Today’s Interesting – Political Writers are Sports Writers; the Washington Post is Unbalanced; and Snuffleupagus!

October 13, 2010

• If you took this Bill Simmon’s column about how sports reporting works and switched all the references to political ones (minus the personal stuff about his twitter error), it would still be true. That makes me sad.

• By treating the suicide of gay teenagers as an issue that requires balance, the Washington Post shows us everything that’s dumb about the media in one easy step.

• Snuffleupagus’ first name is Aloysius! And the reason he started interacting with the adult cast makes a great of sense.


Greg Giraldo and Direct Confrontation on Television

October 6, 2010

Comedian Greg Giraldo passing last week brought to my attention a video clip featuring him that’s both remarkable and illuminating for being such.

I knew of Greg Giraldo mainly from his appearances on podcasts and some online clips, and he always seemed like a comedian who used comedy to hunt for truth. This remembrance, written by fellow comic and friend Ted Alexandro is very affecting.

Many of the posts about Mr. Giraldo link to a particular clip from the show Tough Crowd, in which he gets into it with, comic-turned-actor, Denis Leary, as an example of his wit and fearlessness. That clip is here, the conversation is about conflict with North Korea with the relevant bit starting at 3:20 (though the whole clip worth’s watching just to see how quickly he elevates the discourse):

It’s great TV. One smart person arguing with an even smarter person, and the two going directly at each other.

What’s remarkable about it is the tension that watching it, even now, produces. I think that’s because the clip shows us something that’s surprisingly rare on television, two people disagreeing with each other without compromise.

Cable news, mainly devoted to covering a political moment in which each party thinks the other is not just wrong, but crazy, hardly ever produces that kind of direct confrontation. If we had more of it, not to mention more social commentators like Greg Giraldo, our discourse might be in better shape.

Today’s Interesting – the Facebook Movie, Football Geekery, and Pro Wrestling Casualties

October 4, 2010

• A look at The Social Network from Lawrence Lessig that asks interesting questions about what the movie gets wrong. It also makes a fascinating point about what made Facebook’s rise different and how we might be on the verge of losing that.

• This is the kind of writing about football that makes my head hurt and my heart swell. I love reading something that lets me the see new things during a game.

• I’m a fan of professional wrestling and have a huge amount of respect for the unique combination of athletic and acting ability that a successful wrestler has, but with the way the business treats its people its far more like human cockfighting than boxing or ultimate fighting are. If you read this piece by Dave Zirin and think that WWE executive (and the wife of its founder) Linda McMahon belongs anywhere near the Senate, I’d love to hear from you.

Pocket Rocket Video!

September 29, 2010

A while back I took a comedy class that suggested, among other things, that one of the best ways to get a job in comedy was to start making funny videos for the internet.

I thought immediately of a funny, and clean, song my wife Jodi had written about an, um, adult *cough* toy, and that it deserved the music video treatment.

Ta da!

We made the costume out of a giant cardboard tube that a fabric shop was using for scraps and silver fabric from the aforementioned shop. It was extremely heavy and hot, and many thanks go to the unnamed person who wore it for the shoot.

(First video in a series!)


Stood Up – Nerves and Things

September 28, 2010

Stand up attempt number: 3

Location: A pleasant open mic night that features both singers and comedians.

Singer to Comedian Ratio: 2 to 1

What I talked about:

Recycling – My embarrassment over what mine says about me.

Highly alcoholic beverages – Earthquake beer and Joose, specifically.

Toothbrushes – How multiple identical toothbrushes equal zero toothbrushes and why that is so.

Miley Cyrus and the perpetuation of celebrity – A thought experiment about whether or not people currently famous will ever cease to be famous.

Response: Giggles. Some chuckles. A bit of confused silence.

Feedback from People I’m not Married To: Strong material that wasn’t properly sold. I seemed very nervous. (I was.) And that I ought to start videotaping my sets.

Personal impression: Not a bad 3rd attempt. Gets easier each time. Looking forward to the next.

Today’s Interesting – Nicki Minaj; Pat Tillman; Superman

September 27, 2010

• A look at a Nicki Minaj verse and it’s performance by people on Youtube that references Cole Porter, Mary Martin, Marilyn Monroe, and Anna Nicole Smith? And that includes the sentence, “what we’re seeing now is fans … playing Nicki Minaj playing Roman Zolanski playing Anna Nicole Smith playing Marilyn Monroe playing Mary Martin playing herself 72 years ago.” Awesome.

• Bill Maher interviews Pat Tillman’s brother. Includes some disquieting stuff about friendly fire and the Army’s preparedness in terms of covering up such incidents. Also, a powerful review of Jon Krakauer’s book about Tillman’s life, death, and the cover-up is at the sports site Kissing Suzy Kolber. Well worth reading.

• The day on which I no longer care about things like who’s going to direct the next Superman movie will be a happy one in terms what it means about my personal maturity and a sad one for the same reason. (Despite not having seen any of his movies, I strongly feel that the next director should be Duncan Jones, and will argue against the other possibilities with the full power of my nerd rage.)

I Go to the Theater and See the Musical “Next to Normal”

September 27, 2010

Next to Normal is a musical that’s great because it’s content to be simply good.

It’s not an attempt at “reinventing the musical.”

It presents its story with a musical palette based on rock and roll, but it’s not a “rock and roll musical”.

Most importantly, it’s not cynical. Or cool. Or arch.

A story about a family dealing with serious mental illness, Next to Normal doesn’t offer any answers, nor create any villains. While there are revelations and reveals, they’re never sinister. The story’s straightforward, and confident enough in the telling to let that be enough.

It’s quite wonderful to see a musical that stakes out a particular territory and simply owns that.


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