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The Best Comedy of 2009 Special on The Sound of Young America

The Best Comedy of 2009
Maria Bamford
John Mulaney
Tig Notaro
Patton Oswalt
Greg Behrendt

The Sound of Young America presents our favorite comedy of 2009 in one easy-to-listen-to special.

Maria Bamford from Unwanted Thoughts Syndrome

Greg Behrendt from Greg Behrendt is That Guy from That Thing

Patton Oswalt from My Weakness Is Strong

Tig Notaro - Excerpt from her set at MaxFunCon

Kasper Hauser - Mundo Des Perros

Dana Gould from Dana Gould: Let Me Put My Thoughts In You

John Mulaney from The Top Part

Al Madrigal from Half Breed

Scott Simpson - Shoestore DJ

Paul F. Tompkins from Freak Wharf

Podcast: Kasper Hauser Comedy Podcast Ep. 16: Beekeepers Convention


This week: Disaster strikes at the annual convention of beekeepers.

Please continue to subscribe and review the show! You can also check out KH's videos on YouTube.

Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: Sound Opinions


Sound Opinions [iTunes] [RSS] is like a particularly enjoyable Girl Talk album: you're happy indeed that it exists so prominently, yet unsure sure why the copyright squirrels haven't nibbled it down to nothing. It's so cool that it feels somehow wrong, like a secret that just happens to be carried by a major public radio distributor. And speaking of, it also doesn't come off as particularly public radio-y, or at least not given to public radio's common biases. What gives?

It's also like a show that doesn't exist anymore, some artifact out of a past where passionate, deeply knowledgeable DJs argued about the merits of albums past and current between spins. The hosts certainly bear critical cred: Jim DeRogatis holds the position at the Chicago Sun-Times, Greg Kot at the Chicago Tribune. But they're not the sort of pedants one normally associates with the title "rock critic." Their in-show personas evince only abiding enthusiasm for music, with a touch of desperation at the impossible task of hearing and evaluating the title wave of tracks released on a daily basis.

The pair, who by now have surely tired of reading themselves likened to a pop-rock-R&B Siskel and Ebert, get a lot of information across in each episode in the form of reviews, interviews or news discussion. But their most important message remains implicit: music today is really interesting. Amid rampant whining about the effects of vapid celebrity, failing business models, the decline of western culture and "kids today," it's all too easy for anyone not currently fourteen to settle into a jaded haze of smugness and boredom. Kot and DeRogatis, two guys in their forties, don't just yammer about how inferior every release is to their high school favorites. Whatever comes down the pike, they take seriously.

This includes, say, the new Rihanna disc, with which the boys were pleasantly surprised — and the new Chris Brown, which they, uh, weren't. Even Susan Boyle's schlockfest gets something of the sharp, reasonable Kot-'n-DeRogatis treatment. But the program isn't solely to do with the mainstream-of-the-mainstream; things take an occasional turn for the semi-esoteric or half-forgotten and thus balance out neatly. That said, hardcore music nerds shoundn't expect many deep, intensive dives into the sort of minutia and/or esoterica to which they've grown accustomed. For the rest of us, this works just fine.

But the serious weenies — and your Podthinker intends that term's kindest usage — might well enjoy the themed episodes better, as they explore individual (usually hald-buried) subgenres, interview and host live performances from pretty damn credible rock types like Grizzly Bear [MP3] and The Dodos [MP3], round up the most disappointing releases in recent memory or take annual tours through the strangest, most unreleased Christmas tracks ever.

And the best part? They illustrate this music chat with clips. Actual clips. Long ones, too. Sometimes whole songs. Your Podthinker has come to expect this sort of thing only from the shadier side of podcasting, a realm of surreptitious, fly-by-night productions where iTunes pages are absolutely out of the question and even functional RSS feeds are an iffy proposition. So Sound Opinions is expertly produced, satisfyingly varied, driven with genuine interest, hosted by non-repellent rock experts and prepared to include the music discussed? Hurry up and download while you can — The Man will surely spring forth and shut this thing down in no time. It makes too much sense to live.

Vital stats:
Format: new music discussion
Duration: ~1h
Frequency: weekly
Archive available on iTunes: last ten

[Got a podcast to suggest for Podthoughts coverage or any other sort of question and/or comment for Podthinker Colin Marshall? colinjmarshall at gmail.]

Werner Herzog on The Treatment

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A) Elvis always brings the insight.

B) Werner Herzog is one of the greatest New Sincericists of our time.

C) This interview is the most fun you'll have between now and New Year's.

D) Below: Werner Herzog gets shot by an air rifle.

A Brutal Metal Holiday Special: Rob Halford of Judas Priest and Until The Light Takes Us

Rob Halford
Audrey Ewell
Aaron Aites

Rob Halford is the legendary Metal God, and frontman of seminal heavy metal group Judas Priest. The band's hits include Breaking the Law, You've Got Another Thing Coming and Hell Bent For Leather. His new solo album is a heavy metal holiday celebration called Halford III: Winter Songs.(Halford Transcript)

Plus: Audrey Ewell and Aaron Aites moved to Norway to pursue their interest in that country's black metal scene. They discovered a story of extreme aesthetics, murder and church burning. The film they created, Until The Light Takes Us, follows two of the scene's scions. Gylve Nagell, known as "Fenriz," of the band Darkthrone, is a quiet, contemplative metalhead, deeply invested in the medium's aesthetics and rueful of what the scene has become. Varge Vikernes, known as "Count Grischnak," of the band Burzum is a distinct contrast. He's a charismatic and eloquent advocate of an extreme Norweigan nativist political and religious agenda. He's also a convicted murderer and church arsonist.(Ewell and Aites Transcript)

Celebrate the darkest days of winter with us!

Jump to our transcripts here.

Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: X Minus One


Though you've no doubt guessed as much, your Podthinker spent much of his childhood utterly fixated on old time radio, which Wikipedia defines as "a period of radio programming in the United States lasting from the proliferation of radio broadcasting in the early 1920s until television's replacement of radio as the dominant home entertainment medium in the 1950s." And of all the old time radio that survives, what form could be finer than the venerable radio drama, which hung in there all the way until 1962?

For a kid growing up in the early 90s, though, getting ahold of the stuff wasn't easy. While obviously long absent from the airwaves, it hadn't yet found the glorious freedom of the internet, either. (Pre-MP3 and with a 14.4k modem, one faced down the barrel of an all-day download even if the shows were available on the web, which they weren't.) This meant either scraping together enough allowance to buy sketchy cassettes from collector shops or, more doably, waiting until the next gift-receiving holiday and wishing for OTR by the boxful.

Hence your Podthinker's deep-seated association of the Holiday SeasonTM with shows like Suspense, Captain Midnight, The Great Gildersleeve, Amos & Andy — which, legally, we're probably not allowed to mention — and X Minus One. While most or all of these favorites are now up for the download in a variety of spots across the internet, including the astounding, many are out there as podcasts, and it's the last of that list [iTunes] [RSS] we'll examine this week.

Originally aired from 1955 to 1958 by NBC, X Minus One dramatized prose pieces ripped from the pages of Galaxy Science Fiction and Astounding Science Fiction, magazines featuring breathless prose, vivid cover paintings and stories with titles like "Saucer of Loneliness", "Tunnel Under the World" and "Dr. Grimshaw's Sanatorium". Some episodes kind of phone it in by simply assigning one actor the "narrator" role and the rest the lines of dialogue given their characters in the original text, but others are downright elaborate productions, constructing a detailed sonic environment that, given the technology of the era, must have commanded the skills of every professional wood-block-clapping, metal-sheet-wobbling, short-sleeve-dress-shirt-clad middle-aged foley artist within a five-mile radius.

Some episodes are captivating, some hokey, but hey, both qualities entertain! It's entirely possible to guffaw at X Minus One's more outmoded, 50s-y elements while simultaneously appreciating all that's dramatically and aesthetically interesting about it. (In fact, the experience is arguably uncommonly enriched by that dynamic.) And strikingly unlike commercial radio today, even the ads are fun to listen to through the historical sound-prism, though modern hipsters will doubtlessly be crestfallen to hear that, yes, at one time, their beloved Pabst Blue Ribbon did advertise.

Though meant, shouts its announcer, to deliver us to "a million could be years in a thousand maybe worlds," the series adheres to the old observation about sci-fi: it's not about the future, it's about the present in terms of the future. Of course, since X Minus One's present is our past, its short plays are about the mid-to-late 50s in terms of the future, which, in the mid-to-late 50s, looked a lot different than it does now. [YOGI BERRA QUOTE TO BE INSERTED HERE] Thus these lurid tales of interstellar flight, extraplanetary colonies, video phones, space aliens and robots — or, in the parlance of the time, "robuts" — reflect all manner of anxieties about incomprehensible foreigners, technology's rapid advance, mutually assured destruction and the scourge of abstract modern art.

The show has been converted into podcast form by an outfit called "Humphrey Camardella Productions", who stay mostly out of the way but occasionally toss in spots for their complete box set of old time radio favorites, whose spines, their pitchman claims, line up on your shelf to form one big image, "like a jigsaw puzzle." What's more, he calls this gimmick "the neatest idea imaginable," which is just about the gravest failure of imagination your Podthinker has witnessed. Still, OTR is OTR, and now that it's this convenient to obtain, the next step can only be mainlining it straight into one's veins. Your Podthinker ties off as we speak.

Vital stats:
Format: old-time sci-fi adaptations
Duration: ~20m
Frequency: weekly
Archive available on iTunes: all

[Got a podcast to suggest for Podthoughts coverage or any other sort of question and/or comment for Podthinker Colin Marshall? colinjmarshall at gmail.]

Jordan, Jesse, Go Episode 120: Cardigans with Greg Behrendt

Greg Behrendt

Greg Behrendt joins Jesse and Jordan to talk about cardigans, high school football, the neighborhood association and more.

Nick Kroll as "El Chupacabra" on WTF

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This trumps the heck out of me and Jordan's arguments about El Cucuy and El Piolin. Nick Kroll is amazing.



Thank you so very much, MaxFunster Scott. Thank you so very much.

John Hodgman on Goldman Sachs


John Hodgman explains the function and history of Goldman Sachs for GQ.

"What is Goldman Sachs?

"Goldman Sachs is an investment bank founded in 1869 with the simple goal of providing short-term loans to local businesses and to secretly run the U.S. government."

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