Philosophy vs. Improv #24: Game Time w/ C. Thi Nguyen

Thi is a philosopher of games, making him a perfect match for this podcast. Why are games worthy of philosophical study? What counts as a game, anyway? We play a frustration game, finish each others' sentences, and ask dumb questions on a museum tour. It's an unusually discussion-focused episode! Picture is by Zahra, grabbed from this article. The art for this episode is by  Continue Reading …

PREVIEW-Ep. 285: Nicolas Malebranche on Knowledge (Part Two)

Subscribe to get Part 2 of this episode in its entirety. Citizens can get it here. Continuing from part one on Dialogues on Metaphysics and Religion (1688), ch. 1-4. We talk about the character of the intelligible world: It resists certain thoughts, like you can't make 2+2=5. It has the intelligible idea of extension in it, which is what substance in the physical world  Continue Reading …

Pretty Much Pop #114: The “West Side Story” Story

Did it make sense for Steven Spielberg to remake one of our nation's most beloved musicals (with music by Bernstein and Sondheim!), attempting to fix the parts that did not age well politically? Is the new version a modern classic or a doomed Frankenstein? Your host Mark Linsenmayer is joined by Broadway scholar, theater critic, and actor Ron Fassler; Remakes, Reboots, and  Continue Reading …

Ep. 285: Nicolas Malebranche on Knowledge (Part One)

Subscribe to get Part 2 of this episode. Listen to a preview. Hear this part ad-free. On Dialogues on Metaphysics and Religion (1688), dialogues 1-4, featuring Mark, Wes, Dylan, and Seth. Malebranche presents a rationalist epistemology that is more like an early modern version of Plato than anyone else we've read. He comes chronologically between Descartes and Leibniz, and  Continue Reading …

Ep. 285: Nicolas Malebranche on Knowledge (Part Two for Supporters)

Continuing from part one on Dialogues on Metaphysics and Religion (1688), ch. 1-4. We talk about the character of the intelligible world: It resists certain thoughts, like you can't make 2+2=5. It has the intelligible idea of extension in it, which is what substance in the physical world is modeled after. This is an idea that is given to us as infinite: Space is infinitely  Continue Reading …

Ep. 285: Nicolas Malebranche on Knowledge (Part One for Supporters)

On Dialogues on Metaphysics and Religion (1688), dialogues 1-4, featuring Mark, Wes, Dylan, and Seth. Malebranche presents a rationalist epistemology that is more like an early modern version of Plato than anyone else we've read. He comes chronologically between Descartes and Leibniz, and provided some foundational insights for Hume's take on causality, Berkeley's idealism, and  Continue Reading …

NEM#163: Lilli Lewis Is Not Just a Jazz-Singing Pianist

Lilli is also an activist, folk-rock diva, record label executive, and daughter of a preacher man. She's released 10 albums and 3 EPs since 2003. We discuss "Coffee Shop Girl" and listen to "Copper John" from Americana(2021), "Warm and Gentle People" from We Belong (2019), and "Song for the End of Days" from Castles of Her Crystalline (2005). Intro: "Lady" from The Coming of  Continue Reading …

Pretty Much Pop #113: The Matrix Regurgitated

PMP#113: The Matrix R It's a Pretty Much Pop season one reunion, with Brian Hirt and Erica Spyres back with Mark Linsenmayer, plus very special guest Abe Linsenmayer, Mark's adult son. In light of the release of The Matrix Resurrections, we talk through the franchise as a whole. What made the first one remarkable, and does that a bar that any sequel can reach? We talk  Continue Reading …

Philosophy vs. Improv #23: Things Mean Things w/ Tommy Maranges (aka Philosophy Bro)

Can we have an entertaining discussion inspired by Aristotle's most boring book? Bill leads Mark and our guest Tommy through some let's-describe-what's-in-an-imaginary-room exercises.  Dark Tourist, I'm Sorry, the bookCan we have an entertaining discussion inspired by Aristotle's most boring book, The  Categories? Bill leads Mark and our guest Tommy through some  Continue Reading …

PEL Nightcap New Year’s Party to Welcome 2022

Welcome to an extra special, intentionally public edition of Nightcap to catch you up on what Mark, Wes, Seth, and Dylan are all up to personally and intellectually and hash out what we want to potentially cover on the show over the next year. Thanks so much for being a PEL supporter. We really appreciate you and hope that your 2022 makes you happier and wiser. The next  Continue Reading …

PEL Nightcap Late December 2021

Recorded 12/3/21. We announce the new Discord server, which has been out for a few weeks now for supporters like you to chat with each other (and occasionally us). Join it. We reflect back on Thanksgiving (yes, timely, I know... back in the old days before Omicron scared us so) and talk about not drinking any more. Follow us on Instagram! Does anyone want to volunteer to  Continue Reading …

NEM#162: Ray Benson (Asleep at the Wheel): Texas Swing for Half a Hundred Years

Ray started Asleep at the Wheel in 1969 and has put out 26 albums of original tunes and classic covers while touring constantly. We discuss the title track from Half a Hundred Years (2021), "Pedernales Stroll" from Keepin' Me Up Nights (1990), and "Am I High" from The Wheel (1977). Intro: "The Letter (That Johnny Walker Read)" from Texas Gold (1975). Closer: "The Road Will Hold  Continue Reading …

Pretty Much Pop #112: Class Critiques in Squid Game, Succession, etc.

Popular shows have commented on wealth inequality by showing how dire the situation is for the poor and/or how disconnected and clueless the rich are. How effective is this type of social commentary? Mark is joined by philosopher and NY Times writer Lawrence Ware, novelist and writing professor Sarahlyn Bruck, and educator with a rhetoric doctorate Michelle Parrinello-Cason  Continue Reading …

Philosophy vs. Improv #21: Sentient Garage

The scene is its own entity. What else might be its own entity? Can a machine that passes the Turing test know what it's like to be a bat? We bring in emotions from irrelevant contexts, and we keep hearing them long after they're gone. Episode art by Alvin Alvaro. Audio editing by Tyler Hislop at Pixelbox Media. Hear more PvI. Support the podcast to get bonus stuff and  Continue Reading …

(sub)Text: The Pain of Anonymity in “It’s a Wonderful Life” (1946)

Though sometimes accused of a sentimentality dubbed “Capracorn,” Frank Capra’s films are clear-eyed about the suffering of the everyman. A quintessential director of the Great Depression and World War II eras, Capra expressed better than most the desperation at the heart of a young country’s ambitions. And as a chronicler of his age’s disillusionment and alienation, he joined  Continue Reading …

PREVIEW-Ep. 284: Mark Twain’s Philosophy of Human Nature (Part Two)

Subscribe to get Part 2 of this episode in its entirety. Citizens can get it here. Continuing from part one on "What Is Man" (1905). We work through Twain's metaphors for human nature: We're like engines made out of various materials, and these materials can be refined (through education, which acts to root out prejudice), though the type of material will limit its maximum  Continue Reading …

Ep. 284: Mark Twain’s Philosophy of Human Nature (Part One)

Subscribe to get Part 2 of this episode. Listen to a preview. Hear this part ad-free. On "What Is Man" (1905) by Samuel Clemens aka Mark Twain, featuring Mark, Wes, Dylan and Seth. This rare bit of philosophy wasn't published until after Twain's death (maybe because it was too bleak?), but apparently reflects the mechanistic, cynical take on humanity that informed his  Continue Reading …

Philosophy vs. Improv #20: The “Other” Story w/ Jenny Hansen

What is "othering"? Why did Bill get such a bad grade? Is it because of his feather quill pen? Don't miss our anti-vaxxer drama! This is our first episode with a real philosophy professor on it, and we get to talk about her experience as an academic as it relates to this most socially relevant philosophical topic. Listen to Jenny talk in more depth with Mark and co. on The  Continue Reading …