The Blog of Young America

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Podcast: Jack Kirby, King of Comics - Mark Evanier

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Show: 
Bullseye


Comic and television writer Mark Evanier was once assistant to Jack Kirby. Now he's compiled a monumental art book cum biography of the artist called "Kirby: King of Comics." Jack Kirby's dynamic aesthetic style and new ideas about how comic book characters should relate to each other and to their readers revolutionized comics.

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If you enjoyed this show, try these:
Tony Millionaire
The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic Book Scare
Comics & Comix with Art Spiegelman, Chris Elliott and Matt Walsh

Podcast: TSOYA Classic: Comics & Comix 2 with Harvey Pekar and Andy Kindler

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

First we talk with comedian Andy Kindler. Kindler has been a leading light of the standup comedy world for almost twenty years. In addition to his standup work, and more recently his work as a field correspondent on "Late Night with David Letterman," he's also well known for his annual "State of the Industry Address," delivered at the HBO Aspen Comedy Festival. In the speach, he often jokes about the comedy industry's sacred cows.

Harvey Pekar has been chronicling both his own life and the lives of folks he meets in his "American Splendor" comic for decades. The books' plain-spoken emotional honesty has made them a touchstone in the world of comics.

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T-Shirt Contest: The Finals are Here!

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Last month I announced a t-shirt contest. I asked MaxFunsters to create designs for a special shirt which will be produced only for this pledge drive period. A limited-edition gem that expressed the true spirit of Maximum Fun.

Well I asked, and you responded. We got almost 50 amazing designs. Your votes narrowed them down to five finalists, each of whom will get an iTunes gift card for their contribution.

Chris Vendrick
Cody Mix
GloriousKyle
Tom Deja
Zachary Richter

Our celebrity judges are currently judging, and we'll announce the winner at the end of the week.

Your celebs are:

Rob Baedeker is a writer, professor and member of a comedy group you may have heard of: Kasper Hauser. He also has a way cool little baby.

Maria Bamford is a standup comic who has performed headlining shows around the country and toured extensively with the Comedians of Comedy. She's also super stylish.

Judith Thorn is a college professor and accomplished academic. She used to make clothes for Miles Davis, but he was kind of a dick. Also, she is my mom.

Jonathan Coulton is an accomplished singer-songwriter and internet sensation. His hit song "First of May" recently shifted focus on that holiday from solidarity among the world's workers to solidarity among those who enjoy outdoor fucking. He also gave me the idea for this whole thing.

Brandon Bird is an artist whose work plays with pop cultural themes. He himself has designed t-shirts, one of which I once saw at Nordstrom's. Also, he made Brave Cone Dog.

How to Succeed in the Music Biz, by Erykah Badu

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Erykah Badu is a really funny lady.

Podcast: The Ten Cent Plague: David Hajdu on Comic Book Censorship in the 1950s

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Show: 
Bullseye


David Hajdu's new book is "The Ten-Cent Plague: The Great Comic-Book Scare and How It Changed America." David writes about the development of comic books as a medium, and how it was almost stopped dead by anti-comics crusaders in the 1950s.

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If you enjoyed this show, try these:
Tony Millionaire
Marty Krofft
Comics & Comix with Art Spiegelman, Chris Elliott and Matt Walsh

Podcast: The College Years: Passion

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The College Years is a look deep into the vaults of The Sound of Young America. Take a journey with us every week as we post a new program or two from our salad days.

Tommy Davidson formerly of In Living Color joins Jesse, Jordan, and "Q" for a scintillating edition of The College Years featuring erotic confessions.

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Comedy Babies: Patton Oswalt and David Cross

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Ain't they adowable?

Vidthoughts by Joe Coughlin: "Mr. Deity"

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I've seen "Mr. Deity" listed on iTunes for awhile now, but I've never had the courage to click on it. I guess I was afraid it would be one of those shows that looks like a fun show, but then sucks you into a crazy Kirk Cameron "Way of the Master" rant about why intelligent design is the way the world was created by God because man can hold a banana.

Fortunately, I've now found that this is not the case.

"Mr. Deity" is a video podcast created, written and starring Brian Keith Dalton as the title character, a distracted, lazy version of the Christian God. He's surrounded by his assistant Larry, son Jesus (though he keeps calling him Jesse), and on-again, off-again girlfriend Lucy (aka Lucifer). Larry's charged with the thankless task of keeping the inconsistencies of Mr. D consistent. Jesus is just hoping for crucifixion coverage on his health insurance and working on his miracles in his spare time (and to save money). Lucy is continually outraged at how women are portrayed in "the script.. Oh, and she forbids him to do anything else with virgins. She's jealous.

I would think that believers would be just as scared seeing noted atheists Michael Shermer and Julia Sweeney giving the show glowing reviews on the front page of the website as I was when I thought it was an extension of Mike Seaver's ministry. But I don't think that many believers will find anything that offensive. The humor is gentle and it never tries to make anyone feel bad for believing.

The writing is sharp and the editing spot-on. While the whole of the series consists of people speaking to each other, there's rarely a static two shot that goes on long enough for you to notice. Quick cuts and great reaction shots add to the feeling that the show is longer than its listed 3-4 minute runtime. Sadly, the biggest problem of the show is one it cannot help. It takes time to make episodes that look so good and are written so well. So unfortunately there are only 20 episodes of the show and you can quickly run through them. The second season recently ended, so here's hoping the third isn't too far away. I can't wait to see what they do with the other member of the Trinity, the Holy Ghost/Spirit (I'm sure they're focus grouping the name as we speak).

[Comments and suggestions for future columns are welcome. I can be reached at inturnaround at gmail]

Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: "Crap from the Past"

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Podthoughts has been one of my favorite features on MaximumFun.org, not least because I don't have to write it. Ian Brill has spent the last few months building a legacy as the greatest podcast reviewer of all time, but he's gotten a demanding full-time job as a comics editor, so he's had to resign his commission. Freelance journalist Colin Marshall will be picking up the column, and hopefully his insights will be just as valuable. And look out for Joe Coughlin, who will be contributing occaisional Vidthoughts on video podcasts. -- Jesse

At the tender age of eleven, Ron "Boogiemonster" Gerber began laboriously copying the chart positions of every single on the American Top 40 into a binder, genuflecting before the divine word of Casey Kasem. At the same time, he began regularly purchasing 45s of every top single he didn't already own. His enthusiasm for pop music has, in the ensuing three decades, evolved into Crap from the Past, where he's been behind the mic passing the love on to us for sixteen years now.

Gerber currently broadcasts out of KFAI in Minneapolis, with syndication in England and New Zealand. (Luckily for everyone who isn't a Kiwi, a Brit or Prince, there's a podcast feed.) If he were simply slapping a hodgepodge of pop tunes onto the turntables every week, his program would be no worse — and, let's admit it, probably better — than most of that which spews forth from community radio. But Crap from the Past is so much more; the Boogiemonster bills it as, in effect, "a graduate-level course in pop music," but it's even better than that, because he rarely if ever resorts to critical post-structuralist gender theory.

See, when Ron Gerber lays down a show on Tears for Fears, he doesn't spin "Everybody Wants to Rule the World" and call it a night. He spins "Everybody Wants to Run the World", which the band re-recorded from scratch as a charity single for some kind of benefit run, changing only one word. He spins "Victims of Fact", a single recorded by Neon, an early group comprising the members of what would become Tears for Fears and the members of what would become Naked Eyes. He spins a cut recorded for The Karate Kid Part II by Mancrab, a one-off outfit helmed by Tears for Fears' lead singer. And he digs out his 1980s issues of Billboard to read out the original reviews of these songs.

Similarly, a New-Kids-on-the-Block-themed program features Biscuit, the boy band's bodyguard-turned-rapper, the Perfect Gentlemen, an even younger boy band created by the New Kids' producer Maurice Starr, and the James Brown records off of which Starr bit to formulate that irresistible New Kids sound. Interwoven are interview excerpts from a New Kids concert VHS tape. (Imagine how full this guy's house is, and of what else.)

Gerber also conducts the occasional interview of his own: electronic pop pioneer Thomas Dolby, forgotten — and much Boogiemonster-championed — power-popper D.L. Byron and mayor of Funkytown Stephen Greenberg, to name only three.

Though Gerber introduces certain songs as, say, "atrocities," don't take the Crap in Crap from the Past too literally: the show's not some sort of kitschfest, but if it's necessary to play some kitsch, the Boogiemonster won't back down. (He may, however, talk over said kitsch or yank it off early.) As a man unashamed of his pop habits, I adore Crap from the Past. If you don't deign to enjoy pop yourself, prepare to be converted. It's a bit of a cliché to put it this way, but were you to give his show a listen, you'd almost certainly be infected with his near-obsessive — okay, obsessive — passion for well-crafted pop and all information relating to it.

[Direct all correspondence to colinjmarshall at gmail.]

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