April 30th, 2012, by

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

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.


April 30th, 2012, by

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

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.

April 29th, 2012, by

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, 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.

April 29th, 2012, by

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

April 28th, 2012, by

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.

April 25th, 2012, by

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
  • 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.


  • 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)


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

April 25th, 2012, by

In the modern era of technology gadgets and devices, Yves Behar is in a class of his own. Recognized for his innovative creations and sleek designs, he’s risen from obscure creator to creative leader. This designer extraordinaire was born in Lausanne, Switzerland, Behar and began his journey into the design world in Europe before coming to the U.S.

His studies took him to the West Coast, where he studied at the Art Center College of Design in California and began to take the world by storm. His designs and styling have captured the attention and partnership of companies like G.E.,  PUMA and Prada. Of his many creations, Behar is credited with the “XO,” the world’s first $100 laptop, for millions of children in need around the world. He’s been the topic of conversation in Fast Company and featured on the cover of publications such as TIME and Wired magazine– and a speaker at TED for his work. This year, Behar is releasing an updated, more capable $100 laptop, the OLPC XO 3.0, to a highly anticipating audience. Recently, CNN recognized Behar’s work by selecting him for the “the Next List,” an archive of the world’s most fascinating people. Be sure to check out the clip below.



April 24th, 2012, by

Tell me if this sounds familiar: You’re in a conversation with someone and you want to reference gnocchi. Or perhaps Nietzsche. Or famous Green Bay Packers’ quarterback Brett Favre. Only thing is, you’re not 100% sure how to pronounce the name in question. Yikes. Talk about embarrassing!

So, after mumbling something under your breath or trailing off when you get the the word, you decide to settle this once and for all. How do you pronounce “quinoa,” anyway? As with all big questions of our time, the Internet will doubtless have the answers. Only, as with all big questions of our time, the first answer the Internet offers may be a lie. Or a funny joke.

Such is the case of Pronunciation Book vs. Pronunciation Manual. The former is an earnest attempt to help people correctly pronounce difficult words, like “schadenfreude” and “Deadmau5,” while the latter is a spoof, offering ridiculous interpretations of similar words. “Chipotle” becomes “Sssshantoodle,” “Gucci” becomes “gookathantchi” (or somethine like that). LOLs ensue, and probably a fair amount of confusion as well. Isn’t the Internet awesome? So much information, so many laughs, so much wasted time.

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