Monthly Archives: September 2010

I was a really huge fan of Arrested Development and was incredibly upset when it was cancelled, but creator Mitch Hurwitz is back with a new series called Running Wilde on FOX, starring Will Arnett as a wealthy oil tycoon’s son named Steven Wilde. It’s a lighthearted comedy about how money can’t buy him the one thing he wants – tree-hugger Emmy Kadubic (played by Keri Russell). After spending a few years trying to save a tribe in the rainforest, alongside her activist fiance Andy (played by David Cross), and her daughter Puddle (Stefania Owen), Wilde’s father’s oil company poses a threat to the ecosystem, so Emmy takes her daughter to visit him to see if he can put an end to it and save the tribe. 
Upon viewing the first episode, the show doesn’t seem to draw as much hysterical laughter as it’s predecessor, but leaves a lot of room for growth. It’s written in the same vein as Arrested Development so if you weren’t a fan of that kind of humour, you might not find this show interesting. I found that the contrast between egotism and eco-activism is refreshing, since most other programs on television lately all centre around an increasingly materialistic world. The cast seems promising, and the use of Puddle’s voice as a perspective in narration is a nice touch – since she drives her mother to want to live in civilization again. 
I’m hoping for great things with this show. It’s still early, and it can only get better. With all the drivel that they’ve been touting on television lately, this is a welcome change. 
To view more about the show, click here

French artist Francoise Nielly is a widely-publicized photographer and illustrator, best known for her beautiful neon portraits. Her fantastic use of colour in her oil paintings is vibrant and electric, seeming to breathe life with bold, dynamic strokes. 

Check out more of her amazing portraits and photographs here

HBO’s new Sunday night blockbuster Boardwalk Empire is a dazzlingly beautiful recreation of the an unforgettable time in history. The characters, the clothing, the sights and sounds of the 20’s are perfectly captured and create the best atmosphere for a gripping, thought-provoking drama that will leave you breathless. It’s a world infused with political and romantic entanglements, crime wars and corruption. It’s got everything – action, romance, gangsters – even comedic moments. In short – it’s a television series that puts most other programming to shame and one that shouldn’t be missed. 

It’s set in Atlantic City, New Jersey during the Prohibition Era, and the pilot begins on the very day that Prohibition is declared. Filmed on a custom-built set in Greenpoint, Brooklyn, the story is based on the book Boardwalk Empire: The Birth, High Times, and Corruption of Atlantic City by New Jersey Judge Nelson Johnson. According to The Wall Street Journal, “HBO built a $5 million, 300-foot-long boardwalk on the waterfront to recreate Atlantic City circa 1920. The set required 150 tons of steel and includes historical elements like the Baby Incubator, an actual nursery where tourists could gawk at tiny, premature infants. The 12 episodes produced for the first season employed more than 300 crew members, 225 actors in speaking roles and 1,000 extras. It took about 200 days to shoot, twice what a standard network drama would take.” The series will go on to describe the events that led Atlantic City from being a simple seaside resort town, to the infamous gambling oasis. 

The best part about this series I think is the main character. Steve Buscemi is Enoch “Nucky” Thompson, Atlantic City political boss and racketeer, based off of the real character of Enoch Lewis “Nucky” Johnson (1883-1968), who’s rule reached it’s apex in Atlantic City during the Roaring Twenties when the city was notorious for being a temporary refuge from Prohibition. Johnson controlled the bootlegging operations, organized gambling, and prostitution in “The World’s Playground”, and most of his income came from these illegal exploits, making him a formidable fortune. Buscemi plays Thompson to a T, really capturing the spirit of the character, right down to the red carnation we wore daily in his lapel, lording over the City from his suite at The Ritz, the Robin Hood of the 20’s – revelling in opulence and scheming his way to the top, but still taking time to share with the people who surround him. His performance is striking, and unforgettable. 

Martin Scorsese, executive producer of the show, directed the pilot episode and established the look and feel of the show, so that other directors that followed could match it seamlessly. He continues to make casting decisions, and screens all of the dailies and edits. Scorsese will probably direct more episodes once the series continues with appropriate scheduling, but continues to be creatively involved. It’s already been picked up for a second season, since it scored the highest ratings for an HBO series since Deadwood, so we at least get another season of awesome Sunday-night watching after this one. Thank you HBO – this is gonna be one amazing box set once it’s finished – but let’s hope that doesn’t happen anytime soon. 

My hero of the day today is Nik Ainley, UK-based graphic design prodigy. His images evoke an eerie, surreal atmosphere, and almost appear to come to life before your eyes. 

He miraculously mastered the art of Photoshopping in his free time while working on a degree in Physics at Imperial College in London. Deciding that illustration and graphic manipulation was infinitely more enjoyable than devoting a lifetime to stuffy science, he dropped the physics classes and started creating images full time. 

Nik currently works for CIA (Central Illustration Agency) and has worked with a multitude of clients, as well as having his work featured in exhibitions, books, magazines, and various websites.

Check out his portfolio, you might recognize some of his stuff. 

Why use art supplies when you’ve got a bunch of food to play with? I remember my mom used to make food more interesting for us when we were kids by trying to be creative with it – the more fun we had with our food, the more likely we were to eat all of it. What a smart lady – if only she could have created masterpieces like these! 

Ahhh…I love the feeling I get when I crack the spine on a brand new Irvine Welsh novel. I know I’m going to have trouble putting it down from then on, right off the bat. Although some of his previous works seemed to have given the impression of slacking on intelligence, dragging his readers through a trench of nearly-listless debauchery, Crime has pulled Welsh back out of the mire, and back into a universe of vivid verbal technicolour. With this latest work, Welsh has discovered a new balance between good an evil, as opposed to sliding deeper into corruption, to create a surprisingly redemptive book that is as compelling as it is disturbing. 

Crime is about an Edinburgh cop named Ray Lennox, who finds himself on hiatus in Miami with his fiancee, attempting to tear himself away from his stressful job, and supposedly trying to take some time to plan his wedding. But he has trouble coming to terms with what he has left behind – an important case that involved a failure to capture a child rapist and murderer. So, as any other Welsh character is wont to do, he turns to booze, drugs and dirty nightclubs to reconcile his woes, causing a rift between himself and his fiancee and delving him into a dark world in which he has very little control. 

The plot unfolds on several levels – Ray keeps revisiting his failure to close the case at work, in the meantime, he encounters a couple of whorish women, one of whom has a young daughter that is being constantly sexually abused by a parade of her pedophiliac friends, who almost mirrors the image of the dead girl that consumes his conscience. But rather than let this one slip between the cracks, Ray ignores the concept of being outside of his jurisdiction, and transforms from antihero to true hero and helps the girl escape an inevitably-horrific fate, taking her with him across the state of Florida in search of a safe haven. At the same time, Ray is trying to reconcile his own torturous past, and understand how to let go, without letting the evildoers get away with it, as well as attempting to figure out who he is. He also has to make an effort to be involved in his own wedding, and appease his bridezilla, on top of it all. Travelling through the everglades, everything culminates into a rollercoaster ride of laughter, tears and anger, as the reader is pulled through a world of corruption and innocence, of deep-seeded evil and redemption. 

Welsh is one of the bravest writers of our time, finding the perfect choice of words to vividly describe the world in which you are plunged, and forcing you to face the beast that is humanity head-on. Who else but Welsh can write about sex, drugs, and pedophile rings and truly show us the wiring behind human actions? To rip apart the psyche and help us understand through soulful dissection what lies beneath the human condition? As I said before, it’s usually very difficult to put an Irvine Welsh book down – and Crime is no exception. It sucks you into the darkest of worlds and spits you back out, but it will never let you feel the same again. 

At the young age of 23, designer/illustrator Gianluca Fallone has been busily filling his portfolio with an incredible body of work, and has successfully landed commissions with big names like Nike, MTV, Daft Punk, and the Cartoon Network. He originally hails from Argentina but currently resides in London, and has primarily been inspired by Japanese cartoons and animation – no wonder everyone from all four corners of the earth are clamouring for his awesome electric designs. 

Check out more of his stuff here.

L.A.’s Jeff Nishinaka redefines the very idea of paper with his obsessively white bas relief sculptures. His images pop out at you in 3-D as if they were cast in plaster or carved out of stone. The whiteness of these pieces really emphasize the contrast between light and shadow, to appeal to his audience. 

Nishinaka’s works have been featured everywhere, from hotel gardens, private commissions, medical illustrations, fashion, fine art and even advertising for companies like Coca Cola, Visa, American Airlines, Toyota, Playboy, and Mattel. His art has also been used for catalogues for Les Galleries Lafayette in France, and Bloomingdales in the U.S.  Funnily enough, the biggest collector of his work worldwide, is his actor friend – Jackie Chan.

Check out more of his work here

Watching KISS in concert is everything one expects it to be: a pyrotechnic space-age extravaganza of epic proportions. Massive walls of LCD displays blaring a mixed barrage of live and retrospective visuals, towering flames, sparks shooting out of guitars, larger-than-life costumes. Then there are the required stage antics – tongue-wagging, flying over the crowd, being launched high into the air on raised platforms. There’s no lip syncing here – it’s a fucking kick-ass show. The Molson Amphitheatre was packed with people of all ages, families with kids dressed up and ready to rock – first generation KISS fans passing down the torch to their progeny. The KISS army lives on.

Only Simmons and Stanley remain of the original foursome, but they don’t look like they’re going to tire anytime soon. And why should they? They’ve selling out for decades, becoming one of the most popular bands worldwide, as well as having the widest variety of collectible paraphernalia worldwide – they might even be single-handedly responsible for eBay’s success. Their shock and awe theatrics is what made them their fortunes, and what drives the gravy train. So why is it surprising that they always book boring humdrum acts to precede them to contrast against their flash? And why should it be disappointing that their new album Sonic Boom is exclusively available at Wal-Mart and the audience was subjected to Stanley shamelessly plugging it throughout the show? They’re business men as well as artists – you don’t make an omelette this big without breaking a few eggs. Personally, I’m glad they made it this big and this far – they put on one of the most intense shows I’ve ever seen, and I thought I’d seen everything.

The bottom line is that The Hottest Show on Earth indeed lived up to it’s reputation, regardless of the sell-out tactics. They played a mix of old and new material, and a few poignant covers that had everyone rockin’ out all night. Aside from the bullshit security measures on the way in, and the expected exorbitant food, booze, and shwag prices, by the time KISS built up to a massive crescendo of light and sound, signifying an epic finale, the entire crowd was so caught up in the moment, forgiving them momentarily for their capitalistic sins, singing as one – “WE WANNA ROCK AN ROLL ALL NIGHT, AND PARTY EVERY DAY!” Yes indeed, the KISS army lives on.

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