This ill-conceived branding exercise got us to wondering: What are the other worst-named corporate-shilling sports venues?
1. Enron Field, Houston Astros
How bad was it to be associated with Ken Lay and Co.? As one team executive told reporters before Enron Field became Minute Maid Park, "The Houston Astros have been materially and adversely affected by the negative public perception and media scrutiny resulting from Enron's alleged bad business practices and bankruptcy." Well, that and the fact that they stopped wearing these.
2. Citi Field, New York Mets
Timing is everything, right? So don't sell the rights to your new ball field to a bank that just took $45 billion in bailouts from the federal government. (Even at $20 million a year for 20 years.) Because you're basically handing the headlines over to the New York tabloids: TARP FIELD! BAILOUT PARK!
4. Jobing.com Arena, Phoenix Coyotes
Maybe the real problem is naming a site Jobing.com.
5. O.co Coliseum, Oakland Raiders and A's
Because Overstock.com Coliseum was too hard to say, and Oakland-Alameda County Coliseum was too…municipal.
6. Hunky Dorys Park, Drogheda United Hunky Dorys is a brand of potato chips, and Hunky Dorys Park is where the Irish city of Drogheda's soccer team plays. This is sort of like naming a venue after, say, Whataburger. Wait…
From Sallie Ford & the Sound Outside's Untamed Beast
Liner notes: The unholy love child of Howlin' Wolf and Fiona Apple, Sallie Ford gleefully shouts, "I can fuck/I can drink/And I don't care what you think," with rude drums and twangy rockabilly guitar amplifying the uproar.
Behind the music: The Portland-based singer (and daughter of noted puppeteer Hobey Ford) cites Tom Waits' 2002 album Alice as an inspiration.
Check it out if you like: Shilpa Ray, Zola Jesus, Cat Power, and other charismatic oddballs.
Rachael Price, Sarah Dugas, Luz Elena Mendoza, Aluna Francis, and Laura Mvula.John Keel/Laura Crosta/Ingrid Renan/Olmo Rodríguez Roces/Vimeo/Sony Music Entertainment/YouTube
Male bands (Mumford and Sons, the Black Keys, Fun.), poppy collaborations (like Gotye and Kimbra's tired duet), and, as Stereogum put it, predictable "mom-safe and Starbucks ready" favorites (Adele and Beyoncé) predominated the list of Grammy winners this year. Meanwhile, I've been struck by the array of refreshingly bold new female vocalists blossoming behind the mainstream. Quirky, fresh, raspy, vintage, or full of lungs, all five of them are under-the-radar but destined for bigger spotlights. Check out the videos below so you can say you heard them before they were famous.
Australian by birth, Nashvillian by pedigree, Price earned a degree in Jazz Studies from New England Conservatory and performed with T.S. Monk Sextet at jazz festivals around the world. After hearing a recording of Price in 2003, actress/singer Kathryn Grayson deemed her "the best young voice I've heard, period. No one around her can even touch her voice and style." While Price mostly stuck to standards in her early career, she's now departed from strictly jazz as a member of the indie group Lake Street Dive.
Price's voice soars with clarity and classically trained precision. She can make the most of a Motown cover but also glides easily into blues, country, and pop. The video above, featuring Price belting out a relaxed cover of The Jackson 5's "I Want You Back," aptly showcases her glamor and command. But also make sure to listen to the band's original song "Bad Self Portraits" (below), which has Price sounding like a young Bonnie Raitt. Bonus: Her band mate Bridget Kearney rocks it on the upright bass and has a lovely voice, too. Lake Street Dive just finished touring with Yonder Mountain String Band, will soon be touring with Josh Ritter, and has a date this week opening for Mavis Staples in Iowa.
AlunaGeorge, featuring chanteuse Aluna Francis, is quickly becoming one of the breakout bands of 2013. Consisting of Francis and producer George Reid, the electronica group combines intimate vocals with synthesized pop, house, R&B, and dub-step. Though already pretty big in the UK—the duo nabbed second in BBC's Sound of 2013 contest—Francis' voice will likely get way more air time in the US in the coming year.
Francis, who is half Indian and half Jamaican, worked as a reflexologist and previously sang for the band My Toys Like Me. She first met Reid when he remixed one of My Toys' songs, and they paired up and released their first commercial single ("Your Drums, Your Love," above) late last year. Though minimalist and futuristic, AlunaGeorge's songs are made human by Francis' velvety touch. She imbues the pulsing drive of a late-night dance tune with soulful emotion, and her high-pitched timbre balances well with Reid's beats, to a mysterious but alluring effect. "You can't say I'm going nowhere, when you don't know where I am from," she croons. On the contrary, I'd say she's barreling straight toward stardom. AlunaGeorge's debut album, Body Music, is due out in June.
Portland-based band Y La Bamba draws from Mexican folk songs and mariachi singers as influence for its eerie tunes. Emerging in 2003, the band has enjoyed limited success in indie circuits, but never much widespread attention, apart from becoming one of NPR Music's darlings. That could change this year, as they just wrapped up an East Coast tour alongside the Grammy-nominated Lumineers.
In late August, action-film maestro Tony Scott took his own life, jumping from the Vincent Thomas Bridge into the Los Angeles Harbor. One of the director's final projects was a made-for-TV movie that he co-executive produced with his brother Ridley: An adaptation of the nonfiction thriller Killing Lincoln: The Shocking Assassination That Changed America Forever, a best-selling book written by Martin Dugard and TV host Bill O'Reilly. The film (premiering on National Geographic Channel on Sunday, Feb. 17 at 8 p.m. ET/PT) stars Billy Campbell as President Abraham Lincoln and son of Don Johnson Jesse Johnson as stage-actor/assassin John Wilkes Booth. The movie is narrated by Tom Hanks' soothing timbre.
Vivian Maier's massive collection of street photography remained hidden from the public eye until a Chicago realtor named John Maloof stumbled across boxes of her negatives at an auction house in 2007. After amassing more negatives and finally googling her, he learned that she had made her living as a nanny and had died a few days earlier at age 83. She left an oeuvre of intimate glimpses of people caught in everyday moments, as seen in this 2011 Mother Jonescollection of her work.
Now, Maloof has joined with Charles Siskel and Submarine Entertainment to produce Finding Vivian Maier, a documentary due out later this year. The film draws on Super-8 footage shot by Maier as well as interviews with friends, family, and neighbors that expose more details of Maier's life and work. Discovering the real Maier is a challenge; as one of her friends put it, "she was a closed person" and also because most people she knew "had no idea she took photographs." About the film, one friend insists Maier "would've hated every minute of it. She would never have let this happen." Yet, says Siskel, "Vivian's story is as powerful as her art" and he hopes the documentary "will bring her the recognition she deserves."
It's Valentine's/Presidents Day Weekend 2013, and your lover or spouse wants you to spend money on a night on the town. For some, that might involve a couple of hours together in a crowded air-conditioned chain movie theater, gorging yourself on pails of butter-slathered junk food.
If that's your reality, here are the options, three of which were released on Valentine's Day.
The first is Beautiful Creatures (Warner Brothers, 124 min.), a new romantic fantasy about a young human boy falling head over heels for a young female witch in rural South Carolina. (In the Beautiful Creatures universe, good witches prefer the more politically correct term "caster.") The film is a irreverent and genuinely interesting entry into the ever-bloated "Teen-Human-Falls-In-Forbidden-Love-With-Teen-Supernatural-Being" subgenre, so comparisons to the über-profitable Twilight franchise are inevitable, and the studio's ad campaign predictably tries to make Beautiful Creatures look like as much like Twilight as possible.
Such comparisons are bunk. Unlike any of the five movies in the Twilight saga, Beautiful Creatures is funny, sexy, and not a heaving pile of savage unbearability. And unlike any of the various Twilights, the cast here is uniformly excellent (Viola Davis, Emmy Rossum, Emma Thompson, Jeremy Irons, Zoey Deutch, and the two romantic leads Alden Ehrenreich and Alice Englert).
It's more fitting to compare Beautiful Creatures to two other films also now in theaters. The newly released (and quite lovely) Warm Bodies—a romantic zombie comedy that includes the best use of Bruce Springsteen music in recent cinema—is essentially the same movie as Beautiful Creatures, if you swap the latter's witches for zombies. Both films are human/non-human teen romances, are based on a novel, are helmed by a talented writer/director, have an Australian actress in the lead female role, and were released within a few weeks of each other. You could also appropriately compare Beautiful Creatures to the new 3D action flick Hansel and Gretel: Witch Hunters, seeing as how both films prominently feature a Bloodlusting Witch Hitler -type character (Emma Thompson plays the genocidal witch character in the former, Famke Janssen in the latter).
Buster Keaton and Sybil Seely in 1920's "One Week."SF Silent Film Festival
Silence. Silence? From a roomful of six young children? And then, without warning, peals of laughter and exclamations and a frenzy of competing comments. Repeat.
Across the room, I was trying to socialize with the grown-ups and not be rude, but my attention kept straying over to the TV, where we were previewing a series of rare and hilarious Buster Keaton shorts that Bay Area residents can catch on Saturday at the San Francisco Silent Film Festival's "Silent Winter"—a one-day program at the Castro Theatre.
The coolest thing is that the whole program will be scored live—no tUne-yArds, alas, but still you get to hear Donald Sosin on grand piano, Chris Elliot on the Mighty Wurlitzer, and the Mont Alto Motion Picture Orchestra.
We loved all the Keaton shorts, including One Week, from 1920, where a jilted suitor sets out to foil the construction of a newlywed couple's new home. The Play House, from 1921, includes various theater foibles and fiascos. One self-referential gag that reminded me of Being John Malkovich involves a theater program where Buster Keaton appears on screen as more than one character simultaneously—a visual trick that was a lot harder to pull off in those days. But our favorite was 1920's The Scarecrow, which had everybody in hysterics. Housemate buddies compete for the same girl, while a stern father and a mad dog do their best to thwart the transaction.
Maya Rudolph and Gretchen Lieberum performing as their Prince cover band Princess on Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
The enigmatic artist formerly and currently known as Prince is almost too easy to parody. Saturday Night Live played the joke for years in a recurring sketch that paired a whispering and mysteriously teleporting Prince with Maya Rudolph's divalicious Beyoncé. (Remember the 2004 Grammys?) But last Saturday night, Rudolph and Prince reunited on stage in San Francisco—well, sort of. The Artist himself wasn't present, but Rudolph and musician Gretchen Lieberum paid spirited tribute to him with their cover band, Princess.
If you've seen Rudolph as Beyoncé—or J. Lo or Whitney Houston or any other diva she's impersonated—you'll know there's no question the woman can sing. And she's mad funny. But Princess isn't playing just for laughs; it's an honest-to-god tribute to a musician Rudolph and Lieberum have adored for years. The pair hatched the idea for Princess in college, but the band didn't made its TV debut until last September, when they played Late Night with Jimmy Fallon.
"I'm wearing my sensible shoes!" Rudolph announced at the beginning of Saturday's show. That was a good decision, because Princess proceeded to kick and writhe through classics from the funky "Controversy" to the sensual "Darling Nikki" (including the backwards vocals). They closed out the night, of course, with a much-demanded encore of "Purple Rain." Rudolph and Lieberum adopted Prince's lusty dance moves and sported glittery patches on their right shoulders as homage to Prince's costume in his most famous album.
Rudolph honed her impersonation chops at SNL, but Princess isn't about spoofing Prince's mannerisms. (Leave that to Fred Armisen.) Like all tribute bands from Hayseed Dixie to Mandonna, Princess walks the line between being the inherently ridiculous conceit of mooching off someone else's fame and earnestly paying tribute to the original music. Rudolph and Lieberum manage that balance, but the performance itself was less funny than the simple idea of two women covering Prince.
Girls talking dirty—think Sarah Silverman or Lizzy Caplan—is a trope of the post-feminist, post-Apatow comedy world. So when a band whose name invokes Disney and the color pink sings about a sex fiend "in a hotel lobby masturbating with a magazine," they're on to something. "There's a comedic element to it, of course, it's two women singing these raunchy songs and it's definitely funny," Lieberum told NPR. "But our love of the music is not funny, it's very dead serious."
Princess' take on Prince's music is, no surprise, pretty darn good. A particularly enthusiastic couple nearly torpedoed us off the dance floor in Yoshi's, a music club attached to a fancy Japanese restaurant that has surely seen quieter nights.
Princess was appearing as part of SF Sketchfest, an annual two-week comedy festival now in its twelfth year. From humble origins—the original festival featured six homegrown acts—Sketchfest has becomea gathering of comedy's glitteriest stars. It now encompasses events from live tapings of popular podcasts to cast reunions of dearly departed TV shows like Starz' Party Down. Are we having fun yet? We'd say so.
The British indie quintet Foals plays what's commonly referred to as math rock: experimental, technically dazzling, rhythmically complex. The band made a name for itself in the UK with a couple of dazzling singles, and unlike most British buzzbands, successfully made the crossover to the US with Antidotes in 2008, followed by 2010's Total Life Forever. (The title refers to Ray Kurzweil's singularity concept; frontman Yannis Phillippakis is allegedly a futurist.) but Foals' new album, Holy Fire, produced by Smashing Pumpkins producers Flood and Alan Moulder and out this week, suggests that the band has lost none of the taste for grandiosity that featured heavily on—and often detracted from—its previous albums.
"Prelude," the opener, is classic Foals: crisp, moderately catchy, slightly cold, privileging instrumentals over vocals. "Inhaler" takes that vibe and makes it heavier, adding full-throated wailing and an aggressively bombastic guitar riff. Much of the album follows in the same vein: echoing vocals, clean and distinct guitar lines, tightly complicated drumbeats, and expansively grand backdrops.
But energy and distinctive melodies are in short supply. On "Bad Habit," Foals sentimental grandeur tips from stirring to smothering. The lethargic "Stepson," aims for poignant, but lands on dull. The stripped down "Moon" works better, as far as the slow stuff goes, focusing simply on Philippakis' plaintive voice against a chiming background. It all makes for an album that sounds good, but doesn't particularly stick with you—potential glimmers consistently, but only occasionally shines through.