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Interview: Henry Owings, Editor and Publisher of Chunklet Magazine.

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Henry Owings is the editor and publisher of the music magazine, Chunklet. He recently released the book, "The Rock Bible: Unholy Scripture For Fans and Bands," which outlines the do and don'ts of being in a rock band. Casey O'Brien talked to Henry about his new book and the sins that rock n' roll has committed.

What spiritual awakening led you to be a prophet of future and current generations of rock musicians? In other words, what called you to write The Rock Bible?

Well, Casey, it happened like this: While editing an issue of Chunklet one beautiful Friday night, I was pulled from my work by the door bell. Because I live in the crime-ridden, redneck-ravaged South, I slipped my unregistered "throw-down" piece - a Smith and Wesson .38 long-barrel revolver with a filed-down serial number - in the back of my belt, pumped a shell into my Winchester 12 Gauge "Snake Popper" (sawed-off for...uh....easy storage), and answered the door. It was our veterinarian, making a house-call to deliver heart worm pills for my two standard poodles. Now, this was odd, as our vet would usually make this stops in the morning. That is, if we even had a vet. He was a middle-aged man in a vet/doctor's coat, which was unbuttoned to reveal a medallion resting at eye-level, as I was still confined to a wheelchair due to violently flipping my Baja Bug just seven days prior to this visit. When I tried to sign the invoice for the pills, the medallion blinded me with a beam of light. That's the last thing I remember before waking up, in front of my computer, my head loaded with the divine assignment of writing The Rock Bible. My, shall we say, "editor", if you will, did not phone this one in...I was missing five hours from the evening. And, it should be noted, this is just the first volume of three books I've been instructed to call "The Final Collection of Rock and Roll Writing." After a glass of water and a sandwich, the book simply poured out of me over the course of a week. Then, as I was listening to the Groundhogs "Solid" album, a voice coming from my computer's speakers instructed me to enlist the talents of Patton Oswalt, Brian Teasley, Andrew Earles, Dag Luther Gooch, and the other individuals in the "contributor's" section. That took a little bit of time.

In verse 71 of The Gospel According to the Band, it states "Never take anything you do seriously." This manifesto fits right in with your magazine, Chunklet. Why is not taking yourself seriously so important in rock music?

Because when rock musicians take themselves too seriously, certain tragedies occur. Not only does The Rock Bible teach the helpless how to avoid taking themselves too seriously, it teaches them how to do so correctly. When musicians attempt but fail at not taking themselves too seriously, you have an entirely different set of tragedies. There's a huge difference between not taking yourself seriously and actually being funny/inspired/clever.

When you say that "certain tragedies occur" when bands take themselves too seriously or don't take themselves seriously incorrectly, what is it that makes it so tragic?

It's very simple, Casey, both of these situations breed one thing: Mediocrity, and mediocrity is a virus that infects rock music to a degree that, if not monitored, could prove terminal. When, for instance, a band ham-fistedly avoids seriousness by adopting an 80's theme (video games, video game music, Hyper Color wear, out of date
technology), they create mediocrity. It is not inspired or clever and must be stopped.

Tenacious D, School of Rock, Guitar Hero, and Rock Band have become popular by parodying classic rock while simultaneously praising it. How does your book fit in with those other entities and what is your opinion of this trend?

It doesn't fit in. The Rock Bible is not a parody; it is a manual for daily living. The examples you've given are nothing more than pedestrian poppycock designed to amuse cigar-chomping dart-tossers that hang out in suburban establishments with names like "The Fox and Hound." The bottom line is this: Those entities despise the source material. The Rock Bible hemorrhages passion for the source material.

What lessons can your followers look forward to in the upcoming volumes of "The Final Collection of Rock and Roll Writing"?

The helpful truth. It will either encourage the break-up of the bands that need to break up, or the improvement of artists that use the teachings wisely. With the content's incendiary nature and book sales in mind, it should come as no surprise that I cannot go into great detail about the two upcoming volumes. Let's just say that fists will rise into the air and tears will fall to the floor.

You can get more Henry Owings at Chunklet magazine or by picking up a copy of The Rock Bible. You can also listen to his interview on The Sound of Young America.

Interview: Mary Van Note, Comedian


An old friend of The Sound of Young America, Mary Van Note, has been on a tear lately. She's landed her own web series, and is touring the nation with her acclaimed (and bizarre) standup comedy. Chris Bowman talked with Mary about the turns her burgeoning career has taken.

You teamed up with this summer to release the web series Gavin Really Wants Me. How did IFC initially discover you?

I had some videos posted on, a sex magazine, which was a perfect fit for my weird and sexually themed videos. and partnered up to put together these top 50 lists like Top 50 Greatest Sex Scenes in Cinema, and the popular Top 50 Comedy Sketches of All Time. I guess when they partnered up, the Nerve people showed the IFC people their video content and BAM! my series and the Nerve series “Young American Bodies” got connected with

Have you always had a raunchy sense of humor? Where did it come from?

No, I haven't. I'm just your average girl who was raised Catholic and has issues about sex. I was pretty obsessed with it for awhile, and by "it" I mean talking about sex, but lately I've been writing about everyday things like roommates and internet dating.

What do you find more rewarding, performing live or producing the online comedy shorts. Why?

That’s pretty hard to say. I love doing both and they’re both so rewarding in different ways. I will always enjoy performing live. The feedback is immediate and there is always the feeling that anything can happen when you perform live. It is such a thrill to make a room laugh. Producing online content is a thrill as well. Probably my favorite aspect of producing and directing online comedy shorts is the ability to collaborate and work with others. That’s something you don’t get with traditional stand-up comedy.

What is the most valuable thing you have learned from collaborating with others?

Being a director was entirely new for me. The most valuable learning experience was simply communication. Communicating as a director working with a cast and crew was challenging and new for me, but became hugely rewarding.

When did you decide you wanted to go beyond the standard set-up/punch line style of comedy and embrace a more challenging performance art style?

I never consciously decided to embrace a certain style. The first time I ever performed I was really nervous and my material was more storytelling than “club comic” jokes. That first set went really, really well and my mentor told me to keep that nervous energy. Since then I’ve developed into a more mainstream form of a who I was when I first started. I’m still weird and quirky, and can perform at the most alt-y of rooms and theaters, but I can also perform at Blank Comedy Club with the best of the road comics and hold my place.

What is coming up next for MVN?

Jan 24—Feb 17, 2009 I’ll be a part of Belles and Whistles: the indie music and comedy tour of ladies making noise from San Francisco. Uni and her Ukelele, Foxtails Brigade and I will be touring the Pacific Northwest hitting cities like Portland, Seattle, Vancouver, Salt Lake City, and more.

2009 will be full of fun and excitement: traveling and performing, recording my debut comedy album, and shooting videos.

Mary's online at or She also hosts the regular San Francisco comedy & performance series Comedy Darling.

Podcast: Jordan, Jesse GO!: Ep. 78: The Big Easy


Jesse and Jordan discuss the great city of New Orleans, the impending election, and are visited by Jesse Thorne, British Sports Reporter.

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Big Train - Wanking


Graham Linehan is the next guest on TSOYA, and I thought I'd post this hilarious sketch from a show he worked on, the late-90s British sketch series Big Train. That this is like the sixth point on his resume is pretty remarkable.

Podcast Coyle & Sharpe Episode 42: Antique Smashing


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 innocently ask an antique dealer if they can smash all of his antiques.

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Podcast: The College Years: Outcasts


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

In this lonely episode of The College Years, Jordan and Jesse are joined by author of Masters of Doom, David Kushner. Also, comedy from and interview with a Emily Plum of Anne Francisco & Her Cable Car Casualties. Also, Jim Real's Would You Rather and Running The Numbers.

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Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: "The Math Factor"


Given the number of them he hears on a weekly basis, your Podthinker is always delighted when a particular podcast is grounded in the geographic location of its recording. What cooler way to convey all the internet has allowed us than to play a variety of podcasts from all over the place, all displaying their own local color? Your podthinker is always delighted when he comes across math-centric podcasts, as well — or at least The Math Factor [iTunes link], the sole math-centric podcast he's ever found and one straight out of Arkansas at that, has done more than its fair share of Podthinker-delighting.

While it stands perfectly well alone as its own mini-program, the podcast is actually a weekly segment of Ozarks at Large, the local news magazine from KUAF. (Note to certain smugger Euro-Max Funsters: for the last time, yes, that part of the United States has electricity.) In it, regular host Kyle Kellams is joined in the studio by mathematician — specifically, geometer — Chaim Goodman-Strauss to work out a math puzzle, interview a math person or just marvel at some neato math concept.

Having picked one of the oldest disciplines in the book, Kellams and Goodman-Strauss are guaranteed never, ever, ever to run out of material. (And if by some quirk of fate they find themselves nearing the barrel's bottom, they could just start discussing infinity — word on the street says there are infinity kinds of infinity.) Some of mathematics' many corners they've already explored together include numbers you can't Google [MP3], math education in America [MP3], mathematical questions that can't be computed [MP3], the ultimate mathematician's toy [MP3] and, of course, Graham's number [MP3]. They've also sat down and chatted with a biographer of M.C. Escher [MP3], a math consultant on TV's Numb3rs MP3] and an actual "mathemagician" (yes, they exist) [MP3]. Truly, these guys come at math from a new angle every week — no pun intended. Sort of.

Unfortunately, many readers who might very much enjoy The Math Factor probably won't make it this far into the review. Why? Because, upon identifying the word "math", their brains immediately flashed back to the crushing tedium of mathematics as taught in, oh, grades one through twelve, roughly, and maybe into college and/or grad school. Alas, generations and generations of kids have grown up to associate math with laboriously ground-through worksheets, desperate flips to the back of the book for the answers and the crib sheets of formulae taped onto the underside of their baseball caps' bills. This is not how it should be, and Kellams and Goodman-Strauss appear to know it. On their show, math is broken down to its most basic, most fun elements: quantities and logic, approached with curiosity. Amazing how many amusing tricks, games and stumpers you can get from those.

(For a more eloquent treatment of the woeful state of schools' approach to math, see Paul Lockhart's "A Mathematician's Lament".)

Vital stats:
Format: math talk
Running since: show since 2004, podcast since October 2005
Duration: 5m-15m
Frequency: weekly
Archive available on iTunes: all since they started podcasting

[Podthinker Colin Marshall would've been a math major, but university bureaucracy got in his way, man. Get him at colinjmarshall at gmail, suggest podcasts for Podthoughts here or submit your own podcast for the next by-Max-Funsters column here.]

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Solo in New York City



Two of TSOYA's top pals have solo shows running in New York, and if you miss them, YOU'RE A FOOL.

Our pal Mike Birbiglia has his first solo stage show, called Sleepwalk with Me, running at the Bleeker Theater. Mike has always been fantastically hilarious as a standup, but this show is also receiving acclaim for its emotional depth. WE VOUCH FOR MIKE. If that's not good enough for you, listen to Mike on TAL and TRY not to laugh uncontrollably. FURTHERMORE: you can get discount tickets with this link.

ADDITIONALLY: our pal Mike Daisey (above) has his new solo performance, If You See Something, Say Something, running at the Public Theater. It's about the resonances of the cold war in contemporary America, and in Mike's own life. If it's like his other work, it's fantastic. The Times certainly seems to have enjoyed it. So have others. Tickets are available here. Mike has generously offered TSOYA fans a big ticket discount -- $35 tix can be had with the code SSMKTG. It is offered with the proviso that tickets are selling out fast and that code might stop working at some point.


Comedy Podcast: Jordan Morris' "Swing State," Simon Rich's "Hey, Look," and Elephant Larry's "El Pollo Loco"


All kinds of comedy on this Sound of Young America podcast.

First, we hear a sketch from our own Jordan Morris. What is it really like to live in a swing state?

Then Simon Rich shares his essay Hey Look, from his new book Free-Range Chickens.

Also: Elephant Larry (above) give us the SPOOKTACULAR "El Pollo Loco."

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If you enjoyed this show, try these:
Comedy by the Numbers
Comedy: Morgan Murphy and Andy Kindler
Comedy: Help Me Help Me

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