Loco for Four Loko

October 27, 2010

So after much publicity this week, the dearly beloved alcoholic-energy drink Four Loko, has been facing the brutal beatings of health officials, parents, news reporters everywhere.  It’s been a sweeping sensation across college campuses since it hit the shelves of your local convenient store nearly one year ago. But the media will only tell you one thing: You better hide yo kids, hide yo wife, because its raping everybody’s (liver) out there.

Many news sources including The Huffington Post, CBS News, and MSNBC have been reporting this week about the negative effects of the drink, urging to public to stay away, and talk about some states actually placing a “Four Loko ban” in their jurisdiction. This all comes after last week’s story of 9 students from Central Washington University being hospitalized when found passed out at a party. The students claimed that they thought they were roofied, when in fact, they just “tested positive” for Four Loko. But really? They thought they were roofied? Turns out that those 9 college kids were really 17-19 year olds who were “inexperienced drinkers”.

Washington state Attorney General, Rob McKenna stated: “It’s time to bring an end to the sale of alcoholic energy drinks…They’re marketed to kids by using fruit flavors that mask the taste of alcohol, and they have such high levels of stimulants that people have no idea how inebriated they really are.”

Marketed to kids? Are we really going to give Four Loko this credit? I’m calling BS. McKenna and the rest of the country are just using Four Loko as a scapegoat for irresponsible drinking.

For starters, who is to say that people over the age of 21 don’t like bright colors or fruit flavors? I know that I certainly do. I also know that Four Lokos are not sold to the under-aged, and like all other alcoholic products, you need proof of identification. Do we really think that someone is going to buy a 7-year old a Four Loko? And if they did, the better question is do we really think that a 7-year old would even want to drink that Four Loko? Reports are stating that Four Loko comes in appealing flavors and colors- but anyone who has every actually tried a can could tell you that they do not taste anything like they sound.

That element of the thirsty, underaged teen grabbing for the controversial drink will always be there. It is not because they are brightly colored, its because they are teenagers and they have always wanted to drink illegally. Four Loko did not suddenly revolutionize an entire country’s thirst for alcohol.

And for people not knowing how drunk they are going to get when a Four Loko is consumed? It is clearly stated on the can that the drink has a alcohol level of up to 12%. Even though the feeling of being drunk can be slightly delayed with caffeine, with 23.5 oz of 12% alcohol anyone should expect to be drunk. And really drunk for that matter. But that is the exact reason why people buy it: because it has that high content, and its cheap…really cheap. At $2.50 a can, Four Loko has replaced traditional 40. oz in the hearts of broke college kids and homeless people everywhere.

This problem is about alcohol education, not Four Loko. Many colleges require a alcohol edu. class for all incoming freshman to teach them what is a legal limit is, and what a deathly limit is. For those students who could not retain this information, they might learn it the hard way ( which was previously by shotgunning 12 beers) or now the easier way (by drinking more than a Four Loko).  Regardless, people who are not accustom the binge-drinking-actions of college kids might call the drink a epidemic.

The media should stop scrutinizing the drink that makes people “loko”, but instead the irresponsible drinkers who do not know how to handle alcohol consumption. Id even applaud anyone who could get through a whole can of the stuff.

Needless to say, I found my Halloween costume this year.

 

“This is where Middle Earth was born and this is where it should stay,”

said Richard Taylor, special effects artist for the Lord of the Rings trilogy. BBC News reported that The Shire was in peril when Warner Bros Studio was considering moving the filming location for “The Hobbit” elsewhere.

Studio execs say the consideration of a location change came from the recent actor’s union strike over low wages. This strike has since ended, however Warner Bros has still been considering a new home for The Shire. (probably working for Sauron)

Taylor added, “The alternative is just too bleak to consider”.

In response, thousands of local New Zealanders took to the streets to demonstrate their love of the films and the desire to keep Middle Earth in its original place.

BBC also reported that the New Zealand government is also trying to support the rallies and keeping the production in place by Prime Minister, John Key, meeting with the Warner Bros executives later today.

The 2010 documentary, I’m Still Here, showcases Academy Award nominated actor, Joaquin Phoenix in a journey of transformation between both professional careers and life choices. With his directorial debut, Casey Affleck shows us a brief history of Phoenix’s life, from childhood to stardom, which begins the film in the present state of celebrity life. The premise of this film seems simple however; there have been mass amounts of controversy surrounding Affleck, Phoenix, and their intentions.

I’m Still Here, is shrewd in mystery as Casey Affleck follows his brother-in-law, Joaquin Phoenix through the course of his public mental break down. The film begins the journey as Phoenix announces he wants to expand artistically into the world of hip-hop by resigning his role as a mainstream actor. The rest of the film takes us on the path of mental instability, indulgence, drug addiction, and failure as Phoenix is mocked by the entire nation for his deliberate actions. It finally climaxes to a ending point where Phoenix travels back home to visit his father and lets out a release as he questions his existence. The film had much speculation surrounding its intentions and finally, it was revealed that I’m Still Here was a hoax that went on for over a year. It examines our cultures obsession with fame from the end of the actual celebrity. Unfortunately, the film instantaneously received negative reviews after its premier, which prompted Affleck to reveal that the pretense of the movie was a hoax.

Many critics had differing opinions over I’m Still Here, but more importantly, did the viewers get it? Were the intended underlying messages received by its audience in a way that transcended past the box office? I’m Still Here attempted to show the relationship between celebrity and society in a method that has yet to be done. It raises questions over our obsessions with mainstream popular culture and what the public as a whole deems right or wrong. Don’t get me wrong I love Joaquin Phoenix, but though the concept is interesting, the film in its entirety has many conflicts with its claimed purpose- which range from the actual agent used (Joaquin Phoenix) trying to convey such a concept, the method of filming, to the delivery of the movie as a hoax to the public. These elements are the reason why I’m Still Here, was not successfully receptive by its audience.

Although, Joaquin was the one who received the attention and burdened the initial heat, Casey Affleck is the other important figure in this film. The movie serves as a medium for Affleck to speak towards the public and the final product that we see is ultimately Affleck’s thoughts and direction. Phoenix had an extremely successful year with two Oscar nominations under his belt. The film also took place in the midst of Phoenix’s latest movie premier, Two Lovers.  It is crucial that Affleck set the film at the height of Phoenix’s career to obtain the maximum reaction that the film needed. The audience whom received the film were those who are critics, but most importantly, they were interested and skeptical in the story. The audience in this context had proven to fall under a realm of curiosity pertaining to celebrity culture.

Charles Davis, defines a documentary film is one that is traditionally considered

“to be a factual, non-fictional genre that seek to record, reveal, preserve, persuade, promote, analyze, question, or express a viewpoint.”

Through this standard belief that documentaries hold a level of truth behind them, audiences have preconceived notions that what they watch will be sincere. A mockumentary, on the other hand, is a film that is shot and narrated in the same fashion as a factual documentary. However, a mockumentary is fictional and typically serves the purpose of entertainment and parody. Now, the term hoax is one of the reasons why I’m Still Here has failed in audience acceptance.

According to Merriam-Webster, a hoax by definition is “to trick into believing or accepting as genuine something false and often pretentious.”

When involved in a hoax, we are convinced about something, then we find out the falsity of it- thus swindling our emotions from confusion to sometimes anger. Overall, we as humans do not like to be fooled, and we feel a sense of deception when this does occur. By watching I’m Still Here, our psyche was played upon, but for what?

When looking closer at the various modes of persuasion, logos had a negative appeal, which fostered publicity for Phoenix and the film. The public’s opinion of him was mostly shock at first, but then it dwindled down into either acceptance of his insane behavior or an overall consensus of unbelievably. After a certain point, the general public simply did not care if Joaquin Phoenix was crazy or if Casey Affleck was trying to prove some avant-guard point, they just didn’t want to hear about it anymore unless it was out of mockery.

Ethos was especially played upon in the film through Phoenix’s unruly behavior. One of the most talked about scenes involves Joaquin belligerently snorting lines of cocaine off of the bare breast of hired prostitutes. For a documentary that was supposed to be real, this scene automatically outraged its audience who viewed Phoenix as a misogynistic idiot. Even when the film was announced as staged, the public still questioned if certain parts of the film, like the scene stated, had any truth behind them. This questioned Phoenix as a person and makes us wonder how far from aggressive jerks the two really are- especially since Affleck was accused of a sexual harassment charges by two different women during the filming of I’m Still Here.

TMZ reported: “Magdalena Gorka — filed a $2.25 million lawsuit in L.A. County Superior Court recently, claiming Affleck engaged in a pattern of harassing behavior during production … and then refused to pay her for work as a cinematographer when she left the project.”

Finally, pathos was eventually drawn upon in the emotional ties involved with Phoenix’s character. Throughout the film, we get a sense of ignorance and self-pity from Phoenix, however by the end; one cannot help but feel sympathy for his character. Phoenix incorporates various elements of tragedy, alienation, and misunderstanding that is accompanied by the life of the celebrity. However, when juxtaposed with the hoax, pathos then turns into irony because when the film stops rolling and the audience realizes that Phoenix was simply acting, he is still living a life that is constantly in the public eye; therefore, this element of pathos will always be evident.

The delivery of Phoenix’s performance is so convincing that it is the only thing about I’m Still Here that people can rave about. The combination of his nonverbal gestures adds so much to the development of the person that we believe Joaquin has become. Along with his language and speech, Phoenix’s appearance also starts degenerating as he develops long, unkempt hair and an ever-growing waistline. Weight and hygiene changes add to his portrayal of not caring about his prior celebrity status. One scene that stands out in I’m Still Here is during one of Joaquin’s final rap performances in Florida, where he jumps off stage and starts a fist fight with a taunting spectator. The movement of the fight seems so realistic that like the prostitutes previously stated, many wondered if this too was staged for the film. There is no doubt that Joaquin Phoenix puts on a great performance in the context of the film. However, there is question to how convincing the entire film was as a whole.

So ultimately, the performance given by Joaquin Phoenix in I’m Still Here is a convincingly strong portrayal of a celebrity figure who has struggled with fame and success. It’s the classic tragic tale of isolation in the public eye and the detrimental effects of having the world at your finger tips. But what this experimental documentary failed in achieving is bringing the intended message to its audience. In fact, by the end of the film the intended message is hard to decipher. Phoenix claimed that the reason he wanted to quit acting was to break out from a commercial confine of standard filmmaking and that a rap career would allow for his artistic expression. However in the film, this is hard to fully believe his act. Phoenix’s appearance and demeanor support his un-motivational lyrics that question his commitment to the world of hip-hop. But that is only the first flaw in believing the film, which was needed to achieve any sort of purpose. Throughout the course of his mental breakdown, there was also public speculation of his actions being a hoax. Because this rumor was already widely criticized, the element of shock was missing from Affleck’s final revelation about his film. Unlike other hoaxes and mockumentaries, there is a level of coherence missing from the film that does not let the satirical elements shine through.

I’m Still Here, sets forth the way too obvious point that the public has a fascination with the celebrity, but does not offer much more than the already known. There seems to be no real justification for the appalling behavior of Phoenix in the film, even if it is method acting. The entire process has seemed to miss the point of transcending to bigger issues in media obsession, that we question what the real motivation behind the gesture was. At the end of the day, the audience feels like the victim to a failed social experiment that served no real purpose and offered nothing more than a glimpse into an empty celebrity existence.

Love is in the air

October 25, 2010

Wouldn’t the world be a better place if all street art was this good?

Did somebody finally call for a super stylish, confident, age-appropriate role model for young girls?

Willow Smith heard that call, and came running as fast as she should. The 9-year old daughter of actor, Will Smith, has been making quite an impression with her new music video and single “Whip My Hair”.

Colorful, strong, fashionable and edgy- Willow Smith has been able to rock the world with with this new catchy single and her hit video that features people of all sizes and color. Not only is her entire image awesome, she is still embracing her solid black culture that isn’t selling out to the mainstream road of regular pop stars.

Smith’s fashion style is full of color, including a cotton-candy hair do- which is a far cry from Miley Cyrus’s stripper pole.  A beautiful and funky angle to pop music allows Willow Smith to define herself from other Disney stars her age. Hopefully she will continue to send her self-embracing, positive messages to fans across the globe.

 

A defense to Comic Sans

October 21, 2010

Designers, typographers and professionalists everywhere have one thing in common: Comic Sans is the devil.

The popular typeface has been making waves in the past years, but mostly for negative attention. The more that Comic Sans is used in blogs, websites, store signs and business events- the more angry people with an “eye-for-design” are getting at the font.

Comic Sans, which was originally based off of the design from speech bubbles in graphic novels, is a rounded and bold font that gives the impression of child-like handwriting. Some wonder why is a child’s handwriting a good thing to replicate? Recently, Comic Sans has been the predominate typeface with teachers and is commonly used for the treatment of children with dyslexia, due to its easy to read attributes.

Helvetica, Comic Sans’ arch-nemesis, has also stolen the spot light in the graphic world. The Swiss sans-serif is clean, simple, powerful, and everywhere. The topic of numerous documentaries, Helvetica, evokes a certain type of authority- as we see it commonly used on street signs, office logos, and everywhere in between. However, arguments against the Helvetica typeface state that it is now boring and overused.

Whatever your opinions are on the two fonts are, you will find people who like both. Ultimately it boils down to a matter of preference.

But since Comic Sans gets bashed by everyone in the art world at all times, this satirical monologue by Mike Lacher, titled: “I’m Comic Sans, Asshole” addresses some hilarious points that are often missed.

I’m Comic Sans, Asshole.

BY MIKE LACHER

– – – –

“Listen up. I know the shit you’ve been saying behind my back. You think I’m stupid. You think I’m immature. You think I’m a malformed, pathetic excuse for a font. Well think again, nerdhole, because I’m Comic Sans, and I’m the best thing to happen to typography since Johannes fucking Gutenberg.

You don’t like that your coworker used me on that note about stealing her yogurt from the break room fridge? You don’t like that I’m all over your sister-in-law’s blog? You don’t like that I’m on the sign for that new Thai place? You think I’m pedestrian and tacky? Guess the fuck what, Picasso. We don’t all have seventy-three weights of stick-up-my-ass Helvetica sitting on our seventeen-inch MacBook Pros. Sorry the entire world can’t all be done in stark Eurotrash Swiss type. Sorry some people like to have fun. Sorry I’m standing in the way of your minimalist Bauhaus-esque fascist snoozefest. Maybe sometime you should take off your black turtleneck, stop compulsively adjusting your Tumblr theme, and lighten the fuck up for once.

People love me. Why? Because I’m fun. I’m the life of the party. I bring levity to any situation. Need to soften the blow of a harsh message about restroom etiquette? SLAM. There I am. Need to spice up the directions to your graduation party? WHAM. There again. Need to convey your fun-loving, approachable nature on your business’ website? SMACK. Like daffodils in motherfucking spring.

When people need to kick back, have fun, and party, I will be there, unlike your pathetic fonts. While Gotham is at the science fair, I’m banging the prom queen behind the woodshop. While Avenir is practicing the clarinet, I’m shredding “Reign In Blood” on my double-necked Stratocaster. While Univers is refilling his allergy prescriptions, I’m racing my tricked-out, nitrous-laden Honda Civic against Tokyo gangsters who’ll kill me if I don’t cross the finish line first. I am a sans serif Superman and my only kryptonite is pretentious buzzkills like you.

It doesn’t even matter what you think. You know why, jagoff? Cause I’m famous. I am on every major operating system since Microsoft fucking Bob. I’m in your signs. I’m in your browsers. I’m in your instant messengers. I’m not just a font. I am a force of motherfucking nature and I will not rest until every uptight armchair typographer cock-hat like you is surrounded by my lovable, comic-book inspired, sans-serif badassery.

Enough of this bullshit. I’m gonna go get hammered with Papyrus.”

Butt-numb-a-thon 2010

October 19, 2010

The 12th annual Butt-Numb-A-Thon (BNAT) was announced several days ago by creator and local legendary film blogger, Harry Knowles. To the delight of cinephiles everywhere, this years theme will be The Dirty Dozeth, in respect to the film and it being the 12th BNAT ever held.

So what the heck is the Butt-Numb-A-Thon anyway? Why on earth would you ever subject your ass to the hash pains of a numbing movie seat?

Well, in the world of film fanatics, the BNAT is like the holy grail of movie going experiences. 12 years ago, Alamo Drafthouse creator, Tim Leauge, asked Harry Knowles to create a 24 hour extravaganza for his birthday. Every year around Knowles’ birthday (December 11th), BNAT will commence to bring its lucky audience 24 hours of unrestricted movie ecstasy which is at the mercy of Harry’s own personal choice and mercy. The films are always kept confidential to everyone except Knowles and League, until they start rolling.  Last year’s BNATs  had advanced screenings of Avatar, Shutter Island, and Kick Ass. Aside from the amazing screenings and film selections shown, BNAT is also filled with games, surprises and director/cast Q & A’s.

Photo by Jay Jenner/ American- Statesman. BNAT '05.

Sounds like you want to go? Yeah, well you and everyone else who knows about it. In fact, the BNAT has so many attempted attendees that it is one of the hardest parties you will ever try to get into. No press credentials can get you past this point- the BNAT is reserved only for the most die hard movie fans in town. Those who do get to enter the realm of the almighty are deemed as “BNATTERS”, and take pride in being selected- and they should.

Harry Knowles describes the event:

“What is the BNAT event itself? Well, that is an individual evaluation…it means different things to different people. I know people that have literally had their lives changed forever from BNAT.”

Photo from BNAT's Twitter handle.

 

Think you got what it takes? The Butt-Numb-A-Thon submission form will be posted online this week. This application process asks that you answer specific questions including:

7. “Who would you rather be punched in the face by: Lee Marvin, Clint Walker, Telly Savalas, Donald Sutherland, Robert Ryan, John Cassavetes, Jim Brown, Charles Bronson or Ernest Borgnine- and why?”

10. “Director Robert Aldrich teamed up with Ralph Meeker in 1955’s KISS ME DEADLY- if you have seen this movie, tell me your favorite moment in the film & why. ( A blank answer here will be frowned upon, so do what you can to see it. I promise- you’ll soon see why it is one of Robert Rodriquez & mine’s favorite films to chat about.) “

13. “Tell me your Jim Brown fantasy?”

14. ” WHY DO YOU DESERVE ADMISSION TO BUTT-NUMB-A-THON: THE DIRTY DOZENTH”

15. “How would you humiliate Jeff  ‘The Jew’ Mahler this year? “

 

A thought provoking application with potential rewards that are well worth your time. Butt numbing fun in 2010 never looked so good.

Evil Dead: The Musical

October 18, 2010

Whether you are a die hard fan of the Evil Dead trilogy or you just like a little blood with your song and dance, Evil Dead The Musical is the perfect treat this Halloween month.

Adapted from Sam Rami’s low budget horror films, now cult classics, Evil Dead The Musical takes those same ‘campy’ elements to a whole new and wonderfully cheesy level. The musical incorporates the plot points and characters mostly from Evil Dead I & II but has references to Army of Darkness and of course, a killing of the undead army. The characters are amplified versions of those in the movies and are more stereotyped for comedic value.

Songs featured in the musical include new classics such as “Cabin in the Woods”, “What the F*ck was that?”, “Boomstick” “Do the Necronomicom” and “Blew that B**ch Away” will make you laugh out loud from hilarious satire.

Corpus Christi cast members performing "Do the Necromonicon"

Last year, the production embarked on a successful U.S. tour- but is now back in New York City and Toronto. However with its popularity, many local theaters are adapting their own productions of the hit musical for the month of October.

The Harbor Playhouse's production of Evil Dead The Musical. Poster art by: Adam Elliff


I recently saw the Corpus Christi’s Harbor Playhouse production of it, and frankly, was blown away (not by Ash’s boomstick) by the performances. The set design is brilliantly simple, yet interactive. The various articles on the walls, including a talking moose head, are able to take on movement when, they too, are possessed by Candarian demons. The death scenes are also extremely interactive with the first two rows (but no guarantees for the rest of the audience) being labeled as “Splash Zones”. But unlike Sea World, this splash zone is subject to the bloody massacre of the undead. Strobe lights and ketchup bottles were used in the Harbor Playhouse’s production, which proved extremely effective in drenching the crowd and made way for a entertaining, personal touch to death.

Cast member, Zephaniah Pease, with blood-soaked audience members.

A romp in the woods with over-sexed college students leads to the unleashing of evil spirits, blood, lust, corny one-liner jokes, and of course…show tunes. A perfect way to spend the month of October for anyone over the age of 12.

Going out tonight? You’ve read this just in time.

There has been a buzz over the past few months over coconut water and its health effects. A trend you say? Coconut water is sweeping mouths across the nation with its amazing effects of re-hydration. Low in sugar, FULL of electrolytes, and the best way of hydration after a night of drinking- coconut water is the best remedy for a hangover. And I do mean best.

Time Magazine reports: “10 years ago, when the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) was granted a patent — the first ever given to a U.N. agency — for bottling coconut water in a way that preserves its nutrients, an FAO official noted that the drink contains the same five electrolytes found in human blood (Gatorade has only two). He called coconut water “the fluid of life.” Indeed, in medical emergencies, coconut water has been used intravenously when conventional hydration fluids were not available.”

So when you hit the mean streets of downtown tonight, just have one thing in mind: coconut water. You will be glad you did in the morning.

10 years ago, when the U.N.’s Food and Agriculture Organization (FAO) was granted a patent — the first ever given to a U.N. agency — for bottling coconut water in a way that preserves its nutrients, an FAO official noted that the drink contains the same five electrolytes found in human blood (Gatorade has only two). He called coconut water “the fluid of life.” Indeed, in medical emergencies, coconut water has been used intravenously when conventional hydration fluids were not available.