Bullseye

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Bill Withers

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Bill Withers
Guests: 
Ian Cohen
Guests: 
Davy Rothbart
Guests: 
Brad Tolinski

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Soul Legend Bill Withers Talks about Dignity, The Music Industry, and Striving to Be a "Complete Human Being"

The singer/songwriter and soul music legend Bill Withers may have written some of the most memorable songs of the past half century, but his person doesn't loom large in the public eye. He wasn't eaten up by fame, and he didn't disappear and try to claw his way back. He just walked away from the music industry, for the most part, making the decision to live life on his own terms.

With no formal songwriting training (he enlisted in the Navy at 17, and then worked as an aircraft engineer), Withers rose to fame with his first album Just As I Am, recorded in his thirties. The album, produced by Booker T. Jones, showed an already fully-formed talent with “Ain’t No Sunshine” and “Grandma’s Hands.” Since then, more of Withers' hits, like “Lovely Day,” “Just the Two of Us,” and “Lean on Me” have endured the test of time.

Jesse sat down with the music legend in 2009 to talk about his life and career, around the time that the documentary Soul Power was released. Withers discusses his roots in a coal mining town, enlisting in the Navy, and why he was able to start a music career later in life.

Withers also opens up about his decision to stop performing, his gratitude for the fame when it came to him, and why he continues striving to be “a complete human being.”

Related interviews:
Booker T. Jones

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Pitchfork's Ian Cohen on his Favorite Heavy Rock

Ian Cohen, contributing editor at Pitchfork, stops by to recommend some of his all-time favorite heavy rock releases.

He tells us about an album which (in a move unusual for its genre) has an entirely pink cover. Deafheaven’s newest album, Sunbather, has been well-received and is on its way to becoming “an absolute landmark.”

In addition, Ian recommends the most recent Swans album,The Seer. In a bold creative move, the band creates a title track well over thirty minutes long.

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Davy Rothbart’s Lost and “Found”

Davy Rothbart, editor and publisher of FOUND Magazine, shares some of his favorite "finds".

FOUND collects notes, photos, to-do lists, love letters, and other ephemera (basically society’s flotsam and jetsam). The 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.

Rothbart's new documentary Medora, about a small-town Indiana basketball team, opens in New York City and Los Angeles on November 8.

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Canonball: Remembering When Rock Got Weird, with Led Zeppelin's "III"

With Canonball, we take a flying leap into the canon of popular music to find albums that deserve a closer look.

This week, we’re joined by Brad Tolinski, editor-in-chief of Guitar World and author of Light and Shade: Conversations with Jimmy Page.

He tells us why we should take another listen at Led Zeppelin III, the band’s third album, which took a strange turn on its unforgettable first track (“Immigrant Song”) and tapped into the zeitgeist of its time with the bold tracks that followed.

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The Outshot: The Cane

Ideally, the cold open on a sitcom (the segment right before the opening credits) should be a self-contained nugget of comedy perfection. This week, Jesse recommends one of his favorites with NewsRadio’s “The Cane,” featuring the comedic talents of the bombastic Phil Hartman and the ultimate straight man, Dave Foley.

After all, it’s just like that old saying: “Everybody loves a cane.”

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Nick Offerman, The Birthday Boys, Brandon Bird

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Nick Offerman
Guests: 
The Birthday Boys
Guests: 
Brandon Bird
Guests: 
Linda Holmes
Guests: 
Glen Weldon

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Nick Offerman Talks Mustaches, Woodworking, and Luck

Nick Offerman is a man accustomed to being recognized. As Ron Swanson on Parks and Recreation, he sports one of the most revered moustaches in recent television history.

It would be easy to conflate Offerman with Swanson. They’re both masculine, moustachioed men with a penchant for carpentry, but Offerman is quick to distinguish himself from his civil servant counterpart. He credits the writers of the show for giving Swanson possession of larger-than-life quirks, such as the ability to ingest mountains of bacon or guzzle moonshine by the jug. Offerman, however, has a much more relatable story to tell.

He grew up in small town Illinois and studied theatre in college before performing in several Chicago-based theatre and improv companies. He joins us to talk about his rural roots, why woodworking has remained an important part of his life (and not an affectation), and the public perception of Ron Swanson as the personification of manliness.

Nick Offerman's new book of essays is Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man's Fundamentals for Delicious Living. You can also catch him on the sixth season of Parks and Recreation, airing now.

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Pop Culture Happy Hour Talks Movies and Comics

Linda Holmes and Glen Weldon of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour stop by to recommend a couple of their current favorite things.

Linda recommends 12 Years a Slave, a film about the true story of a free black man kidnapped and sold into slavery. The film, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and directed by Steve McQueen, tells the story of a man thrust into a life of injustice he doesn’t deserve. And as Linda explains, it's more than just an "important" movie.

The movie is in theaters on October 18.

Glen recommends the new comic Sex Criminals, written by Matt Fraction with art by Chip Zdasky. It may have a racy title but, at its heart, it’s the classic coming of age story about a girl who discovers that by doing the deed, she can stop time.

You can hear Glen and Linda weekly on the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast, and find Linda's writing on NPR's Monkey See blog.

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Brandon Bird's "Lazy Sunday Afternoon"

Brandon Bird on Painting, Mr. T and Learning How to Make Art

Brandon Bird is a painter, but the purpose of his work isn't to capture the light dancing across a lake. Or to make a broad point about society. The point of his art is to make people laugh.

Brandon tells us about the day he became an artist, and how he went from making fan art to creating something really special.

His new activity book, Brandon Bird's Astonishing World of Art, includes Law and Order SVU valentines, a page where you can draw Nicolas Cage a new hairstyle, and a painting of Peter Dinklage as Wolverine (among many other things).

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Comedy Sketch Group The Birthday Boys Asks: "What if Seven Morons Were Doing That Thing?"

The Birthday Boys' work is silly. Really silly. They're a group of seven comedians, and their sketch comedy is warm, almost never obscene or profane, sort of uniquely American. Not too long ago, they caught the eye of comedy superstar and Mr. Show co-creator Bob Odenkirk. He's now the executive producer, cast member and an addition to the writer's room on their new television show for IFC.

Group members Jeff Dutton, Tim Kalpakis and Chris VanArtsdalen join us to talk about why they commit to the silliness, what makes a good sketch and how one of their idols became creatively involved in their first TV series.

The Birthday Boys premieres on October 18 on IFC.

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The Outshot: Michael Palin

You probably know him from hamming it up for Monty Python in the ‘70s, but since then Michael Palin has released a steady stream of travel documentaries. Jesse talks about Michael Palin and why he’s everything good about British colonialism.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Nicole Holofcener, Brad Bell, Jane Espenson

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Nicole Holofcener
Guests: 
Brad Bell
Guests: 
Jane Espenson
Guests: 
Erik Adams

“Human Behavior is Entertaining”: Writer and Director Nicole Holofcener on Enough Said and Creating Realistic Film

The writer and director Nicole Holofcener projects are specific, personal and character-driven, and always feature strong female leads. Her fifth feature film, Enough Said, is no exception and stars Julia Louis-Dreyfus, Catherine Keener and the late James Gandolfini in one of his final film roles.

Holofcener's films (which include Lovely and Amazing and Friends with Money) show characters as real people: self-interested, jealous, regretful, loving, but not always likable. Enough Said was purposefully designed to be a more mainstream film than Holofcener's earlier work, but it packs no less of an emotional punch. The movie is about two divorcees, both with teenage daughters, who are facing loneliness and the fraught relationships with and memories of exes.

Holofcener sat down with us recently to talk about divorce, perceptions about men and women as funny people, and how hard it is to make friends as an adult.

Enough Said is now in theaters nationwide.

Related:
Julia Louis-Dreyfus

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The AV Club's Erik Adams Makes the Case for Fall TV: "Trophy Wife" and "China, IL"

The AV Club's Associate Editor Erik Adams knows that, just as a book shouldn't be judged by its cover, a television show shouldn't be judged by its title. His picks for shows to give a chance this fall are Trophy Wife and China, IL.

Both shows have an impressive acting pedigree, whether it's Trophy Wife's Bradley Whitford, Marcia Gay Harden, and Malin Akerman (as the show's titular spouse) or China, IL's Greta Gerwig and the incomparable Hulk Hogan.

Trophy Wife airs Tuesday nights at 9:30/8:30c on ABC.
The second season of China, IL airs Sundays on Cartoon Network's [adult swim].

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Brad Bell and Jane Espenson on Gay Marriage, Crowdfunding and Creating "Husbands"

A few years ago, the TV writer Jane Espenson was browsing YouTube when she came across a video she loved. It was recorded with a webcam and was a response to Carrie Prejean, a contestant in the Miss USA pageant who gave a particularly inarticulate answer to a judge's question about gay marriage. The video was from "Cheeks", the alter-ego of Brad Bell, and it was the thing that sparked a partnership between Bell and Espenson and a web series called Husbands.

Bell co-created the show with Espenson, a former writer and producer for Buffy the Vampire Slayer and Caprica. Husbands follows two gay men who get married in Las Vegas on a whim – and stay married to avoid damaging the argument for marriage equality.

Bell and Espenson talked to us about dealing with the stereotypes of gay men and their relationships, their writing partnership, and why and how to make crowdfunding work.

New episodes of season three of Husbands arrive Thursdays on CWSeed.

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The Outshot: The Spirit of Sir John Soane

Sir John Soane was an important 18th century English architect, but that's not really why Jesse is so taken with his house. It's an incredible physical legacy of a man and his many interests.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Junot Diaz, Carrie Fisher, and My Brother, My Brother and Me

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Junot Diaz
Guests: 
Carrie Fisher
Guests: 
Griffin McElroy
Guests: 
Travis McElroy
Guests: 
Justin McElroy

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Junot Diaz on Immigration, A Love of Books, and Why His Writing Isn't "Sexist Claptrap"

Junot Diaz was already a rising star when his first novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, was published in 2007 and subsequently won the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction. His short stories had netted him attention, acclaim, and a published collection of short fiction, Drown.

He's continued to accrue major literary awards and recently received a Genius Grant from the Macarthur Foundation, which noted his use of "raw, vernacular dialogue and spare, unsentimental prose to draw readers into the various and distinct worlds that immigrants must straddle.”

There have been a number of constants throughout Junot's career. He's continued to write fiction about the immigrant experience, specifically from a Dominican-American perspective. And he's returned again and again to the character of Yunior de Las Casas. Like Junot, Yunior was born in the Dominican Republic and was transplanted with his family to New Jersey in the dead of winter. Like Junot, Yunior is intelligent and over-educated, an academic who lives in Cambridge. Like Junot, Yunior grew up with Dominican women who wanted to get the hell out of Dodge, who would do better not to mess with him (or any dude).

That is to say -- Yunior is a well-developed character by now. In his book This Is How You Lose Her, now in paperback, Junot explores Yunior's issues with intimacy and the psyche of a cheater. The reader roots for Yunior to find love, even as they wince, watching him sabotage one relationship after another.

Junot joins us this week to talk about the immigrant experience, accusations of sexism, and the soundtrack that kept him writing through many late nights.

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Ian Cohen Recommends Heavy Rock for October

Ian Cohen, contributing editor at Pitchfork, stops by to recommend some new heavy rock releases.

He recommends an album that "finds people at the edge of both pop and metal", the new release Everyday I Get Closer to the Light From Which I Came from the solo project Jesu.

Ian also suggests checking out the Tim Hecker's upcoming release, Virgins, an ambient album that doesn't fade into the background.

Jesu's Everyday I Get Closer to the Light from Which I Came is out now via Avalanche.
Tim Hecker's Virgins is out October 14 via kranky records.

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Pop Culture Advice from My Brother, My Brother and Me: Water Cooler Talk, Comic Book Movies, and Vinyl Snobbery

Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy and Griffin McElroy return to Bullseye to answer some of your most pressing pop culture problems and end up taking on Duck Dynasty, James and the Giant Peach, Lionel Richie, grandparents and more.

If you've still got questions that need anwers, the McElroy brothers host a weekly advice show for the modern era called My Brother, My Brother, and Me. You can subscribe wherever you download podcasts, and send your queries to mbmbam@maximumfun.org.

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Carrie Fisher on Growing Up Famous, Star Wars, and Shock Therapy

Carrie Fisher is best known for her role as Princess Leia in the seminal Star Wars films, but she began her celebrity life as a baby -- as the daughter of America's sweethearts, the actress Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher.

Carrie has battled addiction, bipolar disorder and the ups and downs of celebrity to reinvent herself as a successful novelist and memoirist. Her book Shockaholic recalls her relationships with Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, and her parents, self-medication with drugs, and the last resort of electroconvulsive therapy.

Today, we're revisiting our conversation with Carrie Fisher from 2011. Her book Shockaholic is available now in paperback.

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The Outshot: Bubba Sparxxx

So maybe The Accidental Racist didn't go over so hot. But this week, Jesse will tell you about a record that actually mixed country and hip-hop to the benefit of both. It's Bubba Sparxxx's 2003 release, Deliverance.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Kumail Nanjiani, Lake Bell and Sergio Dias

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Kumail Nanjiani
Guests: 
Lake Bell
Guests: 
Sergio Dias
Guests: 
Andrew Noz

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Kumail Nanjiani on Identity, Comedy, and Shaking Hands with Girls

When Kumail Nanjiani was a boy growing up in Karachi, Pakistan, he absorbed a fair amount of American culture. He loved Ghostbusters and Gremlins. He read MAD Magazine. And he knew that someday, he'd move to the U.S. What he never imagined is that he'd become a comedian.

His first exposure to stand up comedy was a Jerry Seinfeld HBO special, and a few short years later, Kumail was on stage himself. He's performed with The Second City, at the Upright Citizens Brigade theater, and on numerous late night shows. He also co-hosts a stand up showcase, The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail, and now often appears on TV, with appearances on Franklin and Bash, Portlandia, Veep and Newsreaders.

Kumail talks to us about growing up Pakistani, choosing a distinctly American way of life, and creating comedy about things you love, rather than things you hate.

Kumail's new Comedy Central stand up special, Beta Male, is available on CD+DVD and by direct download.

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BONUS AUDIO:
Kumail Studies The Cheesecake Factory for "Portlandia"
Kumail on Mike Judge and the Butthead Voice

Rap Recommendations from Andrew Noz: Earl Sweatshirt's "Hive" and Chief Keef's "Go to Jail"

Hip hop contributor Andrew Noz stops by to share some of his favorite new tracks, incidentally both by rappers still in their teens.

He recommends "Hive", the first single off the new album by the youngest member of the Odd Future crew, Earl Sweatshirt. It's dense, well-written, and long-awaited. Earl Sweatshirt's album Doris is out August 20th.

On the other end of the spectrum, slowed way down, is Chicago-based Chief Keef's autotuned, warbly track "Go to Jail", off his upcoming mixtape Almighty So. You can find that song on Chief Keef's Soundcloud.

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

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Photo credit Denise Truscello

Sérgio Dias on The Song That Changed My Life: Elvis Presley's "Jailhouse Rock"

Os Mutantes founder and guitarist Sérgio Dias describes the song that opened his mind to the world of rock 'n' roll when he was just a kid living in Brazil. That song was Elvis Presley's "Jailhouse Rock".

The psych rock band that would become Os Mutantes formed in Brazil in the mid-1960s. They experimented with psychedelic guitars, bossa nova and tropicalia to create a distinct sound. The band broke up in 1978, but their music continued to garner fans, from Kurt Cobain to Beck to David Byrne.

Os Mutantes released an album of eccentric and beautiful new tracks earlier this year, titled Fool Metal Jack. The band will embark on a U.S. tour in November.

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Lake Bell on Voiceover Cliques, Racing Cars, and Making the Transition from Actor to Director

Voiceover is everywhere. On commercials, describing the tight curves in a sports car; in movie theaters, reminding you to turn off your cell phone and end your conversation. Those voices are booming and confident. But they're not often female.

Lake Bell found these disembodied voices intriguing. She wrote, directed and stars in the new comedy In a World... The movie is about an an aspiring female voice over artist, her power struggles in the industry and within her own family, and the pursuit of change.

Lake talks to us about her favorite accents, her work on the ensemble comedy Childrens Hospital, and handling the transition from actor to director.

In a World... is in theaters now. You can also see Lake as part of the ensemble of [adult swim]'s Childrens Hospital, which airs Thursdays at midnight on the Cartoon Network.

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The Outshot: The Big Con by David Maurer

Jesse recommends The Big Con, by David Maurer, for a fascinating look at the profession of the confidence man.

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Plus, this week's credits... movie trailer style.

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Bullseye With Jesse Thorn: Comedy Group Kasper Hauser, David Rakoff Retrospective

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Rob Baedeker
Guests: 
James Reichmuth
Guests: 
David Rakoff
Guests: 
Keith Phipps
Guests: 
Scott Tobias

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Kasper Hauser: How To Write A Book About Business Without Really Helping

The San Francisco sketch comedy troupe Kasper Hauser is not your average comedy team. They count a lawyer, a writer, a psychiatrist and a Stanford theater professor in their ranks. They get together to write satirical books (like Skymaul and Weddings of the Times), perform the occasional live show, and produce digital content (like their Kasper Hauser podcast and this fake Craigslist page) -- all while working the aforementioned day jobs. Their new collaboration is their own special spin on how to succeed in business, all in a tome you can leave in the bathroom. It's called Earn Your MBA on the Toilet: Unleash Unlimited Power and Wealth from Your Bathroom.

We sat down with half of Kasper Hauser, members Rob Baedeker and James Reichmuth, to talk about being inspired by the "For Dummies" series, their democratic joke-writing process, and the worst fight they've ever had--about a comedy sketch.

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The Dissolve Recommends Summer Films: "Blue Jasmine" and "The Act Of Killing"

Indie-music site Pitchfork expanded into film-criticism this month with its new off-shoot site, The Dissolve. We're joined by The Dissolve's founder and editorial director, Keith Phipps, and editor Scott Tobias, who introduce the new site and recommend their top picks for summer movies.

Keith recommends Woody Allen's new comic drama Blue Jasmine starring Cate Blanchett and Alec Baldwin, and featuring Louis CK. As Keith explains, the movie offers a terrific character study of a New York City socialite (Blanchett) who is forced to start over without her money or her husband (Baldwin).

And Scott endorses The Act Of Killing, from two of the most revered names in documentary filmmaking, producers Errol Morris and Werner Herzog. The documentary tests the very boundaries of the medium, following a real-life Indonesian deathsquad as they reenact some of their most infamous murders and confront the atrociousness of their deeds.

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David Rakoff: A Retrospective

The author David Rakoff died of cancer nearly a year ago, but his writing continues to provide insight on living a creative life in contemporary America. Best known for his autobiographical essays and his contributions to This American Life, Rakoff always made for a delightful interviewee: open, passionate, and amusing even in his darkest times. In honor of the posthumous release of his last book Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish, a novel written entirely in rhyme, we're sharing some highlights from our past conversations with Rakoff.

In these two interviews from 2005 and 2011, Rakoff touches on topics ranging from the virtues of pessimism, writing about Playboy models as a gay man, and the daily grind necessary for a truly creative life.

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The Outshot: "The Long Goodbye"

Elliott Gould may not seem like the hard-boiled noir type, but in 1973, under the direction of Robert Altman, he had that perfect combination of intellect and self-satisfied cool. With Gould playing Raymond Chandler's most famous character, Philip Marlowe, The Long Goodbye explores the powerful narcissism that governed the streets of 1970s Los Angeles.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Rick Moranis and Booker T. Jones

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Rick Moranis
Guests: 
Booker T. Jones
Guests: 
Carolyn Kellogg

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Rick Moranis on Growing Up Jewish, Canadian Comedy, and Quitting Show Business

Rick Moranis's big glasses and nerdy goofball humor appeared in some of the biggest Hollywood comedies of the 80s and 90s. In just a few years, he starred in Ghostbusters, Spaceballs, and Honey I Shrunk the Kids. Those movies filled theaters, sold tons of merchandise, and made Moranis a star. And then, at the peak of this fame, Moranis decided to retire. His wife passed away in 1991, and Moranis decided to become a full-time stay-at-home dad.

Nearly a decade after pretty much signing out of show business, Moranis returned in 2005 with a Grammy-winning album of original music, "Agoraphobic Cowboy." And now Moranis has released his second album, My Mother's Brisket and Other Love Songs, a collection of comedic music inspired by Moranis's Jewish upbringing in Toronto.

Moranis talks to Jesse about his first job selling hockey programs in the nosebleed section, SCTV and the ironic outcome of his famous nose-thumbing at Canadian content laws, and his decision to be a stay-at-home father.

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Related interviews:
Mel Brooks
Catherine O'Hara
Joe Flaherty

Carolyn Kellogg Recommends "The Unknowns" and "Hothouse"

Carolyn Kellogg, book critic and staff writer for the LA Times, joins us to recommend two new books to put on the top of your summer reading list.

First, she recommends The Unknowns by Gabriel Roth. This debut novel set in 2002 follows a Silicon Valley millionaire whose brain betrays him whenever he tries to do the right thing. Parties, ecstasy, sex -- and that's just the first few pages.

Kellogg's next pick is Boris Kachka's Hothouse: The Art of Survival and the Survival of Art at America's Most Celebrated Publishing House, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. Kachka, a veteran New York Magazine journalist, delves into the juicy history of Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, the publishing house of Tom Wolfe, Joan Didion, Philip Roth, and Jonathan Franzen. The book focuses on the personal lives of founder Roger Straus and editor Robert Giroux and provides an insider's look at the secret, ferocious world of publishing.

Read more of Carolyn's writing on books, authors, and publishing at the LA Times' blog Jacket Copy.

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Comedy: Doug Benson on Taken 2 and a Missed Opportunity

What if the folks behind the second "Taken" movie had just given a little more thought to tying the series together? Comedian Doug Benson considers the Taken series, with Liam Neeson, in this clip from his new album, Gateway Doug.

Doug Benson hosts a weekly podcast, Doug Loves Movies, and hosts the ongoing live series, Doug Benson's Movie Interruptions.

Booker T. Jones: Master Of Memphis Soul

Whether he was touring with Otis Redding, backing countless soul stars in the Stax studio, or composing his own instrumental hits like "Green Onions," Booker T. Jones, along with his band The MG's, defined the sound of southern sixties' soul.

Born in Memphis in 1944, Jones was gigging around town before he had entered high school. By college, he was a seasoned session musician and multi-instrumentalist with a hit single to his name. And by 1968, when Stax Records came under new ownership, he had played on over 600 Stax records, including "Try A Little Tenderness" and "These Arms Of Mine".

Perhaps even more impressively, Jones hasn't stopped. He continues to team up with some of the biggest names in jazz, soul, rock, and classical music and, at nearly 70 years old, he has no plans of letting up anytime soon.

Jones tells us stories about the first time Otis Redding sat down next to him at a piano, producing "Ain't No Sunshine" with the (as-yet-unknown) singer-songwriter Bill Withers, and Jones' plans to continue making all kinds of music.

Jones' new album, Sound The Alarm, is out now.

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Related interview:
Bill Withers

The Outshot: "Paranoia" by Chance the Rapper

The Outshot: Paranoia by Chance The Rapper

Jesse recommends "Paranoia," a track off Chance The Rapper's free mixtape Acid Rap. This is not hip-hop about money or cars or sexual conquests. This is hip-hop about the fear that exists in America's cities. It's a song about an entire part of our country that feels ignored. It's Chance's appeal for human connection.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Paul Feig, Ophira Eisenberg, Emily Nussbaum

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Paul Feig
Guests: 
Ophira Eisenberg
Guests: 
Emily Nussbaum

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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Director Paul Feig: Breaking Out of Movie Jail with Bridesmaids and The Heat

A few years ago, Paul Feig was enjoying a relatively successful career as a TV director. His ode to adolescence, Freaks and Geeks, had a short run but was critically acclaimed. He went on to direct pivotal episodes of The Office, take a turn on Mad Men, and make the rounds on 30 Rock, Parks and Recreation, and Arrested Development, too.

But Feig's work in film was a little rockier. His first two studio films struggled to find audiences, and he was serving time in "movie jail", the unofficial lockdown for directors who helm flops. But he got a third chance, directing a talented cast of women in Bridesmaids. And that time, it hit.

His new film, The Heat, pairs Melissa McCarthy with Sandra Bullock in the traditional buddy cop genre.

Feig talks to us about how his childhood magic hobby led to a career in comedy, why he prefers directing women to men, and the undue box office pressure on films starring women.

The Heat is in theaters nationwide on June 28.

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TV Recommendations with Emily Nussbaum: "Orange is the New Black" and "Inside Amy Schumer"

The New Yorker’s television critic, Emily Nussbaum, joins us to talk about TV you should be watching. She recommends the upcoming Netflix original series Orange Is The New Black, from Jenji Kohan, creator of the hit Showtime dramedy Weeds. Kohan's new show follows the life of a middle-class woman sent to prison when her drug smuggling past catches up to her. Nussbaum also recommends the Comedy Central sketch show Inside Amy Schumer, hosted by Schumer and filled with exaggerated takes on some of her favorite topics: sex, porn, relationships, and how to take a compliment.

Orange Is The New Black's 13 episode season premieres on Netflix on July 11.

Inside Amy Schumer airs Tuesdays at 10:30/9:30c on Comedy Central. The show was just picked up for a second season.

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Writer and Comedian Ophira Eisenberg on "Sleeping My Way to Monogamy"

Comedian Ophira Eisenberg is happily married and she's got a pretty steady day job, for a comic (she's the host of NPR’s quiz show Ask Me Another). But her life wasn't always so settled. Eisenberg’s new memoir, Screw Everyone: Sleeping My Way to Monogamy, tells us how she got there -- by accident. She made a choice early on that dating was supposed to be fun, not a desperate and frenzied search to find "the one".

She describes the best way to make the transition to living in New York City (just don't tell anyone back home!), what to say when your date asks you if you want to see "something special", and her newly optimistic philosophy on marriage.

Screw Everyone is available now.

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The Outshot: How to Cook Everything by Mark Bittman

Do you need to be a chef to be able to cook for yourself? The answer is no, and the proof is in Mark Bittman's How to Cook Everything.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Charlie Wilson of the Gap Band, Mark Frauenfelder

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Mark Frauenfelder Recommends: "Good Dog" and Super Durak

Mark Frauenfelder, founder of BoingBoing and host of the Gweek podcast joins us to weigh on his latest obsessions in the form of geeky pop culture. This time, it's Graham Chaffee's Good Dog and the virtual version of Russian card game Super Durak, for iOs.

Chaffee's book, out this week, is a tour through a stray dog's life as he weighs a life of independence against the security of being a house pet, exploring the psychology of dogs in a vein similar to White Fang. Frauenfelder also suggests downloading the Super Durak app for a card game with a unique twist -- there are no winners.

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Charlie Wilson: Creating Funk Jams with the Gap Band, Overcoming Addiction, and Recovering a Career

From his years as the frontman of the funk-R&B group the Gap Band, to singing hooks for rappers like Snoop Dogg and Kanye West, to his solo career recording R&B hits in his airy tenor, Charlie Wilson has been all about music. He grew up in Tulsa, Oklahoma, the son of a Pentecostal preacher and a music minister mother. Wilson spent his early years singing for his father's congregation and formed the Gap Band with his brothers, Ronnie and Robert, as a teenager.

In the late 1970s and early 80s, the Gap Band took their signature funk and R&B sound and made chart-topping hits like "Burn Rubber on Me", "Outstanding", "You Dropped a Bomb on Me", and "Party Train". The band's management was rocky in the mid 1980s, and Wilson's life took a downturn. A few years later, he was addicted to drugs and living on the streets. But a love for music and sense of pride helped right the course, and he retooled his career into Grammy-nominated solo work.
Wilson talks to us about crafting the now-classic sounds of the Gap Band, encounters with Stevie Wonder and Sly Stone, and why he returned to music after years of isolation and addiction.

Charlie Wilson's newest record is Love, Charlie. He'll receive BET's Lifetime Achievement Award on June 30th.

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Comedy: Al Madrigal Meets the "Cholo Soccer Dad"

There's a very specific kind of subculture you might encounter in East Los Angeles. Al Madrigal explains his encounter with it in this clip from his new stand up special, Why Is the Rabbit Crying?.

Al Madrigal is a stand up comic. You can catch him on the road in selected cities this summer and fall, and on TV as The Daily Show's Latino Correspondent.

The Outshot: "The Best Ever Death Metal Band Out of Denton" by The Mountain Goats

Jesse explores a song about two high school friends, a death metal band, and dreams. It's "The Best Ever Death Metal Band Out of Denton".

The Mountain Goats are on tour this summer. You can find those dates on their website.

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

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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.

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