AMT will return on…

May 19, 2016 by

amt back

While we’re gone…

February 10, 2016 by

…don’t be a stranger. Here’s where you can find us:

Helen tweets as @helenzaltzman.
Her podcast The Allusionist is at theallusionist.org, and @allusionistshow and facebook.com/allusionistshow. Her website is helenzaltzman.com.

Olly tweets as @ollymann and you can be his Facebook fan at facebook.com/ollymann. His website is ollymann.com.
His podcast The Modern Mann is @themodernmann and at modernmann.co.uk; and he is on LBC and the Guardian’s Tech Weekly podcast.
And of course he’s busy taking care of Harvey Mann!

Martin tweets as @martinaustwick and @sociablephysics. His podcast Song By Song is about to start a new series about Tom Waits’s third album Nighthawks at the Diner. You can also hear Martin’s own music on his Sound of the Ladies podcast.

Oh, and AMT communicates via @helenandolly and facebook.com/answermethis.

Please do check out our albums: the new AMT Love, and the eternal classics Sports Day, Jubilee, Holiday and Christmas (’tis the season! The completely wrong season).

All the albums are new material that has not appeared on the podcast; and they are for sale on iTunes, Amazon and answermethisstore.com.

You can also buy our first 200 episodes on iTunes and at the AMT store; and exclusive to our store are our previous Best Of episodes from each year.

Any purchases help to support the show!

Catch up on the 131 most recent AMT episodes right here, and on your podlisteningservice of choice.

Here’s what you can expect from the AMT Love album:

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EPISODE 331: wanking doesn’t change

January 28, 2016 by

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With Olly’s baby poised to make his entrance into this world, Answer Me This! Episode 331 is our last episode before our three-month paternity leave, while Olly adjusts to fatherhood and Helen adjusts to going outside occasionally. Savour answers about:

lads’ mags
cereal toys
spotting the stars of tomorrow as they toil at the Disney parks
‘For He’s as dead as a herring a Jolly Good Fellow’
swimming rabbits
cafes vs brasseries vs bistros
Jane Eyre vs Thelma and Louise
The Lord of the Rings road trips
Jo Guest
Tutti Frutti in 3D
ceramic babies
blue rinses
Bulgarian food
Skyrim
Kevin Costner
and
Titcoin.

Plus: we’ve birthed a new album! AMT Love is out now, and you can read all about it and click to buy it at answermethispodcast.com/love.

A question from AMT Love went astray and ended up as today’s Bonus Bit of Crap on the App (available for iThings, Android and Windows devices). It’s from long-time AMT listener Ace: if you’re young, poor and in Oxford, and you want to go on a Tinder date but you don’t want it to be “Drink?” or “Coffee?”, what do you do instead? Why, you date AMT-style of course! Meet you by the singing cockroaches.

During our three months off, why not amuse yourself by starting a podcast/online store/website using today’s sponsor Squarespace.com? You can have 10% off their website-building and -hosting services for a year, plus a free domain thrown in, if you invoke the code ANSWER at checkout.

We will return in May, but keep in touch in the meantime at twitter.com/helenandolly and facebook.com/answermethis – which is where we will let you know the due date of AMT332 a couple of weeks ahead of time, AND where we will also post news of Baby Mann once he appears (and has been through hair and makeup, had a spray tan, and undergone intensive media training).

All together now: “For he’s a jolly good fellow, for he’s a jolly good fellow, for he’s a jolly good herring…WHICH NOBODY CAN DENY.”

Helen & Olly

••• AMT331 Child-Friendly Rating: 42%
Some swears, but pretty clean until the last ten minutes, when there’s a question about lads’ mags and top shelf publications. YOU KNOW THE ONES WE MEAN. The ones your kids are too short to reach/don’t need to reach because they can view all the proclivities of humanity on your phone that they swiped from you. •••

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airport security

January 27, 2016 by

CLICK HERE TO CATCH UP ON AMT329

Bit of leftover business from last year’s AMT – following AMT329, Phil in Pennsylvania writes:

Helen, answer me this: why didn’t you smack Olly for his idiotic suggestion that people should let their children ride baggage carousels at airports?

Maybe I did, but you couldn’t hear it on the recording…

I’m a “below the wing” worker for a major international airline, so half my job is taking bags off planes and delivering them to the carousel. Every day I see the address tags, straps, buckles, locks and strings getting pulled into the small gaps between the steel plates on those carousels. How is a child’s shoelace, or the drawcord on their hoodie, or their finger any different? I don’t believe in putting children into protective bubbles, but I also believe that parents shouldn’t act like complete morons just for a laugh.

Although, to be fair to the parental Manns, in this case it was the child Olly being a complete moron, to their consternation.

Phil also provides the inside scoop on what the baggage carousels are really for:

Your answer to the baggage carousel question left out a couple of reasons for the existence of carousels: tracking and security. At every step of the process, we use handheld scanners to read the tag on each bag, so we always know where it is. Going on the plane… scanned. Coming off the plane.. scanned. Delivered to the baggage carousel… scanned. If all the bags were just dumped into a big pile, it would be awfully hard to properly scan them.

Also, the area where we drive the baggage carts and deliver the bags to the carousel is a secure area. We pull up to the carousel, open the security doors at either side of the carousel, scan the bags and put them on the carousel. Once all the bags are unloaded, we close the security doors again. (One of my coworkers is now the subject of a police investigation because he didn’t fully close one of the doors a few nights ago. That’s a major you-can-be-sacked sort of mistake.)

Those doors are only just big enough for the bags to fit through, although a person could squeeze through if they tried. But what if the door were big enough to drive a whole cart through? Far too easy for people to wander through, far too hard to secure properly. So, the carousel’s real purpose is to deliver the bags to the passengers while keeping the passengers (and terrorists) out of the secure zone where the planes operate. And then let the airport workers sit in the back, undisturbed, so we can listen to podcasts while we wait for the next plane to arrive.

We can definitely endorse that last reason.

Also, it’s not just us being given the scary once-over by immigration officers in American airports – and it’s not just the American officers who are scary. Noah in San Francisco writes:

A few years ago I (an American) was flying into Gatwick. I was coming to London representing my art gallery for an art fair. When I asked by HMS Customs if I was there for business or pleasure, I answered “Business” in a proud fashion. I had never traveled for business before and was feeling quite proud of myself for doing so. I was, in the blink of an eye, an “international businessman” — but when I looked up to see the eyes of the customs officer, did I realize my grave, grave error. He had the look a starved jackal gives a frightened sheep. The ordeal that followed — what’s the nature of your business, who are you traveling with, just exactly why are you conducting business on our territory and thus clearly depriving others of work — was thorough, exhaustive and exhausting.

I explained everything: the fair was advertised all around London on large banners, advertised in all the current newspapers and magazines; nothing was done in secret, this was a well-publicized fair. He wasn’t having it, and after reappearing after 30 minutes, escorted not only me, but my fiancée and young sister to airport jail! We were thrown in the tank, questioned separately (my fiancée and sister were in separate queues and answered that they were there on please, only making matters worse). I think my sister got the worst of it as she got her diary read and passed around by several customs agents. I MAY have made things worse by answering the question: “Have you ever been searched by this before?” with “Well, once in East Germany in 1987, but it only took half the time.”

My fiancée (and now wife (and mother to my kids)) would insist I was being remiss if I didn’t mention the kind gentlemen jailer who fed us a seemingly endless supply of strangely-delicious triangle sandwiches.

A few hours later, we were released sans passports. Sis had to pickup our passports at the airport the next day, along with sincere apologies from the higher-ups at HMS Customs.

End of Cautionary Tale.

Could’ve been worse, Eric. A friend of mine, on his way back from a holiday in Florida, was held for several hours on suspicion of being the Atlanta Bomber.

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Reunite for Bowie?

January 27, 2016 by

Here’s a melancholy tale from an anonymous man:

There’s no fool like an old fool. And this old fool woke up the other day with the memory of a Bowie song in his head. He woke up next to his wife of almost 30 years, but the song was ‘My Death’ from the sound track of the Ziggy Startdust film.

Many years ago, I fell in love with a French girl, several years my junior. I was 21, she was still at school. We met on a Greek island, dancing to ‘Let’s Dance’ at a beach-side nightclub. To cut a long romantic story short, we had a short but terribly intense relationship, which involved me visiting her in Paris and she coming over to London. She was a Bowie nut and I translated some lyrics for her. Notably ‘My Death’. She also insisted I translate a line from ‘Fame’ that she’d been having trouble with: “Bully for you, chilly for me”.

She was my first real love, and I hers.

Anyway, she was too young to commit and I respected that. We drifted apart and a year or so later I met the future wife. Another year or so later and we had a kid on the way. It was then that my mademoiselle wrote to me at my parents’ address. She said that she was more grown up now and she was ready to be with me forever.

I wrote back – the hardest letter ever: ‘Thanks, but sorry, no thanks.’

Roll on 15 more years or so and with the internet comes one huge worm-can-opener. I found my long lost love and we exchanged a few emails, swapped news. She’d never got married or settled down; I had.

And now, with Bowie’s death, this memory was stirred up. I emailed her again, just to say ‘Hi, I’m thinking of you, hope you’re ok.’

She told me she was very upset and that she’s coming to the UK to pay homage in Brixton, Bowie’s birthplace. She asked if we could meet up for a coffee.

So, answer me this: should I meet her for a coffee?

Readers, go to the comments to advise anonymous man! Should he go for the coffee and risk restoking the flames with the one who got away; or stay home, stay true to his marriage, and stay wondering what would have been?

Quite possibly what would have been is that he’d go for the coffee and find that the woman is now more than 30 years older than the version of her preserved in his imagination, and he doesn’t actually have the hots for her in the present (and/or she for him).

But, let’s not kid ourselves: by now he probably has already been for the coffee. “Coffee.”
euphemism_sneaky_crudeness_classic_white_coffee_mug-r123fadeab8bf4f339d4181e04453c239_x7jgr_8byvr_324

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papal holidays

January 26, 2016 by

pope snow

Erica has been listening to AMT291 in which we fielded a question about what the Pope does on his holidays. She says:

I once met a priest who had been part of the Swiss Guard, which is basically the Pope’s secret service. He told me that Pope John Paul liked to go downhill skiing well into his 70s. *

I honestly can’t remember if I imagined a white ski outfit with a cross on the front or if he said that is what he really wore. I am fairly certain it’s the former. **

Well, readers, have any of you actually spotted a Pope on his hols? Whizzing down a black run, robes flapping behind him; or sunning himself on a beach in a pair of papal Speedos?

* It’s true!
** Also true. But maybe he’s wearing his full pope-dress under the appropriate ski-wear. Dare to dream, Erica.

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L-O-V-E

January 25, 2016 by

AMT LOVE

Gird your loins, unbutton your emotions, because the Answer Me This! Love album is OUT NOW and begging for your affections.

Buy it from iTunes, Amazon or our own Answer Me This! Store for only £2.99.

The album features a whole hour of love, sex, dating and genitals, and it’s all completely new AMT material that has never appeared on the podcast. Such as:

Is it appropriate to buy sexy clothes for your mum?
How do you make putting on a condom fun?
Just what is in that liquid squirting out of your girlfriend?
When you’ve lost your engagement ring, how best to style it out?
Is your partner’s schoolgirl fetish something you should worry about? It’s not like he’s a teacher – oh, he is? Oh.
How do you set up a blind date when you’re a blind dater?
How can anyone feel horny at the prospect of a vagina bristling with sharp, spiky horns?
What’s the best point of a wedding ceremony to call it off?
How do they come up with all those lines on Take Me Out?
What is your exhibitionist housemate really trying to show you?
How many holes should there be in a penis?

Here’s a little preview:

Any further questions?

Is this album suitable for me if I’m not at all in the mood for love, sex, or interacting with humanity at all?
YES. If all these people were having such a great time, they wouldn’t be writing to us, would they?

Is this album child-friendly?
HELL NO.

Will this album teach me what it’s like to have the Olly Mann Valentine’s Experience?
YES.

Will Helen say the word ‘urethra’ so many times, I will feel a bit sick?
MAYBE.

You can get it from iTunes and Amazon, but if you want all of your money to go to us and none to Megacorp, buy it directly from the AMT Store.

AMTStorebuy it now buttonbuy it now button

Hear the other AMT albums at answermethispodcast.com/albums

 

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EPISODE 330: Huey, Dewey, Louie and Phooey

January 14, 2016 by

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Happy new year to you, listeners, and here’s your first dose of AMT for 2016. In Answer Me This! Episode 330, we ponder upon:

All Saints – not the band, the shop
Della Duck
Air Force One
boxing belts
remembering people’s names
Tom Cribb vs Tom Molyneux vs George Foreman Grills
Carson vs Alfred vs Jeeves
the psychology of Hampton Court
presidential decoys
and
Jacuzzi bubbles.

Plus: Olly dreams of being like Kathy Bates (in About Schmidt, not in Misery); in the Battle of the Butlers, Jeeves is Helen’s man – even if he’s a ‘gentleman’s gentleman’ rather than a butler; and Martin the Sound Man makes a new friend in the jacuzzi.

In today’s Bonus Bit of Crap on the App – available for iThings, Android and Windows devices – we consider a sporting event that appeals to fans of both board games and blood sports: chessboxing.

Thanks very much to today’s sponsor Squarespace.com, who’ll give you 10% off their website-building and -hosting services for a year if you invoke the code ANSWER. And if you do so, you’re showing Squarespace that they should continue supporting this show, so we all win. Unlike chessboxing, which we’d probably all lose.

There’re no prizes for asking us questions, only answers: leave voicemails on the Question Line – call 0208 123 5877 or Skype ID answermethis – and send emails to answermethispodcast@googlemail.com. Befriend us online at facebook.com/answermethis and twitter.com/HelenAndOlly.

SCHEDULING ANNOUNCEMENT: Olly’s baby is due out imminently. AMT331 will land on 28th January 2015, and after that, we’ll be taking three months off for paternity leave. We’ll let you know any news about the Mannbaby as soon as it/he arrives!

Helen & Olly

••• AMT330 Child-Friendly Rating: 85%. Maybe a couple of swears? Low on bawdy content. Overall: pretty respectable. •••

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The Best of AMT 2015

December 24, 2015 by

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Join us for a jaunt through The Best of Answer Me This! 2015, where we revisit such bright spots from the year as:

Paul Simon Says
Buddha, fat and thin
the Stephen King’s IT tattoo
the CKBLT (Chicken Kiev BLT sandwich)
Jurassic Park: The Ballet
Juliet’s balcony
Grumpy Cat
Melanie Griffith’s lion
Nicolas Cage’s octopus
Andre Rieu’s face
highlighter pen(i)s
undead Mike Oldfield
wedding +1 etiquette
Byrd Sister
Greek wine
dominatrix problems
and
olive theft.

And, as every year, there are the Previously Unheard Bits of AMT, plus our favourite: the Melancholy Voicemail Parade.

Haven’t heard the Best Of AMT collections from previous years? Get them at answermethisstore.com/best. All the hits, none of the shits!

Also while you’re at the AMT store, you can buy our classic episodes, albums and apps. By doing so, you’re supporting the show – and obliterating the howling silence, right?

Send in your questions for AMT in 2016: leave voicemails on the Question Line – call 0208 123 5877 or Skype ID answermethis – and send emails to answermethispodcast@googlemail.com. Befriend us online at facebook.com/answermethis and twitter.com/HelenAndOlly.

We’ll return with AMT330 on 14th January 2016. Happy Christmas/New Year/early January to you all, and thanks for listening this year.

Helen & Olly

••• Best of 2015 Child-Friendly Rating: 50%. As in, 50% of the content is child-friendly. The other 50% really isn’t. You know the score by now. •••

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The Administration System of Christmas

December 22, 2015 by

CLICK HERE TO CATCH UP ON AMT329

We speculated about the best way for a parent to handle the Administration System of Christmas in AMT328 and 329, but how do you actual child-rearers do it? Brian from Montana writes:

My oldest daughter came to the truth about Christmas’s “Administrative details” on her own.

But when she asked, “So were you lying to me?” I channeled my inner Obi-Wan and said, “That depends on your point of view. Is there a magical man that can break the known laws of time and space to deliver presents each year to kids around the world? Of course not. But, did a man dressed in a red suit stop by our house the past 4 Christmas Eve’s to bring you and your siblings gifts? Yes. (We know a guy.) Are there hundreds of thousands of such men around the world who love kids so much that they put on a big red suit and bring them happiness? Yes. So, in a way, Santa is VERY real, he just isn’t magical, but why is that so important? And now that you’re in on the secret, you can be a part of it.”

She was elated at such a prospect, and I dislocated my arm patting myself on the back for avoiding what was, for me, a traumatic revelation when I found out.

We’ve been treating The Administration System of Christmas quite flippantly in the past couple of episodes, but perhaps we should be more careful if the revelation is traumatic for people. I recall a particularly traumatised Administration System of Christmas victim in chapter 1 of the Lights, Camera, Christmas episode of This American Life. Can any of you outdo the parental deception efforts there?

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shitting log

December 22, 2015 by

CLICK HERE TO CATCH UP ON AMT329

Here’s the inside poopscoop on the Shitting Log that became our new favourite festive tradition in AMT329. Lauren in Mexico City writes:

Caga tió doesn’t actually have anything to do with uncles – it’s tió (‘log’ in Catalan) rather than tío (‘uncle’ in Spanish) so the name means “Shit log”. It comes from the imperative, “Shit, log!”, which is often part of the songs sung whilst hitting him. There are some examples in this multilingual video.

The tió is always made from a real log and many families buy several different sizes so the tió gradually “grows” over the weeks that the kids feed him. When it’s time for him to shit, the kids are sent out of the room for a minute while the presents are stashed under the blanket.

I lived in Catalonia for 8 years and have my very own little tió who now lives at my parents’ house. My mum is a big fan and brings him out of the attic every Christmas with the rest of the decorations. She usually sends me a photo of him for good measure, so I’ll do the same to you:

caga tió (1)

Like babies, logs are cute, till they start shitting.

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Thursday Listening Party

December 17, 2015 by

drr3rx-pw5_ru-ochki-novyy-god-naushniki

On the Thursdays with no new AMT, we crank up the spoken word audio and have a Thursday Listening Party.

Friends! This is your annual reminder to pipe the Answer Me This! Christmas into your home, for festive advice and history and fun facts (and to drown out the sounds of Christmas rows). There’s a bit more seasonal content in AMT328 and 329 – and in this episode of The Allusionist, in which I learn that Christmas cards used to have bacon stuck to the front, and that Santa was almost called Captain Christmas.

Recently I’ve been racing through Woman of the Hour and Another Round, but because I’m currently mired in the immense annual task of compiling the AMT Best Of – out on Christmas Eve! – I haven’t had much time to listen to many other things over the past few weeks, hence the recent absence of Thursday Listening Parties. But please go to the comments to share the shows that have been delighting your eardrums lately.

We’ve received a LOT of questions about Monopoly over the years, so I think many of you will want to hear the 99% Invisible episode about it, the least enjoyable board game ever invented.

Here are three delightful episodes about music: Fugitive Waves by the Kitchen Sisters on Nick Drake; Björk talking about ‘Stonemilker’ on Song Exploder; and an Aaron Carter superfan on The Heart. What a party playlist!

Over Christmas and New Year, please sample our other podcasts:
Get your Olly dose on the Modern Mann, the Media Podcast and the Guardian’s Tech Weekly; and he’ll be on LBC over the festive period as well.
Martin’s shows include Song By Song, Brain Train, The Sound of the Ladies, and the Global Lab.
The Allusionist is my other main gig. My favourite episode is perhaps this one, even though I crumble as a human being during it.

Alright, back to scaling Mount Edit! See you on the other side. If there is another side…

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