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Thursday, Dec 13, 2007

James Bond was the very image of British postwar cool and indeed the Bond stories were something of an assertion of confidence and the importance of Britain in the world at large following the dissolution of Empire. That would have meant nothing though without the suave leading men and cutting-edge gadgets that drove the film series’ popularity. Now Bond fans have a reason to rejoice. You can now have every single Bond movie ever made—including the recent Casino Royale—complete with a wealth of extras detailing every last element of the Bond universe, in one big box. Each film is restored and burns up the screen as never before. Perfect for indulging in all those Connery vs. Moore arguments.


 


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Thursday, Dec 13, 2007

Who hasn’t gazed around them, now and then, and fantisized the sudden demise of the entire human race? Whether impelled by a very foul mood—or the simple, apocolyptic speculation that forges every myth, fantasy, and society-binding religion—virtually every artistic expression has tangled with this concept, and we all know it at a primal level. Ironically, although Weisman will scare you enough to cause loss of sleep, at times, the overwhelming message is hope. One leaves this book with a greater appreciation for the preciousness of this world, and a deep desire to, in one’s own little way, leave the Earth in a little bit better shape, before one leaves it for good. Give this to the budding environmentalist, and the one who could use a bit of a nudge in that direction.


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Thursday, Dec 13, 2007

Three months before Otis Redding took Monterey Pop by storm, he and his buddies conquered Europe. Stax Records mounted its first European tour in the spring of ’67, and instantly created a passionate fanbase. Some of the earlier dates on the tour were released as live albums, but this April concert was taped for Norwegian TV, then sat in a vault for years. The black-and-white video is a joy to watch; the TV crew’s shot selection rotates nicely from artist close-up to audience reaction. But it is the performances that will ultimately amaze. The energy gets kicked up with Arthur Conley’s hot showmanship, sails through part of an Eddie Floyd song, and goes through the roof after a Sam and Dave set. Then Otis Redding comes on, and it appears neither the TV screen nor the stage nor his body can contain the joy he brings to every note.


Sam & Dave - When Something Is Wrong with My Baby



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Thursday, Dec 13, 2007

Hardcore gearheads and racing simulation fans may swear by the Forza Motorsport series, but for our money we’ll take the arcade-like thrills of Project Gotham Racing 4 for the Xbox 360. Instead of spending hours fiddling around in a game menu trying to decide what suspension or exhaust system to buy, Project Gotham Racing 4 lets you just get into a fast car and drive almost immediately—car or motorcycle, that is. Of the 120 vehicles available to be selected, many are two-wheeled, giving the gameplay another dimension by adding stunts to the mix.  New vehicles aside, the core dynamics of the PGR series have remained the same in its fourth installment—it’s all about collecting so-called “kudos” (think PGR‘s own version of Xbox Live achievement points) to unlock new vehicles, paint jobs, etc., or racing your way to the top through the game’s extensive career mode.  It’s almost a shame that your car goes so fast, though, because you’ll be speeding by the game’s beautifully detailed urban landscapes in places like Shanghai and Quebec.  Minor quibbles with the gameplay aside, (motorcycles might be a bit too easy to race), it’s hard to find much fault with Project Gotham Racing 4 unless you prefer your games in the slow lane.


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Thursday, Dec 13, 2007

Taking an energetic if cynical approach to the holiday compilation, Yep Roc has assembled a collection of original “holiday-inspired” tunes from its stable of alt-country/indie rock artists. There’s only one carol, “God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen” in a growled, dirty rendition by Th’ Legendary Shack*Shakers. As for the rest—yeah, you could call it a holiday compilation for people who don’t like holiday music. From the funny, human response to loneliness at Christmas by Jason Brennan to the whiskey dreams of Minus 5, the emphasis is squarely on the outsider’s experience of the holiday season. “Lovely Christmas”, by Jason Ringenberg and Kristi Rose, doesn’t leave much to the imagination. Alternating between Rose’s peaceful acoustic phrasing, Ringenberg stresses out about credit cards and consumerism, eventually drowning out her innocence completely. The compilation manages, too, to accurately represent Yep Roc’s characteristic sound—richly rocking, often dirty, occasionally arresting. And despite all the cynicism, even Yep Roc can’t totally cut: Los Straightjackets’ “Holiday Twist” is indeed a lost Christmas classic, the kind of feel-good song that deserves to be accompanying Louis and Ella through department speakers.


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