pop culture

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: Roman Mars and Boots Riley, Live at SF Sketchfest

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Roman Mars
Guests: 
Boots Riley
Guests: 
Steve Agee
Guests: 
Peter Hartlaub

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!

This week, a live recording of Bullseye, held at the Punchline Comedy Club as part of SF Sketchfest.


From 1978's Invasion of the Body Snatchers

Peter Hartlaub Recommends San Francisco on Film: "The Conversation" and "Invasion of the Body Snatchers"

The San Francisco Chronicle's pop culture critic, Peter Hartlaub, joins us to share some of his favorite San Francisco films.

He recommends Francis Ford Coppola's The Conversation for its realistic depiction of San Francisco, as well as the 1978 version of Invasion of the Body Snatchers, which, in spite of its terrifying story, might give San Francisco's public transit planners some food for thought.

Peter Hartlaub writes for the San Francisco Chronicle and blogs about pop culture at The Big Event.

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Roman Mars on 99% Invisible, Public Media and Crowd-Funding

You'd think that it'd be almost impossible to tell stories about architecture and design in a completely invisible medium, but Roman Mars makes it work. The public radio host and producer's stories show that design is everywhere – he's produced stories about the unintentional music of escalators, failed prison designs, and reclusive monks who make the best beer in the world.

These stories are all a part of 99% Invisible, "a tiny radio show about design" that Roman hosts and produces. The show is truly tiny; it airs for only five minutes on a handful of public radio stations, including KALW. But the podcast is another story. Episodes of the podcast version of 99% Invisible are longer and more detailed – and they reach a much larger audience. Last year, Roman led a massive Kickstarter campaign to fund the show's third season. Fans gave more than $170,000, making it the most successful journalism Kickstarter to date.

Roman joins Jesse onstage to discuss his theory of creativity, his reasons for exchanging his dream of becoming a scientist for a career in public radio, and his Doogie Houser-esque college experience.

99% Invisible is available on iTunes and Soundcloud. You can follow Roman on Twitter at @RomanMars.

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Comedy: Steve Agee on Movie Trivia in the Pre-Internet Age

Why did God invent the internet? Steve Agee has an idea. It's probably not what you think.

Steve Agee is a writer, actor, and standup comedian. He's a former writer for Jimmy Kimmel Live! and appeared as Steve Myron on the beloved Sarah Silverman Program.

You can follow him on Twitter at @SteveAgee.

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The Coup's Boots Riley on Merging Music with Social Activism, and What to Learn From Telemarketing

Boots Riley's life has always been about change, and never about complacency. He was already an leftist activist in high school, staging walkouts on school grounds, and he followed his parents' lead into community organizing. He was immersed in rap and hip hop in his hometown of Oakland, California, but didn't make the connection between the power of music and activism for several years.

Boots has fronted the hip hop group The Coup for over two decades as an MC and producer, and the group's positive, funky, and danceable music is still clearly message-driven in 2013. Their lyrics confront injustice, police brutality, and the rise of corporatism with aggressive wit. The group released a new album, Sorry to Bother You, late last year.

Boots talked to us about why he thinks an active engagement with world makes life worth living, finding humor in the disturbing reality of poverty and injustice, and what he learned from his time in, of all things, telemarketing.

BONUS AUDIO: Boots and his longtime collaborator Eric McFadden performed several songs live on stage. You can listen and share those tracks here.

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The Outshot: "I Got Five On it" by The Luniz

What says "Bay Area" to you? For Jesse, it's all about I Got 5 On It by the Luniz – specifically, the Bay Ballers remix.

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Judge John Hodgman Episode 64: A Quashed Plot Never Spoils

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Note: Are you spoiler sensitive? Judge Hodgman discusses key plot points for several shows and movies, including season one of Game of Thrones. Be warned, and be ready to turn down your volume.

Adam brings this case against his friend and roommate Andrew. Andrew finally convinced Adam to start watching a favorite show – Breaking Bad. However, Adam feels an off-handed comment made by Andrew spoiled part of his viewing experience. How soon is too soon for spoilers? And what detail is significant enough to be considered a spoiler? Only one man can decide. SPOILER ALERT – it’s Judge John Hodgman.

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Culture: AV Club Picks for May 2011 on The Sound of Young America

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Nathan Rabin
Guests: 
Josh Modell

AV Club Head Writer Nathan Rabin and Managing Editor AV Josh Modell bring us their current pop culture picks!

This month:

JESSE THORN: It's The Sound of Young America, I'm Jesse Thorn. Once a month or so we like to check in with our friends at the AV Club. They help us separate from the wheat from the chaff of popular culture. Here with some picks for this month are Nathan Rabin, the AV Club's head writer, and Josh Modell, the managing editor. Nathan, Josh, welcome back to The Sound of Young America.

NATHAN RABIN: Thanks for having us.

Click here for a full transcript.

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