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The CHIRP Blog

SKaiser writes@CHIRPRadio (Week of August 28)



1. Vic Mensa – The Autobiography (Roc Nation)

2. A Giant Dog – Toy (Merge)

3. The Yawpers – Boy in a Well (Bloodshot)

For a complete listing of the CHIRP charts, click here.

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Categorized: Events Journal

Kevin Fullam writesThe Fourth Wall: War Machine

Welcome to The Fourth Wall, CHIRP's weekly e-conversation on cinema. This week's subject is the Brad Pitt comedy War Machine.

This edition is written by CHIRP Radio volunteers Kevin Fullam and Clarence Ewing.


Most of my friends know that I'm a tough crowd with regards to comedy. A very tough crowd. These days, I've generally sworn off seeing comedy films in the theaters -- I've joked (no pun intended) that it's incredibly frustrating to hear folks all around me laughing at bits that I find wanting. Like my own real-life, 360-degree laugh track from hell*? Sometimes I experience this at improv shows and the like as well; it's a twisted dream of mine to have the offending party on stage treated to an audience of Kevin dopplegangers, all with crossed arms and blank stares. Cue the beads of sweat from those on stage. (Clearly, the lesson is that I'm an awful human.)

[*Comedy trailers are worst of all. Humor is all about context, and with trailers, you obviously have zero context. So editors are reduced to using cheap gags and punchlines, often with "full-stop" sound effects for added emphasis.]

It's actually made me think quite a bit about the nature of the genre and the subjective nature of humor. In my estimation, most attempts at comedy in film and television just try too damn hard, and my preferred brand of levity arrives in the midst of tales that are generally on the level. Dramas like The Sopranos and The Wire were wickedly funny at times -- Paulie Walnuts, when he wasn't a vicious sociopath, almost qualified as comedy relief. Clarence, you and I have discussed the genius of Extras in the past; even when celebrities in that series were playing caricatures of themselves, I can't ever remember them winking at the camera.

Which brings us to War Machine, a military satire based on the non-fiction book The Operators, an account of writer Michael Hastings' month-long stay with General Stanley McChrystal's forces in the Afghanistan war. The basis for the book was Hastings' article "The Runaway General," a 2010 feature in Rolling Stone which captured not only the chaos of the fight, but also McChrystal's mocking of White House officials (including VP Joe Biden), which ultimately resulted in his resignation. 

Hey, this sounds like a fascinating subject for a film! But couldn't they have gotten someone other than Brad Pitt to play the McChrystal character, Gen. Glen McMahon? I'm guessing Hollywood studios demanded a star. Fine. Then why demand that Pitt utter every line with an overblown, gravely voice? The man sounded like JK Simmons in full-on J. Jonah Jameson mode from the Spider Man films.

Keep Reading…

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Categorized: The Fourth Wall

Topics: war machine

Clarence Ewing - The Million Year Trip writesClassic Album Sundays Presents Off the Wall on August 27th!

The worldwide communal musicl listening event Classic Album Sundays turns its attention to Michael Jackson's first mega-hit solo album Off the Wall this weekend! (Check out the Facebook event page here and peruse CAS's musical lead-up playlist and legacy playlist.) The Chicago branch of CAS will gather again at Saturday Audio Exchange (1021 W Belmont Ave, Chicago, IL 60657) this Sunday, August 27th, from 5:30pm to 8:30pm to spin the record on super hi-fi equipment.

Tickets to the event are $5 and can be purchased at the CAS Chicago EventBrite page.

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Categorized: CHIRP Radio News and Info.

Topics: classic album sundays

Josh Friedberg (Music Historian's Corner) writesMichael Jackson Review Extravaganza, Part 1 of 2: Off the Wall and Thriller

written by Josh Friedberg

Michael Jackson was a genius—no joke. The man may be more remembered as an entertainer than as an artist, but separately from his groundbreaking dancing, concerts, and music videos, most of his studio output as an adult is very much worth listening to, whether or not you like to dance.

His level of craftsmanship in the studio was exceptionally high, and the picture that emerges from Steve Knopper’s 2015 biography, MJ: The Genius of Michael Jackson (which I reviewed here) is of a driven perfectionist who always strove to create something new.

Many disparage his work after 1982’s blockbuster success, Thriller, but since his death in 2009, much of his work has come under considerable especially 1991’s Dangerous. With CHIRP sponsoring a Classic Album Sundays listening party for 1979’s Off the Wall this coming Sunday, it is an ideal time to revisit the adult solo career of the King of Pop.

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Categorized: Album Reviews

Topics: michael jackson

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