The MaxFun Blog

Maximum Fun is your home on the internet for things that are awesome. Our blog will guide you and our family of podcasts will entertain and inform you. About

Scott Adsit of 30 Rock: Interview on the Sound of Young America

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Scott Adsit

Scott Adsit is a comedy writer and performer who plays producer Pete on "30 Rock." He was a writer/producer on "Moral Orel" and is a veteran of The Second City. This podcast was recorded as part of our live show at WNYC's Jerome L. Greene Performance Space in New York City.

Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: "Airborne Event Dronecast"

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Field recordings are the new ambient. Or at least that's what your Podthinker once read on some obscure British blog. Whether listening to sounds collected straight from the world and curated has truly replaced listening to music designed to be, as genre inventor Brian Eno once said, "as ignorable as it is interesting" remains up for debate, but earnest podcast listeners looking to gather some evidence could do much worse than the Airborne Event Dronecast [iTunes] [XML].

Offered up by the all-powerful WFMU, the show is the podcast companion to its host Dan Bodah's broadcast program Airborne Event, which offers "musical delirium induced by sounds from electronic noise to free jazz, drone rock to a capella African song." Bodah's Dronecast serves a different, stricter meal, one consisting purely of field recordings, played, repeated, layered and looped. One episode might give you 31 minutes of Mexican guys mowing lawns [MP3], 23 minutes on a bus with creaky struts or 23 minutes of the New Jersey State Fair [MP3]. Bodah collects sounds around his hometown of New York City and uses other field recordists' submitted sounds as well, laying them out, slicing them up and arranging them just so to achieve the finest, droniest experience possible.

The most elegant, sensible definition of music your Podthinker has ever heard comes down to just two words: "organized sound." By that premise, then, the Dronecast is a music podcast: it's simply a bit heavier on the sound and a bit lighter on the organization (but not, significantly, without it). The listening turns out to be surprisingly musical — any field recording, heard enough times, begins to feel like music — and this stuff's actually more versatile than music as music is popularly understood. Whether they're drawn from machines, locations, weather phenomena or things totally unidentifiable, these are sounds you can read to, write to, exercise to, drive to, ride public transportation to — try listening to that bus recording while riding another bus — and, especially, sleep to. Prepare, in other words, to give that bedside Brookstone white-noise machine the heave-ho.

Another fascinating aspect of these sounds comes out of their decontextualization. Hearing a lawnmower when you're mowing the lawn is one thing, but hearing it piped in directly through a pair of headphones while you wash the dishes is quite another. These sonic events, originally products of such everyday entities as generators, creeks and loudmouthed fairgoers in search of corn dogs, become fascinating and alien through the quadruple prisms of reproduction, disconnection, proximity and repetition. It's highly unlikely indeed thay anyone who isn't already into field recordings could give a handful of episodes of the Dronecast a listen and not come away believing that the world is a much more sonically fascinating place than they'd ever realized.

Vital stats:
Format: field recordings, field recordings and more field recordings
Duration: 20m-90m
Frequency: semi-erratic weekly
Archive available on iTunes: last 12

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

Heather B. Armstrong: Creator of dooce.com

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Heather B. Armstrong is the creator of Dooce and is considered a pioneer of the “mommy blog” movement. She is the author of three books, including the most recent It Sucked and Then I Cried. Armstrong has faced more than a few challenges in her past including battling a sever bout of postpartum depression and denouncing Mormonism. The popularity of Dooce over the years has allowed Armstrong to turn a one-time hobby into a full-time career. Armstrong spoke with me about, blogging boundaries, the perks of running her own business, and turning hate into charity.

Chris Bowman: I watched the Today Show interview from last year featuring “Mom Bloggers”. One of the questions addressed the notion that what’s said on the blogs will live on forever. The response was that one needs to be comfortable with whatever it is they’re writing at the time, and to be sure they’ll be comfortable reading in five or ten years. Do you agree with that?

Heather Armstrong: I do. It’s a really layered answer to this question. My critics bring up this question all the time, saying that I’m violating my daughter’s privacy, saying that I’m giving all of her potential enemies this fuel to use against her in the future. First of all I think that privacy and the notion of privacy and information on the Internet is rapidly changing, especially this generation and next generation. And mommy blogging is becoming, much more mainstream than it used to be. A lot of us are writing about our children and the thing is, people have been writing about their children for years and years and have been using their family and children as material for books and comedy routines for many many years and I wonder if they’ve faced the same questions. I mean, their books will live on for eternity, the same as whatever is put online.

To find out more from Heather B. Armstrong click Read More.

The MaxFunStore is here!

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For years, people have been bothering me to make and sell merchandise. I've pretty much always demurred, because as anyone who listened to my interview with Achewood creator Chris Onstad, it's a lot of work. I'd rather spend my time making shows and blogging and making off-color jokes on twitter, not packaging t-shirts.

Then I heard from the folks at Topatoco. These kind people offered to do all the work for me, and give me the same cut I'd have made if I was doing it all myself (market efficiencies, etc etc). They're extraordinarily nice, and do merch for folks like our pal Brandon Bird, so I said, "sure," and set about rallying a variety of volunteer designers around putting together some awesome products.

Here's the new MaxFunStore.

My rule for this was that if we did it, we would do it CLASSY ALL THE WAY. That means we're using all Alternative Apparel blanks, which are the best t-shirts I could find. When we printed our JJGo shirts on them last year, people couldn't believe how soft and well-cut they were. I agree a thousand times over.

Here's the store link again.

We've got Sound of Young America t-shirts, of course... but we also have beautiful hoodies, Kasper Hauser shirts, Mustache TVs, posters, and perhaps my favorite item is our new polo shirts, which are absolutely beautiful. Better than Lacoste or Polo, I promise.

So: go forth and buy. http://www.topatoco.com/maxfun

The Trailer Park Boys: Interview on the Sound of Young America

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
The Trailer Park Boys

Ricky, Julian and Bubbles are the stars of the Canadian documentary-style sitcom The Trailer Park Boys. For years, the show has tracked their charming inability to make anything of themselves. The second film based on the series, Countdown to Liquor Day, marks the end of the show. It was just released in Canada. Viewers in the US can see the show on Direct TV's The 101 Network Thursday nights.

Langhorne Slim Interview & Performance on The Sound of Young America

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Langhorne Slim

Langhorne Slim is a singer-songwriter whose songs explore the more passionate side of traditional music. His newest album is "Be Set Free." He joined Jesse in the studio for a conversation about his music and a live performance.

Roy & Gil on Mysterious Deaths

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Roy & Gil, the southern Oregon trailer park denizens who star in Kasper Hauser's two films, argue about how an old man might have died in this scene from 1998's "Fishing with Ghandi."

Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: "Common Sense"

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There's a very popular podcast out there called Dan Carlin's Hardcore History. Though your Podthinker hasn't heard it, he's totally unable to stop hearing about it on every recommended podcast list, in every discussion of podcasts, from so many enthusiastic podcast listeners. While your Podthinker has nothing against historical shows and all that is hardcore, he has gotten the feeling that, where Dan Carlin's Hardcore History is concerned, the job of fandom has been filled, repeatedly and vigorously.

Fortunately, the well-respected Mr. Carlin, reportedly possessed of a grippingly engaging personality, a stunningly comprehensive knowledge of history, politics and geography and hosting skills of the highest caliber, produces another podcast that your Podthinker doesn't get pitched nearly as often. It's called Common Sense [iTunes] [XML], and it's about American politics, political opinion and news analysis. While this would normally send your Podthinker straight to the bathroom — especially that "news analysis" bit — Carlin's reputation (and, admittedly, the sheer curiosity fluffed by all that Hardcore History talk) made it unignorable.

Can't we all agree that the saying about opinions being just another stinky thing everyone's got goes double for political opinions, triple for mediated ones? In the realm of poltics, evidence halves, stubbornness doubles and thoughtfulness shrinks to near-nonexistence. Factor in the media's uninterruptable bullhorn effect — or, if you're a George Saunders fan, which you almost certainly are, its "braindead megaphone" effect — and DO NOT WANT. Given that, neither Carlin's background as a "real" political radio host nor his program's electric guitar-y theme music bode particularly well. What a delightful surprise, then, to find that the show's actually smart.

But what does it mean for political talk to be "smart"? When someone makes that claim, "smart" usually translates to nothing more than "shares my prejudices." The first welcome quality of Carlin's perspective is that he runs an aggressively nonpartisan speeakeasy: he's not out to pile blame on the Rethuglicans or the Spendocrats for all of the country's ills, and — better yet — he doesn't believe their solution lies with a particular party or ideology, either. He operates from a point of view outside established platforms, movements and interest groups, his only interest calling bullshitters on their bullshit. Fortunately, politics being politics, he'll never run out of the stuff.

Also refreshing is his capacity to change his mind, whose tools are a rarity in the political talk show host's armory. An example comes in his recent discussion of The Health Care Debate [MP3], also known as The Least Intelligent American Political Debate of Your Podthinker's Lifetime. Carlin therein explains that he used to hold a strong stance against socialized health care, but he changed his mind when he realized that almost all of the negative consequences of socialized health care seem to be present in America already. And even with issues as tangled and often nonsensical as the U.S. health care system, the man has some sort of magic touch — perhaps as a result of playing toward listeners outside the country as well as inside it — that allows him to explain them clearly, concisely and in an entertaining fashion. (A bit on the ACORN controversy [MP3] provides another data point.)

Despite Carlin's deeply announcer-y mien, though, "entertaining" doesn't mean the usual dense, broad commercial-radio goofiness: he's drops quite a bit of wit — though, yes, sometimes of a slightly goofy stripe — amid his oration. If all this approbation is beginning to sound implausible, bear in mind the horrendously low standard for this sort of thing. Is Dan Carlin perfectly unbiased? Of course not — he's something of a libertarian, but doesn't even really conform to that slant — but at least he doesn't claim to be. Is he perfectly rational? No, but at least he makes the attempt, and he's entertaining when worked up. Is he perfectly omniscient? No, but he seems to be honest about how he knows, what he knows and what he doesn't. (The roots provided by all that historical knowledge, hardcore and otherwise, doesn't hurt.) Besides, it's not that Common Sense is the most intelligent political opinion program your Podthinker has ever heard — it's the only intelligent one.

Vital stats:
Format: political monologues with occasional interviews
Duration: 40m-120m
Frequency: twice a month
Archive available on iTunes: last 30

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

Ed OG & Masta Ace - A Little Young

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Is the future of my hip-hop taste listening to old dudes rap about how they're old? I dunno, but I sure have been listening to that M.O.P. album a lot. And Jay-Z. And... oh God I'm going to die soon.

Nice track. You know we love Masta Ace. If you don't have a copy of Disposable Arts, you need one.

Neil Pasricha: Creator of 1000 Awesome Things

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We here at Maximum Fun do our best to bring you all things awesome. We look far and wide. But sometimes awesome is closer than we realize. Neil Pasricha is the creator of the 1000 Awesome Things blog. It’s a countdown of all the awesome things that we come across in our daily lives that we may not always acknowledge. Some of them you’ll immediately identify with, and others you’ll think to yourself, “Oh yeah! That IS awesome.” Pasricha spoke with me about awesome smells, chicken wings, and the kindness of people.

Chris Bowman: 1000 Awesome Things was originally started as a diversion from all the bad news that seems to circulate every hour of every day. How did you settle on this idea?

Neil Pasricha: Well basically, I started in June of 2008. At that time, if you flipped open the newspaper it was filled with the same stuff every day. The polar ice caps were melting, there were pirates storming the seas, the economy was on the verge of collapse, and there were wars going on all over the world. Everything was so heavy. 1000 Awesome Things was meant to be that one little place where we turn the lights out, put a blanket over our heads, and just talk about popping bubble wrap, or snow days, or the smell of a bakery.

To find out what else Neil Pasricha has to say click Read More

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