Archive | December, 2007

The Red-Eye Report, Dec. 31

30 Dec

The Red-Eye Report’s Ultimate Party Planning Guide
By Joshua Blake

I have been known to throw quite the shindig in my time, so I figured with New Year’s on the way that I would pass on a few of my Zen-like party planning techniques.

I know what a lot of you are thinking: “Josh, it’s New Year’s Eve. No one cares what the party is like. They just want to have a good time.”

In that case, you have never been to a real party. Party throwing is an art all to itself. They can, as in my case, turn a total dork into a legend or turn the coolest person into an absolute flop.

I have worked at clubs in the past as a doorman and a DJ, so I know the tricks of the trade. So with this in mind I will divulge a few of my key tips that will make your party the hottest ticket in town.

1) The Guest List
The perfect mix is 60:40, women to men. Women give off a relaxed energy, while guys give off a more aggressive power. Also, don’t be afraid to mix worlds. Invite people a couple of degrees away from your core group. However, don’t go too far. Your punk friends probably won’t mix to well with your frat brothers.

2) Open Bar
As far as beer goes, make a cooler with can domestics. If you want to get the drinks cold quick and keep them that way, fill the cooler with water, ice and salt. The salt will lower the freezing point and your drinks will be at a perfect temperature in about seven minutes. As far as the hooch goes, keep it cheap. It’s OK to have some top shelf-stuff but no one should be pouring it in with Red Bull. Don’t forget a couple of bottles of bubbly for midnight. Martini and Rossi make a great asti champagne for around $15.

3) Show’em What You’re Working With
Party music has one purpose: Make the ladies dance. Once they get started, everyone else will follow. Get on iTunes now and download these songs. I use these to start all my parties:

“Aeroplane” by Red Hot Chili Peppers
“Name of the Game” by The Crystal Method
“Hero” by Cockfight Club
“Super Massive Black Hole” by Muse
“When Your Heart Stops Beating” by +44
“The Music Sounds Better With You” by Stardust

Keep a good beat. Don’t let some one who’s had one to many put on the Rod Stewart standards album. True story: I saw it happen at 11:45 p.m. three years ago on New Year’s Eve and the party died. Also, keep your Static-X and Lamb of God albums under lock and key for one night.

4) Be The World’s Best Host
Kill the lights. Party guest are like cockroaches: they scatter when the lights are on. The first rule of parties is that everything looks better in the dark. If you have no dimmers on your lights, simply yank the lights off the tree you used last week and string them up. Don’t use candles. Open flames are never good at a party unless you are throwing down on grandpa’s back 40.

5) Keep the Herd Together
Take any of your valuables and place them in a room that will remain off limits to everyone. Clean out a closet that can be used for jackets and purses. Push furniture items like coffee tables and ottomans up against the wall so folks won’t be tripping over them make room for mingling and Twister.

6) Sending Everyone Home
The best thing to do is what the clubs do: Kill the music and turn up the lights. Then start cleaning up. This lets people know the party is over.

Above all, be safe. If you are throwing a party, your guests are your responsibility. Call a cab, have a designated driver or take car keys from folks as they come in if you have to, just don’t let anyone drink and drive.

That’s all for this week. Send your party pics to me at and you might be featured in next weeks Red-Eye Report. Have a great time and I’ll see you when the sun goes down.

In the Arena, 12/28

27 Dec


I hope Santa Claus was as good to each of you as he was to my family. It will take several extra visits to the gym to work off all of the goodies I have enjoyed this holiday season.

I thought that I would wind down 2007 with a look back at the things that have happened at the Arena over the past twelve months.  Then I realized that from January – May I was running another arena/coliseum in Starkville!  Since this is technically my blog and not the arena’s, my solution was to mix in a few events I worked in Starkville with the ones I read about that happened in Tupelo during that time.

Here’s a recap of 2007:

January:  The Fray/Mute Math played to a sold-out crowd in the theatre setup of the Hump.

February:  The Wiggles entertained over 4,000 3-year-olds (and their parents) at the Hump, while Larry The Cable Guy made a return appearance at the BCS Arena.  The Mudcats were very successful in their home opener, with a huge crowd in the stands and a win on the field.

March:  The basketball Bulldogs hosted Florida State in a nationally televised NIT game.  The Hump is one noisy place when the Dogs get a lead…

April:  Sugarland brought their high energy show to the Arena, while Blues Traveler and Yung Joc rocked the Hump.

May:  Lee County Schools held their combined graduations at the Arena.

June:  Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey returned to the Arena for the first time in two years, and I began my second term as director of the BancorpSouth Arena.

July:  WWE/ECW Smackdown rolled into Tupelo.  Body slams were enjoyed by all…

August:  It was hot.  That’s all I have to say about August.  Hot.

September:  We spent most of September getting the facility ready for the coming months.

October:  Casting Crowns played to a sellout crowd to start the month.  We also hosted a statewide nurses convention and two shows by the Doodlebops.

November:  Our busiest month of the year.  More than 30,000 people visited the Arena to watch high school basketball, Willie Nelson, Breaking Benjamin/Three Days Grace/Seether, public ice skating and Disney on Ice.

December:  We closed the year with a high school band conference, Aaron Neville and more public ice skating.

That’s a brief summary of the past year in live entertainment.  Of course, we’ve been busy planning for many more things to come in 2008.  Gaither Homecoming, Winter Jam, Reba/Kelly Clarkson and Kid Rock/Rev Run are just a few of the entertainment options already on the books for the coming year.  Hope to see you in the Arena soon.

Happy New Year!


Best music of 2007…albums

27 Dec

Here are videos from my favorite albums of the year:

1. “Kala” by M.I.A.
Video: “Bird Flu”

2. “We Were Dead Before the Ship Even Sank,” Modest Mouse
Video: “Dashboard”

3. “Night Falls Over Kortedala,” by Jens Lekman
Video: “Sipping on Sweet Nectar”

4. “Emotionalism” by the Avett Brothers
Video: “Paranoia in B Flat Major”

5. “Easy Tiger,” Ryan Adams
Video: “Two”

6. “Anchors and Anvils” by Amy LaVere
Video: “Killing Him”

7. “Jealous Me Was Killed by Curiosity” by Moros Eros
Video: “On My Side”

8. “Cease to Begin” by Band of Horses
Video: “No One’s Gonna Love You”

9. “Hissing Fauna, Are You The Destroyer?” Of Montreal
Video: “Heimdalsgate Like a Promethean Curse”

10: “American Gangster,” Jay-Z
Video: “Roc Boys (And the Winner Is…)”

Talk to me about your favorites of 2007, ask questions, make comments…leave your mark!

Best music of 2007…singles

27 Dec

There’s a chance you haven’t heard one of my top singles of the year, “Me Myself and (I)” by Darren Hayes.

Check out his super cool video:

Here are a few more videos of my favorite singles:

“You and I,” Cut Off Your Hands

“Sometimes It Takes Balls to be a Woman,” Elizabeth Cook

More top tracks of the year…

“The Take Over, the Break’s Over,” Fall Out Boy
“Young Folks,” Peter Bjorn and John
“Smile,” Lily Allen
“The Underdog,” Spoon
“The Pretender,” Foo Fighters
“You Made Me Like It,” 1990s
“You Know I’m No Good,” Amy Winehouse
“Antichrist Television Blues,” Arcade Fire
“Give It To Me,” Timbaland f/ Justin Timberlake and Nelly Furtado
“Ruby,” Kaiser Chiefs
“Church Mouth,” Portugal. The Man
“Makes Me Wonder,” Maroon 5
“Oh My God,” Mark Ronson f/ Lily Allen

One single I meant to mention either in Scene or on here is “See You Again” by Miley Cyrus. Don’t make fun of me – sure, it’s fluffy pop, but really catchy fluffy pop.

I bought my little cousin an iPod for Christmas so I filled it with lots of Disney-type music, and the only artist that’s been worth listening to is Cyrus. Her single “See You Again” is super catchy and fun, and there’s not a lot of that to go around this time of year. If I could find a really good video of it, I’d totally post it…alas. Just take my word for it, and don’t feel silly for listening to Hannah Montana. 🙂

Scene picks

26 Dec
  • “Sweeney Todd” is getting rave reviews, and check this week’s Scene to find out more.
  • Keith Sykes is taking the stage in Tupelo this weekend, and we’ve got the scoop. Read Scene to learn more.
  • Need something to do on New Year’s Eve? The Spunk Monkees are at Benjamin’s, and if you read Scene, we’ll tell you what else is going on.

Tell us what you’re doing this weekend!

Post-Christmas blues

26 Dec

It looks like a lot of people are still celebrating Christmas, so there’s not a lot of news to report. So I think I’ll ramble for a bit.

Alright, I’m not so blue that Christmas is over. On Christmas Eve, I started getting a little misty-eyed, wishing I had one more week to look at lights, put finishing touches on gifts and visit with folks. But by the latter part of Christmas Day, it hit me – hey, the fuss of the holidays are over! No more white chocolate-covered Ritz to make! No more worrying! I’ll miss the holidays; I always do. But I sure won’t miss that fuss.

So what’s your post-Christmas music? I’m sure lots of you cats got new music for Christmas, so don’t be ashamed to share it. I got my mom Keith Urban’s greatest hits, so she rocked out to that all day yesterday.

Speaking of parent presents – in Monday’s paper, my column listed my top 10 Christmas wishes. One of them was that my dad would like his Christmas gift, and he loved it! I got him a DVD player, the first season of “24” and “Stand By Me.” He was really excited about the movie – he had it on all day and he’s sneak back into his room to watch bits of it here and there. Kind of funny. Every so often we’d hear a train whistle and say, yep, he’s watching “Stand By Me” again. 🙂

Back to post-Christmas tunes. The first thing I listened to this morning was Peter Bjorn and John‘s “Writer’s Block,” because that’s what I had on last night. That was fine but then I decided I needed something else…so I put my iPod on “The Beatles” and I’m letting it play through all the albums. Right now I’m on “Abbey Road.” My favorite Beatles album changes every so often – first it was “Revolver,” then the White Album, then “Sgt. Pepper’s,” but now it’s “Abbey Road.” I mean, really, is there a better piece of music in existence than “Sun King”?? OK. “I Want You (She’s So Heavy)” or “Something” might be better. Might. Gosh I love this album.

Speaking of music still, have any of you had a chance to see VH1’s list of the best songs of the 90s? Here’s the complete list.

I’ve only caught bits and pieces – I apparently fussed over a lot this holiday so I haven’t had much time – but it seems like a pretty good list. I still feel like rambling so I thought I’d discuss a few of the choices, and mention a few they forgot:

1. “Smells Like Teen Spirit,” Nirvana – I still remember the first time I saw the video, and I still remember watching Kurt Loder announce that Kurt Cobain had killed himself.
2. “One,” U2 – Possibly my favorite U2 song ever. There are few songs that are as beautiful as this.
11. “Jeremy,” Pearl Jam – I was 9 when this song came out and I super loved it and the video. I think that scared my parents.
15. “Under the Bridge,” Red Hot Chili Peppers – I still remember hearing this song for the first time. My mom and I used to make fun of the way ole Anthony sang it – “take me to da place I luuuuuve.”
24. “Jump Around,” House of Pain – For some reason this was a huge inside joke when I was in high school. My friend James and I used to sing it all the time to each other…no idea why now. Maybe he remembers?
26. “My Name Is,” Eminem – I discovered this week that my dad has an (edited) album by Eminem he listens to all the time. So I burned him a copy of Jay-Z’s new record in the hopes he’ll listen to Jay-Z instead.
27. “Mr. Jones,” Counting Crows – My mom is still in love with this one.
40. “I Wanna Sex You Up,” Color Me Badd – My cousin loved this song but it always oogied me out. Granted I was too young to understand what it meant. I just knew it sounded oogie.
43. “My Lovin’ (You’re Never Gonna Get It)” En Vogue – L.O.V.E. this song.
45. “Only Wanna Be With You,” Hootie & the Blowfish – This song made it on the list but “Hold My Hand” didn’t? Where were these folks during the 90s?
48. “3 a.m.,” Matchbox Twenty – I super super loved Matchbox Twenty during the 90s. Saw them four times. They annoy me now but I still love Rob Thomas’ voice. They actually put out a few good tunes here and there – like “3 a.m.” and “If You’re Gone” – so I probably should put them on my iPod.
59. “Buddy Holly,” Weezer – One of the best videos ever.
67. “Groove is in the Heart,” Deee-lite – Online quizzes are pretty stupid but one told me this was my theme song once…and it was so true! Such a fun song.
66. “I’ll Be,” Edwin McCain – When my grandma was in the hospital, my dad and I bought my mom Edwin McCain’s album to cheer her up.
68. “Gettin’ Jiggy Wit It,” Will Smith – My news layout designer at The Daily Mississippian had the last name of Thigpen, so we used his name in many a song: “Gettin’ Thiggy wit it!” and “Thiggy Thiggy Thiggy, can’t you see, sometimes your words just hypnotize me.” He got into the Smith song and even would sing the na-na part of the song sometimes.
78. “Are You Gonna Go My Way,” Lenny Kravitz – I’m a nerd and I’m not cool, which is why I choreographed a clog dance to this song once. It was actually kind of good…but again I’m a nerd and not cool.
81. “I Don’t Want to Wait,” Paula Cole – Two slightly-related points: a) I saw Paula Cole once when she opened up for Matchbox Twenty (aah, the days of the Pyramid in Memphis), and b) I really don’t like this song but I love “Dawson’s Creek.” Please don’t tell anyone.
88. “Barely Breathing,” Duncan Sheik – I super loved Duncan Sheik in the 90s too. I don’t think people give him enough credit for his music, because a lot of it is so gorgeous.
90. “You Get What You Give,” New Radicals – I also got into the New Radicals in the 90s, but this song warranted No. 90 on the list? Really?
93. “Stay,” Lisa Loeb & Nine Stories – If I made a list of the top songs of the 90s, this would top my list. It’s scary how much I worshipped this song. It’s a great song and on the plus side I discovered Lisa Loeb, who I still think is pretty freaking awesome.
Forgotten favorites
“Just a Girl,” No Doubt: Love, love, love.
“Closer,” Nine Inch Nails: Brilliant, bloody brilliant.
“Bittersweet Symphony,” The Verve: Ahh, my mind swims when I hear this song.
“I’m Gonna Be (500 Miles)” The Proclaimers: Alright, I guess it’s not “great,” but I do love it quite a bit.

Alright, I’ve rambled a lot today. Talk back – tell me your 90s favorites, tell me what you got for Christmas, whatever. Just ramble. 🙂

Happy holidays…

24 Dec

Scene Now (and the Red-Eye Report) are taking Monday and Tuesday off to celebrate Christmas.

Happy holidays to you and yours…

And here’s a holiday happy for fellow George Bailey fans: the ending to “It’s a Wonderful Life.”