August 1, 2005
TSe Aidiogan tilu
MR. A-Z CONTINUES MRAZ'S
By Chris Gaerig
Daily Arts Writer
MUSIC REVIEW i kAU
(Enter Jason Mraz into the office of an unnamed
Atlantic Records executive.)
Atlantic Records: Hey Mr. A-Z, long time no
see. I can hardly believe it's been five years since
Waiting For My Rocket to Come.
Jason Mraz: Mr. A-Z? What's that all about?
AR: Just something I thought was cute. Get it,
it's like ... never mind. I wrote it down figuring
you could use it on your next album. Speaking of
which, I hear you're recording another hot one.
JM: Well, I've been listening to my idols lately.
Barenaked Ladies, Maroon 5 - you know, the
classics. I really found a way to infuse their raw
energy and stellar arrangements with my unprec-
edented lyrical skills.
(Jason Mraz and the executive sit down
at a desk.)
JM: So my first single is called "Wordplay" and
I have to say, it's really something. I decided go
with the Barenaked Ladies' shtick - sing really
fast about really vacuous things - but the melody
and guitars are almost exactly the same as "The
Remedy (I Won't Worry)." It's funny because I
hide really ironic things into
the lyrics like, "are you listen-
ing to a single word I've said," Jason Mraz
and "is everybody ready for Mr. A-Z
the single." It's really quite Atlantic
clever. I figured we could fol-
low that track up with some-
thing mixed by a hip-hop producer. I was thinking
Scott Storch. He'd give me street cred. You know
he worked with Dr. Dre and Snoop Dogg?
AR: Uh, you don't really need street cred but
I really like where you're taking this. How about
we take his production skills and render them use-
less. Hell, why not go all the way. We'll name the
song something weird that all the kids can con-
nect with ... something like "Geek in the Pink."
Yeah, I like that (writes down song title).
JM: I just had the best idea! Why don't we
just change my style and sound completely on
every track on the album? Better yet, I'll just
mimic some contemporaries. How about San-
tana? He's really good, and I'd bet I could use
some Latin percussion or something. We'd have
to name it something sensual, like, say, "Beauti-
ful Moon" ... but it should be in Spanish. "Bella
Luna." Yes! But I am going to have to remove all
emotion and sub some stagnant guitar lines. All
that feeling, it just isn't me.
AR: Well, there really isn't any other artist out
there like you, you know. You're just an endless
fountain of musical innovation.
JM: Well, you know what they say, "the sopho-
more slump is an uphill battle."I've clearly already
overcome it. Clearly.
AR: See, this is what I am talking about! That's,
like, poetry on the spot.
JM: And I drop that line on the album too ...
it's all about the "Wordplay" (winks knowingly).
Well, those are all my ideas really. I figured we'd
just fill the rest of the record with some slow
songs or something. But who really cares about
those anyway, they won't be radio hits for sure.
I'll make sappy and pretentious song titles too
- you know, the ones that'll drive the tweens
crazy. I am thinking "Life Is Wonderful," "Mr.
Curiousity," "Plane." Stuff like that. I might
even begin the album with "Life Is Wonderful."
It's going to be so slow that the rest of the album
will just have to knock them off their feet.
AR: Well Mr. A-Z, you truly are one of a kind
(gets up to shake his hand). I'm so glad we'll be
releasing your next chart-topper!
Botched A.I. thriller wastes talented cast SUMMER ARTS.
By Imran Syed
Daily Arts Writer
OK so let's assume for a moment that
you are Rob Cohen, and you have just
Pictures into think-
ing that you are Stealth
qualified to direct At the Showcase
their $100 million and Quality 16
summer action flick Columbia
with a twist of moral-
ity, "Stealth." Then
you see that the script calls for three lead
actors, and you are given Jamie Foxx,
Jessica Biel and Josh Lucas. One's got
Academy Award-level talent, another is
an instant publicity stunt (just add water)
and the third is coming off indie glitz
aplenty and a highly coveted but uncred-
ited role in HBO's "Empire Falls."
The obvious choice is to cast the Oscar-
caliber talent in the lead. The second, less
logical but still relatively sane choice is to
cast the girl-next-door, ex-WB star in the
lead. Then you could cast the no-name
pretty boy from "Sweet Home Alabama"
ahead of Foxx and Biel, which, of course,
is the route that Cohen took, adding yet
another thing to tack onto the long list of
flaws that sink his film.
The hookey premise of "Stealth"
seems simple enough. There are three
highly trained, superhuman Navy pilots
who fly secret missions and kick major
butt. The trio is upstaged by the mili-
tary's constant need to push the limits of
technology: They bring into their midst a
fourth wingman, one who is completely
automatic. But wait, all is not well in
Pentagon land: The unmanned fighter
(curiously named Eddie) gets struck by
lightning and goes berserk, selecting and
destroying targets on its own and causing
many people of various ethnicities to run
and scream loudly all over the world.
The film doesn't so much borrow genre
elements as it makes them its foundation.
The whole "few chosen pilots" theme got
old somewhere between "Top Gun" and
"Independence Day." The idea of cut-
ting-edge technology evolving and thus
back-firing was at least explained in "I,
Robot." It's clear that Cohen cares more
about blowing stuff up and "hardcore"
rock music than explaining the moral
issues involved - but then again, what
do you expect from the guy that made
"xXx" and "The Fast and the Furious"?
In the lead, Lucas battles major inter-
nal issues throughout the film. He has
to make tough choices, look deep inside
himself, do what he thinks is right in the
face of his superiors and so forth. He
does an admirable job given the materi-
al but doesn't have the poster-boy talent
required for his role. Foxx, as is to be
expected, steals just about every scene
he's in with a mixture of subtlety and
mojo infused into some truly abysmal