by Elizabeth Appel
As my date and I headed west on Allen St. late Saturday evening, we couldn’t find the restaurant or a parking spot. We finally found Allentown’s tiny, new hotspot, Sample. From the outside it looked quiet, but as we entered, Sabres fans lined up at the bar were getting belligerently “cozy” in front of a TV. We were immediately seated upstairs in a corner booth.
Neither of us really knew what to expect of the food. I had heard the style was a similar to that of a tapas (Spanish-style appetizers) bar, but all of my preconceived notions were wrong. The menu offers about 20 different standard options with a few daily specials. Neither my date nor I knew what to do with the menu, so our waiter helped accordingly and was very patient with us. Usually people order three to five different options and then add on to their order as they please. Sample offers exactly what its name portrays—a sample, or bite of everything. The menu boasts a variety, including lobster bisque, various vegetable soups, mini baked potatoes, pork chops, cheese platters, and everything in between. Their wine menu is comparable in size to the restaurant (warm and inviting, but not too small), offering about 18 domestic and imported red and white wines (some offered by the glass) ranging in price from $16 to $36 per bottle, with glasses running at $5 or $6.
Baffled by the menu, we ordered a bottle of 2005 Borgo Conventi Pinot Grigio for $20 and a cheese board ($5) with three cheeses—two soft and one hard, equipped with grape chutney that brought out the smoked flavor of the cheeses.
As the bottle of wine quickly depleted, we thought it would be a good idea to start eating. My date and I both ordered lobster bisque which had a nice texture, but overall it was overly seasoned and far too salty for both of our liking. Next came our salads—shrimp salad for me, served on a crisp endive leaf, and fresh tuna salad for him. Just a bite though, remember that. The quality of the tuna soared over that of the shrimp, although both were a little bit bland. Moving on, the waiter served us our would-be dinner: linguini in clam sauce for each of us (totaling two twirls, nicely served over the clam shell) and a fingerling baked potato with crème fraîche and apple bacon for me. Both had very nice tastes, especially the potato. The bacon went so well with the fresh cream and chives it made it seem like an actual meal instead of just a few bites. My date followed up with a mini fish and chip which he said anyone could have made. Why not? It is just a deep fried piece of cod accompanied by a chip. He also had a mini pork chop with applesauce, later claiming it to have been the best bite he had all night. After eating all nine measly bites on the plates in front of us I opted for more—another baked potato and the lobster club would do the trick. The dish had lobster tail and tomatoes marinated in olive oil, with a small piece of smoky bacon all on a crunchy cracker—but there was something wrong with it. The tomatoes overpowered the lobster. If I’m going to indulge in lobster, I damn well better enjoy it, but the succulence of the tiny tail was almost completely masked by the tomatoes.
After taking a few minutes to process the somewhat satisfying and certainly eccentric dinner, we thought about dessert. Sample offers three dessert options—Crème Brulée Trio—three types of crème brulée, Cheesecake Trio—regular cheesecake with a raspberry, peanut butter cheesecake, and chocolate cheesecake topped with whipped cream, and the Chocolate Trio—a chocolate covered strawberry, a chocolate chip cookie, and a chocolate ravioli. We ordered the Cheesecake and Chocolate Trios. The cheesecakes were very good all around. Not too rich and delightfully creamy, but it also could have been that they were bite sized and not even big enough to be overwhelming. The Chocolate trio was good, but the ravioli really surprised us. It was actual pasta ravioli, but filled with chocolate instead of cheese. Weird? Yes. Good? I can’t describe it, but the rest of the dessert was delicious.
Sample is certainly worth the ride to Allentown (which in reality, is only ten minutes from South Campus) if you want to try something different. Each bite costs around $2 and some upwards of $3. The service was great and the ambiance was better, but if I’m only going to have a bite of each dish, everything needs to be prepared perfectly, and in that department, the chef could use some help. I think Sample is a great idea, especially if you like to have a taste of everything, but not if you’re in the mood for a hearty meal. It’s located at 242 Allen St., but just think before you go. For a few bites of beautifully presented, yet not quite satisfying food, we paid $80.
Samuel L. Jackson Roars Cuss Words for a Living
by Guy M. Scrivo
Now that the venerable liquor horse James Brown has passed on to the big bar in the sky, the title of “Hardest Working Man in Show Business” is now up for grabs, and I would like to nominate Samuel L. Jackson. He’s been in over 100 films and interviewed on over 130 television shows, and his most notable role ever is indisputably “fast food robbery man” in Coming to America. One of his newest roles is supplying the voice of a samurai with an Afro, appropriately named “Afro Samurai No. 2” in the new anime series Afro Samurai, airing on Spike TV.
Fans of the Wu Tang Clan will be happy to discover that RZA is responsible for the soundtrack of this show, as he was for Kill Bill and Ghost Dog, and emcees like Talib Qweli and Q-Tip make noteworthy appearances. But to cut to the chase, you’re considerably better off watching Ghost Dog instead. He probably just signed on to the show for the resumé line and the title.
The plot boils down to the old anime standard of “young boy witnesses his father’s murder and seeks vigilante revenge against the mysterious fighting champion of the world,” so there’s nothing really difficult to understand about it. Afro Samurai No. 2 seeks revenge against the villainous Justice, and the only other character you need to know is the comic relief character Ninja Ninja, also voiced by Samuel L. Jackson. Both of Jackson’s characters chain-smoke hand-rolled cigarettes, which is cool because as everyone knows, cigarette smoking makes you cool.
My usual problem with anime is that if you miss one episode of a series, you might as well stop watching altogether because you won’t understand what’s going on when you return. That doesn’t seem to be the case with Afro Samurai, which coasts smoothly along a cliché plot, but if you watch anime in the first place you clearly have a tolerance for cliché and a lust for giant robots.
I might watch this show again, but I don’t see myself setting an alarm or anything. Samuel L. Jackson is a fun voice actor, but his voice alone does not make the show. The art is a little more stylized than other anime, and reminds me of the legendary Aeon Flux, but the show itself didn’t prove too entertaining. I wouldn’t necessarily recommend this one, except to hardcore fans of the anime genre or the vigilante cowboy plotline. Instead, you should watch the Sarah Silverman Program.
once, twice, 23 times a mess
The Number 23
by Brad Deck
The advertisements for the movie The Number 23, director Joel Schummacher’s latest foray into the land of cinematic suspense, depict Jim Carrey’s face, subdued and dark, with the number 23 scrawled all over it. It does call to mind the “the pen is blue” scene from 1997’s Liar Liar, and surprisingly Carrey’s new thriller isn’t really that different from that slapstick foray. But while Liar Liar was an intentionally hilarious comedy that recalls the glory days of the classic Carrey farces that we all know and find impossible not to love, his latest effort is comical in such a pathetically inadvertent way, that viewers cannot help but laugh out loud as the hum of failure seeps through the surround sound.
Apparently, there are people out there who are obsessed with the presence of the number 23 in their everyday lives (reportedly even Carrey himself), but this annoying phobia doesn’t hold up as far as suspense goes. The story is relatively simple: Carrey plays Walter Sparrow, a dog-catching family-man, who stumbles upon a book about a lonely detective who becomes infatuated with the number 23 after a woman he calls “suicide blonde” kills herself and passes the obsession on to him. As he reads, it becomes apparent that the life of the detective is mirroring that of his own, and he begins to notice the number all over the place. For a reason that is determined during the lackluster “twist” ending, this makes Walter prone to murderous outbursts, putting his wife and son in jeopardy.
Jim Carrey is a master at getting a laugh out of his viewers, but he seems lost when he isn’t contorting his face for the pleasure of the audience. To see him hold back from making a grand comedic gesture is borderline painful; watching as he recites the puerile dialogue provided by first-time screenwriter Fernley Phillips is like branding numbers into one’s own temples. The supporting players are equally as lackluster—perhaps the most disappointing is Virginia Madsen, who takes on the role of Walter’s wife with such an impeccable air of boredom that I am tempted to take back that nasty little Oscar nomination she garnered a few years back.
Then the sarcastically aforementioned finale comes. It isn’t really much of a shock, nor is it in the least bit fresh—a nearly identical premise was used in the Robert DeNiro stinker Hide and Seek—but it does signal a welcome end to another bad, albeit slightly entertaining, suspense thriller. In the vein of action flicks like Batman Forever and 8MM, The Number 23 is actually Director Schummacher’s twenty-third time gracing the screen with his cinematic mastery. You have to wonder how many times he’ll kick himself in the ass for this. Twenty-three, perhaps?
who you gonna call?
Reno 911: Miami
by Jack Niejadlik
If you’ve ever had a real emergency, be thankful that the officers of the Reno County Sheriff’s Department didn’t show up. This 84-minute laugh-fest is one of those rare moments in cinematic history when a television show is successfully adapted into a feature-length film.
The premise of the film is that all of our favorite Reno officers hit the road for a national police conference in South Beach, Florida. When a biological attack wipes out all the attendees inside the convention center, South Beach is left police-less. As the only band of law enforcement not inside the conference’s hotel, the Reno County Sherriff’s Department take the reigns of policing South Beach.
Even if you are unfamiliar with the television version of Reno 911 on Comedy Central, the movie still delivers. There certainly are a couple of nods to the show’s fans. The obvious and hilarious flirtatious relationships between the officers and the appearance of recurring character Terry the flamboyant male hustler on roller-skates are just a few.
Reno plays like an episode of the show on television, only longer. Likewise, similar camera work is executed for fast scene cuts, seemingly improvised dialogue, and awkward silences wrapped in Cops-style zooming and panning.
Aside from the usual lineup of officers, the cast is rounded out with cameos from comedic masterminds such as David Wain, Michael Showalter, and Michael Ian Black from the comedy troupe Stella, which had its own hilarious but short-lived run on Comedy Central. Paul Rudd (40 Year-Old Virgin), David Koechner (Anchorman, Waiting), Ian Roberts (Talladega Nights) and Paul Reubens (aka Pee-Wee Herman) also appear.
With a short runtime of under an hour-and-a-half, Reno 911: Miami still manages to satiate even the biggest appetite for gut-wrenching comedy by offering a felony-sized helping of humor. Masterfully and hilariously written, and credited with an all-star cast of contemporary comedic talent, Reno 911: Miami is definitely worth Fandango-ing.
The Rise and Fall of American Hardcore
American Hardcore: The History of American Punk Rock 1980 – 1986
by Patrick Dowd
The year is 1980, and the place is Los Angeles, California. The kids begin growing frustrated with the music scene across America. So what do they do? They start their own. “The scene in Los Angeles spread out like a bucket of water,” was how Henry Rollins of Black Flag put it, as this music subculture began spreading like wild-fire across the nation to cities like Boston, San Francisco, Washington D.C., and to eventually become an explosion across the nation.
American Hardcore: The History of American Punk Rock 1980-1986, directed by Paul Rachman, is a documentary that tells the story of a scene that rose out of a frustrated youth group. This movie describes how and why the scene started in California, and how it spread across the nation to influence later American rock music.
This movie is shocking. Going back and forth between a very detailed history of punk rock and then to the intense live shows that made these bands famous, it tells some great stories of how punk grew off the energy of the youth and how this scene began to follow a new idea of D.I.Y. or “do it yourself.” The live shows are like nothing I’ve ever seen: mass public hysteria, outright violence against one another, and wild stunts. It is raw, emotionally and physically, since I’m sure many people got cut up pretty bad. The live shows of Bad Brains, Black Flag, and MDC show how intense the concerts would get.
“It was the manifestation of youth, it was fast it was loud, it was angry, it was unpredictable, it was what we were and I think the music perfectly represented that,” said Ian Mackaye of Minor Threat and Teen Idles. I feel Rachman did a great job seizing and portraying this feeling as a nostalgic documentary of hardcore. Historical records of musical progression on film are sometimes not portrayed accurately and are usually lackluster, possessing none of the character and individual spark of the era. This seems to take a great gap of time and really expresses on screen the energy and fighting spirit of hardcore. Intrigue and an intense flood of adrenaline barrage and paralyze the viewer until the final chords of Minor Threat fade out.
This film follows the rise and fall of this American subculture, showing the scalding, fiery power of the live shows of the early ‘80s. It’s no wonder it was selected by the Sundance Toronto Film Festival. If you listen to any form of today’s alternative rock, this is a must-see. It creates a vortex in space through which you can observe from the comfort of your own couch (as opposed to the death pit of a front row) the seedling beginnings of high-speed, anarchic thrash.
Diverse Music, Ignorant MCs
UB International - CFA, Feb. 23
by Katie Young
There’s no denying that the entertainment division of UB’s Student Association consistently brings some amazing musical acts to our campus, but as many of us know, there are some problems in the execution of the events. This was reaffirmed during “UB International” on Friday, February 23 in the CFA Main Stage Theatre.
The choices for diverse entertainment were top-notch—although I must admit, kicking off the show with a dozen bagpipers—yes, bagpipers—and a handful of drummers and color guard members was a strange one. A dozen UB students, including SA president, Viqar Hussain, joined the stage to dance to the mid-eastern music of Ashraf. Then, From These Eyes, SA’s Battle of the Bands winner, complimented their jazzy, acoustic sound with lead singer Doug Abraham’s nasal-tinged voice. They were an enjoyable segue to Soulive, one of the two highly anticipated groups of the night.
Combining R&B, jazz, and traces of hip-hop, Soulive lured a large crowd in front of the stage to groove along with their music. I couldn’t tear my eyes away from Neal Evans, who played both the organ and bass parts on his synthesizers simultaneously. The lead singer displayed a wide vocal range, as he belted out to songs for half of the set, and guitarist Eric Krasno silenced the crowd during his haunting part of Stevie Ray Vaughan’s “Lenny.” In sharp contrast to Soulive, the Bhangra-based act RDB closed the show. Singers Manjit Roopowalia and Nindy Kaur combined driving dance beats commonly heard in house music, with traditional Indian music. They had the remaining audience members chanting “RDB!” and wildly dancing along to the catchy tunes.
Less enjoyable were the MCs of the night. It’s great to know that my student activity fee supports the importation of some guy named L. Boogs all the way from New York City. Both him and former SA Treasurer, Mazin Kased, pitted ethnicities against each other, constantly calling out to the “brown” people in the audience to make themselves known. In one of their many jokes, L. Boogs addressed those of Palestinian heritage and asked, “Do you throw rocks?”
It slowly evolved into a Soulive versus RDB competition, to see which act could garner the most applause and cheers. As a significant portion of the crowd emptied out following Soulive’s set, the “brown” crowd that the MCs spoke so directly to remained for the whole show. It would have made sense for SA to place Soulive at the end of the event, merely because they are jazz and funk, which are distinctively American genres. Futhermore, doing so would have exposed the entire crowd to Bhangra music, not just the select “brown people” who were familiar with the music of RDB already. But, then again—that would have made sense.
Goldilocks and the Metal Show
Killswitch Engage - Dome Theatre, Niagara Falls, Feb. 25
by Stephen Boyd
Our travelers braved the snowy white plains of the 190 North as they embarked on their journey to the Falls of Niagara. When they arrived, they parked their chariot and eagerly approached the castle, not knowing what to expect. The castle doors opened and they entered to the sounds of many people snoring. It seemed that the great bear named He Is Legend had somehow gotten onstage and was slowly lulling people to sleep with his brand of generic screamy pseudo-metal. He looked sort of homeless, like he had been waiting for his welfare check for a few days too many. A firecracker set off in the mosh pit summoned a great deal of castle security and finally got He Is Legend bear to exit the stage. “That was too stupid,” they thought.
After a short wait at the convenient castle bar, the bear named Chimaira took the stage to the booming cheers of his many loyal supporters. Apparently he was well known a few years ago for creating some heavy yet boring metal and now had a new album coming out on a new record label. His roars were loud, yet he mostly stood in one place and lacked the fierceness that would have awed our travelers. Instead, they looked on, unimpressed, as Chimaira bear growled his way through some of his most famous metalcore anthems and then quietly exited the stage. “That was too boring,” they thought.
After this, there must have been some sort of emergency somewhere else in the castle because the faith of our travelers was tested by a 45-minute delay. Our travelers had heard tell of a metal bear that brought real dragons to fly about the castle and played 20-minute guitar solos, but after the long wait, Dragonforce bear was less than welcome. He was British, with long hair and tight bear-jeans, and seemed partial to whammy bars and wicked riffage that became repetitive after the first ten minutes. A few more songs in, Dragonforce bear was revealed to be nothing more than the younger cousin of Poison bear and the crowd, save those who liked fist-pumping—a lot, quickly lost interest. Dragonforce bear didn’t lose its energy, however, and continued running around the stage yelling “Hell yeah motherfuckers!” until the last notes died out. “That was too annoying,” they thought.
Finally the moment they had all been waiting for arrived: Killswitch Engage bear took the stage with the flash of lights and the roar of sweet metal guitars. He was fierce and in fine voice, ready to tear through songs both old and new. His bass drum was crisp and loud, and his dual guitars tore through the air, crushing the tender ears of our travelers. What a display! But, what was this? After an hour, he still had energy for more? Oh, my! Our travelers were weary after their long voyage and waited only to hear the last strains of the encore fade before they retreated to their chariot once more. No wonder this bear was one of the most popular bears in metal; he was loud and powerful and his generic-yet-unusually-awesome songs appealed to everyone. As they journeyed home, the travelers all agreed: “A bit long, but all in all, that was just right.”
MORE APPEAL THAN “B-A-N-A-N-A-S”
DJ DStar - DJ DStar
by Daniele Hauptman
Good DJs give you a mixture of stuff you’ve never heard, songs you vaguely remember, and ones you can’t deny singing to in your car. A good DJ set should blend the tracks in a way that sounds so smooth it seems as if anyone could do it. As in any art, the seeming effortlessness is what separates the wannabes from the pros. DJ DStar shows he is truly skilled in turntablism with his new release, a self-titled compilation.
The mix begins with “Proton Candy” by Metro Area, getting you bopping your head like you’re at the Roxbury, and moves into the entirely danceable Hot Chip track, “Over and Over.” Instead of having an album of entirely isolated songs, like the kind that comprise much of music’s current mainstream albums, this is really a party in a jewel case. I don’t mean that in a NOW! That’s Music 41 way, either. The entire album is the equivalent of a tight DJ set at a sweet party. The album intermingles songs that cover what DStar calls, “almost every current club sound.” As one example, he puts a Terry Hunter and Kenny Dope remix of Kanye West’s “Addiction” on the same set as his even more addictive re-edited version of Lil’ Wayne and Birdman’s “Stuntin’ Like My Daddy”—rare versions that you’ll want to hear at least 1,000 times.
DJ Technics’ “To the Left,” is a short but sweet adapted version of the Beyoncé Top 40 radio standard. DStar uses this as a lead-in to his brand new original track with Chae Hawk, with whom he often shares a stage. The track is available on DStar’s MySpace (/djdstar), titled, “New CD Snippet.” Behind the rap, DStar spins a mix of different pieces of Justin Timberlake’s “My Love,” blending the song perfectly with Michael Jackson’s “Billy Jean.” Hawk raps, “Music my bitch, yeah, she loves my touch.” Clearly, the vinyl loves DStar’s touch, and it is a love that is undoubtedly requited.
As the end of the album approaches, the set takes a surprising and impressive turn, which may sound familiar to some of you who have heard DStar’s sets at clubs and parties. He starts with a 311 cover, which he then blends into the original “Love Song” by The Cure, then seamlessly mixes the guitar melody of “Love Song” with Purple Ribbon All Stars’ “I’m On It (Kryptonite)” for the finale.
DStar takes songs from all over the wide-ranging club scene, including Baltimore club, real-G hip-hop, and indie dance party classics, all remixed to make you shake your booty in a whole new way. Refusing to conform to the predominant, but slowly dwindling club DJ tradition of sticking to one main genre base, DStar incorporates different music from house to hip hop, intertwining ‘80s classics and underground favorites with other genres that you don’t even know what exactly to call, but to which you can’t help but want to dance. It’s not hip-hop, and it’s not rave shit—it’s just good shit.
World Peace at Last?
International Fiesta ‘07
by Elina Vaysbeyn
I’m from New York City, and considering the Hari Krishna demonstrations make their way down my street at least biannually, I thought I’d seen everything. Never having been to any SA event organized by the school’s many international clubs, I was ill prepared to soak in what was about to happen. International Fiesta ’07 ($5 per ticket), emceed by Ashish Abraham, Erica Acosta, Chris Drucker, Cuthbert Ayodeji Onikute, and Alaa “Zak” Nowihed, began at just past 7:30 on a cold and windy Friday evening in the comfortable CFA auditorium. The precursor to the dance competition in the CFA was an international dinner buffet with all kinds of food: Indian, Chinese, Korean, Middle Eastern, Polish, and Ukrainian, among many others. The dishes were mouth-watering and the energy generated by these SA clubs was bursting out of the Flag Room.
When the curtains were first drawn in the CFA auditorium, we were prompted to sing the American national anthem. I was somewhat stunned; wasn’t this about diversity and ethnic pride? The lights dimmed and the spotlight focused its heat on the stage, illuminating a dark-skinned girl in a sari. Her voice beautifully quivered under the pressure of the notes, belting out the “Star Spangled Banner.” It almost brought tears to my eyes.
Impulse Dance Force, though not a culture-specific group, was invited to open the show. From that moment on, the International Fiesta was on fire. Korean SA, Organization of Arab Students, and Taiwanese SA kicked it off after that with traditional drumming, belly dancing, and wild costumes. I was blown away by their performances that were culturally rich and entrancing. Each group was a living, breathing blood line of its ancestors. Let me tell you, this shit was intense.
I held my breath between different acts, not so much because I wanted to, but because I was hopelessly stricken with anticipation. Latin American SA carried the torch next, starting out with dances of the indigenous people, and finishing up with some fantastic salsa dancing. During the Indian SA performance, a girl practically pirouetted across the stage while balancing on the edges of a wide, shallow metal bowl to an intoxicating Indian song. Filipino SA did a dance which consisted of jumping over and through two bamboo sticks that were constantly snapping between their feet. Their motions were fluid and well rehearsed. Bangladeshi SA and Japanese SA wrapped up the show, but when I say wrapped up the show, I mean got the party started! BSA had a rapper come out on stage and grace us with some sweet rhyme flow. JSA danced quickly and lightheartedly, mixing up traditional dance with some modern stuff you’d see in a contemporary dance class. Rappers Gr& Phee and Rhyson Hall also attended, and put on an awesome show.They even mentioned a review of their album in yours truly, Generation.
Every single club that performed contributed their own energy, their enthusiasm, and something else that escapes the limits of a spoken vocabulary. International Fiesta is among some of the most talented visual arts performances I have ever seen. This might have been a competition, but I’m not going to tell you who won. Why? Because it doesn’t fucking matter. Seeing all these different people interact with each other, rising above ignorance and arrogance, was a beautiful thing.