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Podcast: Singer-Songwriter Nellie McKay


Nellie McKay is a singer-songwriter who's been acclaimed for her rich singing voice and her wry, funny songs. On record and on stage, her performances seem to straddle the decades, with a distinct contemporary political bent and a fair bit of goofiness thrown in besides. She demonstrated both in our interview, and pulled out her ukelele to perform a few songs.

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If you enjoyed this show, try these:
Steve Albini
Miranda July
Colin Hay

Jonathan Coulton with Paul & Storm in LA


Jordan, Theresa and I had a great time at the Jonathan Coulton / Paul & Storm show at the House of Blues here in LA Sunday night. Note, in the above photo of their all-together encore, that Paul (left) is rocking a TSOYA shirt, and Coulton (center) is rocking a *classic* TSOYA shirt. Well-played, gentlemen. (Memo to Storm: get with the program, asshole).

I say this without malice: it was the single nerdiest experience of my life. Including the time I went to see Coulton in San Francisco. Many ponytails, hawaiian shirts, and computer-themed novelty t's were in evidence. But the enthusiasm was palpable and infectious. Not to mention charming. And of course having the world's most charismatic nerd Mr. Jonathan Coulton involved helped. Overall, a grand success.

Also: it was cool to have all-access passes to something.

(I stole the picture from Colleen who recapped the show here.)

Pledge Drive Thank-You Gifts


Note (5/19): Due to the great success of the drive so far, we're basically all out of the donated thank you gifts. For the duration of the drive, our new thank you gift is a second edition of our world-famous carnival poster. It'll have different art in the same vein, and while I can't show you a picture of it because I haven't had it printed yet, please rest assured: it is awesome. Each will be hand numbered and signed by yours truly. This will be a one-time printing only. Just write "Poster" in the thank-you gift space when you make your pledge.

I want to thank all the authors, editors, publicists, comics, artists and writers who've contributed thank-you gifts to the MaxFun Drive. My goal was to accumulate 100 thank you gifts. We've now got 150!

Everyone who pledges $2, $5, $10, $20 a month or more will get a thank you gift. I don't have an inventory system, so I can't guarantee your choice, but offer a few preferences when you check out and we'll do our best. The first hundred or so folks to donate will get a poster/pamphlet for John Hodgman's new book, which is called "More Information Than You Require." This beautiful poster features information on one side, and a TAXONOMY OF ALL WORLD KNOWLEDGE on t'other. It is not, by the way, available in stores.

Here's what we've got:

Five copies of Adam Koford's "LOL Cats" book
Five copies of McSweeney's Joke Book of Book Jokes
Five copies of Jack Handey's "What I'd Say to the Martians, and Other Veiled Threats"
Five copies of "If I Did It" aka The Kittenpants Anthology, featuring interviews with David Cross, Michael Showalter & David Wain, Bruce Campbell and many others.
A number of Uncle John's Bathroom Readers
Five copies of Chuck Thompson's very funny Smile When You're Lying: Confessions of a Rogue Travel Writer
Five copies of Kenny Mayne's An Incomplete and Innacurate History of Sport
Ten copies of Mike Edison's "I Have Fun Everywhere I Go: Savage tales of pot, porn, punk rock, pro wrestling, talking apes, evil bosses, dirty blues, american heroes and the most notorious magazines in the world."
Five copies of Dan Kennedy's "Rock On: An Office Power Ballad"
Five copies of Tanner Colby and Tom Farley's "The Chris Farley Show: A Biography in Three Acts"
Five copies of Arkansas by John Brandon from McSweeney's
Five copies of At A Crossroads: Between A Rock and My Parents' Place by Kate Williamson (a MaxFunster, btw)
Five copies of Will Shortz' 1001 Sudoku Puzzles to do Right Now!
Five copies of the big beautiful "New York Times Guide to All Essential Knowledge"
Five copies of The New York Times: Crosswords to Keep Your Brain Young
Five copies of my new filing techinique is unstoppable by David Rees
Five copies of Gorrilaz: Rise of the Ogre
Five copies of each of the following books by George Saunders: The Braindead Megaphone, Civilwarland in Bad Decline, In Persuasion Nation, The Brief and Frightening Reign of Phil, and Pastoralia
Five copies of Sloane Crosley's I Was Told There'd Be Cake
Five copies of John Hodgman's The Areas of My Expertise
Five copies of The Onion's Our Dumb World
Five copies of Tony Millionaire's "Premillenial Maakies"

Five copies of Steven Wright's "I Still Have a Pony"
Five copies of Michael Ian Black's "I Am A Wonderful Man"
Five copies of Chris Trews' nerdcore album "Terp 2 It: The Freshest Dude"

Five copies of Brian Regan's "I Walked on the Moon"
Five copies of Mike Birbiglia's "What I Should Have Said Was Nothing"
Five copies of Wholphin Number 5

Five full-size promo posters from Showtime for This American Life, signed by Ira Glass
The zine pack: five copies of the beautiful literary zine Kaleidotrope, and five of the similarly beautiful "Busted" issue of the zine Fray (including a piece by MaxFunster Bucky Sinister)
Five one-month subscriptions to Never Not Funny Primo

"The Oldest and Stupidest Question in the History of Hip-Hop"


Jay Smooth takes on the perennial question, "who is The Gay Rapper?"

Has anyone read the book yet? Is it good?

Podcast: TSOYA Classic: On the Road with John Hodgman and Henry Rollins


We continue our journey into The Sound of Young America's vast audio archive with this program from The Sound of Young America Clasics.

Henry Rollins is a rock and roll legend. He fronted both the Rollins Band and Black Flag, and has performed spoken word around the country. He's also the host of The Henry Rollins Show, and has appeared in numerous films.

John Hodgman is now familiar to TV viewers as "PC" in Apple's long-running Mac v. PC campaign, and as a correspondent on the Daily Show. He appeared on The Sound of Young America just weeks before his first Daily Show appearance, to talk about his book "The Areas of My Expertise."

Please share your thoughts on the show in the comments section!

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Podcast: TSOYA Classic: On the Road with John Hodgman and Henry Rollins


We continue our journey into The Sound of Young America's vast audio archive with this program from The Sound of Young America Clasics.

This week,

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Curtis Mayfield - "Get Down" on Soul Train


He's lip synching, but this is my JAM. From "Roots," a great album that you should buy, along with "Curtis" and "Superfly" and a bunch of other Curtis Mayfield albums, honestly, because the man is AMAZING.

I'm all about the guy at the very end unwinding himself from the floor.

Podcast: Jordan, Jesse GO!: Ep. 61A: Donks & Dildos

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Jesse, Jordan and special guest Dan Kennedy discuss dildos and suchlike. Part one of a two part show.

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Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: "The Moth: Stories Told"

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Who holds the title of greatest living monologist? Many readers would nominate Mike Daisey, who appeared at The Sound Live in NYC, and who Jesse recently named "the official monologist of" But why is he so compelling? How can one guy, alone, just talking about the lives of himself and others draw us in like a tractor beam?

The very same friend who introduced me to The Sound wrote this about Daisey's act:

We call this a monologue, but it's storytelling. Respectable theaters don't get urban elites to shell out $25 a head for storytelling. If they advertised "Mike Daisey Telling Stories" you might expect animal crackers and milk, and possibly even a nap. "Honey, where are my footie pajamas? You know, the dressy ones?" So they call it a monologue and Mike Daisey tells his stories, and the audience sits rapt. Even after eighty or ninety minutes — with no intermission — none of the rustling, none of the coughing, none of the shifting in seats you hear in a theater or concert hall as the end draws near and attentions wander.

Storytelling: that's the skill Daisey has mastered, and I would submit there ain't a man, woman or child alive who doesn't enjoy a good story.

The Moth understands this. You might expect it to be an insect, but no, it's an organization that promotes the art of storytelling. Founded in some guy's living room a decade ago, The Moth has grown enormously: it now holds all sorts of events featuring tales told by fascinating personalities both known and unknown, all over the country. In this case, "all over the country" tends to mean, well, both coasts, but if you're out of the 212 or the 310, you're not out of luck. The Moth, you see, has a podcast. [iTunes link]

Each installment adheres to the same rules: one storyteller, one story, ten to fifteen minutes, live on stage, no notes. This sounds like a tightrope act where to bomb is just as likely as to draw rapturous applause, but as much fun as that would be, we're dealing with story professionals here. There's the New Yorker's Malcolm Gladwell, recounting how he entertained himself early in his journalism career by wedging the phrase "perverse and often baffling" into as many articles as possible. [MP3] There's the same organ's Adam Gopnik telling of his inability to properly use the term "LOL." [MP3] There's screenwriter Cindy Chupack describing how the prospect of signing a 30-year-mortgage may well have turned her husband gay. [MP3] And yes, there's good old Mike Daisey taking us to a very dark psychological place indeed, one where he's made to endure a seven-hour death march of an audition at the hands of worshiped indie filmmaker Todd Solondz. [MP3]

Vulnerable as The Moth's subject matter may be to the same jab The Onion made about This American Life — I guarantee you'll hear plenty about therapy, the foibles of professional life and what it's like to look for love in all the wrong places — they're two of the best games in Podcast Town when it comes to storytelling. And hey, The Moth has Jonathan Ames talking about his Christmas spent doing freebase with a transsexual [MP3], so it's not like they don't spice it up.

[Direct all correspondence to colinjmarshall at gmail. Podthoughts discussion thread available here.]

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