Comic Books

The Flop House: Episode #164 - 300: Rise of an Empire

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The Flop House

Thus we enter November, the month known for having “No” theme. And, appropriately, we watched one of the most generic of modern action sequels, 300: Rise of an Empire. Meanwhile, Elliott lectures on Noid avoidance, Dan makes a public apology relating to one type of music and attacks another, and Stu makes an exciting announcement for enjoyers of comical books.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: 'Jodorowsky's Dune' and Dee Dee Penny of Dum Dum Girls

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Bullseye
Guests: 
Frank Pavich
Guests: 
Glen Weldon
Guests: 
Linda Holmes
Guests: 
Matt Fraction
Guests: 
Dee Dee Penny

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Set design for Jodorowsky's Dune by Chris Foss

Expanding Consciousness with Frank Pavich and 'Jodorowsky's Dune'

When Alejandro Jodorowsky set out to make the first movie adaptation of the sci-fi novel, Dune, he wanted to make something more than a Hollywood sci-fi flick. He wanted something almost beyond description. His goal was to open people's minds and expand their consciousness.

But it was never filmed, and now it lives on a single bound set of storyboards.

Documentarian Frank Pavich interviewed Jodorowsky and his collaborators to tell the story, and called his movie Jodorowsky's Dune. He talks with us about Jodorowsky's dream of making an epic space opera, the process of gathering spiritual warriors and cast members (including Orson Welles, Salvador Dali and Mick Jagger), and how an unfilmed movie can continue to influence other artists.

Jodorowsky's Dune is available on DVD and Blu Ray.

Pop Culture Happy Hour on Sabotage in the Kitchen and Bad-Ass Lady Mercenaries

Linda Holmes and Glen Weldon of NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast stop by to share some of their newest pop culture obsessions.

Linda recommends checking out the Food Network series Cutthroat Kitchen, a cooking competition show that has all of the thrills and outlandishness of reality television, along with a sense of humor.

Glen recommends the new comic book series Rat Queens, which takes Dungeons and Dragons-style fantasy and comedy and combines them in a satisfying series about a group of female contract killers.

You can hear Glen and Linda every week on NPR's Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast, and check out Linda's writing on the Monkey See blog.

I Wish I'd Made That: Matt Fraction on Loving 'Enter the Dragon'

Artists -- the people that make stuff -- are always influenced by the work of others. And sometimes, something 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.

Matt Fraction writes comic books. Along with artists David Aja and Javier Pulido, Fraction was behind the acclaimed reboot of Marvel's Hawkeye. He writes the dirty, funny, and intensely imaginative series Sex Criminals (the title is literal -- the main characters discover they can freeze time when having sex and use that power for Robin Hood-style justice).

The thing Matt Fraction wishes he made isn't a comic. It's Bruce Lee's kung-fu classic Enter the Dragon.

Fraction is the author of the acclaimed series Sex Criminals, now on its seventh issue. The first five issues are collected in Sex Criminals Volume 1.

Frazer Harrison/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Dee Dee Penny of Dum Dum Girls Talks about Early Days on MySpace, Creating a Persona, and Overcoming Anxiety and Stage Fright

Kristin Gundred, AKA Dee Dee Penny, is the creative force behind the band Dum Dum Girls. But she wasn't always front and center. She's played in bands for almost fifteen years now, playing drums and singing in other people's groups. Eventually she realized the only way to create the music she wanted was to do it herself. So Dee Dee created a MySpace page and started working on her music.

Now Dee Dee and Dum Dum Girls have three studio albums under their belt, including their newest, Too True.

Dee Dee talks to Jesse about making music in her bedroom, constructing the persona of Dee Dee Dum Dum, and overcoming anxiety and stage fright to be a rock musician.

Dum Dum Girls newest album, Too True is out now. They're also on a North American tour this fall.

The Outshot: Is 'What's Up Fatlip' the Least Braggy Rap Song Ever Written?

Don't call it a comeback. Jesse tells us about the LEAST braggy rap song ever written, "What's Up Fatlip?".

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Jenny Slate

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Bullseye
Guests: 
Jenny Slate
Guests: 
Linda Holmes
Guests: 
Glen Weldon

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Jenny Slate on Marcel the Shell, Besties, SNL and 'Obvious Child'

Jenny Slate has probably already turned up in one of your favorite shows -- she spent a season on Saturday Night Live, and she's had recurring roles on Parks and Recreation, Kroll Show, and Bored to Death. But if you don't recognize her face, maybe you know this voice. The voice of Marcel the Shell with Shoes On.

Slate co-wrote two animated shorts about Marcel, the anthropormophic shell with one googly eye, and gave him his signature voice. The shorts have racked up over thirty million views on the web.

Now, Slate is moving into leading lady territory. She's the star of the upcoming independent film, Obvious Child, about a stand up comic who gets dumped, fired, and then finds out she's pregnant from a one-night stand.

Slate joins us to talk about the comic one-upmanship she practices with her best friend, her infamous f-bomb on SNL, handling abortion as part of a storyline, and what it was like to expand her acting horizons.

If you somehow missed the Marcel the Shell with Shoes On craze, you can find the shorts on YouTube. Slate's movie, Obvious Child, will be theatres June 6, 2014.

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Pop Culture Happy Hour: Why 'Fargo' Is Worth Watching, a Memoir about Diner Life

Linda Holmes and Glen Weldon of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour stop by to recommend a few of their favorite new things to read and watch.

Linda recommends catching up with the movie-to-television adaptation Fargo. It stars Martin Freeman, Billy Bob Thornton and Alison Tolman and is finishing up its first season on FX.

Glen highly suggests checking out Mimi Pond's Over Easy, a graphic novel memoir about her experiences working in an Oakland diner in the 1970s.

You can hear Glen and Linda weekly on the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast, and find Linda's writing on NPR's Monkey See blog.

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Song Exploder no. 8: Loren Bouchard on 'Bob's Burgers

Bob’s Burgers is an animated show that just finished up its fourth season on FOX. It follows the travails of Bob, his family, and their hamburger shop. The voices on the show include the very funny H. Jon Benjamin, Eugene Mirman and Kristen Schaal. The creator of the show, Loren Bouchard, Also created its opening music.

Loren Bouchard talked to Hrishi Hirway for an episode of his podcast Song Exploder. It's a show where Hrishi asks musicians to deconstruct their songs, track by track. Since Bouchard pulls double duty as composer and creator, he wrote music that’s deeply connected to the themes of the show.

You can listen to other episodes of Song Exploder here at MaximumFun, in iTunes or wherever you download podcasts.

The Outshot: Bring In Da Noise, Bring in Da Funk

This week Jesse will tell you about the one time he actually believed that live theater was better than just going to the movies.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: The Pointer Sisters

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Bullseye

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.

The Pointer Sisters Get Excited (About Music, Clothes, and More)

The Pointer Sisters have always been musical chameleons. They had huge dance-pop hits in the 1980s, like "I'm So Excited" and "Jump (For My Love)", but at that point they had already found success in genres from jazz to R&B to disco, and even won a Grammy for their country hit, "Fairytale". The sisters grew up in Oakland, California and were taught by their reverend father that rock and roll was 'the devil's work'. However, when their parents weren't around, they snuck in listening sessions to Elvis, The Supremes, and James Brown.

Sisters Bonnie and June Pointer formed the earliest incarnation of the group in 1969, joined within several years by Ruth and Anita. They recorded their debut self-titled album in 1973, and the single "Yes We Can Can" became their first hit. They went on to record more hits over the next few decades, including "How Long (Betcha' Got a Chick on the Side)", a cover of Bruce Springsteen's "Fire", and "He's So Shy".

Ruth and Anita Pointer join us for a wild and entertaining interview about their signature vintage style, forging their own musical path, and mixing family with business.

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Pop Culture Happy Hour Talks About Letters to Boys and Anthropomorphic Ants

Linda Holmes and Glen Weldon of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour stop by to recommend a couple of their current favorite new books.

What if instead of pretending your teenage love letters never existed... you published them, and let the world take a look? Linda recommends the new memoir Notes to Boys: And Other Things I Shouldn't Share in Public, by Pamela Ribon. Ribon spent much of her free time in high school penning over-the-top notes to her crushes, and provides original drafts, with asides from her adult self.

Glen recommends the new graphic novel Ant Colony by Michael DeForge -- a debut novel that's psychedelic, surreal, darkly funny, and definitely not for kids.

You can hear Glen and Linda weekly on the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast, and find Linda's writing on NPR's Monkey See blog.

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Bobby Lopez on The Song That Changed My Life: "Pure Imagination"

Think of a song you know by heart. A song that's been in your life for such a long time, you don't even remember when you first heard it. Maybe it was in your favorite movie as a kid.

Bobby Lopez writes those kind of songs. He's a composer for musicals and movies, and co-created the hit Broadway shows The Book of Mormon and Avenue Q. Most recently, he's teamed up with his wife Kristen Anderson-Lopez to write for Disney's Frozen. The pair's songs have inspired movie singalongs and a score of YouTube covers, and their breakout hit Let It Go, is nominated for an Oscar.

This week, Bobby shares the song that changed his life: the inspiring and magical Pure Imagination, from Willy Wonka and the Chocolate Factory.

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The Outshot: The Muppet Movie

Why do folks get into showbiz? If you think it's all to get attention, fame, or money, let The Muppet Movie show you why you're wrong.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Brett Gurewitz, Jimmy Pardo, Maya Rudolph, Gretchen Lieberum

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Bullseye
Guests: 
Brett Gurewitz
Guests: 
Jimmy Pardo
Guests: 
Maya Rudolph
Guests: 
Gretchen Lieberum
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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Bad Religion's Brett Gurewitz on Songwriting, the Rise of Punk, and Making Christmas Music

When Brett Gurewitz and his high school friends Greg Graffin, Jay Bentley and Jay Ziskrout joined up in 1979 to form the punk band Bad Religion, their biggest dream was to maybe play a backyard party.

Over thirty years later, Brett continues to play guitar and write for Bad Religion and has owned the thriving Epitaph Records label for almost as long. Still busy producing music, Bad Religion released their album True North in January and just put out their first holiday-themed album, Christmas Songs. However, it was a long journey between time spent playing in a garage and their days routinely selling out stadiums.

The band’s first shot at mainstream success came in 1994 with Stranger Than Fiction, which featured the singles Infected and 21st Century (Digital Boy).

This week, Brett talks to guest host Jordan Morris about musical influences (from The Adolescents to Elton John), what money often means for punk music, and creating the sound of a Christmas album.

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Cookie Making and Geek Dating with Mark Frauenfelder

Mark Frauenfelder is the founder of BoingBoing, which bills itself as a "directory of wonderful things" and the host of the Gweek podcast. He joins us to share some of his recent finds.

This week, it’s the deceptively simple-looking web game Cookie Clicker and the surprisingly practical tome The Geek's Guide to Dating by Eric Smith.

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"I Wish I’d Made That": Talking about Prince's Purple Rain with Maya Rudolph and Gretchen Lieberum

Have you ever felt creative envy? Maybe you've listened to a song or watched a movie or and thought "I wish I'd made that!"? We've been there too. In this segment, we talk to creative people about the works that have inspired them, and maybe made them feel a little envious, too.

This week, we talked to Maya Rudolph (Saturday Night Live, Bridesmaids) and singer-songwriter Gretchen Lieberum to discuss the thing they wish they’d made: the 1984 rock drama Purple Rain.

We caught up with Maya and Gretchen at Tenacious D’s Festival Supreme where they performed in their Prince cover band, Princess.

And if you missed our first installment of "I Wish I'd Made That" with Fred Armisen, check it out here.

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Jimmy Pardo on Showbiz Dreams, "The Toast Theory", and Perfecting Rapid-Fire Improvisation

Maybe there's a reason comedian Jimmy Pardo can go from pleasing date-night crowds in Cleveland to alternative comedy aficionados in Los Angeles. He's not a straight-up joke teller, with one-liners he's finessed over years and years of re-telling. Instead, he specializes in seemingly effortless crowdwork. Pardo’s material is fresh and spontaneous, with every show a unique blend of practiced bits and riffed interaction.

This week, Pardo talks with Jesse about his career in full, from a third-grade illustration of his dream career (a picture of a spotlight on a microphone) to adjusting his routine for the digital age. He delves into working as the opening comedian for Conan, his struggles with alcohol abuse, and the complete conviction he shows to a joke.

You can hear Jimmy Pardo on his new comedy album Sprezzatura or catch him on his podcast Never Not Funny, now in its thirteenth season.

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The Outshot: Superman for All Seasons

Okay, so Superman can seem a little square and maybe holier-than-thou. Although he's from another planet, he embodies what it means to be a virtuous, hard-working American. He’s unconditionally virtuous and, regardless of the consequences, always makes the moral decision.

This week, Jordan Morris recommends Jeph Loeb and Tim Sale’s 1998 comic book Superman for All Seasons for its attempt to represent the Man of Steel as less superhero, more human.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Nick Offerman, The Birthday Boys, Brandon Bird

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Bullseye
Guests: 
Nick Offerman
Guests: 
The Birthday Boys
Guests: 
Brandon Bird
Guests: 
Linda Holmes
Guests: 
Glen Weldon

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 Offerman Talks Mustaches, Woodworking, and Luck

Nick Offerman is a man accustomed to being recognized. As Ron Swanson on Parks and Recreation, he sports one of the most revered moustaches in recent television history.

It would be easy to conflate Offerman with Swanson. They’re both masculine, moustachioed men with a penchant for carpentry, but Offerman is quick to distinguish himself from his civil servant counterpart. He credits the writers of the show for giving Swanson possession of larger-than-life quirks, such as the ability to ingest mountains of bacon or guzzle moonshine by the jug. Offerman, however, has a much more relatable story to tell.

He grew up in small town Illinois and studied theatre in college before performing in several Chicago-based theatre and improv companies. He joins us to talk about his rural roots, why woodworking has remained an important part of his life (and not an affectation), and the public perception of Ron Swanson as the personification of manliness.

Nick Offerman's new book of essays is Paddle Your Own Canoe: One Man's Fundamentals for Delicious Living. You can also catch him on the sixth season of Parks and Recreation, airing now.

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Pop Culture Happy Hour Talks Movies and Comics

Linda Holmes and Glen Weldon of NPR’s Pop Culture Happy Hour stop by to recommend a couple of their current favorite things.

Linda recommends 12 Years a Slave, a film about the true story of a free black man kidnapped and sold into slavery. The film, starring Chiwetel Ejiofor and directed by Steve McQueen, tells the story of a man thrust into a life of injustice he doesn’t deserve. And as Linda explains, it's more than just an "important" movie.

The movie is in theaters on October 18.

Glen recommends the new comic Sex Criminals, written by Matt Fraction with art by Chip Zdasky. It may have a racy title but, at its heart, it’s the classic coming of age story about a girl who discovers that by doing the deed, she can stop time.

You can hear Glen and Linda weekly on the Pop Culture Happy Hour podcast, and find Linda's writing on NPR's Monkey See blog.

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Brandon Bird's "Lazy Sunday Afternoon"

Brandon Bird on Painting, Mr. T and Learning How to Make Art

Brandon Bird is a painter, but the purpose of his work isn't to capture the light dancing across a lake. Or to make a broad point about society. The point of his art is to make people laugh.

Brandon tells us about the day he became an artist, and how he went from making fan art to creating something really special.

His new activity book, Brandon Bird's Astonishing World of Art, includes Law and Order SVU valentines, a page where you can draw Nicolas Cage a new hairstyle, and a painting of Peter Dinklage as Wolverine (among many other things).

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Comedy Sketch Group The Birthday Boys Asks: "What if Seven Morons Were Doing That Thing?"

The Birthday Boys' work is silly. Really silly. They're a group of seven comedians, and their sketch comedy is warm, almost never obscene or profane, sort of uniquely American. Not too long ago, they caught the eye of comedy superstar and Mr. Show co-creator Bob Odenkirk. He's now the executive producer, cast member and an addition to the writer's room on their new television show for IFC.

Group members Jeff Dutton, Tim Kalpakis and Chris VanArtsdalen join us to talk about why they commit to the silliness, what makes a good sketch and how one of their idols became creatively involved in their first TV series.

The Birthday Boys premieres on October 18 on IFC.

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The Outshot: Michael Palin

You probably know him from hamming it up for Monty Python in the ‘70s, but since then Michael Palin has released a steady stream of travel documentaries. Jesse talks about Michael Palin and why he’s everything good about British colonialism.

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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: Simon Amstell and Brian K. Vaughan

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Bullseye
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Simon Amstell
Guests: 
Brian K. Vaughan
Guests: 
Jordan Morris
Guests: 
Erik Adams
Guests: 
Claire Zulkey

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All-Time TV Favorites: Spaced and Twin Peaks

We're joined by AV Club Assistant TV Editor Erik Adams and contributor Claire Zulkey for some all-time favorite TV picks. Claire recommends checking out Spaced, a lightning-fast, pop-culture-tastic British sitcom from the brains behind Shaun of the Dead and Hot Fuzz. Erik's pick is the mysterious, funny, and very surreal Twin Peaks, David Lynch and Mark Frost's series about a small town with big secrets.

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Simon Amstell on provoking Jermaine Jackson, his shamanic quest to find peace, and television fame

This interview originally aired December 2012.

Years before he became famous in Britain for skewering celebrities on Popworld and Nevermind the Buzzcocks, Simon Amstell's childhood ambition was to be on TV. And unlike most kids with dreams of TV stardom, he made it a reality -- but found it less fulfilling than he had hoped. Comedian, writer and TV host Amstell joins us this week to share his experiences in the entertainment industry, including navigating the delicate line between crafting clever comedy and bullying his celebrity guests as a TV host, writing and starring in Grandma's House, a sitcom with parallels to his own life, and seeking enlightenment on a Shamanic quest in South America.

Simon Amstell returns to the US in early May to perform his stand-up special, Numb, along the west coast. You can find tour dates and more info about Simon at his website.

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Jordan Morris ranks America's stuff

This segment originally aired December 2012.

In this era of constant hustle and bustle, who can keep up with what's HOT and what's NOT in these United States? Fortunately, expert stuff-ranker Jordan Morris joins us this week to fill us in and set us straight.

Jordan Morris co-hosts the podcast Jordan, Jesse, Go!. You can follow him on Twitter at @Jordan_Morris.
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Brian K. Vaughan on creation, from babies to universes

This segment originally aired December 2012.

Brian K. Vaughan has the kind of strange and epic vision that's made for science fiction and fantasy. He's written award-winning comic book series like Ex Machina and Y: The Last Man, and helped craft otherworldly storylines for several seasons of Lost.

His works are notable for their intimacy and beautiful, meticulously crafted characters, despite grandly epic settings. His most recent comic book series, Saga, is a prime example: Vaughan presents a fundamentally domestic story of parents trying to give their child a good life, backed by a colossal, galactic war. He joins us this week to share why he enjoys storytelling on a grand scale. Vaughan also explains why writing stories about lesser-known comic characters -- like Marvel's weird wildman Ka-Zar -- can be preferable to writing about the big names like Spiderman, and he tracks how fatherhood has affected his writing.

Volume One of Saga is available in bookstores and digitally at Comixology. Volume Two is available for pre-order; it will be released on July 9.

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The Outshot: The Dirtbombs' "Ultraglide in Black"

This segment originally aired October 2012.

Rage, garage punk, and R&B. The Dirtbombs' music has it all, and Jesse suggests you check out their album Ultraglide in Black.

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

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Bullseye
Guests: 
Warren Littlefield
Guests: 
Oliver Wang
Guests: 
Brian Heater
Guests: 
Alex Zalben

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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.

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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.

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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.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Moshe Kasher, Undefeated, Lateef the Truth Speaker

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Moshe Kasher
Guests: 
Dan Lindsay
Guests: 
TJ Martin
Guests: 
Lateef the Truth Speaker
Guests: 
Alex Zalben
Guests: 
Brian Heater

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Comics with Alex and Brian: Wimbledon Green and reMIND

Brian Heater of BoingBoing and Alex Zalben of MTV Geek join us to talk comics. Brian's pick is Wimbledon Green by Seth, an unusual and wonderful sketchbook story about "the greatest comic book collector in the world." Alex recommends Jason Brubaker's reMIND, a graphic novel about a woman and her cat, who mysteriously gains the ability to talk.

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Comedian Moshe Kasher on Growing Up and Getting Right

Almost everyone experiences trials and tribulations in childhood to come out as a reasonably functioning adult on the other side. But in the case of comedian Moshe Kasher, that change was virtually miraculous.

He was a child shuttled between two divorced deaf parents, a Hasidic father in New York and a hippie mother in Oakland. By the age of twelve, he'd been in psychoanalysis for eight years. He had a burgeoning interest in drugs. And he was just getting started. He's chronicled his early years in a memoir called Kasher in the Rye: The True Tale of a White Boy from Oakland Who Became a Drug Addict, Criminal, Mental Patient, and Then Turned 16, and that title should give a good idea of the wild stories it contains. The book is engaging, redemptive, and wildly funny. We spoke to Moshe last year, and the book is out in paperback this month.

Moshe joins us to share stories from his upbringing, and shed some light on how he eventually got right and saved himself from addiction, anger, and violence.

This interview originally aired in March 2012.

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Lateef the Truthspeaker on "The Song That Changed My Life"

Lateef the Truthspeaker is an Oakland MC and one of the founding members of the hip-hop collective / record label Quannum Projects, whose members include DJ Shadow, Lyrics Born and Blackalicious. He talks to us about the song that changed his life, Cloudburst, by the jazz group Lambert, Hendricks, & Ross.

Lateef and longtime collaborator Lyrics Born released a new EP, Disconnection, late last year under the name Latyrx. A full-length album is due out in 2013.

This segment originally aired in March 2012.

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Undefeated: The Story of the Underdog

Dan Lindsay and T.J. Martin are the directors behind the Academy Award-winning, emotionally-charged sports documentary Undefeated. The film follows a challenging season for the Manassas Tigers, an underdog football team in North Memphis, Tennessee. The Tigers had traditionally been a team with troubles both on and off the field. Its fortunes changed under volunteer coach Bill Courtney, dedicated not only to excellence on the field, but in fostering resilient players off of it. As Coach Courtney says, "There's a story under every helmet," and Undefeated tells a few of them.

Dan and T.J. talk to us about developing the story of the film, the challenges of shaping a narrative when the events unfolding are out of your control, and the experience of following a handful of teens throughout their senior year of high school.

After a long wait, Undefeated is now out on DVD and on VOD.

This interview originally aired in March 2012.

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The Outshot: Witchdoctor's "A S.W.A.T. Healin' Ritual"

Jesse shines a light on one of the lesser-known members of Atlanta's Dungeon Family hip-hop collective. Witchdoctor (born Erin Johnson) might not be as famous as Family members OutKast, Cee-Lo Green or Goodie Mob, but his 1998 album A S.W.A.T. Healin' Ritual just might be the best record of its time and place.

This segment originally aired in March 2012.

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