Archive for October, 2011

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Popspotting #157: “Walking Upon a Grimm Story” (Nov. 1, 2011)

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Grimm on NBC

For lovers of fantasy and horror, these are boom times on the boob tube. We’ve got everything from ghosts to zombies to wolves to wicked witches to talk about for TV Tuesday. Today we share our early takes on “American Horror Story” on FX, “Once Upon a Time” on ABC, “Grimm” on NBC, and the much-anticipated second season of “The Walking Dead” on AMC.

'The Descendants' Poster

Popspotting #156: “The Descendants” (Oct. 31, 2011)

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'The Descendants' Poster

“The Descendants” is the latest film from director Alex Payne (who last brought us “Sideways” in 2004, as well as “About Schmidt” and “Election”), and stars George Clooney (who has already garnered Oscar buzz for his turn in “Ides of March,” which we reviewed earlier this month). On those two points alone, this movie has a lot going for it.

But “The Descendants” is also a film set in, and a film about, Hawaii, based on the novel of the same name by local author Kaui Hart Hemmings. And that’s why we were especially eager to see it.

“The Descendants” doesn’t go into wide release until November 18, but it has already played to much acclaim at film festivals in London, New York, and Colorado. Fortunately, the Hawaii International Film Festival also made the cut (as it should). So with the help of our good friend Chris, we were able to score the hottest ticket at HIFF, and get an early look.

We won’t often review a film before it comes out (it’s a small miracle we get to see movies while they’re still in theaters), but this one was too special to wait. If you’ve seen the trailer, you’ve been spoiled more than you would be with our discussion.

While we had notably different takes on “The Descendants,” it’s safe to say we both recommend it… especially up against “Twilight” and “Happy Feet 2,” which sadly share the same release date.

How does the Aloha State fare on the big screen? How well can Clooney play a regular guy? Listen for our take!

Avett Brothers

Popspotting #155: “Ides of Avett Brothers” (Oct. 28, 2011)

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Avett Brothers

We wrap up the week talking about movies and books, and close with another song pick, all from your feedback. We revisit the “Ides of March,” Ryan Gosling, and Philip Seymour Hoffman, Laura gives thumbs up to Mira Nair, Al makes a John Cusack confession, Stella covers Cameron Crowe, and both propose their own double features. The early returns on “Ready Player One” look good, Daniel gets high-fives for the “Wheel of Time,” and Kris gets us dancing to some punk-infused bluegrass.

Popspotting #154: “Kronos Duran” (Oct. 27, 2011)

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Joining us this week from the live music Mecca of Austin, Texas, is our long-time friend Greg Bueno. Ryan and Greg began their friendship as cranky muckrakers at the daily student paper at the University of Hawaii over 17 years ago. Jen quickly adopted him as her primary “gay guy friend.” Always insightful, often wryly entertaining, and sometimes provocative, we’re grateful to have Greg in our lives… and today, on our podcast.

You can find Greg on Twitter at @NemesisVex, and his original music at Eponymous 4. He’s even posted some music videos to YouTube.

Rainbow Falls in Hilo

Popspotting #153: Exploring Hilo Town

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Rainbow Falls in HiloThe sleepy East Hawaii town of Hilo is where we met, and is among our favorite places on Earth. With a population of 40,000, it’s the third largest city in the state, but it feels much, much smaller. Back in September, when we took a tour of the Big Island, we promised that we’d focus on Hilo Town in a future show. Now that a listener is planning a visit, we figured it was time to show you around.

Today we’ll cover Hilo’s museums, natural sights, and of course, its cuisine. Highlights include the Imiloa Astronomy Center, the Pacific Tsunami Museum, Rainbow Falls, Richardson Beach, and Kaumana Cave.

When it comes to dining, beyond Ken’s House of Pancakes, there’s Blane’s Drive Inn, Cafe Pesto, and Two Ladies Kitchen.

We hope you enjoy our Hawaii-themed podcasts, and if there’s anything you want to know about the Aloha State, please don’t hesitate to ask! Next on our travel to-do list will probably be a food tour of Honolulu… unless you’ve got an even better idea!

Breaking Bad Season 4 Poster

Popspotting #152: “Fringe” & “Breaking Bad”

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Breaking Bad Season 4 Poster

The fourth season of “Fringe” is well underway, while the fourth season of “Breaking Bad” has ended with a bang. Both are among our favorite shows on television right now. This week, after a quick check-in with other freshman series (rest in peace, “Free Agents,” but is “2 Broke Girls” back from the dead?), we focus in depth on the worlds of two Walts: Walter Bishop, and Walter White.

Real Steel

Popspotting #151: “Real Steel” (Oct. 24, 2011)

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Real Steel

In the not-too-distant future, the sport of boxing swaps robots in for humans. And a young boy’s junkyard find sees an unlikely rise to stardom, as he reconnects with the father he never had. We admit, the setup for “Real Steel” seemed cliche, and the trailers suggested a potential bomb. But while our expectations were low, this family-friendly movie easily exceeded them, and gave us something we might even watch again.

“Real Steel” stars Hugh Jackman, Dakota Goyo, and “LOST” alums Evangeline Lilly and Kevin Durand. It also stars a dazzling array of animatronic and computer-generated robots. We didn’t even get to talk about the score by Danny Elfman, which seemed to draw from a million other “sport champ” themes but still do something interesting.

Did you see “Real Steel”? Did we capture why the flick is so charming? Or have our tastes been corrupted by the unavoidable chemical changes that come with parenthood?

Car Talk

Popspotting #150: “Podcastville” (Oct. 21, 2011)

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Car Talk

For “Feedback Friday,” your recommendations for great podcasts, and your favorite cover songs. On the podcast front, we get a wholehearted “hear hear” for our love of “The Moth,” and we share our “We Were (Almost) on Car Talk” story. And when it comes to cover songs, we talk about some winners, from Anthony and the Johnsons to Marilyn Manson.

Daniel Barkowitz

Popspotting #149: “Owl City of Time” (Oct. 20, 2011)

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Daniel BarkowitzYesterday’s discussion of “Ready Player One” was sparked by Daniel in Boston (@barkowitz), a long-time listener and generous contributor. After that winner of a recommendation, we knew we had to get him on the show to share more great picks.

Today he brings us two great musical acts (Owl City and Shanghai Restoration Project), and two great book series. He then takes on Jen’s infamous trivia questions, going for a TV and music category.

Daniel is a blogging poet at “Talking to Myself,” a contributor to “The 4th Age Podcast,” and the tech-savvy executive director of a synagogue. He was born in the Panama Canal Zone and attended high school in South Carolina. He has a passion for singing, reading, cooking, and raising his two beautiful daughters, Caroline and Rachel, with his wife Rebekah.

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Popspotting #148: “Ready Player One” & Anthony Bourdain (Oct. 19, 2011)

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Ready Player One ReviewErnest Cline’s first novel, “Ready Player One,” has been described as a “nerd-gasm.” Popspotting listener Daniel in Boston shared a glowing review on our show in August, and Jen and I were sold. So were many of our listeners. Indeed, the book has earned an avalanche of accolades, and the film rights were sold in record time. But does this celebration of ’80s pop culture include more than a string of in-jokes and nostalgia porn? Jen has made it all the way to this novel’s kill screen, and today shares her review.

She also pays tribute to Anthony Bourdain, one of our favorite writers, celebrity chefs, and all-round curmudgeonly commentator. From his breakout bestseller “Kitchen Confidential” to his more philosophical later works, Jen explains why it’s worth listening to what Tony has to say.

Got a favorite book or author for us to check out? Let us know! And thanks to Daniel for the recommendation. We’ll find out tomorrow what else he’s got to share!

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