Monthly Archives: May 2013

A Comprehensive Review of MARTA’s Hip-Hop Sensation, “The Safety Slide”

Published Dec. 4, 2012. See it here.

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The good ol’ Metropolitan Atlanta Rapid Transit Authority has done it again! They present to us… The MARTA Safety Slide, a little ditty soon to be topping R&B charts for sure. Because no one can resist a song that comes with a dance…

Exhibit A
Exhibit B

We know this is a lot to take in at once so we broke it on down in a review to help ya’ll out.

The Atlanta Dream Mascot: 4 Stars
We’re thrilled that MARTA has selected Star, the WNBA’s Atlanta Dream mascot, to rep our city and help passengers improve their safety skills. So what if no one knows what this massive bird creature is? He or she is clearly bursting with ATL pride. We aren’t so thrilled by his (her?) antennae… Also, why does Star value others’ safety so much more than his own? Shouldn’t the whole “secure your own oxygen mask before helping others” rule also apply in bus and train decorum? For these reasons, Star loses a star.

Dance Crew of Average Citizens: 5 Stars
Where else but Atlanta would all ages and races be represented in an ever-growing mob of safety sliders? If this video accomplishes nothing else, at least it will further confirm the irrefutable fact that Atlantans can werk. We just hope that all that sassy slidin’ didn’t cause any of them to miss their bus!

Man Who Tries Running For the Bus: No Stars
You, sir, earn no stars. You just need to go home for the day and listen to the sultry sounds of the Safety Slide.

Overall Score: 4.5 Stars

But don’t just take our word for it. Read these YouTube comment highlights:

“Nice video with good information. Very catchy song, could actually be a hit at parties and clubs. Who knew Louis could break it down like that!” – Dean Neblett

“how on earth can you be anything but delighted with this extraordinary insanity? this is the sort of deeply bizarre thing that atlanta is sorely short on. @itsmartanews: don’t listen to these hatas! might i recommend a metal video next starring atlanta’s own MASTODON?” – Nick Black

“look look look before takin’ a step omg it’s in my head” – Nick Black in reply to Nick Black

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Five Ways to Get Your Family Out of the House (Segways Not Included)

Published Nov. 17, 2012. See it here.
Oakland Cemetery
It’s that time of year. Loved ones come to visit from far and wide expecting the full Atlanta experience—choppin’ that house outside Turner Field and gently caressing the backs of horseshoe crabs at the aquarium. They can practically feel the wind in their hair and the fanny-pack across their hips as they glide past the CNN Center aboard their Segways, allowing those majestic chariots to carry them to the World of Coke where they might pose for pictures by friendly polar bears and giant decorative bottles. Delightful as all these places are, you envision yourself… trying to avoid these tourist traps.

Here are five Atlanta tours that will satisfy your guests’ wayfaring wishes while leaving your waist free of fanny-packs (unless you just roll that way) and your hands free of horse-shoe crab residue (ditto)!

Bicycle Tours of Atlanta – Get out and get moving on a bike tour! Don’t forget to bring a sweater though… it’s borderline wintry out there. With three main routes to choose from and each tour covering about 10 miles, there’s sure to be something both you and your guests have a hankering to see. Plus, the Atlanta Street Art Tour beats the heck out of looking at murals through your dirty windshield, don’t you think?

Atlanta Culinary Tours – Time to explore some of Atlanta’s best and most unique noshing neighborhoods like Downtown Decatur, Inman Park/Old Fourth Ward and Roswell. You’ll get a good meal and discover hidden gastronomic gems while knowledgeable guides school you on some tasty local history between eats.

Atlanta Movie Tours – This one is for the zombie-lovers. You know who we’re talking about. Now they can follow in footsteps of their favorite Walking Dead characters. Bonus: all the Big Zombie Tour guides are actors with special insight into TWD. Let’s just say these guys don’t rep a perfect touradvisor.com rating for nothing.

Oakland Cemetery Tours – Take your guests on a self-guided or guide-guided tour through Oakland Cemetery. The choice is yours, my friend. Either way, you can take in the gardens’ beauty as you come across some grand sculptures and maybe some famous specters. You can even go on a scavenger hunt and have yourself your own otherworldly adventure.

Local Brewery Tours – Last but not least, we present to you the brewery tours. Red Brick, Red Hare and Sweetwater are the standbys here. Most tours are free, just remember that no tour is complete without a stint in the tasting room and you’re gonna need to buy the glass for that.

13 ATL-centric Halloween Costumes

Published Oct. 19, 2012. See it here.

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It’s coming.

It’s coming.

It’s coming.

The most epic of epic Hallows’ Eve jamborees is on the horizon. And if you haven’t already settled on some form of costumery, you may feel whipsawed by confusion. But worry not, dear reader: we’ve got a few handy suggestions to get you out of that pickle, and we promise not to steal any of them for ourselves. Best of all? They’re all local. Because that’s just how we do. Also because Bicycle Shorts Terry is way better than Sexy Nurse.

Catlanta
You will need: scissors, cardboard, paint, string
Optional: eyeliner whiskers, people willing to scale fences to find you

Chipper Jones’ Last Game
You will need: poster boards, Braves jersey, baseball cap
Optional: peanuts, nostalgia

A Walking Dead Zombie
You will need: clothes to destroy, zombie make up
Optional: faux human flesh to gnaw on

The Varsity Orange Drink
You will need: orange pants, orange shirt, straws, glue
Optional: a friend wearing a hotdog suit

Lun Lun the Giant Panda
You will need: black pants, something with black sleeves, hat/headband with black ears
Optional: bamboo, crew of panda pals, legion of adoring fans

Meatwad from Aqua Teen Hunger Force
You will need: pillow filling, adhesive, brown paint
Optional: black tooth, afro wig

Aunt Fran & Uncle Stan, the Proud Parents of Cousin Dan
You will need: laser pointer, baby, codpiece for the baby

Bicycle Shorts Terry
You will need: bicycle shorts. Roll of quarters. Extreme confidence. Done.

Do You Like Good Poetry
You will need: rhyme skills, ability to think on your feet, extreme persistence
Optional: an MFA in Poetry.

King & Queen of Pops
You will need: Matching crowns, ermine robe, frozen delicacies
Optional: push cart, rainbow umbrella

Murder Kroger
You will need: deathly makeup, tunic fashioned out of a brown paper Kroger bag, faux weaponry
Optional: shopping cart for collecting victims

Fitness With Jeff
You will need: a Fitness With Jeff sign (see here), a Fitness With Jeff t-shirt, a Fitness With Jeff minivan, body like a battle axe

Baton Bob
You will need: an assortment of hats, a tutu, sass unlimited

Five Reasons to Rock Out at Rocky Horror

Published Oct. 2, 2012. See it here.

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If you aren’t already familiar with the ultimate cult classic known as the Rocky Horror Picture Show, Halloween is the perfect time to get acquainted with its glamorous greatness. Every Friday at midnight, the historic Plaza Theater on Ponce de Leon projects this campy, corset-y, 1970s musical and allows Atlanta’s own Lips Down on Dixie cast to do its thang. They’ve been at it for more than a decade, so they pretty much have it down to a science. Or rather, a science fiction/double feature. Although the Plaza faithfully features the film every week, we have five reasons why October is the best time to go.

1. Nothing says “Happy Halloween” quite like a singing, transsexual, mad scientist.

2. The plot is like a sexed up version of a Halloween literary classic, Frankenstein, plus a few aliens, some Cabaret-worthy costumes, and a whole lot of eyeliner.

3. Dressing up is always encouraged so it’s good practice for the Big Day. We recommend wearing any garment covered in glitter.

4. If you’ve never been, the devoted Lips Down on Dixie cast plants performers among the audience to help clue newbies in on when to throw things, when to shout obscenities and when to get up and dance. So don’t be intimated by the long line of fishnet-clad fans at the box office. The LDOD staff is guaranteed to be on their Welcome Wagon Game during Halloween.

5. You get to do the Time Warp. It’s like a less cheesy version of the Monster Mash. If the Plaza were a graveyard, it would definitely be a graveyard smash. It also works much like a séance, briefly allowing Time Warp-ers to contact the immortal spirit of All Hallows’ Eve itself.

So toss those inhibitions aside, slap on the reddest lipstick you can find and get ready to embrace your inner creature of the night at the Plaza. Tickets cost $8 each.

2012-2013 Year in Review: Movies

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Printed April 26, 2013. Published version here.

Bradley Cooper, Jennifer Lawrence and Robert DeNiro. These three names alone should be enough to tell you that “Silver Linings Playbook” is awesome. Yes, this acting trifecta certainly helps confirm this movie’s claim to greatness. It’s really not all about the cast, though. I swear.

That being said, Jennifer Lawrence triumphs for her role with wit and finesse. The Oscar it earned her was well-deserved and not just because everyone felt bad for her when she tripped.

She plays a widow named Tiffany who, donned in modern mourning clothes, acts as confident on the outside as she is crushed on the inside.

“Silver Linings Playbook” offers audiences a distinct blend of romance, drama and comedy that’s a far cry from typical rom-com material. The leading couple, should you care to call them that, comes to know each other through frank discussions of their various psychiatric conditions.

Mental health is a topic not often explored with such openness and humor in film — or in life — and “Silver Linings” handles it admirably.

Screenwriter/director David O. Russell balances the serious issues with dialogue full of quick quips, a whole lot of Eagles football, a Raisin-Bran date and, of course, a ballroom dancing competition. The film manages to be edgy without losing its heart. Some call it the rejuvenation of the romantic comedy.

I just call it genius.

Jazz on the Green 2013

Printed April 16, 2013. Published version here.

Last Thursday at 6 p.m. on the Dobbs University Center (DUC) terraces, April showers gave way to the melodic powers of the Emory Jazz Combos. Originally planned as an outdoor jazz event for the Patterson Pavilion between the Schwartz Center for Performing Arts and the Goizueta Business School, the so-called “Jazz on the Green” had to relocate due to wetter weather conditions.

Fortunately, the change in locale did nothing to diminish the resolve of the musicians whose superior performances proved that improvisation is more than just a musical skill.

The concert was divided into two parts, the first part featuring the Emory Jazz Band and the second part showcasing the Emory Jazz Combos.

Promptly at 6 p.m., the silky smooth sounds of jazz began flowing from instruments sans verbal introduction.

Throughout the show, the musicians quickly transitioned from one song to another, providing themselves only the briefest of pauses to accept applause. It seems that the Emory Jazz groups would rather let their instruments speak for themselves when it comes to music.

Director of Jazz Studies Gary Motley and Emory Jazz Artist Affiliates Chris Riggenbach and Justin Chesarek — on keyboard, double bass and drums, respectively — provided the backbone of the band’s music, leaving the trumpet, trombone and trio of saxophones to administer most of the complex compositional flourishes.

Almost every member of the band became a soloist at some point during the introductory songs. Polished solos were met with smatterings of applause and an occasional cheer from enthusiastic onlookers.

They followed the opening number with an upbeat, toe-tap-inducing ditty that piqued the curiosity of passersby. Many pedestrians aimed impressed facial expressions toward the band and a number of intrigued students stopped to appreciate the live music for a minute or two before resuming their walk through the balmy spring night.

Once the full band had finished their fourth or fifth song (and more than a few audience-members had snapped a photograph of the striking ensemble), it was the smaller combinations’ turn to practice their art.

As it states on the Emory music department website, “the primary focus of these groups is on gaining experience in improvising and soloing for each participant.” The website goes on to cite “individual expression as well as group interaction and cohesiveness” as key facets of the Emory Jazz Combos’ mission. What the online description fails to mention, however, is the pure joy with which each artist plays his or her particular instrument.

The brass instruments were traded out for the softer jazz guitar in this second, more mellow section of the hour.

The guitarist picked out unpredictable melodies on the steely strings of his instrument while saxophone, double bass and keyboard filled in harmonies underneath.

A gentle rain shower and a faint rumble of thunder accompanied this particular set, sending the audience scooting farther under the DUC’s awnings and somehow adding to the peaceful ambience of the event.

The last and smallest jazz combo closed the event with a relaxing, keyboard-heavy lineup that naturally dissolved into the cloudy Atlanta twilight.

Throughout the event, as the hour grew later, more and more people joined the crowd, confirming the infectious power of the art form.

What began as a gathering of perhaps a dozen more musically-inclined individuals swelled to include a respectable group of students, faculty and community members of all ages.

While some braved the pollen-coated chairs and benches, others opted to stand or meander around the terrace, mingling with fellow spectators. The unassuming nature of the music in the latter half of the show encouraged the audience to let loose, leaving people free to chit-chat and enjoy each other’s company. One well-equipped group brought along refreshments in coolers and Tupperware containers, contributing to the pleasant casual quality of the evening.

There will be a second Jazz on the Green at 6 p.m. on Thursday, April 25. Weather permitting, it will take place in the open air of the Patterson Pavilion.

The two-part concert series is intended as a celebration of Jazz Appreciation Month (aptly abbreviated JAM), an annual festival in honor of jazz as an extraordinary American art form. The festival, which first began in 2001, is the brainchild of musical historian John Edward Hasse.

The informal vibe of the Jazz on the Green concerts allows for an earnest, unostentatious celebration of Jazz Appreciation Month.

Last week’s Jazz on the Green at the DUC demonstrated that jazz need not be the stuff of department stores, elevators and waiting rooms. It’s a playful, energetic genre, filled with all the rising, falling, snaking and looping of an acoustic rollercoaster.

It commands the ears’ attention without disturbing the mind and, as the highly diverse crowd of last week’s performance can attest to, it brings different sectors of the Emory community together. And that’s surely something to be appreciated.

Cinematheque Celebrates Universal

Print Jan. 29, 2013. Published version here.

This spring, Emory’s Department of Film and Media Studies continues Cinematheque, a series of free 35mm film screenings every Wednesday evening at 7:30 pm, from Jan. 30 to Apr. 24 in White Hall 205. For 2013, Emory College and the Department of Film and Media Studies join forces to show the series “Universal Pictures: Celebrating 100 Years” presented by American Express and the University of California, Los Angeles (UCLA) Film. Emory is the only venue in the southeast to host the touring series of outstanding Universal Pictures films, as well as one of very few venues in the Southeast to screen 35mm programming.

According to the department’s website, the series, curated by film and media studies faculty, will include 12 films, two documentaries and two special features hosted by Sir Salman Rushdie. The diverse slate of films, spanning from 1931 to the 2000s, is meant to illustrate Universal’s diverse output through the decades.

“Every decade is represented from the 1930s to the 2000s except the 1970s … Back in the day, each studio had a pretty specific identity (Universal had horror films in the 1930s, hence the double feature on the 13th; pink Technicolor comedies in the late fifties, 1960s, hence Pillow Talk) comprised of genre, star and visual style,” Dr. Matthew Bernstein explained in an email to the Wheel.

Such shifts in focus are to be expected from a centenarian movie studio. As the oldest continuously operating producer-distributor in the U.S., Universal Pictures has explored a myriad of cinematic styles. German-born Carl Laemmle founded the pioneering Hollywood movie studio in April 1912. Although popular movie genres and filmmaking techniques have changed dramatically in its century’s worth of production, the iconic spinning globe logo has remained the same.

Throughout its history, Universal Pictures has strived to strike a balance between prestigious and popular entertainment, often questioning the distinction altogether. From the 1930s horror flicks “Dracula” and “Frankenstein” to the 1980s blockbuster “Back to the Future,” the films selected for the series surely reflect Universal’s ongoing struggle to let art and profitability share the screen.
One may not expect the 1963 Alfred Hitchcock classic “The Birds” or the highly accoladed “Apollo 13” to appear in the same series as a 2005 Judd Apatow comedy, but the film studies department wanted to showcase the Universal ancestry in its entirety.

“Perhaps the biggest surprise for students is “The 40 Year-old Virgin.” As the first feature film to make a huge splash from Judd Apatow and his crew, we thought it was important to link this highly successful comedy with the Technicolor fantasies, melodramas, horror films, sci-fi, rom-coms and westerns that preceded it,” said Bernstein.

Bernstein feels fortunate to have been asked to screen the series and expressed his hopes to see large audiences come out to White Hall on Wednesday nights this semester. “Our series take a lot of time and work, and we offer them to the entire campus community,” he said.

All screenings are free and unticketed. For the full list of film titles, visit the film studies website.