Tuesday, April 2

Watch, Read, Listen

Welcome to the first installment of what I hope will become a regular feature of this blog: "Watch, Read, Listen." It's pretty dang simple: I understand that you can't read what I write 24/7, so I offer up some other ways to amuse yourself. And since they has my stamp of approval...well, you know they're fantastic. Le'ggo!

Stony Island - Anything that has to do with Chicago gets a plus in my book, and when it's exploring the jazz scene of the south side of the city, you know you're going to hear some great music, too. With legendary musicians like Richie Davis making appearances, follow the story of a group that must come together to release their debut album. Check out a trailer here.

The NCAA Final Four - It shocks me that I even have to mention this, but the Final Four is right around the corner, for both men and women. The women will have a new champ with the Baylor Bears getting knocked out yesterday, while the men have the two darlings of the tournament--9-seeded, angrily-playing Wichita State, and top-seeded Louisville, who saw their own Kevin Ware suffer a gruesome broken leg in their Elite 8 win over Duke--on the same side of the bracket. And don't worry; that video doesn't show the actual injury. If you haven't seen it, I'm not sure you want to. Either way, there's plenty of intrigue to be had, so make sure you're enjoying some of the best ball the NCAA has to offer from Saturday through Tuesday (4/6-4/9).

Veep - The second season of the hilarious HBO show kicks off April 14. Julia-Louis Dreyfus is set to be funnier than ever as Vice President Selina Meyer. And hey, she won an Emmy for her work last season, so the bar's set pretty high already. It's also got Tony Hale (Buster Bluth from Arrested Development) and a host of other folks you'll recognize, and then laugh at. Best of all, the show is only half an hour long, and Season 1 only had 8 episodes, so you can easily get caught up to speed.

Pop Kids - AFI frontman Davey Havok has always had a penchant for creating beautiful, if disturbing lyrics, and it's no different as he releases his first novel. Delving into the minds of teenagers, Havok takes a look at the younger generation's obsession with things like social networking, Internet porn and drugs. Of course, with Havok's background in music, there's plenty of references to it, and the singer has even included a soundtrack at the end of the book, which is pretty cool. (Black Candy Publishing; April 4, 2013; $20, popkidsbook.com)

Winners & Losers: Rants, Riffs & Reflections on the World of Sports - When you're a sports columnist, administrator, and trial lawyer, you see quite a few things. Bob Latham's been generous enough to chronicle all that he's come across in the sports world, and it's a really unique perspective. When he's describing walking the 17th fairway at St. Andrews or viewing the "de-wussification of America" by attending a Bears/Packers game (which, sadly, ended in heartbreak for my Bears), Latham puts you right in the action. Since I probably won't be attending the Australian Open anytime soon, this is the perfect substitute. (Greenleaf Books; $24.95)

Mixing the Contemporary with the Classics in Paris - This is a cool little article by Sam Lubell on the New York Times. I've only been to Paris once, but there's no denying the architecture in the country is some of the finest in the world. Lubell takes a look at some of the highlights, both well-known and unknown, and gives me a little taste of one of my favorite obscure computer games, Lost Leonardo, in the process.

Nora Jane Struthers & the Party People - It's funny...ever since moving to Austin, I've found a newfound appreciation of folk and bluegrass music. Nora Jane Struthers & the Party People could certainly fall into that group. With banjos and violins blazing, the group just has a knack for creating music that makes you feel good. And you can't go wrong with that. Check 'em out here.

Adrienne Pierce - With a soulful voice that pierces through soothing music, Pierce's album My Heavens is a great throwback to some of the girl groups of old, as well as some other 50s/60s artists like Buddy Holly. Since we can really use more of that kind of sound, this one gets a thumbs up from me.

Freekstile - It's no secret that Brooklyn has produced a great number of musicians, especially in the hip hop scene. Freekstile is the latest to toss his hat into the fray with his mixtape "The Xommon Mixtape." After his mother gave him a notebook when he was 9 to express himself, Freekstile, born Lydon Samuda, has channeled that into his music. The message isn't anything complex (Freekstile himself labels it as: "Story of my life. Video Games, Anime, Weed, Lean, Japan & Spanish chicks. Welcome to Vigilante"), but hey, it's fun to listen to, and that's all you can ask for. Here's a stream of the mixtape.

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