Saturday, August 30, 2014

Interview: Byron Crawford's new book looks back on his epic beef with Kanye

Hip hop's smartest, funniest blogger goes in on his greatest nemesis.

Posted By on Sat, Aug 30, 2014 at 12:26 AM

Somewhere way back in the mists of time, I was fresh out of college and working a grunt-level desk job at a law school. It gave me a ton of time to write on the internet, which, sadly, I mostly squandered on long-winded, pseudo-intellectual introspection. Luckily, it also gave me a lot of time to READ on the internet, which, thank God, I mostly squandered on the much sharper, more insightful, and more entertaining work of hip hop blogger Byron Crawford.

Crawford (aka Bol, aka Bol Guavara MD) is what would happen if Chuck Klostermann was black, loved hip-hop, and was justifiably angry about everything from institutionalized racism to corruption in the rap industry. Which is to say, he’d still be a nerdy suburbanite teddy bear, but a nerdy suburbanite teddy bear who regularly got in internet beefs with big-time rappers like Bun B.

Oh, and also Byron is regularly ten times funnier and smarter than Klostermann on his best day.

I was going to take a quick trip down memory lane (aka Byron’s archive), to dig up some gems to make the point about how amazingly funny he is, but unfortunately his website is so full of twerking gifs and ads for Diablo 3 these days that it brought my browser to a grinding halt. So you’ll have to settle for just a couple, which it took me nearly an hour to gather:

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Friday, August 29, 2014

Movie Review: As Above, So Below should've stayed buried

Not even the real-life backdrop of Paris' famed catacombs can inspire interest in this non-horrific exercise.

Posted By on Fri, Aug 29, 2014 at 4:49 PM


It isn't particularly scary. Or gory. Or satisfyingly creepy. And the idea it offers — that our external realities reflect what we feel inside — is as thinly sketched and dully realized as the script for a theme park ride. Which makes As Above, So Below a kind of wet-noodle horror movie for people who aren't sure they're ready to commit to the scares of Halloween Horror Nights. (The film also happens to be released by Universal).

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Do This: The Muslims Are Coming! ... Tonight!

Posted By on Fri, Aug 29, 2014 at 2:25 PM


Art2Action Inc. will present Iranian American comedian Negin Farsad, named one of the 50 Funniest Women by The Huffington Post, and a screening of her film The Muslims Are Coming!  — a new docu-comedy she co-produced — at the University of South Florida in Tampa at  7:30 p.m. at the University Lecture Hall (ULH 101), followed by a discussion with co-produce Farsad.

The event is part of the Building Bridges program initiated by Andrea Assaf, which aims to introduce students and the public to the wide diversity of Muslim and Arab identities, cultures and aesthetics. The events at USF will feature (mostly) women performers and artists in multiple disciplines, over a two-year period.

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Long Live the Gecko Queen!

Posted By on Fri, Aug 29, 2014 at 2:14 PM

Ruskin crowns a tomato queen. In Plant City, young girls dream of becoming the Strawberry Queen. Up in Monticello, just outside Tallahassee, the town names a Watermelon Queen.

In Gulfport, royalty has a more reptilian feel. All hail the 2014 Gecko Queen.

At the August 23 Gecko Ball, the 2013 Gecko Queen, Faun Weaver, surrendered her crown to the new Queen, Welsey Sloat. Sloat's reign will be the second "dynasty" for the city, who first crowned a Gecko Queen in 2013. 

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Thursday, August 28, 2014

Movie Review: November Man offers typical summer fare

Pierce Brosnan’s latest is an enjoyable but predictable medley of genre staples.

Posted By on Thu, Aug 28, 2014 at 5:46 PM


Montenegro, 2008. Veteran C.I.A. spook Peter Devereaux (Pierce Brosnan), the titular November Man — nicknamed such because there was nothing living after he swept through town — is grooming up-and-coming sharpshooter David Mason (Luke Bracey) in the spy trade.

First helpful hint: “You feel the need for a relationship? Get a dog.”

It’s all about emotional pragmatism in the dangerous and solitary cloak-and-dagger world; that’s nothing new. And not getting close won’t be a problem for Devereaux and Mason after the young gun clips a kid in the line of fire after the old hand tells him not to take the shot, even at Devereaux’s own peril. So the master retires from the game and the disgraced student fades into ops unknown.

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Do This — Labor Day Weekend's best

Posted By on Thu, Aug 28, 2014 at 3:04 PM

SCHMOO CUTE: Nationally touring circus artist Sara Schmoo is among the performers at the 14th Annual Gulfport GeckoFest on Aug 30.
  • SCHMOO CUTE: Nationally touring circus artist Sara Schmoo is among the performers at the 14th Annual Gulfport GeckoFest on Aug 30.

Ah, holiday weekend. For some of us the congested roads and beaches plus amateur partiers equals R&R time at home with some Netflix, snacks and a cuddle buddy at home.

The adventurous among us will venture out, and with good reason. There's much more to do than the standard barbecue-picnic routine. Here are some options:

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Movie Review: Persistence makes perfect

A new documentary, Persistence of Vision, delves into one of the greatest little-known tales in animation history.

Posted By on Thu, Aug 28, 2014 at 1:39 PM


A few weeks ago, my mother-in-law happened upon a DVD while in the checkout line at a discount store, a Miramax kid-flick sampler that housed a dozen or so animated features for the low price of $3.99. How could she resist? My son, still too young to concern himself with matters of taste or quality (current favorite movie: King Kong Escapes), had been watching each of the movies, but soon became obsessed with one in particular, something called The Thief and the Cobbler. I knew nothing about it, but when your child starts looping a flick over and over again, eventually you sit down and check it out.

Featuring the voices of Matthew Broderick, Jonathan Winters and Vincent Price, The Thief and the Cobbler was about as terrible as I had imagined. That said, I quickly realized something was up. In between the clumsily drawn stock moments and terrible songs were these amazing sequences, like Walt Disney and M.C. Escher had collaborated on some long-lost Middle Eastern-themed Fantasia. What was going on here? I started Googling. Four hours later my jaw was still on the floor.

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Steven Lolli: Confessions of an "Urban Jew"

Posted By on Thu, Aug 28, 2014 at 12:01 PM

Steven Lollis rants in Los Angeles black comedy scene got him noticed (and hired) by Katt Williams.
  • Steven Lolli's rants in Los Angeles' black comedy scene got him noticed (and hired) by Katt Williams.

Steven Lolli isn't afraid to share his opinions. The graduate of Gaither High School (who now lives in Los Angeles) makes a living sharing them on stage with no filter and a general disdain for what he sees as an unproductive status quo in comedy.

Those opinions have probably offended a few people, but it also made him a hit in predominantly black comedy clubs. It also got him noticed by Katt Williams, who promptly hired him as a writer and helped come up with his moniker, "Urban Jew."

Lolli headlines the Carrollwood Cultural Center on Saturday, and we asked him about his time in Tampa and what people can expect at his stand-up show.

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Sola at USF — dance by women, for women

USF's new dance performance defies restraints on artists in the 21st century.

Posted By on Thu, Aug 28, 2014 at 11:50 AM

Bliss Kohlmyer
  • Bliss Kohlmyer

In its most treacherous moments, the world of an artist is wrought with self-doubt and fear. The ability to produce, to create something out of nothing with sparse funding and support, is a daunting feat. 

Andee Scott — an assistant professor of modern dance and choreography at the University of South Florida — has spent the last decade of her career challenging the personal/societal limitations that creep up on professional creatives.

Scott’s newest project, Sola, is a medley six dance solos, choreographed by women for women. Sola will make its debut at the University of South Florida on Aug. 29 at 8 p.m. and have a repeat showing on the following night. The performance will tour the United States, making stops in New York, Michigan, Texas and Vermont through the course of the next year.

Scott’s first foray into the exploration of women’s place in dance was Woman’s Work: Reconstruction of Self, which she produced while living in Austin, Texas. She commissioned five solo pieces from female dancers around the world, through personal and professional connections.

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Merchandise, it is personal this time

Posted By on Thu, Aug 28, 2014 at 3:08 AM

TAMPA BOYS: Merchandise in an old publicity photo.
  • TAMPA BOYS: Merchandise in an old publicity photo.

Last weekend I read that somewhat convoluted if evocative feature on the Tampa band Merchandise, newly signed to 4AD Records.

The magazine called Tampa "America's corniest town,"— its author, Jenn Pelly, who's written about the band more than once, opted for the British spelling of "favourite" and characterized lead Carson Cox as "the crooning 28-year-old frontman with old-soul charm and razor-sharp wit."

Corn is in the ear of the beholder, I suppose, and before I launch into my own diatribe, allow me to say congrats. I am genuinely happy for Merchandise and their hard-earned successes. I've always been a supporter of local bands — since the boys were still playing with their Ninja Turtles. Before my A&E gig, I interviewed local bands for TBT every week, in person (for the most part), for five years.

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