Bullseye

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Open Mike Eagle and Paula Poundstone

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Open Mike Eagle
Guests: 
Paula Poundstone

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in Apple Podcasts or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

Open Mike Eagle on his unconventional path to becoming an emcee, Chicago rap, and getting laid off

You could call Open Mike Eagle an up-and-coming rapper, though his rise has been anything but typical. Mike currently lives and makes his living in Los Angeles, but he was born in Chicago. He was a teacher for the first part of his adult life, and he actually didn't release his first album until he was almost 30.

Mike's known for crafting humorous and clever rhymes, which isn't altogether uncommon in rap. But his style is weirder, left of center, and even self-deprecating at times. For example, the first album he released was titled "Unapologetic Art Rap."

Things are looking up for Mike these days. Mike's latest album dropped a couple weeks ago, called Brick Body Kids Still Daydream. Outside of rap, he co-hosts Tights and Fights, a wrestling podcast on Maximum Fun. Also, he and comedian Baron Vaughn just got their own Comedy Central show that's currently in development, called "The New Negroes."

You can stream and buy Mike's album on Bandcamp.

Click here to listen to Open Mike Eagle's interview on YouTube!

Photo by Earl Gibson III/Getty Images

I Wish I'd Made That: Paula Poundstone on Bridesmaids

Also, Paula Poundstone joins us to talk about a movie she wishes she made.

Paula's been doing standup comedy since 1979. She's appeared on pretty much every talk show, has had recurring roles on TV and a bunch of specials. And you almost definitely know her voice from the NPR quiz show Wait, Wait...Don't Tell Me!

These days Paula's keeping busy with a bunch of new projects. She hosts a new NPR podcast called Live from the Poundstone Institute where she interviews experts and academics in front of a live studio audience. She also has written a new book called The Totally Unscientific Study of the Search for Human Happiness. In it, she tries pretty much every trick in the book to live a happier life, including taekwondo, reorganizing her house, and driving a fancy new car.

We asked Paula if there was any TV show or movie she wishes she made, and she was ready with an answer: 2011's smash-hit comedy, Bridesmaids.

Check out Paula's new podcast, Live from the Poundstone Institute on NPR One or wherever you listen to podcasts.

Click here to listen to Paula Poundstone talk about Bridesmaids!

The Outshot: 1989 Billy Ripken Baseball Card

In the world of baseball card collecting, some of the most rare and highly coveted cards are those with printing errors. In this week's Outshot, Jesse talks about an error card to top them all: a 1989 Fleer Billy Ripken card, number 616.

Click here to listen to Jesse's Outshot on the 1989 Fleer Billy Ripken card!

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Jonathan Coulton and Tim Gunn

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Jonathan Coulton
Guests: 
Tim Gunn

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in Apple Podcasts or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

Photo by Jesse Thorn

Jonathan Coulton on his new album Solid State, and using humor in songwriting

This week Jesse talks to singer-songwriter Jonathan Coulton. About 12 years ago, Jonathan decided to quit his job as a computer programmer to pursue a full-time career in music. And he did so by starting maybe one of the most ambitious songwriting projects ever: he decided he would write, record, and release one song every week for an entire year.

That project, called Thing a Week, was a runaway success. And while the novelty of the project eventually wore off, he gained a huge following of fans smitten by catchy and humorous songs of his like "Code Monkey," "RE: Your Brains," and even an acoustic cover of "Baby Got Back" so popular that the TV show Glee ripped it off. His career took off, leading to opportunities like writing songs for the popular Portal video games, and landing a gig as the house musician for the NPR quiz show Ask Me Another.

There's always been an underlying sadness and tragedy in some of Jonathan's music, funny songs included. Those themes come to the fore on his latest album, Solid State, which came out this year. It's kind of a dystopian concept album about the future of the internet, with songs about cat photos and trolls. He also just put out a companion graphic novel book with the same title.

Jonathan tells Jesse that even though he owes his career to the Internet, sometimes he actually hates it. As he gets older, he has increasingly mixed feelings about effects of Internet culture on our lives and relationships, an ambivalence that pervades his latest record. He also plays a couple tunes!

Learn more about Jonathan's music and where he's playing next on his website.

Listen to Jonathan Coulton's interview and in-studio performance!

Photo by Mike Coppola/Getty Images

Tim Gunn on Project Runway, and what our clothes say about us

Next up this week is Tim Gunn from Lifetime's Project Runway! If you can believe it, the show just started its 16th season last month. If shows like Top Chef brought haute cuisine into America's living rooms, Project Runway did the same with fashion.

Alongside host Heidi Klum, Tim's a teacher and mentor on the show. He guides aspiring designers on their path to stardom with his intelligence, compassion, and sense of humor. Even when he has to get tough on his students, he still comes across as thoughtful and winsome.

Even though Tim's won an Emmy for his work on Project Runway, he's far more than a television personality: he's got a brilliant mind for fashion. He taught design at the New School for 25 years, and was a department chair for five of those years. Tim talks to Jesse about the relationship between architecture and fashion, and the powerful messages that our clothes send to others. He argues that dressing well is something that everyone should be thinking about, not just fashion hounds. He also talks about those early years of working on Project Runway, and why he was initially skittish about being on TV.

Learn more about Project Runway, now in its 16th season.

Listen to Jesse's interview with Tim Gunn!

The Outshot: Norm MacDonald's "Roast" of Bob Saget

Jesse's never cared much for Comedy Central roasts, except for one. In this week's Outshot, he remembers Norm MacDonald's subversive performance at Bob Saget's roast in 2008.

Listen to this week's Outshot !

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Wallace Shawn, Jay Baruchel & Nick Lowe

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Wallace Shawn
Guests: 
Jay Baruchel
Guests: 
Nick Lowe

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in Apple Podcasts or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

Jay Baruchel on directing Goon: Last of the Enforcers, starring in Undeclared, and Canadian humor

This week Jesse talks to Canadian comedian and director Jay Baruchel. You've probably seen Jay in some great comedies like the FXX show Man Seeking Woman and Judd Apatow's Undeclared. He also starred in the How to Train Your Dragon movies as the voice of Hiccup.

This year, Jay directed his first ever feature length movie. It's called Goon: Last of the Enforcers, and it's the sequel to Goon, a movie he co-starred in a few years ago. The movie tells the story of an enforcer named Doug Glatt who's played by Seann William Scott.

Jay talks to Jesse about his love for hockey and the important function that violence plays in the Goon movies. He also shares a bit about his experience on the set of Undeclared and how it shaped him as a comedian. Plus, Jay drops some knowledge about his home and native land: specifically why Canadians are well represented in American comedies, and misconceptions about Montreal, his hometown.

Goon: Last of the Enforcers comes to theaters and VOD on September 1. You can pre-order it on iTunes now.

Listen to Jesse's conversation with Jay Baruchel!

Photo by Ilya S. Savenok/Getty Images for SAG Foundation

Wallace Shawn on acting and his latest book, Night Thoughts.

Also this week, the character actor Wallace Shawn. On screen he has over 180 credits, including films like Clueless, The Princess Bride, My Dinner with Andre. He's also had regular roles on Gossip Girl and Crossing Jordan. You probably also know him as the T-Rex from the Toy Story movies.

Wallace is also an Obie award-winning playwright and the author of several books. His latest is called Night Thoughts, an extended of essays touching on topics like politics, morality, and privilege.

You can find Night Thoughts on Amazon or your local bookseller.

Listen to Wallace Shawn's interview!

Photo: GARI GARAIALDE/AFP/Getty Images

The Song That Changed My Life: Nick Lowe on "Fatback Louisiana, USA"

English singer-songwriter Nick Lowe recalls the indelible mark that the 1950s country and western song "Fatback Louisiana, USA" by Tennessee Ernie Ford left on him as a young boy growing up on a Royal Air Force base.

Nick Lowe is gearing up to tour the Midwest and East Coast this fall. Find out if he'll be playing near you on his website, NickLowe.com.

Hear Nick Lowe talk about the song that changed his life!

The Outshot: The story-driven gameplay of Firewatch

Jesse praises Firewatch, an adventure game that combines gripping narrative and well-written dialogue to make for a deeply human experience.

Firewatch is available as a download on Windows, Mac, Linux, Playstation 4 and XBOX One.

Listen to Jesse's Outshot on Firewatch!

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Big Boi and Catherine O'Hara

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Bio Boi
Guests: 
Catherine O'Hara

[r] New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

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.

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

Big Boi's new album Boomiverse is out on June 16th.

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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 CBC's Schitts Creek.

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.

If you liked this, let someone know! Click here to share this segment.

The Outshot: Fast, Cheap, and 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.

If you liked this, let someone know! Click here to share this segment.

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

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Julia Louis-Dreyfus
Guests: 
Armando Iannucci
Guests: 
Billy Bragg

[r] New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.


Photo: Linda Nylind

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 upper hand, 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.

Ianucci's new film The Death of Stalin comes out later this year.


Photo:

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'".

Julia Louis-Dreyfus on Tapping Into Frustration 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 10:30/9:30 PM central.

The Outshot: Jay-Z's "Threat"

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."

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Laurie Kilmartin and Throwing Shade's Erin Gibson and Bryan Safi

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Laurie Kilmartin
Guests: 
Erin Gibson
Guests: 
Bryan Safi

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.


Photo: Jesse Thorn

Laurie Kilmartin on parenthood, losing her father, and her new SeeSo comedy special

Comedian and writer Laurie Kilmartin is probably best known as one of the finalists on the 7th season of Last Comic Standing. She has also written 2 books and has been nominated for a Primetime Emmy award. Last year, Laurie's 83 year old father was diagnosed with cancer. She had to take time off from her dream job as a staff writer on Conan O’Brian’s late night show and flew up to visit her father in Northern California as much as she could. During the months of her father's declining health, she took to Twitter writing jokes about her experience of losing a parent to cancer.

She talks to Jesse about her new SeeSo comedy special called 45 Jokes About My Dead Dad. She gets candid about what it’s like to lose a parent and how instrumental Twitter was in coming to grips during the process.

You can find more information about how to stream her special here.


Photo: Jesse Thorn

Erin Gibson and Bryan Safi on their new TV Land show Throwing Shade and how to be funny without being offensive

Erin Gibson and Bryan Safi are comedians, writers, actors, and podcast hosts. They met in 2010 as writers for Current TV, a news channel that was created by Al Gore and Al Jazeera. Erin covered feminist issues while Bryan covered the LGBTQ beat. In 2011, when Current TV closed its doors, Erin and Bryan knew that they still had more to say so they decided to start the Throwing Shade podcast hosted by Maximum Fun.

In studio with Jesse, they discuss their origin story, the differences between making podcasts and TV, and how to have a sincere and funny opinion without being offensive.

You can watch Throwing Shade on TV Land every Tuesday evening at 10:30/9:30c.

The Outshot: The Simpsons move to Cypress Creek

This week, Jesse tells us what an almost 20 year old episode of The Simpsons has to do with Silicon Valley, and why we should care.

Corin Tucker & Tom Arnold

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Corin Tucker
Guests: 
Tom Arnold

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.


Photo credit: Jesse Thorn

Corin Tucker of Sleater-Kinney on The Early Riot Grrrl Scene, Finding Her Voice, and Sleater-Kinney's Return

[r] Sleater-Kinney is one of the most-loved indie bands of the past two decades. The band formed in the latter days of the riot grrrl movement in Olympia, Washington, and found an intense following. They were fierce, and they let their ideas "fill the room".

After recording eight albums and tons of touring, they went on hiatus. The band's members pursued other musical and creative projects, but there was a nagging question -- what would it be like if Sleater-Kinney returned?

In January of 2015, the band released a new record called No Cities to Love. It had been nearly a decade since their last LP.

Corin Tucker, the group's co-founder, joins us to talk about soaking up the punk and riot grrrl scenes of the early 1990s, finding her voice, and why Sleater-Kinney returned.


Photo: Jesse Thorn

Tom Arnold Talks About Shaking Off the Bullies and Making His Own Way

Tom Arnold is a real show business survivor. His first big job in Hollywood was as a writer on Roseanne. He ended up married to her. He became a regular on the show and their relationship was tabloid fodder for five years. By the time they broke up in 1994, you couldn't make it through a late night monologue without a Tom Arnold joke.

But Arnold never stopped working, as a character actor, as a sports talk show host, as a stand up comic, and now in his 50s he's a dad for the first time and he's now been a star in Hollywood for thirty years and continues to make headlines. Arnold also continues to perform stand up across the country.

Tom talks with us about growing up in Iowa and fighting bullies, the difficulties of working in Las Vegas, his enduring respect for Roseanne, and the way he's found satisfaction with his work.

The Outshot: MacGruber

Jesse heartily disagrees with A.O. Scott's review of the film version of MacGruber. In short: MacGruber exists, and the world is better for it.

Bullseye's Judge John Hodgman Special

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Bullseye

This week Bullseye with Jesse Thorn breaks format to bring you something from another great show on the Maximum Fun Network.


Judge John Hodgman

If you know John Hodgman , it's probably as The Deranged Millionaire on The Daily Show with Jon Stewart, his appearances on Red Oaks or maybe from his books of world knowledge. Or, maybe, as the PC from the Mac vs. PC ads. What you might not know is that he's also a fake judge on the internet.

On Judge John Hodgman, he hears disputes from real people all over the world via Skype and tells them who's right and who's wrong. Jesse Thorn is the bailiff. The two cases you’ll be hearing are slightly truncated versions. If you want to hear the full versions, click below.

Grand Theft Risotto

Mike brings the case against his mom, Maribeth. He says Maribeth knowingly took her daughter-in-law's recipes for a family cookbook and passed them off as her own. Maribeth says that the attribution was implied and there was no wrongdoing.

Assault and Hey Batter Battery

Naomi files suit against her husband, Spencer. She’s embarrassed by his loud and incessant heckling at baseball games. She’s frustrated that Spencer continues heckling at baseball games despite his promises that he’ll stop.

If you liked what you heard today, there are over 250 episodes of Judge John Hodgman ready and waiting for you, and a new one added each week! Click here to subscribe to the podcast in iTunes, or look for it in your favorite podcatcher.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Bill Withers & Joe Randazzo

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Bill Withers
Guests: 
Joe Randazzo

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.


Photo: Brad Barket/Getty Images

Bill Withers Returns: Music, Career Advice and Living Life on Your Own Terms

Bill Withers is a man who prefers his life and his music on his own terms. The Grammy award-winning singer-songwriter’s last album was released over thirty years ago, and he has no regrets about walking away from a career in music. His back catalog, which include classics like Ain’t No Sunshine, Grandma’s Hands and Lean on Me, is still as vibrant and influential as it was decades ago.
Bill Withers sits down with Jesse to talk about growing up in coal-mining town in West Virginia, why he didn’t dress-up on stage or dance like his contemporaries, and what his relationship to music is like now.


Photo:REP3.com

Joe Randazzo Explains How To Be Funny “Funny on Purpose”

Joe Randazzo knows funny. Starting with his career as section editor for The Onion and continuing with his role as head writer for @Midnight, he has enjoyed a diverse career that has allowed him access to some of the industry's best comedic talents.
He plumbed his own experiences, and that of many of his colleagues and extended network, for the advice he offers in his new book Funny On Purpose: The Definitive Guide to an Unpredictable Career in Comedy.
Randazzo interviewed writers, performers, directors and producers about how they each have managed to create comedy careers in television, film, podcasting and on YouTube. Interviews include conversations with Judd Apatow, Joan Rivers, Jack Handey and -- disclaimer -- our own podcast impresario Jesse Thorn.
Joe Randazzo joins us to discuss what he learned during his career as an editor at The Onion, his forays into stand-up and improv and why it’s essential to build and sustain relationships with other people in comedy (even if it feels like you're competing with them).
Randazzo’s book Funny On Purpose: The Definitive Guide to an Unpredictable Career in Comedy is available now.


Photo: Jeffrey Blitz

The Outshot: The Kid Spellers of 'Spellbound'

Jesse talks about his great American hero - a kid named Harry Altman from the Academy Award winning film, Spellbound.

Bullseye: Pedro Almodóvar and Alexis Krauss

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Pedro Almodóvar
Guests: 
Alexis Krauss

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.


Photo: Jesse Thorn

Pedro Almodóvar on his new film Julieta, Spain in the 1980’s, and why he never writes about himself

Pedro Almodóvar has been making art for almost 4 decades. Whether that be music, writing, or directing, he has a distinct, bold, and critically acclaimed vision to his art. Originally from a small rural town in Spain, Pedro moved to Madrid in his late teens to study film. His artistic endeavors flourished during the Spanish cultural revolution that followed Francos death in 1975. His first film of distinction was called Women on the Verge of a Nervous Breakdown, for which he was nominated for the 1988 Best Foreign Film Academy Award. Since then, he has won two Golden Globe and two Academy awards, among many others.

This week, Jesse sits down with Pedro to talk about his new dramatic endeavor Julieta, his new wave band, and his unseen ailment.

You can find more information about Julieta here.


Photo: Rob Kim/Getty Images

Alexis Krauss on the song that changed her life

Alexis Krauss, one half of the pop-metal band Sleigh Bells has been a musician her entire life. Both of her parents are musicians, and some of her earliest concerts were with her dad performing on the Jersey Shore.

This week, Alexis tells us what song changed her life in a way that only this mid-90’s female pop-rock recording artist could for a young budding musician. You probably oughta know.


Photo: A Prize Bull In A Barn by Richrd Whitford, 1875

The Outshot: 19th Century Paintings of Cows

Finally, Jesse tells it to you straight: he's fallen hard for 18th and 19th century paintings of cows, and you should too.

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