The Onion

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Merrill Garbus of Tune-Yards and John Darnielle

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Merrill Garbus
Guests: 
John Darnielle
Guests: 
Josh Dorman

If you're in Los Angeles, come see Bullseye with Jesse Thorn LIVE on Wednesday, October 15th at the Masonic Lodge at Hollywood Forever Cemetery.

Featuring conversation with Rob Corddry (Wedlock, Childrens Hospital) and Dan Harmon (Community, Harmontown), music from Sara Watkins (Nickel Creek, Watkins Family Hour), comedy from Steve Agee (New Girl, The Sarah Silverman Program) and Andy Kindler (Maron, Letterman) and more! Plus, your ticket gets you a free beer after the show at our meet-and-greet sponsored by NPR's Generation Listen.

Tickets are going fast - get yours now!

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Michael Loccisano/Getty Images Entertainment/Getty Images

Merrill Garbus of tUnE-yArDs on Discovering the Ukulele, Hip Hop, and a Sense of Place

Merrill Garbus is the creative force behind the musical project tUnE-yArDs. The group’s first album, BiRd-BrAiNs, was released in 2009 and if it sounds lo-fi, it's because it is. Garbus recorded the album almost entirely on handheld voice-recorder. All those music loops? She created them by copying and pasting the sound files over and over on her computer.

tUnE-yArDs released a new album earlier this year. It’s called Nikki Nack. It still features the band's signature mix of drum loops, samples and ukulele, but it’s a much smoother-sounding production than their debut.

Garbus talks to us about why she was drawn to the ukulele as a hormonal teenager, how she fell into producing Bay area hip hop, and how to weave political and social issues into music without getting preachy.

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Landscape with Yellow Birds, Paul Klee


Memento Mori, Josh Dorman

"I Wish I'd Made That": Josh Dorman Experiments with Childlike Vision

Artists are always influenced by the work of others. And sometimes, something that 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.

Josh Dorman is a fine artist from New York. He specializes in invented landscapes, created in a mixture of collage, drawing and painting. His images play around with the ideas of time and space to create an unusual reality.

Dorman was a sophomore in college when he discovered Paul Klee and his painting Landscape With Yellow Birds. And it really affected him -- maybe too much? He'll explain.

If you’re in New York, you can see Josh Dorman’s solo exhibition, Whorled, at the Ryan Lee Gallery, through October 11.

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John Darnielle on 'Wolf in White Van', Working with Teenagers, and Artistic Responsibility

You probably know John Darnielle as lead member (and sometimes only member) of the band The Mountain Goats. His music is known for its poignant lyrics and simple instrumentation. Darnielle started the band in 1991 and has since released 14 albums.

Now, he’s written his first novel, which is long-listed for the National Book Award for Fiction.

Wolf In White Van is the story of Sean, a young man who has survived a suicide attempt, but is horribly disfigured in the process. Sean goes on to create a mail-order role-playing game, only to find out how his imagination can have real-world consequences.

Darnielle talks to Jesse about why lyrics are so important to him, subliminal messaging, and how much artistic responsibility we should assign to writers, musicians, and other creative people.

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The Outshot: The Area Man

Jesse praises the true hero of The Onion: The Area Man.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Holiday Special with John Roderick, Jonathan Coulton, The Polyphonic Spree and MBMBaM

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Jonathan Coulton
Guests: 
John Roderick
Guests: 
Tim DeLaughter
Guests: 
Justin McElroy
Guests: 
Travis McElroy
Guests: 
Griffin McElroy
Guests: 
Daniel Ralston
Guests: 
Josh Modell
Guests: 
Andrea Battleground

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Gift Giving with The AV Club: Tarantino XX and Rediscover Jigsaw Puzzles

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.

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John Roderick, Jonathan Coulton, and a Wunnerful Christmas

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.

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Cockney Accents, Gift Cards, and Christmas Music with My Brother, My Brother and Me

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.

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Tim DeLaughter on The Polyphonic Spree's Holiday Experiment

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.

Daniel Ralston is a co-host, producer and editor of The Low Times Podcast.

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The Outshot: Donny Hathaway's "This Christmas"

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".

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Tavi Gevinson, Retta, Michael Ian Black

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Tavi Gevinson
Guests: 
Retta
Guests: 
Nathan Rabin
Guests: 
Kyle Ryan
Guests: 
Michael Ian Black

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The Coup

Hip Hop and Punk Rock with The AV Club

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.

You can find Kyle, Nathan, and their AV club colleagues on the AV Club podcast Reasonable Discussions. The Onion also has a new book out called The Onion Book of Known Knowledge.

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Rookie's Tavi Gevinson on Her Teenage Experience

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.

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Photo by Zac Wolf

Michael Ian Black on Halloween and Children's Creativity

Comedian and past Bullseye guest Michael Ian Black critiques his children's Halloween costumes and reflects on their creativity, live from our very own MaxFunCon East.

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Retta on Character Evolution and "Parks and Recreation"

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.

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The Outshot: Lake Dredge Appraisal

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?

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Baratunde Thurston, Mark Frauenfelder, Stuff You Should Know

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Baratunde Thurston
Guests: 
Stuff You Should Know
Guests: 
Mark Frauenfelder


Mark Frauenfelder of Boing Boing's Recommendations

Mark Frauenfelder of Boing Boing and the Gweek podcast joins us to share his top recommendations this week: the Zeo Sleep Manager and the art blog Gurney Journey.
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Stuff You Should Know on Lucha Libre

So there's some stuff you should really know about, and maybe you don't. This week, Chuck Bryant and Josh Clark of the Stuff You Should Know podcast fill us in on the wonderful world of Lucha Libre (also known as Mexican Wrestling!).
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Comedian and Writer Baratunde Thurston

Baratunde Thurston is a stand up comedian, Director of Digital at The Onion and a "Black Representative." That is to say, he's occasionally been designated as the black guy at work, at school, or among his friends. His new book, which is part memoir and part satirical guide, is called How to Be Black.

He talks to us about staging student-led seminars about racism in high school at Sidwell Friends School in Washington, D.C., attending an extracurricular Afro-centric weekend program run by black nationalists, coming back to comedy and writing after working in the corporate world and more!
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The Outshot: Unsupervised

Jesse has us sold on the FX animated series Unsupervised and an unusual portrayal of teenagers as sincere, enthusiastic people.
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The Ecstasy of Defeat: Sports Reporting at Its Finest by the Editors of the Onion

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Do yourself a favor. The moment you grab a copy of the new The Ecstasy of Defeat: Sports Reporting at Its Finest by the Editors of the Onion – a collection of the best articles Onion Sports has to offer – flip immediately to the Forward, and then the Acknowledgements.

You’ll have plenty of time for fantastic Onion Sports pieces like “Brett Favre Demands Trade to 1996 Packers,” and “Barry Bonds Took Steroids, Reports Everyone Who Has Ever Watched Baseball” – just make sure you stretch out first with the Forward by Anabolic Steroids. Follow the exhilarating journey of this little performance-enhancer as it conquers the World Series, horse races and little league championships. “They say my time has come and gone, a brief violent explosion of human potential and shattered records, of strained connective tissue and ever-thicker necks, of towering home runs and unstoppable defense linemen,” explains Steroids. “Not a bad career for a simple synthetic hormone with relatively humble aspirations.”

The Ecstasy of Defeat is the first book presented by Onion Sports – and it has been a long time coming explains head writer and associate editor, Seth Reiss. “We’ve been working hard at it for a while,” Reiss says. “And it’s kind of cool to see the content that the editors like – and want to put in – all in one package.”

Reiss actually got his start at The Onion as a writer for Onion Sports. Now, aside from editing riffs on current events, Reiss contributes to McSweeney's, and performs in his sketch comedy group Pangea 3000. (FYI, Pangea 3000 are Sound of Young America alums and Reiss is a loyal donor). As far as The Ecstasy of Defeat goes, Reiss has few qualms about kicking the pedestal out from under major sports figures. “They’re so larger than life that it’s already so silly anyway, so its kind of funny to just bring them down a little bit,” Reiss says. “Even if a sports figure is known for being really nice, it’s funny to make him do really awful things.”

Reiss says he is a sports fan, “[b]ut I feel like my in-depth knowledge ends at about 1998.” Reiss grew up in Connellsville, Pennsylvania – a sports heavy environment just 45 minutes south of Pittsburgh – where football, hockey and high school wrestling were all huge. When asked if he was ever an athlete, Reiss answers, “I played basketball in 9th grade, and I played golf throughout high school, but overall no,” he says with a laugh.

Speaking of back home – Reiss contemplates what Ecstasy of Defeat story his mom might like best, or rather, what he might show off to convince mom her son is a funny human being. Reiss settles on “Kobe Bryant Scores 25 In Holy Shit We Elected A Black President” and maybe “Mr. Met Having Trouble Sleeping in New Home.” With Dad? “It’s even worse – he thinks I’m less funny than my mom,” Reiss says. “Anything that has to do with Pittsburgh or the Steelers he’ll probably like.” Reiss decides upon “Michael Vick Fails To Inspire Team With ‘Great’ Dogfighting Story.”

The sports world is always a whirring beehive of events and scandals, and now Ecstasy of Defeat has been added to the mix. “People are so passionate about their teams and their favorite players that it really is always a good time for sports,” Reiss says. “Because to some people sports is one of the most important things in the world.”

Well said.

This review and interview was created by intrepid MaxFun reporter Lauren Cusimano.

Culture: AV Club Picks Fall TV on The Sound of Young America

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Todd VanDerWerff
Guests: 
Erik Adams

The Fall TV season is fully underway and although there have been a few misses there's no shortage of good if not great programming. The Onion's AV Club TV Editor Todd VanDerWerff and Assistant Editor Erik Adams give the run down.

  • Homeland-Sundays on Showtime 10PM ET/PT:A CIA drama with a female anti-hero, chronicles the often wonky politics of working for the CIA.
  • 2 Broke Girls-Mondays on CBS 8:30/7:30c: Two girls in their twenties sitcom, different backgrounds collide while working at the same restaurant.
  • American Horror Story-Wednesdays on FX 10/9c: Family moves into a haunted house. From the creators of Glee.
  • Up All Night-Wednesdays on NBC 8/7c: New parents work out the kinks while Will Arnett's character is a stay at home dad. Also starring Maya Rudolph.
  • The New Girl - Tuesdays on FOX 9/8c: Zooey Deschanel stars as a girl getting over a surprise breakup, and shows off her physical comedy skills.
  • Pan Am-Sundays on NBC 10/9c Period drama surrounding the world famous airline, focusing on the pilots and stewardesses of the jet-set era.
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    The Onion News Network on IFC

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    Onion News Network - Coming To IFC January 2011

    The Onion News Network is probably my favorite thing on the internet, and I couldn't be more excited that it's coming to IFC. I visited IFC (who are the home of the show I host, The Grid) the other day in New York, and everyone is over the moon about this show. As they should be. I'm looking forward to it.

    Joad Cressbeckler v. Genetically Modified Taters

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    Joad Cressbeckler Fears Genetic Modification Causes 'Wrath-Minded Taters'

    "Tater disease what brought us Irish!"

    Joad Cressbeckler isn't just a great America. He's THE GREATEST American.

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