Melissa brings the case against her boyfriend, Henry. She's been looking for a way for Henry and her friends to bond, and thinks she's found the solution -- teaming up for a charity mud race. But Henry wants to opt out of the race, citing a forced atmosphere of fun and camaraderie. Must he join Melissa and her friends? Only one man can decide.
Special thanks to Philip Schaefer and Glen K. Amo for this week's title!
Sports! Paul brings the case against his friend Jeremy. Paul loves to wear his favorite baseball team's gear to games, even when that team isn't playing the game. Jeremy says that this practice is in bad taste. Who's right?
Special thanks to listener Ranjit Bhatnagar, Jason Richards and Jesse Lansner who all sent in the suggestion for this week's title!
We're delighted to have blogger, book critic, and LA Times writer Carolyn Kellogg with us to give this week's pop culture picks. Her first suggestion is Ken Ilgunas's Walden on Wheels, a memoir about a three-year cross-country journey that he took to pay off his student loans. If you're looking for something from the world of fiction, Kellogg says to check out Kate Atkinson's Life After Life, a darkly funny novel about an early 20th century girl that Atkinson repeatedly (and gleefully) kills off over the course of the novel.
It seems strange now, but when Huey Lewis and The News released their first record in 1979, music executives weren't expecting them to become a huge success. With bombastic hair bands on one end of the rock spectrum and sneering punk rockers on the other, there didn't seem to be much of a place for Lewis and company's fun, bluesy pub-rock. But thumbing their noses at industry naysayers turned out to be the right move for Huey Lewis and The News. Case in point: 1983's Sports, their first record to hit number one on the Billboard charts.
Thirty years later, the band's commemorating the thirty-year anniversary of that album with an expanded re-issue of Sports, featuring remastered tracks and live versions of songs like "The Heart of Rock & Roll" and "I Want a New Drug". Huey Lewis sat down with Jesse to talk about the album that brought them to stardom, as well as his experiences writing songs for Back to the Future and Pineapple Express, how to stow away on an airplane to Europe (well, it worked in the seventies), and how a trip to Morocco convinced him that a career in music was possible.
Huey Lewis and The News' 30th Anniversary Edition of Sports will be released on May 14. For more information about the band and their US tour, you can check out their website.
(And as a bonus for our podcast listeners: want to hear about how Huey Lewis met Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, and just about every other super-famous singer…all in one night? Then be sure to check out our extended interview with him on our SoundCloud page, where he talks about recording the eighties anthem "We Are The World".)
Remember the seventies, before phones got smart? It was a simpler time. There were no apps, no texts, and jailbreaking was something you could only do in a prison. But there was still plenty of trouble to get into using a phone.
As Phil Lapsley explains in his new book, Exploding The Phone: The Untold Story of the Teenagers and Outlaws who Hacked Ma Bell, the early seventies marked the beginning of phone phreaking. Phreaking involved tricking the systems that controlled phone lines by re-creating frequencies that phones used to communicate with one another. Just by using a tone-generating device called a blue box, a phone phreaker could fool phone networks into connecting them to long-distance calls – calls that usually cost hundreds of dollars – for free. But it didn't take long for phone companies to take notice.
In this interview, Lapsley explains that phone phreaking changed the world as we know it. He talks about why phone companies were initially hesitant to prosecute phreakers, why enthusiasts involved with phreaking despite having no one in particular to call, and why Steve Jobs once said that there'd be no Apple without phone phreaking.
Exploding the Phone is available now. And if you pick up a copy of the book, keep an eye out for phone numbers in the text... They could lead you to some interesting places.
There's a pretty simple formula to Antiques Roadshow: someone comes in with a knickknack and has it assessed by an expert. Next comes everyone's favorite part: the big reveal, where they find out what their item is really worth. That's part's pretty great, Jesse says – but there's something about Antiques Roadshow that he loves even more.
YOUR ATTENTION, PLEASE: This episode includes references to and discussion of smoking and drug use, which you may not find suitable for children.
This week: a case of Cigarettiquette.
Robert brings the case against his good friend Bradley. Bradley, in an attempt to quit smoking, has substituted electronic cigarettes for the use of real, tobacco-filled cigarettes. He'll "smoke" the e-cigarettes wherever they're technically allowed. Robert worries about the appearance of the "smoke" and thinks Bradley should show more discretion when e-smoking in public places, whether they're hanging out at a sporting event or a concert. Who is right, and who is wrong? Only one man can decide.
Here's a clip from next week's Bullseye (or more accurately a clip that was cut from next week's Bullseye but that we couldn't bear to leave on the cutting room floor).
It seems that comedian Chris Gethard genuinely believes that he could potentially win the UFC Welterweight crown. And that it would be worth fighting the current champion, a terrifying man named George St. Pierre, just in case he's right.
Do yourself a favor. The moment you grab a copy of the new The Ecstasy of Defeat: Sports Reporting at Its Finest by the Editors of the Onion – a collection of the best articles Onion Sports has to offer – flip immediately to the Forward, and then the Acknowledgements.
You’ll have plenty of time for fantastic Onion Sports pieces like “Brett Favre Demands Trade to 1996 Packers,” and “Barry Bonds Took Steroids, Reports Everyone Who Has Ever Watched Baseball” – just make sure you stretch out first with the Forward by Anabolic Steroids. Follow the exhilarating journey of this little performance-enhancer as it conquers the World Series, horse races and little league championships. “They say my time has come and gone, a brief violent explosion of human potential and shattered records, of strained connective tissue and ever-thicker necks, of towering home runs and unstoppable defense linemen,” explains Steroids. “Not a bad career for a simple synthetic hormone with relatively humble aspirations.”
The Ecstasy of Defeat is the first book presented by Onion Sports – and it has been a long time coming explains head writer and associate editor, Seth Reiss. “We’ve been working hard at it for a while,” Reiss says. “And it’s kind of cool to see the content that the editors like – and want to put in – all in one package.”
Reiss actually got his start at The Onion as a writer for Onion Sports. Now, aside from editing riffs on current events, Reiss contributes to McSweeney's, and performs in his sketch comedy group Pangea 3000. (FYI, Pangea 3000 are Sound of Young America alums and Reiss is a loyal donor). As far as The Ecstasy of Defeat goes, Reiss has few qualms about kicking the pedestal out from under major sports figures. “They’re so larger than life that it’s already so silly anyway, so its kind of funny to just bring them down a little bit,” Reiss says. “Even if a sports figure is known for being really nice, it’s funny to make him do really awful things.”
Reiss says he is a sports fan, “[b]ut I feel like my in-depth knowledge ends at about 1998.” Reiss grew up in Connellsville, Pennsylvania – a sports heavy environment just 45 minutes south of Pittsburgh – where football, hockey and high school wrestling were all huge. When asked if he was ever an athlete, Reiss answers, “I played basketball in 9th grade, and I played golf throughout high school, but overall no,” he says with a laugh.
Speaking of back home – Reiss contemplates what Ecstasy of Defeat story his mom might like best, or rather, what he might show off to convince mom her son is a funny human being. Reiss settles on “Kobe Bryant Scores 25 In Holy Shit We Elected A Black President” and maybe “Mr. Met Having Trouble Sleeping in New Home.” With Dad? “It’s even worse – he thinks I’m less funny than my mom,” Reiss says. “Anything that has to do with Pittsburgh or the Steelers he’ll probably like.” Reiss decides upon “Michael Vick Fails To Inspire Team With ‘Great’ Dogfighting Story.”
The sports world is always a whirring beehive of events and scandals, and now Ecstasy of Defeat has been added to the mix. “People are so passionate about their teams and their favorite players that it really is always a good time for sports,” Reiss says. “Because to some people sports is one of the most important things in the world.”
This review and interview was created by intrepid MaxFun reporter Lauren Cusimano.
Jesse recently visited Sklarbro Country (the podcast of Jason and Randy Sklar) to deliver a very funny fantasy report that does not discuss any aspect of the upcoming NFL season. You can find the episode, "Twitter King Me", here.
Hey, Friends of Tom, listen up! Tom Scharpling (former writer for Monk and host of The Best Show on WFMU) is working with a team of terrific journalists (including Bethlehem Shoals [founder of FreeDarko] and Lang Whitaker [editor at SLAM magazine]) to create an "Awl-like" website about sports called "The Classical."
The project promises to be smart, funny, creative, passionate and refreshingly independent. But like any independent creative start-up, they need help to get up and running. Please hit their Kickstarter page and help influence the future direction of sports coverage on the web!
This week I visited one of my favorite podcasts, Sklarbro Country. It was my second appearance as the Sklars' Fantasy Analyst. Since the major sports networks have pretty much cornered the market on fantasy baseball, football and basketball analysis, we venture a little further afield. This time around, it was fantasy antiques.