entertainment

ALBUM REVIEW: Kevin Devine -Instigator

Prolific songwriters are annoying. You hear about guys like Kevin Devine and you say, “Wow! Can’t wait to get into this,” and suddenly eight years go by and you’ve missed nine albums and two side-projects (see also, Ryan Adams).

Despite some familiarity with his catalogue (mostly the Bubblegum and Bulldozer albums), I fully admit that I should be a bigger fan of Kevin Devine than I am. Here’s my reasoning: 

My name is also Kevin. [√]

I happen to look like Kevin. [√]

I’m a long-time, bitter Brand New fan. [√]

I’ve seen Kevin live three times and he’s always amazing. [√ and √]

What happens is this: I see Kevin Devine in concert, I walk away in awe, and then I listen to his records and come away disappointed. Call it the “Curse of the Great Live Band,” but I find his studio stuff often fails to capture the spirit, energy and vulnerability of what I hear on stage.

There’s also the problem that his recordings sound like crap.

But I’m getting ahead of myself. Let’s talk Instigator (more…)

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The X-Files Revival Review: Paranormally Normal Expectations

Let’s get this out of the way: I’m an X-Phile, through and through.

As the name would suggest, X-Philes are a rare breed of entertainment consumers who swear allegiance to the TV show The X-Files. With 201 episodes, we have spent at least 201 hours of our lives watching Mulder and Scully ask the big questions and chase the big, scary monsters. Personally, I’ve seen the original series three-times through, with favorite episodes re-watched here or there, and of course, multiple viewings of the two movies. Realistically, let’s call it 700 hours of my life dedicated to finding Mulder’s stupid sister. Let us not mention The Philosophy of The X-Files book, or the Season 10 comic book series. I also bought the IDM board game.

There’s a simpler word for what I am. It’s called a nerd, and I understand that.

The truth… is that we X-Philes absorbed any and all X-Files we could get, because when the series ended in 2001, the show was over. That was it. Gone. Dunzo. Poof. Like the proof Mulder could never quite attain, The X-Files disappeared, almost as if it were never really there. And remember, TV shows didn’t come back from the dead back then. When they ended, they ended. When they were cancelled, they cancelled. So, we X-Philes became our special class of nerds, quietly holding onto the spooky, nostalgic memories of something that would never exist again.

Until it existed again.

And The X-Files came back. And now my board game, comics and books look less like collector’s items, and more like an obvious case of dork.

The-X-Files-10x03-1

Read my full review on The Farsighted blog: Part One and Part Two

Thursday Night FRINGE: “The Importance of Being Earnest” and Local Band, The Lonely Ones

Thursday night’s local music and live theatre double header at Writers & Books was among my favorite evenings at the First Niagara Rochester Fringe Festival. Local folk-indie-awesome band, The Lonely Ones, performed a diverse and wonderful set of original compositions, followed by the excellent, MUST SEE University of Rochester TOOP production of Oscar Wilde’s masterpiece, “The Importance of Being Earnest” which, literally, brought the lattice down.

Let’s start with Earnest.

“The Importance of Being Earnest” @ Writers and Books

Photography by Todd Kelmar

Photography by Todd Kelmar

To be clear, I will pledge my support to student productions until the day my proverbial curtains close. That said, they are usually a mixed bag of quality, plagued with director inexperience, bland overstatement, and poor (pick of the crop) acting.

I’m happy to announce that University of Rochester TOOP’s (The Opposite of People) production of “The Importance of Being Earnest” rivals some of the best theatre I’ve seen at the Fringe this year. Ian Van Fange, only a sophomore at UR, directs Oscar Wilde’s extravagantly clever script into a tight, well performed play that had the nearly sold-out audience invested from start to finish, crying with laughter. When I spoke with Van Fange, congratulating him on the wonderful production, he gave all the credit to his actors. And I can see why. His cast was certainly amazing.

Daniel Mensel (as Algernon Moncrieff) and Michael Tamburrino (as John Worthing, J.P.) are impeccable together, eliciting a contagious chemistry that never quits. These two young actors jump into Wilde’s shoes brilliantly. Were they born to play these roles? Maybe. All we know is what we can assume: Mensel and Tamburrino were born to play many more roles after this.

Photography by Todd Kelmar

Photography by Todd Kelmar

(more…)

5 Fantasy Football Life Lessons

I’m just going to come right out and say it: I play fantasy football.

Watch as my machismo drips away.

Despite its rapidly growing popularity (an estimated 33,559,990 players in 2013), people like myself continue to struggle with admitting our rabid and passionate participation. Fantasy footballers are like the new nerds. Remember when comic book nerds were uncool? That is, before Hollywood employed attractive people and dumbed down comic book story-lines?

Fantasy Football is nerdy but not yet cool. Proclaiming, “I was screwed by Dez Bryant,” outside of your respective fantasy milieu, will turn a few heads, juke a few coworkers, and roll a few eyes. It is nearly impossible to get taken seriously while talking fantasy football.

But I understand the stigmas: it is a waste of time, a waste of effort, ambition, mental energy, money, relationships, opportunity cost, all that stuff. On paper, droves of grown men and women pretending to be NFL coaches between August and December certainly reads like a bad idea. We could all probably be accomplishing something more meaningful with our lives. Yada, yada…

Listen, I love fantasy football. I’m certain if aliens invaded during my fantasy draft, for instance, I probably wouldn’t notice. I’m that invested. The entertainment experience is better than most of today’s movies and TV shows, it keeps me engaged to distant friends and relatives, and participation is free (minus time spent and optional buy-ins).

But my favorite aspect of playing the game is the life lessons I can pull from. I’m here to argue that fantasy football isn’t a waste of time, but rather, that there is value far beyond its temporal and waning pride. Fantasy football rewards its players in ways that can prepare them for many of life’s most important ups and downs. Check it out: (more…)

5 Things To Do on St. Pat’s Day (that don’t include drinking & fighting)

Today is my favorite holiday! Hold up, my second favorite holiday; I’m a Halloween fanatic. Third favorite, my third favorite holiday (Flag day).

My Irish blood swims around my veins and spits out through my red hair and pale skin; naturally, I have a love/hate relationship with the holiday which manages to both celebrate and demean my Irish heritage.

St. Patrick’s Day can (and should be) a family holiday. Never mind the drunk parade. Never mind the girls puking in the street and the bros who drink Michelob Ultra out of a skinny can with a coozie. There is more to St. Patrick’s Day than drinking and fighting and acting like an idiot.

Because truth be told, (pause for serious effect), the Irish are the most humble, down-to-earth people I’ve ever met. Their representation deserves some balance. (more…)

The Avett Brothers—the ‘Breaking Bad’ of Live Music

Formal Opening: This esteemed, academic discussion will argue that The Avett Brothers are to live music as Breaking Bad is to television drama: elevating the craft and challenging the accepted paradigm through optimal songwriting and storytelling, employing a diverse range of genres, effectively executing dynamically positioned theatricality.

Relaxed Opening: I saw The Avett Brothers for the first time last night, and they were freakin’ awesome!

And It Spread

The Avett Brothers made a stop here in Rochester to promote their new album, Magpie and the Dandelion; however, brothers and co. primarily performed older material from Emotionalism and I and Love and You. (more…)