Monthly Archives: April 2014

Tracy Morgan: Bona Fide debuts on Comedy Central (Spoiler Alert)

Stephanie Sokol for The Pit

Photo/Comedy Central

Photo/Comedy Central

Tracy Morgan left nothing unsaid in his stand-up “Tracy Morgan: Bona Fide.” Premiering Sunday, April 20, at 10:00 p.m. on Comedy Central, he poked fun at everything from stocking up on Spam to Colonel Sanders stealing his chicken recipe, to the time he was mistaken for an Irish woman.

Donning red pants and a white jacket, Morgan opened the evening shouting “What’s Up? Where Brooklyn At?” earning laughs from the audience when he said that the city he was performing in and grew up in is “always in the house.” From that point, he jumped to discussing his young life growing up as a “crack dealer with a heart of gold.”

He made it clear to audience members, however, that when you become famous, it’s tough to go back home.

“I can’t go back to where I grew up, or they’ll rob the shit out of me!” He joked about Brooklyn. “‘We love you Tray, you funny and all, but I need that chain man.'”

His family stories were also ridiculous and comedic, starting with his crackhead aunt who bought him a Gameboy, stole it, then helped him look for it, so she would “eliminate herself as a suspect.” Family party stories brought the audience into Morgan’s world, as he acted out the past for his viewers– in a manner that at times, seemed to make him a bit emotional.

But when times started feeling tense, he turned things around.

Throughout the evening, Morgan made light of society, comparing many things to a ghetto, repeating, “It’s getting dark out here.” Occupy Wall Street and preparing for the end of the world were mentioned in his spiel.

“I ain’t going to the mountains when doomsday comes– I’m going to the top of the projects…” Morgan said.

From laughing about Paula Dean’s use of the “n-word” to discussing the ridiculous news of crippled “Blade Runner” Oscar Pistorius “accidentally” killing his girlfriend, it was clear that Morgan didn’t take himself too seriously. He was fun onstage, interacting with the audience and really getting into his skits. When discussing drug use among athletes, Morgan transformed into a baseball player, getting up to bat, then passing out.

“You can’t quit if you’re the pope– this ain’t McDonald’s,” Morgan said. “Like,’ ‘I’m tired of this hat, God.’ ”

Known for his roles on 30 Rock and Saturday Night Live, Morgan’s delivery of the jokes was perfect and natural– whether he was laughing about relationships or joking about himself, he constantly earned well-deserved laughter from the audience, though at times, he was a bit out of line with his jokes. While he was funny and probably had good intentions, some of his “comedy” was bordering insulting and might have been offensive to some audience members. But for most of the night, he kept the audience laughing, closing the evening ridiculously as he acted out the process of a “text messaging fight” between a couple, which was all too realistic and silly.

Indie pick of the week: Holly Drummond

Stephanie Sokol for The Pit
Holly Drummond’s soft, soothing sound has been seen by some as “the female Damien Rice.” The 19-year-old Scottish singer-songwriter’s music varies from rich acoustic tracks  to lighter and more lively electronic music, as well as a plethora of song covers.
Photo/Holly Drummond

Photo/Holly Drummond

“I enjoy recording vocals for EDM as it’s different and I can have fun with it,” Drummond said. “I write differently for that than I do for my own songs as the lyrics don’t feel as important, just how catchy it is. I think I like to perform everything equally. Everything is just different. Covers are good for attracting new fans but I hope they stay for my original music.”

A cellist, guitarist, singer and casual pianist, Drummond has written songs for years, but did not share them with anyone she started her Youtube Channel four years ago.
Since then, she has released three EPs, and is working on a new one, in addition to the re-recording of an old song that will be released as a free download.
Her fourth album, “In The Dark -EP” is filled with emotionally-relateable music, with song themes ranging from love to life in general. One of the tracks, “These Four Walls” was written about a time when she felt stuck in life, not doing anything with her time, while “Cold Outside” tells a story of an old boyfriend in the wintertime.
Much of Drummond’s music tells a story, often of something that happened to her– rarely are her songs fictional.
While her favorite artists right now are Lucy Rose and Lorde, Drummond also draws inspiration from Ben Howard, Passenger, Paramore, Dido, Regina Spektor, The Pretty Reckless and Imogen Heap, to name a few.
“I just hope (people) relate to my lyrics– that’s all you can hope for really,” Drummond said.

For more Holly Drummond, like her on Facebook, follow her on Twitter @Holly_Drummond and check out her Bandcamp and Website.

Kristina Rinaldi wins first ever motion photography prize

Stephanie Sokol for The Pit

In the digital age comes an evolution to media– especially photography. It’s easier than ever to share a visual story with the world in an instant– it’s grown to become an art of sorts. Announced this week, the first-ever Motion Photography Prize from Saatchi Art and Google+ was awarded to Kristina Rinaldi, for her entry in the “Urban” category of the competition.

A still from Christina Rinaldi’s winning entry for the Motion Photography Prize. (PRNewsFoto/Saatchi Art)

A still from Christina Rinaldi’s winning entry for the Motion Photography Prize. (PRNewsFoto/Saatchi Art)

The prize launched February 5, 2014, and more than 4,000 photographers entered in the six categories. The goal was to work towards drawing attention to motion photography as “a new art form for everyone.”Due to the constant evolution of social media, smart phones and popularity of photo-sharing services, Saatchi Art (The World’s Leading Online Art Gallery), The Saatchi Gallery in London and Google + teamed up to launch this award, gathering entries from photographers around the world– both professional and amateur– whoever most innovatively told stories threw photography and motion photography.

A jury of artists, including Tracey Emin, Shezad Dawood and Cindy Sherman, in addition to filmmaker Baz Luhrmann, played a role in selecting Rinaldi, as well as the 5 finalists Kostas Agiannitis (Lifestyle), Matthew Clarke (Night), Emma Critchley (People), Micael Reynaud (Action) and Stefanie Schneider (Landscape).

Each of the finalists, as well as the winner, earned the opportunity to showcase their works on Saatchi Art and a special exhibition at the Saatchi Gallery in London, which opened this week. Rinaldi’s award takes it a bit further– providing her the chance to travel with a photographer or filmmaker of her choosing.

The top 6 works can be viewed here: http://explore.saatchiart.com/motion-photography.

Finally spring– time for an Ann Arbor adventure

Life's a cup of tea

This past Wednesday was a bright sunny day, and I had the day off, so I got outside and spent the day with my boyfriend in Ann Arbor, Mich. My favorite part about going to new places is exploring, and while I’d been to the town once before, there was still a lot to see.

IMG_1758

After getting coffee, we made a stop at the University of Michigan Museum of Art. Art museums are so interesting– a great place to use the creative side of your brain. While there was not as much variety here in artwork as other museums I’ve been to, I enjoyed the variety of artifacts, like this cool vintage tea sets.

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And also this painting that I liked to think was of a cat lady– notice the kitten near her feet and bottle.

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The art of Ann Arbor carries out into the streets. (Photo credit to…

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Sony/Legacy Recordings hold year-long celebration of Henry Mancini

By Stephanie Sokol for The Pit

In honor of the 50th Anniversary of “The Pink Panther – Music from the Film Score Composed and Conducted by Henry Mancini,” Sony and Legacy Recordings are celebrating the composer by releasing a variety of collectible commemorative titles in 2014. Wednesday, April 16 would have been Henry’s 90th birthday, and a new official Henry Mancini website (www.henrymancini.com) launched.

Born Enrico Nicola “Henry” Mancini in Cleveland, the American soundtrack composer broke into the industry at the close of World War II, as a pianist and arranger for Glenn Miller Orchestra in 1946.

About ten years later, Mancini had already composed music for more than 100 movies. His score for “The Glenn Miller Story” earned him his first Academy Award nomination; out of his 18 nominations, he’d win four Oscars.

During his career, Mancini composed about 250 album titles and scored more than 190 films including classics like The Pink Panther Theme, the “Peter Gunn” bass line, “Moon River” (from “Breakfast at Tiffany’s”) and “Days of Wine and Roses.”

This year, an 11 CD deluxe box set with the best of Mancini’s soundtracks will be released. Also, a limited edition of the Pink Panther film music recording will be released as an individually numbered 12′ PINK VINYL LP for Record Store Day 2014, featuring the classic “Pink Panther Theme” in addition to other works from the film.

The song is the currently the No. 1 most-streamed in the entire Sony Music catalog, and the original soundtrack album, which will be expanded with bonus material for a 50th anniversary edition this year, was given  a Grammy Hall of Fame Award in 2001.

With 72 of his albums up for awards throughout his career, Mancini still has the record for most Grammy nominations. In addition to the 20 Grammys he was awarded, Mancini received four Academy Awards, a Golden Globe, two Emmy nominations and a 2004 U.S. Commemorative Stamp.

Henry Mancini conducting a 1987 performance of “The Pink Panther Theme,” featuring clips from the film.

Whitecaps defeat Snappers 2-1, completing three game sweep

Stephanie Sokol for The Pit

Joint efforts from West Michigan Whitecaps right-hander Austin Kubitza and new shortstop Will Adames helped the team defeat the Beloit Snappers 2-1 Sunday afternoon, a game that allowed them to complete a three game sweep.

West Michigan Whitecaps LogoNothing got past the 6-foot-5 Kubitza, who struck out eight runs, and Adames provided him the defense he needed.

“He saved me on one when they hit a ball right at him. It was a great play,” Kubitza said of a bullet hit by Beloit’s Luis Baez in the second inning. “And he turned the double play for me, too. So he’s done well so far.”

After watching teammates in the rotation pitch lights-out this week, Kubitza was not going to be an exception, improving to 2-0 with a microscopic 0.84 ERA.

“I wouldn’t say there’s pressure, but we all want to do well,” said Kubitza, who was drafted in the fourth round out of Rice University last summer. “We like the competition, so it helps us all out.”

While it was a rough start to the season for the starting rotation of Jonathon Crawford, Buck Farmer and Kubitza have have greatly improved, reaching a combined 0.74 ERA in their last starts, allowing only two runs in 23 innings pitched during the last four outings.

“Two days ago when Buck and I were (charting pitches), we were comparing how we pitch to certain batters,” Kubitza said. “We try to help each other out as much as we can. It’s a team game.”

In addition to being new to the Whitecaps, Adames is also new to the U.S. Signed out of the Dominican Republic in 2012 for $420,000, the 6-foot-1, 180-pounder 18-year-old is listed by Baseball America as the No. 30 prospect in the Detroit Tigers organization.

The shortstop hit .245 playing in the Dominican Summer League last year, and was sent to the Whitecaps Saturday after spring training, following infielder Curt Powell being called to Class-A Lakeland.

“I feel good. Excited,” he said via hitting coach Nelson Santovenia, who served as his interpreter. “I wasn’t sure where I would play my first year. I’m excited to be at this level.”

At his debut with the Whitecaps, Adames eat out a ground ball to third base in the second inning of his first at-bat, in addition to hitting another single in the sixth to finish 2-f-or-3. He said he was excited to call and share his feelings about the experience with his father Romelo in the Dominican and godfather Jimmy Ceollado who is residing in New York.

Early in the first inning, Leadoff hitter Jose Zombrano hit a single, and brought the team to a 1-0 lead, with no more scoring until the fifth inning. At that point, the Whitecaps took another run, when Brett Harrison led off left with a single, to which Zambrano walked and Javier Betancourt got infield single to load the bases.

 The wind knocked down Raph Rhymes’ hit, allowing the center fielder to catch the ball. But following that moment, Harrison tagged and scored, leaving Whitecaps 2-0.

Three more innings passed until Beloit earned their run, by B.J. Boyd. Then Jon Maciel got two quick outs, though he walked the next two batters and was pulled.

Lefty Jon Mantiply was called on next and he struck out Boyd, with his swing ending the game, and earning him his first career save. A 27th round draf of Virginia Tech, Mantiply is 1-0 with a 0.00 ERA in eight innings.

Ficociello, Adames and Zambrano got two hits at the plate, and the team earned nine hits total, all of which were singles.

Though he had a strong performance, Beloit starting pitcher Ronald Herrera (1-1) got the loss after giving up two earned runs and not sriking out a batter in six innings.

The Whitecaps will be out on the road for their next game, which is the first of a six-game road trip in Quad Cities on Tuesday. They return for a seven-game homestand on April 21.

Griffins defeat Checkers 2-1

Stephanie Sokol for The Pit

Grand Rapids Griffins Goaltender Tom McCollum’s 35-save performance helped his team take down the Charlotte Checkers 2-1 Sunday at The Time Warner Cable Arena.

Grand Rapids Griffins Photo credit/Grand Rapids Griffins

With two games left on their schedule, Charlotte (37-34-1-2) started the game tied at 77 points for the eighth Western Conference playoff spot, with both the Rockford IceHogs and Oklahoma City Barons. This loss leaves playoff chances low. After today, Rockford has one game in hand to Charlotte, while Oklahoma City has two.

Grand Rapids (46-22-2-4) is two points away from the century mark, and could clinch the Midwest Division Title if the Chicago Wolves lose to the IceHogs tonight.

The Griffins return Van Andel Arena for their regular season home finale against the Lake Erie Monsters on Friday, before wrapping up their 76-game schedule with a match against Lake Erie on Saturday. Both games start at 7 p.m.

13:51 into the first, Charlotte’s Philippe Cornet took Matthew Corrente’s rebound and sent the puck past a sprawled out McCollum, leaving the Checkers up 1-0.

The Griffins turned the tables at 19:21, as Cory Emmerton got the puck past Checkers netminder John Muse, tying up the game 1-1. Grand Rapids had been scoreless again him for 139:21 up until Emmerton’s goal tonight.

The game-winner, again on Muse, was scored by Trevor Parkes at 11:05 of the second period, when he sent Nathan Paetsch’s rebound air-bound, past teh goaltender’s shoulder, put put the Griffins ahead 2-1.

Later in the second, Paetsch sent the puck into Muse’s cage, but it was called off for goaltender interference, after Landon Ferraro got into  it with Mark Flood, who nudged him and sent him on top of Muse right before Paetsch’s shot.

While the third period remained scoreless, it was action-packed, with McCollum turning away all of the Checker’s 14 shots. Five tosses of the puck at Muse occurred before he was pulled in the last few minutes of the game for an extra attacker.

At the last minute, the Checkers came close to tying the game, but McCollum stopped all goals, earning first-star honors with 35 saves, while Muse had 25.

Notes from the Grand Rapids Griffins:  Defenseman Ryan Sproul made his NHL debut with Detroit this afternoon, becoming the 145th Griffins alumnus to play in the NHL. 16 former Griffins were on Detroit’s roster in its 3-0 road victory over the St. Louis Blues. Petr Mrazek earned a 23-save shutout in the Wings’ final regular season game, his second shutout for the club in 11 career NHL games.