Jamie York is a producer for On the Media.
OTM Staff Picks, January 3rd, 2012
Tuesday, January 03, 2012 - 01:44 PM
Your weekly dose of recommendations from the staff of OTM. Give us some of your own down in the comments section and enjoy!
Sarah Abdurrahman: I’m a big fan of Bill Hader’s Saturday Night Live character Stefon. Stefon is Weekend Update’s “city correspondent,” who is asked to provide tips on what to do in New York City, but only describes absurd clubs and parties that are not likely to attract the average tourist. One of the funniest things about the character is seeing Bill Hader try to hold back his laughter while he describes the ridiculous things tourists can see, such as “Furkels” (Fat Urkels). Apparently, his writing partner John Mulaney changes a lot of the jokes before the live show, so Hader is reading some of them for the first time in front of the audience and has a hard time keeping a straight face:
Bob Garfield: Two recommendations on the subject of escape. One is "Catfish," the 2010 documentary (or manipulated documentary) exploring the email/phone relationship between a New York photographer and a family in Michigan's Upper Peninsula. This movie has been the subject of controversy, and hostility, because many critics assumed it to be too conveniently documented to be true. Some have even suggested a hoax. It isn't that. Possibly, the filmmakers sniffed out an elaborate deceit early on and pretended to be be in the dark long after they were -- which would be deceitful in itself. In any event, however manipulated, The Schulman brothers and Henry Joost capture a jawdropping episode of escapist pathology. It's a bit of a freak show, but hard not to like either the freak or even the exploitive barkers themselves.
Alex Goldman: My childhood and adolescence happened to align almost perfectly with the young life of the MTV network, so reading Craig Marks and Rob Tannenbaum’s I want my MTV has been endlessly entertaining and fascinating to me. The book mostly crafts a narrative that plots a course through the network’s unsteady beginnings through its monopoly on the video market and eventual decline of actual videos, but most interesting to me are a couple of vignettes that they sprinkle into the book. In particular a chapter called “He’s got a metal plate in his head” about a fan who won a contest to spend a weekend with Van Halen, and and a chapter about the Billy Squier video for “Rock Me Tonight”, which everyone involves believes singlehandedly ended his career. Studio 360 did an interview with Craig Marks a couple weeks back that talks about the Billy Squier video among many others, and it’s a great listen.
Chris Neary: My staff pick this week is the new Muppet movie. The jokes are self-referential and absurd and the characters repeatedly call-out plot devices as they’re happening. Couple times I wondered if current kids would like it much. But they’re still Muppets, that probably goes a long way. Bret McKenzie from the Flight of the Concords contributed some songs. This one is great, and could easily be from an episode of Flight of the Concords. I think the only prolonged period of earnestness is during the Rainbow Connection finale – definitely the right move.
Katya Rogers: This staff UN-pick is dedicated to my son’s Pre-K teacher whom I love - but hate for this particular thing she has cursed me with. On the last day of school before the winter break she screened “the wizard of oz” for the kids. Cute? Sure. But what isn’t cute is that I had to spend the ENTIRE week listening to the soundtrack for the movie over and over and over. If I never hear a munchkin again it will be too soon. Also – on producer PJ Vogt’s recommendation I read the new Stephen King book. It’s an amazing read but for the fact that King barely bothers to make the characters believable; every single person sounded the same. If you just focus on the crazy plot you’re fine…just don’t read it for its literary merits.
Jamie York: There are 15 newly renovated galleries at the Metropolitan Museum of Art that are dedicated to what they call the ‘Art of the Arab Lands’ and they’re stunning. Most of the press focused on the craftsmen from Fez who spent months hand carving the Moroccan courtyard. But I was seduced by the whole space; there’s a riot of color and design that’s tempered by the exquisite, mostly geometric, control that characterizes so much Islamic art.
And Oddisee is a Brooklyn by way of D.C. producer/rapper who seems to be slept on, maybe because he's pigeonholed as ‘boom bap’. Not hardly. He’s been putting out excellent mixtapes at a rapid clip and his latest is an almost entirely instrumental soul-rap opus dedicated to Rock Creek Park. It’s so good.