The Persistent Divide

CD Baby
Street: 03.23
Ayin = Linkin Park + Incubus

For a debut album, The Persistent Divide delivers in ways that most new bands just can’t. High production values and a close attention to detail are apparent in every facet of this album. Past that, Ayin’s CD just doesn’t hold up against many of today’s full length records. Even for the experimental / prog rock genre, I consistently felt that the lyrics were trite and overdrawn, almost all seeming to deal with the typical topics of love, drugs and demons. Even the overall sound of the album grew tiresome as the tracks went on, with no particular song outshining the others. As the final piano key was struck, I still felt as if I had heard it all before.

Wild Women of Wongo
The Film Stars

Shout! Factory
Street: 09.11

Mike Nelson. Bill Corbett. Kevin Murphy. Names sound familiar? That’s because they are the stars in front of the big screen in Mystery Science Theater 3000. Now, they’ve returned as The Film Crew, hilariously criticizing some of the worst films to grace the silver screen. Beyond that, there’s really nothing new here. The humor’s essentially the same, as are the voices and jokes. If you like a group of wise-cracking old guys making fun of really, really bad movies, then go buy this. If you liked MST3K, then go buy this. If you hate all of the above, this probably isn’t for you. -Ross Solomon

Barry Cooper’s Never Get Busted Again Vol. 1: Traffic Stops
Barry Cooper
The Disinformation Company
Street: 10.30

Going far past the traditional “Legalize it, man” approach to pro-activism, Barry Cooper has done a marvelous job with the first in his series, Barry Cooper’s Never Get Busted Again. Being an ex-drug cop, he shows videos of him busting marijuana users/traffickers, points out exactly how the victims could have gotten out of being busted, and in general gives heaps of useful information. Places to hide your stash are outlined in great deal and the generally racist and profiling mind of a cop is explored. There’s even an entire chapter dedicated to avoiding drug-sniffing dogs. Sure, this movie is great to watch with your friends and a blunt of epic proportions, but the information you may gain could save you from years in pound-me-in-the-ass prison. -Ross Solomon

Escape to Canada
Albert Nerenberg

The Disinformation Company Ltd.
Street: 05.22

I don’t think I have ever cringed so often during a documentary in my entire life. No, not because there was shocking material presented in a thought-provoking way, but instead because of the absolutely absurd ties between marijuana and gay marriage, hilariously terrible and over-the-top transitions, and a narrator that reminds me of none other than a half-baked William Shatner. No less than two or three times every ten minutes, something that I would consider common knowledge would be presented along with ridiculously over-dramatic music, slow motion, and lightning striking a random mountain in the background to illustrate something that wasn’t even remotely shocking. That, along with the random transitions from gay marriage to marijuana that just didn’t make any sense at all, made this movie seem like far more of a joke than anything else. -Ross Solomon

The War Tapes
Deborah Scranton

Docurama Films
Street: 05.15

Presented by actual soldiers on the front line, The War Tapes does an excellent job bringing out some of the truly gruesome details of the Iraqi War. Showing actual footage of anything from soldiers being shot and killed by enemy fire, to car bombs, to Iraqi civilians being torn limb from limb, the “shock factor” is ever-present in this film. Surprisingly, it is all done tastefully, and does an excellent job opening the viewers eyes to some of the true horrors of the Iraq War. This documentary is certainly required viewing for anyone wanting to expand their knowledge of the war, as well as to gain a new perspective from soldiers’ first hand accounts of what is happening, while it is happening. -Ross Solomon

Blessed by Fire
Tristán Bauer

Koch Lorber Films
Street: 07.17

Based on the war surrounding the ownership of the Malvinas Islands, Tristán Bauer delivers an amazing film and a truly moving and entertaining war movie experience. Focusing on the sheer brutality the Argentinian soldiers faced during this war, Blessed by Fire switches constantly from the shell-shocked current day life of Edgardo Esteban to flash backs of when he was at war. Constantly I found my emotions being toyed with in ways most movies just can’t seem to capture. Even though the focus of this movie is on a war that most people have never heard of, the excellent cinematography and writing will move almost anyone. This film is most certainly one of the better foreign films of the last decade, and even rivals American classics such as Full Metal Jacket. -Ross Solomon

South Park and Philosophy
South Park and Philosophy

Open Court Publishing Company
Street: 03.01

For nearly a decade now, South Park has yet to fail the general American populous with the pointed political satire of Matt Stone and Trey Parker. Sure, it started out as a method for testing the patience of the FCC with cutting-edge fart jokes, anal probes and ice cream, but in recent years the show has evolved into something more. But is the show really any deeper than political commentary and Oprah’s neglected vagina? Richard Hanley, associate professor of philosophy at the University of Delaware, seems to think so. At least, that was what I was expecting when I began to read South Park and Philosophy. Unfortunately, what is disguised as a professional of philosophy’s opinion on the controversial show, proved to be nothing more than the author’s nostalgic meanderings on his favorite parts of the show, with only bits and pieces of actual insightful information. Sure, the book is witty and does look at South Park, but it fails to bring any sort of philosophy into the picture that is anything beyond the obvious. –Ross Solomon