The Blog of Young America

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"End racism... in about an hour!"

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Our old pal W. Kamau Bell (remember his piece Sarah Silverman is Racist?) has a gala show coming up in the East Bay (that's the San Francisco Bay Area, sorry Tampa) called The W. Kamau Bell Curve. Kamau's a great comic, but I rarely post show-specific notices here, and I wouldn't have in this instance if it weren't for this policy: "Tickets $20; bring a friend of another race and your friend gets in free."

Now if that's not an awesome ticketing policy, I don't know what is.

The show's are March 1st and 2nd at the JCC East Bay in Berkeley. Buy your tickets online here.

Behind the Scenes with Diablo Cody

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From Jackie Clarke and Olde English. Look: I liked Juno. But this is fucking hilarious.

John Mulaney in San Francisco

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I don't usually plug local comedy shows on the blog, at least ones in which I'm not involved as a sponsor, but I thought I'd make an exception. New York comic John Mulaney will be co-headlining San Francisco's Punchline tonight through Saturday, and he's dynamite. He's the best kind of alternative comic -- the kind that takes the craft seriously and has lots and lots of great, suprising jokes. I'd compare him maybe to Dana Gould, another comic who blends the worlds of traditional club comedy and alternative stuff. John takes well-grounded premises and spins them out until they're surprisingly silly, but never self-indulgent. He's a very young guy, younger maybe than me I think, and he's still polishing his performance style, but he'll be a big name in comedy if he doesn't quit to be a big-money writer. I've heard good things about his co-headliner Amy Schumer as well. The Punchline is a great club in which to see a show, and if you're lucky, you might run into MaxFunster/sometime doorman Bucky Sinister.

Tickets available online here.

Photo by Anya Garrett

Headphone Reccomendations

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One of the odd things about being a podcaster is that people are always asking you about sound stuff. I'm not really an engineer, but I have taken the time to review the market, and consider the various options.

If you're a Jordan, Jesse GO! listener, you probably already know how much I like my Zune (though if I was going to spend $300 rather than $90, I would have bought an iPod, which is maybe marginally better).

But what about headphones?

If you're looking for something pretty inexpensive and lightweight, I heartily recommend the Koss Portpro (pictured above). They cost about $40, they're light, they fold up, and they sound fantastic. Great bass response and really clear through the spectrum. Wonderful headphones. They also come with a pretty much unconditional lifetime guarantee.

If you're looking for higher-end listening headphones, the brand most people know is Sennheiser. I have nothing against Sennheiser -- in fact, my on-air headphones are Sennheiser (they were on sale), but they're a bit expensive for what you get, no matter what your price range is.

If you want amazing, rich, beautiful sound for a shockingly low price, check out Grado. The SR-60 and SR-80 are headphones that will shock you with the warmth and richness of their sound. You can get either one for less than $100 -- the SR-80 is a bit bigger, which enhances bass response. These are headphones that aren't about marketing, they're about sound, and boy do they sound great. They probably don't sell Grados at your local Best Buy or Circuit City, but you can of course get them online (try Audio Advisor), and they're also available at Cambridge Soundworks and other stereo stores. Seriously, listening to music on headphones like this is an entirely different experience. The only downside is that since iPods are designed to drive those tiny earbuds, they don't generate a big signal, so if you choose to use them with your iPod, you might have to give up loud listening. Or get a little headphone amp.

Podcast: Colin Hay of Men at Work

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Show: 
Bullseye

Colin Hay is a Los Angeles-based, Scotland-born Australia-bred singer-songwriter. In the 1980s, he was the frontman of the band Men at Work, and headlined festivals before hundreds of thousands of fans. Today, he performs at Los Angeles nightclubs like Largo, and is known for tightly-crafted songs and hilarious stage banter as much as for his former band. This second career has led to numerous Hay songs being placed in film and television, including one on the soundtrack to the film "Garden State." He's also brought an autobiographical stage show to the Edinborough Fringe Festival. His new album is called "Are You Lookin' At Me?"

High-quality downloads of his live tunes (right click and "save target as"):
Overkill
Are You Looking At Me?
I Wish I Was Still Drinking

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You might also enjoy these past interview programs:
Matmos
Kenna
Greg Saunier of Deerhoof

Me on G4TV's Attack of the Show

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Here I am visiting G4TV's Attack of the Show on Friday (they actually changed the name of th program to "Attack of Jesse's Enormous Head"). Everyone was really nice, especially our old pal Chris Hardwick and host Kevin Pereira, who is a big TSOYA fan, and threatened to prove it by busting out his iPhone and playing an episode.

Being on live TV is weird and hard, and you can see me sputtering a bit, but it all worked out OK. Maybe I'll be back sometime!

In conclusion, if you have a TV show, yes, I will be on it, just ask.

Podcast: JJGo Ep 51: Balls & Calls

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This week on the show Jesse and Jordan discuss Jordan's kidney stones, which includes laughing a lot at the word "balls." Plus: the winner of the showdown is announced!

ACTION ITEMS:

* What should Jesse and Jordan do with the $20?
* Got a creative interpretation of JJGo? Call it in and we'll greenlight it or... whatever the opposite of greenlighting is!
* What should be the new showdown topic? Discuss here.

CONTINUING ACTION ITEMS:

* Review the show on iTunes.
* Do you have a dispute Judge John Hodgman can solve on a future broadcast? Email it to us! Put Judge John in the subject line.
* Have personal questions for Jesse and Jordan? Call 206-984-4FUN and tell us what they are!
* Would you like to play Would You Rather with us on a future episode? Email us or give us a call at 206-984-4FUN.

Call 206-984-4FUN to share your thoughts on these ACTION ITEMS.

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Podthoughts by Ian Brill: "In Our Time"

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When I was a teenager I watched a lot of C-SPAN. I know that sounds very weird, that at the time when most people were drinking and partying I was watching Congressional debates on allocating funds towards soybean farmers. What I valued most valued C-SPAN and C-SPAN2 (how lucky was I to live in a house with such a cable package!) was that it was and is an alternative to the braying disorder that is most of television. My favorite shows was Booknotes, the uninterrupted hour on Sunday where Brian Lamb and a single author spoke about the author's latest book, always non-fiction. Short of public radio I could never witness discussion that was calm and intelligent like that on Booknotes and elsewhere on C-SPAN.

Thanks to the international language that is podcasting I have found another place that features such an exchange of ideas. Every week the BBC posts the latest episode of the weekly Radio 4 program In Our Time (iTunes link) with Melvyn Bragg, who with a name like that could have little choice in life but to host an intellectual BBC radio show. In Our Time is dryer than even Booknotes, which at least opened and closed each show with a bit of classical music. The 41 minute show opens with Bragg saying saying "hello" to us and giving a quick introduction on the subject of the week. While it's pretty easy to describe what most podcast are abouts with In Our Time the general summarization I can give you is that it's about, and I chose every word here carefully, important stuff. The current show of this week is the history of the Statue of Liberty. Past subjects include Plate Tectonics, The Fibonacci Sequence and Antimatter. The goal of the show is clearly to educate anyone with a radio or access to the Internet of what is around us but of which we know little about. If you've forgotten what you've learned about The Sassanain Empire from that one history class at college, if you ever learned about it at all, In Our Time is here to give you an healthy overview of the subject.

In Our Time's format is as rigid as its choice of subject matter is fluid. Bragg hosts three experts on the week's subject, usually professors. He asks pointed questions to each creating a clear portrait of the subject, examining the complexities as the show goes on. Bragg's talents as a host shines when he's juggling the points-of-view of three tremendously learned individuals. He keeps everything tight but nothing ever feels rushed.

For all its achievement I fear In Our Time might lost something in the podcast format. I'm one of those people who usually listens to podcasts while doing something else, be it cooking or riding the bus. The show is so dry that I find my concentration easily distracted and I end up missing large segments of conversation if I'm in the middle of something. Maybe that's the fault of my own poor attention span although I rarely find this happening with other podcasts I listen to. You do have to devote your time to In Our Time but it is worth it.

The Sound of Young America on Current: Patton Oswalt

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You may or may not be familiar with Current. It's a news-and-information cable channel, started by Al Gore & Friends a few years ago to cater to younger audiences. The channel broadcasts what they call "pods," which are essentiall 3-5 minute news stories, often contributed by viewers, which are bracketed by VJ-like hosts. Current approached me a few months ago about putting together a pilot for a TV version of The Sound of Young America, and what you see above is the result.

We tried to keep it very simple and true to the spirit of the radio show and podcast. It's shot in my apartment, and they're actually shooting a radio interview. As you can see, they work in a lot of other visuals and so forth, as well. I was really impressed by the excitement producer Mark Reinhardt and his team managed to introduce into what's essentially a pair of talking heads.

What do you think? Current are as happy with the product as I am, and it looks like we'll be doing more of these in the future.

(In case anyone's worried, while Current will probably end up owning the TV productions, they won't get any control or rights to anything other than that, including any future TSOYA video projects. They've been really good about understanding my desire to control my work, and I feel very good about the partnership.)

Improv Everywhere on Nightline

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Can you spot the Sound of Young America t-shirt?

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