Thursday, February 9, 2017

A Review of Jay-Z's In My Lifetime, Vol. 1

Fresh off the heels of what most people consider a classic hip-hop album, in 1997 Jay-Z returned with In My Lifetime Vol. 1, a jagged effort, with an awkward schism between commercial and underground records that seriously tarnishes his sophomore album. It seems as though The Hitmen, Diddy’s production company, who produced the majority of the album, simply did not understand Jay-Z as an artist, that they had not heard his debut and did not understand what tracks suited his lyrical content and style. It is also clear that Jay-Z, as Executive Producer, is still a bit unclear about himself as an artist, as this album, somewhat in the vein of The Notorious B.I.G.’s two-disc opus Life After Death, tries to be everything to everyone. And while that album was largely a triumph, Jay-Z’s own doesn’t work nearly as well.

The first two tracks provide ample evidence of Jay-Z’s own competing artistic impulses. A Million and 1 Questions is a beautifully intricate and evocative, yet firmly underground, introductory track. The beat by the excellent DJ Premier changes from a lighter beat with a sample of Aaliyah’s One in a Million, coupled with immodestly introspective lyrics-during which he wonders aloud, among other things, how he measures up to deceased friend The Notorious B.I.G., to an even grimier beat with attendant threats aimed at unnamed foes. This is followed by The City of Mine, which is a cute but forced interpolation of Glenn Frey’s You Belong to the City, where he concludes that he is in fact heir to B.I.G.’s legacy. Both tracks address largely the same topic, but whereas the production of the first is perfectly suited to Jay-Z’s lyrical density, the second would have benefited greatly from fewer syllables per verse.


This critical oversight-of not simplifying his verses to match the production is understandable, particular as this is just Jay-Z’s second album in a little over a year. Less forgivable is that the album is rife with mediocre commercial tracks and marred by throwaway verses from guest stars. The aforementioned The City is Mine is a showy song with a syrupy hook that is odds with Jay-Z’s Reasonable Doubt or his In My Lifetime Vol. 1 paranoia. I Know What Girls Like is one of the absolute worst recordings in Jay-Z’s entire catalog, with unspectacular verses over a thoroughly unlikeable beat. Sunshine, a duet with Foxy Brown is ostensibly weaker than the previous album’s Aint No… because The Hitmen’s production overpower both sets of vocals, and the hook saps any sense of seriousness from the song.


It goes without saying that none of these tracks match the down-to-earth wit of a Juicy, the relentless charisma of a Big Poppa or the flat-out catchiness of a Hypnotize. Jay’s strength lies in subtle yet vehemently cerebral verse replete with insights about inner-city New York. Unfortunately, neither Jay-Z nor his Co-Executive Producer Damon “Dame” Dash are talented enough at this point to marry Jay’s style with an appropriate and popular sound as Diddy was able to do with B.I.G.. Jay’s attempts to match B.I.G.’s songwriting success are this album’s biggest failures.


But then you have the underground tracks where Jay-Z shines: Where I’m From, a gripping description of the Brooklyn of the rapper’s past, would have easily fit amongst other vintage Jay-Z tracks on Reasonable Doubt, as would Rap Game/Crack Game (in which the rapper compares the two) or Streets is Watching. The latter track is a minor hip-hop masterpiece, featuring some of his most intricate rhymes; its tone is redolent of Can I Live from the rapper’s debut (though inexplicably, the censored version is featured on the explicit version of the album). Face Off feels like a male version of Ain’t No… with Jay-Z and Sauce Money trading raucous lines back and forth each verse. And You Must Love Me is one of the most compelling and personal records of his career, wherein he touches on his guilt over his crimes, including accidentally shooting his brother as a child.


As far as guests are concerned, then-popular Lil Kim’s verse is incidental, as is Foxy Brown’s verse. Sauce Money is great and once again, complements Jay’s own lyrical acuity and complexity with his own. Too Short staccato rhymes are complimentary, but the guests as a whole were stronger on Reasonable Doubt. You almost wish some of the artists sampled in fact contributed verses, such as Andre 3000 of Outkast or Nas, both of whom are sampled on Rap Game/Crack Game.


Imaginary Player is an ode to Jay-Z’s richer-than-thou ethos, exemplified by lines like “Your single was ninety-nine cents/Mine was four bucks.” But it’s Lucky Me that serves as the ethos of the album, a glossy beat with meditative lyrics that barely fit. Here, though Jay-Z focuses less on the perils of the street life, and more on the perils of fame, which replaces Reasonable Doubt’s Mafia undercurrent throughout In My Lifetime Vol. 1. And while the humor, sincerity, and earnestness of Reasonable Doubt is still here, he is clearly more aware of himself as a rap star, more confident, and much bolder. He is also seemingly impatient: as much as he is concerned with the dark side of fame, he wants more of it. Seeing himself the heir to B.I.G.’s legacy, he wants us to accept it without reservation, and afford him B.I.G.’s success. Depending on your perspective of Jay-Z’s own body of work, this may be off-putting and disrespectful, or spot-on and appropriate.


The commercial records are less likely to stick with you after a listen or two; the underground records do however remain. In My Lifetime Vol. 1 is worth a listen though, to understand Jay-Z’s development as an artist better. But if you don’t really care how the Jay-Z of Reasonable Doubt became one of the most well-known rappers alive, there are some great songs here too.


Sources


XXL Staff, The Making of Reasonable Doubt, XXL


Buy In My Lifetime Vol.1 here:


Amazon


CD Universe


Buy.com


Barnes and Noble


Borders


Labels: A Review of Jay-Z's In My Lifetime, Vol. 1

A Brief History of Airstream Trailers

Wally Byam was the inventor of the Airstream trailer; for many, the classic mobile home design.

His love of traveling began as a boy, accompanying his grandfather on his trips as a mule train leader in Oregon. As a young man, Byam worked as a shepherd, living in a tiny donkey cart. These early life experiences inspired him toward his very round-about career path as a pioneer mobile home designer.


Do-It-Yourselfer


Wally Byam graduated from law school at Stanford University, but he never became a lawyer. He did, however, become an advertising copywriter, but didn’t like that either. After his stint in advertising, he became a magazine publisher.


The favorite of his magazines was aimed at do-it-yourselfers. In this magazine, he wrote and published an article “How to Build a Trailer for One Hundred Dollars.” To Byam’s surprise, the article triggered a strong response from readers. Many sent letters asking for more detailed plans of the trailer design. Seizing on the opportunity, Byam created a detailed plan and sold them for $1 each. Again to his surprise, he made $15,000 – and this was in the 1920s.


The Trailer


In 1929, Byam decided to build his own trailer in his Los Angeles backyard. He started with a Ford Model T chassis; added a platform to the chassis; and erected a tent on the platform. Because this wasn’t the perfect trailer design, Byam kept improving on it.


Eventually his design breakthrough came. This happened after deciding to drop the trailer’s floor between the wheels. This allowed him to raise the ceiling. More important, this allowed inhabitants the ability to stand up inside the trailer.


Despite the Depression, orders for Byam’s trailer came pouring in. By 1930, he made trailer manufacturing a full-time business.


Because his first trailers were made out of plywood, he wasn’t satisfied with the material’s abilities to withstand the elements. His next design breakthrough came when he began incorporating aircraft construction techniques for a more streamlined and aerodynamic look.


The Clipper


In 1934, Byam finally came up with a name for his company: Airstream. At the time, the top of the Airstream line was the “Clipper”, a model that expanded the trailer to a mobile home.


The Clipper had a riveted aerodynamic aluminum body that could sleep four. Its bells and whistles included its own water supply, dry-ice air conditioning, full electricity, and a chemical toilet. Another notable innovation was the escape window in the back in case the side door was jammed. It was the first real home on wheels.


Airstream Company


During the thirties, Airstream had stiff competition from other companies. At one point in Byam’s career, his company faced 400 competitors. Quality won out and Airstream has remained the sole survivor.


Wally Byam once said that his ideal trailer was one could live in the middle of the Gobi Desert in an Airstream experiencing “gracious metropolitan luxury without relocating, refueling, recharging, or regretting.”


He died in 1962, and the Airstream remains the industry standard. In 2007, 60% of the originals are still on the road.


SOURCES:


“Wally Byam”, WIkipedia


“Airstream history”, Designboom


“Airstream”, Sarah McNeill, Brandchannel


Labels: A Brief History of Airstream Trailers

A Product Review of Russell Stover Pecan Delights Fine Chocolates

This product just keeps getting better and better and recently, when I purchased a box of Russell Stover Pecan Delights Fine Chocolates, I realized this fact to be so true! The hand crafted aspect of this chocolate candy is wonderful. I purchased this product for a gift to a special someone! Here is what I discovered!

I purchased a box of Russell Stover Pecan Delights Fine Chocolates for around eight dollars. Russell Stover is a well known name brand and they are known for producing high quality chocolates! Hand crafted in small batches, this chocolate candy gets special attention! You can tell that fact from the wonderful chocolate taste of this treat! These pecan delights are something special. This product is made in the USA! This product is also very delicious and very special! I purchased a box of six of these chocolate pecan delights and the box is very pretty! It currently has a brown bow in the corner of the front of the box! It also has a gold seal stating that this product is proudly made in America! I liked that fact and it made this gift even more special, in my opinion! An USA made gift is a great thing to give!


Russell Stover has been chocolate making since 1923! They only use the finest ingredients in their products! Butter, sweet cream, cocoa, chocolate, brown sugar and pecans are some of the many fine ingredients used in their candies. This company hand blends these ingredients using copper kettles and hand mixers, mixing small batches, coating each piece in chocolate. This product is entirely made in America. I can appreciate that wonderful fact. When I tasted Russell Stover Pecan Delights Fine Chocolates, I could tell that this was a high quality chocolate product! This candy is delicious! It has a wonderful chocolate taste, along with delicious pecans and caramel. I absolutely loved this product! I rate Russell Stover Pecan Delights Fine Chocolates four and one half stars out of five stars!


I enjoyed trying this product and writing a product review about it! I will be purchasing this chocolate candy again! Russell Stover Pecan Delights Fine Chocolates carries a guarantee of quality and freshness on each product produced! One box of Russell Stover Pecan Delights Fine Chocolates contains six pieces. One serving equals two pieces of this candy. One serving contains two hundred and seventy calories. One hundred and forty of these calories come from fat. One serving of this product contains sixteen grams of total fat, seven grams of saturated fat, zero grams of trans fat, ten mgs of cholesterol, thirty-two grams of total carbs, one gram of dietary fiber, twenty-five grams of sugars and three grams of protein. One serving also has small amounts of vitamin A, vitamin C, calcium and iron in it!


Russell Stover Pecan Delights Fine Chocolates are pecans and caramel covered in milk chocolate. That is a very tasty and tempting combination! This product makes an excellent gift for chocolate and pecan lovers, in my opinion! This product is made of one hundred percent recycled paperboard. This is a product of the USA. I enjoy saying that it is a darn good one! You can find Russell Stover Pecan Delights Fine Chocolates in most grocery stores or drug stores that you shop in! I loved trying this product and writing a product review about it!


Labels: A Product Review of Russell Stover Pecan Delights Fine Chocolates

A Delicious Remake of the Pampered Chef Cold Veggie Pizza

Things you need:
2 roles of Pillsbury Seamless Crescent Crust
1 12 oz tube of Philadelphia Whipped Cream Cheese (plain)
1 packet of mixed veggies* (Carrots, Broccoli, Cauliflower)
1 medium tomato*
1 yellow pepper* (I use yellow because it gives a nice color)
1.5 cups of Mild Cheddar shredded cheese*
* All veggies are optional! Pick and choose your favorites! You can
also try using celery, onions, radishes, olives, anything you can
think of. If you are a meat lover you can try adding some bacon bits!

Start by preheating the oven to 375 degrees. Crease a 18 X 11 square
cookie sheet, open both packages of crust and spread it out on the
cookie sheet as evenly as possible. It does not have to look pretty,
everything is going to be covered up. Bake this for 10 minutes or
until lightly browned.


Once you have baked it and pulled the crust out, it needs to cool to
room temperature. If you the start the veggies now the timing should
be perfect. I use a food chopper (a cheap one from Walmart) to shred
the carrots, broccoli, and cauliflower. I think this part to be
really fine. You can also dice them if you prefer that texture.


Hand dice the tomato and the pepper (you can use any color, I like
yellow since I already have a red and green veggie for the pizza). I
hand dice these veggies because putting them into a chopper will make
them mushy, not an ideal pizza topping.


Once you have the veggies chopped and/or diced mix them together in a
large mixing bowl.


Now check your crust. It doesn’t have to be cold but it should not be
blazing hot because you do not want your cream cheese to be melted on
top. Once you feel your crust in cool enough start spreading the
cream cheese. I love the “Whipped” style because it is extremely easy
to spread. You can do this with a regular butter knife. I use the
whole 12 oz tub but you can use more or less depending on your
preference.


Once you have spread the cream cheese it is time to spread the
veggies. I use my hands and sprinkle the veggies on an evenly as
possible. Once I’m finished spreading the veggies I cover the pizza
with shredded mild cheddar cheese. If you would like a “hot” taste
try using shredded pepper jack cheese.


Cut and serve! Makes about 15 slices depending on your cuts. This
makes a great appetizer for guests any time of the year. It also
makes a great healthy dinner for two! Make it your own and have fun!


Labels: A Delicious Remake of the Pampered Chef Cold Veggie Pizza

A CLOCK in MY VILLAGE

There is a big clock in my village,
there is no pendulam in it,
there is no seconds in this clock,
only minitues and hours.

my father has seen it.
grandfather saw it.
it is a very old clock.
people are waking up with this clock,
running with this clock,
and sleeping with it.


In every seconds of life,
we are moving to death.
There is a big resting room
is waiting for us.
every seconds we are walking
to that room.
whose knows,
when we will reach there?


This clock seen how many people,
everybody is busy in life.
They are fighting for money,
fighting for land,
fighting for pleasure.


Every seconds of life,
he is waiting for us,
we cannot escape from his hand,
it is only a real truth in our life,
only a real truth in our life.


The sun and moon never change,
the stars never change,
the earth and sky never change,
only we are changing,
human beings are changing,
new faces are coming,
old faces are going.


One day he will catch us,
death is waiting for us,
sometimes so far,
sometimes very near to us.


Labels: A CLOCK in MY VILLAGE

A Clockwork Orange

It starts with a wash of orange, and an assault of electronic beats. Alex DeLarge (Malcolm McDowell) comes into view. One of his eyes is framed with false lashes, his bowler hat is perched on his head, and his smirk highlights the sparkle of boyish mischief in his eyes. The camera pans away from Alex to drink in the pornographic surroundings of the Korova Milk Bar, and our “humble narrator” begins.

“A Clockwork Orange” was adapted for film, produced, directed, and released in 1971 by the late Stanley Kubrick. It is is what I can only imagine what he would picture an anarchist society would truly be like in his mind’s eye. It is a symphony of violence and destruction with Beethoven in the orchestra pit. No true parental supervision, no real sense of authority, and no concept of the repercussions of one’s actions.


The movie contains what is universally acknowledged as one of the most disturbing scenes ever committed to film. A couple lives outside of town; far from where anyone can hear them screaming and begging for mercy at the hands of their teenage sadists. Just when the attacks become particularly brutal, Alex breaks into a maniacally gleeful rendition of “Singing in the Rain”, from the musical that shares the same name. His pitch is perfect; slicing through the gruesome scene not unlike the scissors he uses to shed the clothing of the author’s wife.


This is only the beginning.


We see gang stand downs, a gratuitous threesome, and Alex’s friends standing up to him only to be beaten into submission on the way to a local pub. Georgie Boy hatches a plan to rob a woman who’s house is in a rather remote location. Once Alex and his “Droogs” arrive, Alex manages to murder the woman, only to find out he has been set up to take the fall. He is then arrested and is given 14 years in prison.


While he is up for parole, he is offered the chance to be released on the condition he goes through the “Ludovico Technique”. He agrees. Once he is taken to the facility, he is put in a straight jacket with his eyelids forced open. He is then made to watch violent images set to Beethoven’s Ninth, unaware that he was given a drug that is intended to cause nausea. The imagery and violence collide, and from then on, Alex cannot abide any atrocious acts such as fighting or rape.


Upon his release, he meets up with Georgie Boy and Dim, who are now police officers. They capture Alex, drive him to a remote location, and proceed to dunk his head in a pig trough while beating him with nightsticks. Alex collapses at the door of the first house he comes to, which he realizes had just so happened to be the same house of the author and his wife. Alex realizes that the author couldn’t have realized who he was, since he and his friend were wearing masks at the time. He could have gotten away with it, had he not stupidly decided to burst out into his favorite song, “Singing in the Rain” while taking a bath in the author’s tub. That song is to the author what Beethoven now is to Alex: a putrid flashback of horrible memories. We watch the author sitting in his wheelchair, and what could very well be his last piece of sanity is gone. He decides to drug Alex during his dinner, lock him up in a room, and blast Beethoven throughout his house. Alex is so desperate to escape that he chooses to attempt to end his life by throwing himself out of the window to the concrete below.


When he awakes, he is in the hospital in a body cast. His recovery is peppered by dreams of what could have been the Ludovico Technique, or the same people trying to reverse the treatment. One day, the Minister of the Interior comes to apologize to Alex for having selected him for the treatment. He gets Alex to agree to taking up a job with the government on the condition that he helps repair the damage that his suicide has caused the current political party that is in power.


The Minister then gives Alex a high-tech stereo system that is playing Beethoven. Alex is able to listen to it without any side effects. The movie then ends the same way the American version of the book does, with the line: “I was cured, all right!”


Labels: A Clockwork Orange

A Delicious Salad Recipe

This is a salad that I just threw together one day that turned out to be the most delicious salad.

Ingredients:


Romaine lettuce


Cherry tomatos


1 sweet onion


1 can of sliced olives


3 mandarin oranges


1 avocado


3 slices of munster cheese


Crispy tortilla strips


Ginger dressing


Salt


Pepper


Preperation:


Slice up the romaine lettuce and put into a salad bowl. Slice the cherry tomatos in half and add to the lettuce. Slice up the avocado into strips and then cut again lengthwise about 3 times. Cut up the mandarin oranges into little wedges. Cut up the sweet onion into long thin strips. Take the 3 slices of munster cheese and break them up into small 1/2″ peices. Put all of the ingredients into the salad bow. Drain the olives and add them. Topp the salad with a few handuls of crispy tortilla strips. Add salt and pepper and toss the salad. Get a ginger dressing from your local asian market and serve with the salad.


Your guests will love it!


Labels: A Delicious Salad Recipe

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