The Blog of Young America

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Richard Ayoade directed the Vampire Weekend video Oxford Comma

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Obviously, boat shoe band Vampire Weekend hired Richard Ayoade to direct their video in a transparent attempt to light up the COMEDY BLOGOSPHERE the same way they lit up the TWEE MUSIC BLOGOSPHERE a few months ago. This, after their first attempt -- dressing like Chevy Chase circa 1980 -- failed.

Well this one worked. Because only jerks and the ignorant don't like Richard Ayoade.

RIP George Carlin

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It goes without saying, but I'll say it anyway: George Carlin is one of the tiny handful of performers who truly defined what standup comedy is. He also inspired many to consider comedy as a way to make people think more, not less.

New York Times obituary

& here's an amazing appreciation from Louis CK

Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: "Zen is Stupid"

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I'm not a Buddhist. Let's get that out of the way right now. I'm not even an aspiring Buddhist. I've never even considered becoming a Buddhist. Buddhism isn't among my top hundred interests — hell, it's probably not among my top thousand. Thus, I suppose I'm a totally unsuitable reviewer for a Buddhist podcast.

But wait. Gwen Bell and Patrick Reynolds, co-hosts of Zen is Stupid [iTunes link] aren't Buddhists either. At least that's what they say in the episode about Buddhism [link]. They prefer to call themselves, say, "students of Buddhism" or "people who practice Buddhism." That's a good sign; it contraindicates my least-loved quality of the young American Buddhist. You know the type: superciliously strutting around in that more-enlightened-than-thou way, constantly mentioning how Buddhist they are. Insufferable.

Gwen and Patrick aren't like that. Though they operate on a different Weltanschauung than I do, their podcast allows me to examine and consider that Weltanschauung without being buried under monstrous heaps of 'tude. Each week, Gwen and Patrick take on a topic of modern relevance, be it diversity [link], driving [link], nostalgia [link], hipsters [link] or h8erz [link], and spend ten to twenty minutes approaching it from whatever Zen Buddhist perspective they can muster. (And it's always Zen — they sometimes give the nod to other branches of Buddhism, but remain loyal to the Zen game.) For example, after a one-night stand, a Zen Buddhist might not wake up feeling like the bottom of an ashtray; they might wake up and cheerfully launch into a session of zazen, which, I gather, is this practice where you sit still for a long time. The duo's attitude has drawn no small amount of scorn on iTunes from self-proclaimed Zen old-schoolers, which shows they're on the right track: in any field, if you're pissing off the old guard, you're doing something right.

So what, for the non-Buddhist, is appealing about all this? First and foremost, learning about someone else's take on the world never fails to fascinate me, especially if that someone else adheres to a system of thought that I don't. (And, as the most a-religious, a-spiritual — as distinct from unreligious and unspiritual — person I know, they almost always do.) Second, unlike some religions I shall refrain from naming, Zen Buddhism has elements that can be genuinely thought-provoking even for the outsider, such as the concept of mindfulness, keeping maximally aware of the present moment, or the concept of beginner's mind, disregarding biases and preconceptions when entering new informational territory. I wouldn't be surprised if this sort of thing one day maps to new discoveries in neuroscience.

I must admit, however, to an inability to get with certain other elements of Buddhism which, in many hands, seem to generate a kind of irritating nihilism. "Everything is everything," intones the garden-variety lazy Buddhist I talk to, "so it wouldn't be right for me to have an opinion on anything." Then they mumble something about the limits of language. I was thus happy find that Gwen and Patrick take on this sort of nonsense without giving in to it; they are indeed opinionated, and they seem to have no problem taking action. That's not to say that their discourse is completely devoid of muddled thinking — they've more than once fallen into go-nowhere discussions about how one should practice Zen, but they shouldn't expect to gain anything from it, but they do gain from it, but wait, no they don't, because you're not supposed to want to improve in Zen, but maybe they do, or don't — but for the most part, they mix Buddhism with pragmatism, which is precisely what most ancient beliefs sorely need.

[Direct all correspondence to colinjmarshall at gmail. Podthoughts discussion thread available here. I'm working on a special series of Podthoughts on podcasts by Max Funsters; if you do one, let me know about it here.]

Podcast: The College Years: Sexiness

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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.

Spooky Suicide and Katie Suicide of The Suicide Girls join Jordan and Jesse for this arousing episode of The College Years. Also in this episode: Jim Real's famed "Would You Rather?", Erotic Confessions, Point/Counterpoint: Sexual intercourse or the new Zelda game?, and A Tribute to France.

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Podcast: Mark Oliver Everett (aka E) of Eels

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Show: 
Bullseye

Mark Oliver Everett, sometimes known as A Man Called E, is the frontman of the genre-hopping rock band Eels. The band has just released a greatest hits collection ("Meet the Eels") and a collection of B-sides and rarities ("Useless Trinkets"). We talk with him about why he has always had a rotating band, how sick he is of self-reflection, and of course gorilla hunting.

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

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Get Deeeeeep with TSOYA

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I often seem to surprise people when I tell them that The Sound of Young America has been on the air for eight years now. Maybe you already knew that, but did you know that an alarming percentage of that material is available right here on this very website?

For example -- maybe you've been to the bottom of the show archive... but what about the pre-podcasting archive? A couple years ago, we switched all of them from RealAudio to MP3 for your convenience, and you can click in there to hear Dame Edna, Paul Feig, Colin Meloy, Sarah Silverman and many more. I recommend you listen to this segment, an interview with a producer from Steve Harvey's Big Time, co-hosted by Kasper Hauser (MP3).

I know what you're saying: "I love old Sound of Young America material, but I'm too lazy to right click and save as! Can't you bring this into iTunes, where it will be downloaded automatically?"

Of course, you lazy fuck!

With iTunes, you can subscribe to The Sound of Young America Classics... every week you'll get an show from about two years ago, all cleaned up and ready for you to enjoy. It's the easy way to enjoy the archive.

And if you're brave enough to go even further back, you can check out The College Years. We're plowing through our CD archives a show a week. We're currently sometime in 2003 with those joints... we've got great guests like Louis CK and Dave Attell, plus lots of strange comedy of our own.

Enjoy!

Patton on Indie 103 in Los Angeles Monday

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Our pal Patton Oswalt is hosting Jonesy's Jukebox on ClearChannel's adventurous alt-rock station Indie 103.1 here in Los Angeles Monday. The show's normally hosted by Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols, and is one of the great treats of living here in Los Angeles... but I'm sure Patton will be a more than capable substitute.

Catch all the Oswaltia Monday at from noon to 2PM pacific, either on the radio if you're here in the La La, or online at indie1031.com.

A few years ago, Patton checked in with MaxFunPal Emily Calderon on KZSC to play and talk about some of his favorite songs. You can check out that awesome hour of radio here.

Podcast: Ariel Schrag, Cartoonist and Writer

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Show: 
Bullseye

Ariel Schrag spent the summers after each year of high school writing astonishingly frank comics about the experiences she'd been through. When she returned to school the following year, she sold the self-published comics to her peers. Ten years later, the books have been republished, and they're a remarkable window into her high school years: coming out as a lesbian, her first sexual experiences (with men and women), drinking and using drugs, and lots and lots of crushes. They're funny, touching and wise beyond her then-years.

If you enjoyed this show, try these:
Sloane Crosley
Miranda July
Dan Clowes

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Richie Cunning, Ashkon and PUTS in SF

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I didn't even know that my high school friend Richard had a second life as rapper Richie Cunning until he emailed me yesterday. I didn't even know he rapped. I should become a rapper. It seems like fun.

Anyway, Richard aka Richie Cunning and our man Ashkeezy are opening for West Coast hip-hop stalwarts People Under the Stairs on Thursday night at the Independent in San Francisco... a great place to see a show, walking distance from my old apartment.

Whether or not you live in the Sco, you can download Richie's new single, "The City," which is a fantastic tribute to the best city in the world. Also, the N Judah. I think my first single's going to be about the 49 Van Ness-Mission.

Richie Cunning - The City (Direct MP3 Link)

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