Brian Williams Interviews Marcel the Shell on National TV!!

Brian Williams Interviews Marcel the Shell on National TV!!

Jenny Slate‘s post-Saturday Night Live success with Marcel the Shell with Shoes On is an uplifting tale of picking yourself up after what some would consider a big defeat (being booted from SNL after one season) and creating something even more awesome. Jenny and her fiancee, Dean Fleischer-Camp, created a viral video about a shell with shoes and a lentil hat that currently has 14 million views and is now an Amazon best-selling book. When interviewed by Brian Williams for his new NBC show, The Rock, Williams can’t help but melt in the face of little Marcel.

Brian Williams Interviews Marcel the Shell on National TV!!

Shell Game: A Frank Discussion on Gender with Marcel’s “Parents”

Marcel The Shell With Shoes On, Two

Marcel The Shell With Shoes On, Two is a delightful four-minute animated short film about a teensy-tiny cute little shell, directed by Dean Fleischer-Camp and voiced (untreated & unenhanced) by genius former SNL-actress and comedian Jenny Slate. Everyday life can be very, very hard for the tiny little shell. Marcel’s car is a bug with a mind of its own, his only form of public transportation is an under-the-weather caterpillar and small dogs become menacing giants. Marcel The Shell With Shoes On doesn’t let that get him down though. He invites friends over for festive salad feasts, skis on toenails and enjoys reading store receipts “to get a feel for daily life.”

Adorably voiced by Slate, Marcel discusses the reality of being a shell, including sleeping on a piece of bread, wearing hats made from lentils and the dangers of holding balloons. Slate and Fleischer-Camp have turned Marcel into a miniature multimedia tycoon with two videos, an iTunes app, a possible television show and now a children’s book. The book, titled Marcel The Shell With Shoes On: Things About Me, is full of drawings of Marcel around his home, visiting the aquarium (a fishtank), playing with his dog (a piece of lint tied to a strand of hair) and climbing his own Mount Everest (a sandal). Hopefully the famous talking shell has the energy for all this, since Marcel gets winded just walking across his desk.

Ugh, the tiny shell with two feet and one eye is so darn cute. This may very well be one of the most adorable videos ever made. Fantastic.

Marcel The Shell With Shoes On Returns!!

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The Poor in America: Friends and Neighbors in the Heartland

The Poor in America: Friends and Neighbors in the Heartland

For some people, our economy may be turning around, but millions of families are at risk of going hungry, in one of the richest nations on earth.  The poorest people in America are those who are the first to feel the downturn, and will be the last to feel the country’s financial recovery.  The hardworking poor in America’s heartland, with their long and deep traditions in mining, manufacturing and military service, are increasingly seen in food pantry lines, feeling ashamed and angry.  Their stories and images push beyond stereotypes and reveal a hidden America of families living in poverty, which is both surprising and haunting.

Friends and Neighbors: The Recession’s Unseen Victims

Poverty in the Hills of Central Appalachia

A Hidden America: Children of the Appalachian Mountains

Kris Kristofferson: This Old Road

Slide Show: The Poor in America/Friends and Neighbors in the Heartland

(Please Click Image to View Slide Show)

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Dogged Fameball Ego-Blobber Julia Allison Airs on Most Obscure TV Channel Ever!

Dogged Fameball Ego-Blobber Julia Allison Airs on Most Obscure TV Channel Ever!

Gawker reports that the never-ending ego-blobber Julia Allison has just informed them of some amazing, breaking world news: Her videoblog, TMIweekly, has been picked up by NBC’s New York Nonstop. Now, this turns out to be highly appropriate, because New York Nonstop is certainly as close as it gets to the edge of internet obscurity, while still letting one claim to be on television. This makes it quite a suitable perch for the vapid, irrelevant musings of Allison, an inappropriately well-known dating columnist for Time Out New York, and her two cohorts, Silicon Valley heiress Meghan Asha Parikh and vapid handbag designer Mary Rambin. The episodes of TMIweekly, Allison’s videoblog, have featured the goofy trio blathering on and on about totally uninteresting aspects of their lives (just imagine very bad Twittering, only videotaped).

It’s all part of their faux-business called NonSociety. Allison recently reported that NonSociety had taken in revenues of $60,000 during all of 2008. Calculating with an advanced business metric known as earnings before expenses, that would give NonSociety’s three pseudo-socialite Foundresses a living-level that’s just slightly above minimum wage. Now, whatever NBC is paying Allison for her 24×7 filler, it’s certainly too much, as NBC’s own officials seem to realize! Meredith McGinn, Senior Manager of Special Products for NBC4, explained to the New York Daily News: “You’ll get your meat, your news, weather and headlines-every 15 minutes. In between those 15 minutes, you may have a two-minute segment, a two-minute pod, a five-minute pod. So the shows we’re looking at are in little bits, not your traditional half-hour newscasts.”

So the news is the meat, which makes TMIweekly what, exactly? Shredded lettuce? Mayo? Anything, surely, except relish. So rather than force-feed you to watch even one awful episode of Julia Allison’s TMIweekly, here’s Gawker videographer Richard Blakeley’s much funnier parody-spoof, Welcome to NomSociety:

Julia Allison and Cohorts: Welcome To NomSociety

Thanks to Gawker.

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Vernon Baker Hailed: African-American World War II Hero

Vernon Baker Hailed: African-American World War II Hero

On September 11th, 2008, the seventh anniversary of the Sept. 11th terrorist attacks, Wofford College, a small liberal arts college in Spartanburg, South Carolina, paid honor to Vernon Baker. Baker is the only living African-American to have been awarded the World War II Medal of Honor. Describing Vernon Baker as “the greatest hero you or I will ever meet in our lifetime,” Bernie Dunlap’s voice choked with emotion as the Wofford College President spoke about Vernon Baker in front of a standing-room-only crowd last Thursday at Leonard Auditorium in Wofford’s historic Old Main Building.

Dunlap presented Baker, the only living African-American recipient of the Medal of Honor for valor during World War II, with the college’s third annual Sandor Teszler Award for Moral Courage and Service to Humankind to a thunderous standing ovation during Wofford’s opening convocation ceremony. Dunlap and Wofford College Dean David Wood also presented Baker, 89, with an Honorary Doctor of Humanities degree, and Spartanburg’s Mayor William Barnet followed by giving Baker a key to the city. “It is September 11, and we remember that this is a difficult and challenging world,” Barnet told the crowd. “But we will always remember our heroes, whether they admit they’re heroes or not, and today we honor one.”

Dunlap first learned of Baker’s story by watching an NBC documentary about Baker that was broadcast during last Winter’s Olympics and later reading Baker’s autobiography, Lasting Valor. Baker, has “endured decades of some of the worst this country offered to 20th century black America,” Dunlap said. Baker served in the Army as a lieutenant with the 370th Regiment. On April 5th and 6th, 1945, he destroyed four German machine gun nests near Viareggio, Italy, at Castle Aghinolfi, a German mountain strong point on the high ground. He killed nine enemy soldiers with a gun and hand grenades.

For his service, Baker also earned the Purple Heart, a Bronze Star and the Distinguished Service Cross in addition to the Medal of Honor. However, It took 52 years before those heroics were recognized. Baker, because he was an African-American, was not officially honored for his bravery until 1997 when he and six of his comrades finally received the Medal of Honor from then-President Bill Clinton. Of the group honored by Clinton, Vernon has the only honoree still living.

The Sandor Teszler Award, which was also given to Baker, carries with it a $10,000 gift and honors the late Sandor Teszler, a Jewish immigrant who came to the Carolinas after he and his family were nearly killed by the Nazis during World War II. Teszler, for whom Wofford’s college library is named, was a friend of the college and a textile businessman who was one of the first to desegregate textile mills in the Carolinas. Previous recipients of the Teszler Award have been Marian Wright Edelman, Founder and President of the Children’s Defense Fund, in 2006, and Paul Farmer, Founding Director of the international charity organization Partners in Health, last year.

Wofford College Honors WWII Hero Vernon Baker

Interview with Vernon Baker: WWII Medal of Honor Winner

NBC Documentary: Vernon Baker Honored after 52 Years

Wofford College’s Sandor Teszler Award

Wofford College, in Spartanburg (SC), honored Joseph Vernon Baker, the only living African-American recipient of the Medal of Honor for valor during World War II. Wofford presented Baker with The Sandor Teszler Award for Moral Courage and Service to Humankind during the college’s opening convocation ceremonies on September 11, 2008.

The Sandor Teszler Award represents the highest ideals that the Wofford community embraces, and it carries with it a $10,000 award. Sandor Teszler was born in the old Austro-Hungarian empire, and during World War II Teszler, his wife and two sons were taken to a death camp on the Danube River, where the Nazi victims were systematically beaten to death. They were prepared for imminent death, but then they unexpectedly were rescued by an official from the Swiss Embassy. Immigrating to America and coming to the Carolinas, Sandor Teszler became a leader in the textile industry, soon becoming one of the very first to desegregate the textile mills. During the last decade of his life, Teszler graced the Wofford campus, “attending so many classes that the faculty, acknowledging a wisdom and experience greater than their own, honored themselves by making him a professor.”

Historical Notes on Wofford College’s Tribute to Joseph Vernon Baker

Wofford College is one of only a handful of colleges and universities in the United States that were founded prior to the Civil War, which still operates and remains on its original campus. The Wofford campus has been designated a National Historic District, and five of its six original college buildings are still in use today. Wofford has become known in the wider academic world as a true “Phoenix rising from the ashes.” The college was devastated by the loss of almost its entire endowment as a result of the Civil War. However, despite its meager financial resources, Wofford proudly struggled through the next twelve decades to provide an academically challenging education to its small student body. One illustration of the sterling academic quality maintained by the college is the fact that forty-two Wofford College alumni have gone on to serve as college and university presidents.

The commemoration of Joseph Vernon Baker and the courage exemplified in his life carries a special confluence with a certain aspect of Wofford’s own history. Founded in 1854, for over a century Wofford was a small private liberal arts college that was segregated, attracting almost all of its white students from the Old South. In 1962 and 1963, public colleges and universities throughout the region had begun to desegregate, almost always forced to do so at the direction of federal court orders and accompanied by significant resistance and often violence. In the face of strong and heated public sentiments against desegregation, as well as by anticipated bitterness concerning the college’s plans for integration and withdrawal of financial support for the college on the part of some of its alumni, supporters and friends, Wofford’s officers were undaunted and forged ahead, quietly beginning to make plans for desegregation. In the fall semester of 1964, the college opened its doors with an admissions policy that was equally applicable and nondiscriminatory to all students who might wish to apply, regardless of their race or creed. Steadfastly committed to its decision to make a stand for human equality, Wofford thus became one of the very first private colleges in the Old South to peacefully integrate.

Vernon Baker is now 89 years-old and lives in St. Maries, Idaho. Mr. Baker had earned the Medal of Honor 52 years before he and six of his military comrades actually received the award in 1997 from then-President Bill Clinton at a special White House ceremony. Mr. Baker was the only one who was still living to accept the Medal of Honor in person, the military’s highest award for bravery in battle. “They helped America to become more worthy of them and more true to its ideals,” Clinton said at the White House observance.

Vernon Baker, who had served as a lieutenant with the 370th Infantry Regiment, was cited for his “conspicuous gallantry and intrepidity at the risk of his own life” for his actions on April 5 and 6th, 1945, when he destroyed four German machine gun nests near Viareggio, Italy, at Castle Aghinolfi, a critical German high-ground mountain defense post. He killed nine enemy soldiers with a gun and hand grenades. Mr. Baker also was awarded the Purple Heart, a Bronze Star and the Distinguished Service Cross for his heroic actions in Italy.

Lt. Joseph Vernon Baker: An Honor Long Deferred

In the January 14th, 1997 edition of The New York Times, James Bennett wrote a moving article about the White House ceremony, which came a half-century after most of them had died in combat. On January 13th, 1997, seven soldiers finally were awarded the Medals of Honor that they deserved, but which had been denied after World War II because they were African-Americans. Of the seven men, Joseph Vernon Baker was the only one of the decorated soldiers who was still alive.

Their abilities and courageous actions in combat had been routinely derided by white officers. The very soldiers who were finally honored on that day had been forced to fight in segregated units, protecting the very freedoms that they did not fully share.

History has been made whole today,” Mr. Clinton declared, while standing in the East Room of the White House in front of Gilbert Stuart’s full-length portrait of George Washington, ”and our nation is bestowing honor on those who have long deserved it.”

Lt. Vernon Baker: An Honor Long Deferred

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Obama’s Win: A Huge, Decisive Step Toward the Nomination

Senator Barack Obama won a clearly decisive 14-point victory over Hillary Clinton in the North Carolina primary on Tuesday and lost by less than two points to Clinton in the Indiana primary, an outcome that infused a huge boost of momentum to Obama’s candidacy as the Democratic nominating contest entered its final weeks.

The results from those two Democratic presidential primaries, the largest of the remaining Democratic ones, was assured to further widen Obama’s lead in pledged delegates over Hillary, providing him with new ammunition as he seeks to persuade the major Democratic leaders to coalesce around his campaign. He also increased his lead in the popular vote in winning the North Carolina Primary by more than 250,000 votes.

Don’t ever forget that we have a choice in this country,” Mr. Obama said in his address in Raleigh, N.C., that carried the unity themes of a convention speech. “We can choose not to be divided; that we can choose not to be afraid; that we can still choose this moment to finally come together and solve the problems we’ve talked about all those other years in all those other elections.”

Barack Obama’s North Carolina Victory Speech

We now know who the Democratic nominee is going to be,” NBC’s Tim Russert declared on MSNBC last night after Obama had decisively drubbed Clinton in North Carolina, winning there by fourteen points, and ending up within less than two points of her in Indiana. Russert, NBC’s host of Meet the Press, declared that the Democratic presidential nominee is going to be Barack Obama.

The moment came shortly after midnight Eastern time, captured in a devastatingly declarative statement from Tim Russert of NBC News: “We now know who the Democratic nominee’s going to be, and no one’s going to dispute it,” he said on MSNBC. “Those closest to her will give her a hard-headed analysis, and if they lay it all out, they’ll say: ‘What is the rationale? What do we say to the undeclared super delegates tomorrow? Why do we tell them you’re staying in the race?’ And tonight, there’s no good answer for that.”

The impact of Russert’s statements was apparent almost immediately, starting with The Drudge Report, the online news billboard that is the home page to many political reporters in Washington and news producers in New York. It had as its lead story a link to a YouTube clip of Mr. Russert’s comments, accompanied by a photograph of a beaming Mr. Obama with his wife, Michelle, and the headline, “The Nominee.”

NBC’s Tim Russert: “We Now Know: The Democratic Nominee Will be Obama”

Music Audio: Josh Groban/You Raise Me Up:

Obama’s Strong N. C. Win May Now Assure Him the Nomination

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