This is Just to Say…

Dear President Joel,

Just an idea of how we can get through our economic crisis: http://sports.espn.go.com/ncb/news/story?id=4033999.

Best,

The Midnight Toker

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Filed under In the News, Sports

NO TIME (thou shalt not boast that I do change?)

Sweet sweet baby, life is crazy, but there’s one thing I am sure of: I’m going to keep on blogging.

Here is a viral video that made my night.

Enjoy.

Toke.

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Spring Is Here Again…

Spring is a state of mind.  Or so I tell myself, anyway.  That’s why today, when the weather was just forgiving enough, I decided to wear short sleeves and sandals to make it official.  So despite my seasonal allergies that are just beginning to act up and sensitive eyes that make me squint in the morning sun, I walked outside along Amsterdam Avenue  feeling like today was the first carefree day of warm weather, sunny skies, and new life.   Although 55 degrees may not be quite warm, I got my own first taste of spring a little bit early.  It was totally worth the goosebumps.

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August: and What Comes After?

Earlier this week I got an E-mail from my aunt that she would be coming to New York for the weekend.  I love spending time with my aunt.  She’s a few years older than my mother, but is really fun and spunky and we always have a good time together.  Anyway, in said E-mail, my aunt offered to take me to see Tracy Letts‘s Pulitzer Prize-winning play August: Osage County on Broadway.  I had never heard of the show, but happily agreed to go anyway for a night on the town with my aunt.  Subsequently, I did a little research online and saw that it looked smart and got good reviews.

Scenes from August: Osage County

Scenes from August: Osage County

The show is a dark dramedy about a dysfunctional family in rural Oklahoma.  I don’t want to spoil it for anyone, which will make it very hard to write this post, but, as always, I’ll give it my best.  The direction of the show is pretty clear from the opening lines, in which Beverly Weston, the family’s patriarch, quotes T.S. Eliot’s “The Hollow Men,” which continues to weave through the plot throughout the show’s three hours and twenty minutes (including two short intermissions).  The play uses Eliot as one riff in its commentary on present-day America, dealing with pretty heavy issues touching on family, addiction, sexual misconduct, illness, and old age to name a few.  Despite the play’s length, which I was honestly worried about from the beginning, the  sharp and delightfully funny dialogue and superb acting (no, I don’t usually use the word superb) kept me entertained and waiting for the next line from the edge of my seat even three hours in.

What I appreciate most about the play, though, is the allegory of America that it presents using the house to symbolize the country.  The Native American “Indian-girl” who seems to be the only stable force of normalcy.  Her perspective as an objective outsider provides stark contrast to the turbulent Weston family and a gateway for the play’s discussion of America and the weird beast that is the American nation.

August: Osage County is essentially a play about a family (read country) at the crossroads of deterioration and self-destruction.  The family that has built itself up from the poverty, misfortune, and immigrant roots of the past must now deal with the future and cannot find footing on stable ground after Beverly’s tragic death.  While the Weston family comes crashing down as they all unite for the funeral, as the narrative progresses it becomes more and more clear that the groundwork for this downfall has been laid over the course of years, and now the family must experience the tragic results, doomed with no escape.

Is America helplessly tumbling into some bottomless abyss?  Are we doomed by years of misaction which are responsible for our current economic, political, and social crises?  I wouldn’t be so pessimistic.  After all, since Eliot wrote of the world ending with a whimper the world has indeed continued to go on just as it always has.  But nonetheless, part of what is so compelling about August: Osage County is that it is a period piece of today, telling the story of a country overwhelmed in the vortex on its way down the toilet, whimpering the whole while.  The Weston family appears as if they will not make it out.  Whether or not America does, on the other hand, still remains to be seen.

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Hey, How’s Your News?

As much as I love seeing my favorite bands live, I seem to often fall in love with the opening act.  The latest example: Monday night at Bowery Ballroom.

While I have seen State Radio four times, Monday’s show was a bit different than the others.  The opening act was the cast from “How’s Your News?” the new MTV show created by South Park’s Matt Stone and Trey Parker.  The show’s concept is pretty simple: it’s a news show put on by people with disabilities.

The HYN Cast

The HYN Cast

The show’s roots go back to Camp Jabberwocky, a Massachusetts  summer camp for people with disabilities.  As part of a camp activity, campers would make a news show.  Eventually the show began to include interviews with people on the street, the best of which were compiled into a best-of video that eventually found its way to Stone and Parker before they hit it big.  With help from Stone and Parker, HYN put out a 1999 documentary of the crew’s travels  across the country.  The film won several awards and has been featured on HBO and PBS.

One thing led to another and now “How’s Your News” is on MTV as a full show.  The group goes around the country seeing sites and interviewing people, some of whom include politicians, actors, musicians, and other celebrities.

The cast includes a charming group of people with all sorts of disabilities.  Susan Harrington is legally blind and has a mental disability, according to the HYN website.  Bobby Bird and Sean Costello both have Down Syndrome.  Larry Perry has cerebral palsy.  Jeremy Vest, Lucas Wahl, and Brendan LeMieux have Williams Syndrome, which basically makes it difficult for them to focus and endows them with insane musical ability.  They opened alone and then played several songs with State

Jeremy Vest interviewing Ben Affleck

Jeremy Vest interviewing Ben Affleck

Radio, which was incredible.

Although initially the show’s concept seemed weird to me, it wasn’t long before I fell in love with the HYN crew and their mission.  Through their newscasts, HYN empowers disabled people and educates viewers about people living with disabilities by showing that people are not defined by a diagnosis or the condition they might have.  Sure, living with disabilities can be challenging, but the cast shows that despite their challenges, they are intelligent, capable, and talented.  The show is charming, funny, and doesn’t get old nearly as quickly as I suspected it might.  More importantly, the show familiarizes its viewers to people with disbilities and will hopefully promote understanding and sensitivity in an area where despite great progress in the past decades, we are still so often lacking.

For more information on How’s Your News, I suggest you check out their website at www.howsyournews.com.  The site also has videos, which are ridiculously entertaining.  You’ll see.

Below is a clip from the MTV show.  Enjoy.

Toke

Us hanging out with Jeremy Vest from Hows Your News after the show

Hanging out with Jeremy Vest from How's Your News after the show

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Filed under In the News, Journalism, Trends

Googling Your Friends

Hey again sports racers!  After a long hiatus, I finally found inspiration to blog again.

Last night, one of my roommates began googling another one of my roommates, and wonderful things began to happen.  The following video is what came up.  I hope you enjoy it half as much as I did.  (For the impatient ones among us, you can skip the first minute and a half without missing anything.)

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Weekly Dose of Nostalgia

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