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Nerdist has a banner week and Jonah Hill gets personal on WTF

To listen to these and other podcasts, visit Podmass Central, our podcast hub.

Podmass comments and suggestions for future coverage can be directed to podmass@avclub.com

Note: Certain podcasts released on Friday may be added on Monday morning.


“We’re finally at the Dead Can Dance concert. Every single person looked like a silver-haired, middle-aged guy who was a pervy art teacher.” — Greg Proops, The Smartest Man In The World

“I would use the friction to fuel the story, which is the grown-ups find themselves in a burning building.”
“And how many of them make it out?”
“Well, I don’t want to spoil anything, but none.”
“And how soon into the movie do they burn alive?”
“Not all of them burn alive.”
“So some of them commit suicide first?”
“Well, yes, but not all of them.” —Werner Herzog (Paul F. Tompkins) and Scott Aukerman discuss Herzog’s vision for Grown Ups 3, Comedy Bang! Bang!

“I like rules and orderly conduct.”
“Ugh, I can hear vaginas drying up. I’m here to keep it sloppy, baby.” —Samm Levine and Pete Holmes on their different approaches to Doug Loves Movies.

“You’re a hard guy to nail down, because sad to say, you’re in a sitcom that’s now short lived. I told you at the beginning the name’s too long. That’s the only problem with it... How To Live With Your Parents If There’s Too Many People In The House? What’s it called?”
How To Live With Your Parents For The Rest Of Your Life And Have Everybody Get Along By The End Of Every Episode, But Wait Because There’s Going To Be A Conflict Next Week When You Tune In, But Don’t Worry We’re Going To Work It Out By The End Of The Episode, But Guess What, Next Week Another Conflict Etc. is the official name of it.”—Matt Besser and Joe Wengert on How To Live With Your Parents (For The Rest Of Your Life), Improv4Humans

“What’s the worst that could happen?” – Janet Varney
“Well, you steal your own boyfriend.”– Jessica Makinson, on cloning The J.V. Club


The Todd Barry Podcast 
Wry comic Todd Barry embarked on a seven-city tour last January made up entirely of crowd work. He didn’t sell himself short in the tour’s tagline, but he didn’t make any promises, either: “Could be good!” Using GarageBand to record guests in his New York kitchen, Barry applies the same prudent outlook in his première episode when he confesses that he doesn’t know exactly what he is expecting from his new show’s premise—which is to say that he really doesn’t have one. Each week, Barry invites a friend, typically another comedian, to have a free range chat about life in the industry, food, and whatever is on their mind. In episode five, after a conversation about new media’s effect on the creative process in clubs, MSNBC’s Ari Melber draws a blatant parallel. “Are you trying to be the next Marc Maron?” 

After a beat, Barry responds, “Yeah. Why not? He’s doing well.” Podcast listeners may not have been clamoring for another one-on-one outlet for comedians to vent insider grievances, but if anything distinguishes Barry’s program from Maron’s more probing West Coast showcase or its doppelgängers, it’s the lax and guest-driven atmosphere that emulates Barry’s onstage dedication to letting bits develop at their own pace. At its most aimless, Barry and his guest launch into tangents about lightweight subjects like cell phone contacts, like he does with Dave Hill (Barry’s humility allows him to be one of the few celebrities who can play the “who is the most famous person you know?” game without sounding like a jag). At its most inspired, however, the 25-year veteran provides an engaging glimpse into topics like navigating overzealous fans one day, then being mistaken for a newbie paying his dues the next. Whether The Todd Barry Podcast will mature into something with a more pronounced signature, or if it even needs to, is unclear. As Barry himself might say with a shrug, “it could.” [DJ]


Gameroom Junkies
Arcades are practically a dinosaur in the entertainment industry, but Gameroom Junkies aims to preserve the popularity of both old and new coin-operated games. Hosts Preston and Patrick are well versed in their subjects since both have private game rooms stocked with classic coin-ops such as the original Tron arcade cabinet, complete with neon back-lighting and a mint-condition Williams’ The Getaway: High Speed II pinball machine. Most episodes feature interviews with public and private arcade-game collectors and recaps of their recent trips to one of the country’s few remaining arcades or arcade conventions like the Atlanta Pinswap. The duo also offers thorough reviews of new pinball and arcade additions, but the most interesting reviews are the “Breakdown” episodes that dedicate an entire show to dissecting a classic arcade staple such as Tempest, Berzerk, or Gorf, the mark they left in arcadegoers’ memories and the paths they created for the gaming world. Preston and Parker’s vast knowledge and genuine love for the arcade industry and classic gaming shines through, and makes every episode entertaining and enthralling with being too jokey about their subject material. They will make you wish there wasn’t just one pinball manufacturer still in operation. [DG]


The Best Show On WFMU
Pity the poor soul who incurs the wrath of Tom Scharpling. In this episode, the architect of the now-retired Hate Pit aims his well-honed ire at game-show-host-turned-catheter-pitchman Chuck Woolery and rapper-turned-cell-phone-pitchman Jay-Z. Scharpling entertainingly escalates the long-running Woolery feud and fleshes out a new beef with the increasingly out-of-touch Jay-Z, who the host predicts will soon boast about his condo on the rings of Saturn. It’s a reliably fruitful formula for Scharpling, who has cultivated largely one-sided feuds that have led to memorable on-air appearances by show nemeses Luther Campbell and Kevin Smith. The closest this solid installment gets to those showdowns is a continuation of the simmering hostility between Kurt Braunohler and Gary The Squirrel, which will have to do until Hova takes some time away from his space condo to appear on the program. [TC]

Comedy Bang! Bang! #229: Two Thumbs & Not Much Else: Ben Schwartz, Paul F. Tompkins
Aggressively dour, Paul F. Tompkins’ Werner Herzog shouldn’t be such a joy on Comedy Bang! Bang!, but he is in fine form this week opposite the always-welcome Ben Schwartz. All three of them (including Scott Aukerman) have perhaps never been better and more joyful in their tangent exploration, including a hilariously spur-of-the-moment a cappella rendition of “Skid Row” from Little Shop Of Horrors. The highlight may be when Herzog explains his awesomely bleak vision for a second Grown Ups sequel. The three of them can barely make it through Herzog’s description, and that’s just one of the many great moments “Two Thumbs & Not Much Else” offers. Required listening. [KR]

Doug Loves Movies: Pete Holmes, Paul Feig, Samm Levine, And James Ponsoldt
This episode offers what might be Samm “The Ma’am” Levine’s worst-case DLM scenario: a four-person panel that includes Pete Holmes. Fortunately, that scenario makes for a fun listen, at least for those who like the character Holmes plays on DLM, a movie illiterate who all but wrests the microphone from the hands of host Doug Benson and his fellow guests. (Or as Holmes puts it, “I’m not here to win the game, I’m here to win hearts.”) It’s a bit unfortunate, however, that Holmes’ very funny performance this week overshadows directors Paul Feig, who’d probably be a vocal presence on the panel under normal circumstances, and James Ponsoldt, who’s a fan of the show and knows how to play the game. (However, both of them seem keen to take Benson up on his invitation to return, which is comforting, and Ponsoldt still gets in some canny plays during the Leonard Maltin Game.) But while Holmes’ dogged attempts to ram the show off-course seem to never let up, he at least has the courtesy to try and draw the other panel members into his circle of raving lunacy—before inevitably barreling over them. Meanwhile, Levine spends most of the episode seething in the corner. [GK]

The Fogelnest Files #45: Comments Disabled: Scott Aukerman, Christian Finnegan, Emily Heller
As Fogelnest implies in his preemptive response to this week’s review, his live shows tend to be rougher and less structured than his one-on-ones in the studio—and his latest is no exception. There are few common themes featured in the video selection and not much of a throughline in the discussion topics, but a well-chosen trio of panelists ensures that the episode feels continuous despite not really being “about” anything. If there’s a standout among the three guests, it’s Christian Finnegan, but only by a nose. Whereas some previous lineups of live show guests have felt awkwardly mismatched for each others’ styles or tastes, Finnegan, Emily Heller, and Scott Aukerman get along like a house on fire. Everyone gets a shot, and while it feels like Aukerman hangs back more than the other two, his contributions are consistently hilarious. As an added bonus, Ice Cube celebrating the Eames is one of the strangest and most rewarding finds Fogelnest has offered up in quite a while. [AB]

Freakonomics: A Burger A Day
What if the most nutritious food available is actually the McDonald’s hamburger? After being sent this argument by a reader, Stephen Dubner aims to see if that’s really the case, pitting a food activist against a “scholarly farmer” in a debate on the merits of fast food. The activist notes that for a $2 burger to be available, you need to rely or a “vast army of working poor,” which underscores the seedier side of quarter-pounders. On the other hand, because of institutions like McDonalds, food is now bountiful in America, even for the working poor (though whether that food is the most nutritious is still up for debate). [NC]

Hang Up And Listen: The Virginal Vessels Of Virtue Edition
The panel on HUAL sometimes gets stale despite providing some high-quality sports analysis outside the major networks and publicity-driven story beats. Johnette Howard isn’t the first female guest panelist to join the guys, but she’s perfectly suited to discuss the forthcoming ESPN Nine For IX documentary, Let Them Wear Towels, about the struggle of female sportswriters to gain unfettered locker room access without being harassed. The best thing is that it’s not even Howard’s best contribution to the episode—that’s the in-depth discussion of the cultural significance of Andy Murray winning Wimbledon. HUAL take note: guest panelists (like Parks And Recreation’s Michael Schur last week) help keep the show fresh. [KM]

How Was Your Week #123: Freedy Johnston: "The Patient Zero of Food"
Julie Klausner begins her interview with singer-songwriter Freedy Johnston by mentioning that she’s been a fan of his music since she was in high school and that it’s surreal to have him in her kitchen. Taking Klausner’s requests, Johnston plays beautiful acoustic versions of songs from his entire catalog—including a captivating rendition of “Sparky The Heroic Dog,” the first song he ever wrote, and his biggest hit, “Bad Reputation.” Things really get going when Johnston punctuates his performance with animated stories from his career, finding the energy that was lacking during the more straightforward conversation in the first half. Klausner has teased Johnston’s appearance for a few weeks now, and by the time his delicate cover of “The Look Of Love” closes out the show, it’s easy to see why. [DF]

Improv4Humans #89: Authentic Redneck Dialect: Martin Starr, Joe Wengert, Mookie Blaiklock, Amanda Sitko
After a few weeks of treading through hilarious gross-out improv, “Authentic Redneck Dialect” returns Improv4Humans to the realm of the wonderfully silly and absurd. Amanda Sitko plays a huge part in this, taking the lion’s share of the female roles this week and always driving them forward in strange directions, especially in the closing scene as an alcoholic named Pathetic with a penchant for squeezing the butts out of rodents. The rest of Matt Besser’s stacked guest list this week is in rare form as well. The bits leading up to the triumphant butt-expelling finish are just as funny—especially an offbeat robbery by two dimwit brothers convinced they’re playing extremely intricate games of Pretend Samurai and Ninja while shooting gun runners and bank tellers to death. A hilarious and immensely enjoyable episode start to finish. [MK]

The J.V. Club #69: Jessica Makinson
Following an outstanding chat with Kristen Schaal (certified “Best” despite the Podmass break) and a week off for the 4th of July, Janet Varney returns with an insightful look into the adolescence of personal friend and actress Jessica Makinson. Both women were raised in Arizona with divorced parents and share a lot of common ground. Their discussion about how they individually dealt with their problems provides multiple solutions for issues plaguing young people today. There’s even a Junior Varsity advice segment where Makinson answers a question from a podcast listener, expanding the outreach element of this show while providing Makinson the opportunity to dive even further into her own experiences. The women delve into heady topics like gender equality, but they also find plenty of time to share a few laughs, whether they’re discussing the similarities between Mountain Dew and radioactive waste or questioning if The Last Mimzy is a horror movie. (Spoiler: It isn’t.) [OS]

Monday Morning Podcast
In the early going of this week’s episode, Bill Burr dishes out some harsh jokes about overweight people and Los Angeles sports fans, among other things, but, unusually, they seem to be fueled by a certain sort of verve as opposed to the typical anger. For that reason he’s often apologizing for the jokes he’s making before he can even spit out the entire punch line, which makes them a little easier to laugh at. As usual, his musings on comedy hackery (especially the ’80s standup and ventriloquist variety), technology (the cyber-hacking of cars), and his own profound ignorance on most every topic are a treat. It’s not the funniest episode of the Monday Morning Podcast—and probably not the funniest podcast released this week—but it’s 80 minutes of solid entertainment. [CG]


Nerdist #379: Charlie Hunnum
Chris Hardwick sits down with actor Charlie Hunnum without his two sidekicks for an interesting and revealing chat with the Pacific Rim and Sons of Anarchy star. The one-on-one format works well for this particular guest, since it’s easy to imagine the laid-back Hunnum getting drowned out by co-hosts Jonah Ray and Matt Mira attempting to one-up each other with jokes. Instead, Hardwick does a great job of directing the conversation, which involves Hunnum sharing his perspective on what it’s like to work with directors Guillermo Del Toro and Judd Apatow. Hunnum also reveals his passion for history when he talks about his dream project to write and star in a movie about Vlad The Impaler. [MS]

Nerdist #380: Charlie Day
If It’s Always Sunny In Philadelphia made Charlie Day recognizable in the comedy world, his roles in Horrible Bosses and Pacific Rim kept him from being typecast. On his Nerdist episode, he fits right in as he showcases his ability to riff with the show’s hosts with ease. The episode is a bit spotty—due in large part to its length—but, more often than not, it does a great job of balancing the informative sections with quick-hit laughs. Day propels the episode with his charismatic energy, and the show’s hosts are quick to match his excitement, making it an episode that rarely dips in quality and justifies its length. [DA]

Nerdist #381: Tig Notaro
Since the release of Tig Notaro’s game-changing set at Largo, Live, the trauma she faced in 2012 has been well-publicized. Notaro’s transparency concerning the situations she faced, and ultimately conquered, are increasingly striking as she gains distance, perspective, and a bit more levity each time she recounts the ordeals. This episode of Nerdist is no different as Notaro unflinchingly tells her story but injects a great deal of humor throughout as Chris Hardwick allows her to take the episode where she wants while occasionally dropping in statements both poignant and profound. The episode wraps up on an inspiring note where Notaro discusses how she’s found peace with the situation and is ready to continue living, no matter what challenges she may face. [DA]

Never Not Funny #1226: Singing Along With Scott Aukerman
Between the Little Shop Of Horrors sing-alongs on this week’s Comedy Bang! Bang! and the “Put Me In, Coach” and “Goodnight Sweetheart” renditions on Never Not Funny, Scott Aukerman is full-on revisiting his musical-theater roots this week. Never Not Funny closes out its 12th season, as is tradition, with Aukerman, who may the show’s most frequent guest. As expected, it’s a loose, funny two hours, with Aukerman hilariously pushing Jimmy Pardo’s scatological buttons. The crew’s season-long preoccupation with gambling even comes to a surprisingly thrilling (relatively speaking) conclusion. A solid episode to close out the season. [KR]

Radiolab Ally’s Choice
It’s not often that a Radiolab Shorts episode is partitioned into two parts, but in the case of “Ally’s Choice” the nominally related pairing makes perfect sense. The first part is a follow-up to “Adoptive Couple Vs. Baby Girl,” a heart-wrenching episode detailing the strange court case of an adopted baby taken from her new home by her absentee biological father under a form of Native American law. When the initial story ended, the Supreme Court was about to make its ruling, and this week brings in a special report on the order and its implications. The second part of the episode follows a family from a segregated area in Pike County, Ohio where people of mixed-race must choose to identify as one or the other. It tells the story of how a woman made a different choice than the rest of her family, a decision that culminated with her move to another (predominantly white) town and an invitation for her children to join the KKK. It’s a good one-two punch, with the first case revolving around the baby being just under two percent Native American, but still a member of the tribe. [MK/AB]

Sklarbro Country #155: Death By Nerf: Carlos Alazraqui, Chris Cox
Carlos Alazraqui has an incredibly diverse career—the voice of Rocko on Rocko’s Modern Life, Dep. Garcia on Reno 911! among many others—but what matters most on Sklarbro is his incredibly deep sports knowledge. As a Bay Area guy, the Sklars get his take on the Warriors and 49ers as well as his reaction to the two Giants World Series wins in the past three years. But Alazraqui also provides a little more information on the upcoming Disney film Planes and how he earned a role in that film. As a multifaceted voice actor, he can turn on a dime and keep up with the Sklars through all the quick hits and various stories, making for an episode that appeals to the ideal audience for the show: sports fans who want to laugh approximately once every minute. [KM]

Sklarbro Country #59: Andy Peters, Dan Van Kirk
Dan Van Kirk should start a podcast to pair with the Florida Man Twitter feed—that’s how many insanely funny stories he brings to Sklarbro each week from that bonkers state. This week, two stories dominate the episode. First, a woman in her 30s grapples with police when they bust up a party at her apartment—a party full of teenage boys—with her young son locked inside the bathroom. Then, a viciously drunk man at an Applebee’s punches out a manager after the guy cuts off his karaoke song. You can’t make this stuff up, and the disbelief in all the riffing only makes it better. This is the kind of episode the Sklars dream about when they envisioned these bonus midweek episodes. [KM]

Stuff You Missed In History Class: Particle Physics and Animals
Animals and science have a rocky history together, but hosts Tracy V. Wilson and Holly Frey have a much more fun story to tell than one involving cosmetic chemicals and electrodes. The story starts with Felicia the Ferret, a 1970s contributor to the Fermi National Accelerator Laboratory. With no easy way to clean the narrow pipes, Felicia kept the massive machine running in a way no human could. Small for her size and costing only $35, details of Felicia’s life add a charm that hard science often lacks. The lab went on to incorporate geese, swans, cattle, and coyotes and though their inclusion is less pivotal than Felicia’s, it remains entertaining. Wilson and Frey have done a great deal of scientific research for this breezy 21 minute episode, but the fact that this is a science story with animals without a depressing element makes it stand out as a highlight episode. [DT]

Stuff You Should Know: 10 Medieval Torture Devices
SYSK episodes broken into lists often suffer the fate of feeling scattered and unfocused, but the heavy subject matter helps hosts Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant rise to the occasion. Bryant establishes an amusing game of “is this or isn’t this torture device also a heavy-metal band” that puts even the darkest premises into a playful context. Some devices, like the rack or thumbscrews, need little introduction. Things do get quite dark, and by the time the hosts get to a device called “the breast ripper” it becomes clear the episode was not chosen as an exercise in sadism. Clark and Bryant end on a contemplative note, suggesting that the massive suffering wrought by the devices has a deeper message for the course of history. It’s never mentioned outright, but many listeners are likely to consider the cost of modern torture techniques. [DT]

Uhh Yeah Dude: #380
Uhh Yeah Dude wants it both ways: The end of, well, men in general, and the return of the “classic” dude who can build a fence, knows his scotch, and can diagnose dry rot. Or maybe Jonathan Larroquette and Seth Romatelli are just craving some quality time with their dads. For Larroquette, at least, “quality time” apparently includes playing dollar slots for days while doing his darnedest to ignore the jackpot dance the machine woos suckers with. It’s more touching than it sounds, and despite an episode full of bad news, including the rising cost of quality mouth guards and the revelation that we’ll all be dead in one billion years (give or take), top-form performances from both hosts ensure this is a speedy, spirited listen. [CW]

Walking The Room #158: Bully Dancing and Smeat Loaf
A forgotten power cord puts the hosts under the clock this week, and whether it’s the sense of urgency that charges the riffs or just the solid material, the two are in top form, even if the one through-line is just the two volleying “s’more” portmanteaus. First up is Dave Anthony’s tour with Drew Carey through flyover country, including a dinner-theater/comedy club in the boonies of northern Illinois populated with the sort of oddities and relics only Anthony seems to find. The two then touch on family reunions, racist reality shows, and former Nirvana guitarist turned Army Ranger Jason Everman, though the highlight is the backstory of Anthony’s fame-hungry great-grandfather. It’s a tight and balanced hour, and for all their protestations to the contrary, it makes for a solid entry point for new listeners. [SM]

Who Charted? #136: Grand Poo-Ba
The aggressively likable Earwolf favorite Andy Daly makes a return appearance to this edition of Who Charted? and proceeds to charm the hosts and listeners alike. He has a history of charming Howard Kremer when it is revealed that Daly inspired Kremer’s trademark  “Have a Summah” bit. Daly relays a relatable story about his aimless post-college stint as an employee at a corporate chain restaurant. Naturally, there’s also talk of Daly’s extensive character work, including the genesis of the delightfully lecherous Broadway director Don Dimelo. During the movie chart, Daly really shines when he rants about how emotionally scarring most Pixar movies—and children’s movies in general—are. [MS]

WTF #405: Jonah Hill
The one thing Jonah Hill impresses upon Marc Maron throughout their interview is how lucky he’s been—though as Maron points out, at a certain point luck can only take you so far, and Hill has certainly proven something more. Michael Cera and Seth Rogen both had enlightening and informative episodes on WTF, but Hill’s episode has something extra as they tumble through his upbringing in Los Angeles, tumultuous early education, and the first decade of his career. Maron senses that Hill is a kindred spirit, and from the way they laugh about basically the same things, he’s right. They get into a lengthy tangent about James Gandolfini and The Sopranos, Hill’s insecurity with film roles after Superbad, and later cover Hill’s transition into dramatic films. It’s a surprisingly standout episode that even covers Hill’s difficulty acknowledging he has enough to talk about on in-depth interview shows. [KM]


Comedy Bang! Bang! #230: Something For Everyone: Reggie Watts, Neil Campbell
Scott Aukerman is joined by fellow Comedy Bang! Bang! (the TV show) cohorts Reggie Watts and Neil Campbell for a slight bonus episode. Reggie freestyles and there’s a silly Would You Rather?, but not much notable happens. [MK]

Judge John Hodgman Episode 118: Taxi Evasion
Marcello wishes his girlfriend, Sam, would take a taxi when she heads home alone after a night on the town. She thinks it’s a waste of money and believes she can probably handle herself if mugged. This issue could be subject to a deconstruction of gender-based assumptions, but it’s such an open-and-shut case, the episode is padded with extraneous chit-chat. [DXF]

The Mental Illness Happy Hour #122: Valerie
Technical problems plague this Skype-recorded episode with a listener who gave up her son for adoption. The audio quality issues eventually subside, but the conversation is still too stilted to recommend. [TC]

The Moth Maurice Ashley: Slaying King George
Grandmaster Maurice Ashley gets about as much suspense and mileage out of the chess-as-life metaphor as is possible in this story about two conflicting approaches to the game. [DJ]

My Brother, My Brother And Me 159: Home Alone Castle Doctrine
Although the brothers squeeze more juice out of the Edward Snowden opening bit than expected, they struggle to turn this week’s questions into anything particularly original or memorable. [AB]

Professor Blastoff #112: Yoga (w/ Rocky Heron)
The hosts are off their game this week, and with a guest that’s not far from a Portlandia caricature, only David Huntsberger’s quest for carnal enlightenment leaves much of interest. [SM]

The Smartest Man in the World: Ziggurats
Live from Amsterdam, this week’s episode unfolds in front of a subdued Dutch audience who politely chuckle at Greg Proops’ American references and informed, global perspective. Following adventures at Rihanna and Dead Can Dance concerts, the set winds down with a thoughtful meditation on the American political process and the tradition of anti-intellectualism. [DXF]

Sound Opinions #397: Indians
Danish artist Søren Juul, who goes by the moniker Indians, is another talented musician who attended a conservatory only to drop out because he didn’t like being forced into a certain kind of music. His in-studio interview and performance is adequate but not special enough to make this a mandatory listen. [KM]

Stuff You Missed In History Class: George Aiston: Outback Entrepreneur
Though George Aiston was a fascinating eccentric, his passion for stocking a store in the middle of nowhere makes his story a bit slow-going. [DT]

Stuff You Should Know: How Hip-Hop Works
The episode feels one-note since the hosts never deviate from a broad, unbiased enthusiasm, and an awkwardly outdated reference to Lauryn Hill doesn’t help. [DT]

The Todd Glass Show #109: Tom Martin
This installment of The Todd Glass Show is a fun, but no-frills, stripped-down edition recorded outside of the usual space without the usual audio cues and jingles. [MS]

WTF #404: Douglas Rushkoff
Marc Maron’s discussion with media theorist Douglas Rushkoff finds Maron indulging in his longtime fantasy of being a pedantic, rambling-intellectual/college-professor type. The results are spirited but highly esoteric. [CG]

You Made It Weird: Johnny Pemberton
While Holmes and Pemberton demonstrate some impressive chemistry in the handful of improv scenes that spring up during the interview, their discussion about the guest’s life and beliefs feels unusually shallow compared to Holmes’ usual probing. [AB]