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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Ishmael Butler, Allison Janney & Michel Gondry

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Ishmael Butler
Guests: 
Allison Janney
Guests: 
Michel Gondry
Guests: 
Todd Martens

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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Ishmael Butler on the Short Life of Digable Planets and the Cosmic Hip Hop of Shabazz Palaces

In the early 1990s, the hip hop group Digable Planets broke through with their single "Rebirth of Slick (Cool Like Dat)". The single was jazzy and laid-back, and became a crossover hit. The trio were pegged by some as a counterpoint to gangsta rap, but they didn't love the efforts to categorize their sound. They went further on their next boundary-pushing release, the classic record Blowout Comb. The album was critically acclaimed, but didn't sell well, and the group drifted apart shortly afterward.

Founding member Ishmael Butler was only in his mid 20s when Digable Planets broke up. And so he tried other things, like filmmaking. He still made music, but the releases were few and far between. About five years ago, he teamed up with Tendai Maraire to form a new group called Shabazz Palaces.

Shabazz Palaces' new release is called Lese Majesty, and it expands on their interstellar sound.

Butler spoke to us about his days as a indie label gopher, the awkward audition Digable Planets had to endure for a record company executive, and the the transformative sounds of Shabazz Palaces.

Todd Martens Recommends Pop-Punk and Garage Rock: the Muffs and Twin Peaks

Is there still good pop-punk out there? What's the musical equivalent of a drunk text? Music critic Todd Martens of the Los Angeles Times stops by to answer both of those questions!

He recommends a listen to two new albums: the Muffs' first release in ten years, Whoop Dee Doo, and a new record from Chicago garage rockers Twin Peaks called Wild Onion.

You can find Todd's writing in the LA Times and on their blog, Pop and Hiss.


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"The Song That Changed my Life": Director Michel Gondry Gets Nostalgic for "Le Sud" by Nico Ferrer

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 his new film 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.

Gondry's new film Mood Indigo is a fantastical story of love and loss, starring Audrey Tatou and Romain Duris. You can find it in theaters now.

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Allison Janney, 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 guest stars 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 is currently nominated for Emmys for both roles; 'Outstanding Guest Actress in a Drama' for Masters of Sex, and 'Outstanding Supporting Actress in a Comedy' for Mom.

She spoke to us 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.

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.

Wham Bam Pow Ep. 63 - Lucy

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Show: 
Wham Bam Pow

This week, Rhea and Ricky deconstruct Lucy -- apparently the larger the percentage of your brain you use, the less interesting you become as a character! Plus the hilarious and charming Nathan Rabin of The Dissolve stops by to share the Movie That Made Him, and Rhea and Ricky go head to head regarding the possibility of a Ghostbusters III.

Be sure to check out Nathan's writing at The Dissolve! Here's his piece on Magnolia, which we're all completely jazzed about.

Next week, we will be watching Guardians of the Galaxy, which is in theaters now.

Follow us on Twitter! Cameron is @cameronesposito, Rhea is @rheabutcher and Ricky is @rickycarmona. Discuss the show using the hashtag #WhamBamPow!

Don't forget about our Facebook and Tumblr pages. You can also email us at whambampow@maximumfun.org

Wham Bam Pow Ep. 62 - Snowpiercer

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Show: 
Wham Bam Pow
Guests: 
Eliza Skinner

This week Eliza Skinner, one of our very favorite stand-up comedians, joins us as a guest panelist! We talk Wonder Woman news, Eliza shares the movie that made her, and we delve into Snowpiercer. Hope you like perpetually moving trains!

Don't miss Eliza's amazing video, Mary Poppins Quits!

Next week, we will be watching Lucy, which is in theaters now.

Follow us on Twitter! Cameron is @cameronesposito, Rhea is @rheabutcher and Ricky is @rickycarmona. Discuss the show using the hashtag #WhamBamPow!

Don't forget about our Facebook and Tumblr pages. You can also email us at whambampow@maximumfun.org

Wham Bam Pow Ep. 61 - Stolen

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Show: 
Wham Bam Pow
Guests: 
Jake Fogelnest

This week, Rhea and Ricky take a look at Nicolas Cage’s send up to Taken, Stolen. Are you pro-Cage or con-Cage? Plus, Jake Fogelnest shares the Movie That Made Him and discusses the incident that ignited his fear of signal hijacking.

Check out Jake's videos on Funny or Die, and be sure to subscribe to his podcast (slated to return from hiatus soon!), The Fogelnest Files.

Next week, we will be watching Snowpiercer, which is in theaters and available on demand now.

Follow us on Twitter! Cameron is @cameronesposito, Rhea is @rheabutcher and Ricky is @rickycarmona. Discuss the show using the hashtag #WhamBamPow!

Don't forget about our Facebook and Tumblr pages. You can also email us at whambampow@maximumfun.org

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Hari Kondabolu & Jake Kasdan

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Hari Kondabolu
Guests: 
Jake Kasdan
Guests: 
Carolyn Kellogg

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.

Hari Kondabolu: 'Waiting for 2042' and Stand Up Comedy with Required Reading

Hari Kondabolu is a stand up comedian. You might have seen him on Totally Biased with W. Kamau Bell. He's also performed stand up on Conan, Jimmy Kimmel Live, and The Late Show with David Letterman.

Hari didn't think he would be a comedian. He thought that he was going to law school. Then somewhere between taking an Americorps Job organizing immigrants in Seattle and taking the LSAT, things changed direction. He transitioned into stand-up comedy.

Hari talks to us about the unique profile of his fans, how he fits into the "alternative" comedy scene, and how he actually got into a discussion about the racism of Apu from The Simpsons with Hank Azaria -- the real voice of Apu.

His debut album, Waiting for 2042, is available now through BandCamp and iTunes.

Carolyn Kellogg Talks Westerns

Every week we like to check in with one of our favorite culture critics to get some recommendations of things that are worth your time. This week, Los Angeles Times book critic Carolyn Kellogg stops by to talk about some of her all-time favorite westerns, starting with one that broke the mold.

Her first recommendation is Cormac McCarthy's All the Pretty Horses.

Kellogg also recommends Patrick DeWitt's The Sisters Brothers.

Jason Kempin / Getty Images / Getty Images Entertainment

Jake Kasdan on Directing Jason Segel, Strategic Nudity, and His Unintentional Return to Television

Jake Kasdan grew up in the movie business. His father is Lawrence Kasdan, who wrote two Star Wars films, an Indiana Jones movie, and both wrote and directed The Big Chill. And Jake's been no slouch, either. He directed his first film, Zero Effect, when he was only 24. He's gone on to work on a slew of other projects, from critically acclaimed cult shows like Freaks and Geeks, to the beloved sitcom New Girl, to the hugely commercially successful film Bad Teacher.

His new movie is Sex Tape, which sees Jason Segel and Cameron Diaz re-teamed as a married couple who accidentally release an intimate home video to the internet.

Kasdan talks about his years working with Jason Segel, the strategy involved in shooting a movie that has both feelings and (comedic) nudity, and how he unintentionally returned to working in television on New Girl.

Sex Tape is in theaters now.

The Outshot: The Everyday Wonder of 'American Splendor'

Jesse explains why Harvey Pekar makes putting one foot in front of the other feel like something special.

Wham Bam Pow Ep. 60 - Dawn of the Planet of the Apes

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Wham Bam Pow

This week, we review this summer's hottest sci-fi flick about primates that wake up early, Dawn of the Planet of the Apes! Plus, Rhea and Cameron chat about animals in movies and discuss some recent news regarding women in popular culture.

Next week, we will be watching Stolen, which is available now on Netflix Watch Instant.

Follow us on Twitter! Cameron is @cameronesposito, Rhea is @rheabutcher and Ricky is @rickycarmona. Discuss the show using the hashtag #WhamBamPow!

Don't forget about our Facebook and Tumblr pages. You can also email us at whambampow@maximumfun.org

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Nat Faxon, Mimi Pond & Werner Herzog

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Nat Faxon
Guests: 
Mark Frauenfelder
Guests: 
Werner Herzog
Guests: 
Mimi Pond

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.

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"It read like an independent movie": Nat Faxon on the Dark Comedy of 'Married'

Nat Faxon is an actor. You maybe saw him on Ben and Kate. He co-wrote the Oscar-winning script for The Descendants, which starred George Clooney, and also co-directed and co-wrote The Way Way Back. Faxon's been working as an actor since the early 2000s. Mostly in bit parts, the sidekick, the comic relief. Now he's got a leading role on Married, a new comedy on FX.

Married is a dark comedy about a married couple, played by Faxon and Judy Greer. The couple has been together for ten years and is growing apart, tugged in separate directions by their children, a lack of steady unemployment, and uncertain finances.

Faxon talks about how the show relates to his real-life married life, why he enjoys just being an actor instead of running the show, and the uncomfortable situation in which he first met George Clooney.

Married premieres this Thursday on FX.

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Mark Frauenfelder Recommends: 'Forbidden Island' and 'Citizen Keane'

This week's recommendations come from BoingBoing founder and Gweek host Mark Frauenfelder.

He suggests checking out Forbidden Island, a co-operative game. It's a simple premise: collect four treasures from a sinking island.

He also recommends Citizen Keane: The Big Lies Behind the Big Eyes, a biography about the sketchy past of Walter and Margaret Keane, the couple who painted the kitschy pop-art paintings of teary, big-eyed children.

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

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Werner Herzog on "The Day I Became an Artist". Spoiler: There Isn't One!

It’s fair to say that Werner Herzog is a one-of-a-kind filmmaker. He’s made critically-acclaimed documentaries, like Grizzly Man and Cave of Forgotten Dreams. And some art-house staples like Fitzcarraldo. But he also made Bad Lieutenant: Port of Call New Orleans -- where a crack-smoking Nicholas Cage has hallucinations of iguanas and a breakdancing Mafioso. And don’t forget that Herzog was the SUBJECT of a film called Werner Herzog Eats His Shoe.

So, it should come as no surprise that there wasn't one day when he became an artist. He sort of always knew. He tells us about growing up in Bavaria, how walking the Albanian border taught him more than film school ever could, and why he just wasn't impressed by the first moving images he saw.

Werner Herzog has a new Blu-Ray boxset coming out later this month from Shout! Factory. It collects sixteen of his earliest films -- most of them on Blu-Ray for the first time. It's called Herzog: The Collection.

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Diners, Drugs, and Punk Rock: Mimi Pond on 'Over Easy'

Mimi Pond was an art school dropout in 1970s Oakland, and she was trying to figure out what to be. She walked into a diner and asked for a job application. Instead of a resume, the manager asked her to tell him a joke. She got the job. Her new graphic novel and fictionalized memoir, Over Easy, is based on her time waiting tables at said diner.

Pond found herself surrounded by storage room sex, assorted sniffables, and a cast of characters so big she couldn't fit them all in her memoir.

She discusses why she always knew she'd be a cartoonist (even as a kid), the mastermind and hiring manager behind the "anarchic punk opera" that was her workplace, and the very specific, improvisational nature of waiting tables.

Her book is out now.

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The Outshot: Vegetables, Swimming Pools, and Good Vibrations

The Beach Boys had a lot on the line in 1967. How do you follow up huge commercial hits like "Surfin' USA" and "Barbara Ann", and the experimental, influential Pet Sounds? Jesse explains why 1967's Smiley Smile is great all on its own.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Fred Willard & Vocoders with Dave Tompkins

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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.

Fred Willard on his comedic beginnings, playing the clueless buffoon, and working with Christopher Guest

For over fifty years, Fred Willard played ignorant, self-absorbed buffoons that are impossible not to laugh at. He's a master improviser and comedian who started with his comedy duo, Greco and Willard, and moved on to work with the Second City and improv groups The Committee and the Ace Trucking Company. Today, he's probably best known and loved as one of Christopher Guest's troupe in films like Waiting For Guffman and Best In Show.

Willard tells us about drag-performances in his military school, the real life inspiration for his improvised comedy, and being the exact opposite of the happy-go-lucky optimists he plays on screen. (This segment originally aired in August 2013)

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Eleni Mandell on "Tom Traubert's Blues": The Song That Changed My 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 "Let's Fly a Kite" is available now.
(This segment originally aired in September 2012)

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Todd Martens recommends two perennial favorite albums by Material Issue and Wilco.

Beyond interesting conversations with people in culture, we like to tell you about interesting cultural stuff. There's so much stuff out there, you don't have time to listen to everything. That's why we've brought in Todd Martens, who writes about music for the LA Times, to tell you about two albums you can dive into without hesitation.

Martens recommends Material Issue's 1991 album, International Pop Overthrow, a combination of cynicism and ideals.

He also recommends the album Summerteeth by Wilco, an album which explores a different side of Wilco.

You can find Martens' writing in the L.A. Times or on their music blog, Pop and Hiss.

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The power of a robot voice: Dave Tompkins talks vocoders, talk boxes, and how they changed music

You may not know it, but when you talk on your cell phone, you're using technology that was first developed for the vocoder. Bell Labs invented the vocoder to make long distance calls cheaper. But it had another application in World War II, when we used it to encode Allied messages.

The vocoder was in large part an analog machine, but it was also one of the first digitizations of speech. It broke down speech into its constituent parts, its separate frequencies, to create the codes. The technology that was in that huge code-making vocoder in 1944, twenty or twenty five years later, became a musical instrument.

Dave Tompkins is the author of How to Wreck a Nice Beach -- which is the way you might hear the phrase “How To Recognize Speech” if it were rendered through a vocoder. The book describes how the vocoder was created to guard phones from codebreakers during World War II, and soon became a voice-altering tool for musicians. Tompkins talks about how the vocoder changed music, the technology behind it, and some examples of music using a vocoder.
(This segment originally aired on The Sound of Young America in October 2010)

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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.
(This segment originally aired in July 2013)

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Wham Bam Pow Ep. 59 - World War Z

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Wham Bam Pow

This week, we're back with a look at Brad Pitt's highest grossing film, the zombie drama/thriller World War Z! Plus, in honor of Mr. Pitt's myriad accomplishments, we pitch him new projects in diverse genres. We bet he's thrilled!

We're taking next week off, but we'll be back on July 18th with a review of Dawn of the Planet of the Apes, which opens July 11th.

Follow us on Twitter! Cameron is @cameronesposito, Rhea is @rheabutcher and Ricky is @rickycarmona. Discuss the show using the hashtag #WhamBamPow!

Don't forget about our Facebook and Tumblr pages. You can also email us at whambampow@maximumfun.org.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone & The Sklar Brothers

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Melissa McCarthy
Guests: 
Ben Falcone
Guests: 
Linda Holmes
Guests: 
Glen Weldon
Guests: 
Davy Rothbart
Guests: 
Randy Sklar
Guests: 
Jason Sklar

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.

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Melissa McCarthy and Ben Falcone on Wigs, Their High School Selves, and Making 'Tammy'

Melissa McCarthy knows how to throw herself into her comedy. Physically, emotionally, she goes all out. People who saw her onstage at the Groundlings knew it. But you didn't really see it on-screen yet. She was mostly known for playing the lovable cook and best friend, Sookie St. James, on Gilmore Girls. Then she had landed a titular role on the CBS show Mike & Molly, which won her an Emmy. In 2011 she got a part in Bridesmaids. And her horizons have only expanded from there.

McCarthy's become a film star, mostly in roles similar to her character in Bridesmaids. Maybe a little crass, maybe a bit of a hot mess. She starred in, her husband Ben Falcone directed, and they both wrote the new comedy Tammy.

Tammy follows a midwestern woman whose life is a mess. So she goes on a road trip with her alcoholic grandmother, to get out of her home town for good.

McCarthy and Falcone met in comedy improv classes, bonded, and eventually became partners both in business and in life.

They'll talk about their high school days, including Melissa's goth phase, their fateful meeting in the Groundlings, and what it was like getting Kathy Bates to play a role that was literally written for her.

Tammy hits theaters this week.

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NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour Recommends: 'The Devil's Candy' and 'Oishinbo'

Linda Holmes and Glen Weldon of NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour stop by to recommend some of their all-time favorite reads.

Glen recommends the manga series called Oishinbo, translated as 'The Gourmet'. It's about two rival newspapers competing to create the perfect Japanese meal. He suggests starting with the volume about sushi.

Linda recommends The Devil's Candy by Julie Salamon, a book about the film production of Bonfire of the Vanities. Salamon was granted unlimited access to the film set. The takeaway? Sometimes folks don't set out to make a bad movie, it just kind of happens.

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

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Found "To Do's" with Davy Rothbart

Davy Rothbart, Point Guard of FOUND Magazine, shares some of his favorite "finds." He'll share some of his favorite ephemera: to do lists that include items like "hook up with Jen" and "create a circuit of pirate radio stations in the Traverse City area."

FOUND Magazine issue 9 is available now. And stay tuned this fall for FOUND: The Musical, presented by the Atlantic Theater Company.

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"The Sum is Greater Than the Parts": Jason and Randy Sklar on Comedy and Evading the Twin Shtick

Randy Sklar and Jason Sklar are stand up comedians. They're also twins. Their work isn't about their twinness, though. In fact, outside of the two of them looking the same, they barely mention it. But it's integral to what they do. Most double acts are about contrast, the Sklars are the opposite.

They diverge, they come back, and all in the service of releasing a firehose of jokes. The pair have been doing comedy together their entire adult lives. They have their own podcast, Skarlbro Country, they hosted their own TV show on the History Channel, and have racked up lots of movie and TV appearances.

They'll talk about why they didn't want to do bits about being twins, why they wanted to combine comedy and sports on Cheap Seats, and how if they were part of the same person, well, Randy's the head and Jason's the heart.

Their stand up special What Are We Talking About? is available now on Netflix Instant.

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The Outshot: Bug-Eyed, Cartoon-y Wildness (Or Why We Love Hunter Pence)

Jesse will tell you about why he loves the craziest-looking baseball player in the majors, and why you should, too.

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