Bullseye

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: RJ Smith on James Brown, Comedy from Cameron Esposito, Mark Frauenfelder

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Bullseye
Guests: 
RJ Smith
Guests: 
Cameron Esposito
Guests: 
Mark Frauenfelder


All-Time Favorites with Boing Boing's Mark Frauenfelder

Boing Boing's Mark Frauenfelder joins us this week to share some all-time favorites: a great dungeon crawler for iOS called The Sword of Fargoal and Chandler Burr's The Emperor of Scent: A True Story of Perfume and Obsession, a fascinating book exploring the science of scent.

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R.J. Smith profiles the Godfather of Soul, James Brown

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.

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Comedy from Cameron Esposito

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.

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The Outshot: Cheers

Why not go where everybody goes your name? This week, Jesse recommends that you revisit Cheers. This segment previously aired July 24, 2012.

Do you have a piece of pop culture that keeps you coming back? Share your own Outshot on our forums.

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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: Fran Lebowitz, Karriem Riggins, and Mark Frauenfelder

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Bullseye
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Fran Lebowitz
Guests: 
Karriem Riggins
Guests: 
Mark Frauenfelder

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Mark Frauenfelder on The Jon Ronson Mysteries and Light Emitting Daves

Boing Boing.net and the Gweek podcast's Mark Frauenfelder joins us this week to share some top-rate pop culture picks. He recommends British author Jon Ronson's new book, Lost at Sea: The Jon Ronson Mysteries, which collects profiles of some fascinating individuals and Sir Benfro's Brilliant Balloon, a beautifully illustrated and simple to play iOS game.

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High School Expulsion and The Fear of Writing with Fran Lebowitz

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.

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Karriem Riggins on The Song That Changed My Life

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.

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The Outshot: Ice Cube's “It Was a Good Day”

"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.

Is there a song that speaks to you with what it doesn't say? Head over to the MaxFun forum and share YOUR outshot.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Stephen Tobolowsky and Kasper Hauser News

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Guests: 
Stephen Tobolowsky
Guests: 
Kasper Hauser
Guests: 
Maggie Serota
Guests: 
Tom Scharpling
Guests: 
Daniel Ralston

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Music Picks with the Low Times

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.”

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Photo credit Jim Britt

Life Stories with Stephen Tobolowsky

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.

(Click here to listen and share more of our conversation with Stephen Tobolowsky that didn't make the radio cut!)


The News with Kasper Hauser

The intrepid journalists of Kasper Hauser news team have their fingers on the pulse of fake news, and they return this week to keep you updated.

The members of Kasper Hauser are based in San Francisco and are the authors of Obama's Blackberry, Weddings of the Times, and the forthcoming Earn Your MBA On the Toilet.

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The Outshot: Frank Ocean's Channel Orange

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.

What's your favorite R&B album? Head over to the MaxFun forum and share YOUR outshot.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Vijay Iyer, Dave Hill, and Demetri Martin

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Vijay Iyer
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Andrew Noz


Andrew Noz's Picks: Rapping About a Haircut and Pencap Beats

Hip hop blogger Andrew Noz joins us again this week to recommend some of his favorite tracks of the moment. What's he listening to now? Aesop Rock's ode to a haircut in Racing Stripes and Alpoko Don's stripped down track All I Know.

Andrew Noz writes about hip hop for Cocaine Blunts and has a regular column, Diamonds and Wood, for Pitchfork.

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Vijay Iyer on the Brain, the Body, and the Experience of Music

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."

The Vijay Iyer Trio's newest album is Accelerando.

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Demetri Martin on People Watching

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.

Want to learn more about Demetri Martin? Check out our interview with him about This is a Book.

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Dave Hill Pals Around with Maximum Security Felons

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.)

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The Outshot: The Dirtbombs' Ultraglide in Black

Rage, garage punk, and R&B. The Dirtbombs' music has it all, and Jesse suggests you check out their album Ultraglide in Black.

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What's your favorite mashup of genres? Head over to the MaxFun forum and tell us YOUR outshot.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: R.A. Dickey, Coyle & Sharpe, and The AV Club

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
R.A. Dickey
Guests: 
Mal Sharpe
Guests: 
James Coyle
Guests: 
Erik Adams
Guests: 
Claire Zulkey


The Police Squad Gang

Cop Shows with Erik Adams and Claire Zulkey

This week, the AV Club’s Assistant TV Editor, Erik Adams, shares his affection for Police Squad!, the Zucker-Abrahams-Zucker classic with Leslie Nielsen. His colleague Claire Zulkey recommends Law & Order.

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New York Mets Pitcher and Author R.A. Dickey

R.A. Dickey is a pitcher for the New York Mets, and the only man in the majors currently throwing a knuckleball. His new memoir, Wherever I Wind Up: My Quest For Truth, Authenticity and the Perfect Knuckleball, is a story of perseverance more than anything. He had a difficult childhood marked by abuse and poverty, but found his gift in baseball. Early on in his career, the Texas Rangers offered Dickey a lucrative contract but retracted it when they discovered a physical abnormality that theoretically should have kept him from playing ball. Dickey then bounced back and forth between the major and minor leagues and says he floundered, personally and professionally. But he stuck with it, and worked on mastering the wildly unpredictable knuckleball pitch (and finally found stability and peace in his relationships with his family and friends). Now, at age 37 Dickey is just hitting the prime of his career while many players of his age have long since retired. If anything, the knuckleball means his best days may still be ahead of him.

R.A. sits down with us to discuss his search for peace from a troubled past, the art of throwing the perfect knuckleball, and exactly why he names his bats after fantasy swords. Wherever I Wind Up is available in bookstores now. This interview originally aired May 22, 2012.

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Comedy by Coyle & Sharpe: Robbing a Bank

To say Jim Coyle and Mal Sharpe were ahead of their time would be putting it mildly. The duo produced hundreds of man-on-the-street interviews in San Francisco during the mid-1960s, always claiming to be something they weren't, all in the name of comedy. Their efforts would go mostly unappreciated for decades, though the dedication of Mal's daughter Jennifer would ensure their work would eventually find an audience.

In this classic clip, the pair try to convince a Navy serviceman to rob a bank for them. You can hear more from Coyle & Sharpe right here on MaximumFun.org, where their archives have been converted to The Coyle & Sharpe Podcast. This segment originally aired May 22, 2012.

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The Outshot: The Best Show on WFMU

On the Outshot this week, Jesse makes the rather unconventional move of recommending a radio show that isn't this one -- but you'll want to check it out all the same. It's The Best Show on WFMU, the music show turned character-based comedy call-in program whose cryptic host Tom Scharpling can satirize the role of the radio host while perfecting it in the same breath. This segment originally aired May 22, 2012.

Is there a show on the radio that you consider appointment listening? We want to hear it, so let us know on the MaxFun Forum by picking your own Outshot.

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Bullseye: Kurt Andersen, Ari Graynor, Chris Fairbanks

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Kurt Andersen
Guests: 
Ari Graynor
Guests: 
Chris Fairbanks
Guests: 
Keith Phipps
Guests: 
Marah Eakin

Our show is guest hosted this week by Jordan Morris. Jesse Thorn will return next week. Check out more from Jordan on the podcast Jordan, Jesse, Go! or on his blog.


Music and a Movie with Keith Phipps and Marah Eakin

AV Club editor Keith Phipps recommends Quadrophenia, a film based on the rock opera of the same name by The Who. Music Editor Marah Eakin recommends the single I Will Wait by Mumford & Sons.

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Kurt Andersen’s True Believers

Kurt Andersen is the host of Studio 360, co-founder of the satirical Spy Magazine and a novelist. He brought his love of research and cultural criticism to bear when he penned the new novel True Believers, the story of a high profile lawyer who steps away from a nomination to the Supreme Court. True Believers follows her on a quest to piece together a mysterious episode in her childhood during the Cold War and the age of the spy novel.

Andersen fondly recalls his own childhood interests in espionage, and he discusses the leap of faith required for a trained journalist to stop doing research and begin trusting the imagination. The end result is a novel which weaves together generational politics, 1960s counter-culture, and a children's game that becomes all too real.

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MaxFunCon 2012, photo by liezelwashere

Comedian Chris Fairbanks on Being Mugged

Ever had a neighborly mugging experience? Comedian and artist Chris Fairbanks knows what it’s like. He told us this story at the fourth annual Max Fun Con.

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For a Good Time, Call... Ari Graynor

Ari Graynor plays a lot of outrageous, messy roles -- she was a self-destructive college student on The Sopranos, and she played a drunken best friend in Nick and Norah's Infinite Playlist -- but her characters have heart and a kind of innocence.

The same is true of her most recent role of Katie Steele, the brash-yet-vulnerable young Manhattanite who runs a phone sex line in the new movie For a Good Time, Call. The film is in select theaters nationwide this week.

Ari talks to us about the 80s films that inspired her, the story's depiction of female friendship, and the strange intimacy and appeal of phone sex.

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The Outshot: No Use for a Name

Jordan shares his passion for the music of the late Tony Sly, of punk band No Use for a Name.

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Got a favorite band you want to spread the word about? Head on over to the MaxFun forum and pick your own Outshot.

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The Great Reveal - Our Flea Market Finds!

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We can't contain our excitement about our new flea market finds for Maximum Fun HQ -- discovered with American Picker Danielle Colby -- and we've got to share them with you. Enjoy!


Photo by Casey Rodgers/Invision for History/AP Images

Danielle displays one of her finds from a booth with classroom pull-downs.



Photo by Casey Rodgers/Invision for History/AP Images

Jesse and Danielle point out the find of the day: a fully-functional rocketship ride, perfectly in line with the Maximum Fun logo! At 10 cents a ride, we'll make our money back in no time.


And as promised, a video of Bullseye editor Nick White showing us the rocketship in action! (FYI: There's some NSFW language going on.)

Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Robert Glasper, Pendleton Ward, and Davy Rothbart

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Show: 
Bullseye
Guests: 
Robert Glasper
Guests: 
Pendleton Ward
Guests: 
Davy Rothbart
Guests: 
Mark Frauenfelder


Recommendations from Mark Frauenfelder of Boing Boing

Mark Frauenfelder of Boing Boing and the Gweek podcast brings us this week's culture recommendations: The Harvey Girls: Little Audrey, Little Dot, and Little Lotta and The Internet Archive's Classic TV feed.

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Jazz Pianist Robert Glasper

Robert Glasper is a jazz pianist and the band leader of the Robert Glasper Experiment. Glasper's life in music began early, as his mother, a jazz and blues vocalist, would often bring her young son along to clubs with her, where he would watch from backstage. His music today blends classic jazz influences with soul music and modern hip-hop, forging something fresh and new out of a genre he says is in dire need of a shake-up. His new album, Black Radio, includes collaborations with hip-hop artists like Lupe Fiasco, Mos Def, as well as old friend and frequent collaborator Bilal.

Glasper sits down with us to reveal some of his more embarrassing musical influences, reflect on working alongside the late J. Dilla, and dish on what he feels is wrong with today's jazz culture. (Originally aired April 10, 2012)

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Found Things, with Davy Rothbart

Davy Rothbart is the editor of Found Magazine, an annual publication collecting lost letters, tests, essays and notes, all found and submitted by readers. Found put out its first issue nearly ten years ago, and Davy has been a regular guest on The Sound of Young America ever since. In his first appearance on Bullseye, Rothbart recounts the cryptic tales found within the pages of some of his favorite lost treasures, brought to him by readers on Found's national tours. (Originally aired April 10, 2012)

If you've found something special you'd like to send in, either digitally or by mail, visit www.FoundMagazine.com/submit.

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Animator Pendleton Ward, creator of Adventure Time

Pendleton Ward is a writer and animator, and the creator of the Cartoon Network series Adventure Time. The show follows the adventures of Finn the boy and Jake the shape-shifting dog, through a magical post-apocalyptic Earth. It's very witty and full of humor, and is one of those rare programs that works just as well for kids as it does for adults. Pen is a born artist, who even during this interview can't help but capture his host on paper. He joins Jesse to discuss drawing as a comedic outlet, the delicate art of writing a quality fart joke, and the influence of Dungeons & Dragons on the fantastical quests of Adventure Time. The show just began its fourth season; you can catch new episodes Monday nights on Cartoon Network. (Originally aired April 10, 2012)

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The Outshot: BESTIE x BESTIE

For this week's Outshot, Jesse delves into the often contrived world of quirky viral videos and finds something genuinely hilarious: the web series BESTIE x BESTIE, starring Jenny Slate and Gabe Liedman. You might know Slate as a former featured player on SNL or as the writer and voice of another internet smash, Marcel The Shell With Shoes On. In BESTIE x BESTIE she and best friend Liedman take turns trying desperately to remain serious while the other does their best to make them crack. The results are often as funny as anything on the internet. (Originally aired April 10, 2012)

Is there a web series that tickles your funny-bone like none other? Help it go viral by sharing it on the MaxFun Forum and picking your own Outshot.

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Bullseye with Jesse Thorn: Elvis Mitchell, Kevin Barnes, and My Brother, My Brother and Me

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Bullseye
Guests: 
Elvis Mitchell
Guests: 
Kevin Barnes
Guests: 
Alex Zalben
Guests: 
Brian Heater
Guests: 
Travis McElroy
Guests: 
Griffin McElroy
Guests: 
Justin McElroy


Comic Books with Alex Zalben and Brian Heater

Our comic book experts return with new graphic bounty! Alex Zalben recommends the new series Mind MGMT by Matt Kindt, who spins a tale of a plane crash, memory loss and psychic spies. The second issue in the series is out now. Brian Heater suggests you check out Angelman by Nicholas Mahler, which is a story of a man who has superpowers that might be milder or meeker than those of most heroes -- fighting figurative fire with qualities like being a "good listener".

You can find Alex Zalben writing for MTV Geek or co-hosting NYC's Comic Book Club Live. Brian Heater is a journalist and the Editor-In-Chief of The Daily Crosshatch, which highlights alternative comics.

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Elvis Mitchell, Film Critic

Elvis Mitchell is a critic who's brought his insights on film to the pages of the New York Times and the L.A. Weekly; he's also interviewed scores of film industry writers, actors and directors over fifteen years of hosting the LA-based public radio show The Treatment. He's even ventured into filmmaking himself, producing a series of documentaries about race and success called The Black List.

But while he's been in the business of film criticism a long time, his manner or tastes can't be called conventional. Mitchell talks about his wide-ranging cultural appetite (which has room for well-executed films like Pootie Tang), the interplay between television and film, and how he got into the business of analyzing pop culture.

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Pop Culture Advice from My Brother, My Brother and Me

The brothers McElroy -- Travis, Griffin and Justin -- are in the business of giving advice, though they don't suggest you take it. This week, they answer listeners' queries about the collision of pop culture and personal relationships. The McElroy brothers host a weekly podcast called My Brother, My Brother, and Me.

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of Montreal Frontman Kevin Barnes

Kevin Barnes founded the experimental pop group of Montreal over fifteen years ago, and the band's sound has morphed as often as (and alongside) Barnes' various stage personae and personal ups and downs. Of Montreal's original twee pop sensibility gave way to new sounds and increasingly complicated arrangements over the years, as the band experimented with electronic, R&B, funk, disco and psychedelic music within a pop framework.

Barnes discusses why he writes so much of the band's music on his own, the theatricality of the band's live performances (from elaborate costumes and skits, to a live horse), and more.

The band's latest release, Paralytic Stalks, is out now.

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The Outshot: The Late Show with David Letterman

Jesse explains what makes David Letterman such an especially gifted late night host in a world of very good late night hosts.

Got a cultural gem of your own? Pick your own Outshot on the MaxFun Forum.>

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