Saturday, February 14, 2015

The Daily Show without Jon Stewart

The Guardian:
Jon Stewart is to step down later this year as host of The Daily Show after nearly two decades spent satirizing – and influencing – U.S. politics. Stewart, 52, announced his departure in an emotional address at the end of Tuesday's show on February 10, saying his 16-year run in the hot seat was enough.

“In my heart I know it is time for someone else,” Stewart, at times close to tears, told the audience. He was still working out details of his exit, which could come anytime between July and December, he said. “I don’t have any specific plans. Got a lot of ideas. I got a lot of things in my head.”

Stewart hinted at a yearning for a change of pace after the treadmill of hosting a broadcast four times a week. “I’m going to have dinner on a school night with my family, who I have heard from multiple sources are lovely people. This show doesn’t deserve an even slightly restless host and neither do you.”

Born Jonathan Stuart Leibowitz in New Jersey, in 1962, Stewart was a stand-up comic who landed a slot at the famed Comedy Cellar. His first break came in 1989 with cable TV’s Short Attention Span Theatre, before he forged a friendship with David Letterman.

By 1993 Stewart was hosting his own MTV show, but when that show was cancelled in 1995 it seemed he had peaked. When Craig Kilborn left The Daily Show in 1998 he was replaced by Stewart as the face of what rapidly became the most talked about comedy show in America. The show established Stewart as a singular force in U.S. political and media life.

The comedian, who serves as executive producer, has garnered about 2.5 million viewers per night with biting satire that entertained, provoked and at times shaped the political agenda – often with progressives echoing his talking points and conservatives denouncing them.

Stewart's version is currently the second longest-running program on Comedy Central after South Park, and has risen to critical acclaim. It has received two Peabody Awards for its coverage of the 2000 and 2004 presidential elections. Between 2001 and 2012, it has been awarded 18 Primetime Emmy Awards in the categories of Outstanding Variety, Music, or Comedy Series (winner for 10 consecutive years from 2003 to 2012) and Outstanding Writing for a Variety, Music, or Comedy Program, and a further seven nominations. The show has also been honored by GLAAD, the Television Critics Association, and the Satellite Awards. America (The Book): A Citizen's Guide to Democracy Inaction, the 2004 bestseller written by Stewart and the writing staff of The Daily Show, was recognized by Publishers Weekly as its "Book of the Year", and its abridged audiobook edition received the 2005 Grammy Award for Best Comedy Album.

The program is popular among young audiences, with organizations such as the Pew Research Center suggesting that 80% of regular viewers are between 18 and 49, and that 10% of the audience watch the show for its news headlines, 2% for in-depth reporting, and 43% for entertainment, compared with 64% who watch CNN for the news headlines.

The comedian took time off in 2013 to make his film writing and directorial debut, Rosewater, a political drama about Maziar Bahari, a journalist accused of spying and imprisoned in Iran. Critics acclaimed it, prompting the Los Angeles Times to joke that Stewart “may have a promising back-up career”. Stewart also emerged as a forceful proponent for Bassem Youssef, an Egyptian satirist curtailed by Egypt's post-Arab Spring rulers.

In its own announcement, Comedy Central, which has aired the show since 1996, said Stewart would step down later this year. Michele Ganeless, Comedy Central’s president, hailed Stewart as a comic genius. “Through his unique voice and vision The Daily Show has become a cultural touchstone for millions of fans and an unparalleled platform for political comedy that will endure for years to come.”

In the mid-1990s, Stewart launched his own production company, Busboy Productions, naming the company in reference to his previous job as a busboy. After Stewart's success as host and producer of The Daily Show, he revived Busboy Productions with Daily Show producers Ben Karlin and Rich Korson.

In 2005, Comedy Central reached an agreement with Busboy in which Comedy Central would provide financial backing for the production company. Comedy Central has a first-look agreement on all projects, after which Busboy is free to shop them to other networks. The deal spawned the Daily Show spin-off The Colbert Report and its replacement The Nightly Show with Larry Wilmore. Other projects include the sitcom pilot Three Strikes, the documentary Sportsfan, the series Important Things with Demetri Martin, and the film The Donor.

More information:
» The Atlantic: The House That Jon Stewart Built
» New York Times in 2008: "Is Jon Stewart the Most Trusted Man in America?"
» New York Magazine in 2014: Jon Stewart In Conversation

Wednesday, February 11, 2015

Kendrick Lamar - "i"/"The Blacker the Berry"

"i" is a song by American rapper Kendrick Lamar, released on September 23, 2014 as the lead single from his upcoming, yet-to-be-titled third studio album. The song heavily samples "That Lady", as performed by R&B group The Isley Brothers, elements of which were re-recorded rather than being directly sampled from the original record. The song, produced by Rahki, debuted and peaked at number 39 on the Billboard Hot 100.

The song received critical acclaim from music critics. The track was placed at number ten on Rolling Stone '​s 50 Best Songs of 2014 list. Billboard listed "i" as the second best song of 2014. "i" also was placed at number 14 on Spin's list of "The 101 Best Songs of 2014". "i" received the award for Best Rap Performance and Best Rap Song at the 2015 Grammy Awards.

The Guardian:
The Boi-1da and Terrace Martin produced track comes in anticipation of his followup to Good Kid, M.A.A.D City and echoes Lamar’s previous comments regarding the police shootings of 2014.

“What happened to [Michael Brown] should’ve never happened. Never. But when we don’t have respect for ourselves, how do we expect them to respect us? It starts from within. Don’t start with just a rally, don’t start from looting – it starts from within,” he told Billboard in an interview, which led to comments from artists such as Azalea Banks and Kid Cudi, who criticized the way in which Lamar laid the blame on black youths.

Lamar is no stranger to addressing issues surrounding crime, race and violence: on the track "Sing About Me, I’m Dying of Thirst" featured on Good Kid, M.A.A.D City, he addresses the psychology of the victim in a shooting. “That’s the most interesting story to me,” he said in an interview with the Guardian. “At first, I was scared to show fear because you can never be sure how people will perceive you. But I dared myself to do that, to stand out.”

Described by Pharrell Williams as “this era’s Bob Dylan”, his third full-length album is expected in 2015.

Saturday, February 7, 2015

Wednesday, February 4, 2015

Maze Featuring Frankie Beverly - "Back In Stride" (1985)

Maze are an American soul/quiet storm band established in San Francisco, California in the early 1970s. The band can be considered as the project formerly known as The Butlers, and later Raw Soul, with member Frankie Beverly being songwriter, record producer, arranger, singer, keyboardist and guitarist.

The Philadelphia born Beverly started the group as Raw Soul in 1970. They recorded a couple of singles on the small Gregar label, but without any major hits. With a few personnel changes, a relocation from Philadelphia to the San Francisco Bay Area in California in 1971, and an introduction to Marvin Gaye, the group became an immediate success. Gaye took the group on the road with him as one of his opening acts, and in 1976, he suggested that they changed their name from Raw Soul to Maze.

"Back in Stride" claimed the number one spot on the soul singles chart, remaining there for two weeks, and reached eighty-eight on the Hot 100, in the spring of 1985. The mid-tempo single was written and produced by Beverly. The Top 5 follow-up, "Too Many Games" was also featured on Can't Stop the Love. The latter single also became the band's biggest hit in the UK, where it peaked at number 36 on the charts.

Monday, February 2, 2015

Super Bowl XLIX

New England Patriots  28 : 24  Seattle Seahawks
Tom Brady put a stamp on his legacy with a cold-blooded fourth quarter, leading the New England Patriots from a 10-point deficit to capture his fourth Super Bowl ring and third MVP award in the 28-24 win over the Seattle Seahawks.

"It wasn't the way we drew it up, certainly throwing a couple picks didn't help," Brady told NBC after the game. "It was great, a lot of mental toughness, our team's had it all year and we never doubted each other. ... That was a great football team we beat. I'm just so happy for our team."

The Patriots had lost three straight Super Bowls since winning three in four years a decade ago. Brady responded with an MVP performance worth his lore.

Brady threw four touchdown passes and set a career Super Bowl record with 13 touchdown strikes in his six games played, passing Joe Montana's mark of 11.

The 37-year-old quarterback might have a sore arm on Monday after attempting 50 passes, completing a Super Bowl-record 37 for 328 yards. The Patriots came in with a game plan to pick apart the Seahawks' secondary with a million paper cuts.

The Seahawks pulled off a miraculous rally to beat Green Bay in the NFC Championship Game and were in position for another improbable victory when Jermaine Kearse made a juggling, 33-yard catch while on his back.

With the ball on New England's 1, Seattle appeared to be headed toward a second straight Super Bowl title. Malcolm Butler spoiled the Seahawks' bid, stepping in front of Ricardo Lockette for the interception.

More information:
» Bill Belichick: The Great Defender
» Aaron Rodgers Becomes Ninth Player Ever to Win Multiple MVP Awards
» attn: "Here's Exactly How the NFL Avoids Taxes"

Saturday, January 31, 2015

Ovechkin Among Most Consistent, Durable, and Prolific Goal-Scorers of All-Time

Washington Post:
A 4-0 romp over the Pittsburgh Penguins offered the best of both worlds. Ovechkin redirected Karl Alzner’s point shot past Fleury early into the first period, then blasted his typical power-play one-timer in the second, his 28th and 29th tallies of the season, respectively. He tied Peter Bondra for the franchise record with 93 multi-goal games.

“I just think when Alex is determined, the way he is, lately, he creates much good offense,” Coach Barry Trotz said. “He’s dangerous. Every night you look at the stat sheet. If he scores or not, he’s got 10 shots. There’s guys in the league who go a month without 10 shots sometimes. I think he’s having fun … He’s been doing a really good job.”

Parse the statistics any way you please. His plus-12 rating leads all Capitals forwards. Whenever he skates at even strength, Washington records 54.1 percent of the total shot attempts, most among any skater with at least 500 minutes, per He should be regarded as a front-runner to win his third straight Maurice “Rocket” Richard Trophy, and now leads all NHL skaters with 12 goals (and 15 points) in 12 games this month. No one his sniffing him either; Columbus’ Ryan Johansen ranks second, with eight goals in 11 games.

Ovechkin's next goal, which he could score as soon as Saturday afternoon, when he and the Washington Capitals visit the Montreal Canadiens (1 p.m. ET; NHLN-US, SN, RDS, CSN-DC), will be his 30th this season. It will also be the 10th time he's reached 30 goals in his first 10 NHL seasons.

Four players in the history of the NHL have accomplished that: Mike Bossy, Wayne Gretzky, Jari Kurri and Mike Gartner. It is a feat of ability, consistency, durability and longevity. It is also an accomplishment that will buttress the case for Ovechkin in any discussion about the greatest goal-scorers of all time.

"I saw an Ovechkin goal [Wednesday] against Pittsburgh, and it seems to me that every goal or highlight of his I see is him scoring the same goal," Bossy said. "So he's scored a lot of those this year. I don't know how hard that shot was back then, but [Ovechkin's] was a lot harder than my one-timers back then. The equipment has changed; I don't care how big the goalies' equipment is, when you're taking a shot like Ovechkin took [Wednesday], it's going to go in."

To score 30-plus goals 10 straight seasons to start a career, a player must make an instant impact. Jaromir Jagr would be on the list, but he fell just short in his first season, when he scored 27 goals on a loaded Pittsburgh Penguins roster in 1990-91. The only active players to score at least 30 goals in their first NHL seasons are Ovechkin, Sidney Crosby, Evgeni Malkin and Jeff Skinner.

Ovechkin has been incredibly consistent. He led the League in shots on goal in eight of his first nine seasons, and scored on at least 10.6 percent of those shots in eight of nine.

Ovechkin has also been incredibly durable, something that derailed Crosby's and Malkin's chances of joining him on this list. He has missed 10 games or fewer in each of his first nine seasons, and four or fewer in all but one.

He has proven his ability to be an elite goal-scorer for a long period of time. Barry Trotz would be the fifth Washington coach under which Ovechkin has scored 30-plus, and it hasn't mattered when the Capitals changed systems and tried to alter their identity.

So where does Ovechkin currently stand in the company of the all-time great goal-scorers? He has a chance to break into the top 50 in goals in NHL history by season's end, though he'd need 24 more to do so.

He is sixth in goals per game at 0.62, and fourth among players who didn't retire before the end of the Great Depression. Bossy, Mario Lemieux and Pavel Bure are ahead of him, with Gretzky, Brett Hull, Bobby Hull and a tie between Steven Stamkos and Tim Kerr rounding out the top 10.

His 29 goals lead the League. Should he finish the season with the most goals, it would be the fifth time he's won the Rocket Richard Trophy in his career.

There hasn't always been a Richard Trophy to award, but there has always been someone who led the League in goals, or tied for the lead. If he wins another, Ovechkin would become the fifth player in NHL history to lead the League in goals outright at least five times.

Gretzky and Gordie Howe did it five times. Bobby Hull and Phil Esposito did it six times, with Hull tying for the League lead on a seventh occasion.

Sunday, January 18, 2015

NFL Playoffs: Championship Round

Deflategate Update: "Eleven of the Patriots' 12 game balls were inflated by 2 pounds per square inch below what's required by NFL regulations during the AFC Championship Game against the Colts, according to league sources."

Seattle Seahawks  28 : 22  Green Bay Packers
Russell Wilson hit Jermaine Kearse for a 35-yard touchdown 3:19 into overtime to lift the Seattle Seahawks to an improbable 28-22 victory over Green Bay in the NFC championship game. The Seahawks became the first defending champion to make the Super Bowl in 10 years, and will play the winner of the AFC title game between Indianapolis and New England. Outplayed much of Sunday and plagued by five turnovers, the Seahawks (14-4) trailed 16-7 with 2:09 remaining. That's when Wilson ran 1 yard for a TD. Seattle recovered a bobbled onside kick at the 50, and Marshawn Lynch sped and powered his way to a 24-yard TD run. Wilson's desperate 2-point conversion pass was hauled in by Luke Willson to make it 22-19. But Aaron Rodgers led the Packers (13-5) to Mason Crosby's fifth field goal, from 48 yards with 14 seconds to go. Then Wilson and Kearse struck.

New England Patriots  45 : 7  Indianapolis Colts
Tom Brady threw for three touchdowns and LeGarrette Blount ran in three more on Sunday to lead the New England Patriots into the Super Bowl with a 45-7 victory over the Indianapolis Colts. The Patriots won their eighth AFC championship - their sixth under Brady and coach Bill Belichick. They will play the Seattle Seahawks in Super Bowl in Glendale, Arizona, on Feb. 1. New England (14-4) opened a 14-point lead in the first half and then broke it open in a driving rain with three third-quarter touchdowns and another to start the fourth. That made it the second-most lopsided game in AFC championship history.