Daft Punk hops into time machine for latest album

I believe a wise man with long, blond hair and thick glasses once said, “We fear change!” But is that really what’s happening here?

Electronic music legends Daft Punk have just released “Random Access Memories,” the band’s homage to music of the 70s and 80s. It’s sure to be a polarizing album because Daft Punk’s signature style of endlessly repeating samples has been completely discarded. Instead, the lovable robots have decided to release a collection of studio recordings, collaborating with disco-era legends like Nile Rodgers and artists who sound like disco-era legends, such as Pharrell Williams. How does it stack up to the duo’s previous works? Strangely enough, I think it may be their best.

Daft Punk’s “Random Access Memories” contains dangerous levels of funk.

This is coming from a guy who has listened almost exclusively to electronic music for more than 15 years. Admittedly, I’ve always liked disco music and felt it had an undeserved bad reputation. Daft Punk and disco haters alike probably realize the soundtrack to a time of epic afros and explosive bell-bottoms was a bit cartoony. The difference is, Daft Punk have chosen to embrace the cartoonishness. After all, disco opened the way for them and countless other electronic music artists, so it is certainly deserving of respect. “Discovery,” the band’s highly praised sophomore effort has a major 70s vibe to it (One could say it was “Veridis Quo”). Now, with a wink and a nod, the robots have fully channeled the era and all of its eccentricities.

Indulgent orchestral intros, ridiculous guitar solos, synchronized clapping, and emotional robo-singing are all here, and all form an important part of the whole. Silly fun has been a cornerstone of Daft Punk music since the very beginning. So, really, “Random Access Memories” isn’t the out-of-left-field oddity some people would have you believe.

This album is both lush and crisp, boasting some of the best track mastering I’ve ever heard. Song placement could’ve used a little work, as the bulk of the great tunes are back-loaded. For the most part, it flows wonderfully. It’s almost as if it was meant to be heard…. as an album! Pretty nutty idea in the age of pick-what-you-want music services. One more throwback, I suppose.

My favorites of the album are “Give Life Back to Music,” “Get Lucky,” and “Beyond.” “The Game of Love” and “Within” are probably the weakest of the set, but mostly because they suck the energy out of the room after two electrifying pieces (“Give Life Back to Music” and “Giorgio by Moroder” respectively).

Listen to Daft Punk’s first single, “Get Lucky”

The Final Countdown has finally begun . . .

The Bluths are back in business for “Arrested Development” season four! Only on Netflix!

Now the story of viewers who lost their favorite show and the dedicated fans who kept hope alive. It’s “Arrested Development.”

The Final Countdown has finally begun.

They said they weren’t optimistic it could be done. But, we wouldn’t take not optimistic it could be done for an answer! Seven years later, we’re here to say “Mission Accomplished!”

The pipe dream that began when the final “Arrested Development” episodes aired is now a reality. We have Saved Our Bluths!!!

Netflix will release 15 new episodes featuring our favorite dysfunctional family on Sunday, May 26. One week from today!!! All the episodes will be released simultaneously, which will undoubtedly lead to all-night viewing parties for fans who have been dreaming of this moment since February 2006.

We wrote letters to Fox executives, we signed online petition after online petition and told everyone we knew to watch this show.

At the time we were bewildered. How could people not know about this show!?! Of course, much of the blame falls to Fox who didn’t know how to properly market a show that didn’t involve celebrities on ice, laugh tracks, or hordes of wannabe pop stars.

The brilliant writing revealing multi-layered, intelligent jokes in 30-minute increments is still unmatched. Many times, a joke was set up in one episode and would pay off three episodes later. There’s just never been anything like it before or since. Several shows, such as “Modern Family,” have tried to copy AD’s formula, but haven’t been able to execute it nearly as well. The cast’s comedic timing was impeccable and Ron Howard’s narration was the perfect tone. The best part? They didn’t care if you got the joke. You couldn’t watch this show while checking your Facebook wall and reading an article about French film. You were expected to pay attention.

Series creator Mitch Hurwitz never gave up on the promise he made when Maeby Funke pitched the series to Howard in the final scene.

The years of ‘will they, won’t they’ grew tiresome. Every now and then, we’d get a glimmer of hope from a cast member doing press for another project that yes, they were still working on the movie. But, no they didn’t know when it’d begin. When the AD cast reunited for a panel for the New Yorker, the bombshell dropped that the Bluths would finally get the fourth season they deserved.

Jason Bateman, Will Arnett, Jeffrey Tambor, Jessica Walter, Tony Hale, David Cross, Portia de Rossi, Michael Cera and Alia Shawkat celebrated this news with a cast-wide chicken dance.

Hurwitz initially planned 10 episodes, but had so much new material and story boards that the season swelled to 15.

The advance in technology since AD’s premiere has steadily grown the fan base, so it’s not just a “cult” TV show anymore. Through iTunes, Netflix, YouTube and other streaming video services, there are dozens of us now. That’s not including the cable outlets that picked up the series, such as IFC.

All the clips I’ve seen and the newly released trailer are making me more excited than winning ‘best hair’ in high school. This season will bring us up to speed on our Bluths since we last saw them aboard the Queen Mary. Each new episode will focus on one main character. Subsequent episodes feature the same events, but from different characters’ perspectives. According to Portia De Rossi, the order in which you view the episodes is unimportant, but can lead to some pretty incredible changes in your perception of the others.

For an inexplicable reason until we see the new episodes, an ostrich has moved into the Bluths’ Bolboa Towers condo. We also see George Michael riding Gob’s segway and a Michael Bluth Company logo.

Our revived Bluths will be joined by some of our favorite guest stars including the Bluths’ bumbling lawyer Barry Zuckerkorn (Henry Winkler,) the attorney with a mouthful of a name, Bob Loblaw (Scott Baio), George senior’s secretary Kitty Sanchez (Judy Greer), the Bluths’ vertigo afflicted neighbor, Lucille Austero (Liza Minelli) and rival illusionist Tony Wonder (Ben Stiller).

Add Tobias’ acting coach Carl Weathers and baby you’ve got a show going!

We’re planning to celebrate with some frozen bananas dipped in delicious brown treat and perhaps some new cut-offs for our chihuahua, Tobias, named of course, after the world’s first analrapist.

This party is going to be Off. The. Hook!

If you want the full viewing experience:

1. Start a viewing party at 11:30 PM on Saturday night.

2nd-of-ley. Prepare omelettes as an entree (since no one should ever order the Skip Scramble).

3. For dessert, serve frozen, chocolate covered bananas on a stick.

4. Have a John Grisham paperback or two on the coffee table (just in case Pop Pop comes down from the attic).

5. Send an email to Fox Network telling them that you’re watching Netflix and reminding them that they dropped a multiple Emmy Award winning/Golden Globe Winning/Future Classic/Television Critic/Writers Guild of America/Young Artist award winning show.

6. Hold a fundraiser during your party for TBA.

7. If you’re going to give out invitations, be sure to fill them with glitter and a tongue-in-cheek threat that “I know where you live! haha”, just in case they don’t show up.

8. Grab a juice box and whole thing of candy beans and happy viewing!

Lastly, enjoy. This show is not a typical television show, so don’t expect the dumbing-down approach of reality television.


Catch you on the flippity flip

SPOILER ALERT: This blog contains spoilers of season 9 of “The Office.” If you’re waiting to watch it, go back to doing crossword puzzles with Stanley.

Steve Carell answers a question at “The Office” Wrap Party at PNC Field in Scranton, Pa. Much of the cast attended the party in the hometown of the fictional Dunder Mifflin Paper Company.

On Thursday, the employees of the Scranton branch of Dunder Mifflin Paper Company will clock out for the last time. After nine years and nearly 200 episodes, “The Office” has its swan song beginning at 8 p.m. with a special retrospective and a one-hour series finale.

The show became the cornerstone of the NBC Thursday night lineup after its premiere in 2005. The initial reception was mixed, since many compared the show to its British predecessor.

Although its rating have dropped since the departure of regional manager Michael Scott (Steve Carell) after season 7. Many wondered why the show didn’t end when Michael left. Michael was the heart and soul of the office, he considered his staff not just employees but his family.

When Michael left and removed his microphone, he had one question. “Would you guys let me know it this ever airs?”

The mockumentary aspect of the series was pushed to the back burner after the first couple of seasons, even though everyone kept doing interviews. The documentary crew followed the employees of a mid-level paper company for nine years, but for what? Why did they need that much footage?

The first post-Scott season was just weird. The Robert California days were often cringe-worthy that left left us wondering where the characters we came to know over the years had gone. And making Andy Bernard (Ed Helms) manager made no sense whatsoever although he did make it possible for former Dunder Mifflin CFO David Wallace (Andy Buckley) to buy back the company that fired him.

This year, we finally saw who was behind the cameras with a couple episodes focusing on a boom guy named Brian, who was first unmasked when he consoled Pam (Jenna Fischer). Jim (John Krasinksi) and Pam’s relationship has been put to the test this season after Jim’s friend started a sports marketing firm in Philadelphia, a couple hours drive from Scranton. The company was Jim’s idea and he wanted to be on the ground floor, hoping to finally escape his mundane job as a paper salesman.

The problem was he wasn’t completely honest with Pam, leading the show’s golden couple to question the stability of their marriage. Although they patched things up and Jim returned to Dunder Mifflin, his co-workers at Athlead are embarking on a 3-month tour to expand the company.

On last week’s episode, “The Office: An American Workplace” documentary aired on PBS. The gang gathered once more at Poor Richard’s Pub to watch it. Tonight’s finale catches us up on what everyone’s been up to following the documentary’s premiere.

Did Pam encourage Jim to join the Athlead promotional tour? Or did he stay in Scranton? Will one of TV’s most beloved romances get their happy ending?

NBC was planning to have a spin-off series centered around Dwight (Rainn Wilson) and his siblings who had never been mentioned before. The pilot, which became “The Farm” episode, fizzled, creating a problem for writers who had to figure out how to end Dwight’s story.

After years of an on-off relationship, last week Dwight proposed to Angela (Angela Kinsey) who told him that her baby with her ex-husband (a Pennsylvania state senator who cheated on her with Oscar) was indeed a Schrute. Last year, a DNA test said otherwise. Maybe Dwight grabbed the wrong diaper since there were other babies in the office the day of the test. Maybe we’ll get an explanation tonight, maybe it’s not important.

The wedding will, however, bring several “Office” alums back one last time. We know that Kelly and Ryan will return, but what about Michael Scott?

After Carell’s surprise appearance at the Scranton Wrap Party, speculation over a Scott cameo has been frenzied.

Michael’s departure was perfect. He said goodbye to everyone in a memorable way and was the perfect ending for the Office’s Best Boss. I understand that they don’t want to overshadow the other cast members, who have been stellar over the years, but one last “That’s What She Said,” couldn’t hurt.

Even if the finale is Scott-free, it’s going to be an emotional night. We’ve spent nine years getting to know these characters. We’ve watched and re-watched their triumphs and tragedies. We’ve seen them evolve, fall in love, break up, struggle financially and some have pursued dreams beyond the world of paper.

Bears, beets, Battlestar Galactica…bittersweet.

Question. Will you miss the office?


Early premiere? Make it so.

Trek fans, now hear this. I’ve got the showtimes for the Thursday showings for Star Trek Into Darkness right here in my hot little hand. No, really, I’ve got them on my iPhone in this nifty little movie app.
Paramount announced Tuesday that the next chapter to J.J. Abrams’ 2009 Star Trek would be released a whole day earlier than scheduled. Into Darkness, which features the new Enterprise gang Chris Pine, Zoe Saldana, Zachary Quinto and Simon Pegg with Benedict Cumberbatch as our villain John Harrison (who may or may not be Khan), was set to drop on Friday May 17 but now will hit theaters on Thursday May 16. (A whole week away!)

Aboard the NCC-1701

Captain James T. Kirk (Chris Pine at right in old school command yellow) and Commander Spock (Zachary Quinto, at left) talk to their prisoner John Harrison (Benedict Cumberbatch) during Star Trek Into Darkness.

Park Place in Charleston has the movie showing Thursday at 2 p.m., 5 p.m., and 8 p.m. in 3D or you could watch it glasses free at 1 p.m., 4 p.m, 7 p.m. and 9:55 p.m.
Marquee Cinemas in South Charleston will be showing the movie in 3D only at 12:40 p.m., 3:40 p.m., 6:40 p.m. and 9:40 p.m.
Regal Nitro Stadium 12 is offering a special Wednesday night Trek experience. The theater will show Star Trek at 9 p.m. Wednesday followed at 12:01 a.m. by Star Trek Into Darkness.
The theater, which is out behind the Nitro Marketplace, has done these in the past, offering fans the chance to spend all day catching up on movie series’ on the big screen before the newest flick premieres. Last year the theater ran the four previous Twilight movies before The Twilight Saga: Breaking Dawn Part Two began just after midnight. The theater also showed the recently remastered Star Trek: The Next Generation episode “The Best of Both Worlds” last month. I was there, it was awesome.
Thursday’s showings at Nitro will be 1:45 p.m., 4:45 p.m., 7:45 p.m. and 10:45 p.m. in regular format. Those 3D glasses will be needed for the shows at 12:45 p.m., 3:45 p.m., 7 p.m. and 10 p.m.
So there you have it. See you guys at the movies.

Help pepperoni rolls beat Boston Cream Pie

We West Virginians might be divided in terms of our favorite state foods. But we will never let those divisions divide us — if you follow me — when it comes to defeating a common foe.

A common foe such as Boston Cream Pie.

CQ Roll Call is running brackets of America’s favorite foods. West Virginia’s beloved (in some regions) pepperoni roll is up against Boston’s cream pie. The winner takes on the victor of Rhode Island apple crisp vs. Delaware peach pie.

The pepperoni roll/cream pie showdown appears to  be one of the most contentious, with thousands of people lining up as electronic voters on either side.

Don’t just stand on the sideline in this important battle.

Round 1 ends at 5 p.m. Friday May 10.