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Podcast: The Hold Steady's Craig Finn and Tad Kubler


The Hold Steady are a Minneapolis-bred, Brooklyn-based rock band. Their grand visions of love, teenage life, and fringe characters offer a Midwestern take on a genre pioneered by Bruce Springsteen. They call themselves a bar band.

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If you enjoyed this show, try these:
Steve Albini
Nick Hornby

Podcast: Coyle & Sharpe Episode 31: People Movers


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: The Imposters approach a moving company employee and try to explain the delicate nature of the cargo that needs moving.

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Podcast: Coyle & Sharpe Episode 32: Human Sugar Bowl


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: The Imposters ask a citizen if he wouldn't mind trying a new place to keep his sugar.

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Podcast: JJGo Ep 70: Listen Up Gramps!


Jesse is off getting married this week, so Jordan and Gene took it upon themselves to have a frat party podcast. They even invited Chris Fairbanks from Comedy Central's Reality Bites Back to join in the fun.

* It's time for health!
* Vote in Sandwich Battle!


* Review the show on iTunes.
* Do you have a dispute Judge John Hodgman can solve on a future broadcast? Email it to us! Put Judge John in the subject line.
* Have personal questions for Jesse and Jordan? Call 206-984-4FUN and tell us what they are!
* Would you like to play Would You Rather with us on a future episode? Email us or give us a call at 206-984-4FUN.

Call 206-984-4FUN to share your thoughts on these ACTION ITEMS.

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Our theme music: "Love You" by The Free Design, courtesy of The Free Design and Light in the Attic Records

Ashkon "Hula Hoop"


Ashkon Like a Hula Hoop on Vimeo.

Our man Ashkeezy, aka R Kurry the Persian R. Kelly has a new video for his track "Hula Hoop," just in time to celebrate Hot Tubbin passing half a million views on YouTube. You can cop Hot Tubbin and 510 (f. Boots Riley & Mistah FAB) on iTunes.

Weinbach in Wonderland


Comedian and MaxFunPal Brent Weinbach is best known for getting me and Theresa a sweet ice cream maker as a wedding gift, but he's also the man behind the brilliant new web series Weinbach in Wonderland. Brent was contracted to make a number of videos by Superdeluxe, but sadly that site's demise cut the plans short at two. Above, the director's cut of episode one, below, episode two.

The series is hilariously funny, but also tinged with pathos, as Weinbach plays himself, struggling his way through elementary school. Brilliant stuff.

Keep your eyes peeled for Brent's new album, out later this year on Talent Moat.

Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: "Filmschool"

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As noted here before, I'm an enthusiast of the cinema. Given my equal enthusiasm for podcasts, you'd think my iTunes subscription list would be loaded with movie-related shows; lord knows there are enough of them out there. Problem is, most film podcasts I sample — and here I've done more sampling than Gregg Gillis — fixate on the same topics: "Juno: Overrated or Very Overrated?", "Let's Talk All Seriously About a Superhero Adaptation", "Something About Seth Rogen". Maybe that's your bag, but it sure ain't mine, so I've spent a lot of time wandering through the harsh, unforgiving desert of flickcasts, searching in vain for a morsel of smart, engaging goodness flowering through the dry, dry movie-B.S. sand.

Fortunately, I've happened upon one such morsel. Now, it's not perfect or anything, but you seem pretty cool, so I think you'll like it. It's called Filmschool [iTunes link], and it comes from a proud broadcasting tradition: University of California Radio. You already know two distinguished alumni: myself, from KCSB, UC Santa Barbara's station, and of course Jesse, who developed The Sound on KZSC, UC Santa Cruz's station. While Jesse came up with hard-unicycling hippies and I came up with hard-drinking surfers, Filmschool comes to you from the hard-studying, lowered-Acura-driving milieu of UC Irvine and its station, KUCI. (The station looks cool, though I didn't even consider the school. For you non-Californians out there, the city of Irvine is actually a very large parking lot that, I believe, surrounds just one office building.)

So what does Filmschool get right that most cinemacasts flub up? It's not sound quality; guests sometimes phone in from iffy, low-fidelity locations (e.g., Switzerland), and I could swear — though not wager any significant cash amount — that a few of the interviews have that telltale harsh Skype sound. And it's not really the quality of the conversations; hosts Nathan Callahan and Mike Kaspar do a decent, workmanlike job, though sometimes a slightly awkward one. And it's certainly not the editing; the show sounds sloppily cut together, with a Max Headroom-like cut-and-paste flow where words and sentences begin and/or end in midstream.

But the program makes up for everything with its guest selection, the Achilles' heel of other reelcasts. Filmschool tends to eschew conversations with actors, which scores big points with me. I mean, you need actors to make movies and all, but they have so little to say — so little that you want to hear, anyway. And have you heard some of the wacky stuff actors believe? Tom Cruise is the tip of the iceberg, my friends. No, on this show, you get the truly fascinating men and women of film: the directors. And not just the ones who seemingly live at the press junket. Callahan and Kaspar talk to the very filmmakers that I want to hear from — and, if you've read this far, you want to hear from — such as Charles Burnett, auteur of the newly-rereleased 70s and 80s Los Angeles classics Killer of Sheep and My Brother's Wedding [MP3]; prolific documentarian of American institutions like High School and Public Housing Frederick Wiseman [MP3]; grand old man of teen squalor Larry Clark [MP3] and today's most brain-burstingly creative silent film visionary, Guy Maddin [MP3].

Filmschool may lack polish, sure, but few motionpicturecasts don't. What's important here is the content, and boy, have they got it. Show me another program that would bring on both revered Grey Gardens documentarian Albert Maysles [MP3] and Gen-X master of nihilistic, dead-eyed, gross-out anomie Harmony Korine [MP3] and I'll stop insisting that this is just about the best thing going in talkiecasts. The only serious shortcoming is, well, the shortness; the interviews are about a quarter the length I'd like. But I suppose I've just got to deal with that, since the alternative seems to be the echo chamber of "Indiana Jones 4: Triumph or Travesty?"

Vital stats:
Format: film interviews
Running since: June 2006
Duration: 15m to 30m (c'mon guys, step it up!)
Frequency: weekly

[Reach freelance Podthinker Colin Marshall's secretary at colinjmarshall at gmail. Discuss Podthoughts here, or submit your podcast for the next by-Max-Funsters column here.]

Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: Entitled Opinions (About Life and Literature)


Entitled Opinions contains unadulterated, unusually concentrated intellectual substance. It should be avoided by anyone who does not have a very high tolerance for thinking. If you are allergic to the exchange of ideas, if you are deficient in curiosity, if you suffer from anti-intellectualism, then please, tune out now. This show offers the narcotic of intelligent conversation; it takes us into the garden, and seats us at the banquet of ideas, where we feast on the bread of angels. There's plenty of room at the table, and everyone is welcome, but be warned: the bread of angels is not your ordinary snack. It may set your head spinning and give you a high.

Thus speaks host Robert Harrison in the opening of one episode of his show, Entitled Opinions (About Life and Literature) [iTunes link], in which he engages Albert Guérard Professor in Literature Hans Ulrich Gumbrecht in an hour-long conversation about Robert Musil's unfinished early-20th-century Austrian epic The Man Without Qualities [MP3].

An hour-long conversation about The Man Without Qualities. That pretty much says it all, doesn't it? That says it all about why Entitled Opinions is an excellent show — do let me know when Fresh Air taps a vein that rich — but it also says it all about why I've devoted a sizable chunk of my life to all things podcasting: making podcasts, listening to podcasts, writing about podcasts. Podcasting has opened the floodgates for every kind of program imaginable, especially those whose audiences would have been too small or too geographically dispersed to make them viable on nationwide "terrestrial radio". There are undoubtedly millions of people in the world dying for a smart, intimate, literate, conversational, program just like this one, and only in the mid-2000s can they finally quench their thirst. This is exactly why I never fetishize the past; the past doesn't have podcasts.

Longtime Podthoughts readers will remember when my esteemed predecessor Ian Brill reviewed BBC Radio 4's In Our Time with Melvyn Bragg, which is quite possibly my favorite podcast thing of any kind. Entitled Opinions is, in several important ways, the United States' equivalent of In Our Time: each show presents a conversation — sometimes weighty, sometimes jovial, sometimes playfully argumentative, usually a mixture of the three — about one chapter in the infinite, ever-expanding history of ideas. Where Bragg brings on Oxbridge academics, Harrison, a Stanford professor of Italian literature who broadcasts from the campus-based KZSU, has access to his own university's finest, though he seems to prefer one-on-one talk to the multi-way intellectual tug-of-war that is Bragg's specialty. Representative topics include:

  • Mimetic desire [MP3]
  • Proust [MP3]
  • The inflationary universe [MP3]
  • 1910 [MP3]
  • American writers in Paris [MP3]
  • The history of the book [MP3]

And in the show with philosopher Michael Serres, Harrison actually conducts the whole thing in French [MP3], first telling the listener that, even if they don't understand French, they should stay tuned anyway, because Serres' French sounds good. Now that's what I call hardcore. Though humanities professors are not known for their hosting abilities, Harrison does an excellent job, if an eccentric one. In his relaxed professorial voice, which is just perfect for the setting, he begins each episode with a five-to-ten-minute monologue, some of which seem entirely disconnected from the subject at hand. Before his talk with the late Richard Rorty [MP3], he goes on about birds for quite some time, and you start thinking, "I know Rorty's work, and Rorty's work has nothing to do with seagulls." Then he ties it in by mentioning, at the very end, that Rorty is an avid birdwatcher. Ah, yes, I see.

Harrison occasionally indulges in a few other bad humanities academic habits — wringing his hands about globalization, using the word hermeneutic — but to focus on those would be to nitpick, because his show is unfailingly entertaining, engaging and and informative. And he's a cool guy. To those who don't believe me, I submit as evidence the fact that he audibly pops open a single-malt scotch to share with his guest during the above-linked conversation about Proust. To those who still don't believe me, I submit his hair. Can't argue with that, can you?

Vital stats:
Format: cultural interviews, with occasional monologues
Running since: September 2005
Duration: 45m to 1h
Frequency: weekly, but currently on hiatus until late September (so it's the perfect time to catch up)

[Freelance Podthinker Colin Marshall sends you thought-provoking e-mails from colinjmarshall at gmail. Discuss Podthoughts here, or submit your podcast for the next by-Max-Funsters column here.]

"The Antipod" in the New York Times Magazine


Rob Walker writes my favorite New York Times column, "Consumed" in the Sunday Magazine. Each week, he looks at a consumer and marketing phenomenon; this week's it's Zune.

Rob and I have corresponded since I emailed him a couple years ago about how much I like the column, and when he was prepping for this one, someone mentioned to him what big Zune fans Jordan and I are. He gave me a call, and the final result was probably my most important contribution to American culture thus far: getting the phrase "rocket up your Zunehole" printed in the Newspaper of Record. I'm really grateful that Rob took the time to accurately and reasonably affect my feelings about Zunes. Here's what he wrote:

But the most salient feature of the Zune seems to be that it’s not an iPod. Jesse Thorn, host of the public-radio show (and popular podcast) “The Sound of Young America,” is a Zune proponent, praising, for instance, its ability to sync wirelessly with a computer. Plus he was able to update his first-generation Zune with the improved software and firmware designed for the newer version — in contrast to Apple’s charging iPod Touch owners for upgrades, he makes a point of saying. Turns out Thorn has always resisted buying an iPod, having been put off initially by the price and later by the ever-growing number of “self-satisfied people carrying a ubiquitous object.” That sounds hostile, but Thorn is actually quite good-humored. On “Jordan Jesse Go,” another (less formal) podcast he co-hosts, he and his friend Jordan Morris regularly joke about the song-swap feature, inventing the term “rocket up your Zunehole” to describe the practice. Thorn also seems to take pleasure in examples of product-design oddities, like the inclusion of brown among the device’s first-generation color choices.

Here's the piece.

More Links to Check Out BEFORE YOU DIE


1. Oh, nothing special. It's just MR. ROGERS BREAKDANCING.
2. Dahl + Thurber double bill in the latest episode of the Selected Shorts podcast (iTunes link).
3. A free 60:00 mixtape from Izza Kizza & Nick Catchdubs: Kizzaland.
4. Patton Oswalt gets freaked out by Popeye in the latest episode of Never Not Funny: "It's mutants fighting for scraps."
5. From the new Wild Sweet Orange album, Ten Dead Dogs (mp3) is a beautiful pop song, via KEXP's excellent blog.
6. OK, time to go back to having my mind blown by Entitled Opinions episode "The History of Agriculture."

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