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Summer of Shorts Episode 8: Moore and Jobs

Well, Book Fighters, you knew this day had to come. The summer is officially over, and with it the Summer of Shorts has to come to an end. But don’t fret! If you’ve fallen in love with shorts, and the shorts lifestyle–the ease of movement, the gentle breeze on your exposed knees–this week we’re exploring some careers that might allow you to wear shorts all year long.

We’ve also got a final short story, this one by Lorrie Moore. “People Like That Are the Only People Here” can be found in Moore’s story collection Birds of America. Or, if you’re a New Yorker subscriber, you can read it on their website.

If there are jobs we left out, please let us know in the comments. Also, if you’ve got suggestions for our next seasonal project–we discuss a couple options at the end of this week’s show, but we’re still workshopping them, and we’re open to feedback. And of course we’re always happy to hear what you think about the ideas raised in the episode, your opinions on the story, or anything else you want to throw our way. You can email us, hit us up on Twitter, or just leave a comment here on the site.

As always, you can stream the episode here on our site, or download the mp3 file. Or check us out in the iTunes store, where you can subscribe (for free!) and never miss another installment. Thanks for listening!

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Summer of Shorts Episode 7: Barthelme and Swim Trunks

This week’s short story pick is Donald Barthelme’s “Me and Miss Mandible,” about a 35-year-old man who suddenly finds himself in a classroom of eleven-year-olds. This week’s shorts pick is swim trunks, since Tom is about to leave on a beach vacation despite pretty much hating the beach. Mike grew up near the beach, and would like to convince Tom that his fears of the ocean are irrational.

Our vacation schedules are also why you’re getting two weeks straight of Summer of Shorts episodes. Well, that and it’s summer, and like us you should be taking every last opportunity to celebrate shorts, before the weather turns and we once again have to wear pants and continue on our slow march toward death.

If you’d like to read the story, there appears to be a copy of it here, though we can’t vouch for the veracity of the text. You can also find it in Barthelme’s first story collection, Come Back, Dr. Caligari, or in the collected Sixty Stories (Penguin Classics).

As always, you can stream the episode here on our site, or download the mp3 file. You can also find us in the iTunes store, where you can catch up on back episodes and subscribe (for free) and never miss another dispatch. We’ll be back next week with a full book episode. Thanks for listening!

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Summer of Shorts Episode 6: Alexie and Boxers

Welcome back to the Summer of Shorts! This week’s short story is Sherman Alexie’s “What You Pawn I Will Redeem,” which you can read here, via the New Yorker. This week’s shorts are boxers. Trigger warning: We’re gonna talk about our underpants. Don’t say you haven’t been warned.

AlexieBoxers

Talking points for the Alexie story include quests, potlatch culture, portrayals of Native Americans in popular culture, humor of the oppressed, and stories with built-in clocks. Talking points for boxers include the history of underwear, torsion, the pedophilic tendencies of Tom’s soccer coach, going commando, and Mike’s desire to keep his swimmers swimming.

As always, you can stream the episode for free by clicking on the little player thingy below, or download the mp3 file. Or check us out in the iTunes store, where you can subscribe (for free!) and never miss another episode.

Thanks for listening!

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Summer of Shorts Episode 5: Gaitskill and Gym Shorts

This week we’re discussing a Mary Gaitskill short story, “The Girl on the Plane,” and also gym shorts. What more could you need to know?

Okay, fine. The story is from Gaitskill’s 1997 story collection Because They Wanted To. The story doesn’t seem to be available online anywhere, so you’ll have to track down the book, or Best American Short Stories, 1993, in which this story is featured. Also, fair warning: the story does contain some graphic sex, some of which is, at best, semi-consensual. Just putting that out there as a kind of trigger warning. We talk about aggressive masculinity, cultural awareness of sexual politics, and trapping your characters in enclosed spaces.

Gaitskill

This week’s shorts, meanwhile, comprise a pretty broad category, which is described in this questionably sourced Wikipedia entry. We talk about “wicking,” whether it’s okay to go shirtless in public during the summer months, and to what degree our middle- and high-school gym class experiences match up with the portrayal of gym class in pop culture.

As always, the episode is available to stream, below, by clicking on the little player thingy. Or you can download the mp3 file. Or visit us in the iTunes store, where you can subscribe (for free) and never miss another episode. We welcome your comments on the episode. You can email us, hit us up on Twitter, or just leave a note here on the episode’s blog post. Though Mike is on vacation for a few more days (this is him talking to you from the past … spooooooky!) so if you have comments directed specifically at him, the response might take a little longer than usual. Or, you and Tom can just gossip about him in his absence.

Thanks for listening!

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Summer of Shorts Episode 4: Edward Porter and Cargo Shorts

This week we welcome back Dave Housley (Barrelhouse editor, Grateful Dead fan, author of the forthcoming If I Knew The Way, I Would Take You Home) to discuss Edward Porter’s story from Issue 11 of Barrelhouse, “The White Guy’s Guide to Marrying a Black Woman.” We talk about the story’s second-person voice, and how it both uses and transcends its “how-to” conceit. We also provide a peek inside the editorial process, and what makes a submission stand out in the queue.

Note: You can find a linked .pdf version of the story at the bottom of this post.

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We’re also, of course, continuing our encyclopedic exploration through the world of shorts. We debate the relative coolness of cargo shorts, and when we, as a culture, reached “peak cargo.” We also discuss the rise of camouflage cargo, and the brief period during which all men’s bathing suits had extra cargo pockets. Whatever your opinion of pockets, I think we can all agree there is no reason for these things to exist:

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Also this week, Mike finally drives Tom crazy, via the musical stylings of the band Phish. If only this were a video podcast, you could see some pretty sweet white-guy dance moves. Alas, you’ll just have to use your imagination.

As always, you can stream the episode right here on our site, by clicking on the little player thingy below, or download the mp3 file. Or, visit us in the iTunes store, where you can subscribe to the show (for free!) and never miss another installment. We also welcome your feedback on what we talked about: you can email us, hit us up on Twitter, or just leave a comment on this post.

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Ed Porter – The White Guy’s Guide To Marrying a Black Woman (pdf)


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Summer of Shorts Episode 3: Beard and Skorts

This week’s short-story pick is actually an essay: Jo Ann Beard’s “Werner,” which appears in the 2007 edition of Best American Essays, edited by David Foster Wallace. Actually, much of our discussion concerns whether it’s fair to call this an “essay.” It’s based on real events, but pretty clearly takes fictional liberties, such as inhabiting the mind of its protagonist (not the author) in a move more frequently seen in short stories. The essay isn’t available for free online, but you can read another Jo Ann Beard piece, “The Fourth State of Matter,” on The New Yorker website.

Our shorts for the week are another genre-bender: skorts, against which Mike has a long-standing personal grudge. We explore that grudge in depth, as well as several of Tom’s childhood grudges. Talking about shorts, it turns out, tends to be a real walk down memory lane.

BeardSkort

Talking points this week include: genre distinctions, recess, bird poop, disappointing limo rides, condiments, lisps, Pee Wee football, magazine sales, enviable prose, and burning buildings.

As always, you can stream the episode here, on our site, or download the mp3 file. You can also find us in the iTunes store, where you can subscribe (for free!) and never miss another episode. We welcome your feedback on what we talked about this week. You can email us, hit us up on Twitter, or just leave a comment here on this post.

Thanks for listening!

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Summer of Shorts Episode 2: Dubus and Jorts

Welcome back to the Summer of Shorts! This week we’re talking about the Andre Dubus story “The Fat Girl,” and the oft-maligned jort. Mike has been teaching this Dubus story for several years, through many syllabus changes. It follows its protagonist, Louise, through her childhood, college, marriage and pregnancy, tracking her difficult relationship to food and to her own self-image.

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While we can’t confirm that Dubus was a jorts-wearer–nor that he was, in fact, wearing jorts in the above photo–we can confirm that jorts were the preferred summer fashion move for a young Tom McAllister. He was also a Doors fan, as illustrated by this photo:

TomDoors

Though he’s actually wearing Eagles-themed gym shorts in that photo, one can imagine that in jorts he looked something like this:

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Here’s a pdf version of the Dubus story someone has posted online, if you don’t mind reading past someone else’s notes and underlinings (actually, it looks like they lost steam after the second page). And here’s a link to the story Tom mentioned in the episode, about a Weight Watchers participant getting fed up with the program.

As always, you can stream the episode below, or download the mp3 file. Or check us out in the iTunes store, where you can catch up on back episodes and subscribe (for free). If you’ve got feedback on what we talked about today, feel free to shoot us an email, hit us up on Twitter, or just leave a comment here on the episode post. Thanks for listening!

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