Producer/DJ Mark Ronson knows a thing or two about funk, having produced megahits for Amy Winehouse and Bruno Mars. Uptown Special has already zoomed to No. 1 on the Billboard charts, with only sky above. It’s a star-studded ode to a more innocent and melodic time, borrowing the synth sounds and drumbeats of Michael Jackson’s “Off the Wall” grooves of the early 1980s. Mars, rapper Mystikal, and Stevie Wonder guest star, with Ronson’s buddy novelist Michael Chabon collaborating on lyrics.
Smart phone timeout
If you find yourself reaching for your smart phone instead of focusing on more important tasks, check out Digital Detach. This app lets you temporarily turn your Android device back into a dumb phone. You can send and receive calls and messages, but e-mail, Facebook, Twitter, and all of your other apps take a timeout. It’s available in the Google Play store for $1.99.
Prep for the Oscars
Looking to catch up on Best Picture Oscar nominees before the Feb. 22 ceremony? Nominees “Boyhood” and “The Grand Budapest Hotel” are available on DVD and Blu-ray, while “Birdman” and “The Theory of Everything” both arrive on Feb. 17, giving you time to watch before the big night. “American Sniper,” “The Imitation Game,” and “Selma” came out near the end of 2014, so they may still be in a theater near you. See oscar.go.com for more information on nominees.
Battling the blazes
On Feb. 3, “American Experience” on PBS presents The Big Burn, the story of the 1910 Rockies wildfire – the biggest fire in US history. The conflagration was fought by the members of the still-young US Forest Service, and their methods – good and bad – are still providing lessons on how to combat wildfires today. “The Big Burn” premières at 9 p.m. EST. Check local listings for rebroadcasts.
From Cut Video comes a look at hair and makeup styles over the past 100 years. In the clip, a team of makeup artists seamlessly transition a model to re-create the fashion mores of each decade, from the demure elegance of 1910 to the bouncy waves of the 1950s to the intense eyeshadow of the 1980s up to the present decade – captured with a requisite selfie. Check it out at http://bit.ly/beautybydecade.