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What mood is my stereo in today? April 10, 2010

Posted by Paula in Muzak, Webshite.
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Every time I’ve used the Shuffle setting on my iPod lately, every third song has either been a) awful or b) a track from the Leaving Cert French Oral CD that I stupidly added to my iTunes in sixth year. An iTunes library spring clean will commence shortly but until then, I will be letting Stereomood choose my songs for me.

Stereomood is a free online radio site with hundreds of playlists, categorised by emotions and activities.  The playlist titles range from broad categories like ‘Optimistic’, ‘Sexy’  and ‘Melancholy’, to more specific ones like ‘Traffic Jam’, ‘Dinner With Friends’, ‘Driving Route 66’, ‘Foreplay’, and even ‘Feel Like Crying’. Hopefully you won’t be needing those last two playlists in quick succession, but  you never know.

The playlists are regularly updated (the songs are  taken from a large list of music blogs and tagged by mood), so that today’s ‘It’s Raining’ songs won’t be the same as tomorrow’s. The list of blogs checked is much smaller than on Hype Machine or similar, meaning some songs do crop up on more than one playlist (Sade seems to feature a bit more than is normal), but it’s still a great way of finding something new to listen to.

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Through the Looking Glass March 2, 2010

Posted by Paula in Cinematics, Lit.
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Make and Deux were lucky enough to get preview tickets to Tim Burton’s Alice in Wonderland in 3D last week. Sadly, Patrick arrived too late to actually attend the screening, and was left stranded and extremely hungover on O’Connell St. But that is another story. I was there and lived to tell the tale. And what a tale it is.

Even before we reach Wonderland (or Underland, which we learn is the correct name for the land that lies down the rabbit hole), Burton indulges his delight in all things skewed and technicolor, and creates a whole host of mad and maddening friends, neighbours and relations. Alice (Mia Wasikowska) has aged 13 years since her first trip to Wonderland, and is now in danger of being married off to a snooty Lord of the Manor with a “delicate digestive system”. That is, of course, before she starts to chase after a certain white rabbit at her own engagement party.

The completely satirical version of a stiff-upper-lip English society in which Alice lives probably the closest Burton gets to staying faithful to Lewis Carroll’s original book and the inspriration behind it. The entire Wonderland story has been completely revamped, Burton-ised and loaded with CGI.

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Fairtrade Freebies February 23, 2010

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An old manager of mine, in one of the many part-time jobs I’ve had in this lifetime, claimed that reggae music increased customers’ desire to purchase. She piped it out constantly over the shop’s speakers. Since then, I’ve had an aversion to any kind of…shall we say…afro-beats.

Cadbury’s Big Swap Songs album, released as part of their 2010 Fairtrade campaign, is a collection of covers by Ghanian group The Big Ghana Band. And it’s definitely grown on me.

Paolo Nutini collaborated with The Big Ghana Band for the album’s opening song, a reggae’d up version of his new single, A Pencil Full of Lead. I think I like it better than the original. The album also features covers (some dodgy, but most quite good) of Girls Aloud, Goldfrapp and Elbow to name but a few. Big Swap Songs is available for download on the Cadbury’s site. It’s free (and legal…), so why wouldn’t you?

HBO Killed the Radio Star? February 22, 2010

Posted by Paula in Televisual.
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A new animated series, inspired by The Ricky Gervais Show podcasts, will air on Channel 4 this April. ‘Inspired’ is perhaps the wrong word though. The series, which has already aired on US cable channel HBO is, quite literally, an animated version of the original podcasts.

Ricky Gervais, Steve Merchant and Karl Pilkington sit in a studio chatting. Only this time, we get to see them chatting. Or, a Hanna Barbara-style animated version of them chatting. There’s no doubt that the audio content itself is incredibly entertaining, but if you’ve listened to the audiobooks (and you still can via iTunes), are you getting anything extra from seeing it in cartoon format? It seems like a group of HBO execs sat down and said “God, these guys are funny. Pity we don’t have a radio station. Pity we can’t get the three of them in here to say it all again on camera. If only there was any way we could make this into a telvision sh- oh wait…”

Apparently it takes 17 animators to make each episode of the show. Is it really worth it? Decide for yourself on April 23, or watch the clips below and after the jump…

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The Little Multi-National Corporation That Could February 22, 2010

Posted by Paula in Cinematics.
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The Lion King, The Little Mermaid, Aladdin, Who Framed Roger Rabbit, Beauty and the Beast… I’m going to go out on a limb here and say that anyone reading this who is under the age of 30 owned at least one of these on video (and still does, even if they don’t own an actual VHS player anymore). Disney’s streak of classics from 1988 onwards defined the childhoods of millions.

But what came before 1988? Well, not very much really. There was a huge lull in the number of Disney animations released post-The Rescuers (1977) and pre-Roger Rabbit (1988). And unless you are an extremely dedicated Disney fan, you would be forgiven for not remembering such live-action classics as The Cat From Outer Space (1978) and The Journey of Natty Gan (1985).

Waking Sleeping Beauty is the story of Disney’s efforts to drag itself out of the doldrums, and of the stellar work done by animators like John Lasseter and Tim Burton from the mid-1980s onwards. The documentary is currently doing the festival circuit in the US, and begins its limited theatrical release on March 26. Fingers crossed it makes it to this side of the Atlantic.

Back In Business February 4, 2010

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Mark Ronson will collaborate with Scissor Sisters, Santigold and Miike Snow among others on his new album In Business. Speaking to NME, Ronson promised that the album, released this summer, will all be original work.

There’s no covers, and no horns. It’s written with some of the people that actually wrote the songs I covered on the last album and that I didn’t actually even know at the time. It’s quite interesting to write songs from scratch with those people.

Given that Ronson’s 2007 album Version was an album of covers, it’ll be interesting to see how this new effort pans out. Other collaborators will include Nick Hodgson of Kaiser Chiefs and US rapper Pill. But I’ve saved the best for last. Ronson will also work with 90s pop/dance artist Cathy Dennis. Dennis was responsible for such masterpieces as Just Another Dream and Touch Me (All Night Long). She also wrote Kylie Minogue’s Can’t Get You Outta My Head, and has co-written songs for various American Idol winners. Let’s see what she comes up with for Ronson.

Five Girls, One Musical February 3, 2010

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Plans for a Spice Girls musical were finally confirmed last week. The musical’s working title is Viva Forever, and will hit the West End sometime in the next two years. The Spice Girls are said to be “very excited” about the plans. Who wouldn’t be?

The word on the street is that Geri Halliwell will co-produce the project, but that has yet be confirmed. Fingers crossed. For now though, Mamma Mia! creator, Judy Craymer will be at the musical’s helm, in partnership with former Spice Girls manager Simon Fuller.

Whether the musical will be about the Spice Girls’ rise to stardom, or whether it will follow a Mamma Mia!-esque structure, which just uses the band’s music, remains to be seen. I’m hoping for the former.

Getting the job done… January 17, 2010

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It can be difficult when a friend gets into a new relationship. Maybe you don’t see them as much, maybe you’re horribly jealous of their newfound happiness, or maybe you miss being the one they tell everything to. Well, with a touch-sensitive pad linked to a Twitter feed, there would be no need to feel out of the loop. You could truly be a fly on the wall in your mate’s relationship. One man has done just that- and yes, it is as over-intrusive and freaky as it sounds.

‘Anon Bestman’ is responsible for newlywedsontjob, a Twitter feed he’s set up to record each and every time his newlywed pals hop into their marital bed to get, well, on t’job.He says his mate “stiched me up something rotten when I was his best man” and that this is his revenge. Well, Anon, I doubt your pal broadcast your sexual relations to the world though, did he?

Either it’s an elaborate hoax or it’s an elaborately put-together system, but either way, followers of newlywedsontjob can track all the details of this unsuspecting couple’s alone time. The duration of each romp is noted, and the ‘frenzy’ of each session is rated from 1 to 10. The lowest the couple have reached so far is 2, and they’re only back from their honeymoon three weeks. Oo-er…

Art in 140 characters or less January 15, 2010

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US artist/illustrator Odessa Begay has taken the common tweet and turned it into something altogether more decorative. Begay’s blog, Museum of Modern Tweets, is a collection of illustrations, each representing a celebrity tweet.

My favourite work of TwitArt is based on John Mayer’s Dec 30th “Christmas on December 25th is merely a suggestion” tweet, but click through to see some others. The collection is relatively small, but Begay promises that she will update at least once a week “unless my hands fall off”.

This ban too shall pass January 14, 2010

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The video for Ok Go‘s new tune, This Too Shall Pass,  popped up on YouTube a few days ago. Sadly, Capitol Records played a nasty trick on everyone by disabling embedding of the video in all regions. Given that Ok Go‘s videos are generally a sight to behold, and that this video is no different, people were a little upset that they couldn’t share it.

The video is now available to watch on Vimeo. Or right here. Hurray! It features a 200-strong marching band, and reminds me of that church scene in Love Actually where band members pop out from everywhere. Except Ok Go‘s effort has more exciting music, and grass monsters too.