Sunday, May 29, 2011 An Interview with MC Lars and Weerd Science

The heart of "DIY" rap and an artist that's made professional and personal turnarounds talk to BlogCritics.

As mentioned earlier this week, here are MC Lars and Weerd Science - although I think this could have gone better. Nothing against either one of them; I should just know by now the evils of email interviews.

Although I may be looking to fix this soon, too.

Saturday, May 28, 2011

Count3rCu1ture News Desk: 05.28.11

Welcome back, kids. We have some more news to go over. One bit is AWESOME and the other two...well, let’s just get to it, shall we?

I’m SO Seeing This Movie Now...

Latino Review (don’t let the name fool you, it’s a geek-centric movie site) beat everybody to the punch late Thursday night by reporting that the Avengers movie due next year has another villain up its sleeve. It’s already been reported that the Big Bads are Loki and the shape-shifting Skrulls, but there’s another on the horizon.

Since it is a SPOILER, I’m not giving it away here. You’re more than welcome to go read it here if you want to know as well. I did read it. And all I have to say is...

Holy crap. If I weren’t already interested in seeing this movie, then this. One of my top five favorite villains. IOn any genre. Ever. Would convince me to go see it. As the guys on Nerdy Show would say...”Shut up and take my money!”

Make It Stop Already!

My problem with Spider-Man: Turn Off The Dark is already well-documented. But the problems plaguing this thing haven’t deterred these fools. Nope. It opens on Broadway on June 14...

...the same day the Cast Album has been announced for release.

Since a picture is worth a thousand words...

RoboCop Returns To Wrestling??

No, seriously. Let’s back up a bit.

It’s been 21 years since RoboCop first made his appearance at a wrestling event. It was Capital Combat in May of 1990 that WCW brought in...for one show...RoboCop.

As I Want’s Dave Lagana puts it, “It’s a moment a lot of fans groan over – even to today.“ Do I have to explain why? Even Jim Ross, who was a ringside commentator for the “event”, disavows his role in what happened.

Well, Lagana also brings word (same link as above) that once wasn’t enough. Robocop has made his return to wrestling.

It’s moments like this that, when someone gets on my case about being a wrestling fan, that my explanations of defense can only go so far. If this gets thrown in my face, I’m pretty much left with no choice but to immediately tap out.

Although, as far as RoboCop goes...has this guy had a banner year or what?

Friday, May 27, 2011

World of Hurt - Introduction

Before we get in to this proper, let’s answer a couple questions I’ve been asked quite a few times...

No, “World of Hurt” is not another show I’m doing. For those asking, “When are new episodes of Count3rCu1ture coming out?”, the answer is: the week of June 13-17. There’s a couple events happening June 10-12 (one of them already discussed in detail) and those will be filmed. I’m also playing with a slightly different format for those events to spread out the content a bit.

Basically, consider the first episode about Free Comic Book Day the pilot. The show really kicks off in roughly two weeks off of the tapings listed above. There are some (sound) issues to work out, along with a couple other minor production points. The show is supposed to have a rougher look to it, but that doesn’t mean it has to be so sloppy it’s unwatchable.

With that out of the way, let’s do this.

Now, you can see by the “Introduction” headline above that “World of Hurt” will become a semi-regular feature here at Count3rCu1ture. Just like everything else, these will happen as they become available. In this case, it would be episodes of “World of Hurt,” which I plan on reviewing all of, or at least as many as I can.

As many of what? Why, “World of Hurt,” of course. Yeahbuwha? Okay, now we get to the explanation proper.

“World of Hurt” is a departure for me as it is the first reality show I have ever sought out to watch on my own. Which is quite a feat, because it’s not even on in the US. The show airs Sundays at 5pm EST on The Cave in Canada (the Northern equivalent to Spike TV).

As for what the show is about, “World of Hurt” features former WWE Superstar wrestler Lance Storm, who now runs his own wrestling training school in Canada, the Storm Wrestling Academy. Ten students embark on an “advanced course” at his school - no learning to run the ropes or take a fall. These students have already passed that point and are seasoned wrestlers making their rounds on the independent circuit in an effort to break in to the “big time” - i.e. WWE or TNA Impact! Wrestling. Storm is there to guide them through the finer points of the wrestling industry, to let them know where they succeed or where they fail...and the whole thing is caught on film.

For a lifelong wrestling fan, this is a fascinating concept that I wanted to see the moment I heard about it. Kinda odd, considering that “WWE Tough Enough” is back on television, right? Okay, let’s answer that - and explain a little more about this feature - before we go any further...

Why “World of Hurt” > “Tough Enough” (and every other reality show I’ve ignored until now)

Like Ivory Soap, 99.44% of all reality TV shows are essentially the same premise. X amount of people are put in situation Y and all have to compete for some big prize at the end of the season, while learning how to co-habitate. Along the way, any sense of “reality” is thrown right out the window because the contestants are given characters and scripted lines “put in situations” that test their relationships with one another. Alliances Friendships form, producers put people at each others’ throats for ratings enemies are made, and predictable BS “drama” is made. That includes “Tough Enough”, where the contestants vie for a WWE developmental contract by the end of the season.

And that show bugs me even more, borrow an analogy from Marc with a C, let’s say you have a reality show with, uh...I dunno...twelve people. Sure, twelve sound good. Four of them have taken some sort of Anatomy & Physiology course in Community College. Two of them are pre-Med students. One of them is at the Bachelor’s level of schooling. The other five have taken high school Biology, if they’re lucky. Yet, by the end of this twelve-week television series, one of them - we have no idea which one, mind you - will have somehow proven that they have the skills, bedside manner, and knowledge to become one of the top brain surgeons in the world.

Sound a little frackin’ ridonkulous, right? To me, so does “Tough Enough”. For that same reason. Despite having trainers like “Stone Cold” Steve Austin” and Trish Stratus, you can’t teach someone, in give-or-take twelve weeks’ time, to be one of the top wrestling performers in the world. Pro wrestling is a performance art that takes a long time to master. Call it “fake” all you want, but there’s an art to learning how to carry a character, to connect with dozens of thousands of people at a time, to make a match look as real as possible without causing serious injury. Bret Hart has said that one of the things he’s proudest of in his career was that he never seriously hurt anyone in the ring – and his matches were among the best in terms of drama, psychology, and action. That’s how it’s done right, and to expect someone who’s never stepped in the ring in their life to perform at that level is preposterous.

Put it this way – could you step in a wrestling ring and make yourself a star in front of thousands of people in an arena and millions more watching at home? I already know damn well I couldn’t do it. (Which, for those of you who’ve asked me why I’ve never tried to become a wrestler...there was your answer.)

“World of Hurt”, however, is a different animal. First of all, the contestants—wait, that’s wrong. There are no contestants, because the ten students on the show aren’t competing for any prize at the end of the rainbow. They’re in a school to learn how to get to the next level on their own merits. I like the fact that the the show’s website refers to it as “a documentary series”, because that’s what it is. No pre-scripted “reality” to be had.

Second, from the clips I’ve seen this is also a pretty good look at the inside of pro wrestling and what it takes to do what these people do. Storm has said in interviews that there are no “challenges” that have nothing to do with wrestling (something else “Tough Enough” is guilty of) nor is there any “scripted drama” with all these people living in the same house. Just a straight, serious look at what it takes to make to the top of the pro wrestling heap.

As a lifelong wrestling fan...sure, I’m interested in this. All without the dog-and-pony shows that other reality shows are guilty of? Sign me up.

So, beginning next week there will be reviews posted of each episode here (as I’m able to see them). I’m excited about checking this out and getting some attention on a show that sounds worth getting that attention for. And hopefully get it some airplay in the states as well. Or at least on Netflix.

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Onset Of Horris Records

Recently, a fascinating press release came across the Count3rCu1ture News Desk (reprinted in part):

To Become The Official Home of "DIY/Punk Culture-Based Indie Rappers"

As the music-industry-at-large begins to shrink dramatically, the music underground is beginning to surge again. Seeing the dearth of attention given to the burgeoning indie rap culture growing within the punk world, world-renowned post-punk laptop rapper MC LARS has launched his very own label HORRIS RECORDS to help build and nurture the growing indie rap scene. "The goal with Horris is to help as many talented, like-minded, DIY / punk culture-based indie rappers have as many self-sustained careers as possible," explains the 'indie rap entrepreneur'. To launch the label, he has enlisted close friend/confidante/peer WEERD SCIENCE (a.k.a. Josh Eppard, ex-Coheed & Cambria/current drummer for rock band Terrible Things) to have the debut album to bear the Horris Records imprint. "I couldn't have signed a more amazing artist and I am going to help him blow up because I love him and his work so much." Weerd Science's
SICK KIDS comes out today, May 17, 2011.

A very tangible and encouraging indication of support MC Lars has with his fans and the indie rap culture is the incredible success of his Kickstarter campaign he launched in April 2011. With the initial goal of raising $5,000 to fund "video production, touring, mixing, mastering and sick merch," Lars raised a whopping total of $23,282 - close to five times his goal (his original amount was shockingly doubled in the first 48 hours alone). "It's crazy," he says excitedly. "Who needs the inefficiency, bureaucracy, and general ineptitude of a label when you can reach out to your fans on the internet and get a $23,000 advance for your next album based on your reputation alone?"
Named after a character from a classic 1987 movie called Monster Squad, Horris Records symbolically reflects Lars' own life (for accuracy sake, the film character's name was spelled "Horace"). "In Monster Squad, Horace gets bullied throughout the whole movie, but at the end, he whips out his gun and says, 'My name is Horace,' and no one messes with him anymore. It's a perfect metaphor for my experience in the once elusive and exclusive hip-hop game," explains Lars about the affront he experienced being a punk-based white rapper. "Weerd Science has a similar background and goals as me - a rock kid who played in bands but truly wanted to make hip-hop since that is his real love. I've been a fan of his since 2005."

With Weerd Science making the "artist introduction", Lars will be releasing a mixtape in June as a "label introduction," featuring KRS-One, Sage Francis, Grieves, Sole, MC Frontalot, Rittz, Scroobius Pip, Weerd Science... and his father. "The mixtape is the first in what I hope to be a series of free projects that highlight the diversity and my ability to network within our subgenre of rap," he says. "All of the rappers featured are people I reached out to directly and they all bring a different take to my 'post-punk laptop rap' style. The project features a bunch of collabs, including one with my dad, a California poet and spoken word artist known as MC Bob Nielsen."

With one release out today and the mixtape out next month, Lars is already strategizing and planning ahead. "The short term goal is to help Weerd Science brand himself as one of the dopest MCs in the game; the long term goal - notoriety for many years to come," he laughs. "I'm dropping my third official studio album,
LARS ATTACKS! this Summer and plan to put out many more albums. I'm also putting together a pilot this Fall for a hip-hop themed kids' TV show, featuring artists' friends as guests. It's going to be Pee-Wee's Playhouse meets Yo Gabba Gabba meets Sesame Street with a whole new twist. I'm stoked and I know you're going to love it!"

Horris Records' debut release Sick Kids by Weerd Science is out now. MC Lars and Weerd Science are currently touring the UK together and will be performing on the 2011 Vans Warped Tour all Summer long. Information on the mixtape,
LARS ATTACKS! and future releases to come shortly!

There are quite a few (probably pretty obvious) reasons why this made my ears perk up like Lindsay Lohan catching a whiff of coke. For one, the idea of “DIY” is one that I’m a very obvious champion of. Technology has afforded artists to get out from under or, in this case, even completely bypass the domineering corporate label system that has been the bane of creativity for decades. It also turns out that, in the words of Dave Mustaine, ”the system has failed,” which may leave up-and-coming artists (or those with the foresight and desire to abandon the corporate system) with no choice but to strike out on their own.

The creative freedom afforded to them is much more abundant and, as an added bonus, the money they make doesn’t have to be repaid to a label thanks to a ridiculous system where the artist owes the label much more for “advances” and “costs” after they’ve already done their part in making and promoting their record.

Think about it - how fair is it for someone to give you money up front for doing your job, but that money has to be spent on doing your job and your first several months (years?) of pay goes back to the company to repay that money you were given to do your job. With interest. How would any other company get away with that? Yet major labels have for decades - only now artists that are smarter to the system and that realize they can do it without that tyranny hanging over them. So, they do. And the end result is often much better in terms of product quality and fan service.

On top of all that, look at some of the names involved in this: MC Lars. Joshua Eppard (great guy to talk to). MC Frontalot. KRS-ONE. All very talented and dedicated to the art. This seems to already be in pretty good hands.

At the end of the day, all manner of artists in all manners of genres and styles are looking to make their own mark on their own terms. That particular mindset - not a specific type of artist or a personal favorite or only an exclusive genre - is what Count3rCu1ture is about. It’s about breaking barriers and crossing lines in order to make your mark, and to see a record label dedicated to that very mindset is right up my alley.

So, with that said and done...yeah, I’ll be interviewing both Lars as well as Eppard very soon. I’m curious to see what they have to say - Eppard about his time after I talked to him last being a member of Coheed & Cambria, and Lars about the label and his DIY ethic. Should be interesting stuff. In the meantime, check out the CNN video below to get a little more familiar with Lars and his new venture (and hear him talk about a lot of what I just did):

Oh, and don’t think I’m not chasing down KRS-ONE, either. I’ve wanted to talk to that man for years now, anyway.

Sunday, May 22, 2011

Ring of Honor Steps Up

Is this a hell of a weekend for wrestling or what?

As far as the mainstream side of the planet goes, it’s mourning Randy Savage. However, under their noses, another huge story has broken that could bode very well for the third-largest wrestling promotion in the country and ultimately change the face of the industry as we know it now.

Ring of Honor announced yesterday that the company has been sold. Lock, stock, and barrel. Ring of Honor is now owned by Sinclair Broadcast Group, Inc., “one of the largest television broadcasters in the country and which owns and operates, programs, or provides sales services to 58 television stations in 35 markets across the United States.”

I won’t lie - when I first saw this, I was terrified. That was my knee-jerk reaction. Because, let’s face it, the last wrestling promotion that was bought out didn’t fare so well after that. the one before that fared a little better, and even made a comeback of sorts, but it’s days were numbered once it was bought out.

Not just that, but even outside the realm of pro wrestling, corporate media as a whole terrifies, disgusts, and exasperates me - more often than not all at the same time. That feeling is at the crux of damn-near everything I’ve written, said, shot, and put out there for public consumption for over 7.5 years and counting. It is also one of the primary reasons that the show/brand/idea of Count3rCu1ture was conceived and created. So, yeah, reading that a smaller wrestling promotion had been bought by a media corporation scared me. Until I read more in to this story.

First, it helps that Steve Marks, COO of Sinclair’s Television Group is actually excited about the property his company has picked up. He even said so!:

”We are very excited about this acquisition. Television and professional wrestling have a long history of successful partnerships and driving viewership. Unfortunately, the broadcast networks have not protected that relationship, allowing professional wrestling to migrate to cable network distribution. We believe that the powerful promotional platform that our TV stations provide, coupled with our 22% share of the U.S. TV households, will allow ROH to achieve name brand recognition and grow its share of the wrestling market. When you consider the makeup of our station mix and the number of CW, MYTV and FOX affiliates we operate, this is a perfect fit for our viewer demographics. Longer-term, we can envision syndicating ROH wrestling to broadcasters in markets where Sinclair does not have a presence, and even internationally.”

That’s a relief to hear. It’s as though Marks feels there’s a programming hole to fill, and his company is willing to do it. Second piece of good news is that Sinclair is willing to do it without radically alter the company. Hell, there will be barely any changes at all, really.

The front office staff, including former owner Cary Silkin, will all remain in their positions to work alongside Joe Koff of Sinclair (now the promotion’s Chief Operating Officer) and Gary Juster as Vice President of Operations. Yes, that’s the same Gary Juster who used to work as a promoter for Jim Crockett and later WCW, will be the Vice President of Operations. He also happened to broker this deal with Sinclair and RoH.

Outsuide of that, Jim Cornette will remain as Executive Producer and Hunter Johnson will remain on as a creative executive. Johnson and Cornette now also share talent relations and creative duties.

Kevin Kelly, “the voice of Ring of Honor on internet Pay-Per-View”, will also remain in that position, as well as become the lead commentator when the Ring of Honor syndicated television show debuts all over the Sinclair Group’s television stations in September. Oh yeah - that’s piece of good news number three - a much bigger television outlet for the company come this fall. In fact, this past weekend at Roh's Supercard of Honor VI in Chicago, the company announced its first television taping for Sinclair would be in that same city on August 13.

That, in and of itself, is fascinating. When RoH walked away from HDNet after that two-year deal expired, many were wondering how, when, or even if Ring of Honor would be back on television. The question that was posed to whomever in RoH was interviewed was basically, “hey, if it happens, it happens.” The answer, in the eyes of the company, was that they were looking for more than just being “back on television”, and they’ve got it.

Now, this isn’t an immediate presence or a giant leap to compete with WWE. My old stomping grounds 411 Wrestling gave more details - Sinclair broadcasts in roughly 22% of the country and there some huge markets that are not part of the equation. (411 also has the full list of their stations here) Even still and as already noted, they already have a bigger presence in the national market provided previously by HDnet.

If you ask most anyone in RoH, they’re not looking to compete with WWE or even TNA Impact Wrestling. Their product is completely different; Jim Cornette described it in the press release as, “...[N]ot old-school wrestling, and it’s not sports entertainment...This is wrestling for the 21st century, a new style developed by fresh, young stars that incorporates wrestling, mixed martial arts and high-flying, high-risk action with unique personalities, and it’s showcased by a sports-based presentation completely different from any other product out there.” That description fits very well, and it’s the main reason I’m such a fan of Ring of Honor.

What happens now should be a show in and of itself. It’s no secret the pro wrestling is in a stagnant state, while MMA (and especially UFC) is hotter than ever right now. The reasons are simple: MMA took the presentation and basic ideas of pro wrestling and added them to a much more realistic product, while the biggest wrestling companies in the world have are hell-bent on producing anything but wrestling. Many have speculated that, for wrestling to once again thrive, that it would have return to basics and produce a much more realistic and athletic product on a larger scale. Ring of Honor is that product, and now they have that larger audience. That theory of where the wrestling industry heads from here is about to be tested, big time.

But that’s another discussion for another time. As for now, Ring of Honor, as a result of being owned by another company, finds itself in a much better position now than it has at any time in its nine years of existence. It’s a thrilling time to be associated with and a fan of Ring of Honor. All the best in the world is hoped for as they move forward with a new venture and hopefully now become the little promotion that redefines wrestling. - Sunday Morning Coming Down 05.22.11

"Cut The Live Feed!": Online Streaming May Soon Become A Felony - Blogcritics Music

In talking with Marc with a C, he kinda thanked me for paying attention to the business side of things and finding items like this. My response was to the effect of me expressing how I thought it was my duty.

I mean, there are already stories out there of Lady GaGa making public appearances in a see-thru dress (no link to that BS) and several hundred people already paying attention to her and how she may either be the new Madonna or the destruction of Pop Music as we know it. And then there are stories like this, where our government is further seeking to limit our freedoms to enjoy the arts because some lobbyists have them in a back pocket.

Sadly, not enough people are paying enough attention to stories like the latter. Stories much more important than Katy Perry covering Rebecca Black on stage. I told Marc that, hey, someone has to do it because things like this should not go unnoticed.

Speaking of Marc, he was recently a guest on the Nerdy Show, talking about his new album...which I can print the title of here...Motherfuckers Be Bullshittin'. There are three things that need to be done. By you, I mean. I've already done two of them.

Go take a listen to the Nerdy Show podcast now, then tune in to 8Bit FM tonight (Sunday, May 22) at 10:00 pm to hear the entire album. And some surprises at the end. Then, keep an eye on the Orlando Rock Music Examiner page starting tomorrow (Monday, May 23) for a two-part interview with Marc that goes in to the making, concept, story, and meaning of Motherfuckers Be Bullshittin'. (And please note that, because is in bed with Walden media, that I won't be able to print the title of the entire album there.

Oh, and in a little bit here, there will also be a completely unrelated article here as well. Stay tuned and be good, or else no cookie for you after dinner.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

R.I.P. Randy Savage

Because, really...what the hell else needs to be said?

Rest in peace, Randy. You'd already gone down as one of the greatest in the game a long time ago.

Thursday, May 19, 2011

Count3rCu1ture News Desk: 05.19.11

Welcome to a new semi-regular feature here at Count3rCu1ture. This is not designed to be a daily occurrence, but will rather happen every few days or so as news and other cool stuff comes up.

These posts will spotlight news, events, new music, announcements, and various other items fitting under the umbrella. These posts will feature a handful of items each with a short blurb or video to accompany them and will give you a better idea of what encompasses the world of Count3rCu1ture. Think of this as the official Count3rCu1ture News Desk...

Come to think of it, that’s a great name for these...

On with the first edition:

The Fight Network Vs. Colt Cabana and Steve Corino

Courtesy of I Want comes a pair of interviews from The Fight Network out of Canada. John Pollock (also of Live Audio Wrestling and Review-A-Wai fame) caught up with both Colt Cabana and Steve Corino before the recent Ring of Honor show in Toronto, Canada.

Cabana talks about his Wrestling Road Diaries documentary (I so have to get that soon!) as well as the tribute match that he and Delirious had planned for the late Larry Sweeney and the success of his podcast, “The Art Of Wrestling” (which is required listening each week).

Meanwhile, Corino discusses his roles in both the RoH locker room and the beyond-awesome Kevin Steen / El Generico feud from last year, as well as the t-shirt and catchphrase that are sweeping the nation...”Thumb in the Bum”.

As for the Kevin Steen / El Generico feud, for those that may not know, both Corino and Cabana were involved in that. You can see a small sample of that below - although, be warned, the clip below is totally NSFW due to blood. The clip is an example of not only how violent, but the psychological depth of the program. This feud not only lasted for a year, but stayed engaging for that entire time - something unheard of in an attention-deficit world of not just wrestling, but pop culture as a whole.

Henry Rollins is Kilowog

Damn straight.

Henry Rollins gave an interview to Comic Book Resources recently about his involvement in the “Green Lantern: Emerald Knights” animated movie, set for release June 7. Just in time to be a nice companion to the live-action movie (that hopefully won’t turn out to be a disappointment).

If there’s a “Renaissance Man” for this generation, Henry Rollins is him. The fact that he puts over comics as a more-than-viable medium despite not being that much in to them is awesome:

So, how hard was it for Rollins to get the character of Kilowog? Not very, according to him:

I assumed what the character needed before we went in. I said, “Andrea (Romano), this guy has a flat top, thick neck, but he’s a good guy and if you get past all the yelling, you know he's got a good heart.” She said, “You got it. That's, that's the guy.” So I kind of had him dialed in and then we went forth.

Whether or not Ryan Reynolds can pull off Hal Jordan remains to be seen, but I already know Rollins can pull off Kilowog. Not 100% sure which one I'm more excited to see...

Keanu Reeves Says No to Kaneda

Finally, CBR also reports that Keanu Reeves has passed on the live-action remake of AKIRA*.

Two words for this one, folks: thank God.

First, thank God Reeves bowed out of it. I’m not in love with Reeve’s work, but I don’t hate him, either. I simply don’t see what role someone 47 years old could feasibly play in a movie that features 90% teenage characters. The only role Reeves could have pulled was The Colnel (and, admittedly, that might have been pretty cool), but the news item mentioned the project having trouble “finding a lead”...which is a teenager.

The news item also hints that the whole project could be shut down with the trouble it’s had finding a lead - which is perfectly fine by me. I don’t think a live action AKIRA is the greatest idea in the world. There are quite a few scenes that I can’t see being done no matter how far CGI has brought us.

New Performers Unlocked

(Apologies to the Nerdapalooza site for the headline, but, really...what else fits?)

The lineup for Nerdapalooza 2011 was already looking really cool before this morning's announcements. Now they've announced that the pre-party will be at the Marriot with the Oneups headlining. Also, Koo Koo Kanga Roo, fresh off tour with Reel Big Fish, will also be there.

Most exciting news, personally? The Bossfights are coming back. I'm so glad to know that, as I missed them last year and wanted to kick myself for it. Now I have another chance to see them - and they have a new album coming out June 10! Schweet!

Oh, and while you're at it, feel free to vote for Orlando Weekly's Best of 2011. Also feel free to go here for a list of suggestions.

Last But Certainly Not Least...

Interested in a preview of CEO 2011? Check out Peaceful Jay's channel tonight at 9:00pm EST for Jay's first SCO Tournament. None other than CEO head Alex JeBailey himself will be one of the competitors, so tune in tonight for just a small taste of what's ahead at CEO 2011, happening June 10-12.

Thanks for stopping by the Count3rCu1ture News Desk. Be sure to be back...probably in a few days...for more news. As Chevy Chase and Garrett Morris (via some old-school Weekend Update) would have said, "Good night and have a pleasant tomorrow."

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

The New UFC

Let me start with a simple statement that will make a whole lot more sense in a few paragraphs: I have nothing against MMA at all. In fact, I kinda like it.

MMA, of course, would refer to the sport of Mixed Martial Arts. Or, if you prefer, UFC. Or Strikeforce. Or Bellator. Or any other promotions out there. Or a combination thereof. Mostly, though, the most well-known and preferred brand/league is, of course, UFC. Kinda like WWE for pro wrestling fans.

As a Wrestling fan (we’ll save the “Sports Entertainment” debate for another time, but we know it as Wrestling in these here parts), I can certainly appreciate how UFC has appropriated what makes Wrestling so popular and adapted that to an actual sport where matches are not choreographed or pre-determined. Totally cool with all of that.

I don’t follow UFC all that much; I certainly thought about it at one point, but I just never really got in to it on a regular basis. I prefer my sports scripted, thank you; that’s just how I am. It’s much easier to guarantee solid action and the right outcome according to my tastes.

As for how I prefer competition, that has become an entirely different story. I’ve actually discovered a happy medium between Wrestling and MMA. The hype and pageantry are lavish; the personalities are all unique and charismatic; the rivalries and struggles are very real and very fierce; fans have their favorites that they cheer and boo; and, best of all, no one gets hurt.

The participants don’t lace up any boots or wear any trunks. They train for hours and days on end, but rarely a sweat is broken. Reflexes and strategy are key, but the combatants throw no blows. They control others who do that for them – and those warriors are much more colorful, flamboyant, and compelling to watch. The moves they are programmed to perform are stellar enough to defy gravity and physics, making the matches much more exhilarating to watch. With enough training and talent, the field is much more open to new blood as there is no physical preparation involved at all.

It’s official: the world of professional video game competition is my UFC. More specifically, the annual EVO Championship Series. Want a good summary? Check out, right under this, the Finals of EVO 2010:

You can probably tell by the above video that the EVO Championships focus specifically on fighting games. No Halo-like shooters or Gears of War-type multiplayer battles. These focus (at least this year) on games like Super Street Fighter IV, Marvel Vs Capcom 3, Mortal Kombat (9), and games of that type. Where one player faces another with the winner advancing and the loser going home until all of the tournaments held around the world lead to the crowning of a new champion each year.

Whereas UFC fans cheer for Cain Velasquez, Brock Lesnar, Georges St Pierre, or Wanderlei Silva, those that follow the EVO Tournaments follow the exploits of stars such as Justin Wong (the subject of a documentary called King of Chinatown), Daigo, Ricky Ortiz, Mike Ross, and Gamerbee. These are the competitors that a new breed of video game and fighting sport enthusiasts have made quasi-celebrities among a smaller – but ever-growing – set of fans.

This year, Orlando hosts one of the EVO Tournaments. Set to happen June 10-12 at the Wyndham Resort on International Drive, CEO is proud to present not only the road to the EVO Championships, but also a screening of the King of Chinatown documentary (see the trailer below). King Of Chinatown is a fascinating look at the world of professional video gaming that goes a long way in helping explain the whole phenomenon.

The tournament is presented by one of its players, Alex JeBailey, head of CEO. Alex has been gracious enough to let Count3rCu1ture be a part of CEO 2011 and I will be taping from the event that weekend. Along the way, it may help to explain why so many – including myself – substitute the letters UFC with EVO.

Be on the lookout for Count3rCu1ture coverage of CEO 2011 the week of June 13-17 as we open the doors to the that Tournament and to the world of EVO.

Monday, May 9, 2011

It's Here.

Welcome to the debut of Count3rCu1ture, a YouTube show based out of Orlando, FL celebrating counter-culture by giving smaller artists (from various fields) and events the attention they deserve but don't often get. It's a show for the little guy, by the little guy.

Being a one-man, no-budget internet show, if you're looking for technical brilliance and top-of-the-line production values, you're in the wrong house. But I'll make it as entertaining as I can given the limitations I have and maybe get you in to some new music and interesting people that normally fly a little under the radar. Deal?

The premiere episode covers Free Comic Book Day 2011, as several events centered around the day were happening in Orlando. I was able to make a couple of them and get some interviews and footage of a pretty big day for the comics industry. Feel free to check it out and leave feedback below.


Count3rCu1ture - Episode 01

Producer, director, editor, host, name it, I do it. This is a one man show, save for my guests and the music you hear. Speaking of which...

Music used for this episode:

Brad Smith - "Moon 8" excerpt
Download Moon8

Adam Warrock - "Iron man"
Adam Warrock's Bandcamp

Marc with a C - "Bed Intruder Song"
Marc with a C's Bandcamp

C U Next Weekend - "Comic Book Life"
C U Next Weekend's artist page on Slam Jamz

Last...and first, Special thanks to Random (aka MegaRan) for the official theme of Count3rCu1ture:

Random and A_Rival - "I Aint No Joke (8​-Bit Remix)"
Random's Bandcamp

Special thanks also due:

Orange County Library System
D and B Comics
Shawn Surface
Aaron Haaland and the gang at A Comic Shop

Feel free to visit these sites for more of the similar:

Orlando Comic Book Examiner
Orlando Rock Music Examiner

Thanks again.

Sunday, May 8, 2011 - On Life Support: A Look at the Big Four Record Labels (Sunday Morning Coming Down 05.08.11)

A close look at the profit and pitfalls of the major music labels, including breaking news of the sale of Warner Music Group...

We may be just weeks away from only having three major music labels. But, then again, who knows how far we are away from having zero.

Speaking of breaking news, The premiere of Count3rCu1ture is now just 24 hours away. Tune in tomorrow (there's a bad acronym for ya!) to catch it right here.

Friday, May 6, 2011

Coming Soon: Count3rCu1ture

Okay, so what the heck is a Count3rCu1ture?

Well, counter-culture, by actual definition, is, “the culture and lifestyle of those people, especially among the young, who reject or oppose the dominant values and behavior of society.”.

As far as Count3rCu1ture (pronounced exactly the same) would go, it’s very similar to that. Only now it's not necessarily only for the young. And it's going on display.

Count3rCu1ture is a new YouTube show based out of Orlando, FL celebrating counter-culture. Not so much as in drugs, Satan, and promiscuity, but more along the lines of giving some artists (from whatEVER field) and events the attention they deserve but don’t often get. It’s a show for the little guy, by the little guy.

With that said, there will be some changes made here as well. You may already notice that the URL has transformed to (be sure to save it now). “Is Pop Culture Dead?”, as a Blog, will disappear.

That’s not to say the name will not live on, because the idea that fueled “Is Pop Culture Dead?” is still very well alive. (you’ll see more later). It is what fuels Count3rCu1ture, albeit in a evolved form. Instead of being tired of being fed chicken crap and being told it’s chicken salad, the focus now is on the really good chicken salad that you find at your local, non-chain deli. I really hope that analogy made sense.

The Count3rCu1ture Blog (what this now becomes) will, of course, feature new episodes and content as they become available. I’ll be straight-up up front – there is no set “weekly” or even “monthly” schedule that’s being adhered to. In fact, there’s no regular schedule. I can, however, promise you there will be a good stream of content for an indefinite period (not like the Autobiomentary - raise your hands if you remember that one - which was an experiment that simply didn’t have the content needed to sustain its survival).

As well as the videos, this blog will still be updated with regular posts. Yes, I’m still going to make you read. Many of them may be of the “Is Pop Culture Dead?” variety (and will be marked as such), because I’m sure somehow, somewhere, some studio mogul or celebrity with an over-inflated sense of importance will make me mad. And I’ll vent about it as appropriate. Otherwise, there will be posts regarding upcoming episodes, other content, as well as extras regarding the articles I do for as well as – both Orlando Rock Music and Orlando Comic Books.

Which brings us to a naturally important piece of business...when is all this happening? Well, if you happened to read Part 02 of’s coverage of Free Comic Book Day 2011 in Orlando, you may already know the answer. Count3rCu1ture premieres on Monday, May 9 with an episode that, if I may quote myself, “will feature coverage of Free Comic Book Day around Orlando, including interviews and some surprises.” Future episodes are not only already planned, but are in the works as I type this. There’s much more to come, I promise.

One last thing: if you’ve stuck around for the end of this blog...or have been reading my ramblings for the last several years...or take an interest in what I do in any way, shape, and have my most heartfelt and sincere thank you. In terms of both writing and now video, these are loves I have had for most of my life and have always loved being able to do in some way, shape, or form. The internet allows a freedom to break away from standard business models and industry trappings and share the content we enjoy to read, watch, listen to, or even produce in any form we see fit. Its freedom has allowed me to enjoy what would be a career if I had my way, but at least a rather public hobby that I do for the sheer joy of it. It’s because of the support of those that have liked it and stuck with it that I have been able to take steps like this, and I can not thank you all enough.

Now, we move forward. Be here for the premiere of Count3rCu1ture on May 9. Thanks again and enjoy the ride.

“For the little guy, by the little guy.”

Free Comic Book Day 2011 part 02 - Orlando Comic Books |

Part 02: the loot!

Oh, and pay careful attention to the last paragraph of the article. There are some BIG changes coming to this Blog. Yes, again. But this will be SO worth it...

Wednesday, May 4, 2011

My Chemical Romance vs. Glenn Beck - Orlando rock music |

Is this just Round One?

I ask that because, what else does Glenn Beck have to do right now? Talk smack about out President, who just bagged the biggest enemy to our country?

And for that matter, is every single anchor at Fox News short-circuiting over the fact that they really can't say anything bad about Barack Obama right now or what? And is this not proof of that?