Tuesday, April 17, 2018


Almost two years ago, in late 2016, the music world may have been in the mood to drop their collective jaws when news came that singer-songwriter Bob Dylan was awarded the Nobel Prize for Literature, the first songwriter to become a Nobel Laureate. Granted, he was credited as “poet” where his songs were concerned, but it was still an epic surprise. This year, it appears a repeat of sorts is happening with a recent announcement. True, the Pulitzer Prize may have a specific category for Music, but it was unexpected to learn that its 2018 recipient will be Kendrick Lamar.
The New York Times reports that rapper Kendrick Lamar was awarded the 2018 Pulitzer Prize for Music this Monday, April 16. His win, for his recent rap album “DAMN”, can be considered historical as being the first music Pulitzer awardee who was not a classical or jazz artist. Indeed, it can be considered a definitive moment for the hip hop scene. “DAMN” was described by the Pulitzer board in its citation as “a virtuosic song collection unified by its vernacular authenticity and rhythmic dynamism that offers affecting vignettes capturing the complexity of modern African-American life.” For rap, that is epic.
It should be noted that while Lamar’s “DAMN” won Best Rap Album earlier this January in the 60th Grammy Awards, many felt that it too should have won Album of the Year, making that the third straight time the commercially and critically acclaimed rapper managed to get nominated for that top category and not take it. In that regard, the Pulitzer Prize for Music is a humongous victory for Lamar’s album, and Pulitzer Prize administrator Dana Canedy agrees that it was the right timing for such a win, a big moment for both hip-hop and the Pulitzers in her viewpoint.
Aside from the Prize itself, Kendrick Lamar also received a $15,000 award from the Pulitzers for “DAMN”, a decision described by Canedy as unanimous on the part of the selection board. The artist did not get to comment on his achievement, though his Top Dawg Entertainment label’s record executive Terrence “Punch” Henderson, wrote on Twitter about Lamar’s Pulitzer that “nobody should speak with nothing less than respect [for him]” from that time on. Lamar now joins the ranks of other Music Pulitzer winners of the past like George Gershwin, Hank Williams, Thelonious Monk, Duke Ellington, and even Bob Dylan himself.
Everything has been awesome for Lamar this year. In addition to “DAMN”, he also worked as curator at director Ryan Coogler’s invitation for the official soundtrack of music from and inspired by Marvel Studios’ superhero film “Black Panther”, to which one of his contributions was “All the Stars” featuring SZA.
Photo courtesy of ABC

SEGA Follows Nintendo MINI-CONSOLES with 30th Anniversary MEGA DRIVE MINI

One has to applaud the brilliant yet childlike and playful creative minds at Nintendo for their lineup of interestingly popular videogame concepts. It was they who kick-started the direction-motion-sensing control scheme thing with its remote controller in 2006, and in 2017 they blurred the line between home console and portable with its hybrid Switch system. But aside from pushing the envelope of future gaming, Nintendo has had an appreciation for classics, as its Classic Mini Editions of the old NES and SNES consoles show. Their old rival Sega seems to have gotten a clue, judging from its latest gadget announcement.
IGN reports that Sega, which had long given up its own videogame hardware development years ago to focus on software, surprised some people (and cause others perhaps to think “it’s about time”) during their annual celebratory Sega FES event. At one point the emcee stood at the stage with a familiar, if smaller-sized, object in his hands. It was a black slab, with radiator grills to the side, a circular area with a cartridge slot, and the words “16-BIT” on top. Yes, Sega has gone and developed the Sega Mega Drive Mini, a scaled-down version of their most famous console.
Photos of the FES presentation, plus a close-up of the console itself, soon spread online after they were posted on Sega’s official Twitter page. And that was pretty much it, perhaps to the disappointment of readers who used to play on the venerable old console decades ago. Aside from the sneak peek, no detailed information was released on the Mega Drive Mini, and what exactly it can do aside from these facts. It will carry a selection of classic games and will be released in time to celebrate the 30th anniversary of the original Sega Mega Drive (or Genesis stateside).
Granted, Sega had in the past licensed third-party developers to create authorized clones of the old Mega Drive. One such result was the US-released Genesis Flashback by AtGames, which also made retro consoles for an even older videogame giant, Atari. This time around however, Sega is looking to emulate Nintendo’s runaway success with retro consoles by doing the same small-scale updated audio-visual connections done by the NES and SNES Classic Mini Editions. AtGames also intimated that their hardware is the driving force inside the upcoming Mega Drive Mini. Right now it seems only a matter of time before Sega announces a Mini Genesis version for the US market, but for the moment, the Mega Drive mini is for Japan only.
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Iconic “DRILL SARGE” Character Actor R. LEE ERMEY from “FULL METAL JACKET”, DEAD at 74

In 1987 Stanley Kubrick’s war film “Full Metal Jacket” premiered in cinemas to critical and audience acclaim. One of the highlights of the movie, set during the Vietnam War, is the character of Marine drill instructor, Gunnery Sgt. Hartmann, portrayed by retired Marine Sergeant R. Lee Ermey. His performance became the standard by which all subsequent “nasty drill sergeant” character archetypes are measured against. It also translated into an acting career for Ermey in film and TV, where he hosted shows on the History Channel. But all things come to an end; and so it was with Ermey, aged 74.
As The New York Times tells it, R. Lee Ermey passed away on Sunday, April 15, due to complications following a bout of pneumonia, at a hospital in Santa Monica, California. His death was reported to the public by his manager Bill Rogin. So ends the colorful career of the drill sergeant-turned celebrity actor, who joined the US Marine Corps and served from 1961 to 1972, serving as drill instructor and later on the ground in Vietnam towards the latter years of the war there. Following his medical discharge, Ermey went to college until being cast in “Apocalypse Now” (1979).
That was the beginning of his career in showbiz, where he either portrayed soldier characters on-camera, or served as technical expert behind the scenes. Originally brought into “Full Metal Jacket” by director Stanley Kubrick as a tech advisor, his “instructional video” of how a drill sergeant would talk to recruits led to Ermey being cast as the film character himself. His role in the movie earned him a Supporting Role nomination in the 1988 Golden Globes. Ermey engaged in an acting career spanning 60 films like “Se7en” and the “Toy Story” films (as the voice of the Army Men sergeant).
In light of his in-film military character roles being lauded as supportive of Americans in service and as befitting an unofficial public ambassador for the USMC, R. Lee Ermey became the first person in the corps to be promoted post-retirement, becoming an Honorary Gunnery Sergeant as ordered by the Marine Corps Commandant at the time. He thus became a “Gunny” in fiction and truth, leading up to his stint as host on “Mail Call” and “Lock N’ Load with R. Lee Ermey”, both for the History Channel. His larger-than-life tough image conceals a gentle and affectionate family man in private.
Ermey is survived by two brothers, his wife Nila, whom he affectionately called “Mrs. Gunny”, their four children, and their grandchildren as well as great-grandchildren.
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