More accurately: The Merlin Show visits me, at my mom's house. Also: I claim to have killed a lion, like my hero, Manute Bol.
My favorite TV critic, Tim Goodman of the SF Chronicle, has decided to let the cat out of the bag: Deadwood creator David Milch's new series "John From Cincinatti" is bad.
"John From Cincinnati" is bad. I love David Milch and he's definitely a misunderstood visionary and a real character in the TV business. But this show is a total mess.
My full review doesn't run until June 10 - it's the cover of the Sunday Pink section. But I figured you might want to get a head start on the anger and mourning and those thoughts of retribution. You know, have your gods ready for blood and all that. No sane person can pretend to know what Milch was thinking. It's his right as an artist and, as I've noted, a misunderstood visionary, to do as he wishes. But HBO? A total blunder. You don't let one of the great series on all of television fizzle out for...uh, for what? And even if those two two-hour movies do get made, they can't make up for the truncated legacy of "Deadwood."
Editor's note: long-time listener and freelance journalist Ian Brill will be contributing a weekly podcast review to the blog called "Podthoughts." I've decided to institute this feature because I feel there's a great vacuum of useful information about podcasts, and a lot of folks who want to make informed choices about what they download. This week, Ian covered "Escape Pod," a science fiction short story podcast produced by Steven Eley.
“Escape Pod,” produced by one-time The Sound of Young America guest Stephen Eley, offers a real service to those who are interested in smart, literate science fiction but are having trouble finding a place to start.
I’ll use myself as an example: Ever since junior high, when my Dad insisted my brother and I spend a few days a month at the library, I’ve gravitated to the works of Ray Bradbury, Isaac Asimov and Harlan Ellison. Later, I would become interested in Philip K .Dick and Douglas Adams. Each writer matched pointed views of human nature and society with big, imaginative ideas.
More recently, though, it’s been difficult. During my four years working towards a degree in English, I was too busy studying the accepted classics like The Great Gatsby and As I Lay Dying to catch up on any sci-fi – and certainly not any new stuff.
Walking the aisles dedicated to sci-fi in a bookstore or library can be intimidating for a casual fan of the medium. Lining the shelves are dozens of authors who, while prolific, are unknown to anyone not deeply committed to the genre. Even someone who pays a lot of attention to the world of letters may not be familiar with all these works. While there were once be magazines like “If” and “Fantastic” that published short stories and novellas, it’s hard to find any such services today. That’s why you should turn to “Escape Pod.”
It’s appropriate that a new media technology should give new hope to those searching for good sci-fi short stories. Each week on Escape Pod, listeners hear a new short science fiction story, typically from authors who’ve chosen to license their pieces using the Creative Commons license.
Most stories come in under an hour and flow nicely when spoken. It’s clear that Eley is looking for stories that may contain big ideas but still manage to communicate them in a very clear and direct manner. The 100th episode’s reading of “Nightfall,” read by Eley himself, felt like it could have been an audio play. While some of the episodes have actors brought into to read the stories, (Steve Anderson does a great job with Kevin J. Anderson’s “Job Qualifications” in episode 96), it’s Eley who reads a lot of the stories. In “Nightfall” and Bruce McAllsiter’s “Kin” from episode 108 he proves himself to be really adept and creating distinct and interesting voices for all the characters, no matter how strange and alien they may be.
While the readings take up most of the air time Eley does discuss listener feedback at the beginning of many episodes. The listeners all enjoy sci-fi but have different viewpoints on what the genre can give us. These samples of the discussions place the stories in a valued context for listeners not overly familiar with sci-fi.
Bringing these stories into digital audio form – where they can be enjoyed in a car or on a lunch break – is a wonderful use of new media. Literature like this doesn’t have to fall to the wayside because there are more temptations to not read out there. Instead, Eley has found a way to bring these works into the future -- which is where they belong.
In the early 1960s, James P. Coyle and Mal Sharpe roamed the streets of San Francisco, microphone in hand, roping strangers into bizarre schemes and surreal stunts. Today, their humor is a cultural touchstone for artists as varied as Henry Rollins and The Upright Citizens Brigade.
These recordings are from the Sharpe family archive, which is tended by Mal's daughter, Jennifer Sharpe. You can learn more about Coyle & Sharpe on their website or on MySpace. Their recent box set is These 2 Men Are Imposters.
This week, Coyle & Sharpe affect piss-poor French accents and ask an antique dealer if they can smash his goods.
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We'll be returning in the late summer once Radio Lab's current run finishes up. They love the show and are super-supportive -- we'll continue to share the slot with Radio Lab, which is one of my favorite shows on public radio.
New Yorkers, mark your calendars, TSOYA will return. In the meantime, podcast!
Paul Reubens (aka Pee-Wee Herman) appeared several times on The Gong Show, including this bizarre little act. I honestly have no idea what this is.
Also: not to be missed is this performance by Oingo Boingo, then known as The Mystic Knights of the Oingo Boingo.
I'm going to post my interview with Deerhoof's Greg Saunier tommorow. He's a super nice, super interesting dude. In the meantime, watch this nice video they made for the first song on their newest record, "The Perfect Me."
Sa-Ra Creative partners are Taz Arnold, Shafiq Husayn, and Om'Mas Keith, three producer/performers out to revolutionize urban music. Mentored by Dr. Dre, Ice T and Jam Master Jay, admired by J Dilla, Kanye West and ?uestlove, and collaborators with Pharoahe Monch, Erykah Badu and Herbie Hancock, they certainly have a resume auspicious enough to do achieve that goal.
Their new CD, "The Hollywood Recordings," was just released by Babygrande Records, and they're currently preparing a major label release with the help of Kanye West's G.O.O.D. Music label.
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