Episode 77: The Last One

We’ve got some bittersweet news. The sweet part: Spencer and Jordan rejoined us for another terrific episode. The bitter part: it’s our last ever Off the Chain. This week, our old friends and frequent guests Spencer and Jordan come back for one last ride, in which we give some pro-level small talk advice (including, for the first time ever, a list of topics to avoid), do a segment of Lost the Plot with the classic rom-com Death Race 2050, answer questions from our beloved listeners, and play conclusion worthy music by Beck, Blue, The Beatles, Tom Brosseau, and Wiz Khalifa and Charlie Puth.

Our deepest thanks for following us over the past few years, everyone. We’ll be back soon with a new podcast, which we’re planning to call Theme Song.

Links

Small Talk

Topics to Avoid

  • ‘My kid has lice’
  • ‘So, it turns out it wasn’t a mole it was a tick’
  • ‘So, let me guess that person’s ethnicity or country of origin’
  • ‘How do you feel about your mother?’
  • ‘Make America great again’
  • ‘Your teenage daughter is very attractive’

Topics to Address

Unchained Melodies — Songs about things coming to an end

Book Wisdom

And in the end, the love you take is equal to the love you make.

–James P. McCartney

Featured image: Dave and Spencer in the Santa Cruz Mountains earlier this summer.

Episode 76: Physics Hair

This week Dave and Steel are joined by Dave’s physicist friend Jason. Together the three of them discuss proton therapy, Jason’s top three physicists of all time, describe the new “Physics Hair” calendar they’re working on, answer Dave’s questions about fringe physics concepts, give parenting tips, play science-themed music from The Flaming Lips, Elton John, They Might Be Giants, Modest Mouse, Coldplay, and William Onyeabor, and share a classic story from Steven Hawking’s A Brief History of Time.

Links

Great Physics Hair Gallery

 

Episode 75: Ken, Yakov, and an Ornamental Hermit Walk Into a Bar …

Cartoon by Sigrid Peterson

This week Dave and Steel are joined by Steel’s friend Sigrid. Together the three of them discuss transportation options for families with tons of kids, Dave and Sig’s shared loved of drawing and illustration, play a few rounds of Indie Band Name Balderdash, present another edition of Small Talk, share great nighttime driving music by De La Soul, Lisa Hannigan, The War on Drugs, Phil Collins, R.L. Burnside, and Phosphorescent, and drop some book wisdom from the late, great David Rakoff.

Links

Small Talk

Unchained Melodies: Music for a Long Drive at Night

Book Wisdom

Sig shared a passage from David Rakoff’s novel (in verse!) Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish .

Featured image by Sigrid Peterson

Episode 74: Lawyer Up

This week Dave and Steel by Dave’s high-rent lawyer friend Grayson. Together the three of them discuss quick favorites from this year’s NBA playoffs, do a special legal-themed edition of Ask OTC, rank the on/off chainness of various categories of things, play angsty music from Bleached, Fugazi, The Misfits, The Hotelier, PJ Harvey, and Teenage Bottlerocket, and share some immortal book wisdom from JD Salinger’s much beloved Holden Caulfield.

Links

Unchained Melodies: Angsty Edition

Book Wisdom

This week Dave shared a brief passage from J.D. Salinger’s classic coming-of-age novel The Catcher in the Rye.

Episode 73: Mark Davis’ “Rube Do”

Mark Davis

This week Dave and Steel were joined by Jack Bangerter to talk about the best haircuts and best names of the year, share spring musical memories from 2007 and 1997 by Okkervil River, Dan Le Sac vs. Scroobius Pip, Rihanna, Wyclef Jean, Ben Folds Five, and Soul Coughing, and share a moving springtime poem by William Carlos Williams.

Links

Name of the Year

Unchained Melodies: Embarrassing Spring Jams from 2007 and 1997

Book Wisdom

Steel read the first section from William Carlos Williams’ 1923 book Spring & All.

Episode 72: Market This!

Stadium Pal

This week Dave and Steel are joined by their old friend and marketing professional Alan Stoffer, who fills us in on top-level marketing strategies, what it’s like to live in Silicon Valley, the joys of having your garage rented out to a guy named Darrell for $1000/mo, and why he’s so relieved not to have to talk about sports at the office anymore. We also do another segment of Lost the Plot (this time it’s a romantic comedy!!!), share great music to train to by The Who, Flo Rida, Cold War Kids, The Japandroids, The Very Best, and J Roddy Walston and the Business, and drop some book wisdom from a western novel by John Williams.

Links

Unchained Melodies: Workout Edition

Book Wisdom

This week Dave shared a passage from John Williams’ 1960 western Butcher’s Crossing.

Episode 71: We’re Baaaack!

It took Steel three weeks to get this episode edited (which explains all the Valentine’s Day references in early March) but we’re back! This week Dave and Steel make a new induction to the OTC Hall of Fame (congratulations public libraries!), give you some new topics to discuss in another installment of Small Talk, praise two everyday heroes, shared six great songs from Esmé Patterson, Graham Parker & the Rumour, Saintseneca, Hamilton Leithauser & Rostam, Dr. Dog, and Keaton Henson, and drop some book wisdom by the satirical French novelist David Foenikos.

Links

Off the Chain Hall of Fame

 

OTC Hall of Fame

This week we’re inducting the public library into our Off the Chain Hall of Fame! The greatest idea in the history of Western civilization? The last bastion of pure idealism in the United States? Yes and yes. We think you’re great, public libraries. Thanks for everything!

Small Talk

Everyday Heroes

  • Bike Batman, this otherwise pretty boring normcore guy in Seattle who confronts bike thieves and returns the bikes to their rightful owners [Steel].
  • Scott Mills, the man who stood inside the U-Haul truck while we emptied my house and somehow found a way to fit all of my family’s possessions inside this truck [Dave].

Unchained Melodies: Songs for each other

Book Wisdom

Steel read a passage from David Foenikos’ hilarious satirical novel The Erotic Potential of My Wife [thanks to Ewa Miernowska for the recommendation!].

Featured image by Jan David Hanrath

Episode 68: 2016 in Review, part 1

This year we’re trying something new (and awesome). We asked six of our friends to join us for a recap of the year that was, with each of them covering a subject that they’re an expert in. We’ll be bringing you our 2016 in review in two episodes (this week and next), but this week we were lucky to be joined by Rosie (the social issues that defined 2016: populism, political rhetoric, violence, and environmentalism); Jordan (the year in music, featuring songs from Mick Jenkins + BadBadNotGood, Camp Cope, Mitski, Big Thief, Pinegrove, and Snarky Puppy); and Rose (the year in books & reading).

Links

Social Issues

Political Rhetoric

Michelle Obama’s speech at the 2016 DNC

Theresa May setting out a vision of Conservative leadership as socially responsible and humane (gasp!)

Violence

Subscribe to journalist Torie Rose DeGhett‘s “This Week in War” newsletter for weekly updates about violent conflict around the world.

Unchained Melodies: Favorite Songs and Albums of 2016

Book Recommendations

Our Top Children’s Books of the Year

Steel’s Poetry Tips

Finally, Rose has been writing a young adult fantasy book, Lesser Demons. Check it out on her site and share your feedback!

Featured image: Basil Bunting, from the cover of The Poems of Basil Bunting.

Episode 67: Our 2016 Guide to Christmas

Ho! Ho! Ho! This week on Off the Chain Dave and Steel are joined by their old friend Jordan to discuss all things Christmas. The three of them share Christmas memories, cover their gift giving guide (with lots of help from Oprah), give a quick run down of the best/worst Christmas movies ever made, share great Holiday music from the Jenson Family, Neil Diamond, Eef Barzelay, and the Jackson 5, and drop some Seussian book wisdom.

Links

Gift Giving Guide

Christmas Movies Appraised [by Jordan, mostly]

BEST

  • Die Hard
  • Home Alone
  • A Christmas Story
  • The Original Grinch [animated]
  • White Christmas
  • Jingle All the Way
  • Elf
  • Rare Exports (Finnish movie)
  • Saint Nick (Sint)
  • Scrooged
  • Nightmare Before Christmas
  • Muppet Christmas Carol
  • Joyeux Noel (WWII Christmas)
  • Rocky IV (Rocky fights Drago on Christmas day)

WORST

  • It’s a Wonderful Life
  • Jingle All the Way
  • Silent Night, Deadly Night
  • Santa Claus Conquers the Martians
  • Gremlins
  • The Home Alone sequels
  • Jack Frost
  • Fred Claus (Vince Vaughn is Santa’s older, loser brother, Fred)

DISPUTED [BEST & WORST]

  • Hook
  • Jingle All the Way

OTC Festivities & Feasts

Recommended Eats & Drinks

  • Darigold Eggnog. It’s the best there is. Available in both original and old-fashioned varieties. [Dave]
  • North African Christmas! Don’t eat the same old doldrums. Try making and enjoying something from North African this year, like this spiced pie dish. [Steel]
  • Turon
    Turon

    “We always eat food white people don’t eat or even know what it is. Things like lumpia, pancit, ginataan, polvo, puto, pan de sal, leche flan, sinigang, champurrado, etc. Oh and turon! Oh my gosh turon. You guys would like turon. It’s a big chunk of plantain wrapped in a flaky pastry, coated with sugar syrup and then fried in butter. It’s so sticky and gooey sweet delicious. So good! Reminds me of Christmas! Also ube cake, white rabbits, chocnut.” [Jordan]

Unchained Melodies

Book Wisdom

Dave shared the final lines of Dr. Seuss’s immortal “How the Grinch Stole Christmas!

Episode 65: The Art of Photography

This week Dave and Steel are joined by Steel’s sister-in-law Jennie Bastian, an artist and professional photographer. Together they talk household pets (cats. vs. dogs), take questions from listeners throughout the great state of Illinois, ask Jennie a bunch of questions about her upcoming show on Fear and her photography practice generally, share great music from Mulato Astatke, Gasper Nali, American Wrestlers, Smog, Tim Maia, and Camp Cope, and Jennie shares some dreamy book wisdom from Gaston Bachelard.

Links

Unchained Melodies

Book Wisdom

Jennie shared a brief passage from Gaston Bachelard’s 1958 classic The Poetics of Space, which examines the phenomenology of architecture in beautiful and moving ways.

Featured image: Jennifer Bastian