Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Kaitlin Olson & Jeff Chang

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Kaitlin Olson
Jeff Chang

Photo: Frederick M. Brown/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Kaitlin Olson on "Sweet Dee" and the Morally Bankruptcy in It's Always Sunny on Philadelphia

Kaitlin Olson plays Sweet Dee on the long-running sitcom It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia. Dee is the only female member of "The Gang", a bunch of depraved, self-centered pals who run a bar. The Gang is constantly looking for ways to get rich quick, humiliate their enemies, get out of work, and prove once and for all the talent, charisma and brilliance they hold to be self-evident. In an unusual move for a solo female character, Dee doesn't serve to counterbalance the guys' bad behavior -- she absolutely matches their pace.

Olson talks to us about creating a more fully-fleshed character for Dee, how she came to comedy, and how she ended up dating (and marrying) her showrunner.

It's Always Sunny in Philadelphia is currently in its tenth season. It airs Wednesday nights at 10pm on FXX.

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Photo credit: Jeremy Keith Villaluz

Jeff Chang on Art, Race, and How Diversity Now Means "Them"

About ten years ago, Jeff Chang published his book Can't Stop Won't Stop: A History of the Hip-Hop Generation. His new book is a sort of follow-up -- it chronicles some of the cultural and racial shifts we've experienced as a nation. It's called Who We Be: The Colorization of America.

Chang talks to us about what "diversity" means to us today, the struggle for artists to defy racial categorization, and how and why corporations embraced multiculturalism.

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The Outshot: What It Means to Be Superhuman

Jesse tells us about the life and legend of Andre the Giant.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Merrill Garbus of Tune-Yards and John Darnielle

Merrill Garbus
John Darnielle
Josh Dorman

If you're in Los Angeles, come see Bullseye with Jesse Thorn LIVE on Wednesday, October 15th at the Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

Featuring conversation with Rob Corddry (Wedlock, Childrens Hospital) and Dan Harmon (Community, Harmontown), music from Sara Watkins (Nickel Creek, Watkins Family Hour), comedy from Steve Agee (New Girl, The Sarah Silverman Program) and Andy Kindler (Maron, Letterman) and more! Plus, your ticket gets you a free beer after the show at our meet-and-greet sponsored by NPR's Generation Listen.

Tickets are going fast - get yours now!


Michael Loccisano/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs on Discovering the Ukulele, Hip Hop, and a Sense of Place

Merrill Garbus is the creative force behind the musical project tUnE-yArDs. The group’s first album, BiRd-BrAiNs, was released in 2009 and if it sounds lo-fi, it's because it is. Garbus recorded the album almost entirely on handheld voice-recorder. All those music loops? She created them by copying and pasting the sound files over and over on her computer.

tUnE-yArDs released a new album earlier this year. It’s called Nikki Nack. It still features the band's signature mix of drum loops, samples and ukulele, but it’s a much smoother-sounding production than their debut.

Garbus talks to us about why she was drawn to the ukulele as a hormonal teenager, how she fell into producing Bay area hip hop, and how to weave political and social issues into music without getting preachy.

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Landscape with Yellow Birds, Paul Klee

Memento Mori, Josh Dorman

"I Wish I'd Made That": Josh Dorman Experiments with Childlike Vision

Artists are always influenced by the work of others. And sometimes, something that an artist sees is so good, so perfect that they wish they had made it themselves.

This happens so often to the people we talk to, that we made a segment about it. It’s called I Wish I’d Made That.

Josh Dorman is a fine artist from New York. He specializes in invented landscapes, created in a mixture of collage, drawing and painting. His images play around with the ideas of time and space to create an unusual reality.

Dorman was a sophomore in college when he discovered Paul Klee and his painting Landscape With Yellow Birds. And it really affected him -- maybe too much? He'll explain.

If you’re in New York, you can see Josh Dorman’s solo exhibition, Whorled, at the Ryan Lee Gallery, through October 11.

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John Darnielle on 'Wolf in White Van', Working with Teenagers, and Artistic Responsibility

You probably know John Darnielle as lead member (and sometimes only member) of the band The Mountain Goats. His music is known for its poignant lyrics and simple instrumentation. Darnielle started the band in 1991 and has since released 14 albums.

Now, he’s written his first novel, which is long-listed for the National Book Award for Fiction.

Wolf In White Van is the story of Sean, a young man who has survived a suicide attempt, but is horribly disfigured in the process. Sean goes on to create a mail-order role-playing game, only to find out how his imagination can have real-world consequences.

Darnielle talks to Jesse about why lyrics are so important to him, subliminal messaging, and how much artistic responsibility we should assign to writers, musicians, and other creative people.

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The Outshot: The Area Man

Jesse praises the true hero of The Onion: The Area Man.

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Josh Dorman: Lost Divers


An artist named Josh Dorman emailed me from New York a month or two ago. He told me that he used to listen to music while he worked, but he'd spent the past few months listening to nothing but The Sound of Young America.

Podcasts are popular among those working in visual fields, especially lonely ones where people work solo and crave human voices. I do get an email like this from time to time, and it's always nice to hear. Not usually, though, am I so struck by the work. Dorman's paintings are beautiful, a sort of visual wunderkammer, with archaic illustration aesthetics and painting techniques getting all mixed up with maps and print and gorgeous palettes.

His show, Lost Divers, runs for about another month at Mary Ryan Gallery in New York. They're at 527 W. 26th St., and they're open pretty regular hours. I wish I was in NYC so I could take a look in person.

Graham Clark Paints with His Beard - on Televison!


Our own Graham Clark of Stop Podcasting Yourself is also an accomplished artist who creates charming paintings using his beard as a brush. The subject matter is lively, fun and diverse ranging from a portrait of Don Rickles to two robots playing leapfrog. He has painted and sold more then 50 pieces and donates all of the proceeds to charity.

That's all terrific, but, let's best honest: you've lost countless hours of sleep wondering how he does it, right? Now, finally, you can watch his beard in action!

Video bonus: Graham discusses his painterly technique with an attractive blonde lady wearing a v-neck garbage bag.

Brandon Bird in Your Pocket


I'm happy to announce that, in exchange for a rather modest portion of your worldly fortune, you may now obtain protective covers that will permit you to carry the delightful artwork of Brandon Bird on your iphone, in your pocket, near your heart.

Lucky, lucky you.

"Graham Clark: Beard Paintings" at Vancouver's Olio Festival


On Thursday, September 22nd, the Little Mountain Gallery in Vancouver will host the opening reception for an exhibit of beard paintings created by our own Graham Clark of Stop Podcasting Yourself. What is a beard painting? Well, as the name suggests, it's a work created by the application of paint to canvass using facial hair. Although Graham has been creating paintings this way for some time, it's his first show exhibiting this methodology and the money from any painting sold will go to a charity of the purchaser's choice.

After the opening, the exhibit will run until September 27th. You can find all of the details, including the time and location, here.

Lynda Barry, author of Picture This and What It Is: Interview on The Sound of Young America

Lynda Barry

Lynda Barry is a legendary comic strip author whose Ernie Pook's Comeek has run for many years in alternative newspapers around the country. Her two most recent books, What It Is and Picture This are about writing and creating art, respectively. The former won an Eisner Award, comics' most prestigious prize. The books take the form of a notebook, filled with text, collage and drawings. The content is based on a series of seminars Barry has taught on getting creative work done. In our interview, Barry talks with Jesse about activating the brain and the benefit of doing creative work that doesn't need to fall into the dichotomy of beautiful/not beautiful, good art/not good art, or being productive/being nonproductive.

JESSE THORN: It’s The Sound of Young America, I’m Jesse Thorn. My guest on the program is Lynda Barry. She’s one of the nation’s most accomplished comics artists, graphic novelists, comic strip writers, artists, etc. etc. Her comics have run in alternative newspapers across the country for many, many, many years and more recently she’s turned much of her time towards writing longer works. Her book of just a couple of years ago, What It Is, was about the process of writing, and her latest, Picture This, is about the process of making art. They’re beautiful multimedia comics collage works that, as I said, are about process.

Lynda Barry, welcome to The Sound of Young America.

LYNDA BARRY: I’m delighted to be here.

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UCSC Print Sale This Weekend


Every year in college, my favorite event was the UCSC Print Sale. The whole studio art department at UCSC sells prints for absurdly low prices for one long weekend. My house is still full of things I bought at the print sale, and if I were in the Bay Area, I'd be planning to drive down right now. If you're in Silicon Valley, it's a great excuse to get over the hill and spend a great day in the Scruz, and if you're already in the Monterey Bay Area, you should just go. It's great.

The Throne of the Third Heaven


One of the most amazing things in the world is the Throne of the Third Heaven The Nations Millennium General Assembly. James Hampton, a janitor, was called by God to create it, and worked on it secretly for 14 years in a rented garage. It was intended to herald the Second Coming. The throne is huge, nearly ten feet tall, and made of foil and scavenged materials. It was discovered after Hampton's death, and is considered quite rightly to be one of the most remarkable pieces in the history of American folk art.

The throne, composed of humble materials, is spectacularly beautiful, and every piece vibrates with the care of an untrained hand driven by divine revelation to create beauty. It was literally Hampton's life's work: he never created another work of art.

I saw some amazing pieces of art at the Smithsonian this weekend in DC, but the Throne of the Third Heaven of the Nations Millenium General Assembly is always the highlight of the nation's capital for me.

"Ahn. Hm." by Daniel Ferreira


A month or two ago, an artist from Brazil named Daniel Ferreira emailed me to ask me permission to use a Sound of Young America podcast to make a derivative work. I was more than happy to say yes, and the product was a wonderful bit of sound art called "Ahn. Hm."

Here's what Ferreira says about the piece:
"The idea behind this was to remove all audio except for the portions referring to the secondary functions of language, like the emotive (non-verbal sounds) and the phatic (referring to the message itself or to the communication channel)."

I think it's kind of beautiful and completely fascinating. One thing I really like about it is that he focuses on how these sounds do have meaning -- they're not just noises we make if we're too dumb to make words. Sometimes I get an email from an irate radio listener upset because there are too many "likes" and "uhms" in the show. From now on, I'll share this piece with them.

The interview used is our show from last year, with cartoonist Ariel Schrag.

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