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Merlin Mann is the world champion NPR complainer.


Seriously: there is no one who is better at complaining about public radio than Merlin Mann.

I mean seriously.

The man drops a bomb like this about twice a week.

Edit: it seems that Merlin has taken this post as some sort of challenge, because he's spewing out bon mots at the rate of a million a minute right now.

Here's a few:

"Prairie Home Companion: a gentle amble through 2 hrs of reminders why most Americans despise poems, theater, and harmonizing in fifths."

"Next 'On the Media:' Bob kicks his slippers at the web for 10 minutes. Because he's definitely not terrified of it. Edited. By. Brook."

"Later, on All Things Considered, Robert Siegel talks with a water fountain about how bear markets impact the silent objects we drink from."

"Up next on Morning Edition, our new 112-part series from producer, Jay Allison: 'Old Black Ladies Cry While Someone Fingerpicks a Guitar.'"

Big Boi f. MJB - Something's Gotta Give

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Big Boi's wearing Outkast logos that say "Big Boi" instead? That's serious.

Solid record, too.

Podcast: Chris Parnell, Amazingly Funny Guy


Chris Parnell is a comic actor best known for his long run on Saturday Night Live. He's also appeared in numerous films, including "Anchorman," and as a regular guest star on NBC's "30 Rock," and a co-star of last year's ABC series "Miss Guided." He talks about auditioning for Saturday Night Live and Mad TV, about being the straight man, and about being a centaur.

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If you enjoyed this show, try these:
Jack Handey
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Jack McBrayer

Fora and Fauna


The place to be here at is the forums, where lively discussion and awesome awesomeness is going on every minute of every day.

The Maximum Fun Weightloss Challenge is a couple hundred posts deep, with folks sharing their healthy living tips, including great healthy food suggestions. After all, you want to be svelte when you slip into the Sartoriolitious thread, which irondavy started to address matters satorial.

The ladies only thread is a rip-roaring discussion of mascara, Bravo reality series, and other things the ladies want, need and prefer to keep to themselves. Perhaps as a counterbalance, Framedogg started an NFL 2008 thread, where guys can talk about tough guy stuff, like Gatorade and passer ratings.

Over in the Arts & Culture forum, The Bryan Park Project's passing did not go unnoted. As on every other corner of the internet, neither did the release of the Hollywood flickershow Bat Man: A Dark Night. For those who like their entertainment set to a tune, the Your Private Bands topic, which Aram Fignal kick-started, is rip-roaring along.

Oh, and we talk about the shows, too.

(Above: a bunny opens a letter)

Adam McKay, John C. Reilly & Will Ferrel on Charlie Rose


Some guys get all the guests.

Married Life


As many of you know, I'm getting married in a couple of weeks. I'll be away from the blog for a solid 14 days or so (though I will have some able substitutes), and there'll be no new Sound of Young America podcasts during that time.

Getting married is what we in the being a person business call "kind of a big deal," and I've been thinking about it a lot. I want to have babies and host barbeques and visit a lake house and all that stuff. Beyond those vague ideas, though, I've had a hard time imagining myself as a married man.

Then earlier today I read this poem, and I realized exactly what I want my life to be.

Danse Russe
by William Carlos Williams

If when my wife is sleeping
and the baby and Kathleen
are sleeping
and the sun is a flame-white disc
in silken mists
above shining trees,—
if I in my north room
dance naked, grotesquely
before my mirror
waving my shirt round my head
and singing softly to myself:
“I am lonely, lonely.
I was born to be lonely,
I am best so!”
If I admire my arms, my face,
my shoulders, flanks, buttocks
against the yellow drawn shades,—

Who shall say I am not
the happy genius of my household?

Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: Podcasts by Maximum Funsters II: The Revenge


From Max Funsters irondavy, Chris Eckert, and one more (who never identified themselves but whose name I will add to this post if he contacts me) comes Funnybook Babylon [iTunes link] — great title — the show that informs me that there are guys who take comics more seriously than I will ever be able to, even if I suspend all other projects, bathing included, and devote my remaining waking hours to the study of the comicular arts.

I hate to generalize, but my experience shows that, besides podcasts, Max Funsters like basically three things: comedy, movies, and comic books. While I do know a thing or two about the cinema, I'm more or less the Man who Fell to Earth when it comes to stand-up and superheroes. You might think this would make a podcast where a bunch of dudes heatedly discuss the merits of one X-Men writer versus another a total snooze. On the contrary; it's actually big fun to be able to listen in to the talk of a subculture that's passionate about their art form of choice. It's a bit like visiting a foreign country, except I can put off getting a passport one more year.

Since I'm something of a film geek, I can tune in to Battleship Pretension and know exactly what they're talking about, at all times, no exceptions. Listening to Funnybook Babylon, I recognize maybe — maybe — thirty percent of what they reference. But that's the fun! It's like how novels set in elaborate fantasy or sci-fi worlds intrigue you by hinting at the existence of so much more than you're given the details of at any one time. Going in, I didn't know my pull list from my laundry list, my Vertigo from my Wendigo, my New Avengers from my New Adventures of Beans Baxter. But, with each episode listened to, I'm getting there. I especially like that they cover both the art and the industry of comics; there's a lot more Machiavellian maneuvering going on in there than I'd ever suspected. It's a sector of the economy that's seen better (and worse) days, which makes for rich discussion about how and why the situation might be turned around.

Plus, the crew are pretty funny guys. Not only do NYC's Joseph, Pedro, Jamaal, Chris, and whoever else they happen to bring on board all have distinctive enough voices to easily tell apart — thanks for that, guys — but they sound like they'd have a good time discussing most anything. They just happen to be talking about comic books. Over time, I've learned to much from them that I've begun to laugh not only at their general-interest jokes, but some of their comic-book-insider jokes as well. I'm sure loads of their discourse is still flying over my head, but I'm going to keep listening; the passion these guys show for comic books makes me want to read more of them myself.

Vital stats:
Format: cultural panel discussion
Running since: February 2007
Duration: 1h to 1h30m
Frequency: semi-regular, sometimes slightly more than weekly, sometimes less

From Max Funster s-quotes comes Square Quotes [iTunes link], a slick arts-and-culture program from Montreal. The show scores three big points with me immediately by (a) being geographically grounded in a kinda-sorta unusual location, (b) covering rarities of cultural experience, and (c) seriously bringin' the production value. The episodes sound legitimately well-funded-public-radio-quality, although with perspective sufficiently off-kilter that you know it wasn't beamed down by the NPR mothership.

Square Quotes' composition is a little hard to get a bead on, but it's early days and clearly the cement hasn't quite dried. From what I've heard, the core content is hosts Alexander Buckiewicz-Smith and Jay Watts' conversations with local creative types: musicians, dancers, cartoonists, cosmologists, sculptors and a guy who displayed his dead cat as an art installation. (You probably want a direct link to the [MP3] of that one.) Each episode also contains a handful of tracks that play between the verbal segments, though these selections can be a little — how to put this — strange. Then again, I consider any band that isn't The Whispers "a little strange," so don't listen to me.

Also wedged in here and there are little semi-comedic interstitial bits, which are awkward and quickly scrapped in most podcasts that try them but work well here. My favorite has to be the series of phone calls made to psychics in order to contact the spirit of enigmatic jazzman Sun Ra. [MP3] Good stuff. If us Gen-Yers took over public radio tomorrow — and, if all goes well, we will — we'd do well to give Square Quotes a prime time slot.

Vital stats:
Format: interviews, music, etc.
Running since: June 2008
Duration: 40m to 1h30m
Frequency: semi-regular, every 3-15 days

[Peelance Frodthinker Colin Marshall sometimes checks colinjmarshall at gmail. Discuss Podthoughts here, or submit your podcast for the next by-Max-Funsters column here.]

Louie CK on Bombing

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Louis CK has just begun his first UK tour, and kicked it off with what (by his report) was a miserable performance in Dublin. Typically, though, Louie was philosophical afterwards.

I don't want any pity when I bomb. To me, bombing is a pure positive. Because it's a rare experience and it's a great education. Every great show, when you kill, is pretty much like any other great show. But every time you bomb, it is completely unique. I've never bombed the same way twice. And they stay with you, the bad sets, like Lyme disease or herpes. So I thank the people of Dublin for that.

There's no one funnier in the USA right now than Louie. We can all learn a lot from this dude.

And seriously, if you're in the UK right now: go see this show. Louis CK is as good as it gets.

Martin the Tailor


Martin the Tailor from Ed David on Vimeo.

Lovely short doc on Martin Greenfield of Greenfield Clothiers, one of the longest-standing and most-respected made to measure tailors in the United States.

Via one of my favorite clothes blogs, A Suitable Wardrobe.


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I used to go to Spike & Mike's Festival of Animation every year as a kid, at the Castro Theater in San Francisco. This was without a doubt my all-time number one favorite. 8-year-old Jesse laughed and laughed and laughed and laughed.

Thanks to Chris Hardwick for reminding me of it.

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