Archive for April, 2011
Here’s a fact that will bring pause to most veteran gamers out there: “Mortal Kombat” is almost 20 years old.
That’s right, “Mortal Kombat” — the granddaddy of uber-violent fighting games, the most controversial arcade game ever, the title which almost single-handedly created the ESRB ratings code — is almost old enough to buy beer. There are gamers out there who have never known a world without Raiden, Johnny Cage, Sub-Zero and their spine-ripping ilk.
Of course, it hasn’t been all wine and roses in the past few years for the Kombatants. The path to current-gen systems has been less-than-straightforward. After a few quality outings on PS2 and the original Xbox, Midway, the publisher which has been behind each installment of the franchise since its birth, decided to take a different tack with the series’ next iteration: “Mortal Kombat vs. DC Universe. “
While still a fun game to play, the sight of characters like Liu Kang grappling with iconic heroes like Superman and Wonder Woman felt, well, slightly ridiculous, and longtime fans of the series cried in protest at the first Kombat game to be rated T for Teen, rather than the M for Mature every Kombat Connoisseur (Konnoisseur?) demands.
After the fallout of Midway’s collapse, series brainchild and industry veteran Ed Boon announced that under the banner of new publishers WB Games, a new installment of the franchise would be released, one that promised to bring MK back to basics and reconnect with what made it stand out in the first place: Fast paced fighting, outlandish story and buckets and buckets of gore.
The end result is simply titled “Mortal Kombat,” and it’s meant as a rebirth and rebooting of the franchise. Gone are nearly two decades worth of head-scratching continuity, and in its place is… well, an all new head-scratching continuity. But anyone who comes to an MK game for story is not only barking up the wrong tree, they’re in the wrong forest.
No, the real meat and potatoes of any fighting game always lies in the fighting itself, and it is here where the new MK shines, for the most part. While the combat (oh, sorry, I mean “kombat”) has been stripped down and simplified, it retains enough complexity to still have strategy and depth.
The graphics remain crisp and fluid, retaining and enhancing the great look many of the prior games in the series had refined over time. But instead of a 3D space, as every game in the series had maintained for over ten years, this new Kombat follows the lead of Capcom’s recent “Street Fighter IV” and brings the action back to a 2D plane. While this may superficially seem to limit the action, in actuality it intensifies it. No longer will you have to worry about parrying attacks or making sure you’re facing the right way, you can just get on with the bloodshed.
And oh yes, there is bloodshed. Boon and his team at Netherrealm Studios apparently took to heart all the criticisms of “MK vs. DC”’s lack of gore, because this new game heaps it in by the bucket loads.
In addition to the famously gruesome Fatalities which allow contestants to dispatch one another in a hilariously disgusting way after a defeat, the game now incorporates in-round attacks which are just as cheerfully over-the-top — none more so than the “X-Ray” special moves, which zoom in and allow you to see fighters’ bones breaking and skulls cracking during a particularly nasty attack. (How the fighter continues on despite these mortal wounds is left unexplained.)
There are still flaws in the fighting system, however, ones most any MK fan will have become accustomed to. Some of the attacks seem wildly unbalanced, and virtually impossible to dodge effectively. And the main bosses are almost impossible to take down, unless you have the game set on its lowest difficulty setting (and even then, it can be a struggle). It’s good for a boss to be challenging, of course, but there’s a difference between challenge and throw-your-controller frustration. When you think you’re doing well against Shao Kahn and he drains over half your life bar with just one blow — I don’t care who you are, that’s maddening.
The game is still a blast to play, and anyone with even the slightest tinge of fondness and nostalgia for the franchise will enjoy it immensely. It’s just that after nearly two decades on the block, you’d hope that the creators (sorry, “kreators”) of this gaming universe would have made a few changes and addressed some concerns that have been voiced since it all began. As it stands, they have made a very good game that does justice to the “Mortal Kombat” universe. I just hope that eventually they’ll make a great one.
Email Jeff at PopGoesJeff@gmail.com
They say all a man has is his words, but those people have forgotten about the fire burning in the pit of every man’s stomach. That never-ending desire to be great. The incessant will of a fighter to never let anything stop him, no matter how strong the punches thrown against him.
Boxers and musicians have a lot in common.
Toledo native Martin Tucker has been fighting since he was 18, and at 31, he’s in the best shape of his life. He’s had 16 professional fights, and is compensated well for his achievements. Not every boxer can say they’ve fought on ESPN twice.
So what’s stopping Tucker from catapulting his career to the next level of fame, (more) fortune, and a title fight? The same thing stopping a lot of local artists from getting a record deal: money.
“Toledo is a boxing town, but there’s no one putting money into fighters here,” says Tucker of the struggle to find a good promoter. A boxing promoter is the equivalent to an artist’s manager: they get you in front of the right people, set up fights with worthy opponents (or concerts with a big crowd, in an artist’s case), and make sure you are rightfully compensated for your work. Without the right people on your team, the road to success can be filled with more twists and turns before reaching the plateau.
Another obstacle Tucker is facing is the biological clock. At 31, he may only have a few more years to fight. He says he wants to be done by 35, which doesn’t leave him much time. So why would someone continue to pursue a dream that is likely to end shy of the ultimate goal? Ask any local artist why he/she continues to do music after a certain number of years with no recording contract: they love the art. (And besides, Tucker gets paid to fight.)
Martin Tucker has taken boxing “from a hobby to a profession,” and doesn’t feel like his dream slipped away from him at all. With a fiancé and 5 children to support, it must feel good to do what you love and be able to provide stability in your household. And while this may not be the end of the road, it’s a great path to walk on.
Everyone knows it takes money to make money, but there is still an element of chance in play. A boxer has to be seen by the right people at the right time to get that chance at that title fight, or to meet that promoter interested in him. And with most things in life, it’s all about the Benjamins.
A promoter will not bring someone to the forefront that can’t draw a crowd, and in turn make that promoter money. Regardless of how hard you train, or what diet you follow, you had better be able to deliver. In Hip-Hop, the same rule applies: no one will go to see an artist whose every song makes them want to pierce their eardrums. It doesn’t matter how much you write, or which rapper you look up to; all that matters when you’re on that stage is if you can knock ‘em out.
If Martin Tucker never sees the bright lights of Vegas or feels a belt around his waist, he is still living the dream. He is taking care of his family, and plans to give back to his community. Once he’s done boxing, he’ll be starting a gym in Toledo that he hopes to turn into a franchise, fully equipped with nutritional plans as well as strength training. With this man’s ambition, don’t be surprised when it happens.
Whether an artist chooses to stay underground or try to make it to the mainstream can be a tough decision. There’s fame and a noticeable boost in pay on one hand, and the ability to live comfortably and achieve satisfaction by giving back to the community on the other. Whichever road is destined for Martin Tucker, he’s still a champion.
Continuing the recent tradition of presenting its golden statuettes at the end of February, the motion picture academy announced Tuesday that the 84th Academy Awards will be held on Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012.
While there were rumors the Academy of Motion Picture Arts and Sciences (AMPAS) was looking into a January ceremony date, it appears it decided to stick to the last Sunday in February. One report said the NFL halted the Academy’s progress to upend the awards season, and increase relevance, by moving the Oscars up. (The Academy’s retiring executive director Bruce Davis said in the report: “There are only a limited number of Sundays in January and February … I think some people feel (the Oscars) has lost some of its energy, and we’re looking for energy.”)
With newly appointed executives at the Academy (set to take charge June 1), changes are inevitable. Moving the ceremony to January could have caused major headaches for AMPAS, which utilizes mail-in ballots. Along with voting, members of the academy would have had to rush to see all of the motion pictures eligible for contention — another factor that time can help.
Alas, the Academy has stuck with recent tradition and ABC will televise the 84th Annual Academy Awards from the Kodak Theatre on Sunday, Feb. 26th, 2011, Academy President Tom Sherak announced Tuesday. The red carpet show will stay in its newly expanded 90 minutes that will immediately precede the ceremony broadcast. He also announced key dates.
Thursday, Dec. 1, 2011: Official Screen Credits forms due
Tuesday, Dec. 27, 2011: Nominations ballots mailed
Friday, Jan. 13, 2012: Nominations polls close 5 p.m. PT
Tuesday, January 24, 2012: Nominations announced 5:30 a.m. PT, Samuel Goldwyn Theater
Wednesday, Feb. 1, 2012: Final ballots mailed
Monday, Feb. 6, 2012: Nominees Luncheon
Saturday, Feb. 11, 2012: Scientific and Technical Awards presentation
Tuesday, Feb. 21, 2012: Final polls close 5 p.m. PT
Sunday, Feb. 26, 2012: 84th Academy Awards presentation
Previous Oscar Nights
A January ceremony would have been unprecedented for the Oscars. Over the past eight decades, more than half of the Academy Awards ceremonies have been held in March (45, to be exact). About a quarter of the ceremonies were held in April (23). Six ceremonies in the past decade have been held in February; five ceremonies in the first two decades were also held during the second month of the year. The 1st Academy Awards were held May 16, 1929. Three were held in November — the 3rd, 4th and 5th.
Thus the academy sticks to its tradition and next year’s show will be one day earlier than this year’s ceremony. The red carpet will be rolled out on Feb. 26, 2012.
Toledo Free Press Star Lead Designer James A. Molnar blogs about all things Oscar at TheGoldKnight.com. His column will appear online and in print periodically.
Tim McGraw’s recent No. 1 hit, “Felt Good On My Lips,” was intended to be on the new studio CD, and instead was added to a new greatest hits collection.
“They [Curb] took it off of my new album that I turned in,” McGraw said. “It [the new CD]is called ‘Emotional Traffic.’ So hopefully sometime this summer it will get out.”
A big reason McGraw is eager to see “Emotional Traffic” hit the market is because he sees the CD as a pivotal project in his career.
“Every now and then as an artist, I think you need sort of a watershed project,” he said. “I think this is one of those kinds of projects for us.
“It’s the best album I’ve ever had, sonically, song-wise,” said McGraw, who will play at the Huntington Center on May 4. “We’re playing four new songs off of it on tour.”
That’s no small statement for an artist who has made million-selling albums a consistent habit over a two-decade career.
Rasied in the small town of Start, La., McGraw, who is married to fellow country star Faith Hill, broke through in a big way early in his career, with his second CD, “Not A Moment Too Soon.” It gave him his first two hits, “Don’t Take The Girl” and “Indian Outlaw,” and McGraw been a top tier country star ever since.
Artistically, though, two previous CDs stand out to McGraw.
“For me, ‘Everywhere’ was one of those sort of albums,” he said of his 1997 release. “It was the first album that I really put my name on as a producer. It was just one of those where everything just sort of made a big, massive step forward, from the sounds to tones to songs to my confidence, everything. Then another one of those moments, I think, was ‘The Dancehall Doctors’ album , when I was searching for a new sound and trying to get away from hearing the same licks that you hear on everybody’s records because the same players were playing on them.
“That’s when I took my band in to the studio for the first time,” he elaborated. “That was sort of a watershed album. It tossed everything up in the air and let it hit the ground in a different spot.”
With “Emotional Traffic,” McGraw once again looked to shake up his sound.
“I was searching for something different and some fresh-sounding songs and a different approach to songs,” McGraw said. “I was still trying to find the best songs that I could find, but find stuff that sort of had a freshness to me. And then I went and found different musicians and put together a very eclectic band. A couple of the guys from Paul McCartney’s band play on this album, the keyboard player from the Foo Fighters plays on this album. The guitar player from Alanis Morissette’s band plays on this album. So I really put a cool, eclectic band together. I think it’s just really got an edge to it in the tones and sounds that you haven’t heard on my records.”
The Official World Golf Rankings (OWGR) had a change at the top again this week. Lee Westwood, who had previously been ranked No. 1 for 17 weeks throughout the end of 2010 and the early part of 2011, won the Indonesian Open on the Asian Tour last week to recapture the top spot. He bumped off Germany’s Martin Kaymer who had claimed the top spot from Westwood back in February. Kaymer had held the No. 1 spot for seven consecutive weeks. Luke Donald could have jumped over both Westwood and Kaymer last weekend but came up a trifle short. He needed to win last week’s Heritage Open held at beautiful Sea Pines Resort on Hilton Head Island. He ended regulation play tied with Brent Snedeker and then lost on the third hole of a sudden death playoff. Neither Donald nor Westwood have won a major tournament nor can they match Kaymer’s Wannamaker Trophy from the 2011 PGA.
Thus far in 2011, Donald has won the WGC Match Play trophy, contended at the Masters and has had another close call at the Heritage. In five starts in 2011 he has 5 top tens. Listed at only 5′ 9″ and 160 pounds he is not one of the PGA’s longest hitters averaging a mere 275 yards off the tee, 10 yards under the PGA average of 285 yards and ranks him 166th on tour. His driving accuracy is not much better hitting only 65.5% of the fairways. Short and crooked are not good adjectives for a PGA touring pro. His short game is impeccable and more than makes up for a slightly flawed driver. He ranks first in putting average (1.69) and scoring average (68.97), second in putts per round which all adds up to make Donald the leading money earner at the half way point of 2011 with $2,754,000. Proving once again there is more than one way to golf your ball around a course. Luke Donald certainly exemplifies the old saying, “Drive for show but putt for the big check!”
Westwood’s last win came in June 2010 at the FedEx St. Jude Classic and he hasn’t won on the European Tour since early 2009. He seemed to be in top form as the summer was winding down last year but had to pull out of the PGA Championship with a calf injury. He was prevented from playing for 6 weeks in August and September but did come back to help the Europeans win the Ryder Cup at Celtic Manor. He has had a somewhat slow start in 2011, prior to this win he had not had a top ten finish in 6 starts.
Since winning the PGA title and the 2010 European Order of Merit, Kaymer’s results have been very mediocre at best. In six starts thus far in 2011 he has only two top tens, a second place to Luke Donald at the WGC Match Play in February and 9th place at the European Tour’s Malaysian Open. He struggled mightily around Augusta National and could do no better than 82nd at the Masters.
Phil Mickelson is currently ranked No. 4 in the OWGR, with a win and a couple of good finishes he could leapfrog all three of the Europeans at the top. Phil has had his chances at #1 in the past and has spit the bit each time. With Tiger still struggling to regain his form and with Westwood, Kaymer and Donald still in reach his time is now to make a push to add the “The Top Golfer In The World” moniker to his resume’. The Players Championship, U. S. Open and British Open are important tournaments for Phil. He needs the U.S. Open and a British Open to complete his career Grand Slam, which would put him in some very rare company as golfing history goes. Only Gene Sarazen, Gary Player, Jack Nicklaus and Tiger Woods have completed the career Grand Slam. To have been successful at the highest echelon of golf and to not have achieved the No. 1 OWGR ranking at some point in his career would be a disappointment for Mickelson. He can down play it all the wants in television interviews but the competitive fire for that particular honor has to burn very bright for Mr. Mickelson.
Everyone else on the top ten listing is too far back to be an immediate factor in the OWGR listing. Along with Mickelson, Woods (No. 6), Stricker (No. 9) and Matt Kuchar (No. 10) are the only other Americans in the top ten.
Although the PGA tour is half way through the regular season there is a lot of golf to be played in 2011. The Players Championship, the three remaining major championships, and the WGC Bridgestone at Firestone all have stellar fields and offer large point values for high finishes.
Some of the questions that need to be answered throughout the balance of 2011: Will Tiger ever find his lost game? Can Kaymer rebound to capture another major crown? Can this be the year that Lee Westwood or Luke Donald break through and claim a major title and secure their hold on the #1 Official World Golf Ranking? Can Phil Mickelson add another major jewell to his trophy case and move higher on the all time greatest players list? Will any American players break through to challenge the Europeans and claim a major title?
Jeff McGinnis reports it is a big show this week on Pop Goes the Podcast. Heather Cook, the Face of FOX, is now a correspondent and this episode includes an interview with Jim Beard.
Direct link to Episode 12: Captain Hammer to the Rescue.
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Update: Toledo Free Press has learned that the May 2 performance has been postponed. We will update when the appearance is re-scheduled.
Every year after the show’s end, the top finalists from “American Idol” go on tour, giving fans a chance to see their favorite performers live and in person.
But what about everyone else? “Idol” fans are annually introduced to dozens of performers beyond the ten finalists who get to go on the tour. Many of the eliminated performers are talented and have memorable stories of their own. But fans rarely get a chance to see any of them.
That changes this year. On May 2, the “Idol Rejects Tour” kicks off at Fat Fish Blue in Perrysburg. The event will feature performances from three “Idol” contestants who each made a great impression on fans this season, despite being eliminated in the early rounds: Chris Medina, Rob Bolin and Tim Halperin.
“At first, it was just gonna be a radio tour. Go to different radio stations, maybe play a club. And the idea became a little more grandiose, bigger,” Medina said .
But these shows won’t just be about getting to meet and perform for fans. “Idol has done this ‘Idol Gives Back,’ and so we thought of that, and seeing as how none of us Rejects were going to be on the ‘Idol Gives Back’ tour, we decided to make one ourselves,” Bolin said.
Bolin said every show on the “Rejects Tour” will be a benefit. Toledo’s performance will raise money for Project iAm, a local charity which distributes money to families of autistic children. Other stops on the tour will raise money for Medina, who, as fans of “Idol” know, is the primary caregiver for his fiancée Juliana, who suffered brain damage after a car accident in 2009.
“We saw an opportunity to give back — especially with Chris’s situation, and with Autism Speaks, because we have a platform,” said Tim Halperin. “We have a platform right now from ‘American Idol,’ and we want to make sure we’re using it for good.”
Chris Medina: ‘I feel like I won the whole thing’
Despite the fact that he didn’t make the top 24 on ‘Idol,’ Medina can’t speak highly enough of what the whole experience has meant to him — and what it means he can also do for others.
“One of the things I’ve been saying throughout this whole experience is that I feel so blessed. People are just giving, giving, giving. Now that I’m actually in a position where I can actually earn some money, but also give back to another cause that is far greater,” Medina said.
Despite his passion for music, he speaks of nothing more lovingly than Juliana. The two were engaged to be married in December of 2009. Two months before that, however, came the accident that would change their lives. “I always told her, ‘You make me a better man.’ I used to tell her that even before her accident. ‘You just make me a better guy. When I’m around you, I feel like I wanna do the right thing.’”
He hadn’t even planned on going out for “Idol” until a week before his first audition. He had already made it through the first few rounds before being confronted with a decision: Should he share his — their — story? He finally decided to do so.
“The day after it aired on TV, we got so much help — so many people wanting to help donate a wheelchair, or donate a car, or donate hospital equipment, or their services — people wanting to be caretakers. It was wonderful.”
And though Medina is obviously disappointed that he didn’t make it further, between his appearances on the “Rejects” tour, a new single titled “What are Words” and the outpouring of support from “Idol” fans, he remains incredibly grateful for the whole experience.
“I might have gotten kicked off before I made the top 24, but I feel like I won the whole thing.”
Rob Bolin: ‘I knew that wasn’t me’
A native of Traverse City, Mich., Bolin admits he’s an odd candidate for “American Idol” fame. He cites as his influences artists like Jim Croce, James Taylor, Harry Chapin and Otis Redding — storytelling artists whose music is immortal, but seem an ill fit for “Idol”’s pop-centric focus.
His path to national television exposure began a few years prior, on another show, with another contestant whose on-again-off-again relationship with Bolin would be the centerpiece of their time on “Idol” — Chelsee Oaks.
“Chelsee and I were on a TV show on TNT called ‘Can You Duet?’ a few years back.
“We had done that, and one of the editors from ‘Idol,’ who had become a friend of ours, called me and said, ‘Hey, man, we got auditions in Nashville. You should go try out,’” Bolin said.
Oaks received a similar call, and had already tried out earlier in the day at the same audition — and been rejected. Bolin made it through, and was asked to talk a little bit about his life.
“And I said, the girl I was gonna ask to marry me brought her boyfriend here today. And they said, ‘Did she audition?’ I said yeah. And they said, ‘What’s her name?’ And I said, ‘Chelsee Oaks.’
“I go downstairs to fill out paperwork, and I’m sitting next to the cast coordinator. And upstairs calls downstairs to the cast coordinator, and all I hear over the phone was, ‘Call Chelsee Oaks back.’ And I look at Maggie and I said, ‘You guys aren’t seriously gonna call Chelsee Oaks back, are you?’ She looks at me and says, ‘Are you her ex-boyfriend?’ I said, ‘Yeah.’ She said, ‘Welcome to TV.’”
They had gotten back together again by the time a second round of auditions came about, and were once again no more when a third round occurred. By that point, however, their story had been prominently featured on the show. Bolin said he had a lot of misgivings about whether he was a fit for the ‘Idol’ mold.
Bolin has released a new EP in recent months, copies of which will be available at the Perrysburg show. He’s still grateful for the chances being on ‘Idol’ has given him — “If I hadn’t done that, then none of this would be happening right now” —but in the end, he’d be lying if he didn’t say he wasn’t a little happy to leave when he did.
“I had thought about ‘Idol’ long and hard, and I thought, if this continues to go, I’m gonna have to go, like, take a dump on the corner of the stage to get out of it,” he joked.
Tim Halperin: ‘I honestly wasn’t sad’
Tim Halperin made it the furthest of any of his fellow “Rejects” — lasting into the Top 24 when an early massacre eliminated many, Halperin included. But despite increased exposure, he said that there are difficulties when you’re planning a career after ‘Idol.’
“I think the biggest challenge as an artist, after leaving the ‘American Idol’ stage, is to turn the TV fan into a music fan,” Halperin said.
He’s never known a time when music wasn’t a part of his life, and cites Coldplay as a major influence in his decision to do this for a living. His path to ‘Idol,’ however, came not onstage, but through a webcam.
“I wasn’t gonna do it — I’m not a big ‘American Idol’ watcher or ‘American Idol’ fan, and I was working on a full-length CD at the time. And my buddy contacted me and said, ‘You know, ‘Idol’ is doing MySpace auditions this year, might as well throw your name in the hat and do a webcam audition.’ And so I did.
“One thing led to another, and before I knew it, I was in front of the judges in Los Angeles.”
Despite his elimination, Halperin maintains a positive attitude about the experience.
“I honestly wasn’t sad. I honestly felt so privileged to be a part of that top group, among the finalists this year. Out of 125,000 people,” Halperin said. “So, I walked away knowing that, hey, I’ve been in front of 25 million people on a weekly basis for the past couple of months. I need to use that momentum and move forward.”
He’s maintained his momentum by releasing a track entitled “The Last Song” for free on his website, in advance of the CD dropping in September. He has also become a regular fixture on the Kidd Kraddick radio show out of Dallas, where he takes part in a segment titled “Idol Got It Wrong.”
And like all his fellow “Rejects,” Halperin promises Toledo a great time at Fat Fish Blue on May 2. “It’s gonna be a fun show, it’s gonna be a good evening, and I think it’s cool for people to engage with somebody who was just on ‘American Idol,’ especially if they’re big fans of the show.”
Independent Advocates, a group committed to supporting domestic violence victims, is holding its third annual Super FUNdraiser April 28 at Wesley’s Bar and Grill.
Co-directors and founders Rachel Richardson and Rebecca Facey said activities at Wesley’s will include pay-to-sing karaoke, poetry reading, a bocce ball tournament, a bake sale and a raffle for a Toshiba Netbook.
Tickets for the raffle are $5 each or $20 for five tickets. Proceeds from the event will help Independent Advocates continue working on system-level advocacy and providing direct services and support to people going through the court system.
“The community has been wonderful to us and has really stepped up to support the domestic violence prevention and awareness efforts that we’re doing, and we really need that to continue,” Facey said.
Federal grant money has run out for the 3-year-old organization and it is turning to donors to gain more support for work the agency says needs to be done — no matter what.
“Due to slim economic times and cuts in important programming at the federal level, we are not currently receiving any grant funding and we need community support more than ever,” Richardson said. “As an agency, we need to sustain ourselves from donations from the public at this point.”
Funds will also help in the production of a court watch report that Richardson and Facey say will highlight how domestic violence is handled in Toledo and other communities and suggest improvements, such as holding a separate domestic violence court.
“We’re working really hard to convince the courts that it’s the correct next move in handling domestic violence responsibly and appropriately in Toledo,” Richardson said. “Our overall mission is to improve the community’s response to domestic violence and it’s a perfect opportunity to intervene and address it appropriately.”
For those who can’t make it to Wesley’s, but would still like to donate to Independent Advocates, there are several ways to do so, as well as several other upcoming events.
Richardson and Facey are also planning a scavenger hunt in June to occur shortly after the court watch report is published.
“The scavenger hunt is to get people really involved and heighten their awareness to what it means to be a victim in the court system in Toledo,” Facey said.
The organization will host a purple ribbon campaign during May, as part of what it calls Toledo’s Domestic Violence Awareness month. Supporters are asked to hang purple ribbons around their trees to show solidarity against domestic violence.
Individual donor aid helps at least 100 women Independent Advocates accompanies to multiple hearings in many courthouses each year.
“We really need people from the community recognizing that this is an important issue: We’re doing really important work that is making a difference in the community; that we’re affecting real culture change as it relates to domestic violence and how the community responds to it,” Facey said.
The Super FUNdraiser will run from 6 p.m. to midnight. Wesley’s Bar and Grill is located at 1201 Adams St.
Supporters can send checks to Independent Advocates at 151 N. Michigan St. Suite 209, Toledo, OH 43604; designate Independent Advocates as their charity of choice through a United Way campaign; use PayPal online at www.iatoledo.org or register their Kroger Card with the Kroger Community Rewards Program.
The cover of Uncle Bonsai’s new disc is a brightly colored illustration of a couple dogs, two cats, a bunny, a turtle, a chick, three mice and a hamster walking toward a pink house. How cute!
But then you notice the CD title, “The Grim Parade,” and see the smoke from the chimney forming a skull, not to mention a vulture perched in a gnarly tree and the spilled fish bowl and fresh grave.
That artwork captures the biting humor of the folk-pop trio that sings: “And so the years went on and on/ Another cat, another dog/ Another marker on a lawn that’s getting crowded …/ We were the picture-perfect people to come home to/ We were loving and we loved them all to death.”
“A few years ago I was reading the book ‘Marley and Me,’ and my daughter who was 6 or 7 then asked me if it was a sad book, and I said, ‘Well, all pet stories end the same way,’ ” said Andrew Ratshin. “And the family in this song, they’re not trying to kill pets but for some reason the animals come in the front door and go out the back, if you know what I mean.”
The singer-songwriter-guitarist quickly added: “These are just the jokes, as long as you don’t take it personally.”
Ratshin and vocalist Arni Adler formed Uncle Bonsai in 1981; singer Patrice O’Neill joined them in 2007.
“We’ve gone through 300 or 400 songs. We’ve sung about pretty much everything,” Ratshin said during a call from his Seattle home.
He’s not kidding. Consider the names of these tracks: “Penis Envy,” “Cheerleaders on Drugs,” “Olivia Newton-John,” “A Lonely Grain of Corn,” “Then God Made Malls,” “Julie Andrews,” “K-Mart,” “Old People on Ice,” “Precious Mime,” “Womb for Rent.”
“I don’t think there’s anything taboo subject-wise,” he said. “We’re not trying to pass out a big world message. We’re entertaining, we’re interesting, we’re thought-provoking in a non-hugely hit-you-over-the-head kind of way. It’s just music.”
Uncle Bonsai will celebrate its latest disc, “The Grim Parade,” at 8 p.m. April 30 at the Ark in Ann Arbor. Tickets are $20. Doors open at 7:30 p.m.
“We’re learning a song I wrote for this show because I wanted to have a new song for Ann Arbor,” Ratshin said. “It’s called ‘Go to Sleep.’ It’s a lullaby, but it took a turn.
“The running joke of all these songs is that Arni and I got together and thought, hey, maybe we ought to write a children’s record; let’s try to write some children’s songs. And things like ‘The Fish is in the Freezer,’ ‘The Grim Parade’ and ‘The Baby’s Head,’ that’s what came out. We started writing children’s songs, but somewhere they took a turn.”