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Double Feature Podcast #1: Cloverfield and Planet of the Apes
April 11, 2014 10:19 AM PDT
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The Double Feature podcast with Jim Farris and Douglas Lain is landing here, on the Diet Soap podcast feed, until it finds it's own home. This is a bit different from the Former People podcast in so much as it isn't as high brow and will take a look at more B pictures and middle brow fare. It is also different in so much as Jim Farris is a grumpy old man with a history in Hollywood whose knowledge of movies and movie history is extensive rather than a poet or an aesthete or something else grand like that.

The films reviewed in this first podcast are Franklin J. Schaffner's "Planet of the Apes," and JJ Abram's "Cloverfield."

On Cloverfield Farris believes that the film comments on 9/11 in the way Godzilla commented on Hiroshima and Nagasaki, whereas I believe the film fails to comment on anything but affirms our cultural narcissism through its single camera perspective.

Both of us enjoyed Planet of the Apes quite a lot, especially Heston's performance. Cut from this episode is a discussion of the character Nova because Douglas liked this character too much and it made everybody sick to their stomach to listen to him talk about her.

Diet Soap Podcast #208: Egyptian Impasse/After the Impossible
April 03, 2014 11:02 PM PDT
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The guest this week is the philosophy professor and no good commie David Blacker. Blacker is the author of the book "The Falling Rate of Learning" from Zero Books, but this week we discuss his vacation to Cairo Egypt and why he hates anarchists. Blacker is a regular guest and I was glad to talk to him again.

I want to thank John L, John Spillane, Andy M, and Jacob L for their recurring donations to the podcast and to thank Jake C for making a one time donation to the podcast. And urge everyone who enjoys Diet Soap to consider pressing on the paypal buttons and You can also follow me on twitter, friend me on Facebook, send me an email through my website which is

As some of you may have heard I have started writing a book called "How to Watch Star Trek" for Blacker's publisher Zero Books, and I hope to share excerpts from the book as I go along. I also hope to talk to Andrew Kliman, Daniel Coffeen, Andy Marshall, Jason Horsley, and Margaret Kimberley in the weeks to come and maybe even talk to some new people as well. I'd really like to interview the author Jonathan Crary whose book 24/7 describes my life, for instance, and I also hope to land an interview with the editor at Verso who recently released a collection of Althusser's essays. There will also be more film podcasts from Former People and a new possibly recurring movie podcast with my friend Jim Farris.

The music you're listening to right now is Steve Martin's King Tut as performed by Steve Martin and the Steep Canyon Rangers, but in just a moment you'll be listening to David Blacker and I discuss An Egyptian Impasse/After the Impossible.

One Thousand Words Rerun: Manet's Rue Mosnier with Flags
March 26, 2014 11:24 PM PDT
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Due to lack of sleep and poor sound quality on a recording for the Avant Garde edition of Former People I am rerunning an episode of a now defunct podcast I created with my son Benjamin. This is episode three and we discussed Edouard Manet's "The Rue Mosnier with Flags," Baron Georges-Eugène Haussmann's renovation and modernization of Paris in the mid 19th century, and the notion of a dérive.

In the weeks to come on Diet Soap I will be running a conversation with Jason Horsley, David Blacker, Andy Marshall and I hope to talk to Pat Cadigan. I also hope to create podcasts that will track my progress with my book, "How to Watch Star Trek" which I need to write and submit to Zero Books.

According to wikipedia: "The Rue Mosnier Decked with Flags depicts red, white, and blue pennants covering buildings on either side of the street; another painting of the same title features a one-legged man walking with crutches.

Benjamin and I discuss this second painting in this episode.

Diet Soap Podcast #207: Difference and a Space Odyssey
March 21, 2014 07:32 AM PDT
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The guest this week is the pop philosopher Daniel Coffeen. Mister Coffeen is a recurring guest to Diet Soap and this week we discuss aliens, alienation, difference, 2001 and the Men in Black. I want to thank Felix B for making a one time donation to the podcast and urge everyone who enjoys Diet Soap to consider pressing on the paypal buttons at You can also follow me on twitter, friend me on Facebook, send me an email through my website (that's or just wait for the visitors to bring me a message. At the start of this episode Daniel Coffeen and I mention a critical outline/essay about Kubrick's film 2001 that was written by Margaret Stackhouse when she was a junior at North Plainfield High School in 70s. The essay was originally published in Jerome Agel's book "The Making of 2001." Here's an excerpt from her essay/outline: I. The monolith - source of infinite knowledge and intelligence A. Perfection represented in its shape; its color -- black -- could symbolize: 1. Evil and death, which result from man's misuse of knowledge; 2. The incomprehensible -- man, with his limited senses, cannot comprehend the absence (perfect black) of color or light
Former People Film Podcast: Jeanne Dielman, 23, Quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles
March 12, 2014 10:23 PM PDT
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Co-produced by Diet Soap, the Former People film podcast is a discussion series. In this episode, we debate Chantal Akerman's 1975 masterpiece Jeanne Dielman, 23 quai du Commerce, 1080 Bruxelles. Is it a Feminist propaganda film, an exploration of obsessive compulsive disorder, or a hidden camera documentary about your mother? Actually it's a three hour difficulty, a revered housework movie, and an antidote to all the "prostitute with a heart of gold" Hollywood spectaculars you've ever seen. Jeanne Dielman will make you suffer.

It is physical, but you know, when I started to shoot Jeanne Dielman, at the beginning, I was not aware of what was going to be the film. Everything was written in the script already, but still. After three or four days, when I saw the first dailies, I realized and I said, “My God, the film is going to be three hours and 20 or 40 minutes long, and it’s going to be developing little by little.” -Chantal Akerman
Diet Soap Podcast #206: How to Occupy Time
March 06, 2014 01:29 AM PST
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The guest this week is Dr. Jason Adams. Jason Adams is Co-Founder and Co-Director of the Global Center for Advanced Studies and the author of the book Occupy Time: Technoculture, Immediacy, and Resistance after Occupy Wall Street, a book that came out from Palgrave late last year. Jason and I discussed the difference between what is happening now and what is instantaneous or immediate, we talked about resistance as opposed to revolution and, at my insistence, we talked about time travel.

I want to thank Andy Marshall, Jacob L, John L, Ted F and John Spillane for donating as regular subscribers. John Spillane just signed up as a subscriber or recurring donor and Andy Marshall donated both as a subscriber and with a one time generous donation. And if you're listening and haven't given to the podcast before but like what you hear and would like to donate you can find the paypal buttons and Also, as Andy will tell you, the continuing Hegel workshops are doing just that, continuing, and becoming a regular or recurring donor is the best way to get an invite to join in. In fact, I need to make sure John Spillane is invited aboard.

Speaking of reading I recently finished a new short story and I thought I'd share it with the first five or so people who ask for a copy either through Facebook or by email.

The music you're listening to right now is the Pennsylvania Polka from the movie Groundhog's Day. The comic actor and film director Harold Ramis died a few days back and this week's podcast is dedicated to him and his masterpiece. Groundhog's Day, as a movie about Repetition and Difference, would be a great movie to watch as a follow up for this episode I think. So you might check to see if it's streaming on Netflix or somewhere, but right now get ready to listening to Jason Adams and I discuss How to Occupy Time.

Pop the Program #1: Waking Life
February 20, 2014 01:22 PM PST
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This week marks the death of the podcast "Pop the Left" and the birth of a new podcast called "Pop the Program." Varn has grown tired of the left, profoundly tired of it, but he enjoys conversing about all manner of subjects with me, and in an effort to keep the conversation going we've renamed our joint effort. What you can expect in the future are conversations about literature, art, music, philosophy, and perhaps even conversations about dead white dudes like Marx or Guy Debord, but "the Left" will no longer be our primary subject.

This week, at the outset, we discuss the revolutionary ideas in Richard Linklater's 2001 film "Waking Life," and as such this first episode is a transitional podcast. It was recorded for "Pop the Left" but edited as the first episode of "Pop the Program."

Back in 2001 Roger Ebert celebrated Linklater's film and its release: "Waking Life" could not come at a better time. Opening in these sad and fearful days after Sept. 11, it celebrates a series of articulate, intelligent characters who seek out the meaning of their existence and do not have the answers. At a time when madmen think they have the right to kill us because of what they think they know about an afterlife, which is by definition unknowable, those who don't know the answers are the only ones asking sane questions.

Former People Film Podcast: Slacker and Dazed and Confused
February 13, 2014 12:47 AM PST
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This is the second episode of the Former People Film Podcast, a production of the literary journal Former People and the Diet Soap podcast. The conversation was edited on Saturday, February 8th, 2014. This month you'll be listening to a conversation about the Richard Linklater movies "Slacker" and "Dazed and Confused." It's a conversation between Douglas Lain, C Derrick Varn, and Steven Michalkow. In 1991 Linklater captured a moment in the history of American bohemia with his first film "Slacker" and then, 1993, he captured a moment in the history of American high school with "Dazed and Confused." When asked to explain his first feature, the experimental film "Slacker" Linklater reportedly said: It’s the way my brain works, I guess. This is how I feel about the world. I’m looking for a new way to tell a story... You'll hear three different perspective. For one thing, when it comes to "Slacker" I was the one who liked the movie. Varn and Michalkow had a different reaction.
Diet Soap Podcast #205: Rats and Meat Cigars
February 06, 2014 01:44 PM PST
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The guest this week is an old friend of mine and an author. David Friedman lived in Portland in the early 90s, and I met him at the now mythic Telecafe.At the time he was recovering from his rock star status and writing fiction. Today he has a book out, a novel, called Rat House. This is a cool novel, a bleak novel, a rock and roll novel. As one reviewer at Amazon put it, "If you ever wanted to know what it's like to have nothing left to lose, what it's like to dream of turning this nothing into rock and roll, then this book is for you. David Friedman, of Meat Cigars fame, remembers the depravity and debauchery of almost rock godhood so you don't have to." Diet Soap relies on donations, and I want to thank Hylton L for donating and John L for his regular subscription to the podcast. If you'd like to donate to Diet Soap you can find the paypal buttons at You can also follow me on Twitter or Facebook, or send me an email through my website: Here's an excerpt from David Friedman's book: I'd been drinking for three days straight. The tour had taken a lot out of me and I didn't want to be in the same room with the band. Unfortunately, Eugene wanted to talk about our upcoming gig. I slouched down in my seat and sucked on a beer to try to kill my hangover. "The Northwest Music Association showcase gig is at The Vogue next week," he said standing in the living room, our instruments and amps forming a sei-circle around the drums. I looked at each of my band mates, in turn, to see their reactions. There were nods from each, although those nods signified nothing, more like a conditioned reflex. They didn't know what was on the line. "This gig is our make or break moment. It is sink or swim," he said. In this episode you'll hear The Meat Cigars' "Mister Squiggly," "Underground,"and "Brain Death." You'll also hear a clip from Frank Zappa's cover of the Led Zeppelin hit "Stairway to Heaven,"the Ukulele Clan's cover of Dire Straits' "Money for Nothing," and a string quartet cover of Nirvana's "Smells like Teen Spirit."
Diet Soap Podcast #204: Breaking Bad All the Way
January 30, 2014 01:24 AM PST
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The guest this week is Mark Fisher. Fisher is the author of the book Capitalist Realism and Ghosts of My Life (writings on depression, hauntology and lost futures). Fisher is also the author of an essay on the hit television show Breaking Bad for the New Humanist magazine and it's this essay which will be the subject of this week's podcast. I want to thank my subscribers Jacob L and Andy M for their recurring donations and remind you that if you'd like to support the podcast you can find the paypal buttons at To set up this interview I thought I'd paste in an excerpt from Mark Fisher's essay: Who needs religion when you have television? On soap operas, unlike in life, villainous characters almost always face their comeuppance. TV cops may now be required to have “complicated” private lives and dubious personal ethics, but we’re seldom in any serious doubt about the difference between good and evil, and on which side of the line the maverick cop ultimately falls. The persistence of the fantasy that justice is guaranteed – a religious fantasy – wouldn’t have surprised the great thinkers of modernity. Theorists such as Spinoza, Kant, Nietzsche and Marx argued that atheism was extremely difficult to practise. It’s all very well professing a lack of belief in God, but it’s much harder to give up the habits of thought which assume providence, divine justice and a secure distinction between good and evil.

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