In episode 27, we introduced a new segment at the end of our book discussion episodes: Mike And Tom Recommend, aka The MATRs.
This segment, probably the most beloved segment in show history, is our attempt to improve your lives just a little bit via the power of suggestion. Suggestions range from essays we think you should read to foods we think you should eat to ways to conduct yourself in public places. Please don’t try to figure out any particular logic to the episode numbers, or how, when and why recommend things on the episodes that we do.
Scroll down to browse the archive of our past recommendations, listed in chronological order, and be sure to actually listen to the episode so you can hear the rationale for our picks:
Mike: Pitch Perfect, a movie
Tom: New Girl, a sitcom
Mike: ESPN 30 for 30 (particularly the episodes “Once Brothers” & “The Best That Never Was”)
Mike: “Pregnant Girl, Smoking” a short story by James Boice
Tom: Grilled cheese sandwiches (specifically apple-bacon-cheddar grilled cheese and a goat cheese & red pepper pesto GC)
Mike: Corn dogs
Tom: Faithful Man, an album by Lee Fields & The Expression
Guest Matthew Jakubowski: Dorothy, A Publishing Project
Mike: Indie Game, a documentary
Tom: Manna, a Philadelphia-based charity
Tom: Flimsy Little Plastic Miracles, a novel by Ron Currie, Jr. (here’s Tom’s review of it in the Philadelphia Review of Books)
Mike: A TV Guide article about what ever happened to the actors who played Jethro and Elly May on The Beverly Hillbillies
Tom: Jill Talbot’s Lost Paragraphs book project
Guest Kevin Greway: A variety of suggestions from that week’s TV Guide
Mike: Battlestar Galactica
Tom: “Babydoll and the Ring of Chastity,” a short story by Katie Chase
Mike: Anatole Broyard’s memoir Kafka Was The Rage
Tom: Green Flash (aka Beach Kings), a B-movie about beach volleyball
Guest Dave Thomas (not the Founder of Wendy’s): Terraform, an album by Shellac
Mike: Beauty is Embarrassing documentary
Tom: Word Wars documentary
Mike: If you’re ever married to someone and they start doing heroin, and they can’t kick it after a year, kick them out.
Tom: “Out in the Great Alone,” an essay by Brian Phillips
Mike: Sleep in more often. Like Descartes.
Tom: Edward Carey’s novel Observatory Mansions
Mike: “Letter from Majorca,” an essay by J.D. Daniels
Tom: John Lee Hooker’s album Live at the Cafe Au Go-Go (And Soledad Prison)
Mike: Aquarium Drunkard, a music blog
Tom: Buzz Bissinger’s book A Prayer For the City
Tom: Coverville, a music podcast
Mike: Leave your kids at home if you’re going to crowded public places and/or relatively nice restaurants
Tom: Roomba, provided that you maintain vigilance in the presence of robots
Mike: the music of Jackson Browne
Tom: Sherlock on BBC
Mike: Starlet, a movie
Tom: Don’t shop at Guitar Center; Guitar Center employees shouldn’t follow Tom around the store like he’s a potential shoplifter
Mike: Writers should cultivate a circle of friends who are not writers
Mike: The Last Days of Disco, a movie by Whit Stillman
Tom: Frontline’s documentary League of Denial: The NFL’s Concussion Crisis
Mike: Episode 83 of the Partially Examined Life podcast, with philosopher Frithjof Bergman
Bonus recommendation: COMMERCIAL FICTION, a new book by our friend Dave Housley
Mike: Eat Thanksgiving dinner “at the right time,” i.e., the early to mid-afternoon
Tom: Read Zach Lowe’s NBA coverage, learn more about basketball
Mike: What Maisie Knew, a movie
Tom: Donate to local food banks, especially during the holiday season
Guest Jaime Fountaine: R. Kelly’s autobiography, Soulacoaster: The Diary of Me
Mike: celebrate Christmas by yourself in your apartment, away from the demands and stresses of family
Mike: Make at least one of your New Year’s resolutions about something or someone besides yourself. Also: (bonus recommendation!) Four Roses bourbon
Tom: The Novelist, a video game
Guest Josh Isard: Justified, a drama on FX
Mike: The IFC TV show Maron
Tom: Stop fucking shooting people, come on.
Mike: The movie The Spectacular Now
Tom: Steve Martin’s memoir Born Standing Up
Mike: The local TV game show Philly Pheud
Tom: The short book The Diary of Edward the Hamster 1990-1990
Mike: The Solar Anus by Georges Batailles (also: write more aphorisms, writers)
Tom: Old Weller 107 Antique, a high-quality value bourbon
Guest Wesley Stace: The complete James Bond box set (maybe buy it on Black Friday and save some money)
SPECIAL SILVER LININGS PLAYBOOK BONUS EPISODE
Mike: The comedy podcast Stop Podcasting Yourself
Tom: Give the People What They Want, an album by Sharon Jones & The Dap-Kings
Mike: Jason Isbell’s 2013 album Southeastern
Tom: For the sake of the public good and common decency, just be an adult and flush the toilet when you use a public toilet.
Mike: The Punk Singer, a documentary about Kathleen Hanna
Tom: Watch the NBA playoffs; they’re better than you remember.
Mike: Summer Blonde, a collection of graphic short stories by Adrian Tomine
Tom: A Band Called Death, a documentary
Mike: Playing House, a new sitcom on USA
Tom: When We Were Kings, a documentary
Guest Dan McQuade: You Only Rock Once: My Life in Music, Jerry Blavat’s autobiography
Mike: Stevie Wonder Live at the Rainbow Theatre in 1974 (a free and legal download)
Tom: Columbine, Dave Cullen’s definitive investigation of the Columbine shootings
Mike: Days of the Bagnold Summer, a graphic novel by Joff Winterheart
Tom: Issue 10.2 (Winter 2014) of the literary journal Cincinnati Review
Guest Leslie Jamison: desserts embedded within other desserts (i.e., pie shakes from Hamburg Inn No. 2 in Iowa City)
Mike: Beware of Mr. Baker, a documentary about drummer Ginger Baker
Tom: Issue 6 of Sundog Lit, which includes Tom’s story “On the Way to the Killing Spree The Shooter Stops for Pizza”
Mike: Avoid the Salinger documentary, and also just leave people alone. Don’t be an asshole
Tom: Don’t own a home. Your home will hate you.
Mike: The sometimes hilarious drug use stories on Erowid
Tom: “The Shame of College Sports,” an essay by Taylor Branch
Guest Matt Jakubowski: Read books by Nadine Gordimer.
Mike: Travel to Detroit, and also think about staying in Hostel Detroit
Tom: The Dead Wrestler Elegies, a book of poems by W. Todd Kaneko
Mike: invest in higher-quality earbuds. Mike specifically recommends Shure brand products
Tom: Raccoon Nation, a PBS documentary available online
Mike: College: What it Was, Is, and Should Be, a book by Andrew Delbanco
Tom: Review, a show on Comedy Central
Mike: The Book of Duels, a book by Michael Garriga
Tom: Lockjaw Magazine, a new literary magazine co-founded by our friend (and past guest) David Thomas
Mike: Heal, an album by Strand of Oaks
Tom: Wooftrax, a dog-walking app that donates money to animal shelters based on distance covered
Mike: Follow Ravi Mangla on Twitter
Tom: The animated series Bojack Horseman, available on Netflix
Mike: The Gotham Bookmart Project blog
Tom: Inquiring Minds podcast; episode 54 (“The Science of Writing Well”) is a good starting point
Guest Gina Myers: Detropia, a documentary
Mike: Allen Carr’s book Stop Smoking Now
Tom: Run the Jewels 2, by Run The Jewels
Mike: Have a happy holiday? Or go ice skating? Or something?
Tom: Christmas, Low Schmaltz, Extra Soul, our friend Dave Housley’s Spotify playlist for the holiday season.
Mike: The Passing of Anatole Broyard, an essay by Henry Louis Gates, Jr.
Tom: Just put your god damn dog on a leash already.
Guest Annie Liontas: The Secret Life of Santa Claus, a weird little illustrated book about Santa
Mike: Benji, an album by Sun Kil Moon
Tom: Feathers & Fishhooks, an album by Rayland Baxter
Mike: Mister Wonderful, a graphic novel by Daniel Clowes
Tom: Andrew Brininstool’s story collection Crude Sketches Done in Quick Succession
Mike: Alice Bolin’s essay A Meditation on Britney’s “…Baby One More Time”
Mike: Salt Block Cooking, and also the general practice of “fooding your salt”
Tom: Andrew Ervin’s forthcoming novel Burning Down George Orwell’s House
Guest Dave Housley: Touch Me: An Erotic Tale of Rock, Roll, Romance, Re-animation, and Redemption (An eROCKtica production Book 1) by Appolonia Fox, plus a BONUS recommendation for the music of Merry Clayton
Mike: The TV show Intervention
Tom: if you’re going to give money to panhandlers on the street, give to to people with actual needs, not upper-middle-class high school students who want new lacrosse sticks.
Mike: Dead Horse, a book of poetry by Niina Pollari
Mike: the 2014 film Life Partners
Tom: Stripped, a documentary about the comics page
Mike: Millenials, save your music playlists so that when you’re in your 30s and trying to get back in shape, it’ll be good for you or something?
Tom: Policy, an album by Will Butler
Mike: Atari: Game Over, a documentary
Tom: Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, a televised comedy show
Mike: Days and Nights of Candlewood, an essay by Paul Lisicky
Tom: Ongoingness, The End of A Diary, a memoir by Sarah Manguso
Mike: The Hound Tall Discussion Series, a podcast
Tom: Take public transportation sometimes, because it’s a universal good
EPISODE 88 (special sad documentary edition):
Mike: The documentary Rich Hill
Guest Asali Solomon: The documentary Let the Fire Burn
Mike: use Instagram, and follow Mike, and maybe sometimes take pictures of your face, but never your food.
Tom: The Sea Inside, a book by Philip Hoare
Mike: Drinking: A Love Story, a memoir by Caroline Knapp
Tom: Inkwood Books, a new indie bookstore in south Jersey
Mike:The Search for General Tso, a documentary
Tom: The Science Vs. podcast
Mike: Go see Stevie Wonder in concert
Tom: A Most Wanted Man, Philip Seymour Hoffman’s last film
Mike: the movie The Skeleton Twins
Tom: Parkopedia, a site that collects information on parking lots in most cities
Guest Helen McClory: Americans should pay more attention to what they call food, and be less accepting of things like this
Mike: If you’re going to listen to music or watch videos in public, be a decent person and use some headphones
Tom: The Timbre, a site devoted to discussing and reviewing podcasts
Mike: pizza-flavored beer (which Mike maybe didn’t even like? And which he recommends not very strongly? And does this even count?)
Tom: Unprecedented repeat recommendation – watch Review on Comedy Central.
Guest Claire Folkman: Allow yourself to cry at pop concerts. Allow yourself to cry in general.
Mike: What Happened, Miss Simone? an authorized documentary about Nina Simone
Tom: S’mores, a classic American snack food that you’ve perhaps forgotten about.
Mike: Check out the “Words” feature on Spotify, which includes a huge selection of audiobooks, stories, poems, and more.
Tom: Blackthorn, a 2011 movie about Butch Cassidy
Mike: Tig, a 2015 documentary
Tom: Valletta 78, a short novel by Erin Fitzgerald
Mike: Getting Lucky, a book of poetry by Nicole Steinberg
Tom: The modern Christmas kidnapping classic Holiday in Handcuffs
Mike: The 2014 movie Love & Mercy
Tom: A little-known TV show called Kojak (or at least season 3, episode 15, which is pretty good!)
Mike: My Love is Cool, an album by the band Wolf Alice
Tom: One of Us: Anders Breivik and the Massacre in Norway, a book of reportage by Åsne Seiserstad
Mike: Dear Daughter, Your Mom, an essay by Sarah Smarsh
Tom: Necco Wafers, for the patriotic child who prefers candy that is only sort of good
Mike: Ivy Tripp, a 2015 album by the band Waxahatchee
Tom: Blankets, a graphic memoir by Craig Thompson
Mike: US States, embrace the absurdity of the Presidential primaries and just have ludicrous contests that are somehow related to the character of your state.
Tom: Baskets, a new comedy show on FX starring Zach Galifianakis
Guest Andrew Brininstool: Journey Through Heartsongs, a book of inspirational poetry by Mattie Stepanek
Mike: When you enjoy a story, book, or some other work, send the creator a note to let them know, because it makes the world a little nicer
Tom: HP Laserjet 1022 printer, a fine, affordable printer, and a totally legitimate recommendation
Guest Jason Fagone: Everything that Happens will Happen Today, an album by Brian Eno and David Byrne
Mike: Big Night, a movie starring Tony Shalhoub and Stanley Tucci, and, according to Mike, one of the best food movies he’s ever seen
Tom: Shader, a memoir/essay collection by Daniel Nester
Mike: Sail Far Away: At Sea With America’s Largest Floating Gathering of Conspiracy Theorists, an essay by Anna Merlan
Tom: Reckoning, a short essay by Lisa Mecham
Mike: Rick and Morty, an animated show once recommended by past guests Kelly Phillips and Claire Folkman
Tom: Rosalie Lightning, a graphic memoir by Tom Hart
Mike: Happy Valley, a TV show on BBC (and Netflix)
Tom: Kids in Philly, an album by Marah
Mike: Listen to college radio
Tom: Man & Wife, a story collection by Katie Chase
Guest Jen Miller: Can I Pet Your Dog, a podcast on the Maximum Fun network
Mike: Song Book, a collection of essays by Nick Hornby
Tom: Put your shopping cart away rather than just letting it sit out in the middle of the lot, if you value the basic underpinnings of society at all
Guest Josh Fruhlinger: If you’re in, or headed to, New Jersey, take a ride on the PATCO train.
Mike: Arcadia Magazine, a literary magazine
Tom: Cartel Land, a documentary available on Netflix
Mike: The Stanley Classic Vacuum Bottle, recommended by Grandma Blondie
Tom: The Honourable Woman, a BBC miniseries (available on Netflix)
Mike: Wildlike, a movie currently on Netflix streaming
Tom: Stand up more often so you die less often. Here are some exercises you can do at your desk.
Guest Sandra Newman: The Russian band Auktyon, “the only great contemporary Russian band I’ve found.”
Mike: 84 Charing Cross Road, a book by Helene Hanff
Tom: The 4-part On the Inside series on the Reply All podcast
Mike: I Am Not Your Guru, a Netflix documentary about famous self-help guy Tony Robbins, who is definitely not Tony Randall.
Tom: Our Debut Album, a short-run podcast in which two comedians try to write a hit album
Mike: Give people gifts of books with personal inscriptions, so they can one day wistfully remember you.
Tom: Elbow Room, a celebrated story collection by James Alan McPherson
Mike: Flight Behavior, an essay by Amy Butcher
Mike: broadly, you should do the things you enjoy doing but always talk yourself out of doing. More specifically, you should do karaoke.
Tom: The Kill Fee podcast, hosted by past guest and freelance writer Jason Fagone
Mike: The TV Show Freaks and Geeks
Tom: If you’re renting a home and you have a serious leak, please let your landlord know about this, okay thanks
Mike: Extra Toasty Cheez-its
Tom: The Good Place, a new sitcom in 2016
Guest Jim Miller: The Supernerd playlist on Spotify
Mike: Hanover Blended proteins, a poorly named frozen food, and also more generally Mike recommends beans.
Tom: Subscribe to your local community newspaper (like Tom subscribes to The Retrospect)
Mike: The Official Preppy Handbook, a 1980 book
Tom: Three’s Company, a much better sitcom than you remember
Guest Sam Allingham: Hedgehog in the Fog, an animated short from Russia
Mike: Think about the small ways you can get involved in and contribute to your community, and actually act on one of those things.
Tom: Ivory Tower, a documentary about the current state of college education
Guest Hanif Willis-Abdurraqib: When I Grow Up, I wish to Become a List of Furhter Possibilities, a poetry book by Chen Chen; Black Beatles, a song by Rae Sremmurd; There are Things More Beautiful than Beyonce, a poetry book by Morgan Parker; and Ology, an album by Gallant
Mike: Get a Christmas tree.
Tom: The website Rover.com, a good service for dog owners who need dog sitting/dog walking
Mike: Retail Nightmares, a podcast on the Maximum Fun network
Tom: Mooncop, a graphic novel by Tom Gauld
Mike: Finding Traction, a documentary about ultra-marathoners
Tom: Checked Out OK, a book by Corwin Ericson that is particularly good for writing prompts
Mike: Sing Street, a movie Mike describes as “good, but not great”
Tom: Chances With Wolves episode 353, 2+ hours of streamable protest music
Mike: Aretha Franklin, who Mike would like to remind you is “good.”
Tom: Cheers, a little-know television sitcom
Mike: Glass Actress, a book of poems by Nicole Steinberg
Tom: The Drive & Kick podcast, for people who want smart basketball talk without the dumb hot takes
Mike: Cecil and Jordan in New York, a graphic story collection by Gabrielle Bell
Guest Lauren Grodstein: H Mart, a chain of Korean grocery stores
Mike: Don’t amplify the voices of crazy conspiracy idiots on Twitter, even if you happen to agree with their politics
Tom: The White Helmets, an Oscar-winning documentary
Mike: Jimmy and Rita, a poetry book by Kim Addonizio
Tom: If you’re looking to help a friend/loved one who’s going through a difficult time or a family death, offer to do a specific thing to help them, i.e., instead of “let me know if I can do anything,” say, “I want to come over and mow your lawn” or something like that.
Mike: The Simplehuman kitchen trash can
Tom: There are places where dogs belong and places where humans belong, and these are not always the same places, and (service dogs exclused) sometimes you just can’t bring your damn dog on the plane, or into the restaurant, or wherever.
Mike: Follow Branson Reese on Twitter, because he’s funny and does good comics
Tom: American Experience: Ruby Ridge, a documentary
Mike: The movie Boomerang
Tom: If you’re a teacher, don’t share your students’ work online to mock them or shame them
Mike: Take a road trip, he says, with very few specifics.
Tom: The Propaganda Game, a documentary
Guest Kelly Phillips: If you’re going to a friend’s house, bring a bottle of brut Champagne
Guest Claire Folkman: Park Bench Philly, a doggy daycare in Philly with a good Instagram
Mike: Remember you can use the slow cooker in the summer. I swear this is the recommendation.
Mike: Give Jimmy Buffet’s early albums a chance; you may find they’re pretty good.
Mike: Spotify premium, which is totally worth it
Tom: Finders Keepers, a documentary
Mike: Good Times, the TV show from the 70s
Tom: 20th Century Ghosts, a book of horror stories by Joe Hill
Mike: Out in the Storm, a 2017 album by Waxahatchee
Tom: Nothing is True and Everything is Possible, a book about modern-day Russia, by Peter Pomerantsez
Mike: “Stop telling people how to live their fucking lives,” he says.
Tom: “What Bullets Do to Bodies,” an article by Jason Fagone
Mike: The Big Sick, a 2017 movie
Tom: Sweetland, a novel by Michael Crummey
Mike: Get a waffle iron, and be aware it can be used for things besides waffles (like falafel)
Tom: The Defiant Ones, an HBO docuseries
Mike: Bodyglide, an anti-chafing product for runners
Tom: Peaky Blinders, a crime drama on Netflix
Mike: Roseanne, the beloved sitcom of the past
Tom: Broken River, J. Robert Lennon’s 2017 novel
Mike: Fierce Attachments, a memoir by Vivian Gornick
Tom: Tower, a semi-animated documentary about America’s first mass school shooting
Mike: Later at the Bar: A Novel in Stories by Rebecca Barry
Tom: Killer Mike’s guest appearance on the Politically Reactive podcast
Mike: Death’s Door gin
Tom: “Seven Days of Heroin,” an in-depth investigative piece by the Cincinnati Enquirer
Mike: “Smarten up, America,” specifically w/r/t falling for stupid false articles, online grifters, etc.
Tom: “Why do you Always Write about White People?” a podcast episode featuring Sherman Alexie & Jess Row
Mike: Monument Lab, a Philly-based public art project
Tom: Subscribe to The Athletic for quality sportswriting
Mike: Get Out, the famous movie you know and love
Tom: JRZDVLZ, a novel by friend of the show Lee Klein
Mike: Dough Boys podcast
Tom: Call Me Lucky, a documentary
Mike: watch the Halloween episodes of sitcoms, which are better than Christmas episodes
Tom: The Confessions of Thomas Quick, a documentary
Mike: The Netflix show American Vandal
Tom: Broadchurch, a British drama on Netflix
Mike: “Happy Holidays,” a poem by Sherman Alexie
Tom: The Seven Five, a documentary on Netflix
Mike: “First Citizen of Mars,” a short story by Kelly Ramsey
Tom: Zombeavers, a B-horror movie
Mike: Okovi, an album by Zola Jesus
Tom: The Nice Guys, a movie
Mike: The Heavyweight podcast
Tom: Consider literary magazine subscriptions as gifts for birthdays, Christmas, etc.
Mike: Scrooged, the Bill Murray movie
Tom: Nightcrawler, a movie
Mike: Try doing something different for a month/make a one-month resolution
Tom: Lamb & Lester, a essay on nonfiction craft by Joe Bonomo
Mike: Last Place, the latest album by Grandaddy
Tom: They Can’t Kill Us Until They Kill Us, a book by Hanif Abdurraqib
Special guest Dave K.: Baltimore Rock Opera Society
Mike: Sunset Boulevard, a 1950 movie
Tom: The Place Beyond the Pines, a movie you can find on Netflix