• Black Friday now begins on Thanksgiving Thursday

    One of the biggest shopping days of the year, Black Friday, may have some stiff competition when it comes to Thanksgiving Thursday.

    In a celebration of true American capitalism, several of the nation’s biggest stores are opening their doors on Thanksgiving night. If previous years are any indication of 2013’s turnout, customers will be lining up outside store doors hours before they open for business.

    Those willing to combat the Black Friday madness are rewarded with special promotions and pricing. The early birds who leave their homes at 4 a.m. are rewarded the most, which is appropriate because they're out shopping before their Thanksgiving meals have even been digested.

    While I am in full support of starting the Christmas shopping season with a sale, I have to wonder if retail stores opening on Thanksgiving Day is worth it.

    Last year, I decided to participate in the annual Black Friday sale after some convincing from my sister. For three hours I scoured the store ads, circling every item I wanted with a think red pen. After standing in the cold with other competitive shoppers for two hours, the doors opened and frenzied customers ran in every direction. The advertised items were stocked on end caps and in the middle of aisles with displays at every entrance. In the midst of the excitement, or maybe just the hunger for a bargain, people were trampled, checkout lines were endless and items were sold out within minutes. In a mere ten minutes the store had turned into a zoo. And what for? A deeply discounted wristwatch? What happened to the meaning behind Thanksgiving Day?

    To quote Bob Dylan, the times, they are a-changing. Thanksgiving is now about more than family and food. It's turning into a feast to prepare the shoppers for battle early the next morning, or possibly even that night. 

    So to the wave of crazed customers and early birds who end up saving $100 on that new Nikon Coolpix, I say congratulations. After one failed attempt at Black Friday shopping, I have thrown in my shopping shoes and called it quits.

    Come Thursday night, I will be sticking to my own Thanksgiving tradition — sitting fireside, eating a slice of homemade pumpkin pie and watching “A Charlie Brown Thanksgiving."

  • The Music that was popular on November 22, 1963: the day that JFK was assassinated

    In many ways, music can be the heartbeat of a time period. In 1963, America was still a country of doo-wop and twisters. The music that was popular on the day that JFK was assassinated 50 years ago can give insight to the minds of the American people at that time, and help transport modern readers back to the early 60s. 

    So, here, have a Spotify playlist: 






  • Missing: Miley's eyebrows (updated)

    This photo, published on Miley Cyrus's Instagram account, displays the pop star's missing brown eyebrows. 
    This photo, published on Miley Cyrus's Instagram account, displays the pop star's missing brown eyebrows. 


    UPDATE (11/25/2013):

    Cyrus' brown eyebrows returned on or around November 23. A photograph posted on her Instagram shows the eyebrows back on her forehead where they belong. Fans and followers of her account released a collective sigh of relief.

    "Thank you for your eyebrow back," said @rileyiatkinson, in a statement that sums up the sentiment for the entire Miley nation.

    Original post:

    Last seen in Los Angeles, Calif. on Tuesday on Cyrus' forehead.

    The pair of brown eyebrows were last seen Tuesday night in an Instagram picture Cyrus posted with one of her dogs. The brown eyebrows presumably went missing sometime between the time Cyrus posted the aforementioned picture with her dog and Wednesday evening, when another picture on the pop star's Instagram showed the eyebrows had been bleached.

    No mention of the bleached hair has been made by Cyrus. As of 2 p.m. on Thursday, three Instagram pictures on her personal account showed a severe lack of distinction between what is hair and what is skin.

    Fans and followers of Cyrus' Instragram account appear to be far more concerned than the pop star herself. Cries of concern litter the comments on Cyrus' three most recent posts. 

    "Dear God, please help this your daughter who has lost her way. Help her find her way to you. Amen," @808kuualoha said.

    Other users are in such dismay, they are unable to write complete sentences.

    "Where are you eyebrows," @laurenssprague said.

    Other followers are concerned and offer consolation and advice to Cyrus in this trying time.

    "I bet everyone who claims you as their idol is so embarrased to call you their idol now … you need to get off whatever drugs you are on and take a good look in the mirror and realize that you have hit rock bottom, and you need HELP," @x_o_xoxo said. "Please Miley I don't say this out of hate, I say it out of love  Please seek professional help. I don't know you peronsally but I see that you are screaming for attention and you are trying to be someone you aren't. You need professional attention."

    Cyrus' brown eyebrows are not believed to be in danger at this time. Anyone with news regarding the location of the brown hair should contact Cyrus immediately. No reward has been posted as of yet. 

  • "Chicago" comes to Austin

    “Chicago” has everything: money, murder, sex, and “Razzle Dazzle.” I have inexplicitly found myself humming “Cell Block Tango” on multiple occasions. So when I heard the national tour was coming to the Bass Concert Hall, there was no doubt I would attend.

    Based on real 1920s events, “Chicago” tells the story of murderer Roxie Hart, as she gains fame during her trial, and murderer Velma Kelly, a washed up star, trying to regain the same fame.

    The musical production is very different from the 2002 film version. Rather than shifting from location to location, the entire live show is performed in the courtroom, with the story told through vaudevillian style musical acts. The musical a less realistic feel than the film and emphasizes the idea that Hart’s trial is a performance.

    The musical’s showiness allows the cast to interact directly with the audience and the characters become caricatures at points. This over the top style of the show does make emotional connection to the characters more difficult though.

    “Chicago” is known for its minimalist staging, so I was not surprised when the stage was sparse. The set, as well as costuming, was completely colorless, with the exception of a few gold accents. There were some movable chairs and a ladder on each end of the stage, but the majority of the set was composed of a black bleacher-like structure that mimicked a jury box in a courtroom. This is where the orchestra sat for the entirety of the show. The characters would playfully interact with the musicians and directors, which added a fun dynamic.

    Stand out moments included “Tap Dance,” Roxie’s monologue and "Mister Cellophane." In “The Tap Dance” Billy Flynn (John O’Hurley) uses Roxie as a literal puppet to tell the media what they need to hear for her to be freed from jail. Roxie’s monologue, before the musical number “Roxie” was actress Anne Horak’s most truthful moment in the show. Todd Buonopane’s number "Mister Cellophane" left me feeling sorry for his always ignored character Amos Hart.

    Terra C. MacLeod’s performance as Velma Kelly was particularly great. She played Kelly as a true show woman, constantly trying to sell herself as a star. MacLeod managed to balance Kelly’s show business persona with truth.

    Overall, “Chicago” was an entertaining show, true to the musical’s original vaudevillian style. With all of the engaging numbers and characters, it is no wonder “Chicago” is the longest running Broadway show. 

  • Playlist of the week: week 10

    A weekly playlist made from songs released the week before, complete with commentary by Kris Ohlendorf.

    Lady Gaga feat. R. Kelly – “Do What U Want”

    With every new Gaga album comes a typically outlandish Gaga event. To elaborately release Artpop, she held the artRave, which was a huge concert complete with a giant statue of herself (if Kanye had done that, everyone would have thrown a hissy-fit). Of course, there had to be a coupe-de-grace of Gaga-ness at this event, so she debuted a bizarre flying dress that hovered her a few feet above the ground, because the only thing better than Lady Gaga is flying Lady Gaga. Anyways, this is  the big single off of her new album, featuring the always magnificent R. Kelly. 

    Blood Orange – “You’re Not Good Enough”

    British musician and producer Dev Hynes, A.K.A. Lightspeed Champion, A.K.A. Blood Orange, released his second album under his third moniker, Cupid Deluxe. The songwriter has spanned quite a few genres during his career, and on his newest release he finds himself fulfilling an `80s new-wave funk role. “You’re Not Good Enough” covers these grounds well, with a slapped bass and muted guitar fueling the background music. Hynes’ airy vocals lay on top, creating a song that is of the past but could only have come out in the present.

    Cut Copy – “Meet Me in a House of Love”

    Cut Copy’s newest album Free Your Mind is possibly their best yet. This is evident on huge club-thumping tracks like “Meet Me in a House of Love.” The gigantic track starts off with a simple beat and early-00’s era trance riff, before falling into an 80s pop epic. Crank that bass and hit the dance floor.

    Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs  – “Our Lips Are Sealed”

    The third volume in Matthew Sweet and Susanna Hoffs’ collaborative Under the Covers... album cycle comes with another set of covers. Following suit with Blood Orange and Cut Copy, this album is another throwback to the `80s. Their cover of The GoGo’s “Our Lips Are Sealed” is a fun listen, and makes one question just how much pop music both has and hasn’t changed in the past thirty years.

    Moonface – “Barbarian”

    Ex-Wolf Parade frontman Spencer Krug’s solo project Moonface just released their fourth album, Julia With Blue Jeans On. A record composed entirely of Krug’s voice and piano, it’s a tour de force in expressive songwriting. The album’s powerful opening track “Barbarian” is a swooning tune that displays Krug’s talent. His intricate piano playing and emotional voice combine perfectly with the song’s heavy metaphorical lyrics to create a style at the crossroads between Elton John and Bon Iver. 

    Grizzly Bear – “Taken Down (Marfa Demo)”

    Brooklyn band Grizzly Bear just released Shields: B-Sides, a collection of songs recorded during their Shields sessions that didn’t make the cut. The band is no stranger to releasing side-albums, having put out their previous B-Side collection Friend EP and even an album entirely remixing their debut Horn of Plenty. The B-Sides found in their most recent collection are more than just scraps, though. They still form a coherent narrative of unfurnished tracks. “Taken Down” is a classic Grizzly Bear melancholic pop tune, and sounds like a throwback to their Yellow House days.

    Mount Eerie – “House Shape – Pre-Human Version”

    Phil Elverum’s project Mount Eerie has gone through low-fi folk, dream pop, drone and black metal since its conception in 2004. He continues the eccentrics of this act on his newest album Pre-Human Ideas, which are re-recordings of previous Mount Eerie songs through programs on his Mac. His new version of “House Shape” sounds something like a 90s MIDI tune. His strange vocals make for a questionable but interesting listen.