Originally posted July 29th, 2014
By Michael Konik
Remarkable comedic talent in young people is easy to spot. It presents itself insistently and clearly. What the precocious possessor of the talent will do with it — develop it or let it wither — is hard to predict (as demonstrated by our previous comedy New Discoveries). In the case of DC-raised, Los Angeles-based comedian Brandon Wardell, 22, we have a hunch that he’s going to be making people laugh for a long time. Already, he’s a fine joke writer and a confident orator, with flashes of conceptual brilliance that recall Bo Burnham, another young man intent on doing his own thing. We sense in Brandon Wardell a nascent artistry, a growing acceptance of his comic individuality. It should be an interesting journey to watch.
Originally posted July 20th, 2014
By Michael Konik
The Washington Redskins have the coolest nickname in all of sports. Their logo – a stone-faced Indian wearing 19th Century feathers – is also pretty awesome.
Here’s how you know the name “Redskins” isn’t a slur against a conquered and marginalized people but is actually a part of the NFL’s long tradition of diversity and inclusion, on and off the field: a league spokesman said, “The intent of the team’s name has always been to present a strong, positive, and respectful image.”
Exactly. It’s not like they’re called the “Injuns,” or the “Savages,” or the “Inferior Race of People Who Couldn’t Stop the White Man’s Invasion.” It’s Redskins, as in the color of skin most of those people have. I mean, look at the helmet! Reddish skin is an honest description. Just like if you had a team of African Masai warriors, you could accurately call them . . . → Read More: Redskins Forever!
In the spirit of Lenny Bruce, George Carlin and legions of performing social critics, many modern day comedians see themselves as truth-tellers. Their performance is a kind of philosophizing, a search for meaning in an inscrutable universe. Comedian, improviser, and enlightenment-seeker Danny Lobell‘s podcast “Modern Day Philosophers” is an ingenious hybrid of traditional philosophy — Plato, Hegel, Kant — with “modern day” philosophy, Lobell’s comedian friends. The dual joys of the show are learning (by filling in the gaps in your scholastic reading, or being reminded Who said What) and laughing at the insights, rants, and anecdotes provided by Lobell and his guests, who range in intelligence and erudition from Very Smart to not. Sometimes MDP is clever, sometimes it’s stupid. But the impulse to learn and laugh is omnipresent. It’s our kind of show.
Originally posted June 17th, 2014
By Michael Konik
Do you agree? Check this box to proceed…after reading several pages of legalese rendered in 6-point type. Didn’t bother? If you care about the increasingly obscure concept of “privacy,” the film “Terms and Conditions May Apply” is mandatory — and frightening — viewing. Director Cullen Hoback carefully examines those “T&C”s that we “agree” to millions of times a day, and shows with chilling clarity how Facebook, Google, Amazon, YouTube, and all our other favorite Interweb sites are knowingly and happily serving as giant data collection centers for themselves and for the government. You may not care now, but one day when your browsing habits become the basis of an FBI visit you’ll look back at this groundbreaking 2013 film and sigh.
Originally posted June 15th, 2014
By Michael Konik
COMING SOON…THE 2014 MK.com SUMMER POETRY FESTIVAL, JUNE 21-30!
Since democracy is the best system ever to honor the concept of “innocent before proven guilty,” nearly 300,000 Californians voted for Leland Yee to be our next Secretary of State. His tally came as somewhat of a surprise, considering that Yee had officially dropped out of the race after being indicted on federal bribery and gun-running charges. NRA members, who sensed a brother in harm’s way, may have come to the ballot box in defense of their comrade-in-arms. Or maybe disaffected voters figured that Yee’s recusal made him a kind of rebel, and we all know how sexy that can be. Either way, affecting substantive policy changes at the ballot box is looking about as likely as Team USA winning the 2014 World Cup. Meanwhile, the young bodies keep piling up, like so many carcasses ready for . . . → Read More: Why We Can’t Stop Shooting
Who said what?
“This act of violence shocks the conscience of the world.”
A) Eric Holder, on the Boston Marathon bombing.
B) Reverend Al Sharpton, on the slaying of another unarmed black man by American police.
C) Prime Minister David Cameron, on the downing of Malaysian Air #17.
D) None of the above.
“They are killing innocent, unarmed civilians in cowardly acts of violence. They abduct women and children and subject them to torture…
The original Golden Rule — “treat others as you wish to be treated” — sounds fantastic in theory, but isn’t really possible to apply practically, as evidenced by the lives each of us lead. Or maybe it is being applied and is difficult to recognize. Maybe how people wish to be treated…
America’s religious leaders, some of the most esteemed and respectable citizens in our republic, are helping us understand that our precious freedoms — the ones our brave soldiers fight and die for in faraway dust bowls most of us can’t find on a map — are once again under attack….
Driector Michel Gondry (“Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind”) is currently flummoxing viewers with his persistently inventive “Mood Indigo.” But of all his blazingly original creations, the 2013 documentary “Is the Tall Man Happy: An Animated Conversation with Noam Chomsky” might be his most densely wonderful work. Gondry and the indispensable linguist and social critic [...]