Living the good life for a good cause: The 88forAIDS benefit cocktail party

Generosity knows no currency

I’ve never been to a cocktail party.  I’m not even sure I’ve ever felt the urge to attend one, despite living in New York City which must surely be one of the cocktail party capitals of the world.  I do, however, enjoy contributing to charity.  I enjoy it more, as many would also confess, when there is added incentive because, hey, we’re all human!  Cue my finding out about the benefit being thrown by GMHC on May 6th, 2010.  The purpose of the event was to help GMHC support the annual NYC AIDS Walk (occurring 10 days later) and was featuring special guests: two time Olympian/TV personality, Johnny Weir as well as the Senior Vice President of Bravo TV, Andy Cohen.

As I wouldn’t be able to participate in this year’s Walk, I enjoyed the thought of helping in another way, with the added bonus of meeting Johnny Weir.  He happens to be an extremely talented figure skater who many may only recall, sadly, due to that whole Olympics “underscoring” snafu that happened in Vancouver.  With two great reasons to attend, I gave my donation and made sure to acquire a pair of very comfortable heels.  A born and bred Bronx girl was officially going to her first cocktail party… in a penthouse in Tribeca… all for a good cause. Continue reading

True Blood vs. Sookie Stackhouse Books

“True Blood,” a hit HBO series based on the Sookie Stackhouse books by Charlaine Harris, has been my guilty pleasure as soon as I saw an advertisement for it and for a second thought they really were trying to sell people synthetic blood. Instead, they were selling the show, of course, but for a moments, I was torn out of what I knew as reality and I liked it. Yes, it’s about vampires, and yes, there are lots of good looking people in it, but no, it is not “Twilight” for adults. Neither is it as deplorable as “Vampire Diaries.”

In case you aren’t yet a rabid fan of the show, here are some basics: Sookie Stackhouse, barmaid in Bon Temps, Louisiana, can read minds. She is tormented by this gift, because she has very poor control of it. A man walks into her bar and he is a blank. She is instantly attracted to the sound of nothing that she is getting from him. The reason his mind is not broadcasting to her, is because he is a vampire, but despite that, they fall madly in love. The world “True Blood” takes place in is much like our own, with one key difference. All the weird shit you read/heard about (barring outer space), is probably true, and it’s also pretty well organized. A Japanese corporation develops Tru Blood, a drink emulating the nutritional value and flavor of human blood, and bam! Vampires, who were real all along, can now leave the underworld and come into the limelight. The idea is that they no longer need to drink from humans and are therefore tame kittens that we no longer need to fear. Continue reading

Kick-Ass: With No Power Comes No Responsibility?

Not Spiderman, not even a little.

“Kick-Ass,” directed by Matthew Vaughn, is an action flick full of almost cartoonish violence and plenty of explosions. But I still liked it. No, I loved it, and I’ve hated almost every action-packed-stuff-goes-boom movie I’ve ever seen. What’s different here is that the story is much more grounded. People get hurt, and it hurts them. Bullets fly, and find their targets. Getting involved in a knife fight could get you killed.

Dave Lizewski (played by Aaron Johnson, who shines in this role) is a regular kid who, like many other guys his age, hangs around with his few friends, searches internet for porn, reads comics, and dreams of being something more. Finally, dream becomes reality and he takes that step that no one ever does. As a result, you are terrified and mortified every time Kick-Ass, aka Dave, sets his foot outside in his ridiculous costume.

The movie is more than just fun. Without beating anyone over the head with morals, it touches on real issues. The voyeuristic aspect of our culture is directly addressed in several scenes in this movie. Kick-Ass becomes famous because someone videotapes him in action on their cell-phone, instead of helping, or even calling the police. As the movie unfolds and we watch Dave deal with school, crush on a girl, and glory silently in his new-found fame and hobby, we also watch him quickly sink in way over his head. As he starts to understand that what he’s doing is more real than he’s ready for, he is also realizing that he can’t let things be as they are. Being a victim has become part of his daily life, and he has watched other people victimized, feeling he should do something but feeling out of place, foolish, and scared. We can relate to this. In his costume he starts anew, but the rubber scuba suit isn’t quite the same as a set of muscles and a serious selection of weapons. Continue reading

Brad Senne: Aerial Views

Four words come to mind when thinking of Brad Senne and his new album Aerial Views: Solo Acoustic Indie Folk. Resembling a mixture of Bon Iver and Iron and Wine, this singer and songwriter from Minneapolis has a melodic and hypnotizing voice. The former hardcore musician, who cites Bob Dylan, Elliott Smith, Iron and Wine, Wilco, and Muddy Waters as influences, has grown with the music scene by recently producing heartfelt but composed music.

Considered an urban folkster, Brad Senne plays almost entirely all the instruments on Aerial Views resulting in poppy folk songs like “Sing and Dance” and “So Easy”. However, Aerial Views isn’t completely folk. The harmonica in “Overgrown with Warmth” and “Sew the Scars” adds an element of blues to Brad’s music.

With the combination of his soothing voice and acoustic guitar, he’s creating a whole new genre of Blues Folk. Senne is defining his own style in an already established scene. His album Aerial Views is a must for Bon Iver, Iron and Wine, or other folk/acoustic rock fans.

You can learn more about Brad Senne and purchase Aerial Views at his MySpace Page

The Protomen–Act II: The Father of Death

In an age where CD’s and records have become obsolete in order to make way for the sale of individual songs, it is rare to see a band release a full album that tells an overarching  story, rather just being a collection of songs about numerous unrelated subjects. The Protomen’s recent release entitled “Act II: The Father of Death,” does just this, creating a compelling story over twelve songs.

The Protomen are a band that took the plot of the original Mega Man games for the NES, changed it into a 1984-esque world and turned the whole thing into a rock opera. Some details are changed from the original source material, the biggest being that Wily is actually successful in his attempts to take control of the world, and he oversees everything from a tower while his robots create a dystopia where Big Brother is always watching. Continue reading

The Dresden Files Are My Literary Crack

Harry Dresden is the kind of guy I’d like to be friends with. Well, maybe not really good friends, since all his good friends are constantly exposed to mortal peril and whatnot. Still, he’s pretty friggin cool and it might be worth it. Anyway, I digress.

Harry Dresden is the protagonist of the much noticed Dresden Files series authored by Jim Butcher. The urban fantasy series has already become a sci-fi live action adaptation as well as a comic book. Not too shabby.

The story centers around the only wizard/private investigator listed in the Chicago Yellow Pages. The series starts with the novel Storm Front, where Harry Blackstone Copperfield Dresden is introduced and quickly thrown into a nightmarish scenario rife with black magic and corpses. A few other mainstays are introduced, such as Karrin Murphy, a lieutenant with the Chicago Police Department who occasionally engages Dresden as a consultant on some of the stranger cases her department has to deal with. What follows is a mystery involving damsels in distress, twisted maniacs, loads of well-thought out magical feats and creatures and lots of action tempered with the occasional comic relief. Continue reading

‘Orphaned’ No Longer

Event Date: March 8, 2010
Venue: B. B. Kings Blues Club
Bands: Orphaned Land,
Suidakra, Gwynbleidd

I’ve seen a lot of bands over the course of my metal reporting years (as brief a time as it has been), and very few of them I would classify as “must-see”.  I must say that Orphaned Land has turned out to be one of those must-see bands.

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