Bullseye

Bullseye is a public radio show about what's good in popular culture. With a keen editorial eye, Bullseye sifts the wheat from the chaff, and brings you hot culture picks, in-depth interviews with the most revered and revolutionary creative people and irreverent original comedy.

Bullseye is equal parts funny and fascinating. Whether you're already plugged in to the culture map, or looking for a signpost, Bullseye will keep you on target. More About Bullseye

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Weird Al, Geoff Nunberg, Andrew Noz

| 0 comments
Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Weird Al Yankovic
Guests: 
Geoff Nunberg
Guests: 
Andrew Noz


Hip Hop with Andrew Noz: DJ Quik's Pacific Coast Remix and Rammellzee's Beat Bop

Hip hop blogger and Pitchfork columnist Andrew Noz joins us with a couple of his all-time favorite hip hop tracks. His first recommendation is Pacific Coast Remix by DJ Quik (featuring Ludacris), a track devoted to sunny Los Angeles's dark side. He also suggests checking out the 1983 track Beat Bop by Rammellzee and K-Rob. It's a song from an era where the uptown and downtown communities mingled in a way that the rap world would rarely see again.


Weird Al Yankovic: King of Parody

Weird Al Yankovic is the undisputed king of parody music. Inspired by the novelty songs he heard on broadcasts of The Dr. Demento Show, Yankovic began writing his own comedy songs for the accordion -- starting with a love song to his parents' car, entitled Belvedere Cruisin'.

He sat down with us in 2011, before his album Alpocalypse was released. He talks about his food parodies (think "Eat It"), his special talent for rapping, and having an unusually long and successful career for a parodist (or musician of any kind).

Weird Al just kicked off a nationwide summer tour. He's also just released a new children's book, My New Teacher and Me. You can find more information .


Linguist Geoff Nunberg on The First Sixty Years of Assholism

Geoff Nunberg is a professor at UC Berkeley, the resident linguist of Fresh Air, and the author of Ascent of the A-Word: Assholism, the First Sixty Years. He talks to us about his studies into the word "asshole," which began life as a bit of slang used by WWII servicemen and has come to envelop the concept of modern incivility.

We spoke in 2012. The book is now out in paperback.

(More of our conversation with Geoff Nunberg that didn't make the radio edit! Click to listen and share.)

The Outshot: The Late Show with David Letterman

Jesse explains what makes David Letterman such an especially gifted late night host in a world of very good late night hosts.

Got a cultural gem of your own? Pick your own Outshot on the MaxFun Forum.>

(Embed or share this Outshot on David Letterman)

Listen Now
Embeddable Audio Player Code (Copy and Paste)

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Christopher Guest & Dan Kennedy

| 0 comments
Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Christopher Guest
Guests: 
Dan Kennedy
Guests: 
Marah Eakin
Guests: 
Andrea Battleground

Like what you hear? Subscribe to Bullseye in iTunes or your favorite RSS reader, which often contains extended interviews that we just can't fit on the radio.

Already a subscriber? Awesome – and thank you! If you like what you hear, do us a favor and rate and review the show in iTunes. Next to sharing the show with a friend (which is also pretty cool), it's one of the best ways you can help introduce the show to even more folks.

Christopher Guest on Making "Family Tree" and Pitch-Perfect Parodies

Christopher Guest is best known for his faux-documentary comedies: films like This Is Spinal Tap, Best in Show, and A Mighty Wind. His very earliest work was in the theater -- he co-wrote National Lampoon's Lemmings -- and then in the mid-80s, he made a quick foray into television on Saturday Night Live.

Now he's returned to TV with a comedy created for HBO, Family Tree. The show follows wayward thirty-something Tom Chadwick (played by Chris O'Dowd), who digs deep into his family's history after being dumped by his longtime girlfriend. Though Guest's films usually follow a specific subculture (that of dog shows, community musical theater, or the world of heavy metal), Family Tree focuses on Tom, his family, and the many people he meets while trying to dig up genealogical dirt.

Guest joins us to talk about what makes bad music parodies so awful, how to keep from being swayed by film critics' reviews, and the most bizarre reaction to a Hollywood pitch that he's ever received.

Family Tree airs Sunday nights at 10:30pm on HBO.

Embed and Share Christopher Guest on Making "Family Tree" and Pitch-Perfect Parodies

Summer Rock Recommendations from The AV Club: Mikal Cronin's MCII and Vampire Weekend's "Modern Vampires of the City"

Summer's almost here – so why not celebrate with some new music? The AV Club's Music Editor Marah Eakin and Lead Copy Editor Andrea Battleground have a couple albums in mind. Andrea suggests checking out Mikal Cronin's latest album, MCII, a garage-rock record that brings a poppy, melodic twist to the genre. Marah's pick is Vampire Weekend's Modern Vampires of the City, the latest record from the New York-based indie rock band that she says is just as much fun coming from your speakers as it is live.

Embed and Share Summer Rock Recommendations from The AV Club: Mikal Cronin's MCII and Vampire Weekend's "Modern Vampires of the City"

Nick Krill of The Spinto Band on "The Song That Changed My Life": "Pueblo Nuevo" by The Buena Vista Social Club

Nick Krill was stuck in a musical rut. He'd been listening to the same records for years, and was happy doing it. But while he was on tour, he heard something that nudged him to branch out again. That song was "Pueblo Nuevo" by The Buena Vista Social Club – a song that got him thinking about rhythm and composition in totally new ways.

The Spinto Band's latest record, Cool Cocoon, was released earlier this year.

Embed and Share Nick Krill of The Spinto Band on "The Song That Changed My Life": "Pueblo Nuevo" by The Buena Vista Social Club

Dan Kennedy on Making His Most Personal Moments Public

Here's something terrifying about the internet: once something's out there, it's out there. Sure, your Facebook and Twitter posts have a handy delete button next to them, but clicking on them is no guarantee that they'll go away forever.

That's something Dan Kennedy's painfully aware of. As a writer, host of The Moth storytelling podcast, and an acerbically brilliant Twitter user, he gets more mileage than most of us do from taking his most personal moments and making them public. But Kennedy's found that this kind of sharing can have its downsides – hence his first novel, American Spirit, which just came out today. The book has a few anecdotes inspired by Kennedy's real life. American Spirit follows Matthew, a fired media executive whose life is falling apart; in fact, things are so bad, he finds himself divorced and living in his car. But in spite of the plot's direness, American Spirit is strangely hilarious and life affirming.

Dan Kennedy sits down with us to discuss how he inadvertently started working on the book long before he sat down to knock out a first draft, the responsibilities that writing non-fiction brings, and why living each day as if it was your last is actually a really terrible idea.

American Spirit was just released today. You can hear Kennedy as the host of The Moth Podcast.

Embed and Share Dan Kennedy on Making His Most Personal Moments Public

The Outshot: "Coney Island"

Ever feel nostalgia for a time or place that you never even experienced firsthand? That's what Jesse felt after watching Ric Burns' documentary Coney Island, a beautiful portrait of America caught somewhere between its past and its future.

Embed and Share Jesse's Outshot: Coney Island

Listen Now
Embeddable Audio Player Code (Copy and Paste)

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Nile Rodgers, Mark Frauenfelder

| 0 comments
Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Nile Rodgers
Guests: 
Mark Frauenfelder

Mark Frauenfelder Recommends: The Hunter by Richard Stark and Every Noise At Once

BoingBoing founder and editor Mark Frauenfelder joins us to share a few of his all-time favorite pop culture picks. His first recommendation is The Hunter, a dark 1962 novel reminiscent of antihero-driven television shows like Breaking Bad. Next, you'll need something to soothe your senses – how about some new music? Check out Every Noise At Once, a website that introduces listeners to obscure genres from Arab soul to zouk.

Disco Pioneer Nile Rodgers on Producing Hits, The Legacy of Disco, and the "Deep Hidden Meaning"

You might not recognize Nile Rodgers, who began his music career as part of the purposely faceless band Chic -- but you'd definitely know his music if you heard it. He founded Chic with bassist Bernard Edwards, launched a string of hits including "Le Freak" and "Good Times", and went on to become a songwriting and producing superstar with a tried-and-true formula.

The anthem "We are Family"? That's one of his, too. He was behind Diana Ross' "I'm Coming Out", David Bowie's "Let's Dance", and Madonna's "Like a Virgin". He continues to make and perform music, both with Chic and as a producer. This month, you can hear him on Daft Punk's new album Random Access Memories, contributing a signature guitar sound to the single "Get Lucky".

Back in 2011, Rodgers spoke with us about a beatnik childhood, decades of writing hits (including the gay anthem "I'm Coming Out" for Diana Ross), and the legacy of disco.

His memoir is Le Freak: An Upside Down Story of Family, Disco, and Destiny.

(This interview originally aired in November 2011.)

Nichols and May Examine Doctors

Who are Mike Nichols and Elaine May? You might know them both for their film and theater work (among many other things, Nichols directed The Graduate and May helmed The Heartbreak Kid). But first, they performed as a improvisational comedy duo in the early 1960s on TV and on bestselling comedy albums, often fixed on skewering relationships. Case in point: a classic comedy sketch from 1962's Nichols and May Examine Doctors, in which a workplace fling becomes a matter of life or death.

Nichols and May Examine Doctors was recently reissued as a CD and digital download.

The Outshot: Bill Cunningham New York

Jesse examines the often superficial fashion world and finds a stunningly sincere and emotional portrait of a man. The man is New York Times fashion photographer Bill Cunningham, and the portrait is Richard Press's biographical documentary Bill Cunningham New York.

(This segment originally aired in April 2012.)

Embed and Share The Outshot: Bill Cunningham New York

Listen Now
Embeddable Audio Player Code (Copy and Paste)

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Mel Brooks and Directors of "The Source Family"

| 3 comments
Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Mel Brooks
Guests: 
Maria Demopoulos
Guests: 
Jodi Wille
Guests: 
Andrew Noz

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to the show in iTunes or via the RSS feed, or check out our SoundCloud page to share any or all of these interviews or recommendations!

Hip Hop Recommendations from Andrew Noz: Juice by Chance The Rapper and Picacho by Young Thug (feat. Maceo)

Andrew Noz joins us to provide some recommendations from the world of hip hop. First, he talks to us about Chance the Rapper's self-proclaimed lyrical challenge, as evidenced in Juice, a track off his latest mixtape, Acid Rap. And what if Lil Wayne stayed off the beaten pop music path? It might sound like Young Thug's weirded-out track, Picacho.

Andrew Noz is the columnist for Pitchfork's Hall of Game, and also blogs and Tumblr-s regularly at Cocaine Blunts and Tumblin 'Erb.

Embed and Share Hip Hop Recommendations from Andrew Noz: Juice by Chance The Rapper and Picacho by Young Thug (feat. Maceo)


Mel Brooks catching up on the present in between takes of History Of The World: Part I. (Photo by Pamela Barkentin Blackburn.)

Mel Brooks Takes Down Hitler (and Makes a Few Wonderfully Bad Jokes Along the Way)

It's hard to imagine what American comedy would look like without Mel Brooks. With a sharp eye for parody, a seemingly infinite supply of gags, and enough destruction of the fourth wall to make a postmodern novelist blush, his work has set the tone for countless comedy TV shows and films. It's hard to imagine SNL's relentless TV parodies without Your Show Of Shows (which Brooks wrote for alongside Sid Caesar back in the 50s), The Simpsons without his filmography full of sly pop-culture references, or the careers of Airplane! creators Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker without Brooks' shameless love of (self-admittedly) awful jokes.

A new PBS American Masters documentary, Mel Brooks: Make A Noise, explores the life and career of the EGOT winner and man behind The Producers, Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, and so much more. Brooks talks to us about fighting in World War II (where he managed to even make a few Germans laugh), the genius of Gene Wilder, and that time Sid Caesar dangled Brooks out the window of a Chicago hotel room.

PBS's American Masters documentary Mel Brooks: Make A Noise premieres Monday, May 20. Check with your public television station for local listings. A box set from Shout! Factory with over ten hours of rare and exclusive footage was also released late last year.

(Embed or share this interview: Mel Brooks Takes Down Hitler (and Makes a Few Wonderfully Bad Jokes Along the Way)


Directors Maria Demopoulos and Jodi Wille on The Source Family, LA's Most Famous Hippie Cult

The Source Family fit the conventional image of a typical hippie cult in a lot of ways – assuming, of course, that there is such a thing as a typical hippie cult. You could point to the commune, the long hair, the Jesus-y robes...not to mention occasional hits of what they called "sacred herb". Dig deeper, though, and it becomes clear that there was plenty that separated the Source Family from stereotypes.

The group was just as unique as their leader, a man who called himself Father Yod. He was a former Marine, stuntman, jujitsu expert who founded the Source Family alongside a highly successful vegetarian restaurant. Out of the back of that restaurant, the family sold recordings of their regular jam sessions, which became the stuff of psychedelic rock legend. Perhaps most unlike your average cult leader, Father Yod was not particularly attached to any particular ideology – not even his own. In direct violation of his own commandments, Yod married thirteen wives, a move which both alienated a number of family members and caught the LAPD's attention. This caused the Source Family to flee to Hawaii, which ultimately resulted in the group's demise.

We're delving further into LA's most famous hippie cult with the help of Maria Demopoulos and Jodi Wille, the directors of a new documentary called The Source Family. They discuss the group's run-ins with celebrities (and law enforcement), why Father Yod once told his followers to cut their hair and get jobs, and whether or not they would have joined the group, if given the chance.

The Source Family is in limited nationwide theatrical release. For information about screenings at a theater near you, check out the film's website.

(Embed or share Directors Maria Demopoulos and Jodi Wille on The Source Family, LA's Most Famous Hippie Cult)


The Outshot: Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson

This week, find out why Jesse's been spending a lot of time with Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson, a home-tome that gracefully runs the housekeeping gamut from sections titled "Administering Insurance Policies" to "Privacy, Sex, and the Constitution".

(Embed or share Jesse's Outshot: Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson)

Listen Now
Embeddable Audio Player Code (Copy and Paste)

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Huey Lewis and Phone Phreaking with Phil Lapsley

| 1 comment
Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Huey Lewis
Guests: 
Phil Lapsley
Guests: 
Carolyn Kellogg

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to the show in iTunes or via the RSS feed, or check out our SoundCloud page to share these segments.

Book Recommendations from Carolyn Kellogg: Walden on Wheels and Life After Life

We're delighted to have blogger, book critic, and LA Times writer Carolyn Kellogg with us to give this week's pop culture picks. Her first suggestion is Ken Ilgunas's Walden on Wheels, a memoir about a three-year cross-country journey that he took to pay off his student loans. If you're looking for something from the world of fiction, Kellogg says to check out Kate Atkinson's Life After Life, a darkly funny novel about an early 20th century girl that Atkinson repeatedly (and gleefully) kills off over the course of the novel.

(Embed or Share Book Recommendations from Carolyn Kellogg: Walden on Wheels and Life After Life)

Huey Lewis on Making Music That Sounds Old and New All at Once

It seems strange now, but when Huey Lewis and The News released their first record in 1979, music executives weren't expecting them to become a huge success. With bombastic hair bands on one end of the rock spectrum and sneering punk rockers on the other, there didn't seem to be much of a place for Lewis and company's fun, bluesy pub-rock. But thumbing their noses at industry naysayers turned out to be the right move for Huey Lewis and The News. Case in point: 1983's Sports, their first record to hit number one on the Billboard charts.

Thirty years later, the band's commemorating the thirty-year anniversary of that album with an expanded re-issue of Sports, featuring remastered tracks and live versions of songs like "The Heart of Rock & Roll" and "I Want a New Drug". Huey Lewis sat down with Jesse to talk about the album that brought them to stardom, as well as his experiences writing songs for Back to the Future and Pineapple Express, how to stow away on an airplane to Europe (well, it worked in the seventies), and how a trip to Morocco convinced him that a career in music was possible.

Huey Lewis and The News' 30th Anniversary Edition of Sports will be released on May 14. For more information about the band and their US tour, you can check out their website.

(And as a bonus for our podcast listeners: want to hear about how Huey Lewis met Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, and just about every other super-famous singer…all in one night? Then be sure to check out our extended interview with him on our SoundCloud page, where he talks about recording the eighties anthem "We Are The World".)

(Embed or Share Huey Lewis on Making Music That Sounds Old and New All at Once)


Phone phreaker Al Diamond in 1972

Writer Phil Lapsley on the Subculture of Phone Phreaking

Remember the seventies, before phones got smart? It was a simpler time. There were no apps, no texts, and jailbreaking was something you could only do in a prison. But there was still plenty of trouble to get into using a phone.

As Phil Lapsley explains in his new book, Exploding The Phone: The Untold Story of the Teenagers and Outlaws who Hacked Ma Bell, the early seventies marked the beginning of phone phreaking. Phreaking involved tricking the systems that controlled phone lines by re-creating frequencies that phones used to communicate with one another. Just by using a tone-generating device called a blue box, a phone phreaker could fool phone networks into connecting them to long-distance calls – calls that usually cost hundreds of dollars – for free. But it didn't take long for phone companies to take notice.

In this interview, Lapsley explains that phone phreaking changed the world as we know it. He talks about why phone companies were initially hesitant to prosecute phreakers, why enthusiasts involved with phreaking despite having no one in particular to call, and why Steve Jobs once said that there'd be no Apple without phone phreaking.

Exploding the Phone is available now. And if you pick up a copy of the book, keep an eye out for phone numbers in the text... They could lead you to some interesting places.

Embed or share Writer Phil Lapsley on the Subculture of Phone Phreaking

The Outshot: Antiques Roadshow

There's a pretty simple formula to Antiques Roadshow: someone comes in with a knickknack and has it assessed by an expert. Next comes everyone's favorite part: the big reveal, where they find out what their item is really worth. That's part's pretty great, Jesse says – but there's something about Antiques Roadshow that he loves even more.

Embed or share Jesse's Outshot: Antiques Roadshow

Listen Now
Embeddable Audio Player Code (Copy and Paste)

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Simon Amstell and Brian K. Vaughan

| 0 comments
Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Simon Amstell
Guests: 
Brian K. Vaughan
Guests: 
Jordan Morris
Guests: 
Erik Adams
Guests: 
Claire Zulkey

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to the show in iTunes or via the RSS feed, or check out our SoundCloud page to share these segments.

All-Time TV Favorites: Spaced and Twin Peaks

We're joined by AV Club Assistant TV Editor Erik Adams and contributor Claire Zulkey for some all-time favorite TV picks. Claire recommends checking out Spaced, a lightning-fast, pop-culture-tastic British sitcom from the brains behind Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Erik's pick is the mysterious, funny, and very surreal Twin Peaks, David Lynch and Mark Frost's series about a small town with big secrets.

(Embed or Share All-Time TV Favorites: Spaced and Twin Peaks)


Simon Amstell on provoking Jermaine Jackson, his shamanic quest to find peace, and television fame

This interview originally aired December 2012.

Years before he became famous in Britain for skewering celebrities on Popworld and Nevermind the Buzzcocks, Simon Amstell's childhood ambition was to be on TV. And unlike most kids with dreams of TV stardom, he made it a reality -- but found it less fulfilling than he had hoped. Comedian, writer and TV host Amstell joins us this week to share his experiences in the entertainment industry, including navigating the delicate line between crafting clever comedy and bullying his celebrity guests as a TV host, writing and starring in Grandma's House, a sitcom with parallels to his own life, and seeking enlightenment on a Shamanic quest in South America.

Simon Amstell returns to the US in early May to perform his stand-up special, Numb, along the west coast. You can find tour dates and more info about Simon at his website.

(Embed or Share this interview with Simon Amstell)

Jordan Morris ranks America's stuff

This segment originally aired December 2012.

In this era of constant hustle and bustle, who can keep up with what's HOT and what's NOT in these United States? Fortunately, expert stuff-ranker Jordan Morris joins us this week to fill us in and set us straight.

Jordan Morris co-hosts the podcast Jordan, Jesse, Go!. You can follow him on Twitter at @Jordan_Morris.
(Embed or Share Jordan Ranks America)

Brian K. Vaughan on creation, from babies to universes

This segment originally aired December 2012.

Brian K. Vaughan has the kind of strange and epic vision that's made for science fiction and fantasy. He's written award-winning comic book series like Ex Machina and Y: The Last Man, and helped craft otherworldly storylines for several seasons of Lost.

His works are notable for their intimacy and beautiful, meticulously crafted characters, despite grandly epic settings. His most recent comic book series, Saga, is a prime example: Vaughan presents a fundamentally domestic story of parents trying to give their child a good life, backed by a colossal, galactic war. He joins us this week to share why he enjoys storytelling on a grand scale. Vaughan also explains why writing stories about lesser-known comic characters -- like Marvel's weird wildman Ka-Zar -- can be preferable to writing about the big names like Spiderman, and he tracks how fatherhood has affected his writing.

Volume One of Saga is available in bookstores and digitally at Comixology. Volume Two is available for pre-order; it will be released on July 9.

(Embed or Share this interview with Brian K. Vaughan)

The Outshot: The Dirtbombs' "Ultraglide in Black"

This segment originally aired October 2012.

Rage, garage punk, and R&B. The Dirtbombs' music has it all, and Jesse suggests you check out their album Ultraglide in Black.

(Embed or Share Jesse's Outshot: The Dirtbombs' "Ultraglide in Black"

Listen Now
Embeddable Audio Player Code (Copy and Paste)

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Armando Iannucci, Billy Bragg

| 0 comments
Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Guests: 
Armando Iannucci
Guests: 
Billy Bragg
Guests: 
Kyle Ryan
Guests: 
Nathan Rabin

New to Bullseye? Subscribe in iTunes or the RSS feed. You can also find and share all of our segments on our Soundcloud page.


The AV Club Recommends: Desperate Ground by The Thermals and It's A Disaster

AV Club Head Writer Nathan Rabin and Managing Editor Kyle Ryan join us this week to give their pop culture picks. Kyle recommends checking out The Thermals' new album, Desperate Ground, a return to the band's loud, punk rock style. From the world of film, Nathan suggests checking out It's A Disaster, a black comedy on VOD and in select theaters about a group of friends dealing with a divorce and the approaching apocalypse.

Embed or share Recommendations with The AV Club: Desperate Ground by The Thermals and It's A Disaster


Veep Creator Armando Iannucci on Poking Fun at Politics

What does the career trajectory of a lifelong political junkie look like? There are the obvious choices, like a major in Political Science, law school...maybe even a career in politics. But Armando Iannucci took a different path – one that led him to Oxford, an incomplete PhD, and work writing and producing comedy, like his acclaimed political satire The Thick of It and the feature film In the Loop.

Iannucci created a new take on American politics in the HBO comedy Veep. Now in its second season, the show follows a fictional Vice President (played by Julia Louis-Dreyfus) with lofty ambitions but little actual power. Veep showcases the comedy inherent in the struggle for the political upperhand, the constant panic and exhaustion. Seemingly small gaffes quickly escalate into ridiculous catastrophes. The show's dialogue is marked by careful attention to absurd politi-speak and some especially creative cursing.

Iannucci joins us to talk about the difference between UK and US politics, why he sympathizes with our elected officials, and conducting swearing research in Washington, D.C.

Embed or share Veep Creator Armando Iannucci on Poking Fun at Politics


The Song That Changed My Life, with Billy Bragg: Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin'"

Billy Bragg performs politically-minded folk music with a punk rock edge, songs with a tone and attitude somewhere between Woody Guthrie and the Sex Pistols. But what led to him developing his voice as an artist?

As Bragg explains, one of the most pivotal moments in his life happened during his lunch break at a record store. He put on a record that changed his life: Bob Dylan's folk anthem The Times They Are A-Changin'.

Billy Bragg is currently touring the US. You can find dates and tickets through his website.

Embed or share Billy Bragg on "The Song That Changed My Life": Bob Dylan's "The Times They Are A-Changin'"


Julia Louis-Dreyfus on Tapping Into Frustation for Seinfeld and Veep

Most of us first knew Julia Louis-Dreyfus from her Emmy-winning role as Elaine on Seinfeld. Elaine flailed, fought, and danced her way into our hearts as the friend to "losers" Jerry, George and Kramer. But Louis-Dreyfus first arrived in entertainment fresh off her college comedy sketch group, as a repertory player in the Dick Ebersol-helmed cast of Saturday Night Live.

After Seinfeld, she went on to anchor several sitcoms, including The New Adventures of Old Christine, with delightful guest appearances on shows like Arrested Development and 30 Rock. Her career has now taken her to a different cast of skewed characters on HBO's Veep.

On Veep, Louis-Dreyfus plays Selina Meyer, Vice President of the United States. Though the vice-presidency is a prestigious position, Meyer's day-to-day work is less than impressive. Her staff members claw at each other for power and prestige. She suffers awkward encounters with the media and consistent snubs from the President (a running gag on the show is Selina's off-hand question, "Did the President call?" The answer is usually no).

Julia Louis-Dreyfus joins us to talk about the similarities she's discovered between show business and politics, the boys' club that was SNL in the 80s, and a certain terrible dance that still haunts her to this day.

Veep airs on HBO on Sundays at 10/9 PM central.

Embed or share Julia Louis-Dreyfus on Channeling Rage into Seinfeld and Veep


The Outshot: Threat by Jay-Z

Rap isn't poetry – it's its own thing. But, like poets, many of the best rappers imbue their lyrics with layers and layers of meaning. Need proof? Jesse suggests a close listen to Jay-Z's "Threat".

Embed or share Jesse's Outshot: Threat by Jay-Z

Listen Now
Embeddable Audio Player Code (Copy and Paste)

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Shane Carruth of Upstream Color and Rodney Ascher of Room 237

| 1 comment
Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Shane Carruth
Guests: 
Rodney Ascher
Guests: 
Kumail Nanjiani
Guests: 
Emily V. Gordon

New to Bullseye? Subscribe in iTunes or the RSS feed. You can also find and share all of our segments on our Soundcloud page.


Video Games with The Indoor Kids: Ms. Splosion Man and BioShock Infinite

Kumail Nanjiani and Emily V. Gordon, co-hosts of video game podcast The Indoor Kids, join us to share their favorite new releases. Their first pick is Ms. Splosion Man, an imaginative platformer newly available on iOS. (Think Super Mario meets spontaneous self-combustion.) For a lengthier experience, check out BioShock Infinite, which (literally) takes the first BioShock to even greater heights.

Embed or share Kumail and Emily's Picks: Ms. Splosion Man and BioShock Infinite


Upstream Color Director Shane Carruth on Creating Cryptic Cinema

Nearly ten years have passed since the release of writer/director Shane Carruth's first low-budget film, a complex time travel movie called Primer. Film fans are still obsessed with teasing out the intricacies of the story, about a time-travel machine and the men who engineered the machine. But within that story, there are emotional and ethical struggles that keep the audience riveted -- a quality that's become a hallmark of Carruth's small but powerful filmography.

Carruth wrote, directed, starred and composed all of the music for Primer, and he had the same all-consuming roles in his new film, Upstream Color. The movie is just as difficult to explain as his first. Upstream Color's two lead characters seem to have a shared experience of bodily manipulation, and cling to that sameness because they have nothing else. The movie delves deeply into identity and loss, and comes through with a powerful emotional experience.

Shane Carruth joins us to talk about the upsides and downsides of independent filmmaking, why plot summary doesn't always get to a movie's heart, and the best James Bond movie that will never be made.

Upstream Color is in select theaters nationwide. The film is available on DVD, Blu-Ray, and on demand on May 7.

Embed or share Upstream Color Director Shane Carruth on Creating Cryptic Cinema


Comedy: Kyle Kinane Goes on a Fast Food Adventure

Kyle Kinane had a problem. He was craving fast food, but he'd had a little too much to drink. But he found a solution. It involved a little bit of ingenuity, a wallet's worth of cash, and a very patient cab driver.

This clip comes from Kyle Kinane's latest special, Whiskey Icarus, which is available as a digital download or a CD/DVD. He'll be performing at MaxFunCon 2013 in late May.

Embed or share Comedy: Kyle Kinane Goes on a Fast Food Adventure


Director Rodney Ascher Opens The Door On Room 237

Stanley Kubrick's movie The Shining made a huge cultural impression. It's a classic horror movie about the psychological tolls of isolation, the dissolution of a family, the Holocaust, and how Kubrick helped fake the moon landing.

Wait a second. The Holocaust? Moon landing? Yep. The new documentary Room 237 features increasingly eye-widening theories about the hidden subtexts of The Shining. Movies often inspire intense debate over authorial intent, but Kubrick's known perfectionism and deliberate filmmaking often take this discussion to another level.

Room 237's director Rodney Ascher sits down with us to discuss some of the film's more creative theories, as well as whether or not there's such a thing as too much interpretation.

Room 237 is out now in select theaters nationwide and available on video on-demand.

Embed or share Director Rodney Ascher Opens The Door On Room 237


The Outshot: The Grand Tour by George Jones

Pop music is usually for young people – what better audience is there for short, simple, high-energy music? But what does pop music sound like when it grows up? To answer that question, Jesse takes a look at a song by George Jones, called The Grand Tour.

Embed or share Jesse's Outshot: The Grand Tour by George Jones

Listen Now
Embeddable Audio Player Code (Copy and Paste)

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Big Boi, Catherine O'Hara, and Pop Culture Advice

| 2 comments
Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Big Boi
Guests: 
Catherine O'Hara
Guests: 
Mark Frauenfelder
Guests: 
Justin McElroy
Guests: 
Travis McElroy
Guests: 
Griffin McElroy

It's the final week of MaxFunDrive! Visit maximumfun.org/donate to find out more and support this show.

New to Bullseye? Subscribe in iTunes or the RSS feed. You can also find and share all of our segments on our Soundcloud page.


Recommendations with Mark Frauenfelder: Bunk and Marijuanamerica

This week's recommendations come from BoingBoing founder and Gweek host Mark Frauenfelder. His first suggestion is Bunk, a game for iOS that makes good use of your vocabulary, your friends, and your ability to convincingly make stuff up. Looking for something to read? He also suggests Marijuanamerica, a new book about a man who tours the US to understand America's love/hate relationship with pot.

Embed or share Mark Frauenfelder's Recommendations: Bunk and Marijuanamerica


Hip Hop Icon Big Boi: Getting Familiar with Uncharted Territory

The rapper and producer Big Boi has sold over 50 million records as a solo artist and as half of the platinum-selling hip hop duo OutKast. The innovative Atlanta-based group broke out in the mid-1990s with "Rosa Parks" and "Elevators", then followed up with crossover pop hits like "The Way You Move" and "Bombs Over Baghdad".

OutKast found huge commercial success with an experimental brand of hip hop, eschewing old-school samples in favor of new sounds. Big Boi has been the more musically prolific member of the group. He's gone on to produce several solo albums and collaborate with artists across the music spectrum, from fellow ATL-based rapper Ludacris to funk-master George Clinton to the indie rock band Wavves. He's headed out on the nearly 50-city "Shoes for Running" tour to support his newest release, Vicious Lies & Dangerous Rumors.

Big Boi joins us to talk about the early days recording in an clay-walled basement, coming to terms with fame, and where to go musically when you've hit monumental commercial success.

Embed or share Big Boi on Getting Familiar with Uncharted Territory


Pop Culture Advice from My Brother, My Brother and Me

MaximumFun's own McElroy Brothers provide advice to wayward individuals – some more wayward than others – on their weekly podcast, My Brother, My Brother and Me. This week, they're helping out Bullseye listeners with their pop-culture quandaries. For instance: are you allowed to like dubstep and be from the suburbs?

Embed or share Pop Culture Advice from My Brother, My Brother and Me


Catherine O'Hara on Being Slightly, Perfectly Odd

Catherine O'Hara's work embodies a particularly special brand of comic absurdity. She helped launch SCTV alongside other burgeoning comedy greats like John Candy and Eugene Levy, quit the show, but still moved on to star in blockbuster comedies. She became spiritually possessed in Beetlejuice, played a memorable, anxiety-ridden mother to Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone, and became a critical part of Christopher Guest's ensemble mockumentaries, like Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show.

More recently, she's been in HBO's critically-acclaimed biopic Temple Grandin and Tim Burton's Frankenweenie, and she'll star in a Fox comedy pilot later this year.

O'Hara talks to us about the difficulties of being a woman in the SCTV writers' room, creating memorable characters with her longtime friend and collaborator Eugene Levy, and her own secret comedic formula.

Oh, and in this outtake, hear about the best boyfriend ever: Dan Akroyd.

Embed or share Catherine O'Hara on Being Slightly, Perfectly Odd


The Outshot: Fast, Cheap & Out of Control

At first, Errol Morris's documentary Fast, Cheap & Out of Control looks like it's about four men and their professional occupations: a lion tamer, a topiarist, a roboticist, a scientist who studies naked mole rats. But the movie is about much more than just weird jobs.

Embed or share The Outshot: Fast, Cheap & Out of Control

Special thanks this week to FreeSound.org user juskiddink for the sound effects used during our BoatParty.biz promo.

Listen Now
Embeddable Audio Player Code (Copy and Paste)

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Lily Tomlin, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Davy Rothbart

| 2 comments
Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Lily Tomlin
Guests: 
Neil deGrasse Tyson
Guests: 
Davy Rothbart
Guests: 
Erik Adams
Guests: 
Claire Zulkey

It's the MaxFunDrive, April 1st - 12th! Visit maximumfun.org/donate to find out more and support this show.

New to Bullseye? Subscribe in iTunes or the RSS feed. You can also find and share all of our segments on our Soundcloud page.


Television with The AV Club: Happy Endings and Suburgatory

Erik Adams and Claire Zulkey from The AV Club join us this week to talk about what you should be watching this spring. Erik's pick is Happy Endings, a great sitcom from ABC with undeservedly less-than-great ratings. And speaking of ABC sitcoms: Claire's recommendation is Suburgatory, a single-camera sitcom about a couple of Manhattanites who make the big move upstate.

Embed or share The AV Club's TV recommendations: Happy Endings and Suburgatory


Lily Tomlin on Being Someone Else... In Her Own Way

Lily Tomlin has a remarkable range as an actress and comedian. Whether she's playing a precocious six-year-old on Laugh-In or a pill-popping sixty-six year old on HBO's Eastbound and Down; whatever character she plays, Lily inhabits her roles in a way that few performers can.

Now, she appears in the new film Admission, playing a tough second-wave feminist mom to an uptight college admissions officer played by Tina Fey. Though she may not have as much screen time as Fey, Tomlin made the most of the role (and insisted on the proper accoutrements, including a fake tattoo of founding feminist Bella Abzug).

Lily talks to us about shaping her role in Admission, the moment that she decided she wanted to be a professional actor...and yes, a certain YouTube-famous confrontation (link NSFW) with I Heart Huckabees director David O. Russell.

Admission is in theaters now.

But wait! There's more! Click here for an extended interview with Lily Tomlin for talk about how she develops her characters, coming out of the closet as a performer, and why her main priority as a comedian isn't getting laughs. And don't forget to share this one with your friends – it's too good to keep to yourself!


Lost and Found with FOUND Magazine's Davy Rothbart

FOUND Magazine co-creator and editor Davy Rothbart is back again to share more pieces of lost and found ephemera: receipts, notes, and letters with stories behind them that we can only imagine...or laugh at.

Davy's new book of personal essays is called My Heart Is an Idiot. FOUND Magazine is on its eighth issue and posts new finds all the time on their website. If you've got a cool find, be sure to share it with them.

Embed or share Lost and Found with FOUND Magazine's Davy Rothbart


Neil DeGrasse Tyson on The Universe and the Path of Most Resistance

When Neil DeGrasse Tyson was a kid, he had a plan: he wanted to be an astrophysicist. But the adults around him had other plans. They thought he'd make a great athlete. But Neil stuck to his guns, and now he's one of the most famous astrophysicists in the world – heck, one of the only famous astrophysicists in the world.

But how did he persevere? Or, to use his words: why was it that he took the "path of most resistance" when there were plenty of other, easier paths around him? Ultimately, it was his passion for the universe itself that kept him going.

Neil joins us to talk about why he thinks the universe is more awesome than anything else...and to maybe try to help Jesse get over his fear of outer space.

Neil is the host of StarTalk, director of the Hayden Planetarium and the author of Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier, out now in paperback.

Embed or share Neil deGrasse Tyson on the universe


The Outshot: Opening Day

This week, the big thing on Jesse's mind is baseball, specifically opening day – not just for the excitement of the game itself, but for the new beginnings it brings.

Embed or share Jesse's Outshot: Opening Day

Special thanks this week to Jalen Warshawsky and No Color for providing the music played during our pledge breaks. You can find those songs and more at the Free Music Archive.

Listen Now
Embeddable Audio Player Code (Copy and Paste)