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John Roderick of The Long Winters: The Text Of Young America

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John Roderick is the lead vocalist and main songwriter for Seattle-based band The Long Winters. Roderick’s lyrics are razor sharp, highly sing-alongable, and often detail the sweetness and the struggle of relationships. In short, the man can write a mean pop song. The Long Winters is recording the follow-up to 2006's Putting The Days To Bed, due out in late spring 2010. I spoke to Roderick about the new record and the band's new, loose approach to the singing-songwriting exercise. As for the new sound, it's familiar, but not too familiar. But not too not familiar.

Chris Bowman: One thing that comes up again and again when speaking to creative types is procrastination. It’s ever present when trying to get things done. You allude to it in 13 Songs, the series documenting the creative process behind The Long Winters new record. What does procrastination mean to you?

John Roderick: I often get down on myself for procrastinating, chiding myself for laziness, calling myself a do-nothing, but then I'll have an intense burst of creativity seemingly out of nowhere. Procrastinating is very hard to distinguish from ruminating. I'd like to just call them synonymous and be done with it, but unfortunately the world works on deadlines and people want their favorite artists to make new stuff NOW!

I'm slow, I think about stuff a long time before I lift a finger, and I rewrite stuff that other people might consider finished. It looks like I'm avoiding work, and I joke about it, but I'm working.

To find out more about the new Long Winters record click Read More

Podcast: Coyle & Sharpe Episode 71: Mutant Creature Warfare

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Welcome to season two of Coyle & Sharpe: The Imposters! In the early 1960s, James P. Coyle and Mal Sharpe roamed the streets of San Francisco, microphone in hand, roping strangers into bizarre schemes and surreal stunts. These original recordings are from the Sharpe family archive, which is tended by Mal's daughter, Jennifer Sharpe. You can learn more about Coyle & Sharpe on their website or on MySpace. Their recent box set is These 2 Men Are Imposters.

On this episode: Coyle and Sharpe describe a secret weapon.

Put This On Episode One is here!

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Put This On, Episode 1: Denim from Put This On on Vimeo.

Thanks to the brilliance of Lonely Sandwich, we've got a pilot for Put This On. Lots of MaxFun donors also donated to support this project, to thanks to all of those folks. Be sure to subscribe to the blog, and if you know anybody in the apparel industry (or related) who wants to sponsor further episodes, be sure to let me know :).

Sodom's Got Em

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Looking forward to checking out Year One on DVD.

Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: "Wiretap"

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Can it really be this simple? Can one truly crank out top-tier radio comedy — hell, authentic Theater of the Mind — with only a recording studio and a telehybrid? Hosting CBC's Wiretap [iTunes] [XML], Jonathan Goldstein would seem to have proven that one can. At long last, podcast listeners such as your Podthinker can now download his shows and listen to them over and over and over again, oftentimes at one-third speed, in order to dissect, document and replicate exactly how he does it.

Perhaps some background. For years, your Podthinker heard about this program. Oh, Wiretap. You've got to hear Wiretap. Wiretap's so funny. Wiretap. Wiretap. Wiretap. The sell always came fast, hard and convincing — until, that is, it was revealed that the show wasn't available as a podcast. You mean you have to "tune in" at a "certain time" in order to receive the "radio waves" when the CBC chooses to "broacast" them? Yeah. Not likely. Sketchy unofficial podcast feeds would pop up every now and again, but, like a sugar-rushed kid at the Whack-a-Mole machine, the CBC would mallet them down as quickly as they rose. The CBC, you see is a big media organization, and as such is deeply, brow-furrowingly concerned about what has been "cleared for download," which is not a phrase found in the usual renegade new-media podcaster's lexicon. Though the segments missing from the final product indicate that they're still squarely concerned about this sort of thing, they have now, at long last, made Wiretap available as a legit, iTunes-subscribable podcast.

But with this podcast, your Podthinker has finally heard what all those fans go on and on and on about. Simply put, this show is damn funny, not that one would expect it from the Spartan-seeming setup. Though one-guy-on-the-phone-a-lot format feels as if it sprung straight from haste, necessity, impulse or some combination thereof, the years have honed the host and his fellow cast members' facility with it to a fine edge. "Irwin" [MP3], a representative recent segment, has Goldstein ring up his old grad school buddy of the same name. Irwin, played with the razor-sharp yet pathetically incompetent passive-aggressiveness that only David Rakoff can deliver, turns out to have left the broadcasting business for the ice cream truck business. But he doesn't have any cones. ("Presently I am... between cones.") Or bowls. ("Oh, we were never a bowl operation.") And he lives in his truck. And his young customers hate him.

"It's really interesting to me," Irwin fake-muses as children shout in the background. "I don't recall you being so judgmental."

"No, I'm not," insists Goldstein, desperately trying to explain himself. "I mean, you hear about a person who's living in an ice cream truck, and..."

Irwin cuts him off: "No, what you're hearing about is an entrepreneur. I can drive wherever I like, I eat all the ice cream I want, I've got that music which — you know, it's a cheerful melody. I'm a hero to boys and girls in the neighborhood..."

"I want my money back!" a girl interjects.

"I've been in talks with the Ben and Jerry folks," Irwin continues. "You might know them. They're only in ice cream too, Jonathan. You should feel sorry for them too."

"Ben and Jerry, the ice cream manufacturers?" Goldstein asks, surprised.

"Not that Ben and Jerry. It's not... entirely clear who has the rights to the name."

This exchange displays the sort of thing Wiretap is best at satirizing, which is hard to describe with precision but which might best be approximated with the phrase "that distinctly embarrassing combination of laziness and evasiveness." As a popular correspondent on This American Life, Goldstein has, your Podthinker would wager, seen a lot of this. Surrounded by a regular cast of shiftless pretenders and delusional hucksters of every variety, Goldstein the character — who might not be all that different from the Goldstein the fellow — just tries his best to make sense of all the nonsense, which never quite works out as one supposes he'd like. From his frustration comes our hilarity. Now, the show has other material too, and it's solid, but man, those phone conversations. They just don't come any funnier, or any more indicting of humanity's squirreliness.

Vital stats:
Format: telephone conversations of the comedic variety
Duration: ~30m; less when the CBC gets its boxers in a twist about "clearance"
Frequency: weekly
Archive available on iTunes: last six, so far

[Questions, comments, ideas, suggestions or threats for Podthinker Colin Marshall? colinjmarshall at gmail.]

Ep. 114: Burlington Coat Factory

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Guests: 
Jim Gaffigan

This week recorded live shows from the Monsters of Podcasting Tour in New York City & Philadelphia. With guest Jim Gaffigan.

Mutter Museum Director Dr. Robert Hicks, Live in Philadelphia; The Sound of Young America

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Robert Hicks, PhD

Robert Hicks, PhD is the director of the Mutter Museum at the College of Physicians of Philadelphia. It's a legendary collection of medical history, and more than a few medical oddities.

Mos Def, Black Thought and Eminem RIP IT at the BET Awards

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A few thoughts:

* Mos Def has the tools to be a superstar, purely on merit. He's charismatic, he has lyrics, he's not afraid of fun and he can flow his ass off. But he seems to have pretty much thrown that away in favor of being "experimental," which is to say half-assed. I notice that my favorite Mos Def songs are usually the party tracks - Sex Love & Money or the one with Luda.

* Black Thought is a great MC. I don't know what else he has to do at this point to prove that he's a great MC. He just is. Beautiful voice, effortlessly meticulous flow.

* I am not an Eminem fan, particularly, but it needs to be said: Eminem is one of the greatest rappers of all time. He stands in the absolute upper echelon - Rakim territory. It's now ten years later, and no one has come close to matching his skill. Sure, he doesn't have a great voice and his shtick is a little annoying, but his skills are unmatched. Unmatched. There are other rappers with amazing technique - Busta Rhymes, Pharoahe Monch and Ludacris come to mind - but even they are a whole class below Eminem. And he's also the greatest battle rapper of all time and probably the greatest freestyler of all time (certainly the greatest freestyler of all time who's any good at anything else).

My favorite MCs are more like Biggie or Jay-Z, artists who've learned the lessons of Rakim and chosen to focus their technique on making those lessons seem effortless. But that doesn't mean that I can ignore talent and skill like Eminem's. The man has a special gift, and lord knows he put in his 10,000 hours.

Home Run Sandwich

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Jordan destroyifies this segment with Meghan Fox. Oh man this is funny to me.

Enjoyable Rap Video Roundup

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Click through for more!

People Under The Stairs - Trippin' At The Disco

Royce da 5'9" - Count for Nothing

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