STAFF & GUEST BLOG
May 6th, 2012, by Jeremy Freed

In this series of posts, I will be highlighting some of the best and most innovative podcasts on the web, as well as a few that I just think are plain cool.

My introduction to Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim came first through B’Owl, a mock-infomercial for a children’s toy that is part bat and part owl. It’s taken from Heidecker and Wareheim’s Tim and Eric Awesome Show, Great Job! and is a very strange video, satirizing TV-borne consumerism with a level of absurdity not seen since Monty Python’s heyday. At the time it was like nothing I’d seen before, and, for a while, I was convinced it was the funniest thing I’d ever laid eyes on. Then I discovered their series of vodka commercials for Absolut, co-starring Zach Galifianakis, and I became convinced that they were the funniest things I’d ever laid eyes on. I subsequently became a huge Tim and Eric fan.

If you enjoyed either of those phenomena as much as I did, you’ll also enjoy Heidecker’s satirical podcast series, On Cinema. If you were staring at your screen in puzzlement, wondering why those grown men are wearing beehive wigs and sitting in too-small furniture, well…you should probably just move on to the next post. While some have attempted to explain their humor, it’s something, much like cilantro or Kevin Smith movies, that you either like or you don’t–explanation rarely makes a difference.

Heidecker’s deliberately DIY-sounding On Cinema features him playing himself (or a version thereof) across from his friend and fellow comedian Gregg Turkington, a self-proclaimed “film expert.” Together, the two of them set out to discuss a new favorite film in each week’s podcast, from 12 Angry Men to the recent remake of The Three Stooges, and usually don’t get very far. What happens, instead, is the two of them end up passive-aggressively bickering about minutiae for a few minutes, while trying to remember if the film in question won any Oscars or is available on DVD.

Beyond that, it’s a bit hard to explain why On Cinema is so funny, but it’s clearly a send-up of the podcast medium, and those who take to it without really having anything to say. At an average of about three minutes per episode, they exemplify Heidecker’s unique sense of humor, while not overstaying their welcome. If you enjoy it, this could open the to door to the rest of Tim and Eric’s oevre. If you find it too weird, you’re certainly not alone.

 

PRIMER
May 1st, 2012, by Carla Amurao

Screenshot from satellite interview

 

Airdate | Tuesday, May 1, 2012

Hometown | Pass Christian, MS

Parents | Lawrence E. Roberts and Lucimarian Roberts

Why You (Should) Know Her:

  • She’s the co-anchor of ABC’s Good Morning America.
  • When she joined ESPN as a sportscaster in 1990, she made a name for herself with her catchphrase “Go on with your bad self!”
  • She was the first journalist to interview President Obama after his inauguration.

Why She’s Buzzing | Just in time for Mother’s Day, her new text, My Story, My Song, which was written with her mother, shares stories of their lives and what they learned from each other through their collaboration.

Robin Roberts Trivia

  • During the 2011 WNBA All-Star Game, Roberts’ broadcasting work was honored for its impact on women’s basketball.
  • Roberts was inducted into the Women’s Basketball Hall of Fame.
  • Her father, Lawrence, was a pilot with the Tuskegee Airmen.
  • Roberts graduated cum laude from Southeastern Louisiana University with a degree in communication.
  • A skilled basketball player, she turned down an athletic scholarship to Louisiana State University after visiting the campus. She still played for the Southeastern Louisiana University team, becoming one of only three Lady Lions to score 1,000 career points and claim 1,000 career rebounds. Her #21 jersey was retired during a ceremony held in February 2011.
  • She earned three Emmy Awards for her work with ESPN.
  • She was also given the WBCA’s Mel Greenberg Media Award in 2001.
  • Roberts drove the Pace Car for the 2010 Indianapolis 500 in May 2010.
  • On July 31, 2007, during a live broadcast, Roberts announced that she had been diagnosed with breast cancer. Ironically, it was after she had worked on a special covering Joel Siegel’s farewell on GMA. Siegel died from colon cancer. By March 2008, she had completed her chemotherapy and radiation treatments. (see video here)

Bibliography

2007   From the Heart: Seven Rules to Live By
2012   My Story, My Song: Mother-Daughter Reflections on Life and Faith

STAFF & GUEST BLOG
April 30th, 2012, by Jeremy Freed

There are plenty of places to download music online–some legal, some otherwise. Somewhere in the middle are a network of blogs dedicated to preserving and sharing obscure and out-of-print music, not for profit, but simply for enjoyment. Electric Jive is my latest discovery in this realm and has led to a recent accumulation of a mountain of amazing African tunes from decades past.

In the documentary on the making of Paul Simon’s “Graceland,” Under African Skies, Simon remarks on how he became obsessed with a mixtape of South African accordion jive, and it was that collection which inspired him to record there. A search of the kind of music that Simon would have heard on that tape turned up Electric Jive, a lovingly-curated archive of African sounds, from traditional to jazz to the very same kind of accordion, sax and guitar tunes that got Simon so excited.

Electric Jive is more than just a depository of music, however. It also compiles everything from original cover art, to scans of records, to all kinds of biographical and cultural information, as well as copious photos and anecdotes about the artists it presents. I’d encourage anyone with an interest in world music to check out the collection on Electric Jive, starting with this dance-happy collection of accordion hits. Your money back guaranteed if it doesn’t get you moving.

April 30th, 2012, by Sean Nixon

It was all laughs in DC this past weekend. The 98th annual White House Correspondents Dinner was held Saturday. The annual event allows a brief reprieve for the president and journalists to let their hair down, so to speak, and take in a night of celebration, achievement, – and camaraderie for the field of journalism.

Guests for the event included a number of journalists, politicians and celebrities. Comedian Jimmy Kimmel hosted the event. The president took to the podium later and pulled no punches. Jokes ranged from Hilary Clinton’s night out on the town, Rick Santorum’s “snobbish” remarks,- to the Secret Service.

Even with a night of fun and laughs, there’s always work to done in DC. Between all of the schmoozing, handshakes,- and hugs, someone’s bound to make a deal. Ted Johnson’s article in Variety magazine goes in depth to show just how valuable a weekend in DC can be during the Correspondents Dinner. All in all, it’s a great night and a lot of fun.

Check out the clip below to get a glimpse of the president’s turn at the podium during the evenings festivities.

 

STAFF & GUEST BLOG
April 30th, 2012, by Sean Nixon

Knowing the details of financial aid can save you thousands in college costs.

To many students across the country, nothing is more exciting than an acceptance letter to the school of their choice. Thoughts of tailgate parties, lifelong friends and late nights in the library begin to fill the minds of these soon-to-be high school graduates.

But, enthusiasm alone won’t protect them from the skyrocketing costs of college. TIME magazine’s Kayla Webley has a must-read for anyone preparing to attend college. As a freshman in college years ago, I can tell you I wish I had something like this to keep me informed.

Students today must be made well aware of the costs, both in time and career earnings, of their student debt. As with any agreement, it’s always best to look at the fine print, and TIME‘s article definitely lays it all out for everyone to see.

Webley’s article points out the need-to-know basics of financial aid, as well as some of the little-known facts. For example, many colleges frontload in their financial aid packages for students. The term refers to colleges and universities giving students a higher amount of grants and scholarships early on in their academic career, which dwindle away as students continue their academics. This can make a college or university appear to be more generous for a student evaluating different financial aid packages.

Many students have worked diligently to prepare themselves for college by studying late hours, remaining academically competitive, networking and showing themselves to be well-rounded candidates to universities. With talks of job uncertainty, student debt and the unemployment numbers taking center stage in the national dialogue, Webley’s article is much needed, as millions of high school graduates take to the stage to receive their diplomas. Knowledge in any situation is half the battle to achieving one’s personal goals; so, take some time to get informed today. Not knowing can cost you seriously down the road.

April 29th, 2012, by Sean Nixon

While it sounds like an opening scene in a new George Lucas film, the fantasy is no longer science fiction — its finally here. Terrafugia, a Massachusetts-based automotive group, appears to have made a tremendous jump in the much-awaited creation of the flying car.

For years, many researchers and scientists have been returning to the drawing board to bring the elusive construct into reality. Despite many efforts however, engineers and researchers still could not figure out how to create a flying car. In fact, it wasn’t until researchers changed their thinking that they had an “aha moment” — and began working on a street-legal plane. And so, the company with an eye for the future began working on new designs.

Terraguia’s Transition, the company’s  light sport aircraft, will be available for purchase later in 2012. After its appearance at the New York Auto Show, people have already started placing orders for the new vehicle/aircraft. While it will take some time before this modern day phenomenon becomes more commonplace, the mere idea of it as an option is phenomenal. But, before you run out to buy one for yourself, be sure to bring your wallet. Terrafugia’s new street legal plane will set you back $279,000. Consider it an astonishing price for the future. Take a look at the mock-up version of the Transition from Terrafugia below.

STAFF & GUEST BLOG
April 29th, 2012, by Jeremy Freed

Image: LWVC via Flickr

As we move into what will doubtless be an extremely contentious pre-election season, there will be much to get upset about. Indeed, from Gingrich’s wacky moon base pitch to Romney’s rich-guy-isms to everything about Rick Santorum, there has already been much to dislike about the people standing between Obama and a second term in the White House.

It’s easy to loathe folks with opinions that diverge from our own, especially in election times. It’s even easier to forget that the people behind the divergent opinions and provocative soundbites are just that: people. Former Daily Show producer Michael Rubens makes this the point of a new editorial on Salon.com, about his days booking interview subjects for the show and discovering that, despite their often bizarre and distorted views, they were as often as not incredibly decent people. This may sound obvious, not to mention a bit simplistic, but there’s much truth to it.

Rubens writes:

“I lived in a little bubble surrounded by people who think more or less like me. And when I considered people with opposing viewpoints I would turn into a fabulist, concocting an entire narrative of who they were and what they were like — and what they were like was yucko. Because I was not really interacting with them. I just thought I was, because, hey, look, there they are on the TV, or there’s that guy’s post in the comments section. But that stuff doesn’t count. Meeting people counts. Talking counts.”

So, let’s all just take a deep breath and remember that people are just people, and politics are politics, and if we all try not to loathe each other quite so much, we might just be happier and more prosperous as a result. Sounds crazy, I know.

STAFF & GUEST BLOG
April 29th, 2012, by Jeremy Freed

Well that’s the most depressing thing I’ve read all week. Still, if everyone in America read Edward Humes’ new book, Garbology, we might be able to begin to curb our nation’s world-leading addiction to throwing things away.

From literal mountains of methane-emitting refuse outside of Los Angeles, to the massive gyres of plastic bits that are spreading across the world’s oceans, Pulitzer-winner Humes shines a light on humankind’s dirtiest secret: our garbage.

Among his most surprising findings, from the LA Times:

America’s biggest export is trash — the scrap paper and metal we throw away. The Chinese buy it, make products out of it, sell them back to us at enormous profit, and we turn it into trash again. America, the country that once made things for the world, is now China’s trash compactor.

The average American community spends more on waste management than fire protection, libraries, parks and recreation and textbooks.

Things are much worse than the official stats suggest. The EPA, which publishes our annual “trash bible” of municipal waste statistics, uses an outdated method that vastly underestimates our waste and overestimates our recycling.

The situation is pretty bad, as you might imagine after reading those statements. But there are things we can all do. Like, for instance, throwing less stuff in the trash. You can read more from Humes in his recent editorial on Forbes.com.

SEEN & HEARD
April 28th, 2012, by Carla Amurao

Every now and then, the tables are turned and it’s Tavis sitting on the hot seat. Interviewed by the dean of the talk show genre, Phil Donahue, Tavis and Dr. Cornel West discussed their new text, among other social issues.

Speaking of social issues, actress and Southern belle Annie Potts stopped by to discuss her thoughts on conservatives who critiqued her show, GCB, and how her upbringing influenced her to accept her role in the show. Children’s author Judy Blume also paid us a visit and gave her two cents on censorship in the Internet age.

As summer quickly approaches, the influx of Hollywood blockbusters begins to create a buzz–just ask actor Clark Gregg. Summer is also the time for hitting the beach and relaxation, which means posting up with an interesting read or some soothing tunes. Between author Ayad Akhtar, actor-turned-author Frank Langella and crooner Steve Tyrell, you’ve got a head start on picking out some summer material.

Check out images of and quotes from the last two weeks and share your thoughts.

Phil Donahue image courtesy of Earl Gibson III. All on-set images by Van Evers, Tavis Smiley Media, Inc.

PRIMER
April 25th, 2012, by Carla Amurao

Photo courtesy: Van Evers, Tavis Smiley Media, Inc.

Airdate | Wednesday, April 25, 2012

Hometown | Elizabeth, NJ

Parents | Esther and Ralph Sussman

Why You (Should) Know Her:

  • Her novels were some of the first that were geared towards teenagers and youths, targeting touchy topics such as racism, menstruation, divorce, bullying, masturbation and teen sex—and were a source of controversy.
  • She is the founder and trustee of The Kids Fund and serves on the boards of the Author’s Guild, the Society of Children’s Book Writers and Illustrators, the Key West Literary Seminar and the National Coalition Against Censorship.

Judy Blume Trivia

  • Over 80 million copies of her books have been sold, and her work has been translated into 31 languages, according to www.judyblume.com
  • Blume graduated with a B.S. in education from New York University. NYU named her a Distinguished Alumna in 1996.
  • When she got the phone call from a publisher offering her the first publishing deal in her career, for The One in the Middle is the Green Kangaroo, her celebrations sent her son’s friend home crying.
  • According to Blume, Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing is the only book she’s ever written that she didn’t have to revise; it was published just as it was when she submitted her manuscript to the publisher.
  • She has won over 90 literary awards.
  • Not only does Blume recall vivid memories of being read aloud to by her school teachers, but she is an advocate for teachers reading aloud to their students.
  • Blume is recognized as one of the United States’ most banned children’s authors. As a result of this reputation, she joined the National Coalition Against Censorship.

Awards

  • American Library Association’s Margaret A. Edwards Award (1996)
  • Library of Congress Living Legends Writers & Artists Award (2000)
  • National Book Foundation Medal for Distinguished Contribution to American Letters (2004)

Bibliography

1969   The One in the Middle is the Green Kangaroo
1970   Iggie’s House
1970   Are You There God? It’s Me, Margaret
1971   Then Again, Maybe I Won’t
1971   Freckle Juice
1972   It’s Not the End of the World
1972   Tales of a Fourth Grade Nothing
1972   Otherwise Known as Sheila the Great
1973   Deenie
1974   The Pain and the Great One
1974   Blubber
1975   Forever
1977   Starring Sally J. Freedman as Herself
1978   Wifey
1980   Superfudge
1981   Tiger Eyes
1981   The Judy Blume Diary
1983   Smart Women
1986   Letters to Judy: What Kids Wish They Could Tell You
1987   Just as Long as We’re Together
1990   Fudge-a-Mania
1993   Here’s to You, Rachel Robinson
1998   Summer Sisters
1999   Places I Never Meant to Be
2002   Double Fudge
2007  Soupy Saturdays with the Pain and the Great One
2008  Going, Going, Gone! with the Pain and the Great One

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