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Rufus Thomas: Hero of The New Sincerity


Rufus Thomas was a legendary Memphis DJ, who became even more legendary through his novelty-soul recordings for Stax Records. His daughter, Carla Thomas, recorded Stax first hit side, and he contributed many of his own. He often performed in short pants, and sang comic dance numbers which were both funny and truly danceable. He passed a few years ago, but he remains a great hero of The New Sincerity.

Learn more about Rufus and download his tune "Chicken Scratch" over at the Stepfather of Soul.

Heat Vision & Jack


For some of you, this may be old hat, as it's been circulating in bootleg form for some years. But for those of you who have not seen it, it will be a revelation. This pilot, for a show called "Heat Vision & Jack," stars a pre-fame Owen Wilson & Jack Black, and was directed by a pre-annoying Ben Stiller.

Jack Black plays a super-smart astronaut on the run from Ron Silver (who plays himself), riding his talking motorcycle (played by Wilson). One of the most conceptually audacious comedy shows I've ever seen, and effectively executed, too. FOX passed (understandably, I'd say, given how ridiculous the whole thing is), but it lives on to entertain us all.

(For those of you for whom this video doesn't show up in your reader, click through to the web version).

New Material from the Replacements


Pitchfork reports that alt-rock legends The Replacements are reconvening (well, to the extent they can, only three are alive) to record new material for an upcoming best-of on Rhino:

Color us fucking impressed: Original flannel gods the Replacements have
recorded their first new material since 1990. According to a press release from
Rhino Records, 3/4 of the original lineup (and the only surviving ones), Paul
Westerberg, Tommy Stinson, and Chris Mars, reconvened last December in
Minneapolis to record two new Westerberg-penned tunes, "Message to the Boys" and "Pool & Dive," for the upcoming Replacements compilation Don't You Know Who
I Think I Was?: The Best of the Replacements.


Aspen Stories: Charlie Todd of Improv Everywhere


Charlie Todd is the creator of Improv Everywhere, a group which performs astonishing, magical, and typically victimless street pranks. They've staged a faux U2 concert on a rooftop, ridden the subway without pants (more and more pantsless riders board a car, until eventually an IE member strolls through, selling pants), and offered boat tours of public fountains. Charlie was invited to Aspen to talk about IE, and here, we've invited him to talk about Aspen.

Had you been before?

Nope. This was my first trip to Colorado.

What did you expect it to be like?

Very cold and intimidating.

What surprised you about it when you got there?

It was much warmer than I had imagined. It was colder in NY the week before the festival. The altitude warnings are for real. I felt dizzy for a couple of days and held off on getting drunk until Thursday (I arrived on Monday). I delighted to discover how walkable the town is and how the whole festival was easy to manage.

What was the audience like for your shows?

I had two shows, both at the "Belly Up" venue. It's a rock club, but because it's in Aspen it's a real classy joint. No stickers on the bathroom walls. I don't really know how many were in attendance at the shows, but it was very full. 200 people maybe? I found it to be a warm, responsive audience, which was great. I guess it was a mix of locals and industry types. In addition to my stage shows, I did a few pranks around town which was a total blast. I documented the whole experience on my site, complete with photos and video.

What was the best social event you attended? Why?

The Upright Citizens Brigade rented a three-story condo with College Humor and 3 Arts. There were parties there every night, but the Friday night party was the best. Dave Chapelle made a cameo for literally thirty seconds. I guess that's how long it took him to decide it wasn't his scene. Anyway, the condo was awesome-- pool table, hot tub, steam room, ridiculous fan from the 70's. Oh, and a fridge full of beer and a freezer full of liquor. Besser himself was staying there and personally welcoming everyone into the house. Anthony King (Artistic Director of UCB NY) and Alex Sidtis (UCB NY Theatre Manager) were also staying there. Alex's job for the entire week at Aspen was to plan awesome parties at the UCB house and to generally promote all of the shows with UCB people in them (four stage shows + Aziz's standup).

What was the best show you saw that wasn't your own?

I fucking love Brian Finklestein's show. I'd seen it before in NY, and I was only able to see the last ten minutes of it in Aspen (running to it after one of my shows), but he managed to make me cry in those ten minutes. Such a beautiful, sad, and very hilarious show.

What was the strangest social interaction you had while there?

There was a local guy who showed up at all of the social events with his dog. He had trained the dog to stand on his arm. No one really knew what his deal was, but everyone called him "Dog Dude". I guess he's there every year. Anyway, at the UCB party his dog was walking around the kitchen and I figured out how to get it to stand on my arm. The dude saw me doing it and just said, "Go for it, man." So I walked around the party very drunk with this dog standing on my arm.

Would you reccomend it to others?

Absolutely. As a performer it was an amazing experience. They put you up in great hotel rooms and they take care of you the whole week. Tons of free food. Free transportation. Free parties with free drinks. Free access to shows. I'm not sure if I would reccomend it to someone not performing. Unless of course you're rich. If you're rich, definitely go!

Already been debriefed: Brent Weinbach, Sherry Sirof, Ryan Stout, Anthony Jeselnik

Also: "Odd Ends" with Charlie Todd on The Sound of Young America (MP3 Link)

Goldie Award Winner!


Thanks to the readers of the Metro Santa Cruz, who voted me the Bronze award for "Best Radio Personality" in Santa Cruz in their annual readers' poll. This is the fourth Goldie we (that is, me or me & Jordan) have won in the past five years -- two gold and two bronze. Thanks, Santa Cruzians!

By the by, does anyone reading this listen on the radio? I'm genuinely interested. Post a comment or send me an email if you do.

Unloading on Larry the Cable Guy


A couple months ago, I tried very, very hard to get Larry the Cable Guy to come on The Sound of Young America to talk with David Cross. Cross was good to go, Larry, not so much.

Reviews for his new film, "Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector" are starting to come in, and I thought I'd start a post here to chronicle them, starting with the New York Times review:

"Unpleasant, uncouth and painfully unfunny, "Larry the Cable Guy: Health Inspector" attempts lowbrow humor with neither the wit of the Farrelly brothers nor the raunchy inventiveness of Keenen Ivory Wayans. Aiming at audiences for whom no comedy is complete without lower-intestinal distress and projectile vomiting, the movie pursues its unsanitary goals with a relentlessness that makes "Dumb and Dumber" seem the epitome of sophistication. Prepare to be overcome with an irresistible urge to wash your hands afterward. "

The Times to hoity-toity for you? Here's the Post's review:

Dumped into theaters without critics' screenings after it was abandoned by its
original distributor, this is a virtually unwatchable and laugh-free vehicle for
the stand-up redneck comedian Daniel Whitney , who calls himself Larry the Cable

The Onion AV Club weighs in:

It'd be tempting to call Larry the Ernest of his generation, but that'd be a grave insult to Jim Varney's enduring legacy. Compared to Larry—a grating, baby-faced butterball with all the magnetism and charisma of an Applebee's night manager—Varney was the second coming of Jimmy Stewart

Got a favorite you'd like to share? Git 'er done!

How comedy-nerdy are you?


Level One -- You've a big fan of The Kids in the Hall.

Level Two -- You've heard that they're doing live shows this month at the Steve Allen Theater in Los Angeles.

Level Three -- You don't live in Los Angeles, but you are interested in reading a detailed account of the new material they performed.

Needless to say, I am Level Three. And I also have a +4 amulet of Dana Carvey Show Bootlegs.

Thanks to ASpecialThing's Jouster!

Demetri Martin Lands Dreamworks Film Deal


Comic Demetri Martin (who recently became the Daily Show's "Trend Spotting" correspondent) is continuing his string of successes. He just sold a pitch to Dreamworks... per Variety:

DreamWorks has found its way with "Will," acquiring the pitch from comic/scribe Demetri Martin.
Comedic story centers on an ordinary guy who has settled into a typical life with a job and family. After waking up one day and resolving to no longer live an average life, he sets out on a journey to fulfill his hidden potential. Martin will take a key supporting role.
Scot Armstrong, who penned "Old School" and "Road Trip" for DreamWorks, is closing a deal to be executive producer on the project. Martin pitched the idea to both Steven Spielberg and studio head Adam Goodman; latter took it off the market right away.

Bully for you, Mr. Martin.

"Dog Days" on TSOYA, with Demetri Martin and H. Jon Benjamin (MP3)

Kieth Huang talks about Demetri Martin's newest one-man show on The Apiary

Via Dead-Frog

News & Notes from the world of RAP


Some hip-hop related flotsam...

Noz of the hip-hop blog Cocaine Blunts & Hip-Hop Tapes has been blogging over at XXL's cool new website. He checks in with the first three of his top ten underappreciated rappers list... and it's great so far. See what he has to say about WC, MC Lyte, and Suga-Free. WC and Suga-Free are known for their New Sincerity flows, and Suga-Free in particular is NS. The LA-based rapper and frequent DJ Quik collaborator tends to wear suits, perms, and manicures to support his pimp image. Noz is also hosting a few early Suga Free tracks on Cocaine Blunts.

Also, J-Smooth from WBAI-FM in New York (and the excellent points us to a fascinating profile of producer Just Blaze, best known for his work with the Roc-a-Fella camp (Jay-Z's "Song Cry," Cam'ron's "Oh Boy," etc). Just talks about how he's trying to find his own way through the hip-hop world, while still representing what he loves about New York rap:

"That raw grittiness, the essence of it, is totally down here. I've done uptempo club records with no samples and keyboards; I'm not mad at that. But the more I notice things getting screwed up, the more I'm like I gotta play my part in balancing the scale a little more. And if I fail, cool. I just gotta do what my heart tells me, and right now my heart is telling me that somebody's got to be at the front of people bringing it back. There's not too many people from the boom-bap East Coast era who are even in a position to make a difference in hip-hop. I'm one of the few who anybody even has half of an eye on. A lot of my heroes wouldn't even have the opportunity to do it. It's almost like I have to do it."

Check that joint out in the Village Voice.

also... check out the author's great blog, featuring a totally fascinating conversation between Just Blaze and fellow producer Alchemist.

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