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Transformers: Age of Extinction PDF Print E-mail
Written by David T. Lindsay   
ImageTransformers: Age of Extinction [PG-13]: In his franchise reboot, director Michael Bay gives us more than the usual roll-around slugfest. Cade Yeager (a reference to Chuck, maybe?) is an inventor who is also a picker. When he and his sidekick Lucas find an old abandoned truck, it’s brought back to Cade’s Texas farm and turns out to be Optimus Prime, who went missing after the Battle of Chicago! Along with daughter Tessa (Nicola Peltz), the Autobots are revealed to government agents who say they’re mopping up bad guys but are instead searching for all alien left-behinds. It seems that the KSI Corporation, using remnants from Megatron’s head, are developing a new line of prototypes and the Autobots have to confront these man-made defenders or face extinction. More tightly scripted than previous installments in the series and the FX are better realized, including mechanical dinosaurs and vicious hellhounds. The day this was released Shia LeBeouf was arrested for going on a drunken rampage! Sheeesh!
The Fault in Our Stars PDF Print E-mail
Written by David T. Lindsay   
ImageThe Fault in Our Stars [PG-13]: Two teens, Gus (Ansel Elgort) and Helen (Shailene Woodley) meet in a cancer support group. He is a survivor with a prosthetic leg, she’s terminally ill tied to an oxygen tank, and though similar to a modern day Love Story, it actually has more in common with Agnes Varda’s Cleo From 5 to 7 about a woman waiting to get back test results from her physician while noticing all the beauty that surrounds her. Intrigued by a literary novel, it’s Helen’s desire to discover what happened to the characters in this book written by an eccentric alcoholic named Van Houten (Willem Dafoe) who refuses to leave Amsterdam, so the two star-crossed lovers plan a visit. If you’ve ever known someone with a terminal illness then you can relate to the highs and lows and what’s referred to in the movie as the “last good day.” A poignant look at how the patient views their own mortality, their impact on family and what’s left behind once they pass away.
Korengal PDF Print E-mail
Written by David T. Lindsay   
ImageKorengal [NR]: Labeled as the “Valley of Death,” in a valley too remote and difficult to re-supply, 42 Americans died fighting there before the US military pulled back in April 2010. Through interviews with the men of Battle Company, members of the 2nd of the 503rd Infantry regiment and the 173rd Airborne Brigade discuss how we are familiar with footage of the Afghan desert but there are spots like this remote valley without running water, deep in the mountains where the Taliban deal weapons, and sometimes the hardest part is being patient in between battles. An honest documentary from the soldier’s perspective that avoids both policy and politics in its assessment of the war in Afghanistan.
Fantasyland Records PDF Print E-mail
Written by Jeff Clark   

ImageWhile they’re one of the steadfast “old timers” among Atlanta record shops, having outlived various consumer trends and format preferences for nearly 38 years, Buckhead’s Fantasyland is too often overlooked when talk arises over the coolest places to scour the local vinyl bins. The truth is, with its extensive selection spanning numerous genres, and prices that are generally better than reasonable, Fantasyland remains one of the best.

From Greenville, South Carolina, where he grew up going to concerts from the likes of the Drifters, Coasters, Chubby Checker and James Brown, Andy Folio was by the mid 1970s living in Atlanta, working various menial jobs and operating a booth at flea markets on the weekends, selling books, comics and baseball cards. In 1976, he rented a tiny space on Peachtree Road in Garden Hills, in the same row of businesses where La Fonda and Fellini’s have long anchored the south end. Rent was $250 a month. Calling it Fantasyland, Folio tells me that “It didn’t have anything to do with [Disneyland]. I just thought it’d be a cool name for a comic book store, ‘cause that’s mainly what it was gonna be. Comics, cards. It wasn’t really related to music.”

But music soon came to dominate the store. At first, Andy brought in a case of records from his house. It didn’t take long ‘til he was selling more records (and assorted music memorabilia/collectibles) than books.

Around the time he moved into a larger location in the same strip in 1979, Folio hired an enthusiastic 20-year-old guy who’d become a regular shopper.

Image“I was a big Beatles collector at that time. I was always lookin’ around for things,” Mark Gunter recalls. “The first time I went in there [to Fantasyland] I bought a big suitcase full of Beatles newspaper clippings from the ’60s. It was maybe $15 or $20. I made like three scrapbooks out of the thing. I guess right after I started going in there, Andy asked if I wanted to work on Saturdays.” A couple years later, Gunter became the store manager, and has never left. A few other part-timers have come and gone in the decades since, but for 35 years Andy and Mark have reliably been the friendly, helpful, knowledgeable face of Fantasyland. At 68, Andy may come across as a little crotchety at times, but it’s clear he knows his business. Mark, now 55, is still the quintessential music geek, sincere and approachable. I couldn’t imagine Fantasyland without the two of them as its anchors.

After spending twelve years in a third space in that same Garden Hills shopping center, on a sweltering summer day in 2010 Andy and Mark moved all the stock into the business’s fourth location, this time on the street level of the Allure apartments on Pharr Road, easily identified by Fantasyland’s bright yellow awning with blue letters. At 4,200 square feet, this is the store’s largest location yet. It was previously a children’s dance studio, and there’s what used to be a small stage at the west end of the main room, which houses most of the rock vinyl (new and used), CDs (used only), cassettes, DVDs, T-shirts, buttons, stickers and other paraphernalia. Two additional rooms are set aside for discount records/CDs and non-rock genres, respectively. While not necessarily the most “rock ‘n’ roll” element of the store, the wall colors, mainly pastels, remain from that previous incarnation, though it matters little since classic rock posters (all for sale) adorn the majority of the wall space. Bins and boxes in every direction, it’s a delight of logically arranged clutter. July 1st marks the beginning of their fifth year in the spacious digs.

They’re really the only record store in corporate-leaning Buckhead, and Andy tells me it made sense to stay there. “We looked at places in Grant Park, Little Five Points and all that,” he says. “Little Five Points is a mess, in my opinion. There’s nowhere to park, rent’s extremely high… It’s not cheap out here [in Buckhead] either, and they’re liable to come along and say they’re gonna turn this into a jewelry store or a boutique. Who knows what they’ll do. This [property] changed hands two or three years ago, and we were right on edge as to if they were going to make us move out then. They went up on our rent. We just had to eat it, but we still managed to pay it.”

ImageLuckily, after a rough period when they relocated to this new street in the midst of a pallid economy, business has been steadily on the rise for Fantasyland. Despite their credit card terminal breaking down this past Record Store Day, they set an all-time sales record. Roots drummer/frontman ?uestlove, in town for a gig that night, spent $1,200 alone that day, $400 of that on old Rolling Stone magazines from the ‘60s and ‘70s.  

During my recent Wednesday afternoon visit, a steady flow of customers, both newbies and regulars, walked through the doors. Local musicians Lars Nagel and Jonny Daly were scouring the used rock vinyl bins. An older man strolled in asking for classical music. Another asks for Ella Fitzgerald. A first-timer inquires about the store’s layout. And, adds Andy, “we still have people come in every week and say, ‘I didn’t know you’d moved down here.’ It’s been four years!”

Cringing at the thought of hauling all these crates into yet another location, Folio offers a weary “no…” when asked if he’d ever consider relocating Fantasyland again. “I just don’t see how we could find another place,” offers Gunter. “We were lucky to stumble across this one.” But neither is retirement on the immediate horizon, if Folio is serious when he says, “I’m hoping to do this ‘til I’m about 90 years old.”

Fantasyland Records
360 Pharr Road in Buckhead
Mon.-Sat. 11 a.m. – 7 p.m.
Vinyl: New and used
CDs: Used
Other: Cassettes, DVDs, turntables, T-shirts, buttons, stickers, more.

Bob Mould - Beauty & Ruin PDF Print E-mail
Written by John Sewell   
ImageBob Mould
Beauty & Ruin

Get It at Amazon

“Coming to terms” is something of an omnipresent and tiresome trope of middle age. Sure, as we get older we realize we’re not gonna live forever; that we (well, most of us) were in fact pretty good looking when we were young, that we’re never gonna be pretty again, that life is not so pretty, and that it’s pretty sure that few (if any) of our hopes and dreams will be realized. Life pretty much sucks and then you die.

Bob Mould has danced variations of the “Coming to terms” rhumba ever since the demise of Husker Du. Unfortunately, what he’s been coming to terms with is the gravity of his own work and the onus of several near perfect albums with Sugar and (especially) Husker Du. For Bob, having made a handful of excellent loud guitar albums fusing hardcore sturm und drang with Byrds power pop was a such a heavy cross to bear that he decided, for a while, to go into acoustic music – and later even into disco – or some approximation of it. Mould’s 1989 solo debut, the acoustic Workbook, is totally overrated. And remember the tub-thumping disco opus, Modulate?  I hope not.

Anyway, Bob’s been back to making electric guitar based music for quite a while now. And these days he seems quite comfortable assuming the mantle of punk elder statesman and gay icon. Why, Bob has gone so far as to revisit the Husker Du oeuvre in his live shows – for the fans. Sure, it’s painful for him to relive those turbulent times through his songs. But with the aid of Dave Grohl, Margaret Cho, Craig Whatshisname from The Hold Steady and the good looking schmuck from Spoon, well, I guess it’s OK to take a victory lap or three. (See the recent Mould documentary aired on VH1 Classic Rock.)

I think you know where this is going, right?

Beauty & Ruin is yet another coming to terms album for Bob Mould. The title pretty much sums up the youth (beauty) and mortality (ruin) dialectic perfectly, now doesn’t it? And as expected, we’ll find Bob in contemplative mode, his thoughts ranging from wistful to sad to angry to dour. What else is new?

Standout tracks like “I Don’t Know You Anymore” and, to a lesser degree, “Kid With Crooked Face” follow the Husker/Sugar template that merges melody with powerchord crunch and a wee bit of hardcore anger thrown in just for kicks. And it’s great when Mould sticks to the formula he knows best.

Still, the album is burdened by a majority of mediocre to turgid tracks where Mould takes himself a wee bit too seriously. Case in point: On “Little Glass Pill” Mould laments, “You lie, you lie, you lie, deny, deny, deny, you live in denial, And why, and why, and why, and why, Am I, am I, am I losing this trial?” Oh please, Bob. Leave the persecuted, wounded bird bit to the emo kids, alright?

OK, maybe I’m being too harsh here. But that’s what I do. For a couple or three songs, Beauty & Ruin is exactly what I want from Bob. But there’s just not quite enough of the good stuff among the self-obsessed navel-gazing. If Bob could just get over himself and bust out that Flying V guitar again, well… 
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