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Oh man oh man do I hate them fancy lads.


I saw this movie in the theater with my dad, and I couldn't stop thinking about this for years afterwards.

Chris Elliott & David Letterman in Cabin Boy

Mal Sharpe Knows the Meaning of Life


Our first ever celebrity guest on The Sound of Young America was a man named Mal Sharpe. He's best known as half of the duo Coyle & Sharpe, who shook up the straight-laced early 60s with bizarre man-on-the-street pranks. They convinced a naval officer to rob a bank with them, and a passerby into joining with them as the third leg of their new religion, "threeism." They were wonderful. And so was Mal. (Coyle, in contrast, was dead). I'll find the interview sometime, and maybe even have him back soon. I've played a couple tracks from their CDs in the past six months or so on the show, so loyal listeners may already have heard them.

Recently, Mal put together an hour long special for PRX, the Public Radio Exchange, called The Meaning of Life. You might hear it on your local public radio station, but if you don't, you can click that link and stream it for free online.

This PRX podcast is an excerpt from the show.

Mal has a new CD/DVD set coming out. Check out for more info. Or you can just catch him playing jazz and talking mess somewhere in San Francisco's North Beach.

Ted Leo Tour Dates


Since everyone is so concerned with the possibility of missing a Ted Leo concert, I thought I'd share his tour dates with you guys.

Bridgeport, CT
Baldwin Plaza
With: Bridgeport Above Ground Festival; Doors: 12PM; Show: 4PM; free; all ages

Providence, RI
Century Lounge
%28TED LEO SOLO%29; Doors: 7PM; $12; all ages

New York, NY
South Street Seaport
w DC Snipers. Free. All Ages.

Memphis, TN
Hi Tone Cafe
All Ages 9pm. $10/$12. Tickets at

New Orleans, LA
House of Blues - The Parish
18+ 9 pm. $11/$13. Tickets at

Austin, TX
Zilker Park
AUSTIN CITY LIMITS FESTIVAL - w Ray Lamontagne, Gomez, Stars. On Heineken Stage. All Ages. $115 3 day pass. More info at

Houston, TX
All Ages 8 pm. $10/$12. Tickets at

Will Chicago Public Radio change everything?


(above: three dorky public radio guys try to muster up some coolness for the photographer)

There's a fascinating article in today's Time Out Chicago about "Secret Radio Project," a new initiative by Chicago Public Radio. CPR controls three stations -- WBEZ, WBEW, and WBEQ. Right now, WBEZ is the primary signal, while the latter two stations simulcast BEZ programming.

Recently, CPR got permission to dramatically boost the wattage of WBEW, from 7,000 watts to 50,000. With that permission came an opportunity -- what service could this new powerhouse station provide to Chicago that WBEZ didn't already offer?

In a lot of markets (here in LA, for example), two carbon-copy NPR news & information stations battle at the bottom of the dial, offering the same key programs (All Things Considered, Morning Edition, Fresh Air), often at the same times. The audience for this programming is so big that this kind of move works out OK financially for both stations, but it certainly doesn't benefit the public.

Much to their credit, CPR decided to use this new frequency to target new, younger, more urban listeners. Their plan is still brewing a bit, but here's what they came up with:

“You won’t hear typical hour-long programs,” says Josh Andrews, a producer for CPR and team captain of what’s about to happen to 89.5 FM. As far as Andrews is concerned, we won’t hear typical anything. No one really knows what you’ll hear on 89.5 FM come April 2007 (if everything goes according to schedule, which is a big if). Here’s their plan: Hosts will be in charge of two-hour blocks of radio time, and they’ll be free to play whatever strikes their fancy that day. Maybe a host is still thinking about last night’s episode of America’s Next Top Model, so he cues up a field report from a recent casting call for the show. Next might come a slam poet’s musings on commercial beauty, then three of the fiercest songs off of a local band’s new LP, followed by a spoof remix of James Blunt’s “You’re Beautiful,” then an interview with a fashion photographer. Or maybe a bunch of music, or a lot of commentary. The point is, pretty much anything goes.

But—and here’s the major innovation—there’s a communal element, too. 89.5 FM will also rely on content listeners create and upload themselves to the station’s website, YouTube-style: a track off their band’s new EP, a poem, a story, a mash-up, a skit, a dog barking, a ridiculous phone message or anything else . Hosts will weave their own content with the best and most relevant user-generated segments.

Will it work? Hard to know. Part of the problem with this sort of programming strategy is that the online world is deeply fragmented, while radio is entirely linear. Will the same listener want to hear that phone message that wants to hear that dog barking? Does anyone want to hear a dog barking? Also: again with the fucking mash-ups.

OK, sorry, got off track there for a second.

Their vision is a peer-reviewed system ala digg, but even digg is hardly all general interest all the time.

Still, they've got a great commitment to the future of public media here, and an amazing platform. Talented people are involved, and I have high hopes.

Here's the the public radio of tommorow!

Is Public Radio International still working on comedy?


Public Radio International is sort of like NPR's marginally cooler little brother. It produces and distributes shows like This American Life and The World, and operates out of Chicago.

Last year, they created a pilot for a Daily-Show-like radio program, based on news and current affairs, with a comedy angle. A lot of folks from the NY UCB Theater were involved, as I understand it. As far as everyone I know knew, it didn't "go," and that was the end of the story.

Today, though, an eagle-eyed Apiary reader spotted this listing for a comedy writer at Journalism Jobs. Is PRI getting back into the comedy business?



I think God invented jujubes to punish people for wanting to eat some candy.

A Textbook for The New Sincerity


If you're looking for some guidance in how to Be More Awesome, it would be tough to find a better starting point than eminent physicist Richard Feynman's memoir "Surely You're Joking Mr. Feynman: Adventures of a Curious Character."

Feynman was one of the most important physicists of the 20th century -- he was a key part of the Manhattan Project, his Feynman Diagrams are still an important part of physics, and he did some other physics-y stuff that I will never understand.

This book, however, is more concerned with things like his roles in various musical theater productions at MIT... while he was a professor. And taking time out of his busy schedule as The Nation's #1 Physicist to play with plates in the cafeteria. In short, the man was an unrepentant goof -- but one who was as committed to his goofing as he was to his Serious Endeavours. In fact, the plate spinning lead to some of his most important work.

He writes about much of this in the book, which is one of the most entertaining I've ever read.

And get a load of this: you can get a copy used on Amazon for a buck and a quarter.

Anyone interested in transcribing TSOYA shows?


Anyone interested in transcribing Sound of Young America broadcasts?

I'd like to have transcripts of the show to offer on the website as an added service, more quickly readable, more quickly scannable, more searchable.

I don't have the money to use a commercial transcription service, which typically cost like a dollar a minute. I just posted the most recent show on Amazon's Mechanical Turk, with a pricetag of $9 (it would be a bit more, but for weird Amazon reasons, it has to be $9 or less for the moment). If you're interested in doing it for that much money, you can go to the Turk, sign up, transcribe away, and get $9.

If you have any other bright ideas, please let me know.

New from the Human Giant


The Human Giant are a comedy group you'll be hearing much more from in the next year. The group is composed of UCB improvisers Paul Scheer and Rob Huebel, standup comic Aziz Ansari, and filmmaker and TSOYA pal Jason Woliner. They're up to their necks in development deals and the like, and they've already produced one of the young 21st century's great masterpieces. Today they let loose this little indie rock joke film, which is quite enjoyable.

Here's to you, "Human Giant."

When did Brian Williams become Charles Grodin Lite?


Brian Williams on The Daily Show

Charles Grodin on Letterman ~1988 Pt. 1

Charles Grodin on Letterman ~1988 Pt. 2

Answer: Dunno, but it is Very Awesome.

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