Video Games

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Benedict Cumberbatch, Morgan Webb, Craig Finn and Jason Kottke

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Benedict Cumberbatch
Guests: 
Morgan Webb
Guests: 
Craig Finn
Guests: 
Jason Kottke

Culture Recommendations with Jason Kottke

This week's pop culture picks come care of Jason Kottke, of Kottke.org. Jason tracks down the best the internet has to offer, but this week he's all about documentaries. First up, it's a pair of short documentaries about Allan Benton and his ham. Allan is the owner of Benton's Smoky Mountain Country Hams, and we travel inside both his office and curing house in the films.

Next, it's the feature-length documentary Senna, profiling the thrilling and ultimately tragic tale of Brazilian Formula One driver Ayrton Senna. Senna is not just for Formula One fans -- it's a gripping profile, and the racing footage is thrilling no matter who you are. It's currently available on Netflix Instant.

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Sherlock Actor Benedict Cumberbatch

Benedict Cumberbatch is a British actor currently bringing Sherlock Holmes to life in PBS's Masterpiece series Sherlock, alongside Martin Freeman of The Office as John Watson. While Cumberbatch and Freeman are the latest in a long line of actors to play these characters, there is something fresh about their adaptation: Sherlock takes place in the present day, updating the classic detective to our modern era. In the past year, Cumberbatch has memorably stolen scenes in period dramas like War Horse and Tinker Tailor Soldier Spy.

Benedict tells us about bringing a new take to an iconic character, and what keeps Holmes relevant to both writers and audiences all these years later. He also opens up about how a life-threatening altercation while filming in South Africa in 2004 left him changed as a person. The Series Two finale of Sherlock airs this Sunday, May 20th, on PBS's Masterpiece. Series Two will be available on DVD just two days later, on Tuesday the 22nd.

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Craig Finn on The Song That Changed My Life

Craig Finn is the lead singer and guitarist for the Brooklyn rock outfit The Hold Steady. Earlier this year, Finn released his debut solo album Clear Heart Full Eyes. This week he tells us about the song that changed his life: The Replacements' "I Will Dare", off their 1984 album Let It Be.

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Video Game Journalist Morgan Webb

Morgan Webb is a video game journalist and the co-host of X-Play on the G4 TV network. Webb fell into work in front of the camera entirely by accident via a research position on Tech TV's The Screen Savers, and it wasn't long before she wound up in front of the camera. Tech TV would eventually merge with G4, and X-Play is now the longest-running program on the network.

Morgan talks about what it means to be a gamer, what she loves about the gaming experience, and her struggle for journalistic legitimacy.

Thanks to Dave Ciaccio for editing this segment.

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The Outshot: “People Get Ready” by Curtis Mayfield

For The Outshot this week, Jesse basks in the warm, loving glow of Curtis Mayfield's "People Get Ready", and explains exactly why the singer's smiling face hangs on the wall above his son's crib.

If you've got a song that lifts you up like this one does, share the warmth on the MaxFun forum by picking your own Outshot.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Michael Ian Black, Tom Bissell, Video Game Picks and Pete Holmes

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Michael Ian Black
Guests: 
Tom Bissell
Guests: 
Pete Holmes
Guests: 
Kumail Nanjiani
Guests: 
Heather Anne Campbell

Video Game Recommendations from Kumail Nanjiani & Heather Anne Campbell

We return to the world of video games for this week's culture picks, and our gaming experts, comedian and video game journalist Heather Anne Campbell, as well as comedian and host of the video game podcast Indoor Kids Kumail Nanjiani, have selected a pair of downloadable games for PlayStation Network and Xbox Live Arcade. Kumail recommends the sadly haunting experience of the post-apocalyptic thriller I Am Alive, while Heather suggests you check out the almost fully female fighter Skullgirls.

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Comedian, Actor and Author Michael Ian Black

Michael Ian Black is an actor, comedian and author perhaps best known from his work with the sketch comedy troupe The State, or from his subsequent collaborations with State-mates both on television (Stella, Michael & Michael Have Issues) and film (Wet Hot American Summer). His disarmingly charming smarm made him a perfect fit for the talking-head format of VH1, but it also makes him a terrific author, as evidenced in his latest book You're Not Doing It Right: Tales of Marriage, Sex, Death, and Other Humiliations. In Black's second memoir, he goes in-depth on the issues of his marriage and parenthood, and the result is a book that is shockingly honest, informative, and incredibly funny.

Michael sits down with us to discuss recommitting himself to marriage in six week intervals, getting into stand-up late in life, and his obsession with Googling "Fat Kevin Federline". You can hear his podcast, Mike & Tom Eat Snacks, with Ed co-star Tom Cavanagh on iTunes or at Nerdist.com. You're Not Doing It Right is now available wherever books are sold.

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Comedy by Pete Holmes: “Subway”

If you watch the Super Bowl, or even just television, you probably know comedian Pete Holmes best from commercials, where he adorably doles out financial advice as the voice of the E-Trade baby. Last year he was named one of Variety's Ten Comics to Watch, and with good reason. As a stand-up, Holmes has a mostly goofy and positive energy. But as he reveals on his new album Impregnated With Wonder, there is one thing that can really set him off: a bad sandwich.

You can find Pete's podcast You Made It Weird on iTunes, or by visiting Nerdist.com.

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Journalist, Critic, Writer Tom Bissell, author of Magic Hours

Tom Bissell is a journalist, video game critic and author whose latest book, Magic Hours: Essays on Creators and Creation, is a series of pieces attempting to capture all angles of the creative process, in all sorts of artistic forms: from Herman Melville, writer of Moby Dick, to Chuck Lorre, creator of Two and a Half Men; from the mind of filmmaker Werner Herzog to the madness of The Room's Tommy Wiseau. Magic Hours collects the very best of Bissell's ten-year career, with essays featured in The New Yorker and Harper's, as well as several original pieces written solely for the book.

Tom joins us to discuss the dumb luck that makes some books resounding classics of literature while others fade from the collective conscious, and the value (or lack thereof) of a journalism degree. You can find his video game writing online at Grantland.com. Magic Hours is now available in bookstores everywhere.

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The Outshot: Malcolm Tucker & The Thick of It

On this week's Outshot, Jesse recommends one of his absolute favorite shows, the brilliantly profane political satire The Thick of It -- particularly its foul-mouthed protagonist Malcolm Tucker. As creator Armando Iannucci's new show, Veep, is underway on HBO, BBC America is finally bringing The Thick of It to US audiences, Saturday's at midnight. Don't miss it.

Got a hilariously profane favorite of your own? Don't just keep it to yourself, f***ing tell someone by heading to the MaxFun forum and picking your own Outshot.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Bob Newhart, Mister Rogers and Me, Video Game Picks and God On Sports

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Bob Newhart
Guests: 
Benjamin Wagner
Guests: 
Christofer Wagner
Guests: 
Kumail Nanjiani
Guests: 
Heather Anne Campbell

A friendly remind that our annual MAX FUN DRIVE is happening right now. If you love this show, please take a moment to support it. Your donations make this show possible, and there’s a level of support to suit any budget. Thank you.


Video Game Picks with Kumail Nanjiani & Heather Anne Campbell

This week's pop culture recommendations come from the realm of video games, and sharing their expert opinions are comedian and video game journalist Heather Anne Campbell, as well as comedian and host of gaming podcast The Indoor Kids Kumail Nanjiani. Heather urges you to check out the inconceivably gorgeous hand-held adventure Uncharted: Golden Abyss for the PlayStation Vita, while Kumail endorses the side-scrolling platform throwback Rayman Origins.
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Comedian and Actor Bob Newhart

Bob Newhart is an actor, stand-up and legend of American comedy. A pioneer comedian in every sense, Bob began his comedy career when he and a friend improvised over-the-phone comedy routines to kill boredom at work, and subsequently sold the bits to radio stations. The "phone sketch" would be a schtick that would last throughout Newhart's career, and featured quite prominently in the release of his 1960 comedy album debut Button Down Mind of Bob Newhart. The album was an unprecedented hit as a comedy recording, outselling Elvis Presley and winning the Grammy for Album of the Year. Its success eventually led Newhart to television, first with a variety sketch show in the early '60s, and then a pair of sitcoms: The Bob Newhart Show in the 1970s, and Newhart in the early '80s.

Bob joins us to reflect on his comedy career, from how he honed his craft as a solo straightman -- leaving the wild responses on the other end of his phone conversations entirely in the minds of the audience -- to what keeps him going today when he's accomplished so much as a performer. Newhart still performs dozens of nights a year as a stand-up, while acting in both film and television. You can find him at BobNewhart.com.
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God on Sports

A January poll found that 43% of people believe God was willing Tim Tebow and the Denver Broncos to improbable victories, while many more were flabbergasted by the implication that God might be deciding sports games. Has the Almighty ever swayed athletic outcomes? Does He even care for sports at all? Get the straight truth from The Man Himself. The answer may surprise you.

This excerpt is from The Last Testament: A Memoir By God, with David Javerbaum.

David Javerbaum is an Emmy-winning comedy writer and former executive producer of The Daily Show. You can see more of his work with God on Twitter @TheTweetofGod.

Our voice of God is provided by comedian and Funny or Die writer Seth Morris, who is also on Twitter @SethISMorris.
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Directors of the documentary Mister Rogers & Me

Christofer and Benjamin Wagner are brothers and the co-directors of the documentary Mister Rogers & Me, about children's television personality Fred Rogers, and the effect he had on the lives of generations of kids. For Ben -- who moonlights as a documentarian between his day-job as an executive with MTV News -- it was a project that began more than ten years ago, when he discovered Mister Rogers really was his neighbor, living next door to him at a vacation home in Nantucket, MA. Rogers' heartfelt sincerity, and his ability to truly live in the moment, compelled Ben to learn more about the man and about the countless lives he'd forever changed.

The Wagner Brothers sit down with Jesse to discuss the film, the overwhelming experience of meeting Mr. Rogers in person, and the way he helped so many grow up in ways they might not even have noticed. Mister Rogers & Me is currently available on DVD, and is airing on PBS stations across the country.
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The Outshot: Boy

On The Outshot this week, Jesse looks back on the 2010 Sundance Film Festival and finds his favorite film of the fest is only now getting the theatrical release it so richly deserves. The film is Boy, from Māori writer/director/star Taika Waititi. It tells the story of a young Māori boy named, well... Boy. Boy is given the chance to reconnect with his deadbeat father (Waititi) after years apart, as Dad's been away in jail. You can see and hear our interview with Taika Waititi and James Rolleston here.

It's a story bursting with youthful optimism, while the darkness of adulthood creeps in around the edges. It's in theaters now.
Got a little-known film of your own you want to spread the word about? Head on over to the MaxFun forum and pick your own Outshot.
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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Key & Peele, The AV Club, and My Brother, My Brother and Me

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Keegan-Michael Key
Guests: 
Jordan Peele
Guests: 
Erik Adams
Guests: 
Claire Zulkey
Guests: 
The McElroy Brothers


The AV Club Recommendations

Erik Adams and Claire Zulkey of The AV Club recommend some of their favorite television – the new drama about a blurred line between life and dream life called Awake and the gleefully self-promotional reality show RuPaul's Drag Race.
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Comedians Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele

Keegan-Michael Key and Jordan Peele are actors, comedians, and the creators and co-stars of the new Comedy Central sketch show Key & Peele. They met during their years as cast members on MADtv; you might also recognize Jordan from adult swim's Childrens Hospital or perhaps you caught them both as commune-dwelling hippies in the new film Wanderlust. In their new show, Keegan and Jordan go from stand-up, to sketches about Scrabble, to a top-notch presidential impersonation.

Their new series gives them full creative control over their comedy, but that hasn't always been the case. They join us to discuss the behind-the-scenes creative process of MADtv (and the difficulties therein), the keys to developing strong impressions, and exploring the humor of their bi-racial identities. Plus, Jordan divulges the details of an original card game he invented for movie buffs!

Key & Peele airs Tuesdays at 10:30pm on Comedy Central. The show was just picked up for a second season.
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Pop Culture Advice with My Brother, My Brother and Me

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.
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The Outshot: Skyrim

Are you ready to sacrifice hours, days, weeks of your life and your relationship to the outside world in favor of improving your archery skills and gathering herbs? If so, join Jesse in this week's Outshot, the role-playing game Elder Scrolls V: Skyrim.
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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Jenna Fischer, Jack Handey, Video Game Picks and Kasper Hauser

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Jenna Fischer
Guests: 
Jack Handey
Guests: 
Heather Anne Campbell
Guests: 
Kasper Hauser

This week!
Video Game Picks: Comedian and video game journalist Heather Anne Campbell tells us about some of the games she's most excited about right now: a game in the canon of the Final Fantasy series, Final Fantasy XIII-2, and Resident Evil Revelations. (Embed or share this segment)

Actress Jenna Fischer: Emmy-nominated actress Jenna Fischer, best known for her role as Pam on The Office, talks to us about her early days in Hollywood – her totally-made-up-sounding first acting gig in LA, auditioning for The Office, and what all the actors are doing on their computers when they're in the background of a shot. The Office is now in its eighth season. (Embed or share this segment)

Kasper Hauser: San Francisco-based comedy sketch group Kasper Hauser takes us to the set of Mundos de Perros. You can find more from them on their podcast, or catch them live this week at SF Sketchfest. Click here for the Kasper Hauser podcast.

Humorist Jack Handey: Yes, he's totally real. Writer Jack Handey, whose one-liners are an enduring part of Saturday Night Live history, will talk about his days as Steve Martin's neighbor, and which of the many, many Deep Thoughts are his favorites. Plus, Jesse will reveal his favorite SNL sketch of all time. (Embed or share this segment)

The Outshot: And finally, the outshot for this week – Bo Jackson. How is a guy that fast, that strong? And how is a guy that strong, that fast? (Embed or share this segment)

You can subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or the RSS feed -- stay tuned for next week's Bullseye!

Jordan returns to "The Indoor Kids"

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Jordan is back this week on the wonderful gaming podcast "The Indoor Kids." According to Jordan's own summary of the episode, "Kumail, Emily and I talk lost games, judge-related pornography and games to play when you’re unemployed."

Can't beat that. Check it out here.

Gamewave Commercial Parody

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Terrific commercial parody from Jordan, Jesse and friends.

Some language may be NSFW. Depending on whether your workplace is vagina-friendly.

Jordan Morris on "The Indoor Kids"

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Our own Jordan Morris was the guest on last week's episode of Kumail Nanjiani's podcast for Gamers (with a capital "G"), "The Indoor Kids". If you want to know Jordan's top five fighting games, you can download it now from Nerdist or from the show's itunes page.

George Plimpton's Video Falconry

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Someone just posted this commercial they found for George Plimpton's Video Falconry over in the forum. Absolutely amazing. If someone could find and port the game, though... that would be truly spectacular. As alluded to by Judge John Hodgman in episode 22 of the show.

EDIT!

New Grounds have found and ported George Plimpton's Video Falconry! And there is much rejoicing!

Jordan Morris and Jim Festante on Motion Gaming

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I joined Jordan, our friend Jim and some other folks to try out all three motion gaming systems for Slate V. I enjoyed the river game where I jumped up and down a lot. The video was directed by past JJGo guest Emily Calderone.

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