Category: New Discoveries

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Judah Friedlander’s “America is the Greatest Country in the United States”

Like their ancestor the King’s jester, modern comedians have implicit license to express out loud what many think but few are permitted to say. The best stand-up comics are truth-tellers. Their magic is to get you to laugh at the truth instead of cry. In his new special, “America is the Greatest Country in the...

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Insurrections

The award-winning story collection Insurrections is set in imaginary Cross River, Maryland, populated by descendants of a successful slave revolt. Author Rion Amilcar Scott handles the omnipresent shroud of history deftly. Each story — about a former world champion “slapfighter”; about a terrible haircut experience; about a man who undergoes “reverse evolution” — casts oblique light...

The Bong-Ripping Brides of Count Drogado

Don’t let the campy title fool you. The steampunk novel “The Bong-Ripping Bridges of Count Drogado” is a serious work of literature. Author Dave K, like Edgar Allan Poe, hails from Baltimore, and like Poe he exhibits masterly tonal control, carefully choosing vocabulary and syntax to create a thoroughly convincing imaginary world in which sisters...

Scott Robinson’s “Heliosonic Toneways”

The new recording from ScienSonic Laboratories, “Heliosonic Toneways, Volume 1” is some of the trippiest music we’ve heard since, well, 1965, when Sun Ra released “Heliocentric Worlds,” featuring the much neglected bass marimba. Scott Robinson and ensemble insist they’ve not made a tribute record, and this is true as far as content goes. “HT” is surely it’s...

Alan Catlin’s “Blue Velvet”

The slim chapbook “Blue Velvet,” winner of the 30th annual Slipstream Prize, is the perfect gift for someone who normally hates poetry. Author Alan Catlin, a well-published scribe intimate with the thrilling debasements of our popular culture, has written thirty or so homages(?), with titles like Blade Runner, The Deer Hunter, and Crash. His language is plain, strong,...

Drennon Davis

DJ Yeah is an alligator with a very limited vocabulary: he can say one word. Drennon Davis is the comedian, musician, potential genius with one hand up the gator’s butt and the other on a mixing/looping machine. Davis also performs as himself — and no matter the persona he embodies, he’s consistently funny, embracing the fine line...

Joe Baumann

Joe Baumann, PhD, writes short fiction that feels hyper-realistic, plausible. That he’s able to accomplish as much while telling stories like “For Rent,” about a woman who has allowed an artist — referred to only as The Artist — to take up residence in one of her ribs, is an astonishing literary trick. The Artist...

Grimy Ghost

Once-a-month, the “underground  comedy show” Comedy Sucks pops up in Hollywood at the Nerdist Showroom. The host, Scott Black, is funny and engaging, and the young and mostly unknown comedians he presents support the show’s title only about half the time. The element that keeps us attending every month are absurdly hilarious video montages created by the...

Homo Deus

Magnificent contradictions: a book that argues for the eventual extinction of “useless” religions written by a Professor at Hebrew University in Israel; a book that envisions homo sapiens as a God-like species that, nevertheless, will soon render itself irrelevant; a book that contains many factual errors, spelling errors, and one giant conceptual mistake that, nonetheless, makes its...

The Polgar Variant

Is genius hereditary? Or can every child be groomed to be a genius? One brilliant (and controversial) father believes environment and training fosters genius. He attempts to prove his theory by raising all three of his young daughters to be world champions of chess. The engrossing Israeli documentary The Polgar Variant, about a family of Hungarian Jews living...