Thursday, February 25, 2010

Come On Come On and Join the Band!

Colonizing the Cosmos combines folk and space-rock
Thursday, February 25, 2010

It's a good rule of thumb that when you name your band something like Colonizing the Cosmos, you're obligated to come up with something, well, cosmic.

Fortunately, this Pittsburgh band delivers by taking the endearing folk-pop of Paul Simon, adding the chamber-y Sufjan Stevens treatment and topping with a splash of Flaming Lips space-rock weirdness, all now captured on the band's debut, "The First Frontier."

The core of Colonizing the Cosmos is singer-guitarist Josh Moyer and Michael Savisky, who adds banjo, guitar, ukelele, cello and dulcimer. They met at a church and started playing coffee shops and clubs early last decade, and then prepared for their album debut by trading melody and lyric ideas on their phones and laptops.

The first songs had titles such as "If I Had a Spacecraft" and "The Saturnine Starfarer's Society," with arrangements full of spacey reverb and electronic accents contrasted with Mr. Moyer's sweet folk style.

Colonizing the Cosmos

Where: Pittsburgh Center for the Arts, Shadyside.

When: 7:30 p.m. Friday.

Admission: Free.

"Each track was approached differently," Mr. Moyer says. "Sometimes an interesting vocal phrase or a line of lyric became the backbone for an entire song. Other times a title alone inspired a bit of melody, or a bit of melody inspired a page full of lyrics. From a technical standpoint, we used a Mac, the GarageBand program, a few $100 mics and a third floor bedroom."

In terms of the concept, they wanted to explore space while avoiding sci-fi cliches and keeping it on a human level.

"We wanted to explore the way enormous, universal ideas relate to the individual," he says. "For instance, 'space' is often thought of as this vast expanse light years away -- but, isn't it also right here, right now, where we are sitting drinking coffee and typing on our MacBook? We also wanted to explore the concept of exploration itself. Why do we put so much thought, time and effort into going to the moon? For that matter, why do we put so much thought, time and effort into going to the mall? And how do our efforts in these areas affect us, and for that matter the rest of universe? We found both the micro- and macroscopic concepts equally fascinating, and tried to work them all into the music."

They drew on influences that came most naturally.

"I have been a fan of Paul Simon as long as I can remember," Mr. Savisky says. "What originally drew me to him was the way in which he combined folky American guitar music with soulful, rhythmic South African music. I had never heard anything like it, and it made me really think about genre for the first time and how artists often become pigeonholed in it. I didn't want to get stuck that way, and I think Colonizing the Cosmos became a perfect platform for mixing all kinds of instruments and genres -- something we hadn't been able to do with other bands we'd been a part of."

Their influences, though, went well beyond just one or two artists. Plus, they have enlisted Josh Gates (keyboards, electric guitar, backing vocals), Brian Powers (trumpet), Alex Peck (drums) and Tony DePaolis (bass) to round out the band and bring their own touches.

"During album production we listened to a lot of random stuff: Celtic music, film scores, German pop, instrumental jazz -- not exactly what it ended up sounding like. But that's our favorite part of writing new music: taking bits and pieces of all of this and combining it in a new, exciting way. And because Josh and I worked so closely on this album, his completely different set of influences came into the mix, and the result is just a whole lot of crazy fun."

Scott Mervis:; 412-263-2576.

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Wednesday, February 24, 2010

LOST: The Light House (6x5)

The Lighthouse had me laughing at pop culture references and thinking deeply about the aches of the human heart.

Pop Goes the Forest Gump-ish Hurley

In true Forest Gump fashion, Hurley continues to carry the pop culture flag for Generation X (Thanks Chip Webb for pointing this out a while back).

In The Lighthouse, we get AWESOME pop culture references like, "I'm just, you know, looking because I'm a big fan of Temples and, like, history and Indiana Jones stuff."

And, "He's kind of dead. He turns up whenever he wants like Obi-Wan Kenobi."

Also very funny was Dogen saying to Hurley in Japanese, "You're lucky that I have to protect you. Otherwise I'd have cut your head off."

And then Hurley saying, "I just lied to a samurai."

Brilliant from a geek perspective and one of the things that makes LOST so great.

You Have What it Takes: Resolving Daddy Issues?

In "The Lighthouse" the LOST writers are using Lewis Carrol and his Alice in Wonderland's through the looking glass to point to Jack, Christian, and David Shepherd's desire to resolve "Daddy Issues." The Alice metaphors seem to be used to point to our need for having our questions about our worth answered.

Notice that the Lighthouse (where we literally get to see through the looking glass) is closely connected to the "White Rabbit" episode of Season One where Jack has a flashbacks to the time he stood up to a bully and then went home only to have his father tell him that he does not have what it takes.

This episode, I thought, centered around Jack reconciling, "What was broken." What is it? Well, clearly it is the vow that his father has passed on to him that his does not have what it takes. This issue has been haunting Jack his whole life as we saw in "The White Rabbit" when Christian Shepherd says to young Jack, "And even when I fail, how do I do that, Jack? Because I have what it takes. Don't choose, Jack, don't decide. You don't want to be a hero, you don't try and save everyone because when you fail … you just don't have what it takes."

However, in the flash sideways of "The Lighthouse" he breaks the family curse that his father passed on to him by refusing to pass this onto his son, David.

Note the biblical reference to David Shepherd who might now compare to King David who was anointed by God and described as a man after God's own heart. "The Lord is my shepherd, I shall not be in want..."

Says Jack in this very exquisite piece of television, "Jack shakes his head and sighs. "You know, when I was your age, my father didn't want to see me fail either. He used to say that I didn't have what it takes. I spent my whole life carrying that around with me. I don't ever want you to feel that way. I will always love you. No matter what you do, in my eyes you can never fail. I just want to be a part of your life."

In this Episode, Jack tells his son what he wanted to hear from his father. This is what brings Jack back to the Island and it is what Jack is looking for at the Lighthouse when he sees his childhood home (folks may see whatever they are most longing for both in the looking glass and in the island).

As a benevolent Spirit guide (demigod) Jacob sees that Jack needs to answer this question and he acts as guardian-surrogate daddy to help him get his question answered. Says Hurley to Jack earlier at the temple, "I told him you'd say that, so he told me to tell you, 'You have what it takes."

In The Lighthouse, I really think the writers did a great job of looking back into the shows own past and tying things together in a very powerful way.

In the flash sideways world, Jack Shepherd has answered his question by answering his son's question. Beautiful.

On the Island, Jack Shepherd still needs to find out, "Do I have what it takes?" When he answers this, and I believe that by the season finale, he will, Jack will have found the freedom that he is looking for.

Tuesday, February 23, 2010

Lost's The Moth- Suffering and Choices

Lost is Epic Television. In honor of the final season, I have been working on highlighting some of the seminal themes and characters that have emerged over the past six seasons. The first of these highlights is a remix of Season One Episode Seven, "The Moth" In this episode, we see some of Lost' core themes developed through Charlie who must choose between remaining weak, addicted and comfortable or strong, free and one who undergoes suffering in life. Enjoy.

Tuesday, February 09, 2010

2010 Super Bowl Commercials

Some years are better than others. This year, godaddy made us feel uncomfortable around our moms, a lot of companies used creepiness to get our attention, and a few surprised us ny being able to tell compelling stories that capture our lives in a minute or less. Here is a quick reformedanglican look at this year’s super bowl best and worst commercials.


1. Most Classy
This is Google’s first TV ad and it was great- elegant, romantic, and it told a wonderful story.

Google: Parisian Love

2. Most Funny
Just really good comedy delivered in a way that did not violate us or creep us out like so many of the other ads did this year.

Snickers: Betty White

3. Most Surreal
Funk music and some stuffed animals fuel the imaginantion on a road trip to Vegas… or the grocery store.

Kia: Joy Ride

4. Most Heroic
Subtle and bold with zero yuck factor. Take that planned parenthood!

Focus on the Family: Tim Tebow

5. Most Psychologically Effective
An ad that just sold you confidence in under a minute., 'Timothy Richman

6. The Most Cinematic
Just beautiful.

Coca-Cola: Sleepwalker

7. Most Politically Incorrect
I laughed hard.

MetroPCS: The Shaming

8. Most Underdog-est
A little creepy and lacking in plausibility (the dog has no thumbs) but still very clever.

Doritos: Underdog

9. The Most Forrest Gumpish
You got to love The Who and you gotta love a good review of the past 40 years or so.

Flo Tv Moments

10. The Most Revenge of the Nerdiest
Icky that Teleflora can’t just make us feel happy about the beauty of flowers but the story line was pretty excellent.

Teleflora: Talking Flowers


The Second Most Funny
You just gotta laugh.

KGB: Sumo

Most Stick It to the Manish
Ok so it is yet another commercial that has a creepy feel to it. But, it really did tell a good story about the work place. Casual Friday


1. Most Idiotic
Worse than a bad talent show. It cost them millions.

Mobile Boost: Shuffle

2. Most Exploitative
When did it become ok to exploit kids to make a point. This is just not right.

Doritos: House Rules

3. Most 1984ish
IWe have come a long way to help people to love God’s creation. This took us back 100 years. Absolutely creepy.

Audi: Green Police

4. The Most Misogynistic
Not helpful to real men and not helpful to any women.

Flow TV: Injury Report

5. The Second Most Exploitative
He was cute at first with his double entendre. It is not funny now.

E*Trade: Girlfriend

6. Most Creepy
Weird and creepy and…

Emerald Nuts and Pop-Secret: Awesomer

7. Most Huh?
“Huh?” Agian I say, “Huh?” Beaver

8. The Most “This is Our Gov’t?”
Irony works for twenty somethings but it does not work for the government

US Census: Sanpshot of America

10. The Most Pittsburghesque
You gotta love the Steelers and you gotta love the Burgh. But that little Polamalu is going to give my kids nightmares.

truTV,: Troy Punxsutawney Polamalu


The Most Beer Commercial Like
I like the narrative and I like the feel of the commercial- but they were talking about soap gentleman, soap.

Dove: The Journey to Comfort

The Most Testosterone Filled
I would never be caught dead driving a Prius but I would also never want to associate my car with having to “put up with my wife.” Real men know how to love their wives.

Charger: Man’s Last Stand

If you would like to see all the commercials for the 2010 Super Bowl, Time has done a great job of presenting the commercials for this year’s game. They are presented in the order shown with a pretty well written review of each.

Acura, 'Exclamation'
Alice in Wonderland
Audi, 'Green Car'
Boost Mobile, 'The Boost Mobile Shuffle'
Bridgestone, 'Whale of a Tale'
Bridgestone, 'Your Tires or Your Life'
Bud Light, 'Asteroid'
Bud Light, 'Bud House'
Bud Light, 'Book Club'
Bud Light, 'Stranded'
Bud Light, 'Voice Box'
Budweiser Select 55, 'Ice Bottle'
Budweiser, 'Bridge'
Budweiser, 'Fences', 'Casual Friday', 'Timothy Richman'
Coca-Cola, 'Hard Times'
Coca-Cola, 'Sleepwalker'
Denny's, 'Chicken Birthday'
Denny's, 'Chicken Warning'
Denny's, 'Chickens Across America'
Dockers, 'Men Without Pants'
Dodge Charger, 'Man's Last Stand'
Doritos, 'Casket'
Doritos, 'House Rules'
Doritos, 'Snack Attack Samurai'
Doritos, 'Underdog'
Dove for Men, 'The Journey to Comfort'
Dr Pepper Cherry, 'Dr Love — Little Kiss'
E*Trade, 'Girlfriend'
E*Trade, 'Tears'
EA Sports, Dante's Inferno
Emerald Nuts and Pop-Secret, 'Awesomer'
FLO TV, 'Injury Report'
FLO TV, 'Moments'
Focus on the Family, 'Celebrate Life, Celebrate Family'
GoDaddy, 'News'
GoDaddy, 'Spa'
Google, 'Parisian Love'
HomeAway, 'Hotel Hell Vacation'
Honda, 'Accord Crosstour 2010'
Hyundai, '10 Years Strong' Featuring Brett Favre
Hyundai, 'Built by Hand'
Hyundai, 'Painted Hyundai Sonata'
Intel, 'Lunch Room'
kgb, 'Sumo'
Kia, 'Joy Ride'
Late Show with David Letterman
MetroPCS, 'Tech and Talk: Shaming'
Michelob Ultra, 'Little Bumps', 'Fiddling Beaver'
Motorola Featuring Megan Fox
NFL, 'Best Fans on the Planet'
Papa John's, 'Better Pizza'
Prince of Persia
Robin Hood
Shutter Island
Skechers, 'Shape Ups'
Snickers, 'Game'
Taco Bell, 'It Rocks, It Rocks' Featuring Charles Barkley
Teleflora, 'Talking Flowers'
truTV, 'Troy "Punxsutawney" Polamalu'
U.S. Census, 'Snapshot of America'
Universal Studios, 'The Wizarding World of Harry Potter'
Vizio, 'Forge'
Volkswagen, 'Punching Game'

Wednesday, February 03, 2010

LOST: We’ll Need Answers- at Least 50 Answers

After six years, a number of questions have remained unanswered for us hardcore LOST fans. With only 18 hours to do it, the LOST writers will have to answer a lot of unresolved questions. Even though the Season Six Premiere only gave us a few answers- namely, who the "smoke monster" is- we still have a lot of questions and an alternate "scooby doo" ending that we have to track while we see things come to a close.

So, here are the 50 questions, among a ton that are swirling around in many fans minds, that I want answered by the end of the season. I have broken them into a Trinity of Good Vs. Evil (to cover the Epic battle that has taken place between the camps of Ben and Charles, the others and the 815 survivors, Jacob and Esau), Man of Faith and Man of Science (to cover the exploration of the supernatural and the technological that plays out each week), and Mythology (to unearth the Myst-like role of the Island and its folklore that leave us begging for an eteology around every temple).

Good Vs Evil
1. Who are Jacob and Esau (man in black)?
2. What is the essential struggle between Jacob and Esau?
3. Who is working for who (Jacob, Esau, the Island- Charles Whitmore, Ben, Richard, Eloise Hawking)?
4. How is Esau able to take on Locke's physical likeness (or others)?
5. What's Richard's real connection to Jacob, Esau and the Island at large?
6. Why did Esau have to convince Benjamin Linus to kill Jacob — why couldn't he do it himself or another way?
7. What is the significance of using ashes (at the cabin around the temple, around people) to protect against Esau (Smoke Monster)?
8. Why did Jacob visit and touch Jack Shephard, Kate Austen and several other of Oceanic Flight 815's survivors?
9. Did Jacob really create lists for the Others, and if so, how did he choose which people to include on his lists?
10. Why does Esau (the Monster) condemn some folks while apparently sparing others — what are his standards for who lives and who dies?
11. When Eloise Hawking told Desmond that the Island wasn't done with him, what did she mean — what role is there left for Des to fulfill?
12. What drove Eloise Hawking and Charles Widmore apart?
13. How did Charles Widmore, who lived on the Island his entire life, become so rich after his banishment as the leader of the Others?
14. What is the nature of Widmore's feud with Ben and how will it resolve itself?
15. What happened to Annie, Ben's childhood sweetheart?
16. How did Ben become the leader of the Others?
17. What is Christian Shephard’s connection to the Island?
18. Why did Christian take Claire to Jacob's cabin?
19. Where is Claire and what is her story?

Mythology (Myst)
1. What is the Island?
2. What is the temple’s origin?
3. Who are the Adam and Eve skeleton discovered in the cave in season one?
4. Why is the Island filled with hieroglyphics and other Egyptian influences?
5. Is there any functionality and significance behind the four toed statue, other than the fact that it's extremely bizarre?
6. What happened to the missing portion of the four toed statue?
7. How did the Black Rock wind up in the middle of the Island?
8. What is the origin and significance of the cabin?
9. What is the mysterious "sickness" that we've heard about?
10. How long have the Others existed on the Island?
11. How did the DHARMA Initiative find the Island?
12. What is the connection between the Hanso Foundation and the DHARMA Initiative’s work on the Island?

Man of Faith Vs Man of Science
1. To what is "the magic box" metaphor really referring, or how does the island manifest supernatural occurrences like the appearance of Locke’s father or miraculous healings?
2. How is the Island able to heal wounds and ailments?
3. How was Locke able to recover from paralysis?
4. Why did the Island refuse to heal Ben's cancer?
5. Why can't women give birth on the Island?
6. How is the Island able to travel through time and space?
7. How does Eloise know so much about time travel and the rest of the Island's oddities?
8. What is the significance of the numbers?
9. How is Jacob eternally young?
10. How can Hurley communicate with the dead?
11. How can Miles speak with the dead?
12. Why do certain characters have visions, like Mr. Eko's vision of his brother and Ana Lucia? 13. How about Richard Alpert — how is he eternally young?
14. How did the frozen donkey wheel arrive on the Island and how can it move the Island through time?
15. How is Jacob able to travel on and off the Island?
16. Why can't the Monster-Esau travel through the sonic fence?
17. Why was the fortune teller so emphatic about Claire raising Aaron all by herself?
18. How is Walt able to do the special things he does, like animal communication and telepathy?
19. Why was Michael unable to kill himself after he left the Island?