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Originally published at The Fast Money Round. You can comment here or there.

This is the next in a series of posts giving my top five of everything: top five authors, movies, books, fonts, colors… anything and everything I can think of. Most of these lists, unless otherwise specified, aren’t in any particular order. Here’s the next list: my top five mash-ups. For the uninitiated, a mash-up is a song created from the elements of two or more songs. I enjoy them for the musical intuition and skill it takes to create one. (I’ve tried, to disastrous results.)

Cory’s Top Five Mash-Ups

1. Low Groove (Flo Rida vs. Earth, Wind and Fire) by Party Ben. My theory: putting lousy rap songs to vastly superior 70s-era funk or disco will always equal something awesome. This makes Flo Rida’s annoying, unbearable “Low” not just tolerable, but rather awesome.

2. Single Ladies (In Mayberry) (Beyoncé vs. The Andy Griffith Show) by Party Ben. Now, this is a mash-up. Here’s the formula: take two songs which could very well be considered polar opposites, and jam them together like uncomfortable cousins at a staged wedding. Bonus points: mash up the video. Give this one a listen, and you’ll be simultaneously tickled pink and bewildered. (And if you haven’t already figured this one out: Party Ben’s one of the best and most popular mash-up artists on the intertubes. Get to know his work; it is the best.)

3. Sweet Home Country Grammar (Nelly vs. Lynyrd Skynyrd) by DJ Mei-Lwun. Here’s another great example of taking two songs which are basically polar opposites and mashing them up together. The reason I like songs like this is that, on a very deep and metaphorical level, it can show that people’s differences only separate them so much, and that if used properly, differences can bring people together. (That’s a little too deep for something as silly as mash-ups. I apologize.)

4. Yeah In The Sun (Weezer vs. Usher, Ludacris and Lil Jon) by DJ Mike. The entire Jay-Zeezer album (which is Jay Z’s Black Album remixed with Weezer’s Blue Album) is a wonderful experiment that stands up to the test of time, mainly because the Black Album is amazing, and the Blue Album is one of Weezer’s finest. Mix them together skillfully, as DJ Mike did, and you have yourself a fine album. The mash-up I’m focusing on, however, is a bonus track on the Jay-Zeezer album, and it’s Island in the Sun by Weezer, mashed up with Usher’s Yeah song. It’s a jammin’ tune. (Peace up, A-Town down.)

5. Jam on Sesame Street (The Sesame Street Theme vs. Newcleus). To end this top-five, I’m throwing a new favorite that I haven’t gotten sick of yet. Take the hot 80s flow of rap group Newcleus and mix it with a sped-up version of the theme to the children’s show Sesame Street (which I still consider sacred ground; no one fucks with Sesame Street without respect and reverence. Those puppets taught me how to read, damnit) and you’ve got a real cool jam that is difficult to not dance to.

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Originally published at The Fast Money Round. You can comment here or there.

This is the next in a series of posts giving my top five of everything: top five authors, movies, books, fonts, colors… anything and everything I can think of. Most of these lists, unless otherwise specified, aren’t in any particular order. Here’s the next list: my top five TV shows.

Cory’s Top Five TV Shows

1. Arrested Development. I know I say that these aren’t in particular order, but I’ll be damned if Arrested Development isn’t the most clever, funniest and smartest show that ever aired on network TV. Every character plays their part to the fullest in every episode, and the complex foreshadowing that only become funny after watching a few times. The funny keeps up enough that watching the same episodes over and over don’t get old, they get better, like a fine wine. Buying the DVDs would not be a huge mistake.

2. Scrubs. Ignoring the current season that’s airing on ABC (mainly because it’s fresh, new and should be treated as a spin-off anyway), Scrubs is one of the few single-camera sitcoms that I could, again, watch over and over again. The story lines are interesting, and the fact that the entire show was taped pretty much in one giant hospital-cum-production lot is the icing on the cake. Coupled with the fact that every episode has at least one song to go and buy from iTunes, Scrubs runs the gamut for entertainment.

3. The Price is Right. Christ, again with the game shows. Yes, yes, it’s a game show, but it is an influential game show. It’s single-handedly shaped the landscape of daytime television. It’s given us catchphrases, a wicked awesome fight scene, numerous Family Guy skits and something to look forward to when you’re home sick from school. Its format hasn’t changed in over twenty years and even though people give Drew Carey a hard time, he’s still a great host for a show that remains an American institution.

4. Law and Order. In the criminal justice system, the people are represented by two separate, yet equally important, groups: the police, who investigate crime, and the district attorneys, who prosecute the offenders. Law and Order has been the de facto standard for procedural crime shows since its inception in 1990. (Christ, it’s been almost 20 years.) Even though the people change, the times change, and the courts change, the intrigue that the show (and its spin-offs, which are almost as good, if not better, than the original) provides in its hour-long slot leave little to be desired.

5. Chappelle’s Show. Now almost long forgotten, Dave Chappelle’s foray into sketch comedy was another game changer that deserves frequent second looks. As Richard Pryor did in the 70s, Dave Chappelle used racial stereotypes and taboos in order to not just be funny, but for America to take a long hard look on how race is treated in the modern age. Sadly, the show was canceled after the third season due to someone crossing the line, and if Dave Chappelle thought the line was crossed, then the line must have been very crossed. Still, the shows are a humorous and poignant look at race issues in America.

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Originally published at The Fast Money Round. You can comment here or there.

This is the next in a series of posts giving my top five of everything: top five authors, movies, books, fonts, colors… anything and everything I can think of. Most of these lists, unless otherwise specified, aren’t in any particular order. Here’s the next list: my top five podcasts. All links head to iTunes, so if you don’t have iTunes, then don’t click the links.

Cory’s Top Five Podcasts

1. The Rachel Maddow Show. MSNBC’s most logical and smartest host (just barely eking out Keith Olbermann), Rachel Maddow’s full show appears on a one-day delay on iTunes. Full show. 40-some odd minutes. For free. That shit is insane. Thank you, MSNBC.

2. The Preston and Steve Show. Preston and Steve are two of the funniest morning DJs in the world. Howard Stern is lame, fuck Danny Bonaduce and any other morning show on radio, despite what you think, is inferior to the Preston and Steve show. If you disagree with me, subscribe to Preston and Steve for a week. Listen to the show and, if after 5 days, you don’t love this show, then I will give you a cheesesteak for your valiant efforts.

3. Old Jews Telling Jokes. I am extremely not Jewish, but I still find Old Jews Telling Jokes very funny. There’s no surprise about what this podcast is about: it’s a bunch of old Jewish people, backed with years of telling their corny jokes, in front of a plain white background, telling the corny jokes they’ve told for years and years. And yet, something about an old geezer telling an extremely dirty joke? Never gets old.

4. The Onion News Network. This shouldn’t even need to be said. Consistently rated five stars on iTunes, the Onion News Network is truly America’s finest news source. Taking satire further than satire has ever been taken before, it’s refreshing to see someone stick it to not just cable news, but morning shows, government access and sports news, all in one podcast. It’s a must-watch.

5. This American Life. The greatest magazine show in the history of media. It’s like 20/20, but better, more touching, more… pertinent. Ira Glass has his timing down pat, the stories selected always fit the theme of the show, and the themes of every episode are engaging and intriguing. This is another one of those “if you’ve never listened before, listen a couple times” and I guarantee, you will love it.

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Originally published at The Fast Money Round. You can comment here or there.

This is the first in a series of posts giving my top five of everything: top five authors, movies, books, fonts, colors… anything and everything I can think of. Most of these lists, unless otherwise specified, aren’t in any particular order. Here’s list one: my top five movies.

Cory’s Top Five Movies

1. Slumdog Millionaire. The combination of dynamic storytelling, amazing visuals and a surprisingly accurate portrayal of a game show make for the best movie of 2008, by far.

2. Quiz Show. Yeah, yeah, I know. Two movies with game shows in them. Rest assured, dear reader: White Men Can’t Jump will not appear just because Rosie Perez’s fine ass appeared on Jeopardy!. Robert Redford’s directorial debut chronicling the rise and fall of the 1950s quiz show is less about the game show and more about the drama between everyone involved.

3. Up. I’ll admit it: the movie made me cry. Then it made me laugh. Then it intrigued me. Then it warmed my heart. Just like a good Disney movie should. Pixar has a hard time doing any wrong.

4. The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy. Although not a great translation of Douglas Adams’ book, the H2G2 movie was entertaining enough for me to watch over and over again and enjoy it. Not many movies do that, which is why The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy gets on the list.

5. Helvetica. I know that I really should not be making Top Five lists since I put shit like Helvetica on the list, but give me a chance to explain. Gary Hustwit’s documentary Helvetica is not just a movie about a font; it’s the on-screen experience of a group of influential people discussing the aesthetics that most forget but no one should take for granted.

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Originally published at The Fast Money Round. You can comment here or there.

The History of Game Shows is an ongoing series of articles about the history of game shows from 1500 to the present. This week’s article is about the popular game show, Family Feud.

At the very least catch phrase fodder for American pop culture, Family Feud is one of the staples of game shows in America today. Originally a spin-off of the bonus round from Match Game, Family Feud has been surveying 100 people, with the top 5 answers on the board, for over 30 years.

Dawson1973’s Match Game was, in 2 words, da bomb. The combination of host Gene Rayburn, the massive amount of celebrities, and of course, the dirty questions, made for a ratings smash. One of the regular celebrities, Richard Dawson, shows an incredible amount of competence in playing the game, plus a charisma and likability that made for excellent television. Mark Goodson and Bill Todman, always the forward thinkers, decided to convert the Super Match portion of the Match Game into a new show, and cast Dickie Dawson in the starring role.

Read the rest of this entry »

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Originally published at The Fast Money Round. You can comment here or there.

These are my confessions about my role in ruining WEXP La Salle Radio.

Those are strong words coming from someone who spent four years of his college career caring for the amateur, fledgling radio station as if it were his own child. But yes, I messed up a bit and I need to get it off my chest.

There was a transitional meeting at the end of my term as General Manager. That meeting’s purpose was to lead the incoming managers in the right direction of leading the station. I missed that meeting due to personal matters I rather not speak about in public. That’s where my messing up started and ended. I should have attended that meeting or at the least I should have rescheduled that meeting so I could have attended.

Where are we now? A general manager that can’t type, an executive board purely devoid of diversity, of gender, race or musical preference, and a podcasting system set up where only one person podcasts their shows. As much as the General Manager would love to blame me for all his ills, the facts that there has been zero innovations at the station, zero interest outside of doing shows, and zero interest in upgrading the station’s equipment show that the problems facing WEXP are much more than me missing one meeting. It’s the Adam Bagni-like, proud attitude of the current GM that worries about the station once more.

Leadership is important. The current GM is not showing the proper leadership. My worry is, I have a feeling he doesn’t even know it.

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Originally published at The Fast Money Round. You can comment here or there.

homer-loves-bufferingI’m an avid TV watcher. Yes, I like game shows, but my love of game shows is only a subsection of the half-hour joys of bite-size narrative digested weekly or daily.

As an aside, I once had a theory that movies and TV used to go through cycles: TV shows would generally be terrible while movies would be great, then once movies as a whole started to suck, those writers would move to TV and TV would get better, and on and on. I can’t prove that and I don’t have data to start, but it’s an interesting theory nonetheless.

My viewing habits, however, are piss-poor for such a TV fan. The cable I have is about to bite the dust (the cable box works when it feels like it) and I don’t want to have to go all the way upstairs just to watch some TV.

So, I’m investing my time in watching TV online. Everyone’s talking about how watching shows online is the wave of the future or what have you, and I’m more than happy to surf that crest. However, what’s the best place to watch shows online? I put different network’s offerings to the test to see where I can get my fix easiest. For the sake of full disclosure, I’m running a MacBook with Mac OS 10.5.7, with 1 GB memory and a 2.16 GHz processor, and I’m piping all this through a Verizon DSL line that isn’t very fast.

cbs66CBS.com/video is the Columbia Broadcasting System’s foray into online video. My experience with CBS wasn’t bad. Video won’t work with AdBlock Plus activated, and there’s no idea how loaded the video is (no indication on the play bar, no “buffering” indicator… nothing). Generally, starting the video and pausing it allows the video to load enough that, after a few minutes or so, the video starts to play. The commercials are unobtrusive and video quality is good, but no options exist for better (or worse) quality. They even have a 1080p HD channel, but neither my processor nor my connection could handle it. Their selection includes recent episodes from the entire CBS primetime lineup (I can watch the last full episode of How I Met Your Mother, the entirety of the 9th season of CSI, and episodes of 60 Minutes ranging as far back as January), recent episodes from the CBS daytime lineup (which is why I can watch The Price is Right and my girlfriend can catch up with the last two weeks of the Young and the Restless), episodes and clips from CBS’s late night shows and even classic full classic shows such as the Twilight Zone, the Love Boat and Family Ties. Overall, a pleasant experience.

nbc56NBC.com/video/library has a wide variety of videos available, and their video site is very well organized. No wonder NBC.com won the Webby Award for Broadband website. Full episodes include full runs of Miami Vice, Quantom Leap, and the most of the current seasons of shows like Kath & Kim, Southland and The Office, as well as recent episodes of Leno (soon to be Conan, fortunately) and Fallon. Their player is solidly built with some flaws. Just like CBS, there’s no way to know how much of the video is loaded at any given time. Also like CBS, there’s no quality settings. A fun feature of the NBC player was the almost instant access to any other show or episode via their ribbon-like interface at the bottom of each player page. By default, it gives you the option of different DVD-like “chapters” (which are portions between commercial breaks), but you can also browse other full episodes or other shows all together. When an episode ends, it’ll play another video or give you suggested options of what to watch next. That’s a handy feature for the bored viewer. On the thumbs down side, the way the advertisements work is a kind of a dealbreaker for me; I don’t like my advertisements to obtrude so much. The advertisements sometimes are larger than the video, a large pet peeve for me.

abc89ABC.com has only one feature going for it: automatic quality scaling. If your internet’s bandwidth starts to lag, the sound and video quality degrades so the stream can continue downloading. If your bandwidth picks up, the quality gets better. How does it do that? Well, in order to watch shows from ABC.com, you have to install a plug-in in order to watch it, which is annoying since everyone else allows you to watch shows via Flash. The fullscreen viewer is ugly, and the advertisements are intrusive and don’t automatically advance. Just to watch videos from ABC.com is a pain in the ass: video automatically plays when you login, and to watch full episodes, you have to open a pop-up window. To watch Scrubs online, ABC.com opens about 3 different pop-up windows just to get to the episode selection screen. Easily, the most annoying of the Big Three networks. As a matter of fact, instead of watching the Scrubs finale on ABC.com, I shelled out the $3.98 to download the shows from iTunes. Took longer to watch, but so very hassle-free, it was completely worth it. I’d rather watch Oprah eat a bushel of lobster in a bikini than have to watch TV on ABC.com ever again.

What’s my final verdict? Obviously, it’ll depend on what show you want to watch. In terms of user experience, you’ll get the most bang for your bandwidth at NBC’s website. CBS’s comes in a close second (and those HD videos, if you can get them to stream, are jaw-droppingly gorgeous), while ABC’s a distant 5th, behind not watching TV and gouging my eyes with soup spoons.

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Originally published at The Fast Money Round. You can comment here or there.

When you’re in a place where cable is lacking, money is tight and laziness is prevalent, sometimes you take different measures to get the things you used to get. Case in point: I don’t have cable TV right now.

Four months ago, I probably would have cried at the very thought of not having 24-hour news, sports, weather (aaand more!) let alone the ability to pause, rewind and record live television, all at the push of a button. (I wonder if that Comcast Twitter guy can read blogs, too.) But, over this summer, I’ve realized that cable isn’t an essential; rather, it’s a wonderful option that, if need be, can be replaced by ingenuity, a load of bookmarks, and Vuze.

However, when focusing on the internet for your television needs, you tend to be at the mercy of 1) whatever video sites haven’t been taken down due to the DMCA, 2) whatever episodes are still online, and 3) whatever Asian network server isn’t being pounded because it’s their peak hours and not ours. Luckily, with every major network having most of their shows online, I can keep track of shows that I may have missed due to night classes or other obligations (Lost, The Office and How I Met Your Mother, to name a few). The commercials that are interjected in between these shows are tolerable at best, annoyingly repetitive at worst, and overall, they pay the bills so I can keep laughing at Neil Patrick Harris for another 10 minutes.

There are, however, so many times you can watch the fourth season of the Office before Dwight and his crazy antics start to get old. Thus starts the “discovery” part of the internet, where I start to get addicted to new and exciting TV shows, even if those shows aren’t all that new. I’ve figured out that I actually enjoy House as much as I like Scrubs, as it were, and I’ve recapped myself on Rob and Big, but the one show that I’m absolutely loving is Arrested Development.

I’d been reluctant to watch Arrested Development, mainly due to people who kept asking me, “Hey, Cory, do you watch Arrested Development? Hahaha, that Tobias.” After a while, it just kind of became easier for me to say, “Oh yeah, I have. It’s got that kid from Juno in it!” instead of actually sitting down and watching the show. Thanks to Hulu, I’ve gotten through the first and second seasons of the show, and I didn’t realize how brilliant the show actually was.

If there’s anyone reading this who hasn’t watched the show (and I doubt there is, to be completely honest), this show is actually quite brilliant. There’s the initial layer of Tobias’ homosexuality (obvious to everyone but him, which adds about 10 minutes worth of jokes per episode anyway), the coping with the family’s lack of money, and George Michael’s romantic connection to his cousin. But there is subtle, underlying humor which require a couple viewings to catch, like the subtle (and sometimes not so subtle) references to other works related to actors and actresses on the show, brilliant cameos (more than just Ben Stiller), and the foreshadowing (and whatever the opposite of foreshadowing is) that happens as the series progresses. It’s obvious the writers had a very clear idea of the show they were trying to create.

I once had a theory about the cyclical nature of TV and movie writing. The theory is this: the better movies are at the box office, the worse TV will be. After a while of riding this wave, ratings will dip and networks will start hiring better writers to start writing for TV, and the quality of TV shows will increase. Movies will then search for new scripts and court better writers, and the cycle starts again when movies get better and TV shows get worse. I think the cycle lasts about two years or so, but I don’t have any hard data to prove any of this. I’ll get cracking with the Numbers and the Keynote when I’m not in the middle of moving all my belonging to a new townhouse.

Anyway, I like Arrested Development. I think it’s a very clever, very funny show. It’s a DVD purchase just waiting to happen. If I can give Ron Howard just a few more dollars, then I think I’ll have done my job.

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