Saturday, March 18, 2006

Welcome to "The Brass Figlagee," a blog devoted to the memory and life's work of Jean Shepherd.

This is the main entry in the blog, whose main purpose is to point to "The Brass Figlagee" podcast RSS feed, and address any administrative issues that may come up. So, this blog will be fairly low-traffic. I don't and couldn't pretend to know the contents of every show that will be available in the podcast, so Shep will speak for himself.

Shep (as both he and his fans called him) is very hard to tie down to one or two labels. He was one of the great media talents from the 50s to the 80s, very much like the Mark Twain of his time, and most nights he could be heard on the radio waxing eloquent, his gift for insight and articulation wrapped up in what seemed like comedic nostalgia, fascinating and inspiring generations. His stories work on so many levels. His characters are vivid, unforgettable, and oddly likable. Shep had an uncanny mastery of the narrative form: enticing the listener with his nightly premise, careening down one tangent to the next, eliciting knowing laughs along the way, and often leaving one with a warm sense of the fondness the artist felt for his past. And somehow, more often than not, one might sense a deeper meaning, a hidden message in all the lighthearted romps. This podcast is an attempt to maintain, and hopefully spread, awareness of Jean Shepherd, his wonderful mind, and his amazing body of work.

The free podcast is all set up, is available via the iTunes Music Store, as well as other web services, all listed in the sidebar. Any computer user with an MP3 player (software on your computer, or via an attached portable MP3 player) should be able to listen to this podcast. New episodes should appear nightly. Due to the nature of the public-domain recordings available on the internet (the source of these files), audio quality and the completeness of the shows will vary. Still, this is all we have left of Shep's radio work at this time, so I hope you will enjoy them as much as many Shep fans have for years.

Shows will appear more-or-less chronologically, starting with his oldest available work and progressing to the newer. I will try to have season- or holiday-appropriate episodes included at the appropriate times of year. In the cases where there are a number of short recordings available on the same subject (for instance, Shep's old series of Alka-Seltzer ads) I will condense them into one podcast episode, so as to keep the Shepness coming.

There are many excellent web sites dedicated to revisiting his genius, which are listed in the sidebar. They have all served as inspiration for the podcast.

A special recognition is is due to The Jean Shepherd Project, the members of which have collected and distributed all the tracks you will hear here. The Jean Shepherd Archive is also a fantastic site, which hosts the files from The Jean Shepherd Project, but poor Charles Hayden is paying to serve over 300G a month. I've exchanged emails with Charles, and he's been very encouraging about alternative ways to get Shep's shows back out to the listening public: fans who discovered him in adolescence like myself and perhaps even a new generation.

I can be reached at s h e p f a n A-T m a c d o t you-know-what. (I hate spam!)


Anonymous BloodyL said...

Hi there,
I recently found your excellent podcast through sheparchives and have listened through to the last entry in the cast.
I have been checking the cast quite frequently for a while now only to dicover that it has not been updated for a while now.
Is everything ok?

Cheers for your hard work so far.

5/04/2006 7:50 AM  
Blogger ShepFan said...

Hi and welcome,

How are you listening to the podcast? I update it nightly, and verify that iTunes can see it. Last night I added "1963 Shep Sings," which was the 109th episode. You can confirm the shows are all there by clicking on any of the links under the heading, "Want To Download Manually?" at right.

It seems that my PuPuPlayer has gone south, (it should be under the iTunes logo) so I'll look into that now.

If you would, so I can make sure other listeners don't run into the same problem, tell me:

1) Which RSS or podcast software you're using (and the version number)?

2) What version of Windows or Mac OS?

3) What's the date of the last podcast you can see?

4) Anything else might seem useful.


The blog itself (this page) will rarely be updated. Unless there's some administrivia to announce, there isn't much to say.

Also, thanks for the bug report. The main idea behind creating a podcast was to make it easy to hear Shep every day.


5/04/2006 9:07 AM  
Anonymous BloodyL said...

Hi shepfan,
Thanks for your quick reply, here's the information you've requested.

Recieving software: Juice V2.2
OS: Windows XP (Service Pack 2)
Latest episode: 1963 The Snooper.mp3

I'll try another reciever now and report back.


5/04/2006 2:41 PM  
Anonymous BloodyL said...

another client (RSSRadio) also shows "1963 The Snooper" as the last episode available.

I am pointing my clients to:

Hope this helps.

5/04/2006 2:52 PM  
Blogger ShepFan said...

I looked at the RSS feed, and can't find anything right before "The Snooper" that might be breaking RSS clients. I may have to fire up my Dell and see for myself. In the meantime, I see that Juice is up to 2.2.1--you can download it here. I can't find any release notes so far.

You are using the correct feed URL.

It might be quicker to sort this out if you email me at shepfan *AT* mac *dot* com, so we can email directly. I suppose I should test using my Dell first, since I can get immediate results that way. Maybe there's something in the XML file right before "Snooper" that Juice and others don't like.


5/04/2006 3:11 PM  
Blogger ShepFan said...

OK, I installed Juice 2.2.1 on my Dell with XP Home, SP2, and entered the RSS feed URL. I saw all the episodes, right up to last night's "Shep Sings."

I did notice, when I checked out the Juice support site for Windows, that a bunch of folks were reporting downloading problems, some of which were like yours (updates stopping after a certain date). If 2.2.1 doesn't solve the problem for you, I would try removing and re-subscribing to the podcast. After that, I'd try an uninstall and reinstall of Juice.

I'm not familiar with the inner workings of XP like I am with OS X. Does XP cache internet content? Is it possible the problem is at the system level, and you're just getting local, stale data when Juice or RSSRadio requests the XML file? Put another way, is there a way in XP to clear out cache files and try again? For what it's worth, a quick search for "cache" on showed Internet Organizer Pro 2.1, which says it can clear out cache files. It's freeware, and it might be worth a try.

Failing all of that, hopefully the users and authors of Juice can help. Again, their Windows support forum is here.

I think it's out of my hands at this point. If there's something you'd like me to try on this end, I'll do what I can. If my test failed here I was going to suggest I edit a custom RSS XML file for you to try, deleting the first episode you can't get. I was assuming there was something about the XML file that was confusing Juice, but iTunes and the various web sites didn't mind. But now it looks like other folks are having the same problem with Juice and other podcasts.

Good luck. I'm here if there's anything I can do.


5/04/2006 4:42 PM  
Anonymous BloodyL said...

Just a quick note both to thank you for your excellent support of this cast and to also let you know that I've almost certainly tracked down the problem.

The issue lies with my ISP's transparent Webcache, I asked my brother to check out the cast as he is using a different ISP and he can see todays enclosure (1963 Truth.mp3)
Now to find away around my ISP's systems.

Once again, many thanks for your superb help.


5/05/2006 12:10 PM  
Anonymous BloodyL said...

Oh, and I also called up the cast on the other PC on the network which had never called the page before, this also shown The snooper as the latest entry, ruling out WinXP's cache system (FYI, the XP O/S itself does not cache, your browser of choice does that instead. :) )

5/05/2006 12:14 PM  
Anonymous BloodyL said...

Fixed!, used NSLOOKUP to resolve the IP address of and replaced the address with the IP, the new episodes came up straight away.
Keep your knees loose Shepfan!

5/05/2006 1:02 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


2/08/2007 4:35 PM  

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