Wednesday, April 23rd, 2014
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'Gold Diggers' 2005/1933

In the summer of 2005 Hurricane Katrina hit New Orleans and Kanye West's "Gold Digger" hit the radio waves. I was 14 and didn't know how to help, but I had some money saved so I sent it along. There was a collection box in the school cafeteria the week I started ninth grade, and a big poster board chart on the wall tracked how much the school had raised using columns made of crepe paper. Soon I learned on the national news that the Red Cross wasn't doing much with the money. Nobody had planned for that kind of disaster.

"Gold Digger" was a chart-topper, spending 10 [...]

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Talking To Chris Gethard

Chris Gethard has an exciting few months coming up. His debut standup album, entitled My Comedy Album, comes out today, his Comedy Central half-hour special is airing this summer, and he'll soon hear back on whether Comedy Central will be ordering his pilot of The Chris Gethard Show to series or not. He also recently returned to doing weekly episodes of the public access version of The Chris Gethard Show, which will soon be ending whether the Comedy Central version gets picked up or not.

I had the chance to talk with Gethard a few weeks ago about how focus groups reacted to The Chris Gethard Show's [...]

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Anthony Lane Profiles James Franco

"Would it be construed as trespass, therefore, to state that Johansson looks tellingly radiant in the flesh? Mind you, she rarely looks unradiant, so it’s hard to say whether her condition [pregnancy] has made a difference." —The New Yorker, March 2014.

Poised on the edge of adulthood, James Franco is somehow all things at once, hard and soft, weathered and barely able to grow a beard, famous but quotidian, like a dumpling. Sitting by the fireplace in the Bowery Hotel and listening to the scruffy actor/ writer/ poet/ teacher/ artist/ intellectual provide meta commentary on his own celebrity, the intense glow on his face accents the sharp cheekbones [...]

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Aging Out of the Foster Care System

Kyo, not his real name, is a young black man in his mid-20s currently living in transitional housing for the homeless in Northern New Jersey. I have known him since he was 18. I had met Kyo during my former job as a reporter with The Star-Ledger, New Jersey’s largest newspaper.

Kyo was placed in the foster care system as a toddler. His mother was dead of a drug overdose, and his father was a long-time drug addict until he became clean several years ago. Kyo does not have a close relationship with his father, but has kept regular contact with his siblings, one younger brother and two older [...]

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Mad Men: When Pretending Is Your Job

Watching Mad Men feels a bit like refinishing a wooden chair, sometimes. You’re methodically working away with sandpaper at the arms and legs of this thing, which has been this way for as long as you can remember, and you’re up close and it seems like work, but it’s also strangely soothing, and suddenly you step back after an hour and the whole chair has a different appearance.

At least, that’s how I felt about it last night.

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How To Order A Shake

I work in a co-working space. (For all of you who ask me what that is,  I say, "a co-working space is a place where you pay a few hundred dollars a month to share an office space with people, and also, how are you such a genius that you have thus far managed to avoid reading the annoying publications in which you would have learned this annoying term?") In said co-working space, I share a small room with two other writers. We have recently taken to calling our little room The Suicide Suite, because off of it is a beautiful balcony on which we are prohibited from standing [...]

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Maya Rudolph's Finest Musical Moments

NBC announced that The Maya Rudolph Show, a new variety show special from the comedic actress of the same name, will premiere on May 19th. The Lorne Michaels-produced one-off special, which features guests like Craig Robinson, Andy Samberg, and Janelle Monáe, will serve as a pilot for a Rudolph-fronted variety show for the network.

Rudolph hosting a variety show is no surprise as she's had dual passions for music and comedy for decades now. The daughter of soul singer Minnie Ripperton, Rudolph worked as a keyboardist and backup singer for the band The Rentals before landing at SNL. On SNL and Up All Night, Rudolph sang frequently, goofing on [...]

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My Roller Rink Sexual Awakening

When I was thirteen, I participated in an after-school activity ambiguously—and generously—named “Lifetime Sports.” At my North Carolina private school, a place particularly dedicated to social hierarchy, your position on a team was determined as much by popularity as athletic ability, and as I was fundamentally lacking in both coolness and hand-eye coordination, I thought I might as well try life-sporting. Participation would involve periodic trips to a local roller rink.

This was 1998, when roller rinks were just becoming passé. My friends no longer held their birthday parties at the local rinks, and, generally, they smelled kind of funny (the roller rinks, that is). But the activity seemed [...]

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Sailing Around the World And Getting By Without Cash

Sixty-five mangos, 12 coconuts, and three rubber-banded baggies of coffee slide across the deck in two large plastic bins. There’s a broad-built man in a little boat called COUNTRY staring at me. I have no money and it’s 600 miles to the nearest ATM.

For four years, I've been traveling the high seas, alone aboard my sailboat BOBBIE long enough to know that being cashless doesn’t have to be a problem. For centuries, explorers have ploughed all corners of our watery world, armed with little more than improvised currencies. From the Portuguese pursuits of exotic spices in the Moluccas, to the movement of molasses across the West Indies, the [...]

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Talking to Dave Attell About His New Comedy Central Standup Show and Special

You said dirty comics are sort of a rare breed these days. Do you feel like that’s made comedy worse? Do you ever find yourself hesitating on stage, like ‘if I say something, there might be someone recording it and they might put it on a blog?’ Or do you not even give a shit?

Every comic gives a shit. Everything they say in the clubs could offend someone or somebody could take it the wrong way. The days of the late night show of just winging it and having a good time, they’re coming to an end. The crowds are pretty PC. A lot of them are [...]

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The Women Of 'Game Of Thrones'

Cersei Lannister is a dangerous woman. She is the wicked queen of HBO’s super series Game of Thrones, the would-be power behind the Iron Throne. She is bold, ambitious, and ruthless, and she operates at the heart of power, yet she is locked out by her gender. Cersei seeks to control the driving political narrative of the show, masterminding the death of her husband (the King) and installing her son as ruler in his place with the hope of commanding things herself from the sidelines. But it’s not as easy as all that. If you’re a woman.

She's not the only one left out, of course, even in the ruling [...]

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Let's Talk About Money And Death

Like money, death is something most people know is there and unavoidable but would prefer to spend as little time thinking about as possible. I get it. And I get that, like money, it can be painful when you first start reckoning with death in any real way. And mostly it stays painful. But it’s good pain, useful pain, maybe even pain in service of something greater, even if you won’t be around to see it.

Sarah Wambold was more than willing to be my inaugural subject for this column—which, having now talked to Sarah Wambold, isn’t surprising at all. She is not a squeamish person. She was just a [...]

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A Conversation With Philomena Lee

In the ‘50s, Philomena Lee became pregnant outside of marriage at the age of 18. She was sent to an Irish convent to have her baby, and after that, worked off her expenses in the laundry, permitted to see her child for an hour each day. Against her will and as part of a large and secretive program of forced adoption, the nuns gave her young son away when he was three years old. Philomena was able to track down her son—a successful lawyer and former chief legal counsel to the RNC—only after his death. Her search is the subject of the movie Philomena, starring Judi [...]

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The Torture Of Giving Critical Feedback at Work

[byline] Hands down, my worst work experience to date was trying to tell someone they have a bad attitude. This someone was my coworker, Ruth, and technically, I was her supervisor even though we were the same age. My boss directed me to give her this feedback during her annual review. Ruth was actually terrific at many parts of her job, but according to my boss she had a "negative attitude." It was a combination of an unfriendly and unhelpful demeanor (that I think was accidental, e.g. that she frowned when her face was at rest), and a tendency to avoid taking on additional work (mostly pretty boring stuff [...]

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How to Change Your Password: A Heartbleed Guide

Millions of passwords, credit card numbers and other personal information may be at risk as a result of a major breakdown in Internet security revealed earlier this week.

The damage caused by the "Heartbleed" bug is currently unknown. The security hole exists on a vast number of the Internet's Web servers and went undetected for more than two years. While it's conceivable that the flaw was never discovered by hackers, it's nearly impossible to tell. -The AP

Here is a foolproof guide to changing your personal passwords during this crisis.

MATT DAMON

Imagine you're lying in a meadow and Matt Damon is shirtless next to you. He smells [...]

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The Cost of (Almost) Getting Bed Bugs in Los Angeles

Three months ago, my boyfriend and I made the decision to move in together. We serendipitously found a perfect, large two-bedroom apartment with two bathrooms in trendy Los Feliz. For this area in Los Angeles, $1,600 for rent is an absolute steal for a place this size. We had to take it; even after the landlord raised the monthly rent a paltry $60 in exchange for some much needed kitchen updates. The building left its heyday 50 years ago but, despite the cracks and cheap repairs, it still has charm.

We couldn't believe our good fortune. How was this gem so unbelievably affordable?

Well, two months later, my boyfriend [...]

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Talking to Nick Frost About Dance, Passion, and 'Cuban Fury'

Nick Frost is putting himself out there. Just as his Cornetto Trilogy collaborators Edgar Wright and Simon Pegg are working on their own individual projects, Frost stars in his first solo lead role in the new romantic comedy Cuban Fury, a warm underdog story emphasizing the importance of passion and the value of challenging oneself.

Frost also lives the movie's message by taking on a technically-demanding role: Cuban Fury is a dance movie, and Frost plays Bruce Garrett, a former child salsa prodigy bullied into giving up his dream now living a safe adult life working for an industrial manufacturing company. Dance is a painful memory pushed firmly out [...]

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What It's Like to Live in Daytona Beach

Daytona Beach moves in waves, like purple against the sea, airbrushed angels and what looks like Marilyn Monroe done up in Bedazzled cotton with denim tassels, as if to say Welcome, I’m some type of mermaid, nothing matters.

A bunch of guys with UNIVERSITY OF ALABAMA shirts pound their chasers back. A volleyball hits the deck. I’ve got sand in my teeth. Something is thumping somewhere, but gets silenced the farther you get from the beachside bar, silenced by the boom of waves and the deep of the ocean horizon, a guttural clurng that you can imagine would eat steel and oar right up.

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Bus route [...]

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How We Think About Class

In his memoir, the late Christopher Hitchens offered the following pithy summation of class in the United States:

An old joke has an Oxford professor meeting an American former graduate student and asking him what he's working on these days. 'My thesis is on the survival of the class system in the United States.' 'Oh really, that's interesting: one didn't think there was a class system in the United States.' 'Nobody does. That's how it survives.

This should come as no surprise in the country where everyone, rich or poor, sees herself as middle class. But a recent experience reminded me that class is real, we can [...]

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Talking To W. Kamau Bell

Long established on the San Francisco comedy scene, W. Kamau Bell was relatively unknown nationally when he began hosting Totally Biased With W. Kamau Bell on FX in 2012. But following the internet outrage over the show’s cancellation this past November, Bell and Totally Biased received more critical attention, posthumously praising the show for its unique blend of humor and socio-political commentary.

Now, Bell is full steam ahead with his "Oh Everything!" tour, which will include doing standup at the second Atlantic Ocean Comedy Festival July 25-28, a comedy cruise put on by Jesse Thorn’s podcast and radio organization Maximum Fun. Before that, he’ll be in New [...]

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