Episode 11: Aliens, OTC Hall of Fame, Lost the Plot: John Wick, Unchained Melodies, Book Wisdom

This week Dave and Steel discuss Dave’s new haircut, four types of aliens, induct the newest member of the OTC Hall of Fame, play Lost the Plot with the film John Wick, share some great music from Andrew Bird, Mississippi John Hurt, Alvin Youngblood Hart, Cat Power, and Roger Miller, and drop some heavy theology from the Book of Genesis.



Dave referenced a couple of books in this segment that are worth checking out. The first is Vernor Vinge’s Fire Upon the Deep, which featured the alien race of dogs which share a common mind. The second is Larry Niven’s Ringworld, which was the source of the Puppeteers, a strange race of highly intelligent beings. Niven has written a larger Ringworld series, which Dave highly recommends.

OTC Hall of Fame

Steel inducted Miami lawyer and immigration reform advocate Nora Sandigo, who was recently featured in this outstanding Washington Post article by Eli Saslow. Sandigo has become the legal guardian for more than 800 children whose parents have been deported for illegal immigration over the past 6 years.

Lost the Plot: John Wick

The very violent trailer for the cinematic release of John Wick

Unchained Melodies

Andrew Bird — Three White Horses

Mississippi John Hurt — Here Am I, Oh Lord Send Me

Here Am I, Oh Lord, Send Me by Mississippi John Hurt on Grooveshark

Alvin Youngblood Hart — Here Am I, Oh Lord Send Me

Here Am I, Oh Lord, Send Me by Alvin Youngblood Hart on Grooveshark

Cat Power — Colors and the Kids

Roger Miller — Oo-De-Lally

Song – OO-De-Lally (Roger Miller) by Robin Hood [Soundtrack] on Grooveshark

Roger Miller — Whistle Stop

Whistle Stop by Roger Miller on Grooveshark

Roger Miller — Dang Me

Book Wisdom

This week’s passage was The Akedah (The Binding [of Isaac]), taken from Genesis 22:1-12.

Episode 10: Baby Birthday Parties, To The Limits, Ask OTC, Small Talk, Diesel: Running on Gas, Unchained Melodies, and Montaigne's Essays

This week Dave and Steel discuss some pro tips for successful birthday parties for infants and toddlers, talk about some incredible feats of human achievement (including Yeti sightings and some of the longest walks ever recorded), introduce you to the paranormal educational opportunities available at Arthur Findlay College, discuss Turning Point and Radio Diaries, answer great listener questions about vanity plates and rectal tubes, share some great music from Martha Wainwright, The New Christy Minstrels, Bahamas, and The National, and drop some humility from Michel de Montaigne.


To The Limits

Sławomir Rawicz’s book is called The Long Walk. The book was the ‘inspiration’ for a 2010 film called The Way Back with Colin Farrell and Ed Harris.

Here’s Elizabeth Weil’s NYT magazine article about the Swiss adventurer Sarah Marquis. Ms. Marquis maintains a website where you can hear interviews, find her TED talks, and see several videos of her exploits.

Small Talk

WSJ article programabout Arthur Findlay College, a Spiritualist-run school for psychics and mediums. The college also has its own website.

Dave highly recommends BYUTV’s programTurning Point.

Steel recommends Joe Richman’s podcast Radio Diaries, especially their recent episode about songwriter Rose Marie McCoy.

Unchained Melodies

Martha Wainwright — Everything Wrong

The New Christy Minstrels — El Camino Real

Bahamas — Lost in the Light

The National — So Far Around the Bend

So Far Around the Bend by The National on Grooveshark

Book Wisdom

Today’s passage was “To the Reader,” the brief preface to Michel de Montaigne’s classic Essays. Steel recommends the Donald Frame translation. You can also listen to the essays, as they’ve been recorded by LibriVox volunteers.

Episode 9: Ostrich Fest, March Madness!, Lost the Plot: Backdraft, Unchained Melodies, and Raise Hight the Roof Beam, Carpenters

In this week’s episode Dave and Steel discuss Ostrich Fest, their favorite March Madness memories, Steel’s idea of what the movie Backdraft might be about, they share some music by the Silver Jews, Serengeti, Night Beds, and Angel Olsen that’s grabbed them recently, and Dave drops some familial love from a classic J.D. Salinger novella.


Ostrich Fest

Ostrich Festival’s official website

Grand Funk Railroad

GFR’s touring schedule
They’re an American Band

So very American

Nathan Valencias & The Wheel of Destiny

March Madness


An explanation of where the NCAA gets its money (from the TV rights to the annual men’s basketball tournament, basically).

1998: Bryce Drew, “The Shot”

1995: Tyus Edney coast to coast in 4.8 seconds

2007: Eric Maynor

CAA Tournament Championship Game

NCAA 1st Round Game Against Duke

2006: George Mason’s run to the Final Four

2010: Ali Farokhmanesh (and Lucas O’Rear!)

2011: Jimmer!

52 Points in MWC Tournament

Against Gonzaga in NCAA Tournament

Gregory Echinique

1991: Kansas Jayhawks and Mark Randall

What Mark’s up to these days

Name of the Year

You can find hundreds of magnificent names and several years worth of past NOTY brackets at the Name of the Year website.

Lost the Plot



“You Go, We Go”

Unchained Melodies

Silver Jews — We Could Be Looking for the Same Thing

Serengeti — Dennehy

Serengeti — Rhythm of Devotion (live)

Night Beds — Head for the Hills

Video for “Even if We Try”

Angel Olson — Some Things Cosmic

Book Wisdom

This week’s Book Wisdom comes from J.D. Salinger’s Raise High the Roof Beam, Carpenters.

Episode 8: Children's Picture Books, Small Talk, Ask OTC, Unchained Melodies, and The English Patient

This week Dave and Steel are joined by their old friend Amy to discuss children’s picture books, cave dwellings, pigeon-based Ponzi schemes, a once in a lifetime chance to own Hell, frog burgers, answer pressing questions from longtime listeners, share some of their favorite recent music, and drop some beauty from Michael Ondaatje.


Children’s Picture Books

Dave’s recommendations

Amy’s recommendations

Steel’s recommendations

Small Talk

Dave’s favorite cave homes.
Hell [Michican] for sale and the Damned artists who want to buy it. Amy’s list of her top 5 things to do in Hell.
Jon Mooallem’s story about Arlan Galbraith, the Ponzi-scheming Pigeon King.
And, ummm, don’t forget about frog burgers.


The stuffed animal hospital that just might be what you need to revive your best friend from childhood.
Amy’s got a whole bunch of recipes on her blog, including this mouthwatering one for Skinny Texas Cheese Fries.
The tacocopter. Apparently they’re trying it out in San Francisco (beta version), which of course they are.

Unchained Melodies

Caroline Smith — Bloodstyle

Dom La Nena — Llegaré

Built to Spill — Living Zoo

The Decemberists — Carolina Low

D’Angelo and the Vanguard — Back to the Future (Part 1)

The Beatles — Golden Slumbers

Book Wisdom

This week’s passage comes from Michael Ondaatje’s beautiful novel The English Patient.

Episode 7: Time Travel, OTC Hall of Fame, Ask OTC, Unchained Melodies, and All the Pretty Horses

This week Dave and Steel are joined by their friend Ryan to discuss two important time travel franchises: Bill and Ted’s & Back to the Future, learn more about DIY time capsules, induct their first class into the OFF THE CHAIN Hall of Fame, share some recent music that’s impressed them, and drop some beautiful prose from Cormac McCarthy.


Time Travel

Bill and Ted’s Excellent Adventure Trailer [1989]

Bill and Ted’s Bogus Journey Trailer [1991]

Back to the Future I Trailer [1985]

Back to the Future II Trailer [1989]

Back to the Future III Trailer [1990]

Off the Chain Hall of Fame

We were overjoyed to induct our first two members of the OFF THE CHAIN Hall of Fame during this episode. Enormous congratulations to RecSpecs and Paul Walker.

A few years back, Steel wrote a blog post about Rec Specs (complete with image galleries) that pretty much captures most of their greatness.

Unchained Melodies

Kitty, Daisy, and Lewis: Baby Bye Bye

Scenic: Hours on End

The Heligoats: Goodness Gracious

Book Wisdom

This week’s installment of Book Wisdom came from the final page of Cormac McCarthy’s novel All the Pretty Horses.

Episode 6: At the Limits, Small Talk, Unchained Melodies, and Grooks

This week Dave and Steel are joined by their friend Ryan. Together the trio discusses the limits of human endurance by way of the stories of Ernest Shackleton and Yiannis Kouros, share some conversational anecdotes from old Chip & Dale cartoons, Finnish miltary history, and mathematical outsiders, share some favorite recent music, and drop some wisdom from Danish Scientist Piet Hein.


At the Limits

Dave recommends checking out these two books about Ernest Shackleton, both called Endurance, after the name of Shackleton’s ship:

Steel recommends this fascinating 2006 profile of Greek-Australian ultramarathoner Yiannos Kouros from Runner’s World. Kouros also maintains his own website, with more biographical information for the curious.

Small Talk

Donald Duck pulls a handgun on Chip & Dale

Finnish master sniper Simo Häyhä’s wikipedia page.

The recent New Yorker profile on mathematician Yitang Zhang.

Unchained Melodies

Waxahatchee: Under a Rock

London Grammar: Nightcall

Mina Tindle: L’Astrakan

Book Wisdom

The poems Steel read in this episode come from Danish scientist Piet Hein‘s book Grooks.

Episode 5: Small Talk, Diesel: Running on Gas, Ask OTC, Unchained Melodies, and Shantideva

This week Dave and Steel are joined by their old friend Jordan, a Las Vegas-based lawyer. Together, the trio talk about professional dumpster divers, meditating mummified monks, and the maker Jimmy DiResta, introduce a new segment focused on Dave & Jordan’s shared love of Vin Diesel, take a question from a listener about how to deal with boring lecture classes, share some of their favorite recent music, and explore the wisdom of the 8th Century Buddhist monk Shantideva.


Small Talk

  • Wired Magazine’s profile of Matt Malone, professional dumpster diver in Austin, Texas.
  • Story on the unidentified mummified Buddhist monk in Mongolia from the BBC. A more in-depth feature appeared in the Siberian Times.
  • Jimmy DiResta’s YouTube channel. Jordan recommends starting with these two classics:
    Making an Aluminum Hatchet Handle:

    Making an AK47-shaped guitar for Wyclef Jean:

Diesel: Running on Gas

Dave & Jordan discuss the 2013 film Riddick, the third in the Chronicles of Riddick franchise. Here’s the film’s trailer [warning: it’s pretty intense and probably not for children]:


Here are a couple of images Dave and Jordan have drawn in class to help them pass the time.

Geometric Patterns
Geometric Pattern sketch made by Jordan during a law school course.

Gentle Bear checks his mail.
In this drawing by Dave, Gentle Bear checks his mail.

Dave has published a whole book of Gentle Bear cartoons, called Gentle Bear: Gentle Honey which you can buy in eBook form.

Unchained Melodies

DakhaBrakha: Baby

Animals as Leaders: Lippincott

AC/DC: Thunderstruck

Liam Bailey: Stun Me
Stun Me by Liam Bailey on Grooveshark
Alash Ensemble: Bashtak

Book Wisdom

This week’s Book Wisdom was stitched together from various passages in Vesna A. and B. Alan Wallace’s translation of Shantideva’s A Guide to the Bodhisattva Way of Life.

Episode 4: Food Kiosk, Men's Room Graffiti, Unchained Melodies, and the Brothers Karamazov

This week Dave and Steel are joined by their old friends Spencer and Jordan. Together, they discuss the best meals they’ve ever had, some graffiti Steel recently spotted in a men’s room, some of the best tunes they’ve heard recently, and Spencer shares some wisdom from Fyodor Dostoevsky.


Food Kiosk

The idea for this segment came from Stephen L. Peck‘s book A Short Stay in Hell, which Dave recently read and enjoyed. The premise for the story is partially based on Jorge Luis Borges’ famous short story “The Library of Babel

Aglio Olio e Peperoncino Recipe


Amounts are very approximate and not that important – you really should experiment a little, it’s a sign of culinary maturity and confidence — Spencer

  • Spaghetti pasta – 1 lb
  • Fresh garlic – 3 cloves
  • Extra virgin olive oil – 1/3-1/2 cup
  • Red pepper flakes – to taste
  • Parmesan cheese – to taste

Start water boiling in a pot. There should be enough water to completely submerge the spaghetti. Add a generous amount of salt to the water. When the water comes to a boil, add the pasta and cook until it has reached the desired consistency.

In the meantime, add the olive oil to a pan over low-medium heat. Crush the garlic and sauté with pepper flakes.

Combine the pasta and the oil/garlic/pepper flakes and toss. Serve with grated parmesan.

Men’s Room Graffiti

Check out the Men’s Room Graffiti Tumblr, where you can find a couple of images of the piece of graffiti which inspired our conversation.

Unchained Melodies

Timber Timbre: Demon Host

Shovels & Rope: Lay Low

Mikal Cronin: Made My Mind Up

Flume & Chet Faker: Drop the Game

Vulfpeck: Outro

Book Wisdom

Spencer shared a beautiful passage from Fyodor Dostoevsky’s The Brother’s Karamazov. The passage he read appears in Book II, Chapter IV of Constance Garnett’s translation.

Episode 3: Small Talk, Lost the Plot, Ask OTC, Unchained Melodies, and The Little Prince

In this episode of Off the Chain, we introduce a new segment called Small Talk, in which we offer you some advice for improving your conversation skills and give you some rich content for your next informal chat with friends (Is it safe to read on the toilet? Coke vs. Pepsi? What does Ayn Rand think of recent children’s movies?), play another version of our Lost the Plot game, in which Dave asks Steel to describe the plot of a bad action movie he’s never seen (this week it’s Lockout!), answer listener questions in another installment of Ask Off the Chain, share some of our favorite recent songs, and drop some book wisdom from French adventurer Antoine de Saint-Exupéry.


Small Talk

  • “Reading on the Loo” article in The Guardian
  • Why blind taste tests might be misleading & the Coke vs. Pepsi wars by Matthew Yglesias in Slate
  • Guide to open heart surgery from Healthline.
  • Ayn Rand reviews children’s movies by Mallory Ortberg in The New Yorker.

Lost the Plot

Unchained Melodies

Benjamin Booker: Violent Shiver

Pavement: Gold Soundz

Stephen Malkmus and the Jicks: No One Is (As I Are Be)

Foxygen: No Destruction

Book Wisdom

  • Taken from Chapter 21 of Antoine de Saint-Exupéry’s story Le Petit Prince [The Little Prince]

Episode 2: Castles & Coasters, Super Bowl Ads, Ask OTC, Unchained Melodies, and Beloved

In this episode of Off the Chain podcast, we discuss the Phoenix-based amusement park Castles and Coasters, talk about our favorite water slide rides, review the best and worst Super Bowl ads, answer listener questions in a new segment called ‘Ask Off the Chain,’ share some of our favorite recent music in ‘Unchained Melodies,’ and share some life-changing wisdom from Toni Morrison’s novel Beloved.


Castles & Coasters

The Sky Diver

Super Bowl Ads

Budweiser [Squeak E. Clean soundtrack]

Loctite Glue

Daddy [Dove Soap]

Grub Hub [Burrito abuse]

Like a Girl [Always Maxipads]

Skittles [Arm-wrestling]

Dodge Elders


Unchained Melodies

Little May: Boardwalks

Little May: Boardwalks [Karl K edit]
Gramatik: Just Jammin’

Gregory Alan Isakov: Amsterdam

Book Wisdom

Toni Morrison’s Beloved