A little whine with your free U2 album?

Apple CEO Tim Cook, left, smiles next to U2 members, The Edge, Bono, and Larry Mullen Jr. during an announcement of new products on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014, in Cupertino, Calif. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Apple CEO Tim Cook, left, smiles next to U2 members, The Edge, Bono, and Larry Mullen Jr. during an announcement of new products on Tuesday, Sept. 9, 2014, in Cupertino, Calif. © AP Photo by Marcio Jose Sanchez.

Twitter never has been a land of particularly good manners. But last week, it seemed a lot of users needed to be reminded of that old saw, “Don’t look a gift horse in the mouth.”

The phrase means you shouldn’t seem ungrateful for a gift.

The gift givers in question were Apple and U2, who put a free copy of the band’s new album, “Songs of Innocence,” in every iTunes account. There it is: If you have an iTunes account, the new album just popped up in it. All you had to do was click the download button (a cloud with a downward arrow, because we can’t seem to handle words anymore) or not.

And these were some of the nicer tweets:

“I’m confused, by definition is iTunes or the U2 record classified as malware?”


and from one critic who apparently listened …

“Well, after listening to the whole album, I can see why U2 decided to give it away on iTunes.”

The way some people were tweeting, you would think somebody had hacked into their accounts and forced them to buy U2’s entire catalog at the manufacturer’s suggested retail price, added physical copies to the order and shipped them to their door COD.

It was one free album, people – 11 songs.

I could understand a few soreheads, but the volume of the blowback – so much that Apple set up a website to help you remove the album if you couldn’t figure it out yourself – was bewildering. Some did act like they had been hacked and asked what else Apple could do to their iTunes accounts. Hello! It’s an Apple iTunes account. Did you think they didn’t have access?

Others complained it took up storage. If your cloud or device (if you were set to autodownload purchases, apparently it did just show up on your device) is so full one album is going to create a problem, maybe it’s time to do some editing.

It’s funny, because almost any device you buy is loaded with some sample music by an artist you never heard of for a reason. At least this was by a high profile, best-selling band. Granted, at the risk of looking like a gift horse gazer myself, “Songs of Innocence” is not going to challenge “The Joshua Tree” or “Achtung Baby” for spots on all-time great albums lists.

A big part of the outcry seems to be this: It’s sort of hip to hate U2 now. (The guy who wrote about the death of the iPod Classic for Wired even had to get in a shot.) Never mind the millions of albums sold, sold-out stadiums and trailblazing philanthropic work. U2 comes in for a lot of derision these days, some of it earned.

So an uninvited free album and a Twitter account gives some folks a chance to demonstrate how cool they are by telling the world how much they don’t like U2. Like many things online, it’s easy. It’s a preemptive strike because … God forbid anyone look at my iTunes account and think I actually like U2.

But in reality, it’s sort of like someone came up to you and handed you a physical copy of the album, and you threw it on the ground, stomped on it and yelled, “I don’t want this (favorite expletive here)!”

We all know what that would look like.

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First annual LexLatino Film Festival

Gael Garcia Bernal stars in the documentary "Who is Dayani Cristal?" He also stars in "Rudo & Cursi." Both films are part of the LexLatino Film Festival. Photo by Kino Lorber.

Gael Garcia Bernal stars in the documentary “Who is Dayani Cristal?” He also stars in “Rudo & Cursi.” Both films are part of the LexLatino Film Festival. Photo by Kino Lorber.

For years, Dominic Martina attended the San Diego Latino Film Festival, a 10-day, 150-film event featuring movies from Latin America, Spain, South America and the United States.

“When I retired in Lexington last year, I realized there are 35,000 Latinos in Lexington,” he wrote, in a perfectly type-written letter. “Why not a smaller scale film fest for them and the whole community?”

Why not?

So, through the efforts of Martina, Kentucky Theatre manager Fred Mills and, no doubt, film booker Larry Thomas, we have the first annual LexLatino Film Fest, opening Thursday (Sept. 18) and running through Saturday in conjunction with the Festival Latino de Lexington. The event kicks off with the drama “Avenues” and will feature director Aaref Rodriguez and star Hector Atreyu Ruiz at the theater for an opening night reception.

Here’s the lineup with Martina’s descriptions:

“Avenues” (2013). The heartbreaking story of an East L.A. man attempting to reintegrate into his gang-centered neighborhood after a stint in prison.  7:40 p.m. Thurs., 9:30 p.m. Fri., 7:30 p.m. Sat.

“Who is Dayani Cristal?” (2014). Directed by Marc Silver, starring Gael Garcia Bernal. A young Central American immigrant disappears in the Arizona desert. The Tucson medical examiner attempts to discover his identity and find his family. 5 and 7 p.m. Fri.

“Rudo & Cursi” (2009). Directed by Carlos Cuaron, starring Gael Garcia Bernal and Diego Luna.  Two poor, rural Mexican boys find fame as soccer stars in Mexico City and in the process trash their lives. With the irresistible duo of Gael and Diego (“Y Tu Mama Tambien”). 1, 3 and 5 p.m. Sat.

“Sombras de Azul” (2013). Directed by Kelly Daniela Norris, starring  Seedne Bujaidar, Yasmani Guerrero and Charlotta Mohlin. A young Mexican woman traverses Havana, Cuba, in the wake of her brother’s suicide trying to make sense of her grief. The film is a gorgeous representation of how memory and perspective merge together. 9:30 p.m. Thurs. and Sat.

Thursday’s reception will feature Latin American coffees from A Cup of Commonwealth and the closing night will include tastings of Oaxacan Mezcal and “assorted Mexican cervezas,” Martina wrote.

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Rosa Goddard Fest: ‘Valerie and Her Week of Wonders’

Jaroslava Schallerová in the title role of "Valerie and Her Week of Wonders" (1970).

Jaroslava Schallerová in the title role of “Valerie and Her Week of Wonders” (1970).

It is safe to say you probably will not confuse Wednesday’s offering in the Rosa Goddard International Film Festival with the Kentucky Theatre‘s Summer Classics Series of primarily populist hits that ran Wednesdays for the past three months.

But in many circles, “Valerie and Her Week of Wonders” is a classic. The 1970 import is considered a prime example of the Czech new wave, which was a thing in the 1960s and boasted directors such as Miloš Forman, who won best director Oscars for “One Flew Over the Cuckoo’s Nest” (1975) and “Amadeus” (1984)– both of which also won best director.

The man behind the camera for “Valerie” was Jaromil Jireš, whose 1963 film, “The Cry” was considered the first film of the Czech new wave.

“Valerie” tells the coming of age story of a 13-year-old girl, played by Jaroslava Schallerova, whose world is both sensually beautiful and horror film scary with vampires and predatory priests lurking in the corners of a fairy tale.

“In content, the film is a weird exercise, striking out boldly in the paths of Bergman, Fellini and Buñuel with characters in something of a clutter who shift into evil incarnate or plain tooth-chomping vampires,” New York Times critic Howard Thompson wrote in 1974. “One creepy sequence in a coffin-crammed lair is right out of ‘Dracula.'”

Thompson was one of many critics who felt Jireš was a bit overindulgent in his creation, but were willing to forgive it for the visual feast he offered set to a haunting score by  Luboš Fišer.

The movie shows at 7 p.m. Wednesday at the Kentucky Theatre.

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Summer Classic: Federico Fellini’s ‘8½’

The Kentucky Theatre‘s Summer Classics series comes to a close today as it has in recent years with a foreign classic to sort of lead into the revived Rosa Goddard International Film Festival that will take over the Wednesday special slot for the balance of September.

And classic is a word that instantly pops to mind when you think of Federico Fellini’s “,” the masterpiece from one of the masters of the craft that plums the depths and passions of a filmmaker.

The brilliant, late Marcello Mastroianni — the only person who could make that nerdy sunglasses move look cool — is Fellini’s avatar in the film as Guido Anselmi, a famous Italian director simultaneously suffering writer’s block and marital difficulties that color his reality and fantasy.

“Here is a piece of entertainment that will really make you sit up straight and think, a movie endowed with the challenge of a fascinating intellectual game,” Bosley Crowther wrote in his June 1963 review for The New York Times. “It has no more plot than a horse race, no more order than a pinball machine, and it bounces around on several levels of consciousness, dreams, and memories as it details a man’s rather casual psychoanalysis of himself. But it sets up a labyrinthine ego for the daring and thoughtful to explore, and it harbors some elegant treasures of wit and satire along the way.”

Sounds wonderfully brainy for this tweedy time of year, when many of us are getting back to school.

Roger Ebert wrote that  “8½” and its 1960 predecessor, “La Dolce Vita,” established a style known as “Felliniesque,” a signature mix of fantasy and realism conveyed in a Mediterranean aesthetic. Fellini’s style is influential to this day in film and still photography and in this context raises his storytelling game.

This is probably the best reviewed of this year’s Summer Classics, though it may not be as familiar to those who did not grow up with the traditional art house environment. But if you love movies, “8½” on the big screen is a treat you owe yourself.

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New flavors in culinary coverage

For some readers, I know the most exciting thing in today’s Weekender will be the return of restaurant reviews with Jacalyn Carfagno’s take on Graze in Winchester. Over the years, our readers have told us they love reading about local restaurants with their feedback and their hits, so while the reviews went on hiatus while some personnel changes were underway this summer, we have always aimed to bring them back and are thrilled to make good on that this week.

Today is also the day we bid adieu to longtime — seems like an understatement when you’re talking about 40 years — food and restaurant writer Sharon Thompson. As we wish her a great retirement with her last Tidbits column, we are also making plans for continued coverage of restaurant news, including a new podcast, LexGo Eat! (See the video version at the top of this page.)

We are certainly not going to replace the more than 40 years of service and knowledge that Sharon has given the Herald-Leader. But we are dedicated to continuing to relay much of the dining information you have come to expect from us. Staff writers Janet Patton and Cheryl Truman have been enthusiastically pitching ideas and doggedly pursing leads for how we can continue some traditions and create new ones on the culinary beat. So stay tuned, and send us any ideas you may have of what you would like to see in dining coverage at the Herald-Leader and LexGo.com.


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Do genres even matter anymore?

Taylor Swift rocking the red Les Paul, as the RED tour played Rupp Arena  on Saturday April 27, 2013 in Lexington, Ky. © Herald-Leader staff photo by Mark Cornelison.

Taylor Swift rocking the red Les Paul, as the RED tour played Rupp Arena on Saturday April 27, 2013 in Lexington, Ky. © Herald-Leader staff photo by Mark Cornelison.

Taylor Swift may have dropped the biggest piece of non-news this week when she announced that her new album, 1989, due out Oct. 27, will be an all-pop music effort; no country music pretenses.

For many, pretense was all it was. As one of my colleagues joked, “She’s a country artist. She plays an acoustic guitar and I think they sneak a banjo in the mix somewhere. Those are the only prerequisites.”

In recent years, Taylor looked a little weird sitting among all the cowboy hats and custom boots at the country award shows, except …

Another story that rolled across our wires this was the boys in Florida Georgia Line talking about the big beats and other genre-bending elements of their forthcoming album.

This, of course, drives country music purists crazy. Country, they say, is being turned into pop music, shedding the instrumentation, song craft and roots of the genre’s traditions to co-opt hip-hop and dance sounds that currently top the pops.

Now, this is nothing new.  You hear what happened back in 1965 when Bob Dylan plugged in an electric guitar at the Newport Folk Festival?

In any genre of music, fans create a concept of what the proper sound is and cry foul when people start messing with it, even if the broader public doesn’t care a bit. Florida Georgia Line’s Cruise became one of the biggest hits ever in country music. Even when she was supposedly just a country artist, Taylor Swift’s Red tour was the biggest one by a solo artist to play Rupp Arena. I drove by the back of the arena that day, and it was comical how many Taylor Swift trucks it took to haul her show around.

And that Dylan song that drove folk purists crazy?: Like a Rolling Stone. Go on Spotify, and it’s his most popular song by several million plays.

Fans really don’t care if you are country, folk, classical, soul, hip-hop or rock ‘n’ roll enough if they like your music.

So do genres matter, particularly in these  days when music is so accessible and sampling is so easy?

You may think you don’t like, say, country music. But it is incredibly easy to get on your computer or phone, call up some Loretta Lynn or Garth Brooks and see how you really feel. Some of the most exciting music being made today is when genre lines are crossed, and no, I’m not talking about that Brad Paisley-LL Cool J thing. I’m talking about things like Goat Rodeo, where classical cellist Yo-Yo Ma teamed with Nashville artists like Chris Thile and Stuart Duncan. I’m talking about University of Kentucky graduate and Wilco drummer Glenn Kotche’s  adventurous solo compositions and the culturally illuminating hybrid projects of artists like Paul Simon and Talking Heads.

That doesn’t mean all cross over is good. I really find the whole bro country thing Florida Georgia Line represents kind of insufferable; kind of posing, more appropriation than exploration and the lyrical content is incredibly narrow.

And it doesn’t mean genres don’t matter. Country music, since that’s what started this discussion, was born as a genuine expression of the American South in the early 20th Century and produced iconic genre definers such as Jimmie Rodgers and Hank Williams. It has deep roots and traditions that are still practiced by artists such as Kentucky’s own Dwight Yoakam and deserves respect and preservation. Most genres have similar stories.

Maybe what Swift did this week was a sign of respect, acknowledging country is not what she is doing right now. But what she did before was nothing to get upset about.

Really, when it comes to music, if you like it, listen to it. And if you don’t, don’t listen to it, regardless of genre. A long time ago, when people asked me what kind of music I like, I settled on this answer: good music.

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Chamber Music Festival of Lexington opens with game-changing performance

Flutist Garrett Hudson, violist Burchard Tang and harpist Allegra Lilly opened both halves of the Chamber Music Festival of Lexington's concert Aug. 20, 2014, at the Fasig Tipton Pavilion. © Herald-Leader staff photo by Rich Copley.

Flutist Garrett Hudson, violist Burchard Tang and harpist Allegra Lilly opened both halves of the Chamber Music Festival of Lexington’s concert Aug. 20, 2014, at the Fasig Tipton Pavilion. © Herald-Leader staff photo by Rich Copley.

Photos: See a gallery from Wednesday’s concert.

Even if you missed all of the prelude concerts in this year’s Chamber Music Festival of Lexington, it was fairly obvious there were some big changes this year from the downbeat of the first main stage concert at the Fasig Tipton Pavilion, Wednesday night.

First, you were there on Wednesday.

In a major shift, the Fasig Tipton shows are now three concerts spread out over five days, instead of on consecutive days. Second, there were a lot more faces on stage, representing the integration of the previous two seasons’ prelude concerts and the Fasig Tipton shows anchored by the fest’s core quintet of violinists Nathan Cole and Akiko Tarumoto, violist Burchard Tang, cellist Priscilla Lee and pianist Alessio Bax.

Tang was the first of the group to take the stage, accompanied by guest artist Allegra Lilly, harp, and flutist Garrett Hudson of ensemble-in-residence WindSync. That trio gathered at the beginning of both halves of the concert to play an illuminating combination of works: Fear of Falling in Love by Los Angeles based composer — there is a theme here — Jeff Beal and Claude Debussy’s Sonata for flute, viola and harp.

Beal, whose credits include music for the Netflix series House of Cards, clearly has an ear for story-telling music, Lilly’s harp opening the piece in dreamlike flourishes while Hudson’s flute went on an adventure and the viola wound up the tension. It was an intriguing piece and stood in contrast to Debussy’s also picturesque but much more melodic work that opened Part II.

Lilly was busy most of the night, playing on L.A. composer — theme? — David Lefkowitz’s rhythmic Berceuse as well as the show closing Introduction and Allegro by Maurice Ravel, a piece that put the most musicians ever on the Chamber Fest stage with all the core string players, Lilly and WindSync’s Hudson and clarinetist Jack Marquardt. That unified the first and second half finales as dazzlers, the big piece showing a range of chamber music from a huge sound to Lilly’s intricate solo harp. Cole and Bax closed the first half with Franz Schubert’s Sonata for violin and piano in A major in a performance that was particularly delightful in Bax’s embrace of the dancing melody.

WindSync got its own moment in the spotlight with Samuel Barber’s Summer Music, which epitomized the charm of this concert and set the stage for the weekend to come.

Friday’s concert will focus on the core quintet and more Los Angeles music with the world premiere of composer-in-residence Adam Schoenberg’s Go. Sunday afternoon will put Bax in the spotlight with a few solo turns along with yet another new voice: Lexington-based soprano Karen Slack, who will be making her local debut as a soloist with a 21st century work by Drew Schnurr and some George Gershwin delights to close out the festival. (Read more about Go and Slack in Friday’s Weekender.)

And by the time it is over, it should be abundantly clear that this is an event that has grown and changed.

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Summer classic: ‘Harvey’

Jimmy Stewart as the whimsical and alcoholic Elwood P. Dowd admiring his friend and companion,  /><p class=Jimmy Stewart as the whimsical and alcoholic Elwood P. Dowd admiring his friend and companion, Harvey, a six-foot three-inch invisible white rabbit. Associated Press

If you are going to hang an entire movie on a central character who is an alcoholic and firmly believes he hangs out with a six-foot, 3-inch white rabbit, you need to have an actor who can pull it off. And the golden age of filmmaking certainly had that in affable Jimmy Stewart.

Not only did he make Elwood P. Dowd’s illusion — or is it? — utterly charming, he managed to make everyone else in his family look completely ridiculous in the process. Harvey was Henry Koster’s 1950 adaptation of Mary Chase’s stage play, which we saw revived earlier this year at the Woodford Theatre, with charming Central Kentucky actor Eric Johnson taking on the lead role.

The story centers around Elwood, and his social-climbing sister and their niece’s attempt to have him committed to a sanitarium so they can have a normal life, without Uncle Elwood popping up and offering to introduce everyone to his invisible giant rabbit. Elwood is nothing if not polite, constantly making introductions and offering to buy people drinks.

But the commitment plans go off the rails and the comedy ramps up when the doctors conclude that Elwood’s sister, Veta (Josephine Hull), must be the crazy one.

As I watched Woodford’s production earlier this year, it occurred to me that an ideal modern Elwood would be Big Bang Theory star Jim Parsons, who has made the significantly more socially awkward Sheldon Cooper a beloved character for eight seasons now, and lo and behold, Roundabout Theatre has already done that.

But Wednesday at the Kentucky Theatre Summer Classics series, we get to see the original, Jimmy Stewart, in a performance that is hard to beat for its charm and its wisdom.

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Chamber Music Festival of Lexington blows into town

Members of WindSync, including saxophonist Tracy Jacobson, front, percussionist Garrett Hudson and clarinetist Jack Marquardt, played a pop-up concert last August across from A Cup of Common Wealth at Main Street and Eastern Avenue. The Houston-based quintet played a series of pop-up concerts throughout Lexington as part of the Chamber Music Festival of Lexington. The ensemble is back this year for similar performances. Go to ChamberMusicLex.com for more information. Photo by Rich Copley | staff.

Members of WindSync, including saxophonist Tracy Jacobson, front, percussionist Garrett Hudson and clarinetist Jack Marquardt, played a pop-up concert last August across from A Cup of Common Wealth at Main Street and Eastern Avenue. The Houston-based quintet is scheduled to give a similar performance on Monday. Photo by Rich Copley | staff.

The Chamber Music Festival of Lexington started Thursday, embarking on the biggest overhaul of the event since it started in 2007.

Two years ago, the festival began to be preceded by impromptu concerts by a chamber group in addition to the festival’s core ensemble, led by Lexington native Nathan Cole, first associate concertmaster of the Los Angeles Philharmonic Orchestra. This year, the prelude is being morphed into the festival proper to create an 11-day multi-venue event that starts Friday night on the lawn of the Loudoun House, with beer, barbecue and music from ensemble-in-residence WindSync. Beer, barbecue and classical music: that’s how we roll in the Bluegrass.

Instead of running on consecutive days, the festival’s centerpiece concerts at the Fasig-Tipton Pavilion on Newtown Pike will be spaced out Wednesday, Friday and the following Sunday, with other performances by the festival’s longstanding core ensemble and WindSync surrounding those events.

As it did last year, WindSync has a series of performances set throughout Lexington in the coming week, including a rush-hour performance at A Cup of Commonwealth Coffee Shop and Thoroughbred Park at 8:30 a.m. Monday and a fund-raising performance for the group at 11 a.m. Sunday at the Green Tree Tea Room. A schedule of all performances can be found at the festival website.

The Houston-based quintet also will be part of events at the Fasig-Tipton Pavilion when things get rolling there next week with the festival ensemble — Cole, violinist Akiko Tarumoto, cellist Priscilla Lee, violist Burchard Tang, and pianist Alessio Bax.

Windsync will be part of the opening concert, which Cole, the festival’s artistic director, says works well because of this festival’s focus on music of Los Angeles, from early 20th-century master Maurice Ravel to 21st-century star Jeff Beal, known for his work on the Netflix series House of Cards.

The catalyst for the L.A. focus was SoCal-based composer-in-residence Adam Schoenberg plus Cole and Tarumoto, Cole’s wife and a fellow L.A. Phil violinist, who are based in Los Angeles and got to know the scene there firsthand. We’ll have more on Schoenberg and LA this weekend in the Herald-Leader and at LexGo.com.

In addition to Schoenberg, who was in town this spring for a world premiere with the Lexington Philharmonic as part of the Saykaly Garbulinska Composer-in-Residence partnership between the orchestra and chamber fest, the festival welcomes two other guest artists this year. Harpist Allegra Lilly has wrapped up her first year as principal harp of the St. Louis Symphony Orchestra, and soprano Karen Slack is the first Lexington-based artist on the festival program. Read more about her next week.

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Summer classic: ‘The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek’

Eddie Bracken and Betty Hutton in the 1944 Preston Sturges screwball comedy "The Miracle of Morgan's Creek," which plays Aug. 13, 2014 on the Kentucky Theatre's Summer Classics series.

Eddie Bracken and Betty Hutton in the 1944 Preston Sturges screwball comedy “The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek,” which plays Aug. 13, 2014 on the Kentucky Theatre’s Summer Classics series.

After a day of mourning his death, Robin Williams would probably be the first person to tell movie lovers they could use a good laugh. The Kentucky Theatre Summer Classics series has just the thing for us in the Preston Sturges screwball comedy The Miracle of Morgan’s Creek, which shows at 1:30 and 7:15 p.m. today.

The film’s plot reads like something out of a modern day comedy along the lines of The Hangover or Knocked Up: Small town party girl Trudy Kockenlocker (Betty Hutton) wakes up after a drunken send off for the troops married and pregnant. But she has no idea who her husband is. It gets crazier from there in typical Sturges style.

Sturges was regarded as ahead of his time, particularly for his touch with dialogue, taking home an Oscar for best original screenplay for The Great McGinty (1940) and earning two other nominations, including Miracle.

The film co-stars Eddie Bracken as Norval Jones, a local guy who’s been in love with Trudy and tries to help her, which adds to the hilarity. Bracken, who died in 2002, visited the Bluegrass a few years before his passing to film The Ryan Interview for KET as part of the network’s American Shorts series. Ashley Judd co-starred in that film as a reporter interviewing a man on his 100th birthday in the short play by Arthur Miller.

In the film, the reporter realizes Ryan is a repository of stories from a bygone era. And presenting movies like Morgan’s Creek, the Kentucky keeps films and filmmakers past fresh in our memories. And we can also get a much-needed laugh.

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