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By Bradly Gill
From comics to sitcoms to board games, Darren High’s pop art references are many of our culture’s most recognizable icons. His style of mixing super-heroes and super-villains with classic works of art is as clever as it is thought-provoking. High held his senior art exhibit, “Pop-Cultured,” on April 1st.
His painting, “The Last Super,” contains a host of Marvel and DC heroes. Marvel Comics, who brought readers Daredevil, the X-Men, and Spiderman, are merged with DC comics’ Batman and Superman, in a painting that parodies Da Vinci’s, “The Last Supper,” but instead of Jesus and the Apostles, the Man of Steel and his comic compatriots are shown.
As odd as it may seem, there are numerous parallels between Superman and Christ. “Superheroes, especially if they’ve been used for sixty or seventy years,” High comments, “are used to promote pretty much the same thing Christianity promotes. For instance, Superman stands for honesty and fights for truth and justice.”
High goes even deeper and connects the lives of these two icons. “Christ was sent by his father from the heavens. He was raised by Earthly parents and opposed evil. Ultimately, he was betrayed by someone he trusted. Superman was sent here by his father to earth and was ultimately betrayed by Lex Luthor, who was his childhood friend.”
“I put Wonder Woman in there because of a book, The Davinci Code.” Darren says. The book suggests one of the figures in “The Last Supper” is Mary Magdalene.
Another reference among his works is Munch’s, “The Scream.” In High’s version the Batman villain the Joker is shown. The parody is appropriately titled “The Laugh.”
High’s most poignant work doesn’t have super-heroes in it. The painting shows an old country church, like many of the ones dotting the Bible belt: a white sign proclaims, “White’s only. Blacks aren’t welcome here. “This was based on a story someone told me about a church that doesn’t let black people attend.” The painting is called “What would Jesus think?”
High is also a sculptor. His piece, “The Stinker,” references Rodan’s “The Thinker”. This small sculpture resembles a man made of feces on a toilet. Darren remarks, “If this looks like crap, well it’s supposed to.”
Darren’s exhibition runs from April 1-8 at the Library.
By Bradly Gill
The aroma of coffee, mixed with the sounds of prose, poetry, and music, filled the air of the Patio Cafe on April 1st, as the Creative Society hosted Mocha Madness. Faculty and students took to the stage and read poems, told stories, and played music. Mocha Madness is held every semester, and all kinds of performers were welcome, while the usual is generally poetry, Madness was the showcase for a dancer this year. UAM art students even hang up their work to give the patio a more coffeehouse feel.
MC Candrice Jones kicked things off by singing “Happy Birthday” to English Professor, Dr. Robert Moore. She then read her poem "Daddy's Got a Gun."
The UAM faculty was out in full force as Diane Payne read a story about pranks and bad relationships. Dr. Erin O'Neill, Dr. Jim Roiger, and of course, Dr. Moore (red hawk), all read poems.
However the students weren't about to be outdone as David Cherry (aka Cherry D.), Laurin Smith, Samad Abedi, Brad Hill, and Laura Outlaw all took turns at the mike.
Perhaps the most exciting event wasn't a performance, but it did involve the podium. As Dr. Marshall and Candrice moved the large stand, it fell apart and crashed to the ground, almost hitting the young child of Criminal Justice professor, Dr. McGee. Luckily, thanks to “Dad-like” reflexes, no one was harmed.
Prizes this year came in the form of collaged notebooks made from high-quality paper. Gel pens were also given to performers.
“The Mars Award,” which is given to a member, or members, of the Creative Society who put the most work into making Mocha Madness happen, was shared this year by Bradly Gill and Rhiannon Cabaniss, who baked the cookies, shopped for the coffee, and helped set up the stage for the event. Ms. Cabaniss also spent Mocha Madness serving coffee to all the java junkies.
The Creative Society would like to thank all who attended, performed, and anyone else who made this semester’s Mocha Madness a success.
By Brad Amoroso
Guitarist, David Asbury played a free concert in the Recital Hall of the Music Building on Thursday, April 1st. The audience, mostly made of professors and music majors seeking entertainment, was filled out by Music Appreciation students seeking extra credit. Wearing a snazzy black and white checkered sport jacket, and armed with a beautiful, hand-made classical guitar, Asbury casually walked on the stage and took a seat.
“Thank you all for coming,” he said while fine-tuning his guitar. “I’ll let you know up front that I’ll be tuning throughout the program.” He gave a sly grin. “So bear with me.”
Asbury is an active performer and teacher, appearing on concert stages in Europe, Canada, Central America, and throughout the States. The recipient of many awards, including the Diploma of Merit from the Academia Chigiana in Siena, Italy, he seemed very relaxed in the small recital hall. The burgundy drapes and the hanging chandeliers set the mood for the evening of musical exploration.
He started by playing three pieces by 16th Century composer, Francesco da Milano. His technique was excellent, but the body and facial expression he performed with gave the music an added element that told the listener that Asbury loved what he was playing. After performing four more songs, two by Silvius Leopold Weiss, and two by Fernando Sor, he stopped for a brief intermission. This gave the small guitar-playing portion of the audience a chance to reconsider their instrument of choice.
After the break, Asbury continued to amaze with the music of Miguel Llobet, Isaac Albeniz, and Agustin Barrios Mangore (even the Music Appreciation-extra points-mongers were quiet in appreciation). His guitar become one in an almost preternatural transfer of energy to form a musical synergy.
As gracious as he was talented, Asbury thanked Dr. Becker, and the rest of the music department, for their generosity and hospitality. It is not very often that a musician of his caliber gives a small and intimate performance for the select few (extra points students aside) that have the foresight to know that this was not an event to miss.
By Brad Amoroso
Chimaira’s second album for Roadrunner Records, “The Impossibility of Reason,” is a sledge-hammer of an album and a must-have for any hardcore metal fan. If you haven’t noticed, Sweden is producing mass amounts of quality music right now, especially in metal: Meshuggah, In Flames, The Hellicoptors, and Soilwork just to name a few. The Swedes are setting the tone for modern metal just like Dallas’ Pantera did twelve years ago. Along with Shadow’s Fall and Killswitch Engage, Chimaira is representing the American cache of surgically precise speed-metal.
This is not an album for the radio-rock listener. There are no hints of Nickelback, Creed, or Shinedown on this album, but there are plenty of nods to Fearfactory, Machine Head, and, of course, Pantera (Far Beyond Driven). If searing metal is your thing, then don’t pass on this album. You won’t be sorry.
By Brad Amoroso
A Crow left of the Murder… is Incubus’ fifth studio effort, and if you’ve paid attention to their last albums (not just their sappy radio hits), you’ll notice that they change their style on every outing. There are no songs on this album that would have fit with Morning View, Make Yourself, Science, or Enjoy Incubus. The Southern California quintet has been very careful not to release the same album twice.
They started their career with a funk-based, rap-metal sound that was heavy on DJ scratching and have evolved into a mature rock band where the DJ work is transparent (as it should be), no sign of rap (as it should be), and an overall vibe that sounds more and more like The Police with every release, which is not a bad thing. Guitarist Mike Einziger plays thin phrases similar to the great Andy Sommers, and drummer Jose Pasillas uses break-down sections to give homage to Stewart Copeland (one of the greatest drummers ever). And young Brandon Boyd, while not yet comparable to Sting, is still a great singer with a clean tone.
Throughout their short career, they have replaced a DJ and a bass player, but the core of the band is clearly Boyd, Einziger, and Pasillas. And if they stay together, they will have a long and fruitful career. Don’t let those radio-station pinheads and label jerks fool you into believing that Incubus is just another “nu-metal” cash cow trying to cash-in on what worked in the past. While A Crow left of the Murder… is not as good as Make yourself or Science, it is better than Morning View (which spawned two-top ten radio hits). If you’re not familiar with their work, this is not a good album to start with, but if you are already a fan, go ahead and buy this one, and trade-in Morning View.
By Brad Amoroso
Dallas’ Damageplan was born out of the ashes of most influential American metal act of the 90’s: Pantera. It was Pantera who set the standard for power-groove metal in a decade that largely ignored heavy metal (remember that MTV’s Headbanger’s Ball was dropped in 1993 and wasn’t picked-up again until last year). Pantera was made up of two brothers, Vinnie Paul Abbott and Darrell Abbott (drums and bass), childhood friend Rex Brown (bass), and a nasty guy from nasty New Orleans named Phil Anselmo (I can say that about New Orleans because I’m from there).
After six studio albums,
Pantera called it quits officially in 2003. Only weeks after the
break-up, Anselmo started Superjoint Ritual and has already released
two albums, “Use Once and Destroy” and “A Lethal Dose of American Hatred.”
Not to be outdone, the Abbott brothers finally answered with “New Found
Power,” a fitting name for their debut. As an avid Pantera fan, I
bought all three of the albums, but in the end, none of them lived up to the
worst Pantera album. This is not to say that Damageplan’s, “New
Found Power” is a waste of money, it just isn’t Pantera, and I can’t
let go of that fact. Perhaps I’m tripping on my own prejudices, but I know
what I like, and I don’t like Damageplan or Superjoint Ritual.
All I can do is keep my fingers crossed that one day, the Abbott brothers and
Anselmo can kiss and make-up and get back to the business of showing the world
the power of metal.
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