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Podthoughts by Ian Brill: "The Savage Love Podcast"

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Journalist Ian Brill is offering us a weekly review from the world of podcasting -- "Podthoughts." This week, he examines The Savage Love Podcast, from the Seattle alternative newspaper The Stranger. The program's host, Dan Savage, was once a guest on The Sound of Young America: here's the MP3.

Dan Savage can’t seem to go twenty seconds into his podcast without dropping a few expletives. It’s a bit jarring, but there’s no point in getting offended. In a typical episode, Savage answers four or five pre-recorded calls that seek his opinions on strap-on dildos, rape fantasies, vagina destined Splenda and any other number of matters far more extreme than the simple utterance of expletives. If you’re offended by that sort of content, you probably won’t get anything out of Savage Love. That’s a shame, because there’s a lot of get out of it.

Savage is clearly committed to educating the world on a subject we all deal but rarely talk about directly: S-E-X. The lack of communication about sex between so many people leads to a lot of dysfunctions. Savage brings it all out in the open so people can start living happier lives.

Occasionally Savage will call someone back to get a better handle on the subject. Those times Savage proves himself as being the empathic soul his listeners needs. Even though it’s the stranger fetishes that get the most attention (Splenda? In the vagina?) most of the problems Savage is given concern arguments between lovers and misinformation on certain medical issues.

Not that Savage always plays the Dr. Ruth-like gentle sage when he’s helping out his callers. He’s not afraid to call one an asshole if it’s warranted, and in some cases it certainly is. Thankfully, though, most of the time Savage needs only to be thoughtful and informative to fix the problems he’s given.

Savage has a similarly low tolerance for BS. Many times the calls he gets are from people who have more worries than they have actual problems. In the June 12th edition, a very sexually open mother is concerned her daughters’ sex lives may be too “vanilla.” Savage phrases his advice simply: “back the fuck off.” I really appreciated this. Savage could be like so many other advice columnists and just create a culture distress and confessions that are blown way out of proportion. Instead he’s able to put these people’s situations into perspective and tell them what’s really going on.

People still come to Savage for advice, perhaps because they know he’s going to be straight with them. He’s also one of the few people in the public sphere whose counsel comes from a sex-positive point-of-view. Savage’s personality, a beautifully paradoxical mix of wise and exasperated, is always entertaining. It’s the reason why I’ve found Savage Love one of the most addictive podcasts around.

Triumph at the Tonys

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Triumph the Insult Comic Dog visits the Tony Awards.

Yeah, this is still funny to me.

Times Podcast of the Week!


Guess who's the Times of London podcast of the week?

Hint: it starts with "Kasper" and ends with "Hauser Comedy Podcast," and is the Kasper Hauser Comedy Podcast.

Kasper Hauser was the mysterious 19th-century foundling about whom Werner Herzog made a film in 1974. It is also the name of an enigmatic blog by a quartet of San Francisco comedians. Wonderfully realised, the podcast’s wistful and surreal laughs are conveyed in parodies of the cult radio show This American Life with Phantom High School, in which people talk about a fake school where diplomas “crumbled into dust” and the building was made of “spider web crystals”. Very silly and great fun.

Podcast: TSOYA Classics: Rebirth with DJ Spooky and Sharon Waxman


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: First up is Paul D. Miller, AKA "DJ Spooky". Miller is a New York writer, artist, and musician. His live show "Rebirth of a Nation" is a film/music/multimedia rethinking of D.W. Griffith's The Birth of a Nation.

Then we hear from New York Times Hollywood writer Sharon Waxman. She's the author of Rebels on the Backlot, which discusses the indie film explosion of the mid 1990's and the directors behind it, including Quentin Tarantino, Steven Soderbergh, and David Fincher.

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

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Podcast: Coyle & Sharpe, Ep. 10: Record Your Stomach


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 attempt to record the inside of a man's stomach.

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Help save McSweeney's


When Publisher's Group West, the foremost independent book distributor in the country, went through serious financial difficulties last year, it had ramifications throughout the publishing industry. Lots and lots of indy presses were owed money by PGW, and they got very little of it when all the dust settled.

Among the many publishers who suffered greatly was McSweeney's. The loss of revenue has meant that our pals in SF have a pretty serious cash crunch, and they're asking for your help. Luckily, it means they've discounted almost everything they sell signficantly, in the hopes that you'll buy a lot of crap and help them out. So, yeah... do that.

Draft the Newm!


Is it too late to get Randy Newman to run for president?

"A Few Words in Defense of Our Country" recorded in January

And here's a bonus: "It's Money That Matters" with Mark Knopfler on guitar, looks like on SNL. "Of all of the people that I used to know / Most never adjusted / to the great big world / I see 'em lurking in bookstores / and working for the public radio..."

Make You Feel That Way & My House

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Earlier today, Portland hip-hop group The Lifesavas were over at the house, taping an interview you'll hear on the show in a few weeks. They got stuck in the elevator in my building for about 20 minutes, but were pretty remarkably nice about it. When they made it into my apartment, Jumbo said, "this is a nice building, though."

Vursatyl said, "Yeah, it kinda looks like the street from that Blackalicious video... uhm..."

"Make You Feel That Way."


I laughed and said heck, they shot a video for a crappy Danity Kane video here...

It just occurred to me that music videos can be viewed on the internets, so I checked out the clip for "Make You Feel That Way," and damned if it doesn't feature my building prominently. Besides that, the song is one of my all-time favorite feel-good records, as evidenced by the fact that I included it in the summer mix I just posted. So give it a look and let my apartment building fill your eyes, while happy rap fills your heart.

Chappelle and Hardwick tonight in SF

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Yay Area representatives: Chris Hardwick spilled the beans that he'll be opening for Dave Chappelle at the Punchline in SF tonight. Check Ticketmaster (repeatedly) for tickets, Chris says they should be up around now.

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