January 10, 2015


   It was a rebel yell in enemy territory and it could be heard from two states away. Phoenix Suns center Alex Len, with the ball at center court, made a quick move to the right, shaking off a lumbering, swatting Tim Duncan. He dribbled the ball once, then cradled it with hepped up, childlike ambition, moving with intent and purpose.  The lane was his. It never mattered how many grey jerseys were in the way. 
   As Len slammed the ball, one-handed, with legs kicking outward in a perfect v-shape, he let out a warring cry and suddenly everyone in San Antonio knew what we in Phoenix have been lucky to witness this season: the expedited evolution of Alex "Steal My Sunshine" Len.
   The move, as Suns commentator Eddie Johnson pointed out, had "nasty intentions." Rolling past the Suns bench, Len pounded his chest and everyone overflowed with ecstasy.
   Allow me then to make a prediction: Alex Len, in three seasons' time (starting this year), will be on the shortlist of the game's best big men. It is only a matter of in-game experience before this Ukrainian Gumby is on the same level as the Gasols, Howards and Duncans of the league. And he will be a major factor in helping keep this young Suns team in the win column.
   In every game Len has improved his skills little by little. Early on, he seemed nervous, a kid amongst professionals. His rookie season last year was cut short by injuries, putting his much-touted potential on standby while Miles Plumlee came into his own.  
   After the first few games of this season, the fifth overall pick, began to find his rhythm. First his ball handing excelled; he wiped the butter from his fingers. Then, his defensive presence in the paint started to hobble opposing plays. At 7-1, it's not difficult. All he's got to do is put his long arms straight up and the blocks will come. But he's not just an immovable force; he looks for the shot, times it right and slaps away the potential point. We're only ten days into January and he's already averaging 3.6 blocks per game.
   Len's hard work hasn't been lost on Coach Jeff Hornacek. He's kept him in the starting lineup, making Plumlee a second thrust of defense off the bench. Between their four giant palms the Suns are on track to become a major defensive threat in the league.
   In a game against the Sacramento Kings, on December 26, Len and Plumlee each tallied five blocks--the first Suns duo to hit that mark since Amar'e Stoudemire and Shawn Marion did it in 2007. Anything that harkens back to the days of Nash will always bring a source of light to Suns fans.
   And Len's game just keeps expanding. In recent games he's found a jump shot and made a few quick passes to a cutting Goran Dragic. At this rate--even at his height--Len can't see the ceiling of his game.

January 08, 2015

REVIEW: "The Pale Emperor" by Marilyn Manson

Marilyn Manson channels
Hexxus on The Pale Emperor
   On Marilyn Manson’s ninth album, The Pale Emperor, the unholy, self-proclaimed God of Fuck sounds more like the God of Slow-Groove. Set for a January 20 release on his own Hell, etc. label, it is Manson’s most straight-forward rock album in years.
   “Killing Strangers” opens with a snotty bass line and a boot-kicking groove that’ll shake the caked mud from your face. Manson, in his devilish croak, makes the case for killing strangers as a way to keep from killing those we truly love.
   It’s a typical Manson sentiment, grotesque and callous, but one he’s built a career on defining. If this were Manson’s cultural heyday, he’d have the Religious Right all in grumbles over a pro-murder chorus. Luckily, neither party crosses paths anymore and a Marilyn Manson record can be heard for what it is. The man doesn’t stray from the ugly, he spreads it apart and thrusts himself inward, no apologies.
   The slithering “Deep Six” moves like a snake across the swamp. “You wanna know what Zeus said to Narcissist?” Manson asks in a warning squall, “You better watch yourself.” “Third Day Of A Seven Day Binge,” one of rock and roll’s great song titles, was the first official single from the album. Manson breathes through clenched jaws as a sullen bass creeps along a dark tunnel with no light at the end. He sounds weary and on the cusp of a paranoiac outbreak as he wonders where he’ll be in four days’ time.
  Manson’s vocals are low and burble like melting tar, but every now and then, his scream hits like scorched Earth and evokes unprovoked fear. “Slave Only Dreams To Be King” greases the albums up with a grave-digging guitar crunch and Manson’s screech slipping around. The awesome refrain of “Slave never dreams to be free / Slave only dreams to be king” pounds into any skull within earshot. “The Mephistopheles Of Los Angeles” flips the oft-used marching drum beat of “Beautiful People” before falling into a rousing chorus.
   On “The Devil Beneath My Feet” Manson walks a path in the light of Satan and wears his affiliation proudly. “Don’t need a mother fucker looking down on me,” he seethes before exiting back into total darkness. Manson then takes the listener on a long sprawl through the underworld where he has many acquaintances. “Birds Of Hell Awaiting” sounds like something Hexxus from FernGully: The Last Rainforest would get down to.
   Manson’s slight production adds a layer of twilight, not too dissimilar from frenemy Billy Corgan’s work on The Smashing Pumpkins’ brilliant album Adore. The songs are minimal with the tempo stuck in place throughout. They’re evil and heavy, but come out sounding more bluesy than metal. The Pale Emperor is a sturdy album from one of the most polarizing figures in popular music and quietly reasserts Manson into the fold.

Key Tracks: "Third Day Of A Seven Day Binge," "Deep Six," "Slave Only Dreams To Be King," "Killing Strangers"

source: http://imp