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    Tuesday
    Dec212010

    Discover Music Project: Episode 8

    DMP returns for more musical variety! The NWR Newscast's own Nathan Mustafa is back to hear Jonny's pick for this episode: Umphrey's McGee. And as always, here's your playlist:

    Bright Lights, Big City (The Bottom Half) - 3:44
    Spires (Mantis) - 7:44
    Hajimemashite (Live at the Murat) - 5:10
    Miss Tinkle's Overture (Live, Chicago 9/4/2010) - 8:31
    Cemetary Walk (Mantis) - 7:33
    Cemetary Walk II (Mantis) - 2:24
    Regulate (UM Live 7/25/2008) - 4:25

    TOTAL - 43:57

    Encore: Only A Northern Song (Yonder Mountain String Band, Live at ACL Festival) - 7:24

    As always, you can contact us via email (crosstawk@gmail.com), Twitter (@crosstawk) or via the comments section of the website.

    See you tomorrow for a new Crosstawk series and then again on Friday for a new Box Office Poison!

    Direct Download

    Friday
    Dec172010

    Rough Draught: Episode 6

    Jon and Karl return to drink and review more brews in this special holiday episode! Requiring yet another third chair, our good buddy Rob stepped in to assist in drinking:

    Samuel Adams White Ale (5.4% ABV)

    Samuel Adams Holiday Porter (5.8% ABV)

    Samuel Adams Old Fezziwig Ale (5.9% ABV)

    Samuel Adams Winter Lager (5.8% ABV)

    Samuel Adams Chocolate Bock (5.5% ABV)

    Rogue Santa's Private Reserve Ale (6% ABV)

    St. Bernardus Christmas Ale (10% ABV)

    Have you got an idea for a drink we should try? Send it on over to crosstawk@gmail.com, hit us up on Twitter (@crosstawk) or throw down in the comments section on the website.

    Thanks for listening, guys, and come back on Tuesday for a new Discover Music Project, Wednesday for a BRAND NEW Crosstawk series and then again on Friday for the latest episode of Box Office Poison.

    Direct Download

    Friday
    Dec172010

    Film Review: Tron Legacy

    Before I get to Legacy, I should start by saying that I'm not a fan of the 1982 Tron. I find it kind of dull, and while the effects are pretty cool for its time, it never really clicked for me in the way it did for its cult fanbase. For those of you who don't know, the original film told the tale of Kevin Flynn (Jeff Bridges), an ex-employee of ENCOM Software who, after breaking into their laser testing facility, is digitized by said lasers and transported into the world of the computer, where programs are people and the "user" is revered by many (but not all).

    Once there, Flynn finds that Master Control Program, the security software that ENCOM employs, is enslaving most of the populace and wants to diminish the importance of the user. Luckily, there are those who would stand against him, namely Tron, an alternate security program meant to keep an eye on Master Control Program. Together with Flynn, he takes MCP down, saves the day and our protagonist is sent back to his own world.

    Legacy opens in 1989, with a decidedly creepy-looking CG Kevin Flynn (made to look like a young Bridges) talking to his son Sam about the wonders of "the grid," the aforementioned digital world where Flynn's going through all sorts of breakthroughs. As the CEO of ENCOM, he believes that he'll be able to bring these innovations back to mankind and create a better world. Unfortunately for Sam, his father heads off to "work" after this talk, and is never seen again.

    In the present, Sam (as played by Garrett Hedlund) is the majority shareholder at ENCOM, but refuses to concern himself with the day-to-day, leaving seedy and greedy businessmen to continually release shoddy products and tarnish the image that his father worked so hard to build up. He reconciles this with himself by "pranking" the company once a year (this year, he leaks free versions of the high-priced ENCOM OS 12).

    After a particularly daring escape from the aforementioned sabotage, Sam finds Alan Bradley (Bruce Boxleitner) waiting for him at home. Alan was a good friend of Flynn's, and has apparently been something of a surrogate father to Sam after his father's disappearance. Speaking of, Alan received a page (yes, a PAGE) from the number at Flynn's, the arcade from the first Tron movie. The number's been dead for years, but somehow, this page was sent out, and Alan thinks Sam ought to investigate.

    Though he's initially reluctant, Sam eventually makes his way to Flynn's, and after uncovering the secret passageway located underneath the Tron light-cycle arcade game, he finds his father's secret lab. He begins tooling around the ancient PC, and unbeknownst to him, activates the digitizing laser, sending himself to the "grid" that his father always spoke about.

    After being mistaken for a program by roving sentries, Sam experiences the same gladiator-style games that Flynn went through back in '82. Proving himself a worthy opponent, he's brought before what appears to be his father. It isn't, though - it's Clu (who appeared in the first movie and actually died - we have to assume this is ANOTHER Clu), the program that Flynn created who also shares his likeness (or, rather, the likeness of his 1982 self). Clu's very happy to see Sam, but it seems he's got a nefarious endgame in mind, because he sends the young Flynn back into the gladiator games and would certainly have killed him were it not for the intervention of Quorra (Olivia Wilde), a program hiding out with the ACTUAL Flynn "off the grid."

    Here's where we get a bunch of exposition. Flynn and Tron wanted to make the grid a peaceful utopia and Flynn created a new Clu with this exact goal in mind. Unfortunately, Clu became a bit of a zealot and took this ethos to an extreme. When an indigenous species is found in the grid (called isometric beings, or isos for short), Clu betrays Flynn and Tron, and wipes out the isos in mass genocide for being what he considers "impure." Clu shut off the portal connecting the grid to the outside world, leaving Flynn trapped for the last 20 years.

    It turns out that Clu actually sent that page to Alan - the portal could only be opened from the other side, and now that it's operational again, Clu can un-digitize himself and enter the real world - he only needs Flynn's disc (the device onto which a program or user's memories are imprinted). Sam decides he's going to get to the portal first, and he's going to bring his father with him. Thus, he, Flynn and Quorra march on their quest.

    Legacy seems to carry itself as an epic, and while the Daft Punk score and amazing visuals would certainly  back that claim up, the story itself leaves a lot to be desired. The concept of an indigenous digital species just doesn't make much sense. Furthermore, the ending is telegraphed miles away, and at a certain point, you're just sort of waiting for it to happen. The twist concerning what really happened to Tron is fumbled miserably with a really unsatisfying climax.

    And then there's the acting. Hoo boy. Bridges and Wilde are pretty decent for the most part, with the latter being particularly endearing, but that's pretty much where the good acting ends. Hedlund does fine with the action bits, but anything close to emotional comes off as forced - it's like he's riffing off of Channing Tatum.

    But really, Michael Sheen takes the cake here as Castor, the grid night club owner who seems to be a cross between David Bowie and Willy Wonka and makes both seem about as eccentric as a plank of wood. There's over the top and then there's over the top and then there's Castor. It's as if Joseph Kosinski's direction was simply, "Act like a jackass and shout your lines like a madman. Oh, also, shoot laser bullets out of your glass cane like Al Pacino in Scarface - we'll make it look good in post." Yeesh.

    I feel like I should mention the few redeeming things about Legacy. As I mentioned above, it's absolutely stunning. I saw a 3D screening and felt fully immersed in the slick, neon-glow world of the grid. Real-world scenes (with the exception of the opener) are all in 2D, and while they pale in comparison to their grid counterparts, they look fine enough.

    Similarly, the Daft Punk soundtrack is magnificent. They owe a lot to Hans Zimmer, borrowing a good bit from his work on The Dark Knight and Inception, but mixing his and their style together literally makes beautiful music. The score is never anything but epic and engrossing. Honestly, it kind of overshadows the film.

    It's unfortunate - I want to like Legacy in the same way that I want to like the 1982 original, but I just don't. Sure, there's plenty of spectacle here, but behind all of that style, there just isn't enough substance.

    Wednesday
    Dec152010

    Crosstawk Sports: Episode 3

    After some technical difficulties, the crew's back for more of the latest and greatest in the world on the field. Ben wasn't able to record in time, so our good buddy Rob jumped on the mic to assist Spencer and Jesse in bringing it home. With plenty to talk about, from Urban Meyer's resignation to some great NFL talk, this is an extra meaty show, and I know you'll enjoy it.

    Speaking of technical difficulties, however, there is some bad news. The guys are all in their respective home towns for the holidays, and had to record off of the Skype call at the last minute, producing some pretty uneven sound quality. We apologize for any issues, and promise that Episode 4 is going to sound 100% better.

    As always, if you've got any questions or comments Crosstawk Sports, you can send them on over to crosstawk@gmail.com, hit us up on Twitter (@crosstawk) or throw down in the comments section on the website.

    Thanks for stopping by, guys, and see you on Friday for Rough Draught!

    Direct Download

    Friday
    Dec102010

    Hardcore Nerdography: Episode 2

    Mike, Amanda and Dante return for yet another action-packed episode of Hardcore Nerdography! This time, the crew's talking everything from NASA finding new life to Kevin Smith's Batman comics to Dante's new "love life." It's a pile of fun, so you definitely don't want to miss it!

    Have something you want the folks at Hardcore to discuss? Send your thoughts on over to crosstawk@gmail.com. You can also get in touch with Crosstawk as a whole via Twitter (@crosstawk) and, of course, there's always the comments section on the website.

    With all of that said, come back next week for Crosstawk Sports on Tuesday and a brand new Rough Draught on Friday!

    Direct Download

    Thursday
    Dec092010

    Crosstawk Presents: A Look Back on Season 1 of The Walking Dead

    The first season of The Walking Dead on AMC just wrapped up this past Sunday, and Karl and Gus are ready to talk about it! Having been anticipating the show for some time, they had differing thoughts on whether or not it lived up to the hype, and they've got more than a few opinions on how it should develop down the line.

    If you've got anything to say about The Walking Dead, send 'em on over, either via email (crosstawk@gmail.com), Twitter (@crosstawk) or in the comments section on the website.

    With that said, see you on Friday for a new Hardcore Nerdography!

    Direct Download

    Tuesday
    Dec072010

    Discover Music Project: Episode 7

    DMP returns with yet look at music you might not be familiar with. Joining Jonny this time is the NWR Newscast's own Nathan Mustafa, and he's brought along his collection of Death Metal. For this episode, the show's going to eschew focusing in on one specific artist in favor of looking at a genre as a whole.

    And here's the set list for your convenience:

    Gothenburg/Black Metal Fusion:
    Dissection -- Starless Aeon (3:59)

    Traditional Death Metal:
    Death -- Overactive Imagination (3:30)

    Melodic Death Metal:
    Dark Tranquility -- Lost to Apathy (4:39)

    Doom Metal:
    Swallow the Sun -- Swallow (5:24)

    Black Metal:
    Dissection -- Retribution   (4:50)

    Folk Metal:
    Ensiferum -- Treacherous Gods (5:10)

    Technical Death Metal:
    Spawn of Possession [self-titled track] (3:58)

    Progressive Death Metal:
    Cynic -- Evolutionary Sleeper (3:36)

    Encore

    New Wave of British Heavy Metal:
    Iron Maiden -- Powerslave  (6:48)

    As always, you can contact us via email (crosstawk@gmail.com), Twitter (@crosstawk) or via the comments section of the website.

    See you on Friday for a new Hardcore Nerdography!

    Direct Download

    Thursday
    Dec022010

    Crosstawk Comics: Episode 4

    Welcome back to Crosstawk Comics! This episode, Karl and Gus return to finish up their discussion on The Life and Times of Jean Grey. Listen in as they talk about impractical Avengers uniforms, mysterious coccoons, time babies and even a clone or two!

    Can't get enough? Well, you're in luck, because Crosstawk Comics is going to DOUBLE-PUBLISH in December. Since we've got five Fridays this month, we'll be back again on December 31st to bring you the very best of comics in 2010!

    As always, you can contact us via email (crosstawk@gmail.com), Twitter (@crosstawk) or by commenting on the article on the site.

    Direct Download

    Tuesday
    Nov302010

    Rough Draught: Episode 5

    It's true that we had some bad news, but we'd never leave you high and dry, so instead of jibber-jabber on the Great American Pastimes, we'll be talking nonsense about some serious brews via the magic of Rough Draught!

    On this episode, oddly enough, our good buddy Jesse Laier (from Crosstawk Sports) joins us to gab about:

    Rogue's Morimoto Soba Ale (4.8% ABV):

    Werewolf (8.2% ABV):

    Dogfish Head Pangaea (7% ABV):

    Saison Dupont (6.5% ABV):

    As always, you can contact us via email (crosstawk@gmail.com), Twitter (@crosstawk) or by commenting on the article on the site.

    Having said that, see you on Friday for a brand new Crosstawk Comics!

    Direct Download

    Editor's Note: Photo credit to Doug.

    Tuesday
    Nov302010

    The Bad News

    Hey, guys, just a couple things I want to address.

    First off, there will be no Crosstawk Sports this week. The crew recorded an episode, but due to an unfortunate crash, it was lost. It's too bad, because I know the guys worked hard on it, but there's really nothing that could be done. CS will return in two weeks for the December 14th show. As usual, next Tuesday will see the debut of another episode of Discover Music Project.

    Speaking of DMP, that brings me to my next point. You may have noticed that Episode 5 (Ben Folds) is not currently available for download. This is a result of a mistake on the part of our hosting service, Libsyn.com. I'm working with them to get this matter resolved as soon as possible, and with some luck, you should be able to download it again soon.

    It sucks to have to deliver the bad news, but it is what it is. Be sure to come back on Friday for a new episode of Crosstawk Comics. It's already edited and ready to go, so barring a hurricane/snowstorm/Cthulhu, it'll be up and available at the usual time.

    Thanks, folks.