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Yacht Rock: They might blow up, but they won't go pop.

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Episode 9 of Yacht Rock is out. Got an email from listener Beach about this, and it is indeed one of the top dumb internet things.

John Cleese retiring to academia?

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According to the (UK) Times, John Cleese is retiring from comedy.

“I’m too tired to write new comedy,” the Monty Python star told The Times in a rare interview. “I can never do better than Fawlty Towers whatever I do. Now I very much want to teach young talent some rules of the game.”

Cleese, 66, will act as a “comedy professor”, holding masterclasses with students. Their set text will be insights gleaned from a lifetime in the business of making people laugh.

Cleese compliments Ricky Gervais and Eddie Izzard, and calls Bill Hicks a genius. He also mentions that he's not in "Casino Royale," (neither is his character, Q), and plugs the release of a World Cup meets Fawlty Towers single called "Don't Mention the World Cup."

Related from TSOYA: "Fawlty Towers Revisited" Interview with Author Lars Holm (MP3)

This is a rap public service announcement...

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Seriously folks, if you're not on the Killer Mike bandwagon by now, download The Killer Mixtape and hop on board. Came out last year, and it is wall-to-wall bananas. Sometimes I think he might be a better MC than Big Boi. Don't quote me on that, but know that Mike is serious.

"Ask your older brother 'bout me / I'm O.G."

TSOYA in the Montreal Mirror

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Our pal Jonathan Goldstein hips us to this brief write-up of the show in Montreal's Mirror:

by JAY WATTS III
Not related to the Nation of Ulysses song of the same name, San Francisco’s The Sound of Young America (http://maximumfun.org, or check your iTunes podcast directory) began as a weekly public-radio show on a small station, and has since moved production to the comfortable digs of host Jesse Thorn. If your aversion to Internet comedy stems from workplace exposure to collegehumor.com or banal, animated GIFs with au-courant catchphrases, this podcast is a fine place for the medium to redeem itself.

Recent interviewees have included Montreal’s Jonathan Goldstein, host of CBC Radio 1’s hidden gem Wiretap and an executive producer at NPR’s This American Life. Quick-tempered comedian and Curb Your Enthusiasm player Shelley Berman (Larry David’s father on the show), who once chewed out “Crazy” Joey Cobden during a telephone sketch gone wrong, gave them a memorable interview, as have Fred Armisen (SNL cast member and former drummer for Trenchmouth) and—lest one think the focus is solely on funnymen—British music critic Simon Reynolds, author of Rip It Up & Start Again, the first respectable book to tackle the humourless world of British post-punk.

Everything That's Wrong with "Cars"

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Since this week's Sound of Young America is all about what's wrong with this country, and Pixar just released its latest flick "Cars," I thought I'd reprint this remarkable piece of invective from the normally quite temperate Matt Belknap of aspecialthing.com and AST Radio. Is Matt on-target or off the rails? You decide.

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There are so many problems that grow out of one central issue (that issue being: in a world without people, where cars are people, why would cars still look like cars, since cars were designed by and for people?).

1. Early in the movie, we see a field of crops, and throughout we see tractors in fields. WHAT CROPS ARE THEY HARVESTING, AND FOR WHOM ARE THEY HARVESTING THEM?! This would've made more sense if they had been oil fields (oil and gas are the soda and food of these car creatures), but of course oil has negative connotations, so they couldn't "go there."

2. If I'm not mistaken, we also see "flowers" being watered, but on closer inspection the flowers look like taillights or something -- in other words, they're mecha-organic, just like the cars themselves apparently are (I could be wrong about this, but if they're real flowers that creates other problems similar to the crop question). So if flowers are taillights, then WHY ARE THERE REAL TREES? WHY ARE THERE WATERFALLS? WHAT IS THIS WORLD THAT LOOKS LIKE OURS*, EXCEPT CAR-PEOPLE LIVE THERE?

*Even more infuriatingly, natural rock formations look like classic cars, radiators, engine blocks, etc. WHAT?!

3. There are a couple of references to Jimi Hendrix after we hear his National Anthem... WAS HENDRIX A CAR, AND IF SO WHAT KIND, AND HOW DID HE PLAY GUITAR WITH WHEELS INSTEAD OF HANDS?! HOW IS ANY MUSIC CREATED?

4. We see fans wearing colorful afro wigs in the stands at different races. WAIT, SO EVEN THOUGH THERE ARE NO PEOPLE, THERE IS STILL THE CONCEPT OF A HAIRDO CALLED THE AFRO?! IS THIS SOMEHOW CONNECTED TO THE EXISTENCE OF JIMI HENDRIX IN THIS WORLD?

5. Mack, the truck that drives Lightning around, communicates with Lightning over a video com-link that shows his face. But his "face" is the front of the truck, not inside the cab (the cab is his head), so where is the camera?

6. Romance is heavily suggested in the story, specifically between Lightning and the Porsche. But we're never told if cars procreate or if they're built somewhere, which to me is a pretty important question. If they don't procreate, why would the concept of love exist? If they do, how the FUCK does that work? Is it like the album cover for Aerosmith's "Pump?" Do baby cars come out of the mother car's tailpipe?

Every other Pixar movie has airtight internal logic. Usually, the anthropomorphized things are already living creatures (fish, bugs, monsters), so we have no trouble understanding that they could speak and have consciousness. in "Toy Story," the toys having a secret life grows logically out of the fact that children imbue their toys with personalities, and the toys are usually representations of living things anyway (cowboys, spacemen, pigs, dogs). But Toy Story takes place in our world, with a twist (the toys being alive). Cars never even begins to explain itself. Instead, it's built on the hope that people will go, "Ooh, cool! Shiny cars!" and not question anything (the same willful ignorance that allowed George Bush to get elected twice and go to war against a country without credible evidence). Given their past work, I hold Pixar to a higher standard in this regard, which is why I was so disappointed with this film. It's just lazy. It's bad, lazy storytelling, and up until now Pixar seemed to understand how important good storytelling is to a successful film. This makes me question that, because they seemed to just say, "We like cars, NASCAR is hugely popular, we can make a billion dollars very easily here by trading on our name and pairing it with a cultural phenomenon," and that all came before any concern for telling a good, solid story. The story elements -- not just the concept but the characters, the locations, the plot -- all feel like afterthought compared to the clear mission to make a shiny, flashy movie about race cars for kids and NASCAR fans.

World Cup news!

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Is this Diego Maradona snorting blow on worldwide television?

Maradona was banned from soccer for a year in 1991 after testing positive for cocaine. He also tested positive for drugs in 1994 and 1997. In 2000, he suffered a heart attack due to a cocaine overdose. He OD'ed again in 2004.

Clip courtesy of The Kasper Hauser Skit Club

George Saunders Reads from "In Persuasion Nation"

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A couple weeks ago, the members of the brilliant sketch group Kasper Hauser were over at my house. They were talking excitedly about their favorite author (apparently, their literary taste is collective). His name is George Saunders.

I had Saunders' publisher send me his most recent book, and it's hilarious, insightful and fantastically written.

He'll be on this coming week's show, but in the meantime, here's a sample, him reading a bit of the title story of his new book "In Persuasion Nation."

Download it (MP3)

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