August 23, 2013

Link-O-Rama

• Thursday morning I was a guest on Paul Allen's show live from the KFAN booth at the State Fair. I had zero idea what they had planned, but much like last year it turned into an excuse to find me a date on the radio and in front of fair-goers sitting on bleachers watching us. Things got awkward and (hopefully) funny enough that I stayed on for three segments. You can listen to the first part here and the second part here. And then let's agree to never speak of this again.

• Ain't no party like a Corey Feldman party because a Corey Feldman party ... looks really sad.

Joe Mauer is the latest on a long list of catchers suffering concussions at an alarming rate.

• Alcoholism-enabling news of the week: "Australian researches have found a way to improve the hydrating qualities of beer without compromising on taste and ... may even have found a way to avoid a post-drink hangover."

• My favorite moment from this week's "Breaking Bad" episode was an easy choice. And the guy on the left, Bill Burr, is a great stand-up comedian who also hosts a very good podcast.

• Not only is "Community" creator Dan Harmon returning to the show next season, Jonathan Banks is joining the cast after brilliantly playing Mike Ehrmantraut on "Breaking Bad."

• On this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode we tried to figure out how the Twins' rotation can avoid being terrible again next season and examined the two major types of Twins fandom.

St. Paul Pioneer Press photographer Ben Garvin made a stop-motion video of his magic beard:

Us beardos have to stick together.

Delmon Young has been reunited with the Rays six years after they traded him to the Twins.

• Every six months or so Peter Gammons takes a seemingly random shot at me on Twitter for some reason. I try not to get worked up about it, because he's one of the best baseball writers of all time, he's been nice to me personally, and he turned me on to Susan Tedeschi years ago.

Will Leitch, formerly of Deadspin and currently of Sports On Earth and New York magazine, invited me on his podcast to chat about old-school blogging, staying away from steroids, and why Gammons likes to jab at me. I've been online acquaintances with Leitch for a decade or so and we were even featured together in a Sports Illustrated article alongside Bill Simmons, but I'm not sure I'd ever actually spoken to him before. It was fun and I think you'll enjoy listening.

• I can only assume that my working from home as an internet baseball writer played a big part in Google naming Minnetonka this year's "eCity of Minnesota." Whatever that means.

• Exactly how discouraging was Kyle Gibson's first taste of the big leagues?

• Grantland followed Hannibal Buress around with a camera as he worked on jokes.

• As a longtime John Mayer fan a lot of this stuff makes sense to me, but it's probably not a winnable battle at this point. His new album is good, though.

• If only for nostalgia I wouldn't mind the Twins signing Johan Santana to a cheap deal.

Morgan Murphy is hilarious on Twitter and pretty damn funny on stage too. Woo!

• MLB formed a seven-person committee of SABR members to incorporate as 25 percent of their Gold Glove award selection process. And my favorite part is that the man wearing these socks is one of the seven chosen. You probably didn't realize I was hanging out with defensive experts.

• Angels manager Mike Scioscia claims the A's never taught Grant Green how to bunt, but his story doesn't quite check out.

• My fellow Howard Stern fans will enjoy this: Within the span of around 72 hours this week "Baba Booey" was mentioned during a Padres broadcast and on "The Newsroom":

That made me feel slightly better about still watching "The Newsroom."

• I had an in-depth discussion with Glen Perkins about what it takes to be a closer.

• Honestly, sometimes I wish my fans would dial back the praise just a little bit.

Clayton Kershaw is a bad, bad man.

• I finished re-watching "The Sopranos" via HBO GO, devouring all 86 episodes in 84 days. I'd like to write something substantial about the experience at some point, but the short version is that I loved the show even more the second time around and certainly appreciated many of the themes more as a 30-year-old than as a 20-year-old. Here's a collection of my tweets about re-watching the show, in reverse order.

• Any movie co-starring Adam Scott and Robin Tunney can't help but be good and "See Girl Run" is definitely worth checking out on Netflix. Scott did steal my tuxedo t-shirt look, though.

• I was home from the State Fair by 11:30 a.m. on opening day and left without eating anything. And that might be my only State Fair appearance of the year, although I'm reconsidering because Julie Klausner is hosting the Walker Arts Center's "internet cat video festival" there Wednesday. I'm not sure what that is, exactly, but I do know she's great.

• I'm tempted to go check out "Wits" at the Fitzgerald Theater because they have a bunch of good comedians scheduled as guests and must-follow tweeter Alison Agosti writes for the show.

Tom Segura might be my pick for the most underrated stand-up comedian and he also co-hosts a good podcast, so not surprisingly he was a great guest on Marc Maron's show.

• This week I re-upped my yearly subscription to Baseball-Reference.com's Play Index, which is the most indispensable research tool in sports and probably my favorite thing ever.

• Some of this week's weird and random search engine queries that brought people here:

- "Inga Hammond and Scott Erickson"
- "Girls Gone Gleeman"
- "Lindsay Lohan baseball"
- "Lean Cuisine keeps me in shape"
- "Paulie Gualtieri tattoo"
- "What size shirt should a 265-pound man wear?"
- "St. Paul chubby chasers"
- "Something so ugly that it's beautiful"
- "David Fincher babyface"

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is "Cover Me Up" by Jason Isbell:


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January 11, 2013

Link-O-Rama

• Now that I know Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com Mila Kunis can cook I'm strongly considering being attracted to her.

Joe Christensen and Phil Miller have officially switched Minneapolis Star Tribune beats, with Christensen moving to Gophers football and Miller taking over the Twins.

Lindsay Lohan hasn't started making porn movies (yet), but she has started making movies with pornstars.

Life imitates an Alanis Morissette song.

• Going behind the scenes of HardballTalk reveals an important discussion between co-workers.

• I probably listen to more podcasts than anyone in the world, so I don't say this lightly: Jeff Garlin talking to Larry David for an hour might be my favorite podcast ever.

Last week's missed connection was a false alarm, but this one has to be me, right?

• On this week's episode we asked listeners to submit some designs for a potential "Gleeman and The Geek" t-shirt and so far I've received three of them. You can see one here and one here, and here's the third one just because I think it's the most amusing:

In a lot of ways that might be the most accurate portrayal of two people ever, but for now at least we'll keep looking. I'm offering $50 and a free t-shirt to the creator of any design we use, so if you want to put your skills to work please e-mail me.

• There's a lot of really good comedy coming to Minnesota soon. Nick Offerman will be at Mill City Nights on February 18, Tom Segura will be at Acme Comedy Company on February 23, and Bill Burr will be at the State Theatre on March 23. My dad has had a "poker club" for around 50 years and I'm thinking about starting a "going to comedy shows" club.

• Speaking of Offerman, even as a big "West Wing" fan I didn't remember his time on the show.

• Mystic Lake is also opening up a new comedy club in addition to the big showroom where I saw Artie Lange, Dave Attell, Jim Norton, and Amy Schumer a couple months ago. I'm sensing an oncoming battle between my love of stand-up comedy and my love of not leaving the house.

• In terms of this week's best oral histories, it was a tie between Nick Punto sliding into first base and the history of "Good Will Hunting." Punto would have won if he ran through the bag.

• I watched the fascinating, well done, and weird documentary/mystery "The Imposter," which tells the incredible story of a 13-year-old from Texas who went missing in 1994 and was found four years later in Spain, reuniting with his family. Or so it seemed. An artfully layered narrative of interviews, news accounts, and dramatic recreations shows nothing was as it appeared, from the disappearance to the return to the family's reaction. Highly recommended.

• And in a story with some eery similarities to "The Imposter" a 5-year-old abducted from Indiana in 1994 was found this week living (and married) in Minnesota.

Jonathan Abrams of Grantland has quickly become one of my favorite long-form writers and his latest gem is about the intertwined careers of Rasheed Wallace and Jerry Stackhouse.

• Save the date: Twins Daily is planning a post-Twins Fest get-together on January 26 at Hubert's across from the Metrodome. I might be there doing some podcasting and I'll definitely be there doing some drinking.

• For some reason Louis Amundson botching the layup in the middle of a blowout loss makes this Ricky Rubio pass even more ridiculous.

Through his first seven games back Rubio has 25 points and 35 assists.

Jon Heyman being Jon Heyman. And again. And again. And again.

• Numerous incidents of drunk driving, spousal abuse, and various other crimes go unpunished by MLB every season, but they continue to suspend minor leaguers for smoking pot.

• What should the Twins do with Brian Duensing?

• "Gleeman and The Geek" listeners who enjoy when we're interrupted by a drunk person will be delighted by this week's episode, which also included Parker Hageman of Twins Daily joining me for a lengthy discussion of the Twins' involvement in sabermetrics.

• On a related note, I highly recommend the buffalo chicken panino at Panino Brothers in Eden Prairie. It was so good that I barely regretted going off my strict calorie limit and only forced myself to go twice as long as usual on the elliptical machine afterward.

This tweet is more or less Twitter in a nutshell, complete with the inevitable your/you're error and so much more.

• Thinking someone is great looking is a powerful thing. For instance, I paid to watch Emily Blunt in "Salmon Fishing In The Yemen." And it wasn't bad!

Michael Keaton on "WTF" with Marc Maron was so damn good.

Couper Moorhead of NBA.com wrote an interesting article showing how teams are adapting defensively to the increased focus on corner three-pointers.

• Some of this week's weird and random search engine queries that brought people here:

- "Craig Calcaterra's skinny Jewish friend"
- "Van Morrison divorce"
- "Lazy 19-year-old living at home"
- "Troy Aikman's kids"
- "Aubrey Plaza ties up guy"
- "Jim Thome sex life"
- "What does one pound feel like?"
- "Chuck Knoblauch fat"
- "Mixed wrestling Alison Brie"
- "Terry Kunze college stats"
- "Jason Kubel's sister"

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is Grace Potter (sans The Nocturnals) singing an acoustic version of "Stars":

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November 23, 2012

Link-O-Rama

Headline of the week/weak: "Two drivers arrested for drunken driving in same car."

• Considering everyone involved, this has to be the best-looking fight of all time.

Elisha Cuthbert heard the Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com title might be up for grabs again and wants to apply for a second term.

• If you liked last week's Link-O-Rama music video, "Nothin' But A G Thang," you'll love this oral history of "The Chronic" as the album nears its 20th anniversary.

Kevin Pelton of Basketball Prospectus crunched the numbers from Jack Taylor's record-breaking 138-point game for Grinnell and the sabermetric-style analysis is fun.

Hannibal Buress is at Acme Comedy Company in Minneapolis tonight and tomorrow night. I'll be there for the late show Saturday and if you like stand-up comedy you should go too.

• I'd make Guillermo a -340 favorite.

• If the Twins go looking for free agent pitching in the bargain bin, what will they find?

This week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode was recorded at my house while we were being filmed for a documentary and then afterward I forced John Bonnes to drink Scotch.

• LSU coach Les Miles had an amazing start to his postgame press conference after a comeback win against Mississippi:

There isn't an actor alive who can display that range of emotion in the span of two minutes.

• In case you thought you had a rough week, Robert Andino got traded by the Orioles to make room for Alexi Casilla.

• Just a really important conversation about an extremely serious topic between two adults.

• Two of the greats, Chelsea Peretti and Bill Burr, teamed up for what might be my favorite podcast episode of all time.

Chris Brown of Grantland wrote a really interesting article about Chip Kelly's frantic offense, although naturally Oregon lost while scoring just 14 points Saturday.

• "Extreme Makeover: Bud Selig Edition" is a show I'd watch.

Casey Affleck is directing a movie about Josh Hamilton.

• Whatever this is, I had the opposite.

• I've enjoyed listening to David Cone announce Yankees games on YES Network and the former Cy Young winner is very much into sabermetrics.

• I'd make a joke about the 25-year history of cellphones, but I still have a Blackberry.

• Congrats to friend of AG.com and two-time "Gleeman and The Geek" guest Lindsay Guentzel for her new gig with the Minnesota Swarm.

Jimmy Kimmel's chat with Chris Hardwick on the "Nerdist" podcast was really enjoyable.

• Some of this week's weird and random search engine queries that brought people here:

- "Rob Dibble ex-wife"
- "Phil Ivey fat?"
- "Happy Festivus certificate"
- "Will the Twins sign someone already?"
- "Pictures of Otis Redding's funeral"
- "How to include beer into weight loss"
- "Gundars Vetra photo"
- "Aubrey Plaza face shape"

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is The Fugees covering "No Woman No Cry" by Bob Marley:

November 2, 2012

A podcast-obsessed podcaster’s guide to podcasts

I've always loved talk radio. As a kid I stayed up late listening to nationally syndicated sports talk and as a teenager I was so obsessed with Howard Stern that I recorded his shows on cassette while at school, later paying a New Yorker to send me tapes when he went off the air locally. As an adult I've been lucky enough to do quite a bit of radio, including co-hosting a show on KFAN, but sitting in a studio with a mic in front of me never ceases being a thrill.

Podcasts have taken that to another level, as both a listener and a talker. I do a weekly podcast of my own with co-host John Bonnes called "Gleeman and The Geek" that's been an amazing experience for 65 episodes and averages 7,500-10,000 listeners per show. Podcasts also provide the daily soundtrack to my work life, as I subscribe to more than 40 of them and listen non-stop while writing about baseball for NBCSports.com.

All of which is a long way of saying that I listen to an absurd, perhaps even unhealthy number of podcasts on a regular basis and people who read this blog or follow me on Twitter know that I also talk about podcasts constantly, recommending good episodes and pointing out new shows I've discovered. With that in mind I thought it would be worthwhile to create a guide to my favorite podcasts, so I've highlighted 15 that are absolutely worth checking out.


"WTF With Marc Maron"

I'm not sure if "WTF" is the most downloaded podcast, but it's definitely among the leaders and can probably lay claim to being the most influential podcast. Marc Maron started the show in 2009 after being fired from radio and it has turned into a 300-plus episode collection of long-form, probing, occasionally confrontational interviews with the biggest names in comedy. And in the process Maron has found the following his emotional, honest stand-up comedy deserves.

In a relatively short time Maron has become so synonymous with interesting, revealing chats that he's constantly referenced on other podcasts and many comedians seem to view going on his show as a career achievement. If you have a favorite comedian and want to know their story or what they're like in real life, there's no better place than the "WTF" archives. And along the way Maron will probably become one of your favorite comedians too.


"The Best Show On WFMU"

Tom Scharpling predates podcasting by hosting his radio show on an independent New Jersey station since 2000, but like many listeners I know "The Best Show on WFMU" as a podcast. It's hard to explain Scharpling's brilliance because his weekly three-hour show is unlike any other. He interacts with callers, monologues about music and pop culture, has comedians and musicians as guests, and does lengthy sketches with an always in-character Jon Wurster.

Scharpling's tag line for the show is "three hours of mirth, music, and mayhem" and that's just about right. It took me a while to get into the show initially, because the world he's created is often so absurd and the lines separating people from characters isn't always so clear, but now it might be my favorite podcast. Wurster's characters are great, the callers are great, the guests are great, the music is great, and Scharpling is a spectacular puppet-master and comedic genius.


"Stop Podcasting Yourself"

Here's how good "Stop Podcasting Yourself" with Graham Clark and Dave Shumka is: I didn't discover it until March and yet have already plowed through their 240-episode archive. Friends and comedians from Vancouver who make for a perfect odd couple, Clark and Shumka come across as effortlessly hilarious and endearingly silly. And they do it largely without big-name guests, relying on friends from the Canadian comedy scene who're inevitably great.


"My Brother, My Brother, And Me"

My latest "consume their entire archive like a crazy person" discovery, "My Brother, My Brother, And Me" is an advice show hosted by brothers Travis McElroy, Griffin McElroy, and Justin McElroy. They field questions from listeners, some serious and some not, and dispense mostly ridiculous and silly advice as a conduit for comedy. As you'd expect from three brothers their rapport is pretty amazing and few podcasts get me actually laughing out loud like MBMBAM.


"Doug Loves Movies"

One of the first podcasts I stumbled upon and still a weekly listen, Doug Benson brings on three guests each episode to chat (ostensibly about movies) and then play a name-that-movie contest called "The Leonard Maltin Game" in front of a live audience. I often enjoy the pre-game chatter more than the game itself, but Benson is always great and books tons of well known comedians, actors, and directors on what's basically the world's most laid back game show.


"Throwing Shade"

Erin Gibson was consistently one of my favorite guests on other people's podcasts, so I was thrilled when she started a podcast of her own called "Throwing Shade" about a year ago. Along with co-host Bryan Safi they discuss pop culture, politics, and their personal lives, going from farcical to serious and back again without missing a beat. My crush on Gibson has reached epic proportions at this point--she's a must-follow on Twitter--and Safi is a fantastic foil.


"Fan Graphs Audio"

Along with Bill Simmons' show "Fan Graphs Audio" is one of two sports podcasts to which I'm subscribed, although I listen solely for Carson Cistulli's weekly chat with Dayn Perry that has nothing to do with sports. I was once a guest on Cistulli's show and loved it, but my mom listened and offered this review: "I don't understand what's funny about it." That's probably the perfect tag line for the Cistulli-Perry chats and I find them to be more or less perfection.


"Jordan, Jesse, Go!"

"Stop Podcasting Yourself," "Throwing Shade," and "My Brother, My Brother, And Me" are all part of the Maximum Fun network run by Jesse Thorn, who hosts an interview show called "Bullseye" that can be heard on public radio. I discovered Thorn by way of "Jordan, Jesse, Go!," his other, far less formal podcast with co-host Jordan Morris. Thorn's radio polish and podcast goofiness is a wonderful mix, Morris is an excellent running mate, and their guests are top notch.


"Bill Burr's Monday Morning Podcast"

Bill Burr is an incredible, well-respected stand-up comedian and in addition to being really funny his podcast is also unique in that it's just him. He occasionally has guests, including his hilarious girlfriend, but 95 percent of the episodes are simply Burr talking/ranting for an hour. I realize that doesn't sound particularly appealing and in most cases it wouldn't be, but Burr makes it work and the more podcasts I listen to the more impressed I am by his ability to entertain solo.


"How Was Your Week"

I could not possibly be more charmed by a woman than I am by Julie Klausner. Her book was a great read, her tweets are 140-character gold, and "How Was Your Week" is a must-listen. She opens each episode with a monologue that somehow manages to seem off the cuff while being way too amusing to actually be improvised, and then welcomes one or two guests, often from totally different walks of life, for half-hour chats that would best be described as delightful.


"The Long Shot"

Sean Conroy is the capable, sarcastically funny host, Eddie Pepitone is the grizzled comedy veteran who's equal parts lovable and bitter, Amber Kenny is the fresh-faced, sharp-witted optimist, and Jamie Flam is the awkwardly amusing punching bag. Together they form an unlikely but incredibly likeable quartet, sharing tales of complaints and triumphs in the Los Angeles comedy world before welcoming a guest to what is, if nothing else, the most crowded podcast.


"Who Charted?"

"Who Charted?" is a rare podcast with a truly unique format, as co-hosts Howard Kremer and Kulap Vilaysack use charts as a jumping off point for hour-long chats with guests. They often stray from the format, sometimes hilariously so, but the ability to come back to a discussion about the No. 1 song in the country or the week's highest-grossing movie keeps things rolling smoothly along with their great chemistry and playful humor. Oh, and Vilaysack is a Minnesotan.


"Totally Laime"

Hosted by Elizabeth Laime and her husband/sidekick "psychic" Andy Rosen, the mix of silliness, sweetness, and occasionally raunchy humor found in "Totally Laime" is hard to resist. Each show features a guest, usually a comedian or actor, but the hour-long episodes definitely seem more like chats among friends than traditional interviews. Laime is consistently funny and charming while encouraging the guests to go as far down the silliness path as they want.


"The Joe Rogan Experience"

Joe Rogan is a stand-up comedian, actor, reality television host, and UFC analyst, but his best work might be as a podcaster. Multiple times per week he and sidekick/podcast network kingpin Brian Redban welcome a guest for the longest of long-form conversation, often lasting 2-3 hours. Rogan is never short on interesting stories or weird theories and seems to genuinely love digging deep with people, which makes for consistently entertaining episodes.


"Comedy Bang Bang"

Scott Aukerman is runs Earwolf, which is home to "Who Charted?" and "Totally Laime," among other podcasts. Before all that he hosted his own show, which features interviews with comedians, actors, and musicians mixed with crazy, improvised sketches in which characters interact with those same (real) guests. It's so good and so weird that it became a television show on IFC, but the "Comedy Bang Bang" podcast remains as fun as when I started listening a few years ago.


Just missed the cut: "Your Mom's House" - "Fitzdog Radio" - "The J.V. Club" - "The B.S. Report" - "You Had To Be There" - "The Todd Glass Show" - "Professor Blastoff" - "The Champs" - "Weird Adults" - "Nerdist" - "This Feels Terrible" - "You Made It Weird" - "Bullseye" - "Alison Rosen Is Your New Best Friend" - "The Adam Carolla Show" - "Dave Hill's Podcasting Incident" - "Making It With Riki Lindhome" - "Call Chelsea Peretti" - "Pop My Culture" - "Fixing Joe" - "You Know What Dude" - "Mental Illness Happy Hour" - "Sklarbro Country"

And if you haven't already, please check out my podcast: "Gleeman and The Geek"


January 13, 2012

Link-O-Rama

• By virtue of her contribution to Jay-Z's new song his week-old daughter Blue Ivy Carter has already experienced more success than 99 percent of musicians ever will.

• One bad thing about being George Clooney is that he has to make such difficult tradeoffs.

Alex Rodriguez definitely has a type.

Rob McElhenney gained 50 pounds for the latest season of It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia, so naturally now he's interested in the lives of bloggers.

• This would be like arresting me for writing about the Twins or looking at Mila Kunis pictures.

Donovan McNabb finally found a place where his bounce passes are a positive thing.

• If anyone knows Katy Perry, tell her I'm willing to overlook this whole thing.

Bud Selig makes $22 million per year. That's all.

• My blog-mate Craig Calcaterra had some interesting thoughts about guys like us joining the Baseball Writers Association of America.

• This week's podcast is a mailbag episode, so thanks to everyone who submitted questions.

• Last month I opined that Glen Perkins is one of the few athletes worth following on Twitter, as evidenced by this picture of him dressed up as Bear Bryant for the Alabama-LSU game:

And clearly he wasn't kidding about hoping Ricky Rubio popularizes the neck beard locally.

• Apparently my diet has had a profound impact on the world.

• Good news if you like good television: Community is coming back to NBC, for a while at least.

Russell Wilson was the Rockies' fourth-round draft pick in 2010 and played 93 games in the low minors as an infielder, but the Wisconsin quarterback told them he's sticking with football.

• I rented Blue Valentine about six months ago and then watched it again last weekend ... four times. Luckily the free Showtime preview on DirecTV came to an end, because I couldn't stop.

• I also learned that Showtime has some pretty good shows and has definitely closed the gap on HBO. And now I'm confused about why Emmy Rossum isn't a huge star.

• Seven years ago I wrote this article touting Barry Larkin for the Hall of Fame.

Johan Santana is 16 months removed from left shoulder surgery and still not sure when he'll rejoin the Mets' rotation. He's owed $55 million for the next two seasons.

• Earlier this week the "F" key on my laptop stopped working and it's still giving me problems, but rather than getting it fixed I'm thinking about adopting this approach to writing.

• Very few one-person podcasts are any good--which is why I partnered up with John Bonnes for "Gleeman and the Geek"--but Bill Burr's solo show "Monday Morning Podcast" is hilarious.

• Two of my favorite comedians, Tom Segura and Todd Glass, will be at Acme Comedy Club on back-to-back weeks. Instead of talking someone into driving me or figuring out how not to be so clueless getting places and buying a new car I'm thinking of just moving next to the club.

Evan Drellich of MLB.com penned a fitting tribute to Society for American Baseball Research member and all-around nice guy Greg Spira, who died last month at age 44.

• This year's SABR convention is coming to Minnesota from June 27 to July 3 and I've gotten a lot of questions from locals curious about joining, so click here for details about what it entails.

• Finally, in honor of me binging on Blue Valentine this week's AG.com-approved music video is "You and Me" by Penny and The Quarters: