Posts Tagged ‘england’

Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

Last night, I had the pleasure of seeing Guy Ritchie’s newest film Sherlock Holmes, starring Robert Downey, Jr, Jude Law, and Rachel McAdams. The theater was packed, and rightly so, as the film just opened on Christmas Day. Indeed, it was a delightful holiday treat. The actors on the screen had me eating out of their hands.

Sherlock Holmes is a delicious detective flick, with twists and turns and odd characters the whole way through. The villain of the movie, Lord Blackwell (who is played by Mark Strong), has a menacing presence on the screen that demands your attention. Also, the fact that he’s into black magic helps his image, too.

I thought Robert Downey, Jr and Jude Law did great jobs at portraying their characters, although they might seem a bit like updated versions of characters you might have read about if you read the old Sherlock Holmes novels. That is one qualm people have had about the movie. They say the newest characters are too different. I have had no previous experience with the original, so this new version suits me just fine.

One of my absolute favorite qualities about this movie was the soundtrack, done by Hans Zimmer. The unique thing about the music was the swift player piano and heavy strings in each of the songs. But perhaps the best song comes when Sherlock walks on the street through a circus (also a great scene). It is interesting titled “I Never Woke Up in Handcuffs Before.” You can hear snippets of the soundtrack here.

Also, the cinematography was incredible. The way that Guy Ritchie chose to go about shooting this movie and the choices made within it were the right ones. It depicts the English city as a dirty, but respectable place, with a mix of good and bad people, elements, and professions.

Go see this movie in the theater or wait until it comes out on video — it’s your choice. Just go see it! To find out more and view a trailer for the movie, visit the Sherlock Holmes website.

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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

This little piggie went to Pennywell Farm. This little piggie snubbed his nose in paint. This little piggie cried “I want to be like Jackson Pollock” all the way home. Cheesy, I know, but how can I resist when the subject of today’s post happens to be pig artists?

You may be familiar with Pennywell Farm. It sits on the hillside of Devon in England and is most known for its cute baby animals, especially miniature pigs. (We might call them piglets.) Lately, its owners have decided to steer from the boring old petting zoo routine and aim more for artistic talents…with their pigs, of course.

The little piglets are creating works of art that have been selling for close to $30 each. All of the profits from their oinktastic talents are going towards the Farm Crisis Network Charity. So far they have raised around $250.

Pennywell Farm’s owner, Chris Murray, told the Daily Mail that his piglets accidentally broke out of their enclosure during a craft fair one day and went straight for the paints that had been laying around, digging their snouts in the tins. (Luckily, the paint was non-toxic.) Ever since, he has seen them as little Jackson Pollocks.

Here is an example of their fine handiwork:

Now can you understand why he calls them Jackson Pollocks?

Murray said, “The pigs tended to go more for pointilism – they weren’t too keen on cubism. We think of them as our little Pigassos.” Not only are the canvases covered in paint when the pigs are done with their work, but so are they!

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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

Yes, it’s yet another blog post about a book I’ve recently read. This one I enjoyed thoroughly, mainly because the main character was such a nut.

Goodnight, Steve McQueen by Louise Wener is a novel about trying too hard, or in some cases, not enough. It all begins with England native Steve McQueen, who likes to be called Danny. He lives in an apartment with his girlfriend Alison and things don’t seem to be going so well for their relationship. Then she gets a temporary job hours away…and decides that he needs to grow up or get out.

See, Danny is 29 years old, jobless, and has been living in the daydream that he’ll somehow strike it big with his band. Alison pays for everything. Things start to look up for Danny when his band is allowed to go on tour with a well-known rock group. But he also suspects Alison might be cheating on him.

This book is a bit like High Fidelity by Nick Hornby, but way better. Especially because I wasn’t thinking about John Cusak while I was reading it. I REALLY liked Danny — his idiosyncracies make him loveable, even though sometimes you want to see him get pushed under a bus. He’s nervous, he’s anxious, he’s worried, he always says and does the wrong things, but he’s enjoyable. It’s interesting that this was written by a woman. The male point of view is excellent here.

The story is also filled with other great characters like Kostas, the owner of the video shop Danny works at. And also Sheila, an old lady with an obsession for bloody kung fu movies. Even the other members of Danny’s band are all great in their own ways.

It’s a nice easy read if you don’t want anything too complex. Just kick back and enjoy this “brit lit.”

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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove


The folks over at Abbey Road Studios in England sure have had their hands full lately. They have remastered all the Beatles albums and re-released them for purchase.

Okay, so big deal, right? What does it take to remaster an album? And why would anyone want to have an remastered album that they already bought a regular copy of? These are just some of the questions you might be thinking. Believe me, once you hear the newest remastered Abbey Road album, you won’t have any of those concerns.

Thanks guys, for making the Beatles even that much better! Photo from abbeyroad.co.uk.

Thanks guys, for making the Beatles even that much better! Photo from abbeyroad.co.uk.

According to the Abbey Road Studios website, the engineers first had to take a listen to all the Beatles albums to decipher which would be the best to restore. Then, a bit of de-noising technology was used. During the restoration process, “it was decided that any performance-based imperfections, such as breaths and coughs, should be retained. Other faults and noises from the original masters, such as microphone pops or tape dropouts, were addressed on both the mono and stereo versions of the albums.”

Then, they got to work on the final mastering of all 13 albums, during which comparisons were constantly made between the original and remastered versions of various songs. “It was auditioned in Abbey Road’s Studio Three, where all other recent Beatles mixing projects had taken place. Each album was subject to a rigorous approval process, with further EQ alterations performed until the satisfaction of the entire team had been gained.”

And let me tell you, that process certainly worked wonders for the albums. I have heard snippets of the new and improved Abbey Road album, and it was as if I was hearing it for the first time. Not only is the sound quality excellent, but it also includes small sounds that you might not have heard before on the original recordings. This is the aspect that makes it completely authentic — much like the day it was when it was first recorded.

It costs a bit more than normal to purchase one of these cds, but if you  have the extra cash, love the Beatles, and want to hear some absolutely amazing sound, then I recommend going out and buying one (or thirteen) of these albums. Oh yeah, and make sure you listen to this music with headphones at least once.

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