John has given his graduation speech, to mixed reviews. Ed eats at a hibachi restaurant, to mixed reviews. The two of them mix it up over eggs fried and raw, cake that is also quiche that is also kugel, covering the Dead, androids that sweat and ants that don’t, how to learn to read and also fend off attackers, and whether Walt Whitman is great or just OK. Follow links to crispy rice and egg bowl, cauliflower and parmesan cake, Justin Taylor’s memoir of his father, an excerpt from Adam Price’s novel, the new Ben Lerner, the Big Book of Jewish Humor, the wise men of Chelm, tweet of the day, Goldmund Unleashed, I Saw in Louisiana A Live-Oak Growing, Utah Beach to Cherbourg, Tokio Table, Pawnsylvania, Old & in the Way, Alyssa Harad’s memoir, and the child ballads.
That’s right—Ed and John are back, sooner than expected. Ed’s doing better off of his diet than he was on it. John’s cooking up a bowl of revenge grits. Together they discuss Jane and Phil’s upstate vacation, elaboration in prose writing, trying not to repeat yourself, bluegrass innovation, passed appetizers both comestible and musical, John’s novel idea, and the appeal, to children, of advertising. Follow links to Graywolf’s Literary Soireé on May 15, Elvis’s Worldwide 50 Gold Award Hits, David Chesworth’s 50 Synthesizer Greats, Bridgetown Bluegrass Festival, Zachary Lazar’s Vengeance, Susan Choi’s Trust Exercise, and Rhiannon Giddens.
John’s grappling with some technology. Ed’s got a child’s drum kit in his office. In this episode, they discuss AWP, graduation speeches, some good and underappreciated country music, the misery of social media, long-haul trucking, the most dangerous birds, Passover and other notable meal occasions, and John’s new ambient music act. Follow links to ducks in a row pajamas, the cassowary’s crime, “Tulsa Turnaround”, “Trucker’s Speed”, “Broke”, The Friendly City of Paragould, Franco’s Pizzeria, “New Used Car and a Plate of Bar BQ”, the Ithaca-to-Chapel-Hill country playlist, and Witch on Horseback.
In this episode of America’s favorite imaginary restaurant, John has been visiting the haunted gym and went on a voyage to specious lagoon. Ed’s wearing maritime camouflage and receiving bacon from a mysterious cast member. They discuss eating in Disney World, returning to social media, diet and exercise (verdict: boring), and a bunch of good new books. Follow links to Whispering Canyon Cafe, the Dole Whip, Zach Schomburg, fake Epcot twitter, C.D. Wright’s Casting Deep Shade, Sandra Newman’s The Heavens, Michael Dickman’s Days & Days, and The 13 Ghosts of Scooby Doo.
The holidays are done, and John has got himself a new desk and some opinions about Cheesecake Factory. Ed’s been furloughed and is taking liberties with dinner. He’s also planning a big party at AWP, and you should come. They’ve read a few good books and visited some artisanal web pages. Click through to follow links to Artie Butler, Around Midvale, John’s desk, So Fine, The Show that Never Ends, Abe Vigoda’s status, Joe Pesci’s short speech, Forged in Fire, “Sunny”, and books by Sandra Newman, Sally Rooney, Tory Dent, Catherine Barnett, and Ben Lerner and Alexander Kluge.
Ed’s gotta run—it’s time to take the Cinnamon Bear Cruise. John impersonates a man twice his age by complaining about bureaucracy, and cannot believe what the Elf on the Shelf is actually about. Both of them have written songs about women in clerical roles, and they welcome a guest to the show, Oscar, co-host, with Ed, of the new podcast Water Adventures. They also recommend some new books. Follow links to Cinnamon Bear, Sweet Pea Baking, Punk Rawk Labs, Anniversaries by Uwe Johnson, Sabrina by Nick Drnaso, Mother Winter by Sophia Shalmiyev, and The Word Pretty by Elisa Gabbert.
In this snowy week before Thanksgiving, Ed’s been mushroom hunting and visiting a haunted mansion with his brother, and John’s been making brisket and cooking in a videogame. They discuss getting lost in the woods, creepy houses on creepy roads, synthesizer shops, what to put on popcorn, putting Pernod into a martini, and favorite spicy flavors. Follow links to Big Action Spice Rub, Pittock Mansion, Shades of Death Road and a house for sale there, The Ballad of Buster Scruggs, Crystal Hot Sauce, Control Voltage, the King Bolete, and All the Rain Promises and More.
Ed’s birthday cake was consumed by ants. John’s delivering furniture and dining under sexy angels. In this conversational smörgåsbord, they discuss literary road trips, music festivals, meat experiences, and teaching unwoke books. Follow links to Rosie’s Bistro Italiano, Winter in the Blood, 49 Venezuelan Novels (again), The Bemus Point, Hardly Strictly Bluegrass, 4505 Meats, “The Making of Ashenden”, The Displaced, Air Traffic, Fishtrap, Terminal Gravity Brewing, potato sidewinder controversy, and the Rotato.
Ed went to the Winfield Bluegrass Festival, and John went to the New York State Fair. They talk about pigeons, Aaron Neville’s farm, a good meal’s reliance on the right circumstances, why candy and Cool Whip constitute a salad, and the horror of the walking family taco. Follow links to Molly Tuttle, Maren Morris, frillback pigeons, Freville Farm, Aaron Neville, Jimmy Scott, Dizengoff Hummus, frozen limonana, Zahav, Le Pigeon, The Pesthouse, The Buried Giant, Ling Ma on Severance, Diana Khoi Nguyen, John Mahoney, Succession, The Death of Stalin, and the first photograph of a human being. (Sorry that John sounds lousy. Skype updated itself, wiped his settings, and recorded him through the laptop mic instead of his real mic.)
Ithaca has stolen Portland's weather, Ed's shed is nearing completion, and John is worried about how much context is too much. Also: Idyllwild nearly burned down, John's watching TV, and Ed plans to go to Missoula and to eat the whole bread bowl. Follow links to Cynan Jones's Cove, Nicole Krauss's Forest Dark, Dominique Fabre's The Waitress Was New, the weirdness of season 2 of Friday Night Lights, Foyle's War, Attic Institute, Jimmy Martin, Motorcyclez on Instagram, Baerlic Brewing, Frickin Fried Chicken, and Charm School Social Club.
Ed has to go build a shed with his father-in-law, so let this short episode be your sountrack to America's imminent demise. Hear about Ed's misbegotten road adventures and social media replacement plan, and John's amateur upholstery, covers gig, and and bumper-sticker grievances. Follow links to Birdsongs of the Mesozoic, The Lyres, Valley View Auto, Reginald Dwayne Betts, Blue Heron Rescues, and adoptable pigeons.
John's new desk is kinda sticky. Ed's new desk is a large pile of books. They talk about John's move, funeral eats, Ed's hurt foot, the joys and pitfalls of rotisserie chicken and old houses, and some restaurants and books. Follow links to Rachel Cusk's Kudos, Sebastian Castillo's 49 Venezuelan Novels, Mother Foucault's Bookshop, Rodney Koeneke, Fred Haefele's Rebuilding the Indian, Elizabeth Bishop's "The Bight", The Terror, A. P. Bio, Neverwinter Nights, 24th and Meatballs, and Pizza Jerk.
Smelly ants are emerging from Ed's ceiling, and John is trying to eat fewer carbs. Not no carbs, just fewer. They talk about harmonicas; artisanal ice cream sandwiches; quitting a band and committing even harder to a band; what you get when you slice off a bit of pyramid; a bunch of books; and the imminent demise, or perhaps eternal eminence, of Donald J. Trump. Follow links to the Hohner 280/64, the Dead in Ithaca, frustum, The Iron Horse in Missoula, Andrew Martin's Early Work, Nicolas Freeling, Nicholas Blake, Mount Hood Meadows, Trader Joe's Sublime Ice Cream Sandwiches, Ruby Jewel, and Phở Oregon.
Ed's back from AWP in Tampa and sleeping peacefully, and John has brought a delicious beet dip to dinner for his low-carb friends to eat. They talk about Thai food, dessert hummus, archiving a writer's papers, eggs, Hershey's Gold, the boundaries of obscenity, and our glorious leader Donald J. Trump. They do not discuss the feature film The Florida Project. Follow links to Wat Tampa, Brian Hall's Fall of Frost, ambulance-chaser William Mattar, the Zero Bar, Joey Sweeney and the Neon Grease, Za'atar beet dip, Off the Cob chips, Good Hangups, and Taco vs. Burrito.
Ed and John are joined by frequent guest Alice Bolin, to talk about her forthcoming book, and also about good bookstores in Memphis, songs you write to sing at home, Los Angeles, terrible jokes, remote hoarding, ill-conceived cookbooks, and the state of Florida. Follow links to Joy Williams's Ill Nature, Karyna McGlynn's Hothouse, Alissa Nutting's Tampa, Debra Lafave, "I Have to Go Back to 1994 and Kill a Girl", Elegant Meals with Inexpensive Meats, Xanadu Music and Books, Burke's Book Store, Two Rivers Bookstore, neural networks recognizing sheep, "Sheep" by Robert Francis, The Arrow Book of Jokes and Riddles, and belt balancers.
Ed's thinking about getting a non-poetry job, and John has been living in an alien-infested space station for three weeks. They discuss Ray Bradbury, smokey cheesers, chocolate chip cookies, keeping your car alive, and café menus from distant towns; John describes his dream about a haunted hallway, and Ed describes his dream about getting a ride home from Paul Reiser. Follow links to books by W. S. Merwin, Jonathan Dee, Zadie Smith, and Mary Gaitskill.
Christmas is coming, and John and Ed are decorating their trees with ornaments and lights. Ed played a gig that went just right, and John is a little embarrassed at his collection of LPs. They discuss the feminist divorce ballads of the seventies, guitar amplifiers, the tension between the sentence and the line in poetry, typography, and the Microsoft spaghetti horror. Follow links to Boon's Treasury, Aimee Mann's "I've Had It", Truck Stop Love, Frank Zappa's "Honey, Don't You Want a Man Like Me", Helen Reddy, John's random poem idea generator, Polina Barskova, poets writing during the siege of Leningrad, and Trebuchet.
Back from Thanksgiving travels, Ed and John discuss school library preoccupations, works in progress, the toxicity of twitter, rock and roll reunions, bookstores and record stores, and John's encounters with death and renewed life. Also, Ed has some thoughts about John's novel-in-progress. Follow links to Borne, The Sou'Wester, Michael Hurley, Mother Foucault's, 24PearlStreet writing classes, and TopCityMotherland shirts.
Ed's headed for the Harry Potter Orchestra, and John is trying to throw a tennis ball through a brick wall. Together, they talk about a controversy involving pizza, no-league baseball, date night at a mediocre restaurant, fasting for Yom Kippur, Tom Petty and Kazuo Ishiguro, and wet-hop ale. Follow links to the thorn, Geoff Edgers on "American Girl", 101 American pizzarias, the Portland Pickles, the Rockland Boulders, Matthew Dickman's "Lents District", quantum tunnelling, the Delani/Sonnabend Halls, Plus, The Unconsoled, Ithaca Beer Company, wet hops, and White Dialogues.
Ed has volunteered to help kindergartners punch numbers into a keypad, and John is gearing up for a holiday fast. They discuss Trump's war against football, school lunches, library book marginalia, whether or not to trust seafood, how to cook a lot of scallops all at once, and the cryptozoology of Australia. Follow links to Rachel Ingalls's Mrs. Caliban, The Department of Homeboy Security, chef Jamie Shannon, Tim the Yowie Man, the Canberra Air Disaster, and The Screen Door.