The Blog of Young America

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Back-to-Back Home Runs

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Yesterday the Sklar Brothers came by for an interview (to be heard later on TSOYA), and we fell into talking about sports, and specifically, the intersections between sports nerddom and comedy nerddom. I was inspired by their passion, so here's A Baseball Post.

First of all, congratulations to Jacob Mustafa, owner of the Nothing Can Mustafas Now in the Maximum Fun Fantasy Baseball League. You may know Jacob as the editor of TSOYA The College Years. After Rick Paulas' Paulas Poundstones and Paul Reiser's Mojo Reisers spent the season locked in a tight 1-2 battle, the Mustafas triumphed after a shocking last-week ascension. Jacob earns the right to hold the Saint Mary's Park 1992 Trophy (pictured above) for one calendar year, until next year's champion is crowned. He will also, in accordance with Rotisserie Baseball tradition, be doused with Yoo-Hoo brand chocolate drink.

And in further baseball nerd news... if you're looking towards a long fantasy-baseballess winter, here's some good news. Baseball Mogul, the nerdiest and best baseball simulation game available, is now free. Well... last year's version is free. I try not to have the game installed on my computer, because I am inclined to spend ten and twelve hours at a time managing my team, adjusting ticket prices, signing free agents and drafting high schoolers. The good folks at Sports Mogul stop giving away the game at the end of the World Series, so act now.

Podcast: The College Years: The Dee Dee Ordeal

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The College Years is a look deep into the vaults of The Sound of Young America. Take a journey with us sporadically as we post a new program or two from our salad days.

It's showtime, and Dee Dee Ramone is missing. Listen as the guys find hilarious ways to stall (including another visit from the world's most ambitious rock star, the Evil Computer Bent on World Domination) and, ultimately, begin to insult the Ramones' bassist for his failure to keep his appointment as a guest on TSOYA.

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Podcast: George Saunders

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George Saunders' satirical fiction won him a prestigious MacArthur "Genius" grant in 2006. His new book, "The Brain-Dead Megaphone," collects his recent non-fiction writing. I sat down with George for a live stage conversation about his life & work at the Beverly Hills Public Library Auditiorium. This is our first ever interview which includes a metaphor which begins, "If the brain can be said to have a sphincter..."

Don't miss our first interview with George, which you can hear here. Also, stay tuned for more Saunders-iana next week, as we offer some of his works in audio form.

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Our intersititial music is provided by Dan Wally

You might also enjoy these past interview programs:
What's Wrong with This Country (George Saunders & Henry Owings)
Miranda July
Worlds of Wonder (Chris Elliott & Terry Gilliam)

Myths about "30 Rock"

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Since 30 Rock won an Emmy, a lot of urban legends have spread about the show. Here are two of the most egregious:

* "The show started poorly." No, it didn't. It was always funny, you just had an attitude at first, and/or didn't get it. Is it tighter than it was in the first episode? Yeah, sure, like any sitcom. But it was great from the start. You're just covering your ass.

* "The show's success is largely due to Alec Baldwin." Yes, Alec Baldwin is funny. No, he is NOT the only or even main funny thing on the show. He is just the thing that you were already familiar with, Mr. TV Writer. Actually, Tracy Morgan is funnier, and Jack McBrayer is just as funny.

The television press made the same sorts of odd psuedo-attacks on the Office in the early days, which they now seem to regard as the greatest show ever. I think we're lucky to live in a world where these shows are on network television.

That said... I hope they straighten out the Rachel Dratch situation this year. She is one of my favorite comic actresses, but she was awful on the show last year. Not because she did a bad job portraying her various characters, but rather because her broad characterizations broke the tone of the show. She was performing them as written, but she consistently felt shoehorned in to the show's world. Wait... except for the cat wrangler. I liked the cat wrangler.

Anyway, I'm rambling. I shouldn't blog before 9AM.

Update: Todd Jackson has some great thoughts on all this on Dead-Frog.

Lupe Fiasco - Dumb it Down

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Lupe can rap his ass off, right?!

So... what was wrong with this?

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I keep hearing these rumors that David Letterman slammed Paris Hilton, or he wouldn't let go of the jail thing, or whatever. All I see is David Letterman being the greatest television host of our time, one of the funniest people ever, and Paris Hilton being a cypher as per usual. And then a commercial for perfume.

Gimme a break, America.

Below: Letterman and Sarah Silverman talk about it a bit, before continuing to both be talented and funny.

Podthoughts by Ian Brill: "The Signal"

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Since we spent time last week looking at a Doctor Who podcast, where the fandom has over four decades to mull over it, let’s look at a podcast dedicated to a show with far less material to work with but remain just as passionate. The Signal, hosted by Les Howard and Kari Haley, deals with all things pertaining to show Firefly and the film Serenity. The show lasted one season in 2002 but being created by the man behind Buffy the Vampire Slayer, Joss Whedon, it was guaranteed a healthy fan base. They managed to continue the show in 2005 with the film Serenity, although it didn’t too well at the box office (I remember when the film came out and it seemed most Firefly fans saw it in free screenings before the official release). As much as I enjoyed the show and film I finished the entire franchise in a week. What more could this podcast be discussing in late 2007?

Much of Firefly seems to be about expanding the world of these characters, commonly known as The ‘Verse. Role playing games get a lot of attention. I understood about 5% of the terminology the reviewers of these games used but I could tell they were informative and well researched. Fan fiction is another tool for Firefly fans to remain in The ‘Verse. I’m glad to say that the audio dramas featured on The Signal are a lot better than what I heard on Time Tales. The writing, foley work and acting all come together on these pieces and make for fairly entertaining five to ten minute segments. The Sept. 26th episode featured a private eye story that, while maybe a bit Mary Sue-ish, had all the twists and gratuitous sex you want out of a noir story.

The entire show actually sounds very professional in the way different segments are coordinated and introduced. I assume that the hosts had backgrounds in radio work but maybe not as on-air talent. I’ll be honest, Howard and Haley sound like…well, they sound like people who have watched a lot of Joss Whedon shows. They say mildly clever and cutesy things to each other and then sound tremendously satisfied with themselves while saying it. It reminded me of why I found the character of Xander on Buffy so annoying.

Thankfully when Howard and Haley are interviewing someone the affectations are thrown away and an actual conversation starts. The interview with sci-fi writer PJ Haarsma about his work with Nathan Fillion and Kids Need to Read was very enjoyable and illustrated a point about Firefly fans that I was happily surprised by. I expected a lot of moaning and groaning about short-sighted television executives and fickle American audiences. Instead I was glad to hear how many Firefly fans took their passion about a sci-fi series and turned it into real charity work. Many of these groups take it upon themselves to raise money for groups such as the one above or Equality Now. Fandom has made a lot of people shut out the rest of the world. Many Firefly do the opposite and try to make the rest of the world a better place and it’s good to know those groups have a hub like The Signal to make things go easier.

Office Hours are CLOSED

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Office hours are (edit)NOW CLOSED(edit).

You can call me to ask a question or for any other reason. Right now I'm thinking about guests for a show in Chicago and maybe about making tote bags. That's just some ideas about stuff we could talk about.

All you have to do to call is click the button above, and type in your number. Your phone will ring, and as soon as you pick it up, my phone will ring. THAT IS THE MAGIC OF THE INTERNET.

Thanks to all who called in this time around!

"Ain't Life Grand?" - Ricky Jay, the world's most amazing person.

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A poster on Metafilter just declared Ricky Jay "The coolest man alive."

I can't say I'm really in a position to disagree. Above he does some amazing shit with cards. Below, he does some EVEN MORE amazing shit with cards. Did you know he wrote a book called "Cards as Weapons?" HE CAN KILL A MAN WITH A THROWN PLAYING CARD.

This fact weighed heavily on my mind when he was on The Sound of Young America (MP3).

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