Bullseye

Bullseye is a public radio show about what's good in popular culture. With a keen editorial eye, Bullseye sifts the wheat from the chaff, and brings you hot culture picks, in-depth interviews with the most revered and revolutionary creative people and irreverent original comedy.

Bullseye is equal parts funny and fascinating. Whether you're already plugged in to the culture map, or looking for a signpost, Bullseye will keep you on target. More About Bullseye

Bullseye With Jesse Thorn: Prodigy Of Mobb Deep

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Prodigy
Guests: 
Carolyn Kellogg

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Prodigy: Member of Mobb Deep, Crusader From Queensbridge

Queensbridge, New York is an important place for hip-hop. Not since Motown, 25 years earlier, has such an astonishing number of artists with a distinctive, sought after sound, emerged from such a specific neighborhood. Nas, Marley Marl, Cormega--these are just a few of the huge names that sprang from America's largest housing projects, located just across the bridge from Manhattan in Queens. Since the early 1980s, Queensbridge has been a veritable hotbed for new directions in East Coast hip-hop.

And no rap-group has drawn inspiration from Queensbridge more vividly than Mobb Deep. Composed of rappers Havoc and Prodigy, Mobb Deep create music that makes you feel like you, too, grew up in Queensbridge. Listen to Shook Ones Pt. 2 enough times, and you'll feel like you could stab an unlucky sucker's brain with his nosebone.

Jesse sat down with Prodigy, aka Anthony Johnson, after the release of his autobiography, My Infamous Life in 2011. Prodigy had just recently been released from prison, where he spent three years on gun charges. He talks about growing up with sickle-cell anemia, being dragged along on his father's jewelry store robberies as a teen, and how he used his time in prison for some serious personal transformation.

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Carolyn Kellogg Recommends: Farewell, My Lovely and The Crying of Lot 49

Carolyn Kellogg, book critic and staff writer for the LA Times, joins us to recommend two of her all-time favorite books.

First, she recommends Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler. This hardboiled Los Angeles noir features Chandler's iconic language--analogies stronger than the libations his protagonists down in LA's most dimly lit nightclubs.

Kellogg's next pick is Thomas Pynchon's novel The Crying Of Lot 49. At less than 200 pages, The Crying Of Lot 49 is an accessible, pun-filled entry into the dense world of Pynchon.

Read more of Carolyn's writing on books, authors, and publishing online at the LA Times' blog Jacket Copy.

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The Outshot: Randy Newman's "Sail Away"

If "You've Got A Friend In Me," is the only thing you think of when you hear the name Randy Newman, we've got an Outshot for you.

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Bullseye With Jesse Thorn: Lewis Black & Nikki Glaser and Sara Schaefer

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Lewis Black
Guests: 
Nikki Glaser
Guests: 
Sara Schaefer
Guests: 
Davy Rothbart
Guests: 
Mark Frauenfelder

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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Still Fuming: Lewis Black on Drama School, New York, And Why He's Still Fired Up

No comedian is angrier than Lewis Black. For the past 25 years, America has been infuriating him, and he's been on-stage telling us why.

After graduating from the Yale School of Drama in 1977, Black spent ten years as a playwright at the West Bank Cafe Downstairs Theater in New York. He transitioned to stand-up comedy in the late 1980s and has been regularly featured on The Daily Show's "Back In Black" segment for the past 16 years.

Lewis tells us about nearly getting expelled from Yale, why he loves performing in Bismarck, and how theater is like heroin.

Lewis Black's new special, Old Yeller: Live At The Borgata, airs live on Pay-Per-View and becomes available on VOD on August 24.

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Mark Frauenfelder Recommends The Adventure Time Encyclopedia and Blocksworld

Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of BoingBoing, which bills itself as a "directory of wonderful things". He joins us to share some of his recent finds. This time, it's The Adventure Time Encyclopedia and the iPad game Blocksworld, for iOs.

The Cartoon Network's show Adventure Time is ostensibly for children, but eagerly devoured by people of all ages. It follows the psychedelic adventures of a boy named Finn and his dog Jake. The new Adventure Time Encyclopedia, "translated" by comedy writer Martin Olson, features new original artwork and everything you ever wanted to know about the post-apocalyptic land of Oooo. Mark also suggests downloading the Blocksworld app for iPad, a virtual Lego-like world with huge creative possibilities.

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Found Things With Davy Rothbart

Found Magazine co-creator and editor Davy Rothbart is back to share more pieces of lost and found ephemera: discarded exams, neighborhood flyers, and personal letters that leave half the story to your imagination.

Davy's new documentary Medora (co-director/producer), is in select theaters this fall. FOUND Magazine is on its eighth issue and posts new finds all the time on their website. If you've got a cool find, be sure to share it with them.

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Nikki Glaser and Sara Schaefer: From Podcasting To Kardashian Bashing

Late night television has long been dominated by slightly greying men, alone behind a desk, cracking jokes about politics and the news. Nikki Glaser and Sara Schaefer have taken that popular format -- monologues, sketches, celebrity interviews -- and repackaged it for the Taylor Swift demographic. The two young comedians co-host Nikki and Sara Live on MTV, a show filled with gossip, banter, and all the Justin Timberlake adoration you could ask for.

Nikki and Sara's career trajectories are very 2013 -- before landing their show on MTV, they worked their way through Comedy Central sets, coveted late night appearances, an award-winning blog, and a podcast they co-host together called You Had To Be There.

Nikki and Sara talk about relating to their teenage "demo", the 90s pop-star who made Nikki swoon, and how to craft the perfect Justin Bieber joke.

Nikki and Sara Live airs Tuesdays at 11pm on MTV.

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The Outshot: The Mind Of A Chef

Jesse goes on the record to say that while he mostly hates food shows, he loves The Mind Of A Chef, a PBS show narrated by Anthony Bourdain that focuses on Momofuku-founder David Cheng.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Kumail Nanjiani, Lake Bell and Sergio Dias

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Kumail Nanjiani
Guests: 
Lake Bell
Guests: 
Sergio Dias
Guests: 
Andrew Noz

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.

Kumail Nanjiani on Identity, Comedy, and Shaking Hands with Girls

When Kumail Nanjiani was a boy growing up in Karachi, Pakistan, he absorbed a fair amount of American culture. He loved Ghostbusters and Gremlins. He read MAD Magazine. And he knew that someday, he'd move to the U.S. What he never imagined is that he'd become a comedian.

His first exposure to stand up comedy was a Jerry Seinfeld HBO special, and a few short years later, Kumail was on stage himself. He's performed with The Second City, at the Upright Citizens Brigade theater, and on numerous late night shows. He also co-hosts a stand up showcase, The Meltdown with Jonah and Kumail, and now often appears on TV, with appearances on Franklin and Bash, Portlandia, Veep and Newsreaders.

Kumail talks to us about growing up Pakistani, choosing a distinctly American way of life, and creating comedy about things you love, rather than things you hate.

Kumail's new Comedy Central stand up special, Beta Male, is available on CD+DVD and by direct download.

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BONUS AUDIO:
Kumail Studies The Cheesecake Factory for "Portlandia"
Kumail on Mike Judge and the Butthead Voice

Rap Recommendations from Andrew Noz: Earl Sweatshirt's "Hive" and Chief Keef's "Go to Jail"

Hip hop contributor Andrew Noz stops by to share some of his favorite new tracks, incidentally both by rappers still in their teens.

He recommends "Hive", the first single off the new album by the youngest member of the Odd Future crew, Earl Sweatshirt. It's dense, well-written, and long-awaited. Earl Sweatshirt's album Doris is out August 20th.

On the other end of the spectrum, slowed way down, is Chicago-based Chief Keef's autotuned, warbly track "Go to Jail", off his upcoming mixtape Almighty So. You can find that song on Chief Keef's Soundcloud.

Andrew Noz is the columnist for Pitchfork's Hall of Game, and also blogs and Tumblr-s regularly at Cocaine Blunts and Tumblin 'Erb.

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Photo credit Denise Truscello

Sérgio Dias on The Song That Changed My Life: Elvis Presley's "Jailhouse Rock"

Os Mutantes founder and guitarist Sérgio Dias describes the song that opened his mind to the world of rock 'n' roll when he was just a kid living in Brazil. That song was Elvis Presley's "Jailhouse Rock".

The psych rock band that would become Os Mutantes formed in Brazil in the mid-1960s. They experimented with psychedelic guitars, bossa nova and tropicalia to create a distinct sound. The band broke up in 1978, but their music continued to garner fans, from Kurt Cobain to Beck to David Byrne.

Os Mutantes released an album of eccentric and beautiful new tracks earlier this year, titled Fool Metal Jack. The band will embark on a U.S. tour in November.

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Lake Bell on Voiceover Cliques, Racing Cars, and Making the Transition from Actor to Director

Voiceover is everywhere. On commercials, describing the tight curves in a sports car; in movie theaters, reminding you to turn off your cell phone and end your conversation. Those voices are booming and confident. But they're not often female.

Lake Bell found these disembodied voices intriguing. She wrote, directed and stars in the new comedy In a World... The movie is about an an aspiring female voice over artist, her power struggles in the industry and within her own family, and the pursuit of change.

Lake talks to us about her favorite accents, her work on the ensemble comedy Childrens Hospital, and handling the transition from actor to director.

In a World... is in theaters now. You can also see Lake as part of the ensemble of [adult swim]'s Childrens Hospital, which airs Thursdays at midnight on the Cartoon Network.

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The Outshot: The Big Con by David Maurer

Jesse recommends The Big Con, by David Maurer, for a fascinating look at the profession of the confidence man.

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Plus, this week's credits... movie trailer style.

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Bullseye With Jesse Thorn: Fred Willard & David Gordon Green

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Fred Willard
Guests: 
David Gordon Green
Guests: 
Ian Cohen
Guests: 
Nate DiMeo

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.

Playing The Buffoon: Fred Willard On Improv, Christopher Guest, and Missed Opportunities

For over fifty years, Fred Willard has 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 can be seen in Jeff Garlin's new film Dealin' With Idiots.

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.

You may also like these interviews:
Catherine O'Hara
Christopher Guest
Jeff Garlin

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Heavy Rock with Ian Cohen: Forest Swords and Crash Of Rhinos

Ian Cohen, contributing editor at Pitchfork, stops by to recommend some new heavy rock releases, both out in the U.S. this month.

His first recommendation is Engravings, the new record from UK producer Matthew Barnes, aka Forest Swords. The album is out August 26.

Ian also recommends the UK emo/hardcore band Crash of Rhinos' new album Knots, out on August 27.

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The Memory Palace: Origin Stories

We share a segment from Nate DiMeo's more-than-just-a-history-podcast, The Memory Palace. Nate takes us on a tour of his own family's history, including his grandfather's nightclub act.

Nate DiMeo is a public radio producer and a finalist for the Thurber Prize for American Humor.

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David Gordon Green, right, with actors Emile Hirsch and Paul Rudd

David Gordon Green on Prince Avalanche, Camping Alone, and Clint Eastwood

It's not easy to sum up the booming career of writer and director David Gordon Green. While he's best known for his slacker-comedies such as Pineapple Express and the HBO series Eastbound and Down, he also makes films that are sentimental, cerebral, and poignant, like George Washington and All The Real Girls. His new film, Prince Avalanche, starring Paul Rudd and Emile Hirsch, is somewhere in between.

David talks to Jesse about his love for camping alone in the woods, his affinity for characters like Kenny Powers (who are likeable in spite of everything they say and do), and how it felt to direct a cinema legend like Clint Eastwood.

Prince Avalanche is in select theaters and On Demand August 9th.

You may also like this interview:
Lily Tomlin

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The Outshot: Robin Thicke's A Beautiful World

Love it or hate it, Robin Thicke's number-1 with a bullet single "Blurred Lines," and its accompanying NSFW music video, have been impossible to avoid these past few months. But Jesse is here to tell you that there is more to Robin Thicke than cowbell laden beats and dancing half-nudes--and it starts way back in 2002 with his neo-soul debut album Cherry Blue Skies (re-released in 2003 as A Beautiful World).

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Bullseye With Jesse Thorn: Comedy Group Kasper Hauser, David Rakoff Retrospective

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Rob Baedeker
Guests: 
James Reichmuth
Guests: 
David Rakoff
Guests: 
Keith Phipps
Guests: 
Scott Tobias

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.

Kasper Hauser: How To Write A Book About Business Without Really Helping

The San Francisco sketch comedy troupe Kasper Hauser is not your average comedy team. They count a lawyer, a writer, a psychiatrist and a Stanford theater professor in their ranks. They get together to write satirical books (like Skymaul and Weddings of the Times), perform the occasional live show, and produce digital content (like their Kasper Hauser podcast and this fake Craigslist page) -- all while working the aforementioned day jobs. Their new collaboration is their own special spin on how to succeed in business, all in a tome you can leave in the bathroom. It's called Earn Your MBA on the Toilet: Unleash Unlimited Power and Wealth from Your Bathroom.

We sat down with half of Kasper Hauser, members Rob Baedeker and James Reichmuth, to talk about being inspired by the "For Dummies" series, their democratic joke-writing process, and the worst fight they've ever had--about a comedy sketch.

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The Dissolve Recommends Summer Films: "Blue Jasmine" and "The Act Of Killing"

Indie-music site Pitchfork expanded into film-criticism this month with its new off-shoot site, The Dissolve. We're joined by The Dissolve's founder and editorial director, Keith Phipps, and editor Scott Tobias, who introduce the new site and recommend their top picks for summer movies.

Keith recommends Woody Allen's new comic drama Blue Jasmine starring Cate Blanchett and Alec Baldwin, and featuring Louis CK. As Keith explains, the movie offers a terrific character study of a New York City socialite (Blanchett) who is forced to start over without her money or her husband (Baldwin).

And Scott endorses The Act Of Killing, from two of the most revered names in documentary filmmaking, producers Errol Morris and Werner Herzog. The documentary tests the very boundaries of the medium, following a real-life Indonesian deathsquad as they reenact some of their most infamous murders and confront the atrociousness of their deeds.

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David Rakoff: A Retrospective

The author David Rakoff died of cancer nearly a year ago, but his writing continues to provide insight on living a creative life in contemporary America. Best known for his autobiographical essays and his contributions to This American Life, Rakoff always made for a delightful interviewee: open, passionate, and amusing even in his darkest times. In honor of the posthumous release of his last book Love, Dishonor, Marry, Die, Cherish, Perish, a novel written entirely in rhyme, we're sharing some highlights from our past conversations with Rakoff.

In these two interviews from 2005 and 2011, Rakoff touches on topics ranging from the virtues of pessimism, writing about Playboy models as a gay man, and the daily grind necessary for a truly creative life.

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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.

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Emmy Nominations 2013!

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We're not surprised to see some of our favorite past Bullseye guests got Emmy nods this year! Take a listen to some of our past conversations with these Emmy contenders.

Julia Louis Dreyfus: nominated for Outstanding Lead Actress In A Comedy Series for her performance as Vice President Selina Meyer in Veep.

She talked to Jesse about crafting the character of Vice President Meyer, similarities between showbiz and politics, and, yes, the Elaine dance from Seinfeld.

Tony Hale: nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series for his performance as Gary Walsh, aide to the Vice President, in Veep.

He talked to us about behind-the-scenes humor in Veep, selling Volkswagens to the tune of "Mr. Roboto," and returning to the role of Buster in the newest season of Arrested Development.

Hugh Bonneville: nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor In A Drama Series for his performance as Robert, Earl of Grantham in Downton Abbey.

He joined Jesse along with Downton co-stars Dan Stevens and Joanne Froggatt to talk about what makes their show's romances so compelling, and how they keep old customs fresh and exciting.

Benedict Cumberbatch: nominated for Outstanding Lead Actor In A Miniseries Or A Movie for his performance as the brilliant aristocrat, Christopher Tietjens, in Parade's End.

We talked about playing the title character in PBS's Sherlock Holmes adaptation Sherlock, and how his traumatic kidnapping in South Africa transformed his outlook on life.

Fred Armisen and Carrie Brownstein: nominated for Outstanding Writing For A Variety Series for their hipster-sketch show Portlandia.

Armisen and Brownstein joined us to talk about their respective music careers before comedy, Armisen's "other job" on Saturday Night Live, and why Portland is such a rich subject for relentless satire.

Bob Newhart: nominated for Outstanding Guest Actor In A Comedy Series for his appearance as the children's science show host Arthur Jeffries a.k.a. Professor Proton on Big Bang Theory.

Newhart reflected on a comedy career spanning more than 50 years, and shares some of his own tricks for continuing the funny.

Mel Brooks, whose HBO special Mel Brooks Strikes Back! was nominated for Outstanding Variety Special.

Brooks talked to us about making Germans laugh when he fought in World War II, being dangled out of Chicago hotel window by Sid Caesar, and much, much more.

Jane Lynch: nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actress In A Comedy Series for her role as cheerleading coach Sue Sylvester on Glee.

Jane and Jesse talked about Jane's cult sitcom Party Down, the first big break in her acting career, and (not) coming out Ellen Degeneres-style.

Bill Hader: nominated for Outstanding Supporting Actor In A Comedy Series for his assorted roles on Saturday Night Live.

Hader talked to Jesse about his first stab at impressions for the SNL audition, "breaking" during sketches, and the wonderful bizarreness of actually working with Tom Cruise.

Pendleton Ward: creator of Adventure Time, which was nominated for Outstanding Short-Format Animated Program.

Literally drawing Jesse while they talked, Pen told Jesse about finding inspiration in Dungeons and Dragons, writing the perfect fart joke, and his creative process for the show Adventure Time.

Louis C.K.: nominated for (wait for it) Outstanding Lead Actor In A Comedy Series, Outstanding Writing For A Comedy Series, Outstanding Directing For A Comedy Series, Outstanding Variety Special, Outstanding Writing For A Variety Special, Outstanding Directing For A Comedy Special, Outstanding Picture Editing For Short-Form Segments and Variety Specials, and Outstanding Guest Actor In A Comedy Series. These are for his original series Louie, his HBO special Louis C.K.: Oh My God, and his hosting stint on Saturday Night live, respectively.

Louis and Jesse have talked a couple times and their interviews get just as philosophical, inward-looking, and hilarious as you would expect. Listen and share here and here.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Rick Moranis and Booker T. Jones

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Rick Moranis
Guests: 
Booker T. Jones
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.

Rick Moranis on Growing Up Jewish, Canadian Comedy, and Quitting Show Business

Rick Moranis's big glasses and nerdy goofball humor appeared in some of the biggest Hollywood comedies of the 80s and 90s. In just a few years, he starred in Ghostbusters, Spaceballs, and Honey I Shrunk the Kids. Those movies filled theaters, sold tons of merchandise, and made Moranis a star. And then, at the peak of this fame, Moranis decided to retire. His wife passed away in 1991, and Moranis decided to become a full-time stay-at-home dad.

Nearly a decade after pretty much signing out of show business, Moranis returned in 2005 with a Grammy-winning album of original music, "Agoraphobic Cowboy." And now Moranis has released his second album, My Mother's Brisket and Other Love Songs, a collection of comedic music inspired by Moranis's Jewish upbringing in Toronto.

Moranis talks to Jesse about his first job selling hockey programs in the nosebleed section, SCTV and the ironic outcome of his famous nose-thumbing at Canadian content laws, and his decision to be a stay-at-home father.

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Related interviews:
Mel Brooks
Catherine O'Hara
Joe Flaherty

Carolyn Kellogg Recommends "The Unknowns" and "Hothouse"

Carolyn Kellogg, book critic and staff writer for the LA Times, joins us to recommend two new books to put on the top of your summer reading list.

First, she recommends The Unknowns by Gabriel Roth. This debut novel set in 2002 follows a Silicon Valley millionaire whose brain betrays him whenever he tries to do the right thing. Parties, ecstasy, sex -- and that's just the first few pages.

Kellogg's next pick is Boris Kachka's Hothouse: The Art of Survival and the Survival of Art at America's Most Celebrated Publishing House, Farrar, Straus, and Giroux. Kachka, a veteran New York Magazine journalist, delves into the juicy history of Farrar, Straus, and Giroux, the publishing house of Tom Wolfe, Joan Didion, Philip Roth, and Jonathan Franzen. The book focuses on the personal lives of founder Roger Straus and editor Robert Giroux and provides an insider's look at the secret, ferocious world of publishing.

Read more of Carolyn's writing on books, authors, and publishing at the LA Times' blog Jacket Copy.

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Comedy: Doug Benson on Taken 2 and a Missed Opportunity

What if the folks behind the second "Taken" movie had just given a little more thought to tying the series together? Comedian Doug Benson considers the Taken series, with Liam Neeson, in this clip from his new album, Gateway Doug.

Doug Benson hosts a weekly podcast, Doug Loves Movies, and hosts the ongoing live series, Doug Benson's Movie Interruptions.

Booker T. Jones: Master Of Memphis Soul

Whether he was touring with Otis Redding, backing countless soul stars in the Stax studio, or composing his own instrumental hits like "Green Onions," Booker T. Jones, along with his band The MG's, defined the sound of southern sixties' soul.

Born in Memphis in 1944, Jones was gigging around town before he had entered high school. By college, he was a seasoned session musician and multi-instrumentalist with a hit single to his name. And by 1968, when Stax Records came under new ownership, he had played on over 600 Stax records, including "Try A Little Tenderness" and "These Arms Of Mine".

Perhaps even more impressively, Jones hasn't stopped. He continues to team up with some of the biggest names in jazz, soul, rock, and classical music and, at nearly 70 years old, he has no plans of letting up anytime soon.

Jones tells us stories about the first time Otis Redding sat down next to him at a piano, producing "Ain't No Sunshine" with the (as-yet-unknown) singer-songwriter Bill Withers, and Jones' plans to continue making all kinds of music.

Jones' new album, Sound The Alarm, is out now.

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Related interview:
Bill Withers

The Outshot: "Paranoia" by Chance the Rapper

The Outshot: Paranoia by Chance The Rapper

Jesse recommends "Paranoia," a track off Chance The Rapper's free mixtape Acid Rap. This is not hip-hop about money or cars or sexual conquests. This is hip-hop about the fear that exists in America's cities. It's a song about an entire part of our country that feels ignored. It's Chance's appeal for human connection.

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Bullseye With Jesse Thorn: Nathan Rabin, Benjamin Nugent Author of American Nerd

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Nathan Rabin
Guests: 
Benjamin Nugent
Guests: 
Brian Heater
Guests: 
Alex Zalben

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.


Insane Clown Posse

Becoming an Enthusiast: Nathan Rabin on Loving Phish and ICP

Some bands thrive in the cultural middleground. You can play their music in the grocery store, and no one objects. Neither the jam band Phish nor the horrorcore hip hop duo Insane Clown Posse plays that kind of music. Each group has a rabid, devoted following of fans, and on the flip side, has inspired intense loathing. Phish's noodley covers and original songs are derided as music for druggies and hacky-sack playing college students. Insane Clown Posse and their dark, often violent music is for "Juggalos", their group of Faygo-drinking, clown makeup- wearing fans.

As a longtime culture critic and former Head Writer of The Onion's AV Club, Nathan Rabin thought he was immune to the draw of either group. Their music and communities weren't high-brow. They weren't terribly fashionable or cool. So he set out to write a kind of sociological text about the groups, and find out why they had such die-hard fans. He didn't know he would end up a convert.

Rabin's new book is You Don't Know Me, But You Don't Like Me: Phish, Insane Clown Posse, And My Adventures With Two Of Music's Most Maligned Tribes.

Rabin tells us about his psychedelic experiences at their concerts, his mental breakdown halfway through researching the book, and finding solace in music and community among Phish Heads and Juggalos.

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Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes

Comic Recommendations From Brian Heater and Alex Zalben

Brian Heater and Alex Zalben stop by to recommend their favorite graphic novels as of late.

Brian recommends Aesthetics: A Memoir by Ivan Brunetti. A self-taught artist, illustrator for the New Yorker, and currently on faculty at Columbia College Chicago, Brunetti examines his many influences and how they combined to make his unique, simple, DIY style.

Alex suggests Matt Kindt's Red Handed: The Fine Art of Strange Crimes. In the town of Red Wheelbarrow, no crime gets by Detective Gould. But can this hardboiled detective connect the dots between a young woman who obsessively steals chairs, a man who carts dirt around town, and a photographer whose subject matter is others' private tragedies?

Brian Heater is the author of BoingBoing's comics column, Comics Rack. He also hosts the new podcast, Recommended if you Like.

Alex Zalben is a producer for MTV Geek and host of the Nerdist podcast Comic Book Club.

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An early "nerd" sketch on Saturday Night Live

Nerding It Up With Benjamin Nugent

This interview originally aired in 2008.

Benjamin Nugent's book American Nerd explores a people and their history. Nerds have been an archetype for decades now. But where did they come from? What is a "nerd", anyway? Benjamin Nugent set out to write a loving portrait of nerds and nerdiness -- including his own.

He talks to us about the origins of "nerds" in the humor pages of college newspapers, Saturday Night Live's first dig at nerds , and the underappreciated toughness of his nerdy friends in middle school.

Nugent released a novel, Good Kids, earlier this year.

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The Outshot: Thief

Jesse recommends the 1981 noir Thief, starring James Caan. It's a crime thriller about one last job, but it's just as much about running from loneliness as it is about running from the cops. Director Michael Mann infuses it with a cool, dark beauty unlike any robbery film you've seen.

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Bullseye With Jesse Thorn: The Directors of "Doin' It In The Park" And Mary Roach

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Bobbito Garcia
Guests: 
Kevin Couliau
Guests: 
Mary Roach
Guests: 
Shirley Caeasar
Guests: 
Sean O'Neal
Guests: 
Alex Dowd

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.

Doin' It In The Park: Pickup Basketball with Bobbito Garcia and Kevin Couliau

Kenny "The Jet" Smith was an All-American at North Carolina, first round NBA draft pick, and two-time NBA Champion with the Houston Rockets. And yet, his favorite basketball memory? The first time he was allowed to play ball on the "big court" by his apartment in Queens when he was 15 years old. Such is the power that pick-up basketball holds for New Yorkers.

Bobbito Garcia and Kevin Couliau are the filmmakers behind Doin' It In The Park, a passionate and beautiful new documentary about New York City's street basketball culture. One summer, Bobbito and Kevin jumped on their bicycles and set out to play basketball in 180 of NYC's more than 700 public outdoor courts, and talk with the diverse array of people who play there.

They talk to us about meeting the legendary playground figures, learning the history of the parks, and immersing themselves in the unique styles of play that can only be found on New York courts.

Bobbito Garcia (aka Kool Bob Love) is a street ball player and hip hop DJ. He co-founded Bounce Magazine and has been playing basketball in New York City's parks since 1973.

Kevin Couliau is a professional outdoor basketball photographer and film director. He's been playing basketball since age six.

Their film Doin' It The Park is touring the world, and is available for direct download on their website.

Click here to listen or share Doin' It in the Park with Bobbito Garcia and Kevin Couliau on Soundcloud

Shirley Caesar on The Song That Changed My Life: "The Lord Will Make a Way Somehow"

As a little girl growing up in North Carolina, the gospel song "The Lord Will Make a Way Somehow" inspired Shirley Caesar to keep trucking when times were tough. But it wasn't just a stirring piece of music. Just a few years later, that same song catapulted her from anonymity to national tours and a career of over sixty years (and counting).

Gospel singer, eleven-time Grammy winner and pastor Shirley Caesar on the song that changed her life: Thomas A. Dorsey's "The Lord Will Make A Way Somehow".

Pastor Caesar's newest album is Good God. She continues to tour nationwide.

Click here to listen or share Shirley Caesar on "The Song That Changed My Life" on Soundcloud

The AV Club Recommends: "Immunity" by Jon Hopkins and "The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceaușescu"

We are joined this week by two critics from the A.V. Club -- news editor Sean O'Neal and film editor Alex Dowd.

Sean recommends a listen to Immunity, the new album from the UK-based electronic music producer Jon Hopkins.

Alex suggests watching The Autobiography of Nicolae Ceaușescu, a fascinating documentary compiled entirely from state-sanctioned footage of Ceausescu's brutal reign as dictator of Romania. The movie is out now on DVD.

Click here to listen or share The AV Club's Recommendations on Soundcloud

In One End And Out The Other With Mary Roach

We eat food every day, but for most of us, our exposure to it is confined to the input and output. In her new book Gulp: Adventures On The Alimentary Canal, the bestselling science writer Mary Roach shares some hilarious, enlightening tales about the beginning, middle, and end of this journey, and all of the grossly fascinating science that goes along with it.

Plus, we'll talk about eating dog food and the REAL story behind Elvis' death. Yes, we went there.

Mary Roach has tackled the science behind death, sex, space travel and more in five other books, which can be found here. If you can't get enough of Mary (we definitely can't!), check out this past interview about her last book, Packing For Mars.

Click here to listen or share Mary Roach and "Gulp: Adventures on the Alimentary Canal" on Soundcloud

The Outshot: Prince's "Dirty Mind"

Prince is one of the rare artists whose name has become synonymous with an entire era of sound. Jesse explains how Prince's 1980 album Dirty Mind was the turning point in his career, marking a transformation from musician to music god.

Click here to listen or share The Outshot: Prince's Dirty Mind on Soundcloud

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Bullseye With Jesse Thorn: Jackson Publick, Lemmy

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Jackson Publick
Guests: 
Lemmy
Guests: 
Jason Kottke
Guests: 
Justin McElroy
Guests: 
Travis McElroy
Guests: 
Griffin McElroy

This week: a look back at some of our favorite interviews in past years.

The Venture Bros' Co-Creator Jackson Publick on The Space Race, Motherless Characters, and Affectionate Parody

This interview originally aired in 2007.

Jackson Publick is the co-creator of the Cartoon Network [adult swim] series The Venture Bros. The show just returned for a fifth season, after a multi-year hiatus. The series is a sometimes bizarre, often surprisingly heartfelt parody of the boys' adventure genre.

Publick talks about the space race, creating affectionate parodies, and the loss of his mother (and how it shaped the fictional world of The Venture Bros).

The Venture Bros. airs Sundays at midnight on Cartoon Network's [adult swim].

Jason Kottke on Children-by-Mail and a Physics Thought Experiment

This segment originally aired in January 2013.

Jason Kottke, proprietor of Kottke.org, a collection of some of the most interesting links the internet has to offer, joins us this week to share some all-time internet picks. First, he enlightens us about the practice of sending children through the mail. He also shares a mind-bending physics thought experiment -- if an airplane moves forward on a conveyor belt that's moving in the opposite direction at the same speed, can the airplane take off?

Pop Culture Advice with My Brother, My Brother and Me

This segment originally aired in February 2012.

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.


Lemmy, center, with the Bullseye crew and videographer Ben Harrison at Stubb's BBQ at South by Southwest 2010

Motörhead's Lemmy on The Beatles, Drugs, and Creating a Signature Sound

A cut of our 2010 interview with Lemmy Kilmister at South by Southwest. Click through to see video and hear a longer cut of this interview.

Lemmy, the frontman of Motörhead, is a legend to metalheads worldwide. We spoke to him as a documentary about his life premiered at South by Southwest. Lemmy talks to us about seeing The Beatles for the very first time, how dropping acid brought him a new awareness of himself, and creating his own signature bass sound.

Lemmy, the documentary about his life from directors Wes Orshoski and Greg Olliver, is available now on DVD and Blu-ray. A new album from Motörhead is due this September.

The Outshot: Digable Planets’ Blowout Comb

This segment originally aired in June 2012.

For The Outshot this week, Jesse highlights the relaxed, harmonious hip hop sound of Digable Planets' revolutionary but commercially disastrous 1994 record Blowout Comb.
Blowout Comb has just been reissued by Light in the Attic on limited edition vinyl.

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