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Podthoughts by Ian Brill: Radio Lab

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In our regular feature Podthoughts, freelance journalist Ian Brill helps you navigate your way through the thousands of podcasts available on the internet.

I discovered Radio Lab when Ira Glass recommended it at the end of a This American Life podcast. He was speaking to the right audience. WNYC’s Radio Lab starts with a big theme and examines it in a series of short segments. Like TAL they’re audio documentaries. The interviews aren’t soundbites. Hosts Jad Abumrad, Robert Krulwich and their producers ensure in-depth interviews with their subjects. They have to because unlike TAL Radio Lab’s segments stick much closer to their themes.

Throughout the show Abumrad and Krulwich will pop in and offer their opinions on the show’s binding idea, be it morality, mortality or the mystery of memory. They’ll often debate with each other, which is very interesting. The two have easily defined but different personalities. Kurlwich is a man of heart. Even when given the cold, hard scientific facts about memory or morality he’ll want to believe that there’s something more going on than just biological or evolutionary traits. Abumrad deals with the more logical side of things and plays a nice foil to Kurlwich.

What really impressed me about Radio Lab when I first heard it was how sound was edited. In the show “Memory and Forgetting” the hosts and the archived sounds of the interview subjects lap over each other. Sound effects dramatizing an event come in quick burst. Certain phrases and sounds are repeated at various times. This is the first time I’ve heard a radio show that matched the fast pace of television. Radio Lab makes sure to use this style deliberately and clearly. They know when to slow the show down, such as during somber and emotional moments. Listening to Radio Lab you get that immediate sense of being “there” on the field reports but you’re also pulled back by Abumrad and Kurlwich’s hosting. It’s a unique listening experience but a nice one.

Awesome movies at Archive.org

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Archive.org’s Moving Image Archive

You already know Archive.org as the home of the Wayback Machine and as a great place to find stuff like free audio by everyone from Gracie Allen to Godspeed You! Black Emperor.

I think the gem of the site for enthusiasts of pop culture awesomeness is the Moving Images section, which contains thousands of films, cartoons — you name it. Most are available for download at high resolution, so you can throw them on your iPod or burn ‘em to DVD and watch on that big-ass TV of yours.

Lately, one of my favorite areas is The Prelinger Archives, which houses some of Rick Prelinger’s astounding collection of ephemeral films — promotional videos, educational reels, and seemingly endless ads and pitches, mostly from America’s less ironic past. In the ephemeral section, you’ll find dancing ladies making an omelette, a soldier who doesn’t want to take a bath, and a paean to the patriotic power of electricity. And, oh boy: cautionary nuclear tales? Not a problem.

But, seriously, do not miss out on the really good stuff that abounds in the film and animation sections: classic cartoons from the Fleischer Brothers (Betty Boop shown above), creepy young Peter Lorre in Fritz Lang’s M, the classic Cabinet of Dr. Caligari, and the amazing 1955 “Rhythm and Blues Revue” (with Sarah Vaughan, Cab Calloway, Nat Cole, Nipsey Russell, and more).

Great way to kill a Sunday afternoon.

Merlin (for the vacationing Jesse)

I'm going on vacation.

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OK, everybody. I'm off to my first real vacation since I graduated from college. I'll be gone for a week. See you a week from Monday.

Don't fret, however... there is plenty of entertainment here for you to enjoy.

First of all, you'll have a few CELEBRITY GUEST BLOGGERS to keep you entertained.

Merlin Mann is the host of The Merlin Show, as well as the creator of 43folders.com, the uber-popular personal productivity site. He's also the co-host of Mac Break Weekly and other popular podcasts.

Paul Scheer is a brilliant improviser and comic actor, best known as 1/4th of MTV's The Human Giant. He's also been seen regularly on various talking head television series.

And if he can figure out how to use Blogger (I mean this totally sincerely), Bill Hader of Saturday Night Live plans to join in the fun as well.

We've also got new episodes of Jordan, Jesse GO!, Coyle & Sharpe and TSOYA planned, so your entertainment experience should be undisturbed.

GOODBYE!

Podcast: TSOYA Classic: New Sincerity Summer

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Show: 
Bullseye

We continue our journey into The Sound of Young America's vast audio archive with this program from The Sound of Young America Classics.

This show is all about summer, and fun, and how the two really just go hand in hand. First, we adjudicate the New Sincerity Summer contest, in which listeners offer up their favorite summer activities.

Then we talk with Mike Veeck, minor league baseball empresario, son of baseball Hall of Famer Bill Veeck, and author of Fun is Good. Mike talks with us about some of the promotions he's concocted, like "Disco Demolition Night" and "Mime-O-Vision." He also tells us about his son, who he has named "Night Train." Seriously people, this man is dedicated.

Please share your thoughts on the show in the comments section!

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Podcast: TSOYA Classic: Finders Keepers

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Show: 
Bullseye


We continue our journey into The Sound of Young America's vast audio archive with this program from The Sound of Young America Classics.

Our guests are Davy Rothbart, editor of Found Magazine, and Lorca Shepperd, co-director of the film Other Peoples' Pictures.

Found Magazine is a collection of notes, photos, and other found items ranging from cute, to absurd, to downright bizarre. Found items, sent in in large part by readers, are published in their irregular magazine, and more frequently, on the Found website. They also have published two books.

Lorca Shepperd's documentary Other Peoples' Pictures offers a glimpse into the world of snapshot enthusiasts -- collectors of vintage amateur photography.

Please share your thoughts on the show in the comments section!

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Philly Stand UP!

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Philly: it's more than just Philly Boy Roy, The Phillie Phanatic and Philadelphia Freeway. Now it's also THE SOUND OF YOUNG AMERICA ON WHYY!

TSOYA premiers TONIGHT on WHYY, and will run every Friday night at 9PM.

Come on... I know you don't have a date! Listen! Tell them you love the show!

"Coal" by Free Love Forum

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This is the best thing since WHIT Power 102 FM. Credit goes to the esteemed NYC sketch group Free Love Forum.

(via CCInsider, thanks Chris!)

David Letterman on Tom Snyder

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This is from Snyder's Worldwide Pants-produced "Late Late Show," circa 1995. A wide-ranging interview -- Snyder cracks Letterman's surface just a bit, gets him to talk about his early days in broadcasting and to be surprisingly frank about his critics in the media.

via Jumbodump

Kasper Hauser at Google

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Kasper Hauser visited the offices of Google last month to offer a sales presentation for their catalog SkyMaul. SkyMaul CEO Jerry Ponda was on hand, in his trademark black turtleneck, and a variety of friends were there too. Luckily for America, Google recorded the whole operation, which you can watch above.

Podcast: Coyle & Sharpe, Ep. 15: Grevenz

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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. Today, their humor is a cultural touchstone for artists as varied as Henry Rollins and The Upright Citizens Brigade.

These 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.

This week, Coyle & Sharpe render a man mute with the utterance of one word: Grevenz.

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