Episode 64: The Party! Party! Party! party

This week Dave and Steel are joined by Spencer to discuss the latest in Vin Diesel news, their favorite fringe presidential candidates, historical also-rans, and fringe political parties, revive Lost the Plot, share outsider classics from Daniel Johnston, Dan Reeder, The Toadies, They Might Be Giants, Congress-Woman Malinda Jackson Parker, and Leonard Cohen, and hear the calming anti-road book wisdom of the Honku.


Perpetual Candidates and Favorite Third Parties

Unchained Melodies: Outsider Music

Book Wisdom

This week Spencer enlightened us with “Honkus,” anti road-rage haiku poems by Aaron Naparstek.

Episode 45: Everybody's A Critic

This week Dave and Steel are joined by Steel’s old friend Aaron Peck, a real-life professional film critic. Together the three of them recap their holiday adventures with children, talk with Aaron about his expertise in running, reading, and reviewing films (Aaron shares his perspective on the best films of 2015), play great movie soundtrack music from The National, Van Morrison, Bill Conti, R. Kelly, The Who and Radiohead, and Aaron shares some book wisdom from Roger Ebert’s memoir Life Itself.


Expert Testimony: Aaron Peck


Aaron’s Best Books of 2015:


Film recommendations
Aaron’s Best Films of 2015:

All the new releases Aaron saw in 2015, ranked (1-120!).

Upstream Color (Shane Carruth, 2013) [for Steel]

Snowpiercer (Bong Joon-Ho, 2013) [for Steel]

The Raid (Gareth Evans, 2011) [for Dave]

The Tree of Life (Terrence Malick, 2011) [for Dave]

Lost the Plot

Daylight (1996)

Unchained Melodies: Classic Tracks from Film Soundtracks

Book Wisdom

This week’s book wisdom came from legendary film critic’s Roger Ebert’s memoir Life Itself.


Featured image by blondinrikard

Episode 34: A Mighty Wind

This week Dave and Steel are joined by Dave’s old neighbor Zac, an accomplished pianist (you probably know him from his work with world-renowned Neil Diamond cover band Diamond in the Rough or his life-changing guest session with George Clinton and the P-Funk All Stars at a Barack Obama inauguration with the Congressional Black Congress in a DC hotel) and holder of a five-year chip for meritorious bus driving in the Mesa Unified School District. He’s a big deal, obviously! In addition to Zac’s “expert testimony,” in which he explains the cultural value of jazz to the philistinic hosts, and gives some tips for avoiding disciplinary hearings as a high school bus driver, the trio share the latest in Vin Diesel developments, some great music featuring wind instruments from Beirut, Bela Fleck and the Flecktones, the Beastie Boys, Radiohead, Vulfpeck, and Tjupurru, and Dave drops some great vehicle related wisdom from Flannery O’Connor’s novel Wise Blood.


Vin Diesel: Running on Gas

  • Vin’s a must-follow on Instagram
  • The Last Witch Hunter is less than one month away.
  • Although the search for a director for Fast & Furious 8 continues, Vin promises a closing trilogy for the series.

Unchained Melodies

Songs with wind instruments

Book Wisdom

This week’s passage was chosen by Dave and comes from Flannery O’Connor’s first novel Wise Blood.
Featured image for the post by Tom Marcello

Episode 32: Back to School, Expert Testimony: Ed Tech and Uvula Facts Edition, OTC Disaster Movies, Unchained Melodies: Back to School Edition, and Two Poems

This week Dave and Steel are joined once again by their friend Josh. They share back to school memories (lots of bus ride reminiscing), ask Josh about his loved of technology, pedagogy, video games and uvulas, and then Dave and Steel share some great music from Pulp, The Korgis, Modest Mouse, Blackalicious, Bombadil, and Camera Obscura, before Steel ends the episode by dropping some anti-teacher book wisdom from Roger Waters and Philip Levine.


Expert Testimony

Israeli researchers explain the purpose of our uvula.

Unchained Melodies: Back to School Edition

Book Wisdom

This week Steel read the opening lines from the immortal Roger Waters’ poem “Another Brick in the Wall (Part 2)” and Philip Levine’s “M. Degas Teaches Art and Science at Durfee Intermediate School, Detroit 1942“.

Photo by Internet Archive Book Images

Episode 23: NBA Draft Fashion, Jurassic World, Lost the Plot: Escape Plan, Overlooked Biblical Names, OTC Hall of Fame, Unchained Melodies, and The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro

This week Dave and Steel discuss highlights in NBA draft fashion, Dave’s opinion of the film Jurassic World, play another version of Lost the Plot with the Stallone/Schwarzenegger film Escape Plan, share some unjustly forgotten Biblical baby names, induct the newest member of the Off the Chain Hall of Fame, share some great America-inspired music from John Wayne, Ray Charles, Neil Diamond, John Mellencamp, Bruce Springsteen, Brother Ali, and James Brown, and drop some moving wisdom from a famous July 4th speech by Frederick Douglass.


NBA Draft Fashion

Lost the Plot: Escape Plan

Biblical Baby Names

Recent trends in baby Bible names.

OTC: Hall of Fame

Dave inducted The Gummi Bear, and not Haribo founder Hans Riegel.

Unchained Melodies

John Wayne — Why I Love Her

Ray Charles — America, the Beautiful

Neil Diamond — America

John Mellencamp — Pink Houses

Bruce Springsteen — Born in the U.S.A.

Brother Ali — Uncle Sam Goddam

James Brown — Living in America

Book Wisdom

This week’s passage of Book Wisdom came from Frederick Douglass’s 1852 speech “The Meaning of July Fourth for the Negro

Episode 15: Over the Top: Top 5 Action Stars, Comic Book Battles, Unchained Melodies, and The Humane Imagination

This week Steel was out, so Dave was joined by his old friend Jordan. Together the pair discuss the top 5 action heroes working today, speculate on what would happen if various fictional characters from comic books and movies were to face off in battle, share great music from CHON, The Tallest Man on Earth, Bill Evans, and Three Dog Night, and drop some wisdom on imagination and the good society from Charles L. Black’s book The Humane Imagination.


Over the Top

Unchained Melodies

CHON’s live sxsw set

The Tallest Man on Earth — Sagres

Bill Evans — My Foolish Heart

Three Dog Night — Mama Told Me Not to Come

Book Wisdom

This week Jordan read a passage from Charles L. Black‘s The Humane Imagination

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 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 1: Planet Hulk, Non-Stop, & Damien Jurado

The Hulk

In the first episode of our Off the Chain podcast, we discuss the meaning of ‘Off the Chain,’ the Planet Hulk storyline from Marvel’s The Incredible Hulk series, the Liam Neeson film Non-Stop, and the music of Damien Jurado.

We’re also including a Damien Jurado sampler playlist with some of Steel’s favorite songs, in case you want a taste of his music. The Spotify playlist features music from most of his albums, presented in rough chronological order. You can listen to that below: