Judge John Hodgman makes a landmark ruling

Judge John Hodgman makes a landmark ruling

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

QUOTES OF THE WEEK

“People like what they like. They’re gonna do what they’re gonna do.” — John Hodgman, Judge John Hodgman

“Lou Reed is in heaven now, wearing leather trousers, smoking a cigarette, and wearing big dark shades, and singing off-key. Lou Reed might be the coolest rock star this country ever produced.” —Greg Proops, The Smartest Man In The World

“We don’t have a good online way of saying whether things are true or not.” —Steven Levitt, stating the obvious, Freakonomics

“I got to ride one on my honeymoon, and it was fucking glorious.” —Travis McElroy on horses, My Brother, My Brother And Me

“‘Do you love me enough to trade places?’ Now, I love Kathy more than anyone I’ve ever known apart from my little boys Oliver and Owen, and my wife Susan… on good days. So, I start crying as I look at Kathy thinking, ‘Are you nuts? Yeah, I’m your brother, but c’mon.’ But I’m ashamed to tell that to Kathy, so I say, ‘Well, would you want to be married to Susan?”  —James Broly, to his dying sister, The Moth

“I want to name my album that, are you kidding me? A Couple Queers In Kimonos.”
“I can think of a few reasons you shouldn’t.”
“Because you think it should just be called Queermono?” —Jimmy Pardo and Matt Belknap, Never Not Funny

“Do you want to know who my band in hell is? It’s all-star: It’s Keith Moon on drums, Jimi Hendrix on guitar, Ariel Castro on bass, and me on lead vocals.” —Michael Jackson (Mookie Blaiklock), Comedy Bang! Bang!

“Dr. Morch came up with this mixture of cocaine and dried rabbit’s blood that would rob the dogs of their ability to smell.” —Tracy V. Wilson on how dogs were kept from tracking escaping Jews during the Holocaust, Stuff You Missed In History Class

“Everyone is like ‘Oh, have kids.’ Don’t fucking have kids. Listen to my words. It’s not what it seems to be. It’s a lot of shit work, housework. It’s not that I think I’m better than that. But you know, I’m better than that.” —Susanna Brisk on parenting, The Mental Illness Happy Hour

“All of them received one stamp on their Alert Citizen Card. As always, five stamps means stop-sign immunity for a year!” —Cecil Baldwin, Welcome To Night Vale

OUTLIER 

Davey Mac Sports Program
Within the occasionally dry world of sports talk podcasts, there’s a glaring dearth of vulgar song parodies. That, however, is patently untrue of the Davey Mac Sports Program. Hosted by NYC radio personality Dave McDonald (also known as East Side Dave) and producer Chris “Pepper Hicks” Stanley (both formerly of the Ron And Fez Show), it’s a sports show for sports fans who appreciate shots at Eli Manning just as much as conversations about cunnilingus. All the shouting sounds a little like standard drive-time fare, but musician Roy “Shaffer” Harter lends a freeform feel with stream-of-consciousness organ stingers and impromptu accompaniment each time McDonald breaks into off-color and off-key song (which is often). While you won’t find much in the way of in-depth analysis or inside information, there’s just enough sports to balance out the absurdity, even for the most insular of fans. [TK]


THE BEST

The Bugle #251: Nailing The Truth To The Floor
Thanks to an iffy schedule, The Bugle has missed out on a litany of hot topics in the past few weeks. There have been no high-minded potshots flung in the direction of Rob Ford, the crack-smoking mayor of Toronto, though we do get a glimmer of hope for jokes to come by the end of this week’s charged episode. Faced with a more significant event than a buffoon mayor, John Oliver immediately brings up Typhoon Haiyan, which has been wreaking havoc on the Philippines, but sees nothing to send up, especially considering his wife is there volunteering and doing roadside triage. Instead, Buglers are treated to a top story so wonderfully different from a human tragedy—a Russian artist nailing his scrotum to a sidewalk in political protest—that it's possible to forget he horrors around the world for a moment. [MK]

Comedy Bang! Bang! #255: A Visit From Hee Hee-ll: Rob Delaney, Mookie Blaiklock
Comedy Bang! Bang! follows up last week’s Tim Heidecker/Jon Daly meta-fest with what will likely be another polarizing episode, thanks to Mookie Blaiklock’s undead-and-back-from-hell Michael Jackson. Guest Rob Delaney is funny and game for anything, but this is Michael Jackson’s episode, and the details of his life in hell consistently crack up Delaney and Scott Aukerman. Why will it be polarizing? Blaiklock doesn’t even bother trying to sound like Jackson, and instead affects a high-pitched, vaguely Southern tone that will certainly grate on people who don’t find it funny. Too bad for them, because Blaiklock is quite funny, and this is another strong episode from CBB. [KR]

Doug Loves Movies: Casey Wilson, Paul Scheer, Drew Droege and Clare Kramer
It’s nice to hear Drew Droege on a podcast again. It’s been a few years since he ended his fantastic Earwolf show Glitter In The Garbage, and no one has really filled the podcast’s whimsical niche. First time guest Casey Wilson is also a welcome addition to the well-balanced panel. The chat portion is dominated by enthusiastic and thoughtful discussion about movies, which seems like it should be a given, but longtime listeners know how often guests can derail that half of the show. Buffy The Vampire Slayer’s Clare Kramer also returns to the show in what feels like a Ken Jennings-style winning streak in The Leonard Maltin Game. [MS]

Freakonomics: Who Runs the Internet?
Freakonomics plows straight into sociological territory on this week’s episode, exploring the current (lack of) deportment on the Internet. 60 percent of adults worldwide are Internet users, but there’s no real normative control. There have been attempts (specific countries outlawing certain downloads, etc.), but with the global reach of the World Wide Web, they’re failed ones. Sites like Wikipedia have developed an ad-hoc bureaucracy to deal with the libertarian structure of the Internet, but it’s unclear how those specific examples could be expanded out (or if they should be). Because no one runs the Internet, everything is socially accepted—the benefits and costs of which are obvious on anyone’s Facebook or Twitter feed. [NC]

Hang Up And Listen: The Live With Bob Costas Edition
A Hang Up And Listen live show is the rare time when all three regular panelists are in the same room together, which makes this the exceptional studio show that can be better when performed live. For this edition, Josh Levin, Stefan Fatsis, and Mike Pesca discuss the terribly staged Richie Incognito interview with Fox Sports’ Jay Glazer, and have an extended discussion with Bob Costas. That final segment is the must-listen, a wide-ranging conversation that covers the Olympics, whether to allow children to play football, and Costas’ halftime editorials on gun control and the name of the Washington NFL team during Sunday Night Football. The highlight of a suitably epic Afterballs is a dramatic reading from Michael Salomon’s Shakespearean LeBron James play The Tragedy Of King James The First. [KM]

Harmontown #79: Dangle, Dipping, And Heel Popping
The triumphant return of Kumail Nanjiani a little over halfway through the episode is the highlight of a bumpy Harmontown. He’s been kept away from the show while shooting Mike Judge’s HBO pilot, but he’s back this week to catch up and play D&D while providing his usual handful of memorable quips. And as if Dan Harmon needed more lubrication, he reads an email from Ketel One inviting him into the Ketel One Alliance, a VIP program that gives him monthly shipments of vodka, a “dedicated concierge service,” among other vodka-related benefits. [KM]

Improv4Humans #107: Slime Boy: Tim Meadows, Betsy Sodaro, Charlie Sanders
After a few false starts for an introductory story, Charlie Sanders eventually relates his ability to nap anywhere, which leads into a hilariously high-concept scene—a man sleeping through a mass shooting, and beyond. Sanders, along with Tim Meadows, Betsy Sodaro, and host Matt Besser build on this mirthful energy for a strong series of scenes. Things start to slow down after the halfway mark, when the four stumble through a go-nowhere mayoral debate that has more wacky voices than jokes. Thankfully, the crew tears apart the video of a Boy Scout leader toppling an ancient boulder formation, which leads into a scene involving the Lincoln Memorial and some truly crummy graffiti. In all, it’s a solid episode and a great introduction if you’re not already a fan. [MK]

Judge John Hodgman:The Right To Remain Silent
This week’s episode will hit home no matter which side of the case you take—and it’s a safe bet that most readers will flock to one side or the other. Teenaged Sophie brings the case against her dad, a highly placed executive who wants her to project a more confident presence, speak louder, stop acting like a shy teenager, and be more of an extroverted go-getter when it’s time to meet complete strangers. Judge Hodgman doesn’t normally sit in juvenile court, but as he explains it, “Chris made such a case on behalf of helping his daughter to be less shy and using my podcast to humiliate her into doing it.” An upbeat Sophie laughs through the cast, speaks in complete sentences, and doesn’t seem crushed when she reveals her parents recently forgot her birthday. (Her father testifies he didn’t “exactly” forget it.) Struggling for objectivity, Hodgman finds precedent in radio-related law by citing Garrison Keillor’s landmark essay “Shy Rights.” And he solicits eyewitness testimony from comedian/voice actor Eugene Mirman (of Archer and Bob’s Burgers renown). It’s a shame Hodgman doesn’t have the power to send anybody to jail. Do they give Pulitzers for podcasts? [DXF]

The Mental Illness Happy Hour #141: Susanna Brisk
There may be better Mental Illness Happy Hour episodes than this conversation with Susanna Brisk, but it would be difficult to find a more ideal guest for a program that relies so heavily on honesty. The writer is brutally frank with Paul Gilmartin throughout this 90-minute conversation about her borderline personality disorder, separation from her husband, and misgivings about parenthood. Even after 140 installments of a show that requires absolute candor from its guests, Gilmartin sounds a bit stunned by Brisk at times. It’s a compelling listen that the host acknowledges will likely be polarizing for listeners who may put off by her directness about the terrors of being a mother. Whatever feelings Brisk stirs up in the show’s devotees, her intellect, quick wit, and complete openness are undeniable. Those three qualities make Brisk a perfect MIHH guest. [TC]

The Moth: Family Photos, Grandmothers, Legos & Revenge
If James Broly’s story about a grim family reunion in a hospice sounds especially hateful, the facts he offers about his family seem to suggest that it’s a hereditary trait. The usual glimmer of redemption or catharsis is noticeably absent in this week’s opening segment, but the lessons conveyed by his brutal honesty benefit from that lack of sugarcoating or false profundity. Things lighten up later in the hour with two excellent school stories, one about a kid seeking retribution from a racist bully, and another about the intramural economics of Legos. Both reaffirm why so many of The Moth’scontributors are teachers, and why classrooms are such easily quotable microcosms of life. [DJ] 

My Brother, My Brother And Me #175: Torsey
The brothers rebound from last week’s largely disappointing episode, throwing together a show that ranks among their best of the year. Maybe it’s the birthday energy (two-thirds of the group are celebrating this week), but the cohesion is a thing to behold when it results in this kind of tight, quirky riffing. Travis’ anarchic manifesto about the ease of shoplifting continues, and his point gains considerable momentum. But the title bit is definitely the pièce de résistance, as the brothers tackle the problem of horse aggression with a solution that’s both grotesquely hilarious and verbally vivid. [AB]

Nerdist #439: Jackie Kashian
Although they lose some nerd points (points!) for struggling to remember the Harry Potter titles in order, Jackie Kashian, Chris Hardwick, and Matt Mira deliver a charming episode. The interview gets off to a slow start, but it picks up once the conversation turns to addiction—both Hardwick and Kashian are former alcoholics who share their stories with equal parts comedy and honesty. From there, the conversation turns to sex and relationships, Kashian’s friendship with Maria Bamford, and her evangelist brother. It’s not a consistently successful episode, but Kashian’s nerdy comedy seems like an ideal fit for Nerdist, which is undoubtedly the best platform to make jokes about Myst and horcruxes. [CS]

Never Not Funny #1318: Al Jackson
Comedian Al Jackson and Jimmy Pardo didn’t know each other before a couple months ago, but their rapport is pretty much instant—it helps that Jackson is a fan of Never Not Funny. There’s a lot of funny in this week’s discussion, which gets disturbing when Jackson discusses working with the woman who can pop her eye out for his world-record show Officially Amazing on the BBC. (The story’s too gross to mention here, but it makes everyone gasp, and it understandably—and comically—ices the room.) The one bummer is Jackson legally can’t talk about whatever salacious info he has on the lady with the world’s longest fingernails, leaving listeners wondering what disgusting/disturbing information he knows. [KR]

Sklarbro Country Sklarbro County #77: Diablo Cody
Dan Van Kirk and the Sklar brothers get a surprising amount of mileage out of riffing on the Midwestern accent and attitude, a shared interest that is undoubtedly part of why this week’s guest, Midwesterner Diablo Cody, fits in so well. The chemistry among the four is only possible when sensibilities are this similar. It’s not wholesome so much as being open to benign amusement. Indeed, for all of the ridiculing, there’s rarely a sense of outright judgment on the show. Cody doesn’t miss a beat, particularly when the gang discusses a pair of guys who got a little too trigger-happy during a Sasquatch-hunting trip. She even takes up the cause as an advocate for a couple caught having sex in a Waffle House parking lot. [AB]

Sklarbro Country #173: Taking A Sitz Bath: Dom Irrera, Chris Cox 
Veteran comic Dom Irrera has a delivery so wry and offhand that it’s damn near impossible to tell whether some of his more outlandish anecdotes, including one about Paul Reiser’s debauched bachelor party and the proceeding wedding officiated by Little Richard, are intended to be jokes. Jason and Randy Sklar can’t seem to tell half the time either, but they’re thoroughly entertaining either way. The brothers aren’t shy about how strong of an influence Irrera was on their early material, particularly his improvised voice work on Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist, and they cover great ground ranging from Irrera’s on-set experience in The Big Lebowsi to his sports show, Offsides. Mutual nasty run-ins with Andrew Dice Clay give the otherwise affable Sklars a rare opportunity to kvetch about another comedian, and Irrera relates why he once threatened Dice with a broken bottle. Spoiler alert: He had it coming. [DJ]

The Smartest Man In The WorldSyrups
Greg Proops has been in something of a rut lately, staging essentially the same show but with different historical, political, and baseball references in approximately the same order. That’s fine if you’re paying to see it once, but it makes the podcast monotonous. While Norwegian crowds might not realize American Negro League players got a bad deal, it’s a safe bet his American crowds already realize the Reagan White House may have behaved in a shady manner from time to time. If you’re part of the oft-preached-to choir, Proops’ recent appearance on Jay Mohr’s Mohr Stories was a welcome change of pace, with some variety in its voice. This week, however, the Proopcast was recorded in the days following Lou Reed’s death. And Proops was born to compose this insightful eulogy for the gloomy godfather of glam, punk, and so much more. Recorded November 5, the episode also has preliminary funny, informative bits that cover Guy Fawkes and fast-food chain El Pollo Loco. [DXF]

Sound Opinions #415: Live With Parquet Courts
Brooklyn quartet Parquet Courts put out one of the best records of the year—if we’re splitting hairs, it came out in 2012 and was re-released on What’s Your Rupture? in January—the fiercely compact Light Up Gold. Taken from the same live show at Lincoln Hall when Sound Opinions recorded Savages over the summer, this is another episode featuring one of the hosts’ favorite new bands of the year. Greg Kot also gives a report from this year’s Future Of Music Summit, and the guys break down the mixed results of Arcade Fire’s latest release, the epic double album Reflektor. [KM]

Stuff You Missed In History Class: Improbably Effective Holocaust Rescuers
As hosts Tracy V. Wilson and Holly Frey note, there is very little information available for many of these incredible stories about non-Jewish people committing heroic acts to save people from the Holocaust. The acts themselves were secretive, and time has obscured them further, but they collected enough of them to create a highly compelling narrative. Charles Coward, for instance, was a British prisoner of war whose story has been dramatized and possibly exaggerated, but most accounts agree that he hoarded chocolates so he could use them as currency with a guard, who would then provide bodies that served as stand-ins for escaping Jews. There is also a surprising amount of levity in these stories, particularly the story of Dr. Ernst Morch, who tested some cocaine on his Cocker Spaniel to see if it would help him rob the Gestapo’s dogs of their ability to chase escapees. [DT]

Stuff You Should Know: How Werewolves Work
The big secret of werewolves is, of course, that they have no consistent logic to them whatsoever. But hosts Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant are perfectly equipped for such an ingrained aspect of ridiculous history. Werewolves in popular culture get plenty of focus, which is why film and TV can’t decide if it hurts to transform or whether it’s no big deal. Clark and Bryant enlisted their friends at Stuff You Missed In History Class for additional research to tap into ancient cultures and the oldest legends of men being transformed into wolves. If listeners thought the rules of being a lycanthrope were hard to pin down, they should be especially amused to learn that ancient werewolves also had a bizarre system for turning their clothes to stone so nobody would steal them.  [DT]

The Todd Glass Show #128: Whitmer Thomas
It’s not an episode of The Todd Glass Show if Todd Glass doesn’t get on a soapbox about an issue that should be a no-brainer. In this case, he hints at a future serious episode with frequent guest Daniel Kinno where he addresses the Washington NFL team. Fortunately, in this episode, Glass also added a great new guest to the rotation: Whitmer Thomas. The energetic Thomas is clearly cut out for the show’s unpredictable flow and navigates the pace well. In addition to his inspired contributions to the various bits, Thomas also makes an endearingly sincere call to his grandmother and relays a few great stories about interacting with Jim Carrey. [MS]

Welcome To Night Vale #35: Lazy Day
It’s a lazy day in Night Vale as all the citizens just relax and take it easy for once. Cecil offers an update on the Summer Reading Program, and relates to all denizens of the town the annual Thanksgiving ritual: bowing down to the Brown Stone Spire and paying homage, hoping that it accepts the offering. (“The Brown Stone Spire. Give thanks. Cry out thanks. Scream thanks.”) But Night Vale letting its collective guard down means the natural order of the world begins to deteriorate: Perhaps they need the stress of constant threats to maintain balance and keep from floating away into space. Whatever the reason, the highlight is the early segment on Alert Citizen Cards. [KM]

Who Charted? #154: Glory Hole Jack-O-Lantern
Emily Gordon does an excellent job filling in for the absent Kulap Vilaysack. She’s smart, insightful, and funny, so it’s refreshing to hear her tackle a more diverse array of topics than she usually does on her video-game-themed podcast The Indoor Kids. Every now and again, Gordon drops an anecdote from her days as a therapist working with kids and it sounds like that topic could be a podcast in and of itself. Ron Funches is technically the guest, but he keeps a fairly low profile, as Gordon essentially owns the episode. Even the usually dominant Howard Kremer takes a backseat to Gordon. [MS]

WTF #442: The Figgs
Stumping for a band that never made it big is never an easy task, but Marc Maron comes across as a devoted fan of the power-pop band The Figgs, a trio from Saratoga Springs, New York who formed in 1987 as teenagers and have barely hung on in the industry ever since. But the guys in The Figgs aren’t totally downtrodden, and Maron gets them to recount some great journeyman musician stories of what it was like to open for bands like The Cranberries, Graham Parker, and Tommy Stinson of The Replacements. The saddest bit is hearing about how the band missed a chance to play Conan’s Late Night due to management incompetence, and generally rode on the edge between soldiering on and giving up for decades. Maron’s essential music interviews are rare now, but this is one of them. [KM]

WTF #443: Barry Crimmins
Marc Maron’s time as a radio host on short-lived liberal talk-radio network Air America is one of times in his life that hasn’t been picked apart to death during the course of his show. But bringing on political satirist Barry Crimmins means digging into that period, but in service of Crimmins’ story. The episode takes a dark turn around the halfway point, as Crimmins recounts traumatic events in his childhood related to babysitters and church officials. He’s written about the events on his website before, but they’re still harrowing stories, and Maron appropriately treads softly as he navigates Crimmins through whatever he’s comfortable revealing. [KM]

You Made It Weird: Casey Wilson
The immediate parallel for this week’s interview with Casey Wilson is Pete Holmes’ recent talk with June Diane Raphael (Wilson and Raphael are both best friends and creative partners). While Raphael appeared self-serious in a way that made even a discussion of clowning kind of a drag, Wilson is endearingly self-effacing. Holmes’ guests can be generally divided between believers and skeptics (both of which can be stubborn and/or annoying in their own way), and while Wilson talks about the value of transcendental meditation and her struggle to find a method of spiritual connection that works for her, she acknowledges throughout how potentially ridiculous the pursuit may be. The central discussion about the death of her mother and her resulting relationship with her father is also admirably mature and multi-tonal, dipping into grief with the same alacrity with which it veers into the absurd. [AB]


THE REST

The Best Show On WFMU
A series of guests and dud calls disrupt the flow of this episode, which never seems to settle into any single moment before moving to the next. [TC]

The Fogelnest Files #63: Donate Your Car Today: Julie Klausner, Dave Hill, Katie Notopoulos, Kitty
This week’s live show essentially features one joke (making fun of the “Kars4Kids” campaign song), and while Dave Hill gets in some quality weirdness, the energy never feels right. [AB]

How Was Your Week #141: Emily Altman: “Congratulations”
Julie Klausner’s conversation with Emily Altman is perfectly pleasant though not particularly memorable. [DF]

Monday Morning Podcast
The story Bill Burr shares of meeting Bill Cosby is tremendous, but not quite enough to warrant listening to the other, only occasionally funny 85 minutes of the episode. [CG]

Nerdist #436: Aziz Ansari
Unfortunately, this is another interview where Chris Hardwick and one of his comedian cohorts have a conversation that is too inside to be much interest to people outside of comedy. [MS]

Nerdist #437: John DiMaggio Returns
Although John DiMaggio is an undeniably talented voice actor—he’s both Bender on Futurama and Jake The Dog on Adventure Time—his return to Nerdist devotes too much time to impressions and not enough time to discussing DiMaggio’s fascinating profession. [CS]

Nerdist #438: Gillian Jacobs
Gillian Jacobs shares some fun stories about odd Halloween costumes and her babysitting days, but her conversation with Chris Hardwick never moves from enjoyable to essential. [CS]

Professor Blastoff #130: Sex Work: Sascha Cohen
Frequent guest Sascha Cohen patiently leads a crash course on elementary-feminism in a leftover episode from the show’s recent live tour. [NJ]

Stuff You Missed In History Class: Emperor Rudolf II Of Austria
Though Rudolf II had an eccentric life, his interest in hiring occult alchemists and collecting oddities does not get into especially surprising territory. [DT]

Stuff You Should Know: Some Interesting Things You Didn’t Know About Stephen Hawking
Stephen Hawking has led a miraculous life filled with accomplishment and struggle, but focusing on the lesser-known details of his life makes for an uneven listening experience. [DT]

This American Life #511: The Seven Things You’re Not Supposed to Talk About
Sarah Koenig’s mother believes some subjects are too boring to be considered legitimate topics of conversation. This episode largely proves her right. [DF]

WTF #441: Illeana Douglas
When actress Illeana Douglas isn’t actively preventing Marc Maron from discussing aspects of her personal life, the two are discussing acting techniques at a level of depth that would interest few, making for an amusing, but almost entirely inconsequential episode. [CG]

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