Category Archives: In the News

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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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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Brainfart of the Week: Jim Pacillo

This one is just too easy.  The latest Brainfart of the Week award goes to Jim Pacillo, who recently introduced Joe Biden as John McCain at an Obama/Biden campaign rally.  At least the dude can laugh at himself.  Extra props for using the word “brainfart” at the end of the cnn.com video.

CNN video can be seen here. I couldn’t post it directly, but it’s worth checking out.

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I hate to get into politics but…

this is just too good.  Seriously though, it seems like everyone is unleashing the haterade on poor little Sarah Palin.  Oh well.

Toke

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David Foster Wallace is Dead

In August 2004, as always, I received my monthly issue of Gourmet magazine.  I was working at the time as a counselor in Camp Moshava and added the magazine to the bathroom stash for myself and my campers to read.  I cherish my Gourmet subscription because in addition to its culinary appeal (and my possible crush on editor Ruth Reichl), it usually has some pretty good writing, especially in its features.

When I finally got to it, probably on hamburger day, I found a curious article called “Consider the Lobster” by a man who I had never heard of before named David Foster Wallace.  The article was a profile piece on the annual Maine Lobster Festival, and questioned the practice of boiling animals alive and eating them.  As much as I love my meat, the article was well written and extremely thoughtful.

Fast forward a few years.  My roommate (who happened to be my co-counselor in camp in July 2004 when that issue of Gourmet came out”) develops his own potential crush on a writer.  His was on David Foster Wallace.  I did not realize it until I saw his book, Consider the Lobster: and Other Essays that this was that guy who wrote the article in Gourmet that summer.  They tell me that his magnum opus, a novel called Infinite Jest, is undoubtedly one of the most important works in the postmodern canon.

David Foster Wallace, 1962-2008

David Foster Wallace hanged himself in his California home last Friday night.  It was undoubtedly a major loss to the literary world.

Here are my friend’s posts about David Foster Wallace from his blog.  I put the link there just so you can get an idea of what he meant to some of his fans.

Here is a piece from today’s New York Times about Wallace and his legacy.

As a small memorial, I am posting an excerpt of him reading what he calls “a brief chunklette” from the essay “Consider the Lobster” that I read in Gourmet magazine years ago.  From it, through his writing, offbeat thinking, and sharp observation, you will hopefully get an idea of what type of person he was.

This one’s for you, DFW.

Toke

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These Girls are Flipping Underage

Just a quick post this Wednesday morning.  Like the rest of America, I had the Olympics last night.  The team that made the biggest impression on me was the Chinese, not because they performed the best–which they did–but because they are tiny.

Yes, I do realize that both Chinese people and gymnasts typically come bite-sized, but there is no way these girls are all past the minimum Olympic age of 16, like their government claims they are.  Even more absurd, the passports issued by the very same government suffices to document their age eligibility for the IOC.  Read more about it from the NY Times here.

The funny thing is that everyone seems to know that China is cheating.  When talking to NBC’s Bob Costas, famed gymnastics coach Béla Károlyi kept on going on about the scandal until Costas interrupted him to cut to the floor excersize.

My problem, besides the cheating aspect of it, is that these little girls, no matter how technically sound they may be, lack the polish of an older gymnast.  The place that it really shows is floor excersize.

Women’s floor excersize just pisses me off.  It’s an event with an identity crisis.  Is it about running, tumbling, and flipping or is it about dancing?  If it’s about gymnastics, why the hell do they do it to that annoying music that just makes the actual gymnastic component of the routine look ridiculous?  It’s like they had their sport, watched a winter Olympics and saw figure skating and got jealous.

My point is that a 14 year old girl just doesn’t have the polish that an older girl has.  The girls were so flawless in execution and then tried to shimmy a little and looked like, well, underdeveloped 14 year old girls.

Another thing that really bothered me is the lives these girls live.  They’re scouted in nurseries and taken from their families at age 3, from which point on they only see them once a year as they become part of the Chinese gymnastics machine.  Al Trautwig (who, by the way, was great last night) mentioned how the 20 year-old Chinese team captain wanted to quit several times because the girl missed her family (she’s the middle one in the top row of the picture above).  Think about it: for these girls, gymnastics is their life.  America’s Alicia Sacramone messed up, but she has a life to get back to after it’s over.  (American girls train from age 10, by the way.)  Kind of sad.

Oh well.  Sucks to be an athletic three-year-old Chinese girl.

That said, this week’s Brainfart of the Week award goes to the International Olympic Committee for thinking these girls are all 16.  You guys are idiots.

Peace out,

Toke

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Brand Spanking New

I’ve been hearing some hype about a few newfangled products about to hit the market and thought that I might share my two cents on two of them.

1. Madden 09 (available August 12)

It looks like Madden has outdone itself once again, getting some great reviews from gaming nerds everywhere.

Among the most interesting video game developments in recent years, this year’s featured cover guy is the one and only Brett Favre.  Now that Favre was traded to the Jets last week, no doubt that EA, the game’s manufacturer, has been going ape to try to fix everything by tomorrow’s release.  One just-announced feature includes a new downloadable cover featuring Favre in a Jets jersey.

In another new development, John Madden and Al Michaels will be replaced by Cris Collinsworth and Tom Hammond of NBC.  Although I think that Cris Collinsworth stands head and shoulders above any other NFL commentator (more on that during football season) and that John Madden has the chronic habit of saying things in a way that make him come off as a bumbling idiot, how can you have a Madden game without John Madden telling you what a great play you’ve just made or how if you throw the ball in the end zone and your receiver catches it that’s probably gonna be a touchdown?!

Madden does apparently have a new role in welcoming players and determining their “Madden IQ” based on several specific skills tests.  This is one of the truly cool innovations.  The computer customizes the difficulty level based on the player’s specific strengths and weaknesses.  Let’s say the player is great at passing but a poor runner.  The Madden IQ system will make pass defense a tenacious beast, but run defense softer.  The computer then remembers your IQ and changes it based on your results, meaning that you can win a game, but if you play poorly in any part of the game (i.e. passing, special teams, run defense, etc.) the computer remembers it and makes that part easier for you next time.  It also gives you feedback   Pretty cool.

Here’s a video review from a guy who will probably never know the touch of a woman:

Another such guy played a 24 hour Madden 09 marathon last week and documented it in this article featured on ESPN.com.  (Fine, maybe I’m a little jealous.)

2. Elmo Live (available October 14)

Remember the Tickle-Me Elmo craze of December 1996?  It was bad.  I mean mommies everywhere beating the crap out of other mommies and terrorizing Toys R’ Us stores (remember when those weren’t obsolete yet?) to get these little boxed Elmo dolls.  The things went for hundreds on the black market.

[As a side note, Tickle-Me Elmo also made for some great spoofage throughout the years: Exhibit A. Exhibit B.]

Well it looks like Elmo has evolved from a plush toy that talks to a full blown robot.  Check out this video in which a robot Elmo works the crowd, dances hip-hop style, tells stories, and even does stand up:

Elmo Live hits store this October 14.

With Elmo Live, I think kids officially have no reason for actual human friends.  Think about it:

  • Real kids smell; Elmo only smells if a real kid gets too close.
  • Real kids are moody; Elmo is always ready for hugs and tickles.
  • Real kids are needy; Elmo is happy sitting in a closet when you don’t want him around.

Hmm, now that I think about it, I want an Elmo Live.  You think they make one that pays rent?

Toke

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