NFL Playoffs. The road to the Super Bowl begins with Wild Card Weekend as the surprising Cincinatti Bengals take on the Houston Texans on Saturday at 4:30 est; then then Matt Stafford and Lions go to NOLA to take on Drew Brees and the Saints that evening at 8:00 est. Then on Sunday, the Giants take on Atlanta at MetLife in Game one at 1:00pm est, then Big Ben and the Steelers take on Tim Tebow and the Broncos for the last game Sunday night at 4:30pm. Are you ready for some football?!?
Showtime Free Preview Weekend. If you don’t have Showtime as part of your cable package, the red hot channel will provide a free preview January 6th-8th. It will include the Season Two premiere of Shameless starring William H. Macy and the series premiere of House Of Lies starring Don Cheadle. The preview weekend will also feature the broadcast premiere of The King’s Speech, which won the Oscar for Best Picture. That gives you 4 recommendations in one entry. Go to www.sho.com for more information, and check out our own interview with William H. Macy about season two of Shameless.
Portlandia. You don’t have to be from Portland, or even know anyone from Portland, to appreciate the sketch comedy created by Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein. Framed as a series of scenarios featuring plenty of quirky locavores, these characters, though often seemingly absurd, can be entirely recognizable as well. Portlandia examines the funny, and most often supremely awkward day to day debacles of those endeavoring to mold their outlooks into a real life utopia of sorts: the dream of the 90’s. With great attention to detail and deadpan delivery Armisen and Brownstein’s creations are funny, engaging blends of satirical sub-cultural references and crazily authentic depictions people you just may know. There’s a lot of insight here without ever coming off too judgmental or snarky. The second season premieres Friday January 6th on IFC at 10/9 central.
The Increasingly Poor Decisions of Todd Margaret. Watch this one man disaster, as David Cross plays Todd Margaret, a hapless dimwit and compulsive liar who is mistakenly given a promotion and sent to England to sell (toxic) energy drinks. All along the way he’s beleaguered by an over-the-top mess of a boss, played by Will Arnett and a weaselly, conniving aide played by Blake Harrison. His ridiculous plight is further complicated by Todd’s blundering attempts at winning the affections of a molecular-gastronomy-obsessed shop owner named Alice. It’s some cringey stuff,this dark, unapologetic comedy. Season 2 premieres January 6th IFC 10:30/ 9:30 Central. Need a reminder of Todd’s first series’ catastrophes? Check the site for clues or dvr The Increasingly Necessary Recap Special which aired earlier this week, replaying Friday Jan. 6th at 9:30 AM on IFC.
Moneyball. A fascinating, well-acted, multi-layered baseball film based on Michael Lewis’ nonfiction bestseller Moneyball: The Art of Winning an Unfair Game. Moneyball is all about the Oakland A’s general manager Billy Beane, portrayed by Brad Pitt, who was able to bring together a contending baseball team despite a low salary cap budget using computer-based statistical analysis. This is a film about baseball behind-the-scenes, but it’s also a film about the age-old clash between innovators and the old guard bucks. Great performances by Brad Pitt, Jonah Hill, Philip Seymour Hoffman. A smart film with good dialog and baseball love. On DVD January 10th.
Flaming Lips/Yoko Ono collaborative EP. Talk about weird. Yoko Ono and the Flaming Lips decided to release a 4 song EP. The EP was pressed on glow in the dark vinyl and limited to 2,000 copies, but is now available for streaming online. It’s not for everyone, but if you’re a fan of Ono or the Lips’ stranger stuff, definitely check this out. Start with Brain of Heaven which seems to hit just the right balance of the weird and melodic.
The Bippolo Seed and Other Lost Stories, by Dr. Seuss. A fan had heard that the late Dr. Seuss had published a number of stories in Redbook in the 50s and set about to collect them all. These “lost stories” have been collected in The Bippolo Seed and Other Stories. They are classic Seuss and are the perfect gift for the child in your life or any adult who just loves the stories of Seuss.
Beware of the Blog! Funk, soul, jazz, music from all over the world, weird stuff, good stuff, awful stuff, a lot of music. This site is the blog of the well-respected non-commercial Jersey City, N.J., radio station WFMU which is known for playing just about every eclectic variety of music imaginable EXCEPT the contemporary popular stuff. Visiting this blog is like taking a trip to the most gigantic, rare record store; flipping through tons of used vinyl. The only difference is that whatever musical treasure you happen upon in their collections are available for free download, a mad mad amount of mp3s! Mining the Audio Motherlode has a particularly interesting musical archives to delve into or search the whole site for artists.
Politifact.com. Fact-checking, both highly informative and fun, Politifact is the Pulitzer Prize winning project of the Tampa Bay Times and its partners “to help you find the truth in politics.” Researchers examine statements made by members of all levels of politics, analyze their statements, and then rate the accuracy of said claims on their “Truth-O-Meter.” Statements presented as facts are ranked, “True, Mostly True, Half True, Mostly False and False”….with the most flagrant falsehoods deemed, “Pants on Fire. ” According to the site, factual claims are examined in full context rather than in an edited form or how they appeared in news stories. With the upcoming presidential election on the horizon, in particular, this site can be an incredibly useful (and fun) tool in forming opinion and getting the facts straight.
BlackRockCoalition.org. The Black Rock Coalition has a new and vastly improved website. In addition to finding out what the BRC is all about, you can listen to tracks from their latest compilation CD, ‘Rock n Roll Reparations Vol.2, view photos and videos from previous events, and much more. www.blackrockcoalition.org
Glen Campbell’s Farewell Tour. One generation knows Campbell only as the singer of Rhinestone Cowboy and a variety show fixture. Later generations barely know him at all, which is a shame because he’s an extremely talented musician and performer. Following the release of last year’s excellent Ghost on the Canvas, it was announced that Campbell had been diagnosed with Alzheimer’s Disease. The disease is in its advanced stages but has affected his ability to play music much less than many of his other skills, so he has vowed to stay out on the road performing as long as he can. Come enjoy and be moved by his performance for undoubtedly the last opportunity to do so.
The National Jazz Museum In Harlem. Located in the heart of East Harlem, The National Jazz Museum hosts a variety of events designed to re-introduce a new generation to jazz. This month, it’s Louis Armstrong Month With Ricky Riccardi as part of their Jazz For Curious Listeners series and Jazz Is Now! hosted by jazz sensation Jonathan Batiste & Band. The best part is that most of the events are FREE! Go to www.jmih.org for more information.
Steven Smith Teamaker: The world is fast being taken over by tea shops, but are they any good? Most of the shops have a ton of ‘flavored’ teas and herbal blends, which many people love. But if you’re a purest and not looking for flavors like Cranberry Pear or Caramel Vanilla Spice, we recommend Steven Smith, where you can find a wide variety of simpler teas like Jasmine Silver Tip and Dragon Well.