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Noz's Best Raps, 2011

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Sound of Young America contributor Andrew Noz just dropped off his top 50 rap singles of 2011. I have to admit that I look forward to this list every year.

Above is one of my favorites of the year, Pete Rock's "Roses," with Smif & Wessun and Freeway. Noz's top pick this year is a natural, N*ggas in Paris.

Judge John Hodgman Episode 45: Apocalypse Row


Pop Quiz: The super-pocalypse is imminent --the zombies have already crawled out of their graves and infiltrated the capitol. Volcanic earthquakes have devoured the coastal cities in flames and you realize you’re no longer safe in your home. Where do you go?

Carrie and her husband Phillip are at odds like billionaires and the 99%. The dispute of whether or not to Occupy Wal-Mart is at such a fever-pitch the four horseman are breaking a sweat. Phillip has a military background and believes that the most logical plan is to take control of a nearby Wal-Mart which is fully stocked with food, ammunition and has cold storage. It’s also easily defensible.

Carrie, on the other hand, feels that a more holistic approach to fleeing the locust swarm is the answer. She posits that Wal-Mart on Black Friday is already like the rapture and that the best medicine is to stay away. With abundant farmland and plenty of Natural Resources nearby, a return to nature will provide a safe haven.

Should they batten down the hatches and roll back the prices or live off the valley in the shadow of death? Only one brave man (who’s actually written a book about just this sort of thing) can decide! Judge-ment-Day John Hodgman


Comedy: Rob Baedeker with "What's In Your Box" on The Sound of Young America

Rob Baedeker

Our contributor Rob Baedeker joins us to talk about his newest project and the organic food kick he's on. What better way to learn about his organic farm and community sustained agriculture than to hear the letter from his latest CSA box? Listen in to hear "What's In Your Box?"

Rob Baedeker is a freelance writer based in San Francisco and a member of the comedy group Kasper Hauser.

Stop Podcasting Yourself 195 - Michelle Shaughnessy

Michelle Shaughnessy

Comedian Michelle Shaughnessy joins us to talk about Ghost, drag racing, and fake eyelashes.

Download episode 195 here. (right-click)

Brought to you by:

(click here for the full list of sponsors)

My Brother, My Brother and Me 83: Face 2 Face 3: Tokyo Drift

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We're live in Austin for the first part of our two-show comedy extravaganza. As it turns out, everything is bigger in Texas, and boy, does that include shame. Come, listen to our ill-conceived goofs and monkeyshines.

Jordan returns to "The Indoor Kids"


Jordan is back this week on the wonderful gaming podcast "The Indoor Kids." According to Jordan's own summary of the episode, "Kumail, Emily and I talk lost games, judge-related pornography and games to play when you’re unemployed."

Can't beat that. Check it out here.

Jordan, Jesse, Go! Episode 203: Bone Manor with Maria Thayer


Maria Thayer from Eagleheart and Strangers With Candy--among others-- joins Jordan and Jesse in the Bone Manor to talk feelings. Like how you feel when you see Bill Murray, being faced with the body of your life's work and Ryan Gosling.

Food Critic Jonathan Gold: Interview on The Sound of Young America

Photo credit Anne Fishbein
Jonathan Gold

The Pulitzer Prize-winning food critic Jonathan Gold joins us to talk about -- what else? -- food. With his enthusiastic and equal opportunity criticism, he's become known as the authority on where and what to eat in Los Angeles.

He talks to us about how he manages the day to day eating, the one food fear he just can't overcome, his thoughts and high and low dining and more. Jonathan is also the author of the highly regarded food guide to LA, Counter Intelligence, which details some of his best food discoveries.

Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: A Bit of a Chat with Ken Plume


Vital stats:
Format: long-form phone-style conversations, often in extended cycles
Episode duration: 10m-3h45m
Frequency: 5-10 per month

Each podcast has its own ideal listening strategy. You Podthink about a different podcast every week, you learn that. Sometimes you listen new episodes to old episodes, sometimes old to new, sometimes at random, and sometimes with an eye toward maximizing variety. But A Bit of a Chat with Ken Plume [iTunes] gave me trouble. So many guests! So many conversations! So many hours! What sample of all this talk could give the Podthinking mill just the right grist? No organizing principle seemed forthcoming, but then one appeared as if by providence: D.C. Pierson.

You may know D.C Pierson as a two-time guest on JJGO!, or maybe you’ve heard him on Get Up on This, or maybe you’ve heard him The Anytime Show, the podcast of his Derrick Comedy-, Mystery Team-, and room-mate Dominic Dierkes. Even without a podcast of his own, D.C. Pierson shows up on iTunes as having appeared on no fewer than fifteen different shows — many of which I happen to have downloaded — and that’s just the ones that spell his name right.

But whereas listening to D.C. Pierson on any of those other shows might take an hour two or three over a couple episodes, listening to D.C. Pierson on A Bit of a Chat demands nearly ten hours over four episodes. The format stays pretty rigorous that whole time, too: host Ken Plume calls up the actor/comedian/novelist on Skype and they talk about old-time radio announcers, Snood, box-set rock-rarity compilations, grandparental high school theater attendance, the difficulties of imitating everybody except Rip Torn, F for Fake, early Nickelodeon programming, the myriad disappointments of NYU, the myriad disappointments of the more recent Star Wars films, existentialist Pokémon, and Ed Wynn.

Ignore all the podcast trappings, and you soon realize that Plume and D.C. Pierson are doing exactly what you do on two- to three-hour phone conversations with your friends: tellin’ tales, crackin’ wise, brainstormin’ ideas. In other words, bullshittin’. The inherently voyeuristic quality of this kind of listening separates this show from others in the one-on-one conversation category, and the fact that certain guests reappear so often and at such length almost makes it feel like it has a different form entirely. If you like Paul F. Tompkins, you can get an hour of him and Ken Plume in January 2009, another hour in August 2010, and another hour on top of that from last month. Or maybe your poison’s Tom Scharpling? In that case, get ready to hear over five hours of him talking to Ken Plume over the past couple years.

Listen to the guests that turn up most often — five visits from Molly Lewis, four from Cassie St. Onge, four from Mike Phirman, four from Rebecca Watson — and you develop an ear for the particular shapes, patterns, and themes that recur in their conversations. Ken Plume’s talks with D.C. Pierson, for example, tend to inevitably work they way back to the stories of D.C.’s high school relationships that went awry. But since you get different details, jokes, and fanciful tangents about these failed young courtships every time, you kind of start to feel like those proverbial blind men collectively feeling out the shape of an elephant, but through earbuds.

So who is Ken Plume, anyway? I still don’t really know. I gather that he produces SModcast — one of those shows that hasn’t featured D.C. Pierson — that he’s probably in his mid-thirties, and that he has no inhibitions about displaying his thorough knowledge of wonky details about mainstream movies, music, and television of the late seventies and early eighties. (You may have encountered this type of personality in podcasting before.) If you want to hear his skills put up against longtime celebrities, why not listen to his less epic one-offs with guests like Ricky Gervais [MP3], Paul Feig [MP3], and Ernest Borgnine [MP3]? Is it realistic expect Ernest Borgnine to return to A Bit of a Chat several more times and gradually pour his heart out by way of ill-fated dating stories? Yes it is.

[Podthinker Colin Marshall also happens to host and produce The Marketplace of Ideas [iTunes], a public radio show and podcast dedicated to in-depth cultural conversation. Please hire him for something.]

Interview: Jon Ronson


Filmmaker, author and humorist Jon Ronson just released a fascinating new ebook about ordinary individuals who are trying to live extraordinary secret double lives: they are donning extreme costumes and taking to the streets to fight crime as real-life superheroes. The book, The Amazing Adventures of Phoenix Jones: And the Less Amazing Adventures of Some Other Real-Life Superheroes is available for download from Amazon and other ebook retailers. It is a quick-paced and engaging read that I know you folks will enjoy.

Jon was kind enough to answer a few questions for us about the book and the superheroes he encountered during its creation.

Rebecca O’Malley (RO): How did you first become aware of the real-life superhero movement?

Jon Ronson (JR): It was Twitter. There was a flurry of tweets about Phoenix Jones. Someone from Seattle tweeted about how proud they were of their city that it could create something as fabulously insane as Phoenix.

So I watched a short CNN segment about him, and kind of knew that I was destined to go on patrol with him. He just felt like someone waiting to be written about by me. He was a mix of genuinely inspiring, mysterious, awesome, but also kind of absurd. I really liked that combination.

RO: How difficult is it to track down and gain the trust of someone who is trying to keep his identity a secret?

JR: It was tough. I had to go through an emissary, Peter Tangen, whose own origin story is amazing. Peter is a Hollywood studio photographer. He shot the movie poster for Spiderman. When he learnt that there were people doing in real life what Tobey Maguire was only pretending to do on a film set, it unlocked something profound in him. He became compelled to become their official photographer and media advisor. So whenever I wanted to talk to Phoenix, I had to approach Peter Tangen.

RO: You’ve written about psychology before, so I’m sure some of your expertise in that area must have influenced how you viewed the real-life superheroes. What do you think motivates these individuals to create these identities and seek out danger? Boredom? Altruism? Swagger? Or just a need for excitement and attention?

JR: All four of those things!

RO: Do you have a personal opinion as to whether it is appropriate for these individuals to attempt to intervene in situations that are normally kept solely in the realm of the police?

JR: Well, I'm a liberal, so I'm instinctively against the idea of what's basically a form of libertarian vigilanteism. But you can't help falling for Phoenix when you hang out with him. He's so goofily charming and inspiring and charismatic, your sagacity goes out of the window a little. You kind of fall in love with him.

RO: Do you believe that they are actually making the streets safer?

JR: I think they perform acts of derring-do that improve people's lives, yes. But I also think they're so addicted to doing good, they'll sometimes leap into a situation that they oughtn't. One time Phoenix tried to give a taco to a drunk driver to sober him up. The drunk driver refused it. Phoenix insisted. The drunk driver got violent. Phoenix pulled out his taser... So sometimes things will inadvertently escalate.

RO: There were a few times in the story when the would-be superheroes seem very disappointed that their evening patrol did not result in the discovery of any ongoing crime. What did you make of that? Does it expose something about their desire for either excitement or notoriety?

JR: Yes. It's a bit of a worrying character trait. One time they started hassling some wizened old addicts at a bus stop at 3am in Seattle. I was thinking, "Leave them alone. They'll be gone by the time the daytime people arrive."

In the middle of my adventures with Phoenix I had dinner one night in New York with Ira Glass. I was telling him all this stuff, how I thought they should leave the crack addicts alone, but I was probably mainly thinking that because I'm scared of confrontation, and Ira said, "Your position obviates the need for superheroes."

I don’t want to obviate the need for superheroes! But I do think they should be careful out there.

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