Writing

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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You can 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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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Maria Bamford and George Saunders [R]

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New to Bullseye? Subscribe to the show in iTunes or via the RSS feed, or check out our SoundCloud page to share any or all of these interviews or recommendations!

Maria Bamford: Comedy's Orchid

Maria Bamford's comedy is weird and wonderfully distinctive. For example: she recorded her last stand up special at home, in her living room. The seating? Her couch. The audience? Her parents. She performed her set with breaks "off-stage" to take cookies out of the oven and administer medicine to her pet pug. Her comedy takes on a number of difficult issues, ones that are personal to her -- mental illness, suicidal thoughts, or tough family dynamics (she describes her family's favorite pastime as "Joy Whack-a-Mole"). But she doesn't use humor as a shield. She uses it to confront an issue, point-blank.

Bamford talks to us about why she chose to perform a special in front of her parents, processing awful experiences or feelings into jokes, and why she describes herself as "the orchid of comedy".

The Special Special Special is available now and streaming on Netflix. Her new Comedy Central CD / DVD special, Ask Me About My New God is now available.

This interview originally aired on 2/12/13.

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Dan Deacon on "The Song That Changed My Life"

Dan Deacon is a Baltimore-based composer and electronics musician who has released over a dozen albums since 2003. He talks about why a player piano composition by Conlon Nancarrow changed his life and the way he made music.

This interview originally aired on 1/03/12.

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George Saunders on Creative Challenge and Financial Pressure

George Saunders could have been a geophysicist. In fact, he was one. He graduated from the Colorado School of Mines and worked in the oil fields of Sumatra. He came to fiction writing a little later in life, attending Syracuse University's creative writing program (where he now teaches).

Saunders is now well-recognized as one of the greatest short story writers and satirists of our time. He's been awarded a MacArthur "Genius" grant and a Guggenheim Fellowship, along with piles of literary accolades for his collections, which include Pastoralia and CivilWarLand in Bad Decline. His stories often explore a world much like our own, just slightly more grotesque -- societies that are terrifying and recognizable. His writing is incisive, sad, and also really funny. His collection, Tenth of December, is available now in paperback.

Saunders talks to us about how people interpret luck and what they do with it, drawing inspiration from a disturbing dream, and unyielding financial pressure (the kind that doesn't even lift when you win a major award).

This interview originally aired on 2/12/13.

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The Outshot: William Carlos Williams' "Danse Russe"

Jesse ruminates on alone time and... William Carlos Williams' "Danse Russe".

This segment originally aired on 2/12/13.

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Humor Writing Class with Kasper Hauser at the San Francisco Grotto

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Rob Baedeker and James Reichmuth of Kasper Hauser will be teaching a class on writing and workshopping humor for the page (e.g. comic essays, genre parodies, humor-book concepts and short comic fiction). The six-week course will be held at the San Francisco Writers' Grotto and is open to all folks, including those who don't consider themselves comedy writers.

The class starts on September 19th and you can find out more information, including how to register, here.

Lynda Barry, author of Picture This and What It Is: Interview on The Sound of Young America

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Lynda Barry

Lynda Barry is a legendary comic strip author whose Ernie Pook's Comeek has run for many years in alternative newspapers around the country. Her two most recent books, What It Is and Picture This are about writing and creating art, respectively. The former won an Eisner Award, comics' most prestigious prize. The books take the form of a notebook, filled with text, collage and drawings. The content is based on a series of seminars Barry has taught on getting creative work done. In our interview, Barry talks with Jesse about activating the brain and the benefit of doing creative work that doesn't need to fall into the dichotomy of beautiful/not beautiful, good art/not good art, or being productive/being nonproductive.

JESSE THORN: It’s The Sound of Young America, I’m Jesse Thorn. My guest on the program is Lynda Barry. She’s one of the nation’s most accomplished comics artists, graphic novelists, comic strip writers, artists, etc. etc. Her comics have run in alternative newspapers across the country for many, many, many years and more recently she’s turned much of her time towards writing longer works. Her book of just a couple of years ago, What It Is, was about the process of writing, and her latest, Picture This, is about the process of making art. They’re beautiful multimedia comics collage works that, as I said, are about process.

Lynda Barry, welcome to The Sound of Young America.

LYNDA BARRY: I’m delighted to be here.

Click Here for a Full Transcript.

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