Jamie York is a producer for On the Media.
OTM Staff Picks: August 22nd, 2011
Monday, August 22, 2011 - 03:36 PM
It's Monday. Time for OTM staff picks. Feel free to offer us feedback in the comments section, and enjoy!
Emily Chin: I spent a lot of my time here at OTM trolling the internet for interesting media stories. I found Brain Pickings during one of my troll sessions and, although I never ended up pitching a story from this site, it always offers a few pretty fascinating reads on almost any subject imaginable. The blog, as they put it, “brings you things you didn’t know you were interested in until you are.”
I’m also a little bit of a TV junkie and Alan Sepinwall and Dan Fienberg’s “Firewall and Iceberg” podcast helps me get my fix. Two bloggers from HitFix.com, they discuss everything about TV, from show reviews to the inner workings of the TV industry. They’ve got a pretty great banter and their reviews are pretty spot-on. I’ve definitely discovered some great shows that I wouldn’t have otherwise (Friday Night Lights; Terriers) by listening to their podcast. I must say that the audio quality isn’t the best – I think they use Skype – but as long as they don’t record it on a road trip from San Diego to LA, it’s completely fine.
Brooke Gladstone: I know this is the second werewolf-inflected pick in as many months, but this is summer after all. And I like this one even more than the last one: The Sacred Book of the Werewolf by Russian novelist and satirist Victor Pelevin. It offers some great world-building, some nice character development, a few sage observations about human sexuality and some caustic observations about life in the third millennium. A diverting but not diminishing summer read. No doubt my next pick will have a post-summer weightiness – I’m very seasonal. But if you are inclined to the fantastistical, I recommend squeezing this one in before Labor Day.
Alex Goldman: This is pretty old school, but my staff pick for this week are the prank phone calls of Longmont Potion Castle. Somehow I ended up sharing them with fellow producer PJ Vogt last week, and was reminded of how they are an instant, non chemical anti depressant. I know that prank phone calls might not be everyone, but Longmont turns the formula on its ear. Rather than hewing to the Jerky Boys school of “the comedy is in how angry people get,” Longmont is all about making himself the fool by coming up ridiculous turns of phrase (asking a clothing store if they can help him with a pleated approach, and calling the electronics repair shop to complain about “perpendicular crosstalk” on his unit.) He also employs hilarious fake names like Huberto Googliachi, Gorilla Romero, Buddy Gripple and Virtual Balboa. At some point in his long career (he’s been doing these since 1987!), he got ahold of an effects box, which only makes his calls infinitely funnier. Even the name of the Longmont Potion Castle box set (Longbox Option Package) is funny in its own weird absurdist way. Predictably, many of these calls are not work safe. I can only hope you enjoy them as much as I do.
Chris Neary: My staff pick is Governor Rick Perry.
Now that he’s officially running for the Republican nomination, it’s time to figure out how he’s different than other Republican candidates. After all, he’ll probably have to do the same thing himself to win the nomination.
His hair is an important consideration. It’s even more robust than Mitt Romney’s hair, which may prove to be a devastating blow to the Romney campaign.
More substantially, ProPublica has put together a handy guide to good pieces about Ricky Perry that’s helpfully called “Our Handy Guide to the Best Coverage on Gov. Rick Perry and His Record.” It collects stories about Perry and his rise in politics. There are stories from Texas Monthly, National Review, and the The Texas Tribune. My favorite is Dear Yankee: Eight things you ought to know before you start writing stories about Rick Perry. You’re welcome.
Sample passage that caught my eye:
Perry is not a male hair model. The late Molly Ivins coined the nickname Governor Goodhair, and it has stuck, especially with liberals and journalists from up north. It is true that Perry has a much-remarked-upon coif, but don’t let this lead you to assume that he’s soft, or feckless, like that other recent walking shampoo ad, John Edwards. Perry is a hard man. He is the kind of politician who would rather be feared than loved—or respected. And he has gotten his wish. Perry does not have many friends in the Legislature.
I’m a ‘journalist from up north’ and I’m already guilty, in this very post, of disproportionate hair coverage. Point taken, Texas Monthy Monthly.
(Extra link: Cool article from the New York Times Caucus Blog about Perry’s interest in using social science methods to test campaign tools like TV ads, robocalls, and direct mail.)
This first one is a piece in the September issue of Harper’s about teaching in a rural, public school.
The second one makes me very happy every time I watch it.
Katya Rogers: Late on Sunday night I was watching CNN International cover the fall of Tripoli. It was okaaay; they had a reporter talking to them from the confines of his hotel room and Wolf Blizter with some in-studio guests…but then I remembered that Time Warner had picked up Al Jazeera English. What a revelation! Reporters with the rebels, reporters in Green (Martyr) Square, reporters everywhere. They covered the hell out of that uprising. Also, the promos they ran in between the rolling coverage were for really interesting-sounding programs like “the café” which is set in cafes around the world – in this week’s episode, young Bosnians are getting together to discuss the problems they face in their fragmented country.
My other pick is my new ipad – and yes. I know. It’s basically a shiny new gadget with no real intrinsic use. But it really is shiny. And a side benefit is that it keeps my 4 year old quiet for HOURS.
PJ Vogt: I took a vow of solitude last week and since then I’ve been sitting alone in my home listening to records from beginning to end like a teenager or a person from 1877 who just bought their first gramophone. The album I’ve been enjoying the most is “Hell Train,” by this musician named Soltero. It’s really hard to describe music, and I’m tempted to not try. But if you forced me to I would tell you that it sounds a little jangly and Pavement-like, and that if CDs were stores that sold moods, this one would sell wry wistfulness. I’m sure you can picture how it sounds pretty much perfectly now.
If you, too, want to give up on people and listen to records instead, there’s a representatively good song available for streaming here: http://soltero.bandcamp.com/track/hands-up. I played it for my roommate, and she laughed out loud at the part 36 seconds in when he goes from singing in falsetto to not singing in falsetto.
Also, if you like this, you should go give him money to record his next album.
Jamie York: When I was a kid in Maine someone bought me an ice cream sandwich. It was excellent. But I assumed it came only from the roadside ice cream store where we bought it. I never had another and, like a lot of things from childhood, I left it at that. Then, last year, they suddenly reappeared at a local gas station. Apparently some mad genius actually recreated (reincarnated?) the Harbor Bar. I’d like to say that my first adult bite brought on a heady rush of childhood memories but frankly, I was so overwhelmed by the cluster bomb of chocolate, cookie and mint ice cream that I don’t really remember much else. Things this good shouldn’t ever die. When I’m home I have one a day.
And I had a long debate last week with a friend about the one, never-fail song that you can play to get yourself out of bed, early in the morning. His pick is good. Mine used to be this. But then this and this came along and I can’t get enough.