pop culture

Pop Rocket: Episode 10 New Music, Inappropriate Movies & Kimmy Schmidt

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Wynter, Guy, Margaret and Oliver
Guests: 
Guy Branum
Guests: 
Wynter Mitchell
Guests: 
Margaret Wappler
Guests: 
Oliver Wang

We share our first inappropriate movie experiences, chat Grey Gardens, frat racism and The Unbreakable Kimmy Schmidt, plus Wynter ranks the Hemsworth Brothers and Margaret takes us through a discussion of where we’re all going to discover new music.

With Guy Branum, Wynter Mitchell, Oliver Wang and Margaret Wappler.

That’s My Jam:

Wynter Mitchell - Going Back to Cali by The Notorious BIG
Oliver Wang - Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah Blah by Saun and Starr
Margaret Wappler - Arabic 60s/70s Vinyl Mix Part 2 by Jannis of Jakarta Records
Guy Branum - You’re So Beautiful (White Party Version)(feat. Jessie Smollett) from the TV show Empire

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 on the MaxFun forum, our Facebook group or via @PRPod on Twitter.

Pop Rocket: Kanye, McCartney and Coachella

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Guests: 
Guy Branum
Guests: 
Wynter Mitchell
Guests: 
Santina Muha
Guests: 
Margaret Wappler

For our debut episode, Guy Branum is joined by digital strategist Wynter Mitchell, comedian Santina Muha and journalist Margaret Wappler. We talk about the new Kanye/McCartney collaboration, the just-announced Coachella line-up, plus we’ll share our latest jams and vote on who’s consumed the most shameful media over the the past week.

Theme music by Osymyso.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: The Pointer Sisters

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Show: 
Bullseye

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.

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The Pointer Sisters Get Excited (About Music, Clothes, and More)

The Pointer Sisters have always been musical chameleons. They had huge dance-pop hits in the 1980s, like "I'm So Excited" and "Jump (For My Love)", but at that point they had already found success in genres from jazz to R&B to disco, and even won a Grammy for their country hit, "Fairytale". The sisters grew up in Oakland, California and were taught by their reverend father that rock and roll was 'the devil's work'. However, when their parents weren't around, they snuck in listening sessions to Elvis, The Supremes, and James Brown.

Sisters Bonnie and June Pointer formed the earliest incarnation of the group in 1969, joined within several years by Ruth and Anita. They recorded their debut self-titled album in 1973, and the single "Yes We Can Can" became their first hit. They went on to record more hits over the next few decades, including "How Long (Betcha' Got a Chick on the Side)", a cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Fire", and "He's So Shy".

Ruth and Anita Pointer join us for a wild and entertaining interview about their signature vintage style, forging their own musical path, and mixing family with business.

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Pop Culture Happy Hour Talks About Letters to Boys and Anthropomorphic Ants

Linda Holmes and Glen Weldon of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour stop by to recommend a couple of their current favorite new books.

What if instead of pretending your teenage love letters never existed... you published them, and let the world take a look? Linda recommends the new memoir Notes to Boys: And Other Things I Shouldn't Share in Public, by Pamela Ribon. Ribon spent much of her free time in high school penning over-the-top notes to her crushes, and provides original drafts, with asides from her adult self.

Glen recommends the new graphic novel Ant Colony by Michael DeForge -- a debut novel that's psychedelic, surreal, darkly funny, and definitely not for kids.

You can hear Glen and Linda weekly on the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast, and find Linda's writing on NPR's Monkey See blog.

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Bobby Lopez on The Song That Changed My Life: "Pure Imagination"

Think of a song you know by heart. A song that's been in your life for such a long time, you don't even remember when you first heard it. Maybe it was in your favorite movie as a kid.

Bobby Lopez writes those kind of songs. He's a composer for musicals and movies, and co-created the hit Broadway shows The Book of Mormon and Avenue Q. Most recently, he's teamed up with his wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez to write for Disney's Frozen. The pair's songs have inspired movie singalongs and a score of YouTube covers, and their breakout hit Let It Go, is nominated for an Oscar.

This week, Bobby shares the song that changed his life: the inspiring and magical Pure Imagination, from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

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The Outshot: The Muppet Movie

Why do folks get into showbiz? If you think it's all to get attention, fame, or money, let The Muppet Movie show you why you're wrong.

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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.

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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: Bubba Sparxxx and Ian MacKaye

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Bubba Sparxxx
Guests: 
Ian MacKaye
Guests: 
Linda Holmes
Guests: 
Glen Weldon
Guests: 
Megan Mullally
Guests: 
Stephanie Hunt

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.

Bubba Sparxxx on Schoolyard Rap Battles, Overcoming Addiction and Country-Hip Hop Fusion

Bubba Sparxxx defines his life as a cycle of "falling down and getting back up." He’s a white rapper from the South who you may know for his hit with the Ying Yang Twins, "Ms. New Booty," -- or perhaps you remember his debut single from 2001, "Ugly".

Sparxxx grew up in a rural area near LaGrange, Georgia, where he was no stranger to the occasional schoolyard rap battle. After high school, he made the move to Athens, Georgia with hip hop ambitions and, eventually, released the album Dark Days Bright Nights with the help of record producers Timbaland and Organized Noize. His next two albums, Deliverance and The Charm, established his commercial success and Sparxxx became known as a rapper who could effectively blend country and hip-hop.

However, after The Charm’s release in 2006, Sparxxx stayed relatively silent for the next seven years. He appeared on a couple Girls Gone Wild DVDs, rumors surfaced of his troubles with the IRS and he struggled with drug addiction. With the release of Pain Management in 2013, he came back on the hip hop scene with a fresh perspective. On the album, Sparxxx returns to his small town roots with songs like the celebratory "Country Folks" and the nostalgic "LaGrange," proving that, after a long fall down, he can always get back up.

His newest album, Pain Management is out now.

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Pop Culture Happy Hour on Deadpan Satire and Early John Cusack

Glen Weldon and Linda Holmes of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour stop by to share some of their all-time favorite comedies.

Glen recommends the 1992 film Careful, directed by Guy Maddin, which is partly a parody of the German mountaineering films of the ‘20’s and ‘30’s. It’s set in the fictional town of Tolzbad, where the townspeople, petrified of starting a devastating avalanche, supress their emotions to live as quietly as possible.

Linda’s pick is The Sure Thing, a 1985 comedy directed by Rob Reiner. It stars a pre-Say Anything John Cusack who hits the road in an effort to reach a "sure thing".

You can hear Glen and Linda weekly on the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast, and find Linda’s writing on NPR’s Monkey See blog.

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I Wish I’d Made That: "Singin’ in the Rain" and "The Music Box" with Megan Mullally and Stephanie Hunt

Have you ever listened to a song or watched a movie so exceptionally perfect that you thought "I wish I’d made that!"? We’ve been there too. In this segment, we talk to creative people about the works that inspired them, and maybe inspired a little envy too.

This week, we caught up with Megan Mullally (Will & Grace) and Stephanie Hunt to talk about the things they wish they’d made: a Laurel and Hardy short called The Music Box and a classic scene from Singin’ in the Rain.

We caught up with Megan and Stephanie at Tenacious D’s Festival Supreme where they performed in their band Nancy and Beth.

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Ian MacKaye of Minor Threat & Fugazi: Love for Ted Nugent, His First Show, and Punk Ethics

As a member of Fugazi and Minor Threat, Ian MacKaye made history in the punk rock world. Fugazi’s DIY ethics made a lasting impression on the music industry and Minor Threat’s song "Straight Edge" managed to start a movement, even though it was never MacKaye’s intention.

He grew up in Washington D.C. in the late ‘70s and early ‘80s. Back then, it wasn’t a city known for its rock scene. That didn’t stop him from teaming up with drummer Jeff Nelson to form the band Minor Threat, which would go on to have a profound and lasting impact on hardcore punk. Although the band was short-lived (1980-83), it was enough to start a movement. MacKaye coined the term "straight edge," which referred to a punk rocker who abstains from drugs and alcohol. Eventually, a subculture formed around the concept and individuals who wanted to listen to their music with a clear head began calling themselves "straight edge".

Later in his career, he formed Fugazi, a band which would go on to make six studio albums and had a pretty unique approach to touring practices. The group would travel cross-country, rarely charging more than five or ten dollars for a show as a reaction to the uncontrollable greed of the music industry.

This week, Jesse revisits his 2009 interview, conducted live on stage with MacKaye. They’ll talk about the MacKaye's roots in D.C., his lasting legacy, and why he loves to work.

MacKaye is a co-founder and owner of Dischord Records and currently sings and plays baritone guitar in The Evens.

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The Outshot: Anchorman 2: The Legend Continues

Every now and then, a movie comes along that’s so quotable and unexpectedly funny that it begs for a sequel...but it doesn’t get one. After nine long years, it looked like Adam McKay and Will Ferrell’s Anchorman wouldn't return with its own brand of special weirdness.

This week, Jesse This week, Jesse explains why you should make your way out to the multiplex.

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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

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.

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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