Episode 11: Chuck Caruso - A Nomadic Actor with Strong Roots

Chuck Caruso was a hero of mine when I was a young actor in college, and he remains so today, for many reasons. He’s managed to make a meaningful and dynamic career of musical theatre performance, and along the way, he’s learned a lot about what it means to earn your place in the industry, while maintaining a semblance of connection to the people in your life who make it all worth it. Dare I say it, Chuck qualifies as “seasoned.”

You might already know who Chuck is, sort of, if you’re a Strangers with Candy fan, as Chuck played the role of jock doofus “Trake” on the Comedy Central series. (Yes, we talk about why he didn’t wind up in the movie version, and it’s going to bring scandal upon the entire entertainment industry!*)

You can catch Chuck out on the road next year in a national tour of Man of La Mancha and in his reprisal of the title role in the musical version of Shrek. He may also have a brilliant idea for a breakfast cereal that gives you personal validation. 

Duration: 92 minutes

Subscribe to the Obcast in iTunes or through this link.

Links from the show

Chuck on Twitter as @chuckcaruso, his blog Broadway by Forty, and his YouTube channel

His not-to-be-missed, super-hilarious XtraNormal cartoon “You Should Be on Broadway” 

Information on his upcoming performances in Man of La Mancha (Chuck says only buy tickets through the venues, not through this site) and Shrek

“Strengthen our knees for Ha!” 

* That actually won’t happen.

And here's Chuck as Zero in the Stockton College production of The Adding Machine, and I'm playing the Guide, indicating broadly toward Chuck.

Episode 10: Apple and the Church of Whizbang, with Chris Sawyer and Matt Licata


On October 22, Apple held another big product-unveiling event, with new iPads as the main attraction, but also a lot of news about OS X, iWork, and other aspects of Apple’s arsenal. It raised myriad questions for me, not just about the cool new toys, but also what Apple’s choices mean for its long-term strategy and continuing place in the technology universe. I got so excited, I knew I had to hold yet another panel discussion episode to talk about it all. This also meant recruiting previous Obcast guests Chris Sawyer and Matt Licata to join me, and since I was on the West Coast, well past their bedtimes.

I happened to be at an out-of-town conference for work at the time, so I had to record my end of the conversation from a hotel room with dubious WiFi (as well as recording the opening from the Newark airport), and you’ll notice the difference in sound quality from my other recordings. But it was a really fun discussion, and even if you’re not an Apple nut job like me, I think you’ll get a lot out of it.  

Duration:  96 minutes

Subscribe to the Obcast in iTunes or through this link. 

Links from the show:

Video of the Apple event

Bloomberg Businessweek interview with Jony Ive and Craig Federighi

John Gruber on the event

Mike Elgan on Apple attacking Microsoft

Marco Arment's critique of the event

John Siracusa's OS X Mavericks review

Steve Jobs: "Thoughts on Flash" 

Chris on Twitter 

Matt on Twitter and Future World

Episode 9: "Transformers: The Movie" Discussion with Matt Licata and Ryan Koronowski

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My little 8-year-old world was changed forever when I saw the behemoth mechanical beings that I loved so dearly, loudly and violently portrayed on the big screen in all their glory. Transformers: The Movie was released in the summer of 1986, and despite its many, many, many flaws, it has remained one of my favorites, a cultural milestone wedged deep into my psyche like a metal splinter short-circuiting an altruistic automaton's abdomen. 

For this special edition of the Obcast, I bring Matt Licata and Ryan Koronowski back to form a Devastator-Like gestalt podcast panel to dig deep into our enthusiasm for and questions about this remarkable movie. What are the film's theological allegories? What can we determine about the governmental and judicial systems of Cybertronian and other mechanical civilizations? Does Unicron pee? We tackle all of it with varying degrees of success in the course of these two hours.

Duration: 121 minutes

Subscribe to the Obcast in iTunes or through this link. 

Links from the show:

Paul's post on the video for "The Touch" by Stan Bush

Transformers "Masterpiece" figures for Optimus Prime and Soundwave at Amazon

Movie soundtrack

Ryan on Twitter and at Climate Progress

Matt on Twitter and Future World

And as promised in the show, here is a picture of a very young Ryan Koronowski dressed as Sky Lynx.


Episode 8: Lauren Milberger - How I Met My Genre


"I went into the piece thinking I was Gracie, and I came out realizing that I'm George." 

I last saw Lauren in person about 12 years ago when we were both students at the Actors Studio Drama School in New York. She stayed, I didn't. Already brilliant and funny when I knew her then, she's since come into her own as a performer, as a writer, and as a human being in a way I truly admire. 

In our discussion (a long one again, I know, I'm sorry), we talk about the craft of acting, her love of the medium of television, the genesis of her play-in-development about George Burns and Gracie Allen, and why we think Aaron Sorkin is so damn good. 

Duration:  82 minutes.

Subscribe to the Obcast in iTunes or through this link.

Links from the show: 

Lauren's website

The Facebook page for her play The Raconteurs (give it some likes) 

Her essay on Gracie Allen at Travalanche

Her essay on Burns and Allen, (mostly) available through Google Books

Lauren's blog project #GirlWriter 

Lauren on Twitter as @LaurenMilberger

Episode 7: Peggy Revell - Training Yourself to Tell Stories


If you take nothing else away from this episode of the Obcast with Canadian journalist Peggy Revell, I hope it's that it takes time and training to learn how to tell a story. A politics and writing enthusiast, Peggy writes for a local paper, telling the stories of real people in Medicine Hat, Alberta (yes, the town with the silliest name in the universe), concentrating on the education beat.  

In our conversation, she schools me on Canadian politics (they have them), smartly analyses the current state of journalism, and and reveals why George Takei thinks she's a special butterfly or something.

Duration: 62 minutes

Subscribe to the Obcast in iTunes or through this link.

Links from the show: 

Peggy on Twitter as herself (@pegspirate), and as her professional self (@MHNprevell).

Peggy's paper, Medicine Hat News

Her blog, Pegomancy

Episode 6: Chris Sawyer - On Being More Than Just That Weird Guy on Twitter


Chris Sawyer has a regular job in which he helps people who are languishing in unemployment. He is a conscientious and loving dad. He's also a hypernerd who talks about washing his "fat parts" on Twitter. On this edition of the Obcast, Chris and I talk about that fuzzy line between one's real life in meatspace, and the identity one crafts online. As you'll hear, though we have much in common, we've taken very different approaches to that conundrum.

We also talk about being former blue-shirted Apple Store drones, and what it is to be a parent who wants to pass his or her geekiness onto one's offspring. It's a really fun show in which I chuckle a lot.

Duration: 82 minutes

Subscribe to the Obcast in iTunes or through this link.

Links from the show: 

Chris on Twitter as @videosawyer 

The Talk Show with John Gruber

Paul on Tech News Today 

Barry Ritholtz at WaPo: "What’s behind Microsoft’s fall from dominance?"

TrekWeb: "Fans Name J.J. Abrams' Star Trek Into Darkness as the Worst 'Trek' Movie Ever at Vegas Convention"

Joseph Dickerson: "Star Trek is broken – Here are ideas on how to fix it"


Episode 5: Catherine Dunphy - Escaping from Religion, Lighting a Path for Others


Catherine Dunphy might have been a nun. Luckily for the world, as she asked tough questions and opened her eyes to the dark machinery of institutional Catholicism, Catherine cast her faith aside. Now she brings her considerable intellect and compassion to the Clergy Project, helping secretly-atheist pastors cope with their impossible situation and begin the process of a transition out. Catherine and I talk about her remarkable journey, how she now helps guide others through theirs, and the deep implications of faith traditions crumbling from the inside.

She has a few opinions about Pope Franky, too. Get ready for a fascinating edition of the Obcast.

Duration: 88 minutes

Subscribe to the Obcast in iTunes or through this link.

Links from the show:   

The Clergy Project website

Catherine on Twitter as @CatherineD_tcp 

Jerry DeWitt: "How to Pray if You're an Atheist"

Me at Friendly Atheist: "How Revolutionary is Pope Francis, Anyway? "

Damon Linker: "Pope Francis versus the Vatican" 

Mary Johnson's book, An Unquenchable Thirst

Leah Libresco's post on her conversion

Episode 4: Ken Kennedy - Recovering from Libertarianism and the Crypto Wars


Who on Earth has an encyclopedic understanding of 1990s crypto-wars, knows what it is to look into the terrifying face of the Republican primary electorate, and can tell you which open source database platform was enabled by the porn industry? (That last one is a lie.)

Only Ken Kennedy. This week's guest is a self-described tech activist and recovering libertarian with a deep knowledge of tech and the policies that help and hinder it, and who pretends to sound enlightened when I rant about how terrible the cover art of most sci-fi and fantasy novels is.

Ken and I have been Internet friends for many years, and this is the first time he and I have ever actually spoken to each other using our human voices. It seemed to work out, evidenced by the fact that even after extensive editing, I still couldn't get the show below 80 minutes. There's just that much to say!

Duration: 81 minutes

Subscribe to the Obcast in iTunes or through this link.

Links from the show:   

Ken's website and podcast Kenzoid's Autonomous Zone.

Ken at Google+ and as @kenzoid on Twitter.

On the Media: "Pulling Back the Curtain" - Piece on the editing and clean-up done at NPR. 

The World's Smallest Political Quiz (I turn out to be a liberal, if you can believe it) 

The Name of the Wind cover art 

Anathem cover art 


Episode 3: Kylie Sturgess - Being a Conduit for Science, Despite the Zombies and Judgmental Fish


Skyping in from the other side of the planet, Kylie Sturgess is a nop-notch podcaster who uses her media platform to help us get to know various figures in science and skepticism. Rarely, however, does she have the tables turned so folks can actually get to know her. I am pleased to be able to learn more about Kylie; about how she went from academic to ultra-prolific new-media practitioner, her approach to science communication, and which Spice Girl means the most to her. I'm not even kidding about that last one.

Duration: 68 minutes.

Subscribe to the Obcast in iTunes or through this link.

Links from the show:  

Kylie's podcast Token Skeptic

Kylie's blog by the same name

Her book, The Scope of Skepticism, based on her interviews. 

Science Rewired 

I Fucking Love Science 

365 Days of Philosophy 

28 Days Later in One Minute, in One Take 

Episode 2: Ryan Koronowski - Progressive Politics, Good Books, and the Never-Ending Job Interview


Ryan Koronowski is deputy editor of Climate Progress at the Center for American Progress, and for a young guy he's had a long and grueling career in liberal politics (including time with me on the Hillary Clinton presidential campaign). And he's pretty damned well-read.  

Oh, and there's a brief guest appearance from my 3-year-old boy, as well as some spilled beer. 

Duration: 67 minutes

Subscribe to the Obcast in iTunes or through this link.

Links from the show: 

Ryan at Climate Progress

Qualiteracy, Ryan's book blog. 

Ryan on Twitter as @koronet 

Status Anxiety by Alain De Botton

Episode 1: Gia Mora - Loving Science, Living on the Stage


Super-performer Gia Mora joins me for the first "official" episode of the Obcast. Gia is an actor, singer, model, writer, educator, and science communicator, now touring an original one-woman show, Einstein's Girl. We talk about her love of science, and how she incorporates it into her art, as well as the challenges and trappings of making it in the entertainment industry, and the quest to find meaning in what you do. 

Duration: 97 minutes

Subscribe to the Obcast in iTunes or through this link.

Links from the show: 

Gia's website.

Gia on Twitter (@Miz_Mora).

Einstein's Girl website, which includes song and video clips.

Review of Einstein's Girl by Jennifer Ouellette in Scientific American

SoCal Science Cafe at Meetup.com.

Deepak Chopra Random Quote Generator

And my daughter looking super-cute on ladybug scooter with a fire helmet. 


Episode 0: Matt Licata - Design, Glasses, and How Stuff Should Work


For our zeroth episode, our beta-test edition, I'm joined by Matt Licata. We talk about glasses, web design, how stuff should work, and we preview an upcoming epic discussion of Transformers: The Movie.

Duration: 97 minutes

Subscribe to the Obcast in iTunes or through this link.

Links from the show: 

Matt's website, Future World 

Matt's less important website, Nice Pictures of Nice Food 

Matt on Twitter: @miraimatt

Matt's work at CFI:  CFI Summit, Women in Secularism, Leadership Conference

Paul on ditching the Nexus 7

The Great Discontent

Egg Freckles

The Brooks Review

Matt Gemmell

Aeon Magazine 

The glasses that Matt bought