books

Rendered #2 Choose Your Own Adventure!

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Panels from "Meanwhile" by Jason Shiga
Show: 
Rendered
Guests: 
Choose Your Own Adventure author Edward Packard
Guests: 
ChooseCo publisher Shannon Gilligan
Guests: 
Actor Neil Patrick Harris (kind of)*
Guests: 
Cartoonist Jason Shiga
Guests: 
Author Doug Wilhelm
Guests: 
Multnomah County Library youth services outreach worker Cathy Camper

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If, like me, you’re a child of the ‘80s, you probably remember Choose Your Own Adventure books. For a lot of us, it was our first experience with reading for fun.

Whether you were a die-hard fan of Choose Your Own Adventure (CYOA) books or you're just discovering them for the first time, there is something in this episode for you. I talked to Edward Packard, who wrote the very first CYOA book and Shannon Gilligan, whose late husband, Ray Montgomery was a CYOA writer and the first publisher to take a chance on this innovative storytelling format. Shannon was a CYOA author herself and she now runs ChooseCo, the company that's now publishing some of the classic CYOA titles. You'll also hear from Jason Shiga, a huge CYOA fan and the cartoonist behind Meanwhile — a CYOA-style graphic novel for kids.

*Was I able to convince Choose Your Own Autobiography author Neil Patrick Harris to come on the show? There's only one way to find out!

After you listen, you'll probably want to check out Edward Packard's U-Ventures along with the ChooseCo books and CYOA author Doug Whilhelm's work. Youth librarian Cathy Camper also has a fantastic graphic novel for kids that should not be missed. It's called Lowriders in Space.

Thanks for listening and for supporting Rendered!

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: RuPaul & Terry Crews

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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.

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CLICK HERE TO DOWNLOAD THIS WEEK'S EPISODE


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RuPaul on the Many Shades of Drag

Before he was the world's most famous drag queen, RuPaul was just a kid growing up in San Diego, California. But he knew something was different about him. He noticed things that other people didn't. He found joy in the irreverence of characters like Bugs Bunny, and TV shows like Monty Python's Flying Circus. When he was still in his teens, he packed his bags and followed his sister to Atlanta. He attended performing arts high school, and a brief stint as a car salesman, he started performing with a couple of underground bands. They were searching for a way to be subversive, and decided to perform in drag. RuPaul found that something clicked -- both for himself, and for the audience.

He spent years performing and appearing on public access TV, but he became an international star with his 1992 hit single, "Supermodel".

Recently, he's hosted RuPaul's Drag Race, a reality competition series featuring RuPaul as host and mentor to the contestants as they battle to become America's next drag superstar. Drag Race is now in its seventh season on LOGO TV.

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Carolyn Kellogg Recommends: Cryonics and Gangsters

We're joined by Carolyn Kellogg to talk about books!

Her first recommendation is a memoir about a TV repairman's obsession with immortality that leads to his professional pursuit of cryonics -- the art of freezing people. It's called Freezing People Is (Not) Easy: My Adventures in Cryonics by Bob Nelson, Kenneth Bly and Sally Magana.

Her second recommendation is a twining novel about the legendary gangster Meyer Lansky and a murder investigation in Israel, called Jacket Copy.

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My Brother My Brother and Me Solve Your Cultural Quandaries

The hosts of the podcast My Brother, My Brother and Me won't hesitate to give their advice, though they don't always suggest you follow it.

Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy and Griffin McElroy stop by Bullseye to answer some of our listeners' cultural quandaries. Here are their takes on dealing with your parents' (terrible) TV recommendations, what it means to hog a game at a barcade, and how comedians should respond to hecklers in the crowd.

If you’ve still got questions that need answers, the McElroy brothers host a weekly advice show for the modern era called My Brother, My Brother, and Me. You can subscribe wherever you download podcasts, and send your queries to mbmbam@maximumfun.org.

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Brooklyn Nine-Nine's Terry Crews on Art, Athletics, and Comedy

Terry Crews has taken a pretty unconventional path. He played football in college, but he didn't go on scholarship, and joined the team as a walk on. He played in the NFL for years as a linebacker with the Rams and the Chargers, but when he was done, he didn't become a sports commentator.

Instead, Crews went back to one of his first loves -- the arts. And while he continues his devotion to his workout regimen, he now uses his physicality in his work as an actor. He's worked steadily in a string of movies like The Longest Yard and The Expendables, and adds a tough-but-caring element to his characters in TV shows like Everybody Hates Chris and Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

You can see him now as an essential part of Brooklyn Nine-Nine's ensemble as the police detective and family man, Sergeant Terry Jeffords.

Brooklyn Nine-Nine airs Sunday nights on FOX.

Crews is also the author of a memoir, called Manhood: How to Be a Better Man - or Just Live with One.

This week, Crews tells us about growing up in Flint, Michigan, discovering his love of both art and physical fitness, the difficulty of ending an NFL career, and the joys of working on Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

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The Outshot: Nas' Illmatic

Jesse shares the greatest hip-hop album ever recorded, Nas' Illmatic. A bold claim? Yes. A true claim? Also yes.

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This episode originally aired March 25, 2014.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Nick Hornby & Luis Guzmán

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Nick Hornby
Guests: 
Luis Guzmán

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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Nick Hornby on 'Funny Girl', Creativity and Ambition

Nick Hornby became famous as a literary writer for men. His first three books were about guys, fans specifically, Fever Pitch was a memoir about Hornby’s love of soccer; High Fidelity was about a record store owner, struggling with love. About A Boy was about a sort of boyish man tending to a mannish boy.

Hornby has since written several other books and screenplays, including Oscar nominee An Education.

His new novel, Funny Girl, is about a working class young woman in the 1960s who leaves her small town in search of a career on television, and her success on a BBC sitcom.

He sat down with Jesse to talk about why he set his novel in the mid-60s (and why its protagonist is a woman), personal ambition and creativity, and what it's like to be a Hollywood dinner guest.

Funny Girl is available now.

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Luis Guzmán of Ana Maria in Novela Land on 'The Part'

Luis Guzmán is a veteran character actor. But back in the early 1990s, he was still working as a social worker on the Lower East Side, and acting was more of a side gig. Then he got a role that put him on the map -- the thuggish sidekick Pachanga in the 1993 movie Carlito's Way.

As Guzmán tells it, everything crystallized with that role.

You can see Luis Guzmán playing evil lawyer Licenciado Schmidt in the new movie Ana Maria in Novela Land, in theaters now.

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The Outshot: Devil in a Blue Dress

Jesse explains why Easy Rawlins, of Devil in A Blue Dress, is a different breed of private detective.

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Judge John Hodgman Episode 191: TL;DNR

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Andy brings the case against his friend Katie. Several years ago, he persuaded her to read his favorite fantasy series. She also agreed to finish the series by his birthday. The date has come and gone, but Katie has not completed the books. Should she pick up the pace?

Thanks to Joseph Wang for this week's case name!

San Francisco Bay area! See Judge John Hodgman Live! Judge Hodgman will return to mete out justice as part of SF Sketchfest on Friday, February 6th at Marines Memorial Theater. The show is almost 90% sold out as of this posting!

Tickets available here

More information about the show and Sketchfest available here.

We need YOU to submit cases to be heard that evening! If you and another party
- reside in the SF Bay area, or will be able to attend the show on February 6
- have a legitimate beef, large or small

... write us with the details! Send it directly to hodgman@maximumfun.org or submit via our webform here.

SUBSCRIBE TO THIS PODCAST in ITUNES or the RSS FEED

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: George Takei and Damian Abraham of ****ed Up

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
George Takei
Guests: 
Damian Abraham
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.

If you're in Los Angeles, come hang with us at a cemetery this October. For real! It's how we're kicking off MaxFunWeek. Find details and ticket information here for our upcoming live show on 10/15 at Hollywood Forever's Masonic Lodge.

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What Is it Like "To Be Takei"? George Takei on Growing Up Japanese-American (and Gay), Acting Challenges and Yes, 'Star Trek'

Star Trek: The Original Series broke ground with its debut in 1966. The show had a multiethnic cast, and creator Gene Roddenberry tackled social issues in a futuristic setting. George Takei was an original castmember, and helped paved the way for Asian-American actors on television with his character Hikaru Sulu.

Takei went on to reprise his role in the animated Star Trek series and six Star Trek movies. He's also accumulated dozens of other acting and voiceover credits, from the 1956 Japanese monster movie Rodan, to The Simpsons, to Heroes.

But the new documentary To Be Takei goes beyond his acting career to show Takei's remarkable backstory and his positivity in the face of adversity. Before he even began kindergarten, he and his family were ordered at gunpoint to a U.S. internment camp for Japanese-Americans. In puberty, he realized that his emerging crushes were on boys, not girls. Takei chose to remain closeted for decades, to shelter his acting career from any fallout over his sexuality.

Takei spoke to us about his family's struggle to retain normalcy during and after their imprisonment in an American internment camp, starring in the Twilight Zone episode that America couldn't handle, and the impact that being gay has had on his personal and professional life. (Yes, there's a Star Trek question in there too.)

To Be Takei is now in theaters and available on VOD.

If you liked this, share it! Click here for a streaming, embeddable version of this interview.

Satisfying Thrills, Chills and Noir: Carolyn Kellogg on New Books

Los Angeles Times book critic Carolyn Kellogg stops by to talk about two innovative new books that should satisfy your need for thrills and chills, or noir-ish detectives and dames.

Her first recommendation is Broken Monsters, by Lauren Beukes, a supernatural detective story set in present-day Detroit.

She also suggests checking out Kill My Mother, by acclaimed cartoonist and writer Jules Feiffer. It's a graphic novel which gives a new twist on noir.

Carolyn Kellogg covers books for the Los Angeles Times. You can find her writing online in the Times' book blog, Jacket Copy or follow her on Twitter @paperhaus.

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"Music by Participation": Damian Abraham of ****ed Up on Finding Punk Rock

What happens when a hardcore band makes a rock opera, or quadruple tracks their drums, or writes a beautiful love song? Damian Abraham's band, ****ed Up, has done all of that and more. They started back in 2001, and have only gotten more ambitious over time.

Abraham, also known as Father Damian or Pink Eyes, got his first taste of punk rock as a fourteen-year-old, when the lead singer of the band he was seeing jumped off stage and tackled him and his friends. Abraham loved that punk wasn't "music by observation", it was "music by participation".

He talks to us about what it's like to have punk rock be your life and career, the circumstances that spurred his decision to drop his straightedge lifestyle, and the aesthetics of his music.

****ed Up's newest album is Glass Boys. The band will wrap up a string of U.S. tourdates shortly, and will tour Canada in September.

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The Outshot: 'Learned Pigs & Fireproof Women'

Jesse thinks you too might be charmed by magician Ricky Jay's history of Learned Pigs and Fireproof Women.

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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.

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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.

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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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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Carl Wilson, Max Greenfield, Moby

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Carl Wilson
Guests: 
Max Greenfield
Guests: 
Moby
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.

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How We Decide What's Good... and What's Bad: Carl Wilson on Celine Dion and the Nature of Taste

Carl Wilson is a music critic. His job is to tell people why certain music is good, and why other music isn't. You could call him a tastemaker. But he started to wonder. How does taste even work? To find out, he immersed himself in the music, life and fandom of Celine Dion.

Wilson is the author of Let's Talk About Love: Why Other People Have Such Bad Taste, a reissued and expanded version of the book he published in 2007. It's about Celine and her bestselling album from 1997, but more importantly it's an exploration of why we like some music and hate other music. Wilson's journey made him question how we place value on art, and has affected the way he approaches his work in music criticism.

He talks about Dion's Quebecois background (and why it matters), how she and her music relate to "coolness," and why experiencing a Celine Dion concert in Las Vegas helped open him up to her true appeal.

Looking for Rich Juzwiak's "Celine Dion is Amazing" compilation video mentioned in the interview? We'll save you a Google search.

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Carolyn Kellogg Recommends Summer Reads

We're joined by Carolyn Kellogg, book critic for the Los Angeles Times, to talk about two new books that recently hit the shelves.

Her first recommendation is a thriller called The Fever by Megan Abbott. The novel explores what happens when teenagers in a small Northeast town get hit with a mysterious illness, which tests teenage friendships and the strength of a family.

Kellogg also recommends a memoir about a girl and her father. It's not your typical father-daughter-bonding tale. Maria Venegas writes about reconnecting with her estranged father in Bulletproof Vest: Ballad of an Outlaw and his Daughter.

You can find Kellogg's writing in the Los Angeles Times or on their blog, Jacket Copy.

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Moby on "My Way" by Sid Vicious: The Song That Changed My Life

Moby is one of the most successful electronic musicians in the world. But he didn't start fiddling with synthesizers and drum machines as a kid -- he was studying classical guitar. Then, his world changed with just one song.

Moby tells us about the song that changed his life, Frank Sinatra's "My Way" as performed by Sid Vicious.

Moby's newest album is called Innocents.

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Max Greenfield Explains: What Makes New Girl's Schmidt Tick

Max Greenfield stars as Schmidt on FOX's series New Girl. His character is so sweet and enthusiastic in his bro-y-ness, you can't help but love him. Schmidt is frequently shirtless, occasionally naked, and never less than transparent in his striving.

Schmidt was a breakout role for Greenfield, and before he got it, he would read audition lines with his wife, who happens to be a casting director. He talks about how she can be his toughest critic, how he and Schmidt are most alike, and how mispronouncing words like "chutney" came to be part of Schmidt's essence.

New Girl just ended its third season on Fox. Both the show and Greenfield's role have been submitted for Emmy consideration.

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The Outshot: East Side Story

You probably know what a low rider is. But what do you know about low rider oldies? Jesse talks about the perfect music for driving low and slow.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Luis Guzman

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Looking for information on this week's episode of Bullseye?

Luis Guzman: From activist and social worker to prolific character actor

Luis Guzman is one of America's most successful and prolific character actors. He's appeared in dozens of films and television series, from Short Eyes in the 1970s to Miami Vice in the 1980s to Carlito's Way, Boogie Nights and The Limey in the 1990s. He made a name for himself playing thugs and cops. A few years ago, he was on the short-lived but beloved series How To Make It In America.

He talks with us about growing up in New York's Lower East Side, and about his work there as an activist and social worker. As a teen, he hung out at the legendary New Yorican Poets Cafe, watching poets and writers like Amiri Baraka, Allen Ginsburg and Miguel Piñero. Piñero ended up casting Guzman in Short Eyes, and got him his first television audition for Miami Vice. Since then, Guzman has become a favorite of directors like P.T. Anderson and Steven Soderbergh.

Pitchfork's Ian Cohen on his Favorite Heavy Rock

Ian Cohen, contributing editor at Pitchfork, stops by to recommend some of his all-time favorite heavy rock releases.

He tells us about an album which (in a move unusual for its genre) has an entirely pink cover. Deafheaven’s newest album, Sunbather, has been well-received and is on its way to becoming “an absolute landmark.”

In addition, Ian recommends the most recent Swans album,The Seer. In a bold creative move, the band creates a title track well over thirty minutes long.

Artisanal Pencil Sharpening with David Rees

If you knew about David Rees in the 2000s, it was probably for his indie political cartoon Get Your War On. When we caught up with Rees a few years ago, he had decided to get back in touch with an old-school writing instrument -- the pencil. Rees started his own artisanal pencil sharpening service, sharpening bespoke pencils, and wrote a book called How To Sharpen Pencils. Rees joined us to discuss the lost art of pencil sharpening.

Be on the lookout for Rees' upcoming show on the National Geographic Channel, Going Deep with David Rees, this summer.

The Outshot: Threat by Jay-Z

Rap isn't poetry – it's its own thing. But, like poets, many of the best rappers imbue their lyrics with layers of meaning. Need proof? Jesse suggests a close listen to a single verse of Jay-Z's "Threat".

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