Bullseye with Jesse Thorn

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Chuck Klosterman

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Chuck Klosterman
Guests: 
Karina Longworth
Guests: 
Phillip Crandall

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Chuck Klosterman Explores Villainy with Kanye, Batman, LeBron: What Makes Someone a "Bad Guy"?

Chuck Klosterman has been thinking and writing about culture for over a decade. He's written several essay collections, nonfiction and novels, and for the past few years, he's written the weekly column as the "Ethicist" for the New York Times Magazine. In his newest book, he takes on, well… bad guys.

Klosterman looks at athletes, musicians, politicians, vigilantes and even fictional characters who have been framed as villains -- from Bill Clinton to Darth Vader to LeBron James -- and tries to deconstruct the stories we tell about them in I Wear the Black Hat: Grappling with Villains (Real and Imagined). The book is now available in paperback.

Klosterman tells us how we've got Machiavelli all wrong, why Batman works great as a fictional construct but fails as a real person, and why it's so easy to villainize professional athletes.

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Time Traveling Back to Early 80s Punk with 'Smithereens' and 'We Are the Best!'

Film critic Karina Longworth invites you to time travel back to the early 1980s to explore the punk rock dreams of young girls in Smithereens and We are the Best!.

She suggests checking out Smithereens from 1982, a kind of prequel to director Susan Seidelman's Desperately Seeking Susan, for the time capsule of 1980s fashions and New York City street scenes.

If you want a pure breath of fresh air and fun, go with 2013's We Are The Best!, a Danish-Swedish film from director Lukas Moodysson. An adaptation of a comic book authored by his wife Coco, the movie follows a crew of young girls in Stockholm who found respite from the cruelties of middle school in punk rock.

Longworth hosts the podcast You Must Remember This, which explores forgotten bits of Hollywood history.

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Hey You, Let's Party: Andrew WK and the Party Philosophy of "I Get Wet"

This week, Phillip Crandall takes on Andrew W.K.'s 2001 debut, I Get Wet. At the time of its release, the album got a lot of flack. A lot of people just weren't sure what to make of it. The cover art was a gory photo of Andrew with blood running down his face, the song titles and lyrics were absurdly simplistic. A critic at Pitchfork gave it the abysmal rating of 0.6 out of 10. Ten years later, Pitchfork reviewed the reissued record, and gave it an 8.6. What gives? Well, Crandall says the album has a purpose and a message that endures.

Phillip Crandall is the author of a critical analysis of I Get Wet for Bloomsbury's 33 1/3 series.

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The Outshot: Stuart Saves His Family and Drawing from the SNL Well

Lots of recurring characters and sketches from Saturday Night Live have spawned feature films. Some of them are great, and some don't hold up well for 90 minutes of screentime. Jesse takes a look at the Al Franken vehicle Stuart Saves His Family, because "I'm good enough, I'm smart enough, and doggone it, people like me!"

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: George Takei and Damian Abraham of ****ed Up

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
George Takei
Guests: 
Damian Abraham
Guests: 
Carolyn Kellogg

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.

If you're in Los Angeles, come hang with us at a cemetery this October. For real! It's how we're kicking off MaxFunWeek. Find details and ticket information here for our upcoming live show on 10/15 at Hollywood Forever's Masonic Lodge.

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What Is it Like "To Be Takei"? George Takei on Growing Up Japanese-American (and Gay), Acting Challenges and Yes, 'Star Trek'

Star Trek: The Original Series broke ground with its debut in 1966. The show had a multiethnic cast, and creator Gene Roddenberry tackled social issues in a futuristic setting. George Takei was an original castmember, and helped paved the way for Asian-American actors on television with his character Hikaru Sulu.

Takei went on to reprise his role in the animated Star Trek series and six Star Trek movies. He's also accumulated dozens of other acting and voiceover credits, from the 1956 Japanese monster movie Rodan, to The Simpsons, to Heroes.

But the new documentary To Be Takei goes beyond his acting career to show Takei's remarkable backstory and his positivity in the face of adversity. Before he even began kindergarten, he and his family were ordered at gunpoint to a U.S. internment camp for Japanese-Americans. In puberty, he realized that his emerging crushes were on boys, not girls. Takei chose to remain closeted for decades, to shelter his acting career from any fallout over his sexuality.

Takei spoke to us about his family's struggle to retain normalcy during and after their imprisonment in an American internment camp, starring in the Twilight Zone episode that America couldn't handle, and the impact that being gay has had on his personal and professional life. (Yes, there's a Star Trek question in there too.)

To Be Takei is now in theaters and available on VOD.

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Satisfying Thrills, Chills and Noir: Carolyn Kellogg on New Books

Los Angeles Times book critic Carolyn Kellogg stops by to talk about two innovative new books that should satisfy your need for thrills and chills, or noir-ish detectives and dames.

Her first recommendation is Broken Monsters, by Lauren Beukes, a supernatural detective story set in present-day Detroit.

She also suggests checking out Kill My Mother, by acclaimed cartoonist and writer Jules Feiffer. It's a graphic novel which gives a new twist on noir.

Carolyn Kellogg covers books for the Los Angeles Times. You can find her writing online in the Times' book blog, Jacket Copy or follow her on Twitter @paperhaus.

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"Music by Participation": Damian Abraham of ****ed Up on Finding Punk Rock

What happens when a hardcore band makes a rock opera, or quadruple tracks their drums, or writes a beautiful love song? Damian Abraham's band, ****ed Up, has done all of that and more. They started back in 2001, and have only gotten more ambitious over time.

Abraham, also known as Father Damian or Pink Eyes, got his first taste of punk rock as a fourteen-year-old, when the lead singer of the band he was seeing jumped off stage and tackled him and his friends. Abraham loved that punk wasn't "music by observation", it was "music by participation".

He talks to us about what it's like to have punk rock be your life and career, the circumstances that spurred his decision to drop his straightedge lifestyle, and the aesthetics of his music.

****ed Up's newest album is Glass Boys. The band will wrap up a string of U.S. tourdates shortly, and will tour Canada in September.

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The Outshot: 'Learned Pigs & Fireproof Women'

Jesse thinks you too might be charmed by magician Ricky Jay's history of Learned Pigs and Fireproof Women.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Ishmael Butler, Allison Janney & Michel Gondry

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Ishmael Butler
Guests: 
Allison Janney
Guests: 
Michel Gondry
Guests: 
Todd Martens

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.

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Ishmael Butler on the Short Life of Digable Planets and the Cosmic Hip Hop of Shabazz Palaces

In the early 1990s, the hip hop group Digable Planets broke through with their single "Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)". The single was jazzy and laid-back, and became a crossover hit. The trio were pegged by some as a counterpoint to gangsta rap, but they didn't love the efforts to categorize their sound. They went further on their next boundary-pushing release, the classic record Blowout Comb. The album was critically acclaimed, but didn't sell well, and the group drifted apart shortly afterward.

Founding member Ishmael Butler was only in his mid 20s when Digable Planets broke up. And so he tried other things, like filmmaking. He still made music, but the releases were few and far between. About five years ago, he teamed up with Tendai Maraire to form a new group called Shabazz Palaces.

Shabazz Palaces' new release is called Lese Majesty, and it expands on their interstellar sound.

Butler spoke to us about his days as a indie label gopher, the awkward audition Digable Planets had to endure for a record company executive, and the the transformative sounds of Shabazz Palaces.

Todd Martens Recommends Pop-Punk and Garage Rock: the Muffs and Twin Peaks

Is there still good pop-punk out there? What's the musical equivalent of a drunk text? Music critic Todd Martens of the Los Angeles Times stops by to answer both of those questions!

He recommends a listen to two new albums: the Muffs' first release in ten years, Whoop Dee Doo, and a new record from Chicago garage rockers Twin Peaks called Wild Onion.

You can find Todd's writing in the LA Times and on their blog, Pop and Hiss.


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"The Song That Changed my Life": Director Michel Gondry Gets Nostalgic for "Le Sud" by Nico Ferrer

There's a certain kind of feeling to the director Michel Gondry's films. A little bit of happiness mixed with sadness. Nostalgia for something that you experienced, or maybe something you wish you had experienced. You may have felt it watching Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Science of Sleep, or his new film Mood Indigo.

For "The Song That Changed My Life", Gondry describes the feeling of saudade and how he felt watching Nico Ferrer perform the song "Le Sud" on a Saturday night.

Gondry's new film Mood Indigo is a fantastical story of love and loss, starring Audrey Tatou and Romain Duris. You can find it in theaters now.

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Allison Janney, from Loose Cannon Sitcom 'Mom' to Intimate Drama in 'Masters of Sex'

If you've seen Allison Janney on television lately, it's been in one of two very different roles. On the Showtime series Masters of Sex, Janney guest stars as a somewhat naive, vulnerable 1950s housewife who experiences a breakthrough after many years in a sexless (but not loveless) marriage. Her story is both heartbreaking and hopeful. In the CBS sitcom Mom, she plays Bonnie, a recovering alcoholic who's outrageous, biting, and very funny. Bonnie's been down, but she's making peace with her estranged daughter and getting her life back together. Janney's characterizations are versatile; they allow her to be warm, steely, confident, and thin-skinned by turns. Janney is currently nominated for Emmys for both roles; 'Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama' for Masters of Sex, and 'Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy' for Mom.

She spoke to us about her early acting days (including auditioning for an intimidatingly handsome Paul Newman), getting comfortable with the inevitable nude scenes for Masters of Sex, and the ways that her mom's background and brother's struggle with addiction gave her insight and empathy for her current roles.

The Outshot: Orson Welles and 'Touch of Evil'

Jesse explains why the last Hollywood picture Orson Welles directed, Touch of Evil, tells us so much about Welles as an artist.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Judy Greer, Richard Ayoade, Nick Stoller

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Judy Greer
Guests: 
Richard Ayoade
Guests: 
Nick Stoller
Guests: 
Todd Martens

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.

And if you're looking for a particular segment to listen to or share, check us out on Soundcloud.

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Judy Greer on Always Being the Co-Star and Midwestern Modesty

Judy Greer engages in fan-profiling. It sounds kind of sketchy, but before you get upset -- know that it's nothing bad. It's just a useful tool. Strangers stop her in the street, or at the airport, or in coffee shops all the time. It's always a variation on the same question... "What do I know you from?" And they won't let her go until she can help them solve the riddle.

She's an actress, so they probably know her from one of her many roles as "the best friend", in a movie like The Wedding Planner or Thirteen Going on Thirty. Or maybe they recognize her from her role as the slightly unhinged secretary Kitty Sanchez in Arrested Development. It could be any number of things, since Greer has almost a hundred credits on her IMDb page.

She rarely plays the lead, however, and so people often don't know her name.

Greer joins us this week to talk about love for the animated series Archer, the modest Midwestern roots that never allow her to turn down a role, and the freedom she finds in not being the leading lady -- and of course, she'll fan-profile our host, Jesse. Her new book, I Don't Know What You Know Me From: Confessions of a Co-Star is available now. You can also catch her in one of our favorite series, Archer, on FX, or on her new sitcom Married this July.

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Todd Martens on New Music: Le Butcherettes and Wye Oak

It's time to get out of your winter music rut and spring into something new! Music critic Todd Martens of the Los Angeles Times joins us this week to introduce us to some of his own current favorites.

His first recommendation is Le Butcherettes' new album Cry is for the Flies which has a feral, guitar-driven, riot-girl feel.

He also suggests checking out Shriek, the new album from Wye Oak, which uses synthy sounds to give an ethereal, reflective feeling.

You can find Martens' writing in the LA Times or on their music blog, Pop and Hiss.

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I Wish I'd Made That: Nick Stoller Talks About 'Children of Men'

We often talk to artists about their influences -- the movies, music, and art that inspired them creatively. Some of that stuff is so good and so perfect that they sometimes wish they’d made it themselves.
This segment is about just those kind of things. It's called "I Wish I'd Made That."

This week, we talk to Nick Stoller. He's the director of the new Seth Rogen comedy Neighbors. But the thing he wishes he'd made isn't a comedy. It's a well-crafted science fiction movie that had him sitting in shocked silence -- Alfonso Cuaron's Children of Men.

Neighbors is now in theaters nationwide.

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'The Double' Director Richard Ayoade: Dealing with Public Persona, Identity, and Viewing Your Own Work

If you know the English actor and comedian Richard Ayoade by sight, it's probably from his role as IT worker Maurice Moss in the English sitcom The IT Crowd. Or maybe you've even seen him alongside American movie stars like Ben Stiller and Vince Vaughn in The Watch.

He's got a very precise and funny presence on-screen, but he's most comfortable behind the camera. He co-created and directed the perfectly stilted and styled horror-slash-medical drama Garth Marenghi's Darkplace, and he's also directed two feature films. The first, 2011's Submarine, is a coming-of-age movie about a teenager's solipsism and romantic obsessions. His new film, The Double, is a comedic drama, and an exploration of the self and identity based on a Fyodor Dostoyevsky novel of the same name.

'The Double' is about a lonely, unremarkable government clerk named Simon, played by Jesse Eisenberg, whose life is slowly usurped when James, a new employee, shows up -- also played by Jesse Eisenberg. James is a physical double of Simon. Personality-wise, though, they’re the opposite. James is self-assured and charismatic, everything Simon wishes he could be, but isn't.

Ayoade joins us this week to talk about working with Jesse Eisenberg, forming identity, and why it's hard to sit back and enjoy his own work.

The Double is in theaters and available on VOD now.

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The Outshot: Bill Murray's oft-forgotten 90s flick 'Quick Change'

People often talk about two phases of Bill Murray's career. Think of Caddyshack and Ghostbusters in the 80s. Then, Lost In Translation and Broken Flowers in the 2000s. But there’s an oft-overlooked Bill Murray movie that was released in 1990; and you’ve got to watch it.

Jesse shares his love for the only movie Bill Murray has ever directed -- Quick Change.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Jim Rash, Bob Saget, Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Jessica St. Clair
Guests: 
Lennon Parham
Guests: 
Jim Rash
Guests: 
Bob Saget
Guests: 
Mark Frauenfelder

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.

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Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham of Playing House: Improv in the Writers' Room, Showing Real Friendships on TV, and 'Girl Porn'

Jessica St. Clair and Lennon Parham play best friends on TV, and if their on-screen chemistry seems real, it is. They met doing improv comedy at the Upright Citizens Brigade Theatre, and have been writing partners ever since. They co-created and star in Playing House, a new comedy about female friendship that's more reminiscent of Lucy and Ethel than it is Carrie Bradshaw's gang.

Playing House follows Emma and Maggie, two women who have been friends forever. Maggie stayed in their hometown, got married, and is expecting a baby. Emma has been professionally ambitious, closing business deals in Shanghai, and hasn't been back to visit for what must be years.

Parham and St. Clair join us to talk about the marathon improv sessions that produce the show's jokes, the designer home "girl porn" that provides contrast to their characters' weirdness, and their real-life friendship.

Playing House airs on the USA network Tuesday nights at 10/9c.

Bonus audio: Parham and St. Clair talk about their beginnings at the UCB.

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Boing Boing's Mark Frauenfelder Recommends: Zombie Dice and Hitman Go

Whether you're looking to zombie-fy yourself, or get absorbed into the world of a contract killer, Boing Boing's Mark Frauenfelder's got just the game for you. He's the host of the Gweek podcast, and he drops by to suggest a couple of his favorite new games. He recommends checking out the multi-player Zombie Dice to collect brains and avoid shotgun blasts to the head. If you prefer a game you can play solo, he suggests the strategy-based (and bloodless) game for iOS, Hitman Go.

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The Part: Bob Saget on 'Full House'

When Bob Saget was in his twenties, he had a lot of plates spinning. He tried film school (and dropped out after just a few days). He performed stand up. He warmed up sitcom audiences. He appeared in a Richard Pryor movie. He even worked for a few months as a morning talk show host, before he was told he was "too hot for TV."

But the part that changed everything wasn't controversial, or crazy. It was playing the straight man, on a sitcom aimed at families.

And despite the schmaltzy moments and broad jokes aimed at kids, Saget is proud of his role as widower and family man Danny Tanner on Full House. He'll tell us why.

Saget's new memoir is Dirty Daddy: The Chronicles of a Family Man Turned Filthy Comedian. It's very personal and sweet and also sometimes vulgar, which is pretty much exactly what you might expect. He's also touring his new stand up show. You can find details on his website.

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Jim Rash on Being "TV Ugly", Awkward Dad Talks, and Writing with Nat Faxon

Jim Rash has a lot of irons in the fire. He's a regular on NBC's Community and hosts the Sundance Channel series The Writers' Room. When Rash isn't on-screen, he's writing and directing. With his writing partner Nat Faxon, he wrote the Oscar-winning screenplay for The Descendants. The pair also wrote and directed last year's coming-of-age comedy The Way, Way Back, which drew on some of Rash's childhood experiences.

Rash joins us this week to talk about the awkward-yet-motivational summer talks he had with his dad and stepdad as a teenager, exploring writing techniques with TV showrunners on The Writers' Room, and writing for Community during Dan Harmon's absence.

Community airs Thursday nights at 8/7c on NBC.
The Writers' Room airs Friday nights at 9/8c on on the Sundance Channel.

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The Outshot: Wet Hot American Summer

Wanna be pals with Jesse? Here's the litmus test.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Bootsy Collins, Oliver Wang on Al Green

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Looking for information on this week's episode of Bullseye?

Ahh...The Name Is Bootsy, Baby! Bootsy Collins Pushes James Brown's Buttons and Gets Wild with George Clinton's P-Funk

Bootsy Collins is a legend in the world of funk. He's a bassist who came to his instrument by happenstance and fell in love. He was only in his teens when he was discovered and hired by the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, to be part of his backing band, The J.B.'s. Bootsy went on to play with another notoriously inventive and pioneering funk artist, George Clinton, as part of Funkadelic and Parliament.

He continued the funk with Bootsy's Rubber Band and a number of other musical collaborations. His most recent album is Tha Funk Capitol Of The World, and he currently teaches bass at his own Funk University. He's also playing a couple of festivals this spring and summer.

Bootsy talks to us about being on the forefront of funk, playing with James Brown, doing LSD on stage, quitting and/or being fired from The JB's, pushing the boundaries of black popular music with George Clinton, and his own amazing solo career.

He and Jesse spoke in 2011. Find an extended version of that original conversation here.

The Dissolve Talks about All-Time Favorite Movies: "Real Life" and "To Be or Not to Be"

This week, a look back at some all-time favorite movies from our pals at The Dissolve. Staff writer Nathan Rabin and Editorial Director Keith Phipps join us to talk about some of their all-time favorite films.

Nathan recommends Albert Brooks' 1979 satire Real Life, a prescient look at documenting "real life" in pre-reality television times.

Keith recommends the 1942 Ernst Lubitch classic To Be or Not to Be (Criterion Collection), starring Jack Benny and Carole Lombard.

Canonball with Oliver Wang: Al Green’s I’m Still In Love With You

In Canonball, we take a flying leap into the canon of popular music. We're joined by professor and music writer Oliver Wang to talk about an Al Green album that deserves your attention. No... it's not Green's chart-topper, Let's Stay Together. Wang says that it was Al Green's followup to that album that really rattled him to his core.

Wang talks to us about 1973's I'm Still in Love with You, the record that created a new kind of soul music. Green's beautiful, if flawed voice, was merged with Willie Mitchell's innovative rhythm section and a new sound emerged.

You can find Oliver Wang's thoughts on soul rarities and more on his blog, Soul Sides.

The Outshot: Orson Welles's F for Fake

Jesse recommends Orson Welles' final masterwork, F for Fake. Part documentary, part film essay, it features tricks and truths layered atop each other, creating a mesmerizing narrative.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: George Saunders and Maria Bamford

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
George Saunders
Guests: 
Maria Bamford

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Comics Recommendations: Hawkeye and Don't Go Where I Can't Follow

Brian Heater and Alex Zalben join us this week to share some comics picks. Alex suggests you check out Matt Fraction’s Hawkeye, Vol. 1: My Life as a Weapon, a superhero comic about everyday stuff -- like attending a BBQ. Brian recommends Anders Nilsen's Don't Go Where I Can't Follow, a very moving pastiche of a couple's relationship.

Brian Heater curates Boing Boing’s comics column, and Alex Zalben writes about comics for MTV Geek.

Share Alex and Brian's Comics Picks

George Saunders on Creative Challenge and Financial Pressure

George Saunders could have been a geophysicist. In fact, he was one. He graduated from the Colorado School of Mines and worked in the oil fields of Sumatra. He came to fiction writing a little later in life, attending Syracuse University's creative writing program (where he now teaches).

Saunders is now well-recognized as one of the greatest short story writers and satirists of our time. He's been awarded a MacArthur "Genius" grant and a Guggenheim Fellowship, along with piles of literary accolades for his collections, which include Pastoralia and CivilWarLand in Bad Decline. His stories often explore a world much like our own, just slightly more grotesque -- societies that are terrifying and recognizable. His writing is incisive, sad, and also really funny. His new collection, Tenth of December, is out now.

Saunders talks to us about how people interpret luck and what they do with it, drawing inspiration from a disturbing dream, and unyielding financial pressure (the kind that doesn't even lift when you win a major award).

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Maria Bamford: Comedy's Orchid

Maria Bamford's comedy is weird and wonderfully distinctive. She's just released a new special, recorded at her home, where she performs a stand up set with breaks "off-stage" to take cookies out of the oven and administer medicine to her pet pug. Her comedy takes on a number of difficult issues, ones that are personal to her -- mental illness, suicidal thoughts, or tough family dynamics (she describes her family's favorite pastime as "Joy Whack-a-Mole"). But she doesn't use humor as a shield. She uses it to confront an issue, point-blank.

Bamford talks to us about why she chose to perform a special in front of her parents, processing awful experiences or feelings into jokes, and why she describes herself as "the orchid of comedy".

The Special Special Special is available now. Her new Comedy Central CD / DVD special, Ask Me About My New God, is due out later this year.

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The Outshot: William Carlos Williams' "Danse Russe"

Jesse ruminates on alone time and... William Carlos Williams' "Danse Russe".

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Jeff Bridges, Bernie Glassman, H. Jon Benjamin and Mike Wiebe

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Bullseye
Guests: 
Jeff Bridges
Guests: 
Bernie Glassman
Guests: 
H. Jon Benjamin
Guests: 
Mike Wiebe
Guests: 
Marah Eakin
Guests: 
Nathan Rabin

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!

And if you're in the San Francisco Bay area this weekend, come join us at a live taping of Bullseye at the Punchline Comedy Club as part of SF Sketchfest. We'll talk to 99% Invisible host Roman Mars, The Coup's MC Boots Riley, and more. Find tickets and more details here!

The AV Club Recommends: The Imposter and Frightened Rabbit's Pedestrian Verse

The AV Club's Head Writer Nathan Rabin and Music Editor Marah Eakin join us to share some favorite new releases.

Nathan recommends the new DVD release of the documentary film The Imposter: the gripping story of a man who impersonates a family's long-lost son. Marah suggests a listen to the new collaborative album by the Scottish indie band Frightened Rabbit, called Pedestrian Verse.

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Jeff Bridges and Bernie Glassman on Channeling the Zen of "The Dude"

Maybe you've seen the cult film The Big Lebowski. Maybe you've seen it more than once. The movie lends itself to repeat viewings: it's chock-full of amazing and delirious visuals and wickedly funny and quotable dialogue. But what kind of wisdom can one gain from The Dude, the film's chilled-out slacker hero who's trying simply to "abide"? Maybe the key to living a more Zen life?

The Dude himself, Oscar-winning actor Jeff Bridges, and the renowned buddhist teacher and social activist Roshi Bernie Glassman join us to talk about following The Dude's example, loving, living life and some of the other philosophical riffing from their new book, The Dude and the Zen Master.

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Getting "Faster and Louder" with The Dictators: Mike Wiebe on The Song That Changed My Life

Mike Wiebe, vocalist for the punk band The Riverboat Gamblers, reveals the song that changed his life: The Dictators' "Faster and Louder", from 1978's Bloodbrothers. The song showed Wiebe that goofiness and edge weren't mutually exclusive, and inspired the Gamblers' beginnings.

The Riverboat Gamblers have honed their brand of melodic punk rock over the past fifteen years. Last year saw the release of their sixth full-length album, The Wolf You Feed. The band kicks off a European tour this spring.

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H. Jon Benjamin on Archer, Bob's Burgers and an Unlikely Career in Voice Acting

H. Jon Benjamin is a writer, comedian and a prolific voice actor, but he's not exactly the man of a million voices. In fact, he's really the man of one voice, which depending on the setting could be the shiftless son on Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist, the misanthropic dad of Fox's Bob's Burgers, or a self-involved secret agent on FX's Archer. Benjamin has appeared in his own physical form on shows like Parks and Recreation, and in 2011 created and starred in the Comedy Central series Jon Benjamin Has a Van.

Benjamin talks to us about and how his career in comedy and voice acting came together, the humble beginnings of the beloved animated series Dr. Katz, Professional Therapist, and the perks inherent in voicing the super-spy and super-jerk Sterling Archer.

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The Outshot: Huell Howser and "California's Gold"

This week, Jesse pays tribute to the documentarian Huell Howser -- a California transplant with a Tennessee drawl and perpetual and infectious sense of wonder.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Ice-T, Greta Gerwig, Aaron Freeman, and Comics

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Ice-T
Guests: 
Greta Gerwig
Guests: 
Aaron Freeman
Guests: 
Alex Zalben
Guests: 
Brian Heater


Comics with Brian and Alex

Brian Heater and Alex Zalben join us this week to share some great comics. Brian recommends Skyscrapers Of The Midwest by Joshua Cotter, a beautifully illustrated story of growing up and imagination. Alex suggests Box Office Poison by Alex Robinson, an exploration of young adults living in New York in the 90s, informed by the author’s life experiences.

Brian Heater curates Boing Boing’s monthly comics round-up, Comics Rack. You can also find his work on Engadget. Alex Zalben covers comics for MTV Geek and hosts Comic Book Club Live in New York City.

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Rapper, Actor and Director Ice-T on Something From Nothing: The Art of Rap

Ice-T is a rapper and actor with more than ten albums and nearly eighty acting credits to his name. He's also one of the forefathers of west coast hip-hop. He's added "filmmaker" to an already diverse resume with his directorial debut: the hip hop documentary Something from Nothing: The Art of Rap. The film is now available on DVD and VOD.

Ice sits down with us to talk about his desire to bring an artful appreciation to hip hop's origins and about going through his phone book to sit down with friends to discuss the craft. He'll also answer that lingering question: did he ghostwrite for an 80s rap album by Mister T? This interview originally aired June 12, 2012.

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Aaron Freeman: The Song That Changed My Life

For much of his musical career, Aaron Freeman might have been better known to you as Gene Ween, guitarist and co-founder of the experimental rock band Ween.

In May, Freeman released his first solo record, Marvelous Clouds, a collection of covers of songs by 60s poet/songwriter Rod McKuen. Earlier this year, Freeman announced he was retiring the Gene Ween persona for good. This week he tells us about the song that changed his life: Bob Marley's "No Woman, No Cry". This interview originally aired June 12, 2012.

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Actress Greta Gerwig

Greta Gerwig is an actress and filmmaker, whose starring role in the 2007 comedy Hannah Takes the Stairs put her right at the heart of the mumblecore movement. She's since gone on to leading roles in bigger indies alongside Ben Stiller in Greenberg, as well as major motion pictures like Arthur, opposite Russell Brand. The indie darling has had a particularly prominent year in 2012, with starring roles in Damsels in Distress, Lola Versus, and Woody Allen's To Rome with Love. All are available now on DVD.

Greta joins us to discuss her artistic upbringing in Sacramento (complete with dreams of being a ballerina) and her meteoric and slightly serendipitous rise as an actress. This interview originally aired June 12, 2012.

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The Outshot: History of the World, Part I

On this week's Outshot, Jesse misses the old days of pure wacky comedy insanity exemplified by the unfiltered goofiness of Mel Brooks' History of the World, Part I. This segment originally aired June 12, 2012.

Is there a film that never fails to make you laugh like a mad man? Share the laughs on the MaxFun Forum by picking your own Outshot.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Syl Johnson, Gillian Flynn, and Matt Berninger

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Syl Johnson
Guests: 
Gillian Flynn
Guests: 
Matt Berninger
Guests: 
Tasha Robinson
Guests: 
Scott Tobias

We're joined again this week by guest co-host Julie Klausner.


The AV Club Recommends: The Fantastical Thoughts of Jim Henson and a New Take on Wuthering Heights

Associate National Editor Tasha Robinson and Film Editor Scott Tobias of the AV Club recommend Imagination Illustrated, which journals the various creative efforts of Jim Henson, and a modern, dark adaptation of Wuthering Heights.

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The Enigmatic, Grammy-Nominated Syl Johnson

Inspired by the sounds of Jackie Wilson, Little Walter, and Muddy Waters, Syl Johnson set out to make his own mark in music in the 1950s. His own gritty, bluesy voice and funk rhythms earned him a place in the Chicago soul and blues scene. Over the course of a career on Chicago's Twinight and Memphis' Hi Records, Johnson released several singles that climbed their way up the pop and R&B charts ("Different Strokes", "Come On Sock It To Me", "Is It Because I'm Black?") and but never attained the smash success of contemporaries like Al Green or James Brown.

He found ubiquity later in life, when dozens of hip hop artists from Run-DMC to Kanye West dug into his catalog to sample his sounds (perhaps foremost his signature scream on "Different Strokes"). Johnson found himself in the spotlight again last year when the archival label Numero Group assembled a Grammy-nominated boxset of his early cuts, titled Syl Johnson: The Mythology.

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Matt Berninger: The Song that Changed My Life

Matt Berninger, lead singer of The National, recalls being pelted by golf balls and listening to the song which changed his life, The Boy with a Thorn in His Side by The Smiths.

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Gillian Flynn on the Damaged Psyches in Gone Girl

Armed with childhood memories of watching Psycho and Alien and an insatiable appetite for true crime stories, Gillian Flynn began writing her first thriller, Sharp Objects. The book's success took Flynn from magazine journalist to full-time author. Her newest book, the bestselling Gone Girl, is a twisted and wry look at a marriage gone horribly wrong.

Flynn offers insights on the twisted and damaged psyches of her characters, cherishing the unease that comes with following an unreliable narrator, and how she combats the trope of the female victim.

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The Outshot: Key & Peele

This week, Jesse lauds the commitment and direction of Key & Peele's sketch comedy.

For more, check out our interview with Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele from earlier this year.

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What’s your favorite sketch comedy show? Jump over to the MaxFun forum and pick your own Outshot.

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