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Baby is the Bagpipes

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Thanks to maxfunster girlofdestiny, who pointed out that there are a ton of Viva Variety clips on YouTube. Timely, since our Reno 911 interview unexpectedly included a lot of Viva Variety talk (well, on the podcast it did, anyway). Above: "Baby is the Bagpipes."

Podthoughts by Colin Marshall: "60-Second Science" and "60-Second Psych"


It's a modern problem: I'm a busy guy, but I also loves me some science. These two conditions were completely irreconcilable until the advent of the medium known as "podcasting", by which compressed audio files containing spoken information can be distributed to one's portable audio devices. (Or in my case, just to my computer — yeah, I'm one of those guys.) Scientific American, the science magazine whose surprisingly well-crafted articles belie its tacky covers, has come to the salvation of those who have just enough time for a couple daily bites of science, but not enough time to live a normal life: 60-Second Science [iTunes link] and 60-Second Psych [iTunes link].

The conceit is obvious: you give us a minute plus time for an intro and sponsorship announcements, and we give you a fascinating discovery. (They've only broken from the form once, when Ben Stein angried up their blood. [MP3.]) I'd have ensured maximum information density by hiring the guy from the Micro Machines commercials, but the producers have instead opted for a series of friendly-sounding hosts who deliver their knowledge payload in a more relaxed manner, supplying corny jokes when time allows.

60-Second Science tells you the kind of geeky stuff geeky fifth-graders might geek out about. For example:

  • Lasers can generate lightning [MP3]
  • Students forced to learn math via word problems do worse on tests (hatred of those problems about Farmer Brown's pasture: validated!) [MP3]
  • A computer can learn to play the clarinet [MP3]
  • Scientists are being trained to run for political office (shyeah, good luck with that) [MP3]
  • The duck-billed platypus has an odd genome (no surprise there, I suppose) [MP3]

And I, for one, believe that there's a geeky fifth-grader inside us all. If yours has felt a little beaten-down lately, there are worse ways to revitalize it (such as hanging out with geeky fifth-graders).

More relevant but also more speculative — and yes, those of you in the natural sciences, feel free to enjoy a hearty chortle about the fact that "science" and "psych" are distinct podcasts — 60-Second Psych concentrates on the behavioral side of things, showcasing all sorts of discoveries about humans and how we got this way. Revelations include:

  • When we really want something, we're biased toward believing it's rare and vice versa (which elegantly explains the "WOW!" "L@@K!" "RARE!" arms race on eBay) [MP3]
  • Even the meanest among us have enough neuroplasticity to learn to be kind [MP3]
  • The desperate search for evidence of ESP continues to disappoint (well, doi) [MP3]
  • Us FaceSpace-addicted Gen-Yers are no more self absorbed than previous generations (but who's gonna top the Boomers, amiright?) [MP3]
  • The real motivator for exercise? Fear [MP3]

What with all the exciting work being done in a bewildering variety of fields, subfields, and sub-subfields and its implications for the way we live, it's never been more important to be scientifically informed. (Insert rant here about, oh, I don't know, stem cells or something.) 60-Second Science and 60-Second Psych do not by any means constitute all the scientific knowledge you need, and indeed, without a decent grounding in their subjects it's tough to make them stick in your mental latticework. But they are excellent supplements to a steady diet of books, magazines, newspapers and critically-acclaimed television specials.

[Direct all correspondence to colinjmarshall at gmail. Podthoughts discussion thread available here.]


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The man Wale isn't quite as impressive to me as he is to some, but he does have skills, and that D.A.N.C.E. song is bananas, so the combination is great. A little rapping is great for cutting the general... uhm... Frenchness of the original. Nice to hear someone repping the District, too. Besides these MaxFunsters who are planning a meetup around the Paul F. Tompkins show, of course.

Slick Rick: You Can Stay!

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I'm usually against "Free XXX Rapper" campaigns. Most rappers (not all, of course) have great legal representation, and if they end up in jail, it's because they did some shit they deserved to go to jail for.

My feelings on Slick Rick, however, are completely the opposite. Rick was born in the UK, though he moved to New York as a toddler. Unfortunately, he never went through the many hoops to become a US citizen. In 1990, Rick shot a cousin who the rapper accused of trying to extort and kill him. His plea arrangement in the case was specifically tailored to avoid triggering deportation. After he was released, the interpretation of the rules changed, and the government has been trying to deport him more or less ever since.

Of course, letting Rick become a citizen of the United States is enormously beneficial to our country. He's one of the great musicians of his generation, and he's been working tirelessly to help prevent violence since his release. If you've ever heard him speak, he's an eloquent voice for a better country.

Yesterday, New York's new governor, David Patterson, gave Rick a full pardon. His lawyers will file for a waiver of deportation within two weeks. I couldn't be more pleased.

Hurray for the Rickster!

Here's the full story in the NY Times.

I'm off to Santa Cruz for Maximum Funny!


I'm headed to Santa Cruz -- Saturday night is the big show!

I'll be hosting a performance by Mary Van Note, Brent Weinbach and Kasper Hauser at the Kuumbwa Jazz Center in Santa Cruz. We're calling it "Maximum Funny," and all the proceeds from the show will benefit KUSP, the station that carries TSOYA in the Scruz.

Check out Wallace Baine's really nice piece in the Santa Cruz Sentinel for some more info about the show... or check out Traci Hukill's great piece in the Metro Santa Cruz.

This thing's gonna be a blast, and the money goes to a great cause. Get your tickets at

"Jesse, you only like rap music."


Band of Horses, "No One's Gonna Love You" from The FADER on Vimeo.

WRONG. I also like THE HORSE BAND, and their hit single "No One's Gonna Love You."

Podcast: Reno 911!'s Stars and Creators Thomas Lennon, Robert Ben Garant and Kerri Kenney-Silver


Thomas Lennon, Robert Ben Garant and Kerri Kenney-Silver are the co-creators and co-stars of Comedy Central's Reno 911!. The show, a mockumentary in the style of COPS, is headed into the second half of its fifth season. The trio also collaborated on the Comedy Central series Viva Variety, and worked together as members of the sketch comedy group The State.

During our interview, they revealed that The State will be producing a Comedy Central special later this year, along with a DVD release of the full series, including numerous extras.

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If you enjoyed this show, try these:
Two Sides of a Coin with Dave Attell and Michael Showalter
The Nucular Option with Geoffrey Nunberg and Stella (David Wain, Michael Ian Black & Michael Showalter)
Patton Oswalt

Reno 911 Returns Tonight


Coming up tommorow, an interview with Kerri Kenney-Silver, Thomas Lennon and Robert Ben Garant.

But for now: Kenny-Silver and AMERICA'S FUNNIEST MAN, Mr. Andrew Daly.

The Masters of Song-Fu


Speaking of Paul & Storm and Jonathan Coulton, our old pal Ken Plume over at Quickstop Entertainment is running a very interesting competition. He's asked P&S, Coulton and Doc Hammer (The Venture Brothers) to serve as "Iron Chefs" for a songwriting contest called The Masters of Song-Fu. They take on 20 challengers, writing a song in just one week on a theme suggested by the site.

This week, it's "Write A Classic TV Theme for Yourself."

Should be interesting.

We dance just as good as we walk!

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This is right up there with DJ Quik's "Pitch In Ona Party" on my list of ALL TIME JAMS. Pitch In is below.

Tighten Up via LonelySandwich

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