Friday, July 31, 2009

Admin Note: Taking a few days off/posting intermittently

This is just a note to let you all know that I'll be posting a little less than usual over the next few days, since I'll be moving to a new place to start grad school in a couple of weeks. Because of that, there is no Retrovideo Friday post today, though you can always go back and see previous posts if you're interested. I'm still hoping to do a music round-up tonight, but it might not happen.

Since my internet access might be limited over the next few days, I might not get a chance to do Monday's usual new music post or music round-ups for next Monday/Tuesday. But I'm hoping everything will be up and running by the middle of the coming week, and I'll resume my usual posts by then. Meanwhile, Callie (and possibly ToastyKen) might have some other posts up to keep everyone entertained.
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Thursday, July 30, 2009

Music Notes: Green Day and Pink added to VMA lineup, Big Boi heading to Def Jam

- Green Day and Pink have been added to the lineup for this year's MTV Video Music Awards. The show will be held Sept. 13 at New York City's Radio City Music Hall. [SPIN]

- Big Boi (of Outkast) has left Jive Records and plans on signing with Def Jam. Pitchfork speculates that we might actually see some his solo work get released if all goes well. [Pitchfork]

- Listen to part two of 7 Worlds Collide, the project helmed by Crowded House frontman Neil Finn, via MySpace. Finn is rejoined by former collaborators like Radiohead's Ed O'Brien and Phil Selway, and new collaborators like Wilco's Jeff Tweedy. [Stereogum]

- Pixies frontman Frank Black (Black Francis) will play a series of West Coast solo dates this summer, prior to the Pixies' twentieth anniversary Doolittle tour. [NME]

- Panic at the Disco's remaining members have announced new members: ex-The Cab guitarist Ian Crawford and Brobecks bassist Dallon Weekes. [Prefix Mag]

- Bloc Party frontman Kele Okereke recently said he doesn't know what the future holds in store for his band. "It's weird, we're out of contract now so... we might take a year off, we might take three years off.... we might never make a record again or we might head straight back in and do a record. We'll see how we feel come the end of this touring cycle," he said. For now, the band is set to release one more single in August. [NME]
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Wednesday, July 29, 2009

Music Notes: Peter Hook's bass supergroup finishes up debut, ScarJo and Pete Yorn duet

- Freebass, the three-bassist supergroup led by former New Order/Joy Division bassist Peter Hook have completed work on their debut album, which is now being mixed. A new song and some updates regarding the album are available via the group's MySpace page. [Pitchfork]

- Listen to a track from Scarlett Johansson and Pete Yorn's upcoming Break Up here. [SPIN]

- The Walkmen will release a live EP (the Live Session EP) via iTunes on Aug. 11. A tour will follow. [Pitchfork]

- A previously unreleased Weezer track, "Everybody Go Away," will appear on the latest GAIN compilation titled Fresh Cuts Vol. 4 after the band teamed up with Guitar Center. [Stereogum]

- Echo and the Bunnymen will release an album, The Fountain, on Oct. 13. The album release will be accompanied by a number of North American tour dates. So far, dates have been announced for Toronto, ON and Oakland and Los Angeles in California. More date will be announced. [NME]

- Marilyn Manson threatened to "murder" music journalists who fabricate stories about him in a blog entry. Sigh. [NME]
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Admin Note: Getting Back in the Groove

Hello good readers! Quick admin note: I was on the road heading back home yesterday and am busy settling back into the responsibilities of RL today, but we'll soon have a whole new batch o' videos for your viewing pleasure and should be back to our regular news and reviews updates as this week heads to a close.
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Tuesday, July 28, 2009

Music Notes: Pixies announce US tour dates, PJ Harvey debuts new songs at solo gig

- The Pixies have announced their US Doolittle tour dates, which will take place during the month of November. The tour will kick off in Los Angeles before heading to cities like Seattle and Chicago. There will be a three-night run in New York City before the last two dates in Boston and Washington, DC. [Brooklyn Vegan]

- PJ Harvey unveiled new songs at her only solo UK gig of the year. Watch video of two tracks, "The Last Living Rose" and "Let England Shake,"here. [NME]

- Mos Def is going to play a ton of North American dates in August and September — three of these dates (in California) will feature Erykah Badu. [Pitchfork]

- Federal authorities raided the home of Dr. Conrad MurrayMichael Jackson's doctor — today seeking documents as part of a manslaughter investigation into the singer's death. They did not have an arrest warrant for Murray, who did happen to be at home when they arrived. There are no official details on what the warrants specified. [Billboard]

- It seems more and more likely that Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band will play all of 1975's Born to Run in Chicago's United Center on Sept. 20. [Rolling Stone]

- Former Panic at the Disco members have revealed their new band — The Young Veins. [NME]
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Monday, July 27, 2009

True Blood Hi-Def Video Clips Now Live!

We've got nine . . . count 'em, nine! . . . high-definition video clips covering almost the entire True Blood panel at San Diego Comic-Con.  I haven't watched this show before (no HBO at home) but after seeing the panel, the way the cast interacts and the enthusiasm of the fans, I'm going to be adding the season 1 DVDs to my Netflix list.  The clips are all embedded here, but can be watched in all their high-definition glory at the Pop Wenches YouTube channel (

Make sure to subscribe to our Pop Wenches blog RSS feed or our YouTube channel to get updates each time we post new videos.  And leave comments here and with each video if you enjoy the footage!

Check out all the clips . . .


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Music Notes: Weezer debut new songs, The Decemberists announce tour dates

Sorry for the delay in Music Notes today... I've got some crazy weeks ahead of me at the moment, so life might delay a couple of posts here and there.

- Weezer debuted new songs at a South Korean festival Sunday night. The two songs are "I'm Your Daddy" and "The Girl Got Hot." Watch them here. Does the band have any of its old spark left? [SPIN]

- The Decemberists have announced a fall tour that will travel through parts of the United States, Canada and England. [Pitchfork]

- Fader is giving away tickets to New Jersey's All Points West festival. I would totally try going, but I'm moving this weekend... so I'll just sit here, reporting this information to you guys. [Fader]

- Arctic Monkeys will stream a live gig online on July 30 at 9 p.m. GMT. They'll showcase tracks from their upcoming album on their website. The gig will also be hosted on [NME]

- Mariah Carey, Diddy and Lil Wayne all have albums coming out — and each of these albums will now have delayed release dates. Carey's upcoming Memoirs, originally slated for an Aug. 25 release will now come out Sept. 15. Diddy (Sean Combs) told MTV News his album's been delayed thanks to Jay-Z and Drake. Lil Wayne's album, which had been slated for a June 23 release, is still delayed though a release date has not been confirmed yet. [Billboard]

- The Manic Street Preachers have announced their first US tour in 10 years. [NME]
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Fun with Mad Men

AMC's Mad Men is coming back Sunday, Aug. 16, and as a part of their marketing campaign, they've launched a Mad Men Yourself application to the show's official website. This means you can make avatars of yourself in the Mad Men era! As a Mad Men fan, I had to try this out. Check out some of the avatars and settings I created below... and then go try it out for yourselves!

(And yes, I'm holding a martini glass at a picnic. Fits the show's aesthetic, no?)

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Sanctuary Hi-Def Video Clips Now Live!

Six high-definition video clips from the Sanctuary panel with Amanda Tapping, Robin Dunne, Martin Wood and Damien Kindle at San Diego Comic-Con have just been posted to the Pop Wenches YouTube channel at There are more high-def clips coming soon from the True Blood, District 9, Avatar, Stargate Universe, Legion, 9, Torchwood and Being Human panels. Make sure to subscribe to our YouTube channel to get updates each time we post new videos and leave comments here and with each video to let us know which ones you like best (or hate -- we've got thick skins).

And for your previewing pleasure before you check out the Pop Wenches YouTube channel:

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This Week's Music (July 28, 2009)

Welcome back to the weekly new music roundup, where I will try highlighting some of tomorrow's interesting/major music releases.

The latest Blur compilation, Midlife: A Beginner's Guide to Blur, will now be available at a more affordable/non-import price in the US. Howling Bells' Radio Wars (great album, great band) sees its US release too.

Three Elbow albums have been reissued. A Rolling Stones box set is being sold exclusively through Amazon. The Battlestar Galactica Season 4 soundtrack will be out.

Watch the video for Howling Bells' "Cities Burning Down," then check out more of this week's releases below:

Albums, Singles, EPs:
- Bad Secrets - Bad Secrets
- Band of Skulls - Baby Darling Doll Face Honey; Vinyl
- Blur - Midlife: A Beginner's Guide to Blur
- Dogs Die in Hot Cars - Please Describe Yourself
- Fabolous - Loso's Way; Deluxe CD/DVD Edition
- Howling Bells - Radio Wars
- Michael Jackson - The Stripped Mixes
- Owl City - Ocean Eyes; Vinyl
- Iggy Pop - Iggy & Ziggy: Cleveland '77; Vinyl
- Elvis Presley - From Elvis in Memphis
- The Radio Dept. - David (EP)
- Starflyer 59 - Ghosts of the Past
- The Trashcan Sinatras - In the Music

Reissues, Box Sets:
- Deee-Lite - The Very Best of Deee-Lite (reissue)
- Elbow - Asleep in the Back (reissue, import)
- Elbow - Cast of Thousands (reissue, import)
- Elbow - Leaders of the Free World (reissue, import)
- Gang of Four - Return the Gift (2 CD reissue)
- Joy Division - Love Will Tear Us Apart (Single, Vinyl)
- The Rolling Stones - Box Set [ Exclusive]

- Bear McCreary - Battlestar Galactica: Season 4
- Various Artists - Funny People
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Saturday, July 25, 2009

True Blood Videos

The hotel 'net connection is taking forever to upload the high-def video clips. Nothing is ever simple! I'm hoping to get a couple of clips loaded if I left them go overnight . . .
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Once I'm back at my

Once I'm back at my hotel I'll be finding out how quickly I can upload video clips of almost every sec of the True Blood panel
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Comic-Con Update 2009 - Sanctuary

Just got out of a fun panel for Sanctuary, which airs on Syfy and is heading into its second season. The show, which was co-created by and stars Amanda Tapping (Stargate SG1, Stargate Atlantis), hasn't gotten me completely hooked on it yet, but it sounds like the new season may be the one in which the show hits its stride.

Enjoy the following notes from the panel (video and more photos to follow later)!

TV Guide moderator: Tell us about the journey of the show over the past two years. Amanda's "gobsmacked" at the support the show's gotten from fans, from when they started promoting the webisodes at a Comic-Con booth two years ago (Sanctuary got its start as a web series before being picked up by Syfy) to getting a second season pick-up. Sanctuary is the first show from a web series to get a second season.

Promo reel is played:
- Lots of clips from last season becuase of the post-production time required for all of their episodes, so they couldn't give Syfy more than a few snippets of season 2 footage
- Montage of clips with the phrases "New Dangers," "New Characters" and "New Relationshiops,"Had a surprising number of clips including Tesla and Watson.

Martin Wood says the 2nd season effects are way, way better than first season. The big discovery next season is that there are Sanctuaries all over the world (fans had heard this news previously). They wanted a "James Bond" feel ingthat the story could take place anywhere. Magnus has build dozens of Sancturaries during her life in places like Mumbai. All the Sanctuaries have a different look -- they did't just recycle the London Sanctuary..

Robin Dunne says that, with Sanctuary, when you pick up a script, you never know what adventure you're going on and with the second season "the boundaries have been pushed so much farther."

The eighth ep si called "Next Tuesday" and is a "helicopter ep" that was "sadistic" for Amanda and Robin. Will Zimmerman and Magnus are transporting a rare abmornal off of an oil rig (in Mexico?).The abnormal wakes up, gets upset and the helicoptor goes down in an oil well in the middle of the ocean, with the helicopter suspended above them and a nest of wires. Amanda, Robin and director Martin Wood spent five days in wetsuits for this sep and they did not use stunt people. According to Robin, by day 4 the water was really crowded with "debris." According to Martin, it was really impressive to see Amanda hold her breath for 94 seconds.
The season premiere includes a big car chase with Magnus behind the wheel, for which they used Damien Kindle's car and no stunt driver. Amanda did her own driving for the sequence and Robin says that his reaction in the passenger seat was not acting -- he was terrified!

[bxA]Also shot scenes for an episode on location Japan. They were there doing press for Syfy Japan and decided to take advantage of the opportunity -- had 76 hours. We'll get to meet the new head of Tokyo Sanctuary and the rebuilt Tokyo Sanctuary- Damien was dying when Martin told us this because Martin was revealing too much.
The scenes they shot in Japani were filmed almost guerilla style - Martin was working the camera, there were no permits and they were writing scenes onsite because they were having fun and wanted to maximize the opportunity. So when you watch the ep, just know that it's really Japan and not just stock footage and CGI.

Amanda directed an ep called "Veritas" in which Magnus goes "completely off her rocker." This ep really showcases Will's loyalty to Magnus -- "when the world turns it's back on her, he can be counted on to stick with her." Damien Kindler says that they wanted to deepen Will and Helen's relationship this season (in a non-shipper way) - they didn't want the relationship to be stagnant and just about capturing monsters.

Accordingg toRobin, "there's a groundedness to the characters this year" and "Will and Magnus are more honest with each other." Will will call her out when needed and tell her things she doesn't want to hear, but needs to hear.
Season two is more about the now instead of flashbacks, but according to Martin we get a "future flash." The future flash ep is "Padua Noctoris" which focuses on a probable future. Amanda says we'll see "Will unlike you've ever seen him before" and that it was "freaky",seeing Robin in character for this ep. It's set in a post-apocalyptic era and we'll see a decayed Sanctuary, Magnus' office destroyed, band -- most frightening --Will with mullet!

There's a new character - a woman of Indian descent who's a freelance op, a "Han Solo type" --and Magnus doesn't trust her in the beginning. The new, very blunt character "shines a light on the Sanctuary" and what they do and whether how they're going about it is right.

Shippers - Magnus held Will Zimmerman on her knee when he was 8! Magnus + Druitt is that character's big love affair ("she likes the bad boys"). There's also Count Olaff who owns a soccer team.
Zap2It questions:

What was up with Ashley in the season one finale? What happens to Ashley reverberates through the Sanctuary and affects the first three eps. It's a very physically and emotionally challenging season for Helen and Will.

Magnus had quite a high body count among her friends during the first season -- will they keep doing that next season? Reiterated that "nobody dies in scifi and they can bring back any if the great guest stars who died during the first season. Also have great upcoming guest stars for season 2. Michael Shanks guest ep. Not a lot of Michael & Amanda screen time.. Gun fight though. Mostly abt Michael and Kate. Michael's & Amanda's characters know each other and are happy when they meet though. Not the "Daniel and Sam show." Callum Blue will also guest and Amanda called him "yummy" before remembering that that was supposed to be an inside voice, not an announcement to the public. very cute!
Will Watson come back? He lived for a long time and they show backstories all the time and "we will see him again if we can get third season going."

Do any of them have any "cool stories" about scars or accidents since they're doing so many of their own stunts? Robin jokingly, but eloquqently replied, "Do you have four hours [to hear about all my injuries]?" Amanda said, "I'm the one woman who should NEVER have been allowed to do my own stunts and yet I have for the past 13 years. I have scars."
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Comic-Con 2009 Update - Peter Jackson on The Hobbit

Enjoy this video clip with an update from the man himself in his first-ever Comic-Con appearance!

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Comic-Con Update: SGU Post Updated

Just a quick note that the blog post for yesterday's Stargate Universe panel has been updated with photos, videos and more complete text. Enjoy!

Video and write ups on the panel for Legion and Peter Jackson's first-ever Comic-Con appearance coming later today.
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Friday, July 24, 2009

By the way, Legion with

By the way, Legion with Paul Bettany is the movie that's impressed me most so far. Tons of action with a very intense feel.
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Just saw seven mins of

Just saw seven mins of District 9 footage. Loud, intense, gory and interesting. Loving that Peter Jackson is here in person.
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Comic-Con 2009 Update – Stargate Universe (Live Blogging)

Edited to add photos and videos and clean up the text.

Woot! The wifi finally let me back online! Sitting in the 9 panel right now – news to come from that later.

Secured excellent seats in Ballroom 20 at the San Diego Convention Center, which is the second largest convention hall at Comic-Con (seating 4,000+ people). The wifi is still being extremely temperamental – allowing me to log on to the ‘net and then blocking me five minutes later, and not letting some people connect at all – but overall this morning has been much, much easier than the entirety of Thursday. Enjoy the summary of the Stargate Universe panel below!

Trailer was shown – General Jack O’Neil (Richard Dean Anderson) and Dr. Nicholas Rush (Robert Carlyle) recruit Eli Wallace (David Blue), who's SGU's computer geek/genius character. Angsty Peter Gabriel-ish tune playing during the trailer. Trailer definitely continues that darker feel for this series and has a new tagline that this series "reinvents the wheel" over a shot of SGU's new stargate. In one clip, Wallace cracks a Star Wars joke saying something they're about to do is “like we’re going to the Hoth system,” and his joke is met with dead silence. Trailer ends with a scene in which O’Neil says, “Surprise!”

Showrunners Brad Wright and Robert Cooper led the panel, which included SGU cast members Jamil Walker Smith, Alaina Huffman, David Blue, Robert Carlyle, Ming-Na, Brian J. Smith and Elyse Levesque.

One comment that was made before they started answering questions is that there is more handheld camerawork in SGU than SG1 and SGA, giving it a bit rougher, more raw feel.Two questions from Zap2It visitors had been selected and given to Brad for he and the rest of the panel to answer.

1. Can I watch SGU if I’ve never watched SG1 or SGA? Yes, you can (per Brad Wright). It’s quite a different feel, give you a difference sense of what Stargate is for those who haven’t watched, but will reward existing fans. Pointed out that Richard Dean Anderson and Amanda Tapping will apppear.

Per Robert Cooper, "We looked at what we love about Stargate and what you love." Robert specifically wanted to address some of the fan fears, saying that even if it looks darker and grittier, it’s still Stargate. The show is still helmed by Brad and Robert, who have guided the feel of the franchise all these years. They wanted to get away from everyone in the series being a good guy, in SGU they didn’t want everyone to be a “superhero” or “genius”; they wanted the characters to be identifiable while putting them in a situation where the crew is facing challenges and exploring while maintaining that sense of humor SG is known for.

2. Will SGU still have the sense of humor that the other series have had? Yes, and Robert just answered that so they didn't need to go into more detail to address this question. Instead, Robert speaks to the fans’ love of the SG teams and characters and says that it’s been weirdly great with this cast because they’re 12 eps in filming-wise and the whole cast “still likes each other.” Says the cast gets along great and has great chemistry that’s translating onto the screen.

The panel begins taking questions from the audience.

Why is SGU not airing on NBC for those who don’t have cable or don't know about the Syfy channel? Brad: we’d love to air on ALL the major networks – it works for Obama! He gets plenty of eyeballs by doing that! But SG is at home on Syfy and there’s “always DVD and your friend’s house!”

Will there be behind the scenes materials for the fans to enjoy? Ivon Bartok (special features guru for Stargate) is shooting 40 behind-the-scenes pieces that will be used for the web and DVDs features this year. There will be tons of behind the scenes stuff for fans to enjoy, especially in the run-up to the show's premiere in the fall.

Question for Robert Carlyle: why did he chose to switch from movies to a television franchise? It’s not about which medium he’s acting in, it’s about the project and the people you get to work with. And he’s really enjoying himself so far. Robert Cooper elaborates on the showrunners' decision to pursue Robert Carlyle. They wanted a more "flawed and complex lead who’s not a hero, but also not a villain."

[bxA]Are we ever going to find anything out about the Furlings and the 9th Chevron? The resounding answer from Brad: NO! Robert said yes, but he wouldn’t elaborate and sounded a bit teasing. [From what I've read online, it seems like the ninth chevron might play into how the crew gets stuck on the Destiny in the pilot.]

The first two Stargate shows featured a lot of strong, intelligent women. What was Brad and Robert's criteria for casting the women in SGU? The showrunners and cast both proudly and emphatically declared the women of SGU to be strong, intelligent women also and each female cast member took a moment to describe their characters. Brad also added that the men on the cast are strong and intelligent too!

Did any of the actors feel any trepidation about joining a long-running franchise that has a strong fan following? David Blue spoke to this – described himself as a huge scifi fan and so he was very aware of what he was getting into. But even though he was nervous, he was also "excited to contribute" to a franchise he'd followed for all these years.

How did you prepare for your SGU roles? Brian fielded this question. You have to be interested in the material and then you just prep from there. For Brian, his character being a solider was more important than the scifi aspect, so he’s spent a lot of time researching the military aspect of his character.

Stargate Atlantis ended prematurely -- which show would Brad and Robert like to work on more? Robert said that he would flip a coin. While he does feel that they still had stories left to tell with Atlantis, he countered that the show had gotten five seasons when so many shows get just one, and they're very grateful to have had SGA run for that long.

Will SGU will be more episodic like SGU & SGA or more serialized? Brad said that SGU has a “broader story,” but the serialized part is more about the character stories. A viewer should be able to tune in at any time and enjoy an episode. None of these characters are supposed to be in their situation so it let them throw together characters who wouldn’t be together in a standard Stargate situation. Robert said things – huge things – happen very quickly in this show, so if you do miss an ep you might miss some huge changes.

What drew Robert Carlyle to this project specifically? He came to LA and was struggling a bit and looking for a new challenge. SGU was “completely out of left field for him” – he didn’t really know much about Stargate originally. Brad told him they were looking for someone “who could make dislikeable things likeable” and Carlyle thought, “Well, I’m your man for that!”

Will we finally see a non-English-speaking alien? Per Robert and Brad, their goal is to make the aliens the teams run into realistic. There was an explanation/reason why the SG1 and SGU teams encountered humans and English-speaking aliens on their adventues -- that reason was part of those shows' mytharc. There are some “very alien aliens” in the first season of SGU that are completely CGI.

Question for Jamil: what’s it like to be a third generation working African-American film star? (Questioner thought Jamil was the son of actor Phillip Morris and son of Greg Morris.) Jamil fielded this with much grace, responding that one of the things that happens when you become a "film star" is that incorrect information starts circulating. He is not the son or grandson of either of those Mission: Impossible actors.

What was it like working with the SG1 actors who have guested on SGU? David Blue said it was great because he got to shoot one of his first scenes with Richard Dean Anderson -- a scene we saw in the trailer with Richard Dean Anderson and Robert Carlyle knocking on his door and recruiting him. Ming-Na said that is was great working with RDA because he's such an old hand at this that it helped make her less nervous. For her, starting on SGU was such a big deal with the move to Vancouver and everything, but for RDA "it was like peeling an orange." Brian gave a shout-out to the crew, many of whom have worked on SG1 and/or SGA; they're veterans and amazing. He hasn't worked with RDA or Amanda Tapping, but he wanted to give credit to the crew, describing them as skilled, dedicated and laid back.

Will they continue the tradition of building up likeable doctors and then killing them off? Per Robert, "Nope, we kill the doctor off right away!" and Brad said they really do.

What’s it like working with CGI explosions and stuff? David says it’s so much more mind-blowing than you expect. It’s an acting challenge and it makes you want to do a better acting job when you're on set. Ming-Na says the effects are so good that it’s made her a fan of the show. Since she's not there to see every scene that's shot, when she sees final footage it's really exciting.

Will they come back to Comic-Con next year to celebrate the anniversary of the first season of the show? They hope so!

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Music Notes: Thom Yorke writes new song for Twilight sequel, Phish revive festival

- Thom Yorke and Bon Iver are confirmed for the New Moon soundtrack. Chris Weitz, director of the Twilight sequel, revealed this information at San Diego Comic-Con. In regards to Yorke's track, he said he hadn't listened to it yet, but added that "unless it's sounds of him belching, I think I'll put it in." [SPIN]

- Phish will hold a three-day festival — Festival 8 — in Indio, California this Halloween. The concerts will take place from Oct. 30 to Nov. 1. On Halloween night, the band will perform another band's album in its entirety, reviving a tradition for the first time since 1998. Tickets go on sale this coming Monday, July 27. [Rolling Stone]

- Amy Winehouse has been cleared of an assault charge stemming from an accusation that she had attacked a dancer last September. [NME]

- Blur haven't really discussed the possibility of continuing their reunion. It does look like the band had a good time. Bassist Alex James, who said the band's Glastonbury 2009 gig was the best they'd ever done, said, "I've spent the last week staring at a bonfire muttering to myself. I haven't been able to contain the joy that [the reunion concerts] brought to all of us. It was very, very emotional. Everything we hoped it would be and more." Well, I'm still holding out hope for some US shows even though chances are looking slim... [Pitchfork]
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Comic-Con Update - Toys!

One of the many affordable goodies that can be purchased in the dealers room at the con. A LOST bobblehead of Benjamin Linus after his beatdown from Desmond Hume last season.

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To learn how you can snap pictures and capture videos with your wireless phone visit

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In line for Hall H

In line for Hall H again and should be able to get in for the 9 panel to see the latest on the Elijah Wood film.
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Retrovideo Friday: Rotoscope Style

Since it's Comic-Con weekend, I've decided to stick with a similar theme for this week's Retrovideo Friday by choosing an eighties classic that combines animation with live action.

This Week's Pick: "Take On Me" by a-ha (Year: 1985)

Norwegian new-wave band a-ha's "Take One Me," from Hunting High and Low, is one of those infectious synth-pop songs that's nearly impossible to get out of your head thanks to its fast beats and falsetto chorus. So it's no surprise that the song was accompanied by an equally memorable video that was even parodied on an episode of Family Guy.

The video's signature look, which featured black and white pencil sketches juxtaposed against real life, was created using rotoscoping, a technique where live action is traced over frame by frame to make animated characters look realistic. The main storyline is your typical (but not-so-typical) romantic tale. A girl sits inside a coffee shop, reading a comic book. The guy inside the comic book (played by Morten Harket, a-ha's lead singer) winks at her, sticks his hand out and invites her into his world. Meanwhile, the waitress in the real world comes by, thinks the girl has skipped out on her check and angrily crumples the comic book to throw it away.

Different panels in the comic book collide, and two villainous characters start pursuing our heroes — Harket tears a hole allowing the girl to escape back into the real world. When she rushes home with the comic book to see what happens next, Harket eventually breaks out and joins her. This scene was apparently inspired by the 1980 movie Altered States.

The video went on to win six awards at the 1986 MTV Video Music Awards — "Best Concept Video," "Most Experimental Video," and "Viewer's Choice" were among the awards it won that night. The song itself reached number two on the UK Singles chart in 1985. In the United States, it hit the top of the Billboard Hot 100.

Watch the video for "Take on Me" below, and then check out the slightly bizarre (but fairly hilarious) Family Guy parody right below that to see how the video has stayed relevant in pop culture to this day.

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Comic-Con wifi being very twitchy

Comic-Con wifi being very twitchy again for everyone. Will post when possible. SGU panel has started!
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Comic-Con 2009 Update – Avatar panel

JamesCameron_Comic-ConFriday’s most anticipated panel presentation (aside from the Twilight panel) was probably for James Cameron’s Avatar. Information on the animated sci fi feature film has been kept tightly under wraps during the entire production, and the Comic-Con audience was treated to the very first public screening of footage in 3D.

Cameron didn’t skimp on clips either -- announcing from the stage that the audience would get to watch between 25 and 30 minutes of finished scenes from Avatar.

The film revolves around a human, Jake Sully (voice and performance by Sam Worthington of Terminator Salvation), who joins his military peers on the alien planet Pandora, where the plants,the native creatures and humanoid residents (the Navi) are likely to kill you.

The wheelchair-bound Jake is one of several team members whose consciousness is transferred into cloned bodies that combine human and Navi DNA. From the clips we saw, it seems that Jake eventually “goes native” and befriends/presumably falls in love with a Navi female (Zoe Saldana, Star Trek), getting to know Pandora as part of the planet instead of as invader.

The footage was technically and visually stunning, showing us the hostile alien world of Pandora in vibrant blues, greens, purples and oranges. The performance capture is well done, with the characters’ distinctly alien body language and their facial expressions coming through clearly onscreen. The 3D effect was the most crisp and clean I’ve ever seen, with minimal ghosting thanks to the improved Dolby 3D glasses.


Following the current trend of 3D movies, the scenes we viewed had minimal objects flying out of the screen at the audience. The animation was beautifully layered, especially in the jungle scenes, which gives the movie a lush, deep feel. There were some wonderful camera moves as well, with one memorable shot that starts in the forest canopy above the protagonists’ heads. The plant fronds layered between the camera and the characters give the audience a sense of great height from the forest floor and distinctly feral point of view.

Spoilers and video clips after the cut!

[bxA]Some brief notes I jotted during the screening:

First scene played
- military briefing with Col. Quaritch (Stephen Lang) as the head of the troops on Pandora
- we learn that Pandora is an extremely hostile environment and that Jake Sully is wheelchair-bound for a reason not revealed in this scene
- native humanoids of Pandora are the Navi, who use primitive but effective weapons and have naturally occurring carbon fiber strengthening their skeletons
- Quaritch memorably tells the new troops, “It is my job to keep you alive. I will not succeed.” Bluntly telling them that some of them are going to die during this tour of duty.

Scenes 26-29
SigourneyWeaver_Comic-Con - Dr. Grace Augustine (Sigourney Weaver), a scientist and environmentalist, is introduced. She is the one who transfers Jake’s consciousness into its new alien-human hybrid body. Her consciousness is also transferred to a new hybrid body.
- These hybrids physically resemble the Navi. Are around 10 feet tall and very slender and lithe, towering over the lab and medical assistants. Jake wakes up after the transfer and he is now very tall, very blue with darker blue stripes, yellow eyes, a tail, and long black hair that is tied back into a single braid. He is comically euphoric as he discovers this new body of his.

Scene 40
- New hybrid team (including Jake and Dr. Augustine) are in the forest, which is beautiful and lush with giant orange flowers that pop shut at Jake’s touch. They encounter a huge 4-legged creature with a head like a hammerhead shark that Jake faces down . . . until a larger, far more vicious predator attacks the team and a fast-paced chase and fight scene begins.

Scene ??
- Navi female (Saldana) is watching Jake while hidden up in the forest canopy. She is preparing to shoot him with an arrow (which we’ve been told is dipped in a potent, deadly neurotoxin), when a delicate, many tentacled critter that looks like a floating dandelion-type seed drifts over and lands on her arrowhead. This affects the female for reasons we don’t understand and she puts down her weapon.

Scene 55-60
- Jake is camping alone in the forest and is attacked by another predator. The Navi female, named Neytiri, springs to action and proves that she’s a fierce, skilled warrior as she slays the creature and protects Jake. Afterward, however, she’s furious with him for acting carelessly in the forest and making the animal’s killing necessary. She says that he’s “like a baby” but that she saved him because he has a strong heart with no fear, though we can tell there’s more to this.
- Neytiri takes off through the forest and Jake follows, wanting her to teach him to live better in the forest. She refuses, but the forest lights up with beautiful phosphorescent colors and we see the Navi and the hybrids also have phosphorescent face and body markings.
- When Neytiri tells Jake that she will not take him with her to her people, the delicate critters return en masse, landing on Jake and covering him. Neytiri tells him that they are “seeds of the Sacred Tree, very pure spirits” and takes him with her.

Scene 115
- Jake has “gone native” at this point. He’s wearing Navi clothing, not military wear. He is in the company of Neytiri and some of her people.
- Jake ducks behind the backside of a waterfall and into a hidden area where many dragon-like lizard creatures live. Jake is here to claim a mount, with whom he will have a psychic bond Pern Dragonrider-style.
- Once Jake has subdued the proper dragon, he has to connect a tentacle-like appendage on the creatures head to some tentacles hidden at the end of his long braid, establishing the connection between them. After some mid-flight missteps, Jake learns how to physically command his mount.

Avatar opens in theaters in 2D and 3D on December 18th, but movie fans worldwide will have a chance to watch a 15 minute sneak peek for free in select IMAX and 3D theaters on August 21. Watch Cameron’s announcement below:

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Thursday, July 23, 2009

Comic-Con 2009 Update - Dealers Room

Quickly posting the blog entry that I was just about to complete when the Comic-Con wifi gave me a swift and very hard boot. More to come after I finish going through my photos and videos from today . . .

At the first day of this year's San Diego Comic-Con and it feels even more crowded and manic than usual for a con Thursday, mainly because of the immense crowds who are here for the 1:45pm Summit Entertainment panel that will include Twilight and a rumored in-person appearance by both Robert Pattinson and Kristen Stewart. I had planned on covering that panel and the other panels in the main hall this morning, but there was no way that anyone who got into that line after 9am was going to get into the hall, despite its large capacity.

Have been exploring the football-field-size dealers room instead, which includes impressive booths/areas for the big movie and TV studios (as expected). More updates to come . . .

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Imaginarium panel w/ Terry Gilliam

Imaginarium panel w/ Terry Gilliam starting in a few mins. Have fantastic seats w/c probably means Johnny Depp *won't* be here
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for free August 21 in

for free August 21 in select IMAX theaters. Details to follow this evening.
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Just saw over 25 mins

Just saw over 25 mins of Avatar footage in 3D. The visuals for this film are amazing. 15 mins will be screened for
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Watching thousands of Twilight fans exit the main hall. FINALLY. I hope they enjoyed their panel but can't help feeling resentful that I missed almost a whole day of panels because of them when they weren't old enough to have hormones when I started attending this con. A sentiment shared by the multitudes who have been baking in the San Diego sun waiting for James Cameron's Avatar panel.

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Rumor is that Johnny Depp

Rumor is that Johnny Depp was spotted arriving earlier today. If true, he's here for The Imaginarium of Dr. Parnassus panel.
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So the Comic-Con wifi thinks

So the Comic-Con wifi thinks my laptop has a virus and booted me as I was abt to post. Hope to be back up and running soon!
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Music Notes: Jay-Z replaces Beastie Boys at APW, Monsters of Folk announce tour dates

Slightly early music notes today, though there's a good amount of interesting news out there. Pop Wenches will be going Comic-Con crazy over the next few days while Callie reports from the trenches, but I'll still be blogging more music news and a Retrovideo Friday post tomorrow.

- Jay-Z will replace the Beastie Boys at New Jersey's All Points West festival on July 31. Believe it or not, it's the first time he'll be playing a festival stateside. [NME]

- Monsters of Folk, the indie supergroup reported on here, have announced plans for a fall tour which will start off in Vancouver, BC before hitting 16 US cities. Tour dates are listed here. They've also announced some European tour dates, which can be seen here. [SPIN, NME]

- Madonna's definitive greatest hits collection, Celebration, will come out Sept. 29 as both a single and double album. It will also feature a couple of new tracks including "Celebration," which will be released as a single on Aug. 3. [Rolling Stone]

- Flight of the Conchords sophomore album, I Told You I Was Freaky, will come out Oct. 20. [Pitchfork]

- Eddie Van Halen recently underwent surgery to treat pain in his left hand. The cause of this pain? A twisted tendon and cyst in his left thumb's joint. Van Halen seems to be recovering well, saying, "Surgery was a success, now I just have to let it heal. I am totally jazzed that they found the problem, fixed it and in about four months my hand will feel like I am 18 again. Thank God.” [Rolling Stone]

- Two albums by New Jersey postpunk group The FeeliesCrazy Rhythms and The Good Earth — will be reissued after years of being out of print. Both albums will be out on CD and vinyl on Sept. 8. Bonus tracks will be available via digital download. [Pitchfork]
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The Twihards have broken Comic--Con.

The Twihards have broken Comic--Con. The line to get into the 6500 plus capacity main hall is well over a MILE long!
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Wednesday, July 22, 2009

Ozomatli at the Alameda County Fair: 7/16/2009

Apologies for my unexpected disappearance from Pop Wenches.  My week prepping to leave town for San Diego Comic-Con was even more hectic than usual. I had the choice between going to great pop culture events that I could eventually blog about, or blogging about news.  If only there were enough hours in the day to do both!

OzomatliThursday’s Ozomatli performance at the Alameda County Fair was the second time I’ve seen them in the past eight months, and I’m convinced I could easily attend one of their concerts every month and not tire of it.

After 14 years in the business, Ozo’s music is still unique.  The bio on the band’s website describes their music as "a notorious urban-Latino-and-beyond collision of hip hop and salsa, dancehall and cumbia, samba and funk, merengue and comparsa, East LA R&B and New Orleans second line, Jamaican raga and Indian raga."  While that’s an accurate literal description, it doesn’t convey the universal appeal of Ozo’s music.

Ozomatli (5)Their albums are "world music" not in the traditional sense or because of the cross-cultural and international influences that shape the tracks, but because -- by an almost alchemical process – the combination of those influences and the beats, rhythms, messages and tones of the songs become something more, appealing to a range of people far beyond fans of those individual genres.  Even if you don’t speak a word of Spanish or aren’t a fan of hip hop, chances are that something in Ozo’s music will still speak to you.

[bxA]The audience at an Ozomatli concert is as diverse as the band’s music.  At the county fair, a mother and her 11-year-old son were in the row in front of me and I couldn’t tell which of them was more excited to see the band.  At both the fair and the band’s December gigs in San Francisco, the audience ranged from the very young to retirees; from black to white to brown and everything in between; from conservative to anything but conservative.  The mix makes for a wonderfully inclusive, joyful atmosphere that’s fed by the band’s performance.

Ozomatli (2) The members of Ozomatli are experts at connecting with their audience during live performances.  The band keeps their sets highly energetic, with most of the seven members taking center stage at some point, whether they’re on lead vocals or featured instrumentals. The sheer range of instruments that Ozo brings to the mix also makes their live shows a treat. How many bands take to the stage with three percussion kits and skillfully rotate through a line up of instruments including a jarana (Mexican guitar), trumpet, alto sax and a melodica? (By the way, it’s always highly amusing to hear the mystified whispers of "What is that?!" when the melodica comes out.)

Even with only an hour-long set at the Alameda County Fair, Ozo delighted their audience, keeping them on their feet non-stop through fan favorites including "Cumbia de los Muertos," "Saturday Night," "Chango," "Como Ves" and "After Party," and throwing in a cover of Sublime’s "April 29, 1992." In keeping with Ozo tradition, the band wrapped the night by leading the audience in a chant of "Ozomatli! Ya se fue!" ("Ozomatli is leaving!") before descending from the stage, moving into the heart of the audience without any security guards and leading their fans in an almost orgiastic sing-and-dance-along before singing and playing their way out of the venue, leaving the audience ecstatic . . . and always wanting more.

Visit our YouTube channel at to view more high-definition video clips from Ozomatli’s performance at the Alameda County Fair.  Subscribe to our channel to be notified every time we add new videos!
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Music Notes: Police investigate MJ's doctor, Leonard Cohen adds more US tour dates

- Police and federal agents searched the Houston clinic belonging to Michael Jackson's doctor today, looking for evidence of manslaughter. It looks like agents left with a forensic image of a hard drive along with 21 documents. [Associated Press via Yahoo! News]

- Leonard Cohen has announced more US tour dates for October and November. This year has marked the first proper Leonard Cohen US tour in 15 years. [SPIN]

- MGMT will appear on Jay-Z's The Blueprint 3. [Pitchfork]

- Modest Mouse will release an eight-song EP, No One's First, And You're Next, on Aug. 4. [NME]

- The Rock and Roll Hall of Fame will celebrate its 25th anniversary with a two-night celebration at New York's Madison Square Garden this October. Bruce Springsteen, U2 and Metallica are on the roster of performers. [SPIN]

- Guitar Hero 5's official track list can be seen here. Weezer, Gorillaz and Smashing Pumpkins are among the artists featured in this edition of the game. [IGN]
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TV News: Project Runway All-Star special, Ugly Betty goes to TV Guide

- Lifetime will air Project Runway: All-Star Challenge, a two-hour special, on Aug. 20 just prior to Project Runway's season premiere. The special will pit eight designers from past battles against each other as they compete for a $100,000 prize. [E! Online]

- TV Guide Network has picked up off-net rights to Ugly Betty. This means that starting this fall, an episode of Ugly Betty will air on TV Guide two weeks after its original airing on ABC. In fall 2010, reruns of the show — going back to its first season — will appear during a primetime slot. [Variety]

- Joely Richardson will appear in a five-episode arc during The Tudors' fourth and final season. The season will premiere on Showtime in 2010. [Hollywood Reporter]

- Could Futurama return without its original voice actors? [Paste Magazine]
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Tuesday, July 21, 2009

Music Notes: Yeah Yeah Yeahs replace Beastie Boys at Lolla, Jackson documentary details

- The Yeah Yeah Yeahs will replace the Beastie Boys at Lollapalooza following Adam Yauch's cancer announcement. [Rolling Stone]

- Sony Pictures is in final negotiations to make a film out of rehearsal footage from Michael Jackson's "This Is It" tour. The price is $60 million, the planned release date is Oct. 30. It looks like 90 percent of the money will go to the Jackson estate, while the remaining 10 percent will go to AEG Live — the group behind Jackson's London tour dates. [Hollywood Reporter - Showbiz411]

- VH1 is reviving Divas. This September, we can expect to see Adele, Kelly Clarkson, Leona Lewis, and Miley Cyrus take the stage that once featured Mariah Carey, Whitney Houston, Patti LaBelle, and Celine Dion. Really, VH1? [Entertainment Weekly]

- Fifteen more tracks for The Beatles: Rock Band were revealed today. The tracks include "Can't Buy Me Love," "I've Got a Feeling," and "Paperback Writer." [Rolling Stone]

- Gossip have announced US tour dates for the month of October. A full listing can be found here. [SPIN]
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Film News: Green Hornet casting news, Harry Potter sets Imax record

- Nicolas Cage is participating in early talks with Columbia Pictures — Cage could be playing the villain in the upcoming The Green Hornet. Meanwhile, Cameron Diaz is in negotiations to play a reporter and love interest. The movie, which will star Seth Rogen, is supposed to come out next summer. [Variety]

- Harry Potter and the Half-Blood Prince set an international opening Imax results. An estimated $3.6 million came in from 62 theaters from Wednesday through Sunday. The film opened in three US locations (New York, Los Angeles and Chicago) where it made $429,000 in gross box office. The film will open in 161 additional domestic locations on July 29. It will eventually play in 231 Imax theaters throughout the globe. [Hollywood Reporter]

- Diablo Cody's latest, the horror-comedy Jennifer's Body, will have its world premiere at the Toronto International Film Festival. The festival opens Sept. 10. [Movieline]

- Russell Crowe could reprise the role of Jack Aubrey in another Master & Commander flick. The actor confirmed that a script has been written, but talks are at a very early stage. [Journal Gazette]

- Could David Tennant, aka the 10th Doctor from the UK's Doctor Who, be playing Bilbo Baggins in The Hobbit? That's the rumor for now. We'll probably get our answer once Comic-Con is under way — Tennant will be attending, and it's also expected that producer Peter Jackson will announce his choice for the role when he attends as well. [Telegraph]
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