Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Weird Al, Geoff Nunberg, Andrew Noz

Weird Al Yankovic
Geoff Nunberg
Andrew Noz

Hip Hop with Andrew Noz: DJ Quik's Pacific Coast Remix and Rammellzee's Beat Bop

Hip hop blogger and Pitchfork columnist Andrew Noz joins us with a couple of his all-time favorite hip hop tracks. His first recommendation is Pacific Coast Remix by DJ Quik (featuring Ludacris), a track devoted to sunny Los Angeles's dark side. He also suggests checking out the 1983 track Beat Bop by Rammellzee and K-Rob. It's a song from an era where the uptown and downtown communities mingled in a way that the rap world would rarely see again.

Weird Al Yankovic: King of Parody

Weird Al Yankovic is the undisputed king of parody music. Inspired by the novelty songs he heard on broadcasts of The Dr. Demento Show, Yankovic began writing his own comedy songs for the accordion -- starting with a love song to his parents' car, entitled Belvedere Cruisin'.

He sat down with us in 2011, before his album Alpocalypse was released. He talks about his food parodies (think "Eat It"), his special talent for rapping, and having an unusually long and successful career for a parodist (or musician of any kind).

Weird Al just kicked off a nationwide summer tour. He's also just released a new children's book, My New Teacher and Me. You can find more information .

Linguist Geoff Nunberg on The First Sixty Years of Assholism

Geoff Nunberg is a professor at UC Berkeley, the resident linguist of Fresh Air, and the author of Ascent of the A-Word: Assholism, the First Sixty Years. He talks to us about his studies into the word "asshole," which began life as a bit of slang used by WWII servicemen and has come to envelop the concept of modern incivility.

We spoke in 2012. The book is now out in paperback.

(More of our conversation with Geoff Nunberg that didn't make the radio edit! Click to listen and share.)

The Outshot: The Late Show with David Letterman

Jesse explains what makes David Letterman such an especially gifted late night host in a world of very good late night hosts.

Got a cultural gem of your own? Pick your own Outshot on the MaxFun Forum.>

(Embed or share this Outshot on David Letterman)

Embeddable Audio Player Code (Copy and Paste)

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Christopher Guest & Dan Kennedy

Christopher Guest
Dan Kennedy
Marah Eakin
Andrea Battleground

Like what you hear? Subscribe to Bullseye in iTunes or your favorite RSS reader, which often contains extended interviews that we just can't fit on the radio.

Already a subscriber? Awesome – and thank you! If you like what you hear, do us a favor and rate and review the show in iTunes. Next to sharing the show with a friend (which is also pretty cool), it's one of the best ways you can help introduce the show to even more folks.

Christopher Guest on Making "Family Tree" and Pitch-Perfect Parodies

Christopher Guest is best known for his faux-documentary comedies: films like This Is Spinal Tap, Best in Show, and A Mighty Wind. His very earliest work was in the theater -- he co-wrote National Lampoon's Lemmings -- and then in the mid-80s, he made a quick foray into television on Saturday Night Live.

Now he's returned to TV with a comedy created for HBO, Family Tree. The show follows wayward thirty-something Tom Chadwick (played by Chris O'Dowd), who digs deep into his family's history after being dumped by his longtime girlfriend. Though Guest's films usually follow a specific subculture (that of dog shows, community musical theater, or the world of heavy metal), Family Tree focuses on Tom, his family, and the many people he meets while trying to dig up genealogical dirt.

Guest joins us to talk about what makes bad music parodies so awful, how to keep from being swayed by film critics' reviews, and the most bizarre reaction to a Hollywood pitch that he's ever received.

Family Tree airs Sunday nights at 10:30pm on HBO.

Embed and Share Christopher Guest on Making "Family Tree" and Pitch-Perfect Parodies

Summer Rock Recommendations from The AV Club: Mikal Cronin's MCII and Vampire Weekend's "Modern Vampires of the City"

Summer's almost here – so why not celebrate with some new music? The AV Club's Music Editor Marah Eakin and Lead Copy Editor Andrea Battleground have a couple albums in mind. Andrea suggests checking out Mikal Cronin's latest album, MCII, a garage-rock record that brings a poppy, melodic twist to the genre. Marah's pick is Vampire Weekend's Modern Vampires of the City, the latest record from the New York-based indie rock band that she says is just as much fun coming from your speakers as it is live.

Embed and Share Summer Rock Recommendations from The AV Club: Mikal Cronin's MCII and Vampire Weekend's "Modern Vampires of the City"

Nick Krill of The Spinto Band on "The Song That Changed My Life": "Pueblo Nuevo" by The Buena Vista Social Club

Nick Krill was stuck in a musical rut. He'd been listening to the same records for years, and was happy doing it. But while he was on tour, he heard something that nudged him to branch out again. That song was "Pueblo Nuevo" by The Buena Vista Social Club – a song that got him thinking about rhythm and composition in totally new ways.

The Spinto Band's latest record, Cool Cocoon, was released earlier this year.

Embed and Share Nick Krill of The Spinto Band on "The Song That Changed My Life": "Pueblo Nuevo" by The Buena Vista Social Club

Dan Kennedy on Making His Most Personal Moments Public

Here's something terrifying about the internet: once something's out there, it's out there. Sure, your Facebook and Twitter posts have a handy delete button next to them, but clicking on them is no guarantee that they'll go away forever.

That's something Dan Kennedy's painfully aware of. As a writer, host of The Moth storytelling podcast, and an acerbically brilliant Twitter user, he gets more mileage than most of us do from taking his most personal moments and making them public. But Kennedy's found that this kind of sharing can have its downsides – hence his first novel, American Spirit, which just came out today. The book has a few anecdotes inspired by Kennedy's real life. American Spirit follows Matthew, a fired media executive whose life is falling apart; in fact, things are so bad, he finds himself divorced and living in his car. But in spite of the plot's direness, American Spirit is strangely hilarious and life affirming.

Dan Kennedy sits down with us to discuss how he inadvertently started working on the book long before he sat down to knock out a first draft, the responsibilities that writing non-fiction brings, and why living each day as if it was your last is actually a really terrible idea.

American Spirit was just released today. You can hear Kennedy as the host of The Moth Podcast.

Embed and Share Dan Kennedy on Making His Most Personal Moments Public

The Outshot: "Coney Island"

Ever feel nostalgia for a time or place that you never even experienced firsthand? That's what Jesse felt after watching Ric Burns' documentary Coney Island, a beautiful portrait of America caught somewhere between its past and its future.

Embed and Share Jesse's Outshot: Coney Island

Embeddable Audio Player Code (Copy and Paste)

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Nile Rodgers, Mark Frauenfelder

Nile Rodgers
Mark Frauenfelder

Mark Frauenfelder Recommends: The Hunter by Richard Stark and Every Noise At Once

BoingBoing founder and editor Mark Frauenfelder joins us to share a few of his all-time favorite pop culture picks. His first recommendation is The Hunter, a dark 1962 novel reminiscent of antihero-driven television shows like Breaking Bad. Next, you'll need something to soothe your senses – how about some new music? Check out Every Noise At Once, a website that introduces listeners to obscure genres from Arab soul to zouk.

Disco Pioneer Nile Rodgers on Producing Hits, The Legacy of Disco, and the "Deep Hidden Meaning"

You might not recognize Nile Rodgers, who began his music career as part of the purposely faceless band Chic -- but you'd definitely know his music if you heard it. He founded Chic with bassist Bernard Edwards, launched a string of hits including "Le Freak" and "Good Times", and went on to become a songwriting and producing superstar with a tried-and-true formula.

The anthem "We are Family"? That's one of his, too. He was behind Diana Ross' "I'm Coming Out", David Bowie's "Let's Dance", and Madonna's "Like a Virgin". He continues to make and perform music, both with Chic and as a producer. This month, you can hear him on Daft Punk's new album Random Access Memories, contributing a signature guitar sound to the single "Get Lucky".

Back in 2011, Rodgers spoke with us about a beatnik childhood, decades of writing hits (including the gay anthem "I'm Coming Out" for Diana Ross), and the legacy of disco.

His memoir is Le Freak: An Upside Down Story of Family, Disco, and Destiny.

(This interview originally aired in November 2011.)

Nichols and May Examine Doctors

Who are Mike Nichols and Elaine May? You might know them both for their film and theater work (among many other things, Nichols directed The Graduate and May helmed The Heartbreak Kid). But first, they performed as a improvisational comedy duo in the early 1960s on TV and on bestselling comedy albums, often fixed on skewering relationships. Case in point: a classic comedy sketch from 1962's Nichols and May Examine Doctors, in which a workplace fling becomes a matter of life or death.

Nichols and May Examine Doctors was recently reissued as a CD and digital download.

The Outshot: Bill Cunningham New York

Jesse examines the often superficial fashion world and finds a stunningly sincere and emotional portrait of a man. The man is New York Times fashion photographer Bill Cunningham, and the portrait is Richard Press's biographical documentary Bill Cunningham New York.

(This segment originally aired in April 2012.)

Embed and Share The Outshot: Bill Cunningham New York

Embeddable Audio Player Code (Copy and Paste)

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Mel Brooks and Directors of "The Source Family"

Mel Brooks
Maria Demopoulos
Jodi Wille
Andrew Noz

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to the show in iTunes or via the RSS feed, or check out our SoundCloud page to share any or all of these interviews or recommendations!

Hip Hop Recommendations from Andrew Noz: Juice by Chance The Rapper and Picacho by Young Thug (feat. Maceo)

Andrew Noz joins us to provide some recommendations from the world of hip hop. First, he talks to us about Chance the Rapper's self-proclaimed lyrical challenge, as evidenced in Juice, a track off his latest mixtape, Acid Rap. And what if Lil Wayne stayed off the beaten pop music path? It might sound like Young Thug's weirded-out track, Picacho.

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

Embed and Share Hip Hop Recommendations from Andrew Noz: Juice by Chance The Rapper and Picacho by Young Thug (feat. Maceo)

Mel Brooks catching up on the present in between takes of History Of The World: Part I. (Photo by Pamela Barkentin Blackburn.)

Mel Brooks Takes Down Hitler (and Makes a Few Wonderfully Bad Jokes Along the Way)

It's hard to imagine what American comedy would look like without Mel Brooks. With a sharp eye for parody, a seemingly infinite supply of gags, and enough destruction of the fourth wall to make a postmodern novelist blush, his work has set the tone for countless comedy TV shows and films. It's hard to imagine SNL's relentless TV parodies without Your Show Of Shows (which Brooks wrote for alongside Sid Caesar back in the 50s), The Simpsons without his filmography full of sly pop-culture references, or the careers of Airplane! creators Zucker, Abrahams and Zucker without Brooks' shameless love of (self-admittedly) awful jokes.

A new PBS American Masters documentary, Mel Brooks: Make A Noise, explores the life and career of the EGOT winner and man behind The Producers, Young Frankenstein, Blazing Saddles, and so much more. Brooks talks to us about fighting in World War II (where he managed to even make a few Germans laugh), the genius of Gene Wilder, and that time Sid Caesar dangled Brooks out the window of a Chicago hotel room.

PBS's American Masters documentary Mel Brooks: Make A Noise premieres Monday, May 20. Check with your public television station for local listings. A box set from Shout! Factory with over ten hours of rare and exclusive footage was also released late last year.

(Embed or share this interview: Mel Brooks Takes Down Hitler (and Makes a Few Wonderfully Bad Jokes Along the Way)

Directors Maria Demopoulos and Jodi Wille on The Source Family, LA's Most Famous Hippie Cult

The Source Family fit the conventional image of a typical hippie cult in a lot of ways – assuming, of course, that there is such a thing as a typical hippie cult. You could point to the commune, the long hair, the Jesus-y robes...not to mention occasional hits of what they called "sacred herb". Dig deeper, though, and it becomes clear that there was plenty that separated the Source Family from stereotypes.

The group was just as unique as their leader, a man who called himself Father Yod. He was a former Marine, stuntman, jujitsu expert who founded the Source Family alongside a highly successful vegetarian restaurant. Out of the back of that restaurant, the family sold recordings of their regular jam sessions, which became the stuff of psychedelic rock legend. Perhaps most unlike your average cult leader, Father Yod was not particularly attached to any particular ideology – not even his own. In direct violation of his own commandments, Yod married thirteen wives, a move which both alienated a number of family members and caught the LAPD's attention. This caused the Source Family to flee to Hawaii, which ultimately resulted in the group's demise.

We're delving further into LA's most famous hippie cult with the help of Maria Demopoulos and Jodi Wille, the directors of a new documentary called The Source Family. They discuss the group's run-ins with celebrities (and law enforcement), why Father Yod once told his followers to cut their hair and get jobs, and whether or not they would have joined the group, if given the chance.

The Source Family is in limited nationwide theatrical release. For information about screenings at a theater near you, check out the film's website.

(Embed or share Directors Maria Demopoulos and Jodi Wille on The Source Family, LA's Most Famous Hippie Cult)

The Outshot: Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson

This week, find out why Jesse's been spending a lot of time with Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson, a home-tome that gracefully runs the housekeeping gamut from sections titled "Administering Insurance Policies" to "Privacy, Sex, and the Constitution".

(Embed or share Jesse's Outshot: Home Comforts by Cheryl Mendelson)

Embeddable Audio Player Code (Copy and Paste)

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Huey Lewis and Phone Phreaking with Phil Lapsley

| 1 comment
Huey Lewis
Phil Lapsley
Carolyn Kellogg

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to the show in iTunes or via the RSS feed, or check out our SoundCloud page to share these segments.

Book Recommendations from Carolyn Kellogg: Walden on Wheels and Life After Life

We're delighted to have blogger, book critic, and LA Times writer Carolyn Kellogg with us to give this week's pop culture picks. Her first suggestion is Ken Ilgunas's Walden on Wheels, a memoir about a three-year cross-country journey that he took to pay off his student loans. If you're looking for something from the world of fiction, Kellogg says to check out Kate Atkinson's Life After Life, a darkly funny novel about an early 20th century girl that Atkinson repeatedly (and gleefully) kills off over the course of the novel.

(Embed or Share Book Recommendations from Carolyn Kellogg: Walden on Wheels and Life After Life)

Huey Lewis on Making Music That Sounds Old and New All at Once

It seems strange now, but when Huey Lewis and The News released their first record in 1979, music executives weren't expecting them to become a huge success. With bombastic hair bands on one end of the rock spectrum and sneering punk rockers on the other, there didn't seem to be much of a place for Lewis and company's fun, bluesy pub-rock. But thumbing their noses at industry naysayers turned out to be the right move for Huey Lewis and The News. Case in point: 1983's Sports, their first record to hit number one on the Billboard charts.

Thirty years later, the band's commemorating the thirty-year anniversary of that album with an expanded re-issue of Sports, featuring remastered tracks and live versions of songs like "The Heart of Rock & Roll" and "I Want a New Drug". Huey Lewis sat down with Jesse to talk about the album that brought them to stardom, as well as his experiences writing songs for Back to the Future and Pineapple Express, how to stow away on an airplane to Europe (well, it worked in the seventies), and how a trip to Morocco convinced him that a career in music was possible.

Huey Lewis and The News' 30th Anniversary Edition of Sports will be released on May 14. For more information about the band and their US tour, you can check out their website.

(And as a bonus for our podcast listeners: want to hear about how Huey Lewis met Michael Jackson, Stevie Wonder, Bob Dylan, and just about every other super-famous singer…all in one night? Then be sure to check out our extended interview with him on our SoundCloud page, where he talks about recording the eighties anthem "We Are The World".)

(Embed or Share Huey Lewis on Making Music That Sounds Old and New All at Once)

Phone phreaker Al Diamond in 1972

Writer Phil Lapsley on the Subculture of Phone Phreaking

Remember the seventies, before phones got smart? It was a simpler time. There were no apps, no texts, and jailbreaking was something you could only do in a prison. But there was still plenty of trouble to get into using a phone.

As Phil Lapsley explains in his new book, Exploding The Phone: The Untold Story of the Teenagers and Outlaws who Hacked Ma Bell, the early seventies marked the beginning of phone phreaking. Phreaking involved tricking the systems that controlled phone lines by re-creating frequencies that phones used to communicate with one another. Just by using a tone-generating device called a blue box, a phone phreaker could fool phone networks into connecting them to long-distance calls – calls that usually cost hundreds of dollars – for free. But it didn't take long for phone companies to take notice.

In this interview, Lapsley explains that phone phreaking changed the world as we know it. He talks about why phone companies were initially hesitant to prosecute phreakers, why enthusiasts involved with phreaking despite having no one in particular to call, and why Steve Jobs once said that there'd be no Apple without phone phreaking.

Exploding the Phone is available now. And if you pick up a copy of the book, keep an eye out for phone numbers in the text... They could lead you to some interesting places.

Embed or share Writer Phil Lapsley on the Subculture of Phone Phreaking

The Outshot: Antiques Roadshow

There's a pretty simple formula to Antiques Roadshow: someone comes in with a knickknack and has it assessed by an expert. Next comes everyone's favorite part: the big reveal, where they find out what their item is really worth. That's part's pretty great, Jesse says – but there's something about Antiques Roadshow that he loves even more.

Embed or share Jesse's Outshot: Antiques Roadshow

Embeddable Audio Player Code (Copy and Paste)

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Big Boi, Catherine O'Hara, and Pop Culture Advice

Big Boi
Catherine O'Hara
Mark Frauenfelder
Justin McElroy
Travis McElroy
Griffin McElroy

It's the final week of MaxFunDrive! Visit to find out more and support this show.

New to Bullseye? Subscribe in iTunes or the RSS feed. You can also find and share all of our segments on our Soundcloud page.

Recommendations with Mark Frauenfelder: Bunk and Marijuanamerica

This week's recommendations come from BoingBoing founder and Gweek host Mark Frauenfelder. His first suggestion is Bunk, a game for iOS that makes good use of your vocabulary, your friends, and your ability to convincingly make stuff up. Looking for something to read? He also suggests Marijuanamerica, a new book about a man who tours the US to understand America's love/hate relationship with pot.

Embed or share Mark Frauenfelder's Recommendations: Bunk and Marijuanamerica

Hip Hop Icon Big Boi: Getting Familiar with Uncharted Territory

The rapper and producer Big Boi has sold over 50 million records as a solo artist and as half of the platinum-selling hip hop duo OutKast. The innovative Atlanta-based group broke out in the mid-1990s with "Rosa Parks" and "Elevators", then followed up with crossover pop hits like "The Way You Move" and "Bombs Over Baghdad".

OutKast found huge commercial success with an experimental brand of hip hop, eschewing old-school samples in favor of new sounds. Big Boi has been the more musically prolific member of the group. He's gone on to produce several solo albums and collaborate with artists across the music spectrum, from fellow ATL-based rapper Ludacris to funk-master George Clinton to the indie rock band Wavves. He's headed out on the nearly 50-city "Shoes for Running" tour to support his newest release, Vicious Lies & Dangerous Rumors.

Big Boi joins us to talk about the early days recording in an clay-walled basement, coming to terms with fame, and where to go musically when you've hit monumental commercial success.

Embed or share Big Boi on Getting Familiar with Uncharted Territory

Pop Culture Advice from My Brother, My Brother and Me

MaximumFun's own McElroy Brothers provide advice to wayward individuals – some more wayward than others – on their weekly podcast, My Brother, My Brother and Me. This week, they're helping out Bullseye listeners with their pop-culture quandaries. For instance: are you allowed to like dubstep and be from the suburbs?

Embed or share Pop Culture Advice from My Brother, My Brother and Me

Catherine O'Hara on Being Slightly, Perfectly Odd

Catherine O'Hara's work embodies a particularly special brand of comic absurdity. She helped launch SCTV alongside other burgeoning comedy greats like John Candy and Eugene Levy, quit the show, but still moved on to star in blockbuster comedies. She became spiritually possessed in Beetlejuice, played a memorable, anxiety-ridden mother to Macaulay Culkin in Home Alone, and became a critical part of Christopher Guest's ensemble mockumentaries, like Waiting for Guffman and Best in Show.

More recently, she's been in HBO's critically-acclaimed biopic Temple Grandin and Tim Burton's Frankenweenie, and she'll star in a Fox comedy pilot later this year.

O'Hara talks to us about the difficulties of being a woman in the SCTV writers' room, creating memorable characters with her longtime friend and collaborator Eugene Levy, and her own secret comedic formula.

Oh, and in this outtake, hear about the best boyfriend ever: Dan Akroyd.

Embed or share Catherine O'Hara on Being Slightly, Perfectly Odd

The Outshot: Fast, Cheap & Out of Control

At first, Errol Morris's documentary Fast, Cheap & Out of Control looks like it's about four men and their professional occupations: a lion tamer, a topiarist, a roboticist, a scientist who studies naked mole rats. But the movie is about much more than just weird jobs.

Embed or share The Outshot: Fast, Cheap & Out of Control

Special thanks this week to user juskiddink for the sound effects used during our promo.

Embeddable Audio Player Code (Copy and Paste)

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Lily Tomlin, Neil deGrasse Tyson, Davy Rothbart

Lily Tomlin
Neil deGrasse Tyson
Davy Rothbart
Erik Adams
Claire Zulkey

It's the MaxFunDrive, April 1st - 12th! Visit to find out more and support this show.

New to Bullseye? Subscribe in iTunes or the RSS feed. You can also find and share all of our segments on our Soundcloud page.

Television with The AV Club: Happy Endings and Suburgatory

Erik Adams and Claire Zulkey from The AV Club join us this week to talk about what you should be watching this spring. Erik's pick is Happy Endings, a great sitcom from ABC with undeservedly less-than-great ratings. And speaking of ABC sitcoms: Claire's recommendation is Suburgatory, a single-camera sitcom about a couple of Manhattanites who make the big move upstate.

Embed or share The AV Club's TV recommendations: Happy Endings and Suburgatory

Lily Tomlin on Being Someone Else... In Her Own Way

Lily Tomlin has a remarkable range as an actress and comedian. Whether she's playing a precocious six-year-old on Laugh-In or a pill-popping sixty-six year old on HBO's Eastbound and Down; whatever character she plays, Lily inhabits her roles in a way that few performers can.

Now, she appears in the new film Admission, playing a tough second-wave feminist mom to an uptight college admissions officer played by Tina Fey. Though she may not have as much screen time as Fey, Tomlin made the most of the role (and insisted on the proper accoutrements, including a fake tattoo of founding feminist Bella Abzug).

Lily talks to us about shaping her role in Admission, the moment that she decided she wanted to be a professional actor...and yes, a certain YouTube-famous confrontation (link NSFW) with I Heart Huckabees director David O. Russell.

Admission is in theaters now.

But wait! There's more! Click here for an extended interview with Lily Tomlin for talk about how she develops her characters, coming out of the closet as a performer, and why her main priority as a comedian isn't getting laughs. And don't forget to share this one with your friends – it's too good to keep to yourself!

Lost and Found with FOUND Magazine's Davy Rothbart

FOUND Magazine co-creator and editor Davy Rothbart is back again to share more pieces of lost and found ephemera: receipts, notes, and letters with stories behind them that we can only imagine...or laugh at.

Davy's new book of personal essays is called My Heart Is an Idiot. 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.

Embed or share Lost and Found with FOUND Magazine's Davy Rothbart

Neil DeGrasse Tyson on The Universe and the Path of Most Resistance

When Neil DeGrasse Tyson was a kid, he had a plan: he wanted to be an astrophysicist. But the adults around him had other plans. They thought he'd make a great athlete. But Neil stuck to his guns, and now he's one of the most famous astrophysicists in the world – heck, one of the only famous astrophysicists in the world.

But how did he persevere? Or, to use his words: why was it that he took the "path of most resistance" when there were plenty of other, easier paths around him? Ultimately, it was his passion for the universe itself that kept him going.

Neil joins us to talk about why he thinks the universe is more awesome than anything else...and to maybe try to help Jesse get over his fear of outer space.

Neil is the host of StarTalk, director of the Hayden Planetarium and the author of Space Chronicles: Facing the Ultimate Frontier, out now in paperback.

Embed or share Neil deGrasse Tyson on the universe

The Outshot: Opening Day

This week, the big thing on Jesse's mind is baseball, specifically opening day – not just for the excitement of the game itself, but for the new beginnings it brings.

Embed or share Jesse's Outshot: Opening Day

Special thanks this week to Jalen Warshawsky and No Color for providing the music played during our pledge breaks. You can find those songs and more at the Free Music Archive.

Embeddable Audio Player Code (Copy and Paste)

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: NBC’s Must See TV with Warren Littlefield, former NBC executive

Warren Littlefield
Oliver Wang
Brian Heater
Alex Zalben

New to Bullseye? Subscribe in iTunes or the RSS feed. You can also find and share all of our segments on our Soundcloud page.

Comics with Alex and Brian: Other Stuff and Relish: My Life In The Kitchen

BoingBoing comics editor Brian Heater and MTV Geek's Alex Zalben are here to talk comics. Brian suggests checking out Peter Bagge's Other Stuff, a collection of the cartoonist's side projects since the 90s. Alex's pick is Relish: My Life In The Kitchen, a unique comic that's part memoir and part cookbook.

Embed or share this week's comic recommendations from Brian and Alex

Former NBC President Warren Littlefield on Making Must-See TV

In the late 1970s and early 80s, NBC had a lot in common with...well, NBC today. The network was consistently behind in the ratings, with not a whole lot to lose. That might partially explain why a young executive named Warren Littlefield was able to approve a couple of shows that, on paper, didn’t look all that promising. One of them found itself with the lowest ratings in all of TV at the end of the first season. The other show was a family sitcom that ABC rejected, after executives there proclaimed that family sitcoms were dead. Not the best odds, right? But those two shows – Cheers and The Cosby Show, respectively – went on to become two of the most important sitcoms in television’s history, leading directly to the development of the Thursday night powerhouse that was Must-See TV.

Littlefield left NBC in 1998; since then, the network's fortunes have changed pretty dramatically and Must-See TV no longer exists for ANY channel. So Littlefield is taking a look back at NBC's glory years in an oral history called Top of the Rock: Inside the Rise and Fall of Must See TV, which was just released in paperback. Littlefield joins us to discuss how NBC's shows changed primetime, how the shows forged intimate connections with viewers, and the pleasures and sorrows of working with a pre-rehab Kelsey Grammer.

BUT WAIT -- there's more. If you want to know why Warren thinks Norm MacDonald was fired from SNL, or why he backed Leno as the successor to the Late Night throne... Listen here for an extended cut of our interview with him, and share it with your friends.

Canonball with Oliver Wang: Al Green’s I’m Still In Love With You

In Canonball, we take a flying leap into the canon of popular music. We're joined by professor and music writer Oliver Wang to talk about an Al Green album that deserves your attention. No, it's not Green's chart-topping record Let's Stay Together. Wang says that it was Al Green's followup to that album that really rattled him to his core.

Wang talks to us about 1973's I'm Still in Love with You, the record that created a new kind of soul music. Green's beautiful, if flawed voice, was merged with Willie Mitchell's innovative rhythm section and a new sound emerged.

You can find Oliver Wang's thoughts on soul rarities and more on his blog, Soul Sides.

Special thanks to Chris Berube, who edited Canonball for us this week.

Embed or share Canonball: Al Green’s I’m Still In Love With You with Oliver Wang

The Outshot: Where The Wild Things Are

What do you do when you’re mad? Not just a little miffed, but angry – so angry that you’re shaking? Jesse finds a way out through Maurice Sendak's Where The Wild Things Are.

Embed or share The Outshot: Where The Wild Things Are

Embeddable Audio Player Code (Copy and Paste)

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Simon Rich and Bill Burr

Simon Rich
Bill Burr
Mark Frauenfelder

New to Bullseye? Subscribe in iTunes or the RSS feed. You can also find and share all of our segments on our Soundcloud page.

Mark Frauenfelder Recommends: Spaceteam and The Magazine

Mark Frauenfelder of BoingBoing and the Gweek podcast joins us again this week to talk about some of his current favorite things. Mark suggests a turn at the multiplayer iPhone game Spaceteam, which is all about yelling techno-gibberish at friends. In the mood for something a little more quiet? Mark also recommends The Magazine, a minimalist, ad-free digital publication "for geeks and curious people."

Embed or share this week's recommendations from BoingBoing's Mark Frauenfelder

Comedy Writer Simon Rich: Why Writing Like a Child Can Be a Good Thing

Simon Rich got his first book deal in 2007. Since then, he’s published five books, received a nomination for the Thurber Prize for American Humor, contributed regular essays to the New Yorker, and worked on Saturday Night Live as a staff writer (which he recently left for a top-secret writing job at Pixar). How old is he? 29. Basically, Simon Rich has his act together.

The characters he writes about? Not so much. His latest book, The Last Girlfriend on Earth, is a collection of vignettes about lost characters coming to terms with love. And these aren’t your typical stories of romance and heartbreak; in true Simon Rich fashion, his stories make the mundane profound and vice-versa. (No one else can write a story about God’s girlfriend and follow it up with a touching monologue from a prophylactic’s POV.)

Simon sits down with Jesse to discuss the autobiographical elements of his stories, the appeal of writing from a child’s point of view, and how love is a lot like heroin.

Simon Rich’s new book of essays, The Last Girlfriend on Earth, is available in bookstores everywhere.

Want to hear about Simon's obsession with The Simpsons? It's here, in a longer cut of our interview. Click to embed and share it with your friends.

Comedy: Eugene Mirman Discovers a Notebook From His Past

Digging through old stuff from your childhood can be a lot of different things – insightful, hilarious, wistful, nostalgic. But in comedian Eugene Mirman’s case, it was just embarrassing. In this clip from his latest special, Eugene describes a childhood relic, found in his parents’ basement.

Eugene Mirman’s new special, An Evening of Comedy in a Fake Underground Laboratory, is now available as a combination CD/DVD.

Embed or share Eugene Mirman Discovers a Notebook From His Past

Bill Burr On Confrontation and Comedy

Conventional wisdom amongst standup comics dictates that a crowd has to be on your side before you can make them laugh. It’s good general advice, but it’s not advice that Bill Burr follows – and he’s all the better for it.

Bill Burr’s comedy is, in a word, aggressive. It’s not just that he looks and sounds tough, qualities that have landed him voice acting work in Grand Theft Auto IV and guest appearances on Breaking Bad. Aggression and confrontation are at the core of Bill’s act; he’s not afraid to curse out unruly audience members or start a set with a joke that, in a lesser comic’s hands, might totally alienate a crowd. But his comedy isn’t all tough-guy machismo. He’s just as likely to direct a rant at himself as he is others, a quality that makes his work all the more hilarious and human.

Bill spoke with Jesse a few years ago to talk about Bill’s style of comedy, challenging himself and audiences in his act, and every performer’s most dreaded nightmare: having to follow a dog or child onstage.

His latest special, You People Are All The Same (which was the subject of a recent Outshot), is streaming on Netflix.

This interview originally aired in October 2010.

Embed or share "Bill Burr On Control and Comedy"

The Outshot: Solomon Burke’s "Soul Alive"

On this week’s Outshot, Jesse tears the house down with a timeless live album. It’s Solomon Burke’s "Soul Alive."

Embed or Share Jesse's Outshot on Solomon Burke’s "Soul Alive"

Embeddable Audio Player Code (Copy and Paste)

Judge John Hodgman Episode 100: The Book Case


Julie brings the case against her husband Jason. Julie says Jason is a book hoarder, letting old novels and textbooks rot away in their garage. He says he's acquired a great collection of books and is working his way through the stacks. Who is right? Who is wrong? ONLY ONE MAN CAN DECIDE.




Special thanks to listener Steve Ciabattoni for suggesting a variation of this week's title!

Embeddable Audio Player Code (Copy and Paste)
Syndicate content