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Alternative darlings,
Imagine Dragons,
pack U.S. Airways Center

Recent Grammy winners play to exuberant crowd



imagine dragons

“Imagine Dragons” recently won the Grammy for best rock performance.
                 
With only one album, “Night Visions,” they garnered a following after their single, “Radioactive,” hit number one. Their band of alternative rock appeals to a wider audience that the typical indie-hipster crowd. I am interested to see how an upcoming band with only a little over a dozen songs can fill and entertain an arena audience on the strength of one album and a few hit songs.


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Janelle Monae entertains and empowers audience
Soul singer brings freshness and high energy to pop music



The stage is stark white and rich black at Tempe’s Marquee Theatre Singer-guitarist, Roman Gianarthur just finishes his set and now we wait patiently for headliner Janelle Monae to appear. The lights go back on and reveal an all-male band dressed in frosty white. One of the band members comes forward to announce the arrival Janelle Monae and then quickly exits. Monae starts singing the jazzy sounding “Give ‘Em What They Love.” As soon as Monae begins dancing, I feel the energy immediately rise in the theatre. Many of us cannot help but join in the dance and move along with the rhythm as she launches into her upbeat boogie song, “Dance Apocalyptic.” I can picture this lively number in a 1930s black and white musical.
                 
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'Star Wars' film classic
Navajo translation of timeless science fiction features brilliant dialogue



Being Navajo in this country has its pluses and minuses. However, when one of the most popular motion pictures of all time has been translated into the Navajo language, the scales tend to tip up just a bit.

Last year, the brilliant idea of translating the film “Star Wars” into the Navajo language became tangible. The idea was unheard of by many, but based upon a single viewing of this Navajo-language edition of “Star Wars,” the translators succeeded.

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Pete Seeger dies at 94
Folk singer remained optimistic activist
'til the very end



The much beloved singer, songwriter and political activist, Pete Seeger, passed away on Jan. 27 at the age of 94. He was a constant fixture in the folk scene where he will be sorely missed but his musical influence and activism lives on in artists he influenced: Bob Dylan, Joan Baez, Woody Guthrie, Bonnie Raitt, Bruce Springsteen, Natalie Mains and Tom Morello.  Morello of Rage Against the Machine said on his Twitter site, “RIP Pete Seeger. Absolutely the best humans can aspire to be. A courageous, kind, fearless soul.”  Perfect words to describe this American icon.”

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Union 32 Jazz Festival spotlights dynamic perfection
PVCC event provides musicians a platform for unique jazz styles

Jazz has always been renowned for musicianship and talent, enabling it a level sustainability that can only be compared with classical orchestra music. There is a complexity that exists within Jazz that has paved the way for all sorts of music in the once future that we now call our past. Darwin once hypothesized that if a species reached perfection it would stop evolving, or at the least, would need to evolve very little over time. In the field of music, this hypothesis must conclude that Jazz is perfection.

The Paradise Valley Community College Union 32 Jazz Festival featured a sampling of that dynamic perfection at the Center for Performing Arts on Feb. 7 and 8. Audiences were serenaded by the sounds of Kneebody, along with The Union 32 Jazz All-Stars, Running from Bears, and Odd Man Out.

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Apps of the Month:
New column reviews hidden gems,
games, social media


Smartphones have dominated everyday life with their ease of use and multitude of applications. However, with over 1 million apps to choose from, separating the good from the bad can be a challenge. To ease the process, in this column I  will be picking what I think are some of the best apps out there for your review. This month, these include an alternative to Snapchat, social apps to keep you connected, and games for both casual and core gamers.
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'Thor: The Dark World'
delivers spectacular sequel



Thursday, Nov.7, theaters opened their doors for the first early showings of Marvel’s highly anticipated “Thor: The Dark World.” The sequel for the Asgardian had been highly anticipated by fans since the end of the Avengers movie. Now Thor would once more pick up the legendary hammer to defend the Earth and his own home world from destruction.
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'Serious guitar music geeks'
gather at casino
Guitar hero Steve Vai hypnotizes
Chandler audience



Entering through the large glass-and-gold chrome doors at Wild Horse Pass Casino is very daunting to me.  I am immediately hit by the brightness of flashing prismatic lights above the rows of slot machines. So much color in the huge high ceiled, ornately decorated room. Totally lost and overwhelmed in this vast room, I ask the serious looking female guard directions to the theater.  The concert hall will not be hard to find but walking through a smoky room full of zombie like people with glazed-over eyes, sitting mesmerized by slot machines frightens me. The only time a customer moves or show signs of life is when the portable drink cart comes by. I walk by tables where games I have never played are in process while the players sit there intently. The only positive thing about wandering through this maze of daze is hearing Led Zeppelin over their excellent sound system.
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'Life After Death' both haunts and inspires
West Memphis Three's Echols reveals details of life on death row


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“I have two definitions for the word ‘magick.’ The first is knowing that I can effect change through my own will, even behind these bars; and the other meaning is more experimental—seeing beauty for a moment in the midst of the mundane ,” says Damien Echols from his book, “Life After Death.”

Magick, as defined by Echols, becomes pivotal to his existence as he sits on death row. Even if you are not familiar with Echols or the West Memphis Three, you will find his autobiography, “Life After Death,” both intriguing and informative.

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Action packed 'Pompeii' disappoints despite dazzling special effects




Paul W.S. Anderson’s “Pompeii” is a fast - paced and intense film, packed with fighting.

It reeks with modern clichés that do not accurately represent the dialogue of the ancient Romans, and it fails to tell the full story of how a slave named Milo, portrayed by “Game of Thrones’” Kit Harrington, became the gladiator called “The Celt.” Nevertheless the movie told the tragic tale of how Milo met the love of his life, Cassia, portrayed by Emily Browning.

The film opens showing bodies of Mt. Vesuvius’ victim’s in Pompeii. Then flashes to Milo is a little boy when his tribe is murdered by the conquering Romans. Afterward, he is captured by slave holders. Then becomes a grown gladiator. There i s a problem in the plot with Milo’s transition from being a lost orphan to becoming a powerful gladiator.
 

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'Dead Rising 3' exemplifies Xbox One's power


Early adopters of Xbox One will have to look no further than “Dead Rising 3” to see the technological improvement of the newest generation of consoles. The developers at Capcom took advantage of Xbox One power to craft a free roaming zombie game that actually feels like millions of zombies have taken over. It’s not all doom and gloom, however, as the goofy atmosphere from previous “Dead Rising” games is also present to create one of the most unique experiences for the Xbox One.

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Apps of the month
'Spermy's Journey,' 'Viddy,' highlight April's apps


  

Have you ever been to the butcher and wanted some advice for the cut you’re getting? Well, just like the commercial says, “There’s an app for that.” This month’s features include apps for those who are planning barbeques, shooting video for friends, and looking for games that bring entertainment for hours.

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The Doors' Densmore
draws crowd at Zia

Fans wait up to three hours
for drummer's autograph



 

When I open Facebook a wave of excitement comes over me when I see in bold letters “John Densmore of the Doors” Book Signing at Zia, 3201 S. Mill Ave. Tempe, AZ, Dec. 13th 7 p.m.,” in my news feed. After I get over my surprise, I begin planning how to make sure I get this famous Rock and Roll Hall of Fame inducted drummer’s autograph.  First step is to find my copy of his book, “The Doors: Unhinged,” which I previously purchased at Zia Records during Record Store Day.
           
After replaying these magnificent memories over again, I start sharing Zia’s post with friends on Facebook, hoping a friend will go since it will be a long wait in line.
           
Friday, Dec. 13th arrives and I head off for the new Zia Record store in Tempe with Densmore’s’ book.  Luckily, I had stuck the receipt inside it because it is required for the signing.  My friends have previous plans so I will be standing in the dreaded line alone.  
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'Wolf of Wall Street':
Scorsese creates compelling, controversial film


Martin Scorsese’s, “The Wolf of Wall Street,” is a fast, funny, and filthy insight into the world of excess money, drugs, and fraud. It’s no secret that this film reeks of controversy, and the audience receives that message crystal clear. It tells the story of Jordan Belfort, a young stockbroker portrayed by Leonardo DiCaprio, who manages to make major bank at the expense of the American public. Belfort learns his ways from an older broker-guru (portrayed by Matthew McConaughey), and then transitions into starting his own company called Stratton Oakmont after briefly working on Wall Street.
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Assassin's Creed Liberation HD
Remake delivers superb gameplay, irritating bugs


 “Assassin’s Creed Liberation HD” is a remake of “Assassin’s Creed 3: Liberation” for the PlayStation Vita and developed by Ubisoft Sofia in hopes of bringing the handheld experience to consoles. While they succeeded in scaling up the handheld experience to home consoles, the game still suffers from the shortcomings of the original.
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Springsteen again
'High Hopes' re-imagines
his own work, remakes others'



When word spread around the Internet that a new Bruce Springsteen album was in the works for an early 2014 release, social network posts showed very low expectations.

After playing this album nonstop for the last three weeks, I am confident the album’s name and title track fits the feeling music fans will have from now on for upcoming Springsteen projects — “High Hopes.”
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Zia Record Exchange creates
pop culture wonderland

Customers find smoking deals, rare items and astounding variety



Batman greets me when I walk through door at the Thunderbird Zia Record Exchange. The molded plastic superhero is at the front of the store as part of a four-foot barrel-shaped-black-plastic-cooler with a Mountain Dew logo. And he is for sale.  The caped crusader is just the first unusual or unexpected item I will find in the store. The new Superman cardboard DVD display is fittingly right next to Batman and a section of the back wall is strictly devoted to superhero gift items.  As I walk through the rows of used and new merchandise I see: DVDs, Blu-rays, comic books, video games, CDs and Vinyl. I feel as though I am walking through a maze as down each row I find unexpected merchandise.  There are bright pattern socks, traditional board games, used turntables, a variety of speakers, musical instruments, sodas in glass bottles, rock and film posters, Beatle gift items, recycle bags with Edgar Allen Poe and David Bowie logos, and special edition boxed sets of albums and CDs. Used CD sets start out around $25 for a 4 disc Kiss set while a newly pressed Beatles vinyl set sells for $499.
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