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Friday, Nov 21, 2014
He was more than just a filmmaker. With his passing at age 83, Mike Nichols leaves behind a legacy filled with awards and attitudes which influenced every medium he was involved in.

Mike Nichols won nine Tony Awards, four Emmys, a Grammy and an Oscar, making him one of the few artists in any medium that can claim such honors. Not bad for a Jewish refugee from Nazi Germany who thought of becoming a doctor but, instead, dropped out of the University of Chicago to try the theater. It was there where he met partner Elaine May, and the two would soon become the toast of contemporary (‘50s) pop culture.


He was accepted into the Actor’s Studio and studied under the great Lee Strasberg before joining the Windy City’s Compass Players in 1955. Along with May, Shelley Berman, Del Close, and Nancy Ponder, they were the predecessors for the noted Second City improv troupe. In 1960, Arthur Penn directed the Broadway smash An Evening with Mike Nichols and Elaine May, and soon both were huge household names.


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Friday, Nov 21, 2014
When I'm a-walkin' I strut my stuff and I'm so strung out. I'm high as a kite and I just might stop to check out the 304th most acclaimed album of all time. A 1983 acoustopunk bellwether is this week's Counterbalance.

Mendelsohn: I couldn’t tell you when I got a copy of the Violent Femmes’ self-titled debut. I don’t even know where I bought it or why (it probably had something to do with “Blister in the Sun”). I don’t even recall listening to this album all that much. But going back to it for this week’s edition of Counterbalance, I realized that I had done an adequate job of internalizing the record. And then I had something of an epiphany as it dawned on me that the Violent Femmes may have very quietly been one of the most important rock bands of the 1980s, if not the past quarter century. Not so much for the band’s surprisingly varied catalog of material but for their legacy and the idea that a three-piece acoustic punk band is a viable vehicle for rock music. They are one rock band in a long line of rock bands who celebrated the simplicity of pop music from the fringes, attacking convention with a mix of humor and violence.


What’s your take, Klinger? Is the Violent Femmes’ debut worthy of its No. 304 ranking on the Great List?


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Friday, Nov 21, 2014
No one really wants to play a fair game. Video games are unfair, but in our favor, which is what makes them fun, right?

No one really wants a fair game. For the most part, we want a game that skews to our advantage so we can finish it and move on to the next game. It’s unfair, but it’s unfair in our favor, which makes it fun. Generally, when a game is unfair to our disadvantage we call this out as a negative, something to be rectified with a patch or update. However, after having recently played Shadow of Mordor and Alien: Isolation, I’ve come to appreciate how unfair those games can be. They prove that balance and fairness are overrated because the most exciting moments in these games stem from the systems that are stacked against us.


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Thursday, Nov 20, 2014
by PopMatters Staff
David Baldacci’s books are great gift options for everyone on your holiday list and we are giving some away just in time for the holidays.

One (1) winner will receive:
·      David Baldacci’s new thriller, The Escape
·      His new Young Adult fantasy, The Finisher (ages 10+)
·      plus a $100 Visa gift card for holiday purchases


David Baldacci Book Giveaway + $100 VISA Gift Card in PopMatters's Hangs on LockerDome

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Thursday, Nov 20, 2014
The latest tune from the Long Beach trio Bella Novela, "Four Walls", is a classic rock-esque number in the vein of Heart and Pat Benatar with the tonality of a James Bond theme.

Long Beach, CA rock trio Bella Novela is one of those bands that is able to pull off the tricky task of sounding like classic rock without merely imitating the genre’s tropes. Frontwoman Jackie Laws’ vocals bring to mind Heart and Pat Benatar, but she also sounds undoubtedly contemporary, her voice coalescing perfectly with guitarist Jacob Heath’s Muse-esque leads. On its newest tune, “Four Walls”, Bella Novela amps up the drama with a chord progression and vocal line that sound ready to be the next James Bond theme. But rather than go for the classic Bond theme pace of slow and sultry, the trio amps up the energy, due in large part to drummer Jannea McClure’s rapid fills. This sense of bombast is a fitting one for the group’s forthcoming LP, Telemetry, a concept album based on a popular Mexican telenovela. The new prog influences on Bella Novela’s music, especially on “Four Walls”, make it a distinctive voice in the Los Angeles music scene.


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