Down & Out in Reno: Recycled Records (Part Two)

recycled records part 2 storefront 2

Sequels are rarely up to the elan of the original work. Likewise, this follow-up to last week’s review of Recycled Records cannot possibly match the entertainment value of the original article.

recycled records part 2 storefrontMy first experience buying at Recycled Records was a fun and fruitful experience – dire urge to find a restroom aside. I managed to pick up two albums I had been looking for at a great price. I had some compact discs at home that I never listened to and decided to take a few of them in for a trade.

While Recycled Records will pay cash for CDs, don’t expect a lot. Even on its website, it warns that the payout is not a lot. Usually trade is the way to go with used record shops. And I wanted some new music anyways.

So I packed a Trader Joe’s paper bag with 18 CDs.  And left my tiny, carpeted prison I call my apartment and walked to Recycled Records to make a trade.

Here is what I took in:

pistolanniesiron maiden final frontiergorillazmoonrise kingdomloto musicsarahbrightman dreamshakira livelumineers

Sarah Brightman Dream Chaser
John Debney Predators (Soundtrack)
Dragonforce Sonic Firestorm
Gorillaz Demon Days
Iron Maiden The Final Frontier
Japan Koto Music Nonesuch Explorer Series
The Lumineers The Lumineers
Brad Paisley Wheelhorse
Brad Paisley Time Well Wasted
Pistol Annies Hell on Heels
Ennio Morricone The Good, The Bad, And The Ugly (Soundtrack)
Original Soundtrack Moonrise Kingdom
Original Soundtrack Sucker Punch
Various The Rocky Story
Shakira Live off the Record
John Williams Indiana Jones and the Kingdom of the Crystal Skull
Rage Against the Machine Evil Empire
The Verve Urban Hymns

 

The clerk refused Brad Paisley’s “Time Well Wasted” and The Verve’s “Urban Hymns” because the store already had too many copies.

As he added up my store credit, I walked around the store. It has a large selection of CDs and DVDs, and is starting to stock used Blu-Ray Discs. CDs, however, were on my mind. Immediately I found a copy of Adam and the Ants first album “Dirk Wears White Sox,” which had a $10 price tag. This is a good punk album, and I’ve been looking for a copy of it, especially the remastered version with bonus tracks.

The clerk told me I had $45 store credit. After browsing for an hour, I picked out eight albums.

adamandtheants dirkgabriel passionbowie lowmoby 18moby everythingbjork selmasongsbjork homogenicbjork debut

Adam and the Ants Dirk Wears White Sox (remastered and expanded)
Björk Debut
Björk Homogenic
Björk Selmasongs
David Bowie Low
Peter Gabriel Passion (Soundtrack for The Last Temptation of Christ)
Moby Everything Is Wrong
Moby 18

For some, this may seem like a bad deal. But both of my kids told me that the trade I got is much better than what they get trading video games as Gamestop. And I got some music that I enjoy.

I published this information to give you an idea of how trade works at Recycled Records. I can’t promise you’ll have the same experience, but I feel the store gave me a fair deal.

If you enjoy music, I recommend you go to Recycled Records, even if it is to just look around. While looking around, I checked out its vinyl selection. Picking up a Yes album, I was reminded of the haptic quality of these large album covers, packed with gatefold sleeves and amazing artwork.

Recycled Records is a local business, so its profits are Reno’s profits. It is run by locals. You save money. The local economy makes money. And we all get to enjoy some bitchin’ tunes. Check it out!

Recycled Records
822 South Virginia Street
Reno, NV 89501
(775) 826-4119
Hours: M-Th 10am-7pm, F-Sa 10am-8pm, Su 12pm-6pm
 

Copyright 2014 Tony George

Review: Sabotage

sabotageposterDirector David Ayer returns to his favorite subject, the corrupting power of authority, in “Sabotage,” a film about a team of DEA agents caught up in a scandal involving stolen drug money and a federal investigation.

The film opens with the team, led by John ‘Breacher’ Wharton (Arnold Schwarzenegger) raiding the home of a crime boss. During the raid, the team hides $10 million, eventually leading to an investigation of the team. The money is taken before they can retrieve it, and someone is murdering members of Wharton’s team.

To give a way more of the plot would require the typical “spoiler alert” warnings, as the film begins twisting and turning itself to keep the plot moving. “Sabotage” is entertaining and features some truly creative action scenes. Most notable is a scene which plays out as a series of back and forth cuts from the murder being committed to Wharton’s discovery of the crime scene. But, as the film progresses, the script seems to lose its way. It ends on such a bizarre note; I wasn’t sure if I should cheer for Wharton or grieve for him. Maybe it was just time to leave.

Script troubles aside, most of the film works just fine. Credit goes to director Ayer, who directed last years’ cop drama “End of Watch” and wrote “Training Day” for crafting a movie that makes us forgive some of its lapses in logic. Ayer’s co-writer, Skip Woods, wrote “A Good Day to Die Hard,” “X-Men Origins: Wolverine,” and many other passionless movies. “Sabotage” seems to be trying to merge Ayer’s realism with Woods’ big Hollywood movie approach. I would have preferred a movie that looked even deeper into the corrupting effect of the drug underworld on law enforcement.

The cast, however, rises above the script, especially Schwarzenegger. I admit, I am a big fan of Arnold. I followed his career as a bodybuilder when I was a kid. I spent a good chunk of my life watching his movies. However, in the two “Expendables” films, he seemed wooden, perhaps from too many years sitting in the governor’s chair. But those appearances were just cameos. I enjoyed “The Last Stand,” but, again, he seemed a bit stiff, physically and creatively. “Escape Plan” showed Schwarzenegger returning to his pre-political charm, playing a tough but likeable inmate. In “Sabotage,” Schwarzenegger is tough and hard, not in the near self-parody way of his Regan-era films. His Wharton is a man that has suffered and Schwarzenegger infuses his character with an edge I have never seen in the actor.

Olivia Williams also stands out as a homicide detective investigating the deaths of Wharton’s team members. Williams, 45, lets her age show. She plays a person who has worked hard in law enforcement. Schwarzenegger’s leading ladies have tended to be very self-determined women and Williams does not disappoint. Her character is never the victim in this film. She can handler herself.

I enjoyed this film. While there are some script troubles and some odd pacing, it is an engaging film with plenty of violence and nudity to entertain audiences looking for some thrills. I just wish it spent more time revealing the world of drug enforcement.

Down & Out in Reno: Recycled Records (Part One)

recycled records frontI don’t care how poor you are. You got to have some tunes! It doesn’t matter if you are a living-paycheck-to-paycheck type of poor or the sleeping-under-a-bridge-marinated-in-your-own-urine poor. Music humanizes us. I have had some rough patches in my life, and people love to judge a person for enjoying anything when you are poor as shit.

“How dare you to listen to that Ace of Base CD when you say you can’t find a job. The only sign you should pay attention to is a “Help Wanted” sign.

Screw them. You need some new music. But money is tight. What are you going to do?

A few weeks ago, I was walking along Virginia Street along what has become mid-town Reno. I knew Recycled Records had moved there around December 2012 but had never taken the time to stop and check them out. I had been to the store when it was on Kietzke Lane to buy a ticket to see Kittie, but that was in 2007.

I had been looking for an album by Beck titled “Mutations.” Like most of the music I enjoy, Best Buy and Barnes & Noble don’t stock much by Beck. As I walked past Recycled Records, I decided to enter and take a peek.

Walking into the narrow, cramped store, I looked at a shelf that said “This just in.” And what was there? “Mutations” by Beck. Score! The price was $8 for the used CD, cheaper – and quicker – than ordering on Amazon. I continued to look at CDs, DVDs, and vinyl. The place is packed with merchandise. It even has cassette tapes.

Recycled Records was started in 1978, but its current owner, Paul Doege, purchased it in 1980. Since then it made a few moves around Kietzke Lane until it ended up in Reno’s midtown. This location, while smaller than past places, is at the heart of Reno’s small business and artisan community. It belongs in midtown.

The urge to use a bathroom grew stronger as I walked around, but its bathroom had a sign reading “for employees only.” Not wanting to advance to the later version of poor mentioned in my opening, I decided it was time to take Beck, along with a Moby album, up to Eric and pay up.

I'm easy to please. The CDs were used (of course) but in great shape. For $13, I left Recycled Records with a grin on my face (and the dire urge to use a bathroom -- read the story).

I’m easy to please. The CDs were used (of course) but in great shape. For $13, I left Recycled Records with a grin on my face (and the dire urge to use a bathroom — read the story).

“I just put this Beck CD out there a few minutes ago,” Eric said.

“This is the exact item I was looking for. Have you heard his new album?” I said.

“No, I ordered it, but it hasn’t arrived. How is it?” Eric asked.

“Great. It reminds me a lot of ‘Sea Change,’ a low-key affair,” I said.

“So it’s kind of like ‘Mutations’ then?”

“Now that I think about it, yes.”

I asked him about the stores trading and selling policy. He said an appointment is required if I want to sell some used CDs for cash, but for trades, anytime is fine. He also said trade value was higher than cash value.

I have plenty of CDs I do not like and decided a trade would be a good way to get rid of my Pistol Annies CD and get something I like.

From this first real visit and purchase, I found Recycled Records to have some great deals. If it has more than four copies of an album, Recycled Records will cut the price in half. Most CDs sell for $8 used, but Recycled Records will take $2 off the total if you buy two. In my case, thanks to our shared respect for Beck, Eric charged me $13 for the Beck and Moby albums.

Did I return with some CDs to trade? You bet I did. How well the trade went, and more about my adventures at Recycled Records will be featured in part two.

And, yes, I did find a bathroom in time.

Recycled Records
822 South Virginia Street
Reno, NV 89501
(775) 826-4119
Hours: M-Th 10am-7pm, F-Sa 10am-8pm, Su 12pm-6pm
 

Copyright 2014 Tony George

Down & Out in Reno: Plato’s Closet

Located at 1535 South Virginia Street in Reno, Plato's Closet sits at the southern border of Reno's popular midtown.

Located at 1535 South Virginia Street in Reno, Plato’s Closet sits at the southern border of Reno’s popular midtown.

INTRODUCTION

Most of the biographies of my favorite writers end with something along the lines of “died penniless.” As a writer, “died penniless” does not bring glad tidings of future financial success. However, I love to write, so here I am, working low-wage, part-time jobs, hoping to finish my novel and get hired writing for a media outlet or an ad agency.

Poverty sucks. Living in a small studio apartment on First Street is not living the dream. Celibacy sucks too, but that’s another story.  With Nevada’s unemployment rate still at 9 percent, ranking 50 out of 51 – suck it Rhode Island – many Nevadans have opted to buy second hand items through thrift store and stores that specialize in recycled merchandise. Call us cheap or thrifty, but the goal is the same; to get something you want or need cheaper than you would at retail. I prefer the word “parsimonious.” If you have to be thrifty, you can at least sound like an elitist snob!

“Down & Out in Reno” is a multi-part series I am writing as I travel around town, looking for some good deals. I will be looking for deals from a variety of shops, including charity-driven thrift shops, for profit thrift shops, and other places that offer deals.

So let’s get started!

PLATO’S CLOSET

Located at the southern end of Reno’s midtown, Plato’s Closet is a national franchise, but each store is owner-operated. It specializes in gently-used, name-brand clothing, with a focus on the twenty-something demographic.

At 45, I’m outside of Plato’s target shopper, but I have found it to be a fun experience with a friendly staff, great items, and with prices better than some other thrift shops.

This Express purple and white shit ($7.99) is another great deal I got at Plato's Closet. (And again, I need to take better shots of these clothes and iron them. Next time!).

This Express purple and white shit ($7.99) is another great deal I got at Plato’s Closet. (And again, I need to take better shots of these clothes and iron them. Next time!).

Aeropostale polo shirt, $4.99. (Yes, I need to take better pictures of these clothes -- and iron them). This shirt is 100 percent cotton and feels great.

Aeropostale polo shirt, $4.99. (Yes, I need to take better pictures of these clothes — and iron them). This shirt is 100 percent cotton and feels great.

The store bustled a recent Saturday evening as people from a large span of ages and backgrounds came into the store, searching for clothing as if it was lost treasure. One man was simply looking for a pair of jeans, and quickly found what he was looking for. A young man in his early 20s came in with his arms full of shirts to sell. The clerk look through them, picking out the ones the store could use and giving him back ones that were stained. Parents brought their tween children in to find clothing for school. While the store focuses on shoppers in their twenties, shoppers of all ages seemed to enjoy their hunt for a great deal.

And that includes me. I had no specific plan, but I found two shirts that I liked and quickly bought them.

The staff was friendly and helpful. With the place busy, it would have been easy for the staff to get overwhelmed. Instead, they were attentive and kept everyone happy.

Like any place that deals with used items, it takes time to look around Plato’s Closet. And finding your size adds to the challenge. However, the store is well laid out, making searching for clothes easier.

 

 

 

Plato’s Closet Reno
1535 South Virginia Street 
Reno, NV 89502 
775-322-0110

Monday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Tuesday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Wednesday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Thursday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Friday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Saturday 10 a.m. to 9 p.m.
Sunday 10 a.m. to 7 p.m.

Rise of a Franchise?

Sullivan Stapleton stars as Greek general Themistocles in director Noam Murro's follow-up to 2006's "300." Photo courtesy of Warner Brothers and Legendary Films.

Sullivan Stapleton stars as Greek general Themistocles in director Noam Murro’s follow-up to 2006’s “300.” Photo courtesy of Warner Brothers and Legendary Films.

With the death of the main characters, a sequel to Zack Snyder’s 300 seems far fetched, almost as ridiculous as a proposed Gladiator sequel that almost happened. However, 300: Rise of an Empire manages to be an entertaining, bloody good time.

The movie is not a sequel, or even a prequel, to the original film. The best way to describe it is as a “parallelquel,” a story that takes place along side the Battle of Thermopylae.  While the film occasionally returns to the 300 Spartans, its focus is on Themistocles (Sullivan Stapleton), an Athenian general who fought at the Battle of Marathon.

During that battle – according to the movie, not history – Themistocles shot the arrow that killed Persia’s King Darius I and set in motion the rise of Xerxes. Years pass and Themistocles is a politician in Athens who rallies men to fight the Persian onslaught. Meanwhile, Xerxes (Rodrigo Santoro), now the god of bling bling, has assigned general Artemisia (Eva Green) to engage the Greeks by sea.

Unlike 300, Rise is mainly the story of Greece’s naval battles with Persia, focusing on the battles of Artemisium and Salamis.  The battles are dramatic and visually gorgeous. Like the original, Rise has the look of a graphic novel – although the visuals here look more like Immortals – but the color palette is richer than 300’s sepia and blood swathed filters. The style of 300 has been stolen and used too much since the film’s release. Starz’ Spartacus series used it to good effect. I enjoyed Immortals. However, Renny Harlin’s The Legend of Hercules and Paul W.S. Anderson’s Pompeii looked cheap. I recently re-watched Troy, which used a classic, realistic look. I miss that look. But Rise has more right than any film to use the visual style of 300.

Zack Snyder, busy making films about another hero in a red cape, serves as co-writer for Rise. Noam Murro takes over the reigns well, creating a mythic vision of Greece as the cradle of democracy and heroes. He adds more blood and gore to his film, although most of the CGI blood disappears into the digital ether.

Eva Green stars as Artemisia, the only Persian fleet commander discussed in detail by Herodotus. Although portrayed as a villain in the film, she is a strong female character in a male-dominated story. Photo courtesy of Warner Brothers and Legendary Pictures.

Eva Green stars as Artemisia, the only Persian fleet commander discussed in detail by Herodotus. Although portrayed as a villain in the film, she is a strong female character in a male-dominated story. Photo courtesy of Warner Brothers and Legendary Pictures.

Stapleton is fine as the lead, but he portrays a much different type of leader than Gerard Butler’s Leonidas. Themistocles is a more practical man and not obsessed with the beautiful death the Spartans considered a holy experience. Although she is handed some silly dialogue, Green stands above the chaos as Artemisa, the Persian general.  Both Eva Green and Lena Headey, returning as Queen Gorgo, portray strong women, capable of leading. If only Green didn’t spend so much time staring into nothingness. Since the film is more concerned with hero worship than historical accuracy, it never mentions that both of these figures were strong women outside the normal Greek social structures, which demanded that women stay home and not be a part of society.

I hope Rise sets off a franchise of films based in this fictional version of ancient Greece. What’s next? That would have to be the Battle of Plataea, the one that ended the war.  Xenophon’s The Persian Expedition is another great one. Why that has not been adapted to film is a mystery to me. It’s a great story with action and drama. Finally, Snyder and company can tackle Alexander the Great, but make it more exciting and comprehendible than Oliver Stone’s misguided film.

Rise is not a smart movie, or a historical document. Like 300, it takes Greek history and adds a dash of fantasy, creating a mythology that makes sense within the two films.  I don’t go to these expecting to be educated. I want to be entertained. And 300: Rise of an Empire entertained.

Copyright 2014 Tony George