The Blog of Young America

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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!

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* What should Jesse and Jordan do with the $20?
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* What should be the new showdown topic? Discuss here.

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* Review the show on iTunes.
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* 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.

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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?

Shellac in Chicago, photographed by Christopher Rogers

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Shortly after Steve Albini was a guest on our live show in Chicago, his band, Shellac rocked the city live in concert. Luckily for us, my friend Christopher Rogers was in attendance, and took some really beautiful photographs that I wanted to share with you. Some samples above, or check out Chris' Flickr stream here. Special bonus: some nice shots of the Kids in the Hall reunion at SF Sketchfest!

Ape Lad in the New Yorker

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File this one under "posts I would have made this weekend, only I was moving."

Imagine my surprise when I opened my New Yorker this week, only to see an illustration in the inimitable style of MaxFunster Ape Lad. I looked at the credits, and yes indeedy, it was our very own Floridian superfan. In The New Yorker's august pages, of course, he is known by his guvmint name, Adam Koford. Adam was the winner of a contest to re-imagine the magazine's venerable mascot, Eustace Tilley.

Above is the image that's reprinted in this week's magazine. Below is an image that was *also* a winner, but was not among the few featured in print. That makes Ape Lad a DOUBLE WINNER!

Podcast: Seven Second Delay with Ken Freedman and Andy Breckman

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Show: 
Bullseye


Ken Freedman and Andy Breckman are the hosts of Seven Second Delay on WFMU, the legendary freeform radio station in Jersey City, New Jersey. For the past fifteen years, they've picked a "radio stunt" each week, then tried to execute it in just one hour of live airtime. They've chain-translated a Village Voice S&M personal add through 15 languages, then back into English, written the ultimate New York Times "Metropolitan Diary" column entry, then gotten it published, and failed more times than they can count.

When they're not on-air, Freedman serves as the station's manager. Breckman is a noted comedy writer, having written for David Letterman and Saturday Night Live (he penned the classic "White Like Me" sketch), and he is creator and showrunner of USA network's Monk.

The folks behind the Seven Second Delay blog have put together this guide to the show for listeners of TSOYA, including links to the various programs referenced during our interview. Thanks!

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If you enjoyed this show, try these ones:
Tom Scharpling and Jon Wurster
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Dave Hill is Looking for Love

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The always-awesome Dave Hill is looking for love in all the wrong places this Valentine's day.

Podthoughts by Ian Brill: "Philosophy Bites"

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Scholars have labored endlessly over the works of philosophers such as Plato, Kirkegaard and Hobbes. Now those scholars must compress their findings into about eleven minutes for the podcast Philosophy Bites (iTunes link).

Living up to its name the show features bite sized interviews with professors and authors about various philosophers and philosophies. Hosts David Edmonds and Nigel Warburton start off with the most basic questions as to introduce that week’s topic. Listeners get a straight forward take on a particular idea that is often communicated as a vague concept. Near the end of certain interviews the questions do get tend to be a bit more challenging and insightful. Richard Norman, author of On Humanism, takes these interesting queries on how the behavior of celebrity atheists Richard Dawkins and Christopher Hitchens can both help and hurt how humanism is perceived by the greater world. The show still covers their topics in the most general sense but I’m glad to know there is an acknowledgment of the truly complicated thinking behind these subjects.

The best use of this podcast is if you’re a student and you are having trouble with a confusing philosophy class. Philosophy Bites gives you the most basic but still vital take on these very big, very daunting ideas about human culture.


A bite sized show deserves a bite sized review. This gives me a little time to mention that I’m setting up a Bay Area MaximumFun meet-up March 5th. We’ll meet 7 p.m. at the Edinburgh Castle. At 8 p.m., without even having to leave the place, we’ll see Mary Van Note’s Comedy Darling show featuring MaximumFun favorite Brent Weinbach! Be there, laugh and meet some people who are also into things that are awesome.

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