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

Brother Ali - The Good Lord

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When I was in Chicago last year, Nathan Rabin from the AV Club gave me the business for not being up on Brother Ali. He was right, Ali can really rap.

Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: "Tom vs. The Flash"

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Deep into the hunt for unusual, innovative podcasts, one would not normally give a comic book show a second look, let alone a first listen. If there's anything of which the podcasting world has a surfeit, it's guys talking about movies and television. But if there's anything else of which the podcasting world has a surfeit, it's guys talking about video games. But beyond that, if there's still anything else of which the podcasting world has a surfeit, it's guys talking about comic books. Being nothing but a guy talking about comic books, Tom vs. The Flash [iTunes link] would seem to be a prime candidate for the "listen upon the introduction of the 30-hour day" file. But here's the thing: it's not just freeform comics chatter. Host Tom Katers, also of the well-regarded comic-book culture podcast Around Comics, has actually adopted a fairly disciplined and unusual format: each episode, he describes to the audience one issue of The Flash. In the episode following, he describes the next issue of The Flash. And on, one assumes, into infinity.

This is a godsend to anyone who wants to catch up on what's gone on over The Flash's last forty-odd years. though Katers probably didn't hold that utilitarian a vision when conceiving the program. In fact, it didn't even begin as Tom vs. The Flash; the first half of the archive has Katers taking on the Justice League of America. So this isn't about superhero narrative completism. It's about reading old comic books and having one hell of a good time doing it. When Katers blasts through an issue of The Flash, he doesn't simply read it, he doesn't simply snark on it, and — boy, is your Podthinker thankful for this — he doesn't obsessively nitpick misalignments with scientific fact and the greater Flash chronology. Yes, he announces a few passages verbatim; yes, he makes fun; yes, he points out the creators' more egregious dismissals of plausibility and continuity. But he does it so joyfully!

While "joyful" is rarely the word for any podcast, it has to lie at the core of any description of Tom vs. The Flash. Katers sounds utterly thrilled to be telling us Flash stories, to be admiring them where their artistry can be admired, to be ridiculing them where they deserve a bit of ridicule, and to be reading the things in the first place. This holds even when the comics frustrate them, as when he admits that he's had to restart a recording three times because one story was too ridiculously convoluted to accurately relate in takes one and two. And anyone who's read broad superhero comics of the era — Katers is currently reading Flash issues from the late 1960s — knows that ridiculous convolution is the least of their stories' problems. The tales related on the podcast are usually deadly cocktails of contrivance, preposterousness and ham-handedness. One of them is about aliens who steal the Eiffel Tower.

That's not to say that the adventures of the super-speedy Barry Allen (the second of several Flashes, it seems) and his main squeeze Iris in the bustling metropolis of Central City lack all charm. Perhaps the fact that he's nobody's idea of iconic is what makes this high-tech dredging-up of his midcentury exploits so endearing in the first place. Though the concept stands every chance of swerving into tiresome territory, Katers appears to know exactly when and how much to take what he's reading seriously. Surely your Podthinker can be forgiven for claiming that striking a controlled balance in that department is not a skill of particular prevalence in the comic-book community. One unanswered question remains, though: can The Flash outrun Superman? And if not, why not?

Vital stats:
Format: man reading The Flash
Running since: January 2008
Duration: 9m-20m
Frequency: every 2-3 days
Archive available on iTunes: all

[Podthinker Colin Marshall fights the West Coast Avengers, himself. Other superheroes or superhero teams can challenge him at colinjmarshall at gmail.]

See a taping of Michael Showalter and Michael Ian Black's new show...

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If you're in the New York area, you can see a taping of Michael Ian Black and Michael Showalter's new show, "Michael & Michael Have Issues." It's taping in New York on Thursday, May 28th. Click through for details.

Trailer for Kasper Hauser's Weddings of the Times

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The Trailer for Kasper Hauser's upcoming book, Weddings of the Times.

Conan & the Tonight Show in the Times Magazine

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"In 2004, when O’Brien’s contract was up and other networks were aggressively wooing him, NBC promised him their flagship. “But they wanted me to wait five years to be the host of ‘The Tonight Show,’ ' O’Brien told me. “And in 2004, 2009 sounded absurdly far away. I thought that in 2009, we’d be flying around with jet packs and our dinners would be in pill form. It was like being given a car when you’re 11 years old and being told, When you’re 16, you get to drive it. So I put my blinders on, and I went back to work. And, then, two years ago, I began to feel the barometric pressure changing. When it was a year away, I sat bolt upright in my bed. And now. . . ' O’Brien’s voice trailed off as 3 of his 15 writers arrived for their weekly meeting. “And now, we’re stuck between two worlds. We’re putting on a show here while we’re imagining another show there.'"

Conan O'Brien profiled in the NY Times Magazine

(heads up from John Moe)

A new way to fundraise...

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It turns out we're not the only ones using video for our fundraising these days.

This video was produced for Chicago's WBEZ by WBEZ employee and Schadenfreude member Justin Kaufman. Looks like BEZ is trying to raise money Obama-style -- with a broader, younger group of donors, $20 at a time.

How hilarious is MaxFun booster Peter Sagal in this vid? Answer: very. Like a joke-obsessed puppy dog.

Sometimes folks in the public radio establishment get nervous as more and more shows and show-producing stations do direct fundraising. I think that giving breeds giving. Once you figure out how good it feels to support your favorite shows, it's that much easier to support your favorite stations.

I know in the past year or two I've given to KCRW, WBAI (to support my pal Jay Smooth), WFMU (ditto Tom Scharpling), WNYC (On the Media! Radiolab!) and BEZ (This American Life!). While I sometimes sent some money to KPOO back home in the Bay, I now find myself giving more than ever, and feeling great about it.

I hope you'll give to your local public radio station. They really do need your help now more than ever.

Best. Concert. Ever.

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Our friend Jonathan Coulton is coming back to The Sound of Young America in a few weeks, to celebrate the release of his live CD/DVD, "Best. Concert. Ever."

Here's a special treat from JoCo's upcoming set on The Sound: Shop Vac (Live on The Sound of Young America)

Raekwon f. Ghostface & Method Man - The New Wu

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Like it a lot.

Nick Kroll Live in Portland

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Nick Kroll

Nick Kroll on The Sound of Young America from Jesse Thorn on Vimeo.

Nick Kroll has been featured in the television shows Cavemen, Sit Down & Shut Up, The Human Giant and The Life & Times of Tim. He's also the author of Bar Mitzvah Disco.
We spoke with Nick in Portland at the Bridgetown Comedy Festival.

Improv Everywhere: The Book

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Our friend Charlie Todd, founder of Improv Everywhere, wrote a book about pranks, pranking, IE and the work they do. Charlie is a prince of a guy, and we're so happy that the book is in stores now!

Below, one of our interviews with Charlie, who we first had on the show maybe five years ago? The show below also features Matt Walsh and Coyle & Sharpe.

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