Our comic book experts return with new graphic bounty! Alex Zalben recommends the new series Mind MGMT by Matt Kindt, who spins a tale of a plane crash, memory loss and psychic spies. The second issue in the series is out now. Brian Heater suggests you check out Angelman by Nicholas Mahler, which is a story of a man who has superpowers that might be milder or meeker than those of most heroes -- fighting figurative fire with qualities like being a "good listener".
You can find Alex Zalben writing for MTV Geek or co-hosting NYC's Comic Book Club Live. Brian Heater is a journalist and the Editor-In-Chief of The Daily Crosshatch, which highlights alternative comics.
Elvis Mitchell is a critic who's brought his insights on film to the pages of the New York Times and the L.A. Weekly; he's also interviewed scores of film industry writers, actors and directors over fifteen years of hosting the LA-based public radio show The Treatment. He's even ventured into filmmaking himself, producing a series of documentaries about race and success called The Black List.
But while he's been in the business of film criticism a long time, his manner or tastes can't be called conventional. Mitchell talks about his wide-ranging cultural appetite (which has room for well-executed films like Pootie Tang), the interplay between television and film, and how he got into the business of analyzing pop culture.
The brothers McElroy -- Travis, Griffin and Justin -- are in the business of giving advice, though they don't suggest you take it. This week, they answer listeners' queries about the collision of pop culture and personal relationships. The McElroy brothers host a weekly podcast called My Brother, My Brother, and Me.
Kevin Barnes founded the experimental pop group of Montreal over fifteen years ago, and the band's sound has morphed as often as (and alongside) Barnes' various stage personae and personal ups and downs. Of Montreal's original twee pop sensibility gave way to new sounds and increasingly complicated arrangements over the years, as the band experimented with electronic, R&B, funk, disco and psychedelic music within a pop framework.
Barnes discusses why he writes so much of the band's music on his own, the theatricality of the band's live performances (from elaborate costumes and skits, to a live horse), and more.
The band's latest release, Paralytic Stalks, is out now.
Jesse explains what makes David Letterman such an especially gifted late night host in a world of very good late night hosts.
Got a cultural gem of your own? Pick your own Outshot on the MaxFun Forum.>
This week's pop culture picks come to us from The AV Club's Keith Phipps and Tasha Robinson, who share a few of their all-time favorites. Tasha talks up Richard Adams' fantasy novel Watership Down -- a book which, if you weren't already forced to read it in high school, is well worth a look. Keith meanwhile shines a light on perhaps the least renowned of Sergio Leone's spaghetti westerns, Duck, You Sucker! (also known as A Fistful of Dynamite or Once Upon A Time... The Revolution!), in which the Italian master of the gunslinger casts his gaze on the tale of Zapata.
Scott Aukerman is a writer and the host of Comedy Bang! Bang!, formerly known as Comedy Death-Ray. The show began in 2002 as a comedy pub night in Los Angeles, and is now one of the landmark shows at L.A.'s UCB Theater. In 2009, Scott took many of the show's best regular characters and comics with him into a radio environment, launching Comedy Death-Ray Radio on Indie 103.1, and setting the template for what would become one of the internet's premiere comedy podcasts. Comedy Bang! Bang! is now the flagship show on Aukerman's Earwolf podcast network. This month the show made the leap into another medium entirely: as a darkly satirical late night television talk show.
Scott sat down with us to discuss the move to TV, his early years in Hollywood as a sketch writer on HBO's Mr. Show with Bob & David, and the strange business of getting paid to do work that's never produced. Comedy Bang! Bang! airs Friday nights at 10PM on IFC.
Pencil sharpener David Rees was long trapped in an awful job as a satirical cartoonist until he just couldn't take it anymore. In 2010, Rees decided to get back in touch with on old-school writing instrument and took up artisanal pencil sharpening as a profession. His new book, How To Sharpen Pencils, was released earlier this year, and he's now demonstrated his old-fashioned technique in bookstores across the country. David joins us this week to discuss the lost art of pencil sharpening, and treats us to a chapter reading from his book.
Mark Duplass is an actor, writer, director, musician, and a man who can be described as having many irons in the fire. He's the star of two films currently in theaters, Your Sister's Sister and Safety Not Guaranteed, with a third film, The Do-Deca-Pentathlon, that he wrote and directed alongside his creative partner (and brother) Jay, due later this summer. The Do-Deca-Pentathlon will be the second Duplass Brothers film to hit screens this year, following the brothers' biggest film to date: Jeff, Who Lives At Home, with Jason Segel and Ed Helms. And as if all that weren't enough, you might know Mark best from his starring role as Pete on the FX comedy series The League, which will be back for a fourth season in the fall.
Mark joins us to discuss the way his musical past has influenced his tendencies as a filmmaker, and why he's not worried about taking his projects to total perfection.
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For The Outshot this week, Jesse highlights the relaxed, harmonious hip hop sound of Digable Planets' revolutionary but commercially disastrous 1994 record Blowout Comb.
Got a cultural gem of your own? Set the record straight by picking your own Outshot on the MaxFun Forum.
This week's pop culture picks come care of Jason Kottke, of Kottke.org. Jason tracks down the best the internet has to offer, but this week he's all about documentaries. First up, it's a pair of short documentaries about Allan Benton and his ham. Allan is the owner of Benton's Smoky Mountain Country Hams, and we travel inside both his office and curing house in the films.
Next, it's the feature-length documentary Senna, profiling the thrilling and ultimately tragic tale of Brazilian Formula One driver Ayrton Senna. Senna is not just for Formula One fans -- it's a gripping profile, and the racing footage is thrilling no matter who you are. It's currently available on Netflix Instant.
Benedict Cumberbatch is a British actor currently bringing Sherlock Holmes to life in PBS's Masterpiece series Sherlock, alongside Martin Freeman of The Office as John Watson. While Cumberbatch and Freeman are the latest in a long line of actors to play these characters, there is something fresh about their adaptation: Sherlock takes place in the present day, updating the classic detective to our modern era. In the past year, Cumberbatch has memorably stolen scenes in period dramas like War Horse and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.
Benedict tells us about bringing a new take to an iconic character, and what keeps Holmes relevant to both writers and audiences all these years later. He also opens up about how a life-threatening altercation while filming in South Africa in 2004 left him changed as a person. The Series Two finale of Sherlock airs this Sunday, May 20th, on PBS's Masterpiece. Series Two will be available on DVD just two days later, on Tuesday the 22nd.
Craig Finn is the lead singer and guitarist for the Brooklyn rock outfit The Hold Steady. Earlier this year, Finn released his debut solo album Clear Heart Full Eyes. This week he tells us about the song that changed his life: The Replacements' "I Will Dare", off their 1984 album Let It Be.
Morgan Webb is a video game journalist and the co-host of X-Play on the G4 TV network. Webb fell into work in front of the camera entirely by accident via a research position on Tech TV's The Screen Savers, and it wasn't long before she wound up in front of the camera. Tech TV would eventually merge with G4, and X-Play is now the longest-running program on the network.
Morgan talks about what it means to be a gamer, what she loves about the gaming experience, and her struggle for journalistic legitimacy.
Thanks to Dave Ciaccio for editing this segment.
For The Outshot this week, Jesse basks in the warm, loving glow of Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready", and explains exactly why the singer's smiling face hangs on the wall above his son's crib.
If you've got a song that lifts you up like this one does, share the warmth on the MaxFun forum by picking your own Outshot.
Keith Phipps and Nathan Rabin of The AV Club recommend their all time favorite classics - Rodney Dangerfield’s 1981 comedy special No Respect and ‘50s Japanese film The Burmese Harp directed by Kon Ichikawa.
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Writer, director, comedian, and actor David Wain has worked on many projects, from cult classics to commercial successes. From his early days on MTV’s sketch comedy show The State he moved on to write and direct the cultishly popular film Wet Hot American Summer. David returns to our show to trace his career path, discuss what made The State such a special comedy troupe, and of course talk about his new Judd Apatow-produced comedy, Wanderlust. The film opens in theaters nationwide on February 24th. It stars Paul Rudd and Jennifer Aniston.
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Jordan Morris gives the good old U.S. of A. a run down of the top 5 most important things happening within its borders this month. Old friends, Blu-ray movies, how will he break it all down?
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If you bring the potato salad, we’ll bring the chili as Jesse pines after potlucks with this week’s Outshot, DJ Quik’s Pitch In OnA Party.
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Keith Phipps and Nathan Rabin of The AV Club bring us their recommendations - John Mulaney’s stand up special New In Town, and the movie reboot of Shakespeare’s Coriolanus, directed by and starring Ralph Fiennes. (Embed or Share the AV Club's Picks)
The hugely innovative and influential hip hop group A Tribe Called Quest began as many groups do -- as a band of friends, passing out demo tapes, dreaming of hearing their songs on the radio. But after releasing five gold and platinum selling albums in the late 1980s and early 90s, the group combusted and left fans like Michael Rapaport in the lurch.
Rapaport was an actor known for his roles in several Woody Allen films, Boston Public, Friends and Prison Break. He set out on his directorial debut to capture the past, present and future of A Tribe Called Quest, hoping to better understand what made them tick. The resulting documentary, Beats, Rhymes & Life creates a compelling oral history of the group from interviews with members Q-Tip, Phife Dawg, Ali Shaheed Mohammed and Jarobi White, along with hip-hop producers, radio personalities and other rappers. We spoke to Rapaport last year, and the film is now out on DVD. (Embed or Share Michael Rapaport on Bullseye)
The latest scientific findings, human interest stories, and much more, all brought to you by the top fake news anchors -- San Francisco based sketch comedy group Kasper Hauser. (Embed or Share Kasper Hauser on Bullseye)
Werner Herzog is an acclaimed (and prolific) film writer and director, known for narrative films like Aguirre, the Wrath of God as well as documentaries like Grizzly Man. His filmmaking distinctively pushes boundaries and explores humanity's extremes. His documentary Cave of Forgotten Dreams is a 3D look into the Chauvet Cave, home of the earliest known cave paintings in the world. With a tiny crew and jury-rigged 3D cameras, Herzog looked at some of the first images ever created. Herzog takes the opportunity not just to present to us the beauty of the caves, but to consider what it means to create and how we define our own humanity. We spoke to him about the film last year. It’s now available on DVD, Blu-Ray and Netflix Instant. (Embed or Share Werner Herzog on Bullseye)
Jesse suggests that one of the best ways to experience Sly Stone is through his beautiful, heartbreaking hit "If You Want Me to Stay." (Embed or Share The Outshot)
Rap Recommendations: Andrew Noz schools us on some rap you may have missed, with vampire imitator and Bay Area rapper Cousin Fik’s track I Am a Vampire” and tangential Odd Future member Pyramid Vritra’s Blu Diamonds. (Embed or share this segment)
Comedy Duo Tim & Eric: Masters of the surreal, uncomfortable and gross Tim Heidecker and Eric Wareheim, talk to us about moving past the curated internet weirdness, working with both hugely unique but unknown performers -- like puppeteer David Liebe Hart -- and established actors like John C. Reilly. They also give us behind the scenes insight on the promotion of their newest project, Tim & Eric's Billion Dollar Movie and their unofficial support of another great cinema classic, Shrek 3. Tim & Eric’s Billion Dollar Movie is available now On Demand, and will be released in theaters on March 2nd.
Click through to listen to the NSFPR (Not Safe for Public Radio) extended cut of the interview. (Embed or share this segment)
God’s Effusions (on His Favorite Things): Did you ever stop to consider God’s favorite things? Wonder no more. Emmy award winning comedy writer David Javerbaum is the unlikely co-writer of The Last Testament: A Memoir by God. Comedian Seth Morris acts as God’s loudspeaker to bring us this excerpt. (Embed or share this segment)
Cartoonist Roz Chast: If you’ve ever read the New Yorker, you’ve likely come across one of Roz Chast’s uniquely anxious cartoons. Now, she shares with us some of her anxieties and how she puts them down with a bullet-point in her book What I Hate: From A to Z. If you’ve ever felt imperiled by sitting on the ground or a balloon’s frustratingly imminent pop -- Roz can commiserate. (Embed or share this segment)
The Outshot: Jesse helps us see the genuine emotion and delicacy Randy Newman exhibits in his songwriting beyond the film soundtracks he’s known for, in the album Sail Away. (Embed or share this segment)
Video Game Picks: Comedian and video game journalist Heather Anne Campbell tells us about some of the games she's most excited about right now: a game in the canon of the Final Fantasy series, Final Fantasy XIII-2, and Resident Evil Revelations. (Embed or share this segment)
Actress Jenna Fischer: Emmy-nominated actress Jenna Fischer, best known for her role as Pam on The Office, talks to us about her early days in Hollywood – her totally-made-up-sounding first acting gig in LA, auditioning for The Office, and what all the actors are doing on their computers when they're in the background of a shot. The Office is now in its eighth season. (Embed or share this segment)
Kasper Hauser: San Francisco-based comedy sketch group Kasper Hauser takes us to the set of Mundos de Perros. You can find more from them on their podcast, or catch them live this week at SF Sketchfest. Click here for the Kasper Hauser podcast.
Humorist Jack Handey: Yes, he's totally real. Writer Jack Handey, whose one-liners are an enduring part of Saturday Night Live history, will talk about his days as Steve Martin's neighbor, and which of the many, many Deep Thoughts are his favorites. Plus, Jesse will reveal his favorite SNL sketch of all time. (Embed or share this segment)
The Outshot: And finally, the outshot for this week – Bo Jackson. How is a guy that fast, that strong? And how is a guy that strong, that fast? (Embed or share this segment)
For a change of pace, Jesse Thorn played interviewee to Chris Bell who operates Earbuddy, a website dedicated to introducing it's readers to new music.
The two talk about the nicest man in rock n' roll (Andrew W.K.) Jesse's relationship with the Judge himself- Mr.John Hodgman and how online piracy affects content. Read and enjoy!
Jesse describes the perfect cold open -- and it happens to be from season 2, episode 9 of NewsRadio.
Comedian Jordan Morris spends his time ranking what's hot in America right now, so perhaps you can spend your time a little more productively?