COVID-19 DIARY – ‘THE BEE GEES: HOW CAN YOU MEND A BROKEN HEART?’ REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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November 29

 

On Sunday the 29th of November, 2020 I was lucky enough to attend a preview screening of the HBO documentary The Bee Gees: How Can You Mend A Broken Heart? at New Farm cinemas and I got to take Karen with me.

Just another milestone that things were pretty in our neck of the woods while case numbers continued to rise astronomically abroad. 

I enjoyed the documentary, it rang very poignant for me given Barry Gibb’s advancing years. I can tell you there were quite a few people of Barry’s and my parent’s age in the audience. I even floated the idea of taking my Mum but she had to decline. Maybe in the audience there were people who had known the Bee Gees from their days in Redcliffe. They certainly laughed and nodded at points like they were flicking through the pages of a photo album. Your culture remains your’s for life – it takes hold you of for life.

I grew up in a household of The Beatles and The Bee Gees. I heard The Rolling Stones and David Bowie but they weren’t in the house. I’m prety sure at one point there was a copy of every Bee Gees album on at least LP, tape or CD.

I enjoyed the documentary of which you can read the review here https://scenestr.com.au/movies-and-tv/the-bee-gees-how-can-you-mend-a-broken-heart-film-review-20201201

Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Having started in 1993 they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland every month.

It sent me down a bit of rabbit-hole of Youtube clips.

I would urge you to listen to a live acoustic performance they did of one of their lesser singles Blue Island from one of their strongest later albums from the early 1990s. The thing is, it’s not a bad song but something magical happens when the harmonies those brothers had together sing it. It is something special.

There is an interview Maurice Gibb had in the wake of doing rehab for alcoholism, (I thought he got clean well before Andy Gibb’s death not after) and Barry Gibb talking about his brothers, his wife – his family to Piers Morgan.

I would urge you to listen to a live acoustic performance they did of one of their lesser singles Blue Island from one of their strongest later albums from the early 1990s. The thing is, it’s not a bad song but something magical happens when the harmonies those brothers had together sing it. It is something special.

There are personal favourites here like The Nights on Broadway (I had no idea they were that broke when they recorded that album), and younger hits like You Win Again which is soooo 80s, their last hit single This Is Where I Came In which I will defend to the death is proof they were still crushing it in 2001, their first big hit as they left Australia in the 60s – Spicks and Specks which is a personal favourite and maybe lesser known to Americans and even Brits I think.

Songs like Alone and Immortality from 1997 which resonates even more now. Absent are the disco hits which I loved as a kid but have listened to a lot more than these gems and I suspect you have too.

Anyway enjoy. 

 

On the 29th of November the World Health Organisation reported there had been 61,990,265 confirmed cases of COVID-19 globally with a daily increase of 604,549.

There had been 1,451,964 deaths globally with a daily increase of 9,520.

In Australia there had been 27,885 confirmed cases with a daily increase of eleven. There had been 907 deaths. 

In Canada there had been 359,064 confirmed cases with daily increase of 5,967. There had been 11,895 with a daily increase of 95.

In the United Kingdom there had been 1,605,176 confirmed cases with a daily increase 15,871. There had been 58,030 deaths with a daily increase of 479.

In India there had been 9,392,919 confirmed cases with a daily increase of 41,810. There had been 136,696 Indian deaths with a daily increase of 496.

In the United States of America there had been 12,939,666 confirmed cases of COVID-19 with a daily increase of 175,669. There had been 262,736 deaths with a daily increase of 1,276. 

-Lloyd Marken

 

COVID-19 DIARY – TENET FILM REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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August 20

Back on April 21 I bought a hoodie from the United States of America. There was a lot of handwringing about the getting the right size as I never order clothes online. In June the hoodie arrived and it fit but it was too tight. On the 20th of August I got a new one that fit just at the tail wind of winter in my home town, sunny tropical Queensland. That said I got some good weeks out of it and really love my hoodie. I hadn’t got a new jumper or coat in about 19 years.

Proceeds from the sale of the hoodie went towards After School All Stars which were delivering meals to kids in low socio-economic areas during the lockdown of schools in America.

The same day I was due to go to a preview screening of the new movie Tenet for Scenestr magazine.

Tenet was the first blockbuster to be getting released in cinemas since COVID had shut down cinemas earlier in the year. Warner Bros. was betting big that people would return to the cinemas but if they did, the blockbuster would have the run of the movie going public.

Attending a preview screening of a blockbuster is always a thrill for me. The preview screening was in a VMax screening at Indooroopilly Shopping Centre.  There were only other critics present at the screening, familiar faces. People seemed fairly relaxed. At the screening of Waves there was some sense of hopefulness and rustiness at what was for some of us the first screening we had been to in a while. Here things were more relaxed but there was security at this one given the high profile nature of the film. There was a media embargo to enforce.

My review was published the following week on Wednesday the 26th of August with the film premiering the next day.

You can read my review here https://scenestr.com.au/movies-and-tv/tenet-film-review-20200826

Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Having started in 1993 they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland every month.

So far Tenet has grossed $350 million dollars worldwide, the fourth highest grossing film of the year. However $55 million dollars was accumulated in USA and Canada. In North America at the time of opening, 65% of cinemas were operating at 25-40% capacity. In its first five weekends at the US Box office Tenet remained number one but that gross is significantly down on previous Nolan hits. Warner Bros bet big and it has not paid off. Too many territories remain closed and too many people have not returned to cinemas in America and Europe where COVID-19 remains an all too real threat.

I would argue that while Tenet is billed as a blockbuster, it is not a crowdpleaser and in a particularly dispiriting year I think something like Wonder Woman 1984 would have played much better but COVID remains the all too important factor. Its actually a relief to know that people would rather prize their lives over seeing a movie where they deem the risk too much. In Queensland we felt relatively safe with a small number of cases.

Yet on the same day that I went to see Tenet, a supervisor in her 70s at the Brisbane Youth Detention Centre in Wacol tested positive for COVID-19. She had been working shifts until she started to have symptoms. She was now admitted to hospital. Her diagnosis led the centre to go into shutdown with testing of 127 youths and over 500 staff at the centre. There were eight active cases in Queensland at the time.

Premier Anastacia Palaszczuk relayed, “What you’re going to hear today is the story of a woman who was sick, and still went to work. It is really really important that if you are sick, you must stay home, as now a whole lot of contact tracing has to happen.

I was about to get a timely reminder in the days ahead that the situation was fluid.

-Lloyd Marken

COVID-19 DIARY – WAVES FILM REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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July 06

I was also on assignment with Scenestr magazine for the first time since the pandemic shut everything down in March.

Cinemas had just re-opened in Queensland and I attended a preview screening of Waves with a bunch of critics at New Farm cinemas. There were no plus ones so Karen wasn’t with me.

Waves is an excellent film which would have made my Top 10 last year if it had been released in Australia. You can read my review here https://scenestr.com.au/movies-and-tv/waves-film-review-20200708

Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Having started in 1993 they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland every month.

There was definitely some joy to be taken that here was another activity back but this one was tempered with some caution.

With developments in Victoria how long would it last?

And until we were really rid of COVID in our lives it was obvious blockbusters and major cinema attendance would not be coming back.

As a film buff people have often asked my feelings on this.

Since this pandemic happened I’ve never really missed movies, I’ve watched some classics and some new stuff on streaming services.

Yes I’ve worried about those who work in the arts.

But more so I’ve worried about everybody who has lost their jobs in recent months.

I love going to the cinema but I haven’t felt I lost her in these recent weeks.

We’ve lost lives. Hundreds and thousands of them.

We’ve lost jobs.

Millions of them.

We’ve lost good health and good prospects for the future for millions more.

I enjoyed seeing a wonderful movie and being a film critic again on the job. Something I am eternally grateful for.

But on the 6th of July I found my cinema had patiently waited for my return and was happy to see me again. I know she will wait for me again and for all of us if need be.

The cinema knows we have lost more than her and so she waits patiently as we turn our thoughts to others who have lost a great deal more.

-Lloyd Marken

BIRDS OF PREY (AND THE FANTABULOUS EMANCIPATION OF ONE HARLEY QUINN) FILM REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR AND FROOTY

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I was very fortunate to attend a preview screening of Birds of Prey with Karen on Wednesday 05FEB2020 at the Myer Centre in the Brisbane CBD on assignment for Scenestr for the first time in 2020. I always feel fortunate to attend such screenings and get to review new films. The crowd we were with seemed to enjoy the film and I found there was a lot I appreciated about the film but I worried if it would find an audience. So far box office has been soft for the film but I believe when it finds its audience it is going to become quite beloved by them.

There is an irreverent rebellious attitude to the production and a manic joy. I thought similar thoughts about Suicide Squad that seemed well cast with interesting characters in desperate need of a plot and being able to make more of the potential of its premise and explore the unique possibilities that could come from it. Birds of Prey, a female centric sidequel spin-off, is a step in the right decision with better action and a better plot but still full of dropped ideas and unexplored potential.

There are to my mind no positive male characters in it but I can live with my heroes, anti-heroes and villains coming in all genders, races and creeds. No doubt the film is saying something about the female experience and exploring gender politics but how much it really says I’ll leave to the individual viewer to decide.

For me like before with Suicide Squad, I hold out hope of seeing some of these performers bringing to life these characters again. You can read my review here https://scenestr.com.au/movies-and-tv/birds-of-prey-and-the-fantabulous-emancipation-of-one-harley-quinn-film-review-20200206

Afterwards Karen and I enjoyed some pizzas at the Hilton Hotel lobby.

About a month later Karen and I were with friends seeing a movie at Palace Cinemas and came across some print issues of Scenestr and its sister publication Frooty.

My editor who runs Frooty asked if my review of Rocketman could be published in the first print issue of Frooty last year which I was stoked about and agreed to. Karen found my review of Harley Quinn had now been published in Frooty Issue #10. I guess I didn’t need to be asked a second time… However being in print is always a thrill and I hope the readers of Frooty enjoyed.

The review features on page 11 of the March 2020 issue which you can read a digital version of here http://frooty.com.au/read/2020/issue-10/FROOTY-10.html#p=11

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Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Having started in 1993 they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland every month.

Started in 2017 and produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises, Frooty is an online national magazine that covers news and entertainment with a queer perspective. Their first print issue rolled out in July 2019 across five major states (QLD, NSW, Vic, SA, WA) and have followed monthly since. Frooty is one of the country’s widest circulating queer titles.

-Lloyd Marken

1917 REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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I attended with my wife Karen a preview screening of the film 1917 at the Myer Centre on the 5th of December last year. That seems a long time ago now, Christmas and New Year’s have happened since, I’ve been working in my humble public servant job, the film has become an Oscar contender and my country has been burning.

Some of us have tried to help where we can. Others have forced handshakes and tried to re-write history in their press interviews. A special few have been helping and making a real difference and I stand in awe of them.

I hope you are all well.

1917 is one of the best films of the year, you can find my review here  https://scenestr.com.au/movies-and-tv/1917-film-review-20200110

Karen and I enjoyed the film, another great gem from Universal Studios this year that has included Blinded by the Light and Good Boys.

There were sausage rolls and Scotch and in a new twist we got our photo published in the Socials Page of The West End Magazine which you can find here https://www.westendmagazine.com/1917-premiere/#&gid=1&pid=4

I remember there was a buzz in the air after the screening with people talking excitedly amongst themselves about how good the film was. Karen and I went to the Hilton Hotel lobby to grab something to eat. We’re quite fond of the place. I’m interested to know what you all thought of the film.

I wish you all the best in 2020.

Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Having started in 1993 they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland every month.

-Lloyd Marken

TERMINATOR: DARK FATE REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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I was lucky enough to be on assignment again for Scenestr magazine last Wednesday night to attend a preview screening of Terminator: Dark Fate at Reading Cinemas, Newmarket. There were other critics and fans in attendance.

Sadly while I enjoyed Linda Hamilton’s performance and think this is the best sequel we got since Terminator 2: Judgement Day that is not necessarily high praise. You can read my full review here https://scenestr.com.au/movies-and-tv/terminator-dark-fate-film-review-20191101

 

 

Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Having started in 1993 they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland every month.

-Lloyd Marken

‘BLINDED BY THE LIGHT’ REVIEW AVAILABLE ON SCENESTR

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On the 25th of July I attended a preview screening for Blinded by the Light at Palace Barracks on assignment for Scenestr magazine. I didn’t quite know what to expect but what I saw was the first great film of 2019. The release date had just been moved so finally three months later I can tell you about how good this movie is.

Directed by Gurinder Chadha (Bend It Like Beckham) and starring Viveik Kalra as Javed Khan, the film is a wonderful coming of age tale centred around the son of Pakistani immigrants growing up in Luton, England circa 1987.

Javed is finding himself when he discovers the music of Bruce Springsteen and uses it to guide him in pursuing his dreams and defining himself. A period piece, there are startling parallels to our own times and nostalgia for a time now gone.

I can’t say enough good things about this movie, with unnecessary sequels like Terminator: Dark Fate and Zombieland: Double Tap pass through our cinemas I would urge anybody to check out this feel good delight and make it the surprise hit of the season.

 

 

You can read my review here https://scenestr.com.au/movies-and-tv/blinded-by-the-light-review-20191022

Produced by Eyeball Media Enterprises Scenestr is an online national magazine with local offices around Australia. Having started in 1993 they’ve excelled at moving into the digital realm but they remain at heart from the streets. They still publish magazines in print for Western Australia, South Australia, New South Wales, Victoria and Queensland every month.

-Lloyd Marken

THE BIFF IS BACK – BIFF 2019 PART III

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Following on from catching Memory: The Origins of Alien and Little Monsters on Friday night, the next day I set off to Dendy cinemas in the inner Eastern suburb of Brisbane Coorparoo to check out two more films at BIFF 2019. At 1pm I saw my first film up in Cinema 8.

 

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MAKING WAVES: THE ART OF CINEMATIC SOUNDFor any film buff this is a great introduction in the history of sound in cinema. I would struggle to explain what foley, sound editing and sound mixing all mean? I do know sound is layered in film and that it is a creative aspect like anything else in filmmaking. Such differences are explained and shown clearly in this documentary which for the most part is well paced.

Also director Midge Costin and his team have done a fantastic job cutting together sequences that showcase the power of good sound being added to an image and building up to some wonderful examples of where sound was so important to great cinematic moments.

It features lots of baby boomers and fixates a little too much on the 1970s but this was a pivotal era. Central figures of the American film renaissance like Steven Spielberg, George Lucas and David Lynch are all on hand and along with their sound guys Walter Murch (The Conversation, Apocalypse Now) and Ben Burtt (Star Wars).

There are also efforts made to go over the change from the silent era to the advent of sound. However stuff I had been unaware of proved the most fascinating and it was mostly centred around pioneering women. Although I enjoyed hearing about the full scope of Walter Murch’s work in THX 1138. How many sound guys are also credited screenwriters?

For example you can thank Barbara Streisand for Dolby Stereo Sound in cinemas of the modern era. When reinventing herself and stepping into producing with A Star Is Born in 1976 she fought for the new technology to roll out in cinemas for her film to try to capture the energy of stadium concerts in the film.

Babs put her money where her mouth was too, insisting on a dramatically increased post production schedule for the sound mixing and editing out of her own pocket. When the film was a hit, Warner Bros paid her the money – history had been made.

Taking a leaf out of Ben Burtt’s book, Cecelia Hall added distorted animal sounds to the jetfighter plane sound effects for Top Gun and subsequently became the first woman to become nominated for Best Sound Effects Editing. She won four years later for The Hunt for the Red October. I enjoyed the stories of these pioneers and salute them all for their creativity.

 

My next film ran in the same cinema interestingly almost an hour later after I left cinema 8. I did talk to the one of the BIFF Vollys sporting a snazzy coloured T-shirt and advised me I had once done work as a Volly and was happy to see them back.

I asked if they still had the practice of letting Vollys sit in on films at the back after they had started and he told me they did. In fact they get passes to 4 screenings which is fantastic!

I took a seat and ordered a cheese platter, I highly recommend the chutney paste and some orange cheddar cheese that hit the spot. Nearby I could hear young people hanging around between sessions, working on creative projects on their laptops and discussing themes and the creative process. This was the joy of going to BIFF for the first time in 2004 and it made me happy to see evidence that some things never change.

 

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CHAINED FOR LIFE: At 3:30pm I went back into Cinema 8 and saw my last film of the 2019 Brisbane International Film Festival. Following on from an American/Mexican doco, two American documentaries and an Australian/U.K./U.S. zombie comedy I closed out the festival with an American film with a very unique British leading man.

Chained for Life is a satire about how we define desirability and disability in our culture and on film. Starring Jess Weixler and Adam Pearson as two actors on a film set for a horror movie. Interestingly child actor Charlie Korsmo makes a return to our screens as the eccentric “German” film director of the piece.

Weixler is the beautiful actress and the central focus of the film, and the film within the film. Pearson has been cast for his disfigured appearance as the monster of the piece that has a lot of passing references to Frankenstein. Also on board is Stephen Plunkett absolutely nailing it as a absolute wanker of a leading man who thinks he’s so cool and nice to everybody as they’re rolling their eyes at him. One scene with him and Pearson made me exclaim at the screen which just goes to show how good the film is.

There is also a lot of playing around the narrative and I will come clean and say at times the film may be went over my head and stopped resonating a bit but for the most part I was really enjoying what was being depicted and poked fun at.

Pearson with his gentle clear voice is an effortless star and this is the kind of role that lets him play beyond just how he looks while clearly addressing it. Check out an interview below that shows off how much of a pro the guy is.

The film reminded me of the personalities and dynamics of a small film set and not for the first time am I grateful for my older sister and how she gave me an insight and an understanding that others have to search for. A really good and interesting film to check out.

Well that’s it for another year at BIFF, gone too soon. Congratulations to Artistic Director Amanda Slack-Smith for another great programme and to the entire team. If I had to pick a favourite out of the films I saw it would easily be Midnight Family but I enjoyed all the films for different reasons and once again thank you for sharing in the journey.

-Lloyd Marken

THE BIFF IS BACK – BIFF 2019 PART II – ‘MEMORY: THE ORIGINS OF ALIEN’ AND ‘LITTLE MONSTERS’ REVIEW AVAILABLE ON WEEKEND NOTES

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I went into the final weekend of the Brisbane International Film Festival 2019 having seen the excellent documentary Midnight Family about a Mexico City ambulance crew.

MEMORY: THE ORIGIN OF ALIENS: Then on Friday night I went to Reading Cinemas at Newmarket to see a 6:15pm session of Memory: The Origins of Alien. I film A found interesting for the stories of the film I was unfamiliar with like the involvement of screenwriter of Dan O’Bannon.

 

It was an interesting film even if it seemed a little underfunded and dwelled on some points too long. I’ve been lucky to have a review published over at Weekend Notes that you can check out here https://www.weekendnotes.com/memory-the-origins-of-alien-film-review/

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Exiting Reading, I hopped in the car and drove over to New Farm cinemas who long term readers will recognise is an establishment I have some affection for. Catching a mocha with a mate over at the nearby 24 hour café Death by Decaf frequented by emergency personnel, hipsters, shift workers and young people out on the town. They make a damn fine mocha.

 

LITTLE MONSTERS: Then it was time to take in the late night 9:30pm screening of Aussie zombie comedy Little Monsters starring Lupita Nyongo’o. It was the kind of screening great for a film like this, close to full and with a Friday night crowd who wanted to be there and enjoy themselves. At a point when Neil Diamond’s classic Sweet Caroline featured somebody in the crowd voiced the bassline much to the delight of everyone else.

You can my review that was published on Weekend Notes as well here https://www.weekendnotes.com/little-monsters-film-review/

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Weekend Notes are a growing online magazine with a wealth of contributors based out of several cities across the United Kingdom, Australia and New York. Articles are leisure related and can include a wide variety of subjects from rainforest hikes to cultural festivals, from what hot new play is on at your underground theatre to a ultra trendy eatery. Writers are paid for their work based partly on how many views their articles get so please feel free to stop by and show some love.

-Lloyd Marken

THE BIFF IS BACK – BIFF 2019 PART I – ‘MIDNIGHT FAMILY’ REVIEW AVAILABLE ON WEEKEND NOTES

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BIFF IS BACK! The Brisbane International Film Festival is back for another year and long term readers will recall my affection for it. I volunteered at BIFF in 2004, 2005 and 2007. In 2008 I was down to see over 20 movies and met my future wife on the steps of the Palace Cinema on James Street. We lost a BIFF for a while there but it returned in 2017 where I attended with Karen for the first time Opening Night. I was also on assignment with Scenestr magazine to review Australia Day and then last year I was on assignment for Scenestr on opening night.

This year I was wrapping up a secondment at work and missed Opening Night and ended up sitting out the first few days of the festival.

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New Farm Cinemas foyer after seeing ‘Midnight Family’. Copyright Lloyd Marken.

Yet on Wednesday 09OCT2019 at New Farm Cinemas Karen and I attended a 6:15pm session of Midnight Family missing the first few minutes. All up, I have bought tickets to see five films at BIFF 2019 with three of them being docos. I can’t wait to see them all and share with you.

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Midnight Family was a great documentary about private ambulance crews in Mexico City. I was lucky enough to have my review published at Weekend Notes which continues on from my first reviews published with them last year being reviews for films I saw BIFF. You can read my review here https://www.weekendnotes.com/midnight-family-film-review-brisbane-international-film-festival-2019/

Weekend Notes are a growing online magazine with a wealth of contributors based out of several cities across the United Kingdom, Australia and New York. Articles are leisure related and can include a wide variety of subjects from rainforest hikes to cultural festivals, from what hot new play is on at your underground theatre to a ultra trendy eatery. Writers are paid for their work based partly on how many views their articles get so please feel free to stop by and show some love.

-Lloyd Marken