The Dissolve

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Bootsy Collins, Oliver Wang on Al Green

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Ahh...The Name Is Bootsy, Baby! Bootsy Collins Pushes James Brown's Buttons and Gets Wild with George Clinton's P-Funk

Bootsy Collins is a legend in the world of funk. He's a bassist who came to his instrument by happenstance and fell in love. He was only in his teens when he was discovered and hired by the Godfather of Soul, James Brown, to be part of his backing band, The J.B.'s. Bootsy went on to play with another notoriously inventive and pioneering funk artist, George Clinton, as part of Funkadelic and Parliament.

He continued the funk with Bootsy's Rubber Band and a number of other musical collaborations. His most recent album is Tha Funk Capitol Of The World, and he currently teaches bass at his own Funk University. He's also playing a couple of festivals this spring and summer.

Bootsy talks to us about being on the forefront of funk, playing with James Brown, doing LSD on stage, quitting and/or being fired from The JB's, pushing the boundaries of black popular music with George Clinton, and his own amazing solo career.

He and Jesse spoke in 2011. Find an extended version of that original conversation here.

The Dissolve Talks about All-Time Favorite Movies: "Real Life" and "To Be or Not to Be"

This week, a look back at some all-time favorite movies from our pals at The Dissolve. Staff writer Nathan Rabin and Editorial Director Keith Phipps join us to talk about some of their all-time favorite films.

Nathan recommends Albert Brooks' 1979 satire Real Life, a prescient look at documenting "real life" in pre-reality television times.

Keith recommends the 1942 Ernst Lubitch classic To Be or Not to Be (Criterion Collection), starring Jack Benny and Carole Lombard.

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-topper, 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.

The Outshot: Orson Welles's F for Fake

Jesse recommends Orson Welles' final masterwork, F for Fake. Part documentary, part film essay, it features tricks and truths layered atop each other, creating a mesmerizing narrative.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Henry Bushkin on Johnny Carson

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Bullseye

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Troubled, Brilliant and Intensely Private: A Look Back at American Icon Johnny Carson with "Bombastic Bushkin"

The late night show is still a staple of pop culture. Leno, Letterman, Conan, Fallon all hold their own interviewing celebrities and delivering monologues -- but there's no single late night show that is appointment viewing for all people, no host as essential as Johnny Carson, the thirty-year Tonight Show host and television icon.

He was publicly known by many, Johnny Carson didn't have a lot of close personal friends. Though he was fun and friendly on-screen -- cavorting with celebrities like Jimmy Stewart, Elizabeth Taylor and Frank Sinatra -- off-screen, he was very private and hid his emotions well.

It says a lot that Carson once described Henry Bushkin, his lawyer and business associate, as his "best friend". Bushkin came on to Carson's team as a fixer, someone to take care of his problems both professional and personal.

This week, Mike Pesca fills in for Jesse and talks to Bushkin, who served as Carson’s lawyer and closest confidante for nearly two decades. Dubbed ‘The Bombastic Bushkin,’ his relationship with Carson was a mix of professional and personal and he witnessed some of the icon’s darkest moments. Their friendship and business relationship eventually soured, but not before Bushkin collected a wide variety of experiences. This week, Bushkin dives into those privileged moments, from the good to the bad.

Bushkin’s new book, which recounts his time with Carson, is called, simply, Johnny Carson.

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The Dissolve on New Releases: Folk Stories in Inside Llewyn Davis and Fascinating Footage from Narco Cultura

Editorial Director Keith Phipps and Editor Scott Tobias from film site The Dissolve stop by to recommend the best films this winter has to offer. They recommend you check out the new movie from the Coen brothers, Inside Llewyn Davis and a film that examines both sides of drug cartel culture, Narco Cultura.

You can find both films in select theaters nationwide this week.

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Canonball: Wire’s Pink Flag with Jim DeRogatis

Sometimes we like to take a flying leap into the canon of popular music and find albums that deserve a closer look. This week, Jim DeRogatis of WBEZ's Sound Opinions guides us through the art-punk band Wire’s debut album, Pink Flag. He'll tell us why you don't necessarily have to have mega-musical talent to make a great song -- just some brilliant ideas.

You can hear Jim DeRogatis weekly on his nationally-distributed public radio show, Sound Opinions, or find his writing at WBEZ.org.

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Credit: Michael Kovac/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Lisa Kudrow Talks Friends, Brain Science and Playing the Eternal Optimist

In the ‘90s and early 2000s, Lisa Kudrow was part of an elite, six-member group. America tuned in to NBC every week as this tight-knit collective went through the ordinary struggles of twenty and thirty-somethings living in New York City. The show was called Friends and, in its decade-long run, it was one of the most successful sitcoms of all time.

Kudrow won an Emmy for her role as Phoebe Buffay, the ditzy member of the ensemble who is sometimes optimistic to a fault. Whether she’s singing about her odorous feline or recounting cringe-inducing tales from her colorful past, Phoebe retained a sense of playfulness that brightened even the darkest aspects of her character.

Since Friends, she's played some characters with darker sides -- people defined by their narcissistic tendencies. On Web Therapy, she plays Fiona Wallice, a therapist who limits her patients to three minutes a session, since the rest is usually boring filler. The series shows Fiona's professional and personal life through sessions with patients that usually have their fair share of quirks.

Jesse Thorn spoke with Lisa Kudrow in 2012. Web Therapy is now in its fourth season online.

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The Outshot: Keith Olbermann’s Return to Sports

This week, Mike Pesca cheers sports journalist turned political pundit Keith Olbermann's return to the world of sports, with his ESPN2 show, Olbermann.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Elizabeth Gilbert, Gillian Jacobs, Fred Armisen

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Elizabeth Gilbert
Guests: 
Gillian Jacobs
Guests: 
Fred Armisen
Guests: 
Keith Phipps
Guests: 
Nathan Rabin

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.

Elizabeth Gilbert on Curiosity, Writing "The Signature of All Things" & Life After "Eat, Pray, Love"

If you know of the writer Elizabeth Gilbert, it's probably from her 2006 memoir, Eat Pray Love. Gilbert's book -- about travel and love and re-gaining confidence and a sense of self -- spent years atop the bestseller list, inspired a movie starring Julia Roberts, and saddled Gilbert with a certain kind of fame.

Gilbert was already an accomplished novelist, biographer and journalist when that happened. But the massive success of Eat, Pray, Love necessarily transformed Gilbert's creative life.

Gilbert has returned to fiction with her first novel in thirteen years, entitled The Signature of All Things: A Novel. She spent several years researching for the book, which adventures of Alma Whittaker, a 19th century botanist who studies moss. The book shines with Alma's curiosity for life and science and the struggle of self-discovery.

Join us for an extended conversation with Gilbert, including talk of "dirty words" from the 19th century which didn't make the radio edit.

She'll talk about why she chose to write a "great moss novel", how she chose to write her heroine Alma (homely, brilliant, and moneyed), and how she dealt with the fame that her memoir bestowed on her.

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The Dissolve Talks about All-Time Favorite Movies: "Real Life" and "To Be or Not to Be"

This week, a look back at some favorite films. Staff writer Nathan Rabin and Editorial Director Keith Phipps of film site The Dissolve join us to talk about some of their all-time favorite films.

Nathan recommends Albert Brooks' 1979 satire Real Life, a prescient look at documenting "real life" in pre-reality television times.

Keith recommends the 1942 Ernst Lubitch classic To Be or Not to Be (Criterion Collection), starring Jack Benny and Carole Lombard.

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"I Wish I'd Made That": Talking about Kraftwerk's "Computer World" with Fred Armisen

We often talk to artists about their influences -- the movies, music, and art that inspired them creatively. Some of that stuff is so good and so perfect that they sometimes wish they’d made it themselves.

So we're introducing a new segment that's just about those things. We're calling it "I Wish I'd Made That."

This week, we're talking to eleven-season cast member of Saturday Night Live and the co-creator of Portlandia, Fred Armisen.

We caught up with him just a few weeks ago at Tenacious D's Festival Supreme. He had just performed as his British punk alter-ego Ian Rubbish (alongside Bow Wow Wow's Leigh Gorman on bass, Blondie's Clem Burke on drums and Steve Jones of the Sex Pistols on guitar).

Armisen talked to us about Computer World, the 1981 release from the German electronic pioneers Kraftwerk.

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Gillian Jacobs on Surviving Juilliard and the Unique Challenges and Joys of Working on NBC's "Community"

Gillian Jacobs may never know what it’s like to play the ingenue. As an actress, she has an energy that’s hard to pin down, but it’s anything but naive. After a tough stint at Juilliard's acting school, Jacobs pursued a career in film and television, often being cast in dark, gritty roles. However, in 2009 her career took a sudden lurch in the opposite direction when she was cast in a very different role.

You probably know her as Britta Perry, the confident and outspoken student opposite Joel McHale’s self-involved lawyer-turned-study group leader Jeff Winger on Community. Britta is exceptionally eager, mostly to the vexation of her peers who often voice their displeasure at her stances on social issues. Her friends often describe her as "the worst", but she's ever-confident in her own identity.

When Jacobs signed up for the role in Community, all she knew was that Joel McHale had been cast in it, but she soon realized that it would be a very unique and ambitious show.

In this extended conversation with Jacobs, we'll talk about why she didn't fit in at Juilliard, her big break on Community, and get a peek behind the scenes on a beloved but aggrieved network show.

Jacobs co-stars with Ken Marino in the new movie Bad Milo!, available now on VOD, and plays Britta on NBC’s Community. The show's fifth season premieres in January.

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The Outshot: Grand Theft Auto V

Jesse tells us why a perfect balance between the real and unreal makes Grand Theft Auto V so enticing.

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Bullseye With Jesse Thorn: Jon Mooallem & Elmore Leonard

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Jon Mooallem
Guests: 
Elmore Leonard
Guests: 
Nathan Rabin
Guests: 
Tasha Robinson

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.

How To Save A Species: Jon Mooallem At The Corner of Imagination and Extinction

Whether it's The Lion King, Werner Herzog's "Grizzly Man", or the last kitten video you saw on Youtube, we are constantly inundated with stories about animals. Wilderness has taken a deep hold on our collective imaginations. And at a time when conservation science is making gigantic leaps, while dozens of species are disappearing every single day, the narratives that humans weave about animals have never had such drastic consequences.

It's this phenomenon that inspired Jon Mooallem to write his new book, Wild Ones: A Sometimes Dismaying, Weirdly Reassuring Story About Looking at People Looking at Animals in America. Mooallem is interested in how people see, and have seen, wild animals. Focusing on three specific endangered species--the Polar bear, the metalmark butterfly, and the whooping crane--the book explores the intricacies and the repercussions of America's relationship with the wild. Mooallem has contributed to New York Times Magazine, This American Life, Harper's, Wired, The New Yorker, and Radiolab.

Jon tells us about North American dire wolves (yes, dire wolves), America's strange relationship with Humphrey the humpback whale, and the philosophical questions that conservation scientists must ask themselves while donning giant bird costumes.

Black Prairie, a Portland-based band featuring members of The Decemberists, recorded a soundtrack for the book called Wild Ones: A Musical Score for the Things That You Might See in Your Head When You Reflect on Certain Characters and Incidents That You Read About in The Book. They will begin touring with Jon Mooallem next week.

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Kurt Braunohler: "How Do I Land?"

Comedian Kurt Braunohler thinks he can make the world a better place through stupidity, absurdity, and fake Hallmark cards.

His new stand-up album, How Do I Land is available now.

The Dissolve Recommends Documentaries: A Band Called Death and Stories We Tell

Staff Writer Nathan Rabin and Senior Editor Tasha Robinson, from The Dissolve, join us to share two documentaries out now on DVD.

Nathan recommends A Band Called Death, a look at the rise, fall, and eventual resurrection of a band of three black brothers from Detroit who played punk music in the early 1970s.

Tasha recommends Stories We Tell, directed by Oscar-nominated writer/director Sarah Polley. Stories We Tell explores the nature of truth, memory, and family secrets, as Polley tries to uncover her own family's history through personal interviews that start seeming more and more like myth than fact.

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Remembering Elmore Leonard (1925-2013)

Author Elmore Leonard died last month. To honor the great pulp fiction writer, we are airing an excerpt from our interview with him from 2007.

Leonard had a style, a story schema, and a voice of which he was truly a master. His characters got into trouble, the problems grew larger, and they spoke to each other with honed dialogue that influenced readers, writers, and filmmakers for decades. His novels inspired such films as Get Shorty, Out Of Sight, Jackie Brown, and 3:10 To Yuma.

He talks about his love for Hemingway's style, why his dozens of Western novels were more true to life than the stuff he saw on TV, and how nothing gave him more pleasure than sitting down and getting characters to talk.

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The Outshot: Drunk History

Drunk History on Comedy Central has a pretty simple, crude concept: get comedians roaringly hammered and have them talk about their favorite moment in American history. Jesse explains why this is more beautiful than you'd think.

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

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

New to Bullseye? Subscribe to our podcast in iTunes or with your favorite podcatcher to make sure you automatically get the newest episode every week.

And if you're looking for a particular segment to listen to or share, check us out on Soundcloud.

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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David Rakoff: A Retrospective

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

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

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The Outshot: "The Long Goodbye"

Elliott Gould may not seem like the hard-boiled noir type, but in 1973, under the direction of Robert Altman, he had that perfect combination of intellect and self-satisfied cool. With Gould playing Raymond Chandler's most famous character, Philip Marlowe, The Long Goodbye explores the powerful narcissism that governed the streets of 1970s Los Angeles.

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