Monday, July 22, 2013

A Bridge Worth Crossing

Anyone out there seen the new television series on FX, "The Bridge"?

It's just my humble "Sports Doofus" Opinion, but you should really check it out.

The Bridge airs Wednesdays at 9 pm Central.
The Bridge is actually based off of a Danish/Swedish TV series called Bron.

Here is a brief breakdown of what "The Bridge" is about, according to Wikipedia:  The Bridge follows two police detectives – one Mexican, one American – and their joint effort to investigate a serial killer menacing both nations along the TexasChihuahua border.[1] Their investigation is complicated by the rampant corruption and general apathy among the Mexican authorities and the violence of the powerful borderland drug cartels.[2] The show title refers to the Bridge of the Americas that serves as a border crossing between El Paso, Texas and Juárez, Chihuahua, the setting of the series.[2]

There have only been two episodes so far, but they have got me completely hooked already.  Both lead actors are very good.  Diane Kruger (famous from the "National Treasure" movies) plays the American Detective, Sonya Cross, who has Asperger syndrome.  Her counterpart, Demian Bichir (who was nominated for an Academy Award for A Better Life), plays the Mexican Detective, Marco Ruiz.

Detectives Cross and Ruiz are the centerpiece of this show.
The give and take between these two vastly different detectives: Mexican and American, Male and Female, Veteran and Youngster, Laid Back and Aspergers... really makes the show enjoyable.  The supporting actors (Ted Levine, Matthew Lillard, Annabeth Gish) are all solid as well, and did Lyle Lovett make a surprise appearance as an attorney in episode two?  Yes, he did.  Lillard is particularly enjoyable in his role as a "down on his luck" alcoholic reporter, who has apparently drank himself from the New York Times to the local El Paso newspaper.

It's a good show, and it's good on many levels.  It's a murder mystery, it's a statement on race relations, it's a statement on living (and working) with a behavior disorder, it's all of these things.

Anyway, if you are like me, and enjoy good television series with strong writing and good performances, you should watch The Bridge.  I think you'll like it.

If you want to catch up on the first two episodes, you can watch them online HERE.

Check it out, it's really, really good!

Saturday, July 20, 2013

Podcast Fever: Catch it!

First real blog post in over a month!  Woah dude, I've been slacking.

To be honest, I've actually been doing stuff.  Between little league baseball games, carpet installations, yard work, shed building, etc, etc, etc... I've really not had much time to sit down and put some thoughts into my blog.

So, one thing I have found myself doing, with increasing regularity lately has been listening to podcasts.  I know I've blogged about this in the past, usually just mentioning it in passing, but today I thought I'd look at the subject of podcasts as a topic in and of itself.

With the students and most of the staff out of the school during a typical workday, I'm left with a lot of time by myself...and while I'm busy, it's nice to be able to listen to things.  If I'm in the office for an extended period of time, I'll just open the websites and listen to the podcasts on my laptop, but most of the time, I'm moving around from here to there, and I just download the show I want to listen to on my phone... plug in the earbuds... and I'm spending an hour or so with Jay Mohr or Adam Carolla.

The great thing about podcasts is twofold:
1.  The infinite variety - take a look at the top downloaded podcasts on iTunes. Business, Comedy, Sports, Science, Religion... there is really no end to the kind of material you can access.
2.  Listener Control - instead of listening to a traditional "radio show" that airs at this appointed time, on the appointed channel, on the appointed days... with a podcast, you can pick and choose what shows you want to listen to, download them and listen to them at your convenience.

So, if you are a fan, of comedy and comedians like I am... the podcast is a virtual goldmine.  There are seemingly an unlimited amount of comedians who host their own podcasts.  I just did a quick search and found a good list of ten comedian podcasts.

I find the comedian podcasts are the easiest to follow when you are doing stuff, because if you miss something, it's OK.  I could see a news, or politics, or something a bit more serious and informative being much more difficult to listen to. (at least while you are working)

So, I thought I'd discuss a few of my favorite podcasts, and what I like about them here.

1.  Mohr Stories - Comedian/Actor Jay Mohr puts out his "Mohr Stories" on Mondays and Fridays each week.  The podcast is normally Jay recorded one on one with a guest.  The guest is often another comedian, sometimes an actor, but it could be an athlete (a recent episode with former Laker Rick Fox was very good), and sometimes a musician.

I think the reason this is my favorite is that I'm a sucker for impressions, and Jay Mohr does some killer impressions.  He'll being going along asking questions, and then all of a sudden he'll be doing Colin Quinn, or Christopher Walken, or Tracy Morgan, or .... whoever.
Probably the best episode of Mohr Stories that I've listened to was recorded with veteran comedian George Wallace.  I'm telling you, I was in absolute stitches listening to these two comedians go back and forth.

2.  The Adam Carolla Show - probably the guy who turned podcasts and podcasting into the phenomenon they are today.

Carolla hosted a very popular radio show in Southern California, and about four years ago, he took his show off the airwaves, and onto the Internet.

Carolla's show is different than most podcasts, as it still holds more of a "traditional radio show" vibe to it.  Carolla records his show daily and new episodes appear most weeks Monday through Friday (usually recorded the night before).   Each day Adam and his two co-hosts (Bald Brian and Alison Rosen) cover any number of topics of the day, (Usually during Allison's News segment).  And there are weekly features to this podcast... Dave Dameshek comes in once a week to talk about sports, they usually do a live show in front of an audience once a week (on Weds nights, and the podcast appears Thursday mornings).

Carolla is also different from most podcasters, in that he doesn't just have his show... he hosts a number of shows over his "Carolla Digital" Brand, including:

-The Adam and Drew show (Adam reuniting with his former "Loveline" partner, Dr. Drew)
-The Dr. Drew Podcast (Dr. Drew gets his own podcast, to go with his 15 million television projects)
-Ace on the House (Adam and his buddy Ray give home improvement tips)
-Alison Rosen is your New Bestfriend (Newsgirl Alison Rosen hosts her own podcast)
-Carcast (Adam and Matt D'Andria talk about... Cars!)
-For Crying Out Loud (Adam's wife Lynette and Stephanie Wilde-Taylor discuss children and child raising)
-Penn's Sunday School ( Penn Jillette and company talk about the news and stuff)
-This Week with Larry Miller (Comedian Larry Miller gets his own podcast).

I'm not really sure how Adam finds the time to participate in 4 different podcasts, oversee the production of 5 others, race cars on the weekend, become an alcohol distributor, appear on "dancing with the stars" and "celebrity apprentice", along with his guest spots on Jimmy Kimmel Live, and other podcasts... but I'm glad that he does.  I've listened to a few of the other podcasts on his network... the Adam and Drew show is very good, and Alison Rosen is Your New Best Friend can be excellent, depending upon the guest.

3.  Sklarbro Country -The Sklar Brothers (Randy and Jason) host a podcast that discusses comedy and sports.  It is normally a weekly show, but occasionally they will put an extra episode on there.

You may remember the Sklars from their appearances on espn's Cheap Seats... but they also appeared on some of those VH1 "I love the " 80's, 90's, etc... shows.

I really haven't listened to this podcast that many times, only a handful to be completely honest.  But I really enjoy them every time I listen to them...they have good guests, they talk about sports, and they're hilarious.  This is definitely a podcast that I am looking to put into my weekly rotation.

4.  The Nerdist - hosted by comedian, TV show host, and all around nerdball Chris Hardwick.  Nerdist puts out new shows every few days, and the guests that Hardwick interviews varies greatly... most of the time they are people from the entertainment world, but they don't have to be.

The Nerdist lives up to it's name, and while it can be funny and insightful, and quite witty... it discusses video games, and the Internet, and Comicon, and all things of that nature.  In fact the intro music for the podcast sounds like something off of an early 80's video game.

Still, it's a good show...and actually the 2nd podcast I started listening to after the Carolla show.  However after a while I discovered Mohr Stories, which I enjoyed more.  However, as I have drifted into a podcast "frenzy" lately, I have been listening to the Nerdist more often again, and really enjoying it.

5.  Monday Morning Podcast - Comedian/Actor Bill Burr hosts the weekly "Monday Morning Podcast".... which doesn't always come out on Mondays.

One thing different about Burr's podcast... no guests.  He just sits down and starts talking about stuff... some of it is what went on the weekend before (this is where the podcast gets it's name, he records it when he returns home from a weekend of doing comedy shows), then he maybe talks about some stuff in the news, and then he maybe discusses a few letters or e-mails that have been sent to him.

Although he's kinda brassy and he's often making fun of and chastising his own fans, Burr's podcast just works.  It's kind of refreshing hearing somebody just sit down and lay it out's what I think, deal with it.

A couple other podcasts that I don't listen to, but I've heard good things:

WTF with Marc Maron - I did listen to part of one episode one time, last year...and he was so gruff, and just unpleasant I turned it off.  But I keep hearing good things, and this show always makes the lists of the top podcasts.... so maybe I should give Maron another listen.

Doug Loves Movies - comedian Doug Benson evidently sits down and discusses movies, and movie trivia with a couple of guests.  I really wanted to give the podcast a shot...but there wasn't an App for it in the android store.  I guess I could always just download it...and import it as an mp3 file from my computer.  I've heard a lot of good things about this, and I bet it's great... Doug Benson is super funny, and who doesn't like movies?

One thing I've been looking into lately is getting a "Podcast Manager".  Something like this.  A place where you can download and manage all your podcasts in one place.  I'm not sure how it works, and I'm not sure if I want to take the time to try and set this up.  If anyone out there uses a podcast manager, and really likes it...please let me know... I'll be sure to try it, and post something about it on here.

Alright, so to wrap up... if you aren't listening to podcasts... I think it's something you should check into.  And you don't have to be a comedy lover like I am, they come in all formats... news, politics, religion...whatever you're into.

I hope you enjoyed the discussion of these podcasts, and hopefully you will decide to give one (or more) of them a try.  They're free!  And they are quite often hilarious, and sometimes even a bit informative.

Friday, July 12, 2013

HLN Babes

Lately, I've been finding myself watching alot of Headline News Network in the mornings.

I'm not really sure why.

Morning Express host Robin Meade

Weekend Express host Natasha Curry
I know, I know, every network has their "News Babes".

Just thought I should give special mention to my two favorites.