noir

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

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
George Takei
Guests: 
Damian Abraham
Guests: 
Carolyn Kellogg

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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The Outshot: 'Learned Pigs & Fireproof Women'

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

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Jean Grae and Kevin Biegel & Mike Royce of "Enlisted"

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Jean Grae
Guests: 
Kevin Biegel
Guests: 
Mike Royce
Guests: 
Carolyn Kellogg
Guests: 
My Brother, My Brother and Me

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

Jean Grae on an Accidental Hip Hop Career

Rapper Jean Grae, formerly known as What? What?, has been a stalwart member of New York City's underground hip hop community for decades. She was born into a musical family, though she didn't exactly follow in her parents' footsteps. Her father, Abdullah Ibrahim (also known as Dollar Brand), helped to found South African Jazz and her mother, Sathima Bea Benjamin, was a gifted singer and composer. Grae was born in South Africa and her parents made sure she knew her roots -- but she was also a New Yorker, through and through.

She joins us this week to tell us about growing up with talented musicians as parents, her accidental hip hop career, and why she doesn't shy away from outrageous, cartoonish violence in her lyrics.

Jean Grae has had a very busy year. Her latest projects include a new full length, Gotham Down, a new EP called Jeannie, a an audiobook entitled The State of Eh, and a webseries in which she writes, directs and stars, Life with Jeannie.

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Carolyn Kellogg on New Books: Utopic and Dystopic New York

We're joined by Carolyn Kellogg, book critic for the Los Angeles Times, to talk about two books with very different views of New York City.

Her first recommendation is the apocalyptic noir novel Shovel Ready, by Adam Sternbergh.

Her second recommendation is a look at the utopic vision of a New York institution. Inside the Dream Palace: The Life and Times of New York’s Legendary Chelsea Hotel, by Sherill Tippins is about the famous Chelsea Hotel and its artists and philosophers in residence.

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My Brother, My Brother and Me Proffer Advice: Reading Classic Lit, Gaming with Your Boss, and Solo Concert-Going

Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy and Griffin McElroy stop by Bullseye to solve our cultural quandaries. Listen to their advice on reading classic literature like "Super Fudge", playing video games with your boss and grooving solo at a James Taylor concert.

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

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Kevin Biegel and Mike Royce of "Enlisted": Taking on Military Comedy

It's been awhile since television or film successfully took on military comedy. While the 1970s and 1980s had several military-based hits -- M*A*S*H, Hogan's Heroes, Stripes, Private Benjamin -- there hasn't been much to see as of late.

The executive producers of Enlisted, a new comedy from Fox, aim to change that. Kevin Biegel and Mike Royce have combined forces from the worlds of workplace and family sitcoms. Their resumes include writing and producing credits for Scrubs, Cougar Town, Everybody Loves Raymond and Men of a Certain Age.

Enlisted is about the military-as-workplace, but it's also about family. The show features a trio of brothers in the US Army. Oldest brother Pete had a promising start to his career serving in combat in Afghanistan, but one mistake gets him reassigned to a platoon of misfits on a support base in Florida. It also means he has to supervise his siblings -- a sarcastic middle child and an overenthusiastic baby brother.

Biegel and Royce talk to us about their goal of creating a grounded comedy that doesn't deal in outlandishness, learning about real pranks and antics happening on-base, and how a "bunch of softies" make a show about soldiers.

Enlisted airs Friday nights at 9pm on Fox.

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The Outshot: Paul Anka on Showmanship

Paul Anka, a consummate entertainer with few peers, has very high standards. This week, Jesse shares what he dubs as one of the greatest after-show recordings of all time and reminds us to live and move with conviction.

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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: Kurt Braunohler, Walter Mosley, and Kasper Hauser

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Kurt Braunohler
Guests: 
Walter Mosley
Guests: 
Scott Tobias
Guests: 
Nathan Rabin
Guests: 
Kasper Hauser


AV Club Culture Recommendations

This week’s culture critics are Nathan Rabin and Scott Tobias of The AV Club, here to offer up a pair of humor-fueled recommendations. Nathan suggests checking out comedian Hannibal Buress’s debut one-hour special, Animal Furnace, noting a marked evolution in Hannibal’s stand-up style. Meanwhile Scott is enamored with Wes Anderson’s latest, Moonrise Kingdom, hailing it as the filmmaker’s best work.

Moonrise Kingdom is currently in limited release, opening nationwide on June 15th, while Hannibal Buress’s Animal Furnace is now available on both CD and DVD.

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Comedian Kurt Braunohler

Kurt Braunohler is a stand-up comedian and improviser, as well as one half of the sketch duo Kurt & Kristen, performing alongside writing partner Kristen Schaal. While stand-up consumes much of his time these days, he may soon be best known for IFC's Bunk, putting his disarming charms to work as host of an improv game show where comedians compete in insane challenges on behalf of less than charitable causes.

Kurt sits down with us to discuss the myriad ways in which the conventions of the game show format are begging to be satirized, the serendipitous origin of Kurt & Kristen, and how they took one of our all-time favorite sketches, "Kristen Schaal is a Horse", to Australia's biggest stage. Bunk premieres Friday, June 8th at 10:30 PM on IFC.

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Kasper Hauser News Update

Thought you could escape the world of news within the hour of our pop culture program? Think again! Getting you caught up on all the latest stories that may or may not have happened, here's an update from the minds of our fake news team: the San Francisco-based sketch comedy group Kasper Hauser.

For more Kasper Hauser, check out The Kasper Hauser Podcast right here on MaximumFun.org.

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Crime Novelist Walter Mosley

Walter Mosley is an author of nearly forty books, but perhaps he's best known for his work in detective fiction. His Easy Rawlins detective series began with 1989's Devil in a Blue Dress. Lately Mosley's penning the stories of a new detective: Leonid McGill. His latest serial novel is All I Did Was Shoot My Man, the most recent entry in the McGill series, and it's loaded with the kind of snappy, hard-boiled noir writing Mosley is famous for.

Walter joined us back in 2010 to talk about the existential crises at the heart of the detective genre, and how he made the move from computer programming to detective fiction so many years ago.

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The Outshot: Jay-Z’s Flow

For The Outshot this week, Jesse makes the case for Jay-Z as hip hop's greatest of all time -- if only for the effortlessly perfect rhythm of his lyrical flow, best represented on the track "Hovi Baby".

Got your own pick for rap's best flow? Stake your claim on the MaxFun Forum by picking your own Outshot.

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