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They’re not standing around the watercooler, but Cheryl Sadler, Mark Meszoros, Mark Podolski and Nicole Franz are talking about what they’ve been watching, listening to and playing during their free time.

Monday, July 27, 2009

500 days of unrequited love

Zooey Deschanel and Joseph Gordon-Levitt star in the Fox Searchlight film "500 Days of Summer." (Photo: Fox Searchlight)

This weekend I saw "500 Days of Summer", which features the tagline "Boy meets girl. Boy falls in love. Girl doesn't."

I had been looking forward to seeing this movie because I still harbor some of my elementary school crush on Joseph Gordon-Levitt -- going back to his days of shoulder-length hair when he played an alien in a human's body on "Third Rock from the Sun." Oh, the trailer also looked pretty good.

The movie follows, as the tagline says, a boy (Tom, played by Gordon-Levitt) who meets a girl (Summer, played by Zooey Deschanel), and he falls in love with the girl, but she doesn't love him back. While watching the movie, I felt myself getting incredibly emotionally invested in the characters, cheering for Tom and feeling the same heartbreak he did as Summer used the dreaded F word: friends. Even several hours after I've left the theater, I'm still wishing I knew Tom so I could give him a call and let him know it's going to be OK and I'll be there for him if he needs me. (Seriously, I'll be here if you need me.) (Unless my boyfriend is reading this. Then I want nothing to do with Joseph Gordon-Levitt.)

Actors are harder to believe if they are always in the public eye, if you are exposed to every move they make in their private lives. And I think that idea is what made this movie so successful and what made Gordon-Levitt and Deschanel so believable as the not-totally-sure-if-we're-dating-or-in-love couple. I wouldn't be able to tell you much of anything about these actors as people, so I really felt sympathy toward Tom's unrequited love for Summer. And that feeling is part of what made me love the movie.

-- Cheryl Sadler

(But seriously, Joseph Gordon-Levitt, call me.)


Tuesday, July 21, 2009

OLP lights it up with 'Burn Burn'

Our Lady Peace today releases its seventh studio album, “Burn Burn.”

If you’re an old-school OLP fan, you’ll probably be happy to know it sounds almost nothing like the band’s last album, 2005’s “Healthy In Paranoid Times.”

And that’s no accident.

In a March 2008 interview with the Montreal Gazette, lead singer Raine Maida was positively sick about “Healthy.”

“That record was total excess, total (expletive) in the sense of, we finally had succumbed to a label: making us record that many songs, trying to find the right singles for American radio and MTV,” Maida told the Gazette. “It was so depressing to go through that.”

“Burn Burn” was OLP’s attempt to get back to the group’s early work from the mid-’90s, but there are definitely some tracks mixed in along the way that hint at later points in OLP’s evolution. “Dreamland,” for example, sounds like it could’ve fit seamlessly on the “Gravity” album of 2002.

You won’t hear Maida hit any of those trademark falsetto notes that made “Superman’s Dead” such a hit in 1997. But there’s still a lot to like here, particularly the guitar work done midway through the final track, “Paper Moon.”

Our Lady Peace comes to Cleveland for an Aug. 17 show at House of Blues. In the meantime, if you’re a longtime fan of the band, do yourself a favor and pick up a copy of “Burn Burn.”

- Tom Valentino

Thursday, July 16, 2009

Keyboard Cat makes Hall & Oates' dreams come true

Editing on this video is actually pretty fantastic. You will laugh at this -- or at least get the song in your head the rest of the day.

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Wednesday, July 15, 2009

I need some brand new Brand New

"Tuned Into Pop Culture" guest contributor Nick Carrabine is a News-Herald staff writer.

One of my favorite bands, Brand New, are prepping their fourth release, Daisy, which will hit shelves on Sept. 22.

To say I am ecstatic for this release would be an extreme understatement.

It was one of my most anticipated albums for this year back in January.

What makes Brand New one of my favorite bands is they have never made the same album twice. Their first record, Your Favorite Weapon (2001) was a pop rock album, their second release, Deja Entendu (2003) was a slower, deeper and more mellow album which after hearing it for the first time I actually checked the liner notes to see if the members in the band were the same (they were).

Their third release, The Devil and God Are Raging Inside Me (2006), was very dark as the band explained they went to 13 funerals of friends and family members during the writing and recording process. The album was also heavily influenced by the death of a 7-year-old girl who was decapitated by a drunk driver on the day of her aunt’s wedding. The incident happened a mile away from lead singer Jesse Lacey’s house. Many of the songs on the album, especially “Limousine,” are directly about the tragedy.

The band’s last two albums were met with critical acclaim and increasing commercial success despite the bands disinterest in filming music videos, taking long breaks between albums, and practically ignoring crowds during concerts.

Lacey describes Daisy as “exhausting” and goes in directions where people wouldn’t expect them to go.

He also said the record deals with something coming to a close and he specifically said he doesn't know how much more the band has in them and the band’s ride could be coming to an end. While I don’t believe the band will break-up, it would be one of the more depressing days for me if they did.

I suggest you familiarize yourself with the band below:

Monday, July 13, 2009

New Tru TV series: Vindication for Wile E. Coyote, Acme Co.

With so many shows on hiatus for the summer, I've found my TV choices are a bit slim for the next couple months. I mean, Sam Waterston and Jerry Orbach are brilliant, but even I can only take so many pithy remarks before the opening credits of “Law & Order.”

But fear not! I have found an oasis in this desert wasteland of summer TV viewing.
Tru TV (that’s the revamped Court TV) launched a series last month titled “Man vs. Cartoon.” From the show’s Web site, here’s its premise:

“Watch as a team of the country’s brightest minds takes on the devices and techniques used by Wile E. Coyote in his vain attempts to snare his arch-enemy the Road Runner. See if expertise, years of training and the best equipment that money can buy will be enough to actually make Coyote’s flawed Acme Company machines work.”

That’s right folks, a group of students and researchers at New Mexico Tech's Energetic Materials Research and Testing Center are breaking down film of Wile E.’s debacles and attempting build successful versions of his traps, gadgets and killing machines.

Among the contraptions the group has tried so far: a model airplane carrying a bomb, rocket-powered roller skates, and a swinging spear attack.

For aficionados of the Wile E. Coyote-Roadrunner cartoons of yesteryear, this is a terrific trip down memory lane. For those interested in physics and science with a little technology thrown in, it’s a lighthearted hour. For the Acme Company, it’s a boon for business. OK, Acme isn’t real, but if it was, I’m sure they’d see profits beating Wall Street expectations thanks to the exposure on national TV, with its products being shown actually working for once.

New episodes air at 10 p.m. Saturdays, with reruns throughout the week.

- Tom Valentino

The Real World. Really?

"Tuned Into Pop Culture" guest contributor Nick Carrabine is a News-Herald staff writer.

I made fun of MTV’s the Real World for a good decade and a half.

I didn’t understand it as a child, and I still don’t understand it as, well, some would argue I’m still a child.

I do know one thing, I actually live in the real world and know many other people who do too. I don’t, nor do they, live in a fancy mansion with seven other model like creatures. I don’t go out every single night to clubs in some exotic place like Sydney, Cancun or Hawaii.

Just because you put seven strangers in an extraordinary mansion with different religions, ethnicity and sexual preferences, doesn’t mean you are living in the real world.

You know why? The real world, for most people, isn’t a non-stop party.

Most people are struggling beyond belief, hate their jobs, don’t have the money to enjoy themselves on the weekends and can’t go on one weekend vacation, let alone live in their dream location for six months.

For those who haven’t experienced this Mona Lisa of television, here is every single season in a nutshell: Seven to eight good looking snobby 18 to 24-year-olds move in with each other in a dream house, get drunk every night and fight until they want to kill each other over some of the most asinine things such as someone borrowing an item and not returning it, calling someone a derogatory name or not doing the dishes. Because we all know, those are important real world issues in the 21st Century.

What’s even better is, every single episode is the same as the one the week before that, and the week before that until you get all the way back to 1992 when the series premiered.

MTV really hit the nail right on the head. This is the real world alright.

I think I’m going to create a show called the Real Real World, where seven to eight bummy looking poor 18-24-year-olds move in to a small apartment, struggling to reach rent every month and would love to go out to your local watering hole, but can’t afford the funds to do so, so they resort to flipping burgers at Wendy’s. They’ll be too busy trying to survive in the Real Real World to hate each other or go out “clubbin” every night.

There aren’t going to be any hot tubs placed inside of the house, the wall-sized aquariums in the living room will be replaced with get this, a wall, and a gym won’t conveniently be located on the first floor because these seven to eight bummy people aren’t too much concerned with their physical appearance.

Having all this said, about two years ago, when I was living in my two-bedroom apartment in Bowling Green (that’s about as exotic as it gets ladies and gentleman) I actually watched a full season of The Real World...and liked it.

Truth be told, I’ve watched two out of the last three seasons and I’ve been watching the new season as well.

Why? Because I’m an idiot.

There is a reason why this show has been on for 17 years and its because MTV is evil and somehow get you suckered into this poppycock.

How could you not love watching these ungrateful, conceited, stuck-up, people who think they are gods and goddesses struggling to survive in what they perceive is the real world where the only decisions they really have to make throughout the season is which blond to go after in the club or whether or not they should take it easy tonight because last night they got too buried.

The show should be called “College Part II: Only here is a mansion to live in and your roommate is an aspiring model from New York. Oh, and don’t worry about any responsibilities.”

Like a stooge, I’ll be watching episode three of the new season at 10 p.m. on Wednesday.

This time though, I’ll be in my four-bedroom condominium in Concord Township.

Yes, I know. I’m living large in the real world.

I don’t need MTV to tell me that.

Thursday, July 9, 2009

This film board has been rated questionable

I saw two movies this week that got me thinking about those film ratings given by the Motion Picture Association of America.

One was the 2006 documentary “This Film Is Not Yet Rated,” an examination of said ratings system and a movie that had inexplicably gone unseen by me for far too long. Although the ratings system had never fascinated me, the inner workings of the movie industry generally do. And any documentary that promises to illuminate you on a subject is worth checking out.

Filmmaker Kirby Dick makes a very compelling case that the MPAA’s rating system is, among other things, inconsistent and much more fair to studio films than independents. Indie filmmakers talk on camera about receiving the dreaded NC-17 rating — which replaced the X rating some time ago and virtually guarantees their film won’t be seen by the masses — without much guidance from the ratings board on what they could cut to bump the rating to an R. The studios, on the other hand, tend to get helpful notes from the board — trim here, tuck here, lose this, and you’re good to go.

The most compelling case for that inconsistency comes from Matt Stone, one half of the duo behind “South Park.” When he and partner in comic crime Trey Parker were making their 1997 indie comedy “Orgazmo,” which boasted, arguably, strong sexual content, they were slapped with an NC-17 and told little about how to change that. Years later, the duo made the raunchy puppet comedy “Team America: World Police.” This time, after getting what was probably a well-deserved NC-17, they were given detailed notes on what steps to take to get an R. And OH BY THE WAY, the film was produced by Paramount Pictures.

Stone talked about how initially he, Parker and Co. shot extra footage — extra-raunchy footage — that they never intended to use in the final version, just to give the board something it could recommend for cutting.

The guess here is that was the same approach taken by the makers of the other movie I saw this week, “Bruno,” which hits theaters Friday. Sacha Baron Cohen’s follow-up to “Borat” originally was given an NC-17, and yet the R-rated version is still full of industrial-strength raunchy material. Made by Universal Pictures, “Bruno,” too, probably just needed to offer the MPAA something that could be left on the cutting room floor. (After seeing the movie, which I’ll review in Friday’s News-Herald, I can’t imagine what DIDN’T make it in.)

In “This Film Is Not Yet Rated,” Kirby makes a strong argument that the board is unnecessarily anonymous — he hires private investigators to unearth their identies — and, worse, that it is much more lenient when it comes to male sexuality than female sexuality. That’s appalling.

Unlike some of the filmmakers, I believe we do need a ratings system. I’m sure it’s helpful to parents. And truthfully, I don’t care whether a film gets a PG rating when G might have done. But that R/NC-17 turn is tricky. More filmmakers should be given the benefit of the doubt, that they are trying to make art, not striving for salaciousness. (OK, maybe not Stone and Parker, as much as I love “South Park.”

This blog post has been rated PG-13 ... by me.

— Mark Meszoros

Tuesday, July 7, 2009

Happy birthday Sly

Sylvester Stallone turned 63 on Monday, and he's not done yet.

Not even close.

He's rumored to do another Rambo film (No. 5, if you're counting), and his next movie, "The Expendables," proves one thing: Stallone knows how to attract a male audience, no matter his age. Consider who's in the upcoming flick - Stallone himself, Jason Statham of the "Crank" and "Transporter" series, Dolph Lundgren (aka Ivan Drago), Eric Roberts, Jet Li, 'Stone Cold' Steve Austin and Mickey Rourke. That's man power at its finest.

Stallone calls the movie and its $70 million budget an, "Old-school, kick-ass action movie where people are fighting with knives and shooting at each other."

Which I say, "Hell yeah! When can I buy my movie ticket!"

Sure, Stallone isn't making Oscar-worthy films anymore and hasn't for a long time. Don't forget "Rocky" won the award for best film and for that he will always be remembered. Especially the way he did it, which was his way. He wrote the script and, despite being nearly broke at the time, refused to sell it to producers unless he starred in the film. He deserves a ton of respect.

So, in honor of Stallone, Ten in the Morning counts down the best Stallone movies of all-time, because that's the kind of thing I do:

10. "Night Hawks" (1981)

9. "Victory" (1981)

8. "Rocky IV" (1985)

7. "Rocky II" (1979)

6. "Rambo: First Blood Part II" (1985)

5. "Cliffhanger" (1993)

4. "Rocky Balboa" (2006)

3. "First Blood" (1982)

2. "Rocky III" (1982)

1. "Rocky" (1976)

- Mark Podolski