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New Findings In Medical Literature

Central poststroke pain: a review of pathophysiology and treatment

BACKGROUND: Central poststroke pain (CPSP) is a disabling morbidity occurring in 8%-14% of patients with stroke. It is infrequently recognized and difficult to manage. OBJECTIVE: We systematically reviewed the pathophysiology and treatment of CPSP. METHODS: We conducted a Medline search using the key words “central post-stroke pain,” “post-stroke pain,” “CPSP and basic studies,” “CPSP and clinical features,” “CPSP and pharmacological treatment,” “CPSP and nonpharmacological treatment” and “CPSP and treatment guideline.” The articles related to CPSP were categorized into clinical features, pathophysiology and treatment, and then systematically reviewed. RESULTS: Stroke along the spinothalamocortical pathway may result in CPSP after a variable period, usually after 1-2 mo. CPSP may be spontaneous or evoked, variable in intensity and quality. It tends to improve with time. CPSP is associated with mild motor symptoms with relative sparing of joint position and vibration sensations. The pathophysiology of CPSP is not well understood, but central disinhibition, imbalance of stimuli and central sensitization have been suggested. There are few class I and class II studies regarding its management. Amitriptyline and lamotrigine (class IIB) are recommended as first-line and mexiletine, fluvoxamine and gabapentin as second-line drugs. In pharmacoresistant patients, repetitive transcranial magnetic stimulation and deep brain stimulation have been beneficial. CONCLUSIONS: CPSP patients present with diverse sensory symptoms and its pathophysiology is still poorly understood. Amitriptyline and lamotrigine are effective treatments. Further studies are needed to understand the pathophysiology and investigate newer therapeutic modalities.

Insomnia in patients with depression: some pathophysiological and treatment considerations

The almost ubiquitous sleep disturbances in patients with depression commonly, but not always, subside with the remission of depression. Evidence linking insomnia with the risk of relapses in recurrent depression, as well as suicide, makes optimization of the treatment of insomnia associated with depression a priority. However, most antidepressant agents do not adequately address the sleep complaints in depression: their effects on sleep range from sizeable improvement to equally significant worsening. One approach to the management of insomnia associated with depression is to choose a sedating antidepressant agent such as trazodone, mirtazapine or agomelatine. A second approach is to start with a non-sedating antidepressant (e.g. the selective serotonin reuptake inhibitors, bupropion, venlafaxine or duloxetine); those with a persistent or treatment-emergent insomnia can be switched to a more sedating antidepressant, or offered a hypnotic or cognitive-behavioural therapy as adjunctive treatment. The review discusses the advantages and disadvantages of all treatment options, pharmacological and otherwise.

Myasthenia gravis associated with etanercept therapy

Etanercept is an antagonist of tumor necrosis factor alpha that was developed to treat rheumatoid arthritis. In this report we present a patient who developed myasthenia gravis while taking etanercept and had resolution of symptoms after stopping it. This is the first report of this potential side effect and is of additional interest, because etanercept has been proposed as a treatment for myasthenia gravis. Muscle Nerve, 2009.

April 29, 2009 Posted by | 1 | Leave a comment

Channing Tatum Talks About ‘Fighting’

Channing Tatum Fighting

Channing Tatum in ‘Fighting.’

© Rogue Pictures

Channing Tatum reunites with his A Guide to Recognizing Your Saints director Dito Montiel for Fighting, a gritty, intriguing look at underground fighting and mixed martial arts. As the title suggests, Fighting is all fighting, but the strange thing is this film wasn’t originally about that. No, Tatum says when he first heard about the project it revolved around basketball. It wasn’t until Montiel came onboard that street fighting was substituted for hoops action.Tatum recalled the circuitous route they took in getting this film, in its present form, to the screen. “…The funny thing was this was a basketball film. The most hilarious thing was I was like, ‘I don’t want to do a basketball film.’ Way before Dito was even on it, I tried to think of the one director that I know would never do a basketball movie, because they were like, ‘Well, what director do you want?’ I’m like, ‘Dito,’ because I never wanted to do a basketball movie. Next thing I know, lo and behold, a month later he calls me up and he’s like, ‘Hey, I know. I know it’s a basketball movie but just come meet. Come meet, I’ve got a take on it.'”

“I come meet him and he tells me it’s Midnight Cowboy. I’m like, ‘Okay, that’s amazing. I would love to play Joe Buck in Midnight Cowboy, especially your version of Midnight Cowboy.’ Then, all of a sudden, I’m still like, ‘Wait a minute, we haven’t taken basketball out of it. It’s still a basketball movie, Dito. We can’t get away from this.’ He’s like, ‘I know, I know, just trust me. We’ll get it out,’ or, ‘We’ll figure it out.’ He’s like, ‘We’re going to take basketball, like… I don’t know. We’ll get basketball out of it.’ I’m like, ‘We can’t do that.'”

“Finally, throughout all the different versions of what we were doing – and we had less than three weeks to get the movie going – I just suggested let’s just make a fighting film, because the basketball just kept getting more and more violent, knowing Dito. More and more violent, I’m like, ‘Right, let’s just take the basketball out.’ Then [Kevin] Misher, our producer, was just like, ‘I don’t know if I can do that. Let me work on it.’ Then a week later, they did it and it was awesome.”

Tatum and Montiel may actually team up again for a spy movie. “We don’t know if we’re going to do it, but he’s exploring it,” revealed Tatum. “‘It’s sort of just an interesting opportunity. Whoever would have thought that Dito would be doing some international spy type of film? I definitely never thought he’d be into it, but then he had a crazy, cool take on it. We’ve all seen the Bournes and everything. This won’t be a Bourne, I’ll promise you that, because no one can do Bourne better than Bourne.

“You can’t try to remake Bourne,” Tatum explained. “Unless you have a crap load of money, which I don’t think that is even what a Bourne needs. Bourne’s already Bourne, and Bond have kind of done those things about as good as you can do them in that way. You can do something like it, but you’re just going to be chasing that and maybe getting close to it. I don’t think you can beat Bourne at its own game.”

But back to Fighting, Tatum said his dancing background definitely helped him tackle the fight choreography. “I’d say that dancing has helped probably in everything, even in acting. Like you’re comfortable with your body, you can relax. You don’t get tight or tense or even choreography moving with people, staging, knowing your distance and stuff like that. The most dangerous thing is distance when you’re doing those fake fights. You’re swinging with all your might and they have to time you and you always make eye contact so you can’t know exactly how far you’re away because you’re looking in someone’s eyes. Then you swing and you just gotta know.”

That said, accidents happen. Tatum took a hit on his nose that did some damage. “Oh man, it was over here. I’m looking at Kevin Misher because there’s no mirrors around where we were fighting. I’m like, ‘It’s not good, huh?’ Kevin was like [sighing], he didn’t even answer me. And Dito was like, ‘Heh, hoo, right.’ Then Yuri’s ring man was there, thank God, and he goes and puts two spoons in ice and mashes my nose back in. It didn’t swell that bad. My eyes got black a little bit, but nothing we couldn’t cover.”

“He’s just like right, blech, and was just mashing the swelling away,” said Tatum. “They just know how to fix ’em, man. I mean, it doesn’t feel good but they know how to fix. That and quarters. Two cold quarters and just squeezing, squeezing your nose as hard as you can. Next time it happens, I’m like, ‘I got this, I got this.'”

Tatum described how he got into Fighting shape: “Man, the greatest thing about my career is like I get to be really on and then really off. I go and I’m at home and I’m drinking beer and cheeseburgers and pizza and chocolate cake. Then when I’m on, I get really serious and it’s all the way to the wall. The thing that’s great is I have all day to work out. People that do 9 to 5s don’t, so I wake up and I run for an hour. And then I go and do my training, so when I was doing [that] for Fighting, I’d go and I’d work out for two and a half hours, would fight, just straight up learning how to fight, learning how to be comfortable on the ground, standing up and taking punches and getting punches and blocking them. Then I’d go home and I’d run for another hour and a half or whatever it’d be. So running was a big part of my program, but then eating well as well.”

Channing Tatum Fighting

Channing Tatum in ‘Fighting.’

© Rogue Pictures

Of course fighting was an integral part of the film, but character development was right up there, too. “I guess probably because Dito just does drama and now he’s done commercial drama – I think they’re two different things, commercial and then drama – we really wanted to make a commercial film with decent acting and good characters because I think people just think now, they think commercial film, ‘Oh great, the acting is not going to be that great anymore, just because they don’t care. They just want to see a big huge blow up of a movie.’ That’s really what we want to do. We had an opportunity to bring those characters to a commercial film and we got really excited about it,” said Channing Tatum.

Tatum plays Shawn MacArthur, a hustler who winds up using his fists to make big money. Shawn’s a tough guy who knows how to handle himself, but he’s also got a good heart and treats women well. Asked how difficult it was to balance the tough guy with the nice guy, Tatum replied, “I’m from the South. If I didn’t open up the door for my mom or my sister, I got slapped in the back of the head. That got fixed real quick. I was not about to not do that.”

That helped him find the more gentlemanly side of Shawn. “Yeah, yeah. Well, that’s what Dito really wanted. I remember, they came to Dito and they told him he couldn’t cuss in the movie. Dito was just like, ‘You want me to do an underground fighting movie on a PG-13? I can’t do it. I’m going to go think about it tonight. If I can’t wrap my head around it, then you have to find somebody else to do it.’ We were way down the line on the movie. They waited to tell us that. Then we talked about it. It was really his idea. He was like, ‘Look, no, Shawn just chooses not to cuss. That’s just his upbringing. He went to church. He doesn’t cuss because he chooses to. Harvey’s the same way. He’s old fashioned.'”

‘Harvey’, the street-wise manipulator who manages Shawn’s fighting career, is played by Oscar nominated actor Terrence Howard (Hustle & Flow). And Tatum described his working with relationship with Howard as “love-love.” “I’ve loved watching that guy act since I can remember seeing him in films. It was way before I was even acting or even had any plan to act. Then I met him at Sundance and he had seen Saints. He had all these amazing things to say about Saints and about my performance in it. It literally welled me up because it was the first time that I had a real actor, someone that I really thought of as a great actor, tell me that he liked my work and I just almost couldn’t take it. And then he’s like, ‘I want to do something someday so let’s keep each other in mind.’ And I was just like, ‘Uh, heh, yeah.’ Then he loved Dito so we were always sort of just on the lookout for something. As soon as we just really got to sit and hang out, the guy is like a big brother now,” said Tatum.

April 29, 2009 Posted by | 1 | Leave a comment

Robert Downey Jr, Jamie Foxx and Catherine Keener Discuss ‘The Soloist’

Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr The Soloist

Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr in ‘The Soloist.’

© 2009 DW Studios L.L.C. and Universal Studios

Two-time Oscar nominee Robert Downey Jr (Chaplin, Tropic Thunder) teams up with Oscar winner Jamie Foxx (Ray) and two-time Oscar nominee Catherine Keener (Being John Malkovich, Capote) for The Soloist, directed by Joe Wright (Atonement). The Soloist is based on the incredible true story of Los Angeles Times journalist Steve Lopez’ relationship with a homeless man who turned out to be Nathanial Anthony Ayers, a former classical music prodigy. Downey Jr stars as Lopez, Foxx plays Ayers, and Keener is Lopez’ ex-wife and editor at the newspaper (a fictional character created for the film). And at DreamWorks Pictures’ LA press day, the threesome talked about the real people who inspired the film.

Robert Downey Jr, Jamie Foxx and Catherine Keener The Soloist Press Conference

Robert, you played this part very unapologetically. How did you get into your character?

Robert Downey Jr: “I just remember we all decided we were doing the movie and then Jamie [Foxx] and I were in rehearsals – and [Catherine] Keener – and it was about telling this story. What was Joe’s [Wright] approach to this as far as the realism?”

Jamie Foxx: “I think what really had me on was a couple of fronts. We wanted to tell a story about Nathanial Anthony Ayers and Joe wanted to make sure we stayed sensitive towards the homeless situation in LA. We all had sort of different goals we wanted to achieve. In doing that, everything sort of clicked and then we figured out a way to make it work.”

Your character wasn’t over the top in feeling sorry for Nathanial.

Robert Downey Jr: “Right. It’s a tricky thing. Particularly when we were doing [it] this last year, the newspapers were seeming like they might be becoming outmoded and all these layoffs and stuff, so initially in the story Steve [Lopez] and his wife – and she’s his ex – and they don’t work. But I think what Joe did and the biggest probably change we made was to let Catherine not only be my love interest/ex, but also my boss. I think that covered some interesting ground, but also the thing of where you’re in this position where you’re having to let go of people who do their job really well.”

Catherine Keener: “Yeah, well recently I’ve known a couple of Los Angeles journalists who have lost their jobs. You probably know some of them, which is shocking because they have such credibility and credentials and that they’re outmoded now which is pretty surprising that it’s happening within the community of elevated journalists.”

Robert Downey Jr: “Hence Steve’s thing… And doing this series about Nathanial became sensationalized and maybe that was good and maybe there was some kudos or some cache to that for him as a journalist, but it transcended that. To answer the question , because they’re relationship transcended the book and even the movie, they’re still hanging out now. It’s not like once the movie rights were bought he said, ‘Hey, my job is done,’ or whatever in that typical LA fashion that that might occur. I think that’s what attracted us, too. We knew that these were good people who became friends in the most unlikely circumstances.”

Catherine Keener: “I think there was a story, I don’t know if you shared this, but it was Nathaniel’s birthday and I think Steve hosted a birthday party for him at a bowling alley. I think that Nathaniel wanted to have it at a bowling alley and have pizza. I guess everyone came and there was bowling and pizza and Nathaniel ended up playing the whole night away. They are all tight still.”

Jamie, can you talk about the journey into this character and the journey out of this character? How do you keep your sanity?

Jamie Foxx: “This was tough because you are dealing with schizophrenia. We are halfway crazy sometimes anyway, just as an artist. We go places in our minds, that’s why we are who we are. So the first day I had to go see a psychiatrist and I’ve had some things happen to me in my previous years where I felt like I was a little weird. So I walk into this guy’s place and you really feel antsy about playing someone who has lost their mind. In the back of my mind…if I was to lose my mind that is everything. All of my creativity comes from there. If I’m not able to draw from it I would be nowhere. In doing this it was tough because as the psychiatrist said, it is like taking your brain, when you are schizophrenic, and putting it through a meat grinder and then having to think. It is a very horrid place to be in as a person.”

“With that being said, I remember being at a function where Steven Spielberg was at and he looked at me and said, ‘Are you okay? Because I know this is tough for you playing something like this.’ I was thinking maybe he was reading something, because I was actually going through things like I was actually knowing – which is a little weird – but I was actually knowing why Nathanial was acting the way he was acting, which may trip you out a little bit. Because when he would say things, green jacket, red this, blue jean, he was saying it to try and stay sane. But by saying it over and over again and saying it out loud it becomes, ‘What’s wrong with this guy? He’s insane.’ I understood that. I called my manager at 3 o’clock in the morning and said, ‘I know why he is the way he is.’ [Laughing] I’m buck naked in my bathroom on the phone with my manager, saying, ‘I get it now, I know why he is the way he is. This is what’s going to happen. I’m going to end up going crazy. I’m going to end up getting fired from the movie. I’m going to be homeless, but I’m going to be a great piano player. You are going to [see] me in L.A. I’m just telling you what it is. I’m not crazy, but I know exactly what it is. And I know why he plays the music.’ And he said, ‘Why?’ [I said], ‘Because the music soothes his mind and that is why he plays the music.'”

Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr in The Soloist

Jamie Foxx and Robert Downey Jr in ‘The Soloist.’

© 2009 DW Studios L.L.C. and Universal Studios

Robert Downey Jr, Jamie Foxx and Catherine Keener The Soloist Press Conference

Robert Downey Jr: “When we – he’s a musician [pointing at Downey Jr.] – so we have these crazy lives. His was more documented than mine. When he played the music that was sort of his blanket, so I understood what the character is about. But understanding what the character is about is a scary place because being that character you have to go there.”

“I remember doing Ray Charles and my friend Lamonte says, ‘How’s Ray coming along?’ And I went, ‘I’m him.’ And he said, ‘No, I mean…,’ and I said, ‘No, you don’t understand. [said in Ray’s voice] I’m him.’ And when he got there he understood what it meant to be him. When I was Nathanial Anthony Ayers for that whole year and not until a few months later I would talk to [Robert Downey Jr.] in some serious situations saying, ‘I’m kinda going through some things.’ And he would say, ‘Dude, I’ve been through it all.'”

Please talk about experiencing Nathanial and getting to know him.

Jamie Foxx: “It was interesting because he would get to know you and everything would be great and then [pauses] he wouldn’t know you and things would be different, and then he would get angry at times. But, when he knew that this thing was about to happen for him [goes into character voice], ‘Oh, yeah, um, Jamie Foxx, yeah, I don’t know where they got him…’ I mean just different weird things. And so to see Nathanial and Steve Lopez how they interact was interesting to me because Steve was a rock, and he had basically seen every aspect of Nathanial. So, when I would freak out like, ‘Oh, is he all right?’ it was great to see him to light up to know that this great thing was happening for him.”

Catherine Keener: “I remember when I met Nathanial, which was at the end of our rehearsal process, the week that we had which we were all involved in, and I’d say 20 or so of the people who lived at Lamp [an advocacy group that offers nearly 200 private apartments for the homeless and other people who ended up being in the movie – it was a beautiful week of rehearsal just kind of sharing stuff that you never think you’d have the opportunity to actually download with people. And then at the end of it, Nathanial came in and he came in with his shopping cart and his cello. I went up to introduce myself and said that I was playing Steve Lopez’ wife, and I think he took that to mean that I was Steve Lopez’ ex-wife and then he started to talk to me, and you know it sounded like it could have been mistakenly heard. And then we had a very lucid kind of conversation and at the end of it he said I reminded him of Jacqueline du Pré. And then he went into Beethoven, started talking about – just went dun, dun, dun. But it’s not unlike a conversation I would have with one of these two [points to Jamie and Robert].”

Robert Downey Jr: “Nathanial told me that I reminded him of The Man from U.N.C.L.E., which, by the way, like you were talking about, makes connections. I realized that’s what people do. I know this one, I’m in a new environment – that person reminds me of Leno, who I was in Jr. High School with. And it’s a way of just being this kind of predictably irrational way for me, or I would imagine people that you sooth yourself so you can just be okay in your skin, depending on how high your anxiety is. What I do remember though is the transcending moment – I’ll never forget this – was we were toward the end of rehearsal and it had been really, really something else. Never worried that you were going to lose your aesthetic distance or whatever of any of that stuff, but I knew that you were riding that razor’s edge in a way that was appropriate, in a way you kind of had to. It was sh-tty, but the job description was that you had to do that. And Jamie, who really at this point was Nathanial, came in and we were doing improvisation with all the Lamp members. We all took our turns sitting in a chair in the middle of this room. And it was when Jamie came in as Nathanial and in a spontaneously improvisational way, answered questions and behaved as though and responded as though Nathanial were there. And all of the Lamp members said, ‘That’s him.’ That’s when we knew we were ready to shoot and that’s when we went and started. The litmus came from the community. They were always the democracy that had this final say and stamp of approval on this thing. Very, very odd, democratic way this film was enacted.”

Steve Lopez asked you not to impersonate him. How did you go about doing the character and not do that?

Robert Downey Jr: “I never listen to anything anyone says about what I should or shouldn’t do! [Laughing] I know he said it would be a mistake to impersonate him and there wasn’t time and it wasn’t my job. And I felt like my job was to observe and report. Joe Wright said I needed to witness this movie which was very odd, because I had so been the center of attention in a very overt way in a couple things I’d done before. So to me, it was about having the humility to do what we are supposed to do as actors all the time, which is just be there and imagine that that’s enough. At a certain point when we weren’t quite sure what the boundaries were, I asked him [Steve] if I could cast his nose, and we cast his nose. And I said, ‘Let me see what Steve’s nose looks like on me.’ And I said, ‘God, I kind of like that.’ Joe said, ‘Robert…,’ because I’d gotten used to all of this armature. I had had a suit on, or was African-American, and my mask was really easy. So I was asked not to do that.”

Catherine Keener: “I did cut your hair though!”

Robert Downey Jr: “She cut my hair! It was fantastic. That was at rehearsal. But I think the thing this time is that even though we were all playing characters, we were asked to not wear any masks, which for Jamie, must’ve been horrifying and insanely challenging, and for us it was kind of like the usual thing. We just did what we are always supposed to do. We just did it in this really sensitive story that we felt a lot of onus on not blowing it.”

April 28, 2009 Posted by | 1 | Leave a comment

Swine Flu Facts: Symptoms, How Humans Get It, More

The swine flu virus in the U.S. is the same one causing a deadly epidemic in Mexico. What is swine flu? What can we do about it? WebMD answers your questions.

Swine Flu Outbreak: Get the Facts

What is swine flu?

Like people, pigs can get influenza (flu), but swine flu viruses aren’t the same as human flu viruses. Swine flu doesn’t often infect people, and the rare human cases that have occurred in the past have mainly affected people who had direct contact with pigs. But the current swine flu outbreak is different. It’s caused by a new swine flu virus that has spread from person to person — and it’s happening among people who haven’t had any contact with pigs.

What are swine flu symptoms?

Symptoms of swine flu are like regular flu symptoms and include fever, cough, sore throat, body aches, headache, chills, and fatigue. Some people have reported diarrhea and vomiting associated with swine flu. Those symptoms can also be caused by many other conditions, and that means that you and your doctor can’t know, just based on your symptoms, if you’ve got swine flu. It takes a lab test to tell whether it’s swine flu or some other condition.

If I think I have swine flu, what should I do? When should I see my doctor?

If you have flu symptoms, stay home, and when you cough or sneeze, cover your mouth and nose with a tissue. Afterward, throw the tissue in the trash and wash your hands. That will help prevent your flu from spreading.

If you’ve got flu symptoms, and you’ve recently been to a high-risk area like Mexico, CDC officials recommend that you see your doctor. If you have flu symptoms but you haven’t been in a high-risk area, you can still see a doctor — that’s your call.

Keep in mind that your doctor will not be able to determine whether you have swine flu, but he or she would take a sample from you and send it to a state health department lab for testing to see if it’s swine flu. If your doctor suspects swine flu, he or she would be able to write you a prescription for Tamiflu or Relenza. Those drugs may not be required; U.S. swine flu patients have made a full recovery without it.

April 28, 2009 Posted by | 1 | Leave a comment

Top 10 Essential Rap-Rock Songs

Contrary to popular opinion, not all rap-rock sounds the same. As proof, here are the 10 most essential rap-rock songs, which span the gap from the art-metal weirdness of Faith No More to the suburban disillusionment of Linkin Park. About the only thing they all have in common is their ability to deftly merge hip-hop sounds and rock attitude.

Faith No More – “Epic” (1990)

faith no more epicPhoto courtesy Reprise.
Rap-rock at its artiest, Faith No More’s “Epic” launched the San Francisco group into the mainstream with a unique combination of metal guitar and Mike Patton’s chanted/rapped lyrics. “What is it?/It’s it!” became one of the year’s most addictive choruses and oddest riddles, but the song also demonstrated the commercial viability of rap-rock. (Faith No More would get even weirder on their next album, Angel Dust.)

Red Hot Chili Peppers – “Give It Away” (1991)

red hot chili peppers give it awayPhoto courtesy Warner Bros.
From their earliest days, Red Hot Chili Peppers were heavily influenced by funk, a precursor to hip-hop, but the band never made better use of the style than on “Give It Away.” On this standout track from Blood Sugar Sex Magik, RHCP frontman Anthony Kiedis spits bravado like an MC, while guitarist John Frusciante squeals and shreds right behind him.

Rage Against the Machine – “Killing in the Name” (1992)

rage against the machine killing in the namePhoto courtesy Epic.
Heralding the emergence of a vitriolic new musical force, Rage Against the Machine‘s first single, “Killing in the Name,” contained all the weapons in the band’s arsenal: politically-relevant lyrics, a demon rhythm section, and Tom Morello‘s guitar tricks that mimicked the furious scratching of a hip-hop DJ. Plus, the song sounded really amazing while you were flailing around in the mosh-pit.

Beastie Boys – “Sabotage” (1994)

beastie boys sabotagePhoto courtesy Capitol/EMI.
Beastie Boys helped birth the rap-rock movement with their 1986 debut, Licensed to Ill, but they took the genre even higher with “Sabotage” eight years later. Though also remembered for its brilliant cop-show-parody video, “Sabotage” craftily merged punk, hard rock and hip-hop until the song became something you could only classify as rap-garage-rock

Kid Rock – “Bawitdaba” (1999)

kid rock bawitdabaPhoto courtesy Atlantic.
Kid Rock was a white-trash Detroit rapper who wanted to let the world know that he was the baddest punk on the block. He came up with “Bawitdaba,” a magnificently strutting track that demonstrated his killer charisma and rude attitude. 1999 was the year that rap-rock came into its own as a commercial force, and “Bawitdaba” kicked things off forcefully.

Limp Bizkit – “Nookie” (1999)

limp bizkit nookiePhoto courtesy Interscope.
The poster boys of rap-rock, Limp Bizkit became superstars with Significant Other and its smash single, “Nookie.” When the genre later started experiencing its inevitable backlash, “Nookie” was targeted as symptomatic of rap-rock’s worst tendencies: misogynistic attitudes, moronic lyrics, mindless aggression. But there’s no denying that the song struck a chord with angry young men hungry for an excuse to bang their heads.

Korn – “Falling Away From Me” (1999)

korn falling away from mePhoto courtesy Immortal.
Korn frontman Jonathan Davis worships hip-hop, but in his nu-metal band’s music the influence isn’t immediately noticeable. But as “Falling Away From Me” reveals, Korn integrate rap’s staccato rhythms and space-age keyboard hooks into their sound, producing creepy, catchy hard rock that established the group as the era’s top moodmakers

Linkin Park – “In the End” (2001)

linkin park in the endPhoto courtesy Warner Bros.
Linkin Park stumbled upon a novel way to merge rap and rock by juxtaposing lead singer Chester Bennington’s melodic vocals with band member Mike Shinoda’s rapped verses. The most successful pairing of these vocalists was on “In the End” — Shinoda spits worried lines while Bennington’s plaintive chorus articulates the song’s disillusionment in more soaring ways. Where many of their predecessors used rap-rock to express aggression, Linkin Park saw the style as a tool to convey uncertainty and fear.

Rehab – “Bottles & Cans” (2005)

rehab bottles cansPhoto courtesy Universal/Republic.
The Georgia collective Rehab gave rap-rock a laidback Southern twang on their album Graffiti the World. “Bottles & Cans” finds frontman Danny Boone contemplating his dead-end life of booze and drugs over a hip-hop beat and a lurking guitar riff. Rap-rock had rarely sounded so world-weary before.

Hollywood Undead – “Undead” (2008)

hollywood undead singlePhoto courtesy A&M/Octone.
Swan Songs, the first album from Hollywood Undead, was a largely generic rap-rock affair, but this breakthrough single was particularly strong, recalling the antagonism of Limp Bizkit, the melodicism of Linkin Park, and the misanthropy of Eminem. If they come up with more hits like this for their sophomore effort, Hollywood Undead could help usher rap-rock into the next decade.

April 25, 2009 Posted by | 1 | Leave a comment

Will Ferrell Interview on ‘Land of the Lost’

Will Ferrell Land of the Lost

Will Ferrell in ‘Land of the Lost’

© Universal Pictures

Aficionados of the classic Saturday morning cartoon series Land of the Lost will be happy to know the Sleestaks and Chaka have made the leap to the big screen in the film version of the series set to hit theaters on June 5, 2009. If you remember the show, you probably recall park ranger Rick Marshall and his two children, Holly and Will, wound up in a lost world of dinosaurs and other strange creatures while on a rafting trip. In this incarnation of the story, Will Ferrell takes on the role of Rick Marshall while the kids have been replaced by adult research assistants played by Anna Friel and Danny McBride.

Universal Pictures invited press to a day on the set of the action comedy, and Ferrell sat down to chat about the long process of bringing the cult favorite to the big screen.

Will Ferrell Interview

You were attached to this for like three years?
“I don’t know. I don’t know how long. I was attached initially and then I wasn’t going to be able to do it and then Universal really wanted to make it and they were going to make it with other people – and then that disappeared.  So, I forget the chronology of it all.”

Well, you are rockin’ the khaki.
“The khaki is good. I like it.  I’m trying to think — not since Elf have I been able to wear the same clothes every single day.  It’s nice.  You don’t have to think about things. You don’t have those awkward wardrobe moments where you tried on a different T-shirt that you thought was really cool and then it’s not the same one the next day and you’re like, ‘What happened?’ ‘Oh, the director didn’t like it.’ Which is good. It never changes.  I like it.”

How hard is it with this big movie where you have effects and have to hit marks, etc. to be really funny and loose and be Will Ferrell?
“Well, yeah, it’s a whole different animal in a way.  You know, in some ways you actually don’t have to be funny all the time, which is what I like about it. And in other ways you can play these adventure moments just completely straight and they come off funny. You don’t have to work at it too much. The flip side of it is that as we are in precarious situations. It’s such a great backdrop to actually throw out these lines that are commenting that you’re about to be eaten.  That’s why I love Rick Marshall who is like, obviously, scared for his life at the same time his scientific mind is always working and he has a great appreciation of this character that’s going to eat him all at the same time. It’s a great combination for comedy.”

Can you talk about your character?
“Yeah, slightly different from the TV show, though George [from] may be able to shed some light on this.  Was Rick Marshall, was it ever established? Was he just a guy who liked to explore with his children?”

George: He was a Park Ranger.

“He was a Park Ranger.  Okay, so that’s where there is a difference.  Rick Marshall in the movie is a quantum paleontologist.  So, slightly failed, there was a moment at time that we sort of see at the beginning of the movie where he was one of the stars of the scientific community, but then he wrote this book on how he thought there were holes in time and space and everyone thought he was crazy.  And he ended up eventually punching Matt Lauer – we haven’t shot it yet – and that led to his fall from grace. We sort of pick him up working at the LaBrea Tar Pits trying to teach children who aren’t listening to him and all stuff like that.  Yeah, so it’s slightly different in that he had developed these theories about places like Land of the Lost and it wasn’t until Holly showed up and studied some of his findings and sort of reinvigorated him to get back in the field and that led them on this adventure.”

Did you watch the original Land of the Lost?
“My brother and I loved Land of the Lost.  It was kind of, for those of us who watched it, such a unique thing on Saturday mornings.  I just loved that it wasn’t a silly cartoon. It seemed so real at the time and how did they make this show with dinosaurs and Sleestaks creatures and, ‘It looked so real!  And I wish I was Will!’ I always thought it was the coolest premise and the fact it didn’t talk down to kids.  It seemed like a real adventure show, so I loved it.”

You’ve known Danny McBride and presented Foot Fist Way to America, and this is your first time working with him.  What’s that dynamic like with the two of you?
“It’s really fun. Dare I say [we’ve become] kind of good friends through this process and I’d love to keep working with him. I might do a couple cameo parts in the series we are producing. He is so much fun in that he sort of likes to work the same way I do : work hard, but have fun while you are making a movie. He’s just kind of open, great improviser.  We’ve been lucky that the three of us, Anna, Danny and Jorma [Taccone] too, who plays Chaka, for four people who have had to spend a lot of time together, we’ve had just a great time.”

* * * * * *

Land of the Lost hits theaters on June 5, 2009.  

April 25, 2009 Posted by | 1 | Leave a comment

Top 10 Rap Releases for April

Albums on deck for release this month include Asher Roth’s much anticipated debut, Jada’s comeback LP, and the Redman & Method Man reunion we waited ten years for. Here are this month’s Top 10 Rap Releases.

10. Tech N9ne – ‘Sickology 101’

Sickology 101 is Tech N9ne’s ninth album, his second in the “Collabos” series. This time, the Kansas veteran teams up with Krayzie Bone, Crooked I, Chino XL, Messy Marv, and many more.
Street Date: March 31, 2009

9. Del The Funky Homosapien – ‘Funkman’

There may be an economic recession in the United States, but there’s no recession of funk. Del The Funky Homosapien is leading the hip-hop version of economic recovery effort with his 13-point stimulus plan: a tour and a FREE album. (Video) Mark your calendar for April 7 and be sure to bookmark, where the album will be made available.
Street Date: April 14, 2009

8. Pastor Troy – ‘Feel Me or Kill Me’

Pastor Troy has more albums than most of his peers combined, but shows no signs of slowing down. VP of A&R at Troy’s recording home, SMC Recordings, WIll Bronson, describes Feel Me or Kill Me as “quintessential Troy,” adding that “it’s hardcore, chaotic and that’s the Pastor Troy I love. We’re just furthering what we did with Tool Musiq.” You can join in a fun game of Feel Me or Kill Me at (Warning: Violent graphics ahead)
Street Date: April 14, 2009

7. The Grouch & Eligh – ‘Say G&E!’

Living Legends comrades The Grouch and Eligh align their musical planets for a collaborative set. These two hip-hoppers have more than just their group affiliation in common. Eligh is coming off a strong showing on hip-hop’s first ever mother-and-son duo which gave birth to the album On Sacred Ground: Mother & Son. That cute kiddo on the artwork of Grouch’s last album? That’s his daughter.
Street Date: April 7, 2009

6. Rick Ross – ‘Deeper Than Rap’

© Def Jam
Rick Ross have been entangled in an atrocious feud for the past 3 months or so. Both Ross and 50 have new albums scheduled for this year. Expect the two to continue the “battle” on their respective albums. As long as they keep it strictly on wax, no one’s complaining.
Street Date: April 21, 2009

5. Lady Sovereign – ‘Jigsaw’

That Lady Sovereign has made it to her second major album is a puzzle in itself. Let’s face it, Public Warning wasn’t exactly mind-blowing, despite the reams of hype the UK rapper drummed up prior to her stateside debut. Whatever the case, Sov is back to prove that she’s anything but a one-and-done rapper. Look for Jigsaw to be more personal and introspective.
Street Date: April 21, 2009

4. Mr. Lif – ‘I Heard It Today’

Lif’s latest album boldly plants a mirror in front of America’s social landscape, and reflects on issues such as discrimination, ignorance, and economic crisis. Guests include Bahamadia and Vinnie Paz (of Jedi Mind Tricks).
Street Date: April 20, 2009

3. Asher Roth – ‘Asleep In The Bread Aisle’

Fast rising rapper Asher Roth has drawn massive comparisons to Eminem because of his delivery and — let’s face it — skin color. Asleep In The Bread Aisle will offer the self-named King of the Blumpkins an opportunity to either butter up those comparisons or serve up a different kind of toast.
Street Date: April 20

2. Jadakiss – ‘The Last Kiss’

Contrary to speculation, The Last Kiss is not Jada’s swan song. It’s only the final entry in his Kiss-themed album series, which began with Kiss tha Game Goodbye in 2001. Of course, a lot has changed since then. Kiss left Ruff Ryders and joined Def Jam, at Jay-Z’s beckoning. The Last Kiss is led by the Ne-Yo-assisted single, “By My Side.” It also boasts guest appearances by Jay-Z, Faith Evans, Lil Wayne, Styles P, and Ghostface Killah. You can stream The Last Kiss on at no cost.
Street Date: April 7, 2009

1. Method Man/Redman – ‘Blackout 2’

Anyone old enough to remember Blackout! knows one thing for sure: There’s no boring moment when Redman & Method Man are on the mic. Nearly ten years after hip-hop’s most playfully creative duo rocked the rap world with Blackout!, Red & Meth reunite for a sequel to their collaborative debut. Guests include: UGK, Saukrates, and Erick Sermon.
Street Date: April 28

April 24, 2009 Posted by | 1 | Leave a comment

Prince – ‘MPLSound,’ ‘Lotusflow3er’ and ‘Elixer’

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Prince has been in the music game for over 30 years now, but not only does he show no sign of slowing down, his music somehow manages to still sound as fresh as it did back in the early 1980s. On his latest work, a three-disc set that became available exclusively at Target stores on March 29, 2009, Prince proves that although he’s in his 50s now, he still can be just as cutting edge and vibrant as he was 25 years ago. The three discs, Lotusflow3r (Lotus Flower), MPLSound, (Minneapolis Sound) and Elixer (Elixir), prove that he’s still far more creative than maybe 95 percent of the artists making music today.


Of the three discs, it’s the second one, the nine-song MPLSound, that should appeal most to fans of Prince’s classic material and/or traditional R&B, so that’s the disc that’ll be reviewed here first. Much of the music is similar to that of Prince’s late 1980s output, particularly the drum machine programming, synthesizers and chorus arrangements. But although Prince has been in the music game almost three decades now, he still manages to instill a youthful outlook and zest for life in his verses, such as the opening track on MPLSound, the up tempo “(There’ll Never B) Another Like Me,” when he sings “Walked in my closet, tryin’ to find somethin’ to wear/Then I check my email, see where the party be, change the names to protect the guilty, and get ready to creep.” Now how many other 50-year-old men can you think of who could convincingly sing such lyrics? Probably not many, if any.The next song, a funky track called “Chocolate Box,” is sort of a bridge between old school and new. The drums and synths are straight out of the Purple Rain era, but two things signify this is a modern era song: one is Prince’s light use of Auto-Tune for robotic vocal effects, and the other is the rapper Q-Tip, who makes a too-brief appearance on the track. Also among MPLSound‘s best songs are the funky “No More Candy 4 U,” and “Better With Time,” a tender, romantic ballad on which Prince, in his patented falsetto, gets all sentimental on us: “Anyone who’s met you agrees that no one forgets you, most of all not me,” he sings. This one’s destined to be played at weddings for years to come.

‘Lotusflow3r’ and ‘Elixer’

The album’s first disc, Lotusflow3r, consists of 12 songs that experiment with pop, jazz, blues, funk and rock, many on the same track. Prince’s guitar wizardry is on full display on the disc’s second song, “Boom,” which starts out as the sonic equivalent of a relaxing shoulder massage before metamorphasizing into a sort of musical thundershower. The following track, “The Morning After” is a Beatles-influenced pop ditty reminiscent of his 1985 album, Around the World In a Day; and another song, “Colonized Mind,” is a melancholy, bluesy song that offers social commentary while acknowledging Prince’s spirituality: “If you look, then surely you will find throughout mankind’s history a colonized mind/The one in power makes law under which the colonized fall; without God, it’s just the blind leadin’ the blind.” More commentary can also be heard on the Jimi Hendrix-ish “Dreamer,” a funk-rock civil rights ode.The third disc, Elixer, is technically the debut album by Prince protege Bria Valente, but the album’s produced by Prince and he’s also a featured performer. Much like some of Prince’s other young female proteges – most famously Vanity and Appolonia – Bria looks great but isn’t a great singer. Her paper-thin vocals on the 10 songs are disappointing, but the sultry, jazz-influenced production is indeed tight. The few standout tracks are the title song (which features Prince), the erotic “Something U Already Know,” or the dance track “2Nite.” Overall, this is by far the weakest of the three discs, but still worth hearing thanks to the Purple One’s creative touch.

April 23, 2009 Posted by | 1 | Leave a comment

Keith Urban – ‘Defying Gravity’

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Keith Urban - 'Defying Gravity'

Keith Urban – ‘Defying Gravity’

Capitol Nashvill

Defying Gravity Bottom Line:

Traditional country music fans might have a problem with this album, as it is has strayed even further away from the type of music Keith has released in the past. There’s a lot of rock and pop elements mixed in with country which has been brewing for a couple years now. The drum loops might be off-putting to some, but if you open your eyes and choose to experience it from a different perspective you might be pleasantly surprised. As a long-time Keith Urban fan, I know this album makes me happy and the overall feeling from Keith is that he’s living a happy life too.

About Keith Urban:

Keith Urban’s Defying Gravity is one of the year’s most highly anticipated albums and with good reason. How could it not be with as much talent the man has and the undying love and devotion from his fans / Monkeyville fan club members. I’ve been a Keith Urban fan from the very beginning (with single number one), only it really started taking off once he released his Golden Road album. From then on I’ve always made it a point to follow and keep up with his amazing journey to the superstar status he enjoys to this day.To take the time to look back at Keith Urban’s first few years in the business and compare them to today’s times it might seem like the difference is like apples and oranges. But if you really dive deep, you’ll find that Keith’s massive talent has always been there and as the “Days Go By” we as fans and listeners of country music have embraced him with open arms. I’m glad that he isn’t a “fly by night” artist who is all over the media for a year and then gone without a trace. No matter what genre you place him in – there’s no way you can deny how skilled he is.

Defying Gravity The Songs:

At first I was surprised that “Sweet Thing” wasn’t the opening track on the album, but “Kiss A Girl,” (the album’s second single) is very similar in sound and feel so it doesn’t make too much of a difference. Plus it really sets the tone of “saying goodbye to all these blues” for at least a few minutes.

Keith Urban

Keith Urban
Danny Clinch

If you look at the next two songs sequentially, “If Ever I Could Love” fits perfectly as the next one in line because the man is saying that he’s finally found that special person who has managed to capture that special place in his heart – the one that feels comfortable with the woman, yet there’s a lot more room to grow.”Sweet Thing” was the album’s first single and from the first listen it’s been stuck in my mind – non-stop – even now. There’s a reason it was released before other singles and it’s so undeniably catchy there was no way it wouldn’t reach No. 1 status on the Billboard charts.

A special mention must be made for the song, “‘Til Summer Comes Around.” It is difficult explaining how special it is without saying that you need to hear it for yourself. Every little part of the song – the lyrics, backing music, lonely guitar solos and even the waves crashing at the end make for the perfect way of showing just how lonely and longing the man is to see the girl from five years ago. She said that she would be back to see him so he worked at the pier every summer and after all these years he still remembers the feelings they shared and hopes to re-capture that. Even though he knows in the back of his mind it won’t happen. What a truly fantastic song. Definitely one of my favorites, if not the only one.

“Hit The Ground Runnin'” just screams out “Please, release me as a single!” What I especially enjoyed the initial times I played the song is the first ten seconds. The other three minutes and fifteen seconds is equally as wonderful – but the way the ganjo (yes, ganjo) riff and the guitar’s “ghost-note” trade bars produced a unique way of opening a song. The rest of the tune has flashy guitar playing as only Keith Urban would be able to provide and makes you want to do just as the title suggests.While “Hit The Ground Runnin'” is rockin’, the opposite could be said for “Only You Could Love Me This Way.” It’s quite lovely with a mix of acoustic guitars, ganjo, and the usage of an e-bow. As far as lyrics go, it’s pretty self-explanatory by the title. A man is saying all the things a woman wants to hear.

When I realized that Keith Urban would be recording a version of Radney Foster / Georgia Middleman’s song “I’m In,” I wasn’t worried because he did a fine job with “Raining On Sunday.” The first time I heard Keith’s version I was a bit apprehensive but only because I was so used to the original version. It’s great to see that Keith recognizes what a talented songwriter and artist Radney is (same with Georgia Middleman), and is pushing him even more into the spotlight. Sometimes I feel like Radney is a best-kept secret.

Defying Gravity has touches of Keith’s married life and new-found happiness all over the place. Nowhere else is that more apparent than in the closing track “Thank You.” Co-written by Keith with Rick Nowels, the openness and honesty not only in the lyrics but the heart and soul of Keith’s vocals comes across in a way that I don’t think I’ve witnessed from the artist. Not to say that in the past he hasn’t exuded emotion (because he has). It’s just that this particular track comes from a deeper, different place. An amazing end to yet another winning album from Keith Urban.

Release date: March 31, 2009 – Capitol Nashville

Defying Gravity Track List:

  1. “Kiss A Girl”
  2. “If Ever I Could Love”
  3. “Sweet Thing”
  4. “‘Til Summer Comes Around”
  5. “My Heart Is Open”
  6. “Hit The Ground Runnin'”
  7. “Only You Can Love Me This Way”
  8. “Standing Right In Front Of You”
  9. “Why’s It Feel So Long”
  10. “I’m In”
  11. “Thank You”

April 23, 2009 Posted by | 1 | Leave a comment

Essential Bob Dylan Albums

Bob Dylan has been one of the most dynamic artists in the history of modern American music. Here’s a look at five of his most memorable, envelope-pushing albums, and how they affected the turns of American folk-rock.

1. Bob Dylan – ‘The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan’ (1963)

'The Freewheelin' Bob Dylan' (1963)© Columbia Records
Bob Dylan‘s second album, The Freewheelin’ Bob Dylan (Columbia, 1963), was one of his most groundbreaking efforts. It could be held responsible for putting Dylan on the map in the first place. On Freewheelin’, Dylan seemed to have catapulted past the Woody Guthrie-lite of his Columbia debut, and shone himself as the groundbreaking singer-songwriter he has since proven to be.

2. Bob Dylan – ‘The Basement Tapes’ (1975)

Bob Dylan - 'The Basement Tapes' (1975)© Columbia Records
Easily one of Dylan’s most influential recordings, The Basement Tapes was one of rock and roll’s original indie albums. The story of this record began with Dylan’s motorcycle crash in 1966. During the year following the accident, he and the Hawks (aka the Band) started working in a homemade studio in the basement of the house known as Big Pink. After a number of remixes and overdubs, Columbia released The Basement Tapes almost a decade after the tracks were laid down. Of the 24 tunes on the final collection, eight weren’t recorded in the basement. Not that this small fact inhibited the reach of the album, as so many big-time rock and contemporary folk-rock artists cite this record as a major influence.

3. Bob Dylan – ‘Highway 61 Revisited’ (1965)

BoB Dylan - 'Highway 61 Revisited' (1965)© Columbia Records
Although some of Bob Dylan’s previous records had included some more rock-infused tracks, his sixth studio album, Highway 61 Revisited, was the first to be entirely considered a rock album. It included such extraordinary, timeless folk-rock classics as “Desolation Row” (purchase/download) and “Like A Rolling Stone” (purchase/download), and has been considered one of his best albums by everyone from Rolling Stone magazine to Dylan himself.

4. Bob Dylan – ‘Blonde on Blonde’ (1966)

Bob Dylan - 'Blonde on Blonde' (1966)© Columbia Records
Where Highway 61 firmly established Dylan as a trendsetter and path-forger in the new folk-rock sound, Blonde on Blonde was a much more decisive record in terms of Dylan’s own relationship with the new sound. His loquacious, imagery-laden poetry had become more flowy, and his synergy with the Band was at its peak. It included such classics as “Sad Eyed Lady of the Lowlands” (purchase/download) and “Just Like a Woman” (purchase/download), and has consistently been labeled one of the best albums in modern music history.

5. Bob Dylan – ‘Time Out of Mind’ (1997)

Bob Dylan - 'Time Out of Mind' (1997)© Columbia Records
This 1997 release—his 41st album—saw Bob Dylan teaming up with the great producer and multi-instrumentalist Daniel Lanois. Between The Basement Tapes and Time Out of Mind, Dylan certainly recorded some hugely notable albums, and made great contributions to the progression of modern music. Somehow, though, this release marked a significant moment in his career where he was finally able to find common ground between the roots-blues-rock sound he’d pioneered and the folk singer-songwriter vibe that had propelled him to fame in the first place. The album was a little darker and more mysterious, but the musicality is undeniable.

April 22, 2009 Posted by | 1 | Leave a comment