Ian Casselberry is a freelance writer, currently based in Asheville, NC. He is an editor at The Comeback and Awful Announcing

Previously, he has been a contributing writer for Yahoo! Sports' Big League Stew, and SB Nation. In addition, he was a lead baseball writer for Bleacher Report. 

You can also find him on Twitter and Facebook, where he craves your attention.

He still plans to write that novel someday. 

("Pearls Before Swine" © 2005 Stephan Pastis)
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Entries in podcasts (5)


The week's writes and reads, 01-24-16

January is typically a thin month for writing about baseball. Maybe more so this year, as the free agent market for position players has been slow to move. And the NFL is currently ruling the day. (Well, it rules every day, but especially during the playoffs.) But I got to write something about support growing for the designated hitter in the National League, which stirred some passion among baseball fans. 

Editorial and writing duties for The Comeback have also been keeping me busy, often in a good way. But it was a particularly sticky week that occupied more of what would have been writing time. Hopefully, that changes in the week to come. Here are this week's writing and reading links. Thank you for checking in! 


Ronda Rousey to star with Tina Fey in comedy "Do Nothing Bitches" - Awful Announcing
Disney looking to develop movie about TCU backup QB Bram Kohlhausen - Awful Announcing
Report: Netflix developing Punisher series, spinoff from Daredevil season two - The Comeback

Netflix renews Jessica Jones for second season - The Comeback

As support grows for designated hitters in National League, rule change is inevitable - The Comeback
MLB offers single-team packages, lower rates in antitrust suit settlement - Awful Announcing
Watch: Neighbors 2 trailer teams Seth Rogen, Zac Efron against new sorority - The Comeback

Gawker sells minority stake to outside investors due to risk of upcoming Hulk Hogan trial - Awful Announcing
Watch: The memories come back in FX's The People v. O.J. Simpson trailer - The Comeback

James Franco plays twins in David Simon's HBO series set in porn industry - The Comeback

Watch: Seth Meyers is wicked pissah in Boston Accent trailer - The Comeback
Serial recap: Trying to find Bowe Bergdahl from the United States - The Comeback


-- I know I shouldn't stick Q-tips in my ear, but I do every morning. I like to flirt with danger. [Washington Post]

-- One of the reasons I liked Glenn Frey (and the Eagles) is his Detroit connection. I've always enjoyed that part of his story, and enjoy hearing as much about it as I can. [Detroit Free Press]

-- I'm still trying to decide between Hillary Clinton or Bernie Sanders, but this brings up some concerns I have about the Sanders campaign. [Vox]

-- "Our food is not healthy; we will be healthy if we eat nutritious food. Words matter." Guilty as charged. [Washington Post]

-- Obviously, Olympic sports will draw more interest with the Rio Games this summer. But Pat Forde's piece on more color making its way into swimming is intriguing. [Yahoo Sports]

-- I'm often fascinated by adaptation, turning books into movies or TV shows. Adapting The Big Short into a film is something I could read a whole lot more about. [Creative Screenwriting]

-- John Heilemann and Will Leitch doing a podcast? On the intersection of politics and pop culture? Yes, I will probably listen to that. [Bloomberg Politics]


We can never get enough Bill Hader as Jame Gumb

I've expressed my joy and admiration for Bill Hader's impersonation of Ted Levine on this blog before. More specifically, it's Levine's performance as Buffalo Bill/Jame Gumb in Silence of the Lambs.

Basically, if Hader says "Was she a great, big, fat person?" in that deep, Levine-like voice, I will giggle. 

I was catching up on Bill Simmons' podcast this week, and Hader was a guest on one of the recent episodes. Simmons didn't let me down, dropping (not very subtly) a reference to Levine at the 41:45 mark, and Hader obliged. I probably shouldn't have been lifting weights while listening. I almost caused myself serious injury by laughing. 

(The whole interview is almost an hour, but the Levine stuff runs from 41:45 to 44:55.) 

Simmons, Hader and Levine on "The B.S. Report" simply must happen someday. Even if Levine has to be tricked by saying the conversation will be about The Bridge. (Levine's Hank Wade might be my favorite character on that show.) 


It was women. It's always women. 

One of my 4th of July holiday "catch-up" projects was listening to some backlogged shows of Marc Maron's WTF podcast.

I really enjoyed his interview with David Sedaris, which isn't really a surprise. I might write a little more on that later, but it was intriguing to hear Sedaris entertained by someone else for a change. And as someone who really admires good writing, Sedaris had some really nice things to say about Maron's book, Attempting Normal

However, the more interesting chat may have been WTF's next episode with Nick Cave. I'm a fringe Cave fan, mostly because I just haven't taken the time to listen to his music. Kind of a surprise, since A. is a huge fan. But listening to anyone talk about his or her craft and the creative process is something I'm always willing to hear. 

It takes a while for the interview to get going, as Maron and Cave are kind of sizing each other up. But once they just start talking, the conversation becomes enjoyable — as it almost always does on this podcast.

This might not be the best quote from the interview, but it's one I didn't necessarily expect from a badass like Cave.

Maron: You've lived in a lot of different places. Now, were these creative decisions?

Cave: To live in different places?

Maron: Yeah.

Cave: No, it was women. It's always women. 


Maron: Berlin?

Cave: Berlin was lots of women. 


It's always about the women, isn't it? Even for Nick Cave. You can listen to the whole interview here.


Taking that sandwich construction seriously

To my fellow podcast listeners out there, do you have some shows that you periodically stop listening to regularly, yet end up coming back to later on? For me, that podcast is The Sporkful

While I am frequently amused (and informed) by host Dan Pashman's deep analysis of what makes the optimum eating experience with a variety of entrees and dishes, it can sometimes be a little tiring as well. Sometimes, you just want to eat a plate of nachos without putting too much thought into it. Yet... don't you also want those nachos to be as tasty as possible?

But I do lean more toward being amused, because Pashman talks about things like building a hamburger in ways most people probably don't. For instance, I'm not sure I've ever discussed putting the cheese on the bottom bun of the burger while at a cookout. 

I've recently gotten back into The Sporkful based on a video Pashman did for Slate, in which he talks to the executive chef of Subway about how they put together their sandwiches. 

If you took the time to watch it (the clip is five minutes long), there was some interesting stuff in there about how to lay the cuts of meat and cheese along the bun, whether the vegetables should go on top of or below the meat and so forth.

Of course, appearance is also important. But how many people care about how their Subway sandwich looks before they unwrap that paper and start chowing? 

Ultimately, I love it when Pashman throws out terms like "coverage," "bite consistency" and "bite variety" to make things geeky.

People who really think about stuff — even if you think they're putting far much thought into that endeavor — are far more fascinating to me than those who just accept things for what they are and roll with it. Maybe that's a simpler way to get through life, but it's not nearly as interesting. 


Remembering when 'The Office' was a pretty big deal here

With the series finale of NBC's The Office airing Thursday night (May 16), I've been getting a little bit reflective over how big a role the show played in my life at one point.

I don't know how many people reading this will remember, but I used to co-host a podcast dedicated to The Office titled That's What She Said. The show was created by my friend Matt Sommer, who had been dabbling in podcasting and decided to do his own thing before Season 3. 

This was — wow, has it been that long? — between 2006 and 2007. I was a casual fan, curious about an American adaptation of a British TV show. But I did get pulled in toward the end of Season 2, largely because of the dynamic between Jim and Pam. 

Matt asked me if I would be his co-host, astutely realizing that two people talking to each other, rather than a single host talking out to an unseen audience, made for a better podcast. I had a little bit of experience as a guest, thanks to Mike McClary and The Detroit Tigers Podcast

I ended up doing approximately 25 episodes, covering all of Season 2. When I love a TV show, I watch it very closely, constantly rewinding or rerunning an episode a couple of times. The Office became that kind of show for me, because we scrutinized every detail of every episode. The grudging running joke was that our podcast ran two to three times as long as an actual show. 


But that's a testament to the work Matt put into each podcast, designing the format of the show and each individual segment and creating the intro bumpers for those segments. Even when he played the "tests" for me, it was pretty clear he had a good podcast on his hands.

Then there's the editing. Oh, God — the editing. I love podcasts and podcasting. I wish I was doing one myself. But editing audio is so tedious. 

I can only imagine editing was even more of a chore with me on the show, fully taking advantage of not being on live and cutting myself off when I couldn't complete a thought. Or just zoning out when we played a clip from that week's show. It's amazing that I can actually talk live for 10-15 minutes on the radio these days. 

Anyway, I decided not to do the podcast for Season 3. During the summer hiatus, I focused on writing at Bless You Boys and eventually realized that I couldn't blog about baseball full-time and devote some four hours a week to recording That's What She Said with Matt. Well, I suppose I could have. But I would have gone insane, and my work on either the blog or podcast would have suffered. 

I know Matt wasn't happy with my decision to leave the podcast. Having to find a new co-host wasn't easy for him.

But he found a good one in Kevin Crossman, and I think the show was much better with him because he brought another dose of creativity and passion to it. They covered another five seasons of The Office before closing the curtain last year. I don't know if they plan to do one last podcast for the series finale. I'm sure the listeners would love it if they did. 

I fell out of watching The Office after that second season. It's not that I didn't enjoy the show, but once I didn't have to for the podcast, it kind of fell off my radar. Ask my friends. Shows fall off my radar all the time, much to their frustration if we both shared interest in a particular program. But any incentive to go back was probably shelved when Steve Carell left the show. 

I did intend to tune in for the retrospective and series finale Thursday night. But a game between the Detroit Tigers and Texas Rangers featuring stud pitchers Justin Verlander and Yu Darvish was on at the same time. How appropriate. But I did DVR The Office

Actually, the baseball game turned out to be a dud, so I did watch the last 10-15 minutes of the series finale. What I watched was poignant, generating the kind of emotion that only comes with a show and set of characters that have been together for nine seasons. I look forward to watching the rest of it. 

So here's a slow clap for The Office. Maybe I'll go back and watch some of those past seasons someday. If so, I might just listen to That's What She Said along with those episodes. The podcast certainly made the show a lot more fun for me.