Beauty and the Best

Some Thoughts on Attending Comic Con (based on '14 Experience)

blogEntryTopperThis is my third year straight at Comic Con, thanks to a friend who works in the games industry. For those of you attending next year, here are my thoughts:

1. Book your hotel early and make sure it is one of the hotels close to the convention center (Hilton Bayfront, Omni, Marriot). The reason for this is that there is so much going on at Comic Con, you can easily forget something and wanna return. You do not want this to be a hassle.

2. Research before you go. Don't wait to attend to try to figure out what's cool and what you wanna see. It's way too overwhelming for that. So figure out which panels you want to attend and which toys or cool t-shirts you want to get at least a week before attending. Not everything that's hot requires waiting in a long line, but it does require pinpoint focus on the first day.

3. Get in shape/be ready. Bring good walking shoes - the floor is grueling.

4. Bring business cards and be prepared to interact. You'd be amazed who you can run into at Comic Con, from celebrities to your favorite artist to some super cute girl in cosplay. People tend to be in groups and on the go, so you'll need to act fast if you see an opportunity to connect with someone.

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New Hosts Jenny & Gracie Coming Soon to AGT

Jenny Gracie Combined PromoIMG_2978-Jenny-Gracie-Promo2

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"Under the Skin" Will Get Under Yours

blogEntryTopper*SPOILERS* “Under the Skin” is a creepy new sci fi offering from “Sexy Beast” director Jonathan Glazer. Not since “Alien” have I seen anything so bizarre on screen. You can’t look away because the movie is so strange and unpredictable, it commands you to keep watching. In short, the film is about a pair of aliens, a woman, played by Scarlett Johansson, and her male counterpart. They harvest human skin and use it to pretend to look like us. Specifically, Johansson’s character lures unsuspecting men back to her unusually dark apartment, and, using nothing more than the promise of sex with her, traps them in a dark, viscous fluid that she can walk on, but they sink into. For the
first couple of trappings we only see the victims slip slowly into the liquid. But in one of the more disturbing encounters, the director gives us the perspective of the victim from inside the pernicious liquid as he watches Scarjo cavalierly walk across it, pick up her clothes, and leave. What he sees while in that gooey substance will chill you to the bone. There isn’t much gore in this movie, but the little there is is used quite effectively.

The other thing that was impressive to me about this movie, in addition to how well it is shot, is how the director does a lot with just suggestions. In one troubling scene, a couple drown at sea while their baby wails on the shore. Johansson’s character surveys the tragedy impassively, paying no mind to the crying baby on the shore.

But Johansson is not without some emotion, and when she falls on the street and is helped by strangers, she starts to reconsider her predatory ways. While on the prowl she encounters a severely deformed man who is very withdrawn. For some reason, Johansson has sympathy for this man and releases him from her trap. But this sets off a chain of events that leads to her being hunted down by the male alien. In her effort to escape, the movie slows down briefly has Johansson falls in with a human who gives her shelter and eventually tries to have sex with her (an unsuccessful endeavor). She flees his home and runs into the woods, only to encounter a human predator of a different flavor. The hunter becomes the hunted. Oddly, I actually had sympathy for this cruel alien by the end.

It’s a fascinating film and one I give a high recommend to, although I understand its art house trappings are not for everyone.

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What Do AGT and Elvira Have in Common? Quite a Lot

blogEntryTopperTwo decades ago - a lifetime to some of y’all - there used to be a campy TV show called “Elvira's Movie Macabre” with a sexy host named, naturally, Elvira aka Cassandra Peterson. This sharp-tongued temptress would dedicate the show to B-grade horror movies. It was on the air for five seasons and developed quite a fan base. The show’s gimmick was simple: no one watched it for the horror movies -- they watched it for the super sexy and somewhat funny host.

Unfortunately, Elvira’s show does not really stand the test of time. It’s a bit corny and boring by today’s fast paced, reality show standards. But no one invents the fire or the wheel. AGT has always been premised on the Elvira formula. So when you see the comments - “This is not about making jeans!” - well, well... they may just be onto something.

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Mr. Little Jeans - "Pocketknife"

Monica Birkenes
I first took note of Monica Birkenes aka Mr. Little Jeans when I heard the remix of The Rescue Song (not on this CD) in the movie “Celeste & Jesse Forever.” Birkenes has a lilting, wispy voice that is evocative of beautiful things; she sings in a way that reminds you of a modern nursery rhyme (see chorus on “Valentine” ). Her vocals are put to good use on “Pocketknife.” Several of the songs will stick with you long after you get out of the car. But there’s also a superficial element to this music that may limit repeat listens. Want to hear a real guitar or snare drum? Good luck, because it feels to me like most of this album was created on a synthesizer or computer.

Mr. Little Jeans put some of these songs out as singles long before this CD was released, so for those who have been following her only 50% of this album feels truly new. With that said, the songs that caught my attention are as follows: “Good Mistake,” “Haunted,” “Mercy” (reprisal in track 13 is best), “Valentine,” and “Heaven Sent.” Of the songs previously released, I forgot how good “Runaway” is. I’m not crazy about the original release of Rescue Song, but the RAC remix remains my all time favorite Mr. Little Jeans song.

Bottom line: Strong Recommend! There’s a lot of hooky, original sounding music here.

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Social Casino Games are Among the Bestselling Games

Casino games are underrated

Casino Image
In the latest report by mobile trends analyst Distimo, social casino games on both iOS and Android platforms reign supreme in terms of monthly active users and daily downloads. The company said that the strength of mobile casino games are being downplayed by experts despite the number of players that access those games every day.

According to Distimo AppIQ, the company’s analytics tool, social casino games amount to 20 percent of games downloaded via the iOS App Store and 19 percent from Google Play. Furthermore, the top-ranking casino apps on both platforms were published by some of the biggest names in the mobile gaming industry.
While both platforms enjoy a fair share of huge online casino games, there has been a discrepancy in terms of revenue generated by the two mobile operating systems. The report from Distimo further documented that creators tend to generate more revenue from iOS social casino games as opposed to their Android counterparts. One example is DoubleDown Casino, the social casino arm of game provider IGT. According to statistics, 75 percent of DoubleDown Casino’s revenue comes from iOS players who spend money on virtual chips, while only 25 of their total earnings are from Android smartphone users.

Growth shows no signs of slowing down

While social casino games are underrated in terms of exposure yet garner more players than other genres of smartphone games, the trends say that they will be here for years to come. In a report by International Casino News, Caesars Interactive Entertainment it was documented that there was a stunning growth of 82 percent in their Q1 revenues as opposed to Q1 last year. The news attributed the growth to the acquisition of social casino game providers Pacific Interactive and Playtika in the course of a year, further boosting the competition in providing more social casino games in the market.

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AGT Gets Invited to YouTube Space LA!

So today my business partner and I went through the orientation process for YouTube Los Angeles studios. Once you have 10,000 subscribers (we have nearly 20,000) and go through the orientation process, you are able to use the YouTube facilities to shoot your videos. This is a very big deal because YouTube Studios Los Angeles has enough professional gear to shoot a high quality theatrical release. They have professional sound editing equipment, Mac Pro towers for editing, professional lighting, software for editing, a screening room, and several sound stages to shoot your productions on. The energy there is very cool. Everyone knows this is groundbreaking - there are only three other YouTube studios across the globe and they are all smaller than LA location, which is their flagship. We could literally shoot three AGT videos at this studio in one day.

But it’s not all sunshine and rainbows. In exchange for the top flight facilities, videos shot at the YouTube facilities undergo some pretty exacting review and have more restrictions than a video you’d shoot at your home. For instance, any video shot at the YT studio must first be submitted to Google’s lawyers for legal clearance. So you can’t just grab a remix off Soundcloud for background music now - you need an actual license for the music. You also can’t have any trademark infringements, such as a Coca Cola can sitting in plain view of your camera. Finally, you need insurance to shoot there.

Still, even with these tighter restrictions, I can tell you this is an amazing opportunity. It’s a beautiful, sprawling facility (this is Google money after all) and it is very picturesque. You can easily shoot great looking content there.

Hopefully we’ll have a chance to shoot Olivia Jensen at YouTube Studios Los Angeles soon, and maybe, who knows - Mal Malloy Happy Stay tuned.


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New Carol Seleme Video - Art School Confidential

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