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Jordan, Jesse Go! Ep 91: Walking with the Dinosaurs

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Comedian Michelle Biloon joins Jesse and Jordan to talk about the Oscars, the Geek Squad and much more.


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* Need advice? ASK JUANITA!
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Our theme music: "Love You" by The Free Design, courtesy of The Free Design and Light in the Attic Records


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Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: "The Kick-Ass Mystic Ninjas"

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Yes, your Podthinker sees that title. We all see that title. Clearly, it's going to be the chief task of this particular Podthought to assure the reader that, while the podcast in question is indeed titled The Kick-Ass Mystic Ninjas [iTunes link], it nonetheless merits reading a few hundred words about, or, if one swings its way, a listen.

It comes as a relief to find that the program contains no ninjas, no mysticism, and not much ass at all. (There are two kinds of people: those amused by the very concept of ninjas, and those not.) It is, in fact, a rolling cultural group discussion, one that — here comes another relief — focuses in on a single cultural entity per episode rather than meandering every which way. But another danger zone rises in the show's very subtitle: "Talking Old-School Sci-Fi and Fantasy". Your Podthinker's intensive podcast experience has prepared him to recoil at all podcasting instances of the term "old school" that do not refer to soul and/or funk, because they're often red flags signaling that one's about to stumble into a couple basement-dwellers' heated exchange about Gobots. Fortunately, the Mystic Ninjas are not children of the early 1980s but members of that odd demographic subgroup which cares deeply about pulpy sci-fi but is somehow also like 42 years old. Their "old school" is more likely 1970 than 1989.

Not that Summer, Dave, Brian and Jen shy away from the modern-ish: their podcast's official "old school" labeling cutoff only appears to be fifteen years or so. Hence the appearance of recent-seeming stuff like Robocop [MP3] and Quantum Leap [MP3] on their roundtable. But make no mistake, their reach extends pretty far backward, all the way to to the likes of Robert Heinlein's martian-Jesus allegory Stranger in a Strange Land [MP3] and Larry Niven's Ringworld [MP3], the only quadrilogy exhaustively described solely by its one-word title. These weren't the main attractions for your Podthinker, though; that the Ninjas discuss such relative obscurities as Harry Harrison's The Stainless Steel Rat [MP3] (a goofy James-Bond-in-space-y series that your Podthinker admits sucks but is inexplicably drawn toward nonetheless) and W.D. Richter's immortal The Adventures of Buckaroo Banzai Across the 8th Dimension [MP3]. Your Podthinker is all about the Buckaroo Banzai.

Though the selections deliver a little something for everybody, one can't help but wish for a touch more meat on the bones of the discussions themselves. They're on the short side, about 45 minutes on average, and though the Ninjas seem perfectly capable of really delving into the mechanics of the novel, film or television series at hand, they tend to stop just short. They never fail to set up the premise, retell a few of the narrative's events and express their own opinions on the quality of the work as a whole, but most every episode ends with a great deal of rich analytic soil left to plow. And if that was the effect of some strict technical length restriction, fine, but more often than not the conversation simply peters out: "Welp, we got anything more to say about this epic saga?" "Nope, don't think so. You got anything to add?" "Nope." "Okay then." The official Podthoughts Rules of Podcasting pamphlet has yet to be written, but if the project gets off the ground, the first commandment is obvious: "Thou shalt not end thy podcasts by petering out. End in a structured and decisive fashion, yea. Peter, nay."

Despite that, The Kick-Ass Mystic Ninjas isn't a bad little venue for sci-fi and fantasy chat. And that means something coming from your Podthinker, a man who finds 90 percent of science fiction (and something like 115% of fantasy) crippled to unenjoyability by a lack of consistent rules and even semi-engaging characters. But then again, he's read The Stainless Steel Rat, so...

Vital stats:
Format: group sci-fi/fantasy discussion
Running since: September 2005
Duration: 35m-1h15m
Frequency: weekly
Archive available on iTunes: last 20

[Shame Podthinker Colin Marshall for his enjoyment of The Stainless Steel Rat at colinjmarshall at gmail. Discuss Podthoughts on the forum here or submit your own podcast for the next by-Max-Funsters column here.]

Jordan, Jesse Go! Ep. 90: Whitman's Sampler

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Jesse and Jordan discuss their recent trips to the movies, plus Ask Juanita and much more.

ACTION ITEMS:
* No special action items this week.

CONTINUING ACTION ITEMS:

* Review the show on iTunes.
* Do you have a dispute Judge John Hodgman can solve on a future broadcast? Email it to us! Put Judge John in the subject line.
* Need advice? ASK JUANITA!
* Have personal questions for Jesse and Jordan? Call 206-984-4FUN and tell us what they are!
* Would you like to play Would You Rather with us on a future episode? Email us or give us a call at 206-984-4FUN.

Call 206-984-4FUN to share your thoughts on these ACTION ITEMS.

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Our theme music: "Love You" by The Free Design, courtesy of The Free Design and Light in the Attic Records

The Sound of Young America on the Radio

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If you're a Sound of Young America donor, you have the option of getting a podcast of the show as it appears on the radio. That usually means 59 minutes, two guests, maybe another thing or two, little breaks, no intro urging you to donate. These shows usually come out the weekend before the regular podcasts of the same material.

If you're a donor, and you'd like to listen this way, email me at jesse@maximumfun.org and I'll give you the feed address.

Sean Cullen & Zion I Performe Live in San Francisco: The Sound of Young America

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Show: 
Bullseye

Comedian Sean Cullen is a fixture of the comedy scenes in both Los Angeles and his native Canada. He's been seen on Last Comic Standing and in his own Comedy Central special. He also hosts a radio program for the CBC. Sean sang for us on the less-than-popular lyrical subject of farming.


Zion I are an Oakland-based hip-hop group known for producer Amp Live's diverse influences and emcee Zumbi's thoughtful rhymes. They performed some memorable songs for the crowd at Cobb's, including the Bay Area anthem "The Bay" and "Antenna" from their new album "The Takeover," which is in stores now.

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If you enjoyed this show, try these:
Tom Ammiano Live in SF
Jello Biafra Live in SF
Zach Rogue of Rogue Wave Live in SF

Art Spiegelman's "Be a Nose"

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A beautiful animated trailer for Art Spiegelman's next book, from McSweeney's.

Art was a wonderful TSOYA guest some years ago; his interview is worth a listen.

Sarah Haskins' "Target Women"

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Over the holiday break, I spent a few hours watching Current on my mom's new fancy satellite dish. By far my favorite thing was this recurring segment, "Sarah Haskins' Target Women." I think it's sharp, genuinely funny, and for once talking-head TV is snarking on something that deserves to be snarked upon. The territory is well-worn, but Haskins is charming and pleasant without missing out on opportunities to really stick it to 'em. Bully to you, Sarah Haskins!

Tom Ammiano: California State Assemblymember and Standup Comic on The Sound of Young America

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Tom Ammiano
Show: 
Bullseye

Tom Ammiano was a San Francisco schoolteacher, standup comic and gay activist before becoming the state of California's first gay school board member. He went on to become president of the San Francisco school board, and later president of the city's board of supervisors. Now he represents San Francisco in the California state assembly. He's never stopped performing comedy, and is considered one of the fathers of San Francisco's still-thriving queer comedy scene.

We spoke with Ammiano during our live show at SF Sketchfest in San Francisco.

If you enjoyed this show, try these:
The Dirtbombs
Dan Savage
Janeane Garofalo

SkyMaul for $4.50? Yes please!

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Look, this is the funniest book there is. You know it, I know it, Fred Willard knows it, Patton Oswalt knows it, Graham Linehan knows it and he lives in England, Mark Frauenfelder and Xeni Jardin know it, George Saunders knows it, Ben Karlin knows it. This book got blurbs from Dave Barry and the late David Foster Wallace. That's how good it is.

Maybe you already have it. Buy some more for gifts.

Maybe you don't. Buy a bunch, because once you have one, people are going to want to take yours.

There's no excuse not to buy a bunch of copies of this book.

Unless maybe, just maybe, you're saving up for Kasper Hauser's second book, "Weddings of the Times," which comes out later this spring.

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