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Mike Royce and Ray Romano of Men of a Certain Age: Interview on The Sound of Young America

From L to R: co-stars Scott Bakula, Ray Romano and Andre Braugher
Mike Royce
Ray Romano

Mike Royce and Ray Romano are the co-creators of TNT comedic drama Men of a Certain Age. The show stars Ray Romano, Andre Braugher and Scott Bakula as three friends grappling with the unsettling realities of middle age. They've worked together previously on the hit sitcom Everybody Loves Raymond, with Ray as the titular character and Mike as writer and eventually executive producer.

They both come from a stand up comedy background, and Mike has also produced Louis CK's HBO series Lucky Louie.

New episodes of the show air this summer on TNT on Wednesdays at 10/9 Central, beginning May 25th.

JESSE THORN: It's The Sound of Young America, I'm Jesse Thorn. My guests on the program are Mike Royce and Ray Romano; they're the co-creators of the somewhat funny TNT drama, Men of a Certain Age. Of course you know Ray Romano as the immensely successful stand up comic and star of Everybody Loves Raymond. Mike Royce was also a stand up comic and writer on that program for many years, among others. He also worked on Lucky Louie on HBO among other shows. Mike, Ray, welcome to The Sound of Young America.

RAY ROMANO: Thank you.

Click here for a full transcript of this interview.

Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: JapanesePod101


Vital stats:
Format: Japanese-learning skits and conversations
Episode duration: 5m-20m
Frequency: every 1-4 days

An interviewer recently asked me what forms of podcast I’ve found make for the most brain-jazzing listening. In the middle of my spiel about how tired I’ve grown of hearing pairs of twentysomething white guys bullshitting about pop culture, I suddenly realized that, sure, I listen to a few choice comedy and culture podcasts each week, but I listen to at least three language-learning podcasts each day. If I’m going to Podthink honestly, I have to reveal these preferences.

All podcasts exist in a lawless, Wild West-y landscape: unable to tell the good from the bad from the ugly at a distance, you’ve got to spend hours and hours getting to know them individually. For podcasts built around cores of Labyrinth jokes, hey, fine, whatever. If they suck — and they usually do — move on. But you theoretically trust language podcasts to accurately and effectively teach you how to communicate with real human beings who live in other places. If their creators slack off, your embarrass yourself — in front of wise foreigners!

I thus urge you not to try learning languages from the ground up by podcasts. You’ll navigate this world infinitely better with bit of grounding, no matter how meager, in the language you want to learn. Common sense says a legitimate academic course or just talking to foreign friend work best for this, but if you don’t like leaving the house, a diversified portfolio of language-learning YouTube videos and sketchily-HTML’ed language-learning sites await you. So if you want to learn, say, Japanese, find a way to get a grasp on the mechanics of the language, even a loose one — then fire up JapanesePod101 [RSS] [iTunes].

Spanish has so many speakers and students across the world that high-quality internet ways to learn it grow like mushrooms. (I previously Podthought about Coffee Break Spanish, though I personally listen to the higher-level Show Time Spanish.) Korean has few enough speakers and students that, when the internet does offer a way to learn it, it turns out pretty solid. Japanese, though; we’re talking thousands upon thousands of aspiring speakers all over the place, yes, but so have made themselves undiscriminating, their minds addled by glue inhaled from Gundam models, their bodies in shambles from weeks on end spent hunched before erotic Naruto fan fiction.

At first sight, JapanesePod101 looks confusing enough that I’d wondered if it would repay the trouble. It seems to have duplicate pages in the iTunes directory, some updated and some not, and the episodes come in a wonky order: after a linear series of “Introduction” shows comes “Beginner Lesson #38”, then “Beginner Lesson #41”, and shortly thereafter comes “Lower Intermediate Lesson #18”, after which you soon find “Intermediate Lesson #75”. When you actually listen, they all sound different. Um, zuh?

Your mileage may vary, but I’ve adopted the strategy of listening to all the episodes in whatever order they arrive: if I listen to an intricate conversational episode way over my head followed by a “Newbie Lesson” telling me how to introduce myself followed by a lesson about mildly complex expressions pitched right at my level, so be it. I’ve realized that JapanesePod101 and podcasts like it serve one purpose above all: to provide an opportunity to hear and attempt to understand a foreign language every day — or just about. No matter what else you do to study and practice, hearing it on the regular is the sine qua non. (From what I hear, you can get more material from this show by some “freemium” means, but I’ve never looked into it.)

Plus, I’ve come to love the anti-dramatics of language-learning programs. Like most of these shows, JapanesePod101 delivers lessons by way of skits and conversations about those skits between affable native Japanese speakers and a range of affable English-speaking hosts including a girl from Australia and an American fellow with an accent of undiscernible origin. Goofier than most, this program comes up with sketches to do with, among other things, animal noises, three-seated bicycles, and boisterious grandpas. And you need to fill your actual-Japanese-hearing experience out beyond that, hey, there’s always Yan-san.

[Podthinker Colin Marshall also happens to host and produce The Marketplace of Ideas [iTunes], a public radio show and podcast dedicated to in-depth cultural conversation. Please hire him for something.]

My Brother, My Brother and Me 56: Wet Hugs

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After recording in the comfort, safety and familiarity of our daddy's house, we've returned once again to our respective Midwestern and Appalachian home bases. It's sort of like that song "Take Me Home, Country Roads" only ... um, in reverse.

Suggested talking points: Kirk Cameron: Envoy to the Stars, GORP, Never Been Embraced, Candybeer, Crushed by a Yeti, Futureballs, Blanketarian, Where's Falcone

Jordan, Jesse, Go! Episode 176: Kappa Kappa Kappa with Drew Droege

Drew Droege

Drew Droege from the Glitter in the Garbage podcast joins us to talk about theater, Jamie Foxx's birthday party and sleeping in the bathtub.

I, Jesse Thorn, am one of the 100 Most Creative People in Business (I guess)


A tip of the cap to the kind people at Fast Company magazine, who have included me on their list of the 100 Most Creative People in Business. I think I disappointed them when I filled out their creativity survey and said that I don’t really think of myself as creative or a businessperson… but they did like that I said when I’m blocked creatively I go to the thrift store. Anyway, I’m proud to be among genuinely great people like Conan O’Brien, Oprah Winfrey and Tina Fey. Oh, and my personal hero, Mr. Ryan Seacrest from Television, USA.

If you want to check out the little piece about me in print, it’s on page 121 of the June issue of Fast Company, which should be hitting newsstands now. Conan’s on the cover (I couldn’t make the photo shoot, so they had to go to their backup plan.)

(Special thanks to Esra Roise, who created the above illustration, and really captured my sparkling eyes and 1 1/2 chins.)

Judge John Hodgman Episode 25: The Girlfriend and the Grasshopper


Jeff says his live-in girlfriend Courtney habitually hides food from him. Courtney admits that she's hidden food in the past, but only to save Jeff from his own ravenous tendencies, and that she has since stopped the practice. Is Courtney a FOOD-HOARDER, or is Jeff a FOOD-STEALER?

You may view the evidence after the jump, and as always, you may subscribe to the podcast in iTunes or through this RSS feed.

MaxFunCon Conference Bags


Every attendee at MaxFunCon gets a conference bag, full of cool stuff.

If you or your business would like to put something in the bag, email We generally don't charge, as most conferences do. Instead, we ask that it be something cool that our attendees would actually like to get.

(So you know: about 225 people attend MaxFunCon.)

WTF: The Public Radio Show!


For about six months now, Sound of Young America editor Nick White and I have been working on a secret project. Now, the secret can be revealed... please welcome WTF with Marc Maron, the public radio series!

We've taken the hundreds of episodes of the WTF podcast and boiled them down to what we think is ten hours of exceptionally compelling radio. We've chosen the best stories and the best guests and made a ten-episode public radio series, produced by Marc, Nick and me.

Thanks to the kind support of Torey Malatia and Ira Glass, our first station commitment came from WBEZ and Chicago Public Media. We've got lots of other stations on tap, but feel free to let your station know it's available on PRX and that you love it. We hope that stations will air it this summer and early fall all over the country. (It was Torey and Ira's insistence, by the way, that led us to keep the name "WTF".)

If you want to hear the show, you can check it out, share it and review it on PRX. Our goal was to capture what makes WTF special and communicate it to folks who aren't comedy nerds - or even necessarily comedy fans. I think they sound wonderful.

Here's the first episode:

And here are the great promos Ira made out of the kindness of his (very kind) heart:

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