I’ve never fully understood traffic, but I knew that it always came at the wrong time and that the great city of Philadelphia is FULL of it. I mean, what the heck is the person in front doing that makes us miss the first song of a Weird Al concert? Well, it was partly my fault, because if you decide to leave a half hour before because you ever so wanted a plate of wings, you are going to miss a thing and a thang. So the duration of the car ride was mainly for feeling poorly about your choices that you have made.
And then there was an Al, clearly weirder in person than you would ever find him through a computer screen. Tie-dye shirt and pants, braided hair, wide-open eyes, accordion and all. Quickly, we rushed ourselves over to our seats, and then we sat back to enjoy the show. “ARE YOU READY TO POLKA!!!!” screamed Weird Al. The crowd cheered in response. Then, before you could blink, Miley Cyrus’s face appeared on a giant screen, and there was polka involved too, of course. Al was singing “Wrecking Ball” to Polka! The crowd laughed his way to the next Polka parody pop piece. That should be a tongue twister. Anyways, it was definitely unique. And a great first concert experience if I were to say so myself.
There is no way I could just get through every song that he did that fateful night, but I could go through some of most honorable mentions that I think would help prove my point that everyone who hasn’t been to a Weird Al Yankovic concert is a sadistic clown. Read the rest of this entry »
BY DAN BUSKIRK FILM CRITIC A full 45 features into his directing career, Woody Allen returns with a solid entry in his late-career revival. Irrational Man certainly hits on many of the themes and totems we’ve seen explored in previous Allen films (existential ennui, May-September romance, murder plots et al) yet the film has enough fresh elements and performances to warrant turning yourself over to another of the Wood Man’s late-period dramas.
Allen has told crime stories before, this is the first one he’s made that seems to channel Hitchcock’s psychological thrillers. Although Joaquin Phoenix’s philosophy professor Abe Lucas is the title character, the film is mainly seen through the eyes of his star-struck student Jill. (Emma Stone) Like us, she first finds the faith-rattled divorcée a charming wreck. Abe has arrived at his little New England college (shot at Newport, Rhode Island’s Salve Regina University) to teach and finish his book and the whole faculty is full of whispery gossip about his past. Parker Posey is Rita, a married teacher who is looking to run-off with Abe but it is his love-struck student Jill who thinks that she is the one who can save him from his deep well of depression. Abe mopes and mopes about the state of the world but what finally gives Abe’s life meaning is something he overhears in a diner that compels him to plot a murder that he believes will make the world a better place. His demeanor lightens as his plan takes shape, raising suspicions in both Jill and Rita that all is not well in Abe’s increasingly light-hearted psyche.
Sure, philosophers names are casually dropped, young girls find older guys irresistible and old jazz tunes appear in the score (lots of pianist Ramsey Lewis) but at its best Irrational Man makes us forget we’re watching a Woody Allen film. This is partially due to Woody’s exile from New York City but it is Emma Stone as much as leafy Newport that transports Woody’s film to fresh ground. Joaquin is fine displaying his patented Brooding Man Of Self-Doubt but it is really Stone who elevates every scene she is in, exhuming the honest emotion that lies beneath this age-old story of a man trying to dot the I’s and cross the T’s on his perfect murder plot. Despite Joaquin’s juicy role at the center it’s Jill reaction to Abe’s metamorphosis from lifeless depressive to reborn killer that gives the film the urgency to enliven its timeworn premise.
Just as the film threatens to take on larger dimensions Woody springs the final trap and brings this murder drama to a quick end. This keeps the film’s success on a modest scale yet gives more evidence that despite his ups and downs, 45 features later Woody has not lost his sense of purpose.
It seems like every six months or so I’m terrorized by reports that a full service restaurant is going to be in the middle of the temple of cinema. You’ve heard about the places, they offer wait service from your theater seat to take your order mid-film and come back later with a stinky crabcake sandwich and an over-priced microbrew. In the old days the was a special venue for the easily-distracted theater goer. It had comfortable seats, one could strap on the feed bag during the show, you could talk, talk, talk and even make sweet love with your partner if the loins were a-burning. It was born right in Camden and it was called “The Drive-In.”
How did this ever go out of style? Check your phone, make fun of the movie, snort and belch; you won’t bother anyone in the comfort of your automobile. The amount of space they needed is partially to blame for the drive-in’s demise but it you’re willing to travel a little a handful of outdoor screens still exist. The Mahoning Drive-in in Leighton (right next door to Jim Thorpe) is about 90 minutes from Center City in the Poconos and they have returned after a few seasons of darkness to provide the full drive-in experience. Actually a better drive-n experience than some of the dumps of my youth, Mahoning is actually spic and span with a very reasonable snack bar and a great sense of history towards the drive-in market.
Without a digital projector, The Mahoning Drive-in in Leighton PA (just next to Jim Thorpe) has been cut off from showing current blockbusters but this has forced them to get creative in their programming. They’ve tapped Exhumed Films, the Philly-area collective to supply those rare 35mm prints for their screening and this summer they have together delivering one of the odder cinematic spectacles around, making the drive-in an open-air repertory house celebrating great films from the past. This weekend gives us a Friday double-bill of horror director Dario Argento’s career apex Suspira with the beloved 1976 cult film Alice Sweet Alice, in a cut not available on home video. Saturday bring us irresistible gang film The Warriors and oddly enough Eddie Murphy’s live stand-up comedy feature from 1987, Raw. At the end of the month look out “Camp Blood” a weekend of camping-themed slasher films (including a triple-bill of Friday the 13th films) at Mahoning with on-site camping available for the strong of heart. Come on out, lose popcorn beneath your seats and help keep the drive-in tradition alive!
DAVID EDELSTEIN: The tour in The End of the Tour is David Foster Wallace’s 1996 multicity promotion for his epic novel Infinite Jest, a fractured portrait of a manic culture and the biting loneliness at its heart. The movie, directed by James Ponsoldt from a script by the playwright Donald Margulies, depicts what happens when Wallace (Jason Segel) becomes a cog in the machine he’s attempting to deconstruct. He’s seen through the eyes of the writer David Lipsky (Jesse Eisenberg), who tags along to the last city, Minneapolis, for a Rolling Stone profile. Lipsky has just published his own novel to resounding crickets, and he oscillates between jealousy of Wallace’s sudden celebrity and a desire to live vicariously through it — to know what it’s like to be a literary sensation. Wallace, meanwhile, is visibly uncomfortable with his stardom, partly because he doesn’t want to be seen as comfortable with it and partly because he’s afraid he’ll be weakened by it existentially. He’s especially frightened of being on TV, which riveted him as a child and instilled in him the conviction that mainstream culture is evolving into an ever more efficient drug. He does, however, admit that he’d like to get laid more easily.
The End of the Tour is essentially a two-character piece in which every exchange is boldface, fraught. Wallace studies Lipsky studying him while Lipsky labors to find his story. The film doesn’t tell you that Lipsky never found it, psyching himself out to the point where he didn’t even publish the piece. But he did release an annotated transcript of the interview after Wallace’s 2008 suicide under the title Although of Course You End Up Becoming Yourself. It’s not too revealing. Wallace is controlled, self-censoring, showing little of the tempestuousness that emerges in D. T. Max’s biography Every Love Story Is a Ghost Story, let alone the philosophical daredevilry of a novelist striving to further the explorations of Thomas Pynchon and Don DeLillo. But Ponsoldt and Margulies have squeezed every last drop of subtext out of the material, and at times the movie’s small canvas feels momentous. They’ve found the inner tensions in people’s presentations of themselves in a way that’s positively Wallace-like.
Segel had me from the moment Wallace clumsily ushers Lipsky into his rural-Illinois home and says, “I feel like I should offer you tea or something.” The line means: How are we supposed to do this? His Wallace is lumbering, at a distance from his body, working to project earnestness after publicly rejecting irony as a soul-killing palliative — as well as contrary to the spirit of Alcoholics Anonymous, which likely saved his life. Segel’s delivery — with its built-in hesitation — suggests a man who’s always measuring himself against others. His self-deprecation is competitiveness redirected. MORE
SECRET CINEMA:For the Movie Party’s Sweet Sixteen, we’ll be watching the 1960s cult classic “Hot Rods to Hell.” It will go down on Friday, July 31st at the William Way LGBT Community Center, with light food and drinks at 6:00. At $20 (or $25 at the door) this a great way for everybody to come show their support for the AIDS Law Project’s mission! To purchase tickets or find out about sponsorship opportunities, go HERE.
RELATED: Shuggie Otis then released his first solo album later that year entitled Here Comes Shuggie Otis on Epic Records. Countless musicians were his guests on that debut attempt, including Johnny, Leon Haywood, Al McKibbon, Wilton Felder. This further established his reputation and catapulted him to the attention of B. B. King, who was quoted in a 1970 issue of Guitar Player magazine saying Otis was his “favorite new guitarist”. Some of the artists Otis performed and recorded with during that time include Frank Zappa (having played electric bass on “Peaches en Regalia” on the 1969 album Hot Rats), Etta James, Eddie Vinson, Richard Berry, Louis Jordan, and Bobby ‘Blue’ Bland, among many others. The album Otis received the most notoriety for was his second Epic Records release in 1971, Freedom Flight, which featured his hit “Strawberry Letter 23“. Both the album and single reached the Billboard Top 200 and the Billboard Hot 100, respectively and caught the attention of Brothers Johnson guitarist George Johnson, who then played it for producer Quincy Jones. They covered the song and it instantly became a smash hit. Even though Otis played most of his own parts in the studio, the lineup on this album was quite extensive, including keyboardist href=”https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/George_Duke”>George Duke and Aynsley Dunbar of Frank Zappa, Journey and Whitesnake fame. In 1974, Otis released Inspiration Information, his third and final album for Epic Records. The album had taken almost three years to finish. All the songs were written and arranged by Otis himself, who played almost exclusively every musical instrument on the album (except for horns and various stringed instruments). However, despite its long-awaited impact, Inspiration Information had but one single (the title track) reach the Billboard Hot 100. After the album’s release, Otis was approached by Billy Preston on behalf of The Rolling Stones, asking him to join the band for their upcoming world tour. He declined the offer, along with the chance to work with Quincy Jones in helping produce Otis’s next album. After a series of similar refusals, Otis gained the reputation of “taking his time”, and his recording contract with Epic Records was nullified. Otis’s only credited works throughout the mid-1970s were done as a session musician for his father’s recording projects. Inspiration Information gained a huge cult following during the 1990s with the emergence of rare groove and acid jazz. It was lauded by such musicians as Prince and Lenny Kravitz. Due in part to this regained interest, the album was re-released on April 3, 2001, by David Byrne‘s independent label Luaka Bop Records. MORE
ROOM tells the extraordinary story of Jack (Jacob Tremblay in a breakout performance), a spirited 5 year-old who is looked after by his loving and devoted Ma (Brie Larson, SHORT TERM 12, TRAINWRECK). Like any good mother, Ma dedicates herself to keeping Jack happy and safe, nurturing him with warmth and love and doing typical things like playing games and telling stories. Their life, however, is anything but typical—they are trapped—confined to a windowless, 10-by-10-foot space, which Ma has euphemistically named “Room.” Ma has created a whole universe for Jack within Room, and she will stop at nothing to ensure that, even in this treacherous environment, Jack is able to live a complete and fulfilling life. But as Jack’s curiosity about their situation grows, and Ma’s resilience reaches its breaking point, they enact a risky plan to escape, ultimately bringing them face-to-face with what may turn out to be the scariest thing yet: the real world. ROOM also stars three-time Academy Award® nominee Joan Allen and Academy Award® nominee William H. Macy. At once a taut narrative of captivity and freedom, an imaginative trip into the wonders of childhood, and a profound portrait of a family’s bonds and fortitude, ROOM is a beautifully transcendent experience based on the award-winning global bestseller by Emma Donoghue. Director Lenny Abrahamson (FRANK) remains faithful to the novel while bringing Jack, Ma and their entirely singular world to heart-pounding and intensely cinematic life. ROOM demonstrates the triumphant power of familial love even in the darkest of circumstances, and is sure to take its place among the most emotionally affecting films to ever explore the bond between parents and children.
BUZZ FEED: Over the long weekend, three college-age kids and five adults fell ill with the same symptoms. First they would slur their words, as if they were drunk. They would see double, and start swaying, then they would fall asleep and snore heavily. They could be roused, speak, go to the bathroom, even eat food, but then they would fall back asleep. They stayed in this state for days. When they finally woke up, they didn’t remember anything. The villagers didn’t understand what was wrong. Maybe the kids had been doing drugs, they told each other, maybe the adults drank too much. But it didn’t add up.
That’s when the townspeople remembered Lyuba and Nadezhda. They remembered another woman who worked in a shop across the street from the market, who fell ill a few weeks after Nadezhda. She snored and couldn’t be woken for days either. Someone mentioned Bogdan — the high school senior who had come home from school and fallen on the carpet around the same time as Lyuba. Bogdan had been active in his illness, verging on violent. He kept trying to run somewhere and had to be tied down to the hospital bed. He was out for nine days. He didn’t remember anything either. Drugs, the town rumor mill had churned, maybe he drank something. It wouldn’t be the first time homemade brew had gone wrong. Teenagers, they had tutted.
They remembered Julia, a shop attendant who had gone across the street to the bakery in Kalachi a few months before Nauryz. After she came back, she took off her jacket and sat down, but when she tried to stand again, she couldn’t. She tried to speak, but her speech was slurred, as if she’d chugged a bottle of vodka on her morning bread run. She was ill for three days. When she woke up, the doctors told her she had overexerted herself. She needed to rest more. But Julia was 28 and she wasn’t particularly tired. The doctors said there was something wrong with her spine. After that, Julia was fired from her job; the proprietor didn’t want a liability. Poor Julia, people had said at the time.
Just as they were slowly connecting the dots, the residents of Kalachi and Krasnogorsk started getting sick en masse. It came like a biblical plague exacting revenge on all those people who had tutted poor Lyuba, poor Nadezhda, poor Julia. There would be nine waves of sleeping sickness in total — no street would be spared — over 130 people, a quarter of the total population, some multiple times. Everyone would exhibit similar symptoms: the slurred speech, the swaying, and the double vision. When they woke up, they remembered nothing. Everyone was getting the same diagnosis: encephalopathy of unknown origin, basically abnormal brain function of no known cause. Scientists arrived with sample baggies and metal machines; then came local government officials in suits with clipboards and surveys about relocation. Journalists swarmed. People kept getting sick. No one knew why or what to do about it. And — despite reports this summer that a possible explanation has been discovered — they still don’t. MORE
XXL: No one was expecting Drake to unleash a second diss track centered around Meek Mill, especially “Back to Back.” With Drake’s initial response, “Charged Up,” released Saturday (July 25), to mediocre reviews, it seemed Meek was arguably winning the highly publicized beef. Until today that is. Upon the unveiling of “Back to Back,” the venomous track Drake dropped after Meek and Hot 97 built up hype but did not deliver on Meek’s diss, allegedly set for release this Monday, the internet went crazy after hearing the Toronto star’s second comeback. With lines like “is that a world tour or your girl’s tour,” “trigger fingers turn to twitter fingers”, and “shout-out to all my boss b*tches wife-in ni**as;” Drizzy has undoubtedly occupied the throne of the ongoing beef. But, who’s to say Meek won’t come through with the hammer? Only time will tell. MORE
CNN: The photo features Joe Carter celebrating his walk-off home run, which secured a win for Toronto and was their second victory in a row. Drake titled his diss track “Back to Back,” referencing Toronto’s double win and Drake’s second diss track against Mill. Meek performed in Toronto yesterday and disappointed some fans by not releasing a Drake diss. Meek’s album is currently No. 7 on Billboard’s top 200 chart, while Drake’s latest album “If You’re Reading This it’s Too Late” is No. 13. Both albums peaked at No. 1 upon their release — Meek’s on July 11 and Drake’s on Feb. 13. In the tweet that sparked the feud, Meek addresses Drake not tweeting out his album, in which the Toronto MC is featured, and claims that Drake “don’t write his own raps” and that had he known this, he would never have asked Drizzy to be a guest artist on his album. MORE
RELATED: The beef between Drake and Meek Mill is one of the most entertaining stories in hip-hop right now. Two of the biggest rap names right now are currently in a war of words because of Meek’s allegation that Drake employs ghostwriters, specifically an Atlanta artist named Quentin Miller. Miller is credited in the liner notes for If You’re Reading This It’s Too Late. As this beef continues on, here’s a timeline of when Drake and Meek became friends, what went wrong and how they got into the tiff they are in now. MORE
We have a coupla pair of tix to see The Killers frontman Brandon Flowers perform at the Electric Factory tomorrow night in support of his just-released sophomore solo album, The Desired Effect. To qualify to win, all you have to do is sign up for our mailing list (see right, below the masthead). Trust us, this is something you want to do. In addition to breaking news alerts and Phawker updates, you also get advanced warning about groovy concert ticket giveaways and other free swag opportunities like this one! After signing up, send us an email at FEED@PHAWKER.COM telling us a much, with the magic words HOT FUSS in the subject line. If you are already on our mailing list, just send us an email saying as much and grovel a bit. Please include your full name and a mobile number for confirmation. Good luck and godspeed!
JIMMY KIMMEL: The big question is, why are you shooting a lion in the first place?” he said. “I’m honestly curious to know why a human being would be compelled to do that. How is that fun? Is it that difficult for you to get an erection that you need to kill things? MORE
IT’S OK TO BE SMART: Soon after the theatrical release of 2001: A Space Odyssey, Stanley Kubrick sat down with Playboy to discuss his artistic and scientific philosophy. It’s a must-read account of his quest to create the perfect sci-fi film, a piece of art that was both commercially popular and deeply philosophical. Released in a time when man’s journey to the stars had just begun, it looked not only at where we had come from, but where evolution, technological and biological, may carry us.
Kubrick’s view on man’s place in the enormity of the cosmos:
I don’t believe in any of Earth’s monotheistic religions, but I do believe that one can construct an intriguing scientific definition of God, once you accept the fact that there are approximately 100 billion stars in our galaxy alone, that each star is a life-giving sun and that there are approximately 100 billion galaxies in just the visible universe. Given a planet in a stable orbit, not too hot and not too cold, and given a few billion years of chance chemical reactions created by the interaction of a sun’s energy on the planet’s chemicals, it’s fairly certain that life in one form or another will eventually emerge. It’s reasonable to assume that there must be, in fact, countless billions of such planets where biological life has arisen, and the odds of some proportion of such life developing intelligence are high.
More on a “scientific definition of God”, as a spectrum of intelligent life throughout the universe:
Now, the sun is by no means an old star, and its planets are mere children in cosmic age, so it seems likely that there are billions of planets in the universe not only where intelligent life is on a lower scale than man but other billions where it is approximately equal and others still where it is hundreds of thousands of millions of years in advance of us. When you think of the giant technological strides that man has made in a few millennia – less than a microsecond in the chronology of the universe – can you imagine the evolutionary development that much older life forms have taken? They may have progressed from biological species, which are fragile shells for the mind at best, into immortal machine entities – and then, over innumerable eons, they could emerge from the chrysalis of matter transformed into beings of pure energy and spirit. Their potentialities would be limitless and their intelligence ungraspable by humans. MORE
We are very honored and excited to announce that we have a pair of tickets to give away to some lucky Phawker reader to see Jason Isbell — whose new album Something More Than Free just debuted the Billboard country charts at NUMBER ONE– perform at the Electric Factory tomorrow night, Wednesday July 29th! (NOTE: The show was moved from the Mann’s Skyline Stage to the Electric Factory.) What’s that you say? ‘Who is Jason Tinkerbell?’ We’re gonna forget you said that and meet you on the other side of this New York Times profile from 2013:
He found fame early and wasn’t ready for it. When he was 22, he joined the Drive-By Truckers, the brilliant and hard-living Alabama band. He quickly wrote several of the group’s signature songs, including the title cut of its 2003 album, “Decoration Day,” and a beautiful bummer of a tune called “Goddamn Lonely Love.” He almost as quickly burned out.
His first marriage, to Shonna Tucker, the band’s bassist at the time, came unstitched in public. There were some ugly scenes. Isbell’s fondness for Jack Daniel’s did not become him. “Some people get drunk and become kind of sweet,” Patterson Hood, one of the Drive-By Truckers’ principal singer-songwriters, told me. “Jason wasn’t one of those people.” Isbell left the band in 2007.
What followed was an unhappy period of wandering. He made a few mediocre solo records. He became bloated from drinking. Everyone who followed his work with the Truckers knew he was one of America’s thoroughbred songwriters, with a knack for rueful melodies and the kind of grainy blue-collar detail that pins a song in your mind, like the character in “Outfit” who winds up back in “tech school/just to memorize Frigidaire parts.” But he’d lost his way.
His resurrection began when his single, “Alabama Pines,” won Song of the Year at the 2012 Americana Awards, which honor the kind of rebellious and pared-down roots music that used to be called alternative country. […] But his real comeback wasn’t possible until February 2012, when his girlfriend (now wife), the singer and songwriter Amanda Shires, with the help of his manager Traci Thomas and the musician Ryan Adams, got him into rehab.
Isbell spent two weeks in Cumberland Heights, an alcohol-and-drug-treatment center in Nashville. His head cleared. When he came out, the whiskey weight drained from his cells, and he shed 40 pounds almost overnight. Best of all, that summer he began writing the songs that make up “Southeastern.” The record, which evokes powerful and intimate classics like Bruce Springsteen’s “Tunnel of Love” and Rosanne Cash’s “Interiors,” is a breakthrough for Isbell — prickly with loss, forgiveness, newfound sobriety and second chances. MORE
OK, now are you ready to win some Jason Isbell tix? I thought so. To qualify to win, all you have to do is sign up for our mailing list (see right, below the masthead). Trust us, this is something you want to do. In addition to breaking news alerts and Phawker updates, you also get advanced warning about groovy concert ticket giveaways and other free swag opportunities like this one! After signing up, send us an email at FEED@PHAWKER.COM telling us a much, with the magic words SOMETHING MORE THAN FREE in the subject line. If you are already on our mailing list, just send us an email saying as much. Either way, please include your full name and a mobile number for confirmation. The 14th Phawker reader to email us with the magic words wins! PLEASE INCLUDE YOUR FULL NAME AND MOBILE NUMBER FOR CONFIRMATION. Good luck and godspeed!
DAILY BEAST: He was a very sweet guy before midnight,” says Bob Saget, who directed Farley in Dirty Work just before his death. “He was as open, like a 6-year-old, as he was dark. And the darkness was compelling, but not something you’d want to be around.” Like many of the comics in I Am Chris Farley, Saget gets emotional remembering his late friend. “All that love that came out of the guy was just his nature, that was him apologizing for a lot of stuff I wish he never had to apologize for,” he laments. Odenkirk, whose collaborations with Farley included the iconic motivational speaker sketch, chimes in on a more sobering note. “With Chris, there’s a limit to how wonderful it is to me, and that limit is when you kill yourself with drugs and alcohol. That’s where it stops being so fucking magical.” MORE