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My Brother, My Brother and Me 100: Reflectionz: A Look Back

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It's our hundredth episode, and it's also our two-year anniversary. Are you prepared for the celebration? Are you in a place where you can mentally handle 112 minutes of goofing? Is your spirit prepared for all the check-ins from past advisees? We hope so, because we really can't do this without you.

Suggested talking points: Send in the Clowns, Borrible'd, Buttking, Neo-Nunnie, Juicy and Delicious, Stapler Thief, Tiesson, Dinklage Town, Tradeskills, Possession Shedding, Teeth, Behind the Scenes, Doorframe Bathtub, Jorsten Blaber

Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: The Subaltern Podcast


Vital stats:
Format: one young writer interviewing others
Episode duration: 30-50m
Frequency: weekly, in series of ten episodes

If you’ve passed through an institution of higher learning in the last twenty years, you twitch, almost imperceptibly, when you hear a word like “subaltern.” You do the same when upon hearing the terms “hegemony,” “rearticulation,” or “(dis)loc[a/u]tion.” You twitch because you remember feeling plunged into insoluble confusion, right where you sat in the lecture hall: you didn’t know whether to believe your professor was feeding you these whole verbal grapefruits in the good-faith service of important points, or whether they were just screwing with you. Maybe, as certain high-profile academics argue, their complicated arguments could only find honest expression in a vocabulary whose very comprehension demanded a mental struggle. But maybe, having themselves started out as wide-eyed undergraduates with an unquenchable love for novels or a pang in their hearts over the world’s injustices, these professors ultimately found themselves marooned in an academic hellscape of fear, insecurity, and obfuscatory self-justification. Maybe they knew only one way to rattle the bars of their cage: to make you share their painful bewilderment.

Imagine my relief, then, to find that The Subaltern Podcast [RSS] [iTunes] comes not from a haunted-eyed lecturer but from a hard-tweeting novelist. This novelist, a certain Nikesh Shukla, seems to have written a book called Coconut Unlimited, about some young British Indians who form a collectively inept hip-hop trio. I would like to read this book, just as I would like to read the many hundreds of other books that new writers all over the Anglosphere (and, in translation, beyond) are putting out as we speak. But how to choose where to begin? Even the most dedicated readers suffer under the burden of many, many thousands of exciting novels they could never hope to live long enough to crack, and that doesn’t even include the countless undoubtedly brilliant ones to be published over the rest of their lifetimes. This problem surely weighs even heavier on Shukla and his Subaltern interviewees, all reasonably young writers who must compete against every novel ever written for vanishingly scarce readerly attention.

No wonder the faces I see at the Association of Writers and Writing Programs conferences look freighted with such woe. Yet I remember a reading at one of them from a someone seemed entirely, or at least relatively, free of despair: the Israeli short-story writer Etgar Keret, whom Shukla interviews in The Subaltern’s seventh episode [MP3]. Despite never having read Keret, I’ve caught enjoyable impressions of his personality in the literary zeitgeist, just as I have those of Colson Whitehead [MP3] and Teju Cole [MP3], two of Shukla’s other guests, both of whom write critically acclaimed novels, both of whose writing I know primarily from Twitter. Most of the other writers on the show appeared as, and remain, unknown quantities to me. Perhaps they publish only in the United Kingdom? Even Coconut Unlimited looks not to have gotten a release here. I imagine a United States publisher trying to figure out how to explain to American readers that, in Britain, “Asian” doesn’t just mean Chinese, Japanese, or Korean, then just shrugging and saying “screw it.”

I downloaded all of Shukla’s pub-, hotel room-, and Skype-recorded conversations after getting word that he’d interviewed Cole, whose debut novel Open City caught my eye last year. Random House, as Cole tells Shukla, mounted a strong media strategy for the book, which culminated in a capture of that literary golden calf, a review from the New Yorker’s James Wood. Referencing diaristic prose, Iain Sinclair, urban internationalism, unjudging gazes, and W.G. Sebald, this article fired me up in a way that nothing about any new novel has done in years. This led me to Cole’s Twitter feed, an exercise in reinterpreting the “small fates” described in the newspapers of modern Nigeria and old New York, which led me to The Subaltern. My collected knowledge of Cole and his work enriched the listening experience — even the parts of it mainly about Mos Def.

Alas, my lack of knowledge of many of the others on Shukla’s guest list might have hurt my listening experience. I come away from these interviews having gotten all sorts of vibes of irreverence and intellectual energy, but also regretting that I hadn’t spent time familiarizing myself in advance with whatever it is they actually, y’know, write. Even without laying the usual explanatory groundwork, Shukla draws out many an insight into their writing processes and the cultural pursuits — zombies, viral videos R. Kelly — that drive them. And hey, this is, after all, The Subaltern, whose site defines that term as “persons socially, politically and geographically outside the hegemonic power structure.” I should accept, amid my twitching, that I’ll occasionally have to do my own research. Or maybe I’ll have to stop doing most of my listening while riding tipsily home on the Blue Line. One night, I looked across the aisle and noticed another fellow, also with headphones in, and what was he reading but Open City. Even I haven’t gotten around to that!

[Podthinker Colin Marshall hosts and produces Notebook on Cities and Culture [iTunes]. Contact him at colinjmarshall at gmail or follow him on Twitter @colinmarshall.]

MaxFun Meet-Up: This American Life, live in theatres

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05/10/2012 - 20:00 - 23:00
Burbank, CA and all across the country!
Venue Name: 
AMC Burbank 16 / Buffalo Wild Wings Burbank

To celebrate the one-night-only occasion of our friend Ira Glass and This American Life's live show, being shown in select theatres across the country, Maximum Fun is holding the meet-up to end all meet-ups.

MaxFunsters in the L.A. area can purchase tickets to the screening at the AMC Burbank 16, and are encouraged to act fast, as the show will sell out. MaxFun personalities will be on-hand for the festivities, and we hope to have a few prizes to give away as well.

After the show we will be moving to Buffalo Wild Wings Burbank, a short walk (or drive) from the cinema, where Jordan Morris plans to feast on chicken drenched in blue cheese sauce, and you're all invited to join him.

Now I know what you're thinking, "What about those of us who don't live near L.A.?" And fear not friends, we've got you covered! Anywhere in the country that there's a screening of This American Life is a potential site for a MaxFun meet-up -- all you have to do is organize yourselves. You can do that with relative ease by heading over to the MaximumFun Forums. If you want to see the show, chances are there's another MaxFun listener out there in your area who wants to see it with you. Let us know what your plans are, and we'll try and ship you some prizes as well!

Make friends! Mingle with show-biz types (maybe)! Go hog wild! And have fun.

Judge John Hodgman Episode 55: Battle Royale


Rachel and Leeman are American citizens who moved to Canada for school and work. Having lived in Toronto for some time now, the couple have planted their roots in Canadian soil and plan to make the city their home for the foreseeable future. They've already become permanent Canadian residents, and enjoy the primary benefits of being Canadian (universal health care, foremost). Rachel believes they should go all the way and become citizens so that they may vote, run for office, and fully commit to life in the Great White North. Leeman takes issue with the Canadian Oath of Citizenship, however, particularly the idea of pledging allegiance to the British monarchy.

Should they stand on guard for thee united as a family, or is Leeman correct in rebelling against the crown? In this royal rumble, only one man can decide!


Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Robert Glasper, Pendleton Ward, Andrew Noz and Davy Rothbart

Robert Glasper
Pendleton Ward
Andrew Noz
Davy Rothbart

Andrew Noz on Rap

Blogger Andrew Noz from Cocaine Blunts kicks off this week's show by recommending some recent favorites from the world of rap -- Kendrick Lamar's 'Cartoon & Cereal' featuring Gun Play, and 'Big Beast' by Killer Mike, featuring T.I. & Bun B. For more from Noz, check out, or read his cover story on Kendrick Lamar for The Fader.

(Embed or share Noz’s Rap Recommendations)

Jazz Pianist Robert Glasper

Robert Glasper is a jazz pianist and the band leader of the Robert Glasper Experiment. Glasper's life in music began early, as his mother, a jazz and blues vocalist, would often bring her young son along to clubs with her, where he would watch from backstage. His music today blends classic jazz influences with soul music and modern hip-hop, forging something fresh and new out of a genre he says is in dire need of a shake-up. His new album, Black Radio, includes collaborations with hip-hop artists like Lupe Fiasco, Mos Def, as well as old friend and frequent collaborator Bilal.

Glasper sits down with us to reveal some of his more embarrassing musical influences, reflect on working alongside the late J. Dilla, and dish on what he feels is wrong with today's jazz culture.

(Embed or share this interview with Robert Glasper)

Found Things, with Davy Rothbart

Davy Rothbart is the editor of Found Magazine, an annual publication collecting lost letters, tests, essays and notes, all found and submitted by readers. Found put out its first issue nearly ten years ago, and Davy has been a regular guest on The Sound of Young America ever since. In his first appearance on Bullseye, Rothbart recounts the cryptic tales found within the pages of some of his favorite lost treasures, brought to him by readers on Found's national tours.

If you've found something special you'd like to send in, either digitally or by mail, visit

(Embed or share Davy Rothbart’s Found Things)

Animator Pendleton Ward, creator of Adventure Time

Pendleton Ward is a writer and animator, and the creator of the Cartoon Network series Adventure Time. The show follows the adventures of Finn the boy and Jake the shape-shifting dog, through a magical post-apocalyptic Earth. It's very witty and full of humor, and is one of those rare programs that works just as well for kids as it does for adults. Pen is a born artist, who even during this interview can't help but capture his host on paper. He joins Jesse to discuss drawing as a comedic outlet, the delicate art of writing a quality fart joke, and the influence of Dungeons & Dragons on the fantastical quests of Adventure Time. The show just began its fourth season; you can catch new episodes Monday nights on Cartoon Network.

(Embed or share this interview with Pen Ward)

The Outshot: BESTIE x BESTIE

For this week's Outshot, Jesse delves into the often contrived world of quirky viral videos and finds something genuinely hilarious: the web series BESTIE x BESTIE, starring Jenny Slate and Gabe Liedman. You might know Slate as a former featured player on SNL or as the writer and voice of another internet smash, Marcel The Shell With Shoes On. In BESTIE x BESTIE she and best friend Liedman take turns trying desperately to remain serious while the other does their best to make them crack. The results are often as funny as anything on the internet.

Is there a web series that tickles your funny-bone like none other? Help it go viral by sharing it on the MaxFun Forum and picking your own Outshot.

(Embed or share this Outshot on BESTIE x BESTIE)

Subscribe to Bullseye in iTunes or the RSS feed!

TS24:BYU, Nikki Haley, Mississippi Abortion, John Derbyshire, Wisconsin Equal Pay


Bryan barely survives an 8-hour ordeal with Time Warner to talk to Erin about how it gets better at BYU, Wisconsin's repeal of equal pay rights, John Derbyshire's racism and homophobia, Governor Nikki Haley and her views on how women feel about birth control, and the threats to the only abortion clinic in Mississippi. Come and get it!! 
Get tickets for Entertainment Hollywood!! 
Official Max Fun Page
Subscribe and Rate on iTunes
RSS Feed
@gibblertron & @bryansafi #tspod
Mississippi's Only Abortion Clinic in Danger
It Get's Better, BYU style
Nikki Haley speaks on behalf of all women in all states everywhere in America
John Derbyshire
Wisconsin turns back time (Cher reference) on equal pay

Stop Podcasting Yourself 212 - Kevin Lee

Kevin Lee

Improviser Kevin Lee returns to talk about ice cream, weird expensive purchases, the saddest part of Field of Dreams, and syrup-scented money.

Download episode 212 here. (right-click)

Brought to you by: (click here to see the whole recap)

My Brother, My Brother and Me 99: Plunger Practicalities


Looks like we've made it! Look how far we've come, our babies. MaxFunDrive 2012 was a raging success, and it's all because you fine folks are so, so good to us. To thank you for your efforts, today's episode is pretty nasty.

Suggested talking points: Buried Alive, OkCupid Skinsuit, Swimfanning, Family Nudity, Tower Heisting, Momnapping, Bishop the Thundarian, Bathroom Preparedness

Jordan Jesse Go Ep. 219: Ska Church with Ian Edwards

Ian Edwards

Comedian Ian Edwards joins Jordan and Jesse to discuss ska church, 90s alternative rock bands, and daytime television personalities.

The MaxFunDrive is Over: Thank You!


Our thanks go out to the ONE THOUSAND FOUR HUNDRED NINETY FIVE new donors who signed up to support during our MaxFunDrive, to the thousands who already supported it and who increased their donations, to the hundreds who made challenge donations, and to everyone who spread the word and convinced a friend to support quality media.

You rule!

We're proud to be supported by people who love our work. And that's the truth, Ruth.

Thank you gifts will be mailed in approximately six to eight weeks. Please begin enjoying the warm feeling in your heart immediately.

Of course, even now that the pledge drive is over, you can donate anytime. Thank you!

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