List Envy

By Mark Steadman

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Description

High Fidelity meets Bullseye in this funny and fascinating list-building podcast. Each week, host Mark Steadman talks to a new guest, and together they collaborate on a top-five list, with the topic chosen by the guest. Some episodes will have you screaming into your earbuds asking “why did Mark pick that?”, while others give you a whole new world to explore. Subjects range from science and tech, to food, travel, pop culture and the human mind. Guests have included inventors, comedians, musicians, scientists, and Hollywood screenwriters. New episodes come out every Tuesday.

Episode Date
46: Top 5 modern indie bands
3040

Indie music blogger Kamala Adams joins Mark to discuss all things modern indie, and to define what “modern” means.

Kamala’s picks

In order of discussion:

Porridge Radio

Despite Mark’s apparent ignorance, this band did crop up in the previous episode, but he had apparently forgotten. Regardless, Porridge Radio are Kamala’s current favourite band.

Wolf Alice

Initially on first blush, Kamala wasn’t a big fan of Wolf Alice, but they’re a varied band, and eventually they won her over.

Blaenavon

Named after a Welsh town but formed in Hampshire, Blaenavon make Kamala’s list after she saw blown away by their live set.

The Vaccines

They are the band that Kamala thinks of when she thinks “indie”. A good, solid band with a great track record, but probably difficult-to-Google right now.

Courting

Kamala picked Liverpool band Courting as her fifth pick. Highly praised by Anthony Fantano, these lads are ones to watch. Unless you’re reading this in the far future and they’re now massive, in which case, you’re welcome?

Mark’s picks

In order of discussion:

The Corteeners

Mark became of the band circa 2015, and especially enjoyed Concrete Love, although their lack of live chops might make them a less-than-stellar pick as an indie band.

Maxiimo Park

This band might deserve a higher place than Mark initially gave them, but he appreciates the stripped-back sound found in their earlier albums, and their ability to play a decent live set.

Gerry Cinnamon

Mark’s third pick is a solo musician with a strong Scots brogue and a real way with words. Possibly more folk than indie, but as a solo musician with a busker’s feel, he’s a good poster boy for the genre.

Nothing But Thieves

This in-yer-face, high energy band rock a little harder than Mark’s tastes usually allow, but he recognises the importance of his station and so wanted to leave some space for a reasonably well-regarded indie outfit.

Courtney Barnett

This laid-back Aussie pop-rock artist is Mark’s final pick, and something of an enigma since – to him at least – it feels like she’s better than the sum of her parts.

Honourable mentions

  • Arctic Monkeys
  • Peace
  • Slaves
  • Royal Blood
  • Fizzy Blood
  • Spoon
  • Radiohead

More of Kamala Adams

Kamala setup and writes for The Indie Scene, a blog championing new music, with articles by a number of writers.

Special Guest: Kamala Adams.

May 31, 2021
45: Top 5 albums of 2020
3758

Mark talks vinyl and hunts down new music to enjoy, with music podcaster Elliott Farrar.

Elliott’s picks

In order of discussion:

Weird!, by Yungblud

Elliott picked Yungblud’s second studio album for the way the artist’s message of “you do you” bleeds through.

Girlfriends, by Girlfriends

Pop punk is back, in the form of Travis Mills and Nick Gross’ project, which may have a limited shelf-life, given Mills’ busy career.

Grime MC, by Joe

Actually released right at the end of 2019 – but near-as-dammit to 2020 – Grime MC makes Elliott’s list for its interesting release, but its honesty and authenticity.

Fake it Flowers, by Beabadoobee

This debut album by Filipino-Brit Beabadoobee makes Elliott’s list for its soulful sound, undercut by rougher guitar riffs.

Foolish Loving Spaces, by Blossoms

Elliott’s final pick was a toss-up between a few contenders, but Blossoms’ 2020 album could not be permitted to slip through the net.

Mark’s picks

In order of discussion:

RTJ4, by Run the Jewels

Mark didn’t know people still made hip-hop like this, and was instantly up for the dirty beats and the smart lyrics.

Women in Music Pt III, by Haim

Mark likes to be taken by surprise, so the variation of songs in Haim’s latest album made this an easy second pick.

Letter to You, by Bruce Springsteen

Mark wanted the Boss for his list, which took him rather by surprise (Mark that is, Bruce doesn’t know about the podcast). Turns out the man’s still kickin’ it, and we must show respect.

Saint Cloud, by Waxahatchee

It’s a lazy Sunday mid-morning, you’ve got a coffee in hand and you’re sat on the sofa listening to some country-tinged indie rock.

Shore, by Fleet Foxes

Mark’s final pick is a band he’s enjoyed since 2008, although dropped off his radar a few years back. Shore has some tracks that feel like a return to that warm autumnal sound he enjoyed.

Honourable mentions

  • Working Men’s Club (self-titled)
  • Dream Nails (self-titled)

More of Elliott Farrar

Elliott is one half of the Scratched Record Podcast, which you can find in all your usual podcast places, and which brings indie music artists out of the shadows and into your ears every Tuesday.

Special Guest: Elliott Farrar.

Links:

May 24, 2021
44: Top 5 ways to procrastinate
3135

Guest


Bryony Williams


Your favourite rockstar with a watergun, once compared to a young Fiona Apple.


Mark is joined by super-talented singer-songwriter Bryony Williams. Bryony realised she could sing in her early teens, and spent most of her mid-to-late teens honing her craft. At nineteen she was in the electro-pop duo Field Harmonics, and has been recording solo since 2018.

Bryony’s picks

In order of discussion:

Cleaning

Number one – with not so much a bullet as a scented wet wipe – for Bryony, and for so many, is cleaning. It’s a great way to see a problem and eliminate it with extreme prejudice; perfect for those times when you just don’t want to tackle that spreadsheet.

Spontaneous trips out with pals

You’ve got a job to do, and then your friend calls you up and asks if you want to go on a day trip. Are you honestly going back to work, or are you grabbing your keys and heading out the door? At least if the job doesn’t get done today, you can chalk it off to research.

The mobile

Whether it’s watching videos on YouTube or TikTok, endlessly doomscrolling or looking at people impersonating the Simpsons, our phones are several-hundred-pound procrastination engines.

Bingewatching

Any kind of TV binge can be a great way to tell ourselves we’re feeding our souls. And perhaps we are, but maybe crime documentaries aren’t the thing are brain needs right before we’re supposed to write that tricky email.

Mark’s picks

In order of discussion

Over-planning the task

Mark is not necessarily a planner by nature, but make him anxious about a thing, or give him a thing to do that he really doesn’t want to, and watch him plan and research to the nth degree.

Organising and taxonomising

A great example of this is tagging faces and locations in digital photo collections, or fixing the metadata in your music library (if you’re still the kind of person who has one, and doesn’t get all their music from a streaming service). It’s horrifically addictive to a certain brain type.

Putting the kettle on

It could be making a pot of tea, putting on a pot of coffee, or just crunching through a handful of dry roasted peanuts, filling the face is an excellent way to solve a problem – that perhaps doesn’t exist – before you really get down to the task at hand.

Pet-bothering

If you’ve got cats, they probably don’t want your affection right now. They’ll let you know when that sort of thing is appropriate. Dogs are a different story of course, but almost any pet can sense when you’re paying them attention in order to avoid paying attention to the thing you don’t want to be doing.

Honourable mentions
  • Imagining hypotheticals
  • Bargaining
  • Gardening

More of Bryony Williams

You can get a limited edition copy of Bryony’s EP Growing / Fading, and follow her on Instagram or Twitter for more.

Links


Apr 27, 2021
43: Top 5 positive tech developments for musicians
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Guest


Ella Gregg


Founder of artist management and development company 321 Artists.


Mark kicks off a music mini-season with artist manager Ella Gregg, who’s been supporting emerging music artists since she was a teenager.

Tech has always been an important aspect of Ella’s work, including her early days helping artists get their work played in films or adverts.

Ella’s picks

In order of discussion

Livestreaming

Over the lockdown period, artists have needed to adapt in order to survive, and the ability to livestream gigs has been a lifeline. The fact gigs were no longer bound to a specific geography made them more accessible to audiences that otherwise might not have got the chance to see new artists play. But playing to a camera does bring its own challenges, which Ella can speak to directly.

Multi-participant video calling

We’ve all had it up to here with “Zoom fatigue”, but services like Zoom have been invaluable over the past year, and just as with livestreaming, voice and video over IP have given musicians, producers, and songwriters the opportunity to collaborate with people they wouldn’t have otherwise.

Digital audio workstations

DAWs are an important addition to the modern musician’s toolkit. You can go as simple as Apple’s GarageBand or as complex as ProTools and beyond. Ella picked the DAW as it gives emerging artists the chance to craft a great sound, or at least record a rough demo, without having to pay for studio time.

Music recognition algorithms

If you’re in your 30s, you might remember ringing a number on your feature phone, holding it up to a speaker in a pub or a café for 30 seconds, and then getting a text with the name of the song that was playing. Now, we take services like Shazam for granted, as music ID tech is pretty much built into our voice assistants, but to some of us it still feels like magic. Plus, services like it are incredibly valuable to emerging artists whose music appears on TV or in adverts.

Social ads

Advertising on social media sites like Facebook, Instagram and Twitter can put your work in front of exactly the right people, based on their likes and location. Ella uses social video ads successfully in her business, and has seen other artists do the same.

Mark’s picks

In order of discussion

Loop pedal

Mark picked this piece of kit for its ability to help solo musicians create layered sounds, with something as minimal as a guitar, or with a whole set of instruments being played consecutively.

Handheld SD card recorder

The best ones are made by a company called Zoom (not that one), and give musicians the chance to create high-quality recordings wherever they are, either by using the in-built mic, or by plugging in one or up to four mics.

Music distribution services

Mark was introduced to Amuse a couple of years ago, which is a mobile app based distribution platform that makes it super-simple to release tracks to Apple Music, Spotify, Amazon Music, and everywhere else, completely for free.

iPad

Combining a handheld recorder and a DAW, the iPad gives musicians access to a portable multitrack recording studio, combined with the ability to release tracks to the Internet directly from the same device.

YouTube

Although the relationship between creator and platform is often contentious, YouTube has provided a megaphone to a raft of artists who now sell out venues.

Honourable mentions
  • Collaborative workspaces
  • Social media scheduling

More of Ella Gregg

You can find Ella at 321 Artists, where you can sign up for her mailing list to get exclusive downloads you won’t find elswhere.

Links


Apr 20, 2021
42: Top 5 fictional librarians
3882

Guest


Owen Stephens


Librarian. “What else is there to say?”


Many people are intrigued by the depiction of their profession in popular fiction, and none more so than librarians, like this week’s guest Owen Stephens.

Owen’s picks

In order of discussion:

Bunny Watson

The TV company researcher and librarian played by Katharine Hepburn in the 1957 film Desk Set is top of Owen’s list for her quick wit and style. The film itself is a story that could be told today, and has perhaps only become more prescient.

Lirael

“It’s better to be a librarian than part of the collection”, so goes the advice given to the librarian in Garth Nix’s Old Kingdom series of novels, who uses her place of work as a means of escape and exploration.

Oswald Bates

Played by Timothy Spall in Stephen Poliakoff’s Shooting the Past – because that’s exactly who you cast – Bates fights tooth and nail against property developers intent on turning the stately home that houses his library into a business school.

Tammy Swanson

Tammy II, as she is less-than-affectionately known in the US sitcom Parks and Recreation, is the Deputy Director of Library Services in Pawnee Indiana, played blindingly by Megan Mullally. Although she has broken Ron’s heart on multiple occasions, driven him to distraction and corn rows, the worst thing about her is that “she works for the library”.

Mark’s picks

In order of discussion:

Horace Worblehat

The Unseen University is the school of wizardry in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld series of novels, games and TV films. Its librarian is an orangutan who once purportedly went by the name of Horace Worblehat, but was turned into an ape via a magical accident in the first Discworld novel, and found that “being an orangutan has certain advantages”.

Mrs Phelps

Mark picked the kind woman at the desk of the public library frequented by Roald Dahl’s Matilda as his second choice, as she was the catalyst that propelled our heroine forwards, allowing her to explore and unlock more knowledge.

Brooks Hatlen

For his third pick, Mark went with the librarian at Shawshank prison, in the Stephen King short story Rita Hayworth and the Shawshank Redemption from Different Seasons. His [spoiler alert] death is what sets up the expectation of Red’s post-prison life

Joe Bookman

The “library cop” Lt Bookman, played by Philip Baker Hall is Mark’s sitcom pick. His job is to track down “library delinquets” like our hero Jerry Seinfeld. See him in action.

Honourable mentions

More of Owen Stephens

You can follow @ostephens on Twitter, or find him working on the Folio open source library project.

Links


Mar 30, 2021
41: Top 5 biopics
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Guest


Aaron Conway


Co-host of The Third Wheel podcast.


Whether they cover an entire life or centre on a pivotal moment, biopics are often Oscar fodder, and are frequently conic. In this episode, Mark and podcaster and web developer Aaron Conway get straight down to business, ranking the best biopics around.

Aaron’s picks

In order of discussion:

The Social Network

Aaron goes straight in with the Fincher/Sorkin collaboration that tells the story of Facebook founder Mark Zuckerberg up until his court battle with the Winklevoss twins. It’s a top pick for Aaron as it helped pave the way for an interest and then career in tech.

Rocketman

While most biopics arguably strive for some level of accuracy, this Dexter Fletcher musical biopic of Elton John throws realism to the wind, while stillk eeping true to the man behind the piano and the massive glasses.

The Wolf of Wall Street

Aaron picks Scorsese’s Jordan Belfort for its fast pace and storytelling that both beckons you in but also makes you think “can this really have happened?”

Dangal

This big budget Bollywood film tells the story of former wrestler Mahavir Singh Phogat, played by the director Amir Khan, who pushes his daughters into the world he wished he could have pushed his sons, if he had them.

Marvellous

This might be easy to overlook, but Aaron was taken with this story of the life of Neil Baldwin, which plays with the form by including the subject alongside the actor playing him (in this case, Toby. Jones), as the subject. It’s all very meta. You should watch it.

Mark’s picks

In order of discussion:

Shadowlands

This love story between author CS Lewis and poet Joy Gresham hit Mark right in the feels when he saw this at the end of 2019. It’s a quiet story about a quiet man who was given an all-too-brief glimpse of love.

Stan and Ollie

Although Laurel and Hardy mean increasingly little to younger generations, they’re part of a history we can trace back, and one that bridges the gap between the British variety scene and Hollywood’s golden age.

Hillbilly Elegy

This Ron Howard film, based on a young man’s memoir, is emotional at best and heart-wrenching at worst. A compelling story portrayed by Glenn Close, Amy Adams and Gabriel Basso, that has big and bold characters without drawing lines between heroes and villains.

Lion

Apart from linking nicely to Aaron’s first pick by way of Rooney Mara, Lion is a solid pick for Mark for the gripping retelling of Saroo Brierley’s return to India after he was adopted by a Tasmanian couple who found him in India a thousand miles away from home.

Private Parts

Perhaps unsurprisingly, Mark enjoyed a particular radio style growing up. In America, that style was epitomised by people like Howard Stern, and although society has largely outgrown that personality type, there are still some performances Mark cherishes, mostly from Paul Giamatti.

Honouarble mentions

Mark and Aaron discussed these after recording had finished, but they still deserve a mention.

More of Aaron Conway

You can follow @aaronconway7 on Twitter and on Instagram, and make sure to check out his podcast, The Third Wheel.

Links


Mar 23, 2021
40: Top 5 subtly life-changing non-fiction books
516

Guest


Eliza Lita


Europe Editor for The Meridian magazine. Top writer in Books and Reading on Medium.


Journalist Eliza Lita is a self-confessed bookworm, but her early reading focused more on non-fiction work. As a result, she’s picked up a wide variety of useful knowledge, and kept her curiosity alive. She and Mark share an appreciation for good crime fiction, and Eliza has some tips to help Mark finish the books he keeps starting.

Eliza’s picks

In order of discussion:

Ikigai: The Japanese Secret to a Long and Happy Life

Eliza’s first pick is life-changing for her, in a less-than-subtle way. This book can help you connect with your reason-for-being, and could even help you live to 100.

The Face: A Time Code

How many times do you really look in the mirror? In this book, author Ruth Ozeki does just that… but for a really long time.

Sleep Well: Everything You Need to Know for a Good Night’s Rest

This book helped Eliza navigate through her sleep procrastination. It has a lot of useful, practical advice for improving your sleep hygiene, including a powerful visualisation technique.

Beyond Mars and Venus: Relationship Skills for Today’s Complex World

This book unpacks the differences between the way men and women think, and a more constructive manner than the “men are from Mars” style books of the previous generation.

Lady in Waiting: My Extraordinary Life in the Shadow of the Crown

Eliza’s fascination with the British royal family is piqued with this memoir by peeress Anne Glenconner. If you’re ready to take another look at the stereotypes and the lives behind The Crown, this book comes highly recommended by Eliza.

Mark’s picks

In order of discussion:

The Chimp Paradox: The Mind Management Programme to Help You Achieve Success, Confidence and Happiness

This self-help book is Mark’s top pick as it had a dramatic effect on the way he approached the part of the brain that keeps us safe, but also keeps us mired in shame and self-doubt.

Self Compassion

This book challenges the hitherto lauded notions of “self-belief”, instead demonstrating that we’re all worthy of love and compassion – even when we make mistakes – because we’re human.

The Infinite Game

This Simon Sinek book helped Mark concentrate less on his small business competitors, and focus more on his ultimate aim.

Three Men in a Boat

Although this might not be everyone’s first thought when it comes to non-fiction, Jerome K Jerome’s travelogue has some hilarious moments that opened Mark’s eyes to a style of humour he’d previously been unaware of.

Alexander Hamilton

The book that inspired the smash hit musical is Mark’s final pick, as the work it inspired changed his life in a less than subtle way.

Honourable mentions

More of Eliza

You can read Eliza’s writings on Medium, and follow @lita_eliza on Twitter. Eliza is also Europe Editor for The Meridian magazine, and you can read some of her contributions there.

Links


Mar 16, 2021
39: Top 5 rewards of urban walking
2659

Guest


Sue Burlton


Paediatric ICU nurse passionate about her career and her children.


Mark is joined by nature lover and avid walker Sue Burlton, and together they uncover the joys of a good stretch of the legs. If you’re planning a stroll, this will make excellent accompaniment.

Sue’s picks

In order of discussion:

Wildlife

You might be surprised how much wildlife is available for you to see, even in an urban space, so let the dog off the lead for a bit and take a look through the trees and the hedgerows and see what you can spot.

Green space

Trees are good for us, berries are often plentiful, and flowers are pretty. Look, it needed to be said, and now it has been. Flowers are pretty, dammit. Look at the flowers. (Not in a Walking Dead sense, just look at them all pretty like they are.)

The canals of Birmingham

It’s an oft-recited — and completely wrong — boast that Birmingham has more miles of canals than Venice, and it’s usually spoken by people who’ve missed the point of Venice entirely. But Birmingham’s canal network is a lovely thing to be part of, whether in a bot, on a boat, or near a boat.

Seven Wonders walk

In the mid-2000s, a group of young environmentalists created a circular walking trail that brings walkers in contact with some of the lovely things Sue’s local area has to offer, from the mill pond to the Dingle.

Discovering history

Walking tours and trails give us a chance to discover and reconnect with aspects of our history. You might have to venture further online than a quick Google search as so much is buried in local knowhow passed around orally, but it’s worth it. Plus, a savvy Internet-connected individual such as yourself could be just the person to help preserve it.

Mark’s picks

In order of discussion:

Time to yourself

A long walk gives us the chance to get away from the world for a few minutes, and be unproductive (in the traditional sense) through the disconnection from the Internet and the occupation of your hands and eyes.

It doesn’t have to be a means to an end

If you don’t like the thought of exercise, for whatever reason, a walk has good practical value too, as you can stroll to the shops instead of catching the bus or jumping in the car. You can also use walk as play, and take part in a geocache.

Time offline

It’s not often you have a good excuse nowadays to not be available. The benefit of taking a long walk is that, even if you’re reachable in a workplace catastrophe, there’s probably not much you can do about it, and even if you could, you have a ready-made excuse.

Collecting things

Whether you’re collecting pinecones, conkers, or in Mark’s case, sounds, collecting is a good way to give purpose to a walk, or add a few extra achievement points to your exercise.

Spend time with someone

Although there are great benefits to walking alone, you can get even more by walking with someone you love, or at the very least you like. In times of social distancing, it’s a great way to safely meet someone you might normally only see in the pub.

More of Sue Burlton

You can follow Sue on Twitter @sueburly.

Links


Mar 02, 2021
38: Top 5 point-and-click adventure games
3034

Guest

Valerie Paris


Creator of games, immersive media, and broken dreamthings.


Developer of horror video games including Butterfly Collector, Valerie Paris joins Mark to discuss point-and-click adventure games you’ll remember, and one or two you’ll never forget, no matter how hard you try.

Valerie is too young to have played many of these games when they originally came out, but has made up for that

Valerie’s picks

In order of discussion:

Grim Fandango

This wildly popular and hilarious swashbuckling RPG from LucasArts is close to so many hearts, and it is to Mark’s eternal chagrin that he has still yet to play it. Go north, pick up thing, put thing in other thing, and hope for a resolution.

Myst

Perhaps one of the most well-known and well-regarded games of the genre and era, the atmospheric Myst is Valerie’s second pick because of its genre-defining quality and because it ran everywhere.

Still Life

A slightly more modern pick, Still Life is set in two different time periods, allowing you to play as two different characters — a police detective and her grandfather — solving related murder mysteries. Valerie describes it as “if David Fincher directed a serial killer murder mystery point-and-click”.

Loom

Perhaps one of the more obscure LucasArts offerings, Valerie’s fourth pick is a beautifully colourful and innovative game that turns the verbing-the-noun trope on its head, allowing you to perform spells and control time by playing musical notes in a particular direction.

Bad Day on the Midway

This game is meant to be a little bit scary and creepy, but there’s a chance its uncanny valley nature has propelled it from creepy to nightmare-inducing. In order to complete the game, you have to play through as a number of different characters, to get the full horrifying perspective. It’s also possible to kill off the main characters, thus making the game impossible to complete, so that’s fun.

Mark’s picks

In order of discussion:

Day of the Tentacle

Mark’s list kicks off with another LucasArts classic, a story told in the past, the present, and the future, in which you play as three characters who have to save the world from the invasion of slimy tentacle creatures, hell bent on taking over the world.

Little Big Adventure

Not to be confused with Little Big Planet, LBA (or Relentless: Twinsen’s Adventure) as it was for some reason known in North America, is a pretty chilled-out, cozy adventure in which you play a sort-of dissident whose prophetic dreams of your planet’s discovery make the ruler nervous.

Discworld

This funny, very long and often infuriating point-and-click adventure set in Terry Pratchett’s Discworld is perhaps better than it has any right to be, based on the voice talent alone.

Under a Killing Moon

This strange point-and-click first-person interactive movie combined slapstick comedy, gratuitous use of green screen and a Blade Runner aesthetic to create a detective film noir experience like nothing… except perhaps its sequels (one of which is still in development).

Space Quest IV: Roger Wilco and the Time Rippers

In this funny sequel within the popular Space Quest series published by Sierra, you play as space-janitor Roger Wilco. It is your job to avoid the Sequel Police who are intent on putting a stop to your existence, which sees you chased throughout space, ending up in a mall where you make burgers and try on women’s clothes.

Honourable mentions

More of Valerie Paris

You can follow @UncannyVallerie on Twitter and on Itch to experience her games, and look out for Apolysis when it arrives.

Go deeper

Links


Feb 23, 2021
37: Top 5 tips for working in the creative sector
4971

Guest


David Webb


Creative Director at WeAreBeard.


Mark is joined by the Creative Director at Worcester-based design, branding and development agency WeAreBeard, Dave Webb, to share his top tips for working in the kind of field that your mum told you you should have a backup for.

Dave remembers the first day he was praised for drawing something good, instead of being made to feel like he was falling behind academically, which is where his affinity for creative work began.

A creative person’s priorities often don’t fit in with a “professional” culture, which can lead to clashes, of which both Mark and Dave have experience.

Dave’s tips

In order of discussion:

Don’t have a plan B

Make an achievable, flexible plan and work towards it. Consider subsidising it if you can’t make a living at it, and keep a record of your success so you can measure how far along you are.

Be childlike, but not childish

A child’s enthusiasm is an inspirational thing to keep around, as it gives us curiosity and wonder, making us more receptive. A child’s attitude to criticism… not so much.

Be excited by your work

If you’re not excited about your work, you can’t expect anyone else to be. That goes not only for the work that you create from whole cloth, but the ideas presented to you, or even professional briefs. If you enjoy working on a project, that enjoyment shines through, but the inverse is also true.

Failing is learning

Don’t be afraid to make a mistake, because chances are you’ll make lots of them as you’re starting out, but making those mistakes, figuring out what went wrong is what equips you to do better next time.

It’s a numbers game

Looping back to Dave’s original point, your time will come if you stick at what you want to do, and wait out the competition who give up too soon.

Mark’s tips

In order of discussion:

Be supportive

If encountering others’ work, whether you’re being asked to critique or not, focus on the things that matter, rather than what might be elements of technique alone that can be improved.

Be stubborn

Some people ask “why?” instead of “why not?”, so in those moments where someone doesn’t see the worth in what you see, maybe it’s time to dig your heels in and advocate for your thing.

Run your own race

If you’re running a race ,while you need to keep half an eye on your competitors o you know when to push ahead, your primary focus should be on the finish line. With creativity, we need to compare sparingly and in context.

Use what you have to hand

If you can’t afford the latest up-to-date music creation software, or the most-expensive DSLR camera, that doesn’t make you less of a musician or photographer — your work is in you, not your tools. Yes, they can make the creative process easier, but “XKCD isn’t successful because it looks great”.

Take all advice with a pinch of salt

Your goal is to improve on the work you did yesterday, not to improve on someone else’s. This is your art, your work, your creativity, and your choices.

Honourable mentions
  • Dress for the industry you’ll be working in, not what you think you’re supposed to wear.
  • Show your work in an email; don’t send a precursor and wait for an invitation.
  • If you’ve sent a legitimate email, don’t be afraid to follow up (this doesn’t apply unless you know the full name of the person you’re emailing, and you have their permission to email).

More of Dave Webb

Follow Dave on Instagram and @illustratteddave, and check out the wonderful WeAreBeard, of which he is Creative Director.

Go further

Links


Feb 16, 2021
36: Top 5 time-travel romance films
3016

Guest


Karl Hodge


University Course Director, and former tech journalist, currently researching VR and narrative.


Time-travel films are often about fixing the big things, so says this week’s guest, Karl Hodge, but time-travel romance films address the small things that keep us awake at night.

Mark and Karl begin by looking at some of Christopher Nolan’s work, from Memento to Tenet, and trying to figure out whether they qualify as time-travel films.

Groundhog Day

This early time-loop film has not only spawned films in a similar vein, it’s effectively become its own genre, spanning TV and film.

Back to the Future

Yes there may be better films in the trilogy, but Mark picked the first because, well, it’s the first, but also because it has some unique romantic, and anti-romantic plot dynamics.

The Time Traveler’s Wife

Karl chose this 2009 film, adapted from the book, partly as it countered his worry that it wouldn’t match up to the wildly popular source material. Its placement in Karl’s list obviously puts paid to that.

About Time

As much as it is a Richard Curtis film with all the trappings of a Richard Curtis film, this ranked highly in Mark’s list because of its sweetness. But it does have some holes, as the pair explore.

Kate & Leopold

Karl picked this fish-out-of-water story as a bit of an undiscovered gem. You could do worse than pick up a pint of a frozen dairy product and enjoy this sweet film.

Safety Not Guaranteed

Mark Duplass and Aubrey Plaza star in this as-yet-unseen-by-Mark pick, but the good news is Karl has seen it and can totally vouch for it.

The Lake House

While time-travel feels like a character in most of the pair’s picks, this film from 2006 takes a more subdued approach, focusing on the conflict the distance in time creates.

Happy Accidents

Mark’s final pick is from 2000, in which a woman meets a man from 470 years in the future. It’s one that had passed Karl by, so consider the homework set!

Time After Time

Also known as Time Freak, Karl’s final pick teaches us that any film or TV show called Time After Time – whether that’s its original name or not – is worth checking out. This one is particularly worth checking out as it focuses, not on the needs of the time-traveller, but on the chaos that can be left in the wake of someone without regard for proper time-travel etiquette.

Links


Jan 26, 2021
35: Top 5 people from Birmingham
3031

Guest


Rusty Nails


Musician, DJ, producer, dreamer! One third of Titans of Doom.


This week’s guest is musician, DJ and producer Kevin Kerr, and on the list is top people from Birmingham in the UK, or as we have them, Brummies.

Benjamin Zephaniah

Kevin’s first pick is the poet and performer who might be best known to non-UK listeners as the priest in Peaky Blinders, but Benjamin’s words have touched both he and Mark, which is why he features highly on both of their lists.

Stewart Lee

Mark’s pick was instrumental in British comedy from the 90s onwards, and remains one of the UK’s most well-respected stand-ups. It also gave the pair the opportunity to reminisce about an obscure and overlooked TV gem, called Time Trumpet.

Tony Iommi

If Mark had allowed Kevin to pick Black Sabbath as a whole, then perhaps he would’ve, but as that would cause incalculable damage to the podcast format, he picked this superhuman heavy metal legend.

John Cadbury

What better Brummie could Mark choose than the inventor of chocolate, and the father of the inventors of Bournville (sort of)?… even if Mark never got to go to Cadbury World, the closest thing that passes for a theme park in Birmingham.

Mike Skinner

Kevin reopens old wounds for Mark with this pick, the front man – or only man? – of the Streets, and one of Mark’s mortal enemies (although Mike wouldn’t know it). Can Mark keep a clean streak and knock Mike off the final list?

John Oliver

Arguably one of the most successful Brits working in the US today, Mark’s pick is a surprise-Brummie. Host of Last Week Tonight, and former guest-host of The Daily Show, former co-host of the Bugle podcast, former Smurf, and current Zazu… you get it.

Pat Malloy

Originally from Galway in Ireland, Pat moved to Spark Hill in Birmingham, and was the linchpin of Irish music within the centre of the city. He makes Kevin’s list by virtue of the quiet influence he exercised throughout the community.

Janice Connolly

Janice’s character Barbara Nice has made it to national TV on multiple occasions, and she is a mainstay of the Birmingham comedy scene.

Joe Lycett

Kevin’s choice is people’s champion, regular Channel 4 panel-show contributor, hilarious stand-up comic and extremely local-to-Mark-boy, Joe Lycett.

Honourable mentions

More of Rusty Nails

Follow @RustyNailsBeats on Twitter and listen to Titans of Doom’s latest single, Rise Up, in aid of the Northfield Community Partnership food bank.

Go further

Links


Jan 19, 2021
34: Top 5 moments of anarchism
5200

Guest


Liam Barrington-Bush


Helping keep neighbourhoods undesirable. Hip-hop. Anarchism. Community is the answer.


This week’s guest is Liam Barrington-Bush, a Bristol-based activist who helps organisations think more like people, and has loads of real-world experience of how people can govern themselves, build their own systems, and get closer to achieving what they want, without having those systems handed down to them.

After years of community activism and disillusionment with political systems, Liam discovered that people were capable of remarkable things when they weren’t being told what to do. Mark and Liam discuss the way the Internet has enabled or changed activism, but allowing information to spread to places that wouldn’t ordinarily be affected or invested. They also examine what happens after the dust has settled.

Argentine Occupy Factory movement

In the early 2000s, the Argentine economy tanked, and capital fled, so a number of factory workers began to challenge the notion of why they needed bosses in the first place, forming democratic assemblies to determine how to run the factories and even what they should produce.

Indignados movement

Following mass unemployment in Spain, a group of bloggers put together a manifesto calling for a demonstration. Thousands turned up, making camp in a Madrid square, and refusing to leave. The protests turned into a political movement with the English-translated name of “We Can”.

People’s uprising in Oaxaca, Mexico

In 2006, a teachers’ strike was exacerbated by the Mexican government dropping tear gas from helicopters onto the strikers. Although public will wasn’t initially behind the teachers, protests began to form in reaction to the government’s heavy-handed approach. Protesters eventually ousted the police and military forces from the city of Oaxaca, built their own barricades against the country’s military, and started holding twice-daily community assemblies.

Singing Revolution

In the mid 1980s, the then USSR was relaxing its laws on free speech in the hopes of quelling unrest. Meanwhile in Estonia, fear and anger over the dumping of phosphorite led to protests in which people would gather and sing Estonian protest songs. The movement spread to other baltic countries, until 1991, when Estonia regained its independence from Russia.

Sweets Way regeneration

In 2015, Liam was involved with a community in Barnet, London, who were fighting eviction and forced relocation to housing outside of the city. Once evicted, property developers who owned the buildings would make the flats unliveable, by destroying fixtures and fittings, so as a group, the remaining residents decided to occupy and rebuild the homes, together, as a way of demonstrating that these properties were still fit for purpose. Within days, people who’d been forced to relocate banded with the current residents, community members and squatters, using whatever they had to hand to give the properties the attention they needed and maintain dozens of them as homes for over 7 months.

Inner-London squatting in the 70s

At the height of housing shortages in the 70s, over thirty thousand people were living in squats in London, which led to the formation of the Advisory Service for Squatters which published the Squatter’s Handbook, and were instrumental in the Sweets Way occupation.

Rojava devolution

From his Turkish prison, guerrilla Marxist and Kurdish freedom fighter Abdullah Öcalan began reading writings on communalism by New Yorker Murray Bookchin, and developing a model for building a free society for the Kurdish people, which involves making decisions as close to the ground as possible, and has led to greater empowerment of women, a focus on environmentalism, and transformations in the justice system.

Even in the midst of a warzone in Northeast Syria, hundreds of thousands of Kurds (and other regional residents) have managed to practice a direct and localised form of democracy for several years, while being at the forefront of the succesful fight against ISIS’ advances in the region.

Sous les pavés, la plage!

In May 1968, protests at a Paris university led to its shutdown, with students refusing to leave, and as the conflict escalated, the French government responded with aggression. Sympathy with the protesters spread, leading to workers striking in solidarity, calls for a new government, and the fleeing of then President Charles de Gaulle. A full-on revolution was prevented after the government collapsed, and the message, translated into English as “under the paving stones, the beach!” became emblematic of the protests, as people tore up the paving slabs to find sand beneath.

Viome factory occupation

After a factory in Thessaloniki, Greece, was set to fold following the bosses’ desertion in the wake of the financial crisis, the workers took it over, and renamed it to Viome, bringing in some of the people who’d help reform the factories in Buenos Aires. The people fought off attacks from the returning factory owners and the local community rallied around them. As a result, they transformed the output of the factory from toxic adhesives to affordable, eco-friendly household cleaning products.

Rage Against the Machine for Christmas #1

Following years of ITV shows deciding what should be the UK’s Christmas #1 — back when that felt important — a Facebook campaign was setup to encourage people to buy or download Rage Against the Machine’s 1991 hit Killing in the Name, so that it could beat the then X Factor winner Joe McElderry’s single The Climb. In some ways this was a spiritual successor to 2005’s story of Nizlopi whose JCB Song was, contrary to Mark’s memory, kept from the top slot by that year’s X Factor winner.

Honourable mentions

More of Liam Barrington-Bush

Follow Liam on Twitter @hackofalltrades, and check out his website.

Go further

Links


Jan 12, 2021
33: Top 5 golden-age arcade games
4587

Guest


Nicholas Bond


Creator of the Retrogame Deconstruction Zone, focusing on early 1982.


Today Mark is talking the golden age of arcade games, which ran from 1979 til around 1983. Mark and Nick start with their own childhood arcade memories, and Mark gets quizzical about the American quarter as a “unit of fun”. As this was recorded during the Quarantimes, conversation inevitably turned to the decline in in-person entertainment like arcades and cinemas.

Pac-Man

Nick’s first pick is the 800lb gorilla in the arcade, a game in which many other video game historians aren’t in love. Nick tells Mark about how he discovered a later-in-life love for the game, and gives a little behind-the-scenes colour on the game’s nascent AI.

Space Invaders

Mark’s first pick is almost the quintessential video game, but this iconic selection raises complex feelings in our listmate, due to its incredibly repetitive nature.

Defender

You can write a book on how many different strategies that can be used to play this 1981 shooter. It would go on to influence a great number of side-scrolling shooters in arcades and in the home.

Pole Position

Mark remembers sitting in a Pole Position cabinet, many years after the game has passed its peak, but this simple prototypical racer was a firm favourite and lived long into the 90s.

Mario Bros

Rather than picking its predecessor Donkey Kong, Nick elected to go with the beautiful, joyous Mario Bros. Can you believe Mark has never played a Mario platformer? Sacrilege.

Paperboy

From back when the pinnacle of video game destruction involved knocking over someone’s garden furniture or perhaps smashing in a window, Paperboy is Mark’s third pick

Galaga

At a time when many arcade games introduced random elements to make them operate a little more like slot machines, Galaga gave players the chance to learn and improve with each new pass.

Asteroids

Mark’s final pick is a classic to those who remember it, but hasn’t perhaps been passed down through the generations like some of the others discussed. The physics in the game are pretty impressive, and it does give us the chance to learn a little more about vector graphics.

Robotron 2048

Nick describes this as possibly being the single best action game of its era, but the maximalist explosions bely the deep strategical nature of the game. It was an early innovator in that it employed two joysticks: one for moving, and another for firing.

Honourable mentions

More on Nicholas Bond

Nick blogs at the Retrogame Deconstruction Zone, and you can find him on Twitter @MrVGBrow.

More links

Links


Jan 05, 2021
32: Spooky stories: Part 2
2401

Guests


Catherine Turner


Cat presents Cat’s Cabinet of Curiosities with Tom Clabon, a show about conspiracy theories, cults, cryptozoology, crime and conundrums.




Tom Clabon


Co-producer of Cat’s Cabinet of Curiosities. general comedy/films/music person.


Mark is joined once more by Cat Turner and Tom Clabon to swap spooky stories. If you haven’t already checked out part one, you can do so now.

The call is coming from inside the house

Turns out this old teenage favourite – that feels like it could only happen in the 90s – may be based on some true events.

The Boston Dynamics robot fights back

Corridor Digital presented this video to the world, which shows a Boston Dynamics robot finally rising up against its human oppressors. It was of course later revealed to be a very good fake. Or was it? Yes, yes it was. OR WAS IT? Yep.

Petscop

Petscop is a supposedly haunted Playstation game from the late 90s or early 2000s, whose gameplay is chronicled on YouTube. Either that, or it’s a creepypasta ARG.

The Young Ones’ fifth housemate

If you remember this anarchic comedy from the 80s, you might not be aware that there existed, in a few shots, a creepy-looking silent housemate sat in a corner with hair over their face and hands on their knees. Little would the show’s directors know that twenty-some years later this would become a symbol of absolute terror.

Links


Dec 31, 2020
31: Spooky stories: Part 1
2814

Guests


Catherine Turner


Cat presents Cat’s Cabinet of Curiosities with Tom Clabon, a show about conspiracy theories, cults, cryptozoology, crime and conundrums.




Tom Clabon


Co-producer of Cat’s Cabinet of Curiosities. general comedy/films/music person.


List Envy is back in the new year with a new slate of guests and lists. To get us back into the spirit, Mark called up previous guests Cat Turner and Tom Clabon to swap “scary ghost stories”, as is tradition, according to It’s the Most Wonderful Time of the Year, which is a Christmas song.

Mothman

Cat has an enclyopaedic knowledge of this cryptid, and covered him… it?… at great length in an episode of Cat’s Cabinet of Curiosities.

Cropsey

Cropsey was a New York urban legend, but according to a 2009 documentary, there may be some truth behind it.

Talking Angela

This smartphone app from 2012 had certain corners of the Internet aflutter, and forced the company who mae it to put out a rather unusual, and bold, statement.

Olivia Mabel

Spoiler alert: this one isn’t real, but it’s really spooky… apart from one dead giveaway. Good job on the website though.

The body under the bed

Turns out this common childhood fear might not be entirely unfounded. Try not to have nightmares, and also don’t let your dogs lick your hand sight unseen.

Russian sleep experiment

Another piece of creepypasta, but a good one, especially if you’re in no rush to get some shut-eye.

Links


Dec 22, 2020
30: Top 5 UK garden birds
3546

Guest


Suzy Buttress


Birdwatcher, nature lover, and host of the Casual Birder podcast.

Suzy Buttress (@suzybee_2) • Instagram photos and videos



Mark chats with casual birder Suzy Buttress about features, song and flight.

Suzy has specific criteria she uses to judge the quality of birds (which makes her a List Envy natural): song, plumage, behaviour and impact on the garden. She also provides some great advice if you’re looking to feed the birds, without becoming the crazy pigeon lady from Home Alone, or spreading plants that shouldn’t be spread.

Honourable mentions

Suzy’s picks

In order of discussion:

Robin

This nearly didn’t make Suzy’s list as it’s not obscure enough for a bird lover, but she appreciates the “gardener’s bird” for its beautiful song, iconic plumage, and its personality.

Blue tit

A small acrobatic garden bird with striking plumage, the blue tit provides good alarm calls for other birds, but you’ll want to keep them away from your fruit trees if you’re precious about your fruit.

Blackbird

Confusingly, only the male of the species is black, whereas female blackbirds are in fact brown. Regardless, their song is beautiful and you’ll hear it from rooftops… even if you’re trying to sleep (especially if you live in an area of light pollution).

Bullfinch

Although the male’s plumage is much brighter in northern Europe, they’re still striking in their red and orange, with the females a coffee colour.

Mark’s picks

In order of discussion:

Goldfinch

According to Suzy, goldfinches were originally kept in cages because they had such a beautiful song. If you’re maintaining your garden during the autumn, you might want to think about leaving thistles and dandelions around, as they provide seeds.

House sparrow

The UK has lost 70% of these little pinstriped birds, but have been introduced worldwide thanks to good old colonisation. Suzy especially appreciates listening to their gossipy tones, and thinks we need to do more to value them.

Chaffinch

Once the most populous bird in the UK, this David Dickinson lookalike — to Mark’s eyes, at least — has a distinctive trill towards the end of its call. If you’re planning a visit to a stately home, you might see some chaffinches, so why not bring along some sunflower hearts?

Magpie

These are smart, mischievous little blighters, that can attack, but have an interesting, chattery song that is often a warning of a looming threat.

Song thrush

They can be mistaken for juvenile blackbirds, and Mark has notes on their call, but the way they kill snails is pretty dark.

More of Suzy Buttress

Listen to the Casual Birder podcast, and get all Suzy’s contact details on her website.

Links


Mar 24, 2020
29: Top 5 films about computers
3851

Guest


Nick Moreton


Coder, teacher, punk, tea lover.


Mark is joined by podcaster and self-confessed computer nerd Nick Moreton, to talk about films where people talk about mainframes and UNIX systems.

There are quite a few swears in this episode, and more than a little discussion about a mutual friend, co-host of Nick’s podcast and Mark’s, and previous List Envy guest, Jon Hickman..

Honourable mentions

Nick’s picks

In order of discussion:

Hackers

This 1995 cyber thriller starring Jonny Lee Miller and Angelina Jolie is essentially the only film Nick wanted to talk about, which he describes as being like the Matrix but if someone spilled coloured paint all over it. It also has exactly the kind of depiction of a computer system you would expect from a mid-90s film.

The Social Network

This 2010 Fincher/Sorkin collaboration is Nick’s second pick because it tells the simple story of someone who created something in their bedroom that then went on to change the world.

The Internet’s Own Boy

This 2014 documentary tells the story of Aaron Swartz, to whom we as Internet denizens owe a debt of gratitude we’ll sadly not get the chance to repay. He co-founded Reddit and helped architect the Creative Commons licensing framework, worked with John Gruber on the text system Markdown, and was involved in the spec that is used to deliver podcasts to millions of people every day.

Wreck-it Ralph

This 2012 CGI kids’ film from 2012 makes Nick’s list purely on merit… no ironic liking here. It’s got video game nods, good performances and a simple, solid storyline. What’s not to love?

Jurassic Park

This 1993 blockbuster might not, at first glance, seem to be about computers. But think about it… it’s a UNIX system, you know this. Like all good films about computers in the 90s, there’s a 3D operating system, unnecessary bleeps and bloops and animation that, had the developers spent as much time on park security as they had on taunting other developers, they might have saved that guy from being eaten off of the toilet.

Mark’s picks

In order of discussion:

The Matrix

Mark’s first pick is a film he knows almost by heart, to the point of being more than a nerd about it. It took him a few go-rounds to fully grok — as the cyberkids say — this ’99 classic, but grok it he did.

eXistenZ

Proving that the mid-to-late 90s is where all the best computery films happened, eXistenZ is a less-than-mainstream adventure through a fully realistic virtual reality game. There are tropes to watch out for if you’re familiar with gaming, and a decent cast.

The Net

Mark was probably in his second year of secondary school when this Sandra Bullock cybercrime thriller came out. Mark didn’t really know much about the Internet when the film came out, but neither did the writers.

Ex Machina

This sizzling near-two-hander between Domhnall Gleeson and Oscar Isaac — with a stand-out performance by Alicia Vikander — makes Mark’s list for its drama, acting, staging, and tension.

Flight of the Navigator

If you’re unfamiliar with this Disney adventure from 1986, think 2001: A Space Odyssey, but more fun, and for kids. David is a boy who gets taken up in a tiny, beautiful shiny ship, and whips around the world at high speed.

More of Nick Moreton

You can keep up with Nick on Twitter, and listen to his running podcast, You Don’t Look Like a Runner

Links


Mar 10, 2020
28: Top 5 Bond villains
3379

Guest


Thom Peterson


Humour, mystery and downright stupid stuff! That’s his middle name….erm…..names.


We look down the barrel of a gun, at a besuited comedy magician called Thom Peterson. He enters centre-frame, aims his gun and fires. Red washes over the screen. Fade to black.

Thom maintains that magicians just want to be Bond, and who can blame him? He and Mark talk about their favourite — and least-favourite — Bonds, the trouble with the E-on canon (which is not a villainous super-weapon), and much more.

Honourable mentions go to Mr Wint and Mr Kidd from Diamonds are Forever. Mark also reveals that he’s looking forward to seeing Rami Malek as the next villain, when No Time to Die hits cinemas in April 2020.

Expect swearing, Bond trivia, an extraordinary amount of incorrect information, and spoilers.

Thom’s picks

In order of discussion:

Francisco Scaramanga

The titular Man with the Golden Gun, played by Christopher Lee makes it to the top of Thom’s list, for deeply personal reason. Also he shot people with gold, was an equal-opportunity employer and liked to bone down before a kill.

Gustav Graves / Colonel Moon

The entrepreneur from Die Another Day is Thom’s next pick for one specific line, which you’ll hear in the episode. (Try and ignore the fact that Mark then launches into talking about GoldenEey, which is a different film).

Xenia Onatopp

If you gotta go, why not get strangled to death by Famke Janssen? Thom enjoys the character and Janssen’s portrayal on merits of psychopathy alone.

Max Zorin

Christopher Walken’s outing as the villain from A View to a Kill is next on Thom’s list, and is a perfect opportunity for them both try out their impersonations. It’s not necessarily a Bond highlight, but it’s Walken, so it makes the list.

Rosa Klebb

Played by Lotte Lenya, Klebb was part of the blueprint for Frau Farbissina, of Austin Powers fame. Thom likes the fact she can go from warm and caring to entirely on fire in the blink of an eye, and she can attack a man with a shoe-blade.

Mark’s picks

In order of discussion:

Ernst Stavro Blofeld

Blofeld has been played by a number of bald men, and Thom suggests that maybe it’s the cat thing that Mark likes about this iconic villain… or is it that Blofeld is very much the archetypical supervillain? Incidentally, Donald Pleasance is the actor Thom is thinking of, who portrayed Blofeld in /You Only Live Twice/, and the film Mark is criticising for having a “bad Bond” is On Her Majesty’s Secret Service, the George Lazenby one.)

Alec Trevelyan

Mark’s second pick (who he keeps calling Alex) is a 006 agent played by Sean Bean. The character has a good death, which is one of Mark’s criteria for judging Bond villains.

Auric Goldfinger

Goldfinger had the simple scheme of eradicating all the gold in Fort Knox, exercising his entirely logical belief that if he couldn’t have all the money, no-one should have any of the money.

Hugo Drax

Mark’s next pick wants to build a new moon kingdom and press people to cucumber sandwiches. He also gave viewers the chance to be reunited with Jaws, one of the best henchpeople (which is perhaps a list for another day).

Renard

Victor Zokas, more commonly konwn as Renard, was portrayed by Robert Carlyle in The World is Not Enough. Mark enjoyed the Carlyle of it all, but also found the character’s backstory interesting. He also had a very good death. Incidentally, Thom is thinking of Denise Richards (not Linda Hamilton) as the woman behind Dr Christmas Jones.

More of Thom Peterson

You can follow @AmazingGuyMagic on Instagram, and find out more about him and his work from his website.

Links


Mar 03, 2020
27: Top 5 journalism films
3456

Guest


Karin Robinson


Host of the Primarily: 2020 podcast. Former Democrats Abroad UK Vice Chair. Edelman UK Planning Director. Mum. Cat lady.


Mark gets to the truth, with political podcaster Karin Robinson, as they share their lists of films about the people who keep the presses running.

Karin hosts the Primarily 2020 podcast, which tracks the ongoing story of the Democratic primaries (the thing where they elect the party’s Presidential candidate). She feels that films about journalism tell the best stories about people engaging with public life.

Honourable mentions

Karin’s picks

In order of discussion:

Spotlight

This double Oscar winner from 2015 is top of Karin’s list partially as it tells a story not far from her original hometown of Boston, but for the performances and of course for the difficult subject matter.

His Girl Friday

This romantic comedy from 1940 is Karin’s second pick, featuring a fast-talking masterclass from Rosalind Russell, and the peerless Cary Grant. If you only see one film about two people using journalism as a sex substitute, make it this one.

Good Night, and Good Luck

Karin’s third pick was Oscar-nominated six times, and was directed and co-written by George Clooney. It follows the story of legendary broadcaster Edward R Murrow (played by David Strathairn) and is, for Karin, about standing up in the face of bullshit.

All the President’s Men

Only a year later than Mark’s first pick, this 70s classic won four Oscars. It’s quiet and considered, and on paper — at least for Karin — should not work, but it earns every breakthrough.

The Post

This is the most-recent of the films in both lists is Karin’s fifth pick, directed by Steven Spielberg and starring Meryl Streep and Tom Hanks. It tells the story of a wealthy heiress who takes over the family business (which happens to be a massive newspaper) whilst the paper works on its biggest scoop ever.

Mark’s picks

In order of discussion:

Network

Mark’s top pick from 1976 won four Oscars including Best Screenplay. He describes it as a collection of bombastic speeches, and its “mad as hell” line is oft-quoted, especially among media studies students.

The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo

Those playing the Dagon Tattoo drinking game can take a drag now, as this 2011 Fincher remake of the Swedish original (based on Stieg Larsson’s book) is second on Mark’s list, not necessarily because it’s the second-best journalism film ever, but it’s a great story with journalism at its heart.

Frost/Nixon

This simmering drama starring Frank Langella and Michael Sheen retells the story of the now infamous meeting-of-minds between disgraced president Nixon and former light-entertainer turned journalist David Frost.

Almost Famous

Written and directed by Cameron Crowe, Mark’s fourth pick is considered by many as something of a coming-of-age classic. It’s a film about sex, drugs and rock-n-roll, all told from the point-of-view of a young — very young — music journalist.

Fear and Loathing in Las Vegas

This 1998 psychedelic film was written and directed by Terry Gilliam, based on the book by Hunter S Thompson, who is credited with inventing the genre of “gonzo journalism”, which puts the writer in the frame of the story, instead of as a passive observer.

More of Karin Robinson

You can follow Karin on Twitter, and make sure to check out her podcast, Primarily 2020, available wherever you get podcasts.

Links


Feb 25, 2020
No episode klaxon
985

No episode this week due to technical issues. We should be back and podcasting again in a week or so, but if you’re interested in the many and varied problems Mark’s had trying to get the laterst episode up, then have a listen.

Also if you’re curious about how Mark thinks about the show going forwards, stay tuned.

If you’re interested, Mark put this episode together mostly on his iPad. He recorded the audio on the Mac, ‘cos that’s where his posh mic sits, but did all the mixing and editing, and even uploading with show notes, on his iPad. Interesting to no-one.

Links


Feb 20, 2020
26: Top 5 geek things that aren’t geeky
3884

Guest


Steve Dawson


Writer (Walliams & Friend, Saturday Night Takeaway, Big School, Dawson Bros Funtime, Mitchell and Webb), Director (Groove Armada, FoD), Host of the Mind Canyon podcast.


Comedy writer and performer Steve Dawson gets nerdy — but not really that nerdy — and talks about the culture and stereotypes around the word “geek”. But also there’s lots of stuff with lasers and electronic music.

Steve talks about the book Laughter, by Robert R Provine, which deals with in-group and out-group mentality, why we laugh and who we follow when we’re laughing, which comes into focus when we ask ourselves why certain things are cool to like, and other things just aren’t.

Get Extra Envy in your inbox

Sign up to the weekly newsletter so you never miss a list, and for some extra nerd stuff you won’t get in the podcast.

Steve’s picks

In order of discussion:

Star Wars

This made the top of Steve’s list because… come on. Even if you’ve not seen Star Wars — which you have — you know enough of the basic blocks to get a surface level joke about it. And yet, knowing so much as a character name is seen as being nerdy.

Synthesisers

Would you call Chainsmokers or the Prodigy nerds? For his second pick, Steve considers artists like Liam Howlett and the Eilishes (Billie and her brother) who make music in their bedrooms, and spend more time tweaking oscillators than “getting some fresh air”.

Collecting

There seems to be a delineation between what it’s acceptable to.collect — porcelain pigs, anyone? — and what is nerdy. Steve uses this moment to confess to a certain collection which, upon reflection, hasn’t necessarily stood the test of time.

Comic-Con

Steve’s fairly new to comic book and pop culture conventions, but enjoys the surprising family-appeal aspect. They’re places of inclusion, where people feel a bit more empowered to let their particular freak flags fly.

Knowing how to use technology

We all know the jokes around being the kid who can programme the DVD player — in our day it was the video recorder — but who now doesn’t have a tiny computer in their pocket, with access to all the world’s information? Having one, it seems, is not geeky… but knowing what to do when it goes wrong? 🤔

Mark’s picks

In order of discussion:

The Big Bang Theory

Mark finds it hard to accept the central premise of the show, and isn’t charmed by what Disney executives think nerd culture means.

Videogames

This was only really hinted at — and there’s more discussion on the subject in the Extra Envy podcast, which you can get by becoming a supporter — but everyone has played some form of videogame, whether it’s on the Wii or in Facebook or on a mobile (on the loo).

Game of Thrones

Yes, it was the most popular show of its time and new episodes broke the Internet shortly after their release, but it has a world behind the beards and the boobs and the dragons that belies its seemingly broad appeal.

Board games

Taletop games can range from the simple to the incredibly complex. Mark mentions card games like Exploding Kittens and Cards Against Humanity, as well as board games like Ticket to Ride, all of which have broad appeal. But shuffle the deck just a little, and you find a whole fantastic world of nerdery beneath the surface.

More of Steve Dawson

You can follow Steve on Twitter, and check out the work of the Dawson Bros (that’s Steve and his writing-partner brother), who have written for Ant & Dec’s Saturday Night Takeaway, Walliams & Friend and Mitchell and Webb. You can — and simply must — also subscribe to the Mind Canyon podcast, a superb mix of improvised comedy and obsessive sound design.

Links


Feb 11, 2020
25: Top 5 types of graphics most often misread
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Guest


Alberto Cairo


Knight Chair at the University of Miami. New book: “How Charts Lie” (WW Norton). Previous: “The Truthful Art” (2016). Consultant and freelancer.


Mark gets political and data-visual with data visualisation expert, Alberto Cairo.

Alberto has a journalism degree and worked as a graphic designer for many years. He now teaches the subject, and quite literally wrote the book on it. Although a lot of what’s covered in this episode is US-centric, Alberto maintains that the misuse of graphics isn’t a partisan problem linked to whether someone’s in a blue state or a red state, but essentially that the right is guilty of bullshitting.

Bullshit is a word you’ll hear a lot in this episode, and especially refreshing in a Spanish accent. But in this context, it has a very specific meaning, with its roots in a book by Harry Frankfurt.

In Alberto’s latest book, How Charts Lie, he reminds us that “a chart shows only what it shows”, and nothing else.

Advisory

In the discussion around Mark’s fourth pick — about 38 minutes in — Mark and Alberto discuss how the question of abortion is tackled within the US, in order to bias survey answers. They don’t get into the actual topic of abortion obviously, but some of the language around it is a little bald.

Alberto’s picks

In order of discussion:

Choropleth map

This type of map which uses colour to represent data was used especially heavily in the 2016 Trump election campaign, to argue the amount of popular support he had. It was recently brought back out of storage with the tagline “Impeach this”. Here’s a piece from CNN debunking this map.

Manipulation of line charts

In his book, Alberto cites an example of a climate change chart, representing temperature change from 0 to 100℉, and ignoring the impact of a change of a single degree.

Perspective effects

3D charts might look nice, but you can manipulate them very easily based on where you place the virtual camera. Even a subtle shift in perspective can make something look a lot bigger than it is, or heavily emphasise one bar in a chart over another. Alberto’s advice: if you’re showing data on a 2D service like a screen or in print, don’t be tempted by 3D charts.

Projection

Alberto references this tongue-in-cheek article from the New England Journal of Medicine, whose scatterplot graph seemed to suggest that the more chocolate a country ate (kg per year per capita), the more Noel Laureates that country had per 10 million people. The reason the chart is misleading is that it doesn’t go into why a country consumes more chocolate, and why a country has more Nobel laureates than another (since these two things aren’t necessarily actually related at all).

Sourcing of data

Alberto gives an example of a map showing homelessness in Florida, which seems unaccountably high due to that particular state’s definition of homelessness, which demonstrates how important it is to understand where a set of numbers comes from. The numbers in a chart or a graph might be entirely accurate, but it’s the context behind those numbers: how they’re gathered and how they’re interpreted, that can make a difference.

Mark’s picks

In order of discussion:

Omitting the baseline

This particular practise is useful in comparing two percentage.s If there’s a < 2% difference in something, a bar chart whose scale starts at 0 and ends in 100 isn’t going to show that difference, but you zoom in and start from, say, 85%, you can make the difference look much more dramatic.

Distorting the X axis

You might be forgiven for assuming that an X or Y axis in a chart should go up or down in regular intervals: 1, 10, 20, 30, etc. But if that doesn’t suit your case, and you want to emphasise a particular band of numbers, or that particular segment doesn’t fit your argument, turns out you can just omit that data from your axis, and all you need to do is add a little squiggle to the axis to show you’ve made an “edit”.

Using real-world objects as bars in a graph

Similar to Alberto’s point about 3D charts, Mark wanted to bring up the use of real world objects as a replacement for the bars in a bar chart. The sport-based example Mark was reaching for came from a YouTube video on reading misleading graphs.

Reversing the Y axis

Mark brings up a well-known example of a misleading chart on people killed by guns that reverses the Y axis, showing how the number changed once the state enacted its self-defence law. The chart makes it look like gun deaths dropped after the law was enacted, when they in fact did the opposite. And just to prove how influential this kind of tactic can be, Mark gets the meaning of the chart entirely upside down on mic.

Dive deeper

Mark mentioned a move by the Lib Dems in 2019 that raised a few hackles online, which was covered in the Guardian.

More of Alberto Cairo

You can follow Alberto on Twitter, check out his website, and read his blog, The Functional Art.

Links


Feb 04, 2020
24: Top 5 ways to eat potatoes
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Guest


Arielle Nissenblatt


Founder of the Earbuds Podcast Collective, co-creator of the Outlier Podcast Festival, a lover of license plates and roller blading.


Newsletter editor, event organiser and podcast wonder Arielle Nissenblatt joins Mark to discuss an often maligned tuber.

Arielle grew up almost exclusively on potatoes, although she admits her palate has broadened slightly since then. If you ever thought this vegetable (which is not a vegetable, it’s a tuber; we’ve covered this) was boring, prepare to have your mind exploded all the way off.

You’ll also learn some interesting facts about potatoes, so strap in and get ready to carbo-load.

Arielle’s picks

In order of discussion:

Hash browns

Both Arielle and Mark might be getting these and home fries confused, but we’re essentially talking about mashed up bits of potato, fried. Arielle used to have one of these on the bus to school, which proves she won at childhood.

French fries

The French fry is, at least for Americans, perhaps potatoes’ default state. Whether long and skinny, short and nubbly, or curly, it’s all good. The least said about sweet potato fries the better, mostly because they’re not potatoes.

Samosas

The samosa is more a potato delivery mechanism, but a strong one. Mark is also a fan of the flavour of a curried potato, so it’s a strong showing.

Latkes

As if hash browns and home fries weren’t enough, this common Jewish delicacy is another welcome addition to the mashed-up-bits-of-fried-potato roster.

Mark’s picks

In order of discussion:

Roast

The humble roast potato is, believes Mark, a beautiful thing, and who can disagree? It’s hard to beat a fluffy potato filling, surrounded by salt and fat. And if that fat happens to come from a goose, so much the better.

Chips

Not, under any circumstances to be confused with French fries, chips are an important staple in British cuisine. Mark urges Arielle — and by extension, you the listener — to try and lay hands on a potato scallop, because it’s possible your life may not be the same afterwards.

Jacket potato

The jacket — or baked — potato is Mark’s third choice, partially as a delivery mechanism for other flavours, but for Arielle, a delivery mechanism for butter. Rub olive oil and salt into the skin and pop it in the oven for three days. Delicious.

Shepherd’s pie

The mashed potato that serves as the hat for a cottage or shepherd’s pie — Mark preferring the lamb-based option — can be improved by deploying a fork, and sprinkling cheese all over it. Mashed potato didn’t, in its naked form make either list as such, but it’s important that it get a mention, even if it needs a little dressing up.

More of Arielle Nissenblatt

Follow Arielle on Twitter, and check out the Earbuds Podcast Collective, a global listening movement perfect for those among us that love a list.

Links


Jan 28, 2020
23: Top 5 literary heroines
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Guest


Becky Graham


Co-host of the podcast Your Own Words.


Mark is joined by one half of the literary podcast Your Own Words, voracious reader and Danish furniture fan, Becky Graham, to swap notes on badass women from the printed page.

A “sincere” apology

The first discussion topic caused both guest and presenter to embark on a number of attempts at Irish accents. These were not successful, and all parties apologise for the inconvenience.

This episode contains a few naughty words (mostly the same word, but said a lot).

Becky’s list

In order of discussion:

Maureen O’Hara

Becky’s first pick is a Hollywood actor who co-wrote and co-starred in The Quiet Man, and was blacklisted for not sleeping with execs in order to get parts. If you take her at her word — and why wouldn’t you? — she also approached Walt Disney with a view to making Mary Poppins with her in the lead role, a proposition which Disney turned down before apparently going off to make it with Julie Andrews. She also owned a fleet of aircraft, so there’s that.

Matilda Wormwood

There’s very little not to like about Matilda, the titular star of Roald Dahl’s children’s story, who taught herself telekinesis and devised ingenious ways to mess with her ignorant family members.

Miss Marple

Not unlike one of Mark’s picks, Marple plays up to others’ perceptions of her as being a doddery old woman, but her keen intellect and self-assuredness invariably wins the day.

Lucy Pevensie

The youngest sibling of the Chronicles of Narnia family is a favourite of Becky’s because of her bravery, kindness, and her unwillingness to be shoved aside.

Elizabeth Bennet

The protagonist of Pride and Prejudice married for love and not for status, and didn’t allow other people to make decisions for her. For Becky, she’s an example of knowing who you are and what you want, which was a rare thing to read as a women in the 19th century, much less to write.

Mark’s picks

In order of discussion:

Lisbeth Salander

Mark’s first pick is a badass with a motorbike, a photographic memory and a head full of code. He was introduced to her via The Girl With the Dragon Tattoo, and quickly identified with this woman who opted out of social convention but is guided by a strong sense of justice, which she meats out without remorselessly.

Granny Weatherwax

The straight woman in the Discworld double-act that is Weatherwax and Ogg, she is the kind of woman who “has no truck” with things. She also has a mean poker face.

_Artwork by SlowhandManjam _

Arya Stark

One of only a handful of female characters within the Game of Thrones universe with any degree of agency, Arya fights against the perceptions of her gender, and then fights anyone else that’ll take her on.

Clarice Starling

The lead character in The Silence of the Lambs makes Mark’s list as a solid, powerful, human character. Her story is less about surviving in a man’s world, and more about getting the job done and catching the bad guys.

Zoey Ashe

Mark’s final pick is the protagonist from David Wong’s Futuristic Violence and Fancy Suits, a snarky young woman with a cat called Stink Machine and no time for any of this bullshit.

Artwork by guttersblessing

More of Becky Graham

You can find Becky co-hosting the podcast Your Own Words, with Allison Dunnings, and you can follow them show on Instagram, Twitter, and Facebook.

Links


Jan 21, 2020
22: Top 5 under-appreciated female authors
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Guest


Sara-Mae Tuson


Writer of young adult novels, producer for a boutique podcast company, copywriter and editor.


Writer and podcaster Sara-Mae Tuson kicks off a double-bill of brilliant women in literature. This week, Mark and Sara-Mae discuss under-appreciated female authors.

Sara-Mae is a writer who’s turned her natural storytelling abilities into podcasting magic. Her previous work, The Sugar Baby Confessionals picked won bronze in the Best Sex and Relationship Podcast at the 2019 British Podcast Awards, and she’s now working on a series all about the life and work of her first pick.

Mark and Sara-Mae discuss the value of being talked up to in literature, the perception of romance in literature, and the industry’s apparent reliance on classifying work, and putting authors and their work in boxes.

Here’s Mark’s appearance on Your Own Words, in which he talked about Grinny by Nicholas Fisk, and a little about Gene Kemp.

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Sign up to the weekly newsletter so you never miss a list, and for Mark and Sara-Mae’s Goodreads recommendations.

Sara-Mae’s picks

In order of discussion:

Georgette Heyer

Sara-Mae is a fan of the often looked-down-upon genre of regency romance, and considers Heyer to be the gold standard. This Wimbledon-born woman wrote not only romances, but thrillers, with over 50 novels to her name.

Elizabeth von Arnim

Von Arnim makes Sara-Mae’s list thanks to the elegence and insightfulness of her work. She wrote from the late 19th to the early 20th century, was a modern thinker, and at one time the breadwinner.

Mary Stewart

Sara-Mae picked this 20th century thriller and romance novelist for her vivid writing, her scene-setting, and her ability to place ordinary people into difficult situations, allowing them to do extraordinary things.

Barbara Pym

Sara-Mae’s next pick is described as “forever being forgotten, and forever revived”. Another author who derived meaning from the ordinary, Pym was once described as the most underrated writer of the century.

Cynthia Voigt

Voigt’s book The Runner was an eye-opener for Sara-Mae, as it gave her permission to worry less about conforming to society’s expectations.

Nancy Mitford

“Nancy the novelist” was a joint fifth pick for Sara-Mae, who wonders how much her writing would have been informed and affected by her life and her other (in)famous sisters.

Mark’s pick

In order of discussion:

Victoria Wood

Mark picked Wood as his first selection, as her writing work can sometimes go unappreciated. As well as an accomplished songwriter and musician, Wood was a highly successful standup, and through Acorn Antiques, Dinner Ladies and the mockumentaries in As Seen on TV, has created enduring comic characters.

Nicole Perlman

Mark’s second pick is a co-writer of Guardians of the Galaxy, Captain Marvel and Detective Pikachu. As a comic book screenwriter, her name isn’t usually up in lights, hence her addition to Mark’s list.

Gene Kemp

Mark picked this children’s and young-adult writer as a name he fondly remembered from his past, even if he seemed to be unable to recall any of her actual books. Kemp wrote about everyday characters living mundane lives, but brought out the drama through their inner monologues.

Abi Morgan

The creator of the TV show The Hour, and screenwriter for The Iron Lady is Mark’s fourth pick as a writer whose work many of us have enjoyed, especially within the UK, but that we don’t necessarily always attribute to the correct source.

Tamora Pierce

Mark delves further back into his childhood for his final pick, choosing to highlight Tamora Pierce and her Wild Magic book series.

More of Sara-Mae

You can find Sara-Mae’s podcast work under the Fable Gazers banner. Her current series is Heyer Today, tracks the life and work of Georgette Heyer.

Links


Jan 14, 2020
21: Top 5 Cannon films
2535

Guest


Ben Smith


He solves the puzzles and bakes the cookies. Co-host of the EuroWhat? podcast.


Thrill to the sounds of podcaster and movie-lover Ben Smith, sharing his top five shlockbusters with Mark Steadman. You won’t believe your ears! List Envy, in select theatres now.

Ben is the co-host of the EuroWhat? podcast with previous guest Mike McComb, and hailing from the same state as Mystery Science Theater 3000 has a keen eye for a film that’s so bad it’s good. But that’s not all the Cannon studio had to offer; some of the work is surprisingly meaningful, if buried under piles of rubble caused by explosions set off by breakdancing ninjas.

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Sign up to the weekly newsletter so you never miss a list, and for some links to help you get your next bad movie night off the ground.

Honourable mentions

Spoiler alert

Mark especially is quite liberal with the spoiler sauce in this episode, so if you plan on watching any of these films, just be warned that the element of surprise — at least in terms of plot — might be diminished.

Ben’s picks

In order of discussion:

The Apple

Also known as Star Rock for some reason, The Apple is a 1980 film telling the story of a global Eurovision competition equivalent. It’s a musical turned up to 11.

Breakin’

The film that spawned a thousand spoof sequel titles (yes, this is the one that had the sequel called Electric Boogaloo), Breakin’, from 1984, is the “save the rec center” story told through the medium of breakdancing.

Ninja III: The Domination

This time, the ninja is a woman! In 1984’s Ninja III, the main character is possessed by the spirit of a fallen ninja who must seek to regain his/her honour, sometimes on a golf course.

Invasion USA

This Chuck Norris vehicle from 1985 is essentially why we have Chuck Norris jokes. With Invasion USA, Norris was able to make the jump from karate star to full-on action star. If you only see one movie that destroys a mall in Atlanta this year, make it this one.

Mark’s picks

In order of discussion:

Lifeforce

Mark’s top pick, from 1985, also makes Ben’s list. The film has a good pedigree in both its writer and director, and is a Anglo-American collaboration based on a novel. But perhaps it was the bonkers premise that means it’s been relegated to something close to B-movie status.

House of the Long Shadows

This tongue-in-cheek horror from 1983 is a who’s who of British stars from scary movie days of yore. It’s also set in Wales, so that’s nice.

Runaway Train

This Jon Voight number from 1985 was based on an Akira Kurosawa film that never got off the ground. It’s a tense prison escape movie that turns into an action suspense story with the kind of heroic ending you just don’t see anymore.

Barfly

1987’s Barfly stars Mickey Rourke as a smart writer whose only real ambition is to make enough money from his work to buy the next round. It’s a rare departure into considered drama, for the studio.

More of Ben Smith

Ben is the co-host of the EuroWhat? podcast, and you can follow him on Twitter @benmsmith.

Links


Jan 07, 2020
20: Top 5 Eurovision Song Contest finals from the '00s
3110

Guest


Mike Mccomb


Mike has been writing about TV online since 2008, when he started the blog WTF Little House on the Prairie? The blog was a project to practice writing about television analytically prior to getting an MA in Television-Radio-Film from Syracuse University, or as he likes to call it “TV Camp.”


TV writer Mike McComb joins Mark to discuss the bizarre and beautiful magic of this European musical tradition. Enjoy this episode, and don’t forget to have a drink on Terry in song 9.

Mike is a Eurovision aficionado, having come to it via the Sounds Like Teen Spirit documentary. He’s not let being American and thus being geofenced out of most live broadcasts steer him away, as his work on the EuroWhat? podcast will attest.

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Sign up to the weekly newsletter so you never miss a list, and for some unmissable Eurovision recommendations you won’t get elsewhere.

Mike’s picks

In order of discussion:

Stockholm, 2016

Both Mark and Mike felt that this year’s ceremony was the epitome of everything that’s wonderful about Eurovision, especially the sense of humour.

Copenhagen, 2014

This was Mike’s second pick as it was an iconic year for the contest, seeing Austria’s Conchita Wurst absolutely nail it, and bringing us more memorable and mockable Eurovision moments.

Baku, 2012

Mike appreciated this final from a European education perspective. It gave us the singing grannies, delightfully clunky hosts, and a consistent fan favourite in Euphoria, which was another winning song for Sweden.

Malmö, 2013

This was a surprise entry for Mike, but it snuck in as it was simply a solid year. The opening reintroduced the Parade of Nations, but perhaps the year was marred by a little too much dubstep.

Mark’s picks

In order of discussion:

Düsseldorf, 2011

Mark enjoyed the high level of earnestness from this year’s final, the host’s entertainment appeal, and the songs. For Mike, there was a consistency issue throughout the night, with all the favourites finishing in the first half.

Tel Aviv, 2019

Mark picked the 2019 final for its focus on interesting staging, and because he felt they didn’t try to go overboard with the showbiz sparkle, but instead were quite humble and sweet in places. Iceland’s entry was legit terrifying, though.

Oslo, 2010

Mark thought 2010 was a nice year, and felt it marked the beginning of a transition into the knowing, semi-ironically-detached period the content is now in. It was the first contest where Mike got fully invested, so it has a special place in his heart, too.

More of Mike McComb

Mike is the co-host of the EuroWhat? podcast, and you can follow him on Twitter @rube_goldberg.

Links


Dec 17, 2019
19: Top 5 rebooted Doctor Who episodes
4204

Guest


George Chachanidze


Host of the Snappy-Tech YouTube channel.


Mark gets wobbly-wobbly and timey-wimey with tech YouTuber George Chachanidze.

The pair started by discussing their favourite incarnations of the Doctor, and then their favourite — or least favourite — companions.

Spoilers abound

If you’re not caught up with Doctor Whoand you intend to, be warned that Mark and George will spoil the hell out of it for you.

Honourable mentions

George’s picks

In order of discussion:

Heaven Sent (S09E11; Peter Capaldi)

This highly dramatic and Groundhog Day reminiscent episode takes place shortly after the death of the Doctor’s companion Clara, and is pretty much entirely a monologue. The names of the two episodes got mixed up in the recording: Heaven Sent (the one Make and George both like) is the first in a two-parter that concludes with Hell Bent (which George does not like, and Mark couldn’t remember).

Blink (S03E10; David Tennant, Freema Agyeman)

Blink is regarded by many Whovians as the best of the revival. It introduces the Weeping Angels, who are older than the universe, and zap you back in time to feed off the energy displaced by the life you would have led. Or something.

Midnight (S04E10; David Tennant, Catherine Tate)

Another Doctor-heavy episode, this takes place on the planet of Midnight, which is made entirely of diamonds. It has a horror movie feel, but is almost a bottle episode (in as much as bottle episodes are often made out of a necessity to keep an eye on the budget.)

Silence in the Library / Forest of the Dead (S04E08-9; David Tennant, Catherine Tate)

This two-parter introduces space archeologist River Song, who would be an important recurring character across multiple Doctor incarnations. It also introduces the Vashta Nerada, a species of space piranha

Dalek (S01E06; Christopher Eccleston, Billie Piper)

This episode reintroduces the Daleks in a Utah bunker filled with alien bric-à-brac. It brought them back defeated and weakened, which laid the groundwork for a new generation to be terrified by them all over again.

Mark’s picks

In order of discussion:

Father’s Day (S01E08; Christopher Eccleston, Billie Piper)

This episode came early on in the reboot’s run, and takes place in 1987, wherein Rose saves her dad from being hit by a car, only to unleash a squadron of time-devouring pterodactyls called reapers.

The Beast Below (S05E02; Matt Smith, Karen Gillan)

This steampunk episode takes place on Starship UK, which carries England, Northern Ireland and Wales — but not Scotland — on the back of a giant space whale, who is kept in perpetual agony to ensure it keeps moving. The finale of the episode see the Doctor’s companion Amy realise that the whale would’ve carried the citizens regardless, because it couldn’t stand to see the children cry.

The Impossible Planet / The Satan Pit (S02E08-9; David Tennant, Billie Piper)

This two-parter takes place on a planet that we believe to be Hell, and where the villain is the actual devil. It introduced the Ood, and wasn’t afraid to make religious points (given that this is a show for children).

World Enough and Time (S10E11; Peter Capaldi, Pearl Mackie, Matt Lucas)

The first in a two-parter that sees Bill become a Cyberman, Mark picked this for very specific reasons.

More of George Chachanidze

You can follow George on Twitter, find him and Paul on YouTube discussing tech, and follow his journey living a life without a smartphone.

Links


Dec 10, 2019
18: Top 5 Christmas songs
3361

Guest


Daz Wright


Every ounce of his being is focussed on discussing video games, cats and the popular music of the day. He live in Moseley in Birmingham.


The Christmas season begins with Mark talking to Daz Wright of Moselele, about the best songs to ring in the festivities.

Daz is a musician, and a founder-member of the Birmingham-based ukulele group Moselele. He’s also a big fan of Christmas, and delivered a sack full of joy to the List Envy studio, along with an honest-to-goodness Christmas cracker and actual sleigh bells.

Whamageddon

The pair discuss this real-world survival game. Like many pure things, Whamageddon has been co-opted by the corporate world, so we’ll stick with the original rules rather than those imposed by the Bauer Media corporation, who have attempted to make it their thing recently.

  • The object is to go as long as possible without hearing the original version of Wham!’s song Last Christmas (you won’t hear that version in this episode, so you’re safe).
  • It runs from Dec 1st until Christmas eve.
  • As soon as you recognise the song, that’s it, you’re out, and play resumes for you next year.
  • If you’re deliberately sabotaged, bad luck, but that’s not the spirit of the game. You’re still out, but the saboteur is a dick.

Honourable mentions

Daz’s picks

In order of discussion:

Slade — Merry Xmas Everybody

This is, for Daz, a perfect Christmas song, as it falls into one of the main categories: nostalgia, a description of the Christmas day or event, and a shameless emotional trigger… and perhaps it embodies all three.

The Oasis cover Mark refers to was not done for the BBC’s Live Lounge series, but for the NME in a joint venture with the War Child charity.

Elton John — Step into Christmas

A late addition to Daz’s list, Step into Christmas is nothing if not meta, opening with the line “welcome to my Christmas song”. Daz calls it shameless, but you can be the judge.

Wham! — Last Christmas

You were promised that your ears would remain a Wham!-free zone, so the demonstrative track for this segment is brought to you by courtesy of the Crazy Frog (who still has 6.5 million YouTube subscribers). Daz enjoys that Last Christmas embodies the spirit of the day (as per his third category of Christmas song success).

Mariah Carey — All I Want for Christmas is You

Despite Daz describing Mariah’s vocal opening as “warbling nonsense”, he enjoys the chunka-chunka piano that follows… and frankly, who doesn’t? This easily satisfies the “emotional trigger” item of Daz’s Christmas song checklist, and who among us doesn’t want to be wholly owned by a quasi-religious semi-fictional wizard?

The Weather Girls – Dear Santa, Bring Me a Man this Christmas (Part 1)

Following on from, and largely borrowing from the success of It’s Raining Men, Dear Santa, Bring Me a Man this Christmas (Part 1) is pretty much the same song, but festive. If you haven’t watched the video, now’s your chance.

Mark’s picks

In order of discussion:

Greg Lake — I Believe in Father Christmas

Mark enjoys this quiet and conemplative ballad, that Daz describes as one of the more musically interesting festive offerings. But sadly, the line “the Christmas we get, we deserve” was not enough to make it Christmas #1, which ended up that year being Queen.

The Waitresses — Christmas Wrapping

Mark feels there is a “Dickens quality” to this story song (to be fair, it does start with the line “Bah humbug”), about loneliness and romance, leading to a joyful and merry Christmas day.

The Pogues & Kirsty MacColl — Fairytale of New York

Anyone who’s offended by the lyrics towards the end of this song has our axe, and there’s an argument to be had around the specific meaning of the word in that time and context, but for now, let’s focus on the fact that it’s a winter banger, and a wonderful piece of Christmas melancholia.

Johnny Mathis — When a Child is Born

It took eight songs before the pair got to one that actually described the li’l baby Jesus, but here we are. It’s.a crooner’s song, and pretty sappy, but it does fall squarely in that mid-70s bracket that seems to categorise Christmas songs.

Tom Jones & Cerys Matthews - Baby It’s Cold Outside

If you’re offended by any of the lyrics in this song, you’re a child and you don’t know what grown-up words mean (sometimes two consenting adults can do something naughty and that’s OK). Mark gravely prefers the cover over the original as he believes it packs more personality and fun.

More of Daz Wright

Join Moselele twice a month at the Prince of Wales pub in Moseley, Birmingham, to play popular songs of the day. And be sure to join them on Sunday December 22nd where they’ll be singing Christmas songs in the beer garden of said pub. Mark will be there, and we hope you will too. You can also follow Daz on Twitter.

Links


Dec 03, 2019
17: Top 5 things we’re leaving behind
4150

Guest


Jon Hickman


Host of You Don’t Look Like a Runner, Thread, and Beware of the Leopard. Writer at Paradise Circus, and 101 Things Birmingham Game the World.


Fellow podcaster Jon Hickman joins Mark to cast aside things from our adolescence that we can get by just as well without.

Jon co-hosts the hilarious and often genuinely moving – no pun intended — fitness, running and tech podcast You Don’t Look Like a Runner with Nick Moreton, and Thread with Mark.

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Sign up to the weekly newsletter so you never miss a list, and for a link to the unedited (rude) version of this episode.

Jon’s picks

In order of discussion:

Kevin Smith movies

The director-turned-podcaster Kevin Smith sidled onto VHS screens in the early 90s with films like /Clerks/ and /Mallrats/. He made them for a specific generation, but now they’re all grown up, is it time to leave those films behind, or is it enough to just not get excited about new ones?

The pop charts

Jon picked the pop music countdown as his second item, possibly in an effort to dump pop before pop could dump him. Nevertheless, it has become something of a cultural oddity in the era of streaming everything, so can we safely leave the pop charts behind? And what’s to be done about the Christmas single?

Graham Linehan

Linehan co-created two iconic sitcoms for Channel Four in the UK, but his recent history has been marred by unpleasant online behaviour. But the work stands, and on this Mark and Jon hold firm.

The Cheeky Nando’s

Who doesn’t love a nice bit of chicken and chips? And why must the idea of fast casual dining be a joke among snooty older people? These are the questions that need answering, but thankfully, Jon is on the case…. to ask them, if not to come up with a concrete answer.

Mark’s picks

In order of discussion:

Smash Mouth

In the late 90s, you couldn’t turn on a radio or seemingly watch a film without hearing a large man shout “SOME!” at you. Yes, /Allstar/ was a big hit, but by remaining consistent in its output, is the band serving its audience or allowing them to move on without them?

Bill Hicks

Bill Hicks was a hero to most (in their late 30s to mid 40s)., but he never meant shit to millennials. For so many, his work was a cultural touchstone whose effects ripped throughout comedy. He was also a misogynist and a cultural snob, so perhaps it’s time to let him rock out on the lake of fire in his by himself.

American Beauty

This Mendes -directed, Spacey vehicle was a firm favourite of the late-teenage Mark, but even without the lead actor’s stain, it’s a pretty marred picture by today’s standards.

The chip on his shoulder

This is something that may appeal to many, and is worth taking a listen to, as it probably doesn’t translate all that well in text.

More of Jon Hickman

You can follow Jon Hickman on Twitter, and add 101 Things Birmingham Gave the World to your Christmas wish list.

Links


Nov 26, 2019
16: Top 5 fruits
2967

Guest


Emma Stroud


Lover of all things fun. Like making people laugh and think. Enjoy being a clown. Plus a speaker.


Everyone can stand to be a little bit more banana, so this week’s guest is professional clown, public speaker and banana enthusiast, Emma Stroud.

Emma’s personal day of relevation – perhaps not dissimilar to Albert Hofmann’s bicycle day, as covered in our first episode — came about when Emma realised how transformative she found the act of dressing up at a grown-up function, not like a fancy duchess, but like a banana.

Emma believes part of her purpose is, not only to help people laugh, but to encourage them to think more as a result. But that’s not where the healing ends: the pair uncover a way to save yourself from embarrassment at the hands of a mushy apple, and Mark asks Emma if she’s ever eaten a noni.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TiDg_Qbo0NM

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Honourable mentions
  • Kiwi
  • Pomegranate

Emma’s picks

In order of discussion:

Banana

Apart from the fact that it did lead Emma to deliver a TED talk dressed as one, it’s a fruit that rarely disappoints, and has a handy traffic light system to let you know when it’s OK to eat one, depending no your personal preference.

Orange

This fruit that positively begs to be shared is also the name of Emma’s clown persona. It’s the orange. We’ve all had one. Orange. Go on, have one now, you won’t be disappointed. The orange. Orange.

Grape

The grape is an all-day fruit, and is never not available. You can take them to people who are ill in hospital — for some reason — or you can cut them in two to really change up how your day is going. You can also freeze them and pretend you’ve got sweets.

Strawberry

Nothing goes with cream, or even ice cream, quite like a strawberry. Plus, it’s the only fruit that you are legally allowed to steal from anyone’s farm because it’s not a criminal offence: it’s scrumping. (Just make sure you have a basket with you and also don’t hold us responsible if you get caught with red all down your face.)

Blueberry

This superfood is a solid-performing team player of a fruit. They’re versatile, very good for you, and often overlooked.

Mark’s picks

In order of discussion:

Avocado

Mark only began to truly understand the power of the avocado in early 2019, and like all converts, has now become a zealot.

Pear

Mark has been known to grind up the bottom seedy bits of a pear in an effort to avoid walking to the bin, and if someone handed you a pear right now, you’d probably kiss them (unless it’s outside their brief window of acceptable ripeness).

Apple

Mark favours the braeburn for its consistency and delivering a satisfying, sweet crunch. It’s perhaps not the star of the show, but is the Virgil van Dijk of the fruit bowl.

Olive

It’s possible Mark might just have put this in to wind Emma up, but it is an actual fruit.

Cherry tomato

The writer Miles Kingston is perported to have said “Knowledge is knowing a tomato is a fruit; wisdom is not putting it in a fruit salad”.

More of Emma Stroud

You can follow Emma on Instagram, and on Twitter. Also check out her website.

Links


Nov 19, 2019
15: Top 5 algorithms that changed the world
2812

Guest


Dr Sophie Carr


World’s most interesting mathematician and #Queenof Statistics winner. Owner of Bays Consulting. Loves Bayesian statistics.


Mark gets mathematical with bayesian mathematician Sophie Carr.

Sophie describes herself as an “accidental mathematician”, getting into the subject after studying to be an engineer. She got her PhD on the job, and transitioned from fluid mechanics to Bayesian statistics.

Here’s the piping speech from Patriot Mark mentioned.

https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=P5-9Rfrui9A

Sophie’s picks

In order of discussion:

Turbo Code

Invented by telephone engineer Claude Berrou, this bayesian algorithm encodes information for use in phone calls, and has laid the way for technology like 3G and 4G, a couple of decades in advance.

Universal unique identifier (UUID)

UUIDS — sometimes galled GUIDs — are collections of numbers and letters that can be generated by independent machines, and be almost guaranteed to be entirely unique. They’re based on timestamps — a number of seconds since a given period — and some info about the computer creating the code, as well as some random bits.

PageRank

Named after Google co-founder Larry Page, the PageRank algorithm ranks web pages based on links, the assumption being that the more important a website is, the more people will link to it.

Proportional integral derivative control

A PID controller corrects problems with automated processes. The best example, and why Sophie added it to her list, is ABS (automatic breaking in a car).

Mark’s picks

In order of discussion:

LZ 77 compression

This simple form of text compression is Mark’s top pick because it forms part of the Zip archive format, which is something even non-technical people are familiar with, and have used for decades. It works by dropping markers to repeated characters within a file, so you could reduce the phrase “how now brown cow” to “h① n① br①n c①” (a reduction of around 20%).

RSA

Public key — or asymmetric — cryptography allows for information to be encrypted by one party, but only readable by the other party. That works because the party that wants to receive the information makes their public key available to anyone who wants it, and then those that want to send information, use that public key to encrypt it. However the information can only be decrypted by that first person using their private key.

Proof of Work

This algorithm is central to the block chain – which is what bitcoin and other cryptocurrencies are based on, but is also how it’s possible to maintain a shared ledger to reliably keep track of information, and to keep people honest.

Reinforcement learning

This machine learning algorithm made it onto MArk’s list basically because it’s nice. It reinforces what a computer has learned — hence the name — by giving it a reward; it’s the computer’s job to maximise the time-to-reward ratio, so will figure out ways to solve the problem more efficiently to get that sweet, sweet reward.

Dynamic range compression

Mark uses this audio compression algorithm in his work as a podcast producer. Essentially it replicates the job of a human, turning the volume of a speaker or an instrument so that the quiet parts are audible, but the loud parts don’t blow your ears off.

More of Sophie

Sophie runs Bays Consulting, who you can follow on Twitter along with Sophie herself.

Links


Nov 12, 2019
14: Top 5 90s kids’ cartoons
3616

Guest


Jamie Garner


He can count, He can read and he can cook. The original triple threat.


Mark and his guest Jamie Garner have snuck out of bed, crept downstairs and turned on the telly for a channel-hop through ‘90s nostalgia.

Both Mark and Jamie grew up with Saturday morning programming from the BBC, including /Going Live!/, /Live & Kicking/ and What’s Up Doc?, which showed cartoons and showcased some of the UK’s newest pop acts.

Mark does not pass up the opportunity to discuss the kids’ presenter Andy Crane, and the fact that he narrated one of his favourite children’s books. Incidentally, you can hear more about that book and MArk’s thoughts on it — and Andy Crane — on a recent episode of /Your Own Words/.

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Jamie’s picks

In order of discussion:

Dungeons & Dragons

Jamie’s first pick is a repeat-viewing for him. It was first released in 1983, but made its way to the UK some years later. Hollywood has tried to adapt it into cinematic form, but it’s never really taken, however there is quite an epic car commercial from Brazil, which is a must-watch for D&D cartoon fans.

ThunderCats

Every boy of a certain age had at least one ThunderCats toy. It featured a host of memorable characters, and the next piece of action was only a smash-cut away. And in keeping with the tradition of the American Saturday morning cartoon, each episode came with a moral. Remember kids, real winners don’t cry in the bath.

Spider-Man and His Amazing Friends

This Stan Lee narrated cartoon included Dracula, Frankenstein, the Green Goblin, the Incredible Hulk, and many more. Jamie’s now bringing up his kids to enjoy the series, but he maintains that their favourite character choices are incorrect.

X-Men: The Animated Series

This show ran for 5 s[image:(null)/(null)]easons, and was[image:(null)/(null)] picked up by Sky in the UK. It brought the comic books to life, transferring the most iconic characters from page to screen

Batman: The Animated Series

Starring Kevin Conroy as Batman and Mark Hamil as the Joker (roles the pair still portray in video game form), this dark and violent animated series holds up to adult viewing.

Mark’s picks

In order of discussion:

Danger Mouse

This ITV show started life in 1981, and was rebooted by the BBC a few years back. The original starred David Jason in a number of voices, and is part of a shared cartoon universe (which may be covered in a future pick).

Animaniacs

Mark maintains that this Warner Bros show had no business being made for children. It was anarchic, but the jokes were pitched so far over kids’ heads, it’s a wonder they managed even the five seasons they were commissioned for. For proof, here’s Pinky and the Brain making fun of a bad-tempered Orson Wells recording an ad about frozen peas.

Ox Tales

This Japanese cartoon captured Mark’s heart, even though he’d not seen that many episodes. It’s largely been lost to history, but bits are still available on YouTube. Here’s the opening sequence.

Count Duckula

As the theme song described, Duckula would bite neither beast nor man, because he was a vegetarian. It was another outing for Cosgrove & Hall, the writer-creators of Danger Mouse and other shows of that ilk.

Honourable mentions

More of Jamie Garner

Follow Jamie on Twitter, and maybe one day he’ll release a podcast again.

Links


Nov 05, 2019
13: Top 5 movie monsters
3294

Guest


Ben Blacker


Writer of Hex Wives, co-creator of the Thrilling Adventure Hour, producer of the Dead Pilots podcast and host of the Writers’ Panel.


The show gets #spoopy as the Thrilling Adventure Hour’s Ben Blacker joins Mark to count down his top five silver-screen terrors.

Ben co-created the Thrilling Adventure Hour with his writing partner Ben Acker as a live theatre show in the style of an old-timey evening of radio entertainment. There’s over a decade’s worth of Thrilling to enjoy, so subscribe to the free newsletter to get some hand-picked favourites you can see and hear via YouTube.

Ben’s picks

In order of discussion:

Xenomorph

Known more commonly as “the alien from Alien(s)”, the Xenomorph or internecivus raptus is Ben’s top pick because at its heart, Ridley Scott’s 1979 Alien is a horror film, and this monster ticks all the boxes.

The Creature from the Black Lagoon

Whether in its original 1954 form or its most recent, romantic incarnation, the Creature makes Ben’s list for its exceptional design, its pathos, and because childhood memories. If you’d like to know more, you can read Ben’s friend Mallory’s book, The Lady from the Black Lagoon, about the Creature’s designer, an overlooked name in Hollywood’s history.

Gremlins

The original Gremlins is fun for most, if not all the family, as it so well intersects comedy and horror. Ben appreciates how the rules are set out, but that as an audience we don’t yet know what the consequences are for breaking them. Ben is not a fan of the sequel, as it skews too much towards the funny.

The Thing

The titular Thing from The Thing is terrifying in its amorphousness. It can take the shape of anything it touches, and although it involves some body horror — of which Ben isn’t a big fan — it comfortably makes Ben’s list as a full-on monster, albeit a somewhat formless one.

Graboid

Ben’s final pick is the worm things from Tremors, one of his favourite movies (and a firm favourite of Mark’s). Ben appreciates the cool, gross and classic monsteriness of these underground creatures, but is not on board with the name “graboid”, and he wishes to make this position absolutely clear.

Mark’s pick

In order of discussion

Zombie

For Mark, a proper zombie film ends with courage in the face of utter hopelessness. They’re one of the few fictional entities that still scare Mark. Although he originally lauded 28 Days Later as a great modern take on the zombie, he’s not so sure it holds up.

Audrey II

Although Ben doesn’t consider this Little Shop of Horrors baddy scary, Mark thinks potentially being grabbed by the balls and eaten by a giant blood-sucking plant with the voice of a Motown legend to be a little intimidating.

Hannibal Lecter

Hannibal the cannibal, in all his incarnations, makes Mark’s list as an almost supernaturally naughty man, but can Ben reconcile this against his criteria, or does this constitute a slippery slope?

Pennywise

Mark put Pennywise the dancing clown on his list for similar reasons to Ben’s selection of the Thing. (And yes, Mark understands that Pennywise is just one form of It, but it’s the version we see most in the films.) Mark finds the films not only funny, but really scary (especially the first).

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More of Ben Blacker

Follow Ben on Twitter, order your copy of Hex Wives and read his Writers Panel blog.

Photo credit for Ben’s headshot: Roman Cho

Links


Oct 29, 2019
Bonus episode
456

Guest


Adam Juniper


An Adam of all trades, master of some: Drone pilot and author, photo/tech publisher, sardonic wit and astronaut (possibly).


This is a short bonus episode, with extra stuff we couldn’t fit into Tuesday’s show.

It’s brought to you by our new membership page, where you can help support the show and get us to our goal to transcribe each episode, for just £2 a month.

Links


Oct 25, 2019
12: Top 5 gadgets from the early 21st century
4282

Guest


Adam Juniper


An Adam of all trades, master of some: Drone pilot and author, photo/tech publisher, sardonic wit and astronaut (possibly).


Technology writer and drone expert Adam Juniper joins Mark to discuss machines that go bleep.

Adam spent many years editing and publishing books on photography, which over the years has become more about technology than chemicals.

He and Mark discuss the fun and frustration that can be had when delving into the world of smart home tech, and you can read more of Adam’s thoughts on this — and other desirable tech — on his Tech Yearning blog.

Like Mark, Adam had a Game Gear, which you can hear discussed in episode 2 of this very podcast.

The pair also discuss the “Privacy: It’s a Crime” campaign.

As a listening note: the pair do talk about the Amazon Echo devices and the lady that lives inside them, but rest assured, thanks to the ingenious editing technique of cutting out a bit of the word Ale*a, your costly egg timer won’t be set off.

Honourable mentions

Gadgets that went under the wire

Because they’re a little too old, but deserve a nod:

  • GSM phones
  • DVD player
  • MiniDisc
  • Dial-up modems
  • Apple iBook
  • Virtual reality

Adam’s picks

In order of discussion:

Apple iPhone

Although Adam labels this the gadget that killed all other gadgets (and most tech pundits agree that the iPhone 4 is the peak of Apple’s design), the first-generation iPhone from 2007 was an indisputably magical device. Not so magical for iJustine, who recorded a video unboxing her first post-iPhone AT&T bill.

USB flash drive

It’s such a humble gadget that many of us don’t think about it, but the USB flash drive, USB stick, USB “key” (it’s not a key) or “jump drive” (if you’re Griffin McElroy from 20012) is ubiquitous, and astonishingly

Parrot AR drone

Most boys wanted a remote-controlled car when they were growing up, but now 21st-century children get to want tiny helicopters that can be controlled with a smartphone. Adam was captivated by the Parrot drone when he saw one at a trade show, and has vastly upped his drone game in the intervening years.

Jaguar I-Pace

Adam picked this model, but wanted to submit electric cars in general. He likes the full-on gadgetiness of an electric car, and is also pleased to be able to talk about one that isn’t a Tesla.

Smart speaker

Adam has tested all the major smart speaker brands, and prefers the Apple HomePod, which is less of a smart speaker and more of… well, a really good-sounding speaker. But whether it’s an Amazon Echo or a Google Home, smart speakers are wonderfully useful gadgets for controlling your home and reminding you to take the chicken out of the oven.

Mark’s picks

In order of discussion:

Apple iPad

Mark picked the device that, incidentally was in design before the iPhone, but wouldn’t come out for another three years. This tablet has gone through a number of design iterations and is now available in a multitude of sizes, and is now firmly one of Mark’s everyday carries (as the tech writers would have it). He especially loves the 2018 Pro.

Flip Video

Mark was given a Flip camera as a parting gift after leaving a job in 2008, and it has remained one of his favourite gadgets of old. It was incredibly relevant for a very short period of time, before it was superseded by that dratted iPhone. The revelation was not only its point-and-shoot simplicity or its in-built storage, but the ease of transfer to a computer, compared with a MiniDV camera from the same era.

Nintendo Switch

Although Mark grew up without the joy of consoles as an everyday part of his life, he always identified as a Sega fan. And yes, like everyone else in the early 2000s he had a Nintendo Wii, but it wouldn’t be until the first ad for the Switch in 2016 that he’d begin his love affair with this powerful, portable and flexible games console. And Mark can still play Sonic on it.

Apple AirPods

The pair’s third Apple device is something Mark picks without apology, as it’s a marvel in miniaturised tech. These wireless earbuds have been oft-copied, but they do “just work”, in Apple parlance (and given that Mark has some Sony wireless earbuds to compare them to, that phrase is more than just marketing.)

More of Adam Juniper

As well as Adam’s blog, you can also buy his books on Amazon, follow him on Instagram and on Twitter, listen to the Photographer Podcast and That Option No Longer Exists, and ask him about publishing.

Links


Oct 22, 2019
11: Top 5 products that moved humanity forwards
3550

Guest


Simon Heap


Director of Rugged Interactive, Cornish innovative sport design firm and maker of fitness equipment for everyone – Olympians, big brands and anyone with great ideas.


Mark speaks down-the-line with product designer, Simon Heap, as the two share their top five world-changing products, and gently collide over what can be construed a “product”.

Simon has dedicated his life to making, as he calls it, “a better mouse trap”, and now specialises in designing products for sport. You might know Simon’s work from Dragons’ Den, or perhaps you’ve bought his potato masher?

Simon once designed a CD player and argued for a sense of jeopardy within the mechanism (in the same way that there is a way to put a record on wrong), and Mark finds another member to join the ranks of those who mourn the passing of the MiniDisc. He also discovers that the Japanese may have the word he’s long searched for, to describe that wonderful sense of joy and satisfaction you get from a mechanical interaction: a good button, a sturdy spring or a crunchy click.

Honourable mentions

Simon’s picks

In order of discussion:

The wheel

It’s round. It can be used to move things. Attach two of them to a thing, and you can move it even easier. It’s what Ford Prefect called “the single simplest machine in the entire universe”. It’s the wheel.

The match

Simon picks fire — or more specifically, the match — for the ability to create heat and light at will, therefore allowing people tilling the fields all day to come home and further their education at night.

Penicillin

This 1928 invention is Simon’s third pick, and something that came up in List Envy’s very first episode. He argues that, while most of the pair’s choices spread communication across the globe, penicillin spreads health.

World Wide Web

Simon knows this, Mark knows this, and in case you didn’t before, now you do: the Internet and the Web are not the same thing. With that out of the way, Simon picked this as an extraordinary communication tool (for good or ill), and Mark brings up the Mosaic web browser as the first widely adopted way of “surfing hyperspace”.

Marine chronometer

This device enabled travel across the sea in a way that would previously have been infinitely more dangerous, allowed for more accurate mapping, and ultimately brought the world closer together by making it more navigable.

Mark’s picks

In order of discussion:

Wireless radio

Mark used the de Forest RJ6 as an early example of a commercially-available radio receiver, as the first in a set of communication devices he believes have propelled us.

Commercial aviation

Mark discusses the first commercial aeroplane flight, a short hop in 1914, which Simon contrasts with Kitty Hawk’s first public outing in 1903.

Nokia 8110

Mark picks this un-smart, by 2019 standards unsexy flip phone, as being among the first mobile phones to be desirable consumer products. Not to be outdone, this is the point in the episode in which Simon’s landline starts chirping in.

Apple Macintosh

Mark picked this computer — which was far from Apple’s first — again as a desirable object, that democratised, commoditised and made friendly the idea of computing. Simon suggested the first iMac might have been a good pick.

Audio cassette

Mark picked the hissy, mushy-sounding cassette as an interesting device in its own right, saying that, unlike vinyl or CDs, cassette tapes mark their last use: they have to be manually rewound… unless you have one of those fancy machines that messes with the tape heads and flips them around.

More of Simon Heap

Follow Simon on Twitter and LinkedIn, check out his latest business, Rugged Interactive, and his consultancy, Design for Sport.

Links


Oct 15, 2019
10: Top 5 long-haul destinations
2563

Guest


Alison Edgar


Sales and marketing adviser, as seen on BBC One Breakfast. Dyslexic Amazon #1 Best Seller, award winning sales trainer and coach, International TEDx speaker.


Mark takes flight with speaker, author and “the entrepreneur’s godmother” Alison Edgar, to build a list of the best places it takes too long to fly to.

Alison flies a lot, and finds pinning her destinations on a map lends itself to a sense of perspective. Mark responds by finding another way to tie this into his favourite sci-fi series, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.

Alison, like Mark, enjoys — or enjoyed - a Bloody Mary, which has — for reasons best known to others — become de rigueur for those who enjoy boozing above the clouds.

Public service announcement: if you have Netflix and are on a long-haul flight, do remember to download a season of something to watch before you fly. No-one wants to be caught short if the in-flight media selection is sub-par.

Born in Glasgow and a self-styled extravert, Alison is not content with spending all day every day on the beach or in the local British theme pub, watching endless Only Fools repeats. She wants to mix it up with the people that make up the places she visits.

As well as a couple of good cocktail recommendations, this episode also includes a game you can play at the airport.

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Alison’s picks

In order of discussion:

Cape Town

Alison lived in Cape Town for a couple of years and considers it one of the most naturally beautiful cities she’s ever lived in. If you’re ever in South Africa, you absolutely must try a Don Pedro.

California

We’re developing a theme with Alison’s pick, but you’d be hard pressed to argue that the weather, the food and the lifestyle don’t make California a must-visit destination.

Shanghai

Alison’s third pick is a place in which she describes “sticking out like a sore thumb”, but Shanghai taught her a lot and she has very fond memories of the people and places she visited.

Dubai

Any suggestion that Alison picked this city of beautiful weather and opulent architecture purely because she got to stay in their 7-star hotel will not be tolerated. It is very hot though.

Mark’s picks

In order of discussion:

Sydney

Mark went flew to Sydney via Singapore, and did most of the things you’re supposed to do in Sydney. This is also a top pick for Alison.

New York City

Mark’s second pick is not necessarily a place you’d want to live, but definitely one you should take a good long look at. It’s not on Alison’s list, but perhaps it can make the final?

Egypt

Although it’s not necessarily a place Mark wants to visit alone, he’s captivated by the history of Egypt.

Jamaica

This nearly made Alison’s list, but it makes Mark’s because of its culture and its weather. That said, the disparity in wealth was a concern for both parties.

More of Alison Edgar

Alison is the Managing Director of Sales Coaching Solutions, author of Secrets of Successful Sales, and business speaker. You can find her on Twitter, Instagram, and on LinkedIn.

Links


Oct 08, 2019
9: Top 5 competitive solo beatboxers
3391

Guest


Tani Levitt


Podcast producer for 247 Sports, host of SpeshFX, goofball extraordinaire.


Prepare to have your face melted clean off as you enter a whole new world of mouth noise, with guest Tani Levitt. And remember, if you’re sitting in the plash zone, you will get spittle all over you.

Tani presents SpeshFX, a narrative podcast that dives deep into the fascinating world of competitive beatboxing. If you’re familiar with the rap battle scene, it’s like that but nicer, and where people make their O face when being hit by several megatons of sick beats (just helping ease you in with the lingo).

Tani got into the scene via his brother, and started charting not only the beatbox battle scene, but also his own education, through SpeshFX. If you want a primer, start with his Beatboxing Basics YouTube playlist.

The world of the beatbox battle

Beatbox battles are judged equally on musicality, technicality, originality and stage presence. Both Tani’s and Mark’s picks have these qualities in spades, and especially for Tani who’s well-versed in this world, it can be difficult to rank performers when they’re at such a high level. So, mad props to all those spittin’ bars. (Is that a thing?)

Honourable mentions

Tani’s picks

In order of discussion:

Alem

This French master is Tani’s first pick for his technicality. He’s a multi-award-winner, having taken trophies home throughout the decade. Tani says his battle spirit and technicality are unparalleled.

Alexinho

Tani believes this Frenchman has the best singular set in beatbox history, and cites his 2017 battle against Two.H as “a masterstroke of technicality” and “90 seconds of non-stop power”. Check out the linked video, and watch for the tennis ball drop.

Hiss

This super-young and confoundingly-talented South Korean beat NaPoM to the finals in 2017. Tani describes him as a human metronome with a wide range of sounds. His studio album /Voiss/, released this year is available now.

Gene Shinozaki

This Boston beatboxer, originally from California is Tani’s favourite, for his pure musical talent. Ha made his stamp on the beatbox world in 2015 with his set entitled Jigsaw, for the Grand Beatbox Battle.

Mark’s picks

In order of discussion:

NaPoM

Hailing from the US, Neil Patrick Meadows (NaPoM) is Mark’s first pick as an entertainment powerhouse. He learned much of his technique from Tani’s #1 pick Alem, and Mark’s guest says he “redefined, with his lip roll, what it meant to be a cultured beatboxer”.

Codfish

Mark’s second pick caught him by surprise, which is why he placed perhaps higher than the other battler he was up against the first time Mark saw him. Mark enjoys the Aussie’s swagger and his ability to lift the energy of a room, and as of two weeks before this episode was recorded, his YouTube channel passed a million followers.

D-Low

Mark appreciates this Brit’s stage presence, entertainment value and sense of humour, and his ability to drop out of a beat, make a goof and unfailingly return. He won the Under-18 UK Beatbox Battle in 2014, and made it to the 2015 World Championships on the back of his wildcard video submission. Tani appreciated his moves in his battle against Colaps in this year’s Grand Beatbox Battle.

MB14

Frenchman Mohamed Belkhir, better known as MB14, is Mark’s final pick for his “amazing mouth gymnastics”, but he’s not been a solo battler for more than 15 months, having come up as part of Berywam. You can also check out his loop station album.

Where to go next

If this has got you ready for more, you can follow the scene

on YouTube

via SwissBeatbox, the host of the Grand Beatbox Battle, or Beatbox Battle who host the World Championships every two years,

and on Instagram

via Alem, Hiss, and Madox for the shoutouts, or Swish Beatbox for the goofs.

SpeshFX

You should subscribe to SpeshFX (via Apple Podcasts, Spotify, or wherever you get your podcasts), to learn infinitely more about the beatbox scene than you will here.

Links


Oct 01, 2019
8: Top 5 latin boogaloo albums
3215

Guest


Oliver Wang


Culture writer, sociology professor, disk junkie. Author of Legions of Boom and co-host of Heat Rocks.


This week, Mark embarks on a journey of musical discovery, with Oliver Wang, co-host of the Heat Rocks podcast. If you’re not familiar with latin boogaloo, it’s time to get acquainted.

Oliver loves this fusion of more traditional latin melodies — with complex chords and meandering melodies — and the growing soul music movement, prevalent in 1960s New York, not just because of its inherently physical nature — this stuff just makes you wanna move — but because of what it teaches us about the culture at the time.

Just as a previous generation of immigrants embarked on a cultural exchange with the US and established themselves as the kings and queens of mambo and cha-cha-cha, so a new wave of second-generation American-raised Puerto Ricans, Cubans and Dominicans (to name a few) brought their musical heritage and mashed it up with the popular doo-wop and early R&B styles of the day.

Latin boogaloo wasn’t a lauded genre by purists, who saw it as a bit of a debasement of the complex and intricate style they were used to. It’s a story as old as time.

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Honourable mentions

Oliver’s picks

In order of discussion:

Gypsy Woman — Joe Bataan

Joe Bataan grew up in Spanish Harlem and was at one time a Puerto Rican gang leader, but he avoided trouble by forming a band with some boys from the neighbourhood, which he took to Fania Records. Oliver appreciates Bataan’s vocals as well as the latin music chops of the band, which is what makes it his #1 pick.

I Like it Like That — Pete Rodríguez

Fans of Cardi B will recognise the chorus of this album’s hit single, as it opens I Like It, and is heavily sampled throughout.

Wanted Dead or Alive — Joe Cuba

Bang! Bang!, this album’s first track, was the first giant latin boogaloo hit. Mark believes it both slaps and bangs. Like Pete Rodriguez, Joe Cuba got his start a little earlier, so was ready to capitalise on the genre’s, albeit short-lived, boom.

Acid — Ray Barretto

Released on Fania, this is a good representation of how an older musician adapted to the latin soul music movement, and is what Oliver considers one of the best exemplars of the genre.

My Latin Soul — Bobby Matos and the Combo Conquistadores

In an interview he did with Oliver, Matos revealed how dissatisfied he was with this debut effort, insisting his later work was much more sophisticated and less musically naive, but Olives loves the raw feel of this album.

Mark’s picks

In order of discussion:

Ali Baba — Louie Ramirez

Mark enjoyed the variety of music on offer with this album: the playfulness, sometimes downright silliness, the catchiness of the melodies, and the satisfying sound of brass recorded and played back from vinyl. And for Oliver’s part, you can’t talk about Louie Ramirez without bringing up his production partner Bobby Marin.

Watermelon Man! — Mongo Santamaria

Mark is always a sucker for a cover of Herbie Hancock’s /Watermelon Man/. He felt this album was perhaps a little more sophisticated or stylish than some of the other offerings, but Oliver thinks of this as more of a porto-boogaloo album than a boogaloo album proper. Given that, perhaps more attention should be paid to Mongo’s son Monguito, who had a great career in the genre. If you want to hear what that sounds like, Oliver recommends /Hey Sister/.

Laberinto de Pasiones — La Lupe

Mark likes the sexiness of this album, and particularly the cover of Fever, which is, to use his words, “dripping with raunch”. Minus 10 points. La Lupe was one of the few notable latin boogaloo artists around at the time, so plus 10 points.

At the Party — Hector Rivera

While the title track is fun and energetic, Mark appreciated the smoother stylings and melody of Pra Vas Wilma. Oliver says that this album, like perhaps dozens of others at the era, were able to catch lightning in a bottle, even if we won’t remember them in decades to come.

More of Oliver Wang

As we recorded, Heat Rocks, the podcast he hosts with music supervisor Morgan Rhodes, was celebrating their 100th episode. You can, and absolutely should, check it out. You can follow Oliver on Twitter and on Instagram, and read his long-running music blog. All of his links can also be found on his website.

Links


Sep 24, 2019
7: Top 5 bands from Birmingham
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Musician, writer and improv comedian Tom Clabon joins Mark to fight about which of Birmingham’s bands are best, and possibly what the word “definitive” means.

And by Birmingham, we mean Birmingham. The proper one, in the UK.

Tom has performed in bands (like Bussy ), and like Mark knows the pain of publishing music to Bandcamp to little fanfare. But they’re both absolutely not bitter about it. Tom also presented Indie Mixtape on local station Brum Radio.

The pair share gig-playing memories, the venues they’ve nearly been thrown out of (Mark), and the ones they’ve scammed their way into (Tom’s dad).

If you’ve heard of the majority of Tom’s picks, then you already know more about Birmingham’s music scene in 2019 than Mark does. If you’ve heard of the majority of Mark’s picks, then you’re a granddad and death will claim you soon.

Also, Mark tries to coin a phrase for the pro-life movement, but doesn’t do a good job, and Tom threatens to give Mark a weird handshake.

Get the Spotify playlist

To follow our Spotify playlist, full of all the bands we mention — even the ones Mark doesn’t like – sign up to Extra Envy, our free newsletter.

Honourable mentions

Tom’s picks

In order of discussion:

Johnny Foreigner


Tom saw two members of this indie four-piece play when he was learning to be a sound engineer.

Mutes


This Krautrock project just about makes the definition of “band”, but deserves notoriety for interestingness and reflective lyrics.

Hoopla Blue


Expect combinations of sounds you won’t hear elsewhere, from this neo-folk five-piece.

The Cosmics


This noisy garage punk band make Tom’s list because they’re really, really good to listen to.

Mark’s picks

In order of discussion:

Electric Light Orchestra


Mark argues that Alan Partridge favourite ELO is deserving of a high place as an innovative and inspirational band. It’s worth noting that the song Livin’ Thing is not political.

Misty’s Big Adventure


Currently an eight-piece, but occasionally fluctuating in size, Misty’s are an eclectic and compelling listen, and personal favourites of Mark for the last 20 years. Also Dave Gorman likes them.

The Moody Blues


This three-piece 60s prog rock band hit the big time back in the day but don’t make a lot of noise about it, or so says Mark.

More of Tom Clabon

Check out Cat’s Cabinet of Curiosities, the podcast Tom co-hosts, and OK Stop, the improv troupe he and Mark can be found performing in, every month.

Links

Special Guest: Tom Clabon.

Sep 17, 2019
6: Top 5 pop punk bands of the 2000s
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Musician and podcaster Brendan Hutchins joins Mark to discuss guitar music from the early 21st century.

Brendan loves pop punk for its energy and reasons of nostalgia, and has lots of names to bring to the table. He also helps Mark define what /isn’t/ pop punk.

Mark based his list on bands who had seminal or otherwise important albums during the early 2000s, and while Brendan’s picks are perhaps from slightly younger bands, none of them formed post-2005.

Mark shares stories about plectra, music he discovered through Kerrang! Radio, and stuff he used to play on his old radio show (like this from Of Kings and Captains ).

Brendan also sings the praises of Bowling for Soup’s guitarist, who performs tricks with his pick!

Hear the commentary track

https://naftpod.podiant.co/e/list-envy-commentary-1-an-emotional-reaction-37a91b10036a0e/

Hear Brendan and his Nobody Asked for This co-host Arron Wong discuss the first part of this episode, director’s commentary style.

Get the Spotify playlist

To follow our Spotify playlist, full of all the bands we mention — apart from one that really doesn’t fit the bill! – sign up to Extra Envy, our free newsletter.

Honourable mentions

If you’re interested in the rivalry between Taking Back Sunday and Brand New, check out this episode of The Sound and the Story.

Brendan’s picks

In order of discussion:

Goldfinger

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Brendan picks this ska-peppered, high-energy four-piece from LA. Mark wonders if they’re too aggressive, but Brendan quickly counters. Mark once saw them support Reel Big Fish, and both of them love Superman. Also Brendan recommended Counting the Days.

Blink-182

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Although Enema of the State came out in the previous century, Brendan would appear to have made a solid choice in this cheeky Californian trio. But will pedantry win the day?

Good Charlotte

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Although they faded a little from Brendan’s heart after their self-titled album, these Maryland boys still rank highly for both.

New Found Glory

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Viewed by some — at least Brendan’s friend Aaron — these Floridians definitely have that pop punk energy, but is Brendan picking them out of a sense of duty, and will that ding him come the final reckoning?

Sugarcult

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Mark had never heard of these Californians, but Mark was charmed by Bouncing off the Walls.

Mark’s picks

In order of discussion:

Sum 41

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Mark argues that this Canadian four-or-five-piece — depending on the era — have the right energy and sound, but they don’t even make Brendan’s honourable mentions.

Green Day

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This would appear to be a lock, but on /List Envy/, nothing is certain. This Californian trio jumped the shark in 2005 by going from talking about girls to talking about politics. Also Brendan saw them live, twice, and they were in his face.

Bowling for Soup

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Brendan’s friend wanted these Texans bumped from the list, but Mark insists that Girls All the Bad Guys Want is definitive of the genre.

The All-American Rejects

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This Oklahoman four-piece don’t make it anywhere near Brendan’s list, which does not bode well for the final. Perhaps it could be considered a /Swing, Swing/ and a miss.

Fountains of Wayne

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Brendan’s never heard of this New York foursome, nor of their smash hit /Stacey’s Mom/. Mark’s case for adding them is not strong, as they fail on almost every test of the genre.

More of Brendan Hutchins

You can follow Brendan on Twitter, check out the Podcast Advocate Network and check out his new single, Fall Fast.

Links

Special Guest: Brendan Hutchins.

Sep 10, 2019
5: Top 5 British sitcoms of the 1970s
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Writer and Internet raconteur Jon Bounds joins Mark to build a list close to his heart.

Jon grew up on 70s sitcoms and wants nothing more than to share his love. If you’re in the UK, these might be shows you can check out on Yesterday or in film-form via Talking Pictures.

Jon is a student of erstwhile TV, a fact clearly demonstrated by his massive affection for the 80s tele-phenomenon than is Boon.

Mark and Jon’s differences in comedy tastes are perhaps best illustrated by the fact that Jon quite likes Not Going Out, and Josh, which Mark really doesn’t.

Honourable mentions

Jon’s picks

In order of discussion:

Porridge

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Created and written by Dick Clement and Ian la Frenais, and starring Ronnie Barker Richard Beckinsale , /Porridge/ is set in Slade Prison and follows the exploits of inmates Norman Stanley Fletcher and Lennie Godber. The series also transferred to film.

Fawlty Towers

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Created and written by John Cleese and Connie Booth, and starring Cleese and Prunella Scales, /Fawlty Towers/ follows married hoteliers Basil and Sybil Fawlty, a small band of employees and a series of troublesome guests.

Whatever Happened to the Likely Lads?

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Another offering by Clement and la Frenais , this is a sequel to the 60s slice-of-life sitcom The Likely Lads, starring James Bolam and Rodney Bewes as two working-class Newcastle mates, Terry and Bob (respectively).

It’s also another series that made its way to the big screen… ish.

Citizen Smith

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Created and written by John Sullivan, and starring Robert Lindsay, this is often cited as Sullivan’s second most-important work to Only Fools and Horses. The series follows young Marxist and petty criminal Wolfie Smith, self-proclaimed leader of the Tooting Popular Front.

Mark’s picks

In order of discussion:

Open All Hours

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Created and written by Roy Clarke, and starring Ronnie Barker and David Jason, /Open All Hours/ is a gentle sitcom about a miserly shopkeeper, Mr Arkwright, and his young apprentice, Granville.

Man About the House

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Created and written by Brian Cooke and Johnnie Mortimer , and starring Richard O’Sullivan, Paula Wilcox and Sally Thomsett , /Man About the House/ was a short-lived series following student chef Robin Tripp and his two female housemates, Chrissy and Jo.

Some Mothers do ‘Ave ‘Em

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Written and created by Raymond Allen and starring Michael Crawford and Michele Dotrice as married couple Frank and Betty Spencer, Mark’s third pick is a fried slice of forgettable slapstick.

The Good Life

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Created and written by John Esmonde and Bob Larbey, and starring Richard Briers and Felicity Kendal as Tom and Barbara Good, the series begins with Tom’s decision to quit his job and live off the land. Neighbours Margo and Jerry Leadbetter join a small cast of characters in this sweet show about escaping the trappings of modern 70s life.

More of Jon Bounds

You can listen to Jon’s new podcast, That Option No Longer Exists, read his writings on Paradise Circus, and follow him on Twitter.

Links

Special Guest: Jon Bounds.

Sep 03, 2019
4: Top 5 British foods
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Mark talks to podcaster and “unapologetic Anglophile” Jen Tierney about the foods eaten and loved by “a nation of shopkeepers”.

As a young girl, Jen was persuaded to watch a BBC adaptation of Pride and Prejudice, and has since made it her mission to consume all things Brit. As well as eating, Jen likes to cook, learning from /The Great British Bake Off/ and demonstrating more knowledge of British baked goods than the host of this podcast. Case in point: the popover.

Honourable mentions

Friends don’t take friends to Greggs

This is a vital public service announcement, brought to you by an experience Jen had in Brighton. Brits, please do not take your non-British friends to Greggs, even for the lols. It’s just not worth it, even if they do now serve a sausage roll that the Internet freaked out about.

Jen’s picks

In order of discussion:

Afternoon tea


You’ve got your tea, you’ve got your scones — or scones, your pronunciation may vary — and a variety of things to spread on top of them. If you’re lucky, you have some tiny little cucumber sandwiches. But it’s all about the ritual.

Jen’s first pick may open up deep, centuries-old battle scars between Cornish people and Devonshire people, who to this day cannot agree on whether you put the cream on a scone first, and then the jam, or do it the wrong way around. (This rule does not apply to the American lunch staple, the peanut butter and jelly sandwich ).

Cornish pasty


This is Britain’s offering to the savoury pastry gods, joining the ranks of the empanada and the calzone. Jen got to experience this particular delight in a chain store in Brighton (which makes good pasties, at least Mark thinks so, although according to TripAdvisor, you should not try the veggie pasties).

Full English breakfast


Bacon. Egg. Sausage. Beans. Fried bread. Fried potato (if you’re good). Fried tomato (if you’re nasty). Black pudding (optional). White pudding (even more optional). It’s a comprehensive payload of complex carbs, proteins and fats… everything a growing girl needs. Just probably not every day.

Mark’s picks

In order of discussion:

Fish and chips


Mark is aware of the responsibility of building a definitive list, and so although he doesn’t hold battered fish in the highest regard, the suffix “and chips” — or as the Scots call it, “supper” — is a shoe-in for his number one. If you haven’t, you should try a saveloy.

Sunday roast


Roast potatoes. Mashed potatoes. Other assorted vegetables. Chicken or beef (or turkey if it’s easter). Yorkshire pudding. Stuffing. Gravy. Delicious. And then… and then… there’s the roast parsnip, the lying turd in the punch bowl that is the British Sunday roast.

Balti


Mark’s home city of Birmingham claims this curry — usually containing lamb but equally chicken or veg (because if you haven’t tried a curried potato, you haven’t lived) — as its own, having been introduced to Adil’s restaurant in the 1970s. Mark’s recommendation is lamb and spinach, and if you’re pushing the boat out, get a keema naan on the side. Next time you’re in Birmingham, come to the Balti Triangle and enjoy a taste sensation.

More of Jen

Mark was a guest on Jen’s erstwhile podcast back in March 2018, talking about some songs he’d made, but Jen has a new podcast all about parenting, called Our Parents Did What?, which, if you enjoy Sawbones or This Podcast Will Kill You, you’ll be sure to love (you’ll quickly become acquainted with how charming Jen is, as you listen to this episode).

Links

Special Guest: Jennifer Tierney.

Aug 27, 2019
3: Top 5 Harry Potter characters
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This week, Mark is joined by podcaster, improv comedian and Harry Potter superfan Cat Turner, to collaborate on a list of the best five characters in JK Rowling’s Hogwarts universe.

If spoilers are a thing you want to avoid, maybe skip this one until you’re all caught up. Like Mark maybe should’ve.

Cat grew up listening to Stephen Fry read the Harry Potter books, and wants to sort her soon-to-arrive hamster into the appropriate Hogwarts house, but she insists she isn’t a nerd about it.

Mark’s seen some of the Harry Potter films and listened, a little distractedly, to the first four Potter audiobooks.

As well as knowing everything there is to know about Harry Potter, Cat is also a maths genius, which is something she credits partially with her own Professor McGonagall. Cat also presents Cat’s Cabinet of Curiosities, a podcast uncovering the weird things people believe, like that the Titanic was switched at the last minute, or that Beyoncé faked her pregnancy.

Cat’s guide to Hogwarts houses

  • Gryffindors are brave, but if you self-identify as one, you’re an idiot.
  • Ravenclaws are clever but a bit up themselves.
  • Slytherin are cunning, but the less said about them the better.
  • Hufflepuff is clearly the best house. Work hard and stick to it.

We have bones to pick with JK Rowling

  • Put diversity properly into your book, and don’t try and retrofit it after the fact.
  • Rowling follows TERF s on Twitter.
  • The American Hogwarts equivalent, Ilvermorny, is problematic.

Honourable mentions

Here are some characters we like, but didn’t make it into our lists. If you finish the episode notes before you get to the end, relax; we know and we address it.

Cat’s picks

In order of discussion:

Rubeus Hagrid


We could all stand to be a little bit more like Hogwarts’ Keeper of the Keys and Grounds. He’s Cat’s top pick as a character with kindness, heart, and the ability to learn from his mistakes. She would have liked a little more back story into the character’s early life, as the son of a human man and a giant woman.

Regulus Black


While his brother Sirius was sorted into Gryffindor, Regulus was sorted into Slytherin and dragged into the Death Eaters. He’s a top pick for Cat as a once conflicted character who makes the ultimate sacrifice, for the right reasons.

Lavender Brown


Cat picks this true hero of Hogwarts and fully paid-up member of “the DA” because femininity should never be viewed as a negative trait.

Professor McGonagall


Cat likes Minerva McGonagall because she knows how to walk the fine line between a lightly conspiratorial chat with a student, and the discipline that’s necessary to wield as a Head of House. She also provided a much-needed moral compass to Dumbledore.

Dobby the house elf


Cat’s final pick is a character who adds some essential comic relief, but who also has a great amount of heart. Or had. You were warned about spoilers.

Mark’s picks

In order of discussion:

Professor Snape


Mark’s first pick presents as a baddy, but is a complex and contradictory character. Cat thinks he should grow up, and has some better suggestions if duality is the criteria.

Professor Dumbledore


Cat throws a dark spanner into Mark’s list by schooling him on the Hogwarts headmaster’s motivations, but Mark thought it was silly to build a top five list of Potter characters and not have him in.

Neville Longbottom


Mark will always pick an underestimated underdog, and he likes Harry’s classmate for the bravery he finds in himself in later books.

Hermione Granger


Although she might induce an eye-roll, Mark’s final pick is someone with a strong moral compass, a big brain and a big heart.

More of Catherine Turner

You can, and should, find Cat’s Cabinet of Curiosities wherever you find fine podcasts, and follow her and the show on Twitter.

Links

Special Guest: Catherine Turner.

Aug 20, 2019
1: Top 5 childhood toys
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Improv comedian and self-styled “failed jogger” Lucy Day joins Mark to relive their childhoods and complain about the toys they never had.

Both Mark and Lucy wanted a Mr Frosty but were denied one, and were both fans of the wonderful book and TV series The Animals of Farthing Wood. Mark nearly tells a story about showing a family member his organ (it’s fine), and Lucy reveals the toys that made her anxious as a child, namely Crocodile Dentist and Etch-a-Sketch.

Trigger warning: if you ever put on a show for your parents and they told you they were watching, they weren’t. Sorry. Also, it turns out that growing up isn’t about not being able to do anything you want, but about being able to do anything you want, but having to face the consequences.

The pair also compare the dogs they had. You can be the decider as to which one is best.

A note on privilege

We all know that when Lucy says she had a “privileged” upbringing, she’s being a bit self-deprecating rather than elitist. You know this, but now it’s in print.

Honourable mentions

Lucy’s picks

In order of discussion:

Dressing-up box

Made with love and care by Mum, with some items donated by other family members — perhaps those no longer with us — the dressing-up box is one of many doors to a whole world of imagination.

Sega MegaDrive

Americans mistakenly call it the “Genesis”, but to everyone who grew up in the 90s outside of North America, the Sega MegaDrive was a thing of 16-bit beauty.

Lego

Lucy played with what by today’s standards might be considered a paltry amount of bricks, but “back in our day”, they were simply what was on offer. And they were enough. Lucy used to build things with her dad, in a world before Marvel and Star Wars sets were everywhere (usually on the floor).

Sindy

This “cheap woman’s Barbie” was not necessarily a feminist icon, but she was affordable. Back then it was all about the drama, and the necessary intermingling of characters from the Sindy universe and Sylvanian Families.

Spirograph

Like Lucy’s life (apparently… we’re probably not best equipped to judge), the Spirograph showed great promise but was ultimately less-than-satisfying after a few goes.

Mark’s picks

In order of discussion:

Karaoke machine and portable tape player

Mark and his friend used to record secret missions with each-other, with the mission-setter using the karaoke machine to make an instructional tape the player would play, as he navigated the world his friend had created, fighting awkwardly.

Sega Game Gear

Mark saved up his own money to buy this handheld 8-bit console. It scored over the Game Boy as it was full-colour and had a landscape screen, but there weren’t enough original titles to keep it afloat. Very well-off boys and girls might have added the optional TV tuner so they could watch telly on a 3” screen.

Teddy bear

Mark’s teddy was called Havy, for some reason. He was brown and had a little red heart on his chest. Mark loved him very much, but he probably had to go to where all teddy bears go after a while, when the stuffing can no longer be replaced.

Magna Doodle

Unlike the aforementioned Etch-a-Sketch, the Magna Doodle was a freeform drawing device that promised a lot more creative freedom. Apparently divers use it underwater — even though they’re absolutely not rated for that use — because the “ink” is based on magnetism, not gravity.

Train set

The video Mark was thinking of, with Thomas doing stunts doesn’t involve 50 Cent — that’s another one — but is an iteration on the Thomas the Dank Engine meme.

Links

Special Guest: Lucy Day.

Aug 13, 2019
2: Top 5 journeys to scientific discovery
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In this first episode, Mark speaks with sleep and respiratory scientist Max Thomas, all about science! Specifically, the unexpected or otherwise fascinating discoveries that have brought us incredible advancement. There’s also stuff about bums and willies, too, and more than one object being inserted into more than one dog.

Max makes a living out of making people breathless, which is a cool way of saying he studies how people breathe, and often has to make them not breathe very well so he can find out why they’re not breathing very well… you’re smart, you get it.

This episode was recorded on Black Wednesday, which, it has been posited, might not be the day you want to find yourself in hospital, as it’s the day when trainee doctors start their residencies. But we’re pretty sure it’s fine now.

Honourable mentions

Max’s picks

In order of discussion:

Radiocarbon dating

This method for determining the age of an object containing organic material is Max’s number one, purely because of the journey. We’re able to utilise a substance called carbon 14 which only came about because of nuclear testing, so… thanks?

Sildenafil

This drug is more commonly known by another name, and is usually blue. Its discovery was somewhat accidental as the scientists working on it were trying to treating heart-related chest pain.

LSD

This is actually Max’s fourth pick. We have Albert Hofmann to thank for this psychedelic drug, and if you’ve never heard of Bicycle Day, you’re in for a treat.

Self-experimentation

Max celebrates German physician Werner Forssmann, who was told that catheterising the heart (sticking something inside it) would cause it to fibrillate (wobble unnecessarily). So on catheterising a dog, he then decided to experiment on himself. Total lad.

Peptic ulcers

While the destination might not sound the most thrilling, the self-experimentation of Austrian scientists Robin Warren and Barry J Marshall makes the journey that bit more interesting, and secures the humble stomach ulcer — and its treatment — a place in Max’s list.

Mark’s picks

In order of discussion:

X-Ray

German physicist Wilhelm Roentgen was working with a cathode ray tube in 1895, when he noticed a nearby screen glowed in a dark room. So he stuck his hand in front of the tube and saw his bones in the projected image on the screen. In 1896, doctors started journaling their hair loss and other ailments caused by exposure to X-rays. 🤮

Penicillin

1928, Sir Alexander Fleming saw mould growing in a dish of bacteria. He noticed the bacteria wasn’t growing around the mould, which secreted a chemical that inhibited bacterial growth. And apparently it has nothing to do with him seeing a mouldy piece of bread.

Laminated glass

In 1903, Edouard Benedictus dropped a glass flask with a liquid plastic solution in it. The liquid evaporated, but the glass didn’t shatter, and maintained the shape of the container. With this discovery, he created laminated — or safety — glass, which is used in safety goggles and car windscreens.

Pacemaker

Wilson Greatbatch was building a device to record heart rhythm, and on pulling a resistor out of a box and fitting it, he found it was the wrong size, but the electrical pulses emitted by the circuit made him think of a previous idea that electricity might stimulate the heart

Microwave oven

This was discovered in 1945 by Percy Spencer, and involved him pointing vacuum tubes at different things, after a chocolate bar melted in his pockets. The first microwave weighed 340kg, and the first desktop unit sold in 1965 for $500.

Quinine

Many know that quinine is used in tonic, which is in turn used in a gin-and-tonic. As Max points out, we used to put gin in tonic to make the tonic drinkable, whereas now we have nice-tasting gins.

More of Max Thomas

Max is part of Birmingham-based improv comedy troupe OK Stop!, who you can see perform at 1000 Trades in the Jewellery Quarter on the last Wednesday of every month. You can also follow Max on Twitter @ maximum_science.

Links

Special Guest: Max Thomas.

Aug 13, 2019
Introducing List Envy
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What are your top 5 sandwiches? What’s the best way to rank Bond films? Which are your favourite misheard lyrics? Making lists is good, but it’s better with friends.

This is List Envy, a podcast where Mark Steadman collaborate with actors, writers, musicians, comedians, scientists and podcasters to build a definitive top 5 list on a topic of the guest’s choosing.

Clips in this trailer include * Cat Turner from Cat’s Cabinet of Curiosities, talking about Harry Potter characters * Writer Jon Bounds on 70s British sitcoms * Musician Brendan Hutchins on pop punk banks of the 2000s * Comedian Lucy Day on the toys we had as kids

List Envy launches on August 13th with 2 episodes, and new episodes come out every Tuesday on Apple Podcasts, Spotify or wherever you’re reading this now. Search for the podcast by name, or visit the website.

Links

Aug 05, 2019