Podcasts You’re Missing

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So podcasts, they’re pretty cool right? With eh, the kids, on their shmart phones or some such? They’re yolks ya listen to, like netflix for the blind I right?

Yes it seems that finally, for reasons no one really understands, probably because phones just about now got cheap enough, and data plans just about now got broadbandish enough, podcasts are kewl. As a withered old sock puppet o’podcasting, I thought I’d take the time to throw up a few recommendations. I’ve been listening to (and spewing out) podcasts since the early naughties. Like a psychic who’s hit the weights, the medium has never been in finer fettle. There are a multitude of delectable ear candies available that far too few folks are noshing on. Presumably because when the RTE Guide or whatever make their ‘best of’ lists, they instruct Joffrey the thirty five year old intern to tell them ‘what the kids are up to’ and poor old Joff faxes them the itunes top ten. Forget what’s popular, what’s actually good? Whatz the illest deep cuts oh podcastin’ yo. Sorry, I’ve Straight out of Inglewood playing in another tab.

Latest & Greatest

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I’d never heard of crusty journo-hippy Scott Carrier [RSS] [iTunes], before his recent podcast. But the mans a legend. He’s been a globe trotting wrong writer for decades, and the medium affords him the chance to drip feed us beautifully sautéed slices of grass roots journalism carved from his honey roasted eleven hundred year old ass.

Another aging sweet heart Adam Buxton, [RSS] has just launched a new show, where he interviews fellow lovies, mostly outside. There’s not much there yet, but Buxton has a talent for finding creative ways to use a ‘new’ medium, so watch this space.

Speak cantonese? No? Doesn’t matter. You’ll love Young Love Play [RSS]. This Hong Kong based podcast is produced with such panache and presented with such a musically comedic touch, the language barrier only makes it easier to appreciate the production.

All Time Classics

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The Tobolowsky Files [iTunes] [RSS] just keeps getting better. ‘Veteran character actor’ (read old coot who plays mostly bit parts), Stephen ‘Tobo’ Tobolowsky, has worked with just about everyone in Hollywood. In between staring in almost 240 movies (which sounds like a lot until you heart that Oliver Hardy made over 400), Tobo took to diarising his life. Mixed in with the show business anecdotes are the insights gleaned from the Torah, quantum physics, classical music and of course liiiiiiiiiiiife, that make Tobolowsky’s stories so unique. Listening to Stephen Tobolowsky is like falling asleep on a train and being woken up to the voice of the most interesting man in the world, then opening your eyes to find yourself alone, because it’s a podcast and he’s not your friend. He’s a famous.

It’s been one hell of a year for ‘Nicholas V.D. Kolk’. Since joining the Radiotopia stable, long running radio oddment Love & Radio [RSS] has quintupled its listenership. Each episode is unique, but tied together by a refusal to adopt the didactic ‘tell it – show it – explain it – learn from it’ formula tittied out by American public radio, and an unmatched ability to dig up weirdo stories from around the globe. Love & Radio remains both excitingly experimental and stunningly well produced. Seriously, the Joanna Newsom episode is some of the cleverest Jorge Luis Borges shit in podcasting.

Robert Ashley [RSS] is one of those perpetually stoned people who thanks to some freak mutation, don’t actually need drugs to stay in a groovy stupor. Having graduated from two of the greatest and much lamented videogame podcasts of all time [1][2], Ashley moved on to laconically spoon out a show ‘about videogames and the people who love them’. That no sells ‘A Life Well Wasted’s impeccable research, production values and above all music, like superman shower wrestling Andy Dufresne. Ashley creates a wholly original soundtrack for each episode – composed of dreamy acid folk blip pop, and coaxes interviews into meandering sound springs that drip feed a forest of… Fuck that sentence, right in the tutter.

If you’re not listening to 99% invisible [RSS] you’re wasting your ossicles. What started as dry shite show about design, quickly became one of the the most gloriously inventive explorations of history, science, art and culture online.

Epic Listens

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The Partially Examined Life is a dense, erudite, an often irredeemably smug discussion of some of the thorniest issues in philosophy. I don’t actually listen to it, but I wanted to look clever by including it on this list.

Hardcore History [iTunes] is the 800lb gorilla of history podcasts. Irregularly released and sardonically narrated by libertarian curmudgeon Dan Carlin, HH (wait whuuuuut) is a love it or hate it tautology in earworm form. For my money, podcasts don’t get much more entertaining than these multi-hour forays into World War 1, The Mongol Hordes, or quirky historic oddities like the Anabaptist rebellion.

The Secret History of Hollywood [iTunes] is my new jam, and boy is it sticky. The show’s so long it makes hardcore history look bite sized (one episodes clocks in at over seven hours). What makes TSHOH so unique is it’s thrilling storytelling. Whether he’s recounting the childhood horrors that made Alfred Hitchcock such a bewitching filmmaker and such a paradoxically wonderful and terrible person; or walking you though the clammy basement of Universal Studios’ genre defining early 20th Century Horrors, host Adam Roche brings unparalleled erudition and charm to his topic. The research, suspenseful storytelling and expert narration are unparallellogrammed. Listen to this, it’s brill.

Interview Shows

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Have you heard the one about the comedian who alienates everyone he’s ever known, blows through a couple of marriages, retreats to his garage and makes the worlds most popular podcast? WTF? [RSS] Yeah, OK, it’s over exposed (he just interviewed Obama AND Keith Richards), and the show lacks the teeth it once did, but Maron is still good for a well researched deep dive into the life and career of a ludicrously wide variety of entertainers.

Pete Holmes [RSS] [itunes] is smug, laughs at his own jokes and wishes he was Marc Maron, but his self effacing zen narcissist routine hits it out of the park when it comes to getting guests to open up. If you miss the kind of interviews Maron used to do – where unhealthy personal revelations from the host would prompt the same in his guests, look no further.

Sex man Dr. Christopher Ryan [RSS] isn’t a real doctor, or even a real academic (they don’t usually put PHD in their URLS). What he is is an outspoken freethinker with a young Dick Cavett like rolodex of writers, scientists and countercultural oddballs. If you wondered where all the champagne socialist American intellectuals who use Europe as an improper verb went, it was to this guys nekkid cocktail parties.

I was there too [RSS] has a simple premise: Bit part players spill the behind the scenes beans. The interviews tend toward the sycophantic, but there’s a fascinating voyeuristic aspect to the bitchy revelations.

Me too shows

It would be wildly modest and pathologically secure of me not to mention my own podcasts. There are over a dozen of them, all pictured on the right, overly varied and infrequently updated. But if I were to recommend just a couple, they’d be Reading Plays [RSS], a dense but irreverent book club for the theatre and The Gareth Stack Show Live, Featuring Gareth Stack [RSS], on which it’s been my infrequent pleasure to chat up the most infuriatingly creative and successful shits of my acquaintance. There’s nothing quite so painful after all, as the success of ones friends.

An History Of Things What Has (not) Happened

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This piece was published in the latest issue of ‘The Runt‘, a Dublin comic literary zine. The theme of the issues was ‘alternate history’.

There is many of the things in the past better than todays. Oh yes. Some are evil worse too (✈__✈ █ █ ▄ ). It is starting to look as this is the beginning of history. Imagine, far future there will still be moar to come. But some have not happened that could have happened, and it is those which i wrote. This is what we call alternut history. An imagination of the way things could have be if but for a few other differences in the past. For example Hitler was Julian Seasalt or imagine if the dinosaurs live at the same time as for example films are set.

Some things haven’t happened.

1 What if we make the moon? What then.

2 Imagine for a minute Ronald Regan, but he is Seth Rogan

3 Never Land

4 Characters come to live from books

Fife. Whether or not you believe it – a magic energy inside all people, and plants, the same. It’s name is Juice. Can’t in plate that four minutes.

There are stories men have write, and yes women! In these stories contain dreams, events, places, people, lives, incredible events, animals that never were as if they been. I explain some of these books in briefs.

The Man in the High Castle

The tail of a greatest king of Charlie Maine. Once a night, he ends up more than a man, but almost less than a dragon. In this version, he a taxi driver but still dreams of his past to come.

In the Presence of Mine Enemies

This book is my favourites. So many differents from today. One man has the phenomena agility to see invisible. When a clock commits a crime, she’s arrested in the nick of time. But in many case people seem to have less of time because they are so so busy. An ill wind blows no good to any when things become just all over the place in this post-apoplectic soz I ate e.

Fatherland

An offensive book about Men, sexist harassmen if I may take a quick joke. But serious in this book they have the hole country and it is not good let me tell you. They make a hams fist of the whole meal. Tell won woman makes them do things right, she is play by Helen Mirren. Thus is simpler to Ma Gorratwood.

Years of Salt and Rice

This wons not god.

So you’re welcome for that short strip in through long shelf that is alternatives to what weave gott. Some seam likely. Most can’t be unpicked. Knit not all! I dare say that we will surprise in future by coincidence when made up things happen. Marked by words, just sea.

Dear edit my smell cheque is a boken. Please move my mist rake, ( ͡° ͜ʖ ͡°)

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Radio Drama Revival Rebroadcast

Just a brief post to let you know that Radio Drama Revival, one of the longest running and most popular radio drama podcasts (also an on air radio show) have been kind enough to rebroadcast my radio sitcom ‘Choices‘. Although host Fred Greenhalgh disagrees with calling it a ‘radio sitcom’. Judge for yourself!

Listen here – Radio Drama Revival.

Here’s the plot synopsis…

Ainesh Sharma is an under confident, over intellectual Indian-Irish twenty something. Ainesh has always been a victim of circumstance; working jobs he didn’t enjoy and failing to live up to his potential. Now, sacked from his factory job and thrown out of home by his disappointed parents, Ainesh is forced to train as a psychotherapist. His course is in ‘Choosing Therapy’, the philosophy that we choose our own destiny, and that everything that happens is our fault. With nowhere to stay, Ainesh is forced to live with two of his bizarre classmates. We follow him as he learns whether there really is such a thing as choice, and if so, how he can make his own destiny.

Choices was funded by the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland, and originally produced for Dublin City FM. The show starred Katie McCann, Aishlinn O’Byrne, Kieran Roche and Dylan Jones, and was produced by Heather MacLeod.

Last year Radio Drama Revival also rebroadcast our ambitious 2012 on location production ‘Any Other Dublin‘. Both Dublin and Choices are available as podcasts on iTunes (and in the listings of pretty much every other podcatcher), if you’d prefer to check them out in episodic format!

American Gothic S01E02 – Acquired Taste – Episode 2

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What is it?

A new podcast, in the style of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 or RiffTrax. James Van De Waal and Gareth Stack sit down and riff (in the style of Mystery Science Theatre 3000 or RiffTrax) over sucky television.

How it works

Each episode we watch an episode of an old TV show, and insult it in real time. If you’d like to play along with this weeks show, google ‘American Gothic S01E02’, find a stream of the first episode of this lost ‘classic’, fire up the podcast and hit play when we tell you to. Be warned, this is outrageously NSFW.


Download:
Episode 2

The Cripple of Inishmaan – Episode 14 – Reading Plays

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Martin McDonagh’s 1996 play ‘The Cripple of Inishmaan’ is the first in a loosely defined and as yet unfinished Aran Island Trilogy. Set on the most banal of the islands, Inish Maan, in the early 1930s, the play is a violently farcical examination of family, social exclusion and the noble lie. Cripple of Inishmaan was recently revived on Broadway in a production starring Daniel Radcliff, and Pat Short, winning six Tonys. Another sterling success for a playwright who once said “Theatre isn’t something that’s connected to me, from a personal point of view, I can’t appreciate what I’m doing.”


Download: Episode 14 – The Cripple of Inishmaan

Reading Plays‘ is a discussion show, featuring Gareth Stack and James Van De Waal. Each week we do a close reading of a modern play, discussing it’s merits, themes, issues raised, and so on. You can play along by reading or watching a production of the play before you listen to the show.

Next weeks play:

Music – Amor & Psyche – by Bitwise Operator.

The Laugh laughing at the laugh – Tim & Eric – Culture File

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From the primitivist pederasty of Henry Darger’s ‘Realms of the Unreal‘, to Mark Hogancamp’s theraputic Marwencol dioramas, recent years have seen an ironic mainstreaming of ‘outsider art’. In a culture obsessed with commodifying novelty, a secretive graffiti tagger, self taught architect or precocious infant painter can be instantly thrown into the limelight. All that’s needed is novelty, and of course the imprimatur of cash.

Nowhere is this more evident than in comedy. Dedicated fans ensure the celebration of the most original and obtuse comedic nuggets. Over time a paradoxical popularity can grow – and the most underground comedic talents gain mainstream acclaim. British satirists have spent two decades remixing and restaging news footage and subverting advertising with wilfully crude CG. The Situationists called this detournement, turning the expressions of capitalist media culture against itself. Brits like Chris Morris, Adam Buxton & Joe Cornish, and of course the Pythons, laid the groundwork for this often bleak, but always surreal Frankenstein reconstruction of television.

In America, experimental comedy has always been less avowedly political, more nihilistic and well, silly. A generation of media production graduates have applied skills honed making adverts to the creation of nightmarish cartoons, youtube skits and ironically terrible television. The centre of the visual comedy renaissance is cable network called Adult Swim. In the tradition of all things American, the channel is ultimately owned by global media colossus Time Warner. That hasn’t stopped Adult Swim from broadcasting some of the most subversive programs of recent years, from the gratuitously grotesque Super Jail, to Dan Harmon’s critically acclaimed Rick and Morty.

Which brings us to the darlings of Adult Swim: Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim. The pair got their break a decade ago with animated sitcom Tom Goes To the Mayor, but it was their second show Tim & Eric: Totally Awesome Show Great Job, that saw the pair becoming, well if not household, then certainly dorm room names.

Tim & Eric’s world can seem initially impenetrable. Sketches fly by at a break neck pace, mixing absurdism and grotesquery in equal measure. Characters are often played by unconventionally attractive performers, seemingly recruited from some disused rolodex of fame thirsty freaks. It can feel exploitative, and it certainly isn’t always clear whether we’re laughing with or at these unselfconscious oddballs, numbly reciting the tag lines to faux late night infomercials. Watching Awesome Show is (quite intentionally) like stumbling across a medley of awful late night television, populated by preening madmen and unnecessary graphics. As though the VHS camcorder effects of the 1990’s had kept evolving, their capabilities becoming ever more garish, crude and hallucinogenic.

Awesome Show has drawn guest appearances from the illuminati of American comedy – everyone from Will Ferrell to Ben Stiller queuing up to gain kudos satirising exactly the kind of staid fodder that made them millionaires. Their work remains divisive. A 2012 movie version Awesome Show led to a mass walk out at Sundance – pleasing the two no end. The films dismal box office might have had a slightly less amusing irony. Despite this, the duos influence continues to grow. You may have simultaneously enjoyed or been horrified by the recent Tim & Eric influenced viral ‘Too Many Cooks‘, in which an endless sitcom opening sequence becomes a grizzly bloodbath.

Solo projects have been more successful. Heidecker’s dark film ‘‘The Comedy’ was perhaps the best of the recent spate of autobiographical pictures about wealthy, psychologically distressed, middle aged white men. The film serves as a critique both of the little princes of American hipsterdom, and ironic distance as a value. His comic songs have expertly skewered fringe presidential candidates: Culminating in 2011’s most niche record, the Herman Cain themed ‘Cainthology‘. Meanwhile Wareheim has directed visually inventive music videos for artists as diverse as MGMT, Major Laser and Depeche Mode. Notably the pair have shown little reluctance to lend their ironic hyperawareness to advertising campaigns for everything from video games to pizza rolls.

Their work is a product of the age of narrowcasting, beautifully intricate, wilfully awkward and designed to annoy anyone over thirty. By focusing on the techniques, rather than the content of bad commercials and TV, they can seem culpable and cruelly patronising, violating the golden comic rule – always aim up. Yet their fixation on weirdoes and tragic misfits speaks to an affection and camaraderie with outsiders, all too often missing from conventional comedy. Underlying their cruelty, condescension and cynicism may be a kind of disappointed love. A love for the noble ignominy of bad television, kitsch advertisements and above all failures. An acknowledgment of emptiness. The kind of laughter Beckett called ‘the laugh laughing at the laugh’. But it really doesn’t matter what you think. Smug cynics or wickedly original geniuses, Tim and Eric continue to redefine television comedy.

Download: Tim & Eric

Picasso at the Lapin Agile – Episode 11 – Reading Plays

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His autobiography boasts that Steve Martin began working at age ten in the newly opened Disneyland, graduating to study poetry and philosophy and spend 18 years performing as “America’s best loved stand up comedian”. Martin has in addition managed a career an accomplished banjo musician and movie star. He writes “I was not naturally talented… though working against that made me inventive”. The open question is whether inventiveness is enough to moderate a lack of dramaturgic ability.

Picasso at the Lapin Agile recounts an imagined meeting between Pablo Picasso and Albert Einstein, while both are in their early twenties, yet to make their mark on the century. The play is a sweetly antique ribald sex comedy set in a real Montmartre cabaret immortalised in Picasso’s painting ‘At the Lapin Agile’. It was first staged at the Steppenwolf Theatre in Chicago in 1993, and won the 1996 Outer Critics Circle Award for Best Off Broadway Play.

Download: Episode 11 – Picasso at the Lapin Agile

Reading Plays‘ is a discussion show, featuring Gareth Stack and James Van De Waal. Each week we do a close reading of a modern play, discussing it’s merits, themes, issues raised, and so on. You can play along by reading or watching a production of the play before you listen to the show.

Next weeks play: Some Girls by Neil LaBute.

Music – Amor & Psyche – by Bitwise Operator.

Dublin Characters – Episode 6 – The Gareth Stack Show

The Gareth Stack Show is back! Dublin’s most obscure chat show, featuring interviews with some of the dirty auld holes most fascinating characters, both pro patria and ex. Today’s episode comes complete with acoustamatic musing from Dublin low-fi warbler and nouveau booky wookie Bobert Ahern, monsternational filmist Donal Foreman, and Dublin scenestress Joanne Stack (yes relation).

14:00 – 32:00 – Donal Foreman, Director of ‘Out of Here

Donal, director of the award winning new Irish film ‘Out of Here’, talks about the movie, being a first time director, crowd funding, and creating a movie that integrates improvisation, non-professional actors and a real directorial point of view.

34:30 – 42:00 – Joanne Stack of ‘Secret City Dublin

My wee sister talks about her knew event listings project ‘Secret City Dublin’. Secret City is a new way to find out about what’s going on in the city. Particularly underground and arts based events that are free or cheap, and open to all.

42:00 – 80:00 Bobby Ahern, author of ‘D’You Remember Yer Man’.

Writer, punk rock chartreuse, leprechaun expert, Bobby Ahern does it all. We have this fresh faced Dublin impresario join us in studio to chat about his brand spanking new book ‘Do You Remember Y’er Man’, and play a whole bunch of acoustamatic songaroonies.

79:00 – 82:00 Andrew’s Teacher, Professor Dereck Polly

Featuring jingles by the one and only Roger Gregg. And hosting by Andrew Booth, with special guest Gareth Stack.

Download: Episode 6

Sounds under CC-BY-NC 3.0:
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The Bald Soprano – Episode 9 – Reading Plays

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Quantum Physics, synchronicity, English mustachios, it has to be Eugene Ionesco’s ‘The Bald Soprano’ (La Cantatrice Chauve). This is a play for which context is essential: Beckett’s growing reputation in France at the beginning of the 1950’s. The efforts of dramatists who became known as the ‘theatre of the absurd’ to acknowledge the horrors of fascism. The birth of post-modernism with it’s portrayal of the fragmentary nature of subjective reality. And Ionesco’s own inspiration – bizarrely banal English language learning tapes. In attempting to recreate the imaginative truth of these unheimlich lessons, Ionesco engaged with some of the most complex intellectual problems of his time.

The play begins as a parody of urbane English parlour comedies, spearing every convention from obtuse bon-mots to farcical misunderstandings, from trite social commentary to ironic contradictions. Out of this meta-humour, brilliantly trivialising the trivial, develops a slow horror, as identities dissolve, time disappears, life and death become confused and disorder reins.

The Bald Soprano was Ionesco’s first play, originally written in his native Romanian, before being rewritten in French. Since it’s first performance on May 11th 1950, the play has become one of the most performed works in France. We read the 1964 translation by Donal M. Allan.

Download: Episode 9 – The Bald Soprano

Reading Plays‘ is a discussion show, featuring Gareth Stack and James Van De Waal. Each week we do a close reading of a modern play, discussing it’s merits, themes, issues raised, and so on. You can play along by reading or watching a production of the play before you listen to the show.

Next weeks play: Disco Pigs by Enda Walsh.

Music – Amor & Psyche – by Bitwise Operator.

Am I Normal?

Clearly not. That aside, ‘Am I Normal’ was the title of the sex education film shown to my primary school class around 1991, in St Joesph’s Christian Brothers School, Drogheda. The ever excellent Dangerous Minds just uncovered this ‘hilariously dated sex education film’. For years I’ve told people about this cringeworthy 1979 classic. Many didn’t believe the hype. Look ye upon it, and quake from a safe distance with po-mo irony. Then remember this is probably better information than many kids are recieving in Ireland (and in the US) today, where sex ed is still not universal and often distorted by loopy approaches like ‘abstinence only education’, that research has proven not merely ineffective, but actively harmful.

Anyway, here’s the best bit. There’s a moment in the film (around 11 min 50 seconds in), when they explain that “Many people of all ages masturbate… other people may not enjoy it. It is normal if you do it, and also normal if you don’t.” In our (single sex) classroom this was the point when they paused the tape, so the local priest could come in and tell us that actually it wasn’t normal. It was sinful, unclean, morally wrong and would damage and distort our sexuality. Amen.