Episode 173: Triumph the Insult Comic Dog of The Will

The Overthinkers tackle listener feedback from Poland, Texas, and Georgia. The former SSR, not the state.

Matthew Wrather hosts with Peter Fenzel, Joshua McNeil, and David Shechner to overthink listener feedback, including questions about pronunciation, mind control, Drive the comic, Terry Pratchett and what it means to overthink, the meaning of art (not actually a question, but it’s one of our continual obsessions), and Hunger Games.

Stay tuned for Mark Lee’s after hours podcast, Raw Lee.


→ Download Episode 173 (MP3)

Want new episodes of the Overthinking It Podcast to download automatically? Subscribe in iTunes! (Or grab the podcast RSS feed directly.)

Tell us what you think! Leave a comment, use the contact formemail us or call (203) 285-6401 to leave a voicemail.

26 Comments on “Episode 173: Triumph the Insult Comic Dog of The Will”

  1. Lee OTI Staff #

    “Stay tuned for Mark Lee’s after hours podcast, Raw Lee.”

    Not having listened to this podcast yet, I can only guess that the “Raw Lee” podcast is both about Raleigh, NC, as well as my love for raw vegetables.



  2. Leigh #

    I guess I can go ahead and admit that unfortunate circumstances have led to me being in Texas. Actually, my experiences in Texas are what led me to ask about overthinking anti-intellectualism. And McNeil is right, Austin doesn’t count.


  3. Emil #


    Share a podcast? Bah, I’ve named you one of my favorites podcast in a blog post, I’ve shared my OPML file multiple times, I’ve told many, many people to follow your site.

    I’m consider to be a go to guy when you have question about what’s what in podcasting world!

    Just share a MP3 file?




  4. Emil #

    Re: Rafał,

    your second try was perfect, Matt.


  5. Chris #

    What if Penny met a dinosaur?


  6. Timothy J Swann #

    I shared the podcast 4channic Discourse with someone I know who was complaining that his artwork had been used on /tg/ without credit. I warned him not to anger 4chan, he said he’d never heard of them. I figured you guys were the best people to explain.


  7. Timothy J Swann #

    The book says what the book says. The video game SNES what the video game SNES. The second SNES means something different to the first SNES.

    I also had to learn how to pronounce the ł, in order to pronounce the name Bob Bolesław Zajonc. I was kind of disappointed his name didn’t rhyme with Coleslaw.

    Is the conclusion to be drawn that the recent The Wasteland iPad app requires a walkthrough?

    I, Jedi, an Expanded Universe novel has as its hero a Jedi who cannot do telekinesis but is gifted in mind trickery and illusion, and it does a good job of showing how it can be used/not used in plot interesting ways. In general, it’s not otherwise proven too useful.

    On overthinking Discworld, the incredible Dissecting Worlds podcast has a go with its episode on Law and Order in Ankh Morpok http://geeksyndicate.wordpress.com/2010/06/16/dissecting-worlds-series-2-episode-2-ankh-morpork-city-watch/ which tries to figure out precisely who it works (and doesn’t).


  8. Jim Engebretson #

    I actually laughed out loud (not fake lol, but disturbed the guy in the cubical next to me) at the notion of Planet of the Erotic Apes. “They’re not even trying”



  9. Rafal #

    Thanks, man.

    Imagine how disappointing it was for us to learn Coleslaw does not rhyme with the age-old, traditional etc. Polish name. I mean, several of our kings were named Bolesław, and here’s a mere salad questioning that legacy. Even if it’s a tasty salad.

    Where were you guys (tip of the hat to Josh) when my thesis on translating Pratchett needed something to make it smarter than I could? Still, if your answer was just the discussion on art, tonic water, and blacklight – dayenu.


    • Timothy J Swann #

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Dukes_of_Silesia You more than make up for it with the amazing names and titles on this list.

      Tanglefoot, Spindleshanks, the Fat, the Generous, the Strict, the Lightsome, the Sparrow, the Mad (also known as the Bad, the Wild or the Cruel), the Bearded, Konrad III the Old and Konrad IV the Older, the Scholastic, and possibly my new favourite, Henry VIII With A Scar.
      Also, many of them are called Boleslaw.
      Finally, one of the sub-duchies was once ruled –
      1450–1452 Konrad IX the Black and Konrad X the White (co-rulers)


  10. Amanda #

    I know how to correctly pronounce dasein, but I can’t quite explain it in regular American phonetics, so here goes my attempt:
    DAH-zein (pronounce the “ei” like the second “either” and “neither” in Let’s Call The Whole Thing Off)

    Also, I’ve been to friends’ stagings of both The Adding Machine and Ubu Roi. What does this say about the Sao Paulo amateur theater scene?

    Great podcast this week! I may listen to it again soon, as I’m sure I had more things to say about it, but can’t remember any right now. Also, I still haven’t published my infamous list of favorite Overthinkers… Coming soon!


  11. Tom #

    If scientists really are going to be able to cure AIDS through this Gene Genie, they should know that David Bowie has the rights locked up.


  12. Gab #

    A number of parallel novels are from the perspective of a female character. First Witch is from the eyes of the First Witch in Macbeth; Mary Reilly is from the eyes of a maid in Dr. Jekyll’s house; and The Panelopiad is The Odyssey from Panelope’s perspective. Or were you getting more at totally new adventures starring female characters? Anyhoo, read those books, they’re good.

    Musical commentary to Deep Blue Sea????

    Potential X-Men: First Class spoiler:
    What about the times Xavier seems to do his own Jedi mind trick? Like the scene where he gets Oliver Platt’s character to get in the car. The people Xavier does it to never seem to realize they’ve been influenced- even as he’s talking about the powers he has. So why didn’t he just go to Russia and D.C. and mind-boggle the right political and military figures? Well, because it’s not a story about mind control. And, come to… think… of it, why does he bother with the “you’re a mutant” pickup lines when he could just convince a hot lady to go home with him? Chock it up to his moral fiber, I suppose; but the implications of what that would look like in the hands of a different character… Oh boy.

    Harvey Fierstein was a guest on The Good Wife a few weeks ago, as a judge.


    • jjsaul #

      On the viewpoint of secondary characters, an obvious example is The Mists of Avalon, of course.

      Then there’s one of my favorites… Grendel by John Gardner. Not the one who carried on the 007 books, but rather the author of one of the best books about the writing life On Becoming A Novelist.


      • Gab #

        I love both The Mists of Avalon and Grendel. I can’t believe I didn’t mention the former, though. While some of the women in it are, indeed, rather easily characterized as “psycho b****,” I do think there are plenty that make up for it- and a lot of the men are more “feminine” than some of those women. And while the TNT miniseries had a fantastic cast, it really did no justice to the source material.


        • jjsaul #

          Yeah, Guinevere especially was pretty pathetic in Mists, and I couldn’t even get through the video. But Morgaine was something fantasy literature was only beginning to see.


          • Gab #

            And A CONNECTION: Juliana Margulies, the actress that played Morgaine, is the star of the aforementioned show on which Fierstein guested.

            New game: Six Degrees of Harvey Fierstein.

    • fenzel #

      Charles Xavier’s telepathic powers are a perfect example of how telepathic powers work great… _once_. It’s when they’re always around in a story that otherwise isn’t about them that they become stupid and detrimental.

      The classic story of how the X-Men first fought the Juggernaut is great – since they can’t hurt him, the team has to work together to take off Juggy’s hat, then Charles zaps him with his brain. It’s the quintessential superhero teamwork comic.

      And Magneto’s helmet is also very cool when it’s introduced. The helmets on the Juggernaut and Magneto are cool, because they show that the character has a previous relationship with Charles Xavier.

      The problem is that now, once you’ve covered that ground, those characters have to wear those stupid hats _all the time_ – and as you introduce new characters, you have to give them new reasons why Xavier’s powers don’t work on them.

      The best thing to do is just not put Xavier in the story – leave him at the mansion. He’s a caretaker and mentor now, he doesn’t get personally involved in the fight unless it’s on the M’Kraan Crystal / Dark Phoenix level.

      But that doesn’t always work – sometimes there isn’t really a good enough reason for Professor X not to be personally involved, especially when the fate of the world is at stake.

      So, in come the actual and metaphorical stupid hats, which de-Occam’s-Razors the story, adding an unnecessary entity of mind control and mind control defense.

      Charles Xavier is far from the worst-managed character in this regard, though. His overwrought sense of principle helps give him a reason not to do story-destroying things (like run the government via mind control so he can requisition a Marine battallion whenever it is convenient), and the tempo of the story is usually lined up so that he doesn’t get the chance to really abuse his powers before something else draws away the reader’s attention.

      It does raise a lot of “what happened right after we left the room?” questions, which get even more plentiful as we get tenser TV and movie plotting with more cuts.

      “There’s something I always wanted to tell you.”

      “What is it?”

      “You’re not going to like it.”


      Cut to car in parking garage.

      There are a _lot_ of these kinds of scenes, especially in serialized TV dramas nowadays, to the point where it gets pretty conspicuous. This is one of the best ways to neuter Charles Xavier – show Xavier doing urgent stuff, but don’t show what he is doing during his spare time or after the immediate urgent stuff is over. That way, the viewer forgets he has a lot of it that he most likely spends mind controlling people for his own convenience.


      • Leigh #

        I think the key to keeping Xavier’s mind control from ruining the whole show is to make him extremely moral. A character who is hesitant to use his mental powers, except in an extreme emergency, is a character who doesn’t ruin the story. Although he could quite easily control the mind of the president to get his way, he would never do such a thing.


        • Gab #

          Well, unless the president was corrupt and hurting people, chances are he’d never consider controlling the president’s mind- the thought of doing something to usurp power wouldn’t cross his mind. But that extends to his treatment of amoral people in his world. It’s very Kantian, in that he withholds from using people as a means to an end- he could very well show up at every “battle” and literally change the minds of his opponents, making them join his side, even, so long as no magic helmets were devised. But he doesn’t, because, ethically, that goes against his principles: removing free will or freedom of choice are inexcusable encroachments on positive freedom. He doesn’t use the power willy-nilly like Qui-Gon. Arguably, that was what the parking lot thing was, but I actually think it served a purpose for the movie analogous to its purpose in the scene: to demonstrate to both Platt’s character and the audience what Xavier is capable of doing.


        • Timothy J Swann #

          I would say the story-telling manoeuvre applies to Superman, despite he not tended to have psychic powers outside the Silver Age.


  13. cat #

    Accents, musicals, and Shechner. My delight at this episode is inexpressible. And yes, this is how I recommend the podcast to people.


  14. Lee OTI Staff #

    Just finished listening to the show. I can’t believe I missed the Harvey Fierstein musical medley. I may have to contribute in a future episode.

    You’ve been warned.


    • Gab #

      More like teased.


  15. Megan from Lombard #

    As someone who consumed the Hunger Games books in the space of a week (the fastest that I’ve ever read a series of books) at the surface the books are about the fall of the Roman Empire set in a post-apocalyptic North America. Digging a little bit deeper it shows the dynamic between urban and rural areas and how absolute power corrupts the longer one person is in control.

    The books are absolutly ripe for overthinking and I hope that there’s at least one article on the books!


    • Gab #

      …consumed… Hunger… Heh.


Add a Comment