Gabfest Radio: The Barcalounger Edition

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On this week’s episode of Gabfest Radio from Slate and WNYC, Political Gabfest panelists Emily Bazelon, John Dickerson, and special guest Jacob Weisberg discuss the vice presidential debate between Joe Biden and Paul Ryan, Mitt Romney’s surge in the polls, and affirmative action back at the Supreme Court.

Then on the Culture Gabfest portion of the show, panelists Stephen Metcalf, Dana Stevens, and Julia Turner discuss the movie Pitch Perfect, wondering whether its wit and charm elevate it above the status of just another performance competition movie. The Gabfesters then discuss comedy kingpin Seth MacFarlane and ponder what it is about the world’s highest-paid television writer that makes his star continue to rise. Finally, they discuss massive open online courses (MOOCs) with Al Filreis, the University of Pennsylvania English professor and online education pioneer who is currently teaching a modern poetry class to more than 30,000 students through Coursera.

Join the Gabfest discussion all week long at the Political Gabfest Facebook page and the Culture Gabfest Facebook page.

Here are links to some of the items mentioned in this week’s episode:


POLITICAL GABFEST (Click here for this week’s individual episode at Slate):

John says Joe Biden was both participant and the guy in the Barcalounger at home yelling at the television.

David Weigel thought people were underestimating Biden before the VP debate. Find more debate coverage on the Slate Politics page. WNYC has a full transcript.

Emily says the administration keeps changing its explanation of the attack on their Libyan consulate; The Washington Post’s Glenn Kessler fact-checks some of the debate’s Libya exchanges.

John notes that Romney has improved more in national polls than in state polls; Nate Silver explored this dynamic on FiveThirtyEight.

Jacob remembers advice from Michael Kinsley — political coverage must change. Here’s Kinsley’s latest reflection on the state of the race.

Emily has a play-by-play report about her morning covering the affirmative action argument at the Supreme Court.

Emily also asked readers for stories about their experience with affirmative action.

Richard Kahlenberg, in a Wall Street Journal op-ed, offers a liberal critique of affirmative action.


Cocktail Chatter:

Jacob chatters about fun British politics.

John chatters about the encyclopedic History of American Presidential Elections by Facts on File, Inc.

Emily chatters about “The Hit Man’s Tale” by Nadya Labi in The New Yorker.


CULTURE GABFEST (Click here for this week’s individual episode at Slate):

New York film critic David Edelstein on Pitch Perfect for “Vulture.”

Pitch Perfect director Jason Moore who also directed Avenue Q on Broadway.

Kay Cannon, Pitch Perfect screenwriter also known for writing 30 Rock and New Girl.

Rebel Wilson, Anna Kendrick, and Anna Camp, Pitch Perfect co-stars.

Up in the Air, the 2009 movie co-starring Anna Kendrick.

Another movie in the performance competition canon, Bring It On.

The dance drama movie Center Stage.

Yale’s storied a cappella singing group The Whiffenpoofs.

Swedish pop group Ace of Base’s 1993 hit single “I Saw the Sign.”

The reason a cappella singing is having its moment, the TV series Glee.

Seth MacFarlane’s creations Family Guy, American Dad, Ted and his 2011 album of American standards, "Music Is Better Than Words."

Slate’s David Haglund on Seth MacFarlane as Oscar host.

Seth MacFarlane’s other TV-hosting experience, including Saturday Night Live and the Comedy Central Roast of Donald Trump.

Animated TV comedies The Simpsons and South Park.

Monty Python’s Flying Circus, the BBC comedy series that ushered in the golden age of TV comedy.

The Book of Mormon, the Broadway musical by Trey Parker and Matt Stone, the creators of South Park.

Massive online open courses, or MOOCs.

For NPR, Guy Raz’s report featuring Culturefest guest Al Filreis on online education and Coursera.

Al Filreis’ free online course, Modern and Contemporary American Poetry.

Columbia University’s online learning project Fathom, which closed in 2003.

The New York Times’s story about major research universities offering online courses through Coursera.

The concept of the “flipped classroom” of online education.



Dana’s pick: The Hairpin’s recurring feature “Scandals of Classic Hollywood,” in which Whitman College professor Anne Helen Peterson details the gossip of old Hollywood including posts on the likes of Lana Turner and Johnny Stompanato, Gary Cooper, Gloria Swanson, Fatty Arbuckle, and Dorothy Dandridge.

Julia’s pick: The fine art of cereal mixing, or putting cereal from two different boxes into one bowl. She recommends Cheerios on the bottom and Raisin Bran on top (to account for their varying buoyancies and encourage mixing). The concoction resulting is more than the sum of its parts.

Stephen’s pick: Steve tripled down on the music of crumbling empire and class prerogative by the bands of the Bristol, England, record label Sarah Records. He endorses the 1995 Sarah Records compilation album "There and Back Again Lane."