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Wednesday, March 13,2013

From Cuba, with jazz

Cuban timba musicians bring Grammy-nominated sound to Wharton Center tonight

by Rich Tupica
Thursday, Dec. 6 — Tiempo Libre’s latest album, “Secret Radio,” pays homage to the band members’ teen years — before they were nominated for three Grammy Awards, touring the world or performing with Joshua Bell on NBC’s Tonight Show.
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Wednesday, March 13,2013

Joshua Barton: Caught on tape

Lansing songwriter goes solo with new spacey country album

by Rich Tupica
Friday, Dec. 28 — Invoking psychedelic sounds with acoustic instruments while also tapping into classic country and gospel may seem like a daunting task for the average musician. But local songwriter Joshua Barton doesn’t seem to have a problem finding that assorted medium — maybe it’s because his musical idols range from Spacemen 3 to Johnny Cash.
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Wednesday, March 13,2013

Turn it down

A survey of Lansing's musical landscape

by Rich Tupica
The Plurals, one of Lansing's busiest indie bands, plays Wednesday at The Avenue Café. Opening the show are fellow local punks To Fear the Wolf and Honah Lee, a New Jersey-based power-pop-punk band.
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Wednesday, March 13,2013

The plaything's the thing

The wicked wit of Seth MacFarlane turns 'Ted' into a comedy with sharp claws

by James Sanford
“Ted” begins with a lonely young boy’s magical holiday wish for a special friend being granted. “It’s a Christmas miracle!” Mom declares as the child’s teddy bear comes to life. But don’t believe for a moment that “Family Guy” creator Seth MacFarlane — who directed, produced, co-wrote and provided the voice for the title character — has suddenly turned sentimental and sweet-natured. The kid grows up to be John Bennett (Mark Wahlberg), a 35-year-old Bostonian stoner, and his best buddy, Ted, matures into a tyrant of a toy, a foul-mouthed, drug-craving, hooker-hiring ne’er-do-well; Winnie the Pooh would wince.
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Wednesday, March 13,2013

They shoot one-trick ponies, don’t they?

Sacha Baron Cohen wears out his welcome in record time in 'The Dictator'

by James Sanford
Perhaps you are old enough to remember the days when any “Saturday Night Live” sketch that got a few giggles suddenly became worthy of its own big-screen feature. Sure, “Wayne’s World” worked and “The Blues Brothers” long ago achieved cult classic status, but what about Al Franken’s “Stuart Saves His Family,” “Coneheads,” “Blues Brothers 2000,” Tim Meadows’ “The Ladies’ Man,” Molly Shannon’s “Superstar” and the almost unwatchable “It’s Pat: The Movie”? Talk about a lot of wasted money and wasted time.
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Wednesday, March 13,2013

From Havana with love

'Chico & Rita' is a stylish, jazzy animated romance

by James Sanford
Wednesday, May 16 — It's not just love at first sight when musician Chico catches a glimpse of sultry songbird Rita in “Chico & Rita”: It's love at first sound, too. In a dingy bar in late-1940s Havana, Rita saunters onto the stage, wearing a form-fitting, butterscotch-yellow dress and a Mona Lisa smile. Seconds after she launches into a scintillating rendition of “Besame Mucho,” Chico's heart goes into orbit.
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Wednesday, March 13,2013

Endless Summer

More than the Queen of Disco, Donna Summer was a versatile vocalist who challenged her audience

by James Sanford
Thursday, May 17 — I cannot tell you where I was the first time I heard The Beatles’ “I Want to Hold Your Hand,” or Michael Jackson’s “Billie Jean,” or Nirvana’s “Smells Like Teen Spirit.” But I will always remember that day in May of 1979 when I was stuck at home with the flu, bundled up in bed and listening to WGRD-FM. The DJ excitedly announced he had just received the new Donna Summer single and promised something like “you’re gonna love this one!” Then he cued up “Hot Stuff” — and my little bedside radio practically exploded from the shock.
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Wednesday, March 13,2013

That sinking feeling

Brainless, offensive 'Battleship' should drive audiences to mutiny

by James Sanford
Ugh, those surplus brain cells! You try drinking them away, bashing your skull against a brick wall, but still your I.Q. remains in the triple digits. Can anything help reduce your mind to mush? Well, take heart: A screening of “Battleship” is practically a cinematic lobotomy.
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Wednesday, March 13,2013

It's raining Men in Black

Josh Brolin is a terrific addition to the team in a hit-or-miss sequel

by James Sanford
According to the Internet Movie Database, Will Smith's proposed upcoming projects include "Hancock II," "I, Robot II" and "Bad Boys III." That's two sequels to mediocre, utterly disposable films that were popular for a brief time and one follow-up to an unforgettably wretched movie that was immortalized (and mercilessly parodied) in Nick Frost and Simon Pegg's "Hot Fuzz." Perhaps, having missed out on Oscars for his dramatic work in "The Pursuit of Happyness" and "Seven Pounds" (the latter one of Smith's few box office underachievers), Smith has decided to spend the rest of his career at the recycling center.
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Wednesday, March 13,2013

Spotlight on Rob Roznowski

Michigan State University associate professor of acting receives Distinguished Professor of the Year award

by James Sanford
Wednesday, May 30 — Michigan State University associate professor of acting Rob Roznowski was named Michigan Distinguished Professor of the Year by the Presidents Council, State Universities of Michigan. The award recognizes an educator at one of Michigan’s 15 public universities who has been nominated by his or her peers for outstanding contributions through classroom work and advising.
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