Category: Entertainment Written by Cornelius Fortune
Welcome to VIRTUAL Feedback, your one-stop source for popular culture, technology, and the art world…
The iPhone 5 will be released on Sept. 21, less than a year after the iPhone 4S
Is technology moving too darn fast?
The new iPhone 5 has arrived (sadly, no news yet of the much-hyped possibly fictional iPad Mini), and most will have to make a serious decision: trade in, or keep what you already have?
Apple’s iOS 6 will be available to all iPhone 4S users, but that pesky A6 chip (the iPhone 4S uses the A5) is going to become a problem within the next year, as mobile developers start creating apps for the latest iPhone. Translation: your phone won’t be able to handle all the updated graphics and yet-to-be announced features exclusive to the A6 chip, rendering your iPhone 4S as useless as the original iPad.
It’s a slowly grinding descent into what you might call “tech garbage.” You can recycle, trade-in, store in a drawer all you want, but increasingly, the window’s closing on your smartphone or tablet’s market value. You make that purchase, and it’s only a matter of time before you’re going to make another just to keep up. Technology, and in effect, Apple’s many wondrous products are the opposite of wine – they get worse (useless) with age. Talk all you want about your old iPod doubling as a hard drive, or some other arcane function, but that’s not why you originally purchased it.
Here’s the real problem, though: A consumer should safely assume that whatever they’re putting their hard-earned money on should at best – if it is the latest and greatest – provide a shelf life of roughly more than a year. Seems fair, right? The iPhone 4S was released in November. Seems a little unfair for those who bought into all the neat iPhone 4S touting the coolness of Siri (thanks, Samuel L. Jackson!).
Most techies have plenty of disposable income (watch the iPhone 5 release lines next week), which means, in theory, these folks are going to buy the current models without hesitation. But if you’re not exactly in that category, what are your options?
1) Wait it out.
All the cool new iPhone 5 features such as the new maps, Facebook integration, and a new and improved Siri personal assistant are going to be available for most current iPhone users.
You can thoroughly expect next week’s launch will be a big deal. It always is. And most of us holding onto our iPhone 4s are going to feel some iPhone 5 envy.
2) In that case, consider this: Apple’s buying back iPhones (you’ll have to mail it), so are gazelle.com, Game Stop, and your local carrier. Be sure to comb the Internet for the best deals and drop by a store or two.
If you’re like most of us mid-level techies, you’ll simply hold off until the foundations get a little shaky and you’re forced to switch to the fast lane. You’ll also convince yourself that the new iPhone isn’t really that different from the one you own.
Tech garbage is a way of life. And our collections will eventually tell the story of our evolving digital lives. One memory (or device) at a time.
Last Updated on Monday, 17 September 2012 10:46
Category: Entertainment Written by Cornelius Fortune
Detroit native Abel Ramirez has been creating professional images in various mediums for more than a decade. He’s done comic books, storyboards (for films), and most recently, a series of storybooks for children called “The Diny Tots” (www.dinytots.com). The next book in the series, “Diny Tots and the Hot Air Balloon,” will soon be available. An artist who displays versatility, a keen sense of shadow and light, and a style all his own, Ramirez is truly an artist to watch.
When did you discover art?
When I was about five years old, my dad gave me old books with animals in them and told me to draw them. That’s when I learned to copy from pictures. I remember him showing how to draw a cat, too. I had Spider-Man and Batman toys around that age and tried to draw them as well.
When I was a little older, my dad bought me my first Spider-Man comic book. And there I was copying Spidey again. It was really a goal for me to get human anatomy right. I started reading and collecting comics of various titles and have been hooked since; comics have been a great influence on me.
Book Bin was the only comic book store in southwest Detroit. Before I could drive, I would walk about three miles to get to it and buy my books. On the way, I would see the Latin American murals on the walls of some of the buildings in the neighborhood, and I greatly admired it. To this day, I am inspired by this type of artwork.
You’ve worked within a variety of mediums. Which do you prefer?
I love doing charcoal, but I really enjoy simply drawing a piece by hand in pencil. I then ink the piece by hand, and after that, scan it and color the piece via computer software, such as Photoshop; this is a cool way to add colors and other effects.
What can you tell us about The Pink Crusader?
The Pink Crusader was created to promote breast cancer awareness and to encourage women to get yearly mammograms. She is meant to be an empowering icon for breast cancer victims, survivors, their families and for the cause itself. The Pink Crusader is also an endeavor to perhaps merge the comic book industry/community with the breast cancer awareness community.
Last year, I did a Pink Crusader piece for the Bras For A Cause breast cancer charity event in Royal Oak, which was sold in a silent auction. Another 18x24 piece will auctioned off this September as well.
Has art gotten easier now that you’ve done so much of it?
I wouldn’t say it has gotten easier because I am always trying to improve. Trying to get better is always a constant effort. But I do have to say that it has gotten to be more fun, the more I do it.
Any new projects our readers should be aware of?
Yes. My next children’s book, “Diny Tots and the Hot Air Balloon,” should be out on Amazon in a month or so. This is the second book in a series I hope to continue. It’s about the adventures of four children dinosaurs and their puppy ankylosaurus, who come across a teddy bear flying a hot air balloon.
I will also be doing art for a book called “Inspired Visions” coming out next year. It will feature the art and biographies of 20 Christian comic book artists. The art will be based on the Bible or other Christian-related inspiration, or life events.
A Pink Crusader origins comic book is also in the works.
For more information on future projects, visit www.abelramirez.com.
Last Updated on Tuesday, 11 September 2012 17:52
Category: Entertainment Written by AJ Williams, Chronicle Web Editor
One never knows what people are going to say, perhaps even more so in the world of show business where getting publicity is a big part of the game.
I have been going over some of my notes and excerpts from one-on-one interviews and have come up with some interesting things. Sometimes they are funny.
Raynoma Gordy Singleton, the second of Berry Gordy’s three wives, told me that Gordy has “the prettiest feet” she had ever seen on a man. (Now there’s a compliment you don’t hear every day!)
When as a preface to a question, a reporter said to Aretha Franklin, “You made a record with Mary J. Blige...,” the indignant Queen of Soul said, “She made a record with me!”
During her last engagement with the Supremes, Diana Ross said on stage, “We’ll always be together in our hearts.” (Perhaps only there.)
Millie Jackson, who is always totally honest and often hilarious, said that because she had reached a certain age and her body didn’t look the way it did back in the day, “I done got to the point where I turn out the lights whenever I have sex! Things ain’t what they used to be!”
Fox 2 News anchor Huel Perkins is a huge fan of songwriter/singer Laura Nyro.
Superstar filmmaker Spike Lee asked me, “Why do so many Arabs live in the Detroit area?” (How was I supposed to answer that?)
One of the most successful television specials of all time is “Motown: Yesterday, Today, Forever.” I overheard Mary Wells tell a friend at Hart Plaza a few months later that “Diana Ross was “high” that night.
Keith Washington, Grammy-nominated singer (biggest hit: “Kissing You”) and current radio personality (WDMK-FM, 105.9, KISS-FM), asked yours truly after an interview, “How have you been able to last so long?” (He was equating that with his career as a singer.) I said, “God, and I love what I do.”
Sylvia, singer/songwriter, said she wrote her huge hit “Pillow Talk” specifically for Al Green, but he turned it own because it was too overtly sexual. So she recorded it herself.
Sinbad never uses profanity in his act and that is because his father is a minister, That kind of language is out of the question.
We all know that Joan Rivers is outspoken to the extreme and that Paris Hilton is mostly famous for her name and money. Still, it was way over the top for Rivers to refer to her as “a no-talent skank ho.”
When Jody Watley got a divorce from André Cymone, she said, “I kept the ring!”
Despite their great skill as songwriters, producers and singers, Valerie Simpson and Nick Ashford admitted that they were initially having some difficulty learning how to use a computer.
Tommy Davidson, formerly of “In Living Color,” expressed gratitude (and amazement) that he had a sold-out house at the Palms Theatre when megastar Luther Vandross was performing that same night down the street at the Fox Theatre (also sold out).
Talented and versatile T’Keyah Crystal Keymah (you will remember her from “In Living Color” too) said she wanted to audition for the movie “Waiting to Exhale,” but wasn’t allowed to. She was hurt and insulted. The parts went to Angela Bassett, Loretta Devine, Whitney Houston and Lela Rochon.
I’ll tell you more later.
N’DIGO, a Chicago based publication, embarked on a quest to determine “The 50 Greatest Soul Albums of All Time.” There were 45 judges, half of them professionally affiliated.
The Top 50 included “What’s Going On” (Marvin Gaye), “Thriller” (Michael Jackson), “Songs in the Key of Life” (Stevie Wonder), “That’s the Way of the World” (Earth, Wind & Fire), “Superfly” (Curtis Mayfield), “Whitney Houston” (Whitney Houston), “I Never Loved a Man the Way I Love You” (Aretha Franklin), “Purple Rain” (Prince & the Revolution).
“Hot Buttered Soul” (Isaac Hayes), “Rapture” (Anita Baker), “I’m Still in Love With You” (Al Green), “Family Reunion” (the O’Jays), “One Nation Under a Groove” (Funkadelic), “Still Waters Run Deep” (the Four Tops), “The Heat Is On” (the Isley Brothers), “Stand!” (Sly & the Family Stone), “The Ice Man Cometh” (Jerry Butler) and “Who Is Jill Scott?” (Jill Scott).
Of course, any such list is subjective. It’s a matter of opinion, professional or otherwise. But those are commendable choices.
The remake of “Sparkle,” featuring Detroit’s own Lonette McKee, has created renewed interest in the 1976 original. You can get a very reasonably priced DVD at Amazon.com. The cost is only $5.97 plus shipping and handling which brings it to $8.95.
LARENZ TATE is a talented young actor we haven’t been seeing much of lately. He had a regular presence in the ’90s in films such as “Love Jones,” “Why Do Fools fall in Love?” and “The Inkwell,” plus many television shows, among them “21 Jump Street,” “Family Matters” and “The Fresh Prince of Bel-Air.” Tate’s last movie was “Ray,” a 2004 release in which he portrayed Quincy Jones.
An album of never-before released material on Aaliyah is being readied, with Drake as producer. I think projects such as this are wrong because the artist is no longer living, and who’s to say if they would have wanted the material released. It’s disrespectful.
What people spend their money on is, of course, their own business, and when people are rich, what is a lot to the rest of us is not to them. But even so, it seems ridiculous for Beyoncé and Jay-Z to spend $400,000 for a month’s stay at a summer resort.
MEMORIES: “Got To Be Real” (Cheryl Lynn), “In the Night-Time” (Michael Henderson), “Love Power” (Willie Hutch), “Sing a Simple Song” (Sly & the Family Stone), “The Cisco Kid” (War), “All Around the World” (Lisa Stansfield), “I Just Love the Man” (the Jones Girls), “Papillon (aka Hot Butterfly)” (Chaka Khan), “Reaching for the Sky” (Peabo Bryson), “Honey Chile” (Martha Reeves & the Vandellas).
BLESSINGS to Janice Marcum, William Ross, Deborah McIntosh, John Mason, Brenda Franklin, Keena Green Clinkscales, David Banks, Michael Price and Barrett Strong.
WORDS OF THE WEEK, from Bob Marley: “One good thing about music is when it hits you feel no pain.”
Let the music play!
Last Updated on Thursday, 16 August 2012 14:59
Category: Entertainment Written by Steve Holsey
The talented and lovely Alicia Keys has been a consistent top attraction since 2001 when she made her recording debut. But she feels that there is more that the public might want to know about her. And evidently, she is also enjoying a new sense of “liberation.”
Keys’ next album will be provocatively titled “Girl on Fire.”
She explains, “I felt like a a girl misunderstood that no one really knows. I felt like it was time to stop making excuses for any part of my life that I wanted to change. Once I made that choice, I became a girl on fire!”
Speaking of being on fire, of all the songs I have heard by Detroit’s own KEM, the one that has the most impact is “Share My Life,” featured on his top-selling 2010 album “Intimacy.” KEM sings with such conviction and passion that it might make you stop what you are doing to listen.
Brandy is working on her new album, interestingly titled “Two Eleven.” Fans will be interested to know that an October release date has been set.
THE DEBUT of the remake of the 1976 film “Sparkle” has created renewed interest in the original, and inparticular one of its main stars, Detroit’s own Lonette McKee as the talented and beautiful but ultimately doomed Sister Williams. She recently expressed some of her feelings to USA Today.
“I feel it’s an honor that a movie in which I was prominently featured is regarded highly enough that filmmakers thought it was worthy of being remade,” said McKee, someone I have known since she was 14 years old (she was the second person I ever interviewed; Little Carl Carlton was the first). “I’m a longtime Whitney Houston fan (who co-produced the movie) and love Jordin Sparks’ work as well. I’m thrilled about them doing a remake.”
WHICH BRINGS to mind the fact that a new Whitney Houston greatest hits album is slated for fall release. Of course, there was a greatest hits album in 2000, but that one featured the original versions of her ballad hits and remixes of the uptempo ones. The new collection will feature only originals.
That’s fine and dandy, but the bottom line is that this second collection was put together for one reason: to benefit from all the excitement surrounding the release of the “Sparkle” movie. That’s the way it goes in the music business, and elsewhere.
Here’s something you probably didn’t know: Former mayor Dennis Archer is a big fan of John Legend. You are likely to see him in the audience whenever Legend comes to town.
LIKE WHAT he says or not, you have to give Mike Tyson credit for being brutally honest in his one-man Broadway show, “The Undisputed Truth,” directed by Spike Lee.
Regarding his cocaine addiction, the often-troubled former heavyweight boxing champion has been clean for quite some time but says, “Any moment I could backslide. It’s always a struggle.” Then he added the shocker: “I love me some cocaine!”
Beyoncé Knowles received a very nice compliment from the outrageous and talented Lady Gaga. She said “B” is a friend she greatly respects becase “nothing about her is fake.”
You probably remember Afrika Bambaataa & Soul Sonic Force’s creative, techo-savvy and highly danceable 1980s hits “Planet Rock” and “Looking for the Perfect Beat.” Well, Bambaataa (real name: Kevin Donovan) has been named visiting scholar at Cornell University, in Ithaca, New York. Strange but true.
What is on the cover of a magazine affects sales, and one of the most unattractive I have seen in a long time is rapper Rick Ross on the cover of Rolling Stone. This is a prime example of a man who needs to keep his shirt on!
Perhaps inspired by entrepreneur Earvin “Magic” Johnson,” basketball superstar Shaquille O’Neal will be opening a 12-screen movie theater in Newark, Jersey (his hometown) at the end of next month.
What ever happened to Apollonia? She was in the Prince movie “Purple Rain” and replaced Vanity when Vanity 6 became Apollonia 6 and had one album, featuriing the hit “Sex Shooter.”
Clarification: Last we told you that Berry Gordy’s second wife, Raynoma Gordy Singleton, said he has “the prettiest feet” she has ever seen on a man. She meant, of course, that he has nice looking feet, not that they look like a woman’s, just in case anyone got the wrong idea.
BETCHA DIDN’T KNOW...that former pro-footall superstar and actor Jim Brown discovered the Friends of Dinstinction, whose major success included the hits “Grazing in the Grass,” “Going in Circles” and “Love or Let Me Be Lonely.”
MEMORIES: “Baby I’m For Real” (the Originals), “Let’s Do It Again” (the Staple Singers), “Keep on Truckin’” (Eddie Kendricks), “See Saw” (Aretha Franklin), “He Ain’t Heavy, He’s My Brother” (the Hollies), “Mighty Love” (the Spinners), “Memory Lane” (Minnie Riperton), “I Gotcha” (Joe Tex), “You’re All I Need to Get By” (Marvin Gaye and Tammi Terrell).
BLESSINGS to Carol Smith Dixon, Millie Scott, H. Kim Heron, Mary Grace Wilbert, Cynthia French, Joseph French, Thomas A. Wilson, Karen Dumas, H. Samuel Kemp, Ken Donaldson and Tyrone Mills.
WORDS OF THE WEEK, from CNN anchor Don Lemon: “Natural means what’s in your nature.”
Let the music play!
Last Updated on Monday, 27 August 2012 02:58
Category: Entertainment Written by Steve Holsey
For an array of reasons, “Sparkle” has been one of the most highly anticipated movies of the last few years, all the more so in the African-American community. Its success is guaranteed in that it was the last film of the late megastar Whitney Houston, and a project that was near and dear to her heart.
But the media and the public are also focused on Jordin Sparks, who is the lead character in the film, the role Irene Cara had in the 1976 original, which also starred Lonette McKee, the actress/singer from Detroit.
Sparks, at the age of 17, was the season six winner on “American Idol,” the show that has been a career launcher for a substantial number of singers, including Jennifer Hudson (who won an Oscar for her first film role, in “Dreamgirls”), Fantasia, Carrie Underwood, Ruben Studdard, Kelly Clarkson, Adam Lambert, Kimberley Locke and Chris Daughtry.
Simon Cowell, by far the toughest “Idol” judge, praised Sparks for her growth, saying, “Jordin was the most improved over the whole season. She didn’t start out the best, but midway through was the girl who suddenly got momentum.”
High praise indeed from the often acerbic judge.
After her “American Idol” victory, Sparks recorded her first album (titled “Jordin Sparks”) in late 2007 which was well received by the public. In fact, it was certified Platinum by the Record Industry Association of America (RIAA) for selling a milliion copies.
Sparks received another major boost when superstar Alicia Keys invited her to be the opening on the North American leg of her tour. Sparks remarked that it was exciting and gratifying to have audiences singing along with her, knowing all the words. A throat problem meant cancelling shows, but once that was taken care of, she rejoined the tour for overseas shows, including Australia and New Zealand.
Jordin Sparks has made a drastic physical transformation since the “American Idol” era. She has lost 50 pounds and has “glammed up” considerably, enough to put her in the same league as Beyoncé.
Sparks, like so many young artists today, has become an entrepreneur, including her own clothing line and her own fragrance.
Last Updated on Thursday, 16 August 2012 11:36
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