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PostHeaderIcon Michael Jackson Movie, a Thriller

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Why did I see the Michael Jackson movie “This Is It”? Two reasons: the music and this mysterious person named Orianthi. I had never heard of Ori, as she is called, but the buzz on the movie Web site said she is one of the best female guitarists of all time. I had to find out.

I saw this film early on a Saturday evening and the crowd was small but really into it. I was really into it. The documentary is about the making of Jackson’s elaborate summertime stage show that never took place because of the 50-year-old’s untimely death.

The film completely surpassed my expectations, both in terms of the performances captured during rehearsals, and the insights it provided into the creative process of a man who still had nearly all the talent and musical ability he displayed twenty years ago.

The film focuses on Jackson as he rehearses and refines his show on stage. It is not watered down with a lot of interviews from the supporting cast, as I had feared. It is edited so that the audience effectively gets to see a series of complete, uninterrupted songs. It’s almost like you are part of a small, private concert.

One of the things that really impressed me was how in control Jackson was. You can feel the tension increase as he instructs his music director about how to refine his keyboarding style and sound. Jackson is instructive but non-threatening. It’s clear that the king of pop knows what he wants and how to get it.

The movie shows that several new music videos were to be played behind the pop icon as he performed on stage. The videos are included in the movie and one of my favorites puts Jackson in an old black-and-white movie where he is nearly gunned down by one of the most well-known actors of all time, and after flirting with a few well-known actresses of the same era. I won’t spoil it by telling you their names.

In the movie, Jackson dances, twists, shakes his head and struts with such agility that he doesn’t just keep up with the back up dancers-- who are the best of the best in the world --he leads them. I was awed by his talent, and surprised that he really still had it.

So what about Orianthi, that great female guitarist?  She is among the best, and played a few very impressive solos on camera. This film is currently playing at the Cerrito Theater, one of my favorite theaters in the East Bay. It is still fairly new and small, and has couches and tables and a variety of food and beverages. It's also close to BART. "This Is It" is playing at the Cerrito Theater (www.cerritotheater.org) but not for long. Check it out.--MA

Markus Allen is a Bay Area writer and now the owner of the "This is It" soundtrack.

Last Updated (Monday, 04 October 2010 18:56)


PostHeaderIcon Set a Guiness World Record on Halloween; Everyone's Doing It, Even the Zombies.

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Ever thought about trying to set a Guinness World Record?

People do it everyday – even on holidays. And thousands of people across the world are shattering records in celebration of the spookiest of holidays – Halloween.

"Halloween inspires some of the most creative record-attempts we see at Guinness World Records,” said Stuart Claxton, a spokesperson for Guinness World Records. “People love the idea of doing something outside the norm, and Halloween gives everyone the perfect opportunity to submit some of most extreme, creative and unique record applications we receive all year.”

Think you want to give it a try?

Here’s what you’re up against:

• On Sept. 12, 2009 some folks in Fort Worth, Texas set the “longest walk though a horror house” record by setting up the 2261.08 foot long Cutting Edge Haunted House.

• Zombies seem to be everywhere these days and in the United Kingdom, 4,026 people dressed as zombies gathered at a festival in August to set a world record for the “largest gathering of zombies.”

• Four years ago on Halloween day, 965 students in Scarborough, Ontario Canada set the record for “most people carving pumpkins simultaneously.”  I bet the town of Half Moon Bay, with all their pumpkin patches,   could take a stab at breaking that record.

• American Stephen Clark holds the record for “fastest time to carve one pumpkin,” by making that pumpkin into a jack-o'-lantern in a record 24.03 seconds.

Think that’s impressive? Check out Clark’s other record: last Halloween he carved 50 pumpkins in Times Square in New York in one hour for a promotion for Scholastic’s  "Goosebumps" book series. You guess it, he holds the “most pumpkins carved in one hour.” Have a safe and Happy Halloween. --KB

Last Updated (Wednesday, 12 May 2010 01:32)


PostHeaderIcon Do taste test, get free Starbucks coffee

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Starbucks is giving away free coffee through Monday. And the best part about it --- there's no catch and no lines.

OK, maybe there is a small catch. Starbucks is pushing its new VIA Ready Brew.  Yes, it's instant coffee, but you can have it in a meeting, at the game, on red-eye flight on a business trip, their advertisement says. You can mix it with hot or cold water, hot or cold milk or put it over ice.

So, I headed to the Starbucks near Blackhawk plaza to do my taste test. The barista gave me two Espresso-sized coffee cups with a splash of black brew in each. I sipped the first one and then the second. I made my guess. Wrong. But I still got a coupon for a free, tall brewed coffee on my next visit.

I'm not good with failure and wanted to try again so I headed to the Starbucks in downtown Danville. This time I nailed it and the barista gave me my free, tall brewed coffee on the spot. Starbucks is doing the taste tests through Monday, Oct. 5 at participating stores.

And no one says you can't visit more than one Starbucks in one day. Have fun

UPDATE: Just found out from a reader that Starbucks is also encouraging customers to buy boxes of their new instant coffee for $3 to send ot the troops along with a personal message. -- KB

Last Updated (Friday, 09 October 2009 18:48)

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