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Week of Oct. 13-Oct. 19 


“How come we can’t see Thomas Jane’s Jane Thomas?” —Julie Klausner on Hung, How Was Your Week?

“I think you can turn anything into a sexual double entendre.”
“It’s a gift... I got from Santa.” —Scott Aukerman and Nick Swardson, Comedy Bang Bang

“I think there’s a future in... spending money to do something.” —Paul Gilmartin on his career prospects, on Walking The Room

“I’m not an African-American. I am a proud octoroon.” —Michael Ian Black on Mike And Tom Eat Snacks

“We’re really tight. We’re practically married. We are married.” —Del the pizza guy from Best Show Gems, clarifying his relationship to a supermodel

“My notion of someone dressing up and speaking like a freak is Larry Kudlow on CNBC. So all these people saying [Occupy Wall Street] can be discredited because there’s a kid in dreads and a funny jacket, they can go fuck themselves.” —Stephen Metcalf, Culture Gabfest

John Hodgman had a meeting with his manager, a big, famous, cigar-chomping Hollywood type. He sits him down, and he goes, ‘Johnny, I got some bad news. The president of show business called, and he said you gotta dumb it down.’ What a magical moment in someone’s life!” —Jesse Thorn, Never Not Funny


Let’s Be Self Sufficient 
Host Erin Gleeson is on a journey to become more self-sufficient by finding other people who already are and learning from their experiences. The show would fit in easily with This American Life, with its acoustic background music and narration from the interviewer instead of back-and-forth conversation. The stories themselves also feature tragic moments that ultimately lead to life-changing decisions, much like TAL. Self-sufficiency does not have a clear definition in this show, but it seems to range anywhere from raising your own food to pulling off a six-month-long prank without spending a lot of money. The quality of the show is good, and the stories themselves are quite interesting, though the lessons learned are often either too obvious or completely inexplicable. It’s a great podcast for anyone looking to strike out on his or her own, from those who hope to go off grid to those who just want to be able to balance their checkbooks every month. 

Episode 6: That Guy At The Bus Station tells the story of independent musician Dan Deacon and how his first nationwide tour went horribly wrong, forcing him to finish it on a Greyhound bus. Deacon is a personable character and Gleeson gets him to open up quite easily about the heartbreak and the triumph of that tour. Episode3: And That’s How The Band Broke Up is one of the most horrifying stories the show has featured, despite its relatively happy ending: The subject, Bob O’Brien, crashed two cars, broke his teeth, and had his eye shot out by a bottle rocket before he decided to quit life and sail around the world. 


Sci-Fi Christian 
Is time-travel allowed in the Bible? Are young-adult fiction books too graphic for young-adult Christians? Hosts Matt Anderson and Ben De Bono answer these questions and more as they seek deeper spiritual meaning from their favorite science-fiction stories. Episodes are usually split in half, with the first part being a generic rundown of science-fiction news and the second half focusing on some theological issue in science fiction. The first part isn’t worth anyone’s time; the second part, however, is where things get good. Episode 33: The Divine Time Machine not only decides if time-travel is possible by Biblical standards, but goes on to question whether or not God gives everyone a second shot at life and if God is powerful enough to oversee a multiverse. Regardless of religious beliefs, this show takes an interesting approach to an otherwise common topic. 


Best Show Gems: A Visit From Del The Pizza Guy
In-studio appearances by Wurster usually signal that a bit’s going to go big, and Del The Pizza Guy lives up to precedent with a triple straight-man attack of Aimee Mann, Patton Oswalt, and Tom Scharpling. There’s also a musical number that cribs liberally from Mann’s catalog, a Flock Of Seagulls name-off, and one mesmerizing mustache. Scharpling & Wurster bits make few concessions to “flow,” so the bit lurches agreeably from setup to setup. What’s important, though, is that the guests are game and the quotable lines are thick on the ground. And even if they weren’t, this would still be a solid clip thanks to the good vibes Jon and Tom put out when they get to hang together. It’s obvious that Tom takes special pleasure in impression work (he does a pretty convincing Sean Connery here), and when he and Jon go head-to-head to see who can name the most members of Flock Of Seagulls, they revert into a dueling geek-speak that they rarely reveal on-air.

The Bugle #168: Streets of Rage
To quote John Oliver, get ready for a “full downpour of bullshit”: This episode marks the fourth anniversary of The Bugle, and it hits all the familiar notes that fans have come to know and love in that time. There’s an epic depiction of the two hosts managing to score goals in intramural games of soccer, Oliver singing horribly out of tune, and Andy Zaltzman calling golden retrievers “Hitler’s super-dog.” This episode also manages to tackle the Occupy Wall Street movement with an unprecedented level of sarcasm. Surprisingly, the show does cover news stories that aren’t being talked about everywhere else, such as corruption in Britain’s Ministry of Defense and a failed Iranian bomb plot. For people who love to make fun of the news, The Bugle has returned and you can now stop flipping them the bird. 

Comedy Bang Bang #127: National Pleasure: Brody Stevens, Nick Swardson, Paul Scheer
Post-Bucky Larson, it’s probably safe to say that Nick Swardson is at his funniest when he’s a supporting player. On Comedy Bang Bang and Doug Loves Movies, Swardson steals some of the funniest moments with his (frequently filthy) interjections. He makes some good quips in episode #127 opposite CBB virgin Brody Stevens (who could be mistaken for Jimmy Pardo) and Paul Scheer as Nicolas Cage’s skeevier brother, Bob Cage. Swardson guides Scheer, praising his one-man show Cage Against The Machine and creating a whole theme when he mentions Bob’s companion movie to National Treasure, National Pleasure. From there, the group explores a bunch of Bob’s pornographic sibling films to Nic’s movies, with some funny results. Scott Aukerman debuts a new game about misheard lyrics and has the most (seemingly) straightforward “Would You Rather?” ever. It’s a solid episode, though Stevens tends to be overpowered by Swardson and Scheer’s antics. 

Culture Gabfest: Beyoncé’s Cafeteria Edition
Over the weekend, Gabfesters Stephen Metcalf and Dana Stevens moseyed over to Zuccotti Park to get a sense—and perhaps a whiff—of the Occupy Wall Street movement and the activists at its core. They come away more or less heartened by this populist answer to the Tea Party and are not concerned that its amorphous rage against the system has not yet coalesced into specific policy goals. Metcalf’s monologue against “real freaks” like CNBC’s Larry Kudlow carries over into a feisty second segment on Beyoncé’s habit of cribbing dance moves from lesser-known sources, if such “plagiarism” is even possible. The hosts are all Beyoncé admirers, but they mostly disdain the way she and her handlers uses her stature to treat original work by choreographers like Anne Teresa De Keersmaeker like items in her personal “cafeteria.” The final segment brings on June Thomas to discuss her “Completist” series on the films of Pedro Almodóvar and his most recent film, The Skin I Live In, which she and Stevens put at the middle of a very good pack.

Doug Loves Movies: Sarah Silverman, Nick Kroll and Kumail Nanjiani guest
After last week’s disappointing “how high is too high” episode—which Doug Benson apologizes for and mulls taking down at the beginning of this week’s show—Doug Loves Movies rebounds strong with an excellent guest roster and a genuinely exciting edition of The Leonard Maltin Game. Guests Sarah Silverman, Nick Kroll, and first-timer Kumail Nanjiani play well with each other: Their distinct styles of humor—and easy-to-distinguish voices—bounce amiably back and forth, with no one person hogging the spotlight and all three landing solid zingers throughout. The game goes about as smoothly as it can with guests who aren’t named Edgar Wright, Paul F. Tompkins, or Patton Oswalt; but despite the players’ not-exactly-encyclopedic film knowledge (“Is it Christine The Horror Car?”), the game concludes with a masterful last-second guess that sends the episode out on a high note.

Hang Up And Listen: The Back In All Black Edition
With the St. Louis Cardinals and the Texas Rangers heading to the World Series—a matchup seemingly no one beyond their respective metropolitan areas wanted—the HUAL crew heroically stifle their yawns and examine the tendencies of both managers not to keep their starting pitchers in for long. They also look at the week’s big story, the death of IndyCar driver Dan Wheldon at the Las Vegas Speedway, and thoughtfully lay out the circumstances that led to it, including a track not intended for IndyCars and the high speeds and high number of entrants—both of which speak to the sport’s dangerous initiative to attract fans. And as part of their commitment cover sports off the ESPN radar, they bring on Rugby Magazine editor-in-chief Alex Goff to talk about the Rugby World Cup. The “Afterball” segments are all terrific, particularly Mike Pesca’s rundown of “the greatest punt return that never was.”

How Was Your Week #32: Tiny Faces
Sometimes Julie Klausner moves very quickly through conversations with her more famous guests (perhaps due to time constraints), but she and Amy Poehler have a nice, relaxed rapport during their discussion on this week’s HWYW. The conversation takes place on-set at Parks And Recreation, where the two discuss their favorite classic sitcoms and Poehler offers some big-sisterly input on what’s cool about getting older. This week’s installment also features a chat with Mighty Boosh star Rich Fulcher about his sketch comedy show Snuff Box as well as his experiences as a stand-in in Wayne’s World 2. Klausner tops it all off with strong opinions on Rosie O’Donnell and Anderson Cooper’s new daytime talk shows, as well as intriguing casting suggestions for the upcoming black version of Steel Magnolias.

Judge John Hodgman: #37 Panta-Lunacy
After missing a few episodes while on paternity leave, Jesse Thorn returns as bailiff and Judge John Hodgman returns to form, turning a peculiar dispute over a pair of abandoned pants into an elaborately orchestrated case of class warfare. The pants in question belong to Stephen, who was performing in the Broadway play War Horse with his longtime friend Seth. Seth discovered the pants lying around, unclaimed, in the rehearsal space at Lincoln Center, and finally claimed them for himself after they sat around in the lost-and-found box for a few months. When he strode into a room with his cool new pants, Stephen recognized that they were his pants, and he pleas to Judge Hodgman to have them returned to their rightful owner. Just the notion of someone abandoning their pants gives Hodgman plenty of comic mileage, but he also invents a slobs-versus-snobs conflict between the Juilliard-educated Seth and the comparatively blue-collar Stephen, who had to settle for an education at an Animal House college.

The Mental Illness Happy Hour #30: Kulap Vilaysack
Listeners who know Kulap Vilaysack as the eternally upbeat, relentlessly peppy co-host and chart-keeper on Earwolf’s Who Charted? might be surprised to find her appearing on a podcast called The Mental Illness Happy Hour. Vilaysack might seem too incorrigibly happy and upbeat to have wrestled with mental illness, but Paul Gilmartin’s podcast has illustrated that mental illness affects damn near everyone, directly and indirectly. In a stellar installment of The Mental Illness Happy Hour, Vilaysack talks openly about being a Laotian immigrant and discovering at 14 that her dad was not her biological father, which wreaked havoc on her already shaky sense of self. She goes on to discuss an eccentric therapeutic practice known as “The Grinberg Method,” but Vilaysack’s most compelling when discussing her complicated relationship with her parents and the way formative traumas affect her to this day. 

Mike And Tom Eat Snacks #38: Guacamole
Michael Ian Black and Tom Cavanagh welcome their first guest chef, so to speak, after a listener writes them a semi-insulting letter but offers to make them fresh guacamole in person. As their new friend Juan tries to make up for calling them “pendejos” by crushing limes and mashing up avocados, Black and Cavanagh try to work him into their banter. While Juan actually being there doesn’t necessarily make the episode funnier, it helps to break up MATES’ closed circuit of riffing. They don’t really need to run on for 20 minutes after the guacamole is served, but the episode delivers on the usual assortment of strange laughs while successfully introducing a new twist.

The Moth: David Chang: Star Custodian
David Chang is that rare celebrity chef who comes off as measured and self-aware. That holds true even as he fusses over the nervous burden of carrying Michelin stars on The Moth. “I’m really content with two stars,” he says, yet he still feels terrified when the director of the Michelin Guide visits one of his New York City restaurants, Momofuku Ko. As he’s telling the story, he’s actually not sure how many stars Momofuku Ko will have next time the guide comes out. (It ended up with two.) It’s refreshing to see someone of Chang’s notoriety admit to his insecurities and wretched vanity, but more importantly, Chang knows how to make those qualities seem like forgivable, comic flaws.

Never Not Funny #920: Jesse Thorn
When Jimmy Pardo begins a show by warning that his pain medication has made him loopy, listeners know they’re in for a sillier episode than usual. Having on a guest sharp enough play straight man to Pardo—and willing to temper his own personality for the sake of it—suggests a season best. Indicative of his already great rapport with the NNF crew, Jesse Thorn (host of The Sound Of Young America, among numerous other podcasts) is welcomed to speak in record time, and he wastes no time getting to the funny, providing callbacks and punchlines to Pardo and Matt Belknap’s opening minutes. Per usual, the first half bounces around pop-culture topics, personal anecdotes, and tangential wordplay. The conversation eventually settles, finding a steady balance of risqué and clever anecdotes (the evolution of Playboy, tales from the road) and probing, observational humor (bat-shit crazy athletes, the confounding success of post-Spinal Tap Harry Shearer, the Never Not Funny curse), which all prove great fodder for Thorn’s quick wit and occasional mockery. It may be that the bar has been lowered in recent weeks, but #920 is much more than a return to form.

Pop Culture Happy Hour: Pain Revolution! And We Don’t Just Mean Scott Baio!
Since none of the Pop Culture Happy Hour regulars are boxers (let alone remote-controlled-robot boxers), they brought in a ringer this week to discuss Real Steel: Boxer and boxing instructor Chris Klimek. Not that the review ever gets technical enough to require a real boxer; Klimek just joins in on the lively praise for and snickering about the movie. (Though A.V. Club founder Stephen Thompson does draw on Klimek’s professional expertise by asking whether he thinks he could take Thompson in a fight.) Then the participants expand the Regrettable Television Pop Quiz to include regrettable television throughout history. The highlight of this week’s episode is either Glen Weldon vitriolically describing the ins and outs of Galactica 1980, or his co-hosts’ giggling, patent disbelief, and eventually insistence that he’s making it all up. Or maybe the highlight is Klimek’s inspirational (though also pretty depressing) sports story for the What’s Making Us Happy segment, and Linda Holmes’ consciously facetious segue “Speaking of the triumph of the human spirit and the happiness of others…”

Risk!: The Best Of Risk! Part 1
Risk! host Kevin Allison takes a look back at the show’s first two years, presenting the best stories in two parts. (The second part will air down the road, though no specific date is mentioned.) This episode’s format is no different than the others, making it a good introduction for anyone who hasn’t listened yet, though it could skew a new listener’s perception a bit, as not every story is as good as the ones here. Not one to miss an opportunity to mention having been in The State, Allison introduces Michael Ian Black as a “fellow State member, ” but also says that Black’s advice—to take a risk—helped kick “this entire endeavor into gear.” Black’s hilarious story about his honeymoon in Amsterdam—during which he had his first experience with pot—kicks off the show and sets a high bar for the rest. But Giulia Rozzi’s tale about her childhood romance with a beanbag chair her mother bought and A.D. Miles’ almost-unbelievable story about a day he spent with a girl named Dana, keep up the momentum.

The Sound Of Young America: Rin Tin Tin with Susan Orlean
Jesse Thorn’s interview with New Yorker contributor and The Orchid Thief author Susan Orlean regarding her new book about Rin Tin Tin (discussed in this week’s Reasonable Discussions as well) is unexpectedly morose for a discussion about a famous dog. Then again, Rinty was discovered in a World War I bombed-out kennel, so perhaps it’s appropriate that the interview is a little heavy. While there is talk about the German Shepherd’s derring-do and why dogs are so awesome, there is also a meditation on how the tragedy of loving a dog means knowing that it will die one day. On the lighter side of TSOYA, Thorn also chats with The A.V. Club’s Todd VanDerWerff  and Erik Adams about which new shows they (tentatively) recommend this season. 

Stuff You Missed In History Class: Who Was The Real Dr. Frankenstein? 
While Mary Shelley claimed that the story of Frankenstein came to her in a dream, it turns out all the goth scientists were already sending currents through corpses, and “experiments with galvanism” was an actual fad of the time. Not popular, per se, but they were happening, and Mary Shelley’s family was only a small step away from the experiments of one of the more dramatic creeps, Giovanni Aldini. In the tradition of this month’s “spooky” themes, there is a healthy dollop of horror in this tale, involving a dollop of cat brain being scooped out and the cat made to “bound about.” What is perhaps more disturbing than the experiments is that they actually led to true scientific discovery, and while the practice eventually died out, the bravado involved is likely what inspired Shelley’s story. Aldini and his colleagues loved to draw an audience for their corpse-electrocutions, and it becomes clear through this episode why this story is so compelling: It’s not just the story of science crossing a line, but also of rich, spoiled idiots doing things just because they can.

Stuff You Missed In History Class: Why Would You Put A Cadaver On Trial? 
Boy oh boy, popes used to be real douchebags. Never mind the Borgias, though they brought a certain sexiness to murder and corruption. In the dark ages, a pope did not live very long at all, and he was actually pretty lucky if his predecessor didn’t dig him up and take him to court. Pope Formosus was not one of the lucky ones, as his corpse was put on trial, dismembered, and dumped in the river. Not that Formosus’ antagonist fared much better: He himself was strangled before long. Sarah Dowdey and Deblina Chakraborty remind listeners that while this was a part of an era of papal corruption, this is about as bad as it gets. Perhaps the most “blasphemous” of the “spooky October” episodes yet, this one paints the church in a horrible light, though sensitive subscribers can rest assured that, aside from some finger-chopping, the details never get too grisly.

Stuff You Should Know: The Wind Cries Typhoid Mary
Mary Mallon was unfazed by the fact that six out of the 10 families she ever worked for all developed her eponymous disease, clinging to the fact that she herself never died of the runs, just every single person who ate her signature dessert of peaches and ice cream. Hosts Josh Clark and Chuck Bryant have a good deal of fun describing her as a stubborn Irish spitfire who could probably take a bullet and not even notice, let alone harbor a disease. When an investigator arrived asking for a fecal sample, she chased him off with a fork; then, despite the government officially diagnosing her, quarantining her, and demanding she never cook again, she only changed her name and made more diseased peaches and cream, because surely she was not the Lil’ Miss Poopyhands the stupid men kept telling her she was. To her credit, she had a strange immune system, and as her story spans decades, her goofy defiance only becomes more fascinating.  

Uhh Yeah Dude #293
Even more so than usual, this week’s Uhh Yeah Dude flings a grab-bag of esoteric subject matter at listeners. Seth Romatelli and Jonathan Larroquette introduce listeners to such concepts as denim leggings, Zwarte Piet (Santa’s black servant, whom people in The Netherlands celebrate en masse and in blackface), and the creepy Hispanic myth of La Llorona, a.k.a. “The Weeping Woman.” You’d hope these two would find multiple opportunities throughout a podcast to play with the fact that it’s Clergy Appreciation Month, and they do not disappoint. Even when they stoop to dissecting actor Zachary Levi’s groan-worthy Twitter feed, the UYD duo proves its fine instinct for the comedy in media waste. The hosts’ discussion of studies and surveys reaches a high point this week too, as they put a study on toddler behavior into layman’s terms: “Babies are people-pleasing fucks.”

Walking The Room #73: Paul Gilmartin 
Paul Gilmartin of The Mental Illness Happy Hour joins Greg Behrendt and Dave Anthony in their closet-cum-podcasting studio, and congratulates Walking The Room’s hosts on their quality “alpha-male bonding.” It’s one of the better, more natural-feeling guest spots WTR has had so far. Gilmartin isn’t always interjecting, but he’s just insulting and assertive enough that you know he speaks Anthony and Behrendt’s language. (His suggestions for improving the podcast include less Greg, less Dave.) Better still, all three manage to bond over the dispiriting ups and downs of entertainment careers (a frequent WTR theme), especially when Gilmartin recalls his time as host of TBS’s Dinner And A Movie.

Who Charted?: Margaret And Al
Any podcast featuring the criminally underrated Eddie Pepitone ends up being nothing less than a delight, and this is no exception. For the music portion, Howard Kremer and Kulap Vilaysack present Pepitone with some alternative charts as determined by Dusted.com. Part of the fun is hearing a 52-year-old man learn about the existence of things like chillwave, Pitchfork, Wild Flag, and St. Vincent. Still, Pepitone navigates this brave new musical world pretty effortlessly, and even starts a hilarious riff about a chillwave crime procedural. It’s also worth noting that the music the kids are listening to doesn’t have enough bite and edge for this middle-aged comedian. Go figure. Pepitone lands in more familiar territory during the movie charts, where the discussion of Ides Of March leads to him and Kremer squaring off in impromptu, off-the-cuff campaign speeches. All in all, Pepitone brings so much energy to the episode that Kremer and Vilaysack can just comfortably fall into the background. In fact, most of the time, Vilaysack seems paralyzed with laughter, which seems to be the status quo whenever Pepitone is in the room. 

WTF With Marc Maron #219: Norm Macdonald
Marc Maron’s garage is the perfect place for performers to draw the line between “person” and “persona.” Sandra Bernhard showed she’s not all jagged edges on her recent WTF appearance, while this episode of the ’cast gives Norm Macdonald the chance to show the thoughtful, self-effacing guy behind his sardonic sense of humor and frequently flip appearances on the late-night circuit. He and Maron move in free-form fashion through a number of topics, touching on Macdonald’s time at Saturday Night Live as well as the compulsive gambling habit that bankrupted him three times. There’s an air of old showbiz professionalism about Macdonald’s end of the conversation (after all, he does describe himself as a “night-club comic”), and while he and Maron occasionally digress into “cranky old men” territory, there’s a warmth, depth, and appreciation for the art of comedy here that you wouldn’t expect from the guy who used to smirk away behind the Weekend Update desk.


The Adam Carolla Show
While Ace is temporarily working in New York, the show is truly a podcast, with no live streams. For now, that means shorter episodes, less morning-show style chatter, and more one-on-one interviews. The week, in order of descending interest: Riki Lindhome, actress and host of Nerdist Network’s podcast Making It, gets third-degree questioning about Clint Eastwood, her director in Million Dollar Baby. She dishes on the inherent advantages of being a tall blonde girl, and they discuss the skewed sexual dynamics of the fast-food world. Former Mr. Universe Lou Ferrigno talks bodybuilding, hearing loss, steroids, nutrition, and training Mickey Rourke and Michael Jackson (with precious little on his role as the Hulk). Kumail Nanjiani, host of Nerdist’s The Indoor Kids videogame podcast, recalls emigrating from Pakistan to Iowa, and how the American “pursue your dreams” ethic created an identity crisis that led him to trade computer science for comedy. More amiable than memorable, Whitney co-star Chris D’Elia gives the scoop on arriving in Hollywood with the wrong haircut and befriending Whitney Cummings. His experiences invoke a fresh take on Ace’s ongoing “how networks screw up sitcoms” study. Chinese actress/Celebrity Rehab survivor/singer Bai Ling sits for a stilted chat with quality tidbits about her life in the Chinese army (upside: nice uniforms; downside: sexual abuse), her ideas on how to establish world peace (abolish countries, because we’re all brothers and sisters), and how we’re all special (share the magic inside you).

The Apple Sisters #20: Merry Murderers
Still stalked by the Jack-o-Lantern Killer, the girls meet a 4-year-old (or maybe it’s 8 or 12, it changes) boy named Matty D. or Matty B. (it changes), played by Scott Aukerman. It has the feel of a loose improv scene, very silly but not laugh-out-loud funny. The mailroom finds listeners really getting in on the 1943 vibe of the show, as they mention the things that scare them most are “Japs” (“Japanese American Princesses?” asks Cora, “Is it true they have dirty knees?” follows up Matty), women in the workplace, and Hitler not being a Christian. Another solid song closes out the episode.

The Best Show On WFMU
Therese and Associate Producer Mike guest-host this week for Tom Scharpling (who’s possibly off celebrating his Spin.com profile article), and joke that the show should be renamed “The Doing The Best We Can Show.” Amen. Among the topics are “not so proud moments in life,” high-school reunions involving perverted teachers, burnouts who stayed burnouts, and people who rarely have a good time at reunions. The phone lines are also opened to all banned callers—except “the puppet” Wally Wackiman, who is still banned, though his owner is welcome to call in. 

Firewall & Iceberg #99: “Boss, Once Upon A Time, Pearl Jam Twenty & More” 
Heavy meta is the order for the week at Firewall & Iceberg. Dan Fienberg and Alan Sepinwall deduct a few points from Pearl Jam Twenty because the documentary doesn’t follow a traditional rock-doc arc, then penalize Starz’s Kelsey Grammer political drama Boss for including too many TV-drama tropes. Listener mail about The A.V. Club’s Breaking Bad season four postmortem interview with executive producer Vince Gilligan prompts a discussion of how much behind-the-scenes knowledge should impact the viewing experience. Other topics include critical aggregators like Metacritic, ABC rotten tomatoes Man Up and Once Upon A Time, and how baseball is frakking up Fox’s fall schedule.

Sklarbro Country #64: Grapes Vs. Grapefruit: Gary Gulman, James Adomian
The Sklar Brothers’ instincts seldom steer them wrong, but they hit a flurry of jarringly wrong notes in an extended riff about the woman who ran the Chicago Marathon while 39 weeks pregnant. The brothers’ quips come off as a little paternalistic, condescending, and sexist; even worse, they aren’t particularly funny. They eventually find their footing, and Gary Gulman proves an affable and informed guest. (It helps that he used to be an athlete himself.) The call from Gary Busey (James Adomian) is predictably amusing, but the show never fully recovers from its botched opening.  

The Smartest Man In The World: Tents
Greg Proops is back in L.A. for this episode, and he hits the ground running, tackling the Pantheon, Winston Churchill’s military career, and Wikipedia all within the opening six minutes. The primary highlight is Proops’ roll from Rita Hayworth to Judy Garland to a description of the New York Dolls’ Midnight Special appearance. The Occupy Wall Street protests also gives Proops plenty of grist for his political mill, a moment that would be worthwhile on any of his podcasts.

Sound Opinions #307: Hero Worship
Every so often, Jim DeRogatis and Greg Kot will pick a broad theme as an excuse to play some of their favorite songs. This week, they pick tracks that name-check other artists, resulting in a playlist that’s predictably heavy on classics like Cheap Trick’s “Surrender” and The Replacements’ “Alex Chilton,” as well as curveballs like Frank Black’s lovely “I Heard Ramona Sing.” It’s not a terribly compelling topic for a podcast, but it’s a breezy enough hour filled with good music.

Stuff You Should Know: The Nile IS Just A River In Egypt
“We’re just going to chalk this up to… If you want to know the entire world… you’re going to have to get to the Nile eventually.” Josh Clark remarks sleepily at the end of this podcast, telegraphing the obvious: He and co-host Chuck Bryant did not especially enjoy researching this episode. There are a lot of interesting nuggets of information, but there is no central topic the hosts enjoy. Most of the episode involves them reciting facts to each other as they pretend to be interested, refusing to treat any one moment in, say, Egyptian history like it’s worth their time. “The Nile is one of the most densely populated places on Earth... right?” Clark asks Bryant, who may as well be Google. The title of the episode says it all: They don’t care and you may as well just look it up on Wikipedia. 

WTF With Marc Maron #218: Jack Gallagher
The last time a Gallagher appeared on WTF With Marc Maron, the results were memorable for all the wrong reasons. Maron has an altogether more amiable and less compelling conversation with Jack Gallagher, a buttoned-down, old-school comic who discusses raising a son with autism and the professional frustrations that led to a series of one-man shows. Maron and Gallagher have a perfectly pleasant meeting of dissimilar minds, but there’s very little in this placeholder of an episode to set it apart.