Radcliffe Shines in First Post-Potter Film

The Woman in Black (Hammer Film Productions)

Sure, actor Daniel Radcliffe has faced some eery endeavors in his young career as an actor. Just think..evil dementors and even Lord Voldemort himself, all brought to you courtesy of the wonderful world of Harry Potter. However, this time, Radcliffe’s in for something spookier: the deranged ghost of a woman hellbent on causing the deaths of a small British village’s children. And it’s all because her own child was kept away from her own reach and passed away in an unfortunate incident in the town’s marsh. She’s out for revenge. If she can’t have her own child, then nobody can!

Solicitor Arthur Kippsis is sent to organize the paper work at the deceased woman’s home in order to legally prepare the manor for sale. Not surprisingly, Arthur must face the woman’s ghost and save the town from her doom all while eventually attempting to ensure his own son’s safety (Harry has a kid? Who would have imagined?).

Indeed, it’s interesting to see Radcliffe move away from the role he assumed for nearly the last decade. As an actor, he shines in a new light, even if he does still come off as somewhat Potteresque.

The film itself is based off of the 1983 novel of the same name by English Author Susan Hill. While I definitely felt the film’s plot could have contributed more credence to the idea of solving a mystery, there’s still plenty to enjoy here (even though not everyone will like how it concludes). It’s filled with fright, eery imagery and overall makes for a fun, jump outta’ your seat scared type of thrill. On an interesting note, it ends in the same settings as The Deathly Hallows: A train station.

While Radcliffe will always be seen as Harry in the minds and hearts of many, he’s surely proven he has the versatility to fill the shoes of a variety of roles in his post-Potter career. Rating: 3/5


Dash Rip Rock Bassist Readies First Solo Record

Singer-songwriter Patrick Johnson is ready to tell his side of the story. The current bassist of cow-punk band Dash Rip Rock has spent a long time in the music industry, playing in a few different bands that have varied stylistically. Now he’s finally set to record his debut solo album, Last River-Drive In. I recently had the pleasure of sitting down and talking with the singer about his past career highlights, the album he’s been busy creating, and what’s in store for the future.

Like many, Johnson picked up the guitar as a teenager. For him, it was at the age of 16. Despite the musical acquirement, it wasn’t immediately a hit with Johnson personally. “At first, I didn’t really take a liking to it, so I stopped and set it aside,” Johnson stated.

However, things changed for the young man when he started developing a musical relationship with his brother Paul, who played the guitar. At age 19, Johnson had turned toward playing the bass-guitar. From there, it was a collaboration that would transform into Johnson’s first extensive musical project and band, Poor Harvey – an alternative group influenced by the likes of Tom Petty and Neil Young, with a little grunge thrown in.

Besides playing live, it led to Johnson’s first step into the recording process. However, it wasn’t exactly what anyone would desire, but it fit for the time. “We came up with a demo cassette tape, took it to a friend of ours, and recorded 6 songs. It was a Gorilla studio, we hung mikes, duck-taped them to the ceiling. It was artistic, open, poetry, like free verse, anything goes. That’s how we came up with the demo CD, a 6 song EP around 2001. I played bass and sang a little bit of background vocals.”

Over the years, Johnson’s musical career included a stint in New York City, where he was seeking the limelight to musical success. The living situation wasn’t exactly desirable. In fact, it was quite humble. He lived in a basement – relying on a café down the street for a restroom. “If you needed to go at night and the café was closed, you were out of luck.”

But it ended up being one of the greatest experiences that shaped the artist. “I performed more music in that brief time period than I had ever had the opportunity to play before.  It was 5 bands, with 3 being regular gigs.  You can go to NYC and play every night in a different club, never play the same place twice, and never play with the same musicians again if you wanted to.”

NYC provided for a fun and competitive atmosphere to play live, an undeniable favorite for Johnson when it comes to the music industry. There’s a competitive nature that goes along with the task. “Nothing’s better than blowing away another band, especially if the band is the headliner and you’re the opener. And you knock everyone away with your performance. Then the headliner comes on and bing, not everyone is as energetic because you sucked all the energy out of the room with a great opening set!”

Then, of course, there’s the thrill. “Playing live involves very high energy. When you’re on, you’re on, when you’re off you are off, like any band. The energy and just pulling it off is really amazing to have people link up. Something chemical goes on.”

“With live music, there’s definitely an understanding between everyone. It feels like you’re sort of a conduit, music is flowing through you and you’re along for the ride,” he continued.

Meanwhile, over the years, Johnson has continued to evolve musically. One stint with a band called the Prescriptions even had Johnson playing bass in a song featured in a Lifetime movie starring Heather Locklear.

Other interesting highlights have included tour stops with his current band Dash Rip Rock, where he’s played in places including Denmark and Norway.

Johnson refers to music as being the universal language, and with his solo album there’s something to prove. There’s also the added pressure of being in the spotlight, rather than playing bass and doing backup vocals. “There’s always the chance someone could hate it. You have to be open to criticism. It’s something you have to get over. We’ve had criticism before with Poor Harvey. You just have to shrug it off, not everyone’s going to like what you’re doing.”

The songwriter’s music is inspired by various elements ranging from real life experiences to sci-fi movies, a genre he takes a special liking to. As for the songwriting process, Johnson states, “Sometimes with enough caffeine I can write a song in 10 minutes. Sometimes they stay in the vault for a while. Then I’ll change the chord structure later, and it takes on a new life.”

As for the future, it’s completely open. Johnson hopes to continue recording and he’s starting out without a label, something he actually sees as a perk. For him, it’s an asset that doesn’t give the added pressure and constraints of what a label demands.

“It’s going to be fun promoting the record but I don’t see myself quitting my main band just to fly solo.”  Meanwhile, collaborating and forming new projects are something he looks forward to. The new album is a continued step in the songwriter’s evolving musical adventure.

Reflections on NFL Free Agency Thus Far..

Note: Article will likely be updated as more news occurs.

(WookiePost) – With the NFL lockout having dragged on as long as it did, it’s no real surprise that a shortened free agency has hit with a bang, producing a plethora of trades, signing, and releases. Here’s an analysis of some of the biggest moves so far..

Ochocinco to Patriots: As expected, the New England Patriots signed a veteran wide receiver. Albeit a flashy one, the move gives Tom Brady another target to throw to. Last year, Chad had a pretty lackluster season compared to his previous 6 Pro-Bowl caliber ones. However, with the move, Ochocinco gets his wish to compete on a championship-caliber team. The Patriots had tried to bring in Torry Holt last year, but things didn’t work out when Holt became injured before the regular season began.

(Two of the largest moves in free agency involve two former Eagles quarters).

Kevin Kolb Goes to Arizona: Larry Fitzgerald has his quarterback in Kevin Kolb. The former Eagles quarter just signed a 5 year/63 million dollar deal with the Arizona Cardinals. Kolb started for the Eagles last season but lost his spot after Michael Vick played exceptionally well after Kolb became injured in during the Eagle’s first game. However, when Vick got injured, Kolb filled back in at the quarterback position, playing well at times. That wasn’t enough though, Vick later reclaimed the starting QB spot and continued to play great football, Vick earning his 4th trip to the Pro Bowl and winning the prestigious Comeback Player of the Year award.

The Arizona Cardinals were a bad, bad football team last year, earning a 5-11 record without a solid quarterback. It’s really no surprise the Cardinals sunk so low after two playoff seasons (one in which they made the Super Bowl). Their team’s leader Kurt Warner had retired and Matt Leinart wasn’t working out. Kolb must now fill Warner’s shoes, and those are big shoes (Warner is a 2 time league MVP and future hall of famer). Meanwhile, Kolb has a pretty solid, actually scratch that, VERY, VERY solid wide receiver to throw to in Larry Fitzgerald. Fitzgerald put up good numbers last year despite the Cardinal’s lack of strength at the quarterback position.

McNabb to the Vikings – After an injury plagued season for former Vikings QB Brett Favre, the Vikings drafted Florida State QB Christian Ponder. However, like lots of teams do, the Vikings quickly sought a veteran QB to mentor the rookie. The Redskins have shipped McNabb to the Vikings. McNabb didn’t have the greatest year with the Redskins last year, but don’t give McNabb all the blame, it’s not like the Redskins gave him much to work with.

Look for Donovan to start, and keeping starting as long as he plays well or until he is injured, eventually paving the way for rookie Christian Ponder to become the team’s future.

Tavaris Jackson to Seattle – In what sounds like a boneheaded move, the Seattle Seahawks have signed former Vikings QB Tavaris Jackson, and it’s expected that Jackson will become Seattle’s starting QB after they traded Matt Hasselback to the Tennessee Titans. Jackson over Hasselback? Common Man! Perhaps the Seahawks are planning another QB signing (if they’re smart, which doesn’t sound like they are). They also have Charlie Whitehurst on their roster (another unproven veteran). Earlier reports involving a Matt Leinart/Pete Carroll reunion turned out to be false. Despite sounding negative, this is great news for Jackson, who will get a great opportunity to try to prove himself once again.

Sydney Rice to Seattle – Former Vikings wideout Sydney Rice prospered during the 2009 season with Brett Favre as his QB, posting 1312 yards, 8 TD’s, and making the Pro Bowl. However, he was injured during most of last year (following hip surgery. The fact is that Brett Favre at QB went a long way towards helping Rice improve at his position. It’ll be interesting to see if Rice can put up large numbers in 2011, especially with Tavaris Jackson possibly being his QB (yet again..). If you were a wide receiver, who’d you rather play with, McNabb or Tavaris Jackson? (just something to think about). Perhaps the Vikings should have tried harder to keep the free agent Rice.

Albert Haynesworth to the Pats – This is a trade that really, really makes since and here’s why: The Patriots have proven success taking in somewhat troubled players (think Randy moss, even though that didn’t work long term). The entire Patriot teams’ mentality is far to strong to be hindered by any of Haynesworth’s possible antics. In New England, the defensive tackle will have the opportunity to resurrect his career and play for a serious contender. Besides, the Patriots got a pretty good deal on this one.

Reggie Bush to Miami – The Saints have sent running back Reggie Bush to South Beach, where (like LeBron) he’ll have a chance to display his talent. Reggie Bush never really lived up to the hype in New Orleans. However, he was injured quite a bit. That’s not to say he isn’t a great player. He had some amazing games with the Saints (when he was healthy), especially as a return player, plus he’s already got the pressure of winning a Super Bowl off his back. Reggie Bush will now have a chance to become a more prominent player in Miami. The Dolphins’ backfield (maybe not for too long) features aging running backs Ronnie Brown and Ricky Williams (also a former Saint).

Where Will Plaxico Go? It’s with the Jets!– It’s been reported that former Giants Super Bowl hero wide receiver Plaxico Burress will likely sign with one of two of his former teams, either the New York Football Giants or the Steelers. Honestly, it doesn’t make too much sense for the Giants to sign him, the Giants already have Smith, Nicks, Manningham (3 great wideouts). So, right now, i’d give the Steelers the upper-hand as being more likely to receive Plaxico’s services. However, if one of those teams don’t get him, i’d throw St. Louis and Chicago into the mix. UPDATE: Plexico is returning to NYC. However, this time not with the Giants, he’s with the Jets. With the move, the Jets aren’t expected to keep wide receiver Braylon Edwards. The move gives Jets QB Mark Sanchez a new deep threat along with Santonio Holmes.

Hasselback to Tennessee – Former Seahawks QB Matt Hasselback has been shipped to the Tennessee Titans. It’s a similar move to the McNabb/Vikings trade, yet I’d suspect Hasselback has less a chance to become and remain a starter than McNabb. I’d expect Jake Locker to get some starts at least by mid season.

Leinart Re-signs with Texans – Perhaps it sounds like Matt’s content being a backup in the league. Once highly touted and for a short time the Cardinal’s starter, the former Cardinals QB was eventually replaced by Kurt Warner, who lead the Cardinals to the playoffs twice (one of which was to the Super Bowl. After Warner retired, Leinart didn’t really work out for the Cardinals, so he signed with the Texans last season. With Matt Schaub playing great football as the Texan’s starter, it’s unlikely that Leinart will see action, yet again (unless there’s an injury).

Jets Re-sign Santonio Holmes – This is a move that makes sense for the Jets. However, it’s interesting to see what the Jets will do with Braylon Edwards. Holmes started out last season suspended, but returned to put up respectable numbers. Look for the former Super Bowl MVP to put up larger numbers next year.

Vince Young Goes to Philly – The Eagles just picked up former Titans QB Vince Young who will settle into a role as Vick’s backup. The news makes sense for the Eagles, who were desperately in need of a reliable backup following Kevin Kolb’s trade to Arizona. It’s more important for the Eagles to have a more solid backup QB than other teams, considering Vick’s play-style leaves him prone to possible injuries. The move will also give to QB a chance to learn under a solid system lead by head coach Andy Reid.

Cowboys Release Roy Williams, he signs with Chicago – In a not so surprising move, the Dallas Cowboys have released wideout Roy Williams. The once highly touted Williams never really worked out in Dallas (who received him from a trade with Detroit in 2009). Perhaps the Cowboys should have kept T.O. after all (whose put up decent numbers under hard circumstances with two different teams). Meanwhile, the Cowboys will try to make the young Dez Bryant into an elite NFL receiver. UPDATE: Williams has now signed with Chicago, a team that way in desperate need of a decent target for Cutler. However, even with Williams, Chicago still lacks depth at the position. Williams never really lived up to the hype following his 2006 pro-bowl season with the Detroit Lions.

Cowboys Release Marion Barber, he signs with Chicago – Barber had a lackluster year with the Cowboys in 2010. However, it’s important to note that the entire Cowboys team struggled in 2010. Felix Jones is now the go to guy in the backfield for Dallas. It shouldn’t take too long for Barber to find another team though. As far the Cowboys, it will be interesting to see watch QB Tony Romo (who spend majority of last season injured). UPDATE: Marion Barber has signed a deal with the Chicago Bears. He’s the second Cowboy (the other is Roy Williams) to go to Chicago. In Chicago, Barber will backup Matt Forte, who rushed for 1,069 yards and 6 TD’s last season.

Eagles Sign Nnamdi Asomugha – All the sudden, the Eagles find themselves loaded at the cornerback position with Asomugha, the newly traded Domique Rodgers-Cromartie and Eagles veteran Asante Samuel. Will the Eagles keep Samuel? Asomugha going to Philadelphia came as a bit of a surprise. The Jets and Cowboys were at one point thought to be the main suitors.

There’s still lots of news to be made in NFL free agency. In the mean time, start planning your fantasy football teams!

Pirates: On Stranger Tides – Movie Review

Walt Disney Pictures

(The Wookie Post) – Despite falling flat with many critics, the latest Pirates of the Caribbean movie breathes new life into a franchise that had begun waring itself out by over-reliance on cgi, sappy love, magic, and all too crazy plot-lines. Instead, On Stranger Tides lessens the above, all while giving enough of the classic Pirate elements that viewers loved so much in the first film.

Depp is back as Sparrow, along with similar characters from the previous films (first mate Gibbs, Barbossa). The new movie doesn’t have Knightley or Bloom and that’s a good thing for the franchise, it cuts back on the all too sappy love scenes (However, there is a crew mate that falls for a mermaid, but this is tolerable).The addition of Penelope Cruz pays off (she has great on-screen chemistry with Depp). Blackbeard’s character is alright in the movie, although not grand.

Finding the fountain of youth may sound too cliche for a story line, but this film keeps the plot line more simple where it’s not overshadowed by CGI and isn’t nearly as silly as the last two films’ all too crazy plots (Dead Man’s Chest, At World’s End). Also, the humor is back, there are plenty of laughs in On Stranger Tides (again..where the last 2 had started to fall flat). Overall, this film is a throwback to the first and the obvious best since it.

So why all the flat review? Had this film been released as the second in the franchise, it would have been met with more positive ones (Just my belief). However, it’s guessable that the critics have felt this franchise has dragged on too long. However, I think it has the opposite effect and shows that there’s new life left.

Overall, it’s a fun film. All while breathing new life into the franchise, On Stranger Tides should help Captain Jack’s merry adventures continue for a few more rounds. Rating: 3/5

The Fall of the Airport Laptop

Image from Airsafe.com

I’ve relized something in my latest travel, albeit small, quite significant. Just about a year and a half ago I’d enter the airport terminal to notice alot of people on their laptops, various types, dell, macbooks, Hewlett Packard, you name it and it was there.

Fast forward just a little later and those laptops have been replaced by smartphones (where it be the all popular iphone or android based ones) or the pads (same thing; ios or android). Its just a simple sign of the quickly changing technology market, the reliance on smaller touch screen electronic devices.

Before the trip, my mother had asked me I intended to bring my laptop along for the ride. I didn’t see the purpose, I had everything I needed with my smartphone, and it was a heck of a lot easier to to bring with me than having the haul around my macbook.

Anyhow, here’s a RIP to the once prominence of laptops at the airport and a welcome to the much smaller hand-held devices!