Jason Kottke, master collector of the internet's most fascinating links (assembled at his website, kottke.org), shares some current favorites. He recommends diving in to explore the world's unexplained sounds and David Chang's new PBS show, The Mind of a Chef, airing now on PBS and also available online.
Years before he became famous in Britain for skewering celebrities on Popworld and Nevermind the Buzzcocks, Simon's Amstell's childhood ambition was to be on TV. And unlike most kids with dreams of TV stardom, he made it a reality -- but found it less fulfilling than he had hoped. Comedian, writer and TV host Amstell joins us this week to share his experiences in the entertainment industry, including navigating the delicate line between crafting clever comedy and bullying his celebrity guests as a TV host, writing and starring in Grandma's House, a sitcom with parallels to his own life, and seeking enlightenment on a Shamanic quest in South America.
In this era of constant hustle and bustle, who can keep up with what's HOT and what's NOT in these United States? Fortunately, expert stuff-ranker Jordan Morris joins us this week to fill us in and set us straight.
Brian K. Vaughan has the kind of strange and epic vision that's made for science fiction and fantasy. He's written award-winning comic book series like Ex Machina and Y: The Last Man, and crafted otherworldly storylines for several seasons of Lost.
His works are notable for their intimacy and beautiful, meticulously crafted characters, despite grandly epic settings. His most recent comic book series Saga is a prime example: Vaughan presents a fundamentally domestic story of parents trying to give their child a good life, backed by a colossal, galactic war. He joins us this week to share why he enjoys storytelling on a grand scale. Vaughan also explains why writing stories about lesser-known comic characters -- like Marvel's weird wildman Ka-Zar -- can be preferable to writing about the big names like Spiderman, and he tracks how fatherhood has affected his writing.
A collection of the first six issues of Brian K. Vaughan's monthly comic book series Saga is available now.
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Please be advised: the content in this week's Outshot may be objectionable to some listeners.
As more details emerge surrounding the BBC's recent horrific pedophilia scandals, Jesse recalls a special episode of the satirical UK television series Brass Eye, called Paedogeddon. The episode was made in response to a similar panic about pedophilia in Britain over a decade ago. Here's a look at Brass Eye's take on media hysteria.
Boing Boing's Mark Frauenfelder joins us this week to share some all-time favorites: a great dungeon crawler for iOS called The Sword of Fargoal and Chandler Burr's The Emperor of Scent: A True Story of Perfume and Obsession, a fascinating book exploring the science of scent.
R.J. Smith is a former senior editor at Los Angeles Magazine and a music journalist who's written for the Village Voice and Spin. For his latest project, he took on the task of profiling the Godfather of Soul, James Brown. Smith's extensive biography, The One: The Life and Music of James Brown, follows the musician from his childhood, raised in a whorehouse, wearing burlap sack underwear, to stardom, and then to reinvention.
James Brown was a hugely influential musician and performer, known for hits like "I Got You (I Feel Good)" and "Get Up (I Feel Like a Sex Machine)," and he was one of the driving forces behind the creation and popularity of funk music. But he was also much more than that -- a tenacious businessman who ran his finances into the ground, a man of messy and confusing political alliances, and a hardliner on drug abuse (who eventually fell to his own drug addictions).
Why didn’t Brown’s politics fit neatly into a particular mindset? And why, unlike nearly all of his black contemporaries, did he endorse Nixon? What drew crowds of screaming fans to his performances? And how did he survive the rise of disco? Smith's book delves into Brown's storied and complicated life and music career of six decades, as well as his effects on pop music, politics, and race relations in 20th century America. This interview previously aired July 24, 2012.
Cameron Esposito is a standup comic who's been featured on this show and performed at TBS' Just for Laughs Chicago, South by Southwest, and the Aspen Rooftop Comedy Festivals. She recently moved to Los Angeles right in time for the 4th Annual MaxFunCon, and joined us to perform a set musing on her childhood appearance. This segment previously aired July 24, 2012.
Why not go where everybody goes your name? This week, Jesse recommends that you revisit Cheers. This segment previously aired July 24, 2012.
Do you have a piece of pop culture that keeps you coming back? Share your own Outshot on our forums.
The AV Club's Kyle Ryan and Nathan Rabin join us this week with music recommendations. Kyle suggests The Evens's new album, The Odds. Nathan recommends hip-hop group The Coup's new album Sorry to Bother You. Both albums feature artistic departures from the bands' traditional sounds -- The Odds marks a more melodic take on The Evens's punk-rock aesthetic, while Sorry to Bother You introduces punk and dance-rock elements.
Tavi Gevinson's interest in the artistry of fashion inspired her to start her blog, Style Rookie, when she was in middle school. Drawn to unusual color combinations, proportions, and textures, Gevinson sought to create narratives with her outfits -- which caught flack at school, even as fashion magazines praised her sense of style.
Most recently, Gevinson's founded and serves as Editor-in-Chief of the online magazine Rookie, a beautifully curated website for teen girls featuring content spanning myriad topics, including feminism, fashion, and how to build the very best forts. Gevinson recently collected some of Rookie's first year of content into a book called Rookie Yearbook One.
Gevinson joins us to discuss what sparked her foray into the fashion world, people's tendency to fixate on her age, and the qualities that make people worth writing about.
We may have only known Retta as a neurosurgeon, given her pre-med track in college. But after a few years of working in the pharmaceutical industry post-grad, her casual TV-watching led to a spark of realization -- acting could be a viable path, too. Her newfound dream of working in entertainment led to a stand up act, and eventually the role of Donna on NBC's Parks and Recreation.
Retta talks about her start in show business, her fear of being typecast, and the evolution of her character on Parks and Rec, Donna Meagle. You can catch Parks and Recreation Thursday nights on NBC.
Who is better suited to parody the reality TV show genre as a whole, and Antiques Roadshow in particular, than the folks at The Onion? This week, Jesse recommends Lake Dredge Appraisal, a sly take on your typical appraisal show which often defies your expectations.
What show are you enjoying lately? Why don't you head over to the MaxFun forums and share YOUR outshot?
Boing Boing.net and the Gweek podcast's Mark Frauenfelder joins us this week to share some top-rate pop culture picks. He recommends British author Jon Ronson's new book, Lost at Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries, which collects profiles of some fascinating individuals and Sir Benfro's Brilliant Balloon, a beautifully illustrated and simple to play iOS game.
Fran Lebowitz's literary career had a somewhat inauspicious beginning -- not long after being expelled from high school, she moved to New York, showed up barefoot at a publishing house to submit her poetry collection, and was incredulous when it was rejected. Her determination, fearlessness, and sharp wit were undeniable, however, and she soon became not only a successful author, but one of New York's most important social critics.
Lebowitz shares stories of teenage rebellion, getting started as a writer, and why she considers herself to be the least envious person on the planet. A collection of her essays, The Fran Lebowitz Reader, is now available in audiobook form.
You may not immediately recognize his name, but chances are good you've heard Karriem Riggins's work. He's a jazz drummer who's played with greats like Diana Krall and Ron Carter, and he's produced hip hop for Erykah Badu and The Roots. Riggins' new solo album, Alone / Together, fuses his drumming with his production chops.
He joins us this week to discuss the song that changed his life: "Give it Up or Turnit a Loose" by James Brown.
"It Was a Good Day" is rapper Ice Cube's biggest hit -- a solid rap song with a great beat, it's easy to see why this record was so successful. What makes this song truly great, however, isn't Ice Cube's vivid description of his good day, but looming, omnipresent possibility of a much worse day.
Is there a song that speaks to you with what it doesn't say? Head over to the MaxFun forum and share YOUR outshot.
Tom Scharpling, Maggie Serota, and Daniel Ralston from the Low Times podcast join us this week with music suggestions. Maggie recommends “What Have I Done to Deserve This” from Pet Shop Boys, Tom suggests “Stud Spider” by Tony Joe White, and Daniel thinks we should check out Bill Fox’s “Bonded to You.”
You may best recognize Stephen Tobolowsky from his role as Ned Ryerson in Groundhog Day, but his considerable body of work spans several mediums. He's appeared as a character actor in hundreds of films and television shows, including the HBO series Deadwood, he hosts The Tobolowsky Files podcast, and he's now written a book called The Dangerous Animals Club.
The stories in his podcast and his new book are about his life, but they aren't Hollywood gossip. They're funny, intimate, and often profound recountings of things from his normal life – like falling in love for the first time, being held at gunpoint at the grocery store, and spending Christmas Eve tripping on acid. He joins us to share some of those stories.
The intrepid journalists of Kasper Hauser news team have their fingers on the pulse of fake news, and they return this week to keep you updated.
R&B has lost its edge in recent years, but Frank Ocean’s album Channel Orange is a new, exciting example of the genre. Ocean channels emotions and harnesses distance to create beautiful, memorable songs and a masterful record.
What's your favorite R&B album? Head over to the MaxFun forum and share YOUR outshot.
Hip hop blogger Andrew Noz joins us again this week to recommend some of his favorite tracks of the moment. What's he listening to now? Aesop Rock's ode to a haircut in Racing Stripes and Alpoko Don's stripped down track All I Know.
The Grammy-nominated jazz pianist and composer Vijay Iyer began learning classical violin at age three and started improvising on the piano only a few years later. While he studied math and physics at Yale and UC Berkeley, he couldn't stay away from music. He found himself doing academic work by day, and moonlighting as a jazz pianist in Bay Area clubs.
His music is known for its complex, pulsing rhythms and creating unusual covers of artists like Stevie Wonder, Flying Lotus, and Michael Jackson.
He talks to us about exploring rhythm with math (remember Fibonacci's sequence?), the social experience of creating and listening to music, and the idea that "music is action."
The Vijay Iyer Trio's newest album is Accelerando.
Demetri Martin is the kind of person who's obsessed with puzzles and linguistic and cultural ironies, and you've probably seen him explore those on his show Important Things with Demetri Martin. But he's usually got a big sketchpad, slides projected overhead, and a piano to riff on. He's put the theatricality aside in favor of straight ahead one-liners in this clip from his new special, Standup Comedian.
Want to learn more about Demetri Martin? Check out our interview with him about This is a Book.
Dave Hill is best known as a New York-based comedian, but he's dabbled in a lot of things. He's interviewed fans of Chick-Fil-A for This American Life, lived the life of a frontman for a semi-successful rock band (they were big in Japan), and even had a job as a pedicab driver for a few days.
One of his trademarks is making himself and others uncomfortable during a performance, whether he's asking inane or (alternately) inappropriately suggestive questions in his man-on-the-street interviews, performing stand up or hosting his talk show The Dave Hill Explosion. He mines a number of uncomfortable situations in his recent book of essays, Tasteful Nudes: ...and Other Misguided Attempts at Personal Growth and Validation.
He talks to us about how being a rock musician made him realize he loved comedy, and how he ended up performing at Sing Sing for maximum security felons. This interview originally aired July 2, 2012.)
What's your favorite mashup of genres? Head over to the MaxFun forum and tell us YOUR outshot.
This week, the AV Club’s Assistant TV Editor, Erik Adams, shares his affection for Police Squad!, the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker classic with Leslie Nielsen. His colleague Claire Zulkey recommends Law & Order.
R.A. Dickey is a pitcher for the New York Mets, and the only man in the majors currently throwing a knuckleball. His new memoir, Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest For Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball, is a story of perseverance more than anything. He had a difficult childhood marked by abuse and poverty, but found his gift in baseball. Early on in his career, the Texas Rangers offered Dickey a lucrative contract but retracted it when they discovered a physical abnormality that theoretically should have kept him from playing ball. Dickey then bounced back and forth between the major and minor leagues and says he floundered, personally and professionally. But he stuck with it, and worked on mastering the wildly unpredictable knuckleball pitch (and finally found stability and peace in his relationships with his family and friends). Now, at age 37 Dickey is just hitting the prime of his career while many players of his age have long since retired. If anything, the knuckleball means his best days may still be ahead of him.
R.A. sits down with us to discuss his search for peace from a troubled past, the art of throwing the perfect knuckleball, and exactly why he names his bats after fantasy swords. Wherever I Wind Up is available in bookstores now. This interview originally aired May 22, 2012.
To say Jim Coyle and Mal Sharpe were ahead of their time would be putting it mildly. The duo produced hundreds of man-on-the-street interviews in San Francisco during the mid-1960s, always claiming to be something they weren't, all in the name of comedy. Their efforts would go mostly unappreciated for decades, though the dedication of Mal's daughter Jennifer would ensure their work would eventually find an audience.
In this classic clip, the pair try to convince a Navy serviceman to rob a bank for them. You can hear more from Coyle & Sharpe right here on MaximumFun.org, where their archives have been converted to The Coyle & Sharpe Podcast. This segment originally aired May 22, 2012.
On the Outshot this week, Jesse makes the rather unconventional move of recommending a radio show that isn't this one -- but you'll want to check it out all the same. It's The Best Show on WFMU, the music show turned character-based comedy call-in program whose cryptic host Tom Scharpling can satirize the role of the radio host while perfecting it in the same breath. This segment originally aired May 22, 2012.
Is there a show on the radio that you consider appointment listening? We want to hear it, so let us know on the MaxFun Forum by picking your own Outshot.
Kurt Andersen is the host of Studio 360, co-founder of the satirical Spy Magazine and a novelist. He brought his love of research and cultural criticism to bear when he penned the new novel True Believers, the story of a high profile lawyer who steps away from a nomination to the Supreme Court. True Believers follows her on a quest to piece together a mysterious episode in her childhood during the Cold War and the age of the spy novel.
Andersen fondly recalls his own childhood interests in espionage, and he discusses the leap of faith required for a trained journalist to stop doing research and begin trusting the imagination. The end result is a novel which weaves together generational politics, 1960s counter-culture, and a children's game that becomes all too real.
Ari Graynor plays a lot of outrageous, messy roles -- she was a self-destructive college student on The Sopranos, and she played a drunken best friend in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist -- but her characters have heart and a kind of innocence.
The same is true of her most recent role of Katie Steele, the brash-yet-vulnerable young Manhattanite who runs a phone sex line in the new movie For a Good Time, Call. The film is in select theaters nationwide this week.
Ari talks to us about the 80s films that inspired her, the story's depiction of female friendship, and the strange intimacy and appeal of phone sex.
Jordan shares his passion for the music of the late Tony Sly, of punk band No Use for a Name.
Got a favorite band you want to spread the word about? Head on over to the MaxFun forum and pick your own Outshot.
We can't contain our excitement about our new flea market finds for Maximum Fun HQ -- discovered with American Picker Danielle Colby -- and we've got to share them with you. Enjoy!
And as promised, a video of Bullseye editor Nick White showing us the rocketship in action! (FYI: There's some NSFW language going on.)
Mark Frauenfelder of Boing Boing and the Gweek podcast brings us this week's culture recommendations: The Harvey Girls: Little Audrey, Little Dot, and Little Lotta and The Internet Archive's Classic TV feed.
Robert Glasper is a jazz pianist and the band leader of the Robert Glasper Experiment. Glasper's life in music began early, as his mother, a jazz and blues vocalist, would often bring her young son along to clubs with her, where he would watch from backstage. His music today blends classic jazz influences with soul music and modern hip-hop, forging something fresh and new out of a genre he says is in dire need of a shake-up. His new album, Black Radio, includes collaborations with hip-hop artists like Lupe Fiasco, Mos Def, as well as old friend and frequent collaborator Bilal.
Glasper sits down with us to reveal some of his more embarrassing musical influences, reflect on working alongside the late J. Dilla, and dish on what he feels is wrong with today's jazz culture. (Originally aired April 10, 2012)
Davy Rothbart is the editor of Found Magazine, an annual publication collecting lost letters, tests, essays and notes, all found and submitted by readers. Found put out its first issue nearly ten years ago, and Davy has been a regular guest on The Sound of Young America ever since. In his first appearance on Bullseye, Rothbart recounts the cryptic tales found within the pages of some of his favorite lost treasures, brought to him by readers on Found's national tours. (Originally aired April 10, 2012)
If you've found something special you'd like to send in, either digitally or by mail, visit www.FoundMagazine.com/submit.
Pendleton Ward is a writer and animator, and the creator of the Cartoon Network series Adventure Time. The show follows the adventures of Finn the boy and Jake the shape-shifting dog, through a magical post-apocalyptic Earth. It's very witty and full of humor, and is one of those rare programs that works just as well for kids as it does for adults. Pen is a born artist, who even during this interview can't help but capture his host on paper. He joins Jesse to discuss drawing as a comedic outlet, the delicate art of writing a quality fart joke, and the influence of Dungeons & Dragons on the fantastical quests of Adventure Time. The show just began its fourth season; you can catch new episodes Monday nights on Cartoon Network. (Originally aired April 10, 2012)
For this week's Outshot, Jesse delves into the often contrived world of quirky viral videos and finds something genuinely hilarious: the web series BESTIE x BESTIE, starring Jenny Slate and Gabe Liedman. You might know Slate as a former featured player on SNL or as the writer and voice of another internet smash, Marcel The Shell With Shoes On. In BESTIE x BESTIE she and best friend Liedman take turns trying desperately to remain serious while the other does their best to make them crack. The results are often as funny as anything on the internet. (Originally aired April 10, 2012)
Is there a web series that tickles your funny-bone like none other? Help it go viral by sharing it on the MaxFun Forum and picking your own Outshot.