Online daily deals: Internet good for more than porn

Feel like saving money but don’t feel like cutting coupons like your Grandma? Just like the miracle that is online shopping, companies are becoming enlightened to their customers’ desires: saving money and being lazy about it. Online coupon websites are popping up left and right, providing shop-savvy buyers ways to seize huge deals.

Groupon offers great deals and great date ideas.

Groupon offers great deals and great date ideas.

Groupon

With no shifty selling tactics (their fine print is labeled The Fine Print in giant letters) and highlights of the products and the company they’re advertising, Groupon is dedicated to providing the best deals available in your city without jerky pop-ups or being forced to take surveys in order to unlock the site. Current deals include oil changes, games at Round Rock Express, cosmetic laser removal and super cheap pizza from Southside Pizza in Austin.

From food to beauty to baseball, Groupon covers the whole gamete of possible user interest. If you have a hot date and want to take them somewhere trendy in Austin, check out Groupon to see what sorts of massive savings are available to you so you can save your wallet but look super cool at the same time.

Gilt

Gilt has designer goods at bargain prices. Courtesy of Google Image.

Gilt has designer goods at bargain prices. Courtesy of Google Image.

As the title might imply, Gilt has loads of coupons for expensive designer clothes for incredibly cheap. It’s members only, but really – just register and three days later you’re in. “They put up a different set of stuff everyday at 11 am,” said Zach Zeman, senior and user of Gilt. “It’s all pretty high-end, but if you’re in to that kind of thing, then it’s a great place to get a good deal. I’ve only bought one thing through them so far, but it’s a $75 pair of shoes for $28.” Where else are you going to find a deal like that unless you’re in Chinatown and your purse says Prado instead of Prada? Zeman also emphasized the importance of being quick with your purchases. “The real thing is getting in right at 11 before things get snapped up.”

The founders of the company include eBay executive Alexis Maybank and Louis Vuitton and Bulgari merchandising executive Alexandra Wilkis Wilson. In 2007, the company launched its women’s clothing and accessories line. The men’s line followed shortly thereafter in 2008. Again with the cheapness – look like a million bucks without spending it.

Woot has a new deal on something fun every day.

Woot has a new deal on something fun every day.

Woot

Based in Austin, Woot prides itself in offering some quirky deals along with the normal ones you’d normally need. (What did you expect? It’s Austin.) Each day, starting at midnight, the site offers a new deal that is only available for that day. For example, feel like aSkil Isio 2-in-1 Shrub Trimmer and Grass Shear? Too late. It’s gone. Want whatever they’re offering that day? Just hit the giant yellow button proclaiming, “I want one!” and it’s yours. Spin off sites include shirt woot, kids woot, and wine woot. Basically, they’ve got you covered. No matter what woot you’re into, they’ve got it. Bookmark the site and don’t forget to visit every day for new fabulously strange deals for things you never knew you needed. (Okay, maybe not the shrub trimmer.)

Hall praises "How to Train Your Dragon"

Courtesy of Google Image.

Courtesy of Google Image.

As an SU student, I think it would suffice to say that I don’t get out much. That could have been why I was initially skeptical when my sister recommended to me the PG-rated “How to Train Your Dragon.” I should have never doubted her. As a reviewer, I could simply join the ranks of countless other movie critiques across the nation and compare HTTYD to “Avatar” or nitpick its uninspired plot, but I am of the impression that would be a bore to you and me both. Instead, I’ll be approaching this movie from what I am – a 90s-kid college student. So that we’re on the same page, allow me to lay down some context. The young, unlikely hero Hiccup lives on the Viking island of Berk. The village’s life is dominated dragon warfare. However, after accidentally capturing his own dragon, Hiccup rescinds from old traditions and attempts to convince his tribe that everything they know about dragons is wrong.

The most striking aspect of this movie was the dragons. The movie introduces several “species” of dragon, but the star of the show is Hiccup’s Night Fury, affectionately named Toothless. Where to start? For starters, I am an Animal Behavior student and found Hiccup’s willingness to watch and record behavior before making inferences pretty incredible. In addition, I am a herpetologist, which is to say that I study amphibians and reptiles. The Night Fury species had an interesting body design that was fun to look at, but the most interesting anatomical bit were the flaps on the sides of its head (reminding me of the axolotls, a type of salamander). The suspension of disbelief was so subtle in this movie, I often found myself wondering how the behaviors of the several species would be different in the presence or absence of this or that (common thoughts for my scientific discipline, but only for real things!).

Courtesy of Google Image.

Courtesy of Google Image.

If one were to suppose dragons could fly, one could also believe that their flight would allow for insanely cool 3D flying sequences. I’m not a huge fan of effects-films, but HTTYD threw in just enough of the computer magic to maintain an immersive and exciting story. The Real D 3D technology being pushed into so many theaters was subtle enough to not be gimmick-y (an event I have been awaiting for so very long). I could be biased, what with my ocular handicap, but the 3D glasses were comfortable enough to wear that I almost forgot I was wearing them as the credits rolled. To complement this great animation the characters, though characature-ish, are on screen for long enough to maintain established and believable personalities. The soundtrack is pretty good, considering we aren’t talking about a musical. Memorable songs include “Forbidden Friendship” and “Sticks & Stones,” a song by Icelandic lead singer of Sigur Rós, Jónsi.

Halfway through production of HTTYD, Chris Sanders and Dean DeBlois (the co-directors and writers of Disney’s “Lilo & Stitch”) took over as co-directors. I couldn’t imagine the movie with any other direction. If you grew up when I did, you saw and loved “Lilo & Stitch,” and for many of the same reasons, you would love HTTYD. The characters Lilo and Toothless are almost totally replaceable – even their facial structure and expressions are similar. Although DreamWorks Animation has typically been regarded as releasing films that just don’t match the Pixar standard, HTTYD makes a fierce game-breaker. It really is that good.

Austin’s Chicken Fried Radio: Not So Fowl

Become a devoted "pecker;" gobble up Austin's "Chicken Fried Radio."

Become a devoted "pecker;" gobble up Austin's "Chicken Fried Radio." Courtesy of Google Image.

For those of you who enjoy exploring the podcast universe, you should definitely check out Chicken Fried Radio. This vibrant podcast covers random topics, such as one of the podcasters experience on a cruise, to vasectomies , revolutions, the Olympics and everything in between (and this is just within two episodes). The podcast group describes itself as “Bushleague Jackasses with Microphones,” and while the hour to hour and a half program can get a bit crude, it is definitely good for ample laughs.

The Chicken Fried Radio group actually broadcasts from Austin, so many relatable culturally reference are made, however the group has reached audiences such as Sandra Barrea of the Los Angeles Daily News back in 2005 and boasts a 4.5 star count on their iTunes rating. It began back in 2005 when podcasts just hit the scene and has continued on strong since then. The Podcasters attempt to do a new show on the first and 15th of every month, so topics are always relatively current. On its website the “Chicken Fried Radio Original Recipe” section contains downloadable material from the podcast’s younger years.

Their website describes the podcast with this blurb:

“Looking for a dose of smart, weird, irreverent, fast-paced, PODCAST humor? Then get a life! No one listens to these things! CHICKEN FRIED RADIO features the continuing misadventures of a rotating cast of Austin, Texas jackasses. Tune in as they deconstruct the week’s weird news items, review websites from the Internet’s seedy back alleys, and indulge in the occasional political rant.”

In the two episodes I listened to – “Go for the Gold” and “Viva La Revolucion” – I was regaled with one of the speaker’s experiences with a “douchey” couple on a boat and a possible porn ring. One of my favorite quotes from that story was “the nice thing about douches is they only want to talk about themselves.” This conversation then turned to the Olympics, the sport of curling and an insult festival. The other episode featured an odd depiction of one of the guy’s vasectomies, which somehow ended up segueing into a deep discussion on the loss of revolutionary spirit within American society. That discussion quickly became an attempt to start an uprising with the CFR Army and Chicken Fried Radio attempted to become a recognized “subversive organization“ within the state of South Carolina. From the beginning of the podcast, it is pretty easy to tell that the speakers never stay on topic, but their odd tangents lead to hilarious rants and awesome stories, so all is forgiven.

What ver the situation the Chicken Fried Radio podcasters deliver a good story, valid political and social points or an excellent quip that will force you to think or make you bust out in laughter. They are devoted to their “peckers” (listeners) and will have you feeling like you are sitting around listening to your friends talk. Overall, this podcast is something that is definitely worth giving a listening to.

MGMT releases sophomore album

MGMT's second album "Congratulations" will be available April 13.

MGMT's second album "Congratulations" will be available April 13. Courtesy of Google Image.

On April 13, MGMT will officially release its long awaited sophomore album entitled “Congratulations,” which is described by its band members as containing “no singles.” After hearing the album, which was made available on the band’s website in free streaming format, I would have to say that they certainly didn’t lie.

The nine-song album as a whole is artistically a tour de force and a definitive evolution for the band, but many listeners will be disappointed. There is nothing on the album that in any way is like its predecessor “Oracular Spectacular,” which was noted for its charming psychedelic pop tunes such as “Time to Pretend,” “Electric Feel,” and “Kids.” The album sounds like a haphazard assemblage of early 60s sounds, dream rock, psychedelic opera, rhapsodic rock and folk. There is no other way to describe the album though without enumerating and musically analyze each song, which I will try to do.

The first song is “It’s Working” which is the closest thing they have to a pop song. The opening of the piece is a blend of some of the prototypical jauntiness of the early 1960s music, as seen in bands like Manfred Mann and the Loving Spoonful, and the Beatles post-1967. The structure of the piece, which is similar to rondo form, is fairly innovative for a “pop” piece and has hardly any parallels, with the possible exception of “Every Breath You Take” by the Police.

Their second song, “Song For Dan Treacy,” is an odd homage to an obscure member of an even more obscure band called The Television Personalities. The song has the chromaticism and organ sounds of The Doors circa their “Soft Parade” period. The piece is fairly underwhelming though and one of the worst on the album. It does help define the lack of cohesion and the rhapsodic facets that define the later parts of the album.

This is followed by a relatively upbeat “pop” song, called “Someone’s Missing,” that starts out like something from The Shins’ first album “Oh Inverted World.” It progresses into an echo-chambered buffet of 1970s sounds that give us the feeling that the piece could be sung on the Midnight Special.

“Flash Delirium,” the album’s first released single, as it’s grudgingly called, is possibly the oddest and least charming piece. It sounds like a blend of a less accessible version of the Doors and a version of Queen without the flamboyance and pomp. The cadence changes of the end are the most rewarding part of the piece but it fails as a rhapsody and as a single.

The song is a distant relative of the next song on the album, “I Found a Whistle,” which begins with the all too familiar I-vi-IV-iv chord progression in a warbling electronic form that brings us back to the sound of “Kids” or something off their prior album. The piece works though with its familiar song structure and catchy chorus and is a highlight of the album.

“Siberian Breaks” starts with an acoustic prelude that is blend of Bowie’s “Space Oddity,” Royksopp, and easy listening music with its melancholic Imaj7-IVmaj7 chord progression. The piece attempts to be folk trance but the latter part of it verges on an echoed amalgam of the band Peter, Paul, and Mary and the Incredible String Band.

Their most critically praised song is another homage piece called “Brian Eno.” A notable feature of it is that it fails to establish any modality or tonic until the ending section but this is what makes the piece a success. With all of the prior subtlety that is a staple of the album, they start with a sound like Iron Butterfly and end in a romp that is as psychedelic pop and circus music in its purest blend, without any calliopes.

“Lady Dada’s Nightmare,” a halfway homage to the Lady Gaga as VanWyngarden states, is the only instrumental piece of the album. Nothing is more 1980s trance than this song – it feels like something out of the film “Xanadu” but without any friendly cadences or consistent key signature. If you gave the “Saucerful of Secrets” version of Pink Floyd some more acid, you would get the kind of sound featured in this song.

Their last song on their eponymous album, “Congratulations,” is as close to a psychedelic folk piece as one can get. There are some similarities to the sounds of Donovan and other late 1960s rockers but the piece itself retains a uniqueness that is a hallmark of the MGMT sound. As a conclusion to the album it’s rather weak but it is catchy enough to keep the album in our minds, ready for the future listening experience it deserves.

It’s safe to say that the band will lose many fans with this next step in their artistic growth, but if the work is as good as I think it is then it will expand the boundaries of contemporary rock and pop and bring those deserters back. Remember when the Beatles released Sgt. Pepper’s and ceased touring, many fans thought they had lost them, but their evolution proved to be the best thing for them musically. If you have to know the rating, I’d say “Congratulations” deserves a B+, but the best thing I can say is go out and hear it for yourself.

High praise for “Urinetown”

Bobby Strong (Evan Faram) leads the rebellion. Photo by Eric Gonzales.

Bobby Strong (Evan Faram) leads the rebellion. Photo by Eric Gonzales.

Sure, it’s a strange title. But it’s also one of the funniest musical satire’s to cross Southwestern’s stage in years. If you have an appreciation for musical theater and off-beat humor, then Urinetown will make you laugh till you have to… well, you’ll laugh a lot. It’s an original and unexpected play from the corrupt cops enforcement on the ban of public urination to the underground sewer hideout of the rebellion.

The premise of the play is rather silly and absurd; the town has been plagued by a never ending drought and private bathrooms have been outlawed. All citizens must pay outrageous fees for public toilets run by a “large monopolizing company” that is utterly ruthless. If you cannot pay, you are taken to Urinetown, and you never come back. Bobby Strong takes over one of these Public Amenities and leads the town in rebellion, but the catch is that he is in love with the daughter of the president of the company!

Matthew Harper as Officer Lockstock (center) with the cast of Urinetown. Photo by Eric Gonzales.

Matthew Harper as Officer Lockstock (center) with the cast of Urinetown. Photo by Eric Gonzales.

The play is a satire of musical theater and was written by Mark Holliman and Greg Kotis. The songs are very enthusiastically choreographed and sang, leading to a very upbeat feeling for the audience. Directed by Rick Roemer, Urinetown pokes fun at Brechtian theater and the ridiculous nature of exposition in musicals. But despite the light-heartedness of the show, a very serious message is conveyed about over-consumption of the earth’s natural resources and the unsustainability of our way of life. Some of the absurdity is almost too much, but it is always counterbalanced with a touch of realism from the love shared by Bobby Strong and Hope Cladwell.

The incredible ensemble is not to be overlooked.

Urinetown enlightens and delights theater-goers. Photo by Eric Gonzales.

Urinetown enlightens and delights theater-goers. Photo by Eric Gonzales.

There are no weak links in the cast. Every person holds their own and contributes to the show making it irresistibly funny and incredible. If you haven’t seen Urinetown yet then you should make time for it right now. Tickets are still available for Friday, Saturday and Sunday’s performance, so make haste! No one should miss this dazzling rendition of Broadway’s Urinetown.

South by Southwest Must-See Movie List for 2010

Courtesy of Google Image.For those of you interested in music or film South by Southwest is the perfect opportunity to experience artists from all around the world presenting their works.

Here is the Megaphone’s must-see list for film:

Friday March, 12: the Alamo Lamar 1 theater there is a screening of Leaves of Grass, which is the much anticipated film starring Edward Norton who plays an intellectual college professor who moves back to his hometown with his pot-dealing twin brother. Also on Friday is the Indie film Cherry which is about a timid student who enrolls at an Ivy League college in their engineering program.

Saturday March, 13: Saturday features great shorts such as Televisnu, which is an Indian film about a woman who works in a call center. Some other quirkier shorts are features such as Star Wars: Retold which is a retelling of the Star Wars mythos through the eyes of a young girl who is unaware of the premise of the story.

Sunday March, 14: Google Baby is a haunting Gattaca-like sci-fi story about artificial baby production as guided through an online service. The Myth of the American Sleepover also looks like a must-see teenage angst movie in the style of John Hughes.

Monday March, 15: Honorarium is like a Dead Poets Society at the college level. The film is pertinent to anybody in college who is open-minded and tries to tolerate people of different viewpoints. Some Days Are Better Than Others is a hard-to-define film that is a highly character-driven with a backdrop of existential confusion and other philosophically related issues such as communication and how one fulfills their desires.

Tuesday March, 16: Anybody who is plugged into the developments must see the documentary Beijing Taxi which focuses on the changes occurring in the Chinese economy and how three Beijing taxi drivers are living their lives in response to these societal progressions. Another excellent documentary feature is American Grindhouse,which shows the nitty-gritty world and history of the American Explotiation film. This specifically for lovers of the genre.

Wednesday March, 17: On the Other Side of Life is an emotionally gripping story about the lives of two young men who have to survive in a rough area in Africa filled with gangsterism and violence. The Work of Alan Govenar: Part 2 offers a fascinating documentarian look into the world of circuses.

Thursday March, 18: The film 6 is a must-see for any football fan. The film looks like similar to the story structure of Friday Night Lights as the film looks into the lives of individuals on a 6-man football team in a Texan town.

Friday March, 19: Friday is a great day to catch up on the films that you missed during their premieres as most of the films will be rerun during this time as well as on Saturday. Since there are so many features being run it is hard to see all the great work during one visit to the festival, but the repeat days offer you a chance to get caught up on what you missed.

To read more about the locations of the film venues and also what music shows will be taking place, visit South-by-Southwest’s website at http://www.sxsw.com.

Artist of the Week: Miike Snow

Miike Snow's self-titled album from 2009. Courtesy of Google Image.

Miike Snow's self-titled album from 2009. Courtesy of Google Image.

John A. Logan once said, “Music’s the medicine of the mind.” When I heard this quote, I instantly thought about Miike Snow, the Music Artist of the Week.

Miike Snow hails from Stockholm, Sweden and was formed back in 2007. Two of the members of Miike Snow enjoyed success as producers and songwriters for several well-known artists, including Madonna, Kylie Minogue and Britney Spears.

The band has released one album so far, also called Miike Snow, which was released on September 22, 2009 and consists of 11 songs. This album is great to listen too, combining great drums, rhythmic piano playing and synthesizers to create some really catchy sounding music.

The majority of the songs on the album really stand out, but the song that stands above the rest is “Animal,” the opening song of the CD. “Animal” is an extremely enjoyable song with an upbeat hook. Its lyrics are great, telling people to break free from social conventions and ignore materialistic values. “There is a hole and I tried to fill it up with money/ But it gets bigger till your horse is always running/ In your eyes I see the yes of somebody/ That could be strong.” “Animal” is a song that demands you to listen to it continually.

Interestingly, a very strong aspect of Miike Snow’s music is the ability to sing about grief and sadness but make it sound happy and joyful. For example, in the song “Black and Blue,” Mike Snow sings about
a failed relation but manages to maintain that uplifting, funky sound.

Miike Snow’s album strikes a chord that resonates throughout the entire body, making it impossible to hold still.

Photo Retouching is a Fake Reality

Lady Beydonna.  Courtesy of Caitlin McCown.

Lady Beydonna. Courtesy of Caitlin McCown.

“Sometimes when you work in advertising you’ll get a product that’s really garbage and you have to make it seem fantastic, something that is essential to the continued quality of life.” – Augusten Burroughs

Blame it on the media, if you will, but the idea of perfection is constantly being plastered in front of us and shoved down our throats. The models are getting skinnier, the quality of products is getting worse, and the pursuit for the ideal is getting tougher. As celebrities become more attractive, the average person’s self-esteem plummets in an inverse effect. And all of this has become a great deal easier thanks to technological advances including photo-altering.

Recently, photo-altering has become a controversy with the gained popularity and accessibility of photo-editing programs such as Adobe Photoshop. Not only are big advertising companies and mass media able to change and distort reality, but so can you in your very own home! As the schism between what is real and what is not blurs, people have a harder time distinguishing the difference and the unfamiliarity becomes a discomfort.

The more righteous people in the world are taking strides in hopes of changing this. As an example, the company Dove launched a True Beauty campaign in which they try to advertise beauty in a more conventional way:

“We want to help free ourselves and the next generation from beauty stereotypes” as we “create thought-provoking ads, confidence-building programs and messages that embrace all definitions of beauty.”
A noble cause indeed, but to be quite honest a futile one. Although some people may commend the company for taking such actions, the influence of overall media is too great. In all honesty, people do not want to see other average people as an ideal or as something for which they strive. It only makes sense for advertisers to create a facade that is suited for their needs. It is just the game that they have to play in order to get to the public into buying into what they are trying to sell. Although most do not want to admit it, people also have the innate instinct to always want more and what is better than themselves. Though many may contest it, there is a bit of superficiality in all of us. Thus, it only makes sense that reality should be tweaked a little here and there.

Now, I am not condoning photo-altering that takes things to another extreme. It is not fair for the impressionable young girls to look at models who have been photo-altered until they are unnaturally stick-skinny. I am not agreeing with those who create and alter photographs from nothing and try to pawn it off it as real (especially in the cases of fraudulent journalism). Like everything else, with this new-found power, there needs to be a sense of responsibility from both parties.

The public needs to realize that the people who partake in such an activity are just doing their job. They are essentially taking an idea and representing it with an image that the audience can relate to in order reach a certain goal. The public should not succumb completely to such techniques of persuasion like a horde of excessively-impressionable zombies. They themselves should be able to judge for themselves what is attainable and what is not. They should realize that a celebrity sporting the newest fashion item is airbrushed or that a McDonald’s menu item will not appear the same as its picture counterpart.
In a way, photo-altering is not a deceptive form of influence, but rather just a fact of our consumerism. In order to keep everything in a working cycle, someone needs to take something ordinary and make it seem extraordinary.

Photo-altering should not be seen as a vice but rather a helpful resource in maintaining our fascination with the mundane, which is at times slightly transformed for our own benefit.

Lookbook.nu: Fashion Sophistication

Courtesy of Google Images.

Courtesy of Google Images.

Lookbook is a little fashionista’s best kept secret. It is a website dedicated to the ins and outs of fashion with a mixture of brand names and treasures from thrift stores. It is a medley of indie-hipsters who have mastered the art form of taking self-portraits at the most flattering of angles and lighting.

The collections showcase many pieces that evoke a feel of Urban Outfitters, American Apparel, H&M and local thrift shops. This is where all the beautiful people collaborate and showcase their innate ability to dress well.

According to the Lookbook website, its goal is to form a community for those who appreciate art, culture and fashion that can be found in everyday people and their creativity. They celebrate people who express themselves through their clothing choices and the positive influence that street fashion can have on an individual.
“To bring together diverse, aesthetically talented and open-minded people around the world and showcase the best in international street fashion.”

And in this somewhat competitive community, people strive to make a reputation for themselves. In order to make themselves known, the fashion-devotees have to create “looks” that will attract a following. Other users can “hype,” or like, the look and the poster can earn “karma” or a reward for their stylish contributions. Thus, a Lookbook user has to prove himself or herself to the rest of the fashion community in order to gain notoriety.

Once the person posts a look, he or she can then match their clothes with a color scheme and then pinpoint from where they got their piece. The users share their closets with others in hopes of inspiring them to see the beauty in the ordinary and to be able to put together outfits that do not necessarily have to come from Abercrombie & Fitch or include the abhorrence of Uggs. Unlike mainstream fashion, these Lookbookers are not afraid to experiment with navy blazers, old-school oxfords, and grandmother-inspired scarves.

The posters usually consist of very attractive and young women and men with an artistic background (and messy bangs and beards). They photograph themselves in mundane or Vogue-esque situations from grabbing something out of their bags to just pouting at the camera. With this technique, they are trying to say something along the lines of “Hey, look at me. I can dress like a sophisticated model on a daily basis without even trying!” It is obvious that they take the pictures very seriously because of their attention to detail from soft lighting to the exact placement of hands relative to their legs.

One can browse through the site and come across a wide range of people from all over the world. This surge of sophistication comes from everywhere including Hong Kong, France, and Montreal, showing different styles and tastes on an international basis. The website offers an opportunity to view other people’s perspectives and styles fostered in a different environment. It also kind of makes America look like it is in dire need of a makeover.

After going through a few pictures and hungrily staring at the nice pair of heels a French vixen is sporting, you might want to join. But Lookbook is compromised of the elite of the fashion world, and the club is an exclusive one – so that means it is invite-only. But if you are desperate to start proving you have enough hutzpah to make it in the fashion world, you can apply to become a member.

And please remember every time you slip on a pair of Crocs, a kitten dies.

Animal Liberation Orchestra is the Artist of the Week

The band, Animal Liberation Orchestra.  Courtesy of Google Images.

The band, Animal Liberation Orchestra. Courtesy of Google Images.

Sergei Rachmaninov once said, “Music is enough for a lifetime, but a lifetime is not enough for music.” No words better describe the music of Animal Liberation Orchestra, the Music Artist of the Week.

Animal Liberation Orchestra, also known as ALO, is from California and has released two albums. “Fly Between Falls” was released in 2004 and contains 10 songs, and their second CD, “Roses & Clover” was released in 2007 and also contains 10 songs.

Both these albums are lot of fun to listen to, containing great songs that you will want to listen to repeatedly. The music of ALO is made up of many different genres; they blend together rock, jazz and blues to create a fun music experience. They have collaborated with good friend Jack Johnson, who sings on one of my favorite songs, “Girl, I Wanna Lay You Down.” This song, which is found on “Fly Between Falls,” is a cheerful sounding love song that best describes how to get intimate with your significant other. “Cook you up some dinner, a little pasta/ Listen to some music, a little Rasta”. This is a song that you will want to play over and over again.

A song that really stands out to me is “Try,” which is located on the CD “Roses & Clover.” This song is great to listen to you when you are feeling overwhelmed or down in the dumps. With its happy rhythm, great melody and beautiful lyrics, “Try” will brighten your day and make you ready for any challenges ahead. “We got to try just a little bit harder/ And let it shine just a little bit brighter/ We got to walk just a little bit taller.”

If you are looking for music to make you reminiscence about summer, then Animal Liberation Orchestra is the perfect band for you. Their music will stay with you for a lifetime.

Change in store for musical landmark

The entrance to the Cactus Cafe.

The entrance to the Cactus Cafe.

The Cactus Café, a music venue established in the University of Texas student union in 1979, barely seats 150 people. The stage, backed by a quaint, red velvet curtain, is somewhat cramped (much like the rest of the space), but it is here that much of Austin’s musical heritage from the last 30 years has been established. However, the Cactus Café may be going in a “new direction” said the school’s Student Government President Liam O’Rourke.

Initially, the famous listening room was going to be nixed alongside the informal classes program in an effort to cut costs by the university. However, in recent developments since the initial press release, UT administrators and student body officials have tried to distance themselves from the idea that the Café would be closed permanently.  O’Rourke said, “We’re changing the Cactus Café’s management. We’re opening it up for a more diverse set of acts that are more relevant to students, but that doesn’t exclude acts that perform there today.”

Students have been less upset about the closure than alumni and other members of the Austin community. Juan Gonzalez, vice president of student affairs explained, “We examined it very closely, and while the students understand the loss, they also understand there are higher priorities, and to direct services to students, I think, is the higher calling.”

O’Rourke said that he has received a total of nine negative e-mail responses from students since a campuswide was sent out announcing the plan to close the Café, but business students have emailed him saying that managing the Cactus Café would be an excellent class project, which university President William Powers, Jr. proposed in a town hall meeting several weeks ago.

Andrew Nash, president of the Student Events Center (SEC) said, “We’d be creating a new committee within the next few weeks or month that would be tasked with promoting the space and bringing student organizations to utilize the space.”

The Cactus Café has won the Austin Chronicle’s Austin Music Awards title ‘Best Acoustic Venue’ for 8 years in a row (the only venue with this claim to fame since the category was established in 2001-02), and has been the launching point for the careers of many notable Texas musicians, including Shawn Colvin, Lyle Lovett and Robert Earl Keen. However, despite Nash’s assurances that they’re “making sure none of the history would be lost,” people are concerned that all of this could change.

Reid Nelson, a leader of the Save the Cactus Café movement said, “If keeping the Cactus Café open and turning it into a hip-hop room is

Cactus t-shirts.

Cactus t-shirts.

what they’re talking about, that’s not keeping the Cactus open.”

Dale Rempert, treasurer of the Austin Friends of Traditional Music, believes that the music played at the Cactus is largely in part because of the contacts and experience of manager Griff Luneberg, and the idea of replacing him with students who would run the venue is ridiculous. “It won’t be the Cactus,” Rampert said.

The Cactus Café was intended to be self sufficient, but in recent years it has had to depend more and more on the $66,000 subsidy it receives from the university. This could be for many reasons: Firstly, there is no way for the Cactus to accept donations. Secondly, it is a cash only venue, which is fine for older, moneyed patrons, but more difficult for college students who are short on cash but would be willing to pay with a card. Furthermore, because UT is hesitant to promote a venue that sells alcohol to students, events at the Cactus Café are not permitted to be promoted on campus.

Moral of the story: “The cafe will continue to exist,” said Gonzalez, “But it’s going to be different because it’ll have student oversight. There’s an end to the prior chapter of how it existed and the beginning of a new chapter more defined by current students and students’ wishes.”

Senior Class Celebrates 100 days until Graduation

100 days by Caitlin McCownThursday, Jan. 28, Southwestern’s Senior Giving Council invited SU seniors to the Landmark Tavern to celebrate their last hundred days as Pirates.

Southwestern seniors were invited to come to the new bar for happy hour and were even treated to a free drink. Janet Del Real, a member of the Senior Giving Council, said that this is one in a long line of events that have been used to encourage SU seniors to donate to their soon-to-be alma mater.

“100 Days to Graduation was the Senior Giving Council’s idea to kickoff the countdown to graduation and start celebrating our last semester at Southwestern. The Senior Giving Council, itself has been hosting Happy Hours, Tower Days and Senior Dinner for several years and exists to encourage SU Seniors to donate and give back,” Del Real said.

While there are only about three months left for those attending, many were optimistic about that time.

“I want to do everything that I haven’t done. Try Elgin sausage, go to Mighty Fine – mainly food related things,” senior Alex Caple said. “I also want to tour the court house.”

In addition to the free drinks, the event featured snack foods and a local pianist who played songs that ranged from “While My Guitar Gently Weeps” to “Poker Face.”

“The event itself went great! We had about 60 seniors attend, a great number for our first event. From what I heard from those that did attend, people enjoyed the time they got to spend with their fellow classmates,” Del Real said.

The goal of the Senior Gift Council is encourage students to donate to a scholarship fund that will benefit future Southwestern students.100 days by Caitlin

“Hosting a Happy Hours is our way to encourage Southwestern seniors to give back to SU. We hope that at some point before graduation all seniors will open their wallets and contribute $20.10 (our graduation year) to a scholarship for a first-year student. Donations can be made “in honor of” or “in memory of” someone who the senior wishes to thank or acknowledge. Many students take the opportunity to thank a professor who has impacted them or their parents and all donations are printed in the commencement program,” Del Real said.

While this is the first, it won’t be the last opportunity that SU seniors have to donate to the scholarship fund.

“Our next senior event is Tower Days, Feb. 9 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. Seniors who have donated a minimum of $5 get to sign the Cullen Tower and leave their mark on Southwestern,” Del Real said.