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Sal Santana on "Keyboard City" and more: Interview on The Sound of Young America

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Sal Santana

Salvador Santana is a keyboard player and singer-songwriter. His father is guitar legend Carlos Santana. He's just released a new LP, Keyboard City. He talks with The Sound of Young America about his Bay Area roots (he's an alumnus of School of the Arts in San Francisco), working on "Supernatural" as a teenager, touring with Ozomatli and recording with his mentor, Money Mark.

MaxFunPals on Twitter

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I don't know if you've heard of Twitter, a red-hot website for teens, but it's VERY big right now (with teens). If you want to meet and charm other teens, you should really check it out - and here are a few MaxFun affiliates and pals you can follow.

Of course, I'm on Twitter @YoungAmerican. I make innapropriate jokes, then remember that the boss of PRI is subscribed to my feed, then figure, "hey, what's done is done." I also announce new episodes of TSOYA, livestreams of JJGo, and other stuff like that. Nick, the editor of TSOYA, is @NPWhite, where he occasionally asks a TSOYA-related question, and talks about the LPFM station he works at in Chicago. Jordan is on Twitter @Jordan_Morris, and he's fantastically hilarious. Follow him and get one or two amazing jokes a day. I also tweet about Put This On @PutThisOn.

Kasper Hauser are @Kasper_Hauser, sharing awesome jokes. So are their members individually: Rob Baedeker (@robbaedeker), James Reichmuth, aka Jacobus of the 14th Century (@Jacobus14), John Reichmuth (@CountReichmuth), and Dan Klein (@Kleinimp).

Our Monsters of Podcasting friends met on Twitter, and they met because they're all so hilarious there. Merlin is @HotDogsLadies, Scott is @ScottSimpson and Adam hits about two home runs a day @LonelySandwich. They tweet collectively as @YLNT.

Lots of our comedy friends are on Twitter. Rob Huebel (@RobHuebel) is probably my favorite Twitterer. His tweets seem to come from an alternate, nightmare universe which never ceases to amuse me. Other comedy pals of ours, like Rob Corddry (@RobCorddry), Chris Hardwick (@nerdist) and John Hodgman (@Hodgman) are there as well.

I also follow lots of public radio and podcasting pals. Our pal Matt from Never Not Funny tweets both for the show (@NeverNotFunny) and for himself (@MattBelknap). Tom Scharpling from The Best Show on WFMU is always stirring shit up @Scharpling. My overlords tweet @PRI. NPR's Mike Pesca is @Pescami and Studio 360's Kurt "Explodo" Andersen is @KBAndersen.

Of course, the most important person to follow is Andrew WK, whose PARTY TIPS ("PARTY TIP: You got to do it! You never give up! YOU'VE GOT TO DO ALL THE STUFF THAT YOU LOVE! Do what feels good, all the time.") will make your life better every day. Follow him @AndrewWK.

MaxFunCon Podcast Ep. 10: John Hodgman and Merlin Mann

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A few months ago, MaxFunster Merlin Mann (of 43 Folders and You Look Nice Today fame) conducted a live interview with MaxFunster John Hodgman (of Daily Show and Areas of My Expertise fame).

Want to know what kind of persimmon-kickery these two might be capable of at this year's MaxFunCon? Get the podcast of their conversation over at MaxFunCon.com.

Some Foreign Comedy To Blow Your Mind

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Six TV Comedies You Need to Watch

I don't think there's any reason to waste your time on OK television when you could be watching great television. Spend a little time searching out some of this amazing non-US English-language comedy, and you can reward yourself with laughs beyond your wildest dreams. All of these shows are hobby-horses of mine, so apologies if you've heard this one before. (By the way: a good place to find torrents of UK tv that isn't available in the States: the Box. Google it.)

The Day Today

These days, this show is remembered by comedy fans, if at all, as the show that launched the career of Steve Coogan, and birthed his most famous character, Alan Partridge. It's so much more than that. It's a brilliant deconstruction of the inanity of television news which takes the form of a television news show. Amazing character work, spectacular writing and almost no topical humor. An amazing show. If you live in the US, you'll have to download this one.

Brass Eye

This was a sequel of sorts to The Day Today. What The Day Today did for TV news, Brass Eye did for TV newsmagazines, only moreso. Maybe the most elegantly (and somehow most brutally) written television show I've ever watched. Sound and fury signifying nothing, taken to the 9th degree. Anchored, as in The Day Today, by the sneering, fearless Chris Morris, doing a spectacularly harsh and hilarious take down of the TV news anchor. Some amazing put-ons, as well. In one episode, they manage to convince a real Minister of Parliament to introduce a bill condemning the fictional drug they've created for purposes of satire. This one's available for about $10 from Amazon.co.uk, and the DVD is region-free, so you don't have to worry about whether it'll play in your DVD player.

The Thick of It

If you saw my favorite movie of last year, In the Loop, you have some idea of the hapless world of government bureaucracy created for The Thick of It. The show was conceived by Armando Iannucci, who directed the film based on his previous work. It takes place in a made-up government agency, but the tone is all about verisimilitude: shaky cameras and overlapping dialogue. The show's about how the shaky relationship between rhetoric, policy and the media. Peter Capaldi plays a super-feared uber-spinmeister for the New Labour government, who rips into some of the most insanely profane tirades I've ever seen on any screen. Another show that is, in my opinion, about as well-written as television gets. Insightful and hilarious.

The Newsroom

This small Canadian show was a brilliant precedent to The Office and Curb Your Enthusiasm. Ken Finkleman, whose second-best credit is writing and directing Airplane 2 (to say nothing of Grease 2 and Who's That Girl?), created and starred in this show, another news satire. This one's a lot quieter - a dry sitcom in the mold of Larry Sanders, set in a local CBC television news operation. All the characters are fantastic, but Finkleman's selfish, arrogant, foolish lead is one of the best TV characters I've ever seen. The show gets crazy in the later episodes (though still enjoyable), but the earlier shows are some of the funniest TV around. Seasons of the show are available on DVD in the US.

The Trailer Park Boys

I've already done two Sound of Young America interviews about this show - one with its creator and director, Mike Clattenburg, and one with the stars, Ricky, Julian and Bubbles. It's a very low-budget Canadian faux-documentary series about the titular boys. The comedy is simple: they get into trouble, they spout malapropisms, they drink heavily, they scheme. The characters are so finely drawn, sweet and compelling, though, that it transcends anything you might imagine from hearing that description. The show's available on DVD in the US of A, and airs on Direct TV, as well.

Peep Show

You may remember David Mitchell's appearance on The Sound of Young America a year or so ago. He's half of the comedy team Mitchell & Webb, who also created several very funny sketch series for UK TV. Their best work, though, is as actors on the sitcom Peep Show. The conceit of the show is that it's all shot in POV - which quickly gets old, but then fades into the background. Really, it's an odd-couple comedy with an extra dose of awkward situations. The characters are finely rendered and lovable, and the writing is fantastic. You can watch the series on Hulu, free.

Loudon Wainwright III Interview on The Sound of Young America

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Loudon Wainwright III

Loudon Wainwright III is an accomplished singer-songwriter, an occasional actor, and the scion of a musical family. Three of his children - Martha Wainwright, Rufus Wainwright and Lucy Wainwright Roche are professional musicians.

Loudon Wainwright's career began in the 1960s, and he's earned a passionately devoted following over the past 40 years. Among those fans is Judd Apatow, who's cast Wainwright in several projects, including Undeclared and Knocked Up (for which he also wrote the soundtrack). His new album, High Wide & Handsome: The Charlie Poole Project, is a tribute to early country music legend Charlie Poole, featuring both covers of songs Poole made famous and original music inspired by Poole.

Robin Thicke f. Lil Wayne - Shooter

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Shooter was one of my favorite tracks off of Robin Thicke's fantastic first album Cherry Blue Skies (later retitled A Beautiful World). The album was a total flop. But apparently Lil Wayne liked it as much as I did, and he started rapping in his car over the bridges and breaks and outro, and decided to call Robin Thicke and ask if he could put it on his record. Which is pretty awesome, in my book. This all went down two or three years ago, but I didn't realize it every had a video.

Also: does this video mean Robin Thicke has a motorcycle in his living room? What's that about?

Me talking about me.

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Our Podthoughts correspondent, Colin Marshall, hosts a public radio show himself called The Marketplace of Ideas. A while ago, he had me on the show, and we had a pretty in-depth discussion of The Sound of Young America and what I do. I really thought Colin did a great job, and if you want to learn about what goes on behind the curtains of my mind, it's a great place to start.

Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: The World in Words

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FULL DISCLOSURE: As the astute among you have already realized, The World in Words [RSS] [iTunes] is a program from Public Radio International. The Sound of Young America is, of course, also a program from Public Radio International. While your Podthinker has not, in any way, been "strongarmed" into forcing his critical eye to describe a wide arc around other PRI podcasts, he would rather not go stirring up trouble by publicly slagging off one PRI show on the web site of another's. If he didn't have anything nice to say about a PRI podcast up for review, he'd simply not say anything at all.

Which means that this one must be good. It certainly takes on a more-than-suitable mission for podcasts, or for audio media of any kind, since they're made up of little else but words. Plus, issues of language make for demonstrably successful subject matter: witness, for instance, the implausible popularity of Grammar Girl. But that show would seem to play more to listeners' linguistic insecurity, where The World in Words aims squarely at their linguistic curiosity. Having sprouted off the surface of PRI's megabehemoth news program The World, which contributors refer to as "the big show," the podcast takes its sense of observant globalism and applies it to the variations and various strangenesses in how certain chunks of humanity talk to certain other chunks of humanity.

While language itself may strike some as an odd topic on which to spend half an hour a week, the show seems to impose no limits on its mandate within the realm of the spoken word. Host Patrick Cox presents segments on chop suey, Windows in obscure African languages, cockney ATMs, wine labels in Liverpudlian, which letters one can be jailed for using in Turkey and, naturally, the glory and pathos (mostly pathos) of Esperanto. These bites of verbal fascination are presented in what your Podthinker has come to call "High Public Radio" style, with its panoply of multiethnic and multinational voices, its chronological compressedness, its "sound-richness" and its mannered presenter. But being a podcast, it's seemingly allowed a tad more breathing room for the unusual, such as when Cox plays a 1/8" cassette from 1990 which contains an old college radio piece of his on the inexplicable plague of American Anglophilia. (Hint: it's got to do with the way those lovable Brits — such as Cox himself! — talk.)

The show thus fulfills its mission of dishing out a bit of interestingness for everyone — if, indeed, it took up such a mission in the first place — but, like many podcasts spawned from mainstream public radio, it goes down a bit too smoothly for comfort. There's room for more experimentalism, more risks taken, more time spent, a chance yet for the program to go, as the kids say, nxtlvl. But that aside, its certainly racks up more than enough points in the charm department, many of which are scored by the regular "Eating Sideways" segment, where Cox discusses the unusual phrases for normal things you find in seeming every language but English. Without this feature, I probably still wouldn't know that the Danish refer to hangovers as, quite literally and appropriately, a bunch of lumberlacks sawing away inside one's head. And without the main content of The World in Words, nor would I ever have heard Chinese teenagers phonetically reciting Obama's acceptance speech, either.

Vital stats:
Format: neat language stuff
Duration: ~30m
Frequency: weekly, or just about
Archive available on iTunes: all

[Got a podcast to suggest for Podthoughts coverage or any other sort of question and/or comment for Podthinker Colin Marshall? colinjmarshall at gmail.]

Matt Braunger on Letterman

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Jordan, Jesse, Go! Episode 123: Do I Sound Like A Musical Robot?

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Guests: 
Jim Real
Guests: 
Mariel Reyes

Jesse and Jordan discuss the Sundance Film Festival, play Would You Rather with Jim Real, "The Master of Would You Rather," and decide what can Hang It Up and what can Keep It Up with outgoing intern Mariel Reyes.

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