Why the Flood of Musician Memoirs? An Exploration by Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast #84

There’s been an explosion of rock and roll autobiographies in recent years, with pretty much every music legend (and many others) being invited by some publisher or other to write or dictate their story. What’s the particular appeal of this kind of recounting, what’s the connection between writing and reading these books on the one hand and producing and listening to the actual music on the other? Do we get a roughly equivalent benefit from a biography, documentary, or film depiction of the person’s life?

Your hosts Mark Linsenmayer, Erica Spyres, and Brian Hirt along with guest Laura Davis-Chanin, author of her own music memoir, each picked a book, covering Elvis Costello, Carrie Brownstein, Ozzy Osbourne, and Debbie Harry respectively. Reflecting on these reading experiences we compare the author’s purposes in writing the book, how confessional or drug-addled or twisted the story is, what is emphasized and what’s not, and what resonated in the story beyond the idiosyncratic recounting of that person’s life.

Check out Laura’s two books, hear her talk about her musical adventures on Nakedly Examined Music, and hear her discuss classic literature on Phi Fic.

Some of the NEM episodes where Mark talked with guests about their auto-biographies featured Chris Frantz of Talking Heads, Jim Peterik of Survivor, Andy Powell of Wishbone Ash, Danny Seraphine of Chicago and John Andrew Fredrick of The Black Watch.

We didn’t use much research for this episode, but you can read lists of particularly good music memoirs from Rolling Stone and The Guardian. The Oakland Press has an article about music biographies and autobiographies emerging at the end of 2020.

Hear more of this podcast at prettymuchpop.com. This episode includes bonus discussion that you can access by supporting the podcast at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network.

Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast is the first podcast curated by Open Culture. Browse all Pretty Much Pop posts.

Increasing Disabled/Other-Abled Representation in Media — Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast #83

At least 20% of us have some sort of disability, yet such conditions are reflected by only tiny portion of TV and film characterizations, and what characters are portrayed typically get played by non-disabled actors. Depictions often focus on what it’s like to live with the condition. This can of course be socially beneficial, but we don’t want to essentialize people as their conditions, so it’s even more useful to feature disabled actors and characters when the plot is not about their disability.

Pretty Much Pop hosts Mark Linsenmayer, Erica Spyres, and Brian Hirt are joined by playwright Kayla Dryesse to talk about hurdles to representation, disability culture, whether “disability” is even the right word, negative stereotypes (no less than five James Bond villains are in wheelchairs!), and issues in portraying disability related to theater, comedy, horror, and superheroes. Some shows mentioned include Speechless, Atypical, Everything’s Gonna Be Okay, Breaking Bad, Glee, The Stand, The Witches, and The Great British Bake-Off.

Learn more from these articles:

Also, watch Stella Young’s TED talk, called “I’m Not Your Inspiration, Thank You Very Much;” the episode of Drunk History about 504 accessibility; and Stevie Wonder’s SNL parody of a camera commercial.

Hear more of this podcast at prettymuchpop.com. This episode includes bonus discussion that you can access by supporting the podcast at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network.

Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast is the first podcast curated by Open Culture. Browse all Pretty Much Pop posts.

Bruce Springsteen & Barack Obama Release a New Podcast, “Renegades: Born in the USA”

Yesterday, Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen unveiled the first two episodes of an 8-part podcast called “Renegades: Born In The USA.”  The podcast (available on Spotify) is “a series of conversations between President Barack Obama and Bruce Springsteen about their lives, music, and enduring love of America—despite all its challenges.” The conversations were taped at Springsteen’s home between July and December of 2020. To hear the episodes, you will seemingly need to create a Spotify account, if you don’t have one already.

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Related Content:

The 150 Best Podcasts to Enrich Your Mind

Bruce Springsteen Lists 20 of His Favorite Books: The Books That Have Inspired the Songwriter & Now Memoirist

President Obama Names His Favorite Books, Movies & Songs of 2018

Bruce Springsteen and the E Street Band Improvises and Plays, Completely Unrehearsed, Chuck Berry’s “You Never Can Tell,” Live Onstage (2013)

Why Does The Karate Kid Persist as the New Cobra Kai? A Critical Consideration by Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast (#82)

Did anyone suspect that the beloved 1984 film The Karate Kid (and its decreasingly beloved sequels) would now be not just remade but revived as the YouTube-Red-turned-Netflix hit Cobra Kai? Is this new show actually good, or just living unhealthily on nostalgia and the fascination of watching teens and middle aged people fistfight and fall in love.

Your Pretty Much Pop hosts Mark-san, Erica-san, and Brian-san survey the show and all the films for nonsensical plotting, villain motivation, questionable acting, and more. It’s almost as if PMP is the best… around… and nothing’s ever gonna keep it down.

Care for some articles with more info about these shows?

If you haven’t seen the notorious Karate Kid III, watch this.

Hear more of this podcast at prettymuchpop.com. This episode includes bonus discussion that you can access by supporting the podcast at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network.

Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast is the first podcast curated by Open Culture. Browse all Pretty Much Pop posts.

Radio vs. Podcasting: A Discussion with Jason Bentley (KCRW, The Backstory) on Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast #81

Jason was music director at KRCW, the LA NPR station, is also a DJ with a lot of experienced interviewing musicians, and now hosts a new podcast, The Backstory. He joins Mark and Erica to discuss the creative and business possibilities of podcasting in comparison to radio, what their futures may hold, and his own journey between the two media.

Follow Jason @thejasonbentley. Listen to his Backstory interview with Kristen Bell and his current radio show, Metropolis.

Here’s some comparison data and other basic information on radio and podcasts:

Hear more of this podcast at prettymuchpop.com. This episode includes bonus discussion that you can access by supporting the podcast at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network.

Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast is the first podcast curated by Open Culture. Browse all Pretty Much Pop posts.

Do We Need Yet More Films About Time Loops? A Pretty Much Pop Discussion (#80) of Groundhog Day and its Descendents

Tine looping, where a character is doomed to repeat the same day (or hour, or longer period) is a sci-fi trope dating back more than a century, but really entered American consciousness with the 1993 Bill Murray film Groundhog Day. Since then, and especially in the last five years, there have been numerous iterations of this idea in various genres from racial police-shooting drama to teen sex comedy. But do we need more of this? What are the philosophical ideas involved, and how do these change with tweaks to the scenario?

Mark, Erica, Brian, and returning guest Ken Gerber discuss not only the very recent and popular forays into this genre with Hulu’s Palm Springs and Netflix’s Russian Doll, but also touch on Edge of Tomorrow, Repeaters, 12:01 PM, Before I Fall, The Fare, and episodes of The Twilight Zone, Star Trek: Discovery, The X-Files, and Rick & Morty.

There are of course other film and TV uses of this trope. For a relatively full list, you can see this wiki page listing time loop films and this other wiki page discussing literary antecedents. Also see the “Groundhog Day” Loop page on tvtropes.org, and here’s a relevant reddit thread.

Here are more articles:

Watch the 12:01 PM 1990 short film. This bonus episode of the 11.22.63 podcast had a great discussion of time loop media including the Ken Grimwood novel Replay and the short story “12:01 P.M.” and its sequels. You can read the 1941 Malcolm Jameson story “Doubled and Redoubled” online. As a forerunner to the time loop idea, check out the very short 1892 children’s story “Christmas Every Day” by William Dean Howells, where time does move forward with its consequences, but it’s always Christmas!

We talked a little about Happy Death Day with its costume designer in our ep. 38 and got into time travel more generally with Ken in ep. 22 and into “weird situations” in our Twilight Zone ep. 52. You may also enjoy Wes Alwan’s (sub)Text podcast discussing the psychological implications of Groundhog Day.

Check out the time loop movie bingo card that Brian put together (with groundhog picture by Ken):

Hear more of this podcast at prettymuchpop.com. This episode includes bonus discussion that you can access by supporting the podcast at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network.

Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast is the first podcast curated by Open Culture. Browse all Pretty Much Pop posts.

 

The Formula for The Coen Brothers/Noah Hawley’s Fargo – Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast #79

Your hosts Mark Linsemayer, Erica Spyres, and Brian Hirt are joined by Tamler from the Very Bad Wizards podcast to consider the plaudits and complaints heaped on this morality-tale-turned-organized-crime-drama that began with the 1006 film and  has continued through a 4-season TV show. We delve into its elaborate style, “tundra western” setting, dry humor (including “Minnesota nice”), speechifying, gender issues, stunt casting, and the role of chance in its plotting. Did the show go downhill in its later seasons, and is there altogether too much rehash involved? Yes, there are spoilers, but no, it barely matters.

Check out these resources for more opinions and background information:

Follow @tamler. Hear him on The Partially Examined Life. Check out his book, Why Honor Matters.

Hear more of this podcast at prettymuchpop.com. This episode includes bonus discussion that you can access by supporting the podcast at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network.

Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast is the first podcast curated by Open Culture. Browse all Pretty Much Pop posts.

The Renewed Popularity of Chess and The Queen’s Gambit: Pretty Much Pop Culture Podcast Discussion #78 with Chess Expert J.J. Lang

The high level of interest in Netflix’s adaptation of the 1984 Walter Tevis novel, The Queen’s Gambit has brought this most popular game back to the forefront of pop culture. Chess expert/teacher J.J. (who’s also a grad student in philosophy) joins your hosts Mark Linsenmayer, Erica Spyres, and Brian Hirt to consider chess culture, what gives this game its edge on other contenders (why not Terra Mystica?), player personality characteristics, and the effect of chess media.

We consider gender, genius, and other issues in Gambit, plus Pawn SacrificeSearching for Bobby FisherThe Luzhin Defense, and The Coldest Game.

A few articles and lists:

Watch J.J. on stream on Twitch. Other interviews he’s done: Perpetual ChessFriends and EnemiesAakaash

Hear more of this podcast at prettymuchpop.com. This episode includes bonus discussion about more chess films and other topics that you can access by supporting the podcast at patreon.com/prettymuchpop. This podcast is part of the Partially Examined Life podcast network.

Pretty Much Pop: A Culture Podcast is the first podcast curated by Open Culture. Browse all Pretty Much Pop posts.

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