Friday, August 26, 2011

ZZ Top, Joan Jett Rock Marine Museum

Despite bombardment by hail and thunderstorms earlier in the day, the Calvert Marine Museum’s Summer Concert Series featuring rockers Joan Jett and the Blackhearts and ZZ Top opened to sunshine this past Sunday.
Without hesitation, Joan Jett and the Blackhearts started off the night with the song “Bad Reputation.”
Clad in a studded black leather leotard, Jett moved around stage, communicating with the audience through winks, smiles and waves while performing a multitude of songs spanning her career.
Although most of her set focused on her work with the Blackhearts, a handful of other songs were incorporated. Jett noted that her first band, The Runaways, originated in Rockville and in memoriam played a few of their songs, including “Cherry Bomb” and the first song they recorded, “You Drive Me Wild.” Another song performed by the Blackhearts that was not their own was a cover of Iggy Pop and the Stooges’ “I Wanna Be Your Dog.”
Sam and Liz Rider of Lexington Park won tickets to the concert through local radio personalities. Of Jett, they said, “She was right on with how she sounds on her albums.”
ZZ Top’s entrance incorporated a smoke machine, multicolored track lights and lights inside the drum kit, making it more of a production than Jett’s. Beginning with “Give it Up,” ZZ Top started its portion of the show by playing through three straight songs without stopping.
Billy Gibbons and Dusty Hill transitioned through several sets of guitars during the duration of the show, including their recognizable white, feathered pair. Choreographed two-step moves and guitar sways marked Gibbons and Hill’s stage presence. Although Hill occasionally did small tricks with his guitar, neither he nor Gibbons performed his famous guitar spin.
Following the Blackhearts’ lead, ZZ Top played a gravely version of Jimi Hendrix’s “Hey Joe” with Gibbons on lead vocals. The band’s set ended with the hit “Legs.” However, the band returned for an encore performance of a medley of “La Grange” and “Tush.”
Lisa Smallwood, who had seen Jett perform 34 times previously, said, “Both groups were amazing. They played longer than I had expected, too.”
“The fact that they’re near 70 and still rocking is pretty amazing,” Ryan James said.
Throughout the night, barbecue, pizza and beer were made available for purchase around the premises.
Attending a show at the Calvert Marine Museum for the first time, Sandy Breweny said, “The venue had great seats all around, and was very easy to access.”
Her friend and fellow St. Mary’s County resident, Sharon Phipps, said, “ZZ Top was fantastic. They sound the same as they did 25 years ago.”
The Calvert Marine Museum’s next concert is Oct. 21, and will be showcasing Gordon Bok.

Baltimore Comic-Con Pictures

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Interview with Amanda Conner at Baltimore Comic-Con

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The Mary Sue

Interview with Frank Cho at Baltimore Comic-Con

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A Calvert Man turns 100, I assist in the article

Calvert native celebrates 100th birthday with five generations of family

Wednesday, August 10, 2011

First Polygamous Lesbian Marriage in Comics

21st Amendment Beer

    The 21st Amendment of the United States marked the repeal of prohibition, and symbolically represents our freedom as a nation to create and imbibe alcohol in any consumable form. 21st Amendment Brewery pays homage to this monumental event in our nation’s history through their line of craft beers. Each series of beers are uniquely vibrant, both in taste and in the artwork that adorns the boxes and cans. Unique for craft beers, 21 beers are sold only in cans.This helps to seal the taste, defend the beers from ambient sunlight, and makes them perfect for outdoor summer events from barbecues and camping trips, to just going to the beach. I was introduced to 21st Amendment beer recently during a visit to Prince Frederick's Prime Wine and Spirits where they were hosting a beer and wine tasting. Of the beers I tried, 21st's Brew Free! or Die was by far my favorite, so I bought a six pack of that, and another six of another of their brand.

Brew Free! Or Die- India Pale Ale 7% Alc./Vol.

Brew Free! or Die acts as if a light beer were infused with a variety of hops. It is a nice sipping beer, with a great full bodied and slightly bitter taste, that comes in moderately strong, then dies away quickly ending in a smooth finish with relatively no aftertaste. With it's 7% alcohol content and multitude of hops, Brew Free! or Die fills you up quick, and most certainly should be enjoyed slowly.

Back In Black- Black India Pale Ale 6.8% Alc./Vol.

Back in Black is a darker, hoppier beer. It is incredibly stong and flavorful, but not overpowering. It goes down smooth, and sits on the tip of the tongue, not at the back of the throat. The taste is quite bitter, but not harsh, possessing an almost coffee-like after-taste. Back in Black is a welcome treat for those who enjoy a darker, more bitter beer, and works as a great introduction for those uninitiated.

Tuesday, August 9, 2011

Rise of The Planet of The Apes Movie Review

 The most recent film in the Planet of the Apes franchise, Rise of the Planet of the Apes, reminds me of another attempt to revitalize an old franchise, 2003’s Terminator 3: Rise of the Machines. Both films fail to match the level of excitement and spectacle of the originals, but still do their predecessors justice and tell the origins of the futuristic tales we know so well. Rise of the Planet of the Apes moves away from the nuclear themes of the original series and offer another rationale for the revolution of the apes. Although it offers a very different feel from previous Planet of the Apes movies, Rise is nonetheless a very entertaining movie. Solid performances from John Lithgow, James Franco, Brian Cox, Tom Felton and others certainly elevated the film, but it is Andy Serkis’s motion capture work as Cesar that truly gave the film emotion and life. Ties to the original plot line were put into place through the use of brief glimpses of the news which headlined the first manned mission to Mars, and its subsequent MIA status, as well as a quick snapshot of Heston as Taylor in the original movie. Of course, Charleston Heston’s most famous fictional line had to be regurgitated for this new iteration. Hearing “Take your stinking hands off me, you damn dirty ape” coming from the lips of Draco Malfoy seemed less than powerful; however Cesar’s response, his first word, “No,” resonated strongly and was a high point in the film. Further allusions to the original can be seen in the final battle scene on the Golden Gate Bridge where the apes can be seen using spears and riding horseback for the first time. The special effects in the film were convincingly realistic, and the emotions conveyed by the apes trumped those acted out by the humans. The end of the film left very little room for a sequel, but that has hardly stopped this franchise before.

First Article With "The Calvert Recorder"

Here is my first article published in "The Calvert Recorder" entitled:
Grandparents, grandchildren cook up fun 

Monday, August 8, 2011

Old Articles From "The Mary Sue"

Here are some articles I've posted on over the past couple months:

Captain America: The First Avenger Movie Review

                In a summer filled with Superhero movies and action driven plots, Joe Johnson’s Captain America: The First Avenger stands above the rest. Set primarily in the past, but bookended in the present, Johnson’s tale focuses on standing up to bullies and standing up for what’s right. A large emphasis is placed on the exposition and the characterization of Steve Rogers before he underwent his transformation; a drastically different approach from what is usually accented in the comics. The action and special effects are astoundingly dynamic, but what makes the movie phenomenal is the captivating emotional journey of the characters, and how well the motifs of superhero and World War II movies mesh together to birth this film.
 One of the strongest aspects of the film was the all around exceptional performances by the cast.  Despite unease by many on his casting, Chris Evans does a superb job portraying the titular Steve Rogers. Evans exemplifies an “all-American” persona, while giving the character empathy, emotion, and depth. Hugo Weaving provides an expectantly outstanding, yet understated performance as Captain America’s foil, the Red Skull. Hayley Atwell and Sebastian Stan round out the main cast as: Peggy Carter and Bucky Barnes, respectively.  Atwell presents Peggy as a strong willed, independent woman who transcends the traditional love interest role, and is a captivating and interesting character on her own. Sebastian Stan’s Bucky abandons the character’s original depiction as a boy sidekick adorned in a costume similar to his mentor’s. Instead, Bucky is shown to be Roger’s best friend, a soldier on the front lines, and Rogers’ occasional protector earlier on. Stan subtly shows Bucky’s transition from an eager Army recruit to a darker man who has dealt with the traumas of war, and plants the seeds for a potential ‘resurrection’ as The Winter Soldier in upcoming films. Outstanding minor roles performed by Stanley Tucci, Tommy Lee Jones, Dominic Cooper, Neal McDonough, and Toby Jones cause the film to fire on all cylinders and surpass expectations.
From the inclusion of The Howling Commandoes to the Easter egg cameo of the Golden Age Human Torch, Captain America does an impressive job of incorporating the expanded Marvel universe into what is essentially a period piece. The integration of Howard Stark and the Cosmic Cube into the plot helped link Captain America to Marvel’s other films Iron Man and Thor, whereas Dr. Erkskine’s Super Soldier Serum had been previously mentioned in The Incredible Hulk. The culmination of all these interconnected movies is teased after the final credits of the film when a brief preview of the upcoming movie The Avengers, is shown to the delight of all in attendance. Captain America: The First Avenger is the final piece of the puzzle leading up to The Avengers, and Marvel certainly saved the best for last. Without a doubt, I can attest that Captain America is the best film of the summer, and I believe it may even be in contention for the greatest Superhero movie ever.

Friday, August 5, 2011

What is The Green Dragon?

The Green Dragon is a blog whose title is inspired by a number of things. Known by many as the “Headquarters of the Revolution,” our founding fathers would host meetings of The Sons of Liberty at Boston’s Green Dragon Tavern, and discuss freedom and independence over a cold pint of beer. Another bar, albeit fictional, bears a similar name. The Green Dragon is a bar found in The Lord of The Rings, that is frequented by Samwise Gamgee and many other shire folk. In “The Lord of The Rings: The Return of the King, a song sung by Mary and Pippin can be found that reads as follows:

Oh, you can search far and wide
You can drink the whole town dry
But you'll never find a beer so brown
But you'll never find a beer so brown
As the one we drink in our hometown
As the one we drink in our hometown
You can keep your fancy ales
You can drink 'em by the flagon
But the only brew for the brave and true
Comes from The Green Dragon!

Similarly, the name of The Green Dragon was also inspired by two items from my childhood. The first of which is Tommy, the original green Power Ranger, and his devastating Dragonzord. The second item is my first youth Soccer team, which I joined in Calvert County, Maryland, and was named The Green Dragons.

So, what is The Green Dragon? It is all of these things, and more. I’ll discuss geeky things like Lord of the Rings and Power Rangers, as well as items of real importance, such as civil liberties and equality. I’ll talk about comics, sports, movies, literature, good beer, great food, and everything that makes this country great.