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.


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 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.


Unchained Melodies: Workout Edition

Book Wisdom

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

Episode 50: Our Golden Anniversary

This week Dave and Steel celebrate recording their 50th episode of Off The Chain (our golden anniversary!) by running through several listener questions, playing another round of Lost the Plot, sharing some all-time great contributions to small talk, playing timeless music by The Beatles, Otis Redding, The Refreshments, and Quasi, and sharing some book wisdom from John Steinbeck. This one’s a classic.


A look back on the first 50 episodes

Guest Totals

    • 9 episodes: No guest [eps. 44, 43, 23, 11, 10, 9, 3, 2, 1]
    • 7 episodes: Spencer! [48, 47, 39, 21, 13, 12, 4]
    • 6 episodes: Jordan (if we count #49) [38, 33, 15, 5, 4]
    • 3 episodes: two-way tie: Howard [41, 28, 27] & Katie [26, 25, 14]
    • 2 episodes: seven people: Aaron Peck [46, 45], Matt Brown [37, 36], Zac Beus [35, 34], Josh Harder [32, 31], Julia Dauer [30, 29], Rosie [40, 17], Ryan [7, 6]
    • 1 episode: ten people: Dan Jennejohn [42], Jarom Sidwell [41], Eric Vivier [24] Rose & Emeline [22 — No DAVE!], Jon Stoffer [20], Alan Stoffer [19], Oliver Bendorf [16], Arianne [brief cameo in Ep 18], Amy (Scott) Anderson [8]
    • EPISODES WITH GUESTS: 40 of 50!
    • TOTAL NUMBER OF UNIQUE GUESTS: 21 [7 women in 10 episodes, 14 men in 30 episodes]

Most visited episodes

  1. Ep. 01 [1565 hits]
  2. Ep. 21 [1260 hits]
  3. Ep. 33 [605 hits]
  4. Ep. 31 [566 hits]
  5. Ep. 23 [462 hits]
  6. Ep. 03 [439 hits]
  7. Ep. 10 [406 hits]
  8. Ep. 17 [397 hits]
  9. Ep. 08 [371 hits]
  10. Ep. 13 [359 hits

Unchained Melodies Data

231 Songs in the Spotify Master playlist by 200ish bands.

Most Common Letter Names for Bands We’ve Played:

B: 34
S: 19
M, C: 16
D: 15
A, R: 13
L, P: 12

Least Common Letter Names for Bands We’ve Played:

I, X, Y, Z: 0
Q, U: 1
E, O: 2

Small Talk

  • The Penuma, a silicon Penis Implant, is real. James Elist, an LA surgeon, is the only person approved to use it by the FDA and has inserted it in about 1300 men.
  • NBA 2K is being sued for copyright infringement due to tattoo reproduction.

Unchained Melodies

Book Wisdom

This week Dave read a passage from John Steinbeck’s Dust Bowl classic The Grapes of Wrath.

Featured image by takomabibelot

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 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 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 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 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: