Least Worst Podcast Ever

The WEE Studios Logo (No, they are not underwater)

 

The WEE Studios Logo (No, they are not underwater)

The WEE Studios Logo (No, they are not underwater)

Long time readers will know that I’ve written about podcasts before on a couple of occasions (and even attempted to host my own podcast for a little while, which, unfortunately, fell by the wayside), but today I want to focus on one in particular that is a bit different from some of the other podcasts I’ve talked about. Actually, that might be putting it mildly…

Most of the other podcasts I’ve mentioned before, such as This American Life and Get Up On This, are juggernauts in the podcasting world. This particular podcast does happen to be based on a juggernaut, namely The Simpsons, but is more like an indie production than a blockbuster.

Worst Episode Ever is a podcast “for people who love The Simpsons, by people who love The Simpsons, about how much [the hosts] hate The Simpsons.” Don’t take that the wrong way though, both Dan Mulhall and Jack Picone, the hosts, are diehard fans of The Simpsons. You’ll routinely hear them quote obscure jokes off the top of their head and Dan Mulhall himself even hosts a Simpsons trivia night at a bar in New York. The idea behind the podcast is to watch a “post-classic” episode (usually meaning something beyond season 8 or so) and then have an in-depth discussion about it before running it through their HIPPO grading system to place it in their list, the list being the ultimate goal of the podcast: to find the worst episode of The Simpsons ever.

So, I’m a diehard Simpsons fan too. Who knows how many times I’ve watched (and will continue to watch) episodes from season 2 to 8, and my friends have definitely heard me on a couple of occasions say “oh, this is like that moment in The Simpsons where…” However, before this podcast, I hadn’t watched the show in years, because, quite frankly, it’s a shell of its former self. I don’t think you can even compare the two anymore and I kind of hate the later seasons for being so bad, so, admittedly, there’s a bit of fun to be had hearing them tear into a particularly awful episode.

However, Worst Episode Ever, contrary to its name, isn’t actually a podcast of negativity. The hosts, along with any guests they might have that week, go into each episode trying to give it the benefit of the doubt. Better yet, their criticism isn’t limited to just saying something sucked. They actually try to understand why they disliked something, going to great lengths at times to discuss issues. Sometimes, they’ll posit a theory in one episode and then expand upon it in consecutive episodes. Jack Picone is himself a screenwriter, so he also tends to understand the inner mechanisms at work.

So far, so good, right? Well, it gets even better (though it might depend on who you ask…). Worst Episode Ever is ostensibly a podcast about The Simpsons, but it’s also a podcast filled with random characters and tangents that the hosts follow at their whim. A simple slip of the tongue with mispronouncing a word might lead to the creation of a cult-favorite character who appears throughout the rest of the show, examples include Groophic, Hemus, and Freet (more on them soon). Occasionally, Dan and Jack will even tell stories about their own childhoods or personal lives that are sometimes related to the episode they’re discussing and sometimes not so much… But they’re always hilarious.

The hosts, Jack Picone (left) and Dan Mulhall (right)

The hosts, Jack Picone (left) and Dan Mulhall (right)

This leads into one of the best things I can say about this podcast: Dan and Jack are relatable. They were just a couple of dudes living in New York who decided to create a podcast about The Simpsons and they’ve never lost that sense of being humble. They’re easy to reach on Twitter or Reddit, if you want to say something to them, and they’re also genuinely fond of  their fans.

If you’re interested in checking them out, and I highly recommend you do, you can find their podcast through any regular podcasting app as well as through weepodcast.com. They’ve also recently started a Patreon page so you can help support them with a monthly donation. Finally, if you have no interest in the Simpsons (and have still made it this far), they also have a 90s themed podcast called 90s Percentile that’s had a lot of great guests on it, including Laura Jane Grace, a previous subject in one of my own articles.

Jack and Dan just recently released their 100th episode of Worst Episode Ever (congrats, guys!) and a lot has happened during those 100 episodes: episodes have been ranked; theories have been made; trends have been observed; and characters have been created. As a starter’s guide for all of you, I’ve created a brief glossary of some of the more important terms you’ll need if you decide to hop in from where they are now (though I suggest going back and listening from the start).

Worst Episode Ever Glossary for Newbies

  • Groophic: Originated from a mispronunciation of “graphic,” Groophic started off as a Muzzy-like creature lecturing kids on remembering to wear their bike helmets before transitioning into a conspiracy-theory believing creature who still occasionally lectures kids on remembering to wear their bike helmets.
  • Hemus: A hillbilly prospector who started life by ending every sentence with “It’s me, Hemus!” Sadly, he doesn’t do that as much anymore… But is a cult favorite nevertheless.
  • Freet: The introduction of Freet was something that Jack was definitely not amused by and it also gave-way to their new rule of each character needing to have three characteristics in order to be a fully-fleshed out character. Here are Freet’s: he likes to collect stamps; he’s never been in love, but he’s putting himself out there; and he enjoys cryptograms.
  • Lala: A term for lawyers that only lawyers are allowed to use. Dan himself is a lawyer, but Jack uses the term sometimes, much to Dan’s chagrin.
  • Little Ghost Girl: A little ghost girl who was eaten by Groophic and sounds like Werner Herzog.
  • The Bus Stop: Where all of their characters hang out. As they wait for the bus to get home, they’ll occasionally pop in and join the podcast for a bit. The bus never seems to arrive so that stop is pretty crowded by now.
  • HIPPO: The official ranking system. It has four categories, which are humor, integrity, production, and originality. Each gets a grade from 0 to 5 though humor and integrity are given more weight than production and originality. In the very early days of the podcast, the hosts used to simply add each episode to their list based on their gut feeling, but about 15 episodes in, they started using this system.

Podcast: Intercultural Happy Hour Episode 3

ICH Logo

Once again, it’s time for a brand spanking new episode of the Intercultural Happy Hour! However, before we get to the podcast itself, I have some exciting news! In addition to continuing to appear on this wonderful website, this podcast is now also available on both iTunes and Stitcher! What this means is that you can now download this podcast straight to your phone and enjoy it on the go! It also means that you can subscribe to the podcast and get every new episode as soon as they are released! How? Well, it’s quite simple actually! If you’ve got an iPhone, you can just go to the Podcast app and search for “Intercultural Happy Hour”. Once you find it, just hit subscribe and you’re all set! In addition, you could also get the free Stitcher app and subscribe to the podcast through that. Stitcher is available on both iOS and Android platforms making it possible for even more of you to get easier access to the podcast. If anyone has any other app platforms that they’d like to see the podcast appear on, please drop me a line about them and I promise I’ll look into it. You can contact me either through twitter @jespersimola or then via email at interculturalhappyhour@gmail.com. One more request: I’d really appreciate it if you could please take the time to rate and review the podcast on iTunes or Stitcher because they have some super fancy algorithms that make the podcast more visible as it receives more reviews and ratings. I’m also genuinely interested in hearing your feedback about the show. I’m continuing to learn more as I go but any and all feedback by you would be greatly appreciated! Thanks a bunch! I also need to give a quick shout out to libsyn.com for providing me with the means to finally get my podcast out to iTunes and Stitcher.

Now, on to the podcast! My guest this week is a very good friend of mine by the name of Laura Kurki who writes for all kinds of different sources around the internet including this very website that you’re staring at right now! With Laura, we talk about learning English through unorthodox means and about visiting Indonesia while also getting into various horrible teachers that she’s had the displeasure of experiencing. Come for the insight and stay for the mindboggling stories about inept teachers! I think I’m allowed to make fun of teachers because I’ve been training to become one myself. It’s in the Code of Teachers.

Just one more note here at the end: BTSB will be going on summer hiatus after this issue. However, the podcast will continue to come out each month. What this means is that the summer episodes of the podcast will only be available through iTunes and Stitcher so please subscribe today if you’d like to continue receiving your monthly dose of interculturality! You can also follow me on twitter to receive the latest updates regarding the podcast appearing on other platforms. Once BTSB resumes after the summer, the podcast will once again start appearing here on its home turf.

Thank you all for taking the time to listen to this podcast of mine! As someone who has been an avid listener of podcasts for quite a few years now, it’s been a real kick working on my own podcast and I’m incredibly excited to see how this adventure will continue to evolve.

Have a great summer and enjoy the latest podcast with Laura Kurki!

Song Credits:

The Beatles – Eleanor Rigby

Nelly Furtado – Turn Off the Light

The Beatles – She Said, She Said

Podcast: Intercultural Happy Hour Episode 2

IHH2

Hello again, dear readers of BTSB!

I’m incredibly proud to present the second episode of the Intercultural Happy Hour (With Jesper and Friends) podcast! Once again, we’ll be delving into ideas about identities, interculturality, and anything else beginning with the letter “I”! OK, maybe that’s not true… What is true, however, is that my guest for this second episode is none other than Esko Suoranta or, as I like to call him (from this point onward), Esko Extraordinaire! Despite not having spent much time actually living abroad, Esko has a lot of insightful things to say about identity and interculturality. I’m sure you’ll agree with me after listening to our conversation. In addition, he brings with him a pop culture item that I must say was pretty unexpected and brings with it a story that kind of blew my mind. It’s definitely worth listening to that segment! I do apologize for some of the slight technical difficulties with this podcast. Namely, Esko’s voice is a bit quieter than mine which is unfortunate for the podcast (but great for my ego!). Not to worry though! It’s still clearly audible and I promise I’ll pay better attention to this in the future. You podcast, you learn!

Just a couple of housekeeping notes to add. First of all, I’d like to sincerely thank everyone that listened to the first episode of the podcast and I’d also like to thank those who took the time to give me feedback in one way or another. You all have my utmost gratitude for that! I did receive some feedback about the length and I do understand that having to be by your computer for an hour listening to this might be a bit difficult. As of this time, I don’t want to actually shorten the length of the podcast. However, I do plan on looking into other ways of experiencing the podcast in the near future. Among other things, I’m dead set on getting this podcast onto iTunes so that people will be able to subscribe to it and get it directly onto their iPhones or iPods! I’ll also make sure to look into other forms of subscription for those with Android phones or something else entirely. In any case, soon you’ll be able to subscribe to and download the podcast making it that much easier to listen to it as you’re on the move. Exciting times ahead!

Once again, thank you all so much for listening and thank you for making “podcaster” part of my identity.

Enjoy the show.

 

Song credits:

Judas Priest – Leather Rebel

Pink Floyd – Brain Damage

The Handsome Family – Far From Any Road

Podcast: Intercultural Happy Hour

Dear readers of BTSB,

I’m incredibly proud to bring you the very first episode of my own podcast, The Intercultural Happy Hour with Jesper and Friends. This podcast will delve into ideas about culture, interculturality, and identity, and it comes from a very personal place for me. As of late, I’ve become more aware of certain issues with how we view culture and identity, especially in terms of how they are often seen as solid constructs. As this world becomes an increasingly global place, we are becoming more connected with each other and this means that issues of how to address culture and identity are becoming more relevant. There is no simple answer to how to deal with these ideas but this podcast aims to explore them as much as possible. Each episode, I’ll have a new guest on the show to explore these issues through their own personal experiences. For this first episode, I have my very good friend and fellow BTSB editor Ari Mäntykivi joining me.

As I said, this is the first episode of my first podcast. It’s a podcast whose own identity is still not locked in place so there may be a rough spot or two but I hope you will find something to latch on. I truly believe that there is great potential with this podcast and I warmly thank Ari for helping me start this journey.

This podcast is an experiment in dealing with certain frustrations while finding humor in other situations. Most of all, this podcast is about trying to understand our own identities better or, at the very least, it’s about coming to terms with how impossible that can be.

Without further ado, here’s the first podcast.

Thanks for listening,

Jesper Simola

IHH2

Song credits:

Secret Chiefs 3 – The 3

Django Django – Waveforms

Michael Jackson – Black or White

Expand Your Mind (And Impress Your Friends)

“Jesper Simola, are you ready?” “Yes!”

Long time readers of BTSB (along with my friends, I’d think) may be aware of my fondness for podcasts. Not a day goes by that I don’t listen to a podcast at one point or the other, and if my headphones were to break (as they did a few weeks ago) I’d find myself perplexed at the lack of voices in my head. Point being, I love podcasts.

At the beginning of this long past summer, I found a new podcast that I became obsessed with almost immediately. It’s hosted by Jensen Karp, a former rapper and current owner of Gallery 1988 in Los Angeles, alongside his co-host Matt Robinson, director of The Invention of Lying, and it’s a podcast that immediately tickled my funny bone with its rather perverse sense of humor and very natural rapport between Karp and Robinson. The two have been friends for a very long time which comes across really strongly on the podcast. Too many times have I had to cover my mouth while listening to this in public in order to hide a smile or suppress a laugh that might come across as just a tad bit strange to the other people around me. However, the main reason I’m writing about this podcast is because it’s a gateway to some of the more exciting media-based experiences that I’ve had the pleasure to go through as of late.

© Get Up On This podcast

© Get Up On This podcast

The show is called “Get Up On This” and essentially does exactly what the title says. Each week, the hosts, alongside a guest, bring up several things that are relatively unknown but that more people should be aware of whether it be movies, music, comics, video games, apps, or even random experiences. For me, the podcast has become a treasure trove of awesome new stuff that I can pretend to be an expert on in order to impress my friends. Which is exactly what I plan to try and do with you, our dear readers of BTSB! In this article, I’m going to bring up some of my favorite examples of things I’ve become aware of through the podcast in order to not only share these wonderful experiences with you but also to give a shout-out to the podcast itself. I’ve decided to go with one pick per category (though, yeah, I’ve maybe cheated a little). And so, without further ado…

Film: Dogtooth.

Dogtooth is a Greek film released in 2009 that was nominated for the Best Foreign Language Film award at the 83rd Academy Awards. The last time a Greek film was nominated was in 1977 so this was kind of a big deal and deservedly so.

I’d rather not say too much about the film so as not to spoil all of the disturbing yet often darkly humorous surprises that it contains. Essentially, the film is about a Greek family of five that lives in a compound surrounded by walls. The children have never actually experienced the outside world for themselves because the father is the only one that’s allowed to leave their home. What this means is that any and all knowledge they have about life on the outside comes from what their parents tell them. Everything they know is very strictly controlled by their parents which leads to a thought-provoking analysis of how much our education influences us. It also leads to interesting reflection on language and meaning. For example, the children think that a “zombie” is a yellow flower. Who is to say that this is wrong? That’s just a very small, rather insignificant example but I’d rather not spoil some of the other “truths” that the children have been told.

I don’t want to really say much else about the film and I urge you not to watch any trailers or anything. Just watch the film knowing as little as possible about it and revel in its bizarre tone that is at once humorous and disturbing. This is a film that does not shy away.

Documentary: The Imposter

In 1994, a 13 year old boy named Nicholas Barclay disappeared from his home in Texas without a trace. Three years later, a man named Frédéric Bourdin claimed to be Nicholas Barclay, managing to convince even the Barclay family themselves that he really was their long-lost Nicholas. The Imposter is a 2012 documentary film that tells this unbelievable yet completely true story. To say anymore about the story would be to ruin the unpredictable and spell-binding events of the movie.

The Imposter is riveting not just because of the story it tells but also because of the way it is told. Interviews with the main participants are interjected with life-action reenacted sequences that help bring the story to life in front of your eyes. The reenacted sequences are able to sidestep that pitfall of being melodramatic or silly, but the most memorable moments are still often the scenes where all you see are the people looking into the camera and telling their story. It’s absolutely riveting to look at the expression on Bourdin’s face as he recounts exactly how he managed to apparently fool an entire family that he was their son.

What else can I say except that the end of this film gave me chills.

Graphic Novel: My Friend Dahmer

Dahmer

Cover of My Friend Dahmer

My Friend Dahmer is a graphic novel by Derf Backderf who went to high school with the infamous American serial killer Jeff Dahmer. On the surface, the novel consists of true stories about Jeff Dahmer as a teenager in high school, many of which are direct memories from the writer while others are based on interviews he later did with other people. The stories themselves are uncomfortably fascinating, disturbing, and humorous in a way that only reality can be. However, the novel is far more than a superficial and exploitative glimpse into the life of a notorious serial killer. Beneath the anecdotes, it’s about what it was like to be a teenager living in the 1970s, in that awkward phase after the conservative 50s and the revolutionary 60s. It’s about feeling alienated and alone in a small, seemingly peaceful American town. It’s about the destructive grasp of bitter loneliness that comes with having an overload of issues with nobody to turn to for help or even understanding.

My Friend Dahmer isn’t about glorifying Dahmer nor is it about creating empathy for him. It’s simply a tragic tale that reflects on how easy it is to get lost in this world. For me, his eventual actions will always be horrific and I don’t think I can ever even fully understand what kind of a person he was. However, the power of the novel is that I found myself relating to bits and pieces of Dahmer’s experience, hinting at the universality of many of the themes within the novel, while simultaneously finding myself feeling very distant from him. It’s heartbreaking but I can’t recommend this graphic novel enough.

Song: Royals by Lorde

This is a lot more upbeat than the previous choices, I promise. When I first heard this song, I think it was still pretty unknown. From what I’ve gathered, it’s since caught on in the States so it might be familiar to some of you but I’ve yet to hear any mention of it in Finland.

Lorde is a singer-songwriter from New Zealand that makes me feel just a little bit self-conscious about my own achievements. She writes her own songs and has a beautiful voice with a hint of roughness that makes her stand out from a lot of the other overly-polished pop artists. She’s also only 16 years old. Hence my self-consciousness. However, she speaks like someone beyond her years with lyrics that are actually pretty poetic, if I may so myself (as an English major). The catchy beat helps, of course, and the stripped down nature of the song lets her voice shine through.

I don’t know a lot about critiquing music. I just know what I like and this is something I was immediately addicted to.

Here’s a link to the video: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LFasFq4GJYM

So, yeah.

Again, these are just a few examples of the kinds of new experiences I’ve been exposed to lately. There were so many other examples that I loved and really wanted to share but now is no longer the time nor the place. Instead, if you want to get a lot more awesome new things to impress your friends with, give “Get Up On This” a shot. Those guys are awesome and I’m almost positive that it’s been scientifically proven that you can become more awesome by listening them.

Feel free to hit us up in the comments if you’d never heard of these before. Feel free to also rub it in my face if you’d already heard about all of these years ago while they were just inklings in the brains of these talented people.

Get Up On This: http://smodcast.com/channels/get-up-on-this/

Special bonus link! On Derf Backderf’s website, there’s something of a rough draft for some of his My Friend Dahmer graphic novel. You can check it out here if you want a glimpse of what the full novel is like: http://www.derfcity.com/comix/jd/jd1.html