Elizabeth brings this week's case against her husband Eric. Elizabeth and Eric make a living performing together; Elizabeth is a visual artist who paints on stage while Eric, a singer-songwriter, performs original songs. At the core of their dispute is a question of propriety -- Elizabeth objects to the use of swear words in Eric's songs as children occasionally attend their performances. Also, Elizabeth is intrigued and inspired by artists who see avoiding profanity in their work as a challenge. Eric, on the other hand, believes there is a place in art for profanity if its use helps the artist get a point across. Who is right? Judge John Hodgman decides.
Andrew Noz joins us this week to share a couple of his current favorite rap tracks. His first pick is Mouse On Tha Track's smooth and mellow "Get High Get Loaded," featuring Fiend. His second recommendation is Mystikal's incredible new song "Hit Me."
Aimee Mann rose to prominence in the 80s with the success of her new wave band 'Til Tuesday's single, "Voices Carry," but she found the limelight uncomfortable. Tired of contending with record companies' attempts to pigeonhole her and her work, Aimee struck out on her own. She joins us this week to discuss that transition from frontwoman to solo artist, the stresses of fame, and coping with uncertainty at a time in her life when she thought she would have had everything figured out.
Seth Godin is best known as a marketing guru, but he brings far more compassion and genuine insight to his work than the title might lead you to expect. And his observations aren't just valuable for CEOs. He makes his work for content creators operating on every scale. He joins us this week to delve into the "assets that matter" -- the qualities and values critical to creating great, meaningful work.
Trickery and deception are featured prominently in some of Orson Welles's finest works, so it is fitting that the existence of an objective truth and its relative importance is most thoroughly explored in Welles's final major film, F for Fake. Part documentary, part film essay, F for Fake features tricks and truths layered atop each other, creating a mesmerizing narrative.
Josh Modell and Andrea Battleground from The Onion's AV Club join us this week with some holiday gift ideas. Josh recommends Tarantino XX, a 10-disc, Blu-ray collection of several of Tarantino's most loved films. Andrea suggests picking up one of the Rediscover jigsaw puzzles of your gift recipient's favorite album covers.
John Roderick and Jonathan Coulton each carved his own warm, authentic, relatable space in the indie rock scene, and their sounds and aesthetics are complementary enough to make a collaboration welcome and exciting. That the collaboration comes in the form of a Christmas album is unexpected, but the end result, One Christmas at a Time, is a fun and charming exploration of familiar holiday themes -- from coping with drunk uncles to the one ultimate childhood gift. Roderick and Coulton join us this week to discuss their first meeting, the challenge inherent in capturing the feelings and emotions of the holiday season while maintaining secular points of view, and why celebrating Christmas in Los Angeles is contemptible.
Navigating the holidays can be a treacherous task; between divining proper party etiquette, appropriately selecting gifts for your loved ones, and just coping with all of the little things that spring up around this time of the year, you're probably aching for some guidance right about now. Fortunately, an ace team of (terrible) advice-giving brothers joins us this week to set us straight.
If you're hungry for more wisdom, seek out Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy, and Griffin McElroy's podcast My Brother, My Brother and Me on MaximumFun.org or in the iTunes store.
The choral symphonic band The Polyphonic Spree's new album, Holidaydream: Sounds of the Holidays started out as an experiment -- what happens when you take The Polyphonic Spree's ethereal, angelic sound and apply it to holiday favorites? The Polyphonic Spree's lead singer Tim DeLaughter joins Bullseye contributor Daniel Ralston to explore this question, the role of spectacle in the act, and DeLaughter's experience collaborating with his young son on the record.
Popular Christmas music can be pretty hit or miss, and a relatively small catalog of options combined with seasonal overexposure to the genre can make the hits seem few and far between. One Christmas pop song that never disappoints Jesse: Donny Hathaway's "This Christmas".
Brian Heater and Alex Zalben join us this week to share some comics picks. Alex suggests you check out Derek Kirk Kim’s Tune: Vanishing Point, a charming, insightful graphic novel with a great twist at the end. Brian recommends the 73rd issue of John Porcellino’s King Cat, a long-running, autobiographical mini-comic featuring tight, minimalist artwork and storytelling.
Judd Apatow is a man who wears many hats: director, producer, screenwriter, husband, and father to name a few. His new movie, This is 40, explores the struggle many married couples face as they try to keep careers and children sorted while nurturing a strong relationship. Apatow talks about his relationship with his wife and collaborator, Leslie Mann, grappling with insecurity, and the source of his lifelong aversion to being the “bad guy.” He also fills us in on the latest Pee-Wee Herman movie news.
Jason Reece of the band …And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead spent many of his teenage years listening to stereotypical punk music from the 80s, and while he loved music, he felt stuck and uninspired by the genre. Fortunately, he stumbled across the Fugazi album 13 Songs in a record store. The song “Waiting Room” changed his perception of what punk music could be.
…And You Will Know Us by the Trail of Dead’s most recent album is called Lost Songs.
Dolly Parton’s beautiful voice could have easily carried her through life. Parton’s unwavering drive and embrace of hard work meant she was ready and willing to carve her own path, however, despite the great sacrifices such commitment required. Parton joins us this week to discuss some of these sacrifices, how they have affected her life, and how she feels about them now. She also shares stories from her childhood (having grown up in a large family in the mountains of Tennessee, Parton has no shortage of fondly remembered anecdotes) and relates the story behind one of her most well-loved songs, "I Will Always Love You."
Dolly Parton’s new book is called Dream More, and it is available now.
ego trip’s Big Book of Racism takes the beloved coffee table book genre and flips it on its head – it’s a book you might hesitate to display in your living room, just based on its provocative title. The content, however, is a pitch-perfect analysis of the absurdity of racism in modern and historical times – observations any host should be glad to broadcast to his or her guests.
R.J. Smith is a former senior editor at Los Angeles Magazine and a music journalist who's written for the Village Voice and Spin. For his latest project, he took on the task of profiling the Godfather of Soul, James Brown. Smith's extensive biography, The One: The Life and Music of James Brown, follows the musician from his childhood, raised in a whorehouse, wearing burlap sack underwear, to stardom, and then to reinvention.
James Brown was a hugely influential musician and performer, known for hits like "I Got You (I Feel Good)" and "Get Up (I Feel Like a Sex Machine)," and he was one of the driving forces behind the creation and popularity of funk music. But he was also much more than that -- a tenacious businessman who ran his finances into the ground, a man of messy and confusing political alliances, and a hardliner on drug abuse (who eventually fell to his own drug addictions).
Why didn’t Brown’s politics fit neatly into a particular mindset? And why, unlike nearly all of his black contemporaries, did he endorse Nixon? What drew crowds of screaming fans to his performances? And how did he survive the rise of disco? Smith's book delves into Brown's storied and complicated life and music career of six decades, as well as his effects on pop music, politics, and race relations in 20th century America. This interview previously aired July 24, 2012.
Cameron Esposito is a standup comic who's been featured on this show and performed at TBS' Just for Laughs Chicago, South by Southwest, and the Aspen Rooftop Comedy Festivals. She recently moved to Los Angeles right in time for the 4th Annual MaxFunCon, and joined us to perform a set musing on her childhood appearance. This segment previously aired July 24, 2012.
The AV Club's Kyle Ryan and Nathan Rabin join us this week with music recommendations. Kyle suggests The Evens's new album, The Odds. Nathan recommends hip-hop group The Coup's new album Sorry to Bother You. Both albums feature artistic departures from the bands' traditional sounds -- The Odds marks a more melodic take on The Evens's punk-rock aesthetic, while Sorry to Bother You introduces punk and dance-rock elements.
Tavi Gevinson's interest in the artistry of fashion inspired her to start her blog, Style Rookie, when she was in middle school. Drawn to unusual color combinations, proportions, and textures, Gevinson sought to create narratives with her outfits -- which caught flack at school, even as fashion magazines praised her sense of style.
Most recently, Gevinson's founded and serves as Editor-in-Chief of the online magazine Rookie, a beautifully curated website for teen girls featuring content spanning myriad topics, including feminism, fashion, and how to build the very best forts. Gevinson recently collected some of Rookie's first year of content into a book called Rookie Yearbook One.
Gevinson joins us to discuss what sparked her foray into the fashion world, people's tendency to fixate on her age, and the qualities that make people worth writing about.
We may have only known Retta as a neurosurgeon, given her pre-med track in college. But after a few years of working in the pharmaceutical industry post-grad, her casual TV-watching led to a spark of realization -- acting could be a viable path, too. Her newfound dream of working in entertainment led to a stand up act, and eventually the role of Donna on NBC's Parks and Recreation.
Retta talks about her start in show business, her fear of being typecast, and the evolution of her character on Parks and Rec, Donna Meagle. You can catch Parks and Recreation Thursday nights on NBC.
Who is better suited to parody the reality TV show genre as a whole, and Antiques Roadshow in particular, than the folks at The Onion? This week, Jesse recommends Lake Dredge Appraisal, a sly take on your typical appraisal show which often defies your expectations.
What show are you enjoying lately? Why don't you head over to the MaxFun forums and share YOUR outshot?
Fran Lebowitz's literary career had a somewhat inauspicious beginning -- not long after being expelled from high school, she moved to New York, showed up barefoot at a publishing house to submit her poetry collection, and was incredulous when it was rejected. Her determination, fearlessness, and sharp wit were undeniable, however, and she soon became not only a successful author, but one of New York's most important social critics.
Lebowitz shares stories of teenage rebellion, getting started as a writer, and why she considers herself to be the least envious person on the planet. A collection of her essays, The Fran Lebowitz Reader, is now available in audiobook form.
You may not immediately recognize his name, but chances are good you've heard Karriem Riggins's work. He's a jazz drummer who's played with greats like Diana Krall and Ron Carter, and he's produced hip hop for Erykah Badu and The Roots. Riggins' new solo album, Alone / Together, fuses his drumming with his production chops.
He joins us this week to discuss the song that changed his life: "Give it Up or Turnit a Loose" by James Brown.
"It Was a Good Day" is rapper Ice Cube's biggest hit -- a solid rap song with a great beat, it's easy to see why this record was so successful. What makes this song truly great, however, isn't Ice Cube's vivid description of his good day, but looming, omnipresent possibility of a much worse day.
Tom Scharpling, Maggie Serota, and Daniel Ralston from the Low Times podcast join us this week with music suggestions. Maggie recommends “What Have I Done to Deserve This” from Pet Shop Boys, Tom suggests “Stud Spider” by Tony Joe White, and Daniel thinks we should check out Bill Fox’s “Bonded to You.”
You may best recognize Stephen Tobolowsky from his role as Ned Ryerson in Groundhog Day, but his considerable body of work spans several mediums. He's appeared as a character actor in hundreds of films and television shows, including the HBO series Deadwood, he hosts The Tobolowsky Files podcast, and he's now written a book called The Dangerous Animals Club.
The stories in his podcast and his new book are about his life, but they aren't Hollywood gossip. They're funny, intimate, and often profound recountings of things from his normal life – like falling in love for the first time, being held at gunpoint at the grocery store, and spending Christmas Eve tripping on acid. He joins us to share some of those stories.
R&B has lost its edge in recent years, but Frank Ocean’s album Channel Orange is a new, exciting example of the genre. Ocean channels emotions and harnesses distance to create beautiful, memorable songs and a masterful record.
Brian Heater and Alex Zalben join us this week to share some great comics. Brian recommends Skyscrapers Of The Midwest by Joshua Cotter, a beautifully illustrated story of growing up and imagination. Alex suggests Box Office Poison by Alex Robinson, an exploration of young adults living in New York in the 90s, informed by the author’s life experiences.
Ice sits down with us to talk about his desire to bring an artful appreciation to hip hop's origins and about going through his phone book to sit down with friends to discuss the craft. He'll also answer that lingering question: did he ghostwrite for an 80s rap album by Mister T? This interview originally aired June 12, 2012.
For much of his musical career, Aaron Freeman might have been better known to you as Gene Ween, guitarist and co-founder of the experimental rock band Ween.
In May, Freeman released his first solo record, Marvelous Clouds, a collection of covers of songs by 60s poet/songwriter Rod McKuen. Earlier this year, Freeman announced he was retiring the Gene Ween persona for good. This week he tells us about the song that changed his life: Bob Marley's "No Woman, No Cry". This interview originally aired June 12, 2012.
Greta Gerwig is an actress and filmmaker, whose starring role in the 2007 comedy Hannah Takes the Stairs put her right at the heart of the mumblecore movement. She's since gone on to leading roles in bigger indies alongside Ben Stiller in Greenberg, as well as major motion pictures like Arthur, opposite Russell Brand. The indie darling has had a particularly prominent year in 2012, with starring roles in Damsels in Distress, Lola Versus, and Woody Allen's To Rome with Love. All are available now on DVD.
Greta joins us to discuss her artistic upbringing in Sacramento (complete with dreams of being a ballerina) and her meteoric and slightly serendipitous rise as an actress. This interview originally aired June 12, 2012.
On this week's Outshot, Jesse misses the old days of pure wacky comedy insanity exemplified by the unfiltered goofiness of Mel Brooks' History of the World, Part I. This segment originally aired June 12, 2012.
The Grammy-nominated jazz pianist and composer Vijay Iyer began learning classical violin at age three and started improvising on the piano only a few years later. While he studied math and physics at Yale and UC Berkeley, he couldn't stay away from music. He found himself doing academic work by day, and moonlighting as a jazz pianist in Bay Area clubs.
His music is known for its complex, pulsing rhythms and creating unusual covers of artists like Stevie Wonder, Flying Lotus, and Michael Jackson.
He talks to us about exploring rhythm with math (remember Fibonacci's sequence?), the social experience of creating and listening to music, and the idea that "music is action."
Demetri Martin is the kind of person who's obsessed with puzzles and linguistic and cultural ironies, and you've probably seen him explore those on his show Important Things with Demetri Martin. But he's usually got a big sketchpad, slides projected overhead, and a piano to riff on. He's put the theatricality aside in favor of straight ahead one-liners in this clip from his new special, Standup Comedian.
Dave Hill is best known as a New York-based comedian, but he's dabbled in a lot of things. He's interviewed fans of Chick-Fil-A for This American Life, lived the life of a frontman for a semi-successful rock band (they were big in Japan), and even had a job as a pedicab driver for a few days.
One of his trademarks is making himself and others uncomfortable during a performance, whether he's asking inane or (alternately) inappropriately suggestive questions in his man-on-the-street interviews, performing stand up or hosting his talk show The Dave Hill Explosion. He mines a number of uncomfortable situations in his recent book of essays, Tasteful Nudes: ...and Other Misguided Attempts at Personal Growth and Validation.
He talks to us about how being a rock musician made him realize he loved comedy, and how he ended up performing at Sing Sing for maximum security felons. This interview originally aired July 2, 2012.)