Outshot

Bullseye With Jesse Thorn: The Influence of Bob & Ray with David Pollock

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
David Pollock
Guests: 
Tony Hale
Guests: 
Andrew Noz

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The Comic Chemistry Of Bob & Ray with Writer David Pollock

Your favorite improvising comedians, whether they realize it or not, are descendants of Bob Elliott & Ray Goulding. Their signature satirical sketches, performed equally for their own entertainment as for that of their audience, continually broke new ground in the world of comedy. What started as a simple dream to be radio announcers culminated in a career spanning five decades, performances at Carnegie Hall, and a legacy as two of the funniest radio and television personalities since those job titles came into existence.

David Pollock has written for some of the most important sitcoms of the 70s, 80s, and 90s, including Full House, Frasier, Growing Pains, Cheers, M*A*S*H, and The Mary Tyler Moore Show. His new book, Bob and Ray: Keener Than Most Persons, is a detailed history of Bob and Ray, and provides some serious new insight about the comedic duo.

Pollock tells us about Bob and Ray's most hilarious on-air moments, how they invented the concept of comedy in advertising, and the magical chemistry that kept Bob and Ray improvising for over 40 years.

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Andrew Noz Recommends Classic Three 6 Mafia and De La Soul

Our go-to rap critic Andrew Noz shares some of his all-time favorite hip-hop tracks.

First he recommends the menacing Memphis track Victim Of A Driveby (Mask And The Glock) by Triple Six Mafia feat. SOG & Lil Glock, off their 1994 "Smoked Out Loced Out" tape from Prophet Entertainment.

Noz also recommends De La Soul's Ego Trippin Pt. 2, the allusion-filled second single off their 1993 album "Buhloone Mindstate" from Tommy Boy.

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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The Frightened Roles of Tony Hale

No character epitomizes Arrested Development's eponymous theme like Buster Bluth. Giving his mom back rubs, dating her best friend, and sucking cigarette smoke from her mouth while she's under house arrest--Buster is an eerie Oedipal manchild to the nth degree.

Similarly in the HBO show Veep, one person in Washington truly enables Vice President Selina Meyer, feeding the ego of an otherwise vestigial political player--her body man, Gary Walsh.

Both characters are played by Emmy-nominee Tony Hale, whose comedic facility with the role of obsequious mama's boy is unmatched.

Tony sat down with Jesse last year to discuss the humor of the behind-the-scenes world of politics, Buster Bluth's comedic inspiration, and the role his faith plays in his acting career. The third season of Veep will air on HBO in the spring of 2014.

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The Outshot: The Throne Of The Third Heaven of the Nations' Millenium General Assembly

In this week's Outshot, Jesse tells the story of a man who secretly spent the last fifteen years of his life building something amazing in a rented garage.

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Bullseye With Jesse Thorn: Jon Mooallem & Elmore Leonard

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Jon Mooallem
Guests: 
Elmore Leonard
Guests: 
Nathan Rabin
Guests: 
Tasha Robinson

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How To Save A Species: Jon Mooallem At The Corner of Imagination and Extinction

Whether it's The Lion King, Werner Herzog's "Grizzly Man", or the last kitten video you saw on Youtube, we are constantly inundated with stories about animals. Wilderness has taken a deep hold on our collective imaginations. And at a time when conservation science is making gigantic leaps, while dozens of species are disappearing every single day, the narratives that humans weave about animals have never had such drastic consequences.

It's this phenomenon that inspired Jon Mooallem to write his new book, Wild Ones: A Sometimes Dismaying, Weirdly Reassuring Story About Looking at People Looking at Animals in America. Mooallem is interested in how people see, and have seen, wild animals. Focusing on three specific endangered species--the Polar bear, the metalmark butterfly, and the whooping crane--the book explores the intricacies and the repercussions of America's relationship with the wild. Mooallem has contributed to New York Times Magazine, This American Life, Harper's, Wired, The New Yorker, and Radiolab.

Jon tells us about North American dire wolves (yes, dire wolves), America's strange relationship with Humphrey the humpback whale, and the philosophical questions that conservation scientists must ask themselves while donning giant bird costumes.

Black Prairie, a Portland-based band featuring members of The Decemberists, recorded a soundtrack for the book called Wild Ones: A Musical Score for the Things That You Might See in Your Head When You Reflect on Certain Characters and Incidents That You Read About in The Book. They will begin touring with Jon Mooallem next week.

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Kurt Braunohler: "How Do I Land?"

Comedian Kurt Braunohler thinks he can make the world a better place through stupidity, absurdity, and fake Hallmark cards.

His new stand-up album, How Do I Land is available now.

The Dissolve Recommends Documentaries: A Band Called Death and Stories We Tell

Staff Writer Nathan Rabin and Senior Editor Tasha Robinson, from The Dissolve, join us to share two documentaries out now on DVD.

Nathan recommends A Band Called Death, a look at the rise, fall, and eventual resurrection of a band of three black brothers from Detroit who played punk music in the early 1970s.

Tasha recommends Stories We Tell, directed by Oscar-nominated writer/director Sarah Polley. Stories We Tell explores the nature of truth, memory, and family secrets, as Polley tries to uncover her own family's history through personal interviews that start seeming more and more like myth than fact.

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Remembering Elmore Leonard (1925-2013)

Author Elmore Leonard died last month. To honor the great pulp fiction writer, we are airing an excerpt from our interview with him from 2007.

Leonard had a style, a story schema, and a voice of which he was truly a master. His characters got into trouble, the problems grew larger, and they spoke to each other with honed dialogue that influenced readers, writers, and filmmakers for decades. His novels inspired such films as Get Shorty, Out Of Sight, Jackie Brown, and 3:10 To Yuma.

He talks about his love for Hemingway's style, why his dozens of Western novels were more true to life than the stuff he saw on TV, and how nothing gave him more pleasure than sitting down and getting characters to talk.

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The Outshot: Drunk History

Drunk History on Comedy Central has a pretty simple, crude concept: get comedians roaringly hammered and have them talk about their favorite moment in American history. Jesse explains why this is more beautiful than you'd think.

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Bullseye With Jesse Thorn: Prodigy Of Mobb Deep

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Prodigy
Guests: 
Carolyn Kellogg

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Prodigy: Member of Mobb Deep, Crusader From Queensbridge

Queensbridge, New York is an important place for hip-hop. Not since Motown, 25 years earlier, has such an astonishing number of artists with a distinctive, sought after sound, emerged from such a specific neighborhood. Nas, Marley Marl, Cormega--these are just a few of the huge names that sprang from America's largest housing projects, located just across the bridge from Manhattan in Queens. Since the early 1980s, Queensbridge has been a veritable hotbed for new directions in East Coast hip-hop.

And no rap-group has drawn inspiration from Queensbridge more vividly than Mobb Deep. Composed of rappers Havoc and Prodigy, Mobb Deep create music that makes you feel like you, too, grew up in Queensbridge. Listen to Shook Ones Pt. 2 enough times, and you'll feel like you could stab an unlucky sucker's brain with his nosebone.

Jesse sat down with Prodigy, aka Anthony Johnson, after the release of his autobiography, My Infamous Life in 2011. Prodigy had just recently been released from prison, where he spent three years on gun charges. He talks about growing up with sickle-cell anemia, being dragged along on his father's jewelry store robberies as a teen, and how he used his time in prison for some serious personal transformation.

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Carolyn Kellogg Recommends: Farewell, My Lovely and The Crying of Lot 49

Carolyn Kellogg, book critic and staff writer for the LA Times, joins us to recommend two of her all-time favorite books.

First, she recommends Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler. This hardboiled Los Angeles noir features Chandler's iconic language--analogies stronger than the libations his protagonists down in LA's most dimly lit nightclubs.

Kellogg's next pick is Thomas Pynchon's novel The Crying Of Lot 49. At less than 200 pages, The Crying Of Lot 49 is an accessible, pun-filled entry into the dense world of Pynchon.

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

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The Outshot: Randy Newman's "Sail Away"

If "You've Got A Friend In Me," is the only thing you think of when you hear the name Randy Newman, we've got an Outshot for you.

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Bullseye With Jesse Thorn: Lewis Black & Nikki Glaser and Sara Schaefer

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Bullseye
Guests: 
Lewis Black
Guests: 
Nikki Glaser
Guests: 
Sara Schaefer
Guests: 
Davy Rothbart
Guests: 
Mark Frauenfelder

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Still Fuming: Lewis Black on Drama School, New York, And Why He's Still Fired Up

No comedian is angrier than Lewis Black. For the past 25 years, America has been infuriating him, and he's been on-stage telling us why.

After graduating from the Yale School of Drama in 1977, Black spent ten years as a playwright at the West Bank Cafe Downstairs Theater in New York. He transitioned to stand-up comedy in the late 1980s and has been regularly featured on The Daily Show's "Back In Black" segment for the past 16 years.

Lewis tells us about nearly getting expelled from Yale, why he loves performing in Bismarck, and how theater is like heroin.

Lewis Black's new special, Old Yeller: Live At The Borgata, airs live on Pay-Per-View and becomes available on VOD on August 24.

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Mark Frauenfelder Recommends The Adventure Time Encyclopedia and Blocksworld

Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of BoingBoing, which bills itself as a "directory of wonderful things". He joins us to share some of his recent finds. This time, it's The Adventure Time Encyclopedia and the iPad game Blocksworld, for iOs.

The Cartoon Network's show Adventure Time is ostensibly for children, but eagerly devoured by people of all ages. It follows the psychedelic adventures of a boy named Finn and his dog Jake. The new Adventure Time Encyclopedia, "translated" by comedy writer Martin Olson, features new original artwork and everything you ever wanted to know about the post-apocalyptic land of Oooo. Mark also suggests downloading the Blocksworld app for iPad, a virtual Lego-like world with huge creative possibilities.

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Found Things With Davy Rothbart

Found Magazine co-creator and editor Davy Rothbart is back to share more pieces of lost and found ephemera: discarded exams, neighborhood flyers, and personal letters that leave half the story to your imagination.

Davy's new documentary Medora (co-director/producer), is in select theaters this fall. FOUND 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.

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Nikki Glaser and Sara Schaefer: From Podcasting To Kardashian Bashing

Late night television has long been dominated by slightly greying men, alone behind a desk, cracking jokes about politics and the news. Nikki Glaser and Sara Schaefer have taken that popular format -- monologues, sketches, celebrity interviews -- and repackaged it for the Taylor Swift demographic. The two young comedians co-host Nikki and Sara Live on MTV, a show filled with gossip, banter, and all the Justin Timberlake adoration you could ask for.

Nikki and Sara's career trajectories are very 2013 -- before landing their show on MTV, they worked their way through Comedy Central sets, coveted late night appearances, an award-winning blog, and a podcast they co-host together called You Had To Be There.

Nikki and Sara talk about relating to their teenage "demo", the 90s pop-star who made Nikki swoon, and how to craft the perfect Justin Bieber joke.

Nikki and Sara Live airs Tuesdays at 11pm on MTV.

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The Outshot: The Mind Of A Chef

Jesse goes on the record to say that while he mostly hates food shows, he loves The Mind Of A Chef, a PBS show narrated by Anthony Bourdain that focuses on Momofuku-founder David Cheng.

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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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Photo credit: Jesse Thorn

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.

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. 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: Nathan Rabin, Benjamin Nugent Author of American Nerd

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Nathan Rabin
Guests: 
Benjamin Nugent
Guests: 
Brian Heater
Guests: 
Alex Zalben

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Insane Clown Posse

Becoming an Enthusiast: Nathan Rabin on Loving Phish and ICP

Some bands thrive in the cultural middleground. You can play their music in the grocery store, and no one objects. Neither the jam band Phish nor the horrorcore hip hop duo Insane Clown Posse plays that kind of music. Each group has a rabid, devoted following of fans, and on the flip side, has inspired intense loathing. Phish's noodley covers and original songs are derided as music for druggies and hacky-sack playing college students. Insane Clown Posse and their dark, often violent music is for "Juggalos", their group of Faygo-drinking, clown makeup- wearing fans.

As a longtime culture critic and former Head Writer of The Onion's AV Club, Nathan Rabin thought he was immune to the draw of either group. Their music and communities weren't high-brow. They weren't terribly fashionable or cool. So he set out to write a kind of sociological text about the groups, and find out why they had such die-hard fans. He didn't know he would end up a convert.

Rabin's new book is You Don't Know Me, But You Don't Like Me: Phish, Insane Clown Posse, And My Adventures With Two Of Music's Most Maligned Tribes.

Rabin tells us about his psychedelic experiences at their concerts, his mental breakdown halfway through researching the book, and finding solace in music and community among Phish Heads and Juggalos.

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Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes

Comic Recommendations From Brian Heater and Alex Zalben

Brian Heater and Alex Zalben stop by to recommend their favorite graphic novels as of late.

Brian recommends Aesthetics: A Memoir by Ivan Brunetti. A self-taught artist, illustrator for the New Yorker, and currently on faculty at Columbia College Chicago, Brunetti examines his many influences and how they combined to make his unique, simple, DIY style.

Alex suggests Matt Kindt's Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes. In the town of Red Wheelbarrow, no crime gets by Detective Gould. But can this hardboiled detective connect the dots between a young woman who obsessively steals chairs, a man who carts dirt around town, and a photographer whose subject matter is others' private tragedies?

Brian Heater is the author of BoingBoing's comics column, Comics Rack. He also hosts the new podcast, Recommended if you Like.

Alex Zalben is a producer for MTV Geek and host of the Nerdist podcast Comic Book Club.

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An early "nerd" sketch on Saturday Night Live

Nerding It Up With Benjamin Nugent

This interview originally aired in 2008.

Benjamin Nugent's book American Nerd explores a people and their history. Nerds have been an archetype for decades now. But where did they come from? What is a "nerd", anyway? Benjamin Nugent set out to write a loving portrait of nerds and nerdiness -- including his own.

He talks to us about the origins of "nerds" in the humor pages of college newspapers, Saturday Night Live's first dig at nerds , and the underappreciated toughness of his nerdy friends in middle school.

Nugent released a novel, Good Kids, earlier this year.

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The Outshot: Thief

Jesse recommends the 1981 noir Thief, starring James Caan. It's a crime thriller about one last job, but it's just as much about running from loneliness as it is about running from the cops. Director Michael Mann infuses it with a cool, dark beauty unlike any robbery film you've seen.

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Bullseye With Jesse Thorn: The Directors of "Doin' It In The Park" And Mary Roach

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Bobbito Garcia
Guests: 
Kevin Couliau
Guests: 
Mary Roach
Guests: 
Shirley Caeasar
Guests: 
Sean O'Neal
Guests: 
Alex Dowd

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.

Doin' It In The Park: Pickup Basketball with Bobbito Garcia and Kevin Couliau

Kenny "The Jet" Smith was an All-American at North Carolina, first round NBA draft pick, and two-time NBA Champion with the Houston Rockets. And yet, his favorite basketball memory? The first time he was allowed to play ball on the "big court" by his apartment in Queens when he was 15 years old. Such is the power that pick-up basketball holds for New Yorkers.

Bobbito Garcia and Kevin Couliau are the filmmakers behind Doin' It In The Park, a passionate and beautiful new documentary about New York City's street basketball culture. One summer, Bobbito and Kevin jumped on their bicycles and set out to play basketball in 180 of NYC's more than 700 public outdoor courts, and talk with the diverse array of people who play there.

They talk to us about meeting the legendary playground figures, learning the history of the parks, and immersing themselves in the unique styles of play that can only be found on New York courts.

Bobbito Garcia (aka Kool Bob Love) is a street ball player and hip hop DJ. He co-founded Bounce Magazine and has been playing basketball in New York City's parks since 1973.

Kevin Couliau is a professional outdoor basketball photographer and film director. He's been playing basketball since age six.

Their film Doin' It The Park is touring the world, and is available for direct download on their website.

Click here to listen or share Doin' It in the Park with Bobbito Garcia and Kevin Couliau on Soundcloud

Shirley Caesar on The Song That Changed My Life: "The Lord Will Make a Way Somehow"

As a little girl growing up in North Carolina, the gospel song "The Lord Will Make a Way Somehow" inspired Shirley Caesar to keep trucking when times were tough. But it wasn't just a stirring piece of music. Just a few years later, that same song catapulted her from anonymity to national tours and a career of over sixty years (and counting).

Gospel singer, eleven-time Grammy winner and pastor Shirley Caesar on the song that changed her life: Thomas A. Dorsey's "The Lord Will Make A Way Somehow".

Pastor Caesar's newest album is Good God. She continues to tour nationwide.

Click here to listen or share Shirley Caesar on "The Song That Changed My Life" on Soundcloud

The AV Club Recommends: "Immunity" by Jon Hopkins and "The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceaușescu"

We are joined this week by two critics from the A.V. Club -- news editor Sean O'Neal and film editor Alex Dowd.

Sean recommends a listen to Immunity, the new album from the UK-based electronic music producer Jon Hopkins.

Alex suggests watching The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceaușescu, a fascinating documentary compiled entirely from state-sanctioned footage of Ceausescu's brutal reign as dictator of Romania. The movie is out now on DVD.

Click here to listen or share The AV Club's Recommendations on Soundcloud

In One End And Out The Other With Mary Roach

We eat food every day, but for most of us, our exposure to it is confined to the input and output. In her new book Gulp: Adventures On The Alimentary Canal, the bestselling science writer Mary Roach shares some hilarious, enlightening tales about the beginning, middle, and end of this journey, and all of the grossly fascinating science that goes along with it.

Plus, we'll talk about eating dog food and the REAL story behind Elvis' death. Yes, we went there.

Mary Roach has tackled the science behind death, sex, space travel and more in five other books, which can be found here. If you can't get enough of Mary (we definitely can't!), check out this past interview about her last book, Packing For Mars.

Click here to listen or share Mary Roach and "Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal" on Soundcloud

The Outshot: Prince's "Dirty Mind"

Prince is one of the rare artists whose name has become synonymous with an entire era of sound. Jesse explains how Prince's 1980 album Dirty Mind was the turning point in his career, marking a transformation from musician to music god.

Click here to listen or share The Outshot: Prince's Dirty Mind on Soundcloud

Bullseye With Jesse Thorn: Jackson Publick, Lemmy

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Jackson Publick
Guests: 
Lemmy
Guests: 
Jason Kottke
Guests: 
Justin McElroy
Guests: 
Travis McElroy
Guests: 
Griffin McElroy

This week: a look back at some of our favorite interviews in past years.

The Venture Bros' Co-Creator Jackson Publick on The Space Race, Motherless Characters, and Affectionate Parody

This interview originally aired in 2007.

Jackson Publick is the co-creator of the Cartoon Network [adult swim] series The Venture Bros. The show just returned for a fifth season, after a multi-year hiatus. The series is a sometimes bizarre, often surprisingly heartfelt parody of the boys' adventure genre.

Publick talks about the space race, creating affectionate parodies, and the loss of his mother (and how it shaped the fictional world of The Venture Bros).

The Venture Bros. airs Sundays at midnight on Cartoon Network's [adult swim].

Jason Kottke on Children-by-Mail and a Physics Thought Experiment

This segment originally aired in January 2013.

Jason Kottke, proprietor of Kottke.org, a collection of some of the most interesting links the internet has to offer, joins us this week to share some all-time internet picks. First, he enlightens us about the practice of sending children through the mail. He also shares a mind-bending physics thought experiment -- if an airplane moves forward on a conveyor belt that's moving in the opposite direction at the same speed, can the airplane take off?

Pop Culture Advice with My Brother, My Brother and Me

This segment originally aired in February 2012.

Our resident pop culture advice columnists, the McElroy brothers of My Brother, My Brother and Me take on questions about movie posters as art, what happens when you judge a child's abominable TV watching choices, and more.


Lemmy, center, with the Bullseye crew and videographer Ben Harrison at Stubb's BBQ at South by Southwest 2010

Motörhead's Lemmy on The Beatles, Drugs, and Creating a Signature Sound

A cut of our 2010 interview with Lemmy Kilmister at South by Southwest. Click through to see video and hear a longer cut of this interview.

Lemmy, the frontman of Motörhead, is a legend to metalheads worldwide. We spoke to him as a documentary about his life premiered at South by Southwest. Lemmy talks to us about seeing The Beatles for the very first time, how dropping acid brought him a new awareness of himself, and creating his own signature bass sound.

Lemmy, the documentary about his life from directors Wes Orshoski and Greg Olliver, is available now on DVD and Blu-ray. A new album from Motörhead is due this September.

The Outshot: Digable Planets’ Blowout Comb

This segment originally aired in June 2012.

For The Outshot this week, Jesse highlights the relaxed, harmonious hip hop sound of Digable Planets' revolutionary but commercially disastrous 1994 record Blowout Comb.
Blowout Comb has just been reissued by Light in the Attic on limited edition vinyl.

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