Famed monologist Mike Daisey, who presented two monologues in concert last year at the Berkeley Repertory Theatre, has always walked a fine line between dramaturgy and investigative journalism. His play The Last Cargo Cult provided a shrewd critique of mass production, developed largely during a trip to the island of Tanna. It's only outpaced by The Agony and Ecstasy of Steve Jobs, a piece Mr. Daisey wrote to explain how his infatuation with and curiosity about Apple technology ultimately led him to visit the Foxconn factories in China. The phrase "Agony and Ecstasy" is entirely apropos, since the play, which was recently featured on Public Radio International show This American Life, is both a diatribe and a somewhat reluctant hagiography.
Even in the calculatingly self-promotional medium of Internet video-making, it's really hard to just make something go viral. But Song-a-Day producer and former East Bay Express intern Jonathan Mann has better luck than most, perhaps because he's consistently topical and unimpeachably charming. Maybe it's because he knows how to pimp key words — like "vagina" and "Virginia" — or maybe it's his gift for alliteration. Whatever the case, Raw Story writer Stephen C. Webster declared Mann's "Mandatory Transvaginal Ultrasounds" video a sure viral hit. It pertains to the current debate over a GOP-sponsored bill that would require doctors to perform unnecessary external ultrasounds on any woman requesting an abortion in Virginia.
Surely you already know that Berkeley High is an incubator of greatness. And it's produced yet another genius. Class of 2010 grad Matt Olson, who now attends Stanford University and copyedits for The Stanford Daily, just pwned his quarterfinal game in the "Jeopardy!" College Championship, which means he now gets to jockey for the $100,000 grand prize. In a Q&A with The Daily, Olson dished about Alex Trebek's off-camera facial movements (they're weird), and the secret to winning (memorize state capitals). He'll next appear on the semifinals this Friday, February 10. They air at 7 p.m.
Via Invisible Oranges, a new documentary (available online in its entirety) questions whether touring is worth it for metal bands. The film, Why You Do This, follows the Long Island mathcore band Car Bomb as they play funky venues to a handful of people. Most local bands expect touring (and existing, for that matter) to be a money-losing endeavor, but the question is whether hitting the road is necessary, not just financially, but career-wise. Could it even be a career-killer? Or is sleeping in vans and skeezy motels an essential band experience?
Sex in the City actress Cynthia Nixon went against the grain — and stirred up controversy — by telling New York Times Magazine that in her case, being gay is a choice. "I say it doesn’t matter if we flew here or we swam here, it matters that we are here and we are one group and let us stop trying to make a litmus test for who is considered gay and who is not," Nixon said, defending her argument. She admitted to being in an awkward position, as a public figure going against the conventional wisdom that biology is destiny, a premise that many LGBT activists use to gird themselves against right wing zealots and social conservatives.
New York comedian and video blogger Franchesca Ramsey — the woman behind that ubiquitous "Shit White Girls Say to Black Girls" video — just shared a new set of outtakes on the web site AfroPunk.com, and we just couldn't resist passing them on.
While it may hew to a standard format, the new video for LoveRance's single, "Up," far outstrips the over-hyped song-and-dance for Drake's "The Motto," which featured Lil Wayne in green Uggs, and a car that drove everywhere. This one features mega-famous rapper-turned-actor, 50 Cent, alongside Rance's local peers, Iamsu and Skipper. Rance was named one of KMEL's Freshman 11 last year, alongside Columbia Records signatory Kreayshawn. He's made his name rapping about swag and seduction — and oral sex, a theme that wasn't lost on SF Weekly writer Tamara Palmer. Check the video out here:
So, guys... East Bay Express is holding an Erotic Short Films Festival on February 16, 2012, aptly titled "Briefs." We were hoping the flier would be enough to pique your interest:
“Daddy was right — I never do listen/but the blind old c*** couldn’t really see my vision/credit score low and I never held a job down/snackin on Xanny-bars just so I could calm down/my friends question why I’m so offbeat/or why I choose to write my name in wet concrete”