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

T-Shirt Contest 2009: Semi-Finals

| 0 comments

You may already know that every year for our annual pledge drive we create a limited-edition Maximum Fun shirt for donors, and every year that shirt is designed by listeners.

Well, the entries are in, and we've selected ten semi-finalists.

After you've thoroughly vetted the entries, you can vote at this link right here.

Please vote for your top 3 favorites.

We'll have one week of voting in this round and then we'll pass the top five onto our blue ribbon super-panel of t-shirt experts to choose the winner.

Here are the semi-finalists.

Let's Go from Chris Ereneta.

Let's Go by Chris Ereneta.

"Welcome to..." (Cartoon Jesse) from Tom Deja.

I'm Nutsy for TSOYA also from Tom Deja.

I'm Nutsy for TSOYA also from Tom Deja.

Field of Exclamation Marks from Scott Nusinow.

Field of Exclamation Marks from Scott Nusinow.

Awesome Machine from Andy Harwood.

Awesome Machine from Andy Harwood.

Field of Stars from Alexander Barret.

Field of Stars from Alexander Barret.

Silhouettes with Can-Phones from Kyle Hatch.

Silhouettes with Can-Phones from Kyle Hatch.

Love You from Kandi Cook.

Love You from Kandi Cook.

Cycling Nutsy from Brian Kaas.

Cycling Nutsy from Brian Kaas.

Listening Squid from Jamie Tanner.

Listening Squid from Jamie Tanner.

Now go vote!

Terry O'Reilly, host of the CBC's The Age of Persuasion: Interview on The Sound of Young America

| 4 comments
Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Terry O'Reilly

Terry O'Reilly is an adman. He's the founder of Pirate Toronto, a leading audio advertising firm, and has been a judge of radio advertising at the Clio and Cannes advertising awards. When he's not marketing, he's talking about marketing on his CBC radio show, The Age of Persuasion, which looks at the history and practice of advertising. We talk with Terry about why ads matter, what we should understand about ads and whether ads, ultimately, are a net good in our society.

If you enjoyed this show, try these:
Ira Glass
Radiolab's Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich
Brooke Gladstone and Bob Garfield from On the Media

Elephant Larry Present Con Air

| 1 comment

Our pals in the wonderful NYC sketch comedy group Elephant Larry have a brand new show, "Elephant Larry Present: Con Air."

It's the first sketch comedy show built completely around the 1997 Nicolas Cage film "Con Air." I'm not sure if Dave Chappelle or John Malcovich will be there, but we can at least hope for Ving Rhames or Danny Trejo.

Thoughtful Probing with J.D. Morris

| 2 comments

Survivorman & Reality TV

| 8 comments


Recently I've been watching a lot of the Discovery series Survivorman. In the show, an outdoorsman named Les Stroud heads to a scary location -- the arctic, a tropical island, the Arizona desert -- and films himself for a week. Depending on the locale, he might be allowed to bring along a multitool or an extra jacket, but for the most part he's out there in the wild alone.

And he truly is alone. He carries a few cameras with him -- one has some sort of waist mount so he can talk to it one the move, a few are on tripods. If you've seen Grizzly Man you know how creepily intimate this format is. It's also pretty much transparent. When you're in the arctic, with no one around for tens of miles, the camera tricks you can pull are pretty much limited to walking ahead, setting up a camera, then turning back and walking past the camera you just set up. So you can get a shot of you walking.

What you see on Survivorman is a man coping with genuinely trying circumstances -- and they're not afraid to point out that documenting the whole thing compounds the situation. Look at that publicity shot above -- he's not killing a bear, he's carrying a camera.

Most reality television leaves me feeling deeply uncomfortable. Part of that is the voyeurism of the format; certainly it's uncomfortable to see people embarass themselves on screen. That's much less discomfiting for me, though, than the manufactured quality of the "reality." I don't like seeing people make bad choices, but I hate seeing real people turned into fiction.

One of my best pals, Tyler Macniven, won half a million dollars on one of the "classiest" reality shows, The Amazing Race. Even though I suspected he'd won (he wasn't allowed to say, but he'd bought a car), I couldn't bring myself to watch beyond the first episode.

I know Tyler as a real person -- a full person. He's a bit outsized, even in real life, but he is every bit his own man. The first episode of the show sliced and shaved him into a man I barely recognized. He and his partner were "the hippies," and even though the protrayal was flattering, it was sincerely upsetting to me to see my friend portrayed, essentially, as a fictional character, written by others.

Of course, The Amazing Race is as much a game show and travel show as it is a traditional reality show. There's plenty of local color and silly contests that largely don't rely on fiction-style narrative. That's what makes it the "classy" reality show. That's why it wins the Emmys every year. But even on that show, seeing the differences between my friend on screen and my friend sitting next to me was almost scary.

I'm still working it out in my mind, but I think what bothers me is the having-your-cake-and-eating-it-too quality of reality TV. Without the punch that comes from a "this is real life" setup, most reality shows would be unimaginably dull. (That's true of, say, sports, too. There's a reason that The Big Game in a fictional representation of sports is boiled down to a few key plays, while in real life, we'll gladly watch it for three hours.) At the same time, though, they don't feel beholden to reality as it happens. They are completely disinterested in verite -- even heavily edited verite.

In fact, I think they are cannibalizing the documentary film that went before them. The first hundred years or so of real-life film was held to non-fiction standards. Certainly some documentary films have been accused of say fudging timelines, but I think the very fact that I can use the verb "accused" demonstrates that that sort of behavior wasn't kosher. Essentially, when we watched non-fiction film, be it on the news or on a nature show or on a documentary special or a documentary feature, we had the expectation that the editing involved was an attempt to best represent the truth of the people and situations depicted. Sometimes they succeeded, and sometimes they failed, but at the heart of the matter was an attempt to accurately and interestingly represent real events.

It's that expectation, that legacy, hanging out in the back of our mind, that gives reality TV it's punch. The implied promise that they may be editing, but they're doing so to give us the most compelling representation of reality.

That's not how reality TV works, though. Situations are fabricated from whole cloth. Performers are given scenarios and even dialogue. Producers massage storylines into the shows as they shoot. Then producers pull them out of shows as they edit. Even shows that don't do deceptive things in pre-production spend post-production not looking for the most compelling representation of what occurred, but rather looking for the most compelling TV they can create -- whether or not it fairly represents reality.

Ultimately, it's a failure of transparency, isn't it? Games have rules, but reality shows don't. That upsets me enough that I can't watch reality shows without wondering about the real person behind the story that the producers created. Or what really happened. Or, frankly, why I'm so bored.

Internships and Fellowships at Maximum Fun

| 0 comments

We offer a year-long production fellowship position in our Los Angeles office, which begins in the summer. We will begin our search in the spring and post updates here. If you have questions about the fellowship position, you can send an email to julia@maximumfun.org.

We are not currently offering an internship program.

Birdhouse launches today!

| 0 comments

For the past few months, our good pal Adam Lisagor, aka lonelysandwich, of You Look Nice Today, has been working on a get-rich-quick scheme. It's a twitter app for the iPhone called Birdhouse.

Essentially, it's a simple way to write toots. The secret sauce is drafts. If you've ever seen Adam's twitter stream, you know that each of his tworts is perfectly crafted. That's because every time Adam tots, he makes sure his tart is perfect before he twats it, using Birdhouse.

If you use Twitter on your iPhone, you should buy it. Because it's amazing, because it's only $3.99, and most importantly, Adam's starting to burn through the money he made operating the Predatorcam in the film AVPR: Alien v. Predator Requiem.

The Minnesota Danny: The Official Mixed Drink of Jordan, Jesse, Go!

| 0 comments


As regular listeners of Jordan, Jesse, Go! are no doubt aware, I have recently been fascinated by a spirit called Danny DeVito's Limoncello. Not only is it the only limoncello endorsed by Danny DeVito, it's also "the finest summer drink from Italy."

Of course, our friend John Hodgman last year fueled our interest in another celebrity-endorsed liquor, Dan Ackroyd's Crystal Head Vodka.

You may not know that DeVito produced Ackroyd's 1996 film "Feeling Minnesota."

It is this remarkable situation that has led to the creation of Jordan, Jesse, Go!'s first signature drink: The Minnesota Danny.

Combine one part Dan Ackroyd's Crystal Head Vodka, one part Danny DeVito's Limoncello, and ginger ale or 7-Up to taste (we haven't decided which yet). Garnish with a lemon wedge and serve ice cold!

If you're in Seattle and coming to the Monsters of Podcasting show, will you bring us DeVito Limoncello and/or Crystal Head Vodka so we can demonstrate this amazing drink for you? Email me!

On the Media Hosts Brooke Gladstone and Bob Garfield: Interview on The Sound of Young America

| 0 comments
Show: 
Bullseye

Brooke Gladstone and Bob Garfield are the hosts of On the Media, a media criticism show produced by WNYC and distributed by National Public Radio. Their show takes as its mandate the world of media, which they define broadly to include everything from newspapers to standup comedy. Gladstone and Garfield ask tough questions of media moguls, media makers and government officials every week, and seek to fill in holes in our mediated understanding of the world. They're funny, too.

If you enjoyed this show, try these:
Ira Glass
Radiolab's Jad Abumrad and Robert Krulwich
WFMU's Ken Freedman and Andy Breckman

Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: "The Adam Carolla Podcast"

| 2 comments


Radio drama first sparked your Podthinker's interest in audio entertainment, but it was the mighty bellows that is Adam Carolla who, throughout your Podthinker's middle and high school years, grew it into a raging, all-consuming blaze. This was back when, along with all of media's Dr. Drew Pinsky, he put in two hours a weeknight forcefully, cogently making points about sex, drugs and traffic laws on Loveline. What a tragedy it was when he left the program in 2005 to helm KLSX's morning show. The loss, however, looks on track to be more than compensated; ex-Loveline fans are getting their reparations, and then some, in the form of Carolla's new podcast [iTunes link].

Cue the departure of a significant chunk of this column's readership — at least, the ones who didn't bolt upon reading the subject line. Thanks, no doubt, to projects of dubious reputation like The Man Show and Crank Yankers — not to mention occupying the time slot vacated by Howard Stern — Carolla seems to have gained popular perception as a misogynistic, illiterate vulgarian. While he readily admits to enjoying himself a good fart and never having properly learned to read — L.A. Unified School District, you see — he's certainly nowhere near the misogyny league of even, say, an Andrew Dice Clay. What vulgarity he enjoys somehow isn't the pointless, wheel-spinning vulgarity of the morning zoo frontman, and any persistent difficulty with the printed word hasn't harmed his overall perspicacity and formidable command of the spoken word. The Adam Carolla podcast strips away the all commercials, market research and program director-imposed detritus that's clouded the man's genuine self for so long, revealing him to be what dedicated Loveline listeners always knew and insisted he was.

Almost immediately after KLSX, citing the toughness of things all over, converted to a cheaper format and thus 86ed all its talk show hosts, Carolla got his technologically savvy buddies Mike Cioffi and Donny "The Weez" (an oft-dropped name from the Loveline days) together and began podcasting. After a brilliant opening rant about the state of the radio, he brought on guests to chat with: Dr. Drew, his co-hosts from KLSX [MP3], that sort of thing. Soon, the podcast was frequented by a surprisingly wide range of Carolla's friends and acquantances, like David Alan Grier [MP3], Star Trek's George Takei [MP3] and a tipsy Seth MacFarlane [MP3].

The format is blessedly spare: Carolla and his guest talk. That's it. (Sometimes The Weez interjects.) The podcast provides pure, unadulterated conversation, uninterrupted by spot blocks, resets and time checks. While Carolla still has plenty to say, and say hilariously, about old standby subjects like the grotesque mores of the entertainment business and the utter mental desolation of childhood, adolescence and adulthood in the San Fernando Valley, the most pleasing part of the package is that, unencumbered by the need to periodically do bits or allay the sexual distresses of 15-year-old snowboarders from Mission Viejo, he turns out to be an excellent interlocutor.

As someone who's devoted a large band of his life to studying and perfecting the art of broadcast conversation, your Podthinker would submit that Carolla is as skilled at — perhaps more skilled at — connecting with his guests as a real human being than the most respected interviewers working today. It's on the strength of this wit and humanness that the podcast, barely two months old, has risen to the top tier of your Podthinker's listening priorities. First thing each weekday morning, it's a shot of Carolla, straight up. Welcome back, Ace Man, to the land of the living.

Vital stats:
Format: news variety
Running since: February 2009
Duration: ~1h
Frequency: weekdaily
Archive available on iTunes: all but first two

[Podthinker Colin Marshall has been certified as one of the nation's top five Germany or Florida players. Challenge him at colinjmarshall at gmail. Discuss Podthoughts on the forum here or submit your own podcast for the next by-Max-Funsters column here.]

Syndicate content