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Monthly Archives: June 2013

I still can’t believe they got back together. Honestly. I started listening to Ben Folds Five in 2005, at a time in which a BFF reunion seemed impossible. I had to cherish each new Ben Folds solo album because I knew it was the closest thing I’d ever get to new Five material. And believe me, I was more than okay with this reality.

But then last year, the unthinkable happened. Full-on Ben Folds Five reunion. And not just some “the gangs back together” select city tour. No. We got an entire new album! The crowd-sourced phenomenon called The Sound Of The Life Of The Mind was mana from heaven to hungry BFF fans.

After months of touring, the reunited band is now releasing a live album, simply titled Ben Folds Five Live. (If the link is still working, you can stream the full album here.) Ben Folds Five songs always seems to have a life of their own during live performances. Because the band is only a trio, the limited instrumentation forces them to strip down each song to its bare essentials. As an audience, we get to hear each song at its most raw and honest state.

I was lucky enough to see Ben Folds Five on tour last fall and I can attest that this collect of songs is an accurate portray of the variety showcased in their live set lists. Almost every album is represented here. Noteworthy tracks include:

  • “Landed”- I was definitely not expecting a Ben Fold’s solo song on this album. But “Landed” is a great choice. BFF really makes it their own and adds some great accents to the jam at the end. Great stuff.
  • “Draw a Crowd”- My favorite song off the Life Of The Mind. Its a fun angsty song that reminds me of old school BFF.
  • “Narcolepsy”- This song is always powerful live, but this time the guys end it with a great jazz inspired jam.
  • “Song for the Dumped”- They rock this shit. Hard. Awesome moment towards the end when the audience sings a final chorus.

 

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It was my freshman year in college when I first developed my appreciation for all-things-Abrams. Here was a visionary who truly understood the realm of sci-fi. Through works like Lost, Cloverfield, and Super 8, director J.J. Abrams has demonstrated how a skilled filmmaker can pay tribute to the “rules” of the genre, while simultaneously re-write them. We see this idea at work once again in Abrams’ latest film Star Trek Into Darkness.

I never classified myself as a Star Trek fan, and certainly not a Trekkie. However, I’ve always been aware of its importance and had a basic understand of its mythology. I enjoyed Abram’s 2009’s Star Trek reboot, but I wouldn’t say I loved it (the side plot with new Spock and Spock Prime was needlessly confusing and not worth the price of Nemoy-nostalgia). Despite these small issues, I was still interested in seeing Into Darkness. I’m sure I wasn’t alone in looking at the movie like as a test-run for the future Star Wars films.

Overall, I was very pleased with Star Trek Into Darkness. The movie definitely succeeds in building upon the ideas established in the first film. Kirk and Spock’s relationship is put to the test and the crew encounters interesting ethical question that seem very relevant to our post-9/11 world. At what lengths should you go to eliminate a terrorist? When is it justifiable to bend the rules?

I enjoyed this movie so much that I actually went back and watched 1982’s Star Trek: The Wrath of Khan. It was fascinating to see how that film inspired Abrams’ interpretation. But it’s even more interesting to see how Abrams takes those original scenes and makes them his own. Despite how different the special effects are, the two movies still share the same powerful themes regarding friendship and self-sacrifice.


Abram’s shows his brilliance once again with the casting choice of Benedict Cumberbatch. Like most of the world, I was first introduced to the British actor in BBC’s Sherlock. (If you haven’t seen Sherlock yet, I highly recommend you check it out on Netflix.) Cumberbatch has developed a reputation for playing his roles with a passionate intensity and quick-wit style. In this movie, Cumberbatch plays the film’s villain with an icy calm that commands your attention. Zachary Quinto also gives a noteworthy performance and continues to make Spock his own character. As far as paying tribute to the original cast, I’d vote for Karl Urban as most convincing. Urban perfectly captures the grit of Dr. McCoy.

Unlike Star Wars, Gene Roddenberry’s universe deals less with “light vs. dark,” and more so with what it means to be human. This idea is usually played out in the philosophical struggles between Kirk and Spock–one representing emotion, the other logic. Star Trek approaches each problem through two sets of eyes. The first asks, “What is the logical thing to do?” and the second asks, “What is the right thing to do?” We learn that the answer is usually somewhere in between.