Archive for February, 2008|Monthly archive page

Hometown Pride

 

Here’s the link to the first of two segments I produced for Studio 360, PRI’s award-winning nationally syndicated radio show about art, culture, and creativity, hosted by Kurt Andersen. The second piece will likely air in March.

http://www.studio360.org/episodes/2008/01/11/segments/91622

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Next Month

From Playboy Magazine, March 2008

I wrote the Next Month Page for the latest issue of Playboy. Here are a few highlights.

Men Who Hate Hillary–Right-wing male biographers continually attack Hillary Clinton’s appearance and sexuality. Author and cultural theorist Laura Kipnis turns the mirror on the candidate’s critics to show how the diatribes reveal more about them than their subject.

Wailing Shall Be In All Streets–In a previously unpublished account of the firebombing of Dresden, written early in his career, an angry, anguished Kurt Vonnegut revisits the horror and takes the first steps toward a masterpiece.

Charm City–Comely strangers don’t usually offer to buy Frank Bower drinks. When a mysterious woman does just that, a bit of philandering turns into something far more sinister. American master Robert Stone crafts a study in evil for April’s fiction feature.

The Gambling Seminoles–Tribal chief James E. Billie is a legend: he has wrestled alligators, battled the Viet Cong, and gotten the credit for coming up with the tribal casino concept. Yet for all his accomplishments, Chief Billie has been expelled from the Seminole nation. Pat Jordan finds out why.

Pop Questions: Sara Jean Underwood

From Playboy Magazine, March 2008

A short interview I did with 2007 Playmate of the Year Sara Jean Underwood for the Playmate News Page:

Q: What is it like to be Playmate of the Year?

A: It’s pretty hectic. I’ll be at the airport at five A.M. and then work an event all night, get a couple hours of sleep and fly somewhere else for another promotion. But I’m having a blast.

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Studio 360 Rough Cuts

Here are the links to a few of the stories I rough cut on Pro Tools for Studio 360, PRI’s award-winning nationally syndicated radio show about art, culture, and creativity, hosted by Kurt Andersen.

Daisey Does McDowell: 

http://www.studio360.org/episodes/2007/12/14/segments/90302

What is Stephen Harper Reading?:

http://www.studio360.org/episodes/2007/11/02/segments/88089

The Quest of the Snow Leopard

http://www.studio360.org/episodes/2007/10/26/segments/87634

Yo-Yo Ma interview:

http://www.studio360.org/episodes/2007/10/19/segments/87058

Slaughterhouse Live

From the Playboy Blog, 2/6/07

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Last week copy editor Joseph Westerfield gave the stage version of Slaughterhouse Five at 59E59 Theater a glowing review. I was equally excited going in, but not so enthusiastic coming out. Joe knows a lot more about theater than I do, but as an avid Vonnegut fan I didn’t think the play did justice to the masterpiece novel.

Staging the absurdist time-traveling life of Billy Pilgrim in 90 minutes is not an easy task. Pilgrim bounces from one era to another so rapidly that he often doesn’t know where he is, so it’s tough for a theatergoer to follow along without all of Vonnegut’s narration. Add to that the fact that the small ensemble cast changes roles constantly and that props and scenery are left to the imagination, and the audience is befuddled. In the confusion, Vonnegut’s best jokes and most powerful lines get lost. This is no fault of the actors. I agree with Joe that the cast is outstanding. They shift smoothly from role to role, speaking in British accents one minute and German the next. Deanna McGovern deftly handles every female role in the story (though Joe and I both agree that she’s a bit attractive to pull off the aging mother and portly wife). Unlike Joe, I thought Gregory Konow as the older Pilgrim was the weakest member of the cast. Konow’s Pilgrim struck me more as a wide-eyed flower child than a quirky aging father. 

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Playboy’s Super Blog

From the Playboy Blog, 2/1/07

The Playboy Staff’s Super Bowl Predictions (Notice who kept the NY faith).

See our postgame roundup here.

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While the Patriots stay tight-lipped with their Super Bowl predictions, we here at Playboy go the Plaxico Burress route and spew off about how things will unfold Sunday, Tom Petty’s halftime performance included…

Jamie Malanowski, Managing Editor
Personally, I give the Giants big props just for showing up. I don’t know how anybody would think they could beat the Patriots—the thrice champion, undefeated, got the best quarterback ever, got a certified genius as a coach, only got caught cheating once New England Patriots. I mean, it would be kind of ironic if the Pats lost, and suddenly none of their 18 wins would matter, and instead of immortality they’d go down in ignominy for being the biggest choke artists ever. But that can’t happen, can it? Well, it says here that the Giants’ Ahmad Bradshaw will jitterbug around the Patriots’ aged linebackers during the second half. Giants 27, Pats 20.

Ben Conniff, Editorial Intern
Strahan skips the game, extending his own tropical vacation to give some hard-core consolation to a
rebounding Jessica Simpson. The Giants excel with another unwieldy ego out of the way. Umenyiora deals the death-blow when he hammers Matt Light after the whistle and Light lands on Brady’s tender ankle. Geoff Pope gets ultimate vindication when he picks Brady’s next pass, runs it back for the winning TD, and gets MVP honors. Giants 27-21.
Tom Petty rocks the entire soundtrack to She’s the One.

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A Little Dog in a Big Fight

From the Playboy Blog, 2/4/07

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Last week six-term Ohio congressman Dennis Kucinich bowed out of his bid for the Democratic Presidential nomination. No one gave Kucinich a chance in the primaries, but he’s used to being the underdog. When he sat for the Playboy Interview back in June 1979, Kucinich’s uphill populist battle was just beginning. The spunky 32-year-old Cleveland mayor had a lot to say about fighting against the odds, the evils of corporate America and the need to clean up politics.

Playboy: Weren’t you a third-string quarterback on your high school football team?
Kucinich: That’s true. I was so small that when I came out and said I wanted to play football, the coach told me he already had a football. When I ran out on the field people thought I was a mascot. When they found out I was on the team, they started rooting for me.
 

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Duly Noted

From Playboy Magazine, February 2007

Potpourri

There’s no denying that some of the world’s best writers–Hemingway, Faulkner, Joyce–worked best on the sauce. Paul Smith celebrates the time-honored tradition with this leather “wallet” (about $350, paulsmith.co.uk) that conceals a flask, notepad, and pencil. Even if you’re no master of letters, some quick note taking will at least allow you to recall the name of the lit major you wake up with in the morning.

The Hoover Cam

From the Playboy Blog, 1/31/07

J_Edgar_Hoover.jpg

Since 9/11 and the Patriot Act, everyday Americans can assume that their internet history, library records, and private conversations are making lively water cooler banter at the FBI building. We complain, but the Feds have been snooping into the private lives of celebrities for a whole lot longer. Recently declassified documents from the 1940s to 1970s show that J. Edgar Hoover had an intimate knowledge of the A-list’s doings. Very intimate.Among the FBI’s findings: Elvis Presley got some special “treatments” from a male dermatologist in the army, while Jimi Hendrix couldn’t stop practicing solo in his barracks. Comedy duo Abbott and Costello were porn addicts. Even our first centerfold, the unimpeachable Marilyn Monroe, may have had a sex tape stashed away. Read the full story on J. Edgar’s voyeurism here.

F for Effort

1/25/07

beijing2008%5B1%5D.jpg

Nicholas Kristof’s New York Times Op-Ed column this morning is drawing much needed attention to the “Genocide Olympics” campaign. Its message is simple: as China prepares for its debutante ball—the Beijing Olympics—it should reconsider its open support of the genocidal government of Sudan, lest it tarnish the bright image it’s trying to promote. China spends $2 billion a year on Sudanese oil, sells weapons to Sudan’s government, and most importantly blocks attempts by the U.N. to deploy an effective peacekeeping force to a miasma that’s seen 200,000 people killed and 2.5 million displaced.

As part of the Genocide Olympics campaign’s efforts, they asked Beijing’s corporate sponsors to use their influence to pressure China to take action, since slaughter isn’t exactly one of the Olympic ideals the companies claim to promote. Now the campaign has a nifty report card telling us just how much the sponsors care. Read the full report here.

The results: 13 F’s, 3 D’s, 2 C’s, and one C+. Several companies actually received scores of 0, including Anheuser-Busch, Panasonic, Samsung, Lenovo, and Swatch. So this summer crack open a Bud, flip on your Panasonic flat screen, and enjoy Beijing 2008: “One World, One Dream.” Who doesn’t dream of Olympic-size pools full of cash?