Archive for December, 2012

21
Dec
12

Official Opinions: Tis the Season for holiday classics

Hang up those stockings by the chimney. Break out the hot cocoa and smother the ones you love with presents and warm fuzzies. One of the best things about being home for the holidays is being able to watch all those classic yuletide films, so here are a few of our favorites that we fa la la la love to watch around this time of year.

1. Elf – 2003
“I just like to smile, smiling is my favorite!” Honestly how could you not love a movie that features Will Ferrell in bright yellow tights and a green coat trying to be a 6’3″ elf in New York City. The Jaded New Yorkers mixed with Buddy the Elf’s hyper personality always leaves us with a grin just thinking about it.

2. Jingle All the Way – 1996

Ok, this is more a guilty pleasure than it is a fantastic holiday movie. There’s just something that gets to me when I see Arnold Schwarzenegger fighting for an action figure on Christmas eve. Also Sinbad is in this movie! Nothing gets better that JINGLE ALL THE WAY with these two.

3. A Christmas Story – 1983

It’s hard to miss this movie since TBS has made it their holiday tradition to show it for a solid 24 hours on Christmas day. But we aren’t complaining. Between you, me, the B.B. gun, and the leg lamp, I could literally watch this for 24 hours and still laugh every time Ralphie and his brother visit Santa at the mall. Ho Ho…Ho.

4. The Year Without a Santa Claus – 1974

It just wouldn’t be Christmas without at least one of those claymation movies from the ’70s. This one in particular sticks out in my mind because it wanders a bit too far into the realm of weird holiday movies. Santa gets a cold and takes a break from Christmas, so we end up with two weather brothers, Snow Miser and Heat Miser, who just won’t get along to let it snow in a southern town in the United States. It’s kind of complicated, but a classic nonetheless. Heck, Snow Miser’s song was even sung by Arnold Schwarzenegger when he played Mr. Freeze in the wonderfully terrible Batman & Robin. Check out the Miser’s intro songs.

5. Home Alone 1 & 2 – 1990 & 1992

AHHHH!

The season wouldn’t be complete until someone screams “Kevin!” at the top of her lungs in my household. We don’t have any relatives named Kevin, but this kid, “what the french call les incompetents,” and his holiday antics have been a tradition for as long as I can remember. It celebrates clever catch phrases, independence, family you can’t stand but still love, burglars and the incredible cleaning skills of a ten year old boy. Seriously, how did Kevin manage to set up all those traps by himself and then cover them all up in one day?

6. The Muppet Christmas Carol – 1992

A classic with a twist, this is one of the best versions of A Christmas Carol. Personally we love how The Muppets interpreted the story of Scrooge (an amazing Michael Caine) and his humbug Christmas ways. It’s narrated by Gonzo as Charles Dickens and includes some of our favorite Muppets playing the classic characters, like Kermit and Robin the Frog as Bob Cratchit & Tiny Tim, and the two old guys as Jacob (and Robert) Marley. (Fun fact: did you know their names are Statler and Waldorf?)  And don’t even get us started on the amazing singing!

7. It’s a Wonderful Life – 1946

This film has become a yuletide national treasure, and is counted among many people’s favorite films ever. Its moral is classic; you may not be wealthy or reach your original dreams, but you will never be a failure when you look at the friends and people whose lives you have touched. Enjoy the little things, love the people you’ve met and good things will come of it. Out of all the other holiday films I feel like this one really lets you think about the true value of the holidays. And you just can’t you resist James Stewart; that voice is amazing.

On that note, everyone at Stitely wishes you Happy Holidays and a great New Year! Take some time to enjoy the ones you love and maybe catch a few of these movies. We know we will.

19
Dec
12

Official opinions: a holiday playlist that’s not played out

QuestoBy this time in the season you may be tired of the same old holiday music. Never fear, Questlove and the 6th Floor Blog have some fun options to add a little soul to your celebration.

The 6th Floor is the blog of The New York Times Magazine, where staff members — editors, designers, writers, photo editors and researchers — share ideas, arguments, curiosities and links. In Monday’s post, they ask party professionals for some tips to make the most of your holiday soiree. They begin the article with Questlove of The Roots to help you make a holiday playlist that’s not played out. His suggestions include soulful gems like: “Back Door Santa” by Clarence Carter, “Boogaloo Santa Claus” by J.D. McDonald and his personal fav, “Santa Is a Black Man” by Akim and Teddy Vann. Says Questlove, “It’s like an updated version of “I Saw Mommy Kissing Santa Claus.” Check ’em out below:

“Back Door Santa”

Boogaloo Santa Claus:

And last, but not least, “Santa Is a Black Man”

17
Dec
12

official opinions: Happy Haitian Holidays!

On Saturday December 8 my choir (“Chicago’s choir”), the Wicker Park Choral Singers, debuted our holiday concert, It Takes A Village. While the whole program was filled with fantastic music, two of my favorite songs to sing were by Haitian composers. Written in Creole, these songs incorporated a number of percussive elements derived from the sounds of traditional Haitian instruments, syncopated rhythms, and A LOT of multicultural flair. Here’s a nice write-up from OurUrbanTimes.com about Saturday’s performance and click here for program notes to give you more info about the pieces. Check out the concert recordings below and enjoy!

“Twa Tanbou” by Sydney Guillaume

“Noel Ayisyen” by Emile Desamours

Cheers and Happy Holidays!
Rachel

14
Dec
12

official opinions: Cool Covers with A Fresh Twist

For those of you out there who are looking for some fresh music, why not check out these cover songs for a new take on your already-faves?

Annex - Presley, Elvis_08“Can’t Help Falling in Love” – Ingrid Michaelson covering Elvis Presley
-Ingrid offers a compelling and delicate take on this crooner’s classic love song.

“Fell in Love with a Boy” – Joss Stone covering the White Stripes
-Joss really knows how to take things down a notch, in a good way!

“Everyday” – Fiona Apple covering Buddy Holly
-You can find this song on the recently released album “Rave On Buddy Holly” that includes Buddy Holly covers by a variety of wonderful artists.

“Your Song” – Ellie Goulding covering Elton Johnellie
-Ellie’s voice is great for this song, which as most of you probably know, has also been covered by actor Ewan McGregor in the popular movie “Moulin Rouge.”

“No One’s Gonna Love You” – Cee Lo Green covering Band of Horses
-Cee Lo’s voice is so different from Band of Horses, I just couldn’t help but put this song on the list!

“Pursuit of Happiness” – Lissie covering Kid Cudi
-Who would have thought?

“Where Is My Mind” – Trampled By Turtles covering The Pixies
-The Pixies meet Bluegrass.

But wait, there’s more! You can find a ton of cover songs videotaped by Chicago’s own A.V. Club. Search their Youtube channel for videos from their A.V. Undercover project, in which artists take a stab at originals from Otis Redding to M.I.A.

12
Dec
12

Official Opinions: The food that smothers you in love

Besides family, friends, music and gifts, one of the most important holiday elements is food. The main meal is what ties everything together as we all smile after a great meal, so here’s a big family favorite with a twist. I come from a mainly Irish/Scottish/German family but we’ve recently added a flair of Maltese culture to the family mix. So break out the fork and knife, here’s how you make a Maltese Lasagna.

Enjoy!
~Cassie J. Stewart~

WARNING: This isn’t your average everyday layer by layer lasagna. Oh no, this is the king of lasagnas. Be prepared to have leftovers. It’s the Maltese way.

Maltese Lasagna

Cheese and meat goodness

Supposedly for a 14″ pan that’s 4″ deep

Ingredients:

Parmesan                                         1 big bottle
Shredded   Mozzarella                   1 pounds
Onions                                              6 big onions
Garlic                                                3 big garlic cloves
Tomatoes                                         8 tomatoes
Paprika                                             small Bottle
Parsley                                              A medium fresh bushel
Salt                                                    small bottle
Pepper                                              small bottle
Nutmeg                                            small bottle
Whole milk                                      1  gallon
Flower                                              1 pound, all purpose flower
Butter                                               1 medium sized container-  spreadable
Ground meat- chicken or beef    1 or 2 pounds
Barilla lasagna (pre-boiled)        5 boxes
Canned tomato sauce                   1 big can
Foil                                                   1 box

Directions:
Step 1:
Peal and slice all the onions, tomatoes, parsley and garlic!

Step 2:
(A) Using a deep pot,  put some olive oil or butter with the onions and garlic . Let the onions and garlic cook until they are adequately done. Make sure you stir regularly (but not too much) to prevent the onions from sticking to the bottom of the pan.

(B) In another pot put the ground beef or chicken (Your choice) and cook until it is adequately done.  Remember to stir but don’t over stir.

Step 3:
(A) When the onions and the garlic are ready, add the tomatoes, tomato sauce (not too much sauce, remember the fresh tomatoes have already added some sauce) and the cooked beef/chicken to the deep pot with onions and stir!

(B) Add paprika, parsley (fresh), dashes of salt & pepper and continue stirring.

(C) put the flame on low and let it simmer while you start working on the white sauce. (remember to stir regularly to prevent it from burning)

Step 4:
(A) Put all the milk in a deep pot and  get a whisk.

(B) Put the flame on low/medium and continuously stir without stopping until the milk is hot. (do not stop stirring)

(C) turn the flame off  for the red sauce and let it sit for a while.

(D). When the milk is relatively hot, slowly start adding a spoon of flour at a time and stir.  Every time you add a spoon of flour make sure you  stir until it dissolves before you add another one.

(E) When milk starts to feel adequately thick, stop adding flour.

Remember! Don’t add to much flour!

(F) Add some nutmeg to the mix (not too much). Then turn off the flame and keep stirring for 5 to 10 minutes until  it starts to thicken. Let it simmer with the flame off.

Step 5
(A) Lather the pans you are going to use with butter, don’t be shy about it.

(B) Put the red sauce, white sauce, Parmesan and mozzarella next to the buttered pans in preparation.

(C) Pre-heat the oven at 450

Step 6
The Layering process:

(1) Lasagna sheet
(2) red sauce
(3) white sauce
(4) mozzarella
(5) Parmesan

Repeat until you reach the top of the pan, make sure the  very top is the  mozzarella and Parmesan cheese, not the lasagna sheet.

Also, do not overflow the dish. It is better to put one layer less, that way it will not over flow in the oven.

Step 7
When you are done layering, place a piece of foil on the dish and place it in the oven. Check it every 15 minutes. You will know it is ready by taking a butter knife and putting it through the layers. If it goes through without any pressure then the lasagna is ready.

Remove the foil and put the the flame on broiler. Let the top burn a little, not too much then take out of the oven and let it cool down.

Serve with family and friends, and you probably will still have enough leftovers for 2-3 more nights.

10
Dec
12

Official Opinions: The Macklemore the merrier

So we’ve come back around to another Monday. Hopefully your weekend was as great as ours! Today, Stitely wanted to share with you a rising hip hop artist named Macklemore and one of his hit songs this year “Same Love”. Macklemore, also known by is real name Ben Haggerty grew up in Seattle, Washington and has been releasing music independently since 2000 but has only recently gained a strong following from the mainstream music world. Since teaming up with producer Ryan Lewis in 2010 the two have gained popularity through the web and have thus far accumulated over 41 million hits on Youtube.

Macklemore

Don’t worry, he can take the heat.

“Same Love” deals with same sex marriage and rejecting homophobia as a norm promoted within the culture and genre of hip hop and life in general. The message to get across from Macklemore’s song is that love is unconditional. Love is everywhere. Love heals the things that we thought were broken. It take’s a lot of courage for a straight rapper to call out his own industry for its irrational fears.

For having that strength to stand for what is right, we salute you Macklemore. Your positive messages in the rest of your music shows that you’re deeper than the average rapper. And you have a sense of humor as well?! (Check out Thrift Shop; it’s awesome.) It’s people like Macklemore that make Stitely proud to be a part of Stand Up.

“We press play/ Don’t press pause/ Progress, march on!”

07
Dec
12

Official Opinions: Docs that Rock Take 2

A few weeks ago Stitely gave you some of the most famous music documentaries and rockumentaries that changed the way we see music. This week, we’re giving you some of our personal favorite music documentaries!

1. When You’re Strange – 2009 by Tom DiCillo

This documentary exploded on to the film festival circuit when it first appeared at Sundance claiming it was going to tell the real story of The Doors which was a direct reference and remark back to the 1991 biopic about the Doors staring Val Kilmer as Jim Morrison.The documentary looks at archived footage from all the band members and brings out a truer sense of how everyone’s minds worked in the The Doors than what was featured in Oliver Stone’s 1991 biopic. Sorry Val, this one got a Grammy and was nominated for an Emmy.

Choose a disc by hairstyle

Choose a disc by hairstyle

2. The Beatles Anthology – 1995 by Geoff Wonfor

This 8 episode disc set features anything and everything you can think of as a Beatles fan. Going chronologically each disc represents a different time in The Beatles life and style choices. It’s a must see for Beatles junkies and relaxing long strokes of pure musical genius for everyone else. The only problem with this documentary of the performances of the Beatles is it’s so long there’s no way to watch all 8 episodes of the band’s life in one sitting. This is a multi-day challenge.

3. Flight 666 – 2009 by Sam Dunn

Metal music is awesome, it’s a known fact that metal fans are some of the most die hard fans out there in the music world. The concerts are gigantic and the band have all kinds of wild dreams to make their fans go crazy. The grandfather of metal rock, Iron Maiden is still in the game of music tours and they are still coming up with new ways to showcase their music. This documentary follows Iron Maiden band mates around as they figure out how to pull off their tour around the world with some concerts on a 747. That’s right, concert, mid-flight, flown by one of the band mates, because why not have a pilot’s license as well as being a metal god? It’s an interesting ride as they prep for their concerts and how they really pull off this stunt.

4. Marley – 2012 by Kevin MacDonald

The most recent of the documentaries on our list is all about Bob Marley, his family and the music he shared with the world. By interviewing his family and retelling the story of Jamaica’s pride hitting the big time in the music business everyone gains a new and better understanding of the man behind the movement of reggae.

Look at these Gods

Look at these Gods

5. This is Spinal Tap – 1984 by Rob Reiner

We saved the best for last. Technically, this isn’t a Rockumentary. Instead it’s a mockumentary of a rockumentary. Meaning it’s fake, but the film runs its show so closely to the real thing it could pass as the real deal. The movie follows rock group Spinal Tap claimed to be ‘the world’s loudest band’ around on an American comeback tour. Like many rockumentaries there is scandal, crisis and of course performances and music. Music so awesome and loud they go to 11.

05
Dec
12

Official opinions: WPCS- Chicago’s choir. Your choir. Our concert

Everyone knows that the holiday season would just not be the same without music. This Saturday, December 8 at 3 p.m. the Wicker Park Choral Singers deliver fun, high-quality choral music in their upcoming winter concert “It Takes a Village.” This performance will take place at Wicker Park Lutheran Church, 1502 N. Hoyne Ave., Chicago, and as always, the concert is free and open to the public.

As the Nigerian Igbo proverb says, “Ora na-azu nwa,” which translates to, “It takes a village to raise a child.” Join WPCS for international folk songs, modern compositions, and holiday arrangements all relating to the theme of community. Featured works include “The Promise of Living” (Copland); “Walk Together Children” (Hogan); Haitian “Twa Tanbou” (Guillaume), and Kenyan “Wana Baraka” (Kirchner).

Garfield Park's "Voices of the Season"

Garfield Park Conservatory’s “Voices of the Season”

“Five years ago, WPCS began as a community dedicated to the appreciation and performance of choral music,” said Mark Tomasino, president and artistic director of WPCS. “It took the dedication of each member in this community — this village — to grow WPCS into what it is today. The strength of the organization and the refinement of its artistic merit has never been more evident than in this season’s repertoire.”

Here are a couple of sneak peaks of Saturday’s holiday program, including the song serving as inspiration for its theme, “It Takes a Village” by Joan Szymko.

“Noel Ayisyen” (Haitian Noel)

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Caroling at the Garfield Park Conservatory

WPCS already kicked off its holiday festivities at Garfield Park Conservatory‘s “Voices of the Season” program this past Sunday.  In addition to their two live performances in December, WPCS has been invited to perform on Live from WFMT, the acclaimed weekly concert series produced and aired on 98.7WFMT, Chicago’s preeminent classical music station. Tune in to the FM station on Monday, December 10 at 8 p.m. to listen to this special recital.

Want to learn more about WPCS? Click here for an entertaining account of the group’s history.

03
Dec
12

Official Opinions: Thinkin’ Bout who?…You know.

Happy Monday everyone! Happy December! Time has just flown by this year but we wanted to take a moment to think about what’s really important. Yes, we were thinking about you. More specifically Frank Ocean‘s “Thinkin’ Bout You”. To get even more into the nitty gritty we were thinking back to SNL earlier this year where Frank Ocean was the musical guest and John Mayer joined up with the talented R&B singer songwriter to play guitar for both musical numbers. Sigh. What a handsome team.

Frank Ocean

Shh he’s reached Zen

Ocean’s song has been everywhere this year and for good reason, his first debut studio album Channel Orange came out this year in July and has spread like wild fire across the radio, internet and every which way. In addition to being widely successful with his debut album, he is also a member of the hip hop collective OFTGKTA more commonly known as Odd Future.

A soft spoken man with a voice of an angel. We’ll take it. Also it’s been said that Beyonce Knowles cried the first time she listened to this track. True or not, you have to admit you can’t blame her. Here at Stitely we feel the same way. We all agreed, he’s an artist we all love.




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