Serial, This American Life’s teen drama murder mystery for NPR people, ended its first season today. The podcast has been the Most Popular Thing Ever for the past thirteen weeks, and has gotten a population of Morning Edition fans who would never in their lives pick up an embossed cover true crime book deeply interested in the genre. It’s sparked speculation, criticism, and at least one pretty good Funny or Die sketch, and now it’s over, at least until season two, which will have a different topic.
My review of the Serial finale, and spoilers after the jump.
There's just no way the very long episode of This American Life is going to have a satisfying ending. Sure, it's fun listening to Sarah Koenig run around trying to understand why teenagers and police officers behave the way they do, but unless the show ends with a shocking confession, it's going to be a let down. The ending will be Adnan is still in jail and everybody thinks he's innocent except when they think he's guilty.
But put those feelings aside because HE OBVIOUSLY DID IT. He did it. He must have done it. It's just the only thing that makes sense. And don't give me any of the "Jay" bullshit. Sure, he's a liar and a weirdo, but that doesn't mean he's a murderer any more than Adnan's charm means he's not. He's just lying to cover up his much bigger role in the whole thing. I mean, he claims he brought the shovels, but then just watched Adnan dig. There's no way. Digging is hard. Nobody is going to dig a hole and just let you sit there watching. Especially a guy who just murdered somebody.
And the stuff he lied about was all trivial. Maybe it wasn't a Best Buy parking lot. Maybe it was a Barnes & Noble or a Toys 'R' Us. So what? The only people who actually care which parking lot it was are the executives at Best Buy who have been getting some of the worst product placement ever. "Is the Best Buy parking lot a good place to murder somebody or just to smoke pot and make out? Find out today!" "This strangulation is brought to you by Best Buy. We probably don't have pay phones!"
Everybody agrees that the prosecution's case was weak—but that also doesn't make Adnan innocent. The "false confession expert" thought the police actually did a good job on the investigation. And if you're worried that this could happen to you, you could be accused of a murder and couldn't prove your innocence, it's unlikely because government spying has come so far in the last 15 years. All that "pinged a cellphone tower" crap is long gone. If Adnan waited until now to murder his ex, we'd have known exactly where he was every step of the way and whether those steps added up to his daily fitness goal.
This slipped under my radar, so maybe it slipped under yours, too: This Friday, two excellent podcasts on the Maximum Fun network are recording live shows at the Mission: Jordan, Jesse, Go! and Stop Podcasting Yourself.
Jordan, Jesse, Go is the joint podcast of comedy writer Jordan Morris and podcast kingpin Jesse Thorn (of Bullseye, formerly The Sound of Young America). It's a chatty, casual interview show that snags interesting guests; try out a Marc Maron episode, or this recent episode with great LA comic Guy Branum. (WHY AREN'T YOU AT BRIDGETOWN THIS YEAR, LA COMIC GUY BRANUM?)
Stop Podcasting Yourself is a fantastic show out of Vancouver, BC, that pretty much boils down to "two funny guys talking to each other about stuff." Hosts Graham Clark and Dave Shumka are both super likable; you don't so much "listen" to them as you hang out with them while being in a different place, and also they can't hear you. (Put THAT on a poster.) I caught a live taping of the show with Paul F Tompkins a few months ago in Vancouver (brag) and it was super fun. If you've not heard it before, try this episode, with one of their best recurring guests, comic Alicia Tobin.
Again, that's Friday at the Mission. Tickets here!
I love podcasts, but I don’t think I’d pay for one.
Podcasting, though, is not a zero-cost endeavor. It takes time, of course, as well as equipment, talent, and web hosting. Get enough subscribers, and downloads can slow to a crawl without the support of costly bandwidth. Despite being distributed for free, podcasts, after a certain point, have to make money to stay operational. Most of the time they seem to do that with Audible ads. Dear god. So many Audible ads.
The way that Welcome to Night Vale has monetized its highly successful podcast is far more interesting and fun than constantly being bombarded with ads for Stamps.com or whatever. On top of soliciting donations and selling merchandise, the horror/comedy podcast has embarked on a series of live shows throughout the country. I caught one of their Portland performances this past Saturday night, and while I was expecting to be entertained, I was surprised at how good it was.
More after the jump.
This podcast fan car was seen outside the Mercury office today.
Yesterday I discovered the podcast 5 Useless Degrees and a Bottle of Scotch, on which two dudes with extensive theater backgrounds drink whisk(e)y and talk about Portland theater. As a Manhattan-partial theater critic, obviously I was thrilled; plus, their discussions of local shows are substantive, informed, and actually critical, all of which are in short supply in Portland theater coverage.
I've also been enjoying Welcome to That Whole Thing, the weekly co-production from Bobby Roberts and Cort Webbers that replaced their long-running show cortandfatboy.
Couple weeks ago I was a guest on Patioh, Patino, which is a mostly-comedy podcast whose four hosts talk dating and other funny junk on patios around town. I'm refusing to listen to my episode, but I helped the ladies with their online dating profiles, and probably said some incriminating shit that I would prefer my boyfriend not know about. (Hi honey!)
I'm also avoiding listening to my recent appearance on Happy Go Lucky, a pop-culture podcast co-hosted by Mercury contributor Ben Coleman. We talk about Enders Game and I strain to sound smart, which is much easier to do in writing, lemme tell you.
Oh yeah, and Mercury columnist Alex Falcone has a great show, did everybody know that? Read It and Weep? They talk about terrible movies and books in a hilarious way.
And finally, a few days ago Marjorie was a guest on Needmore Designs' design/music/business/culture podcast The Job, which I haven't listened to, but if they had Marjorie on, they must have good taste.
Anyone else got anything new/interesting/local on their radar?
As we told you (YOU'RE WELCOME), deposed Community creator Dan Harmon was in town last week to record an episode of his podcast, Harmontown. And as someone who was there, I will tell you this: It was one of the most beautiful nights of my life. Even though all I can really remember is (A) Harmon, topless, with a camera strapped to his head, roaring at the audience, (B) a lot of jokes about Sasquatch rape, and (C) raps! A ton of raps! There was also some Dungeons & Dragons. And vodka.
I have no idea how well this particular live show will translate into an audio-only podcast. (Some of the subtle nuances of Topless Harmon might be lost without the visual element, and then there are Harmon's raps—how will they fare without their concomitant dance component?) But fuck it, it's worth a shot! All of this is a roundabout way of saying: The Portland episode of Harmontown is up. Listen here.
Blaurgh. I have the SADs now. The last cortandfatboy podcast is on December 7. For almost 10 years, Cort Webber and Bobby "Fatboy" Roberts (conflict of interest alert: Fatboy is the Mercury's calendar editor) have put out extremely funny audio content, first on the old-timey radio and for years now on their five-times-a-week podcasts. With a curated selection of Portland's funniest people (god, I will miss Wednesdays with Live Wire!'s Courtenay Hameister and Fridays with the Oregonian's Mike Russell), the duo made me laugh more consistently than any other source in town, in Hollywood, or in the podcastverse. Not just a great one-stop shop for funny, their local news and sundry geekery from all points beyond was top-fucking-notch.
Here's what Fatboy has to say about pulling the plug:
It seemed like a good time to go. Not to say we're even remotely in the realm of these two shows, but if given the choice, we'd rather be Cheers than The Simpsons, you know? So to everyone who still actually cares about our show: Thanks. And sorry. But mostly thanks, for everything.
They're still doing the podcast as usual until December 7, so get the goodness while you can. cortandfatboy have long described their show as "mediocre," but this is the furthest thing from the truth on this sad day for Portland's earholes.
I wrote a big feature on Portland podcasting this week, and listened to lots and lots and lots of podcasts for it. But I definitely didn't listen to ALL of the podcasts produced in Portland—lots of shows slipped through the cracks, due to time constraints or because I just didn't know about 'em. So if you create or listen to a local show that's not mentioned in the piece, please drop it in the comments on the article! I hope the whole piece, comments 'n' all, will turn into a good master list of local shows.
The spot-on art for the article, BTW, was created by Thomas James, creator of locally based illustration podcast Escape from Illustration Island. SYNERGY!
Tonight at the Red and Black Cafe, a "bicoastal reading event" from half-local literary podcast Late Night Library. The show, created by Portlander Paul Martone and New Yorker Erin Hoover, offers a semi-regular discussion of debut fiction and poetry, plus a just-introduced "conversation" series featuring conversations with "with the people who are changing the way we think about books."
I've listened to the show a few times in the last few months, and my biggest critique of the episodes I've heard is that as a listener I often felt as though the discussion wasn't quite for my benefit. The hosts have a tendency to dive straight into the specifics of theme, structure, and word choice; if you're not familiar with the work in question, it can be quite opaque. The show needs more constraints, basically—a stronger moderational hand, a loose outline to structure the discussion. Sure, that might harsh the mell of the discussion a bit, but... literary types do tend to go on. (If it were my podcast, and it is not, I would organize the discussion into discrete chunks, each introduced by a reading from the text that illustrates the theme or style element to be discussed. Anybody want to make that podcast? That sounds fun.) That all being said, I think it's a worthwhile project that's improving as it goes along, and tonight's lineup is great: Representing Portland are poet Emily Kendal Frey and novelist Alexis M. Smith (Glaciers), while Farrah Field and Sarah Falkner are Skyping in from Brooklyn. They'll each read a bit then take questions from either city.
The reading's tonight at 7 pm at the Red and Black, and it's free. I'm curious as to how it'll shake out, particularly the bicoastal/Skyped-in angle—if I wasn't producing an event of my own tonight, I'd be there.
I'm a little bit obsessed with the Slate podcast family, and I've been enjoying their newest, Lexicon Valley, a "show about the mysteries of English," hosted by former On the Media producer Mike Vuolo.
Today's episode—the show's second—is about the etymology of the world "faggot" and how and when it should be used. Vuolo is joined by Bob Garfield, with one host staunchly defending his right to use it as a hyperbolic insult, and the other maintaining that it's not really a word straight men get to say. (It reminded me of this BINGO card of justifications people use for saying cunt that I ran across yesterday.) Most interestingly, the show examines the word's historical roots—concluding that the word was originally a pejorative directed at women (and not, as people love to repeat in tones of utmost concern, because "faggot" originally referred to the bundles of sticks used to burn gay people at the stake).
"Isn't calling yourself a geek sort of the male cultural equivalent of dressing up as a sexy witch for Halloween?"
Jonathan Coulton was on Jesse Thorne's The Sound of Young America yesterday talking about his new album Artificial Heart, along with They Might Be Giants' John Flansburgh, who produced the album. While I'm not really in Camp Coulton—I saw him once and it was fun, but as a rule I don't like it when people with guitars try to be funny—the show has some worthwhile tangents about geek culture and the current state of the music industry.
And! Here's a single from the new album, featuring the Long Winters' John Roderick:
Jonathan Coulton - "Nemesis"
Unbelievable. And what Joe said:
The Californian decided that Ashburn's sexuality wasn't "relevant." The unnamed Sacramento paper apparently did too and never published. To recap: It's not relevant that a state politician with a 100% rating from an anti-gay group is gay himself. Can you fucking BELIEVE that? And it turns out that the openly gay mayor of West Sacramento has known about Ashburn for a long time.... At this moment, I'm not so interested in the detestable Roy Ashburn and his pathetic defense of "I was voting the way my constituents wanted." Because to my mind, the biggest story here isn't Ashburn's closeted homosexuality and anti-gay voting record. As we all know, that is a story we have seen a hundred times. And will see a hundred times more. The REAL story here is the media's collusion and the conspiracy of silence on the part of our own people. Folks, when you know somebody is actively working day and night to thwart the rights of your FAMILY, of your PEOPLE, you fucking say something.
Whenever someone speaks out against gays, the first question they should be asked is, "Are you gay?"
While I haven't followed the recall effort too closely up to now, I was surprised at how reasonable its spokesman sounded on the radio this morning. At least until he started repeating, "a new leader will emerge." That bit was a little creepy.
Jasun Wurster, head of the Recall Sam Adams movement, stated his case during an interview on a PDXSucks podcast this morning. Their all-volunteer recall group has made a strong effort to stay away from negative campaigning: Wurster proclaimed, “That’s not my Portland. My Portland is having the citizens become engaged, care about their city, and make a difference.”
Which is why he jumped into the recall game right away, he said. By being the first to organize a recall campaign, “I was able to create this ethical construct that focuses strictly on Sam Adams’ civic transgressions against us with his lies, and cover ups, and abuse of power.”
A successful politician needs the public’s trust and political capital, according to Wurster, who majored in Political Science at PSU. Sam Adams has neither, since he lied to the public, Wurster says. Taking his first, and pretty much only, stab of the interview, Wurster announced, “What Sam Adams is relying on to stay in office is political apathy and fear. Those are the only things going for him.”
And to prove he’s not homophobic, Wurster offered to make out with radio show host Robert Wagner. To prove he’s not a totally nice guy, Wagner tried to get him to swear on the radio: “Could you say one expletive? Any one. It doesn’t matter which one.”
“Oh boy. Oh shit, man. I don’t fucking know,” Wurster responded.
Listen to it here.
Schools close, grown men weep, Alanis Morissette washes her hair!! The world is turned upside down as Matt and Magsy record their FINAL EPISODE. Music by pretty much everyone you would imagine they would play in their FINAL EPISODE! Did we mention it's their FINAL EPISODE?! Welcome to episode 95 (The FINAL EPISODE!) of Pure Pod For Now People.
After weeks of contract negotiations, Matt and Mags shockingly announce that this will be their SECOND to last show ever. Music by the Pixies, Thin Lizzy, Love, and more! Welcome to episode 94 (THE SECOND TO LAST EPISODE EVER!) of Pure Pod for Now People.
It's time to kick up your heels with a new episode of Your Radio Sucks! Or, if you don't have heels, a comfy pair of cross trainers will do... Sandals? Okay, if you must. Listen to music from Parts & Labor, Church, the Sea and Cake, Dragonette (pictured), El Guincho, Tobacco, Times New Viking, Soft Tags, the Felice Brothers, and Menahan Street Band. It's like a foot massage for your ears!
This week on Pure Pod for Now People, Matt and Magsy honor two recently deceased musicians, make their football picks, and make future hipster wedding fashion tips. Music by Sean Croghan, Teenage Head, Against Me, Aerosmith and more. Welcome to episode 93 of Pure Pod for Now People.
The new episode of Your Radio Sucks is like a gust of fresh wind in your face. Okay, there's a little moisture, and oooch, watch out for cinders flying in your eye. Still, you can take it. There's music from Hot Lava (pictured), Women, Pretty and Nice, Eulogies, Ezra Furman & the Harpoons, Department of Eagles, Slaraffenland, These Are Powers, Gregory & the Hawk, Land of Talk, and Chairlift. Oh, what the... Did something just fly into your mouth? Gross!
This week on Pure Pod for Now People, Matt & Magsy bring half-suit Wm. Steven Humphrey on the show to try to get insider information about how show negotiations are going, and to talk about Pizzazz. Hilarity ensues. Welcome to episode 92 of Pure Pod for Now People.
The new episode of Your Radio Sucks will play with your heart, toying with your emotions like a cat swatting a ball of yarn. It'll love you, then mistreat you, then beg you for forgiveness. Take a ride on the emotional roller coaster with new music by Koufax (pictured), Frightened Rabbit, the Streets, Fucked Up, Jolie Holland, the Rosebuds, Grails, Castanets, Vivian Girls, and Daniel Martin Moore. There will be ups and downs, for sure, but you wouldn't have it any other way.
Forced to record the podcast on Monday, will Matt and Mags be able to put together a cohesive show? Or will they give the suits more fodder in the negotiations? Maybe they will become custom framers! Music by TV on the radio, Teenage Fanclub, Elvis Costello, and more. Welcome to episode 91 of Pure Pod for Now People!
We know. Times are tight, what with the collapse of the dollar and the country's financial market in ruins. Chin up! Your Radio Sucks offers plenty of pleasant diversion for you, and it doesn't cost one thin dime! Listen to music from Noah and the Whale (pictured), Santogold, Born Ruffians, Narwhal vs. Narwhal, Peter Broderick, Dungen, Reporter, Brightblack Morning Light, and Ponytail. Now, if you need us, we'll be stuffing what's left of worldly possessions under the mattress.
As the duo celebrates their 90th episode, Matt sounds as cranky as a 90-year-old, with a multitude of issues to get off his chest. Music by Okkerville River, the Bangles, Big Star, the Lieutenants, Ben Folds Five, and more. Welcome to episode 90 of Pure Pod for Now People.
It's a whodunit this week on Your Radio Sucks! Was it the creepy butler, or the saucy chambermaid? Perhaps it was the scorned heiress, or the opium-smoking litigator, or even your gibberish-talking host Ned Lannamann. Listen to the testimony of suspects like TV on the Radio, the Week That Was (pictured), Friendly Fires, Blitzen Trapper, Astronautalis, All Girl Summer Fun Band, Holy Sons, the Standard, and High Places. Now put on that detective hat and get sleuthing!
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