Opinion: How a Faustian bargain with Trump corrupted the GOP

You’re fired, Donald.

After the calamitous events of the last few weekends – the lowest point of which was the unearthing of 11-year-old footage that showed the business magnate and then reality TV star bragging about habitually assaulting women – it has become abundantly clear Donald J. Trump’s presidential aspirations are effectively over.

It was, of course, not a matter of if, but when an October surprise such as the “Access Hollywood” tape would torpedo Trump.

Even before entering the world of politics, when he formally announced his candidacy on June 16, 2015, Trump exhibited an appalling inability to tame his tongue. But it has been this very character deficit of Trump’s – an unwillingness to censor even his most puerile and bigoted of thoughts – which has allowed him to soar upon a tidal wave of lunacy all the way to his presidential candidacy.

What absolute delicious irony it is, then, that Trump’s most effective political weapon – his loose lips – would be what delivered the fatal blow to his dream of being president.

So while the media and its parade of political pundits will undoubtedly perform a postmortem on Trump’s presidential campaign in the coming days and weeks, we as Americans, every last one of us, need to ask ourselves one very important question.

How did a man like Trump even come this close to claiming the most powerful office in the world?

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Reach out and touch faith: The first four minutes of AMC’s adaptation of cult comic ‘Preacher’ have arrived

 

Photo courtesy Matthias Clamer/AMC

Photo courtesy Matthias Clamer/AMC

All you lapsed Catholics, it’s time to get your collective asses back to church this Sunday.

Preacher Jesse Custer and his crew have a satirical and sadistic sermon to spew when AMC premieres the first episode of the television adaptation of cult-favorite comic book Preacher this Sunday, May 22, at 10:00 p.m. ET/PT.

While only a mere two days away from blessing televisions across the world with its presence,  if you’re anything like me, 48 hours is too damn long not to get a quick taste of what’s in store.

Praise the Lord then that AMC has decided to share with everyone the opening four minutes of the series’ first episode.

Check the Preacher sneak-peak after the break.

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Opinion: Oscars’ race problem more than a black and white issue

Last Sunday at the 88th Academy Awards, the annual celebration of the very best in motion pictures was must-see TV for many cinephiles, fashion fiends and pop-culture connoisseurs.

However, last Sunday’s Oscar telecast was also must-watch television for a very different and serious reason.

Much controversy and debate had been made since the Academy announced the nominees for its 24 categories on Thursday, Jan. 14. Out of the 20 nominees nominated for acting, not one black performer’s name was announced. This was, of course, problematic on a number of levels, but when coupled with the fact no black performer was nominated the year prior, well, it’s quite understandable why the hashtag #OscarsSoWhite became as wildly popular as it did.

So when emcee for the 2016 Oscars and comedian Chris Rock took the stage at the Dolby Theatre in Los Angeles and performed a shocking yet humorous vivisection of the institutional racism embedded deep within the Academy Awards – and by extension Hollywood –  many, myself included, laughed and applauded.

“You’re damn right Hollywood’s racist, but not the racist that you’ve grown accustomed to,” Rock said. “Hollywood is sorority racist. It’s like, ‘We like you, Rhonda, but you’re not a Kappa.’ That’s how Hollywood is.”

While Rock’s jokes elicited much later from the celebs in attendance, the now two-time Oscar host took a more serious tone to his humor when he said prior black performers did not voice their concerns over underrepresentation at previous Academy Awards as they had larger, more pressing issues to contend with.

“We were too busy being raped and lynched to care about who won best cinematographer,” he said. “When your grandmother’s swinging from a tree, it’s really hard to care about best documentary foreign short.”

He would go on to joke that the Oscars annual “In Memoriam” staple would consist only of “Black people who were shot by the cops on the way to the movies.”

In a night that was destined to be shrouded in controversy, awkwardness and palpable racial tension, Rock’s humorous yet brutally honest monologue was much needed. Rock should be lauded for his brilliant opening monologue which saw the well-respected humorist perform a precarious tight-rope act of exhibiting righteous anger while also delivering the comedic brilliance he is known for.

While no one expected the ceremony to become a hotbed for racial equality, Rock started the night off right by addressing the concerns of the #OscarsSoWhite movement and holding the Academy’s feet to the proverbial fire.

All was well.

Until a random and crass Asian joke was cracked on the telecast.

Then another.

And another.

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Music Review: Deftones give glimpse of ‘Gore’ with new single ‘Prayers/Triangles’

With the release of the new single “Prayers/Triangles,” Sacramento’s alt-metal stalwarts Deftones continue to trek beyond the boundaries of the aural landscape they first mapped on their 1995 debut album Adrenaline.

Pulse-pounding, emotional and unrelenting, “Prayers/Triangles” – the first single off their upcoming album Gore – sees the band continue charting new musical territory. However, as has always been the case with this quintet, the Deftones are less interested in abandoning their previously established sound on past albums for something newer than they are about confronting, conquering and colonizing the new musical challenges that lie on the horizon.

This astounding ability to annex and absorb disparate genre sounds into the band’s ever-expanding and maturing musical mosaic has always been a hallmark of theirs. However, there is a seamlessness, a mastery, with which the group deploys their near-bottomless arsenal of sonic weaponry on “Prayers/Triangles” that has never been heard from them before.

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‘Deadpool’ Review: Marvel’s Merc with a Mouth stars in middling superhero comedy

After having accumulated an unsuspected and mind-blowing worldwide box office total of over $300 million in five days, nearly everyone has seen the latest and arguably most divisive superhero film to date – Deadpool.

If you are one of the few who have yet to see the film – get outside your cave and catch some sun, you agoraphobe – you have undoubtedly been told all about it. That the film is either the greatest superhero movie of all time or that it is among the most – if not the most – obnoxious comic book motion pictures of all time.

Well, since I care deeply about you and the hard-earned money you plunk down at your local cineplex, let’s get down to brass tacks – Deadpool lies somewhere in the middle of those wildly opposing views.

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Music Review: No Devotion finds redemption in ‘Permanence’

Most artists will, at some point, inevitably experience the embarrassment of having the nadir of their lives – public or private – documented for all to see. It, unfortunately, comes with the territory of living in the gossip-fueled, TMZ-obsessed world we now find ourselves inhabiting. All low-points and rock bottoms can and will be seen by the judgmental god that is the unblinking public eye. These artists are faced with the options of either slinking away shamefully and putting their careers into early retirements, or, courageously, they can embrace – warts and all – their darkest, most embarrassing moments and channel that negative energy into something creative.

Almost no artists have ever hit as devastating a low point as the members of Lostprophets.

No one would have blamed the ex-members of the group if they had decided to hang up their instruments and hide from the scrutinizing gaze of the public eye. They had, of course, just seen their 15 years of hard work as a band blow up in their faces when allegations surfaced that their lead singer, Ian Watkins, had secretly committed some of the most repugnant and evil crimes imaginable.

Despite the fact that years of their musical work were tarnished by their now incarcerated former front man – or perhaps because of it – these five Welsh musicians were compelled to continue making music. While a commendable decision, it would be a hard task to accomplish, as the Lostprophets as a brand was now forever tainted by Watkins. The question became how on Earth would musicians Jamie Oliver, Lee Gaze, Mike Lewis, Luke Johnson and Stuart Richardson get back into the world of music making?

Enter Geoff Rickly.

In the last few years, the former lead singer of Thursday – one of the most well-known and revered post-hardcore bands of the ’00s – had been experiencing his own professional and creative nadir. Thursday had disbanded in 2011 and – while he was still sporadically channeling his fury in the screamo power-violence supergroup United Nations – Rickly found himself in the ghastly grip of grief after a romantic relationship he was in ended.

On May 14, 2014, it was announced that Rickly would be joining the five ex-Lostprophets members in a new group named No Devotion. Rickly, in an interview with Radio Cardiff, said his new bandmates “needed a second chance.”

As fate would have it, Rickly himself needed a second chance.

Leaving behind the nu-metal sound of Lostprophets, and – to a lesser extent – Thursday’s post-hardcore vibe, No Devotion plunges Permanence for the majority of its 48-minute runtime deep into the chilly, turbid waters of ’80s Joy Division-inspired dark electro-pop. However, there are moments of airy, fuzzed-out shoegaze à la Stone Roses, and aural homages to the more buoyant tunes of ‘80s stalwarts The Cure and New Order that allow the band to rise above the depths of despair and bask in the light of redemption.

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Music Review: Heaven In Her Arms and Cohol team up on split EP ‘Kokukou’

For something off the beaten track, there’s Kokukou, an intense split 12” release from Japanese metal acts Heaven in Her Arms and Cohol.

The first half of the split 12” features the music of Heaven in Her Arms. Sounding like the violently depressed lovechild of the music groups Deafheaven and Converge, Heaven in Her Arms’ first track, “Kuroi Senko,” is a beautifully restrained post- rock instrumental that segues into the ambient “Mayu.”

Having just spent two-thirds of their split 12” creating lush, quiet sounds, Heaven in Her Arms delivers a devastating sucker punch with “Shuen No Mabushisa” – an aggressively propulsive track that dizzies you with faster-than-the-hiccups fret tapping and bludgeons you with unreal speed drumming. With “Shuen No Mabushisa,” Heaven in Her Arms manages to showcase every aspect of their sound all at once: larynx-lacerating vocals, moments of tenderness and beauty that flit around the jagged edges of violent guitar riffs and post-rock theatrics.

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Music Review: ‘Every Open Eye’ sees Chvrches mature in sound

There’s always a fear in the music world when a new band or artist comes busting out of the gates with a commercially and creatively successful first album that the follow-up will inevitably disappoint.

The dreaded sophomore slump has cursed many bands – The Killers, MGMT and Yeah Yeah Yeahs come to mind – so it’s understandable if there were fans who were skeptical of how Chvrches’ second album, Every Open Eye, would turn out.

Thankfully, those concerned that the Scottish three-piece would rest on their laurels and churn out a carbon copy of their 2013 debut album The Bones of What You Believe can rest easy. Every Open Eye is a beautiful and at times dark synth-pop album that can be called the greatest accomplishment in the band’s limited catalogue.

Never outstaying its welcome, Every Open Eye is a captivating 43-minute, 11-track aural journey that sees the band build upon the sound introduced in their first album and fine-tuning it just enough to make things more interesting. If there was any issue with The Bones of What You Believe, it was that it felt not so much a cohesive album, but rather a collection of greatest hits – which is pretty insane considering it was their first LP. Each track on Every Open Eye flows seamlessly into the next – a fine example would be how the propulsive and triumphant ending to “Make Them Gold” beautifully fades away into the soft shimmering intro of “Clearest Blue.”

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New music reviews: Radkey and Chvrches

Radkey, the young brotherly trio who hail from Missouri, make no attempts at hiding their influences on their debut album Dark Black Makeup. Smooth, sexy, soulful punk rock, these guys do an admirable job matching the sonic fury of the bands they attempt to emulate – Glenn Danzig-era The Misfits, Black Flag and Bad Brains. At the very least these guys have great taste.

With a sound almost as interesting as their backstory – they dropped out of school after only one year, were home schooled by their mother and chose their father to manage their careers – Radkey’s music sounds as if it is informed only by 80s’ punk, comic books, and slasher flicks.

While horribly derivative at times – seriously, what the hell is with that opening to the track “Le Song” which they totally crib from the intro to My Chemical Romance’s “Na Na Na” – Dark Black Makeup is a debut that demands your attention. Musicians this young and who possess such raw talent can only look forward to greatness.

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Music Review: BABYMETAL’s “Live at Budokan: Black Night Apocalypse”

Throw up those horns and bang your heads, hard rock fans – the new metal masters of the world have arrived, and they’re still in high school.

BABYMETAL, comprised of 17-year-old Suzuka Nakamoto (Su-Metal), the two 15 year olds Yui Mizuno (Yuimetal) and Moa Kikuchi (Moametal) and a backup band of virtuoso musicians, delivers one of the best live albums in years while continuing to silence their naysayers with the release of Live at Budokan: Black Night Apocalypse.

Popular in their native country Japan since first arriving on the scene in 2010, BABYMETAL began receiving attention globally when videos of their truly bonkers live performances went viral online. However, a funny thing happened last year while Western metal heads – predominantly males – laughed and dismissed BABYMETAL as a one-trick pony. The band released their debut album, and it was one of, if not the best, metal albums of 2014. The album, produced by the group’s mysterious founder Kobametal, topped iTunes’ Heavy Metal charts in both the US and UK.

With a sound best described as an unholy alliance between heavy metal and Japanese pop music (J-Pop), BABYMETAL have spent the last 12 months touring the globe – most notably opening for Lady Gaga and a career-making performance at last year’s European hard rock festival Sonisphere, where they played alongside such metal icons as Metallica, Slayer and Iron Maiden – quickly amassing a legion of diehard fans while also pissing off large swaths of the metal community. Seriously – there’s a plethora of YouTube videos featuring furious adult men with tattoos reduced to near-tears over BABYMETAL’s growing popularity in metal.

Given that the band has received so much positive attention over their concerts, its unsurprising that Kobametal and his band of diminutive demons would release a live album. Recorded at the world famous indoor arena The Nippon Budokan in Tokyo, Japan – the venue for many live albums by such acts as Bob Dylan, Ozzy Osbourne and Cheap Trick – the sold out concert is a breathtakingly fun and impressive performance.

Black Night Apocalypse serves as a giant middle finger to those who have accused the group of being a joke, as BABYMETAL and their backup band of tremendously talented studio musicians, The Kami Band, deliver an exhaustive 73-minute-long set of breakneck pop-metal.

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