During his 10-year stint on "MADtv" (the longest in the show’s history, for the record), Michael McDonald played colorful characters ranging from Stuart, an incorrigible little boy with a bowl cut and heavily-rouged cheeks, to the self-explanatory Depressed Persian Tow Truck Driver. These days McDonald is gaining recognition for his talent behind the camera, as well. In addition to writing, directing and producing “Cougar Town” for several seasons, he’s directed episodes of “2 Broke Girls” and ABC’s new sitcoms “Family Tools” and “How To Live with Your Parents for the Rest of Your Life.” Later this year, he will co-star in “The Heat” with Sandra Bullock and Melissa McCarthy. And now, he’s touring the country doing stand-up comedy, or as he refers to it, his “summer job.”
Kerry Speckman: With your success as an actor, director, producer and writer, what would possess you to try your hand at stand-up?
Michael McDonald: You have total creative freedom. You can say any word or talk about any subject. There’s no network or studio or producer telling you what you can do or say. The only people who matter are the audience. If you make them laugh, then you did it. If a joke doesn’t work, you can change it right away. The immediacy and creativity — it’s really intoxicating.
K.S.: You’ve been doing stand-up for less than five years. Is treading into uncharted territory something new for you?
M.M.: [Before getting into acting,] I worked as a loan officer at bank. I majored in business and had no interest in show business. Then, I went to a Groundlings [improv/sketch] show and thought, “Oh, I’d much rather be doing this.” After that, I worked as a waiter and, on several occasions, had to wait on people who I had turned down for loans. It’s not like I yelled at them and said, “Ha ha! …
So you're Alvin Brown, mayor of a city that's continually recognized for producing one of the best jazz festivals in the country. And your list of past headliners reads like a who's who of the genre: Dizzy Gillespie, Tony Bennett, Buddy Guy, Herbie Hancock, Diane Schuur, Wynton and Branford Marsalis, Rosemary Clooney, Chuck Mangione, Miles Davis, Al Jarreau, Diana Krall.
Of course, you want to take the Jacksonville Jazz Festival to the next level, but your loyal constituents tell you it's simply not possible and beg you not to try. Except that you are Alvin "Next Level" Brown: Do they just expect you to throw up your jazz hands and give up or, in the alternative, throw in the tight-weave, cotton cloth towel that one might use to clean a trumpet and say "I quit"?
Of course not! If you're the Alvin Brown we know, you're going to find a way to take the Jazz Festival to another level, maybe not a higher level, but certainly a different level.
Hence, the debut of the JFF "Off Jazz" Concert. The event, which kicks off Jazz Festival weekend, features performances by multiple Grammy Award-nominated R&B and soul artist Brian McKnight and R&B singer Avant. (Seriously, why would Mayor Brown kick off a jazz event with something as predictable as jazz music?)
And if that doesn't take the the Jazz Fest to a whole other level, why not bring in a contemporary swing band like Big Bad Voodoo Daddy to headline Saturday night's show? (Really? How much jazz can a person stand listening to in a weekend? People should be thanking Mayor Brown for the break.)
All kidding aside, this game of musical chairs isn't something that Brown dreamed up himself. Festival organizers have been sneaking decidedly non-jazz acts, like Patti LaBelle, Ledisi, the Neville Brothers, Patti Austin and Roberta Flack, into the line-up for years. The only difference is Brown is the first one to actually refer to a performance as being …
Nothing personal, Miley Cyrus, but I really don't pay much attention to anything you do. I, unlike, your 11.5 million Twitter followers, couldn't give a flip about your boyfriend/fiance/ex or your new haircut. (I do confess that "Party in the U.S.A." was guilty pleasure for about a minute.)
But something happened 48 hours ago that has made me a fan for life, Miley: You posted a video of yourself dancing to "WOP" on your Facebook page.
"WOP," for those of you who don't know, is a hip-hop song written, performed and produced by J. Dash. J. Dash, for those of you who don't know, is a Stereofame recording artist/musical genius ("future Grammy winner," as I like to refer to him) who lives in Jacksonville — and was foolish enough to give me his phone number a long time ago.
The video, shot in black and white on a friend's iPhone, shows Cyrus, face obscured (until the final reveal), wearing a unicorn onesie wopping, twerking and moving her booty in ways I didn't know the kid had in her. Since posting it on her Facebook page March 20, the video has been shared more than 20,000 times and viewed almost 150,000 times on YouTube. It's been featured everywhere from MTV.com to the Today Show to the Daily Mail. Ryan Seacrest wrote about it on his blog. LeBron James and Pharrell tweeted about it.
And I, for one, couldn't be happier about it … even if it means J. never takes another call from me again.
Pro football player Leon Washington has come a long way from growing up on the rough streets of Jacksonville's Eastside to playing in the NFL, where he's been named to the Pro Bowl and All-Pro teams (two times and three times, respectively) and shares the NFL record for most kickoff return touchdowns (eight, tied with Josh Cribbs).
Now, Washington, who plays for the New England Patriots as a running back/return specialist, is hoping to do the same for other kids in his hometown with the creation of the Leon Washington Foundation, a grassroots organization designed to enlighten, inspire and educate Jacksonville youth and their parents, since, as Washington says, "It all starts at home."
"I had a pretty rough childhood … five brothers and sisters … on welfare. It was hard trying to get by," he recalls. Washington's salvation came in the form of Coach Mike, a police officer who recognized his raw talent playing football in the neighborhood and took him to a Pop Warner game — and Marc Simon, a friend he met at age 10, who gave him a glimpse into a better life, the kind where people live on golf courses and have swimming pools in their backyards. Having someone believe in him and being introduced to a life that he could aspire to are experiences that Washington wants to share with local kids.
Washington hosts "Poker Face" Casino Night, the official launch party for the Leon Washington Foundation 7-11 p.m. June 28 at WJCT. General admission tickets are $25; VIP tickets are $75 and include complimentary drinks, player meet and greet, and guaranteed play on gaming tables with celebrities.
Confirmed celebrities include Tony Carter, corner back, Denver Broncos; Larry Fitzgerald, wide receiver, Arizona Cardinals, Darrelle Revis, corner back, Tampa Bay Buccaneers; Michael Robinson, full back, Seattle Seahawks; and Leon Washington, running back, New England Patriots.
The Players Championship officially begins May 9, but with nearly 150 players in the field, it’s tough to choose who to follow. While I have every intention of following my boyfriend Adam Scott, it is possible that he might not play (or, more likely, I'm not allowed within 300 yards of him).
That said, I consulted a true expert on the subject, Marc Fagan, founder and president of Edwin Watts Golf Academy, for his advice on who to follow — which he claims should have nothing to do with their looks.
If you want to follow the most likely to win …
Fagan says the Pete Dye-designed course really benefits players with good short games, especially putting. That said, he expects Ian Poulter, Billy Horschel, Luke Donald and Tiger Woods to fare well. (Note: Fagan may think looks are irrelevant, but I would like to point out both Horschel and Donald are on my cutest players list too.)
If you want to be amazed …
Seeing Bubba Watson crush the ball in person is even more incredible than on TV, Fagan says. And, of course, practically everything Woods does is amazing.
If you want personal interaction …
Sergio Garcia, Rickie Fowler and Angel Cabrera are friendly with the gallery, and Phil Mickelson is especially chatty with fans.
If you want to learn something …
According to Fagan, Woods, Scott and Justin Rose have the best swings on the tour. That said, avert your eyes whenever Jim Furyk tees off.
If you want to support the dark horse …
Fagan says, “Watch out for Boo Weekley.”
If you’re not afraid of being trampled …
Woods or Watson.
It’s August, but I don’t need a calendar to know this.
I can tell simply by the number of complaints I hear—every single day—about the humidity. Oh, and the fact that I, too, live in Jacksonville and know what it’s like to leak sweat out of every pore of my body within five seconds of walking outside.
We all know that there are downsides to humidity: increased allergens, potential for dehydration and difficulties for individuals with asthma, not to mention the dreaded hair frizz, boob sweat and make-up sliding off one’s face. But guess what? There are actual benefits (health and otherwise) that come with humidity too:
1. Reduced susceptibility to colds and respiratory illness
2. Fewer flare-ups of eczema or other skin conditions because of body moisture
3. Protection for hardwood floors, carpet and woodworking
4. Healthier joints and muscles
5. Less static electricity
6. Reduced bacteria and germs indoors
7. Increased efficiency for runners
If those aren't enough reasons for you to quit your whining about the humidity, you can always move to Alaska or Iceland and to contend with up to 23 hours of daylight in the summer months.
Or you could head down under to enjoy a friendly mouse plague.
Oh, and one more thing, August isn't even the hottest month of the year in Jacksonville. July is.
In case you missed my ramblings on First Coast Connect this morning (or you’re still busy counting your pennies to buy the new Jags jersey), here’s what’s coming up this week — and beyond — Around Town:
Jaguars Draft Day Party
EverBank Field, 6 p.m.
Guts & Glory: An Evening With Anthony Bourdain
Times-Union Center, 7:30 PM
Citywide Pet Adoption Event
Jacksonville Humane Society and Animal Care & Protective Services
Tea and Sympathy
Jacksonville Backyard BBQ Championship
EverBank Field, noon-5 p.m.
River City Challenge
Friendship Fountain, 10 a.m.-7 p.m.
RAP Spring Tour of Homes
Riverside/Avondale Historic District
Welcome to Rockville
Metropolitan Park, 11 a.m.-11 p.m.
With my football knowledge limited to recognizing little more than a touchdown is worth six points and Tim Tebow looks better with his shirt off, I'm certainly not qualified to say whether or not the Jaguars new uniforms will help them play better. And considering my closet is filled with Oscar the Grouch T-shirts and Old Navy flip-flops, I really don't have any business offering my opinion on how the uniforms look either.
But here are my observations anyway about today's unveiling of the 2013 uniforms.
1. The uniforms are black. Again. But this year, the jerseys use a pointy font!
2. Apparently, the designers are fans of Bob Mackie as the uniforms also feature "over-the-shoulder details" and "embellishments down the leg."
3. That said, I have to give credit to Nike Creative Director Todd Van Horne for keeping a straight face while describing the uniforms, especially when using phrases such as "claw-inspired" and "speed stripe." He also described the helmet as the "crown jewel" of the new look without so much as cracking a smile.
4. Clearly the new gloves were designed specifically for Blaine Gabbert. Putting the Jags logo on the palms is a much more subtle way of helping him find a receiver than "Throw the ball here, Blaine!" with a big fat bullseye.
5. According to the new logo identity, we are now the "Jags," which is actually a good thing since half of the people who live here can't pronounce "jaguars" anyway.
6. When asked about his thoughts on the new uniform, Justin Blackmon referred to the new logo identity placed over the heart in homage to the fans: "...the patch right there on the right, over the heart." Uh, Justin, your heart is on your left, not your right, unless, of course, you meant stage right.
But don't let my thoughts influence you. Check out the the entire press conference and photos for yourself (or just forward to 4:42 to hear Blackmon prove …
At some point during your residency in Northeast Florida, you've probably marveled at works by famous and upcoming artists at the Museum of Contemporary Art or oohed and aahed at dinosaur exhibits and planetarium shows at the Museum of Science and History. But have you come face to face with a 2,400-year old rug made out of cat hair — that is cursed? Or learned how to properly load gun powder into a Civil War-era musket?
Didn't think so. Which is why I sought out some lesser-known museums in the area that may prove to be just as educational—and entertaining—to you and your family. And some even have gift shops!
Amelia Island Museum of History, Fernandina Beach
Mission: "To bring alive and preserve the area's rich history, from Timucua Native American tribe to Spanish and French explorers, from the lawless spirit of pirates to the dignified air of Victorian-era residents..."
Permanent exhibits: Civil War and the Florida Railroad, Spanish missions of La Florida, Timucuan Village
What you might learn: David Levy Yulee, an Amelia Island lawyer, was Florida's first U.S. senator and the country's first Jewish senator
Beaches Museum and History Park, Jacksonville Beach
Mission: "Dedicated solely to preserving the history and heritage of Florida's First Coast beach communities including Mayport, Atlantic, Neptune, Jacksonville and Ponte Vedra beaches and historic Palm Coast"
Permanent exhibits: a 28-ton 1911 steam locomotive, the Heritage Garden and extensive photo archives
What you might learn: Some historians believe the first permanent, year-round Native American settlement in North America was located in the area now known as Atlantic Beach in 3570 BCE
Florida Agriculture Museum, Palm Coast
Mission: "Preserving Florida's agricultural past and [encouraging] conservation of heritage livestock including rare Florida Cracker cattle and horses"
Permanent exhibits: original …
For a month, Public Defender Fourth Judicial Circuit Matt Shirk's name has been in the local press almost as many times as Miley Cyrus' (coincidentally, both earned their headlines for making asses of themselves). An investigation conducted by The Florida Times-Union uncovered allegations of questionable hiring and firing practices, inappropriate email exchanges with female employees and the consumption of alcohol in his office, not to mention “Showergate" and "Badge-gate," all of which are currently under investigation by a special prosecutor appointed by Gov. Rick Scott.
But personal and career implications aside, Shirk may have financial woes to contend with were he to lose (or resign from) his position. According to a jacksonville.com database using information provided to the Florida Commission on Ethics, Shirk’s net worth is the fourth lowest of the 184 public officials, including judges, city council members, sheriffs and school board members from Baker, Clay, Duval, Nassau, Putnam and St. Johns counties.
Here are some of the more interesting financial tidbits I found while spending way too much time searching for familiar names...
Public officials with the lowest net worth
Jesse Davis, Baker County School Board: ($700,000)
Terry Wright, Putnam County School Board: ($63,768)
*Charles Van Zant, Clay County School Board: ($11,480)
Matt Shirk, Public Defender Fourth Circuit: $13,676
*Mark Miner, St. Johns County Commissioner: $14,381
Public officials with the highest net worth
*W.C. Gentry, Duval County School Board: $32,194,174
Lori Boyer, Jacksonville City Council, $8,837,916
Fred Lee, Duval County School Board: $7,435,254
John Thrasher, Florida Senate: $6,820,548
John "Jay" Morris St. Johns County Commissioner $4,739,754
48 officials of the 184 in the database are worth more than $1 …