November 1, 2013

Link-O-Rama

Christian Ponder sure seems miserable, reenacting great movie scenes with his great-looking wife for Halloween. Poor guy.

• Here's my follow-up question: What kind of maniac carpets over a giant, hand-painted Monopoly board in the first place?

Maggie LaMaack of L'étoile Magazine interviewed me about Twitter addiction, over-sharing on the internet, my favorite people to follow, and my idea for a new kind of online dating. I'm always looking for any opportunity to talk about something other than baseball, so it was a fun chat. Also, you should follow LaMaack on Twitter because she's great even though we're currently feuding.

• As a wise man once said: "Double-check the quotes you get off the internet."

• I'm officially part of The One Percent.

• I went to a Jason Isbell concert at the Varsity Theater last Friday night and it was amazing. Best show I've ever seen and I can't imagine someone being better. So much talent and energy and passion (plus his wife, Amanda Shires, is an awesome, spectacular-looking fiddle player). I'm already looking forward to Isbell's return to Minnesota at First Avenue in February.

UPDATE: Success!

• I'm crushed by news that Tom Scharpling is ending "The Best Show On WFMU" after 13 years. It's been such a brilliant, unique listening experience and Scharpling is one of my heroes.

• Congrats to Colin Wyers, who's leaving Baseball Prospectus for a gig with the Houston Astros. I was sitting next to Wyers in Anaheim for Mike Trout's first career hit and I remember thinking at the time that two of the three people involved in this story will go on to big things.

• On this week's "Gleeman and The Geek" episode we discussed Paul Molitor joining the Twins' coaching staff and Terry Ryan's maddening quotes before welcoming special guest Randball's Stu for the final 30 minutes of pre-Isbell excitement (and confusion, for John Bonnes).

• Halloween costume baseball at San Diego State is fun:

Maybe the Twins should try wearing costumes next season. Can't be much worse.

• Like everyone else in life, Robert De Niro really just wants to be understood.

• Would it be weird if I brought this on dates? Just want to get it right, you know?

• I'm not sure that any of these "reasons you should love guys with beards" actually make much sense, but we can use all the help we can get.

• I'd laugh, but this could easily be me with the Twins some day.

• The bad news for Nate Burleson is that he crashed his car and broke his arm while trying to keep a pizza from sliding off the seat. The good news is that he's been offered a free year's supply of pizza. The worst news is that the pizza is DiGiorno.

• My mom sent me this link and said: "Your room is still available!"

• TwinsFest is switching from the Metrodome to Target Field, so the Twins are capping attendance among lots of other changes. We're still planning to host a Twins Daily/AG.com get-together.

LaVelle E. Neal III of the Minneapolis Star Tribune is the new Baseball Writers Association of America president.

• Video rental stores were a massive part of my childhood, but that window has closed.

• Why would a 25-year-old quit baseball after making his MLB debut?

• This is what I'll be doing everywhere I go throughout Movember.

• I'm totally useless in the kitchen, but this can't possibly be real can it? Obviously the music adds a whole new dimension.

• Probably going to ask Allison Williams to recap my podcast like this too:

Also, hopefully "Gleeman and The Geek" listeners realize that I am sparing you some details.

• What exactly do the Twins have in Brian Dozier?

Ron Swanson fans will love this.

Johnny Knoxville's chat with Marc Maron was lots of fun and led to me discovering through research (Wikipedia) that his real name is Philip Clapp.

• I retweeted this Sam Miller masterpiece during the ninth inning of every Red Sox playoff game.

• "Stop Podcasting Yourself" with Graham Clark and Dave Shumka is my favorite podcast and this week they had on their most consistently delightful guest in Alicia Tobin.

Amber Tamblyn and Todd Glass were an amazing guest combo on "Comedy Bang Bang" with Scott Aukerman.

• I listened to this whole thing just to hear them say my name.

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

- "Head size contest"
- "Cory Cove is a punk"
- "Who is Big Papi?"
- "Brett Favre shirtless"
- "Guide to sports podcasting"
- "Best shoes for men over 400 pounds"
- "How fat is he?"
- "Tom Scharpling vs. Howard Stern"

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is Link-O-Rama favorite Possum Plows doing an acoustic cover version of "Don't Kill My Vibe" by Kendrick Lamar:


This week's blog content is sponsored by Twins Daily's new "2014 Offseason Handbook" featuring everything you need to prepare for the Twins' winter moves for just $6.95. Please support them for supporting AG.com.

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"


July 13, 2012

Link-O-Rama

• August 1 will be the 10-year anniversary of this blog and it seems like I should do something special to celebrate, but so far I'm drawing a blank. If you have any ideas besides "announce your retirement" I'd love to hear them, but please keep in mind my usual level of laziness.

Glen Perkins outed himself as a stat-head with interesting thoughts about how knowing the numbers can help pitchers and how advanced metrics might underrate relievers like him.

• Finally, my working from bed while lying down emerges as a brilliant way to beat the system.

• This almost makes up for all the parents who threw their kids' baseball card collections away.

• All you need to know about my appearance on KFAN with Paul Allen yesterday: It was three segments long and after listening my mom said: "Now you have two Jewish mothers."

• Making fun of Jonah Hill would be easy, except the best-case scenario for my current weight loss involves spending the rest of my life in constant fear of following in his footsteps.

• And at the opposite end of the spectrum there's Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com Mila Kunis.

• Should the Twins trade Denard Span, Josh Willingham, Justin Morneau, and Francisco Liriano? I'm glad you asked.

• Amazon's plan for taking over the world would guarantee that I never leave the house.

• Eight years, one marriage, and two children later former Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com Jessica Alba is still getting the job done.

Larry Bird had a very sensible take on the current Olympic team vs. Dream Team "debate."

Ballplayer: Pelotero is a new documentary about teenage prospects in the Dominican Republic that's made headlines because Bud Selig is angry about how it portrays the allegedly corrupt system in which they sign with MLB teams. Twins fans should be particularly interested in the film because it tells the behind-the-scenes story of two players who signed as 16-year-olds in 2009 and one of them is Miguel Sano. Here's a preview:

Sano is now the Twins' top prospect and one of the best prospects in baseball, and the movie opens today. I'll have a review early next week, but in the meantime I'd encourage anyone in the Twin Cities to see it locally at St. Anthony Main Theatre in Minneapolis, where Ballplayer: Pelotero is showing from July 13-19 as part of The Film Society of Minneapolis St. Paul. For show times and further details, click here.

• As someone totally obsessed with the Food Network show Chopped this is pretty great.

• When he's done counting his $18.3 million Antonio Esfandiari can say he won the richest poker tournament of all time.

• One out of every eight MLB regulars was an All-Star this season and even that might be stretching the definition of "regulars" a little bit.

Adrian Peterson hired Roger Clemens' lawyer following his arrest in Houston.

Kyrie Irving does things with a basketball that shouldn't be possible and it's only a practice.

Zach Lowe's blog on SI.com has become an hourly must-read during the NBA offseason.

• I'm way too excited that this show is coming back on the air next week.

• Minnesotans complain a lot about Joe Mauer's contract, but it could be much, much worse.

• I saw Moonrise Kingdom and definitely enjoyed parts of it, but mostly came to the conclusion that I just don't get Wes Anderson.

• If you're interested in a movie that's still quirky, but in a less annoying, more compelling way I rented Death of a Superhero and highly recommend it.

Dov Davidoff's appearance on You Made It Weird with Pete Holmes was full of really deep, interesting conversation with some comedy sprinkled in.

• As always, the combination of Chelsea Peretti and Harris Wittels on the same podcast can't be beat, especially when you add in Adam Scott and Scott Aukerman.

• Netflix instant recommendation: The Swell Season is such a well-done documentary that I loved it despite only barely being familiar with Glen Hansard and Marketa Irglova.

• This week's Gleeman and The Geek episode mostly featured me obsessing about unknowingly wearing a shirt that John Bonnes owns too, but there's also a look back at how our winter over/under predictions for the Twins have fared.

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is "For You" by Angus and Julia Stone:

June 8, 2012

Link-O-Rama

• In fairness to new Vikings fullback Jerome Felton, who among us hasn't been arrested while in the drive-thru line at McDonald's?

• Craziest sentence I've read in a long time: "Police said that Carter then cut off pieces of his skin and intestines and threw them at officers." And the rest of the story is similarly insane.

• Nerds need to get their head out of a spreadsheet and watch a game read a dictionary.

• Up is down, black is white, and the Minnesota Twins are drafting power arms.

• Sure, going to 6,000 different Chinese restaurants is impressive, but what about me going to the same Chinese restaurant 6,000 different times?

• Renewing the Official Fantasy Girl of AG.com candidacy of Kelly Brook is like riding a bike.

• My weekly appearance on KFAN with Paul Allen involved some NBA chatter along with talk about the Twins' turnaround, what to make of Francisco Liriano, and how batting average on balls in play factors into analysis of hitters. You can listen to the entire appearance here.

Jeff Manship may not seem like a particularly tough name to spell, but facts say otherwise.

• My first thought after reading this story? Even that guy/chair had a live-in girlfriend.

Jamie Anne Royce's list of "things you should know before you date a writer" is funny/true.

• People: Still the worst.

• I'm willing to pitch in some of my salary if NBC makes a run at MLB broadcasting rights.

Jose Berrios, the high school pitcher from Puerto Rico drafted by the Twins with the 32nd pick they got as compensation for losing Michael Cuddyer, had a great reaction to the news:

 And that was before he looked up the slot signing bonus amount for his pick: $1.55 million.

• Rochester Century pitcher Mitch Brown was drafted 79th overall by the Indians after the Twins passed on the local right-hander at 32, 42, 63, and 72. Slot value for his pick: $640,000.

• Why did the Twins choose Byron Buxton over Mark Appel? I'm glad you asked.

• Some context for Buxton negotiations: No. 1 pick Carlos Correa has already signed for $4.8 million and No. 5 pick Kyle Zimmer signed for $3 million.

• This is like one of those "pick any three people to have dinner with" questions, come to life.

• Actually, in reading Maxim's oral history of The Wire it might be more interesting to see what they did after dinner. "We smoked a lot of good weed, did a lot of strip clubs. A lot of that."

• On a related note, Anthony Bourdain is leaving the Travel Channel for CNN, which seems like an odd fit but probably won't matter as long as he sticks with the No Reservations tone.

• Phillies manager Charlie Manuel is the new MC Skat Kat.

Terry Francona has ... well, let's just say remarkable self-esteem. And also a towel.

• I've been saying that Cubs pitcher Jeff Samardzija looks like the doll from the Saw movies, so a Twitter follow found proof.

• FX pairing Louis C.K. with Jim Jeffries is brilliant, assuming you like filthy, hilarious people.

Jamie Moyer quickly found a new home after being cut by the Rockies and the 49-year-old is now on the same team as J.C. Romero, Lew Ford, and Pat Neshek.

• The fastest man in baseball is on pace for 160 steals.

David Brauer of MinnPost reports that the St. Paul Pioneer Press "is offering buyouts across all departments" in what is another sad development for the local journalism scene.

• As someone who got good grades at the University of Minnesota despite frequently skipping classes, rarely doing any homework, and eventually dropping out this seems like old news.

Barry Zito is selling his $11.5 million house because he didn't like commuting to the ballpark.

Scott Aukerman, who runs the Earwolf podcast network and has a new television show on IFC that debuts tonight, got the New York Times profile treatment.

• We just passed 200,000 downloads for the Gleeman and The Geek podcast. To everyone who listens: Thank you so much ... and maybe leave an iTunes review?

Tiffany Simons is on vacation, so naturally I filled in on HBT Extra for yesterday and today.

• Within his interesting Trevor Plouffe analysis, Parker Hageman of Twins Daily suggests my weight as the new "Mendoza Line." Of course, even Mario Mendoza could hit above .175.

• According to Pew Research Center's study 15 percent of American adults with a computer use Twitter, which is nearly double the total from 18 months ago. I joined Twitter in mid-2009 and can't imagine life without it, as it's become essential for my job and time-wasting ability.

• Finally, this week's AG.com-approved music video is the studio version of "The Basement" off Eric Hutchinson's new album:

This week's blog content is sponsored by PickPointz, where you can make predictions, pick games, and win prizes for free. Please support them for supporting AG.com.