Those of you that may have a greater affinity for go-go music than myself will have to excuse the brevity of this post. I almost didn't say anything about it at all. However, being that there was song in particular that comes to mind everytime I think of go-go music then I would be remiss if I didn't say a little something about the passing of this legend.
The Godfather of Go-Go music Chuck Brown passed away last Wednesday due to complications from sepsis. He was 75-years-old.
Maybe if I lived in DC then I would have a greater appreciation for the impact that Chuck had on music with his creation of the go-go sound. However, having lived in the midwest for all my life then the only thing I can relate to in terms of a genre that a region created is house music. And even then I couldn't tell you who would be considered the godfather of house music.
Honestly, I never even heard a Chuck Brown song until the news of his passing. Then I started catching them much more frequently on the likes of Sirius and Pandora. Although to be fair it was always the same song they played: "Bustin' Loose". Didn't know that was his. I had a sound much more different in mind when I think of go-go.
The extent of my go-go is the one-hit wonders EU who came up with "Da Butt" from the "School Daze" soundtrack. LOVED that song. I still occasionally pump it to this day. Mainly because it brings back fond memories of the AKA Catilion my senior year in high school. One of the very last things I did before I would end up leaving for a summer with the Air National Guard a couple of days later.
So if Chuck Brown was the godfather that helped to later inspire groups like EU to give us cuts like "Da Butt" then it was imperative that I give him his due credit. I understand that he would perform tirelessly at his shows making it hard to believe that he was 70+. I can always appreciate that type of work ethic and it will definitely be missed in an era where that is what is lacking in today's music.
I can't front and not admit that I was one of the biggest doubters of this flick when I first saw the trailer. I had been saying for the longest that it was nothing more than Michael Bay's attempt to give us some filler until the next "Transformers" movie hits. Well I still stand by that. Nevertheless, I found myself with some spare time one afternoon and after seeing some folks talking about the great effects, I caved and decided to see it.
"Battleship" appeared to have a bit of a misleading name since it is VERY loosely based on the famous Hasbro game that we are all familiar with. This super-budget movie involves a fleet of Navy vessels that are out doing war game manuevers when they encounter an armada of unknown origins set on destructive goals. It turns out the alien life came to earth due to a signal we had sent out years ago in search of intelligent life. Now that they have arrived, it's up to a select few Navy vessels to make sure they don't bring about the extinction of the human race.
My problem with this movie from the onset was the same that I'm sure many people had. Anyone that grew up with this game knows full well it was never about any alien lifeform. They never even specified what type of Navies were involved. It was just two regular Navies going at it. And the trailers to "Battleship" don't seem to indicate anything remotely close to the type of action the game portrays. To their credit, there is one scene in the movie where they finally key in to the element of the game. It doesn't last very long and it is reaching quite a bit (as much of the film does), but at least they did incorporate it.
Being such a huge "Friday Night Lights" fan I unfortunately became dismayed the minute I found out that Riggins (Taylor Kitsch...but he will always be Riggins to me) was in the starring role. He just hasn't been able to sell me on any movie he's been in ever since seeing him on "FNL". It certainly didn't help that they tried to pass him off as Gambit in the "Wolverine" movie. That was bad enough, but trying to make us believe that he's a Lieutenant in the Navy? Come on now.
I go into every action flick knowing to expect some bit of corniness. It just comes with the genre. This one just had a bit more than most. It seemed like every few minutes they were trying to implement some. Just once I'd like to see an action flick where they leave that out altogether and let the action speak for itself. But when you have a movie where Rihanna is playing a Naval Petty Officer then you can pretty much guarantee the corniness will be at an all-time high.
The special effects were very much on point. They definitely make sure they got their money's worth from the $209 million budget spent on making "Battleship". The alien warships featured throughout the movie were all very impressive. Especially once they started engaging in action. Now the actual aliens themselves? That's another story altogether. Apparently there wasn't a lot of thought that went into their appearance. Or time put into their CGI. I guess $209 million doesn't go as far as used to.
Don't go into "Battleship" expecting to see Oscar award-winning performances. In spite of the fact that Liam Neeson is on board who evidently just wanted an extra paycheck. It's your standard popcorn fluff designed to optimize a theater's HD screens and surround sound for more summer filler. Although the 2 hours, 11 minutes was not an entire waste of time it would have been better spent just watching "Avengers" for a second time.
Why does it always seem like when I come back to posting that after a brief layoff that it always has to be about death? Maybe if I would post a little more often I wouldn't have that problem. It is what it is though. I'm certainly not going to let some of these important folks go uneulogized by me when they played a part in my pop culture in one way or another.
The Queen of Disco Donna Summer passed away last Friday as a result of lung cancer. She was only 63-years-old.
You all know I'm a child of the 70s so I'm very familiar with the artists of that era. Not so much disco per se, but I clearly remember Donna's records getting frequent play on my favorite Kansas City station KPRS. Cuts like "Bad Girls" and "Street Life" stuck with me for years. In fact, I doubt there's anyone from my age group who doesn't remember the intro from that KUCB talk show that came on at 6pm. If you never heard "Street Life" before you at least definitely know it from that intro.
My favorite recollection of her though was her role in "Thank God It's Friday". Just as "Breakin'" would later become movie that highlighted the breakdance culture, "TGIF" did that for disco. It is one of the corniest movies you'll ever see, but that's what made it SO good. Summer played a struggling artist trying to catch a big break at a local disco with her classic cut "Last Dance" being the hit of the film. Ever since seing that that flick that's the only thing I can think of whenever someone mentions "TGIF".
The interesting thing about her illness is Donna's people say the cause of her lung cancer was not related to smoking because she was not a smoker. She had indicated in her last days that it was something she had caught as a result of being in very close proximity to Ground Zero when 9/11 took place. If that truly is the case then that makes her passing all the more tragic. Whatever the case may be she will be missed.
Aren't we going on now the third weekend that this has been out? So someone that wouldn't know any better would think that I just saw this today. Au contraire. I actually peeped a matinee of this opening day. Not the midnight showing that I wanted because I wanted to see it with my son who I wasn't going to have out that late despite how much he wanted to. So most of you probably have already seen this reviewed to death. That's all good..but you haven't seen MY review yet. Until now...
The plot is the same story as every other superhero movie that has come out. There's a madman trying to take over the world and the heroes have to save it. This flick's baddie is Thor's half-brother Loki (Tom Hiddleston). The heroes are an initiative that we've seen being hinted at as a super-group for the past several Marvel movies now. Something that I must say was rather impressive of Marvel to be able to assemble the original cast from all those films in order to make this happen. Except, of course, for the Hulk (Mark Ruffalo here) who is now on the third different actor to play him.
I had been apprehensive for a while about them trying to bring the Avengers to the big screen. Primarily because I was a huge X-Men fan growing up. The Avengers were just okay to me. The only two I really liked were Hawkeye and Vision and I already knew Vision wasn't going to even be in the film. But the one thing that gave me hope was the animated Avengers movies that came out in 2006 called "Ultimate Avengers". I figured if they could find a way to pull off a live version of that then there was a chance "Avengers" could be worth it's mettle. The technology was not there so the effects shouldn't be an issue. Then the trailers started providing me even more encouragement. All it had to do from that point was just live up to the hype.
Where the Avengers benefits is the fact that they didn't have to spend a lot of time on any backstories. That's what held up the first X-Men movie a little. Marvel thought ahead and already told all those stories in the "Thor", "Captain America" and "Iron Man" flicks. So all there was here was to actually bring them together. The manner in which that was done was handled brilliantly. Common sense would tell you that folks with those kind of super powers would have super egos that would not instantly mesh. Thank goodness because their initial in-fighting was some of the best parts of the film.
It looked for a minute there that Iron Man was going to steal the show. Downey Jr. probably had some of the best one-liners in this one so he had the comedy element down. However, it was the Hulk that really took over once the action started. The good thing was it wasn't as though he fully dominated those sequences. It was extremely well balanced in having all the heroes action just as spectacular as the others. Okay...except maybe fore Black Widow (Scarlett Johannson). But to be fair, her powers pale in comparison to her teammates. Plus, when you have Johannson in that role, she really doesn't need to do much. Just put thee camera on her and you're good.
I will admit that I also had some reservations about having Loki as the main villain. Is that even how it is in the comics? I just remember him being Thor's adversary but not the entire Avengers team. It didn't matter though. Hiddleston made that Loki character very entertaining to watch. Not an easy task given the fact that the writers gave us yet another tired storyline of bad guys trying to channel alien beings to our planet for an invasion. Seriously...can Hollywood please scrap that tired plot already? Anyway, Hiddleston's Loki was the perfect combination of insanely maniacal while still witty enough to be somewhat likable.
The bottomline is would the average person who doesn't like superhero movies like "The Avengers"? Well it's certainly no "Dark Knight" that has that type of appeal. However, I would venture to say that this was the best movie that Marvel has made to date. And given how much I liked "X2" as well as "Spider-Man 2", that is saying a lot.
Okay...finally caught up on the photos so time to knock out some posts before I get busy with another weekend of shooting. This entry was long overdue because it meant to coincide with the passing of two other celebrities during the same time period. I ended up waiting so long that there were two other significant deaths in the meantime. We'll get to that in a second though. For now...a great writer is gone...
Famed children's author Maurice Sendak passed away last Thursday due to complications from a recent stroke. He was 83-years-old.
I have to be honest...I don't even remember what "Where The Wild Things Are" was about. Remember when it was made into a movie a couple of years back and everyone was making a big deal out of it because of what a popular children's book it was? Well it has been YEARS since I read it. The only thing I could remember was the pictures and what all the characters look like.
Still, there's a lot to be said for the fact that Sendak's characters struck such a memorable chord that they resonate even with the youth today. Even though I didn't help contribute to it at all by never reading it to my children. I know...it's a dang shame. I think we even had the book in our collection too. I don't know what I was thinking.
At least we will always have dude's books to remember him by. He may be gone but those literary works of art will remain forever. Maybe I'll even read one in his honor. Or at least look at the pictures.
So the plan was that I was going to surprise Mom with a visit this past weekend. Just to be on the safe side I did alert Diah and Dad. I had no idea that Diah would also tell her kids which would increase the probability that someone would spill the beans. Surprisingly they didn't. But my plan of surprise didn't work out quite the way I wanted. I was supposed to walk in the house as Mom was on the couch so I could see the look on her face of "Who is this walking up in my house??"
The problem was I underestimated how long it would take me to get from Ames to Bloomington. GPS told me 5 hours 29 minutes. It seemed accurate. Especially given the fact that there would have to be at least one stop in there for gas. However, it didn't take into consideration that I tend to drive slightly over the speed limit from time to time. Enough in this instance that even with stopping for gas AND a couple of restroom breaks it only took me 5 hours flat. I pulled up as Mom and Dad were getting back from eating dinner. Mom was still shocked, just not in the venue I was anticipating. Whatever works though.
The last time I visited Bloomington was clear back in Thanksgiving of last year. I quickly grew a greater appreciation for a four and a half day visit. Maybe even took it for granted. This time around I wasn't able to get in town until 9pm at night. It made the next day and a half fly by too quickly. The visit felt incredibly rushed. I still made the most of it anyway as I kept in mind that once I move to Texas, these type of visits will be much more infrequent.
The biggest drawback of a short visit? No time for some effective photos. Y'all know how I like that. I wanted to set up my mobile studio of XL-Images East and get even more updated great shots of Mom. No time for that though. Oh...and the small problem that the remote trigger on my lights has been acting a fool lately. Yes, I know I need to invest in pocket wizards to solve that problem (my fellow photo nerds know what I'm talking about) but a brotha is a little strapped at the moment.
Instead, I had to settle for this not to random shot you see here. I intended for it to be just Mom. But she insisted that Diah join her. Then Jozalyn jumped in. So it would have been a true Mother's Day photo were it not for my niece. It's all good though because these are still three beautiful Fleming women which helped to make the photo turn out amazing.
Some of you may have not have been with this site since the beginning so you weren't privy to my theory on Mother's Day. It's simple. It's the same way I feel about Father's Day and even Valentine's Day. You shouldn't need a special day to let your parent/significant other know they're special. Although let's face it...some folks need that day to remind themselves of that. Not me. I'm proud every day that I have the greatest Mom in the world.
What is the deal with us losing our hip-hop legends at young ages? No, I don't mean the senseless (though, let's face it, expected) deaths of Pac and Biggie years ago. I mean the 40-somethings. Or maybe it was just that Heavy D's passing was so huge that it seemed like there have been more. Regardless, this latest one was another one I didn't see coming.
Famed co-founding Beastie Boy Adam Yauch (better known as MCA to us hip hop heads) succumbed to his battled with cancer last week. He was only 47-years-old.
I will never forget the first time I heard the Beastie Boys. Run-DMC were at the height of their popularity and had successfully crossed rap over to the mainstream. There were some naysayers that tried to dismiss it as a cultural phenomenon that wouldn't last primarily because it had such a narrow fan-base. What they really meant was it wouldn't last because only our folks were doing it. Then along came the Beastie Boys. And unlike the gimmick of a Vanilla Ice that would come along later, these were white guys that actually had skills.
Honestly, I didn't think the Beasties would have the lengthy career that they did. They managed to keep recreating theirselves so that they could grow a broader audience. Sure, they lost most of us true hip-hop fans once they started going off in that spacesound alternative music they went to, but somebody must have liked it because they kept selling records. It's all good because no matter what they did we always had their hip-hop classic "License to Ill" to remember them by.
I had no idea that MCA even had cancer. Apparently he had been treating for it since 2009 after they discovered a tumor in his salivary gland. I have never known anyone to have cancer and lived with it peacefully so it's good to know that he no longer has to live with any pain. One of hip-hop's true pioneers shouldn't have to live his final days in distress.