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Maximum Fun is your home on the internet for things that are awesome. Our blog will guide you and our family of podcasts will entertain and inform you. About

Jay Smooth on Michael Jackson

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Exceptionally insightful.

TSOYA Classics: Science Fiction (September 22nd, 2006)

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We continue our journey into The Sound of Young America's vast audio archive with this program from The Sound of Young America Classics.

Guests Michael J. Nelson, Ron Moore and Steve Eley. Mike Nelson was the host of Mystery Science Theater 3000, now he makes commentaries for Rifftrax. Ron Moore is co-creator of the SciFi Network series Battlestar Galactica. Steve Eley is editor of the sci-fi podcast Escape Pod.



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Bonus Audio:


Extended Interview with Steve Eley
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Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: "The Indie Travel Podcast"

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Though your Podthinker may be slightly biased on this front, it's easy to imagine the podcast becoming the serious traveler's medium of choice. After all, iPods, Zunes, iRivers and such are only shrinking in size and growing in data capacity; we'll surely be stuffing the entire history of audio entertainment onto sub-matchbook trinkets in a year or two. And even as we speak, all but the most benighted hamlets afford at least some amount of internet coverage, allowing the peripatetic podcast listener to log on just long enough to pull down the newest episodes of everything and be on their merry way to wherever, their ears absorbing valuable spoken and musical information all the while.

Full-time traveler Craig Martin made a similarly enticing point on his own podcast: there's nothing like downloading a few hours of podcast-y material — chat shows, free audio books and the like — and taking it all in while gazing out the window of a train as vista after scenic European vista drifts by. He and his wife Linda have taken the next bold step toward unifying travel and the podcast medium with The Indie Travel Podcast [iTunes link], their program about world traveling by world travelers and for world travelers — or, like your Podthinker, aspiring ones. Weary of stable homes, regular lobs and steady incomes, this New Zealand couple one day decided to spend their lives simply traveling at all times, trekking from country to country by whatever means of transport happens to be available and teaching English along the way to pay the bills. They're living the dream, or at least their dream.

While this particular style of ultra-spontanous perpetual nomadism won't be to everyone's traveling taste — it is not, admittedly, quite to your Podthinker's, who shudders at the thought of carting his DJ gear all the way to, say, Tonga — Craig and Linda cover all sorts of angles on travel, from reports on (and from) specific cities to reviews of gear and guidebooks to strategies for obtaning lodging and transport to conversations, usually Skype-based, with other bigtime travelers. The variety would seem to ensure at least something of interest to all active or aspiring globetrotters every few episodes. Even the span of the most recent fifteen includes an interview about Tokyo with an expat residing there [MP3], a list of fifteen items essential to pack for an around-the-world journey [MP3], a review of Craig and Linda's own hometown of Auckland [MP3] (which is what drew your Podthinker, who's planning a New Zealand trip, to the program in the first place) and a discussion of the pros and cons of the many and varied means of conveyance open to the modern traveler [MP3].

The utilitarian value of The Indie Travel Podcast is, needless to say, quite high, and its mien is more than welcoming: Craig has one of the friendliest, gentlest voices I've heard in podcasting, and the laptop-based production imbues the proceedings with a hardy DIY feel. But it must be said that the show's various forms of sponsorship — giveaways, contests, mentions of and spliced-in segments from travel suppliers — cloud the experience a bit. There's also an eerie cast of unreflectiveness to most of the voices heard on the podcast; while the participants are all respectable travelers, the tales of their journeys hew with shocking loyalty to flat, meaningless adjectives like "good," "great," "awesome," "cool," "mad" and "insane," rarely reaching beyond the surface. Painful as it is to hear Jeff Koons' Puppy described simply "enormous" and "weird," though, the fact remains that Craig and Linda have been to Bilbao to see it. Your Podthinker hasn't.

Vital stats:
Format: all things travel
Running since: 2006
Duration: 10m-45m
Frequency: weekly (depending upon whether Craig and Linda can find a decent net connection)
Archive available on iTunes: last 17 only

[Questions, comments, ideas, suggestions or threats for Podthinker Colin Marshall? colinjmarshall at gmail.]

Elvis Mitchell Interview

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Interview with Elvis Mitchell from Thomas Attila Lewis on Vimeo.

A lovely interview with the great Elvis Mitchell.

Al Madrigal on The Tonight Show

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MaxFunFave Al Madrigal, the Man of 81 Voices destroyed on The Tonight Show last night. Because he's the best! He'll be on TSOYA in a few weeks to talk about his new CD, Half-Breed.

via SF Standup

The Sound of Young America in Mashable

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I'm proud that Mashable has featured TSOYA as an example of how community arts organizations can and should use social media.

Here's what Emily Goligowski wrote:
The culture show The Sound of Young America has gained traction and donations by finding low cost ways to promote “a radio show about things that are awesome” and secured a national syndication deal with Public Radio International in the process. What began with an interview show that Jesse Thorn produced in his college dorm room has grown into a set of MaximumFun.org forums, podcasts recorded at comedy festivals around the country, and a lighthearted blog. The burgeoning content network still maintains Thorn’s personality and authenticity (as evidenced by Tweets (@youngamerican) that were among the most introspective upon Michael Jackson’s death) in ways that many online self-promoters lose in building their brands.

You can read the whole article here for more organizations using social media in cool ways.

A last word on Michael.

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I didn't watch Michael Jackson's funeral on TV, or even try to get tickets to watch it live. I've always loved his music, but I didn't need another spectacle. Mostly, I just feel sad about it.

One thing, though, has made me more angry than sad.

Here in Los Angeles, every politician under the sun has taken the opportunity to complain about the cost of ensuring the safety of folks attending the funeral. By some estimates, it cost a couple million dollars. I'm vexed that these politicians are taking this moment of sadness and trying to twist it into a moment of hostile, hateful political opportunism.

Every year, the Lakers play 40 basketball games that fill the Staples Center. The Kings play another 40 games that do the same. Fans pay to attend these events, and that money does not go to pay for the infrastructure they use, it goes to the private businesspeople who own and operate the teams and the venue.

Every year, there are countless block parties, parades, concerts and protests that draw members of the public. Every one of those events has infrastructure costs: police, emergency services, roads, public transportation.

Cities support public events. Our police department has a budget to pay for ensuring the public safety, whether people are walking to the grocery store, celebrating Pride, going to a sporting event or mourning at a funeral. That is as it should be. This is the most basic function of local government.

Like many localities, Los Angeles is in the midst of a financial crunch, but providing basic services is not a choice, it is what government does.

I heard the police chief, Bill Bratton, on the radio today. He's an eloquent man and a surprisingly straight shooter. He said that if Los Angeles thinks it's a world-class city, it needs to be prepared to support once in a generation events. I couldn't agree more.

Pharrell - Frontin (DJW Remix)

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Sometimes folks ask me about DJW, who does the music for TSOYA (with the exception of the theme song).

He's a great guy, he's from Massachusetts, he set the dance floor off at MaxFunCon... not much else to say. You can check out a few of his remixes on his zebox page.

Above: a fan-made video for DJW's remix of Pharrell's "Frontin'".

Podcast: Coyle & Sharpe Episode 66: Other Than Standard Methods

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Welcome to season two of Coyle & Sharpe: The Imposters! In the early 1960s, James P. Coyle and Mal Sharpe roamed the streets of San Francisco, microphone in hand, roping strangers into bizarre schemes and surreal stunts. These original recordings are from the Sharpe family archive, which is tended by Mal's daughter, Jennifer Sharpe. You can learn more about Coyle & Sharpe on their website or on MySpace. Their recent box set is These 2 Men Are Imposters.

On this episode: Coyle and Sharpe have a way for the Giants to achieve victory.

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