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Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: "The /Filmcast"

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Long before your Podthinker became a Podthinker, his esteemed predecessor Ian Brill wrote up a movie podcast called Battleship Pretension. Having been sold on the show by that very review, it has thus been your Podthinker's goal to dig up an equally good program on matters cinematic to recommend. When Tyler and David, co-captiains of the good ship Pretension, mentioned that they'd made a guest appearance on The /Filmcast [iTunes link], said /Filmcast emerged as a promising contender.

Is it as recommendable as Battleship Pretension? Quite difficult to say, since never have two podcasts that share a subject been so different in form. Where BP has the purity of two dudes in the same room simply straight-talking about the cinema every week, T/FC is a more exotic, technological beast, combining Skype-based group film discussion with news, reviews, interviews and even movie commentaries. It's like some crazy Horn of Plenty of film talk, an ever-more-various variety show that pushes the boundaries of what can be accomplished in the movie-chat-podcast form.

The plus side is that, what with all the elements, features and wingdings, every film geek's going to find something to love. On the minus side, some of the show's branches necessarily prove sturdier than the others. Downloading an episode at random — actually a semi-episode, since each is broken up into multiple files — you'll get one of a few basic entertainments. One is what I call the "episode head", where the group get together and first mention what they've seen recently, then speculate about the latest word from the film world, then commence arguing out the merits and/or demerits of a single motion picture in current theatrical release, such as Duplicity [MP3], Observe and Report [MP3] or Crank 2: High Voltage [MP3].

As was always the case with Siskel and Ebert, the reviews are as fun as the disagreement is strong. This was well-illustrated on Tyler and David's guest appearance, when everyone but them liked the (pretty lame-sounding) State of Play [MP3]. (If there's a weakness to the discussions, it's that the usual group gives way too much slack to "popcorn" movies.) Many others from the internet film scene also stop by to participate: people from Rotten Tomatoes, people from the Independent Film Channel, people from C.H.U.D., that sort of thing. But things don't truly get interesting until the free-form "/Filmcast: After Dark" segments start up, when guards are let down, spoiler cautions are thrown to the wind and (one assumes) the drinks start flowing. (It's especially nice to hear the group's marginally irritating spoiler fixation stop, since, really, any movie that's literally spoiled by revealing its plot points probably isn't worth watching to begin with.)

All that said and your Podthinker hasn't even gotten to The /Filmcast's interviews, where host David Chen turns roving reporter, going around and conversing with the neato filmmakers of our time like Brick director Rian Johnson [MP3] and Sin Nombre director Cary Fukunaga [MP3]. Though a bit on the short side, the interviews are informative nonetheless. And speaking of, any more information in this column — and much more could be said about such a full-featured podcast — and the short side will recede into the distance, never to be seen again. Even if this isn't your Podthinker's Battleship Pretension, it's got enough variety and experimental brio to extract admiration from any willing cinephile.

(Oh, and they take listener calls, too.)

Vital stats:
Format: film discussion, film reviews, film interviews, film news
Running since: May 2008
Duration: 20m-2h (depending on the segment)
Frequency: one segment every two, three or four days
Archive available on iTunes: last 70 segments

[Fun fact: Podthinker Colin Marshall also writes a film column. Argue with his impeccable points at colinjmarshall at gmail, discuss Podthoughts on the forum here or submit your own podcast for the next by-Max-Funsters column here.]

The Sound of Young America: Five Million Downloads

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The Sound of Young America had its five millionth download this week.

We've been podcasting for almost five years now, and while our growth has never been exponential, it has been steady that whole time.

Five years ago, The Sound was the college radio show I held onto for too long. Now, it's my full-time living, and I even pay other people to help me with it. It's not just a popular podcast, it's also on public radio stations around the country.

I'm feeling very proud of the little show that could!

My thanks to you who have been so supportive, and have kept me chipping away at this thing even when I thought maybe I should just go to business school or something.

Behind Him All The Way

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Guests: 
Eugene O'Neill

Big Time Gene O'Neill joins Jesse and Jordan for discussion of marathons, prom and more.

Download This Episode (MP3 Link)
Discuss the episode on the forum
Subscribe in iTunes / Podcast Feed

ACTION ITEMS:
* No special action items this week.

CONTINUING ACTION ITEMS:

* 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.
* Need advice? ASK JUANITA!
* Share your Momentous Occasions and Moments of Shame!

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

Our theme music: "Love You" by The Free Design, courtesy of The Free Design and Light in the Attic Records

Aziz Ansari on Kimmel

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Aziz Ansari has been a highlight of Parks & Recreation so far, and he's hilarious in this appearance on Kimmel.

A Pledge Drive Treat

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The Sound of Young America: TV Pilot from Jesse Thorn on Vimeo.

Here's a pledge drive treat.

Last year, I made a pilot for Current. They were planning an expansion into half hour programming, and were looking for an interview show that spoke to months their demographic. They were willing to do something without claiming any ownership of my IP, and really respected and got what I was up to. It was a great fit.

We put together this pilot (Mark Rinehart produced, ably), but by the time we'd finished, there'd been an administration change at Current, and they ended up with a very different prime-time programming plan. So we had this pilot, but there was nothing they could do with it. The parting was amicable.

We taped two radio interviews -- one with Patton Oswalt, then some later one with Ben Karlin. A few months after that, we wrote and taped some interstitial pieces in a day here in LA, including a mini-interview with the one and only Maria Bamford. I actually think the show came out pretty neat. Enjoy!
You can download the show directly with this link.

The Third Floor on The Sound of Young America

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The 3rd Floor on The Sound of Young America from Jesse Thorn on Vimeo.

Here's the final video from our Portland Sound of Young America show.

Portland's own Third Floor sketch comedy.

Baseball Card Movie

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No sooner do I post about the Internets Celebrities than Cas, their director, posts this great short documentary he made about sports card collectors.

When I was a kid, I was a huge baseball card nut. My favorite player was Mark Grace, and somewhere in my mom's basement is my collection of Mark Grace cards -- I think I got to three hundred before the number of sets each year really exploded in the mid 90s.

I'm still fixated on stuff -- I love thrift stores and garage sales and estate sales and ebay -- but I'm not a collector anymore. Being a collector has a special satisfaction, but it also never ends. I'm glad to have let it go.

MaxFunDrive 2009: The Halfway Point

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We're midway through the third annual MaxFunDrive, and while we're not quite printing money, we're doing great. Here are a few highlights:

We've had a total of 271 new donations, including existing donors who raised their monthly gifts. That's most of the way to our base goal of 300, and more than halfway to our "things are going great!" goal of 500.

Of those, 223 have been monthly donations, which sustain the day-to-day operations of MaximumFun.org. Leading the way have been Doug Stewart, who became our first Jesse's Golden Eagle at $200 per month, and Rebecca O'Malley, who became our first Jordan's Platinum Angel at $100 per month.

Our monthly income has been increased enough to meet our first goal: an offer to our editor to come on for an extra day a week. If it's accepted, it'll mean more original Sound of Young America content, including comedy, commentaries and reviews.

We've had some really awesome podcasts, which I've tried hard not to clutter too much with pledge drive chatter.

Here's the plan for the coming week:

500 new donors seems well within our grasp. I don't think it's unreasonable to shoot for eight or ten percent of listeners paying for the show, and we're getting closer to that now.

We'll have more awesome shows, including a big blowout JJGo and a couple of really great Sound of Young America interviews.

We're almost out of special pledge gifts, so we'll be announcing a really awesome new gift for folks who give $10 or more per month in the second half of the drive.

There's a great thread on the forum about the drive, where you should feel free to ask any questions you have. You can also of course use the contact link at the bottom of the page.

And above all: my thanks to all those who've given so far!

The Irish Breakfast Milkshake

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I'm a milkshake enthusiast, always have been, so when I saw a cookbook called "Thoroughly Modern Milkshakes" in a book catalog a few months ago, I made sure to ask for a review copy. After all, who knows when The Sound of Young America might turn into The Splendid Table?

The book is really lovely, and author Adam Reid includes tons of amazing milkshakes, from the simple to the absurd. Last night, I made a cucumber lemon mint shake, and that was after looking for a relatively simple recipe. I couldn't wrap my head around Sweet Corn & Basil or Blackberry Lavender.

My favorite shake I've made from the book so far was a very simple one -- one that I actually managed from stuff I had sitting around my house.

It's called The Irish Breakfast Milkshake. There are no bangers or fried potatoes in it -- it's actually a tea shake.

It's very simple to make.

You start by steeping four black tea bags in about four ounces of boiling water. Then take out (and squeeze out!) the bags, and refrigerate the super-tea you've made until it's cool (half an hour or so).

In the blender, mix your tea with about eight scoops of french vanilla ice cream and about an ounce of honey. Be sure to use a spatula to push it down and mix it up a bit between whooshes of the blender.

The vanilla ice cream and the complex tea flavor play so wonderfully together, and that lovely honey sweetness is a perfect crowning touch. Super easy, super delicious.

All hail Thoroughly Modern Milkshakes!

Swamp Dogg on Studio 360

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Our pal Swamp Dogg on our pal Kurt Andersen's great show Studio 360.

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