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Episode 80: Nathan Rabin, You Don’t Know Me But You Don’t Like Me

This week we’re joined by returning guest Dave Housley (author, most recently, of the story collection If I Knew the Way, I Would Take You Home) to discuss this 2013 book by the former editor of The A.V. Club, in which he investigates the cult fandoms of both Phish and Insane Clown Posse. Rabin went to several Phish shows and the annual Gathering of the Juggalos to figure out what makes these bands so popular. He also had a bit of a breakdown, during what sounds like a pretty rough year.


We talk about what separates mediocre writing about pop culture from great writing about pop culture, and how we make those distinctions when choosing essays for Barrelhouse. We also talk about constructing a narrative arc out of your own experience, and how to write about personal trials and tribulations. Oh, and aliens. We talk a bunch about aliens, because Dave is a pretty big fan of aliens, or rather alien-related television programming. It’s even led him to online friendships with several members of the group MUFON (the Mutual UFO Network).

Links! We’ve got links! To all sorts of stuff we talked about during this week’s program. First off, here’s a link to Dave’s story involving aliens, “How We Got From There to Here,” on the website of the now-defunct Pindeldyboz. And here’s a link to Dave’s website, where you can find everything Housley-related.

If you’d like to read the recap of the Two and a Half Men finale Tom talked about during the show, you can do that here, via Vulture. You can read the Roy Orbison stories we talked about here (spoiler: they’re great!). And you can read Joe Bonomo’s craft essay here, on the Brevity site. Finally, Dave’s book of paranormal erotica–which he wrote along with Barrelhouse friends Matt Perez and Becky Barnard–is available via Amazon, for the low low price of $1.99.

Oh, and we’re in the last week of our annual fund drive, so if you haven’t yet, please kick in a few bucks. As of this posting, we’re 85% of the way funded, and we just need one final push to get us over the top. If we hit our goal, we’ll do a bonus episode–available to everyone–chosen by you, the listening public.

As always, we’d love to hear your feedback on what we talked about during the show. You can email us, hit us up on Twitter, or just leave a comment here on the site. If you like the show, please consider writing us an iTunes review, and tell your friends about us! We rely mostly on word-of-mouth to reach new listeners.

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

Thanks for listening!


Download Episode 80 (right-click, save-as)


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.


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:


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.


Download Summer of Shorts #4 (right-click, save-as)

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


Episode 37: Tom Robbins, Even Cowgirls Get the Blues

This week Mike revisits an author he loved as a 17-year-old, and takes Tom along for the ride. How could that possibly go wrong?

Tom Robbins’ second novel, published in 1976, tells the story of Sissie Hankshaw, a beautiful woman with just one physical abnormality: her giant thumbs. Sissie makes use of her imperfection to become the world’s most successful hitchhiker, and later hooks up with the cowgirls of the Rubber Rose Ranch, who have taken over that former spa and remade it in their own image.


Talking points for the episode include: hippies, the band Phish, Tom’s grumpiness, Teddy Roosevelt’s love of rubber meatballs, metaphors for sex parts, and creepy uncles.

If you’re interested in the upcoming Barrelhouse-sponsored Philadelphia writers’ conference, you can get more information here. If you want to submit to the Barrelhouse joke contest, you can do that here. If you want to read the article Tom recommended in our MATR segment, here’s a link for that.

As always, you can stream the episode for free here on the site, or you can visit the iTunes store, where you can download all our episodes, and subscribe, so you never miss another episode. And please visit our sponsor, Powell’s, a great indie bookstore with a pretty tricked-out website. If you use the links on our site to get there, Powell’s will give us a small percentage of whatever money you spend. Win win!

Thanks for listening!


Download Episode 37 (right-click, save-as)