Podcast: Steven Wright


Steven Wright is a standup comedy legend. He's also an Academy Award winner, and is well known for playing, well, Steven Wright-like guys in films like Reservoir Dogs, Half Baked and Babe: Pig in the City.

His new comedy special "When the Leaves Blow Away" is about to be released on DVD -- it's his first special in 15 years.

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Big Things at BET


Reginald Hudlin, who directed films like Boomerang and House Party before becoming a TV executive, has promised to expand dramatically the pallette of programming on BET. Some people were a bit suspicious of this promise. (I'm referring specifically to everyone who has ever watched BET).

The network unveiled their lineup for next season, though, and from the looks of it, he's really following through. Among the offerings are an animated sketch series from Orlando Jones and Ali LeRoi, a sitcom about post-college malaise called "Somebodies," adapted from the indie film of the same name, and a reality show about rich black kids called "Baldwin Hills."

Not everything looks great on paper, but what it does look like is a genuine commitment to representing much more of the black experience -- not just rappers in the ghetto or wholesome grandmothers on Soul Food: The Series. I think it'd be tough to overstate how signficant that is.

Just think: a show about SLACKERS who are BLACK! If that doesn't warm your heart, I dunno what will.

Trae f. Z-Ro - No Help


I have lots of CDs in my car (OK, I have lots of CDs in my girlfriend's car), but the ones I keep reaching for are Trae and Z-Ro. And here they are together on one of my favorite cuts on Trae's record.

Am I a sad person? Maybe. When I'm driving, anyway.

Podcast: Coyle & Sharpe: Ep. 4: The Druggist


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 varies 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 visit the pharmacy, but the pharmacist is upset when he discovers they are planning a home surgery.

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I Guess Today is Art Day: Arcadia in San Francisco


Another art event worth attending: Arcadia. It's an annual benefit for San Francisco's Friends of the Urban Forest. Every year they feature spectacular artist-donated pieces like the one above - "Fragment," by Josh Keyes. The work is auctioned off to support the great work that FUF does.

Keyes writes about how a cross-section of the eart reflects our alienation from the natural world:

This piece was a reaction to a housing development project I saw while traveling across the country. There was a clean separation or break between an area of dense forest and the barren stripped area of earth sectioned off for housing developments. The forest that was removed seemed surgical in appearance, and blind to the cohesive ecosystem that had existed there.

The event is Monday the 23rd in San Francisco -- but even if you don't go, you can bid on pieces in absentia, or simply visit the website and gawk at the beautiful work that artists have donated to help green San Francisco.

Beautiful Katamari!

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Jordan discovered that the second sequel to the greatest video game ever, Katamari Damacy, is on it's way. The game will be called Beautiful Katamari Damacy, and apparently the scale of the game will be bigger than ever -- featuring even rolls across the globe.

If this means nothing to you, buy a Playstation 2, then buy Katamari Damacy. I don't care if you like video games or hate them, buying Katamari is a decision that will change your life.


(Above: a screenshot from the second Katamari game, We Heart Katamari.

La Haine on DVD


I first saw La Haine (Hate) in the theatre, when I was in high school. With the exception of Style Wars, I think it may be the best "hip-hop film" I've ever seen. It tracks three friends in the suburban ghettos of Paris, and anticipates some of the racial and class unrest that we've seen there in the past few years. It's about hip-hop, and youthful alienation, and race, and all that stuff, and is very powerful.

It came out yesterday on Criterion DVD, and I think you should, at the very least, rent it.

Above: one of the film's most remarkable shots, which apparently was achieved using a remote-control helicopter.

Nichols & May: Mother & Son


The legendary Mike Nichols & Elaine May perform one of their classic telephone routines, with Nichols as a NASA scientist and May as his worried mother.

Found after watching this wonderful routine they performed on the 1959 Emmy awards, which was pointed out by recent TSOYA guest Brian Stack. It seems that YouTube user drono2 has stumbled upon a cache of these videos -- anyone know where they're from?

It would be difficult to overstate the importance of Nichols & May in ushering in the modern era of American comedy. It's a horrible shame that Elaine May has acted so rarely since the Nichols & May days -- if you don't believe me, rent the mediocre Woody Allen film Small Time Crooks and catch her brilliant turn.

So, on this topic: should I rent Ishtar?



Rappers are called "rappers." Or MCs. This is because they rap. If you want, you can call them a "hip-hop vocalist," or "performer" but that sounds pretty dumb.

THEY ARE NOT CALLED RAP SINGERS. This is because they do not sing.

Rapping and singing are two different things.

This post was inspired by the news on my local NPR affiliate.

I'm going to go listen to my favorite song rapper, Mel Torme.

I Am 8 Bit

"Battle of the Heroes" by Brandon Bird (Click to Expand)

Our man Brandon Bird, the New Painter of Light, has this wonderful piece in the I Am 8 Bit exhibition at Gallery 1988 here in Los Angeles. I hit up the opening last night, and it was pure madness -- a line of maybe 150 people snaking out the door of the jam packed gallery, all there to see an art exhibition inspired by video games.

Interpretations and styles ran the gamut, though I noticed a particular fondness for Wario and Joust. If you're in LA, it's worth a visit, as the exhibition runs through May 12th.

Brandon Bird on The Sound of Young America

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