanta starting April 4. Expect a film festival run sometime after, maybe as early as this fall.

Femme: Penelope Cruz

Posted by Nathan Vinson on March 1, 2016 at 2:50 PM Comments comments (0)



What’s going on, y’all? Welcome back to our monthly edition of Femme, where we highlight one beautiful woman and talk all bout what makes her special. This month is the “Timeless Beauty” edition, and who is more timeless and beautiful than actress and model Penelope Cruz? Let’s jump right in!


Penelope Cruz was born in the Spring of ’74, but by the young age of 16 she had already made her acting debut in the film “Jamón, jamón,” and from then on it was no looking back.


Cruz appeared in a slew of films from 1997-2005, including “Open Your Eyes,” “The Hi-Lo Country,” “Vanilla Sky,” “Gothika,” and “Sahara.” She received Golden Globes Nominations for her roles in both “Volver” and “Nine,” but it wasn’t until 2008 that she won an Academy Award for her role in “Vicky Cristina Barcelona.” She’s also earned herself a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame.


On the modeling side of things, Penelope Cruz has posed for Esquire and Ralph Loren. She was also the face for L’oréal Cosmetics. Additionally, she’s tried her hand in designing alongside her sister, designing clothes for Mango Clothing Company. Already accomplishing so many things before the age of 42, it’s evident why Penelope Cruz is our pick for the Timeless Beauty.




Why She’s Hot: Penelope Cruz is just fine. Her lips, her eyes, her accent, her body–it just all comes together for her so nicely. She’s like a Spanish version of Cindy Crawford, I swear she doesn’t age! She also has great teeth, which is always a plus in my book. She’s truly a timeless beauty.


What Kind of Man She Likes: We already know the type of man she likes—her husband Javier Bardem. He’s also an accomplished actor. Bardem’s already received a star on the Hollywood Walk of Fame and won an Oscar for Best Supporting Actor in the film “No Country for Old Men.” I think it’s safe to conclude she likes the hard-working, ambitious type.


Things You Should Know: Penelope Cruz is a woman of many talents. She can speak four different languages—Spanish, Italian, English, and French. She was the second Spanish actor to win an Oscar in an acting category—the first was her husband—and she’s the first Spanish actress to ever win an Academy Award. Penelope Cruz is not just a great actress and a beautiful woman, but a trailblazer and record breaker too. And what’s more attractive than beauty and success?


Headphones: The 1975 + Rihanna + More

Posted by Nathan Vinson on February 26, 2016 at 8:00 PM Comments comments (0)


Happy Friday, everyone! Welcome to another edition of Headphones! This week we’ll be covering The 1975’s new album, as well as Rihanna, The Scott Brothers, and much more. Let’s jump right in!




Album Review: 1975’s I like it when you sleep, for you are so beautiful yet so unaware of it


The 1975’s new album is good. Really good.


Digging deep into the heart of 80s pop, 90s eurostep, and modern day electronic, with just a dash of gospel, the alternative rock band stepped up their game from their self titled debut album, while keeping the same spell binding lyrics. This album is exciting, meditative, slinky, and slick all at the same time. With all that being said let’s hop into some of my favorite tracks:


UGH! – This 90s flavored track is quite addictive, which is ironic considering the song is about drugs and its side effects. The trippy keyboard synths and swirling dance beat makes this track one of the best tunes on the album.


She’s American – The ongoing Michael Jackson-esqe guitar riff makes this track for me, as Matty Healy (the lead singer of the British band) tells the story of an encounter with a girl from another world (culturally speaking.)


Somebody Else – The synths and 80s sound continues on this melancholic track, as the singer attempts to describe feelings of “what if” in regards to his ex.


Loving Someone – This is arguably the best song on the album. From the lyrical content about how the media shapes how we think and act, to the Ed Sheeran like half rap/half sing combo the 1975 definitely put in work on this one!


If I Believe You – The gospel influence is all over this one, as Healy questions the existence of God and religion with the help of a spirited choir.


The Sound – The nod to Coldplay is evident on this bubbly track, as the booming bass and, eurostep synths, and Cece Peniston-esque piano runs will have your feet moving non-stop.


The 17-track album is available for purchase on iTunes, and is currently at No. 1 on the overall iTunes Album Chart. I recommend this album to any lover of 80s pop and alternative rock. This adventurous album has set the standard for alt-rock albums so far, who will raise the bar?


The Week in Music


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Country: On Feb. 10, The Scott Brothers, better known as HGTV’s Property Brothers, released the music video for their new single “Hold On.” Although it’s unknown if the folksy, acoustic guitar-lead single is an indication of an upcoming album, I’ll definitely keep my eyes and ear open.


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Pop: Four-man band Lukas Graham released their new song “Mama Said” this past week (which jams by the way) but it’s the band’s somber lead single “7 Years” that gained a surge in popularity. The song reached the top 3 on the overall iTunes charts, and rose 15 spots to No. 20 on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart. Their self-titled debut album is due for release on March 25th.


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Rap: Kanye West FINALLY released his long awaited album, “The Life of Pablo” on Valentine’s Day as a TiDAL exclusive. The album is his most spiritual one yet, and, as expected, is a work of musical art. If you want to give the album a listen, you’d have to get a TiDAL subscription since Kanye announced that the album will never be on iTunes. In the meantime, you can watch his exclusive interview with radio personality Big Boy.


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R&B: After releasing the Travis Scott assisted remix to his song “Waves,” Miguel released an entire EP of remixes for the song, entitled “Rogue Waves.” The best collaboration by far is the stripped, bluesy remix featuring Country superstar Kacey Musgraves, so give it a listen in the video above.


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#AubRih: This week has been a good to Rihanna as her club jam “Work” reached the No. 1 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 Chart. The song, which features Drake, saw a huge gain in sales after she released the double video this past Monday. The two also performed the song this past Wednesday at the BRIT Awards, which aired on Fuse. With all of this attention surrounding the two this past week, expect to see “Work” hold down that No. 1 position for the next few weeks.


That it for the week in music, see you next Friday!

The Buzz: Witches, Lawyers and Soul-Crushing

Posted by Will Ashton on February 24, 2016 at 12:00 AM Comments comments (0)

Since I’m back for a second round of “The Buzz,” perhaps it would be appropriate to make returns the theme of this week’s column. Returns are always tricky; namely, depending on how well you left things off in the first place. And as you might have guessed, I use the word “return” loosely here. It could be the return to the basics or — more appropriately — to formula. Or it could be returning to characters we (or, at least, I) loved before. But it’s all, definitively, about circling around how things were before, specifically exploring how they’ve change or could have changed, and seeing what becomes of them when they do.


Alright, it’s time to face the strain. It’s time to hit the road. Let’s play one more round, if you please. Let’s quit horsing around. Let’s get this one in the books. Have I exhausted my lyric references/movie quotes? Yeah, probably. But let’s get cooking anyway. Let’s break it down, shall we?


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Film: The Witch is the kind of movie I’m delighted and baffled to see get a wide release. The first from A24 — the active supporter and champion behind some of the best and most challenging films of the past couple years, including Ex Machina, The Rover, Under the Skin, Locke and The Spectacular Now, as well as controversial pictures that didn’t quite swing my boat like Spring Breakers, Tusk and The Bling Ring — the widespread release of writer/director Robert Eggers represents the studio asserting their dominance in a time when indie films don’t quite get championed unless, say, they break new mold. Or find their way towards streaming on sites like Netflix.


It’s a gutsy move putting The Witch, a gothic, bleak 1620s colonial thriller, out to a wide audience and expecting massive appeal. In my opinion, it might be too faithful to its barren time and setting, as well as too contemplative and slow-burn, to gain a wide-audience appeal. But much previous sleeper hits It Follows and The Babadook, it’s got a hell of a lot of good buzz coming its way. It certainly won more than a few admires at last year’s Sundance Film Festival — where it premiered and A24 initially picked it up. And I think those who like this sort of demented, homegrown sort of terror will find a lot to love here.


It’s a bit of a challenging sit, though. That much is for certain. Even the film’s biggest fans will likely call it as much. It’s not an easy film to digest, and though it avoids a lot of blood and guts in favor of atmosphere, it’s not necessarily for the squeamish. Though it leaves a lot behind curtains and shadows, it plays its fiddle with a loud baritone, one almost as thick and hypnotic as lead actor’s Ralph Ineson’s bronze voice. It sneaks and stalks, much like last year’s aforementioned It Follows, leaving a lot to be left waiting in suspense and looking for right moments to pounce with the big payoff. When those payoffs come, though, they seal the deal more than a few satisfying ways for those patient and observant enough to care (and as they should). But those expecting something a little sexier, a little quicker to jump scares and guiding its audience with a firm, if familiar, had may not like the apple they’re feed here. It’s traditional in many senses. It’s self-credited as “A New England Folktole,” and gathers its language and period details with a fine attention to detail — something they proudly proclaim in the final credits. It’s a sullen work of old-school filmmaking, carefully considered and meticulous cobbled together to make something spookier rather than terrifying. But let the witch call you out, for if you are the right kind of viewer, it’ll most definitely put a good spell over you.



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Television: With its season two premiere this past Monday, Better Call Saul seemed to finally settle itself into what it wants to be. Though it never lacked assurance per se, the Breaking Bad spin-off prequel/sequel always felt buried in the shadow of its predecessor. And it didn’t help that the show had to justify being considered in the same sentence as the last program created by Vince Gilligan. But what Better Call Saul lacks in BB’s urgency and matter-of-factness, it most definitely makes up for in equaled magnetism, as well as greater patience and contemplation for the actions of its characters. Though it’s often more jokey than Breaking Bad, Better Call Saul is not the comedy some people might expect from the character. But at the same time, it’s also not nearly as heavy and menacing as its brother. It’s a beast of its own nation, but one that clearly comes from the same talented hands, and one’s that have clearly gone through the trenches and now knows what it takes to make a quality program with the maximum amount of potential. And this season two premiere displays just the same amount of wonderful pacing and careful consideration to the small details to often stand out just as bright as this universe once did before on the small screen. It’s no wonder these guys win award-after-award, Emmy after Emmy. They clearly know how to make the little moments count, and the big ones have the payoffs they need to stand triumphant. And though BCS doesn’t necessarily afford the same big moments BB did, it knows how to fertilize the eggs just as well as, if not better than, the first show the creators cooked together.


They know Jimmy, a.k.a. Saul Goodman, a.k.a. Gene, is not nearly as smart, ruthless and cunning as Walter White, even on his best or worse days. And showrunners Gilligan and Peter Gould, the latter the writer who created the character in the first place, not only understand this beautifully but respect him just the same. They make his arc just as thorough as it can be, and it also gives actor Bob Odenkirk the chance to provide some of his best acting to date. Granted, as a man who’s spent a good chunk of his career behind the camera as a writer/director, they’re may not be too much to go from here beyond, you know, Mr. Show, Nebraska and Fargo season one, but that shouldn’t dismiss what greatness Odenkirk provides here. He brings a cunning wit, and a great deal of sensitivity, to the role that couldn’t have been found in many others, as he strives to make his character both flashy and downbeat, prone to talking loud but knowing when he needs to be quiet, diligent and hell-bent but also held-back. It’s a fine balance accumulated by seasoned, extraordinarily talented individuals, and if the rest of the nine episodes live up to this premiere, you should definitely make an appointment to call Saul.



In The Loop: For fans of Andy Daly’s utterly-fantastic series Review, this week came with news both good-and-bad. I’ll start with the good: the show — centered around a life reviewer who ruins his own in the process of giving grades to everything from racism to murder — is, indeed, coming back for a much-justified third season. But here comes the bad news, because here’s the catch: According to THR, this 2016 season will be the show’s very last, and it’ll be abbreviated. What do I mean by abbreviated? Well, I’m not sure exactly.


I don’t know, mostly because the folks at the station don’t quite know yet either. It could be a minimum of three episodes compared to the nine-and-ten episodes we’ve gotten with seasons one and two, respectively. But it could be more, if the creators decide. And they haven’t. Plus, the station isn’t quite sure yet how they’ll roll-out these new and final episodes. It could be released once a week, as it was before. It could be released over the course of one week, going from Tuesday to Wednesday to Thursday, etc. Or it could all be released at once, back-to-back, movie event-style. It’s a mystery at the moment, and among the many details unknown about the upcoming season at this point. But this much is known.


Apparently, the decision to bring back Review for a brief, final run was a mutual one. The program didn’t necessarily win over a ton of fans, but those who loved it, namely critics, were very vocal about their support. And I’d like to think I was one of those people, but I know I wasn’t. Not that I wasn’t vocal about my love for the show; I was, of course. I just can’t really call myself a TV critic, per se…. Okay, I’m getting away from myself. Essentially, the support was what kept the Viacom station interested. And that’s what got us this far. But Daly wants to take the popularity he received in some high-end circles from his show and move on to different projects. And though that’s certainly a little disappointing for those of us who love Review and its fictional host so much, it’s certainly understandable.


Review is one of those shows that could theoretically go on forever, but absolutely shouldn’t. Inspired by the Australian program of the same name, its keepsake only last about 13 episodes, and it’s looking as though Daly’s version will only have maybe 10 or so episodes more. And considering the show’s enclosed universe — and demonstrating how the effects of one review very, very, very much affect the outcome of others — it would be supremely challenging to have this bad boy go on for much longer. Well, unless they want to have their central figure in a wheelchair for a season or two. Plus, it’s very comforting to know Review is going to end on its own terms. Even though both seasons ended at a point which could absolutely be considered the end, there’s a freeing, no-holds-barred liberty that comes from knowing this is most definitely the end, and that they can go out with as big a bang as they damn please (within their budget). I have no doubt they’ll end it spectacularly, and I’m sure I’ll be happy to give it a nice 5-star rating when it comes around.

Headphones: The Grammys + More

Posted by Nathan Vinson on February 19, 2016 at 6:30 PM Comments comments (0)



Welcome to this week’s edition of Headphones! This week we’re covering some slammin’ new music and, in lieu of an album review, we’ll cover the Grammys as well. Let’s jump into it!



The Grammys: This year’s Grammys telecast, which aired this past Sunday on CBS, faced many challenges and issues, which ultimately amounted to a lackluster show. From Bow Wow’s pre-show timing issues, to Rihanna cancelling last minute to Adele’s instrument mishaps, it seemed like the whole awards show was sloppily put together. I think the actual issue is that the Grammys isn’t as revered or respected as it used to be. This stems from a culmination of things, including artists feeling that, year after year, the right winners aren’t chosen, as well as the overall lower standard of the music industry in the modern day. Let’s be real, do you think a Taylor Swift or Justin Bieber could have been as successful as they are today back in the 1980s or 1990s?


I’m not so convinced.


Regardless, the Grammys definitely had its bright moments. Lady Gaga did a vibrant tribute to the late David Bowie. Although some were disappointed, most, including myself, were both excited and entertained by her tribute. James Bay and Tori Kelly came together for an acoustic duet of their songs “Let It Go” and “Hollow,” respectively. Their performance was well received by the public, as “Let It Go” surged to the top five on the iTunes charts, and “Hollow” wasn’t far behind, charting within the top 20.


The best performance, by far, was by Rap Album of the Year recipient Kendrick Lamar. His unapologetically black performance set shock waves through social media, and naturally pissed off a few people in the process, but not as much as Beyonce’s Super Bowl Halftime performance. From the men in chains to the African dance break, Kendrick Lamar covered the entire plight and flight of African Americans in less than four minutes. It was definitely a performance to remember.


In awards, Bruno Mars and Mark Ronson took home Record of the Year for the smash hit “Uptown Funk,” while Meghan Trainor took home the Grammy for Best New Artist, beating out fan favorite Tori Kelly. Ultimately, Taylor Swift proved too undeniable, which resulted in her winning Album of the Year for her No. 1 album, 1989.


This Week in Music: 


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Country: Granger Smith recently announced the upcoming release of his debut album Remington, which will be out the first week in March. To celebrate this release, take a gander at the lead single, “Backroad Song.”


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Pop: This past week saw the settling in of Zayn’s new bombastic single, “PILLOWTALK” and the debut of his new song, “It’s You,” which he performed on "The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon." Check out the former’s video, featuring model and rumored girlfriend Gigi Hadid.


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Rock: The 1975 released another track off their upcoming album, which will be out next Friday, February 26th. This 80s influenced tune, entitled “Somebody Else,” is another great cut from the album, and I will definitely be reviewing it next week. In the meantime, check out their newest single above.


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R&B: FKA Twigs dropped a new single this week, entitled “Good to Love.” Continuing to push the boundaries of Alternative R&B, she scaled back on the production and upped the raw emotion, making this one of my favorite songs by the British beauty.


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Indie: In Indie releases this week, we have Låpsley’s “Love is Blind,” which is the latest single from her upcoming album Long Way Home, which is due for release March 4th. The track is easy on the ears, thanks to the pandering beat and her haunting vocals, and is definitely worth the listen.


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You Will Be Missed: This week saw the unfortunate death of Vanity, who was the lead singer of Prince’s girl band Vanity 6. She went on to have two solo albums released by Motown Records after the group disbanded in 1983. She was 57 years old.


Thank you for joining us, see you next Friday!

Throwback: Carl Cox

Posted by Nathan Vinson on February 18, 2016 at 5:30 PM Comments comments (0)



Think about the modern DJ; you know, like Skrillex, Diplo, Jack U, Major Lazer, David Guetta, Armin van Buuren, etc. Contrary to belief, DJ’s still set trends in music industry. They know what’s going to get the crowd jumping at festivals, raves, and clubs- and it shows. “Lean On,” by Major Lazer and Diplo, was the most played song on Spotify in 2015, and the Chainsmokers’ “ROSES” is sitting pretty at No. 9 on the Hot 100 Billboard Chart. But, before today’s playmakers, there was an originator, an innovator, a trendsetter of the electronic music we’ve come to love today. Who is he, you may ask?


He’s Carl Cox.


At the age of 15, Cox bought his first set of turntables and began working as a for-hire DJ. Born in Manchester, England with Caribbean roots, his sound was a fusion of “New York hip hop,” soul, and electro sounds. His big break arrived in 1988, when he received a residency at the Zap Club in Brighton, England and debuting his tri-turntable skills. For the next three years, built his fan base and continued the crafting of his sound up until the release of his first single in 1991.


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“I Want You (Forever)” is the ultimate dance track, with a pulsing back, masterful mixing, and even a Cece Peniston-like piano riff. This song went on to crack the top 25 on the UK Dance Charts.


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This feel good track rips back and forth between your ears, and the changing of gears is not only refreshing but also revitalizing. Just when you’re about to take a break, the shift is gears gives you the energy to dance on!


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Carl Cox’s sound is evident on this track, which mirrors the formula of “Does it Feel Good to You.” The bass on this one hits harder, and the beat moves at rapid pace.


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This 1996 cut is a little more chaotic- it’s not as put together as his earlier 90s tracks. Still, the beat is easy to move to, and helps keep the party going.


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Cox takes a bit of diversion from his typical sound on this fiery latin themed track. Think along the lines of Ricky Martin making a House music album.


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The track is just like it sounds- futuristic dance music.


Carl Cox has released four albums, spanning from 1996 to 2011 and has received a numerous amount of awards, including DJ of the Year in 1994 and 1995. And he’s far from stopping. He’ll be touring worldwide from March until September, hitting up Miami, Amsterdam, and of course his home country of England along the way.


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His impact on electronic music can’t be quite determined yet, as he’s still actively making music. But it’s safe to say that Carl Cox definitely put his stamp on the music world. 

Nostalgia Critic

Posted by Will Ashton on February 18, 2016 at 4:00 PM Comments comments (0)



Though it’s meant to evaluate the arts, film criticism — or any sort of criticism, really — is an art form in-and-of-itself. It takes great practice, a mastering of the language, an unapologetic gaze, a fiery tongue, and a ferocious respect, not to mention deep admiration, for the content at hand. It takes great dedication to make yourself stand out in general in the field, but in today’s ever-expanding Internet culture, you have even more opportunities to stand out and more chances to fall in the shadows.


Like they say, anyone can have a blog these days. If you can go to a movie, have access to a computer, are literate and can access your Amazon account, you can write a film review. It’s not a matter of if anyone, it’s a matter of how. Much like filmmakers need to continue to expand themselves to make an impression in a sea of providers like Netflix, Hulu, Amazon, direct streaming, iTunes and others, so too must critics establish a regimen, intelligence and skill-set unlike their peers.


This is where Doug Walker excels in our multi-faced industry. The film student-turned-Internet sensation may be the face behind Channel Awesome and That Guy With the Glasses empire, but his claim-to-fame always will reside in the Nostalgia Critic. The titular character admittedly modeled after Lewis Black’s fire-breathing, loud-mouthed on-stage persona, the Critic — as fans should know him best — is far from a newcomer in the video review department. With nearly a decade under his belt at this point behind the unkempt red tie, heavy black jacket, plain white T-shirt and worn-out black baseball cap, he’s exemplified the art of balancing professionalism with everyman. He’s a critic for the ages, but in a time when YouTube invites everyone and their mother with a camera to yell at the camera to get likes, Walker understands the fine textures of comic timing, audience expectations and low-fi special effects.


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Since his early days, there’s always been an unabashedly appreciation for what he loves, but one that isn’t afraid to admit it comes from a tinted, and perhaps overly forgiving, gaze. At the heart of the character is celebrating both the inner child who may have loved the early cartoons of Teenage Mutant Ninja Turtles and the 20-40-year-old adult who may not realize such appreciation came from a simpler, less refined but utterly unabashed love. Such a counterbalance is welcoming, constantly humorous and often touching as a result.


Though always on the verge of grating, through the Critic, Walker always lets his inhabitations fly and unleashes any insecurities and unprofessionalism that have have held in back otherwise. He represents the voice of the film nerd, the cartoon geek, the action lover and the comedy pursuit perhaps not always felt by every teen or older that goes to his or her local multiplex, but easily understood by them all-the-same. His voice is entirely his own, and it’s a boisterous, proud one, but it’s always a highly relatable one too. He doesn’t care if his opinions are different, but if they are he’s at least willing to meet his detractors half-way. Such patience and respect for other people’s opinions is not only necessary in film criticism, but one that only comes from a clear patience, respect and contempt to our audience and your outsider opinions.


It’s not necessarily brave, but it’s commendable all-the-same. And this just one way the Critic has proven himself so diligently through the longevity of his web series. After a brief separation period, where Walker tried but ultimately failed to push himself further as a filmmaker opposed to simply a critic with the short-lived web series Demo Reel, the Nostalgia Critic transitioned from 15-20 minute pieces to 30-45 minute episodes, featuring even more supporting characters, set pieces, surprise cameos, musical interludes and narrative expansions than ever. It might not always work in his favor — some episodes tended to drag a little longer than they really should, while earlier episodes in this format made the stretched-out narrative feel more apparent — but throughout it all, Walker and his team, also including his brother and co-writer Rob, stuck it out, continued to expand themselves and prove all-the-more resilient and even more profound in their craft.


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Can I really call a YouTube series profound? Does the ten-year video streaming site have such viable content among cat videos and the like? Yes, yes I can. And here’s why.


As I’ve stressed earlier, what makes Nostalgia Critic so great, and ultimately so eventually powerful, is its dedication to narrative and longevity. Characters in review criticism are not uncommon nor unfounded before Walker graced us with the Critic, but few have truly pushed the contemporary boundaries available through such a lovingly created on-screen personality. Walker is never afraid to push the boundaries of where his creation can go, even making a movie or three featuring him and various other Channel Awesome personalities. And throughout this, running jokes and all, Walker lets a mythology, liberal sense of time and place and a world of its own materialize gradually through this character. And as he does this, he asks us not to simply look at a movie as good or bad or see what might be wrong or right with it, but ask ourselves why films matter, how do they impact us good or bad and what makes them so special or detestable. It’s the filmmaker and critic coming together at once, and Walker perhaps coming into true peak form, as seen especially in this fall’s Christmas with the Kranks review.


In a time where most people just want to make a brand for themselves in film criticism, Walker also wants to build an adoring legacy beside his. Now, he's using that legacy to help fight the good fight and make certian YouTube content rights are exercised properly. Just another step into affirming his place on not only the Internet, but in film criticism and in the Hollywood system. And that's what makes him so exemplary.

Headphones: New Music, Who's This?

Posted by Nathan Vinson on February 12, 2016 at 5:30 PM Comments comments (0)



Welcome back to another edition of Headphones! The last couple of weeks have seen the return of many popular artists, and this week we highlight a few of them, from 2015 breakout stars like Fetty Wap and G-Eazy to mainstays Future and Coldplay. Let’s jump right into it!



Future ‘s EVOL: A Review: Future’s (sort of) back! Last week, the King of the South dropped another album on us, entitled EVOL, after a lackluster mixtape release just last month. Filled with fiery productions and lyrical content, Future continues to widen the gap between him and other trap artists, overshadowing the release of both Wiz Khalifa and Young Thug’s newest projects.


On a positive note, the album is very cohesive; the tracks flow from one to the next seamlessly, as did his last solo studio album, DS2. The best song, by far, is Low Life, featuring The Weeknd on vocals and Metro Boomin’ on production. The Canadian superstar does what he does best, as his melancholic vocals bleat into a burst of Metro Boomin’ magic. Future slithers and slinks on his verse, finishing the culmination of one of my favorite hip-hop songs this year.


If I’m being really honest, I really don’t expect too much of Future; he knows his sound, he has his fanbase (also known as #FutureHive), and he makes his money. Although he won’t push any artistic boundaries, this has proven to be a simple, winning combination for the rapper. If only he can win in his personal life as much as his musical one, he’d be completely unstoppable. This past Tuesday, R&B songstress and baby mama No. 4 Ciara sued the rapper for $15 million for claims of defamation. Ouch! As EVOL is fireball-ing for the No. 1 spot on the Billboard 200, let’s see if Ciara will burn a hole in his pockets with this lawsuit.



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Country: Anything but a “Whisper”: Chase Rice also released a new single, entitled “Whisper,” this week. The country-meets-EDM track is just another indicator of the transformation of country from a “classic” sound to a more current, pop sound. I always enjoy a good push of the boundaries, especially when it comes to music. So, push on Chase Rice!


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EDM: Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now: Speaking of top 10 hits, The Chainsmoker’s “Roses” is sitting pretty at number eight spot on the Billboard Hot 100 chart this week. However, they haven’t let up on the gas pedal, as they released “Don’t Let Me Down” last Friday, a radio friendly tune which features singer Daya.


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Hip Hop: On the Rise: Rapper G-Eazy has received great responses from the masses since the December release of his 3rd album, When It’s Dark Out. His single “Me, Myself, & I” which features singer Bebe Rexha, rose to the number 10 spot on the Billboard Hot 100 this week. Fueled by strong sales, it’ll be no surprise if this song were to make a run for the top five. G-Eazy is currently touring as well, with most of his shows already sold out. So congratulations G-Eazy on all the success!


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Pop: Fetty’s Return: Fetty Wap also makes a return to the music scene with the official release of his new single, “Jimmy Choo.” This song’s been hot long before now, thanks to a dance video of two extra-turnt girls went viral. Welcome back, Mr. Wap!


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Rock: Coldplay Sales Surge.Thanks to colorful performance at this past Sunday’s Super Bowl Halftime Show, which featured both Beyonce and Bruno Mars, Coldplay saw a slew of sales in both past albums and singles. So in honor of Coldplay’s huge gain in sales, enjoy the video to one of my absolute favorite Coldplay tracks, “Clocks.”



Kanye is Still… Kanye-ing: After a problematic Twitter war with Wiz Khalifa and Amber Rose, Kanye has decided to focus on the upcoming release of his clothing line and “Yeezy” shoe collection, as well as putting the finishing touches on his ever-title-changing new album (Which is currently titled The Life of Pablo.) His week hasn’t come without drama, though, including an apology to Michael Jordan, a spat with shoe company Puma, and a Twitter challenge, all through his Twitter account. Oh, Kanye, we just want the album.



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You Will Be Missed: This week included the unfortunate passing of Maurice White, who was a co-founding member of the legendary Earth, Wind & Fire. This came after their recent induction into the Grammy Hall of Fame this year. He was 74 years old.


Thank you for joining us for this week’s edition of Headphones. See you next Friday!  

The Buzz: Deadpool, Clowns and Amy Schumer

Posted by Will Ashton on February 12, 2016 at 1:00 PM Comments comments (0)



This week doesn’t come sour in the comedy department. Whether it’s highlighting a return-to-form for the comic book genre, or recognizing the bizarre near-brilliance of one of television’s most promising freshmen dramedies, or simply looking out for what’s to come from one of the comic scene’s most prominent stars in-the-moment, this week is all about celebrating the laughs, as well as some of the tears that sometimes come beside them. 


For laughter doesn’t come without some pain — whether internally or through others. And though this week’s lookout will find pain comes from various different directions, one facet remains true: you have to live to make it through. Or in the case of one character in this list, learn to live, almost die, and seek revenge on those who turned you into the half-life you are right now. But really, let’s not dig too deep into specifics. The general gist is the same. Like I said, laughter comes from pain, or sometimes not being able to feel pain. Like one guy I’ll talk about pretty soon. Dammit, there I go again….


Anyway, this will be less about healing through humor, but knowing how the yuks can come from the deepest, most introspective of places at times. And also how you can learn to push yourself to become a stronger person, a more willful individual and a triumphant talent. All these examples recognize the talents of some of Hollywood’s most acutely talented, and how they’re working with-and-against their most natural talents to produce works of art that do, or will, make the funny bone department stronger in at least some small ways. Or hopefully will, as I’ll explain later as I dig deeper. Alright, let’s stop clowning around. Take a look at what this week brings — or continues to bring, in one specific case — in the worlds of comedy and drama, and somewhere in-between.



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Film: Deadpool is the kind of balls-to-the-wall, fist-to-the-air, middle finger-to-the-world triumphant the superhero genre hasn’t experienced in ages. Gleefully sophomoric-but-loving compacted, the feature directorial debut of Tim Miller — an animator whom you may know best for being behind the ultra-trippy opening credits to David Fincher’s The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo — is an exuberantly crass piece of work. A confident and unapologetically low-ball effort that promises some real potential from 20th Century Fox’s men-in-tights division, which is something they really, really need at this point. Not only to stand toe-to-toe with their MCU and Warner Bros./DC brothers, but to rebound after such an embarrassingly shoddy fall with last year’s failed Fantastic Four reboot. They could use all the help they can get at this point, superhero-aided or otherwise. Thankfully, Deadpool is a very nice change-of-pace, and one not only the studio needs, but one the genre deserves now too. 


The titular anti-hero based on Rob Liefeld and Fabian Nicieza less-than-iconic cartoon creation is the role Ryan Reynolds was born to play. After two failed attempts in the superhero department — not only fairing poorly in the role-in-question in 2009’s X-Men Origins: Wolverine, but also teaming up with DC to horrendous results for 2011’s ill-fated Green Lantern — all is more-than-forgiven with the handsome former A-lister, as the actor/producer gives each-and-every-take his all, and then some. Improvising like a pro, strutting his stuff like it’s nobody business and manically firing on all cylinders, it’s exactly the sort of comeback the actor needs at the moment, and one the charming-as-could-be performer most definitely deserves. He packs more wit, heart and soul in each second of Deadpool than Avengers: Age of Ultron could obtain in its entire, exhausting 142 minutes of drab. He and Miller, aided diligently by a fateful-as-hell screenplay by Zombieland scribes Rhett Reese and Paul Wernick, wallop a hell of a cinematic punch, and the blow-to-the-brains comic book movies need so desperately right now. Did I mention how we need this movie right Now? Okay good, I wanted to make sure that came across.

 

 

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Television: FX’s Baskets plays a little like a sad lullaby sung by a disgruntled, 40-something chain smoker from Albuquerque. It’s poetic, lyrical in an off-tune sort of way, and even mildly cathartic. But it’s very afraid to let its offbeat, drily astute humor shine through, in moments both reflective and often very, very sad. But it’s less a reflection piece than it is the sort of dramatic comedy you’d get from blending the sensibilities of Todd Solondz, Gregg Turkington and Louis C.K. in a blender, the latter credited as co-creator and co-writer for the pilot. It’s exactly the sort of mid-life chapter Zach Galifiankis should have at this point in his career.


The show (I hesitate to call it either a sitcom or drama) centers on Chip Baskets (Galifiankis), a French-trained clown who returns to his small-town living in Bakersfield, California when money dries up for school in Paris and his inability to speak French essentially flunks him out anyway. It only takes a couple months back home for his French wife Sarah (Malia Pyles) to leave him as she works her way towards a green-card, and the only place Chip can find employment for his art is with a local rodeo show, where his craftsmanship goes largely unappreciated. That is, unless he’s hit by a passing bull. His only ally comes from an insurance saleswoman named Martha (an absolutely excellent Martha Kelly), whose monotone voice and reaction to everything never fails to earn a quick laugh, and outside of his time in the ring, Chip struggles to deal with the pressures defined by his more-successful twin brother Dale (also Galifiankis) and their expectation-heavy mother (Louie Anderson).


Throughout this all, Baskets bounces habitually between the beautiful and the tragic and, throughout its ever-defining low-key voice, it speaks to something painfully majestic and heartbreakingly true. And though it’s not completely well-defined yet, it’s quietly finding itself throughout these past three episodes. Show creators Galifiankis, C.K. and Portlandia’s Jonathan Krisel, the director behind every episode thus far, haven’t quite figured out where they’d like to explore Chip or what exactly they want us to feel about his personality. Are we supposed to root for him, for instance, and are we meant to laugh or pity him more in its failed attempts to define himself as an artiste? But in that middle ground, they’ve already developed a character filled with layers of emotions, heartache and exploration, and it’s hard to believe such character work will fall to the waist side as Chip himself continues spiraling downward in his professional career. Hopefully we’ll get the last laugh in the end.


In the Loop: Just as several comedic performers have done before her, Amy Schumer is going to take a turn for the serious in her next role. After displaying some massively impressive dramatic chops towards the final act of last year’s Trainwreck, Inside Amy Schumer’s namesake will take a supporting turn in the sure-to-be-heavy PTSD drama Thank You for Your Service, the directorial debut of American Sniper screenwriter Jason Hall. Like his last, Oscar-nominated screenplay, Hall’s film will take a look at the aftermath of soldiers from the Iraq war, focused on three American veterans who struggle to return to living back home as the memories of war continue to haunt them. Based on David Finkel’s book of the same name, the details behind which character Schumer embodies in the upcoming film are vague at the moment. But TheWrap notes she will not be playing any of the soldiers-in-question.


Those roles, in fact, are rounded out by fellow rising superstar Miles Teller, as well as relative newcomers Beulah Koale and Joe Cole (cool names, pun intended). Also joining Schumer in the supporting cast are Haley Bennett, Scott Haze, Keisha Castle-Hughes, Omar Dorsey, Brad Beyer and Jayson Warner Smith. Production is already underway in Atlanta, and expect this one to hit the festival rounds later this year. There’s a chance Schumer may continue to hear her name announced around the awards scene. We’ll have to find out for sure, though, later this fall.


Meanwhile, this is hardly the only project in-the-works for the busy-as-ever Schumer. In addition to working on the newest season of her Comedy Central sketch program, she’s also working on her next starring/writing vehicle with director Jonathan Levine (The Night Before) and producer Paul Feig (Bridesmaids, this year’s Ghostbusters). It’s unclear when exactly this one will shape up into production, but with the more-than-exciting news yesterday that Goldie Hawn will break her over-a-decade-long absence from the silver screen to star as Schumer’s mother in the untitled vacation-from-hell comedy, expect development to work up shortly. Additionally, Schumer has also recently co-written a new comedy script with her Hollywood BFF Jennifer Lawrence, which both stars are expected to star in as sisters. So expect her to star in that too, at least whenever both of them can find time in their busy, busy, busy schedules.

Artist You Should Know: Bryson Tiller

Posted by Nathan Vinson on February 9, 2016 at 1:00 PM Comments comments (0)



It’s that time again! This week’s edition of “Artists You Should Know” covers Kentucky native Bryson Tiller, who had a huge year in 2015 thanks to his debut album, T R A P S O U L. His R&B crooning meets trap influenced production has proven to be a winning combination for the 23 year-old, and 2016 is definitely his for the taking. Let me fill you in on some of his hottest tracks:


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Bryson Tiller – Don’t: On this track, Tiller’s already signature sound is most evident. This breakout hit has the three essentials: competition, crooning, and confidence, and all over some Metro Boomin-esque beats. Lyrically, Tiller is asserting himself as worthy of a woman’s attention and respect, and advises her against making the same mistake of choosing a no-good suitor over him. He said it himself: “somebody gotta step up/ girls I’m that somebody so I’m next up.”


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Bryson Tiller – Sorry Not Sorry: Tiller’s braggadocio is in full swing here, as he rebukes a former lover from trying to slide back in his life since his newfound success. He even goes on to call himself “God Tiller,” Kanye-ing all over this Timbaland produced beat.


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Bryson Tiller – Break Bread feat King Vory: This is the first glimpse that the world got of Tiller and his sing-rap style. While the world was fawning over “Don’t,” I was still dabbing to this fiery track right here, featuring rap artist King Vory.


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Bryson Tiller – Exchange (Audio): Young Tiller keeps it 100 on this lyrically timeless tune. We’ve all had that one that got away – and vowed that, if given a second chance, we would do right by them. He reminisces on the past and speaks on the lessons he learned over the staccato production and eerie synths. (Sidenote: he sampled the on-going distorted vocal run from K.P. and Envy’s “Swing My Way,” just so you know.)

Femme: Olivia Munn

Posted by Nathan Vinson on February 3, 2016 at 2:00 PM Comments comments (0)



So, welcome back for another edition of Femme! This week we’re covering rising star Olivia Munn. Don’t worry, I didn’t know who she was until about 45 minutes ago. But, almost is never enough, and never late is better, or something to that effect. Let’s jump right in!


Olivia Munn began her acting career in 2004, but didn’t get her first big break until 2006, where she played Mily Acuna in “Beyond the Break,” a television series for The N network. After the show, she went on to become a correspondent for “Attack of the Show!,” a daily show that covered new technological advances and pop culture topics. She left the show in 2010.


Next, Munn moved to Comedy Central’s “The Daily Show” from 2010-2011, where she did little segments alongside host John Stewart. After her gig here, she did small roles here and there. However, 2015 would be her biggest year yet. She was cast in the Johnny Depp lead film “Mortdecai.”


Although the film bombed at the box office, she was able to bounce back with some major roles. In 2016 alone, she was cast as Maya Cruz in the Kevin Hart/Ice Cube comedy “Ride Along 2.” She’s also been cast as Psylocke in the upcoming “X-Men: Apocalypse” film, which comes out in theaters May 27 (And I will definitely be seeing that; comic book nerds unite!)


Why She’s Hot: Her half Irish, half Chinese heritage works very well for her. It looks like she’s been sipping from the fountain of youth because she is 35 years old! In addition to her stunning face, she’s in tip top shape; her body is bangin’, to say the least. How does she stay so fit? It’s all thanks to her 80/20 diet, where eighty percent of her diet consists of fruits and vegetables, and the other 20 percent is a mix of everything else.


What Kind of Man She Likes: Well, she certainly likes Aaron Rodgers. After a two-year relationship with actor Joel Kinnaman, Munn rather quickly moved on with the star quarterback of the Green Bay Packers, and they’ve been inseparable ever since. In fact, just recently rumors started flying that two were engaged, but Munn has denied those claims. What’s crazy is that Rodgers is just an athletic, bulked up version of Kinnaman. So let’s just say her type is tall, with sad eyes. That seems accurate enough!


Some Things You Should Know: Munn didn’t start off as an actress; she’s college educated. She first graduated from The University of Oklahoma and majored in Journalism, with two minors in both Japanese and one in Dramatic Arts. She went on to intern at Fox Sports as a sideline reporter before she dropped everything to move to Los Angeles to pursue her acting career. Additionally, according to her Instagram, Munn has also snagged her first executive producing gig for an upcoming drama for the CW Network.


The Curse of "Doing Too Much"

Posted by Justin Tucker on December 23, 2015 at 4:20 PM Comments comments (0)



Let me begin by expressing my sincerest appreciation to those individuals who understand and live by the phrase, “Less is more.” These are generally the guys who may not necessarily own the room, but are capable of holding their own as they remain true to their style preferences. To be completely honest, these guys should be given a lot more recognition than what they probably receive. Let’s think about it for a moment – these guys practically invented “minimalism,” the movement which currently has every Kanye fan dressing as though they’ve been without shelter for months (but can somehow afford a pair of shoes worth 2-month’s rent in Manhattan). How about the color choices? It goes without saying that these simple guys have invested a lot of time, energy and money filling their closets with neutrals such as the usual black, white, navy and grey. They’ve seemingly mastered the art of putting together effortless ensembles on a daily basis by utilizing these staples. I feel as though the world could use many more of this type of guy. He knows and is confident in who he is and what he brings to the table, and doesn’t feel the need to go the extra mile to show anyone up.

 

Now, if you take a look on the other end of the spectrum, you will more than likely find what I like to call “fashion junkies.” These are the guys who are committed to filling their wardrobes with the most in-your-face designer pieces. They will go to great lengths in order to ensure that they look like they spent a fortune on their clothes, all the way down to the brand logo belt buckle. Even if they can’t really afford to spend an entire paycheck on a scarf, the fast-fashion market has become the place for persons with smaller budgets to get in on the most stylish contest.

 

So what is it about these fashion enthusiasts that seem to make our skin crawl? Might I add that not all of them take things to the extreme when it comes to displaying their most prized wearable possessions. But when it comes to those who don’t understand that fine line between doing just enough and doing entirely too much, these are a few pet peeves that I often find myself scratching my head at the sight of:

 

  • The Label Whore – Let me be clear in saying that I am not at all jealous of the fact that you can afford a Gucci belt or a pair of odd-looking shoes from the newest Yeezy or Rick Owens line. What makes me a little uncomfortable, however, is your decision to also throw on those True Religion jeans with a Balmain studded biker jacket. Oh, and who can miss the polo jockey player on your shirt, or the Lacoste alligator on your baseball cap. Hopefully you are beginning to see my point, because quite frankly, I’m not even sure if you can even properly pronounce all of the labels currently on your back (that’s jhee-von-shee, not gi-vaun-chy).

 

  • "Bedazzled Bill" – How about you try explaining to me what all those extra symbols on your jeans represent. Having a little trouble, are we? Don’t worry; I’m sure I can figure it out on my own. I suppose the eagle has something to do with freedom, right? Better yet, why don’t you talk what all those studs on your cap and bag do for your confidence levels? Need I say anymore? The only thing that having embellishments all over your clothes will get you is a one-way ticket back to grade school. Then you’d probably be sent home and ordered to change, as you would prove to be a distraction to your classmates. Long story short: prints are okay, bedazzled garments are catastrophic.

 

  • The Circus Has Gone Awry – It’s one thing to want to show off how much money you’ve spent on your clothes, and it’s another to want to have extra sparkles and studs, but one thing I absolutely cannot stand for is an onslaught of atrocious prints in one look. Sure, there’s nothing wrong with stepping out of your shell with a glen plaid (or even houndstooth) suit – actually, I wouldn’t mind investing in one myself. But things easily got out of hand when you decided that a checked shirt and striped tie would bring it home. Don’t flatter yourself too much, because I’m saddened to say that you are not even the worst offender. That’s right; unfortunately you were outdone by the courageously foolish chap in the head-to-toe multi-colored floral get-up. Excuse me while my eyes recover.

 

Let us now return to our pals, those guys with the simplistic values and conservative wardrobes. Let us take a moment to appreciate them some more, for they keep us from pulling all of our hair out one strand at a time.

Out on the Town: Hitting the Slopes

Posted by Justin Tucker on December 16, 2015 at 8:30 PM Comments comments (0)



Heavy-duty waterproof coat? Check. Chunky sweater? Check. Durable snow boots? Check.

 

It looks like someone’s preparing for the annual family ski trip. It’s probably the one time of the year when many of us actually don’t mind being out in the cold. Who wouldn’t want to take part in racing down the side of a mountain, covered in manmade snow (depending on where you go), at high speeds? What begins as a fun-filled family trip soon turns into one of the most intense competitions of the season, as you prepare to earn your stripes and claim bragging rights as the most skilled skier in the bloodline.

 

While all the real action exists out on the slopes, that only proves to make up a small portion of what the average ski trip entails. I guess maybe we shouldn’t forget about those special individuals who would rather spend the entire trip back at the cabin, soaking in the hot tub. You probably know who those people are in your own family: that one aunt with bad knees, your uncle’s new girlfriend whom no one knows, or the teenager who is “too cool” to hang with the rest of the family. The great thing about ski trips is that there are generally plenty of activities for everyone to partake in. That includes some good shopping at some of the local gems of the nearby town, ice skating, horseback riding, and the delicious treats offered by the area’s best mountainside restaurants.

 

Now before you finish loading up the car and turn on the GPS, it’s important to ensure that you have absolutely everything you need for an eventful (and hopefully memorable) weekend. The snow may be produced by machines, but that doesn’t mean you can’t still return home with frost bite. The following items will have you feeling like the king of the mountain:



 

  • Triclimate Jacket – If you thought I was about to send you up into the high alps without a proper jacket, you’ve got another thing coming. Allow me to steer you in the right direction by suggesting the Apex Storm Peak Triclimate Jacket by The North Face. The 3-in-1 jacket system protects against cold, wet and windy conditions while also regulating body temperature. (Cost: $299)

 

  • Space Heater – Making it back to the cabin in one piece doesn’t necessarily mean you’re out of the woods just yet in terms of the cold. After cuddling around the campfire drinking hot chocolate and telling stories for hours, the thought of retreating to an icy bedroom at the end of the night is less than ideal. This is where the Lasko Tower Heater from Target comes in handy. With 3 different heat settings, this space heater is guaranteed to keep you warm throughout the night. (Cost: $40)


  • Lip Balm – You’ve got a hat for your head, some gloves for your hands and sunglasses to protect those eyes. Way to be prepared! But aren’t you missing something – or maybe you didn’t happen to notice your lips turning into cracked frozen deserts? With Baxter of California’s Hydro Salve Lip Balm, dry lips will become a thing of the past. (Cost: $10)


  • Leather Journal – The peaceful ambiance of the snowy hills is enough to soothe even the most active minds. While everyone else is enjoying a nap before Round 2 out on the slopes, take advantage of the silence by jotting down a few thoughts – or maybe the latest poem you’ve spent weeks formulating in your head – in your Genuine Leather Raw Journal by Profound Co. Whatever you choose to put down is up to you. Simply allow the freedom of a blank page to guide you. (Cost: $48)

 

  • Digital Camera – Don’t miss a single moment of family fun by documenting every attempt on a pair of skis (including the many falls if you’re with novices) with the Fujifilm X-A2 Digital Camera. With the superb image quality that the Fujifilm's X-Series is famous for, you’ll be able to capture the perfect self-portraits and stunning shots of the majestic mountainous landscape. (Cost: $550)

A Glass of Red for Your Steak

Posted by Justin Tucker on December 16, 2015 at 7:30 PM Comments comments (0)



Is it a neutral or a statement color? This is the question many men appear to be asking when it comes to the shade of red which sits somewhere between burgundy and that of red wine. It has always been a color of great prestige, as was commonly worn during more formal events of the Victorian era. Even today, it isn’t uncommon to witness what many might perceive as a risk-taking celebrity sporting the rather elegant hue in the form of a fancy dinner jacket on some sort of red carpet. It must be no surprise that we are still drawn to this particular hue year after year.

 

These days, it appears as though fairly little is off-limits. Men all over the world are beginning to realize that with risk comes great reward, especially in the realm of dressing. Colors once finite within a man’s wardrobe are now experiencing new life, as designers have begun pushing boundaries in terms of silhouettes, fabric choices and color usage. No longer limited to simple dinner jackets and morning coats, claret red has been reinvented in everything from sporty parkas and slick bomber jackets to fine knits and tailored suiting. Let’s not forget about the assemblage of accessory pieces, including luxury scarves, leather holdalls and only the finest shoes in the high shine shade of wine.

 

High-end labels including Hermes and Burberry – both famous for collections exhibiting the most exquisite tones – are leaders of the pack when it comes to adding a punch of rich colors to otherwise muted collections. Other labels such as Lanvin and Louis Vuitton sought to recreate the business wardrobe by incorporating burgundy hues into smart styles. Then there is Paul Smith with a rock-inspired collection of washed-out burgundy shades.

 

What makes this color so easy to incorporate into the average wardrobe is that it pairs well with most other on-trend, neutral colors. With a number of different styles now being produced, there’s no better time to start adding some richness to your wardrobe. Check out the following must-haves and start exploring your street-style-meets-sophisticated side:



 

From Top Left to Right: Next burgundy 3-piece suit: $194; Bonobos 'Foulard' slim fit print sport shirt: $98; Drake’s slub silk tie: $195; Dr Martens Adrian tassel loafers: $188; Brooks Brothers leather dress belt: $98; Nixon ‘The Sentry’ leather strap watch: $150; Banana Republic leather pouch: $80; Dolce & Gabbana ‘The One’ for men: $37.

Greek Cuisine

Posted by Jamar St. on December 12, 2015 at 7:00 PM Comments comments (0)



For the second installment of the Entrée column is the hidden but magnificent wonders of Greek food. Being known for their delicious Gyros, Greek cuisines is a Mediterranean cuisine that has a modern Greek palette that includes olive oil, lemon juice, assorted vegetables, and various herbs, grains and bread. The meats that are included in Greek cuisine includes lamb, poultry, rabbit, and pork. From their beautiful islands and small houses, Greek cuisine is a one of a kind cuisine that any millennium should try.




 

Daktyla

Ingredients

For the dough:

  • 4 cups self-raising flour
  • pinch of salt
  • 2/3 cups vegetable oil
  • 1-2 cups lukewarm water

For the filling:

  • 1 kg fresh anari (mizithra) cheese*
  • 4-5 tablespoons sugar
  • 1 teaspoon ground cinnamon
  • 3-5 tablespoons rose water
  • oil for frying
  • icing sugar for dusting

Directions

  • To make the dough, mix the salt with the flour and pour in the oil. Using your fingertips rub the oil into the flour until the mixture resembles fine breadcrumbs.
  • Knead with as much water as needed to make a firm dough. Cover with a kitchen towel for half an hour.
  • To make the filling, mash the anari with a fork. Mix in the cinnamon, sugar and rose water to make a fluffy mixture.
  • Roll out the dough into a thin sheet and cut it into small pieces of 8x10 cm each. Place about 2 teaspoons of filling on each piece. Fold the pastry over the filling to enclose it completely and cut using a glass or cutter to make half a circle shape. Continue with the rest of the dough and filling.
  • Heat the oil and fry the bourekia a few at a time, until golden brown. Drain the bourekia in a strainer and transfer to a platter.
  • When cool sprinkle with icing sugar. You will get approximately 60 bourekia.

 

 

 


Greek Salad

Ingredients

 

Dressing

  • 6 tablespoons olive oil
  • 1 1⁄2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tablespoon red wine vinegar
  •  2 garlic cloves, minced
  • 1 teaspoon dried oregano (Mediterranean is best)

 

Salad

  • 1 head lettuce, torn into bite-size pieces ((I use Romaine)
  • 3 large plum tomatoes, seeded and coarsely chopped
  • 1 English cucumber, peeled and coarsely chopped (the long, thin, almost seedless ones)
  • 1 medium red onion, cut into thin rings and soaked for 10 minutes in a small bowl of ice water to make it less sharp
  • 1 small green pepper, cut into thin rings
  • 3⁄4 cup kalamata olive
  • 3⁄4 cup crumbled feta cheese

 

Directions

  • Whisk dressing ingredients together until blended.
  • Add seasoning for desired taste.
  • Drain onion from ice water and pat dry with paper towels.
  • Combine all salad ingredients, except cheese, in large bowl.
  • Toss with dressing.
  • Sprinkle cheese over and serve.

 

 



Giouvesti

Ingredients

  • 1 kg/35 ounces veal (shoulder), cut into portions
  • 2 medium red onions, finely chopped
  • 2 carrots, sliced (1 cm thick)
  • 1 tin of chopped tomatoes
  • 2 tbsps. tomato puree
  • 1 tsp sugar
  • 1 glass of red wine
  • 1 cinnamon stick
  • 1/2 cup of olive oil
  • 250g orzo pasta (9 ounces) ( kritharaki )
  • 100g grated feta cheese (5 ounces)

 

Directions

  • Wipe the meat with paper towels. Heat 1/2 of a cup of olive oil into a pan, add the chopped onions and carrots and sauté for 5 minutes in medium-low heat.
  • Turn up the heat and add the veal; brown the meat on all sides until crusty.
  • Stir in the tomato purée and pour in the red wine; wait for the wine to evaporate.
  • Add the tinned tomatoes, a glass of water, the sugar, the cinnamon stick and a good pinch of salt and pepper.
  • Turn the heat down and simmer with the lid on for about 45 minutes.
  • In the meantime, heat another pan, add 3 tbsps of olive oil and the orzo pasta and sauté, until golden.
  • Place the orzo pasta in an oven tray along with the meat and sauce (remove the cinnamon stick) and mix. Cover the tray with some aluminum foil and bake in preheated oven at 180C for 30 minutes.
  • Remove the aluminum foil, add a glass of water if needed, and put back in the oven for another 15 minutes.
  • Sprinkle with some grated kefalotyri or any hard yellow cheese.



 

 

Kotosoupa (Chicken and Lemon Soup)

Ingredients

For the Broth:

  • 1 whole chicken, 3 1/2 to 4 lbs.
  • 2-3 celery stalks with leaves, cut in half
  • 1 onion, peeled
  • Salt and pepper to taste

For the Soup:

  • 2 tbsp. olive oil
  • 2 onions, diced
  • 2 carrots, diced
  • 2 celery stalks, diced
  • 1 large potato, diced
  • 1 bay leaf
  • 1 15 oz. can diced tomatoes, with liquid
  • 1/2 cup orzo pasta
  • Salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste

Directions

  • Clean the chicken and remove skin and excess fat. Add 8 cups water to a large soup pot and add chicken, celery, onion, salt and pepper. Bring liquid to a boil and simmer partially covered for approximately 45 minutes.
  • Remove the chicken and set aside to cool. Discard onion and celery. Carefully strain the broth through a fine sieve and reserve. (If you choose to de-fat the stock, you can refrigerate it overnight and simply skim the fat off the top before using).
  • Heat the olive oil in the soup pot and add onions, carrots, celery, and potato. Sauté the vegetables for 5-10 minutes or until tender. Return the broth to the pot, add bay leaf and diced tomatoes and 1/2 cup orzo pasta.
  • Simmer partially covered for at least 45 minutes until vegetables are cooked through. Stir the pot occasionally so that the pasta does not stick to the bottom.
  • While the soup simmers, remove the chicken meat from the carcass. Dice the chicken and return to the pot to be heated. You may need to add a little bit of water or canned chicken broth to supplement the liquid in the pot. Add salt and freshly ground black pepper to taste.



 

 

Gigandes Palki (Greek Baked Giant Beans)

Ingredients

  • 500g gigantes beans (17 ounces)
  • 1/2 cup olive oil
  • 1 small clove of garlic
  • 1 large onion, finely chopped
  • 4-5 tbsps parsley, finely chopped
  • 1/2 tbsp celery, finely chopped
  • 1/2 cup of hot water
  • 400g (14 ounces) tinned chopped tomatoes or 600g (21 ounces) ripped fresh tomatoes, grated
  • 1 tsp dried oregano
  •  Salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

Directions

  • Prepare the gigantes (Gigsntes) plaki, start by soaking the gigantes beans overnight into plenty of water. Drain them into a colander and rinse with plenty of water.
  • Place the gigantes in a large pan with cold water, enough to cover them, add a pinch of sea salt and bring to a boil. Turn the heat down and simmer for 45 minutes, until tender but not cooked. Drain them in a colander and set aside.
  • In the meantime, pour into a large baking pan the olive oil, add the chopped onions, the whole garlic clove (peeled) and bake at 180C, until softened and slightly colored (approx. 15 minutes).
  • Turn the baking pan out of the oven; add the gigantes beans (drained), the celery, the parsley, ½ cup of hot water and season with salt and pepper. Put back in the oven and bake for 30 minutes.
  • Turn the baking tray out of the oven, blend the gigantes beans lightly with a wooden spoon and pour in the grated tomatoes or plum tomatoes. Season with salt and pepper, add a pinch of oregano and bake the gigantes plaki further for 50-60 minutes at 180C, until the beans are soft and tender and the sauce thickens.
  • Place in a large pan with enough water to cover them and bring to the boil. Boil for 5 minutes, drain them and place into a large baking pan, along with all of the ingredients, cover with some aluminum foil and bake at 180C for approx. 2 hours. The last 30 minutes, bake without the aluminum foil.

 

 

 

 

Galaktaboureko (Custard-Filled Phyllo Pastry)

Ingredients

For the filling:

  • 6 cups milk
  • 1-1/4 cup fine semolina (you can substitute Farina)
  • 6 egg yolks
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter
  • For the syrup:
  • 1 cup sugar
  • 1 cup water
  • 2 inch piece of lemon rind
  • 2 inch piece of orange rind
  • Juice of 1/2 a lemon
  • 1 lb. phyllo pastry sheets
  • 1/2 lb. unsalted butter, melted (for brushing)

 

Directions:

  • In a large saucepan, heat the milk over medium high heat until just boiling. Add the semolina and stir with a whisk. Lower the heat to medium low.
  • Using a whisk, beat the egg yolks with the sugar. Ladle a cup of the warmed milk into the egg mixture to temper and then add the egg yolk mixture to the pot. Continue to cook over medium low heat until the cream starts to thicken, stirring continuously.
  • When the custard has thickened, remove from heat and stir in the vanilla extract and the butter. Set aside.
  • Unwrap the Phyllo
  • Carefully remove the Phyllo roll from the plastic sleeve. Most packages come in 12 x 18 inch sheets when opened fully. Using a scissor or sharp knife, cut the sheets in half to make two stacks of 9x12 inch sheets. To prevent drying, cover one stack with wax paper and a damp paper towel while working with the other.
  • Preheat the oven to 350 degrees.
  • Assemble the Galaktoboureko: Using a pastry brush, brush the bottom and sides of a 9 x 12 rectangular pan. Use approximately half the phyllo sheets for the bottom of the pastry. Begin by layering sheets one by one in the bottom of the pan, making sure to brush each one thoroughly with melted butter.
  • When you have almost layered half the sheets, drape two sheets of phyllo so that they extend half in the pan and half out of the pan horizontally.
  • Add the custard in an even layer on top of the sheets, smoothing the surface with a spatula.
  • Fold the phyllo sheet flaps in over the custard layer. Add the remaining sheets on top, brushing each sheet with melted butter.
  • Before baking, score the top layer of phyllo (making sure not to puncture the filling layer) to enable easier cutting of pieces later.
  • Place the pan in the freezer for about 10 to 15 minutes to harden the top layers and then use a serrated knife.
  • Bake in a preheated oven for 45 minutes or until the phyllo turns a deep golden color.
  • While the Galaktoboureko is baking, prepare the syrup: Combine the sugar and water in a saucepan and add the lemon peel and orange peel.
  • Boil over medium high heat for approximately 10 – 15 minutes. Remove the lemon and orange peel and stir in the lemon juice. Remove from heat and set aside to cool.

Man on the Move: Disturbing the Peace

Posted by Justin Tucker on December 12, 2015 at 5:00 PM Comments comments (0)



Have a look at any one of the chained, safety-pinned or studded outerwear garments from Andreas Melbostad’s Fall/Winter 2015 menswear collection for Diesel Black Gold, and you’re likely to see the words “Black Gold Subversion League” printed on one of the patches. Surely, one look at the collection is enough to make any stuffy business executive cringe at his desk. Calculated disruption, as we like to call it, is probably the perfect way to describe the assortment of preppy-punk ensembles. Featuring a rebellious lineup of sharply-tailored smart separates combined with the blunt rocker-esque vibes of the many rips, zips and tartan prints, Melbostad appears to be coming into his own within his role with the label.

 




Style Advice: Pulling off a look that borders between preppy and grunge isn’t necessarily the easiest to accomplish. However, if you know how to layer properly to create the right proportions, it can be done quite effortlessly. Of course, you’re going to want to start with our base layers. The prep in you will want to pair the simple Kenneth Cole Reaction Slim-Fit Performance Check Dress Shirt ($36) with the Banana Republic Modern Slim Knit Blazer ($298). Now to satisfy your rebellious side: rather than a normal t-shirt under your dress shirt, throw on a basic H&M Wool-blend Turtleneck Sweater ($40) for a little extra warmth. Now you can really step things up a notch with Topman’s Black Faux Shearling Jacket ($160) as well as a pair of Zara Distressed Denim ($80). Here’s the icing on the cake: nothing screams ‘cool’ louder than a pair of ASOS Chelsea Boots in Leather ($81). All you need to do now is tear up a pair of Target’s Fingerless Gloves ($15) and you’ll be good to go.

 




Must-Have: So let’s think in terms of accessories for a moment. After all, the best way to personalize your look is by adding a few personal touches in the smaller details. One way this can be accomplished is with the addition of a nice hat. Now, I understand that there may be some reservations with regards to sporting a fancy chapeau. “I don’t look good in a hat,” “I can’t find one that fits my head,” and “I have too much hair,” are a few examples. But let’s think about some of the greatest men to ever walk the earth – guys like Miles Davis, Frank Sinatra and Pharrell. These gentlemen have demonstrated no fears with regard to hats, and they’ve ultimately secured their positions as style icons as a result. Besides, who can resist the beauty of the Jackson Fedora from Yellow 108, with its tear drop crown and vibrant camel hue? We didn’t think so; so do yourself a favor and make that $98 investment.

 




Industry News: Do you remember that campaign that Frank Ocean shot for the recently defunct brand, Band of Outsiders? It must have been something in the water which caused both Mr. Ocean and the brand’s founder, Scott Sternberg, to seemingly fall off the face of the earth. Now it seems that the two are still on the same wavelength. While we continue to wait patiently for a new album from Frank Ocean (which was allegedly pushed back to an unknown 2016 release date), we can now also set our sights on the return of the label, which is expected to return to high-end markets for the Spring 2017 season. That may seem like a little ways off, but cut the brand some slack. Apparently, an all-new team has been assembled – one that does not involve Sternberg. We’re not sure what exactly this means for the brand’s revival, but we can only hope for the best. Be sure to mark your calendars for the initial previews scheduled for September 2016.

Embracing the Pearly White Lifestyle

Posted by Justin Tucker on December 10, 2015 at 4:00 PM Comments comments (0)



What do guys like Tom Cruise, Michael B. Jordan, Harry Styles and even Justin Bieber have in common? Okay, so maybe they’re all extremely wealthy, and might I add, exceptionally good-looking. They also probably share a great disliking for the paparazzi, as one can only imagine. But there’s one other thing that you might be overlooking, however. While each of these men may be known for his iconic movie roles and chart-topping songs – or notoriously rebellious and downright reckless behavior in Bieber’s case – one common physical feature which distinguishes any of them from the average laboring man is the set of pristine, impeccably white choppers which line the inside of their mouths. One could only begin to think of the many sacrifices that he must make in order to come close to a flawless grill such as the examples given: those daily Starbucks runs, that glass of red wine with your steak, and about a quarter to even half of your bank account (because believe it or not, fresh teeth aren’t cheap).


As it stands, most of us probably aren’t willing to drop everything and devote our lives to obtaining an immaculate set of chops. But let’s imagine, just for a moment, that we didn’t have to deal with the constant nagging of our jobs, or the bills, or the kids if you have them. What if we could easily withdraw a few hundred (to a few thousand) dollars and head to the best dentist in town for one of those optimum teeth-whitening procedures? I think it’s safe to say that our lives might be changed forever. Our days of walking into a room unnoticed would quickly come to an end, and even the most stressful days in the office would be carried out with the most infectious attitude. Absolutely nothing would be able to wipe the smile off our faces.

 

Now, let’s jump back into reality. Many of us are too busy to constantly worry about having movie star-quality teeth, but that doesn’t mean we can’t incorporate smaller measures of care into our daily lives (so let’s not say goodbye to Starbucks just yet). Thanks to the Grooming Lounge, obtaining the brightest and whitest smile for our day-to-day lives is now easier than ever, with the following products from Supersmile:



 

  • First up is the Professional Whitening System. If you thought an expensive trip to the dentist was your only option for a miraculously whiter smile, think again. This easy-to-use at home system combines whitening accelerator gel and toothpaste to bleach dull, yellow teeth and transform them into dazzling ivories. This can be purchased for a simple $36.


  • It’s common practice to clean out all the nooks and crannies of your teeth after you brush, but now it’s time to step it up with the Professional Whitening Floss. Filled with both Calprox and baking soda, this floss effectively removes stubborn stains from those hard to reach areas between teeth. A pack of floss will cost you $9. Let’s not forget, twice a day keeps the plaque and bacteria away.

 

  • This last product might surprise you, as it did us. But get this: did you know chewing gum can actually help whiten teeth? Well, maybe not short-lasting flavored options like Juicy Fruit or Bubblicious, but if you’re chewing Supersmile’s All Natural Professional Whitening Gum, then you’re in good hands. That’s because of the Xylitol & Calprox in each piece which not only whitens teeth, but also freshens breath and fights cavities. For all of that, we can understand the $24 price tag.

 

We suggest you start practicing that perfect smile for the next family photo, or the next time your boss calls you into his office. You’d be surprised at how often your best accessory comes in handy.

Out on the Town: Away On Business

Posted by Justin Tucker on December 9, 2015 at 4:00 PM Comments comments (0)



It might be time to get over that fear of flying which has troubled you since that one experience of really bad turbulence. Just when you thought you’d never have to step foot in an airport again, you’re boss surprises you with an e-mail invitation to a mandatory company conference. Of course there are other methods of travel, and I’m not saying that flying is absolutely necessary in all situations; I just don’t think your boss would agree to you traveling across the country by train or bus. Think about it: if you were planning on actually making it on time, you would probably have to leave almost an entire week in advance. Now tell me, who’s going to cover that expense?

 

Those of you who enjoy flying – and traveling, in general – might find it thrilling to be able to escape the routine 9-to-5 for a few days while you engage in what could potentially be career-altering group seminars and training sessions. The fact is that the possibility of travel is something that many of us look for in a company of interest (oftentimes before we even make note of the salary). Let’s face it: the repeated process of waking up, getting dressed, and heading to the same office with those same white walls is growing a bit old. It’s always great to shake things up, both in life and at work, with new scenery and fresh faces. Don’t forget about the fact that the skills and certifications which you will probably earn while on those business trips will prove to be valuable tools as you look to move up the rankings within your field.

 

So what exactly are you going to need for this important trip? Let’s just stop and think about a few things for a second. First and foremost, this isn’t a relaxing vacation in the Bahamas. That being said, that new bathing suit probably will not be necessary. Secondly, you can expect to have a few run-ins with your boss – and don’t forget about the potential of meeting some of his high-powered colleges. With this thought in mind, it would be in your best interest to look prepared, as if you were expecting to exchange words and e-mails in the first place. Lastly, seeing as how you’ll more than likely be operating off of a set schedule from sun-up to sun-down, you probably shouldn’t expect to have a lot of extra free time. If you’re someone who typically over packs, this is your opportunity to practice downsizing. I don’t think paying for extra luggage will be included in the company travel policy, though I could be wrong.


 


Let’s think about what it would make sense for you to include. For starters, I suggest packing smarter rather than harder by purchasing a garment travel bag. This will allow you to neatly organize your clothes and prevent an extreme case of wrinkles. The Garment Weekender from Hook + Albert (Cost: $395) is a suitable choice, as it contains private compartments for everything from tablets and e-readers to your lucky business suit, shoes, and ties. Speaking of suit, what would make more sense than a versatile wardrobe essential specifically made for the travelling man? Bonobos has just the suit in mind, which they like to call "The Jetsetter" (Cost: $525). It’s good for any season, and even has a signature passport pocket inside the jacket. As far as shoes go, take the easy way out with a simple pair of cap-toe shoes, like the Castellano Cap Ox from Florsheim (Cost: $130).

 

The right travel bag, suit and shoes are just the basics; no-brainers really. There are a few ways that you can spice things up, however. Take this Signature West Branch Toiletry Kit from L.L.Bean, for example (Cost: $59). Not only does it come with a water-resistant interior for easy cleaning, you’ll also get a kick out of the eye-catching camouflage print. Just think of how cool you’ll look if airport security has to pull it out to be searched. You might actually miss your plane as you explain to interested passersby where exactly you purchased it from.

 

To make the pain of travel a little easier on you, I suggest you download WorldMate. This app is here to revolutionize the way you travel. With various features including flight searches, itinerary management, a booking service, as well as time and currency converters, you’ll be able to take charge of your trip. The days of “sweating the small stuff” when it comes to travelling have officially come to an end.

Man on the Move: From the Beach to the Office

Posted by Justin Tucker on December 7, 2015 at 1:00 PM Comments comments (0)



What does a man who has decided to leave the surf ‘n’ skate behind and pick up and everyday 9-to-5 look like? One might imagine an ill-fitting suit paired with long, golden locks and a pair of retro sneakers as he makes his way to his new office – where there are tables, chairs and fingers pounding away at keyboards rather than the usual sand and sounds of crashing waves. This description actually isn’t that far off from what designer Julian David would imagine, according to his Fall/Winter 2015 menswear collection. Just take a look at the models with their loose jackets and shirts left un-tucked, knee-length shorts, thick-soled skate shoes, Oakley shades and briefcases decorated with palm-trees. The only major difference was that David understood the power behind dark, gelled hair as opposed to golden locks.

 




Style Advice: Let’s cut right to the chase here. It’s time to put the fun and games aside and get down to business. First thing you’re going to need is a basic suit to at least get you through the interview process. Since you aren’t in the door just yet, an affordable option like the sharkskin solid suit from Perry Ellis will do the trick. It retails for just $140, meaning you only need help out a few close neighbors with the leaves in order to afford it. The easiest and most appropriate combination to pair with a standard suit such as this one includes a simple white shirt ($60) and black tie ($40), which you can find at Express. Last thing you want to do is get blown away in heavy rains and high winds on the way to your appointment. Keep your tie in place with a silver shot tie bar ($15) from none other than The Tie Bar while protecting your suit with a rains waterproof jacket ($140) from Topman. If the sun happens to make an appearance, just pull out your Polaroid mirror lens sunglasses ($60) from Lord & Taylor and your J. Crew baseball cap ($50). Now, we understand your hesitance to completely conform to office standards, which is why we recommend the Vans leather “old skool” sneakers ($70). Add a simple briefcase like the soft leather bag ($179) from Zara and no one will even notice your shoes.

 




Style Anthropology: Rudolph Valentino is one of those names which seems to fly under the radar when it comes to the history of style connoisseurs. Maybe that’s because of his somewhat difficult road to stardom, or the fact that he lived a rather short life. Nonetheless, this great silent film star was undeniably savvy in his style choices, which ultimately cemented his status as a sex symbol in the 1920s. Just like many fashion enthusiasts, Valentino decided that he would rather go hungry than be poorly dressed. Sticking to his Italian heritage, he was known (and often ridiculed) for transitioning between the sophistication of his 30+ “fits-like-a-glove” European suits and more eccentric pieces – including gaucho pants, white vests, and a massive assortment of colorful accessories (socks, ties, handkerchiefs) and jewelry – which, at the time, were viewed as effeminate. By the climax of his career, his style choices began to directly influence the public, with men emulating everything from his slicked-back hair to his confident use of color. To put the nail on the coffin (no pun intended), you could almost always spot Valentino with a hat. Though his style was often seen as excessive, his dedication to heritage was unmatched. That explains why he will probably remain an icon for years to come.

 




Industry News: We’ve just received word about a major change at one of America’s top fashion labels: John Varvatos. Earlier in the week, former president for Michael Kors and Hugo Boss – Mark Brashear – was appointed as the new CEO and president, replacing Cristiano Quieti. In an interview, Brashear appeared to be excited about his new role with the iconic American brand. He mentioned his desire to expand the label’s wholesale and retail presence on both a domestic and international scale. We’re excited to see what comes of this business venture.

Out on the Town: The Industry Party

Posted by Justin Tucker on December 2, 2015 at 4:00 PM Comments comments (0)



Remember how hard you worked to get your foot in the door of what you perceived to be your dream career? Think about all of those years spent pursuing higher education, perfecting that resume and cover letter, making your rounds to various companies of interest to fill out endless applications, wearing out your best suit on countless nerve-racking interviews, offering to intern for little or no pay, sending out emails to professionals who knew nothing of your existence, and finally getting your start with a “bottom of the barrel” position. After all that you’ve been through, you should be proud to have worked your way up to you current status within your field. You’re more than likely at the point now where coming into the office day after day is second nature. You’ve gained enough experience and made enough connections to be able to handle all of your designated tasks without having to be micro-managed, and you’ve even gained the respect of your boss and fellow co-workers. At this point you may be asking: what comes next?

 

Of course, a promotion probably sounds like the ideal answer, especially if that includes a pay increase or more vacation time. Unfortunately, that is not something that I can guarantee, and I apologize if I may have gotten your hopes up. But one thing that I would start looking out for if I were you, after building solid networks both within the office as well as amongst other notable professionals in the field, is and E-vite to the next big industry party. Let me tell you – this isn’t just about lighthearted conversation and sharing one too many cocktails with your boss’s associates (although that probably would make for a good time). Gaining access to the exclusive industry party means exchanging ideas, successful career moments, and most importantly, business cards with some of the top players in your discipline. That’s why it’s important to be prepared, and the following items will ensure just that:



 

  • The first thing you’ll need is a stunning sportcoat to help boost your confidence, thus allowing you to spark up a conversation with just about anyone in the room. Depending on the career field, it might be best to opt for a solid color for safety purposes; but then again, this is a party we’re talking about, so there shouldn’t be anything wrong with amping things up with a sophisticated plaid. This half-lined Havana Burgundy Check Jacket from SuitSupply is exactly what I had in mind. If you’re a little shy, I especially recommend something like this for you, as I can assure you that people will be coming up to you all throughout the night. (Cost: $399)

 

  • Now that you’re ready to turn heads, you’re going to need something to store those freshly-made business cards. After all, what’s the point of going through the trouble of making small talk if you’re not going to capitalize off of the situation? Here’s what you should do: take some cash, a credit card or two, and a few business cards and stuff them in this Metal Corner Wallet from Ted Baker. You’ll look extra stylish every time you reach into this well-crafted leather good. (Cost: $109)

 

  • The third and final thing you shouldn’t leave the house without is a quality timepiece. It’s one thing to plan the perfect entrance – you probably don’t want to be the first guest to arrive, but you also don’t want to be the prick who everyone notices walking in at the last hour – but you should also be aware of the perfect time to make your exit (you should never be the last one at the party, ever). The 40 - Silver Watch from MVMT Watches will ensure that you’re always on good time. (Cost: $125)

 

You may have spent all this time stressing about how to keep your good reputation, but you should remember that an industry party isn’t the one professional – actually it’s not always that professional – environment where actual work is not required. With that being said, relax and try to enjoy yourself. Have yourself a drink and enjoy the music as you show off your interpersonal skills. Before you know it, it’ll be Monday morning again, and you’ll be highly anticipating the next function.


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