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Sunday, December 28, 2014

My Favorite Albums of 2014

Well we have reached the end of another year. So that means it is time for me to write about the 10 albums that best represent for me the year 2014. 2014 was a pretty fantastic year for music. I will always remember it as the year I discovered what is now one of my favorite artists of all time. So let's jump right into the list.

1. St. Vincent: St. Vincent
I will always remember 2014 as the year I discovered St. Vincent. Her self-titled 4th album is without a doubt one of the best front to back albums I have ever heard. The musicianship on the album captures your ears and does not let go, but its her lyrics that are the most interesting. On this album Annie Clark (St. Vincent) discusses life in the digital age, and how it can affect one's life. It's pretty standard now to say that technology is good for us, but Clark is brave enough to ask is it really? Seeing her live during the first part of December has cemented her standing with me as the David Bowie of this generation. If you are to buy any album of 2014, buy this one. You will not be disappointed.



2. The New Basement Tapes: Lost on the River
In 1967 after his motorcycle accident, Bob Dylan wrote and recorded a group of songs that has now been dubbed "The Basement Tapes".  Not all of the songs written were recorded. Until now. Earlier in 2014 T Tony Burnett got an all-star group of musicians together to record a group of songs that Dylan didn't record. The result is "The New Basement Tapes: Lost on the River. Let me tell you, this album is beyond amazing. The group of Elvis Costello, Marcus Mumford, Jim James, Taylor Goldsmith, and Rhiannon Giddens put forth a collection of songs that will stand the test of time. Each song is unique, and gives the Dylan novice (which I am) a brand new appreciation towards the genius that is Bob Dylan.



3. Beck Morning Phase
It had been six long years since Beck had released his last album Modern Guilt.  But it was worth the wait. Beck crafted an album that is like a sequel to his outstanding album from 2002  Sea Change. Now more mature, Beck is looking back and almost answers the questions he asked on Sea Change. Yet Beck continues to be Beck and he still finds a way to reinvent himself on this album. It is true that it is a "slower" album. But I find that sometimes in life it is a good thing to slow things down, and this album is an example that slow/quieter music can still be the most impactful. One of my new year's resolutions for 2015 is to listen to Sea Change and Morning Phase back to back.



4. Manchester Orchestra: Cope/Hope
Manchester Orchestra did something very interesting this past year. They released Cope in April 2014 and then released Hope in September 2014. Cope and Hope both contain the same songs, only on Hope the songs are performed acoustically. So it's like a double album, but not a double album. In fact the band is calling Hope the "companion piece" to Cope. All I know is that both albums are absolutely fantastic with a great selection of songs. I must admit that I do like Hope more than Cope. These songs are HAUNTING when performed acoustically. It's always great to see a great band do something different.



5. Coldplay: Ghost Stories
This is a sad album. Period. End of story. Chris Martin's marriage dissolved, and this is the quote on quote "break up"album. However Coldplay does something that I feel very few bands are able to do well. You feel every emotion, every heartbreak that Martin is feeling. Yet the album ends on an upbeat note with A Sky Full of Stars, and you feel the upbeat note as well. Listening to this album reminded me of Coldplay's debut album from 2000 Parachutes. Rumor has it that Coldplay is currently recording their final album. If this is true, it will be a great companion piece to Ghost Stories.

 

6. Minus the Bear: Lost Loves
Minus the Bear continues to amaze me. They've been around for well over 15 YEARS!!! I feel like they should be way bigger than they are, and their latest album Lost Loves proves that. This album is indie rock at its finest, yet it still maintains that "Minus the Bear" sound. The quick changing beats. The sound of the guitars. Everything is so Minus the Bear, and that is what make this record so wonderful. If you are looking to get into Minus the Bear, this is a great beginners album.

 

7. The Belle Brigade: Just Because
If you are looking for great California pop music, look no further than the Belle Brigade. The brother sister duo of Ethan and Barbara nail that Beach Boy sound and fuse it with indie rock to create this perfect pop sound. You cannot listen to this band, and not smile the whole time. I dare you...try it.  

 

8. Karen O: Crush Songs
This is a very interesting album. Pretty much every song on this album is 2 minutes or less. The longest song is about 4 minutes long. Yet Karen O packs in more emotion and energy in these tracks than most other artists. I had to listen to this album a few times, but once it clicks it clicks. In fact this album very much reminds me of the Yeah Yeah Yeahs debut album.



9. TV on the Radio: Seeds
I am the first to admit it. I'm not the biggest TV on the Radio fan. Don't get me wrong, I understand why people love them. They just never grabbed me. Until this album. Seeds is the first album without bassist Gerard Smith, and it is a touching tribute to him. This album honors the musical legacy of Smith. But there is a beautiful touch of humanity as the band not only celebrates Smith's musical legacy, but also his friendship.



10. Primus: Primus and the Chocolate Factory with the Fugi Ensemble
This is a weird album. Even by Primus' standards. A Willa Wonka tribute album. But that's what makes it so great. Only Primus could pay tribute to some of the most fantastical children's movies of all time. I love this album for the shear fact that it exists. So great and so out there!!!

Monday, December 22, 2014

Favorite Albums of 2014

With the end of the early vastly approaching it is time to assembly my favorite albums of 2014 listing. I already know that complying this list is going to be difficult for me, since there was so many great releases in 2014. However I can pretty much guarantee the following:

1. St. Vincent will be on the list

2. The New Basement Tapes will be on the list

3. Opera will not be on the list.

Sunday, December 14, 2014

An Early Birthday Present


My sister and brother-in-law got me Ecto-1 for my birthday. Putting it together was a ton of fun. Of course I watched the Real Ghostbusters as I put Ecto-1 together.











Thursday, December 4, 2014

St. Vincent at the Chicago Theater.

Photo Credit: Me
Tuesday December 2nd, 2014 will be an important date for me musically. It's the date I saw St. Vincent for the first time. She was performing there as a part of WXRT's Holiday Bash. For the past seven years my musically advanced friend Gina has been telling me to check St. Vincent out. With great shame, I must admit that I did not heed her advice until earlier this year when St. Vincent's self-titled fourth album was released.

It was like an epiphany. Listening to that album for the first time was like hearing Arcade Fire, William Elliott Whitmore, or the Beatles for the first time. I was hooked, and vowed that I would see her live. So naturally I was incredibly excited back in October when this show was announced.

I'm still in the middle of processing her performance, but here is what I've concluded thus far.

1. St. Vincent is this generation's David Bowie. She is an artist in ever sense of the word, but you don't have to explain that. She just is. In fact after seeing her performance, there is little doubt in my mind that she will be added to the list of important artists.

2. Absolutely amazing live performance. During her hour and forty-five minute set, St. Vincent absolutely captivated her audience. From her two monologues on life, to running into the crowd, jumping on a gentleman's shoulders to finish a guitar solo, to her dance moves, your eyes never faltered from her. Add to all this activity she sounded impeccable.

3. Her catalog is much deeper than I originally imagined, and I cannot wait to discover all of the hidden treasures of her music that lie in front of me.

But one item really stands out. Before St. Vincent began her performance, there was an announcement asking the audience to refrain from taking pictures of the performance, and instead enjoy the moment. In a society that prides itself on our digital presence and the amount of "likes" or "followers" we can get, it was really refreshing to forget all of that and just enjoy the performance that was in front of us.

I for one will not forget it.

Wednesday, November 26, 2014

A Do It Yourself Music Video

When I was little, I would always go to the library and pick up one of those "chose your own adventure books". I always enjoyed picking the wrong adventure, and then going back to the folk in the road and choosing the other option.

Well, Coldplay has just previewed a brand new interactive music video much in the same vain as the old chose your own adventure books. Below is a small preview.

Monday, November 17, 2014

John Lennon Mix CD

I recently did an experiment. For year's I've loved John Lennon's Double Fantasy and Milk & Honey LPs. Both albums are terrific examples of Lennon being at peace and happy with his life. (Which make these albums even more tragic.)

But I'll be the first to admit that I'm not a fan of Yoko Ono's singing/songs on these albums, and often found myself skipping her tracks. Sorry John :( So I finally decided to make a mix CD of just Lennon's songs from these two albums. And let me tell you the results are terrific!!!

I call the mix CD "A Double Fantasy of Milk & Honey", and below is the track-listing. As I'm listening to it, I found myself noticing things that I never noticed before. For example Grow Old with Me and My Little Flower Princess are two grossly underrated songs. Especially Grow Old with Me. There's a gentleness to the song that is captivating.

I highly recommend any music fan go out and re-discover this great music. It's classic, yet modern all at the same time.

1. (Just Like) Starting Over
2. Cleanup Time
3. Nobody Told Me
4. I'm Losing You
5. Dear Yoko
6. Beautiful Boy (Darling Boy)
7. Watching the Wheels
8. I Don't Want to Face It
9. Borrowed Time
10. My Little Flower Princess
11. I'm Stepping Out
12. Woman
13. Grow Old with Me


Monday, November 10, 2014

Absolutley Amazing Pictures

NASA, ESA, ESO

NASA, ESA, ESO
I was on Tumblr today, and I came across these pictures of the Veil Nebula. Words cannot express how exquisite these photographs are. Here's the link to the rest of the images here.

Monday, November 3, 2014

Radiotopia

www.radiotopia.fm
For the last two years, I have been a fan of the Public Radio Exchange, also known as PRX. (www.prx.org.) Essentially PRX is like a syndication network for radio programs and podcasts. On PRX broadcasters allows other radio station to purchase the broadcasting rights to their programs.

One of the main contributors to PRX is a brilliant broadcaster/podcaster named Roman Mars. His podcast 99% Invisible is without a doubt one of the best podcasts I've heard in the last year. The twist and turns of Mars' storytelling always keeps me on the edge of my seat while I listen to them. It's phenomenal.

A few weeks ago, Mars announced a Kickstarter for a new project of his called Radiotopia. It's described on Kickstarter as "[A] kind of Justice League for smart documentarians and sound artists." which is really cool.

I love the energy and excited that is project is creating for radio and podcasting. It's refreshing to know that it is still a viable medium, and that "radio" can be so good, that people will spend their hard earned money supporting it. This could be the start of something big.

Saturday, November 1, 2014

Phase 3 of the Marvel Cinematic Universe

hdwallpapers.in 
A couple of days after I wrote about the upcoming DC cinematic universe, Marvel announce phase 3 of the universe. Holy crap!!! It is stacked. They are:

Captain America Civil War
Guardians of the Galaxy 2
Thor: Ragnarok
Captain Marvel
Black Panther
Doctor Strange
Inhumans

And the big ones Avengers: The Infinity War Parts 1 & 2. Now as I admitted before, I'm more of a DC fan, however I am really excited for this slate of films. Civil War is one of the best comic book stories I've ever read, and I just finished The Infinity Gauntlet which is a ton of fun. My biggest question is where does Marvel go after this? Does Avengers: The Infinity War Parts 1 & 2 mean the end is coming?

For us comic book fans, the next 5 years will have us see almost 20 superhero/comic book movies. Hopefully the momentum and quality of these films continue.

Wednesday, October 22, 2014

A Golden Age of Superhero TV/Movies

IGN.com
If you are a fan of superheros, man is it a great time to believe alive. Over the past decade, we have seen some of the best superhero movies ever made be released. Batman Begins, Iron Man, The Avengers, The Dark Knight, etc.

And the superhero films just keep on coming. About a week ago, Warner Bros. and DC entertainment announced their superhero movie slate for the next six years. They are as follows:

2016
Batman v. Superman: Dawn of Justice
The Suicide Squad

2017
Wonder Woman
Justice League Part 1

2018
The Flash
Aquaman

2019
Shazam
Justice League Part 2

2020
Cyborg
Green Lantern

And the crazy part...the above list doesn't even include the Marvel film slate which will include: Captain America 3, Guardians of the Galaxy 2, Ant-Man, Doctor Strange, and Avengers 3. Plus you have Agents of Shield on ABC.  That's something like 4 superhero movies per year for the next six years, and a superhero show on every major TV broadcast network. (CBS ordered a Supergirl pilot, NBC has Constantine, ABC Agents of Sheild, The CW has Arrow and Flash, and Fox has Gotham.)

On a little bit of a side note, DC has some absolutely fantastic superhero TV shows on including The Flash and Arrow. I highly recommend you start watching these two shows immediately. With all of these superhero shows out there, I wonder if the bottom will drop out and when? Will the general public at some point get tired of seeing caped crusaders coming to save the day?? I for one will not. For my entire life I have loved superhero movies, and as long as the quality is there, I will continue to be a fan of this current golden age of superhero movies and TV shows.

P.S. As I was writing this blog entry, The Avengers: Age if Ultron teaser trailer was just released. It looks bad ass!!!

Sunday, October 19, 2014

The Cable Cutting Revolution is Beginning

This past week, in my humble opinion, was a historic week for television. Both CBS and HBO announced their own streaming serves. CBS All Access launched this week, and for $5.99 a month you will have complete access to current shows, such as The Big Bang Theory, the ability to stream a CBS affiliated station live,and watch classics such as Star Trek. Don't get me wrong, very big news in regards to CBS. However a large amount of their older content is already on Netflix, or another streaming platform. (The selling point of this new service will be access to The Big Bang Theory.)

But the bigger news has to be HBO's announcement of a streaming service that will not require a cable or satellite subscription. This is mind blowing to me!!! For years, cable and satellite companies have been set up as an all or nothing system, where customers bought channels that they may not have wanted or watched. This very well could be the beginning of an "a la cart" system where individuals will be able to purchase the channels that they want.

I'm very interested how the cable and satellite provides will react once this new HBO platform is launched. For decades HBO has been one of the primary features that have convinced customers to sign up for cable.  If this goes through, you will be able to get HBO without such an expensive cable bill along with it.

I want to do more research on this, and possibly write out a longer piece with a little bit more background and content.

Monday, October 6, 2014

The First Saturday Morning without Cartoons On

All children of the 80s/90s will remember this graphic
This past weekend was the first weekend, possibly in fifty years, where there were no Saturday morning cartoons on any of the major broadcast networks. (CBS, NBC, ABC, CW, etc.) Being a child of the 80s and 90s, I couldn't wait for Saturday morning to arrive.

Basically because I could watch cartoons for hours. The likes of Garfield and Friends, Looney Tunes, The Real Ghostbusters, and Tales from the Cryptkeeper graced my television screen every Saturday.

For a long way, it was this stretch of cartoons, which truly made the weekend, the weekend. It's gave the weekend its feel. Gizmodo has a great article discussing this change in television programming, and they do an excellent job discussing it.

Even though television is becoming more on-demand because of Netflix, Hulu Plus, etc, and kids are able to watch cartoons whenever they want, I'm still a little sad. There's something about destination television that helps create a community amongst viewers. For generations of Americans, Saturday morning cartoons will always hold a special place in their hearts.

Tuesday, September 23, 2014

Something Creative Once A Day

The past four weeks for me have been absolutely insane to say the least.

1) I became an uncle for the first time
2) The students returned from summer holiday
     a. Hired new staffs
     b. Began training staffs
     c. Publication of Xavierite
     d. Football season/Homecoming/Spoke at a student leadership conference/Riot Fest
3) Assisting my sister and brother in law move into their first house
4) Broke the front drivers side door of my car
5) College Radio Day

Now I'm not saying all of this to complain. I am very grateful to have a job that I love, and the ability to pay my bills. But phew, I need a little bit of a break. There's been a few projects that I've been inching to begin working on, but have found it difficult to find the time to begin working on them. Thus I find myself becoming a little bit more agitated than I usually am.

So today I have decided to re-dedicate myself to being creative, not being so easily agitated, and work on a few of my own projects. Hence I have issued myself a little challenge. Once a day for a week I want to try and do something creative. Whether its take a an interesting photo, or create something audibly. Just to do something to get my creative juices flowing. To meet today's challenge, I edited two interviews. One with Andrew W.K., and the other with Matt Kelly from the Dropkick Murphys. Unfortunately I can't upload the promo yet. It has to make its debut on College Radio Day.

Tuesday, September 16, 2014

The Universal Monsters' Box Set

I just got this in the mail today, and I can officially say that I am set for Halloween. If I had to pick my favorite old school monster movies it would have to be:

1) The Bride of Frankenstein
2) The Wolfman
3) The Creature From the Black Lagoon
4) Frankenstein
5) Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman

Frankenstein Meets The Wolfman is on my list for sentimental reasons. It was the first monster movie I ever saw. These are always fun movies. Especially on a rainy day with the first chill in the air, and a big bowl of soup.

Tuesday, September 9, 2014

A Brand New U2 Album That Everyone Has

www.U2.com
Anyone who has an iTunes account got a surprise this afternoon. They all had a free copy of U2's brand new album "Songs of the Innocence". Bono took to the bands website, www.u2.com, with a special announcement about the new album.

I love it when bands find a new and inventive way to get their music to their fans. Radiohead pioneered it 7 years ago with "In Rainbows". I remember that release being so big that the White House Press Secretary was asked to comment on the band's pay what you want model. Think about that for a second. An alternative rock band releasing an album, made it all the way to the Press Secretary of the White House!!

Other bands such as Nine Inch Nails, Kayne West, and Beyonce saw how successful this surprise/inventive release model could be and soon followed suite, to great success.

The only drawback is this release method has only been successful with very well known bands for the most part. For an up and coming band to break through, and gain notoriety with this model isn't impossible but can rather be difficult. Mainly because they are fighting to gain notoriety, while bands like U2, Radiohead, and Kayne West have notoriety.

Nevertheless, it's still really cool to be listening to a new U2 album today, when no one expected. Plus I really like the album thus far...

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

The Tradition Continues...

imdb.com
Netflix has struck again, and my tradition of getting into a TV show after it has ended, continues. For the past few months, a good number of my friends had recommended to me that I would really enjoy the show "Chuck". I've finally listened to their recommendations, and they were absolutely right!

Man oh man is it excellent. The show is perfectly casted, and  features the perfect amount of action, comedy, romance, and complex storytelling. The best way I can describe the show is that it is perfect escapism. It strikes just the right amount of balance between reality and fantasy, yet keeps all of the characters grounded and relatable. For me, that's the real draw of the show, the characters. No matter what crazy/unrealistic situation the characters find themselves in, you still route for them. Mainly because they are very relatable.

As I've been watching Chuck (and that's pretty much all I've been doing the past few days) I started doing some research on the production of the show, and it's pretty interesting. It seems like the show was almost canceled on three separate occasions, but the fans banded together and should enough support that NBC decided to keep it on. Check Chuck out if you are looking for just a fun show.

Tuesday, August 19, 2014

Star Wars The Unaltered Trilogy Coming to Blu Ray

comicbookmovie.com
A couple of days ago I saw a rumor on the AV Club's website stating that Disney may be releasing the original unaltered Star Wars Trilogy on Blu Ray. What wonderful news I thought!!! Gone forever would be the awful CGI Jabba the Hut, and other horrendous CGI alternations, leaving us only models, puppets, and mat paintings remaining. The pure joy of it!!

But as the article points out this may not happen since Disney doesn't own the distribution rights, 20th Century Fox does. But I don't understand why these two huge movie companies wouldn't work together on this project and make this happen??

With DVD sales down across the board, this would be a sure fire way to make some money. Wouldn't it? I love the original trilogy and would in a heart beat buy the original version of the films on Blu Ray. If we can get The Wonder Years and the Adam West Batman on DVD, we should be able to get this to happen??

Tuesday, August 12, 2014

The Ricky Gervais Podcast

For the past two weeks I have been re-listening to one of the greatest podcasts ever...The Ricky Gervais Show. If you not familiar with the Ricky Gervais show, it was the first REALLY popular podcast. It began around 2005 and according to Wikipedia has been download by over 300 million people.

Joining Ricky Gervais is Stephen Merchant, and the now legendary Karl Pilkington. It's Karl and his insane theories on life that make the show. I really can't describe it, you really need to experience it yourself.

Tuesday, August 5, 2014

Two Cool Things

www.express.co.uk
This week I discovered two really interesting items. The first comes from the street artist Banksy. The name of the piece is called "Mobile Lovers" *Details here. I absolutely love this piece. I think it does an incredible commentary of how much society puts social media presence as the number one priority over physical contact.

The second item involves my cousin Matt. He wrote this really interesting blog post entitled: "The Truth of Seinfeld Can Be Applied to Comic Strips". Matt discusses how most comic strips are self contained, and how they could benefit from a longer narrative. I think this is a really interesting concept, and would love to see comic writers apply this.

I understand why they keep it self-contained but sometimes to grow your readership by creating longer stories that get you invested into the characters.



Tuesday, July 29, 2014

Harry Houdini...Superhero?

Last week I picked up a book called The Secret Life of Harry Houdini: The Making of America's First Superhero. I must admit I've never been a "huge" fan of magic or of Houdini. I enjoy magic as much as the next person, but it was never one of my primary interests.

However there was something about the book that caught my attention. (Yes it was the superhero line.) I've never thought of Houdini as a superhero, but in some respects he was. He could escape from any number of dangerous situations much to the amazement of his audience. (If Houdini were any superhero, he would have to be Batman. Maybe Nightwing...)

I just started the book yesterday, and thus far it has been very fascinating. Once I've completed it, I will have to write a full book review on my goodreads account.

Thursday, July 24, 2014

New Podcast Idea

I've recently been inspired to do a podcast again. This will be the first time I will be doing a podcast on a regular basis since Rumble Radio and The Rough Draft. So its been about 2.5 to 3 years. I'm really excited because I haven't felt this inspired in a really long time.

There's two styles of podcasts I'm looking at doing. The first one will be another wrestling podcast, which will be based off of the Legends of Wrestling tv show on the WWE Network. The main difference with this is it all be from a fans perspective. I really want to make sure that this podcast doesn't turn into a typical wrestling b*tch fest. I want it to be fun.

The second podcast is a slight expansion on the wrestling podcast, only it will explain how individuals became interested in their "hobbies". So if a person is interested in model trains, they tell the story of how they became interested in them. My goal is to have it become a human interest story, and it becomes more about the people and less about the hobbies.

Ultimately my goal is to tell interesting stories. I see myself not so much as an artist and more of a storyteller. In conclusion I've been developing these podcasts for the past two weeks and I hope to be able to move into production within the next month.

Thursday, July 10, 2014

So I Saw Paul McCartney Last Night

Outside the United Center
As the headline suggestions, I saw Sir Paul McCartney last night. And as expected he put on a spectacular show! I won't do a "proper" review of the show, because I wrote a review of Sir Paul at Wrigley Field in 2011, and what I previously stated about his live performance then is still true today. (You can read it here)

What was really cool about last night's performance was the people I went with. For my friends, Michelle and Brian, last night was their first experience witnessing Sir Paul live. Watching their expressions on their faces was priceless. The looks on their faces was the same look I had back in 2005 when I saw Sir Paul live for the first time. Aw and giddiness. When you see Sir Paul live, you really don't want the show to end, because you having having pure unadulterated fun.

Sir Paul McCartney playing I've Just Seen a Face



Another highlight for me was being able to hang out with my best friend Kevin before the show. (He works for 97.9FM The Loop) It was his first time seeing McCartney live too, and he couldn't wait to tell me how much fun he had at the show. I've included the set list from the show. I highly recommend you check out Sir Paul's new music from the album NEW. It is phenomenal live.

July 9th, 2014 - United Center
Eight Days a Week
Save Us
All My Loving
Listen to What the Man Said
Let Me Roll It
Paperback Writer
My Valentine
Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five
The Long and Winding Road
Maybe I'm Amazed
I've Just Seen a Face
We Can Work It Out
Another Day
And I Love Her
Blackbird
Here Today
NEW
Queenie Eye
Lady Madonna
All Together Now
Lovely Rita
Everybody Out There
Eleanor Rigby
Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!
Something
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
Band on the Run
Back in the U.S.S.R.
Let It Be
Live and Let Die
Hey Jude

Encore 1
Day Tripper
Hi, Hi, Hi
Get Back

Encore 2
Yesterday
Helter Skelter
Golden Slumbers/Carry That Weight/The End



Monday, July 7, 2014

Seeing Paul McCartney in Less Than 48 Hours


In less than 48 hours (I am writing this blog on Monday July 7th) I will being seeing the legendary Sir Paul McCartney at the United Center. This will be my third time seeing Sir Paul live. He may be an expensive ticket, but he certainly delivers the goods. His shows average 3 hours in length, and you will be getting the hits. Hey Jude. Let It Be. Helter Skelter. Live and Let Die. Get Back. All guarantees to be performed.

To help get myself excited for the show, I went back and looked over his setlists from the previous times I saw him life. So good!!! Here's the setlists from the previous times I've seen him. It's fun looking back and seeing what he played.

October 18th, 2005 - United Center
Magical Mystery Tour
Flaming Pie
Jet
I'll Get You
Drive My Car
Till There Was You
Let Me Roll It
Got to Get You Into My Life
Fine Line
Maybe I'm Amazed
The Long and Winding Road
In Spite of all the Danger
I Will
Jenny Wren
For No One
Fixing a Hole
English Tea
I'll Follow the Sun
Follow Me
Blackbird
Eleanor Rigby
Too Many People
She Came in Through the Bathroom Window
Good Day Sunshine
Band on the Run
Penny Lane
I've Got a Feeling
Back in the U.S.S.R.
Hey Jude
Live and Let Die

Encore 1
Yesterday
Get Back
Helter Skelter

Encore 2
Please Please Me
Let It Be
Sgt. Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band (Reprise)
The End

July 31st, 2011 - Wrigley Field
Hello, Goodbye
Junior's Farm
All My Loving
Jet
Drive My Car
Sing the Changes
The Night Before
Let Me Roll It
Paperback Writer
The Long and Winding Road
Nineteen Hundred and Eighty-Five
Let 'Em In
Maybe I'm Amazed
I've Just Seen a Face
I Will
Blackbird
Here Today
Dance Tonight
Mrs. Vandebilt
Eleanor Rigby
Something
Band on the Run
Ob-La-Di, Ob-La-Da
Back in the U.S.S.R.
I've Got a Feeling
A Day in the Life
Let It Be
Live and Let Die
Hey Jude

Encore 1
Lady Madonna
Day Tripper
Get Back

Encore 2
Yesterday
Helter Skelter
Golden Slumbers
Carry that Weight
The End

Tuesday, June 24, 2014

The George Lucas Museum Coming to Chicago

Nerd out moment!!! It was announced today, Tuesday June 24th, that Chicago will be the home to the George Lucas museum. The museum will be located in the south parking lot of Solider Field, and will be the home to Lucas' film, art, and movie memorabilia collection.

The Chicago Tribune has a great article explaining all of the details. I for one will love to be able to see all of the Star Wars models and puppets' collections. But for me, the big question is, will there be any Indiana Jones stuff at the museum? I'd love to see the hat!

Thursday, June 19, 2014

This is so Cool

I just found this video. It's a guy wearing a suit of Mentos, and he is dunked into a vat of Diet Coke. This is a perfect example of the Internet being used for good.

Tuesday, June 17, 2014

Sherlock Holmes in the Public Domain

On Monday June 16th, 2014 an appellant court in Chicago ruled that the greatest fictional detective of all time, Sherlock Holmes and all of his stories published before 1923 were now in the public domain in the United States.  The Chicago Tribune covered the story. (I've included the link to the news story for two reasons. One it is very well written, and secondly because it does an excellent job explaining the legality of the situation.)

What I find so exciting however, is what this means for artists, story-tellers, and playwrights. These individuals no longer have to pay licensing fees to the Conan Doyle estate in order to use the character.

For someone like me, who oversees a college radio station, this is a tremendous opportunity because students or other aspiring individuals can now adapt one of the most famous literary characters of all time. The creative story-telling possibilities are endless. Of course there will probably be some poor adaptations of the character, but among all of these new adaptions, there could be a new interpretation that could totally reinvent the character.

Tuesday, June 3, 2014

Two Very Cool Things

This evening I discovered a very cool PBS digital short, and received a very cool promo for the radio station I over see.

1. PBS Digital Shorts posted a video entitled "The Abandoned Railway below Philadelphia". In their quest to create more green spaces in an urban center, a group of individuals look to parts of the abandoned Philadelphia railway system as possible spaces for plants, farming, and other green usage. I think this is so cool, and I would love to see if Chicago would do something similar with their abandoned areas.

I always thought it would be cool that if an abandoned building was destroyed, and no one was going to develop it, that we could plant a garden there. Help freshen neighborhoods up, and it wouldn't just be vacant spaces.


The Abandoned Railway below Philadelphia - UNUSUAL SPACES no. 2 from PBS Digital Studios on Vimeo.

2. On WXAV we air a program entitled "Planetary Radio". Bill Nye the Science Guy is a regular contributor to the program, and earlier tonight I received this promo for WXAV. It speaks for itself.

Tuesday, May 27, 2014

PBS Arts on Tumblr

PBS.org 
So I am new to Tumblr. I don't use it very often, but I try to go on there about once a week. It's not so much that I don't like Tumblr, I do, it's just I haven't worked it completely into my web surfing habit quite yet.

Anyways, one of the blogs I follow on Tumblr is PBS Arts. And holy crap is it amazing. If you are not following it, I highly recommend you start checking it out. Every time I look at at the art they have posted there, I always feel inspired.

We forgot that great art inspires the soul. It moves individuals to do great things. It creates an emotional response from a person. With so much "art" being produced online currently, I feel that the term "art" has almost become a water down term. PBS Arts breaks through, and grabs your attention immediately.

Take a minute and go explore PBS Arts.

Monday, May 19, 2014

New Coldplay Album

Just received “Ghost Stories” in the mail today. Once again, Coldplay delivers an outstanding album. It’s funny, it seems like every other album they create, I absolutely love. Loved “A Rush of Blood to the Head”, wasn’t a fan at first of “X & Y”. (However, I do appreciate much more now.) Loved “Viva la Vida”, wasn’t a fan of “Mylo Xyloto”.

Earlier today, I read Greg Kot’s review of “Ghost Stories”, and I actually agree with him for a change. This is a stripped album on par with Parachutes. Ghost Stories is a great pop rock album.

Wednesday, May 14, 2014

United States of Secrets: A Frontline Special

On Tuesday May 13th the award winning PBS public affairs program 'Frontline' aired part one of a documentary series entitled: "United States of Secrets". This multi-part documentary series focuses on the NSA's domestic spying programming.

The series traces the spying program through its inception following the tragic events of September 11th through the Edward Snowden revelations of last year. This presentation was one of the finest pieces of journalism I have ever seen. I feel that it did a wonderful job presenting the facts, as they found them, and that both sides of the argument were presented in fair manner.

If you have not seen part one of this series, it is a must see. You can check it out here.

Tuesday, May 6, 2014

Josh Homme: 'A True Rock Star'

My friend got this close to the band.
Photo Credit: Pam Wichert.
On Cinco de May, I got to see Queens of the Stone Age. This was my second time seeing them, and man or man did they not disappoint. As I was watching their 1.5 hour plus set, something dawned on me.  Josh Homme, lead singer of Queens of the Stone Age, is a pure unadulterated Rock N' Roll star.

Let me explain. There's always been an attitude associated with rock n' roll. "Real" rock n' roll stars play by their own rules, and they exert an energy that makes them the absolute center of attention. Elvis Presley is a rock n' roll star. Mick Jagger is a rock n' roll star. Robert Plant, Mike Ness etc. They are all rock n' roll stars.



Josh Homme is cut from the same clothe as the
My friend located in the balcony of the Aragon Ballroom
Photo Credit: Kevin Kellam
aforementioned gentlemen. The way he commanded the audience's attention, played guitar while smoking a cigarette, and got into a banter match up with a fan about sleeping with his mother. He is an old-school rock and roller. I've gone to many a concerts in my day, and seen a lot of people "pretend" to be rock and rollers. There's no pretending with Homme.

Queens of the Stone Age is an amazing band to see live, if you want to have your face melted off. Below is one of my favorite Queens songs that is freakin' amazing live...
 


*Side note. I usually don't take pictures at concerts.



Sunday, April 27, 2014

Behind the Curve

I fell like I am behind the curve on this one, but this week I discovered the band Yeasayer. Holy crap, are they catchy as hell. They have a very 1980s New Wave sound, only with a modern feel. All I know is that I have not stopped listening to them since Thursday.

The band hails from Brooklyn NY, and have been around since 2006/2007. Their discography consists of three full length albums, and a couple of EPs and live releases. I've included a live performance that Yeasayer did on the Jools Holland program. It really does a nice job showcasing their sound. 

Here's the weird part. I came across Yeasayer from my own iTunes library. I was listening to my iTunes library on shuffle this week, and Yeasayer came on. I have no idea how I got their music... It's almost like the musical gods wanted me to have these music as a gift.

Thursday, April 24, 2014

I Want To Do This

My cousin Matt posted this a few days ago on Google+. It makes me want to buy boxes of Lego Bricks, and try to re-create my favorite album covers.

Click Here

Sunday, April 13, 2014

The Finale of How I Met Your Mother *Spoilers Withing

The series finale of How I Met Your Mother caused quite a bit of controversy when it aired a few weeks back. The controversy came about at the end of the episode where lead character Ted resumed a romantic relationship with Robin. The woman whom he chased for the entire length of the series, and who you knew since the pilot episode was not the mother of his children.

Many fans where upset about this for a number of reasons. I will not discuss all of the reasons here, because the Internet is a crazy place, suffice it to say, the general outrage comes from what many people feel is a step back for the Ted character. I know I'm in the minority, but I really enjoyed the ending. Let's face it, the Ted/Robin relationship is the relationship that was the crutch of the show. It's also the relationship that had the most emotional weight. So the fact that we the viewer got closure on this relationship was nice.

Don't get me wrong, I really enjoyed the mother, who was brilliantly played by Cristin Milioti. I would of loved to of seen more of her, but again this wasn't the relationship that viewers were emotionally invested in. However the aspect of How I Met Your Mother that I respect the most is that the creators had their ending in mind since the beginning of the show. Knowing that it would be unpopular (the mother dies), they stuck to their guns, and told the story that they wanted to tell. In this age of the Internet, if your show isn't named Breaking Bad, fans don't necessarily allow storytellers to tell their stories with out criticizing them to high heaven.

For me the legacy of How I Met Your Mother is that of a very good sitcom, that showed love how it really is. Completely irrational, all over the place, and sometimes changing. This show wasn't your typical romcom. And that is what makes it so refreshing.

Monday, April 7, 2014

The End of an Era

WWE.com 
Last night at WrestleMania XXX the unthinkable happened. The Undertaker and his mythical winning streak at WrestleMania came to an end by the beast incarnate Brock Lesnar. Being a lifelong Undertaker fan, I was completely devastated by this loss. For so long, The Undertake has been built up as the deadman. The man who feels no pain. The man from the dark side. The one babyface that was truly unstoppable. But last night's loss reminder us that just like the man, the character is not invincible.

I am not sad anymore over the Undertaker's loss. It was a great story told. And that's the best part. For so long the Undertaker was the beast of the WWE. All who challenged him were defeated. As a fan, we just always assumed the Undertaker would be there. Well there is a new beast patrolling the WWE landscape, and that is Brock Lesnar. I am anxious to see which hero will challenge Lesnar next, and try to avenge the Undertaker's defeat. What will be the new stories told?

Watching WrestleMania XXX live was beyond amazing. Witnessing 75,000 people hushed with Lesnar's victory might be one of the greatest WrestleMania moments ever. It was absolutely amazing. But what made WrestleMania XXX so special were the stories told. I've always maintained that at its core, professional wrestling is nothing more than opera.

Performed in front of millions on a weekly basis, the WWE tells stories that take the viewer on a roller coaster of emotions. They surprise you. They anger you. They ultimately give you hope. And that's exactly what happened last night. From the end of the streak, to John Cena facing his demons, to the underdog Daniel Bryan emerging victorious, it was a night to remember. 

WrestleMania XXX will go down as one of the greatest WrestleManias ever. Thank you WWE for the wild ride, and the stories told. And thank you to the Undertaker. The greatest wrestler of all time! If last night was truly his last match, he has given us a legacy that will never be duplicated.

Wednesday, March 26, 2014

A New Dwarf Planet = Cool Art

NPR had an article posted today entitled: "New Dwarf Planet Found At The Solar System's Outer Limits". As the title suggests, the article discusses how there may be additionally dwarf planets located at the very edge of the solar system. This discovery is fascinating enough, but that wasn't what grabbed my attention. It was the image that was posted with the article that has blown me away. I've posted it below:

Scott S. Sheppard/Carnegie Institution for Science 


The utter simplicity of the image grabs me. When I first saw the image, and before I read the headline, I thought the article was about art. This serves as a nice reminder for me that the Universe is very much alive, and full of beauty, always waiting to be discovered.

Saturday, March 22, 2014

WWE Network: The Future of TV?

So my curiosity got the better of me, and I bought a six month subscription to the WWE network. After the first week or so, all of the bugs were fixed, and the network really came alive. So far it has lived up to its potential, and I've been absolutely glued to it.

It got me thinking. This is the future of TV. For $10 a month, I have full access to the PPV library of WWE, WCW, and ECW. (Every single PPV.) Original programming such as "The Legends of Wrestling" roundtable discussion show, WWE "Countdown", and the most controversial, in the cable companies opinion, live PPVs.

This is the first true step in OnDemand programming. The viewer is no longer shackled by cable companies, and their different pay scales. If you're a wrestling fan, this is the absolute best way to watch professional wresting, and even learn about the business. It will not hurt your pocket book like cable bills are beginning to. The WWE Network is a wrestling fan's dream come true.

 If I were companies like Disney, Warner Brothers, or any other entertainment company, I would be watching this very carefully. Instead of paying cable companies to deliver your product, why not deliver it yourself, and keep most of the subscription fees? Imagine a "Marvel" channel, or "DC" channel. The potential is limitless, and in my opinion is taking television in a new and exciting direction.

Wednesday, March 12, 2014

Some Great New Music

Thus far 2014 is shaping into a pretty fantastic year for new music. I've recently discovered two new artists, that I cannot get enough of.

St. Vincent
St. Vincent is a former guitarist of Sufjan Stevens, who has gone solo. She recently released her third solo album entitled St. Vincent. It is beyond amazing. She has this great vibe to her music, and is one hell of a guitar player. After listening to this album, I felt like I had just found a new favorite band. And the best part, is I have.



Stark Sands and Punch Brothers
This is a track off of the Inside Llewyn Davis movie, which was released late 2013.  The musicianship on this song is out of this world. I love the fact that this is a quiet song, but grabs your attention, and does not let go until the song is over. I'm currently on the look out for new music from Stark Sands.

Tuesday, March 11, 2014

New York City... You're Pretty Awesome!

The view from my hotel room
So this past weekend, I journeyed for the first time ever to New York City for a college radio conference. I thought that I would be prepared for New York, because I've lived in Chicago my entire life. How didn't could New York City be from Chicago?

Lots as I learned. I think what blew me away the most was the speed that New York moves at. Everyone is moving at high speed all of the time. Add to that the vast amounts of people everywhere, and you get a city that lives up to its reputation of a "City That Never Sleeps".


Although, there were portions of NYC that were quite calm. The upper west side where, Strawberry Fields is very much like Lincoln Park in Chicago. I found Central Park to be very peaceful. Additionally, Greenwich Village is an amazing area. It's like a combination of Hyde Park, Oak Park, and the Gold Coast all in one. If you are ever there, visit Bleecker Street Records. It's the best record story I've ever been in, in my entire life.

I am so grateful for my experience in New York City, and I look forward to visiting it again in the near future. But it also made me appreciate Chicago, just a little bit more.

Wednesday, February 26, 2014

The Late Great Harold Ramis

https://www.facebook.com/NinjainkArt

I cannot believe that I wrote the headline above. It's still sinking in that Harold Ramis passed away this past week. His work has entertained, and has really inspired me for a majority of my life. When I was little, Ghostbusters was my absolute favorite movie, and I would run around the house dressed as Egon Spengler busting ghosts. (Ghostbusters is still my favorite movie of all time.)

As I read about his life, I am blown away by the accomplishments he quietly achieved. Movies and comedy would be a very different entities if Harold Ramis was not an active member of them. Knowing his strengths, he moved away from being in front of the camera and the center of attention, to behind the camera, writing and guiding other actors to greatness.
http://twitter.com/Mega_Ashra



As I continue my career in radio, I know that I will never be an on-air personality. My strengths are behind the scenes, and helping others shine. Looking back, Harold Ramis serves as an inspiration professionally for me. His career reminds me that you can be successful behind the scenes. But it needs to be said that his professional accomplishments pale in comparison to the quality human being he was. God bless him and his family.

Sunday, February 23, 2014

ProCamera App

This past weekend, I was able to attend the Illinois College Press Association's ICPA conference and banquet at the Double Tree hotel in the north loop. It was a remarkable conference, as I was able to attend a session on multimedia journalism. I find the field of multimedia journalism to be incredibly exciting, and full of possibilities. A portion of the session focused on what were the best apps to use for shooting photography, video, and editing the material, all on your smart phone.

An app that the presenter suggested all multimedia journalists download, if they have an iPhone, is the ProCamera App. For $4.99, this app gives you white balancing capability, shutter speed control, and tons of other great functions.

And I got to say, the pictures I have taken with this app so far, I find to be very impressive. I noticed that they are much sharper, and much richer in color. But for me the coolest aspect of this app is the filters. They have a technicolor filter for your pictures. I haven't been this excited about photography in a long time, and I think this will help me get back into it. Below are some pictures I took with the app as practice.

The shimmer of the silverware is really captured

My cat

The technicolor filter. It's very red, but I still really
love how rich it can make a setting feel



Thursday, February 20, 2014

A Brief Review of Morning Phase by Beck

One of my favorite perks of working at a college radio station, is getting new releases before they are available to the general public. Needless to say, I was especially excited when I went through the mail today, and discovered that we received Morning Phase, the first new album from Beck in almost six years.

Now Beck is one of my favorite artists of all time. I've always admired how he is able to reinvent himself from album to album. You have the 70s funk/soul inspired album Midnite Vultures in contrast to the quiet self-reflective acoustic album Sea Change, and to top it all off, there is the classic 90s alternative cornerstone album, Odelay. Each album unique and amazing in their own way.

When the lead single from Morning Phase, Blue Moon was released, I was absolutely captivated. This song shows Beck revisiting his self-reflective period, which made me very excited because Sea Change is one of my favorite albums ever.




I popped the album into my CD player, and was treated to a familiar sound. The first full track on the album is entitled Morning, and it almost sounds like Beck very quietly samples part of a song on Sea of Change entitled: The Golden Age in this new track. Thus far I have listened to the album all the way through twice, and I cannot get enough of it. It seems like Morning Phase could be considered a direct sequel to Sea Change. The music is quiet, yet powerful, the lyrics show a man looking back on his life thus and self-reflecting on the choices he has made. Did I make the right decision? Can I live with these regrets I have? Some truly moving music!

It's been six years since we've had new music from Beck, but in my humble opinion it was well worth the wait. Here's a new single from the album entitled Waking Light:

Tuesday, February 11, 2014

Network TV Is Not Dead

This morning I found a fascinating article about network television. For the past few years, people on the Internet have been saying that network television is dying. And their arguments for why network television is dying can be a compelling argument at times. Hell, it was even taught in some of my communications courses that network TV would slowly be phased out. However, this article on uproxx.com shows a different side of the argument.

By pulling up some rough ratings data, the author Dustin Rowles, was able to show that network TV is just as strong now, as it was back in 1999. The key to his argument is the DVR numbers. Once you take into account DVR numbers, network TV is actually doing better now, then it was back in 1999 on certain top 10 shows. I personally believe that DVR and online streaming numbers need to be taken into account when doing ratings. Just because a person isn't watching it live, doesn't mean they shouldn't count.

I also really like that Rowles was forth coming at the beginning of his article and stated that his interpretation wasn't following a certain scientific method or model. In this age where anyone can publish anything online, I feel that it's important to be truthful, and try not to represent yourself as something you are not.

Kudos to this article. Additionally, most of my favorite shows are actually on network TV. I feel that majority of the programming found on cable is either very repetitive, or re-runs of old network TV. Of course there are some exceptions such as AMC and FX.

Sunday, February 9, 2014

A Possible New Persepective on the Asteroid Belt

NPR posted a great article the other day, in which the author reports on a new study that suggests the Asteroid Belt may had been formed in a way scientists had not thought of. You can read the article here. This is one area of science that always fascinates me. How big the universe actually is, always blows me away. It's like a giant jigsaw puzzle being put together, every time we learn something new.


Monday, January 27, 2014

New Music From Beck is Killer!!!

I have been a fan of Beck for more than 10 years. During that time, he has made heart-breaking personal music (Sea of Change), straight up Alternative Rock (Guero), and a killer 70s Soul/Funk album (Midnight Vultures).

Last week, his lead single off of his brand new album Morning Phase,was released. Blue Moon is the name of the single. It's been six years since he has released new music, and the wait was well worth it for me. Blue Moon exhibits haunting lyrics, and catchy as hell indie beats. All of these characteristics are what make Beck's music so great! Soak it in!

Tuesday, January 14, 2014

IT IS FINISHED!!

The book review is finished and has been submitted to the Journal. Below is the final version


Lacey, K. (2013). Listening publics: The politics and experience of listening in the media age. Malden, MA: Polity Press. 238 pages.

According to Kate Lacey’s new book, Listening Publics: The Politics and Experience of Listening in the Media Age, listening has become a forgotten area of study in the field of communications. And for Lacey, this lapse in the understanding of listening has had far reaching consequences.
Lacey’s central argument is that listening is currently viewed as a passive activity within the communications field. According to Lacey, characteristics of passive listening include: little concentration, lack of involvement, and a sense of indifference towards political action. The evidence she gathers to support her conclusions come primarily through historical research. In fact the majority of the text focuses on the development of privatized listening habits of societies over the first half of the twentieth century. It is these privatized listening habits that influenced the early broadcasters of radio, who then began the paradigm shift in how listening is viewed.
What Lacey’s analysis shows is that as radio developed, society began viewing it as a primary way to communicate. Because of this, new communication techniques needed to be created. Soon the public’s demand for radio increased, and radio became more commonplace. As radio became more commonplace, the listening habits of the public began to change.
As radio became more affordable, it began to be marketed more for private use in the home. Thus, listening began to be viewed as more of a “private” activity, where an individual would be in control over what she or he listened to. This ability to make personal choices became very important. Lacey (2013) states “…The dominant trend through this history was towards the privatization and individualization of the listening public via the technological and textual inscription of an idealized and domesticated listener…” (p. 132) Previously, listening was viewed as more of a public activity, occurring in public spaces such as parks, auditoriums, and clubs, where individuals were openly engaged in the politics and activities of the community.
As radio grew, its champions began to see it as the great class equalizer, which would be able to assist poorer classes reach new heights of success and education. According to Lacey, as broadcasters began to conduct early market research and ratings polling, they noticed that the more “intellectual/educational” programming was not receiving the listenership broadcasters had hoped for.  Since individuals where now able to make their own personal choices of what they listened to, they chose to listen to entertainment programs, rather than educational ones. Hence broadcasters began to replace these programs with shows that would have more of a mass entertainment appeal. This shift in programming focus had a fundamental effect. “During the formative years of broadcasting, this passivity was understood by some as being imposed on the listener by the mass address that spoke to no-one as someone, and everyone as anyone, denying the possibility of active engagement, personal development or equality of response.” (Lacey, 2013, p. 114)
But why is whether or not we view listening as a passive or active activity so important to Lacey? If you are active, then you are engaged in the world, according to Lacey (2013): “Listening is at the heart of what it means to be in the world, to be active, to be political.” (p. 163) This individualization that had occurred via radio began to take the individual out of the world. Listeners were no longer publicly engaged. And the culture of listening as a passive activity took prominence. To put it another way, by choosing privatized listening habits, people were no longer engaging in public debates. Society chose listening to be entertainment focused instead of education focused. Broadcasters, watching this trend, replaced educational programming with more entertainment programming. And since an individual was not being moved to action or participation in politics, listening began to be seen as a passive activity, not an active one. Choice and privatization led to passivity. Listeners chose to listen to what “pleased” us. 
To reverse this trend, Lacey concludes that the communications field needs to review its standpoint on listening.
Lacey (2013) states: The politics of listening is an important corrective to conceptualizations of public participating that are restricted to notions of speech, dialogue, and text… theories and practices of media communication and public life miss too much if they don’t give the politics and experience of listening a fair hearing. (p. 199)
Listening Publics: The Politics and Experience of Listening in the Media Age, raises many thought provoking questions, and presents ideas/ theories that the communications field might do well to study more. Portions of her argument on the interconnectedness between listening and politics are especially intriguing. Lacey’s research gives credence and support to the statement: “To state simply – without a listener, speech is nothing but noise in the ether.” (Lacey, 2013, p. 166)
However this book leaves many questions unanswered. Lacey’s identification of the communications field and society’s lack of understanding of listening is provided. But then what? What can the communications field do to improve this lack of understanding, other than more research? What can broadcasters do to help improve listening’s image? Is passivity the only explanation for why listening has fallen from grace? How does an individual’s attention span play into how she or he listens? Additionally the historical research does weigh the text down at times. Majority of the historical research primarily focuses on radio’s impact on listening, but what about television or the Internet’s impact? Is society currently repeating the same mistakes that Lacey describes early broadcasters making with these new technologies? It would have been especially intriguing to see how Lacey would apply her research conclusions to television and the Internet.

Peter Kreten (M.Ed., Saint Xavier University) is the Director of Student Media at Saint Xavier University. He is currently the President of College Radio Day.

Friday, January 10, 2014

This Might Be the Final Draft

Yesterday I met with a very close friend of mine, who is a former copy editor. She has been providing me feedback on my book review writing process. I cannot tell you how much this in-person meeting helped me better articulately my ideas.

While we were talking, it became clear that I was misinterpreting which types of politics Lacey was talking about. It wasn't primarily politics as in "government", but politics of the broadcasting field, and how their decisions effected listening habits. So with a few minor edits, I think I finally have a final draft of this book review. Below is my latest text, properly formatted.


Lacey, K. (2013). Listening publics: The politics and experience of listening in the media age. Malden, MA: Polity Press. 238 pages.

According to Kate Lacey’s new book, Listening Publics: The Politics and Experience of Listening in the Media Age, listening has become a forgotten area of study in the field of communications. And for Lacey, this lapse in the understanding of listening has had far reaching consequences.
Lacey’s central argument is that listening is currently viewed as a passive activity within the communications field. According to Lacey, characteristics of passive listening include: little concentration, lack of involvement, and a sense of indifference towards political action. The evidence she gathers to support her conclusions come primarily through historical research. In fact the majority of the text focuses on the development of privatized listening habits of societies over the first half of the twentieth century. It is these privatized listening habits that influenced the early broadcasters of radio, who then began the paradigm shift in how listening is viewed.
What Lacey’s analysis shows is that as radio developed, society began viewing radio as new primary way to communicate with one another. Because of this, new communication techniques needed to be created. Soon the public’s demand for radio increased, and radio became more commonplace. As radio became more commonplace, the listening habits of the public began to change.
As radio became more affordable, it began to be marketed more for private use in the home. By doing this, listening began to be viewed as more of a “private” activity, where an individual would be in control over what she or he listened to. This ability to make personal choices becomes very important. Lacey (2013) states “…The dominant trend through this history was towards the privatization and individualization of the listening public via the technological and textual inscription of an idealized and domesticated listener…” (p. 132) Previously listening was viewed as more of a public activity, where individuals would have little control over what they heard, but where more openly engaged in the politics and activities of the community.
As radio grew, society began to see it as the great class equalizer, which would be able to assist poorer classes reach new heights of success and education. According to Lacey, as broadcasters began to conduct early market research and ratings polling, they noticed that the more “intellectual/educational” programming were not receiving the listenership broadcasters had hoped for.  Since individuals where now able to make their own personal choices of what they listened to, they chose to listen to entertainment programming, rather than educational ones. Hence broadcasters began to replace these programs with shows that would have more of a mass entertainment appeal. This shift in programming focus had a fundamental effect. “During the formative years of broadcasting, this passivity was understood by some as being imposed on the listener by the mass address that spoke to no-one as someone, and everyone as anyone, denying the possibility of active engagement, personal development or equality of response.” (Lacey, 2013, p. 114)
But why is whether or not we view listening as a passive or active activity so important to Lacey? If you are active, then you are engaged in the world, according to Lacey (2013): “Listening is at the heart of what it means to be in the world, to be active, to be political.” (p. 163) This individualization that had occurred began to take the individual out of the world. They were no longer engaged. And the culture of listening as a passive activity took prominence. To put it another way, by choosing privatized listening habits, people were no longer engaging in public debates. Society chose listening to be entertainment focused instead of education focused. Broadcasters began to see this trend, and replaced educational programming with more entertainment programming. And since an individual was not being moved to action or participation in politics, listening began to be seen as a passive activity, not an active one. Choice and privatization led to passivity. We chose to listen to what “pleases” us. 
To reverse this trend, Lacey concludes that the communications field needs to review its standpoint on listening.
Lacey (2013) states: The politics of listening is an important corrective to conceptualizations of public participating that are restricted to notions of speech, dialogue, and text… theories and practices of media communication and public life miss too much if they don’t give the politics and experience of listening a fair hearing. (p. 199)
Listening Publics: The Politics and Experience of Listening in the Media Age, raises many thought provoking questions, and presents ideas/ theories that the communications field might do well to study more. Portions of her argument on the interconnectedness between listening and politics are especially intriguing. Lacey’s research gives credence and support to the statement: “To state simply – without a listener, speech is nothing but noise in the ether.” (Lacey, 2013, p. 166)
However this book leaves many questions unanswered. Lacey’s identification of the communications field and society’s lack of understanding of listening is provided. But then what? What can the communications field do to improve this lack of understanding, other than more research? What can broadcasters do to help improve listening’s image? Is passivity the only explanation for why listening has fallen from grace? How does an individual’s attention span play into how she or he listens? Additionally the historical research does weigh the text down at times. Majority of the historical research primarily focuses on radio’s impact on listening, but what about television or the Internet’s impact? Is society currently repeating the same mistakes that Lacey describes early broadcasters making with these new technologies? It would have been especially intriguing to see how Lacey would apply her research conclusions to television and the Internet.

Peter Kreten (M.Ed., Saint Xavier University) is the Director of Student Media at Saint Xavier University. He is currently the President of College Radio Day.