Listen to This: The Adventure Zone

Forever ago, in a past life, I wrote about My Brother, My Brother and Me (MBMBaM for short), ostensibly an advice podcast from the brothers McElroy: Justin, Travis and sweet baby Griffin. Since then, the show has become a flagship of a podcast empire, with the brothers and their friends, family and significant others tackling everything from medical history to etiquette to the Bachelor/ette series. I was fortunate enough to catch the show when it came through D.C. last year, as the boys discussed swampy grundles in the historic Lincoln Theatre (Episode: MBMBaM 306: Foggy Bottoms). And shoot, those are just their audio ventures! Video adventures like Monster Factory, where Justin and Griffin hop into the character creation engine of video games to create abominations unto the Lord, and Griffin’s Amiibo Corner, where Griffin reviews the Nintendo-produced figurines before trying to fit them into his gob, are as funny as anything being produced by television networks nowadays.

Even with all those works, one in particular, The Adventure Zone, has emerged as a standout in its long-form storytelling. In it, the brothers and their father Clint have been playing a multi-arc campaign of Dungeons and Dragons for the last near-three years, concluding today, on Episode 69 no less (nice!), in an over two-and-a-half hour finale. As the show has wound towards its conclusion, Griffin, the dungeon master for this campaign, has masterfully woven characters and themes from the entire series, collaborating with his players to retroactively lend significance to nearly everything that’s happened in the series. Before I disappear into this finale for the next bit of time, I just wanted to go on the record recommending this show to anyone who…well, let’s just stop at anyone. I MEAN GRIFFIN EVEN MAKES THE MUSIC HIMSELF WHAT MORE DO YOU WANT.

Listening to the family learn and goof their way through D&D has been an unexpected and immense pleasure, and I’ve been looking forward to this finale as much as any piece of media this year. While this isn’t the end of the podcast as a whole, merely this campaign, I can’t wait to see where they go next, but for now, take some time to catch up on this fantastic series, wherever you get your podcasts.

RSS Feed: The Adventure Zone

Episode 1: Here There Be Gerblins, Chapter 1

Episode 69: Story and Song, Finale Part 3

Run the Jewels: Tiny Desk Concert at NPR

It's pretty much what it sounds like. Run the Jewels, the rap duo of Killer Mike and El-P, recently came to DC and, after a weeks' postponement, tore down the house at Echostage in a cathartic performance the night before the recent inauguration. While I'm not a huge fan of the venue, the show was tremendous, complete with a guest spot from Zack de la Rocha (of Rage Against the Machine fame). Before the initially scheduled date for the show, they stopped by the studios at NPR to perform a Tiny Desk show, where musicians play stripped-down versions of their songs at a small desk at the office.

Recreating Vatican City in THE YOUNG POPE

HBO's latest limited series THE YOUNG POPE (though seeing a second season is in development has me questioning the meaning of 'limited') has been great through its first few episodes, bringing the sensibilities of director Paolo Sorrentino (THE GREAT BEAUTY, and goodness if you haven't seen it yet stop right now and do that) to the politicking and chicanery that occurs within the walls of Vatican City. At least in a way that doesn't involve Tom Hanks' Robert Langdon haircut running around the place.

In a series with Templars and religious phenomena, this might be the least credible thing in the whole affair.

In a series with Templars and religious phenomena, this might be the least credible thing in the whole affair.

In a Vulture piece, the show's production designer Ludovica Ferrarrio discusses how the show worked around not being allowed to shoot inside Vatican City, by utilizing locations in surrounding Italian cities:

The many frescoes were achieved by using wallpaper, while the illusion of smooth marble flooring was made possible by printing color on treated plywood. A special gloss, meanwhile, brought meticulous gold plating and gold leaves to life.

Other challenges included replicating the meticulous manicuring of the Vatican's gardens, as well as reproducing locations that are iconic in our collective consciousness, and not even just among the devout. If you have HBO, this is currently the best thing on the whole network, and deserves your time. To close, the opening to the show, which by itself is better than most anything aired on television.

The Young Pope - Opening Credits

The iPhone Intro: Ten Years Later

Ten years ago, Steve Jobs took the stage at the Macworld conference to unveil the iPhone. Every once in awhile I go back and watch the first quarter of the video, as it remains the best single product introduction in the company's history, especially when you consider the impact the iPhone has had not just on Apple, but on the world around us.

One of the most peculiar things to see in retrospect is the crowd's reaction to each individual component of the iPhone. While people cheer heartily for the widescren iPod with touch controls, and grown adults were weeping and setting themselves on fire in the aisles for the mobile phone line, the reception was relatively lukewarm for the device as a portal to access the internet, the feature that would come to define the smartphone as we know it today. Probably because up until that moment, this was how people were used to accessing web sites through their mobile phones:

Delicious.

Delicious.

The Media’s Favorite ‘Millennial’ Is 55 Years Old

This Daily Beast story on Dan Nainan, a comedian presenting himself as a millennial in various news outlets, is nuts. Just a glance at him and only someone with a very loose definition of a 'millennial' would think he was age-appropriate. Like, "born in the last millennium" loose. Also a very loose definition of 'comedian'.

Then, there it is on paper: a Maryland traffic court case from last year. “Failure to display registration card upon demand by police officer.” Daniel Nainan of New York City. Date of birth: May 1961.

This does explain why Ötzi was found clutching a ticket to a Dan Nainan show, though.