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Punk band evolves but holds onto DIY ethic

Punk band evolves but holds onto DIY ethic


While many musicians and bands continue to create music in the same vein as when they first started, Ceremony has broken free from the constraints of hardcore punk and continues to evolve with each new release.

Ceremony started in Rohnert Park, California, in the early 2000s.

The group released its first EP, titled “Ruined,” in 2005. The EP showcased a faster style of hardcore music often labeled as power-violence.

Shortly after, Ceremony released its first full-length album, “Violence Violence,” through the hardcore label Deathwish Inc.

Band members have known each other as far back as middle school and many members have played together in bands since their teens.

Guitarist Anthony Anzaldo’s interest in playing music goes back to his childhood, when his father worked for MCA and Elektra records as a record promoter.

“His job was to get songs played on the radio,” Anzaldo said. “Before becoming a record promoter he worked as a radio DJ, so music has always been a major part of my family. I was exposed to various types of music since birth.”


Photo courtesy of Ceremony

For many musicians, an artist or band sparks an interest in creating music themselves. For Anzaldo, Prince made a lasting impression.

“I discovered Prince when I was 8 years old and it opened up a whole new world of music for me as far as the way I would listen to and enjoy music,” Anzaldo said. “He was the one who first inspired me to play music myself.”

While Ceremony found success within the hardcore and punk community with a blend of fast tempos, noisy guitar blasts and rapid-fire lyric delivery, band members found themselves growing and evolving as musicians.

“With fast hardcore music like “Ruined” or “Violence Violence,” it’s only done well when you’re young,” Anzaldo said. “That youthful angst is what makes hardcore and punk music great.”

Ceremony released two records under the well-known punk label Bridge Nine that showed a change in style.

The album “Still Nothing Moves You” reflected interest in textures and layers of sound. “Rohnert Park” began to sneak in spoken word passages and vocalist Ross Farrar used a more traditional singing style.

“It was definitely a natural progression for us to move away from hardcore music,” Anzaldo said. “We all grow up, change and evolve, and our records reflect this. It’s worked out for the best.”

Fan Eli Hernandez said Ceremony’s lyrics are still punk.

“Punk lyrics are personal and are usually from the singer’s life experiences, and they still have that on their newer records,” Hernandez said.

“I never really notice what label a band is on first,” he added. “If a band is good, then I’ll listen to them.”

Ceremony’s progression in sound included signing with the larger Matador record label, which is known for having a roster of bands that play various styles of music rather than focusing on any specific genre.

The group’s move to a larger label garnered criticism from hardcore fans who embrace smaller labels and a DIY aesthetic. Anzaldo said jumping to labels like Bridge Nine and Matador can seem like a big jump, but it’s really not.

“Labels don’t really matter the same way they did in the ’70s and ’80s,” he said. “People don’t listen to a band or musicians just because of the label.”

After joining Matador Records, Ceremony released the album “Zoo” in 2012 and “The L-Shaped Man” last year.

The albums show a giant shift in the group’s style, embracing the sparse style known as post-punk that originated in the ’80s.

“We know a portion of our fan base is made up of hardcore kids who loved our first records but we know that “The L-Shaped Man” is not a hardcore album,” Anzaldo said.

“We make music for us and if you like it then that’s wonderful but we aren’t going to pander to our fan base to just go on tour,” he added.

While the group has scaled back its blast beats and edgy lyrics, “The L-Shaped Man” sounds like a record made by a band knowing exactly what it wants to do.

It calls up memories of a band like Joy Division and The Fall, which paved the way for post-punk music. The lyrics remain personal, however, and the album still sounds very much like a Ceremony record.

“I feel like the album is definitely post-punk but we have always played music that didn’t necessarily fall into one scene or another,” Anzaldo said.

“People who listen to Ceremony cannot be grouped into one niche or scene, and getting to tour with a band like Bloc Party has shown we can play in front of different audiences and people will dig our music,” he added.

Being in an active band for a decade has given band members time to grow as people and as musicians, and their latest album reflects this. Ceremony is functioning better than ever and has no plans of letting up.

“We used to tour a lot more,” Anzaldo said. “When we put out a record, we will do an American tour and a little European run but we actually aren’t on the road anymore.”

Ceremony finished its American tour with Touche Amore last month. The band always has plans to record new music, so fans should keep an ear to the ground for news of an upcoming release within the next year.

For more information, visit or

Photo courtsey of Desmond Devenish

Tucson-made movie achieves wider distribution


A movie filmed in Tucson has moved on to screenings in locations ranging from South Dakota to Sweden.

Los Angeles filmmaker Desmond Devenish spent three weeks shooting his crime thriller “Misfortune” in Tucson. He premiered the movie at Tucson’s Arizona International Film Festival last May.

While in Tucson, Devenish began a “grassroots campaign” for a theatrical release of the film.

Discussions with Harkins Theaters proved fruitful and Tucson theater-goers were introduced to “Misfortune” from Aug. 26 to Sept. 1.

Devenish returned for the opening and was very pleased with the response from Tucsonans.

In other showings, “Misfortune” won Best Feature Film 2016 at the Black Hills Film Festival in Rapid City, South Dakota.

Coincidently, Rapid City is the former home of “Misfortune” producer Roger Steilen. Devenish called Steilen an instrumental part of the production, someone he could depend on for everything from locations to catering to crew.

Steilen’s confidence and calm presence provided a steadying influence when troubleshooting and problem-solving were needed, Devenish said.

“Misfortune” also screened at the Dances with Films Festival at the famous Chinese Theatre in Los Angeles, and was scheduled to show at the Toronto International Film Festival Sept. 8-18.

A European screening took place on Sept. 3 in Örebro, Sweden.

Devenish has reached an independent film distribution contract with ITN Distribution Inc., which acquires and distributes films worldwide for TV, VOD, DVD and theatrical markets.

Digital distribution will enable Devenish to step back from distribution and marketing and concentrate on his next project.

That film will be based on a book by Stacey Cochran called “Eddie and Sunny.” It’s the story of two characters living in their car with their young son in rural North Carolina.

When crime strikes, they go on the run. The two become separated and have to find each other again.

“Eddie and Sunny is the story of a family finding its soul, but to do so they have to lose one another first,” according to is a story of hope, love and the American Dream.”

Devenish also feels he has more work yet to do in Tucson. He received strong support from Independent Film Arizona, which he says is a “strong-knit community creating more work, camaraderie and a referral system for filmmakers.”

It’s a collaboration that strongly appeals to Devenish and his belief in the importance of working together to create a more positive experience in the world of film and in the world at large.

 Actor-director creates vision for collaboration



Desmond Devenish can clearly see the bigger picture. He calls it Gunnison Galaxy.

Devenish is building a starting point for up-and-coming filmmakers so they can take advantage of a broad base of established contacts in the film industry. He knows the struggle of trying to break in and wants to help new artists side-step that struggle.

In terms of his own filmmaking experience, his first effort was a disappointment. He lost his investment of time, money and effort due to the betrayal of a partner. Financial and emotional recovery was not easy.

Finally, he was able to move forward with his film “Misfortune,” whose themes of betrayal, loss and greed proved to be cathartic.

“Sometimes you find yourself in a situation which has gotten the better of you,” he said. “You look for answers and logic and perhaps the situation is the answer. If you can come out of it learning from it and strengthening your intuition and learning to trust that, it will save you the pain.”

Devenish had struggles with “Misfortune” too. However, after all the effort of the past, he wanted to finish the project in a strong fashion. Reaching out to sound engineer Tony Lamberti, he was able to create the powerful effect needed to allow the film to tell its story.

Ultimately, Devenish wanted the audience to feel that no matter how far down someone has been pushed, no matter how much they have lost, they have to keep moving forward. As long as they have a feeling of self-possession, completion, sense of self or love, moving forward is possible.

“That is the story in all of us. That is where all the growth is,” Devenish said.

Many films have inspired Devenish’s creativity, but one in particular stands out – “Platoon” by Oliver Stone because of the myriad of angles of the storytelling.

Not all wars are the same but there is always conflict. The beauty is in showing the situation with unbiased perspective from many points of view, Devenish believes.

“As a filmmaker, you don’t have to say just one thing,” he said. “You can let the audience decide, without being ambiguous. Let them take away what they want.”

What he wants to accomplish is honesty and truth, presenting the most crystalline point of view without manipulating the audience. The most important thing, he believes, is to be true to yourself, honest with yourself and to take your responsibility as a storyteller seriously.

Devenish encourages aspiring film-makers to get the most affordable camera they can, find something to record sound and get two or three friends who will work free or cheap and just start filming. Put in the time. Learn by trial and error. Use the internet, YouTube, Vimeo.

“If you have an idea, you can shoot anything,” he said.

It’s an amazing time to see the potential in all of us, Devenish believes. We need to create alliances between artists of all sorts to effectively give people what they need.

“Gunnison Galaxy is fostering the right idealogy,” he said. “It’s supportive and positive, so that we can work to get the best out of each other. We can be more cohesive and that positive energy will make the world better.”

For more information on Gunnison Galaxy, visit

Photo courtsey of Desmond Devenish

Director Desmond Devenish



Top 10: Books you should read in your twenties

Top 10: Books you should read in your twenties


Literature is an escape from our world to another; we use it to learn, grow and reflect. Your twenties are your formative years, so here are the top ten books that might help you reflect and discover yourself in these life-shaping years. In the words of author Marina Keegan, “what we have to remember is that we can still do anything. We can change our minds. We can start over.” Fair warning: the write-ups are as spoiler-free as they can be!

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1. “The Opposite of Loneliness: Essays and Stories” 

by Marina Keegan

Marina Keegan was killed in a car crash at the age of 22. Her work has outlived her. Keegan’s essays and stories were collected and published as “The Opposite of Loneliness.” Upon finishing this book the reader will find it quite difficult to not take some of Keegan’s words of wisdom with them. This book deals with a variety of topics all relevant to our generation and it’ll provide guidance, introspection and joy.

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2. “Wild: From Lost to Found on the Pacific Crest Trail”

by Cheryl Strayed

This is the story of Cheryl Strayed, a woman who attempts to rediscover herself by hiking the 1,000-mile Pacific Crest Trail. Strayed’s lack of hiking knowledge is overshadowed by her pure will to complete the trek. She composes a beautifully written story about loss, pain and giving up. Told in a way that puts you are right there next to her and her struggle to finish the trail.

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3. “Oh, The Places You’ll Go!” by Theodor Seuss Geisel

OK yes, it’s a Dr. Seuss book. The intended audience for this book is ofcourse children, but a few of us feel like a child from time to time. The book will provide some much needed wisdom in a whimsical way.  It lets you know whether or not everything is going to be okay. It shows you that even if you don’t know where you’re going quite yet you’ll figure it out!

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4. “Yes Please” by Amy Poehler

This book is some intimate real talk. The audience definitely will receive some much-needed advice. This book is funny, honest, kind and thought provoking. Riddled with essays, anecdotes and advice, it would be nearly impossible for the reader to not get something out of “Yes Please.”

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5. “I’ll Give You The Sun” by Jandy Nelson

This story is told from two different perspectives and time frames. Jude and Noah are the narrators during the duration of the book. Noah tells the story from the past perspective of their life, while Jude tells it from the present. If Nelson’s intention was to write a story of a realistic and compelling family dynamic that will overload the reader’s heart with countless emotions, he succeeded.

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6. “All I Know Now: Wonderings and Reflections on Growing Up Gracefully” by Carrie Hope Fletcher

This book consistently reassures the reader that they’re not alone and that there are other people who have gone through the same problems. Fletcher is successful in creating a great relationship with the reader. It feels as if you are receiving advice from a lifelong friend. This read will make you laugh, cry and feel at peace.

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7. “Ready Player One” by Ernest Cline

“Ready Player One” just oozes nostalgic feeling that’ll bring back memories of your childhood. Cline had no problem capturing a large variety of characters and making them feel realistic. This book is littered with ‘80s nostalgia references. Cline explains these references so well that his audience could know nothing about the era or videogames, and still enjoy this book.

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8. “Fangirl” by Rainbow Rowell

“Fangirl” is about two sisters who leave home to attend university. Rowell writes feelings and situations that resonate with the reader long after finishing the last page. Rowell created characters that are easily relatable. This book will bring up a variety of emotions and lend some new insight on the world and the people in it.

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9. “Hyperbole and a Half: Unfortunate Situations, Flawed Coping Mechanisms, Mayhem, and Other Things That Happened” by Allie Brosh

This book is a humoristic memoir and self-help book. Brosh gathered multiple pictures and stories that present humor and thoughtful ideas that sneak up on the reader. Brosh illustrates that sometimes life wont go as planned, and there is nothing wrong with that because we’re only human.

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10. “The Defining Decade: Why Your Twenties Matter And How to Make the Most of Them Now”

by Meg Jay

Written by a psychiatrist, this book is more of an instructional guide. This is a read for anyone who is in their twenties and trying to figure out what it is that they want in life. An array of subjects from career advice to love and everything in between are covered. With a seasoned perspective of twenty-somethings in mind.

Road Running pizza fresh, made to order

Road Running pizza fresh, made to order


When you crave pizza, you usually think to call up the closest Pizza Hut or Papa Johns. After eating at Road Running Wood Fired Pizza, you won’t be doing that again.

Each order starts with choosing your toppings, or a specialty pizza, like the Chicken Pesto or Hawaiian pizza.

Your order is made fresh right in front of you as the dough for your pizza is flattened out, topped with your cheese, meats and veggies and thrown right into the back of the mobile wood fired pizza oven.

After a few minutes of baking, the cheese has just begun to bubble into a sticky glue to hold your generous toppings onto the thin-crust pizza. It is pulled out, slapped on a plate and handed to you.

I ordered a pizza with ham and pineapple and they did not skimp on the toppings. The pineapple chunks were fresh and juicy, while the ham was cut in long strips that lined the full diameter of the pizza.

The personal pizzas range from $7 to $10 and are a little bigger than a paper plate, so you really get your money’s worth out of this mobile pizzeria.

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Owner Chip Augello slices and dices a fresh pizza, right out of the portable wood fired oven. (Alex Fruechtenicht/ Aztec Press)


FIRST BITE Mexican and Peruvian fusion

FIRST BITE Mexican and Peruvian fusion


Gigi’s Mexican and Peruvian Fusion food truck has been making stops at Pima Community College campuses in its lime green vehicle, ready to feed adventurous students.

Customers can choose from a variety of dishes, including sandwiches, burgers, tacos, fries and bowls.

Where does the “fusion” come in? Some ingredients in the typical Peruvian dishes aren’t available in North America, so they have been replaced with ingredients from Mexico.

One example is Peruvian aji hot peppers, which have been replaced by peppers available in Mexico.

Food truck owner Sandra Campana has been in business for almost two years, and Gigi’s Mexican and Peruvian Fusion has been growing and getting better since then.

“I love cooking at home,” Campana said. “So, why not have a food truck?”

Menu dishes that stick out are Campana’s Chimichurri Bowls and her Donut Bacon Burgers.

Customers who order a Chimichurri Bowl get carne asada drizzled with chimichurri sauce, served with avocado and salad over basmati rice.

Those who want to surprise their taste buds can try a Donut Bacon Burger. Who wouldn’t want a bite of a bacon cheeseburger served on a freshly glazed donut? The burger is paired with a side of crispy fries.

The dishes from Gigi’s Mexican Peruvian Fusion food truck range in price from $7-$9.

For some of that sweet and tangy chimichurri sauce, and the tender beef and chicken, take my money.

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PCC students waiting to tantalize their taste buds at Gigi’s Mexican and Peruvian Fusion food truck. (Shana Rose/Aztec Press)


Top 10 Fast food drive-through burgers

Top 10 Fast food drive-through burgers


Recently, my taste buddies and I went on a mission to find the best fast food burger you can get in a drive-through. All scores are based on averages out of 10 by myself and three others in three categories: appearance, texture and taste.

10. Wienerschnitzel

I guess it goes without saying that a place known for hot dogs would rank the lowest on a list for burgers. The Wienerschnitzel Chili Cheeseburger scored a 4.75 on taste, 3.5 for texture and 2.5 on appearance, clocking in an overall score of 3.5.

9. Whataburger

You’ve got to be pretty cocky to name your signature burger after your restaurant, and it seems like Whataburger is such a restaurant. The Whataburger made out with a taste and appearance score of 5.5, 4.5 in texture and a total score of 5.2

8. Sonic

I’ve got to say, I was surprised that Sonic didn’t rank higher, but the numbers don’t lie. The Super Sonic Cheeseburger was pretty disappointing, taking home a score of 6.25 in both taste and texture and a 4 in appearance, combining to an overall score of 5.5.

7. McDonald’s

More than two billion served doesn’t have to equate to the highest quality burger. The Big Mac recorded a taste score of 6.25, texture of 5 and appearance of 5.25, for an overall score of 5.5.

6. Jack in the Box

A burger is one thing, a cheeseburger is another, but Jack in the Box’s Classic Buttery Jack is on a whole new level. Rounding out with a 5.25 in taste, 4.25 in texture and 7.75 in appearance, the Classic Buttery Jack walked away with a 5.75 overall.

5. Wendy’s

While square burgers still need to prove themselves to the world, the quarter-pound burger from Wendy’s is certainly a step in the right direction. The quarter-pound burger scored 6.5 in taste and texture and a 4.75 in appearance, for an overall of 6.

4. Carl’s Jr.

As my friend Vincent Vega once said about a milkshakes, “I don’t know if it’s worth $5, but it’s pretty fuckin’ good.” Just swap out the shake for the Carl’s Jr. Six Dollar Burger, which scored 5.5 in taste, 7.5 in texture and 7 in appearance. It finished off with a 6.75 overall.

3. Del Taco

This was the first time I’ve ever been to Del Taco and I’ve got to say, I was pretty impressed that a place with taco in its name has an awesome burger. The Double Bacon Cheeseburger finished with a 7.5 in taste, 7 in texture and 5.75 in appearance, for an overall score of 6.75.

2. In-N-Out Burger

Not much of a surprise here. The Double Double scored a 6.75 in both taste and texture and a 7.75 in appearance, netting it an overall score of 7.

1. Burger King

A shocker to everyone, myself included, but BK came out in first place! The Whopper rated 7.5 for taste, 6.75 in texture and 8.75 in appearance, for a whopping 7.5 out of 10. Hail to the King, baby.

What fast food burger do you like best? Share your opinion online with a comment at 


A Double Double from In-N-Out Burger oozing luscious cheese awaits willing taste testers. An Aztec Press journalist, a culinary student, a musician and a retail employee walked into 10 burger joints in town and ranked their signature burgers using a precise scoring system. For science. Really. (Alex Fruechtenicht/ Aztec Press)


FIRST BITE Burger wrapped in ramen

FIRST BITE Burger wrapped in ramen


Fat Noodle, one of the food trucks in rotation at Pima Community College campuses, offers savory ramen with fresh vegetables and a locally-raised beef burger with unique flair.

It offers several options of ramen noodle dishes and the burger has a bun made of ramen. The noodles are made fresh in the food truck.

The basic noodle dish is the Noodle-Stir, for $6. The various vegetables that make up the Fat Slaw—fresh chives, purple cabbage, shredded carrot and lettuce—are crunchy and flavorful. This not-so-simple ramen also contains the special Fat Sauce and Dashi.

The Ramen #2, also $6, is basically the Noodle-Stir combined with a chicken-and-pork-based 10 Hour Broth.

The House Ramen, for $9, is the works. You get pickled shiitakes, local eggs, honey sesame pork and all the goods from the other noodle dishes.

You can add honey sesame pork, local fried eggs or double noodles on any of the ramen dishes for a few extra dollars. The dishes have enough food to be filling but not too much to finish the last little bit of slaw on the end of your chop-stick.

The Ramen Burger, which costs $8, is touted on the side of the food truck with the phrase “Home of the Ramen Burger.” Once you see the burger, it is no surprise that the bun is made with the home-made noodles. The ramen, compressed into a bun shape, stick out of the bun errantly here and there.

The burger comes with plenty of tomatoes and butter leaf lettuce and is topped off with a Sriracha ginger mayo and hoisin sauce. All the vegetables and meat in it are locally produced.

To try Fat Noodle, just look for the purple truck with a cartoon pig on it. He’s got a bowl on his head and is sucking down noodles—presumably the pork-free option.

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Students gather at Pima Community College’s unique noodle-dish food truck called the Fat Noodle. (Aztec Press photos by Danyelle Khmara)


FIRST BITE: Truck offers Italian flair

FIRST BITE: Truck offers Italian flair

Editor’s note: Pima Community College has replaced cafeteria meals with food trucks. Aztec Press is investigating the new options with fork in hand.


Jozarelli’s Italian Street Food is one of the sharpest looking food trucks parked out front of Pima Community College campuses.

While the concept is nothing new, Jozarelli’s separates itself from other food trucks by offering Italian cuisine ranging from pizza and calzones to pasta bowls and sandwich wraps.

When you order one of the many $6 to $9 dishes, you’ll be greeted with a smile and questions to ensure your selection arrives just how you want it.

Your food is made fresh when you order, which is great, but it may pose a problem if you are in a rush to grab a bite before class. Each dish takes around 10 minutes to make.

If you aren’t in a hurry, the truck has an outside television you can watch while your food is being prepared. Thankfully, if you have the time, the food is well worth it.

The dish I ordered, a spicy Italian sausage calzone for $7, was large enough to warrant the price.

The calzone was stuffed to the brim with cheese, basil, red peppers and, of course, sausage. The ingredients were fresh and still full of flavor, not old or bland, which was a worry for me going in.

The combination of friendly staff, a large menu, entertainment and quality of dishes really make Jozarelli’s a standout food truck at Pima.

Just don’t expect them to rush your order.

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The artistically decorated Jozarelli’s Italian Street Food truck awaits customers during a West Campus visit. (Alex Fruechtenicht/Aztec Press)


‘Spamalot’ auditions Dec. 1-3

‘Spamalot’ auditions Dec. 1-3

The Pima Community College theater department will hold auditions for its spring musical, “Monty Python’s Spamalot,” Dec. 1-3 in the West Campus Black Box Theatre from 6 p.m. until late each night.

Any PCC student is welcome to audition. Applicants must be present at all three auditions to be considered for a part.

Dec. 1: Dance audition

  • Wear comfortable clothes and appropriate shoes.
  • A short routine will be taught, then assigned groups of 10 will perform the routine.

Dec. 2: Singing audition

  • Choose an appropriate song from a musical.
  • Sixteen bars is recommended, and 32 bars is the maximum.
  • Bring sheet music for piano accompaniment. (A cappella not recommended.)

Dec. 3: Acting audition

  • Read from provided sides.
  • Sides will be available on Monday night.

The cast list will be posted the morning of Dec 4. First rehearsal is Dec. 5 at 6 p.m., with introductions, script handout and first read-through. The show will run Feb. 26-March 8.

For more information, contact Todd Poelstra at

-By Katie Stewart

(Photo courtesy of PCC Center for the Arts)

(Photo courtesy of PCC Center for the Arts)


Listen up, go see 'Philip'

Listen up, go see ‘Philip’


In director Alex Perry’s “Listen Up Philip,” Jason Shwartzman plays arrogant egocentric writer Philip Friedman, who lives in the city with his girlfriend Ashley, played by Elisabeth Moss.

Struggling to make headway on his newest novel, Friedman is offered to stay at the rural summer home of a once-famed writer named Ike Zimmerman, played by Jonathan Pryce, and his daughter Melanie played by Krysten Ritter.

This movie really excels at it is getting the viewers to despise the protagonist, which is everything but unintentional.

Shwartzman’s character has little regard for others emotions as he is afraid of people seeing him as anything other than a great literary entity.

Pryce’s character tries to channel his former glory through Philip, but constantly belittles him and justifies destructive characteristics by making him believe that if you are great you are entitled to be a vulgarian.

The comedy is supposed to come from how insufferable the characters are, which is not as funny as it is painfully realistic. This worked for and against the film.

Philip and Ike are so unlikable, but instead of being over the top and goofy as it may have been intended, it comes off as really believable and upsetting.

The film, a dramatic dark comedy featuring Shwartzman as a writer in the city, draws some parallels, including its main actor, with the HBO series “Bored to Death.”

The movie occasionally side steps to the stories of Ashley and Melanie who are affected the most by the selfishness of both men.

This gave me someone to root for, hoping that they both are eventually able to distance themselves from their poisonous relationships, which was ironically what Philip initially set out to do for himself.

Genuinely ingenious, Perry made a film where the focus of the picture is two static megalomaniacs that really exist to develop the more dynamic side characters.

Despite the main characters being detestable beyond belief, I still recommend seeing this movie. In the end, it was satisfying to get through all the pretentious babble for the last few scenes.

“Listen Up Philip” is opening theatrically at The Loft on Friday Nov 21. For times and ticket information, go to

‘Underground Sonics’ achieves timeless sound

‘Underground Sonics’ achieves timeless sound


“Critical Music Presents: Underground Sonics” is a compilation that keeps my soul on tempo with Afrika Bambaataa while looking for the perfect beat.

The Drum & Bass album contains 18 tracks featuring a collection of artists including Emperor, The Upbeats, Phace and the recently formed trio Ivy Lab, to name a few.

Every tune on “Underground Sonics” contains a uniform, but simultaneously distinct sound. And, Critical Music set an extraordinary high water mark which has affected me like few other beautiful opuses.

Every track is blissfully haunting, uniquely flawless and brilliantly complex. But currently two tracks are fueling my heart, coloring the view of my days and enchanting my dreams.

Mefjus & InsideInfo’s “Repentance” is the exorcism of frighteningly monstrous spiritual demons. This techy-rolling hymnal has washed these frequency-fornicators of all transgressions. The track possesses rich rhythmic layers, an absolving warm bass-line and drum-kicks that thunder a relentless path to redemption.

However, the masterpiece of “Underground Sonics” is Dub Phizix’s “The Clock Ticks.”

Every time my ear catches a hint of this track I am forced to pause, just breathe and enjoy a beautiful shiver up my spine.

This tune is simple, but gorgeously hypnotic and flavored with a patient swell that breaks suddenly into a warm, sauntering groove. “The Clock Ticks” insists I recall the early years of Drum & Bass when tracks deliberately took their time to seduce your ears.

“The Clock Ticks” is the type of track that never completely leaves you, like a lover you have yet to forget or the hometown you walked away from but still dream about. The mesmerizing wave of sound strolls with a tempo that mimics your mind, attempting to calculate when to reach for a life-changing  first kiss.

I implore you to schedule a listen of “Underground Sonics.” The world needs to enjoy the musical gifts that slow our irreplaceable and most valuable asset called time.

All of the free Critical Music Podcasts can be found here.

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Critical Music

‘Amplify KXCI’ turns up the volume

‘Amplify KXCI’ turns up the volume


Tucson community radio station KXCI has been a pillar of the local music scene for 30 years.

Since its debut broadcast in December 1983, the station has connected the community with countless musicians, non-profit organizations and events.

For 25 of those years, KXCI has called the downtown Armory Park neighborhood its headquarters. The building where staff and volunteers hang their headphones is a large home built sometime between 1904 and 1906.

The historic quirks of the space complement KXCI’s eclectic identity, but the time has come to upgrade. And with its current fundraising campaign, the station’s longtime dreams of improvement are well on their way.

Amplify KXCI launched with the intent to raise $750,000. The initiative focuses on four major tasks: signal expansion, building rehabilitation, technology upgrades and an endowment plan.

The primary goal was to expand the station’s limited coverage throughout the city with a new auxiliary transmitter.

“We are over halfway there at $382,000,” KXCI General Manager Randy Peterson said. “The first goal of the campaign was to get an antenna to increase our reception. We will be placing those orders in February for delivery and installation in early summer.”

KXCI currently broadcasts its signal from Mount Bigelow, reaching only downtown and central Tucson. The new transmitter will significantly improve signal for current listeners and expand it to the Catalina Foothills and Northwest Tucson.

The station also plans to expand its recording studio, Studio 2A. The studio has been a part of KXCI for 12 years and has hosted hundreds of live performances by local and national talent.

“We never finished making it look better or really had professional-grade acoustics,” Peterson said. “We’re also being held back by not having as many trained folks as we would like.”

With the funds allotted to building improvements, the station hopes to make 2A a relevant space for quality audio and video recordings.

KXCI staff want to purchase two stationary video cameras, improve acoustics and modernize current equipment.

The projected funds would also allow staff to train volunteers in recording and engineering skills to help accommodate more performances.

Since it is a nonprofit organization, KXCI places high value on volunteer services.

“As a volunteer, it’s fun to work on a project that you really believe in,” KXCI Community Engagement Director Amanda Shauger said. “It’s fun to be a part of things.”

Shauger began volunteering as a substitute disc jockey in August 1998 before becoming a full-time staff member in April 2010.

“It’s fun to be able to reach out to people from all parts of the community to find how their unique talents and gifts will help out the station,” she said.

Currently, the station has about 75-80 on-air volunteers.

The studio teaches a free DJ/Programmer training class for potential volunteers about three times a year. Demand for the course is high, so most applicants will be put on a waiting list.

Upon completing the four-week course, students have many options to aid the station. Volunteers participate in events and membership drives, and have the potential to DJ on-air.

The newest outlets for unpaid DJs are podcasts and “mini programs” available online.

The highest need for volunteers is in the music department. The studio receives about 100 CDs each week along with digital downloads. Volunteer help is necessary to review, label and file each album that arrives.

Contributions to the Amplify Campaign can be made at

For more information on KXCI, visit For volunteer inquiries, email Amanda Shauger at


For movie buffs, new year means award season

For movie buffs, new year means award season


Every new year brings many annual events, from football playoffs to the start of a new semester. For stars of the big screen, the new year means award season.

From the Golden Globe and Screen Actors Guild honors to the prestigious Academy Awards, it’s the playoffs for film stars and movie creators.

Actors and directors have their hard work recognized as films from the previous year earn nominations and accolades from different groups around the world.

Movies from the past like “Gone with the Wind,” which earned eight Academy Awards in 1939, and the legendary “Titanic,” which earned 11 Oscars in 1997, continue to set the standard for filmmakers and audiences alike.

Motion pictures will live on, but so too will the many actors, screenwriters, directors, producers and composers who breathe life into these masterpieces.

Actors who’ve won multiple awards throughout the years, such as Jack Nicholson, Daniel Day Lewis, Katherine Hepburn and Meryl Streep, have taken movie making to its truest art form.

The same is true for directors like Steven Spielberg, who won best director for films like “Schindler’s List” and “Saving Private Ryan,” and John Ford, who won four Academy Awards for movies like “The Grapes of Wrath.”

The annual award season can also make or break an actor’s career.

Jennifer Lawrence lost the Best Actress category in 2011 for her role in “Winter’s Bone” but went on to star in the franchise “The Hunger Games” as Katniss Everdeen. She won an Oscar in 2013 for “Silver Linings Playbook” as Tiffany Maxwell for Best Actress in a Leading Role.

Lawrence is now a global sensation, most recently earning a Best Actress in a Supporting Role nomination for the film “American Hustle.”

However, winning an Oscar doesn’t guarantee overnight success or household recognition.

The actor Jean Dujardin starred in the film “The Artist” and won in the Best Actor category in 2012. Dujardin hasn’t really been heard from since.

The award season also alerts audiences to see the films that have been nominated. Unknown writers, directors and actors can utilize the award season buzz and get their name out to the public.

David O. Russell, who is both a director and writer, is finally getting feedback and praise for his character-driven films like “Silver Linings Playbook,” “The Fighter” and “American Hustle.”

His latest film, “American Hustle,” is about survival of the fittest in a sense, with some betrayal. It is filled with raw dialogue that leaves viewers quoting each scene.

Some of those consumers wouldn’t be in theaters if there weren’t awards to promote the films, actors and movie makers every year.

Gitesh Pandya of made that point about “American Hustle,” writing, “With its incredible star power and awards buzz, ‘American Hustle’ led all the newly minted Best Picture Oscar nominees with an estimated $10.6 million for a hearty 28 percent jump.”

Who will win the 2014 Academy Awards?

It’s a tie for Best Actor in a Leading Role, judging by early awards. Leonardo DiCaprio and Matthew McConaughey have each earned Golden Globe and Critics Choice awards.

The Best Actress in a Leading Role will obviously go to Cate Blanchett for her role in “Blue Jasmine,” directed by Woody Allen.

Jared Leto will win the Best Actor in a Supporting Role award for his role in “Dallas Buyers Club.” He has already won his first Golden Globe, Critics Choice award and Screen Actors Guild award.

Lawrence is tied with newcomer Lupita Nyong’o, who gained buzz for her role as Patsey in “12 Years a Slave.” Lawrence won the Golden Globe for Best Supporting Actress and Nyong’o won the Screen Actors Guild award.

I predict Nyong’o will win for her stunning performance.

The magic of award season brings excitement for aspects ranging from screenwriting to acting. Many little things add up to one major artistic creation: the motion picture.

Academy Award nominations for 2014

The live Oscar presentation will take place March 2 on ABC. Nominations include:

Best Picture:

  • “12 Years a Slave”
  • “American Hustle”
  • “Captain Phillips”
  • “Dallas Buyers Club”
  • “Gravity”
  • “Her”
  • “Nebraska”
  • “Philomena”
  • “The Wolf of Wall Street”

Best Director:

  • Alfonso Cuarón – “Gravity”
  • Steve McQueen – “12 Years a Slave”
  • Alexander Payne – “Nebraska”
  • David O. Russell – “American Hustle”
  • Martin Scorsese – “The Wolf of Wall Street”

Best Actor in a Leading Role:

  • Christian Bale – “American Hustle” as Irving Rosenfeld
  • Bruce Dern – “Nebraska” as Woody Grant
  • Leonardo DiCaprio – “The Wolf of Wall Street” as Jordan Belfort
  • Chiwetel Ejiofor – “12 Years a Slave” as Solomon Northup
  • Matthew McConaughey – “Dallas Buyers Club” as Ron Woodroof

Best Actress in a Leading Role:

  • Amy Adams – “American Hustle” as Sydney Prosser
  • Cate Blanchett – “Blue Jasmine” as Jeanette “Jasmine” Francis
  • Sandra Bullock – “Gravity” as Dr. Ryan Stone
  • Judi Dench – “Philomena” as Philomena Lee
  • Meryl Streep – “August: Osage County” as Violet Weston

Best Actor in a Supporting Role:

  • Barkhad Abdi – “Captain Phillips” as Abduwali Muse
  • Bradley Cooper – “American Hustle” as Richard “Richie” DiMaso
  • Michael Fassbender – “12 Years a Slave” as Edwin Epps
  • Jonah Hill – “The Wolf of Wall Street” as Donnie Azoff
  • Jared Leto – “Dallas Buyers Club” as Rayon

Best Actress in a Supporting Role:

  • Sally Hawkins – “Blue Jasmine” as Ginger
  • Jennifer Lawrence – “American Hustle” as Rosalyn Rosenfeld
  • Lupita Nyong’o – “12 Years a Slave” as Patsey
  • Julia Roberts – “August: Osage County” as Barbara Weston-Fordham
  • June Squibb – “Nebraska” as Kate Grant

Best Writing – Original Screenplay:

  • “American Hustle” – Eric Warren Singer and David O. Russell
  • “Blue Jasmine” – Woody Allen
  • “Dallas Buyers Club” – Craig Borten and Melisa Wallack
  • “Her” – Spike Jonze
  • “Nebraska” – Bob Nelson

Best Writing – Adapted Screenplay:

  • “Before Midnight” – Richard Linklater, Julie Delpy and Ethan Hawke
  • “Captain Phillips” – Billy Ray
  • “Philomena” – Steve Coogan and Jeff Pope
  • “12 Years a Slave” – John Ridley
  • “The Wolf of Wall Street” – Terence Winter
SandScript wins regional award

SandScript wins regional award


SandScript, Pima Community College’s literary magazine, has again won first place in regional competition.

For the second in a row, SandScript brought home first-place honors in the Southwest division of the Annual Literary Magazine Competition hosted by the Community College Humanities Association.

The CCHA, founded in 1979, is a national organization dedicated to preserving and strengthening humanities in two-year colleges.

Each year, CCHA selects regional winners from Central, Eastern, Pacific Western, Southern and Southwestern divisions. It then names one national winner from the five finalists.

Faculty adviser Joshua Cochran said SandScript continues to improve each year, and hopes are high for the 2014 edition. The staff’s goal is to win the CCHA national award.

SandScript, which displays an artistic array of poetry, prose and visual art, is published annually during the spring semester.

Students enroll in a West Campus class, WRT 164 – Literary Magazine Workshop. They spend the semester evaluating and compiling works submitted by PCC students and employees.

Submissions are accepted during fall and spring time periods. Fall entries can be submitted through Dec. 1. The entry period will reopen in the spring, with submissions accepted through March 1.

PCC students who enrolled for at least two credits during Summer/Fall 2013 or who enroll during Spring 2014 are eligible to submit.

Cochran urged submitters to read the genre-specific guidelines very carefully. Failing to follow the guidelines may result in submissions being declared ineligible.

Options to obtain SandScript guidelines and submission forms include:

  • Email
  • Visit online at
  • Visit the Facebook fan page at


Jurassic Park 3D roars into theaters

Jurassic Park 3D roars into theaters


Jurassic Park posterSteven Spielberg’s iconic movie featuring killer dinosaurs running amok is back in theaters, this time containing eye-popping 3D effects that will immerse you on an island teeming with hungry man-eating beasts.

Hang on to your butts.

“Jurassic Park 3D” grabs audiences from the fear-inducing opening scene until the ending credits as viewers follow Alan Grant (Sam Neill), Ellie Sattler (Laura Dern) and Ian Malcolm (Jeff Goldblum) through their harrowing tale of prehistoric mayhem.

Not long after John Hammond (Richard Attenborough) invites the three to inspect his theme park featuring cloned T-rexes and Velociraptors, things start to go wrong, thanks in part to the mischievous computer-programmer-turned-corporate-spy Dennis Nerdy (Wayne Knight).

Not even the legendary Samuel L. Jackson, in his role as head programmer Ray Arnold, can prevent people from being hunted and mutilated by the ravenous reptiles.

Although the release of “Jurassic Park 3D” commemorates 20 years since the original film hit theaters, many of the points featured in the movie are just as poignant today.

A reoccurring theme in the film revolves around mankind’s loss of respect for nature, and humans believing they can control everything.

“Your scientists were so preoccupied with whether or not they could that they didn’t stop to think if they should,” Malcolm warns.

In our modern world where cloning continues to develop and genetically modified organisms are showing up on grocery store shelves, the message hits close to home.

Cyber espionage and reliance on automation are also explored in Spielberg’s romp through a prehistoric theme-park, juxtaposing the past, present and future into a kaleidoscope of chaos and carnage.

As government officials warn us daily of digital attacks, the images of Nerdy taking down the groundwork of Jurassic Park with a few keystrokes should make everyone think twice about the systems that maintain our own electricity, water and other vital infrastructure.

“Jurassic Park” won Academy Awards for Best Sound Mixing, Best Sound Editing, and Best Visual effects when it was first released. Now, those award-winning effects have been upgraded with 3D graphics that makes viewers cringe and squeal with every snap of dinosaur jaws.

The graphics and musical score “are top of the line. Spared no expense,” as Jurassic Park’s creator Hammond would say.

Whether making a return visit or your first trip, the journey to Jurassic Park is well worth the price of admission. Just make sure to hang on tight.