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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Nick Hornby & Luis Guzmán

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Nick Hornby on 'Funny Girl', Creativity and Ambition

Nick Hornby became famous as a literary writer for men. His first three books were about guys, fans specifically, Fever Pitch was a memoir about Hornby’s love of soccer; High Fidelity was about a record store owner, struggling with love. About A Boy was about a sort of boyish man tending to a mannish boy.

Hornby has since written several other books and screenplays, including Oscar nominees An Education and Brooklyn.

His recent novel, Funny Girl, is about a working class young woman in the 1960s who leaves her small town in search of a career on television, and her success on a BBC sitcom.

Nick Hornby sat down with Jesse to talk about why he set his novel in the mid-60s (and why its protagonist is a woman), personal ambition and creativity, and what it's like to be a Hollywood dinner guest.

Funny Girl is available now in paperback.

The interview originally aired in March 2015.


Photo: Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images

Luis Guzmán on 'The Part'

Luis Guzmán is a veteran character actor. But back in the early 1990s, he was still working as a social worker on the Lower East Side, and acting was more of a side gig. Then he got a role that put him on the map -- the thuggish sidekick Pachanga in the 1993 movie Carlito's Way.

As Guzmán tells it, everything crystallized with that role.

You can currently see Luis Guzmán in the role of Jesse Sallander on the CBS hospital drama, Code Black. On the show, he plays the role of the trauma unit’s senior nurse, affectionately referred to as “Momma”.

The interview originally aired in March 2015.

The Outshot: Devil in a Blue Dress

Jesse explains why Easy Rawlins, of Devil in A Blue Dress, is a different breed of private detective.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Todd Glass & Raffi

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Todd Glass
Guests: 
Raffi
Guests: 
Ariel Schrag

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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Todd Glass Talks about "Busting Out of the Shed", Learning Disabilities, and Crafting Stand Up

Todd Glass is a veteran stand up comic. He's been performing comedy for thirty years. Four years ago, he made a big change. He had created a life for himself. He was a well-respected and well-liked comedian. But he was living in large part as a closeted gay man. He worried about who knew, and who didn't. At forty seven years old, he made the decision to come out, and finally live on his own terms.

His recent memoir is called The Todd Glass Situation: A Bunch of Lies about My Personal Life and a Bunch of True Stories about My 30-Year Career in Stand-Up Comedy.

Glass tells us why he waited so long to "bust out of the shed", the elaborate coping mechanisms and fake outs he constructed to hide his learning disabilities growing up, and why he thinks so much comedy doesn't stand the test of time.

For a schedule of appearances visit Todd Glass’ website.

The interview originally aired in September 2014.

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Ariel Schrag on 'September Girls' and Flipping the Mermaid Script: "I Wish I'd Made That"

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. This week, we talk to cartoonist and author Ariel Schrag.

Ariel Schrag was already writing and drawing comics as a freshman in high school. Each summer, she'd create and self-publish a comic about the previous school year. The subject matter was, well, high school stuff. She wrote about her high school crushes, family issues, her struggles in AP Chemistry. Then she caught the attention of an indie comics publisher who decided to release her work as a series of graphic novels. She was only in the eleventh grade.

She recently wrote a coming of age novel, Adam. The title character is an awkward teenager who spends a summer visiting his older sister in New York City. He develops a crush on a girl. The problem is, this girl likes girls. To get around that problem, Adam convinces her that he's a trans man. The book is sweet, funny and frank.

For our segment, Schrag tells us about a very different kind of coming of age novel, Bennett Madison's September Girls, and how it's inspired her to infuse some magic and otherworldliness into her own work.

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Raffi on Performing for Kids, Growing Up in Egypt, and His Forty Year Career

If you were a parent or a child after about 1975, you probably know Raffi. He's one of the best known children's performers in the world, and his original works like "Baby Beluga" and "Bananaphone" and renditions of folk songs like "Down By the Bay" have helped him sustain a career for almost forty years.

Raffi Cavoukian talks to us about his early childhood in Egypt, his social activism, and why he's dedicated his life to entertaining children.

His most recent album is called Owl Singalong.

The interview originally aired in September 2014

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The Outshot: Van Morrison's Revenge Album

What happens when a musician records thirty one songs in one session, all out of spite? Jesse tells us about Van Morrison's "revenge album".

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Nick Hornby & Luis Guzmán

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Nick Hornby
Guests: 
Luis Guzmán

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.


Photo: Tim P. Whitby/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Nick Hornby on 'Funny Girl', Creativity and Ambition

Nick Hornby became famous as a literary writer for men. His first three books were about guys, fans specifically, Fever Pitch was a memoir about Hornby’s love of soccer; High Fidelity was about a record store owner, struggling with love. About A Boy was about a sort of boyish man tending to a mannish boy.

Hornby has since written several other books and screenplays, including Oscar nominee An Education.

His new novel, Funny Girl, is about a working class young woman in the 1960s who leaves her small town in search of a career on television, and her success on a BBC sitcom.

He sat down with Jesse to talk about why he set his novel in the mid-60s (and why its protagonist is a woman), personal ambition and creativity, and what it's like to be a Hollywood dinner guest.

Funny Girl is available now.

If you liked this, let someone know! Click here to share this interview with someone.


Photo: Joe Klamar/AFP/Getty Images

Luis Guzmán of Ana Maria in Novela Land on 'The Part'

Luis Guzmán is a veteran character actor. But back in the early 1990s, he was still working as a social worker on the Lower East Side, and acting was more of a side gig. Then he got a role that put him on the map -- the thuggish sidekick Pachanga in the 1993 movie Carlito's Way.

As Guzmán tells it, everything crystallized with that role.

You can see Luis Guzmán playing evil lawyer Licenciado Schmidt in the new movie Ana Maria in Novela Land, in theaters now.

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The Outshot: Devil in a Blue Dress

Jesse explains why Easy Rawlins, of Devil in A Blue Dress, is a different breed of private detective.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Elizabeth Gilbert and Daryl Hall

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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 talks curiosity, life after "Eat, Pray, Love" and writing her most recent novel

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

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

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

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 a certain kind of fame.
(This segment originally aired in October 2013)

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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.

(This segment originally aired in October 2013)

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Comedy: Patton Oswalt explains why sometimes shopping can be embarrassing

When you lose a few pounds it's natural to buy new clothes. You might try on those skin tight jeans that look so great on the model. But, trying on new clothes isn't always fun. Sometimes it's downright embarrassing. Patton Oswalt will explain why he didn't end up with new pants.

His most recent stand up special, Tragedy Plus Comedy Equals Time, is out now. He's actually gone silent for the summer. Taking a break from the internet. But you can catch him live in LA starting September 13.

Daryl Hall of Hall & Oates on forming a band, creating a signature sound, and hip hop sampling

Daryl Hall, best known as the lead vocalist and co-founder of Hall & Oates, is a singer, songwriter and producer with a collection of #1 songs to his name. He spent his formative years in Philadelphia around soul singers like Smokey Robinson.

Daryl Hall and John Oates met as students at Temple University, and went on to form a best-selling musical duo with chart-toppers like "Rich Girl", "Sara Smile", and "Private Eyes". Hall talks about his first meeting with Oates, and how he used disco and punk rock to help create Hall & Oates' signature sound.

His newest project is a web series called Live from Daryl's House of performances and collaborations with a diverse set of musicians that's included Minus the Bear, Cee-lo Green, Toots and the Maytals, Chromeo and the Neon Trees.
(This segment originally aired on The Sound of Young America in February 2011)

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The Outshot: Bo Jackson

And finally, the outshot for this week – Bo Jackson. How is a guy that fast, that strong? And how is a guy that strong, that fast? Jesse explains.

(This segment originally aired in January 2012)

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: George R.R. Martin and 'E' from Eels

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George R.R. Martin: Killing Off Characters, Critiquing Tolkien, and Dealing with Angry Fans

We look back at John Hodgman's conversation with George R. R. Martin author of the very popular series of fantasy books called A Song of Ice and Fire. The novels have been adapted for the acclaimed HBO series Game of Thrones. At the time of this interview, the fifth book in Martin's series, A Dance with Dragons, had recently been released. There are two more novels in the series and fans eagerly await their arrival.

Martin joins us to talk about killing off characters, creating new religions and dealing with the expectations of fans.

For a longer version of this interview, check out its original broadcast in 2011.

Vol Libre and The Tommy Westphall Universe with Jason Kottke

Jason Kottke of Kottke.org, a collection of some of the finest links the internet has to offer, brings us this week’s culture picks. Jason starts us out by recommending Vol Libre, a short animation from 1980 that wowed people with its fractal-generated graphics when it was made and still impresses today.

Next, Jason recommends The Tommy Westphall Universe, an exploration of all of the television programs connected to St. Elsewhere and therefore relegated to dream status by the final reveal that St. Elsewhere itself was a dream.

Pop Culture Advice from My Brother, My Brother and Me: Water Cooler Talk, Comic Book Movies, and Vinyl Snobbery

Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy and Griffin McElroy return to Bullseye to answer some of your most pressing pop culture problems and end up taking on Duck Dynasty, James and the Giant Peach, Lionel Richie, grandparents and more.

If you've still got questions that need anwers, 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.

The Outshot: The Fania All-Stars

This week, Jesse recommends that we all overcome any reluctance to let salsa music into our lives, and to begin with the Fania All-Stars.

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: The Creators of Trophy Wife and Chris Onstad

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Emily Halpern
Guests: 
Sarah Haskins
Guests: 
Chris Onstad
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.

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

The Co-Creators of "Trophy Wife" Explain: It's Not What You Expect

It would be reasonable to assume that the ABC sitcom Trophy Wife is about a rich older man and his ditzy, beautiful young wife. It might be kind of insulting, or it might be drawn in shades of reality TV. But though the show does feature Bradley Whitford as an older man (twice divorced, with three kids) and a younger wife played by Malin Akerman, the title is pretty tongue in cheek. Trophy Wife isn't about jealous ex-wives, a vacuous new wife, and a slimy older dude. It's about a complex family situation and the people within it.

The show's creators, Emily Halpern and Sarah Haskins, envisioned the show from the trophy wife's point of view. What is it like to join to a family that existed well before you came along? If you're one of several authority figures and parents, what's your role?

Halpen and Haskins had special insight into that situation. As Haskins says, "I started dating and eventually married my next door neighbor...who is a gentleman 20 years my senior who has been married actually 3 times, but we didn’t think America could handle that."

The show features a great ensemble cast. The spouses are played by Whitford, Akerman, Marcia Gay Harden and Michaela Watkins, and the family's children are played by Albert Tsai, Warren Lee and Bailee Madison.

We'll talk to creators and showrunners Sarah Haskins and Emily Halpern about the blended family that inspired the show, writing real characters for children and their ensemble comedy predecessors.

Trophy Wife airs Tuesday nights at 9:30 on ABC.

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Boing Boing's Mark Frauenfelder Recommends: Robinson Crusoe on Mars, and Fun with Circuits

BoingBoing’s Mark Frauenfelder stops by to give a glimpse of the future.

He suggests checking out a new novel out this month called The Martian by Andy Weir. It's a tale about an astronaut who gets stranded on Mars, and his struggle to stay alive with few supplies, his wits, and ingenuity.

And if you've ever thought about circuit building at the grocery store, he suggests learning a new skill with a game for iOS called Mho's Resistance.

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Comedy: Morgan Murphy Explains What to Do Before a Facelift

Even if you're scared to death of plastic surgery, maybe you've considered, even for a split second, getting a little work done. It could just be your little secret! No one would have to know!

But you really should tell someone if you're going to go under the knife. Morgan Murphy will explain. She joined us last year at MaxFunCon 2013 for our comedy showcase in the woods of Lake Arrowhead.

Morgan Murphy's new special is Irish Goodbye. You can find it on Netflix, iTunes or Amazon. She'll be joining us at this year's Atlantic Ocean Comedy and Music Festival. Stay tuned for more details.

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Chris Onstad and "Achewood", a World of Anthropomorphic Stuffed Animals

Chris Onstad is behind one of the most popular and critically acclaimed online comic strips. It's called Achewood, and it's set in a fictional town populated by anthropomorphic stuffed animals and pets. The strip is surreal and funny, and it involves many different characters with detailed backstories but the two most prominent are "Ray Smuckles", a very successful and fortunate cat, and his childhood best friend "Roast Beef". Chris Onstad stopped making the strip for awhile in 2011. But the hiatus is over now and he’s back making new comics. We're revisiting our conversation with Onstad from 2009.

Onstad tells us about how he collected the many moments that would become Achewood strips, struggling to write something funny every day, and discovering the joys of self-publishing online.

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The Outshot: Brooklyn Nine-Nine

Jesse tells us about a TV show in its first season that's already running at full-speed: Fox's ensemble comedy, Brooklyn Nine-Nine.

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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.

If you liked this, let someone know! Click here to share this segment with your friends.

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.

If you liked this, let someone know! Click here to share this segment with your friends.

"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: Junot Diaz, Carrie Fisher, and My Brother, My Brother and Me

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Junot Diaz
Guests: 
Carrie Fisher
Guests: 
Griffin McElroy
Guests: 
Travis McElroy
Guests: 
Justin McElroy

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.

Junot Diaz on Immigration, A Love of Books, and Why His Writing Isn't "Sexist Claptrap"

Junot Diaz was already a rising star when his first novel, The Brief Wondrous Life of Oscar Wao, was published in 2007 and subsequently won the Pulitzer Prize in Fiction. His short stories had netted him attention, acclaim, and a published collection of short fiction, Drown.

He's continued to accrue major literary awards and recently received a Genius Grant from the Macarthur Foundation, which noted his use of "raw, vernacular dialogue and spare, unsentimental prose to draw readers into the various and distinct worlds that immigrants must straddle.”

There have been a number of constants throughout Junot's career. He's continued to write fiction about the immigrant experience, specifically from a Dominican-American perspective. And he's returned again and again to the character of Yunior de Las Casas. Like Junot, Yunior was born in the Dominican Republic and was transplanted with his family to New Jersey in the dead of winter. Like Junot, Yunior is intelligent and over-educated, an academic who lives in Cambridge. Like Junot, Yunior grew up with Dominican women who wanted to get the hell out of Dodge, who would do better not to mess with him (or any dude).

That is to say -- Yunior is a well-developed character by now. In his book This Is How You Lose Her, now in paperback, Junot explores Yunior's issues with intimacy and the psyche of a cheater. The reader roots for Yunior to find love, even as they wince, watching him sabotage one relationship after another.

Junot joins us this week to talk about the immigrant experience, accusations of sexism, and the soundtrack that kept him writing through many late nights.

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Ian Cohen Recommends Heavy Rock for October

Ian Cohen, contributing editor at Pitchfork, stops by to recommend some new heavy rock releases.

He recommends an album that "finds people at the edge of both pop and metal", the new release Everyday I Get Closer to the Light From Which I Came from the solo project Jesu.

Ian also suggests checking out the Tim Hecker's upcoming release, Virgins, an ambient album that doesn't fade into the background.

Jesu's Everyday I Get Closer to the Light from Which I Came is out now via Avalanche.
Tim Hecker's Virgins is out October 14 via kranky records.

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Pop Culture Advice from My Brother, My Brother and Me: Water Cooler Talk, Comic Book Movies, and Vinyl Snobbery

Justin McElroy, Travis McElroy and Griffin McElroy return to Bullseye to answer some of your most pressing pop culture problems and end up taking on Duck Dynasty, James and the Giant Peach, Lionel Richie, grandparents and more.

If you've still got questions that need anwers, 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.

If you liked this, let someone know! Click here to share this segment with your friends.

Carrie Fisher on Growing Up Famous, Star Wars, and Shock Therapy

Carrie Fisher is best known for her role as Princess Leia in the seminal Star Wars films, but she began her celebrity life as a baby -- as the daughter of America's sweethearts, the actress Debbie Reynolds and singer Eddie Fisher.

Carrie has battled addiction, bipolar disorder and the ups and downs of celebrity to reinvent herself as a successful novelist and memoirist. Her book Shockaholic recalls her relationships with Michael Jackson, Elizabeth Taylor, and her parents, self-medication with drugs, and the last resort of electroconvulsive therapy.

Today, we're revisiting our conversation with Carrie Fisher from 2011. Her book Shockaholic is available now in paperback.

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The Outshot: Bubba Sparxxx

So maybe The Accidental Racist didn't go over so hot. But this week, Jesse will tell you about a record that actually mixed country and hip-hop to the benefit of both. It's Bubba Sparxxx's 2003 release, Deliverance.

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Bullseye With Jesse Thorn: Stephen Merchant, Co-Creator Of Hello Ladies and The Office

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Stephen Merchant
Guests: 
Carolyn Kellogg
Guests: 
Myq Kaplan

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.

Why Stephen Merchant Can't (And Won't) Please Everyone

With the debut of the original U.K. version of "The Office", the show's co-creators Stephen Merchant and Ricky Gervais helped usher in a new era of awkward realism in comedy television.

Merchant began his career with a plan: a day job in radio, with plenty of time in the evening to do stand up comedy and other projects. But once he met Ricky Gervais, a series of events led to creation of the pilot episode of The Office, and you might know what happened from there.

Merchant is a connoisseur of honest, uncomfortable, this-is-what-real-life-unfortunately-sometimes-feels-like moments. He's translated this talent into a stream of hilarious television series. Working with friend and regular collaborator Ricky Gervais, Merchant has created and written for Extras, Life's Too Short, and The Ricky Gervais Show. His new comedy, Hello Ladies, was inspired by Merchant's dating misadventures and his own stand up comedy.

Merchant tells us about creating the cultural colossus that is The Office, the comfort he finds in being a "historian of comedy", and the real life worst date he's ever had.

Hello Ladies premieres Sunday September 29 on HBO.

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Carolyn Kellogg Bets On Adonis for Nobel Prize and Recommends Jonathan Lethem's "Dissident Gardens"

Carloyn Kellogg, book critic and staff writer for the LA Times, joins us to recommend some best bets from the world of literature.

Next month, the tight-lipped Nobel Committee will be announcing their annual prize for literature. Kellogg has her money on the Syrian poet Adonis, a major figure in Arabic poetry for the past fifty years. A collection of his poetry, Adonis: Selected Poems, was translated by Khaled Mattawa.

Carolyn also recommends Jonathan Lethem's new novel about multiple generations of political revolutionaries in New York, Dissident Gardens.

Read more of Carolyn's writing on books, authors, and publishing at the LA Times' blog .

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Myq Kaplan: Meat Robot

Comedian Myq Kaplan wants your advice on a problem that his "friend" is having.

His recent stand-up album Meat Robot is available now.

The Outshot: Why "I Want You Back" Is The Greatest Pop Song Ever

There's really only one way to prove "I Want You Back" is the greatest pop song ever: listen.

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Bullseye With Jesse Thorn: Prodigy Of Mobb Deep

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Prodigy
Guests: 
Carolyn Kellogg

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Prodigy: Member of Mobb Deep, Crusader From Queensbridge

Queensbridge, New York is an important place for hip-hop. Not since Motown, 25 years earlier, has such an astonishing number of artists with a distinctive, sought after sound, emerged from such a specific neighborhood. Nas, Marley Marl, Cormega--these are just a few of the huge names that sprang from America's largest housing projects, located just across the bridge from Manhattan in Queens. Since the early 1980s, Queensbridge has been a veritable hotbed for new directions in East Coast hip-hop.

And no rap-group has drawn inspiration from Queensbridge more vividly than Mobb Deep. Composed of rappers Havoc and Prodigy, Mobb Deep create music that makes you feel like you, too, grew up in Queensbridge. Listen to Shook Ones Pt. 2 enough times, and you'll feel like you could stab an unlucky sucker's brain with his nosebone.

Jesse sat down with Prodigy, aka Anthony Johnson, after the release of his autobiography, My Infamous Life in 2011. Prodigy had just recently been released from prison, where he spent three years on gun charges. He talks about growing up with sickle-cell anemia, being dragged along on his father's jewelry store robberies as a teen, and how he used his time in prison for some serious personal transformation.

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Carolyn Kellogg Recommends: Farewell, My Lovely and The Crying of Lot 49

Carolyn Kellogg, book critic and staff writer for the LA Times, joins us to recommend two of her all-time favorite books.

First, she recommends Farewell, My Lovely by Raymond Chandler. This hardboiled Los Angeles noir features Chandler's iconic language--analogies stronger than the libations his protagonists down in LA's most dimly lit nightclubs.

Kellogg's next pick is Thomas Pynchon's novel The Crying Of Lot 49. At less than 200 pages, The Crying Of Lot 49 is an accessible, pun-filled entry into the dense world of Pynchon.

Read more of Carolyn's writing on books, authors, and publishing online at the LA Times' blog Jacket Copy.

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The Outshot: Randy Newman's "Sail Away"

If "You've Got A Friend In Me," is the only thing you think of when you hear the name Randy Newman, we've got an Outshot for you.

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