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Artist Spotlight: Reggie Watts
By Ben Harsel
Reggie Watts may very well be responsible for some of the most refreshing and captivating performances of our time. Tagged now as a comedian, his performances blend impressive improvisation and remarkable talent, leaving the viewer in awe of such a unique experience. Certainly his performances contain a humorous semblance, but the shear talent Watts is able to demonstrate does not limit his genre to comedy. It’s more of an overall unforgettable live experience.
Watts does not come from a comedy background. He went to the Art Institute of Seattle to study art after high school, but soon transferred to Cornish College of the Arts to study jazz. It was there that Watts started playing in various musical groups, most notably with Maktub. His musical talents are certainly at the forefront of his routines today, as Watts works with looping technology to record drum beats and bass parts all with his own voice. Usually after he has these “a cappella rhythm sections” down, he goes on to showcase his extraordinary vocal range with 100% improvised lyrics and melodies. The best parts of these songs may very well be the way he suddenly stops them with the punch of a button and proceeds with his routine as if nothing magical has just happened. Please check out the video of Watts performing live at the PopTech Fest at the bottom of this article to see for yourself what I am talking about.
Watts had the privilege of touring the country with Conan O’Brien last year on the “Legally Prohibited from Being Funny on Television Tour,” where he warmed up the crowd each night with an opening set. After a few shows Reggie began to get some much earned recognition. Many people were probably just paying to see Conan O’Brien perform in his laid off fury, but slowly but surely word began to spread about the opening act, and buzz about this witty large afro man named Reggie Watts circulated throughout the Internet and around the country.
Currently, other than gracing various Earwolf podcasts such as “Comedy Bang! Bang!” and “Sklarbro Country” with his guest appearances, Reggie is taking his talents to IFC’s new show, “Comedy Bang! Bang!” which of course is the television interpretation of the aforementioned podcast. Reggie serves as the sidekick/one man house band to host Scott Aukerman. Seeing these two guys riff back and forth on the show is greatly entertaining and those who have IFC should check out the program. “Comedy Bang! Bang!” did a live show at SXSW in Austin this past March, and I’ve been kicking myself for not going to see them perform in the flesh while I was down there. Thankfully, there will be a nationwide live tour starting this July, which I hope not to miss.
Check out the absolutely surreal and positively amusing charm of Reggie Watts in the video below and enjoy the unique comedy.
Historic Hotspot: Monterey, CA
By Julie DiNisio
As an East Coaster, I don't really give the West Coast much thought, especially in terms of historical value. And while California is often associated with Hollywood, L.A., and good vacation spots, the city of Monterey is an historic hotspot that deserves recognition.
The town was established in 1770 by Spaniards Father Junípero Serra and explorer Gaspar de Portolà, though the land was originally inhabited by the Ohlone tribe. Monterey played a key role in the Mexican-American War as the site of the Battle of Monterey in 1846. The U.S. won and claimed Monterey. Besides its history, the city is also known for its location on beautiful Monterey Bay.
If visiting Monterey, there are a variety of historic places to check out. Cannery Row is a water-front street lined with closed sardine canning factories, the muse for John Steinbeck's novel. Restaurants and shops fill many of the defunct factories, and the Monterey Bay Aquarium is located at the end of the historic street. Similarly, Fisherman's Wharf is an historic location turned tourist attraction. Built in 1870 to facilitate the sardine business, it now houses nice eateries and, yes, more shops along with the Custom House Plaza, Monterey's historical center.
The Old Monterey Jail also makes for an interesting stop as it was built in 1854 and acted as the city's jail until 1956. Also consider San Carlos Cathedral, the oldest active church in California. It was constructed in 1770, having been founded by Father Serra, and and is a beautiful example of Spanich Colonial architecture. A small museum within the church further explains its history and influence.
Thus, Monterey, California makes for a charming place to visit and glean some West Coast history.
Boy, Buddha never picks up.
By Christine Stoddard
A monk talks on his cell phone while sitting on a park bench on Federal Hill in Baltimore, Maryland. Imaginary? No. Otherworldly? Mayhaps.
Bang, bang, you big bad wolf
By Luna Lark
How would 'Little Red Riding Hood' have been different if the protagonist had been carrying a gun? Just saying.
Reminisce, Bike Jousters
By Starling Root
Summer is a time of play and exploration. It is a time of memory-making and reminiscing. People graduate high school/college and flounder/blossom. People get married. People go on long vacations. People bake in the sun and hang out on the beach. Now that summer's in full swing, we quail birds are hopping and flying to our hearts' content. But we're also thinking back to just a couple of years ago, wondering exactly how we landed where we are now. Our minds keep wandering back to 2010. A lot can change in 730 days.
2010 was the last time Richmond, Virginia's bike gang, the Cutthroats, held their famed Slaugherama at Belle Isle, one of the most popular outdoor hang-outs in our little Southern city. By that point, Slaughterama had been going seven years strong. This day of bicycle jousting and PBR slugging usually occurred the first weekend in April. Students at Virginia Commonwealth University (VCU) needed their last real release before exams and final projects. All other in-the-know Richmonders just wanted a way to celebrate bikes and beer. It was springtime and the lazy days of summer were not too far away. There wouldn't be another break like this one 'til Memorial Day.
Now it's summertime and the faster-paced days of autumn are not too far away. It's another crux in our personal timelines. What are we waiting for? July 4th? Labor Day? Something else?
For the Love of Trolls
By Brooke Covington
Nowadays, in a sea of electronic playthings, it is easy to forget the past glory of the greatest non-mechanical toys of all time. Think about it—Slinkies, Yo-Yo’s, Matchbox cars, Barbies, My Little Pony—the list goes on and on.
And while all of those toys are legendary and a large part of some of my fondest playtime memories, there is one toy that has constantly been put on the top shelf—out of reach for the reminiscences of our inner child. And that toy is…the Troll.
I’m hoping that, like me, the image of this cute and quirky bauble unleashes a flood of nostalgia for days past. Clutched by the hair in my sticky, puerile fingers, these pot-bellied, wide-eyed friends helped my young creative mind run wild.
I love these things—my all-time favorite will forever be rainbow Troll. But I must admit that the older version of me is left a little bewildered by these creatures. Where did the idea for this odd toy come from?
So I did a little snooping. And come to find out—the origin of the Troll is a rather charming tale.
As with all good stories, this one is, in fact, a rags to riches chronicle devoted to creating happiness in the lives of children—but it all began with one child in particular. The creator, a Danish man named Thomas Dam, invented the dolls in 1959 out of necessity: One Christmas, too poor to provide a gift for his beloved daughter, Lila, Dam was forced to craft a present with his own two hands. So he carved the tiny figure out of wood, giving her glass eyes and a head of hair made from sheep wool. Popularity blossomed once the children of their small town took notice of Lila’s new knickknack. Thomas Dam was elated. Little did he know that these impish-looking leprechauns would eventually leap to the forefront of the toy industry.
I can only imagine how my parents felt about me carting around four or five of these naked, outrageous-looking dwarfs when I was a child. But even now, every time I look at mine, I smile. Hopefully Trolls will continue to bring joy to children everywhere. Even in the face of the Xbox, the Wii, and the iPod. Because as every child knows, the best toy is one that requires zero batteries and no electrical outlets—all you need is a little imagination.
Tea Party By the Sidewalk
By QB Camera Eye
This coterie of teapots and teacups was found just off of the sidewalk in Bellevue, one of Richmond, Virginia's Northside neighborhoods.
Achieving the Goth Look for Summer
By Paisley Hibou
Mysteriously elegant, the Victorian Goth style is popular amongst nostalgic types who long for bygone days and those who simply want to look refined. Unfortunately, as beautiful as they may be, petticoats, heavy velvet, and corsets are impractical, not to mention uncomfortable and even dangerous, additions to summer wardrobes. If your hometown or city boasts a steamy summertime, you simply can’t go Goth the same way as you do the rest of the year without overheating. Many Goths give up over the summer and temporarily adopt another look. But just because the temperatures rise, it doesn’t mean you have to sacrifice the look you love. Here’s how to modify your Gothic outfits for warmer months:
• Stick to a specific palette: Carry your gothic color choices into the summertime: black, deep reds, rich purples, silver, emerald green, chocolate brown, ivory, gray, navy, and royal blue. Don’t succumb to tacky colors that stores tend to push as soon as the thermometer starts pushing 70. Remain reserved in your selections and you’ll automatically be halfway to establishing your Goth summer wardrobe. To stay cool, you can still wear summer clothes---tank tops, sandals, mini skirts, and shorts.
• Accessorize with period pieces: Since your clothes can’t be as ornate in the summertime without you suffering from the heat, you can rely on accessories to show your gothic style. Look for cameos, crosses, crescent moons, fairies, skulls, and similar charms. You may also consider temporary tattoos, ranging from unicorns to teakettles to horse carriages to dragons. Very thin gloves, warm weather hats, parasols, and light scarves are other fashionable options.
• Tone down the make-up: Summer heat melts off most make-up so apply your make-up sparingly and choose waterproof products whenever possible. Most Goths would agree that eyeliner’s the most important cosmetic product, with powder being a close second unless you already possess flawlessly porcelain skin. Remember to indulge in loads of sunscreen to maintain your pale complexion!
• Experiment with unusual combinations: Now that I have explained the basics, you may be interested in how you can further your look. One of my favorite styling techniques involves wearing shorts over fishnets (or similarly textured tights). You can also layer camisoles over one another or put tank tops over short-sleeve shirts. You might want to pair boots with shorts or dresses over jeans, too.
I am Prince Charming, hear me roar.
By QB Provocateur
Why is it that modern Western society deems fairy tales 'feminine'? Why are they the stuff of little girls and airhead women? Please discuss!