Novels

Debut Novels and Documentaries with Jade Chang, Jesse Thorn, and April Wolfe

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April Wolfe, Jade Chang, Flynn Wappler, and Margaret
Show: 
Pop Rocket
Guests: 
Margaret Wappler
Guests: 
Jesse Thorn
Guests: 
April Wolfe
Guests: 
Jade Chang

Margaret takes over hosting duties this week and sits down with author Jade Chang, LA Weekly film critic April Wolfe, and host of Pop Rocket’s sister show Bullseye, Jesse Thorn to talk about documentaries! Plus, Margaret talks to Jade about her new book, The Wangs vs. The World. Jesse talks about the Golden State Warriors, April has a few words to say on The Handmaiden, and Margaret reviews the Anthony Weiner documentary.

With Margaret Wappler, Jesse Thorn, April Wolfe and Jade Chang.

That’s My Jam:

Margaret Wappler - The Tempest – The Beigeness
Jesse Thorn - Paper Tiger ft. Shafiq Husayn – Weight in Space
April Wolfe - Koyaanisqatsi
Jade Chang - Solange – F.U.B.U.

Each week we’ll add everyone’s jams to this handy Spotify playlist.

You can let us know what you think of Pop Rocket and suggest topics in our Facebook group or via @PopRocket on Twitter.

Produced by Christian Dueñas and Kara Hartfor MaximumFun.org.

Magic Lessons Ep. 207: “Living the Dream and Facing the Nightmare” featuring Neil Gaiman

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Guests: 
Neil Gaiman

This week on Magic Lessons, Elizabeth Gilbert advises Britta, a former lawyer-turned- writer in Amsterdam struggling to make progress on her second book. After success with her first novel, Britta made several failed attempts to start her second. She can’t find the flow and fears she has lost the the joy in writing. Liz calls up her friend, the prolific writer and novelist Neil Gaiman, for more guidance on Britta’s case.

Special Guest: Neil Gaiman writes fiction, comic books, graphic novels, journalism, audio theater, and films. His works include The Sandman, American Gods, and the children’s novel and animated film Coraline. His new book, a collection of essays about artists, myths, and memories, is called A View from the Cheap Seats. Find out more about him at Neil Gaiman.com


This week's sponsors: Audible, The Great Courses Plus, and Stamps.com
Use the promo code: Lessons

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Jean Grae and Kevin Biegel & Mike Royce of "Enlisted"

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Jean Grae
Guests: 
Kevin Biegel
Guests: 
Mike Royce
Guests: 
Carolyn Kellogg
Guests: 
My Brother, My Brother and Me

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.

Jean Grae on an Accidental Hip Hop Career

Rapper Jean Grae, formerly known as What? What?, has been a stalwart member of New York City's underground hip hop community for decades. She was born into a musical family, though she didn't exactly follow in her parents' footsteps. Her father, Abdullah Ibrahim (also known as Dollar Brand), helped to found South African Jazz and her mother, Sathima Bea Benjamin, was a gifted singer and composer. Grae was born in South Africa and her parents made sure she knew her roots -- but she was also a New Yorker, through and through.

She joins us this week to tell us about growing up with talented musicians as parents, her accidental hip hop career, and why she doesn't shy away from outrageous, cartoonish violence in her lyrics.

Jean Grae has had a very busy year. Her latest projects include a new full length, Gotham Down, a new EP called Jeannie, a an audiobook entitled The State of Eh, and a webseries in which she writes, directs and stars, Life with Jeannie.

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Carolyn Kellogg on New Books: Utopic and Dystopic New York

We're joined by Carolyn Kellogg, book critic for the Los Angeles Times, to talk about two books with very different views of New York City.

Her first recommendation is the apocalyptic noir novel Shovel Ready, by Adam Sternbergh.

Her second recommendation is a look at the utopic vision of a New York institution. Inside the Dream Palace: The Life and Times of New York’s Legendary Chelsea Hotel, by Sherill Tippins is about the famous Chelsea Hotel and its artists and philosophers in residence.

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


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My Brother, My Brother and Me Proffer Advice: Reading Classic Lit, Gaming with Your Boss, and Solo Concert-Going

Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy and Griffin McElroy stop by Bullseye to solve our cultural quandaries. Listen to their advice on reading classic literature like "Super Fudge", playing video games with your boss and grooving solo at a James Taylor concert.

If you still have questions that need answers, 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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Kevin Biegel and Mike Royce of "Enlisted": Taking on Military Comedy

It's been awhile since television or film successfully took on military comedy. While the 1970s and 1980s had several military-based hits -- M*A*S*H, Hogan's Heroes, Stripes, Private Benjamin -- there hasn't been much to see as of late.

The executive producers of Enlisted, a new comedy from Fox, aim to change that. Kevin Biegel and Mike Royce have combined forces from the worlds of workplace and family sitcoms. Their resumes include writing and producing credits for Scrubs, Cougar Town, Everybody Loves Raymond and Men of a Certain Age.

Enlisted is about the military-as-workplace, but it's also about family. The show features a trio of brothers in the US Army. Oldest brother Pete had a promising start to his career serving in combat in Afghanistan, but one mistake gets him reassigned to a platoon of misfits on a support base in Florida. It also means he has to supervise his siblings -- a sarcastic middle child and an overenthusiastic baby brother.

Biegel and Royce talk to us about their goal of creating a grounded comedy that doesn't deal in outlandishness, learning about real pranks and antics happening on-base, and how a "bunch of softies" make a show about soldiers.

Enlisted airs Friday nights at 9pm on Fox.

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The Outshot: Paul Anka on Showmanship

Paul Anka, a consummate entertainer with few peers, has very high standards. This week, Jesse shares what he dubs as one of the greatest after-show recordings of all time and reminds us to live and move with conviction.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Nile Rodgers, Mark Frauenfelder

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Nile Rodgers
Guests: 
Mark Frauenfelder

Mark Frauenfelder Recommends: The Hunter by Richard Stark and Every Noise At Once

BoingBoing founder and editor Mark Frauenfelder joins us to share a few of his all-time favorite pop culture picks. His first recommendation is The Hunter, a dark 1962 novel reminiscent of antihero-driven television shows like Breaking Bad. Next, you'll need something to soothe your senses – how about some new music? Check out Every Noise At Once, a website that introduces listeners to obscure genres from Arab soul to zouk.

Disco Pioneer Nile Rodgers on Producing Hits, The Legacy of Disco, and the "Deep Hidden Meaning"

You might not recognize Nile Rodgers, who began his music career as part of the purposely faceless band Chic -- but you'd definitely know his music if you heard it. He founded Chic with bassist Bernard Edwards, launched a string of hits including "Le Freak" and "Good Times", and went on to become a songwriting and producing superstar with a tried-and-true formula.

The anthem "We are Family"? That's one of his, too. He was behind Diana Ross' "I'm Coming Out", David Bowie's "Let's Dance", and Madonna's "Like a Virgin". He continues to make and perform music, both with Chic and as a producer. This month, you can hear him on Daft Punk's new album Random Access Memories, contributing a signature guitar sound to the single "Get Lucky".

Back in 2011, Rodgers spoke with us about a beatnik childhood, decades of writing hits (including the gay anthem "I'm Coming Out" for Diana Ross), and the legacy of disco.

His memoir is Le Freak: An Upside Down Story of Family, Disco, and Destiny.

(This interview originally aired in November 2011.)

Nichols and May Examine Doctors

Who are Mike Nichols and Elaine May? You might know them both for their film and theater work (among many other things, Nichols directed The Graduate and May helmed The Heartbreak Kid). But first, they performed as a improvisational comedy duo in the early 1960s on TV and on bestselling comedy albums, often fixed on skewering relationships. Case in point: a classic comedy sketch from 1962's Nichols and May Examine Doctors, in which a workplace fling becomes a matter of life or death.

Nichols and May Examine Doctors was recently reissued as a CD and digital download.

The Outshot: Bill Cunningham New York

Jesse examines the often superficial fashion world and finds a stunningly sincere and emotional portrait of a man. The man is New York Times fashion photographer Bill Cunningham, and the portrait is Richard Press's biographical documentary Bill Cunningham New York.

(This segment originally aired in April 2012.)

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Andrew Rannells, Jim Lehrer, and Thao Nguyen

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Andrew Rannells
Guests: 
Jim Lehrer
Guests: 
Thao Nguyen
Guests: 
Josh Modell
Guests: 
Scott Tobias

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!

The AV Club Recommends: 'Beyond the Hills' and Atoms for Peace's 'Amok'

The pop culture luminaries at the AV Club return to recommend some of their favorite new releases. Josh Modell suggests a listen to the new album Amok from Atoms for Peace, a supergroup featuring Radiohead’s Thom Yorke and Flea of The Red Hot Chili Peppers. Scott Tobias recommends a new Romanian drama, Beyond the Hills. The movie enters limited US release on March 8th.

Josh Modell is the AV Club's Managing Editor and Scott Tobias is the site's Film Editor.

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Andrew Rannells on Broadway Life and Beyond

When he was a kid growing up in Omaha, Nebraska, Andrew Rannells never pictured his face beaming out to millions of television screens. He loved acting, but his future was on the stage. The most realistic way to make it big? Broadway.

Now, he's garnered a Tony nomination for his portrayal of Elder Price in the Broadway run of The Book of Mormon and made his way to TV, co-starring in The New Normal on NBC and popping up as a regular on HBO's Girls.

Andrew talks to us about growing up gay in Nebraska, finding his characters' voices for The Book of Mormon and The New Normal -- and how to avoid uncomfortable moments when
filming nude scenes.

The New Normal airs Tuesdays at 9:30 / 8:30c on NBC. A new episode, "Rocky Bye Baby", airs this evening.

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Thao Nguyen on The Song That Changed My Life: "You've Really Got a Hold On Me"

Thao Nguyen fronts the folk-pop band Thao and the Get Down Stay Down. The band's new album, We The Common, has an intense and spirited sound. The songs feature rhythmic guitar, taut drums, and Nguyen's clear and passionate vocals.

Thao remembers when music became important to her and the song that changed her life -- Smokey Robinson's "You've Really Got a Hold On Me."

Thao and the Get Down Stay Down head out on a cross-country tour this week. Find their tourdates and more information here.

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Jim Lehrer on His Days Down at the Bus Depot and a Changing Media Landscape

Jim Lehrer anchored the Newshour on PBS for more than three decades and remains its executive editor to this day. He's also moderated twelve presidential debates and in 2011 he wrote a memoir about those experiences called Tension City. Yet another hat that Lehrer wears is that of a novelist. He's written 20 of them, the most recent of which is a charming mystery called Super.

Lehrer talks to us about his early job at a bus depot, the benefits of producing media on a tight budget, and the role public broadcasting ought to play in the future.

[This interview originally aired in May, 2010]

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The Outshot: Mike Judge's 'Extract'

Jesse suggests a look at his favorite Mike Judge creation. It's not Beavis and Butthead, and it's not Office Space. It's a low-key workplace comedy starring Jason Bateman, called Extract.

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John Brandon, Novelist: Interview on The Sound of Young America

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
John Brandon

John Brandon is a novelist who was raised on the Gulf Coast of Florida. Citrus County is set in his home state and is his second novel, focusing on a teacher and two middle-schoolers who have their loneliness and status as outsiders in common. The book is part crime novel and part exploration of the adolescent pysche.

JESSE THORN: It’s The Sound of Young America, I’m Jesse thorn. My guest on the program is the novelist John Brandon. He’s a professor at Ol’ Miss University. His new book is called Citrus County. It’s set in Citrus County, Florida, which is simultaneously the northern and southern part of Florida; physically northern and culturally southern. Places where there are no beaches and people have not bothered to turn it into Orlando.

It’s the story of two middle schoolers and a middle school teacher, and a horrible crime, and basically the feeling of being lost in one’s life. Either as a very well justified adolescent or as a maybe slightly less justified almost 30 year old. John Brandon, welcome to the sound of young America.

JOHN BRANDON: Thanks a lot.

Click here for a full transcript of the conversation.

William Gibson, author of "Zero History": Interview on The Sound of Young America

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
William Gibson

William Gibson is a science fiction writer whose works increasingly take place in a realistic present. His latest book, Zero History, is about fashion, authenticity and identity. It's a freestanding third work in an informal trilogy, which also includes Pattern Recognition and Spook Country.

Walter Mosley, author of Known to Evil and more: interview on The Sound of Young America

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Walter Mosley

Walter Mosley is the author of more than 30 books in a broad variety of genres, but he's best known for his detective fiction. His Easy Rawlins series began with 1989's best-selling Devil in a Blue Dress. His latest series features a new hero, the pugnacious, middle-aged Leonid McGill. He just released the second novel featuring McGill, Known to Evil.

Before he was a novelist, Mosley was a computer programmer. Originally born in Los Angeles, Mosley spent time in the Bay Area before moving to New York City, where the McGill novels are set.

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