Archive for the ‘podcasts’ Category
Today, it seems like everyone has a favorite comedian; it’s almost hard not to. With great work being done for the big screen all the way down to mobile devices, smart, funny entertainment is more accessible now than during any other time in history. Here are just a few podcasts that give you a behind the scenes look at a life in comedy.
New Yorker: Emily Nussbaum, Jelani Cobb, and Sasha Weiss discuss “Key & Peele”
New Yorker television critic Emily Nussbaum and frequent contributor Jelani Cobb discuss the way the Comedy Central show “Key & Peele” addresses race.
Extra credit: read Emily’s review of the show.
By the Way, In Conversation with Jeff Garlin: Conan O’Brien
It’s hard to go wrong with an episode of Jeff Garlin’s “By The Way,” his not-so-new-anymore podcast on Earwolf. As it turns out, Jeff and Conan O’Brien were roommates during their Chicago days, which makes this episode particularly entertaining.
Extra credit: watch the special Conan put together during the year he was exiled from late night TV, “Conan O’Brien Can’t Stop.”
Recommended If You Like: Marc Maron
This past spring comedian and podcast host Marc Maron launched his latest book, Attempting Normal, with a bunch of interviews. It was interesting to hear him on the other side of the mic. In this show he talks in-depth about his career in comedy.
Extra credit: watch Marc Maron’s latest stand-up special, “Thinky Pain.”
WTF with Marc Maron: Baratunde Thurston
Marc Maron, back on his side of the table, speaks with Baratunde Thurston, comedian and author of How to Be Black. The two guys talk about their childhoods, their views on social media, and, of course, race.
Girl on Guy: Chris Rock
Host Aisha Tyler talks to Chris about his childhood, how he learned comedy, and sketch vs. stand-up.
Nerdist: Jim Rash and Nat Faxon
Jim Rash, known to “Community” fans as Dean Pelton, joins fellow actor/comedian Nat Faxon to talk about improv and teaching comedy at the LA-based comedy group The Groundlings.
Nerdist: Aziz Ansari
Having just released a new stand-up special, Aziz Ansari talks to Chris Hardwick about how he tested out the show’s material, where he is in his career right now, and the importance of change.
Extra credit: watch Aziz’s latest stand-up special, “Buried Alive,” now streaming on Netflix.
Comedy Bang Bang: Amy Poehler
What can only be described as mental jujitsu, Amy Poehler unleashes her improvisational skills for an hour and a half.
Long-form journalism—creative nonfiction which is longer than a traditional article but shorter than a novel—is all the rage these days. Whether you believe the genre has made a comeback or you feel it had never gone away, it’s hard to ignore the growing excitement for recently developed sites such as Byliner, Atavist, Longreads, and Longform.
Earlier this year, Buzzfeed announced its long-form section, breaking from its forte, the listicle; and just this past summer, The New York Times announced it was developing a new, long-form digital magazine.
Those who seek these medium length stories will be happy to know that Longform has a weekly podcast.
Hosted by Longform co-founders Aaron Lammer and Max Linsky, and Founder and Editor of Atavist, Evan Ratliff, the show asks nonfiction writers and editors about their assignments, creative processes, and careers. These free-flowing conversations offer invaluable insight into the world of journalism and the writers who bring you the stories.
Whether you’re a writer or a media junkie, this podcast, with sixty-five episodes in its archive, will be a highlight of your week. Here are just a few places to start, in descending date order.
Gay Talese began his writing career with The New York Times as their sports reporter in the late 50s. In the mid 60s he left to write full-time for Esquire. Talese is known for his profiles, most notably the one on Sinatra, “Sinatra Has a Cold,” which ran in Esquire in 1966.
Extra credit: Gay Talese, The Art of Nonfiction, No. 2; The Paris Review
Edith Zimmerman, Founding Editor of The Hairpin, talks about starting up the affiliate site to The Awl, running it, and handing it over to someone else. Known for unconventional approaches to writing profiles, she talks about her piece on Chris Evans, written for GQ, and what contributed to its originality.
Natasha Vargas-Cooper talks about crime reporting, her approach to perspective, trying to write a book in 30 days, and her interest in the human narrative. Her writing has appeared in GQ, Spin, New York, and on BuzzFeed.
Anyone familiar with Ann Friedman’s advice column on the Columbia Journalism Review’s website, #realtalk, won’t be surprised to hear that her episode is full of excellent tips for freelancers, like creating a weekly email newsletter and drinking with editors.
Extra credit: Ann writes a weekly column at The Cut on New York magazine’s website and recently wrote a piece about LinkedIn for The Baffler.
Emily Nussbaum, television critic for The New Yorker, talks about criticism today, how she chooses what to write about, and how Twitter helps her brainstorm.
Extra credit: Read Emily’s archive at The New Yorker. Follow her coverage on Twitter.
Breaking Bad, the show about a chemistry teacher turned meth kingpin, premiered in 2008 and had its series finale the other week. In the final episode there were flashbacks to the very beginning. For those who have been following in real time, it was probably a shock to see the evolution of Walter White, played by Bryan Cranston, laid bare. For those who haven’t seen the show yet, I’m jealous. It’s one of those shows you wish you could watch it for the first time over and over again. For those who have, here’s a roundup of great interviews with the cast, crew, and critics.
Stuff You Should Know: How Meth Works
In this episode, hosts Josh and Chuck discuss the culture and science of methamphetamine, from lingo to manufacturing of to biological side effects.
New Yorker Out Loud: Emily Nussbaum and Tad Friend Discuss “Breaking Bad”
The New Yorker’s TV critic Emily Nussbaum and staff writer Tad Friend discuss Walter White as an antihero and the overall nature of the show.
Nerdist Writer’s Panel: “Breaking Bad” Season Five in Review
“Breaking Bad” showrunner/creator Vince Gilligan and writers Peter Gould, Sam Catlin, George Mastras, Gennifer Hutchison, Thomas Schnauz, Moira Walley-Beckett and Gordon Smith talk about writing the show, how the fifth season unfolded, and their feelings about the finale.
Nerdist: Aaron Paul
Aaron Paul talks about how he got into acting, what it’s like playing Jesse on the show, and how it is to work alongside Bryan Cranston.
WTF with Marc Maron: Bryan Cranston
Bryan Cranston once wanted to be a policeman; he tells Marc Maron what made him change his mind and go into acting. He also talks about crafting Walter White’s persona.
By the Way, In Conversation with Jeff Garlin: Vince Gilligan
Vince talks about his career in TV, how “Breaking Bad” episodes come together, and how television differs from film today.
Fresh Air Bob Odenkirk
Bob Odenkirk, who plays the sleazy lawyer Saul Goodman, talks to Terry Gross about the basis for his character, what it’s like to play a humorous part in a dark drama, and his career as a comedy writer.
Fresh Air: Breaking Bad Writers
Breaking Bad writers Peter Gould and Thomas Schnauz talk about the final season.
This post originally ran on Longreads, where I now contribute a monthly podcast roundup.
Hip hop began in the 1970s as an underground movement; today it’s everywhere. From house parties in the suburbs to national television advertising campaigns it’s recognizable, celebrated, and imitated. Snoop Dogg made headlines when he changed his name to Snoop Lion and Jay Z and Beyonce were given the same treatment as the British Monarchy when they had their first child.
Since its start on the street of New York, hip hop has grown into a multi-billion dollar industry. The cash flow now includes not only music but art shows featuring graffiti as well as successful clothing lines.
1. Stuff You Should Know: How Hip-Hop Works (52:13)
In this episode of Stuff You Should Know, hosts Chuck and Josh discuss the history of hip-hop, from The Sugar Hill Gang to the present. They add their own personal history, which includes stories of attempted breakdancing and well-intentioned clothing choices. You can read more about it on their site.
2. Los Angeles Review of Books: 2pac and Biggie (1 hr.)
Co-authors Jeff Weiss and Evan McGarvey speak with host Colin Marshall about their book 2pac vs. Biggie: An Illustrated History of Rap’s Greatest Battle. They talk about the artists’ rivalry, their beginnings, how their styles differed, and why you’re missing out if you only listen to one and not the other.
3. NPR Fresh Air: Questlove (45:14)
The drummer for The Roots talks about his influences growing up, how he listens to music, and his favorite part of Soul Train. (Bonus: Also check out Terry Gross’s classic 2010 interview with Jay-Z.)
Dan Charnas, a veteran hip-hop journalist and one of the first writers for The Source, talks with Jesse Thorn about the history of the hip-hop music business and how executives and entrepreneurs turned an underground scene into the world’s predominant pop culture.
5. WBUR On Point: Fame and Fortune of Jay-Z (48:00)
Andrew Rice, contributing editor for New York magazine, spoke about his article on Jay-Z’s business acumen with James Braxton Peterson, director of Africana Studies, professor of English at Lehigh University, and founder of Hip Hop Scholars. Together they delve into the financial side of Jay-Z’s career.
If you were around in the ’90s, you might recognize Michael Rapaport from movies like Zebrahead, Poetic Justice, and Higher Learning. In 2011, he came out with a documentary on A Tribe Called Quest. He talks to The Treatment’s Elvis Mitchell about his love of hip-hop, his childhood in New York City, and his experience filming his favorite artists.
The mark of a great comedy podcast is having to give this caveat: if you aren’t comfortable laughing to yourself in public, best to listen to this one at home alone. Every one of the now seven episodes of By the Way, In Conversation with Jeff Garlin has made me laugh out loud, often with an uncontrollable sputter. Not only that, I grin nearly the whole way through, which, I might add, makes me appear friendly during rush hour, a threat to my tough New Yorker exterior.
Actor, comedian, producer Jeff Garlin, known best to me for his role as Larry David’s manager and friend in Curb Your Enthusiasm, hosts a conversation with fellow talented entertainment industry creatives in front of a live audience at Largo in Los Angeles.
The run time is about an hour and a half, with J.J. Abrams clocking in at an hour and fifty, but however long the show, it never gets tedious. Garlin is one of the rare hosts who can keep you engaged and entertained long past the standard 45 minutes.
Whether Garlin has had the good fortune of sitting down with people who enjoy his company, or if he’s just that good at putting people at ease, every conversation has been comfortable and paved the way for mutual openness. In the first episode, Garlin draws out Larry David’s quirks, of which there are many—one being his dislike of listening to music for its own sake. In episode two, he and Lena Dunham discuss the hell that is awards shows—unless, as was the case with Dunham, you have your quick-witted mom in tow. Parenting, and family life in general, is a common topic: both J.J. Abrams and Will Ferrell like to make their kids breakfast and see them off to school. Farrell volunteers at his son’s soccer games and J.J. makes up stories at bedtime.
Even if Garlin didn’t have great timing and a knack for getting stories out of his guests, his laugh, boisterous and infectious, would be enough to get your smile going. The only downside of By the Way is its lack of an archive, having just begun in January of this year. However, if you get in on it now, you’ll be one of the lucky ones with bragging rights, able to say you were listening to it back when, because, with a bit of luck and more excellent guests, this show will be around for a very long time.
By the Way, In Conversation with Jeff Garlin
I came across so many great podcasts lately, I just had to do another roundup.
The Nerdist Writer’s Panel wrapped up their series of live panels, taped at the ATX Television Festival.
The Books to TV Series featured David Hudgins (Friday Night Lights), Bob Levy (Alloy Entertainment: The Lying Game, The Vampire Diaries, Gossip Girl), Julie Plec (co-creator, The Vampire Diaries), and Michael Rauch (creator, Love Monkey) talking about the process of turning a book into a television show. It was moderated by Meg Masters of TVLine.
In Stages of TV Writing,Noah Hawley (creator, the Unusuals), Kyle Killen (creator, Awake and Lone Star), David Hudgins (Friday Night Lights; Parenthood), Hardy Janson, and Evan Miller (Hook Ups) talk about their careers.
Late Night Library, a show that focuses on the independent side of publishing, sat down with Robyn Tenenbaum and Courtenay Hameister. The two co-founders of Live Wire!, a live public radio program in Portland, talk about producing an arts & culture variety show.
They also spoke with independent press publisher, Rhonda Hughes of Hawthorne Books, and Liz Crain, their editorial and publicity director. The three talk the business of running a small press.
The Readers, a show between two friends about books, talked about what happens after you finish a great book. They also wonder if there’s such thing as a British Novel. This week they have a casual chat about imprints.
The other week in the New Yorker, Oliver Sacks had a story about his experiments with drugs in the 60s, all of which he treated as scientific research. On the New Yorker Out Loud he talks about it.
Everyone’s favorite comedian, Louis C.K., has a great talk about movies and television with Elvis Mitchell on KCRW’s The Treatment. Over the course of the interview, C.K. calls his daughters his heroes. Then he says money spent on entertainment is sacred. Amazing.
Three Percent, hosted by two guys working largely with translated literature, talk about book reviews, sparked by some recent events in the publishing and writing community.
Ed Champion sits down with crime writer Laura Lippman, for the release of her latest book And When She Was Good. It was a great talk about the craft of writing.
For the 100th episode of the Other People podcast, host Brad Listi did not disappoint. He spoke with George Saunders, an excellent choice.
BBC Radio 4’s Open Book did a special on Scottish crime writing–or “Tartan Noir” as the specific genre is known. Host Dreda Say Mitchell spoke with an author and a publisher. It definitely made me want to run out and read some.
CBC’s Writers & Company rebroadcast an interview with British humorist Alan Bennett. If you like British humor–Stephen Fry, John Cleese, etc., and you don’t already know who Alan Bennett is, you’ll be psyched after hearing this.
Oh and … Joan Rivers was on The Nerdist. It was incredible.
For all my fellow podcast junkies, or those who don’t know where to start, I highly recommend these shows that recently graced my ears. In no particular order, other than my memory:
Other People podcast with Brad Listi: Karl Taro Greenfeld
Karl Taro Greenfeld is the author of, most recently, Triburbia, a debut novel that follows his career in journalism and his previous memoir about his autistic brother. In this interview with Brad Listi, Greenfeld talks about his career in magazines, the trouble with memory and how it translates on the page, and levels of fabrication in works of nonfiction. After you’ve listened, you can read his Q&A with the Daily Beast.
Girl on Guy with Aisha Tyler: RuPaul’s drag race, drag u, supermodel of the world
Aisha Tyler’s near-2-hour interview podcast is quickly becoming a favorite of mine. Not only is she funny in this adorably nerdy way, she knows how to have a conversation. In a recent episode Tyler sat down with the legendary RuPaul, best known as the drag queen made famous by the 1993 song “Supermodel (You Better Work)”.
In the interview Ru talks about his beginnings in California, moving to Atlanta, coming to New York City and making a name for himself in the club scene, first dressing in “punk drag” (think David Bowie), then “black hooker drag,” and finally moving on to the upscale diva he is today.
Nerdist Writer’s Panel: TV Fantasy Goes Mainstream
Live from the ATX Television Festival, Nerdist Writer’s Panel host, Ben Blacker, moderates a panel discussion with Jeff Davis (creator, Teen Wolf and Criminal Minds); Jane Espenson (Once Upon a Time; Husbands; BSG; Buffy); Richard Hatem (creator, Miracles; Grimm); Jose Molina (Firefly; Terra Nova; Vampire Diaries); Ben Edlund (creator, The Tick; Firefly; Supernatural).
A show geared towards those looking to get into the television industry on the creative side, although highly enjoyable for all who love the inner workings of the entertainment industry, this all-star lineup discusses how they’ve pitched shows, mistakes they’ve made, and the climate for fantasy in television today.
Bookrageous: Stream of Consciousness Edition
For all of you unfamiliar with Bookrageous, this is one of the best book podcasts out there. I’ve said it before and I’ll keep saying it simply because I think everyone should listen to it. Twice a month friends Jenn, a bookseller in Brooklyn, Rebecca, a book blogger in Virginia, and Josh, a blogger and bookseller in Maine, get together by Skype and talk about books. They start with what they’re reading—because all three have access to advance copies from the publisher, every so often a title to yet available sneaks in, which is good for other bloggers or readers who like to know about books early—and next they move on a topic for discussion.
Topics in the recent past have included essay collections, funny books, and the books they’d bring with them to a desert island.
For their most recent episode they came up with topics on the fly and it was just as enjoyable as their planned shows. Listen to what they have to say about parody books, books they haven’t read yet but wish they had, and “high fantasy” recommendations to the group from science fiction and fantasy expert Jenn.
Book Based Banter: Book Groups, Top Summer Reads, and Are You Literary Enough?
Another excellent book podcast. In this episode Gavin and Simon discuss book groups. They mention one in particular that instead of picking a specific book they choose a topic and everyone in the group reads a book within that theme. For example, Paris or a circus. I thought that was a great idea. They also ask themselves, and their listeners, what it means to be “literary”. What is a literary book? If you like to think about books, definitely listen to this one.
NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour: On Fall TV And Whether Criticism Is Too Nice
The Pop Culture Happy Hour is always fantastic but this week they discuss the recent article that ran in Slate about Twitter ruining literary criticism. This roundtable of three pop culture critics have some interesting things to say on the topic, but first Linda Holmes talks about upcoming television shows and after they all rave about “what’s making [them] happy this week”. Great show, you should subscribe now so you don’t miss an episode.
SF Signal: Steampunk Roundtable
If you like science fiction, and steampunk in particular, you won’t want to miss this round table discussion with authors, reviewers, and editors Cherie Priest, Jay Lake, Gail Carriger, Paul Di Fillipo, Phillipa Ballantine and Tee Morris. Listen to them hash out a definition, talk about the history of the movement, and discuss books within the genre.
Bookworm: Sheila Heti
Interview Editor for The Believer magazine, novelist, and Canadian Sheila Heti sat down in Los Angeles with Michael Silverblatt to discuss her latest novel, How Should a Person Be?. What transpires is a great conversation about writing fiction from real life.
Sound Opinions: Jack White
Even if you’ve never heard one chord of Jack White’s music from his now defunct band The White Stripes, you will still want to listen to this incredible interview with the talented and bright musician. Throughout this oral history of White’s life getting into and being in the business are clips of his songs. Heading up one of the best shows about music on the air, Sound Opinions’ hosts Jim and Greg are perfect for getting White to open up about the things that matter—music, music, and music. Check out this gossip-free interview with an incredible musician.
As someone who went to school for Music Business and who now works in book publishing, I often see the parallels between musicians and authors. It always surprised me when I first started my job search and the interviewer would ask, “Music Business? Why do you want to get into book publishing?” For me it was an easy leap, whether you’re working with a musician or a writer, it’s artist representation.
So, when I heard from John Anealio, co-host of the Functional Nerds podcast, that he wanted to have me on the show alongside a music marketing strategist, I was excited he made the connection as well.
The other guest on the show, Brian Thompson, is a “Vancouver based music industry entrepreneur, record label owner, artist manager, marketing consultant, digital strategist, brand architect, web designer, blogger, podcaster and industry speaker.” He’s one of the co-founders of Thorny Bleeder Records, “an artist development collective” that helps bands “establish and grow their profile and fan base, both domestically and internationally.”
Since being on the show with him, I’ve signed up for his email newsletter, The DIY Daily, a “daily newsletter delivering marketing advice, music industry news, social media tips & tools, tech, apps & gadgets, inspirational & motivational thoughts and much more.” Everyday, waiting for me in my inbox, are 20 great links about how artists of all kinds can use social media effectively. More than most apply to the publishing industry and are links I can forward along to my authors.
On The DIY Daily website, you’ll find a daily podcast offering a variety of marketing tips in under 20 minutes, an in-depth weekly podcast about the music business, daily quotes, and the aforementioned link roundup if you prefer to not to receive them by email.
On the show, Brian, John, Patrick and I discussed the benefits of email lists, social media, and how artists should treat themselves as a business.
You can listen to the episode here.
If you have any questions, check back on the Functional Nerds site next week. Book Publicist Jaym Gates and I will be collecting questions for a future online round table.
On the Shelf
Booklife: Strategies and Survival Tips for the 21st Century Writer by Jeff VanderMeer
Best known as the author of many science fiction and fantasy novels, as well as the editor of many genre anthologies, in Booklife, Jeff VanderMeer offers “timely advice in an era when the burden of production and publicity frequently falls on authors.” Booklife is an “essential reference [that] reflects on methods for being focused, productive, and savvy in the craft of writing.
Discussing a wide range of essential topics for self-promoting authors, this important guide explores questions such as How can authors use social media and the internet? How does the new online paradigm affect authors, readers, and the book industry? How can authors find the time to both create and promote their work? and What should never be done? Through good-humored encouragement, practical tips of the trade culled from 25 years of experience as a writer, reviewer, editor, publisher, agent, and blogger are shared. Including topics such as personal space versus public space, deadlines, and networking, the benefits of interacting with readers through new technologies is revealed.” [via IndieBound]
Bookrageous is one of my favorite book-themed podcasts. Hosted by bookseller and Brews and Books blogger Josh Christie; event coordinator Jenn Northington; and Rebecca Schinsky, the blogger behind The Book Lady’s Blog, the show is a relaxed conversation between friends.Every other week the three run through what they’ve just read and what they’re reading now. Each time, they put my own list to shame — both in quality and quantity. While they have similar tastes — all gravitate towards highbrow, conceptual titles (without becoming pretentious) — I’ve come to look to Josh for graphic novels, Jenn for genre, and Rebecca for literary fiction.
For a while now I’ve had some form of contact with the three, to a varying degree, and talks of me being a guest on the podcast had been casually batted around; but this week it actually happened. David Gutowski of Largehearted Boy and I sat in to discuss “Book Touring”. Together we run Book Boroughing, a literary site for New York City and surrounding area.
As frequent event-goers and hardcore evangelists for the cause, we were called upon to discuss literary events at home and book-inspired travel. On the show the five of us discuss author readings, bookstores in other cities, book festivals, and literary adventurism.
I won’t say anymore; you can listen to it here.
On this shelf this week:
Here are just a few books mentioned at the top of the podcast:
Raylan by Elmore Leonard
“As a novel, Raylan is a casual endeavor, Leonard having fun with a character who’s gained a measure of popularity. It’s also a pisser. Leonard has come up with some doozies for the plot: the dimwit sons of a backwoods pot grower joining in a scheme to swipe kidneys and then ransom them back for replacement in the victims’ bodies; a female coal company exec who, annoyed with a local’s complaints about the pollution caused by strip mining, picks up a rifle and shoots the old man. The violence here has the swift kick of a good, mean joke. It makes you wince and grin at the same time.” [via Barnes & Noble Review]
You can hear Elmore on NPR’s Fresh Air discuss his crime writing secrets
Contents May Have Shifted by Pam Houston
“Contents May Have Shifted is Pam Houston’s new novel. Except I’m not really sure you can call it a novel, even though that’s what the cover says, and even though I don’t have any helpful suggestions for what you should call it instead. About a globetrotting writer named Pam who has a part-time residence in Creede, Colorado (all things that are true of Houston as well), it is comprised of short vignettes that present Pam’s story in non-linear narrative and a borderline stream-of-consciousness style that makes it read like a memoir. No, like a diary–a very beautifully written diary.” [via Rebecca’s review]
Why We Broke Up by Daniel Handler (words) and Maira Kalman (illustrations)
“Ed Slaterton is part of the “grunty jock crowd,” a high school basketball hero who, in his über-popularity, is like “some movie everyone sees growing up.” Min Green is a wry, thoughtful, film-obsessed junior who manages for one miraculous stretch of time to get Ed to stop using the word “gay” as a catch-all pejorative.
It is this miraculous stretch of time – the one month and seven days after the pair shock their classmates by falling in love – that is chronicled in the delightful “Why We Broke Up,” a novel by Daniel Handler, with illustrations by Maira Kalman. Told in the form of a confessional letter by the heartbroken Min, the book is so good at capturing what it feels like to be a jilted 16-year-old girl that it seems almost wasted on its young-adult audience.” [via San Francisco Chronicle]
You can share your break up story with Maira and Daniel on their Tumblr page
Gabrielle (I plan to review the books I mention in the opening so here’s one I talk about later on)
The Basketball Diaries by Jim Carroll
“The Basketball Diaries is a 1978 memoir written by author and musician Jim Carroll. It is an edited collection of the diaries he kept between the ages of twelve and sixteen. Set in New York City, they detail his daily life, sexual experiences, high school basketball career, Cold War paranoia, the counter-culture movement, and, especially, his addiction to heroin, which began when he was 13. The book is considered a classic piece of adolescent literature.” [via Wikipedia]
Stay Awake: Stories by Dan Chaon
“While Stay Awake does not abandon Chaon’s signature themes of identity and isolation, disappearance and memory, it flirts even more openly with the line between the supernatural and the rationalistic – and indeed two of the stories, “The Bees” and “The Farm. The Gold. The Lily-White Hands,” have overtly supernatural elements. The situations have grown even more extreme: a couple has a two-headed baby, a woman drowns several of her children, a father comes into his young daughters’ bedroom intending to kill them in their sleep. Two men in two completely different stories fall off of ladders, severing a finger – a coincidence that I must admit I found distracting. Characters desperately want to or do escape their homes, their towns, the marriages they’ve made; they think they’re free of the past until memory or something even more sinister catches up with them. One character watches Soylent Green on late-night TV, and an actor in that horror movie is described as “running through the future, screaming.” The phrase could easily be an alternate title for this book.” [via The Millions]
You can read Dan’s Book Notes piece at Largehearted Boy
I was introduced to the Other People podcast by author Blake Butler’s editor. Blake, best known as the founding editor of the popular literary website HTMLGIANT, had just published his first book of nonfiction, Nothing: A Portrait of Insomnia, and was making the media rounds. Other People had just interviewed him before his New York event and at the reading his editor couldn’t praise the episode highly enough.
I wrote down the name of the show so I wouldn’t forget, ran home, and subscribed. Ever since that day, the podcast has been at the top of my listening list. As soon as it downloads, every Wednesday and Sunday morning, it’s the first thing I play when I step out the door.
The twice-weekly, hour-long author interview podcast is hosted by Brad Listi, fiction author and founder of The Nervous Breakdown, a culture website and online literary community. As someone who spends his time reading, writing, and speaking with fellow authors, Brad started Other People because it was the type of show he wanted to hear but couldn’t find.
Other People, free from the time and editorial constraints of radio, takes the conversation beyond the same, mundane questions often asked of authors. After all, what’s more interesting to fellow writers than to hear someone talk about their writing process? Or for readers to get to know how an author approaches life, not just character development? In an interview with Fictionaut, Brad said that the show is meant to focus “on authors as people — who they are, where they’re from, [and] why they do what they do” and aims to be “more personal than the average book-related show.”
The interviews are a conversation rather than a formulaic Q&A, as if the host and guest are sitting on a couch drinking beer or coffee. This intimate back-and-forth doesn’t come about by accident; Brad is able to tease out these personal stories because he shares his own. He prefers interviews “where it’s a true dialogue on equal footing, rather than a one-way interrogation.” It’s this approach makes it possible to listen to an episode without having read an author’s work or having heard of them beforehand.
A careful and curious listener, Brad picks up on minor details, keeping the conversation spontaneous: Blake Butler speaks about his approach to Twitter, Dana Spiotta about the Seattle music scene in the 90s, Dennis Cooper about his practice of writing porn as a warm-up, and Elissa Schappell on why she prefers to stay away from literary events.
Before each interview, you’ll hear Brad’s 10 to 15-minute monologue — generally on a topic wildly unrelated to what follows. No matter how random or meandering it seems, it’s always a smart investigation into the host’s psyche. When Dana Spiotta mentioned his openings — and how she liked them — Brad called it “audio blogging” and said it lets “people know who you are”.
And therein lies the genius of Other People; with each episode, you learn more about Brad and get to know his guests in a unique and refreshing manner. Other People is consistently engrossing — one of the best podcasts I’ve come across and not likely to be trumped anytime soon. If you’re not already listening, you’re truly missing out on something incredible.
The Other People Podcast website
The Other People Podcast on Twitter
The Other People Podcast on Facebook
Interview with Brad Listi at Electric Literature
Interview with Brad Listi at HTMLGIANT
Interview with Brad Listi at Fictionaut
Anyone who follows me on Twitter knows that I’m a huge fan of arts & culture radio programs and podcasts. One of my favorites is produced by the science fiction and fantasy site SF Signal. Once a week they have a round table discussion with authors, bloggers, and other genre experts on a specific topic and then an author interview on a following day.
Patrick Hester, an author and blogger, is the host of the podcast and musician and blogger John Anealio is a sometimes guest. Both of these guys host an offshoot podcast, or what I consider to be an offshoot, called The Functional Nerds, also a weekly favorite of mine.
Once a week these two knowledgeable guys interview either a science fiction or fantasy author and discuss writing, music, movies, occasionally video games, and any other pop culture happening that comes to mind. Lately, they’ve branched out to include guests who might not have written a book but who are capable of discussing something nerdy.
When they asked me to be on the show, having first gotten to know each other through an author and then on Twitter (isn’t that how everything happens these days?), I was beyond psyched. Together with author Karin Lowachee, the four of us were to each come up with something we were nerding out about.
Oddly, or perhaps eerily, Karin and I both picked the FX show Sons of Anarchy. In the following podcast, you’ll hear me attempt to describe it and then Karin save us all from my bumbling. She does an impressive job explaining the deeper themes of the show — bringing in the Shakespearean elements and discussing why the characters are so compelling. Patrick decides he’s nerding out about Christmas, which is difficult for East Coasters (okay, me) to think about because it’s barely below 60 degrees here. Karin, at the last minute, because we’d doubled up on our nerdy picks, gave a plug for the graphic novel Damaged, the story of three brothers who choose different paths for meting out justice. You can read her interview with one of the creators, Michael Schwarz, at SF Signal.
And then finally, John threw us all back to the late-80s with his thoughts on Crowded House (opens with sound), possibly best known for their 1987 hit Something So Strong. Him and I then discuss a brief history of electronic music, referencing Squarepusher, Aphex Twin, Amon Tobin, and the German techno scene happening now — with my suggestion, Pantha Du Prince.
A good time was had by all. I hope you’ll listen. Here’s the link.
i first saw charrow’s work at Joe, an independent coffee shop with five locations around manhattan. the chalk-drawn squirrels on the outside blackboard, meant to entice passersby, had a hard-edged, snarky charm. inside the 13th street location, just southwest of union square, charrow’s work is displayed on the walls: light-hearted yet critical, colorful yet muted. her subjects, mainly animals, are whimsical. it makes waiting for the morning espresso tolerable.
the paradoxical nature of the illustrations, wholly intentional, pairs well with charrow’s choice of medium: gouache, an opaque paint that’s similar to the watercolors most people used in grade school. what differs, gouache’s less binding nature and the addition of white, makes it easier to fix and better for scanning. “it’s for people who are stressed out by watercolor,” charrow said, adding that the paint can also take on the appearance of acrylic depending on how it’s mixed.
prior to grad school, outside the occasional highlight, charrow worked in pen and ink. she didnt know how to use color; her disastrous experience with oil paints was far from encouraging, not to mention her hostile feelings towards acrylic. both were too heavy and any attempts at thinning them out ended in a soupy mess. it wasn’t until a professor introduced her to gouache that she realized working with color could be enjoyable. now whenever she thinks about what to draw, she first wonders how it will look in color.
charrow, now living in brooklyn, got her start in academia start studying art history at Smith College. “it gave me a more analytical eye,” she said, paying homage to her degree in spite of it not having been necessary for the jobs she’s had so far. she continues, ” it helps give you the language, for sure; i definitely have a language to describe what i’m seeing.. . . but,” she says of art critics, “they attach and apply all this language to what people were doing. they dissect their inspiration; dissect what it was they were accomplishing; and i was like, you can’t actually know what that person was trying to accomplish.. . . language is useful when used properly,” she concludes.
“they’re words. if people pay for art and hang it up on their wall, that makes it fine art in my opinion.”
as her education progressed, charrow came to investigate the conventional labels art uses to define itself—especially within the realm of art history. school had taught her about color, introduced her to a life-altering medium, and gave her language to explain art, but it also made her hyper-aware of that same institution’s distinction between fine art and illustration. ”i’ll never be able to be an artist because i’m an illustrator,” she’d think. although it’s since been worked out in her head with illustration validated, she still feels that, minus a few superstars, illustration and comic book art is not yet taken seriously within the art world. ”when talking about late-20th century artists,” she said, “they never reference [Robert] Crumb,” the underground comic book artist now in his late-60s. “he’s an artist.”
most artists know that the pressure to create can hang like a weight around one’s neck. “when i don’t have any ideas i will try to find assignments,” charrow said when asked about her process for collecting ideas. illustration friday, an open online forum for artists, has been instrumental in helping charrow break out of stale moments and has rescued her from burnout. the site posts a new word each week and whoever participants has 7 days to create something based on that one word. although artists compete for “pick of the week,” charrow finds that using it to keep the creativity and artwork flowing is reward enough. charrow, however, does submit her work competitively and has recently been chosen by they draw and cook, a website devoted to illustrated recipes, to be a part of their illustrated cook book coming out in the fall of 2011.
[interview] :: back from her tour of coffee and graffiti in western europe, charrow sat down with me to discuss campy new york pets, the status of the city squirrels, and the varieties of aqua:
[bonus audio] :: listen to charrow discuss the illustration industry from an artist’s perspective:
5 random questions for charrow:
- top 3 children’s book illustrators:
Emma Adbage (Swedish), Oliver Jeffers (British), and Arthur de Pins—but he’s really for adults so as an
bonus, Jay Ryan. he does amazing poster art that looks like a children’s book.
- cause for your last great burst of inspiration:
The Wrong Place by Brecht Evens. It’s really amazing.
- in rotation on your iPod:
Florence+Machine on repeat mixed with a little Le Loup
- favorite coffee drink to make: Large Latte in ceramic…it allows me to show off latte art the best…but I enjoy drinking cortados.
- what you should do more of but don’t:
laundry and proof reading
in addition to churning out art, charrow currently teaches coffee classes at joe on 13th street
charrow’s official website
charrow on etsy
they draw and cook :: forthcoming cookbook with charrow entry
joe: the art of coffee :: take coffee classes the 13th street location with charrow
the ispot :: illustration portfolio site
illustration friday :: for artist’s block and inspiration
my guest, stephanie, works in publicity and as someone who spends a lot of time communicating through writing, i thought she might have a favorite punctuation mark. it turns out that stephanie is yet another em dash fan. her use of the em dash has, admittedly, increased over the years. its versatility and largely-unchallenged usage is at the root of her love for the mark.
the em dash, she feels, is there to set something off, to highlighting and emphasis what you’re about to say next. because the writer chooses what to highlight, stephanie feels that no other punctuation mark has as much freedom. plus, she says, “they look elegant”—especially when you leave out the space in between.
stephanie mentions the non-abstractness of the em dash, that it’s there to stop you in your tracks—a typographical speed bump—and that it’s function matches its appearance. although i look at it from a slightly different angle: that the em dash is there to lead you along—like the straightaway of a racetrack—we both seem to have come to the same conclusion: the em dash has a visual component that matches its meaning and that its meaning is varied.
as with mariam and rebecca, stephanie feels that the em dash evokes drama. interestingly, she has a theory that there might be a link between a person’s favorite punctuation mark and their personality. for example, she wonders if semicolon users are more refined and subtle than the em dashers who, like their chosen mark, might be a bit more dramatic. to test her hypothesis she plans to look out for big hand gestures.
listen to what else stephanie has to say about the em dash
If a period is a stop sign, then what kind of traffic flow is created by other marks? The comma is a speed bump; the semicolon is what a driver education teacher calls a ‘rolling stop’; the parenthetical expression is a detour; the colon is a flashing yellow light that announces something important up ahead; the dash is a tree branch in the road.
roy peter clark, writing tools: 50 essential strategies for every writer (2006)
when you understand something, it becomes less frightening: less esoteric. grammar illustrates this point perfectly.
my first active encounter with grammar was Strunk & White’s Elements of Style–the widely-read, much-loved, and sometimes contested style and grammar guide. i flipped through the slim 4th edition a few times but didnt have enough experience to know how to use it, or reason enough to use it for that matter. when i first picked it up, i felt i should read it cover to cover–like a novel. i was writing at the time but was only in the early stages; i hadn’t developed a “bigger picture,” a sophisticated understanding of the art, and was trying to cram years-worth of information that i should’ve learned in grade school into a few sittings. while i wasn’t quite ready to use the guide for tips, tricks, and inspiration, i knew i was missing an important piece of information indispensable to an educated class.
as early as 10th grade i came across writers who used punctuation–or refused to–boldly. The Beats, mainly jack kerouac, were my informal introduction to these grammatical demarcations. kerouac’s experimental approach to fiction, memoir, travel writing, and journalism was exactly what i needed in my anarchic and angsty teen years. milan kundera, possibly to be placed on the opposite end of the spectrum, used grammar elegantly–like a school boy fearing a ruler across the knuckles–and through him, i viewed punctuation as precise, as if it were a road map–guiding readers through a terrain of words.
i asked around to some literary friends what their favorite punctuation mark was and was surprised by how many of them, without pause, mentioned the em dash. it’s one of my favorites too, especially when writing informal emails.
Here is what a few of my fellow grammar-nerds had to say about this versatile mark:
[rebecca discusses her affinity for the em dash, how she uses it, and the way emily dickinson did]
[mariam talks about her use of the em dash and zadie smith's perfect placement]
in the spirit of my favorite grammarian, Roy Peter Clark, who always gives his readers great exercises at the ends of the chapters in his books, i offer some of my own for em dash usage:
1. find examples in your daily paper and see why the journalist chose that mark of punctuation as opposed to a comma or a colon.
2. find an example of comma usage that could be more effective if an em dash were used.
3. write a sentence where an em dash at the end is used for dramatic effect.
shannon, a.k.a the foodist, tells us about the manhattan chefs who are branching out into brooklyn.
chefs moving into brooklyn:
blue ribbon opened a brooklyn restaurant in 2001, which made them one of the first of the manhattan chefs to do so. they have both a regular restaurant and a sushi place on fifth avenue in park slope. shannon says the sushi is a little expensive but that it’s a great place for a date, or, if you feel like splurging on good sushi. special to their brooklyn spot, is their raw bar and wine special. until about 6:30 or 7pm they’ll have $1.50 oysters and $1.00 clams and wine by the glass wine. shannon says, “amazing”.
fatty ‘cue is a southeast asian fusion place that just opened under the williamsburg bridge. it’s owned by the much-loved fatty crab guys. shannon thinks their red curry duck is the best thing she’s ever eaten and loves that their giant pork ribs look like they’re from the flintstones. she says the cold salads are awesome both for herself and for vegetarian friends and assures people that the cucumber and celery salads are way better than they might sound.
the ox cart tavern is a little ways out in brooklyn but way worth it. you can take the b or q train to newkirk ave. helpful travel tip: bring a book to read on the way. shannon is going there for dinner after our chat and is looking forward to the duck confit pot pie. i thought she’d said ‘duck con feet’ but no, this is some sort of french dish made with the leg of the animal; shannon is hoping it wont have bones but doesnt seem quite sure. also on the menu is fish, chips, and pickles–yes, all on one plate. the chef is aiming for daily specials and a different sort of pie each day. added bonus: they have actual houses in that area of brooklyn, “real suburban-looking houses”.
west village recommendations:
pizza, burgers, cupcakes, and literary bars
shannon says that brooklyn pizzerias are much better than the ones in manhattan but feels that john’s pizzeria holds up. not only is it famous, she says, but the pizza is really good and pretty cheap. another place worth scouting out is lombardi’s, ‘America’s First Pizzeria,’ according to its website. but, if you happen to be in the mood for burgers and fries, the corner bistro is where to go.
if you wind up at the famous magnolia bakery, shannon says to skip the cupcake and go for the banana pudding. but, she suggests, you should go to the lesser-known sweet revenge on carmine instead. somewhat surprisingly, shannon is not a fan of cupcakes, but, she loves the signature ‘sweet revenge’. as described on their menu, it’s peanut butter cake with ganache filling with peanut butter fudge frosting. i dont see how you can go wrong with that.
the west village has a “huge, rich history of poets, writers, musicians,” says shannon. if you’re looking for a beer, the white horse tavern is her favorite. she’d worked with a poet who used to drink there and according to one website, it looks like both bob dylan and dylan thomas did too. added bonus: outdoor seating. another good bar where literary authors used to hang out is kettle of fish on christopher street where stonewall used to be. while we dont have a list of famous names on hand, we suggest you look for pictures on the wall when you go to these places.
what’s your favorite brooklyn or west village restaurant?