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Posts Tagged ‘entertainment’

Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

If you haven’t noticed, I have posted very few book reviews as of late. The reason for this is that I have been completely entranced in a new author and have taken it upon myself to read each book of his series from start to finish.

The author: Tim Dorsey. The material: a schizophrenic serial killer named Serge A. Storms is on the loose in Florida. He’s not a maniacal heartless idiot, but is instead a giving moralist — until you get in the way of reuniting him with his briefcase, which is filled with $5 million in cocaine money.

The series focuses on the criminals of Florida: drug dealers, killers, mafia, drug addicts, prostitutes, and every day scam artists. When you bring Serge into the mix, there’s sure to be a crazy adventure in tow. The great thing about this character is the fact that he is so invested in the state of Florida. He is constantly spouting off random facts about Florida’s history, its people, and native land, especially when he gets in one of his manic moods.

Fans of Carl Hiaasen, another well known Florida author, will most likely enjoy the shenanigans of Tim Dorsey’s books. While the two writers are similar in many ways, Dorsey provides more of an edge for his readers. There’s a bit more violence and few gory details are held back. Nonetheless, insane situations are always bouncing around (and usually between many different characters). Some readers may find it hard to keep track of all the characters at first, but once you get the hang of Dorsey’s writing style, you’re all set to tackle one book after another.

As of right now, there are 12 books in the series. (I’m on number 6.) Dorsey’s latest release was Gator A-Go-Go, which came out in January of this year. The order of books is as follows: Florida Roadkill, Hammerhead Ranch Motel, Orange Crush, Triggerfish Twist, The Stingray Shuffle, Cadillac Beach, Torpedo Juice, The Big Bamboo, Hurricane Punch, Atomic Lobster, Nuclear Jellyfish, and lastly, Gator A-Go-Go.

If you’re looking for a crack-up, easy read, I recommend these books. The only thing is — if you don’t read them in order, you might be a bit confused. I can only hope that this truly great author will keep writing!

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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

You’ve all heard of the Grateful Dead. If you haven’t, please stop reading this. This post is meant for the Deadheads among us.

Last night, Furthur, a new kind of Dead cover band, performed a stellar show at the Stabler Arena in Bethlehem, PA. I say ‘new kind of Dead cover band’ because well, they’re not really a full cover band. You see, the new group is comprised of two original members of the Grateful Dead, Phil Lesh and Bob Weir. The other members of the band include Dark Star Orchestra front man John Kadlecik as the voice and guitar of Jerry, Jeff Chimenti, Jay Lane, and Joe Russo.

Photo by Kate Langenburg

The arena was a good size, but not too big. Fans packed themselves onto the floor, in the upper decks, and sides of the venue, but left enough room between each other for dancing, of course. The vibe among the fans was a very positive one. Even the fact that the arena served no alcohol didn’t dampen the spirits of the Furthur fans. (See, you don’t need alcohol to have fun, kids.)

The band ripped off one Dead song after another, leaving room for improvisation and long spirited jams. Accompanied by a trippy light show, the music swirled around the venue, bringing fans of all ages together as one.

I have to stop right here and just mention that they played the ULTIMATE Dead song — Terrapin Station. Seeing the orignial members of the Dead play this song together is really something special. You can feel the bond between the musicians and hear the effects they create. I’ve seen both of these musicians play this song individually, but this was by far the best live version I have heard. People were dancing with arms held high in the air as they sang every single word to the much loved song.

Here’s the complete set list from the show:

Set 1: Golden Road (to Unlimited Devotion)>Gloria>Good Morning Little Schoolgirl>Ramble On Rose>Magnolia Mountain>Black Peter>Passenger>Next Time You See Me

Set 2: Bertha>Row Jimmy>Reuben and Cherise>No More I Do>Eyes of the World>Terrapin Station>The Wheel>Touch of Grey>Donor Rap

Encore: Brokedown Palace

Here’s a snippet from last night’s Eyes of the World. Check out the awesome piano jam:

I must say that John Kadlecik fits in quite nicely with the original Dead members. His voice is eerily like Jerry’s, but in a good way. I heard a few fans in the crowd commenting on how much they thought he sounded like the original frontman.

Good news for all you Furthur fans — the band has just announced that they will be playing the 14th annual All Good Festival in West Virginia. If you’re a jam band lover, this festival is for you.

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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

On Friday, NBC permiered a recreation of the infamous ‘We Are the World’ video during the opening ceremonies at the Winter Olympics. The new version of the 1985 performance showcased some 85 artists, all singing for charity because of the recent earthquake in Haiti.

The video is interspersed with actual footage from Haiti and footage of the artists recording the song. I think the footage from Haiti is perhaps the most touching aspect of this whole project. It shows children and their parents coming together, shots from the wreckage, and a positive vibe coming from the people of the affected area.

Some of the arists participating in this musical statement are Celine Dion, Carlos Santana, Wyclef Jean, Usher, Kanye West, Pink, and even Jeff Bridges. Michael Jackson, who participated in the original ‘We Are the World’ performance, was also thrown into the mix, with clips of him singing and sister Janet Jackson singing along to his part.

Check out the video:

Despite all the positive messages it is sending, there has been much controversy surrounding this performance. Many fans argue that a recreation should not have been necessary and that there is no way to top the original video. Either way, it is a very stunning, touching tribute that has meant a lot to the victims of the Haiti earthquake and their families.

The only negative thing I can say is…why the rap in the middle? It kind of ruins the vibe a little. Don’t get me wrong, Snoop Dogg has every right to participate in this, but it sort of cheapens the performance.

Your thoughts?

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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

You’ve felt the energy of your latest cd purchase and now all you want to do is blast it through your house, screaming the lyrics at the top of your lungs. But what about your pooch? It might hurt his ears.

Trouble be gone! Pet Acoustics has just come out with a product to help ease your dog’s pain. According to their website, ‘My Pet Speaker transforms your personal music library into pet-friendly tunes that soothe and relax dogs, cats, horses, and their people.’

I don’t usually advertise products on my blog, but this device is just too interesting to pass up. We all know that our pet’s hearing is much more sensitive than our own. In most cases, a sound that your pet hears is a sound that the human ear may not even register. Here’s how the pet speakers work:

‘Designed to eliminate these unsettling frequencies, My Pet Speaker features an Omni directional speaker with a 4” drive unit and cone reflector which disburses the music in 360 degrees recreating how animals hear in nature. By producing limited frequencies and featuring a soft bass design for listening comfort, your pets will not be startled or disturbed by jarring volumes and piercing sounds that put them on alert. My Pet Speaker keeps these alarming frequencies within the comfort range of your pet’s hearing. This allows you to use your entire music library to fill you and your pets’ environment with a sense of calm and relaxation.’

Pretty cool, huh? Instead of blasting your music and listening to Fido shriek in pain (and you thinking it is cute that he wants to ‘sing along’) he can be soothed! Geez, what will people think of next? I swear, there’s a gadget for everything.

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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

Yesterday, I finished reading a book that can only be described as disappointing for me. The Water is Wide by Pat Conroy is one of those books that I can certainly see the merit for, but can’t fully grasp.

After reading Conroy’s latest novel, South of Broad, I was intrigued to go furthur with the author. His expertise in writing exceeded many authors I had read before and he really knew how to drag me into the story. As for The Water is Wide, I was only dragged slightly and tried to escape several times.

The book is a memoir. It’s a look back on a year’s worth of teaching Conroy did on a small island called Yamacraw. All the children he meets when he gets to the island are so cut off from the outside world that he must teach them simple things just to give them a broad understanding of life. Some of the children don’t even know how to read; many cannot write.

Throughout the book, there are a lot of political issues that arise between the schoolboard officials, Conroy, and the other parents and teachers on the island. In fact, I’d say most of the book deals with those issues. Of course, one of the main areas of focus is the racial difference between whites and blacks. At first, most of the parents and teachers on the island are leary of a white schoolteacher, but then they eventually grow comfortable with Conroy.

I wished he would have spent more time on his dealings with the students instead of the political situation on the island. The occasions that he did talk about the children were too few, but very entertaining. Over the course of his year there, he was able to take the children off the island at least three times and expose them to the world. It was interesting to hear about their reactions.

Overall, this book is definitely a must read for anyone who wants to be a teacher. I can understand why so many college professors often use this book in their classes. It gives you a different view of teaching, lent to the fact that Conroy taught in such an extreme environment with children who had no previous exposure to much of the real world.

But as for me, it was too longwinded. Maybe the next Conroy novel I read will be better?

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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

Okay, so what did everybody think of the Who at the Superbowl Halftime show last night? I think they did an alright job, all things considered.

The performance started out a little shaky. Roger Daltrey has clearly aged and his voice sounds it. At the beginning of the show, his raspy and often out of tune notes pierced my brain, but just about midway through ‘Teenage Wastland,’ he seemed to finally warm up a bit and sparked some life back into those old songs.

As for Pete Townshend, it was exciting to see him try to relive his past by doing his trademark windmill strumming, but I secretly feared for his shoulder. I bet that’s sore today. Townshend’s voice has held up better than Daltrey’s by far, but of course, his age still shown through.

Zak Starkey, Ringo Starr’s son, did a fantastic job rocking the drums. He was most definitely the most energetic performer of the night. I guess it might be kind of difficult to lend that title to the aging members of the Who.

It was interesting that the cameras did not, but for one time, take the shot off Daltrey, Townshend, and Starkey. Obviously, they were the most famous out of the bunch, but what a way to kick the other musicians out of the picture. It wasn’t right and I wanted to see more of the whole stage setup.

But the true thing that I think saved this performance were the lights and visual effects. Without the bright lasers whipping around the performers and computerized images of Townshend strumming his guitar, I don’t think this medley would have gone over very well.

However, it is true that many, many Superbowl fans were disappointed in the performance. Most of those fans agreed that the Who has exceeded their prime and that was the main reason for the let-down. But some have said that the Who’s setlist was ‘the worst performance at the halftime in a while.’

Either way you look at it, I have to give them credit. They have not played together in quite a long time, still had the gusto to come out on stage and rock as best they could, and even did the show for free. That’s right, they didn’t get paid a cent for the performance.

Haven’t had enough of the Who at the Superbowl? Here’s a video of their acoustic performance from that night:

Kudos to the Who, but it’s definitely time to retire those chops.

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Kate Langenburg/A&E Groove

Since this is a short article, I will copy and paste it here. You will get the gist of the argument:

Associated Press — The Who gave an energetic, acoustic preview of Sunday’s Super Bowl halftime show, but things turned serious when Pete Townshend defended himself against critics who say he should not be performing.

The guitarist was arrested in 2003 in Britain as part of a child pornography sting but later cleared. He accessed a Web site containing child pornography but said it was for research for his own campaign against child porn.

That doesn’t satisfy some children’s advocates.

Still, Townshend says: “I kind of feel like we’re all on the same side, I guess that’s all I can really say.”

So, now I will butt my little opinion in here. I feel that Townshend really isn’t defending himself so much as dismissing the remarks of the children’s advocates. It seems that he feels there is nothing for them to be worried about, so they should stop whining. (I’m inputting my words here, not his.)

Still, it is up to viewers of Sunday night’s SuperBowl to decide if they want to watch The Who’s performance. If they want the child pornography incident to remain prominent, they could simply opt out of the halftime show. I, on the other hand, will be watching.

Regardless of what Townshend might have done back in 2003, I am still a fan of this band and will be curious to see what they have to offer. The show will most likely be good, but leave many people reminiscing on the band’s sound during younger days.

Let’s face it, performers never sound the same thirty years later. And what about Roger Daltrey? He’s got to make sure his voice is still intact. Maybe we should be worrying about him a little bit more than we are worrying about Pete Townshend’s past.

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