Category Archives: gar

Lady Gaga – Artpop

With the official release of Artpop earlier this week, and Lady Gaga’s press thrust about the new album, some interesting news has come out regarding the star. She is apparently addicted to marijuana claiming to smoke up to 15-20 doobies a day. Wow. That’s a lot. Granted she says it was because of breaking her hip earlier in the year, but still… she’s either exaggerating or just really really messed up. In the Madonna/Salvador Dali tradition of “There is no such thing as bad publicity,” stupidity is always the exception. Either that, or she’s the new Snoop Dogg.

Before we get to the album, Lady Gaga has also released an app to go along with the album called, what else, Artpop. It’s very psychedelic and possibly, if you’ll excuse the pun, drug driven, and attempts to interact with the user and allow them to interact with other little monsters.

You begin your journey with the album’s opening song and concept, “Aura.” The app appears that it should be able to play other tracks from the album as well, but that never worked on my iPhone at least. I guess this is a bit fun, and useful if you want connect with other monsters, but otherwise it’s only fun in an “Oooh, shiny” kinda way.

On to the actual album, Artpop, I have to say I’m not all that impressed. That said, when I first heard the advance single “Applause,” I hated it, then days later it had grown on me to me my favorite song of that moment. “Venus” hit me the same way, at first dislike, but then growth. Weird.

Not fond of the second single, “Do What U Want” with R. Kelly, either. The love song to “Dope” kinda stands out because of Gaga’s comments, but doesn’t seem like a hit to me either. Only “MANiCURE” and “Gypsy” show any first listen promise to my ears. Artpop is sadly full of fairly standard and substandard dance music. I’ve been a little monster since the beginning, but unless all the other songs on this collection start playing fungus and growing on me, I think she may have stumbled with this effort.

Advertisements

Hey Kids, Comics!

In the planning stages for years, my friend Rob Kelly, who you might know better as the writer and co-creator of the fabulous webcomic Ace Kilroy and the founder of The Aquaman Shrine, has finally released Hey Kids, Comics! True-Life Tales from the Spinner Rack.

Hey Kids, Comics! is a collection of essays, compiled by Rob Kelly, about the love and nostalgia of comics. These stories, by media and industry professionals like Alan Brennert, Glen Weldon, Evan Narcisse, Steve Englehart, J.M. DeMattieis, Paul Kupperberg, Elisabeth Rappe, Sholly Fisch, Doug Slack, and Roxanna Meta, among many others, are experiences and remembrances of the joy of comics.

I love this book, and I’m so proud of my friend for putting this together. I can’t recommend Hey Kids, Comics! enough. You can check out Ray Cornwall‘s and my interview with Rob Kelly on The GAR! Podcast here, and you can buy the book here. Check it out.

Derrick Ferguson’s Dillon and the Legend of the Golden Bell

I have known Derrick Ferguson a long time as an online friend, and I’m proud to consider him a friend, even if we’ve never met in real life. For those of you out who think I’m an authority on film, I bow to Derrick as a master. He’s given me great writing advice over the years, but none so informative as the lessons I have learned simply by reading his work.

There’s a story I’ve told Derrick, and I guess (I’m really thinking positive here) the whole world as well on the GAR! Podcast, about a visual aid I was using at a point where I was trying to write in a pulp style. It was a sign I taped over my desk that read “I want to be Derrick Ferguson when I grow up.” That’s how well the man knows his genre. Derrick knows pulp, and he knows it so well, he has created a pulp hero for a new age – Dillon.

Dillon is a man who would make Doc Savage proud to know him, that’s how pulp he is. He is a man of skills, of integrity, of style, of exotic and mysterious background, he’s a lover, he’s a fighter, and most importantly he is a man of his word. Dillon is that rare entity in this dark world of ours – he is a likable hero we can root for, and a man who will win for the right reasons.

In the second novel (although it doesn’t much matter in what order you read the books) in the series, “Dillon and the Legend of the Golden Bell,” this pulp hero for a new age faces all the threats and situations that make the genre special. He must find an ancient artifact of great power, stop a civil war in an exotic island nation, and save the entire planet from the coming of a demon, along the way fighting femme fatales both human and shape-shifting, jet pack soldiers, warring airships, giant barbarian kings, and old fashioned tough talking gangsters. This was a hoot.

When was the last time you read a book that was fun? When was the last time you read a book where you cheered out loud for the hero? Where you hissed the bad guys? Where you laughed at the quips of the good guy? This is the book (books), and the hero for you. Check out “Legend of the Golden Bell,” and the rest of the books in the series, as well as all of Derrick’s other work. It, and he rocks.

All Bad Things Must Come to an End…

I suppose I would be remiss if I didn’t write at least something about the end of “Breaking Bad” last night. I had tried to watch the opening episode when it first aired, and just couldn’t get into it. A man running around the desert in his tighty whities? Come on. A couple years later, at the urging of friends and other folks online whose opinions I respect, I tried again. Once I got through that first episode, I was hooked, and from there I stripped the rest of the series, watching the final two seasons as they aired.

The show ended last night, and mighty props go to creator Vince Gilligan and his staff of writers for molding an ending that was precise and complete in tying up loose ends and completing the story begun five seasons ago. Justice is served in an anti-hero kinda way, good and evil balanced, and in a way, the good guys win and the bad guys pay. Brilliance.

Comparatively, it doesn’t let the viewers decide as “The Sopranos” did, and it didn’t do what “Dexter” did much to the sour reprisal of fans. It’s ironic that when “Dexter” ended last week, it was almost at the same point as “Breaking Bad” was last week. Maybe “Dexter” just needed one more episode? In my opinion however, if that last scene with Dexter alive had been cut, that ending would have pleased me. Dexter alive ruins the symmetry. And getting back on subject, symmetry is what “Breaking Bad” was all about.

I was really pleased with the ending. If you want to hear more about the show, my friend and podcast partner Ray Cornwall did a pre-finale episode about “Breaking Bad” last week. You can hear it here.

PrinceLess on The GAR! Podcast

The latest episode (#21) of The GAR! Podcast features a special interview with writer Jeremy Whitley and artist Emily C. Martin of the awarding winning comic PrinceLess from Action Lab Comics.

In the episode we discuss PrinceLess, inspirations, publishing, art styles, teaching, Breaking Bad, Death, Prince, Batman, and the upcoming releases from Action Lab Comics – all that and more!

Check out the podcast here, and you buy PrinceLess online here, in the South Jersey/Philadelphia area at All Things Fun!, or at your local comics shop.

Ben Affleck Is Batman!

So Ben Affleck will play Batman in the upcoming sequel to Man of Steel, likely to be called Batman Vs. Superman.

The announcement came late last night while my friend Ray and I were recording this week’s GAR! Podcast. Had we known, we surely would have been discussing it. Instead you get the usual Prince, Dave Sim, Avengers, and French fries mix of goodness, lucky you. You can hear it here, shameless plug.

After the recording I got on Facebook and Twitter to watch the internet explode. Seemed like no one was happy with the casting.

Well, he’s no Michael Keaton. I mean, it could be worse. He could be Michael Keaton.

What’s that you say? Michael Keaton was one of the best Batmen, he was Batman. Yeah, right. Y’all got selective memories. I remember it quite differently.

I remember people screaming and whining that Mr. Mom/Beetlejuice was the worst choice for a serious version of Batman. The balding no-chinned comedian was no Batman. In the pre-internet world of 1988, this was a horrible mistake, and the angry fanboy letters burning the pages of the Comics Buyer’s Guide were proof of it.

And now, over two decades and two movies later, Keaton is considered one of the best Batmen. So why are people so riled up about Ben Affleck? Because Daredevil was a dud in the theaters? Hell, I liked Daredevil, and liked the director’s cut even more. I even liked Elektra.

And even if I’m wrong about that, what about Affleck’s Oscar and other awards and nominations for acting, writing, and directing? He even has comic book cred beyond Daredevil as an actor in the Kevin Smith films and playing George (Superman) Reeves in Hollywoodland. Talk Gigli and Pearl Harbor all you want, you can’t take Argo or The Town away from him. Everyone has hits and misses.

I think Ben Affleck can pull off Batman and Bruce Wayne like a pro. I dare say he might be a better Batman than anyone else we’ve seen. And yeah, I’m saying that based on his Daredevil performance. I stand behind Ben as Batman. If Michael Keaton could do it…

The Robin Renee Blog Tour – Wrap-Up

Wrapping things up here on the Robin Renee Blog Tour, and I want to thank everyone involved. Special thanks goes out to all the folks who participated and helped with to tour, including, and not limited to, Shelley Szajner, Marie Gilbert, Becca Butcher, Patti O’Brien, Fran Metzman, Ray Cornwall, Andy Burns, the South Jersey Writers, the GAR! Podcast, Biff Bam Pop!, and especially to Robin Renee herself. You all rock, very hard! Thank you!

Here is a breakdown of the stops on the Blog Tour.

Robin Renee is interviewed by Shelley Szajner here about inspiration, Kirtan, and This..

Marie Gilbert runs down some of the places where Robin can be found on the internet here.

Becca Butcher gives her thoughts on the This. release here.

Here, I give a song by song review of This., along with Robin adding her thoughts and observations as well.

Patti O’Brien talks about Robin’s music, and then interviews her about her travels here.

We return to Welcome to Hell, where guest blogger Fran Metzman interviews Robin about her influences, inspirations, and creative process. See it here.

Over on the South Jersey Writers blog, Marie Gilbert returns to interview Robin about encouragement, inspiration, and the ups and downs of a music career.

Robin was a guest on The GAR! Podcast where discussion included DEVO, David Bowie, Saturday Night Live music moments, and the creative process. You can listen to the episode here.

And finally, you can go here for the Biff Bam Pop! interview with Robin Renee, with a few edits for space considerations showing up here.

Robin can be found at her website, and on her blog, and check out her music at CD Baby, and at iTunes. Follow her on Twitter here, and Like her Facebook page here.

And don’t forget about Robin’s terrific new single “All I Am,” now available at CD Baby, with 20% of the proceeds going to the You Will Rise Project.

Thank you, everyone!

Lost Hits of the New Wave #26

“Jocko Homo” by DEVO

Over on The GAR! Podcast, as part of the Robin Renee Blog Tour, Ray and I interviewed Robin for about a half-hour or so. One of the things that came up in conversation was transformative moments in music on “Saturday Night Live.”

In those early seasons of the program I was exposed to many new musical experiences that shaped and influenced how I perceived music, and in the growing punk and new wave atmosphere of the late 1970s, “SNL” was full of new musical experiences. Both Robin and I were affected by an appearance by David Bowie. Ray talked about seeing Fishbone, although much later. I remember being amazed by Patti Smith, Elvis Costello, The Specials, The Clash, the B-52s, Gary Numan, and yes, DEVO.

I wouldn’t be as hardcore into the band as I was later in the Freedom of Choice and New Traditionalists years, but the visuals and sounds stayed with me. I was especially drawn to their cover of the Rolling Stones’ “(I Can’t Get No) Satisfaction,” and that it did what all covers should seek to do, overtake the original. I still to this day feel the DEVO version is superior to the Stones’.

Don’t forget to get over to garpodcast.com, and listen to the Robin Renee interview, and go to Biff Bam Pop! tomorrow for the next stop in the Blog Tour.

The Robin Renee Blog Tour, Stop Eight and Beyond

Just a reminder, today’s stop on the Robin Renee Blog Tour is at the South Jersey Writers blog, Tall Tales and Short Stories, you can check out regular site blogger Marie Gilbert‘s interview with Robin there.

Probably as you read this tonight, my partner Ray Cornwall and I will be interviewing Robin on The GAR! Podcast, and that will be posted tomorrow morning as Stop Nine on the Tour.

On Friday, be sure to check out the Robin Renee interview at Biff Bam Pop!, then come back here on Saturday for the close of the tour.

Robin can be found at her website, on her blog, at CD Baby, and at iTunes. Follow her on Twitter here, and Like her Facebook page here.

The Robin Renee Blog Tour

Today marks the start of the Robin Renee Blog Tour. For the next week or so, we’ll be guiding you through a journey of the work singer/songwriter/poet/activist/journalist, Robin Renee.

Who is Robin Renee? Besides, my talented and creative friend of several decades of course, Robin Renee is Mantra-Pop! – accessible, lyric-driven alt-folk rock with a spiritual twist. Conscious and melodic with an edge, think of blending the voices of Chrissie Hynde and Joan Armatrading with the wordsmith intelligence of Elvis Costello and the mystical passion of kirtan chanting.

Her CDs include In Progress, All Six Senses (produced by the world renowned Scott Mathews who has worked with George Harrison, Elvis Costello, Barbra Streisand, and many more), Live Devotion (East-meets-West chanting), and spirit.rocks.sexy – mantra-pop headlines from the clairaudient dreams of the evocative Robin Renée.

She has shared the stage with some of the West’s best-loved kirtan singers including Krishna Das, Dave Stringer, and Girish. Also a poet, artist, and writer, Robin’s work has appeared in PanGaia, Big Hammer #12, Curve Magazine, Songwriter’s Market, Blessed Bi Spirit – Bisexual People of Faith (Continuum Press), That Takes Ovaries – Bold Females and their Brazen Acts (Random House), and many other publications.

Her newest recording, This. (chant and sacred song), will be followed by ..and Everything Else (songs and spoken word) in 2014.

Here’s the schedule for the Blog Tour:

Tomorrow, Thursday, July 18th, Shelley Szajner will be interviewing Robin at her blog.

Friday, July 19th, Marie Gilbert will be hosting at her blog, Gilbert Curiosities.

Saturday, July 20th, Becca Butcher will be hosting at her blog.

Sunday, July 21st, we return here to Welcome to Hell, where I’ll be reviewing Robin’s “This.” Album.

Monday, July 22nd Patti O’Brien will be hosting at her blog, A Broad Abroad.

Tuesday, July 23rd, Fran Metzman will be guest blogging an interview with Robin here at my blog, Welcome to Hell.

Wednesday, July 24th Marie Gilbert will be hosting an interview with Robin at the South Jersey Writers Blog, Tall Tales and Short Stories.

Thursday, July 25th Robin Renee will be a guest on The GAR! Podcast, with Ray Cornwall and myself.

Friday, July 26th I will be conducting an interview with Robin Renee at Biff Bam Pop!.

Saturday, July 27th I will be closing out the blog tour here at Welcome to Hell.

And don’t forget to check out Robin Renee’s new single “All I Am” at CD Baby, with proceeds going to the anti-bullying organization, the You Will Rise Project.

See you tomorrow, at Shelley Szajner’s blog!