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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Tenacious D and José James

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Jack Black
Guests: 
Kyle Gass
Guests: 
José James

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.


Photo: Jesse Thorn

Tenacious D on their new album and animated series: 'Post-Apocalypto'

Kyle Gass and Jack Black have been together making music for over two decades now as Tenacious D. Jack's become incredibly famous as an actor, and he keeps busy – he's got two movies out this month alone.

Despite this, Tenacious D is a project Jack and Kyle love to revisit. They're releasing their first album in six years, and putting together an animated series pretty much all on their own. They voiced all the characters in the series, and Jack was also responsible for the illustrations of the series. Safe to say their going back to their DIY roots! They've gone from playing tiny clubs in Hollywood to selling out 85,000 seat stadiums – granted they were opening for Metallica – but still!

The first episode for the new animated series, "Post- Apocalypto" just dropped on Youtube – with new episodes every Friday until November 2nd. In the series, Jack and Kyle survived the apocalypse, and the world is very weird now. There are monsters everywhere and Tenacious D is on the mission to change planet earth back to the way it was before. It's silly, it's dumb, and it's really, really funny.

This week, we'll talk with The D about this exciting new chapter in their music careers. We'll dive deep into their long lasting friendship, get the scoop on how the group formed, and they'll perform a snippet from an unreleased song. Plus, find out what was Jack Black's first paid gig. The answer might surprise you.

To mark the release of the "Post-Apocalypto" album they're also kicking off a huge tour all over North America – check out the tour dates here.

Check out this interview on YouTube!


Photo: Getty Images / Eva Hambach

The Song That Changed My Life, with José James: "Love and Happiness" by Al Green

José James is a singer from Minneapolis. He works a lot in jazz - collaborating with folks like Chico Hamilton and Kris Bowers. But his collaborators go beyond jazz – into hip-hop, electronic, and soul music, too.

He'll tell us about "Love and Happiness" by Al Green. José's introduction to Al Green was through the "Pulp Fiction" soundtrack. Soon after listening to "Let's Stay Together," he fell in love with Al Green's music. But it wasn't until he heard "Love and Happiness" that something really clicked. He'll tell us how the song changed how he listened to soul music, and how it influenced how he makes music.

José James' new album, "Lean on Me," features 12 renditions from another one of his favorite soul singers – Bill Withers. The record is out now, and he'll be
hitting the road this fall
.

Check out this segment on YouTube!

Instead of The Outshot this week we're doing something a little different. It's a standup routine from the comedian Ted Alexandro. It was recorded a few weeks ago at the Comedy Cellar, in front of the same brick wall that Louis CK stood in front of when he returned to the standup stage. He talks about CK and Bill Cosby, who was recently sentenced to prison for sexual assault.

A quick warning: Ted talks frankly here about sexual assault and abuse – there isn't anything too graphic, but if those subjects are sensitive to you or inappropriate for anyone you're listening with please keep that in mind.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Metta World Peace and Cut Chemist

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Metta World Peace
Guests: 
Cut Chemist

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.


Photo: Chris Graythen / Getty Images

Metta World Peace on his new book 'No Malice: My Life in Basketball'

Throughout his 18 year career in the NBA Metta World Peace played for 6 teams, was an All Star and became an NBA champion in 2010 as a member of the Los Angeles Lakers. He was drafted in the first round in 1999 by the Chicago Bulls. As a player, he was always an elite defender. But he had a reputation for losing his cool. When it worked, it made him passionate, tough and nearly impossible to get past. But when didn't, things went south easily.

In 2004, at a game in Detroit, a hard foul between players escalated into an all out brawl between players and fans. The incident, now infamous, was called the Malice at the Palace. He's written a memoir about his life: "No Malice: My Life in Basketball." In it, he recounts his triumphs and shortcomings, including, of course, that incident in Detroit.

He's one of the most fascinating people in basketball. This week, we cover a lot of ground with him - the highs and lows of his career - the championships, the fights. He'll also talk about what it was like to grow up in Queensbridge, the biggest public housing complex in the country. And, of course, if you're a fan of his you've probably heard the story about the first time he met Kobe Bryant in a shower - but did it really go down the way people say? The answer might surprise you.

Check out this interview on YouTube!


Photo: Frazer Harrison/Getty Images

The Song That Changed My Life, with Cut Chemist: Park Bench People by Freestyle Fellowship

Lucas McFadden is a DJ and producer, best known for co-founding the iconic underground hip-hop group Jurassic 5. If you ever catch him spinning records on a turntable he does so under the name Cut Chemist.

He'll tell us about "Park Bench People" by Freestyle Fellowship. The Fellowship was a boundary-defying underground crew fronted by MC's Myka 9 and Aceyalone. Find out how the song changed his idea of what hip-hop could be.

Cut Chemist's first record in 12 years drop earlier this year, it's called "Die Cut." The album features collaborations with musicians like Chali 2na, Mr. Lif, Biz Markie, and his hero - Myka 9.

Check out this segment on YouTube!


Photo: Courtesy of the Ed Roberts Campus

The Outshot: The Life of Ed Roberts

This week, Jesse pays tribute to Ed Roberts, a pioneering leader in the disability rights movement. In the late 80's, Jesse's father worked for Ed, and they were best friends. Jesse reflects on his dad, and his dad's friend, and those memories from his childhood.

Check out this Outshot on YouTube!

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Emily Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani of The Big Sick & Allison Janney

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Kumail Nanjiani
Guests: 
Emily Gordon
Guests: 
Allison Janney

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.


Photo: Jesse Thorn

Emily Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani on writing a romcom based on their lives

[R]Emily Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani co-wrote the Judd Apatow produced romantic comedy The Big Sick. It's a sweet, hilarious and truthful story about how the two of them fell in love, tossing all of the classic romantic comedy tropes out of the window. Kumail and Emily come from really different backgrounds; Kumail's from Pakistan. Emily: North Carolina. The film tells their story of finding each other after navigating Kumail's family's traditional views on marriage and an illness that almost breaks them apart.

Before Emily Gordon was writing screenplays and making films, she was a therapist, working with mentally challenged individuals. After over 5 years working as a therapist, she realized that she needed to change careers, moving on to writing full time, and contributing to online and print magazines.

Most people know Kumail Nanjiani as Dinesh on Mike Judge's HBO hit, Silicon Valley. He's also been on Broad City, Newsreaders, and voices characters on Adventure Time. He has been a stand-up comic for a long time and in 2013, got a Comedy Central stand up special called Beta Male.

Jesse, Kumail, and Emily talk about what it was like making a movie about their real life relationship, and about the changes that were made from the first draft to the one that we see in cinemas. They also talk about learning to let go of their story to other people in the creative group, and the first time they showed the movie to their parents.

Emily also wrote a self-help book for superheroes called Super You: Release Your Inner Super Hero. Also, don't forget to watch Kumail's Beta Male for a solid 40 minutes of laughter.

Click here to listen to Jesse's interview with Emily Gordon and Kumail Nanjiani!

This segment originally aired in July of 2017

Loic Venance /AFP/Getty Images

The Song That Changed my Life: Director Michel Gondry

There's a certain kind of feeling to the director Michel Gondry's films. A little bit of happiness mixed with sadness. Nostalgia for something that you experienced, or maybe something you wish you had experienced. You may have felt it watching Eternal Sunshine of the Spotless Mind, The Science of Sleep, or Mood Indigo.

For "The Song That Changed My Life", Gondry describes the feeling of saudade and how he felt watching Nico Ferrer perform the song "Le Sud" on a Saturday night.

Michel's currently working on a big new project - it's a TV series called Kidding and it's set to star Catherine Keener, Jim Carrey, Frank Langella and more. It'll be on Showtime later this year.

Click here to listen to this segment on YouTube!

This segment originally aired in 2014

Alberto E. Rodriguez/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Allison Janney on her career from Loose Cannon Sitcom 'Mom' to Intimate Drama in 'Masters of Sex'

If you've seen Allison Janney on television lately, it's been in one of two very different roles. On the Showtime series Masters of Sex, Janney played as a somewhat naive, vulnerable 1950s housewife who experiences a breakthrough after many years in a sexless (but not loveless) marriage. Her story is both heartbreaking and hopeful. In the CBS sitcom Mom, she plays Bonnie, a recovering alcoholic who's outrageous, biting, and very funny. Bonnie's been down, but she's making peace with her estranged daughter and getting her life back together. Janney's characterizations are versatile; they allow her to be warm, steely, confident, and thin-skinned by turns. Janney has won Emmys for both roles. She's just been nominated for her first Academy Award ever for her role in I, Tonya, the Tonya Harding biopic.

She spoke to us in 2014 about her early acting days (including auditioning for an intimidatingly handsome Paul Newman), getting comfortable with the inevitable nude scenes for Masters of Sex, and the ways that her mom's background and brother's struggle with addiction gave her insight and empathy for her current roles.

Click here to listen to Allison Janney's interview on YouTube!

The Outshot: Orson Welles and 'Touch of Evil'

Jesse explains why the last Hollywood picture Orson Welles directed, Touch of Evil, tells us so much about Welles as an artist.

Click here to listen to Jesse's Outshot on YouTube!

This segment originally aired in 2014

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Errol Morris & Merrill Garbus of Tune-Yards

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Errol Morris
Guests: 
Merrill Garbus

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in Apple Podcasts or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

Photo: Jesse Thorn

Errol Morris on his new Netflix "hybrid" documentary series 'Wormwood'

Errol Morris is a legendary filmmaker with dozens of tv and film credits. In 2004, his film "The Fog of War" won an Oscar for best documentary film. Perhaps Morris is best known for his unique interview style, and his invention of the interrotron, which allows his subjects to see him while they are being filmed straight on. And of course, he is known for yelling questions off screen to his subjects.

Morris has a way of painting portraits of people in his films that's incredibly vulnerable. A perfect example of this is his first documentary "Gates of Heaven" released in 1978. It’s a film about pet cemeteries, and the connection people feel to their deceased pets. The documentary told through interviews of pet owners, and it's unnarrated. Some of his films, like "The Thin Blue Line" try to find objective truth. That film ultimately helped secure a innocent man's freedom from prison.

His films are nuanced, they're funny, they're tragic, and always fascinating. His latest project is a six-part miniseries for Netflix called "Wormwood." The series explores the CIA LSD experiments in the late 1950's, and the effects on a man named Frank Olson, a CIA employee and biochemist, who inexplicably jumped out a window to his death from a New York Hotel room in 1953. The story is mostly told through interviews of Frank’s son, Eric, who's worked for years to uncover the truth. The series is kind of a departure for Errol's signature style -- it blends dramatic reenactments and real life interviews.

Errol sits down with Jesse and they discuss the nature of truth, camera angles, and his new documentary, "Wormwood."

Listen to Errol's interview on YouTube!

Photo via Flickr Creative Commons:
Jason Perss

Song That Changed My Life: Merrill Garbus of the band Tune-Yards

Merrill Garbus of the band Tune-Yards on the song that changed her life -- "Moliva" by Johnny Clegg. Tune-Yards will be touring this Spring, and their new album "I Can Feel You Creep Into My Private Life" will be released on January 19. For more information visit their website.

Listen to this segment on YouTube!

The Outshot: The Commitments

Finally, for this week's Outshot: "The Commitments." Jesse tells us about a film his father and stepmother loved. Jesse never saw the film as a teenager. Few weeks ago, Jesse bought the VHS tape at a thrift store, and it turns out his dad and my stepmother had every right to love the 1991 film "The Commitments."

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: W. Kamau Bell, Mike Birbiglia and Eleni Mandell

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
W. Kamau Bell
Guests: 
Jason Kottke
Guests: 
Mike Birbiglia
Guests: 
Eleni Mandell


Jason Kottke With the Best of the Web: Dr. Seuss the Ad Man, and Sports Fans After Death

Jason Kottke, from one of our favorite repositories of web links, Kottke.org, joins us to tell us about his favorite stuff on the web right now. First we talk about Dr. Seuss's past as an ad man, then we tackle Errol Morris' new short film Team Spirit

(Embed or share this segment with Jason Kottke)


Comedian W. Kamau Bell on the Sweet Spot of Gentrification, the TV Talk Show World, and More

W. Kamau Bell wants to talk to you about race. And about urban inequality, and politics, and Spider Man too. He came to his own brand of sociopolitical comedy after working as a comic for years, eventually shaping his work into a one-man show in which he promised to "end racism in about an hour."
A lucky break with an audience member at one of those shows – Chris Rock, to be precise – landed Bell his own TV talk show, called Totally Biased. He joins us to talk about transitioning into the talk show world, the sweet spot of gentrication, and remaining true to his own comedic voice.
Totally Biased airs Thursday nights at 11pm on FX.

(Embed or share this interview with W. Kamau Bell)


Singer-Songwriter Eleni Mandell on the Song that Changed her Life

Singer-songwriter Eleni Mandell had one of those experiences as a kid that was a hallmark of experiencing music before the internet. She heard a song she liked, went out to the record store, and picked an album by the same artist. The problem? It sounded totally uncool, and not at all like the song she'd heard. It did, however, open her up to a whole new way of listening to music.
Eleni talks to us about the song that changed her life, Tom Waits' "Tom Traubert's Blues." Eleni grew up in Los Angeles loving both punk rockers X and folk rocker Bob Dylan, and her own music mixes airy vocals with 60s pop, country, and folk sounds.

Her newest album is I Can See the Future. She's headed out on tour this month with Nick Lowe. You can those dates and more about her at EleniMandell.com

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Mike Birbiglia on the Miracle of Actually Making a Movie

Mike Birbiglia knows his own story pretty well by now. After struggling as a stand up, he started working some personal details from his life into his comedy. Some of it was pretty standard, like wrapping his head around the idea of getting married to his longtime girlfriend. And some of it was less familiar stuff, like running out of a window while sleepwalking.

Birbiglia went on to transform these thoughts into a one-man show, a book, and now, a movie. And although talking about the subject matter was second nature, directing a movie about it was not. He joins us to discuss being a first-time director, the difficulty of delivering stand up in a casual, easy way, and why he considered long-lasting marriage to be a totally foreign concept.

Sleepwalk With Me is in theaters nationwide.

(Embed or share this interview with Mike Birbiglia)


The Outshot: Winning Time

Jesse recommends the new ESPN documentary Winning Time: Reggie Miller vs. the New York Knicks for a look at a volatile shooting guard, an intense basketball rivalry, and some courtside conversations with Spike Lee.

(Embed or share The Outshot: Winning Time)

Are you a sports fanatic with a favorite doc? Head on over to the MaxFun forum and pick your own Outshot.

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BULLSEYE: Dan Deacon on "The Song That Changed My Life"

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Baltimore-based musician Dan Deacon talks about why a player piano composition by Conlon Nancarrow changed his life and the way he made music.

Dan Deacon, The Song That Changed My Life by Bullseye with Jesse Thorn

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