A more confident, exciting second chapter

Cast: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Evangeline Lilly, Benedict Cumberbatch, Lee Pace

Movie: The Hobbit: The Desolation Of Smaug

Genre: Action & Adventure, Science Fiction & Fantasy

Directed by: Peter Jackson

Written by: Fran Walsh, Philippa Boyens, Guillermo del Toro, Peter Jackson, J.R.R. Tolkien

Cast: Ian McKellen, Martin Freeman, Richard Armitage, Evangeline Lilly, Benedict Cumberbatch, Lee Pace

The second in a trilogy of films adapting the enduringly popular masterpiece The Hobbit, by J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit: The Desolation of Smaug continues the adventure of the title character Bilbo Baggins (Martin Freeman) as he journeys with the Wizard Gandalf (Ian McKellan) and thirteen Dwarves, led by Thorin Oakenshield (Richard Armitage) on an epic quest to reclaim the lost Dwarf Kingdom of Erebor. While still slightly hamstrung by «middle chapter» narrative problems and its formidable length, The Desolation of Smaug represents a more confident, exciting second chapter for the Hobbit series.

Mackelmore’s ‘Same Love’

Artist: Macklemore

Album: The Heist

Record Label: Rebel Rock/Grand Hustle

Review: Agencies

Probably Macklemore’s second most popular song. Here, Macklemore addresses the oh-so-controversial issue of homosexuality & gay marriage, and took a small risk in doing so. For that, I applaud him. Regardless of what you believe about gay marriage (spare me a religious debate please, ain’t nobody got time for that), this is a likeable yet laid back song. Mary Lambert (who?!) delivers a hook that with substance and heart. Macklemore gives a testimony to the unjustices and oppression brought on homosexuals.


Artist: Macklemore

Album: The Heist

Best tracks: Can’t Hold Us Down, Same Love, Thousand Hours

Macklemore attacks an array of subjects that ultimately fit smoothly together thanks to their authenticity and Lewis’ intricate, tone-setting production throughout. On “Wings,” the MC contrasts his love for Air Jordans with the pitfalls of a culture of materialism, over a gloomy, horn and key-driven slow-building beat from Lewis, anchored with a hook from a chorus of children. With “Same Love,” Lewis provides bright and uplifting instrumentation to perfectly reflect Macklemore’s forward-thinking analysis of hip-hop and society’s take on homosexuality and same sex marriage. “Thrift Shop” is a funky homage to the 2012 XXL Freshman’s preferred place of shopping. The Ab-Soul-assisted “Jimmy Iovine” is a futuristic-sounding fictional tale of pulling a heist to secure a major-label deal, before realizing it’s not all it’s cracked up to be (“Rather be a starving artist than succeed at getting fucked,” he concludes).


App:  Instagram

Reviewed by: Patrick Buchana

For the non-Smartphone people, all they ask is what does Instagram do and why do people love it. Those who have it, it’s the one app they rush to get on whenever they have credit or are using wifi. Let me take you through it briefly.
Pros: Instagram is the coolest way to change mundane images and videos into excellent-looking features that you share with your network out there.

Cons: It is a bit costly when someone hasn’t subscribed for the daily internet bundles unlike WhatsApp. The map features aren’t as accurate as they should be. And finally videos and pictures are mixed in the gallery.

The bottom line: With an addition of 15-second video clips, Instagram is tough to beat for photo and video sharing with an enormous and lively community.

You start by signing up with Instagram with an e-mail address, username, and password. From there you can configure Instagram to auto post to Facebook, Twitter, Flickr, Tumblr, Foursquare, and Posterous, or just choose to share images from within the app or via e-mail. You can also turn any of these options on or off if you don’t want to share your shots with everyone.

Once you’re connected, you’ll be able to snap a photo wherever you are, move and scale the image, add an effect with a touch of your finger, and then share your photographic moment with the world.

Gadget:  Toshiba Satellite U845T

Reviewed by: Patrick Buchana

The Toshiba Satellite U845T is one of the best laptops on the market right now and its perks go even higher basing on the fact that it is actually quite affordable. 

Pros: This Toshiba is thin, with a polite brushed-aluminum body, a 128GB SSD, and better performance and battery life than many 2013 laptops.

I would give this laptop 8 points out of 10 because at $799 for a 14-inch laptop that’s ultrabook-thin, with a touch screen, Intel Core i5 processor, and 128GB solid-state drive, it’s about as middle-of-the-road as laptops get.

For the moment, that makes the U845T the perfect example of a midsize, mid-priced laptop, and thanks to a sharp aluminum design and lack of any overly annoying or deal-killing flaws, it may end up being our default laptop recommendation for a lot of readers.

Cons: The keyboard with squeezed-down keys, a small spacebar, and some flex under heavy typing.


Book: Message from Nam

Author: Danielle Steel

As a journalist, Paxton Andrews would experience Vietnam firsthand. We follow her from high school in Savannah to college in Berkeley and then to work in Saigon. For the soldiers she knew and met there, Viet Nam would change their lives in ways they could never have imagined.

For the men in her life, Viet Nam would change their lives in ways hey could not escape or deny. For her and the men who fought in Viet Nam, life would never be the same again.

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