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Archive for March, 2009

NEWS CLUES: Like An Armed Rampage Of Truth

Monday, March 30th, 2009

NO COUNTRY FOR OLD MEN: Gunman Kills Eight In Nursing Home Rampage

no_country_for_old_men01CROPPEDsmall_1.jpgAn armed man shot and killed seven patients and a nurse at a Carthage, North Carolina, nursing home Sunday before being wounded during a shootout with a police officer, authorities said. Three other people, including the police officer and a visitor to the nursing home, were wounded in the attack, Carthage Police Chief Chris McKenzie said. The police officer was treated and released, McKenzie said. The slain patients ranged in age from 78 to 98, Moore County District Attorney Maureen Krueger said. The man accused of carrying out the attack, 45-year-old Robert Stewart, was in custody, and his condition was unknown Sunday night, McKenzie said. Stewart was not an employee of the Pinelake Health and Rehab Center, and he did not appear to have been related to any of the patients, she said. “There is still more to be uncovered as far as his purpose in being there,” she said. [via CNN]

SLEAZY DOES IT: Lawyer Quits Biden Daughter Coke Flick Shakedown

cocaine.gifThe explosive video that purports to show Vice President Joe Biden’s daughter Ashley snorting cocaine was shot with a hidden camera, RadarOnline.com has learned. And as the scandal grows, the lawyer trying to peddle the tape while representing the man who shot it has quit. Tom Dunlap, an attorney for the Washington, D.C. firm Dunlap, Grubb and Weaver has dropped the seller of the tape as a client. Dunlap told RadarOnline.com early Sunday that he is no longer involved in the attempted sale of the video and informed his client he would not continue to represent him. The lawyer said he did not want to be involved due to circumstances surrounding the publicity of the matter. On Saturday, RadarOnline.com broke the story that a video showing a woman who is allegedly Ashley Biden snorting cocaine has been shopped to several media entities. The woman on the tape appears identical to 27-year-old Ashley. [via RADAR]

ANOTHER INCEST-RAPE SHOCKER: Father Forces Daughter To Bear 11 Children

Rape_of_the_Sabine_Woman_DetailPosters_1.jpgA Colombian man has appeared in court accused of imprisoning his daughter and fathering 11 children with her. Arcedio Alvarez is said to have abused his daughter, now in her 30s, since she was nine years old. The case has shocked Colombia, and the 59-year-old needed police and army protection for his court appearance. Mr Alvarez, who the press have dubbed the “monster of Mariquita” after the area he comes from, denies incest and rape, saying his daughter was adopted. It is not clear whether his claim is true, or whether it would affect the charges he faces, but the woman says she always saw him as her father. “I always respected him as my father and he is my father,” she said. “He never spoke about [incest], about why we were doing it. Sometimes I would ask him and he would say it was God’s will.” The woman told police how her mother died when she was five years old, leaving her in the care of Mr Alvarez. She says she was raped repeatedly and had 11 children – three of whom died. [via BBC]

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I, GAMER: Get In, Get Out, Don’t Get Any On Ya

Sunday, March 29th, 2009

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I_GAMERAvatar_1.jpgBY ADAM BONANNI Easy to pick-up but tough to master, puzzle games straddle the line between casual and hardcore games, and have a kind of universal appeal — because, hey, who doesn’t love a good brain-teaser? I, GAMER’s target in the cross-hair this week is World of Goo, an independently-developed puzzle game by San Francisco-based studio 2D Boy. World of Goo has an extremely tight focus on what makes this type of game so alluring. It’s full of memorable set pieces, a perfect learning curve, and really well-designed puzzles that strike a balance between skill and logic in order to complete. The stars in World of Goo are the goo balls, those jiggly inhabitants of the titular world.

The backstory goes something like this: The goo balls woke up one day, noticed pipes had sprouted up all over the land, and the curious little buggers decided it was in their best interest to figure out where these pipes led. Turns out they end up at the faceless World of Goo corporation, which turns the goo balls into an exploitable product. There is a bit of a disconnect between the gameplay and story, which details the World of Goo Corporation’s rise to prominence over the years, and the questionable ethical decisions it has made in the interest of expanding the corporate product line. These highly-malleable goo balls can be stretched and/or connected together to construct bridges, towers, or basically any structure that can extend to one of the aforementioned pipes, where the excess balls are sucked away.

World of Goo is broken up into four levels: Spring, summer, fall, and winter; and each level contains roughly 15WorldOfGoo3_1.jpg stages.  The gameplay has you constructing bridges to get the goo balls into the pipes, so it’s easy to get the feeling you aren’t contributing much to the advancement of the game’s story through gameplay, but that quickly passes. Some levels break from the formula of reaching the pipe to solve a puzzle that furthers the story, but these usually appear at the end of a level, so their presence is rare. A certain number of balls must be sucked away for the player to progress to the next level, so the challenge is to create a structurally sound edifice that can reach a pipe. You could be forgiven for thinking that does not sound like much fun on paper, but you would be wrong.

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HECKUVA JOB, TIERNEY: Inky/DN Big Wigs Were Paid $650,000 In Bonuses As Papers Went Bankrupt

Saturday, March 28th, 2009

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THE DAILY EXAMINER: Though the company teetered on the verge of bankruptcy at the time, this past December Philadelphia Media Holdings awarded bonuses to CEO Brian P. Tierney, vice president of finance RichardNewspaperchart_042808_1_1.jpg  Thayer and Daily News publisher Mark Frisby. PMH board chair Bruce Toll confirmed bonuses of $350,000 for Tierney and $150,000 each for Thayer and Frisby in a phone conversation on Friday. [...] PMH filed for bankruptcy in February. Toll, of the homebuilding Toll Brothers company, confirmed that the PMH board knew the company¹s fiscal situation was dire. “The financial condition of the papers was obviously not good,” said Toll. “We knew what was going to happen sooner or later.” So why give out $650,000 in bonuses? “We thought it was deserved,” he said. “But we can’t get into the details because we’re involved in bankruptcy proceedings.” MORE

PREVIOUSLY: Inky Bigwigs Shamed Into Giving Back Big Raises 
PREVIOUSLY: Inquirer/Daily News Go Bankrupt 

ObamaSignOfProgress_1.jpgRELATED: The Obama administration asked Rick Wagoner, the chairman and CEO of General Motors, to step down and he agreed, a White House official said. The White House confirmed Wagoner was leaving at the government’s behest after The Associated Press reported his immediate departure, without giving a reason. [...]Obama and his aides may have honed in on Wagoner for two reasons. First, his company is asking for the most in total federal aid: $26 billion, a figure administration officials fear could grow even larger. Second, the GM chief was tied more directly to the ill-fated decisions that that brought much of the American auto industry to the brink of collapse. Wagoner joined GM in 1977, has had a senior role in GM management since 1992, and became CEO of the company in 2000. He is considered responsible for increasing GM’s focus on trucks and SUVs—at the expense of the hybrids and fuel efficient cars that have become more popular in the last couple of years. MORE

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WEEK IN REVIEW: The Good News Flower Hour

The week that was in just five minutes hosted by a stoned daisy with the obligatory voice of gawd. Funny. Sad. Good for you. Tastes great, less filling. Just do it!

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EARLY WORD: Hot Chicks On Wheels Pounding The Living Crap Out Of Each Other For Fun And Profit

Friday, March 27th, 2009

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O BROTHER WHERE ART THOU: Obama Lets Us Down On Privacy, Pot And The Fourth Amendment

Friday, March 27th, 2009

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CBS NEWS: As CBS News’ Chief Political Correspondent Marc Ambinder points out, the top-rated questions in the “budget” and “fiscal stability” sections of the submissions page concerned the legalization of marijuana. (Here’s one: “With over 1 out of 30 Americans controlled by the penal system, why not legalize, control, and tax marijuana to change the failed war on drugs into a money making, money saving boost to the economy? Do we really need that many victimless criminals?”) Hotsheet did not expect President Obama to address the pot questions during the town hall, particularly after the event opened with a pair of relatively straightforward questions. But we were wrong: the president interrupted the event midway through to address the issue.

 

“…we took votes about which questions were going to be asked, and I think 3 million people voted or 3.5 million people voted,” he said. “I have to say that there was one question that was voted on that ranked fairly high, and that was whether legalizing marijuana would improve the economy and job creation.” The obonga.jpgpresident then joked that “I don’t know what this says about the online audience,” prompting laughter from the roughly 100 people gathered in the White House East Room for the event. “…but I just want — I don’t want people to think that — this was a fairly popular question,” he continued. “We want to make sure that it was answered.” And then he answered it in a way that must come as a disappointment to legalization advocates – though they could at least take solace in the fact that he did not flatly state that he opposes legalization. “The answer is, no, I don’t think that is a good strategy to grow our economy,” the president said. His answer prompted applause from the audience. MORE

medicalmarijuanathugfreeamerica_1.jpgSF WEEKLY: Last week, Attorney General Eric Holder announced a policy shift away from the Drug Enforcement Agency raiding marijuana dispensaries in states that have approved medical marijuana. So, it came as something of a shock that DEA agents today raided Emmalyn’s California Cannabis Clinic at 1597 Howard Street. Calls to the dispensary did not go through; for whatever reason the phone did not ring. Aaron Smith, the California Policy Director for the Marijuana Policy Project, was beside himself. “It sounds like the DEA didn’t get the memo, eh?” he said, noting that, immediately preceding President Barack Obama’s inauguration, DEA agents raided Los Angeles Dispensaries. “But now, the message from Attorney General Holder couldn’t be clearer. This is insane.” MORE

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CINEPHILE: The Lowdown On The Film Fest Opening Night Party & Interview With TLA’s Thom Cardwell

Friday, March 27th, 2009

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cinephileavatar-copy.thumbnail.jpgBY EGINA MANACHOVA If you want the low down on the opening Film Fest night party on the 19th floor of the Bellevue, well,  I will be your fly on the wall. In short, you didn’t miss much. It was like hobnobbing with the not so rich and not at all famous. I exaggerate. There were some D-list celebrities there. I think. William Forsythe. I didn’t even know who he was until my friend made him feel very awkward. The catered food reminded me of being at a Bar Mitzvah. So did the middle aged white women dancing to top 40 hip hop songs. I don’t know out of what high school prom they found that DJ. That was probably the biggest break of his life. Unbearable. In my history of partying, there have only been a very select number of dance floors I could not be bothered to stomped across. Last night made it on the list — which is really saying something, believe me.

I pretty much stayed by the bar. They ran out of complimentary liquor early in the night. Leaving the cheap and opportunistic (like me) with only Stella to drink. It could have been a Zima with a bendy straw and I would have drank it at that point. It was bizarre for them to have run out of liquor so early in the night being that it wasn’t packed at all. Not the way it should be for an opening night of a festival.  Apparently a very small amount of  people know how to dress for an event at The Bellevue. Your Cinephile being one of the few, may have her photo published in the Philly Weekly. I brought out my furs and pearls. Both Fake. Life in the V.I.P. Only one day into to it and I am already complaining. Well, I am a Jew.

The Film was nothing more than an insipid, counterculture romance, for the bourgeoisie hip twenty something who knows it’s all bullshit but secretly believes in love. Starring indie favorite Zooey Deschanel as a cynic on love, who wait get this; meets someone just like her. Some hi jinks and “witty” one liners ensue. Then, you won’t believe this part, they fall in love. Formulaic may be an understatement. It’s like someone took arguably decent independent films on love a la Before Sunrise or Reality Bites, something of the sort. Then cut and pasted all the parts that they like into a pile of mind numbing shit.  I am sure it will be a huge success.

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Thom Cardwell is the fellow cutting a Ben Kingsley-esque figure to the right of Susan Sarandon.

cinephileavatar-copy.thumbnail.jpgBY EGINA MANACHOVA Thom Cardwell the Development Director for The Philadelphia Film Festival had a quick sit down with Phawker’s resident Cinephile to discuss this years festival. With rumors of last minute cancellation due to a public riff between Ray Murray the Artistic Director of the Festival and The Philadelphia Film Society , Phawker wanted to know how the situation managed to resolve its self and what was this resolution going to look like for the future of the festival in our beloved city?

PHAWKER: First off, thank you so much for doing this interview with us! There have been a lot of rumors about the cancellation and the challenges faced in this years festival. How did the situation manage to resolve itself?

THOM CARDWELL: At times in the development and growth of a non profit you have some conflicting and opposing view points such as, difference of opinion, attitude towards events like film, and divergent views on the artistic vision. At the end of the day both the Philadelphia Film Society and the newly formed Philadelphia Cinema Alliance realized that the most important factor in the scenario was the audience. There should be a spring film festival in Philadelphia. They decided that 2009 should be a transitional year, hence the mouthful of a title Philadelphia Film Festival and Cinefest 09. After this year, Cinefest 2010 will take place in the spring under the direction of the Philadelphia Cinema Alliance. Philadelphia Film Festival (and I don’t know if they plan to keep that name or not) will occur in October 2010 as a fall festival. I am not going to speak on their behalf. The Philadelphia Cinema Alliance is already on the way to prepare for Q Fest , The new name for The Philadelphia International Gay and Lesbian Film Festival. Which will take place July 9-19.

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CINEMA: Our Film Festival Picks & Pans

Friday, March 27th, 2009

BuskirkByline_REV.jpgBY DAN BUSKIRK FILM CRITIC As you’re thumbing through your festival guide here’s a rundown of some of the entries screening throughout the first weekend of the Philadelphia Film Festival.  Among the highlights unavailable for preview were Sam Rockwell lost like Major Tom in the 70′s sci-fi throwback Moon (opening here in June), the IRA hunger strike drama Hunger, the Philly-set cooking school doc Pressure Cooker, James Toback’s Sundance hit documentary on ear-biter Mike Tyson and the two part (of a projected three) Japanese fantasy epic 20th Century Boys.  And check back next week as we continue daily coverage of all the ephemeral celluloid wonders.

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BEFORE THE FALL (2007, directed by F Javier Gutierrez, 97 minutes, Spain)

A family is stalked by the revenge-obsessed escapee who is ready to wreak havoc in the hours before a speeding meteor destroys all life on earth.  I was curious to figure out how the apocalyptic backdrop was going to inform the film’s mad stalker scenario.  Unfortunately the script has these two concepts on parallel rails; we never figure out why the family chooses to spend their final hours awaiting the arrival a psychotic ex-con instead of heading for the hills like everyone else.   Lives are lost in the balance but Before The Fall can’t replace the urgency it loses in knowing that all salvation will be won just moments before doomsday.

Saturday March 28, 4:30, The Prince

Sunday March 29, 9:30, The Bridge

Saturday April 4, 12:30, Ritz 5

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blind_1.jpgBLIND LOVES (2008, directed by Juraj Lehotsky, 77 minutes, Slovakia)

Wonderfully odd mix of documentary and flights of fancy in this film that presents a quartet of stories of love among Slovakia’s blind citizens.  In some stories blindness directly effects the subjects relationships, whether it is the young Mommy-dependent Romanian man who is trying to take responsibility for his blind girlfriend or the blind mother taking care of her sighted infant.  On the other hand, a blind teenage beauty’s fantasies capture the universal dreaminess of youth, her sightless sky-blue orbs searching the Heavens as she describes an ideal imaginary boyfriend.  And especially unforgettable are the old music teacher and his wife.  Homely as a couple of old toads they seem to live in a state of symbiotic bliss as we peer in on them together in their cottage.  She rocks and knits the evening away as he improvises fantastic stories while noodling on his keyboard.  Blindness may be the unifying premise but it is love itself that directorJuraj Lehotsky so artfully explores in this quite little gem, and he finds new things to say about it as well.

Friday March 27, 2:30, Ritz East 2

Wednesday, April1, 9:15, I-House

Thursday April 2, 9:30, Ritz 5

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MOE, LARRY, THE CHEESE: Farrelly Brothers Lock-In Sean Penn As Larry Fine In Three Stooges Movie

Friday, March 27th, 2009

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VARIETY: MGM and the Farrelly brothers are closing in on their cast for “The Three Stooges.” Studio has set Sean Penn to play Larry, and negotiations are underway with Jim Carrey to play Curly, with the actor already making plans to gain 40 pounds to approximate the physical dimensions of Jerome “Curly” Howard. The studio is zeroing in on Benicio Del Toro to play Moe. The film is not a biopic, but rather a comedy built around the antics of the three characters that Moe Howard, Larry Fine and Howard played in the Columbia Pictures shorts. The quest by the Peter and Bobby Farrelly to harness the project spans more than a decade and three studios. They first tried at Columbia,sean_penn_1_1.jpg again at Warner Bros., and finally at MGM, where Worldwide Motion Picture Group chairman Mary Parent championed the cause and bought the WB-owned scripts and made a deal with Stooges rights holders C3. Production will begin in early fall for a release sometime in 2010. MORE

LARRYFINE.COM: He was born Louis Feinberg to a Jewish family (his father a jeweler) in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, at the corner of 3rd and South Streets. The building there is now a restaurant, and it houses a small Stooge museum. When Louis was a child, he burned his arm with some of his father’s acid, which was used to test whether or not gold was real, mistaking it for a cool drink (The child had the bottle to his lips when the father noticed. In a panic, the father slapped the bottle from Larry’s hand, splashing the child’s forearm with acid). He received violin training to help strengthen his damaged muscles. This talent would be observed in many of the Stooges’ films; in fact, when all three are seen playing fiddles onscreen, only Larry is actually playing his instrument, while the others are pantomiming. To further strengthen his arm, Larry took up boxing as a teenager. He fought and won one professional bout, but this career was put to an immediate stop by his father, who was opposed to Larry’s fighting in public 1. His experience in boxing, however, no doubt served him well in his later career as a Stooge. MORE

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INBOX: Ever Get The Feeling You Are Being Watched?

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

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Hi, phawker (phawker).

Larry Mendte (LarryMendte) is now following your updates on Twitter.

Check out Larry Mendte’s profile here:
http://twitter.com/LarryMendte

You may follow Larry Mendte as well by clicking on the “follow” button.
Best,
Twitter

PREVIOUSLY: Ex-Anchor Pleads Guilty To Email Hackery

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NEW FEATURE: Meet Jeff Tweeney

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Hey folks, Jeff Deeney here to let you know how this new Twitter project we’re rolling out will work. From now until Philadelphia no longer needs me for cannon fodder in the trenches of the War On Poverty, I will be posting the little overheard snippets of unintentional brilliance and frequently unhinged insanity that comprise the background noise of my work day.  Think of it as Today I Saw for the ADD set; I will bring you the streets in 160 characters or less. All dialogue 100% overheard. You’re already a couple days behind, so start following the Phawker Twitter stream and you can play along at home. And yes, it WILL be on the test.

RELATED: The Trouble With Tweeney

 

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TRAVESTY OF JUSTICE: NJ Teen Charged With Child Porn Trafficking For Posting Nude Pix of HERSELF

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

blind_justice_1.jpgNBC PHILADELPHIA: The social networking world is rife with sexual exploitation of young children, but it rarely happens that the exploiters are the children themselves. A 14-year-old girl was arrested Tuesday for allegedly posting nearly 30 naked photos of herself on MySpace, according to NorthJersey.com. The National Center for Missing and Exploited Children tipped off police that someone was posting naked pictures of a teen on a MySpace profile. As it turns out, the culprit was the teen herself. Authorities investigated the case for a month before zeroing in on the suspect, who said she posted the pictures for her boyfriend’s pleasure. Anyone who was online “friends” with the girl through the site or knew her name could see the pictures. The teen was charged with one count each of possession and distribution of child pornography. Police remanded her into her mother’s custody. A sheriff’s department spokesman told NorthJersey.com that more arrests in the case are possible. MORE

PHAWKER: Ridiculous. This is a parental matter, not a legal issue — and clearly another example of the law not keeping pace with the advance of technology.  This is a travesty, your Honor. Fix it. Now.

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CINEMA: Let The Fest-ing Begin!

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

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BuskirkByline_REV.jpgBY DAN BUSKIRK FILM CRITIC Barring the outbreak of more ill-timed bickering, starting tonight we should be blessed with twelve days of films from around the world courtesy of the eighteenth Philadelphia Film Festival/CineFest.  Just one film is opening tonight at the Prince Theater, 500 Days of Summer, which promises to unleash the fully combined heart-breaking powers of Zooey Deschanel and The Smiths, followed by cocktails happening afterward on the 19th floor of the Park Hyatt Bellevue.  On Friday the Festival turns on the faucet with screenings expanding to The Bridge, The Ritz 5, The Ritz East, The International House and The Bridge, as well as a smattering of screenings happening out at the Main Line’s Bryn Mawr Theater.  The festival may be a little leaner than in recent editions (with is a surprising lack of any classic revivals like last year’s gorgeous resurrection of Richard Fleischer’s 1955 color noir Violent Saturday), but since the survival of the entire festival was in question just weeks ago, we’re relieved to witness the tent poles going up at all.

Previous festival goers will know what to expect: there will be a couple of capable old survivors on jeffdaniels_1.jpghand to pick up awards (genial everyman Jeff Daniels appearing at the 3/30 screening of the Philly-shot Answer Man and Oscar-nominated Alfre Woodard appearing at the 4/4 screening of American Violet), accolades given to local talent made good (experimental filmmakers The Brothers Quay will emerge on 4/3 from whatever decrepit clock factory they presumably dwell to pick up their Vision Award) as well as slates of films dedicated to documentary, the Muslim World, Latin America, The French, International Comedies, horror thrillers and for the first time the Fade To Black segment, dedicated to the cinema of African Americans.

Also returning is a trend that has been apparent is recent years, an inarguable weakness in the U.S. made selections.   While the foreign selections may not all strike artistic paydirt , the American fictional films too regularly seem hobbled right out of the gate, cursed by cliche-riddled scripts and unsure directors who frequently haven’t mastered the basics mechanics of storytelling.  If the Festival were a patient I’d say that, excluding our still excellent tradition for documentaries, American film’s pulse is alarmingly weak.  I haven’t seen a single U.S. film as impressive as any of the three films I’ve seen from tiny Belgium, fer cryin’ out loud.

zooey_deschanel_1.jpgOtherwise, I’d say the 2009 edition has surprised me by being uniformly strong, with the under card of unheralded entrees full of gems (let me give you an early heads-up for the romantic near-silent comedy Rumba and the worthy-of-it’s-Polanski-comparisons horror mystery Left Bank, yes both from Belgium).  Friday, I’ll be back with a bevy of reviews for films screening throughout the weekend and check in daily starting next week with more reports from the Festival.  With the Festival splintering into unknown formations next year, this might be Philly’s last chance to belly up to a spread of gourmet cinema this luxuriously large for some time.  Buy a ticket and dig in!

RELATED: Philadelphia Film Festival and Cinefest

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PAPERBOY: Slow Jamming The Alt Weeklies

Thursday, March 26th, 2009

paperboyartthumbnail.jpgBY DAVE ALLEN Like time, news waits for no man. Keeping up with the funny papers has always been an all-day job, even in the pre-Internets era. These days, however, it’s a two-man job. That’s right, these days you need someone to do your reading for you, or risk falling hopelessly behind and, as a result, increasing your chances of dying lonely and somewhat bitter. That’s why every week, PAPERBOY does your alt-weekly reading for you. We pore over those time-consuming cover stories and give you the takeaway, suss out the cover art, warn you off the ink-wasters and steer you towards the gooey center. Why? Because we love you!

ON THE COVER

CP: For the cinematically-minded, CP’s CineFest preview is gold: three pages of capsules, all of them snappy and persuasive. But for those less film-curious – and I’m that way, sadly – the two features aren’t particularly gripping. Sam Adams sums up two documentaries with an educational bent, touching on their subject matter but not really delving into their artistry or drama. Pressure Cooker has a local angle, though, with culinary arts students at Frankford High and Wilma Stephenson, their blunt, driven teacher.

A tense and sometimes terrifying figure, Stephenson lashes out at students who make carelesscp_2009_03_26.jpg mistakes, and can be positively scorching with those who fail to show the proper respect to her or her kitchen. “She has good intentions,” says Erica, one of three students the movie focuses on. “Just sometimes she has bad people skills.”

As her warning suggests, Miss Stephenson’s reputation precedes her. “They pretty much know what they’re in for,” she said last week, driving back from the annual competition that helps determine which students will receive scholarships to places like the Culinary Institute of America. “If I were a kid, I would really think before I took my class.”

Kassim the Dream, the story of an Ugandan child soldier turned boxing champ, cuts somewhat deeper, and Molly Eichel brings out the bond between fighter Kassim Ouma and manager Tom Moran amid international pressure and title bouts.

The fighter and mentor grew even closer when Ouma was set to fight for the USBA title, an entry-level title fight in October of 2002. Ouma had invited his mother and brother to fly from Uganda, but they were denied entry into the U.S. Moran immediately called the U.S. Embassy in Uganda, staying on the phone for three hours in the middle of the night. He claimed that even though the U.S. had given Ouma political asylum, it didn’t have the right to tell him that he couldn’t see his mother again. “We argued, we debated,” says Moran. “They finally said, ‘If we let his mother come in, will you get off the phone?’ and I said yes.”

Now there’s the drama.

PW: BMac sums up the last few months nicely in his header for the music section: “Old Man Winter’s all up in your shit, jackin’ with your good times.” PW puts its lovin’ arms around this spring’s coming attractions, including books, art exhibits, and theatrical stuff. Plus, a old-school, hard-hitting doc from CineFest called “The Wages of Spin.” (Love the title.)

cover_1.jpgThe film lays out the complicated case in interviews and archival photographs. Payola wasn’t necessarily “Here’s $50—now go play my record.” It was more subtle (and more profitable): Dick Clark and others had their hands in pies running up and down the industry, from publishing companies to the physical record pressing plants. Disc jockeys cooked up deals that could guarantee profitability for years to come. And at the time, it was totally kosher.

“Dick Clark didn’t do anything different than what DJs were doing at the time,” says local legend Jerry “the Geator” Blavat on the phone from his Market Street studio. Blavat was one of the original Bandstand dancers. “It was common policy back at the time before the Senate committee got involved investigating payola. [It was just] that [Dick] was the biggest guy in the country.”

All those fresh-faced, sock-hopping youngsters in the grips of record-industry corruption… love it. I also love the header “What to Read When Smoking Weed,” but am puzzled by the random recs. Handwriting analysis? Scientific embryology? Whatever blisses you out, I guess.

INSIDE THE BOOK

CP: “We Could Do Worse”: Practically a ringing endorsement. False modesty from the Moz. Steak through the heart: Tony Luke’s goes frozen. “Duke Sucks, Pg. 16″: Well, you got my attention. Oh, and go ‘Nova. My bracket depends on you.

PW: If you don’t like Quizzo, find a different bar. Try ignoring Katy Perry and maybe she’ll go away. A crabby cinematic preview: they can’t all be this bad. Check out these glockenspiel-wielding grape dancers.

WINNER: I’m not convinced it’s spring yet – two years in upstate New York have made me wary of April cold snaps – but I like the optimism both papers show for bright sun and better days. CP gets the edge, though, because Sean Burns harshed PW’s buzz with his mopey movie write-up. Come on, man – no love for Wolverine?

BONUS POINTS: To GINA AND MATT for this week’s flat-out gorgeous PW cover.

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HEAR YE: Giant Sand Chore Of Enchantment

Wednesday, March 25th, 2009

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 Now playing on PHAWKER RADIO! Because it’s the best album you never heard.

meAVATAR2.jpgBY JONATHAN VALANIA Giant Sand mainman Howe Gelb has always been one of indie rock’s most beautiful losers. Twenty-some albums into a career that’s brought him all the riches and fame of a Wal-Mart stock boy, Gelb just doesn’t know when to quit. And thank God for it, because Chore of Enchantment (originally released in 2000) remains Giant Sand’s finest hour. Gelb’s music — as intimate as a campfire and as expansive as the desert panoramas it evokes — has always clung to the slippery pole of spontaneity. A fly buzzing around the microphone was always just as integral to the song as the lyrics or the chord changes, an approach that lent itself to moments of astonishing accidental grace and a lot of high-plains drifting. Tinkered over for more than a year by three different producers — eons in Giant Sand years – Chore represents Gelb’s perfection of the majestic desert blues and honky-tonk mysticism he’s been kicking around for 20 years. Like any good horse opera, it’s peopled with the good, the bad and the ugly drifting through the ghost town of memory — a richly rendered series of sonic snapshots, yellowed and curling up at the edges under the brutal Tucson sun. It starts with the Second Coming (“Dusted”) and finishes with a hangover (“Way to End the Day”), and in the end everyone gets what they had comin’.

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