Writing
How Green is Your Electricity?

A few years back I wrote about how driving an electric car isn’t necessarily the most climate-friendly choice.  That’s in a large part because the electricity used to power those cars is often generated by very carbon-intensive methods. Well today over in IFLScience University of Sydney Professor of Sustainability Research Manfred Lenzen provides a surprising chart of the greenhouse gas emissions of electricity generation technologies. 1From the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation.

Find out what this means →

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1. From the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change’s Special Report on Renewable Energy Sources and Climate Change Mitigation.
How to Be a Better Friend

Yesterday for #SinceritySunday, a Twitter trend I started a few years ago that’s caught on all over my living room, I tweeted this:

Since hundreds of people 1All of whom are located deep within my imagination. have asked me what differentiates help, support, encouragement, and sympathy, I thought I’d clarify.

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1. All of whom are located deep within my imagination.
Here is Orson Welles’s “The War of the Worlds” and the Reasons Why You Should Listen to It

Orson Welles on the air with the Mercury Theatre

Update, May 7, 2015: Yesterday would’ve been Orson Welles’s 100th birthday. I originally wrote the piece below in 2012 when raising money for the pilot episode of my radio comedy Special Relativity. That show came to fruition last month, starring Alex Borstein, and you can listen to the first episode at SpecialRelativityRadio.com or on iTunes.

As today’s incentive to get you to donate to Special Relativity’s sprint to raise $125 a day for the next 20 18 days, I’m giving you a gift of my favorite radio show ever, which also happens to be one of the most important works of art of the 20th century. (I know that the way these pledge drives usually work is that I give you the gift after you donate, but we’re all family here, and if I had any business acumen I wouldn’t have driven six miles yesterday to save $1 on a box of Fruity Pebbles.)

The show isn’t comedy, but it is science fiction. It’s the Mercury Theatre’s adaptation of H.G. Wells’s The War of the Worlds, first broadcast on CBS Radio October 30, 1938, produced/directed by and starring Orson Welles. You can stream or download the entire hour-long broadcast after the jump, though you’re obligated to read through my explanation of why you should think it’s great. 1I should mention that the reason I’ve decided that it’s okay for me to distribute this recording is that the question of who, if anyone, owns the copyright to old broadcasts like this one is very unsettled. That’s partly because at this point nobody really gives a shit. And while the estate of the show’s writer Howard Koch unquestionably holds the rights to the script, those don’t extend to the actual broadcast. Lots of folks with no claim to the material at all make money by selling CDs and MP3s of the broadcast, so I figure I can give it to the world for free.

Listen to the show…

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1. I should mention that the reason I’ve decided that it’s okay for me to distribute this recording is that the question of who, if anyone, owns the copyright to old broadcasts like this one is very unsettled. That’s partly because at this point nobody really gives a shit. And while the estate of the show’s writer Howard Koch unquestionably holds the rights to the script, those don’t extend to the actual broadcast. Lots of folks with no claim to the material at all make money by selling CDs and MP3s of the broadcast, so I figure I can give it to the world for free.
“All Sound and Comedy”
Special Relativity - A Radio Comedy Starring Alex Borstein

I’ve been strangely quiet on these pages about  since it premiered, especially considering that for months I wouldn’t shut up about it. I guess now that it’s out in the world I’ve been too busy being terrified about it — not terrified that people will hate it, but terrified that its existence won’t even register in people’s brains long enough for them to hate it. Because I know that if people take 24 minutes to listen to the first episode, they can’t possibly hate it. I will now tell you how I know.

See, the great irony of being a scriptwriter is that, if you’re lucky enough for your idea to actually become a finished show, it’s almost always kind of disappointing. That’s because the final product can never live up to what you envisioned as you created it. But in my almost 20-year career, the first episode of Special Relativity is the only project I’ve worked on — in radio, TV, games, theater, anything — that came out better than I imagined. It’s better than what I’d been hearing in my head for years.

For that I have to give the credit to the cast, whose performances are so good that I would’ve had to willfully sabotaged the editing to make a bad show. I’m listing their names again here, because every one of them is pitch-perfect: Alex Borstein, Dee Bradley Baker, James Urbaniak, Ted Travelstead, Alyssa Potter, Andréa Moser, and Tom X. Chao. I want people to hear the show because it’s a felony to let those performances go to waste.

There’s a moment in the final scene which I won’t spoil but which when you hear you’ll feel a click in your brain, just like I did. That click comes from Alex Borstein’s effortless performance, suddenly not able to efface itself anymore, reaching over and closing that circuit in your consciousness that only electrifies when you’ve just experienced a tour de force. Don’t you want to hear that?

Well, I guess I like the show, because I just typed four paragraphs when I’d only intended to write a three-sentence set-up for a link to its review in the Los Angeles Times. Remarkably, the paper’s TV critic Robert Lloyd selected Special Relativity as a TV pick last week, despite it not being on TV or even having any pictures. He calls it “all sound and comedy… filled with evocative scenes and memorable characters, and of course praises its “crackerjack cast.” “Please, may I have some more?” he asks. I sure hope so.

South Africa Officially Says Its Best Show is the One I Write Jokes For

Huge congratulations to Puppet Nation on its near sweep of the TV comedy categories at the 2015 South African Film and Television Awards yesterday. The political satire with puppets — for which I’ve contributed American segments since 2013, like this one and this one — raked in a huge seven awards from 10 nominations, meaning that right now seven evil extraterrestrial tyrants are embarrassingly trying to menace Flash Gordon with tipless scepters. Among the show’s wins were awards for directing, design, and the biggie: Best TV Comedy. Sadly the small minority of losses included the writing award. I take full responsibility for that. It’s because I insisted on having Vladimir Putin say “leathery ass cheeks:”

I Read Uber’s New Magazine for Drivers So You Don’t Have To

Momentum - The Magazine for Uber PartnersAmerica’s leading pleonexia concern, the evil Objectivist “ride-sharing” service Uber, has issued a glossy, full-color fuck you to its drivers in the form of Momentum, “The Magazine for Uber Partners.” This sub-airline-grade magazine comprises a tight 15 pages, not coincidentally the perfect size for Uber’s exploited non-employees to roll and shove right up their asses.

Uber — whose myriad inequities I’ve chronicled, and whose services you should never, ever engage, even if you’re stuck rideless in the middle of a blizzard today, especially if you’re stuck rideless in the middle of a blizzard today, because the company’s “surge pricing” policy will wrap you in the welcoming warming comfort of a $450 bill for a three-mile ride — has demonstrated its utterly backwards priorities in this latest suck-up to the “driver partners” it abuses.

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I’m Unemployed, But I Still Pay the Artists Who Work With Me. Why Can’t This Hollywood Mogul?
photo by https://www.flickr.com/people/vagueonthehow/ target="_blank">vagueontheshow

photo © vagueonthehow

The Internet it buzzes this morning about a “bootleg James Bond” video by producer Adi Shankar, creator of other “fan” videos based on copyright properties, including a Power Rangers homage/parody/rip-off that’s garnered 18 million play-presses. The premise for “James Bond: In Service of Nothing” actually sounds fascinating for a committed pan-media Bond-liker such as me: 1I do, after all, even have a 007 tag on my blog. a retired 007 struggles to figure out how to live when he no longer has to kill. I don’t know if the short lives up to the premise, though, because it’s already been yoinked from YouTube due to a (valid) copyright complaint from MGM.

But that doesn’t matter, because I’m less interested in Adi Shankar’s movie than I am in something he said to Deadline Hollywood while promoting it:

[Shankar] said it was done mainly with all volunteer work, favors and an animation collective. He said the costs were minimal. “When people are passionate about something, they just want to do it,” he told Deadline. “These are the same models that these digital artists are doing. They are doing things for the collective good.”

Adi not only didn’t pay the artists who worked on his movie, he also thinks asking people to work for free for his betterment is a legitimate business model.

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1. I do, after all, even have a 007 tag on my blog.