Five Things you need to know about

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Calvin James Pynn
cpynn@radford.edu

Music:

Deftones – Diamond Eyes:

When a band experiences a tragedy, it casts an inevitable shroud of uncertainty over the future of their career. That seemed to be the case when Chi Cheng, the bassist for California alternative metal band the Deftones, slipped into a coma following a car wreck. Despite the loss of their crucial member, the Deftones decided to continue on, and Diamond Eyes is the incredible result. Taking on former Quicksand bassist Frank Delgado as a temporary replacement, the band created a veritable opus in Diamond Eyes, released in May of 2010. From the booming guitar on Diamond Eyes’ opening title track, to the sensuous and evil “You’ve Seen the Butcher,” and the rap-laden “CMND-CNTRL,” the Deftones display compositions reminiscent of older albums such as Around the Fur and White Pony. With tracks such as “Beauty School,” “Sextape” and “This Place is Death,” however, the band displays a new sense of deep though, as those songs contain a deeper level of lyrical complexity mixed with a healthy dose of ambient shoe gaze. Overall, Diamond Eyes incorporates the best elements of the Deftones, and while it’s hard to determine which album is their best, their latest effort stands on its own as a masterpiece. When Cheng wakes up, he’ll be proud to see what his band mates have accomplished.

Web:

Rainyjazz.com:

Rainnyjazz.com is a prime example of an idea that encompasses pure genius in its simplicity. The website is as straightforward as it could possibly be: its rain and jazz, nothing more, nothing less. The homepage consists of two streaming media players, one with access to four specialized jazz stations, while the other plays a continuous recording of a rain storm, set against the background of Ed Hooper’s Nighthawk. The two elements blend phenomenally well together, and while it serves as primarily fantastic background noise, rainyjazz.com can be a satisfying find for jazz enthusiasts as well. Somehow, the mix of the heavy falling rain against the smooth and sophisticated compositions makes for a relaxing and stimulating experience. The four jazz stations play a unique mix: Dinner Jazz Excursion plays softer compositions, Swiss Groove consists of more modern, energetic material, and Radio Swing Worldwide plays older songs from the ‘30s and ‘40s. The last station, AM 1710, broadcasts classic radio serials. Overall, it’s a neat idea and a fun experience.

“Epic Meal Time:”

At this point, almost everyone has witnessed the culinary madness that is “Epic Meal Time,” but most people don’t fully appreciate the gravity of this YouTube series’ success. For those who haven’t seen it, “Epic Meal Time” is a cooking show hosted by Harley Morenstein, aka “The Sauce Boss,” and his friends, most notably the appropriately named “Muscles Glasses.”  Every week, the group makes large, high-calorie meals that no sane person would ever think of cooking, but the extremes that the “Epic Meal Time” crew go to is the key to their success. Making such concoctions as the Meat Salad, Candy Barbecue, and the 84-egg McMuffin, the series has generated millions of views, and garnered sponsorships that have helped give Morenstein and his crew a comfortable, steady income. The guys create these meals using an unheard of amount of bacon, and various liquors, namely Jack Daniels, getting incoherently drunk while making honing their craft, often with the aid of beautiful, scantily clad women. Currently, “Epic Meal Time” is in the process of moving from the Internet to television, as a full series is being produced for the G4 network. Essentially, “Epic Meal Time” is a pop-culture icon in the making, and in its ever-increasing popularity, it’s already being referred to as the next “Jackass.”

Film:

Repo! The Genetic Opera:

As if anyone could imagine the producer for the “Saw” film series directing a musical, such a crazy idea became a reality. Repo! The Genetic Opera was released in 2008, and despite a less than enthusiastic critical reception and limited theatrical screening, the gory, creepy gothic musical has gained a large cult following comparable to that of The Rocky Horror Picture Show. The story is set in a grim and ravaged distant future, where a series of epidemics have crippled the world populations, and replacement organs can be purchased on credit through the corrupt pharmaceutical company GeneCo. If the payments are not kept up with, however, repo man is sent to collect the product, in this instance, literally tearing the organ from the customer’s body, killing them. The story focuses on the tragic plight of the film’s titular repo man, his sickly daughter, and the evil leader of GeneCo, told through a series of songs, falling mostly within the industrial, electronica, and metal genres, mixed with wacky and bizarre Broadway-esque tunes. While the Repo! The Genetic Opera is often confused with the similarly themed Repo Men, there is no connection between the two, as the musical goes above and beyond the sub par plagiarism that was released over a year later. Still, Repo! and its legacy remain strong, as a sequel is currently being planned.

Television:

Breaking Bad:

Very few modern television dramas incorporate character development on the scale that “Breaking Bad” does, and during the series’ four season run, lead actor Brian Cranston’s transition from a milquetoast high school chemistry teacher to a ruthless crystal meth manufacturer has kept audiences captivated. Despite its three-year existence as a show, most viewers have recently discovered “Breaking Bad,” and experienced the show’s intriguing subject matter. Cranston plays Walter White; an overqualified chemistry teacher facing financial dire straits when he is diagnosed with terminal lung cancer, exacerbating an already tight situation as his son has cerebral palsy and his wife is expecting a baby. In an act of desperation to leave money for his family after he dies, White puts his chemistry savvy to its most notorious use – manufacturing crystal meth. Joining up with drug dealer Jesse Pinkman, one of his former students, White delves deeper and deeper into the dangerous, and often terrifying meth trade, as his chemically pure product becomes a highly sought after drug in the show’s New Mexico setting. As White and Pinkman go from peddling meth on the street, to working through high level distributors and eventually cooking in a state of the art laboratory, they are under constant threat of death and incarceration, as White has to hide his double life from his family, particularly his Drug Enforcement Agent brother-in-law. While the show just recently ended its fourth season; those who are interested will have plenty of time to catch up, as the fifth and final season is expected to start in spring of 2012.