Thursday Listening Party

July 30, 2015 by

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On the Thursdays with no new AMT, we crank up the spoken word audio and have a Thursday Listening Party.
Click here to attend all previous gatherings.

What good stuff have you been listening to this month? I loved:

The Accidental Gay Parents episode of The Longest Shortest Time; and now there’s a second instalment.
The ‘Last Chance to Evacuate Earth’ episode of Here Be Monsters, about the Heaven’s Gate cult.
This very jaunty 99% Invisible about the AIDS red ribbon.
Next on my audio list: fifty years of Annie Nightingale on the radio. Fifty! I interviewed Annie last year, and she still seemed completely excited about and unjaded by her work, despite having done half a century of it.

Catch Olly on the Guardian’s Tech Weekly and LBC. Martin has a new episode of The Global Lab about knowing what rhinos look like before you could watch a David Attenborough documentary about rhinos. And in the new Allusionist, I find out about why stepmothers are so evil, with the assistance of Aaron Mahnke from Lore (a podcast which will be right up many of your streets, I’ll wager).

Catch up on AMT319, in which questioneers have problems with mustard, flags and a dominatrix.

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EPISODE 319: Scientology for Kids

July 23, 2015 by

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Questioneers are full of troubles in Answer Me This! Episode 319, about such matters as:

dominatrixes (dominatrices?)
Simon Says
Nigel Slater Says
wholegrain mustard vs Dijon mustard vs mustard combo
Ritz Hotel vs Ritz Crackers
the Hummus Health Scare
being a bit of an arsehole
lavendar pits
the New Zealand flag referendum
the Black Country flag controversy
and
glitter.

Plus: Olly is obedient to nobody and nothing, except cookbooks; getting-out-of-doing-the-housework schemes suck Helen right into a sub-dom situation; and we can all hope to see the return of the Martin the Sound Man On Ice show.

In today’s Bonus Bit of Crap on the App (available for iThings, Android and Windows devices) renowned theatre- and Disney-adorer Olly rejects Disney on Ice for not being theatrical enough; but we may come up with an ice show that does satisfy him.

Satisfy us with your questions: leave voicemails on the Question Line – call 0208 123 5877 or Skype ID answermethis – and send emails to answermethispodcast@googlemail.com. And join the virtual cuddle-party at facebook.com/answermethis and twitter.com/HelenAndOlly.

Our albums – including season-appropriate AMT Holiday – and vintage episodes are available on iTunes, Amazon, and our own answermethisstore.com. Please do explore those, as well as some of our side projects such as The Allusionist, the Guardian’s Tech Weekly, Martin on a rocking horse.

We’ll return on 6th August 2015 with AMT320.

Helen & Olly

••• AMT319 Child-Friendly Rating: 28%. Some swears.
Martin refers to Marilyn Manson, whose very name corrupts the youth. If you switch it off half an hour in, you will spare your innocent children the final question about a relationship with a dominatrix, which entails discussion of BDSM, sex and Adult Situations. •••

Costume designer Anie's proof of Ice Cinderella's dress colour.

Costume designer Anie’s proof of Ice Cinderella’s dress colour.

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Mensa: secret joy, secret shame?

July 22, 2015 by

CLICK HERE TO CATCH UP ON AMT318

We’ve received the following email from A Dad:

My daughter’s school picked some of the students to sit the Mensa IQ test. The first we heard of this was when she received a letter saying she has a score of 159 and in the top 1% and she’s welcome to join. My daughter, who’s thirteen, is privately very pleased with herself but has no desire to tell anyone, likewise the wife and I have told no one apart from you right now in this email.

She enjoys school, is doing very well and has her path to university set in her sights and beyond. Now the three of us think it’s probably best to keep things low key and it’s just one tiny string to the bow, but answer me this: is there any time the Mensa bomb should be dropped eg gaining a place in 6th form or university? We suspect it could be a negative in the job market in future.

None of us have ever been Mensa members, so I defer to you readers:
i. When can you get the most mileage out of Mensa membership? I’m assuming when picking up people on Tinder.
ii. If you are a member, have you experienced negative side-effects? Eg the Sun describing you as a ‘boffin’ in an article about you?
iii. If you are an employer, would you think, “Ooh, a Mensa member? Top drawer!” or would you point and laugh at the boffin?

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Bluetooth, blacktooth, boobshine

July 22, 2015 by

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Let’s tidy away all our AMT318 business before AMT319 emerges tomorrow. Upon the matter of the origins of ‘Bluetooth’, Erik writes:

I just wanted to point out that the Blue in Harald Blåtand is nothing at all to do with blueberries. In the ancient Nordic dialects of the Germanic language there was no specific word for ‘black’, and in fact all dark colours were referred to as ‘blue’. King Harald had a black tooth which was presumably dead. I leave to you to guess what his breath was like.

While we’re imagining smells, let’s hear from Lisa:

So… Juliet’s balcony… I can in fact tell you something rather interesting. I went to Stratford-upon-Avon Grammar School for Girls (yes, as in Stratford-upon-Avon, the very home of William Shakespeare) and our school was located in a very very old manor house.

In this very very old manor house, the dear bard himself was betrothed in the chapel (which was my Geography room). Even better? ‘The balcony on the outside of the manor is the very balcony that inspired Shakespeare to write the famous balcony scene from Romeo and Juilet.’ Google that shizz if you don’t believe me.

But trust me, this is not as cool as it sounds. Our school grounds were always invaded by Japanese and American tourists who wanted to visit.

That still sounds cooler than my school, but sluicing time on the bowel ward sounds cooler than my school.

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new dough scraper; new old life

July 21, 2015 by

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We love to hear how our questioneers have fared in the wake of our counsel. Here’s a brace of emails from questioneers of episodes long past, some happy, some sad. Let’s start happy, with Eleanor from the Isle of Man from AMT305:

You kindly answered my question in January as to whether I should steal my dad’s dough scraper that he clearly had no intention of using. So imagine my excitement this morning when opening my birthday presents from my husband and children to discover they got me not only a dough scraper, but also an Answer Me This apron! Problem solved!

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Aaah! Feast your eyes on that birthday joy, then bathe in the sorrow of AMT247‘s Emily:

A few years ago I messaged you about being caught by my boyfriend as I was smoking in the bath and how I tried to play it off as in fact me masturbating.

So, the development is that after 3 years together he has left me, as in ‘stood in the doorway with his bags packed when I got home from work’ left me. I didn’t see it coming and this is really shit.

My question is this: how, when you chose the city you inhabit, the flat you live in, the pets you have and the routine that fills your life for your partner, can you stop being constantly reminded of them once they have left you? Note: I now have a grad scheme job, friends here and am tied into a rental contract (foolishly just in my name) so can’t move away.

Comiserations, Emily. But at least now you can do whatever you want in the bath, without stoking his insecurities.

Readers, have you any ideas for Emily to reboot her life? Rearrange the furniture, take a different route into work, hang out with friends in places you haven’t been before? Not sure what you can do about the pets, but perhaps you could teach them to bark in a different key or swim around the little plastic castle in the opposite direction.

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new relationship, old holiday

July 21, 2015 by

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Here’s a conundrum from an anonymous man upon which, readers, I’d appreciate your input in the comments. He writes:

I went on holiday to Amsterdam last year with my now ex. I am now in a new relationship, and have booked a holiday to Amsterdam. So far it’s okay, my current girlfriend has no issues returning to the city for a ‘romantic city break’ despite knowing that the last time I went was with significant ex and (it did take me a long while to get over it blah blah).

However, Helen and Olly, answer me this: should I tell my new girlfriend that the hotel we’ve booked is the same as the one I went to with my ex?

I want to be honest, but at the same time I don’t want it to seem I am just reliving the past etc etc…

For the record, the reason for booking the same hotel is its good location, good price, good mix of guests and they do a really good breakfast…

Mm-hmm, and I’m sure it’s the ONLY hotel in Amsterdam capable of supplying those things.

You say ‘I don’t want it to seem I am just reliving the past’, so WHY ARE YOU RELIVING THE PAST? Or at the very least, rewriting it with a different woman playing the part of ‘girlfriend in Amsterdam’? There are plenty of romantic cities you could visit that you had not been to within the last year with somebody else. But you chose this one. The real question is “Why?” but I suspect you are unwilling to know that answer.

Alright, fine: your question was whether to tell your girlfriend. I don’t think you’ll need to. When she sees you trying to hug the hotel room wall and blubbering about how much you’ve missed it, she’ll probably figure it out.

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EPISODE 318: shiny boobs

July 9, 2015 by

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Summon up all your capacity for doomed adolescent romance, lean over the parapet and cry, “Wherefore art thou, Answer Me This! Episode 318?” In which we discuss:

the oldest pub in Britain
Juliet’s balcony
Juliet’s boob
Cornish pasties vs calzones
Noel Edmonds on Twitter vs Noel Edmonds’s mullet on Twitter
ye vs þe
Cinderella dresses
chat show drinks
alcohol’s evolution
the Skirrid Mountain Inn
the Matrix phone
The Snip
Sally Jessy Raphael
and
King Bluetooth.

Plus: as a result of today’s questioneer, Olly has cancelled his vasectomy; Helen has no time for ‘ye olde'; and Martin the Sound Man is keeping up with the movements of Tiffany, mutually bonded forever by familiarity with Staffordshire.

In today’s Bonus Bit of Crap on the App (available for iThings, Android and Windows devices) we continue to consider Bluetooth, and wonder when our connected household appliances will start embarrassing us on social media. Oh, they already have? Shurrup, kettle, or you’re going in the bin.

Don’t put your questions in the bin; send them to us. Leave voicemails on the Question Line – call 0208 123 5877 or Skype ID answermethis – and send emails to answermethispodcast@googlemail.com. And join the virtual cuddle-party at facebook.com/answermethis and twitter.com/HelenAndOlly.

if you want to try the early ‘experimental’ phase of AMT, our vintage episodes are available on iTunes, Amazon, and our very own corporate megagiant operation answermethisstore.com, built using today’s sponsor Squarespace.com. Try them out – there’s a free two-week trial, then you can have 10% off their website-building and -hosting services for a year if you use the code ‘ANSWER‘. So do!

We’ll return on 23rd July 2015 with AMT319. Keep polishing your boobs till then.

Helen & Olly

••• AMT318 Child-Friendly Rating: 55%. A few swears. At the end, there is question about vasectomies; if your child hears it, it could necessitate you having The Chat: either the ‘how babies are made’ one, or the ‘Daddy, do you actually wish you’d prevented me from being born?’ one. •••

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Greggs: the geographical survey

July 9, 2015 by

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CLICK HERE TO CATCH UP ON AMT317

If you would like to contribute to the geographical survey of variations in Greggs the Baker‘s offerings, please do so in the comments. Then we can commission an infographic. Following AMT317, Steven in Leeds writes:

Greggs do offer regional variation in their range – as a fat northerner, the lunchtime meal of choice in my native Warrington as a sixth former was the meat and potato pasty*, which I was astounded to discover was unavailable when I moved to Yorkshire in 2006. I got over this when I went back home and realised that their ‘meat and potato’ was in fact a kind of pinkish-greyish lumpy paste with no identifiable constituent parts…but I’ll still have one about once a year when I go back home.

*As a side note: They love a bit of meat and potato in the north-west: so much so that in that region Greggs actually do both a meat and potato pie (smaller diameter but thicker filled) and a potato and meat pie (larger diameter and thinly filled), with the respective first parts designating the primary ingredient.

You say potato (and meat), I say (meat and) potato…

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cereal ethics

July 8, 2015 by

cryingcomb

CLICK HERE TO CATCH UP ON AMT317

Readers, please go to the comments and share your views upon this question from Louis:

I have a moral dilemma, I recently discovered that my favourite breakfast cereal is made by a company who I’m informed I should be boycotting for ethical reasons.

So answer me this: should I stop eating the cereal? No other cereal grabs me in the same way, so I don’t really want to change my breakfast routine. Am I a bad person for knowingly paying a company who ultimately do a lot of evil?

Through the prism of your breakfast cereal, Louis, we face the perennial consumer choice pickle. Even if you do try to be a responsible consumer, if you follow a product up its chain, there’s usually evil money/practice SOMEwhere in a big company, riiight? Changing your breakfast routine might prove physically dangerous, riiiiight? Surely true love (of a cereal) trumps all other considerations, riiiiiiiight?

I mock because I know that right now, Louis is floating around in a paddling pool filled with his favourite cereal. ‘Who I’m informed I should be boycotting’ doesn’t suggest personal dedication to the cause.

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manic pixie dream bloke

July 6, 2015 by

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Dreaming of a male match for Zooey Deschanel, Natalie Portman in Garden State or, the original, Kirsten Dunst’s character in Elizabethtown, Drew from North Carolina asks:

Is there a male equivalent of a ‘manic pixie dream girl’?

For a while, the male equivalent was ‘Ryan Gosling‘. But now he seems to have stopped playing ukulele in the street, and started growing sinister facial hair, there is a gap in the lexicon. Manic pixie dream reader, please go to the comments and supply. ‘Jared Leto during his Oscar campaign’ is too long-winded.

PS Here’s Nathan Rabin, who concocted ‘manic pixie dream girl’, wishing he hadn’t.

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Best Before 1976

July 6, 2015 by

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Remember 33-year-old Dave from AMT313 who wanted to eat something older than him? Heidi emailed to say:

Came across this article today and immediately thought of that episode. Apologies if it’s too gross.

Highlights:

Almost half a billion dollars worth of smuggled frozen meat – some of it rotting and more than 40 years old – has been seized in China, official media have reported.

More than 100,000 tonnes of chicken wings, beef and pork worth up to 3bn yuan ($483m) were seized in the nationwide crackdown, the state-run China Daily newspaper said.

“It was smelly and I nearly threw up when I opened the door,” said an official from Hunan province, where 800 tonnes were seized.

Officials from Guangxi, a southern region bordering Vietnam, found some of the meat was “more than 40 years old”, the newspaper said.

That would mean it was packed and stored when the country still under the rule of Communist China’s founding father, Mao Zedong, who died in 1976.

That’s gross, but I suspect there are things in my mother’s freezer that have been there since BEFORE Mao came to power.

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Thursday Listening Party

July 2, 2015 by

Tyson Beckford Hosts Monster Headphones Launch Party

On the Thursdays with no new AMT, we crank up the spoken word audio and have a Thursday Listening Party.
Click here to attend all previous gatherings.

I’m about to go on holiday* for a fortnight, and I want to pack a load of new-to-me podcasts; so this Thursday Listening Party, what I’d love to know is: which podcasts have you recently discovered?

Or, if you prefer to stick to your old favourites, let me know what’s in your regular rotation. Mine changes every few months: there are a few hundred shows stacked up in my podcast app, and many of the ones I like the best are released sporadically; but every week I listen to the latest 99% Invisible, Bullseye and Dinner Party Download.

*But still doing the usual amount of work, so there will be a new AMT in your podbucket next week.

Right now, here’s how I’ll be spending my eartime:
1. Tomorrow is final episode of the second season of StartUp: the stakes seem a lot higher than they did in season one. Good luck, Dating Ring! Also, I thought this article comparing StartUp to reality TV was an interesting perspective.
2. Hooray, Pitch has returned! The first episode of the new season is about cover songs. I am all for this.
3. Since we seem to be on the theme of firsts and lasts, try the new podcast First Time Last Time. What was it like the first time YOU robbed a bank, kids? (Don’t tell me; tell an officer of the law, please.)
4. In the latest installment of ‘things which might be a bit like Serial’ is BBC Radio 4’s Who Killed Elsie Frost?, a fifty-year-old cold case being reinvestigated by a team of journalists and the victim’s brother and sister. It’s available on the BBC website and as a podcast.

We’ve made a few sounds this week: Olly helms the brand new episode of the Guardian’s Tech Weekly, and a fresh Media Podcast will appear tomorrow. In the new Allusionist, I learn about how words can become your worst enemy and how psychotherapy can put them back in their place. Listen at theallusionist.org/behave.

Catch up with AMT316 to hear about the peace symbol, bridegrooms and Greggs the Baker, and rejoin us next Thursday for AMT318.

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