Terry Gilliam on the Sound of Young America

Jesse Thorn continues to blossom into one of this country's most serious interviewers on the Sound of Young America. In recent weeks, he's had some really excellent interviews, and his chat this week with Terry Gilliam is absolutely top-notch. The conversation goes on for about forty minutes, and mostly focuses on Gilliam's latest film Tideland, which did not get good reviews. Gilliam very candidly discusses why this is the case, and at the end discusses how he's largely unbankable. Thorn's questions are intelligent, thought-provoking, and I feel like I've just eavesdropped on a chat between two colleagues.

Take a listen: (won't show up in Bloglines or in an aggregator)

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The Sound of Young America is a listener-supported podcast and independent radio production. Each week, Jesse Thorn talks with a couple of figures in the world of entertainment. This week also features a great conversation with Chris Elliot. Again, this is not a forced interview, and you'll hear things you're just not going to hear on any NPR program. Subscribe in iTunes for best results.


WNRN, Gateway Virginia headlines

So, I'n currently up to four days reading the news at WNRN, and am temporarily filling in as the news director here. This is a great challenge, and one that I'm enjoying. Who knew getting up at 4:00 could be so exciting?

In any case, this means I have returned to the experiment of the Gateway Virginia headlines. This is a proposed blog and podcast to provide a quick daily briefing of the news in western and Central Virginia. I've been tweaking it for a couple of months now, and the beta test will now increase to at least four days a week. Consistency is crucial if this is to become a viable media outlet, or media sub-outlet, or whatever.

Here's today's installment.

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I'm looking for any and all feedback on this. I think this is a useful way to turn the work I do for WNRN into a podcast that could reach new audiences. I have to work on the delivery, and find the right pace, but I'm pleased that I can post these in a timely fashion. I have this done regularly by 6:30 AM.

We're also looking for news volunteers. If you'd like to learn how to read the news, please contact me and we'll get you trained.


A one-way friendship between two cities

I've never been entirely impressed with the concept of the sister city, or "twinning" as its known in England. Charlottesville seems to have a lot of these arrangements, and it's supposed to be important, but the vast majority of us are never going to go to any of them. It's a nice gesture, kind of cute, but really, what's the point?

But, in any case, the English town of Bideford in Devon was recently visited by an enthusiastic man from Manteo, North Carolina. He arrived in the town hall bearing a nice present for the people of Bideford, proclaiming the two town's long history of friendship. The man believed the two places to be twinned.

As the Guardian reports, the Bideford town clerk knew nothing about it.

It was left to Bideford's town clerk, George McLauchlan, to break the news - after accepting a clock and other goodies marked with the Manteo logo - that he had never heard of the place. In fact, Bideford is twinned with Landivisiau in Brittany. The visitor was sent on his way to explain to his civic colleagues that Manteo's warmth towards Bideford was not reciprocated.

Mr McLauchlan said: "He seemed like a nice guy and gave me a clock. It was a very nice clock. I said thank you, but had to let him down gently. It seemed even more cruel not to. He seemed a little puzzled and said our name was on all their road signs. He said he was going home to look into it."

I wonder if such a thing has ever happened in Charlottesville. Do our "sister cities" even know we're here?

Update: I didn't even know that this was in the news recently! cvillenews.com has a discussion about Charlottesville's new relationship with Besançon, France.


U.Va Law professor talks baseball

Part of what I do for a living is record audio at the University of Virginia for their podcast. There's some really amazing stuff available through this site. I've just realized that someone has submitted their feed to Odeo, which means I can just add a little embed code here to make the player work out.

Anyway, yesterday, U.Va Law Professor Ted White gave a talk called "Baseball at the Crossroads" in which he outlined all of the major problems facing the sport. First of all, kids aren't playing the sport like they used to. Second, the economic playing field favors large-market teams over small-market teams. And finally, the steroids crisis is seriously hurting the sport. White is the author of Creating the National Pastime: Baseball Transforms Itself, 1903-1953.

This talk is part of the Provost office's More than the Score lecture series, held before every Saturday home football game. The very beginning of this talk features some information about the series, and White's talk is about five minutes in. Thanks to the player below, you can skip ahead.

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Take a listen. How do you think baseball will save itself? Will baseball be around in fifty years time?


Live Arts Presents Helen of Troy

Last week my wife and I went to go see Helen of Troy at Live Arts. The next day, I interviewed Ronda Hewitt to find out more about the play, and just what it meant. You can take a listen below.

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My website, the Charlottesville Podcasting Network, is giving away two free tickets to the play, which runs in the UpStage theater through October 28th. How can you enter the contest? Well, take a listen, and then drop a line to contest@cvillepodcast.com with your name and phone number. We'll draw a winner on Monday.


Saturday Night Live: Why Bother Anymore?

Sisyphus pushes that rock up that hill, hoping his task will be over once and for all. He struggles, and struggles, and struggles, and everytime, his strength collapses and the boulder escapes him, back to the bottom of the hill.

Twenty times a year, a group of men and women who we're told are talented do the same thing, trying to push the weight of a live television show up to the top of a hill in order to please us, to entertain us. But, something in the execution always escapes, and they never get up to the top of hill.

Yet, the metaphor could equally be written so that we are the ones pushing the rock up the hill, tuning in to this show to see if we will be pleased, if we will be entertained. Saturday Night Live is supposed to be the pinnacle of televised comedy, and we put it on our television screens in the hopes that it will work out, that we will see something majestic.

And it so seldom happens.

Tonight's episode is no exception. I can't believe that I keep tuning in, hoping for them to knock my socks off. This is supposed to be the best, but every week I'm reminded me that there are so many other people who deserve a shot at this show.

And yet, I keep watching, as a viewer, hoping they'll get to some sort of balance, that it will all work out. I had hoped with the shedding of dead weight with this year's cast, they would somehow manage to make it work.

Two episodes in, I don't think it's going to be the year. With two shows on NBC which expose how lame the show is, it definitely seems as if this isn't the year.

Even Weekend Update, which used to be worth watching, has been made absolutely irrelevant by the continued strength of the Daily Show, and the amazing rise of the Colbert Report. There's no sense of fun here, just the sense they think they have a birthright to funny, just because of the timeslot.

But, I'll continue to watch. Because, maybe next time, they'll get it right. That rock keeps on getting pushed.


Last chance to support WNRN this morning

Okay, this is your last chance this fall to support the news on WNRN during the fall fund-drive. It would be awesome if we got a call or two from folks reading this blog who haven't made a pledge yet. I'm here until 9:00 AM this morning, and would love to hear from you. Call in at 979-0919. There's a bunch of great premiums available.